16 December 2006

Burying Talents

I did it! I finally did it!

Let me preface this with the fact that whenever I get in front of a group of people (unless it is immediate family only) to do something by myself (whether it be piano or singing or speaking), I am sick for the entire day before. Physically ill. In the bathroom. When the performance begins, I only have about 30 seconds before the jitters set in. I jitter so badly, I have to guess where my fingers will hit the next note (and sometimes I guess wrong since I can't replicate the conditions when I practice at home) or my knees feel like they are about to jitter away from by body entirely.

So, when the Christmas Musical Fireside I organized seemed to be low on musical numbers and I had written a number of (unsuccessful) pleading emails inviting others to perform, I gulped and signed myself up for a solo (and also got a quartet together). I enjoy singing in groups. I have had a lot of people tell me I have a beautiful voice. But I grew up in my mother's shadow.

She has always been rather proud of her voice. If she sings in a choir, you can hear her well. If she sings in a congregation, you can pick her out. She has a beautiful voice.

I never got praise for singing from her. I distinctly remember coming home for Christmas break one year. I had been in a section of University Chorale that semester. I was practicing for our family Christmas program and singing along with one of the Hymns. Mom came in and said, "Your singing has greatly improved since you left." That was the solitary compliment I ever got from her.

My sudden burst of confidence came from a sweet older lady who recently informed me that I had almost been asked to perform a solo for a funeral, and that the other person who was considered (and asked) is someone who teaches voice lessons. If said voice teacher had been able to come, I most certainly would not have attempted to sing.

So I practiced, but mostly when the SM wasn't around because even HE made me nervous (he was in Men's Chorus for several years and has a great voice). The Dude and the RC really enjoyed it, and even asked for encore performances.

So I did it. I stretched my comfort zone. And I didn't fall over. And I didn't screech. And I didn't lose my place.

So I'm glad I did it.

I don't know if I'll do it again.

15 December 2006

Limited Edition DVD

~Behind the Scenes~

The Spozo Maravilloso has been working diligently on our annual photo and movie DVD. The background music for the slideshow is usually the hardest part of the project. The movies: we just pick the ones we like. The photos: we just pick the ones we like. The music: has to fit the pictures. can't be too sad or depressing. can't be too alternative. can't be too quiet. can't be too loud. can't have dynamics.

I discovered a new limitation this year: The SM declares a unilateral ban on music that sounds "too country."

The SM has been asking for suggestions of music. Since I happen to like some country-ish type music and it is not too sad or alternative or quiet, I mention them. With a scowl and rolling of eyes (which the SM will swear he Never Does), it is rejected. Forcibly.

Musical differences aside, I think it is going to be great, although I'm not sure if our parents will keep the sound on while the movie is running. (The music diverts from the traditionally classical past editions).

~Marketing Shpeel~

The limited edition Catanzaro Family 2006 DVD (sure to be a great hit with the fans of the Dude and Rosita Chiquita) will be available only through select channels starting tomorrow! Reserve yours now!

09 December 2006

the Dude turns Three!

Today was the birthday.

Unfortunately, it was also the choir practice and church Christmas Party day.

So, sandwiched in between these activities, we had a small party for the Dude. Rosita Chiquita didn't even attend (due to an unavoidable appointment with a nap). Then again, the Dude probably appreciated sole attention from his parents. Probably the best birthday present she could've given him.

He didn't blow out his own candles since we can't convince him that blowing out has no "f" in it. (We've tried, we've really tried! Any suggestions?) We've only recently convinced him that three has no "f" in it. Good thing, too, or he'd go around saying "I'm free!" and I'm sure someone would snatch him up because he's such a deal.

He ate his chocolate cake with chocolate mint frosting that he helped make. He opened presents.

He was completely satisfied.

So why do I feel vaguely guilty?

06 December 2006

Comparative Satisfaction of Old Shirts and Birthdays: A Complete Analysis

The more birthdays you have, the less exciting they are.

I don't know if it is simply because as you accumulate more of them, the less the glamour of having yet another wears off. It is all about diminishing returns.

The first triple fudge brownie sundae with mint chocolate fudge sauce is really great, but the second isn't so great. Perhaps birthdays are more like shirts. The first few are really great, but after a certain point, they're just overflowing out of the drawers and closets and littering the floor. And then you get another. Yeah.

I'm to the overflowing drawer (singular!) stage of birthday satisfaction.

