Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Pageant

Christmas Eve is always a relatively crazy day for our family, as most pastor's families can attest. The day usually starts out fairly calm and normal, but by mid-afternoon we're getting ready to head out to the first of three services here in Girdwood.

The first service is the Pageant, which is a 'kid' service. Kids dress up as people in the nativity story and assemble on a little stage in a sort of 'tableau', creating a visual depiction as scripture passages are read and carols are sung. Moriah and Susannah signed up to be readers and we thought Abigail and Bethany might be able to handle being animals for the shepherds to shepherd.

At the initial meeting to pass out costumes, they decided that they'd be donkeys. Abigail was a gray donkey and Bethany was a spotted donkey. I was hopeful at this point that they might go through with it.

The little girls missed the first real rehearsal because they were at Little Bears and it was nap time. I wasn't too worried because I didn't think a rehearsal would make much sense to them anyway.

The only time they were able to practice was 1.5 hours before the actual pageant (and this after a nap that wasn't quite the usual length). Bethany dressed up, walked in and sat on the stage like a champ. Abigail was an entirely different, um, animal. She didn't want her costume on at first, until Moriah got it on her. She did walk in with the shepherds but didn't want to sit at first. Then when she did sit, she made weird blowing sounds with her fingers in her mouth. Yes, at that point I was rethinking her role in the pageant.

Snacks and a video awaited the pageant participants to fill the time until the pageant started, which made me hopeful that Abigail would have time to settle and maybe find a change of heart. *snort* Nope. When it was time to line up, she refused to get her costume on, so I told her she could stay with Mommy. Bethany lined right up with all the other kids, and was fine when I left the room to go find a seat.

My attempts to sit with Abigail were initially successful. Until she saw her big sisters sitting along the window, waiting for their turns to read. Up to Moriah she ran. Followed by me, taking her back to our seat. When Bethany came in with the shepherds, she sat on her spot and was everything Abigail was not (and yes, in my head I was saying "why can't you be more like your sister?" to Abigail). As Abigail tried to leave my lap again, I reminded her the deal was either with Mommy or up on stage.

Of course, she wanted her costume on and she went up on the stage for a moment. Or half a moment. Only after Moriah agreed to sit on the steps on the side of the stage. That didn't last long and even caused Bethany to give up her 'perfect child' status momentarily when she ran off stage toward Susannah. Bethany got back in place, Abigail departed for good.

That's when I tried to get Abigail to sit back with me. ha. Further attempts to get Abigail to stay seated were met with disdain and then outright defiance. And some small screams. And some louder screams. And with Mommy grabbing her up and walking out (and muttering under her breath and giving strained smiles to those folks I knew who were giving me sympathetic smiles). And with some more screams in the hallway.

It was lovely. Knowing my kid was the disruptive one. The Pastor's Kid making such a ruckus. And know what else? Through all the herculean efforts to control my willful child, I was wearing a new sweater. A nice warm sweater in fact. Not the wisest wardrobe choice for the evening. Especially because I knew in my heart of hearts that this probably wouldn't go smoothly. Should have trusted my instincts and waited until next year.

Here are a couple of photos of our donkeys.

This is during rehearsal, when it looked like Abigail would participate.

Sorry it's so fuzzy, but you can still tell how cute
Bethany was, sitting on the edge of the stage.

I had several people tell me that next year it'll be better. Hmph. Feeling a little Grinchy about that.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Girdwood kind of day

And what that means is rain. Lots of rain. On top of the snow. In huge slushy piles. With icy roads and ankle-deep puddles.

I love living in Girdwood. Love winter. Love the snow.

Don't love the rain that we get during winter from time to time.

Rain, rain, go away. Come again sometime next spring. Or fall.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Little Artist

Abigail likes to draw. And color. And 'pay paydoh'. And paint. She's our only kid who will color with anything she finds on anything she finds. We have to watch Abigail carefully whenever her older sisters get out craft supplies.

She draws on her little Magna Doodle a lot. Animals, mostly. Animals that are actually recognizable. (once she tells you what they are *grin*)

Her first little picture was a couple of months ago, of belugas. Ovals with eyes.
Recently, she's drawn a dinosaur, complete with a ridged back and legs and a head.

