". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Big 5-0

Slacker that I am, I was just going to link to this birthday post from four years ago and let you make the applicable mental updates. But then I remembered all these great moments from the last few years and thought you might appreciate seeing them together in one place.

Happy birthday, my dearest Phillip. You have truly only just begun. ♥

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Actually, Yes, It Is About the Nail

I have seen this making the rounds on Facebook for a week or two and finally watched today. Unfortunately, I think my husband will be able to relate. But it's not just a male/female thing. I can relate, and I bet you can, too. I daresay each of us has been either the twit who won't acknowledge the nail hanging out of her head or the concerned friend/spouse/family member who would like to help but is blocked from doing so because to state the obvious would result in immediate excommunication from the twit's emotional life.

True, sometimes it's not about the nail. But when the nail is this big and is embedded in a person's forehead, he or she might do well to listen to loved ones when they suggest getting that sucker out of there.

It's Not About the Nail from Jason Headley on Vimeo.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day

The Young Naperville Singers were honored to sing for the local Memorial Day celebration. Here is their performance. The young lady who fainted in the first video is fine, by the way.

"An American Anthem" from Cheryl on Vimeo.

"America (My Country 'Tis of Thee)" and "God Bless America" from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

God's Will

A few days ago one of the blogging pastors I follow wrote this post on the topic of God's will. In it he questions the belief of some Christians that God always has specific intentions for the decisions we make in our earthly lives and that if we are listening closely enough to Him it is possible for us to know those intentions. Rather than trying to quote from the article, I encourage you to read the whole thing. It is not only wise, but it is comforting. It lifts the burden of discerning and making the "right" decision, reminding the reader that God's eternal plan goes way beyond our day to day existence. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Whether we take this job or that one, marry this person or that one, go to this school or that one, if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, He will bless.

I think a logical extension of this point is equally comforting. Not only should we not assume that God has specific intentions for every decision we make, but we should also not assume that the things that happen to us are necessarily His will. Once when my husband and I were going through a puzzling and difficult time I was told, "This is what God wants for you right now." The words came from a friend and were intended to offer comfort, but they didn't. So much about what was happening seemed wrong. How could it be God's will? At about the same time a different friend told my husband, "Expect blessing." What Gospel comfort that was to our troubled hearts! "Expect blessing!" There's no way to know whether the things that happen are God's will. There's no way to discern without a doubt what God wants us to do (if He even has a preference). But what we can know, because it is written throughout scripture, is that God blesses His children.

From Pastor Surburg (I guess I'm going to quote after all):

God's great "Yes!" to us in Christ gives us the assurance that God works for our good and that our decisions can't get in the way of God carrying out his will. It is comforting to know that our bumbling can't prevent God from doing what He wants to get done.  We needlessly torment ourselves if we worry about figuring out what God’s will is on these kinds of specific life decisions.  We can’t know it.  What we do know is the love God has revealed in Christ, and this guarantees that God is working for our good.  So pray, “Thy will be done.”  So make the best decision you can.  And then walk in faith, knowing that God will work out His purpose.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

A New Find

I think my readers--the mommy types, at least--will like this blog. It belongs to this writer. I can't help wondering if she's Lutheran.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Beneath the African Sky"

This is not one of my videos. I still need to upload the ones from the concert. This was taken by another mom during the final rehearsal. After being made available online it came to the attention of composer Paul Caldwell, who contacted the director of Caitlin's choir and expressed his enthusiastic approval, saying that it brought him to tears. For him to be thus affected is remarkable, since he not only composed the piece but has surely heard and directed it himself hundreds of times.

Some members of this choir will be traveling to Costa Rica next month to participate in a choral festival that the composers of this piece, Caldwell and his friend Sean Ivory, are leading. They have invited the very talented young oboe player in this video to play for the festival. Caitlin will not be attending but she will be there in spirit, thrilled for her friends and fellow singers to have this opportunity. She has been so blessed to sing with this group. She, by the way, can be seen near the back, right between the third and fourth riser rails: cute blonde, short hair, glasses, clearly enjoying this amazing piece of music.

I can't watch or listen to this without crying.


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Evan's First Story

There is a Peanuts comic strip in which Snoopy starts a short story but doesn't finish it. The story is called "The Cabin. A Short Story." (That's as far as Snoopy got.) Today Evan decided to write Snoopy's story for him. Here is the result. I corrected capitalization (he did this on the computer and used no capitals) but nothing else.

The Cabin. A Short Story. 

In the great forest there was a wooden cabin. It was the only cabin in the forest.

Well, not necessarily. There was 1 other beat up and falling apart cabin.

In the first cabin there were 4 people living there. Here are the names. The adults were Mary and Jack. The children are Sally and Max.

In the second cabin lived nobody.

One day "Let's go for a walk" said Mary. "IN THE WOODS!?" shouted Max.

"Yes. In the woods," said Jack. Sally did not say anything. She was not afraid of the woods. She was also a quiet kid. 

