Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Merry!

Tonight we had Christmas at the Dunlaps - and much merriment ensued. Also some angst, a few tears, a toothache and far too much consumption of sweets. All in all, a good party. We did our annual White Elephant gift exchange - and Scooby ended up choosing one of the gifts I'd brought, much to his chagrin and everyone else's amusement. Tarzan got a 2 foot bottle of vinegar and peppers shaped like the Eiffel Tower, and a birdhouse kit. Cinderella was my designated helper, and she picked out a bag for holding stuff in the car - quite a sophisticated choice, if I do say so myself.
Tomorrow we pack feverishly while the kids enjoy their school Christmas parties, and then head off to Mass. - all in one go if the DVD player and weather both cooperate. I don't anticipate much posting while we're gone, since most of the people who read this will be in Mass. with me, so while we're away, let me wish everyone a Merry Christmas, a better 2009 than 2008 turned out to be, and a few moments of peace amongst the parties.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Acceptance Number One

VCU in Richmond sent me an acceptance letter today! Yay!
But I won't find out about other schools until March....hm.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Betty



This is my god-daughter, Amanda. The last time I saw her was 5 or 6 years ago, when I think she was just starting high school. She told me she was changing her name to Betty. I guess she meant it! I found her recently on Facebook. This is a self-portrait she took recently. Although she looks nothing like her mother, who was my best friend in high school, the sadness on her face reminds me of her.

In addition:
I posted this really quickly this morning, and I forgot to say that I LOVE this picture. I think it's beautiful, and I plan on printing it and hanging it up somewhere. Nice job, Betty!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Recording my immediate first impressions - one week later

Yeah, so I took this little side trip after Thanksgiving down to Virginia to visit two of the grad schools that I applied to, Virginia Commonwealth University (hereafter to be referred to as VCU) and Regent University. As I was driving back, I kept thinking, "I must record my impressions right away, so I don't forget and all that valuable gut feeling stuff won't be lost!" (That, and "Boy, I'm really glad we have this satellite radio so I can listen to three straight days of NPR!") So then life happened, and here we are a week later, which isn't exactly immediately, but still isn't too terrible in the scheme of things.
I went to VCU first, as Richmond is closer to DC than Virginia Beach is, so it made a kind of logical sense. And I have to say, I was quite pleasantly surprised by Richmond. I was expecting a big, dirty city and at least the part that I was in was quite quaint and pleasant. The campus area is much like the University of Pittsburgh, with campus buildings interspersed among townhouses, apartment buildings, cafes, and small storefronts. It's a pretty, pleasant area to walk, and the parking garage only cost $5.00 for the whole day. And students are only $3.50! (At Pitt, it's more like $5.00 per hour)The arts building is medium sized, and a little shabby, which is what I've come to expect from arts buildings in general - they get a lot more hard use than lecture rooms. The people were very nice, very helpful, willing to answer all my questions. They did not audition me, although the website called it an interview/audition, and apparently the reason they did not is because there really isn't any performance quotient to the program. It's a theater pedagogy program, and it focuses pretty exclusively on teaching. In fact, many of the grad students TA the first semester and have their own classes by the second. The pro side of that is, it's great experience, and it looks great on your resume. They are very focused on post-school preparation - helping you build up your resume, write a good CV, publish articles, etc. The con side is, I'm not sure how much I'd actually LEARN, besides what I already know, about different aspects of theater. Granted, I have a good background, but there's still a lot I don't know, and part of the reason I want to go back to school is to fill in some of the gaps. Financial aid seems pretty random and kind of "do it yourself". You have to scramble for assistantships, on campus work, etc. and don't find out until very last minute what aid you've received, if any. The curriculum is quite loosely structured, allowing a lot of flexibility in designing your own program. The cost of living in Richmond seems to be even lower than Pittsburgh, although finding a good school district in an area we can afford to live in will be a challenge.
The next day I went on to Virginia Beach. (After an overnight stay in Williamsburg with my first best friend, Laura. We had a great time reminiscing about what dorks we were as kids!) My first impressions of Regent weren't all that great, but for kind of strange reasons. The campus is pretty small, and very self contained. It's set off the main drag and it really feels like you're entering your own little world when you go into it. The buildings and grounds are all beautiful and perfectly maintained. There was a swan pond, complete with swan, and a pasture with several lovely horses. There were, however, hardly any people walking around on the campus, and it had almost a Camazotz feeling to it. (Referencing "A Wrinkle in Time" - the planet where everyone is exactly the same, because they are all part of the great MIND of IT") However, it was right after Thanksgiving break, and it was COLD. So I'm assuming the people were all inside. Once I got over the strangeness of how nice everything was, I began to enjoy and appreciate it. The Arts building is HUGE and lovely - marble tiles, crystal chandeliers, hand-painted Chinese silk tapestries. Again, the people were very charming and helpful. I did have an audition, and I think it went very well. I wasn't nervous, and I did good work, so regardless of the outcome, I feel good about that part. The program is very different from VCU. It is an Acting MFA, with an option to add a Directing emphasis. It's highly structured, and pretty time-intensive. Much more like CMU. The con side is, there's little to no focus on post-grad preparation, like there is at VCU, and it doesn't seem that there would be opportunity for teaching, since the program is so intensive. However, on the pro side, I'd learn tons of stuff that I don't already know, and would really like to. Voice and Speech training, Stage Combat certification, and many performance opportunities, which also look good on resumes. The financial aid is spotty here too - there are several University and College scholarships to apply for, but nothing is guaranteed. Virginia Beach itself seemed like kind of a hard place to get around, compared to Richmond. It's definitely a driving community. Of course, there is the actual beach to factor in. Which I'm sure will be even more pleasant when the winds aren't blowing at 20mph.
So, in summary, I liked both programs, and both places, but they are very different. I think ultimately both would get me to my goals, but they are very different approaches.
The next step is the audition week which includes Yale, Brown, and the URTAs which comes up at the end of January. Then, it will be wait-and-see time.
So that's the latest school info.
Personal stuff will have to wait for now. I need coffee.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

What Scooby's throat was thinking...

Hm. It's been awfully quiet in here lately. Sort of light pinkish and damp - everything functioning the way it should. Painless swallowing. Loud shouting - no problem. Constant obnoxious noises - no problem. Ho hum. Kind of boring like this. What? Thanksgiving is coming up? That holiday where we see two different sets of relatives in 48 hours? Small suceptible children, and single adults who have a compromised immune system due to their lack of exposure to small suceptible children? Those relatives who've already said, "Hey, ha ha, those kids of yours aren't sick are they? Ha ha? They won't be infecting the entire family with that bug that lasts until New Years will they? HA HA????"
Hm.
Maybe I should gunk things up for awhile. Turn red. Make swallowing painful. Make kid grouchy. Oh, and make sure he sleeps in his brother's bed the night before to maximize potential germ sharing.
Bwah -hah - hah!!! (Evil laugh)
Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Twenty Dollars

I dragged a huge shopping bag and box full of books to Half-Price Books today, and they gave me $20 for them all. Eh. At least I cleaned off some space on my bookshelves - and I decided to consider it a $20 gift card and promptly spent it right back. Snow today, supposed to snow tomorrow. Hopefully it will clear up a little during our drive time this weekend. I'm looking forward to this trip to DC/Virginia, but I'm kind of nervous too. So many things can happen on road trips, and this is the first time that Don will be traveling back alone with the kids. I do it all the time, but it's new for him. Hopefully the DVD players will be working and it will be an uneventful drive.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Shhh

I had a horrible drive to my show last night - Friday night rush hour traffic through Pittsburgh, with the rumors of snow making everyone have to be out, in their cars, right now, going the same way I needed to go, REALLY slowly. I showed up 45 minutes past call-time, but still in time to do the pre-show mingle. Stressful.
When I got home, I learned Scooby had a bad headache and needed me to snuggle him. I did, and our pre-midnight quiet time was actually quite lovely. No rushing to finish homework, practice violin, get to the dentist, get ready for bed, finish that dinner, brush your teeth, try to listen to three urgent conversations at once. Just quiet attention, and little shared intimacies. He regressed a little in his speech patterns, as his sleepy eyes closed and his sweaty hand clutched my sleeve. This morning there were remnants of my show makeup on his PJs.
Cinderella crawled into our bed this morning and turned on the TV. A couple of minutes later she gave a little squeak, and said, "I lost my tooth!" This is the front tooth that's been hanging on by a wish and a prayer for about a week, and it was suddenly just missing! I asked her where it was and she shrugged nonchalantly and said, "I must have swallowed it." However, upon inspection of her bed, it was lying there in the middle of the sheet, like a tiny seashell washed up on shore. She and Tarzan now have matching jack-o-lantern grins.
I'm trying to motivate myself to get off the computer and get on the treadmill. And I guess I should call Starbucks today about my application. And I have another show tonight. It's an hour away, but I'll give myself two to avoid the stress.
The kids are filling their minds with junk via the computer and TV, but it's been a super-busy week (auditions at QV, dentist appointments, Awana club, Mexican fiesta at school) and they need down time. Later I'll make them practice violin and piano, and read their school assignments, and finish their dinner, and brush their teeth, and listen to their urgent conversations. But right now, I'm sipping my coffee and enjoying the quiet.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Haul out the holly...

