Wednesday, April 30, 2008

3 and 3

Ok, here's a new idea I had this morning, and figured I'd try it out. I was thinking over some things I wanted to post and complain about, but then I also remembered a few good things that have happened that I'm thankful I'll give ya both. This is a list of today's Top 3 Good Things and Top 3 Bad Things:

Today stinks because--
* it took me an hour and 45 minutes to drive to school this morning, because of the #&*@* traffic! Should have taken 20 minutes at the most. So I was 30 minutes late for my 45-minute-long Band class. :(
*Our new "refurbished" laptop died last night, while I was using it. I swear I didn't do anything, but it just crashed and now it doesn't even recognize that it has a hard drive at all!!!! Refurbished, my butt. :(
*I cannot be away from the Kleenex box for any length of time, and the amount of horrendously yucky junk that's coming out of my nose is just ridiculous. :( Isn't it May yet?

Today rocks because--
* Barack Obama finally threw Rev. Wright under the bus, as they say. I know he hated to do it, was hoping he wouldn't have to, but had no choice. I hope this will turn things around so he can get back to focusing on what matters to us.
* Andrew's getting recognized at church on Sunday for a piece of artwork he made in Sunday school. Our church uses young kids' artwork each year as covers for the church directories, and his got chosen this time!
* There are only 12 more days of school for me, after today. WOO HOO!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and one more:
* DH interviewed this morning for the new job he wants (I've posted about it before) and thinks it went well. He should be finding out for sure within the next couple of weeks. Fingers and toes are staying crossed until then! :)

Monday, April 28, 2008

This just makes me so sad

Readers of this blog (love ya!) know that I'm a political junkie, and seem to be raising my kids to be the same (much to DHs surprise!). And I've posted at length about my crush on Barack Obama (LOL!)......seriously, the fact that I am an Obama supporter and have been following the political campaigns incessantly. I have had so much hope, but I feel it draining out on a daily basis.

This morning, I'm at an all-time low where this topic is concerned. I've been proud to be able to speak up for Obama, wear my campaign shirt, argue in a passionate and informed way when I encounter opposition, etc. But the downward slide started when this stupid crap started up about his former pastor a few weeks ago. Soundbite after soundbite flooded the airwaves, and I'd be lying if I said they weren't shocking and distressing, even to me. On Sirius radio one evening, I managed to find a talk show playing the FULL recording of one of those sermons from which the horrid soundbites came. The sermon lasted more than 30 minutes, and was so very enlightening. When you hear those quotes in context, they are not nearly as inflammatory as they were when heard alone. Still bad, mind you, but hearing those statements at the end of 30 minutes of historical context makes them sound quite different. If you want to hear it for yourself, I found it here .

Anyway, there was a big uproar for a week or so about why Obama stayed in this church, did he endorse the inflammatory statements, etc.........and then it started to blow over, thankfully. It was painful to watch, and I began to feel less and less confident in speaking up in support of him. It is hard to rationalize why he stayed there, how he could not have known these things were said, etc.

Well, over the weekend the illustrious Rev. Wright popped up again, and now he's freakin everywhere! Speech after speech, appearance after appearance, trying to clear his name and clarify things, but what I want him to do is just SHUT UP!!!!!!!!! This is not about you! Do you have any desire whatsoever to see Obama elected? Then get the %#@* out of the way and keep your mouth closed, at least until December or so. But no, he has to keep on talking, keep on digging that hole deeper and deeper, and pushing our goal a bit further away every time.

I hung all of my hopes on this, and it's just so disappointing to see it collapsing before our eyes. I want so much to believe the rhetoric about "a different kind of politics" and the efforts for change that he's promoting, but it will all be for naught if he can't get elected. And if this polarizing ancillary "stuff" keeps pulling him down, that's exactly what's going to happen. Maybe things aren't as bad as I see them, but it literally hurts my heart to listen to my regular morning TV talking heads, and the political radio stuff that I usually follow. It seems to be all negative, and none of it has to do with what he actually wants to do for the country.

