Saturday, December 13, 2008

Holiday Concert Follow-Up

Because it received so much airtime, here's a rundown on the concerts we saw this season:

1. Berlioz Symphony Fantastique: it was everything you hoped for--witches, a beheading, percussionists running around like little Mii-people being chased by aliens, and twelve-foot chimes with a stepladder. There were also the symphonic dances from West Side Story and a piece by Samuel Barber (I only know his adagio for strings, so it was nice to hear another one by him). Rob was impressed with the mute for a tuba -- looked like a 12-gallon garbage can. Our neighbor Maestro K is the best kind of conductor, and the philharmonic really rose to the occasion.

2. Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Delius's Cuckoo, and Haydn's Surprise symphony. I wanted to take the kids to see this because they were familiar with the first and last pieces (Little Einsteins comes through for us) and I thought it would help their violin practice to see an orchestra live. Maestro K did another great job of explaining the pieces to novices (so useful to have students in the audience, scribbling notes for their inevitable papers and extra credit reports!) and he diviied up the seasons with 12 soloists. Maddie was definitely impressed. But despite having been taken just before the performance, from mid-Spring on, Will needed to use the facilities. They are both firm believers now in intermission. Rob kept them entertained during the second half playing composer hangman and drawing cartoons about Haydn and the sleeping king. I was pleased that by the next morning, the kids were pretty enthusiastic about it in their retelling to Sebi. But they asked "why did they have to be so long?!" Rob and I understood the point after attending Maddie's holiday concert where they performed 5 pieces in as many minutes.

3. Symphonic band. It was a revelation. Rob said "I didn't think you could get any geekier than orchestra. Little did I know." We left at intermission and got dessert (there were no coconut shells to keep us!).

4. The Motab Spectacular: we have been to this now for several years. We've seen Frederica von Stade, Audra McDonald, Renee Fleming, Bryn Terfel, and the King Singers (we were in Berlin for Sissel). Last night we saw Brian Stokes Mitchell, who has a phenomenal voice. It was the first time we took kids with us, since the minimum age is 8. But we're going to take a hiatus. It is just too much trouble to leave young kids for so long and to descend on the same city block with 21,000 other people. We were too late leaving this year, and the kids were so upset that we were going to miss the show. Maddie was crying and squealing, and Will was banging his head against the car seat. Rob and I were pretty philosophical about the whole thing, but I guess after enough train and plane trips, we've trained our kids to panic. The parking permit was a red herring, and we were just minutes too late to get in the door. Rob and I wanted to junk the whole enterprise and get some great dessert, but the heartbroken kids convinced us to try overflow seating in the tabernacle.

It was much better than the real thing. You can bring little kids. It's prettier than the Supernacle and doesn't have any cheesy decorations. The ushers are much nicer. You can show up right at 7:30 and there are still plenty of seats. And when Will decides he needs to go to the bathroom again 5 minutes after you took him, you can leave. We made it through Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring and ducked out before the organ solos or scriptural readings, which we knew would be dealbreakers for kidlets. They had their fill and got to see the bell-ringing, road-show-dancing, cow-lowing part, and then walk around and see the lights on temple square. We're definitely fans of the simulacrum in this case. And we each had a different favorite song: Rob's was Jesu; Maddie's was Through Heaven's Eyes; mine was the gentle beasts, and Will's was . . . Sleigh Ride! Ba dum DUM!

Will-O's Baptismo

While in Spain, I had a great companion who could not pronounce baptism in Spanish. I tried and tried to work on this one word with her, thinking it was perhaps crucial to her proselyting efforts, but I don't think it made one whit of a difference.

Last Saturday Will-O got baptized. He had grandparents and great grandparents and aunts, uncles, cousins and friends in attendance. Maddie Lou gave the talk on baptism and was very polished. Our friends sang a beautiful song. There were six kids getting baptized and it was a much larger affair than we remember Maddie's having been.

Evidently the floor was a lot more slippery in the changing room too. But I wouldn't know, because I didn't have to do much of anything but remember the clothes.

Afterward, we came home and had a nice lunch that everyone but me put on (the whole thing went well into Joss's naptime) and Will ran around with friends. I asked him if he wanted to open a present and he said "I know, I know, my scriptures." (so I guess you either choose surprise or tradition but you can't have both . . . )
And when the dishes were put away and the friends and family had gone, Rob and kids went with Grandpa Shumway in the truck and bought a behemoth of a Christmas tree. We had already decorated a fake one downstairs and I knew I didn't have the energy to make another one happen, so Grandma and Grandpa pitched in. There is nothing like three kids jumping up and down while you untangle and test light strings to make things happen. Now there is a tree, there are stockings, a nativity, the German pyramid and lots of trimmings. It was a lovely day.

Trying On Black

It has been a little while since I've been able to post, but I did want to report that I attended my first ever doorbusters on the day after Thanksgiving (I went out of altruism for the economy -- gotta do my part, you know?). Rob's sisters took me, and they are seasoned black Friday professionals. They read the circulars and circle what they want. They plan a route from store to store based on sale items, opening times and proximity. Then they split up. One goes for the circled items, and the other stands immediately in line. They are masterful.
I was just going to see the sights, and I think I ended up spending more than either of them. We went to the Waldemort first. I knew I was way out of my depth when I saw that the parking lot was entirely full and there was not a cart to be had. But unlike other Waldemorts, everyone at ours was pretty jolly and we had no problems there. Of course the first thing I found on my list was huge and bulky, and I had no cart. I hoisted it through the store to the back, where the crush was intense enough that people had ditched the carts. Then I had what I wanted, and a cart, but no way to move to the front! I finally contacted both sisters-in-law on the cell phone and after lifting my cart over a skinny spot, I made it to checkout.
Toys-R-Us was not so fun. The line stretched through the entire store, moved like molasses, and the prices were deliberately misleading. I'd never try that again. People were understandably grumpy. And finally we went to the Sears, which by 7:00am was busy but mellow. If you're going to buy appliances for Christmas, you are evidently a minority.
I had a good time, we packed B's car to the headliner, and we were back before the baby woke up. I thought it was a success! (but I did go to bed at 8:00 that night!)