Monday, December 30, 2013

Purge, rotate, vomit, organize: Let's prepare for 2014 #tutorial #emailclutter

If you are as blessed as we are, and happen to have a twyn birthday a week before Christmas, you are now overwhelmed with the amount of *stuff* in your house. 

We are starting to recognize the fact that we are on our way to becoming hoarders if we don't reign it in. 
One of our New Years resolutions is to "Get Organized in 2014." 

[Well what year *don't* we promise this.] 

Hubby means business this time. 

Oh, ok. [insert eye roll]


But....if I blog about it....dreams really can come true. 
Here's our plan, and I'll try to keep you motivated along with me.

Priority #1: Toys
The kids, following suit, are loathe to part with baby toys, even though they have been given many new "big kid" toys.
So in the weeks leading up to Christmas, and from now until next Christmas, I'm hoping to get rid of a few things. I'm eyeing you, Green Drop, and Moms of Multiples Sale. You are my guiding light!
The first trick was offered up by our Elf, Toby, when he arrived. He brought empty boxes with him for the kids to put in old toys they no longer wanted or used to be given to other children (He may have gotten this idea from pictures of other Elves he saw on Pinterest.) That was helpful.
I also filled the basement closet with toys I no longer see them playing with, so that if ask for them, they are available between now and the time that I get rid of them or sell them at the sale. If they don't ask for them between now and then, we're golden.
Quick & Dirty rule: If it's broken beyond repair, or lost its matching part, throw it away. If it's for age 2 and below, put it in the giveaway bin regardless of their attachment.

Priority #2: My husband's workspace
Santa brought my husband a table saw. [let's all collectively oooooh and ahhhhh.]
Because this is the key to many projects being finished in the house, the whole workspace is key to our new organizational life. So, first on the list of priorities should be to clean up all the demo-trash [i.e. old wood, sinks, there may even be a toliet in the mix...] that we have in his work area so that he can actually see and access his tools. We purchased a bagster from home depot and will fill it in the driveway over the coming weeks. Then we can start to organize what's currently down there and clear off some work surfaces for him. Then he can build my sewing area built-in's so I can get my fabric out of my closet and then put clothes in my closet and actually be able to open a drawer or two in my dresser as I clear out of it various sizes that no longer fit me even after a half-ironman so clearly will never fit me again and need to go to the needy and skinnier than I...
Oh yeah, and shelving for the kids' toys.
And other various projects he may have in his noggin [I think he wants to do something wine-related? Maybe I should ask him what his priorities are...sometime....]
Quick & Dirty rule: Things we no longer use need to go; they shouldn't be placed in the workspace purgatory. Get to know the Green Drop rules.

Priority #3: Clothes & Fabric
I received a lot of lounge pants and pjs for Christmas from my family. I can't tell if this is because they would like to see me relax more, or that they are tired of seeing me lounge in the same old things. Overall it's a scary situation because I have been asked by my daughter why I'm wearing my pajamas outside the house. But I'll take this opportunity to get rid of ones that have holes in them. We like to put them in the Planet Aid bins and the like in the parking areas around our house.
And, as I mentioned above, my fabric habit has started to take over my clothing areas so I either need to finish up a few sewing projects, start sewing my own clothes and throw out the other clothes, or get. organized.
Quick & Dirty rule: A piece of clothing comes in, a piece of clothing goes out. A piece of fabric comes in, whatever category it's 'entering' needs to be tidied up.


Yes, friends...those are my priorities...
but here's where I'm actually starting....

Priority #4: My electronic life
Don't we always take a few days around New Years to unsubscribe, as we always do, to all those newsletters we never get around to reading? But then, somehow all those websites still find us... and mama has 11,000 unread messages in her inbox (that's after my first go.) So I will be unsubscribing, as usual, but there is now also a new backup:
creating filters through gmail!

Step 1: Open an email from a sender you no longer wish to see.
Access the drop-down menu on the upper right corner and click on "Filter messages like this".



Step 2: Click on "create filter" in the lower right hand corner of the next menu.


Step 3: Choose to archive, or in my case, delete all messages from this sender, and all previous messages from this sender. This requires two 'checked boxes.'


I could use to also consolidate my blog subscriptions to one email address, and one service (bloglovin', wordpress, etc.) But I digress...
Quick & Dirty rule: Never will I ever again spend months on end not deleting items from my Inbox.

And this tidying of electronic dust-bunnies would not be complete without extending this effort to my ginormous collection of PHOTOS. I have beautiful framed photos of the first two years of their lives; but need to update. Those scrapbooks from their baby shower aren't gonna do themselves, either...
And with the calendar project for 2014 looming over its due date (I usually give a photo calendar to the grandparents for Christmas), I should really start to upload more regularly to Shutterfly. Print up a book for each vacay/trip, and have the fave photos loaded by the time I arrive at Calendar time 2015. I even set a reminder years past to do this on the 30th of every month and I snooze snooze snooze.
Quick & Dirty rule: Whenever a pic is facebook-share or text-share worthy, I will also upload it to Shutterfly at the same time in an album called "Share-worthy."


I have at least two other resolutions to improve my (as-of-late) lazy ways! I'll share them in another post. 
What's yours? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My husband is magic #Christmas

I would be remiss if I called myself a mommy blogger and I did not post something about our Elf on the Shelf, no? 

