Thursday, March 31, 2016

Out of the mouth of my babe

A few things Biscuit has said recently: 

Summer camp: Believe it or not, we have Biscuit's summer all planned out.

Since there are about 300,000 people in our city, you have to jump on summer camps as soon as they open registration.

Our paper prints an annual guide to summer camps, and that helps us know what's out there. And then there was the option of Biscuit going back to the same camp he went to last year.

That camp included a morning assembly where they sang songs and played games. And they went outside and played games. And they swam in the pool, and then played more games.

At the end of the summer, Biscuit to me and Jeff, "Guys, we might need to pick a different summer camp for me next year."

"You didn't enjoy camp this year?" I asked him.

"Well, I had fun at summer camp, but I didn't learn a thing!" Biscuit said.

Jeff and I had to laugh, but we did find him some different activities for this year. We'll see how it goes.

Good name: When we took Biscuit to the historical museum for the Women's History Month event, he sat down and had a long conversation with the woman who was portraying a Civil War nurse.

They were wrapping up their chat when she said, "By the way, what is your name?"

Biscuit told her his full name, and she smiled and nodded.

"That is a really good and important-sounding name," she said.

"Yeah," Biscuit said. "I get that a lot."

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Learning about important women

We have a historical museum here that has a really nice collection of clothing, weapons, artwork, early tools, photos, furniture, toys ... just all kinds of stuff. Some of the items date back to the 1700s, including a house that was moved to the backyard of the museum.

March is Women's History Month, and the museum was having an event where local actresses dressed up like important women in our city's history. One of the First Ladies was born here, so there's a whole exhibit just on her.

The actresses including a woman playing a slave who talked about almost being slip up from her family. Another woman played the first female firefighter here. Another one played a woman who help start a now nationwide business. There were five or six altogether.

Biscuit is standing in front of the old entrance to
the museum. I just think the building is so pretty.

And this is the new entrance.

The first restaurant sit-in was here in 1960 by the guys in the big
picture. If you lift the phone, you can hear people talking about it.

This was on display in a room set up like
an old pharmacy. Too bad they weren't real!

This stuff was created here. I remember it being in blue jars when I was a kid.

One of the speakers was portraying a Civil War nurse. Jeff, my
friend and I were wandering around looking at the displays, and I glanced
back to find Biscuit parked on a bench with the woman playing
the nurse. She was very sweet and talked to him for a long time.

Out behind the museum, there are a couple of buildings.
The building behind Biscuit was a blacksmith shop.

The house behind Biscuit was built in the late 1700s. It was originally
a log house, but to preserve the wood, they added clapboard
siding. The inside has been wired for electricity, so they can have
security and smoke detectors, but the furniture, dishes, clothes
and other items in the house are all from that period in time.

Biscuit will visit lots of these types of places on school field trips, but I really like when we can go as a family and have good conversations about what we see. Jeff and I are both transplants here, but I keep trying to remind myself that this is Biscuit's hometown. So the history of this place is part of his history.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An afternoon at the park

This week is spring break at Biscuit's school, so he's spending the week with his grandparents. It's strange not having him here for Easter, but he's having a great time.

He got to go to the Easter egg hunt at my parents' church, and he'll spend today with his cousins.

So since he's not here to say something funny or do something cool for me to write about, I'll tell you about an afternoon at the park a couple of weeks ago.

After Biscuit's piano competition (the first one), we went out for lunch, then we were going to meet a friend of mine at our local historical museum for an event (more on that later).

We ended up having about an hour to waste before my friend arrived, so we walked up the block to a city park.

It's nice to have a park downtown. Sometimes we go up and have lunch there.
And in the summer, there's a free music series from noon-1:30 every Wednesday.

Why walk on a perfectly good sidewalk when you can balance on the border?!

Walking into the park from the back entrance.

Sitting on a bench, shooting straight up into the pretty blue sky.

There are several paths around the park, and in the
warmer seasons, there are some really cool fountains there.

The singers perform in the little stage area on the left.

I found a nice bench in the sunshine, but somebody had to go wandering.

Can you see me in his sunglasses lens?

I'm not sure what this pose was about. Maybe he was getting ready to run.

This cat lives at the park. And guess what his name is? Parker.

