Thursday, March 31, 2011

Behold.....The Sea....Itself

Last weekend was the final performance for the symphony chorus for this season. We performed Vaughn Williams' Sea Symphony. It was a huge exhausting but remarkable and moving piece of music. Rehearsals were quite shaky all week and we wondered how the performances would go.

Surprisingly, it all came together. It is always interesting to see the review that we get the next day in the paper after a Friday night performance. The reviewer is usually quite harsh and so I wasn't expecting miracles.

The article was a fun surprise in TWO ways. was a different reviewer and we actually got 3 and a half out four stars. The second fun surprise was the picture that was printed. Take a good look at the chorus along the top. Find the one female singer smack dab in the middle with obnoxiously open mouth:)

That would Yours Truly.

I just wish I knew what part of the piece we were singing at the time. At first I was quite embarrassed but then after I looked at the picture a little more I decided that I could be proud at how involved, energetic and enthusiastic I was.

I even went and bought a copy to send to my Grandma.

I can't wait until next season.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Star Wars Night at the Griffins

So I finally got around to loading (I just can't seem to grasp when I'm up and when I'm down loading) pictures form my camera. I found pictures from several weeks ago that I never shared. It has definitely been a very busy few weeks with starting the new job, finishing up symphony for the season, and also continued school and scout activities.

One of the activities we enjoyed as a family a few weeks ago was the boys' first professional (minor league...but still) hockey game. It was supposed to be a promotional event for the symphony whose chorus I perform for, but that part of the evening turned into a bit of a bust. We prepared and performed, but the media coverage that was supposed scheduled did not show.

But the game itself was fun. The night was a special Family Night...Star Wars night. It was a fundraiser and the crowd was huge. I don't think either of the kids was hugely excited about the game when I talked about it the entire preceding week before. But that was fine. We got there early since I had to rehearse so when we came out of rehearsal, the very large number of Star Wars characters that were gearing up for their night were roaming the halls. Noah got excited when he saw a "Royal Guard" come out and I pulled out my camera for a picture. It was all fine and good until a voice came from the character, "Hi Kristi!". I completely freaked out. He then clarified that it was a guy I who works at the music store with me who does this as a side activity. We have been laughing about it since.

So having missed dinner because of the rehearsal and because we had been downtown all day for various activities (it was a very filled day), I decided to face the crowd to find some hot dogs to chow on. The crowd was crazy with kids everywhere trying to get pictures with the many many many storm troopers wandering around the arena so I stopped at the first food vendor I found and we all Everyone got their own little pizza and for some reason Noah finally decided that night that he likes pizza now :)

After a bite to eat, the boys were finally ready to explore some of the characters. Neither one of them was terribly gung ho about meeting the characters, which actually surprised me, but they (especially Noah) were happy to stop at the table where they could make signs for the game. Noah worked so hard on his and it turned out so cute. Aaron decided to make his "interactive" having one side say "yes' for when the griffins got a goal and "no" for when the other team did.

It was also bottle opener night and the boys were all happy because they were giving away free bottle openers that made noise like a goal score. Steve and I thought it was funny that EVERYONE was given these, including six year kids who have no business opening bottles, but it worked out well since we had a family gathering the next day and I was able to give the extras away. The boys had fun pushing the inside though and making the noise with it.

As a rule, these are my thoughts about sports spectating. I really enjoy watching football, I will watch baseball if it's a game I'm interested in, basketball is fun in real life but not very exciting on TV, and I'm not a real fan of hockey. But I still wanted to take advantage of discounted tickets so that the boys could actually go to a game. And I have to admit, we had a really fun time. All chorus members and their families were seated together right behind the goal so we could see everything and the Griffins scored three goals right in front of us, which the kids loved. They especially liked the fun activities between the periods, as well as watching Darth Vader let out the first puck.

So Star Wars Night at the Griffins was a fun family night. I am so glad that we went through with it and I couldn't possibly end this post without being a little corny, so...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Family Game Night

This week has been just as I expected it to be..hectic. Add in a few unexpected "surprises" like a speeding ticket I can't pay and family sized strep throat and it got even more so.

Because of it being symphony week, I had to change around my piano teaching schedule and had lined up make ups all night last night, which was supposed to last until way past the boys' bedtimes, meaning I would miss bedtime EVERY SINGLE night this week. I cherish bedtime with my boys. It's the time of day when all the social stresses of being a child fitting in at school fall away and they are my little boys again, asking for hugs, kisses and songs to be sung to them. It is always hard to miss bedtime for a string of nights in a row.

