Archive for May 2008

The Circle Game

May 30, 2008

Rick Ely recorded this Joni Mitchell tune when I was a teenager and I bought his album (yes Daniel….a RECORD album…a flat thing that spins on a player with a needle and makes music….sheesh) because of it. I was pleased to find it on line about a year ago. Today I was thinking about the Chapman Family, as I have been most of the week. Was doing a search for a video blog that I subscribe to and found this video. Steven Curtis Chapman in the middle of the kids in the Chinese orphanages he has dedicated his giving spirit to. The video brought back memories of Nina’s Russian orphanage……

What a heartbreaking day…..

May 22, 2008

I didn’t work today. Well…I did several loads of laundry…loaded the dishwasher….vacummed….mundane stuff. I should have been grading the MOUNDS of papers I have in my backpack. I planned to. Really. Instead I have been riveted to my computer gleaning news about a family I have never even met. Celebrity Baby Blog (okay…I go there to see what’s up with Angelina and her crew…and to ponder exactly what purpose Tori Spelling serves in the entertainment biz??) had the news of the tragedy in Steven Curtis Chapman’s family. I went immediately to his family web site – and I subscribe to his video blog as well. The loss of their youngest child, a just turned five year old and one of his three ‘China Angels’, had been killed in an accident in their very own driveway. Just hours after a family celebrated their oldest daughter’s engagement and before another celebration of a son’s high school graduation. I can’t get my mind off of this. So unbearably sad.

Adopting a baby from China had been their eldest daughter’s idea. After adopting Shaohannah, the entire Chapman Family was driven to do more for the children in need of families in China. They adopted twice more, bringing home Stevey Joy and Maria Sue. SCC gushes with pride and joy about his family at every opportunity….at every concert. He is a ridiculously adorable doting Dad. He has taken his family to China to do mission work in the orphanages there. Because of my own connection with international adoption, I read about their ‘Shaohannah’s Hope’ foundation that provides financial aid to families wishing to adopt shortly after they formed it. I have seen blog posted pictures of their crazy play dates with other families who have adopted their own ‘angels.’ I remember chuckling a bit as I watched their youngest bouncing on the bed as she sang a song to their blog audience, thinking that she had the energy level of my own daughter. I remember thinking ‘God help those poor souls!’ LOL And He certainly did.
The Chapman Family has been very, very blessed to have had God lead them to Maria Sue. And she has been blessed that God brought them to her. Even for such a short time. My heart goes out to all of them right now. Losing a little one so full of life and joy at such a precious time in their life is truely heartbreaking. So give the child in your life a hug today….in remembrance of Maria Sue.

They’re off!

May 16, 2008

Last night after dinner and a shower, I had the pleasure of escorting my son to his middle school to catch the bus for a long awaited extended weekend trip to the nation’s capital. FOUR busloads of hyper charged 8th graders – girls sitting with girls and boys sitting with boys, that’s the rule – cameras flashing and parents waving. Ever have one of those moments where you can’t WAIT for it to happen and yet you’re a bit melancholy when it does? Crazy that a simple trip like this makes you miss the little boy that was…… By the way, mine is the one shying away from the camera. Handsome dude.

We’re Growing up!

May 14, 2008

I was surprised with a very cool Flip Video camera for Mother’s Day this year. I have checking them out for ages….loving it! What’s very neat is that you can easily video those odd moments that cross your path…like this one. It was the Princess’ second attempt at pumping gas for me. Ah…the delight of having kids old enough to do those mundane chores while they are young enough to think that it’s fun. : ) And as always…she does things with such STYLE………

Boggled by Boston

May 12, 2008

Okay…so we are planning a vacation to a city where none of us has ever been. DH nixed New York…where I have desperately wanted to go since I was eight. Chicago is a favorite family vacation spot but we have been there before. I randomly selected Boston for our summer vacation. Okay…so my favorite actress is from there and had done a little tour of the city for the Today Show when we were deciding. Can I help it if no one else in my family pays attention to the Today Show?? We have been researching like crazy on the net. The Princess created a brochure about the city for her computer class project. The Prince is desperately seeking reasonable Red Sox tickets but will most likely be unsucessfull given the date we will be in town. As for me, I learned tonight that DH was not able to get our stay in a vacation club location extended. He’s known for weeks. Heh. Didn’t seem like a good thing to strangle him on Mother’s Day when he’d gifted me with the Flip video camera I had my eye on. Maybe tomorrow…..

