Filed under: Uncategorized — MamaGeph December 18, 2012 @ 1:42 am
What happens when you drop your blog for a couple of years? For a couple of earthshaking, hectic, frazzled years that you don’t document along the way? What happens is the three or so readers you had stop reading, stop coming around, and it gets pretty quiet. Maybe that’s okay.
After long years of absence, I decided to go back to school and finish my degree. It’s taking a while. You might say I am earning it…by degrees.
So I sit here studying English history, trying to sort out all the Henrys and Williams and Edwards and can’t they come up with a new name for the royal heir once in a while? I contemplate the sad course of Charles I’s rule, the various angry Parliaments and armies. And the Levelers, who had a great idea that wouldn’t catch on very well until a bunch of rabble decided to build a new country on the other side of the sea centuries later.
Wait a minute…the Levelers. That sounds familiar.
*brief pause for Google search*
Of course it does. The Levelers were also an English band I used to listen to.
Filed under: Remembery — MamaGeph December 26, 2011 @ 12:29 am
It was a very different Christmas this year. With the house on the market and the Navy making Mr. MG’s schedule come-and-go, a concerted effort to get some school done, and a my having a hard time getting a grip, a lot of things got left out - We didn’t decorate the outside of the house and the inside was scaled back a bit; I didn’t make any cookies or fruitcake; I didn’t even send out cards.
But the things we did get to were the traditions we love the most. My mother-in-law, who usually has the energy to keep us all on schedule and up on our Christmas celebrating, still had all the energy but was laid up with a badly injured knee. She had to let go of a lot of yearly activities, but we still got to go over and have the Hooligans decorated gingerbread houses with her. Instead of her buzzing around the kitchen for all the candy and frosting, Mr. MG and I did that and she got to sit and enjoy the kids…I think that may be a new tradition, because it was right where she belonged.
This year has been the year of the Nutcracker. We have listened to the score and watched it on Netflix so many times, even Moo can tell you, note by note, what is going on in the story when she hears it come on. I got to take the Bigs to the Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Nutcracker in Seattle. When we went last year I thought we would be moved by now and so it was a little sad to think it would be the last time for a long while. This year felt like a bonus viewing and I just enjoyed the day and let the future take care of itself. As we walked around Seattle Center (after a delicious lunch of sushi) the Bear turned to me and said, “I’m sad to let the minutes go by, because I never want to be out of this day.” We talked about forming memories, and that we can’t be sad as we form them, or we’ll spoil it and end up being sad all the time. And I didn’t even cry when I said it. We watched teenagers dare each other to touch the Center fountain without getting blasted with water, looked in gallery windows, soaked up Christmas-in-the-city vibes, and then got warmed up in McCaw Hall.
As we waited to take our seats, the Seafair Pirates invaded the lobby. They answered the carolers with their own bawdy Christmas carols, yo-ho-ho’ed, and worked the crowd for toys to give to Toys For Tots. The Bear and the Princess both got to chat with them and were handed pirate loot. The entire night was just the way you’d plan if you could think of everything going exactly right. We didn’t even listen to Christmas music on the long ride home, since we were too busy talking with each other. (And Moo was thrilled the next morning to find a stuffed Mouse King – her favorite character – tucked in bed with her. Thrilled…and a wee bit scared of his wickedness.)
All three played in the Christmas recital this year, and the Bigs each performed in a cross-town piano recital, as well. I love that this means lots of beautiful music in my home for the weeks of preparation. I don’t like the preparing for the duets nearly as well…and by preparing, I mean the neverending effort to keep them from killing each other. They have no idea how charming it is to hear them do well together – they are only aware of how WRONG the other is playing. And do it this way. No, I mean this way. And where did Mama go with that big bottle she was carrying?
On Christmas Eve, at the church’s cantata, we got to see my Uncle Floyd for the first time in three years. He came out to visit for the holiday, and it was really a gift. The Bear lit up especially and immediately sat by him. The only downside of his visit is that it makes us all greedy for more and wish that he lived out here.
Christmas Day, we opened stockings before going to church. And I have to say, spending time celebrating Jesus’ coming by getting together and singing and praising in a group was glorious. It makes me wish we did that every year, even when Christmas doesn’t fall on a Sunday. It was thrilling.
Back to the house for present opening, then to my in-laws’ to meet up with my folks and uncle to eat, open more gifts, eat, watch movies, eat, chat, and eat. It was a perfect Christmas, even without lighting up the house or baking cookies. (I’m thinking of a post-Christmas card, though. I can’t help it.) It was the kind of day that makes me weepy that it’s done. Don’t tell the Bear I said that.
A perfect Christmas season of just the essentials.
“…so far my only thought has been to get here; and I hope I shan’t have to go any further. It is very pleasant just to rest. I have had a month of exile and adventure, and I find that has been as much as I want.”
Poor Frodo. He didn’t know he was only halfway through the first of three books and that the majority of his trials were in front of him, not behind.
For months we waited for orders. Then we spent months getting the house ready to sell. When it finally went on the market, it felt a little bit like an arrival, or at least a mile marker. I knew in my head that the economy was tanked and houses were not selling…but it is hard to be patient. My only thought was to get to that point. It is unsettling to not be able to ride the momentum and keep moving us forward.
