play, magic fingers!

Today I had my first guitar lesson! DH got me a guitar for Christmas and I'm swapping lessons with a neighbor down the street - piano for guitar. Works out great, since all the guitar teachers I checked out in our area charge upwards of $90/month. Yikes! But no worries for me! My new student is a sixth-grader who has had a little piano experience, but I'm still starting her from the beginning. Her dad is teaching me guitar.
Starting a new student is so much fun. It's just so exciting to watch as someone learns the basics - hand position, how to listen and what to listen for, the names of the notes, etc. There is so much ahead for her; so many possibilities of what she'll be able to do with the skills she'll learn. (As long as she practices!) On the other hand, I find myself getting impatient for new kids to learn those basics so we can move on to the application stage, where we can take those basics and talk about everything you can do with them. That's where the magic happens; that's when their little brains get to be creative and they turn into composers.
As for me and the guitar, we aren't friends quite yet - my teacher showed me how to play 2 chords and a scale, and my fingers are very sore. According to him, "all" it will take to overcome the soreness is 30 min. of practice a day for a week. Okay, so that's the same that I require of my students, and I shouldn't complain, but pianos don't HURT. I shall persevere, however - 30 min. of 4-2-1 strumming, C scales using all 6 strings, and D-A7 chords will fly from my fingers all week, because I want to play the guitar that badly. I'm excited to be learning.



Well, here I thought we had escaped the self-administered-haircut trial so many parents of toddlers seem to have stories about, and it turns out we didn't. Miss Bee and I were doing some crafts together yesterday and she disappeared under the table when it was over, playing with some leftover craft-foam shapes (or so I thought). She reappeared, announcing, "I cut my hair!" and sure enough, there, along with several foam fairies, plastic jewels and a small pile of glitter, was the Bee-sized handful of hair on the floor under the table to prove it. Although it could have been a lot worse, it's still upsetting, and wouldn't even be quite so much that if she hadn't done the same thing last week. (I already paid someone to fix her last "style;" I've already decided to just wait this one out.) Needless to say, all scissors have been whisked away to a high shelf, and Miss Bee had to be content today with gluing construction paper scraps that Mommy cut out for her, as opposed to her own cutouts. Stay tuned - the next time you see our girl, she might show up with a pixie cut...hopefully, not entirely of her own doing.


a quick note on empathy

My husband is a triathlete. Yep, he does it all - swims, bikes, runs. And trains for it, too. This means many evenings and Saturday afternoons alone while he is out putting another notch on his training schedule. I'm happy he's doing something that makes him happy. But sometimes I find myself pouting all the same.

Even if I do complain, though, there is one perk - empathy. Let me explain. To be as speedy as possible in the water, he shaves his legs. To be as speedy (and comfortable) as possible on the bike, he wears bib bike shorts - bike shorts with sort of suspender-strap things attached to them that cut down on waistline slippage (see above - no, that's not my husband). How many women can say that their husbands know the woes of both razor rash on your thighs AND having to use the bathroom while wearing a one-piece bathing suit? Enough said.


the pink plate

In the cupboard where we keep the unbreakable dinnerware for the kids, there is a set of plastic plates in a dazzling array of colors: red, blue, yellow, lime green, turquoise blue, and pink. We've had most of these plates since the two boys were little; when we finally had a girl, I'll admit that I tripped off to Wal-mart and lovingly purchased one pink plate, stereotypes aside.

This, along with several girly outfits and dolls, was just okay with our Miss Bee for awhile. Sometime between then and now, she has come to the conclusion that she will someday be a boy. I can no longer depend on her to wear whatever outfits I pick out for her at the store (she would rather raid her brothers' dresser drawers), I apparently can't make any reference to her being a girl at ALL ("Mom, I'm going to be a boy, and don't say I'm a girl!") and she refuses to eat off the pink plate. (Although she begs me to paint her toenails, so figure that one out.) When Grandma called and asked for suggestions for Christmas presents last month, I put dress-up clothes and a tea set on the list, only because I had seen her play with these things at a friend's house. We called Grandma and Grandpa on Christmas morning to thank them for their gifts to the family, and when Grandma asked Miss Bee if she liked the Cinderella dress she gave her, she said, in a plaintive little voice, "No." (I think I gasped.) I don't think this is a gender confusion issue; I think it's just little kid logic at work - she has 2 older brothers who obviously grew up to be boys, so why shouldn't every kid in our family?

