Monday, October 31, 2011

Oh The Weather Outside Is Frightful...

And NOT because it's Halloween!

We got a few inches of heavy/wet snow on Saturday. I can't say I was ready to give up on autumn (my favorite season) but having some Sinatra on the radio while the snow was coming down in big, fluffy flakes was kind of nice. What wasn't nice was the plethora of tree branches and whole trees were down all over town and some must have fallen on power lines as there was widespread outages. Our power went out on Saturday around 2:30. So we spent the rest of Saturday playing inside, watching the snow fall (Henry liked this) and just hanging out without power. Once night fell we lit a bunch of candles and built a fire in the fireplace. It's amazing how little light you really need to function around the house. I felt like we were in an episode of Frontier House. It was inconvenient, yes, but kind of nice to have a simple evening at home.

Henry started out in his own room overnight for sleep dressed in double layers but we ended up taking him into bed with us halfway through the night when he woke up. Turns out he is a BIG bed hog! I know it's hard to imagine such a little guy taking up so much room but I spent most of the night on the edge of the bed.

The power was still out Sunday morning when we got up and the house was around 57 degrees so we packed up and headed to MomMom and PopPop's house. They live about ten minutes away and had power. So we've been crashing with them ever since as power has not yet been restored to the house in Ridgewood. (They are blog-readers so THANKS MomMom and PopPop!)

Both Ellen and Karen didn't have school today thanks to the outages. Eddie still had work so we took Henry in his costume to say hello and spread some cheer. Since power is still out in some neighborhoods trick-or-treating will be a little odd this year in the area. We'll take Henry to a few houses around MomMom and PopPop's just for the photos and so we can say we did it.

I don't have my camera cable here so I will have to post photos a little bit later in the week once we have power back and/or I remember to pick the cord up when we go back to the house.

That's all for now.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

This Side of 30.

Well, I'm officially 30....weird. I really didn't have any anxiety about turning over a new decade and still don't have any real issue. It just sounds weird.

Anyways....I had a WONDERFUL birthday weekend. On Friday, Eddie, Henry and I packed up the car and headed south to Harrisonburg, Virginia...home of James Madison University, my beloved alma mater. The drive wasn't too bad and, with the trees changing for autumn, it was a beautiful drive.

We got to JMU's campus around 4 and met up with my parents who had already made it there. We walked around campus and took some photos on the Quad. Here we are sitting on the Kissing Rock with Wilson Hall in the background:

After pictures we headed to the newly expanded Bridgeforth Stadium for Marching Royal Dukes (MRD) rehearsal. The stadium is HUGE's amazing to think of how much it has changed since my freshman year there in the fall of 1999. Rehearsal was a lot of fun to watch and Henry really liked it. (I was so glad that he did!) He enjoyed conducting/dancing while they played.

We headed to Dave's Taverna for dinner, which is my favorite place to eat in Harrisonburg. A pitcher of Natty Light for 3.75 (used to be 2 bucks!) and a gyro with fries was a perfect way to end the night.

The next morning Eddie and I were up before the sun to head to campus to help with Parade of Champions. This high school marching competition hosted over 40 bands this year. It was really neat to get to watch the shows from the new pressbox, which is sooooo much nicer than the old one. We had ample space, nice bathrooms and a view of the stadium, campus and beyond!

My parents and Henry joined us later in the day in time for the afternoon performance of the Marching Royal Dukes. I usually watch the afternoon performance from the press box as we finish tabulating the scores. This time, however, my friend Scott (also the MRD director) told me they needed me to take photos during the performance. I thought this was a little odd and figured something was up but wasn't sure what.

As it turns out "what was up" was that I was going to conduct the JMU Fight Song! The MRDs finished playing their show and Scott told me to give him my bag and kind of ushered me up to the podium. As this was happening the announcer was introducing me and telling everyone there it was my 30th birthday. It all happened so fast that I didn't really have time to think about how high the podium was that I had just climbed up on! It was incredible. The band was loud and fantastic and it was truly awesome to get to conduct them (even though I'm sure no one was really watching me!). A million thanks to Eddie who arranged it with Scott. It's the best birthday present I could have imagined.

The rest of the day was spent tabulating scores, watching bands and catching up with old friends. Henry was a real trooper up in the pressbox. He even took a nap up there! He really enjoyed looking at the bands and probably the highlight of his day was getting to meet Duke Dog in person! He was simultaneously excited and frightened by him but overall I think he was happy about being near him.

