Thursday, October 27, 2016

I Shall Be Random, Vol. 12

 ~ 1 ~

This past summer, Josiah developed a new love: composing music.  He spent HOURS arranging pieces and writing new ones, and he especially enjoyed using Noteflight because he could compose for a wide variety of instruments and then listen to how it would sound.  

When I was in college, I did a little composing; I think all of us music majors had to try our hand at it.  I did fine with it, but never came close to approaching Josiah's aptitude and love for music composition.  He amazes me for a few reasons...

First, he's significantly younger than I was when I composed.  Second, he doesn't know music theory NEARLY as well as I did, and yet he's able to compose music that sounds really, really beautiful, even without the theoretical knowledge behind it.  Third, I limited my music composition/arranging to instruments that I knew well: piano, voice, violin, guitar, a little flute.  That's about it.  Josiah composes for all kinds of different instruments: woodwinds, brass, string, percussion, etc.  His lack of knowledge about the instruments doesn't make him shy away from any of them. Fourth, he composes so quickly!  He can sit down at the computer, start writing, and within a few hours have a pretty decent piece.  Sometimes he makes revisions the next day, and sometimes he even goes back some days or weeks down the road and changes a few things in his pieces; but usually, the process doesn't take him long at all.

It is fascinating to me to watch this gift of Josiah's emerge!

~ 2 ~

We are all big fans of Josiah's music and are very used to hearing it blare forth from the computer speakers.  But last Wednesday, a new piece that Josiah was composing brought forth an unusual reaction from Benjamin.

Josiah was at the computer in the living room, working on his piece; and Benjamin was in the high chair in the kitchen.  The piece, called "Windscape," began with some basic percussion, but then the flute comes in with a mournful tune; and it actually uses a kind of electronic bend that wouldn't be entirely possible in real life.  ;-)  I happened to glance over at Benjamin and saw his dear little face wrinkle up as he began to cry.  I was getting ready to get him out of the high chair anyway, so I didn't think too much of it--maybe he was just tired of being confined and so he fussed because of that.  But I wondered...

And then Josiah started playing "Windscape" again, and the exact thing happened.  The percussion section didn't elicit a reaction; but as soon as the flute part began, Benjamin jerked his head around, his face wrinkled up, he leaned closer to me to bury his head in my shoulder, and he wailed.

"That CAN'T be just a coincidence," I thought.  "I've heard of babies who have a strong emotional response to a certain song or certain types of music, but I haven't seen anything quite like that in my own babies."

We waited a little, then repeated the experiment; and sure enough, as soon as the scooping flute came in, Benjamin's reaction was the same, and he ended in tears.

This was curious enough to me that I wanted to capture it on video, so I asked David to try to record Benjamin's reaction while being inconspicuous.  We all tried to act normal while Josiah played his song yet again; this was the fourth time.  Benjamin's reaction is recorded below.
Part of me felt sorry for my dear little boy who was so moved by Josiah's song, but the other part of me was so thoroughly amused that I could barely keep from laughing.  Most of all, I was so intrigued by Benjamin's reaction.  For four times, when he heard measure 9 in "Windscapes," his facial expression and body language repeated, ending in a cry.

After David took the video, he held it up to me so I could see it; and as Benjamin heard the music on the video, he repeated the reaction again!  Clearly, something in it really bothered him.

It must have been a day or two later.  Jeff and I were upstairs in our room with Benjamin on the bed between us while Josiah was in the living room at the computer, working on this piece.  As soon as it began to play, Benjamin's ears perked up, so to speak, and he was alert and tuned in to it.  But that time he didn't cry.  Maybe he had gotten used to it, or maybe he wasn't troubled by it because he was further away from it and it wasn't so loud, or maybe he felt secure because he was close to his daddy and was looking right at Jeff.  Who knows?  In any case, it sure was interesting to see how moved he had been by that song!

~ 3 ~

They say misfortunes come in threes, and I'm inclined to believe them.  You see, earlier this week, our toilet malfunctioned, and the water wouldn't automatically fill into the tank to allow another flush.  Jeff said he could fix it and would pick up the parts on Wednesday, which happened to be the day we realized that our washing machine was toast.  It would fill with water and drain, but wouldn't spin or agitate.  Jeff looked around online but couldn't find anything for less than $400, so he went to the appliance and building supply part of Mercy House thrift store and found a used one for $125.  When he got home with that, I reluctantly said, "I really hate to tell you this, but I can't get the vacuum to work."  I had used it that very morning, and it did fine; but the next time I plugged it in, it wouldn't turn on at all.  Jeff took it apart and looked at it until he discovered the problem--some carbon piece that does something or other in the motor or some such thing--then, for a temporary solution, used a small carbon piece that came from an old set of barber clippers, and then the vacuum turned on.  

In one day, Jeff was a plumber, an electrician, and an appliance repair person.

The next day, I think he was happy to go be a barber again.  ;-)

I know I was happy to have a functioning vacuum, washing machine, and toilet again!!!  I'm so glad I married him!  :)

~ 4 ~

Tobin reached a huge milestone yesterday, and I would be remiss if I didn't make mention of it here.

Do you remember when I, more than three years ago, wrote about the difficulties he was having in learning to read?  And do you remember when, a year and a half ago, he achieved the feat of officially reading his first book?  Well, since that time, he has improved greatly; but it's been a long, slow journey.  As a matter of fact, it wasn't until he turned eight--this incident literally happened either on his birthday or right around it--that, for the first time, instead of saying, "I can't read," which was his normal response when the subject came up, or "I can read a little," which was the response I had been teaching him to use, he said, "I can read--A LOT!"  

