Overstuffed: July 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Daylilies

daylilies

These are the daylilies that are in my backyard. I never noticed them before (possibly because we never actually ventured into the backyard last year?).

I love all lilies, so I really love these.  They seem to be all over the place in Michigan, so I shouldn't have been too shocked to find a bunch of them in my own yard.

And, after the first bloom this year it dawned on me why they are called daylilies.  Luckily, there are always new blooms, so it doesn't feel like they only last a day!  It's fun for the girls to see how many are there each morning, and they start my day with just the right dose of beauty.

What beautiful things are you enjoying?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On Habits and Hope

Final bows for Rockland, the Opera on closing night.  This picture appeared on the front page of the local paper the next day.  My favorite part of the picture is Chloe...she is making a face at her father, who is in the orchestra pit just below her with his trumpet, probably making a face right back at her.

One of the most difficult parts to learn in the opera was a scene that incorporated "Shall We Gather at the River" with a Finnish Lutheran Hymn.  In that scene, I was assigned to be a Methodist, and so I sang "Shall We Gather at the River" which is a hymn I've song many a time.  But this time, it was written in Lydian mode.  If you don't know what Lydian mode is, all you really need to know is that it's not Major and it isn't minor and it's really difficult to sing in, because our ears and brains don't particularly like modal tonality.

So we had to relearn a very familiar piece of music with almost the same notes, but not quite.  Pitches raised or lowered a half step where they're not supposed to be.  I worked my guts out trying to learn the new version and I finally got it.  I can't speak for everyone else, but judging by how well everyone knew it by the end, I'd say I wasn't the only one who worked that melody to death.

Well.  The morning of our final dress rehearsal I received the following email:

Subject:  IMPORTANT! Please read now.

 Dear Chorus--I just had a call from Craig who has our notes from Jukka Linkola.  We have a change to make before this evening's performance/dress rehearsal.  Turns out that the Methodist hymn in the two churches scene was missing a flat in the key signature and there really is supposed to be a g-flat in the signature.  (software problem? gremlins?)  So the Methodists sing "Shall we Gather at the River" exactly as we all knew the hymn tune to begin with.  The only other change will be that at the phrase "throne of God" there will be an e-flat on the second half of the word "of" instead of an e natural.

Such is the way things go when you are working with new music, especially when the composer doesn't show up until the very end.  I honestly thought it wouldn't be any big deal.  After all, we were just going back to the normal tune, the way I've sung it a million times before--should be totally easy.  We did go through it beforehand, just to be sure we had it figured out, and it was no problem.

BUT, as soon as we were on stage, in costume, with the orchestra and with the other tune present in the scene we all started out singing it the hard way.  We didn't ever fully recover, though some of us fixed it and some of us kept with the modal melody.  It sounded pretty awful, and it was scary to think that it was our final dress rehearsal, that opening night was looming and we weren't sure if we could unlearn/relearn it quickly enough.

In the end we did just fine, but the whole experience has made me think about habits.  There are good habits and there are bad habits.  It always seems to me that the good habits are much harder to form than the bad ones, so let's just say that the weird way to sing the hymn was the good habit in this particular analogy.  I worked really hard to learn it right, to unlearn everything I knew about that song, but I did it.  I overcame the bad habits and I created a new one.  And then, I was put into a situation where it should have been easy to go back to the old, but it turned out to be really, really hard.

And that's what gave me hope.  Sometimes it feels like the new habits never stick, that I always just keep going back to what is easy.  But, really, when I work hard enough, the habit really does stick--as long as I keep working.  And even when I'm put in situations that make it harder to "be good," so to speak, it isn't as hard as I sometimes think it is.  So, my little habit of exercise, the one I've been working really hard on these last several months and which has kind of fallen on the back burner during the last few weeks of intense rehearsals and performances, is still there. 

At least, I hope it is!

(Getting my sorry self to the gym ASAP.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Big Five
(Warning: Picture Overload!)

Sophia is 5
Well people.  This is it.


Sophia turned FIVE today.  It's killing me. 

I mean, remember when she was born?