So I went to the opening of the new L.L. Bean store at Ross Park Mall today, because the first 500 people in line were going to get a gift card "valued between $25 and $500". By the time I got there, there were about 1000 people in line - no exaggeration. It was triple deep and curved around like Disneyworld, only without the fun ride at the end and about 70 degrees colder. But did I give up? No, I did not. I waited in this line, in 20 degree temperatures and yes, snow, for 1 1/2 hours. And were there any gift cards left when I got to the front? No, there were not. There was also no room to walk around the store once it was full of 1,000 people. So, I left. But then I went to my friend Michelle's house and scored a pink fuzzy body pillow and pink bedspread for Cinderella, a box of Tinkerbell and friends fairies, half a dozen Scooby DVD's and almost brand-new bikes for Scooby and Tarzan. Tarzan's is the Bumblebee Transformer bike and weighs about 100 pounds. Miraculously I fit it all in my sleigh, (oops, I mean minivan) and got it all home. Now...where to store it until Christmas???
I have two "Rudolph the Dead-Nosed Reindeer" shows this weekend, so it truly is beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I guess I should explain that I didn't actually post the wish lists as suggestions for what people should buy my children, because that would mess up the carefully arranged divvying up of suggestions amongst different sides of the family, besides being entirely crass. I merely posted them because I got a kick out of the wording and such. I haven't posted Scooby's because all he's given me is a list of Webkinz. If they actually got all the Webkinz they asked for, we'd have to rent a storage unit. Tarzan continues to add to his diligently, and has even included a couple of illustrations for Santa's benefit. When told that some of his choices were kind of on the expensive side, he informed me that Santa's got enough money, so I shouldn't worry about it. Well thank goodness for that.
Speaking of money, I dropped off an application to Starbucks on Saturday, requesting the opening shift. Which, in case you are curious, starts at 5:00am. I haven't heard anything from them yet, which could be due to the fact that I attached a list of all the dates I can't work because I'm out of town or already working one of my other jobs. Do I want to get up at 4:00am and go to work in the dark? NO. However, I've had 5 shows cancelled in the past 3 weeks, and have shelled out about $500 in college application fees, and we're in a dark, dark place right now. It's cold out here. And there are wolves. (Little Simpsons reference there)
Anyway, on the good news side, my ex-college prof finally wrote letters of rec. to Yale and Brown, after much nagging on my part. I felt the need to nag, as she missed the deadline for the extremely complicated and hoop-jumping filled fellowship application that I was working on earlier in the fall, and blew my chances for being considered at all. After I'd supplied an official transcript, official MAT scores, 5 essays, and 3 other letters of recommendation, both online and hard copies. I could have spit, I was so mad. But I had to keep being nice, since she hadn't written the other ones yet. But now they're done. Hopefully she didn't take out any annoyance with my persistent reminders in the letters.
Today I spent about 4 hours doing crafts for the school holiday shop. I volunteered back in Sept. and they have to be in by Thursday, so of course I didn't start until today. I painted some picture frames, a couple of trinket boxes, and some refridgerator magnet clips. It's not a lot, but it's all they're getting. They turned out pretty cute, I think. If I can find the camera, I'll post some pictures. I've also been making real progress on Cinderella's stocking. There's a distict possibility that it might be finished by Christmas!
This afternoon we have call-back auditions for Quaker Valley's show. We're doing Beauty and the Beast this year, which should be fun. Hopefully the kids will behave at the auditions. Then we're supposed to go to a bible study, but I'm blowing it off again. I've decided it's just too far to drive 45 minutes each way for an hour long meeting. I've felt an obligation to try to keep going, but when I find myself dreading it days in advance, it's time to drop out.
Off to grab a quick shower before the bus gets here!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cinderella's Christmas Wish List

Money machine that gives real money (actually, no, mommy, I'll make that myself out of paper so never mind)
My own Scooby phone, but not a real one
Barbie dollhouse
Hair Clips and Bows
Snowman Webkinz
Seal Webkinz
Charcoal cat Webkinz
Beagle Webkinz
Love Puppy Webkinz
Hairbow - pink
Tinkerbell movie
Pants that say angel on them

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tarzan's Christmas Wish List

Webknz and Lil'Kinz:
8. Cocoa Dinosaur
3. Eagle
2. Orca
4. Parakeet
1. Snowman
5. Blue Trigger Fish
6. White Mouse
9. Seal
7. Hummingbird
10. Cardinal

Random Toys or Stuffed animals
hot wheels Games (more)
Chineese Checkers
(1) World Rcord Book
my own gumball machine
IndIana Jones Set (with an Indiana Jones guy)
Junie B. Jones is a beauty shop guy
Junie B. Jones is (Almost) a flower girl
pogo stick

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

So just write anything...

What I should be doing: Putting dishes in the dishwasher, running on the treadmill (stupid cold weather), working on Cinderella's Christmas stocking (I'm determined to finish it this year! Baby's 1st Christmas 1999 has played its course), folding laundry, dusting. What I'm actually doing: reading blog posts. And feeling guilty about not updating mine.
Not much going on here. The kids all had really good teacher conferences and report cards. They're doing great in school (as Don says - So far...) He keeps waiting for them to hate school as much as he did. Even Cinderella's doing well - although the day after her great conference she came home with a "yellow card" for pushing somebody in line.
I had another training today at the medical school for NPEs or Normal Physical Exams. I learned how to take a blood pressure, how to use an oto/opthalmascope (not sure about that spelling), how to percuss a liver, check for chest expansion, use the reflex hammer, all sorts of fun stuff. So when I go for the exams in December, I can actually instruct the med students on their technique. Things we don't have to do are: invert the eyelids during the eye exam, check the gag reflex, and breast, pelvic and rectal exams. Thank heavens. No teeth scaling either. I'll practice on the kids this week, and next week I'll get tested for my certification. (I'm just certified to actually be examined, not examine other people)
We had another show get cancelled for this upcoming weekend. The economy sucks in all kinds of ways.
My life isn't terribly exciting right now, sorry!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Briefly...

I ran my first 5K yesterday, in the rain. Was WAY at the back of the pack, because I didn't want to get run over. My goals were 1) to finish, and 2) to make it all the way without walking. Well, I did finish, but had to walk up two hills. It was really hilly, and kind of hard to breathe through all the rain. I finished in 34 minutes, 59 seconds, which is pretty pathetic, but I think I can beat it next time. (Yes, next time...bwah, hah ha!) I got a nice shirt out of it, too.
Check out Scooby's blog (link on the left - Pittsburgh Pirates) as he added a short update today. Also, Tarzan decided he wanted to start one too. So check out Timmy-Webkinz. He typed the whole entry himself, with only a little help in spelling.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Narcissism...thy name is headshot

Please vote for your favorite:

1.

2.

3.

4.


Comments are welcome, but be kind. We elderly get our feelings hurt easily.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Our Halloween friends

Courtesy of Uncle J and Aunt Melissa. Here they are before their individualized haircuts. The vampire is Scooby's, the Spider Tarzan's, and the bat Cinderella's.

And here they are after the haircuts.

I especially like Tarzan's mowhawk. Cinderella got a little scissor happy, but they grow fast.
Thanks Melissa and J!

Friday, October 17, 2008

So help me out here!

