Monday, May 30, 2011

Three In One

So much catching up to do...Have I been a slacker?  As I look through all that I wanted to get on here, I feel like I've been a slacker.  So let me get on with it...three posts in one.

Post #1:
First of all, Brenna just finished her short, two week track program.  Only two weeks as a result of continually shrinking budgets.  But the two weeks seemed like two months thanks to the outrageous construction delays that made the trip home last 25 minutes most nights.  A trip that should be no more than 7 minutes.  I literally take a deep breath and sigh when I start thinking about that, so let's move on.

Brenna leaping into the long jump.  Or coming out with her hands up?

Coming into the finish of the 400.

Chasing down the other relay teams.

Crossing the finish line in the 4x100 relay.  She almost caught her!

Post #2:
The next day, Brad and Alex left for two nights in Seaside, Oregon.  It was the annual varsity band trip, at which they play for a few minutes on the boardwalk and then just had fun.  Brad went as a chaperone, which meant he had a king-sized bed to himself with a great ocean view, did a ton of walking around Seaside, accompanied some kids to rent a bicycle for four, watched Inception with a group of 15 kids, and passed back a plastic bag on the drive home to a kid who experienced the joy of bus-sickness.

I so wish I had taken a picture of Alex's suitcase.  He packed himself.  On one side, he had his clothes "stacked" (crammed), and on the other side, he had neatly arranged the quesadilla maker, a pack of 40 tortillas, and two packages of Costco muffins.  The bus stops at Safeway as soon as they roll into town, and the kids that are in rooms together pool their money and buy their groceries for the weekend.  Brad said it was hilarious watching them all work it out.  Alex was a quesadilla making machine for the weekend, with his specialty being onion, green pepper, cheese and sliced hot dogs.  He threw some scrambled eggs in for the morning meal and called it a breakfast quesadilla.

The Safeway survived.

Breakfast at Pig-N-Pancake ~ A MUST!

A little music to call it a music trip.

Five on a bicycle built for four.

Ice cream at The Candy Man, of course.


Walkin' on the beach.

Bonfire, complete with roasted marshmallows.


Post #3:
Meanwhile, back at home, we had a girls' weekend.  Which basically translates to shopping.  It was a sweet time with my sweet girls.  Shopping is not my idea of relaxation, but boy do they love it.  So off we went.  A few times....

Our weekend started with the girls making cookies together while mom ran.  Running to the smell of baking chocolate chip cookies?  Sweet.

Friday night shopping was a perfect illustration of my girls personalities.  Brenna picked out a girlie pair of sandals, and Beth picked out this purple sock monkey.  Just when I think she is getting too big, she falls in love with a stuffy that makes her still my baby girl.

And then shopping on Saturday:  Brenna picked out a ruffled tank top to go with her girlie sandals (no pictures, but she's darling), and Beth got these snazzy new Vans that she has been saving her money for!

Best of all, everyone was back home with still a day of the weekend to enjoy.  It's so much better when all my chicks are in the nest...and the rooster too! 

Multitudes on Monday ~ Just Two

A quiet moment to sit and ponder listing the gifts in my life, and considering this day there are really just two that matter:

390.  A Savior who gave His life for freedom in life and death.
391.  Men and women who gave their lives for freedom in our country.

I hope you can be mindful of the true meaning of this day, and that you can count your blessings for both.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dos Burritos

Yesterday I was tired.  TIRED.  And when that crazy time in the evening hit that requires food being prepared for my baby birds, I was adding a little cranky to my tired.  The conversation in the kitchen and the dodging and weaving of people became like mosquitoes buzzing in my ear.  So I swatted at my mosquitoes, and banned them from the kitchen until dinner was ready.  I told them all that I was feeling overwhelmed and needed my space to get it all together, so they were not allowed near me until dinner was ready, which was a blissful 17 minutes according to my timer.

