Saturday, June 30, 2012

4-Year Old Theology

This actually does not come from my kids, but from an old printed sheet my mom found today that was from my brother Geoff's Sunday School class in 1988.  I'm typing verbatim.

Geoff:  Jesus' mother was Mary and Joseph was his daddy. They lived in Nazareth in heaven.
Grant: His daddy could build a house and Jesus could help his mom do things, just like I do.
Brad: My daddy doesn't build houses.
Aleck:  I help my mom make blueberry muffins and we eat them all.  Uh huh.
Katie: I help mama make cupcakes. We put M&Ms on top. I guess Jesus didn't have M&Ms in heaven.
Aleck:  We get ours at 7-11.
Beth Anne:  Jesus is helping his dad. He was three and he picked up wood to make boxes.
Geoff: I help dad build towers outside.
Beth Anne: My daddy doesn't build anything.
Geoff: My dad makes things with his hammer and his five nails in the garage.
Brad: Jesus is good.
Katie: Jesus is kind.  Cuz he is.
Beth Anne: Jesus is nice.
Grant: Jesus is happy.
Aleck: I don't know about how he was.
Geoff: Yes, he loves me.
Grant: Yes!

Aleck is my favorite theologian, and my brother Geoff is a very close second.  I want to know what kind of tower he and my dad were building with their five nails...

The Ents Are Angry

Rob and I did a little lawn manicuring yesterday.  By that, I mean that we got rid of some dying trees and replaced them with some trees from Rob's brother's new house that were going to be bulldozed.  While I'd intended to snag their giant boxwoods, they were too giant for Rob to dig up with our tools.  Fancy that!  And then we couldn't figure out where they should go.  So we ended up with a bunch of crepe myrtles (that had been growing wild into a crepe bush) and some agapanthus.  This is the worst time of year to transplant, so we did our best to flood them and are talking to them very lovingly.  We'll see.  I'll take a new yard photo soon--if they live.  We were sad to dig up our two loquat trees, but they were looking really horrible and have been basically dying slowly for two years.  Poor babies.  Don't hate us, Ents!
 See all the limbs with no leaves? This actually makes it look healthier than it was.

 Trees don't need to be upright to be climbed.

 A preview of the new tree taking up the big blank spot on our house.


 If you are part of Rob's youth group, you might be forced into manual labor.




Just another normal day of tree carrying.  You know.

Friday, June 29, 2012

One Pink Eye



In what can only be described as an utterly macabre flashback to  few years ago when my eyes went insane with an infection, my sickness has moved from my lungs to my eye.  Actually, it stayed in my lungs and throat and nose and just sent a nasty cousin up to my eyeball.  Just one.  For now.

Both boys had a morning or two with a crusty eye this week, but nothing itchy or pink or goopy through the day--just a little more sleep than usually.  Guess it was pinkeye?  Or some other thing, related somehow to their mild virus that must have become a doozy just to me and my mom. They both had a cough that lasted like one day almost 2 weeks ago.  What gives?  I feel really bad for taking them to the gym and sending them to school and everywhere, because they really seemed fine.  (Super sorry for anyone reading who happened to get infected with something!)

My dad has something with his eyes, too, but they're already better.  Mine is disgusting.  When I get eye things, I GET EYE THINGS.  Click HERE for refresher.

So now I have: a sore throat, cough, asthma, stuffy nose, and a disgusting eyeball.  I'm taking like 8 different medicines that the doctor at Walgreens better have been right about prescribing together.  Sheesh.  Shouldn't I be getting better, though, not worse?

This is really going to put a damper on my girl's day/night with Shank we planned like 3 months ago for tomorrow.  People tend to stare at me in public.  It's noticeable.  I just try to wash my hands a lot and not make eye contact.  I feel a little like Lucille Bluth (aka Gangy) winking.


[I'm having a little issue with the gif below posting--hopefully it's working now.]


I originally thought that my infected eye was not the one I normally do my crazy eye with, but I was wrong.  It is!  Which made this photo harder to take.  But I had to.  This is becoming my trademark.  It's my Gangy.


Aren't you glad I'm not afraid to take really terrible photos of myself and post them online? Doesn't it just make you feel a tiny bit better?  I'm glad!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I Made a Meme

Inspired by Shank's Facebook status, which talks about her annoyance at the persistence of Willy Wonka memes and other such posts on Facebook about healthcare or other political issues, I made my own meme.  Did you know that there is a generator for this?  Yup. I kinda love mine.

