Friday, February 29, 2008

Oh! what a Glorious Morning

Our Out-to-Brunch group went to an outdoor cafe called "Morning Glory Cafe" this morning. Great food, great friends! The weather was perfect for eating outside, and the kids had room to run around a bit. If you are cold right now, you need to come visit me this weekend... :)


I had a first this week: I picked my own citrus! Grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, and tangeloes. Haven't heard of a tanegelo? Comination orange and tangerine, of course! Lisa's mom has a veritable orchard in her backyard, and she was happy to share with us. :) Eli went a little nuts and we brought home 3 grocery bags full of fruit! From the look of the trees, though, we hardly made a dent.

We ate the cuties right off the tree - and as I was spitting out some seeds, and the juice was streaming down my hands and arms, I realized that these were the best oranges I have ever tasted.

Someday, I would love the luxury of having citrus trees in our own yard. What a good feeling it is to pick fruit and eat it fresh!

Thank you for sharing the fruit of your labors with us, Sister Tarwater!!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Park City Trip!!!

The Meet:

Lizzie got her first "9"!! She got a 9.075 on the beam! She was thrilled.
The Level 4 Gold Medal Team took 1st place! They totally rocked it!
Best Part: Her cheering section took up an entire bleacher.

The Eagle Court:

Matt got his Eagle! Good work Matt.
Best Part: A guy from Hogle Zoo came to talk about why the Eagle is such a good symbol for the highest honor in Boy Scouting. Oh, and he brought a huge, real live Golden Eagle.


Perfect Weather! Free passes from Mike's sister! Heavenly fluffy powder! No injuries! Park City was a fabulous place to ski. Lizzie learned how to crouch down when she's trying to ski fast - she looks like a pro. Also, Deborah, who was terrified to go skiing, had an awesome time!!
Best part: Adam fulfilled a life-long dream of skiing the Jupiter Bowl.

Dinner in P.C.:

Wow. Do not go to Cicero's on Main Street if you are in a hurry. Like you want to be done with dinner before 11 pm. Or if you want minestrone soup. They don't have it. Do go if you want a large bowl of sauteed fresh mushrooms. Just be careful not to slosh them around.
Best Part: James and Jenny met us and then we ended up playing Apples to Apples with them till almost 3 in the morning.

Family Time!

So fun to hang with the fam. We love them and miss them!

Monday, February 25, 2008

The trip was great, but the recovery has been awful!

We spent the weekend in Park City, Utah - part gymnastics team trip, part Matt's Eagle Court of Honor, part couple's getaway, part ski trip, part family reunion! Man, can we pack it in! I'll have pictures and more about that tomorrow. But today's post is devoted to the chain of events on Sunday. This will help you from feeling jealous about our trip.

Sunday morning:
We planned to drive up to SLC from PC to brunch at Adam's mom's house. At 10:30, we got a call from Lizzie's chaperone saying that there was a huge storm expected, so we better take Lizzie along with us in case the bus couldn't make it over the pass and we missed our flight later that night. We picked Lizzie up.

We stopped at Smith's and picked up some coolant for the car we borrowed that had been acting fussy all weekend. We poured in said coolant.

We start the drive, and the car overheats the second we start driving remotely at an incline. We pulled over and Adam checked under the hood. More coolant.

More driving. Stopping. More coolant. Driving. Stoppping. Coolant. Slow semi-trucks with their hazard lights on have to pass us. Adam finally just pours the coolant directly into the radiator. This does the trick and we end up only an hour late to the brunch. Aren't we nice guests?

The day continued smoothly for a while, and our master plan has worked beautifully: Move out of state, come back for a weekend, and get fed the best meals ever by your parents! Thank you for all the delicious food, everyone! I love that you love us with food!

We went to the airport to fly home to Phoenix. Luckily, the monstrous storm hasn't materialized enought to impede our travel. The flight was quick and easy; we landed and peeled off layers as we walked out of the airport at 10pm.

This is where things got interesting. See, we're cheap. And since Adam works literally across the street from the Airport Rental Car location, we thought we would beat the system. Instead of paying for long-term parking, he dropped us off, walked a few minutes and then caught the car rental bus to the airport. Beautiful. And free. So, when we got back, we took the car rental bus and Adam started the trek to the car while Lizzie and I waited with our stuff.

When he called my cell phone, I knew something was wrong. A child, who shall not be named, left a light on in the back of the car, and we didn't notice. The battery was completely dead. But somehow, my resourseful husband was able to get a jump from the deserted Honeywell parking lot at 11:30 pm on a Sunday night. Thank you Luis, wherever you are! Adam picked us up and we were finally on our way home.