See what happens when none of you comment on my posts? I get random spam emails about the inner workings of my neurons. At least I'm assuming it's spam and not the earnestly shared yet strangely remote musings of an unidentified reader.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Strange and Stressful

That's how my day's been so far.
Last night I went for a late run - the kids were home from school all day, so I had to wait until Don came home, and ate dinner, etc. I headed out about 7:10, and caught the tail end of a gorgeous fiery sunset. I decided to head up the windy hill to see if I could catch more of it from the top, but it was pretty much gone by the time I got there. However, I got to watch the moonrise on the other side. It was a beautiful night - cool, but still with a breath of warmth from the day. But it was getting kind of dark, and there aren't many streetlamps up there. See where this is going? A car came, so I moved onto the shoulder, stumbled, and twisted my ankle. It wasn't too bad, and I ran home on it, then iced it and put it up for the rest of the night. It's not too bad today, just a constant reminder why I should only run in the daytime.
I met with my ex-CMU professor again today. She coached me through my monologue a little bit, and then we talked some more about different programs. I think I did okay - she said the monologues definitely need work, but didn't say that I totally sucked and shouldn't even bother auditioning. She stressed how hard Yale and Brown are to get into, and I agreed, but said my philosophy is they're even harder to get into if you don't apply. She said CMU auditions about 1000 for their 20 spots in the undergrad program. Yale auditions about 3000 for 10 spots. No pressure. She also gave me the name and email address of one of the other acting teachers and said she might be willing to help coach me some more, and that she'd do it herself, but didn't have the time. So I'll see if this other person is willing to help me out. I got a lot out of just the five minutes she gave me.
Then I came home and got a delivery from UPS. It was the fellowship application that I mailed two weeks ago, and it was returned saying the recipient, the U.S.Dept. of Education, had moved and the address was bad. I flipped out, as this fellowship was a HUGE pain in the ass to apply for, and they are stringent about the application deadline, which was Oct. 3rd. Fortunately, after I calmed down and contacted them, they said that many people have had this problem. In fact, here's their quote, "What we have learned is that both FedEx and UPS have been informed numerous times of the address change, and there is a sign up at the old address redirecting deliveries to the correct address (there are no staff present at the old address; it is closed). However, it seems that in some cases FedEx and UPS drivers have not followed the instructions on the sign or instructions from their managers, and have instead returned packages to the senders, simply noting that the address was "bad." As a result, several applicants have been forced to ship their applications again, after the deadline, with the documentation inside demonstrating that the original package ship date was in compliance with our deadline date of October 3rd. Your message indicates that your package was returned to you from UPS. You will not be penalized as long as the documentation inside demonstrates the original package ship date as compliant with the deadline date of October 3rd." So it's the stupid UPS drivers fault - not their own for not bothering to change the shipping information on their website.
So anyway, I'll reship it tomorrow. I'll see if I can get UPS to do it for free this time.
Oh, and it looks like I won't be applying to UMAss, because they won't waive their stupid GRE requirement, and I'm not taking a $150 test for one application.
AND, Pitt responded and said they're happy with the two MFA students they have, thank you very much, but try again in 2010.
Gotta love this process, right?

Friday, October 10, 2008

October Blue


The house is never so quiet as when I close the door behind them after they get on the bus.
I had a long involved dream last night about being in a car crash - a silver Camero in the other lane rear-ended a red sports car which crossed the median and crashed into my car. I spun around and was thrown from the car into the street, where I lay semi-conscious for several minutes. These details are very clear. After that it gets fuzzier. A policeman came and was more interested in investigating the contents of the car's trunk than in helping me off the street. There was a roll of money in the trunk - a couple thousand dollars, and nothing more. I insisted I didn't know where it had come from, and it was my husband's car, but he certainly didn't keep wads of money lying around in the trunk. Then I had to follow the police car in my own car, and suddenly we were in a bad snowstorm and I couldn't drive or even see. I was still feeling shaky from being in the crash. Then there was something about being in a restaurant that a friend owned, and lots of people were coming in, and they didn't have enough food. I was dressed up in my Bride of Frankenstein outfit. And somehow I had to call Don and tell him I couldn't meet him because of the snowstorm, and also because I was going to leave him for the policeman.
For some reason, I'm feeling tired and headachey this morning.
I'll post this now, but I plan on trying to take some pictures of the sky later. There is just something about October that brings out the most incredible blue skies and color contrasts with the leaves. I remember distinctly that last year, on my birthday, I had just discovered the walking route that took me up to the top of the hills by the beautiful meadows. I remember looking at the sky and breathing the air, and feeling really happy.
This year, for some reason, I'm feeling blue. Overwhelmed, tired. I spent my birthday feeling old and dull and stupid. And fat. I've been trying to walk or run almost everyday, but I'm not making any progress.
It's frigging ridiculous how time consuming this application process is. If I had a full time job, I'd never be able to do it. I've spent at LEAST 20 hours this week alone on essay questions, ordering transcripts, requesting letters of recommendation, and filling out forms. And I'm not done yet!!!! And then I think about how small the chances are that I'll actually get into these programs, and it feels like a total waste of time. Of course, the chances are smaller if I don't apply, so there you are.
I'm applying to Brown's MFA Acting and MFA Directing programs, Yale's MFA Acting program (aim for the sky), Boston University's MFA Directing and MFA Theater Education programs, Regent's MFA Acting program, CMU's MFA directing program, UMass's MFA Directing program (if I can get around the GRE requirement), and possibly Virginia Commonwealth's and Savannah College of Art and Design's MFA Acting programs. In addition to two national Fellowship programs, and the National Resident Theater Acting and Directing Auditions. AND I contacted Pitt and let them know that I'm still interested, and still available, should they feel a sudden burning desire to fill another spot.
Today, I need to go buy some underwear and running bras. And write three more essays.
I will drive carefully.

Friday, October 03, 2008

How I understand the economy

Here's some writing about the economy that I can understand. No, I didn't write it, but it sure resonates with me!
http://www.breedemandweep.com/?p=439

I watched the debate last night. Can't say I was overly impressed with either candidate, but Palin made me laugh ("Say it ain't so, Joe!) and even if she's not necessarily VP material, I'd love to hang out with her. Maybe we could carpool our kids to hockey. Oh, wait. My kids aren't ever going to be allowed to play hockey. Oh well, there goes that brush with fame.
In other news, I'm LOVING our new DVR. It's totally going to spoil me. We only have it for a year (great sign-up deal)and I don't know how we'll ever go back!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Update

Last night, my friend Deb took me to see Wicked at the Benedum in Pittsburgh. We went out to dinner first at the Sewickley Cafe - I had Tuscan chicken with portabello mushrooms, artichokes, and red peppers, roasted potatoes with goat cheese, and asparagus. It was incredibly grown-up - no chicken fingers in sight! Of course, dinner for one cost as much as all five of us going out together to the places we usually go, but it was quite yummy. We drove downtown for the show, and it was WONDERFUL! I've seen a couple of touring shows at the Benedum - Les Mis, Grease, Spamalot...but I have to say, this show exceeded all my expectations. I'm not a bandwagon-hopper, and normally if a show gets too popular I run the other way, but all the hype around this one is justified. I've liked the original cast recording ever since I first heard it, and I've always loved Kristen Chenowith (the original Galinda) so I thought that whoever I saw in the touring company couldn't possibly measure up. But Katie Rose Clarke was awesome. She had the "Legally Blonde" perky cuteness, the voice of an angel, AND the hilarious physical comedy of a Gilda Radner/Mary Catherine Gallagher type comedic actress. I laughed so hard during "Popular" that I almost peed myself. And Carmen Cusack as Elphaba was great too. She had the power for the big belt numbers, the vulnerability for the small moments of self-confession, and a dry wit with perfect comic timing that set off Katie Rose Clarke terrifically. QUITE an enjoyable evening.

Don signed us up for Verizon FIOS service - he found a deal that was actually cheaper than the Comcast Basic that we had before. So now we have all these channels, and DVR, but noone knows how to use them yet.

The kids were very excited Monday to see the Season 3 Premiere of FETCH! We had a little Premiere party in the living room. Yesterday the FIOS guy was still here though, and they missed day 2.

Last week I met with my freshman year acting teacher from CMU to talk about MFA programs. It was a little awkward at first (it's been 20 years since she had me in class! Holy crap!) but she was very gracious, and we had a good talk. She invited me to come back and do my audition peices for her, and she would coach me. Which is a damn good offer from the head of the acting program at CMU! So I was supposed to go back yesterday, but she got sick and had to cancel. Hopefully we'll be able to reschedule soon.

Murder in the Cathedral is done - we had great audiences and got positive feedback from everyone. It was sure a difficult play, and I dont' really have any desire to do it again, but it was good experience and seems to have been well received.

Now it's prime Murder Mystery season. We've got our two big Halloween shows, MacDeath and Murder at the Drac Shack, and then the two big Christmas shows, Rudolph the Dead-Nosed Reindeer and Death on the Air. That will keep me pretty busy up through December.

