Sleeping in

It's 10:00 on a Saturday morning. Taylor is sleeping and I'm still in bed too. I know he got up earlier with the kids. I can hear them downstairs playing the wii and I don't plan on getting up yet. I have no clue how long they've been up. Is it bad that I don't care? Last night I fainted while I was saying my prayers. It was really weird. That was a first. And I felt like I was going to throw up. I slept well. And long. But part of me is a little worried to get up. But maybe I just need to eat.  

Rain Versus Running

I checked the hourly forecast at midnight last night, just before I went to sleep. There was an 80% chance of rain at 6 a.m. When my alarm sounded  at 5:30, I didn’t hear rain. I peeked out the window and checked the hourly forecast again, hoping I could stay in bed. It didn’t look like it would rain much in the next hour or so, so I dragged myself out of bed and changed into my running clothes. I was lacing up my shoes at 5:55 and I could see that the rain had started. As I sat there trying to decide if I should go, I got a text from one of my running buddies that she wasn’t going. I took my shoes off, changed back into my pajamas, and crawled back into bed. Fifteen minutes passed and I was still awake. I thought about how I hadn’t heard from our other running buddy. Maybe she was out on the hill alone. It wasn’t raining anymore and I realized that I wouldn’t be sleeping anymore, so I got up and changed again, this time with determination to go. Again, as I was tying my shoes, running buddy #2 sent a text saying that she had been there waiting in her car and went home when she decided nobody was going to show up. I walked my tired body outside and immediately felt rejuvenated by the fresh air. I was excited to be outside on the wet ground. As I headed up the steep hill behind my house, it began to sprinkle. I stood under a tree for a minute, trying to decide if I should head back home, but I was already there, I was already a bit wet, and I didn’t think it would get much worse. So I started running. The hill that we run is pretty long, so we only run up the very top portion. Then we walk down and run up again, six times. I made it up the first time, so happy that I was there. There was a rainbow and the clouds were gorgeous.

A couple more times up and down the hill and I was feeling great. But soon I saw a dark grey cloud above me. It continued to sprinkle, but by the 4th time up the hill, it was really raining. When it was time to run up the 5th time, I was really wet. I again thought about retreating, but I pushed forward. It couldn’t get much worse, or so I thought. Up again two more times. These times it was pouring and the wind was blowing it all in my face as I was running up the hill. And then hail. I got to the top for the 6th time, completely soaked and cold. I turned around to run back down the hill to my warm home, and the hail was pelting me on the back of my cold neck. But I kept running. It was the fastest way home. I skipped out of our extra loops. I just wanted a warm shower. I was glad to be done.

I’m glad I went. It felt great to get out in the rain. Would I do it again if I knew the outcome? Not likely.

Ph.inisheD

Last week was really busy. I’m just now able to gather my thoughts because everything just flew by. Because we are nearing the end of the semester, Taylor has been especially busy with his dissertation. We were down to the wire and it needed to get finished. He was working on it in every spare minute he had, and sometimes even when he didn’t have a spare minute. In fact, he had many really, really late nights. On top of that, I had rehearsals and concerts every night last week. One night I even got a babysitter, just so he could stay later at work and continue to write. It has been a long road. 

Because of his constant writing, the last month or so the kids and I have stayed out of the house on Saturdays. We have done all sorts of fun things, but we’ve really missed doing them with Taylor. 

Sunday night I went to sleep alone again. I left Taylor to stay up and work. When I woke up the next morning, I had an email with his attached, FINISHED dissertation! I can’t even begin to explain how happy this made me. He still has to defend it (which will hopefully happen sooner rather than later), but the writing is finished! I’m so excited for this summer; our first summer of not staying busy and out of the house for Taylor to work. It’s been more than six years since he took his qualifying exams. We’re definitely ready to celebrate!

 It was Taylor's birthday last week, so I made him this shirt, but he couldn't wear it until Monday because he would have been lying.

It was Taylor's birthday last week, so I made him this shirt, but he couldn't wear it until Monday because he would have been lying.