So last night when I got a cancellation for the last few lessons of the night, I was quite happy to be going home to my boys before bedtime. And they were equally excited when Mommy came in the door. Noah shared some silly joke he had heard (he's turning into quite the comedian) and then asked if we could play Scrabble, of all things. It was almost bedtime already but I was happy with the suggestion and went and dusted off the old board (yes, it had been in the closet for a LONG time). It was even more fun when Aaron and Daddy both decided to join us. We teamed up, Mommy and Aaron against Noah and Daddy, and after a few gentle nudges reminding Steve to let Noah take the lead in word formation, the game began.

We had such a fun time. We had words such as piglet, goofy, and axles. We had Noah total every single score all the way through, including special tiles. I think it was the first time he actually saw the purpose of all of the multiplication facts he's been forced to learn against his will :)

I'm not sure if this spontaneous game night was the result of TV turn off week last week. Or because of the game show on the HUB network called Family Game Night (which is very fun if you ever get a chance to see it) but the boys were still talking about the game this morning and Noah asked to take the card game version of Scrabble to school today to play during recess.

The boys are growing up so fast. I know our times are limited for when they want to sit and play games with us. Most of the time, Noah says NO when I invite him to play a game with me. Perhaps that is why this was so fun. Or perhaps it was because instead of pushing "It's your bedtime", we actually went with the flow and said "yes" in response to a child's request. As we were playing, I smiled thinking that these are the kind of memories that last. Among my somewhat challenging childhood, I still remember the day that my Dad was sitting at the kitchen table teaching my brother how to play chess. Somehow I grasped it too and we played a game together afterward (Of course I lost, as I always did when playing games with my brother). I don't know how old I was or what year it was, but nevertheless the memory of sitting at the kitchen table with a parent playing a game is firmly planted in my mind.

Family game night. I'll hold on to this happy memory for the rest of the week, especially if the week continues to be rocky.

If you have not done this in awhile, I encourage you to dust off the old board games and bring them out. You won't be sorry :)

BTW, the final score was tied at 277 each

Have a good Wednesday

Monday, March 21, 2011

Forget Alexander

You know...that kid who had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

He's got nothing on me.

It started out this weekend when I was starting to put together the plan for this week. I actually had to make a word document of this week's schedule, hour by hour in order to sort it out. I have/had training as well as teaching classes at gymboree and regular evening piano lessons. In addition, it is symphony week, meaning extra rehearsals every night this week and performances Friday and Saturday night. Add to that playing piano for state solo and ensemble Saturday morning and having to fit in rehearsals with each of those four kids both at their school and in the evening. And then finding out that the event is going to be held in Holland rather than locally. As if that's not enough, my car pool mom left this morning fr Israel for ten days so I'm driving both directions for the next week and a half.

So this week was going to be a busy one. And it really needed everything to run like clockwork.

Isn't that always when things fall apart?

I was nursing a sore throat of varying degrees all last week but since I couldn't bear the thought of ANOTHER $40 co-pay, I blew it off, knowing that it was most likely strep. Then, Saturday afternoon on the way to my in-laws for the day, Noah started complaining about a headache, followed by fever, followed by chills and then Sunday morning he added a stiff neck. So this morning, amidst many protests that he didn't want to miss pajama day at school, I canceled the three classes in my brand new job that I was supposed to teach today, canceled solo ensemble rehearsal that I needed to see the music again, and took him to the doctor. The poor kid actually has such a swollen lymph node on his left side that it's protruding out and painful to touch. They ran a culture and came back with a positive strep result. No big surprise there but since I knew I had symphony this week, I had them run a culture on me too. Again, positive for strep.

So now I had to email my section leader to say I couldn't come to the final piano rehearsal tonight before orchestra on Wednesday, risking not being allowed to perform this weekend.

If that were the only bad for the day, then it would just be an annoying day.

But gets better.

I decided to take Noah out for lunch for pasta since I had a coupon and we both wanted something warm and soft for our throats. On the way home, I see lights. The blue and red kind that strike fear in any law abiding citizen.

I got stopped for going 40 in a 35, destroying a 21 year perfect driving record. Even worse, a $100 ticket. My house in foreclosure, my car is being repossessed and I'm supposed to come up with a fricking $100 out of my butt for a speeding ticket for FIVE MILES OVER THE LIMIT?!

So I headed off to work, still incredibly angry about the days' events. Coming in the door after teaching I hear Aaron whining. Now, Aaron whining is an all day every day occurrence, so I didn't think much of it. Until I come in and see Steve holding a frozen bag of peas and a HUGE goose egg on Aaron's forehead. Seriously? Apparently he was spinning on the hardwood floor and slipped, banging his head on the floor. Way to go Kristi for pulling up the carpeting in here, huh?

