Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Music right now

Brynn had a recital in May.  I can't remember if I've said much about piano since I quit teaching, so here we go.  I've been teaching since I was 16 (with a short hiatus right after we got married).  I love it.  It energizes me.  It keeps me involved with music.  But while I was pregnant with Camille, our life had gotten completely crazy and chaotic.  Not many-kids-running-around-chaos, more like remember-when-we-used-to-be-married-and-have-family-dinner chaos, and I was so not ready for that.  I had never ever felt like I didn't want to teach any more, but that's when the feeling finally hit.  I was burned out.  Plus, I was doing a horrible job teaching Brynn and I never wanted to be that piano teacher, whose own kids don't play.  I felt really good about the decision, and a year later I still feel good about that decision.  But I was emotional about it for, like, weeks.

Anyway, Brynn and I had a great year of piano together!  When Marty and I were engaged, he mentioned how great it was that we'd never have to pay for piano lessons since I could just teach our own kids.  I informed him that I would not be teaching our own kids.  I had heard so much about how hard it is, I didn't even want to go there.  But now that I actually have my own, I really want to teach them!  So I'm learning some things.

The pros:

  •  I can give her hugs and kisses during the lesson (which I've often been tempted to do, but it's not quite appropriate with other people's children!) 
  • I get to be in control of what and how she is learning.
  • We bond.  She has told me many times, in a sighing, Brynn type of way, "I'm so glad you're my teacher!"
  • I don't need to have a panic attack if we have an unusually busy week.  I just decide we will have lessons two days later than planned and give her a little extra time to practice.  Or if someone is sick on lesson day, we can just try again the next day and don't have to wait a full week for the next lesson.  Also, if the songs were easy and she's got them down in two or three days, we don't have to wait around.
  • I know the songs well enough that I can be making dinner in the kitchen and yell to her in the other room, "You're missing the "A" in the second measure!  And it's an eighth note!"  Which probably doesn't drive her crazy in the least.
  • I get to do all the shopping around for her music (I love shopping for music).
The cons:
  • After pushing her to do her chores, her reading, her homework, and everything else, sometimes I'm totally out of patience.  At anyone else's lesson I'm probably one part "strict teacher" and two parts "smiliest human being ever".  But at her lesson, "strict teacher" comes across as "mean mommy who is mad at me."  Partly because she's sensitive, and partly because I'm mean and mad because I know what she is capable of.  I've already made her cry a number of times.  But after the first few instances of losing patience I am making an extra effort to just go deeper into the Mommy Patience Well and we are adjusting to each other just fine.
  • The bad part about being able to push a lesson back a few days is that it's all too easy to push it back a few weeks. Yep, we've done that.
  • If I don't have any other students, it makes for a very small recital!  I was probably as worried about this as anything else when I quit teaching.  But a piano teacher moved in just behind our house (seriously, I think I prayed her here), and she has been gracious enough to let Brynn play at her last recital!  
Bryce has been observing all of this piano business closely.  As I've mentioned before, he is convinced that he and Brynn are the same in all respects and should be in the same phases of life at all times.  He has been begging me for lessons, but I keep telling him he had to wait until he started reading.  So he started learning how to read and he informed me he could now start.  Then I told him he had to wait until he turned five.  So he turned five, and he didn't forget!  So, I've started teaching him, too.  He's lucky, because I'm sure I'll be much more consistent with his lessons than I was with Brynn's in the beginning (now that I have two of them to remind me!).  Actually, I have two pianos.  I have the one I played on when I lived at home and one I got at a garage sale for $50.  I originally bought the second so that I could get my older students judged on concertos, but apparently the NFMC doesn't do that in AZ.  So it hasn't gotten any use until now!  It needs lots of work, but Bryce call's it "my piano" and often I'll have them both going at once just one room away.  It's loud, but it works just fine for me because it turns a potential piano-dedicated hour of my day into a half hour.  Anyway, he is doing great!  I'm taking it slow with him right now and having half-sized lessons and practice, but he has stayed really focused for a five year old boy!  It's another one of those times I stop cursing his determination and remember to embrace it.  

And I'm still plugging away at organ, playing some classical music about once a week, and my violin has gathered dust for about six years now (so has Marty's trombone).  So that is where all of our music is at!  We have lots of dreams, but "quiet time" is wrapping up at our house, so the dreams will have to wait to be recorded...

Water day in May

 Here is our first water day of the season; this year we made it until May!  We didn't have a kiddie pool yet, so we just played in the sprinklers and water table.

