Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm Rather Biased

This afternoon and evening was my son's forensics tournament. They were the hosts and I was a judge.

Oh the power!

I haven't participated in all of this since I was in school. It was fun to see it from the other side of the room as a judge.

When we had a break, we spent it in the hospitality room eating goodies the kids' parents provided (me being one of them). Some of the kids picked up conversation with us about what we were doing and had fun talking about the differences in forensics between now and when we were kids.

When I was a senior we did a short piece from a play we'd put on earlier in the season - probably about five of us. Apparently they don't have that as a category anymore. They don't do improv either. Drat!

Participating in these types of events provide wonderous opportunity to find out what your kid is like when he is away from you too. It seems that my son can be alot more animated in certain classes and around certain people.

I knew he could be with his close buddies but hadn't ever realized he was that way at school. School has always been "boring" - oh, that dreaded "b" word. So find me surprised to learn from several of the students that he's alot of fun in forensics class and choir.

By the way, several girls even told me that he was the best tenor in the entire choir. Of course, I've always thought that but then I'm a bit biased. Are they too maybe? Hmm, hmmm, hmmmm?

Tee-hee! I had so much fun getting behind the scenes looks at my son and how school activities operate nowdays. It's amazing the things you find out about your kids when you talk to some of their cohorts without your kid around.

Just to give my son's ego a little boost, I told him what some of his fellow students commented about his singing ability. Wouldn't tell him who, because that wasn't the material point, just that he is well-respected when it comes to his singing.

And his humor. Too bad he didn't get to participate in the humerous interp. Have a feeling he could have brought down the house with that one.

Then again, I'm rather biased.

Monday, March 30, 2009


The votes are in - GRAND CHAMPIONS!!!

My son returned just before midnight last night to show me their sweep of the choir contest. First place in mixed choirs. First place in ladies choir. First place in men's choir.

Overall Grand Champions.

The trophy and medal collections were magnificent. My son quickly took me in the choir room at the high school and showed me their plunder. Even though tired, he seemed quite animated in his description of the event.

The excitement waned rather drastically as soon as he stepped through the door at home. The cats were so happy to see him (Toby particularly), so I let him pet and cuddle them briefly.

But morning was already upon us, so he got ready for bed and hit the pillows. Doubt if he even remembered hitting the bed, much less the pillows. Needless to say, it was difficult for both of us to get up this morning but particularly for him. As Grand Champions, I figured they should get a little reprieve from today's study requirements but, as I told him on the way to school this morning, this is a part of life. Sometimes we've got to take the bad with the good.

Upcoming Saturday is regionals so there will be no reprieve this week for the weary soul.

I've a feeling he's looking forward to a nap this afternoon. I know I am.

In the meantime, I've alot of people to notify of their incredible accomplishment.

Congratulations, Mr. Engels and choir.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

They're On Their Way

My son called a little while ago to tell me that they'd crossed into Oklahoma on their way back from their Memphis trip.

Just a few more hours and he'll be home. Said he had some awesome news to tell me when he got back. I asked him if they won the grand prize contest trophy, but he wouldn't say anything more.

The little stinker!

So now I have to wait until around midnight for his return to find out this great news. By then I may be too tired to care.

Naaaah! I'm so excited for him - I just know they won.

He did share with me that their teacher told them that the school was going to require them to attend tomorrow morning.

Say what?

Their schedule (approved by the school, mind you) showed that they were excused from school tomorrow since their return would be so late. He's got an important forensics tournament Tuesday that I will be participating in as a judge (oh the power!). Those kids are going to desperately need some sleep.

Unless they won the grand prize. Then I can understand their desire to be present for accolades when the results are announced at school tomorrow.

So I have to wait a few more hours to discover the results. Great - now I won't be able to sleep either.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Beginning To Look Alot Like Christmas

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas!

But it's almost April - funny thing about spring in Kansas. Rarely do you leave March without the biggest snowstorm of the year. We got a whopper yesterday and today.

It quit snowing about mid-afternoon, much to my chagrin. We didn't quite get the accumulation they predicted, partly because of the back-and-forth between ice and snow. Ended up with more ice than snow, but boy it would have been a mountainous drift if it'd all been snow.

It's something I rarely tire of - snow, that is.

Snow makes me feel like a kid, the rapturous fascination with watching it fall and cover the grass until there's nothing but white. Then when the sunshine comes back out, it's almost like a covering of diamonds.

Hurts the eyes, but oh so pretty.

Shortly after it stopped, I went out to my car to start the process of unburying the encased vehicle. Needed to see if I could eventually get it out and check the main roads. Since it's been two days since I've seen human habitation, I really wanted to try to go to church tomorrow.

