Friday, January 30, 2009

Grace and Brains

Well! The big day came! The Spelling Bee arrived.

My darling Caroline. I could not be more proud of you. You added a "K" to the end of "Frolic" and so did not make it to the final rounds........but you took the chance and you made it this far.

You got up there, you stood tall, and you spoke clearly. It didn't matter that you were the tiniest one on the stage and that your little green shoes dangled a foot above the floor when you sat in your seat. It didn't matter that you have been nervous to the point of nausea since yesterday. You did it.

Your class was proud of you, as evidenced by the posters they made, and the gifts some of them brought for you, and the love note one boy left in your mail box that read: "Good luck at the spelling bee. I love you.", [Whoa, are they starting them early! ;o)] and they supported you with cheers and pats on the back. You took this all with grace and humility.

And when you were eliminated and had to sit down, you behaved beautifully. You didn't mope or cry. You sat calmly, you continued to cheer for those still up, and you took your medal at the end with a smile on your face. You're a class act, Caroline. I wanted to hold you up and remind everyone that you are MY DAUGHTER.

Congratulations on making it this far, and congratulations on learning the lesson that many adults still don't know: how to bow out gracefully and be happy for the winner. You rock.

Your dad and I love you.

*pictures to follow when the desktop is back in service after the move*

Friday, January 16, 2009

Spelling Bees, Breakfast Orders and Elton John

Well, once again it's been awhile since I sat down to do this. But that doesn't mean that nothing's been happening. On the contrary, every day with Caroline is interesting, and this morning was no exception.

At 4:30am I woke up because the hall light outside our bedroom came on, causing me to dream that I was being interrogated in a dark room by the Inquisition, Stuttgart Chapter.

When I came to and my eyes focused, there was Caroline standing in the door way staring at us. I asked her what she was doing up so early and she replied (in a chirpy way entirely unsuited to the time) that she'd been up since three, was fully dressed, and would like breakfast now if we didn't mind.

Mind? Nah.....

I asked her to please go back to her room and try to lay down for awhile, because ONLY CATS AND OLD PEOPLE ARE UP THIS EARLY. Being the giving person she is, she trotted cheerily back to her room, read her books and waited until we woke up again at 6.

When I got up, I saw that before I'd ever woke and noticed her standing in our doorway earlier, she'd written us a note containing her "breakfast order" and left it on our dresser.

It read: I would like a chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla, banana shake for breakfast, please.

Who IS this kid that she's playing today? Normally getting her up before 11 am is as easy as trying to make a republican say NUCLEAR properly. And she made a breakfast order? On paper? And nowhere on the order did I see the foods Gummi Hamburgers or Kinder Eggs? I am growing increasingly suspicious of that brownie I ate last night.

Bizarre early risings aside, it's been a pretty tame 30-ish days since my last posting.

Caroline has learned to play Sudoku, and is reguarly whooping the ass of the whatever board her DS pulls up. I'm a little hooked on it too, which is causing me to compete with my child to see whose turn it is to use the video game.

Christmas and New Year were fun. Christmas was spent at a resort down south in Allgau. For five days we let others do our cooking and cleaning for us as we lounged around, drank wine, swam, sat in the sauna and watched German Christmas concerts. We came back late Christmas afternoon, opened presents and sat around snuggling and relaxing for the remaining 4 days until Calvin had to return to work. It stunk when he did, as we hadn't had him to ourselves for that long a stretch in I-can't-remember-how-long. It was niiiiiiice to have him home. Wish we had a break like that far more often.

For New Year we had some guests over; our neighbors Alex and Tom & kids Mila and Luca, as well as some new friends my mom distance-introduced us to, Bonni, Jim & their daughters Ashley and Haley. They all joined us for a redneck buffet (black-eyed peas, collards, ham, salad and pizza) on New Year's Eve, and stayed the night with us watching fireworks and holding sparklers. It was a great way to get to know and spend time with them. And as Bonni & Jim & Co. were automobile-less (as of yet) they were pretty much a captive audience, leaving us free to overwhelm them with chatter and bombard them with shamelessly nosy questions. Mwa-hahahaha..! They did take it well though, which means they're allowed to come over again.

The kids all got along well, and they all found Calvin to be a huge instrument conducive to rambunctious fun. He makes for a nice set of monkey bars (I knew this, but most people don't) and he's very fast and hard to catch when one is chasing him (I knew this too).......unless he's had a few glasses of champagne, at which point he just stops running away and becomes a willing set of monkey bars again. Calvin, The Kid Magnet.

Caroline and Mila playing make-believe with their Playmobil sets.

For academic news: For the last few months, we knew that Caroline's school would be holding a spelling bee. And Calvin and I both have tried and tried to talk her into it. Her teacher has too. To no avail. She just won't, she says. She's too embarrassed to stand up in front of people and spell words. We were disappointed, naturally, because we know her talents lay in writing, reading and spelling more than any other subjects. But we also know you can't push a kid who's unwilling, or they grow up and turn out to be that relative we all have that we don't talk about. The one who thinks he's Ghengis Kahn and talks to light sockets.

Mr. Zappey, though....Mr. Zappey decided to try one more time to give her a little nudge toward it. He did this on the day of the event, just before the class headed to the auditorium. And what do you think? Not only did she agree finally to do it, but she came away in the top four. One of the only four students to spell all three of her words in the preliminaries correctly. AND the only girl of those four winners. Her words were, as she related to us, "Complex", "Elephant" and "Screen". Of course, anyone who knows Caroline well knows this could have been a disaster, as she could have spelled Elephant one of five ways: Violet, George, Jim, Rose, or Paul. But she chose the universal way....E-L-E-P-H-A-N-T. And now the finals will be on the 30th of the month. Stayed tuned for the results. Whatever happens, it should be said that I'm just incredibly proud that she got up there. My kid rocks. Have I said that before? She just rocks.

The herd that goes everywhere with us.

Speaking of Mr. Zappey, Caroline came home the other day and breathlessly told me "Mom, I've got some very sad news."

"What news?" I asked, prepared for some seriously bad news.

"Mr. Zappey is getting married! To Mrs. Shives, the teacher next door!"

"And why is this bad news? They're both really nice--aren't you happy they've found eachother?"

"No! I don't want to have to start calling Mr. Zappey MR. SHIVES!"

Later that night she sat down and began to write a memoir "Mr. Zappey Is Getting Married and Other Catastrophes".

Today is Friday, thankfully. 'Cause that weekend just can't come soon enough.

Tonight I'm taking Caroline to see Swan Lake, performed by the Russian Ballet who are in town for a short time. Our friend Kristina was kind enough to arrange these tickets and gift them to us. Thank you Kristina! I'm eager to take Caroline to this. My mom took me to the ballet of Sleeping Beauty when I was 4 and I remember being so fascinated that I thought of very little else but being a ballerina for a few years. In the end, I picked a much cooler career. One that would allow me to occasionally eat.

Incidentally, Caroline is going through an Elton John phase. Her particular favorite is Crocodile Rock. Watching her rock out to this in the back of the car is worth every time I have to hear that supremely annoying song. She's just too charming.

Lastly, before I end this, I'd like to send a Happy Birthday out to my little brother, Jonathan, who is and always has been too big for his britches, but who makes me laugh like no one else and was the only baby I ever knew that I loved as much as I love my own daughter. I love you, Jon-son and I am so grateful for every year with you. XO