Here is Camille taking a step or two before she chickens out and get back to her hands and knees.  Well, hands and feet actually.  She has started mimicking Bryce's hilarious bear crawl.  She doesn't get quite up to the speeds he did, though!

She was perfectly happy and content.  Even while getting trampled and splashed in the face, and even when everyone else had started getting chilly and came in for baths.  She is always up for anything - as long as it includes Mommy!

 Who knew milk cartons were so fun?


A year later, I finally have a new camera.  Just a little point and shoot, but it's better than my phone.  These pictures are from Mother's Day when Marty gave it to me and I was messing with it.

Now that I'm looking at these next few, they must be from another day.  Anyway, Gabe has been doing a LOT of this lately.  Playing with his planes next to me while I do the dishes.  Bubbles make the perfect clouds.  And I'm ok that I went through more than the average amount of dishsoap last month. :)

Bryce's preschool graduation

This little boy has come a long way.

From last year's Mommy School here
and here.

To this year's formal preschool with Mrs. Hatch.

And now he's "graduated" and all ready for kindergarten!  

During his 3 year old preschool at home he was a challenge.  But I think that's mostly because he needed to be challenged.  Don't get me wrong, I totally loved our year together in Mommy School, but he needed a little something more the next year.  Mrs. Hatch was amazing and seemed to pick right up on his personality and what he needed. Right off the bat he loved going to preschool, but he was pretty annoyed at ever having to color!  But by the end of the school year he was doing first grade homework - and loving it!  I would have him and Brynn do their homework together and if he happened to not have any, he would ask me to make him some.  His reading totally took off.  By Christmas he had read all of the books in the classroom, so for Christmas he got three new sets.  He's always been so smart and determined, I'm so glad he found someone who could understand his personality and train him so well.  Not a single "yellow" day all year!  Ok, I'm done bragging now. :)   

"Bryce, I'm so proud of you!!"  I tell you, I love their relationship.

After the program, Gabe wanted a turn to sit in Bryce's seat with the hat and feel important.

We love you, Mrs. Hatch!
 Toward the end of the year, we couldn't even talk about graduation, or how far Bryce had come because we would both get so weepy!

I am so going to miss riding our bikes to preschool together with the babies in the trailer, and pretending I didn't know where preschool was so that he could be the leader (at his request).  

Congrats, Buddy!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

To all the men in my life

This is the story of a late bloomer.  I had a pretty charmed childhood.  I grew up with seriously loving parents and two older brothers (read: I was spoiled).  I was happy then, I was happy as I grew up, and I'm still happy now.  But middle school was a major bummer.  I spent an entire term eating lunch by myself in a bathroom stall because I was too embarrassed to eat at a table by myself.  I had headgear, baby fat that made me look younger than everyone else, and I couldn't figure out what to do with my wavy hair.  I know now that I'm not the only one whose self-esteem plummeted in sixth grade!  But it didn't feel like it at the time.  Enter the men in my life:

I have three uncles that I love with all my heart and have all been so good to me.  One lived across the country, but on the rare occasion we saw each other, he was always so kind to me.  He even took time out of his hectic schedule to show me the sights.  Two of them lived in Utah and I saw them often.  One of them called me Beautiful, Princess, Gorgeous, and he never stopped complimenting me, and he gave the best hugs.  The other uncle, oh that other uncle.  He teased me to no end.  If you've grown up as the youngest and the only girl, one thing is for sure:  teasing is your love language.  I'm not kidding, I loved being teased by him.   He made me laugh, he made me feel special, and in the end he made me feel cool that we could tease each other.

I had two Grandpa's, also living in Utah that I saw often.  One told me I looked like a movie star, called me Em and Emmy, and...teased me!  He stole food off my plate and ate it.  Yep, I felt completely special and loved when he did that.  The other Grandpa used to look me right in the eye, rather intensely, and say, "You're a beautiful girl.  Don't let anyone ever tell you you're not."  He kept my picture in his wallet and bragged about me to anyone and everyone.  He held my hand firmly in both of his and told me, "You're my special girl."

I had two brothers who, you guessed it, teased me.  Not awful, mean teases, but teases with a laugh and a smile at the end to say "I love you" since we've never been great at that.  To this day, it is still very much our love language.  I felt like their project.  They introduced me to classical music, Nova, classic literature, and rejecting something when it's overly-popular. They worked hard to mold me into my best self!  By the time I was a teenager, I was still putting my head on their shoulders on long car rides.  And if ever I needed attention, it just wasn't very hard to get.  I was under the impression that through those icky middle school years, they still thought I was "cool."  Looking back, I suppose they probably weren't fooled, but I felt like they were.  Once again, I felt like I was loved and special.

