Friday, September 25, 2009

Just One of Those Days?

Before I begin this blog post... I just went back and read a few of my most recent posts and it seems like they all have the theme of "here's a blow-by-blow description of my life craziness right now." I'm not sure why I think other people would have any interest in reading this, but the beauty of having a blog is that you can write whatever you want and if people don't want to read it, they can just skip it. So here goes another one of those same type of posts... I guess general craziness kind of is the theme of my life right now, so that's what you get.

Last Thursday was a crazy day... it was one of those days that probably should have left me at wits end, but it came out a bit differently that it could have. I guess the whole week has been a bit busy, as evidenced by the fact that it's taken me over a week to finish writing this post. On Thursday morning I was scheduled to go visiting teaching, have my visiting teachers visit me, go to an OB appointment and do a couple of errands. A lot to pack in, but I'm an organized, "on-top-of-it" kind of gal, right? ;) The woman I visit-teach (an assignment from church where a "companion" and I are assigned to visit a few other ladies monthly, give them a short spiritual lesson and generally look out for) is fairly new in our ward- this was only my second time to visit her. We were having a great conversation and having fun chatting and getting to know each other better so I didn't realize that we were going way over time and I needed to leave. After a hasty exit and a stinky diaper change for Jackson, I raced off to my visiting teacher's house about 30 minutes late. Instead of having time for them to give me the lesson, I dropped Jackson off, rushed out the door, dropped by the elementary school do bring Jared his lunch (which he forgot at home that morning) and raced off to the OB appointment.

While I was there I decided I might as well get my flu shot, but they were out of the vaccine until 1:30, which meant that I raced from my appointment to pick up Jackson, went straight back to the hospital (via Taco Bell, to try to get some sustenance) and got my flu shot. The syringe had a problem with the seal, so the shot splashed all over the place instead of going into my arm and they had to stick me all over again. After my shot, I raced home and got back just as Jared and Camryn were arriving home from school.

On Thursday afternoons Camryn has ballet class so I always end up in mommy-drill-sergeant-mode, trying to get the kids through their after-school routine in time to leave. "Put your backpack away! Eat your snack! Hurry up- a snack shouldn't take 20 minutes! Is your homework ready to turn in tomorrow? Go practice piano!" We were only about halfway through piano practice when I had to stop them and herd the masses into the car to go pick up Camryn's friend and head off to dance class. (Her mom watches my two boys while I drive the girls to and from dance class- a fabulous exchange, if you ask me.)

After dance class we were finally headed back to Camryn's friend's house to have dinner and I heard a huge thump underneath the car. The car immediately started to slow down and make bumping noises. I pulled over and sure enough, the driver's side front tire had blown out.

Now this could have been a disaster and extremely inconvenient -not that the blowout was particularly convenient- but this could have happened in the middle of my crazy morning, on my way home from the flu shot as I was rushing to beat the kids home from school, or with Jackson in the car, screeching to get out of his car seat. Instead, I had just Camryn and Connie, who were both interested and intrigued by this rare occurence: "Cool! Can we get out of the car and see what the tire looks like?" Within 5 minutes two people pulled over to help me change the tire, but I didn't have a spare. So I called Dave- who works about 5 minutes away from where the flat happened and he came and met up with me. Just as the novelty of the flat tire and playing in an empty parking lot where we had pulled over was starting to wear off for the two girls, I took them with me in Dave's car to get a new tire at the tire store (also 5 minutes away)-- which had free popcorn!!! Meanwhile, my boys were playing happily at a friends' house.

Dave put the new tire on the van and headed back to work. I dropped the girls off, skipped dinner, headed to back to school night and then off to a choir sectional and rehearsal while my great friend fed my kids dinner and watched them until Dave got off of work (as previously planned-- thank you, by the way).