So off they went, and before long I heard the giggles and shrieks of my oldest and youngest.  They had, for some reason, decided to re-enact a favorite moment from their "childhood".  When the girls were toddlers and a bit beyond, they loved to be wrapped up in a blanket "like a burrito".  We would spread a blanket out on the floor, they would lay on one end, and we'd start rolling them up.  This became a favorite way to be carried off to bed, wrapped like a burrito and slung over their daddy's shoulder.  One might say it's the sophisticated version of swaddling.

So last night, Beth began wrapping Alex like a burrito.  We don't have a blanket large enough to contain all his legs, but they gave it a good go.

all rolled up and even a pillowed head!

And from this, I saw glimpses of Beth's brilliance.  She loves to try to tickle her brother, who is ridiculously ticklish.  Getting his teeth polished at the dentist is a form of tickle torture for him.  He's bigger and stronger than his sister, so he is very capable of avoiding her tickle attempts.

Alex realizes he's left himself vulnerable as Beth prepares to strike

Until, that is, he was wrapped like a burrito!  Those feet sticking out of the blanket provided a perfect target, and I was so proud of the way Beth seized an opportunity.  Score one for the little sister.

You can roll, but you can't hide, Alex!

And Brenna, sweetly reading in the background, chose to simply play the role of adviser, chipping in her two cents every now and then.

Another quip I want to remember:

While Brad and Beth were at the pool, the rest of us ran out to get Alex's hair cut.  It looks so much better, I love a freshly cut head of hair on my boy!  Back home, he was sitting in the living room writing out some music.  I walked by and stopped and told him how handsome he was.  He looked at me with a puzzled look and asked if I was crying.  (My eyes were just that tired.  No real tears.)  But I couldn't resist an opportunity, so I said that yes, I was just so moved by how handsome and grown up he looked.  He looked me square in the eye, his expression unchanging, and said (in a perfect Cousin Eddie voice), "Are you serious, Clark?"

Makes me laugh even retelling it.  Humor makes a tired evening so much more fun!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

Ready for another yummy cookie?  This one could practically pass off as a reasonably healthy breakfast, if you were so inclined.  Or these would be great for any moment that counts as a "Calgon" moment.  They are yum yum yummy.  And they are really light, so you don't feel gluttonous if you happen to eat a lot.

(Here's how I rationalized it as a breakfast:  there is coffee in the cookie, and I know many people who drink coffee for or with breakfast.  It's kinda the "thing" to do now.  And there is flour and butter, which is kinda like buttered toast since the main ingredient in bread is flour.  And there's powdered sugar in them, and have you ever read the sugar count in many popular breakfast cereals??  And lots of people, me included, put some sugar in their oatmeal.  So I figure you can save a whole lot of prep time and just eat this for breakfast and call it toast and coffee.  You're welcome again.  Oh!  And the chocolate?  Mocha.  Now I've justified it all.)

Let's get on with it, shall we?

Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

1 TBSP instant espresso powder
1 TBSP boiling water
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
additional powdered sugar for dusting, or chocolate to melt and drizzle over the top, if desired.

Dissolve the espresso powder in the boiling water, set aside to cool to room temperature.  In a large bowl (I used my stand mixer, but you could do this with a hand mixer if you felt like it), beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until very creamy.

Beat in the vanilla and espresso.  Add flour, and mix in on low speed just until incorporated.  Do not beat the dough much once the flour is just mixed in.  Add in the chocolate chips and combine well.

Transfer the dough into a gallon-sized ziploc bag.  With the bag on a flat surface, roll the dough into about a 9x10 rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.  Once the dough is rolled, seal the bag, pushing out any remaining air.  Refrigerate the dough for 2 hours or for up to 2 days.

Once the dough is chilled and firm, place the bag on a cutting board and cut open the bag.  Cut dough into 1 1/2 inch squares.  Transfer the squares onto parchment-lined baking sheets and prick each cookie in 2 places with a fork, carefully pressing all the way through to the baking sheet.