School open house is tomorrow night - I'll get a chance to talk with Tarzan and Cinderella's teachers and finally meet Scooby's. They seem like they're all doing really well. Tarzan is reading up a storm - I think he's a better reader than even Scooby was in first grade, and Scooby was pretty good!

Off to start the day!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Busy Busy...

Working at the Med. School, show opening tomorrow, lots of application essays to write...updates soon, I hope!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Phone Geek

How we spent our Monday with no power. I claim no credit for this one whatsoever. Expect lots of screaming.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We're gonna turn it on...



So, after 45 hours, our power has been restored. The remnants of hurricane Ike blew through here on Sunday night (right at the beginning of the Steeler game) and knocked out power for over 100,000 people in the Pittsburgh area. I don't know if it's because 1/2 the crews were already en route to Houston, or what, but it took two days to restore our power, and they're saying some people may not get it back until Friday. The kids were off of school yesterday - they went back today with power in 1/2 the building - not sure if they were using generators or what. We played lots of board games and Barbies, and I threw them outside frequently, althought I did NOT use the phrase "get the stink blown off."
We lost all the food in the fridge/freezer, although fortunately there wasn't much in there to begin with. We didn't have any way to cook anything anyway. If asked what we missed most, I'm sure the kids would say the computer, Don would say the TV, and I'd have to toss it up between the internet and my coffeemaker in the morning. At least we had water, and the temperature has been comfortable. In fact the weather has been beautiful. I went running (walking) today up the BIG hill and the road was actually closed, but I went up it anyway. There were three trees fallen on top of wires, on that road alone, that hadn't been cleared off yet. Weird. The storm on Sunday was actually quite cool too - there was no rain, just lots of wind. It was hot in the house, so Don and I went outside for awhile and looked up at the full moon and the clouds just streaking past it as the wind roared around us. It was breathtaking. And candlelight for one night was fun. By the second night it was starting to get old. And by today, we really needed to do some laundry. (I had three days worth of running clothes in there - stinky!!!)
So we're back in business now. Yippee! S -, it was fun to read about your amusement park adventures. We took the kids to Canobie Lake a couple of years ago. It's a nice little park. M and J - hope you're both getting/staying healthy. L -, where are you?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

One of my weird jobs

For those of you interested, here's a humorous article describing some of what I do at the Univ. of Pittsburgh Medical School.
http://www.slate.com/id/2169480/pagenum/all/
Although I haven't actually done the physical exams yet, it's coming up later in the fall. So far, I've only done interviewing skills, where I don't actually have to "gown up". This week I did Nicotene Cessation training on Monday, today and Friday I have training for Psychiatric cases (OCD and Schizophrenia) and tomorrow I have appendicitis. It's been a tough week. : )

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Some marketer did his job

From a "Children's Place" magazine ad:



Just after "don't-forget-your-sweater"

and "hurry-the-bus-is-here" and "pick-you-up-after-soccer,"

a small but familiar hand waves goodbye

from inside a moving bus and the world stops

for just a second.



value every moment

Friday, September 05, 2008

Wow

So tonight was pretty amazing. One of Don's on-the-side clients gave us an invitation to an opening night at the Pittsburgh Playhouse. Don couldn't go, so I went with my friend, Deb. There was a reception beforehand, with (complimentary) hors d'oeuvres, desserts, and drinks (I had Yellowtail Shiraz.) They gave us a (complimentary) planning calendar with the name of the Playhouse on the front. Then we took our two (complimentary) tickets to the show, which happened to be Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, directed by HIS SON, Rob Miller, who was there, and gave a short talk before the play. The show was exceptionally well done. The set design was simple, but very effective. There was a two-story "house", made out of wire mesh, and filled from floor to ceiling with stuff - a sled, a tricycle, and old washing machine, a dresser, a filing cabinet, etc. Different parts of the house would be illuminated at different times, but the only functional parts were the kitchen area downstairs, and a bedroom upstairs. Then surrounding the house, were towering stacks of windows, representing the encroaching apartment buildings around the house. The only functional window was where the musician sat, playing an oboe, an alto flute, an acoustic guitar. The acting was spot on, and the only drawback was the cigarette smoke from the actors onstage. It got a little annoying at times, but it wasn't enough to detract from the evening.
Then I took my (complimentary) parking pass, retrieved my car, and drove home.
Lovely evening.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Happy Birthday, Cinderella

My baby is 5 now. Fully fledged five, happily going to kindergarten, riding the bus, planning her life. When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, her first answer is still "Tinkerbell, because then I can fly". But now she has also added "Policeman" and "President" and "A Mom, so I can tell everybody what to do." (Ha.)

Her dalmation-princess birthday party was a success - it was beautiful weather, so we opened up the pool and that takes a lot of game-playing pressure off of me. Although we did still hunt for plastic bones in the yard, play pin-the-tail and the spot on the dalmation, and musical dog-dishes. Granny made a terrific chocolate and vanilla cake with white icing and chocolate chip spots, and we had our dalmation pinata. She LOVED all her presents, especially the dalmation Webkinz, the Little Mermaid styling head, and all the Barbies. She's been playing with her new toys all weekend, and there wasn't one that she seemed disappointed in, with the exception of the socks and underwear given to her by us. Although, it was Hannah Montana underwear and that was pretty cool.

She's headstrong, this five year old. She knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it. I taught her the word kleptomaniac this weekend, because we always know to look somewhere in her room when we're missing a hairbrush, or a mirror, or a flashlight, or the kitchen timer. She's like a magpie - feathering her nest with shiny things that catch her fancy. She's volatile - either joyfully buzzing around the room with shiny accessories flashing, or bursting into tears because we've asked her to eat her waffle. Not many shades of gray with her. Only the new hairs that sprout on my head after each confrontation.


I'm so grateful to have this healthy, happy, spark in our lives. She keeps us laughing, and dancing, and always hopping to stay ahead of her.

Happy birthday, Cinderella.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Back to School!













Well, this is it! Yesterday was the first official day of school, although for Cinderella it was more of a 1/2 day, meet the teacher, tour the building day. Today is her first real day. She's totally confident, relaxed, and happy to be there. Her teacher is very young - just graduated last December - but also seems confident and very happy to be in her job. She's also very pretty, which is always helpful for a Kindergarten teacher. Tarzan's in 1st grade, and he loves his teacher. She's the same one Scooby had in 1st grade, and he's built up a great reputation for her. Tarzan was so excited when he found out he had her too. Scooby has lots of different teachers, but some of his friends are in his homeroom with him, so he's happy about that. He starts string practice next week.

I should be feeling all weepy and nostalgic that my "baby" is going to kindergarten, but honestly, I don't. She hasn't been my "baby" for a long time, and she's definitely ready to go. I was much more weepy when Scooby started. As you can see from the bus pictures, she didn't even want to look back. She's off on a new adventure! And maybe, eventually, so will I be.






Friday, August 22, 2008

I'm back...sort of

How to summarize...

