Previous month:
September 2013
Next month:
November 2013

October 2013 entries

Family Fun Night: Pumpkin Style

Since school started, we have reserved Friday for our family night. We avoid rehearsals and other commitments on that night if we possibly can. Tonight, we carved pumpkins. Mike and I carved the pumpkins, based on drawings the kids made. Aidan's is the happy one; Ellie's is the spooky one. Liam and I worked together. :)

Happy Halloween!

Family Fun Night: Pumpkin Style

Family Fun Night: Pumpkin Style

Family Fun Night: Pumpkin Style

Family Fun Night: Pumpkin Style


Naturally Funny

Little Liam is coming into his own now that he is three, and a great sense of humor has come along with it. He knows when he is being funny, and he finds ways to make people laugh.

Two days ago, we were walking to the van and he was singing at the top of his lungs, "I'm going on a bear hunt...going on a bear hunt...gonna catch a big one! Gonna catch a big one!"

Me: "Are you going on a bear hunt, Liam?"

Liam: sudden straight face, lower voice, "Nah, I don't feel like it."

Love this kid!

Naturally Funny


Oct 23: Happy Birthday, Michael!

Yes! I'm finally back to being younger than my husband. Phew! I made him a delicious meal (Olive Garden take out), he got a jammin' speaker system (my dad bought it, then decided he didn't want and gave it to me) and then I served homemade pumpkin cheesecake (local bakery on my lunch period). It was a great day!! Happy 34, dear.

Now I'm off to read a new book: "How to Care for an Aging Spouse."

Oct 23: Happy Birthday, Michael!

Oct 23: Happy Birthday, Michael!

Oct 23: Happy Birthday, Michael!


Memory Lane

I love changing the kids' pictures when the new ones arrive. I keep the old ones in the frames, and it's always fun looking at the pictures from the past. Liam loved this one of Ellie...I think he thought it was a friend from daycare at first. I think it kind of looks like what Liam would look like if he were a girl!

Of course, when I showed him the one of Aidan at age 21 months, he said, "That's me!"

The big kids' new pics are awesome this year. I can't wait to see Liam's when they come in. #momprobs

Memory Lane

Memory Lane

Memory Lane

Memory Lane


Only in Roaring Spring...

My dad's knee replacement surgery went well, and as Mom and I are waiting to see him, I offer these observations and amusements.

1. Mom was given a waiting slip number, 518, for Dad. Are we at the deli? "I'll take a half-a-pound-a turkey."

2. Only in Roaring Spring does the little old lady volunteering at the waiting room phone station announce that she is going home and that if the phone rings, we should answer it.

Do you doubt me? See photographic evidence below.

Mom was the first one to answer it. And yes, I had the privilege of letting #520 know the call was for them.

3. Spontaneously, Mom informs me that I wear my wedding and engagement rings wrong. Yikes! 10 years of ill-placed jewelry? I googled it on my iPad (first world probs) and Emily Post confirms my placement of wedding band on first, followed by engagement ring, but she adds, "It is ultimately up to the individual," thus making this episode of "GramBusters" a draw.

Is Dad ready for visitors yet?


Only in Roaring Spring...

Only in Roaring Spring...

Only in Roaring Spring...

Only in Roaring Spring...


Road Trip!

I am on the bus back from Penn State University on a beautiful autumn day with 40 of enthusiastic, intelligent, and sensitive drama students. We had the absolute pleasure and awesome privilege of seeing the NYC-based American Place Theatre production of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. I read the book (and Hosseini's stunning second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns) and found myself captivated, transported, and moved. The heart-wrenching story of two boys from different social classes being raised in the same home in Afghanistan is haunting. When I saw that PSU was sponsoring a student matinee of the show, I signed my students up immediately.

(Not kidding...pretty sure my request went in last June.)

I purposely did not tell my students too much about the book because I did not want to create any preconceptions for them. Aside from explaining the sport of kite racing and the term "kite runner," I decided to let them experience the rest for themselves.

The American Place Theatre Literature to Life series features one actor, Sorab Wadia, who expertly assumed the roles of many characters, portraying the villain and hero with equal grace and effectiveness. Prior to the show's start, a teacher who works with the troupe (hello? this is totally a job for me!) talked with the students, asking them to think about when it might be acceptable to lie (if ever) and to think about their childhood relationships.