Bake at 325 for 18 minutes.  The cookies should keep their color, do not look for them to darken.  Remove from oven and transfer to a cooling rack.  Dust with powdered sugar,  while they are still hot, if desired.  Or, once they have cooled, drizzle with some melted chocolate.  Or leave them as they are in all their simple goodness.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Multitudes on Monday ~ Transitions

Transitions...I don't ever look very forward to going through them.  Even when it's a good thing to transition to, I most always go through an adjustment time (perhaps why it's called a transition???  Ahem.).  But before I even recognize that I'm edging up to a transition, I get a little restless inside, I feel like something is a bit off, and I feel even a little anxious.  Even when it's good.  I'm finally starting to recognize those feelings.  I'm starting to stop myself sooner in the process and think through what's approaching.  Over the last couple weeks I've felt the approach of a transition, and I realized it is simply the beginning of the end of the school year, the approach of summer.  This transition is always bittersweet.  I love shedding off some of the responsibility, I love the looser schedules, I love the gentler pace with my kids.  The only "bitter" part of that is I have to admit that my kids are rolling up to a new grade, a year older.  It's just going so fast.  We got the first letter from a college a couple weeks ago for Alex.  "Dear Alex," it began.  Dear is right, and the realization of how quickly that time is approaching is outrageous.  And yet so exciting.  All this crazy busy in our lives is exactly what I've longed for, without really knowing what I was asking for.  I have healthy, active, engaged kids, and they make transitions fun/tough, happy/sad, exciting/scary.  And ALL of it, the good and the tough, is such a gift...

371.  not being able to finish a thought because someone needs to talk.
372.  just enough time in between activities to make dinner
373.  pre-planned dinners that go smoothly
374.  not being able to form a coherent sentence on this blog post because my son has so much to say.  love hearing his commentary!
375.  after comings and goings, having all three home at night
376.  trying to give a stern mom talk and having one be so witty it is impossible to take things out of perspective.
377.  an awareness of time, so it can be savored
378.  an awareness of lasts, so they can be appreciated
379.  a genuine smile given, one you can feel in your deepest place
380.  a genuine smile from someone else, one that reaches their eyes
381.  goals accomplished
382.  new goals being pondered
383.  classes that are survived
384.  genuine compliments
385.  an opportunity for my kids to cheer for me
386.  their joyful, supportive faces just when I needed to see them
387.  finish lines
388.  rhododendrons bursting with color ~ finally!
389.  lilac blooms

Saturday, May 21, 2011

My Running Boys

It's such a long story...someone that works out at the Y had registered for this run but couldn't do it.  He asked Alex this week if he wanted to run it for him.  Alex did, they transferred the registration.  While Brad was at the Y this week, he was given a hard time (in fun, but persistent) about not doing this run.  So he decided, last night, why not?  He would run this 8K with his son.  Or I should say behind his son.

I slightly considered running this also...very slightly.  I'm so glad I didn't.  Instead, I showed up as photographer.  I cheered them on at the start, snapped a couple pictures, then went for a lovely walk through downtown Olympia, "just happening" upon a Starbucks.  Coffee in hand, I made it back to the finish line with about 5 minutes to enjoy the last of my coffee before Alex made it across the finish line.  I got the long end of the stick at this run, for sure.

Blurry shot of my boys at the start, as I was slowly backing my way towards the smell of coffee.

Alex pulled away from Brad about 1/15th of a K in.

And there goes Brad, 6 days after the half.  Crazy.

Alex finished his 8K with a time of 37 minutes.  In the registration swap, he was registered as an untimed runner.  Bummer.  Still official in my book, Alex!

Brad finished in 41 minutes.  Yeah Brad!