That adorable little baby grew up to be such an adorable little girl chock full of personality.  Of course, it's no surprise--she was full of personality from day one.
Sophie pumpkin IMG_4666_edited 1 webEyes like sapphires18 months old!Oatmeal Head: 9/365New ShoesAlmost two and so beautifulBaby BluesCan't take anymore.The most adorable Cowardly Lion ever!Blooming RoseSophie and the purple bandaid web copyLittle Miss Pumpkin FaceIMG_4133 Sophia Halloween webChristmas BeautiesKissingSand Castle BeginningsMischievous PrincessWhat Four Looks LikePreschoolerI'm a Cute Little GirlCuteriffic!Million Dollar Smile

But, why on earth does it have to happen so dang fast? Sigh.  She totally just grew up before my very eyes.

Sophia, you are so full of life and love and craziness. You give me a run for my money every single day. You have brought me such joy every single day. I am so glad you are mine, because I can't even imagine life without you.

I hope you have the best day ever today! You've been looking forward to it for a very long time: A Fancy Nancy (of course) Birthday Party with all your friends from preschool that you haven't seen since May.  Presents.  Blowing out candles.  Mississippi Mud Pie and Chicken Broccoli Casserole for dinner.  And a day all about you.

Happy Birthday, Hungry Chipmunk!

Love, Mommy

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Backyardigans

Sunshine

This morning the girls went out in the backyard to play as soon as they rolled out of bed. They took their breakfast of Gogurt tubes and homemade popsicles out with them and played until I made them come in to start their chores.

I can't tell you how happy I am that they actually want to go in the backyard! Last summer it was rare for the back door to even get opened, even though we have a fairly nice yard. There was just nothing out there but a jungle of weeds (seriously, our yard must be mowed twice a week to look presentable)(and who has the time for that?)(besides the fact that we didn't even own a lawn mower for the first month or so of summer last year), so nobody used the yard.

This year, we made it our goal to make the backyard fun.  We were so blessed to find a house with a nice yard that was also already fenced that it seemed a huge shame not to utilize it fully.

Our first order of business was to buy deck furniture, which we did back in May, as soon as there was no longer any snow on our deck.  Immediately, when the weather was nice, we started going out on the deck to eat lunch or read.
Reading
I have to say that I love this picture of Sophia.  I took it a couple months ago.  Bria was bored and asked me what she should do.  It was a beautiful day so I said, "If I were you, I'd get a book and go outside and read on the deck."  Bria didn't think it was such a great idea, but a few minutes later I glanced out the window and saw Sophia reading Curious George on the deck and my heart melted.

So anyway, back to the yard.  The next big purchase was for Joel:  A grill.  Unfortunately, it sat unopened in its box for more than a month because we didn't have a patio back there.  Joel was worried about the grill on the wood deck (I must admit, I wouldn't have even thought about the fire hazard), so he built himself a patio out of pavers.  It was a huge project, and I was very impressed with how quickly he got it finished!
Chippy
Here's the finished patio, with the grill in the place of honor.  Hey--remember Chippy? Well, he is practically our pet now.  I think he lives under our deck, and he is not really scared of us.  He has come in the back door when it's left open more than once, too.  And one time, he even made it all the way up the stairs into the playroom and the girls had to chase him back down and outside where he belongs.  But anyway, in this picture, he is eating some of my breakfast (eggs).
Happy Grilling!
And here's The Maestro grilling us dinner.  He's pretty happy about it, don't you think?  Actually, I think he was being a dork for the benefit of the camera.  But he does love his grill, no question there.

Our final purchase was a playset for the girls.  Joel had to adjudicate a flute recital at a neighboring university in a much larger city where they actually sell playsets. I went with him for the sole purpose of visiting Lowes and picking out a playset. It also sat unopened for a little while until Joel was finished grading all of the finals/papers for his summer session, and then he got to work.
building
He worked on it a little every day for about a week, and then a friend had to come help him when it got to be bigger than a one-man job.
Almost done!
Our house is built on a pretty steep hill, so getting it level was quite the job.  It just sat there, sans slide and swings, tempting the girls for a few days.
Swinging Along

They finally managed to get it (mostly) level.  It isn't perfect, but hopefully it will settle.  The girls love having it.  I love them to have it.

