Sunday, April 26, 2015


Last night I had an orchestra concert that included Brahms' 4th Symphony.  I had a little moment, as the concert was beginning, where I was waiting for the conductor's downbeat and was suddenly filled with... I'm not sure what, really.  I love the sight of a conductor I enjoy playing for, illuminated in the bright stage lights, clear lines of motion against the blackness of the audience.  I felt my violin and bow in my hands, thought of the skilled artistry and craftsmanship and financial value they represent, and felt lucky to do what I do.  Privileged.

Of course, it's work, and there are many hours of it feeling like hard work for every I'm-so-lucky moment.  This past week's gigs were in NH, so I was driving an hour each way each night.  Coming home most nights, I could barely keep my eyes open.  I'd stop for an iced coffee, even run a quick lap around my car to keep myself alert.  Get home around 11 or a little after, just in time for the baby to start her frequent night wakings for the rest of the night.

I drove home last night with concert warm-and-fuzzies, still enjoying the afterglow that Brahms can provide, but this morning I was dead tired when the baby woke around 6 am.  After being awake at 12:00, and 1:30, and 3:30, and 5:00.

I got the kids breakfasted and bathed and dressed, and we headed into Boston to attend church where Nathan works as music director.  I was So Crazy Stupid Tired I could barely keep my eyes open driving... and this was 10 am, not 10 pm.

Some people get crabby or punchy when they're tired; I tend to get weepy.  A kind stranger on the streets of Boston said, "You've got your hands full!", and then added, looking me in the eye briefly, "You're doing a good job," and I admit, my eyes got a little watery at the affirmation.  

My kids went {somewhat}happily into their respective nursery care rooms, and God must have known I needed that, because I got to sit through most of the church service and hear the sermon, which coincidentally, was on the topic of Sabbath rest.

Rest.  I wanted some, so badly.  And the pastor spoke of it in such eloquent terms, my eyes welled up on more than one occasion.  Somehow he never got to the part about how mothers of very young children are supposed to find this rest, though.

The choir sang a favorite anthem of mine, a text by Peter Abelard, a bit of which goes:

O what their joy and their glory must be,
those endless Sabbaths the bless├Ęd ones see;
crown for the valiant, to weary ones rest:
God shall be All, and in all ever blest.

Truly, "Jerusalem" name we that shore,
vision of peace that brings joy evermore;
wish and fulfillment can severed be ne'er,
nor the things prayed for come short of the prayer.

Now, in the meantime, with hearts raised on high,
we for that country must yearn and must sigh,
seeking Jerusalem, dear native land,
through our long exile on Babylon's strand.

An endless Sabbath rest awaits us.  God's work is finished.  Christ's work is finished.  But my work won't be finished for a very long time, and even though I managed to sneak in a 45-minute nap this afternoon while my children's naps overlapped, the day didn't feel very restful.

But I left the children's things lying strewn around the living room more than I usually would have, pondering the idea that it isn't the work we give ourselves to do, or that others give us to do, that matters.  It's the work God has given us to do.   He is our boss, and He has given us a day off.  This day of rest is manifested differently in different lives; in ours, it usually and quite unavoidably involves work.  It is Nathan's job to work at church on Sundays for nearly twelve hours.  My work often involves Sunday concerts or rehearsals.  And of course, it is work to keep children cared for.  But today I was reminded to take the moments of rest where I can.

It'll be there for me tomorrow, stray socks and shoes, small Sunday-best smocked dresses, and laundry waiting to be folded and put away.  Perhaps, by all reasonable counts, I "ought" to have done some of this work tonight, since tomorrow will have work of its own.  Music to practice for two upcoming concerts this week.  Lessons to teach, a studio recital to plan for.  But this evening, after my girls were tucked in their beds, I ate takeout Thai food with Nathan and then changed into my pajamas, cozy in bed before 10 pm for the first time in too long.  

Friday, April 24, 2015


After a couple of really busy work weeks in late March and early April, I got to enjoy a couple of pretty relaxed weeks recently.  I found myself viewing my kids with fresh eyes, amazed at how much more I could enjoy the everyday moments when I wasn't feel as frantic about nightly rehearsals, symphonies to practice, late nights and early mornings, and other such work-related concerns.

Those little pairs of eyes looked more beautiful.  The little voices were more sweet, the little actions more endearing.

