Thursday, September 12, 2013

Naps are wasted on the young...

My baby boy, Ian, is nearly 3. How this happens, I don't understand.

But it's hard to be a nearly three year old, you know?

He's in that awkward stage where he still needs a nap, but when he naps he stays up until the middle of the night. So sometimes, we try to do without a nap, but the whining, crying and the slobbery pile of toddler tantrum that inevitably results around 4pm when he doesn't nap makes all of us want to scratch our eyes out with plastic forks.

But sometimes, you just need a nap.
Sometimes you curl up on the couch with sister's blanket.

Sometimes (most of the time,) you fall asleep in the carseat.
Sometimes, church is too hard, so you fall asleep in the foyer.
And sometimes, it's even harder, so you fall dead asleep on your sisters' laps.
And sometimes, church is the hardest, and you fall asleep with your dad and a dish towel (who knows?) in the rocking chair.
  Sometimes, on a random Wednesday afternoon, you decide for reasons unknown, to fall asleep on the step of the garage, which makes your mom panic when she can't find you. Then, just as she's about to call the cops and your dad to report a missing kid, she nearly trips over you heading out to the garage.
 Sometimes, your macaroni and cheese doesn't cook fast enough, and you fall asleep mid-tantrum on the kitchen floor.
 Sometimes your naps make your parents so jealous they could spit.
 Sometimes, not even a stroller ride and a sucker will prevent an emergency nap.
And sometimes, you just need your brother to insure a good nap.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Juggling Act

I wrote this a few months ago, and never pushed "publish."  I revisited it today for some reason, probably because motherhood is kicking my trash this week and I needed the inspiration. 

I groan and roll over to silence the bleating alarm.  It’s 5:30 am. Between my anxiety-riddled dreams, soothing the two year old who was inexplicably awake three times during the night, and getting kicked repeatedly in the ribs by the four-year old who firmly believes Mommy and Daddy’s bed is his bed, I had closed my eyes for good about 4am.

Bleary eyed, I step in the shower, silently chanting my morning mantra: “Being tired never killed anyone. I will feel like a person if I can just make it to 10:00am. I will not die simply because it’s early morning.”
By 6:15 am, my household is reluctantly stirring, my makeup is hastily applied, and my first violin student of the day is beginning an E-flat major scale in the violin studio. I hit my knees in the dark living room, the shrieks of my boys’ first morning brawl echoing down the stairs.

“Dear Father,” I plead, “I’m not sure I have the energy to do this today. Please help me to be patient and kind to my children, even when I don’t want to be. Bless me with the energy and the stamina I need to get through this day.”


My second student of the day has just started tuning her violin when the studio door opens. My daughter, doubling as my babysitter this morning, is holding my four year old son by the hand.  “Mommy, my ear hurts,” he whimpers.

I excuse myself from the lesson, taking a brief look in my son’s ear to confirm yet another raging ear infection. I convince my poor, feverish son to take a syringe full of ibuprofen and hurry to place a call to the pediatrician. My sweet boy has never met an ear infection he didn’t have to have, and no run-of-the-mill course of antibiotics ever comes close to clearing the massive infections. The nurse gives me the last appointment of the day so I can still drive my daughter to her own violin lesson fifty miles away, then teach two more lessons in my studio, all before I have to leave for the appointment.

I choke back the bitter taste of guilt as I tuck a blanket around my little boy, turn on Phinneas and Ferb to help babysit, and head back to the violin studio, wondering how many more ear infections my son will get before the doctors start talking about a third set of ear tubes. While my student is perfecting her etude, my stomach is churning, knowing there’s no way we’ll be able to afford yet another surgery, especially now that we have no health insurance.


The guilt, the stretching and pulling in seventeen different directions, they are my constant companions. I could be a better mother if I didn’t have 22 violin students. I could be a better teacher if my students were the only thing I had to focus on. Days like this are a long walk across a tightrope strung over a pit of snarling lions: one slip-up, one late baby sitter, one dead van battery and it’s going to get ugly really fast.


