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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First one down!

I DID IT!!!! 

I did my first birthday party as Queen Elsa of Arendelle.  And for my first character appearance it was a real doozy – it was at an indoor sports complex/inflatable/bouncy house place.  Talk about being thrown into the deep end. 

The birthday girl is one of my students and her mom caught me after class on Monday (yep, just several days before the party) and inquired if there was any chance I was free to be Elsa.  This turned out to be a good thing because (rarely are we open on a Saturday) and it didn’t give me too much time to be stressed and freaking out about it.

I spent a good long while getting ready for the gig.  Kayliana got a little jealous of mommy’s costume and make-up so I did a bit for her too.  (She still wasn’t thrilled when I left without HER to go to this amazing sounding birthday party). 

I arrived in the parking lot with a few minutes to spare (which provided just enough time to readjust my wig and also get even more nervous and excited…and to question my sanity).  I texted the mom and she met me at the door.  (I was anxious about going into this huge complex, being lost Elsa and being potentially mobbed by children).  As I started walking toward Bday Mom, she said, “Wait! I’ve got to get pictures of Elsa walking across the parking lot!”  Uh, OK.  Not sure if I did the Elsa-walking-across-a-parking-lot walk correctly, but I did my best.

When you first enter the building, there are all these tables set-up along an indoor soccer field.  The tables were full of people.  A bunch of soccer games were happening.  It was a crowd.   I followed Bday Mom hearing “That’s Elsa” and “Is that Elsa?!” the whole way.

As we approached the inflatable toy area and party rooms, Bday Mom said, “Oh, Elsa, let me introduce you to my husband.”  I met Bday Husband and then Bday Mom said, “I gotta get a picture of you with the dads.”  Thus – my first photo op: Elsa and a bunch of beer-drinkin’ dads.  Kind of awesome. 

Next, I was escorted to our party room.  I set down my basket and was immediately swarmed by children (including the birthday girl and her sister.  I’ve had both girls in music class for a while…I really wondered if they’d buy my act).  They sure did.  The girls all immediately started asking questions  and telling me things.

“I love your sparkly dress…Your hair’s so pretty…Where’s Anna?” 

“She’s in Arendelle. Someone has to look after the kingdom while I’m here for Bday Girl’s special day!”

 “Do you have your ice power?”

“Well, of course I do!  Unfortunately I won’t be able to use it inside though.  I’m not allowed to make it snow.  Can you imagine the mess they’d have to clean up?! And these floors would get terribly slippery!”

Then, one of my students, looks at me and loudly says, “I know who you are! You’re the music teacher!”  There was a half second of silence as the kids all studied me carefully.

“Does your music teacher have long blond hair like mine?”

“No,” she says.

“Well, there ya go,” I say.

Another little girl asks, “Are you the REAL Elsa?”

“What do you think?” I ask her back.

“I don’t know,” she answers doubtfully.

“Do I look like Elsa?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Do I sound like Elsa?  I will, of course, be singing later too,” I say.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Then one little girl reaches out and touches my hand.  She gasps and says, “Oh my gosh, you guys! Even her hands are super cold!”  (I honestly don’t think they were THAT cold, though I had just come in from outside).

They all immediately begin feeling my hands and, of course, not one of them wants to admit that they don’t think my hands are all that cold.

I take pictures with some of the kids and then Bday Mom ushers them out for their last 10 minutes of playtime while I set-up. 

I’m getting everything ready, when I hear, “We just wanted to come say hi,” behind me.

I turn around and see about half a girls’ soccer team standing there grinning.  I chat with them for a little bit.  (I point out that they look all hot and sweaty and, well, I prefer it cold.  One girl tells me not to try soccer then).

Eventually, all of the party kids are in our room, in their seats and being served pizza.  I mingle with a couple of the kids and wait for my cue to start.  Meanwhile, Bday Dad sidles up to me and says, “So, Frozen.  That was a big hit for Disney!”

“Yes,” I say, wondering if he’s making small-talk with me or Elsa.  “Disney’s even coming out with a Frozen 2.”

“That’s great.  Congratulations! You must be super excited!” 

I’m waiting for him to ask, “So, do you play a big part in the sequel?” and decide it’s time to get this show on the road.

 I get the kids’ attention and we sing a few short snow songs.  Between each song, the kids like to tell me things like “You hit your sister with your ice power and she got hurt.”  I respond with obvious remorse and gratitude that she’s OK.  Then another child will replay an entire scene from the movie and I’d say, “Yes, true story,” or “You’re exactly right.  That IS what happened to us!”

