Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thinking Ahead

Operation Stay-Up-All-Night is well underway here at the home of Mr. and Mrs. FavoriteBoy. You see, tomorrow night - technically tonight - after Nathan plays for the Christmas Eve service at church, we're driving to Pennsylvania so we can spend Christmas with Nathan's family. We decided to plan ahead so we'd be able to safely drive all night, so this afternoon we napped for about four hours. And now we're staying up until the wee hours of the morning. We'll sleep during the day, and be ready to drive to Erie!

Why Does Everything Happen To Me?

Today after church Nathan and I took two friends out to lunch using a gift card we had. Shortly after we placed our orders, Nathan put his arm around me, and somehow in the process managed to spill a full glass of diet coke into my lap. And onto my wool coat. And into my purse. We laughed and mopped things up the best we could with napkins, but my pants were quite wet. Our food arrived, and Amybeth wanted to share her asparagus with me. As she transferred it from her plate to mine using her fork and knife, she accidentally flipped four of the five buttery stalks right onto my sweater. And only minutes later, Nathan dropped his sauce-drenched steak knife, and it trailed down my sweater sleeve before coming to rest on my lap.

I wonder if there are any dry cleaners open on Christmas Eve?

The moral of the story: Don't dine with clumsy friends!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Insert Foot

FavoriteBoy has a charming way of frequently putting his foot deep into his mouth. Fortunately, being an intelligent husband, he always has a plan of action for reversing any offense he may have caused. Here's a recent example:

SarahMarie: Hey, guess what I'm cooking?
FavoriteBoy: I don't know, something that smells really terrible... I mean, it smells burny, like maybe something boiled over? Maybe you need to clean the stovetop... I mean... Iloveyou! You're the best wife in the world! Thank you for cooking for me! Nobody else is as lucky as I am! You make such wonderful food! Everything always smells wonderful!

FavoriteBoy's escape plan obviously depends on my total lack of short term memory and his ability to continue with a steady stream of compliments until I forget the initial insult. In fact, my bad memory is a fault of mine that often works to my husband's advantage. For example:

FavoriteBoy: I'm sorry I did that; don't be mad. Are you mad?
SarahMarie: I don't know; I think I was annoyed but now I forget what it was all about anyway.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Game Night

Last night Nathan and I spent the evening with friends and played a very enjoyable game. Remarkably, Nathan really liked the game too, which is weird because Nathan tries to hate all games on principle. To play this game you just need pencils and paper torn into medium-sized squares. Each player should have as many paper squares as there are players in the game. Each player stacks his paper squares and writes a phrase on the top piece of paper. Pass the papers to the left, and everyone reads the phrase given to them by the person on their right, tucks the phrase paper underneath the stack, and draws a picture representing the phrase on the next piece of paper. Pass the papers again, and everyone must now extract a phrase from the drawing they've been given. (No peeking back at previous papers - you can only read or view the most recent piece of paper.) By the time the papers go full circle, you'll end up with something rather funny when compared to the original! It's like a written/drawn version of the whispering game "Telephone."

Well, a few of the illustrious gentlemen present at our game last night managed to put their feet in their mouths, including, not surprisingly, my own dear husband. I received the phrase 'That's What She Said' from a the friend on my right, so I drew a woman with a word bubble coming out of her mouth. Since you can't include words in your drawings, I left the bubble blank, but drew arrows pointing to the word bubble. Since Nathan thinks the phrase 'That's what she said' is the most brilliant comeback ever created, I felt sure he would understand my drawing. Instead, he derived the phrase, "Women always talk a lot but never say anything of substance" from my sketch.

In another round, I received the phrase "New England" from Nathan. What kind of phrase is that? How do you draw New England in 60 seconds or less? I quickly sketched a few things that represent New England in my mind: terrible drivers honking at one another, snow and sleet, an autumn leaf or two. Okay, I ran out of time and I admit my sketches were sadly incomplete. I passed the paper to Corey. At the end of the round, as we all read and laughed at the final products, I saw that Corey had looked at my drawing and come up with the phrase, "Women are terrible drivers and should especially avoid driving in extreme weather conditions."

Gather your family and friends and give this game a try - I guarantee it will provide lots of laughs.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sympathy for a Sore Throat

Yesterday afternoon I came down with an awful sore throat and a fever. I coughed my way through an orchestra concert - a sadly misguided 'Holiday Festival' with bad arrangements of Christmas songs and lots of lip service paid to Kwanzaa and Hanukkah by overly dramatic narrators who thought it necessary to compensate for the fact that 98% or more of the good 'Holiday' music in the world is, in fact, Christmas music, much of it overtly relating to the birth of Christ. Really, how dreadful.

Last night after the concert - which FavoriteBoy loyally attended - I could barely drag myself up the stairs to crash on the couch. FavoriteBoy got some blankets and tucked me in, and then bravely ventured into the kitchen, where he rummaged in the cupboards and found a Lipton onion soup mix. He thoughtfully prepared me some wonderful soup and served it to me in a mug, and we watched a movie together. What a wonderful husband I have! And I didn't discover the brown results of his soup making experience spilled all over the stovetop until this morning.

I guess the sympathy for my illness is wearing off, since he just asked me, "Hey woman, why don't you make me some dinner?"

Admission: I'm a Hack

I asked FavoriteBoy if I could post a humorous jab at him on this blog, and he ran into the bedroom before replying, returning momentarily with a white T-shirt. "Smell this!" - he thrust it under my nose. It reeked. "Yeah, you put this in my t-shirt drawer all folded up with the clean ones, you hack! You can post things about me as long as you admit that you're a hack!"

I looked up "hack" on and found this definition: "A cheap, mediocre, or second-rate practitioner... a charlatan or incompetent."

I am hereby publicly admitting that I am a hack. I somehow put a dirty t-shirt into a drawer of clean t-shirts. And since I've admitted that I'm a hack, I can say what I want and add that maybe if FavoriteBoy put his dirty clothes in the hamper instead of in random locations throughout the apartment, making distinctions between clean and dirty clothes would be easier. Heh.

Wife Advice

After years of making fun of me for reading SO MANY blogs ALL THE TIME, Nathan has finally found a blog - other than mine - that he enjoys. And I really must give him full credit; he came across this one himself! Check out We particularly like the Lessons section - especially Laughter is Not Always the Best Medicine, The 'Calves' and the 'Calves Not', and He's Crafty ("This seemed like the most unmanly thing I had ever heard of, so I thought my wife would like it."). And Nathan laughed for about ten minutes at Subtle Reminders, which I'm sure is only because he can imagine having a wife who doesn't always stay absolutely 100% on top of all household chores, not because he has any real experience with anything of the sort.

And if he comments on this post and says otherwise, I'll go get that paint can - the light blue shade we bought six months ago for the bathroom walls - and hang it from the ceiling. In the bathroom. Where it will contrast nicely with the bare drywall.

Yes, Dear

Sarah Marie: Nathan, you're so cute!
Nathan: I'm not cute! I'm... awe-inspiring! Manly, powerful... terrifying!

Monday, December 17, 2007

EEK: Addendum

After reading my post about the mouse in our apartment, my Grandpa sent me a funny email:

I just read your blog. You are expecting a lot of cooperation from that mouse. Good luck. Grandpa

Of course, Grandpa is right (Grandpa has a way of being right), and the only reason for my strange TP tube contraption was because I was snowbound and didn't want to shovel my car out of a drift to go buy a real mousetrap so late at night. Also, I wanted to catch the mouse in a humane way. But after being chastised by a friend - "Mice carry diseases! They are not cute! You need to eliminate it! *sigh* Nathan, please try to reason with your wife!" - we are going to go get some mousetraps. Tonight!

Saturday, December 15, 2007


There's a MOUSE in our apartment! I saw it scuttle from a corner of the kitchen to over behind the oven, and then, a few minutes later, it dashed under our refrigerator. By the time Nathan got home (he was practicing the organ at church) it wasn't under the fridge anymore (we checked with a flashlight) and now we don't know where it is! I have set up a trap, though: a toilet paper roll with the bottom flattened with a bit of cheese stuck inside the 'tunnel.' It is balanced precariously on the edge of the kitchen counter, with a large bin beneath it. If the mouse runs in to get the cheese, the TP roll will teeter over the edge and dump the mouse in the bin.

Now I just hope the mouse will somehow crawl up on the counter...?

And in the meantime, I'm checking every shoe and slipper before I put my foot in.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Husband of the Year

Thanks to Emily C. (soon to be Emily W.!), I found this hilarious website: Husband of the Year Awards.

