Random musings

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Elf on the Shelf

In a moment of madness a couple of weeks ago, I succumbed to the current craze of Elf on the Shelf and bought one of the little buggers from a display at Kroger. I was inspired by all of the photos and ideas that people have posted on Pinterest. I was pinning cute and clever Elf ideas right and left—hundreds of them. Literally. Some of them sure to wow my live-in grandkids, especially if they thought I came up with the ideas myself, and who would be crazy enough to disillusion them? Then I started running into blog posts about how the Elf nearly drove the parents crazy. They would be settling into slumber, having finally gotten the overexcited and overstimulated youngsters into their own beds for the night, when suddenly they would realize that they forgot to set up the new Elf scenario for the following morning! So, they would have to get up and create some elaborate Elf shenanigans so that Junior wouldn’t be disappointed when he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

I hadn’t yet taken the Elf out of the clever hiding place in the car, and I still had the receipt. I decided right then and there to save myself the month-long aggravation, and I returned the Elf to his rightful retail owners the very next day. The kiddos will never know any differently, unless, of course, they read my blog, and I don’t imagine that happening until they are well out of their Elf on the Shelf years.

Letting go

Decorating the Christmas tree is usually an activity that I look forward to each year. I have lots of beautiful glass ornaments that I have collected over the years (some are just memories), and I like to place them just so. I have to admit that I haven’t been quite as eager to get it done the last few years for various reasons. We got a new tree this year. A 9 1/2 foot tree to replace the 6 1/2 foot one. Yes, they’re fake. The last cut tree we brought home, meaning we went to a farm and cut it ourselves, got so dry by Christmas Day that the needles fell off by the handful if you accidentally brushed by it. The possibility of it catching fire and burning down the house scared me so much that I haven’t bought a “fresh” one since.

Anyway, decorating the tree has been the sole occupation of myself since day one of our marriage. Until this year. The live-in grandkids wanted to help. The oldest is thirteen, then there’s the eleven-year-old, the nine-year-old, and the toddler. The toddler was safely napping, so I said what the heck. Have at it. I knew I would micro-manage, so I took my knitting and a cup of tea and sat in the living room while they did the decorating with some help from their mom and her boyfriend. It was the most relaxed I’ve ever been during tree decorating, and I must say, they didn’t do too badly. They took into consideration that the toddler(s) would be VERY interested, and placed delicate ornaments up high or in the back, and sure enough, the toddler has since decorated the bottom third of the tree several times. Every day, actually. But it’s okay. I’m chill with it.

Speaking of knitting

I’m trying to teach myself to knit. It’s painful sometimes, both literally (carpal tunnel and arthritis) and figuratively. I’ve found a very helpful video series or two, but they can’t see what I’m doing and correct my mistakes. There’s a knitting class at the library, but it’s held at an inconvenient time for me to attend, and I don’t know anyone who knits who could help me, so for now, I’m on my own. I started out using a knitting loom, which is kind of fun and really fast, but it’s not real knitting, you know. I want to hear the click of the needles as I whirr speedily through a scarf or hat or mittens. I think I’ve mastered the garter stitch, and I’m attempting a scarf for Nathan, the eleven-year-old. He wanted bright orange, his favorite color, but I had this crazy bright ombre with orange in it, and he went crazy for it, so that’s what he’s getting. It’s coming along pretty well, but I dropped a stitch on one side the other day and couldn’t figure out how to pick it back up, so it’s a little funky right there, but Nate didn’t mind. It’s also quite sturdy, and I’m not sure why. It could be I’m knitting too tightly and the yarn is a bulky one, so maybe I should be using larger needles? Well, too late to go back and start over with bigger ones. I’m halfway done. If it doesn’t work out as a scarf, he can use it as a snuggly at bedtime. He’s very into soft, snuggly things. He never carried around a “bankie”, so I suppose he’s making up for it now.

There’s music in our house

We have two music students living here. Kaitlyn is taking piano lessons on a piano that we bought from the previous owners for $100, because they didn’t want to pay to have it moved. It’s kind of beat up, but it has a very nice sound. We love her teacher, Miss Emily, whom I found on Facebook before I quit going there. She’s been taking lessons since the first of October, and already had her first performance. It was last Saturday at the local art league. Miss Emily is a member there, and all her piano students performed for the people who were wandering through the open house. Mostly the audience was made up of proud parents and grandparents and siblings, some of whom are also taking lessons. The piano there is even older than ours, and in worse shape. The middle C sticks, so Kaity was a little frustrated while playing Jingle Bells and We Three Kings, but she handled it with aplomb, and Miss Emily kept smiling through the whole recital, so everybody was happy.