And then there was my Dad.  Has a dad ever loved his little girl as much as mine did?  As embarrassing as it was for my friends to hear him call me Emmy-B, BB Doll, BB girl, and Sweet Pea, I loved it when no one was around. :)  We cuddled, we talked about serious things and chewed the fat about other things.  He seemed to have unlimited time for me.  I knew he had to work long hours sometimes, but I never have any memories of him being "too busy for me," he was always just available.  He thought I was the best, the brightest, and the prettiest, even in middle school.  We went on dates regularly.  Sometimes to Old Time Fiddlers and Jamba Juice, and sometimes to fancy restaurants.  He opened all doors (including the car), pulled out my chair, helped me with my coat, and asked me about my life.  He has always treated me with total gentleness and love.

It seems like Heavenly Father placed me with a bunch of amazing men, all within one hour drive, and that I was given everything possible to overcome how I felt about myself in those few years.  Because what I felt about myself was...not good.  I'd rather not go there.  But when I really thought about it, deep down, I must still be special and loved, right?  I mean, they all showed me I was all the time.  I know this all sounds dramatic, but to a pre-teen it was.  So I went through those years able to push away doubts, knowing that because these amazing men loved me and thought I was special, it must still be true.

Thank HEAVENS middle school doesn't last forever, right?  Fast forward to college and dating.  I had a lot of fun dating.  I wasn't on a mission to be married by 21, but I was considering it.  I dated some keepers, some really, really good guys.  But my poor future husband - I was looking for all of the above mentioned qualities I found in those men, all rolled up into one!  I was looking for teasing and laughs, gentleness and manners, and love.  And even more.  I cannot believe I actually found someone who measured up!  But he did.  Here came Marty, and somehow, he is all of those men in one.  He is infinitely patient with me, and kind, and gentle, and makes me laugh, and tells me I'm beautiful, and gets my doors, and takes me on dates, and asks about my life.

And now when I see him interacting with my daughters, I know that they are very, very lucky girls.  Because if, heaven forbid, they ever go to middle school, they will be just fine.  They'll be surrounded by amazing men who will stop at nothing to teach her that she is loved.

I love you all, you know who you are!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

In my 30's

(On my birthday)

Here it is, I am officially in my 30's.  I have suddenly been overwhelmed with gratitude when I realize that if, when I was 19 and could look into my future, what I would see is exactly what I would expect and want and hope for.  Overwhelmingly, my 20's were so, so good to me.  I can't say I was always good to them.  There have been lots of times in the last few years that I've realized the toll it takes on a person to ignore your own health, physically and emotionally.  I thought it was a good sacrifice, but I'm learning that with so many little people depending on me, the best way I can take care of them is to take care of myself first.  But life is actually long, and I have time, and am taking the time, to always improve. I want to make an "in my 20's" list, and I do so at the risk of it sounding completely ridiculous.  My natural instinct will be defensive when I see "snuggled with my newborn all day" up next to "pulled off a great Battle of the Bands" event.  Because even though the snuggles seem small, they are everything to me.  The real meat of my life is found in my every day as a mom.  But how do you list that?  Anyhow, here we go.

In my 20's, I...