Today she drew a deer. You could tell where she had drawn a head, legs and possibly antlers.
Then she drew a mommy duck with a baby duck. It was a duck shape and had 'tail feathers' and the little baby was nestled against its side.

A little artist in the making?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas Concert tonight, random toddlerisms

Well, it's really called the Holiday Concert. But in my head I still tend to call it the Christmas Concert.

We were treated to some very good instrumental music at tonight's concert. The beginning band played first and did a great job with their three pieces. Moriah had a 'solo' for The Little Drummer Boy-like song that she did very well with. Then the beginning orchestra played very well. Very. There are only four students (1 violin, 2 violas, 1 cello) and they were outstanding. Played harmony in one song and everything. The intermediate band played pretty well, too. It's a mix of band and orchestra and has a wider range of instruments.

The individual songs by class were 'recycled' songs: familiar Christmas songs with school-related lyrics. There were a couple of CD-skipping errors; one was with the Kindy class and resulted in a do-over and then a huge round of applause for their sheer cuteness. Typical school concert stuff.

We brought the little girls along and they were great audience members. They watched, spellbound, for most of it. Abigail, especially, kept a watch out for her sisters. Susannah was in the 'extra' choir number and Abigail was searching in vain for Moriah, looking a little perplexed when told 'Iyah' wasn't up there.

Now for a couple of recently heard expressions and 'behaviors' at the Doepken house....

Bethany has taken a liking to 'four minutes' as a time frame for almost everything. If Abigail wants to share a toy, Bethany needs it "for 4 more minutes". Or if she is supposed to go upstairs for bed, it's "in 4 minutes". Kinda cute, and we have no idea where it came from.

A couple of weeks ago, Abigail bumped her elbow on the glider rocker. She tried to kiss it and said "Sorry elbow".

Bethany is waiting a little impatiently for her 'stonking' to come in the mail. Abigail has gotten her 'sock' already. (needlepoint stockings from Lands' End)

Both little girls will happily join in (or begin on their own) if you sing "Livin' on a Prayer", complete with hand motions and appropriate emotional inflection. In fact, tonight Bethany broke into song, sounding a little like a smoker with a fairly deep, gruff delivery. They will also sing a little "Party Like a Rockstar" if you ask.

Abigail seems to be more inclined to sing in general and can be heard singing various songs throughout the day.

Some popular songs asked for at bedtime: On Top of Spaghetti, C Is for Cookie, Oleanna, Oh Susannah, Jesus Loves Me.

Hmmm...I feel like I need a catchy way to end this post.

I got nothing.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rocking around the Christmas Tree

We have a fake tree. Yes, I admitted it. We bought it back in Kenai after our first two Christmases in Alaska.

Two years of attempting to keep a live tree watered enough. (ha!)

Two years of failing and watching it shed needles. (sigh)

LOTS of needles. (ow)

Everywhere. (darn ineffective vacuum)

So, artificial tree it was. A pretty decent one that has held up pretty well these last 10 years or so. Color coded and easy to assemble.

Here is Jim doling out the branches, the kids 'fluffing' them and putting them in place.

More kids assembling. Note Samuel's choice of glamorous headwear.

Samuel in his beret, Moriah showing the infamous Eeyore snow globe ornament from 2000 and 2007 (just ask her about it sometime).

Susannah smilingly setting special somethings.

Abigail and Bethany helping put some ornaments on, too.

Here is where Abigail began putting ornaments and then Bethany followed suit.

The Christmas Doorknob?

Jim exhibited a very strange behavior while putting ornaments on.
I had no idea he felt that way toward butterflies.

Once the ornaments were on, attention turned toward putting the angel on top. Our angel has been around for about 20 years or so. Maybe a little less. Jim made her at a church Advent 'crafty' night back when he was at Wabash College. I made an identical one that I think we have somewhere. She's been our angel for our entire married life, as far as I remember (almost 18 years!) She is starting to show her age, so who knows how much longer we'll have her atop our tree.