After all, it's so much more important to parse every freakin statement out of someone's mouth (someone who is NOT the candidate, btw) rather than focus on 4000 dead in Iraq, $4 gas, and my 401K plan in the toilet. Yep, it's good to have priorities.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Adventures of a T-ball Mom

I can't exactly say what type of hallucinogenic substance I was taking when I did this, but apparently I signed BOTH boys up to play T-ball this season in our local YMCA league. The only stipulation was that they needed to be on the same team (since T-ball goes from age 4-6) I'm now the proud Mom of players #2 and #8 on the Cardinals! First game is tomorrow morning, after 2 weeks of practices on Monday and Thursday nights.

What's interesting is watching the boys out there on the field during practice. It typifies their personalities and behavior traits.........A is the rule-follower, he's very intense, tries so hard to follow step-by-step exactly what the coaches say to do, etc. You can just see the wheels spinning in his brain--"eye on the ball", "step forward and swing", "get in front of the ball" etc.

E, on the other hand, has literally ZERO focus. None. He's thinking about and doing everything but what the coaches are saying. Picking fluffy dandelions to blow the fuzz off, picking tiny wildflowers and running to the bleachers to give them to me, watching birds fly, throwing his glove in the air, introducing himself to parents on the sidelines: "Hi, what's your name?" One night he even sat down on second base like it was a place to relax and hang out!

I should have been a sociologist, LOL! I'm such a people-watcher, and it's so interesting to me, whether it is people I know or even those I don't. Speaking of........what a group of parents we've got on this year's team. There are truly some rednecks, in the greatest Lowcountry sense of the word. And, there is one family in particular that I'm afraid I will not be able to stand for 2 more months.

Their son is 5 (I'm guessing) and both he and his parents already believe he is God's gift to baseball. This T-ball league is totally non-competitive, which means there are no outs in games. Everyone plays, everyone bats in each inning, no score is kept. Most kids have never played any form of baseball before and are just learning basic rules such as hit the ball, run to first base, or get the ball and throw to first base, etc. But this kid already knows ALL of the rules, especially to hear his parents tell it. Last night just took the cake for me, as I listened to them ranting about how pathetic this league they were having to explain to their son why no one ever gets "out", and why he doesn't need to tag the runner with the ball, etc. They're glad the coach is letting him "play first base" all the time, b/c otherwise he'd just be bored to death around here! Oooh, poor baby..........They assured anyone in earshot that this would definitely be the last season their son plays in this league. Guess he'll be the new shortstop for the Yankees in '09, right?

I don't think we're going to be big-time sports parents, honestly. I see our kids being much more into performance and arts stuff, especially A. But if they enjoy it for now, we're encouraging them to participate......but I just don't know if I can stand the attitude of some of those sports parents. Everything's about their child, nothing's good enough, it's all about getting ahead, being better than others and winning is all that matters. Not like I'm old, LOL, but I think I just have too much "life experience" already to think that everything revolves around my child and that we will always be "winners" with everything coming easy and going perfectly at all times. I just want the boys to have fun, learn the basics, participate, try their best and feel good about it......I don't expect them to make it to the St. Louis Cardinals, we'll be just fine with the YMCA T-ball Cardinals, thank you very much.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A really nice morning


This is my son. :) This is my son with the award he won in his first grade class today.

I rant on and on in this blog about my desire to be the typical Mom, in a typical situation with my kids regarding school, activities, etc. It really felt like I was that this morning. The class had an awards ceremony for the 3rd quarter, and parents were invited even though it was just being done in the classroom (not a big assembly). I took off from my school today just to be there, and am so glad I did.

Only 2 other parents were able to be there (well, one grandfather, one mom, and me). The presentation of awards only lasted about 10 minutes since it was just their class of 16 kids, and everything went absolutely smooth and perfect. He sat with the other kids on the carpet, came up to accept his award when his name was called, clapped and cheered for the others when they won (very appropriately!) and came over to hug me after it ended. I took the above pic, chatted with the teacher and the other Mom who was there, and then gave him a hug and left since it was almost their lunchtime.

Nothing out of the ordinary at meltdowns, no outbursts that might have drawn unwanted attention, just a proud kid who blended right in (IMHO) to the class full of proud kids who were all showing off their certificates and medals. It was so nice, maybe even nicer for me than for him. Here's hoping for a lot more nice, typical, pleasant occasions like this......

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Yuck, a Spring cold

UGH!!!!!!! I feel like total crap. :( It started coming at me on Sunday afternoon......just a hint of sore throat, etc. I tried to convince myself it was nothing and would go away, but it didn't. Yesterday was miserable, and I took a 2 1/2 hour nap in the afternoon but it didn't help much. I dragged myself to Singers practice last night, although I shouldn't have.

