Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sing, Sing, Sing!

Rachel and Miriam had their Christmas choir concert on December 11th. Andrew was out of town and Grandma wasn't feeling well, but Grandpa helped me walk all the kids to the school and Naanii, Uncle Patrick, and Auntie Josie met us there.

They had a good repertoire between their two choirs. The boy show choir sang the Animaniacs' Noël, which was quite entertaining. I don't think any of the kids singing it knew it came from an old a perfectly-reasonably-aged cartoon.

Neither of my girls are huge fans of doing silly actions while they sing, which is patently clear from watching them. If only they understood that by not doing the actions with everyone else they are the ones who end up looking silly. I totally get it though because I'm a little bit that way myself.

But I got over it, see exhibition A:

Christmas talent show in Cairo, 2009

So I know that my girls will be able to get over it as well. With time.

Rachel tried out for the school musical this year. She had so much fun in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! But she knows herself well and didn't try out for the main part, which I thought was rather cool of her because I was vain enough in my youth that I would always be frustrated when I ended up in the chorus line. But Rachel already knows that the chorus line is perfectly respectable and, frankly, perhaps a little more fun than having a main role. Her goal was just to get in so that she could have the musical experience and she came home from her audition beaming with pride.

"I made it!" she said, presenting me a paper with more details about rehearsals and things.

She was thrilled for her friends who made call-backs for bigger roles later in the week (and seemed to be relieved that she didn't). She was cast as a New Yorker and couldn't be happier. I'm so proud of her for her attitude and I'm so happy that she's found a love for musicals.

With enough experience under her belt she'll be able to let go of her insecurities and have fun while she's up and singing in front of a crowd. But how cool that she keeps doing it even though it totally freaks her out?!

She's a cool kid.

Miriam is, too. She's not old enough to participate in the school musical this year but instead of being grumpy about it she helped Rachel run lines to prepare for her audition, helped her practice her song for her audition (Rachel sang "Teamwork" from CCBB because we recently attended a viola event and learned that one should audition for things with a well-worked piece (and we worked Chitty to death so she knows that song forwards and backwards)), and even went to Rachel's audition for moral support.

She's super excited to help Rachel learn her part. Great kids, these two!


Last Sunday (already a week and a half ago!) we had our stake choirside for Christmas. Those things are always lovely, in my opinion, because I can never seem to get in enough singing at Christmas. It's one of my favourite parts of Christmas.

Having a choirside (a portmanteau of choir and fireside (in our church a fireside is a...devotional... (I guess that could be another word for it?) there is no fire involved, though perhaps there used to be)) is fairly new to our stake (collection of congregations) so it wasn't very well attended, from what Karen and I could see. In other stakes that we've been in, the audience has been huge, taking up all the overflow.

Here the audience seemed to be made up of various choirs, with very few spectators.

This almost seemed disappointing but, let me tell you, when we sang the very first word of the opening hymn together (as an entire congregation), the sound was so beautiful and full and rich that I nearly cried (but I held it together because I wanted to keep being a part of that beautiful sound).

It wasn't the sound we typically get during sacrament meeting (though I don't think we even had quite as many people in attendance there as we typically do in a sacrament meeting). It's the type of sound that you can only get if everyone in the congregation was there to sing their hearts out, which, as it happened, was exactly what everyone was there to do.

It took my breath away.


The kids' school has a "Sing Around the Christmas Tree" tradition, where each grade prepares a song to sing for their peers and parents. This year the school decided to sing for the parents in the morning and their peers in the afternoon, since trying to squish the entire population of the school and their families was proving to be difficult. It's the first year they did this and it worked out well, except that the only notice we got about this event was an email...on December 1st.

Have a mentioned lately that I'm losing my mind? Okay, great.

The kids were quite excited about this event. Benjamin was learning Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Miriam was learning Mele Kalikimaka, Rachel was learning...something (help me out here, Rachel) and they were all excited about singing around the Christmas tree.

I put the event on my calendar as soon as the email came through, which is the only way I ever manage to make it anywhere because my calendar sends me push notifications. Like, for example, "Reminder: Early Release Day!" helps me remember to pick up Benjamin earlier than normal. It's not failsafe because I still forget to pick him up sometimes but without my phone buzzing and telling me what's coming up next I might just never make it anywhere.

