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first this happened, then this happened, and we can’t wait for more

Posted on 19 Dec 12 by in family fringes | 7 comments


First, this happened. Conversation transcribed as exactly as can be expected:

My dad: Hey, I’m looking at the schedule of the kids’ events you sent me at the beginning of the year. Does Jon Alex still have an orchestra concert on the 18th?

Me: Oh. I haven’t heard anything about it. Maybe the beginning orchestra kids aren’t playing.

Me (to Jon Alex): Jon Alex, do you have an orchestra concert on the 18th?

Jon Alex: *shrug*

Me (to my dad): I guess not.


Me, after the email: Jon Alex, do you have an orchestra concert tomorrow?

Jon Alex: *shrug*

Me: I got an email saying you have an orchestra concert tomorrow. Are you not playing in it?

Jon Alex: I think I’m playing Jingle Bells

Me, already knowing the answer: Do you have to wear anything special for the concert?

Jon Alex: I don’t think so. Just some pants.

Me, dialing the utility company on my phone, now needing to make payment arrangements for the current bill because someone needs a white dress shirt, black dress pants, black dress shoes and some goddamned cupcakes by the next day: Please go practice your Jingle Bells, Jon Alex

Arriving at the school cafeteria slash concert hall, we pick up a program which reads:

Orchestra Beginners

Ode to Joy ………………………Beethoven

Can Can ………………………….Offenbach

Jolly Old St. Nicholas ……….American carol

Up on the Housetop …………Hanby

Brandenburg No. 5 ………….Bach/Meyer

Not a Jingle Bell in sight.

Know this: Jon Alex is also part of the school’s military detachment run by a loving, but very strict commander. If those cadets aren’t ready for a certain event, they are not allowed to attend. So as I’m reading the program and I know I never heard Jon Alex practicing any of the selections listed, I’m convinced Jon Alex is not supposed to be there. We are seating in the way back, plus my son is one of those tiny little sixth grade boys, so we couldn’t see if Jon Alex was in the orchestra pit or sequestered in the orchestra classroom. After getting a feisty Ehren as settled as I could, I made my way through the parents slash videographers and finally spotted Jon Alex in the back of the pit (um, fifth chair?), bow in position. Beethoven’s Ode to Joy began, he was playing right along, it was a beautiful performance. I decided he must be an idiot savant.

Me, on the way home after the combined orchestra finale of, yes, Jingle Bells: Jon Alex, did you not know you were playing those five songs tonight?

Jon Alex: Not really.

Me: But you played beautifully, the concert was wonderful (it really was), you only stumbled a bit over Up on the Housetop—

Jon Alex, interrupting: —and on Jolly Old St. Nicholas

Me: Right! How did you know how to play the songs if you didn’t know you were going to be playing them tonight?

Jon Alex: We were learning them, I JUST DIDN’T KNOW WHAT FOR.

Me: Fair enough. What can I say except good job, buddy.

Then this happened and it’s amazing

I’d been hearing through the grapevine how my number-crunching, State Department economist friend Jackie was now this fabulous quilting artist, but it was hard to believe until Jackie started submitting various blog posts to the grid over at yeah write and I started browsing through her stuff. She is really good. So I asked if we could exchange services: I’d build her a kickass e-commerce site for selling her handmade dolls and showing off her (commission-only) quilts if she’d make some dolls and tapestries for the grandparents of my kids for Christmas presents.

I sent her this photo


And she quilted this tapestry

I sent her this photo


And she made these adorable dolls.



The Jordan doll in the center is wearing a dress Jackie hand sewed from Jordan’s christening gown from her baby baptism in 1995. Both the Jon Alex and Ehren dolls are wearing hand sewn vests made from Jon Alex’s 2001 baby baptism suit, and the pants were made from the shorts. Aren’t you in awe of Jackie’s creativity? That must have been some U.S. State Department crafting class. I wonder if Warren Christopher led the sewing sessions.

My parents are notoriously hard to buy for, and I spend way too much time trying to get their gifts “just right.” If they aren’t blown away by these tapestries and dolls, I will run them over with my car in separate tragic incidents. Q’s mother is also getting a set. I know she will love them no matter what because Q’s mother is awesome.

Can’t wait for this to happen

This is probably not an actual photo of Louise’s house upon which we will be descending this weekend with baby, kids, puppy, dog and general excitement, but I’m sure it’s close enough. Packing lots of clean lounging wear, that’s for sure. And dog-walking shoes.

All your this happened, this happened and can’t waits in comments…


  1. I guess Jingle Bells was either the easiest song to play or the only one he could remember the name of. At least it wasn’t some sort of solo performance…

    • He also didn’t have his sheet music, so he was playing each selection by memory. He is amazing yet so frustrating. You need a roommate? He’s available.

  2. Loved the band concert story. Is it a boy thing? My son is SO much like that.

    Oh, and our school calls the lunchroom/performance space the “cafetorium,” which makes me laugh every time I hear it.

    The quilt and dolls are so beautiful. What special gifts!

    • It seems like he’s in another world most times, but he’s listening well enough not to fall through sewer grates.

      Haha…I hate the word cafetorium and refuse to use it in polite company.

      Kathleen, I will have parents for sale if they don’t like the gifts. Lemme know if you know anybody in the market for elderly ingrates.

  3. So much awesome – the concert sounds wonderful. And Jackie is SO talented. Anyone would love to get such an original and personal gift. Have fun with Louise and her menagerie! Can’t wait to hear all about it :)

  4. Can’t wait to see y’all tomorrow! Jackie is too talented for words and if your parents don’t love the gifts with love in all caps, I’ll help you run them over.

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