Thursday, July 31, 2014

15 minutes

**Disclaimer:  If you're someone who gets frustrated because teachers have a summer break, this post isn't for you.  As always, comments that are not nice shall be removed.**

Fifteen more minutes left of July, as I start this blog post tonight.

It's July 31st and I am not too happy about this.

14 minutes.

"The summer's flown by!"  "I can't believe how fast it's gone!"  "It feels like we just got out of school!"

Yes, yes, yes, it's all true.  July will be done and the dreaded AUGUST will be here... 13 minutes.

My husband says AUGUST is like a swear word for teachers.  And he's right.  Whenever I drop something on my foot or get a papercut, I should yell "oh AUGUST!"  It has the same effect on my emotions as real swear words do.

12 minutes.

Why am I being so dramatic about it being the last month of summer?  I love my job.  This is the truth.  I love that everyday I get to sing, play piano, direct choirs, laugh, get hugs, and be with people I adore.  Then why am I so sad about it?

11 minutes.

I have had the most fantastic time being a stay-at-home mother.  I don't want to stop my new and wonderful adventure.  Thinking about not being around my sweet boy every minute of every day makes me tear up.  And I'm tearing up right now.

10 minutes.

9 minutes.  Yes, I just sat here for an entire minute not typing anything, just thinking about work and crying a little.

I need to embrace the positives.  I need to enjoy summer while I still have it.  

8 minutes.

Like today -- today was a great day.  I woke up with Jude to feed him, and shortly after we both went back to sleep for a while.  Then the three of us went out to run some errands.

7 minutes.

After the errands were done, we came home and I made lunch while Tom played with Jude.  Someone discovered his feet this week and Daddy joined in on the fun!!!  :)

6 minutes and thinking about how much I love my men.

This afternoon I went to Borealis to meet with Elise and discuss more about the book of Luke that we have been reading for confirmation (I'm her mentor).  I also stole some quiet moments just for me.

After that, I came home to find a fussy baby and a husband who insisted I leave the fussy baby with him and go to the country club for a fun night of painting with some girlfriends.

5 minutes.

I almost didn't go to the painting party, but I'm so glad I did -- we had so much fun!

Hollie and Julie working on their masterpieces!

4 minutes.

My finished painting!!

Now I'm sitting here thinking about the massive amounts of work August will require of us (stay tuned on this) and how painful it will be to go back to school when life holds so much MORE for me to care about at home.

3 minutes.

God, please give me the strength I need to love my students and remind me of how blessed I am to be their music teacher.  Thank you for giving me a job where I get to use my talents and share what I love best with adorable little people.

2 minutes.

I'm doing a lot of sitting here without typing.

1 minute.

Well, okay then, I guess time won't stop for me.  Goodbye July.  Hello, last month of summer.

I have to say much frustration as our school district has given all of us teachers in the past few months, I think we can all agree on something.  Our summer break RULES in Mason City.   It's so much better to go long in June and go back later in August.  We don't start until the 25th.  This, my friends, is AWESOME.

Cheers to 24 more days of summer...and making a new memory each one of those days!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Throwback...Tuesday? The Sound of Music

I'm going to switch up my theme for Tuesday...I'm all sappy and I really want to have some memories today.

Just over one year ago, Tom and I were involved in one of our best projects ever: The Sound of Music.  It was last year's community musical, produced by Stebens Children's Theatre and the Mason City Foundation.  Truly a dream come true for both of us.

After we saw the Stebens/MC Foundation's production of Fiddler on the Roof a few weeks ago, I knew I'd have to write about SoM on the blog.  Fiddler was absolutely great.  The cast was perfectly chosen (this is a talent of director Tom Ballmer's) and the show was well choreographed, blocked, musically directed and accompanied.  Truly, cast, if you are reading this, so many bravos.  We LOVED it.

It made me so proud to see so many of our SoM family up on the stage.  I thought I would be sad to not be a part of it, but I couldn't be and Tom's lives are completely different now.  Actually, it was more of an "I can't imagine being on the stage right now" as I thought about little Jude at home.  It just shows that the timing of SoM was perfect.  Seriously, PERFECT!

So anyway...let's walk down memory lane a little bit.

When I found out the 2013 summer musical would be The Sound of Music, my heart did a happy dance.  There are three leading-lady roles I've always kept in my mind as "dream roles" and Maria was one of them.

I idolized Julie Andrews growing up, while learning how to sing.  I thought her voice was perfect.  I still think her voice is (was, thanks to a surgery mishap) absolute perfection.  I remember going out in my yard when I was little, probably wearing some kind of dress from my costume stash, spinning around with my arms open wide and singing "the hiiiillllls are aliiiiiiiive..."