Each year the older kids have the requisite "Who does the angel this year?" conversation. Over the years, we established a complex equation for satisfying the kids' desires to light the yule log, put a piece nightly into the Advent calendar and put the angel on the tree. They would cycle through each thing, keeping things as even as possible. This year, Samuel was quite sure it was his year. Quite sure.

He even had an 'argument' all ready: he'd do this year, then the four sisters could go in order. He'd be leaving home in a few years and he really wanted to do the angel this year. ?? Jim and I countered by suggesting letting the little girls do it this year together and that he could do it next year. So we tried that. *snort*

Here we are, little girls on my and Jim's shoulders, trying to get Abigail to place the angel on the top bough. Abigail, bless her heart, had no idea what to do (we should have known that!).

Then I tried handing the angel to Bethany and lifting her high enough to get it on the top. *double snort* Notice her death grip on my forehead and me holding the angel. At least Bethany looks happy.

Then it was Bubby to the rescue!
To his credit, he didn't say "told you so."

And, at last, our tree was assembled, decorated and ready to enjoy.

Lovely sight. *contented sigh*

Friday, December 11, 2009

Successful auditions

Two more instruments invaded our house this year, the year that the girls could choose an instrument for 6th grade band (or orchestra). Susannah chose flute and Moriah chose percussion. FYI, if you're wondering, beginning percussion is a small set of 'bells' (looks like a xylophone) and a drum pad (not a 'real' drum...yet). They have both done well with their respective instruments and are part of a small band at school.

An opportunity to audition for an all-district 6th grade honor band was presented a couple of weeks ago and Moriah decided she'd like to audition. Susannah was less than enthusiastic, but I encouraged her to think about it since we'd be going in for Moriah anyway. Susannah eventually decided to audition as well and we three ladies went into Anchorage yesterday right after school to audition.

When we arrived, we saw that there were many kids waiting in the hallway to audition. Susannah noticed right away that there were a lot of flutes. The girls headed into the practice room, where we were met with a relative cacophony of instruments practicing. Quite a difference to the music room in Girdwood. The girls warmed up, running through their scales and songs, and then we joined the throngs in the hallway, trying to figure out where to go.

A kind parent pointed out that the audition rooms were labeled, so we found the flute line (with about 10 kids in it) and we found the percussion line (very short). Moriah got into her audition room first and the adjudicator took his time, showing her something on the snare drum, talking, listening, etc. Susannah had a longer wait (but she was happily chatting with the other kids in line) and I had assumed she'd still be waiting when Moriah got done. Not so. I turned around and she wasn't there anymore. They had opened up another audition room to make things go faster.

Moriah got out of her audition just before Susannah was done. Moriah was bubbling over with excitement and was really happy with how her audition went. I watched Susannah come out of the little practice room and could tell her audition wasn't as positive. She looked like she was about to cry. I listened to both girls describe their auditions and it became clear that they had completely different experiences. I was sorry it hadn't gone smoothly for Susannah but I was so proud of both girls for making the effort to audition in the first place.

I ended up writing a note to the music department this morning to comment on the very different experiences of the girls. Not sure what I thought it would accomplish, but my momma heart wanted to acknowledge and try to 'fix' the negative audition Susannah went through.

By the time I got home tonight, there was a nice reply from the music department. I appreciated that they heard my concerns and gave me a little more information to help me understand the audition process.

Along with that email came another...the girls had been chosen to be in the honor band! When I told them, Susannah's mouth dropped open and she just stared at me. Moriah (if I remember correctly) did a fist pump. We'll have to do some schedule shifting once practices start in January, but that will all work out eventually.

I'm so proud of those girlios!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another lapse

Yes, it's been a little bit again between posts. Sorry! I've been sick and busy and sick of being busy.

But, until I have some time to upload some photos of us decorating our Christmas tree, here is a little photo love for those of you wondering what our 'little' family is looking like these days. We had those family photos taken and I've gotten the pictures back. Our wonderful photog friend emailed me a digital version of one our better poses so I could put it on the blog. That was really sweet!

Here it is (please forgive Samuel's wild's slightly alarming, but I figure we'll all have a good chuckle one day over what it looked like at this point in his life!):

(clockwise, from center: me, Samuel, Moriah, Bethany, Abigail, Susannah, Jim)

Aren't we GORGEOUS???