Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Thoroughly Enjoyed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Tonight inPhoenix

When our first was born, one of the things Bo talked about was taking him to the circus.  We have been so fortunate the last few years to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus when it comes through Phoenix every summer.  We attended opening night tonight for their Legends show tonight, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves!  The show was exciting and the performers flawless!  Nate absolutely loves the motorcycles that drive around in the metal globe, so he was excited to see that they were in the show again this year.  He also spent a lot of time chuckling at the clowns.  They sure do a great job of keeping your attention and amusement while crews set up other areas of the stage!

You still have time to get tickets!  The show will be in Phoenix through Sunday, and you can check out this post for details on times and how to buy tickets.

Lydia especially enjoyed the circus tonight, and tried to video a good chunk of it on her little camera phone so she could share with Grandma tomorrow.  Here's what she had to say:

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.*

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Circus is Coming to Phoenix!

If you've been around here for a while, you know how much my family enjoys the circus!  We are very excited to see the latest Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show, Legends, when it comes to Phoenix from June 25 - 30, 2014.

We will be there opening night, cheering on the clowns and amazing aerial acts. If you want to go, I can offer you a $5 discount on tickets.  Just use the code MOMSAVE at to save $5 per ticket.  (Valid for all shows. Only one discount can be applied. Not valid on Ringmaster or VIP seats.)

One of the things my kids especially love is the All Access Show that you can attend before the actual show begins.  Performers and animals fill the arena, and are accessible to everyone.  My kids always love getting a picture with a clown when we go.

If you want to go, the show will be at US Airways Center from June 25 - 30, 2014.  Tickets can be purchased through  Here are the specifics:

Wednesday, June 25 – Monday, June 30
Wednesday, June 25 7:00 PM
Thursday, June 26 11:00 AM & 7:00 PM
Friday, June 27 11:00 AM & 7:00 PM
Saturday, June 28 11:00 AM, 3:00 PM & 7:00 PM
Sunday, June 29 12:00 PM & 4:00 PM
Monday, June 30 11:00 AM

WHERE: US Airways Center – 201 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, AZ 85004

TICKETS: Ticket prices range from $20, $25, $45 (VIP) and $105 (Ringmaster Zone)
Opening Night tickets are just $15! (select seating only; not valid on VIP/premium levels)
All seats are reserved; tickets available thru, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or visit the US Airways Center Box Office.

*Disclosure: I am a Feld Family Ambassador, and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I receive these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine.*

2014 National Stuttering Awareness Week

Who knew when I had Nate, that his birthday would fall during National Stuttering Awareness Week and he would stutter?  Nobody!  But, it does!  This week is National Stuttering Awareness Week and today is Nate's 12th birthday.

Nate is extremely kind, compassionate, intelligent and giving.  He loves his family and will do just about anything for his siblings. He has a strong love of soccer, and plays his hardest on his club soccer team.  He loves to serve on the altar at Mass, and his favorite role is carrying the crucifix during Mass. He's also musical, and excited that we are looking for a string bass for him to call his own this summer.

He is my selfie partner, the child who will always care for me when I'm not feeling well, and is the most empathetic of my three children. He will go out of his way to make sure others feel included.  He is a thinker, and is always considering how others feel, as well as how things work.

Today, we made a video about stuttering in honor of National Stuttering Awareness Week.  Here it is!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Habit is the hand that shapes the heart by Dmitri Shostakovich

Habit is the hand that shapes the heart.A soul becomes the soldier of its faith.Peace prevails through courage and by art.Pride is vanity, the preacher saith.Yet love is sky to mountains and to seas.Evil and good lie blissful in its arms.All may find that joy with equal ease,Sunlight radiant above life's storms.The character is written on the faceEven as the soul receives its grace,Restored to innocence and on its knees.

Turn off the TV! by Bruce Lansky

Turn Off the TV!

My father gets quite mad at me;
my mother gets upset—
when they catch me watching
our new television set.

My father yells, “Turn that thing off!”
Mom says, “It’s time to study.”
I’d rather watch my favorite TV show
with my best buddy.

I sneak down after homework
and turn the set on low.
But when she sees me watching it,
my mother yells out, “No!”

Dad says, “If you don’t turn it off,
I’ll hang it from a tree!”
I rather doubt he’ll do it,
’cause he watches more than me.

He watches sports all weekend,
and weekday evenings too,
while munching chips and pretzels—
the room looks like a zoo.

