August 22, 2010

August 19, 2010

Musical Miracle

Something completely strange and unexpected happened last night that I will try my best to explain.  We were totally wiped out from a long and tiring day.  I could spend a lot of time typing out what we did yesterday, but just thinking about it makes me too tired so I won't do that.  Just trust me, it was a lot.  T came home and was equally pooped.  In fact he ate and went straight to the bedroom to rest a bit.  Turns out that training for a marathon is burning his candle at both ends.  So our goal last night was to get everyone down early.  We need to start that anyways to prepare them for school coming up (hello... early morning seminary!).

I was lying on the couch, half asleep myself, and with slurred speech I was trying to verbally round everyone up for scriptures and prayer (it's our nightly ritual, and don't be too impressed... it's usually just us reading and the kids having crazy-tune-out time at our feet).  Big Boy was beside me and he was doing annoying things like squishing my upper arms and playing with my elbow tissue.  I keep casting silent spells on him that he will one day have a child who does this same thing to him when he is tired and cranky.  If I am still blogging by then, I will let you know how that spell turns out.  A couple more kids were rolling around on the floor and my husband felt his way to the front room to join us.  I don't really know what possessed me to do this but I asked my 16 year old if he would please go down and get his violin out.  He had just finished practicing his violin, and had been sounding awesome- sorry if I brag here but he's working on Bach's Concerto for two Violins and he's almost there. I wanted him to get it out so that he could play a mom-assigned children's hymn duet with his younger brother.  They have been coerced by the violin teacher and me to learn this piece as the first of many hymns to play for about 20 minutes as part of their sister's baptism in Feb.  I felt that they should start learning these songs early since their teacher will have them busy learning her songs this winter.  The first duet is the children's song titled I am a Child of God.  It is a favorite hymn of mine.  I sat there and bugged my son to get his violin out again and he was just not having any of it.  I must have asked and nagged for about 10 minutes.  All the while thinking we should just be headed for bed.  I don't know why I felt the need to nag.  We Mothers just can't help it sometimes.  So I turned to the 11 year old violinist who is much more willing to do stuff for me and he got up and got his violin out pretty much right away, putting his older brother to shame.  Then brotherly competition set in, and within minutes Big Boy was getting his instrument out and showing up Little Boy.  They played the duet quite well and when they weren't arguing over the mistakes the other one made you could really feel a sweet spirit in the room.  I can't wait for them to start leaning more hymns for the baptism.  It will be such a nice tribute to their sister who they torment 95% of the time.

After Mom's request was out of the way they continued playing various pieces for the next 40 minutes.  The other kids joining in playing their new pieces on the piano. It was so nice to be entertained without the need for a computer or a TV or a video game.  We were almost tuning in to the simpler time of Pa Ingalls lulling his daughters to sleep out on the prairie.  Except there was the electric lights, air conditioning and the hum of the dishwasher in the background.  T turned to me and said something unforgettable.  He said "those lessons are worth every penny."  And I have to say I agree.  The real miracle is how the spirit in our home perked up and changed because we all shared in the wonderful gift of music.  And it didn't have to be Bach to be wonderful.

If by some miracle I get a chance to record them playing this tune sometime I will post it here for posterity.

August 16, 2010

Back to School 2010

I am feeling the end of summer coming and it has me a bit down.  Just when you get into a lazy sleeping-in, no-set-schedule groove, it's time to shop for school supplies.   I don't know about you but when I get to the store and find all the school supply shoppers have already raided the bins of all the glue sticks and packages of 16 count crayons, I get a bit nervous.  I mean we still have a couple weeks left, but here I was stuck trying to decide if I would have to buy the extra large glue sticks (x10) or hop over to another Target in the area.  Don't even get me started on the lack of folder choices.  My 16 and 13 year old boys were almost forced to go to high school with Bratz folders.  And why is it such a big deal to the school if I buy 2 packs of 24 count  Crayola crayons instead of the 16 packs they 'requested?'  It said right there in black and white: '16 packs only.'  Are they afraid of some kind of riot breaking out amongst the second graders if my daughter is the only one with 3 shades of green in her pack?  Must we all be totally equal in our color selections?