And I love going out into the yard to sit on the deck while they run and play. It's what having a backyard is all about, right?
Good Morning
Chloe eating her gogurt while she watches Sophia and Bria play "soccer" and keeps score on the chalkboard in the playset.
Bria
Bria playing soccer...in bare feet!  No worries, her foot is fully healed, although she's still on antibiotics for a few more days.  Oh!  And our neighbors up the street were getting rid of their picnic table (you can see it behind her), so we have that back there, too.  It makes eating our grilled summer dinners outside that much better!
Soccer Sophia
And Sophia, in mismatched PJs (though, both are Tinkerbell themed) and a popsicle, contemplating her next soccer kick.

This is the life.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience

Just Be You

This picture has nothing to do with the post you are about to read, except that it is of Bria and the post is about her mostly.  I just love it.  And her. Isn't she beautiful? And so grown-up?

When I was 7 or 8 I stepped on a rusty nail while playing Red Rover at a birthday party in someone's backyard.  Not only did it hurt like a really bad word, it gave me a blood infection.  I have very vivid memories of my mom trying not to freak out about it and scare me, my next-door neighbor and my dad giving me a blessing in the middle of the night while my foot was soaking in Epsom salts, and the red streak that came almost to my knee before the antibiotics kicked in and it started to recede.

So when Bria came into our bedroom at about 6:00 on Sunday morning crying about how much her foot was hurting her, I now had to be the mother that was trying not to freak out.  Bria had gone to the beach with a friend on Saturday and apparently stepped on something.  She remembers doing it, but never told me about it or complained that it hurt when she got home.  But when she showed me her foot on Sunday morning, there was already a red streak up past her ankle.  

For the first time ever, I was thankful for my own experience with blood infection as a child, because I don't know that I would have recognized it otherwise.  I told Bria we would be heading for the ER, and of course she flipped out, because she is terrified of doctors (among other things).  I stayed amazingly calm and explained to her how serious it was and that only a doctor had the right tools and medications to help her right now.  She agreed to go, but now she was flipping out about dying.  And about the shot I told her she would definitely be getting.

Bria did amazingly well at the hospital.  She barely cried when the doctor took his scalpel and dug around in the wound to make sure that whatever she stepped on was not still in her foot.  She hung on to my hand for dear life, but she was so brave.  She dealt with the x-rays (again, just to make sure something was not still inside her foot) wonderfully, even though I know how difficult it was for her to remain calm since I couldn't hold her hand in the radiation room.  She even handled the shot well.  The nurse was really great and helped her relax and it wasn't so bad.  And most impressive of all, she threw up about ten times after we got home (I'm thinking the pain medication they gave her upset her stomach) and she didn't make a big deal out of it at all.

You may wonder why I am so impressed with my nearly 11-year-old daughter doing well at the ER.  I mentioned she was terrified of doctors, but I wasn't just saying it flippantly.  She is really and truly, completely terrified of doctors.  The only other time she has gotten an x-ray was when she was 3 years old and had likely broken her foot.  Getting the x-ray was a 2 hour ordeal bordering on the ridiculous.  I have seen 4 nurses, plus Joel and me, holding her down in order for her to receive a shot.  And throwing up?  It is possible that she is more terrified of that than she is of doctors.  She has never handled it well, by any stretch of the imagination, and that's all that needs to be said about that.  So yes, I was understandably very proud of her maturity.

But this post really isn't about any of that.  I've just been thinking a lot about how so many times our negative experiences in life actually end up helping us.  This story only illustrates that in a small way:  I knew to take my daughter to the doctor for a potentially dangerous issue because of my own experience with it as a child.  Even Bria's prior experiences with doctors probably helped her to deal with this visit more calmly.  It's so easy to be angry about the bad things that happen to us, or wonder why, or even just forget about it, but I have been able to look back and see in hindsight so many times how a difficult experience has actually made me stronger, or has taught me something important, or has helped me be more empathetic to others.  

Our trials truly can be blessings....even if it takes 30 years to realize it.

"...all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good."

Monday, July 18, 2011

My Secret Life

A few weeks ago I sang an opera aria (Vissi d'Arte from Tosca) at a funeral.  After the service, one of my neighbors came up to me and said, "Who knew that the woman who runs up the hill to the bus stop in her pajamas every morning could sing like that!"  After I overcame my initial embarrassment (I like to pretend that nobody can actually see me in my red polar bear jammies--it's usually dark, after all), we laughed together about our meetings. It seems that every time she sees me I am covered in paint because I am doing home improvement projects, in dirt because we've been working in the yard, or, most often, in my pajamas.  Because I am running to the bus stop with my daughters at what feels like the crack of dawn.

