Monday, July 27, 2015

The Best Day EVER!!

Some of you may know that I'm a member of the Irish Heritage Singers in Chicago. We're a small group that sings a mix of traditional and contemporary Irish music. I've been a member for almost three years now, and I've loved my time with them. I've been able to sing at the Milwaukee Irish Fest, and for the President of Ireland! But, all of that lost all meaning a couple of weeks ago, when I got to sing at the Taste of Chicago with THE CHIEFTAINS!!!!!!

For those of you who don't know, The Chieftains are freaking awesome! They've been around for 53 years, and they've played with musicians from Joan Baez to Elvis Costello to a NASA astronaut...and so many more! They play Irish music, but also put an Irish spin on music from other countries. I discovered Irish music in high school, and I've loved The Chieftains ever since then.

Sound check!
Imagine my surprise when our director told us that we had the opportunity to sing with them! Elated doesn't even begin to cover it! The whole thing came together quickly, and before I knew it, we were at the Taste, warming up onstage with THE CHIEFTAINS!!!!

They were totally lovely and wonderful to work with, and said such nice things about us. It was really a dream come true--and that was just the warm up!

After sound check, we had some free time to wander around the Taste, and since it had been several years since I'd been able to go, I took full advantage of my afternoon. One of my fellow Singers and I wandered around together, sampling some of the tasty food available. It was so much fun, just having an afternoon downtown to play tourist--I hadn't done that in a long time! Plus, the weather was absolutely perfect--it was just a great day to be outside, enjoying some of the best Chicago has to offer.

After all our Tasting, it was time to head back to get ready for the concert. I don't think I've spent that long primping in a while; but I had to look my best! After we warmed up together, I sat backstage and listened to the concert. I've been to a Chieftains concert before, but experiencing it from backstage was really cool. I loved seeing everything that went into the concert. I didn't realize it, but they ask local choirs, bagpipers and dancers to join them when they perform. I love that! It's a great way to show how Irish heritage is alive and well wherever they travel!

And suddenly, it was time for us to go on! We filed onstage, the music started...and we SANG! It was such a fabulous experience! The crowd was great, and it was all so much fun. We got to watch the dancers while we were onstage, and the bagpipers went on right after us, so we got to the whole Chieftains experience.

Once we left the stage, I thought that was it, but I was wrong! I asked one of the professional dancers if I could take a picture with him, and he invited me to join them all onstage, dancing in the final song. Of course I said yes! At the end of the concert, they did a big dance line across the stage, through the audience and then back to the stage, and I joined right in with them! Totally the perfect end to an awesome day! Speaking of perfect: the whole thing was made even better by the fact that Hubby and the Things were in the audience as well! It really was an awesome day, and the fact that my family got to be there with me was absolutely amazing.
It's already been over two weeks since the concert, and I still can't believe that it happened. I'm so glad I had this opportunity--it really was the most amazing thing.

And now, back to your regularly scheduled blogging! Thanks for bearing with my excitement!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July!
Our second 4th of July as a family has come and gone, and I have to say, it went pretty well! We had a lovely, long weekend together, with lots of adventures all around! The only person with any complaints about the weekend is Mischa, and she got to sleep in our bed when there were fireworks, so I think she came out pretty well in the bargain. (She's absolutely terrified of fireworks and thunderstorms, so she spent a lot of the weekend shivering under the covers in our bed.)

Thing 2 loved the rocky horse!
Saturday, as I mentioned before, was the Things' first race! Hubby and I were both a little apprehensive, since it started at 12:45--squarely in the middle of nap time. However, the Things love new surroundings! They may have been a little sleepy, but by the time we got to the park where the race was to start, they were ready to be entertained.

We played at the park for the 30 minutes before the race started, which may have been a rookie mistake. Who lets their kids wear themselves out right before they have to run a race!?!? Oops!

Big boy on the slide!
This was probably the most busy they'd ever seen a playground before, but they handled it like champs. There were big kids running and jumping all around them (although, they were actually impressively attentive to the littler ones--no one got trampled), but the Things kept on doing their...things. We tried not to hover too much, and just watched them figure stuff out on their own, which was pretty great!

Finally, the Northwestern mascot came out to lead all the kids in some stretching before the race started. Thing 1 showed no interest in that whatsoever, but Thing 2 was intrigued by the process. She stood with the other kids and watched them windmill their arms and touch their toes. She didn't do any of it, but she was clearly very curious about the proceedings...
Thing 2, not stretching

And then, it was race time! We all lined up in the street--they let the older kids start first, and we waited way at the back of the pack. When it was our turn, the Things trotted off, arms flapping in excitement. They held our hands, and smiled the whole time, even when they got tired. Lots of people were there to cheer on the kids, and the Things got lots of attention as the smallest racers. I think they really liked all the people clapping for them! There was also a policeman on a motorcycle, who absolutely entranced Thing 1.

Sure, Thing 2 needed to be carried for a few steps by the end, but when I asked her if she could cross the finish line by herself she said "YEAH!" And she did. Sure, we were the last and second-to-last finishers in the race. Sure, it felt like the longest, slowest half mile ever. BUT, the kids finished their first race! They got finisher ribbons, and post-race treats for their hard work. I'm hoping this will be the first of many races they run, and I can't wait to really run races with them as they get bigger!
We did it!

The rest of the weekend was spent cooking out, hanging out with friends, and taking our first trip to the Kohl Children's Museum! That was lots of fun, but I'll save that update for another post. We didn't see any fireworks, but I think we celebrated just fine without them