And I did my little 4.25 run when we got home.  Eek.  I felt great for the first little bit, and then my body started reading me the riot act and lecturing me to no end.  Did not feel good at all.  I'm hoping very soon it will feel better again.  In the meantime, the boys can run for times...they do it so well!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A List of Ten

Here we go back into some randomness that I feel like I need to get out of my head.

1.  If you need a quick, easy, and yummy dinner, head over to Costco and pick up their Asian salad kit.  Grab a rotisserie chicken, too.  Cut up a bunch of that chicken into thick bite-sized hunks and toss all the salad together with the chicken (I add extra slivered almonds too).  Butter up some french rolls and lightly broil them.  Oh, such a yummy dinner.  My kids loooooove this, so much that we have no left-overs for lunch the next day.  That's about the only negative I could possibly come up with about this salad.  If you love the Love Salad at Happy Teriyaki, you will really LOVE this salad.

2.  Brad went to a very heart-breaking memorial service yesterday.  Four kids, including a miracle newborn, are without a momma.  No making any sense of that one.  Lord, give the comfort and provision only you can give.

3.  There is a SHAG commercial on that makes us laugh so hard.  In the commercial, they are highlighting all the amenities that this senior housing offers.  Among the amenities is an internet cafe.  The host of the commercial introduces us to a gal who especially loves the internet cafe, because she use to be a computer programmer.  In the background, you can see she is sending an email.  And the gal next to her is playing solitaire.  If that doesn't sell a person on moving in, I don't know what will.

4.  My son was assassinated in his AP assassination game, and it essentially was all my fault because I was at Costco when he came home, forcing him to try to find a way into the house that didn't involve the front door where he would be an easy target.  He was unsuccessful in breaking into the back of the house before being cornered and blasted with a nerf bullet.  All things, even a failed evasion of a nerf bullet, can be taken back far enough to be a mother's fault.  But actually, since he is the biggest consumer of food in the house, I suppose I could make an argument that his food consumption caused the need for the Costco trip, which caused me to be gone, which would mean it's his fault????  Nah.  I'm sure it's still somehow my fault.  He's already planning a better strategy for next year.

5.  I'm losing my patience with construction.

6.  Recovering from the big run on Sunday has brought things I didn't know it would bring.  It's very much like having a baby.  Things happen after having a baby that you didn't know would happen.  So you mention it to a girlfriend, and she says, "Oh, yep.  That's totally normal.  Everyone has that."  But nobody warns you.  Much the same with this run recovery.  Brad and I went out in the beautiful sun and "ran" just 3 miles yesterday.  I felt like an old lady, and I had to walk some chunks of it when my calves screamed at me, but it felt good to get some blood back into those leg muscles.

7.  I made cinnamon rolls last weekend that I think have changed my life.

8.  23 more days waking up for school.

9.  My baby girl has her daddy's swimming gene.  We'll see what she does with it, but right now she is doing amazing things with it.  It's a pretty wonderful thing to watch.

10.  On Tuesday, the thermometer in my van showed an outside temperature of 64 degrees.  I turned on the AC and fanned myself.  I think I have some acclimating to do.

That's all for now.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A GREAT Day, Times 13.1!

The big day finally came today!  My first half marathon!  This process was so much more than a physical journey for me.  As far back as I can remember, I have told myself I could NEVER run 13.1 miles.  NEVER!  And I don't even know when or why that started.  But I thoroughly and completely believed it.  I've run for a looong time, but always inside on my treadmill.  A year and a half ago I entered my first "public" 5K, and I was over-the-moon excited to have accomplished that.  A few more 5Ks that year, then this past December a 10K with Brad.  Slowly, the bug bit to do something I've always said I couldn't do.  I realize now that I've done that with so many things in my life, living under a glass ceiling without even realizing the ceiling is there.

So I started training for this half marathon, deciding to just do one to take a chunk out of that glass ceiling and feel the breeze of reality.  I've watched with a helpless sadness as people around me have endured incredible hardships that have resulted in physical limitations.  In a variety of different ways, their bodies have failed them.  And my body, for the most part, is healthy and strong.  And so I decided to challenge this 41 (and a half) year old body and ask it to do something it had never done before.

