Monday, November 24, 2014

Proud Mama

Biscuit had such a good piano practice yesterday. He was just in the zone. And I was so happy because it came after a practice earlier in the week that made both of us grumpy with each other.

As he was playing yesterday, I just kept thinking, "Man, I wish he could play exactly like this tomorrow at his lesson."

And guess what? He did!

He's learning Christmas songs right now, and for tonight's lesson, he worked on "Silent Night." He got the first part of the song without much problem. But on the part at the end where it says "Sleep in heavenly peace, sleep in heavenly peace," Biscuit had to pick up his right hand and move it up two notes AND play a flat (one of the black keys), something he hadn't done before.

This probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but it should've been pretty hard for a kid at his level, but Biscuit just didn't hesitate. He had no qualms about just jumping right into it.

There was one three-note phrase that I knew would be harder for him, so I brought him out of the song and just had him play those three notes over and over again. I remember my teacher telling me to do that just so your hand can get a feel for what it needs to be doing.

So he played those three notes over and over, at least 10 times. Then I said, "Stop!" And he did and looked at me. "Turn around and ask Dad if he's tired of hearing those three notes." And he laughed then asked Jeff.

"What three notes?" Jeff asked, sarcastically.

Biscuit just doesn't seem to have any doubts when he sits down. And I have no idea where that comes from because I've always been plagued with doubts. He just has this confidence about what he's doing, and I could not be prouder of him.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

An evening of music

A couple of weeks ago, we got to take Biscuit to see a professional concert pianist. She's originally from China, but now she lives here and is a professor at one of the arts schools.

She played her first public concert at age 6. She played with an orchestra the first time at 13. She's played all the big concert halls, like Carnegie Hall, and she's played on five continents.

In other words, she knows what she's doing and is plenty talented.

We found our seats and got settled. And shortly after, she walked out onstage. She's a young woman, and she was wearing a pretty, flowy purple dress with sparkly jewelry.

Biscuit will have his first piano recital in January, and his teacher has been trying to prep him. He told Biscuit that he will walk up and sit at the piano. Then he should keep his hands in his lap and count to 10. Then he'll put his hands in position and begin to play. Then after he plays his songs, Biscuit should stand up and bow toward the audience.

When the pianist came out at the concert, everyone started to clap, and she bowed. Biscuit looked at me and grinned.

"I wonder if she ever gets nervous," Biscuit asked.

"I bet she does," I said to him. "There are a lot of people here."

When she sat down, I leaned over to Biscuit and counted quietly in his ear, "One ... two ... three ... four ... five ... six ... seven ... eight ... nine ... ten ..." Then she picked up her hands and put them on the keys. Biscuit gave me a big smile.

The first song she played was some very modern, very dissonant song that none of the three of us liked. Biscuit spent the entire song looking around the auditorium and even started to fidget a little.

I was worried he would want to go before it even got started well.

After the first song, she moved right into some Chopin. And just as quickly as Biscuit's attention had waned in the first song, his eyes were suddenly glued to the stage. He's heard Chopin before. It sounded familiar to him, and I could tell he was enjoying it a lot more than the first song.

The concert started at 7:30, and Biscuit's bedtime is 8:30. So I wondered how long he would make it. I figured the concert would probably last until about 9 p.m., and especially with him having to sit still, I figured Biscuit might not last all the way through.

And I was right. About 8:45, Biscuit's head started to nod.

I was so proud of him for lasting as long as he did. I mean, it was dark and quiet, and there was pretty music playing. That's a perfect equation for putting someone to sleep!

Biscuit looked at me, and I could tell that he could hardly hold his eyes open.

I scooted over toward his seat and patted my thigh. He laid his head down on my leg, and I covered him up with my coat. I bet it wasn't two minutes later that he was asleep!

I hated that he couldn't make it because for the last two songs, she invited another pianist out, and they played together on the one piano. They played the last two songs together, and they were both fun, lively pieces.

I knew the pianist would do a meet-and-greet after the show, so I tried to wake up Biscuit. I figured if he could ask her in person if she ever gets nervous, that she would probably say yes. And maybe that would help him as he gets ready for his recital.

The poor little man couldn't wake up, though, and Jeff carried him all the way to the car. We had to walk about a block to our car, and Jeff said he's getting pretty heavy these days.

I asked Biscuit the next day to tell me his favorite part of the concert.

"I liked it when she bowed," Biscuit said.

He was excited to tell his piano teacher at his next lesson. I put the program in his piano book bag so he could show him. The teacher was familiar with a lot of the music, so he was able to talk to Biscuit about it.

I love that we live in a city big enough to offer programs like this. And I love that Biscuit is game for whatever we come up with.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The forgotten afternoon

Back in October, one of my friends got in touch and asked if Biscuit and I would like to do something fall-ish. And of course we said we would.