Which reminds me of my own dear husband, who recently had an amusing conversation with our friend Gregg - a conversation that definitely puts him in the running for the Husband of the Year...

Nathan and I took a trip up to the L.L. Bean store in Freeport, ME with Gregg and Cara. Cara and I found a bin of cute bags on sale, and as we sorted through them, Nathan and Gregg made fun of us:

Nathan: Gregg, our women have all these bags! Why do women need bags?
Gregg: I know! Bags for teaching, bags for going out...
Nathan: Bags for fancy things, bags for everyday use...
Nathan and Gregg, exactly in unison: ... Bags under their eyes! *laughing hysterically*
Random woman in L.L. Bean: Now that was mean!

(We didn't buy any bags.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jasmine and Ariel

Lots of bloggers have recently noticed Nick Pitera since he posted several videos of himself singing Disney songs on YouTube. Nathan and I have really enjoyed watching and listening to this guy sing. Aside from a few flat notes when he's singing in his lower range, these renditions are really excellent. And he's so expressive!

Monday, December 10, 2007


I've been to five concerts in four days. One of said concerts was two and a half hours long. This is too much sitting still for a musician who would often rather be playing than listening! At last night's concert I was able to pass the time by passing notes with Greg, the friend sitting on my right. Nathan, sitting on my left, eventually sighed, snatched the pen out of my hands, and whispered, "Taking you to concerts is like babysitting a small child with an extremely short attention span!" Greg grinned at me and handed me a pencil from his pocket.

"Thank you for giving me a voice," I wrote. "Nathan wants me silenced. Also, he wants me to wear a burqa."

Nathan read this, turned bright red, and shook silently as he attempted to contain his laughter.

I really shouldn't go to concerts.

But at least writing notes silently is better than rustling candy wrappers or humming along.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Raising My Blood Pressure

Last night I attended a Christmas concert. During my favorite piece on the program, the girl sitting directly behind me was talking on her cell phone. ("Hey, I'm in a concert right now; can I call you back? Yeah? What's up? Oh, ok, well, I'll call you... yeah...") The girl in front of me was humming along. (This is a concert piece, not a sing-along, lady! Can't you notice that the version the choir is singing is not akin to the popular tune you are humming so loudly and obnoxiously?!) And the woman to my left was unwrapping peppermint candies and passing them down the row to all her family members. (Crinkle, crinkle, crinkle.)

I suppose you could say the Lord was trying to teach me patience.

Or you could just say that inconsiderate people with no concept of concert etiquette should stay home.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

The Big Fight

FavoriteBoy and I are having a Big Fight. It's probably our first fight. They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest, and just when we thought we were in the clear, Christmas had to come along. And now we're fighting. In pre-marital counseling our pastor facilitated discussions on topics like money management, shared interests, children, faith, and more. Of course, FavoriteBoy and I had already discussed all these things and were in complete agreement.

But no one ever asked us to discuss our taste in Christmas decorations.

And alas, we never really thought to talk about it.

Until we went Christmas ornament shopping...

And found that Nathan likes colored lights and I like white lights.

And Nathan likes bright, big, colorful decorations and I like classy, small, delicate ones.

If only we had talked about this a year ago, we would have realized how totally incompatible we were!

Fortunately, we both excel at the art of compromise. Our Christmas tree has white lights this year, but our dinner table has a slightly cheesy, brightly-colored Christmas centerpiece. As long as I look at the tree and FavoriteBoy looks at the table, we're both very happy.

We just aren't speaking to one another.

(Just kidding!)


My sister Emily just posted some wonderful photos of her family. Go take a look at how cute my nephews are!

Shocking But True

Netflix doesn't stock - or even acknowledge the existence of - The Muppet Christmas Carol! How can this be?! The Muppet Christmas Carol is a Christmas classic! I know all the words to all the songs, I cry every year when Tiny Tim sings 'Bless Us All;' I definitely can't go a year without watching it.

Whatever will we do?!

Monday, December 3, 2007


Yesterday in between the Sunday morning church services and the evening Advent Festival (all planned by my own dear husband) we went on a Christmas shopping excursion. We returned home with our first Christmas tree and three boxes of ornaments. Our humble apartment is filled with anticipation and happiness - and the wonderful aromas of fir and candles!

Happy Advent to all from Mr. and Mrs. FavoriteBoy.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

An Advent Prayer

An Advent Prayer
by Paul A. Richardson

Almighty God,
    who, having created all worlds and mankind,
    has profoundly pitied us;

    who has come to us that we might be saved,
    not of our merit, but of your unquenchable love;

look on us who worship in comfort,
    in light and warmth,
    in health and prosperity,
    in pride and in presumption:

    having all glory
       you became incarnate in the dishonor
       of a defeated line of kings;
    having all riches,
       you became incarnate in the poverty
       of the working class;
    having all illumination,
       you became incarnate in the darkness
       of night and obscurity;
    having all wisdom,
       you became incarnate in the confounding simplicity
       of a child;
    having all life,
       you became incarnate in the emptiness
       of a virgin’s womb;
    having all power,
       you became incarnate in the weakest form
       of human life—a male infant.

Help us to recognize
    our shame, our poverty
    our darkness, our foolishness,
    our emptiness, our weakness,
that we may know our need of you.

And then,
    Become incarnate in us.
In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Go Navy!

In the 108th Army-Navy Game today, the Navy took their sixth straight win over the Army. Go Navy!

If I thought I would be of any use to our armed forces, I'd want to be in the Navy. Since I doubt I could do much good serving in most military capacities, I admit that I have my eye on the Marine Chamber Orchestra - although sadly I'm sure I'm not good enough to play with an ensemble of that caliber.

Which reminds me, I forgot to blog about a particularly fabulous experience. Nathan and I heard The President's Own Marine Band in concert a month ago, and it was absolutely the best concert I've ever heard. Better than the Boston Symphony. Better than the Chicago Symphony! Absolutely. The. Best. Concert. Ever. They played a variety of works, from ‘serious’ classical pieces to Sousa marches, and everything, everything, was note-perfect, inspiring, beautiful, flawless. I went into that concert thinking, "I don't really care for band music..." and went out with the realization that I just don't like mediocre college wind ensembles. A really good band is a pleasure to hear!


Now that you've all done your Thanksgiving turkeys this year, you might be looking to branch out into something new and different. How about a turducken? According to Wikipedia, "A Turducken is a partially de-boned turkey stuffed with a de-boned duck, which itself is stuffed with a small de-boned chicken." Doesn't that sound weird? It gets even stranger:

"The largest recorded nested bird roast is 17 birds, attributed to a royal feast in France in the 19th century (originally called a Rôti Sans Pareil, or "Roast without equal") - a bustard stuffed with a turkey, a goose, a pheasant, a chicken, a duck, a guinea fowl, a teal, a woodcock, a partridge, a plover, a lapwing, a quail, a thrush, a lark, an Ortolan Bunting and a Garden Warbler. The final bird is small enough that it can be stuffed with a single olive; it also suggests that, unlike modern multi-bird roasts, there was no stuffing or other packing placed in between the birds. This dish probably could not be recreated in the modern era as many of the listed birds are now protected species."

I don't know why this type of culinary masterpiece has to be limited to poultry. I'm going to try taking a blue whale, and stuffing it with a humpback whale, and...

"Idiot Marks"

Sometimes when I get new violin students I can't help wondering what previous teachers have been doing with them. I have a lovely new student with about seven years of experience playing the violin. Some of her music is heavily marked with "idiot marks," or pencil lines clearly marking where each beat falls within a measure. (Note: These marks are not really for idiots as the slang term implies; I use them rather frequently in orchestral settings.) They are, no doubt, a useful way to denote beats, particularly in measures with dotted rhythms or ties - rhythmic concepts that can be challenging for a student. However, when I asked this student if she understood the meaning of the marks, she replied, "I don't know, my old teacher used to sing the melody or something and make those marks everywhere; I never really knew what it was all about."

I hope I am able to equip all my students with solid understandings of rhythm, intonation, melody, harmony, tone, and violin technique so that their future teachers don't wonder, "What was that teacher thinking?!"

Friday, November 30, 2007

A Sauna for Sarah

I don't know if I've mentioned it on my blog, but I have a bizarre personal thermostat. I am almost always cold. Since I was a kid I can remember my parents urging me, "Take off your sweatshirt! It's perfectly warm inside!" I even wear sweaters in the summer when indoors, which everyone finds very odd. Air conditioned rooms are just too chilly for me. My hands are almost always cold. "Get up and move around," people tell me. "Get some exercise; then you'll be warmer." So I run a few miles each day, or go to the gym and do 45 minutes of cardio and some lifting with free weights. By the time I get home, I'm cold again.

