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October 2009 entries

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: The Musical

Tonight, Aidan and I went to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: The Musical at the Community Arts Center in Williamsport.  SInce Michael needed to be with the Hughesville band, Gabrielle went to Miss Hopkins's house for some "gurls only" play time.  I thought she might be upset that Aidan was going to a show and she wasn't, but apparently time in Miss Hopkins's house, surrounded by cool collectibles and a real, live cat is better than going to a musical.

The musical itself was neat -- the cast consisted of 5 people who played the roles of Peter, Susan, Edmond, Lucy, the Witch, the Wolf, Mr. Tumnus, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, the professor, etc.  It involved quick costume changes and some creative staging.  It lasted about an hour, and Aidan watched the whole presentation with rapt attention. 

At one point, the Witch desperately attempts to conjure snow, despite the presence of Aslan bringing the advent of spring.  She calls for a blizzard is met with silence.  She exclaims, "I said I want a blizzard!" In the silence that followed, some obnoxious kid called out in a high-pitched voice, "I said I want a blizzard!"  The audience laughed out loud at this impertinent child. It was the most laughter I'd heard all night.  The gall.

After the show, I saw a handful of students: one asked me if I noticed that some of the actors played more than one character (Um...Aidan noticed, for heaven's sake.  Silly girl.) and then they said, "Wasn't it so funny when that kid called out the Witch's lines?"  Another piped up, "Yeah, we thought it would be hilarious if it were your kid, Mrs. Connor."

Imagine that.  MY child, calling out a line and getting more of a laugh than any of the actors in the show?  I mean, really, no child of mine would just call out of turn like that, I mean, honestly.


It was Aidan.  There, I said it.

And of course, my students thought THAT was hilarious.  (So did I, not going to lie.)

An Omen?

Yesterday, during my 4th period AP English class, a student reached back from his desk to my desk to get a stapler.  He accidentally knocked my LHU 5K trophy off the desk and it broke into 3 pieces.


He was immediately apologetic and was surprised by my reaction -- laughter.  I thought the whole incident was terribly funny because of the look on his face when he realized what he'd done.  He said, "I can't believe you aren't mad!"  and I replied, "It's just stuff.  I try not to get too attached to material posessions."  And that is true.  I mean, I have some "things" that I cherish and would be devastated if they were destroyed, but I certainly don't keep those items on my desk at school, nor do I believe that my life and memories could not continue in the sad event of their ruin.

Nevertheless, the student felt terrible, but I joked that I hoped it wasn't an omen regarding my running.  The broken wing, one student added, could symbolize a broken ankle.  I hoped not.  Another student advised me to stay away from the gym that day.

I decided to tempt fate, to try my hand against the omen.


I won.

Crossing the Border

On Sunday, as we passed through customs to get back into the States, the officer scruntizing our passports looked around Michael to say a few words to me.  After taking a look at me, he looked at my passport photo, in which I have short blonde hair from 2003, and said, "Has anyone ever told you that you look like Pink?"  I laughed and said no, and he immediately let us cross.


Wanna Make a Bet?

While in Canada, Mike and I stopped in two casinos, briefly.  And I mean briefly.  At one, Mike put $5 in a machine and won $33.50, which was fun, but mostly, we just lost money and then left after playing 1 or 2 games.  At one casino, I overheard a man saying that he gives his wallet to his wife and only spends $20 because he will play all night without stopping.  He also said that one night, he won $1700 on a slot machine.

As we walked around the rooms, I was struck by the sight of people just mindlessly pressing the button on the slot machine computer: hit, nanosecond pause, hit.  The games require absolutely no skill -- it's all chance.  Actually, that was what annoyed me about the games.  I want to win based on my own merit, not computerized chance. 

I felt sad for the people who could not walk away from the machines, who were likely to spend the entire night, waiting for the next turn to bring the big money.  For some, it may have come.  For some of that some, they may have given it right back to the House.  Rinse, wash, and repeat.

Real World Application

The AP English Language and Composition course that I've been teaching this year focuses on rhetoric and argument.  Kids have learned the Aristotelean model (Classical Model) of constructing an argument and have learned to avoid logical fallacies (like the ad hominum, or against the person, attack) and they've been given opportunities to sharpen their argument skills in compositions. 

