Sunday, February 22, 2009

Since she's been gone

Cate has been out of town for a few days helping her mom out, so it's just been the six of us (Nonna and Da, not some new-found offspring). And tomorrow I go out of town for a meeting at Verizon, so there's a span of 24 hours where neither of us is here.

But everything's been fine so far. Emptying the notebook of what you might have missed if you were out of town or otherwise really, really busy this weekend.

  • I took Elizabeth and Robert with me to Stevens Point, Wis., for a D-III basketball game. Just 220 miles each way. I sat Elizabeth down beforehand and told her, "Now, Robert is going to annoy you, and he's going to annoy me. That's just the way he is. You and I need to deal with it and not let it stress us out, ok?" Elizabeth didn't get very stressed out. We saw a great game. Well, at least I did. Robert mostly sat on the floor under the media table because I told him he couldn't sit at the table and read Garfield at the same time. He chose the floor. And he's little, so that's great. Elizabeth drew pictures, some of them basketball-related. Afterwards the Wis.-Stevens Point men's basketball team had an autograph session and there were sets of trading cards, which Robert had a great time tracking down and getting signed while I was conducting postgame interviews.
  • We listened to both of our Beatles compilation CDs. Elizabeth needs to show you her picture of I Am The Walrus. I also introduced them to the joys of listening to the Beatles one speaker at a time. You know, where the vocals are in one speaker and the instruments are in another, or the lead vocal is in one and the background vocals are in the other. Good times.
  • After the game we stopped at a Noodles for dinner because Elizabeth had never been and Robert enjoyed his one meal at one. We got there about 10 minutes before a bus pulled up. Good timing.
  • On the way home, they slept, at least for the last three hours or so. But before they drifted off, we pulled over by the side of the road, turned our lights off, rolled the windows down and looked at the stars. Neither of them had ever seen so many stars before. We've found something Abbotsford, Wis., is good for.
  • Friday night we met a high school friend of mine and his family for dinner, Broadway Pizza. Our kids had a great time and his kids warmed up pretty quickly. You'd be surprised how well 3-year-olds can converse with each other over pizza. Robert had chicken fingers, of course. Elizabeth and I split a white pizza. She was the only person at the table between the ages of 7 and 35. And she did just fine.
  • I have sitting next to me a worksheet Robert brought home from school, where there are six pictures and you color the needs one color and the wants another color. Well, he does great -- roller skates, a television and a cat are all wants, while fruits and vegetables and places to live are colored with needs. Then there's a shirt. He colored half of it one color and half the other color. Not every shirt is a need, definitely. There's also a second worksheet, asking what you would buy with a hundred dollars. He answers a toy ($20), candy ($10) and a job ($50). He also does the math to show that that's only 80 bucks. Hopefully he's saving the rest.
  • Colleen got to stay with Nonna while the kids and I spent all day driving and hooping. They went to Aunt Alicia's birthday party and hung out with Amelia and Mackenzie and the like and reportedly had a grand old time.
  • I took Robert and Elizabeth to church this morning. Since I sing in the choir, I go over a half-hour early for warm-ups and practicing, and Cate usually follows with the three kids at 9. But Colleen stayed home and I took the other two in. Robert sat very nicely during rehearsal and then he and Elizabeth sat in the congregation, very close to the choir's space, and behaved very appropriately. I was proud.
  • On Friday night, Colleen did not crawl into bed with me. Robert reported that she crawled into his bed instead, and he pushed her off, "because she was literally all over me, Dad!"
  • Nonna took Robert and Colleen over to visit Pa this afternoon. Robert impressed him with his reading ability and Colleen sang Skip to My Lou. Yeah, Colleen. The one who buries her head and won't look at her nearly-96-year-old great-grandfather.
  • Elizabeth was off playing with a friend of hers from school. They went sledding. She didn't bring back any physical or emotional scars.
  • Tonight we had lamb. Yum!
  • We didn't have one tough bedtime the whole time I was here and Cate was gone.
  • Stuff is all getting done, just maybe not at the same time that it would have otherwise. Robert's lunch box got cleaned out ... on Sunday night. Elizabeth has been practicing her clarinet, but mostly before school.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dutch ... and Farsi

Those were the two other languages Robert could name. This was after Nonna mentioned that the directions for a new cordless screwdriver were in English, Spanish, French and German.

Robert has fellow first graders who speak Dutch and Farsi. Guess Mandarin isn't taking over the 55410 any time soon.

Friday, February 13, 2009

'It sounds gross'

Robert asks a lot of questions, as you may have noticed. The latest, yesterday: "Mom, is savvy a good thing? Because it sounds gross," he said, wrinkling up his nose.