Today's not been much better. Coughing has started, plus endless congestion, sneezing, etc. Isn't it too late in the season for this? GRRRRRRRR! Thank goodness I have taken tomorrow off from school anyway, to go to an awards ceremony at A's school.

So, tonight I'm tucking myself in with a big box of Kleenex, some leftover pizza and Pennsylvania primary returns. Looks like they're already calling it for HC, but it remains to be seen how big her victory is. I can't seem to turn off the "talking heads", even though they just keep rehashing the same old stuff over and over in endless convolutions of spin. :( All I've got to say is: OBAMA '08!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

End of the week junk

So many little things to share today---little rants, thoughts to ponder, etc. ;)

First of all, we got a statement in the mail yesterday from our 401K plan, one of those quarterly report things. GRRRRRRRRRRRRR! That stupid $#@&* thing lost 10% of its value in the last 3 months. OMG! This infuriates me...........DH and I have really tried hard to be smart financially, do the responsible things, etc. We're saving for retirement (i.e. 401K), saving for the kids' college (529 college plans), but yet ALL of those funds are losing money like crazy. It's like they open the window and just toss it out into the wind! And it's not like we can just say "oh, well let's add a bit more into the accounts to get them back up to the level we want"........NOT! We've been proud of our modest little contributions, and been making them faithfully, but what has it gotten us? Every bit that we put in over the last few months is gone, plus some of the balance and interest that we already had! Financial people say you've gotta stay in it for the long run, don't bail out, etc, but it sure is tempting. I'd almost prefer the good old Southern ways of saving...........sticking it under the mattress or burying it in a Mason jar in the back yard. :( At least we wouldn't be losing money if we did that.

DH is on the road this weekend, taking his school band to Florida. At least, I think he's gone by now. Supposed to have left at 5 am and been there by now, but the *$%&@ bus didn't show up until almost 11 am. I swear, I'd be getting every bit of the money back if I were them........isn't this why you make reservations months in advance, and sign contracts? GRRRRRRRRRR! I hope they're on the way by now, and will still have fun somehow. I know the kids have to be disappointed at the theme park time they're missing today. It's sooooooooooo tempting to post the name of the charter bus company here, and just bash them with everything I've got because of what they did today and their irresponsibility and slackness, but I'm going to restrain myself.

Supposed to be going to two events tomorrow, which will be nice so the kids and I can stay busy and occupy our time hopefully without much drama, fighting or screaming. A preschool buddy of Ethan's invited us over for the morning, so he can have a friend to play with during his little sister's birthday party......and this buddy is every bit the wild man that Ethan is, so it ought to be verrrrrry interesting. After supper, we're going to the house of a couple we've known for a long time, to meet their brand-new baby boy! They're having a "come over, hang out and meet the baby" gathering, so we're gonna attempt to go and see what happens. They have such a nice, new, beautiful house; it scares me a bit to take the Tasmanian Devil in there, but I'm hoping everything will be ok.

Gonna be a lonnnnnnnnnng weekend, DH won't be home until late on Sunday night. Wish us luck and that we'll all reach Monday with some remaining tidbits of sanity!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

One foot here, one foot there

There's a gigantic amusement park about 3 hours from here, called Carowinds. It's been there for as long as I remember. I went to it as a child, and have even taken Band groups there since I began teaching---both to perform and just to have fun, ride on roller coasters and eat outrageously-priced food.

One of the neat features about this park is that it is situated exactly on the border between North and South Carolina. Literally, the border runs down the center of the park, and it's marked so that there are places in which you can stand truly in 2 states at once. It's cool, used to be one of my favorite (geeky) things to do when I went there as a kid. Put your feet on either side of the line, and then one foot's in SC and one's in NC. :)

Well, as I drive my 30-minute commute (each way), I've got lots of time to sing, listen to talk radio, or just to think. This morning was a thinking morning, and I was reminded of this "standing in 2 states" phenomenon. I feel like I'm doing that a good bit of the time in my own life now. My two states are the ASD world and the NT (neurotypical, non-ASD) world. And I try valiantly to stay grounded in both, but it's hard.

