Friday, January 30, 2015

7 Quick Takes, or My Day Today


Last night I said to Nathan, "We've gone from forty minutes of sleep at a time to fifteen minutes with this cold poor Ree has.  She keeps coughing herself awake."  I was practicing my violin in ten minute segments in between settling her back down.  Nathan, listening half-heartedly to my blathering, somehow thought I was talking about an upcoming orchestra rehearsal I had being reduced from forty minutes {which it never was in the first place} to fifteen minutes, and he got really excited, because, less childcare minutes for him.  I told him nothing had changed and I still had to leave the house by 7:15 the following morning {this morning}, and he felt quite sorry for himself because I had a rehearsal and it hadn't been shortened.  Something about the whole conversation struck me as funny.


I was out the door early this morning, unshowered and generally unkempt, wearing my not-nicest black jeans and a black cardigan and a pair of warmish black socks with flats instead of dress pants and trouser socks with heels or something similarly appropriate.   I drove to the morning's rehearsal and concerts thinking about all the children we'd be playing for that morning, and how, unlike adults who go to formal evening concerts and see us musicians with real live makeup on, children probably assume that musicians always perform in black jeans or yoga pants and walk around bleary-eyed and scowling.


I pondered the Stages of Gigging Grief I seem to perpetually put myself through.


Driving home from the children's concerts, I wanted coffee.  I thought about taking a detour to Starbucks and getting my new favorite drink, a flat white.  Then I pulled off to the side of the road and texted Nathan, telling him I was about five minutes from home.  He quickly replied, "Good, because I'm about five minutes from a breakdown."  That seemed to clinch my fate; no coffee for me.

And I know, Starbucks is overhyped and overly trendy and is driving small business owners out of business and hey, it's not even THAT GREAT, but until someone opens a good family-owned coffee shop in my town, and preferably one that will either have a drive thru or bring a hot beverage out to my car so I don't have to wrangle kids in and out of car seats, well... until that day, my loyalties apparently lie with Starbucks -- at least to the degree that I occasionally think about going there, and then usually don't.


Ree is slightly sick, mostly just a bit more snuggly than usual, and having a hard time sleeping horizontally, and coughing herself awake a lot.  Nell, however, is a weeping, wailing, whining disaster.  Poor thing.  It's been all "my nose is wunnnnnny!" all day long, and I'm digging deep into my empathy reserves to try to be patient with her but let me tell you, the whining is testing me to the limits.  It's 9 pm here, and in the two hours since bedtime, I've resettled the baby three times and the toddler twice.  It's going to be a long night.


And in case Number Five didn't seem quite difficult enough, well, Nathan is out of town all weekend.


But life isn't all dismal, because my brother-in-law and sister-in-law brought me a piece of chocolate cake tonight.  So, I think I'll live to blow two small wunny noses another day.

Good thing those wunny noses have such cute little owners.

Now, head on over to This Ain't The Lyceum, which is hosting 7QT these days, and see what other folks have come up with!

The Seven Stages of Gigging Grief

For your edification, what follows are the Stages of Gigging Grief I seem to perpetually put myself through.  Maybe I'm not the only one?  Maybe these apply to those in other lines of work, too?

1. It begins.

Get asked to play a gig.  Happily accept, because money and great music and get out of the house and talk to adults who speak in full sentences.  Teaching every afternoon is great and all, but it's nice to play something other than Twinkles and Minuets, too.

2. Denial.  

Blissfully ignore how much practicing needs to be done for said approaching gig, because practicing and taking care of two kids don't always go charmingly hand in hand.  Forget to get a babysitter far enough in advance, or do anything else to prepare.

3. Acceptance.  

Realize that the gig is just a few days away.  Panic.  Scramble to get a sitter if necessary.  Shut yourself in music room.  Practice violin while baby fusses and toddler asks for hugs and snacks and trips to the potty.

4. Depression.  

Complain to husband about how hard it is to work part-time and care for kids full-time.  Swear to never take another gig, not ever, because it's all just too hard to balance.

5. Bargaining.  

If husband is the one assuming all childcare duties for the occasion, attempt to soothe his nerves as necessary and promise him all the frozen pizzas and other junk food he wants.

6. The Happy Part.  

Go to gig.  Play an acceptable percentage of right notes and feel thrilled that the practicing, albeit chaotic, paid off.  Enjoy the feeling of putting degrees and skills to their proper use. Mentally formulate a plan for Greater Career Success.  Resolve to practice every day, to work up audition repertoire, to finally master those excerpts that have heretofore been elusively difficult, and to be brave enough to actually take some auditions.

7. Reality.  

Return home to find house in shambles.  You thought it couldn't be worse than it was when you left it; you were wrong.  The dishes you neglected last night while practicing are still there, and have multiplied with breakfast dishes now stacked on top of them.  The kids are still in pajamas, and it's noon.  The baby needs to be nursed, the toddler needs lunch, both children need baths, and Mama still hasn't had a shower.  The entire house needs to be cleaned.  Home from working, and somehow the work has just begun.  Resolve never ever to ever ever play a gig again.

Rinse and repeat every week or two.  And so on and so forth.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Nellisms, vol. 3

This kiddo keeps racking up the hilarious statements, so clearly, it's time to document them once again.  Photos were taken back in December.  (Thank you, Captain Obvious... I know.)