Well the beauty of our household is that, my husband is actually the one who is super into it. 

Our Elf, Toby, isn't naughty; he doesn't do tricks or ride a zipline from the tree; he doesn't play with Barbies or toliet paper the bathroom. 

But he does leave poems for the children.

So much so, that the children look forward to finding Toby's poems (about once a week) just as much as finding Toby.

And to this, I credit the magic of Santa.

I know that I grew up loving Santa and Christmas, but I had no idea the level of Christmas love in my husband's heart. 

He has specific rules for Santa's gifts: they are not wrapped, they are toys, and they are usually fully functioning and set up when the children thunder downstairs. 

So, for instance, last year when the children received a set of blocks, there was a cool building design, already there, waiting to inspire them. 

So when the township notified us that Santa could actually come around one evening, a week early, in the firetruck, and bring an actual present to each child, we jumped at the chance. My husband missed Santa's arrival by 10 minutes, sadly, but he did get to smell the resulting fresh "we believe" scent that lingered in the air for the next few hours and days. 


I now realize why we all hold dear to Santa: it fuels the imagination of each child, and each child within us. 


And so, I will not plagiarize all of my husband's work today, but I will leave you with his - I mean - Toby's - final poem this year: 

A & C, it's been another great year; 
Your kindness and niceness has filled me with Cheer
How I love watching you, as you laugh and you play; 
But for this Christmas season, today's my last day.

I'll miss you my friends, but please don't be blue;
Santa Claus is coming with toys for you two.
And to give you your chances for that special gift,
I've left you something to give Santa's sleigh a lift.

Reindeer food is magic, it helps them to fly; 
and pull Santa's sleigh through the Christmas Eve sky.
Sprinkle it on your yard and the reindeer will see,
That Santa leaves you extras, under the tree.

Til next year twyns, I bid you farewell;
And I leave you one more gift, this small silver bell.
If you miss me before I return next year, 
Just ring this bell and I'll be sure to hear.

Then tell me if you're happy or angry or blue,
Or if you're just lonely, I can listen to you.
I love you my Family, but my home's far away; 
So keep being good and have a Merry Christmas Day.

Love,
Toby



Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from our home to yours!




Thursday, December 19, 2013

The creepy part of homemade gifts/I quilted a piano

I believe that when we create something, a little part of us goes into that creation.

 

Well, being it is my twyns' fifth birthday today, I'm very in touch with that thought today. I think blogging will help with my emotional mess of a brain this morning.

So. Back to my little idea.

I'm fantasizing that when I die I will be able to watch over people through my creations that may pepper their homes.

I will be a VERY busy lady.

I'm hoping, with my recent success as an ETSY shop owner, this does not apply to things I have sewn for customers whom I don't actually know.

But when I'm quilting for a baby, which is almost always for someone I know, I begin to think about that baby and whom he or she might become.

And then thoughts surround me about that baby's life, and I get an idea of what it might be like.

Yes, I like to think of myself as a little psychic, or at least, in touch with some energies in the universe.

It's a bit of immortality-aspiration, I guess.

I remember quilting for one baby and, knowing the parents, I knew for sure that this child was going to be a child of the world. He would be a traveler, a global walker.

Well, he's only 2 now, so we'll have to wait and see... I've only been quilting since my 30th birthday, after all, so there's no sample size to test any of my theories.

And then, most recently, I had the privilege of attending a baby shower for a couple of musicians. I mean, like, serious musicians, y'all. I met them while they were receiving their doctorates in their respective instruments.

So...I quilted a piano, of course!

Because we know that music will surround that baby's world. And, in fact, his/her mama is trying to fit in two more concerts before the upcoming birth! So it already does.

I found the beginning of the pattern in the November/December 2013 issue of McCall's Quilting and it was designed by a mother/daughter team called Stitched Together Studios.

Basically I used the keyboard part of the pattern, which entails 'white' keys that are 2 1/2 inch strips (eventually cut to 4 1/2 inches each), and 'black' keys that are 1 1/2 inch strips (eventually cut to 4 1/2 inches each.) You have to remember to have a grouping of two-black-keys in between each 3-black-key grouping.
You want to sew the strips in sets of 'three black keys' or 'two black keys' and their side keys. Then, attach the lower half, which is all 2 1/2 inch strip white keys.
After you finish the top sections and bottom sections, you can sew each 'grouping' together

I surrounded two 'groupings' with 1 1/2 inch borders, then added some flannel "I love mommy/daddy" 6 inch strips.
I then surrounded the whole thing with white 6 inch strips.
Before adding the minky backing, I quilted wavy lines on the keys to highlight the piano pattern with only the top & batting.
Next step: spray baste the minky backing (I didn't want to quilt with the backing because minky is so fussy.)
I used the 'self-binding' method of folding over the backing onto the front to make it simple.
Because you know how I struggle with minky! But I couldn't resist this color combo, and the softness of minky for a newborn.
Finished size was about 46" x 34".
This mama-to-be received a lot of handmade gifts that day, so I think her baby will be surrounded by love (and music) for life.

Happy soon-to-be-birthday little music baby! 

Happy 5th Birthday my loves! 

And happy last-minute-gift-making-and-shopping to all of you! 
Are you busy with a last minute Christmas project?