I put Lizzie straight to bed - in her clothes - so she could get as much sleep as possible. We were all exhausted from too much fun this weekend. I had laid down and had been asleep for about 10 minutes when I heard Lizzie crying out. She had been complaining about her ears ever since we got off the plane, but now they were really hurting. I have never seen her in so much pain! We passed several long difficult hours until she finally fell asleep at about 3 am. No huge surprise that this morning the pediatrician told me she has a very bad double ear infection! Poor girl! The airplane ride must have been torturous!

So, with a few hours of sleep, and a crick in my neck to prove how awful the night was, we start our week! Payback for a ultra-fun weekend!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Don't you know, it's time to plant your Veggie Garden?

No, he's not digging a grave. Not burying evidence. Adam's preparing our Arizona soil (a.k.a. rocky clay) for a soon-to-be thriving, flourishing vegetable garden! This has been something we have dearly missed from our house in Connecticut. So, we decided to make it happen here in Chandler. The strange thing is that we had to throw out everything we learned about gardening from the other 5 states we lived in. It's a completely different ballgame out here.

Early-February: Danger of frost is over. In fact, it never really started. Plant your tomatoes and various seedlings.
Mid-June: Finish harvesting vegetables before they burst into flames.
July: Stay inside and eat ice cream.
August: Start another round of veggies that like the heat and sun.
September: Broccoli, Cauliflower, lettuce
October: Artichokes. yes, artichokes. They like the cool 60 degree weather, I guess.
December: Beets, cabbage, carrots, peas, radishes. You won't be making a snow angel, but you can pick a fresh radish on Christmas morning!

So, that's it. We found all this great info at the Phoenix Gardening Calendar, and you can get to it by clicking here. Good stuff.

And hopefully, we'll have some eggplant, summer squash, lettuce, corn, tomatoes, green beans, cilantro, canteloupe and watermelon by April or May! Come on over, we'll make you a salad.

Erin's Pretty Much Famous!

I received my subscription of "Opera News" today, and Erin is listed in the Met Opera's cast of Peter Grimes on page 42! She is playing the Second Niece, and she's on stage and singing for a lot of the opera. This is the one we're going to see when we go to NYC next month!

And guess what!? You can see it too! Yep, and you don't even have to fly across the country. They're going to be broadcasting it live in a theater near you on Saturday, March 15th at 1:30, Eastern Time. If you click here, you'll find the link to locate a nearby theater and get your tickets:

Okay! Now you won't feel left out! And you can go to the movies and say "Hey, I know that girl. She signed my yearbook" or "She sang in my ward once" or "I sat next to her on the train once" or "She made the worst-tasting salad I ever had," or "I think she rear-ended my car in the summer of 1998."

:) Love you Er-whan! You rock the opera world.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

Defying Gravity... the Hard Rock Invitational!

Thanks for watching Eli, Jane and Lisa!!! :)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Click Five with the Palmer Sibs

My little bro, Matt put this music video together over Christmas break when we were all in town, and just posted it on YouTube tonight! Notice Erin playing the Guitar Hero guitar in the front, with the fan blowing on her hair. (By the way, this was just a couple of days before she soloed with the MoTab). Also note that they're all oogling my 13 year old sister, Whitney. Creepy. Also note the cameo appearances by Adam, Ivy and me. We were amazing. I'm just glad I didn't have to get inside the recycling can. I mean, I have standards.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine from EIi to You!

If you know Eli, you know he is my most affectionate child. He'd hug anybody - even a stranger he's never met (yes, it's happened before). Since he can't give each of you one of his huge bear hugs, here is a video of him singing a Valentine's song with his Preschool Class at Happy Apple.

And now I hope you feel very warm and fuzzy for Valentine's Day!

Love you!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ivy on a Red Trike

These tranquil pictures belie the busyness of our day. But I hope this is the part of the day that Ivy remembers as she falls asleep tonight. I know it was my favorite hour.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Navajo Oratorio

Last week I was busy with the Phoenix Symphony Chorus again. We did a "World Premiere" of a piece called "Enemy Slayer: A Navajo Oratorio." It was written by a native Arizonan, with the libretto by English Professor and Navajo, Laura Tohe. We sang parts of it in Navajo. It tells the story of a young Navajo man who serves in the Iraq war, and his internal struggle as he returns home. He struggles as he searches for the Navajo way of life, living with the demons of war. It is getting national attention, and a live recording CD will be made from the concerts (and our late night "patch session") to come out this summer.

There was an amazing baritone soloist, Scott Hendricks, a full symphony with full chorus, as well as photography of Navajo lands illustrating the music.
Here's the review from the Arizona Republic: [and for some reason, this link isn't working...]

