Monday, February 27, 2012

Farewell to Oz

Back in October, we heard that a local theater group was looking for Munchkins for The Wizard of Oz. Brent or I have never appeared in a play/musical before and neither have any of our children. BUT, since we are aspiring to become the next Von Trapp Family (kidding), we’ve got to start somewhere (and have another girl, my kids remind me). SO, our three oldest kids auditioned AND…
Oh, what happened then was rich.
All three kids were cast and for three months now…we’ve had a jolly good time in the Merry-Oh Land of Oz.
With each new rehearsal…and then tech week…and then 10 performances (spread over 3 weekends in Feb.), the kids came bounding in the house with updates on how the show was progressing. They’ve spent hours spewing out lines and dance moves…mimicking the inspiring work of so many very talented actors and actresses. In short, it’s been an awesome mirror neuron experience that may have set the stage for future Smith-kid appearances in the world of theater.
Kenny and Diggy (dark green and yellows hats) represented the Lollipop Guild and wowed the crowd with their movie-like accents, kicks, and grins. They were such a hit, they had to make a guest appearance at one of the post-show “pose-with-the-lead-characters” photo shoots. 
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Kirsti danced her heart out as a Munchkin girl and became instant BFFs  with:
all sorts of Munchkins…
and Jeff (Lion)…
Wiz 2012 007  and Patty (the costumer)…
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and Frankie (Toto)…
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and Nickel (whose mega-make-up box has produced an exponential increase to Kirsti’s desire to acquire more beauty supplies…right away).
For Allison, waiting for the performances to start was pure torture. She very much envied her siblings night after night as they scuttled off to rehearsals. And she very much has the entire play memorized now (especially the Tinman’s tap dance routine, which mesmerized her) and rehashes most scenes hourly. Meeting the characters in person and exploring the scenery when the performances finally started was a dream come true for her!
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Sitting in the Wizard’s hot-air balloon basket
“Comimg out” of the Munchkin house
For Cienna, on the other hand, rehashing the play at home was pure delight while going to the performances was pure torture. She just doesn’t have all the advanced brain cell connections yet to help her feel like the wicked witch wasn’t after her. She begged to sit in the balcony or in the lobby…as far away from the wicked witch as we could get…so we did. And we covered eyes and ears on many occasions. 
For therapy, we had Cienna meet Jody a few times off stage (with and without her green make-up on) and Cienna happily remembered that Yoda’s face is green, too, and Jody kindly explained that she loves children because she’s a grandma in real life. So, when the topic comes up now, Cienna says, “The wicked witch is a grandma,” to sooth herself, but her big eyes and stiff body language tell me that her nightmares for the next several nights will likely have something to do with Grandma turning into the wicked witch (sorry Mom).  
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Cienna did feel a certain bond with the Scarecrow…Yeah!!

For people who are brand new to the theater experience, Brent and I found the backstage scene to be quite magical, too. We got to hear the inside scoop about when Dorothy had the ruby slippers on the wrong feet for several scenes or when one tree threw an apple that actually rebounded off the Tinman’s head and hit the cello player in the pit. Brent helped fly people across stage a few times.
I collected a few fun memories…From pre-performance energy circles to helping Glinda zip up her dress in time to bow…not to mention reliving, alongside my children, the pre-teen thrill of rubbing shoulders and establishing a first-name basis with Dorothy, et al. It was a delight to get to know the “movie stars” behind the scenes.
Most of all, I loved watching my kids interact with so many wonderful people. At home, I love hearing the kids talk about Shannon (Dorothy) and Jeff (Lion) and Mary (Glinda), etc. as if they’ve known them all their lives. Once I heard Allison say to Cienna, “You be Shannon and I’ll be Kevin (Tinman).”
It was an incredibly impressive show. We are thrilled to have many more friends that my kids insist I become official FB Friends with so we can track their future stardom.
We’ll miss the Land of Oz.
To the cast/crew: your singing, dancing, and acting onstage and your smiles, hugs, and well-wishes (and sewing) backstage have inspired my children forever. Thank you! We’ll miss you most of all…