So if he ever got the nerve
to hang it from a tree,
he’d spend a lot of time up there—
watching it with me.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Zucchini Shofar by Sarah Lindsay

Zucchini Shofar

No animals were harmed in the making of this joyful noise:
A thick, twisted stem from the garden
is the wedding couple's ceremonial ram's horn.
Its substance will not survive one thousand years,
nor will the garden, which is today their temple,
nor will their names, nor their union now announced
with ritual blasts upon the zucchini shofar.
Shall we measure blessings by their duration?
Through the narrow organic channel fuzzily come
the prescribed sustained notes, short notes, rests.
All that rhythm requires. Among their talents,
the newlyweds excel at making
and serving mustard-green soup and molasses cookies,
and taking nieces and nephews for walks in the woods.
The gardener dyes eggs with onion skins,
wraps presents, tells stories, finds the best seashells;
his friends adore his paper-cuttings—
"Nothing I do will last," he says.
What is this future approval we think we need;
who made passing time our judge?
Do we want butter that endures for ages,
or butter that melts into homemade cornbread now?
—the note that rings in my deaf ear without ceasing,
or two voices abashed by the vows they undertake?
This moment's chord of earthly commotion
will never be struck exactly so again—
though love does love to repeat its favorite lines.
So let the shofar splutter its slow notes and quick notes,
let the nieces and nephews practice their flutes and trombones,
let living room pianos invite unwashed hands,
let glasses of different fullness be tapped for their different notes,
let everyone learn how to whistle,
let the girl dawdling home from her trumpet lesson
pause at the half-built house on the corner,
where the newly installed maze of plumbing comes down
to one little pipe whose open end she can reach,
so she takes a deep breath
and makes the whole house sound.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning

My father inspired my appreciation for Robert Browning (and a variety of other poets!) Here's a classic that many know the story of, but few remember it started as a poem, or that Robert Browning wrote it!

The Pied Piper of Hamelin

Hamelin Town's in Brunswick,
   By famous Hanover city;
The river Weser, deep and wide,
Washes its wall on the southern side;
A pleasanter spot you never spied;
   But, when begins my ditty,
Almost five hundred years ago,
To see the townsfolk suffer so
   From vermin, was a pity.

They fought the dogs, and killed the cats,
   And bit the babies in the cradles,
And eat the cheeses out of the vats,
   And licked the soup from the cooks' own ladles,
Split open the kegs of salted sprats,
Made nests inside men's Sunday hats,
And even spoiled the women's chats
      By drowning their speaking
      With shrieking and squeaking
In fifty different sharps and flats.

At last the people in a body
   To the Town Hall came flocking:
'Tis clear, cried they, our Mayor's a noddy;
   And as for our Corporation — shocking
To think we buy gowns lined with ermine
For dolts that can't or won't determine
What's like to rid us of our vermin!
Rouse up, Sirs! Give your brains a racking
To find the remedy we're lacking,
Or, sure as fate, we'll send you packing!
   At this the Mayor and Corporation
   Quaked with a mighty consternation.

An hour they sate in council,
   At length the Mayor broke silence:
For a guilder I'd my ermine gown sell;
   I wish I were a mile hence!
It's easy to bid one rack one's brain —
I'm sure my poor head aches again
I've scratched it so, and all in vain.
Oh for a trap, a trap, a trap!
Just as he said this, what should hap
At the chamber door but a gentle tap?
Bless us, cried the Mayor, what's that?
(With the Corporation as he sate,
Looking little though wondrous fat);
Only a scraping of shoes on the mat?
Anything like the sound of a rat
Makes my heart go pit-a-pat!

Come in! — the Mayor cried, looking bigger:
And in did come the strangest figure!
His queer long coat from heel to head
Was half of yellow and half of red;
And he himself was tall and thin,
With sharp blue eyes, each like a pin,
And light loose hair, yet swarthy skin,
No tuft on cheek nor beard on chin,
But lips where smiles went out and in —
There was no guessing his kith and kin!
And nobody could enough admire
The tall man and his quaint attire:
Quoth one: It's as my great-grandsire,
Starting up at the Trump of Doom's tone,
Had walked this way from his painted tombstone!

