Chloe came home from school an absolute wreck the other day. Nobody played with her. Nobody liked her. She's not good at anything. Her sisters never jump rope with her. Nobody loves her. Not anyone!
And then she cried (wailed)(very loudly) on the couch for about an hour.
If she wasn't just 7 years old, I'd say she had PMS.
When she gets like this, there's just not a lot a person can do for her. I get her on my lap and try to talk to her, but the sobbing just continues while she simultaneously drenches my lovely throw pillows in snot and tears.
It's fun being the mother to girls.
Finally, we had to go to her piano lesson. She cried all the way there, insisting that I didn't love her and going through an entire package of Kleenex. She calmed down just enough for us to go inside, where I mouthed to her teacher that she'd had a bad day (as if she couldn't tell already what with the swollen eyes and the bright red nose) and Chloe reluctantly sat down at the piano.
She unhappily played through her scales, which is probably normal, since scales are less than exciting.
But when she started playing her first piece--one that she particularly likes--I saw little smiles creep in during her favorite parts. But they quickly disappeared and she would force a frown back on her face. During her second piece, she openly smiled through it. And as she played Minuet in G and Fur Elise, she beamed.
I love how the music rose up within her soul and touched her heart and turned around her entire day. It does the same thing for me--when I'm in a particularly bad mood, I will often sit down at the piano and sing or play something I love. It works wonders.
I called Chloe's attention to her not-so-mysterious change of heart, and told her it was because the music brought her joy. Nobody can be sad for long when they are playing joyful songs.
I hope she remembers. She doesn't have days like this often, but when she does we all brace ourselves for the hours of emotion. Maybe next time she'll remember to sit at the piano and play it out.
And, just for fun, here's a video of her playing Fur Elise. She's been working on it for a recital coming up in June. I recorded it with photobooth, and I have no idea how to flip the picture, so it's kind of weird watching it with her hands going the wrong way. I guess if it bothers you too much, you can always watch the video in a mirror.
Monday, May 31, 2010
Chloe came home from school an absolute wreck the other day. Nobody played with her. Nobody liked her. She's not good at anything. Her sisters never jump rope with her. Nobody loves her. Not anyone!
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Around here, that's what PMS stands for.
Once a month, I am relentless about getting things done. And I slave-drive my poor family. They must be used to it, because if I raise my voice during normal days, the girls get their feelings so hurt that I never hear the end of it. But during the PMS tirades (which are much, much worse--I really should just leave the house instead), they just roll their eyes at me and blatantly ignore me. Which, of course, makes me more upset.
Today was one of those days, and I accomplished a ton (without Joel, even, since he was out and about being all service-oriented helping people move and stuff).
- I folded eighteen gazillion loads of laundry.
- Put away almost that many loads, while making my children do the rest.
- Cleaned out Sophia's dresser and closet and pulled out everything that is too small for her.
- I made beds.
- Put away the clean dishes.
- Went down to the basement to find the bin of Sophia-sized clothing.
- Realized the basement storage area is a mess.
- Organized and swept out the basement storage area.
- Also found a better place for our food storage.
- Finally discovered the 4T clothing bin.
- Lugged it upstairs.
- Pulled out everything Sophia can use, put the rest in the Goodwill pile or left it in the bin (wrong season).
- Washed, folded and put away all the above mentioned 4T items.
- Cleaned out the older girls' closet (drawers will have to wait till next week).
- Helped Bria clean the upstairs bathroom.
- Paid a few bills.
- Found a candy bar and (oops!) ate it.
- Realized why I am in such a bad mood.
- Ordered math workbooks for the summer.
- Ordered Joel's Birthday and/or Father's Day gift.
- Cleaned out underneath my bed.
- Helped the girls straighten the playroom for the upteenth time.
- Fixed a bunch of hairbows that were falling apart.
- Mended one of Sophia's dresses.
- Studied my YW lesson for tomorrow.
- Finished making the handouts and sewing the temple envelopes. (Yes, our little branch is way behind on lessons.) (The envelopes were super easy to make--I just used my own as a pattern and they turned out quite lovely.)(I made two--I have one Young Woman and there will be a visitor tomorrow.)
- Decompressed at the computer.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
A while back, Chloe and Sophia were arguing about which song they wanted to listen to in the car. Chloe wanted "Sun, Sun, Sun" and Sophia wanted "Little Darlin'." While they were busy disagreeing, Joel quietly found the Beatles CD and put on the song they didn't realize they both wanted.
Since then, it has become the soundtrack of our lives.
