Monday, October 25, 2010

Close Encounters

Isaac and I had a blast at the Symphony. He dressed in his overpriced Star Wars Jango Fett costume and we headed downtown to the Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts. It was fantastic. They had the atrium set up with games for the kids and, Isaac's Favorite part, instruments for the kids to try: harp, violin, viola, cello, bass, flute, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, saxophone, alto sax, bassoon, bongos, snare drums, and various other percussion. It was a great sampling from all the instrument families. Isaac tried just about everything, but the strings -the lines were long and he figured he can try out my cello anytime :). I can tell this is my child - he wanted to try out all the BIG instruments. He still swears he wants to play the drum though. I wouldn't be surprised if he winds up playing the sax, though, He got some good noise out of it and was pressing the keys like he knew what he was doing.

The pictures came from my cell phone, so forgive the poor quality.

 The bassoon was a lot harder than it looked!

 I love the expression on his face with this one. He LOVED it.

I do have to say that my favorite part of their decorations was the "De-composers" graveyard, where they had headstones for some of the more famous composers (Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Grieg, etc).

After an hour of playing games and instruments, we headed up the stairs to the balcony, where we had front row center seats. They weren't that much more expensive than general admission, and I thought that this way, he was guaranteed to not have anyone's head blocking his view - and we could see the entire orchestra. The picture doesn't do it justice.

"Schnoodle" the Alien (from the planet Schnarp) arrived just as the musicians were warming up, and so the musicians taught him and the audience about warming up, tuning, when to clap, and each of the instruments and their functions in the orchestra as the concert went along. It was cute and Isaac got a huge kick out of it.

The expression on his face was priceless when the first piece began - the title theme from Star Wars. He loved it because not only did he recognize it, but he was wearing a Star Wars costume! (so naturally, they were playing it just for him). Needless to say, he clapped wildly at the end of the piece. The second piece was Mozart's Symphony No. 40 (to highlight the strings). He recognized this one from "Little Einsteins", so it was another big hit. The third piece was Khachaturian's Waltz from Masquerade Suite. I wasn't familiar with the piece, but it highlighted the woodwinds (Schnoodle was pretending to play the clarinet at this point). Nest was Mendelssohn's Scherzo from Incidental Music to A Midsummer Night's Dream (Schoodle on trumpet?).  After that was Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. I believe Schnoodle was playing the trombone during this one, much to Isaac's delight (it's an easy instrument to find in the crowd). At one point during the song, he "broke" the trombone (pulled the slide out) and swapped it out for a vuvuzela, which Isaac recognized from this summer's World Cup. Next Schnoodle moved over to the percussion section and the bass drum for Borodin's Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor. Isaac loved watching him jump up and down as he played the drum. Next was Toreadors from Carmen Suite No. 1, by none other than Bizet (one of my favorite composers). Isaac recognized this one, too. The next to last piece was Troyte from Enigma Variations by Elgar, another piece with which I was not familiar.  I can't remember if it was this piece or Toreadors where Schnoodle played the timpani (have I mentioned that Schoodle is actually the principal timpanist?). They closed with (bet you can't guess!) the Flying Theme from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. And I will never complain about a concert that starts and ends with John Williams :) And all of that was just an hour! Color me impressed. My only disappointment was that it was only the core orchestra and not the full symphony, but it still sounded fantastic. I will definitely be taking my big boy back for more of the family concerts - and Liam, too, when he gets a little bigger. The look on his face and the wild applause after each piece makes the tickets worth every penny - and then some :)

We left happy and headed to Target, because Isaac thought baby brother should get a surprise since we left him with a sitter (and Isaac figured since he was a good boy, he should get some Matchbox cars). Happy boys = happy Mommy.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's bird, it's a really, it's a plane.

