Well, what a fabulous year for concerts! Hooray for Swire Coca-Cola perks!
It all started August 13th, with Josh Groban...... Some thoughts:
I was surprised at his stage presence. Really engaging, and quite hilarious, actually! Also, way more talent than just singing (and on a side note, he does have a tendency to sing flat live--the rumors are true. Still a lovely voice!): He rocks on piano. He wails on the drums?! He writes a lot of his own stuff, composes, etc. A rather impressive performer.
Then on August 31st, we went to Usana to see Heart and Def Leppard.... Heart being the love of my life, this was a fantastic night for me! My second Heart concert--and after nearly a decade, they still wail! Talk about talent! Ann can still sing like a rock star, and Nancy is still a smokin' guitarist.... loved it! Basked in it!
And Def Leppard was a lot of fun, too.... They actually sing a lot more songs that I recognized than I was expecting. And a really excellent light show behind them, which always adds to the rock experience for Chad and me.
But, in all honesty, Heart had me at hello. :)
Then back to Usana September 23rd, where we saw REO Speedwagon and Styx. Okay, couldn't have cared less for REO Speedwagon--they have never been my favorite. So I bore through their opening act for another of my deep musical heartthrobs: Styx! Oh, I've seen them four times now, I think.... Love 'em every time! Every time! I especially love all the antics of their highly entertaining keyboardist, Lawrence Gowan.
And finally, the Brooks Summer Concert series came to a close--in very un-summer-like weather (ahem, rain and almost snow!)--at the X96 Big A** Show at Gallivan Plaza in SLC. Talk about a fantastic final to our concert stretch.... over ten bands, lots of local acts and big names. Everything streamlined to perfection, so you never had to wait for the next act. Ah, beautiful!! So here are the bands we saw, and a few little thoughts about the show. And oh yeah, all of these next pictures came from the X96 website, from their Big A Show photo archive. So thanks where it's due: http://www.x96.com/home.
She Wants Revenge: Man, I could hardly focus on his music, because his happy hands were doubling me over! :)
The Airborne Toxic Event: Okay, loved the girl because, while I did know she was the moving violin part in "Sometime After Midnight," I did not know she was also a tambourine aficionado! Ha! So great! And the lead singer.... so much fun to watch! And for some reason, all Chad and I could think was, "Andy Bernard?!"
Anberlin: They were the surprise of the day, for me. I like them, and I enjoy many of their songs. But to see them live just ramped up the love! The lead singer, Stephen Christian... Holy Job Satisfaction, Batman! I've never before seen anybody so obviously in love with what they do, and it was so infectious! The energy was incredible, and he had us riveted the whole hour!
Switchfoot: These guys ended up being the surprise act for Chad.... Later, when we looked at the video footage he took, we realized about two-thirds of it was of Switchfoot. Chad couldn't believe how much he loved them. Really fun. Really interactive with the audience, too, which is always nice.
Neon Trees: These kids have a special place in our hearts, because we all grew up in the same city. Same stake, actually. So it brings us joy to see them out doing their thing and having all this success. It's also really quite entertaining to see the swarthy, eccentric, Bowie-esque Tyler Glenn in his element.... Love it! And the drummer--she's pretty fabulous, too!
Panic! At the Disco: Well, they were the show closers, the big finale. I was so excited to see Brandon Urie and the whole Vaudevillian gang up there on the stage, and all the grandeur of their show.....
..... But wait a second! Isn't that Tyler Glenn? What the--?!
Yes, Brandon Urie had malaria. Malaria, my friends. And was in the hospital. So the rest of the band showed up and did their utmost best to give a rocking show without their utterly fantastic and truly irreplaceable (as we all learned that evening) frontman. It was actually really a noble endeavor, despite the obvious void caused by Brandon's absence. The guitarist sang a couple of the songs himself. And then they opened it up to the other performers of the day. So Tyler Glenn came up and sang a couple. Brogan Kelby, King Niko, and some chick (who was not my favorite stand-in of the night). They fondly called it "Malari-oke Night." And really, it was lots of fun anyway. An incredible day overall! And I was wiped out after six hours of non-stop on-my-feet blissful rocking!
Ah, what will Brooks Summer Concert Series 2012 bring?? I can only imagine.....