Eventually they serve cake (we sing Happy Birthday) and then I invite Bday Girl to come up to sing “Let it Go” with me. 

This was the moment I was MOST nervous about.  “Let it Go” is a monster epic ballad.  It’s right on my break.  It’s a challenging song for me on a good day and I’d – no shocker – come down with a cold two days before the party.  (NOT awesome).  Of course, we know, that the cold never bothered me anyway….BUT I was really nervous for singing it.  I’m (humbly) happy to say that (in my ever so humble opinion), I think I rocked it.  It went REALLY well.  One little 3 year old boy, Ethan, came up and stood next to me while I sang it – just gazing at me with such love and admiration.  It. Was. Awesome.  There were about 20 kids plus parents (and many of them took video) – so I’m hoping that Bday Mom will get me some of the pics and video.

I finished the event by blowing bubbles for them (SO not as cool as making it snow inside, but the kids seemed happy with the bubbles).  And then, finally, it was time for me to go.  After a last few photos, I said goodbye to the Bday Girl and all the kids and left the party room.  As I was approaching the exit, the two teenage boys sitting at the front desk said, “Elsa! Bye Elsa!”  Quietly (so only they could hear) I said, “Peace out, boys.”  It caught them totally off guard, and I could hear them laughing as I got close to the door.

Just as I was about to exit, a little girl – about 6 years old – was walking in with her parents.  She glanced up at me and her jaw nearly hit the floor.  I smiled and waved at her.  She waved back at me, still obviously in total shock.  Mind. Blown.

I got in my car, drove down the street a ways, pulled off into a shady spot and removed my wig and wig cap and felt SO incredibly relieved.  If I can handle that scene; I got this!

With my mini-Elsa

 Ready to rock...let's do this thing!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Little League is upon us

Baseball season is in full swing (slight pun intended).  Unfortunately, we’ve gotten off to a bit of a rough start for Matthew this year.  We think he sprained his wrist a while ago.   (Or he at least somehow tweaked it  – just did a ‘lil something to his right hand/wrist).  So that certainly hasn’t helped.  We’ve wrapped and iced it off and on, but we probably just need to take him in and have it looked at as it doesn’t seem to be getting a whole lot better.

We thought things actually started off great.  At game #1, Matthew was the very first batter of the entire season!  First pitch, he made contact with the ball (though hit it close to the pitcher who was able to snag it and get Matthew out at first).  Later that game, Matthew walked and then proceeded to steal 2nd, 3rd and then home too!  I gotta say (totally braggy-pants for a second); Matthew IS a smart, solid base runner…when he gets on base.  That’s where the roughness comes in.  Since that very first at-bat, Matthew has yet to get a hit.  We’re talking five games now of either striking out or walking.  What’s so frustrating is that his swing looks fantastic – like better than ever – but his timing has gotten completely wonky when he even swings.  And that’s the other problem.  This is kid pitch, people.  You can’t be that picky waiting for a perfect pitch as they don’t happen all the time.  We’ve also go kid-ish umps (teenagers) who are also learning the ropes.  They don’t call perfect games, but, for the most part, they do a pretty darn good job.  But Matthew’s just standing there watching decent pitches go by.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but we’re all getting frustrated. 

All Mike and I can do is encourage him (to swing the stinkin’ bat)!!  But I’m praying – PA-RAYING – that things start looking up or it’s going to be a.) a long season and b.) probably his last (since we had to strongly encourage him to play one more – with this different league). 

The different league that we switched to is fantastic though!  I wish we’d made the move years ago.  They have so many rules in place that don’t allow for all the drama, politics, and crap that we had to deal with through our smaller local league.  We definitely miss some of the families and Matthew getting to be on the same team with classmates, but so far everyone at the new league is great.  If only our kiddo were playing better.  Look, we all know it’s about having fun.  Totally true.  But we also know that it’s really hard to have fun when you’re just having a rough go of it. 

So, while I know there are way bigger issues out there – WAY more important things for God to be dealing with – I’ve selfishly begun praying for Matthew’s baseball playing skills.  And I miss being able to vent to my dad about Little League season.  Sure, I can still ‘talk’ to him about it, but it’s just not the same.  At all.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Easter 2015

Happy Easter!  We had a really nice Easter weekend.  Matthew and I attended the Easter Vigil on Saturday night.  One of his best school buddies Owen (along with his two little sisters and their mom) got baptized!  It was such a beautiful service and so special to be there.

