ACDA National HS Honors Choir

ACDA National HS Honors Choir

This week, our youngest son is out in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is performing in the National High School Honors Choir. To say that I am proud of Tim and his accomplishment is an understatement. Right now, I am wishing that I were there to hear the concert and marvel at the achievement. That was just not in the cards. He has had, best as I can tell from messages and quick phone calls, an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. I absolutely CANNOT wait until he comes home so I can hear all about it in person.

He was selected from approximately 4,000 high school choral students to be a part of the 300 person national high school honors choir for the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA). The group is performing this afternoon as a group and then will perform this evening in a mass choir with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. He is one of three students from his high school and one of the five from the state of Vermont chosen following the auditioning process.  It is quite an honor. We are very proud of him.

We at our high school are blessed to have an amazing, dedicated choral teacher who goes above and beyond with our children. She sees their potential and helps them achieve things that they would never have even attempted without her guidance. We are grateful for all her time and effort, particularly since this week, she spent her birthday away from her own children to be with ours.

Here is the article that appeared in the local newspaper about the students and their experience.

From the Herald – NORTH CLARENDON — When the lights go up, the silence of anticipation will be broken by the thundering sound of 300 voices filling the air with song.
And three of those 300 voices will belong to Mill River Union High School seniors.
The students — Tim Heffernan, Katherine Bullock and Christian Brand — make up a tiny fraction of the nearly 4,000 students who auditioned for the 2015 National American Choral Directors’ Association Honor Choirs in Salt Lake City, Utah.
This weekend, the trio will spend several days rehearsing with the most talented vocal artists in the nation, and finish off the weekend with three performances. Roughly 6,000 people will be in attendance at those performances.
“It’s amazing and completely overwhelming to think of that many people listening to us sing,” said Brand.
Kristin Cimonetti, vocal teacher at the school, said this event is the highest honor of its kind that a high school student can achieve.
“It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “It’s very competitive and there is no other choral event of this caliber in the country.”
Each student who auditioned had to use the same piece of music and record it electronically.
Each recording was then put under the audio microscope by a panel of judges who made decisions of elimination, whittling the 4,000 audition recordings down to a mere 300.
The blip of music was only about 40 seconds long, but the students rerecorded for hours, trying to get the perfect clip.
“We didn’t even listen to the final result,” said Bullock. “It’s too nerve-wracking, and you’ll never be completely satisfied with how you sound.”
Cimonetti was the one who listened with great detail to each of their recordings and ultimately made the final decision on which one to send to the judges.
“I listened for little glitches, like a breath that lasted slightly longer than it should,” she said. “But in the end, it all worked out.”
The recordings were sent in November, but the students didn’t learn the results until a couple of months later.
“It was like waiting to hear from college applications, but worse,” said Heffernan, laughing.
Each said that when they did get their results back, the feeling was unreal.
“I saw the email on my phone and I just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know if I trusted such good news,” said Brand, who read the email while walking down the street. The shock of it all caused him to abruptly stop walking, causing what he called a backup of foot traffic behind him.
“I was certain it was a trick,” he said.
But as the initial shock wore off, the students realized they had some serious work ahead of them.
They were each mailed a series of songs they needed to learn for the performances.
And they needed to learn them by heart.
Just because they had gotten into the choir didn’t mean they were out of the hot seat.
At the first rehearsal in Salt Lake, judges will walk through the rows of students, listening intently as they sing, eliminating anyone who doesn’t sound up to par.
“It may seem harsh, but it ensures quality performance,” Cimonetti said. “It holds everyone accountable.”
But each of the Mill River students have been dedicated to practicing in preparation for the event.
“We’ll absolutely be practicing on the plane ride, too,” said Bullock. “I actually feel bad for the people sitting next to us. We’ll be singing the whole time.”
While the three students said they feel a sense of pride, they all know they could not haven accomplished any of this without the help of Cimonetti.
But Cimonetti modestly shook off the compliment, saying the students were the ones bursting with talent.
“I really do think we will all be changed after this performance,” said Heffernan.
bryanna.allen

Photo: Rutland Herald

Photo: Rutland Herald

While Oregon got a great deal of media attention when a young woman, Brittany Maynard, decided to use its law to end her life when she was dying of cancer last year; Vermont was actually the first state to have its legislature pass an aid in dying law. Vermont’s law permits a capable terminally ill adult to request and obtain lethal drugs which the person can self administer in an effort to hasten the patient’s imminent death.  Vermont’s law is a stepped version which has a series of patient protections in place that must be complied with that will cease to exist in 2016. Those protections put in place in the bill in an effort to garner the legislative support necessary to pass the measure provides:

— A requirement for a psychiatric evaluation if there is any indication that a patient requesting lethal medication has impaired judgment

— A 15-day waiting period between a patient’s first and second request for the medication

— A waiting period after the last request before the doctor actually writes a prescription for the lethal drug.

Upon the expiration of these so-called patient protections, the discussion regarding the end-of-life decision of a terminally ill patient becomes a private conversation between a patient and his or her doctor. There are those who are concerned that government should still be involved in the discussion, not really trusting that the patient-physician relationship would sufficiently address concerns.

