music man

Flip, as a newly minted middle-schooler, chose band as an elective this year. Despite my status as a former band geek (actually, I'm not sure I can say "former" - I still love it), I can say with all forthrightness that I did not influence this decision at all. Really. He made a list of pros and cons for all his elective choices and based his decision on that. So, now we are serenaded by "Go Tell Aunt Rhodie," "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Ode to Joy" on the trumpet, almost every day. (We also hear his two newest hits - the theme from the Wallace and Gromit movies and something that sounds like Land of a Thousand Dances - both of which he figured out himself.)

Two nights ago, we had the opportunity to go hear the Dallas Brass perform at a fundraiser for a local high school. The word went out to all middle school and high school band students, and since we (read "I") didn't want to miss the opportunity, we invested in tickets for the whole family. (I really did want everyone to go, but mostly Flip. Frankly, I wanted to see Flip get really thrilled about something. He can be quite passive in his enthusiasm.)

Dallas Brass is composed of 5 brass players (2 trumpets, a trombone, a horn and a tuba) and 1 percussionist. They tour around the country as well as some international locations, and also do clinics for school bands, which is how we got to see them. The concert spanned American musical history, beginning with some classical music (from Europe, since that's where many of our forefathers originated from) and working its way through patriotic marches, folk songs, jazz, the birth of rock 'n roll, and even some hip-hop. (At least I think that's how that last one would be defined - I don't know; my radio's usually tuned to NPR or this really great independent rock station.)

I was riveted from the first note. I've always loved the big, warm sound of brass, so it wasn't hard for me to get caught up in what was coming from the stage. But when my eyes weren't on the stage, they were on Flip. Come on, I found myself silently pleading with him, feel this! See what you could do! Someone's throwing you a ball, catch it! I didn't care if the trumpet specifically got him; it could be any of the other instruments. Mainly just the music. The first half of the concert came and went. I asked him during the intermission, "So, what do you think?" "Oh, it's pretty good." (Pretty good??? my inner band geek griped, but I restrained her.)

The second half began, and somewhere - I don't even remember where - a big grin spread across his face, his eyes got bigger, and the light went on. It might have been during the 15-minute drum solo, or the jazz piece that all 5 brass players came down into the audience to perform (the trombonist was flinging his slide right down our row, and Miss Bee, who had fallen asleep, didn't even wake up!), or the performance with the other middle school of the theme from "Super Mario Brothers", but his foot started tapping somewhere in there. He was getting it! Oh, I was ecstatic. He stayed with it all the way to the end, which was school-night late (10:00), which - who knows? - might have been the real reason he was grinning so much.

After the concert, the members of the ensemble assembled in the lobby to sign autographs and answer questions. I persuaded Flip to have one of the trumpet players sign his program (there were CDs and posters available for purchase which would have been better to sign, but we had already blown our budget for the evening on the tickets). Flip was nervous to ask him, but I went with him and he was okay. I told him Flip was a new trumpet player this year, and he asked him how that was going with his mouth full of braces, and then told him that when they came off, he'd sound awesome because there'd be nothing standing between his lips and the trumpet mouthpiece. That seemed to satisfy Flip, and on that note, we went out to the car and drove our tired family home.
I wish I could tell you about the hours of dedicated practice that followed this occasion, but I can't. Even as I finish this post (today is 2-15/11, 3 months after I started it - I know; I'm playing catch-up), the trumpet-practicing battle wages on. But now Flip's repertoire has extended to include "Erie Canal", several Christmas carols, and a few scales, major and chromatic. And when we filled out a questionnaire last month for his Primary class at church for the other kids to learn more about him, his response to "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was "jazz musician". He could still turn out to be a music man.



Today is a special day, not to be repeated for another 100 years. Notice the date? It's 10-10-10! Such a day must be celebrated, don't you think? Here is the breakdown of the roundtuit household 10-10-10 party:

Tomato soup with 10 mix-ins to choose from: salsa, cheddar cheese, smashed-up tortilla chips, taco seasoning, goldfish crackers, Ritz crackers, crumbled bacon, chopped pepperoni, parmesan cheese, and Cholula sauce (for DH). Homemade, slightly burnt-on-the-bottom breadsticks completed the meal. And......

....if you lay a breadstick next to your bowl of soup, you get a perfect 10! (Bah-dum ching!)

Dessert was a 10 made from chocolate cakes baked in a loaf pan and an 8" round pan, frosted with chocolate glaze. Yum!

The evening's festivities will conclude with the family listing 10 things we like about each family member. (And nothing like "What I like about Miss Bee is when she leaves my stuff alone" will be allowed, Stuntman.) It's a new roundtuit family holiday! What will we do for 11-11-11? Or 12-12-12? (Or maybe I won't bother planning anything for 12-12-12 - isn't the world supposed to end on that day? Who wants to put in all that work for nothing?) Happy 10-10-10!

P.S. I can't take credit for this fun idea, which was suggested by my friend Elizabeth, whose other ideas for special days such as "Mass Transit Day" and planned food fights (which I never had the guts to attend but admired for their creativity) will live long in my memory. (I wonder if she had a chocolate 10 for dessert today.)