He advanced to the council-table:
And, Please your honours, said he, I'm able,
By means of a secret charm, to draw
All creatures living beneath the sun,
That creep, or swim, or fly, or run,
After me so as you never saw!
And I chiefly use my charm
On creatures that do people harm,
The mole, and toad, and newt, and viper;
And people call me the Pied Piper.
(And here they noticed round his neck
A scarf of red and yellow stripe,
To match with his coat of the self-same cheque;
And at the scarf's end hung a pipe;
And his fingers, they noticed, were ever straying
As if impatient to be playing
Upon this pipe, as low it dangled
Over his vesture so old-fangled.)
Yet, said he, poor piper as I am,
In Tartary I freed the Cham,
Last June, from his huge swarms of gnats;
I eased in Asia the Nizam
Of a monstrous brood of vampyre-bats:
And, as for what your brain bewilders,
If I can rid your town of rats
Will you give me a thousand guilders?
One? fifty thousand! — was the exclamation
Of the astonished Mayor and Corporation.

Into the street the Piper stept,
   Smiling first a little smile,
As if he knew what magic slept
   In his quiet pipe the while;
Then, like a musical adept,
To blow the pipe his lips he wrinkled,
And green and blue his sharp eyes twinkled,
Like a candle-flame where salt is sprinkled;
And ere three shrill notes the pipe uttered,
You heard as if an army muttered;
And the muttering grew to a grumbling;
And the grumbling grew to a mighty rumbling;
And out of the houses the rats came tumbling.
Great rats, small rats, lean rats, brawny rats,
Brown rats, black rats, grey rats, tawny rats,
Grave old plodders, gay young friskers,
   Fathers, mothers, uncles, cousins,
Cocking tails and pricking whiskers,
   Families by tens and dozens,
Brothers, sisters, husbands, wives —
Followed the Piper for their lives.
From street to street he piped advancing,
And step for step they followed dancing,
Until they came to the river Weser
Wherein all plunged and perished
— Save one who, stout as Julius Caesar,
Swam across and lived to carry
(As he the manuscript he cherished)
To Rat-land home his commentary,
Which was, At the first shrill notes of the pipe,
I heard a sound as of scraping tripe,
And putting apples, wondrous ripe,
Into a cider-press's gripe:
And a moving away of pickle-tub-boards,
And a leaving ajar of conserve-cupboards,
And a drawing the corks of train-oil-flasks,
And a breaking the hoops of butter-casks;
And it seemed as if a voice
(Sweeter than by harp or by psaltery
Is breathed) called out, Oh rats, rejoice!
The world is grown to one vast drysaltery!
'So munch on, crunch on, take your nuncheon,
'Breakfast, supper, dinner, luncheon!
And just as one bulky sugar-puncheon,
Ready staved, like a great sun shone
Glorious scarce an inch before me,
Just as methought it said, Come, bore me!
— I found the Weser rolling o'er me.

You should have heard the Hamelin people
Ringing the bells till they rocked the steeple;
Go, cried the Mayor, and get long poles!
Poke out the nests and block up the holes!
Consult with carpenters and builders,
And leave in our town not even a trace
Of the rats! — when suddenly up the face
Of the Piper perked in the market-place,
With a, First, if you please, my thousand guilders!

A thousand guilders! The Mayor looked blue;
So did the Corporation too.
For council dinners made rare havock
With Claret, Moselle, Vin-de-Grave, Hock;
And half the money would replenish
Their cellar's biggest butt with Rhenish.
To pay this sum to a wandering fellow
With a gipsy coat of red and yellow!
Beside, quoth the Mayor with a knowing wink,
Our business was done at the river's brink;
We saw with our eyes the vermin sink,
And what's dead can't come to life, I think.
So, friend, we're not the folks to shrink
From the duty of giving you something for drink,
And a matter of money to put in your poke;
But, as for the guilders, what we spoke
Of them, as you very well know, was in joke.
Beside, our losses have made us thrifty;
A thousand guilders! Come, take fifty!

The Piper's face fell, and he cried,
No trifling! I can't wait, beside!
I've promised to visit by dinner time
Bagdat, and accept the prime
Of the Head Cook's pottage, all he's rich in,
For having left, in the Caliph's kitchen,
Of a nest of scorpions no survivor —
With him I proved no bargain-driver,
With you, don't think I'll bate a stiver!
And folks who put me in a passion
May find me pipe after another fashion.

How? cried the Mayor, d'ye think I'll brook
Being worse treated than a Cook?
Insulted by a lazy ribald
With idle pipe and vesture piebald?
You threaten us, fellow? Do your worst,
Blow your pipe there till you burst!

Once more he stept into the street;
   And to his lips again
Laid his long pipe of smooth straight cane;
   And ere he blew three notes (such sweet
Soft notes as yet musician's cunning
   Never gave th'enraptured air)
There was a rustling, that seem'd like a bustling
Of merry crowds justling at pitching and hustling,
Small feet were pattering, wooden shoes clattering,
Little hands clapping, and little tongues chattering,
And, like fowls in a farm-yard when barley is scattering,
Out came the children running.
All the little boys and girls,
With rosy cheeks and flaxen curls,
And sparkling eyes and teeth like pearls,
Tripping and skipping, ran merrily after
The wonderful music with shouting and laughter.

