Saturday, February 28, 2009

Jackson's Words

Jackson is becoming quite the talker. He has said "Ma-ma" for quite some time now. But now he has added "Whatzat?" and "ball" to his repertoire. He asks for things quite proficiently by pointing and grunting [Uuuuuh, uuuuuuuuhhhh!]. If you pick up something he doesn't want, he shows his disapproval by arching his back, throwing back his head and howling. If you do pick up the thing he wants, he rewards you with one of his huge heart-melting smiles.

On Thursday he pointed and went "Uuuuuuuuhhhh" at a basket on the counter. He was (as anyone could see) clearly asking for pears. Unfortunately the pears weren't ripe yet. How exactly do you explain that to a 15-month old? Or the fact that he can't have the glass salt shaker that he is very clearly asking for? Watch out world, the terrible twos are just around the corner....

Not As Bad As It Seemed

So far today hasn't been as bad as I anticipated. Yes, it's only 9:30 am, so I don't want to get too definitive, but it hasn't been bad. Last night Dave got home at about 9:00 pm and I got a chance to talk to him for a while and grumble about how bad my day today was going to be (which always helps for some strange reason). It turns out that he actually isn't going out of town until next week, (this coming week he will still be in town) which for some strange reason makes all the difference in the world.

Last night I went to bed really early so it really wasn't that bad when I had to wake up at 7:00 on a Saturday (typically my one sleep-in morning of the week). I already went and played for my first audition, came back (for a whole hour!) and in a few minutes I'll be off to play my next one. (OK, so that part still kinda stinks.) But, while I was home I did an inventory of our food storage and found that we're actually making some good progress. Yesterday I washed a whole bunch of buckets that I bought on Thursday, so hopefully I can get those filled later today and make some more progress. Hooray for me! And despite the fact that it's chopping up my whole day, I still am getting paid for playing for these auditions, which does make it a little less irritating. (Can you tell I actually got a check in hand after the audition? Which for some strange reason also makes all the difference in the world.)

Friday, February 27, 2009


I don't mean to whine, but my Saturday just got ruined. I am accompanying five auditions for high-school singers (SOOOOO much fun to begin with...) at a high school that is 25 minutes away. The auditions themselves are 5-10 minutes each. I just got the audition times today and yesterday and my schedule is as follows:

8:20 am, 10:20 am, 1:40 pm, 3:10 pm, 4:50 pm.

It doesn't get much crappier than that.

Add this to the fact that Dave worked for a day, a night, and a day straight without coming home to rest starting on Wednesday (yes, it was one of those days again) . Then after coming home last night, eating dinner and crashing, he was back at work at 8:00 this morning. And I found out today he has a business trip next week. More joy. Add my lovely audition schedule and I won't get to see him this weekend either. If I'm really, really lucky, Dave will have to work tomorrow and I'll end up paying out all the money I earn tomorrow to a babysitter.

I know I shouldn't whine. I am grateful in these tough economic times that Dave has a job and earns a living for our family. I am grateful that I have skills that allow me to earn money as well. But sometimes I just need to have a good grumble. Couldn' t the auditions have been 30 minutes apart? Then it would have taken about 3 hours instead of my ENTIRE day. I know, somewhere, you hear the sound of a small, sad, sad violin. Poor Karen.

Product Recall

For Christmas this year I got uncharacteristically crafts-y and made "neighbor gifts" to pass out to some of our friends and neighbors. I gave them a mug with a cute home-made mix for "5-Minute Microwave Mug Cake." I finished a whole pile of these in the week before Christmas, but because of the huge Christmas snowstorm we enjoyed, they STILL didn't get delivered until January.

I had gotten the recipe for the cake mix from an email and had not actually tried it myself yet when I made the gifts or delivered them. I did finally try it myself a little while ago. I stuck a plate underneath the mug at the last minute as a precaution.

The instructions said "The cake will rise over the top of the mug. Do not be alarmed." Hmmmm.... maybe I should have been alarmed. Or maybe I should have tried it first before making 20 of these and delivering them to friends and neighbors. So how do I issue a product recall? Or at least a warning?