The chorus acts as the Navajo ancients all working together to save this one soul. It was a really amazing work to be a part of. It wasn't great timing that I was so sick that week, but I was still able to go and experience the music, even if my voice wasn't contributing like it usually does!
On the Saturday night concert, the Dibbles, Ward and Adam all came to hear it, and it was a fun night.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Lizzie's Gymnastic Meet

Friday was Lizzie's first Spring meet. She did great! We were so proud especially of her floor routine, which she has worked really hard on since last time. Her worked really showed, because she scored almost an entire point higher than her highest score last season - she got an 8.60! Wow! What an improvement! It got her a 6th place in floor.

She also got 4th on Beam and 3rd (!) on Bars, ending up 4th place All Around. What a great way to start the season!

Adam had a great time taking pictures with the new camera. The beam pictures are my favorite:

Confessions of a Compromising Mother

I have been sick this week. The kind where you ache all over, feel like sleeping all day, have a nasty cough and lose your voice. Adam has been wonderful, and so have several friends - Xan watched Eli all afternoon on Wednesday, Lisa watched the kids on Thursday afternoon, and Vicky brought over 2 dozen homemade rolls which saved our family from poppy seed overdose. There are a couple more institutions I want to publicly thank.

Dear Costco,

Thank you for making and selling Huge oversized poppyseed "muffins" (we both know they're actually sweetbread disguised as a ginormous muffin). My husband picked up a pack of 12 on Monday night, and without them, my children wouldn't have had breakfast or snacks all week. Before I got this rotten cold, I was disdainful (at best) toward your product, but now, all I have is respect. For breakfast each morning, I would slice up half of one for each child, and they would gobble it up. I don't know about nutritional value or providing a great variety, but it was easy and filling and that is just what I needed this week. The dozen muffins were gone by Thursday, and I never had even a bit of one. So, thank you. I just hope my kids aren't tested for opium any time soon...

A Usually More Nutritionally-Minded Mother

Dear PBSKids,

Thank you for the countless hours of extra sleep you allowed me this week. My kids usually just watch about one hour of your station in the mornings, but this week, with my late night rehearsals and an unforgiving virus, they had free reign of the television. You'll be happy to know that they never tired of your programming: Caillou, Sesame Street, Curious George, Clifford, Bob the Builder, Super Why (a favorite), and perhaps others I may not have even noticed. At 11:00 one morning when I was finally coherent enough to realize how long they'd been watching t.v., I found them still in p.j.s with eyes glazed over, creating permanent indentations in the couch. I had to coerce them back to the land of the living and they were finally able to turn it off. You make an impressive (not to mention addictive) product. I am very grateful. And because your shows are commercial-free, they didn't even beg me for new, flashy toys afterwards! There's even a chance they might have learned something new.

Don't count on this happening frequently - I would feel like you were taking over my role as a teacher and a caregiver - but thank you for stepping in this week.

A Mother That Usually Provides Higher-Thinking Activities for her Children

Monday, February 4, 2008

Getting Ready for Friday

Friday will be Lizzie's first gymnastics meet for the Spring Season.

Adam is having fun taking gymnastics pictures with the new camera...

This is Amanda Borden working with Lizzie on her handstand dismount:

And this is a continuous shot of Lizzie's dismount off the beam. It's like a cartoon flip book!

I Got an Award! :)

Thank you for asking about the NATS (btw, that stands for "National Association of Teachers of Singing") competition! Here's what happened on Saturday.

The Short Version (stats only):
I had a great experience, and I won 3rd Place in my Division! Hooray for me!

The Long Version (including play-by-plays, commentary, and analysis):

Saturday was a wonderful day. I felt like a diva. "Yes, you may make breakfast for me... just no dairy, please" "Well, I suppose I'll let you drive me there so I can finish my makeup" "Can you help me put on all this bling? It's just so heavy" "I can't scold the kids - I need to protect my voice..." etc. etc. etc. =)

I was totally ready and not even nervous when I arrived. It was held at a local community college, and each division had its own set of 3 judges in our own room. I was in division 9W, meaning that I have had more than 4 years of voice lessons since high school, but do not have a degree in Voice. It's the Wild Card division; you never know who could be in it, and there's also no age limit like there are for the college divisions.

So, I sang the Bach, and they really liked it and asked me to sing the "Steal Me" aria, which went really well. That's the song that Amanda (my accompanist) and I worked on the most in her studio classes, and it went really really well. The only glitch was that for some reason unbeknownst to me I sang "kill me" instead of "steal me" in one of the phrases. It wasn't the really big moment, thank goodness, so hopefully they didn't quite notice. Because I know I didn't want to be killed. I just wanted to be stolen away by the attractive thief. There's a big difference.

