Attending an awesome Imagine Dragon’s concert

I don’t attend concerts very often. In fact, until the one last week, I can’t recall the last time I went to a concert. Neither my husband and I are fond of crowds, and concerts are sometimes expensive. But when your favorite band comes within 200 miles of where you live, you must go.

When Imagine Dragons announced their tour dates for their Evolve tour, I was disappointed to find San Antonio wasn’t on their list. But both Dallas (six hours away) and Houston (three hours away) were on their tour for November.

Houston was closer and the date, a Sunday, worked out better so I grabbed tickets as soon as they came available.

Now before I tell you about the concert, let me say that it was awesome – great show, great seats. Part of me would like to delve right into the concert, but I think it is best to stick with a chronological order.

Besides a little rain, the 3 ½ hour drive to Houston was uneventful. We had never been to the Toyota Center – Home of the Houston Rockets. I was a little concerned about the downtown location as downtown San Antonio can be horrible for events, but I guess with a major-league NBA team and plenty of concerts, the folks at the Toyota Center have this down to a science.

Getting from the parking garage to the building, going through security and finding our seats on the floor was all so easy. We were pretty close – row 14 – right in the center on the floor in front of the stage. We bypassed the line for buying overpriced concert shirts and sweatshirts. (I had already made us shirts using my Cricut.)

Imagine Dragons had two opening acts – bands we had not heard before. Well, I did look at their songs on YouTube a few weeks before the concert, but I only listened to a song or two for each band.

K.Flay was first. Most songs I couldn’t understand what she was saying, but I did like the beat.

 

 

Next up was Grouplove. They were very energetic with an interesting/somewhat disgusting set resembling a mouth. I forgot to grab pictures of both acts, so these images were found on the Internet.

And then it was time…the crowd went wild as the opening clip about evolution showed on the screens behind and next to the stage. They started with “I Don’t Know Why” from their latest album Evolve. After that they intermixed songs from their older albums, Night Visions and Smoke + Mirrors, with the new songs.

Even though you were in a crowd of 18,000, this concert had more of an intimate feel as lead singer, Dan Reynolds, opened up with stories about the band, their songs and even his own struggle with depression, which led him to songwriting.

My favorite was the beginning where he talks about how the world wants to divide us – divide us by race, color, politics, looks, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and more – but that we as a group had come together in peace and equality. He talked about how in the last months, there had been people who tried to strike fear in our hearts about gathering together in large places to show how united we are, about gathering to show unity and peace through music. His speech thanking us for coming out lead right into one of my favorite songs (and their first hit) “It’s Time.”

You can check out this clip of Dan’s speech at the Dallas concert. (Sorry for the quality but couldn’t find a good one of only his speech from Houston and haven’t gotten the videos off my husband’s phone yet.)

Later, the band also showed off their musical talents when they moved from the main stage to a smaller stage at the back. Here guitarist Wayne Sermon took up the cello, drummer Daniel Platman played the viola, and bassist Ben McKee manned an upright bass as they did a cover of the late Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down,” as well as two of their own older songs. I have always liked the acoustic version of “Shots,” and they did that here.

Dan Reynolds singing “Believer”

The only negative for me about this back set was it was harder for those of us on the floor seats to see them.

Of course, then they returned to the main stage for some more songs. They ended with my favorite song for a live performance – “Radioactive” – where each member of the band plays various drums at the same time. Totally awesome to see it on YouTube but far better to see it in person! Definitely glad we went to this awesome show!

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Tutoring: Not only for those kids struggling

All children face challenges in school at various times. But even if they are doing well, students may benefit from some additional instruction.

Lexie

Lexie’s latest report card showed all As. Her lowest grade was math where she got a 90. Lexie’s teacher recommended she join a small group of students after school on Mondays. This way she could get a little extra instruction or ask any questions about math or any other topic for that matter.

Participating in this type of tutoring can help students master difficult concepts that are the building blocks to more complex ideas. Lexie and Jase both participated in small group tutoring last year and it helped them both.

Jase

Now all of the tutoring my kids have received has been done through the school and best of all, free. Last year when Jase began learning violin, his instructor suggested that all students have a tutor. But I wasn’t sure Jase, then a fifth-grader, would stick with it. About half of those fifth graders did drop out of orchestra when they entered sixth grade. Jase wasn’t one of them.