On Monday it was 95 degrees here on our little peninsula. That same day it only hit 83 in Phoenix. Oh the irony.
We hardly knew what to do with ourselves in such heat--nobody around here has air conditioning--so we escaped to the beach with friends. I would share pictures, because I did bring my camera, but I sort of forgot my battery. The minute I got it out of my bag, The Maestro asked me if I knew "what kind of power those things run on" and that's when I realized I left one battery on the charger in the wall and the other one on my desk.
It was kind of nice to say to heck with practicing and homework and chores and just enjoy the sun. We stayed for about 3 hours, after which we had to run home and feed the missionaries.
The weather has continued to be warm (although not quite so hot, thankfully) and sunny and beautiful this week. We have taken long walks every evening, and for a couple hours each night I just lie on my bed reading in the sunshine from my window. I am like a cat.
Last night, we noticed that it still wasn't quite dark yet at 11:30 pm. You know when the sun is gone, but that gorgeous blue remains for a while? (I just recently learned that is called The Blue Hour, or L'heure Bleue.) 11:30 pm! And it's not even June yet! I can't wait to see what the summer solstice is like!
After a winter of freezing to death, I am finally warming up again and thawing out. Increasing my Vitamin D levels. Basking in the sunlight.
And I say it's all right.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Bria recently completed a poetry unit at school, and brought home a book of poems that she had written. She has always been a kid who loves words, and her poetry was pretty impressive for a 9-year old. (Said like only a mother can say it, right?)(Don't tell me otherwise.)(Because she is amazing.)
My favorite was the assignment to write about her favorite color. She chose black.
When I first read it, I was worried that maybe she was a fourth-grade Goth already, but mostly, I just appreciated her very descriptive words.
And when The Maestro read it, he said, "She's your daughter."
He was right.
I love black. I suppose it is my favorite color, after red. I paint all my furniture black. Our bedspread is black. My curtains are black. My couch is black. I painted my bathroom doors black. My purse is black. All of my clothes are black. And all of Joel's clothes are black because I think they should be.
I was just cleaning out my drawers today, trying to lighten the load and send some things to Goodwill. I counted 14 black shirts, not including the one I am wearing and any that may be in the laundry. And those are only the ones that are just plain black. I have at least 14 more that are mostly black with some other color (usually white) in the pattern.
Only one black shirt went in the Goodwill box, and that's only because it shrunk in the wash and fits me funny now.
In my defense, I have a lot of white shirts, too.
And a couple red ones.
And that's about all.
Let's not even talk about how many pair of black shoes I own.
I may be boring, but at least I match.
And Bria has great taste in colors. Someday when everything she owns is black, I will be a proud mama and tell everyone that I taught her everything she knows.
Because I did.
Monday, May 24, 2010
Lately, I've been feeling a bit like the one kid who didn't get invited to the party. In fact, if I'm being honest, I've been a bit of a sad sack in the last little while, and it's all because I live way out here at the end of the world and I don't get to go to CBC or the NATS convention.
CBC (The Casual Bloggers Conference) is going to be this weekend, and while I want to be happy for everyone who is going, every time I read a post about it I just feel left out. Silly of me, since it's not like I wasn't invited. It's just that I can't go.
The NATS convention (National Association of Teachers of Singing) is actually being held in Salt Lake City this year. I've always wanted to attend one of these, but they've always been extremely far away from where I live. And when it finally came to Salt Lake, I went and moved as far away as possible! I keep seeing Facebook updates of friends who get to go and I am feeling rather envious. And yes, left out.
I was planning on attending one of these events. I hadn't decided which one yet, but then my niece got engaged and we decided to fly out for her wedding. It was most important that we be present for that, as there will always be blogging conferences and NATS conventions and she will only be married once.
So even though this was a choice we made, and I'm glad that we made it, I'm still sad.
Sad because I can't meet so many of my wonderful blogging buddies. Sad because if these events had happened last year, I would have been able to attend both of them because I actually lived in Utah. Sad because not only are we clear out in Michigan, we are pretty low on discretionary income right now.
So, if you are going to either of these events, just think of poor little old me wishing I was there.
And have an amazing time.
Just for me.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
And I am officially enjoying it.
I was talking to a friend who has lived here for 40 years the other day. He asked me how I was enjoying the weather, and then said, "I've lived here for 40 years and I've never seen so much sun in my life!"
I believe it, too. When I came up to look for a house last May, it was freezing. And I had to buy a jacket because I didn't think to bring one since it was all hot in Utah. When we moved here in August, it was freezing. And I seriously contemplated turning on my heat in the middle of the summer.