The Great Hair Non-Washing Experiment

My boys have great hair.  It's lovely and soft and maybe a bit crazy with their cowlicks in front.  My hair is insane, especially in summer, when it mostly resides in a ponytail.  Half-curly but not curly enough, it's frizzy and wild and weird and gets messier in the summer so that I look like some unkempt child who has been running amuck in the woods for days. Hence the ponytail.  I've tried products but really the only thing that makes a difference in my chi.  During the summer, heat styling kills me.  For real, I wish I could do dreadlocks for the season.  Low maintenance!  But I don't want to have to shave my head at the end.  So I decided to try something else.

I'm not washing my hair.

This is similar to the time I didn't shave for nine months (ew) or was a vegetarian for almost a year (yum) or didn't wear jeans for a full year because I was mad at them and how they didn't fit me this one time in a dressing room where I had a bit of a breakdown (tantrum).

I've been slowly incorporating more natural things into my life and our household (more posts to follow!) ever since I watched The Story of Stuff and thought about all the various not-great things that are in small amounts in all our "products" that add up and maybe become large amounts of not-great stuff in and on our bodies.  From shampoo to foods to cleaners.  I say slowly because I generally hate trendy things, or doing things just because it's a trend.  I will often do the opposite just to be ornery.  Or to keep life interesting.

The thing is, while there are a million dumb "organic" or "green" products out there, just slapped with that label to sell, there is a reality behind the actual movement.  We have tons of chemicals and additives and all kinds of mystery ingredients in our every day everything.  Simple is better.  Makes sense, right?

I mentioned my boys' hair at the beginning of this post for a reason. I washed their hair last week because they somehow both got food all in it.  Before that?  I can't remember when I washed it.  Maybe a month before?  Maybe longer?

I'm sure you're thinking that it's gross.  I would think that too!  Except that they both have fantastic, soft, amazing, non-greasy hair!  For real.  It got me thinking--what if I tried not washing mine?

The problem is that if you haven't washed your hair in a day or two it's greasy.  Probably because it's used to being washed. I keep thinking of the show Survivor, and those women going bananas on an obstacle course so they can win some shampoo.  I washed my hair Saturday morning, and since then, I've only used baking soda on it, which I had heard a while ago was great for softening your hair.  The weird thing? My hair was greasier yesterday than it is today.  So I think it's working.  Maybe.

Who knows.  This could be a fad. I may wash my hair tomorrow.  This is not a sit-in and I haven't signed a contract to uphold this.  I just want to see what will happen.

Has anyone else ever tried this?  And non-hair-washers or alternative-hair-washers out there?  I'd love to hear from you!  Also, it's okay if you want to tell me you think I'm gross.  I'll politely disagree.

One Fish, Two Fish

Mimi was gone for a week but returned for a swim lesson yesterday with the boys. I tried to get them in the water as much as possible while they were gone (as did my parents) so hoped they wouldn't have taken any steps back.  I needn't have worried.  In fact, I kind of wish they WOULD take a step back because they are a little bit overboard.  Kind of like the movie with Kurt Russell, but with a little less Goldie Hawn.
 Lincoln and Lynn diving to the bottom of the big pool (4ft) to get golden rocks.

 You can see it in his fist: golden rock!  This is the kid who cried putting his face in the water three weeks ago.

Sawyer swimming with a squirt gun. Later that proved to be his downfall when he couldn't get to the side or hold himself up because he was too focused on rescuing it.  We made him sit out and a no-squirt-gun-while-swimming rule.

Finally relaxing for the back float.  This is always a tough one!

 But jumping in is always fun!

 Working on kicks with his face in the water.

 Sawyer has graduated to being able to swim from our steps across the pool to the step by the hot tub.  Sometimes he kicks off and just floats.

The funniest part about Lincoln swimming is that he often looks like a dead baby.  Here's what he does:  puts his face in the water, arms out in front, kicks off, and drifts toward you without moving a muscle.  So it's kind of like there's this non-moving toddler face-down in the water moving slowly toward you.  It's creepy!  He is starting to kick more now and beginning to use his arms--thankfully.