So, no, I guess having my tire blow out wasn't particularly convenient. But I still think it's pretty amazing that with all of the things I had crammed into the day, the tire blew out during the one two-hour period when I had nothing scheduled and the only thing I had to miss as a result was dinner.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ward Choir Pick-Me-Up

After having several weeks of marginal numbers at ward choir rehearsal (think 7-8 people at a rehearsal-- that's not even a double quartet! Ouch!) we had a reasonable turnout last week and a really good turnout today. It's amazing how much more cheerful my whole Sunday is when people actually show up for choir and seem to enjoy it. Instead of dreading choir and wondering why I spend so much time on it when nobody even bothers to show up and it's just one more thing on people's schedules that they wish they could get out of, it was fun. We had people come, we practiced, we started sounding good... oh yeah, this is why I actually enjoy doing this job.

Now I am much more encouraged... maybe we will get past just begging people to come and having different people every week. And now planning Christmas music is much more happy... I'm not thinking, "Hmmmm... what can I do when I have different people each week and only 8 people at a time." =]

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

All Before 9:30 am...

Today got off to a rousing start. Camryn got Jackson out of his crib this morning, so I didn't notice until about 10 minutes later that he had a stinky diaper that had leaked onto his pajamas. I cleaned him up and got a new diaper on him but didn't get him dressed because he needed a bath. I got distracted before the bath and when I went to find Jackson a few minutes later, he was at the bottom of the stairs, buck naked, happily saying, "Color! Color!" He was proudly holding an orange crayon that he was applying to the bottom stair post.

After searching for the discarded diaper and any possible leaks we went upstairs and got showered and dressed. I put Jackson in his high chair with some food and settled down to enjoy a little breather during breakfast. A few minutes later, Jackson got upset and started saying, "Nose! Nose"! I looked at his nose-- everything seemed all right so I went back to eating my breakfast. But Jackson was insistent and got more and more upset: "Nose!! Nose!!" Upon closer examination, he had stuck a raisin up his nose and could not get it out.

Luckily, raisins are soft and easily removable with tweezers (although getting Jackson to hold still while I stuck tweezers up his nose was a whole new adventure). All of this was before 9:30 am.... Jackson keeps climbing on me and walking across my arms while I type (now he is laying across them). I think this is my cue to be done. Typing while Jackson is throwing himself at my laptop is less than successful.

Maybe we should can plans for housecleaning and go somewhere with no crayons and no raisins.

Do You Ever...

-distract yourself by obsessively working on a "project" that really isn't crucial (or even necessary) at all, while neglecting to fold the clean laundry that is piling up in the hallway and other important chores?
-stay up way too late on the computer "working" on said "important" project that really isn't important at all? (I could at least just admit that I'm really being lazy and watch a movie or something...)
-have grand imaginations of cooking fresh, delicious, local, seasonal food for your family... and then buy crackers, fruit snacks and other processed junk food because they can be used as bribery for your almost-two-year-old and you are too tired to actually cook?
-feel like you simultaneously have nothing to do and tons to do?
-wonder how over three-fourths of the month's budget got used up in the first two weeks?
-have your desire to spend money go up as the bank account goes down?
-stand next to your almost-two-year-old's car seat while he is screaming and throwing a fit about being buckled in and wonder "Exactly what WOULD Jesus do?"
-wonder why people get concerned about you lifting heavy things when you are 8 1/2 months pregnant when you have to manhandle a screaming and flailing 33 pound child several times a day?
-wonder how many people get a laugh out of watching you spend 5-10 minutes trying to coax your almost-two-year-old into coming before you just give up and lug him along?
-wonder if your two older kids will ever run out of things to argue about?
-wonder exactly how life is going to work after baby #4 arrives?
-wonder exactly what you accomplished today besides going grocery shopping?
-get antsy for your husband to get home from a week-long business trip when he just left this morning?
-finally decide to turn off your computer and go to bed because life always looks better in the morning? ;)

Friday, September 11, 2009

Minor Miracle (Surviving the First Day of School)

Tuesday was the first day of school. In some ways I was glad and in some ways I was sad to have school start again. I am not a morning person so I have always dreaded the morning routine of getting the kids ready and out the door to the bus. This Tuesday was even more hectic than usual because we still had family visiting, the kids stayed up late the night before, etc., etc.

