Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Final Note -- Part Three

The recital was a graduation requirement for Meggar, but truly a joy for her own family to share it with her. The party afterwards was a fitting tribute for her closest friends and for a few special friends and relatives who could make it. I knew it was too far away for many more who wanted to attend. Meggar is planning to send a recording of her piano pieces by mail to those who would like that memento.
Captain gave a few words of wisdom and a beautiful meal grace. I got to tell a humorous story to poke fun at her from the first semester's piano recital.
Guests: Gr. Judy and Gr. Gerald came from Wichita,
Gr. Elizabeth came from Colorado with Aunt Kathy and Uncle Terry,
Bill and Constance (from Jane Austen Book Club),
Alison (from church & her confirmation sponsor),
and Alpha Gamma Delta (members and alumnae).
*Credits to Playmaker for being the event photographer.
Not pictured: Heidi (from Pony Express Museum)
and Spencer (the boyfriend) and parents.

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Final Note--Part Two

After the 4:30 piano recital, we hosted a reception for Meggar at the Kirksville Country Club. Our black tables were topped with antique cake stands, black pianos, and vintage sheet music which was folded into fans by Carey Leonard's three crafty girls: Barbara, Hannah, and Rebecca. Each pedestal was accented by yellow and black ribbons.
Out front we placed a table for gifts, which twinkled with white lights and more black and yellow accents. I hope everyone signed the guest book with well wishes. Megan received lots of flowers, pair of wine glasses painted with piano keys, a set of teapot book ends, a Mozart action figure, and a blue window with "Mr & Mrs Wedding Events" vinyl logo.
The appetizer table greeted guests (about 30) by the open bar as they arrived (and Carey's girls had a few nibbles during the decorating time).
The buffet table was decked out with classic colors, and...
it was loaded with my famous lasagna and sweet green beans, homemade bread sticks, and a wonderful Italian salad provided by Spencer's mom (complete with artichokes, olives, and roasted red peppers).
Dessert was a variation on a "coffee and donuts" theme--this is an inside joke with Truman AGDs. The twins helped me load up baby donut skewers and melted chocolate fondue. There was also rum cake, whipped cream, and Donut House coffee.
Hannah sampled the homemade lemonade, which surely tasted better since there was a yellow-striped straw in her cup.
I was happy when Terry asked me how to use the Keurig machine so he could stay awake for the drive back home. Overall, it was a yummy event, which is absolutely the best way to celebrate a special occasion!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Final Note - Part One

It could not have been more perfect. The graduation recital, that is. (Pity about the weather, as he British would say. There were heavy showers and high winds beforehand, but luckily no one was injured while travelling to Kirksville, Mo.) Our entire family had all been anticipating this day for weeks! It would be a culmination for Megan of her eight semesters of classical piano study. It also would be the degree completion for the first grandchild. And a "passport" that she has been longing for that enables her to take that final step into the "real world." And it was most importantly a celebration, mixed with some emotion as the rest of our family would be moving to Delaware the next day.
The auditorium seats were full with 60-odd friends and relatives coming to Truman State (between 3- and 6-hours' drive for some of the audience). Megan played tremendously well, and I'm not just saying that because I'm her mother! Megan's progression through the years is more evident to me as I've attended her recitals. And I was so proud to listen as she played more difficult pieces for this final semester. It is a testament to her diligent practice schedule, which is often behind the scenes away from family and friends. The head of the piano department and her studio professor both exclaimed their pleasure after her splendid performance.
The first Beethoven Sonata featured three movements (much like his "Inventions" that she was continually memorizing in high school). I love listening to the variations of Beethoven. And luckily, no one clapped in between the first Allegro and the Scherzo. She was so poised as her fingers fairly flew.
Her program next included a Debussy piece, which SHOULD be on the soundtrack of the next "Jane Austen" film or Masterpiece Classic. Beautiful tinkling notes that put me in mind of a spring afternoon tea party in the garden.
Finally, she played a Chopin Nocturne, in honor of Margie Cameron-Jarrett (her high school piano teacher). The way she gently struck the final two notes in perfect unison was enchanting, and the audience seemed reluctant to break the spell.
(More posts to follow soon with photos of the dress, the programme, the Country Club reception, and party-goers.)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happiness Medicine

Throughout the past 12 months, Captain kept noticing that I was calmer and happier and remarked on it. My regular blood work showed that it was true in the sense that my need for thyroid medicine was less and less. I had been on the SAME dose for 9 years, but this year I've worked my way down to half a dose every day. I think that is significant and says something about my stress levels. Life was still quite busy and full of challenges, but a seven-month adventure to Nashville was good for me.
Today, I am happy because I'll be picking up Captain from the airport for his weekend visit after being separated for two weeks.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Who is the Rowdy Gentleman?