Kid Quotes

It's been a while since I've posted about the two older kids. Here are a couple of funny quotes:

Jared: Mom, this boy Jack in my class at school has a "highly sense of humor".
Me: Why do you say that?
Jared: He thought up this joke himself: "One, toot, three, fart."

Camryn: What's "the force"?
Jared: "The force" is when like, you do this [holding his hand out in front of him and making a face] and you can lift things up.
Camryn: Oh, like the Incredibles.
Jared: No, the Incredibles don't have "the force." It's only in Star Wars.
Me: Camryn, "the force" is just in movies- it's fiction.
Jared: Well it could be true. Someone could invent it... or invent a machine to do it.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blown Over

Now that I have my rant out of my system and my psycho week has past, it's time for some perspective.

Observation #1: The name change for a choir was a good thing. The new name is better and more unique. And if I'm being completely honest, it probably wouldn't have been so last minute if I hadn't been so resistant to it at the beginning.

Observation #2: The flier looks much better now than my initial version did. So it turned out to be a good thing for the flier in the long run as well.

Observation #3: Nobody asked me to make the flier in the first place, let along single-handedly revamp it. This stress (like so much in my life) was self-imposed. There were plenty of people who were willing to help me with it if I hadn't been a control freak about it.

Observation #4: I think I sometimes am addicted to chaos, or at least to projects-- even manufacturing it/them for myself so I have a justification for not being perfect in other areas of my life.

So there you have it, Karen's psycho-analysis of the day. =] Right now Jackson is at that difficult stage where he is busy and destructive: he dumps cereal on the floor, he grabs my mouse and starts clicking while I am typing, he throws his food on the floor from his high chair, he opens my music binders and tries to rip music out, he takes off his diaper and walks around the house peeing on stuff until I catch him, he empties the diaper pail (leaving a trail of diapers behind him), he dumps the folded laundry over the stair railing, etc., etc., etc. If I just make an honest-to-goodness effort to do my job well (to keep the house clean, tidy and organized, meals prepared, laundry done) up against this kind of opposition I would (and do) fail miserably most of the time. BUT-- if I have a project!!!- this gives me an excuse for having me house look like it does. See, it's not because I'm incompetent and a bad housekeeper and don't watch my 15-month-old closely enough that my house is messy, oh no.... It's because I'm so busy with other, ahem, more important things, that I just don't have time to get to it. But if I weren't so busy with important things -let me assure you- I would shine just as brilliantly at my housekeeping as I do at everything else that I do. ;)

So at what point do you just admit defeat and say, "You know what... my house is a mess and even when my husband had a whole week off of work we didn't make a dent." Speaking of which, Jackson just walked in brushing his teeth with Jared's Pokemon toothbrush and proudly shaking the bottle of Camryn's fluoride pills. I think this is my signal to go.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Warning: Rant Ahead!

I don't want to let this blog turn into a mammoth grouching session, but the goal of being more positive will have to wait for another day (yes, this is going to mess up my goal of not procrastinating, but just ignore that for a moment).

This last week was seriously insane. Granted, a great deal of that was self-imposed (as usual, I know) but that doesn't change the fact that it was really stressful. On Tuesday night, we had rehearsal for the choir that I co-direct. At the end of the rehearsal, one of the board members brought up that she really thought we should change our name. She had a couple of decent reasons for this, but I personally like our name, had already finished designing our publicity materials a couple of weeks before, and didn't really relish the idea of redoing everything- especially because our first performance of the season was going to be on Friday night (yes, three days later).

Too make a long story short, after a day and half of intense negotiation I was overruled. Our name changed. Which was fine... the new name isn't bad- I actually like it, except that it basically blew my entire week. The new name for our group had an entirely different length and fit on the page. After all of the time spent in intense negotiations, I had exactly 24 hours in which to redesign and print our publicity materials so they would be ready to hand out at our first performance. I know I'm ranting here, but people who haven't done graphic design don't realize exactly how time-intensive it is. Even after I finished redesigning it, it took an additional 2-3 hours just to adjust technical things so it would print correctly (adjusting the margins, resizing for the smaller flier, saving in different formats, test printing, etc.).

