Sunday, June 23, 2013

We Were On Vacation

Ever notice how it takes weeks to prepare for a vacation, a few precious days to enjoy it, and then several more weeks to recover from it?  Does that happen to you?  It happens to us every time.  Getting ready to go is always so much work.  This time, I swear I have never been so crazy and anxious about a trip as I was about this one.  There was just so much to get ready for it, and Spiff was mostly unable to help with the prep, and it's so hard to accomplish anything with the kids running around.  Stress.  In the middle of all of that, I swore to myself that we would never go anywhere else ever again.

But then we go, and it is always worth it.  It is wonderful and relaxing and fun and we wish we could stay on vacation forever.

That's how this most recent vacation was for us.  Pure awesome.

We went to Camp, which for the uninitiated is the cabin in the upper peninsula of Michigan that belongs to Spiff family.  It's on a lake, and it's beautiful.

Here's an old picture.  Isn't it lovely?!
It was just off of this shore that we saw a Bald Eagle swoop down right in front of us and catch a fish out of the water.  Amazing sight!

We met some friends up at the lake and spent the week camping with them.  This included the kids falling in love with "special" sticks and exploring the woods, throwing things into the water, boating around the lake in the canoe, kayak and row boat (the boats were Hobbes's favorite), swimming in the lake (those were Gunner's favorite), games, catching dragon flies, fishing, and a day trip to Lake Superior.  It was fabulous to see our friends.  I can't describe how nice it was.  I love them.  Gunner was so happy to be there with them that he exclaimed multiple times that Camp is the Best Place on Earth.

The one big downside of the trip this year was that we went early in the season, which meant BUGS!!!  There were so. many. mosquitoes!  It was so bad that we couldn't spend a whole lot of time outside.  We sprayed everyone down with bug spray, but that only works to a small degree against the vast quantity of blood suckers flying around.  The first day, Gunner had about 40 bites on his hairline.  Ugh.
It made us very grateful for the screened-in porches.  We spent a lot of time in these.

And for good measure, here are few of pictures of the cabins:
Main Cabin (this is the kitchen which is fully equipped with propane range/oven, fridge and lights.)

This is the guest cabin.

Inside the Guest Cabin.  I love this room!

 Another view of the guest cabin.  Isn't it pretty?!

So that was our 2013 Summer Vacation.  We all can't wait to go back next year.  Now we're looking at another new year of Spiff's residency.  His PGY2 year kicks off this coming weekend as he starts his month in the ICU, which code for "Really Busy" and "He'll be like an Intern again" and "We won't see him all month."  I'm so glad we got away when we had the chance.  And please wish us luck on this coming new year.

Friday, June 21, 2013

MoTab and Me in Mpls

I was invited at the last minute to attend a concert of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's 2013 Midwestern Tour, which ended yesterday.  The last time I saw them perform live was during their 2001 tour of the Pacific Northwest.  They stopped by for a performance in Pocatello, ID where I was a music undergrad at Idaho State University.  The choir invited the ISU Choirs to perform the last two numbers on the program with them.  (I think we sang their usual "enders" Come Thou Fount and the Battle Hymn.)  It was an incredible concert, of course, and I have always felt very grateful to have had the chance to sing with MoTab.

So, when I was invited to go yesterday, I jumped at the chance.  I arranged babysitting (Thanks, Maggie and Spiff!), and took the afternoon and evening off from being a Mommy to resume my previous occupation as a musician.  It felt like coming home.  I am such an inactive musician these days that this really felt like something from a previous life.  But there I was in the audience with my music hat on, analyzing the program line-up, looking forward to certain favorite composers, arrangers or styles, and reveling in every last perfect note.  So fun!

And seriously, what an amazing group, all singers and instrumentalists.  I am always impressed by Motab's flawless diction.  We, as the audience, can understand every word they sing, which is no small feat for a choir of over 300 members.  I also remembered about all the things that make a choir experience wonderful--the phrasing, the subtle dynamics, technical expertise, the sheer volume they produce, etc.  And I felt quite sad that I will never be able to bring those kinds of experiences to my little ward choir because we just don't have the time to work on anything but note-learning.  Sigh.