Living in the East has some disadvantages.  One of those disadvantages is that PC rules and sometimes, it's just plain silly.  For instance I was once told that for the 'Fall Festival' parade there should be no witch costumes for fear of offending any of the real practicing witches.  As if a cute little girl in a pointy hat is upsetting to someone out there.  Seems more like an homage than a slap in the face.  Am I right?  Or is someone going to twitch their nose and cast a spell on me?  Also, there may be Hanukkah songs at the 'Winter Muscial' but any mention of a Christ child and you will be banned to outer PC darkness.  Everything is political here so I assume the 16 count only crayon decision is also somehow related.

But back to my feelings while looking into all the emptied bins at Target.  It wasn't unlike the first day of school itself.  I felt a bit panicky.  I felt a bit behind on the things I should have been on top of.  I felt overwhelmed, distressed, and cranky.  All the feelings of going back to school itself.  I half expected to look down and find that I was standing there in my underwear.  But I knew that wasn't the case.  Thank goodness!  Somehow I managed to pull it together and shop for half the things they did have in stock.  I picked up the correct items later at Safeway.  I should have known to shop at the less obvious place originally.  You have to be tricky sometimes when you live in densely populated areas.  It's like survival of the best shopper!  I was told in confidence that when firewood is out at Home Depot the best place to search is Seven Eleven.  If you are a local and reading this, please keep that on the down low.

So I guess this year for my back-to-school theme dinner with my children all dressed in overly pressed button down white shirts, (and gay floral dresses on the girls), we will have a theme of political correctness with a splash of where to shop info printed out on crepe paper hanging ornately from my chandelier.  Happy Back to School to you and yours!

August 13, 2010

Lost Ring

I have recently been reminded of the power of prayer.  I woke up this morning and couldn't find my wedding ring.  My wedding ring with my mother's diamond in the center.  My mother who passed away 21 years ago.  My sacred irreplaceable wedding ring with tons of sentimental value.  I usually keep it in a jewelry box on my dresser.  I don't sleep in it and I put it in the same place every night.  Okay sometimes it ends up in the soap dish in the master bathroom but that is only when I am being lazy.  The only other time that I take it off would be when I am working in the kitchen with dough that needs hand mixing and I don't want to get it messed up, so I put it on the window sill in the kitchen while I do my kneading.  I made home-made pizza dough last Wednesday.  I was pretty sure I put it back on my hand afterwards.

Yesterday (a week after the dough) was a Wednesday and I had to get up very early and take my husband to an appointment.  Anyways it was too dark and early to search around when I didn't see my diamonds right away, so I just wore my band that day.  I didn't think much of it and wore only the band the entire day (and night).  I got up this morning and looked in earnest for my diamond ring.  It wasn't where it should be.  Nor was it in the second or third places it should have been.  I looked briefly under the bed because, okay, another place I sometimes put it is on the nightstand after I am already in bed and too lazy to get out and go to the jewelry box.  Basically I am lazy and don't deserve this ring.  It wasn't under the bed either.  I went straight to my knees and begged for help.

As I drove my two silliest boys to go school shopping this morning, my mind was occupied with where in the heck was that ring?!  That pizza dough day kept coming to mind but I had had my ring since then and I knew it.  While shopping, the silliness was more irritating than usual due to my worried state.  Four hours later at home, I started telling family members about my missing ring and asking them to keep their eyes open for it.  It was supposed to be M's day to come and clean for me and I was stricken with worry that it would end up in her vacuum cleaner.  Unfortunately for M she was struck by a car (she was okay) on the way to my house and her car had to be towed.  So I would be leaving the carpets unvacuumed and saying more prayers for M's hurt back.  That girl has more bad luck on my cleaning day than one can shake a stick at.  A slip on the ice, a doggy bladder infection, a slip on the wet grass, been hit by a car.  It's a mystery.  She only comes once a month now.  So her bad luck has been cut in half at least.