Friday, December 13, 2013

Your baby's looking for you #funforFriday

Snow Day this week with our little snow lovers
I had this weird idea when we were trying to conceive. It got me through some dark times, so please take it with a grain of salt. Those of you still struggling with infertility, maybe it will find you and help you as well.

I thought all babies were angels up in the sky watching us, looking down and trying to figure out the best parents for them. 

Some babies were not quite so picky. They saw a potential match and swooped on down right away. They could iron out the details later.

But then, there were the discerning children. Taking their time, sorting through all the backgrounds, the paperwork, the psych profiles...

They studied. They watched.

They made their mommies and daddies wait.

Couples who begged for the right baby to find them.

For a match, literally, made in heaven. 

And, in our case, on our lucky day, I'm pretty sure our feisty little daughter grabbed hold of her best bud's hand and said,

"There they are!! Those two are perfect for us!!" 
 
And we are so grateful. Blessed. And  FLABBERGASTED that it has been five years. [as of next week.]

I'm an emotional wreck!!  You know this time of year gets to me!!

Yesterday we celebrated their birthday at school 


and I got to stay around for their "Supersack Game." A child brings in something special, and the other kids have to guess what it is.


We put in their Christmas bears - the first present my husband and I ever bought them - and photos of them as preemies - when the bears were bigger than they were!!

 

Could not *quite* get them to understand I wanted them to pose for a comparison pic.
 It still blows my mind. 

I'm not going to make it through this birthday!!

Forgive me my lack of posts because of: my only children's birthday is a *week* before Christmas (thank goodness we got them to agree to having a party instead of presents), snow days, hosting all the holidays this year, playing Santa, losing my address book during holiday-card-season, and, to top it off, fulfilling spiderman-panties wishes for little superheroes around this world...literally!

 ONE AND A HALF WEEKS, PEOPLE!!

LET'S DO THIS, MOMMIES!!

Friday, December 6, 2013

10 Best Gifts for Your Favorite Twin Mommy #funforFriday

A countdown, just cuz...

10. A photo of her with the twyns where she does not look like an awkward gargoyle while she tries to stabilize one and make the other one smile at the same time.

9. Room-by-room organizational systems and the strength to maintain them. Check with this lady.

8. A time machine that allows her to fast forward through potty training, and rewind to baby coos whenever she needs them.

7. Elf-on-the-Shelf moving service.

6. A right-hand-diamond ring. I mean, you can't blame a mama for trying...

5. The dishes. DO. THE. DISHES.

4. Silence. When the credit card bill arrives.

3. Coffee IV-drip.

2. In-law translator.

1. Just one day in a magical place where conflict does not exist, everyone dresses themselves, brushes their own teeth, wipes their own asses, puts themselves to sleep and settles in for TWELVE. HOURS. OF UNINTERRUPTED. SLEEP.

Thanks, Santa!

Did I miss something? Tell me what's on your list!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Audition Report #3

I am not very traditional looking, traditional acting, nor traditional sounding, so I was rather intrigued when I read a posting asking for submissions for a new workshop production in town centering around women's body issues. The song they sent us for the callback, should we receive a callback, because it would have been the next day and they were being kind enough to give us more than 24 hours with the song, used the refrain "Healthy and Fat."

Yep. Seems like my kind of part!

But alas, it was not to be. I did not get the callback. And, in fact, when I read the monologue, and started to play through the song, I realized I would not be getting the callback before I even walked in the door of the audition room.

Let me start at the beginning, sorry...

Posting:
Exceptionally strong singer-actors and actor-singers, Equity or Non-Equity.

As singers they must be versatile and able to sing a rangy, contemporary

musical theater score. Actors must be versatile: they will need to play a

variety of characters that span a wide range of dramatic and comic.

Seeking creative actors who bring ideas to the table and are willing to

experiment with the material.

 

Woman #1: Late 30’s to early 40’s, carries some weight, any ethnicity.
So I submitted and got an appointment.

Later that week, the casting director emailed us a monologue & song that would be used for the callbacks, should we get called.

The monologue was spoken word. Not my forte. I mean, I am totally down with contemporary theatre...it's my jam! But I don't think I can do spoken word. People that can pull that off do not necessarily say "it's my jam" about anything. They are on a cooler level than I.

The song was...also a bit of spoken word, I believe. I meticulously spent about two hours entering every single note into my composition software just so my beautiful computer could 'play' it for me. It was a cute song, but then it gets very sprechstimme at the end [the original spoken word - dialogue written to music, like in an opera.] So, it's a rant on top of a melody.

So, I just had a feeling it was not for me. My friend had actually got a "oh we were going to call you!' when she submitted for an audition, and that made me think I was not on the short list. [cuz I wasn't.]

Anywho...I really like this casting director so I wanted to get a head start on this audition season with some hot new material and show her that I'm not just TwynMawrMom circa 1998. I am totally 2010. Well, at least 2008....

They asked for two songs [32 bars each], one that was contemporary and showed range, and one that was comedic, and a 1-2 minute monologue. I prepared two new pieces and was half-thinking of rehearsing a new monologue but throughout the busy weekend I quickly realized I would be dredging up one of my old tired monologues and on the drive to the city I changed my mind about the new comedic piece. It was not funny! This may or may not have been aided by my parents in the car who were trapped and listening to me rehearse and warm up, and their reactions. So I drove the 10 minutes back to my house and picked up my old stand by, The Last Five Years [never will I ever leave the house without Jason Robert Brown again], and speedily got back on course.

