We ran a family experiment tonight – took the boy out to an 8pm concert at The Barns at Wolf Trap. Schooner Fare — a Maine folk duo (formerly trio) that I’ve known of and enjoyed since I was a teenager — comes to The Barns every year. TheGuy and I have been several times and have been waiting impatiently for the boy to be old enough that we felt we could bring him. Tonight was a bit of a gamble, but it went well. He is familiar with a lot of their music (although they have a large repertoire, so there were songs they played tonight that none of us had heard before) and enjoyed the show. I had packed a few dried cherries and chocolate bits to give him at intermission in hopes a little sugar boost would get him through the second set. It mostly did – he only really started to fade during the last song of the second set and the two encore songs.
Apart from being unsure whether he could make it through the show, tonight is a gamble in another way, too. He has had a really good bedtime-to-sleep routine for a few months (after a few years of not having such a thing). So we’ve been really reluctant to upset that applecart. So tonight is the latest he’s been up in a looooong time. Thus, the experiment is half over – he did well at the concert. But: Can he get to sleep tonight? How long will he sleep? And what will it do to his day tomorrow? Parenting anxieties… (seriously, the PTSD from infancy and toddlerdom is finally fading, but it’s going to take a lot longer for my anxiety about his sleep drama to go away, I think.)
Unrelated to the boy, tonight was also only the second time that we’ve used the brand new 495 express lanes on our side of the Washington Beltway. Considering they start right near our house, were empty (at least tonight), and there’s no charge if you have 3 people in your vehicle, so far we are huge fans! Could work out very well for our little family of three and whatever weekend trips north we wind up taking. To friends of ours who come south on the Beltway on the outer loop to visit us: definitely take the express lanes. Easy, easy drive – at least for now.
TheBoy (some days it seems he’s really not such a LittleGuy anymore) has been sleeping well and solidly lately. He’s growing. But it means that he doesn’t have much time to play games with us on weekday evenings or mornings. This morning when I went in to get him up for school he asked me to wake him up at 5:47 tomorrow. I said, “Why?” He said, “So that we have extra time to play games.” Fortunately, he’s also really tickled to be growing so big and strong, so I reminded him that sleep helps him grow. So he agreed that maybe the games could wait until Saturday.
For months now he’s been doing very well at clearing his own dishes from the table after a meal. Today I ran the experiment of having him set the table for the three of us for dinner. Kinda’ worked. Hurrah! Child labor.
He is very pleased that he won trophies at his tae kwon do tournament. I put them on top of his desk. But he’s very insistent that they be displayed elsewhere in the house. Specifically near the tv (which is in the basement). I don’t know why. But I told him we could consider moving them on the weekend. (He doesn’t spend any time in the basement on weekdays.)
Tonight he asked us how much a Christmas tree costs (we don’t have one up yet). Specifically, if it costs more than $5, which is what he has in his wallet right now. I said, “Oh, the one we get will probably cost around 60 dollars.” He said: “60 with ones on them?” I said “Yeah, or 3 twenties.” But, while we thanked him for the thought, we reassured him that he doesn’t have to buy the Christmas tree with his money. (He has similarly offered to pay for milk.)
It’s late and I’m tired and while I have several things I could write epic blog posts about, I don’t have the energy for epic right now. So I popped on over to the Holidailies site to look for a topic prompt, and one is: “tell us about your favorite holiday book or movie.” So I thought for a second, and came up with an answer. And then realized the book I’d thought of was out of print the last time I went searching for it. So I googled up the author, and realized I could write a short blog post about this author (actually a children’s book illustrator) and how I came across the book about 25 years ago, but … not tonight.
Instead I will recommend three albums, all new to me in the last few months:
- Will Hoge’s Modern American Protest Music. You can listen to all of the tracks on his site. The first one I heard was “I Don’t Believe” and afterward I immediately downloaded the whole album from iTunes. “Times Are Not Changing” is probably my next favorite.
- Seraphic Fire‘s Silent Night. A friend of ours sings soprano on this classical Christmas album.
- Frank Turner’s Last Minutes and Lost Evenings. From the Amazon description, “an incredibly seductive introduction to the man and his music: Last Minutes and Lost Evenings presents 15 songs, standards and rarities, hand-picked by Frank Turner from his catalog to get new fans started off on the right foot.” My faves: “Photosynthesis” and “Nashville Tennessee.”
A couple people have asked whether we’re going to have TLG start piano lessons now that we’ll soon have a real piano in the house. We don’t actually know. Our current thinking is that we won’t start any kind of formal music lesson until at least kindergarten (which is next fall). The next question is: which instrument? We are considering both violin and piano. (Both TheGuy and I play piano and TheGuy plays violin. I had piano lessons as a kid; he had violin lessons. We also have a guitar somewhere in this house that we can both strum a few chords on.)
I am currently leaning toward violin for TLG because I think he’ll learn more musically from that and it will train his ear much better. He’ll have the piano right here that he can play around with whenever he wants. If later on he shows more of an interest in piano, then we can add on some piano instruction. However, I don’t really feel strongly, so we’re still thinking it over. Feel free to opine to me at length about this question; I’m collecting anecdata and opinions.