This whole having a pool thing? I'm not really glad our house hasn't sold yet. :)


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Terrible Twos: Sleeping Edition

As I may have mentioned, Lincoln's terrible two-ness is not so bad as Sawyer's was.  Or, at least, it takes different forms.

A short note about the terrible twos before I go on. I've heard a lot of people try to change this name to something like terrific twos, or argue that in other cultures, they don't have terrible twos and it's because we spoil our kids.  In short, that's lovely, but I disagree.  Not that I have done extensive field research into other cultures or anything, but from my experience in a house where we love but don't spoil or coddle our kids, there is still something that is developmentally happening around age two that brings kids to a place where they start feeling more independent and start acting out on their will.  ALL kids have a will, whether they are in our country or not.  This may look different in other places.  Every moment of year two (or three) is not terrible.  But there are moments of sheer terror or maybe frustration as your adult will as a parent comes in direct contact with the whirling dervish of the two year old will.  The end.  (Also: that wasn't short.)

Lincoln has always been our great sleeper.  In the hospital our first weekend, nurses fussed at me for not waking him up enough to eat.  (Despite the fact I sent him to the nursery after a first terrible rooming-in night and told them to bring him every two hours without fail for feeding.  So, really I should have reamed THEM out.)  Soon after, I would hear him stir at night, try to feed him, only to have him push me off.  He wanted SLEEP.  For two years almost, he slept from 6pm to 7am.  13 hours. Every. Night.  To put him down was something like this:  put him in crib.  Pray.  Leave.  The end.

I knew that I was lucky because I have Sawyer.  He is like me: a terrible sleeper.  Ridiculous. I've been thankful and been very aware and glad for every night that he went to bed with ease.

But it still makes it hard to grasp when his easy sleep routine has gone by the wayside.  It's like his terrible twos are zeroing in just on the sleeping.  Every way he can fight it, he does.  He's exhausted and cranky and doesn't seem to get that it's because he's fighting sleep at every turn.  School, home, nap, night.  It's all a battle.

Sigh.  Now I need a nap.  I think I'm headed to bed.

Photo of the Day

Houston, we have a jumper.  Make that TWO jumpers.  Yup, that's Lincoln.

Forget Pooping on the Patio--Celebrate the Small Victories

This is Lincoln's face just following his poop right on the patio.  He had been playing
basketball (which followed haircut and swimming) and suddenly just popped a squat right in the middle of the patio without time for me to prepare.  I'll spare you the photo of his poop.  (Yes, I took a photo.)

He didn't seem done, so we ran inside, and after much arguing and promises of a toy car, I got him to sit on the toilet and finish off up there.  Yay, Lincoln!!  I'm choosing to celebrate the small (literally, it was small) victories and forget the big (literal) mistake outside.  We called Daddy to brag and now he has a new blue car for his big boy action.

Always look on the bright side, right?  Or...you could say, just forget the poop on the patio.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Still Hot!

Literally and, maybe, figuratively.

I hit the Take Care Clinic at Walgreens to get a strep test this afternoon. If you've never used one before, they are pretty convenient (though I do start to buy too many things in Walgreens while waiting) and fast and cheap-ish.  At least, my co-pay is cheap. I'm sure we'll get some bill later on.  In any case, I failed the strep test.  Meaning: not strep.

My ears, though, looked slightly irritated and there is a lot of drainage going on in the back of my throat.  She used the word drainage a LOT.  It is a disgusting word.  I feel disgusting, so it's probably apt.  She sent me out with a whole array of drug prescriptions and I was off to Kroger to pick them up.

While in Kroger, I shopped clearance tables (and got an enormous bounty of organic stuff for only $30) and then wandered around in produce.  A man motored by me in one of those carts for the disabled, though he didn't look disabled.  He stopped in front of me and said, in a lovely Jamaican accent, "Excuse me.  I'm looking for a date."  Then he gestured to his cart and said, "And I have a ride."

I DID look hot...but only because I still have a fever.  I told him I had a virus, laughed and tried to walk away.  He motored behind me and said, "That's okay--I have the cure."  I walked a bit faster and then he started talking louder until I finally turned back around, expecting another pick-me-up.  But no:  he really DID have the cure.  Apparently, if I drink a glass of water with the juice of one lemon and a teaspoon of cayenne, I will be cured of anything by morning.

