Friday, January 29, 2010

Marimba Misfortune

I wish I had the time to expound on all of the music in my life.  Someday I will.  I started playing piano when I was 4 years old and music has been interwoven into everything I've done since then.  Today you will have to be placated with the story of my marimba misfortune.

In High School, and on through Junior College, I was the resident catch all percussionist for the band.  I played everything except the snare, timpani and bass drums.  As a sophomore at Italy High I was encouraged to compete in solo competitions.  That year I competed in piano solo and marimba solo competition.  First I attended the district mete.  The piano judge was impressed and excitedly recommended me to compete in the Texas state competition.  Then I played my marimba solo and cheated and slurred through the difficult passage.  The judge wasn't fooled.  She recommended me to go to state as well, with a caveat that I practice hard.

I hardly practiced.  And, a couple of weeks later my older brother Dave, as my accompanist, and I headed to Austin, TX for the big state competition.  I played my piano solo for the judges first.  I was given a mid-range score.  But, they were very impressed that I had learned the solo on my own without a teacher.  Dave and I found some lunch and wandered around the school until it was time for the marimba solo.  We got there with a couple of minutes to spare but the judge was already waiting outside.  He asked if I had numbered my measures.  I had forgotten.  So, I frantically began numbering.  Soon my judge was joined by a second judge.  And, after a few minutes my judge asks, "which piece will you be playing."  I told him.  At that, the second judge doubled over in laughter.  A little flustered I looked at my judge.  He says, "I think I know that one pretty well."  At that point the second judge gains enough composure to gesture at the name on the door.  I'm sure the color drained from my already petrified face as I read the name.  The composer of my solo was also my judge!  How could I go on?  How could I fake my way through a piece he knew by heart?

Dave and I shuffled into the room.  We fumbled, slurred and butchered the song in front of it's maker.  At one point I made the mistake of looking up.  He steadily looked back at me and I almost dropped my mallets.  Needless to say I did not get a good score that day.  But, it is an experience I will never forget.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Princess and the Frog

We took Rachel to see "The Princess and the Frog."  Doug and I felt it was not comparable to the spectacular stories, songs or humor of "The Lion King" or "The Little Mermaid."  It was a cute story with some very funny parts.  I liked the princess.  She was a hard worker who learned that you can let down your guard and have some fun...sometimes.  

But, we were glad that Rachel fell asleep before the villain was introduced.  Doug and I felt that the villain and his voodoo companions were far too scary for a G rated movie.  Shadows are a concept that young children understand.  As a child I was prone to nightmares.  The idea that scary shadows could sneak up and carry me away would have kept me up for a month.

All in all, I could take it or leave it.  I probably won't buy it for my collection.

Chocolate free for 23

Hi, my name is Jessica, and I am a chocoholic.  I like all kinds of chocolate.  I like it hot or cold.  I like all quantities of chocolate, usually the more the better.  I can find any excuse or reason to eat chocolate.  I eat chocolate when I'm happy or sad, when I'm relaxing or stressed, when I'm sunbathing or snowmobiling.  I want and will eat chocolate.  The only way I can keep chocolate in my house is to give it as a gift to my husband.  Even then, it may not be safe if I get too bingy.  So, I am trying something new.  Yesterday was day 1 of "Chocolate free for 23."  I originally thought I'd do it for 93.  But, I decided to start small.  I am posting this so that I have accountability.  I will report back just before Valentine's Day.  Yes, I will be honest, good or bad.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Today's Mantra

I will not cry, like a baby, over...
  • spilled formula
  • spilled prune juice
  • ground up cheerios
  • stained clothes
  • the baby waking up early
  • the scale
  • the computer crashing
  • clutter
  • barking dogs
  • misplaced receipts
I will not cry, I will not cry, I will not cry.  Okay, maybe just  a little.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Leap Year (The Movie)

Doug and I went to see the movie Leap Year.  It wasn't flashy.  It was overtly predictable.  It was formulaic for a chick flick.  PG Rated.  The worst language was "poo."  There were no scenes that would have to be edited by your resident clearplay.  Amy Adams was charming.  Matthew Goode was handsome.  You know from the start that in 97 minutes the two characters that despise each other will decide to spend the rest of their lives together.  But, I loved it. It was one of my favorites I've seen in the last 6 months. Maybe it was the popcorn.  Maybe it was because I was sitting in the dark holding hands with my sweetheart.  Maybe it was because Doug and I fell in love so quickly.  I found this movie to be delightful and refreshing.  If you want to see a light-hearted, predictable, romantic, fluffy movie, go see this one.

Friday, January 8, 2010


This morning, while working on some of my Relief Society duties, I ran across a wonderful talk.  It struck me that many of us women, and the men in our lives, could use this reminder.  I tried to boil this talk down.  But, it is worth reading in it's entirety. 

M. Russell Ballard says, "I surely know that there is no role in life more essential and more eternal than that of motherhood."
"There is no one perfect way to be a good mother. Each situation is unique. Each mother has different challenges, different skills and abilities, and certainly different children.  The choice is different and unique for each mother and each family. Many are able to be “full-time moms,” at least during the most formative years of their children’s lives, and many others would like to be. Some may have to work part- or full-time; some may work at home; some may divide their lives into periods of home and family and work.  What matters is that a mother loves her children deeply and, in keeping with the devotion she has for God and her husband, prioritizes them above all else."

