Thursday, September 27, 2012

Malcolm Tries Something New

Malcolm was very excited at being introduced to the high chair yesterday:

The food? Not so much:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Six Months

Malcolm is a healthy six-month-old these days. At his appointment he weighed 14.14 lbs (10%), was 26 3/4 inches (55%) and had a head circumference of 44cm (75%). So he gained about half a pound in the last two months and grew a little over two inches. Typical for a kid of ours I'd say. Ryan was surprised though because he feels like Malcolm's getting fatter, and even Gareth asked the other day why Malcolm is so fat. He definitely has a couple more rolls than Gareth did at that age, but it doesn't take much to beat out Gareth in that department.

Catching a non-blurry moment is difficult these days. Despite the blur, the smile here was too cute to pass up.

I tried feeding him some carrots the other day and noticed a rash shortly afterward. The rash is still there, more than a week later, so not food related, but we hadn't fed him any other solids since because I wanted to be sure. His doctor thinks it's the soap we're using at bath time drying out his skin and gave us another type to try, plus some lotion. So, if I can get my act together, he'll start eating cereal and trying new fruits and vegetables over the next few weeks. He also has a yeast infection, so we've now got a prescription to deal with that and hopefully we'll be back to a rash-free baby shortly.

Looking back at old pictures, it appears Gareth was starting to sit up a bit on his own at this point. Malcolm isn't there yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if he crawls before Gareth did, because he's already inching his way along the floor at times. He's rather quiet, but extremely observant. And he loves to engage with other people, making eye contact and smiling even if he doesn't babble at them. He still doesn't laugh, though he is amused by many things, opening his mouth in a huge smile to show his excitement. Malcolm loves watching his big brother and likes doing Wheels on the Bus, Eensy Weensy Spider, and Pat-a-Cake with me.

He's much more into oral exploration than Gareth was. Malcolm wants to put everything in his mouth. He's constantly sucking or chewing on something (which also makes for a lot of saliva everywhere). We've got several old rattles and other toys that are meant to be chewed on. People gave them to us before we had Gareth and they got absolutely no use with Gareth. He could have cared less about them. But Malcolm uses them exactly how they're meant to be used. And he recognizes, knows, and loves those toys. His eyes light up when he sees you approaching with one of his favorites. Malcolm's firefly from his aunt and uncle is a continual favorite - so many easy to grab places, lots of crinkly noises, rattle, and the mirror is great for chewing on.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

What I Plan for My Remains

I've long thought about how I want to be buried and all that. When I was a kid, I wanted the most impenetrable coffin possible. Bugs crawling through my body was such a gross revolting idea after all. Of course, as I got older that really didn't bother me as much, though bugs were still equally gross. Oh, and I wanted to be in a cemetery with upright headstones because the flat ones are just lame.

By the time I was married I saw cremation as a somewhat appealing idea, except the whole scattering the ashes thing seemed silly to me. And it just seemed weird for someone to have the ashes sitting on a shelf somewhere. So I still would've opted for a nice wood coffin, something that would allow decomposition to happen fairly quickly as I now saw beauty in the idea of returning to the earth and continuing life through other organisms. Then at some point a friend mentioned going to a ceremony to bury a relative's ashes, something which I hadn't realized was an option. (Apparently there are all kinds of interesting things you can do with your ashes, from shooting them off in fireworks to making jewelry out of them to being made into a box of pencils.) At that point (probably two to three years ago), I became firmly decided on cremation for my remains and to have them buried in the ground somewhere. But in the last year I think I've sort of changed my mind again. After seeing pictures of several funerals, it all struck me as such a waste. Big, expensive coffin, space in the land (what happens when we run out of cemetery spaces? do we just get rid of the headstones for the now decomposed bodies and re-use the space?), all the ritual.

I get that it's all for the living and if that's what the relatives need for closure then that's cool. But it's not what I want for me. So I've decided to donate my body to science or a body farm type place. Someone may as well learn from it after all. Relatives don't need a grave site to visit to remember a loved one, just their own brain with it's memories. And if you donate it to science there's usually no cost involved as they cremate the remains when they're done with them and then return them to the family to do with as they wish. Beyond that, it'll be up to what Ryan or our kids feel they need to determine what, if any, gathering type things they hold. After all, I'm not going to be around to know or care, now am I? But if it were me, I'd probably keep it a small, intimate gathering at home, perhaps with friends sharing meaningful memories if they wish. There were some interesting ideas in this podcast that I listened to the other day, but especially loved that in Australia most people use a secular Funeral Celebrant to help them plan a ceremony celebrating and focused on their loved one, rather than a ritual focused on espousing a particular dogma. I also liked the idea that one couple had of having readings from their favorite authors/books.

