Monday, December 26, 2011

Catching Up and Christmas...

 I have been meaning to post for a week or two but just haven't found the time so I am going to catch up on all that has been going on with us.

Here is Haley with her good friend, Lily. We have Lily over to play about twice a month. Haley and Lily love to play together and make a horrible mess of the playroom in the basement. You can't really tell but Lily gave Haley eyeshadow for Christmas and this is a photo of them after they made up their faces.

For Christmas this year, Haley learned/relearned about 20 Christmas carols to play for various events. Her classical teacher asked her to play for a senior luncheon at her church and then she and Dylan also played Christmas set for our church's Christmas Eve Candlelight service which is one of our holiday traditions and one of the ones I enjoy the most. I love the way the church looks full of people singing Joy to the World in the glow of candlelight!

 This is Haley with her good friend and fellow Irish music enthusiast, Alex. They were attending a workshop given by Irish fiddler Oisin MacDiarmada and this is Haley thanking Alex for a beautiful and thoughtful Christmas gift. She had given him a friendship bracelet months ago at the Fleadh in Parsippany and a couple months later it broke so she gave him another. To thank Haley for the friendship bracelets, Alex picked her out a beautiful Pandora bracelet (he knew she liked his mother's Pandora bracelet) with a charm for friendship.
Oisin teaching at the workshop.

 Nothing is better at Christmas time than spending time with friends and listening to Irish music. On Friday night we attended a Christmas party hosted by a couple of Haley's "adult friends" who we know through Irish music. Many of those in attendance were musicians so the evening was full of music, both instrumental and singing. It was a lovely evening.

The hosting couple also asked for donations for the local food bank and animal shelter so the party served a number of purposes.

I really like this photo with Paraic through the harp.

 Christmas morning at our house. Lucky for us, our kids are getting older and sleep on Christmas morning. Tinks was actually the one who got me up around 7am because she had to go out. Haley was up soon after and we had to wake the boys. Ritch and I cooked breakfast which we ate as soon as Grammy and Poppop came over.

After breakfast we sat and opened presents. Dylan had already gotten his "big" gift...the bouzouki with a wonderful mic/pickup system. On the left is Newt with one of his "big" gifts. The other was a new pair of old wrestling shoes but he has already been wearing these. We are thinking if college and wrestling don't work out for Newt, he can always join the circus!

Haley's last gift was not under the tree. Instead there was a wrapped box containing a clue which sent her on a scavenger hunt. After following the clues, she ended up in the "man cave" out back and unwrapped a bike helmet with a clue to "Look Up!" Attached to the beams of the roof was this......

She is so glad she will not have to look like a muppet on a tiny bike pedaling 4X as much as her friends on bike rides in Central Park from now on.

After we were finished having fun at our house, we headed to Grammy and Poppop's. Here are a few pics of the kids unwrapping gifts...or waiting to unwrap gifts.

Newt waiting...

Dylan waiting.

Haley's surprise from Grammy and Poppop!

Oops! One more of Haley waiting.

Just to let you know how serious Haley is about her music...she even practiced on Christmas Day.  Not her usual hours of practice but she did do a run-through of her piece for her upcoming concert and worked to fix a couple spots. Ha!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wrestling season opener...

Yesterday, Newt took 1st at the Pine Barrens Tournament with his first 3 matches of the season. He pinned his first opponent and won the other matches 7-0 (I think, though the final match might have been 6-0). No one scored on him yesterday. It was a nice start to the season.

He did end up with a number of bumps and bruises...including a nice knot on the middle of his forehead that looked like he was growing a unicorn horn all day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The New "Baby" In Our House....

Here it is...the bouzouki Dylan has been asking for for over a year. He saved and saved then we pitched in to help him get it in time for Christmas along with a really nice mic/pickup. It was relatively inexpensive as far as bouzouki's go but has a nice warm sound.