I have taken my steroid ear drops, the nasal spray, and used my inhaler, but now am sipping the lemon/water/cayenne--which I made with 1/8 a teaspoon of cayenne. This dude must be insane because any more cayenne than this in one glass of water might kill someone.
Here is my mess of drugs.  Some kind of decongestant, throat spray, inhaler for asthma, advil for swelling and fever, ear drops, nose drops, and the good old lemon and cayenne.

It's good to know that even on a day when I feel and look terrible, men in motorized carts find me irresistible.

Sick Day = Vacation Day

As I mentioned in a post yesterday, I am suddenly sick.  You should follow me on Twitter so you can see the gross photo of my tonsils and the pus (or something) that's on them.  I've had a fever of 101 (which is high since my normal is 97 something) and can hardly swallow.  If you know skater Singapore Rogue from Houston Roller Derby, that's who I sound like now.

The bad side of being sick is, well, being sick.  The plus side?  When you have people to help you, it's like a vacation day!  (Except where you feel pretty terrible.)

Rob has been home and my dad has been around and I've had offers from my mom and Rob's mom to help, so the boys have been carted around and put to bed and fed by other people while I either lie in a coma in my favorite room on the couch, or watch really terrible TV by myself.  I didn't have to get up with the boys.  I didn't make lunches.  Rob brought popsicles to me, on demand, on the couch.  He washed all the dishes!  My dad took the boys to school (which is normal) AND picked them up, with a quick stop to see the peacocks (who had babies!!) and for some Baskin Robbins.

There is a little part of me that enjoys this.  Except when I swallow or try to talk or when my fever goes back up so that my eyeballs burn.

When you are a sick mom and you have help, it's a nice time for rest.  When you are a sick mom without help (which has happened to me a lot as well), it's really, terrifically awful.  So, thank you to the team of people bringing me soup and popsicles so I can watch The Vampire Diaries. I will repay you in meatballs.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sharing the Bed: Boy Edition

Lincoln lately has been going through a lot of changes.  He was always our good sleeper (can you guess where I'm going with this?) and now often fights bedtime like crazy.  He also has been getting up an hour early (at 6am) for a few months, which makes me want to die.  This week, he started trying to sleep in bed with us.  He'll come in our room somewhere between 12-4 and say, "Sleep in Mommy's bed."  Since we kind of embrace this a lot of times, knowing our kids will soon outgrow this and be too-cool teens, we generally let them. This week while Rob was gone, I had Tex, Saw and Linc in there.

It was crowded but okay...until Lincoln started talking and talking.

One night at 3am, Linc started talking:  "Hi, Mommy. I'm in your bed.  Hi, Tex.  Daddy's gone. Daddy's on trip.  Hi, Sawyer.  It's dark."  I finally had to drag him back to his crib where he fell asleep mightily.  Until 6am.

Tonight, while I was sick (guess what? I'm sick!), Rob put the boys to bed and Linc was going bananas, crying and climbing out of his crib.  So we decided to try something we tried a few months ago:  letting them sleep together.  There was a lot of laughter for about an hour, but they finally went to bed.  Maybe this will solve the problem that they both now want a warm body next to them?  Maybe not.  But it sure is cute.


 First we tried Daddy reading via Bunny.


 Then we buried Linc in his stuffed animals, which he loves.

 Clearly.

Finally, we have this.  So cute!  We'll see how long it will last.

Cupcake Face

The boys got a special treat today, which looks remarkably close to the colors of the paint they used.  But this is icing.  I promise we didn't eat paint.




You Say Potato, I Say STAMP

This afternoon, in a wild fit of disillusion, I decided to try potato stamping with the boys.  I have not done this since I was a kid, probably somewhere like VBS or home or something.  I don't remember the specifics but figured I'd cut shapes in half potatoes and let the boys go to town.

I always underestimate cleanup, at which point I became ridiculously frustrated, mostly because I'm running a fever now and feel crummy.  Cute photos.  Memories...so-so as long as they don't remember the frustrated Mommy Monster at the end.



Is That What I Think It Is? If You Thought It Was Green Poop, Then Yes.

This is not how I want to start my week.  At least I didn't step in it?

So, Sawyer had to go to the bathroom.  He came to tell me (first mistake) then took off his underwear on the way (second mistake) which left a trail of green poop from the living room (not pictured) through our hallway of NEW CARPET to the toilet.  We'll see if the stains come off.  You don't want to see the bathroom and how it somehow ended up everywhere.