Looking toward tomorrow, I can only pray that Aaron doesn't wake up with spots on his face, which is how he gets strep. I can't cancel another day of obligations, considering I don't even know the full consequences of today's yet.

So I am thinking about the children's book Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day. We don't know if Alexander had a better the next day.

I really hope that I do.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The New Normal

I'm sitting here looking around the kitchen. The sink is piled with dishes that I feel too sick to wash yet I don't think it's fair for Steve to wash them since it's his birthday in just under three hours. And I think the pile of laundry downstairs has sprouted a life of its own.

Yep, the new normal is going to take some getting used to.

I am in my third week of working at Gymboree Play and Learn. It is my first week of teaching on my own and it's going fine. But the adjustments around the house and to the family are going to take some work.

First of all, I need to start downing the Vitamin C again. I'm not sure if it's using my voice all day every day again (including singing in much higher ranges than I've done in a LONG time) or being around little kids all day but I am sick...AGAIN. I know I will build up resistance and feel better soon, but for now my throat feels it has knives in it and I have to teach two classes tomorrow morning. Even my piano students were telling me tonight that I sounded funny to them. As a matter of fact, the minute this post is done, I'm heading to bed.

Another change in the new normal is that I had to tell the boys' teachers today that I cannot do lunch duty anymore. The boys are bummed, but I am even more so. I love being in the classrooms periodically. It allows me to watch the boys in their school environments and also to get to know the other kids that they spend most of the hours in their day with. I have cherished the time. But I also know that it is definitely time for me to be working and trying to get us on our feet, hopefully saving the house along the way.

The morning routine has also become affected. Especially with the time change, which seems to have caused much difficulty for My Aaron. He is SOOOOO tired. It doesn't help that their scout pack meeting went an hour and a half past bedtime tonight. Poor Mrs. T tomorrow in having to deal with a tired boy. And even more so...Poor Daddy who will have to spend his birthday alone with the boys while I am teaching, dealing with a crabby Aaron and no TV to help with the down time.

And school pick up threw the boys and the girls I carpool home for a loop yesterday too when, rather than seeing me there first thing when they came out from school, they were among the last picked up since I worked until 3 and it is a twenty minute drive from my work place to their school.

Even Lily Pup is definitely feeling the change. It used to be that after the boys left for school she had me to herself for a little while and we snuggled on the couch, periodically casually going outside for a quick moment to do her business. On nice days, we would take several walks around the block. Now, it has become, "Lily, you had better do your business in the next half hour or you'll be spending the morning in your crate until Steve gets home to let you at lunchtime." Whether in her crate or penned up in the kitchen (I refuse to let her have full run of the house for seven hours straight...her bladder is just too small), she is itching to run and play and INSISTS on hours of Fetch when we get home to help her let off her steam. She will not let us out of her sight (not that she ever did before anyway). Her plumbing seems to be all messed up too:(

The house is a mess, there's dirty laundry piled up, and I haven't even checked Noah's reading log for school his week. So this is what's it's like to be a working mom. I know we will all be fine when the new normal becomes just plain normal. I know the kids will not suffer from this at all and in the long run might even benefit... if we can indeed convince the LBPS blood suckers to let us keep our house. I will learn to manage my time better and get everything done around the house and keep order with everything the kids need for school.

Not to sound complaining too much, I have to say that the boys just got home and had an awesome night at scouts, scoring lots of belt loops and patches. Also, Steve and I are really excited about taking the third and final joining class at church this coming Sunday toward becoming members at the new church. That difficult chapter from a year and half ago sure did find itself a happy ending :)

The new normal will take some getting used to. But it will be worth it and I am glad that we are all on board to work together to work toward a smooth transition.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pinewood Derby 2011

It's Wednesday and we're finally starting to recuperate from our busy weekend of last. We knew it was going to be a crazy one, but it's been so long since we had something fun to do that we cherished the thoughts of finally having some fun.

Friday night we were supposed to go to a scout gathering where the derby cars would be weighed and measured to be ready for the pinewood derby on Saturday morning. By the time we got home from school on Friday afternoon, I was ready for the week to be done so we decided to stay home. As you will read in a few minutes, this decision cost Aaron in a bug way but I will elaborate in a moment.