There are other times too. The times when the teenager, who has struggled with crippling stage fright for years, has a brilliant recital performance and her smile lights up every corner of the recital hall.  The times where a young violinist and her mother beam with unexpected pride when they realize they’ve achieved something remarkably difficult. The moments when I giggle, witnessing my two sons wrestling like puppies on the living rooms floor. The day when my violinist daughter plays her Bach Partita so brilliantly and musically that it takes my breath away, leaving me in awe with tears in my eyes, despite the lunch debris spread all over the counter and the little brothers squabbling at a deafening volume.  Those are the times that remind me. This. This is what I’m supposed to do. This is where I belong. This is who I am.

So I’ll continue walking the tightrope, hitting my knees in the dark of the morning hours to plead for help, and ignoring the ever-present baskets of clean and dirty laundry.  I’ll mother, nurture, teach, guide, make music, chauffer kids to doctor appointments, rehearsals, and question my sanity daily.  I’ll giggle until my cheeks hurt with my kids around the dinner table, and I’ll stay up too late enjoying the only quiet moments in the day. And I’ll cry, and sing, teach, bandage scrapes, pray, and then hope against hope that it’s enough. For my students, for my children. For me. For God.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Is this thing on?

So this crazy insane life of mine doesn't leave much time for sitting at a computer. And while I honestly aim to blog more often than every four months, (oh my holy heavens!) sometimes you just gotta do a great big dump of photos, not even in any particular order and call yourself caught up.

So this summer that's nearly over? It has been, and forever will be forever after referred to as the summer of Swiss Miss.
These girls have performed everywhere. It turns out that preparing a singing and dancing program with 5 10-12 year olds takes a ton of time, energy, and general schlepping everywhere.
 We learned more about setting up, dismantling, and driving a float in parades than we ever thought there was to know. (Six parades down, one more to go!)
Their biggest event is yet to come when Swiss Days arrives in a few weeks.
It's a little bit like I have 4 extra daughters for the summer.
I never knew it would be so much work. Honestly. But I look at this and realize it's worth it. Every bit.

 Ashlynn even landed herself on the front page of the Sunday Newspaper after the Days of '47 Childrens' Parade.
We've had other adventures too. In May, Abby and I went on tour with Rocky Mountain Strings. It was three days of buses, performances, and amazing fun.
Ian wants to take after his sister.
And he got a haircut, which I fully admit to regretting immediately.
 Max's blonde locks, however, are as long and curly as ever.
June marked our yearly trip to violin institute.
Where Abby played violin approximately ten hours a day,
  And I had a solo on the tublular bells. (Don't ask. My life is weird.)
Ashlynn's 10th birthday was at the end of June. (How she is 10, I don't know. Someone will need to explain this to me at some point.) We had a giant party with 20 of her closest friends and a lot of water.
She asked for and received a bow and arrow set.
Which, as it turns out, she's really good at.
In July, we returned to Torrey for our annual Fourth of July Celebration. This time it included time with cousins, which was extra fun.
Abby gained quite a following when she played her violin on Main Street before the parade.
She earned enough money playing the violin this summer to buy herself her very own iPod. She's very proud.

We've played in the water, and I decided that little boys with swim trunks that don't stay up are my favorite.
And sometimes, we just stayed at home and ate popscicles, because what else do you do in the summertime?

  Oh. And this happened. Which shocked the pants off of me and my husband. Just as I had made up my mind that another baby wasn't going to completely ruin our lives, I miscarried. And miscarriages suck. I'll write more about this another time. 

So there you have it. The summer of Swiss Miss and all. It's hard to believe that summer is basically over and it's back to the school routine next week. We're holding on to our hats and getting ready for another year of homeschooling. And maybe a few deep breaths.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Going Full Hippie

These are chickens.

Six Rhode Island Reds to be exact. They have taken up residence in a corner of my living room and are happily peeping away. 

I completely blame Morgan.

My kids are over the moon excited. (I'm pretty excited too...) We're looking at plans to build a chicken coop, and hopefully, within a few months, we'll be able to send the girls out first thing in the morning to collect the eggs. 

We're also planting phase one of our garden on Monday.

So, go for it. Best "hippie" joke wins. As far as I'm concerned, all I'm missing are some dreads, birkenstocks, and maybe a goat. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Different Kind of Stage Mom

There's a certain amount of stage-mom-ness that comes naturally to me given my two girls and their musical pursuits. But when Ashlynn asked, begged, pleaded, and basically threw herself at my feet promising she'd do whatever I asked her happily for the rest of forever if I'd just let her enter a pageant, I nearly choked.

A pageant? Really? Like dressed up, parade around stage, fancy dresses, judged on your appearances? So not my scene. I might even be morally opposed to beauty pageants on a fundamental level, and maybe a bit afraid that my inborn stage-mom tendencies would turn me into one of those crazy reality-show pageant moms. 
So I talked to a few moms in my community, and they assured me it wasn't a beauty pageant, that it was judged more on talent and poise and interviewing skills. They told me it would be a chance for her to serve our community. Then Ashlynn begged more. For months on end. And my husband pointed out how we encourage Abby to be on stage all the time and it would be good for Ashlynn to do something just for her. And then I thought about how fun it would be for her to be in parades, be on stage, make friends, represent our small-town community, etc... So we took a deep breath and jumped in with both feet.

The last few weeks have been filled with practices, talent routines, discussions about modeling and on-stage interviews, and a giddy 9-year old bouncing off the walls with excitement about the pageant. I kept wondering what in the world I'd gotten myself into.

But Ashlynn loved every minute of it. She absolutely lit up and shined on stage. The first time I saw her do her cute Harry Potter monologue that introduced her piano piece, tears sprung to my eyes as I thought, "Wow. That's my kid. And she's pretty stinking amazing!"

The pageant was on Saturday, and the days leading up to in and the day of were absolutely insane. Saturday morning at 6:40am found me hauling down the mountain in the blizzard to judge violin federation. (Stupid snow, grumble grumble....) I got back just in time to re-curl Ashlynn's hair, put makeup on her and run back over to the pageant.

After all the talent-ing, the makeup, the glitter, (I got in extra trouble for putting glitter in her hair because all the girls are supposed to look the same in the opening number, don't you know,) she was sitting in the chair next to me, bouncing off the walls, waiting for her name to be called as part of the royalty.

And call her name they did.

What I've learned in the past few days is that this isn't just your average beauty pageant. These five girls will be representing our small mountain community for the next year with tv appearances, community service projects at least monthly, performances, and a huge commitment for the community celebrations that happen around here every Labor Day and Christmas. I don't think I realized quite the crazy we signed up for until I was talking to one of the moms of the outgoing royalty, and she showed me the bag she carries everywhere complete with butt-glue (did you know there was such a thing?!), false eyelashes,  multiple costumes and at least two curling irons. 
So deep breaths. She is going to love every bit of it. I'm going to hold on for the ride, and pray for on-time carpools, good hair stylists, and moms that know more about the mysteries of butt glue than I do!

Monday, March 18, 2013

In Which I Reveal the Extent of my Craziness...

I have four children. This is a lot, did you know?

Let's be honest here. There are many times that the volume level in my house rivals a jet engine at takeoff. Often, my day consists of triage-ing the needs of my four children and deciding which screaming child, which bickering pair of kids, which gigantic mess needs my attention first. There are very few things that I avoid so strenuously as I do as a trip to the grocery store (or heaven forbid, Wal-Mart!) with my herd of children. At least once a day week I hide myself behind a locked bathroom door just to get a minute to compose my thoughts.

After finally getting pregnant with Max, I swore up and down that we were done, all the time knowing that we were supposed to have at least one more. Then Ian snuck in, completely unexpectedly, and when he was born, we finally felt whole, complete.

For a little while.

There's a long story behind the removal of my birth-control-of-choice, but all you really need to know (trust me) is that in the months since my fail-safe, don't-even-have-to-think-about-it birth control method has been gone, I've been filled with the unmistakable knowledge that our family isn't complete. I've tried to deny it. I've looked around at our chaos and wondered what I could possibly be thinking. I finally got up the courage to mention it to my husband, expecting that he would tell me that I was crazy insane.

Except then he didn't.

(This is hard for me to even write about, because I fully expect that virtually everyone who reads this will think me totally insane. I think I'm totally insane, if that makes you feel any better. One of the reasons I've been so absent from this blog for so long is because I haven't had the courage to sit down and write about it for fear of ridicule and people telling me that I've completely gone off the deep end. Trust me, it's not anything I don't know.)

We know there's a girl that needs to join our family, and we feel her absence from our family keenly. There have been many times in the past few months that I've been making dinner while Abby practices upstairs, Ashlynn practices downstairs and the two little boys are playing literally at my feet, and I look around, panicking because I don't know where the baby is. It always takes me a minute to realize that there's no baby. When we're out and about and I do the kid head count, I frequently have to remind myself that I have only four kids, not five, and don't need to go running around like a crazy lady because I've lost a kid that doesn't exist. (Further proof that I've lost it: when I typed that last sentence, I typed "only five kids." See, told ya.) My husband has had similar experiences.

