Monday, June 27, 2011

Primary Talks

I think there are many reasons why Heavenly Father's church includes opportunities for tiny children to stand up in front of their peers and give a prepared talk.  Primary is the training grounds for these littlest church members, a safe place for them to nurture their little testimonies.  Standing up and delivering a talk, just like the speakers in Sacrament meeting prepares them to take the next step, being a youth speaker in Sacrament meeting.  It also develops their self-confidence in standing in front of a group which can prepare them for a wide variety of leadership and teaching callings in the church.  But at the core of all these reasons is the reason I believe any of us are asked to speak in church: to increase our knowledge and testimony.

I am a big fan of memorization.  Yes, I know that to simply regurtitate memorized facts does not equate understanding a concept.  But I think it is a start.  Yes, it is better for our children to understand the messages in the Primary songs, but knowing their words can certainly be a foundation for concepts like faith, following the prophet, and reading the scriptures.

And so, my kids memorize their Primary talks.  I write them, but I really focus on using words they can understand so hopefully they are getting more than just a fight with mom out of the experience.  Because, let's face it, Primary talk = fight with mom. 

I remember oh so clearly the Saturday before talk-day with my mom's frustration coming out in statements like, "It's not that hard if you just pay attention." Or, "Can't you just hold still and focus on this so we can just. be. done."  And then my frustration would come out in the form of tears.  I vowed not to let that happen with my kids.  "I'll make sure their talks are written a week in advance, and we'll work on them little by little at bedtime so it is not a frustrating experience."  Yeah... I broke that vow.

Despite the fight and frustration, my kids are really good memorizers, and really confident little talk-givers, and I am always excited when they come home with the assignment.  I was a little less excited this month, though, when they were assigned talks 2 weeks apart and with the same topic: "How can the 4th Article of Faith help you return to your heavenly home?"

I racked my brain for a creative idea for Adam's talk, and I loved the pirate allegory I finally invented.  And I was so proud when his sweet little delivery moved a member of the primary presidency to tears.  How could I possibly write another talk on the same darn topic?  Somehow I managed, and I'm proud of Alex's "two homes" talk, which he will get to give again as part of the Primary Program in the fall.  Hopefully the next time the talk fairy comes our way, Adam will be ready to start writing his own.

Be sure to look at the eyes in these videos.  Each boy was recovering from a cold the day he gave his talk.  You can see it in their exhausted little eyes.  And I need to remember to stay outside the reach of the video camera.  You can see the left-over frustration in my eyes in Alex's video.



Thursday, June 23, 2011

How To Get The Part You Really Want

I'm apologizing right up front.  This is going to get long.  There's just a lot of back story and detail and... well, here goes.

Maybe I should start with that I love Into the Woods.  A lot of musical theater people do, but I loved Into the Woods long before I loved musicals at all.  I remember when we lived in Kearns (so I was younger than 11), a member of our ward lent us a VHS copy of the Broadway movie with Burnadette Peters.  We watched it with my parents once.  Mom made us fastforward through that part of the 2nd act.  I looked up words like "deleterious."  I watched the 1st act over and over and over again with my sisters almost every weekend.  I memorized the "greens song."  I marvelled at the witch's costume change at the end of the 1st act.  My parents started quoting the show in every day conversation.

Sidenote: Just yesterday, my sister closed on a house and got her broken car fixed.  When she told my dad, he said, with perfect ITW inflection, "You've the house and the car..."  (a "We've the cow and the cape" reference, if you didn't get it.)

I don't know how many times, when one of us was whining, my mom said, "The cow is gone... get it back... GET IT BACK!"  Or, when he'd done something a little insensitive, my dad resorted to, "I was raised to be charming, not sincere."  When something had gone wrong but there was really nothing anyone could do to make the situation better, "Worrying... will do you no good."

As fun as the jokes still are, my mom used the show to point out some really great principles.  I know one of her favorite songs is "Children Will Listen," and, as a school teacher and mother, she has always used her own example as a force for good.  And the overall theme, that it's your choices - not your wishes - which determine your destiny ("Some of us don't like the way you've been telling it...") is a lesson I intend to pass on to my own children.

Anyway... I love Into the Woods.  Once I started actually doing musicals, Into the Woods became a "dream show" for me with two "dream roles."

Someday, I want to play the Baker's Wife.  Her song about how the end justifies the beans has always always humored me, and let's face it... she gets to kiss a prince.  Someday, hopefully, I will get that chance. 