Saturday morning started bright an dearly with Aaron's derby race set for 9 AM. We were told to come a half hour early to register our car if we didn't go Friday night. We got there very early. The judge looked at Aaron's car and said, "uh oh" which one never wants to hear. We had lost one of the official wheels from the kit so I had gone out to the scout store to get a new set of "official" wheels. I decided to get him blue, which turned out to NOT be official after all and we had to switch them then and there for black ones. The judge then suggested that I put a dab of glue on each axle to ensure that the wheels stay on. The races then began. Aaron's car led each race down the slope but fell behind each time it went flat, which I thought was strange. After the races, where he placed 6 out of 9, he came to me saying, "Mom, the wheel is stuck!" Sure enough, glue had seeped into the wheel and it didn't roll AT ALL. I figured that if he placed sixth with one stuck wheel, he for sure would have gotten at least the third place trophy if all four wheels had worked. After Steve got there from work, we decided to put the functional yet blue wheels back on so Aaron could play with his car on the practice track with the other scouts while we were waiting for Noah's race to start. On a whim, we asked if we could run the car down the official track just to get a sense of how well it would have done if I had bought the right color wheels. We should have never asked. Turns out that it would have not only won, but blown the other cars out of the water by eight seconds. VERY frustrating. I have to say that Aaron has handled this information way better than either Steve or I have.

Noah's race went off without a hitch and he was so incredibly excited when he won second place and got his first ever real trophy. He was higher than a kite! The smile on his face couldn't be beat. I was proud of him then because he went around to other kids and told them each that they did a goo job in the races too. The boys didn't want to leave when the races were over. They wanted to run their cars over and over on the practice track. Even though Noah left with a trophy and Aaron didn't, it was fun to watch the boys race their cars on the practice track because Aaron's beat EVERY other car, including Noah's, over and over again and Noah really couldn't brag since he knew in his heart that Aaron's car really was the award winner. The whole thing worked out really well.

Steve and I spent the day trying very hard to not think about the "should haves" surrounding the circumstances of Aaron's race. There are so many. We really had to take a lesson from Aaron, who did not spend the day being upset about not getting a trophy. He spent the day smiling big smiles because he had so much fun being a scout, playing with his new car, and sporting his award..."Coolest Car with Stars"

But look out next year...we're gonna take it all :)

A Day of Singing

I spent the whole day yesterday singing. Not just silly little singing in the shower like we all do. But actually USING my singing voice. It has been a long time since I have done that. I stopped teaching six years ago and stopped directing children's choirs and singing in small groups at church almost a year and a half ago. I had joined symphony chorus to help fill that void, which it has done excellently. But I was shocked at how different it was getting back into using my voice to teach again.

Let me explain. Yesterday was my first day teaching music at Gymboree Play and Music. I heard a comment recently suggesting that this job was maybe not good enough and it really bothered me. But then I got there yesterday, after several hours of studying the lesson plans and practicing the songs, ready to go. And for a few hours, I was focused on being the best teacher I could be, even if it was for children who cannot yet talk.

There were many things that I had forgotten about music teaching that came back pretty quickly.

The first was that I had forgotten how HIGH one has to sing to match the singing range of young children. I am a natural born alto (even though a prof in college told me to sing soprano) so while I was learning and singing the songs, it was a stretch for me. I hadn't sung in that range in a long time. Also, even though I used to be really good and making and following lesson plans, it felt so foreign yesterday. I had forgotten which information I used to write down to help me and which information I would just remember. It was good to team teach yesterday while it was all coming back to me.

The classes went fine and I think this job will go well for me. How could using music to teach little ones in their most important formative years be not good enough? One look at these little one's faces and watching them soak in everything they are seeing and hearing and one can see just how much good programs like these does.

By the time the four hours were done, I was heading out to my car still singing the songs from those lessons. That was something I used to do back when I was teaching in the schools. I found myself singing the songs throughout the entire day.

Then a few hours later, I was teaching a piano lesson and I realized how often I sing the rhythms along with my students' playing. It is not a big deal and all of my students are used to it, and they often do it along with me. What a great way to internalize what notes sound like.

Then, last night on the way to chorus rehearsal, it hit me that I had been singing ALL DAY. And yet I was still excited about going to rehearsal. Not only that, but I was so incredibly warmed up that I could have pulled off first soprano in a heartbeat.

It struck me that this was where I should be. I don't have many talents in this world. Music is pretty much the only thing I've ever done well. So it just felt really good that I seemed to be using it again.

It did kind of feel like I was coming full circle. I don't have to be in charge of 400 kids putting on big productions anymore. I can sit in front of a group of 5-10 toddlers and their caregivers and watch the amazing connections that they are making with their little ones.

That's not just good enough for me.