I decided right away I'd audition and luckily, my husband was on board as well.  He and I met while performing in a show together, and we hadn't done a show since -- so I was very excited.  We auditioned at the end of May and started rehearsing immediately, for a show that would run from July 10-13 (I think...cast members, you can correct me if I'm wrong on those dates).  

I was thrilled to receive the role of Maria.  Truly honored.  

I worked very hard on that role and on the singing.  It was a total joy but pretty demanding.  People tell me that the part fit me pretty well, and that's really nice of them, but it wasn't me at all that made Maria happen--it was our director.  Tom Ballmer is the director at Stebens and he is absolutely brilliant...the BEST.  He turned me from a person reading words off the page, into an actor.  The role would have been much less if he hadn't put his expert stamp on every single line and movement that I made as Maria.  Really--none of that was me at all.  Mason City's young actors are lucky, lucky, lucky to have him here.

We had an ALL-STAR cast.  I had seven beautiful, talented kids to perform alongside, and I became smitten with each one of them.  I will always treat them like they are "my stage children" and when the show ended, I told them they'll just have to get used to getting smothered with hugs every time I see them from then on: Christy (Liesl), Tony (Friederich), Senai (Louisa), Marcus (Kurt), Chloe (Brigitta), Kylie (Marta) and Makenna (Gretl).  The kids stole the show, and they stole my heart as well.

Working hard in singing rehearsal with our musical director -- my good friend Molly, at the piano!

And our hard work paid off!

Our nuns were spectacular.  I will never forget the opening song set in the abbey...I was always seated on the stage, behind the curtain in the dark, while the nuns opened the show (different from the movie).  Their singing always relaxed my nerves and allowed me to enjoy those dark, quiet moments all alone on the stage before the curtain opened and "the hills" became alive.

The opening number might have been the most exciting part of the show for me.  There's something special about hearing the curtain open, feeling the spotlight on your face, hearing the orchestra hang on that last note, and knowing there's an audience waiting for you to sing.  I don't want to forget how that moment felt, ever.

A few more picture memories...not in order of the show:

This is my dear Reverend Mother -- Michelle Murray.  We had so much fun in this scene and I am still proud of us for holding character when we had to be all serious.

In the stage musical version, "The Lonely Goatherd" is performed in the bedroom during the thunderstorm, instead of "My Favorite Things."  This was perhaps my most favorite scene of the whole show!  The kids and I had so much fun.  This song and choreography whipped me into good shape because I had to climb all over the bed and dance while singing some pretty hard runs.

This is nearing the end when the von Trapps are escaping.  See the wires?  They were attached to those weird green bushes.  The weird green bushes were made to fly upward during the nuns' final song.  We all hated it and got Tom to change the plan.  The wires, however, stayed.

Here are some more of our cute nuns. :)

This was taken during picture night, hence my mom hanging out in the lower right corner :)

My Tom as Max Detweiler, with Brad (Captain) and Liz (Baroness Schraeder)

Brian and Christy -- Rolf and Liesl

My kids during "So Long, Farewell"

The concert scene right before the von Trapps' grand escape...

Christy and me during a dress rehearsal (pardon the grossly unfinished set!).  I loved this scene.  I love this Christy girl, too.

HAHA!!!  So, this picture cracks me up.  This was at the end of "Do Re Mi."  Yet another difference between the movie version and stage version is the ending of this song.  In the movie, Maria sings UP an octave with a grand flourish at the end.  In the stage musical, Maria sings DOWN an octave with a rather awkward and most unflattering ending.  It was going to be super embarrassing for me every night unless we made it comical, which Tom allowed us to do (thank goodness).  This picture shows me trying to hit the very low notes.  LOL.

With Marcus (Kurt).  WE LOVE THIS KID!

We had so much fun.  It was such an honor.  We would love to do this show again and again if life allowed.  Theatre is magical!  Can't wait for the next project, whenever it may be.  Maybe when Jude is old enough to be onstage with us??

Love, Betsy

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Twins+Cheese Adventures

First of all, BRAVO, MASON CITY on an amazing RAGBRAI day.  WOW!  I am prouder than ever to live here!  Tom and I walked with Jude to the downtown area where all the excitement was happening.  We were so impressed at what our town was able to pull off.  We didn't stay long and we didn't go see Bret Michaels that night, but we LOVED seeing everyone's fun pictures of their biking adventures and of the concert.  It made us want to try riding on the route next year, maybe for just a day or two.  Such an awesome tradition for our state!!

So - I told myself I would have ALL SORTS OF TIME to write on my blog after my classes were done for the summer.  Babies keep their mamas busy.  But it's okay, because I feel like summer is finally in full swing and it's very much like what I anticipated summer with a new baby to be like.  We are loving our new life as a family of three.