Sooooo, I have been on the prowl for a cheap but accessible place for us to stay…near enough to the sights that we don’t have to drive everywhere (my research says that Boston is not an easy city to get around in by car). So far no luck. The more I look, the more confused I get. I am totally boggled by Boston at this point. And all I really wanted to do was soak up some history and channel one of my favorite kid authors by playing here for a little while….

Community Theater

May 8, 2008

I love theater. I have been writing and producing plays since third grade. Never got involved in Drama Club in high school though. I was too busy chasing down journalism. Took a theater class in college. Even won the class ‘Tony Award’ for playing the mother in law in workshop production of ‘Barefoot in the Park.’ Could never bring myself to be on stage in front of an audience though. I was convinced that MY destiny was to be the reviewer…the writer…the producer. A housemate dragged me into the community theater scene. I actually had NO idea such a thing existed. Outside of school I thought there was only the professional stage….like Broadway….or Broadway touring shows. Who would have thought that ‘normal’ people could do this? Teachers and Engineers? Mechanics and Housewives? Wow! My friend auditioned and volunteered me to do make up. The production was a revue of shows this group had done in their past 10 years. I hit the ground running and brushed stage make up on kids who were performing in segments from ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Showboat’ and ‘Oliver.’ After that it was on to ‘The King and I’….where I needed to transform 32 children – of various sizes and shades – into the Siamese progeny of one very pompous King. What fun. They discovered that I could paint and I was roped into doing flats – those wood framed canvas…flats…used for sets. And I could sew. So I was ‘volunteered’ to sew costumes. And my 35mm was never far from my hand in those days so I was soon taking publicity shots….and then writing the press packets and programs. I labored for a particularly curmudgeonly architect on sets for ‘A Funny Thing Happened n the Way To The Forum.’ Wanted to actually kill him when he made me redraw lines that were just an inch off. But I did it and he became one of my very best theater friends. I think I have done basically all of it. Heh. I have even been on stage. We couldn’t find anyone willing to do the housekeeper’s non singing role in ‘The Sound of Music.’ As assistant director, I had been reading the lines during rehearsals and the director sort of MADE me do it. I am glad that I did. My next project was to direct ‘Annie.’ That was back in 1988. Over 2000 people attended those performances….and I learned not too long ago that that production STILL holds the record for tickets sold for that community theater group. I dragged my husband into productions of ‘Scrooge’, ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Annie’ and ‘Annie Get Your Gun.’ He has a nice singing voice and is generally guaranteed a part. I dragged my DAD on to the stage for a production of “Shenandoah.’ We needed a guy who looked like a rebel soldier who could carry a gun. He even sang….albeit very quietly per the music director’s instructions. Hee. Life stepped in and I became a parent. Community Theater is a very intense little world for three or four months. Hard to drag a two year old to rehearsals. Hard to afford a sitter NOT to drag a two year old to rehearsals. So, we backed out as participants. We still attended performances….but it was difficult. I felt sooo left out. I still wrote and directed plays for groups of children in the school I worked at. Peter Pan….twice….Tom Sawyer…twice…The Wizard of Oz…The Little Princess…. As my children grew, our family shifted it’s focus to sports. We seemed to be tied up in practice and games and tournaments whenever there was a show to see or do. Then this spring we were hit with a double whammy. My son became part of the backstage crew for his middle school drama club. And I…was invited to assistant direct a production of ‘Tom Sawyer’. A musical. With a cast of 35? Maybe more. I haven’t had this much FUN in a very long while. It was incredibly intense. Things have changed since I directed ‘Annie.’ High school auditoriums are no longer free for theater groups. You have to pay for your rehearsal times. Our rehearsals took place in the Music room of my elementary school…a space roughly 1/8 the size of the theater we would be performing in.And sets had to be built on the fly…since we couldn’t get into the theater until the week before we opened. Sets are no longer built with wood and canvas flats. Now we use sheets of styrofoam insulation. It’s light enough to be carried, durable enough to last for the run of the show and can be carved and painted into just about anything. After the final two weeks of nightly tech and dress rehearsals….and a weekend of performances…I was exhausted…..and exhilarated. There is something so very wonderful about witnessing a 50ish year old woman who has never been in a play, pushing herself to actually sing a solo to an audience. And exciting about hearing an incredible voice come from an old friend that you didn’t even know could sing! There is something oddly exciting about hearing lines flowing correctly from a child who has NOT been able to give up the security of reading it from a script. There is something incredibly heartwarming about watching parents build sets, pass out fliers, sell tickets and ads as they support their children’s acting efforts. And there is something thrilling about seeing a cast come together as a ‘family’ of sorts, supporting one another and cheering one another on. Intense. For a short period of time. Friends forever….never to come together in the same way again. We will smile and hug when we run into one another at Wal-Mart…or Blockbuster….and breathe a collective sigh for the good times gone. Satisfaction for a job well done. And you thought all the hard work was just for YOUR benefit as an audience member? Naw. Next time the opportunity arises, volunteer to paint or sew or brush on stage makeup. I guarantee that you won’t regret it.

