Saturday, March 29, 2008
Houghton Mifflin probably chose to hold the conference at a Disney resort to attract potential attendees. In fact, many participants had brought their spouses and children and, when they weren't attending conference sessions, stole away with their families to visit the parks. However, holding it at a Disney resort had two added benefits: the natural beauty and relaxing atmosphere of the resort itself and the superior event planning and customer service of Disney. Every planning and execution detail was attended to, and we were well fed with delicious food throughout each day: breakfast, a session, mid-morning snack, a session, dinner, a session, mid-afternoon snack, a session, supper.
When the girls learned that I was going to Disney World, they asked Susan to buy me a disposable camera to take lots of photos of all the rides and attractions that I enjoyed. However, having just been to Disney World a few months ago with the family, I had no burning desire to find time in my conference schedule for evening trips to the parks. I took the camera and snapped lots of pics of the resort itself (when they're developed, some may even find their way onto the blog), but I exercised restraint and remained at the resort the whole time. There was plenty to see there to keep me occupied when I wasn't otherwise busy with conference sessions.
My next conference: Ames, IA in mid-May. Until then, my frequent flyer card is taking a breather!
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
On Tuesday, March 18, the second- and third-grade students at the girls' elementary school had their music program, and Abigail played the role of Mrs. Old MacDonald in E-I-E-I Oops!, a farmyard-themed musical in which the animals try to convince the mute cow to moo. Along with Old MacDonald, the Farmer in the Dell, and Mrs. Farmer in the Dell, Abigail's character provides the narration that links the musical numbers and pushes the "plot" along.
Well, of course, Abigail was terrific. She was cute as a button in her farm wife garb (wearing one of my aprons for barbecuing), and she was confident and clearly audible on every line. Abigail was also fun to watch during the musical numbers that other groups of kids performed; she couldn't help moving her body to the rhythm of the song, bouncing up and down, mouthing the words--just getting caught up in the music as she watched them! Suzanna and Hillary had seen the program in the afternoon with their classes, but they were eager to see it again in the evening with Mommy and Daddy, telling me in advance which songs listed in the program were their favorites.
Yep, that's Daddy's apron!
A similar photo appeared in today's newspaper. That's Old MacDonald with the pitchfork, by the way. Does the pose remind you of anything?
Doesn't that just capture Abigail's spirit?!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to serve as a horrible warning."
Here's another one from her: When their daughter was listening to a certain song on a CD, Erin's hubby, dear friend Jay, told their child that it had first come out when he was about her age. Precious Daughter said, "You mean in the olden days?" Jay's response: "Ouch!"
My sister Cathy saw a funny sign hung by the daycare room at her gym: "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." She found that a clever way to get their point across!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
- on the flight from Denver to Boston, a seatmate who did not stop talking the entire four-hour flight! I heard about his past jobs, current position, and future career plans; his romantic woes and current engagement; his upbringing; his world travels; his educational history; his recent home purchase; his political stance; his religious beliefs; and perhaps much more that I simply couldn't retain from the verbal onslaught! He was a clean-cut professional gentleman my age to whom I said, "Hi," as he took his seat in Denver . . . and that proved to be my undoing. At the luggage carousel in Boston, a woman approached me to ask if I was the man to whom this other dude was talking the entire flight. She said that I deserved a medal! She said, "My husband and I have been married for over 30 years, and I know he hasn't said that many words to me in all that time!" I didn't mind meeting this fellow and visiting with him, but it was a decidedly one-way "visit"--and I had been looking forward to four hours of uninterrupted reading time. Alack and alas.
- wild taxi rides fro and to the airport
- luxurious accommodations at the historic four-star, four-diamond Omni Parker House, the longest continuously operating hotel in America, located on the corner of School and Tremont Streets across from Old City Hall (map)
- scenic walks around downtown Boston, where a skyscraper is next to an historic church next to a colonial cemetery next to another modern office building--wild!
- daily rides on the subway to and fro the Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, where most conference events were held
- browsing, shopping, and dining at Prudential Center, an architecturally beautiful and conceptually clever enclosure connecting the convention center, adjacent hotels, an office complex, and numerous stores and restaurants under one series of roofs
- hearing Soledad O'Brien deliver the conference's opening address
- walking around the Back Bay neighborhood and seeing its many old churches, new buildings, apartments, shops, and restaurants--beautiful!