One Sunday Eddie and I got up early and went for a seven mile run! It was quite chilly (mid-30s) but the scenery was gorgeous. We headed towards campus and ended up running by all four places that I lived during my time at JMU. My only complaint about the run was that it was so darn hilly! I knew it was going to be a hilly having walked to classes for four year but I didn't really think about the GIANT hill leading up to our hotel that we climbed at the end of the run. I powered through it and we made it!

After the run and a quick shower we headed to IHOP for breakfast with our friends. It was tasty and a good time to catch up. Sadly after breakfast it was time to pack up and head back north.

It was a really great birthday weekend and I'm so glad that I got to spend it at JMU with my parents and some of my good friends. I'm certainly very lucky!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: JMU Edition

Every fall JMU (my alma mater) hosts a high school marching band competition called Parade of Champions (POC). Eddie and I have been going to help out with it for a number of years now. I typically help the Band Administrative Assistant out with the score sheets and Eddie helps with random things like lining up drum majors, going to Wal-mart for tape players, giving college football score updates to the announceer, etc.

Last year Henry was just a little dude so he hung out in his bouncy seat in the press box all day/night. This year my parents are coming up to help out with him, see the MRDs (JMU's Marching Royals Dukes), see the changes on campus, catch up with some people, etc. I am really looking forward to this trip because there are few places that make me as happy as the Shenandoah Valley and the JMU campus. Throw in the fact that it is fall and I can see the MRDs....awesome.

And in the spirit of my excitment I give you: Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Things I Love/Miss About Harrisonburg/JMU

1) Marching Royal Dukes (MRDs)

I can remember the first time I saw the MRDs. I was a freshman in high school and I KNEW from that moment that I wanted to go to JMU and march with them. Seeing a band of 300 with a ridiculously loud sounds and ridiculously high trumpet solos was pretty much the coolest thing a band geek like me could see. They played at high school marching competitions and because the stadiums were packed they would play two shows, one to each side. We would run from one side of the field to the other to be able to see both shows from the front.

Obviously I ended up going to JMU and marched with the MRDs. I made lifelong friends and brothers (Kappa Kappa Psi-Band Service Fraternity), got involved and had amazing life experiences like marching in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade and travelling to and performing in Greece.

I can't wait for Henry to see the MRDs again this year.

2) Dog Food Smell

Rockingham County, where JMU is located, is the poultry capital of the world. The corner boundaries of the county are marked by large, bronze turkey statues. There are a lot of poultry processing plants in the area and possibly dog food plants that use the leftovers. On rainy days the whole town smells like Dog Food. I know that sounds gross and it's really not a delicious smell but it is something that every JMU student associates with campus and some of us, like me, sometimes miss it!

3) Gray Bluestone, Red Roofs and Blue Skies

Many of the buildings in the older section of the campus were built using local bluestone, which is a gray rock. These buildings have deep red/rust colored tiled roofs. One of my favorite things about campus is the combination of the stone and tiles under a deep blue sky.

4) Kline's Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Kline's dairy bar is a family-owned and operated ice cream place that first opened in 1943. They have chocolate and vanilla ice cream all of the time and then one featured flavor of the week. The flavors range from traditional favorites like cookies and creme to seasonal treats like egg nog and pumpkin. My all-time favorite (and probably the favorite of 90% of JMU grads) is chocolate peanut butter.

Sadly their "flavor forecast" shows that I won't be getting my favorite this week. But I have a feeling we'll be going anyways since Henry enjoys ice cream and every little kid should have some Kline's in their life!

5) Dave's

Dave's Taverna, which everyone just knows as Dave's, is my favorite place to eat in Harrisonburg. Their gyros and fries are AMAZING and are my all-time favorite. My mouth is watering while I type this. They have good burgers and pizza too but I usually stick with my favorite. With $2 pitchers of Natty Light, what else could one want?! (I can't wait to eat there on Friday!!!)

6) Wal-Mart

Yes, Wal-Mart is one of my favorite things about Harrisonburg...but for people-watching adventures. The older Wal-Mart that is located on the way out of town is known for it's Mennonite Buggy parking and the frequent sightings of true "townies". Townies = people watching gold! The new Wal-Mart is much more "fancy" but now provides us with convenient junk-food and beverage shopping when we go back for alumni weekends.

