Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Fashion faux pas

Its been a lazy morning....paying bills, looking on-line for ideas for some upcoming family birthdays, downloading a couple of books for my kindle, reading blog posts, etc. It wasn't till 12:30 that I realized that due to Lilian's early-out school schedule this week, if I wanted to run any of the errands that I had on my to-do list for today, I had to get ready fast...only one hour till she stepped off the bus. In my rush to get ready, I toyed with the idea of just putting on what I wore yesterday. I had only worn it half the day after all. And I thought it was a rather cute outfit. Light colored jeans, a longish orange shirt with white swirly designs on it, a dark blue denim looking blazer and to cap it off...grey heeled ankle boots, a silver dinosaur necklace and silver earrings.

I pulled on the jeans, but decided on a different shirt...cream and red stripes instead. Same jacket, earrings and necklace but decided against the high heels in favor of some brown riding boots. A quick make-up job and I was out the door, heading to the local craft store feeling like I looked pretty cute, even if my outfit was very similar to what I wore yesterday. I didn't figure it was likely that anyone would notice.

At the craft store I was surprised to see a woman that I recognized. I did not know her and up until yesterday I'd never even seen her before. But she had stood in front of me in the long check-out line at Fresh Market grocery store the evening before. And because I was bored and enjoy people watching, I found myself watching her closely...making up stories for why she was buying so many microwave TV dinners, why she chose to wear that attention-getting faux animal print coat. Under the coat she was wearing a vest with a logo, a tutoring company of some sort....had she come straight to the store from work? Blonde hair, pretty, but probably a good 10-years older than I was. Close scrutiny, but no judgement....just people watching, as some people do.

So when I passed by her at the craft store, I immediately  knew where I'd seen her before. How funny to run into her just a few hours later at a different store. I saw a flash of recognition in her eyes as well. I didn't think she had really noticed me yesterday at all, especially seeing as I was behind her in line. But as I finished paying for my crafts and picked up my sack to head out the door, I felt someone tap my shoulder.

"Excuse me," she said. "Can I ask you where you got that jacket? I noticed you wearing it last night at Fresh Market and thought it was so cute."

Gulp. She remembered me AND what I was wearing yesterday? Could she have been watching me in the same why I had been watching her? Scrutinizing my outfit, wondering about the groceries I had been carefully placing on the other side of the divider between her purchases and mine...how clearly I must have a sweet tooth judging from the chocolate chip cookies and the 2 bags of chocolate blueberries in my cart, wondering if I had other children other than the 7-year old with me or if this little girl was my only or first, making up stories of what kind of job I might have, etc?

I told her my jacket came from Old Navy but she was disappointed to learn that it was not a current purchase so the chances of her finding it now weren't good. She then leaned over to whisper in my ear, "Oh, and by the way...your vent is still stitched shut."

Ummm....what? I thought she was saying I had a tag hanging out or something. My "vent"? Oh, that little flap in the back of my jacket? I reached behind me...yep, still stitched shut. I made some mumbled comment about not having worn it very often, and then continued out the door.

And then as I walked to my truck I found myself very decidedly embarrassed that I had been caught more or less recycling an outfit from the day before...and very thankful that I had at least changed out the shirt and boots!

Also, I immediately unstitched my "vent" when I got home.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Piano practicing woes

My sisters and I all took piano lessons when we were growing up. Practicing was a big and time consuming part of our days...my mom had to make a daily schedule where we signed up for a specific slot to make sure we all had some allocated time at the piano. I got to the point where I was practicing for over an hour each day so I had to manage my time carefully so as to fit in not only practicing piano but also chores, homework, and then when I was older, other extracurricular activities and even a job. I even took piano lessons for two quarters at Snow College.

So as you can imagine, I assumed that my own children would learn to play the piano as well. But that hasn't happened. I started Rebekah and Julianne when they were little with my sister Katie as their teacher. And that was going fairly well....until Katie moved to South Jordan and we moved to Kaysville. The local teacher in our neighborhood was booked. After a year of being on a waiting list she was finally able to fit Rebekah and Julianne in. But by then, they had forgotten a lot. And I had new little Lilian who made it harder for me to actually sit down and practice with the girls.

Julianne was a stubborn perfectionist who always expected to get her notes right the very first try. (No concept, I guess, of what "practice" really means.) And when she didn't get her notes right, she would stand up, walk to the front door, step outside on the front porch, scream at the top of her little lungs, and then calmly come back in and sit at the bench once again. I can only imagine what our neighbors thought. Rebekah was less a perfectionist but employed more of a hunt and peck, play by ear approach to her practicing. She refused to look at the music, even after my explanations of the clues it would give her (up or down, by a step or a skip) even if she didn't know the actual notes. Her practicing sessions were punctuated with tears rather than screams. So after a little while, we kind of gave up. Oh, we had grand aspirations to work with the girls on our own....but it just didn't happen.

So there it was that we had two pianos....a Yamaha baby grand in the living room and a fancy Clavinova digital piano down the hall, with only me knowing how to really play them. The girls got older and busier. Brandon started gymnastics and the crazy schedule that came with it. And I started realizing that if I wanted a piano player in the family, it was going to have to be Lilian...whether she liked it or not.

I patiently waited until she was old enough and then signed her up for lessons this past summer with McKenzie down the street. Lilian was really excited at first. That excitement lasted for maybe about 2 weeks. It was interesting to see which of her older sisters she took after in regards to her attitude about practicing. That it was Julianne's stubborn perfectionism and frustration didn't surprise me overly much...she is like Julianne in many ways.

Piano practicing looks like this much of the time.
Or this.
I hear that this pose isn't all that uncommon at her actual lesson with her teacher. Sigh.

I like it better when we are having a good day and she looks like this.
Much better, yes?

