Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Even though my birthday is in September and I knew about my present in August, my gift arrived last Thursday evening sandwiched between two trips up to Mayo Clinic for chemo treatments. As noted in an earlier post, my daughter and I have been long time fans of the singing group Celtic Thunder. This past Wednesday Kylynn and I made our way down to my sister's house in Tennessee and on Thursday evening we took our places in the front row of a Celtic Thunder concert. Yes, front row, that was my gift. Well, that and being able to share the experience with my little Aria, and what an experience it was!

Kylynn and I arrived in down town Nashville quite early before the 7:30 performance so we set off for a bit of a walk around the area to see what we could see. The concert was at the TPAC, The Tennessee Performing Arts Center, and as we walked around the building Kylynn was quick to spy the Celtic Thunder equipment trucks parked in the loading dock. Kylynn was excited about seeing the trucks and would have likely enjoyed watching them being unloaded, but being that they were parked inside a garage like structure watching was not possible. So we continued around the building. Turning the corner we were greeted with the sight of all of the tour buses lined parked along the side of the building. I explained to Kylynn that the guys were on those buses and she literally stopped in her tracks and stared. "Damian is on one of those buses?", my little girl asked in amazement. (Damian is Kylynn's favorite in the group) I told her that indeed he likely was and this started Kylynn wondering what Damian might be doing right then as we were walking by. Of course, knowing that she was in such close proximity to 5 people that she idolizes also made Kylynn quite nervous and she asked if we could move away from the buses. And so we continued our stroll around the area.

This part of our walk took us into a bit of a surprise and our only non-Celtic Thunder related part of our evening. Kylynn and I decided to try to find a place to sit and rest for a bit and this led us to some benches that are located across the street from the Hermitage Hotel. As we settled ourselves we noticed a group of about 5-6 people standing across the street from the hotel holding multiple hockey related items, wearing New Jersey Devils jerseys, and staring at the entrance to the hotel as if waiting for something. My little brother, Jeff, is a huge Devils fan and, consequently, so is Kylynn. She recognized the jerseys right away and asked what the people were doing. Now, I enjoy hockey but I had no idea if the Devils were in town for a game or not, so I got on the phone. I tried my brother first and got no answer so I called my sister, Amy. She looked it up and indeed the Devils were in town for a game that evening. So we sat and watched the people who were watching the hotel. Within about 10 minutes 5-6 men in suits emerged from the hotel and the Devils fans descended upon them. I don't know the players by sight, I tend to need them in uniform with their names across their backs to recognize them, but by the actions of the others I was fairly certain we were looking at some of Jeff's and Kylynn's favorite players. We had nothing really for them to sign and Kylynn was being shy about going over by them, but we had a good time watching. And then Kylynn said, "Maybe they're here to see Celtic Thunder!" I told her that I was fairly certain that they were here to play a hockey game, but her comment made me laugh. By this time the sun was starting to go down, we were becoming a bit chilly, and so we set off to get our coats from the car and eat some dinner.

After eating it was about time to head to the theatre for the show. We were still early and this provided us with time for Kylynn to dance around the lobby of the TPAC with her curls bouncing, proclaiming herself an Irish dancer and then when it got too crowded for that, for us to work our way through the line and purchase Kylynn a program and a couple of posters. Purchases in hand, we made our way into the theatre and found our seats. Wow! I knew our seats were good, but wow! Kylynn just stared at the stage with amazement for quite some time. When she finally did speak it was to ask if the guys were going to be right there, right in front of us, almost close enough to touch. I told her that yes, they were going to be right there and that she would be able to see them really well and that they would be able to see her. She enjoyed that thought for a bit but then became a little nervous. My Kylynn some times, and I don't know why, gets nervous about getting attention from people who she really does want attention from. In any case, soon the lights were dimming and the show was about to start.

Kylynn climbed up on my lap as the first notes of "Heartland" rolled over us, her eyes wide with anticipation. As soon as the guys walked out on stage I felt Kylynn jump a little and then she turned her face up to me and whispered, "Damian is right there, Mommy. He's so close." And the look on Kylynn's face when the guys walked up to the edge of the stage for the first time was just priceless.

