Thursday, May 29, 2008

What a Schmuck.

So, with elections coming up in November, we've had more and more signs appearing along sidewalks and intersections.

None more eye-catching, though, than the huge sign declaring Frank SCHMUCK is running for office. It says:
"SCHMUCK - that's right!"
knowing we would all do double-takes to see if it's a joke.

I can't resist: I love a good sense of humor!

I'm voting for him.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Sassy Brassy Girls

Tonight was opening night of Ainadamar!

We had such an amazing time performing this music. I loved every second of it.

Dawn Upshaw, Kelly O'Conner, and Emily Albright were the three main characters in this opera, (Dawn and Kelly were in the original cast!), and they were incredible. The music is some of my favorite of all time. The more I hear it, the more I love it! To describe the sound, I would say it's a mixture of classical, jazz, rock, and flamenco, with a Latin and Arabic flavor. It's very percussive. It's gorgeous. I love it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Next Up: Kindergarten


The Stewart Family in conjunction with Mrs. Faulk and Mrs. Piper announce Elijah P. Stewart's official graduation from Happy Apple Preschool. Eli's long and varied 3-year preschool career began in the sleepy hills of New Milford, Connecticut, where he attended Holy Infant Nursery School. After one year, he transferred to Happy Apple Preschool in Tempe, Arizona. It seems he wasn't holy enough for the first school.

Elijah will be continuing to further his education at a higher learning institution: Kyrene de la Paloma Elementary School.

Notable awards consisted of:

Honorable Mention for: Learning to hold a pencil and eventually write entire name.
Most Improved in: The Moment of Separation. Progress went from crying when dropped off for school to running in without looking back!
Outstanding Thespian Award for: Playing Narrator #1 in the Class Play. With enthusiasm!
Excellence in Literacy Award for: Learning to read!
Mr. Congeniality Award goes to: Eli. Hands down.

Personal Anecdote from Elijah's mother:

I remember Eli's first week of school in September 2005. It was show & tell day. He wanted to bring in a Book of Mormon. Now, I am all about missionary work. But it seemed a little pushy to send my 3 year-old son to his Catholic Preschool with a Book of Mormon to introduce to everyone. So I gently persuaded him to bring a truck instead.

When I came to help at the end-of-the-year party in the spring, I was doubting my missionary-stifling moment when I saw Eli cross himself and put his hands together to pray with the teacher over the food! That was a surprise for this Mormon mom to see!!!

Elijah's parents would like to publicly thank all the teachers for all the energy bars they must have had to consume to endure these preschool years. In a big part it is thanks to you that Eli is so ready for Kindergarten! We had some moments of doubt that we would ever get there, but get there we did.

Watch out, Paloma!! Here comes Eli!!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Future Opera Buffs?

Erin's Met Opera, Peter Grimes, was on PBS on Sunday morning. It's a dark opera about the tortured soul of a fisherman.

Lizzie, Eli, and Ivy couldn't get enough!

That night we asked what they wanted to watch for our family movie night, and they all agreed on Peter Grimes.

Strange, strange children.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Totally Tubular

Two years ago this month, Ivy had tubes put in her ears (yes, as a 9 month old!!). I had imagined plumbing tubes and pipes going through my infant daughter's head.

This morning, Ivy was eating her breakfast and her hair was up, and the sunlight shone just right into her ear canal, and there was her ear tube! Perched right there in her ear! It should have fallen out a year ago like the other one did, but I guess it was comfortable in there. Nice and waxy.

That itty bitty tube turned my life around, folks. Wait, let me rephrase: It turned Ivy's life around. She went from perpetually sick and snotty to healthier, cuter and happier. Which is why my life got a whole lot happier right around the same day. All thanks to that green speck you see here. Isn't medicine amazing?!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Reflections Contest

Lizzie entered the Reflections Art Contest through her school last fall. It works like this: They give you a theme, and you create artwork that goes along with it. Then they judge the entries at the school level, the regional level, the state, and then national level. The theme this year was "I Can Make a Difference By..." and Lizzie decided to write a song for piano titled "I Can Make a Difference By Making New Friends." She spent most of fall break working on it, and it was really good for her - she learned a lot about writing music.