Hey, back in August, I guest posted on a friend's website, the wearewomenproject.blogspot.com. Well, they asked me once again, so I wrote a little something this week. I'm a guest poster! Isn't that kind-of neat?! I think so, anyway. :)
And then look at the other posts on the website. Beautiful and inspiring experiences and thoughts from women in all different places in life. They talk about real woman concerns, and they share wonderful personal discoveries about life. I love it! It makes me feel hopeful, part of something, understood. Anyway, go read some. Lovely.
And yes, I am going to get on those other posts... Life is a bit of a whirlwind right now, but I feel the wind and debris finally settling. We will get there! :)
Hey folks! It's been a crazy month, and I haven't really updated for a while. And next week I'll have some great posts on the Brooks Summer Concert Series and Halloween (fantastic!).....
But for now, these are the thoughts--really, the declarations--that have been running through my head this week.
And because this blog is more for my children than anyone else out there, this one will be a little personal; and it actually may not make any sense to anyone else. But I need to get it written down; declared, as it were.
Let's call it My Mommy Mantra.
For those of you who have read very many of my blog entries (or who just know me well), you know that I really can fret about my motherliness (is that a word?). There are fantastic weeks interspersed with weeks where I officially decide I have zero maternal instincts, and my poor children would be better with--well, frankly, with my sister down in New Mexico (but really, everyone's children would be better off with her, even the ones with great moms).
This fretting, I know, is not new or unique to me. It's a mom thing. And I realized (perhaps re-realized) some things this week--a revelation, really. The revelation I had this week actually started with some scriptures from Isaiah (this is where it may not make sense for a moment or two--bear with me, I shall explain):
"But I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.
"Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments...
"Shake thyself from the dust; arise.... loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion."
Confused yet? Let me see if I can illuminate it for you the way it was illuminated to me....
I do this! I listen to amazing, accomplished women tell me that I'm not living up to my potential because I sit at home and play mom every day of my life. That I'm wasting my brilliance (and I'll admit it, I am rather brilliant) with meaningless tasks. They never come out and say motherhood isn't noble--even most of the worldly women recognize the importance of mothers--but they say it isn't enough. I'm not doing enough; I'm not being enough. I should be mother and career woman and community chair and PTA president and a scholar and..... on and on. I shouldn't just be a housewife.
And I buy it. They criticize my role, they say, "Bow down, that we may go over." And I do! I "lay my body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over." All too often I agree with their criticism. I say, "You're right. Look at everything you're accomplishing in this wide world. I'm doing nothing." I bow down. I let them walk all over me.
And this last week, after much pondering and discussion with dear friends and watching the beauty of my children--mostly after just watching my beautiful children--I was jolted. I was awakened!
My children--my 24 hour a day, 7 day a week, all-consuming job called Coren and Risa--they are my strength! Yes, they wear me out; but they vitalize me too. When they learn new skills, accomplish new tasks, they want to tell me about it. Their mother. When they need to feel loved in this big empty world, they come to me--and no one else will do. I am their mother. I am their love and their strength and their confidence. What CEO can claim that kind of primal importance? What professor or PTA president is that irreplaceable? What more beautiful garments are there for me to wear than those of motherhood..... Yes, of exhausting, monotonous, unrecognized, menial, enabling, empowering motherhood?! And if I have fulfilled that most unpraised of roles, I will have helped to create strong, able, decent people that will change the world. I can never do that as a scholar or a career woman or a community chair or whatever--not at such depth; not with such power. Only, only as a mother.
There is a fantastic quote by E. T. Sullivan, one that vibrates in me every time I hear it, that straightens my shoulders:
"When God wants a great work done in the world or a great wrong righted, he goes about it in a very unusual way. He doesn't stir up his earthquakes or send forth his thunderbolts. Instead, he has a helpless baby born, perhaps in some simple home of some obscure mother. And then God puts the idea into the mother's heart, and she puts it into the baby's mind. And then God waits. The greatest forces of the world are not the earthquakes and thunderbolts. The greatest forces in the world are babies."
I am that obscure mother, creating that thunderbolt of change, one weary day at a time. One beautiful day at a time. One irreclaimable day at a time.
I shook myself from the dust this week. I arose a mother. A happy mother. Loosed from my band of fear and failure and inadequacy. I am a mother, and I hope I give honor to the title. I am a mother, and I hope I never take a day for granted. I am a mother--isn't that marvelous?!