According to articles written on the issue following the passage of Vermont’s law, “after July 1, 2016, the law will protect physicians from civil or criminal liability, and from professional misconduct charges.” Despite the changes that are set to occur in 2016, there still needs to be informed consent on the part of the patient so doctors are required to inform a terminally ill patient of all the options including hospice and palliative care. Ultimately, though, the issue is still a decision to be made by the patient in conjunction with his or her doctor.

The issue of whether or not the patient “protections” that are presently in place should be continued past 2016 is a discussion that is currently taking place in Vermont. If this issue touches you or someone in your family, perhaps now is the time to voice your opinion.

Today was a beautiful sunny day. We hear that there is a winter storm, with blizzard warnings headed our way. So, tomorrow we might need to hunker down, but today was a great day to be outside enjoying all that sunshine.

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cq5dam.thumbnail.319.319Too often, we hear blog posts and FB posts about horrific customer service. I need to share this story because I recently experienced some wonderful customer service and folks need to hear about when things go right, not just when they go wrong.

We have a lock on our door manufactured by a company called Schlage. It is a keyless lock that uses a numerical pad instead of a key. We love it and couldn’t imagine going back to the “carrying your house key days” ever again. There was just one problem. One of the number buttons used to enter the access code to unlock the door became loose and fell off. The first time this happened, we found it in our mudroom on the floor and pushed it back into the empty slot. The second time, we weren’t so lucky and we lost the number (we assume) in the newly fallen snow outside of our door. White button, white snow – there was no way despite our best efforts that this was going to be found until at least spring. The loss of the number itself wouldn’t even had been that big of a deal because the lock still worked, except it was one of the numbers in our access code to unlock the door and in the master code to program the door. So, without that number, we couldn’t get into our house and we couldn’t reprogram the lock to change to the access code to another number that didn’t require the missing digit.

I called the customer support number for Schlage and the woman who spoke to me was wonderful. I asked her if there was a way to get a replacement digit. She told me that unfortunately there was not. However, after a few short minutes on the phone with her, I was assured there was another of the exact same lockset on its way with her sincere profound apologies that we were inconvenienced by having to use the actual (gasp) key to access the door in the 7-10 days that it would take for the replacement to arrive.

The replacement lock came exactly one week later and I am happy to report that we are back to using our keyless entry. If anyone is looking for a lock (keyless or not) I highly recommend Schlage. Their customer service and their keyless entry locks are both wonderful.

 

P1010201The beginning of this week, our anniversary evening was cold and windy. The end of the week, today, is also cold and windy. While the temperatures both those days pale in comparison to the temperatures we had mid week, it is still pretty darn cold. Wednesday into Thursday here we had a low temperature without wind chill of -14 and with the wind chill of -30. Some places were checking in with even colder temperatures running closer to -20 without taking into account the wind chill. Definitely the weather to stay hunkered down in your fleece pjs or if you needed to venture out, your flannel lined jeans. Lots of eskimo looking folks wandering around like the stay put marshmallow man – yours truly included with them.

None of this though seems to hold a candle to the place reported by the Weather Channel as being the coldest recorded temperatures for an inhabited area on the earth. That distinction goes to Oymyakon, Russia where the average winter temperatures (average, okay?) are around -50. The coldest recorded temperature in the town was back in 1924 and registered -96 degrees. Here’s a link to the website which has some pretty amazing photos, especially of those Russian folks bundled to the hilt.

Stay warm.

Yesterday was considerably colder and windier than the same day 23 years ago when a certain someone got married. I remember how much I fretted over the fact that I was sure that our big day was going to be snowed out due to some horrific, world ending blizzard. If I asked the banquet manager once, I probably asked the poor guy at least a dozen times how things would be handled if the weather was less than cooperative. I know, several of you probably ask, ‘then why the hell did you decide to get married in January?’ Good question. We decided after 11 years of dating that our wedding day should be close to the date of our first date. Since Friday and Saturday evenings were considerably more expensive than a Sunday evening and we were paying for our own wedding, January 5th was the date we decided upon. Turns out in the end, all that worrying was for naught, since the day was beautiful and sunny. Not particularly cold considering January.

We had a great wedding, at least that’s what everyone has told me. Most of that day for me is a blur of pictures, hugs, laughter and that smile that I was sure would have to be surgically removed from my face. Today, 23 years ago, we were in beautiful British Columbia embarking on a winter wonderland honeymoon skiing at Whistler Blackcomb. Here are some pictures from so long ago.

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The whole wedding gang

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Whistler Blackcomb

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Honeymoon selfie in our condo

Hard to believe that 23 years have passed. So much has happened in that time, littering the road that we call life. Good and bad, happy and sad. I have three great sons that make my heart swell a hundred times larger than its normal size with pride. I have great friends and family who were so kind to extend such heartfelt and wonderful anniversary wishes. I have an adorable little puppy who can make me smile. I have a good guy by my side -he’s pretty okay.

Hope the turning of the calendar page finds you and yours well. Remember to be thankful for what you have and celebrate it always, not just with a special day on the calendar.