Biscuit and Parker.
It was a little cooler that day, so there weren't many people out in the park. But we did see a couple having engagement photos shot. She was wearing a sleeveless shirt. She would wrap up quickly between shooting locations.

It was nice and rare chance to hang out with nothing to do except watch Biscuit run around and play.

Friday, March 25, 2016

All About Me

Biscuit's class had an assignment recently to make an "All About Me" poster. They could use drawings, pictures, magazines, even small 3-D objects (medals, small toys, etc.) to show the class what they're interested in.

Biscuit's brain immediately went into overdrive with all the things he wanted on his poster, including his first baseball medal (from two years ago), some "Star Wars" figures, some other little toys and cars ... just a bunch of stuff that I could see going to school and never coming home.

So in an effort to distract him, I gathered some magazines, then we looked at some pictures on my computer to print out, and we got to work on his poster.

He said he wanted to explain where his name came from, so I typed it up and printed it. I guess that's a good enough place to start.

"Since this is a group project for the whole family, I'll handle your name and the pictures, and you can be in charge of the magazine pictures and the writing," I told him.

"It's a plan, Mom!" Biscuit said.

I chose pictures for baseball, his cousins (since he doesn't have any siblings), piano and "Star Wars."

He chose magazine pictures for nature, chocolate, pizza and the beach.

Then he got a worried look on his face.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Well," Biscuit said, "I really love history and the presidents, but I can't find any pictures of anything like that in these magazines."

"Who are your favorite presidents?" I asked him.

"Well, there's Abraham Lincoln," Biscuit said. "He's the tallest president. And George Washington ... because he was the first president. And you know I like Theodore Roosevelt because he had more pets than any other president."

So I found pictures of them to go on the poster, and he was satisfied with that.

The kids had to hold their poster up in front of the class and explain each thing. The other kids had evaluation cards that they filled out for each of the classmates. They checked boxes to say if the speaker was loud enough, if he or she spoke clearly, if the poster was good, if the explanation matched the poster, and a couple of other things. And there was a place for extra comments if they wanted to add something.

A couple of the kids said Biscuit talked too fast. And one girl wrote an extra comment, "Grate!"

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Piano competition No. 2

Biscuit's piano teacher wanted him to perform in a second competition this year. He'd get to play the same song for both competitions, but he'd have to add one from a special list for the second one.

So that's where we went yesterday morning. His timeslot was 9:40 a.m., which doesn't sound early, but after a week of the flu, I figured he would be dragging.

I was wrong.

My plan was to take my shower then go up and wake up Biscuit. But Jeff came into the bathroom to tell me that Biscuit came downstairs fully dressed and ready for breakfast.

He decided that he wanted to wear the same outfit he wore for his competition two weeks ago. I'm not sure if it was superstition or just something easy to pick out. (Jeff did say that Biscuit has misaligned the buttons on his shirt, so he had to do some re-buttoning.)

This competition was at the same college as the last one, but instead of being a citywide competition, it was a nationwide group.

Biscuit was just as nervous about this one as he was the first one, but I figured out a strategy.

"Hey," I said to him. "How did you feel after the last competition?"

"I felt so, so, so, so, so, so, so proud of myself," Biscuit said.

"Then instead of being freaked out, why don't you just think about how you're going to feel when this one is done, too?" I told him.

Aha! I got him.

We got there and signed in. Then comes the worst part. You're supposed to get there 15-20 minutes early to make sure you have time to sign in and get to where you're supposed to be. But then, you have to wait. Biscuit's time was 9:40, and we got there at 9:20. By the time we signed in and walked upstairs, it was 9:30. And then they were running about 10 minutes behind schedule.

I handed Biscuit my phone so he could play some games while we waited. And then it was his turn. The door opened, they called his name, and I had to hand them the book and the sheet music for the songs he would be playing.

For the first competition, it was just Biscuit and a judge in the room. For this one, there's a judge and a monitor. Biscuit was nervous to play in front of one total stranger, much less two of them! But apparently, years ago, there was a dispute between a parent and a judge that caused the federation to put a monitor in each room to oversee everything.

You know those parents on the sidelines of the soccer fields who go nuts over their kids' games? Well who knew that some of those same parents show up for piano competitions, too?!

Anyway, the competition is in the university's music building, and all the practice rooms are soundproof. So when Biscuit is in there playing, we can't hear a single note. It's nerve-wracking!

