Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Practice for New York

Jacob is singing in New York!  He, along with high school students from several Florida schools are joining the Festival Singers of Florida on a trip to New York to sing !

So, on May 21, 2011, the group did a performance at the First United Methodist Church of Orlando; a little preview of what they will be performing, and a chance to see it, since we won't be attending.

Here are a few videos for your viewing pleasure.  The camera work on this first video (which is actually the last song of the night) is horrendous.  My apologies.  I was trying to get the words on the screens and end up blurring and moving  lot.   When the two sopranos do their solos, you can see Jacob smiling, about 4 rows behind them.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

A Jane Austen Education

I am a Jane Austen fan.  I am slightly obsessed with her books and movies based on the books, to which I get plenty of eye-rolls from the men in the house.  So stumbling upon William Deresiewicz's book on how Jane Austen changed his life was such a refreshing change!  A male perspective on Jane.  A positive male perspective!  I was shocked and pleasantly surprised.

Mr. Deresiewicz takes Austen's six books and briefly describes what each book taught him.  From the back cover (so it's not a spoiler!):

EMMA: Pay attention to everyday things.

PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: You aren't born perfect.

NORTHANGER ABBEY: Stay awake; don't take things for granted.

MANSFIELD PARK: Being entertained is not the same as being happy.

PERSUASION: Be honest with your friends.

SENSE AND SENSIBILITY:  Love is about growing up, not staying young.

The chapters aren't as simple as these one-line descriptions.  He expounds, he relates the lessons to his personal life and helps show how it can make yours a bit better.  It was the perfect book for me to read.  I have been recently lamenting the loss of manners, courtesy and politeness, only to discover, hey, not alone.  There are other people who want those things as well.  

Some of my favorite ideas:

On Friendship:  True friendship is not "about unconditional love and support."   "True friends do not shield you from your mistakes, they tell you about them: even at the risk of losing your friendship - which means, even at the risk of being unhappy themselves."   I would also add that this does NOT mean you can be mean about it.  I cannot abide people who will tell someone something mean and brutal and hide behind "I'm just being honest, if you don't like it, too bad," or "I'm sorry, but.." NO buts!  Help your friends, do not tear them down.  

On Being Good and Useful:   "Usefulness - seeing what people need and helping them to get it - is support and compassion.  Loving your friends and family is great, but what does it mean if you aren't actually willing to do anything for them when they really need you, put yourself out in any way? Love, I saw, is a verb, not just a noun - an effort, not just another precious feeling." A-MEN!

On Every Day, Every Small Detail Mattering:  "Pay attention to the thing we usually miss or don't accord enough esteem, in novels or in life. Those small, "trivial," everyday things, the things that happen hour by hour to the people in our lives: what your nephew said, what your friend heard, what your neighbor did.  That, she was telling us, is what the fabric of our years really consists of.  That is what life is really about."  In this hurry-hurry, that-post-is-so (literally)-1-day-ago-old, super information, low attention span world, this is truly refreshing for me to read.

On Growing Up:  It isn't about knowledge and education.  It's about making mistakes and LEARNING from them.  Growing from your experiences, learning to not make the mistakes, understanding the humiliations, these make you grown up.  

On Love:  There is no "love at first site."  You don't meet your soul-mate. It isn't this BOOM.  "Love isn't something that happens to you, suddenly or otherwise; it's something you have to prepare yourself for."  "Love at first site is a contradiction in terms." Lust at first site, yes. Love, no.   Love takes time. Love takes friendship.  Love is learning about the other person.  That person can't be exactly like you, because then where would you go, how will you grow more as a person and as a couple  if you're not learning from each other, over and over, even through fights and disagreements?  Love creeps up on you and all of a sudden, you're IN love. You didn't "fall," you were all of a sudden THERE.  And sadly, you have to also learn that sometimes, there are people that are just not capable of it; of loving.  

If you're a Jane Austen fan, I believe you too will enjoy this book about Mr. Deresiewicz journey through growing, living and loving, as seen through Jane's books.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Toy and New Music!

Hope everyone had a good Mother's Day. I for one had a fabulous one.  Mine started early.  On Friday, David took me with him to get my Mother's Day gift.

A digital video camera!  Yay!!

Our old video camera was purchased in 2004 right before Isabel was born. It recorded on to small tapes which could not be uploaded onto our computer at all (unless I wanted to convert them to VHS, then to DVD then upload.)

Every time Jacob had a performance, I would use my little point and shoot Fuji digital camera.  It could hold approximately 6 minutes of video on its teeny XD card.  LOL  Yea, it's an old camera too.  I would ask Jacob "Which two songs out of your whole show do you want me to record?"  The videos were poor quality and it got to be a pain to just pick two songs.

Not anymore!!

The reason I received my gift on Friday instead of Monday was because Jacob's choral department had their end-of-the-year concert, the Pops Concert, that day.  David wanted me to have it to record as many songs as I liked.

EDIT:  Most of the videos play better is you select a higher definition on them.  They state 360p in the bottom right of each screen, but if you move that up to 720p they actually load faster.

Here are some of my favorites.  The one below is a video of the mens acapella group Jacob is in, Teal Sound.

This next one is another group Jacob is in called Encore (they got Superior at State competitions!)  Kind of an elite choir you have to try out for.   There are two songs here, which is why the video is longer.  "Requiem" is a beautiful song of hope in sad times (gives me goose bumps).  "Il Est Bel et Bon" is a quick cute French song about two women hanging around, gossiping about one of their husbands, who is good and sweet and does not beat her.  And he tends the chickens (hence the chicken-like sounds at 5:02.)

This next video is of another group Jacob is in (he's in 5 choirs ya'll!) called the Concert Choir.  This song got them Superior at State.  Superior!  Love it!

I know, I know.  Lots of videos.  There are several more.

This one does not include Jacob but I loved it and want to share.  It's by the Advanced Women's Choir and is called "Hotaru Kai" (Hello Firefly.)  Watch how cool it is, but pay close attention to the way they sing it.  The echo-like effect floors me with how fantastic it is.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Baby, Oh Baby!

My younger sister is having a baby.

Miss "Never EVER Never EVER" is having a baby girl!!

I made her cake for Shower # 1 (of course I made the cake.)  

Ta Da!  

This below is my Diva-Sister, Vicky.

Gorgeous, I know.   
We drove down to Jupiter for her baby shower, hosted by her sister-in-law and mother-in-law.  It was a nice time, especially since we didn't have to play silly shower games!  Yay!  Vicky HATES baby showers and baby shower games.  :)  Here are some pictures of the party.  

The happy daddy-to-be Damian, with our step-mom Nellie and sister Lissette.

Vicky, Lissette and I.  I being the normal one. 

Sisters.  Brenda, Vicky, Lissette and me.  Just missing Jany. 

Time for cake!
We can't wait to meet baby Ava in July!