She had a recital in December, with all the students playing Christmas duets with their teachers. (The teachers being two teenaged sisters.) Lilian actually thought that was a lot of fun. And she played really well, I was so proud of her!

After a long Christmas break, Lilian seems to be a bit rejuvenated. I'm glad. Because though at times I do entertain the thought of quitting, I'd really rather not. I don't have as many obstacles stopping me from helping her practice so though it frustrates me to no end to deal with her stubborn antics, I'm hoping that she will get to the point where she really enjoys playing the piano. I can't count how many times I wished I could quit when I was young...but I am so incredibly glad now that my parents never let me. That they stuck it out despite not only mine, but all my sisters whining and complaining. Because I think learning to play the piano and enduring all the practice time is a test on the student as well as the parent! Heaven help me have the strength to get Lilian through to where she appreciates it!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Viva Las Vegas

Las Vegas is becoming a yearly tradition. Interesting, because if it weren't for gymnastics we probably wouldn't be making Vegas a weekend getaway. And not because of its "sin city" reputation really, but more to do with the long drive. So I'm glad. Because I've really enjoyed our Las Vegas trips, this year being our 5th annual. That Las Vegas has much about it that is, well...just plain bad is not really up for debate. But if that's all you think of the place then you will most definitely miss all that is good. And there is plenty of that too. I think its in what you look for...if you are convinced the place is evil then that's what you will see. If you think Las Vegas is unique with plenty of family fun to be had, then you will find that too. (With reminders to your 13-year old son to not look too closely at anything on the ground. Although, there wasn't even as much of that as in past years.)

Brandon's meet was scheduled for Saturday afternoon, so Friday after school Brandon, Lilian and Rebekah (who decided last minute to join us for the weekend...I'm so glad!) and I drove as far as St. George before bedding down for the night in Bryan's parent's vacation home. It was nice to only have a couple more driving hours the next morning. We got there with enough time to fuel Brandon for competition (and us too, for our hours of time spent in the spectator stands...meets are really long) and get to warm-ups in time. It was a good meet...Brandon says he felt even better about this meet than the one last weekend even though the judges were harder and the competition more fierce.

(Lilian lost her tooth at dinner after wiggling the thing all through the meet. And then because she lost her other front tooth a few weeks ago and it is still only half grown in, she lisped every time she said a word with an S in it. It made me smile all weekend.)

But because it was a long weekend what with Martin Luther King Day and a teacher work day piled on top of that, we were able to stick around and play for an extra day after our main reason for the trip was completed. Sunday morning we started out the day at the Las Vegas Temple. A beautiful building, somewhat different architecture than the ones I'm used to visiting here in Utah. Interesting landscaping. But still that same peaceful feeling that tends to be associated with all temples.

With that solid start to our day, we headed to the Strip...not really having any specific plans (other than Cirque du Soleil later in the day) but excited to explore.

A stop at the iconic Las Vegas sign for a picture was our first order of business after lunch. There was a guy there offering his services as photographer. Free, he said. With a donation if you are so inclined. I was inclined, because I was grateful for someone to take said picture. And he was just a really nice kid.

After finding a parking space at the centrally located Caesar's Palace, we headed across the street to the new Linq hotel and casino. Brand spanking new, we enjoyed exploring the area. Lots of fun restaurants and shops in the outdoor mall area. But the jewel of the whole thing, the High Roller which opened last year. We decided to splurge and take a ride. It is the largest observation wheel in the world, reaching 550 feet in the air. And it takes 30 minutes to make a full revolution. Each pod can fit up to 40 people, but being that we were riding during the less busy day time (nighttime costs more when the view of the Strip is lit up) it was just the 4 of us plus one other couple. That the views were spectacular is a given. It was rather fascinating to see kind of behind the scenes, I suppose you could say, of all the casinos and resorts...what their "backyards" looked like and how enormous their properties really are. We're used to just seeing the front facade. And though it wasn't dark so the Strip wasn't lit up yet, we were just in time for the beginnings of a sunset.

And of course no visit to Las Vegas is complete without a stop at the Bellagio fountains. One of my very favorite things about the city...I find myself with a goofy grin on my face every time. I don't know why, but those fountains just make me happy.

And though Serendipity 3 in Las Vegas is nowhere near as awesome and eccentric as Serendipity 3 in New York City, the Forbidden Broadway Sundae is every bit as delicious in both locations....so we stopped there for dinner. And to rest our aching feet.

To cap off our day we hit the Beatles Cirque du Soleil LOVE. Though Bryan and I have seen a couple of Cirque du Soleil shows, the kids never have. And that has to do with the fact that those shows are on the pricey side. This was the year, I decided. I did my research. LOVE, because its been out so long, was the least expensive. And I then bought the cheapest seats up in the balcony on a 4-person pack deal. I'm not sure you could see Cirque du Soleil any cheaper. But when we arrived the show was not sold out so they closed the balcony and reassigned us all to seats on the main floor. Which meant that we were upgraded to the 2nd row! I was doing an internal happy dance as we walked to our new seats. But then after such a long day, would you believe I dozed off near the end? Truth be told, I did the same thing when I saw Ka a few years ago with Bryan. Apparently I need to not spend the day exhausting myself walking up and down the Strip before I see a Cirque du Soleil show. LOVE was awesome (what I saw of it, of course) and the kids loved it. (Lilian fell asleep earlier than I did.) 

The drive home Monday was long. Why is it that driving home always seems to take longer than driving there in the first place? Excited anticipation? A bored 7-year old who has already watched all the rented movies on her iPad does not make for a happy addition on a road trip. But we made it and 20 minutes later Rebekah hopped back in the car for another hour up to Logan. (I did not envy her...)

We had a great time. I'm already looking forward to our trip to Las Vegas again next year....