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Homeschool Advantage


How I calculated one of many the benefits of homeschooling today…

4 inches of snow       (5-ish more inches needed to cancel local schools) 36 degree weather + forecast of mid-40s in 2 days [thus the melting of this season’s rare snow again]  =   1 sledding hill @ noon with only 8 people [1 of which can’t even crawl] on it (instead of 143-ish) =  0.01% chance of the Somebody’s-Going-to-Crash-into-Me phobia becoming a reality (assuming the team of big brothers who like to tease younger sisters jump out of the way in time) = FUN8


Sledding  Feb 2012 019Sledding  Feb 2012 032Sledding  Feb 2012 036Sledding  Feb 2012 041

Sledding  Feb 2012 049Sledding  Feb 2012 058

(…well-aware of the hodge-podge  snow attire on our 5th child…no need to feel bad for her…3-yr-olds are some of the world’s boldest trend-setters. We could afford matching, but we'll spare the $$ until she notices enough to follow the crowd. )

Seize the Day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Exhibit C


In reference to the post about Brent yesterday…here’s more proof:

When we woke up before the kids this morning, Brent suggested we make a special breakfast for them. I started mixing up the pancakes, and Brent insisted on coloring the batter pink and making them heart-shaped. He personally watched over those pancakes until the last one came off the griddle. What a lovely start to our Valentine’s Day.

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Valentines Day 2012 007Cienna was the first to wake up and quickly became co-chef.

Fathers can add so much to a child’s world.

And every time I observe the father of my children adding thoughtful details to the daily grind, I fall in love with him…deeper than the day before.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dance ‘n Derby

I’m not sure how I managed to snag a man who chooses piggy-back rides, bedtime stories, and dish duty (even though it’s his least favorite chore…with snow removal at a close second) over golf, tech games, and Monday Night Football. But I did. And his time management skills and attention to the things that matter most in life make our family sooo much better than I could muster on my own without him.

So, one might ask…Does Brent have a personal hobby?

Well, he likes things that require creativity, movement, risk, and/or power tools…like remodeling, repelling, wakeboarding, and snowboarding. But because we don’t have anymore walls to knock down in our 1965 home and we live in the very flat suburbs of Chicago (and we have 6 children whose nurturing takes nearly every moment), Brent happily surrenders his personal hobbies and instead combines some of his favorite things with some of his favorite people.

Two such events happened recently:

1. The Daddy Daughter Dance

With 3 lovely ladies to greet at our front door and twirl around all evening, Brent’s night was full of fancy fun (and included the use of power tools if you count hair dryers and curling irons because Brent does help with hair). Oh, how the girls chatter about this night well in advance and cherish it long after it ends.

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2. The Pinewood Derby Race.

It’s a treat to watch Brent work with his hands and with our kids. Both take patience, focused attention, and creativity. And he’s very talented at both.

Here are a few of the masterpieces Brent has concocted with our boys (and our girls) over the years. The kids have the liberty of dreaming up anything they want…

 Feb. 2012 104These are Kenny’s cars. The “Crocodile Cruiser” won first place, The Cello has a real music box built in, The Pencil really writes, and The Triple-Decker Bus could seat about 106 really small people on a sunny day.

Feb. 2012 095These are Diggy’s cars…The Diggy Car because Diggy has a cool name, The Ark because Diggy loves animals, and The Droid Razr because everyone loves Angry Birds.

Feb. 2012 101Kirsten ordered a high-heel shoe.

 pinewood derby 2012 023Allison has a block of wood that she couldn’t imagine carving into anything else…it’s a classical hand-painted treasure.

And because Diggy’s choice this year was a Motorola Droid Razr, Brent decided to get down and derby and create this to race alongside it:

Feb. 2012 098Cienna happily inherited this car.

Much to our family’s delight…the Razr zoomed to the finish line and the iPhone crawled to a stop halfway down the track.

Sorry Apple fans, but Motorola puts food on our table and pays for my brain books. We’re a bit partial. And they DO make an awesome phone.