Here's a little secret: Dorito loves Twitter.
He found a couple of clever sites that he can relate to and then he retweets the wittiest phrases.
@TotalFratMove is a play on the "preppy" stereotype of fraternity men and their thoughts about life
@RowdyGentleman takes adages and rewords them to show his advantage
Total Frat Move is claiming that even Jesus went Greek: Alpha Omega.
Total Frat Move is taking credit where credit is actually due to a pledge.
Rowdy Gentleman likes to go golfing, but he leaves after nine holes if the cart girl isn't good looking.
As a kid, Rowdy Gentleman recalls taking his own putter to the mini-golf course.
So you can see why I have to apologize and explain to people in line at the post office why I am bursting out with laughter. "Sorry, I'm reading Tweets on my phone!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Doing Their Bit of the Chores

I have been putting the twins to work in Missouri so that our house stays appealing to potential buyers. They have mowed twice, trimmed bushes, spread fertilizer, and sprayed edges for dandelions. Yesterday they were very helpful as I wanted to split hostas. We have also spent three afternoons cleaning oak leaves from under bushes, behind pool furniture, and along the fence line. Today they stained the worn patches on the front and east sides of the house. Tomorrow we vacuum the pool and clean the cover. It's almost enough to make me swear off home ownership.
As a reward, the guys are headed to Buffalo Wild Wings to see game 3 (or 4?) of the series between the Blackhawks and the Blues. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Final Parties

Spencer won the "Crown Royal" award at AGD Formal. I think Meggar may have the longest-standing relationship in the sorority... But it's also a worthy crown, since he is such a good fella.
So far, I'm out of the family pool since I bet they would get engaged in March.
St. Patty's Day

Monday, April 21, 2014

The True Meaning of Easter

We didn't get a family Easter photo yesterday.
But we prayed together over the phone.
And we are striving for unity though separated by great distance.
I still made Easter eggs (just four) and set a pretty table--staying flexible for the meal time to work into the meshed schedules. Ham and potatoes, spring peas, bread, and strawberry shortcake for dessert.
Meggar was in St. Louis for client interviews, apartment hunting, and a business event.
Dorito spent most of his weekend studying.
He attended Easter Vigil in Kansas City at Ascension parish, where his pledge brother, Daniel, was baptized and confirmed into the Catholic Church. I heard that Daniel was pleased to have so many Phi Kaps there for support and was grinning the whole time! His parents, however, did not attend. I don't think they are against religion, but were not interested enough to attend. I sent up extra prayers for Daniel.
Sniper and Playmaker got home mid-day from playing hockey in Chicago, that makes them tired but happy. (Oops-leaving so early they forgot their suits in the hotel closet.)

Captain went to a sunrise service and later ate dinner with a homeschool family in Delaware.
Luckily, I talked to a few friends on the phone and that reminded me of God's blessings.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

He is Risen Indeed

Everyone loves to sing "Alleluia" and "Jesus Christ is Risen Today."
I played the old organ at St. Mary's for early mass this Easter morning, since they needed a substitute musician. I also was eager to see their newly painted church interior. It's a beautiful update from the 70s foam green and accentuates the statues, dome, and side altars more appropriately. On Easter, I appreciate the extra chanted parts of the mass, especially with a priest who has a good voice like Fr. Haake!
The best homily, however, was when I went with the twins to a later service. Fr. Jambon talked about the historical facts of the resurrection. There are writings from Caesar and Jewish historians that a figure named Jesus was killed and laid in the tomb, and later his tomb was found empty. This is substantiated by the customs of the day. Romans were great conquerers, but also superstitious of the 'gods.' Therefore it was entirely forbidden to touch, move, or open any gravesite (even of your enemies). And the Jews and Pharisees were not going to steal the body, not on the Sabbath, not after they asked for the crucifixion. Furthermore, the apostles were not going to steal Jesus' body since they were still in shock from having denied the Lord and watching his death put an end to their expectations for the future. Doubtless, they could not have conjured a "Mission Impossible" in just 70 hours. Frankly there were too many guards at the tomb. Then Mary Magdalen comes before dawn and discovers the empty tomb. I can imagine the chaos afterward.
"For they did not yet understand the Scripture 
that he had to rise from the dead."(John 20:9)
God's plan is not always what we expect.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Testing the First Group