Over the summer I bought a digital thermometer and started taking my temperature regularly. I discovered that usually, even in the middle of the day when I'm up and about and doing things around the house, my temperature is around 95 or 96. I felt so validated... I really AM cold! It's not in my head! Oddly enough, my waking temperature is the highest one, which apparently isn't normal. It's probably because I'm able to get warm at night under plenty of blankets.

A few weeks ago I stepped into the dry sauna in the gym locker room for the first time. I almost never go in the locker room since I can just come home to shower after a workout, so I didn't even know about the sauna.

I loved that sauna. It was like, for the first time, someone understood my personal temperature needs and met them perfectly. I was WARM. I could take off my fleece sweatshirt! It was blissful, heavenly warmth.

I wonder if FavoriteBoy can construct a personal sauna for me in our apartment?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Shimmy and Shake

Cara came over this evening, and we enjoyed sharing stories about the things our violin students do and say.

SarahMarie: Today Jeremiah said to me, "I gotta figure out how to do that wiggly thing you do when you play."
CaraMarie: Um... *shocked* what wiggly thing do you do when you play?
SarahMarie: You know... a little shoulder shimmy, a little hip wiggle...


SarahMarie: ...I'm kidding. He meant my hand wiggling. Vibrato!

Funny Quote

"Historically, the best way to convert liberals is to have them move out of their parents' home, get a job, and start paying taxes."

- Ann Coulter

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


So I survived cooking my first full Thanksgiving dinner for five, thanks in part to our friend Holly who spent the day with us and helped. After I made the stuffing, Holly and I stuffed the turkey and sewed him up together. In this picture, I am looking happy because the turkey is no longer in the dangerous brine, and Holly is looking happy because she's holding the turkey under the armpits while I dry it off with paper towels; this is an experience that could make anyone happy.

The turkey looked better after being roasted:

It's good to have a useful husband. He dazzled us all with his superior carving skills. (For him, the best part about Thanksgiving was that he got to use the electric carving knife we got as a wedding present.)

I made rolls using a recipe from the in-laws. If Nathan's consumption is any proof of their tastiness, I guess you could say they were delicious - he ate ten in one sitting. Yes, ten.

I made two kinds of stuffing: one 'regular' kind (i.e. the way my Mom makes it) and one more adventurous kind: Sausage, Apple, and Cranberry Stuffing. In the end I liked the Mom-kind better, so that'll teach me to go trying to improve on perfection.

Of course, no Thanksgiving would be complete without mashed potatoes and gravy:

And in addition to the Palmer-family-standard of peas with toasted slivered almonds, I branched out and made a recipe for butternut squash that I love. You cube and boil a squash and mash it up. Add some mayonaise and a beaten egg, about a half teaspoon of brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and a diced, lightly sauteed onion. Pour the squash into a casserole dish and top with a mixture of crumbled saltine crackers, parmesan cheese, and melted butter, and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Yum!

Melissa and Roman brought an amazing salad with pomegranate seeds and sugared nuts in it!

So the five us of enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner together. Then we had dessert, but the pies were gone too quickly for me to get pictures. I made a Maple Pumpkin Pie with a ginger streusel topping. (I used this recipe for the crust.) I also made a chocolate pie using my Grandma's delicious recipe. Nathan loved it and ate the leftovers for breakfast on Friday morning. (The fact that I allowed him to do that either makes me an awesome wife or a terrible wife; I'm not sure which one...)

After dinner on Thursday I was exhausted, and I stayed exhausted until, well, now, because I'm still exhausted. FavoriteBoy understands that any eating we do for the next month will be either leftovers or takeout because I don't want to see another recipe or dirty dish for a very long time.

Except that I just found a recipe for turkey stroganoff, and it looks like the perfect way to use up some leftovers tonight! I guess I may venture back into the kitchen after all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Turkey Troubles

Brining a turkey is quite an ordeal.

Especially if the Reynolds turkey bag you are using to line your stock pot breaks just as you finish pouring the brine over the bagged turkey, and since the turkey and bag were a bit higher than your stock pot, a gallon of water rushes all over your kitchen - and yourself.

This induced an antibacterial frenzy, in which I frantically sprayed every chemical cleaner in the house all over the stove, counters, and floor. I wiped, mopped, sprayed again, wiped again...

I was worried FavoriteBoy would arrive home from work around noon today, just in time to find me standing in the kitchen, wet and dismayed - but fortunately he hasn't arrived yet. The mess is cleaned up, I am freshly showered, the wet clothes are in the laundry, and the turkey is in a second brine and a second bag, safely in the refrigerator. So when Nathan gets home, I will smile at him innocently, domestic creature that I am, and say, "The turkey is brining in the refrigerator - and I cleaned the kitchen very thoroughly this morning, too!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Second Best Compliment Ever

"You are so funny. After church choir rehearsals when I get home I'm always telling my wife how witty and clever you are!"

(If you're wondering what my Best Compliment Ever was, read about it here - it was from my violin teacher in college.)

Just Ask

I am all smiles today, because it is snowing and it is almost Thanksgiving!

This morning I went to Stop and Shop and did my Thanksgiving grocery shopping. I'm cooking a dinner for five this year. It's my first time doing my own Thanksgiving dinner, and I'm excited about it. And after doing my first Easter meal for ten people last spring, cooking for five seems quite feasible.

I've been reading Adam Roberts' new book The Amateur Gourmet: How to Shop, Chop, and Table Hop Like a Pro (Almost), and one of the things Adam recommends is not being embarassed to ask questions. Ask your waiter what wine he recommends with the meal you're ordering. Ask the guy in the produce department what vegetables he thinks are freshest today. Ask the butcher any questions you have about a cut of meat you're looking for.

This morning, I did exactly that. After perusing the many turkeys, I decided to ask the man behind the meat counter what he recommended. I caught his eye, and he asked, "Can I help you with anything?" I told him I was doing my first Thanksgiving turkey and wasn't quite sure what size turkey I would need to feed five people. He was so very helpful, suggesting the proper size and then sorting through the birds and choosing one for me that was the best: "This one is really meaty. Nice, wide breast. You'll do well with this one." Then, for good measure, he walked me through the steps of preparing and cooking the turkey. I had already read a variety of recipes and was familiar with what I planned to do, but it was good to hear his suggestions - it basically affirmed that I was on the right track.

Asking questions doesn't make you look dumb; it sets you up for success! I'm glad I asked today, and I'll keep following the advice of The Amateur Gourmet in my future cooking and dining endeavors!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Snow Before Thanksgiving

Immediately after Nathan left for work this morning the phone rang. "Go downstairs, open the door, and look outside," Nathan instructed me.

It's snowing!

Friday, November 16, 2007


Thank God it's Friday. A trip to the car mechanic, a couple of hours at the gym, kitchen cleanup, five music lessons to teach, and a choral rehearsal today and then at last it will officially be the weekend!

I'm feeling worn out lately, and I'm looking forward to the holidays for a bit of a break. Of course, I'm cooking a Thanksgiving dinner, so I doubt that will be particularly relaxing! - but I think it will at least be therapeutic and enjoyable. Christmas will be even better, because the Husb and I will get to spend time with his family and then with mine. There's something very nice about visiting family... sleeping in, lounging around and catching up on life, playing games, watching movies, relaxing... and enjoying the feeling that for a few days you are not solely responsible for the care and keeping of yourself and your husband; someone else will take care of you. Ahh.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


SarahMarie: Sometimes I think some of my friends and acquaintances walk all over me, and I get tired of letting them.

FavoriteBoy: Well, maybe you should stop 'choosing your battles' so carefully, and start choosing your weapons more carefully!

I'll take humorous advice over good advice any day!

Monday, November 12, 2007


Last week our church choir sang after the sermon rather than before, so everyone in the choir had to stay through the majority of the service twice. At rehearsal the following week, I overheard this comment:

"I felt weird sitting through the sermon again but not staying to take communion at the second service like I had at the first. But then I remembered, you only need it once a month."


"...Unless you go to one of those churches where they think you need it every week, I guess."

