Friday, October 17, 2014

Magnificent Magnificat

Story time:  Once when I was a senior in high school, our first-year choir teacher introduced us to a requiem by one John Rutter, a then fairly unknown-to-me English composer.  Singing Rutter's Requiem was a marvelous experience that has stayed with me, lo, these 15 years.  I still listen to the CD I bought at the time on a semi-regular basis.  After high school I was in Men's Chorus all through college, and ever since then (almost ten years!!! OoO ) I haven't really sung in a great choir.  I've conducted a few ward choirs that are actually quite good, but it had been almost a decade since I actually had the chance to sing in one, and even longer than that since I was in a mixed one.

SO, when some friends (that I made in my Men's Chorus days and have stayed in touch with over the years) announced that a great local choir they're in was looking for a few new singers to boost their numbers for an upcoming performance with a local orchestra, my interest was piqued.  When they mentioned this orchestra was the Timpanogos Symphony Orchestra, which group I have heard perform many a time over the last few years, as my sister is one of their regular violists, I was further intrigued.  When I noticed the program was Beethoven, along with a certain masterwork by the aforementioned John Rutter, it clinched it.  (Though I should say that The Wife's support and especially encouragement is what really clinched it.)  I emailed to set up an audition, I was invited to participate, and for a couple of months I went to weekly rehearsals with the Deseret Chamber Singers to learn Rutter's glorious Magnificat.
Seriously, who can write harmonies like this man?
It's always so great to sing with a really good choir, and it was so much fun to get together every week and do just that.  (And not to be in charge of it, ha.)  I looked forward to every rehearsal and it was good to reconnect with old friends, make some new ones, and better get to know people I'd only heard of or met in passing.  And then, just last weekend, after a few joint rehearsals with the orchestra and/or soloist (and some scavenging of all the parts to make a concert-worthy tuxedo), we were all ready to go in our fancy concert black and we sang/played that Magnificat like no tomorrow.
Opening night!  It only took a few tries before I was satisfied that I didn't look too much like a goober in this picture.  Many thanks to all who contributed to my piecemeal tuxedo. (Or, to be more seasonal, Frankenstein tuxedo.)  It was the first time I've worn one since our wedding day.
I wondered a little if learning this piece would lead to loving it as much as I have his Requiem for all these years, or even usurping its place at the top, but I think the pieces and the experiences are both so different that both can reside in my heart and soul (though I do think that Requiem will always be number one).  I think Magnificat is a little more musically challenging, which was fun, and inspiring in a different way, but Requiem is really moving and moody, which I love, and of course both choirs were at different points in my musical performing maturity, and anyway, the point is I love them both.
A fun reunion with sister Cami from the old BYU Philharmonic/Men's Chorus days of yore when we used to play/sing together in concerts.  It was fun to accompany each other again.  (Except they didn't let me have a beard them.  Note also the various methods of the taming of the beast uponst my head, what I like to call the Leopold.  One mustn't look shaggy when wearing a tux.)
So there we go, just a little report/documentation of this experience, because I think it deserves it, and I really don't want to forget it.  I probably never will, since I've listened to the recording I bought before practices started every day since the concert.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I know I certainly did.  I said I would be sad when it's over, and now it's over so I'm sad, but only in the way that someone is sad when something wonderful ends.  Also, apparently I'm part of the alumni now (yessssssss [Napoleon Dynamite voice]), so hopefully I can get back into the semi-frequently-gathering choir the next time they get together, and I look forward to it.
Oh, and then there's the thing where I joined another multi-stake choir just because, and there was this other stake-ish one that someone told me about for Christmas, and also the choir in our new ward...  It's a good time to sing, apparently.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blogkeeping -- Spring 2014

Gosh, I started this on 8 August.  Time to finally post it already and clean out the sidebar list.  These are the 100 movies watched from October 2013 (bottom) to April 2014.