Is it weird that I've thought about this so much already? At least when I die Ryan/our kids will definitely know what I wanted, right? And, just for fun, if you were going to be cremated, what would you have your family do with the ashes?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Orchestra Audition

The evening before Gareth started school I took him to his first soccer practice and then we rushed home so I could scarf down some dinner and run back out to an audition for the Seattle Philharmonic. I think it's possible that some of my facebook acquaintances have thought this is a bigger audition, for a paying job. It's an understandable mistake, as some cities have professional orchestras that are Philharmonics. But the big professional orchestra of Seattle is actually the Seattle Symphony. The Seattle Philharmonic is a community orchestra. But, according to what I've heard, it's one of the best community orchestras in the area (the classical station here will sometimes broadcast their concerts). Anyway, their second clarinetist died last fall (very sad - it was a brain tumor and she'd been doing better and then about the time we moved into our house here the tumor started growing again) and they'd had someone subbing in the position for last year but hadn't yet held a formal audition for the seat.

My teacher had been out of town for the three weeks before the audition, and some of the excerpts they were asking for had changed since we'd last had a lesson, meaning we hadn't ever gone over the new excerpts. But I'd found recordings and done my best to get them up to speed on my own. For those who might care about such things, they asked for Beethoven #2, first movement, Beethoven #6, first and third movements, Brahms #2, second and fourth movements, Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream, and Capriccio Espagnol (I practiced the excerpts from both the 1st and 3rd movements, because I didn't know which they wanted, turned out they wanted the 3rd movement). And I prepared the first movement of Erland von Koch's Monologue 3, which is for solo clarinet.

There was one person before me and one after. Not sure if there were any more as I left after I was done. While waiting for the first candidate to warm up I sat and chatted with a vocalist who will be singing with the orchestra in the spring. Unfortunately this left my throat rather dry and I'd stupidly not thought to bring a water bottle with me. I managed to get over this while warming up though. I was a bit thrown by realizing I'd be standing up for the audition. Back in my high school or college days this wouldn't have fazed me, as I practiced standing up quite often. But it's been a long time since I've played standing up, so I was not happy to notice a slight change in my tone quality while standing.

The audition went quite well. Of course, immediately afterward I mostly focused on the negative things: I got too soft too fast here and so those notes didn't speak, I fumbled this passage here, the sight reading was dreadful, and so on. But the vocalist pointed out a lot of good things about my audition and said that at that point I'd be her pick. So by the time I left I was feeling better about it and in reality it was a pretty solid audition. I felt that no matter what happened, I'd be happy with how I'd played. Later that night I got an email letting me know about a rehearsal venue change for the next night, but that just left me uncertain as it wasn't a definitive, "yes, you've got the spot" and they could've sent the information to everyone who auditioned.

Ryan at times seemed more anxious than I did to find out, but that might've been because Gareth and Malcolm had been little nightmares while I was gone. He even jokingly said at one point that I shouldn't audition for such things because then I might actually get in. When he saw that an email had come from the personnel manager the next morning, he brought my phone to me right away. I got the seat, and the manager said some very nice things about my playing. Ryan, while not terribly excited about the prospect of a second night in a row alone with the kids (and for a much longer stretch as the rehearsal was a good half hour away), was very excited for me. And a bit jealous because I have several musical groups I participate in now and he doesn't have any yet. I haven't played in orchestra since graduating in 2006, so it was exciting news for me as well. Orchestra has always been my love, so it feels wonderful to be in one again.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

More Firsts

This has been a week of firsts. First day of school, first successful shoelace-tying attempt, first soccer game.