Too bad you can't get rid of birthdays like you can old shirts. Then I could just make room for more and enjoy the next as much as I did my first five.

Not that I didn't enjoy my birthday. The Spozo Maravilloso exerted himself to make sure my birthday was wonderful. He spent way too much on my present (as usual), made a scrumptious carrot birthday cake with ginger orange cream cheese frosting (highly unusual), and also "helped" the Dude pick out a gift for me (a first!).

The Dude was so excited to give me a present. He made sure that I opened his present first. Seeing his excitement made me enjoy opening presents all over again (So, maybe having young kids around helps you get rid of some of those old shirt birthdays. Hey! Now I understand why grandparents conspire to have grandchildren around come Christmas day).

SM was also quite excited for me to open his present because it represented the fruit of a year-long search! (See below) The perfect gift (for me)! He determined (with consensus) that it is not only beautiful, but it also reflects my personality perfectly. He hasn't explained the specifics of why. Not that I disagree, I'm just curious.

What do you think?

02 December 2006

Chasing Cousins

Trying to catch these two is like capturing an electron in its probability cloud around an atom. (In other words, good luck!) So, just like them, what we get is an approximation of where they might be at any given time. And it's kinda blurry.

29 November 2006

Stripped Bare

The Dude is relishing his role as older (and wiser) brother. Today, he determined that Rosita Chiquita had soiled her outfit sufficiently to merit changing it. Without consulting his superior (me), he unsnapped and had successfully removed 3 of 4 limbs from the sleeper before said superior noticed what he was up to and queried his logic.

I discovered that the garment was not badly soiled at all, and determined that it was mostly for the fun of removing someone else's clothing (instead of us removing his clothing) and that it lead to a long-time favorite of his elder brotherly activities: choosing her replacement clothing. Since the RC was enjoying the process as well, I didn't protest his precipitous action.

Another activity the Dude particularly enjoys is lugging Rosita around (very short distances) by picking her up under her armpits. Under close supervision! I can imagine that having someone smaller than you that you can move around is quite thrilling when you've been moved around by people bigger than you for as long as he has.

Ah, the joys of siblinghood!

A Pain in the Rear

While in the final stages of dinner preparation yesterday, the Dude came up behind me jabbering away. I confess to parental inattention until he latched on to my leg and yelled, "Great green grabber bug monster!" (courtesy of More Bugs In Boxes) He quickly earned my whole attention when I realized he was trying to bite me! In the rear! Before I could set the spoon down, turn around and wrench him away, he succeeded.

With my most commanding mommy voice (tinged with consternation and anger), I sent him to his room. Normally, this might cause some distress, but he was downright in floods about it. As I perplexedly turned back to spooning in the last of the potato cake, trying to fathom the reason of why (besides that he was tired beyond all reason) he would bite me, I realized he was probably not trying to inflict damage.

With dinner in the oven, I went to console the still sniffling tragically Dude. After hug, a snuggle, and an explanation of how to "pretend bite" (I hope you other parents know what I'm talking about - you know the nibbling on toes or neck to incite hilarious laughter?) with NO TEETH, life was bearable again.

27 November 2006

As Christmas and Birthdays Approach

The Dude and I share the unfortunate circumstance of being born in December. I've discovered that for most people figuring out two things to get us is just too taxing in such a short (and admittedly already overshopped) season. Most luckily for me, I married someone that loves excuses to shower me with expensive frivolities, and laments that there aren't more occasions.

Since the Dude is really too young to come up with his own list... Scratch that. He probably would be perfectly able to have a list if he were more commercially savvy. Since we don't own a TV, he doesn't think he needs tons of stuff. Understand correctly: he always likes more new stuff (his favorite of the moment is almost invariably the most recent acquisition), he just doesn't have a list of things that he's been dreaming of because some marketer knew how to appeal to three-year-old boys.

Advantages: I choose the mayhem that enters my house. I don't have to harden my heart against his pleading Bambi eyes.

Disadvantages: I have to divine which things he will like. This is harder than you might think. I worry about becoming one of those parents that gets what I want to get him instead of what he really wants.

Lately, I've taken to letting him loose in the toy department and seeing what he gravitates toward. Unfortunately, it is usually something loud that eats batteries at the same rate I devour dark chocolate. Or it only comes in pink (make-believe irons, anyone?)

So I sent off a list yesterday to all concerned. And already I've thought of some things that he'd greet ecstatically come present-opening time. That I forgot.

