Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Our school district has a "Festival of the Arts" in March/April of every year. There's a band concert, featuring two invitation-only 5th grade bands, both 6th grade bands (two 5th/6th schools in the district), 7th and 8th grade bands from the middle school, and all 4 high school bands. On a different night, there's an orchestra concert with a similar format. There's a chorus concert night, again with choruses (chorusi?) from the 5th grade up, and an art show with pieces from all the schools in the district, selected by the art teachers at each of the schools. All these things are on different nights over a two week period.

We were joking the other day about the festival. Rachel got asked to be in the 5th grade orchestra, JC of course is in 8th grade band, and Rachel also got asked to be in the 5th grade chorus. So we were laughting about being at every event except the art show.

You guessed it. We got a certificate home today, congratulating us on William's artwork which will be at the art show.

A good snicker

Check out this post over at Don't Get Me Started. Made me laugh.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Baritone/Tuba Duet

It's awesome. Hope the audition for the talent show goes this well.

I'm really proud of the boys, not only for having the idea and finding the music, but for putting in the work to make it sound good. And for not being flustered by the sheet music falling - they had just finished that page, so they just kept going. That's being professional.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Reading to William's class was fun. I chose "Giraffe and A Half", at the teacher's request. They'd done a Shel Silverstein book a few days earlier, and she was thrilled that I was willing to read this one - if you've never read it, there's a lot of rhyming repetion that sounds best if you read it as FAST as you can, preferably in one big breath. Apparently, a lot of adults aren't willing. I'm always happy to make a fool of myself in front of children, and 1st graders are a great audience.

This afternoon, JC and his friend from band got together to practice their piece for the upcoming talent show. They are playing the theme from Super Mario Brothers - as a duet for tuba and baritone. Nick found the music online.

The internet is a strange and wonderful place.

Friday, February 20, 2009

There's always something (yet again)

I've had two out three kids home sick the past three days. William threw up at school on Wednesday - I feel bad about that one because he wasn't feeling great in the morning, and I was thinking I should keep him home. But he wanted to go. So he came home, threw up again that afternoon, but aftwards seemed pretty perky. Yesterday morning he had pain in his ear, but that passed so he was bored most of the day. That same morning, Rachel came down saying her tummy felt "funny". I caved and let her stay home too, feeling like I was being had, but then she threw up later in the afternoon. And this morning she still felt funny, so I let her stay home on the better safe than sorry principle. But William is back to school today, and no call from the nurse yet.

I have to leave in 5 minutes to go read to his class. Rachel will hang out on her own for the 45 minutes or less that I'll be gone. I love having kids old enough to stay home alone. It's made my life SO much easier.

I asked William if he wanted to help me pick out a book, or if I should surprise him. He said, "surprise me." So I have Giraffe and a Half by Shel Silverstein, or The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. Both are very cute, although the Silverstein book is more of a challenging read - but it's so much fun to do it fast and exaggerate taking a deep breath. I'll let the teacher pick, but I'm hoping I can do both.

And this morning, Sheba knocked my mother's painting off the mantle. I liked the way it looked just leaning on the wall - never occured to me I was courting disaster. The glass broke and the frame is a little nicked up. The cat and the painting are fine. Guess I have to go get a piece of glass cut now. Grrr...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Day at the Museum

We went to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (which always makes me want to say it the way the Pace salsa ads do - "NOO YAWK CITY!") yesterday.

I love museums. My parents took us to many museums when I was a kid. My father was a die-hard model railroader. Not "toy trains", but model railroads - these guys make detailed re-creations of various railroads around the world, keeping everything to scale. Dad was never much on the scenery department, but laying track and wiring and building the layout? That was his thing.

Anyway, Dad would attend the national convention whenever possible, which was held in various cities around the US and Canada. So that was our family vacation in the summer - travelling to whichever city the convention was in, and while Dad did his railroad stuff, Mom and us kids would see whatever sights there were to be seen. That usually included at least one museum. Always the science/natural history museum if there was one, and usually an art museum too.

So I have good associations with museums. I love reading the signs and learning something new (waterproof eggs were an important development in the evolution of land animals!), and I'm not very picky about the subject. AMNH is great for people like me - it has a lot of exhibits about a lot of things. We started with dinosaurs and the fossil halls, hit a little bit of human evolution on our way to gems and minerals, and picked up people of the pacific islands while making our way to reptiles.

