Tag Archive | band mom

Colorado Visit

Last weekend I got to fly out to visit the girl, the first time I’d seen her since she left for college almost two months ago now. She still doesn’t have a roommate, so I got to sleep in her dorm room. It was comfier than I expected, though maybe I slept well because it was quiet and I was relaxed. Aside from seeing the girl, the absolute best thing about the trip was that I wasn’t in charge of anything or anyone. She was the one navigating and driving, and I let her pick meals, and I just kind of floated along. It was marvelous.

My first full day there was all about marching band. We showed up at 8 am for rehearsal, and the parents got to walk through campus with the band as they played. We also got to be on the field for the pregame show, and that was pretty nifty.

g2JIVS+kQImy9eHBtKwI had to stay for the entire football game. I made a lot of progress on my sock, along with getting a nice sunburn. (We weren’t expecting all the clouds to burn off.) The next day we slept in later than I’ve slept in years, and headed to Boulder for the NCAR trail. She hadn’t visited the mountains since moving to Colorado, which I thought was very sad. So I showed her an awesome free trail that goes up into the flatirons, and we had a great hike. There’s something so restorative about being up in the mountains, where it’s peaceful and silent. I think I need to do it more often!

We ate dorm food, which wasn’t great, and I took her out to eat a couple of times, which was. We spent a lot of time just relaxing in her dorm with her suitemates, and I met some of her friends. She’s created a nice community for herself there, and seems very settled and happy, and that pleases me a lot. Of course I miss her, but she’s in exactly the right place right now, and I love that. She’s growing up, getting more self-assured and confident, which is what’s supposed to happen as your kids grow up, I think. I’m in that awkward place where I can advise and suggest and recommend, but I have to cross my fingers and hope that we’ve taught her how to make good choices.

The trip wrapped up with a band concert on Tuesday. She plays flute (her primary instrument) in the symphonic band and clarinet in the concert band, so I got to see her perform several pieces, and I’m so glad I was able to stay for it. As much as I love listening to live music, it’s even more special when my kid is up there helping make it. I don’t know if/when I’ll get to hear her perform again this year, so this meant a lot to me.

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The next morning she drove me to Denver for my flight and walked me to security. We hugged, and I was crying but she was not. I don’t think it was because she wouldn’t miss me. I think it’s because she’s happy there, and I’m glad I got to see that. (And glad I got to see my mountains!!)

I’m leaving…on a jet plane

I get to go visit the girl!! I haven’t seen her in seven weeks and that is a very long time, I believe. She’s having a marvelous time and we’re doing all right without her, but still, I am excited for the visit. I’ll get to see her in the marching band tomorrow (even if I do have to sit through a football game) and I’m staying through Tuesday so I can see her first band concerts too. She’s playing the flute in the symphonic band and the clarinet in the concert band, and it’s worth every penny to get to see all of that. Music is really important to me, and I love that she gets to create music that generates those feelings and emotions for lots of people.

Of course we’ll go visit the mountains once, and maybe I can hit a yarn store, and I’ll take her shopping and out to eat, and I’m sure we’ll just hang out a lot. She still doesn’t have a roommate which means I get to share her room while I’m there. Maybe I’ll even eat dorm food and relive my college days! I’m a little sad to be leaving my boys and my puppers for five days, but honestly, it won’t suck to be on my own for a while. She’ll be in classes on Monday and Tuesday, and people keep asking me what I’ll do. Um, if I get to hang out somewhere quiet and peaceful and knit and read and eat snacks all day, that seems pretty awesome to me, you know?

I have three projects packed, plus an extra skein of yarn just in case. One project is the second sock of this pair, and I’m halfway through the foot already. Pretty sure I’ll finish that within the first day or so.

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So I’ve got my mermaid shawl for my alone-time knitting, my Hogwarts stockinette cowl for game/concert/travel home knitting, and the yarn to start my second Ravenclaw sock if I need it. I probably won’t post while I’m gone, so check back next week to see how much progress I make!

