Sunday, February 28, 2010

Naan 2.27.10

I'm not sure I dare admit it, but Saturday was a pretty dreadful day.

It shouldn't have been, but I didn't run in the morning, and lately, the run is essential for a happy mommy.

And then the dog was disgusting and made me super angry. It's wrong to be super angry at a 14 year old dog, but sometimes it just happens. Especially when she...

Well, you don't need to know what she did, but it was not something I wanted to clean up.

The kids were good, though, and their last lesson before Federation went well (even Josh's went well. He has pulled another Kerri and procrastinated preparation until JUST BEFORE THE PERFORMANCE, but he and I have spent some quality time at the keyboard, and it's possible he may play fairly well on Saturday. Possible. We'll see.)

But at 11:00 pm (while David was taking Keith L. to the airport after the concert) (which I missed, even though it was the Cliburn silver medalist playing Rach 3) (because I didn't want to ask Josh to babysit yet again), I decided to make naan for my Primary class. I was teaching the 4 year olds that "Jesus once was a little child" and the lesson suggested having the children try some food that Jesus might have eaten.

And while it's not likely Jesus had flatbread made from white flour, I thought it would be worth trying.

And it was good. But not as good as Sarka's flatbread, as Josh pointed out this morning. I already knew that. I've got to find out how she does it.

Recital 2.26.10

Daily, there is the battle to fit in the practicing.

Weekly, there is the 25 minute trip to lessons.

Monthly, there is the payment for piano lessons.

And every so often there is the pay off. The recital. Oh, blessed night when the stars align and the preparation comes together for a good performance...

And even when the stars don't align, and the performance is not perfect, recitals are still pretty special.

This one was even more special because it was Sophie's first recital with Bridget as her teacher. Sophie and Josh took lessons from Bridget this summer, but once school started and the move was imminent, I decided to continue teaching them myself.

This was not a good idea.

Then I was kicked out of the SL chapter of Federation because I had the audacity to move to another county. How dare I? Bridget was kind enough to take on Josh and Sophie as temporary students in the month of February so they could enter with her studio. Bless you, Bridget.

I hate to admit it, but it REALLY was a bad idea to teach my own kids piano. It baffles me that I can say "Watch that phrasing." "Practice that in sections, slow to fast with metronome." "That's a quarter, not an eighth." and they don't believe a word of it. But if Bridget says the same things (and she does), suddenly they listen.


The recital was fun. The shakes after the recital were yummy (or so I'm told). And I'm so so proud of my sweet girls (and so so grateful for Bridget's wonderful teaching.)

Book Club 2.25.10

The autofocus on my favorite lens is broken. The culprit shall remain nameless, but he is a teenage boy living in my house who thought the autofocus ring on my 50mm was a zoom ring, and manhandled it until he figured out something was not quite right. Now something is not quite right almost all of the time.

That's a long explanation for why this picture is blurry.

It's blurry, but it makes me happy, because I really love these friends of mine. I was asked to be part of a book club years ago, but rehearsals for the choir I played for were always on Thursday nights, as were the book club meetings. As soon as the choir disbanded, I was excited to finally join.

And then I moved.

But I'm not about to stop going to book club. The discussion this month was about The New York Regional Mormon Singles Dance. (Disclaimer: I'm not recommending this book to everyone. It's NOT a book for everyone. It's definitely not a "clean Mormon" read, despite its title, and has things that might be offensive to some readers. Overall, though, there was much to like about it and it was certainly great for conversation.) The laughter and good talk were healing. I was reminded what a gift it is to sit with those who really know me, to weave new conversations and to build new memories.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.24.10

Tuesday was a bad Ben day. Bad bad bad. He had been up until midnight on Monday night, thanks to a nap earlier in the day, and so was a beast on Tuesday, hitting, biting, screaming. Oh. The screaming. I was venting to Christina, and she (bless her) invited him to join Ezra for playgroup this morning with some of his old buddies (shout out to Peter and Roger! I miss your mommies!) So I said yes. Yes, yes, yes, YES! I dropped him off, went for a run, and then we all headed out to McDonald's Playland. I realized that Ben has been totally neglected as a fourth child when we pulled up and he said, "What is that? How do you get up there?" It's true. The child has never been to a playland. (Neglected or blessed? decide.) But oh boy, he's been initiated. He was in heaven, and all the kids were up and down, rolling down the slide like puppies.