She wrote it for piano, and we (with Jenni Layton's help!) recorded her playing it.
She received recognition at school, and went on through the levels, and today, we went to a reception up in Sun City to honor all the state winners. Lizzie won an "Award of Merit" along with three other kids from the state grades K-2 for original music. She got a really nice medal with her name engraved on it.
Go Lizzie!

Her description of the song: "The song starts out that someone at recess is sad and lonely. Then I go ask them if they want to play, and we go on the slides. Then, the ladder, the rockwall, then the monkeybars, and then it is finally time to go in and you can hear the bell. And we're both happy because we're both friends."
I Can Make a Difference by Making New Friends - Share on Ovi

Jeepers Creepers

It's an indoor amusement park for kids. Think of the kiddie ride section at any big amusement park, and that's it. Just inside, with air conditioning.

In the words of Lisa Andrews: "I don't think I trust any place for kids with the word 'Creepers' in it."

Too true, sistah, too true.

So, I was less than excited for our final Happy Apple Field Trip on Friday at Jeepers Creepers. As expected, it was greasy employees manning kiddie rides, and as expected, Eli was over-excited beyond belief. As expected, Ivy caught the "creepy" vibe and was only willing to try the merry-go-round...and around and around and around while Eli raced from ride to ride trying everything and wanting it all to go faster, jolt harder, and create more inertia.

I was watching my watch.

But you know what? I started thinking how easy it is to please Eli at this age. Happiness was only a thrill away. And to Eli, the place was beautiful and magical and made all his daredevil dreams come true. I guess it won't be this easy forever to get a guaranteed shriek of joy and smile. And I started thinking that maybe someday when he's a difficult teenager, I might be wishing for a way to make him smile so easily.

And that made it worth it.

Not so much that I'm going back tomorrow or anything, though...

Friday, May 16, 2008

My New Obsession:

Fairy Cakes Cafe! (southeast corner of Ray and McClintock) You have to try it.

Is this place the cutest or what! Their cupcakes are to die for. We had the best time for brunch here last Wednesday.

Good thing I joined the gym.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Serbians: Love their music, love their food!

Isn't it funny the connections you make in life? Last fall, I started carpooling to (Phoenix Symphony)choir with a woman who lived in my zip code, and that was all I knew about her. As we spent time talking together in the car, I got to know Gordana as she went through a move, a graduation and the transition from foreign student to full-time employee as an engineer. We shared recipes, stories, music, beliefs, and stresses. And now she has welcomed me into her Serbian "family."

Tonight, at Gordana's invitation I sang in a Serbian Choir (named "Riznica" which means "treasure chest") that was part of a Concert of Classical Serbian music. I'm not Serbian, but they let me sing with them anyway. Everyone else was Serbian, and the whole night was Serbian people performing Serbian music. We had guitar, violin, piano and vocal solos as well as the choir. It is great stuff - all the choral music is very Russian-esque - a capella with beautiful rich bass tones and light upper voices. Also, unusual rhythmic patterns are natural to them and very common in their music. One of the basses told me during intermission tonight, "For not being Serbian, you sure are doing a good job with this music!"

We ended the concert tonight with a piece originally written for instruments called
"Niska Banja". It was wild, I tell you, wild. (Chorally speaking). It had no words, just do-ba-do's. It was in 9/8 time, which felt like 4/4 with an extra half beat in every measure. Every variation got faster and more complicated and it was terribly fun to sing!

Then the concert ended and the reception began. The spread was impressive! All kinds of foreign yummies that I don't dare try to pronounce, let alone spell. Delicate, fluffy layers of goodness - ahhhh. So good! Serbians know how to throw a party, I tell you what!

