Friday, April 23, 2010

The Wizard of Oz!

One of the neat things about doing musical theatre is how much my kids get out of it.

Last week I was in three performances of "The Wizard of Oz" at a local high school. I played the piano, along with 8-9 other musicians in a mini-orchestra.

Rebecca simply demanded to come to the last rehearsal. (I think it was because she was missing me a lot.) It was a four-hour rehearsal (with a half hour pizza break), but she sat through the whole thing and had a wonderful time.

Danielle, the lovely young woman who played Glinda the Good Witch, gave Rebecca a tour backstage, let her wear the crown and carry the wand and carry the wand, put makeup on her, and even let her sing into the mic for a moment. Rebecca was absolutely in heaven.

Rebecca also made a "Flying Monkey Friend" who she liked a lot.

Rachael made about six cards for me to bring to the lead actors for the opening night show, wishing them luck. Even was a little different and related to the character they played.

The show was very good, despite a lot of outside factors working against it, which shows how amazing the people involved were. The kids were masters art the art of ad libbing; for example when a piece of scenery crashed over during one performance, and when the Tin Man's pants tore in another performance.

Also, the costumes and sets were amazing. They actually had a house that rocked and spun during the tornado sequence (not that I could see it, since I was playing and had my back to the stage.)

Now I have a total of three musicals for my resume -- Annie Jr, Godspell, and The Wizard of Oz.
And hopefully there will be many more in the future!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

STILL looking for a good movie ...

When Robert and the girls went out of town a couple weeks ago (which will hopefully be the subject of a future post), I asked on-line about a fun movie to watch alone after I put Benjamin to bed. My only stipulation was that it not be too heavy or deep. In other words, I wasn't in the mood for Schindler's List.

It took me a while to get the movies from the library and finally get around to watching them all, and I am sorry to say that I didn't really like any of the three I got:

Under the Tuscan Sun was the first one I saw, and the only one I actually watched while everybody was away. I considered turning it off halfway through because it dawned on me that I was bored and didn't care about this woman and her house. I stuck it out, though. Eh.

In my usual style, I got on-line and read reviews after I watched it (in a way, I enjoy that more than watching the movie itself; kinda like a virtual film discussion).

I liked the movie even less when I realized the changes they made to the original book. Apparently the book was about a woman fixing up a home with her husband or boyfriend or something. The movie was about her feeling distraught and victimized when her husband left her for someone else, and her fixing up the house on her own, and it added a fictitious pregnant lesbian character who, like the main character, suddenly shows up in Tuscany to live indefinitely, with never any talk of a job or a Visa.

I was particularly looking forward to seeing Julie and Julia.

Until I popped it in and realized it was a Nora Ephron film.

Strange, since one of my very favorite movies ever, When Harry Met Sally, was a Nora Ephron film. But I have not liked anything else she has done, and yes, that includes Sleepless in Seattle.

I did like this one slightly better than Under the Tuscan Sun. I could relate to the idea of cooking being a "challenge," and I liked Meryl Streep's portrayal of Julia Child. But ... well, the story just seemed to go nowhere. It felt like it was a movie that was supposed to be deep or thought-provoking or inspiring, but most certainly was not any of those things. And how dumb was it to throw in at the end of the movie, "Julia Child hated her!" without in any way exploring or explaining why?

My final movie was last night -- The Devil Wears Prada. I didn't know much about it, but someone recommended it, and I expected and hoped it was be a scathing and clever satire -- or at least witty.


Again, Meryl Streep was the best thing about this movie. (And it truly is pure coincidence that two of the movies I got had both Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci in them.)

But again, there wasn't much of a story. Rather then being clever or biting, it was very lightweight. Again, I was bored, especially by any scenes involving the boyfriend or the other guy she was with for a while. (Notice I don't remember the names of either of them.)


Am I harder to please than most people? All of the movies were recommended to me. Yes, I said I didn't want anything heavy. But does "light" have to mean boring and pointless?

Well, at least I enjoyed reading all the reviews when I was done ...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mock Slumber Party

Every now and then I do something smart, and one of those was combining the girls' birthday parties this year. (Their birthdays are less than a month apart. Rachael turned nine, and Rebecca turned seven.)

They really wanted a slumber party, and fortunately my friend Heather gave me the idea for a "Mock Slumber Party": They come in PJs and bring pillows and slumber bags and stuffed animals. They eat pizza and do their nails and tell stories.

Then at 9:30 pm everybody goes home and goes to bed.

So that's what we did.

Here's the gang, soon after they all arrived. Notice Lammie is in her nightgown as well.

Here's everyone having pizza. The girls set up the table themselves, including making the little candle centerpiece.

Robert took Benjamin shopping for trucks when the party began. When Benjamin came back, he happily sat in the roped-off side of the playroom and enjoyed his pizza.

I really think the main reason the girls wanted a slumber party was so they could have pillow fights.

Yup. I'm pretty sure that was the reason.

Parenting: Three alternatives to "No"

Whenever I feel unmotivated to blog for a long time, it usually "reader demand" that gets me to come back.

I recently received an e-mail that said, among other things:

I follow your blog and LOVE reading your posts and really like your outlook on parenting.

Well, thank you Niki.

Because of you, I am now back, and this post is just for you.

I recently heard good things about Barbara Coloroso's book Kids Are Worth It! and I got a copy from the library ILL (which means I didn't get to keep it for too long. God forbid I should actually buy it, you know.)

I didn't finish it in time, but there was a lot I liked. As you may know, I have never liked the idea of "traditional punishment" (for example, I never ever gave a detention when I worked in the public schools), but I often have a hard time finding a suitable alternative. This book seemed to suit my style -- or attempted style, anyway.

Here are Barbara Coloroso's
Three Alternatives to No.

1) "Yes, later."
I've been using this a lot. I even told the kids about it! I like this better than either barking, "Not now!" or "Not until whatever!" at them. She makes a sort of funny point about this too: If for some reason you change your mind or "give in" after two minutes, you still didn't lie or waffle on them. It is later. Two minutes later.

2) "Give a minute."
I looove this one.

I don't know about you, but kids often ask me something while I'm on the phone, someone(s) is screaming about something, and/or I'm trying to get food on the table. I have a tendency to simply snap, "NO!" because I can't deal with it, and frankly I just want them to shut up. I like this a lot better.

She points out that if a kid insists they need to know now, you should say, "If you need an answer right now, it's No. Otherwise, give me a minute to think about it.

3) "Convince me."
I haven't used this one yet. She says it's more useful with older kids. I do like the idea of putting the burden back on the kids.

Okay, now I'm back in the groove. More posts to come this week ...