Yes

When I was a kid, it seemed to me that my dad always said “no” when I asked for things or to do things. It was almost as if he was looking for an excuse to just tell me “no”. Or so I thought. I think I have turned into that mom. At least my kids think I have. Anyway, I figured it was high time for us to have a “yes” day. My kids were all about it. I told them a couple of days ahead of time so that they could make some plans. I was pretty sure I knew exactly how my day would go down and quite honestly, I was pretty close. 

First things first, we laid out some ground rules. I wasn’t willing to spend more than $25 each and we couldn’t drive somewhere further than 30 miles. Both of those rules made Disneyland an impossibility. Also, nothing dangerous or illegal. Anyway, here’s how our day went:

First, London requested cookie dough for breakfast. Ashton wanted puffy pancakes. So cookie dough and puffy pancakes it was.

Then we were off to Sea World, but not before London put a bit of makeup on. Once at Sea World, I was sure we would go to a show and sit in the soak zone. But the kids weren’t interested in shows. They were interested in rides. Ashton went on every ride they would let him on by himself. And Atlantis, the one I always say “no” to, we all rode. They bought souvenirs and played carnival games, both of which are always no-nos. 

Once home from Sea World, both kids wanted to play on the computer. Okay. After a while, London was dying to go to the mall. So we ventured out once again. Both kids, of course, rode the carousel. Twice.

They both had tumbling that evening, so we picked up Taylor from work and headed over there, only to find out that the time in my head was not the same time that the class started. So they made it for the last 10 minutes. Whatever.  After that, we went to Round Table for some pizza. When we were no longer hungry, we packed up blankets and pillows and ventured out one last time to the drive-ins. (Also, when I say one last time, I mean that maybe that will also be our last time at the drive-ins. We don’t really have the right car for it, the screen is hard to see with all of the cars in front of you, it’s late, and it’s COLD! I think I’d rather pay a few extra bucks for comfy seats because although it is a double feature, who really can stay awake for both movies? I didn’t even make it through the first!)

We really had a great day and I learned some valuable lessons. First of all, saying “yes” all day is kind of liberating. It was nice to let my kids call the shots and not be shot down. Ever. And they had to compromise. “Yes” day was for both of them, so if one kid didn’t want to go into the See’s Candy shop (which I think is crazy), we didn’t go into the See’s Candy shop. Lastly, I need to be sure to have a day full of nothing planned after the “yes” day because I will inevitably have cranky kids. Like really cranky. So cranky, in fact, that even two days later, Ashton refused to go to primary and sat out in the hall all through church on Sunday. That kid needs his sleep or he is not a happy camper. I think my kids also learned some valuable lessons, like it’s almost always a waste of money to play carnival games. They also learned that their mom isn’t the meanest, at least not all of the time. 

We will most definitely be doing this again. Taylor suggested that it’s not only the kids who need “yes” days every once in a while. We decided to make this a one-person-at-a-time thing. Every year, our half birthday will be our “yes” day. So mine will be the first, coming up in July. I already have plans of a really clean house when my days is over. And since we’re doing it on half birthdays, the kids don’t have to compromise. They will each get their own “yes” day. And I’ll prepare a little better by binge sleeping a few days before hand. It was a long day, packed with lots of fun things, and I, for one, am exhausted.

Refreshingly Fun

My days of keeping the kids busy while Taylor works on his dissertation have been exhausting. But today was a good one. I take both kids to orchestra on Saturday mornings and then we go do stuff afterward. This has made for a messy house, because no Saturday chores are ever done, but I try not to look at that part. 

Today our dentist was having a community event to promote their office, which is conveniently near where we have orchestra. So we stopped by for free food, fun, and face painting. From there we headed out to Balboa Park to catch the IMAX movie at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. We almost left after driving around and finding that there were no parking places anywhere near the park. Miraculously, right in front of us, two cars pulled out of parallel spots on the street right where we were (and where we wanted to be). We snatched one up and headed to the museum. We saw the show and played at the museum for a while.