I said something to Nathan about how difficult the busy weeks had been, how exhausted and crazy and stressed I had felt, how thrilled and exhilarated I was to have some time at home with the girls where my mornings with them weren't spent preparing for for the busy afternoons and evenings but rather just being in the moment.

He replied wryly, "Next week you'll be saying how you never get any gigs and your career is pathetic and the kids have you at your wits' end."

There's some truth to that, I admit!  I can laugh at myself about it.

In the meantime, my iPhone reflects these past few slower-paced weeks with more images of the everyday than usual.  Morning snuggles and smiles.  Napping faces and lunch-nibbling mouths.  Sunshine on hair and time spent outdoors.  {Although, given the winter we had, sunshine is anything but everyday around here, and we are relishing every moment of it!}

Just getting to enjoy the moments.  They aren't always fun moments {I could do without the screaming and meltdowns}, but they are fleeting, and even the everyday things like playing outdoors, a babe in overalls and a toddler in pigtails, and eating meals together seem more precious when you're not feeling too rushed to enjoy them.

This week I've been back into a busy stretch of work, and the next two weeks will be even busier.   Three consecutive weeks where more nights than not, I'll be out at rehearsals or concerts, and these days will come with an enjoyment of their own but they won't be without their difficulties.  I'm glad I have some pictures to remind me of the contentment we found in the little things recently.

{we went to the mall one day, a rare occurrence in our family, because Nathan was craving a big soft pretzel.  he captured this picture of both girls smiling!}

{because squeezing your eyes shut tightly is a silent code for "I love you" -- at least, in our family it is.}

{"She's huggin' me!  She loves me so much!"}

{I made a wreath for our front door.  It took me only the first fifteen minutes of a rare and glorious nap time in which both girls were asleep simultaneously and I wasn't working.}

 {A morning at the park.  So everyday, and yet, so much fun for little kiddos after a long winter spent mostly indoors.}

Friday, April 10, 2015

Nellisms, vol. 4

I've had a growing collection of quotable quotes from this girlie for a while now, and it would be a travesty not to inflict them on you.

Nell these days.  She likes playing her "villeein," jumping around like crazy, and her favorite number is "six ellellen."  The fact that she calls cornflakes "snowflakes" is indicative that the deprived child has had cold cereal all of a half dozen times in her life.  And when we had ice cream recently, she nearly lost her mind with excitement, jumping up and down and exclaiming about how we had also had ice cream ON HER BIRTHDAY!!!  Which was last May.  Further proof of deprivation, but also of how frighteningly remarkable her memory is.

One snowy morning back in February:
Sarah: "I'm going to make some hot chocolate!  And Aunt Hannah is going to drink some with us; it'll be a hot chocolate party!"
Nell: "And Uncle Andrew, too?"
Aunt Hannah: "Actually, Uncle Andrew doesn't like chocolate."
Nell: "Oh okay, so he will just have hot."

* * *

After spilling some water at the dinner table:
Nell: "I swallowed mine water onto my lap."

* * *

After coughing:
Nell: "Poor Nell.  She's so sick."

After Marie coughed:
Nell {condescendingly}: "Mawee we always cough in our elbows all wiiiight?"

* * *

Sarah: "I need you to sing more quietly, because Marie is sleeping."
Nell: "I'm singin' loudly!"
Sarah: "I know you are.  Could you please singly softly?"
Nell: "But loud is part of the song!!"

Upon examination of the small hole into which Mr. Potato Head's shoes can be inserted:
Nell: "Look Mama!  It's Mr. Potato Head's bottom.  See?  Oops!  Oh no, Mr. Potato Head, you're peein' on me!"
Sarah: {not sure whether to laugh openly or to quietly encourage imaginative play; ended up laughing.}

She is so polite sometimes it's almost weird.

One morning at breakfast:
Nathan: "Did you help Mama make these pancakes?"
Nell: "Yes I deed! ("did")"
Nathan: "Thank you, they're so yummy."
Nell: "Oh thank you Daddy.  You make me so happy."

At lunch:
Sarah: "Would you like some olives with your lunch?"
Nell: "Yes pease that would be lovely."

At dinner:
Nell: "What's this Mama?"
Sarah: "Those are brussels sprouts.  They're sort of like teeny tiny balls of lettuce."
Nell {eats one}: "Oh, I love it! Thank you so so much!"