Mother’s Day Recap

This is very belated, but that seems to be the norm for me lately: did all you moms out there have a lovely Mother’s Day on Sunday? I hope so! Mine was quite nice, I have to say. The kids got up early to have breakfast with me (waffles and bacon cooked by the husband, yum!) and we hung out at the table and talked for a while after. It’s funny; when my kids were very little I just wanted alone time for Mother’s Day. Now that they’re older and don’t see me/need me very much, I do want that time with them. And then some alone time, right? Anyway, then we opened gifts (yes, I got yarn, which I’d picked out, but I also got chocolate and some fun colors of ink cartridges for my fountain pens). I even got gifts and cards from both kids! I felt very loved and appreciated and it was the perfect morning.

But the highlight of the day came in the afternoon: the girl’s graduation from high school!!! Everything went well: we got decent seats and I managed to save enough for everybody and I got good photos and I cried a little (I think the husband even teared up a bit). The girl was calm and composed and gorgeous and I’m so proud. And relieved, to be honest. Relieved to be past all the end-of-year concerts and meetings and deadlines and this and that and the other thing and ohyesdon’tforgetthat! Relieved that now we can focus on the exciting going off to college bit.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, I did have knitting time over the weekend, especially while waiting for graduation to start. I finished my Nebraska Roller socks and cast on a new pair of socks immediately. I know I said I was going to do some skimmer socks next but I lied. I cast on for another pair of shorties, this time with a ribbed cuff, and I pulled out some gorgeous little leftover balls that coordinate perfectly. The green is the Madtosh in Sea Glass and the blue/green variegated is Hedgehog Fibres in Medusa. Fingers crossed I have enough Medusa for two sock bodies.

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Finally, I also had a good chunk of time to devote to my Supernatural Kindness shawl. I bound it off last night, sooner than I anticipated…mostly because I ran out of yarn too soon to do the three rows of garter stitch. I thought about having a solid colored edge, since the garter would help prevent curling, but mostly was too lazy to find the right yarn. I was ready to be done! I think blocking will help immensely. With any luck I can get it washed and pinned out tonight, and then I can take pictures to share over the weekend!

Graduation Season

This week has been low on posts, I know, and I’d like to say I’m sorry but really I’m not. As you may remember, the girl is graduating high school this year and this week has been busy with ALL the things. We had the last band concert (I cried a little during the senior video but that was all). These are her BFFs (best flute friends).

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Then we had Baccalaureate…

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Last night we had the choir concert. Choir is second only to band in her life, and I love that music is her passion. She sings beautifully and had a short solo last night, which was a delightful surprise to me. (She swears she told me about it, but I really think I’d remember something like that!) I didn’t really get emotional until right before the senior video, when I looked around and spotted her across the room, and she saw me and we just made a little funny/happy face at each other and it hit me that I won’t have as many of those little moments anymore. And then the video was showing a baby picture and a senior photo of each kid and the photo of my cute little toddler popped up and bam, there went the tears. (This is her choir director. We love him.)

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Anyway, please forgive me for not having the time to blog this week. Today I’ll show the proof that I have definitely been knitting at all of these events, though! I finished my beautiful beautiful Girl Power socks.

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Yarn is Show Me Yarns Bootheel in color Girl Power and I love everything about it. I mean, I haven’t worn them yet because it’s been 85 degrees here for days upon days and I can’t stand the thought of wool socks on my feet but somehow I know that they will wear beautifully too. And I’m almost done with my Nebraska Rollers too!

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Tomorrow is Graduation (EEK!) so I fully expect to get these done by the end of the weekend. These I might actually be able to wear sooner, since they’re shortie socks. Next I want to make these skimmers to try with my flats!

 

Margaritas, music, and more

You guys are so kind. I found some good knitting time to fight the funk but getting kind comments here helped too! That night we went to dinner with the family (mom, the siblings, the niece and nephews) and had Mexican food and margaritas in Dad’s honor, and we had a lovely evening. I was quite popular with the boys that night, at least the ones under the age of 6, so I got a good ego boost from that, haha! One of them even told me he liked my lipstick and allowed me to kiss his cheek.

img_5766I do enjoy being around the little kids, but it was a noisy, rambunctious evening and it wore me out. Thankfully from there we went on to the girl’s District Choir concert, and I got to sit quietly and listen to beautiful music. I’m so glad she’s in choir too; I love the band and orchestra music, but as a former choir kid myself, I have a special fondness for the choir. This weekend I got both! The girl’s school Symphonic Band was selected to play at the All-State Festival this week, and last night they did a preview for those parents who can’t attend.

