Sunday, December 16, 2007

6 months, That Wonderful Piney Smell, Romeo et Juliette, and Bach

This post will be as motley as its title.

Will turned 6 months on the 27th of November, and with that turning of age we have been harkened into a new world. A full-blown infant/here-comes-a-little-boy world.

Gone are: little baby animal-esque cries (I used to think it sounded a little like a yowling cat), a million poopy diapers a day, that distant newborn stare, the "can't you see I'm so friggen pissed off and can't you just know exactly what this cry means?" crying, and blob-like states (not to mention no sleeping).

Here are: almost crawling, 2 teeth, smiles when he see's me, sleeps for a reaaaally long time, food mostly on his bib/face/lap (I'll have to capture this for you, although I'm sure you're all too familiar with the scene), happy kicker and bouncy arm days.

Let me just say, I LOVE this age.

Here are his percentiles: weight 50th, length 75th, head 75th. He's catching up with himself.

On to "That Wonderful Piney Smell." This year Rodney told me that he wanted to get a fake tree so that we could start saving money at Christmas time. I told him that if we weren't going to get a real tree, I didn't want one. Not that I was really upset, mind you. I just find the idea of having a tree in your house a weird idea to begin with, not to mention a fake one (sorry to those who get fake ones- I recognize that it is a personal choice, as well as a lot easier). Anyway, I convinced him that cutting down our own tree would be a wonderful tradition to have with our kids, and I even found a great deal at Eckerts: $36 for any tree you cut down. So we got all bundled up, made the drive to Bellville and cut ourselves a beautiful tree (nicest one we've ever gotten). Now my house smells like pine. Another great reason to get a real one. Mmmmm.

So, ever since Carol decided that she thinks my voice is well suited for opera, she's been going on and on about these live broadcasts of the MET operas at various movie theaters around the St. Louis area (actually it's a nationwide campaign to get opera "out to the people"). Anyway, I've been totally interested in going, but the tickets are like 20 dollars. Well, during one of my lessons she tells me out of the blue that one of her students (who wishes to remain anonymous) is quite wealthy and wants to pay for me to go to these broadcasts. Wow. I'm not really sure what this means, but I am humbled by the gesture. So, yesterday was the first. Romeo et Juliette (French for Romeo, yadda yadda) by Gounod. After three hours of glorious singing and amazing theatrics, I left the Art Museum theater in a heightened state. It was otherworldy. I can't wait for the next one in Januaary, Hanzel and Gretel. I'm told it's even better.

Tonight we had a brutal Bach rehearsal for tomorrow night's 1st of two Candlelight performances. These are always bittersweet for me because I absolutely love singing at Powell Hall, but the rehearsals leading up to the concerts are always pretty difficult to endure. The orchestra sounded spectacular though, and tomorrow night should be amazing. 'Tis the season for hard work if you're a musician (or a snow shoveller).

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Video Post: "Hey, Look at Me!"

Almost Crawling

Talking and Laughing

Friday, December 7, 2007

Inviting You

Here is the advertisement for a concert I am singing in tomorrow under the direction of notable local countertenor, Thomas Dinan. These soundclips are of two pieces we're performing: "Sicut Cervus" and "Hodie Christus Natus Est"(under "view or listen to samples")


Music and Poetry to Celebrate God with Us

December 8th at 7:30 p.m. at the Church of St. Anselm

This evening will include music ranging from the 15th century to today. Victoria ’s rarely heard eight-part Ave Maria, as well as works by Gabrieli, Byrd, Sweelinck, Palestrina, and the world premiere of This Trackless Solitude by the Indian-born composer Rashid Khan will be performed by the St. Louis Abbey Schola.

Poems by William Butler Yeats, Rabbi Abraham Abulafia, Jessica Powers, Robert Southwell, Jalal al-Din Rumi, T. S. Eliot and others will be featured in this Advent meditation.

I also sing with The Bach Society of St. Louis and invite you to attend our annual Candlelight Christmas Concert
at Powell Symphony Hall, Monday December 17 and Wednesday December 19, at 7:30 pm. For any of you in the mood for beautiful choral and symphonic music to celebrate the magical season we're in, this is a dazzling cocert and a truly beautiful venue if you've never been. You can get tickets from the Bach Society website (linked above). If anyone knows how to put links to soundclips from your own cd library, let me know and I'll post some from the two CDs we've made as a choir.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

7 Facts About Me

I've been tagged by Kasey (like a million years ago...sorry it's taken me so long to respond)

Here's how it works:
The theme: 7 random facts about me
The rules: Link to your tagger and post these rules.
Share 7 facts about yourself: some random, some weird.
Tag 7 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).
Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

1. Let's start with a rather embarrassing random fact: I sucked my fingers until I was 13.

2. The biggest crowd I've ever sang in front of was about 10,000 people. When I was a junior in high school I sang the National Anthem at the boys state basketball finals (class B). They also broadcasted it on a Michigan sports channel, so technically it was for over 10,000 people.

