Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Day at the Arb

Yesterday Rachel and I went to Art at the Arb in a nearby town. This is always one of our favorite outings of the year.
The arboretum is full of 100 year old trees, including many that are rare in Kansas like loblolly pine and bald cypress. There are woods and meadows, a lake, a nature trail, and dozens of flower beds, both large and small.
It is a sweetly old fashioned place, with scenes of such loveliness everywhere you look.







To make it even more fun, this weekend the arboretum was hosting an arts and crafts fair, with live music and and food vendors. It was the sort of event where you can listen to live jazz or bluegrass while browsing through vintage aprons, jewery made from old buttons, fairy gardens, homemade soap, and furniture created from fallen logs. All of it was delightfully entertaining.
Rachel and I wandered through the booths and treated ourselves to lunch and ice cream and pink lemonade with a paper parasol.

Rachel was disappointed that the world's greatest swing was no longer there. She and Katherine consider time spent on that swing as some of the best moments of their childhoods. But Rae was content to listen to music and people watch while I roamed around taking pictures.

We tried out the new bridge over the far side of the lake...
... and discovered the limestone trail through the nature trail.
We sat on the porch swing overlooking the grounds...

... and had long conversations. And, as always when we're at the Arb, we had a photo shoot with the beautiful flowers in the background.




We went home tired and happy and both of agreed that our day at the Arb was pretty much perfect.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Lilacs

A dozen or so years ago, my friend Cynthia, who taught in the classroom next to mine, brought some lilac plants to school. They were bare sticks, not much bigger than a pencil, but she had her kindergarten students plant them at the edge of our playground. They dug holes and the kids dumped in some soil and then they put up a little plastic fence to keep the grounds crew from mowing over them. One of the summer maintenance workers watered the lilacs that first summer and somehow three of the plants survived. And grew. One fall during a drought, I hauled water at recess and poured it around the dusty trunks. Otherwise, the lilacs have had no special care at all. They have been almost entirely ignored and still they've grown. The biggest bush is almost as tall as I am. And every spring they fill the playground with their heavenly scent. Cynthia retired several years ago, but every time I look at those lilacs I think of her. This week the lilacs were in full bloom, so when Rachel wore her favorite lavender dress yesterday, I just had to have a little lilac photo shoot.
Sometimes she gets a bit annoyed with my photo obsessions, but she's a good sport.
And both the lilacs and the girl are just lovely.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

The End of the Symphony

Katherine had her last youth symphony concert tonight.
She has loved being a part of this group. She has been excited to go to rehearsal every single Sunday afternoon. She has practiced without reminders every morning before school and as the year has gone on, her practicing has become longer and she has learned to work the difficult sections again and again.
And because of all that work, she has become a better musician. In August, she was near the back of the second violins and grateful to be there. In January, there were seating auditions again and she moved up five chairs, all the way to the front of the second violins. She beat out musicians much older and with more experience and she was so proud!
Kate has enjoyed learning new, challenging music. She has been impressed by the ceremony of performances. And she has adored hanging out with the other musicians. These quirky, nerdy, musical kids are her friends and her mentors. They have introduced to teenhood and the complex culture of musicians. And they have been patient and welcoming and encouraging to her.
Katherine hasn't figured out what she's going to do on Sunday afternoons, now, and she is already missing the seniors who have been such wonderful role models for her. But she's practicing her audition piece and looking forward to August, when she can once again be part of the symphony.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I'm Dreaming of a White Easter

After an entire winter with no more than a few flurries, we woke up to this Easter morning!
Snow. On Easter. With birds chirping. It was all a bit surreal! The girls put on their Easter dresses and we went to an indoor version of our church's usual outdoor early Easter service.
The rest of the morning was crazy, but fun. We visited a friend who has been sick for months and sang to him, We stuffed ourselves at the covered dish breakfast at church. We went to the regular Easter service, where I played bells and the girls sang.
We listened to music and greeted friends and shouted "Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!".
By noon, the snow had melted and the sun was out and it was spring again. So the girls posed for the obligatory Easter pictures.


Then we went to Granny and Poppy's to stuff ourselves again. Aunt Robie and Uncle Brandon and two of the Chicago cousins were there, so we had fun chatting and teasing. And now it is Easter afternoon and time for the adults to take naps and the kids to play with the neighborhood kids. Happy Easter!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fun with Frosting and Food Dye

Granny invited the girls over for an afternoon of cookie decorating and egg dyeing. Granny does love a good mess! So do the girls!

Katherine enjoys icing cookies...
...and Rachel loves to add sprinkles, so they were a good team.




Granny had seen directions for mew ways of dyeing eggs, so we tried them. The first involved shaving cream and food coloring.





This was certainly a fun way to dye, or at least play, but the eggs didn't absorb much of the color. Next we tried uncooked rice with food coloring added.



We spent time remembering past years' egg dyeing and some of the many ways we used dye. We laughed a lot about Rachel's first Easter, when she was two. We stripped her down to her diaper and watched her fling eggs into dye cups, splash dye everywhere, and even try to drink the vinegar scented color! Today's dyeing was a bit less dramatic, but still a lot of fun. And our finished eggs really were pretty. I'm so glad that messy Granny has made this a tradition!


I love birthdays!

the ladybug cake

The Ladybug Sisters

Sisters

Sisters
Jie Jie and Mei Mei

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Peeking through the windows

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
Katherine and her toothless smile

Park Pictures

Park Pictures
The little one leads the way