Here is my critique of the program (if I can be allowed to critique MoTab):  They sang a fabulous "Music of the Master's" section, which included three numbers by Dvorak, Gretchaninov and Rossini. The judgy-musician-snob in me was severely disappointed when they didn't perform their Gretchaninov number in Russian.  They sang it in English in an effort to be approachable to the public.  I wanted authenticity!  I adore the rich depth of Russian choral music, and singing it in English deleted an entire layer of richness and intensity.  It took me half of the concert to get over that one.

They did a couple of Spirituals, which included a solo appearance from Alex Boy√©.  Had it not been for his awesomeness, I'm afraid that I'd have to give a thumbs-down to MoTab singing Spirituals.  Technically, they are perfect; it sounds so good.  But they lack the proper spirit.  It's hard for me to get on board with the idea of all the middle-aged white Mormon men and women, singing popsicle straight to the lyrics of "Rock-a-My Soul."  It should be sung like this.

I was also slightly bored through a lengthy section of highlights from Musicals (White Christmas, State Fair, Fiddler, The Music Man).  I easily lost my interest in those popular and sing-songy songs, especially after they had highlighted their incredible versatility with many more technically difficult and interesting numbers.  Again in the effort to be pleasing to the public, I feel that it was a cop-out.  A beautiful, pleasing, enjoyable cop-out.

The absolute highlight of the whole experience for me was...(drum roll, please)...meeting the principle organist, Richard Elliot!  My friend who took me is old friends of Elliot and his wife.  We met up with them and ate dinner together before the concert!  They are both talented musicians (both studied at Eastman!!!), and I have always been in awe of anyone who can handle playing that 5-manual pipe organ at the Conference Center, and he does it so beautifully.  Oh, and he's super nice, too.  There is probably not a nicer man anywhere.  Who knew that famous musicians could be geniuses and nice?!  My grad school prof didn't get that memo.

Here is an unheard of picture of me on the ol' blog.  I'm so excited to meet him!!!
I am Star Struck.

So, that was my one-day vacation from motherhood.  I returned to a part of myself that I love, thoroughly enjoying and appreciating every moment of my freedom.  Then today, I dove head-first right back into my mommy job.  I babysat a 2-year-old girl all day.  Between Hobbes and her taking off all their clothes (I'm Nakie!), running in separate directions, and spending long and frequent moments in the potty (potty training toddlers!!!), let's just say that it was a long day, and I am very grateful for my little impromptu vacation yesterday.

I heart great music.  Soul rejuvenated.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

In the Merry Merry Month of May

It's June 4th, and I'm wondering how that happened.  May flew by in a blur at our house.  Spiff worked so so so much all month long (I counted 91 hours one week!), and each of us in the family took turns being sick all month long.  First it was the boys, then me, then Spiff ended the month working his long hours, being miserably sick with a horrible cold.

Allow me to take a moment to reminisce on my illness.  It is my blog, after all, so if I want a moment, I'll take one, and I guess you all get to bear with me.  Or just tune out.  Either way is fine with me.  Anyhoo, Spiff thinks that I have Mono.  I haven't been to the doctor for a formal diagnosis, but I believe Spiff.  He's not one to over-diagnose, and he had it while he was in college, so I believe him.  He has told me that when he had it, he had never been so tired in his life.  He remembers coming home to his dorm room and crashing on the floor for hours to try to catch up on his sleep.

That's all I ever knew about Mono, that it makes people really really tired.  I have been tired during all of this, but honestly it doesn't feel all that different from my normal "I have two small kids, so I'm tired all the time" normal tired.  However, I did not know about the sore throat.  How did I not know about that?!  It is the sore throat that is killing me.  The first few days were so miserable, especially at night when I would wake up not being able to swallow, with pain up in my ears.  And it has lingered.  I'm on week four, and it hasn't gone away.  Gah!  I really hope that it's true that people can only ever have mono once.

Anyway, between all the sick, Spiff's cold, the May 2 snow storm, and the lingering chilly weather, it's been a strange time for us.  But we're getting ready for Spiff's vacation week next week, and our big Summer camping trip.  I do realize that it's not actually Summer yet, and that we are all expecting to be camping with lows in the 30s at night.  But we're so very excited to get out of town and be on vacation!  We are counting down the "Sleeps" until we leave.

Now if only I could wave my magic wand and have all of my errands, shopping, packing and cleaning done for the trip, that would really make me happy.  This is only the eleventy billionth time I have wished I weren't a Muggle.