After the truly entrancing performance which had me in tears no fewer than three times, the teacher and the actor came out to talk to the students again about what they saw. As the discussion went on, it became clear to me that some of my younger students (I brought about 25 freshman) did not understand that Hassan, the 12-year-old servant boy, was not just beaten up by the bullies in the alley: he was raped by three older boys. Amir, the 12-year-old boy in the upper class whom Hassan serves, remains frozen as Hassan is brutally victimized and does not intervene, hence creating the main conflict of the novel. Some of my students were dismissing Amir as "selfish," but just as in real life, his character is much more complex. He's not just "selfish" -- yes, he's preserving himself to a certain extent, but it's so much more. Amir is also a victim of social constructs and miscommunication and conflicting cultural messages he receives from those around him. Once the students understood the vicious nature of the crime, the story became even more powerful to them.

After the discussion ended, I approached the teacher and the actor, to thank them for providing such an amazing opportunity for me and my students. The kids quickly followed my lead and before I knew it, Mr. Wadia gave us 15 minutes of his time, answering questions about character development and acting.

He shared with us that his memorization technique is to start from the end, not the beginning. He was a classical concert pianist and his teacher made him memorize the last movements of his larger works first. Why? Because the end of the piece becomes imprinted as a comfortable place to head instead of starting at the beginning and knowing the first movement really well, then progressing into a lesser-known portion of the piece. As a result, he finds himself gaining in confidence on stage. This piece of advice resonated with a lot of my students.

In addition, he said that the text is key. He said that memorization is only the starting point. Too often students think memorization is the end, but it's really the beginning. Only when the words are part of you can you truly create on stage. He said that it's fundamental to not only know WHAT to say, but WHY you are saying it. He said, "If you don't know why your character is saying what he is saying, then it is better to not say anything at all." Wow. I love it when my students hear some of the same things I have been trying to teach from the mouths of professionals. For one, it validates that I am on the right track, directing wise. For two, it reinforces the concept to my students.

To top it all off, after the show and discussion, a couple of former MAHS students, now PSU students met us and took us to the campus Union Building to have lunch, where the atmosphere was hyped up for Homecoming. We even took a quick walk to the Creamery.

To be sure, this was one of the best field trip experiences I have had. We were exposed to high-quality acting, had the chance to talk individually with a professional actor, and we bonded as a group for our first real event of the year. It's a great day to be Mrs. Connor!

http://www.americanplacetheatre.org

Road Trip!


Making Progress

The play that I'm directing this fall, The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon, is one month from opening! The play is not well-known, though the stories from the Brothers Grimm are. The premise of the show is to present as many of the Grimm fairy tales as possible in two acts. The original endings are kept in tact: Cinderella's stepsisters cut parts of their feet off in order to fit into the golden (not glass) slipper, for example.

I decided early on that the concept of the show would be Storybook Comes to Life. Michael designed a gorgeous poster for me, and the stage is going to feature a large, 3D platform that will look like stacked books, slightly askew. Rapunzel's tower will look like books standing on their ends. I found a really cool design of cut-out trees with text painted on them to make it look like book pages come alive. I'm going to use German titles for the book spines, and original Grimm fairy tales in German for the trees. It's the perfect metaphor for the show.

(Hey, when there is no serious take-home message in the frothy script, I play with symbolism of space. Leave my nerdy self alone!)

My set builder is awesome! He's willing to take my crazy ideas and translate them into real life. He worked all weekend, and it's impressive how much progress we've made! The amount of braces needed in those book platforms in order to make them safe for the kids-- wow! I honestly can say I could never build these structures. It's amazing to see it all come alive.

And the kids are meeting and exceeding my expectations. People say I work a lot, but when my work is this artistic and fulfilling, can I even call it work? I say this nearly every day, but it bears repeating: I love my job!

Making Progress

Making Progress

Making Progress

Making Progress

Making Progress


This is Fall?

While Mike was running church choir rehearsal tonight, the kids and I pretended it was still summer. We spent the entire afternoon and most of the evening outside. We did our homework out back, then went for a walk/run with a dump truck/bike ride.

We ended the night with some reading. As I bathed Liam, Aidan and Ellie hit the books. I was blown away when I found Gabrielle reading The Giving Tree with occasional help from big brother. Amazing what half a marking period in 1st grade can do!!

This is Fall?

This is Fall?

This is Fall?