I've experimented with a lot of hobbies over the years, a few sticking like hot glue on a pom pom, and most fading away for a variety of reasons.  I've always been a memorabilia fanatic, filling boxes upon boxes of school awards, movie ticket stubs, and pictures, and once took up scrapbooking as a way to organize and display my piles of papers.  Not only did this require frequent trips to Hobby Lobby for the perfect piece of scrapbook paper, but my perfectionist self would spend hours on a single two-page spread.  This hobby of mine became more of a burden than an escape, and I soon let it go, along with my paper hoarder tendencies (thank you modern-day technology, especially my external hard-drive).

Then there was crocheting.  A few months before Cruz was born, I decided on a whim and trip to (what do you know) Hobby Lobby that I wanted to make a baby blanket for my soon-to-be firstborn.  I thought it sounded like the perfect escape from Facebook, Pinterest, and Blogger, and had visions of sitting with my feet up at night, crocheting scarves and booties and fabulous sweaters for sweet babies.  This hobby of mine lasted for about a month, and included a few nights at crochet club with a group of old ladies drinking wine and showing off their latest stitch and pattern and mahogany crochet needles.  I was intimidated by these old ladies, and grew frustrated when I couldn't make it past two rows on my blanket.  I think the worst part, however, was when Beau starting calling me Annabelle.  Or the time I thought I'd have to go through extra security in order to get my crochet needles on an airline.   

Sometimes I fear that our society isn't very good at cultivating the importance of hobbies.  We work too much, spend too much time on our smart phones, and have equated the art of spending money with a logical hobby for far too long.  To me, true hobbies involve both pleasure and escape, and should be something that require a bit of vulnerability --- something one should work at, and improve on, and feel the freedom of making and learning from mistakes.  

I love to cook and take photos, read, write, and craft with Cruz, but it was time to discover a new hobby, one that would require me to start from scratch, learn by doing, and make and learn from my mistakes.  And besides, with all the music permeating through this house lately, it was time I picked up my weight around here.

Beau has been learning guitar for a few months now, and it's been neat to watch him progress and develop a passion for something brand new.  He's taking lessons and learning so much, and I absolutely adore the sounds of his strings filling our house at night (except for that opening number to Simple Song which I now hear in my sleep).  And then there's Cruz, who identified a deep infatuation for music at the wee age of a few months.  From his Let's Rock Elmo, to his Woofer Guitar, to watching Johnny Lang play the blues every morning while I got ready for work, anything musical has been on the top of his 'play' list for, well, ever.  He loves his drum, flocks to any sort of instrument in the Target toy aisle, and is at his happiest when the three of us congregate on the living room floor and jam.  

 We took our jam session outdoors last weekend, and took advantage of the 70-degree November day in one of our favorite places, Alice Wyth Lake.  We had lots of fun.

I may not be able to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow quite yet, but I am getting pretty skilled moving from the 'C' to the 'G' chord.  I know two strum patterns and six chords, and can play something that sounds a little like Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.  I'm a work-in-progress, but am soaking up the humbling feeling of learning something I know next to nothing about.

Maybe next I'll decide to learn Italian. 

I'd love to hear from all of you out there.  What hobbies have stuck with you over the years?  What's something you've learned recently?  What's something you've always wanted to learn to do, but have never made it happen?  

That's it from me for a few days.  I'm heading to Sin City for my first ever NCTE Conference this weekend and have loads of packing to do.  It's pretty much the bees-knees for English teachers and is chock-full of authors, sessions, and free stuff to inspire and motivate educators.  It will be a weekend of firsts for me --- my first solo national presentation, my first trip to Vegas, and my first experience getting up close and personal with a few people I consider to be the near top of what they do.  Stay tuned for updates from the city that never sleeps and let me know if you have favorite restaurants or must-sees on the strip!