Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bona Fide

I finally have a Michigan Driver's License.

Or, at least, I will once they mail it to me. Right now I have my Arizona license with the corner cut off stapled to the piece of cardstock that is my temporary Michigan license.

You read that right.  My Arizona license.

I still had my Arizona license because I am a horrible human being who liked the picture on it and did not want to take the time and effort to go down to the DMV for a Utah license only to be told I didn't have my marriage certificate or some other such documentation.  Haven't any of you ever read DeNae's experience on this?  The DMV is a scary, scary place!

Besides, my Arizona license didn't expire until the year 2039.

That's right.  No standing in DMV lines until I was 65 years old.  No taking a newer, but just as horrible picture until I was 65 years old.  Which means as far as my identification was concerned, I really would be perpetually 29, which is reason enough never to get rid of the thing.

But alas, all good things must come to an end and all good citizens must register to vote.

In Utah they let me do it without a Utah license.  But here that is out of the question, and besides, Joel wanted a fishing license.  (Oh, yes, he is my compatriot in driver's license evasion.)

So today we went.  And it wasn't really that bad.  We stood in a relatively short line and had relatively few problems with documentation.  The lady did ask me if I was married and when I answered "yes," she stopped everything and said she couldn't proceed without a marriage certificate.   I told her that she could indeed proceed because I was not using my birth certificate for identification, but my passport.  And my passport has my married name on it. Because I already sent the government my marriage certificate.

Thankfully she bought that.  But only after she checked with her boss.

Then she marked my gender as Male.  I know I wasn't wearing much lipstick, but really?  It took a second, but we got that all figured out, too.

And now I am a bona-fide Michigander.

Kind of weird.

But I like it.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Dance With Them

This summer, part of my mindset about motherhood has fundamentally changed.  I couldn't tell you really why, or how it happened.  It just did.  It was kind of like something in me just snapped and I realized that these children that have been placed in my care will not be here with me long and I need to make the most of it.

It's not that I didn't know that before, of course. It's just that I really didn't pay attention to that fact.  Motherhood hasn't come so naturally for me in the nearly 10 years I've been one. It's so easy to get caught up in day-to-day life and hardships like school and money and work and keeping the house clean that I tend to forget the things that matter most.  Or maybe just put them at a lower priority than they should be, since maybe "forget" is probably too strong a word.

Suddenly, I find myself wanting to make memories with my children and to teach them everything I know and to be with them and love them with an urgency that I haven't quite experienced before.  And I kind of like it.  I like the way it brings me back to basics.  It crowds out all the stuff and helps me keep my precious daughters front and center.  Right where they need to be.

But I am really not very good at it, no matter how much my mindset has changed.

Dance With Them: 30 Stumbling Mothers Share Glimpses of Grace edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper, was sent to me for review a couple months ago.  I took my time with this book, as it is a collection of essays and I really enjoyed savoring it.

The mothers who authored the essays and poetry within its pages are mothers just like me: Mothers who struggle with knowing just how to be a mother at all, but who understand how important it is and do their very best.  Some of them have crosses to bear that are beyond anything I have ever had to do.  Others have more run-of-the-mill experiences, more like mine.  All of them taught me something about what motherhood is all about.

One of my favorite poems in the book is entitled "Holy Ground" by Darlene Young.  In it she talks about the ratty couch on which she reads to her children and the lessons they learn together as they read.

The line, "I'm planting seeds here on this couch" struck me quite forcefully as I read it.  Who cares if the couch isn't the newest or the best or the cutest? (Things that I often worry about, I admit.) What really matters are the children on it, the books read, the lessons learned and the seeds planted.

To me, that basic lesson was the gist of this entire book.  We do our best with what we have, because our children are a gift and a blessing that we must take seriously.

And yet, what might work today or with one child, may not work again tomorrow or with another child.  The essay by Sharlee Mullins Glenn which gave the book its title, explains it like this:

A dance isn’t about power or control. A dance is about trust, connection, cooperation, flexibility, and fun. A dance is about two people moving together, however awkwardly, trying to make things work, trying to create something beautiful, something symbiotic. For beginners, the movement is often clunky and halting. Toes get stepped on, people stumble and slip, sometimes they even fall. But then, hopefully, they laugh (or cry), help each other up, and start again.

And that's exactly what this all is.  This dance of motherhood.  Learning how to dance with each child, learning how to make it work, getting up after each fall and trying again.  Doing our best--stumbling as we are--and looking to God for the help He is there to give.

Loved this book.  Read it, savor it, and learn to dance.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

This is What Four Looks Like

At least, on Sophia, this is what four looks like.

What Four Looks Like

The painted nails, the messy face, the sunglasses, the hair, the sass--all classic Sophia.

And she's turning four today (July 25).  Which kills me.

This little girl has brought such a different dynamic into our home.  She loves life, came with her personality intact and knows just what she wants at all times.  While this can be quite trying for us as her parents, it also brings us a lot of joy and delight.  And I think it helps us learn to enjoy life a little more boisterously and Sophia-like.

I want to get a new pair of sunglasses and suddenly feel the need to strike a pose as soon as I put them on.

Like this

Too Cool for School

or this

To Her Adoring Fans

or this

Stayin' Alive

I want to go to the beach (or just about anywhere else) and run to my heart's delight.

Like this

Perpetual Motion

I want to be completely unfazed by a messy face or crazy hair and just enjoy life wherever I am.

Like this


I want to stop and smell the roses more often. (Or, stop and take in the waterfalls.)

Like this

At the Waterfall

I want to enjoy the sun on my face more often.

Like this

Just Call Her Hannah Montana

I want to insist upon wearing dresses and jewelry at all times, but still dig in the dirt whenever I want.

Like this

Fancy Digging in the Dirt?

And I want to find delight in every single thing I come across--from bugs to songs to grass to food to Fourth of July sparklers.

Like this


Happy 4th Birthday, little Sophia!  I'm so happy you joined our family!


I love you forever and always.


Friday, July 23, 2010

And I Said, "Hey! What's Goin' On?"

I feel like I haven't blogged in 318 years or so.  Possibly because I haven't.

The opera (La Traviata) came and went, and was a great experience for both Joel and me.  It's been a long time since I have been able to sing in an actual production, and I was so happy.  The Resident Opera Artists that they brought in were amazing, and it was an absolute honor to share the stage with them.  Joel ran the super titles and managed the pit orchestra, and made a new friend in the conductor they brought in.  We both learned a lot and grew as musicians and look forward to participating in the festival next year.

Here's a picture that was taken for publicity...I happened to be lucky enough to be one of the chorus members in it.  (And yes, I hated wearing that dress, in case you're wondering.) If you're familiar with the opera, this is the second act finale: Quanto Peni! Fa Cor! You'll also notice that a couple of the leads could have easily been linebackers instead of opera singers.  I'm just glad they chose to sing.

Since the opera showed in three different locations, Joel and I got a couple little mini-getaways, which was really nice.  I'm so thankful that we have wonderful friends here who were willing to help out with our kids while we were "on tour."  And for my mom who came into town after the first performance and happily watched the girls while we left town again for the second one.

My mom left a couple days ago, and as usual, there was weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth amongst the members of our household.  To have to go another three months or so without seeing her is excruciatingly painful.  We sure love her!  And all of our family we never get to see.

Speaking of mothers, I have been dealing with the mother of all sore throats lately.  It hasn't affected my ability to sing, which is strange because almost every sore throat I ever get translates into laryngitis and leaves me unable to speak or sing for a couple weeks.  But boy is this sore throat ever painful!  I went to the doctor yesterday, thinking I must have strep, but the strep test came back negative.  The doctor seemed pretty convinced that I probably have mono.  Which is just unacceptable.

Just in case the strep test was wrong (I'm hoping for that scenario), she sent it to be cultured and put me on antibiotics.  She also put me on a steroid to treat for mono, again, just in case.  She won't test me for the virus until the antibiotics are done and only if I haven't responded to them.


So I've pretty much felt like garbage the past few days.  I slept for 12 hours last night, and felt mucho better this morning.  But after a 2 hour rehearsal for an upcoming benefit, the mucho better has gone to mucho worse.

Here's hoping it's strep and the antibiotics will triumph.  Especially since the aforementioned benefit is Tuesday night.  (For all you locals, here's a news release...come!)  Even if it isn't strep, I'm counting my blessings, because at least I can still sing.

And that's all that really matters.

That, and sleep.

Good night.

Monday, July 19, 2010

How I Know I Married a Musician: Part 4

While Joel and I were out of town for a performance, we were parked in a restaurant parking lot, sitting in the back seat of the minivan catching up on emails by using the internet connection of the aforementioned restaurant.  Joel asked me to get the keys, which he had left in the ignition.  When I asked where they were, he said:

They're in the key signature.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's an Inside Joke

This picture is for my brothers.

Chloe got the shirt from a friend for her birthday.  We think it's adorable, and she wears it a lot, but the family joke makes it very funny.

So, Jon, Nate, Dave, Mom, Dad.....have a good laugh.

The rest of you can appreciate Chloe's cuteness.

Birthday Gift

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Copper Harbor

This last weekend we went up to Copper Harbor to see Joel's band play.  Copper Harbor is at the tippiest-toppiest point of the Keweenaw peninsula, right in the middle of Lake Superior.  About an hour's drive from us, and a gorgeous spot.

The band was playing in a park next to the Copper Harbor School, which is Michigan's only surviving (still functioning, that is) one-room school house.  At least, that's what my friend tells me.  I haven't double checked the information.

One Room School House

It had a fun playground, which is where the girls spent most of their time, along with one of Bria's good friends whose dad also plays in the band.

On the Playground
Chloe in the Sky with Diamonds

The playground even had a merry-go-round, which my kids have never seen before in their lives.  So crazy!  Bria hated it, but Chloe and Sophia had a lot of fun with it.

Merry Go Round

Especially Sophia.  At one point, she was doing interpretive dance on it while it was slowly spinning.  I wish I could have gotten better pictures because it was hilarious.  Right in rhythm with whatever the band was playing.  Totally in her own little ballerina world.

Interpretive Dancing

As you can see, it was a beautiful, sunny day.  And it was hot.  Chloe doesn't do so well in the heat, her little cheeks immediately turn bright red (and I even kind of minimized the red in the picture) especially if she's running around having lots of fun playing.


Despite all of the fun, there was bound to be a tantrum or two.  Especially when mom says you can't have any more cookies.  Darn it.

No More Cookies

Luckily the band was finished right about then and we had other commitments to rush home to.

Like watching Star Wars.

(That's the girls new favorite movie.  We're even thinking of doing a Star Wars theme for Halloween this year. If they don't kill each other over who gets to be Princess Leia, that is.)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Thinker

You may have noticed I've been posting an awful lot of pictures lately.  It's because I have no time to think, and it's a good way to get a bunch of the photos I've been meaning to post onto the blog.  This week I'm actually going to be in three different towns for opera performances, my mom is coming to visit, and I will not be on the computer at all.

Thank heavens for scheduled posting, because that means.....more pictures for you!!!

I know, you are SO excited that you can't even contain yourselves. Don't worry, I would be pretty dang excited, too.

A couple weeks ago, we couldn't find Sophia one morning.  Joel finally spotted her, still in her pajamas and crazy morning hair, sitting on the railing of the front porch quietly staring at the sky.  She did not see us, and so we sat and watched her for a while, wondering what could be going on in that adorable little plaid-hatted head of hers.

And then I got my camera.

Deep Thinker
On the Roof
Her Freaking Cuteness

After she realized I was there, I asked her what she was doing out there.

"I just thinking, Mom."

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Captain Woody Boogie and the Pirates of Groove

That's the name of The Maestro's rock band.

Personally, I think it's hilarious.  And I'm not entirely sure who exactly is Captain Woody Boogie and who are The Pirates of Groove.  But whoever they are, they are pretty good.

We've been going to a lot of their gigs this summer.  They mostly do covers of 70's and 80's music, like Mr. Big Stuff, Take On Me, I Will Survive, 25 or 6 to 4, You Sexy Thing, Sweet Caroline and so on and so forth.  Very fun band.  People like them a lot, so they've been very popular.  (And hey!  It supplements our income just a bit, so I'm not complaining.)

I've only had my camera with me at two of the gigs.

These first pictures are from The Art and Music Festival held downtown in June.

The Pirates of Groove

This was the first time the girls had ever seen the band.  And it was really, really loud. It's possible they were temporarily stunned.


This picture makes me particularly happy to see Sophia's crazy, dancing hair at the forefront.

Captain Woody Boogie and the Pirates of Groove

And this is Sophia and her best friend jumping up and down and clapping their hands.  I think the music just inspired it.

Preschool Mosh Pit

These final two are from today up in Copper Harbor.

Captain Woody Boogie

I never thought Joel would ever do something like this, since he is such an orchestra/classical music kind of guy.  But he has really had fun with it.

And so have we!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Piano Recital

I only took a couple pictures of Chloe playing in her recital last month. This one was underexposed, and when I tried to fix it, I kind of liked the result.

Actually, I like it so much I'll probably frame it.

So there.

Fur Elise

Happy Friday!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Your Dose of Cuteness for Today

Sophia came into my room yesterday while I was taking a much needed nap to sing me a song she wrote for me. So I recorded it, of course.

My very favorite part is the "in the sweet in the heart."


Sophia Sings from Lara Neves on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

And the Livin' is Easy

Wintertime may be something of a drag around here, but summertime is pretty wonderful.

It's been really hot (92 degrees-ish) again, and so we headed to the beach yesterday to escape our non-air-conditioned fate.

Joel mentioned how cool it is to have so many beaches so close, and that we've never had that before.  I said, well, there was always Utah Lake.  And then he clarified that we have never had a non-toxic beach so close before.  And to that, I say, Touche. (Complete with a little accent thingy that I am too lazy to figure out how to do.)

And because I remembered to bring my camera, and really have no time to write a decent entry (editing photos is so much faster), here are some pictures.  And perhaps a little commentary.  But really, the photos speak for themselves.

No Frisbees allowed

(No worries--we only brought tennis balls.)

Sand Castle Beginnings

Sand Crabs



I am in love with this picture of the three of them on the beach.  The only flaw is that somebody else's kids are in it, too.  I waited and waited, but they never left and then the moment was gone.  So this one will have to do.  I am still in love with it, though.

My girls in the sun

Proof that I was at the beach, too.  My far-from-beautiful feet.  Joel was also there.  But the only picture I really took of him was ruined by a group of scantily clad sunbathers.  Didn't really think it would be appropriate to post here.

I was there too

Happy July 4th!!!