Uncle Andrew: Come here! Let me squish your belly!
Nell: No... let ME! (proceeds to squish her own belly)

* * *

Evidence that her negotiation skills are ever improving:

Nell: Can I have a cookie please, Mommy?
Sarah: Yes, you'll get to have a cookie after dinner.
Nell: But could I have a bite now please?
Sarah: After dinner.
Nell: Okay, just a teeny weeny bite?
Sarah: After dinner!
Nell: Okay, could I have just a neeeeble? ('nibble')

* * *

Sarah: Please don't kick.
Nell: I wasn't kickin', I was flappin' mine toes.

* * *

Narrating her activities to Ree:

Nell: I'm eating applesauce, Mawee.
Ree: ...
Nell: In my monkey pouch.  Mmm.
Ree: ...
Nell: Applesauce, Baby Wee.  See?  Applesauce.
Ree: ...
Nell: Wee!  HELLO.  TALK!

{wondering why she wasn't getting much feedback, I suppose.}

* * *

Nell: Wow Mommy wow you... combed... your... hair!  It looks so pretty!  So cute!  Can I touch it?

{Contrary to how this sounds, I actually comb my hair daily.}

{that's Nell jumping, by the way.}

She's getting pretty perceptive.  I squeezed my eyes shut one afternoon when they were feeling dry, and she said, "Oh mommy, you are fwustwated.  I'm so so so so sowwy."

And one evening, I breathed out heavily and Nell intoned with all the exhaustion of a mother at the end of a long day, "I wonder when Daddy be home."  Wonder where she's heard THAT line before?

{her ubiquitous "silly face"}

Climbing the stairs at Daddy's work: "I'm so so so so so so so so so so so so big."

* * *

Sarah: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Nell: Daddy.  No, Mommy.  No, Baby Wee.  No, Mommy.

* * *

Sarah: I like you, Nell.
Nell: I like you too, sweetie.

I scooped her up to hug her.  She very reasonably shrieked, "Don't eat me!!"

And because apparently we talk about gobbling up babies around here, she hugged Ree one day, gazed at her adoringly, and then asked, "Mommy, can I eat her?"

* * *

Aunt Hannah: Baby Ree is a potty genius!
Nell: No... I'M a genius!

{She never hams it up for the camera, this one.  Never.}

Getting ready to go to a Christmas party one afternoon:  "We're going to a party and, and, a PARTY, and, and, and, we'll get to DRINK WATER!!!!"

{We don't get out much, it would seem.}

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Advent, Days 7-24

Yeah, remember when I was blogging about what we did for each day of Advent?

Let's see, where did I leave off?

We had gotten a tree!

Well, in the remaining days of Advent...

We put lights on the tree.

We decorated the tree.

We set up the nativity.

We made theeee most delicious gingerbread pancakes imaginable, and wondered why people bother making pancakes that aren't gingerbread.

We also made gingerbread boys and girls.

And I introduced Nell to the art of dunking a cookie in a glass {or mug, as the case may be} of milk.  She approved.

Then we made grain-free cranberry muffins one morning... because things can be Christmassy and delicious without being all sugar and white flour, right?

We read all the Christmas story sections in the Jesus Storybook Bible.

We sang Christmas carols with Daddy at the piano.

And Christmas Eve came, and we went to church, and made cardamom bread, and put Baby Jesus in the manger.

When I write down the little activities and look over the photographs, it seems quite nice.  

We had an Advent wreath with beautiful beeswax candles.  We sang "Once In Royal David's City" and "See Amid the Winter's Snow" every night at bedtime, and Nell grew to ask for them by name and sang along with some of the words.  Every morning she was just as excited as the day before to open the day's box in the Advent calendar.  She would take out the slip of paper and pretend to read it, "Today, we...." and trail off as she waited for me to tell her what fun awaited.  We read all the children's Christmas books in the house, and Nell became fond of proclaiming at random intervals throughout the day, "Don't be afwaid!  The angel say dat, wight, Mama?"

The reality of it was much more stressful, as I suppose everyone's December is.  There was one day I recall in particular, a day with a long rehearsal in Boston all morning and a concert in New Hampshire in the evening and the usual rushing around in between that life with children requires, and on that day, I blessed Nell for not actually knowing how to read yet, and looked at that slip of paper and told her something quite different than what was written down.  Our "special activity" for the day involved the Starbucks drive-through.  I'm sorry.  

It was a busy, crazy, very full month.  We all had colds at least once, we didn't sleep enough, and the season of Advent felt, to me, generally lacking in the sort of peaceful family coziness I had longed for.  I cried to Nathan about it on at least one occasion, swore that next year we'd have to take fewer gigs and attend fewer events and plan fewer events of our own and work less and spend more time in those Christmassy pajamas we didn't actually even have, but ought to.

{Well, Marie had a pair, and they were glorious, making me wish for a pair of my own, too.}

Still, when all is said and done, I hope Nell remembers it -- if she remembers any of it -- the way I remember the Christmases of my childhood, where somehow the flickering lights of candles and Christmas trees made everything oh, so beautiful.

And now, since Advent is like, so last year, I shall publish this post and be done with it.