Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Class of 2021!!

Samuel had his Kindergarten Graduation on Thursday. Grandma Helen and Grandpa Joe were able to be here for it (Grandma Helen needed a crown, and their visit luckily coincided with "graduation".). Also, Daddy got to take off work for it. We are sure proud of Samuel. He has worked hard all year. He's been quick to sit down and do his writing assignments each week. He's also been a good friend to his classmates. His teacher says that he is very good at being kind and respectful. What a sweetheart. We love this kid!!

Okay, so it scanned in kinda weird, but you get the idea. Isn't he a cute graduate?

We also finally got our vegetables planted in our vegetable garden. Some of everything: tomato, zucchini, yellow squash, beans, swiss chard, bok choy, red onion, cantelope, butternut squash, and some herbs. Now, we'll see if it grows. It's been raining/drizzling ever since we put it in. Maybe that's a good sign. My in-laws, who were visiting from Western New York (where the weather was perfect this weekend), were so nice about the rainy weather. They just kept on saying that it was good for the garden, too.

Maybe I'll find some pictures from their visit.

look how curly Lindsay's hair is getting

the May Birthday Boys: Joseph and Miles Joseph

the happy hikers: Samuel, Grandpa Joe, Miles, Tim, and Julia

Wesley on the front porch

Miles with his new braces

more of my bed-headed beauty, Julia

Monday, May 18, 2009

Zieht uns hinan!!

I sing with the Larimer Chorale here in Northern Colorado. It's an audition, non-professional, community choir. Wherever we've lived, I've always found a choir like this: Buffalo, San Jose, Syracuse, Salt Lake City. It's a great outlet for me, and even if the quality of the group isn't very high, singing the great choral masterworks (Brahms Requiem, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, etc.) is still so enriching. It's like getting to see Michaelangelo's "David". Really. It's been such a privilege all these years to sing in community choirs. Sooo, back to the Larimer Chorale. It happens to be an incredible group. Mostly, it's incredible because of the conductor we have right now. He's so skilled. Every rehearsal seems like part private voice lesson, part musicology lecture, and part stand-up comedy routine. It's so great.

So, this past week we got the once-in-a-life-time chance to perform Mahler's Symphony #8. It's sometimes referred to as "The Symphony of a Thousand". It has two full choirs, a children's choir, an extra brass choir, a huge, beefed-up orchestra, and NINE soloists. For it's premier performance, there were over 1,000 people on the stage; hence, the nickname: "Symphony of a Thousand". That's why it was a "once-in-a-life-time" chance to sing it. It costs so much to produce, and it can be such a logistical nightmare to prepare and perform that it's not done that often.

It was such a thrill. When we were in California over Thanksgiving, the San Francisco Symphony performed it under Michael Tilson Thomas. My parents, Catherine, and I went up to see it. We were totally blown away. As the conductor of this weekend's performance wrote in the program, "Mahler's 8th is not just a symphony. It's an event. It really is the original surround sound." He was right, too.

The Symphony has two parts. The first part is a setting of an old chant text, "Veni Creator Spiritus". The second part is a setting of the final scene of Goethe's "Faust", a sort of meta-physical look at man's attempt to overcome his own self and weak tendencies. The last words are my absolute favorite: zieht uns hinan or lift us higher. Mahler's 2nd Symphony has a choral part, too. It's referred to as The Resurrection Symphony, and the last movement is about being lifted or resurrected. I love that one, too. But somewhere in my lowly, little soul, I think that the miracle of being able to overcome my own personal weaknesses through the Atonement of Jesus Christ will be a bigger and much more difficult miracle than the miracle of the Resurrection. Here are the words at the end of the symphony. I just love them.

Lift your eyes!
All that is earthly is only an outward symbol;
That which is inadequate, here will be sufficient;
That which is inexpressible, here will be manifest;
The Eternal Feminine (the Virgin Mary, or as I like to interpret it, the grace of the Savior)
Leads us higher!

If you ever get the chance to see this piece, really you should go see it. It's only about 80 minutes long, but it's magnificent in its message and its emotional force. What an awesome week...which leads me to talk about how this week was possible.