The door opened again, and Biscuit was just getting up from the piano. He stopped in the middle of the room, looked around and said, "This is a nice room you have here." Then he walked out. By then, he was cool as a cucumber.

He came out and stood with us, and they closed the door again. It takes them a few minutes to decide what score he should get. So we wait again.

"How did you do?" I asked Biscuit.

"Good, I think," he said.

When the door opened again, the monitor stepped out and handed Biscuit his music and a certificate.

Poor thing, the judge had written his score in cursive. And he can't read cursive yet.

He looked at the certificate, then looked at me. 

"Can you read this?" I said. "I can't read cursive!"

"It says 'superior'!" I told him.

"My second superior!" he said, grinning.

"Mom, is it lunchtime yet?" he asked.

"No, why?" I asked him.

"Then I want my treat to be doughnuts!" he said.

I think we might have gone a little overboard, but hey, it was time to celebrate.

Monday, March 21, 2016

A musical afternoon

Our town has tons of opportunities (many of them free) to expose Biscuit to different kinds of music. And so far, he seems to love them all.

Last Sunday afternoon, we went to an annual family-friendly concert by our Philharmonia orchestra. The group has about 60 members of volunteer musicians who play strings, woodwind, brass and percussion.

The concert is called Pillow Pops, and the kids are encouraged to wear pajamas and bring blankets and pillows. They use the gym of one of the city recreation centers, and it's divided into four spaces - the orchestra in the back, then an open space for the dancers, then an area for the kids and their blankets and then several rows of chairs for adults.

I wanted to show how the setup looked, but I'm not sure what's going on with that lady in the pink shirt.

They started out playing music from the opera "Carmen." (And of course, Jeff's first comment was, "Isn't that the music from 'The Bad News Bears'?" And yes, it is.)

But it's also very Spanish. So a local dance group performed while wearing red flowing skirts, white puffy shirts and red flowers in their hair. The definitely looked the part.

Not long after they started playing, I glanced over at Biscuit, and he was just entranced. And then he looked at me, and I saw that he had teared up a little bit. It was so cool that the music moved him that much.

"Are you okay?" I asked him.

"I'm okay," Biscuit said. "My eyes just got watery all of a sudden."

The second part of the concert was by another classical composer (whose name I didn't catch). But what was really cool about it was that the conductor gave the kids a really fun introduction to it.

"When this next piece begins," the conductor said, "it's going to sound like a violin says, 'I want a piece of chocolate cake.'" And he made a really funny face and used a whiny voice.

"Then an oboe is going to answer the violin by saying, 'You can't have any, na, na, na, na, na." 

He went on to explain some other parts of it, too, and it just really helped the kids connect to the music. I think kids are so used to music that has words, that it can be hard to understand instrumental music.

The whole thing was only an hour. And since they planned several small parts to it, you could tell that they definitely understand the short attention span of kids.

The conductor told all the kids that after their last song, the musicians were going to stay put for a little while, and they were welcome to go up and talk to them, look at the instruments and ask questions.

Biscuit walked over to a cello player and asked him how long he had been playing.

"Forever!" the man said and laughed.

"Well, I'm quite a musician myself," Biscuit said. (I never claimed he was modest!) "I take piano lessons."

"That's really cool," the cellist said. "You know, I started out on piano at 10. And the I moved to the cello later."

On the way to the car, Biscuit said, "I can't believe I finally got to see my first orchestra!"

He's all of 7, and he FINALLY got to see his first orchestra!

I'm glad we have so many opportunities to take Biscuit on trips and expose him to different things. Jeff and I have agreed that the hardest part is just making the time to do it. But it's important. I think it will make him a well-rounded person and give him a bigger picture of the world.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

One thing after another

Before we could even get used to Jeff being home, Biscuit came down with the flu.

He woke up Tuesday morning with a high fever, and just had no energy at all. I sent a note to school saying he wouldn't be there.

Biscuit just wasn't acting like himself at all, so we made an appointment with his pediatrician.

I think the nurse and pediatrician knew right away that Biscuit was sick because he wasn't his usual chatty self. Biscuit was wearing a Barracuda T-shirt, and the doctor asked him if he liked old cars. Normally, this would set off a whole conversation about Jeff's Barracuda, and my former Mustangs and cars shows and all kinds of car topics. 

But Biscuit said, "I like Dad's Barracuda." And that was it.

