2011 Bands of America Finalist, Ya’ll!

It began innocently enough – a stop on our trip to eat dinner at Taco Bell.

I had something in my teeth. Or at least, it felt like something in my teeth. I sat there and thought, “I’m SO glad that we have toothpicks in my car because I am so needing one right now.”

We have toothpicks in my car because Kevin has a gap between two teeth and he is constantly getting food caught in there. So I keep toothpicks in my car so I don’t have to hear him complaining about food being stuck in his teeth and so he won’t be so distracted with food in his teeth that he doesn’t pay attention to me.

Removing as many distractions as I can is just one of the many ways I cope with marital issues, people.

So there I am, in a Taco Bell located inside a truck stop (because we’re not picky where we eat, apparently), and the pressure in my tooth is getting worse.

“MAN! I must really have something caught in there,” I think to myself.

And not five seconds later, my soft, delicious chalupa is crunchy.

What the hell?

I delicately remove the food from my mouth (alright fine, I spit it out into the palm of my hand – decorum be damned because it’s just me, Kevin and Dude and believe me when I tell you guys, they have seen and heard me do FAR worse) and there, among half chewed up meat mixture, is the corner of one of my teeth.

(And have I mentioned how many dreams I’ve had where I cup my mouth to catch all of my crumbling teeth? It was a freaky moment, let me tell ya).

That pressure I was feeling? Was that fragment of tooth working its way free from the rest of the tooth.

Swell. Now I get to take off work to go to the dentist. And did I mention we don’t have dental insurance?

(I’ll just censor this next part out for the more sensitive readers out there).

And that’s how my weekend started, thank you very much.

The reason we were at a Taco Bell inside of a truck stop was because me, Kevin and Dude were on our way to St. Louis. I got off work, came home, threw a few items into an overnight bag and away we went.

Our band kids were scheduled to play at the Bands of America on Saturday.

Jazz never came home Friday. I helped him pack his band uniform, and accessories, along with an overnight bag Friday morning and I didn’t see my child again until nearly 4:00 a.m. Sunday morning. The kids had one last practice after school on Friday, then they packed up the bus and headed up to St. Louis.

We actually passed their hotel on our way and saw they had just arrived. The kids were standing up in the busses and getting their stuff together.

We arrived at our hotel about 9:30.

Along with about 300 other band kids, too.

We stayed at a hotel in downtown St. Louis and apparently, a lot of the band kids had the same idea – the whole area was crawling with young musicians. Luckily, our hotel room was in a corner and the kids were pretty well behaved, so we didn’t have to deal with a bunch of rambunctious kids whose sole mission in life was to disrupt the adults around them.

(Actually – now that I think about it – most of the band kids we’ve been in contact with have always been respectful. Must be a music thing).

We all went to bed shortly after we got settled in (it had been a long work day, after all), and got a decent night’s sleep. (Thanks to Kevin’s sleep apnea machine which helps him control his snoring).

The next morning, we had a hot breakfast (Drury Inns ROCK my world, ya’ll), then headed over to the stadium.

It was about 10:00 a.m. and our kids were scheduled to play at noon. Kevin’s folks drove up and met us at the stadium.

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We watched our kids in preliminaries. They were good, but they’ve played better. They started their routine a little off the mark and then they had some technical issues which made one part of the show start before it was supposed to.

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I was quite convinced that there was NO WAY our kids would make finals. I mean, come on, there were 52 bands competing at Bands of America – what were the odds our kids would make it??

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In fact, we only bought the Saturday pre-lim tickets which did not include the finals.

I mean, 52 bands, only 14 slots available for finals – what were the odds??

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The time came to announce who would be going to finals.

And yes, you guessed it, (as if the title of this post didn’t give it away) – OUR KIDS BEAT THE ODDS.

They were going to finals.

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My jaw literally dropped when I heard their name announced. We were ecstatic!!! It wasn’t that I didn’t think they were good enough, it was just that everyone else was just THAT GOOD.

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I worried our show wasn’t flashy enough. In fact, our show this year was less “showy” than last year, but I think the music is better this year. And according to Jazz, 60% of what the judges judge on is the music. Our band director definitely has his finger on what works because even though our show was less impressive (and by that I mean, we didn’t have the fancy props or fun surprises), our kids played their hearts out on the music and that was good enough for the judges.

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We didn’t stick around for finals. I wanted to stay, but Kevin and Dude talked me out of staying because UGH, we’d be driving home in the dead of night again and I just wasn’t sure I was up for that for the third week in a row. So, we ended up going home after finals. (We would have also had to buy three more tickets for finals since the tickets we bought were only good for the Saturday prelims – we’re talking about $50 bucks people. Ouch!). We walked to a Starbucks, grabbed some pumpkin spice lattes (Dude had a White Chocolate Mocha), and we raced home hoping to make it in time to watch our kids play in the finals via webstream. Kevin accessed the band’s Facebook page and saw that they were scheduled to go on at 9:15. And would you know, we got home at 9:00 and I had just paid $20 bucks to access the webstream JUST in time to watch our kids in finals.

And they ROCKED those songs, ya’ll!

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They definitely sounded better in finals than they did in prelims.

Our kids ended up coming in 12th place. There were 14 teams in the finals and 52 bands in the entire competition. So our kids placed 12th out of 52. WE WERE SO PROUD OF THEM!!!!! Jazz told me today that his band director was very pleased with their performance as well.

I went to sleep at midnight but set my alarm to wake me up at 2:30 a.m. so that I would be awake enough to pick Jazz up after he got back into town. Kevin got up with me and we ended up napping in the car because the kids were running late and didn’t get back until almost 4 A.M.! *squeak* I’m SO GLAD now that we didn’t stick around to drive home! Because at least Jazz can sleep on the bus on the way home. I would have been out of my head tired if we had driven home that late.

No one ever really talks about our band program very often, but we’re becoming a force to be reckoned with. We’re like the sleeping giants of marching bands. Our band keeps getting better and better every year and we’re consistently making finals every year, which is really saying a lot, in my opinion.

We have one more competition for the season on the 29th. They aren’t playing this coming weekend.

Even though these trips are hard on me, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for ANYTHING. And even though we rarely SEE Jazz on these trips, he knows we’re there and we all compare notes on the performances afterward. Actually, we passed Jazz in the crowd at the stadium and Dude went after him. He casually walked up alongside Jazz and started talking to him like it was no big deal. Jazz got a kick out of seeing his brother.

Jazz doesn’t say much about our coming to see his competitions, but I can tell that it means a lot to him that we make the effort. I don’t ever want him, or Dude, to grow up and say, “my parents were never there for me.”

These trips may be inconvenient and time consuming, but they are OH SO WORTH IT on so many levels – both for us and for Jazz.

In fact, we love them so much, that we’re talking about doing this every year, including Jazz – making a trip up to St. Louis to watch the bands and to keep track of our boys’ school just to see how they do.

I’m afraid we have become die-hard band parents.

And I couldn’t be prouder.

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Karen

Hi! My day job is a CMA in neurosurgery.. I'm a mom to two twenty-something sons. I've been married to the same man for 26 years. I have a lot to say about nothing. Lucky you.