We had a family camping weekend in Cook Forest - even Don came! We managed to set up our tent, build a fire (eventually), go canoeing, and split some wood. The weather was perfect and we had a great time.
Then I went to Mass. for two weeks, and it was wet wet wet! We managed to have fun in between the raindrops, though. We went mini-golfing, ate ice cream at Kimballs, spent a day in Maine (shopping in Kennebunkport, lunch in Wells, beach at Ogunquit), visited Westford's playground, introduced Cinderella to my "vintage" Barbies, brought home an armful of 80's prom dresses for my friend who's costuming "The Wedding Singer" this fall, swam in the pool, visited with family, went back-to-school shopping, drank some wine, enjoyed the new porch, played Guitar Hero for the first time...it was pretty full. I also taught 3 songs to my Mom's chorus, videotaped the choreography, and performed in two hour-long shows at a county fair. It was good. And the transmission didn't fall out, and no one had to go to the emergency room, so it was a step up from 2007!
My mind was pretty preoccupied the whole time, though. I'm trying to figure out Plan B in this whole grad school thing. Plan A, which fell through, was to pursue an MFA in Performance and Pedagogy at the Univ. of Pittsburgh. Plan B has been up in the air since that didn't work out. So, I thought, maybe Plan B was to pursue an alternate route, and I looked into an MA at Regent University in Theater Studies, about half of which can be done online, and the rest with an 8 week summer residency. In the course of "looking into it", they told me they had openings for Fall, so I jumped at it, did all the application essays, resumes, letters of rec., transcript, etc.etc. and they accepted me into the program. However, it's not one of those programs which funds the grad students, unlike Pitt, and the money turned out to be a pretty major stumbling block. Especially since I had missed most of the deadlines around grant and scholarship money. The start of classes was fast approaching, and I was starting to freak out about it, so I asked them to defer my enrollment at least until spring.
In the meantime, I was rethinking the whole MA option, and the online part of it too, wondering if after all the work is done, it might be perceived as somewhat of a lesser degree - a "Jr. College" version, if you will. And that for my ultimate goal, of teaching in a university, I'd probably be better served pursing an MFA after all.
Which brings me to plan C...possibly going back to square one and reapplying to MFA programs. And since the local ones, Pitt and Point Park aren't accepting applications until 2010 and 2011 respectively, it would mean moving if I'm to go somewhere in 2009. Surprisingly, (or maybe not) there aren't that many options for MFAs in theater in the Northeast. My shortlist right now is Boston University, Brown University, Yale (yeah, right!), Penn State, and Regent (which also offers an MFA) Perhaps with Regent, I might not have to reapply with all the paperwork, and could just do the audition phase. There are probably other programs out there, but these are the ones I'm looking at right now. I don't want to live in NYC (sorry Steve...if it were just me, it might be different) I also need to think about URTA auditions (a group audition in NYC or Chicago hosted by a variety of grad schools). It costs money to audition, and you need to be nominated and have a sponsor...It's a lot to wrap my brain around.
In the meantime, I've started working on Murder in the Cathedral, the kids start school on Monday, and I have to learn a new murder mystery script this weekend. The kids all got haircuts today! (There were 10 kids in Great Clips when we went in...fortunately the family of 7(!) in front of us was just finishing up!)
Sorry for the boring post...I'd love to stop talking and thinking about all this, and just get on with it! Unfortunately, I don't see that happening any time soon. All input and advice is welcome!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Monday, July 28, 2008

He's Home!

Camp was fun. Better than okay, but not really, REALLY fun. He'd go again, maybe. It rained a lot, but only at night. He had swimming, and crafts, and hiking, and they were supposed to go camping but they didn't. And he made me a bowl in crafts, but he couldn't bring it home. (Reasons unclear) And they confiscated both flashlights, and only returned one. Everything else seems to have made it home. And he just found his sleeping bag and pillow today, on the way home. And he lost two teeth while eating Starbursts. (I think they were ready to come out anyway) And one of his counselors broke his arm playing soccer during camp, but could still play the guitar. He spent half an hour telling me about "Allegheny Idol" night, and Sledge-o-matic (smashing watermelons with sledgehammers), and the swimming pool, and how the bathroom stalls didn't lock, and what they had to eat. Now he's playing cars with the neighbor boy. (Still in yesterday's clothes...but he really doesn't smell too bad, considering.) Apparently, operation sleep-away camp was a success.



Friday, July 25, 2008

Today's moments

Cinderella: Mommy, while you were sleeping I saw a bug in your hair.

*************

Cinderella: When I was cleaning under the table, I bumped my head. It still hurts.

Tarzan: I can see the red spot.

Cinderella: May you please pray for me?

Tarzan: Okay. God, please make E..'s head better. I pray this forever. Amen.

Cinderella: Thanks, T...

*******************

Cinderella: I saw a feather fall from the flowers. Oh...(giggles) I said feather!

Tarzan: You mean petal.

Cinderella: Yeah.
*******************
Later:

Cinderella: You are a disgrace!

Tarzan: On the contrary.

Cinderella: You're not on the contrary, because I'm the Queen!
***********************
Later Still:

Tarzan: You're cute. (Goes over and hugs Cinderella)

Tarzan: (after about 20 seconds) Stop hugging me.

Cinderella: (Lets go) Was I choking you?

Tarzan: No. I just couldn't breathe.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I got a letter from camp

Dear Mommy
I really, really, really, really, really, really, really miss you. I am writing at 7:25 because they woke us up at 7:00. I am really tired. You are the best mom in the world. Please write back.
Love,
(Scooby)


Aargh.

They like us! They really like us!

Here's a review from the Pittsburgh City Paper about Urinetown. I like the comment about singing and dancing without apparent effort. They must have been sitting far enough back in the audience not to be sprayed with sweat!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

All Clear

So yesterday was Scooby's first day at sleepaway camp. We had to meet the bus at 6:45am, so I planned to get up at 6:00. He came in our room at 5:00 saying he couldn't sleep, and spent the last hour not-sleeping in our bed. He was happy and excited during breakfast, although he didn't eat much, and fine while we sat in the car in the rain waiting for the bus, which finally came at 7:10. He was fine until he actually got on the bus, then the tears came. He wanted to be sure I'd packed kitty and pillow, which I had, although he didn't want to hold them right then. He was in tears when the bus left, although I'm sure he was fine by about 10 minutes in. We wrote him a letter in the afternoon, and mailed it for him to receive tomorrow or the next day.
So all day long I'm talking to myself, convincing myself he's having a great time, or at least learning how to survive in a difficult social situation. Then last night, a swath of tornado warnings, funnel cloud sightings, dangerous lightning and golf-ball sized hail passes right through where the campsite is. Don and I spent an extremely anxious hour in front of the tv watching the weather. When it had passed by the camp area, we called the emergency number and requested a call back letting us know everything was okay. Five minutes later someone from the camp called back and assured us everything was fine - that it didn't even rain there. Which I don't get, but which made me feel marginally better.
So, it's day two, and we haven't gotten a phonecall to come and pick him up, or any teary homesick pleas. We sent him with some stamped envelopes and blank pages to write us, and I really hope he does. Tarzan and Cinderella miss him, mostly at night, but it has been a lot quieter around here.
If you're praying people, keep him in your prayers. Or good thoughts, or vibes, or whatever. My baby bird is growing feathers on his wings, and it hurts. It might be a little uncomfortable for him too.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Here, look at these!

Lots of pictures from Urinetown...I'm very scary!!!

Looking at Steve's inserts reminded me of these...





I was looking for John-John counting his penny, but couldn't find that one.
Boy, am I old!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Opening Night!

Opening night went great! We had a blast and got a lot of laughs. Larry Cervi, my old dance teaching boss was there...I haven't seen him in about 8 years. I'll post some pictures soon. They're pretty scary!!!
Yawn!!!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Friday

Today was Cinderella's last day of theater camp. She portrayed a "totally cool" zebra in the story "A Rumble in the Jungle." It was a smash hit.

Afterwards we went and trimmed Scooby's hair - the hairdresser showed him that by cutting his bangs on an angle, he could push them out of his face when Mom was looking, then shake them down into his eyes when she wasn't. He was tickled pink.

Then we went and got him some booster immunizations. He wasn't as happy about that. But then we got cookies. Iced Spiced Oatmeal for Cinderella, Snickerdoodle for Scooby, Dalmation for Tarzan (chocolate chip cookie with vanilla icing) and Gingersnap for me.

Then we read in bed, swam in the pool, and now I'm procrastinating making dinner before I head off for a set construction night for U-town. We open next Thursday! Yay!

What's going on out there?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Late Rehearsal

So much dancing. So much singing. So much rolling on the floor. SO MUCH SWEATING.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday

Got up this morning at 6:00 to go running, because when I have to be at work by 8:00 there's no other time to do it! The distance wasn't as far, but there was more actual running involved. My ankles are really sore today. I pulled a pectoral muscle last Thursday at dance rehearsal for Urinetown. It's better now, but still stiff if I bend the wrong way.
Cinderella enjoyed her first day at theater camp - she's playing a zebra in the showcase on Friday. I had a really fun day with the little kids age group. I'm pretty experienced with knowing how to talk to them.
The two neighbor kids are over again. Sigh. I like to be hospitible, but it's hard when it's too wet to play outside. I think pretty soon they're going outside, wet or not!
Quiet out there - is anyone home yet?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Not much new...

