Two-handed Birthday

Avi’s birthday was Monday, July 25. He turned 6 years old, which I was fine about until a friend pointed out that my little boy now needs two hands (unless the other party is fluent in ASL) to indicate his age. Whoa. Suddenly that seems so old!

Avi blows out the candles with a little help from his cousin Finley.

In the past year, Avi has learned how to read, count past 100, make his own soy butter and jelly sandwiches, pour his own milk, take showers alone and mostly ride his bike. His ice skating his improved exponentially, and he’s playing on his first mite hockey team. He’s also taking ballet and gymnastics, and if he could add one more activity it would absolutely be drum lessons. Or piano. No, soccer. Tap dancing? Definitely tennis. Or swimming. Oh my gosh, this kid loves everything!

He’s a champion sleeper like his dad and easily distracted like his mom. Good combination.

He is also at least fifty feet tall.

He’s a total ham, with an insatiable appetite for pop music, correct lyrics be damned.

"I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, singing hay-o...we're going to rock this house, like it's dynamite!"

And if you don’t believe me, you can ask youtube.

We recently finished the first Harry Potter book and watched the movie. He is fascinated with magic and spells and especially quidditch.

But he isn’t quite ready to start the second book yet. He is still painfully sensitive sometimes, and worried to the point of tears that Harry, Hermione and Ron might “get in trouble” when they were out of their beds at night.

Sometimes I look at him and can’t find that sleeping baby I remember so well.

So I look and look and look some more.

Universal blog signal for "looking everywhere", right?

Oh! There he is. My baby. My Avi.

Happy birthday.


Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival

(No, I don’t have tickets to give away.)

You can buy them here, though. Because what better way to celebrate Mother’s Day than to order tickets to a children’s theater festival next weekend? (I’m actually not really joking.)

I have very tangible memories of attending the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival as a child. Since the festival is turning 25, that would make me probably 8 or 9 when I attended, which is well within memory range for even a goldfish like myself. This year we are taking Avi to see Knuffle Bunny with his cousin on Sunday afternoon, since the weekend wasn’t full enough already with the senior jazz concert, Pittsburgh marathon, commencement and my dad’s epic birthday.

Speaking of birthdays, I am a little bummed that we’re missing the Children’s Festival birthday bash because of all the other weekend events. I like birthday parties, especially ones that involve complimentary theater tickets. You can still go without me, though. I won’t mind.

And seriously, if you haven’t taken your kids to see live theater yet, after my many many soapbox posts, this is really the perfect opportunity. Tickets are so reasonable (like under ten bucks a piece), and there are tons of shows and genres to pick from. If you can’t decide, go for the birthday bash and make a day of it. Wish we could do the same.


I’m seeing next to normal next week.*

No biggie. It *only* won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2010. Do you know the last time that happened? 1996. Know the musical? Maybe you’ve heard of it…RENT. Even better? The same director – Michael Greif – was responsible for both.

Perhaps now you can start to understand my excitement. Eleven Tony nominations, three wins for Score, Orchestration and Best Actress for Alice Ripley WHO IS COMING TO PITTSBURGH.

Friends, how often do you get a chance to see an actress on tour in the role that won her a Tony?!

(A clue: not that often.)

So yeah, I’m pretty stoked. Even though I am unbelievably busy at work with a little thing we like to call Spring Carnival & Reunion Weekend, I’m taking one of my precious free evenings to see this awesome show.

Wanna come too?

Use the promo code SUPERBOY for $15 off tickets in price levels A, B and C for performances on Tuesday, April 5 and Wednesday, April 6. And if you pick Tuesday, let me know! That’s when I’ll be there.

You have to log in to the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust in order to use the promo code, so don’t skip that step.

And don’t skip this show. Seriously.

Fine print: I received this discount code as a proud member of the Greater Pittsburgh arts community, and confirmed with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust that it was okay to share. I acquired my tickets elsewhere – thanks Rachel!

*Wikipedia told me it was stylized like that.


I saw the School of Drama‘s production of “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” last night. It’s open through this weekend, so there is still time for you to get tickets. And you should.

It’s hilarious and sweet and very William Finn (which I believe is a great thing since “Falsettos” is probably my favorite musical ever).