But there was also this:

On St. Patrick's Day:
Nell: "What is this stuff called?"
Sarah: "That's sauerkraut."
Nell: "Well I don't like this sauercrap."

One night when Nathan walked in the door:
"Oh Daddy yay you are home!  I love you so much in my heart and in my life!"

One night when I had tucked her in bed and lay down beside her for a minute:
"I love you Mama.  I love your heart."

And earlier tonight at dinner:
"I love your hair, Mama.  I love your cheeks.  I love your ears.  I love your eyes.  I love your nose.  I love your eyebrows."

* * *

About ten times a day:
Sarah: "Why are you fussing right now?"
Nell: "Because I love you."
Sarah: Maybe you could find another way to show it?

While I was getting dressed:
Nell: "Oh wow Mommy you are so big.  Wow wow wow."
Sarah: ...

* * *

After she ended up sleeping in bed with us for the third night in a row due to sleeping miserably because of a cold:
Sarah {tired, very tired, slightly exasperated}: "Tomorrow night you need to sleep in your own bed again, do you understand?  This is the last night we're doing this, okay, Nell?"
Nell {snuggled close, her face inches from mine, smiling sweetly}: "Are you so so happy Mama?"
Sarah: "......You're pretty good at understanding emotions, but you're not at one hundred percent yet."

A dozen times a day, while approaching Marie with a stethoscope or other doctor's device:
Nell {ominously}: "Okay Mawie, this is not fun for you."
Marie: {blank stare}

When Nell says "monitor," it comes out sounding like "matador," so "Where is the baby monitor?" is "Where is the baby matador?"  And I usually reply, "Where IS the baby matador?"  Because that is something I would like to see.

* * *

To Marie, after a failed nap attempt:
Nell: "My goodness baby Wee you won't sleep you silly baby!  Yeah Mawie yeah!!  Stay awake forever!!"

* * *

After a sweet sisterly encounter with Ree:
Nell: "She loves me!  She loves me so much!  She was sa-milin' at me!  She's my girlie!"

Out of the blue:
Nell: "I'm strong in my life and in Jesus."

* * *

Sarah: "Nell, you are a sweet girl."
Nell: "No, I'm so so so tewwible!"

Thursday, April 9, 2015

the long winter, and the long-awaited spring

We've had a long winter here.  Blizzards and feet upon feet of snow, and it seemed as thought it would never end.  Weeks cooped up with little ones, yards and sidewalks buried in snow and temperatures far too cold for outdoor play anyway.

It's funny how winter is so much fun at first -- hot cocoa!  snow days!  beautiful flurries falling past the windows! -- and then by March you can just be so done with it all.  Here it is April, and it snowed yesterday.  We were all just rolling our eyes about it.  Seriously, winter?

But we've had a few warm days, too, enough to melt the snow down to brown, ugly grass in some places.  And we have the promise of more warmth to come tomorrow and in the days that follow.

I've been realizing that with the promise of warm weather is coming a sort of warmth to my heart, too.  I felt purpose in doing some much-needed spring cleaning recently.  I've smiled at my kids more and enjoyed their giggles a little bit more than I think I did during the long days of February.  I'm dreaming of long walks on spring and summer days, perhaps ice cream in the evenings from time to time, messy toddler art projects out-of-doors, and trips to water play places where the little ones can splash and we can all feel the warmth of the sun on our long-deprived skin.

Come on, summer!  I can hardly wait!

Monday, April 6, 2015


Happy Easter!

Since Nathan is director of music at a church, Easter Sunday morning found me getting up at 5:00 am, hurrying bleary-eyed children out to the car, and playing my violin in the church orchestra for three consecutive church services.  {Nathan's arrangements were glorious, as always.}  In between playing, I dashed back and forth between the different nurseries the girls were in to check in on them and nurse the baby as needed, and even found a few spare minutes to drink coffee and chat with people.

These sweet kiddos endured the very long morning as well as anyone could expect, and we made it home by around 2:00 for naps {for the kids, although I wished I could take one, too!} and dinner preparations.

As we often are on holidays, we were joined by good friends for food and conversation.  Ten adults, three toddlers, and three babies made for some good old-fashioned chaos.  The toddlers gathered plastic eggs filled with candy, stickers, and other such goodies.