When I finally finished it I got a "Hey, that looks really good." Which would be lovely... except that I just wasted my entire week (the week that Dave had off, no less!) on this stupid name/flier/printing drama which could have been entirely avoided if we had stuck with the old name. Doesn't that merit a little bit above and beyond your normal validation for good work?

I suppose a fair amount of my irritation might actually be due to the fact that while Dave "had the week off" with forced a shutdown, he basically worked from home 6 hours a day. Between the two, we didn't get any big projects done, we didn't go anywhere exciting... we just saw a little bit more of Dave than usual. (I know, I shouldn't complain-- that in itself is a good thing. Besides, these days, the fact that he has a job at all is a thing to be grateful for, right?) But it's hard not to lament the uneventful passing of a full week of "paid time off"...

So, here is the famous flier which ate a week of my time. Now would be a good time for validation. Feel free to insert comments about how amazing, beautiful and professional-looking it is and how great I am for saving the group so much money by doing it myself. Any comments about how I really just made it harder for myself by being a control freak about it and not delegating you can just keep to yourself. ;) If you really want brownie points, tell me that you are definitely going to come and see the concert and you've got to have tickets, based solely, of course, on how fabulous our flier looks.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ma-ma's Boy

I meant to write about this a while ago, but I keep getting distracted by other things. When Jackson first learned to babble, all he would say was "Dah-dah-dah." I don't think he connected the word with Dave, but it was still really cute and Dave loved it. Try as I might to get him to say "mama," Jackson was fixated by "dah-dah." Well, about a month ago Jackson finally did it. He said "Ma-ma"! And even better, he actually uses it to refer to me! If Dave asks, "Where is ma-ma?", Jackson immediately looks for me, exclaims "Ma-ma!" outloud, and then dive-bombs in my direction. He hasn't made the same connection with da-da yet, but I'm sure it's coming soon.

He's definitely starting to form an opinion about life. He likes to eat raisins, Craisins and cheese and will "ask for them" by leaning towards them (if I'm holding him) or jabbering and pointing towards them. If you take him a different direction than he wishes to go (such as inside the house instead of outside) he will dramatically throw his head back, arch his back and wail until you take him where he wants to go. Yes, shades of a two-year-old already.... Luckily he is still small and cute and somewhat easily distracted.

Speaking of small and cute, he may be cute, but he's not that small. Last Friday he had a well-baby check-up and he is actually quite a big kid: 33 1/2" tall and 28 lbs 3 oz. (pretty much top of the charts for his age). So yes, he got Dave's genes and all of that food he is eating is going to good use.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Week Off?

This week Dave has the week off of work. Hooray!!!... well sort of. It's a mandatory shut-down to cut costs. (Not so hooray...) And this being his company, having "the week off" means that he only had to go in at midnight once, he only spends a couple hours a day on calls or emails and had one day where he worked 6 hours on a presentation. I guess it makes more sense if you take into account that every week when Dave turns in his electronic timecard (which seems silly to me for salaried employess, but I'm not the boss) it says "40 hours" even though he usually works between 60 and 80. This week, his timecard had "40 hours" in the "Paid Time Off" column. So I guess if you really do the math, it kinda makes sense: he had 40 hours off, so he only had to work about 20-40 hours instead of 60-80. ;)

Should I say hooray? Would you?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Need a babysitter?

Today Dave had the day off of work but the kids still had school (as a make-up day for one of our many snow days in December). I left to take Jared to school this morning with the two other kids in tow so Dave could hopefully catch a few minutes of extra sleep. As we pulled out of the garage Camryn asked, "Mommy, is Daddy old enough to be home by himself?"

Happy Late Valentine's Day

(Dear reader, I warn you beforehand that this post is pretty boring. It is one of those "I'm going to document an event rather than write to entertain" posts. So if you want to laugh, skip to the joke at the end. Or just skip this post entirely. Thanks.)

Last night I started writing a blog post for Valentine's Day (yes, late) on Dave's laptop while he was watching the all-star basketball game. I wasn't really paying attention to the game, but it was still a little distracting. I also started dozing off as I was writing. The combination of the two made me finally just give up on the post. So I'm going to take another stab at my Valentine's pot... even more late this time.