A few years ago, we went to a place one county over that had a pumpkin patch, corn maze, barrel train and more. And since we had such a good time that day, I thought a return trip was in order.

Last time we went, we followed some friends, so I didn't pay attention to how we got there. This time, I went onto the website, got the address and typed it into the GPS in my car.

Biscuit and I set out and picked up our friends along the way. The GPS said it should take us about 30 minutes to get there, and since both boys were in a good mood and excited to see each other, it seemed like it would be a nice trip over.

Most of the trip was on a four-lane highway that was lined with trees that were showing pretty fall color. I chatted with my friend, and the boys played and giggled in the back seat.

I exited off the highway and followed by GPS's directions. I looked at the clock in my car and compared it with the time the GPS said we should arrive, and they didn't quite match up. We should've been at the place already, but it was nowhere in sight.

I kept following the GPS directions, and as I took a left turn, I realized we were right back where we were when we exited the highway. We had made one big 15-minute circle.

And then I remembered reading on the website back in 2011 that you should follow the directions listed on the website instead of using the address in a GPS.

I know. Fine time to remember, right?

Thank goodness for smartphones. We looked up the directions, and if I had used the directions instead of the GPS, once we exited off the highway, we would've been within a mile of the pumpkin patch!

We finally got on the right road, and it just didn't look familiar to me.

The website said, "You can't miss it!" but the place on the left was definitely not the place we went to back in 2011. I was frustrated, confused and embarrassed that it was taking so long. Luckily, my friend was laughing about it, and the boys were only a little impatient about the whole thing.

Finally, I said, "Well, let's just go up and ask."

We got to the pay window, and I asked, "Did y'all move or am I crazy?"

"You're not crazy," the woman said. "We moved two years ago."

So our trip in 2011 was their last year at that location.

We had fun on our outing, but I actually liked the previous location better. Well, except for the bathrooms. The previous location had portable potties, but the new location has really nice tiled bathrooms.

The old location was nice and grassy. The new location was covered in gravel, which caused dust. The old location had a shelter over the jumping pillow. The new location had it out in the open, and the sun that day, although lovely, was bright and hot!

Despite those things, they have added a few features, including a corn pit for the kids to play in, a small hay bale maze for little kids and a couple of games to play.

We got there about 1:30 p.m. and didn't leave until after 6. We did take a lunch break for hot dogs, chips and popcorn. And then there was a break later for snow cones.

Toward the end, the boys were bouncing on the jumping pillow and Biscuit pushed his friend too hard and his friend fell down. So Biscuit had to sit out for a few minutes.

Then the friend pushed Biscuit, and he had to sit out for a few minutes.

They each came back to tell on the other one a couple more times, and I finally said, "Okay, the next time one of you comes to tell on the other one, we're leaving."

My friend told them to work it out amongst themselves. And they seemed to do just that.

Biscuit and I dropped off our friends and headed home. Jeff was covering a college football game, and he got an earful when he got home. Biscuit told him all about everything we did. It's always fun to hear the parts that he considered important enough to share.

It was a fun afternoon, and I can't believe I forgot to write about it.

Here are some pictures:

Whoever came up with these barrel trains
was a genius. An oil drum, handtrucks and tires.

We let the boys lead us through the corn maze. They took us
in an entrance and out an exit, so I'd say the did a good job.

The corn pit.

That bucket was full of corn, and
he poured it right over himself.

The jumping pillow is just a big ol' hump. I have no idea what's under
it or how it works. It's bouncy, but not as soft as those big inflatables.

Jumping is serious business.

Up to his ears in corn. Nice pun, huh?

This is the nicest hayride I've ever been on. They
lined the trailer with pontoon boat seats. It's nice
and comfy, but it does lack a little authenticity.

My favorite spider takes a spin on his web. I have to mention that Biscuit's
Halloween shirt features the bones of the torso, AND it glows in the dark.

Nice hair, dude!

I've asked it before, and I'll ask it again, "Why do boys feel
the need to jump off of anything that's over a foot high?!"

Ballet anyone? It looks like Biscuit is getting ready to take to the stage.

Biscuit said this was his web's bedroom, so he was taking a break on his bed.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Magic man

Biscuit shows off his budding skills as a magician.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Out to pasture

One long-time member of our family has moved on to a new home. Well, right now, he's probably still sitting at the thrift store, but we're hoping he moves on to a good home.

Pinto/Blaze/Randy has ridden off into the sunset.

He came into our life in 2011. We saw him for sale online at a neighborhood where a couple of our friends live. We drove out and loved him instantly. Then we brought him home, and Biscuit was over the moon. He quickly named him Pinto.

In 2011, Pinto fit like a glove.

