Friday, May 29, 2009

Music To My Ears

After all these years of forcing the kids to go to piano lessons and practice, I'm sitting here listening to M happily playing songs from Spamalot, while B sings along. M discovered today that we owned a songbook (easy piano version), and he was inspired to learn his favorite song: "He is not dead, Fred!"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Sound of Silence

DH is in Australia this week (and going straight to Washington DC tomorrow for another week). B is on the second day of her three-day field trip. It's not my day to drive the middle-school carpool, so I won't see M for another 4.5 hours. Even the dogs are being quiet today!

I'm working at home, enjoying the quiet, and occasionally moving loads of laundry around. I should probably visit the grocery store this afternoon, as M would like me to make him dinner :-)

I'll enjoy it while it lasts. Tomorrow B comes home, then her Orinda Idol group is rehearsing here at 5:00. Yes, she's been talked into Orinda Idol again. She didn't think it was that exciting last year, but her friends talked her into it. They'll be auditioning on Saturday morning with "The One Feather Tail of Miss Gertrude McFuzz/Amazying Mayzie" from Seussical. S is reprising her role as Gertrude, L is singing Mayzie, and B and K have been recruited as Bird Girls. Should be fun! They've had one rehearsal so far, and they sounded good. I'm going to try to convince them tomorrow that they need to focus more on singing with the mikes (handhelds), and not so much on running around the stage!

I ordered the accompaniment CD from Amazon, and had fun using Garage Band to edit the accompaniment track. Auditions are limited to 2 minutes, and the full piece is 3.5 minutes, so something had to go. Simply cutting them off at two minutes resulted in the Bird Girls getting to sing about three notes, so S's mom and I did some creative editing at the previous rehearsal (while I was sitting at the piano). The intro is gone, several measures of the interlude between the two pieces are gone, and they're only doing the middle third of Mayzie's song. I was impressed with how easy it is to edit this stuff in Garage Band. I had already worked out at the piano the measures to delete (had to do it in a way that made sense harmonically), and DH couldn't tell when I finished the first draft that anything was missing!

Saturday will be crazy. B is going to be dropped off at L's house around 10:00, so L's mom can take then both to their 10:50 audition. I'll be at M's 10:30 fencing class in Richmond. At 12:00, M and I leave fencing class. We drive back home, hastily throw B and Poppy in the car, and go to the 1:00 obedience class in Oakland. At 2:00, I drive home, fling everyone out of the car, grab my concert gear (hopefully not forgetting anything important), and drive back to Oakland for a Voci concert. Call is at 2:30, I'm hoping to be there by 3:00. Come hear a fabulous concert!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Always Look On the Bright Side of Life

Current mental soundtrack: see title ^

Today I saw Spamalot with the family and some friends. It was a really fun show--the whole family enjoyed it. I picked it over Wicked because I thought the guys would enjoy this one more, and I think I was right. There were a lot of empty seats, though--I hope ticket sales pick up! After the show, we had a lovely dinner at Khan Toke Thai House. The kids remember this one as the place where you get to sit on the floor, but DH and I just like the food and the atmosphere. They do have cutouts under most of the tables so you don't actually have to sit cross-legged for long periods. B & M are now upstairs playing Rock Band with my sister.

It's been a nice, relaxing weekend so far. Yesterday was the first free day I've had in over a month, and I couldn't figure out what to do with myself! I finally settled on a little shopping with B (I desperately needed a new pair of black high-tops, as the holes in mine were getting pretty big), followed by some time cleaning up the back yard. I deadheaded the roses, weeded (found a three-foot high weed behind a container), and filled the green bin up with miscellaneous twigs and sticks that have been lying around for months.

Not too much planned for tomorrow. B has a playdate with a ballet buddy, I have someone coming over to rehearse a solo, then B and three of her friends are rehearsing at our house for next weekend's Orinda Idol auditions. They're going to sing "Amayzing Mayzie" from Seussical.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Proposition Madness

Are other Californians as confused as I am about today's election? I try to be a good voter--I take the time to read about the issues, and I always show up and vote. However, despite being an intelligent, well-educated voter, reading the official language of the propositions is not always enlightening, so I usually spend some time researching who has endorsed the different sides. I check known liberal (San Francisco Chronicle) and conservative (San Diego Union Tribune) newspapers, and investigate what different organizations recommend.

So, let's see. The SF Chronicle recommends "Yes" on all six. The California Republican Party and the SD Union Tribune say "No" to all. No surprises so far. But wait!

The California Democratic party is neutral on A, D, and E, and supports B, C, and F. The California State PTA (as forwarded to us by the kids' schools) says Yes on A, B, C, and E, and no on D. The UC Regents (we are both employed by UC) says Yes on A, neutral on all others. The League of Women Voters is against A, C, D, and E, and neutral on B. The LA Times supports all except B.

