Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rehearsals and Reversals

Hello again,

Life has been forging onward in our household. We finished up the week of September 16th with yard work and all kinds of interesting stuff that I won't bore you with because I can't remember.... On Friday night, Dave and I decided to rent a movie. So we underwent a discussion/negotiation where he suggested a certain action/suspense movie and I suggested a certain "drama" (which Dave would call an "undramatic drama"). Dave decided to go with my movie, the "undramatic drama," which -ironically- Dave found to be very good and I fell asleep in. In fact, on any given night if we haven't gone to bed by a certain hour I will just go comatose on the LoveSac. On Saturday night, we rented Dave's movie-- I stayed awake this time but Dave and I both agreed that the movie wasn't so great.

On the 23rd, we had a typical relaxing Sunday: someone came over before church to rehearse a solo I was accompanying for. We went to church, I accompanied the solo, I helped with the run-through of the Primary program during the 2nd hour and then practiced songs with the Primary kids and two small group numbers during the third hour. We raced home from church, made treats for choir, fed the kids lunch, had choir at our house, had our home teachers over and collapsed in exhaustion at the end of it all. Maybe this explains why I'm usually not good for much on Mondays....

On Monday I met with a local voice teacher/opera singer who needs me to accompany her for some opera arias so she can do some "mini-recitals" at an old folks home to get her nerves out before auditions. We went over her music-- including a beastly-looking Ravel aria. It was kind of cool to be doing some real accompanying again, although now I actually have to be able to actually play something that's challenging.

On Tuesday, Dave and I both had come down with a fairly bad cold. Luckily I had the advantage of being able to stay home and be a bum. I canceled everything I had that day and finished the afternoon by watching "The Parent Trap" on the LoveSac with the kids. I guess there are some perks to staying at home. By Wednesday we were back into things. Jared had pajama day at school on Wednesday, then the long-awaited "Fun Run" on Thursday, and no school on Friday.

Dave had been preparing all week for his upcoming trip to Singapore by trying to "get on Singapore time" (translation: staying up until 3:00 or 4:00 am working and still going to work the next day). On Saturday the 29th, Dave left for Singapore. He was a little behind schedule, so the kids and I drove him to the airport so he wouldn't have to park his car. We left at 8:30am for the 45-60 minute drive to the airport for his 10:10 flight -- but first stopped at the bank. It was about 8:45 when we actually left Sherwood to try to make his international flight. But I have long since learned not to stress about petty little details like this. I just go along and see how things turn out. And it turned out that he did indeed make his flight.

The kids and I stopped at Great Harvest bread on the way home and then had a mostly quiet day of housecleaning. I attempted to get Jared and Camryn to clean their room several times, but to no avail. But there was a period of about 40 minutes while Jared and Camryn sat on the LoveSac and Jared read books to her. It was so sweet! Jared was quite impressive- he read "Ten Apples Up on Top," "Look Out, Kindergarten, Here I Come" (from the library), and "The Berenstain Bears Go to the Doctor" all by himself-- with no help at all. It's so cute-- and shocking-- when occasionally they do get along. =] On Saturday evening I went to the Relief Society broadcast and dinner while Jared and Camryn went to a friend's house to play. The meeting was good and it was nice to relax without kids. Jared saw a "Jimmy Neutron" movie at his friend's house and apparently found his new hero. All day at church the next day he was giving out self-made invitations to kids to join his new "Jimmy Neutron club" to meet on Saturdays at our house. He was set with a complete agenda down to the minute: they would play, have snack, and do what they wanted for x number of minutes each (and I'm assuming part of it would somehow be associated with "Jimmy Neutron").