7) Bells of Wilson Hall

Wilson Hall is one of the oldest buildings on campus and sits at the head of the Quad. There are bells (or now a loud speaker system probably) in the cuppola that chime the time....and the fight song once a day! When I hear the church bells here in Ridgewood I always am brought back to JMU in my mind. Nothing like looking out across campus to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains in the distance with the bells chiming.

8) Truly Friendly People

One of my former bosses at CNU asked me once what they put in the water at JMU because current students and alumni always seem to LOVE (all-caps) it and their experience. I am no exception to that...I still say "Dukes!" when someone does something great, wear purple on game days (even in NJ), and have a picture of Duke Dog up on my bulletin board.

I think one of the things that makes it such a magical place is that everyone is so friendly and generally polite. I always had to laugh when a president of another university I will not name would stand up and say that that school had a "culture of greeting" and that everyone would say hello to each other. It could not be further from the truth about that institution. But at JMU I can honestly say that people DO smile and say hello as they pass other students, faculty, etc.

I had great faculty in and out of the School of Music and had great experiences with my peers (also in and out of the music program).

9) Drives

My college roommate and lifelong best friend (thanks JMU!) Katie introduced me to the joys of drives for stress relief and for thinking. I used to love heading out of town, rolling the windows down and turning up the music. There is really nothing like a drive out on rural roads in the Shenandoah Valley, especially in the late afternoon when the light makes the fields glow gold and the mountains in the distance are so very blue.

10) Everything

Yes, it's true...I miss just about everything about JMU. My college experience was amazing (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)...what I learned in the classroom, what I learned out of the classroom, the people I met, the adventures we had, the tears, the laughter, the Heaven/Hell parties, early morning rehearsals, late night projects, band, fraternity, graduation. I'm so thankful for the experience I had.

Run run run!

Eddie, Karen, Ellen, Kevin and I all successfully survived the Paramus 10K (6.2 miles) run yesterday morning. We all did well for where we are in our training/athletic abilities.

Here we are after the run:

From here I'll start adding more mileage on, which is crazy to think about. But once I do my 7-miler, which will be my next long run, I will have less in front of me than behind me to get to the half-marathon 13.1 miles.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Progress On Many Fronts


Our little boy is almost 14 months old and seems to change everyday. He learns things at a remarkable pace and seems to enjoy learning. He has really been enjoying Baby Signing Time DVDs that I have checked out from the library. Since we have gotten them we've been working on some more useful signs like "Thank You", "Please", "Sorry", etc.

Henry has always been a fan of plane-spotting but yesterday he learned the joy of watching geese. There was a flock of them flying around the neighborhood getting ready to land across the street. I told them that they were "geese" and so he kept pointing saying "eese".

He has sprouted another top tooth and one of his molars is popping through. It's going to be so weird to see him with a full set of teeth.

Here he is learning that music comes out of the headphones of my iPod:


I haven't blogged much about the house because progress had been slowed because of having to wait to get some permits. We're at the point where every time we go to the house something new is done. Right now the gross shaggy orange carpet upstairs is gone, the kitchen has walls and the downstairs tub/shower has tile. It makes me really excited to see the progress and anxious to see how it comes out in the end.


I didn't think that I would say this but...I'm actually starting to really enjoy running. I've been tracking my training runs online starting with my first 5K race on Memorial Day. Since then I have run 106.3 miles (18 hours 23 minutes and 51 seconds). I did a "practice" 10K (6.2 miles) last weekend because we have a "real" 10K this coming Sunday. I've done some runs with other people and some on my own. While I like the company (and sometimes the push) of running with other people I've found that I generally feel better during my runs when I'm alone. I don't know if it's because I feel like I can run at my own pace and not worry about others or if I just like having the time to myself. Probably a combination of the two.

We are 87 days out from the Disney Half-Marathon. I'm actually kind of excited to get to that point and to accomplish that goal. Right now my runs are 4, 5 or 6 miles and that will increase after the 10K this weekend.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday

My stand partner in the Ridgewood Concert Band asked my if I had an all-time favorite piece of music. I answered (more on this later) but on my drive home the wheels started turning about great pieces of music and why I love them. It reminded me of one of my favorite scenes in the movie High Fidelity. The dialogue goes like this:

Dick: It guess it looks as if you're reorganizing your records. What is this though? Chronological?
Rob: No...
Dick: Not alphabetical...
Rob: Nope.
Dick: What?
Rob: Autobiographical.