Dylan has figured out a couple different tunings and is picking out his tunes on it already. He and Daddy installed the pickup which required a bit of drilling into the body...ugh! that was a bit hairy. Can't wait to hear how it sounds at the next Towheads gig!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lazy Saturday...

We get so few days at home with no place to go that when they do occur, I love them and the chance to re-charge they provide. Haley and I were going to go to the Philly P*Ps Christmas concert today but were unable to get the discount tickets we had planned on so we ditched that plan.

Instead, Haley spent 2.5 hours this morning practicing everything she needed to practice so she could have her friend, Lily, over to play for the whole afternoon. Haley decided this week to change the piece she was working on polishing up for her teacher's winter concert from the Bartok Rumanian Dances to the Paganini Moto Perpetuo. She has been messing a bit with the Paganini since spring or summer but had very few lessons on it and had put it aside numerous times to work on other pieces in between. She had never finished the last page until her lesson yesterday when she told her teacher she'd rather work hard and play that for the concert. She has the first 3 pages memorized and learned so just has the final page to memorize which shouldn't be a problem and then she has to polish it all up. She likes to work under pressure. LOL

While Haley played with Lily this afternoon, I got some work done, vacuumed the house, did laundry, paid bills, and finished up the book I was reading...The Geography of Love...definitely a half box of tissues kinda book. Ritch and I made Hot Browns for dinner even roasting the turkey breasts. (click on Hot Brown for a link to the recipe)

The girls played upstairs and downstairs, inside and outside even joining the neighbor children for a game of Red Light, Green Light. Yes, it was rather warm today!

After dinner I killed zombies with my sons and am now lazing in front of the tv. Nice to get rejuvenated for another busy day, play practice for Haley, fiddle workshop with Oisin MacDiarmada, then a dinner date with my husband and some friends.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Christmas Traditions and, yes, another musical weekend...

 Three Christmases ago, when Haley was playing in the orchestra at Temple for the first time, we started going to the Ritz Carlton one Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas for a cup of their wonderful hot cocoa. This cocoa is made with 5 different types of chocolate and heavy cream topped with whipped cream and homemade marshmallows. Yum!

Last year, Haley's friends from orchestra, Mara and her mother joined us. This year, Haley isn't playing with the Temple orchestra but we were still looking forward to having our yearly cocoa so when Mara's mom emailed me a few weeks ago, I suggested getting together with them for our yearly tradition.

We started the day at One Liberty Place where a woman's orchestra including Haley's violin teacher was performing Christmas music in front of a huge Christmas tree. Then we met with Mara and her family after their orchestra rehearsal.

Here's a picture of the beautiful Christmas tree at the Ritz. There must have been a wedding going on there Saturday because there were lots of people really dressed up getting their pictures taken in front of that tree.

This is the best hot chocolate that I have ever had!

Here are the kids thoroughly enjoying their cocoa!

After our indulgence, Haley, Grammy, and I walked a couple blocks to  Fergie's Pub for the session there. Haley was excited that Gabe was leading the session and lots of her favorite Philly musicians were there playing...even Paraic showed up after work so she got to practice her strathspeys with him.

Sunday Haley and I went to NY for her fiddle lesson. She listened to CDs and played along most of the drive. After her lesson, she still hadn't had enough Irish music so we drove from NY to Philly for the Irish session at the Plough and the St*rs. It was a really lovely evening. The accordion player who leads the session's father and mother were there having dinner. His father plays in many of the sessions and ceilis we attend so it was no surprise when he came over to play but even his mother came over and played a few tunes on his accordion. Haley thought that was just the best.

Friday, December 02, 2011


I am hoping this is not an indication of how this year's wrestling season is going to go. Yesterday was the 4th practice of the season and already my son comes home with this lovely shiner and a chipped canine tooth from a knee in the face.

Did my son stop practice and ask for ice to limit the swelling? No, not my son...he kept right on practicing then lifted weights after practice. I had to force him to ice his face when I got home from work...Lovely!

I can't wait to see the colors it turns this week.