Look at that! The wild Charity Tree is finally being domesticated!
Chad and I have been thinking a lot about self-sufficiency and emergency preparedness lately.... Some friends have been hit kinda hard this year, and we thought, you know, you just never know if/when it's going to be you. So we've been stocking up on food storage, etc. But, as a result of said conversations, I have also decided to try my hand at the self-sufficiency side of life, which I am subtitling The Domesticated Side of Life. Because I feel like a pioneer. I feel like I'm learning all about living off the land and preserving food old-school style, and such.
It's actually quite liberating! I like the Domesticated Me!
Like this... Look at what I have grown!
And that's just a week's worth of garden pickings! I've got about 30 tomatoes just waiting to turn red. So we shall be doing some canning of diced tomatoes and homemade salsa very soon.
And as an aside, look at these:
You may or may not be a beet fan (I love them!), but you have to admit--they are a beautiful vegetable!
I also went to the park and collected a bucketful of crabapples and made syrup.... it's rather delicious, actually! And some neighbors let us come pick bowls of apricots and apples. So apricot jam and applesauce are also on the horizon!
Domesticated Me. Who would have thought?! And that I enjoy it! I am discovering this deep (and surprisingly large) part of myself that feels grounded--almost like being at peace with myself--when I am surrounded by good earth, by green things growing, by the natural beauties of this world.
And I have a hunch that I'm not alone.... I'm starting to think we are wired that way; and maybe we've just lost that. Which is (part of the reason) why we feel frenzied, materialized, etc, etc. Nothing is more calming than having hands covered in dirt and arms full of sunflowers/corn cobs/tomatoes/peaches/daisies/you fill in this space.
We are stewards of the earth, aren't we?.... Funny there should be a connection....
Sometimes I wish everyone could spend a day with my son. One full day with Coren.
Then they would understand stubborn. They think they know now...
I used to think he was a normal two year-old, with normal craziness and such. But almost a year--and countless comments--later, I understand that he's on the far end of the two year-old spectrum (two guesses for which end I'm talking here). People that I know, people that I trust, people that have had multiple children themselves, have commented on the....individuality of my son. That's when my own personal suspicions were validated.
Now let me say this: I am grateful that Coren is an individual!
He has some unique characteristics that just make me grin, that fill me up with humor and pride. This incredibly vivid imagination has just started to emerge from his little mind... and it is spectacular! And I know, growing up, the individuality of my son will be a blessing and a wonder.
But add the two year-old's quest of asserting independence, defiance, busy-ness, space-out-ed-ness, whatever, to the individuality.... well, that also makes for some great fireworks sometimes!
And, and...can I say this? The other tricky part is that others' advice doesn't work. It is hard to discipline when time-out, taking away privileges, and spankings elicit zero response. Contrariwise, it is hard to motivate when treats, rewards, and toys also elicit zero response. So when someone says, "Well, this always worked for my kids...." I try not to, but I zone out. Almost immediately. And I think, "Yes, it probably did. Because I've seen your child. They respond sometimes."
What I really want is some exhausted parent to come up to me and say, in perfectly blunt honesty, "You know what, my child was psychotic. Nothing worked for him. He's fine now. But I don't really have any good advice for you. Sorry."
Then I would know: That parent had a child like Coren.
I got that once. When I was venting about the impossibility of Coren one day, my dad--man who loves to talk, who knows just about everything, and whose advice I can swear on about ninety-six percent of the time--grinned and said, "Yep."
Maybe I was an individual. Maybe there's hope. Maybe we'll reach three.
(Frank Morrison's Dream Catcher, from the Soul Sistas Collection)
Well, today's blog entry can actually be found on an entirely different blog. Interesting, you say? It is, rather.
I have a very dear friend here on my street, and she is a member/co-manager (is that what you call it?) of a blog called We Are Women (wearewomenproject.blogspot.com). It's really a thrilling blog for me because:
1. It is written by ordinary women;
2. These ordinary women have extraordinary talents; and
3. The mission of their blog, the We Are Women Project, is to empower women to be happy being whoever they want to be, forgetting about the messages of illusory perfection we are blasted with everyday; oh, and
4. They talk about their strengths and weaknesses, which makes it all more real--thus, hopeful--for me to read.
So go check out the blog, if you feel so inclined. It's a wonderful pick-me-up on the days when you're just not feeling like... enough. You are! Don't worry so much! Smile! And go eat a whole watermelon, for goodness' sake! The world always looks rosier with an entire watermelon sloshing around in one's stomach.