I'm not at all wishing that little E had ASD, don't get me wrong. But I do think it's tough for parents who have at least one NT child along with their ASD child, because you've somehow got to be fair to both, do justice to both. I want A to be happy, reach his full potential, and do everything that he needs to do to make that happen. The same is true for E, but what it takes to get there may be dramatically different.

Lately, though, I feel like 98% of my body weight is on the foot that touches the NT side of things, and that I just barely have a toe touching the ground on the ASD side. Is that ok? What else does A need that I'm not doing? Am I acting as if I'm ashamed, or want to keep the ASD a secret? Maybe.

Both boys are playing absolutely-100% NT T-ball, for example. There are plenty of local special-needs sports options, like the Miracle League, etc. A parent of one of Andrew's social skills group buddies is really into that league, and pushes it on me every chance she gets. And I'm nice, I listen, when I really just want to tell her to shut up and drop it.

A is in a totally mainstream 1st grade class too. Few people at the school even know what the official diagnosis is...we're just playing along as NT, hoping secretly that he can slide by that way. He's the "quirky kid" right? The "unusual but very smart and endearing" kid, at least for now.

And E is Mr. Social, talks to everyone and wants to do everything, go everywhere. So, we try to.....try to pass ourselves off as the typical family, doing typical-kid things like T-ball, birthday parties, etc. I'm leaning, leaning, leaning onto that NT foot, feeling like the ASD foot is barely touching the ground sometimes.

If I look deeply, I think I see that the truth is this: I want to be only in that NT world. I really believe that I've accepted the truth of A's diagnosis, he IS on the autism spectrum and that's not going to change. But in daily life, I stay in the NT world and don't embrace my position as an ASD mom. I don't really socialize with local "autism people", don't do the special needs sports, don't send my son to an ASD summer camp, etc. He's going to church camp instead. Isn't this a form of denial?

A cyber-friend who lives near here asked me if we're doing this weekend's Walk for Autism. I was embarrassed to admit that I hadn't even known it was this weekend; that's how out of touch with the local ASD "scene" I am. And then I'm faced with a dilemma......Walk for Autism, or T ball game? I chose T ball game. They're at basically the same time, and we couldn't do both. And, to compound things, A really has no awareness of the ASD, at least that I know of. He's never asked THE question about how he's different from the other kids at school, and doesn't know what autism is. Last year, we did a March for Babies for the March of Dimes. Both boys knew what it was for and why it was important for us to walk and raise money. How would I explain this? I'm not ready, don't know what I'd say and don't really think I want to have to say anything. Can you say denial again?

I'm thankful to have a great group of online friends who are ASD moms, and I feel comfortable talking to them about autism "stuff".....but that's really the only place that I exist in the ASD world. I've got at least one toe firmly on the ground of Autism Island with my friends there, but that's the only place. I just can't stop arguing with myself, though.........

*He doesn't need special sports leagues? Or does he?
*He's doing ok in school, socially, right? Or am I just blissfully unaware?
*How long can I keep putting him into typical-kid situations without even really telling anyone that we're fakers?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Trip down memory lane

Today was the every-other-year Neonatal ICU reunion at the hospital where the kids were born. I love going to these things, wouldn't miss it, truthfully. If you get past the realization of just how many kids go through the NICU (you can tell by looking at the hundreds and hundreds of families at this event)'s a fun time for everyone and a great chance to see the doctors and nurses that you remember from those stressful days.

It takes a special kind of wonderful person to work in the NICU, no question. I think it would be incredibly easy to burnout, from the intensity of the job and the ups and downs (more downs than ups, sometimes?). But the 2 nurses we knew best were there, and it was great to see them and get pics taken. They both remembered us instantly, which was amazing considering that it's been 4 years since little E was discharged. Think about it: we've only got these 2 nurses to remember, but they've got countless families coming in and out each could easily expect that it would be very hard to remember any of them, especially from years ago. But they did!

There were jump castles, a petting zoo (goats, pigs, baby ducks, rabbits), pony rides, food, face painting, balloons, etc. Everything that a kid could want! :) Got some great pics, here are a few of the better ones....

These are pics taken with our fav nurses:



These balloon creations didn't even survive the morning, but he loved them while they lasted:

Being there today reminds us, again, how lucky we were to have access to such a wonderful, nationally-recognized Children's Hospital to care for our boys. If you've gotta have preemies in SC, MUSC Children's Hospital is the place to go. We met families who were traveling from halfway across the state every day to visit their kids......thank goodness we lived in the same town. Thanks, Sarah and Carlene, and everyone at MUSC for all that you did for us, and continue to do every day for the miracle babies!

