Archive for January, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

While the world was topsy-turvy in 2008, our lives actually had more stability than in recent years. The kids continue in their beloved extracurriculars, and more amazingly, Matt and I both have the same jobs we had a year ago, albeit both with more responsibility and challenges. Generally, we’d have to give 2008 a good review.Tyrian and Allyndreth

Tyrian just turned 8 and is in 2nd grade. At his school, that means he now has actual homework to fit into his life, constant pre-tests and tests to assess progress, and only two recesses throughout the day. He has transitioned into this change of academic rigor better than we have. I’m afraid his teacher knows exactly how we feel about this approach to “learning,” and she has been flexible in customizing Tyrian’s day to suit his need to release energy and tap into his more creative thinking skills. Once he comes home, and gets that dreaded homework done, he continues to enjoy challenging his imagination with building projects – and Legos remain his medium of choice. A chance to do Lego Camp on the morning of his birthday even trumped his annual pancake breakfast birthday party on the morning of Dec. 24. Tyrian is now a green belt in Tae Kwon Do, and spends three afternoons a week at the dojang honing his skills in form and sparring. Master Yu feels strongly that Tyrian is a natural born fighter and would like to see him focus even more on sparring, but Tyrian is nonchalant about his gifts and is still coming around to the idea of actually working hard to be a strong contender in his weight class. We are watching with great interest from the sidelines to see if Master Yu’s gentle pressure yields any results. We wield a not-so-gentle pressure to get Tyrian to continue singing in choir, since we feel music education is a critical component to his development. He is slowly coming around to the idea of taking lessons on an instrument, so we’ll see where that goes.

Allyndreth is 5 1/2 and started Kindergarten this year. She is thoroughly enjoying it, even though at the September parent-teacher conference her teacher asked us what we expected Allyndreth to get from Kindergarten because she had tested beyond the curriculum. No big deal to us, since Allyndreth sees school as a social outlet rather than a bastion of learning. We’ll worry about challenging her in school next year since we know the 1st grade curriculum is more customizable. After school, Allyndreth has continued to nurture her love of movement through Tae Kwon Do (she is now a purple belt), gymnastics and dance. She also sings in choir. We had some tough choices to make in the latter part of the year. Over the summer, we changed dance schools from the more free-form, creative dance center she had attended since she was 3 to a more formal ballet school. This, in part, was because Allyndreth was eager to tap dance but the old school didn’t have much to offer a 5-year-old in that discipline. The new school required a placement audition, and during that process they said she qualified for Ballet 2, as well as tap. She was excited about that, so enrolled in two dance classes. What we didn’t expect was that 2 months later, she qualified to ascend to the performing level of the school, which means she is required to take two ballet classes a week. This is in addition to the tap she loves. She is also required to wear her hair in a bun, so Christina spent a frantic weekend practicing pulling Allyndreth’s signature A-line haircut into a wimpy little lump on her head. Needless to say, Allyndreth is now growing her hair out. Along with the promotion, Allyndreth was offered the opportunity to participate in the Christmas show at the Dean Lesher Regional Center for the Arts. After a tearful weekend of family discussions, we decided that the rehearsal and performance schedule were too much for a 5-year-old and that this year, we would support the company in the audience. That doesn’t mean Allyndreth every truly accepted the decision and I’m not sure we’ll be able to hold her back next year.

Matt continues to enjoy his work at StubHub as SWAT Team manager, even more now that he has finally assembled a team that is hardworking and skillful enough to actually do the lion’s share of the work without Matt having to micro-manage. That leaves him free to turn his attention to helping shape future systems to increase efficiency and profitability, which is where his interests lie. For Christina, the children’s choir program at Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church continues to grow in popularity and quality. Along with directing two choirs, Christina is now the Children’s and Youth Choir Coordinator, which means she gets to keep everyone organized and on task regarding the weekly minutia and the long-term goals of the program. It’s a tailor-made job she created and pitched to the powers-that-be and they bought it. It was a role that was desperately missing from the program last year and so far, the feedback from the staff and congregation has been only positive.

Matt and Christina continue to sing in the Lafayette-Orinda Presbyterian Church Chamber Singers, and a highlight of 2009 will be when we travel to the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, for which Chamber Singers has been selected as a featured choir. It is a huge honor, and comes with a lot of extra rehearsals and focus. The convention is in March in Oklahoma City, and Chamber is helping to introduce a new concept to the ACDA, which is the idea of a true Inter-Faith Service celebrating the common idea of Spirit that spans religions. It is something LOPC weaves into its ministry and our director, Dr. Julie Ford, has been given the opportunity to craft a service for the convention that imparts the way in which this universality can be shared in a common worship service. This adds an additional level of challenge to our preparations, but the choir strongly feels that in today’s world, it is the way we all need to start thinking.

Never forget, the pictures are worth (another) thousand words…