Saturday, September 26, 2009

Micah's Modern Fantasia

Micah has much potential in the arena of modern composition. This is cutting edge stuff!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Things I Love In No Particular Order

Being greeted by a toothless, grinning, red-headed baby boy every morning (I will miss it when any one of these adjectives change.)

The sound a hardback book makes when you open it for the first time

The smell of ink on paper (of any age--new is my favorite)

Reading and studying the Bible with no time pressures

The tingle of warm sunshine on my skin, and the way it lasts even after I go back inside


The scents of Fall--spices, dank earth, hints of wood smoke in the air

The weight and feel of a book in my hands (What? I like books.)


New school supplies

Daisy, my rat terrier


A strong cup of Community Coffee with a dash of Hershey's Chocolate Caramel creamer by International Delight

Holding a sleeping baby

Being able to eat a gluten-free doughnut every morning without getting fat (This will change when I stop breastfeeding.)


The rush of adrenaline during exciting books (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, a book I want to help make the New York Times bestseller list. Then, read her sequel Catching Fire.)

The feel of my husband's strong, welcoming arms and firm chest after a hard day; his smell

Teaching whatever; a student's success


Listening to my Aunt Mary tell stories about her childhood

Performing on stage

My church

Making new friends; visiting old ones

Talking to Mom in person or over the phone

Exchanging dry humor with my dad

Finding common ground with my sister

Reminiscing good times

My friends and family

Grace, Redemption, Mercy

The Lord Jesus Christ

Growing old with the love of my life. Happy birthday, Brandon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mini Me

Micah will be 7 months old on Saturday. He is physically impressive with his thunder thighs, faux biceps, tubby little tummy, box feet, cherub hands and perfect face all capped with an ever-growing shock of curly, red hair. He looks larger than many year olds that I have seen, coming in at a little over 19 pounds. He's getting to be such a big boy, and every day seems to go by faster and faster. Time is running away from me at a break neck pace and I'm too slow, flabby and out of shape to keep up! As these sweet days pass before my eyes, I fall deeper into a melancholy state somewhere close to the midpoint of bitter and sweet. Bitter because I have put away almost all of the cute clothing that loved ones purchased just for him when he was little more than a clump of cells and a great plan that only the heavenly Father was privy to. And sweet because his personality is developing even faster than his body.

His many facial expressions are beginning to mean something to me. His cries carry greater nuances than they once did. I am beginning to decipher some of the meaning behind his sweet babbling. He is revealing preferences, fears and expectations I did not know he had. For instance, he clearly prefers his jumper to his swing and avocado to squash. He is horribly afraid of loud noises such as the vacuum cleaner, the blender and the coffee grinder. He expects me to react in some way to his cries. Like his mommy, he hates to be ignored worse than anything in the world. He hates it worse than being lonely or being in the same room while I'm vacuuming. When he hollers, I better get my behind in gear or he will let me know about it! If he cries from hunger, he better see me rearranging my clothing or preparing a bottle. If he cries from boredom, I better pick him up or lie down with him and start a game. If he cries from tiredness, he better be equipped with a paci and a pair of arms that will cradle, pat and gently tickle him until he falls asleep. Speaking of sleep, Micah still isn't much of a sleeper. If I'm lucky, he'll sleep a total of 10 hours or so at night, but not all at once. Two in the morning is party time! He'll nap a little during the day. If he's napping exceptionally, I may get a couple of hour naps out of him. But that's exceptional napping. Thankfully, the amount of sleep he gets shows no correlation with his mood. He smiles at everyone, and only fusses in displeasure. As so little in life displeases him, he's not much of a fusser. Last weekend, he was coming down with an ear infection. We were up all night Thursday trying to get him comfortable. Comfort just wasn't happening for him, so I started playing a game he seems to like in which I bounce him up and down in a steady rhythm, and say "boobidy, boobidy, boobidy boo!" He began laughing out loud! The child was sleepy, uncomfortable and very upset, but he began laughing out loud!(Granted, I used a form of the word "boob," and like any man, anything containing the word "boob" probably has the power to relieve his troubles.)But hey, learning to laugh in the midst of less than perfect circumstances is an advanced skill, AND it's a piece of advice I gave him in his six month letter posted on August 19th--

"7) Find humor in everything, especially the crappy parts of life. It’s there; I promise, and it will lighten your load when times get tough."

He not only has a great sense of humor, but he's a quick learner!

I've been telling my mother about Micah's attributes bit by bit, and all along she's been saying, "You have yourself made over." I didn't really believe her until three things happened.

1) He began suffering from allergies. If the child is a copy of myself, he will be allergic.