Sunday was pretty much crazy. The choir was singing in church that day. I woke up at 8:30 to get the kids ready and work on choir stuff. I dragged all kinds of paraphernalia to church with me: resonator bells, choir folders, primary book and my folder with the primary program and musical number stuff. Of course it was raining and a bunch of the stuff fell out into a puddle when we got to church. We had a very brief rehearsal before church and then sang our musical number. It went really well, since we had a collective turnout of everybody who has ever shown up once to choir over the past three weeks. =] (Funny how that always seems to happen....). During the 2nd hour I helped run through the primary program in the chapel and I tried vainly to get the kids to actually pay attention when I signaled to them to stand up. During the 3rd hour we rehearsed songs, I practiced with a small group for the program, and then ran back in to go through "Listen, Listen" with bells and "I Know that My Redeemer Lives" with the a different accompaniment with the rest of primary. As soon as church got out, we had a rehearsal for a small group for the program for "I Know that my Redeemer Lives" (which several people forgot about, of course). Then I raced home to get the kids lunch and make treats for choir. It sounded like a great day to make my 2-ingredient pumpkin muffins, but then realized that I had opened a can of Pumpkin Pie Mix, not pumpkin, so I made pumpkin squares instead. Then I hurriedly attempted to find some activities for kids to do inside (since it had been raining for a week straight) before people started arriving.

It was a VERY sad and discouraging choir rehearsal-- only 7 people showed up and two of them were 12 and under. I did eventually get an accompanist about halfway through. We had two not-so-confident sopranos, one EXTREMELY quiet alto, 2 tenors (1 inaudible) and 2 basses (1 a loudly-not-quite-right-on-the-pitch fellow). So the end result is that we will NOT be performing at our next Sacrament Meeting with the amazing ward almost-octet.

So I cleaned up, made the kids grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner and sat and stewed about it the rest of the night. I know it really is partially my fault for being obsessive and having unrealistic expectations about choir in the first place, but it's really frustrating when I feel like I'm doing everything I can to make this work and to make the choir GOOD, but no matter how much I put in, you get the same mediocre result as every other ward choir on the planet. I guess I just hoped that providing babysitting, making treats and making rehearsals move quickly might actually make a difference-- that maybe I would have the chance to teach people to be better singers, to sing real music and to have a quality musical experience. I don't want to give up hope and just accept that ward choir is and always will be mediocre, but it's hard to know what else to do. I am ticked off at everyone for not coming when I'm putting so much work into it, but I know that is stupid because lots of people are doing their best and just overbooked already (But do they think I'm not??? What do they think I do all Sunday afternoon??? Do they think it's easy to clean up my house, make treats, have music ready and have a bunch of people over while I'm pregnant and my husband is out of town???). It's just hard to make any progress as a choir when you have basically an entirely different set of people each week-- you have to redo everything again at the next rehearsal. How am I supposed to schedule a performance when I have no idea if anyone will come to any given rehearsal? GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!

OK, there, I'm done with my rant. So I spent Sunday night writing a scathing email to send to my choir email list-- comparing our poor attendance to offering lame cows and wilted lettuce as tithing-- which I wisely did not actually send. Instead I wrote a much more tame email describing how difficult it was to have a rehearsal with nobody there and could we please really make an effort to come? Despite my attempts to be calm and conciliatory, I had to include my latest poem:

Ode to Choir

Last choir rehearsal was our smallest yet.
We were almost down to the ward quartet
While I know it's tough to get out for some
would it be too hard to actually come?


So I survived the weekend despite my choir trauma and I did get Jared on the bus on Monday and eventually got Cam to preschool. I had another rehearsal with the singer on Monday and she feels ready to go ahead and perform the pieces-- even the horrendous Ravel.

In my attempts to forget about choir during the new week, I decided to instead focus my efforts and frustration on my less-than-tidy house. Where to start? The stinky downstairs bathroom? The pile 'o' dishes in the kitchen? Or the algae buildup on our bathroom sink? Dave suggested a new business idea based on the impressive crew that cleaned out his plane during a stopover in Korea: -- guaranteed to clean up your house as fast as they clear out a plane or your money back. Yes, 10 minutes or less, that's what I need.

So I attacked the house with a vengeance. This was partially fueled by the fact that a friend that hadn't been to our house in almost a year was scheduled to come on Wednesday and she wanted to see all the painting that I have done upstairs. Which would be great except that would require her SEEING the upstairs. Apparently I do have some shreds of pride left, because the thought of her seeing the piles of papers and clothes to be sorted in our room, the scraps of paper and scotch tape covering the floor of the office (along with the masses of random papers to be filed) or wading through the knee-deep toys and junk in the kids room was more than I could handle. So attack I did-- I scrubbed all three bathrooms, vacuumed, dusted, surface-cleaned, got rid of two garbage bags of trash and DI stuff in the kids room, cleared out every pile or speck of paper in our room, removed from the hallway every toy obstructing the stairs and removed all traces of paper and scotch tape from the office. I did eventually get Jared and Camryn to help pick up their room-- using threats of never playing the Wii again. In fact, for all that I was not sold on buying the Wii in the first place, I am definitely getting my money's worth out of it. Jared comes home from school and immediately asks to play the Wii. My response is, "After your homework and piano practice are done." Suddenly he is HIGHLY motivated to do homework and piano and he shoots through them with minimal reminders or supervision.