What did this child EAT?!?!  Happy Monday.

Baton Rouge Means Red Stick

This weekend I traveled with the Knockouts, Houston Roller Derby's B-Travel Team, to Baton Rouge, where we played Red Stick Roller Derby.  If you didn't know French, or knew it but didn't connect it like me, then you may not have known that Red Stick is what Baton Rouge means in French.  Life lessons!

I wasn't sure at all last week that the trip would work.  With Rob gone and his parents gone and my mom getting sick and a bunch of other things, I did not know for sure if this was the best idea, or even possible.  I'm really glad that it worked, because I needed some time away after a week with the kids and withOUT Rob.  A great derby game and time with fun girls was so relaxing!  Thanks to my parents and to Kelly for hanging out with my kids!

Because I was driving, we had to stop at Exit 64 in Jennings, Louisiana to hold baby gators.  Clearly, I was not the only one excited about this.
Here are Bustin Beaver and SyRenge with two little guys.

 Bonding with Bustin.

 Little gator love.

Some photos from the dressing room.  Bloody Hell, our British import, getting ready.  She was our MVP!

 In case of emergency, you really can call Ren, who is a nurse.

Our super classy awards:  mini bottles of win that were 50 cents in the clearance section at Kroger.  I won the award for Strategery, which is a smart game play award.  Yay!  We won 227 to 83.  It was a hard-fought and smart game with Red Stick, who beat us the year before.  Hopefully we'll have another great match-up next season!

I felt like this was one of my better games this season.  I did a lot of knocking down and out, and had a successful leg-sweep of the jammer (a favorite move of mine that Goldie Bloxx and Cynder HellYeah are pros at).  I also made mistakes and missed jammers and didn't pay attention to things and generally still have loads to improve.  But I'm always glad to feel like my good outweighed the bad in a game.  As a whole, our team played well together and accomplished our goals.  A great weekend all around!

As a final happy ending we got waffles at our continental breakfast.  Waffles!  My favorite.

I'm super glad to be home with the boys and with Rob, who got home from Belize Saturday night.  Finally reunited!  At least for a week... Oh, summers.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Ships Passing in the...You Get the Idea

Tomorrow morning I leave for Baton Rouge and a roller derby bout.  Tomorrow night, Rob comes home from Belize and a mission trip.

Dang that planning!  We have a google calendar and everything.  Still, that will make Sunday night's return home more amazing. I envision a slow motion running sequence with a John Williams score in the background.  The sun will just be going down, leaving that beautiful summer light to show my hair, blowing in the breeze...

But it will actually look more like us trying to hug while small children are scaling our bodies and wiping their drool on our pants.  Mosquitos.  Humidity.  Background music:  someone crying.  Or singing.  Or Wallace and Gromit on the television. My hair will be hotel-washed, not styled, and I will smell faintly of wrist guards.

That, my friends, is reality.

In any case, light posting this weekend as I won't have a computer.  You know what I will have? My phone.  With Twitter, Instagram (user: Kikimojo), and...yeah, those two.  If you're not already following me, you should consider it a moral imperative.

I've already instructed Feisty to take photos if I get arrested.  Why would I get arrested? I wouldn't. But I feel one should always be prepared, even for the unexpected.  Oh!  And there WILL be baby alligators.  Because I am driving, and I always brake for baby gators.

Lay 'Em Out

I've made a few layout changes.  Let me know if they are:

1. super annoying!
2. terrifically amazing!

If you don't mind either way, then just keep reading.  I'm always trying to clean up my sidebars, but I'm a sort of html doofus, so it generally means a lot of farting around and fairly minor tweaks.  I think I like having the thin things on one side and the wider on the other.

My Little Yes Man

An era has ended.   And I don't even think I captured it on video.

Lincoln's favorite phrase for some time now has been an affirmative and cheery "uh huh."  He could say yes, but preferred uh huh.  There were different intonations and ways of using it, but it was generally always full of pep and passion.  Mostly it was uh HUH!  It was a Lincoln-ism.  It was adorable.

It WAS.

Because as of this week, Lincoln is now a yes man.  His yes is still very cute:  it's more like yesssssss.  Still peppy, still passionate.  But I'm really, weirdly sad to say goodbye to uh huh.

