Saturday, May 27, 2017

Kyrie by Stephan Carlson

I just found that someone posted a video of the high school show choir women's ensemble piece that they performed at state competitions. They won the highest marks for this piece. They performed it again at the end-of-year concert in the high school auditorium, and did even better, with the girls singing high soprano hitting those notes so perfectly dead on that it rang like a bell. It was so beautiful that it made me teary.

Sophia is the one who announces it at the beginning.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Picture Pages

 Here are some of the photos that have been lurking on my phone.

Gabrielle texted last week and asked for the recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I always keep notes in my recipe books, so it is easy to find. When Sian makes these, she makes her own brown sugar using molasses and white sugar, and it gives the cookies an incredible depth and richness. But Gabrielle made them from this recipe and said they were a hit with all her roommates and friends. I always use this recipe, and, so far, absolutely no one has complained.

In case you can't quite read it, here's the recipe:

1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup margarine (I use butter, and it makes the cookies slightly flatter and a little crisper. I just hate margarine)
3 beaten eggs
12 oz. chocolate chips
3 3/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking soda
3 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt

Cream the sugars and margarine. Add the eggs, chocolate chips, and all of the sifted-together dry ingredients. Mix well. Bake at 350 deg. F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies are very moist. If you have an electric stove, lower it to 325 deg. F [which is what I do]. Very delicious.

Sophia had a lead role in the high school's production of Oklahoma, her last play before she graduates from high school this Thursday. She was Laury, and a very nice young man named Robert played Curly.

Elannah and Sophia worked together to choreograph all the dancing, and they did a right fine job of it, if'n I do say so myself.

In April, one of Husband's sisters-in-law came to town with her twins. We all spent the day together, including going to a thrift store. Elannah, Sophia, and their cousins all managed to find floral shirts, which, I guess, are a thing right now. My girls wear theirs all the time.

During that day, we took a tour of the LDS Conference Center in Salt Lake City, which the boys had never done before and which the girls were too young to remember doing. Here's Little Gary in the main hall that seats about 20,000, with the iconic organ pipes behind him.

I've been lucky enough to sing in a conference choir here. Who knew how many back hallways and tunnels this place has to keep things going smoothly?

Here are Little Gary and Marmite, perching on a stack of chairs in the kitchen. I think we'd had my family and Sian's future fiance over during General Conference, which is why the chairs were stacked after being used at the table.

Little Gary happily announced today that he made the honor roll at his elementary school--the first time that's happened. I'm just relieved that about halfway through the year he started doing his homework on his own with me having to nag him. I guess he's growing up. He'll be a fifth grader next year.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Adventures in School Bus Driving

In the early dark, the school buses at the bus garage start rumbling through their pre-trip inspections. Drivers must check the lights, horns, tires, and gauges before roaring out into the surrounding neighborhoods and towns to pick up happy, alert children and drop them at their schools.

I am one of them.

No, I don't have my own route yet. Since the end of the school year is fast approaching, I might not even be subbing all that often--though I have been driving nearly every day for the last two weeks. But next school year, there's some hope that I may get my own route.

Being a substitute bus driver is exciting, of course. Sometimes, it's a little too exciting. As a sub, you're just hoping that you'll manage to hit all the right stops on all the right streets in a town or neighborhood you aren't all that familiar with, and you hope you won't neglect to pick up some poor elementary school kid whose parents have already left for work and now the door to their house is locked and they have nowhere to go.

I mean, I don't care about the junior high and high school kids, cuz they can figure it out. They've got phones.

But what wakes me up in the wee hours before a run is my brain deciding to stew and stew over a new route, reminding me every three minutes from 3 A.M. on about what time I need to get to the bus garage (even though I remind my brain that I have set my alarm), and going over all possible negative outcomes.

So far, I haven't made any major mistakes. Minor ones, yes. Major, dangerous ones, no. Knock on wood...

For instance, I ended up sitting on the side of a road with a bus full of junior high school kids while we waited for the mechanics to come and fix my battery box door, which wouldn't stay latched (I didn't kick the battery tray hard enough, it turns out. In my defense, I had no idea I could kick it!).