Then they asked for the German song, and it was good. We still had time for the French, and I came this (I'm pinching my fingers together really closely) close to missing my entrance. It was weird, but by the first line I had totally recovered and it was a great, fast, flamboyant song.

We just had a couple minutes left, and I had one more piece, the Bellini, which is 5 1/2 minutes long. I told them the best part was at the end, and they said, well, sing fast. Anyway, I only got halfway through before I had to stop, which was a real shame.

So that was the audition. It was really nice that Adam was there to watch it. He's great at supporting me in my interests!

In the afternoon, they offered a master class from a professor from NAU (Flagstaff), which I went to and it was very interesting.

Then they did the awards ceremony right afterwards. They went by division, and announced finalists, honorable mentions, 3rd, 2nd, and 1st place winners, and the 1st place winners went backstage immediately to pick a song to sing for the recital. So, they would do a group of awards and then have a recital with all the winners from the various divisions. As I was listening, I was feeling pretty good, like, yes, I could totally be on that stage and fit right in. It was a good feeling. My accompanist thought so too; right before our division went, she said, okay, what are we singing? =)

So, my group came up, and they announced my name for 3rd place! I was very excited. I was sad that I didn't get to sing in front of everyone, but when I came back to my seat, my voice teacher, Anne Kopta, was saying, "Oh! I'm so proud of you! And 2 of my students won." - so it another of her students that took first place. She said, "Don't feel bad, - you'll understand when you hear her sing." So, she sang "I Want Magic" from A Streetcar Named Desire and it was spellbinding. She was incredible. I was so honored to get 3rd place with her as the winner. I might have felt angry if a shoddy singer would have won. But I didn't. I felt honored. And also glad that we have the same teacher! She really was the best female voice of the day, including all the graduate and doctoral students.

So, it was a wonderful time. And I think I might take Tara's advice and make a cd while I'm in great vocal shape right now. That would be cool to have in several years.

I think this was something that I felt I needed to do. And I didn't figure this out until afterwards, but I think the reason is because I needed to know where I stood as a singer. Having never studied in school for this, I've only had my sister to compare to (not a healthy thing), or my fellow choir members, which really is a group that's after a different goal. So this was a chance for me to see how much "street cred" I've gained through my years in private study, against singers in my same situation and with the same goals. And it was nice to be judged and to have been found acceptable. I mean, for heaven's sake. The last time I was ranked and judged as a singer was at the end of my freshman semester as a voice major, and they cut me from the program. After one semester. So, I feel like (with the help of many others), that I've carved my own path and come a really long way. And that makes me feel good.

My Diva Day is over and it's back to diapers, laundry, driving kids places and teaching music lessons, but it was fun to be queen for a day! :)

There's More than ONE Diva in this House!

Ivy has had a life-altering experience.

She was invited to her very first Birthday Party.

Ella Katzenbach turned one and had the Cute Event of the Year Party at her house. And to make it even more fun, Ivy and her best friend from down the street, Ava, got to go to the party together. In coordinating Party Dresses.

Wouldn't it be a life-altering experience for you, too?

I'm telling you, she came home a new woman. She has a certain confidence, a certain swagger in her stride that wasn't there before this party.

On Sunday, her Nursery Leaders said they hardly recognized her. She was interactive, outgoing and energetic. It only took her a year to warm up to nursery, but all it took was a fancy party to boost her confidence.

We have evidence of the metamorphosis taking place. You might be able to detect her confidence growing in these pictures.

Friday, February 1, 2008

I'm singing tomorrow!

Well, that's not unusual, I sing alot of days. But tomorrow is the NATS competition, and I have been preparing for it for almost two months. I'm very excited to perform! It has been such a great experience already - working with ASU professors and with my accompanist, learning how to pronounce French, learning where to find publications of obscure music, and learning how to get good translations (Call Erin). I've been stretching myself to learn faster and work harder. It's been great. So, you wanna know what I'm singing?

1 - "Quia Respexit" from the Bach Magnificat
2 - "Vivons Mignarde," the last in a 4-song set by Jean Berger
3 - "La ricordanza" a Bellini song that was a study for one of his most famous arias "Qui la Voce"
4 - "Gruss" a German song written by Grieg
5 - I'm ending with an American Aria by Menotti called "Steal Me, Sweet Thief" from The Old Maid and the Thief. It is so fun to sing. The whole first section is her being very frustrated by this guy who won't pay attention to her, and it's actually pretty funny! And then she goes into the real aria part and just bears her soul about wanting someone to love her before she gets too old and dies. It's fabulous.

Wish me luck!

Family Zoo Day

We had such a wonderful time at the zoo today. Here are our favorite pictures: