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