They Rocked Around the Christmas Tree

I woke up at 4:30 this morning, and I never went back to sleep.

And we were completely out of Coffee Mate, unless you count the Bailey’s Irish Cream bottle of coffee accompaniment, which states right on the bottle that THIS IS A NON-ALCOHOLIC PRODUCT, but I don’t count it.  I detoured from the reliability of Coffee Mate — REAL Coffee Mate! — and was lured in by the prospect of HEY!  BAILEY’S IRISH CREAM IN COFFEE SOUNDS GOOD!  Only, people, it wasn’t.  I persevered and tried it three times, and three times I said to myself, “This is very possibly the worst coffee accompaniment I’ve ever had.”  And so the bottle sits in our refrigerator, because it’s practically full, and I feel a little shame in throwing it out, when there are starving people in Africa who would probably adore a good cup of coffee with a dose of Irish Cream accompaniment.

But really?  It’s the hoarder in me that won’t throw it out.  It’s because the jug is inside of the refrigerator, and I can close the door and never see it.  I am Monica, from Friends.  The house must be clean and spotless and smelling faintly of Clorox at all times, but if I can slam a door on it (closets, cupboards, the garage, the fridge) and hide all the hoarding contents, then that is pretty much what I do.

And it’s where Hubs and I differ completely.

After sixteen years of marriage, Hubs is still content to see dirty laundry on the bedroom floor, dishes piled in the sink, and six weeks’ worth of mail sitting on the kitchen counter.  Those things don’t bother him.  But when Hubs throws open the kitchen junk drawer to get a paperclip, he wants things tidy and organized, and he wants to find that paperclip in half of a nanosecond.

Never mind that he’ll spend twenty minutes walking around the house, looking for his coat, because he left it on the living room sofa, but I hung it up in the closet where it belongs, and he never once thought to look there.

And do you know what?

This isn’t what this post was even supposed to be about, but I felt like I owed it to you to explain that YES!  I am a titch tired and caffeine-deprived, and so the fluidity of this blog post might be like a first-year school orchestra program, with a lot of scratching and wrong notes.

But, like I promised last night, I REALLY DO have pictures of different things that we’ve done this week.  And I REALLY DID try to post a few of them last night, but then I very successfully deleted the entire post, pictures and all, so I gave up on trying to redo the entire thing and watched three episodes of The Middle on a Netflix DVD with Hubs and the boy.

(And if there’s any doubt in your minds, let me just set y’all straight.  WE ARE THE HECK FAMILY.)

(I just wanted to be clear on that.)

(Except our stove isn’t avocado green.)

(And my kitchen, which is OUT IN THE OPEN, is ever-so-very-much-more clean than Frankie Heck’s kitchen is.)

(Just don’t look in our garage.)

Yesterday, one of the things on my handwritten itinerary was to hit my niece and nephew’s Christmas program at their school.  L and K had been practicing their songs, and it was high-time that they dressed in their Sunday finery and had a little performance.

Naturally, I took my camera, because that is what I do.

And then!

I felt like I was living an episode of Worst Case Scenario.

What do you do if you’re walking through the jungle and you fall into quicksand?  Hurry!  You don’t have much time to save yourself!  It’s a worst case scenario!  Everyone knows that you need to throw a pole of some kind over the pool of quicksand and arch your back across said pole, and then pull your legs out, one by one.  Then you shimmy yourself across the pole to dry land and try to be more alert while you’re walking through the marshlands.

That was the story of yesterday, minus the quicksand, of course, because Small Town really doesn’t have much of that.

Just as the first batch of kindergarten kids came up onto the stage to sing, SOMEONE (someone who needs to be kicked and pinched!) shut the gymnasium lights off, so that the entire place was pitch-black, and they spotlighted the stage FROM BEHIND!  Oh, yes!  Dark foreground; subject matter being lit up from behind.

Quick!  What do you do with your camera settings?

People, I had no idea!  I scrolled through different ISO settings and F-stop settings.  I took exactly nine million and two photos of little K singing, and realized that I was plum incapable of achieving anything that was not grainy.  I wanted to stand up on a chair and yell out, “Could SOMEONE please turn the gym’s lights back on?  You’re ruining my pictures here!”

So I did what any normal person would do in a worst case scenario situation like this:  I texted my famous photographer friend, Alyssa, and said, “Help!  Dark gym!  Stage lit from behind!  What ISO do I want?  What settings do I use?”

And then I hit SEND on my phone, and this is what the little text box said that popped up on my iPhone’s screen:


Are you serious?

People, there was absolutely ZERO bits of cell service in L and K’s school gymnasium.  I felt like I was living out an episode of Little House on the Prairie, where Albert falls into a well, and Laura tries to text Ma and Pa for help, but there’s no cell service, and she can’t get through.

And then I spied Sam, our eye doctor.  Sam not only knows eyes; he also knows cameras.  So I plowed my way through the crowd, because he was standing near the door.  We whispered about ISO settings until the lady next to us gave us both the stink eye for breaking the commandment of THOU SHALT NOT WHISPER DURING A SCHOOL CONCERT.

And Sam set me straight.

High ISO.

But by then, K was already done singing.

This is as good as I got, picture wise.  K is dead-center, in the blue shirt.  It’s a hand-me-down shirt from the boy, and OH!  I loved that shirt!

And I had to show you the red-eye effect, that makes this look like a class of alien children, who have all been programmed to be on their very best behavior, or the batteries in their backs will be taken out and their eyes will no longer glow.

And do you see that little pumpkin in the front row with the sparkly pink, sleeveless dress?  I have no idea who she is, but I want to adopt her, because all of her cuteness during the program made me happy.

And yes, that IS a giant scab on K’s lip that you see.  K was running like a cheetah, and he turned a corner at top speed and crashed into the tailgate of his daddy’s truck, which was out.  After an ER visit, K is lucky to even HAVE an upper lip AND teeth.

By the time L’s 3rd grade class came up to sing, I had my ISO figured out, but I was still trying to find a pole to escape the quicksand known as F-stops and apertures and whatnot.

I love this picture, because all the kids were supposed to be LOOKING for something in the course of the song.  Apparently the two tall boys in the back had already found what they were looking for, and they weren’t all that pleased with it.  Those are some disappointed faces, if I ever saw them.  It’s a face of I WANTED LEGOS FOR CHRISTMAS, AND I GOT UNDERWEAR INSTEAD.

And listen, L!  Let’s quit giggling with our friends during the show, and SING!

Other than the WORST CASE LIGHTING SCENARIO, the concert went exceptionally well, and Alyssa texted me back an hour AFTER we’d finished up, because that was the precise moment when my iPhone realized OH!  I HAVE CELL SERVICE NOW, AND I FORGOT TO SEND THIS TEXT MESSAGE OUT WHEN I WAS BUSY SEARCHING!

And Alyssa texted me back with all the pertinent information, so you can bet that the next time I’m in a dark gym with a stage lit from behind, I’ll be just as confused as I was today.

It’s because my camera is more technology than I can understand.

Especially when I haven’t had any Coffee Mate.

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