Again, this year, his instructor recommends getting a tutor for some one-on-one learning. It isn’t like Jase doesn’t get instruction five days a week. It is just the teacher cannot provide individualized instruction when he has a class full of other sixth graders. The suggestion for tutoring has nothing to do with how well Jase does or doesn’t play. It is just meant to give him addition help in mastering his instrument.

His instructor gave us several names for tutors and I contact one of them to find out how much tutoring cost. The man I contacted use to be with the Boston Symphony and charges $40 for a half hour lesson. Sounds great to me but Jase seems hesitant about the idea of a tutor.

I’ve explained to him that it doesn’t mean he isn’t doing well. It is meant to give him someone who can answer his questions and make sure he fully understands how to play each note. It gives him extra time to practice with someone who knows what he is supposed to be doing.

I think it will help his confidence. During his last chair test, Jase came in last. At the end of the school year, he will have to test to see which orchestra he will be in next year. I think tutoring will help him get into his goal – the symphony orchestra (one step down from the top orchestra – honors orchestra).

But I also don’t want to force him to do something he doesn’t want to do. I don’t want him to agree to this just because he thinks I want it. He will get more out of it if he is fully on board with tutoring. So, we will have him meet the tutor and see what he thinks after that. If he doesn’t want tutoring after that, I am fine with that.

As for the rest of his middle school classes, many of them offer my favorite type of tutoring – free. And Jase has already decided to occasionally show up his math teacher’s tutoring hour for extra help. It must be working as he has an A in that class.

A double dental frenectomy for my son

In October, my son had a double frenectomy. If you haven’t heard of that, join the club. I had never heard of a frenectomy until last June when my son’s dentist referred him to an orthodontist.

Jase doesn’t need braces (yet) but his dentist felt it would be good to make an appointment and let her get a base line of his mouth. When we went to that appointment in June, the orthodontist took x-rays and measurements. One thing she noted is that the frenum under his tongue was tight. This didn’t allow his tongue to lie properly in his mouth (when not talking or eating your tongue should touch the roof of your mouth).

She said this tightness could cause problems with his speech (he has had speech therapy before) as well as the development of his mouth and jaw. She referred us to Mira, a therapist who specializes in Oral and Facial Muscle Dysfunction for evaluation.

Mira worked with Jase to see if they could stretch the tissue under his tongue and give him the range of motion that he should have. But it wasn’t enough, so she referred us to a periodontist, who evaluated Jase and agreed he should have a lingual frenectomy to release his tongue. She also said the tissue from the upper lip to his gum was tight which might be what was causing the space between his front teeth and might contribute to his open mouth breathing. This procedure for the top is a labial frenectomy. She recommended correcting them both at the same time.

This is done by a surgical procedure in which she uses a laser to cut the band of tissue to relieve the tightness. Even though this is a very common procedure, the words surgery and laser worried Jase. Now while the procedure can be done under a local anesthetic, we opted to have a stronger medicine to relax him.

It worked. He took the liquid medicine while sitting on a couch in the waiting room. He swears only five minutes passed when I was telling him that as soon as he felt better we could go home. But instead of five minutes, it had been more like an hour since he took the medicine. Though he says he remembers nothing, he was aware during the procedure though his speech was slurred. It took her no time to use her laser and do both procedures. It took longer for the medicine to wear off.

Once it did, we headed to Mira’s office. To ensure that the tongue remained free and didn’t reattach, there was a list of exercises she wanted him to do over the weekend. Already nauseous from the medicine, Jase hated those exercises the first day. But he did them.

And he continues to do new exercises to help train his tongue to rest in the place it should and to encourage his tongue to use its newfound mobility. Jase says his tongue feels freer. Mira also has noticed subtle changes in his face already. These professionals said this would benefit him but I think it is one of those things that could go either way. Did he have to have this done? Probably not but hopefully now that we have done it, we will see some benefits. Only time will tell.

Should Halloween be moved to the last Saturday in October?

The kids will come home from school excited for a night of trick-or-treating. Costumes will be put on and dinner quickly eaten. A night with friends collecting candy is all they will think about. They don’t want to be bothered with thoughts of homework and school. Luckily most teachers know this and are kind enough to not assign any homework.