"It means you know what you're doing," Cate responded.

"Oh, OK," Robert said.

One of those things we'll probably never know why.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Everything but Rosebud

I took the kids sledding this morning.

They've been bugging me and Cate for a sledding trip all season. Our sledding opportunities are fairly limited by sunlight and school hours, and by, frankly, our own lack of desire to take the kids sledding. That's because everyone loves to go down hill and nobody loves to go back up.

This morning was the harmonic convergence, however. I woke up in a good mood, though maybe not overly rested. It was warm today, and dry, so we weren't going to get snowed or rained on and we had 40-degree temperatures or so.

We had four people and three sleds, but then again, Colleen isn't ready to go sledding alone. Elizabeth and Robert, though, definitely are! See the video:

Now, like most sledding trips, this one seemed doomed to disaster. But it wasn't until our last trip down the hill that we stopped courting it and it found us.

Silly us. We decided we would go down the hill three sleds abreast, starting from the top of the hill. There are two sledding runs, with a tree and a stump in the middle. I found us drifting toward the left, toward the tree, and tried to slide us even further left to get around it. But, well, not so much. All three of us hit the tree, and hit it hard. I twisted to try to take the brunt of it and I flipped over the stump. So did Elizabeth, landing square on her back in pain. Robert lost a boot but quickly gave me a thumbs-up.

Elizabeth has a nice big scrape on her back and another one near her elbow. Robert has a scrape and a bump on his forehead. My tailbone and right arm are a little sore.

Colleen wasn't affected -- we didn't take her down on that run. I needed an arm to hold onto her when we went down the hill and that didn't mesh with our plan.

But we had a great time. Next time we'll choose a less-challenging hill.


Friday, February 6, 2009

I'd say they're acclimated

It's been another pretty nice day around here today, reminding me of a story Cate told about a warm day earlier in the week.

Robert was daring to go outside without a hat or gloves. It was a really warm day, up to about 40 when it was all said and done. Cate was telling him he needed to finished getting dressed to go outside.

"After all," I was told, "it's 30 degrees out!"

Robert gives a quizzical look at Cate, and says, "minus?"

Robert clearly knows the difference between 30 and minus-30 degrees.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Breaking the mold

Robert's wedding cake turned into a disaster, but when rebranded as a "lone volcano," it ended up winning first prize.

Sadly, Patrick didn't take a picture of it because he was so crestfallen and he didn't want to remind him that it wasn't what he was hoping. You can see it off to the right of the white rabbit with the spooky eyes.

Robert's was a too-tall jello mold (three tier). We think our jello wasn't sturdy enough for the height. And Robert carried it on the plate for a while so it got extra jiggled. It sort of melted/fell over. He was very upset and then was very surprised when they announced his name about a half hour later.

He was even more surprised when he found out there was an actual prize (a clip-on pen). He said, "I thought I just won but really there's a prize too!!!"

We think his natural charm had a lot to do with it. Teenage girls (in charge of the tallying) love him.

We might work with the jiggler recipe next year. Elizabeth's design held together better with the sturdier jello.

This was a Pizza/Jello/Bingo Night at church. Not sure how such a tradition got started but the Bingo cards were circa 1955. I was shuddering at the idea of kids with sticky jello fingers (you get to share the jello creations for dessert) playing bingo with those vintage cards.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Audition time

I've been preparing for almost a month for tonight's audition with the Bloomington Chorale. I didn't have to audition to get into the group, but there are many solo parts in this spring's concert series and I'm hopeful of getting at least one.

This has been a great experience. I heard the chorale sing in concert back in December and decided this would be a good outlet for me, since I was looking for something in addition to the church choir. This group, like most, has a very small tenor section. I'm one of four.

It turns out three of the four of us are auditioning tonight. There are about a dozen parts available. It's comforting to know I'm not the best in this group, not by a long shot, but it was suggested to me that I should audition anyway, as they can split the parts up.

I've been working pretty hard on two pieces and when I saw nobody was auditioning for a third one, I threw my name in just for the heck of it. I've been trying to take care of my voice as much as possible -- if you can picture just one drink on Super Bowl Sunday! I've had more tea to drink in the past 24 hours than beer.

And I'm a little nervous. The last time I had an audition I cared this much about, it was to get into the music school in college. And that was taped. This would be a little different, and if I'm fortunate enough to be given a piece, it'll mean for the first time that people are paying to attend a concert in which I am soloing.

Note that I didn't say people are paying to hear me solo. I'm not that foolish!

Now I'm just killing the last few minutes before leaving. I don't want to be late, but I suspect I'll be very early.