But right now, I want to play Little Red Riding Hood.  Self-centered, spunky, likes to eat, just barely thoughtful enough to not be completely annoying... yep, that's a role I can relate to.  And since she is one of the two "kids" in the show (generally played by youngish looking adults), I feel like my years to be able to play that role are coming to an end.

So when I heard Taylorsville Arts Council is putting on Into the Woods this summer, I sent Kirk a text.

Me: "So... Taylorsville is doing Into the Woods."
Kirk: "And..."
Me: "And I need you to tell me, 'No, you can't audition.  You've already done two shows this year.'"
Kirk: "But it's Into the Woods.  You know I'll support you if you choose to audition."

We decided I would audition, but that I would only do the show if they offered Little Red.

So audition, I did.  I was really sick, and it didn't go well.  But I made callbacks and was feeling better and ready to redeem myself.  And redeem myself, I did.  Callbacks went great (a long part of the story which I will spare you) but I resigned myself to the fact that I likely wouldn't get Little Red. 

And then I didn't get called at all.  Weird.

Whatever.  I guess I didn't make it.  I really didn't have time anyway...

Then Tuesday I got a call.  Apparently they fired the director on Friday, hired a new director on Monday, and needed to reaudition. 

I'm not sure why exactly, but I decided not to reaudition.  Maybe I just didn't want to deal with the letdown again.  I wasn't all that impressed by the first auditions, and I was kind of excited about having my nights in July free, and it just seemed ok to not audition.  I'd already tried, right?

So I told Kirk about the phonecall and about my decision, and he looked at me like I was crazy.  "But it's Into the Woods..." he said, as he proceeded to convince me to reaudition after all.  He had an answer for my every insecurity, and even Adam jumped on the bandwagon and lent his support to the idea of me going for it.

So yesterday, I got all dressed up, again.  I curled my hair and fretted about making sure I looked no older than 23 - tops, again.  I practiced my song, drove to the auditions, walked nervously up the stairs, again

And here's where the real story begins:

HOW TO GET THE PART YOU REALLY WANT
(even if you have to beg for it)

I had intended to show up at the start of auditions, be one of the first to sing, and leave.  But when I got there ten minutes later than I'd planned, the room was full of what appeared to be anxious auditioners.  I found out that apparently the audition accompanist wasn't there, so auditions hadn't even started.  Seeing an opportunity to offer my services (and maybe set myself apart a bit), I walked into the audition room, introduced myself, and asked if they'd like for me to play for the auditions.  Relieved, they accepted my offer.

I sat at the piano and played for the first auditioner.  At the risk of sounding conceited, I will tell you: I am an awesome audition accompanist.  I sight read ridiculously well, and I'm familiar with enough musical theater that it's pretty rare for someone to bring me something I've never heard.  Even when they do, (my favorite unknown of last night was "Lost in the Wilderness" from Children of Eden) I do just fine.  So, of course, my piano playing impressed the director and production staff.  In fact, it impressed the accompanist (who arrived as I was playing the first song) so much that he begged to not have to play after me, and I ended up playing for the remainder of auditions.

When the room had finally cleared and I was the only auditioner left, I looked to the accompanist and said, "So are you going to play for me?"  He shook his head no, explained that he didn't want to mess up my audition, and announced, "I think she should play for herself."

Normally this is a bad idea, but I had developed enough rapport with the director to know I could pull it off.  I turned the piano so she could see my face, stood while I played, and nailed my audition song.  ("My New Philosophy" from You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown)

The director looked at me and said, "I love you.  Just so you know, I'm going to cast you in this show.  I don't know as what, but I am going to cast you."

I smiled, took a deep breath, and responded, "Thank you so much.  But just so you know, if you offer me anything other than Little Red, I will turn you down."

Shocked, she answered, "But Little Red isn't even that great of a part.  Why that part?"

I explained all my reasons: I've always wanted to play Little Red, I'm 29 [insert shocked reactions here] and can only play Little Red for so much longer, I really don't have time to do a show right now and no other part or other play would be worth it.

She said, "I'm sorry, but you're just too skinny for Little Red.  I've always imagined Little Red as a cute, chunky little brat."

"I understand that, but Little Red doesn't have to be skinny!  Skinny girls eat, too!" I answered.

"I know," she said.  "I get that, but..."

"I can convince you," I said.

"Okay... convince me."