3. I can talk with my mouth closed. A talent I developed in junior high (when all weird talents are developed).

4. I can also wiggle my eyeballs (jr. high...).

5. In high school I was an avid cross-stitcher. Isn't this an old person's hobby? Not even cool like knitting. I think it did the same thing that algabra did for me: a relatively easy formula to do somewhat mindlessly. I suppose crossword puzzles have replaced my "mindless" cross-stitching habit.

6. The most books I ever read in one year (for pleasure) was 20+. When we lived in Paraguay we didn't have television and we spent a lot of time on looooonng bus rides.

7. To this day my mother calls me "Boo Boo Bear", short for "Buggie Wuggie Boo Boo Bear", which is derived from "Gina Bug" (a nickname I acquired as a kid that even aunts and uncles called me). My brother-in-law, Marc has called me "Bug" ever since we met (about 13 years now) and friends throughout my school years did the same. It's endearing from Marc, but somehow from my mom I feel like an almost-thirty-year-old trying to be kept a perpetual 5 year old (and it's quite embarrassing to hear a loud "Boo Boo!" ringing out across the aisles in the supermarket when the recipient is a grown woman).

I tag: Marisa, Elizabeth, Lindsay, and EJ (hope there are no duplicates)

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Can you see them now?

Hey all, sorry about the picture glitch. Apparently something went wrong with yesterday's post and the pictures did not appear. Here is the fixed post with also some editing done. Why didn't someone tell me I used the phrase "extended family" about 50 times? It's funny how sometimes I'll go back and re-read what I wrote and change it. I guess it doesn't mean much when I do that because chances are those who read my blog on a regular basis have already read it and won't re-read it (like I do). Am I alone in this quirky behavior?

Monday, December 3, 2007

I'm Still Here!

Wow, it's been way too long since my last post. My excuses are as follows: We traveled to Florida the week before Thanksgiving to be with my folks and that same week my Grandpa died. Then, everytime I tried to write a post while we were in Florida I could never finish it. And, lastly, our power cord stopped working towards the end of the trip and we just got a new one in the mail two days ago. There you have it. I am still here, alive and kicking and sooooooooo glad to be back in the normal swing of things (with a computer!). This is sure to be a lenghty post as I play catch-up. The rest of Will's nap (if there's anytime left!) will be devoted to reading your blogs (can't wait to see what's been going on with you all).

On Monday, November 12 my grandpa Henry LaCroix died. He had been in and out of hospital and hospice care since August and it was time. He was 94 (his 95th birthday would have been in a week and a half) and every time we saw him for the past 4 or 5 years were true blessings. About that long ago he was diagnosed with pacreatic cancer, but kept amazing everyone with how well he did. Until his dying days, he was the most loving, talented, intelligent, and hilarious grandpa. Here's a summary of some amazing facts about his life and who he was to me:

Henry Paul LaCroix (I found out at the funeral that Will and he share the same middle name- this of course reduced me to tears) was an accountant for 35 years in northern Michigan, but before that he was a big band tenor saxophonist and crooner (hence the musical talent and ability in my family). He had seven children with his wife Bernice, whom he wooed at one of the dances for which he played in the 1930s. Their seven children went on to give him 28 grandkids, who themselves had given him over 50 great-grandkids (and even one great-great grandchild). To these people he left some pretty amazing gifts:

growing up I NEVER knew that my grandpa had ever been an accountant. Whenever we talked about what our granparents did I always said that Grandpa Hank was a fisherman. I told my grandmother this while we were there for the funeral and she laughed, "Well, you know he went fishing three times a day!" I have several family members who love fishing because of him. I can't even tell you how many pictures I've seen of him and various children/granchildren holding up their prized catches for the day.

I have great memories of my unlces yelling at tv screens while some boring old-guy hit a golf ball. I used to make so much fun of them. Who gets worked up over GOLF? Grandpa golfed well into his 80s.

Some of the earliest memories I have of Grandpa is of him picking me up to kiss him and with the most boisterous laughter to follow, saying "thank you, thank you, thank you." It never occured to me that he didn't only do this for me (and my siblings) until I saw this sign made for him at the LaCroix Thanksgiving gathering:

That was how special he made all 28 of his grandkids feel (and I'm sure he did the same with his great-grandkids).