Perhaps not so speedy, because I was five minutes late, had to pee, and was completely flustered when I entered the audition room in the Walnut rehearsal spaces and approximately 10 people looked like they had been waiting for me for hours.

I ended up singing a new piece, "Woman" from Pirate Queen, and the high notes were not so pretty at 10 am. It fell flat. It could have roused the whole joint, but alas, they did not hear me roar.

I fell back in love with "Summer in Ohio" from The Last Five Years after it got a few laughs out of the panel.

Then I brought it home with my silly pieced together monologue from Company. It is a dialogue of sorts, but it totally makes sense if you just say one character's lines, because the character of Marta does not listen to a single word any one else has to say in the play. It worked for the room.

No words. Not so much as a 'thank you.' Just the same look on all of their faces as when I walked in; as if to say,
"We're waiting."
I ran to Starbucks [you're shocked] and texted my friend that there was about 40 people in the room. She texted me 'come back' because she had her appointment right at that time. So I walked back over to hear her audition [through the doors] and offer moral support. She, and the girl before her, sounded good and were asked to re-sing one of their pieces with some new direction from the panel.

More attention than I got.

I quickly realized, they were not 'waiting' for me at all this morning...they were waiting for girls who may have been a little bit 'healthily fatter' than I.

Um...did you not see how much leftover pumpkin pie I ate last night?

Have y'all gotten the egg nog out yet?! 
Oh my...I love it so...with a little bourbon...MMMM!

In conclusion: 
I'm going to keep working through "Woman" and bring it up to speed for January-March auditions. 

Perhaps work on that new monologue I picked out.

Hope 2014 is a good year to hire some twyn mommy singahs 'round here...


Monday, November 25, 2013

What you're missing

You know those cute little intro's at the beginning of every episode of Glee where they quickly recap everything that you've missed so you're all caught up whether you wanted to be or not? Here's my version.

While I'm preparing for the role of my life on Thanksgiving day as Martha-Stewart-wannabe I've begun and not completed several blog posts:

A tale of two stockings (hyuk hyuk)
I am the only member of my family of four without a stocking, so I decided to use the bag of old holey sweaters and make one for myself.
Mine's the one in the middle
Then I realized I attached the lining all wrong and it'll never hang quite right, so I started a second one for my mother-in-law using this tutorial from Cluck Cluck Sew and everything came out perfectly.
That's cashmere, bitches.
So I'm starting a third one for my mama! Wonder how many years it will take me to complete the entire family...

I think this would have been a great post for that "12 days of Christmas" blog hop or "Me projects", and yet, here are two photos and that's all you get.

Flywheel is craywheel.
Or crywheel.
Yeah, crywheel is better.
"Because you have several ways in which you would like to measure your own weaknesses."
Let's just say my bestie and I tried it and there were WAY too many ways to measure yourself in there (and your output.) The "torq-board", or leaderboard they occasionally flash on the screens, helped assure me a spot in the race for last, and proved my bestie shoulda put her name in the ring, as usual...[she would have crushed everyone, but whatevs.]
This would have been a nice fitness post, since I haven't had one in awhile and I know you guys were looking for a workout, just like my a$$! [may have been limping down the stairs later that day.]

Audition Reports to come
I'm working hard on some new pieces! For once, I know. They are not even 15 years old. They are, like, younger than the children! It's amaze-balls.
Audition the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend: not great.
Getting a headstart on my 2014 audition season material: priceless.

Boxes upon boxes.
The shop is heating up already for the holidays! I've been doing a lot of holiday shopping online so if I open a box and it's not a toy, but rather, some supply purchases, I'm like WTF...
Blog-followers, please enjoy 20% off during the holidays with coupon code HOLIDAY.

Yes, the shop has been super busy and yet, this happened.
Star Wars Pajamas for Baby Doll Boys??

Whatever makes him happy. That's what I do.
Hubby finished a project. Like, finished-finished. Not even HGTV-finished. Super-duper-mouldings-nailed-in-and-painted finished.
I mean, wouldn't a before and after montage be nice? Yea...you're getting this.

This girl: songstress.
I've been OBSESSED with my daughter's dance education lately.
 
I made her try another school, I've been attempting bribes...she just loves gymnastics. 

  

I have to let go of my projection of my love for dance onto her. Let her take gymnastics. Now, as for music-songwriting-singing...funny: I never even thought about it. I guess because I had no formal education before college...but there's something in her, for sure.



"And that's what you've missed on GLEE from ME!"

Sunday, November 24, 2013

sUn-edited: Better Together

As part of some cruel joke I couldn't sleep as of 5 am. So I gave up around 5:45 and came downstairs to watch a movie or something. I remembered I had the televised version of Ironman on my DVR from last weekend so I settled in for some good old fashioned triathlon-inspired heartbreak.

My son woke up around 7; my daughter around 7:15 and they finished watching it with me. Then, while I wiped away my tears and gave up trying to explain the awesomeness we had just witnessed, we promptly switched to watching the Wild Kratts.