"Okay... give me the score."  And I grabbed the piano vocal score and accompanied myself on Little Red's solo, "I Know Things Now."  I put all sorts of character into it.  She stopped me after only one verse.

"Okay," she started.  "Now do it in cut time."

So I did it twice as fast.  More frenzied.  More confused.  Less pensive.  She let me finish all the way to the end.  She looked at me in a way that let me know she was so. close.

"I can skip!" I said.  She'd had some of the earlier auditioners skip.  Without waiting for permission, I stepped from around the piano, skipped across the room with all sorts of snotty little girl attitude, stopped, turned, gathered up all my snottiness again, and skipped back. 

Everyone else in the room looked at the director as if to say, "See... she can do this.  So what if she's skinny!"

The director responded with, "Well, she certainly does skip like a bitch."  (Apparently another quality she sees in Little Red.)

"Yes!" I said.  "I can definitely pull that off."

Pause.

"You play the piano really well."

"Thank you."

"If we do end up casting you, do you think you can kind of half-and-half it and help us out on piano some."

At this point, I'm practically on my knees with my hands clasped in front of me.  "If you give me Little Red, I will do anything you want."

"Okay.  You're Little Red."

Maybe it's a little weird to be excited about a part I begged for.  But I am.  If I hadn't begged, she'd still have cast me.  She loved me.  But I would have missed out on playing a dream role just because I'm skinny.

Best audition ever?  "Possible.  Very, very possible."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Full-Sized Person

On Friday night I got a text from my bishop's daughter, a piano student and babysitter of mine.  Her family owns four horses and had a ride planned for the next day, but they were one rider short.  She asked if I'd like to go.

Um... of course!


I thought it was a little weird that of all the possible people, I was the one who got the invite, but I decided not to over-analyze and just be grateful.

On Saturday, I found out why.  My bishop explained to me that the horse I'd be riding, a 25 year old Arabian named Sabelle, still has a lot of spirit, but she just "can't handle a full-sized person anymore."

So apparently, when his teenage daughter wasn't able to go on the ride, they thought of all the snack-sized people they knew, and my name was at the top of the list.

Self portrait of me and Sabelle


Whatever the reason, I'm glad I was able to go.  We left at 7 am, and since I was filling in for the daughter, I got to do all the work.  I opened and closed gate after gate after gate as we picked up the horse trailer and then 2 horses from the pasture and 2 horses from the barn.  I learned how to brush and bridle.  And finally we started off onto the mountain trails.

It was gorgeous!  All the beauty of a hike without the actual walking.  And then I realized that without the walking, there really was little to do.  Sabelle dutifully followed the tail of the horse in front of her.  I longed to gallop her, at least a bit.  Then I thought how nice it might be to read while I rode, realizing I'm really no good at holding still.

Our view for much of the morning: the tail of another horse


Finally, Sabelle got her wish of being the lead horse, and the whole experience changed.  Although we were still following the planned trail, there was nothing but views ahead of us, and any momentary boredom I may have experienced earlier subsided.  I still had that call for adventure - of wanting to go faster, or off the trail, or...

Out in front, enjoying uninhibited views


When the ride came to an end, I wasn't really ready to dismount.  The morning had been warm and still and peaceful in a way I'm not sure I've ever experienced.  And I knew I had all that gate opening and closing ahead of me as we put the horses away.  My bishop commented that now that I have all the gates figured out, I'll have to come riding again.  I laughed and said, "Plus I fit the horse," to which he commented that I now passed all the requirements.

Of course, now I seriously owe Kirk, since he got to spend the morning fighting with the boys about cleaning the basement...

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

New Reasoning Skills

It used to be that Adam was the one to try to reason his way around things.  Alex has generally preferred to just scream or hit or bat his eyelashes to get his way.  (Charming, right?)

Not so anymore.

After being told he couldn't have anymore garlic bread until he finished the manicotti on his plate, I saw him over at the pan of bread.

Alex: "I just can't stop myself from getting one of these.  I just can't."

Me: "Well, you'd better stop yourself until you've finished that food on your plate."

Alex: "Well, my 'bwain' is just making me do it."

Me: "Then your brain is going to end up in the corner."

Alex: "Well, then you'd have to take my 'bwain' out of my head, and you can't do that."

Me: "No, I'm pretty sure your whole self would just end up in the corner."