Let us pause for a moment and remember DH and Stuntman in our prayers, as they are on a mountain on the previously mentioned pack trip and we would like them to return down the mountain, unassisted by stretchers, helipcopters or any other means that mean they were injured or otherwise unable to walk. We thank you for your support.

summer blues and greens

Are you like me? Do you see the end of school/beginning of summer coming and brace yourself against having to entertain bored children (that's all my kids seem to say during the summer - "Mom, I'm so bored. This house is so boring") while simultaneously making lists of summer projects, things you want to teach your kids (because now you'll "have time"), vacation plans, academic instruction periods (because we can't let their brains turn to mush, now), etc.? Why yes, you're right - that IS a long list of to-dos for one summer, and NO, of course I won't actually DO all of them. I just make the lists. That's my point.

Along with the green of summer - the newness of being with the kids all day, the vision of doing worthwhile, wholesome activities without having to worry about school - there come the blues: the realization that making such lists also creates the possibility that the little box next to each item may remain unchecked because my list is too long (and let's face it, a little unrealistic - at least for me).

But don't worry about us; we're cool. Everything's cool. This week, instead of focusing on all the things I feel like cramming into the next 3 months, we had a "just for fun" week. DH and Stuntman are on a High Adventure pack trip with the scouts in New Mexico, so Flip and Miss Bee have set a goal: one "fun" thing every day (after swim practice and a few chores in the morning). Monday was a trip to the craft store to use our 50% off coupon on some projects, which we took home and worked on, yesterday was bowling and games with our summer bowling pass (check it out here, but only if your kids REALLY like bowling; I found out too late that 2 free games every day for a whole summer wasn't really Flip's idea of a fun summer activity), and today was lunch and a swim (and a sunburn on Bee's nose) at the pool. I'll admit, it has been nice not only not worrying about schoolwork, but also not worrying about The Summer Activity List. Isn't summertime when the livin' is supposed to be easy? This week is all about easy. Okay, so the dog chewed up Flip's orthodontic appliance, which we only just got Monday to replace the one he lost at cub scout day camp - that was definitely a blue; not a green - but we're cool, we're cool.


file under "what is this world coming to?"

"I know this is stupid, but I really need help...have you ever taken an ACT for somebody, my friend that graduated from my highschool bak in 2008 had somebody take his test for him and he got a good score...I have football scholarships and I need to pass my ACT in order to get me scholarship, I dont want to have to go to junior college I already tried taking the test 5 times the highest score I got was a 12 i tried studying for it and iv'e had no luck...So at this point i'll do wat ever it takes ,I can provide the fake id for you and $400 for you if you would take the test for me and get a score of 18 or higher for me...Im sorry but I need my scholarship and IM willing to do wat ever it takes to get my football scholarship, so if you can help plz email me bak. the test is on 6/12/10"

This is a direct quote from a post on craigslist.com in our area I found while looking for possible editing/writing gigs. I want to write this poor guy a note and tell him how the fallout from this would be much worse than losing any football scholarship - worse because he'd have to live with the knowledge that his college career was built on a false foundation (no, not on his amazing football skills). He sounds so desperate. It makes me sad!


you're gonna stand

So I went to a spin class today - so far the only weekly gym activity that is justifying my YMCA dues this year. The instructor was new to me, since she had a baby recently and took some time off (of course, she looked nothing like someone who'd had a baby recently), so I've only seen her substitute the past couple of months. Anyway, she was kind of a nice change from the sub, who I liked, but this girl has a different approach that I liked more. She had a way of preparing you for the changes in pace or tension that were coming up in the routine so you knew what was ahead of you: "Here's a hill - we're gonna increase tension on the way up, then sprint at the top and coast down." "You're gonna do 30-second sprints at a 7 on a 1-10 scale; we're doing 3 minutes; go!" (Or something like this. Like I said, I'm a once-a-week spin class attendee.) It got me thinking.

(Oh, and lest you think I'm morphing into one of those athletic types who uses sports metaphors for everything, don't worry. "Athletic" definitely does not describe me. And I rarely wax contemplative on exercise equipment.)

Actually, I was thinking how UNlike life this is. We don't usually get heads-ups when changes are ahead. Major changes, I mean. What I wouldn't give for a "Warning: back surgery ahead for husband" or "Caution: possible layoffs" sign. Then whatever shoring up of resources (sorry for the Sarah Palin quote; it does fit) had to be done would be done, and I'd be prepared for anything.

Of course, this is not how life works, and our mettle is truly tested with the unexpected. I mean, if someone were to even suggest that something like a struggling kid in school or a car-totaling accident might be in your future, even if you just what-iffed those possibilities, your first thought might even be Wow, I don't know how I'd handle that. Or That sounds hard. A reaction of self-doubt. But sometimes, it's not till you're in the middle of one of these that you suddenly find yourself handling it. There's just no other way through it. And you may find out that you're made of tougher stuff than you thought.

Here's one more thing that spin class instructor said that I liked. Preparing us for a climb, she told us to "gear up" (increase tension on the bike) and added, "Okay, you're gonna stand" (to pedal harder). Now there's something I can use, even with the unexpected. Because even when you don't know what's coming, it's good to think that - no matter what - you're gonna stand.

*thanks to www.vecteezy.com for use of header image*