On Monday night before I went to bed, I set my alarm for 6:55- our new wake-up time. But apparently I forgot to actually turn the alarm on, since I was awakened by Dave at 7:15- exactly 8 minutes before the kids are supposed to get on the bus. I shook off my groggy haze as quickly as I could and ran down the hall to get the kids out of bed, thinking "I guess I will have to drive the kids to school today."

I burst in to Jared's room (where Camryn was sleeping also, due to our visitors) to find two empty beds. Slightly puzzled, I went downstairs to try to find them. Jared and Camryn were both dressed for school in a new school outfit, had eaten breakfast and were putting on their backpacks. I helped them comb their hair and then sent them out the door in plenty of time to catch the school bus. Jared had set his alarm and both he and Camryn had gotten up and gotten ready completely on their own. My kids tend to be on the independent side, but I was not expecting this from a 3rd grader and 1st grader.

And so, despite mommy's subconscious attempt to make the first day of school stressful and crazy, I was foiled in my attempt and things went almost as smoothly as possible.

Is it possible that kids really do grow up and learn to do things on their own? Maybe there is hope....

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Getting Through Grunt Work

I've been avoiding my blog recently because of my "must catch up"syndrome. I want to finish some posts about our Alaska trip and some of our summer fun before it is part of the way-too-distant past. But that will have to wait....

I really enjoy when my kids get out of school for the summer. I love the freedom of the schedule, the extra time together, being able to sleep in a little, going for fun outings, etc. But I think it really is about time for school to start again. We've done a lot this summer, but as the summer (and my pregnancy) progresses, my energy is waning. The kids are playing more Wii, we are eating more junk food, whining is getting louder, bedtimes are getting later and healthy home-cooked meals are getting rarer. The thought of having more structure to our schedule is actually beginning to sound like a pleasant change.

It doesn't help that the past few weeks I have been working on several projects for the choir that I assistant-direct. I (and the other behind-the scenes-people) have busy been preparing for auditions, scheduling a venue for our concert, ordering music and getting ready for our fall season to start. The unfortunate lot fell to me to make rehearsal CDs- mainly because I was the only person who had the equipment and know-how to do it (the person who used to make them left the group). So I have been spending hour upon hour painstakingly recording each part of each song, re-recording to fix mistakes, re-arranging the volume (so the part is louder than the accompaniment), exporting the files as mp3s, making a playlist to burn, burning the CDs one by one etc., etc., etc. (In fact, I am writing this post to pass time as I burn CDs.) In short, I have spent the last two weeks of my summer wasting weeks of sunshine on hours of nasty grunt work while my kids' brains are shriveling from too much TV. (To be fair, part of this has to do with exhaustion from pregnancy as well as the typical build up of household stuff on top of the choir tasks.)

Last night we finally had the auditions. It was very encouraging after weeks and weeks of work for what was beginning to feel like a "hypothetical" choir. We had a good turnout and some really great singers to choose from. It was great to see the returning singers at callbacks and enjoy the feeling of being amongst old friends -- some of them I haven't seen since our concert in May. But most of all, once we started singing and this actually became a "real" (vs. hypothetical, "being planned") choir, I remembered why I bother to do all this grunt work up front. There is something magical that happens when you get a group of good singers together and create music. There is such a rush of excitement and energy that comes from being with other people and working together to create something beautiful. Even though I'd had a busy, exhausting day, I felt a renewed burst of energy and enthusiasm for life.

It's always been a struggle as a mom to find the balance of caring for my children -and their practically insatiable demands of time and energy- with taking care of my own needs. Too often it seems that by the time I'm done taking care of only some of my "have-to-do's", my energy is sapped and doing anything interesting, fun or stimulating for me seems like way too much effort than it is worth. My own needs sometimes get pushed so far to the back burner that it's hard to even remember or think of what they might be.

I haven't found any magical answer. Finding balance is just plain difficult and I expect that it always will be... at least for the near future. But when I do get an opportunity to do something that helps me remember or resurrect the non-mommy side of myself, it makes the other responsibilities I have seem like less of a burden and more just like one of many facets of my life.