Had a couple of family centered days...Don actually had off work Thurs - Sun so we spent some good family time together. Missed the annual trip up to Norwood, but just couldn't afford the gas this year.
Friday we went to Leetsdale's very lame Noisy Candy Parade. The candy's not noisy, but the parade is. The entire parade consists of firetrucks, ambulances, and police cars slowly driving by, sirens blaring, and candy raining out the windows. The kids liked it, except Cinderella didn't want to take her hands off her ears (neither did I!) so she made her brothers collect candy for her. Then we had a picnic in a nearby park, and went home for a dip in the pool. That night we watched fireworks from a parking lot across the road from the field where they set them off. Perfect view, and a decent show.
On Saturday we went to Uncle Joe and Aunt Barb's pool. Heated pool. Like, 90 degrees. All three kids swam like otters and stayed wet for about four hours straight. Don and I just ate WAY too much great food. Another nice relaxing day.
Today we went to church, went to a carnival at Granny's church, then cleaned the dentist office, then I went to rehearsal. Not quite as relaxing. Tomorrow I start teaching again at theater camp. Cinderella is coming with me this week and the boys are going to "camp Granny". Next week, I keep Tarzan and sent Scooby and Cinderella to Granny. God bless her. I saved the toughest week for last!
Scooby's on book six of the "Unfortunate Events" series. I don't think he's going back to Jack Sparrow until all the Unfortunate books are read. See, I knew when the right time was to give them to him!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Birthday parties

Here are some long overdue rundowns on the birthday parties!

Tarzan had a Webkinz birthday party. Webkinz, in case you don't know, (which probably means you don't have any children under the age of 10) are stuffed animals that come with a computer code which opens up Webkinz world online, where the stuffed animal has a virutal identity. You can play games to win kinzcash, with which you can purchase online furnishings for your pet's home, clothing and food for the pet, etc. We used some of the online games as models for our party games. For example, we had a Wheel of Wow, which the kids could spin to win "Timmycash" or small prizes.
We also had a Wishing Well, where Timmycoins attached to paper clips could be caught with a magnetic fishing rod.
I scattered some plastic "jewels" on the front lawn and let the kids have a gem hunt. They collected their gems in little paper bags and took them home to attach to their foam crowns (purchased at Michaels) to make their own "Crown of Wonder."
When the kids came in, they brought their own Webkinz or other stuffed animal, which we set up near their take home bags in the Beauty Contest area. Each pet was awarded a prize such as "nicest pet" , "bravest pet", etc. These bags were where the kids collected all their Timmycash and prizes throughout the day.
We also had a Quizzy's corner, where the kids could earn more Timmycash by answering trivia questions. It was a nice break for them to sit and cool off, and have some quiet time before jumping in the pool! Finally, they ate and opened presents. At the end of the party, they collected all their Timmycash and used it to redeem prizes from the W-shop (in the kitchen). The prizes were gently used or leftover Happy meal toys, recital prizes, small books, etc. The kids really liked getting to choose their own things - just like Chuckie Cheese! The party was pretty inexpensive - the biggest expenses were the jewels and crowns. In retrospect, I would have bagged the crowns and had the kids do whatever they wanted with the jewels at home. Tarzan and co. had a great time and it was an overall success!Scooby had a party based on Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman - a show on PBS. I arranged a scavenger hunt with some of the local business and public places in Sewickley and had the kids follow clues from place to place. We ended up with pizza and cake. It was the most fun party I've ever had with the kids, although it did require a LOT of advance preparation by me, and it was on the more expensive side as well. But we had a blast! Watch the video and see...

Click here to watch the video I took at Scooby's birthday party. If I can figure out how, I'm going to make DVDs for all the kids as thank yous.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

My heart

Here is a letter which was delivered to me this evening:

"Dear Mommy,
I was thinking about getting a beagle, and I was thinking about how bad you mihht have felt when I said I was disapointed. I just want you to know that I am very happy that I got the beagle Webkinz. (Though I am disapointed that I didn't get a real beagle).
Love,
Scooby"

Well, he didn't write Scooby, but you know what I mean.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It has NOT been a week since I posted!

Crazy busy here - teaching classes M-F from 9-3, rehearsal in the pm. Survived another birthday party. It went really well - lots of fun. Pictures and details to come.
How can I be this busy and yet this unproductive???

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day



This is my dad. This is probably my favorite picture of my dad, but unfortunately, our scanner is very tempermental, so you get a digital picture of a picture. It was taken about 10 years ago up in NY, on Arbuckle Pond. Dad and I were out in a canoe - and I think that was the last time I was actually in a canoe, which is too bad, since it's something I love to do. I was on a solo camping trip, before we had kids, and had spent some time visiting Mom and Dad's friends at their summer camp.
I love this picture for a couple of reasons. One, the canoeing, that I already mentioned. Two, my dad looks really relaxed and happy. Three, you can tell that he's steering the boat, but he's really concentrating more on being with me. And that third point pretty much sums up one of the great qualities of my dad.
He's a really capable guy. He can fix just about anything, figure out solutions to knotty problems, explain why something works the way it does. He's really smart and funny too - a great one for telling stories at parties - great at knowing how to talk to different kinds of people. He's terrific at steering the boat, in other words. He knows where he's going, how to get there, and how to find all the restrooms along the way. : )
But...he's also great at letting you find your own way on how to get there, and to just spend time with you while you're doing it. For example; I'm a theater person. I love to sing, dance, act, teach...I've worked in theater professionally and non-professionally all my life. My dad's an engineer. Our brains work very differently. I think a lot more like my mom, which is why it's sometimes easier for us to talk about things. My dad probably doesn't understand a lot of the reasons why I do the things that I do, or why I'd even want to. But, he let me do it. He let me major in theater in college and even paid for it. Didn't even panic that much when I told him how little I was making at my first job out of college. He's let me steer my own course, and suffer the pitfalls along the way, all the while staying nearby in case I ever needed him.
There have been lots of times when I've wished to be back in that canoe, gliding along on the cold, smooth pond while the sun set behind us. Moving just fast enough to avoid most of the mosquitoes. Smelling the faint whiffs of smoke and torched marshmallows from the campsites on the shoreline, the pine trees, the slightly mineral smell of the water.
Life lately has felt more like swimming upstream in a strong current than gliding across a glassy pond.
But when I look at this picture, I remember what it was like, and I smile.
Happy Father's Day, Dad.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Still Here

I know, I know, I've been very lax in posting. I'm a slacker. I'll post soon with pictures and details about Tarzan's birthday and Mom and Dad's visit. I'll get to it. I will! Stop nagging me, internet!!! Stop glaring at me with that put-out look on your face! I'm doing the best I can here, okay? So just hold your horses and stop pressuring me!!!!

There. I feel better.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Take me out to the ballgame...





We spent Sunday at the Pirates game - and a great time was had by all! I know, I know, Pirates vs. the Diamondbacks - not much of a game for you BoSox fans, but there were some good plays, the Pirates won, and we had spectacular seats! Don got the tickets from a guy at work, and we were close enough to see the sweat beads on the players faces. We were right on the third base line, about six rows back from the field. And PNC park is amazing - the view of the city behind the ball field is gorgeous. Yes, it was 90 degrees and we were right in the sun. So it wasn't perfect. Tarzan dropped his popcorn, fell down the stairs and scraped his nose, and got a rash from the sun. Scooby got a headache from the combination of heat and screaming "Let's go Bucs!" for the whole ninth inning. All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable day at the ball park.

ps: Cinderella spent the day with Granny doing girly stuff. She loved it!!!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Summertime!

It's 92 degrees and the pool is up! One new part, one new tarp, 250 pounds of leveling sand, and a gazillion gallons of water later, it's set up and ready to go. The boys have been in and are thrilled to pieces. Cinderella's not quite ready yet, but if the temp stays this way, which it's supposed to, I'm sure she'll change her mind. I moved all the sand myself (oi! my back!) but Don made up for it by moving all the air conditioners down from the attic this morning. So don't worry, Mom and Dad, we're ready for you!
Went running this morning before it got unbearable. Tarzan's T-ball practice was cancelled due to the heat (wimps!) but as of now both boys have games tomorrow.
My unbelievable children have started their own "school before school" program. They did this last year, and were remarkably consistent with it for about two weeks. Bear in mind they only got out of school on Wednesday. Scooby is the teacher and has set up a schedule for reading, math, free time, lunch, library, geography, and science. They're at lunch now. Library, reading and math went splendidly! They are so tickled that they're doing this on their own, and both Tarzan and Cinderella are enthusiastic participants. Don't know how long it will last, but it's been fun today!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Cinderella's version

Instead of "Eeny Meenie Miney Moe":

Eeny Miny Mo
Checker Tiger Toe
Let my mother go
So we can have the rest of the days
For-ev-er
A-men.

I have now officially passed 100 posts on this blog. Huzzah!