1. What can you do, as a young mother, to reduce the pressure and enjoy your family more?
  • Recognize that the joy of motherhood comes in moments.  There will be hard times and frustrating times. But amid the challenges, there are shining moments of joy and satisfaction.  (He quotes a woman saying:)   I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less”
  • Don't overschedule yourselves or your children.  We live in a world that is filled with options. If we are not careful, we will find every minute jammed with social events, classes, exercise time, book clubs, scrapbooking, Church callings, music, sports, the Internet, and our favorite TV shows. Families need unstructured time when relationships can deepen and real parenting can take place. Take time to listen, to laugh, and to play together.
  • Even as you try to cut out the extra commitments, sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.
  • Pray, study, and teach the gospel. Pray deeply about your children and about your role as a mother.  Parents can offer a unique and wonderful kind of prayer because they are praying to the Eternal Parent of us all.  There is great power in a prayer that essentially says, “We are stewardparents over Thy children, Father; please help us to raise them as Thou wouldst want them raised.”
2.  What more can a husband do to support his wife, the mother of their children?

  • Show extra appreciation and give more validation for what your wife does every day. Notice things and say thank you—often. 
  • Schedule some evenings together, just the two of you. 
  • Have a regular time to talk with your wife about each child’s needs and what you can do to help.
  • Give your wife a “day away” now and then. Just take over the household and give your wife a break from her daily responsibilities. Taking over for a while will greatly enhance your appreciation of what your wife does. You may do a lot of lifting, twisting, and bending!
  • Come home from work and take an active role with your family.  Don’t put work, friends, or sports ahead of listening to, playing with, and teaching your children.
 3.  What can children, even young children, do? 
  • You can pick up your toys when you are finished playing with them, and when you get a little older, you can make your bed, help with the dishes, and do other chores—without being asked.
  • You can say thank you more often when you finish a nice meal, when a story is read to you at bedtime, or when clean clothes are put in your drawers.
  • Most of all, you can put your arms around your mother often and tell her you love her.
4.  What can the Church do?

  • ... be especially watchful and considerate of the time and resource demands on young mothers and their families. 
To access this talk...  Click on "Sunday Afternoon Session."  The talk is "Daughters of God" by M. Russell Ballard

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Please don't make me eat THAT

One of my friends asked:   "Have you ever eaten something that you didn't like so you didn't hurt feelings? And have you ever made something that someone (besides family) told you they absolutely hated?"  I began to write a reply.  But, when the response became an essay I decided it would be fun to field the question on here.

When I was younger I liked hosting fancy dinner parties.  In college they were usually accompanied with a "How to Host a Murder" game.  I tried to match the meal to the setting of the game.  I often tried new recipes on my unsuspecting guests.  There were times that nobody ate one or more of the items.

My biggest disappointment occurred with family.  One Christmas I made a four course meal for family and some friends.  There were quite a few who flat out refused to eat some of the dishes.  The biggest objection was to the vichyssoise, a cold potato soup similar to gazpacho.  Plus, they wanted to have all of the courses at once.  I haven't tried serving an elegant meal to my family since that episode. 

Now eating food I don't like is a whole other kettle of fish... literally.  When I was a kid I was fed, by my 7 older siblings, many "delicacies."  I tried unsweetened cocoa, banana peel, and peanut butter and bologna sandwiches.  Perhaps that is where I gained my picky eating.  It's only been in the last decade that I have begun being adventurous in my food choices. 

I tried a lot of foods during my dating years.  I always wanted to be "cool."  I'm not a fan of peaches.  I went on a weekend excursion with a guy a really liked.  He stopped in a little town in Wyoming.  When I got back from the little girls room he presented me with a peach.  He declared that he had spent time picking the very best peach for me.  So I ate it.  I praised him for picking this delectable treasure for me.  I vowed, to myself, that if we got married I'd have to tell him I didn't like peaches.  It bit me again later that trip when he showed up with a peach shake from the local market.  He said he knew he had to get me one because I loved peaches so much.  Darn my acting ability!

My mission forced me to kick my eating strange food up another level.  I ate everything placed in front of me.  Virginia is not another country.  But, people can still come up with odd foods.  Luckily, I never had to try chitlins.

Now I try to keep an open mind.  There are foods I still don't eat on my own.  But, if you invite me to dinner I will try most of what is placed in front of me.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

10 goals of 10 in 2010

We are already 2 days into the new year.  Many people have already made their new year's resolutions.  Some have started working toward those goals.  I've heard that you are more likely to achieve goals that are defined and written down.  So, here are my 10 goals of 10 for 2010.

1.  Lose Weight.  Cliche, I know, but it still must be done.  10 pounds in 2010 sounds good.  Anything beyond that is gravy.
2.  Attend the temple at least 10 times.  I expect more than 12, but, you can see the pattern.
3.  Study the scriptures for at least 10 minutes a day.
4.  Write 10 blog entries per month.
5.  Meet and converse with 10 new people in the ward.
6.  Try 10 new recipes.
7.  Give 10 things to charity each month.
8.  Do 10 acts of random kindness.
9.  Have 10 adventures with Doug and Rachel.
10.  Read 10 books.