Yes, saying yes is more polite and more grown up.  But his uh huh's were HIS.  They were a trademark.  This is one tiny little reminder of my boys growing up.  Every moment, they are developing.  When you are right there with them, you don't always see things, or you only see the big leaps or milestones, like the first word or step or solid food.  When they are a little older, the huge milestones are replaced by more subtle ones, like the movement from uh huh to yes.

I don't want to stop it, or even slow it down.  I just don't want to miss all these special little moments as they fly by, hour to hour, week to week, year to year.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Difference a Summer Makes

Today I did something that would have been brave last summer.  No--it would have been impossible.  I took both boys to Monkey Joes, one of those inflatable places.

I took them ALONE.

Gasp!  Did you gasp?  Probably that may not sound weird to you guys.  You moms with like 3-20 kids are laughing in a loud way, maybe even snorting.  But for me, it's true that this would not have been something I did or tried to do.  I would have violently opposed the very idea last summer. I might have fought to the death to avoid it.

Why?  And what changed?

The reality when your kids are only two years (or less) apart in age is that it takes a while for them to kind of be going the same speeds.  And in the time when they are going at different speeds (and I mean developmentally as well as just the actual speed of motion), it is really insanely difficult to do certain things with them.  I think that for each set of kids this is different.

In our case, I have two boys.  Sawyer began running out of the womb.  Not really, because that would have been alarming and really gross actually, but he began walking at nine and a half months and running at ten months.  I mean RUNNING.  Not just the wobbly run of a toddler.  He very quickly mastered the art of being a speed demon and stopped walking anywhere.  It was all running full speed all of the time.  Hence the fact that we got a leash for him when I was very pregnant and just after.  I literally could not always keep up in crowds while towing a giant belly and then after that, a baby.

Lincoln was slower, but as soon as he got a little better at walking, began to run because his brother was running.  Only he usually ran in a different direction at a different speed.  It was like one of those math problems where you have one child A running at 5mph going west and child B running at 4.3mph headed east.  If a mom tries to catch both boys, how fast must she run?  Wait--the more important question is which direction does she go in first??  This math problem doesn't work out. Algebra would not solve this equation.  Leashes and things like strollers with straps and not going to public places alone that didn't have gates and fences--THAT solved my equation.

So last summer I struggled in what I could do alone. The pool at our gym was so tough.  I saw a mom at our pool the other day with kids that were the age of my boys last summer. The younger was crying and clinging to her leg and kept falling over in the pool.  The other was running outside the pool being yelled at by lifeguards and alternately trying to swim where the water was over his head.  Before I left, I  said to her: "Looks like our kids are about the same distance apart.  Next summer, you will LOVE this."  I said this while sitting on the edge of the pool tanning while my boys splashed contentedly in the water.

One summer changes a LOT.

The boys were amazing at Monkey Joes.  Generally they stayed together and even when they didn't, I felt okay telling Sawyer to meet us back wherever I was with Linc, or if he lost us, to go up front and tell someone with a name tag.  He came back every time.  We had a blast and they were dead tired after an hour and a half.  Me? I felt refreshed.

If you have little ones and they are close together, running in opposite directions--it gets better.  Hang in there. Enjoy the moment, all the while knowing that next summer, it will be easier.

Queen Extravaganza Indeed!


Last night I had the privilege of heading out to see The Queen Extravaganza at the House of Blues here in Houston.  Some months ago I posted links for the contest that Roger Taylor put together.  Our friend Marc Martel from the band Downhere posted a phenomenal video--one so good that the comments on YouTube suggested that it was fake.  (You can see videos of his singing HERE and HERE.)  Long story short, he won the vocalist position, along with a rather lovely girl named Jenn and a full band to fill the stage.

I wasn't sure what to expect.  I really like Queen, but am not familiar with all of their music.  My expectation was that it would be sort of like a Queen cover band, one with a vocalist that sounded alarmingly like Freddie Mercury.

At first, I was confused and disappointed.  There were two other male vocalists, who were clearly talented, but not Marc and sounded nothing like Freddie Mercury.  There were actually other people nearby in the crowd saying things like, "Where's Marc Martel?"  Clearly, fame preceded him.  When Marc did finally take the stage, there was a noticeable difference in the crowd--a direct correlation to his seriously amazing vocal prowess.  Though the songs are challenging and complex to sing, Marc's performance felt effortless and was not simply someone trying to sound like Freddie Mercury--it was someone who naturally sounds like him doing an amazing job singing his songs.