 

It is definitely difficult to get everyone in the same place at the same time these days. Gone are the days when I plopped the boys in their Sunday best down for Christmas pictures. In the last few years, I actually had to let go of the Christmas card idea since getting a picture with everyone (or at least all the boys) that wasn’t from the summer or graduation has been damn near impossible.  Since every year, I stare longingly at all the wonderful family photos that everyone posts, on Christmas Eve after mass I attempted to get a family picture. If nothing else, it’s good for some laughs. Hope your Christmas was merry and bright and you got to share it with those you love and cherish. After all, that’s what matters, the pictures will eventually come…..

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IMG_4095Well, it certainly was breathtakingly beautiful this morning. The snow blanketed trees and turned things into a winter wonderland. The downside is that to look that good, the snow is very wet and heavy. The trees were bowing graciously under the weight of the snow, but some succumbed to the heaviness and there are many branches and whole trees that are down. This has caused the inevitable, power outages. We were more fortunate that some, our power went out around 3:45 this morning. Others have been without power since Tuesday when the storm first hit. There are, last I heard about 38,000 people without power and there are lots of folks working hard to get us all back online.

Nothing to do but look to the bright side. We have oil lamps, candles, our headlamps and a warm woodstove. We are luckier than a lot of people.

P1080896The Nor’easter that is paying us a visit for a while longer (snow is forecast through Thursday) has already dropped well over a foot of snow. It is the heavy, wet snow, perfect for building snowmen and snow forts. Last night it was falling in giant clumps of snow, and while I type this there is a lull, although we are forecast to get another 2-5 inches today and another 1-3 inches this evening.

There are a lot of people without power because, the snow is wet and heavy. Last night we had several blips of power but so far, we are still connected.

I love a good snowstorm, there is something magical about snow, particularly when you wake up to it. I know there are a lot of folks out there that would disagree, but give me this, okay? Put aside your grumblings and just take a good look at how beautiful Mother Nature can make everything when she puts on her winter coat.

Happy Snow Day!

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Being less than diligent is dangerous particularly as it relates to a food allergy. It has been years, literally, since our son had an allergic reaction to a food. Things have gone so smoothly that it went from being foremost in my mind when he’s going out or I’m cooking and that is a dangerous thing. He started with an allergy to eggs and strawberries and grew out of both of those only to grow into a new set of allergies months later with the onset on adolescence. The new allergies were white fish, sesame, tree nuts and peanuts. The idea that we had narrowly escaped so many episodes with any one of those was enough to throw me into a bit of tailspin. Asian food was scrutinized for sesame, fishes, fish sauces were avoided and nuts, well nuts and peanuts were forbidden. The other night seizing the opportunity to make a bean soup (since my husband can’t eat beans and he was away), I grabbed the package of bean soup mix — you know the one containing the dried beans and seasoning to which I added my own onions, celery, tomato and chicken. The soup cooked all day on the stove and smelled delicious. Accompanied by some fresh homemade bread, it would be a delicious dinner.

A few mouthfuls into the meal, I noticed that my son had stopped eating. Very unlike my son and very unlike most teenage boys I know. My question was answered with another “are there lentils in this soup?” Why yes, I do believe that the package contained lentils in addition to several types of white beans. Well, within a short period of time everything went from okay to not so much okay. Benadryl was distributed. His throat was tight and he was queasy – two of his telltale allergy signs from when he was as young as 18 months (he is quickly approaching 18 years). Without giving it any thought at all, turns out I had almost done the poor kid in.

Sure enough, giving a little research I learned that peanuts, lentils, soy, peas and chickpeas are all related in the family known as legumes — damn I knew that too, but I just wasn’t thinking. A person with a peanut allergy is 80% likely to have an allergy to one of these other legumes and 60% likely to have an allergy to at least three. Legumes account for some of the most severe allergic reactions to food. Cross reactions are common with legume allergies evidently so given his peanut allergy, it is not unusual that he is also allergic to lentils and could possibly be allergic to other legumes such as chickpeas and soy. While other beans, like the white beans in the soup are also legumes, these beans and green beans are less likely to be the subject of a food allergy. Peas, now peas are another thing. He has an itchiness in his throat when he eats fresh peas or canned or frozen, so peas are on the list in this house. Now, evidently, lentils are as well.

He is fine now, although mom is scarred. In an attempt to make a nice dinner for us, I almost spent the evening in the emergency room and it could have been so much worse.  That will teach me.

So, a word of warning to other with food allergies or family members with food allergies – be diligent.

Today, with all its beautiful sunshine, makes the colors that are emerging on the trees even more beautiful. It seems that each day the colored foliage is more and more prevalent. Now, the mountains are clearly dotted with yellows, reds and oranges.

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The colors are coming on fast and furious. Every day it seems that there is more and more color in the mountains.  There is serious doubt around our house that there will be any leaves really left on the trees for the leaf peepers that arrive on Columbus Day weekend. In fact, taking a look of the wind blowing around today any of those leaves that have already turned are dropping at a high rate of speed from the trees.

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