Saturday, November 21, 2009

Drums or Trombone

Our family is bracing for Caleb's first year of band next year. He went for his blow test about a week ago and came back saying that he wanted to play saxophone or trombone. But that the band director said something along the lines of, "You'd really like the trombone wouldn't you?" I think this is on account of Caleb's long arms. Having long arms is a really great asset for a third grade trombone player. Anyway, I'd just become accustomed to the idea of a trombone player in the house when I found out he was really on the list for percussion!

In all honesty, I've been leveraging every bit of influence I have toward the percussion for the last two years for the purely selfish reason that if he plays the percussion then I don't have to lug around a case bigger than Caleb. At every church service, concert, whatever, I'd point at the drummer and comment, "Doesn't the drummer look like he's having fun?" "Look, Caleb, if you are a drummer you don't have to wear shoes to church!" I don't know why that is really, it just seems that every church drummer goes barefoot. "Doesn't that drummer have cool hair?" You can't really tell by looking, but Caleb is very into his hair at the moment. I found a really great rendition of The Drummer Boy by Brave Combo. I play this over and over.

I'm sellin', but he's not buyin'.

He keeps looking at the third grade half asleep bass drummer plodding out one monotonous beat after another. And he's not impressed. And the coolly coiffed, blonde, barefoot guy behind the drumset at church? Well, he's a lifetime away for Caleb. Literally, the kid is probably sixteen. Caleb is eight. And, well, Caleb's criteria reflect his age. The clownish trombone slide seems like the ideal party trick, and the trombone most resembles the shape of a bazooka.

Doesn't this kid grasp the importance of this decision! I know men and women whose entire lives were determined by the instrument they chose for school band.

So here is the latest. I've sat Caleb down and told him that he is not wise enough to make such a monumental decision. He needs to consult the experts (to which he replied that he didn't need anyone to tell him that he didn't want to play the drums.) But we've agreed to talk to his piano teacher and get his input.

I talked to the piano teacher today. He is squarely in my corner.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I was going to write about Caleb's start at cricket. In all honesty after three games, I can't even begin to write anything beyond, "He hit the little ball with the flat wooden paddle and ran from one end of the dirt to the other several times. No wickets. Good for him." The wickets part is a step up from last week.

Sometimes I have to remind myself I'm in a foreign country. The accent has become familiar, and if I'm at a school auditorium listening to a reading teacher list good books for preschoolers, it feels very familiar. The books are largely the same. Mem Fox, being Australian, is big over here. Moms ask about the schools approach to reading instructions--whole language vs. phonics, etc. I could be in any suburban setting in the U.S.

And then I'm confronted with the odd idiosyncrasies of Australia--Christmas and flip-flops, Swimming lessons and Santa, and then the strangest of all: Aussies and Cricket. My understanding of Cricket is limited, but to me it seems to be a baseball game that has overdosed on Quaaludes. This time of year we often see grown men dressed in white shirts, white vests, white knickers, white socks milling about watching a guy run full speed from what would be center field in baseball (relatively speaking) with a white ball that at the last second he hurls at a guy with a white paddle. After that, they usually have tea. Seriously, afternoon tea is part of the game. Short cricket matches last an entire day, and at the end of the day their uniforms are still white. But cricket can often go one for three to five days and right now that is what we are witnessing at the moment. It is the Ashes Series here in Australia, and in the last go around for the first time in something like twenty years the Aussies lost. It is a tense time here in the antipodes.

The Ashes series began in 1882 when Australia, went to England and beat the "barmy army" at their own game. The Sporting News, after a humiliating loss to a bunch of convicts and the descendants of former *sniff, sniff* English peasantry, declared that English cricket had died and that the body would be cremated. Eventually an Australian, in a gesture entirely characteristic of Aussie humor, presented an urn carrying the English cricket remains, and to this day this is the "cup" that they play for. It's a tiny little thing and looks a lot like the trophy I won when I spent one summer on a wooden bench watching my softball team place third in the fillies league.
And if you are like me and you wonder why NBA finals are best of seven games instead of five or three, then you'll be simply bowled over by the Ashes series: Five games, each game lasts five whole days. So of course, why not break for afternoon tea.

I can understand why such a sport goes over in the UK. Mainly because there are a whole host of items (the British version of The Office, Borat, the Royal Family) that entertain the British (called Pommies here, and often spoken of with good humored disdain) that elicit a yawn in the States as the T.V. channel is switched to NASCAR, My Name is Earl, or even celebrity poker. But I don't understand why Australians find it so appealing. This is, after all, the country that introduced the world to the Crocodile Hunter, Crocodile Dundee, and Mad Max. I doubt the Man from Snowy River ever dressed in white nickers, polo shirt, and v-neck, then played a sport that breaks for tea. But cricket is serious business over here and I heard on the radio that two bowlers had been expelled from the league after having taken steroids. It took me a week to realize they weren't talking about lawn bowling, but still, I think the irony remains.

This is a foreign country.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Be Rich. Do more. Give more.

This Christmas season is going to be different for our family. Typically I procrastinate. But we've lived for two seasons without established Christmas traditions and it is time we establish some. In the past I relied upon the traditions established by my family. And I was quite happy with them, though Eric got a bit weary of basically driving a lone star pattern across Texas to visit all of, now our family. He realized how tied I was to my Christmas traditions on the first year of our marriage. Always the early riser in the morning, Eric wanted to get up. I grabbed his arm, and between clenched teeth said, "Eric, no! He won't come! If you get up before mom and dad knock on our door and tell us to come down stairs then Santa won't come!"