It's wonderful.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Finally...A Weekend With Something To Do

Actually, make that about a half dozen somethings to do.

We have spent so many weekends lately at home telling the boys..."No we can't go anywhere this week" that it feels nice that we have a weekend full of activities. I guess it would have been nice for some of them to spread among more than one weekend, but there will definitely be no time to sit around wondering what to do.

Tonight we have "derby trials" which we thought sounded so formal when really all it entails is taking the cars to the derby site, trying them out on the track, getting tips on how to make them faster and also getting them weighed in so we don't have to do it tomorrow. I am glad that we're going though because Steve has been hemming and hawing about this process for the entire month. The wheels are still not on the cars, nor are the weights. I am told that there are people there to help us with that stuff as well.

Then, tomorrow morning, Aaron's race is at 9AM and Noah's is at 11. I have to admit that if either boy actually wins their race it will completely mess up our entire day since the finals aren't until 1 PM. I don't think we have to worry about it though :) I let the boys pick out whatever they wanted to decorate their cars with at Michael's yesterday and they picked "jewels" so now we no longer have derby cars, we have ones that are BEDAZZLED.

Last week I won tickets on a FB contest to the Home and Garden Show. So we are going to try to do that tomorrow afternoon. I would be more excited if I was motivated to do any home improvements. But right now, facing foreclosure (Stupid Fannie Mae), it seems silly to fix up the house if the bank is going to turn around and sell it for less than half what we owe on it anyway. But the Home show is still fun to go to and walk around.

Then, the group of us that are singing an excerpt from Beethoven's Ninth at the Griffins game have a sound check at 5 Pm and the game starts at 7. It is Star Wars night at the Griffins which looks like a lot of fun and I think the boys will get a kick out of it. I looked at pictures from last year on the web page. Yes, it is going to be strange singing to such an unlikey crowd, but the symphony is hoping to create "a buzz" before their season launch on Sunday. Should be very interesting.

Then on Sunday, we will visit my parents whom have been down south for several weeks. I wish they had brought warm weather home with them, but alas, we'll just have to wait for that. Then we will be heading to my sister's for my nephew's birthday party.

By Monday morning, we will all be exhausted but we will hopefully have made a memory or two of family time. Also next week, I will be working at my new job. I am teaching music classes at Gymboree Play and Music. After I get trained on those, I will also be cross training for all of their other classes as well. It is exciting but I am getting nervous too. The girl who has been teaching these classes for the last seven years is very good and the families love her. I don't know how I can possible fill her shoes. I know it's going to take some time for the families to adjust to a new person. I just hope they all have patience with me as we go through the process.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


I love it when I'm humbled :)

Remember a few weeks ago when I got on my soap dish about Mama always knows best? Well, I was just asking for trouble for being a know-it-all.

I shall explain...

Three years ago, when Noah was in kindergarten, he closed the van door in an awkward way, slipped, and jammed his wrist on a metal piece on the door. He cried but I didn't think much of it, sending him into the babysitters house and driving off to work. A few hours later, my husband called saying that Noah was still complaining and I told him to put him to bed and I would see how he was in the morning. There was no swelling or bruising at the time. I still took him the next day and it was indeed broken.

So yesterday, when Noah came home from school with quite the swollen and bruised pinkie from getting it jammed on a basketball in gym class, I decided that I would still wait a few hours before taking him to the med center. THEN, I got a call from my new boss inviting me to start work today. Now I couldn't wait until the next day to take him to the med center because it was my first day of a new job. So I decided that we should probably go get it checked out. We tried several med centers who ALL had two to three hour waits. Finally, two hours after normal bedtime, we got in, saw a provided, had an x-ray, and had a diagnosis...sprain. I took a picture of the swollen pinkie next to his normal one before they "buddy wrapped" his pinkie with the ring finger. He was pitching quite the fit about wearing tape on his finger to school so we stopped at CVS on the way to school and picked up a "buddy wrap" made from soft material and he was much more relaxed about the whole thing.

So indeed...mama doesn't know best. Or maybe she does but doesn't listen to herself. My instinct was to just buddy wrap the finger and wait until the following afternoon. But instead, we spent hours in a med center waiting room. I did give him a little extra sleep this morning and took them to school a little late, still giving me a chance to get to my new job to observe a 10:0 class.

I am excited about starting the job. In the next five weeks, they are planning to train me to teach all of their classes, including music, play, sports, and school readiness. This manager actually told me that they were excited to find me and I was a God send to them. I hope I can live up to that expectation. I just wish I had found this six months ago...

Have a good Wednesday :)