Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006

Dear Rachel,

I'm here, coughing and sniffling, but ready and rarin' to greet the New Year in the traditional Kilburn fashion: eating junk food and playing board games in our pajamas.

Really, I just wanted to say:

Happy Birthday, Lena!



Sunday, December 24, 2006

... and a Merry Christmas, too!

Dear Rachel,

Well, the presents are bought and wrapped, most of the decorations are up, and Rose is napping in preparation of a grand feast at Aunt Jill's house tonight. I, myself, am feeling quite merry, and ready to celebrate. All of my choirs sounded very nice at their last rehearsals (please God they'll sound very nice this afternoon and at Midnight and tomorrow morning, too), so I'm eager for church as well as for good food and family.

I hope you had a great party to close your eight nights of celebration, and that Lena had lots of fun, too. I'm really looking forward to seeing you three in January and letting our two big girls have a grand afternoon together. I can't believe they're going to be TWO!

I pick up the knitting when I can -- I haven't had many free moments lately -- but I'm hoping to do a lot of it when Andy's home the next couple of weeks. March will be here before we know it!



Monday, December 18, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An Outing to the Vinyl Cafe

Dear Rachel,

Andy and I had a fun date night last night: we went to Windsor to hear Stuart McLean.

CBC Radio Two -- 89.9 FM from Windsor, ON -- has been the radio station of choice here in the Kilburn house since WQRS went heads-up in 1997. We are glad that WRCJ brought classical music back to the Detroit airwaves last fall, and still seems to be going strong, but we've developed a real affection for CBC, especially their program "The Vinyl Cafe" which we try to listen to every Saturday morning.

It was very exciting to discover that Stuart McLean et al were going to be visiting Windsor, right across the river, on their Christmas tour, and we knew we had to go.

What a treat it was! Great music from The Bebop Cowboys, Roxanne Potvin, Murray McLaughlin, and THREE Dave and Morley stories. Much fun and laughter.



Monday, December 11, 2006

More Sesame Street clips

Dear Rachel,

Are you tired of these yet?

Two little girls

On the subway

Me, neither.



Friday, December 8, 2006

That Toddlin' Town

Dear Rachel,

We -- my mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law, husband, and assorted children -- took a day trip to Chicago this past Tuesday. I am only now recovered enough to write about it. No, it wasn't that bad, but it was quite a looong day, then I came down with a bit of a sinus thing that has had me sniffling and crabby and sleeping whenever possible.
We took the 7:46 train from Dearborn (the one that actually left at 8:20). We got a great spot at the end of the car where there were four seats facing each other on one side and an open space for a wheelchair (or two toddlers and a pre-schooler) on the other. Don't worry, if anyone who had needed the space had come aboard, we would have gotten out of the way immediately. Rose actually slept for about an hour on the trip there.

We arrived at Chicago's Union Station (now that's a train station!) at around 1 p.m., a little later than we really wanted to, but at least the kids hadn't been strapped in to car seats for the previous 5 hours and were actually kind of ready for some stroller time. Here's Rose and me, myself wearing my blue Coronet and my Ravenclaw scarf.

My mom had invited my 76-year-old grandmother -- Nana -- along, because Nana had never been to Chicago, and mom thought Nana would enjoy a day with all her kids. The invitation was conditional, however, upon Nana being willing to use a wheelchair. It's a bit of a walk from the station to Marshall Field's, nothing too unmanageable, but my grandmother can't walk briskly anymore. She reluctantly agreed. So we're hurrying along in the sunny, bitter cold day, and the wheelchair hits a bump at just the right angle and speed, and Nana ends up on the sidewalk, along with Ramona, who had been riding in her lap. Shannon, who had been pushing, was in tears. It seemed to take forever to get Nana back into the chair, though I know it was only a few seconds. She was okay; she didn't even get a bruise from it, but we were all a little shaken up from it.

This picture was post-tumble. We were all feeling much better by then, as you can see. We were almost to Marshall Field's and a late lunch. Mom really wanted to treat us all to lunch in the Walnut Room, and it was a treat.

The Walnut Room is beautiful, but at this time of year, there is a breathtaking two-and-a-half story Christmas Tree in the center of it. This year, it was decorated with Wedgewood ornaments and a topper designed by Vera Wang. They don't take reservations during the Christmas season, and you can wait hours to eat, but we hit it at just the right time of afternoon, and didn't have to wait at all.

We got to sit right under the tree. The service was polite, but slow! We had only enough time after eating to visit Santa, go across the street to the Christkindlmarket for 15 minutes, then we had to head back to the station to catch the 6:00 train.

Rose was not in the mood for Santa Claus. She had about enough patience to give him a high five, but that was it.

Andy took this shot of the Tiffany dome in the atrium.
It's not the best shot of it (there are better ones here), but it leads to this funny little side-story: Andy showed Rose the ceiling, using her baby word for it, "ta-ta." Don't ask me how or why she started calling the ceiling the ta-ta. She called our bed "ho-ta" for ages, and we have no idea why. Anyway, he then continued talking with her, saying, "They sure have beautiful ta-tas here. I love looking at the ta-tas." It wasn't until I was nearly crying with laughter that it registered in his head what he was saying, and he had to explain to the woman who was in the elevator with us why he was saying this.

Here is the atrium from the ground floor. The ceiling shot was taken from one of the 5th floor openings.

The Christkindlmarket was lovely, and I had a $7 mug of hot spiced wine. It was so worth it.

After a dinner of Gerber Graduates carrots and Cheerios on the train, Rose blessedly slept all the way back home.

And, as Cozy was my project of choice for the train trip, it is now longer than it is wide -- hooray!



Friday, December 1, 2006

Exceptional Child

Dear Rachel,

I've been re-reading this book over the last week, and I was stopped by a discussion in the chapter about preschoolers that concerned "hothouse children." Many of these kids, later in life, fall apart when they can't maintain their high level of achievement. Now, I was definitely not a hothouse kid, but I did read early, I started piano lessons when I was four, I always did well in school, and I was basically thought of as "the smart kid." You know how this is.

My parents, unlike the parents of hothouse children, never pushed me to achieve. They followed my lead -- I loved to read, they bought more books. I had a talent, they continued to pay for lessons as long as they could. I got all A's, they told me they were proud of me. They encouraged me in everything I chose to do. I never felt from them the pressures that hothouse children feel.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been a music major. If I had followed the route many "smart kids" do and pursued pre-med or engineering. High school was so easy for me. I never learned to study because I never had to. University was a brand new world, and I was challenged to re-work how I did homework, how I prepared for tests, how I scheduled my time because I wasn't absorbing things as easily. It was a bit of a reality check. I still made it through fairly well, but I wasn't so sure I was a "smart kid" anymore. A bit of my basic self-image was changed forever, but I was still me. If I had tried to go into a more scientific field, would I have been utterly crushed? We may never know.

I do love my life now. I still read voraciously. I (obviously) am still making music. But I'm not an ambitious achiever, and I don't always feel like the smart one. And you know what? That's okay with me.