And today?  I did it!  I not only started, but I finished!  And I finished strong.  My body held up.  Hurting, but good.  It was such a fabulous experience.  The training was so hard on some of those days.  Today was hard, but not too hard.  Up to mile 6 flew by.  Smooth and easy.  My 8 I started feeling my hip and knee.  I missed the mile marker for mile 9, and was starting to get really frustrated at how long this mile was lasting, and then we passed the sign for mile 10!  Eastside?  Ouch.  Mile 11?  Hard.  My knee was barking all kinds of complaints.  I spent that mile praying for Ben.  And then it smoothed back out again and by the time we hit the downhill of Capitol we were cruising smooth again! 

Not even a mile in I had to run through Farmer's Market and use the facilities.  So that lost us a few minutes.  Those few minutes ended up being the difference in breaking 2 hours, but I am A-OKAY with that!!  We were somewhere around 2:04, and I'll take that gladly.  Especially since a time goal was not even on my radar.  Just finishing healthy was my goal.

I so wish I could have run with a camera and taken pictures of all the smiling, encouraging friends I saw along the way.  I cannot even describe what an incredible source of fuel it is to round a corner and see smiling faces calling your name and shouting out encouraging comments.  Marlece was so sweet to pick up my kids and drive them to different points along the route to cheer us on!  LOVED that!  And all the runners that knew the tough spots and "just happened" to pop up at those tough spots and cheer you on.  Those who are runners know how much it means, and now I do too.

AND to top that all off, to run this with my best friend, who knows all my insecurities about this and was so sweet to train with me and push me along.  He could have finished faster, but he chose to stay with me and run it together.  I don't think I could have done this without him, and I don't think I could love him any more than I do already.  He's a gem, and I'm thankful beyond measure for his support and companionship as we pounded out all those miles these last few months.

Here are some happy (and wet!) shots of the day:

Somewhere, I have no idea where, along the route

This is the moment I realized my kids were the ones "woo-hoo"ing for me!

The sweet, sweet finish line!

Record rainfall, and this picture shows how drenched we were!

Love the support of this sweet family so very much!!

And now I am hurting a bit.  But it's an oh-so-good hurt.  I'm oh-so-glad to not have to think about this anymore!  And I'm oh-so-thankful for a body that can do this.  And I'm oh-so-thankful for the dorky hat that kept the rain off my face!  A good day??  A GREAT day!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tasty Tuesday ~ Scones You Must Eat. And Eat and Eat and Eat Again.

On one hand, it's a shame I don't have a picture of these beautiful scones to make you salivate.  On the other hand,  I take terrible pictures of food, so maybe it's for the best that I leave this to your imagination.  These scones come from The Pioneer Woman, so you know they are good...if you know The Pioneer Woman.  If you don't know her, you need to.  She makes food that...oh, I can't get started with that right now.  I just can't.  But I love her, and you will too.

And these scones???  Divine.  They taste like a flaky maple bar.  I have not made them one time that people didn't swoon and ask for the recipe.  So go for it.  Make these soon.  Today, if possible.  And I cannot make the BOLD come off this right now.  I don't know what's wrong, and I don't have time to figure it out.  But maybe it's to draw your attention because you are meant to develop a relationship with these scones.  Get the coffee on, get these scones baking.  You'll have a moment of bliss.

Maple Pecan Scones


3 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
5 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
¼ cup pecans
1 large egg
¾ cup heavy cream

Maple glaze:

1 pound powdered sugar
¼ cup whole milk
4 TBSP butter, melted
Splash of strongly brewed coffee
Dash of salt
2 tsp. maple flavoring or maple extract

Preheat oven to 350.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Cut the butter into small pieces. Cut into the flour mixture using a pastry blender or two forks, cutting until mixture resembles crumbs. You should still be able to make out small pieces of butter. Finely chop the pecans; stir them into the flour mixture. Mix the egg and cream together . Add the mixture to the flour. Stir together until just combined.