And don't you think Bennie looks like his friend Roger on the far right? I get those two mixed up, especially from behind.

Picture of the Day 2.23.10

Another really bad picture, but of a really cute boy.

Josh's new passion is baking. It's cracking me up. He found a recipe for Lemon Squares in a Food Network magazine and asked me to buy the ingredients. I finally did and he came home from school ecstatic to be able to cook. He texted his friends and asked them to come over and test them (one of them was even a girl...shhhh...don't tell), but then he realized it would be three hours before they were ready to eat, so the tasting party was cancelled. He's convinced that he's a better baker than I am and is rallying for a bake-off. Stinker. I taught him everything he knows...

Picture of the Day 2.22.10

Wow. This is so not a good picture.

Sophie had her storytelling festival. She memorized Split Pea Soup (a George and Martha story) and I was excited to see her perform. The festival was scheduled to begin at 1:00. Thanks to procrastination (me) and dawdling (Ben), we arrived at the school library at 1:04. Her teacher was leaving the library and said, "Oh. You missed it." (She's not a warm and fuzzy teacher.) I said, "Oh! I thought it started at 1:00!" She said, "Yes. It's now 1:05."

Okay, then...

Luckily, the librarian saw my distress and had Sophie perform again. The picture is of Sophie and her buddies Haylie, Kenzie, and Angela right after the performance.

Picture of the Day 2.21.10

Sunday afternoon was lovely, even though I was enduring my third day of a nasty cold. David rested, I read, and the kids entertained themselves. Sunday night was not lovely, because I was enduring my third day of a nasty cold, Ben wet through his diaper on the bean bag which led us to take the cover off the beanbag which led us to find that the internal zipper had somehow become unzipped (I suppose this might not have happened if we'd bought a LoveSac, but we couldn't justify the hugely higher price) and thus our evening became one of enjoying static-y foam all over the family room, shoveling it back into the inner liner, vacuuming the whole downstairs with a shop vac and then the regular vacuum, and wondering what had happened to our lovely Sunday.

Picture of the Day 2.20.10

Ben has never enjoyed haircuts. This was the first haircut he was excited to have, thanks to Cookie Cutters' brilliant use of TVs in front of each hair-cutting station. Sigh. Why is everything easier with media? He was excited, that is, until the clippers came out. Then he just squirmed and made faces and remembered why he has always hated haircuts.

Picture of the Day 2.19.10

Ash, Ben and Holden reading. Ashleigh saved me from an evening of utter boredom and I rewarded her with only tomato soup and cheese sandwiches. Hardly a fair trade.

Picture of the Day 2.18.10

Some days, all I want is to climb in here and sleep sleep sleep. So why do I stay up so late instead? This is indeed a mystery of the ages.

Monday, February 22, 2010

To Cheer Up Your Monday

Because narwhals are funny, but a bacon-wrapped chicken narwhal? That's just hilarious.

(Thank you, This is Why You're Fat. Go visit. You'll feel way better about your Sunday cookie binge.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.17.10

I took Sophie and her friend Kenzie to the grocery store after school to pick up some milk. We go through a ridiculous amount of milk in our house (about a gallon a day), and I think Josh drinks most of it. Oh well, he could have worse vices.

Picture of the Day 2.16.10

Malisa loving on her camera at our photography class. I definitely learned some things in class. The biggest thing I learned is that, wow, I have a lot to learn. And also that I'm not sure where to go to learn it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.15.10

Ben discovered the joys of blowing bubbles into milk. He blew the bubbles, then grabbed a spoon and ate them, then blew more bubbles, then grabbed a spoon and ate them. It was gross. But it was funny.

Picture of the Day 2.14.10

David's sister Rachelle is super-creative. Every Valentine's Day I fail to remember to amp up the holiday and do something special for her, but she never forgets us. Along with little gifts for each of us, she made us a plateful of my Achilles heel. Ahhh, sugar cookies. How I love you.