But one thing he hadn't done--because I hadn't required it or even really suggested it--was finishing the reading book we had used for Josiah's reading lessons and David's reading lessons and, yes, Tobin's reading lessons.  We had gotten to something like Lesson 89, but had set it aside and Tobin ended up reading from other books.  Nothing wrong with that, but it just felt a little...well...unfinished.  

His reading ability was such that he could have finished the reading book well before now; but as it turned out, yesterday was the day that he officially read it all the way to the end.  Lesson 100, completed!

It felt good to bring that part of his reading journey to a definite conclusion.  It wasn't always a smooth path, but there's joy and satisfaction in sticking with something and seeing it through to the end.  I'm proud of him.  

AND I'm excited to watch as he advances further and further in his reading!  :)

~ 5 ~

For some reason, the leaves on our trees and many of the trees around here are just not as brilliant this year as they are sometimes.  They're turning colors, but certainly not as splendidly as I've seen them other years.  I'm sure there are some very specific reasons for that, but I don't know them!  Maybe one of my scientist friends will enlighten me.  :)

The lack of gorgeous colors doesn't mean they're not fun to jump in though.  :)  I was watching from an upstairs window and captured this through the screen; that's the reason for the funny lines in it.

~ 6 ~

Last night, when our friends Ryan and Sarah were here, Moriah was SO excited about playing Spot It (I believe it was a first for her to be able to play it on her own); and she cracked us all up with how she played it.  She would, like you're supposed to, find an item on her card that matched the card on the pile in the middle; but the game moves so fast that by the time she did, three or four other cards would have been laid, thereby changing the top card and negating her match.  But she didn't understand that and would happily shout out "MOON!" or "HEART!" or whatever item she had found that had matched (three or four cards ago) and would place her card on the pile.  We were all getting such a kick out of her joy and enthusiasm that we let her mistakes slide and allowed her to keep playing her version; she even "won" a time or two.  :)  Soon enough, she'll learn to play it correctly; but she might never get quite as much pleasure from it as she did last night when she was so happy I thought she might burst.  :)

After that, we watched the movie Up together...and Ryan and Sarah got a taste of what a family with six kids does for fun.  They were good sports about it.  ;-)

~ 7 ~

There are certain passages of the Bible that nearly always make me cry when I read them, but Isaiah 6 is not one of them.  It IS, however, my first favorite section of the Bible; from a very early age, the description of the glory of the Lord and Isaiah's willingness to respond to God's call moved me deeply, but I didn't CRY about it.

Until a few days ago when I was reading it aloud to the kids from The Children's Bible as we began our homeschool day together.

All of a sudden, my throat got all choked up, and I blinked furiously to try to hold back the tears, and I tried to act like everything was normal...but couldn't.  David reached for the Bible and read it aloud while I sat there and tried not to bawl.  My goodness!

I'm not sure what affected my emotions so much this time.  My kids aren't either!  They're often puzzled by my teary eyes, but it's not really something I can explain.  If my sons happen to marry women who are quick to cry, maybe they'll have an extra measure of compassion and grace for them because they've seen their mother's eyes begin to water suspiciously so many times!  :)

~ 8 ~

One account in the Bible that does bring the tears almost every time I read it is the story of Joseph, but I don't want to talk about the tears part right now.  Instead, here are a few other things that stand out to me.

In Genesis 47:2, when Joseph chooses five of his brothers and presents them to Pharaoh, I always wonder, "Which ones?"  :)

Later in that chapter, Joseph presents his father Jacob to Pharaoh; and here is this mighty king of the powerful nation of Egypt and this old, weather-beaten, wandering shepherd.  Then Jacob blesses Pharaoh, and it seems to me that in the spiritual sense, all the power in the room shifts to Jacob at that point.

A couple chapters earlier, in Genesis 45:24, Joseph has revealed his identity to his brothers and is sending them back to get their father and wives and children and hurry back to Egypt.  Joseph, knowing well his brothers' natures, warns them as they go, "Don't quarrel on the way!"  And it always makes me chuckle.  :)

One other tidbit from this section of scripture...  Several weeks ago, I was away from Benjamin for the evening; and I really missed him.  I missed all my other family members that I wasn't with, too; but there was a heightened yearning for Benjamin as I drove home, eager to reunite with him.  On the way, I thought, "Isn't there a verse in the Bible somewhere that talks about someone whose life was bound up with their son's life?  I should look that up when I get home and discover who it's talking about."

And then out of the blue, it came to me; and I realized with a start that the person in the Bible who is described in such a beloved way is...Benjamin.

In Genesis 44:30, Judah is pleading with Joseph (whom he does not yet realize is Joseph but instead perceives to be this high-ranking official in Egypt) to let Benjamin return to Canaan and let Judah remain in Egypt as Joseph's slave, to atone for Benjamin's "wrong-doing" (which was, of course, fabricated to test the loyalty of the 10 older brothers).  Judah says, "So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy's life, sees that the boy isn't there, he will die."

I don't want to hold too tightly to my Benjamin's life.  I want to walk in trust that God loves him even more than I do and already has a great plan for his life.  And I don't want to imply that I don't have such attachment to my other kids because oh my word, do I ever!

But I'll just say this: in this aspect, I sure can identify with Jacob!!

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