Mary and Jack were not married. They are brother and sister. Mary is 41 and Jack is 42. Sally is 8 and Max is 7.*

When they were on a walk 4 people moved into the old and beat up cabin. The father was a carpenter. So he fixed the cabin.

When the family of the first cabin came back, they saw that the old cabin was fixed!

Sally and Max hoped there would be children to play with. There was! They were very happy that they had new friends.

Here are the new friends names. The adults are Emma and Sam. The children are Sky and Lucy. 

They all lived happily ever after. The end.

 *I asked him whose children Sally and Max are. He said they are Mary's children. I asked him where their father/Mary's husband is and he said their father doesn't live with them so their uncle is acting as their father. I find this really interesting since Evan has not been exposed to much divorce, although we do know a few families with absent fathers. I think the brother/sister thing reflects a hope he has that even when Trevor and Caitlin are grown they will continue living at home. I also think this story reflects a desire that Evan has been expressing lately to live where there is more nature and also to have friends in the neighborhood that he can play with. He doesn't have either of those things where we currently live.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

And Not a Moment Too Soon

Several days ago Evan had an announcement.

"Mom, I want to get more serious about my life."

Well, okay! I asked him what he meant by that.

"I want to learn more things. I want to watch educational DVD's. You know, about earthquakes and hurricanes and the human body and cells . . . ."

He makes it sound as though we never learn anything around here. True, we are what is known in homeschooling circles as "relaxed." Some might even call us unschoolers, but strictly speaking, we aren't. We do impose a basic structure with certain requirements. Still, when things like this happen--when I see my kids using their freedom to follow up on natural curiosity--I feel like an honorary unschooler. Children don't want to sit around all day in a semi-vegetative state. (I would argue they can do that in school just as easily as they can at home.) They want to investigate and play and explore and create and if they are minimally encouraged and equipped, they will do so.

I reminded Evan of the DVD section of the library. (I have tried to interest him in those educational DVD's before, to no avail.) "We can check out DVD's on whatever you want to learn about!"

In the meantime, since he seemed especially interested in cells, I reminded him of a book that we already have in our home library. We have done some microscope studies, and I have previously called his attention to this book, but it was quickly rejected because of the picture on the cover. (Remember, I have an HSC. We have been reading Diane Stanley's children's book on Michelangelo, and Evan refused to look at the page with a drawing of Michelangelo preparing to do a human dissection--something the artist did many times to learn about human anatomy and thereby become a better sculptor. The drawing is not at all graphic, but it was too much for Evan. Maybe that's one reason he is becoming increasingly passionate about studying computers. They don't bleed.)

This book was rejected again. But after promising I would skip over the pages with bugs, I did manage to have him look at some magnifications of viruses, bacteria, and blood cells. After we were done, I accidentally left the book in his room. He brought it to me a little later, face down, and asked that I please put it away.

Maybe for now we better stick with the weather. And there's always hex editing, something he has been pleading to learn about for months. The risk there, of course, is the bleeding from my skull as I try to wrap my brain around something that was clearly not meant for human understanding.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Singing Weekend

Sunday was the culmination of a semester's worth of work with the children's choir organization we are involved in. It is a truly excellent musical enterprise that nevertheless is more concerned with teaching children to sing and to love music than it is with creating a perfect sound (though I must say they achieve the latter frequently enough). Young Naperville Singers currently comprises eight children's choirs; I accompany Evan's beginning level group as well as an intermediate girls' choir, and Caitlin sings with the top group. This made for a busy week of rehearsals and a full day of performances (it is necessary to have three concerts to accommodate all the choirs). Here, for those who are interested, are videos of Evan's choir from Sunday. I am playing piano, although I don't think you can ever see me; Evan is in the third row right, second from the middle.

The theme of the concert was "Under the Same Sky" and included both American and world music. Evan's choir director decided to focus on songs about sleep since we all sleep under the same sky. The first song was sung partly in Finnish and included some props and sound effects intended to evoke the sea.

"Silent Fish (Salaisuuden Kala)" from Cheryl on Vimeo.

The next two songs utilized the same text by Robert Louis Stevenson in two very different musical settings. This gave the children a chance to learn about musical style (modern v. folk) and to consider how the music reflected the text. The first piece was especially fun to play.

"Bed in Summer" - I from Cheryl on Vimeo.

"Bed in Summer" - II from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Our fourth song was a beautiful lullaby in two-part harmony.

"Good Night" from Cheryl on Vimeo.

For our fifth piece the director combined two pieces evocative of Africa, and the children were joined by an older choir for the background harmony.

"Uhura" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" from Cheryl on Vimeo.

It has been a great year for Evan, and he has matured so much socially and musically. Next year he will be joining the Boys' Choir, and I can't wait. Here is a short video I took of them rehearsing the day before the concerts:

I will try to put up videos of Caitlin's group in a few days.