We had 3 hour rehearsals Thurs night and Fri night down in Bolder which is about an hour away. Then, there were the two performances: one on Saturday night and one on Sunday afternoon. Tim had some training in Bend, Oregon, so I needed to find some child care. If you count up those hours, you find a pretty hefty babysitting bill at the end of it all. So, I called up my lovely mother a couple of months ago to see she if she was up to the task. She said she'd come out and have my Dad join her. They could babysit during the week and then go and see me perform it on the weekend. They love Mahler, too! So, Tim flew out Wed afternoon. Mom flew in Wed afternoon. Dad flew in Friday morning (We picked him up and went over to the Denver Zoo. Why, you ask yourself, would Caroline choose to go to the zoo after a 3 hour standing only rehearsal the night before, knowing she had another that night? I should have known when I saw the 2 dozen busses in the parking lot that I was destined to not enjoy our trip to the zoo. Why don't I see these things coming? Anyway, to say the least, I was a cranky mommy at the zoo, so no one enjoyed themselves. sigh...). They watched the kids. Tim got home Sat afternoon. We got some babysitters and headed down for an evening of Mahler in Bolder. It was such a great night. We had a nice dinner at this Italian place on Pearl Street, and I still made it on-time for my 6:30pm call. Phew!

So, I'm still recovering from all the excitement. Little phrases of the music keep floating through my brain. It was so wonderful. But now, back to reality: I spent all day cleaning. (My ulterior motive: if I get the house totally clean, then I can justify putting time and energy into my flower garden idea. Why do I always need incentive to clean?)

Blicket auf! Zeiht uns hinan!! Lift your eyes. His Love/Atonement lifts us higher!! are some random pictures from the week. I think I even got some at the zoo before we all fell apart. Poor Grandma and Grandpa...

I got to chaperone Miles' class field trip to the Water Treatment Plant, another perk of Grandma visiting. I don't get to do this kind of stuff enough. It was fascinating. I just kept on imagining a James Bond movie or something. You could really see how someone could do some serious damage to our infrastructure if they wanted to. Do you all have drums of clean water in your food storage? Eeeks. We only have one. I'd better get more.

That same day Lindsay had her 5th Grade Exhibition. It's a project that they've worked on since January. The central theme was "Human health is affected by changes in ourselves and in the world around us", and yes, my child chose HIV/AIDS to study. Nice, an STD. She really focused more on the microbiology/immunology of it all, though. It was fun.

Julia, looking at the elephants.

Miles and Samuel with the elephants

feeding the Lorikeets

No visit from Grandpa Call is complete without a trip to The Dollar Store or Chuck E. Cheese. The kids lucked out this time and got both. Here's from your favorite place and mine (especially on a Saturday afternoon....): CHUCK E. CHEESE. Julia's not too sure about this ride.

Miles is in heaven.

Wesley hammin' it up, and yes, it looks as though the girl behind him is picking her nose. Nice.

Lately, Wesley loves to steal my camera and take random pictures. Here, he has caught his little sister in one of her favorite past-times: taking apart Mommy's wallet. Is it scary that she already loves shoes, credit cards, chocolate, and jewelry? What a woman!!

WESLEY, self-portrait, circa 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Miles' 9th Birthday

Monday, May 4th, was Miles' 9th birthday. It's hard to believe that he's 9 years old. I always feel this pressure to make my kids' birthdays be extra special. I guess it's just the mom-guilt thing I've got goin'. I think he had a great birthday this year. I know I had a great time celebrating with him. I just love this kid!!

For breakfast, he ordered the Grandpa Call special: waffles with strawberries, ice cream, and whipped cream. I don't think I had my camera out at this point, but just imagine: kids + ice cream + in the morning before school = heaven for kids. I have to admit I enjoyed mine, too.
Then, I brought some donuts to school for his celebration there. After school, I surprised him by taking us all to see the new Disney movie: Earth. It's the one that was released on Earth Day this year. It was awesome and totally up my kids' alley. We were the only ones in the entire movie theater, so I wasn't worried at all when Julia lost interest and started walking around the place, talking loudly. It didn't even phase me when Lindsay started in on her antics and ran to the absolute top of the theater for some reason or another. We never quite know with her...
Daddy was able to meet us at the movie. Then, we all went to Old Chicago for some pizza. The original plan was to go to Olive Garden per Miles' request, but we were all too full on popcorn and soda to eat a full meal. Plus, the Old Chicago was right there by the movie theater. Thanks again, Dad, for being the "voice of reason" and suggesting we wait until Grandma and Grandpa are here to go to Olive Garden.

Also, this week we got the rest of our vegetable garden in. Well, not ALL the way in, but it's all completely ready for the seeds. It's even "Daisy proof". Tim rigged up a great little fence that should keep her (and the bunnies in our neighborhood) out of our veggies.