- eating at all sorts of places I've never been before: Au Bon Pain, Tossed, Boston Chowda Cafe, and Grill 23 & Bar, an upscale joint where I ate a Maine crabcake, fresh halibut, mushroom ragoût, bleu cheese mashed potatoes, and a lemon meringue miniature pie--delicious! (also had a wonderful crabcake and a slice of superb vanilla bean cheesecake at The Cheesecake Factory, a restaurant I've eaten at once before [in Denver])
- visiting with my relatively new boss, who drove us to and fro Bismarck (out of which we flew on the very same airline that would have taken us directly out of and into Dickinson, had that crossed the minds of our secretary and travel agent!)
- returning to my family!
Friday, March 14, 2008
I remember well this annual event from my own childhood. Mrs. Davis, the wonderful piano teacher whom my sisters and I were blessed to have, assigned us "festival pieces" to memorize and perfect in time for our regional festival in Williston (held usually at Williston State College but some years at a church instead). We would dress up and go, nervous on the entire drive to Williston. We would spend the whole day on-site, and Mom would accompany each child at his or her appointed performance time and then wait with us for the results to be posted. A "superior" rating was the highest available, worth five points--and for every 15 points earned, a pianist got a brass trophy, each one larger than the last. In my 11 years of piano lessons, I earned over 45 points, and those three trophies sit atop our piano today!
Because I wasn't present for our daughters' own festival, Susan e-mailed me the results to read while I was in Boston: "superior" ratings for both Suzanna and Abigail!! Suzanna said the day was nerve-wracking, and Abigail said she was nervous; but they both were happy with the results and thought it was fun in retrospect. Susan treated them afterward with dinner out at one of our favorite restaurants, Sanford's. Here are highlights from the judges' comments (the exclamation points are the judges', not mine):
"A Merry March"
- "notes and rhythms excellent!"
- "staccatos were crisp and light -- great!"
- "wonderful dynamics! wow!"
- "crisp and clean staccatos!"
- "excellent memory work!"
- "tempo just right!"
- "your release at the end was awesome!"
- "you played with such confidence and knew your pieces so well! hurray!"
"Told You So"
- "love the solid beginning!"
- "excellent memory work!"
- "release at end just right!"
- "tempo fit perfectly"
- "such wonderful, confident playing! way to go!"
- "posture and hand positions -- excellent!"
- "love the dynamic contrasts -- super!"
- "love the releases to your phrases!"
- "keep up the totally awesome playing!"
Another official (who has seen the girls at church where she, too, is a member) added these comments to the judges' comment sheets:
- "you look so lovely!"
- "thank you for the bow!"
- "thank your parents and teacher for their help and support!"
Thursday, March 13, 2008
- A (Hillary -- "Well, that was quite unexpected.")
- C (Suzanna -- "And what if I were one of those babysitters?")
- B (Abigail -- "Oh, you could help or help not.")
- B (Abigail -- "comma-ment")
- A (Hillary -- "Yes, other than those four things that I said, I'm feeling just fine.")
- B (Abigail -- "Daddy, you are one outrageous boy.")
- A (Hillary -- "I would like to multiplicate.")
Second, the winners (from the whopping three contestants--so-o-o lame, O Ye Lurkers Who Read but Do Not Comment!): my sisters, Cathy and Sandy! Each of them got three wrong (and two of those three wrong were the same ones), but Cody wasn't far behind with four wrong.
Finally, the prize: a free subscription for one entire year to this very blog! Yes, dear sisters, read away for twelve glorious months knowing that you are paying absolutely nothing for that privilege, thanks to your knowledge of your nieces and your ability to guess.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Here's the little dear herself with an explanation of the experience and the invention that she and her partner, McKenzie, created:
Our invention was Tidy Baby, a diaper bag organizer with different compartments in it to separate one's cell phone and car keys, the baby's diapers, rattles, a bottle and formula, and a clean change of clothes. It was a very fun experience to get to invent something that we thought would help the world in one way or another. Working with McKenzie was great fun, although we had a couple arguments on how we were going to make it. Finally we figured out something, and in our opinion it was pretty cool.
The day of Marketplace was very, very fun . . . and stressful at the same time! We didn't know what we were going to say when people came to our display. We had a couple classes in the morning (one on meth and a presentation from Gary Greff, the guy who made The Enchanted Highway). Then, at 11:00 A.M., we had dinner: a sub sandwich, carrots, chips, fruit snacks, and a bottle of water. It was delicious! Then, at 11:30 A.M., we had to stand beside our display while people from the community came in and looked at all our inventions. Soon a woman came along and handed us ribbons for participating in--and putting so much hard work into--Marketplace for Kids.
In the afternoon we went to another class (on parasites). It was kind of gross! After that, we went to Dorothy Stickney Auditorium for a closing presentation. My day at Marketplace was amazing, and I'd love to relive it!