Captain sat in with a class of seven other pilots this week. He will help teach the next group. Long days plus additional studying each night. Today was their closed-book exam to qualify for the type rating. Captain also had to take the test, since it's been a while since he trained on the Westwind. About 2:00, he called and reported he scored 100%. Just like riding a bicycle... I'm so PROUD of him!!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Surrounded by Divine Mercy on Good Friday

The origin of "Divine Mercy" comes from Good Friday the centurion who peirced Our Lord's side with a lance. And immediately blood and water gushed forth. An eye witness has testified to this fact so you will know that it is true. He knows he is telling the truth, and he testifies so that you may also believe.
"O blood and water 
which poured forth 
from the Heart of Jesus
as a fount of mercy for us,
I trust in Thee."

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Thursday

This day became my favorite one of the Church calendar when I was in a London bookshop and found a paperback called "Maundy Thursday." I just liked the antique-sounding word. The definition most nearly means "mandate," which I only learned this year. It is a French word, mandé, and it relates to John 13:14 and the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples after washing their feet at the Last Supper:
If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him."
Many churches continue the tradition today. The dictionary states: "There will be washing of the feet of the poor or distributing alms to the poor in connection with the maundy ceremony."
The Catholic Church used the long version of this Gospel passage tonight, and I'm always shocked each year at Our Lord's humility. Even slaves were not made to wash another man's fee. Truly we must all take a servant's heart and be willing to meet the needs of others whom the Holy Spirit guides onto our path.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Video of Diversity

Bill Cosby would agree that Dorito is definitely a Wild Cat!
Here is the You Tube video of his step team!
He is shown far left in the still shot... then
watch the video at :34 and :36 where he is the second from left on front row...
Go to 1:05 to see the Wildcat Steppers!
Dorito ends up in the back row (far left) seen for 3 seconds.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When the Finale is Final

Of course you don't want to move away when you are 16. I understand their feelings, having moved when I was 8 and 13 and 14. The twins attended tonight's Grand Finale of the Homeschool Co-op in St. Joseph knowing it was time to say good-bye to their friends. The process is difficult and fraught with emotion for the ones leaving, who have to put it into words. And you cannot predict how your friends will take the news. I am proud of the courage of my twins, and I wish I could manufacture good news every day to make their futures seem sunny.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Sebelius Resigns

Last week, Kathleen Sebelius resigned from ObamaCare. I was a little surprised, but I shouldn't have been. The Secretary of Health and Human Services stepped down the day after the enrollment period ended (which had been pushed back so many times in order to reach a respectable number) some three-and-a-half-years into the project. Sebelius was overdue for walking away from the whole disaster. I have covered the native Kansan before, since she is one of the figures left from my political days in Topeka in the early 90s. We are glad to be making our last COBRA payment of $1700 and joining the group medical insurance provided at Captain's new job.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

This is Holy Week

Palm Sunday
I must keep my eyes fixed on the passion of Jesus
and his Passion.
Then Jesus said to His disciples,
"If anyone wishes to come after Me,
he must deny his very self,
take up his cross,
and follow Me."
(Matthew 16:24)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Step Right Up

The black fraternity at K-State reached out to the entire Greek community and asked other members to try out for the first-ever "step show" team. The Phi Kaps had already worked on Homecoming with the Phi Beta Sigmas and knew they were cool guys. Besides that, Dorito has a philosophy of "getting his money's worth" during his freshman year by participating in absolutely-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink. So he tried out (of course), and he made the team (of course). He loves dancing (ever since that ballroom class with Hannah Mason in high school before prom).
What I didn't know was the amount of time he devoted to the preparation. They practiced three days a week for the past 7-8 weeks. What an impressive show they put on! All I know how to do is stomp my foot when I'm upset but this was totally choreographed rhythms and steps that created its own "music." Even Willie the Wildcat made an impromptu addition to the Wildcat Steppers part of the show. Other teams came from OU, KU, and U of Minnesota and were serious talented.
The competition was a Phi Beta Sigma fundraiser for scholarships, and Dorito had a large group of supporters: there were 19 of the 32 guys from his own fraternity, plus 5 girl friends and 3 moms. So he raised more than $120 alone, and the Forum Hall was sold out.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Starting off in Delaware