I even tried to get a little artsy in some of my pictures. I hope you're all as impressed as I was. I just switched around some of the settings on my little digital camera. Remember the one that had the mysterious black dot in the upper right corner of every picture. Well, good news: the dot is somehow gone. I have no idea how or why. I'm just grateful.

Well, I'm violating my own personal curfew here. It's after 10:30pm, and I'm still on the computer. That's a no-no.
Here are the pictures:

Miles with his make-shift blind-fold (an extra outfit for Julia from my purse) Hey, sometimes ya gotta improvise, people! :):)

Ready to open his presents

Oooohhh, the excitement: a new WII game and CANDY!!!

I know, I know. I really out did myself.

Aaand, just for fun: the kids dressed up on "Dress Like Your Teacher Day"

A fun day at the park recently

Getting the final "riggings" done on the vegetable garden
My attempt at "artsy": a spring bud on our apple tree
There's just something about a warm, summer evening. Dusk when it's still warm and kind of late is just about our favorite. Julia had a late nap, and so she got to stay up and play with brother.

Getting spoiled with breakfast in bed on Mother's Day!! I am so blessed.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

It's May!

Definitely, the highlight of my week was going to BYU Women's Conference. It was nice to be relieved of the stress, work, worry, energy, etc. of the kids for a few days and just concentrate on filling my "reservoir". I flew out Wednesday night with my sweet friend Janell Lambert. I had to arrange all sorts of child-care for the kids for Thursday, but Friday, Tim was able to hold down the fort. I'm so grateful for the great profession he chose that gives him that flexibility.

Anyway, Thursday and Friday were spent in classes. Seriously, Thursday, I figured, I sat in the Marriott Center for like 9 hours (I went a couple of hours early to participate in the "Instant Choir" which was led by a friend from my BYU days. It was so fun to sing under her again.) Then, there was a couple hour break where we went down to the Smith Field House and put together hygiene kits, etc. Altogether, I think the Women's Conference assembled something like 13,000 hygiene kits. I might have been more, though. I'm not sure. It was awesome. I just kept on thinking as I folded two white towels together over and over again that these towels could be going to a hurricane victim in the Dominican Republic or an earthquake survivor in China. It was amazing.

Then, we came back for a Concert in the Marriott Center. I thought I wouldn't be into it. I'm not really one for the whole Mormon "Pop" stuff, but it turned out to be a pretty good concert. Jenny Oaks Baker played a few numbers on her violin that were seriously incredible. Then, there were a few other people who were more "pop" ish, but they were still enjoyable. I have to admit that Hillary Weeks was great. She was as much a stand-up comic as she was a singer-songwriter, and it was so nice that all of her jokes were clean and not vulgar. It was great.

I'd say the main thing I gained from the conference was a renewed committment to the basics: daily scripture study and personal prayer, regular temple worship, daily family prayer and scripture study. Nothing new and exciting, just the same thing they say to us over and over again. I'm glad for the renewed committment. It's something that has sort of been building in my life over the past month. It started with General Conference. Then, that very evening I got to sing Handel's "Messiah" with my community choir out here in Fort Collins: The Larimer Chorale. It was so enriching. Then, we had Easter which is always inspiring. Then, I was asked to speak in Stake Conference. It's been a great month for me spiritually. I've really appreciated and felt the growth that can come from fervent prayer and scripture study.

One cute, memorable story. Ann M. (as in Monson) Dibb spoke one morning. She seems to really resemble her father. She's a really natural, enthusiastic speaker with lots of great stories. Anyway, she spoke right after Sister Andersen (the wife of the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles). She got up and said, "It's so exciting to hear about what your family is going through with your new calling. I remember when that happened in our family. I was 9 years old when my Dad was called to be an Apostle. At that age, it's so exciting. The photographers come to the house, and you get extra attention. But then, we've just had a life-time of sharing our Dad with the world, and it's been wonderful. As he's gone out and been magnified through his service, he's come home and shared all that wonderfulness with us." Can you even imagine how much they've had to share their dad/husband? Wow. Anyway, I obviously paraphrased what she said, but that was basically her sentiment. It was just so cute, I thought.

I don't think I took any pictures the whole weekend. I didn't even bring my camera. Oh well. Who wants to see a picture of the boring Mom anyway. :):)

Here's a funny recent picture of a time when I thought I had finished bath-time for Julia, but she, apparently, had other ideas. Here she is after I'd already gotten her out and lotioned and dressed in her jammies. I looked away for one second, and there she was: right back in the bath with "Wabby", as she calls Wesley.