So now we are in need of new traditions even though we are going to go back to Texas for Christmas this year. But this year as a family we've elected to concentrate on the giving aspect of the season. We don't need anything else. And it ends up being one more thing that we have to move. So at my mom's suggestion we are doing something different this year. Instead of buying one another gifts we are going to focus the generosity of the season on others who might be less fortunate in this world. (The kids will get a Christmas, we aren't doing away with everything.)

I think we will begin here: Andy Stanley gives a good explanation of the motivation behind Christian generosity, I believe the Christian reason for generosity is unique because The New Testament motivation for giving does not revolve around repayment or guilt (already taken care of). Our family is going to go into the Christmas season with a sense of gratitude for who God is. The campaign gives a website to help our family or friends and family discuss what we might do as a group. It is worth a look.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I'm moving

Okay that is old news, but what I mean is that I'm moving my blog. I will now be posting here.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Toni Writes

Here is Toni's blog. Toni and I grew up in Athens together. She was (and still is) two years older than me. My first encounter with Toni was in soccer. They didn't have enough boys and girls to have separate leagues so they put us all in together and Toni was the most feared soccer goalie in the league.

Later on we would be friends in high school.

She went to Texas A & M and became a columnist for the Battalion. She married Roy. They moved back to Athens (not a bad place to go to back to in my opinion.) and she became editor of the local paper. She has two children that Caleb loves to play with and we have cute videos of them from my sister's wedding.

Toni and Roy host the annual Clay Crayfish boil and this past year I think we all consumed 150 lbs. of crayfish. It was great!

Okay, now, if anyone wants a "19 inch TV with a wall mount, a roll top desk, an armoire that can either house a computer or an infants clothes and diapers, or enough Christmas lights to Griswald your house for the holidays please stop by our home in Grapevine. Just go down Hall Johnson road and look for the orange signs. (Sorry, for shamelessly plugging my garage sale in a post about you Toni--at this point I can't help myself.)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A few last pics

We will be leaving the Dallas area on Saturday. I think we will have one final garage sale. It just seems easier at this point to move everything out to the garage and have other people take it away. If I price things right (dirt cheap) that will happen.

Here are Caleb and Elise reading in the chair that is now at Sarah's house. Notice that Elise seems to be intently looking at a page with nothing on it. She just likes to mimic her brother. There are many memories in this house. We had planned to be here at least until the kids graduated from high school. After that, well, we'd have had to look at wheel chair accessibility, but we might have been able to pull it off. I had grand dreams for this home. Including a hottub in the bathroom that allowed you to swim underneath the wall into the pool outside and totally retractable walls in the eating area off the kitchen along with some sort of misquito solution. Okay, perhaps I've moved beyond the dream category into the delusion category. But the point is I had made plans. But it isn't just plans that change. When plans change dreams change.

I had a plan for how I wanted to live my life here--one that involved more than a house remodel--but God seems to have a different plan for us. And really it is on a moment by moment basis on whether or not I'm happily going along with it. I know the verse says "straight and narrow is the way" and sometimes I think a straight way should be easy to follow. But I am reminded that few find it.

I hiked the Hermit trail in the Grand Canyon. It is an unmaintained trail that leads to the bottom of the canyon. Perhaps the trail was straight, but since few passed along it, the trail was nonexistent in some places. So we seemed to be on the trail at times, but other times we were not. In those places we would look for Rock cairns. People who had gone before had taken rocks and piled them one atop the other so that others that followed would know the way. Considering that at one point we walked over the bones of a dead mountain sheep that I imagined had lost his way, those rock cairns were very helpful.

Okay, well, the movers are here and today we are packing up the computer. It seems I've lost my way on this post. But I'll throw it out there today and try to make sense of it later.

Also, we may be at church Saturday Night (I can't be for certain). If we are, we would love to meet everyone in the coffeeshop one last time.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Moving Day

I won't blog about the following:

  • The "glitch" in the paperwork that is holding up the visas for Caleb and Elise. We might have to just leave them here. And honestly, there were times today that I would have been okay with that. I love my children. I keep reminding myself of that.
  • The insurance three-ply form. This is where I write down everything we are taking, how much I think it is worth, and where and how it is going.
  • I still have a garage sale left. We just keep coming up with stuff to get rid of. Lamps, lawn mowers, fertilizer spreader, chain saw, a slip cover for the chair. We used to have one for the couch but now it has a red sort of hazy stain on it. Kind of ruins the purpose of a slipcover.
  • How I sort of "lost it" and decided--on a whim--to try the primal scream tension release technique that was so popular in the sixties. There is a reason that died out. It just upset the kids. And now Eric is tense. So much for the stress relief.

Instead I will blog about the things I hope to remember about this experience.

  • My children helping to unload the sandbox that their dad built them (with a little help from his son), and then sitting in the wheel barrow to play in the sand.
  • My children hiding around the boxes.
  • Caleb happily pitching in to take trash to the curb. Little boys really try so hard to please.
  • And I have to say the corporate relo is the way to go. I was very frazzled (and am still a bit stressed on other matters) last night, but this morning four very competent, very nice people who spoke in encouraging low voices showed up at my door. They didn't say, "Lady, what are you thinking, you are nowhere near ready for us to come." They just asked me where I wanted to send all this stuff and then began packing. (We are sending some stuff by air, some by sea, and some into storage. And not knowing where we are going to live makes these decisions difficult.)
  • Okay here is one more picture. This is what my house looks like right now.
Okay, I have to stop now because the Mavs are winning and the only way for Eric to watch is on our computer. The basketball playoffs have been hard to come by in Sydney. Oh . . .Oh, he is starting to convulse. . . .

Oh, and Dad, I was just kidding about the chain saw. You can pick it up this weekend.