I have never once mentioned to this neighbor that I am an opera singer, so her surprise was understandable.  Because, mostly, I don't think of myself that way.  I am a mom who happens to sing, not a singer who happens to have children.

I am an incredibly normal mom who deals with all the same things every other mom deals with:  Temper tantrums (my own as well as the children's), messy rooms, dirty dishes, piles and piles (and piles) of laundry, stacks of bills (but not stacks of money), grocery shopping with all three children in tow, to-do lists that are a mile long, and more.  While you might find me singing as I do the dishes or vacuum, I'm usually not thinking about whatever aria is sitting on my piano waiting to be learned.  In fact, I'm highly embarrassed about all of the time I didn't put in to practicing for this latest opera, which included some of the most difficult ensemble music I've ever sung.

The other day, while I was running errands with Sophia  I wasn't wearing any make-up (sorry, Mom), had barely combed my hair, and had on old jeans and a faded t-shirt. The clerk punched in my phone number for the rewards card, verified my name and then looked at me and said, "Oh!  I saw you sing opera in a concert last year!  It was amazing.  You have a really amazing talent."  And just like at the funeral, I had to recover a little bit from my embarrassment--not because I was wearing my pj's, but because I forgot.  I was just your average, run-of-the-mill mom, out buying favors and decorations for her soon-to-be-five-year-old's birthday party.  I certainly didn't feel like someone with a "really amazing talent" and I most definitely didn't look it.

It feels kind of like a secret life, even to myself.  Of course my closest friends know.  But it just doesn't come up in regular conversation with most of the people I interact with.  Because children are the thing I have in common with most people, and it's what we talk about.  It's what all moms want to talk about. And while it's really fabulous to be up on the stage in front of an audience, it's much more satisfying to make sure my home is a haven for my three children, who are my greatest gift in life.  As exciting as applause is, it's so much better to see my girls be excited about their personal triumphs.  And, thrilling as it is that my picture was in yesterday's paper, I'm so much more thrilled when one of the girls draws a picture of me. My children bring me a lasting joy that you can't quite put a price on.

And so I go about my life as a mother, and occasionally I am reminded that, oh yeah, I sing pretty well, too.

*******

I'm sure I'm not the only one with a secret life. In fact, I'm pretty sure we all have one. What's yours?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Meet Maggie and Edna and Watch the Opera Live on the Web

This is Maggie.  At least, that's what Joel named her last night when we ran into each other backstage during intermission and he didn't even recognize his own wife.  (I think I'll finally take my real camera tonight....because this cell phone thing really doesn't cut it all the time, as handy as it is.) I don't think Maggie is a very Finnish name, though.  But I don't know any really Finnish names, so never mind.


Maggie2

Maggie is a miner's wife in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, circa 1906.  As opposed to me, a professor's wife in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, circa 2011.  But we do look uncannily alike.

Maggie is also slightly horrified by the saloon girl sitting next to her in the dressing room.  Such a disgrace!

And this is Edna with Chloe.  Chloe is a miner's child in 1906.  You might wonder what Edna is doing there as she doesn't seem to fit very well.   Edna is a tourist group leader in 1960, and is taking a group of tourists to the mining site in Rockland, Michigan, where Chloe and Maggie lived in 1906.  Chloe decided to name her Edna because she thinks I look like John Travolta in Hairspray.  And, you know, I think she's right.  Mostly the hair.  It's possible that the fact that I have to wear a corset under that dress because of my quick change into Maggie later has something to do with it, too.


Chloe and Edna
And this is a link to watch the opera live on Sunday afternoon.  It's at 3:00 pm EDT, so I hope you're not in church, because it really is a wonderful opera with some world-class talent playing the leading roles, and a pretty darn good chorus too, if I do say so myself.



Maggie

Maggie will be very, very disappointed in you if you don't.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Blank Slate


Can you imagine waking up in somebody else's life?  Or, at least, it feels like somebody else's because you can't remember anything about your previous experiences, not even your own name?

Heather Justesen has written a book exploring just what that might feel like.  Adrianna, a well-known concert pianist, is in an accident and wakes up not knowing who she is.  She is surprised to find that she enjoyed playing the piano in front of thousands of people, when she cannot even remember how to play simple melodies.  She doesn't remember her family or friends, or even her fiance.  Disconcerting, to say the least.