Ah, out of the mouths of Protestants!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Merging Traditions

We are having quite an ordeal deciding on plans for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. First of all, my family is far away in California and plane tickets are often prohibitively expensive. Nathan's family is closer by, in Pennsylvania, but the drive is rather a long one. Add to that Nathan's church job, which tends to keep us tied to our own home around holidays for things like Christmas Eve services (and even Thanksgiving Eve services, which I find rather odd). We've spent the past few weeks trying to formulate plans for the upcoming holidays. Today as we discussed one travel possibility, the following conversation ensued:

FavoriteBoy: So with that plan, we could leave after the Christmas Eve service, drive all night to Pennsylvania, and arrive at my family's house in time for Christmas morning, and my Mom could make her traditional cinnamon pecan coffee cake...

SarahMarie: But my family's tradition is for my Mom to make cranberry coffee cake!

FavoriteBoy: Well, that is a gross tradition and best abandoned!

Obi Wan Meets Elisha

Our pastor has been preaching through 1st and 2nd Kings and encouraging the congregation to read those books of the Bible during the week. Last week my friend Holly handed me a Bible, twinkle in eye, and ordered me to read 2 Kings 6:15-19 while thinking of "These are not the droids you're looking for" from Star Wars. I was quite amused, and I think you will be, too.

When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?" He said, "Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." Then Elisha prayed and said, "O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. And when the Syrians came down against him, Elisha prayed to the LORD and said, "Please strike this people with blindness." So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Elisha. And Elisha said to them, "This is not the way, and this is not the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek." And he led them to Samaria.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

School in the 21st Century

Today my 9 year-old student A. came to her lesson with an iPod in her hand. She listened to music while her sister S. had a lesson. Just out of curiosity I asked if she was allowed to take her iPod to school, and she replied, "Well, we're not allowed to have them in class, because, I'm not sure why really, maybe they think they're going to explode or blow up like a bomb."

"Or maybe they want you to listen to your teacher instead of listening to music?"

"I guess maybe; I'm not sure."

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Celebrating One Year of Life

One year ago today, my Mom suffered a sudden, unexpected, massive brain aneurysm.

I chronicled the early months of her recovery over at Sandy's Recovery, as she went through multiple surgeries, a long coma, and many months of grueling therapy. Today, her physical recovery is an ongoing process, and we still ask for your thoughts and prayers. But she is alive. My Mom is alive and her mind is as active, clever, and witty as ever.

I started writing this post a few days ago because I knew it would take me several attempts to get my thoughts down. I still cry when I think about the early days after Mom's aneurysm.

It has been a very long, very full year.

I will never forget the evening of November 7, 2006. I was standing at my stove cooking chicken for dinner and talking to Nathan on my cell phone. My phone beeped - it was an incoming call from my Mom's cell phone. I don't remember now what Nathan and I were talking about, but it seemed important at the time, so I figured I'd call Mom right back after I finished my conversation with Nathan. A minute later, I checked my voicemail and had a message from Dad. He had called from Mom's cell phone to tell me that Mom was in the hospital, going in for surgery. That was it, that was the message. I didn't know what had happened, and when I immediately tried calling Mom's phone and Dad's phone, both were turned off. (You can't have cell phones on when you're in the hospital rooms around all the equipment.) I couldn't reach my sister Emily, either. I finally got ahold of my brother Jonathan, who told me it was a brain aneurysm. He didn't have much information. All we could do was wait to hear from Dad again. I couldn't believe I hadn't answered my phone. (Now, when my parents call me, I drop any other calls or things I'm doing to answer my cell phone, because I'm terrified that something might be wrong.)

I don't remember how long it was before I heard from Dad again. I remember looking up aneurysms online and falling apart when I read that my Mom's chances of survival were around 50%. It was a scary night; the worst of my life. Nathan came over right away to be with me, and my friend Melissa came over too and brought me a big teddy bear. Melissa and Nathan stayed with me into the wee hours of the morning as I waited for calls and updates from Dad. We talked and prayed and waited together, and I'm really glad I didn't have to be alone that night. I wanted to buy a plane ticket to fly home immediately, but Dad asked me to wait until Mom came through surgery and we knew a little more. He had a lot of big decisions to make at that time under tremendous pressure and I'm amazed he was able to do all he did that night and in the weeks that followed.

At about 2:00 EST he called again and asked me to get a ticket and come home. I bought a one-way ticket online right away and packed a small suitcase. Melissa eventually went home and I lay down to try to catch an hour or two of sleep. Nathan sat beside me the whole time. He drove me to the airport early in the morning to catch my flight to California. While I waited in the terminal for my flight I had to call and cancel a babysitting job for that afternoon. I remember trying to stay collected and calm, but as soon as I explained, "my Mom's in the hospital," I started bawling right there in the airport. It was like having to say the words, "she had a brain aneurysm," came as a shock to me, like saying it made it real.

After what felt like the longest flight in the world, I was finally in Sacramento. Jonathan flew in from Texas around the same time, and a kind friend picked us up and took us straight to the hospital in Roseville. Dad was SO glad to see us when we walked in. We got to go see Mom immediately. I was glad to see her, but it was really hard to see her like that. She was essentially comatose for a long, long time. Over the coming days sometimes we would see progress like open eyes and blinks in response to questions, but then there would be another surgery and another setback, over and over again.

Those days were long ones, but the nights were worse. While we were at the hospital we could be with Mom, but when we went home around 9 each night the house seemed empty without Mom. Some nights Dad would take out old photo albums and look at pictures for a long time. "Look at Mom. Look how pretty she looks." Also, unspoken... look how alive she looks.

Home without Mom was weird. Our family has always been the best at laughing together, but with not much to laugh at we found we weren't quite sure if we could cry together. Not knowing how to act together at first, we argued about silly things that didn't matter during those first few days - at least fighting involved some display of emotion.

I learned about grief during that time. I'm not sure I had ever felt true grief before I heard the words, "Mom had a brain aneurysm." I heard that, slid down to the floor of my apartment, curled up in a ball; I learned what grief was. At the same time, I found that my feelings weren't what people expected. They expected tears and frequent phone calls to talk about my emotions; I didn't even know what to feel or think most of the time. Even when I found some clarity for my feelings, I didn't think anyone would want to hear my thoughts when I questioned God or felt upset by well-meaning people who always said the wrong things.

I stayed in California until Thanksgiving, when I flew out to Pennsylvania to be with Nathan (my fiance at that time) and his family. I'm really glad I went; at that point it was beyond wonderful for me to relax a little.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I returned to Massachusetts to continue teaching my students and taking care of my other obligations. I worried about Mom a lot, and during that time I remember that seemingly random little things would trigger really big, overwhelming emotions for me. One Sunday at church an elderly man suffered a medical problem and had to be taken to the hospital by a crew of EMT's. It hit too close to home at that time and all I could think about was my Mom, and what it must have been like for her immediately after the aneurysm burst, whether she was scared, whether she was aware of what was going on... tears started rolling down my face right there in church. I remember that a nice lady from church came over and rubbed my back. Another time, Nathan came to visit me after attending an event where he had a glass of wine. The smell of the alcohol on his breath reminded me of the smell of the hand sanitizer we all had to use at the hospital and instantly brought back upsetting memories. I also remember going to the DMV to get my Mass driver's license and being denied because I didn't have my birth certificate. I told them I didn't have it and they said I'd have to get it, and I said no one knows where it is except my Mom, and she's in a coma, and I almost started crying. (And even then they wouldn't give me a driver's license.) Sometimes I felt like I couldn't escape reminders of what my Mom and my family were going through.

At the same time, even though Mom's condition was always on my mind, there would be moments when I would think, "I'll call Mom," as if everything were ordinary. And it would take me a moment to realize that I couldn't call Mom, that she was in a coma. And it would be a shock all over again to realize that this was really happening.

Well, long-time readers of my blog know the story. Nathan and I had been engaged to be married on January 6, but we changed our plans a little bit and got married in December in the hospital so my Mom could be there. By that time (December 28) Mom was alert enough to attend the small ceremony in a wheelchair. In the following months Mom made tremendous progress and by July she walked down the aisle at Jonathan and Jenn's wedding. Today her physical therapy continues, and she is still making amazing progress - she's proving a lot of doctors wrong daily.

Dear Mom,

For a while I thought I might not have a Mom anymore, and it was awful, and I wrote this because I wanted you to know how awful it was. May this year be only the first of many years to come.