Parents later will be insisting kids stop their fun and go to bed as there will be school tomorrow. With frowns on their faces, the kids will put away their candy and try to fall asleep.

The next day they will be dragging as they get up and trudge off to school. (Or perhaps they will be hyped up if they had an after-breakfast candy fix.)

This is how every Halloween goes when Halloween lands on a school day. So, this leads some parents and teachers to wonder…why can’t Halloween be set as the last Saturday of October? After all, there are already some American holidays that have been assigned a specific day of the week – Election day, Columbus Day, Presidents Day, Labor Day, Memorial Day and Thanksgiving.

In fact, in the past, Time magazine and the Spirit Halloween retail store both have done petitions to ask Congress to officially endorse this change. But since Halloween is not a federal/national holiday, the federal government cannot make anything other than a proclamation.

But still others claim that Halloween cannot fall on the same day each year due to religious observances. It is after the eve of All Hallow’s Day, which is also called All Saints’ Day, a Christian festival in honor of all Saints.

There are numerous other religious attachments to October 31 or November 1. But the actual celebration that these kids are participating is more of a commercial holiday. Halloween is one of the top-selling months for candy and of course there is the sales of costumes and decorations. Americans spent $8.4 billion last year on Halloween.

If we separate the fun night of dressing up and begging for candy from a day of any religious significance, then there should be no harm in moving the date.

As a parent, I don’t know if I am all that concerned with moving the date. It is a once a year event, and many parents already must contend with keeping kids up late due to either their busy schedule or that of their kids. In all honesty, I would be fine either way. But every year that Halloween lands on a school night, I will still hear this question asked. Maybe one day we will have an answer.

Determining if my kids are bossy or assertive

Lexie last month had a sleepover and it gave us a chance to watch her behavior. My husband could hear her ordering her friend around and wondered if she was being too bossy.

No one wants a bossy child. But it is a fine line between being bossy and being assertive. You don’t want them to be domineering, but you also don’t want them to be a total pushover either. There is nothing wrong with having an opinion and being strong-willed.

So, is your child bossy or assertive?

And no, these are not the same things even though people often use the two interchangeably. The difference is small but significant. It is all in how you say something.

If Lexie’s brother is touching her things, there is nothing wrong with telling him not to do it. She should not have to put up with him touching or taking her things without asking. She may have a legitimate reason for being upset, but it is in how she chooses to handle the situation that matters. Too often her reaction is to screech ‘Stop taking my stuff!’

Yelling between those two is a common occurrence even though we always admonish this behavior. When they play video games and one of them doesn’t respond the way the other wants, their response is to yell.

But screaming at people rarely is the way to go. In both situations, both kids need to stop and think about how they would want to be addressed if the situation was reversed. Would Lexie like it if Jase yelled at her for touching his stuff? (And of course, he has.) Would Jase respond better with a different approach?

It will take time and a lot of repetition to get either child to see and understand the difference between being bossy/demanding and being polite. (Right now, I will take polite over assertive.) They just need to take other people’s feelings into consideration while stating their own perspective.

And one of the keys to changing Lexie’s (and Jase’s) behavior will be consistency. My husband and I need to address their bossiness every time. Too often it is easier to let it go or to let them try to work out their own problems but to truly get the results we want we must be consistent with calling them out on the behavior.

Lexie and Jase still need reminding that they can’t always get his or her way. They need to learn that others can say no to them whether it is a sibling who doesn’t want to play a game or a friend who would rather have go swimming than play a video game. There is no harm in asking others to do something, but that person can say no – or heaven forbid, do something their own way.

As with all things this is going to take time and patience to achieve the desired result. I want them to stick up for themselves and to be confident. But I also want them to learn to compromise, to do try what others want to do and be a good friend.

Organizing PTA Parent-Education seminars

Part of my responsibility as first vice president of my daughter’s elementary school parent-teacher association (PTA) is to bring in speakers to help educate the parents. Last year, I brought a speaker on cyber-bullying. My goal this year was to bring in two different speakers.

One of the fifth-grade teachers at her school is also member-at-large for the Texas Parent-Teacher Association. For the past few years, he has given a speech about Maximizing Parent-Teacher Conferences at the annual statewide leadership conference. But he has always told those of us who attend from his school that we shouldn’t attend his speech as he can always give us that information at a different time.