Even for non-musicians I think songs bring people to a very specific time and place in their life, reminds them of an event or a relationship, etc. For me I can be like Rob and write my autobiography with music. (But that's not why I'm here now....I think I just wanted to use that High Fidelity quote!)

Everything got me thinking about my favorite pieces of music and why I like them so much. Since it's Tuesday and I like alliteration, I give you Top Ten Tuesday: The Band/Orchestra Music Edition (in no real particular order):

#10: Capriccio Italien by Tchaikovsky

I've never played this one and I don't have a personal story to go with this one, I just really enjoy it.

#9: Watchman, Tell Us of the Night by Mark Camphouse
This piece was the first time I KNEW that I was in music for the right reasons. I was a sophomore in High School and prior to this concert I wasn't sure I was working so hard and putting so much into music for myself or for my parents. I made All-State Band my sophomore year and we played this under the direction of a phenomenal conductor. The piece is so emotional and wonderful and it made me really fall in love with playing my clarinet.

#8: Blue Shades by Frank Ticheli

Come to think of it...we played this piece on the same All-State concert mentioned above! It is a super-fun piece of music that never gets old to listen to! My friends and I always joked about having a Blue Shades party in which we would play this on secondary instruments (i.e. not the ones we usually played). I wish we had done it because I think it would have been kind of amazing. Maybe it's not too late...

#7: Pines of Rome by Ottorino Respighi

I think this piece is pretty paints interesting pictures in my mind when I listen to it. For those of you who don't have good imaginations when it comes to "classical" music, the link I provided for the piece is Disney's Fantasia 2000 version that gives you a story to go with it.

#6: First Suite in Eb by Gustav Holst

You can't have a list of band favorites without some Holst. I'll keep it simple with the First Suite. I loved playing this in High School, especially since I was sitting next to one of my closest friends. We loved Holst so much that we used to flash each other the American Sign Language sign for "H" like a gang sign! (Nerd alert!)

#5: Celebration by Philip Sparke

I think Philip Sparke is my favorite living composer for wind ensemble. I played this piece of music my freshman year at JMU when the Wind Symphony traveled to perform at a national conference. It was a great overall concert but this piece stands out to me.

#4: Dance Movements by Philip Sparke

I know I just picked a Sparke piece and generally you don't double up in a list but here I am....Dance Movements is just SO FUN!

The link above is just for the first movement but you can find the others on the related video list next to it.

#3: Overture to Candide by Leonard Bernstein

This is the first piece of music that I can remember really loving. I must have been maybe eight or so and I used to play this piece over and over again. I have clear memory of dancing with a broom to it around my grandmother's kitchen when it still had it's black and white checked floor tiles.

What's awesome now is that Henry loves watching this video. He walks up to the computer and waves his arms around, which is his way of requesting "Lenny".

#2: Symphony #4 by David Maslanka

We played this at JMU the spring of my junior year, which was a personally challenging semester for me. When we played it at the concert it was one of those performances when everyone was really in it and pouring everything they had into it. I remember people looking around at each other, some with tears in their eyes, as we passed through theme after theme. I don't listen to this piece often but when I do it brings me back to that concert and that time in my life and makes me thankful that I had music around me that semester.

#1: Appalachian Spring, by Aaron Copland

This is the piece I told my stand partner was my all-time favorite piece of music. If I could only hear one piece of music again in my life, I think I would pick this one. From the beautiful opening dawn of intervals it just captivates me. It has so much to it that I can't help but get lost in it. When I listen to it I can imagine the sun rising over the prairie, pioneers heading west, adventure, simplicity in living, sweeping vistas. Copland's music sounds like America, like the soundtrack of our history, landscapes, and memories.


I can't believe that it is October already. Where does the time go?!

This weekend we had a Seavers family outing to Masker Orchard in Warwick, NY. It was overcast and had rained the night before so the roads were pretty muddy. So muddy that cars were getting stuck, our van included. Thanks to some friendly folks to help push we made it out of the mud and ended up having to drive down between a row of trees (read: not a road) to get out.

Henry enjoyed eating his first orchard fresh apple and did a great job considering he doesn't have that many teeth!

He was patient enough to let us harass him with the camera while he sat in the tree.

Henry and Uncle Chewy!