Monday, November 5, 2007


Whenever I feel like whining about my health, I try to think about my parents. My Dad has suffered from mysterious, undiagnosable health problems since shortly after I was born, yet he never complained and he was never too tired at the end of the day to play with his kids or help Mom around the house. Then last year my Mom had a brain aneurysm at the age of 49, and while she fortunately survived, she has faced and continues to face a tremendous physical recovery process. Talk about unfair. I guess having chronic headaches and a few cavities isn't so bad in the broad scheme of things.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Lady and the Tramp

This evening I taught violin lessons until 5 and FavoriteBoy needed to rush out shortly thereafter to accompany several students in a recital. Without much time to cook, I decided to just heat up some leftover spaghetti from last night. I heated up one plate and placed it on the table, saying "I thought we could just share one plate to keep things quick and easy." FavoriteBoy replied, "Sure, it's like Lady and the Tramp! You can be the Lady, and I'll be... no, wait... you can be the Tramp... um, ok, nevermind."

Thursday, November 1, 2007

On The Bright Side

Wow, I was feeling so despondent on Tuesday that I completely forgot to mention the good news:

Dentist: I checked your tongue and mouth, and you don't have mouth cancer!
Sarah Marie: Oh, that's wonderful. No, really, I'm thrilled.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Help, I'm Decaying!

What a Terrible Horrible No-Good Very Bad Day!

Since I no longer live in my hometown in California, a few months ago I decided it was about time to find a dentist out here in Mass. I had my first appointment a month ago; it was just a cleaning. For some reason they couldn't take x-rays that day or have the dentist see me, so I had to go back today for those things. At my cleaning last month the hygienist told me I had perfect teeth and had taken very good care of them, so I wasn't too concerned about my appointment today. I brush 2-3 times a day, and I floss and rinse with mouthwash every night.

The hygienist took the x-rays, and then the dentist came in to meet me. He said something that I swear sounded like, "Hi Sawah, how aw you?" in a very high-pitched voice. (I decided he was either gay, a big fan of Elmo, or suffering from a tragic speech impediment.)

He looked at the x-rays, and when I asked what the small tooth was in the back, I was told it was a wisdom tooth. I said, "I hope not, since I had all my wisdom teeth removed six years ago," but the dentist was quite certain about it. Apparently I have a small extra one. The dentist told me this is a common scenario with sharks, so at least I'm in good company.

Then the dentist told me that I have like a hundred million spots of decay in between my teeth.

And I found out that it will cost us our souls and our firstborn child to address the problem.

And I told him this couldn't be happening because I take such good care of my teeth.

And he shrugged and said I should try flossing twice a day instead of once a day.

Then he charged me a million dollars for a tiny piece of plastic that fits over my two front teeth and will prevent me from continuing in my well-beloved habit of insanely intense grinding in my sleep. This mouth guard doesn't extend over all the teeth, but just covers the upper incisors, with a small piece creating a gap between the upper and lower teeth. Now when I grind, all the pressure that would have been spread out over my entire jaw is pressed directly on my lower incisors, which apparently someone thought would be a good idea. The dentist claims the discomfort on my two lower teeth will teach me to stop grinding. I say if there were any rational response to discomfort involved in this I would have stopped grinding years ago, since it gives me a sore jaw and a headache to wake up to every morning.

Then the terrible appointment was finally over and I went out to my car and called my husband and promptly began bawling my eyes out. I think the conversation went something like this:

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I have a million places that are decaying between my teeth, I'm sorry, it's going to be expensive, I'm sorry, how can this be happening to me, I take good care of my teeth, why is everything always wrong with me no matter how hard I try to be healthy, why does everything always go wrong for me, but you're always healthy even thought you eat junk food and don't brush as long as I do and never floss, and I eat healthily but I'm the one with headaches and constant fatigue and I'm obese and I never feel good and now apparently I have a million spots rotting away in this hell hole of my mouth, I'm a terrible person, I'm so sorry, I'm like a dead weight chained to your ankle dragging you down in life..."

To which FavoriteBoy kindly replied, "You're not a dead weight! You're a live, kicking, writhing weight!"

(He always knows how to say the right thing!)

Later I called my Mommy and she suggested I get a second opinion, because apparently once upon a time my sister Emily was told by a dentist that she had 18 cavities! But when she went to our dentist back home he said there were actually only like two or something. FavoriteBoy agrees that a second opinion would be good. Now we just need to figure out who I should go to for this second opinion.

The rest of the day has been just terrible, because whenever I cry I reap some pretty nasty consequences: My eyelids get red and puffy and stay that way for at least 8 hours, I get a splitting headache, and my stomach gets upset for some reason. In short, I look dreadful and feel even worse.

All of this is pretty good incentive for me to avoid crying, but occasionally I forget, like when a dentist who vaguely reminds me of a homosexual Elmo tells me I'm practically dying of cavities.

What a wretched day.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Swept Up

So the Sox swept the Rockies in the World Series, and FavoriteBoy and I are left with mixed feelings of nostalgia and relief - relief that we can finally begin to go to bed at reasonable hours now. I have a feeling I'll be catching up on sleep for the next week or so; all those nights of staying up until 1:30 am have taken a bit of a toll. Not that I'm complaining, because every minute was worth it. And in fact, now that the postseason is over, I'm missing it. Holly came over for a bit this evening and we found ourselves singing "Sweet Caroline" - just to prolong the experience by one more evening, I suppose. "So good! So good! So good!"

FavoriteBoy and I have decided that we'll go to at least one game next season. He has been to a game in Fenway Park before, but I never have. It'll be exciting! Plus, if you don't get the TV channel that season games are on, it's hard to be a fan until the postseason comes along. Obviously, the solution is to go to the games.

I stumbled across an article on espn called "Shut Up, Red Sox Nation," in which the author calls Red Sox fans "the most obnoxious fans in sports" and claims that "no one can stand to be around Red Sox fans anymore." The whole article brings to my mind that oft-repeated t-shirt slogan, "You have Red Sox envy!" In any case, in my opinion the litmus test of fandom is how the celebrities themselves feel. The Sox players love the fans and say so often, which probably means the fans are being respectful of privacy and keeping things under control. And hey, at least Sox fans don't wave towels...

Michael has an interesting post over at MMMusing about the active engagement of sports fans (and particularly Red Sox Nation) vs. the passive role experienced by classical concert-goers. It's a good read.

I guess I'll wrap up this post with a few photos shamelessly stolen from I love these guys.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Curt Schilling's Blog

If you want to start cultivating some team spirit in preparation for Game 3 of the World Series tonight, you might enjoy reading Curt Schilling's blog. His most recent post, Up 2-0 and a mile high, concludes with this touching paragraph:

As to the question that’s often asked, and always answered the same way. Yes I have thought about the fact I’ve made my last start as a Boston Red Sox. It might be the case, it might not. Both sides know how the other feels and when the more important matters are taken care of, it will resolve itself. Neither side is worried or concerned and I’ve stated repeatedly why it’s a non-issue for me. My faith in God means that whatever the outcome here, is what is and was meant to be. It’s that easy. If it was the final game, who can complain? The last 4 years have certainly had their share of ups and downs but I can promise you Shonda, my kids, and I, would not trade a second of the experience. Being able to become a member of this 16+ million people family has been an absolute honor and pleasure. Filled with way more unforgettable memories and experiences than we could ever have imagined or deserved. If it’s over for us here then the only thing we could honestly say is thank you.

It was an emotional moment for fans around the world when Schilling left the mound in Game 2; it's especially meaningful to hear about this time in his own words.

Not My Muffin

While FavoriteBoy was at a meeting this morning I baked him some chocolate multi-grain muffins. Shortly after he returned home, the following conversation took place:

SarahMarie: Have you had a muffin?
FavoriteBoy: I have not had a muffin. *pause* I have had several muffins, and the muffin I have now is not my muffin.

That's my silly, Biblical husband. (Replace "muffin" with "husband" and you'll see the woman-at-the-well connection.)

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Farewell

Goodbye, International Music Score Library Project. :(

Brotherly Gratitude

Today I received the best thank you note ever from my dear brother Jonathan and sister-in-law Jenn. The note was written by Jonathan and read:

Dear Nathan and Sarah,
We are deeply sorry that it was such a difficult trial for you to both attend our wedding. Most weddings don't involve poop, towtrucks, and thoroughly confused airline employees... Obviously God wanted to build some character in the two of you. So you are welcome for providing an opportunity for that growth. Seriously, it was no trouble at all. Don't mention it.
Oh, the silverware is fantastic and we love it!
Jonathan and Jenn

(You can read about the aforementioned wedding trials in this post.)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Let's Go Wikipedia!

