Monday, March 2, 2015

Purim Bags

Tonight, the boys and The Wife stuffed Purim bags for their school friends. Basically, you're supposed to bring friends and neighbors small bags or baskets of treats on Purim as a celebration. We have some hamantaschen and some other tasty bits. We got to eat the leftover cookies, which I'm cool with doing.


The boys and I are just shy of twenty miles run for the Steel Kids Marathon. Considering they're supposed to do 25 before the April marathon, I think we're in good shape. I think we have an outside shot at having 40 miles done before the marathon.

Yes, I'm an overachiever.


Fighting a cold today and yesterday, as is The Wife. Might take tomorrow from exercising, which doesn't make me happy at all. We'll see. Maybe I won't lift; maybe I'll just do a nice, easy walk and jog. I hate taking time off because I sit at a computer all day and don't have many opportunities to move around.

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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Purim play

Today was the Purim play and Purim carnival at Rodef Shalom. Purim is a fun holiday in the Jewish calendar: it tells the story about how Queen Esther convinced King Ahashaverach to NOT kill the Jews and to take care of his advisor, Haman, who was trying to exterminate them. They read the play, and cheer when Esther speaks, and boo when Haman speaks, and it's a good day. The Boy played the king, and Little Bear played Mordechai, Esther's uncle. Everyone else is supposed to dress up in fun costumes.

The carnival has games and tickets and prizes to earn. There was a neat bouncy climbing slide thing, and a camp theme, and a bake sale, and hot dogs and popcorn and Sno-cones. The boys spent a few hours sprinting around, playing games, and eating treats. I wore my Flash costume, and The Baby wore an Iron Man costume.

This is one of my favorite days of the year. I love the carnival, and I love how happy it makes the boys.

The actual holiday is Wednesday night, and they're doing a family Magillah reading - that's the Purim story. They're also doing brinner - breakfast for dinner - beforehand, which is pretty awesome. The Wife's choir will be singing, and I'm looking forward to hearing that.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Super Why

In a lot of ways, I consider myself extremely fortunate. I have an amazing wife, three great kids, a chorus of wonderful individuals, a quartet of my three best friends here in Pittsburgh, and a supportive family. My job is filled with good people, and they think highly of me and give me responsibilities that have challenge and merit.

One of the biggest ones? My children have never developed the "I'm too big for this" crap. I've never had to convince any of them to play with whatever toys are available, and any play area - even when meant for little littles - is fun for all three boys (with careful supervision and instruction that they are to be with their baby brother at all times).

This morning, the characters from the Super Why TV show showed up at the Mall at Robinson, about forty minutes west of us. We drove down, waited for a half hour in line, and took a nice picture of the boys with them. It was worth it, and all had fun.

Right now, we're playing in the small kids play area. 1 and 2 are following 3 around, and they d manufactured a super hero rescue story to keep themselves entertained. I've only had to step in twice: once when a couple of twelve year old boys knocked over a couple of babies while roughousing, and once when the boys started to fight.

I'm just thinking of how difficult it would have been to do this, if 1 and/or 2 had decided that they were too old or big to meet Super Why or to play together.

I'm lucky.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Back to School, for a day

Today, I had the unbelievable honor of speaking for an audience of music educators on behalf of the Barbershop Harmony Society. I gave a mini lecture on the benefits of singing barbershop in their classrooms and a listing of the resources available to music teachers from both the Barbershop Harmony Society and Sweet Adelines International. It was wonderful!

It was a bit of a hike: about two hours north of town, so I got a nice, early start. I arrived at around 9:30 and took some time to set up. As the people there are techies also, I wound up using their Apple TV to play the video and audio clips that were part of my presentation.

Kay Seymour, the director of the Pride of Toledo chorus, was my co-presenter, and we worked fabulously well together. She spoke on the history of SAI and what barbershop was and what the function of the four parts was. She spoke about the educational opportunities available from SAI.