The kids ask to ride the carousel every time we go to the park. I always say no. Today I said yes. The Balboa Park Carousel is so great! It was built in 1910 and still has most of the original hand-carved animals. Even the horse tails are made of real horse tails!

London played the ring pull game and got the brass ring, which meant a free ride! So she rode again.

 Her face after realizing she pulled the brass ring was priceless!

Her face after realizing she pulled the brass ring was priceless!

We had such a great time. We ended our night with a movie night. I only wish every Saturday was that much fun. Not only did we have a great time, but Taylor was productive as well. I hope this a good omen to our upcoming spring break.

Music Lessons

Growing up, I never thought of music lessons being something only rich kids get. It was so normal to me. It was just something we did. My parents weren’t rich, but somehow we always took lessons, week after week. I never realized how much my parents really sacrificed to pay for cello and violin lessons all those years for my brother and me. I never realized that my younger siblings never really got lessons because my parents were using the money they had on lessons for the two older ones. I just happened to be the second child (and probably one of the most opinionated), so I got lessons. I never realized how many piano lessons my mom had to teach to pay for just the two of us to continue with the best teachers Sacramento had to offer. I think I get it now and I can’t even begin to imagine what my life would be like now if my parents had not made those sacrifices. Talking with my mom about it now, and being a mother myself, I’m only beginning to see how important it must have been for them to let us play. And because of the sacrifices my parents made for music, the course of my life was changed.

I started violin when I was four. I only started because my brother started a year prior and when he switched to the cello, I decided I was as good as him and could then do violin. My mom tried to discourage me then, but I wouldn’t have it. I wanted to play violin. So she relented and I started. And to this day I maintain that she’s crazy for giving in to little 4-year-old me. But I’m so thankful she did. I always knew that it was a choice I was making, not something my parents pushed on me. I remember a number of times being upset that I had to practice and saying I wanted to quit. My mom would always say, “Okay. Go call your teacher and tell her you won’t be coming back.” I never did. So I never quit (until that one time after high school for about 6 months when I was finally brave enough, but that’s another story for another day).

I’ll never forget the day my brother left his cello behind the van instead of putting it in the van before lessons and it was run over on the way out of the driveway. But that didn’t deter my parents from continuing music lessons. They found a new cello and we were back at lessons soon thereafter. I talked to a woman last week who plays the piano (which has really helped keep her hands flexible as she is now in her 80s) and her house burned down as a little girl. Her parents drove hours away to the big city in a different state the next day so that they could buy her a new piano so she wouldn’t miss a day of practicing. These parents had priorities. 

Now I’m a music teacher. I have private students and I also teach for the East County Youth Symphony, which is a fantastic program. It’s free. Free music lessons. Free. Sometimes I have parents ask me what I charge for private lessons. When I tell them, they can’t believe how expensive it is. They don’t want to make that sacrifice. I understand that. I’m a parent. I don’t know how to prioritize what activities my kids do or what I’m willing to spend on any said activity. I don’t know where they will excel until I give them a chance. I can’t throw money into everything. Somehow I have to find what works for my child and point them in that direction. My parents didn’t know that music would work for me when I was four. But they gave me the opportunity to see. 

Last week I played in a concert that the students from the youth symphony were required to attend. It wasn’t too long and we gave free tickets to all of the youth symphony students. I know of at least one sixth grade student who sat in the concert alone because his mother and sister didn’t want to pay the $8 a piece for their tickets, so they sat in the lobby and waited for it to end. I had another student who was doing quite well, but his mother, for whatever reason, is not allowing him to continue in my class. There is a bit of a time commitment because the parents are required to put in a few volunteer hours in exchange for their children being in music classes. It’s not a lot of time, and they pay nothing. This particular child still gets to have music at school, but he is quite talented and I can see that with a little bit of encouragement from his parents (and some lessons), he could do quite well. As a music teacher, it is hard for me to watch these students not achieve their full potential because of their parents priorities. Now, I understand that every parent has different priorities. I understand that nobody can do everything. But please, please, fork out $8 for a concert here and there to at least show support to your child. Go watch the concert with him. Show him that you will support him when he has his own concert. Show him that music is something that is worthwhile. 

