Sunday, December 20, 2009

Childlike Joy

I spent the last week being "dance mom extraordinaire" as my daughter's dance studio had their annual Christmas program.

I have complained about all the stress and work that goes into it from the Mom perspective in the past, and while I've made a conscious effort not to do so over the past year, I'm sure I will do it again. Yet even with the hassles of dealing with extended family coming and being present, I am finding that that matters less and less and the complaints are less frequent.

Why? Because for my child dance is just pure joy. She loves it. She always has. I remember taking her to her first dance class... she literally pushed me away, said, "Bye, Mom!" and ran in ready to go, just full of excitement and hardly able to contain herself.

Prior to that class, as well as since, her way of being in the world is to watch and take things in - to really get a feel for what is happening before joining in. Even as young as fifteen months this tendency was evident. The first time I took her to the beach she wouldn't put her feet on the sand. I tried setting her down and her feet raised up like a marionette. We did this a few times and it was amusing - lower her down and her feet came up. With a little bit of difficulty not to mention frustration, since I really wanted to enjoy the beach myself, I somehow managed to spread a beach towel on the white sand and she and I sat down together. How long we sat there, I do not know. I reached out and started playing with the sand while she looked around at her sister and her dad heading to the water. I'm sure I talked about what was around her, but knew not to push her. If we sat there for awhile that was ok.

After awhile, she stood up on the beach towel, then sat back down in my lap. She stood up again, took a tentative step on the sand, then sat back down next to me, placing her hand on my leg. A few minutes later, she did it again.

Finally, she stood up, took a step out on the sand and then took off towards the water. I remember her loving it, but she had to have time to process all that was around her before she could be comfortable participating.

Dance is truly the only thing in her life that I can say she has approached without hesitation.

Yes, watching her dance is something that brings out in me not just a sense of pride, but a sense of joy. Joy just emanates from her little body and one just can't help but watch her. I don't think I say that as her mom, although that role may color my view of her. All the hassle around the week is irrelevant, because her joy just fills the room. Nothing else matters.

Indeed, nothing else matters.

Monday, December 14, 2009

How I Love His Voice...

But really? Rob Thomas? What is up with these songs you are singing these days?

One of my problems with music is that I get caught up in the details. It's not just a beat - it's the words, the arrangement, the tempo, etc. If a song has sad lyrics, then the song should feel sad. Happy - it should be upbeat. Ironic has a place, I do realize, but I don't think the issue here is irony.

The two most recent songs I've heard of his on the radio - Her Diamonds and Someday - while I enjoy listening to his voice, both irritate me when I really stop to analyze them.

Her Diamonds was written about his wife and an autoimmune disease she has. Love the lyrics. Love the tune. Just don't love them together. It's just too happy. "Oh what the hell she says I just can't win for losing" - that is not an upbeat thought.

And Someday - love the way this sounds, but really listening to the lyrics. "Maybe someday we'll live our life out loud." Why wait for someday? Why not do it now?

And while I've been there - the lyrics sound like someone depressed - what's up with the catchy tune?

Clearly, these thoughts are not that of the mainstream. The songs are popular - I hear them all the time. Yet these are thoughts I had during lunch today and Someday was playing in the background.

Thoughts I had when I should have been grading. Like now. Grades are due in 39 hours.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Most Wonderful Time

One of the girls and my favorite things to do is listen to "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me!" on NPR, usually by listening to the podcast, because the 11-12 hour on Saturday morning is usually filled with something else. DD1 literally cheers every morning that Carl Kasell, the scorekeeper for "Wait Wait," comes on to do the news - she is a HUGE fan of his. Earlier this year I found out that they would be recording one of the broadcasts in Atlanta, and I managed to get tickets for the three of us to go as our family Christmas present.

So Thursday, I got the girls out of school early, and we headed to Atlanta - first to meet my brother and his new girlfriend [we approve!] for dinner, and then to the show. And the show did not disappoint.

Towards the end of the show, the host, Peter Sagal, made a comment that they were staying at the hotel across the street. The girls and I looked at each other. WE were staying at the hotel across the street, too!

The excitement just bubbled from there. We checked in, scoped out the place - the girls were excited, because I spent a little more than I normally would since it's Christmas (my goal was to find a place with an indoor pool) - they thought the room and the hotel was just incredible (side note - it wasn't THAT incredible, but in their eyes, it was). After about an hour, though, I managed to convince them to go to bed.

This morning the girls didn't want to get up, but I figured... free hot breakfast.. if the "Wait, Wait" crew is really staying here, we might see some of them at breakfast.... "come on girls, let's get going!"

So we did.

DD2 had to go back to the room for her coat. DD1 and I were in line for omelettes, and a bearded gentleman comes to the line as well. He looked familiar, and then he spoke - yep, it was Charlie Pierce from "Wait, Wait." I said something to DD2 about it when she got back, and she said, "I talked to him by the elevator!"

That confirmed it. They were at.. our... hotel!

We ate breakfast, and I recognized the show's producers sitting near us, too. DD2 decided to go up to the room - she was bored, but DD1 and I stuck it out, scoping out the place for other "Wait Wait" celebrities.

A little later I see an older gentleman coming down the elevator. It looked like Carl Kasell. Wait.. Wait.... It IS Carl Kasell!!

Oh, this is too good! He gets his breakfast, and DD1 and I decide - do we say something?

Finally - we just did. We went up to him, and told him we were big fans, and would be missing him when he retires later this month. I shook his hand. DD1 stood there smiling and just shell shocked! But oh, soooo excited!

We went to the room, told DD2, and then we looked out our door so she could see him. She wanted to go meet him, too, but I said, "No, that's rude - we've already been rude enough," but we did decide we would complete our celebrity stalking by taking a picture of him from our hotel room door:

The girls then went swimming, and by the time we came out, there were no signs of any NPR celebrities.

We spent the rest of the afternoon doing a little shopping, having lunch at my parents' house, and then venturing back home so DD1 could go caroling this evening.

On the way home, DD1 and I started talking - somehow we got on the subject of the divorce, and she made the comment that I'm happier now, and that we do more fun things than we we used to do. Probably true.

But what I got out of that conversation is that - for right now, at least - we are on the same wavelength. She likes to go shopping with me, she likes spending time with me, and more than that - she wants me to "get" her. And while I really did enjoy going to see "Wait, Wait" - watching her face, and seeing her genuine excitement to see Carl Kasell both last night and this morning - wow. It was just awesome.

That was the best part of this Christmas present for me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I'd Like One Demigod, Please

Since I have so much to grade, the logical thing to do this week is to read some books I've been wanting to read, right?

So it would seem. Since Sunday, I've read books 3, 4, and 5 in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series by Rick Riordan. These books are phenomenal, and per my usual, when a book [or in this case, books] is really good, I get sucked in and cannot stop reading it.

I started reading the series at DD1's request at dinner a few months ago. We finished book 2 at dinner on Sunday night. DD2's face during the last 2 pages of the book was one that I shall not forget for a long time. She had that look of, "I KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN!!" and she was sooooo excited. I think that is a true testament to the power of these books.

I now know more about Greek mythology than I ever did before, and mainly because the stories were present day and just so well written. Throw in a handful of modern day demigods, and they start on quests just like the heroes of old where they deal with many of the same problems [monsters, labyrinth, going to the underworld...] but in a setting that is familiar to us - the United States.

I could not put the books down. Every "spare" moment I've had since Sunday night I've been reading. Such satisfaction when the series ended, too.

Grading... tomorrow... gotta happen, though.