Monday, August 02, 2010

Do Something New

I know most of you out there still have another month or two of summer but I can't shake the feeling that we're wrapping things up around here.

School starts on the 18th (just over two weeks away, can you believe it?) and the weather all season has been so drippy, cold, cloudy and un-summery that it hardly feels as if we're giving much up by letting August go without a fight.

However, about this time every year we start to evaluate how our summer--was it fun? Quiet? Thrilling? How does it compare to previous years and despite our dismal failure to get any kind of heat the kids have universally agreed that this year's summer has been one of the best.

I've given it some thought and I think it's because they've done so many new things. Grace got her first ride in a small airplane (a Super Cub to be exact) and she had her first real job, working for the city in their youth employment program where the teens form a chain gang, improving parks and trails around town. But . . . some days, instead of working in the mud, they get paid to ride the train, go rafting, go hiking and do rope courses--all in the beauty of Alaska. Yea, I know what you're thinking. Nice work if you can get it.

So in between building a rain garden at Westchester Lagoon she's been all over the area having fun and enjoying the outdoors then collecting her check at the end of the week. For the final week they've set up a mentor program for each kid so that Grace gets to be mentored at Fire Island Bakery to learn about the trade. I think I'd like to get a job at parks and rec then hang out at a bakery all week.

Besides Grace's adventures, Spencer had his first small airplane ride as well where he went pike fishing at Alexander lake and then all of the kids began taking archery lessons. Thanks to our wonderful local Northwest Archers club which offered free archery classes, every Saturday these past two months we've been down at Kincaid park shooting and playing Robin Hood.

They provide the equipment, range and instruction then it's open to anyone wanting to shoot and I was surprised how much the kids loved it. I thought they'd go once then get it all out of their system but every Saturday they wake up, wanting to know if we're going to archery class. At first I was content to let them do all the shooting but after being openly mocked and called chicken by the guys running the show I decided to step up and show them what I'd got. Which, turns out, isn't much. But that's not the point. The point is, it was fun to be trying something new.

I've played the piano since I was in first grade but about six months ago the people at church got this bright idea. Since our congregation has many people who know how to play the piano but few who know how to play the organ (which is, of course, the accompaniment of choice at church) they arranged for the one person who knows how to play the organ to give the pianists organ lessons.

I'll tell you right now I wasn't thrilled with the idea because you know what happens the minute you know how to play the organ? You're playing the organ. I prefer to just go to church and sing very poorly, thank you very much. But it took all of one lesson for me to get into it--we learned about the stops and manuals, the diapason and presets and everything in between and once I finally gathered my courage and tried playing an actual instrument where you use both hands and both feet at the same time I got a huge kick out of it.

Soon I was going over to the church to practice the mornings and I'd secretly turn up the volume to the maximum then push all the stops and let her rip. And let me tell you--you haven't heard Rock of Ages until you've heard it at 120 decibels.

My point is, as I close up this long and rambling sad excuse for a post: when was the last time you tried something new? I'm a creature of habit and order and regimen but stepping out of the comfort zone and trying something new has made all the difference in how my summer has been. The only question now is what should I try next?

P.S. Don't let those pictures with their tiny glint of sunlight fool you--it really has been the rainiest, drippiest summer I can remember--I'm sure they're just anomalies and that was the only ray of light we've seen in three months. I'm sure of it.

Sponsored by the perfect school in your area.


Lucy said...

Yup. Know all about the 'playing of the organ' at church. I've been doing it since I was 13. I don't mind it, but it puts you into a corner you can't get out of easily.

Carinne said...

My kids really liked archery too. I just couldn't take them because I didnt' have anyone to watch the little kids most Saturdays, so I couldn't sit with them. Isabel really missed it. Maybe we'll try again next year.

liz said...

That is a FABULOUS way to spend the summer. We are amazingly lucky to live in Alaska, even with the rain. Fairbanks has had it better than you, although it is smoky out today.

I want to try...bagpipe lessons. But I've haven't gotten up the courage yet. If you can play the organ maybe I can do it, though! We'll see... :)

Reno said...

I've played the piano for years but last month became one of the organists for church. I need lessons. All I know is I push #3 for prelude and the sacrament hymn. Push #4 for the opening and closing songs. And don't let my feet touch the pedals. As I mentioned- I need lessons.

Jenna said...

You crack me up! I'm laughing at the image of you alone in the chapel blasting the hymns. When I was a young mother with little children, my bishop called me to be the ward organist. I had NEVER in my LIFE played an organ. I told him so, and he put his hand on my shoulder and told me he had great faith in me. And that was that. Oh, my. I learned some "cheater buttons" in the beginning that did the pedals for me, but slowly I learned enough to get by and it was great fun! I had my own key, and I would go down during the week to practice.

Mrs. Organic said...

More vlogging.

I've always wanted to do the Thoreau thing and hole up somewhere in the woods on a personal writing retreat. I don't think I'd know how to handle the alone time.

Minnesota Mamaleh said...

lovin the homage to creative summer-ing because in reality? it goes way. too. freakin. fast!

i'm terrified (yes, terr-i-fied) to let my 4 year old try archery. no, not b/c she's 4 but because she's who she is. my other two though? would rock this activity!

i found you today on ima bima and have been reading ever since. my kids thank you (yes, you!) for their alone time. :)

love what you do!!