While the plot line is fairly predictable, I didn't know the means by which the end (which I knew within the first few pages) would come about.  I definitely wanted to keep reading to see how it would all unravel.  Besides, Heather is a very talented writer.  Her characters feel like friends, and I enjoyed getting to know them.

All of that said, I was a little disappointed in some of the background research and some loose ends that I think an editor should have caught before it went to press.  Like, what ring?  (I won't expound on that question further, at the risk of spoiling things for you)(also, it's possible the ring was explained better but maybe that part was cut?)  And no professional orchestra conductor would ever refer to an orchestra rehearsal as a practice. (Since I'm actually married to an orchestra conductor, I can say that with absolute confidence.) There were a few other musical things that were a bit off, but they didn't bother me quite as much as the rehearsal/practice issue did. Finally, I felt that even though it was written by an LDS author (hooray for LDS authors!), the Mormon-ness in this particular story was a little out of place.  The characters going to church or talking about it just felt awkward to me. Like it was put in the book just to say, "I'm an LDS book!" when it had no real bearing on the plot at all.

I feel a little bad about pointing those things out, but I think they stood in the way of making a good book great.  I'd still recommend reading it, because it is good. The story was very intriguing and I enjoyed it quite a lot.  It's definitely a nice, quick summer read.

(Update 7/15/2011: Heather contacted me and we worked together to fix the musical issues, and she also mentioned that she fixed the ring issues. A second edition will be available both digitally and in paper very soon.)

And hey!  Lucky you--Heather has arranged a nice discount for you if you like e-books.  From now until the end of July, if you go to this Smashwords page and enter code WV49Z, you can download the book for only $1.49!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Featured

Today I was featured at Stephanie's blog: Diapers and Divinity (which is one of those blogs you really must not miss...so if you don't read it, I recommend that you start).

Many thanks to Stephanie for doing this Find-a-Friend Friday Feature.  I have loved getting to know other bloggers through her, and it was really fun to answer her interview questions...and it actually got my wheels turning about some things that will probably pop up here sooner or later.

Click here to read my interview.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Case for the Only Child


If you read my blog at all, you know that I have not one, but THREE children, and you may think that this is an odd book title for me to be reviewing.  And you'd be right.  Lisa at TLC Booktours asked me to review this book on the premise that some of my readers might be contemplating having only one child, and that I might have a unique perspective on the book's message, given my "overstuffed" household.

As all of the other reviews for TLC seem to have been written by those who do have onlies, I suppose mine will indeed be a unique perspective.

"You must have your hands full" or "You do know how you got all those kids, don't you?" is a fairly common observation when I go out with all of my kids. And that is surprising to me for two reasons. First of all, I'm not sure why people feel the need to say such things to perfect strangers (is my reproductive life really any of your business?), and second of all, I really don't think three children are all that many.  Most of my friends have at least three, and I have several friends who have more than that.  Heck, one of my best friends is having her seventh in a few months.

Again, if you read my blog at all, you will also know that I am LDS.  Having lots of children--certainly more than one--is indeed a part of our religious culture, and while I won't go into our specific beliefs about that,  I will say that I realize that my religion has influenced the decision The Maestro and I made to have more than one child, or indeed, any children at all.  However, society as a whole is largely moving towards smaller families and, in many cases, only children.

So, before I have said a single word about The Case for the Only Child by Susan Newman, Ph.D., you are already completely aware of my biases.  And the title of the book should clue you in to what the biases of the author are, as well.

One thing that this book does well is to go over every argument you could possibly think of against having an only child and present counter-arguments and research which discredits the case against onlies.  On the other hand, most of her arguments really serve to discredit those of us who have made a different choice--it didn't feel objective.  I feel her arguments would have been much stronger if she had extended her research to include those who do have more than one child and how they have dealt with such things as career and finances when the decision to have more children was made.

Putting my husband through his doctoral degree with two children wasn't easy, but we made it work.  Yes, if I had no children or even just one during that time we would probably be in a better place financially, but that wasn't the choice that we made.  And we, I believe, are better people for it, despite what conclusions an outsider looking in may draw about our financial situation. 