But it gets better. Tom and I equally as convinced that this baby is not coming from us. This has been hard for me. While I don't love being pregnant, I love little babies, and would gladly cuddle a newborn daily for the rest of forever.  But we've known since shortly after we were married that someday we would do foster care and/or adopt a child, and we can't deny any more that this is the right time to pursue it.

There are many reasons why  we shouldn't do this, chief among them being that I already have an entire herd of children, two of which I'm homeschooling, and a whopping 22 violin students. I've been immersing myself in foster care and adoption blogs, and I've learned that above all, foster care can be incredibly unpredictable, which scares the daylights out of my control freak self.  I'm worried about how it may change the dynamics of my family, and how it may affect my girls if we have a disrupted placement. I'm worried about the chaos that may result from suddenly adding a new member to the family, and how we'll manage everything that comes with a foster placement.

But for as many reasons as there are not to do it, there are reasons why we should. While I joke about how crazy our house is, there is a lot of fun here. Good food, lots of music, many laughs, much love. I am not afraid of special medical needs, and I know that we have many blessings to share.

We're meeting with someone from Utah Foster Care Thursday night. We have a million questions. We're nervous, we're probably a little naive, we're more than a little green behind the ears. Yes, we may be a little crazy. But above all, we're excited to follow this path and see where we end up.

Any tips? Anyone have experiences doing foster care? We'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Shameless Mom Brag

The violin journey with Abby hasn't always been easy. She has a strong personality, (really, no idea where she got that from...) and we've had our moments of butting heads.

But, a few months ago she decided she wanted to start entering competitions. We started the third movement to the Kabalevsky Violin Concerto in October, and she nailed her audition this past Saturday. The competition was tough, and the winner gets to solo with a symphony in May. We don't know the results yet, and probably won't for a few a few more days, but regardless, we're very proud.

As a side note, I didn't start playing the violin until I was twelve. She's eleven, and already playing violin literature that high school students use to audition for college scholarships. I am truly amazed at what she's been able to learn and accomplish.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Catching up in pictures


My goodness, it's been a while.

Do you remember me? (Do I remember me?)

So, it was Christmas. We like Christmas.

Now it's winter, and there is much snow and cold. A week or so ago, it was -18 degree when I woke up. Yes siree, it makes getting up to teach 6:30 am violin lessons extra inviting.

 So what do you do when there's 2 feet of snow and ice all over the place and your 4 year old is bouncing off the walls? Bring his bike inside. Then curse yourself repeatedly for thinking that a bike in the kitchen was a good idea.

Then, in the approximately 2.5 minutes when there isn't snow on the roads, you take your kids out for a walk. Greet the animals and splash in the puddles, quick, because you won't see the sidewalk again for months!

So what else have we been doing?
 Sleeping through Sunday School,
 Preparing for our new lives as famous recording artists, 
 Ruining Mom's high scores on iPhone games,
 Beating each other up with swords,
Learning to ice skate,
 Baking pies, (mmmm, pies!)
 Making gigantic messes,
 Getting by with a little help from our trusty friends, 
 Making more giant messes, this time of the artistic variety,
And looking ridiculously cute in our pjs and matching curls.

Don't forget the fact that winter and spring mean lots of practicing, performing, and Abby's first big violin competition. (Gulp!)
 So Ashlynn is practicing for the piano festival,
 I'm working on perfect bow hands with my students,

 Abby's performing everywhere,
And even Max feels the need to practice. (Will someone get that boy a cello already?)

Other important happenings: 
 The boys are developing their talent in photography. 
 They're both going through a rather experimental self-portrait phase.

Max has another impossible to cure ear infection. I didn't think you wanted to see pictures of that. (You're welcome.) We're heading into February, the dreaded month of illness, and I'm crossing my fingers that this is as bad as it gets.

I even took all the kiddos to get new pictures taken, and we all still liked each other when it was over. Check out the sidebar. Pretty impressive, right?

So there you have it. 2 months, two dozen pictures, and you're up to speed.

We're busy. We're happy, we're grateful.
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