Friday, April 11, 2014

Share the Love: Les Miserables at Drury Lane Theatre

Sometimes you need a break.

Even on the days when the kids haven't unraveled an entire roll of toilet paper and decorated the bathroom streamer-style or tattooed the entire first floor with muddy footprints, we mothers need time away from the beautiful mess of motherhood ... preferably to reconnect with our spouse, engage in adult conversation and perhaps even an enjoyable beverage or two.

John and I enjoyed a little mid-week jaunt this past Tuesday to see Les Miserables at Drury Lane Theatre in Oakbrook.
Photos by Brett Beiner 
Though I am still recovering from being out way past my bedtime, I'm also still singing the tunes from this gorgeous, spectacularly casted show. As we drove home, John and I commented on how fortunate we are to have such a great theatre with quality shows so close to our home.

Photos by Brett Beiner 
For those who have never seen Les Mis before, be prepared for a heart-tugging performance that evokes quite a bit of emotion during and long after the performance. My suggestion if this is a date night? Go to dinner first and have light conversation and then attend the show and follow up with comfort dessert because the story line, while hopeful, is quite emotionally charged.

If this is one of your favorite musicals, you'll just love this production -- the cast, the scenery, the orchestra, the costumes, the special effects. The entire show was fantastic. A huge treat, too, is that Ivan Rutherford, who has taken on the role of Jean Valjean more than 2,000 times on Broadway, stars as Valjean in this production. Though, honestly, the whole cast is quite talented and captivating.

We highly recommend this performance of Les Miserable for a well-deserved date night with a deadline -- you've only got until June 8! For tickets, visit the Drury Lane Theatre site.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lessons from the Garden: Better Late than Never

I was a laissez-faire gardener late last fall, investing my time on the fruits of the season's labor instead of preparing for one to come.

I thought I'd have a few more weekends to get the old plants dug out and cover the soil with leaves freshly fallen from trees and blanket the whole thing with a tarp before snow dusted the land.

Turns out I didn't.

I shrugged it off, thinking that at some point in the winter season there would be a break enough in cold and snow to prep the soil long after all the canning and freezing and drying had been finished.

Turns out there wasn't.

This morning the winds blew warmth across the hopeful midwestern landscape, and I went out to assess the situation I call the garden.

Of course, it was a mess. I spent an hour untangling old dead vines from stakes that should have come out of the ground last December as the garden was winding down for the winter.

And then I spent another good hour spreading leaves over the garden that I neglected to spread early this winter, an important process that delivers much needed trace minerals back to the soil and also feeds earthworms and beneficial microbes, all of which are necessary for producing fantastic produce.

"Better late than never, right?" I'd thought.

Better some than none, yes?

As I swept leaves over the soil, I began thinking -- that's been my unintentional motto for the past several years -- ever since busy sneakily got a choke hold on the throat of our life.

I do lots of things. But I don't do anything well anymore.

Sure that's a way to live, but really, that's no way to really live.

Each season that's passed, we've made hard decisions to let go of really good, really worthwhile activities and commitments.

Some of it has felt like we're chipping away pieces of our very selves.

Each season I grimace as we make another one of those decisions ... and each season after the decision has been made I've breathed a little more fully air into the depths of my lungs. Each season I've emerged a little stronger, ready to tackle more of what I left to weather on it's own beyond what I'd prefer.

Each season, I step out into the first beautiful day and assess, this time intentionally investing more in what is most important.

I look out at the tended Earth, and I breathe a sigh of relief, a sigh of contentedness and satisfaction.

Will the garden be fine and produce fruit and harvest this summer? I'm sure it will.

And when it comes to gardening, right now, I think it's ok.

But when it comes to the most important pieces of my life?

Turns out better late than never and better some than none doesn't apply.

I want the best fruit possible.

My marriage, our kiddos, my passions, my love for God -- I don't want to skimp on the soil of where those roots are burrowing.

Those fruits are just too precious to let go for anything else.