I'm okay with this for the most part. I realize not every girl is a girly girl. Of course she is free to be whatever kind of girl she's going to be. However, I guess (like any other situation where expectations are not met with assumed results) I am still a little bit sad. The pink plate has sort of come to represent that things are not the way I thought they would be. Miss Bee is no less lovable than she'd be if she was a pink-plate girl, though, so I can be okay with that.

But the other day, Daddy took the boys out for some father-son time and Miss Bee and I were left all alone for a few hours. She wanted to have a tea party (really?), so we went to the grocery store and picked out a fancy, baby-sized cake with a silver ribbon on top and brought it home, amid much ceremony. We spread Mom's lace tablecloth on the coffee table and laid out our spread: orange juice (in the little pink teapot), flower- and star-shaped tortillas sprinkled with sugar (from the little blue sugar bowl), and our purple-polka-dotted cake from the bakery. Halfway through the party, Miss Bee exclaimed, "I forgot my princess dress!" The party stopped while she changed into her frock, and resumed immediately after. What other word could I use for such an occasion other than glorious - just lovely. After it was over, the Cinderella dress came off, Mom cleaned up the mess (there was a leak in the creamer, we found out), and the guys came home.

This little event hasn't really changed anything - Miss Bee appeared this morning in a pair of red flowered pants and Flip's gray pullover shirt - but it was a most pleasant time; just me and my girl, and it's okay if the princess dress stays in the closet for awhile. I love just being with her.

But maybe I'll put the pink plate on the table for dinner tonight and see what happens.


a party in my tummy

Tonight, we went out (with the kids, even) to a "nice" restaurant - "nice" being defined as "no one can wear their sweatpants here". We went to Texas de Brazil, which is a churrascaria (dh, a returned missionary from Brazil, says something like "shoo-hoss-ca-DEE-a"), which is delicious. I will now describe the experience - vegetarians, you will not be that interested, so stop after the salad bar.

Upon being seated, you tell the waiter what you want to drink, and then you are released to the salad bar, which beats the pants off any other salad bar you will ever walk around with a plate - aside from the usual salad greens, you can choose from soup, marinated vegetables, imported cheeses, sushi (which you would never find in a Brazilian churrascaria, dh was careful to point out), hunks (not slices) of smoked salmon, potatoes au gratin (also not Brazilian, but yum!), olives, breads, and many other delights I did not have room on my plate or in my stomach to sample. After you are finished with your salad bar findings, you signal to your waiter to bring you a clean plate. Each place at the table has a small round token, green on one side and red on the other. You flip this to green, and immediately thereafter, men with huge skewers of grilled meat will flock to your table and slice off small chunks of it right in front of you, which you grab with your very own set of tongs and put on your plate. Different cuts and varieties of beef, pork, sausage, chicken (wrapped in bacon), filet mignon (!) - shazam; right on your plate. When you want them to stop, you flip your token to red, then back to green; etc., etc.

What a feast! I think the kids enjoyed it, for the most part. Stuntman, who is truly a little carnivore, was quite speechless: guys coming at him from all sides, one at a time, like bad guys in a Jackie Chan movie, and each one bringing meat - meat! On a giant SWORD! I think he was even a little overwhelmed - at one point he put his head in his hands and looked like he might need a little air (it was rather noisy and very busy; easy for a little system to get overloaded). Flip, a picky eater, did try everything on his plate and found several things to his liking. Miss Bee did surprisingly well for a 3 1/2-year-old who doesn't like wearing "nice" clothes, waiting for tables OR very many kinds of meat. (Her dinner: carrots with a bit of greens still on the end, bread, sausage, baby corn on the cob, bread, bacon from the salad bar, cinnamon fried bananas, cheese, and bread. We're okay with that for one night.)

Needless to say, this is a once-a-year (or even every couple of years) kind of an experience for our family, because of the gastric overload and because of the pricey bill, but the only reason we went was because Mom was scouring the internet for any kind of a coupon to this place for dh's Christmas present, came up with nothing but did sign up on the restaurant's website for emailed offers, and received one a couple of weeks ago for 50% off your bill Jan. 1-3. Not a bad deal! And now, dh can start on his New Year's resolution to lose 15 lbs. in preparation for the Cowtown Marathon (which I am planning to run also, but only the half marathon, so I don't have to lose so much) and Redman Triathlon in Oklahoma City this year. For a "last meal" (as he put it), it was worth every calorie.