Monday, June 02, 2008

A little better

Beautiful weather is helping. Good rehearsal for murder mystery show, pool party yesterday, the kids had s'mores, party projects going well, all helping. The kids are just breaking my heart, though. Little things they say and do, little shows of disrespect, little unkindnesses to each other, little losses and fears that break their hearts - it's all making me tired. I'm failing them moment by moment, and I'm only seeing the big picture and getting perspective after they're in bed and asleep. Can't really go into detail right now, and really, it's nothing major. Just little heartbreaks. Cracks in the mirror.

Saturday, May 31, 2008


What a craptacular day. Starting with my parental lapse of the absent tooth fairy, and it just went downhill from there. Nothing big or tragic, just lots of stupid little annoying crap. Like, the wall plug in the pool cracked and broke off, and nobody around here sells it, and we have to get it online, and it probably won't be here in time for Tarzan's party. And Scooby's baseball game got called off because of the TORNADO WATCH and thunderstorm warnings, but then it didn't rain, and Tarzan's game wasn't cancelled, but he didn't want to go anyway, so we stayed home. And my prescription wasn't ready at the drugstore, again. And the 3 stores we went to didn't have any empty boxes we could have. And Tarzan threw a total fit when I wouldn't let him have candy from Cinderella's party treat bag. And the kids kept fighting all day long, over nothing. And the grill caught on fire and scorched the burgers, again. And when I finally went for a run, a cloud LITERALLY followed me, and rained on me the first 30 minutes of the uphill climb. Just like this picture!!! But it finally cleared up and turned sunny for the last half, and I got home and read the kids a story, and now I'm relaxing with my laptop while Don watches the Penguins play. The tooth fairy will come tonight. And tomorrow is another day.

Crap.

I suck. The tooth fairy forgot to come last night. I have scarred my poor middle child for life.

Friday, May 30, 2008

A bit longer update

So much activity, and so little to write about! We've been really busy, and yet it somehow hasn't inspired me to write a whole lot.
The kids really enjoyed having "Aunt Blackbird" here. Cinderella says she should come back again, and sleep here. Tarzan drew a picture in his journal of her sleeping with a big smile on her face and wrote "My aint wut she dus is fun. i'm not kiting." (My aunt, what she does is fun. I'm not kidding) That's a pretty good endorsement! Actually, she didn't sleep that much, but then, nobody really sleeps much around here.
We had a really great time at Kennywood. They're all old enough to really enjoy it, and they each found something that really tickled them. Scooby liked the 3-D "scary" ride called Garfield's nightmare - where neon milkshakes and burgers float in midair towards your car, and giant scary veterinarians come after you with huge needles. (Tarzan said it was the worst ride ever.) He, on the other hand, loved the big kid rides where you plunge into huge splashes of water and get soaking wet. Scooby, the whole way up, kept chanting "I don't want to do this! I don't want to do this!" but he liked the splash part, and was glad he's done it once it was over. Once was enough, though. Tarzan wanted to do it over and over again! Cinderella loved just about everything in kiddyland - although the flying elephant ride was her favorite. I think she rode it 5 times. She made friends with every kid she shared a seat with, too. I got to ride the Merry-Go-Round, so I was happy too. It was great to have one adult for each kid so we could split up when necessary. Lisa impressed them all at the shooting gallery - she's quite a shot! We did get caught in the rain briefly, but it was right before we were going to leave anyway, and it gave us a kick in the butt to get out of there, since the kids did have school the next day. Hopefully they'll remember it as a really great time. I know I will!

I had my first rehearsal for Urinetown. I think it's going to be really fun. There's a really talented cast, and the music is fun to sing. It's going to be more of a time committment than I'd originally thought, which is going to get sticky as the summer goes on, but I'll cross that bridge later. It's good for me to branch out into a new group of theater people and make new contacts. It will also be something new on my resume, although I'm only "Poor Chorus" and don't even have a name! I'll make up a name for myself, I think.

I spent the day today retiring the winter clothes and pulling out the summer ones - we haven't really needed them yet since it's been so freaking cold!! It took me three hours. Exciting, huh? I have about six boxes full of baby/toddler clothes that I'm saving...should anyone ever need them. Anyone that I'm close to. You know, in my family or something. I'm just saying.

The invitations are mailed for the Webkinz party - tomorrow the Fetch party ones go out. Now I just have to figure out how to throw two parties with no "party budget." Should be interesting.

Lets see. What else?

Oh, Tarzan lost another tooth tonight! He requested two Sacajewea (sp?) gold coins from the tooth fairy. I think maybe he'll get one. The tooth fairy is a little strapped for cash. Fortunately, Mr. Tooth Fairy keeps a secret stash of gold coins for just such an occasion!

I'll post some pictures when I'm not on the laptop - they're all on the other computer. Only three more days of school. Lord help me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Quick update

We're doing our best to wear Lisa out. She picked up Cinderella from school yesterday, played outside for awhile, went to Tarzan's T-ball practice, returned library books, went to Tarzan's T-ball game today, stopped at the bank, went to a birthday party at Chuckie Cheese, stopped at Sam's Club...tomorrow is (possibly) a picnic, and maybe Kennywood on Monday. So far, she's keeping up just fine!
Tarzan's decided he wants a Webkinz birthday, and Scooby wants a variation on Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. Look them up, all you people without school age kids.

The weather is gorgeous so far this weekend. What a nice change! Maybe we will try to put the pool up this summer after all.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

SP and Pee

Tomorrow I have my actual first day as a working "SP" or Standardized Patient at the medical school. I have two cases that I'm working - and tomorrow's is the easier one. It's a phone conversation - yes, on an actual phone, and I'm the mother of a sick baby. Hm...it's a stretch, but I think I can handle it. I went yesterday and observed my two cases being portrayed by other SPs, and got a feel for how the program runs. I'm glad to finally be doing it - I've been training since October! Only about one day a month, but still, it's been a LONG process.

In other news, I've been cast in a production of Urinetown that my friend Becki is directing. My friends Deb and Michelle are in it too. (The four of us were the ones who did the four part harmony Christmas music that I subjected some of you to over the holidays) I'm in the "poor" chorus. Again, a stretch. I actually don't know the show at all - except that it's about a society which has run out of water and people have to pay to pee. Those who pee illegally are sent to Urinetown. If anyone is familiar with the show, let me know your impressions. The performances are the middle and end of July, right before I head up to Mass. I haven't told Don yet that I'm doing this. He knows I auditioned, but I was kind of vague about the details. I don't know the actual rehearsal schedule yet, but Becki assures me it won't be too bad.
Only one more day of school for Emily. Nine more for the boys. Eeeek!

Still running - didn't go today, but hope to squeeze one in tomorrow morning.
Don bought a new scale - and it made me gain six pounds.
I actually don't care too much about the numbers, but I would like to see them moving in the other direction!!!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Gasp...wheeze...

So, here is where I ran today. Okay, I walked most of the uphill stuff, but ran most of the downhill and flat stuff. If this link works, check out the "show elevation" button under the map. It's crazy! But my goal was continuous movement, no matter how slow. And I did it! On Facebook, I called it 6.7 miles, but according to this, it's actually 6.96. I'm sore tonight, and I'll probably be really sore tomorrow, but I'm proud of myself. I probably won't do this route too often, and there are some curvy roads with NO shoulders and it's not very safe. But I did it today. In the rain too!


Hm..I don't think the show elevation button is there. But trust me, it's some big-ass hills.

In other news, Tarzan was off school for three days with fever and sore throat. No throwing up, which is nice. He went back yesterday, but still tires quickly. He is enjoying T-ball a lot - even though every game or practice they've had so far has been either in the rain, or on a mud-pit of a field after it rained.

Scooby had his third grade recorder concert last night, followed by the 4th grade "orchestra" (11 violins and one 5th grade cellist on loan) and the 4th grade band. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. They really weren't that bad! Next week, he gets to try out an instrument to learn in 4th grade. He's going to try clarinet and violin, leaning towards violin. Can't you just see him as a strolling violin playing waiter?

Cinderella only has 3 more days of school. Her graduation is on the 27th. Then I'll have no more preschoolers! It's going to be a long summer...

On that front, Scooby's been offered an opportunity to go to a week long sleepaway camp in the Laurel Highlands for free! He seems up for it - Don's a little worried about the fact that we don't know anyone running the camp, or the leaders, or who else might be going. He's afraid Scooby will be beaten up and picked on the whole time. I'm going to look into it some more, and see what we can find out.

I also joined the amazing time-wasting Facebook this week so I could be continually humiliated by my brother and sister and brother-in-law kicking my ass in games. On the plus side, I found Laura Heymann! I haven't heard from her, besides Christmas cards, since the five minutes I spent with her at my wedding.