The whole scene just got me thinking about the Kratt brothers and the family members I saw helping each other through the race. I also really enjoyed Hines Ward's journey [especially entertaining watching him fall while trying to clip in and out of his bike] and noticed how close he became with his trainer. I thought about my half-iron journey, and how alone I was. I designed my own training plan, I signed up for all the races leading up to it alone and mostly raced them alone; I set out on practice rides at the wrong time of day and put in my swim miles at the oddest times possible. I knew, at least this summer, with my four-year-olds at home most of the time, I would never be able to conform to a tri club's schedule. And I didn't want to overwhelm my husband with a trainer, even an online coach, after the expense of my triathlon habit had reached its pinnacle. [I have yet to remind him how much I could use a wetsuit for Christmas...he'd start calculating possible 2014 race registrations into his schematics.] And then, in those last two miles of the 70.9, I looked at the wide expanse of field in front of me and could not have felt more isolated from the rest of the world.

I did not like that feeling.

I think an independent spirit courses through my veins and most of my family's genetics.

It is very difficult for me to ask for help.

It is near impossible to do something for my mom. She is the worst patient ever.

And our family has its drama. That rebellious and stubborn Scotch-Irish-Choctaw-Sicilian heritage fights itself, sometimes within each person! Come to think of it, the Polish side of my family seems rather mellow comparatively.

But, at the moment, there is little togetherness. And even with my husband and I, we have always prided ourselves on a marriage of independence and mutual respect of each other's different desires and pursuits.

Watching the Ironman and the Kratt brothers...this silly combination makes me want to encourage my twyns to go forth into the world with a sense of that togetherness. I would think, if they grew up and decided to start a business together or something, that that would be an amazing show of our efforts as parents to get them to interact in the most constructive way possible. I'm always dumbfounded at siblings or twins who go to the same college. I think, "didn't you want to use this opportunity to get a little space? Aren't you your own person??"

But now I'm thinking, it could not be more positive.

I want my kids to see my husband and I barreling through life, tackling projects and achieving goals we have set for ourselves, but I want them to see that ultimately, we could not do anything without each other. That we are better together. That they, with or without families of their own, will always have a partner in crime, in business, in life.

And that is a very. good. thing.

Happy Sunday!
Is it a day of un-edited reflection for you as well? 
What are you thinking about?
Did you watch the Ironman on TV as well as online like this tri-geek? 


Friday, November 22, 2013

The girl's got the system down #funforFriday

Twyns, you are not even 5 yet. And I'm already dealing with "school is boring", atheism, not believing in things you don't see, and manipulating the system. All in the span of a five minute drive to school. What are the teenage years going to be like?!



On the drive to school this morning you got to talking about what you wanted for Christmas with Daddy.

The girl: I want a pink batgirl motorcycle with pink batgirl.
Daddy: Well I think it's only black, like your brother's.
The girl: Ok black.
Daddy: What else do you want from Santa?
The girl: Well I asked for a fairy house, but maybe I should ask for a human house.
Daddy: Why?
The girl: Well I'm not sure fairies are real.
Daddy: Why?
The girl: Well I've never seen them.
Daddy: Well there are a lot of things you haven't seen that are real. You haven't seen Santa Claus have you?
The girl: Yes I have he's at the mall.
Daddy: Ok well what about Jesus? Have you seen Jesus?
The girl: No.
Daddy: Well do you believe in Jesus?
The girl: Yes.
Daddy: What about God have you seen God?
The girl: Well I've seen a statue of Him.
Daddy: Well you believe in God, right?
The girl: Yes.
Daddy: See, you believe in a lot of things you haven't seen so I think fairies are probably real. What about you, little guy? Do you believe in Jesus?
The boy: No.
Daddy: You don't believe in Jesus??
The boy: No.
Daddy: Well what about God, you believe in God?
The boy: No.
You, girl, leaned into the boy and said: You're supposed to say yes to those!! I think he was just kidding. Weren't you just kidding, boy?
The boy: Yeah.
The girl: Was that a yes? I COULDN'T HEAR. WAS THAT A YES, BOY??

OH MY! I don't know which is scarier - his responses, her manipulation, or the whole subject matter!!

HAPPY FRIDAY!! 
HAPPY CLEAN-CLEAN-COOK-CLEAN BEFORE THE GUESTS START ROLLING IN!! 
Do you try out recipes before game day?? 
I'm going to attempt a sweet potato soup this year... 
pinned it here.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

So I didn't get the part...

So if you follow on Facebook, I gave up on "getting the call" Sunday night, since they so graciously emailed us after the callbacks to let us know they would be completing casting by Monday. Seriously- that level of information, although not much by most workplace standards, is much appreciated! I started to give up Friday night and began to look at the many things on my holiday list I could otherwise accomplish with my sanity intact.

I immediately assumed they chose a non-union actress. This is my new go-to excuse for not getting a part. It's very convenient. In my 20's, it used to be: "well I'll never be an ingenue- I'm a character type." "My voice doesn't match my age." "I'm not a chorus girl."

Now it's: "guess they went non-union."

But if I'm being really honest with myself, I don't exactly look the type. I mean, I know I can play a 35-year-old mom (I am one) from trailer-trash London, (I'm made from parts trailer-trash-South), but do I look it? Not really.

And I certainly don't look like the woman who played Sandra on film:

Uh, I'm referring to the one on the left.
So that may be another reason.