We sat down to ham, potatoes, green beans, roasted carrots and parsnips, rolls, and a salad.  The dishes were a bit mis-matched out of necessity, and I realized as I looked at the set table that it's a lucky predicament to have more friends than one has matching dishes.

For dessert there was carrot cake, flourless chocolate cake, key lime pie, and more.

I made and tasted my first coconut cream pie.  Let's just say it surely won't be my last.

That was our Easter in a nutshell.  Sunday morning the house was the cleanest and tidiest it's been in a while, and now it's quite messy.  We are exhausted and I, for one, am a bit headachy from too much sugar {see above}.

Today, Monday, consisted of the usual post-holiday vicious cycle.  Decide to have a small piece of leftover carrot cake for breakfast with coffee because, after all, it's Easter.  Feel blah after eating said cake.  Resolve not to eat any more sugar.  Drink some water.  A few hours later, reach for a few of those dark chocolate coconut almonds.  Eat a few more than planned.  Feel gross and lethargic.  Resolve not to eat any more sugar.  Repeat, repeat, repeat.  Until all the sugary things in the house have been consumed, I'm sure.

I went for a run to assuage my guilt at eating so many sugary things.  It worked so well, I'll be ready to eat more sugary things tomorrow!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

an ode to my favorite thrift store

Okay, I'm not actually going to write an ode.

Misleading post titles aside, I have a borderline disturbing obsession with my favorite local thrift store, as anyone in this household could tell you.  What's not to love about a place where everything for kids is generally less than a dollar?  Slightly worn Stride Rite shoes for $1?  Yes, please!  Vintage smocked dresses for $0.50 apiece?  Thank you!  Winter jackets for a buck?  I'll take them all!

So, this post is dedicated to a few recent finds from our thrifting trip last week.  Nell was quite pleased to have a {mini Boden, not that the brand matters to Nell} tulle skirt to twirl about it.  It won't fit her properly for another year or two, but that doesn't stop her from putting it on over her jeans and spinning around the living room for now.

Another item of clothing for a year or two in the future.  A sweet pintucked and embroidered shirt from Gap.

The ladies at the thrift store ringing me up were so apologetic that this jacket/snow pants combo in perfect condition, which will probably fit Nell next winter, would be $3 altogether instead of $1 per item.  Weeeelllll I GUESS THAT'S OKAY.

 I know vintage isn't for everybody, but I always feel like I hit the jackpot when I find some lovely little old-fashioned outfit in amongst the Target and Old Navy clothes lining the racks.  Look at these sweet little rompers, that smocked dress, and that blousy little top!  $0.50 apiece.

This little Maggie & Zoe cardigan is a little big on Nell right now, but perhaps it'll be perfect for Easter next year!

And finally, just skip right over this if you're a little skeeved out by the idea of used swimwear, but how cute is this little ruffled suit?

This past trip I was only on the hunt through the kids' clothing section, but in the past, I've also found:

* a Restoration Hardware seafoam green silk queen sized duvet cover in perfect condition for $2.00.  Yes, that's TWO DOLLARS.

* six Restoration Hardware curtain panels for $1 or $2 apiece {I can't remember}.

* a bunch of little decorative ruffled pillows from Pier One Imports for $1 or $2 apiece, which are now enjoying their happy new home in Nell's bedroom.

* women's clothes for between $2-6 apiece, including a few items that have become favorites in my wardrobe.  I got a gray Boden wool peacoat for a couple of dollars this past fall!

* some great furniture finds, too!!

Some thrift stores seem to have unreasonably high prices, and I hate those kinds of thrift stores.  No, I'm not going to pay $10 for a worn out old pair of shoes or $30 for a used coat I'll have to pay to get dry-cleaned.  That stained onesie is not worth $3, and those women's jeans may be Gap, but they're from the 90's and no one wants to pay $12 for them.

In conclusion, dear Local Thrift Store, I love you.  Your inventory is interesting and always changing, and your prices are dreamy.  My idea of a perfect day is one in which my husband offers to watch the kids, I get an iced coffee, and I go browse your delightful aisles without having to worry about my children touching everything in sight.  Just a nice peaceful hour or three to look at all the wonderful things you have to offer.

Hint, hint, Nathan.  I bet I can find us a hundred things we never knew we needed, and all for under $30!