In late 2012, Pinto got a new name. He was to be called Blaze because of the light tan blaze on his forehead. Even though Biscuit's legs were getting a little long for him, we knew there was too much love there to even mention the possibility of him going away.

In late 2012, Biscuit was getting a little too big for
Blaze, but was still way too emotionally attached. 

In 2013, we broached the subject of the horse, now called Randy, finding a new home. Biscuit knew he was getting too big for Randy, but even so, he didn't remember a time when Randy wasn't waiting for him in the living room.

And in late 2013, we broached the subject with
Biscuit. He knew it was only a matter of time.

Flash forward to November 2014. At Biscuit's birthday party, someone mentioned the horse, and Biscuit said, "Yeah, I'm too big for him now, so I guess we'll have to give him to another kid who can ride him."

That was the first time Biscuit had seemed okay with letting go of Randy. Jeff and I exchanged a look, and we knew it was time.

While Biscuit and I were at my parents' house last weekend, Jeff took Pinto/Blaze/Randy to a local thrift store.

Jeff said he worried about it as he dropped off Randy, but he knew it was time.

After Griffin was tucked into bed tonight, Jeff and I were standing in the kitchen.

"Do you know that he hasn't even mentioned Randy?" I said to Jeff.

"Oh, really?" Jeff said. And I think he was relieved.

As Biscuit gets older, I'm slowly but surely getting my living room back. And as much as I enjoy seeing a little more of the floor every time we move or get rid of something else, it's just another sign of how fast Biscuit is growing up.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ever the optimist

Biscuit is often pretty hard on himself. He doesn't like to do things badly.

If he's practicing piano and he misses a note or gets something wrong, he really struggles with letting it go.

And sadly, I know exactly where he got that from!

So since it's my fault, I figured I need to work really hard to help fix it. And I've enlisted help from others, too. Like his piano teacher.

Tonight at Biscuit's lesson, I asked the teacher a question out loud, knowing that Biscuit would hear me. And his teacher said exactly what I hoped he would say.

"If he misses a note or loses his place, should he just keep going or should he go back to the beginning or should he go back a few notes and make his way back through?" I asked the teacher.

"Well, first of all, EVERYBODY makes mistakes and misses notes and loses their place," the teacher said. "So it's basically about where you feel comfortable. If you can keep going, do it. If you need to start over, do it. But just remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with messing up. It happens to everybody."

I couldn't have said it better myself. Actually, I HAVE said that myself.

But even though he can be pretty hard on himself, Biscuit is also quite the optimist. He seems to be able to find a silver lining in most situations.

A perfect (but scary) example ...

Biscuit and I went to my parents' house this past weekend. Jeff had to stay home for work, so it was just the two of us. We had a good time, but by the time we got home yesterday evening, we just wanted to eat a hot dinner and go to bed.

I was making cheese and black bean quesadillas when I heard something really odd in the living room.

First, there was an awful thud. Then I heard Jeff gasp. Jeff is definitely not a gasper. And then I heard a wail that made my blood curdle.

Biscuit had tripped over his own feet and fell face-first into the coffee table. He slammed his cheek on the table, and he was in pain!

It was so incredibly awful to hear him cry in pain. And he would run out of breath and be perfectly silent for a few seconds before he cried out again.

I was not at all calm. I was running back and forth between the living room and the griddle I was using in the kitchen. I couldn't decide which was more important - checking on Biscuit or keeping the kitchen from catching on fire!

Finally, Jeff carried Biscuit into the kitchen, and we immediately put ice on his face. Then Jeff got a flashlight and looked in his mouth and in his ears. Everything looked okay.

He didn't hit high enough to cause a concussion, but we watched him for symptoms anyway. We figured it couldn't hurt.

And of course there was the "should we take him to get checked out" conversation that I hate so much. Either way, I'm not going to sleep for worrying.

So I made Jeff go up a couple of times during the night to wake up Biscuit and make sure he was okay ... just for my own satisfaction. And of course I couldn't go up and do it myself because I was too scared of what I might find!

Anyway, after we checked out Biscuit's face and ears and mouth and everything, he started to calm down a little bit.

And through his tears, he said, "Guys, do you know the good thing about getting hurt?"

"There's a good thing about getting hurt?" I asked.

"Yes," Biscuit said. "The good thing about getting hurt is that it won't hurt like this tomorrow."

Wow! His face was red, starting to turn purple. His eyes were red and starting to get puffy. And Biscuit throws out a positive affirmation.

He is an old, old soul.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Happy birthday, Biscuit!

Biscuit turned 6 years old today, and it seems hard to believe that he's been here that long. But at the same time, I can't remember what life was like before he got here. 

He's grown into this amazing little person, and I get to know him better every day.