Oh, well.

There's always next year.

21 November 2006

The Great Turkey Conspiracy

Let me get this straight: I love my grandmother.

She just doesn't get things done on time. She almost missed my parents' wedding! In recent years, we have taken to telling her family functions start 2 hours earlier than everyone else. She still shows up an hour late. So when I discovered that she was doing the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, I couldn't believe it. It would be scrumptious, but everything else would be stone-cold (and mashed potatoes & gravy are so much better warm) by the time we would be able to eat it.

I talked my mother out of making another Turkey, but suggested that some ham might be nice for variety (that way we won't be meatless). I further instigated my mother to start the Great Turkey Conspiracy. Today was recruitment day. The Uncle Bs would be happy to revolt. Uncle K may, too. Various cousins may yet join.

What, you may ask, is the aim of our Conspiracy? To have Thanksgiving dinner ON TIME, even if the Turkey isn't done yet! No waiting! Warm gravy! Hot rolls! Cold salads! Fluffy mashed potatoes that still melt butter for everyone! Join us! It is time to test our strength against the years of tyranny, oppression, and tradition!

Quite revolutionary, I know. But drastic times call for drastic measures.

I'm hoping I don't get into too much trouble for this.

16 November 2006

It is easier to die

Firstly: don't worry! I'm not suicidal!

While reading Ben Okri's The Famished Road (kinda like Shakespeare doing African Magical Realism without iambic pentameter), I found: "It is easier to die than to love."

Having never died, I guess I'm not really an expert on comparative easiness of death versus Other, but I have loved, and I find it rather difficult some days. Death is such a final act. There's no reversing it (immediately, at least), and it's a one-time deal. You die, that is it. The End.

But love, love is found in unending acts of forgiveness and sacrifice and service. There is no end to it. You can die for love, of course, in an act of ultimate sacrifice (or stupidity), but living for love, I think is even harder. Loving live people is the hardest, because their imperfections are constantly colliding with our own imperfections - hence friction!

So go out and love someone today - it might be harder than dying, but you'll enjoy living more because of it!

11 November 2006

A (revised) Hair Cut Above

It must be an indication of how bad your hair looks when your husband in desperation calls the salon to book your appointment with HIS favorite stylist.

In my defense, it is impossible to go with 2 children during the week, and weekends seem to always be taken up with things other than getting one's hair cut. But I will admit to looking a bit shaggy.

I find it ironic that usually hair stylists' hair is... well, scary. All the dying and frizzing and shortness and zany-ness that comes from having to experiment mostly upon oneself or fellow hairsytlists that take pity on you. More likely is that they agree to destroy each other's hair - a mutual destruction pact. I'm sure hair styling the only profession where destruction deals like this exist. However, the jury is still out on the correlation, if any, between zany hair and good hair stylist is positive or negative. My data point for this haircut: zany = good.

One random fact I learned: there really are tofu turkeys for vegetarians. I thought that was just a joke! Supposedly, they're good. I think I prefer my turkeys meated.

Anyways, after much trimming of hair (the usual 3 sweepings somehow unneccessary), I came home.

My husband declared the haircut "swooshy" (the highest accolade in his style vocabulary). Great praise indeed.

08 November 2006

Skinned Knees

You would think, wouldn't you, that a mother of 2 children would be past the stage in life where she got skinned knees? Well, apparently, I'm not. Alas, Alas. What's even more frustrating is that it wasn't doing anything exciting or daring. I was walking. Ok, so I was walking balancing a baby on one hip (don't worry, she's undamaged) and a diaper bag on the other shoulder while holding my son's hand. Granted, that's how we travel everywhere nowadays.

So I ripped my pants, skinned my knees and had to impose on a friend for band-aids so I wouldn't bleed all over myself until I got home. I would like to state that I am extremely grateful that we usually don't have to use alcohol to sterilize wounds. Usually. Zowie!

A note to the skinned knee crowd: Bactine is lovely to spray on (ah! no pain!) but the skinned knee (for some perfectly rational chemical reason) starts producing water in large quantities. At least, Band-aids get drenched fairly quickly.

Anyways, I got a lot of sympathy for the day. The Spozo Maravillozo lamented my wounds, but he was almost as upset about the pants. They were his favorite pair. Oh, well. I guess that means I have to search out another pair of pants. I just went through that ordeal a couple of weeks ago and had rejoiced that I wouldn't need to do it again for a long while. I guess I counted my pants before they were patched.