Mike, Zach and Kayliana went to Mass on Sunday and then we all headed to my brother Timothy’s and his wife Rebecca’s house for Easter goodness – a hunt and delicious food.  I’m just disappointed we didn’t get pictures of everyone!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Matthew's New Job

Matthew’s been gel-ing his hair for a while now.  He’s pretty meticulous about it and wants it to look a certain way.  He’s recently added a new accessory to his ‘look’ – he even calls them his “trademark:” shades.  He’s got about three different pairs of sunglasses and claims that his friends can’t wait to see which pair he’ll be wearing each day. 

It seems Spring Fever has reached these 5th graders and the crushes and giggling and pointing and general pubescent carrying-on is in full swing.  Evan, a friend of Matthew’s has – apparently (I’ve been told) – become quite popular with the ladies and several little gals are BIG fans of Evan’s.  Evan – Mr. Supercool Big Man on Campus – has decided he needs some back-up in fending off these girls, and he has ‘hired’ Matthew to be one of his ‘bodyguards.’  Well, you can see just how perfectly Matthew’s wearing of shades fits into his new role as Bodyguard/Secret Service detail.

I’d discussed with Matthew how he – under no circumstances – can wear the sunglasses IN school.  I explained that it’s disrespectful (not making eye contact with people – especially adults, etc.), people might think he’s blind (or at least pretending to be which is also not cool) and, well, um, it’s also just a little odd.  He assured me he only wears them at recess and on the bus.

Well, last week, I helped put on a baby shower for Zachary’s 3rd grade teacher.  At the end of the day, I see Matthew walking down the hall – of course dutifully protecting Evan.  Matthew is easy to spot.  At 5 foot 3, he towers over 99.9% (rough estimate) of the kids in the school.  Matthew is – as I figured – totally rockin’ his shades IN the building.  NOT OK.

I head outside and run into my friend Tiffany.

“Where’s Matthew?” She asked.

“Oh, he’s too cool, you know, with his shades ‘n all, to ride home with me.  He wanted to take the bus home with his buddies.”   Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that Tiffany’s 5th grade son overheard us.

“Yeah, what’s with Matthew and those sunglasses?  He wears them all the time.  It’s super weird.”  More confirmation of my fears.

You can bet your bippy that later that day, Matthew and I had a little chat.  I eventually got him to admit that yes, he’s wearing the sunglasses (not in the classroom, but definitely in the hallway) and – as I suspected – the sunglasses are becoming a bit of a crutch for my shy boy.  He can look at people without them knowing it and he doesn’t have to make eye contact, etc.  He goes on to tell me that – as Evan’s “bodyguard” – one day, he was assigned “lookout duty” and had to count how many times Maggie looked over at Evan during lunch.  (53). So, he HAD to wear the sunglasses then…

“You realize that in staring at Maggie, she probably thinks that you like her now and…that’s kind of weird with the sunglasses and all…”

“Yeah,” Matthew admits, “Zach and his friends all say that they’re creepy.”  Well, um, yes!  If you’re wearing them so you can look at girls without them realizing….uh…a little stalkery!  For sure. (Of course, I say all of these things to him in a kinder, not-quite-as-blunt-but-you-need-to-stop-the-weirdness mom sort of way). 

He promises he’ll ONLY wear the sunglasses when he’s outside.
The next morning he finds an old broken cell phone Bluetooth and starts wearing it on his ear – for playing, at recess and at the bus stop.  (The ear piece – that doesn’t work – totally makes him a super legit Bodyguard). 

Friday afternoon, when the boys get off the bus, I can tell something’s wrong. 

“I got puked on at school.  I need to get home NOW to shower and change” Matthew quickly tells me.  Yeah, gross.

Later I find out that some poor kiddo –at the very end of the school day – suddenly got sick and Matthew (and one other kid) took the brunt of the impact.  Turns out, Evan was behind Matthew and was essentially blocked from being showered in the nasty.

“Are you telling me, that you jumped in the line of projectile vomit - fire to protect Evan?!” I asked.  “You are taking this WAY too seriously.”

“No,” Matthew assured me.  “Not on purpose really.  But…” he adds proudly, “I did definitely block him!”