Archive for June, 2008

The leader of the band

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

There’s nothing quite like working all day, then jumping in the car and racing 30 miles north to play in a concert with a community band you don’t even normally play with (but you’ve agreed to try to help out your FRIEND who told you they were in dire need of bass instruments – and you’re always looking for a place to play your underutilized bass clarinet), hopping out 5 minutes before the concert, and finding your friend standing there next to the bandstand waving a baton at you.  As in, “the mother of the fellow who was going to direct passed away last night, so he can’t be here tonight.”  And no one else can direct, either. 

Somehow, I have developed the reputation of being some kind of jack-of-all-trades musician up here in the frozen north.  It’s a bit funny, really.  I was a good high school level clarinetist, and my poor mother beat me with a stick for many years to make me practice the piano, so I am a decent amateur-level musician.  I’m willing to jump in and help out when needed, which explains why I now have roughly 15 years of experience as a church choir director, too. 

So, I directed the Lyndonville Military Band for their weekly concert last night.  I did a passable job, but I’m hoping they don’t want to “hire” me for the job permanently.  Reading a 4 part choral score is a LOT different from reading a full band score.  It’s all good fun, and I hope the band members didn’t suffer too terribly as a result of my incompetence.  By the way, the instrumentation for the night was: 1 trumpet, 2 flutes, 2 clarinets, 2 alto saxes, 1 bari sax, 1 bass clarinet, 1 french horn, a bass guitar, and a drum kit.  I almost had to break into hysterical laughter when an older gentleman sidled up to the bandstand in between songs, and asked one of the flutists which band this was, and what night did they practice?  He was interested in playing, of course, and he was heartily invited to come next week to play.  How he could possibly think this band rehearses, EVER, after sitting through several numbers, boggles my mind.  Perhaps he just thought it was the director that doesn’t rehearse.

Aside from a fatal meltdown in a medley from “Oklahoma” after which I had to stop the group and start over again (which was largely my fault for missing a time signature change and tempo change on a page turn, a result of trying to conduct music when you’ve NEVER LAID EYES ON THE SCORE BEFORE!), we made it through all the pieces we attempted. 

And now I’m afraid my name will be added to the pool of potential “emergency conductors” in the area.  I will be even more careful to screen all my calls in the future (not that that would have helped last night, except if I had realized my pal was trying to get ahold of me, I might have known enough to not show up for the concert!)

Having recovered from that, today the kids and I are having a lazy day (it’s raining, naturally) of watching TV and playing with Legos, etc.  I had to make several phone calls regarding insurance coverage of my physical therapy for my knee, which is not currently resolved.  I’m trying to keep my annoyance about that from ruining an otherwise pleasant day.  Will’s in his room for carrying around the dogs’ water dish and spilling it all over the floor AGAIN, and Anna is lego-ing quietly.  Woohoo!

Here are a few pics of the orphan kittens we’re raising.  They’re almost 4 weeks old in the picture.  They’re butterballs.  After the first couple of days, we never had to worry about them getting enough to eat.  They’ll be looking for homes in about 3 weeks.

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This is Anna’s new shirt.  She hasn’t gotten to wear it yet, but we’re waiting for a particularly good occasion.

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And here’s another string of entertaining facial expressions from my kids on the fateful day of the Father’s Day photo session.

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Kids and pics

Monday, June 16th, 2008

vertical-combo-2-inch.jpgI have one adoption friend, who shall remain nameless (Teresa!) whose children (Meggie and Carson!) are so annoyingly photogenic that every single photo she takes turns out absolutely adorable.  My children are just stinkin’ cute in real life, but photographs are another story altogether. 

I was attempting to get a nice photo of the two of them together last weekend so I could put it in a cute frame I bought my dad, and send it to him for Father’s Day.  They both had new outfits, and Will looked especially cute in his “Handy Manny” button-down shirt and shorts.  Anna always looks especially cute (don’t know what I did to deserve that!)

So, we went outside after church and took about 1000 pictures, of which one (I will post that at the end) was quite nice, and that was only after I had to do some pretty fancy photo editing of the background to remove the posterior of some poor lady who was bending over to pull weeds.  And don’t ask me who it was, because I don’t know.  It was not an unattractive posterior – it just didn’t really go with the theme of the photo. 

I edited one series of shots that were all taken in the same location and put them all together on the left so everyone can see the insane variety of facial expressions my children can produce, all while presumably smiling attractively for the camera.  When I see how goofy my two nice-looking children appear in 99% of the photos I take, it’s really not at all surprising that I virtually NEVER appear in a flattering light in photographs. 

