Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Not a Mommy Blogger Anymore

Christmas 2006
Yesterday, Sophia and I were out shopping when she told me that the shoes she was wearing hurt her feet.

"Are they too small?" I asked.

"No.  They just pinch my toes.  But I can handle it.  I'm a big girl!"

And then it hit me--I am not a mom of littles anymore.  And as far as blogging goes, I don't think I can call myself a "Mommy Blogger" at this point. I know I'm not much of a blogger at all these days, but it feels like my kids are getting too old for the whole mom blog genre. I mean, they aren't all that old, but I guess I just think of a mommy blogger as being one with littles who are still in diapers and not yet in school. 

Bria is wary that anything she says or does will be put on the blog, and she tells me what I can and cannot post about her, and the list of okay stuff is shrinking daily. Chloe just turned 9, and while she probably doesn't care whether or not I write about her, she's just past all the toddler and preschool cuteness. And then there's Sophia. Sophia is my baby whose birth and life has been entirely documented on this blog. And now she's just about to graduate from Kindergarten, and is a self-proclaimed big girl who can handle shoes that pinch her toes (which really are too small, because she won't stop growing)!

When did this happen to me?

My blog had a birthday a few days ago. It turned a whopping 7 years old, which is pretty old in blogging years.  When I first began blogging I was the just-turned-30 mother of two young children. I was the wife of a doctoral student, living in student housing on a student budget. I was serving as Relief Society President, which kept me very busy. I didn't do much performing or teaching, though I had a few students and a singing gig here or there.

Bria was only four years old, and gave me hilarious blog fodder for my Kids Say the Darnedest Thing section. (Truthfully, she still does, I'm just not allowed to tell you that.) Chloe was an adorable two-year-old, and  I was a SAHM in the purest sense of the acronym.
Chocolate Faces 2005.  Chloe also has pen all over her face--some things never change.
Nowadays, I can hardly remember what those wonderful doctoral days (which I probably romanticize) in Arizona were like. I'm pushing 40,  we're no longer in school (which once seemed to be such a faraway prospect),  I'm teaching part time, and once Sophia is in school all day next year, I'll move closer to full time.  My life used to be overstuffed with young children and all that came with that: Potty training, pregnancy, princess dress ups, and play dates.  Now it's overstuffed with older children and their own set of stuff: Math homework and music lessons, chores and chauffeuring, braces and Brownies, Daisies, & Cadettes--not to mention the piles of dishes and laundry that were always there, but have just gotten bigger and bigger.

Growing.  It happens so naturally, but every once in a while you turn around and say, "Hey!  When did this happen to me?  Where did my babies go? And, also, my youthful figure is gone!  Who took it??"

On Monday, I took Bria to rehearse with her accompanist for an upcoming violin recital.  I sat there and watched her play a Vivaldi concerto flawlessly, and I thought of the little four-year-old girl who used to saw through her Twinkles every afternoon and I just started crying.  Heck, I'm crying now just thinking of it.  When did this beautiful and talented young woman start living in my house?

And Chloe.  She's no longer my cute little chubby two-year old who used to walk around the house with a pen and paper glued to her hands.  I miss that kid.  But instead I have this amazing nine-year-old who is lovely and smart and kind and still has a pen and paper glued to her hands.  That's how I know she's the same girl.

And of course, Sophia.  My mischievous baby.  She's a big girl now.  Going into the freaking first grade. Wise beyond her five years.  Smart as heck.  And I don't know where she came from, either.

So, I'm not a mommy blogger anymore.  But I'm sure thankful that I was.  Because I love to go back and read all of the funny stories about the three little girls that used to live here.  And I really hope I'm allowed to blog a bit more about three bigger girls that have taken their places.  Otherwise, I don't know how I'll be able to remember them when yet another set of bigger girls comes to replace them.  Or when they just leave altogether.

Because I think I still want to be a Mommy blogger, if that's okay with you.

(Or, maybe I'll just be a puppy blogger instead....look who got a haircut!)

Woolly PuppyNaked Puppy

Monday, April 23, 2012

Dona Nobis Pacem

105/366
I look like a dork, but I promised my mom a picture of my dress, and things got so busy that this is really the only one I actually took.  I have many more unkind things to say about myself and this picture, but we'll just leave it at "dorky."
Grant us peace.

When Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote the cantata back in 1936, he had no idea the profound impact it would have on the soprano soloist in a small town in Upper Michigan some 75 years later.

I have known I would be the soloist for this work for a really long time.  I started practicing months ago, though I didn't hit it super hard until January.  The thing about the soprano solo parts in this one is that they look easy, but are in reality very difficult.  At least, that's what I found.  There isn't really much of a melody to latch on to, the key changes are frequent and often done without accompaniment (can I just tell you how terrifying that is for a soprano who doesn't have perfect pitch?), the rhythm is all easy when you practice alone, but putting it together with the choir and orchestra proved that the rhythm was just pretending to be easy--in reality it was a beast.

All that to say that I had a surprisingly difficult time with the piece, and I basically had a nervous breakdown over it.

Three weeks before the performance, I was busy doing OPERAtion Imagination! and had put some of my Dona Nobis Pacem practice on hold while I worked on that.  Once it was over, I planned on dedicating my life to Ralph Vaughan Williams, except I got really sick instead.

And that was the beginning of the breakdown.  I sucked on zinc, downed tea and Airborne, rested as much as humanly possible, and still things weren't back to 100% by the time concert week rolled around.

On Friday night, I lost it psychologically.  It might have been the difficulty of the piece, the fact that my voice still wasn't working properly the day before the performance, or that the baritone sitting next to me has had an illustrious career which includes singing at the Met and being best buddies with Placido Domingo.  Whatever it was, my confidence was shot, and when I got up to sing a particularly difficult (for me) passage, it just didn't happen.

People.  I couldn't sing the passage in the dress rehearsal.  And I knew that it wasn't because I couldn't, it was because I was freaking out.  Falling apart inside.  Wondering what on earth I was doing there.

I went home and lost it.  I cried and cried.  The Maestro worked with me on the parts where I was struggling, and I could do them perfectly at home (well, I could if you don't count the tears).  Joel also gave me a priesthood blessing, and I worked on feeling at peace.

Which is pretty interesting, considering that my role in the entire cantata was to plead for peace.  The only lyrics I ever sang were

Agnus Dei, qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.
(Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, grant us peace.)

On Saturday morning, during the final rehearsal before the performance, I mulled over those lyrics and how they fit into the work as a whole quite a bit.  As I sat listening to the choir and the orchestra and the brilliant baritone, I found a new appreciation for the music.  It was no longer just about war to me.  It was about my own war with myself and my confidence.  I was no longer pleading to the Lord for peace on earth and freedom from death, I was pleading for peace within myself.

I needed to have peace in the knowledge that I had done the work and that I would be able to perform to the best of my abilities.  I needed to feel peace in the knowledge that my talents are God-given, and that I was there to share them with others.  I needed to know that my Savior loved me, and that He would be with me, and that He would grant me the peace I so badly needed.

By the end of the rehearsal, I had found that peace.

Later that night, I was ready to perform, and I stepped onstage with peace in my heart.

Was the performance perfect?  No.  But I knew I had done what I came to do, and I was thankful to have had such a profound experience--through the very music I was performing--to help me come closer to Christ.

And hopefully, in the process, to help others come closer to Him as well.


Dona Nobis
(Above picture taken with my friend's phone, stolen from Facebook by me.) 

(Another friend, who is a pro photog and covered the event, sent me this photo.)(Also, one of my favorite things about this particular picture is that Joel is sitting right behind my left shoulder.  He prepared the orchestra, but the choir director conducted the performance and Joel played trumpet.  I loved his quiet encouragement every time I turned around and sat down.  I've sung under his baton a million times, but it was nice to perform together in the ensemble this time.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Getaway

Right now, I am sitting in a hotel room 2 hours away from home, all by myself. My girls and puppy are being taken care of by friends, The Maestro is off adjudicating a music festival a few blocks away, and I basically have two whole days to myself to do whatever I want to do!

I'll admit, the last few weeks have been stressful. I kind of had a breakdown regarding an oratorio performance I did last weekend, and I have just plain been surviving instead of living. Joel made me come with him to this festival so I could have the time to myself--to get away from singing, lessons, shuttling children, and puppy potty training. It's hard for me to leave the kids with someone, and not because I don't think my friends are capable. It's because I feel bad asking someone to take over my responsibilities for a couple days. The list I left of stuff that must be done and places the girls need to be was a little too long for comfort. And I felt guilty last night enjoying a meal with my husband in a nice restaurant, knowing someone else was dealing with the dreaded bed time.

But, I'm here now, and I suppose I'd better use the time to do more than lie in bed playing on the iPad. I'm off to the gym first, and then some shopping. Maybe I'll even get a pedicure or something.

And hopefully, I'll come back home tomorrow night ready to face the craziness again.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The Obligatory Easter Dress Post

It's always like a small sigh of relief for me when I can manage to match the girls for one more year.  This year, Sophia saw the dresses when we were in Penney's looking for something else, and she had to have it.  The smallest size is still a bit big for her, but it works well enough, and she is SO PROUD that she chose the Easter dresses for the year.
Easter 2012
I did a small photoshoot on Saturday, but I must admit that I was not in a very good mood, and I was rather short on patience.  And then Sophia had to go potty and the puppy couldn't handle all the people walking by enjoying the beautiful weather (then it snowed today--harumph) and I couldn't handle my children arguing with each other every two seconds, so these are the pictures I got. 
Easter 2012
Oh, and yes, Puccini is wearing a bow, in case you were wondering.  She didn't like it much, but the girls wanted her to be all Eastered up, too.
Easter 2012
And, I really have nothing more to say about these pictures.  I don't seem to have much to say lately in general. Oh, but Sophia insisted on wearing her favorite red shoes (who can blame her?), even though I wasn't so happy with the way they look with these particular dresses. Sigh.
Easter 2012
But I hope you had a very nice Easter!  We certainly did.
Easter 2012

Monday, April 02, 2012

Puppy Surprise

Perhaps you remember how when we lost our backyard chipmunk this past summer, that Joel promised we could get a dog.  But then he kept sort of back-pedaling and saying we'd have to wait all the way until spring or summer, because it's too hard to deal with a puppy in the middle of winter (he was right).  But really, he just wasn't too keen on the whole puppy idea anyway.

So, as soon as he said that, I began to research puppies, breeders, rescues, etc.  I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, and there just aren't a lot of puppy-obtaining options here, even though it seems that 99% of the population owns a dog.  I finally settled on getting some sort of small poodle mix.  I grew up with poodles, and they're great dogs, but I was really liking the mixes.  Our neighbor across the street, Tim, had a schnoodle (schnauzer/poodle mix) and she was a great dog.  I found a breeder near Green Bay (about 4 hours away) that bred both schnoodles and shi-poos, which was my second choice dog.

In December, Tim's dog was hit by a car.  He took it really hard (of course!), and I eventually ended up giving him the name of the breeder I'd found in Wisconsin, because he had decided he'd like to get another schnoodle because his dog had been such a wonderful pet.  At the end of February, he told me that he'd driven down the day before to have a look at the latest litter and had chosen a puppy.  He planned on getting her over Stake Conference weekend, and there was one puppy left.

I immediately felt like this was our puppy.  So I called as soon as I got home and placed a deposit on her.  We decided not to tell the girls--not only would it be a wonderful surprise, it would save a lot of "when are we getting the puppy?" questions, too.

Stake Conference fell on Chloe's birthday, so it would add an extra special layer to the surprise.

After the Sunday meeting (in which I conducted the stake choir--something I haven't done in AGES since I'm married to a real conductor), we told the girls we were going to follow Tim down to a farm so he could pick up his new puppy.  They thought that would be really fun, which is what we were counting on.

When we got to the farm, Joel said he'd go help Tim with "stuff," and the rest of us got out of the car.  The girls were immediately enamored of the chickens and roosters, the cows, and the kitty.  After a few minutes, Tim and Joel came out with Tim's new puppy.  The girls oohed and aahed over her, took turns holding her, and had a wonderful time doting on her.  Then Joel said, "Oh girls, there's another puppy in there that I think they'll let us see, too."  He went back in and brought our Puccini out, wearing the collar and the ID tag we had brought with us.

Chloe was the first to kneel down and pet her.  Joel told her to look at the tag and see what her name was.  She happened to see the side with the address and phone number on it first, though, but she quickly realized that this was our puppy.  Once the other two heard that, they came rushing over and it was just really fun to see their reaction.

I'd show you the video, but we lost it in a technological accident.  I watched it about 5 times, though, so I sort of have it memorized, even though I'm really sad to not have it anymore.  Stupid technology.

I did take pictures, though!
IMG_3366 PIcking up PUccini web
Here's Chloe just minutes after finding out that this puppy was coming home with us.  It was a very happy birthday for her, and she considers it her best present, even though it was for the whole family.
IMG_3367 picking up PUccin web
Sophia is holding Tim's puppy here, while Chloe cuddles with Puccini.
IMG_3373 picking up Puccini web
Sophia takes a turn holding our newest family member. It took her a little longer to understand that this puppy was definitely coming home with us, and once she got it, she was totally thrilled. 
IMG_3371 picking up Puccin web
This just might be my favorite picture from the whole entire day.  Bria has NEEDED to have a dog for her whole life.  My parents' dog has sufficed, but we have lived so far away from her for most of Bria's life, that it wasn't exactly enough.

In fact, when Bria wrote her biography for a school project a few months ago, the last line said "Bria wishes she had a dog with all of her whole heart."  I'm so happy she finally has one.  And I think you can tell from this picture that she's pretty thrilled, herself.

The ride home was long, but Puccini did great and has assimilated herself into our family quite well.  She loves Joel best, and Joel is in love with her, too.  Of course, I knew it would happen that way, and I'm glad it did.  She's a puppy, and she's lots of hard work, but it has all been nothing but wonderful for us.

Even if she did poop in the house three times today.