2) He screamed at me. I mentioned earlier that he doesn't enjoy loneliness, but hates to be ignored even more. Well, he occasionally has to suffer one or two of these states. I mean, I have to shower every now and then! One day, I set him in his walker in the bathroom, left the door open so he wouldn't get too hot, and left the shower curtain open as much as I could so he could see me. I started to shower, and he started to cry. Talking to him didn't work. Dancing didn't work. Singing didn't work. Nothing worked, so I just tried to complete the shower as quickly as I could. It wasn't quickly enough for him. He stopped crying for a brief moment. I looked at him, and smiled. I was about to say, "See, it's not so bad, Angel Face." Well, my little Angel Face didn't let me get it out. My little Angel Face, stormed over, turned beet red and furrowed at the brow. He raised his arms at me to make himself unquestioningly clear. Then, the shrillest sound to come out of my sweet child thus far--"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Then, more crying. That was the first time he had ever screamed at me. I was doing something other than what he wanted to do, and the little bugger SCREAMED at me. That was the moment of revelation--this child is mine; he will have a strong will; he will be stubborn; he will throw temper tantrums when he doesn't get his way; I'm bloody in for it. And oh. If he inherits my gift for debate, I'm really in for it.

3) This fit lasted for some time. I had to get a quick bite to eat before students began coming in, so I sat him in the big arm chair that he sinks into so deep, he can't do much but squirm until he's nearly upside down. I got a quick lunch together, then came to check on him. This is what I found--

It's hard to see on the page, but his hair is sticking STRAIGHT up.

Not so different from this--

Maybe anger, like humidity, poofs your hair . . .

Anyway, the world better watch out--there's another one of me coming its way soon.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Thanks, Solution, and Answer

Thanks for responding, guys! Between FB, the comments here, and people talking to me in person, about 15 of you read fairly regularly. That's actually more than I thought! Yay! Okay, no more narcissism than necessary from now on. Haha!

Okay, here's what I'm thinking with the post about my students . . . I will ask their permission to put pictures on here of a performance we have coming up fairly soon, and I will blog about that. If they respond well, and don't seem too freaked out, I may request to do another post that talks about them more personally (with code names, of course) at a later date.

Finally, I talked to Brandon about posting my first chapter. Apparently, he thinks it's pretty good because he is concerned about it not being copyrighted. So, here is what I will do . . . if you don't think I have your email address, please send me something from your email address, and I will reply with the first chapter. My email is (No "r" in "keaster.") Please allow me to trouble you with a couple of quick guidelines for the critiquing the chapter--

1) I need to know how quickly you become interested. Give me an estimation of how far in you are when that happens.

2) Do you like the main character? Try not to look at her as me. I'm not sure whether her name will stay "Melissa" or if I will change it. As this book is based largely on biographical events, the character is more easily accessible with my name for now. That may change later, and the character may take a new direction that is very NOT me.

3) Do you empathize at all with any of the characters? Which ones? How so?

4) Do you feel that clear themes are being established?

5) Is anything confusing? Does anything need further explanation?

6) When you are finished, do you care to read more?

7) Feel free to add any additional comments.

Here are some don'ts:

1) Don't spare my feelings. I really need to know the answers to the questions above.

2) Unless you see a blatant error, don't worry about correcting my grammar or spelling. This is a rough draft, and I know it. Now you know it. However, if something is completely off, feel free to tell me. I just don't need to know every single comma mistake.

3)Please don't feel like you have to keep reading if you hate it.

I'm glad that you are all so interested. I hope you enjoy it, and that you view it as time well spent. Thanks!

Monday, September 7, 2009

A Question, An Idea and A Consideration

Question--Who reads this thing anyway? Will you leave your name and location in the comment section? This thing's aimed mainly at friends and family, but I'm curious if anyone who doesn't know me is reading. I know it's narcissistic to ask, but really--everything about a blog is narcissistic.

Idea--I want to post something about my piano students in a few weeks, but I'll have to ask their permission. Then they'll want to read my blog. Then I'll have to be careful about some of the things I post. Is it worth it? They are so interesting as a group, and so unique as individuals. It would make a great post . . . I think.

Consideration--I'm considering posting the first chapter of my novel. My purpose would be to see if it interests anyone other than my family or even people who don't know me and my family (if there are even any readers who don't know me). I would like to know if it grabs you from the beginning, if you want to read more when you're done. The first chapter of a book is pretty important as it has to set the tone, interest the reader and establish some themes. If you readers think it's a good idea to post a rough draft of the chapter, let me know. If not, tell me that. If you don't think it's a good idea to post it where anyone and his or her mother can read it and steal it if they wish, give me your email address, and I'll email you. (It occurs to me that the previous sentence could possibly be a run-on. It felt like one, anyway.

Comments, please! (If you have difficulty posting to my blog, you can contact me on Facebook under the name "Melissa Chapman Keaster.")

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cease from Anger and Do Good

When you have a positive experience of any kind, there is an inevitability that something or someone will come along to ruin it for you, usually sooner than later. This is especially true if the positive experience was spiritual. Every time I have an encounter with God, that encounter is challenged. Maybe this is good for us, the way things should be. I mean, how do you know what you felt was real unless you are tested? But, oh man! Sometimes the test can be a real pain in the butt!