I spoke about the BHS and what they could do, starting with singing a tag (Kay was thinking about teaching a tag and, in a case of "great minds think alike," we both picked the same one), and continued with playing a video from the BHS about how great barbershop is. This video included footage from the midwinter convention last month, which was literally hot off the presses. I then skipped my stuff that echoed Kay and told about the various places to go to get free music and support for their programs.

Many, many sincere thanks to Steve Luxbacher for 1) inviting us up to speak; 2) making it so easy to present; and 3) having cookies and coffee available.

Many, many sincere thanks to Kay Seymour, for being so incredibly easy with whom to work and for being a great mentor and friend.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015


So, we've been having some issues with our garage door punchcode thing: sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and I haven't had any time to look at it. Normally, it's not an issue.

Tuesday nights, I have chorus rehearsal and The Wife has orchestra rehearsal. That's Grandma and Grandpa Night for the boys: after violin lessons, they go to G&G's house for yummy treats and fun and games and playing. Grandpa piles them into the car, and they come home, use the punchcode to enter the garage, and eventually get into bed. Last night, that came to a screeching halt before the final step when the garage wouldn't open.

So, Grandpa took the boys back to his house and tucked them into bed. I found out about this at the end of rehearsal (not that I could have done anything about it, being an hour away and the director of the chorus and therefore in charge of the rehearsal). The Wife had I had a brief consultation, and she decided to pack bags for the kids and just spend the night there. While I love my in-laws, I much prefer to spend the night at my house.

So, I stopped over and kissed the sleeping boys before heading home, crossing paths with The Wife about halfway, talking on the phone with her for the duration of the trip. I got home to an empty, dark house, did my nighttime ablutions, and went to sleep: a dark, dream-filled, completely uninterrupted seven hours of sleep. Best part, even moreso than the sleeping: I got to put my car in the garage!!!

I got up this morning, had a nice, leisurely breakfast and shower, and hopped into a warm-ish garage, started my car right up, and went to work. It was glorious.

Don't get me wrong: I love my family and missed them. But, for a night, it was wonderful.

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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Do You Want To Build a Snowman?

This winter has been a crappy one for playing outside in the snow.

When it's snowed, it has generally been immediately followed by several 0 degree days, which are too cold for little people to go outside. Or, the snow has turned into rain, and it's taken juuuuuuust enough of the snow off the ground so that they can't play well. So, we have only been outside in the snow two or three times.

Yesterday was a "cold" day. It was around -6 degrees when I got up in the morning, and I never even tried to go to work. I just worked at home instead. It steadily warned during the day, and it reached around 25 degrees by the end of the day. It was supposed to snow last night.

We stayed at grandma's house last night to make it easier. The Wife had work, and the boys and I went to a Pittsburgh Symphony kid's concert. More on that later. It started snowing somewhere around 5am, and by the time we got through the concert and got settled back home, it was warm enough to play outside.

Today was not a sleigh riding day, apparently. All we did was make snowmen: big snowman, little snowmen, tiny snowmen, and huge snowmen. We had snowball fights as well. This snow was damp and packed incredibly well.

The Wife took The Baby home, and we stayed an additional 45 minutes before coming home. All were happy and not too uncomfortable, even though it turned to rain about midway through our outing.

Best part? No tears. No fights. No anger. Just fun and companionship.

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Friday, February 20, 2015

Pitch Perfect

Wednesday night, I had quartet rehearsal at my house. The Boy was sitting in the lounge chair in the living room, listening a bit but mostly playing on The Wife's iPad. We were singing songs in Bb and Ab, which relevant to this story.

We were shifting from an Ab to a B song, and I remembered a story TheWife had told me. I said, "The Boy, sing your A string." He thought about it and did. I said, "Now go up to first finger B and sing that." He did. I blew the pitch pipe, and he was dead accurate with the pitch.

Go figure that the kid with hearing damage is the kid who inherits The Wife's perfect pitch.

At this point, we're pretty convinced he has it. Blessing and a curse, child.


He's also reading music quite well. He's working his way through some of the string books we have lying around the house. This child is fearsomely intelligent.

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