Also, of the 7-10 days they had listed for rehearsals before Christmas, I listed two "off" (for my kids' birthday- the "family" day and the "kiddie party" day.) Ten years ago I would have slapped myself across the face for that kind of thinking, but to me now, it makes perfect effin' sense. No effin' way am I letting some show get in the way of my twins' 5th birthday party. This is a BIG one. I remember my 5th. We only have these two little sweethearts; we have only had one other birthday party for them, when they were two. They may never want another one together for the rest of their lives. 

Here's how we spent their first birthday; under so much snow we couldn't go get the cake!
THIS. IS. THE. ONE! 

So I'm looking forward to that.

And, in the same weekend of constantly-checking-my-email, I got another audition notice that looked promising. 

And, it's primarily singing.

Contemporary music. 

And, it's for a woman in her late 30's/early 40's who "carries a little weight; has a wide vocal range and doesn't mind talking about her body."

So, that's, hello, ME.

So I've been Google-ing new audition pieces and using this excuse to get in touch with those "dream roles" I was talking about the other day. 

Here's the latest bumper crop of candidates: 

Anything that Stephanie J Block has played, including:
Grace O'Malley in Pirate Queen 

Anything that Karen Ziemba has played, including:
The Wife in Contact
Rita in Steel Pier
Morales in A Chorus Line 

Anything that Bernadette Peters has played, including: 
Dot in Sunday in the Park with George
The Witch in Into the Woods

All of the female parts from the musical Chess
All of the female parts from the musical 9 to 5
The Spiderwoman in Kiss of the Spiderwoman
The narrator in Joseph
The narrator in Pippin (now that a woman has actually played this role on Broadway, perhaps I can rip these songs back out of the back of my audition book.) 

Here's to another season of auditions! December is a little early, but the local theatres will start their season auditions in January (meaning: casting for the entire 2013-14 season in one audition per theatre), so it's time to start the prep & practice work.

And oh yeah, it's a week before Thanksgiving!! 
Are you going to come clean my house for my guests??
I think I don't even know what it's supposed to look like anymore.
Are you hosting??



Friday, November 15, 2013

twynmawrmom memes encore #funforFriday

I had a little fun with memes once before, thought I'd do some more:





Happy Friday! 
What's your latest favorite meme say?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 Ways to Improve Confidence

Whether it's mom-ing, tri-ing, quilting, or performing, I exude confidence.

This is not always a good thing.

'Cause I don't usually know what the eff I am doing.

I remember when, during one of my very first professional auditions, they asked me if I could play the drums.
"Of course. Not, like at a professional level, but yes."
They believed me, of course, and started whispering behind the table and audibly discussing when they could call me back to see such a skill. Probably also checking out the acne scars, the lack of make-up, the ill-experienced resume staring at them, and perhaps the ill-hidden look of terror steadily creeping over my face. I started to sweat, imagining myself taking the train up to my uncle's and pulling an all-nighter to study with him.
"Thanks. We'll let you know." And that was that.
It took me awhile [like: 20 years] to realize that I didn't need to [ineffectively] lie to people, because there were certain things I was actually good at, and just as the cliche dictates, the right opportunity would eventually come around [like: 20 years later.]

But recently I've had a few friends come out of the wood-work during a 'first' of theirs to ask me about it: either mom-ing, or sewing, or tri-ing, or even performing [what can I say, I inspire people to believe if I can do it, surely they can.] So I start to spew all that I know. Knowing I'm not an expert, but perhaps these friends realize that I'm going to give them the real deal: I'm confident in what I do know, and I'm also confident in what I don't know, and will be honest about both.

But what about things I don't write about? How about that geneticist I know who doesn't feel comfortable asking me about her latest discovery? And the mountain climber. Poor guy, he knows I'm from Florida, so he doesn't bother to ask. I'll address the root of any one thing in life: confidence, and how to bank on it.

1. Try something dumb
When you try something outside of your comfort zone, you feel dumb. Maybe it's a ballet class. Maybe it's escargot. Maybe it's an interview for a corporate finance position when you work in asset management. Weird. Dumb. Gives you a bad taste in your mouth. Makes you realize:
"Hey! I really suck at this. This is dumb. But I'm awesome at ...."
In more realistic terms, I found that the 70.3 was my dumb. I think that I could improve on my Olympic distance tri length time next year, and I will try. I'm not saying I might not also feel dumb at the end of that race, too, but then I get in my car and say to myself, "Yes but how many of those bitches can hit a high D?"

2. Believe that others are scared, too.
I cannot bear to follow blogs where the moms appear perfect to me. I also cannot bear to follow blogs where there are calamities 24/7. Everybody's in the same boat: we're all just discovering our own path in motherhood/parenting, and some days we hit upon something grand, and I will Google and StumbleUpon your grand moment. Other days, you gotta admit: no one's perfect. Isn't it always the self-help authors who are divorced with kids in therapy just two years after publishing? I don't know...I like to believe so. So when you find something works for you: don't think it an accident. You did something right, and you are perfectly capable of doing that something right. But conversely, when you look upon your two-year-old who has just ground his own poop all over the shore rental's carpet, walls, and doors, fear not: other mothers want to throw their child up against the wall in this moment as well. Yes - we think about never having had children - we think about taking the next train out West - we think about neighbors and teachers we know who would be better suited to professionally care for our children - we have doubts. You're not alone. Be confident in your feelings. Don't throw your child upon against the wall - but be confident you're not the only one to have ever experienced this emotion.

3. Try believing yourself right first.

Hubby and I watched the best documentary on NetFlix the other night: Somm.