On Valentine's Day Dave got up with the kids and let me sleep in for a couple of hours (which he actually does on most Saturdays, but that doesn't make it any less great... especially for someone like me who is not really a morning person by nature). When I finally came downstairs to eat breakfast, my entire kitchen and dining room were magically clean with a beautiful arrangement of roses in a vase where my dirty dishes used to be. It was a great start to a great day (whoever said housecleaning couldn't be romantic didn't know what the heck they were talking about).

Dave watched Jackson and worked on his lesson for Sunday while I took the two older kids with me to help clean the church (which was actually fun). Then we ran a couple of errands and came home.

After a normal Saturday afternoon, Dave and I left the kids with a sitter and went out. We had an uber-romantic dinner at Panera Bread. (Okay, you can laugh, but we didn't stand in line for 90 minutes like other Valentine's Days past and we had a great table with armchairs where we could see the fireplace.) =] Then Dave took me to see his lab at work. I'm ashamed to admit that although we've been here over 2 1/2 years, I've never seen more of Dave's work than the front desk. He showed me his office, the cleanroom and pointed out some of the features of the "tools" (big machines for manufacturing semiconductors) that he's working on. So often I take what Dave does for granted- it was fun to see the things that he's working on-- and get a small taste of how complex these robotic multi-million dollar tools are.

Every year on the weekend of Valentine's Day our church has a big area-wide dance for couples. We finished out the evening by going to the dance and jamming the night away. For those of you who didn't know me in college, I was really into ballroom dancing and took a class almost every semester. I had forgotten how much I love dancing. We hadn't been dancing in a couple of years and it was so much fun to do it again.

Well, I can see that my second stab at this post did not improve it much. Now that I've written it I don't think there is very much that is funny or of general interest, but since I've already written it I'm going to post it anyway. I do want to have at least one funny thing, so I'm going to throw in my favorite TV quote of the week: (it's from 30 Rock) "Don't tell me you are one of those convenient Catholics that only goes to church on Sunday!" It made me laugh out loud-- doesn't it remind you of how Mormons are too sometimes?

Friday, February 13, 2009

A Happy Surprise

Dave had a business trip on Thursday. He was scheduled for a one-day trip, but found out at the last minute that it would actually be two days. Dave used to travel a lot for his job -for a week or more at a time- so you'd think I would be used to it, but recently he hasn't had to travel a lot and I am a bit out of practice.

Sure enough, on Thursday night after I fed the kids dinner I found myself wasting time on the computer, trying to get up enough energy to put the kids to bed. Even though Dave often gets home late from work, I always look forward to seeing him when he gets home. If I was being honest with myself, I was lonely and missing him, feeling sad and sorry for myself that he was going to be gone for two whole days.

I heard the front door open and felt a twinge of irritation. "Jared and Camryn know they aren't supposed to open the front door without me," I grumbled to myself. Then I heard footsteps coming up the stairs- footsteps that were much heavier than Jared's or Camryn's. It was Dave! He had decided to come home early and just skip the second part of his trip. I was so excited to see him- and to have him come home at the exact moment when I was missing him. Skipping the second part of his trip meant he had to stay up practically all night to prepare something to make up for his absence. But (call me selfish), I had my husband back. =]

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Postscript to "Oh, What to do?"

I promised my next post would be positive, but I had to finish the story. While I was writing my last blog post, I had Jackson locked in my office/bedroom with me (he hasn't figured out how to open doors yet). After he got bored with pulling papers off my desk and dumping the file cabinet, he went to my bedroom door and started whining and crying because he wanted me to let him out. I was too tired to deal with it, so I just kept writing my blog post.

After a few minutes, he stopped crying, so I figured Camryn must have opened the door for him and let him come play with her. A few minutes after that it was REALLY quiet, so I started to get worried and decided I should go check on him. I went out of the office, calling for Jackson, but to no avail. I saw that my bedroom door was still shut. My heart skipped a beat as I realized Jackson was "missing" but shouldn't have been able to get out. Then I looked down and saw that he had cried himself to sleep and was fast asleep on the floor next to the door.

I am not a very outwardly emotional person, but I almost started to cry. It was an odd combination of feelings: relief that Jackson was OK, still more relief that he was finally taking a nap so I could have a few minutes of peace, and also a flood of regret and guilt that I had let my little boy cry himself to sleep while I was blogging. Yes, I really was feeling at the end of my rope and yes, I really did just need a few minutes of a break, but I still felt sad. So often as a mother I feel like even when you give your all it is never enough. When I have a moment like that, seeing my perfect little boy peacefully asleep, it makes me wish that I could be just a little bit better and have a little bit more to give.

Oh, What to Do?

I think my blog is starting to sound negative. After I write this rant, I will write a whole cheerful post, just to prove I can do it. But for now...

Jackson wakes up every morning at 5:00 am. He usually can be persuaded to go back to sleep. Today he could not. I am tired. (Too tired to be clever in how I write that.) He is an adorable boy, but he is finding his temper (think THROW his head and arch his back and whack himself into whatever thing is nearby and blame it on mom). He loves to empty the dishwasher. He takes out items- usually glass dishes- and carries them around when I'm not looking. He climbs on top of his train table. He picks up wooden trains and hucks them at the wood floor. He crawls behind my computer and tries to unplug the cables. He doesn't like to sit in shopping carts anymore. He dumps my music books and rips the pages. He won't eat what he used to eat- he throws his string cheese, bread pieces and Cheerios on the floor. He naps for a grand total of about 40 minutes daily and goes to bed after my older kids.

He is beautiful and wonderful and adorable... but I'm losing my mind!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Could Be Cleaning My Bathroom Right Now...

or ironing the pile of shirts that is hanging over the railing of my upstairs hallway. Or vacuuming or paying bills or any number of useful things. But instead I am going to blog. And feel guilty about it the whole time.

The past week I have been working obsessively on the choir for which I am assistant director. I am really excited about the music we are singing and the group of singers we have, but I'm getting to the point where I need to force my borderline obsessive/compulsive personality to cut back. This is turning into a 30-hour-a-week job.... A lot of the time I love everything about it and I can hardly contain my excitement for it. But then I have moments where I think, "What have I done? What on earth could I possibly have been thinking?" Kind of like being a mom....

Which brings me back to my point. As tempting as it may be to linger on the musical possibilities of "Dirait-on", "Prayer of the Middle Ages" or the AWESOME vocal jazz piece we are doing, I realized yesterday that it had been several days since I had even really attempted to do laundry or dishes and the piles were growing. Rapidly. This doesn't even begin to describe the neglect of my bathrooms. Meanwhile, there are choir administrative details that need to be worked out, music to be practiced, music students to be taught, errands to be done, bills to be paid, a 14-month-old who decided to quit sleeping through the night and host a part every morning at 3:00 am (Maybe Matchbox 20 had him in mind with their song: "It's 3 am and I'm lone-ly!), food to be made and cleaned up (always!) and countless other chores in varying states of un-done-ness.

I sometimes wonder if it is just my personality or an inherent part of being a mom, but so often I feel pulled in a million different directions, almost like I'm being ripped apart. There are way too many things that you care about (and want to care about but don't have enough energy left over to actually care) and not enough energy to tend properly to any of them. It's like this comic play of impossibility: if you do a good job at one thing it's impossible to simultaneously do a good job at the other. The result is that I feel fragmented, sloppy and half-baked -- and probably look that way most of the time too, to be honest. So I manage by juggling: tend to choir until housekeeping is about to fall off the cliff, then chuck the choir ball in the air and tend to housekeeping until the kids ball is about to drop with a thud, grab that ball while hurling the housekeeping ball in the air and hope it stays up long enough for you to tend to the other things before someone calls the health department and reports you.

OK, now I'm rambling, so I might as well ramble about something else. I am way too self-critical. I obsess over whether I doing a good enough job as a conductor, as a piano teacher, as a mother, as a housekeeper (OK, well probably not that one. That's pretty obvious). While I am on the topic of self-criticism, why do I feel a need to ramble about my insecurities in a completely public forum? I guess it's like Crocodile Dundee when she tells Mick about a guy seeing a therapist. He says, "Don't you have mates? If we have problems, we tell Wally. Then Wally tells everyone else. Then it isn't a problem any more." Maybe I should rename my blog "Wally."