Saludos Amigos [r] ** 1/2 / Stuart Little 3: Call of the Wild ** / Stuart Little 2 [r?] *** / Stuart Little [r] **** / Die Hard With a Vengeance *** / Blue Jasmine **** / Die Hard 2 ** 1/2 / Gravity **** 1/2 / Drive ** / Life of Pi [r] ***** / Iron Man 3 [r] **** 1/2 / Muppets Most Wanted ***** / The Muppets [r] ***** / The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ** / Frozen [r] **** 1/2 / The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [r] ***** / Sherlock (Series 3) [r] ***** / Veronica Mars **** 1/2 / A.I. [r] **** / In Time ** / Bambi II [r] *** / Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters ** / Bambi [r] **** 1/2 / Captain Phillips **** / Dumbo [r] **** 1/2 / Love Actually [r] (TV version) **** 1/2 / Pacific Rim [r] ** / Pinocchio (2002) [r] *** / Abduction * 1/2 / Paranoia ** / The Talented Mr. Ripley [r] *** / Snow White and the Huntsman [r] *** / Date Night *** 1/2 / Ender's Game [r] **** / Fantasia [r] **** 1/2 / Austenland ** 1/2 / Chuck (Season 5) **** / Chuck (Season 4) **** / Pinocchio [r] **** 1/2 / Sherlock (Series 3) ***** / Beetlejuice [r] *** / Chuck (Season 3) ***** / Chuck (Season 2) ***** / Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs [r] **** / The Secret Garden [r] **** 1/2 / Monte Carlo *** 1/2 / Blackfish **** / The IT Crowd (The Final Episode) [r] **** / Nacho Libre [r] *** / Project Runway All Stars (Season 3) ** / Chuck (Season 1) **** / Mary Poppins [r] ***** / The Three Musketeers (2011) [r] *** / Home For the Holidays (Mormon Tabernacle Choir with Alfie Boe) **** / Fast and Furious 6 ** 1/2 / Saving Mr. Banks ***** / The Lone Ranger ** 1/2 / The Way Way Back **** / After Earth ** 1/2 / The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones ** 1/2 / The Wolverine *** / Newsies [r] **** / The Prince of Egypt (halfish) [r] ***** / Star Trek: Into Darkness [r] **** / The Muppet Christmas Carol [r] **** 1/2 / The Small One [r] **** / Mickey's Christmas Carol [r] **** / Tinker Bell: Secret of the Wings *** 1/2 / Pixie Hollow Games ** 1/2 / Man of Steel [r] *** / The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [r] **** 1/2 / The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian [r] **** 1/2 / Survivor: Blood vs. Water (Season 27) *** 1/2 / The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug *** / The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey [r] ** 1/2 / The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe [r] ***** / Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Season 1) (1/2) ** 1/2 / Kelly Clarkson's Cautionary Christmas Music Tale ** 1/2 / Die Hard **** / The Amazing Race (Season 23) **** 1/2 / The IT Crowd (The Final Episode) **** / Belles On Their Toes *** 1/2 / The Sound of Music LIVE! ** / Cheaper By the Dozen [r?] *** 1/2 / The One * / Frozen **** / Jerry Maguire [r] *** 1/2 / Much Ado About Nothing (2012) *** / Girl Most Likely ** / Thor: The Dark World *** 1/2 / The Hunger Games: Catching Fire **** 1/2 / The Hunger Games [r] ***** / Mary Shelley's Frankenstein ** 1/2 / The Shining ** 1/2 / Miss Austen Regrets *** 1/2 / Charming Jane [r] *** / The Odd Life of Timothy Green **** / Ender's Game **** / Addams Family Reunion * / Addams Family Values [r] ***

These are the 50 books read from January 2014 (bottom) to the end of May 2014.  A lot of children's books this time around.

BabyLit: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Jennifer Adams, ill. by Alison Oliver) ***** /  Peter Pan (J.M. Barrie, ill. by Scott Gustafson) ***** / Peter and the Starcatchers *** 1/2 / A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever (Marla Frazee) **** / Walk On!: A Guide For Babies of All Ages (Marla Frazee) ***** / Wonderland Creek (Lynn Austin) ** 1/2 / Alice's Adventures In Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass (Lewis Carroll) **** / How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague) ***** / The Boss Baby (Marla Frazee) ***** / Ella Enchanted (Gail Carson Levine) *** 1/2 / Cinderella: A Grimm's Fairy Tale (Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, illustrated by Ulrike Haseloff) **** / Cinderella, Or, the Little Glass Slipper (Perrault, illustrated by Marcia Brown) *** / The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (Washington Irving) *** 1/2 / The Wind In the Willows (Kenneth Grahame) **** / Little Owl Lost (Chris Haughton) ***** / My Dad Is the Best Playground (Luciana Navarro Powell) ***** / Jack and the Beanstalk (E. Nesbit) **** / How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague) *** / How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies? (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague) *** / How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon? (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague) *** / The Trumpet of the Swan (E.B. White) **** / Charlotte's Web (E.B. White) ***** / Stuart Little (E.B. White) *** / Dinosaur Roar! (Paul Stickland) ***** / Bambi's Children (Felix Salten) *** 1/2 / Dumbo (Harold Pearl) *** 1/2 / Extreme Opposites (Max Dalton) **** / Flip, Flap, Fly!: A Book for Babies Everywhere (Phyllis Root) ***** / Zia (Scott O'Dell) ** / Island of the Blue Dolphins (Scott O'Dell) **** 1/2 / Urban Babies Wear Black (Michelle Sinclair Colman) * / Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen (Serena Valentino) *** 1/2 / A Good Day (Kevin Henkes) **** / Snow (Uri Shulevitz) ***** / The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Sally Grindley) **** / Nutcracker (E.T.A. Hoffman) *** / Les Petits Fairytales: Sleeping Beauty (Trixie Belle) ** / Cozy Classics: Moby Dick (Jack Wang) **** / Romeo & Juliet: A BabyLit Counting Primer (Jennifer Adams) ***** / Pinocchio (Carlo Collodi) **** / Fairest (Gail Carson Levine) *** 1/2 / Snow White (illustrated by Quentin Gréban) *** 1/2 / Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm (illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert) *** 1/2 / From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (E.K. Konigsburg) *** 1/2 / The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) ***** / How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (Jane Yolen) ***** / Les Petits Fairytales: Snow White (Trixie Belle) ** / Les Petits Fairytales: Cinderella (Trixie Belle) ** / Cozy Classics: Les Miserables (Jack Wang) ***** / Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear! (Don and Audrey Wood) *****