So, here's to taking a chance on a carpool, expanding cultural horizons, and singing in 9/8 time.

Adam's Promotion

He did it! I'm so proud of him. Now he is the Financial Planning and Analysis Team Lead for Business and Jets in Honeywell's Aerospace Division.

Honey, you have successfully clawed your way into middle management!!

The End of Pre-K

This year, since Eli was an "older" pre-schooler, we started a group as an enhancement to preschool. We called it "Kindergarten Prep" and we had a group of 5 kids that were interested and us moms rotated teaching. I've done several posts about what I've taught them through the year: body parts, simple machines, poetry, music... and we've had several field trips too.

Our most recent field trip was last Thursday, and we went to the Symphony! They had a special performance during the day for school-age kids, and we went! Our kids were the best behaved, and they recognized the music from when we played the songs during an earlier lesson.

Eli has just loved his Pre-K this year! Thanks to all the moms (Vicky, Lisa, Jane, and Rene) who did it with me!

Andrew, Max, Nathan, Eli (Erin had already left). These are the kids downtown after going to the Symphony.

Monday, May 12, 2008


Once a year, Honeywell treats its employees to a free day at Island of Big Surf, Phoenix's greatest water park! Did you know that this park is where the first "wave pool" came into existence?!

Over-inflated tube + a Super-lightweight kid = Pulling a Homer Simpson. Eli got stuck in the dark, hot slide halfway down, and the lifeguard had to push him out.

And since we're talking about swimming and all, check out these Brave Ivy pictures from last weekend! When did she become a daredevil??

Eli was impressed!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

And For Our Final Question...

in our Countdown to Camelot...

Who is the man that currently plays Sir Robin in Spamalot on

Don't forget to watch PBS tomorrow night at 9 pm!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Great Unveiling

It's time I let you all in on what I've been working on for the past few months. A little plan and project I have hatched. I would like to introduce you to the new act in town, the new gig on the street, the latest and greatest group around, it's the ... (wait for it ... wait for it ... )

Chandler Children's Choir!

Yes, it's true. I am starting a Children's Choir in Chandler. Called the Chandler Children's Choir. I am so excited about all the possibilities of this. We have launched a website: and we are having AUDITIONS people, yes, AUDITIONS on MAY 23rd. You don't want to miss this.

The choir will start rehearsing when the school year starts in August, but we are holding Early Entrance Auditions on May 23rd at Kirk Music Store (right next to the Sunset Library) for all the kids that are really excited about getting in and holding a spot. We will have Regular Auditions the first week of school: August 4th - 8th, then rehearsals will start on August 14th. You can email me at to set up an appointment!

So, pass this along to all your friends in Chandler who have children ages 7-16 who like to sing! We need musical young voices!

Dad in Phoenix

My dad was in town for a quick business trip, and we got to have dinner with him at The Old Spaghetti Factory! I'm so glad we live close enough for quick trips like this! :)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

It's Dry, It's Spiky, It's....

The Desert Botanical Gardens!

I was able to chaperone Lizzie's Field Trip with her class this morning.

Among the exiting things that happened:

1. Miss L was a drop pad for a purple-pooping bird. The guide said this was the first time that had ever happened.

2. Our guide also told us that we would probably see ground squirrels, hummingbirds, lizards, butterflies, but not snakes.

3. A large King Snake (constrictor) was slithering under the bridge where our class was standing.

4. In the Butterfly Pavilion, a butterfly mistook Lizzie's shorts for real flowers and landed right on her bum. MooHaHa! Our plan worked!

5. We learned how long a saguaro cactus lives (200 years!), the difference between a tortoise and a turtle (a tortoise sinks, a turtle swims), and all about the life cycle of a Century Plant (it only lives about 80 years, & is commonly confused with aloe vera).

2. We also learned that Phoenix gets less than 10 inches of usable rain every year. Some plants get so dry, they look like this:

6. And we got to see the first blooms of our state flower: The Saguaro Cactus Flower.

Hooray for Desert Plants!