For Tom's birthday my parents gave him a special Twins game trip.  We both grew up going to a lot of Twins games, and we love to go together so it was a great idea.  Tom was so, so excited to take Jude to his first baseball game.  Mom and Dad joined us.  Dad even scored us tickets in the Legends Club, so we had great seats and a big air-conditioned indoor section with our own food vendors, three bars, lots of seating and more.  It was perfect for Jude's first game.

We took off on Monday around noon.  Jude was excited to have a little road trip with his monkey buddy.

Are you ready, Monkey?

We love car rides!

Okay, goodnight for a while.

Hangin with daddy at the hotel!

You're my best friend, Monkey.

Smiling with Grandma!  My mom is super gifted with children and Jude always smiles instantly when she is around.  He is SO close to finding his laugh--it'll happen any day now!

It was 90-something degrees and extremely humid.  This was during the 2 innings that Jude was actually watching the game -- he was more interested in other normal baby stuff the rest of the time.  Eating, sleeping, pooping -- all the things he's good at. 

With Mom.  :)

About these seats:  If you're planning a Twins trip with small children, Legends Club is THE WAY TO GO.  

I mean, the other sections aren't bad at all -- Target Field is loaded with amenities that make it easy for parents and kids to enjoy themselves -- but the Legends Club is basically everything you'd ever want at a baseball game plus way more, and it made it so easy to be at a game with a baby.  I can't tell you how glad I was to be so close to air conditioning, a comfortable place to eat supper (no more sitting in the stands with food on my lap), feed baby Jude (there's a nursing room.  A NURSING ROOM!!!), safely check the stroller, and I could go on and on.  If Tom and I go to a game by ourselves or with just adults, we'll be willing to sit anywhere in the stadium, but if Jude is with us, I'll pay the extra bucks to sit in LC.  This time, we were with my Dad so it was free -- he used to work for the Twins and he's still got lots of connections -- but I'd be willing to pay the price any other time!

We had a great time at the game.  The worst part of the evening was on the walk home, when an ambulance started its siren right next to where we were walking.  I've never seen my baby son so scared.  I don't know who was more traumatized, Jude or me.  My husband was the only levelheaded one and ushered us quickly over to the corner so we could get Jude out of his stroller.  I cuddled him the remaining 9 blocks back to the hotel and vowed to buy him some noise-cancelling headphones if we were to visit a big city again.

Our little man was WIPED OUT by the time we got back to the room.  He'd only taken about a 45-minute nap all afternoon, so he crashed, and slept hard.

I actually had to wake him up to eat the next morning at 7:45!  Good boy!

I'm glad Jude is a happy morning baby.  It makes my mornings happier too.

We debated stopping at the MOA or IKEA when we left town, but the thought of home was much more appealing.  That is, until Tom saw his favorite billboard on I35...

Each time we've driven home from the cities, as we've passed the Faribault exits, Tom has talked about how he wants to visit the Cheese Cave.  We both decided it must be a cheese novelty shop, like the ones everywhere in Wisconsin -- a weird little convenience store style place where you can buy cheese curds and postcards and t-shirts like this:

I was sitting in the back with sleepy Jude when Tom said "Wanna go to the Cheese Cave?" and I said "Sure."  So we pulled off and headed into Faribault!  I congratulated Tom for being spontaneous!  I hardly ever see spontaneity from him...he prefers structure and clarity.  This was an exciting move for him and I loved it!

We walked in and I was immediately taken with all the delicious gourmet foods sitting on the shelves.  And the beautiful decor.  And the impressive wine list.  And....EVERYTHING...I was in love with this place!  Definitely NOT what we were expecting.

They had an olive oil and balsamic vinegar fill-up station.  Um... HELLO, LOVER.  If we lived here I would utilize this weekly.

 This was in the next room over...just a space with some tables.  We sat in here.  It felt like we were in a cute little alley.

The menu was impressive...artisan pizza, sandwiches, beautiful salads...everything was unique and fresh.

We ordered drinks (stout for him, New Age for me) and one of the cheese plates.  We were given THIS beautiful thing:

I almost fell over when it came to our table.  OH FOR HEAVENS SAKE IT WAS SO GOOD.  Assorted olives, candied pecans, dried cranberries, dark and milk chocolate, salami, baguette, and three cheeses--St. Mary's grassfed Gouda, Fini sharp cheddar, and the Cheese Cave's select Gouda.  

We had such a good time talking, eating, and relaxing.  Jude got to stretch and wiggle and kick on his floor blanket and we just sat and enjoyed every minute.

We will most certainly visit this place again.

Now I must think about sleep.  And hopefully experience it soon.  We get to go to my sister and brother-in-law's tomorrow for a fun weekend!  I can't wait!

Love, Betsy