Turn the mixture onto a cutting board. The dough will be very crumbly, but that’s how it should be. With your hands, push together the dough into a large ball. Do not knead or press too much, just enough to form into a ball. With your hands or a rolling pin, gently spread the ball into a 10-inch round, about ¾ inch thick. (I made two 5-inch rounds so the scones were a bit smaller.) With a sharp knife, cut the round like a pizza into 8 equal wedges. Transfer the wedges to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or sprayed with non-stick spray).

Bake the scones for 16-24 minutes (depending on size), until they are just barely starting to brown.

Allow the scones to cool completely.

For glaze, mix all ingredients together in a medium blow. Pour generously over cooled scones and allow the icing to set. You can sprinkle additional chopped pecans over the top before the icing sets if you want!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Shifting Seasons of Thanks

My family gave me just about the perfect Mother's Day.  These four people I live with are kind, considerate, loving, and really know how to make a Mommy feel loved and special.  They really, truly are happy to celebrate someone else.  Among many things, I love that about them.

After sleeping in and having breakfast, Brad and I left for our LAST long run before the big event.  I was so excited to only do 8 miles, and ready to get it out of the way so I could get on with the relaxing part of the day.  When we came back in the door, this is what I saw:


When my kids were really young, I would imagine this season that we are in and it always made me a little sad.  I thought the fun would somehow be over when we got here.  I thought I would somehow not feel the same closeness.  I thought that I would be sad at the thought of them being so close to heading into their new season.  Now we are "there".  And it is nothing like I thought it would be.  I love this season.  I love the shifting of relationships that age brings.  I love seeing who my kids are becoming.  I love seeing glimpses of who they are going to be in adulthood.  They are fun, loving, and strong people.  And I have nothing but excitement at this point about their next seasons.  So much potential.  So many open doors in front of them!  Love that.  I love them.  They make being a mom such an adventure.  Never boring.  Just when I think I have this mothering thing figured out, they shift and tweak and require me to shift and tweak.  And I'd have it no other way.

So much thanks to give...

352.  motherhood
353.  appreciation
354.  a day of no cooking
355.  sweet words written
356.  laughing together
357.  love returned
358.  happy hearts
359.  a husband who knows how to make me feel special
360.  a husband who models that for his kids
361.  kids who follow that lead
362.  new seasons
363.  finishing a long training program
364.  passing a friend on the sidewalk, me a mile in, her a mile to go, and exchanging a high five and celebratory hug:  cheers to the last long run!
365.  new recipes
366.  pretty dishes
367.  big, puffy, layered clouds
368.  rain that stops just in time
369.  a light week of running
370.  carbs!

Friday, May 6, 2011

You Can Call Me Daisy and Other Nonsense

Remember on "Bewitched" when Samantha would wiggle her nose and the captivating "dingle-dingle-dink" sound effect would signal an amazing transformation was about to poof! right before us?  I think I somehow "dingle-dingle-dinked" on accident on Sunday evening and my week poofed! its way by in warp speed.

That was my ridiculously long way of saying this week flew by.

That sweet sun is trying so hard to emerge and stay emerged.  It's trying.  You can do it, sun!  Don't give up trying!!  In the meantime, I was caught outside at recess more than once when the rain began.  That slow drizzle that makes you wait a bit to see if it's going to fade or get stronger.  Today it was the latter.  I very rarely carry an umbrella.  I don't much believe in them.  I'm a native Washingtonian.  Proud to be.  And I also have a very thick head of hair, which means that it takes quite a rain for me to actually feel it on my scalp.  While I was waiting in the rain for some sllooooooowwww poke kids to make their way inside, a coworker was waving at me, telling me to hurry in out of the rain.  I told her that I was okay, and that the rain hadn't even made its way through my hair yet.  I showed her how dry I was underneath the top layer, and she said, "You're just like a duck!!"  That quacked me up.  I hope I'm cute like Daisy.  With pants on.