I've picked up a little more work for the summer - some more standardized patient dates, and 3 weeks of drama camp - one week of full days, and two weeks of half days. Still don't know what I'm doing in the fall.

Oh well, I'll think about that tomorrow... (name that movie!)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Consumerism

Here's my rant. It's not about marketing. It's not even about advertising. It's about the "consumer" - the innocent rube who's being "tricked" and "conned" into spending their money on things they don't really need.

I can't say it nearly as well as one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle:
"In the world of the theater, we touched on reality itself, and were shocked as the world around us seemed to reach out for the unreal. Planned obsolescence was just coming in, objects made with less than excellence, built to destroy themselves or wear out. Plastics and synthetics were just becoming available to the public. The word synthetics is enough: unreal.
Today we live in a society that seems to be less and less concerned with reality. We drink instant coffee and reconstituted orange juice. We buy our vegetables on cardboard trays covered with plastic. But perhaps the most dehumanizing thing of all is that we have allowed the media to call us consumers - ugly. No! I don't want to be a consumer. Anger consumes. Forest fires consume. Cancer consumes."

When we allow ourselves to be labeled as consumers - beings who take and take and use up, and take some more, whether we need it or not, be open ourselves wide to the negative influence of advertising. We become easy prey for scammers. The American Psychological Association estimates that children today see an average of 40,000 commercials per year. 40,000 commercials aimed at turning our children into mindless consumers who try to find happiness through credit cards. It’s the American Dream! But listen to this little bit of information from US News and World Report. “For Americans with household incomes under $25,000, it would take $54,000 a year to fulfill the American Dream. Those who make $100,000 plus crave an average of $192,000. In other words, the American Dream usually lies nearly twice the distance away.” It's what the whole "predatory lending" scandal is about - people who are so convinced that they need more and more and more that they willingly participate in lying about their means to pay back a loan.

Simplicity is living with what you need, and learning contentment. Consumerism is striving to always have more than what you have now. John D. Rockefeller was once the richest man on earth, with a net worth approximating $200 billion dollars. And yet when asked “How much money does it take to make a man happy?” Mr. Rockefeller replied, “Just a little bit more.”

Do I live in simplicity and contentment? No freakin' way. There is so much extra STUFF in this house that we definitely could do without. However, one of the lessons we are TRYING to install in our kids is that commercials are designed to manipulate your thinking. Or, in kid terms, to trick you. We point out how they are designed, what the goal of the advertisers might be, and how to control your thinking so that you are not blindly influenced by the ad. Scooby's got it. Tarzan's starting to understand. Cinderella...not so much. But one of the hidden blessings of being financially where we are is that it's easier to not give in to our children's demands and desires. We aim for simplicity. We recognize the value of contentment.

And we don't send money to Nigeria.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Day 17

Yesterday I sanded down the picnic table and benches, and bought sand for the sandbox. I also bought a variety of petunias to plant in the little garden in the back. Some purple ones, some red and white striped ones that the kids really like, and some pretty yellow ones called Lemon Zest. I also have some perrenials from last year that came back, but I have no idea what they are. Spiky purple things, star-shaped white flowers on a big fuzzy green leaves, and little purple ones on vines.
I also ran in the village, but then it got dark so I walked home.
Today I painted the picnic table and benches, and went for a very hilly walk. Not THE BIG HILL, but pretty hilly anyway. That's easy to do around here.
Today's soundtrack: Moulin Rouge

Monday, May 05, 2008

Dude, my bro got Dooced!

Not familiar with the term? Check out:
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=dooced
Also, check out her website http://www.dooce.com if you're not offended by frank language and sometimes raunchy humor. See how I keep deflecting you away from my own blog? It's a clever ruse so "the MAN" won't find me and ...oh, wait; nobody cares what I write! See, there are benefits to being insignificant.

In other news, days 11 and 12 were skipped due to Scooby's illness. Days 13 and 14 were runs in the village, and today, Day 15, was a long walk to Moon park and back (from the church, not from my house.) Probably about 4.5 miles. Yay, me.

RIVETING!!!

Friday, May 02, 2008

I read an incredible post from "Notes to Self" - one of the blogs in my sidebar. It struck home, and I'm still living with exploring why. Here is a quote from it, but you really should check out the blog yourself. It's pretty amazing.

"Even as good and exciting things are happening all around, I find myself slipping back into scarcity mindset. I wake up at night worried that I can't deliver on commitments I've made. That I'm not really good enough. That my dearest relationships won't survive my saying yes to new opportunities. That the house budget will run out before the flooring is installed, that my husband's business will grind to a halt, that the sky will fall.This fear is my default position, like slouching. It takes constant awareness and effort to pull my shoulders back, sit up, breathe, trust. To substitute every "what if?" with "why not?"...it forced me to take a good look at how coldly and quickly I want to disassociate myself from the howlers in the gutter. Because it's one tiny step for health and wholeness to recognize that for what it is—sickness. It's a much bigger stretch to get beyond the reflexive aversion to ugliness and see that the person howling is in pain, and a mighty, muscle-tearing leap to come to a full stop and see myself in them.We react most negatively to what we cannot allow in ourselves. For me, that's the victim card. Nothing will flip my switch like someone whining "poor me," whether it's in the key of self-rightousness or self-pity. But how many times have I been locked in the dungeon of my own thinking, howling and weeping while I held the keys? How many times have I blamed others for my own choices, because that was easier than taking responsibility and risking disappointment?"

Breathing that in for awhile.

Scooby and Tarzan are sick - Scooby more so. Temp of 103.8 this morning. Thank the good Lord above for Tylenol. Seriously - my life would be so much harder without it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Day 10

Just got back from a slog. Day 8 and 9 were treadmill days. It's kind of nice to see the numbers ticking away in front of you, but golly is it boring otherwise. It would help if the treadmill were in front of a tv or even a window, but there's no convenient way to place it that way in our house. So today I made it outside again - yippee! It's been pretty chilly the past couple of days - down in the low 40's - but the sun came out again today and it's still really pretty out there.
How exciting is this? I'm posting about the weather!
Trying to line up some work for the summer. The mystery shows are suffering somewhat from the economy - my Friday overnight show was just cancelled. My Standardized Patient gigs at the Medical School are coming along - I'm only two training sessions away from actually presenting a case! I've been training since October, about two sessions per month. It's the l-o-n-g-e-s-t training program in the history of the world. But it's nice to get paid for sitting around and talking about stuff, I guess. So I'm looking for more work. There are some summer theater camps that might be interested, and I just passed a Starbucks that is hiring. Still no longer range plans, though. I'm really stuck when I try to formulate something longer term, and the kids are keeping me so busy that it's easy to be distracted away from it anyway.
Oh, well. My noodles are boiling, so I'm off to undo all the hard work I just did.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Daffodils and princesses


Well, I don't know if you can see the connection or not. The original clump of daffodils that inspired this connection for me had faded beyond redemption. These are ones from my front yard - and they're not exactly the same, but you get the idea.


Did the hill again on Day 5 - ran in the village on Day 6. Today, the 7th day, I rested.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Day 4

Ran in Sewickley village today - some actual running occurred. Later, I happened to drive the same route, and it's almost exactly 3.5 miles. I probably ran 2 of it, all told. Not all at once, mind you, but still, it gave me some hope.
It's really interesting to have Steve's ipod, with all his old music stored on it, plus some of the stuff I've tacked on. I put it on shuffle, and get this surreal accompaniment to my slogging. Today was some Massachusetts folk artists, a little Mozart, some Tracey Chapman, Alas for You from Godspell, some Bjork (speaking of surreal!), At the End of the Day from Les Mis, Norah Jones, kd lang, and a couple of other artists I wasn't familiar with, but whose songs I enjoyed. The only ones I've skipped through are some of the Christmas tunes. They just didn't jive with the dogwoods, magnolias, and daffodils.
On yesterday's walk I saw some past-their-prime daffoldils that totally reminded me of an illustration in Melissa's old fairy tale book - remember the Princess and the Pea? When she knocks on the door or the castle and she's all dripping wet, but still holding out her skirts for a curtsey, and the fluid lines of her dress and hair melt into the rain cascading down behind her? Maybe I'll try to post a picture of it soon. Well, anyway, the daffodils had that same ruined elegance look. The lines distorted, but still stately - the colors blurred, but still vibrant. I wish I'd had my camera. Maybe I'll try to go up there again tomorrow, before the next batch of storms and cold come, destroying the last of the flowers.