Friday, April 11, 2008

DH sweetness

I'm really proud of my DH today, but worried also. He's applying for a new job, which I really hope he gets, because I think it would be good for him as well as the family. How so?

Well, he's finishing up his 14th year of teaching. Of the 14, I'd say that 10 or so have been in very "rough" schools.......low socio-economic level, practically no parent support, can't even call home to tell a parent about behavior problems because the phone's been disconnected. He hasn't necessarily sought out these kinds of schools, they've just found him for various reasons over the years.

And he's been proud of the fact that he's been able to do something for some kids that no one cares much about.....allow them to have some musical experiences, go places and do things that they otherwise wouldn't have. One year, he took an overnight trip to Upstate SC, and from there they did a couple of hours excursion to the mountains right across into NC.....because some of these high-school kids had never left the Lowcountry before and never seen mountains!

But there are big struggles and frustrations in schools like these too. It's hard to explain, but there is just not a "culture of success" in these schools. They're labeled as "failing schools" according to NCLB (don't get me started!!!!!), and the atmosphere reflects that........just doing the minimum is ok, let's just get by with very little effort, and to be successful with Band that little effort won't cut it. Parents are not seen and not heard in these schools....until you try to hold their child accountable for their actions or dare to expect them to meet some standard of behavior or performance, then you hear from them in a way that you'd rather not!

So, where does that leave DH? Well, he works very hard to try and make something resembling a "real Band" out of what he's got at this school. They try to participate in state festivals and contests, and have had some small successes, but had to scratch and claw to get them. For many of these kids, there is no such thing as true committment to anything, so forget the idea of the kids actually coming to practices and learning their music.....ain't gonna happen for lots of them. But at the contest, it's "DHs little Band of mostly poor kids who aren't really trying" vs. "someone else's big Band of rich kids who all take private music lessons"...and you can imagine the outcome.

Their biggest contest of the year was yesterday. He knew going into it that they'd struggle, and was just hoping for a respectable outcome with little or no drama attached. It's so hard to separate yourself, as a professional musician, from the high expectations that you know should be in place.....but in a situation like his, you're thankful if everyone actually shows up, and if they're wearing something resembling what you told them to, and have an instrument and maybe some sheet music. If that happens for all the kids, you're doing great. But often it doesn't.

So, yesterday morning, he shows me something that he's written on the palm of his hand: The names of our two boys. He said "I wrote A and E on here so that I'll see it and remember today, that even when I get angry and frustrated with the Band kids, I want to try and treat them the way I'd expect our boys to be treated by a teacher." :) I was so proud, and not sure I could do the same in his shoes, so that made me even more impressed.

Bottom line, though, this thankless job is wearing on him, I can see it. He's exhausted all the time, but just keeps on plugging away without a lot of tangible reward. I think it's getting harder and harder for him to do that.

The new job? Applications close on Tuesday, and then I really don't know how fast it'll move after that. He's not the only one applying, but we don't know how many others or how stiff the competition will be. It's an administrative/district level job, in Music, and I think he'd be awesome for it. I really do believe he's at risk of burning out as a music educator, and I don't want to see that happen. That's why I truly hope that he gets this job and can direct his energies and enthusiasm into something that he can feel like he really makes a difference and has some recognition for the work he does. Right now, he's not getting much of that. Not many Band directors would do the job he currently does......don't think I would either. If you pray, can you send up a few for DH? This new job is something he really needs, IMHO. We all need it, truth be told. Thanks.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A flashback moment

Sometimes I also blog over on Preeclampsia Survivors, a blog started by my long-lost twin sister Jen B (also of Unique But Not Alone). That blog is linked to our PE Survivors website and forum, and I had an experience this morning that I felt compelled to write about....

"A Flashback Moment" I put it there, because it seemed to fit. Check it out, see what you think.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Political junkies, ages 4 and 6

OMG, I think I've created 2 mini-political junkies! Guess they're taking after Mom.......

A is a Hillary fan, much to my chagrin. Not sure why he likes her, maybe just because he wants to be different from me? Anyway, he's been a diehard fan throughout the primaries, but E has been on "my side" with Obama. I've posted before; he calls him Rock Obama and proudly wears his Obama '08 shirt to school, etc.