(pictures are from a recent performance of ‘Tom Sawyer.’)

There are days…..

May 3, 2008

There are moments…and days when I really love my children. I mean really, really REALLY love them. Today just happened to be one of them. DH was at work. We got out of bed and dashed across town – an hour away – for a soccer game. Nary an argument from either of them. Okay…maybe one about a misplaced sock. Her team won. We headed home and stopped at one of MY favorite restaurants for lunch. It happens to be one of their favorites as well but that doesn’t matter. I even sprung for the big dessert to share.
Then we headed to the BIG book store. I gathered an arm full of books and settled in a cozy corner chair to peruse my selections. They left me alone. For 45 whole MINUTES!! They came with several book choices of their own and were pleasantly surprised when I agreed. Rare occasion when we agree about that stuff. I tend to shy away from fandom soccer things. We have too much of that littering bedroom floors as it is. They disappeared again for 20 more minutes. Fifty five dollars later we headed home. All of us sated and happy. And there were cards in the mail inviting us to the middle school awards event. Both are receiving awards this year. Did I mention that I love my children?

Who Would Have Thought?

May 1, 2008

I have been painting children’s book characters on sweatshirts for the past 17 years. It was a ‘hobby’ that started sort of accidently. I wanted to wear a sweatshirt to work one day and painted a favorite book character on it first. It was an unexpected hit. Then I painted another one as a Christmas gift for our Media Tech. She approached me about painting shirts for the school staff to wear during our ‘reading month’ activities. They would bring in a shirt and a copy of their favorite book and I would be painting far into the night while watching television. I don’t think there is a classic book I haven’t painted – and read while doing it. I have painted hundreds over the years. I have done sweatshirts for birthday gifts….retirement gifts…end of the year teacher gifts…shower gifts…etc. I have painted them for visiting authors and illustrators – who actually LOVE them and never caution me about copy right infringements. One illustrator essentially gave me verbal permission to use any of her work in this manner. I loved it…once. It was relaxing and the sort of thing I was very good at. The ‘business’ end of it has basically gone through ups and downs. There was a time when a fan in another state ordered something new every fall. She must be retired now. Haven’t heard from her in a while. And then there was the person who called me from across the COUNTRY to order something similar to one she had seen a person wear on the beach in California. And the Dad of the local author/illustrator that wanted shirts for an entire family to meet his daughter in at the airport. It was an honorable business. So just HOW did I end up positioning plastic in the crotch of a pair of size 4 panties before painting bunnies? Well…a teacher friend was comisserating over the fact that her daughter HATED the only character that graces little girl underwear and she needed something to boost the potty training efforts. She begged and I painted Miffy the Bunny on four little undershirts and eight pair of panties that wound up in a three year old’s Easter basket. Okay, so my friend paid me to do it but I swore I wouldn’t do it again. It made me feel kind of….kinky. But it was a hit and the potty training has sucessfully commenced. And I have ANOTHER bag of undies to paint for ANOTHER staff member with a little girl who hates the character that is on the store bought stuff. Here we go again. Max and Ruby. Maybe I should just drop PBS a line and tell them to go into the toddler underwear business. Anyone have their number????