We've had gorgeous weather, and I'm not complaining.
And, also, look what's in my yard!
I love spring.
Friday, May 21, 2010
For Mother's Day, the Primary kids in our branch gave their moms a shrub, decorated with all the reasons why their mother is the best. (We can do things like this, because there are only 7 kids in the entire Primary. Three of them are mine.)
Here's what mine said (there are some repeats, because the girls thought of the same things):
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
It was such a gorgeous evening last night, we decided to walk down to the Bridgeview Park to walk along the canal. As usual, we took about an hour to even get ourselves out of the house once it was decided we would go, but we finally managed.
We started down our hill, Joel leading the way while pushing Sophia in the stroller, and Bria following them. Chloe and I were a ways behind. About 20 feet into our journey, I saw Sophia drop something and Bria bend down to get it, when suddenly she stood up and let out the most harrowing cry you've ever heard. I thought maybe she'd been stung by a bee? Seen a dead mouse? Somehow hurt herself? Hundreds of options were running through my mind, and all of the sobbing and screaming was making it a bit difficult to understand her.
But then I understood what she was saying, "You're going to be so mad at me! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" I finally caught up to her, and realized that she'd dropped her glasses down the storm drain.
The ones she wears every day because she is incredibly nearsighted.
She was wearing her prescription sunglasses because it was so sunny out, and had been carrying her regular glasses in her hand for reasons I still do not understand. When she picked up Sophia's toy, they slipped and fell right into the storm drain.
I would be upset, too, if it happened to me.
Turns out our neighbor had been looking out the window as we were walking by. Then he saw us stop and proceed to create a "commotion" (yes, he used that word), so he came out to help.
Here's the problem with having an entire family comprised of passionate artist types: We simply can't go anywhere without some sort of drama. Usually pretty loud drama, too. The "commotion" consisted of Bria crying like somebody had been killed before her eyes, Joel being upset because these glasses are only a few months old and expensive, me making big gestures with my hands trying to come up with a solution, and also trying not to be angry since Joel was taking care of that part already and I didn't want to upset Bria any more, Sophia screaming at the top of her lungs to be let out of her stroller so she could see the storm drain and Chloe trying her best to calm her sister down.
What our neighbor thinks of us, I'll never know. But he was very helpful. While Joel ran up the hill to get a flashlight, he came out to help armed with a crowbar, a shovel, and his teenage son.
Thank heavens that the water in the drain was still, and that in this case, still waters did not run deep. Joel was able to locate the glasses with the flashlight, and then the ancient grate (seriously 100 years old) was pried up, and the glasses were recovered. They were covered in mud and gunk, but they were otherwise just fine.
And we still got our walk to the park, even though it was delayed a good 40 minutes by drama.
I'd say all the drama was worth it.
Monday, May 17, 2010
Before my kids can talk, I am always dying to know what's going on in their little minds. And once they start to communicate, I adore hearing just what they think about the world. The ages of 2 and 3 are my favorite favorite favorite. I just love hearing their thoughts.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Maestro is not working much anymore. He's not teaching the first summer session, so there isn't a lot of need to work. And what work he has been doing, he does from home.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
My mom sent me an interesting article about blogging a while ago. It highlighted "mommy blogging" (which I suppose is what I do, since I'm a mom and I blog and I do blog about being a mom sometimes) and the cliques, judgments, and "all-out slugfests" that happen within the mommy blogosphere.
Sunday, May 09, 2010
I'm so embarrassed.
I had all these great ideas about how I would celebrate Mother's Day on my blog. I also had a great idea about what I would do for my Mom for the holiday.
You know. The holiday that happens next week?
I honestly thought it was next Sunday.
I had a wonderful Mother's Day.
So, do you think it would be dumb to do all my Mother's Day posts the week after the event? Seems sort of anti-climactic, but whatever.
Maybe I'll do it anyway.
And maybe I won't.
But what I will do is post this video. You might remember the concert my husband and I did in February since that's pretty much all I ever blogged about for a couple months. Well, several of you asked for video of the event, and even though I'm not really sure I want to, I'm posting a video. (I hope it works.)(I also hope it doesn't work.)
By the way, it's not actual video of me, for which I'm glad. You get to watch The Maestro conduct as if you were a member of the second violins or the percussion section. There was no other video taken of the show, and Joel always videotapes himself like this for applying to workshops and the like.