Well, this morning we had an incident that just goes to show how truly invested in these candidates they are........... DH and I love to watch Morning Joe on MSNBC while getting ready for school. Can't let the kids watch Noggin or anything b/c they'd never actually put clothes on and wouldn't be ready on time without a struggle. So, DH tells me this morning that we need to make sure A is watching the show b/c they've announced they'll have Hillary on in a few minutes. The boys are eating breakfast in the living room and watching it, and we're in our room brushing teeth, etc. DH steps out to check on them, and comes back in holding E, who is crying almost hysterically.

He hands E to me, and I try to get him to tell me what got him so upset. He manages to say: "A said that Rock Obama is going to drop out" and then collapses in tears again. I immediately went into consoling Mommy mode, hugging and rocking him, saying "it's going to be ok honey, A is wrong, I promise Rock Obama is NOT going to drop out" etc. It took him quite a few minutes to calm down, and finally we had to pull up an Obama speech on the computer for him to watch, and that did the trick. But he was still clingy and semi-sad the rest of the morning.

Oh, and when I asked A if he knew why E was so upset and if he'd meant to do that.....he said yes (sheepishly, but with a little smirk on his face). He knew it wasn't true, and knew it would upset E, but that's what he was trying to do! (can you say "typical big-brother" stuff?) I reminded him about how sad he would feel if it were the other way around, and that seemed to straighten him out.

But I tell ya, it's going to be rough when the day comes that one of the candidates (ahem, HC!) has to actually drop out in favor of the other. One of my sons is going to be devastated, I can see it now. We've gotta start planning for what kind of special treat or activity we can do for that child, to help cheer him up, b/c it's going to be ugly, I'm afraid. Hope I haven't done a disservice by getting them so interested in all this, knowing that one of them will most certainly be disappointed in the end. :(

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My thoughts are drifting dangerously... the idea of moving. Yep, you heard right. Not moving out of the Lowcountry, just moving out of this house. Been here exactly 5 years this month, and DH swore we'd "never move again" when we got settled in here. And he's stuck firmly to that mantra, until today..........

He's applying for a new job. Still in education, but this is more of a district-level administrative type of thing, and I really hope he gets it! It would be a bit more money (we think), but also would be a great thing for him in terms of career advancement, etc. A great opportunity, and (although I'm biased LOL) he seems perfectly positioned for the job---in terms of qualifications, experience, and already being a successful teacher in that district anyway!

But, although the job would have him driving around a lot from school to school, his office/home base would be in the rousing metropolis of Moncks Corner SC.....a 42 minute drive, according to Google maps. And that's without traffic--- anyone who knows the Lowcountry can tell you that traffic is truly everywhere these days. :(

So, DH actually said the words "maybe we'd need to move" today, and my mind started racing. I do like this house, but all along have wished it was bigger. And as the boys grow, I feel that way more and more. We sold another house to move here, and the old one was actually bigger than this. But, it was in an older neighborhood that was "going downhill" a bit, and was not very centrally located for DH or I to drive to work. This one IS central, and was new construction (2003) so we got to make some choices during building (countertops, etc).....but smaller in square footage than the old place. We put in Pergo floors a couple of years ago, and really like them. Our yard is nice....backs up onto woods, and we see the occasional deer in the backyard, etc. But I think all the time about how we need more space and what can be done about it. Convert the garage? (we never park cars in it anyway.....) Build a sunroom or something on the back? But we've never gotten serious about doing any of that, it just remains in the daydream stage for me.

Little does DH know how dangerous it is to say "maybe we'd need to move" to me. Hahahahaha! Seriously, I immediately started thinking "hmm, ok, we could move closer to the kids' schools and to DH's new office.....let's see what's for sale around there" and I went straight to realtor. com to check it out. I know, it's a terrible time to sell, and I dread the thought of packing this place up and putting it on the market etc. But, there are some areas much nearer to Moncks Corner that have nice neighborhoods with some gigantic houses........ooooh, so tempting. I can't allow myself to get my hopes up too much on this, or to get too far ahead of the game in shopping for a new house before he even interviews for this job!