Round 1 - point to Mommy

But I'm pretty sure there are MANY more rounds to come.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Why I Love My Family

I could say I love singing with my family, and that would be completely true.  With both my sisters and their husbands in town this weekend, we're getting together to sing in my ward.  With the 6 original Casdorphs plus two brothers-in-law, we have a perfect double quartet.  Since getting everyone together is so rare, we decided to do a quick recording.  I'm not going to vouch for the recording quality or balance since it was just done with a small recording box with an internal mic.  But sitting in the middle of the group playing and singing soprano, I got to hear the voices all around me, and it was the best seat in the house.




But that's not why I love my family.

Midway through our hour long rehearsal session, my dad stopped us and said, "I'm sorry.  It's just... this verse would sound so great with a Cockney accent.  I just can't stop myself from doing it."  Curious, I took the bait and asked him to demonstrate.  My mom rolled her eyes at me as if to say, "Really, Andrea... you are encouraging this?"  And so I took it one step further and asked if we could try it just for fun.  Michelle really enjoyed it, too, so after we recorded the serious version, I just had to share the middle of the song, My Fair Lady style.



That's why I love my family.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Few Good Reasons to Come See "Joseph"

Okay, I get that it's probably the most overdone show in the valley, and you've probably already seen it a million times.  But this production of "Joseph" packs a bit more punch than your average show.

Susan DeMill, the director and choreographer, is seriously one of the most talented ladies I have ever met, and it shows in the high-energy dancing throughout.  I have never danced the way I've been required to dance for this show!

The costumes, reportedly created for Cougarettes by a woman who didn't understand the word "budget," are truly amazing.  I get to wear 7!  And we're not talking just dresses, here.  Arm bands, gloves, collars, hats, a wig... we're talking the works.

Musically, I've gotten to work with some incredibly talented people including a the 11 teenagers we cast to make up our "Go Go Girls" who handle some of the more complex female harmonies throughout the show.  And they are amazing!

The cast overall has a fun personality aided by the fact that there are 3 married couples, 1 bro/sis, 2 brothers, and TONS of lifelong friends.  For me this includes Chris Kennedy (who I've known since he was shorter than me) and my best friend from elementary, Rosie {Simmons} Skinner.

And - tickets are only $7 which is a great price for such a quality show.  Check out the fun pictures I've included below, and then buy your tickets at draperartscouncil.org.

Not sure why I look so confused, but here is my regular "wife" costume.

We call this one "Gangster"

Go Go Go Joseph!

My stress out moment of the night - "Pharaoh Story"
"Cowboy" (with my cute "husband" and AWESOME 1st tenor, Mike)
And missing from my pictures thus far are "Calypso" and "Megamix" - yes there are more!  I would love to see you and your families in the audience!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

For Posterity

I thought recently about this video I made once for a class at the University of Phoenix.  It isn't funny.  Or interesting.  But it was awesome for that class, and I dug it out the other day.  After watching it, I decided I'd put it up on the blog just in case I lose the DVD.  After all, it is possibly the only record of me pregnant with Adam since I didn't really take any pictures.

Like I said.  It's pretty boring.  But I didn't want to lose it.  So here it is.

Monday, June 6, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

I recently fell asleep a short way into The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but before my eyelids betrayed me, I appreciated Reepicheep's comment on his abundance of words.  I can't find the exact quote, so I'll just have to slaughter it through paraphrase.  "I'll stop talking when I run out of things to say."  (Really, it was so much more eloquent than that.)

Kirk would argue that I, however, often continue talking long past that point.  So today, I'll let several cute pictures of certain adorable redhead in my house speak mostly for themselves.

I love the "is this okay, mom?" eyes.

Mean old Uncle Jack flipped Dylan in the face with a rubber band.  Yeah.

"Big Bunny" has become Dylan's best friend

Acceptable Laundry

Eating treats provided by Bradley, Dylan's best friend at Joseph rehearsals.

No questioning or apologetic eyes, here.  This one is more of a "Hey, Mom!" look.

Patiently waiting for the rolls to cook.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

This Summer

This summer might be a little different than our last several.  Usually our free time is dedicated to "living in the dirt," but for a combination of reasons including gas prices and busy schedules, the camping bug has not really bitten me this year.

Instead, we are taking full advantage of our Salt Lake County Pass of all Passes, and despite the weather, have already been to Raging Waters twice.  The first day we tried out a few slides, but thanks to 60 degree weather mostly stayed in the heated wave pool.  Yesterday we explored a bit more of the park, spending time in the kids area and trying out a few more of the adventurous slides.  We packed our lunch (peanut butter and honey) and took a break to eat when the kids started to get whiny.