The one argument I can wholeheartedly agree with is that of time.  Yes.  I am often stretched way too thin between my three daughters, a house to take care of and keep clean, music lessons, soccer, homework, practicing and my own part-time job, church service, hobbies and other interests.  It's a lot to handle and I am often overwhelmed.  I have indeed noticed those acquaintances who only have one child giving that child much more time than I could ever give to any one of my three.  I wish I could be three people sometimes.  Sometimes having three children begging for my attention in three separate directions all at the same time is enough to make my head explode.

But, being overwhelmed does not mean that I am not happy.

Consider this quote from the book:
"Christine Carter, a sociologist at University of California Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center, proposed a "happiness challenge" during which she asked mothers to follow paths that would make them happier: to be less busy, to relax and have more fun.  Can you really do this with a couple of children to drive to activities, homework to supervise, meals to prepare, teachers' conferences to attend, sporting events to watch--in short, a killer schedule on top of full-time or part -time work?
"By only having one child, mothers have discovered a way to be happy.  They report having the time to kick back and rest.  Most of them say they are calm, less stressed and less busy, than their friends with more than one child.  They told me that they are busy, but they have only one child's schedule to fit in.  The 'rest, relaxation and flow' that Carter says has been 'squeezed out of their [mother's] lives' is not missing for those who have one child."
So.  Because I have three children, I am not happy?  And since when does "having fun" determine a person's happiness level?  Wrong.  I am very happy.  The difference is that I have learned that serving my children, working hard, teaching them to be functional adults, watching them learn to navigate this world, seeing their successes and being there for them in their failures brings me thousands of times more happiness than my job as a voice teacher and a performer (which I do love and enjoy) does.  It brings me much more happiness than kicking back and resting does. And it certainly brings me more happiness than having fun at an amusement park or going to a movie does. All of the sacrifices which I have had to make in order to be the mother of more than one child are completely and totally worth having these three wonderful beings in my life. I am better for it.

Still, I do think this is a good book for those who are trying to decide whether or not to have more than one child. It certainly presents the many factors  in our lives and marriages that are affected by having children, and that is a good thing.  I know that as we have discussed nearly incessantly for the past several years whether or not we would add a fourth child into our brood, most of these factors have come up and we have had to be  honest with ourselves and take a good, hard look into why we wanted another child.  Whether to have just one or more, or even no children is a very personal decision and I certainly do not judge those who have made a different choice than I have. 

If you are interested in reading this book, let me know in the comment section. I have one copy to give away.

*************

Monday, July 04, 2011

Celebrating the Fourth

 fourth of july breakfast
Let it be known that I am perfectly exhausted.  And that this post will most definitely highlight the incoherence that comes with such an exhaustion.

Today was July 4th.  We love us some Independence Day around our household, and the celebrations began last night at Lake Linden.  A couple in our branch parks their RV right by the lake and pretty much every member of the entire branch comes and parks themselves next to the RV to watch the fireworks.  And let me tell you, we have the best seat in the house as the fireworks shoot up over the lake.  It is spectacular.

The lake, at dusk, just before the fireworks finally got started.

Lake Linden
Some of the fireworks (taken with my phone with surprisingly good quality)(I have been surprisingly lazy about bringing my camera with me anywhere).
Fireworks 1Fireworks 2
Today, we ate the above red, white and green (it tried really hard to be blue) breakfast and then proceeded to slave drive the kids to death.... well, until our friends came over for a cookout.  A cookout at which I took absolutely no pictures to prove it, but at which we had a really wonderful time.

Well, I did take one picture.  This is of Miss Sophia who will be 5 in a few weeks and her exciting happening in the middle of lunch!

Sophia's first missing tooth.  :(
We won't even talk about how sad this makes me, but she is as excited as she could possibly be.

After the cookout, we drove up to Eagle Harbor to visit another party which was held for the Music Festival.  Our friends live right on Lake Superior and have the most beautiful view.  Unfortunately, it began to thunder and rain when we got there, but take a look at the crazy clouds!  I've never seen anything like that before in my life, and it was just amazing in person.


Strange clouds
We ate good food (like ice cream bars and spinach quiche) and had great conversation with the various and sundry people that were present.
4th of July
When it stopped raining a bit, Joel and Sophia and I walked over to the lake.
Lily after the rainDaddy and S @ Eagle HarborEagle Harbor
What a perfect end to our celebrations today:  A look at just a small part of the magnificence that is America.  How blessed we are.

Hope your Fourth was blessed, too!