I have come to realize that I was one of the lucky ones. I was one of the ones who had parents who supported me. I have parents who attended all of my concerts (even though I’m pretty sure my dad slept through many of them). They drove me to countless rehearsals and lessons and spent lots and lots and lots of money on lessons. It was a priority. And for that, I’m so thankful. 

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The kids are both at school. Taylor was ironing. I was busy buying music supplies online. So we were both in our bedroom and I heard some racket coming from London's room. I went to see what was going on and I found a bird. I have no clue how it got there. Her balcony door and screen were both closed and locked. Although windows were open to let cool air in this morning, all screens are intact. Weird. I have no idea how the bird got in. Taylor opened the patio door and the bird flew out. I hoped aloud that it didn't poop inside. It did. On her bed. Twice. It's possible there's more that I haven't found yet (since I can't really see through the clutter). I hope not. But for now, at least it made me change her sheets this morning. 

Homemade Ice Cream

It’s been hot here lately. Like really hot. It’s always my goal to leave the air conditioner off until July. Sometimes we make it. I haven’t switched it on yet, but I’ve been tempted. The last few days, it has been in the 90s. It cools off into the 50s at night, but our house has been pretty warm. I thought it would be the perfect time to make some homemade ice cream. So after church, I whipped up a batch of a regular vanilla custard base, but I decided to try a couple of different flavors and I kind of made things up as I went along. For the first one, I added a bit of peppermint extract and at the end of the churning, I threw in some smashed up mint Oreos. It was a grand combination. But I decided to leave mint out of half of the mixture so I could try something different. I made some lemon curd the other day and I also had some raspberries. That sounded like a lovely combination, but I felt like it might need something to offset the tangy fruit flavor. I mixed up some browned butter ginger snaps. Once cooled, I crushed some up and added them to the ice cream nearing the end of the churning process, along with the raspberries and lemon curd. I was not disappointed and I’m sure I’ll be making this concoction again as I’m sure we have many hot days ahead of us. I’m excited to come up with more yummy ice cream flavors this summer and put my new ice cream maker to the test!

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Oatmeal

London was complaining about a stomach ache this morning when everybody else was eating breakfast. She decided she could eat oatmeal, so I made some for her. I added some brown sugar (as is always requested) and of course it wasn’t enough. It never is. And then I added some milk. But apparently I added too much milk. So now she sits, stirring her oatmeal, but not really eating it. And at least she’s not complaining loudly (which is really kind of strange). But she is complaining about how she can’t even taste the oatmeal. She can only taste the milk, when in reality, it’s the brown sugar she really wants to taste. She couldn’t care less about the taste of the actual oatmeal. Nice.

Update: She's now eating the oatmeal and has apologized for the way she acted, and asked me to make her a smoothie. Also, there was no yelling involved. Progress, folks. That's lots of progress. For both of us.

Viola

I was practicing my viola last night and thinking about how great it sounds and how glad I am that I was able to acquire it. A couple of years ago, I bought a new violin. I found a really good deal that I couldn’t pass up. I thought I would for sure be able to sell the violin that I had, which would help pay for the one I was buying. I did a bit of research and I was certain I wouldn’t have a problem. I was wrong. Selling my violin turned out to be much more difficult than anticipated. After a year of trying in a number of different places, I decided that maybe I should just give up and keep it for someday when London grows into it. So I shelved it. Then one day, I had an idea. What if I traded it in for a viola? I knew of a violin shop in town that had offered me a trade-in when I was looking at violins, so I figured I could take it back there and get a decent viola if I saved up maybe a little more. I ran the idea by some friends in an orchestra. They suggested I talk to another man in the orchestra. Maybe he would trade me. He had some violas that he might be willing to make a deal with. So I talked to him. I went to his house and tried out some instruments and we made a deal. I ended up with an old, kind of beat up 1899 Heberlein Jr. It looks like it’s been very well used. There are imperfections everywhere. It has been fixed a number of times, and many times maybe not the best fixes. But it sounds so good! It feels good to play, and every time I pull it out, I’m happy with my trade. I’ve had a bit of work done to it, including a new bridge, new tailpiece, new chinrest, new strings, and planing of the fingerboard as well as some crack repairs. There are still other things I will do in the future, but right now it sounds fantastic and meets my needs perfectly. 

 

I am also more than happy with the violin I purchased, that started this whole ball rolling in the first place. It doesn’t have a label, but I’m told that it’s a 1932 European instrument. I’m not one that really cares much about brands or makers. If I like the way it sounds and feels, that’s all I really care about. I love it. It sounds great and it’s easy to play. Many people have commented on it’s beauty in appearance and sound. I have had a number of people tell me that they would pay twice what I did for it and think it worth the price. I’ve always been happy with it, but in the beginning, I had a bit of buyer’s remorse when we were trying to pay for it and realized I wasn’t going to be able to sell my old one. After the headache of it all, I can look back and see that it all worked out perfectly. Now I just need to spend a bit more time practicing these beauties!

Lent

Today is the first day of Lent. I didn’t even really realize that until yesterday when I heard something on the radio about Mardi Gras. It seems too early for all of that. And I don’t celebrate Mardi Gras or really even Lent, although I do celebrate Easter. Sometimes, though, I think it’s a good idea to look at life and set goals to be better and 40 days sounds a whole lot less daunting than setting a new year’s resolution that I know I’ll break in the first 40 days of the year. So like I already said, today is the first day of Lent (and although this has nothing to do with anything, every single time I have typed the word ‘first’ in this paragraph, I have had to go back and correct it because I actually typed ‘fist’), I’m going to celebrate and give something up. Today is the day I give up yelling at my kids. I think I can do that for 40 days. And then on Easter morning I’m going to have a great big yell fest. Just kidding. Maybe I’m not kidding. Anyway, I gave up yelling for Lent a couple of years ago and I think it’s definitely time to walk that road again. 

According to London, I always yell at her. I’ve been trying to be more patient, but I guess she’s not picking up on that. Just the other day, it was time for bed. I mentioned that to my kids. They were in the middle of something and wanted 2 minutes. I gave them 5. Again, I calmly told them it was time to get in bed. It was as if I wasn’t even there. I waited. I said it again. Nothing. Fast forward 20 minutes and I’m back in her room, yelling at her to get in bed. Then, of course, she heard. And she wondered out loud in a very loud voice (much like yelling) why I always yell at her. Um, maybe it has something to do with the last half an hour of nobody hearing anything I said. No, that can’t be it. In any case, I’m done with the yelling for the next 40 days. I’m going to prove to my children (and my husband) that I do more than yell at them. And then I’ll have some concrete evidence. Sort of. There will be no more yelling, not even when it’s time for dinner and I have to yell up the stairs for them to come and eat (although I’m pretty sure on most days I will have to yell out the front door to get them to come in from playing, but that doesn’t really count). So here’s to a better me and a more peaceful home. Pray for me. I need all the help I can get!