Picture of the Day 2.13.10

Josh had Suzuki cello graduation on Saturday for Book Three. He's second from the right. He looks excited, right? That's because he was. Even though he wasn't totally thrilled about the experience (he didn't feel as prepared as he would have liked), I am proud of the progress he's been making.

Picture of the Day 2.12.10

Sophie's school valentines.

Kate's school valentimes. Can you make out her charming misspelling? I did, but not until after she was all done. I wouldn't have changed a thing, even if I had noticed earlier.

Kate showing off her four "Top Secret" valentines that were delivered to her class from who knows which secret admirers. Lucky girl. Like her bindi?

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Valentine.

I really like David. I ALSO really love him.

This is an inside joke, and inside jokes are the kind I like best on Valentine's Day, because they remind me that we have nearly 20 years of inside jokes together. Inside jokes remind me that someone else shares my history and remembers so many of the things I remember, that our past is something we can be joyful about.

Here's to an eternity of more inside jokes with my David.

But no more hot dogs at the dump.

(Yup. You guessed it...another inside joke.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love This Song

Of course, she had me at C.S. Lewis, since I pretty much love C.S. Lewis, but it helps that the song is so great, too...

C S Lewis Song--Brooke Fraser

If i find in myself desires nothing in this world can satisfy,
I can only conclude that I was not made for here.
If the flesh that i fight is at best only light and momentary,
then of course I'll feel nude when to where I'm destined I'm compared.

Speak to me in the light of the dawn.
Mercy comes with the morning.
I will sigh and with all creation groan as I wait for hope to come for me.

Am I lost or just less found? On the straight or on the roundabout of the wrong way?
Is this a soul that stirs in me, is it breaking free, wanting to come alive?
Cause my comfort would prefer for me to be numb
And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become.

For we, we are not long here.
Our time is but a breath, so we better breathe it.
And I, I was made to live, I was made to love, I was made to know you.
Hope is coming for me.
Hope, He's coming.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.11.10

Sophie had to build a barn for a school assignment. I love the way Sophie focuses when she has a project. She created some great pumpkins and some other crops and got up really early the next morning to bring it to the next level.

And did I mention that she and her friend Angela tied for first place in the fourth grade science fair? The other winner was a boy who built a hovercraft. Hmmmm.... Other than not being sure that plastic wrap over water glasses is quite as impressive as a hovercraft, I'm incredibly proud.

Picture of the Day 2.10.10

I'm still freaking out a little about Josh's performance for Solo and Ensemble. (Is Solo and Ensemble a Utah-only thing? We didn't do it in California, so I still don't really know how it works.) He told me a few weeks ago he'd be playing a movement from a Haydn quartet (The Bird, Op. 33), and then somehow it actually happened. The quartet met at our house on Tuesday night for over an hour and played with increasing musicality as the hour wore on. They decided to meet at school the next morning at 7 (no prodding from mothers). And they rocked. Seriously. It was really exciting. And of course I brought the videocamera to capture this history in the making. And found out that I hadn't charged the battery. Will I ever EVER learn? So without any video or audio evidence, I'll have to just make you take my word for it. They did great.

Also, I needed to prove that everything old is new again. Sorry about the blurry picture, but I had to pretend to take a picture of Sophie to covertly snap this one. I'm just so sneaky. Boys in pegged pants...ahhh, the memories.

Picture of the Day 2.9.10

Sophie started complaining about her eyes in September, but when we had them checked out at the pediatrician's office, they seemed perfectly fine. She complained more as time went on, but I ignored her because I'm a really good mom. Then we went to the pediatrician again, and I asked if she could have her eyes checked again. Ummmmmmm...yeah. I didn't know eyes could change that fast. So we hit the optometrist's office and are in the process of choosing cute glasses for a cute girl. I got my first pair of (ugly brown) glasses when I was eight, so I understand the complex feelings surrounding getting your first pair. Luckily, she's super cute and can totally pull off specs.