On Sunday we bought a piano! It will be delivered next week.
The original plan had been to simply stop by the showroom and make some inquiries about rentals, but when we left, we had purchased a Yahama acoustic upright (P22). It is slightly used – it spent a few months at Wolf Trap as a studio piano, apparently.
I am super excited. We have had a decent digital piano (with full-size weighted keys) that TheGuy bought in the late 90s. But I never liked it. I learned to play on gigantic old church uprights. My piano growing up was a 75-year-old gutted piano player (the player mechanism had long since been removed). And neither the feel nor the sound of the digital piano was ever satisfying to me. And then there’s having to turn it on, and make sure the speakers are plugged in, and move the pedal to the right position, and also it always felt a bit wobbly on its stand to me
The salesguy we spoke with first tried, lightly, to cajole us into considering a baby grand. But, while I’ve been thinking about it, I have not yet done the exercise of taping together some newspaper to see what the actual footprint of a baby grand would be in our (small) living room. He also showed us a Yahama digital of comparable price to the piano we eventually purchased. It was… fine. But again with the volume fussing and the turning on and such.
We played with the digital piano a little bit and a few other uprights including a couple of Christoforis (I refused on principle to play any of the grands, because why torture myself), but then I tried the piano (our P22) directly behind us. And the feel was noticeably different – more sensitive and subtle. The sound was also far superior; warmer and with the sound is coming at you from all directions out of the instrument, rather than being piped through speakers. TheGuy (who has a better ear than me) agreed. He doesn’t feel as strongly about acoustic over digital as I do, but agreed that this piano would be a fine thing to have. We wandered around the showroom trying some other uprights, including other Yamahas, so I could convince myself I wasn’t just being swayed by the brand name (and the Wolf Trap story).
I am really looking forward to having it in the house. Merry Christmas to us. It should arrive next Tuesday. I’ll post pictures then.
TLG participated in his first tae kwon do tournament yesterday. He had 3 events: basics, forms, and sparring. In his division (4-year-old white belts–and a couple of gold belts, of which there were 9 kids), he placed first in basics and forms, and did not place in sparring. So, a very good day for him. (There were more than 170 kids registered for the tournament of all ages and levels – it ran all day, but we didn’t have to show up until just before 4pm for his activities.)
It was a bit crowded and chaotic for my tastes, but I have the sense that’s the nature of these things. They run one of these intramural tournaments every 6 months so I expect we’ll be doing this again this summer.
He is like most humans in that competition inspires him – although for a few days he had been saying that he did not want to go because he was afraid he would lose (and he did lose right away in sparring – but that was his third event, so he’d already won the other two, at that point). So as he was getting ready for his swim class this morning, I mentioned to him that there are swimming competitions as well, for kids who actually know how to swim. That seemed to intrigue him – so perhaps TKD can (as it should) be an impetus for progress in other areas, as well. (Not that I really want him to join the swim team…)
I have been in such denial about how fast the end of the year is approaching that I completely flaked out on a get-together I was supposed to go to last night (November 30.) I had been in a windowless hotel conference room most of the week for a four-day conference, and was completely (apparently) oblivious to what the actual date was and somehow had in the back of my head that we were nowhere near the end of the month. Oops. My bad. I’m disappointed because I’d been looking forward to it, too! So pathetic.
So yeah; it’s December, I guess! We’ll probably go get a tree next weekend. We are fortunate that TLG is not a particularly toy-crazy kid. He’s very happy with his big Christmas present that came early: a big kid desk for his room. Lately his favorite television show is My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. And his favorite pony is Rainbow Dash. TheGuy found this excellent gift that I ordered for TLG for Christmas to have under the tree. I think he may even get the joke, too.
I signed up for Holidailies this year. I think I may have tried to do it several years ago (without explicitly signing up), but I don’t remember. I have vague inklings to blog (as usual), so maybe the explicit act of signing up will serve as useful impetus. We shall see.
Also: tomorrow is December 1. 2012. Who let that happen?
A late-80s production of Les Miserables at the Shubert Theatre in Boston was the first ‘broadway musical’ I ever saw as a teenager. I still have the tshirt (in a pile to be incorporated into a tshirt quilt one of these days), in fact. I have been only vaguely aware that a new film adaptation is in the works. But apparently it’s getting good reviews so far – Tzikeh has a quick round-up along with links to trailers. Of particular interest to me is the fact that the songs were recorded ‘live’ during acting, rather than pre-recording the songs and having the actors lip-sync to them during filming. I think that’s cool. I like the musical and know most of the songs. So I’m looking forward to seeing this. Also: Russell Crowe! (I know, I know, they say he may not be a very nice person in real life, but: pretty!)
Anyway, I also read the novel back in high school. And still have that paperback somewhere around here. I’ve long forgotten most of the details beyond the emotional highs and lows from the musical, so I’m going to try to re-read it before seeing the movie. Conveniently, the Kindle version is available for $0.00 at Amazon – so I downloaded a copy and now don’t have to try to carry a 1000-page novel for the next couple of weeks. Progress report as of this evening: 9% of the way done!