So about fifteen minutes after Ellsbury's steal tonight, I looked him up on Wikipedia to find out how tall he is and found the following already added to the entry:

On October 25, 2007, Ellsbury's steal of second base against Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies during Game 2 of the 2007 World Series earned everyone in America a free taco in accordance with a promotion run by Taco Bell.

Very prompt!

"Steal a base, steal a taco"... free tacos on Tuesday.

Dilemma of the Day

The Office vs. the Red Sox...

What to watch tonight?

While I'm on the topic of The Office, I can't help mentioning a few of my favorite quotes from this season.

From 'Fun Run':

Michael: So, I need a little treat for the gang. Something to win their affections back.
Ryan: Back? Why is that, Michael?
Michael: Well, I ran down Meredith in my car.
Ryan: Ohhhh. Did you do this on purpose?
Michael: No. I was being negligent.
Ryan: Did this happen on company property?
Michael: Yes. It was on company property, with company property. So, double jeopardy. We are fine.
Ryan: I don't think-- I don't think you understand how jeopardy works.
Michael: Oh, right, I'm sorry. What is, 'we're fine'?

Michael: Guess what? I have flaws. What are they? Oh I dunno, I sing in the shower? Sometimes I spend too much time volunteering. Occasionally I'll hit somebody with my car. So sue me-- no, don't sue me. That is the opposite of the point that I'm trying to make.

Michael: Kelly, you're Hindu so you believe in Buddha.
Kelly: That's Buddhists.
Michael: Are you sure?
Kelly: No.

Dwight: As a farmer, I know that when an animal is sick, sometimes the right thing to do is to put it out of its misery. With the electricity we're using to keep Meredith alive, we could power a small fan for two days. You tell me what's unethical!

From 'Launch Party':

I loved the first half of this episode. First of all, the entire scene where everyone is watching for the 'DVD Video' box to go right into the corner of the screen is hilarious. And It was great to finally have Pam and Jim playing pranks on Dwight again!

Dwight: It appears that the website has become alive. This happens to computers and robots sometimes. Am I scared of a stupid computer? Please. The computer should be scared of me. I have been salesman of the month for 13 of the last 12 months. You heard me right. I did so well last February that Corporate gave me two plaques in lieu of a pay raise.

Dwight: Here's a suggestion, computer. I assume you read binary, so why don't you 0111111011011?
DunMiff/sys: While you were typing that, I searched every database in existence and learned every fact about everything. And mastered the violin. Oh, and sold more paper.

Darryl: Hey. How 'bout stop yelling at our sweet little Miss Kapoor over 500 sheets of paper and get back to your desk, and start selling multiple reams like a man. (This is possibly my overall favorite quote of the season so far. Nathan has spent the past two weeks attempting to alter this quote to fit any situation, any time.)

From 'Money':

Jim: You know, I just realized, this is Pam's and my first night away together. I used to play it over in my head, and it was just a little bit different. Maybe a nice hotel. Or, a romantic dinner. Wine... Um, but wine that wasn't made out of beets. Didn't think Dwight would be involved at all. And, uh, I always imagined less manure. I mean, some manure, just... less.

Andy: You need to set me up with her [Angela]. I know she told you that she's looking, and she's totally not responding to my moves.
Pam: What moves?
Andy: I've moonwalked past accounting like ten times.
Pam: I can't believe that's not working.
Andy: Yeah.

Kelly: Darryl Philbin is the most complicated man that I have ever met. I mean who says exactly what they're thinking? What kind of game is that?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

World Series Game 1

SarahMarie, Lisa, and Holly: Oh, we feel so bad for the Rockies... we feel sorry for them! Look how young their pitcher is. He looks scared and disappointed. Poor Rockies. They are being trounced. They look so sad... etc...

FavoriteBoy: Ladies, please, get control of yourselves. This is not Lifetime television. This is baseball.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Any time I eat at Outback Steakhouse I am in awe of their Caesar salad. It's so... zesty! I think it's partly the blend of peppers they use, and partly their amazing croutons. Well, I'm happy to report that after searching online for seasonings used at Outback, last week I was able to re-create croutons remarkably similar to those at Outback. They turned out really well!

1 loaf of Italian bread
1 stick of butter
4-5 teaspoons of McCormick Cajun Seasoning
3-4 tablespoons of crushed garlic

Preheat oven to 275 F. Slice bread into crouton-sized pieces. Put bread on cookie sheet(s) and toast in oven until golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. While the bread is cooling, melt butter in microwave until it's just slightly melted, but not runny. Add seasoning and garlic to butter. When croutons are completely cool, mix croutons and butter mixture in large bowl. Coat each crouton using your hands, making sure the seasoning mixture sticks to each crouton. Put croutons back on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Gently shake the pan or use a spatula to stir the croutons in the middle of baking.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Birthday Cake

My husband turned 23 last week, and we celebrated his birthday with friends on Friday evening. I made all FavoriteBoy's favorite things: 6 homeade pizzas, 2 quarts of homeade vanilla ice cream (using David Lebovitz's recipe from The Perfect Scoop), and this amazing chocolate layer cake from Gourmet Magazine / This cake is moist and rich, and everyone who tries it thinks it is delicious. In fact, this cake is everything a chocolate cake should be - it actually tastes like chocolate, and not some diluted, dry, cakey substitute for chocolate.

I followed the recipe exactly, because FavoriteBoy loves his chocolate - and lots of it - but I also think this cake would be delicious with a raspberry filling (or any other fruit filling you wanted to use).

There is 1 lb. of chocolate in the ganache frosting alone. If you love chocolate, what's not to love about this cake?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Let's Go Red Sox!

This shouldn't be news to anyone by this point, but...


Sometimes it's not so bad to live in Mass.

Drew's first-inning grand slam Saturday night was incredible...

Tonight Youkilis and Papelbon made the team proud...

And FavoriteBoy and I are looking forward to Wednesday!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


It may be October on the East Coast, but the weather has remained unusually warm. It was only a few days ago that we took the air conditioning units out of the windows. One night last week the AC was off in our bedroom and I was a little too warm. FavoriteBoy was sleeping, so I quietly got up and turned the AC on. It made a tiny beep as I pressed the button, but FavoriteBoy lurched in bed, mumbling, "Extrebebatremee--extra--babatra--extremely! Extremely loud noise! Why did you do that? Everyone will hate me now!"

Among my favorite things about being married is hearing FavoriteBoy talk nonsense in his sleep. Being the good wife that I am, I respond to him quietly, soothing him and asking him what he means - all to keep him going so I can collect more funny stories about the things he says.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What a Deal

I bought a denim skirt at Old Navy for $3.97. Yes, really. I think this surpasses the time I got Express jeans for $9.99.

You may now address me as Queen of All Bargain Shoppers.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thanks, Sox

I blame the Red Sox that it is 11:45 and I am still awake. I gave the game up as lost hours ago, but still FavoriteBoy and I had to stay up and watch the dismal game unfold. Sigh.

But in 15 minutes it's officially FavoriteBoy's birthday, so being up late isn't so bad. I just made him a mug of birthday hot chocolate!

Long Overdue

I should have posted these photos a while ago. I am sometimes remiss in uploading photos from my camera in a timely fashion.

In August my father-in-law and brother-in-law came to visit. It was really fun having them here. We all went into Boston and had a great time. We toured the WWII fletcher-class destroyer USS Cassin Young,

explored three levels of 'Old Ironsides,'

had lunch at an historic pub, saw Paul Revere's house,

and climbed all 294 steps of the Bunker Hill Monument, where we had a nice view:

We discovered that Nathan might not have done too well in the early American Navy - he couldn't walk about on the lower decks of the USS Constitution because the beams were at his shoulder height! I, on the other hand, could stroll from one end of the ship to the other quite easily.

We went to the Old North Church:

And arguably best of all, I got a few classic photos of my inlaws! Rather than wait for a good blackmail opportunity, I've decided to share them with you now:

Here's Stevedad:

And here's Andrew:

I should mention that both of them willingly posed for those wonderful, touching photos.

I think I should take the time to post pictures more often.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Arrival of Autumn

At last the summer heat is leaving us and being replaced by the crisp air and colorful leaves of Fall. Ah, Autumn. The time of year when all my young violin and piano students come to lessons with runny noses and coughs. They sniff and hack their way through pages of John Thompson and Suzuki and leave behind them trails of dirty Kleenex...

and lots...

and lots...

of germs.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thought of the Evening

Some people should be mortified by their blatant and disgusting demonstrations of unmerited yet undisguised favoritism.