And I just couldn't resist adding this one...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Slow Learner

So if you've been reading my blog for very long, I think you'll recognize this ridiculous cycle:

Gee, I have so many weaknesses.
My weaknesses are really dragging me down.
Ah! Epiphany! Heavenly Father cares about me despite my weaknesses! All is right in the world.
Man, I can't believe how many weaknesses I have.
Life really stinks. I'm really lame. I just wish I could conquer these things that make me so frustrated with myself.
What? You mean that it's EXPECTED that I am weak? That's part of the PLAN? Amazing! I never would have GUESSED! Grace is wonderful!


Ummmmm...can I just ask a question?

Why don't I learn this lesson once and for all?

It's like I'm enrolled in Remedial Life (Grace for Dummies). Seriously. I'd like to be done with this lesson once and for all so I can like myself more, serve the people around me better and maybe learn something about, I don't know, something ELSE?

But then, in the plan, is there really anything but grace? Isn't that what it's all about? Maybe I'm not in Grace for Dummies. Maybe I'm in Advanced Placement Grace. After all, I'm having lots and lots of tests and even writing a dissertation or two. Looks like I'm on the cyclical learning plan. Maybe if I keep returning to the same lesson over and over and over, I'll really start to believe it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.8.10

Does this happen in your house, too? (The culprit will remain nameless.) Seriously, if you're going to pour that much milk into your cereal bowl, drink it down, kid!!!!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.7.10

We went down south to Eleanor Rose's baby blessing. Eleanor is the daughter of our nephew Chris and his wife Allison. Chris has the unfortunate honor of being one of my very first piano students. He plays as well as you expect for having a beginner teacher and learning on a portable keyboard (not at all, I think), but is a great guitarist. I take all the credit. Well, no I don't. Chris is an intelligent, interesting, and funny guy, and I am freaking out that he's old enough to be a dad.

Also, how have I not experienced before now? So so much fun. I'm searching for a contemporary piece to add to my audition repertoire, and I'm being a little picky. OK, a lot picky. I want it to be audience-friendly, but unusual. I want it to be late 20th century (written after I was born) or 21st century. I want it to be showy, mostly tonal (audience-friendly, after all), and not too long. I have not found the right piece. But lala is helping me search. Hooray for lala. Seriously. I really like lala.

Picture of the Day 2.6.10

David took Ben, Kate, and Josh to the model train expo at the South Towne Expo Center while I stayed home and practiced with Sophie. Lucky Sophie. Actually, she wanted to stay home to finish Harry Potter #6. Mission accomplished. That girl has the Potter bug. She read #6 in about a week (maybe less).

Ben apparently now wants a train, if repeating "I want a train" ad nauseum is any indication.

I sent the little camera with the train bunch, but I forgot to check the battery life. Hooray for iPhone pictures.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.5.10

Yet another clue that I am on child #4: I let Ben mix the PlayDoh. All four colors. Together. Into one big greenie-whitie-yellowie-brownie blob. And I didn't mind one little bit.

Well, OK, I minded a little teeny bit. Because I liked it when I made the kids keep the PlayDoh colors separate. It felt so controlled and safe and clean. But this was much more fun for Ben AND for me. I wish I'd learned THIS lesson a little earlier.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.4.10

I walked outside to check on the kids and found fifteen kids on the street on all kinds of wheeled objects, including a black desk chair. Sophie ran inside to get a single roller blade to wear and informed me that it's Wacky Transportation Day. Who knew? Hope it comes again soon.

Picture of the Day 2.3.10

It's early out all week for the elementary school, and Sophie and her friend decided to try walking home to our house...a mile and a half uphill. Hooray for a lovely warm-ish day, and for two sweet girls willing to let Kate tag along. I met them along the way to take backpacks and give them my cell phone. They enjoyed the walk enough that they're planning a repeat. We all agree that we really REALLY miss walking to school, but the thirty minutes it took them to get home yesterday is just a little longer than the 3 minutes it took at our old house.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My Arranged Marriages

There have been times in my life when I use the brain that God gave me and make plans. Big plans. Plans that make good sense, that could be argued in court to be the smartest and rightest choice for me and for those I love.

And then God tells me that He's got other plans for me.