Last year, I wanted to get him to give this speech at our school but I approached him in the middle of September and we couldn’t get anything planned before conferences started in the middle of October. Instead, I had to settle for him writing a two-sided flyer that gave parents tips. (Check out my post about it here.)

This year I approached Mr. Shelby in August, and we scheduled his speech for the end of September as conferences begin mid-October. As with any presentation, you can plan and advertise it but getting a full house is a different matter. I think even Mr. Shelby was worried about getting people to show up. We had 26 parents attend which nicely filled up our library tables but is a real small percentage of the parents who have children attending the school.

The main point of his presentation is that the parent-teacher conference is not the first time you should see your child’s grades. In our school district, you can go online and check grades on homework and tests plus there are always papers coming home. There really should be no surprises.

The parent-teacher conference is a time to work with the teacher in deciding what areas your child needs to work on. Even good kids have something that can challenge them or maybe there is something that can push them to achieve more.

The second speaker I plan to bring in will speak on children and internet safety. I will be going through the Texas PTA’s Ready, Set, Achieve program since the CyberBullying one last year was so well done.

Internet safety is an important topic in our technology-driven society and with the ever changing technology and apps out there, I don’t think parents can attend too many of these talks. In fact the middle school just brought in someone from Homeland Security to talk about the same thing.

It was a good speech though most of the information covered was stuff that I have heard before. He recommended that you check your kids’ phones weekly. You should know who they are talking to just as you would want to know who their friends are if they were meeting with them in person.

He recommended the website netsmartz.org as a way for parents and kids to learn more about online safety and the dangers of posting information online. To report Cyber Bullying, he recommended Cybertipline.org. Both websites are hosted by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

I’m looking forward to my January speaker and if he/she provides any useful websites or information, I will certainly write a post about it.

Fundraising time at the schools again

I’ve written before about the fundraising done by both my kids’ schools and the Parent-Teacher Associations. It sometimes seems that every time you turn around someone is wanting money. But as annoying as that can be, I do understand that both these groups need the funds.

This year with Jase at the middle school and Lexie at the elementary, there are twice as many opportunities to donate money.

The middle school PTA basically just asks for money. They call it making a Greenback donation. They also do a silent auction during the school’s open house. Between the two events they bring in enough money to run the few programs they have planned for the year. (The middle school PTA does quite a bit with far less money than the elementary PTA.)

The elementary school PTA’s big fundraiser won’t happen until April when they hold their annual festival and silent auction.

Both PTAs have a few Eat for a Cause events planned for November and again in the spring. This is where families can eat at a certain restaurant on a given night and a percentage of the proceeds goes to the PTA.

This year, the elementary is also trying Square Art, where the students draw art that can be put on pillow cases, magnets, note cards and a variety of other products for parents to buy.

Beyond the PTA fundraisers that support the awesome PTA programs, both schools have fundraisers to buy new technology, supplies or in the case of the elementary – fund field trips. The middle school in the past has sold cookie dough or magazines. This year, they are offering a fundraiser that offers those items and more. Other items include nuts, candy, candles, and jewelry. The idea is that people can find something they like in the catalog or online.

Jase is in orchestra. They too have a fundraiser. It is a concert and spaghetti dinner. The only negative for this catered meal is that it is happening a week after the school fundraiser ends. It just makes it harder when asking the grandparents to fork out money for both events. But it is also Jase’s first concert so of course we are all going.

Now the the elementary’s fundraiser this year will be a little different. For the past four years they have done a fun run. This year, the principal decided to try his own version of a Greenback fundraiser. He is kicking it off with a dance/movie night where kids can come to school in their Halloween costumes. It will be interesting to see if this is as successful as the fun run.

And then there are the other groups asking for money – the book fair (supports the library) or saving Pennies for Patients (Leukemia). Even the school pictures offered each semester are a fundraiser for the school. Then there are the donations – canned goods, school supplies, underwear/socks, and Angel Tree gifts. It certainly adds up. We try to give to each food/supply drive or fundraiser. But sometimes you have to draw a line somewhere. It is early in the school year so we haven’t reached that point…yet.