And don't worry, you can hear me singing. Most of the time. Since the video was taken from the back of the orchestra, sometimes you can't hear me too well, but mostly you can.
I must tell you, that after listening to this performance a lot, I have found many, many reasons not to be happy with it: I lose my breath here, I have an ugly vowel there and I especially hate my last note. Mostly because I was on the verge of tears at the end and the voice was faltering.
Okay, so enough with the self-deprecation. I'm going to be brave and post this. I'm posting only the freakishly long aria (Salce, Salce/Ave Maria) from Otello. As a refresher, I am singing the character of Desdemona. She is talking with her sister, Emilia, while getting ready for bed just moments before Othello comes in and kills her. She senses something is wrong, and tells Emilia the story of a girl named Barbara. Once Emilia leaves, she prays the Ave Maria, which is the part that makes me cry every time.
The introduction is like three years long, but beautiful. Just imagine having to stand on stage and look all tragic for all that time. Oh, and the whole thing lasts about 15 minutes, so maybe grab a drink or some popcorn.
I'll shut up now.
I hope you enjoy! (And if you don't, please don't tell me about it.)(Thanks.)
Untitled from Lara Neves on Vimeo
PS The winner of the book A Letter to My Daughter is Hilary!
Friday, May 07, 2010
Sophia loves to help me cook. Not that I do it all that often, but when I do, she is right there wanting to do every bit of it herself. Maybe she'll grow up to be Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray or somebody like that. And she'll have her dad to thank for it. But I do make banana bread sometimes, so it's not like I don't contribute to her baking education.
Oh, and the spelt banana bread worked out pretty well, thanks. Here's the recipe I used (and if you don't want to use spelt flour, it works wonderfully with the good old all-purpose kind, too):
3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups spelt flour
Preheat oven to 350. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour and mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 loaf pan and bake for 50 minutes.
Thursday, May 06, 2010
You are guilty of asking Google questions.
I know I am.
Google is a pretty smart entity, and I almost always find the right answer.
I just worry that the people that end up on my blog don't actually get their questions answered, so I thought I'd remedy that right now because I'd feel awful if these people were left in darkness for the rest of their lives and it were all my fault.
Here we go....questions from the past 30 days:
Clever titles for voice lessons?
I was never aware that voice lessons even needed clever titles. Or titles at all, actually. I'm so clever that I call mine just plain voice lessons. If I'm feeling super crazy, I might even call them vocal instruction. I know. How clever am I?
I just feel like straightforward is the best way to go here, because I'm not really sure I'd get any students if I went around calling them vociferation practice or intonation education. Who even knows what that means? I sure don't, and I'm clever.
Can pregnant women eat maraschino cherries?
I really don't see why not. Cherries are good for you. As long as they aren't stuck in a martini or some other alcoholic beverage, you should be good. But if you have a problem with the squished up bugs that make them red, you probably shouldn't ever eat them. The ick factor of that is just too much for me, personally.
Knee jerk response while doing long division?
I'm going to assume this is different for everybody. I know some strange people whose knee jerk response to long division is probably something like having feelings of happiness and contentment.
My personal knee jerk response while doing long division is to run screaming from the room.
Nice words about snow?
To answer this question I shall write a Haiku for you.
7 things a spiritual diva must have in her purse?
I get hundreds of searches about what a woman, lady, girl, general female person should carry in her purse. I even made sure to answer the question in great detail . I am really kicking myself here for not including the seven special things a spiritual diva must have with her at all times. Such a glaring omission, and I apologize profusely.
And, to tell the truth, I don't know the answer to this question. I do consider myself spiritual, and of course I'm a diva, but I never really thought to put the two things together. I recommend you purchase the book The Spiritual Diva - Ten Principles for Becoming Faithful, Fierce, and Fabulous. Carry it in your purse, read it in restaurants and at stoplights, and you'll be well on your way to knowing much more than just what should be in your bag.
What does it feel like to be overstuffed?
I am somewhat of an expert on being overstuffed, in case you hadn't noticed.
If we're talking about life in general, I'd say it feels overwhelming.
If we're talking about overeating, well then, it feels overstuffed. I'm pretty sure you'll recognize the feeling.
Why are preschoolers accident prone?
To teach their mothers patience, vigilance and love. And so that the ER doctors have something interesting to do.
Why does Ginormica have white hair?
This one is simple--she obviously doesn't eat enough vegetables!