Each time this has happened (and I'm thinking about three times in particular), I recognize the inspiration, but I throw fits. I try to argue with God, to explain my position, but we all know how THAT goes.

The first time was long ago and I won't talk much about it. Super personal and all that.

The second time was when we decided to have Ben.

And the third time was moving to this house.

The angst is real. Giving up my idea of what is right for my life is HARD. Trusting Heavenly Father shouldn't be hard, and yet, it is. To turn from the known to the unknown, to accept that the new choice will likely make my life more challenging, will stretch me in ways that hurt, to willingly give my life to God with the belief that He does, indeed know's all very daunting.

And yet, looking back with this whole "hindsight is 20/20" thing, I recognize many of the Whys. I also see that just because I know that Heavenly Father is directing me in something doesn't mean it will be easy. Or manageable. Or fun. But eventually I'll know that it's right.

There were many very good reasons for us to not have a fourth baby. And even when I had received the prompting (the hit you over the head kind of prompting) that we needed to have a fourth, I tried to ignore it. David listened, though, and told me we could do it. It would be OK.

And it wasn't really OK. It was extremely, enormously hard. For most of the pregnancy and much of Ben's first year. I remember going to the temple and just begging Heavenly Father to make it easier. I tried to bargain: since it was all His idea, after all, couldn't he take away the trial of it and make it easier? The answer for THAT time was sadly, no. What he did, instead, was carry me when I was most overwhelmed and give me strength to continue when I didn't think I could. Life wasn't magically perfect. Somehow, though, even with the anxiety and the worry and the pain, we knew our decision was the right one. And we love Ben enormously. We truly can't imagine our lives without him. He is so so SO much fun. The pain, in the end, was absolutely worth it.

So when this house thing happened, I guess I was a little prepared for growing pains. I wasn't really prepared for the immensity of them.

I'm still feeling shell-shocked. It's all so unfamiliar and new, and there are some parts of my life that are undeniably hard. And yet, like maybe in a good arranged marriage, I'm learning that there are some wonderful surprises in my new house that are helping me fall in love. Since I had no expectations, everything positive is like a little gift. Here are the unexpected things I'm learning to love about my new life:

Fans in the bathrooms.
Plugs wherever I might need them. And they're all grounded!
The attached garage thing? Whatever I think about it architecturally (yuck), MAN are they wonderful in the winter.
The light-filled basement.
Jetted tub. I didn't think I'd care. And I do care.
Big ol' pantry and closets.
The light rising behind the mountains on my early runs.
The Bonneville Shoreline trail, of course.
Wonderful visiting teachers.
Dining room.
Josh's experience with the orchestra at SDJH and with scouting.
The many many coincidences that reassure me that Heavenly Father is mindful of us and this WAS planned by Him.

This isn't what I had planned, but I'm going to survive it. And I'll find the joy in it one step at a time. This is when the clay says to the Potter: do what You will. My life will be more beautiful in Your hands than it would have been with my weaker vision.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.2.10

Ben told his first joke(s) today.

"Knock knock." (Aren't the first jokes ALWAYS knock knock jokes? Oh, except for Josh's. His was "Why does a butter spreader have a sharp edge?" "Why?" "Because it's a BUTTER SPREADER." Cue peals of laughter and many repetitions.)

"Who's there?"


"Tomato who?"

"Tomato ME!!!!!" (Again cue peals of laughter. And then repetitions of the joke, but with different objects. "Car." "Car ME!!!!" "Cookie." "Cookie ME!!!!")

David will be so proud.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Picture of the Day 2.1.10

Domesticity. Some days I reach for it and fail miserably, and some days I succeed. Today I deserve a special prize. I found extra lean ground beef on clearance for $1.29 a pound, so I bought more than 9 pounds. By the end of the day I had made and frozen 3 meatloaves (meatloafs? Which is correct?), 100 meatballs, and four freezer bags of cooked ground beef and onions for spaghetti and tacos. Batch cooking, my friends. I'm all about the batch cooking.

Picture of the Day 1.31.10

Yes, it's another sunset picture. Sorry, but I just wanted to eat up the non-smoggy sky. Thank you, storm, for clearing our air and making my heart happy.