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Five Years / Fifteen Months

So, as promised, here's my follow-up post about the happenings around about a month ago (I still want to do a post more about our house-buying shenanigans, but I won't bother with that just yet).

As it turned out, our anniversary fell squarely on moving weekend (or the weekend after, which is basically the same thing), so we didn't get a chance to go out of town or to a fancy dinner or really anything too special, except of course, you know, buying and moving into a house and everything.  There were still flowers and reminiscing about the blessed day five years ago, as well as anniversaries since then, but there was also a trip to Home Depot and a little frustration at trying to get this or that fixed or functioning.  It was enough to be together and have a nice place to live and be, and then we can celebrate more fully and appropriately sometime down the road.

After that we reached another little milestone in The Boy's lifetime, and at 15 months he's doing great.  His personality is definitely starting to show a little more prominently, and he's starting to assert himself (which is fun but also a bit bewildering at times).  He loves to make a mess at mealtime and is starting to be a little more selective with his preferred foods.  His favorite foods are bananas and Graham Crackers, both of which he will eat at pretty much any time and in almost no time.  He still sleeps like a champ, with the occasional (brief) episode at night or the occasional short nap (the new church schedule we just switched to might do a real number on the nap/lunch setup on Sundays, so we'll have to see how that goes...).  He loves to put things in and out of other things, and he can play with his set of IKEA stacking cups for ages.  He plays with any and every toy he can find, even if it's not a toy, and each night it's amusing to go around and pick up all the debris the li'l tornado has left in his wake throughout the day, just because you never know what you'll find or where.  He is very vocal, and says a handful of words, but definitely does plenty of animal sounds.  He sometimes growls for a good long while, no matter what animal he sees in a book or what animal sound we ask him to say.  He's very good and usually silent in the car.  He just stares out the window with a somewhat bemused expression on his face and watches the world go by (unless of course we're on a two-minute drive home from church, when he might probably fall asleep, and unless of course we're on a late-night roadtrip drive home, when he might fall asleep for a little while and then never fall back asleep again, much to his dismay... and the dismay of everyone else in the car).  But really, 98% of the time he is just an absolute delight, and his funny faces and tub splashes and squirmy diaper changes and elated wanderings around the house are a joy to his parents and all who meet him.  It's the best thing when your little one runs across the room just to be close to you or jumps into your arms with a huge, 7-toothy smile on his face.

Now it's time for an Instagram photo onslaught!

Make it blue!
You can be a champion too if you eat Kanine Krunchies!
The Boy who would be king.
Bath time with Daddy!
So many animals in this one!
Just a little pounce.
Bobo, Robin, Robin, Bobo.
He loved the splash pads this summer!  It took a little bit and he still mostly likes to skirt around the edges and flirt with the little spouts, but he still finds the whole thing pretty delightful.
The wonderful thing about Bobos is he's the only one!
Blurrily getting into things with cousin Nora.