One other time, many years ago I had lost my ring, prayed for help, and was inspired to look in a spot under the bed and there it was.  It had been knocked off the night table. This time I had looked there with no luck. But the thought came that it must have been knocked off the dresser.  So I looked and looked there.  I unearthed mountains of dust bunnies in the process.  No ring.  RATS!  Discouraged, I went to the closest trash can to get rid of the bunnies and as I was in the master bath, another thought came (and I am sure it was nothing short of inspiration).  The thought took me back to a couple days earlier while combing Little Girl's hair.  Something had dropped on the ground and I felt it hit my toe and bounce under the cupboards.  I figured it was a hair clip or something and wasn't too motivated to get it.  I may have swiped my foot under there with no luck of finding anything and I decided that bending down for a hair clip wasn't worth it.  Now, here, this specific memory was coming back to mind while I was in the same spot throwing away dust in the bathroom.  I took the sock I had been using as a hand cover when fishing under the dresser and swiped it under the bathroom cupboards. (There is about an inch of space between the cupboards and the bathroom tile).  To my amazement out popped my ring.  It had been there for a couple days probably.  I went straight to my knees again in thanks.  Amazed.  T and I have both experienced this kind of miracle with our wedding rings.  You may be cynical, but I know that God hears and answers even the smallest of prayers.

Recently I have also lost a library book.  I know that if it's meant to be,
I will find that too.  

August 12, 2010

Dear Victoria, What is Your Secret?

A couple weeks ago a friend and I dropped off our teenagers at the movies and filled our time with a little shopping.  She declared that she was in need of some new bras and I was a bit surprised at the place she wanted to shop.  I'm not sure why I was surprised.  But I was.  Whenever I pass Victoria Secrets in the mall with my teenagers I'm a bit embarrassed for them.  Poor kiddos with new hormones raging, forced to be exposed to blown up photographs of melons the size of microwaves staring down at them from above.  It's a tricky spot to be placed in while walking the mall with your mother.  Bless their hearts, they take after their father and look away (at least in my presence).

I will admit that in my single days I shopped from the VS catalogue for clothing on occasion.  My new husband was not pleased when the magazine kept coming in our mail.  He considered it pornographic.  It does comes close.  Not to mention the fact that photographs of women lounging around in their bras and panties with their perfect bodies and grand pianos in the background leaves one feeling a bit unsettled with the life-cards they have been dealt.  I mean, who knows when we'll be able to afford a baby grand...  So I called and had the catalogue cancelled and haven't shopped there since.  I prefer Macy's dept store for my underthings.  The colors there make more sense.  Walking into VS with my friend reminded me of a circus.  Who needs to put on such a flashy show to get attention?  What do you do when you want to wear a white T shirt?  Who wants to be bothered with coordinating the things you rarely see?  Am I missing something big here?  I recalled all the fancy honeymoon teddies given to me at my bridal shower that came from this store.  (Listen to me, calling it 'this store' it's like Victoria Secrets is like Voldemort's name to me.... unmentionable!)  Anyways when I showed T the fancy new underthings I had received he said "Let's see what they look like on the floor?"  Why?  "Because that is where they will end up in 15 minutes time anyways."  Pretty solid newlywed wisdom.  So I haven't wasted much money on that sort of thing over the years.  Call me boring.  I don't care.

My friend however, spent probably over 200.00 on bras and underwear to match.  I kept thinking that Target has nice underwear that doesn't cost 12.00 a pair, but we've already established my boringness.  I did try some things on and came away with one bra (in tan- bold, I know!).  I thought that the neon pink light up sign on the mirror in the dressing room was not super classy.  I called over the stall to my friend to see if hers said the same thing.  "Yep" she confirmed "it says strip." Which to be fair, is what you do when trying on clothes but I hardly think we needed guidance.  She probably thought I was being judgmental when my next comment was "all they need in here is a pole and some dirty music."