This past weekend, I had the privilege of attending the Beth Moore simulcast with a precious friend from church. I must be honest--when I agreed to go, I agreed for the same reason I might consent to eat cabbage--I know it's good for me even if I gag a little as it goes down. I know this isn't a healthy view of events such as these. That's not the point. I went. I learned. I changed. I have never been so happy to have my presumptions and prejudices proven wrong in my entire life. I gloried in my wrongness. I learned so much last weekend, but the lesson that has lingered most clearly in my mind was not taught in Beth Moore's absurdly large classroom. It was taught in a one on one tutoring session with God . . .


Last week, I spent several hours preparing a studio policy for my piano and voice students. It was good. It was close to fool proof. I felt secure that no one could take advantage of me after signing this bad mamma jamma. Thursday night, I had a meeting at my house for my students and their parents. The policy was signed by everyone, and I even had one family pay, which I was super excited about as I had in my policy in THREE separate places that all monies paid were NONREFUNDABLE. I already had $60, and I hadn't even taught lesson number one! Yay! Surely this family was serious! Surely they would be excellent clients! I said goodbye to everyone, excited about what possibilities laid in store for my new students. That was prior to my weekend with Beth Moore.

*Back to the tutoring session with God*

Less than 24 hours after the completion of the simulcast, a test literally came knocking on my door. Brandon and I had to teach children's church Sunday morning, and we were cutting it close with the time. I had just finished blow-drying my hair, hadn't yet put on my make-up and was not yet completely dressed. The doorbell rang. I looked at him and asked incredulously, "Who is ringing our doorbell on Sunday morning?" He shrugged, and answered the door while I began to flatiron my hair.

I heard someone ask to see me, but I knew my man would take care of it and send them away so we could make it on time for church. He said, "She's getting ready for church right now," and he began closing the door. The woman stepped over the threshold, ignoring my husband. I side-stepped out of the bathroom into the hall so I could see who this impertinent person was, and realized that I had never seen her in my life. I thought to myself, "Who does this stranger think she is? She's going to make me late, and people are depending on me."

"Ms. Keaster?" the woman asked. As she was over twice my age, I knew this little visit was most likely in reference to my studio. With as much dignity as one could muster when they look worse than they would if they had just rolled out of bed, I answered, "Yes."

She introduced herself as one of my student's grandparents, and told me that her grandchild would not be able to take lessons this year. I asked if anything was wrong because I liked this particular child a good bit and had enjoyed teaching her during the month of July. The woman said that the child was fine, that she was going through "some life changes," which I thought was unreasonably vague. Naturally, this student was the one who had already paid for the month, and naturally, the woman asked for the money back. She was not the guardian that had accompanied my student on Thursday night, so I told her that I had gone over the policy the night that I was paid, and according to my policy, all monies paid are nonrefundable. I also said that I would think about it and get back to her, but I couldn't do anything about it at the moment. I was late for church. She then returns with, "As it wasn't due until her first lesson, I figured we could get the money back." She exited my home with a huff. Had her tone not been abrasive, I still would have been considerably more than irritated for the following reasons. One, I had spent a good amount of time on that policy, thank you very much. Two, I had basically read it to everyone and forced them to sign it before leaving the meeting on Thursday night. Three, she did not call to give me any warning about this visit. Four, she picks SUNDAY FREAKING MORNING to pull this little stunt. Finally, she didn't have to take that tone with me as she left. She bombarded me, while looking gosh-awful mind you, and I told her I would think about it . . . AGAINST MY POL-I-CY.

I'll be honest again. I didn't even fight to keep my temper in check. I began ranting to my husband at the top of my lungs, completely put out--We were late! She made me late! She came into my house without permission! She demanded money that was no longer hers! She got snippety on her way out! I ranted as we ran out the door. I ranted as we began driving down the road. I called someone at church to let them know we would be late. I also asked this dear one to say a prayer for me because I knew that I was in no shape to teach little kiddies about the Lord at that point. I hung up, and ranted some more.

About the time we left the town of Farmerville, words from Psalm 37, the passage we had studied only the day before, came to my mind like a slap to the face. It was as if the Lord said, "Melissa! Get a grip!" The words were "cease from your anger and forsake wrath," and "trust in Me, and do good." I stopped ranting for a moment, and chewed on that thought. I knew what I would do. I would do good. I would give the woman her money back. I knew that was what God was telling me to do, and I would do it. But I could still be mad about it, right? WRONG!!!! "Cease from anger," He whispered again, "forsake wrath." And then I was given a gift . . .

an image . . . a mental picture of what I must have looked like to that woman when she came through my door. And I'm passing this gift on to you because you won't fully understand why I did what I did next unless you see it for yourself. Understand that with this particular hair cut I look like this after flatironing my hair. This is how the public at large sees me on a day to day basis--

So, against the desires of my ego and self-respect, here is what I looked like when she saw me last Sunday morning--

Or better yet, scary hair with my "angry" face.

And that, my friends, is why Brandon and I laughed our heads off all the way to church, and were more than ready to teach our little kiddies when we arrived. And that, my friends, is how I forsook wrath, and took pleasure in doing some good.