Of course, if the person responsible for said favoritism is widely considered practically God (or some earthly equivalent, powerful yet not entirely good), who is going to stop it?


A conversation with my brother Jonathan today:

Jonathan: Jenn and I have gone backpacking, camping, scuba diving, and spear fishing since we got married.
SarahMarie: Wow, aren't you adventurous. Nathan and I went for a walk once.
Jonathan: I hope you didn't get hurt. Don't start doing anything too crazy, now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Marital Mathematics

Everything I thought I knew about math has quickly dissolved since I got married. First FavoriteBoy and I were told, you know, marriage is the only time when 1 + 1 = 1, how cute, blah blah.

Then I realized that...

1 woman's laundry + 1 man's laundry somehow = 4x 1 woman's laundry...

1 woman's cooking to be done + 1 man's eating requirements to fulfill = a lot fewer easy salad meals and a lot more pot roasts and pork loins, brownies and chocolate cakes...

1 woman's dirty dishes + 1 man's dirty dishes = 5x 1 woman's dirty dishes...

1 woman's water splatters on the bathroom mirror + 1 man's sideburn trimmings, un-rinsed toothpaste spittle, and smeared shaving cream = 3x the mess a woman could possibly make...

And while I love each pair of dirty socks I find on the floor because they remind me that FavoriteBoy lives here, with me, I find myself wondering...

If marriage is a case of two individuals consolidating into one, why has the daily labor multiplied so dramatically?

Monday, October 8, 2007


Yesterday after a delightful lunch with family friends who were in town, FavoriteBoy and I journeyed to Macy's to spend a gift card that was about to expire. We thought we might buy some wine glasses or towels - until we saw this massage cushion. I had a 20% off coupon, we received an additional 10% off because we had a bridal registry there within the past year, and we paid with a gift card, so it was a triple bargain!

FavoriteBoy claims he bought it for my happiness, but he also admits the real reason: he bought it so he doesn't have to feel guilty when my back aches and he's too lazy (his words, not mine) to massage it!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Responses to "Anonymous"

I've received several insistent anonymous comments regarding my 9/11 post. It's my general policy to remove argumentative anonymous comments because I don't believe that a person genuinely seeking intellectual discourse would do so in an anonymous fashion; my email address is clearly provided on this blog as a more personal means of contacting me. That said, this commenter has persevered in his/her attempts, and I've decided to publish those comments here and respond to them.

Comment #1:
While I respect your intelligence, and your profound desire to reach depth in life, and share it with others---I must say, this is the only time in my life, I've been compelled to leave a comment on someone's blog that I don't even know.

I just wish to present the notion to you of the 'other perspective' in regards to the incident that took place on 9/11. I feel that your insistence that this event should not be referred to as a 'tragedy' shows a real lack of consideration for those who lost their lives, and lost ones they love. I feel that attacking the mindset of devastation our nation holds when we reflect upon this event, seems extremely cold and also moot. It's almost offensive to play semantics like that--- I would never in my life take it upon myself to assume the power of deciding what is technically a 'tragedy' and what is not. While I fully understand the intelligent and opinionated efforts one may have in arguing that our nation is not handling its attitude and efforts toward terrorism correctly, I just don't understand how you could say that. Calling this event a 'tragedy' is not in any way placing the responsibility in the hands of fate. It's just an expression of loss, unexpected invasion, and the abrupt end to something beautiful---life, and lots of it.

Hopefully you understand where I am coming from, and you will reconsider your attitude when it comes to disregarding the human realities for the sake of a political platform. I'll confess, I have read your blog here and there, and I know what a compassionate person you are, from a distance, of course. I just wanted you to be aware of your words and how they come across, and hope that you don't make the mistake of discussing this political view in front of someone who has lost someone at ground zero.

You've made a lot of statements here, and I'll do my best to respond to them.

"I feel that your insistence that this event should not be referred to as a 'tragedy' shows a real lack of consideration for those who lost their lives, and lost ones they love."

I did not "insist" on anything in my post. You are free to use whatever terminology you choose to refer to any and all events in our country's history. It was never my intention to be inconsiderate; on the contrary it was only my intent to consider and remember the millions of lives that have been drastically changed since September 11 six years ago.

"I feel that attacking the mindset of devastation our nation holds when we reflect upon this event, seems extremely cold and also moot."

I do not see how a careful reading of my post could lead anyone to conclude that I was attacking anyone's devastation. If I took a cold-hearted approach to the losses the world has suffered since 9/11 I would not have been moved to write the post in the first place. It is because I feel our nation's losses so deeply that I believe all the things I wrote in that post.

"It's almost offensive to play semantics like that--- I would never in my life take it upon myself to assume the power of deciding what is technically a 'tragedy' and what is not."

It was not my intent to offend. Politics are always a hot topic, and I am naturally aware of the varying sentiments felt around the world surrounding the war on terror. In fact, I rarely speak of politics on my blog. I hate confrontation and arguments and I probably worry too much about offending people. That said, you just can't go through life being offended by everyone who has a different perspective. What you viewed as offensive semantics was intended only to be a few of my humble thoughts in the hopes that a few might find them worth reading. I had read a few other posts on 9/11 that day, and many were, frankly, self-absorbed. "I remember where I was when I heard; here is how I feel..." I felt compelled to write a few of my thoughts precisely because I don't believe that in my case a self-absorbed response or remembrance is appropriate. At the risk of sounding insensitive, I believe many people take a selfish approach to what is in fact a world-wide grief; an event whose repercussions are felt daily by many around the world far more brutally than they are felt by us in America. (Of course, whether our country reponds appropriately to these events and to this war on terror is another topic altogether.) In any case, I don't think anyone thoroughly examining my post would view my thoughts on 9/11 as a "power trip" as you say. That was certainly not my intent.

"Calling this event a 'tragedy' is not in any way placing the responsibility in the hands of fate."

It seems that you did not carefully observe my delineation between the modern definition of "tragedy" and the classical definition.

"Hopefully you understand where I am coming from, and you will reconsider your attitude when it comes to disregarding the human realities for the sake of a political platform."

I am not running for any office and don't have a political platform. (If I did, this blog wouldn't be the place I'd choose to discuss it!) I would never, never disregard human life for any platform, political or otherwise. Again, I believe a careful reading of my post cannot show anything other than a true sorrow for the suffering not only of our nation but of the world since 9/11.

Comment #2:
I see my comment got deleted. Don't you have anything to say for yourself at all? There was no intention to offend, just wanted to point something out to you, and I'm disappointed to see an attempt to ignore rather than to address.

A comment box isn't a realistic place for a dialogue of this nature. When I receive an anonymous comment, there is no reason for me to expect that the commenter will return and re-open the comment box to look for a response. I had no way of knowing you were truly seeking a conversation with me; if you had emailed me directly I would have responded promptly.

Comment #3:
I don't understand why you've deleted both of my comments.... I think I make a valid point, and just so you know, I am one of your husband's closer high school friends.. like I said.. I didn't mean to offend... I just wanted to see if you had anything to say to another point of view.. Let me know if you have reflected at all on what I had to say. I think it shows a great deal about you that you have enough nerve to post your every thought on here, but hide someone's response.

It is certainly not my wish to reflect poorly on Nathan to any former friends of his. That said, it's unreasonable for you to expect me to "let you know" anything since you have provided me with no name or contact information.

I am sure you are correct - my blog does "show a great deal" about me. However, if you assume that I post my "every thought" here, you must think I am a very shallow person! I post a few thoughts here, because it is my blog and my place for sharing my life, thoughts, and interests with family and friends. It is not a platform for anonymous attacks from those who do not know me or those who are unwilling to seek a discourse in a reasonable fashion. It is completely at my discretion whose comments I choose to publish and whose I choose to hide. If you would like to comment and leave your name, I can almost guarantee (short of inappropriate content or profanity) that I will allow your comment to be published. If you want to think that my decision to remove your comments reveals a great deal of negative things about my character, well, that's your prerogative.

There you go, Anonymous. You were very eager to have your comments heard, and now I have published them and devoted my morning to responding to them. I hope this clarifies any misunderstandings about my original post. Might I suggest that if you are offended by the content in my blog you simply stop reading it? I don't read the blogs of extremist left-wing liberal nutjobs very often, probably because they would raise my blood pressure to dangerous levels. If you think I'm a cold-hearted, war-mongering, insensitive person and find my views so upsetting, it frankly surprises me that you continue to read my blog.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fashionably Violinistic

I have no idea what this article says, but you should take a look anyway - Amsterdam-based fashion designers Viktor & Rolf have created a line of clothing using the violin as inspiration! The results are... interesting.