It was crowded, of course, although not as crowded as the first time we went last year. I had purchased a membership last year, so this time we just walked right past the lines, and since we weren't doing any shows, I didn't have to pay anything (extra) for admission. We bopped around a bit (as you might have gathered), mostly hitting things we felt we'd missed last time. We wanted to find the big Polynesian statue and Rexie from Night at the Museum, which we did. I also insisted on the minerals, which the kids were iffy on until we got there. We didn't do any of the planetarium stuff this time, but you know, we don't live so far away. We can go again.

We had one experience that was extra special, at least to me. Right after we got there, we were looking for the elevator to go up to the 4th floor where the dinosaurs were. A guard heard me say something about the 4th floor, and told us to go to a different elevator, that would take us express. It turned out to be one of the freight elevators, at least as big as the kids rooms (probably at least 12x12x12). It came with an old-fashioned expanding gate and an operator! So he was telling us how this was not even the biggest elevator, plus we got to watch the walls go by through the gate, and we should really do the sleepover at the museum when Night at the Museum 2 comes out. The ride was too short - I love getting to go "behind the scenes".

The other revelation of the day was William. We took the subway (drops you right in the basement of the museum), and he was very VERY cautious about the edge of the platform. I stepped close to (but not on) the yellow line, and he was pulling my hand getting me away from the edge. And he didn't want anyone near that edge. This from the kid that was jumping down multiple stairs at time at the museum.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Never a Dull Moment

So it has not been a quiet week here in Lake Wobegone. John spent most of the week in Los Angeles. He had meetings and conferences but did have some time to kill Friday afternoon before getting on the red-eye (ugh) flight home. He went down to the beach, and snapped this lovely post-rain shot. Meanwhile, back on the home front, I was dealing with all the usual stuff, plus report cards, a major windstorm, which led to a 6 hour power outage Thursday afternoon/evening, and braces for Rachel. The power outage was complicated by the fact that Rachel had a paper to type. That was due the next day. That she hadn't started typing yet, and that I was unaware of up until that point - well, except that I had been asking her when it was due for quite some time, and she didn't seem to know. She honestly thought that since her rough draft had been approved by the teacher, all she needed to do was type that up. I know they talk about editing in school, and we've edited with her, was she not paying attention???? And of course, the power outage started about 3pm, just before she got home from school, and ended about 9pm.

It worked out ok, I made the kids do their homework while it was still daylight, and we went out to dinner. Then I took all the kids plus my laptop over to the church, plugged in, and Rachel typed her paper while I had choir practice. By the time we got home, the power was on, so I printed her paper and made comments on it while they all went to bed. The next morning, I got her up early, and she and I worked on it after I put William on the bus. Thank goodness her school starts the latest, and that morning she actually had a 9am appointment to get her braces, so we had a few extra minutes. The braces didn't take long, and she made it to school, with a decent paper, in time for her math test.

Her teeth are still kind of sore, but she's adjusting. I stand by my theory that Advil is a wonder drug.

I thought I'd post some of my finished objects that I've knitted. I haven't yet taken a picture of both socks, but they've been worn and washed once already. I finished the item that I'm sending my sister for the baby, but I want to get that mailed to her before I post it.

I knitted and felted this bag in November, but I still haven't gotten around to sewing on the embellishments. It came out smaller than I was hoping, but it's nifty, and it was fun to felt it. I'm thinking I should make a larger felted bag/purse, but I'm still looking at patterns.

Sheba had to get in on the picture taking. Walking on knitted objects soon leads to sitting on knitted objects.
And this is the sweater I cast on. It's a top-down V-neck pullover pattern from Knitting Pure and Simple. I just started the 2nd skein of wool (Cascade 220 Paints in #9844, which is a blue/purple/green variegated), and I'm still on the shoulders, so I have a ways to go. I cast on a pair of socks for Rachel in a cheapo sock yarn from Michaels, but I'm not really liking either the color or the pattern so far, so even though I have about 4 inches knit already, I'm thinking of ripping them out and either starting over in a different pattern or just using a different yarn. It takes me so long to make progress that I'm reluctant to just frog it, but...