August 08, 2010

Our Date Night

(taken with T's iphone)
For father's day this year I splurged and bought my husband tickets to a concert (yeah, and a ticket for me too.  After all he wouldn't be a father without my contribution).  We went to that concert two days ago.  It was worth the wait.  We went to see Keane and we had the best seats.  We were 4 rows from the stage, right in the center.  My only complaint was the hearing loss afterwards and the close calls with his drops of sweat coming our direction.  That Tom Chaplin is one sweaty singer.  To be fair, it was a humid rainy outdoor venue.  I just found on the drummer Richard's blog a mention of it being the hottest gig they have ever played.  There is a photo on his blog where I can see myself in a hat behind the girl with both hands in the air.  Pretty awesome!

Even though he was sweating all over us his vocals couldn't have been better, and his white boy dance moves reminded me that I needn't be self conscious of what I was doing.  At least my moves weren't being displayed in front of all those screaming fans.  There was one semi-serious song where, during the instrumental part, he wasn't singing but was all hunched down in prayer position looking down with his knee up on the side of the stage. Suddenly, some girl in the front row threw what looked like a napkin up at him (T thinks it was for all the sweat, I wondered if perhaps someone was floating their number to him), anyways it was bad timing in the middle of that emotional part of the song.  He handled himself like a champ and smirked a bit, then ignored it.  T and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert.  I kept worrying that I had bought the tickets on too much of a whim and that it wasn't really the way T would have preferred we spend an evening.   You know how people usually give the gift they would prefer to receive?  It's true.  Think back to the presents you opened for your wedding.  The older people always give decorative cut glass serving trays and the young newly weds would really prefer to get plastic glasses from Target.  At least that is the memory I have.  As I get older I wish I had more decorative cut glass serving trays.  Sigh- I must be getting old.  But not too old to shake my stuff at a Keane concert!  I asked a group of 40ish ladies at the pool if they knew of Keane and not one did.  That made me feel young.  Luckily T seemed happy.  Perhaps he would have preferred a new biking shirt or something, but- too bad.

The two opening acts were also great.  I have to admit I had never heard of the group Travis.  The lead singer sang to us for a bit (he was great!), then Ingrid Michaelson and her band played for about a half an hour.  Even though I only recognized one of her songs,  I have fallen for her quirky music and personality.  Look her up-you won't be sorry!  My new favorite song of hers is called The Hat.  She had us do a little sing along with her during that one with hand movements.  They closed their portion of the show with a silly dance where the men in her group did a lift with her at the end.  Pure silly awesomeness!  One funny part was when a child in the front row threw a silly band in the shape of a dolphin up on the stage for her and she responded with the following "Oh, it's one of those new popular things all the kids are wearing!  Thanks!  How did you know I loved dolphins?  I mean, who doesn't?  They're delicious!  Just kidding- I don't eat dolphins, at least not that I am aware of."  She was adorable.

The weirdest part of our evening was at the very beginning.  Which is weird I guess, that I am writing this at the end.  Not much thought in this post today- sorry, we went to the zoo with 4 kids earlier and I am wiped out.  So T and I were on our way to the concert feeling pressed for time and we had about 30 minutes of driving to get there (traffic pending).  We were still in our neighborhood and there was this long haired chiwawa dog running down the middle of the street. (Odder still is the fact that earlier in the day, the girls and I had watched Beverly Hills Chiwawa on Netflix-not recommended)  He/she kept turning around to see if we were gaining ground and then speeding up, but not getting out of our way.  We honked the car horn but the dog just kept up this same small legged zig zag run for what seemed like forever.  I was tempted to have T pull over so I could go out and remove the pesky thing from the street.  I have no idea where the owner was.  Luckily the dog finally figured out the way to the side of the road.

So aside from a cold burrito from Chipotle eaten on the drive there you have all the details of my extravagant date night/father's day celebration with T.  "And there you go." (Said like Gus from My Big Fat Greek Wedding)