Of course I thought it was terrific and it made me really want to drive the three hours each way to see the 30-minute concert…okay, not really. Just a little. If we weren’t going on Saturday to see her play the piccolo in the All-State Orchestra, it would be more tempting. But as it is, I’m super excited to see the orchestra, especially since they’re playing music from West Side Story!

Even with all the concerts, I managed to finish one sock, cast on a new one, and make good progress on two others. I might be able to finish two socks this week, if I’m lucky!img_5771Finally, yesterday was a good day: it was Captain Jack’s birthday! He is now four and is the old man of the pack. img_5769Clearly he’s not a fan of getting older. We had a little chat and he’s feeling better about it now. Or maybe it was the duck jerky treat that perked him up, who knows. In any case, he’s still my favorite pupper (it’s okay, Grace and Duncan know) and I’m awfully glad we adopted him. He’s helped cheer me up many times.*

Happy Monday, friends. Here’s hoping the week treats you well!

*All three of our wonderful dogs have been adopted from shelters. If you’re looking for a new furry friend, please check your local shelters first!

It’s a Flute Party!

Have you ever been to a flute party? No? What, you don’t know what a flute party IS?

Don’t feel bad; I had no idea before yesterday either! But now I know, and it was pretty fun. We decided that we wanted to upgrade the girl’s flute for her graduation present, since we felt like she had outgrown her current flute. She’s going into music education in college, with the possibility of music performance as well, and we want to send her off as well-prepared as possible. And given all the things happening this year that might impact her college admissions and scholarship opportunities (State Band, honor bands, music school auditions) we chose to do it now, rather than at the end of the year.

Now, with other things, it might be simple. You go to a store, pick one out, and buy it. But instruments are different, because each musician is different. The musician has to find the instrument that’s right for her. So her flute teacher arranged for us to attend a flute party hosted by a woodwind dealer/repair specialist. There would be a variety of brands to play, plus we’d have other expert ears to help us decide. We also borrowed a flute from a local music store (so generous of Palen Music. We love them.) and ordered one on trial from Flutistry of Boston.

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We showed up to the hotel and found our way to the room, which was just a hotel suite with two bedrooms. There were two sales reps there, one from Altus and one from Miyazawa, and there were two tables full of beautiful shiny flutes. There were lower end flutes all the way up to an $11,000 gold flute!

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We quickly found ourselves in one of the rooms with several flutes, and it didn’t take long to narrow it down to four. But that’s when the work began. There were six of us listening, and while of course the girl’s opinion was the most important, her flute teacher was also very vocal. The sales reps were great, really only offering opinions when we directly asked them. And they each declined to comment on their own flute, which I thought was very classy.

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And she played the flute. Over and over. Rotating between all four brands, trying to hear differences and preferences. I can’t imagine how it must have felt, to be presented with four beautiful, high-end instruments that all play well, and say, “Here, pick one!” But that was the goal, so we kept playing. Finally we did brackets, and compared two at a time, picking one from each bracket. Then when it was the top two, which happened to be the ones from the reps, they left the room and we brought in the party host to be an objective ear.  Finally, after two pieces played on each flute, we had a unanimous winner, and my daughter finally relaxed enough to be excited about her choice. I think she’s going to do amazing things with this flute, and I feel really grateful that we’re able to do something like this for her.

Oh, my girl

I am so in awe of my daughter. She is so strong, stronger than I ever was at her age. She has this passion for music, this talent for flute, and it has become an intricate part of her life. I can’t think of flute without thinking of her, and I often can’t think of her without thinking of flute. They are intertwined. She has worked hard over the last seven years and grown into a gifted musician, and she’s seen a lot of rewards from that work. She’s earned spots in district bands, state band, honor bands. She’s earned top ratings at competitions and played solos without a hitch.