Gareth's team wears green jerseys - he's on the right

Wiping off sweaty faces while waiting for play to start again

It was really hot out there (really hot here equates to 85 degrees), with no shade anywhere near the field. Gareth finished off most of his water before the first (20-minute) half was over. It's quite entertaining to watch the five-year-olds play since they're lucky if they manage to run in the right direction and the ball is a magnet that draws them all in. Teamwork doesn't mean anything yet, so members of the same team are fighting each other for the ball. They play three on three, so the teams get split in two and hold two games at the same time. Gareth's bunch only had 5, and one of those decided she wasn't too keen on the mass huddle around the ball thing, so the other 4 got a ton of playing time. Gareth was in for almost the entire game and he did a great job staying determined and continuing to work hard even though you could tell he was exhausted. He was very upset at the end that he never kicked the ball into the goal himself (though he did assist quite well on a couple of goals, but of course that doesn't mean much to a 5-year-old). Hopefully wanting to make goals all the time will be something he gets over quickly. I think I could count on one hand the number of goals I made in my seven or so years of playing soccer, so if he doesn't get over it he could be in for a lot of disappointment. He seemed to enjoy himself, despite the disappointment of not scoring.

I decided to take video of him tying his shoe after he did the first one without any help from me at all. He'd practiced with me on maybe two other occasions prior to this.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

First Day of School

Gareth has been beyond excited for school for the past couple of weeks and finally the big day came. Yesterday morning he (and Malcolm) woke up bright and early at about ten to seven. Gareth came into our room, asking where his "school clothes" were (I'd just washed them earlier in the week, so they hadn't made it to his room yet) and quickly got dressed. Usually he wants to wait until noon to get dressed, so this was nothing short of a miracle.

I got up and went to work on the breakfast I'd promised him - waffles. We don't usually have waffles, because my brain's got this idea that they're time-consuming and tedious to make. They're not, but somehow that idea is firmly implanted in my mind. So, yeah, it's a pretty special thing to get waffles. Gareth helped me until the first batch was done and he could start eating.

Ready to go (a good 30 minutes early)

The morning wasn't terribly stressful, because school starts on the late side here. So I had plenty of time to shower and remember to brush Gareth's hair and teeth and all that. We even got the dishwasher emptied before heading out! I loaded all of Gareth's supplies into a paper bag and his backpack and we set out for the school. I love that we have neighborhood schools here now (they used to work on a lottery system), because it means that Gareth doesn't have to ride a bus. It's a decent walk for little legs (10 blocks), but Gareth's did pretty well with it.

Thrilled that the first day of school means getting his picture taken

Things were a bit crazy with all the parents there dropping off their kids and their supplies. Gareth's teacher helped him find his locker (he's in the classroom not originally intended as a Kindergarten room, so no bathroom or cubby area inside the room) and then he went into the room to find his desk. There are four other kids at his "table" area with him. Gareth sat down and started coloring right away; I had a hard time getting him to even acknowledge me to say good-bye! I felt badly for the dad of one of the kids in the class, who's kid was bawling when it was time for him to go. But I saw him walking down the hall later, so he managed to get away at some point.

It did feel a bit strange to leave Gareth there, having no firm idea myself of how the day works and what they'd be doing. With preschool last year, I worked in the school on the first day of the week, so I knew before I ever left him what the day would look like. So, yeah, a bit strange to leave him, but definitely no tears on my part. And I'm sure I'll figure out over the next few weeks how his classroom works and what kinds of things they do during the day.

The K kids have half days this first week, then go to full day next week. I met up at a restaurant with some other parents from our preschool after we'd dropped the kids off and then rushed back to pick Gareth up on time. Today was my first day just heading home with Malcolm. I think it'll be nice to have time just with Malcolm. Especially if it works out like today, where he fell asleep on the walk up to the school and then let me move him to his crib when we got home and stayed asleep for another hour! Poor kid hasn't had a chance to develop much of a nap routine yet, and I'm hopeful that with Gareth in school we'll be able to get him on a more consistent routine.

First day of school review was rather mixed. Gareth got really hungry (they have a snack, but not until 11), so he was really negative about it all until I got some lunch in him. It was boring, it wasn't what he expected, there weren't any toys in the room, he was disappointed that they didn't read the story he wanted. About the only positive thing he said when I picked him up was that his teacher had beautiful earrings. But after lunch some more positives started coming out. He's excited because his "team" (the group of kids he sits near) is the Gorillas. It was fun to sit on the carpet for the story. But the overall response to day one was that it was boring and disappointing.

With that in mind, I was rather surprised when he said he was excited for school this morning. This morning I made sure to feed him a small snack before we left the house and on the way to school he told an acquaintance that his first day had been great. The first thing he said when I picked him up was, "It wasn't boring today!". Hopefully things will be more positive from here on out, but I wouldn't be surprised if we have more "boring" days since it sounds like they spend the first month acclimating to the school.