As for the musicians, the band they put together was phenomenal.  They were truly talented, worked really well together and did Queen justice.  I think that it makes a difference that this whole thing was put together by Roger Taylor, Queen's drummer.  I was seriously impressed.

But the first quarter of the show I was not fully sold.  As I mentioned, there were two other male vocalists, which threw me, and despite their solid skills, the musicians seemed to have movement on the stage that was too choreographed.  When the guitarists faced each other and played, it seemed forced.  When the singers would cross over and stand with the keyboardist, it felt stilted. It seemed like the band, though great in talent, was lacking in natural chemistry.

After about the fifth song, Marc talked for a few moments about the vision for the band.  Clearly, he said, there were not just four guys up on stage imitating Queen.  What drove the band instead was the desire to represent Queen as fully as possible, both in terms of their live shows and their innovations in the studio.  They had an amazing range of talent, and to put forth some of the Queen trademarks, like harmonizing guitars, this took more than four people. The ensemble band was trying to be a representation and a tribute more than an imitation, or just another cover band.

That made so much sense, and it felt like from that point on, the musicians and singers became more cohesive as. Things felt less forced, though clearly planned, and the chemistry gelled a little better.  When I stopped being disappointed that it wasn't just Marc singing, the other guys sounded better as well. They were definitely great vocalists and each added their own flair.  (In one case, some seriously great 80s style rock hair.)

The audience, made up of the vast cross-section you would expect from Queen fans, bought it hook, line, and sinker.  You could tell there were some really serious Queen junkies present--people who knew every song and had seen them back in the day.  From these to the people like me that are probably most familiar with the big hits, everyone was engaged.  People were screaming and clapping and standing and fully into the performance.  I think that's a true testament to the music, but even more to the production and the talent of the group themselves.  People who are die-hard fans can be total sticklers and really hate on a bad performance of their favorite band's music.  It's like sacrilege.  There was none of that last night.

I have to also say a word about Jennifer Espinoza, the female vocalist.  When I saw that a girl would be singing as well, I was confused.   Why a girl?  I liked her audition videos, but still.  It didn't make sense to me.  Until I heard her sing.  The point of the show was not just to sound like Queen, and clearly she sounded nothing like Freddie Mercury.  But the passion and the power of her voice gave life to his songs and really was a fitting and pretty amazing tribute to the vocals.  I was sold.  She is definitely one I will watch out for after this whole thing is over.

Marc had given me backstage passes, so my derby friend Little Hurtmaid (aka Erin) went with me.  We both felt kind of like this.
 It was definitely worth the wait to see Marc and get to chat a bit about the show and life on tour and also snarkily laugh about all the people backstage who kept singing loudly, as though they might be discovered by the real singers.  (Okay, that was MY snarky comment.  I can be kind of a jerk sometimes.  But you know what I mean, right? You've heard those people before who sing all the time to get discovered, right??)

Rob and I have known Marc through his band Downhere for something crazy like 12 years.  You may remember the post where my A/C caught on fire while they were staying with us, and when the firemen arrived, I had a hard time explaining that none of the four strapping gentlemen in my house was actually my husband, who happened to be at work.  Good times. :)

Keeping to Kiki form, we took ridiculous photos.
 VERY EXCITED!  I'm confused as to why my hair is stabbing my eye. And also why we both sort of ducked down to become troll-like for the photo.  Trolls get excited, clearly.

 Very serious.

Here I am the morning after.  I'm up late all the time anyway, but I came home to children clambering to get in my bed and was awoken at 6am.  This is a little how I'm looking today.   In case you're wondering, I worked really hard to train my eye to be able to do this.  I'm pretty proud of this talent. It's about all I've got.

If you have a chance to catch The Queen Extravaganza before the tour ends, DO IT.  If you are smart, follow the careers of these people--they are fabulous.  You can find out more about the musicians HERE.  Thanks again to Marc for the passes!

Attitude in the Morning

I mean a spunky attitude, thankfully, though this was a long morning with the boys.  Lots of arguing and destroying one another's block castles today.  Here are the boys showing off their spunk. Er--spike. My camera lens fogged up as soon as we got outside, hence the haze.



I love Lincoln in this last one:  "Yup.  I'm sticking my tongue out. Just making sure."


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