Must.....resist......the buy a Sunday paper tomorrow and peruse the listings...............LOL!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Extreme boredom

Can I just say that I hate these days? 3 times a year, at my school, we have these Parent Conference afternoons, and I despise them. Mainly because I'm bored out of my skull!!!!!! It's the end of the quarter (grading period) and report cards just went out. These days are drop-ins, for parents to come and have a brief chat with the teacher if they have concerns. No one ever comes to see me! Truthfully, I might have one parent per conference day, and that'll just be someone dropping by to say "hi, my child loves band" or whatever. But yet I have to be here, and sit on my &#@* for hours....mostly messing around on the computer.

Thankfully, I've got a buddy with me today---Andrew! :) He ate lunch with me in the teacher's lounge earlier (they had deli sandwiches and potato salad, etc, plus some really big yummy brownies!) and now we're hanging out in my room. He brought his "marble track" set (legos, basically) and has worked on that, played my drums, and drawn on the white board.

One more thing to be thankful for----we've only got to be here for 42 more minutes! Hallelujah!!!!!!!!!!!!! Weekend, here we come. Date night with DH tonight, and my Singers concert tomorrow night. Weather's gorgeous right now, but it's supposed to start raining. :(

41 minutes now...............

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The love of music and performance

Why did I go into music as a career? What is it that has always drawn me to music, and to performance of music?

My family (mom's side) has always been musical....Mom played French horn in Band, and just about all of her siblings played instruments too. I just grew up knowing I'd be in Band when I got old enough, and always wanted to play the trumpet. My grandfather played trumpet, and so did my uncle (his son), so I represent the 3rd generation trumpeter in our family. :)

So, after starting Band in 6th grade (thanks, Mr. McGeough), that was it........I was hooked. By 7th grade, I knew I wanted to be a band director (thanks, Mrs. Thornburg). After that, it was never a question whether I would continue to play and perform. Something about that feeling you get in performance.......

It's hard to describe, especially to someone who may have never done it. When you're performing music with a group, and it's going well and performing at a high level, there's a euphoria that happens among the group members. The feeling of being caught up in the energy and music-making, becoming a cohesive unit and creating something that exists only in that moment and can never be exactly's incredible. So whether it's a concert band, orchestra, a choir, or whatever.....I don't ever want to be without that feeling.

But here's what I found when I became a band director: that feeling is sometimes hard to come by when you are the leader (i.e. the person in charge who has to run things and stress obsessively about what each group member is doing). You are no longer the performer, but the conductor. And often, directors find that they lose their performing "outlet"....even though the love of performing was what drew them into the profession in the first place.

For me, it's been like this: teaching middle school band and trying to get excited about thrilling music like Mary Had a Little Lamb and Twinkle Twinkle. Then, teaching a tiny (did I say tiny? I meant microscopic) high school band, in which we just hope to have enough people to play the parts, much less actually make real music. Also, I sing in the church choir, but it's kind of like my school.......tiny group, tries hard and does fine, but true aesthetic musical experiences are rare.

Tonight, I remembered how it feels to really perform and to get that "high" that comes from the thrill of a good performance with a very talented and advanced group. I'm very proud to be in our local community chorus, and we had a dress rehearsal tonight for Saturday night's concert. It'll be my first concert with them, and I'm truly exhilarated about it! I got *that* feeling several times tonight, and was reminded all over again about what has always drawn me to being an ensemble performer. I've really missed it, and didn't know how much until I had it again. I hope to never have to be without that kind of performance outlet's a big part of who I am, and gives me a sense of purpose and "rightness" that I really need these days.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

An actual date!

OMG, check this out: DH came home from school today, and said "Guess what? I'm taking you out on a date on Friday night and already have the babysitter arranged!" :)

So now, I've got to figure out what to wear (what fits?) and where to go. He suggested dinner and movie, but wants me to be able to choose what to see and where to eat. I'm thinking this restaurant, which I haven't been to in ages. And for a movie? Well, one that I've really wanted to see is opening Friday........Leatherheads. (George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, it's about old-time football) Mainly the reason I want to see it is that the football scenes were filmed in the "stadium" at the junior high school I went to, in the metropolis of Boiling Springs SC. Funny, huh, that this football field is so old that the producers thought it was suitable to film a movie about early 1900s football........

Anyway, I can't remember the last real date we went on, maybe it was last fall sometime, so this will be a nice treat. :) Just what I needed, hopefully. :)