So now our upstairs is totally presentable and respectable.... and it really doesn't feel like my house. It feels a little bit weird. I think maybe I kind of miss seeing the piles of stuff around. And to top it all off, my friend's daughter got sick so they didn't end up coming after all. So then, my house was cleaned, I was too sick of housework to do any further organization, and I really wasn't sure what to do with myself for the next few days. The other trips where Dave has been gone for a while have been fairly stressful, but this one has really just been boring and lonely (maybe I should have sympathized a bit more when he stayed home while I traveled for two weeks this summer). Not that I couldn't do something useful like organize the things that just got shoved into a closet, but I really have no desire or motivation left. So maybe I just need to wait for a mess to build up and then I can feel useful again?

Dave emailed me Thursday to let me know he'd made it from Singapore to Taiwan and during his one-day stopover there, there was an approaching typhoon. Yes! Would his plane take off? Would he be stranded during a tropical storm? More suspense and excitement!!! He did actually make it on his plane and leave Taiwan. Luckily, Dave made it out when he did-- Taiwan has since been hit with a tropical storm with giant waves, big power outages and four people killed. After a one-night stop in San Francisco at my parents', he flew to Salt Lake to be there for Conference this weekend.

So today, Jared and Camryn and I watched conference. We ate "Conference Rolls" (cinnamon butterscotch rolls) for breakfast and J and C did conference activity books. Their favorite thing was Conference Bingo, so every two seconds they were asking me, "Did they say a word that we can color in?" Camryn was surprised during the first congregational hymn ("Come, Come Ye Saints"): "This is like Woody and Buzz!" [Dave used to sing a bedtime song to Jared and Camryn called "Woody and Buzz" which he sang to the tune of "Come, Come Ye Saints": "Woody and Buzz, they a-are pretty good friends! Woody's a cowboy, Buzz is a space ranger..."]

They were very excited to see Grampa Bruce speak. Jared was particularly impressed: "Grampa Bruce is on TV?!!? How did they do that??" After his talk was finished and the next speaker got up, Camryn asked, "Is he Carter and Madisyn's daddy?" "No," I replied, "their daddy is Uncle Shawn." She answered, "Well, is Uncle Shawn going to give a talk too?" I'm not sure they quite got the whole thing, but they were excited nonetheless. After going stir-crazy this afternoon (Jared couldn't quite figure out why nobody came to his Jimmy Neutron club), we went to Sweet Tomatoes for dinner where Jared enjoyed the all-you-can-eat pizza, jello, ice cream and brownies. And thus our life goes.....

We hope you all are doing well. Love,


Quotes of the Week:

Camryn: "Uncle Nate is my favorite uncle because he always has juice boxes."

Camryn (during the dinner prayer): "Please bless that the machine in Singapore will work."

Camryn and I were looking at a picture of a baby inside a mommy's tummy) Me: "That's the tube that gives food to the baby from the mommy." Camryn: "I see the tube. But don't feed the baby coleslaw."

Jared: "Mommy, you need to cut Camryn's hair in 12 minutes or less so she can make it to the Jimmy Neutron club..... Mom, you only have 11 minutes left. ..... Mom, are you hurrying?!! There are only 10 minutes left!!"

Jared: (about his tinkertoy car): "Mom did you see my invention? I really like to try new inventions." (then later) "Camryn ruined my invention and it was my best invention ever."

Camryn: drew a sign that says: "CROCUDILZNRBIU" (Crocodiles nearby you).

Jared: "No mommy, that's not how you say 'I' in sign language. My teacher says it's this way and she's smarter than you." [Ouch! Um, excuse me?]

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