My dad got his first gig when he was 16 years old, playing the organ in the dinning room at Schuss Mountain in northern Michigan. My grandpa bought dad that organ and thus started his career as a musician. My uncle Fred joined my dad playing the drums and he and my aunt Sue make music their living in Venice, Florida to this day. I have many cousins and aunts with beautiful voices and most family get-togethers involve a band consisting of my dad and uncle Fred. We would hear my cousin George play the trumpet, my aunt Mary singing "Proud Mary", my parents playing dance music from the their hayday, and I would sing. But the highlight would always be when grandpa got out his ancient saxophone and blew us all away with his surprisingly fresh renditions of Nat Cole tunes and other big band favorites. I was told that a few weeks before he passed, all of his kids were gathered for some occassion (perhaps it was their 70th wedding annivertsary) and they were all begging him to sing but he wasn't in the mood. Finally, as they were all about to leave, he called them back in and sang this beautiful song called "Daddy's Lullabye". My dad said that they hadn't heard this sung by their father since they were kids and he remembered every word:

(ca. 1929)
Fond recollections come back to me
Memories recalled by an old melody
Visions of someone a sweet angel face
One day she left me and Dad took her place
Each night he'd put me to sleep with a sigh
He'd sing this quaint lullaby:

Your daddy's work is through, your playtime's over too,
And soon you'll close your sleepy eyes
Now, say a little prayer for someone way up there
Just listen while you're praying, you will hear her saying,
"Mother has watched over you all the day,
kept you from harm while your daddy's away
God Bless my little lad
Now, go to sleep for Dad"
That was my daddy's lullaby

Melodies come just as melodies go
Still there is one that will linger I know
Down through the years 'twill remain in my heart
Although it causes the teardrops to start
When I'm alone and the nightshades appear
Softly I seem to hear:

Your daddy's work is through, your playtime's over too,
And soon you'll close your sleepy eyes
Now, say a little prayer for someone way up there
Just listen while you're praying, you will hear her saying,
"Mother has watched over you all the day,
kept you from harm while your daddy's away
God Bless my little lad
Now, go to sleep for Dad"
That was my daddy's lullaby

My dad sang this at the funeral and we were all a mess. I'm in tears just writing this now. Needless to say, the funeral was amazing. We had a Catholic mass at 8 a.m. followed by a "Celebration Service" planned by my aunts an uncles at a neighboring non-denominational church. The celebration service was a beautiful tribute to his life, complete with stories about him, his favorite music, and some of his favorite things on display beside his casket: his sax and fishing gear.

The days following were such an awesome time spent with my parents and my extended family. Thanksgiving day was great, too. My cousin Dean is the executive chef at an Arnold Palmer resort and he invited us, along with my brother (Adam) and his wife (Reina), for brunch at his house with his wife(Jennifer) and 1yr. old daughter (Hope). I had never tasted his food and can say that he is truly talented. In fact, I was so excited to eat his food that I took very boring pictures of the fare. I won't share them, but here's one of Dean cooking and some of Hope and Jennifer:

Dean (here's a hilarious little story: Dean's last name is Grill, which is befitting of a chef, but even funnier is the fact that his mom remarried a guy with the last name "Cook". Providence perhaps?)


Jennifer with an unhappy Will

Hope loved Will and couldn't get enough of him, always asking for "baby".
It's amazing how mothering instincts are present so early in life!

Here are some pictures from the Thanksgiving party. We counted off during the prayer and there were 65 people there! After our amazing spread (Dean even made roasted duck with orange marmalade sauce) we sang carols, listened to George play his trumpet, and, as the party died down, basked in moody guitar music played by my younger cousins (with an adoring great-grandmother listening on). Also included are pictures from the dinner we had following the Celebration Service for Grandpa, and other pics from the Florida trip.


With a huge family there are bound to be duplicate names: This is Sarah and Harry Malone along with Sidney Rosmondo. Sarah and Harry are my cousin Debbie's children-she married Denny Malone when I was a kid. We're pretty sure he's not related to Rodney's family

This is the youngest of my 1st cousins, Blake- he's 17- along with Jeremy (2nd cousin) who's about the same age. My oldest 1st cousin (Debby Malone) is 48. You can see her sitting at the bar in the background


Uncle Adam

Adam, Reina, and Grandma Bernie

Papa and Nana

Grandkids/Cousins: Adam, Dean, Cathy, Jennifer, Topher (oldest of the great-grandchildren)

Will and Me

More Cousins: Rodney, Gina, George, and Nathan