And I'm now full in to my taper for this run coming up oh-so-soon.  I have mixed feelings about the taper.  It's very counter intuitive for someone who over thinks things in a crazy way.  I'm afraid I'm losing conditioning by backing off on my mileage.  But I'm also oh-so-grateful to be backing off on the mileage.  My angry knee is oh-so-grateful.  I'm just choosing to trust the process, for it's a process designed by real runners who know a heck of a lot more about running than I do.

The best thing about the taper??  It's officially time to carbo load!  And I'm fascinated by this.  I'm a bit disappointed that I can't find a single source that endorses chocolate chip cookies, cake, muffins, pizza, and giant helpings of fettuccine Alfredo out of a Styrofoam take-out container (Michael Scott reference) as valid carbo for loading.  But I love the whole explanation of glycogen storage and how that is the fuel I will be burning, and the more I store the less likely my body will shift into fat burning (hitting the wall), although I have assuredly maintained an adequate level of fat storage just in case my body needs it.  Hey, I may have a malfunctioning fat pad on my foot, but I've got plenty stored up elsewhere to spare.  I like to be prepared.

I have been full of conflicted emotions this last week regarding a certain prominent political issue.  I'm sad that some young people, whose reference to other certain events are only what they've read, take the liberty to say such strong things, thinking they are wise beyond their years and have all the information they need to make very strong judgements on others.  I'm sad that facebook became rampant with politically charged statements, from both sides.  I'm sad that I see a lot of Christians thinking they can't have impassioned beliefs about something because they think it collides with their faith.  I'm sad that they think anger and strong feelings are inconsistent with the God of this universe.  I'm sad that some people take very passive approaches, thinking this is superior.  I'm sad that there is some intolerance of how different people need to respond differently to the same information.  Not just in this situation, but in general.  I'm pretty sick of so much judgement and divisiveness.  I'm sick of hearing people called "idiots" just because they have different beliefs.  There.  I'm all done.  Almost.  If you are reading this, I'm probably not talking about you.  This is very general.  If your heart is beating wildly and you want to pick a fight with someone over what I've just said, maybe I am talking about you.  Now I'm done.

The next 10 days are jam-packed.  Then schedules shift, many music commitments come to an abrupt halt, and the countdown to school ending will begin.  And I've got some cooking to do to get ready for tomorrow morning.  So I better get myself quacking to it!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

My Number One is Number Three!

What a weekend!  I'm a mushy-gushy blend of all sorts of emotions.  Proud, amazed, stunned, happy, proud, humbled, excited...all jumbled up in one big blur.

Here's how our day unfolded:

Alex had his state solo competition yesterday.  His time slot was 9:30, and he does not like to sleep in hotels.  So we got up early (EARLY!!  Are there no limits to a mother's love??) and headed over to Central Washington University for the big event. 

Now, as a bit of background, Alex chose this piece for his solo around the beginning of last summer.  We have heard this played for months now.  Sometimes more pleasant that other times.  Even when something is pleasant, there comes a time when it's just enough.  For him and us.  He played it well at regionals, still a rough version of what it was to be, but an aggressive piece that still needed a lot of refining.  He got it going really well, then it started to fall apart a couple weeks ago.  There was one section that was just a mess.  Enough of a mess that Brad actually called his teacher and told him we were worried.  Brad got a pep talk, Alex got a pep talk, and away he went.  He worked it out.  WORKED it.

So we arrived on Saturday, bickering as usual about where to park and which street to turn on.  I saw it as a good deflection from any nerves.  Alex saw it as annoying.  He was cool as a cucumber.  He was so calm and collected that I began to worry that he wasn't focused, that he was a bit too casual.  But that's just him.  Me?  Huh-uh. 

