Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Concert II

This time I took witnesses. While I'm not known to be a liar, or prone to hyperbole, I'm not sure my family quite believed what a nightmare LM's school's first concert was. This time, there would be no doubt.

And let me tell ya, the school did not let me down. Or wait, it did. Or, well, I mean...

it was equally as bad as the first, but LM's group was equally redeemable.

The sixth grade band performed. It reminded you of, well, a beginning band.

The orchestra performed. They were second and third year students and they reminded you of, well, a beginning orchestra (gotta feel sorry for the students in it for the third year and still playing the basic songs!)

The choir sang, or croaked, or well, they did something but I'm not sure I can call it singing. The director was (as before) completely entralled with her students and seemed to completely miss the point of CHOIR (things like harmony, rhythym, good song selection, etc. seem to evade her curriculum).

But then LM's band director took over. A brass quintet performed. And performed well.

And LM's Concert Band performed.

VERY well.

And we all breathed a sigh of relief that at the very least, LM isn't interested in choir or orchestra, because at his school, apparently only band is the success it should be. We celebrated with the traditional ice cream and the joy of having family there together to support LM's music.

Mid-May at the Ball Field

George was ready on defense.

George was ready at the plate.

George was ready with the bat (and drove in a run!)

Papa and G'ma weren't quite ready for the balmy Michigan weather.
What? Did you think Spring Baseball meant warm weather?!

Family Obligations

Be careful what your sister volunteers for.
Jules got involved in building a local playground a year or so ago.
Her involvement grew over the months and by the actual build last weekend, she was in charge of some 600 volunteers!
To show their support, Dad and Judy came up from Tennessee to help in any way they could and I put in a few hours as well.
In five days, with the help of some amazing leadership, the playground was built.





The Grand Opening Sunday Evening

For a family obligation that I didn't have any interest in, wasn't in my town, and wasn't something I volunteered for, I sure had a lot of fun!!

Bear was an awesome captain! He was fun to work for and with and never yelled at me - not even when I left my common sense at home!

The only way to have some quality time with Dad was to pick up a hammer and help!
For a retired guy, he sure does work hard (and long hours, too!)

Judy was an amazing help. She played chauffeur, babysitter, homework checker, head chef for the family and even put her artistic skills to the test painting a bulldozer!

While it was a lot of work, it was a lot of fun, too. I was exhausted just from the few short days I worked on the project. I'm not sure how my sister or Bear are still standing upright after all the months of work they put into the project! The reason for Julie and Bear's dedication to the project was easy to see:


and smiles

and a pirate cheer!

Multiply the happiness of these three times the hundreds of kids that will enjoy this playground for years and years to come

and I hope Jules will always look back on this hard work with pride and joy.

This project never felt like an obligation to me. I was proud to work alongside my family, and honored to help my sister in some small way. The contribution Jules and Bear made to their community through this project will be felt for generations to come.

It truly is Kids Paradise.

Swim Meet

Birdy participated in her first swim meet a couple weeks ago. I was thrilled to be on the sidelines to cheer her on and capture the moment!

She was VERY excited about the meet!
She chose three events: freestyle, butterfly and backstroke.
Swimmers take your mark!
Get set!

Go Birdy! Go!!

Breathe, Birdy! Breathe!

Birdy rocked the house in all her events!
They had pizza and awards afterwards further cementing the smile on her face!
We can't wait for the next one!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Les is Certainly More

He's not only a cancer survivor, he can now add a
No-Hitter to his professional resume.
Congratulations, Jon Lester!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

While The Cardinal Sits Outside My Window...

I want to wish all mothers the best of Mother's Day.

Friday, May 09, 2008


I was trying to be discreet. I hadn't told anyone I could access my test results today. Jules suggested we all go out tonight and I came home with Birdy and George to let Eli out before we met up again at the restaurant. I thought I could just check really quickly online before we left for the restaurant.

Maybe it was my impatience while LM's computer booted that tipped Birdy off, but somehow she knew that whatever I was up to online was worth her quiet attention. She came and sat next to me. I was fairly certain the news wasn't going to be all good (three tests in one day, each progressively more difficult, it didn't stand to reason that I could make it through without having to retake any) so I was anxious about Birdy reading my bad news over my shoulder.

When she realized what website I was looking at she gasped. "Your teacher tests, Aunt Fred? This will tell us the results?!" I said shush, hoping George wouldn't overhear while I entered in my ID number and birthdate to access my records.

"What are you guys looking at?!" questioned George.

"Nothing," I answered, but not quite as fast as Birdy who said, "Aunt Fred's test results for her teacher tests!!"

Now there was no escaping announcing the bad news. There was no way George was keeping the secret from my sister.

The results were posted individually for each of the three tests. "Let's start with the one I was fairly confident on, okay? Let's look at the Basic Skills Test." I clicked on the results.

"You passed!" exclaimed Birdy.

"Whew. Well, there's one. Let's go look at the Elementary test next. I'm not so sure about this one, Birdy. It was hard." I clicked on the results.