Matching bedhead!
I really didn't mean to give him a scar on his forehead (L), but Elise definitely did (R).
Bleurgh, mushy stuff.  He'll change his tune one day.
Pop Rocks in my shave ice?!?  Oh my yes.  I love how Little Mister caught me taking the picture.
We finally made it to see the balloons!  (Okay, we missed the launch, but at least we saw some this year.)
The best of friends.
Time for a little visit to Prydain.
He's doing a little detective work of his own, I guess.
Just a family of cows at Chick-fil-A.  That tail!!!
Checking out the new Bean Museum (mixed feelings...) but he sure loved all the lions,  of which there was an abundance.
His first Disney crush?!?  He kept toting it around and giving her little kisses.
He just mostly likes to get around during these movie happenings, truth be told.
That's it, enough people have called him "her"...  time for a little trim.  Still so handsome.
Saying hello to Nana and aunties on the neighbors' U-Haul truck.
Pay no attention to the Christmas presents on the cart, young man.  We love a good consignment sale.
The one that started it all for me as a lad.  His first viewing didn't have quite the same effect as mine did.  Ah well.
Happy year-and-a-quarter, son!  You are a beloved child of ours indeed.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Last Five Years

(Not to be confused with the musical of the same name, which I love, but which I haven't actually listened to in its entirety for the last five years, because after I was married it suddenly became too sad.)

Five years ago yesterday I went from being a bachelor (read: lonely) to being a husband (read: blissfully happy).  Five years is a pretty big milestone, and we have always and often talked about the big plans of funtivities we would do and places we would travel when we reached it, but when the time finally came, we found we had our hands pretty full with this:

So those plans will have to wait a little while.  But, northeastern coast or southwestern coast or right here in the mountains, we're still joyously and quietly celebrating five glorious years of marriage, and just over a year of having added a third most splendid member to our party.  Marriage has been a lot of things so far, some of which I expected, and some of which I never could have anticipated, but all of it, up, down and in between, has been just exactly what I want and need.  This girl of mine is special and she really does make me want to be better in every way.
Ah, so young.  She's just as lovely though (lovelier!).
I'll post again later with more details about the house (that we have purchased -- OoO -- and what a story it is!) and our actual day-of celebration, however minimal and/or subdued it was (what am I saying, we had our first flood!), but for now...
... happy fifth anniversary, Wife!!!  I promise I'll take you to Maine one day, but in the meantime let's just keep emptying boxes and filling closets and stocking shelves and spending money to make this house our home.

Friday, August 8, 2014

July 2014 Races

We did some races last month!  I kept putting off posting about them, but no more.

First, on the 19th we joined in the Pound the Pavement For Parenthood crowd in Orem.  We heard about this race through Groupon or some such, and hadn't ever run it before, but it was fun and a pretty good, level course, and maybe we'll do it again next year.  What cause could be better than helping young couples who are hoping and praying and trying to add a wee young human to their family?  The boys did the 5K, and The Wife decided to go for the 10K this time.  There were quite a few runners for the 5K, but the 10 didn't have quite as many as we expected, and it was hot but not miserable.  I did pretty well at about 23:54 (7:25/mile), not my fastest, but pretty good for pushing a stroller, and it was 3.2 miles too, coming in apparently 2nd overall (they only gave awards for first place, and evidently the guy ahead of me was also pushing a stroller.  Fitting for a family-themed race, eh?), and then I backtracked on the 10K route and we all finished Julie's race together.  Then during the awards they actually gave away several IVF cycles to some lucky raffle-winners, which may or may not have made certain parties cry just a bit.
Then, on Pioneer Day of all days, we went from Temple...
... to Temple!
Mom and Dad joined us for our fun Pioneer Day race.  We were a little late getting started (so we parked farther away, thinking there would be no parking up at the temple, of which there turned out to be plenty...), which was kind of frustrating, since we were at the back of the pack from the very start, which meant that we were basically running into hundreds of street-wide walls of thousands of moseying people the entire time.  Still, we weaved our way through and made it to the end, and I had to get over my racing instinct of trying to go as fast as I possibly could, since it just wasn't going to happen.
Thanks for coming, Mom and Dad!
Baby's a lot bigger than he was at this race last year.
Ahahaha, his first [running] bib.
Yay for summer races!  (Though I always look forward to the fall ones more.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Father's Day 2014

I had a grand and great day on my second Father's Day.  I was thinking of writing in voluble fashion all about what it means to me to be a dad, or point out all the delightful things about my boy, or the things I've been learning over the last year about and from my relationship with my son, my own dad, and my Heavenly Father, but I'm not feeling particularly long-winded, so in the end, I'll just say that I'm so glad to be Da-da, and I'm ever so grateful for The Wife for everything she has done to make me one.
Now THAT'S what I call breakfast in bed...