PS. Go look at Frank Morrison's Soul Sistas Collection! His work just moves me! Doesn't this woman look empowered?! Anyway, go look: morrisongraphics.com.
And PSS. That watermelon comment is in no way connected to the Morrison painting.... I just happened to eat a whole watermelon yesterday; and then today I looked for art that depicted empowered women. No connection, don't freak out.
And Risa is One!!! The Big One! We actually had quite the shindig, which is odd for us non-partyers, but it was rather a lot of fun. We ended up inviting a bunch of people for the simple fact that her cake was large, and I don't even love cake; so there was no way we were going to finish it alone. Chad's fam was over (minus Toddums), and my Uncle Dan and Aunt Natalie and the kiddos, and our neighbors/buddies the Astins. It was a swinging little party. And we were loud and happy. And she's one. Can you believe that? I feel like we did her first year in half-time compared to Coren's first year. Madness!
And she's oh-so-cute!!! She has really started to come out of her baby-ness in the last month. She feels like a toddler to me--with all her opinions and dramatic tendencies (good and bad) and jabber and such. She is a treat! I think I never wanted a girl only because I could never imagine Risa. She is most certainly a girl. But she is magnificent!
Some things about Risa at one year:
-The only words she says so far (which, technically, are not words, but sounds) are "oh" and "uh-oh." But the "oh" is my personal favorite, because she very deliberately puckers her lips into a perfect round O every time she says it. Love it!
-Although she doesn't say words yet, she is a random mimicker. And we have heard her copy us a few different times, aping such phrases as "I did it" and words like "hola."
-She will "clap it" or "dance it" upon command. And she breaks into a huge smile each time. She will also wave upon command, but this is almost always done with a stoic face (for some reason, both my children are masters at the stoic face. Is this normal? It can be a little unnerving sometimes, it's so impassive).
-She can open her mouth wider than I've ever seen a baby do. Huge. Gaping. You wouldn't believe it unless you saw it yourself... I swear she must unhinge her jaw like a snake. It's big. Really big.
-She has a serious water fetish--which doesn't really surprise me. Coren loved water from birth as well, it seemed. But she takes it to new levels. We had a thunderstorm the other day, and she crawled off the porch, out into the middle of the pouring rain, and just grinned while she got soaked. And yes, I know that's fabulous parenting on my part, but it was pretty warm outside. She never got pneumonia.
-She is also super picky about the temperature of her body. This is one area where the girliness makes itself manifest. She will not sleep in a warm room. She will throw a fit if she starts to perspire. She will keep herself up at night until we've 1) turned up the air conditioner and turned on the fan full blast, or 2) relocated her to the downstairs, where it's 10 degrees cooler. She will pull at her clothes if she's getting too warm--that's the sign for me to take them off (even if it's just a onesie; sometimes even that is too much). She will climb out of her sleeping bag in the middle of the night, in a tent, in the mountains, and sleep on top of her blankets in blissful stupor, even though by morning her legs are freezing! She's hot-blooded, apparently.... What does this say about her as a teenager? I shudder to think!
-She does some very thespian things. She can turn a tantrum on and off immediately. She pants when she's excited about something. She has perfected the melt-your-heart coy moves, like snuggling into a shoulder or turning away with a demure smile. And she does all of things in a very affected way. Like she's practiced them, and it's a show. Is this normal?
-She loves fruit (like her brother)--she will stick an entire cluster of grapes in her mouth, chew for a second, then pull out the empty stem; pretty awesome, actually! She loves ice cream (shocker), pasta of any kind, eggs, more fruit, beans, crackers, and fruit.
We love the girl. She is a force to be reckoned with, as Coren is learning and beginning to respect. She is chunky and happy and sassy and a little more high-maintenance, and she's really good at winning people over in about ten seconds flat. She makes life even brighter, and she is constantly cracking us up. I'm humbled to be her mother. I'm grateful she is here. Happy 1st, Missus!