I love it when what I've been teaching them spills over to real life -- the goal of any decent teacher.  I logged on to Facebook this morning and discovered an entire debate about Christian student clubs and the constitution between a few of my students.  I also entered the conversation (which actually started as one student making a comment last night) and added to the engaging discourse.

One student, an atheist, questioned the Christian Club's right to meet in our school.  I explained that because the club meets prior to school hours and because it is student-run, it doesn't violate Church/State laws.  Another student questioned the first student's "beef" with religion.  She told him that he is "bitter" and that what he worries about is "a complete waste of time."  Hmmm.  Plenty to counter there, which the first student did -- with a four-paragraph post!

One of his main contentions with religious people is their habit of passing their faith down to their children.  He termed it "brainwashing" them.  I responded to that idea, explaining that my husband and I teach our children our faith, but the ultimate goal is for Aidan and Gabrielle to think for themselves. Sure, we hope and pray that they decide to remain Catholic because they want to (not because they think they have to for our sakes) but if they question their beliefs (who doesn't?) then we will respond with love and support. 

It remains to be seen where else this Facebook thread will lead, but as I said, I am really proud of my kids for using what I've taught them to defend their own beliefs and to question the world around them in a rational exchange of opposing viewpoints. 

Happy Birthday, Michael!

Happy 30th Birthday to my husband, Michael.  A milestone to be sure.  We are celebrating by traveling to Niagara Falls, Ontario for the weekend -- we leave after school today!  Aunt Michelle and Uncle Adam are staying with Aidan and Gabrielle at our house until Sunday, and the kids are psyched.  Mike and I can't believe we will have a whole weekend with no work and lots of time to have conversations that aren't interrupted by requests for juice and the potty. 

Getting older is surreal.  As Michael remarked last night, half his life ago, he was in high school.  Half his life.  And since we never know exactly how much time we are given, each day has a way of feeling like a precious commodity.  Aidan awoke early this morning, and he and I went on a "secret mission" to Dunkin Donuts for Daddy's birthday.  On the way there, Aidan was asking me a lot of questions -- there is something about the Subaru that inspires his inquisitive nature -- about age.  Will Gabrielle be older than him after her next birthday?  What will 5 feel like?  Why can't he wear the same snowsuit from last year, just how many inches did he grow while being 4? 

When we are Aidan's age, life is all about moving forward at breakneck speed.  Growing older means privileges, freedoms, independence.  In our twenties, the world is our oyster -- this is what we've all been waiting for.  Legal drinking age, graduating from college and starting a career or pursuing a graduate degree, getting married, having children.  And before we know it, we're facing 30 and 40 as "grown ups", as "parents".  What happened?  In this stage, it seems to be all about elongating the days, making each one last as long as possible, soaking up every joy and moment of love possible.  I feel great in the morning and during the day -- the symbolism is obvious.  Birth, life, sun, warmth, growth.  When night falls, I do pretty well with the routine -- dinner, play, bath, books.  But when I tuck the kids into bed, and we say, "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.  May Angels watch me through the night until I wake in morning light", I can't help but feel a twinge of fear.  Please Lord (you exist, right?) keep my soul (it exists, right?) and send your angels (they're real, right?) to watch over me (wait. why? what might happen?) until I wake in the morning (it's coming, right?).

Maybe this is just what happens to people in their thirties (hey, wait, I'm 29).  Our prefrontal cortex of the brain is fully developed and we realize that we aren't immortal and that we have people who love and depend on us.  Certainly, these milestones cause us to wonder, cause us to be grateful for what we have and for what's ahead.  And for my amazing husband, this decade has brought him the creativity and inspiration to write several ethereal works for chorus, to direct several ensembles and to seek beauty through music.  I'm certain that for him, this is only the beginning. 

To my dear Michael, I wish you joy and happiness and love and peace.  Happy Birthday, sweetheart!


Waking Up Singing

Gabrielle, Michael, and I all woke up and got out of bed before Aidan.  As we busied ourselves with the routine of breakfast, Aidan dreamt on for about 25 minutes.  When he appeared in the kitchen, he immediately broke into song: