Monday, May 31, 2010

180 Degrees

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.

Enjoy!

Chloe playing Fur Elise from Lara Neves on Vimeo.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Productive Mommy Syndrome

Productive



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.
  • I'm Going There Someday
    Please click HERE to find the poem
  • 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.
All of this was interspersed with freaking out at my children for daring to get out a toy or talking too loud or being in the same room with me.  Luckily I have my little firecracker, Sophia, who keeps me in line:

"You can't say that to people, Mommy!  That's really rude!"

I hope they forgive me someday.  And in the meantime, I'm putting myself in a time out to read or watch a movie or something.  Joel can take care of bedtime.  And by can take care of bedtime, I definitely mean he'd better take care of bedtime.  And no, my kids are not in bed yet.  

Tomorrow will be a much better, if less productive, day.

I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's All Right

Little darling, it's been a long cold lonely winter 
Little darling, it feels like years since it's been here 
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun 
and I say it's all right 

Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces 
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been here 
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun 
and I say it's all right 

Sun, sun, sun, here it comes... 

Little darling, I feel that ice is slowly melting 
Little darling, it seems like years since it's been clear 
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, 
and I say it's all right.


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.

Oops.

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

Black Is the Color of All My Shirts

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.

Black

Black is the color of the beautiful night sky.
Black is the feeling when you feel mad.
Black is the dark color of paint.
Black smells like fresh wild blackberries.
Black tastes like ripe wild poison berries.
Black sounds like dark, dark hearted flying in the center of the creek.
Black looks like the blood thirsty leeches trying to painfully suck your blood.
Black feels like the sneaky old witches snatching you out of the house.
Black makes me want to dress scary for a fearful Halloween.
Black is one of my favorite colors.

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

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

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

It's Officially Spring!

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!

Tulips

Red and Yellow

Red Tulips


I love spring.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Flattering Shrubbery

Mother's Day Shrub


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):

She helps me.
She teaches me to clean.
She washes clothes.
She helps me when I'm sick.
She walks me to the bus!
She helps me water my plants.
She hugs me.
She cuddles.
She goes to the store with me.
She helps me when I need help.
She loves me.
She helps me with my homework.
She takes care of me when I'm sike.
She brushes my hair.
She buys me stuff.
She helps me match my clothes.
She is nice.
She helps me play my violin.
She makes me breakfast.
She helps me learn to be kind.
She's a good mom.
She kissis me.
She helps me clean.
She teaches me.
She decorates my room.
She teaches me to fold my cloths.
She helps me with puzzles.
She kisses me.
She teaches me to clean.
She makes me craphts.
She helps me on my homework.
She buys me things.
She teaches me.
She helps me do my chores.
She takes me shopping.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Life is Never Just a Walk in the Park

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.

Her glasses.

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.

The Storm Drain

(I bet you can't guess where the glasses fell through.)

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.

Sigh.

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.


Aspiring Gymnast

Across the Canal

Our Bridge

On the Pier


I'd say all the drama was worth it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The World View of a 3 Year Old

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.

So, yeah.  This post is about Sophia.  And her little world view as of last night.

During family prayer, she started crying all of the sudden.  You know the kind of cry, sad and quiet and pathetic?  So I whispered in her ear and asked her why she was crying.

"Because I just like everyone to say a prayer for me and I like the prayer."

"You're crying because you like the prayer?"

"Yes.  Because it's my favorite thing in the world and it makes me so happy.  But Daddy never not praying for me right now."  (Quiet sobbing...)

Talk about heart melting.

She was having a hard time, so I lay down with her for a bit while she was falling asleep.  Here are a few other things she said to me last night.

"I wish I had a Woody toy and a Buzz toy.  But I never not going to get one until I turn another number.  And so I have to wait until I'm five now."  (More quiet sobbing....)

"It's dark outside, and we can't go out there when it's dark because we can't breathe.  Only when it's light we can breathe outside, right Mommy?"

"Mommy?  Promise me that you will never throw away my monkey pillow because I really love it and it's so soft."  (Yes, quiet sobbing.)

"I only get one birthday because I'm only one person."  (So sad.)

"Sad means I'm not happy.  And I'm not happy because my tummy is hungry and that means I need to go down and check if there's food in the fridge"  (Pretty much the end of the world now.)

Her little tired and very sad self finally fell asleep.  But only after tapping me on my cheek and saying, "Mommy?  I love you.  Your eyes are more prettier."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Catch-22

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.

I like having him home all the time. I've missed him, as his presence has been rather scarce these last few months.

But when he's home all the time, I don't accomplish much of my own work. I tend to sit around talking with him, or eating the great lunches he cooks for me, or just in general not doing the laundry because I don't feel like it.

Tell me I'm not the only one? I think it's just that having him here disrupts my routine, and I don't know how to deal with it.

But, I am still happy he's home.

Just happy with my chores undone.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why It's Hard

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.

I was particularly surprised to read about a woman who began a blog primarily to criticize other blogging mothers.