We'll see. Tomorrow the kids are off from school, so we are planning to go into New York and visit the Natural History Museum. I'm probably driving into Hoboken and then taking the PATH (subway) in, so I probably won't take knitting with me. Even though socks are the perfect thing to knit on the subway.

And John and I did go out to dinner for Valentine's Day. I had made reservations (on the theory that if I wanted to go out, I had better make my own reservations) at a semi-upscale Italian place. It was nice, I had buffalo carppaccio and grilled swordfish with a crabmeat risotto, and John had buffalo mozzarella and then ostrich. Yes, around here that is semi-upscale. The REALLY nice place (I got to go once) closed about a year ago after they were damaged in a flood. It was a five-star restaurant, and really was better than anyplace else I've ever eaten. Then we walked around the mall afterwards, and actually got to talk to each other without interruptions. It was very nice.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Heat Wave

It is 60 deg. F outside. Maybe even a little more than that.

We so needed this break from the cold. Yes, I know there are many people who are enduring colder weather than we did, but hey, if you're in Toronto or Minnesota, you should know what you're in for. Most of the snow has melted, but there's still ice along the sides of the road. Tonight it's supposed to rain, which should wash the last of the snow and ice and salt away.

Just in time for this weekend, when they're predicting 40's and "wintery mix". Goody.

This morning, William wore his sweatshirt instead of a coat. He then proceeded to tell everyone at the bus stop (loudly, of course), that they didn't need to be wearing their winter coats. "It's warm! I just have a sweatshirt on!"

Enjoy it while you can, kid. I don't think winter's over yet.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dogs Dogs Dogs

Is that like Van Halen's "Girls Girls Girls"?

We watched the Westminster Dog Show last night. For those not in the know, this is the MOST PRESTIGIOUS dog show in the country (if not the world), if they do say so themselves.

For the rest of us? A chance to watch an amazing variety of furry fluffy barky dogs, and find out a little bit about the breeds. And some of them are amazingly furry and fluffy, and groomed within an inch of their lives. And some are clearly groomed but much more natural looking, and oh so everlasting cute. And invariably I find myself thinking, "you know, we could get a dog," which is emphasized by all three children bringing up the subject as well.

But we're not getting a dog. We have no fence (biggest issue) and most of our family lives thousands of miles away, so when we travel to see them a couple of times a year, we'd have to do something with the dog. Cats, I can have a neighbor's child come in once a day and they're fine. Can't do that to a dog. Yes, I know there are kennels and walkers and such, but still, it's much harder.

But I love watching the dogs. They're on again tonight, 8pm est on USA. Tune in and see the tongues wag!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Random Sunday Night Thoughts

We had beautiful weather this weekend. It hit 60 F today. 60! In February! We opened all the windows. We closed them again about an hour later, because, after all, it was 60 outside, and while that's relatively warm, it's not really warm.

We finally put the cover on our trailer. It's in storage, but still outside, and the day we took it over there (in November), it was dark by the time we got it parked. So we kept saying we would go back and put the cover on. But every time we thought about it, it was raining, had just rained, was snowing, or still had snow on it. But today was the perfect opportunity, and now it can be protected. At least until we take it off again in a couple of months.

I cast on a sweater. A top-down v-neck from Knitting Pure and Simple. I went to the yarn store, thinking I would buy a new yarn for the pattern I had (a cardigan, same company), because I'd decided I didn't want that pattern in the yarn I had bought for it. Found a LOVELY wine-colored alpaca/silk blend. Just the right weight. Way way WAY too expensive. Bought a $5 pattern for the yarn I already have. I've done about 8 rows so far. This may take a while.

I've been a complete schmuck. Adam's mom called and left a message on Friday. I haven't called her all week, and I haven't called her back yet. No reason, just haven't. I feel bad, which makes me not want to call her back because I don't have a good reason, so that makes it worse. I have to call her tomorrow morning. As soon as Rachel's on the bus.

Actually made some progress cleaning up the kitchen and the craft room this weekend. If I applied myself, I could be done with the craft room in two hours or less. But there are things I am putting off deciding about, so it's easy to get distracted.

Speaking of getting distracted, I've now been distracted from finishing this post. Time to wrap it up. On to a new week.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Role Models

I've been thinking about this whole Michael Phelps thing. There are those who say, "eh, he's a young man who made a mistake, no big." And there are those who say, "He's a role model, he should know better, now what do I say to my kids?"

