Friday, May 6, 2011

Dance Teacher Appreciation Gifts

This week I’ve been busy sewing some teacher appreciation gifts for Sophia’s dance teachers.
I decided to make bags - 
1.  A hobo/dance bag for her main instructor (who is also a professional dancer). 
I LOVE how this bag turned out!   I used this basic tutorial from Simply Modern Mom and changed it up a bit - to fit what I think might be a professional dancer’s needs.

I put in a dividing layer - one side for dance things and the other for “purse” things.
The dance side has 2 deep pockets  - for dance shoes!  LOVE THIS!
The purse side has several pockets  - for cell phone, pen, and the little notebook she always carries.
That yellow thing you see inside is a tissue holder I threw in for good measure!
2.  A tote bag for the piano player. 

I am particularly thankful for this lady’s work.  Every lesson she provides “real” music for the children hear and to see naturally played!  
I gave her a big pocket on the outside and several inside.  Pockets are a very good thing.

3. A summer fun bag for the young dance assistant.
It just looks like summer, doesn’t it?
I based it on this tutorial from Noodlehead for a small zippered bag.
I made it into a tote bag - and gave her some pockets on the inside! 

4.  And, of course, Sophia wanted a dance bag, too!
Hers is just like Victoria Sergeyovna’s - only with “little girl fabric.”  
Look at the little pocket w/the flower - she’s already used it to keep her tram ticket handy!

Anton and I told her that she looks like the “Pochtalyon”/postman in the famous Russian cartoon, “Prostakvashina.”  
So, she gave us a salute!
I had so much fun making these bags and can’t wait to give them tomorrow!
Have I mentioned in this post that I absolutely love to sew?
Well, I do.
PS - All the fabric is from IKEA - what a great store!  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


She has always been this way.
When she was just a few months old, she would swing her arms and legs and try her hardest to hit one of the toys hanging over her head.
She basically skipped over crawling and went straight to walking.
She spent hours, working on her own, sounding out words in her books until she could read them with ease.
She has a quality I greatly admire. . . 

She keeps at something until she gets it.
She doesn’t give up.
And look what this brought her last week:

Several evenings she set out to ride her bike - without training wheels.

Her papa, a bike expert, gave her lots of good advice and help.

Then, one moment we looked around . . . 
and she was riding!
Like the WIND, 

I have to admit, I was bursting with pride!
Absolutely BEAMING!  

She still has some work to do on “stopping.”
She hasn’t mastered the hand-brakes . . .  yet.
But just look at this girl GO!
She did it!  
She learned to ride her bike without training wheels!
Every day she kept at it . . . never gave up . . . 
And now she’s a Two-Wheel’er! 

There’s a great big world out there . . . 
She’s zooming by it all - into it all!

Ride, Sophi, ride!

Friday, April 29, 2011

First Dance Recital - or “Mama’s Music Marathon”

Wednesday Sophia had her first dance recital.

She has been studying for the past few months with a well-known Smolensk dance group. 

This month the group celebrated it’s 20th anniversary.

 This recital was part of the Anniversary Concert.
Sophi’s  group performed the first dance and closed the concert with a fun little “dance.”
All the little girls wore big puffy bows . . . 
And little yellow and red skirts.

They were so excited to perform on the big stage!
There they are!  

Can you find Sophia?
Yep, right behind the piano, on the left side.
We caught some good glances of her arms and legs, 
at times.
The festivities started for us a 5pm, 
when Sophi’s group met for a last practice.
The concert started at 6pm.
There were lots of Russian, Polish, Armenian, Jewish, and Ukrainian folk dances.
There were congratulations and gifts and speeches, galore!
There were songs and beautiful costumes.

And, more and more dances . . . 
Finally, at 8:30 pm, it was time for the final “dance.”
It was an extremely long, loud night . . . 

. . . but our children sure had a great time!

It looks like Pooh had a good time, too!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Music Concert and a Great “Got’Cha!”

This past week Sophia and I had a Mother/Daughter outing.  
Well, most of our outings are Mother/Daughter, now that I think of it . . . 
This one was special.
Our Smolensk Philharmonia was hosting, “Children’s Week.”  Each day there was a concert for children.  And, best of all, the concerts were free!
Thursday, Sophia and I dressed in our “day concert best,” caught the tram, and headed to the center of town.
The Smolensk Oblast Philharmonia is located on the city square.  Before the Revolution, it was the noble’s meeting house.

It’s a beautiful building - with grand staircases covered in red carpets . . . 
Large paintings of Russian cultural figures  . . . 
And a concert hall that is warm and bright.  
It’s a room you want to stay and soak in a while.
Sophi chose our seats - right on the very first row.
Ok, now for...

 The Great “Got'cha” Story:
The concert started with some truly wonderful Russian folk songs. 

But, you know, as with most folk music, there were some sounds that we don’t find in classical or pop music - a little more guttural or nasal.
The children giggled.
And, after the selection, some over zealous, happy-to-be-missing-class boys gave a few whistles along with the applause.

Out came the MC for the concert.
He seemed to be a very nice man . . . 
if not, also, a little overly zealous.
I understand, he wanted to nip this uncultured behavior in the bud.  
He wanted to use this opportunity to teach - to give those young ones some behavioral barriers.
He said:   “I like your applause.  But, that whistling has no place here.  Don’t you know who whistles?  That is what the American’s do and we all know American’s are a little crazy (and he does the “crazy sign” next to his head).  We’re Russians, we don’t want to be Americans, do we?
The crowd answers back in loud unison, “NOoooooooo!”
At this point, Sophia looks over at me with wide eyes, 
“MOM, we’re Americans!”  
I say, “Yes, we are!”  with my biggest smile.
See, I already had an idea.
I was  planning something wonderful. . .  
 Can you guess?
After the concert was over and flowers were given to all the composers . . . 
I took Sophia up to the MC and we introduced ourselves.
ME - “Hello, thank you for the concert.  We enjoyed it very much.  I wanted to let you know that there were two Americans in your audience today.”
MC - “Well, please say HELLO to America for me.”
ME - “We live in Smolensk.  My daughter here, Sophia, is 1/2 American and 1/2 Russian.”
MC - (he just now is putting it all together . . . turns a little red, stammers a little)  He looks at Sophia and asks, “How did you like the concert?”
Sophia - “It was good.”
MC - Now, gushing all over us.  “Well, do you want to be a musician?  What instrument do you want to play?”
Sophia - “I want to sing!”
MC - “Well, you must come to me for lessons, then!  Thank you so much for coming to our concert.”
As we walked away, 
he just stood there looking at us sadly, 
waving his hand “Good-bye.”
Really, I meant no harm to this nice man.  
I wasn’t offended in the least by his remarks.
It was just that he walked right into . . . his own personal teachable moment!  
I couldn’t help myself!
Sophia and I had a great Mother/Daughter outing  . . . one we will remember for a long time!
Sophia has the soul of a Russian artist - a performer.  
I’m sure she’ll be on this stage someday . . . 
my little Russian American!

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