But with every bright spot, there is a bit of darkness hiding. There is so much competition in this world. She hasn’t succeeded at everything she’s tried; she hasn’t gotten every first chair or solo she’s wanted. And to try so hard, to practice and work so diligently, and not get the results you want, must be incredibly disheartening at times. I can’t say for sure, never having been in anything so competitive. But I imagine, and my heart aches when it happens.

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It happened yesterday. We went to District Band auditions. After an early bout of nerves a couple of weeks ago, she was feeling confident. She was practicing, working new tricks from her flute teacher, and getting good results. She felt good at the first audition, felt good after the callback audition, and we settled in to wait without too much anxiety. But the callbacks ended, and the wait stretched to 45 minutes, an hour, 90 minutes, and the stress built. What could be taking so long? 27 flutes for 13 spots (including the two honorable mention spots), surely it couldn’t be that hard to sort it out?

Each musician is scored during their audition, and the scores are tallied at the end. The drama comes if there are ties, and the judges have to come to an agreement on who gets which chair. Many flute players also play piccolo, and if they earn a chair on both instruments, they’re given the choice. If they turn down piccolo, the judges move to the next piccolo, and so on, until the piccolo spot is filled. So if you’re sitting waiting, and you see other flute/piccolo players getting called back to talk to their director, you know the results are coming soon. We did our best to stay patient and positive.

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It took almost two hours after callbacks ended for her to get her result: second chair in the district band. That’s an awesome result. It really is, to get second chair out of all the flutists in the area who auditioned. And given how long it took to get results, it must have been an extremely tight competition, coming down to the smallest of details.

But. Last year, she had first chair. And when you’ve had that, and you think you’ve earned that again, second chair is bittersweet. I understand it, even as I know how wonderful second chair is. Like I said, it’s a competitive world. She’s been competing against the same musicians for the last couple of years, so it feels a little personal. You don’t just miss out on the spot, you see your competition in that spot. I can imagine how sharp and sour that must feel in your chest.

Plus her experience as first chair last year wasn’t all she wanted it to be. First chair typically comes with a certain spot in the band; the first chair flute is next to the edge, right beside the piccolo. And the first chair flute is given any flute solos in the band’s music. But last year, the district band director decided to switch things up, and he flipped the seating so that she was in the middle of the band, and had the entire flute section play all the solos. So while she knew she was first chair, she didn’t get to experience the perks that usually come with it.

So this year she was, is, disappointed. Sad, frustrated. She knew she’d done the work. She knew she’d improved. So why didn’t her spot show it? It’s hard to remember that even as you’re growing and improving, you’re not doing it in a bubble. The others are doing the same thing. You have to remember that there is some subjectivity to each audition, and something like first and second chair can come down to very small differences. It reminds me of Michelle Kwan when she won silver at the Olympics when everyone expected her to win gold. They’d ask her, “How does it feel to know you lost the gold?” And her answer was, “I didn’t lose gold. I won silver.”

That’s what my girl did yesterday. She earned that second chair. And she’s learning that you have to take each setback and use it as an opportunity for growth, without getting distracted by what everyone else is doing. She still gets to audition for All-State Band, and I think it’s likely that this will motivate her to work even harder to perform as well as she can.

And that’s why I’m in awe of her. Every time this happens, she finds the strength to rally. She sits back and feels the disappointment, and then she stands up, puts it behind her, and goes on to the next great thing.

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I am immensely proud of her results yesterday, as I am every time she auditions. I can’t wait to see how it goes at State. But the greatest thing for me yesterday was watching her interact with the middle school musicians. She works with the 7th and 8th grade bands at the middle school, and she’s built lovely relationships with these kids who admire her and look up to her, and she found so much joy in encouraging them. She called them her “babies” and kept notes of who got what results, and she hugged them and cheered them on, and it was so sweet. She is going to be a wonderful teacher. I love that not only will she create beautiful music herself, but she will also help create future musicians. To have such a gift and be able to share it with others, that must be the most wonderful feeling of all. And how lucky I am that I get a front row seat.

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P.S. There was a LOT of knitting happening yesterday, what with over eight hours in one building. That post will be coming soon!