Around here, you get to choose all the meals on your birthday, so Biscuit started his day with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with chocolate milk. And for lunch, he had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with apple juice. And for dinner, he picked pizza.

When I was planning Biscuit's party, he mentioned a couple of kids from school he'd like to invite. But the problem was that it's against the rules to send invitations to school, and I had no idea how to get in touch with either kid's parents.

Somehow, one of the moms got my email address and sent us an invitation to her son's birthday party. His birthday is on Nov. 6. I thanked her for the invitation but told her we were going to be out of town that weekend. I thought about inviting the kid to Biscuit's party, but I had bought just enough party supplies for the kids I had already invited.

I told the kid's mom that we were going to the park today to take a boat ride and asked if they would be available to meet us there. She has a 10-month-old daughter who couldn't be out as chilly as it was today, but the little boy and his dad came out.

I didn't tell Biscuit, so when he saw the kid, he was so excited.

We took a nice boat ride and looked at the pretty leaves, then gave the boys some time to play on the playground.

Biscuit was exhausted by the time we left the park. I thought he was going to fall asleep on the way to the restaurant.

When we got home, he talked on the phone to his cousins, aunt and uncle. Then Jeff gave him a bath and got him in his jammies.

Before he went to bed, Biscuit climbed up on my lap. He barely fits there anymore. I told him how happy I am that he came into my life, and I told him all the things I like best about him. And he said to me, "Mom, even when I'm a grown up, I'll still be just as nice as I am now."

And I hope he means it!

Here are some pictures from today:

Biscuit and his friend look for
birds and turtles on the lake.

It doesn't seem like that long ago when
Biscuit couldn't walk across these things.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Birthday party time!

Biscuit's birthday is tomorrow, so we threw him a party this afternoon.

He picked the theme of ninjas. A certain party supply business has figured out that I've ordered boys party supplies from them in late September/early October, so now they fill up my mailbox with catalogs. Biscuit flipped through one of the catalogs and fell upon two facing pages of ninjas!

"Mom! THIS is what I want my party to be," Biscuit said.

"Okay," I told him. "Which things do you want?"

"What about these swords?" Biscuit asked, pointing to plastic swords.

"What about THESE swords?" I asked him, pointing to some inflatable swords that wouldn't leave a mark if someone got crazy and tried to smack somebody else.

Then he spotted a cupcake holder.

"MOM! We HAVE to get this?" Biscuit said.

"What is it?" I asked.

"It's a cupcake holder that looks like a dojo!" Biscuit said.

So we got inflatable swords, a dojo cupcake holder, a table runner and a couple of red Japanese lanterns. I got the tablecloth, plates and napkins from the dollar store. Cute parties don't have to be expensive!

I got the table decorated in the kitchen and called Biscuit in to see it.

"Mom," Biscuit said, pausing a few seconds. "I really like what you've done here, but uh ... I was, uh ... I was kinda hoping we could do it at the table in the dining room."

"We can do that," I said, then I hauled all the decorations through the kitchen and into the dining room.

Once I was done, I called Biscuit in to see it.

"Does this look okay?" I asked him.

"It looks better than okay, Mom," he said. "And just so you know, I don't like ... I LOVE IT!"

That's all I needed to hear!

I usually go overboard with food, but this time, I made myself cut back. It's been a rough couple of weeks, so I was determined not to get stressed out. I wanted to be able to feed everybody but still be relaxed enough to enjoy the afternoon.

Biscuit wanted chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing. I gave him some red sprinkles and put them in the cupcake holder. Biscuit opted for a candle that looked like the number six instead of doing six candles.

The only themed food I had was some kid-friendly "sushi." You make Rice Krispies treats and add a gummy fish and some fruit leather. It was really cute.

Biscuit and the other boys played well together, and Biscuit got some fun gifts.

You would think our friends and families were following a schedule for when to mail their birthday cards for Biscuit. He's gotten one card each day this week. And y'all know how the child is about mail.

After everybody left, Biscuit couldn't decide whether to be wide open or exhausted. He was still excited about the day, but I could see that he was dragging. While I was cleaning up the kitchen, Biscuit went upstairs and turned on the TV. He watched a show then came downstairs ready to play. I guess that 20-minute TV break was just enough to get him re-energized.

It was a good day. We all had fun hanging out with our friends.

Here are some pictures:

Ninjas guard the cupcakes.

"Sushi" made from Rice Krispies, gummy fish and fruit leather.

Biscuit wanted to wear his Halloween costume. But I told him that his
hood on his outfit looked more like Little Red Riding Hood than a ninja!

Biscuit makes a wish before blowing out his candle.

He huffed and puffed and blew out the candle.

Chocolate teeth!

Present time. He got toys, books, cards and money.
He was a very happy little boy!