  

It's about a group of Sommeliers who are taking the "Master Somm" exam. You are only allowed to take it once a year, and only about 5% pass it on any given year, so many are re-taking it. This is a movie ALL about confidence. You have to believe you have this natural born skill to smell and taste a million different variations, but you also have to hone that skill and train that skill to its finest point for accuracy. In one scene, one of the candidates is so confident in his tasting that he vehemently opposes the proctor's declaration of the wine he has just tasted. He believes the proctor switched two bottles of wine between the two glasses he just tasted. He leaves a trial tasting believing himself right first. You watch him fight the master/proctor and have to admire his confidence. He is living life right. Anyone who is successful believes themselves to have a good plan, a good idea, a good way of doing things. They believe themselves right. And half the time, even if they are not right, they get away with it! You leave the conversation/meeting/race thinking they are amazing. You believe them, too. Conversely, there are people in life who never think they are right! They may have a genius IQ but always second-guess what they are doing. Those are the ones whose bright ideas are wasting away in a their brains instead of coming out into the world and living. Try trusting you are right. Yes. You did read that fact. Yes. You did know the answer to that problem.
"Yes, child, I am your mother and I, for a fact, know that you need gloves this morning, bitch!"
4. Try saying yes.
This is a fun improv game we actors often play. You get in a circle, or on a stage, and whatever your fellow actor throws at you in the scene: "Oh my love, my loins burn for you but the fire-breathing dragon behind you burns deeper", you have to go along with. You say: "Yes, and..." and add something new to the scene: "Yes, and... the dragon is my lover. So you cannot have me until you slay him."It brings you to new heights in life. It allows you to expand the scene, the plot, and the world you are creating rather than cutting down what someone has just created, and making the imaginary world smaller and less dense. If I said, "There is no dragon behind me; you are mistaken." Where could we go next? I'd have to create a whole new world from scratch. I think this is a fun way to live life. In conversation, in parenting, in traveling: there is no reason not to go forward with an idea, rather than cutting it down to a smaller size. I fantasize about being those parents who allows the children to pick a spot on the map for the family vacation and drive to it. Or, even if my kids just want to dance, I make it a dance party. Yes, and a dance party with commentary. Yes and commentary that alternates between family members with a microphone. Yes and the microphone and now piano playing too...and so on and so on...

5. Never stop changing.
People are amazing. People are dynamic. Understanding that things change, life changes, circumstances change, before they happen, will give you the confidence to face anything. You will not be living this same life tomorrow. You may feel trapped in Groundhog Day, but you aren't. Think about life a year ago. Imagine those changes a year from now. Nothing stays stagnant. If you wake up with that knowledge, there is opportunity around you. I usually go to the grocery store and get the same things every time, but I keep my head up. There is sometimes something new! Sometimes?! Not all the time, and it's not like the grocery store is an exciting place, but one new spice on your spice rack may wake up one new sense in your family's palette at dinner that night and remind them that life is not always the same. My silly example: hubby and I went to Home Depot last Friday night to pick out the flooring for the bathroom remodel we are doing. He was going to use the same product he did in the basement, because he really liked it.
"The Easiest Floor Ever!", literally, on the box.
I wasn't 100% sure on the color, but he knew we needed to get this done by Thanksgiving, and any other color was going to be special-order. But we needed to see it in person and discuss. Lo and behold, his usual in-stock color was not on the shelf. It was out of stock. I was going to ask someone to help us find it 'in the back', but my husband gets frustrated with me "HOME DEPOT DOES NOT HAVE A BACK." He often tells me. So now we were faced with having to order something we haven't seen in person and wait a week for it to come in, or use a different product. We went down a different aisle to peruse the other products. I looked up, and saw a few boxes of the product he liked. We asked a stockperson to come help us decipher it, and it was a special order return of the espresso color I had been eye-ing!! AT A REDUCED PRICE! I'm sorry, it may seem silly, but to me this was a perfect win of confidence-meets-opportunity. It was a win-win-win. I kept my eyes open, I looked around me, and not only did we get the product my husband liked, in the color I preferred, but we also got it at a reduced price.

Believe an answer is in front of you. Believe in your abilities to do something. Believe you are right. [That baby totally needs a nap; you know this to be true.] It is the only way to live.

Don't get me wrong - I have my blah days - I have my doubts - ALL THE TIME. But then something comes around to make you feel confident in yourself and you have to LET IT. I'm sure I will find out I did not get the part I auditioned for last weekend - and feel blah again. But for this week - the week of anticipation - I feel confident that I did well and that someone half-wanted me [for that callback], so I'm all juiced up and ready to serve you up a plate of brass balls.

TAKE 'EM.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Audition Report #2

In continuing my audition report series, which hasn't gotten very far in six months as I've had a) other projects and b) no roles to suit me 'round here! But this one...this listing, I could not resist.

It was for Beautiful Thing, a play I performed in college. A role I performed in college, of a mother whose gay son comes out to her, and although I was not age appropriate for that role at the time, I am now! So I kavetched about auditioning, as you may recall, and then I went.

What the h, right?

PART A: INITIAL AUDITION
So the kids had a birthday party to go to which was great because I couldn't linger on my monologue all day. I dropped them home and dashed back out to the city, parked and had 10 minutes to spare.