A couple of hours later, I was thrilled to see the road crews out and about clearing the mass of ice and snow. They'd already done a great job on the main highways. KUDOS to our road crews. They are always standing by during bad weather for the moment the storm stops. Then they are in their trucks and out on the highways regardless of the day or time.

Give those guys a raise!

So even though Christmas is still several months away, I'm thankful to be getting out of my ice-encased home to head to church tomorrow morning.

Just not looking forward to the freezing temperatures. Be a good morning to wear a pantsuit.

Then give it a couple of days and we'll be back into the sixties. Hello - Kansas!

Friday, March 27, 2009

This IS Kansas After All

Today has held the most interesting of weather.

Started off with some ice pellets with a few lighting flashes and thunder rumbles thrown in for effect.

Then it started to snow.

Then it went back to ice.

Then snow.

Then ice.

You get the picture. We've been on the ice and snow line on the map all day long. I'd really hoped it would end up being more snow than ice. I'm just thankful that my son and his choir were able to get away last night before this crazy weather set in.

At the moment we are in a little pocket of nothing, but it shouldn't last for long. The radar shows a dark band of blue just about to hit us.

That is unless it goes back to ice. "Sigh!"

Well, have to admit, I'd begged and pleaded for a big, honking snowstorm before the month was out. The Lord answered with a resounding "yes" - you think?

Last reports were that by the end of this tomorrow evening we could have as much as 16 inches.

Bring it!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's What Mother's Do Best

Tonight is the start of my son's big Memphis choir trip. I know he'll have a really good time.

Only thing is he started sniffling quite a bit in the last 24 hours. I'm a little concerned that he may be coming down with something, so I sent him with a good kit of some helpful medicine to get him through - just in case.

Of course, he'd never in a million years admit he wasn't feeling good, particularly if that meant missing a trip.

Oh boy. I sure hope he's good come June when he leaves for Europe.

But this is only a few days out and then home again. They've got a full schedule of activities, concerts, and such so I hope his voice holds up. Then next weekend he's got two solos to sing for regionals and the group songs. Then there's state. It's a busy month coming up.

I know he'll be fine. Just being overly-protective.

It's what mother's do best!

Regardless, I know the trip will be fun for him even if he isn't feeling quite up to par. I told him to be sure and take some pictures of Graceland for his grandma. She was quite the Elvis fan in her younger years.

Meanwhile, I'll be home praying for a safe and productive trip - and throw in a prayer that he's feeling okay.

We mother's tend to do that too, you know.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Starting To Get To Me

Something hit me over the weekend. I'm starting to feel a bit nervous about the job situation. I've had one job interview in the last two months. Yes, the industry has been hit hard, but gee!

Figured there would be a little more activity. Initially there was but it has waned drastically during the last couple of weeks. It's starting to get to me now that this could go on for awhile. Oh boy.

Been trying to make unemployment stretch as far as possible so that I don't have to supplement from savings. Really glad now that I've been doing that because my savings might just have to last me when unemployment runs out. Oh gosh, never thought I'd actually come to that but reality is rapidly bearing down.


Nothing more has yet to happen with the job I'd interviewed for, but she did warn me that they've got alot going on at the moment and don't have a definite timeline for the position yet. Just hate to be hanging my hat on only one peg though. Sure would be nice to have a couple of irons in the fire about now.

But I did pray that God would open a new path if that was in His plan. My only problem is that I don't have a clue about how to go about pursuing my passions in a way that would provide some sort of immediate income. Wish He'd just point out the path and exactly where I need to go to get there, but that is rarely His way. Just wish it wasn't so scary.

For now I'll continue to pray and keep my eyes and ears open to His leading. Maybe He'll hold onto my fear in the meantime too.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Finding the Passion

Spring break is now sprung.

Yes, my son and I returned safely home Saturday night and he returned safely to school this morning.

They're getting ready for their Memphis trip and festival contest. Then it's regionals and state competition. This year they have enough guys in the various choirs at school that they are able to participate in state large group competition for the men's category. It was great hearing an entire choir of guys at their last concert!

My son also has two solos he's been preparing for competition and regionals. Really hope he does well and is able to make it to state as a soloist. He's been really busy.

Won't believe this, but he also tried out Sunday afternoon for the worship team at our church. We have two different types of services - classic service, which is where I sing with the choir and praise teams, then contemporary service where my son currently attends. Contemporary has a worship leader and then alternating worship teams that lead music.