-On my 20th birthday I was treated to a yummy Cafe Rio salad from the cute blonde-haired, blue-eyed guy who I didn't know if I was seriously dating (funniest DTR ever)
-joined UVSC's student government, and subsequently dropped out of the Miss Orem pageant knowing that I couldn't do both and the scholarship that would open the most opportunity for me would be ASUVSC.  It was so so hard, but I had never grown so much for one singular responsibility.
-I was on student council, Institute council, in the Relief Society presidency, and in three performing arts groups.  And had a part time job and more than a full load of classes.  All in one semester.
-slipped off the Dean's List 
-put on my very first school wide event, the longest. event. ever. (Lord of the Rings marathon, believe me when I say that event was not my choice)
-knowing it was my last year to get ready for the mission (and knowing I was too young to get married), I broke it off with Marty. 
-That summer was full of MRIs, a cerebral angiogram, and surgeries (sounds worse than it actually was).  After one of those, I had left my car in Orem and got a call from a friend letting me know it was vandalized and totaled.  I fixed it up, but it would be totaled again just a few months later when I hit a cow in a rainstorm.
-For about a month I held my most hated job ever, in the call center at myancestory.com.  But I rocked the house and made BANK in just that one month.
-In the fall, our little student government made national news again and again for our controversy over Michael Moore, which I can't possibly explain right now (I showed up in a documentary about it that Marty and I rented from Netflix!).
-Also that fall, I had an uneasy feeling about my life.  I "got away from it all" when I went with my mom to Virginia and came to the conclusion that I would be making a huge mistake if I let Marty slip away.  
-It took me until December to finally say good-bye to my dream of a mission and go crawling back on my hands and knees to Marty.
-Meanwhile, some events I headed up were UV Unplugged, Fine Arts Week, the UVSC Film Festival (and my first serious threat at getting sued - just Moore controversy, haha)...and I cannot believe I can't remember the others...
-Traveled to Reno for the NACA conference and VA
-Officially got back with Marty at Christmastime and decided he was the one.  Without a doubt. 
- I got engaged on my 21st birthday in the amphitheater right by the Mount Timpanogus Temple.
-I said a very sad good-bye to all of my piano students and took a job at the PGM call center right near UVSC .
-spent a wonderful few days in Boulder for My Grandpa's 80th birthday party with ALL my family.  And two weeks later...
-I went through the temple for the first time.
-And on August 4, 2005 I married Marty (no big deal)
-I started doing the things I'd always found unpleasant.  I stopped living off of trail mix and started grocery shopping and making dinner sometimes.  I still found it all so tedious.  I didn't get home from school/work til late.  We didn't eat the healthiest.  
-We were on the Married Institute Council and put on a dinner/fireside event once a month.  
-We went to the temple every week, never missed once.  
-Sang back up for some of Kurt Bestor's Christmas Concerts.
-Had my hardest and most rewarding school semester thus far.
-In a two week period: graduated, found out we were pregnant, found out Marty was hired to teach seminary, and shortly after that we found out he'd actually be teaching in Gilbert. AZ.
-Went through one of the most traumatic periods of my life during my crazy-severe hyperemisis with Brynn's pregnancy.
-I had four pregnancies, four babies (again, no big deal)
-Lived in two different houses in AZ
-Became a landlord (UGH)
-Traveled with Marty to:  Utah, Idaho, Albuquerque NM, Grand Junction and Durango CO, Bristow VA, Washington D.C., Las Vegas NV, Seattle WA, Fairbanks AK (twice), Missouri, Nauvoo IL, WY, NB, CA, Mexico, Grand Canyon and all over AZ.
-Got my piano business chartered with the National Federation of Music Clubs.  Taught piano in AZ for 7 years and then gave it up last year with a very heavy heart.
-Served in Primary, Relief Society, Young Women's, learned to play organ and direct a choir, played violin in the Messiah and then let it collect dust for 7 years.
-Learned to live with pain on a daily basis
-Read somewhere around 360 books (if I've read 3 a month for the last 10 years), and tried hard to keep learning, and learned that learning takes more discipline now than it did in college since it has to be completely self-motivated.
-Memorized all the major AZ roads from West to East and North to South, learned how to survive in "excessive heat warnings," that if you leave flip-flops out in the summer they may melt, what "heat sickness" feels like, that the only way I can survive this crazy desert is to go somewhere in October, that babies seem to change way too fast when my parents miss a milestone, what it feels like to cry for an entire morning when my mom leaves the state way too soon after she meets my newborn, but that - heck yes, I can bloom where I'm planted!
-Spent 90% of my daytime (and sometimes nighttime!) of my last 7 and a half years with some of the most amazing, lovable, and yummy little kiddos ever.  And taught 4 to sleep through the night, 3 to use the potty, 2 to play piano and read, 4 to love each other, 3 to say Jesus (Camille's still getting there), 4 to say ma-ma first, 4 to fold their arms for prayer, and so on and so forth.
-Memorized the Lorax, among many other children's books, from beginning to end
 -Somehow managed to learn how to: get gas out of newborns, drive a van, paint a house, mend a suit (sort of), get various stains out of clothes, change freeways, grocery shop, cook cheap, then cook healthy (next up: cook cheap and healthy), get a family of six out the door to be at church at 7:45 a.m. (playing prelude for 8:00 church is a bit of a blur for me).  
-Fallen more in love with my eternal companion:  Cheered him on when he got his BS and then MA, learned how to be more selfless and how to watch from the sidelines, and how it usually feels better to just admit I was wrong already, and how fairy tales actually do come true sometimes.

So, it's fun to see my life change.  The biggest theme I see is turning my focus from myself to my family.  To me, that is a life that is fulfilling.  I'm lucky to have had so much happiness and so many blessings in my 20's.  I guess time really does fly when you're having fun!