My online journal.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas with children

Hi gang! I'm going to try to post this today... I really want to recap our Christmas break but I just don't know if I'll be able to get it all written down today.

Life was starting to get REAL hectic the last couple weeks before Christmas. The Christmas musical I was performing in (and choreographing) was supposedly in rehearsals, but those rehearsals were few and far-between... and not always well-attended. I went into our tech week with my undies in a serious bunch, but I think the show actually came together really well. The dances I made up were all rehashes from last year, but I always like the opportunity to fix things that didn't work well the first time. The dances I performed in were also rehashes from last year, with again only minor changes (not that I ever felt totally confident doing them last year, either!)

And I spent a bit of time worrying about AYP, the youth performance group who, Lord love 'em, are a bit of a ragtag bunch. They're kids grade 1-8 (so you can imagine the range of sizes and experience represented) and they performed the "pre-show" before the Christmas show began each night, and I'd been the one running most of their rehearsals. So they were at every performance, mostly being their adorable and clueless selves.

I also got to sing in this show, so I had to learn alto harmonies for nine songs, plus I had to mentally prepare myself to sing a couple lines of "Winter Wonderland" all by myself. It was a frightening and exhilarating and, ultimately, incredibly rewarding experience -- many of the other adult singers were names I'd heard in theatre circles, but had never met, and they were all just LOVELY people. And some old friends turned up, too. All very talented.

The biggest challenge for me, though, was that I got to do a lyrical/liturgical/contemporary/modern (I don't know WHAT you call it!) dance solo to "Breath of Heaven." Joan played piano and Paige sang, both beautifully. It's rare for me to get to perform with live music, and I don't think I've ever done a whole solo routine before! I got some really lovely compliments on it afterward, and I was proud of how it came together, especially with such limited rehearsals.

So the 2 weeks before Dec 19 were hairy ones -- also because my sisters and our menfolk and I went skiing at Lutsen, and I just seemed to have several assorted meetings to get to... OH, and I'm co-directing/choreographing three different productions of Pirates! The Musical for Ashland's in-school program. Phew! So I kind of thought I was going to perish from anxiety before Christmas.

But once the show was over, golly did I get to enjoy it! The kids had a little Christmas program at HopeSpring church the Sunday before Christmas, and Joel's folks came out to got to church with us and watch the kids. They sang "Away in A Manger" and "Angels We Have Heard On High" and "Joy To the World" and it was super cute. They also recited some Bible verses that my kids wanted no part of practicing (they don't rhyme!). The Gronaus, along with Jamie and Julie and her new fiance Jeff, also came to watch the show, and John was actually inspired enough to tell me that I didn't stink! That is a gigantic compliment, coming from him.

Lu and Ed had their final dance class of the session, so Joel and I went to watch. They were hilarious and I am sad to see our time with Miss Amy Lee end. I'll be teaching a kids' dance class starting Jan 5 at the Dayton's Bluff Rec Center -- I'm excited for it, but I know the kids and Amy will miss each other. Her classes are wonderful.

I took the kids to see a morning performance of "You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown" at Youth Performance Company in Minneapolis. The kids LOVED it and were absolute darlings. And the show was very good, as an added bonus.

We enjoyed a couple quiet days at home, all activities on a blessed and much-welcomed break, before we headed to Monticello on Christmas Eve Eve. Donna was "producing/directing" our first-annual Gronau Talent Show and Pageant, which was surprisingly jam-packed with volunteers. Donna played "Rudolph" on piano with Lucy singing merrily along. Joel read the Nativity story from the Bible while Ed and I did an impromptu interpretive dance. Lucy did her own impromptu interpretive dance to some taped music, and Eddie and I did some Feats of Strength. For the grand finale Julie and Jamie did a tap dance to "All I Want For Christmas is You" and we all (J and J included) had one of those laughs where you feel like you've just run up a flight of stairs.

Christmas Eve night, we looked out in the yard and saw actual deer (including one at-least-10-point buck!) grazing in the neighbors' backyard. We all got a giant kick out of that.

OK so I want to write down what the kids got for Christmas, but here's the caveat: I don't want this to seem like some kind of comparative list by which you can judge our family. I also don't want to hurt any of the givers' feelings by omitting anything, but that is inevitable as my memory is imperfect. But so many of the gifts were SO thoughtful, so perfect for our kids -- I wanted to write them down so I can remember them and express my gratitude. And I'm doing it here.

Chalkboards with chalk and erasers -- 2 complete sets, for no fighting
A Barbie computer for Lucy -- the games are the perfect degree of challenge for her
An assemble-it-yourself gingerbread house for the kids
A train set and a set of wooden blocks
Three goldfish! Who have already lived three whole days!
Kid tents -- Princesses for Lucy and camouflage for Ed
Wind-up rechargeable flashlights
A tennis racket for Lulu. Pink, of course.
A bird feeder -- can anyone explain to me why we don't have a single bird visiting yet?? HELP!

Christmas day, we drove back from Monti and went over to Jean's house for turkey dinner and Ryan family gift-exchange. The next day, we took the kids sledding in Jean's backyard -- what a hoot!

Last night Joel and Jean and I took Lu and Ed ice skating for the first time ever at the Wells Fargo rink in Rice Park in downtown St. Paul. Lucy was AMAZING -- falling down dozens and dozens of times, but getting back up, learning that "dust yourself off" was more metaphorical than literal, and plowing ahead. By the end of our time there, she was moving along all by herself. It was wonderful watching her start off, check her balance, shuffle her skates along, and grin ridiculously when she made it from Jean to me, or back again. Ed, on the other hand, was a 35-pound wet noodle. He LOVED getting dragged around, but all of our backs were a little sore by the end. Might have to get that kid one of those empty goals to use like a walker on the ice.

OK my next task here (in addition to getting dressed and trying to finish some laundry) is to add some photos and video, so check back a little later. May the love of Christ shine on you and your loved ones as 2008 draws to a close. Merry belated Christmas!


Alison Strobel Morrow said...

I LOVE Breath of Heaven! Oh please tell me you'll post a video of it! I would love to see you dance. I've never seen any of your post-high-school performances and I would *love* to. You're so talented.

So how does Ed do at live performances? I'd love to take Abby to some theater-y things but I'm always afraid she's going to completely lose interest and/or just not be able to sit that long. I mean, she doesn't sit and watch an entire Veggie Tale DVD, ykwim? But maybe the magic of live theater would keep her captivated long enough....

Great Christmas gifts! Fish! How fun! With the, what kind of birds do you still have in the winter there? Maybe they don't eat whatever food you put in the birdhouse?

Meg said...

Great googly moogly, it's not like we live in Antarctica! We have all sorts of birds: cardinals being the most obvious, but lots of other little brown birds too. :) I know, real specific. My dad says that it just takes the birds a while to find the feeder. I only put it up 2 days ago.

Ed is a dream at live performances -- a wiggly, chatty dream who likes to switch seats occasionally, but for a 2yo boy he does great. But he watches TV well, too... usually. He actually didn't sit through the DVD of Wall-E the other evening, though. He came to my Christmas show and Joel and his 'rents said Ed did great -- anyway, I didn't hear a peep from him from the stage!

And... err. I don't think a video was made of the show. I'm sorry. I can maybe drag my tape player and video camera to the theatre some day and redo it -- I know some other people have been asking too. I'll see what I can do...