Okay.  Maybe that's not so surprising, we do see a lot of criticism:  Our choices in childbirth (epidural or natural?), milk (formula or breast?) and education (public school or homeschool?) are particularly hot button issues among the mommy crowd.

But that's not what she's criticizing.

She is criticizing the mothers who write about the fact that sometimes motherhood is (dare I say it?) hard. 

I've done a lot of hard things in my life.

I spent 18 months on an LDS mission in a foreign country, far away from my family.  I was spit on, yelled at and mocked.  I went through some of the most heart-wrenching trials I have ever endured in that time.  I walked for hours a day.  I had blisters on my feet all the time.  It was hard.

But it ended.  I eventually came home.

I went to college.  That was hard, too.  I remember one semester of trying to balance a full-time job with some crazy amount of credits that I had to have approved by the provost because it was more than I was allowed to take,  opera rehearsals, a boyfriend, and being on a medication that was pretty mood-altering.  Yes.  Very hard.

But it ended.  That semester finished.  I eventually graduated from college.

Then my husband went to college.  And then he went to college again and again.  And that was hard.  We were poorer than church mice.  We had kids we could barely support.  We lived in awful student housing and we depended upon government loans and family for our survival.  That was pretty hard.

But it ended.  He graduated.

Pregnancy is probably one of the most difficult things I have ever been through in my life. Three times I went through hyperemesis.  I spent time in the hospital, with PICC lines and Zofran pumps.  And I still threw up ten or fifteen times a day, every day.  I lost weight.  I could barely get out of bed.  I couldn't take care of my kids.  That was really hard.

But guess what?  Even pregnancy eventually ends.

And then I was a mother.

And it is hard, too.  I don't know if it is harder than my mission, or school, or health issues.  In fact, I don't think it actually is.  I think I can think of a lot of things that are way more difficult than motherhood.  But that doesn't mean it's not hard.  Because it is.  It still remains one of the hardest things I have ever done.

But I think the hardest thing about it, is that it won't end.  I can't say to myself, "Self, this is hard stuff.  But don't worry...only ___ more months and it will all be over."  Nope, motherhood doesn't work that way.  Sure, I can divide it up into bite-sized pieces because there are parts of motherhood that do end.  

Potty training will end.
The threatening threes and the terrible twos will end.
Adolescence will end.
Fourth-grade math will end.

But there will always be something else.  Even when your children are grown and moved away, your motherhood will never end.  And it will probably still be hard.  It is for my mom.  There are always going to be things your children are doing and experiencing that provide difficulty for you as a mother.  Because you love them.  

Motherhood doesn't end.

And that's why it's hard.

But it's also why it is the most rewarding and wonderful thing we can do.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The One Where I Forgot it Was Mother's Day and Posted a Video of Me Singing Instead

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. 

Imagine my surprise when I got breakfast in bed yesterday morning, and a gourmet dinner cooked by my gourmet husband, and all kinds of wonderful notes and projects and cards and homemade gifts from my children and two plants at church.

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.

It's cool though.  It's fun to watch him conduct.

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

Little Chef


Posing

Today Sophia and I made spelt banana bread.  I thought I'd try using the spelt in my favorite banana bread recipe, since the last time I tried doing spelt (yeast) bread it was a spectacular failure.  I basically ended up with a giant bread bowl, it fell so much.  It tasted good, though.  I rather like spelt, so that's good news.

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.

Stirring

She is especially good at stirring up the ingredients.  I hardly helped her this time.  I measured them, and that was about it.  It took all of her self-control to even let me measure them, too.  That's how badly she wants to do everything herself.  Sometimes I go into the kitchen and find interesting "soup" that she has made for me.  The last one consisted of pickle juice, unpopped popcorn kernels and olives.  Maybe she won't be Martha Stewart, after all.

Licking

But she does know the best part of baking is licking the spoon after the bread is in the oven!  This is something we don't take lightly in our kitchen.

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):

Banana Bread

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

Burning Questions

Admit it.

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.

Quiet, beautiful
Falls from an icy gray sky
Covers all with white

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

Letter to My Daughter

I was thinking the other day about how when I was 16 years old, my mother was 37.  Which is only 2 years older than I am now. And I kind of had a light bulb moment, because I barely feel equipped to mother a 9-year old, and if I had a teenager right now I might just have to dig a hole and go hide in it.  I mean, I still feel like I am a teenager sometimes.

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

I May Have Discovered the Fountain of Youth

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

Cheered

Girl with Balloons


"Nobody can be uncheered with a balloon."
~Winnie the Pooh

There was a party for the Visual and Performing Arts Department at the University last week.  Balloons at every table.  Our family was one of the last to leave, so the Dept. Chair gave my kids every last balloon to take home, much to the chagrin of my husband.  Nothing worse than balloons in the house, according to him.

I can't say I love them either, but they make my children oh-so-happy, and if they're happy, so am I.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

It's May! And Things Are Going to Change Around Here...

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!