Below is one shot of three we attempted after arriving at home with the whole family.  We all actually look pretty nice in this one, which is probably why my camera had some sort of seizure and did something really odd with the exposure.  It’s normally a very reliable little camera, so I don’t know what possessed it.  I can only surmise that it was one of those moments in which we were so perfectly aligned that an angelic aura surrounded us and confused the camera.  I adjusted it a bit to tone down the contrast so sunglasses wouldn’t be required to view it.

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Here are a couple of other shots of Will and Alma having a polite conversation over cake, and the kids demonstrating their unposed cuteness, which is far greater than the posed variety, apparently.

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And here is the money shot, as promised.  This is the one that made it into the frame for Father’s Day.

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Anna and the hives

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Anyone who has been following any of Anna’s misadventures over the last year and a half knows that her little body reacts very strongly to things.  She had to go to the emergency room with a 105 + degree fever after vaccinations.  She has had other fevers that are quite resistant to fever-reducing medications.  When she has an itch, she scratches it until there is no skin left, and she continues to pick at it for months.  She’s just special that way.

Just about 2 weeks ago, she started to develop a few little itchy spots, mostly on her arms and legs.  They looked like bug bites, and I had a few in similar locations, and we were both outside washing my car, so it made sense that that’s what they were.  This all started on a Friday.  She got a few more spots on Saturday, and then by Sunday evening, she had more than I would have expected from just bug bites, but still not out of the realm of possibility.  And she felt fine, eating and drinking and laughing like she normally does.

This is how she woke up Monday morning (she’s in the bathtub trying to cool down the itch):

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They actually got worse by Monday night, but I didn’t take any pictures of that. 

We went to the doctor, who was singularly unhelpful other than to confirm that they were, indeed, hives.  In his opinion, this was an unusual presentation for reaction to insect bites, so he quizzed me about some of the common food triggers for allergic reactions of this magnitude.  We couldn’t come up with anything.  All we ever thought of that was different from her normal routine was some fat-free ice cream we had Thursday and Friday, which contained an artificial sweetener. 

He told me to use Benadryl or Claritin (I had given her Claritin the day before, and was unimpressed.)  We started Benadryl in the late morning, and I had to increase the dosing frequency to the maximum stated on the label, because she only got about 3 hours of relief from each dose, and the itching became intolerable after that.  Other than that, she felt great. 

Monday night was miserable.  We tried everything from cool baths to baking soda poultice (thanks to Grandma Winter.)  Nothing really helped.  That’s when I jumped the gun on her Benadryl, and we finally got her to sleep.  I slept with her, and she made it three hours, and I got her through another hour before I redosed her.  She got to sleep in that day, and by late Tuesday, things were definitely improving.  By Wednesday, everything was fading, no more Benadryl was needed, and in the evening, no evidence of hives remained. 

We’ve been careful to avoid artificial sweeteners, and she’s only getting real old-fashioned full fat and sugar ice cream.  We’re washing her clothes in hypoallergenic detergent, etc.  So far, we’ve had no recurrence. 

I experience hives myself every few years.  We have never ever come up with anything that triggers them, other than stress.  I just don’t understand how this little girl can have inherited my aggravating skin conditions without actually sharing any of my genes.  Amazing!!!

Half her life

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

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June 1, 2008 was the 38th-month anniversary of Anna’s birth.  Here is a little snippet of a post I shared with some of my on-line adoption friends last week.  I thought everyone else might enjoy it, too.

Many times in the first months of Anna’s life with us, during her
rejection of me and my frustration and fear that she would never
accept me, our dear friend Pat told me over and over again that these
kids are not truly ours until we’ve had them for half their lives.

Miss Anna was abandoned at 1 month of age, and was in the orphanage
until 6 months of age. She went into a foster home at that point,
and stayed with beloved grandparents until we came to get her at 19
months of age. At about the time of her adoption anniversary last
fall, we became the home and parents she had known for the longest
period of her life.

On June 1, she passed the 38 month mark. We have now had this
wonderful little girl with us for longer than half her life. She is
so completely our child that I cannot even remember much about our
life before she came. She looks enough like me that people who meet
us for the first time always assume she was born to me.

This feels like such a huge milestone in our lives, and I’m just so
thrilled that we’ve made the progress we have, in such a short time.
19 months ago, it felt as if this time would never come, but here it
is, and I absolutely couldn’t love this child any more than I do.

It will be much longer before we’ve had Will for half his life, so it makes sense that some things will be slower in coming for him and for us.  But, time is on our side, so we will get there, regardless of how long it takes.