Each of the boys showed a preference for a certain activity yesterday.  Adam was determined to cross the rope.  Alex spent the day talking the ears off the lifeguards, a perfect audience since they aren't allowed to leave their posts.  Dylan avoided getting more than his toes wet.

I was perfectly content to hang with the kids or lay by the pool and read.  Dylan was perfectly content to provide me with a bit of shade.  Kirk didn't get to the slides too much yesterday but did at least test out the pink ones for us.

Kirk did talk me into trying a few of the more exciting slides before the season really gets into full swing and the lines get long.  The "Roller Coaster" was probably the best waterslide I've ever been on.



The only problem is that I don't quite weigh enough to make the slide work as designed.  They were actually gathering data yesterday trying to figure out the weight at which people were guaranteed to make it over the hump.  Apparently it is a weight higher than mine, because on each of my 3 times on the slide, I made it approximately 2 feet from the summit and had to claw my way to the top.

 Luckily there's a pretty awesome slide next to it which allows you to pretty much free-fall, so I can spend my summer getting my thrills on the green slide.  I won't be doing the yellow slide anymore.

The only thing missing from our fun-in-the-sun was some friends.  So if any of you are Pass of All Passes holders, let's go together... soon!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wolfpack Theory of Male Relationships

The first time I noticed a wolfpack was when I was 16.  I met Chris Vassel in acapella choir, and later when his friends Jason Staples and Nick Miller joined the choir (because they heard there were cute girls), I became lunch-table friends with them, too.  The fourth member, Topher Affleck, was known by all of the choir girls, considering he made Madrigals as a Sophomore. 

The thing about a wolfpack, though, is that it can be hard to spot within the walls of high school.  Sure, they probably have some classes together and sit at the same lunch table.  But with girlfriends and other friends milling around, the boundaries may be hard to spot.  But on a typical school day, when that final bell rings, the wolfpacks will head straight to their dens.

For that first wolfpack, the den was Nick Miller's game room.  While Topher played "Legend of Zelda" on the left-most TV screen, Jason watched Simpsons reruns on the center screen, and Nick and Chris would have some old-school game going on the Super Nintendo.  I found their tight-knit friendship interesting and felt, as I ended up dating Nick, that I was in reality dating them all.

I didn't realize until later that this 4 to 5 guy wolfpack is really a pretty common occurrence.  When I met Kirk, his childhood stories were full of tales of his own pack.  (Kirk, his brother Mark, Spencer, Joe, and James.)  During Oklahoma, I met some guys currently in high school and was quickly able to identify the members of their packs, and - being the mom of 3 potential wolfpack members - I started to really think about my theory.

Here's what I discovered.  Guys tend to make friendships of conveniece.  I think it goes basically like this: "Whose houses can I walk to from my house?"  And those four to five guys become best friends.  And then, because guys don't fight and hold grudges like girls do, there's never any reason for them to STOP being friends.  So unless they move, they are friends with the same guys from elementary through high school.

Not so for girls. 

Girls tend more towards a "best friend," and for many, that "best friend" changes every few years.  Girls choose their friends based on compatibility an interests, and - because of fights or just growing apart - choose new friends when necessary.

The only sad thing I've noticed is that, because the wolfpack is a friendship of convenience, it doesn't often last past high school. Sure, the friends keep in touch, but the bond doesn't seem to be as emotionally strong as that of a girl with her "best friend." Kirk's pack disbanded long ago, and the Nick/Topher/Chris/Jason pack - although still loosely bound - is definitely not the 4-for-the-price-of-1 group they once were.

The funniest thing for me is that I can already see Adam forming a bit of a wolfpack.  He may be too young for this to be the one that sticks, but I can easily see the kids he's friends with now being the groomsmen at his wedding.  It makes me grateful as a mom to live in a neighborhood full of active LDS families so the chances of Adam's wolfpack being a good influence are higher.

Kirk thinks Alex will be accepted as a member of Adam's pack.  I think he is kind of hoping for that since he and his brother were in the same pack.  I'm just hoping for our house to be the den, so I can keep a close eye on my little wolves.  Trust me, I'm taking notes from Nick's mom since she so successfully created an enviroment where the pack felt welcome. 

Video games - Check
Space where the boys can hang out - Check
Trampoline and basketball hoop (ideally right next to each other) - Someday...
Snacks - Yeah, I'm saving up