This event, however, was difficult to forget about, due to the children's excitement over it. It was always on my mental radar...for Wednesday, December 20. 

That brings us to Monday morning when I collapsed on the couch after the morning rush to get the kids out the door. I had eaten breakfast with Zoë and tidying up the kitchen a bit. We'd come upstairs so that I could feed Alexander and pump. Zoë likes to read stories together while I nurse/pump, so she climbed up on the couch beside me and I decided I'd better check my phone before starting her story because sometimes I miss morning messages from our walking-to-and-from-school buddies. 

Because this was my first time touching my phone that morning, on my home screen (I guess that's what it is) was a list of the day's activities from my calendar.

"9:30 Sing Around the Christmas Tree" my phone told me. 

It also told me that the current time was 9:17.

"That can't be right!" I thought, so I quickly searched through my email for anything about the event.

There were no reminders (would it have killed the school to send out a reminder email?!) but I did find the original email and I had put it on the calendar correctly. It was Monday morning, not Wednesday morning.

"We've got to go!" I told Zoë, who was still in her pyjamas (as was I). "Go find something to wear, okay?"

"No," she pouted. "Read Llama, Llama!"

"Sweetie, we have to go to the school to watch the kids sing. You love visiting the school. Don't you want to go to the school?"

"Yes," she admitted.

"Then you have to get dressed—right now—because we've got to go—also right now," I said. 

She ran off to get dressed, and I ran off to get dressed, and we took a rather distressed Alexander and bustled out the door. 

I drove to the school, which I never do, so that we could save some time, but it hardly saved me any because it was quite clear by the time we'd made it halfway to school that the parking lot was packed and so we'd have to park on the street. So that's what we did, and then we ran the rest of the way to the school because it was freezing cold and super windy and we were underdressed (because we were driving to school, not walking) and so close to being late it wasn't even funny.

We arrived, breathless, at the very back of the gym in the middle of the kindergarten song.

We couldn't see him because he was standing on the floor, not the risers, which was a little unfortunate. But the little kindergarteners sure sounded cute singing their song.

As luck would have it, we just happened to stumble into seats right next to someone that we knew. There weren't actually any seats available when we arrived, but parents filtered out of the gym bit by bit (it was nearly empty by the time grade six sang their song). I guess the people sitting beside our friend only had a kindergartener because they left after the first song. 

Alexander had pooped a great poop, so I needed to step out to change him, but I didn't really want to take Zoë with me, so I saw these freshly emptied chairs and snagged them. I told Zoë she could stand on the chair so she could see better (since we were in the back row) and then I looked around to see if I could ask anyone to keep an eye on her. That's when I noticed that—aha!—it was Necia sitting next to those empty seats. She agreed to keep Zoë with her while I changed Alexander, which was nice. 

He and I missed out on first grade singing, and I think we missed half of second grade, but we were back in plenty of time to hear Miriam sing with grade three, and then we stuck around to the bitter end because...why not?

Besides, the song that the grade six class sang was super cute. It was called Hot Cup of Cocoa and in addition to embarrassing actions (which I'm sure my girls would have hated) they had dancing marshmallows, you guys. Dancing marshmallows! (And we could actually see them even though they were on the floor in front of the risers because the audience had thinned out enough by this point).

So now tell me why I can't remember what song Rachel's grade sang! The only answer is that I'm losing my mind.

I was a little embarrassed to notice that while the majority of the school body had managed to remember to wear bright and cheery red and green outfits, all three of my children went to school wearing grey that morning (because as excited as they were about singing around the Christmas tree, they'd all forgotten that it was that very morning).

We're totally winning at Christmas.

Anyway, by the time our mid-morning musical treat had ended it wasn't quite time to pick up Benjamin so we rushed back home again and I had just enough time to pump before Alexander and I bundled up (much better than before) and headed back to the school (walking this time) to pick Benjamin up (Zoë opted to stay home with Grandma).


Even if all these musical events make the season a little crazy busy, it's sure fun!

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