Because I didn't enunciate my location clearly enough on the radio, the mechanics ended up in the wrong neighborhood and took even longer to find me. Meanwhile, I had to keep the kids from going all Lord of the Flies (which is a very real possibility when children that age don't have access to wi-fi for too long) by playing "School Bus Trivia," a game I made up on the spot. We all had a good laugh, and now they know how drivers get out of the doors after the bus is turned off.

And they STILL made it to school in time, much to their disappointment.

Last week, I was driving a route that takes me into a new street with only one entrance/exit. The street is lined with multiple new houses all under construction at once, so there's always cement trucks and other construction vehicles scattered around. This particular route takes me into this street three times a day in order to pick up or drop off a total of three kids.

On Thursday, I was able to thread my way through in order to turn around at the end of the street and get back out. Barely. On Friday, however, the road was entirely blocked--and even if I had been able to get through to the turnaround at the end, the turnaround was littered with the parked cars of the construction workers, making it impossible for me to get the bus turned around.

So there I am: a load of elementary kids are already on the bus, and two cement trucks pouring a new foundation are completely blocking my way forward. Then, when I look in the mirror, I see a guy double-parking a pickup truck with a trailer, completely blocking my ability to reverse out. What?? Does it seem normal to him that a big yellow school bus full of students is just going to sit and idle in the middle of the road for the indefinite future?

I'm now locked in. Dilemma.

I can't leave the bus to talk to the construction workers (there are kids on board), the construction workers can't hear my air horn over all the noise (not that they can move until the foundation is poured, anyway), and I'm not supposed to reverse--not that I can at the moment.

Obviously, I must reverse or I'm never getting out of there, so I radio the bus garage to let them know what's up. I tell them I'm backing up all the way to the entrance of the street. They are nervous. They request that I at least put an older child in the back window to give me directions. I comply by assigning a sixth grader to tell me if I'm going to hit anyone or anything (not that I can hear anything she says because of the construction noise).

So I put the bus in reverse and watch the pickup truck driver scramble to re-park his vehicle as soon as he hears my reverse alarm (miracle!). Then, dear reader, I backed that big bus straight through all the parked cars, pivoted perfectly into the the dead end to get myself facing out to the highway, and got those kids to school on time and with no other problems. My palms were sweaty, yes, but I felt a certain thrill of triumph.

Substitute bus driving = living on the edge. I'm just a crazy kind of gal!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Let Me Brag about My Kids a Bit

Each of my children have very specific interests. In the case of Sian and Gabrielle, their interests were very different. Sian is a musician and composer and has written many amazing voice and piano pieces. She was also her high school's newspaper editor-in-chief because she enjoys writing.

Gabrielle realized she loved to draw at an early age, and she's never stopped.

Sophia and Elannah share interests in drama, voice, and dance, but each of them have their own individual style.

The boys are still figuring out what they want to pursue, but I see a native talent for drawing showing up in Little Gary, and Joseph has been trying to figure out the concept of humor and comedy since he was old enough to talk. He would also be very good at dance if he cared to pursue it, but it's much less socially acceptable for a boy to do that than a girl, I think. Especially when you are junior high age. While I've never discouraged the idea, he would be horrified if I signed him up for dance classes.

As you know, Gabrielle is taking a digital media course as part of her game design degree. She had to create a YouTube channel on which to display her completed assignments, and I thought you'd like to see one of her videos. This is a speedpaint video of a picture concept she first created when she was a young teen. Right at the end, she shows the original drawing so you can compare it to her updated drawing. It's quick, so you have to pause the video in order to really appreciate how much she's improved. I am amazed at the progress she's made.

Oh, FYI, Sian is now engaged to be married! The wedding is set for August 31st. After I hyperventilated a bit at the thought of my baby becoming a wife (and, eventually, a mother), I'm very happy about the whole thing. As is her dad. She's marrying a great guy. He's intelligent (Applied Physics major) without being condescending. He's spiritual without being self-righteous. And he absolutely adores my daughter (and she adores him, of course). He's the kind of great kid who just gets better with age.