The doctor was taking notes, and he asked Biscuit about his name.

"Now, is your name 'en' or 'in'?" he asked.

It took Biscuit a minute to figure out what he was asking.

"It's G-r-i-f-f-i-n," he said.

"Isn't there an animal called a griffin?" the doctor asked.

And then just a quick moment of our normal Biscuit kicked in.

"Actually, a griffin is a mythological creature," Biscuit said.

There was a med student in the room with the doctor, and the doctor looked over at the student and said quietly, "Mythological, he says."

They ran some swab tests (nose and throat) and determined that Biscuit had the flu. The doctor said he would happily write a prescription for the popular flu drug, but he said it would be $150, and a lot of insurance companies won't pay for it.

So we decided that we would hold off and just try to ease Biscuit's symptoms as much as we could.

Jeff went on to work, and I stayed at home with Biscuit. And then the belly woes hit him. He went into the bathroom and threw up. I ran in there to make sure he was okay, and he looked up at me and said, "That's better!"

I wanted to laugh at the way he said it, but you know, when you're just feeling so bad, sometimes throwing up DOES make you feel better.

So Biscuit had fever, headache, sore throat, body aches and belly issues. He was a sick little boy. The doctor said the kids who didn't get their flu shots were faring even worse, so I was glad Biscuit got his vaccination.

He was out of school Tuesday through Friday, and by the time Wednesday rolled around, he was stir-crazy.

I was trying to think of some way to get him out of the house without him having to walk a lot. He just had no energy at all. So Jeff carried him to the car in his pajamas, and we drove over to a drive-in hamburger restaurant for dinner. Biscuit was very excited about being barefoot and in his jammies and eating in the car.

Thursday night was Biscuit's first baseball practice of the season. And of course he was in no shape to play. I hated for him not to meet the other kids, so I told him we could go to practice if he promised to sit on the bench with me.

Jeff had told the coach he could help out with practices and games, and Biscuit didn't like it at all that his dad was on the field with the other kids, and he couldn't go out there himself.

After a while, Jeff came over toward us and stood on the edge of the field. Biscuit made his way over there and stood with him.

"Don't even THINK about running out there," I told Biscuit, and he just grinned at me.

Today was the first day since the beginning of the week that he's actually acted like himself. This might change at some point for him, but he really loves school and was actually mad that he had to miss some days. So we're hoping by Monday morning, he'll be back in full health and ready to head back to school. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

He's baaaack!

Jeff has finally made his way back home, after being out of town for work since Tuesday! And we're trying to restore our routines.

Griffin actually had a harder time than Jeff and I thought he would about Jeff being gone, so we've both been trying to pay a lot of attention to him.

And I have several blog posts I need and want to write, but I think the three of us are going to spend some time together, and I'll get around to writing as soon as I can.

And until then, check out this cute face!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Missing Dad

It's my parents' fault. They're here at our house, and for some reason, they think I should spend time talking to them instead of writing blog posts!

Jeff has been out of town since Tuesday. He's covering a basketball tournament that's usually here in town. But this year, he had to travel. And from our last conversation, I think he's over it!

We miss Jeff when he's gone. We all three have our jobs around the house, and when one cog of our wheel is gone, we definitely feel it.

So I did what you're supposed to do in those situations. I called Mama.

I asked them if they had plans for this week. Mama had a group meeting at her house Wednesday morning, so they drove up Wednesday afternoon. We didn't tell Biscuit they were coming, so when they showed up at school with me to pick him up Wednesday afternoon, Biscuit was really surprised.

Biscuit's school is having a book fair this week, and today was "grand" day, when the kids could invite their grandparents (or parents or aunts and uncles or whoever) to have lunch with them then go to the book fair). Since all his grandparents live far away, he doesn't usually get to participate in the grandparents events. So he was really excited to have them here this time.

And it's been a help to me, too.

Biscuit has really missed Jeff this time. 

Jeff and one of the photographers rode together to the tournament, so Jeff's car is still in our driveway. As we came home from school this afternoon, we rounded the curve, and I saw Jeff's car and got excited. And then I remembered that it's just his car, not him.

Well, Biscuit did the same thing. And I heard this little, "Aw," from the back seat.

"What's wrong?" I asked him. "Do you miss Dad?"

I could tell he was trying not to cry. He just nodded his head.