We listened to a few other bassoonists, then Alex went and listened to his friend.  On the inside I'm screaming "FOCUS ON YOURSELF!!!", but on the outside I wanted him to prep however he needed.  He got warmed up while I listened to more bassoonists.  And the competition was tough.  I, in all honesty, was not feeling super confident about how Alex would do.  Finally, his turn.

Waiting for the clock to strike precisely 9:30 so he can tune and go!

And that kid brought it.  He was about a minute into his 7 minute solo when my stomach started knotting.  I was thinking, "He's totally on!  He's doing it!"  And then I wanted him so badly to nail all the difficult parts that come at the very end.  I was breathing for him when he couldn't breathe.  I was keeping the tempo for him, I was praying like crazy in my head.  Flawless?  Of course not.  Great when it needed to be?  Yep.

Alex's teacher was not able to be at the event this year, so he had given direct orders to call him as soon as he was done and let him know how it went.  So he called right when he was done and told him he felt really good about it.

Last year he scored all 2's at state.  We were hoping for at least one 1, knowing that would be a better showing.  And an hour later when we picked up his score sheets?  Three 1's!  Wonderful, encouraging comments.  Constructive while being very complimentary.

We were so ecstatic at the scores.  What a successful day!  Alex was feeling so good.  Another call to his teacher to report the scores.  All the kids that get an overall score of 1 are then ranked, with top 3 being placed.  We knew that technically that meant Alex could place, but when his teacher asked him if he thought he would Alex said, "Oh, no.  I listened to a lot of the others, and there's no way."

Then it was off to lunch:  Mexican, of course.  Over steak fajitas (TWO HOURS after he had performed, mind you), Alex said, "I can't wait to pick out the piece I'm going to play next year."  Please.  While I love to plan ahead, I told him to just soak in today.  We needed to just sit in it awhile before rushing off to the next thing.

We went back to the campus and listened to a couple of his friends perform.

Before we left for home, we decided to go see who made top three, mostly curious if one obnoxiously annoying gal had made it.  She was a piece of work without any music.  But that's another story.  As we made our way to the posted sheets, I was squinting to see the names and had to get pretty close.  My eyes slipped down and I saw "Olympia High School".  I was puzzled, because Alex was the only bassoon entry from Olympia High School.  Then I looked over at the name, and gasped.  There he was.  Listed in the top three right along side a young man that Alex respects so much and loves listening to.  To say we were all stunned is an understatement.  I cried.  Alex grabbed his phone again and called his teacher to let him know he was top three.  Such a thrilling moment.


So then of course we had to stay for the evening awards ceremony.  Alex placed third, as we figured by seeing the other two in the top three.  Again, to just be listed on the same paper as those others was an immense honor.

And incredible day.  So very much work went into preparing for that.  Hours upon hours of practicing.  Working it out.  Hours upon hours with his teacher, figuring out how to work it out.  Hours with his accompanist, figuring out how to work well together to showcase it.  Practicing when he wanted to.  Practicing when he didn't feel like it.  Staying teachable.  Seeking out tips and advice from those who know so much more.  And it all came together at just the right time!

proud mommy!

And as we rehashed it on the way home, here's what we came up with.  If he never saw a score sheet after his performance, we would have left very happy.  He played it well, and there was great satisfaction in doing what he came to do.  And then he got the great scores, and that was enough.  And then he got top three????  Amazed.

Finally home, exhausted and oh-so-happy.  This is my little bassoonist:  3rd place in the State of Washington for 2010-2011!

This was one of the many fun moments sprinkled through the day:

We had stepped to the end of a hallway to have a "What did he say???" conversation after Alex spent a couple moments talking with one of the adjudicators after he found out he was top three.  We glanced over at the sign on the door:

Yeah.  He'd like that lab.

That's a whole lotta words in this post.  I'm a whole lotta proud of this boy.