I wasn't sure if they'd let him try out since he's only sixteen but they had him sing a little bit, practice some of the harmony part and then sing with one of the ladies. Don't know if he'll get it or not, but that doesn't really matter so much to me.

I'm just so proud of him for taking courage and trying out. It's really been such a great year for him and I hope it continues to be so. He's really stretching himself and exploring his gifts. I'd love to see him find a way to utilize his passion as his source of income someday.

It's something I wish I'd have figured out a little sooner. I just didn't know which way to turn when I was younger, as I was really good at several different things. Would have been nice to have had someone help guide me in that regard.

Which is one reason why I'm really trying to pay attention to what he'd like to do and surround him with opportunities to get out there and just do it.

Next stop - Memphis.

But Europe is coming.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Start of Spring

So spring break starts.

My son's spring break started this week. Funny, when I was in school we usually thought of spring break starting at 3:05 on a Friday. Times change I guess.

He and his best buddy decided to do a sleepover here at our house. They've been playing video games all evening. I've been reading.

Finished the book by Stephen Ambrose - Band of Brothers. Marvelous book. I'll try to write a review tomorrow.

Later this week we're going to be heading off to visit family down in Oklahoma. My dad and I will be finalizing offers on some of the houses around here that we've previously looked into purchasing as rental homes. I really hope it works out on a couple of them, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Otherwise I'm on round two of antibiotic treatment for this stupid ear infection. Now I'm up to 875 milligrams twice a day for a grand total of 1,750 milligrams a day. If this doesn't work it's surely going to kill me.

Boy, I can be a real complainer sometimes. :-)

I'm just glad for a chance to get some rest this week. My son is happy for it too. He's been staying up late writing the last few nights, something I need to get back into doing as soon as I'm able.

Then there's the hope of the second interview for the job possibility. Just waiting and hoping and praying for the right thing to happen either with this job or another. Not throwing in the towel until the good offer comes through.

In the meantime, I need to take advantage of the time I have remaining. Hope it won't be too much longer until employment finds me once again.

But it can wait until after spring break is over with.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Treasure Hunt

For movie night tonight we watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

You know, I just love those treasure hunting, map following, X-marks-the-spot kind of shows. The whole Indiana Jones and National Treasure series are completely up my alley. There's treasure hunting in my blood.

It reminds me of when I was a little girl. My sisters and I would create these treasure hunting scenarios around our home for each other. We'd start off with a clue that led to a clue that led to a clue...you get the picture.

Then at the end there would always be a delicious little "treasure" to satisfy the sweet-tooth after all that brain work. Maybe there'd even be a glass of milk or a soda to wash it all down.

That was always part of the fun too - using one's brain to make sense of the mysteries and riddles along each step of the way. We could blow an entire day or weekend creating quest after quest. Felt like a veritable Nancy Drew or Jacque Cousteau.

Too I used to watch those old treasure hunting diving type shows. Love Clive Cussler novels like the first one I read, appropriately named "Treasure".

At one time I thought about going into archaeology as my life's work. I still love dirt and dead things but found out that the hot, sweaty, dirty work wasn't really my first love.

Still I can't help but watch these silly movies, TV shows, and dream about the days of my own treasure hunting with my sisters. The memories will always be sweet.

I feel the need for a piece of chocolate cake and milk.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Return

I finally made it back to critique group again tonight!

After being away for several months for the play last year and then off for the month of December, I was really looking forward to seeing everyone in January.

Made it to one group meeting but there were only a couple of us there. Then there was the annual retreat that I unfortunately had to miss, and then the blessed ear infection.

Gosh, it's been a rough winter.

So we made it back together tonight (minus Mighty Bri). Felt good to see everyone. By this point, I've had a few months to get used to my new haircut (that isn't so new anymore) so was surprised when there was a comment about my hair. Felt silly when I had the "duh" moment.

It's just nice to know people notice the important things in life - even after not seeing each other for months on end.

That's when you know you've got good friends.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Post-Interview Interview

I've been on the phone almost non-stop since I returned home from my interview. Since my son has his big contest concert tonight in preparation for their Memphis trip, I'd better go ahead and blog while I have time.

As I've mentioned, it's been more than ten years since I last interviewed for a job. When I get a job I usually stay for quite some time. It's a matter of loyalty, you know. To prepare I emailed and talked to a friend of mine that has been in HR most of her adult life. In order to feel somewhat good about the process I wanted to ensure I was "up" on the current interview techniques. The most important thing she told me was to just be myself.