We used our time wisely this week while staying with Captain in Delaware and learning about Wilmington and its suburbs. The twins also did some homeschool in the mornings and took their resumes around in the afternoons. They went to 4-5 places for lifeguarding jobs (at country clubs and swimming pool associations). They were brave about cold calling, interviews, and they were both offered a job already! They can work full-time this summer at the outdoor pool at the University of Delaware (Newark campus), and the manager said he would use them this fall for the ice rink/skate school/concession stand indoors.
I also did a few interviews with tutoring centers. There was a great discrepancy in cost and quality among them, but I am pleased that "Back to Basics" can offer me steady hours right away this summer.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Parting Thoughts

The invitations have been sent...
the posters have been hung...
Bachelor of Arts in Music
Piano Concentration
Minor in English

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cause for Alarm

Captain learned a trick with his defibrillator on his first week of work, and he laughed as he proceeded to show it to us today. He originally discovered it in the restroom, where he was adjusting the name badge on his shirt. It was a magnetic name badge (which is convenient, especially for women who don't appreciate having stick-pin holes in their garments later). However, it was closer than 6 inches to his device. Therefore the device sensed a magnet blocking its ability to defibrillate you, and set off a long-beep. Not too quiet. Not too loud. But a noticeable alarm. I wasn't laughing, but the twins thought it was cool.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Secret Graduatiion

Meggar will hopefully graduate tonight. She will play Chopin, Mozart, and Debussy. Seveeral pieces. No one will be there--except the head of the department and her piano instructor! This is her preliminary senior recital. They want to ensure she is ready before her public performance. She claims she is not nervous, but I will be praying nonetheless.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Steady, Old Hands

We stopped by the Center this weekend, and the twins each took a turn in the simulator.  This one is old (i.e. paid for) and burns no fuel, so to speak.  Playmaker went first and acted like it was old hat to land a medium-sized corporate jet. Even Sniper had a good turn around the pattern and made a good landing (though not as soft handed as his brother). Later in private, the other instructor told Captain how good the twins did compared to some clients he has seen with 500 hours of logbook time who thump it down on the runway because they aren't used to heavy airplanes. Well, well. Just chips off the old block, I'd say.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Way of the Cross

Stations of the Cross are a common prayer service on Friday nights during Lent. We were invited by the Beckmeyer family to watch their kids in Living Stations. It was phenomenal! This is first time I had heard of it. St Anthony of Padua parish (in the Italian section of the city) originated this Via Crucis tableau in 1959. Such a tradition! There were children from ages 4-17 doing the pantomime scenes, while an adult read in the background. The teen Christ and his apostles were very smooth, and that made for excellent contemplation for the audience. The Roman soldiers and Pilate were super serious and tastefully realistic.  They raised the cross on a tall platform between the altar and tabernacle. Amazing. The closing scene left only the two candle bearers with the priest in the dark church. In the vast quietness, I felt even more alone. Of course, our family has been living very close to God while acknowledging our total dependence on Him as we try various paths and see which one works out.
The twins and I came here to visit Captain for a week, and it was appropriate to begin our time together in Church. With homeschoolers. I was thinking how stunning the church was--easily the size and contents of a great cathedral in other cities. I am reminded how Jesus gave everyone free will and forgiveness. That is our role during Lent, too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How Can There Be Too Many Books?

I held a book sale today in the parking lot where homeschool families meet for a weekly afternoon co-op. It was sunny and successful! Now I wish I had kept count of how many books I started with, or how many I actually sold (lots were priced at 25¢ and several at $1). I started with 16 boxes full. Which is amazing since we only have 6 book cases at home. I must be pretty organized with those 30+ shelves. Anyhow I tried not to be sad about the "good" books going to other homes. Especially since there was $400 in my pocket. Mostly I focused on the other "Sonlight moms" as they talked about their favorite readers, and which ones made them cry in front of their kids! A group of us stood there and could almost quote lines from "One Hundred Dresses" and "Billy & Blaze" and "Little Britches" and "Wheel on the School." But the biggest impression upon me was how many of these books Meggar has read. True, she was the child who stayed in my homeschool the longest, so she had the longest benefit from my standard 30-minutes of read-aloud time after lunch. She is also an avid reader herself. So that when I add up all the school books, library books, read alouds, and then her own shelf of interests and "pleasure reading," it gave me an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Now that's enough to make a mom cry.