All five of the guys were fantastic that evening, but then, we expected no less. Sitting in the front row provided a bit of a different listening experience for me and, once I got used to it, it was quite enjoyable. Having never sat in the front row for anything like this I had no idea what to expect and it took me a few moments to figure out why everything sounded a little different to me. Then I realized that I was sitting close enough to be hearing the guys unamplified and then also amplified sort of at the same time. It was a really cool experience. Also, because of where our seats were, I was able to pick individual voices out of the group when they were harmonizing. Some voices I can pick out all the time, like Ryan's, but others, like Keith's is harder for me and so it was a real treat to be able to experience that in songs like "Danny Boy" and "Steal Away".

Each of our five guys wowed us in their own unique way. Keith sang "Castles in the Air" to start off and over the past 6 months the song has really grown on me so I enjoyed it quite a bit but more than the words, I enjoyed Keith's guitar playing during the song. We also heard "I Wanna Know What Love Is" from Keith as well as "Lauren and I" and the addition of Keith singing "Homes of Donegal" was a fantastic choice. Paul, with his rich tenor voice, took our breath away with "Remember Me" and I loved the addition of "Because We Believe" but, as it was last time we saw him, Paul drew us all in with "You Raise Me Up". The lady next to me had made a comment to me and Kylynn saying that kids seem not to like Paul as well as the others in the group. I'd have to say that I don't know that that is really true, and Kylynn answered with, "I like Paul, he has a pretty voice" (Paul, she really means that as a compliment) and Kylynn sat through each of Paul's songs with rapt attention and her hands folded in her lap. Paul also pairs up with Ryan to sing "That's a Woman" and I must say that Paul is very entertaining in that song. I love that the guys get a chance to show some of their personality and humor in the show and Paul makes me smile every time! And speaking of personality, Ryan was in fine form in Nashville. How anyone can sing lines like, "They say I'm the Dark Destroyer.", "They call me a romancer, a chancer, a gigolo" and "Welcome to the pleasure dome!" without laughing, I'll never know, but Ryan does it and some how makes women swoon while doing so, now that's impressive! But seriously, Ryan brings such character to all that he sings you can help but enjoy every bit of it. "Ride On", "Desperado", "Every Breath You Take", and especially "Heartbreaker" and "That's a Woman", Ryan delivered an excellent performance and I very much enjoyed seeing it up close. Incidentally, the one bit of Ryan"ness" that first sparked my interest in him and that still strikes me as showing a little bit of who Ryan really is, I only have ever seen in the first 2007 DVD, though there is a moment in "Ride On" that comes close. Now my little Aria's favorite guy is young mister Damian and he also gave us one fine performance. I enjoy all of Damian's songs but the one in this show that I feel is best suited to and showcases his voice best is "Steal Away", well done Damian! Of course, I absolutely love listening to "Come By the Hills" and getting to see Kylynn sing along with Damian in Gaelic to this song was so much fun! And I will forever remember Kylynn slipping her little hand into mine and lacing her fingers around mine while Damian sang us "A Bird Without
Wings". And Damian made such an effort to smile at Kylynn and tried very much to involve her, of course, Kylynn was being shy about getting so much attention from someone she idolizes so much, but the effort was much appreciated and now, Kylynn tells the story all the time about how Damian smiled at her. Out of the whole evening though, I have to say, that George made my heart the happiest. As it always is, George's singing was wonderful. I love "Working Man" just love it! And "500 Miles" was a huge hit, Kylynn was even clapping and singing along! George brings such emotion to "The Old Man" and I was pleased to hear it again in this tour, and I think that it is George who sets the tone for "Ireland's Call" and "Caledonia". But beyond his singing, George shown extra bright for me by smiling and waving to Kylynn during the concert even though she was being shy, and by kneeling down on the sidewalk after the concert by the buses, taking a minute to ask what Kylynn's name was and then addressing her personally. Not only did this make me, as a mother, so happy, but it really made an impression on Kylynn. She talks about it still and will say, "George knows my name now." and "George has a little girl just like me and so he really likes me." It is all very adorable and is something that she and I will both remember forever. Thank you so very much, George.