Today's adventure took us to the Jacksonville Air Show. I woke up early and by some stroke of luck managed to get showered, get dressed, and even have a cup of coffee before the baby woke up. Thankfully, he woke up in a happy and cooperative mood, so after changing him and getting him dressed, I sent him up the stairs of big brother's bunk bed to wake up the big guy. After a quick breakfast and packing of gear necessary to survive the air show and still be in compliance with what we were allowed to bring in, we were off. We sat in traffic for a solid 30 minutes just to get into the base and then another solid 45 minutes waiting in line to go through the metal detectors to get in. But we had some nice conversations with the people in line around us and since the show started while we were still waiting, we had some entertainment watching the skydivers and some of the trick planes. We enjoyed watching Patty Wagstaff fly, which is cool for Isaac (my 6yo) because she is interviewed and shown in the Blue Angels DVD that he watches incessantly. She is also based in St. Augustine, only about 45 minutes from us. And we got to see the rocket truck. Finally we got through the line and into the show.

The first thing I asked Isaac was, "Okay, what planes do you want to go see first?" My common sense, no nonsense 6yo replies, "I guess we should see what's available first." Point well taken, kiddo. It ended up that the bounce houses and such distracted him first, so we went off and bounced  and slid for a little while, then waited in line for the trampolines before he got tired of the line and was ready to move on.  We looked at a few planes, but since they didn't allow anyone to go IN them, it was the helicopters that grabbed his attention the most. (And given the choice between pilot or co-pilot side, he chose pilot. That's my boy.)

And of course, whatever big brother does, Liam must do also.

Then we found the big planes and discovered the lines were horrendously long, including for the P-3. We can see a P-3 anytime, so we went into a cargo plane, which was great because we went up the rear ramp instead of me having to drag my 27 pounder up a ladder and back down. We decided to go grab some lunch so we could get through the lines before the Blue Angels went up. However, right about that time the F-18 Super Hornet went up, and the noise was just too much for Isaac, even with ear plugs (Liam kept removing his, not to anyone's surprise). Isaac announced he was ready to go home and Liam was cranky and ready for a nap. Liam had had enough sun and 15mph wind. So we left before the Blues did their show. We did stop at the t-shirt table before we left to pick Isaac up a new Blue Angels shirt, since he has just about outgrown his old one. He talked me into a hat as well. I honestly think that getting a new shirt was his ultimate goal, thus he left happy. Oh, and we ran into a Blue Angels crew member in the crowd and talked him out of a poster ;) Apparently we wore the baby out, because he was snoring on the way home.

 And now I hear the Blues flying over the house. Isaac still wants to fly Fat Albert when he grows up.

Because I can't resist:
A pilot recruit shows up for training and chooses helicopters over airplanes. When asked why he chose helicopters, he responds, "Helicopters are so powerful that they beat the air into submission." The instructor, being more of a fan of planes, replies, "No. Helicopters are so ugly, the earth repels them." That's all I could think of when my kids were in the helo :)

Friday, October 22, 2010


Things are looking up. I got an email from my husband this morning that he had found someone to come watch the baby for me on Sunday, so that the big boy and I can go to the Symphony after all. If he weren't in a different country, I could so kiss him right now. I had already given up and moved on, just figuring we weren't going to go - I even prepared my son for that situation. But my son and I will get to have our "date" after all, which means the world to me.

Speaking of the big boy, he was given several options for this weekend regarding Saturday. The air show is this weekend. He usually has bowling league practice on Saturday morning. He was given the option of a)going to bowling, then the air show, b)skipping bowling and going to the air show or c)going to to bowling, then coming home. He chose b. That's fine with me. He's in PeeWees, the team is at the base lanes. I don't imagine attendance will be very high at bowling tomorrow. Plus, each team used to have its own coach but now the league has one overall coach. He doesn't even come talk to the PeeWees, let alone coach them or teach them anything (the hubby is considering moving him an off-base league because of this). He's not learning much (and I don't have the bowling knowledge or skills to teach him - that's what Daddy is for) and it's so hard to take the baby with us (not so much a baby as a rambunctious toddler who refuses to stay in one place). So the air show will pretty much be our entire Saturday. It's not like you can deny an air show to an aviator's kids. It's what they live and breathe (and we didn't go last year bc it was out at the beach, Daddy was deployed, and the baby was too small - so really, I'm on the hook this year). Now to figure out how to get the baby to keep his ear plugs in...

Sunday will be grocery shopping, cleaning, and then off to the Symphony (with the big boy in costume. He's so excited - and I'm excited to get more use out of his extremely overpriced costume).