Our other music student is Nathan. He has not been a joiner of things. He hasn’t liked sports ever since he tried soccer when he was three, and wouldn’t go out onto the field, because he didn’t want to fall down in front of people. We’ve tried to encourage him to try different things without so much as an “I’ll think about it.” I’ve been talking up band for a couple of years. About how much fun it is in high school to ride the bus to football games and competitions. Of course, I left out the part about freezing your butt off during the games, but he’ll find that out in a few years. I enthusiastically waxed poetic about the idea of being part of an organization, and how you sometimes make lifelong friends. Anyway, something I said worked, or some of his friends were going for it, or something, and he decided he wanted to try band this year in sixth grade.

Nate wears braces, and he wanted to play clarinet at first. We went to the music store and one of the clarinet experts demonstrated one for him, but I think he was discouraged by the complexity of it. The young lady working out front also happens to be a trumpet player and asked him to give it a try. We were concerned about his being able to play because of the braces, but she and his band teacher assured us that he would be able to adjust. The clincher was the fact that Ohio State only has brass and no woodwinds in their marching band.

At first, as with most novice band students, the sounds coming out of it were enough to make one want to stick one’s head under a thick pillow. After about two weeks of band class, Nate was getting very discouraged and wanted to quit like some of his classmates had done, but we encouraged him by telling him that every music student goes through this and that it would get better. It wasn’t a week until the sounds coming out of the horn actually started sounding like music! He was playing MUSIC! Now he loves it, and the band had their winter concert this week. They sounded great, actually better than my lame high school band sounded back in my day. At the end, the band director even let them play “Let’s Go Band!”, which is their favorite, because they get to shout the title at the end of each stanza. It was awesome, and he is truly hooked. Let’s go band!

See you soon,

Susan

14 thoughts on “Random musings

  1. Well, I finally bit, and went looking to see what this EOTS business was all about. Business, that’s what it’s about. That thing isn’t just a toy, it’s a franchise. A curse. A bit of fun turned entirely too serious for my taste. But I’m grinchish about certain things, so there you are.

    Anyway. Your mention of Nathan and his trumpet brought back memories. I played clarinet, and started in 3rd grade. Oh, my. Sainthood for my parents, no question. It took me a while longer to begin producing music, but it happened. When I played my first solo at recital, I had the same privilege as everyone else. I could choose my own piece of music. My choice? “Love Me Tender,” by Elvis Presley. Good grief. But I did ok, and everyone applauded. It was great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are darn tootin’ right, Linda! The people who invented EOTS knew their target audience, didn’t they? Not only the impressionable youngsters who want everything they see and hear about, but also the gullible parents who want more than anything to dazzle their progeny and be named Parent of the Year. And then there were the stories that I didn’t mention about the wee ones who are terrified because EOTS comes with a customizable letter that explains he is keeping a fixed eye on them for Santa as they go about being youngsters, which, as you know, includes being naughty from time to time, especially as it gets closer and closer to the big day. Thank goodness I came to my senses, before he escaped from the box!

      I think most parents who have suffered through a child’s music lessons should be nominated for sainthood! 🙂 And, I think your choice of Love Me Tender was perfect, having been a big fan of Elvis since I was about four years old. One of his great ones. 🙂

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  2. Love reading about life from your perspective, Susie. You’ve got a nicely wry, self-deprecating way of revealing yourself that is both funny and poignant. I think we should be knit buddies!!!! I’m in the middle of 3 Xmas scarves, having had to put aside the giant sweater I was knitting for myself until after the 25th. I’m no expert, but every winter I get a couple of projects going and have learned a ton from youtube. Even to the point of learning just recently how to knit continental style, which is waaaaaay more efficient. After knitting the other way for years, I didn’t think it would be possible, but I am living proof that old dogs can hold the yarn in their left paw. Good for you about the Elf thing. I’ve never even heard of it, but it sounds like a nightmare, and you get the 2014 medal for Most Sensible Grandmother Ever. As for tree-decorating, you get the extra certificate for above-mentioned medal, and I had to laugh at your telling of an ‘I-had-to-learn-to-let-go’ story. What a woman!! In case we’re not in touch before next week, I wish you and your lovely family a verrrrry Joyeux Noel and a pacific, stressless 2015. Hugs to you, soul sister.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, you know me, Deb, I only have one serious bone in my body, and I think I’ve used it all up. So, it’s funny or nothing with me these days. I say if you can’t laugh at what life throws at you, then you might as well curl up in a ball and roll under the porch.

      Don’t I wish we could be knit buddies!!! That would be fantastic! Then you could point out all the errors of my ways. I bought a book (or two), and the pictures and descriptions were the best, I think, out of the 14 million that I looked at, but every time I look at a pattern and try to figure out what the hell they mean, my eyes start crossing and I get a headache just thinking about it. And, yes, the book explains all the terms and directions in minute detail, and I think I understand it, and then…pffft! I think I’m consigned to only making straight things with no intricate stitches and such. I have no idea if I’m knitting continental, English, American or Martian style.

      I’m trying to convince Nathan to study piano, too, with the enticement that his cousin plays eight instruments, and he could too, if he wanted. I try not to push, but I think he has a natural affinity for it.

      So, if I’m nominated for sainthood, does that mean I get a trip to Rome? ‘Cause, I’m all for that.

      Merry Christmas and Joyeux Noel to you and your kin, too, my soul sista! Much love!

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  3. Oh and how could I not mention the music makers?? There’s a medal for that too – for everybody in the household who has to listen to practicing 🙂 Your encouragement of Nathan was brilliant, and I’m delighted (as an ex piano teacher) that it had such an effect so quickly. Music is SO important in a child’s development, and band is like no other experience. I’ll be talking to the pope next week and will drop your name.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great story about Nathan. It’s wonderful when a kid finds something to be passionate about. It can make all the difference. My son never played a musical instrument, but he was very involved with pole vaulting. My granddaughter is artistic. My grand son (almost seven) is still a Super Hero enthusiast. 🙂 The baby just does ‘happy’ right now. She’s the happiest little girl.

    I haven’t gotten into the Elf On A Shelf yet. I’ve debated, but I think I’m going to pass. I agree with your philosophy about grands, “who would be crazy enough to disillusion them?” Ha! Made me laugh. Ours are all still young enough to think we’re the greatest and I’d like for it to stay that way forever.

    I follow you in my reader, but your blog hasn’t been coming through. Who knows why. I guess that’s why I missed this post when you first published it. I’ll have to start checking. You never know with these things. It could start showing up out of the blue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love happy babies! They just make your heart sing, don’t they?

      Pole vaulting! Now there’s a lofty sport! (pun intended…hehe) I don’t think I’ve ever known anyone who was into that, but I guess those Olympians have to start somewhere. 🙂

      I love that our grands think we’re wonderful. I’m hoping to do grandparenting much better than I did parenting.

      Don’t worry about missing my posts, although I did miss seeing your lovely comments. 🙂
      xoxo

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  5. You know, I don’t really know what the elf on the shelf lore/tradition/mechanics are. When I heard about it (with no info) I thought “Oh, that’s a cute rhyme!” and when I was at an estate sale I found an elf, which I think looks like the Snap, Crackle, Pop guys or the Keebler ones, and I suspect that’s where it originated. So I bought it for a quarter and it’s stuck up somewhere. Don’t ask me where — there’s too much stuff up for the holidays to pinpoint something on cue. But then I started reading things about the Elf and Big Brother and now I’m confused, but I really don’t care anymore. When I find him sometime before Easter when I get stuff down, he’ll probably go in the Goodwill pile!

    But good for you, letting go of the tree thing to let the others help. I know I’d be moving things around! I need a bigger fake tree for my main tree. This year I quit after just the most special things (my blog post) — though I still have a few glass balls to fish out that I really love. Sometimes you’ve got to stop and find the twinkle. I’m hoping to do that very soon!

    Merriest to you — and thank you for your lovely comment on my blog anniversary post. I didn’t have your address to reply personally, but it meant so very, very much.

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