"You passed!!!" exclaimed Birdy with even more enthusiasm. I breathed a sigh of relief. The last test was for my Middle School qualification. At least with the first two under my belt I was certified for Elementary regardless. Middle School was just a bonus.

"Okay, Birdy. Last one. I really doubt this one is going to be good news. I didn't have a clue what some of the questions were even asking me." I clicked.

"YOU PASSED!!!" Birdy was screaming at this point, and hugging me and kissing me and she was as excited outwardly as I was inwardly. I couldn't believe it. I was actually stunned. I passed all three. My certification was now official, not just temporary for the year.

As we ran out to the truck to join Bear and Jules, I reminded the kids this was my news to share. "Let me tell it," I asked. I needn't have wasted the breath. George barely had the door to the truck open before he was shouting, "AUNT FRED PASSED HER TEACHER TESTS!!"

I guess we are all just a little excited over here!

Monday, May 05, 2008

One Sunday Morning - Ephron

I picked up One Sunday Morning at the library, knowing nothing about it. Yes, my bad habits continue, but at least now they don't cost me anything but time.

There's nothing remarkable about this story. It's the story really, of five women in New York and the scandals that traverse their social lives. While the cover touts that the ending is "jarring" I found nothing of the sort. The ending was predictable and foreseen and quite banal.

It's a quick read, a simple story, all things considered. The characters are shallow, with little to delve into as a reader. Motives and actions are superficial and unremakable.

My recommendation: leave it on the shelves.

Slave Labor

"Hey, LM, while you're up, could you hand me my library book from my teacher's bag?"

"Sure, Mom."

"Oh, LM? I also need my glasses from my pocketbook."

"I'm beginning to understand why you wanted kids, Mom."

"You're finally catching on, LM."

"But what would you have done if you didn't have me?"

"I would have had other kids, LM."

"Yeah, but what if you didn't have other kids to be your slaves?"

"I would have adopted."

"Yeah, but what if you had NO kids whatsoever to fetch things for you?

"Well, LM, I guess I would have spent more time training the dog."

Sunday, May 04, 2008


Sharing a moment with Dad as LM opens his gift.
Gifts from Mom bring a smile: a PS2 game, an ipod arm band and a gift certificate to the local Aeronautics museum.

A pool party that brought out George's giggles.

And Birdy's smile.

George passed the swimming test and was thrilled to be able to go off the diving boards.

Having fun with friends from school and church.

LM forgot the key to the high dive is NOT to look down (he still jumped)!

It's all fun and games until Uncle Bear comes along (and makes it even more fun!)


And presents!

LM and his guests had a great time. We're so grateful to my sister and Bear for providing such an awesome pool party for everyone to enjoy!

Play Ball!

It was for evenings like this that we moved to Michigan. To sit at the field and watch George play ball. Bird and LM ran around playing with the older kids. I said hello to many of the kids I know from teaching and talked with the moms on the sidelines while the dads coached in the fields. On top of all of that, we got to see a great game.

George was ready for the pitch.

With a hit, George found himself on first.

His teammates moved him around the bases.

Rounding second.

And crossing the plate to score a run.

He even played his position well!!

Do you suppose they are discussing free agency?

*Despite my love for several sports, LM has shown little interest in the years in anything athletic. His only exposure to baseball had been a trip to Baltimore several years ago to see my cousin play ball, or the games he has seen on television. He thought he was well prepared for George's game by bringing binoculars. Boy, was he surprised to find our seats were in the front row along the third base line with a perfect view of the entire field!!

Friday, May 02, 2008


I just can't figure out where the years have gone. Today, LM turns 12. My martian speaking Heybub; my cord-loving little boy; the one who would clap every time he heard music, even at the grocery store; my boy who could read Cat in the Hat at 4; my Little Man is 12. TWELVE. A dozen years have gone by in a blink.

Tomorrow, we will party. Today, we will savor our time together (and by time together, I mean LM playing his new PS2 game, until he opens his gift from his father (Nintendo DS) and then watching a couple movies together). Tomorrow, we will have 30+ people from school and church join us for a swim party provided by my sister. (Yeah, she's cool like that.) and then we will have LM's favorite meal out at my sister's house (burger on the grill, corn on the cob and fruit salad).

Hug your children. Love every single moment you have with them. Treasure the tears, the sorrow, the heartache, the joy the preciousness of the everyday. It's going by way too fast. Tomorrow he will be gone.

But today, we will celebrate.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Time in a Bottle

This morning, as most mornings go, I stood at the bus stop before the sun has risen with Eli at my side to see LM off for his school day. And this morning as every morning, we said goodbye and I headed back to the house with the dog.

Only it struck me this morning.

LM says, "Love ya!" first to me as he boards the bus. And I always respond with "Love you, too!" I've always let him say it first as it's his dignity at stake (even if there are only three witnesses to his proclamation including me).

I wonder, as my boy turns 12 tomorrow, how many more days do I have until he won't say it anymore? How many more days until he's embarrassed that I say it at all? How many more days will he even let me walk him to the bus each day?

How many more days do I have to cherish these moments?

Please let them be many.