I'll say up front that I lean towards the first camp.

But I think the bigger discussion is about role models in general. Like it or not, people in the public eye are held up as role models. It is hard for me to tell how many of them "choose" that designation. We certainly put star athletes in that position, musicians, actors, politicians? Not so much anymore, but certainly Barack Obama is a role model. gives multiple definitions.
  1. a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, esp. by younger people.
  2. A person who serves as a model in a particular behavioral or social role for another person to emulate.
  3. someone worthy of imitation; "every child needs a role model"
  4. A person who serves as an example of the values, attitudes, and behaviors associated with a role.

There are subtle differences here - there's a difference to me between "serving as a model" and "worthy of imitation."

Back to Michael Phelps. I think he still is a role model. I think he is a wonderful example of how dedication and hard work can achieve unbelievable goals. I also think we ask a lot of our role models - we expect all of their behavior to be exemplary all of the time. And in this day and age of instant communication, that includes their private behavior. How many of us can say that we are "worthy of imitation" ALL the time? And lest you say, but wait, I'm not a public figure, well, yes, you are. There are people who know you, and especially if you have children, they're watching you a good portion of the time. You may be more inspiring than you know.

A model is not the real thing. A model is a mock up or facsimile, used as an example. A model may, for example, be hollow inside (John Edwards comes to mind). But a model can still give us an example of something worthy of imitation. Something to strive for, with the awareness that real people are, well, real. They make mistakes, the role models (of all levels of fame) apologize, and they strive to learn from those mistakes. That's the behavior we should be imitating. That's the lesson we should be passing on to our kids. That's the real-life role model that all the 12-step programs use - one day at a time, don't beat yourself up, learn and grow. Our current president has admitted smoking pot. But somewhere along the line, he learned that it was not compatible with achieving his goals, he learned from his mistakes, and now look what he's done!

Rather than being disillusioned with Michael Phelps as a role model, use it as a teaching moment that real people make mistakes. Role models 'fess up, learn their lesson, and continue to be worthy of imitation. And having compassion for people, in all their imperfectness, well, that's a lesson a good role model teaches us, too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

One of these things is not like the others...

A friend pointed out to me that I hadn't revealed which card was mine.

Sorry, I thought it was so obvious that I couldn't believe that nobody got it.

I made the pirate card (4th from top). When we first got the invitation, I was trying to think of something clever and different, technique-wise, that could still be done in 10 minutes.

And then I thought about Adam, and how we need to send him a "thinking of you" card. And, well, one thing led to another, and pirates were an obvious choice.

Many stampers struggle with "guy" cards. So many stamp sets are florals, or "cute", it can be really hard to make a more masculine card. And yes, I know my card has pink on it. It needed an accent.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Yes, my fears about this morning were well-founded. JC got up just fine, bless his early-bird heart. William actually got out of bed a little better than usual. Go figure. He was still a little grumpy, but since he got up on the early side, we had time for a cuddle on the couch.

Rachel got up complaining that her stomach felt funny, and she didn't feel very good. Classic post-late-night syndrome. I thought about insisting that she go to school. I thought about the fact that William threw up Saturday night - just once, and then he felt fine, but still. I thought about an excuse not to go to the gym. I thought about not getting to go to the gym. I thought about taking a nap, too.

I let her stay home. Call it a mental-health day. She seems to do this a couple of times during the school year - if it was more often, I'd call her on it. As it is, she'll be back at school tomorrow (barring snow day) and won't have missed much. Of course, she'll have extra homework to do on her birthday, so she gets "punishment" after all. (Insert evil laugh here).

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Super Super Bowl

I really enjoyed the Super Bowl this year. We had a few friends over, we ate mostly stuff from the freezer and leftovers, we did spend the afternoon cleaning but the house needed it anyway.

And it was a good game! There were even a few good comercials.

What more could you want? No, I didn't care strongly who won, so no matter what happened it was exciting. Not quite as exciting as last year when I did care, but that's ok. Next year is another season.

Of course, I'm not looking forward to tomorrow morning - we let all three kids stay up to watch the end of the game. And, unlike in Pittsburgh, the chances of us having a delayed opening tomorrow are slim to none. Oh well. I just have to bomb them out of bed - in theory, I could take a nap during the day.