First time on the tramp, one millionth time in my heart. (Oh, so squishy!)
My Father's Day sketchbook contribution (done a few weeks before, also posted on our art blog.)  He has his moments, but I still love that boy so.
Happy belated Father's Day, fathers of the world!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Birthday Apiece For My Two Loved Ones

Another year for two!  Last week, as they ever shall, The Wife and The Boy celebrated their birthdays in rapid succession (and don't let's forget The Wife's first official Mother's Day!).  It was fun and delightful and we spread the festivities over several days so as to make the most of them.

Julie made a delicious cake on her day of days, and we put out a general invitation for anyone who wanted to come and take part in it.  We had some friends and family come and help us eat it, and it was definitely delicious (lemon poppyseed with almond frosting, yes, please and thank you very much).  There was some Veronica Marsing throughout the day, and some Coldplaying, and a little bit of Fairy Tale Booking too.  Happy birthday, Wife!  You make [mumbles something that sounds a lot like mid-20s-ish] look mighty fine.
She's a master!

It was so very yes.

I tried to capture this scrunchy face he's been making lately, but it didn't really come across, especially with this neat crayon brush.

And then came this fellow's big day.
(The one on the right.  I'm just there to admire.)
He was actually being squiggly and looking all over the place, The Wife just happened to shoot at the exact right moment.
He likes to fly.
On the day of we just had a little party at home with some strawberry shortcake (luckily he has taken a liking to strawberries again, after a brief period of refusing to eat them, thanks in large part to his mother's patient and repeated and gradual exposure of them to him), and webcamming with his out-of-town family.
Birthday cake!
Birthday bath!

Birthday bash aftermath!
He was having a grand old time, and of course one of his favorite things was the wrapping.
We wondered if he would be old enough to appreciate a toy like this, but we didn't wonder for long.

Then on Saturday we had a party/picnic/playdate at the park planned, but inclement weather forced us to relocate to our little place, which turned out fine, even if a little snug (which is why we planned it for the park in the first place).  There were baby muffins and baby water bottles and THREE kinds of grapes and plenty of strawberries for all.  We all ended up passing around library books that we've been enjoying, and all are enamored with Marla Frazee.
Julie's ingenious party invitation.

Another little muffin cake just for you, baby!

There were a lot of people in close quarters, but the kids enjoyed running around our yard (such as it is), and Bobo definitely was glad to have some company, as well as lots of fun presents (see aftermath photo above).

And then, of course, by the afternoon, the weather was gorgeous and the park was perfect:
Oh well, we had fun anyway!  (Bobo used up all his smiles on the swings.)
So yes, another month (The Wife's great update here), and we're just amazed our little man is a year old.  It feels like it's gone by slowly and also really quickly, but in either case, it's been a grand old time.  People always say these first years are hard and you have to wait and hope to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but seriously, these days have been golden.  He's sweet and funny and sometimes bewilderingly fussy, but for the most part he's such a good boy, and for that we are definitely grateful.  He loves giving wet kisses on any spot of the face, he is very vocal and sometimes just sits there hollering to hear his voice, and he is quite a snugglebuns, especially with his ma.  He (thankfully!) likes the bath again, he's making good headway on his Disney animation education, he finally really loves the pool, he eats heartily and happily, and he's stretching more vertically than he is horizontally, and he has definitely taken his first solo steps.
Definitely feeling Fun and Fancy Free with the Wii games.
It's never to early in life for a little Mary Blair.

Merrily on his way to nowhere in particular.
Mice and magic on an early morning.

Curiouser and curiouser.
He can fly! [X3]

Long night + early morning = Mommy and Lady both catching up on some sleep.

A beautiful day at Thanksgiving Point's Tulip Festival.  Here he scored his first little sunburn.  (It didn't seem to bother him much.)

He often finds his way to this spot.  Mayhap he's trying to tell me something?

Sunday afternoon snuggles.  Oh my beating heart.

The first visit of the season to Seven Peaks and the maiden voyage of the HMS My Baby Float.  Baby did NOT get much sunburned this day.  (But we did...  Baby sunblock doesn't really cut it for we older folks, it seems.)
Ohhhh, these twoooo.
Happy birthday, Wife, and happy first to you, my son!!!  We are ever so happy you came to live with us a whole year ago.
We celebrated through the rest of the week, including Memorial Day, when we went to Seven Peaks, grilled on the long-neglected grill and watched plenty of back-episodes of The Amazing Race.

And then, just because, here's a cake that The Wife made, totally unrelated to any of these activities: 
Remember that scene in Matlida?...