Monday is a teacher work day, so the big boy will be at home (thus forcing me to take a vacation day. I have just gotten back in the black on sick and vacation hours at work, between maternity leave and sick kids during deployment last year). But it's okay, because it gives me some more time to clean this place up so the landlords can show it to prospective renters, and so that I can meet our realtor out at the new house to take a second look at some items that popped up during inspection. Besides, since the big boy was sick yesterday, I have 5 days straight off. No complaints there.

So things are looking up, so much so that I took a much-deserved nap this morning after dropping the kids off. Now begins the search for coffee, odd socks, and the motivation to clean. Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


A friend once told me that you couldn't say "Snuffleupagus"without smiling. So if you hear me muttering this to myself, it's because it's been a rough week. I'm sure it's superior to me saying [bleep].

Indeed, this week set out to teach me many lessons. First, I appreciate having my husband at home. There's a reason that parents were meant to come in sets of two. Second, never ever try to make plans. The Navy will find a way to ruin them. Third, when it really comes down to it, the only person you can depend on is yourself. Fourth, trust your instincts. Fifth, your kids will only get sick when there's only one parent available.  These are all inter-related. I won't go into much detail, mainly because it would be boring to read and because it will only bring all the feelings to the surface that I am working so hard to suppress. Suffice it to say that I haven't had a chance to have special time with my 6yo since the baby (now 16mo) was born. So when I bought tickets to take my big guy to the Alien Encounter at the Jax Symphony, I was excited and so looking forward to it. An hour later, my husband was put on alert to launch out of the country at any time (and launched 3 days later). Thus began my desperate search to find a volunteer to watch the baby for a few hours. No luck. So unless something miraculous happens, we won't be going. It's extremely frustrating and more than disappointing. (But thank you to everyone in 4 other states - PA, WA x2,OH x2, and SC x2 - who offered. I think the commute might be hell).

But, with her wonderful timing, a friend sent me an email that lightened my mood for a little while. I think I will be adding a few of these to my permanent vocabulary (note that the contest really does not exist and is in no way attributable to the Washington Post. Urban myths at work):

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again asked readers to take  
 any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing 
 one letter, and supply a new definition.   Here are the 2009 winners:       
 1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject  
 financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.                     
 2. Ignoranus : A person who's both stupid and an asshole.                  
 3. Intaxication : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you  
 realize it was your money to start with.                                   
 4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a hillbilly.                     
 5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright  
 ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign 
 of breaking down in the near future.                                       
 6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of      
 getting laid.                                                              
 7. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.                    
 8. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person  
 who doesn't get it.                                                        
 9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.    
 10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)     
 11. Karmageddon : It's like, when everybody is sending off all these       
 really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, 
 a serious bummer.                                                          
 12. Decafalon (n.): The gruelling event of getting through the day         
 consuming only things that are good for you.                               
 13. Glibido : All talk and no action.                                      
 14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they 
 come at you rapidly.                                                       
 15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've  
 accidentally walked through a spider web.                                  
 16. Beelzebug (n.) : Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your  
 bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.                    
 17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the 
 fruit you're eating.                                                       
The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its      
 yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings    
 for common words.  And the winners are:
 1. Coffee , n. The person upon whom one coughs.                            
 2. Flabbergasted , adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has    
 3. Abdicate , v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.        
 4. Esplanade , v.. To attempt an explanation while drunk.                   
 5. Willy-nilly , adj. Impotent.                                            
 6. Negligent , adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a  
 7. Lymph , v. To walk with a lisp.                                         
 8. Gargoyle , n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.                                 
 9. Flatulence , n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been    
 run over by a steamroller.                                                 
 10. Balderdash , n. A rapidly receding hairline.                           
 11. Testicle , n. A humorous question on an exam.                          
 12. Rectitude , n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists. 
 13. Pokemon , n.. A Rastafarian proctologist.                              
 14. Oyster , n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.  
 15. Frisbeetarianism , n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up  
 onto the roof and gets stuck there.                                        
 16. Circumvent , n. An opening in the front of jockey shorts worn by       
 Jewish men

Snuffleupagus. Snuffleupagus. Snuffleupagus.