Chaos

Today was a rough one for London. Somehow, when she has hard days, we all have hard days. They had a substitute for the last half of the day and when that happens, the class becomes out of control, and London can’t handle the chaos. She and her teacher have worked through things and she has learned what to do and her teacher knows what her limits are. When somebody new is pulled in and can’t control the class in the same way, London has a hard time using some of the coping skills (such as leaving the classroom for a few minutes) because the substitutes don’t understand the limits. There’s really nobody at fault, however, I feel like I should maybe talk with her teacher about allowing London to not be there when there are substitutes. I could get her work and we could do it at home. To make matters worse today, London got up and left the classroom because she was overwhelmed (because that’s her coping strategy), Because she did that, apparently the sub didn’t let them go to P.E., which meant the whole class blamed London for that. And the boy who she can’t get along with anyway followed her around, taunting her for the rest of the day (which is absolutely not okay). I’m not sure of the whole situation, but from what I gathered from London, they did go run, so they must have had P.E. after all. In any case, as they were walking around the field, London was chatting with her friends. She tends to talk A LOT! In this instance, she mentioned to the teacher how she had a hard time running fast because she couldn’t breathe well and her throat hurt (probably because she refuses to actually exercise) and the teacher just snapped at her, saying something along the lines of maybe if she wasn’t talking so much, she would be okay. Of course this made her upset as well. Now, I know London is partly to blame. We had a nice, long talk about keeping our noses out of other people’s business, even if that meant our friends would get in trouble. But the fact of the matter is, London is not the same as other kids. She cannot handle the chaos that comes with having a substitute teacher. It pushes her over the edge, and then it pushes me over the edge. School is such a drag.

Long Weekend

I feel like we’re still just wrapping up the weekend, but here it is, Wednesday night! It seems as though we can’t keep from staying busy. This last week was no exception. Our weekend was packed full of fun. We started out Saturday morning with a trip to Donut Bar. It’s always fun to go on weekends with the kids when they can get their free kids donut. This was our last free Saturday morning before youth symphony starts up, so we wanted to make sure we got our donut fix. After donuts, we stopped in at the zoo, hoping to catch a glimpse of the new baby gorilla, but we missed him this time. We were home before 11 and somehow I was motivated to purge. I cleaned out my closet and my fabric closet, but that was just the beginning. Once I got going, there was no stopping me! Soon enough, we had the whole car packed with stuff to donate. I don’t think I have purged that much stuff ever. It feels great!

Saturday night, we had an old roommate of mine (Annie) and her husband and adorable almost-2-year-old daughter over for dinner. They were in town on vacation. It was so much fun to see her and meet her family! It’s been a long time since we have seen each other. She was my roommate my very first semester at Ricks College. We were both turning 19 on the same day, less than a week after I moved in. 

On Friday evening, Taylor’s dad called to see if London and I would want to use some tickets he bought to see “Wicked”. He knew that London had wanted to see it. He had purchased some tickets for the 8th of February, thinking he purchased them for the 8th of March. So he had these two tickets that he couldn’t use and wanted to know if we would want to use them for the upcoming Sunday matinee. I accepted (yay!) and London and I took a trip to Hollywood to the Pantages Theater two days later. We had a grand time. London was in heaven. She was so excited to see the show, but to see it in Hollywood was even more exciting for her. On the way home, she told me that if she never went to Disneyland again, she would be happy, as long as she could see another show like that. I really had a nice day with her and I’m so glad we were able to have that time together.

Taylor had to work on Monday, but the kids were out of school, so I took them to Sea World. That was a surprise for them as well, so when I told them we were going, there was much excitement. It was a great day to go. The weather was perfect and the crowds were minimal. We were able to see and do the things we wanted without any stress. And now that the weekend is over, it looks like it’s time to gear up for another.