After the concert we had to walk back past the buses to get to the parking garage and, even though we
really aren't supposed to, Kylynn and I stopped and waited with the group of people already gathered to see if we could meet a couple of the boys. It was not a long wait before Keith appeared and graciously signed autographs and posed for pictures. Kylynn was still unsure about meeting any of the guys but Keith was very kind to her and said, "I would really like a photograph with you." and so Kylynn allowed me to pick her up so someone could take her picture with Keith. (Sadly, none of my pictures with the guys turned out, but we did get autographs!) Next to appear was Ryan who also had kind words for Kylynn. He asked her if she was in the front row and then said that he saw her there. That made Kylynn smile. Then George came out and, as I mentioned before, he got right down by Kylynn and had a little chat with her. Such a sweet man! Paul and Damian were doing the Meet and Greet which, sadly, we did not have tickets to. We got to see them briefly as the came out of the building but were not able to meet them. I was a little sad Kylynn didn't get to get Damian's autograph but she was okay with it though and reminded me that he smiled at her during the show.

And so ended a great evening. Kylynn was asleep before we even made it out of the parking garage and so I was left in pleasant silence to ponder and smile about our evening's experiences.

Even on the rainiest days, days that are filled with chemo appointments and days that I just spend feeling horrible, there is the memory of beautiful evenings spent making memories with my baby girl and the hope of many more to follow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

T-shirts For Sale!

Hey, Even On The Rainiest Day blog readers (this would be YOU)! This is not Rebecca posting. This is her younger sister, Amy. I have momentarily hijacked her blog to share something with all of you who know (even if it’s via the internet) and love Rebecca.

Rebecca has been bravely battling this (stupid) cancer for almost 4 years now. Wow. As I write that, I can hardly believe it’s been that long. Every day we’re given with Rebecca is such a gift. Every day we’re given with any loved one is a gift, but sometimes circumstances make us more aware of that gift.

This cancer has changed so much for Rebecca, and it has changed much for all those in her life as well. Some changes have been blessings in one heck of a disguise (think Hollywood special effect department kind of disguise). And then obviously, there are changes that are also very, very unwelcome.

Cancer isn’t usually satisfied to attack only the body. We have discovered that it likes to attack the mind, the spirit, relationships, finances… Whatever it can get it’s grubby little mitts on. That’s not to say cancer will win any of those battles, but it sure tries hard!

We, Rebecca’s family, have taken up our swords, nunchucks, bazookas, and Chinese throwing stars in an effort to help thwart off cancer’s evil attacks. We’re hoping you can help with our latest retaliation.

We have designed these super-cool t-shirts to help both Rebecca’s finances and her spirits! The words on the t-shirt come straight out of this blog post from Rebecca. You can help by purchasing a t-shirt (they’re only $20 each) and then wearing it proudly for Rebecca! Let’s let her know that we love her and support her. (If you don’t live near Rebecca, perhaps you can send her a picture of you sporting your t-shirt?)

Let’s think of these t-shirts as a kind of suit of armor. Gear up! And let’s help Rebecca kick some cancer butt!!!

If you order a t-shirt, please also send me an e-mail so I know as the paypal is linked to an account that isn't often checked. Thank you.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Kylynn and Ashe

So Kylynn has been asking me for quite awhile when she can start to learn to play the harp. I had decided, after talking with my harp teacher, that I would start teaching her myself and when she get a little bigger I would start formal lessons. So earlier this week I ordered a book of harp music/lessons that Carl, my harp teacher, recommended and yesterday it arrived at my home. Kylynn spotted the book first thing this morning and, once she realized the book was for her, has done little else except sit and play the harp with me, or ask endlessly if we can play the harp again. While I love that she is loving it so much and that she is so good (so far) about taking instruction from me, it is a bit exhausting. But still, she is so darn cute and so excited.

In any case, I fear that Ashe is no longer just mine. Though he is bigger than Kylynn is she has claimed him as hers as well and explained to me that I will have to share so that she can practice. But even though I will have too share my beloved harp, I am happy. I am very happy that Kylynn wants to play the harp because her mommy plays the harp. And I am glad that she wants mommy to teach her. So you see, even on the rainiest days, there is sunlight that our children bring with their enthusiasm, joy, and flattery in wanting to be like us.