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Voice Lessons and Cookies

Maria had her first voice lesson this morning.  She was nervous, and when I picked her up, she told me, “I loved it.

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While our focus is to work on songs and singing for the fun of it for her, alternately, we are taking them for practicality, between the teacher and us.  We chose the teacher because she focuses on technique, and voice strengthening.  I emailed her and talked to her about where Maria came from, and how doctors say many kids in orphanages rip up their vocal chords from crying.  Our opinion too is that the kids weren’t given many opportunities to use their voices, but rather were silent much of the day.

She said she would have specific exercises for her.  So we signed up, and Maria loved it, we’ve been practicing often in the car prior.  Afterwards we met some friends at the beach for a playdate.  Yana and Alex have to go home to Ukraine on Monday.  On the way to the beach she showed me how she learned to breath, into the diaphragm.  She showed me her scales, and the boys from the back seat echoed, scaling up and then down, little birdies.

“It was so cool, mama!”

Any new opportunity is generally, “So cool,” for me too, to see everything through new, appreciative eyes.

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Two weeks ago she did a KidShine camp at church.  We had missed the sign up date, but I called the director and they made an exception for her.  At home she bursts with confidence, but sometimes around peers she closes up, whispers while looking down.  The camp director had a cousin adopted from Ukraine and let Maria in, a space just for her, knowing how good it would be for her.  For 5 days she went, with all the other kids, up until the big performance Friday night.  We sat in the darkness of the audience, right in front as all the kids sang, and danced and acted, Maria right up with them, singing her heart out.  Knew all the words, gazing into the audience confidently, yet shy.  “Who is that!?” we kept whispering to each other.

We think she will be so ready for sixth grade next month.


Voila!  Meal 100% from the yard!  We are proud of ourselves, per thumbs up.


I reorganized the art table during nap time, WITH label makers.  A level of accomplishment I am almost embarrassed to admit.


Maria has baked with me before, but the other night I told her to make cookies ALL by herself, no help from me.  She panicked.  But I told her, “You can do this, you have all the skills, if you can read, you can bake!”  Her open mouth and vacant eyes showed her disbelief.  As parents we look often for areas to boost her self confidence, finding ways for her to see her own autonomy, her ability.  For most of her life she has felt small and helpless.

She cried about butter fractions, quietly.  Instead of telling her, I told her to take a break and draw out some fractions she knew, I knew she could do it if she let herself.  We see her ability.   She came back and cut the butter, put it in the mixer.



Piece by piece, she added them all in, reading and rereading, attention to detail so necessary.  After she placed them on the sheet, the boys were interested.

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To be honest, they were some of the best cookies we have ever had.

And we told her that, and meant it.





“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” 
― E.E. Cummings

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  • Jantina Wennerstrom August 15, 2014, 6:41 am

    Yes to baking cookies! Go Maria! Thank you for sharing a peak into how you handle equipping her to be successful 🙂 I wanted to jump through the computer and hug you at the comment “I knew she could do it if she let herself.” So hard to watch them wrestle with accepting that they can do something and they can do it well and when they do decide to try it . . . the look in their eyes is something I will never ever forget! Also, you inspired me to rethink a decision I had made about a cheer leading opportunity for one of mine 🙂 An opportunity to strengthen confidence in a group (safety in numbers). Ah ha! Love you!