I must have been well prepared because the interview went very well. We talked, asked questions of each other, and just discussed our general viewpoints on certain related issues. There were several times I was very frank, but I got the impression she appreciated that. Later in the interview she highlighted certain components of their culture. Each time it was a reflection of something I'd told her earlier about my own viewpoint. Ding-ding-ding, we have a winner!

Needless to say the interview went for about an hour and ahalf - pretty good, I'd think. They're going to be making decisions on candidates for secondary interviews soon. I've a good feeling I may be in the running.

As I was driving home I reviewed the job description she'd handed me. If I may be so bold, it sounds like the job was written just for me.

Hey, it is a fairly new position too. Hmmmm. :-)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Soldier Shout-out

Today I had to take the car in for an oil change and service. Since I need transportation it's money that must be spent. It wasn't supposed to take very long so I decided to start reading a book I borrowed from a friend - "Band of Brothers" by Stephen E. Ambrose.

I'm only about fifty-five pages into it but can already tell that I'm really going to enjoy this book. It's like looking at World War II from the inside - well, I guess it really is an inside look through the eyes of Easy Company.

There was apparently an HBO miniseries created from this book but not sure if I will watch it. War movies are not my favorite fare, what with the obviously gruesome content that surely awaits in their battles. I realize blood and guts are an unfortunate part of battle, but I just don't want to fill my mind with the actual images.

Believe me - I have a vivid enough imagination to understand what is to come just from reading. The fact that this represents very real events and very real people makes it too important to try and trivialize by watching it mindlessly on a screen.

So when I'm finished with the book I will possible discuss some of what I read in a review. Already my respect for these soldiers is swelling. No telling what it will be like by the time I'm done.

God bless our soldiers - each and every one.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Phantom Phascination

My son is a rabid "Phantom" fan.

This week he asked me to order him the soundtrack from the movie that came out a few years ago. Don't know why we didn't get it in the first place. He's also been looking at the track version of the songs. A bit pricey, but since he was paying he wanted to go ahead and order that too.

So we did. Next year he's going to be in theatre and wants to work on the drama instructor to see if he can talk her into doing "Phantom of the Opera" his senior year.

He wants to play the masterful yet troubled phantom.

Then this summer in Europe they are seeing the London Theatre's production of "Phantom".

I can understand his obsession. Ever since I can remember, I've loved the story, the music, the passion.

Many years ago they came out with a television version (non-musical/opera) that was okay, but without the musical components it was rather bland.

I watched it anyway. :-)

Since my son was away at a forensics tournament last night we decided to have our movie and pizza tonight. You'll never guess what we watched.

You got it - "Phantom of the Opera". I never really get tired of it either.

But something was different tonight. The music always captures me and carries me away with it. However, watching it tonight I was so much more engaged with the story than I've ever been before.

I cried!

Tonight I saw through the music. I saw the depth of the story, the depth of the torment, the anguish, and ultimately the love the phantom showed Christine when he let her go and released her to love someone else.

Not sure yet why it touched me so. Wish it wasn't time change weekend so that I could stay up and explore this. Maybe it has a little bit to do with how my son relates so much to the phantom, all the hurts and pain of the past weighing him down and how he finally releases it.

Perhaps we can have a conversation about it. Perhaps I'm reading more into it than there truly is.

I have a tendency to do that, you know.

In the meantime, I will be thankful for allowing it to touch me in the manner it did tonight. Music always reaches me where nothing else can.

But tonight it was the story. Go figure.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Well Glory Be

Well glory be - two great days in a row.

This afternoon I got my son off to his second forensics tournament (they were out of school today), had lunch with some dear friends, and got a request for a job interview.

Yes, you read that right - I HAVE A JOB INTERVIEW!

It's about stinking time.

This is with a company I've been excited about the prospect of working for. Small, local firm with forward-thinking, growth-oriented goals - that's what I'm talking about.

The possibility of working for this company is the only thing that has had me thrilled in the job search arena. However, I put in my application for two different positions with them almost two months ago. Hadn't heard a thing since. Was disappointed to say the least.

Then out of the blue (while I was very sick, mind you) I received a message from their HR department. Called them back twice with no response.

Figured they might be a bit busy but was very anxious to hear back from them. This is the only company that has made my heart do a little up-tick at the thought of working for them.

Shortly upon my return from lunch, I received a phone call from their HR manager. She apologized for not having returned my calls (returning her call) and that they'd been quite busy the last couple of weeks.

No problem! I was just glad to talk to her now.

We've set up an interview appointment for next Tuesday at 11:00.

For anyone out there reading, if you're a praying sort I'd appreciate as many prayers to the Lord as possible at the moment. Seeking His guidance in the job search.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What a Happy, Happy Day

It's been a very nice day.