"It's okay to be sad that Dad isn't here," I told him. "We'll call him after dinner and see if he can talk."

We tried to call, but it went to voicemail. Today was his busiest day, and as the voicemail started, I was regretting telling Biscuit that he could talk to him. It occurred to me that Jeff might not be able to call us back, especially before Biscuit's bedtime.

But thankfully, right before Biscuit's shower, Jeff called. It was very sweet to hear how excited Biscuit was.

He had to tell him about his grandparents having lunch with him. And he was one of the pledge kids this morning on the Morning Show. Biscuit's school has an in-house TV show in the mornings, and a group of kids gets picked to say the school pledge and the Pledge of Allegiance. And Biscuit was one of those kids this morning.

"Dad! Everybody in the school saw me on TV! Can you believe that?!" Biscuit said. "I was nervous. I couldn't believe that I even remembered the pledges!"

It will be a happy homecoming when Jeff gets back, but I'm glad that in the meantime, we can talk to him on the phone and hang out with the grandparents.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Superior Biscuit

Biscuit had a piano competition this weekend. This was his second year doing it, but he was way more nervous this time.

Last year, Biscuit didn't know what to expect. And we didn't talk about it much before the whole thing happened. 

This year, Biscuit's teacher started talking about it before Christmas.

He's been doing just fine playing the song. And we practiced what he would do at the competition.

He would go into a room where it would be just him and a judge. The competition was in the music building on the campus of a local college, and the rooms are almost sound proof. So we couldn't hear what was going on in there. It's really hard to wait outside not knowing how it's going.

Biscuit had to walk into the room and introduce himself. Then he was to ask if he could have a warm-up (although Biscuit said that before he could ask, his judge suggested it). He had to play the song by heart while the judge followed along in his music book. We had to number the measures so she could make notes about certain parts of the song, such as "Very smooth at Measure 14." 

Across the street from the college is a long-standing hot dog and ice cream diner. I assured Biscuit that no matter what his score was, we would definitely be heading across the road for lunch and dessert.

And I had to laugh when his piano teacher asked him how he was feeling about the upcoming competition, and Biscuit repeated my promise of hot dogs and ice cream. His teacher reached in his pocket and handed Biscuit $2 for his ice cream.

Biscuit's appointment was at 10:30. We arrived about 10, and got checked in. Biscuit's teacher was actually at the table where we registered. They were running a little behind, and I didn't want Biscuit to get antsy, so I handed him my phone so he could play some games.

Biscuit's time finally arrived, and it seemed like he was in there for just a moment. He came out, and we asked him how he did.

"I made a little mistake, but I think the rest of it was really good," Biscuit said.

And he was right. The judge stepped out with Biscuit's score, and he earned a Superior. That's the highest score he could've gotten.

And since this was his second year earning a Superior, he was also eligible for a trophy in addition to his certificate.

He looked like such a little man with his shirt tucked in and belt on. But that didn't stop him from running and climbing and striking funny poses, just as soon as we hit the door!

And then the promised hot dogs.

Jeff and I both told Biscuit that we were really happy with his score. But we also told him that we were most happy with him being brave enough to do it. He worked really hard, and it paid off.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

A book for a birthday

Today is Dr. Seuss' birthday. And honestly, I didn't remember until we were having dinner and Biscuit mentioned it.

"Guys," he said. "Today is Dr. Seuss' birthday, so for my bedtime story, can we read one of his books?"

"Yes," Jeff and I said at the same time.

"Do you have a wocket in your pocket?" Jeff asked him, referring to the book, "There's A Wocket in My Pocket!"

"Daaad!" Biscuit said.

"No wockets," I said. "Let's read 'Oh, the Places You'll Go!"

Biscuit did eeny-meeny-miny-moe, and I won.

Biscuit has his bath, and we took care of his nighttime routine. Then he got dressed for bed.

We walked up to his room, and I tucked him. I went to his bookcase, but I couldn't find the book. It was getting late, so we finally settled on "I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!"

My favorite line from the book is, "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."

I gave Biscuit a kiss and wished him a good night.

Then he said, "Mom, if Dr. Seuss hadn't died, I would like to throw him a big party because he did a really nice thing by writing all those books." 

And I agree whole-heartedly.

After all, anyone who would say something like this quote deserves a celebration.

"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."