Thursday, October 4, 2007


This evening I was telling FavoriteBoy that I had somehow hurt my shoulder at the gym and it was causing me a bit of pain. When he responded, I heard:

"Oh, my telekinetic wife."

What he actually said was less interesting:

"Oh, my delicate little wife."

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The End of an Era

Last night FavoriteBoy and I finished the final episode of the final season of JAG. FavoriteBoy shrieked and squealed in mockery of the fabulous and long-awaited kissing scene with Harm and Mac - his cruel attempt to ruin the scene the entire evening for me.

FavoriteBoy had seen many JAG episodes as a kid, but I grew up in the sticks with no TV reception, so when we began watching the early episodes shortly after we got married it was a new discovery for me. We skipped season 1 because FavoriteBoy assured me that all the characters were better cast beginning in the second season. We started with season 2 and proceeded to watch straight through 9 seasons of this fabulous show.

When we reached season 10 about a month ago, the following conversation took place:

SarahMarie: What will we do when we've finished all the episodes of JAG?
FavoriteBoy: We could always watch a 90's sitcom like ___ (I can't remember the title he suggested) or something.
SarahMarie: Is that a comedy? I don't think I like comedies. I probably only like military drama. I like NCIS and JAG. Once we have finished watching all the episodes we will destroy our television in homage to those great shows as a demonstration of our allegiance.
FavoriteBoy: Yes, dear.

Well, we have finished JAG but have left our television intact. There are still new episodes of NCIS to look forward to each Tuesday night, and then there's The Office on Thursday nights!

But I think I'm suffering JAG withdrawal all the same.

Monday, October 1, 2007

" 'Planting Bombs Under Their Seats"

This past weekend I played two concerts with the C. A. Symphony. We performed Weber's Overture to Oberon, the Saint-Saëns cello concerto (with a BSO cellist as soloist), and Beethoven's famed 5th Symphony. The concerts weren't great, but in terms of terrible quality, the program notes far outshone the performances! They wandered aimlessly across a wide variety of topics with no focus or clear direction. The style was bad, the grammar was atrocious, and unnecessary punctuation marks were inserted here and there as careless typos. I am typing select passages below for you all to enjoy:

"Today's program, covers Romanticism in the 19th Century."

"To the early romantics, the big man--Beethoven always excepted--was Carl Maria von Weber and a good case for him can be made as the first of the true Romantics. He met most of the specifications. He was a major pianist--a touring virtuoso, his music was ahead of its time, he wrote operas on supernatural subjects, he dabbled in literature, and he had the fashionable disease--consumption, which carried him off at the age of 40."

"It is not generally realized that Saint Saens [sic] was an awesome child prodigy. He possessed the gifts of a very high IQ, absolute pitch, and he could read and write before he was three, when he composed his first piece."

"The most popular operatic composer of the period was Jules Massenet, but I notice that he is not on Saint Saens' list of great French composers. He is not on mine either."

"I suppose in opera you can get away with anything if the audiences loved it. They still do."

"Beethoven, unlike musicians before him, considered himself an artist and he stood up for his rights as an artist. He kicked open the doors, stormed in and made himself at home. And he had what Mozart lacked - a powerful personality that awed all those who came in contact with him. This high-voltage personality was coupled with an equally high-voltage order of genius. Beethoven had been a child prodigy and he suffered from the same syndrom as Mozart when he emerged as an adult - immaturity. He was the greatest pianist of his time, but where pianists before him elegantly wooed an audience, Beethoven's performance tactics were more like 'planting [sic] bombs under their seats."

"Unlike Mozart who carried everything in his head and then all he had to do was copy out the material, Beethoven struggled for four years to get this piece to the perfection in his mind."

"That motto theme [sic] permeates -- sometimes to a roar, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes as a barely audible throbbing in the depths of the orchestra."
(This is regarding the infamous theme of the first movement, which is, in fact, the only movement even discussed in the program notes. Nice.)

Sunday, September 30, 2007


Tonight FavoriteBoy and I somehow got onto the topic of bad qualities that some women stereotypically possess - being manipulative, being moody, etc.

SarahMarie: Well, I have a bad quality.
FavoriteBoy: What?
SarahMarie: Obesity.
FavoriteBoy: That's more of a quantity than a quality, ha-ha!
FavoriteBoy: I mean, you're not obese.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Classical Music in Film

A question for my readers: In your opinion, what is the best use of a well-known classical piece in a film? Here are a few I think are notable:

1) The Letter Duet (Che soave zeffiretto) from The Marriage of Figaro by Mozart in The Shawshank Redemption.
In his quest to procure books for the prison library, Andy also acquires a box of records. He sorts through them and comes across Le Nozze di Figaro. He plays the Letter Duet over the loudspeaker for all the inmates to hear. Red says,
"I have no idea to this day what those two Italian ladies were singin' about. Truth is, I don't want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I like to think they were singing about something so beautiful it can't be expressed in words, and it makes your heart ache because of it. I tell you, those voices soared... and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free."

(Watch the excerpt from the film here.)

2) Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 1st Movement in Equilibrium.
As I recall I wasn't crazy about this movie, but I loved the use of the Beethoven 1st movement as opposed to the ever-popular final movement. Equilibrium is a futuristic film about a man named John Preston living under a regime in which all human emotions are suppressed through drugs and strict laws eliminating books, music, and art. In this scene, Preston finds a hidden room containing, among other things, an old Victrola. He proceeds to listen to Beethoven for the first time. The choice of music is really perfect because the piece develops from almost nothing (faint sounds that could be no more than an orchestra tuning if you didn't know the piece) into something powerfully moving in a matter of seconds. That said, the scene isn't as effective as it could have been; I read that the director of the film wanted to use Karajan's recording with the Berlin Philharmonic but found that it would cost $75,000 to use the 90 seconds he needed for the film. They couldn't afford it, so they had to use a cheap recording, which I think lessens the impact of the scene.

3) Pizzicati from Sylvia by Delibes in Babe.
"This is a tale about an unprejudiced heart, and how it changed our valley forever..." I've loved the movie Babe since its release in 1995. The music in the film is well-chosen, appropriately ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Pizzicati is the piece playing when Babe and Ferdinand sneak into the house to steal the alarm clock. I believe on the back of the CD the track is humorously titled "Anorexic Duck Pizzicato."

(Of course, the Delibes piece may not actually compare in scope or grandeur to the mice singing "If I Had Words," which you can listen to here.)

4) Saint-Saëns Symphony No. 3 "Organ," 4th mvt. in Babe.
Okay, so I like Babe! Cut me some slack; I grew up in the boonies and could identify with hicks from an early age. The Saint-Saëns is sublime and a fitting piece to bring the film to a close. I love it.

5) The Gran Partita Adagio by Mozart in Amadeus.
As movie-watchers hear the faint strains of the oboe from the adjoining room, Salieri's vivid description of the adagio sends a shiver down my spine:

"On the page it looked - nothing. The beginning simple, almost comic. Just a pulse - bassoons, basset horns - like a rusty squeezebox. And then, suddenly, high above it, an oboe. A single note, hanging there, unwavering. Until - a clarinet took over - sweetened it into a phrase of such delight! This was no composition by a performing monkey. This was a music I'd never heard. Filled with such longing, such unfulfillable longing. It seemed to me that I was hearing the voice of God."

6) The Confutatis from Mozart's Requiem in Amadeus.
Regardless of the historical accuracy of this scene, I think it's wonderful the way the parts are introduced individually as Mozart dictates to Salieri, and then we hear the work in its completion - as Mozart was hearing it in his head. Watch the scene here. Hearing the Lacrimosa as Mozart's body is thrown into a mass grave is another very moving scene from the film.

7) Nessun Dorma by Puccini in The Sum of All Fears.
The Sum of All Fears isn't a favorite movie of mine, although I often enjoy CIA-type action movies along similar lines. I'm mentioning this one even though I don't necessarily think it's a great moment in film... just a unique one. Watching a discrete depiction of a throat being slit followed by a shooting and a car explosion to the sounds of one of the most famous tenor arias of all time is one of those things that just stays with you. If you're in the mood to watch a few executions and hear a little opera, you can watch the scene here.

Leave a comment and tell me your favorite instance of classical music in film! Or better yet, if you have a blog, post it there, link back here, and let me know!