Today

Taylor took the car to work because he’s sick. I thought that it would give me an excuse to get things done around here, but instead, I sit here feeling overwhelmed. I guess it would help if I just got started. But here’s the rundown. I need a shower and today that includes washing my hair, which also means I have to actually DO something to it when I get out. I need to clean all three bathrooms, which should be done at the time of showering, at least for one of the bathrooms. All floors need vacuuming and downstairs needs to be mopped. Bad. I have two sets of curtains that are hanging, but both need to be hemmed and have needed to be hemmed for months. But I’m out of good thread and I’m not about to use crappy thread again, which might possibly send me to the loony bin, but I can’t go to the store to get any because the car is gone. So there’s one less thing I have to do. Of course I should throw in a load of laundry. And then there’s the kitchen. I don’t know what to do with the kitchen. I bought some stuff to strip the paint off of the horrible wood edging on our tile counter tops. I’ve had the stuff for months, but I haven’t had the time (or motivation) to actually use it. Maybe today is the day. But maybe not. A couple of days ago, London jumped up on the counter to grab a plate. She knows that’s not allowed, but whatever. As she was up there, Ashton opened the door below her to get a cup out and didn’t close it. When she jumped down, she came down on the door, right between her legs, and broke the door completely off of the cabinet, pulling the hinge out of the cabinet. Lovely. I didn’t get mad (on the outside). She was upset (and hurt!) and felt really bad. I just made sure she was okay and told her that cabinets can be fixed. But in reality, now I just really want new cabinets. I almost think it’s not even worth the time and energy to fix because it looks so bad anyway. But it’s not in the budget for new cabinets anytime soon and just thinking about doing a job of that magnitude makes my head spin. My next thought is maybe we could just replace the lower cabinets. They’re the ones in really bad shape. And I could just strip and re-paint the upper cabinets. But maybe not. And those counter tops…too much. I’ll just ignore it all for another day. Maybe it will all just go away.

36

36 sounds old. But I don’t feel old, really. Weird. Today was an interesting birthday. When I was gone at his mom’s house, Taylor told me about a dissertation boot camp that he learned about that was happening this weekend. Then he remembered it was my birthday so he said he wouldn’t go. I convinced him that what I really wanted for my birthday was for him to go to Claremont and work on his dissertation. I was totally serious. So he went. Today was the first Sunday (because we were in St. George last week) of 9:00 church. We were only 5 minutes late, so I call that success. I even curled London’s hair. I’m pretty sure I now qualify for the super mom status. I’m just trying to get used to doing her hair every day because after this lice episode, I vowed to never let her wear her hair down to school again. Speaking of school, I think the best birthday gift this year will be sending my kids back to school in the morning. It’s been a long 3 weeks. 

So after church, we came home and made pizza. Then London made cupcakes for my birthday, all by herself. Needless to say, it was kind of messy, but I was grateful for the help. We also made homemade ice cream, so good food all around. My kids spent the whole afternoon singing and dancing. It was very cute, but I don’t think I’ll get the songs from “Into the Woods” out of my head for a very long time and I haven’t seen the movie OR the musical. Ever. The best part of my day was how sweet my kids were to me. There really was minimal fighting and lots of love. I think that’s a good way to celebrate 36 years of life.

I Am a Child of God

Every Christmas season, there’s a church in our community that transforms their parking lot into Bethlehem. They call it “The Bethlehem Story”. It really is quite the undertaking. When you arrive in Bethlehem, you are given a number of shekels. To enter the city, you are required to pay taxes. There are a number of booths set up where you can pay a shekel to make a craft or learn a trade, etc. The workers are all in costume and character. At certain times in the night, you’ll see Mary and Joseph ride in on a donkey. Then the angel appears and you hear the hosts of heaven. Then you are able to go into the stable and see the baby Jesus. It’s quite the production and really was fun to be there. This year was our first time going. We (especially the kids) had a great time. At one point, we walked into the carpenter’s shop where the carpenter was teaching us how to split wood with a stick and a mallet. He told us that it’s easier if you sing and swing the mallet to the beat. He gave London a turn. Then she left and it was Ashton’s turn. The first song that popped into his mind was “I Am A Child of God”. He sang it while he split wood. The man teaching him was very impressed. When he finished the whole song, he asked, “Where did you learn that song?!” Then he told him that if he sings that song every day, he will become a strong man of God. He then turned to me and complimented me on the way I’m bringing up my child in the way of the Lord. This is a man who doesn’t belong to the same church as me, but he is a christian and understood the significance of that song. It was such a sweet experience and touched me more than anything else in the hustle and bustle of that night. And I know that man felt that spirit as well. 

For those of you reading this who don't know the song, check it out here: https://www.lds.org/music/library/childrens-songbook/i-am-a-child-of-god?lang=eng

Too Much

Note: This was written on Christmas Eve, but because my site was down, it wasn't actually published until now. Still, I think it's relevant.

Today was a hard one. I have been so busy lately. With what, I’m not quite sure. There’s just the hustle and bustle around the holidays. I tried to get things done early this year, and I did for the most part. I had most of my gifts wrapped before Christmas Eve, which isn’t normal for me. But maybe that made my life just a little more hectic leading up to today. I’ve been busy with performances and things. I usually play a lot this time of year and although I’ve been busy this year, I don’t feel like I’ve been nearly as busy as I was in past years. Still, this year is overwhelming. A couple of weeks ago when I was helping London get ready for a Gypsy performance, I got pretty upset with her. She was whining about something having to do with getting ready and I just laid into her and yelled at her about how everything we were doing was for her, which was true, but none of the things we were doing were actually helping her. 

Everything came to a head today. I was preparing for my parents to come stay for Christmas. We also invited Taylor's dad and brother over for Christmas Eve dinner. A lot of things still needed to be done around the house, like cleaning toilets (which didn’t happen), vacuuming, moving beds around, washing sheets, cleaning mirrors, (which also didn’t happen) mopping downstairs, etc. I was also preparing a big meal for everyone. I thought I was pretty organized and I would be able to handle it. Things were going smoothly. Then things started piling up. Ashton needed someone to play with. The kids were fighting and Taylor went surfing so I was home alone dealing with them. When Taylor got home, he got to work on my list of things that needed to get done. He helped corral the kids. Then at some point, London came asking me if I could get her some thread to hand sew a purse together that she has been begging me to help her with for a long time. I keep putting her off because I’m always doing other things and, frankly, I really don’t want to deal with the purse. She constantly wants me to do projects with her. She has been begging me to make a sleep mask with her for a while now, but I’ve just been too busy. I felt bad and so I stopped what I was doing and pulled out the thread for her. I helped her get started and she assured me she knew what she was doing. A few minutes later, she was stuck. Her thread was all over the place and she couldn’t figure out what she had done wrong. I didn’t want to help her fix it. There was so much on my to-do list. But I stopped to help her. Suddenly I got really frustrated. The task of backtracking and fixing her mistake seemed too daunting and I just didn’t have time to do it. I felt like just throwing the whole thing in the trash. She could feel my frustration, even though I tried to stay calm. She was very sweet and told me I could just throw it away. Then she left to give me some space. I sat on my un-made bed with that makeshift little purse and just cried. I failed my daughter today. I failed her this month. All she wanted was a mom who would help her with a small sewing project and I failed miserably at that. I cried about how I’m too busy for my daughter. I cried about how I’m too busy doing things for her that I don’t have time to be the mother that she needs me to be and do things with her. I cried about how I’m too busy thinking of the next thing on my list of tasks that I don’t take the time to sit with her and read a book or color a picture or listen to her talk about life. I have moments where I am that mother, but that’s the mother she needs me to be all the time, not just in small moments. She’s growing up and I’m missing it because I’m too busy, too busy doing things for her. 

This year for Christmas, I’m going to give my family me. I’m going to stop doing so much and just be. I’m going to be a mother who they can talk to because I listen. I’m going to be the mother they can count on because I will drop whatever unnecessary thing it is that I’m doing and be there when they need me. And tomorrow after the gifts are all opened and the house is a mess and the kids are fighting, I’m going to close my eyes for a minute and wish I wasn’t there. But then I’m going to remember that I am their mother and that’s all I ever really wanted to be.

Breakdancing

Today I asked Ashton if he wanted to participate in their school talent show. He was excited and said that he wants to. I asked him what he wants to do for his talent and he said, “I could dance. I’m really good at dancing.” Here’s how the rest of the conversation went:
Me: Oh, really? What kind of dancing?
Ashton: I could twirl. 
Me: Oh, that might be good.
Ashton: I could break dance. I’m really good at breakdancing. 
Me: Really. Let’s see some breakdancing.
He jumps down on the floor and twirls on his backside for a minute then says, “Maybe you can help me. How do you breakdance again?”