We are heading out to vote soon--I think I've finally made up my mind on most of them, and will discuss the rest with DH in the car. Not that it makes a big difference; I'm pretty certain they're all going to lose (except 1F).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Hot, Hot, Hot

We're having a heat wave in the Bay Area right now. Even chilly San Francisco was in the mid-80s today. At B's afternoon ballet performance, it was so hot that the light board overheated, and lights started to turn off and on at random times. The second half of the program was performed with very dim stage lighting, because that's all that would work. Tonight's S&P concert was quite warm, too--the church we performed in is one of those where the sanctuary is upstairs. Concert went well, and it was nice and warm outside when we left at 10:00 pm. Come hear us tomorrow in Berkeley!

Off and Running

B has been delivered to the ballet school for this morning's pre-ballet show (teaching assistants get to perform, too), and DH and M are off to fencing class, followed by obedience class. I'm picking up B for lunch at noon, then it's back to the ballet school at 1:00 for the afternoon show. This evening is S&P--come hear us!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

I got to sleep in today, and finally dragged myself out of bed to eat the lovely brunch the kids made (scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast with hearts cut into the slices). After spending a little family time cleaning up the back yard, we went to the pool and hung out there for a couple of hours. The kids had a great time swimming and playing, and I relaxed with a Diet Coke and the Sunday newspaper. For dinner, we went to King Tsin restaurant and had a nice meal.

Yesterday was a little crazy. DH and I each ended up taking one kid for the day. DH got to take B to the pre-ballet dress rehearsal (she's a teaching assistant) from 9:30-11:30, then to her rehearsal from 1:30-3:30. I took M to fencing class (10:30-12:00), obedience class (first meeting without dogs) from 1:00-2:00, then the CMEA choral festival from 4:00-5:00. Each in a different city, of course (DH was impressed when he looked at the minivan's trip odometer: I had filled the car with gas while M was at fencing, and reset the trip odometer--it had over 50 miles on it by the time I got home!)

M's chorus was one of only three middle-school choirs invited to perform at the festival, and the only one that was limited to sixth-graders. I heard two of the groups that preceded theirs--one was a high school group, and one looked like it might have been middle-school girls. I thought M's group sounded really good, for a non-auditioned group of kids. It's too bad M doesn't want to continue in choir, but I'm glad he gave it a try this year. There were only ten boys on the stage yesterday, out of the 50-60 kids in the choir, and I suspect there will be even fewer next year. M likes to sing (he has an excellent ear and a pleasant voice), but he dislikes being on stage.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

To Boldly Go...

Current mental soundtrack: theme song from original Star Trek

Just got back from the new Star Trek movie--lots of fun!

DH and I watched several episodes of the original show with the kids this week, so they would have some idea of who the characters are. B was the only one of us observant enough to notice that the original Captain Kirk has brown eyes, while the young one in this movie has blue ones.

We also discovered that our local movie theatre is under new management. When we walked up at 6:15 to buy tickets, someone was taking photos of the guy selling tickets. When DH asked why, we found out that the guy who sold us our tickets was the new owner of the theater, and had owned it for only three hours! I hope it's a success--we like the theater a lot.

Monday, May 4, 2009

How Lucky You Are!

Current mental soundtrack: "How Lucky You Are" from Seussical

Here is our Yertle:

The mom in charge of costumes is very talented! The green shoes belong to B, but the rest of the costume was provided by the costume committee. There's also a judge's robe that she wore for the final scene.

Yertle & Bird Girl

Jungle Creature, Jungle Creature, & Yertle

Seussical went quite well, and the kids had a lot of fun. From the pit, the most interesting moments were when the Tuesday cast suddenly decided to skip three pages of music, and when the Wickersham Brothers from both casts decided that the measures of rest before their entrances were unnecessary. We managed to catch up :-) There were also some agonizingly long moments on stage as kids tried to remember their lines, or were late for entrances, but the show (eventually!) went on.

Before the Show
Jungle Creature, Who, Who, Who, Jungle Creature
Front: Jungle Creature, Gertrude McFuzz, Who, Yertle the Turtle, Bird Girl, Jungle Creature

Me at the keyboard

Friday, May 1, 2009

Oh, The Thinks You Can Think

Current mental soundtrack: "Oh, The Thinks You Can Think" from Seussical

opens today--I'll let you know later how the shows go. Live performance is always unpredictable, and when a bunch of elementary-school kids are involved, it becomes even more interesting. There will be three of us in the "pit" trying to keep everyone on track (Music Director on piano, Director on percussion, and me on keyboard). As I discovered during yesterday's dress rehearsal, having multiple musicians (and no conductor) makes it a little more challenging when a kid drops a line, or jumps ahead to the wrong verse. The three of us have to somehow read each others' minds and figure out what we're doing when things go wrong.

Like everything else the kids do, this is a fundraiser, so in addition to our parental volunteer time, we're also supposed to provide baked goods to sell at intermission. In honor of the Dr. Seuss theme, I baked four dozen Truffula Trees last night:

They don't look exactly like Truffula Trees, as I had to make do with a palm-tree cookie cutter, which has more fronds and a shorter, thicker trunk. Close enough, though--once I added the colored icing, they started to look more Seussian.