Waiting in the lobby of the Adrienne Theatre spaces I sign in and try to relax. I pee three times. I text hubby and bestie "Glasses no glasses." Consensus was glasses. When they call my name, on my way through the door I ask the monitor girls "Jacket no jacket." They assure me it's warm down in the lower level, so I leave it behind.

Still memorizing monologue...creating neumonic structures in my mind as I head down the stairs...

There are three people in the room; two men behind a table and one woman in a seat beside them. The "main" guy, whom I later learn to be the head of musical theatre at Temple University, introduces the other two, which goes straight in one of my ears and out the other while I smile and nod and hope I don't choke. Scratch that, it didn't even go in one ear to be lost out the other side. This is all about me, not you, people! I'll meet you when you hire me!

He asks me something to the effect of what monologue will I be performing? And for some reason in this very moment in time I cannot for the life of me remember if the character's name in Pygmalion is the same as it is in My Fair Lady, which is Eliza, of course, but not being too sure I kind of mumble the "Eh" and more clearly articulate the "Liza." And then I say "Pygmalion" and he nods and says,
"Oh for a minute there I thought you meant LIZA as in MINNELI!" 
to which I respond with a few high kicks with jazz hands and proclaim,
"Well that would probably be much better actually!"
Then on with the show. I get my monologue out, hear a few chuckles, don't murder the accent completely, and then he prompts me to chat about the play a little, as I've listed in the info/conflicts sheet that I performed the role of Sandra before. Since I know the character, he asks me to act as her performing the same monologue from Pygmalion, but after a few beers, as Sandra is known to do.
"Have fun with it!" he says.
So I improv. The accent is a little worse, the monologue lines are coming to my brain a little slower, but overall, I did have 'fun', so to speak.

He asks me if I'm free the next night at 6 for callbacks, and I say,
"What is tomorrow? Sunday? Ok yes!" and he winks.
So I feel great; feel like I showed my knowledge and abilities for the day and yet, still a bit insecure that I did not get an official callback yet...wait and see...get home around 6 and go about mom-ing, feeding kids, putting them to bed as hubby continues bathroom remodel (post to come.) (hopefully.)

My hot Friday night date: buying a toliet!!
I get an email at 7:55 PM re: the callback for the next day and the scenes we will be reading. Yay! Oh sh**. What if I actually get this part. Ok calm down, still more to go...

PART B: THE CALLBACK
Feeling justified in my choice to actually audition, I write a reminder to myself that buzzes on me right as I walk around the corner to the theatre:
"Remember you [as subject of event]- are an actress; be grounded in your professional abilities. [as address of event]"
This was a nice little note to myself. I remember this is something that I like to do, that I'm good at it, and that people actually pay me to do it because I'm that.good.

I walk in and see at least three other "Sandra" types in the lobby and the monitor coming down the stairs, upon seeing me, says, "Great! You're all here." She tells me she will be pairing me up with another actor to read through the first scene. I go to pee two times.

I meet him, shake his hand and ask what part he is reading for, thinking he might be playing my boyfriend, and he says, no, he is reading for one of the teenage boy parts.

Because I'm now old and am playing the real mom parts and can't distinguish from teenage boys and men who should be playing my romantic opposite. HARSH.

We read through twice and head upstairs to a different rehearsal room, get ready to do our thing for the director. He is now sitting with another woman and introduces her as a casting director of sorts. I say "of sorts" because he also made some joke about 'they don't trust me to make the decisions alone' and now I really like him. He gives us some insight into the scene and gives us a heads up that we may do it a few times. We read through once and he gives us direction to do it bigger, especially for me. This scene involves a mom reacting to a neighbor boy being hit by his family, and I'm both angry about having to deal with it and the fact that I've just learned my son is gay and may be dating this boy. So I go big or go home. And we are sent out.

I'm paired with another boy to read a second scene. We all found different corners and spaces to rehearse for the first scene, but now for this second round all of the Sandra's and Jaime's and Ste's are all just spewing out Southeast London accents and emotion and rage willy-nilly throughout the space. I can hear the other women and although it is likely they were just marking their emotions and accents during rehearsal, I begin to feel more confident in my knowledge of the character. There is no way Sandra would be toned-down and warm. She's a mess. A bar wench. She only reluctantly gives in to being a mother. And then I chuckle at myself for trying to own this part; I never did before. And here I am holding my actual script instead of photocopied sides...show-off!

The second pairing is reading a much more emotional scene; the one in which Jamie is coming out to his mother. My fellow actor and I discuss it as we are practicing it and we agree to GO BIG. We perform the scene once for the director and I feel like we are all crying by the end of it. No need to do it again. No need to see anything else. We all need a minute. The director tells him "Boy, she sounded like your mom, didn't she?" And he laughs and agrees. Something special did happen in that room. I found a new take on the scene; and I don't know if that actor was actually gay or not, but he was definitely in touch with that emotion of coming out. On our way out the door the actor tells me that the director knows his mom. I smile. Perhaps I am the only actress here who is actually a mom.

And as my friend would say, "Yeah because all the other parents are home with their families, jackass!!"

We got an email saying casting would be completed by Monday. So...I'll let ya know, of course! Follow me on Facebook or Twitter if you'd like the blow-by-blow-up-to-the-minute-surprises!!

Ever been show-boating in a competitive environment?!?!
COME ON, you know you have!




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