02 November 2006

My, What Big Teeth...

Halloween was moderately successful this year. We did another family themed year: Rosita Chiquita was Little Red Ridinghood, the Dude was the Woodsman, I was Grandma, and the Spozo Maravilloso was (supposed to be) the Big Bad Wolf. Unfortunately, our costumes were too subtle for the general populice to understand the inventiveness of it all. And noone really understood what in the heck we were doing unless we pointed out that the RC was Little RR. Sigh. Maybe if the SM had looked more wolfish it would've helped our cause.
At least we did a jack-o-lantern this year! I was at a loss to explain the SM's reluctance to carve pumpkins (I mean, who doesn't like scooping out pumkin guts, using knives to carve some gruesome (or not) image into recently living flesh, and putting a candle inside to watch the eerie orange flickerings?) UNTIL I discovered during the pumpkin slaughter that he had never done it before. I have to admit, it was dumbfounding. But who ended up lighting the candle and putting it outside and taking 16 pictures of it on all different settings to capture our Jack-o-Lantern just right? Yes, Who? Not Me.

23 October 2006

Ravel's Bolero is Erotic!

So, the spozo maravilloso has discovered the blog. And commented that I haven't done anything in awhile. Hohum. He actually discovered it a long time ago, and decided to tell me in the dark of night so I wouldn't be able to see his smug smile even though I could still feel it smugging up the air.

Last night the SM gave me leave to go to a concert with a friend. Several other friends are in said concert, so I felt it expedient that I attend. It was a free concert. And I don't want to hurt my (very musically talented) friends' feelings, but you know the saying "you get what you paid for"? Well, I recieved payment in full. Blame it on the brass section. Pretty much everyone else did "good," but the brass just sounded sour and paltry. Having a world-class violinist as your soloist makes the contrast even starker.

The one piece of the evening that I had been particularly looking forward to was Ravel's Bolero. Now, I don't know how anyone can listen to this and not feel the eroticism throbbing away, but one of said very musically talented friends expressed surprise when I pointed this out. Now she is fully converted to the idea. Unfortunately, last night's performance was devoid of the passion I expect the Bolero to be played with. Upon recalling that this was a church-organized symphony, I realize that eroticism is probably not what they were aiming for.

If you haven't listened to Bolero and have no idea what I'm talking about, then go get a copy. ....And listen to it with someone you wouldn't mind snogging with.

A note on snogging: If you don't know what this is, I pity you.

03 September 2006

Jesus is Satan's Brother

So, reading on Evangelicals for Mitt, I happened across a post that connected to this site. Here, I read about some queasiness regarding a belief that Jesus could be Satan's brother. I guess it doesn't bother me much because I think that each is an extreme example of our potential to become. We can choose to become as much as possible like Jesus, or we can choose to become like Satan.

We all have that amazing potential to become as influential as these two in the lives of the people around us. Are some people afraid of that potential? Or they just don't think that two diametrically opposed people could possibly be made from the same "stuff"? I think we've all known families where the kids - children of the same two parents - are as unlike each other as night and day. So, why not another pair of brothers? One has made ALL His choices in line with His Father's will, and the other has chosen to think that he knows a better way (basically letting his pride guide him).

Or is it that we are afraid of the power that we have in Choosing? That we, insignificant mortals, can make choices that can elevate us to the divine or thrust us down to hell. I guess that could be pretty scary to people who don't want to believe they can have consequences for their actions - or resposibility for making good choices.

Personally, I'm glad to have the choices, and I know which brother I'd like to emulate.

28 August 2006

To My Son

My downy headed creature
laying sweetly dormant
I wonder if you guess
how little I know
about you
the universe
even though I was your universe,
I gave you life,
and you are half me.
But I have learnt
the preciousness of one moment
caught in you summery green laughter
or your impish crinkly nose
and I find
I know enough.

24 August 2006

Hello, sunshine!

Well, the gold-star question of the hour is how long it will take my web-surfing spozo to discover the secret blogging life of his beloved spoza. Will he be shocked? Amused? Superlatively happy?
I don't know how frequently I can promise posts, or that they'll make sense or that you'll agree with anything I say, but I've been thinking for a while it would be fun to have some outlet for random thoughts and commentaries and inspirations and ventings that haunt me. You might have to put up with some poetry. Lots of family relationship stuff. Probably some religious musings and even occasionally a political incendiary comment or two. Maybe.