It’s also at the New Hazlett Theater instead of the Chosky on campus. I just think that was an incredible opportunity for the students to have almost a mini-tour experience, moving from Purnell for rehearsal and build to the Hazlett for load-in and tech and the show… Last night they did a talk-back with the audience, and I asked them to speak a little bit about how the production process was affected because of the move. I was hoping they’d say what they did –  that it felt more “professional”, that it changed their perception greatly, that it presented new challenges and new rewards.

Next season, Drama is doing a number of shows that caught my interest – including “Sweeney Todd”, “Master Harold… and the Boys” and “Hair”. It’s taken ten years (since I was a student there myself), but it’s high time I actually subscribe, don’t you think? I’ll be doing the Tuesday-evening series (once it’s officially officially announced and available for purchase) since they benefit Showcase and (usually) include a talk-back.

Let me know if you want to come too.

Missing something

I miss singing.

I mean, I sing all the time at home. On road trips, while I’m working, with Avi (although I usually can’t keep up with his unique lyrics and medleys. Last night’s example: a song about “female chocolate space”. I’m not kidding.) All that is great, but it’s not really what I mean.

I miss singing with a group. Learning parts and perfecting harmonies. Mostly a capella, but I think that’s because it’s always been easier for me to focus without the accompaniment. I don’t mean heavily classical stuff, either. I sang with the Bach Choir of Pittsburgh for a couple of seasons before Avi was born. It was great and I learned a ton, but that’s not the style that I’m looking for. I want something smaller, more contemporary. Less formal.

I should note that this desire has nothing whatsoever to do with Glee, although I certainly have nothing against the show. I’ve just never seen it. We don’t have a tv, but we don’t live under a rock, either. I’ve listened to Lea Michele and Chris Colfer’s Defying Gravity with the best of them (his voice is remarkable), and I will probably go back and watch the show at some point, but for now I remain reasonably blissfully unaware.

What I want is more like a jazz choir anyway, though not exclusively for jazz. Poppy is fine, too. And I’ve always had a fondness for madrigals. I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I kinda want to sing what I sang in high school. Good old SATB stuff.

Why isn’t this a thing? Why is it so difficult to get a group together in Pittsburgh to do this for fun? I am about as far from the talents of a musical director as one can get while still being a passable vocalist, so I can’t do it myself. In mentioning this to friends over the years (See? My desire predates Glee.) I’ve talked with a lot of people who are interested in participating, but no one with the skills to put it together. It should come as no surprise that those who do possess the talents of musical direction are off, you know, music directing. For money, not just for fun.

So, I pine for JW Pepper orders and penciled notes in the margins of sheet music. My pitch pipe sits unused (do those things go bad?) and I’ve pretty much lost the sight reading ability I once had.

If you need me, I’ll be sitting in my car singing along to the Indigo Girls.

Hang on, Snoopy

After two weeks of musical theater camp, Avi and the rest of participants performed You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown last night for friends and family. It was absolutely darling, and I’m totally not just saying that because he’s my kid.

The camp was for students going into first through third grade in the fall, but the amazing staff (which just happens to be my same fine staff from my previous position) made an exception for Avi. I was very very nervous about that – not for the performance, but for the actual process of Avi being with a group learning his lines, blocking and choreography that with another year would come so much easier. Basically, I was a little worried he wouldn’t be able to hold his own with the big kids. I was totally wrong, of course.

During the show, he had some really funny moments as Snoopy, but my favorite was probably the part we practiced over and over at home last weekend.

He stood up on top of the block and said to the audience, Here’s the fierce jungle ape, pounding his mighty chest while the other animals cower in the distance. He throws back his head and emits a terrifying roar. –arf!– Oh, how humiliating. It was hilarious. And he did it so well!

I was crazy impressed with all of the kids in the show. They were totally on task the whole time and sounded fantastic. Everybody really obviously had a great time on stage together. I wish I had managed to snag a picture of the kick line.

After the show, Avi got a beautiful rose from an adoring fan.

And let me take a picture of him in his Snoopy hat.

And today he is already asking when he can go to the next Charlie Brown camp.


I love this song. I love the whole album. And I’m listening to it right now as I become a grown up. Again.

No. Not like that.

Like this.

I already bought my first new car six years ago (holy cow!) and I already have a kid born five years ago (omg!!) but I have never purchased a brand new vacuum cleaner. Until now. I’m such an adult.

Living on the edge.

(Ugh, sorry. Terrible song. Back to Mr. Smith.)