And I'm not talking just about the weather.

Received an email from the real estate agent about a property that had another contract on it and was supposed to close by now. I was very disappointed that a contract was written up before I'd had a chance to see inside the property and show it to my dad. Really seemed like it would be a really cute rent house.

The huge lot wasn't bad either. Great feature for a young family with kids.

So yesterday I received the email from him that the financing had fallen through for the buyers and the contract likely wasn't going anywhere. Therefore he'd been given the thumbs up to show the house. Went to see it this afternoon.

Just as I thought - great rent home potential.

Made a ton of notes, really inspected the property inside and out, and saw only a few minor things that needed to be dealt with. Piece of cake! Emailed my parents all the data and made a recommendation to them about making an offer.

Plus the weather was extremely nice for getting out and seeing the property. Great excuse to get me away from the computer.

Then my son came home from school and puttered away to his best buddy's house for the rest of the afternoon. Called a few hours ago and made plans to spend the night over at his house. Yippee! A whole evening all to myself.

So I made good use of the time. Periodically I go through periods where I like to write song lyrics. Need to get a refresher on music theory and peck out the tune on the piano if I want to finish, but it felt good to just do some writing. Song lyrics really come up from the deep when I'm in the mood.

Earlier that evening, I decided to get out and just go down to the city park and relax, take in the fresh air, enjoy the sunset, and checkout the budding trees.

That's what got me thinking of a song.

Several years ago I was going gang-busters in my music. Then life happened and I had to step back to devote time to restoration of mine and my son's lives. Been a difficult road at times. Been frustrating not having the voice to express myself in song. That's where the depths of my heart were left in the cold.

In looking at the trees, anticipating their renewed vigor just waiting to burst forth from the branches, I got to thinking about my own life.

The trees may appear dead and decaying in winter, but they aren't dead merely dormant. Life still courses in their veins and is only waiting the end of the dormancy to burst forth with a reflection of new life.

I guess my life has at times felt in the winter. My life has lain dormant for many years not only a season. But just like those trees, life is still coursing through my veins waiting to burst forth.

So I wrote the song tonight. Felt good to write something - anything - again. Felt good to think about music again. Felt great to get out in the amazing sunshine today.

Yes sir-ee-bob! It's been a marvelous day.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Flowers and Phantoms

With spring on the horizon, I've been dreaming of flowers.

That's right - it's just about time for the annual spring planting of the annuals (tee-hee). Of course, this year it will be trimmed down some.

Even though I'll need to be careful about spending money at the moment, I've got to do a little bit of floral gardening and getting my hands in the dirt. Gardening is what keeps me sane (and outdoors). I may need to take about $100 from savings to just start one little garden plot.

Last year I'd planned to create a couple of neat gardens around our new house come spring. But then there was the big and unexpected Europe trip opportunity for my son and all funds needed to be on deck for that. The trip is paid for and the uniform is purchased, along with the London Theatre ticket to see Phantom of the Opera.

Now I find myself unemployed.

It won't take much money for me to get a small plot prepared and planted with a few choice items. Just does so much for my soul that the bit of cash will be worth every cent expended. Maybe I should invest in a few perennials instead of annuals to make the money worthwhile for the future.

There's just something so soothing about connecting with God's green earth. Life may feel chaotic, but the richness of the soil draws peace from chaos like sucking poison from a wound. Plus there is the satisfaction of the hard work put into it when the garden explodes in color. I can get alot of mileage for the mind from a few moments digging around in the ground.

Yep - gonna have to plant me a flower garden this year.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Hope on the Horizon

Received my unemployment card over the weekend.

Gosh, I hated filing for unemployment. I've typically had a good savings built up. Still have some, but it will have to be utilized to supplement unemployment as needed until something more comes up on the job front.

Hopefully it won't be too much longer.

Actually I received a call back message for an interview from a company I applied with a couple of months ago. Guess I didn't make their initial cut, but I'm finally getting at least a foot in the door.

We've been playing a bit of phone tag and haven't been able to connect. I'm hoping tomorrow that I'll finally reach her live and in person and we can get an interview scheduled.

This is a company I'd really like to consider working for. Small, but growth oriented company that is really going places in the area. That's the kind of ship I like to sail on - forward thinking and small enough to still have good input in helping to achieve goals.

Which is one reason I jumped on this job opening initially when it popped up. Not a perfect fit, but I can always learn procedures. It's just the chance to get involved somewhere where I think I could have great input.

Hopefully I'll get that chance.