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by —
Could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the Piper's back.
But how the Mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched Council's bosoms beat,
As the Piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters!
However he turned from South to West,
And to Coppelburg Hill his steps addressed,
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
He never can cross that mighty top!
He's forced to let the piping drop,
And we shall see our children stop!
When, lo, as they reached the mountain's side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children follow'd,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast.
Did I say, all? No! One was lame,
And could not dance the whole of the way;
And in after years, if you would blame
His sadness, he was used to say, —
It's dull in our town since my playmates left!
I can't forget that I'm bereft
Of all the pleasant sights they see,
Which the Piper also promised me;
For he led us, he said, to a joyous land,
Joining the town and just at hand,
Where waters gushed and fruit-trees grew,
And flowers put forth a fairer hue,
And every thing was strange and new;
The sparrows were brighter than peacocks here,
And their dogs outran our fallow deer,
And honey-bees had lost their stings,
And horses were born with eagles' wings:
And just as I felt assured
My lame foot would be speedily cured,
The music stopped and I stood still,
And found myself outside the Hill,
Left alone against my will,
To go now limping as before,
And never hear of that country more!

Alas, alas for Hamelin!
   There came into many a burgher's pate
   A text which says, that Heaven's Gate
   Opes to the Rich at as easy a rate
As the needle's eye takes a camel in!
The Mayor sent East, West, North, and South,
To offer the Piper, by word of mouth,
   Wherever it was men's lot to find him,
Silver and gold to his heart's content,
If he'd only return the way he went,
   And bring the children behind him.
But when they saw 'twas a lost endeavour,
And Piper and dancers were gone for ever,
They made a decree that lawyers never
   Should think their records dated duly
If, after the day of the month and year,
These words did not as well appear,
"And so long after what happened here
   "On the Twenty-second of July,
"Thirteen hundred and Seventy-six:"
And the better in memory to fix
The place of the Children's last retreat,
They called it, The Pied Piper's Street —
Where any one playing on pipe or tabor
Was sure for the future to lose his labour.
Nor suffered they Hostelry or Tavern
   To shock with mirth a street so solemn;
But opposite the place of the cavern
   They wrote the story on a column,
And on the Great Church Window painted
The same, to make the world acquainted
How their children were stolen away;
And there it stands to this very day.
And I must not omit to say
That in Transylvania there's a tribe
Of alien people who ascribe
The outlandish ways and dress
On which their neighbours lay such stress
To their fathers and mothers having risen
Out of some subterraneous prison
Into which they were trepanned
Long time ago in a mighty band
Out of Hamelin town in Brunswick land,
But how or why, they don't understand.

So, Willy, let you and me be wipers
Of scores out with all men — especially pipers:
And, whether they pipe us from rats or from mice,
If we've promised them aught, let us keep our promise.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Wind on the Hill by A. A. Milne

Wind on the Hill

No one can tell me,
   Nobody knows,
Where the wind comes from,
   Where the wind goes.
It’s flying from somewhere
   As fast as it can,
I couldn’t keep up with it,
   Not if I ran.
But if I stopped holding
   The string of my kite,
It would blow with the wind
   For a day and a night.
And then when I found it,
   Wherever it blew,
I should know that the wind
   Had been going there too.
So then I could tell them
   Where the wind goes . . .
But where the wind comes from
   Nobody knows.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If Only We Had Taller Been by Ray Bradbury

Another spoken poem -- this time one by Ray Bradbury!

Are you reading more poems this month?  I'm posting a poem a day for National Poetry Month!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Quiet World by Jeffrey McDaniel

Another poem for National Poetry Month.

The Quiet World

In an effort to get people to look
into each other’s eyes more,
and also to appease the mutes,
the government has decided
to allot each person exactly one hundred   
and sixty-seven words, per day.

When the phone rings, I put it to my ear   
without saying hello. In the restaurant   
I point at chicken noodle soup.
I am adjusting well to the new way.

Late at night, I call my long distance lover,   
proudly say I only used fifty-nine today.   
I saved the rest for you.

When she doesn’t respond,
I know she’s used up all her words,   
so I slowly whisper I love you
thirty-two and a third times.
After that, we just sit on the line   
and listen to each other breathe.
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