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
That year when I was 16 was probably the worst in my teenage life as far as my mom is concerned. I'm fairly certain she didn't know what to do with me or how to deal with my choices and that I caused her many gray hairs and much stress. It's weird for me now, to be almost the same age as she was then, and realize that it must have been just as hard for her to be the mother of a crazy adolescent daughter as it was for me to be the crazy adolescent daughter.
And it's really too bad I didn't understand that back then.
Conversely, sometimes I forget when dealing with my own children how it felt to be a fourth-grader or a first-grader, although I'm not really sure if I remember being a preschooler. And I'm sure that parents all over the world sometimes forget what it was really like to be a teenager, especially with all of the life experience we've had since then. Our teenage troubles seem silly now, and we forget that breaking up with a boyfriend or being teased at school really was the worst thing ever.
Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop is a book that explores some of these things in the form of a (very long) letter from a mother to her 15-year old daughter. The mother, Laura, uses the letter to explain to her daughter, Liz, that she actually does remember what it meant to be 15. And she tells a lot of her experiences as a teenager and how they shaped the woman she is today. She talks about her first boyfriend, her troubled relationship with her own mother, being teased at school, and much more.
The reason Laura writes this letter in the first place is because her daughter has run away, and it is her way of dealing with her parental guilt. She realizes that maybe she had forgotten a bit how it felt to be in Liz's shoes, and that she has become the mother she always swore she wouldn't become. (Because I'm sure we all experience a bit of that as we open our mouths and are shocked to hear our mother's voice coming out...)
I really enjoyed the book. It's a quick read, because even a very long letter can't be more than a couple hundred pages! Quick as it is, it's also quite poignant and very engaging. It portrayed the complicated relationships that mothers and daughters so often experience in a way that every woman will be able to relate to. I related to the mother and the difficulties of parenting so well, and yet, at the same time I found I related to the daughter as I recalled my own teenagerhood.
The book made quite an impression on me and I thought about it for several days after I finished it. It definitely made me want to go at my parenting through a bit more of an empathetic lens. Maybe I'll even get out my old journals and read all my own angsty entries as I wait for my daughters to get to that point...and feel sorry for my poor mother all the while.
Do you want to read this book? The publisher is kindly offering to give one copy to one of my readers! Make sure to comment on this post and tell me how you've turned into your own mother as a parent. I will announce the winner on Monday, May 10.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for sending me the book
Monday, May 03, 2010
In the last couple years the amount of gray hairs on my head seem to be reproducing at a rather alarming rate. They're actually becoming noticeable now. But, I am still quite unwilling to resort to such drastic measures as dyeing it, so I tend to go through and pluck out the white hairs periodically.
The last time I indulged myself, I was more than a bit distressed at the amount of white hairs I plucked out. Just as I was beginning to wonder if I should break down and call the hairdresser for an appointment I found yet another one.
But this hair was not entirely white. It was white at the bottom, but the top couple inches were just as black (if not blacker) as the rest of my hair. I was so surprised by this, that I even saved that hair to show to Joel when he got home. Very odd indeed (both the hair, and my behavior).
I did some research on it, and it turns out that this phenomenon can happen, and almost always does when a person changes her diet for the better. Since I have been (mostly) off sugar for the entire year (we won't talk about the few little slips I had in April), and have been trying very hard to eat more vegetables, especially since they're pretty much the only food group I can eat, it seems I have actually reversed the graying process in my hair.
Okay, so it was just one lousy hair. But I'm sure the rest will follow suit.
Anyway, I may not be losing weight, but vanity still just might keep me on this diet yet.
Pass the broccoli, please.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Saturday, May 01, 2010
April was insane.
Nothing got done around here.
But now Joel is done with finals, grades are due on Monday, and he will be my honey-do slave for the next month or so. I finished up lessons at the university, we had a recital last night, and I won't have to teach again for a couple more weeks, so I can be his honey-do helper. Exciting.
April was crazy.
The allergy diet sort of got thrown out the window. Eating like that takes so much planning, and something had to give, so that was it. Suffice it to say, I did not feel so good in April.
But it's May now and time is a bit more leisurely. I am recommitted.
April was exhausting.
And we seem to all be sick because of it. Chloe started it last Saturday (after I walked a 5K with the girls for the chance to win a mountain bike for Bria, and then went to Chloe's Girl Scout family swimming party) and then Sophia got it just as Chloe was able to go back to school on Thursday. And this morning Bria, my child who almost never gets sick, woke up with the telltale goopy eyes and sore throat. And I have a migraine.
But it looks like we have no obligations and can all sleep the weekend away with no guilt. Rest is good.
Here's to May!