Frodo was relieved to stop and rest. But for me, I am ready to stop stopping. I am not battling Nazgul, but instead I am surrounded by time that simply can not win against. I am restless and ready for the next leg of my journey.
That’s right – the barn party. It’s as much a part of summer for us as Independence Day. For seven years now, we have got out to the barn to party like it’s 1899. Only with plastic utensils.
Here is what the Hooligans Looked like back then:
(And, of course, Moo wasn’t born yet.)
Now there are three of the little boogers, and they aren’t that little anymore.
My friend, L, and her kiddos got to come, too. Right after we walked into the barn, I turned to her and asked if she wanted to eat inside or outside. I had actually remembered to bring a camp chair this time, so I was gunning to sit in the fresh air. “I think it might rain.” she pointed out.
Dang if she wasn’t right. Not five minutes later, it was a good steady wetting out there and my well-planned chair sat in the corner. But it was wonderful and cozy as everyone sat in the barn to eat together, instead of spreading out all over the place. The downside? Restless children syndrome, since the hay ride was cancelled. Good thing there is a natural climbing area made of hay bales in the back of the building.
It was a wonderful barn party, and a bonus summer holiday.
Also, in the long string of days in which I did not blog was the Bear’s eighth birthday. He was easy to shop for, since he will reliably go for anything having to do with super heroes, computers, robots, or sci-fi. (You can imagine his delight when I explained what Comic Con is, and that we are going to move to the city where it meets. I believe his exact words were, “WHEN CAN WE LEAVE?!”)
He is fierce and springy and vows to conquer the universe on a regular basis, yet he is thin-skinned and temperamental. He wants so badly to be good at all the various sports he throws himself into, but his heart belongs to playing music. When he spent this last baseball season again whiffing pitches and ducking pop flies, I wanted to tell his coach, “Yeah, well…you should hear him play Bach.”
In the last year, with the guidance from his truly amazing teacher, he has gone from being pretty sharp at piano to making teachers and adjudicators get funny, interested expressions. Playing piano is how he burns tension, works out boredom, and flings his overwhelming joy into the world. When he gets home from baseball, he plays a few favorite tunes. He sat down and played for a while when we got home from the family piano recital, for crying out loud. And he burns through sheet music, regularly showing up to lessons with a request for something he heard so he can make it come out of his own fingers.
He takes on grown-up worries, and I have to be careful how I phrase my answers to his questions. When told not to rub his hands all over a telephone pole because of the creosote, he spent the rest of the afternoon convinced he was poisoned and going to DIE. And how many eight-yr-olds worry about having to pays taxes when they grow up? One too many, that’s for sure. And every birthday makes him sad that he will never be that age again, that time is passing way too fast.
He drives me crazy with the noisy, stinky, aggressive boy energy. He worries me with his gothic, dark moods. He makes me laugh with his wry humor.
It’s going to take more than one post to catch up on all the goings on since I stopped by to write. The last few months have been a blur, and it didn’t matter that I have WordPress on my phone – I just couldn’t keep up.
March was chock-full of piano recitals, adjudications, and musicianship exams for both of the Bigs. Adding that into our normal routine made it feel busier than December, and I didn’t think anything could be busier than that.
The Princess’ piano teacher thought it would be a good experience for the Princess to enter our local chapter’s Washington State Music Teacher’s Association’s competition. The winner represents our area at the state conference, but that wasn’t the goal; the idea was to grow her a little bit as a musician by taking part. (A few students – including the Bear – got to play in the non-competitive part of the recital.)
Every one of the competitors was amazing, and the Princess was the youngest by at least a couple of years, so we were floored when she won. Her own teacher was shocked. And as the mama who has pushed and hollered and encouraged and watched her grow…it felt pretty awesome. Like Rocky Balboa pumping his fists at the top of all those steps awesome.
But that was actually the beginning. Now that she was going to to state, she had a lot of work to do to perfect the piece. Notes. Tempo. Dynamics. Expression. Projection. And when you’re done…go clean your room.
To help her polish the piece, her teacher scheduled a master lesson with Dr. Peter Mack, a wonderful pianist and professor at Cornish College of the Arts. We had the opportunity to attend one of his concerts a few days before the lesson, and the man is amazing. What really impressed me at the lesson was his ability to bend my daughter’s iron will and her reliance on habit. He was a brilliant and creative teacher, and budged not one inch. (Under the “it’s good to be a little brother” heading, the Bear got a lesson, too. He had a riotous time, and announced with all the tact of an eight year old that he wished Dr. Mack was his regular teacher. To his regular teacher.)
At that point, it was May, and a month and a half to go until the big recital. But June was actually a month of three recitals; the first featured all the students taught by our same teacher, one was just the Hooligans – a sort of “farewell” concert (even though we still don’t have a clue when we’ll finally move), and then the big state recital. One a week. Furious practicing five to six days a week.
The multi-student recital went very well. The family recital went amazingly.
Then the six-hour trip to Pasco, Washington. The drive over Snoqualmie Pass and through the Yakima Valley was fantastic…and I got not one picture. The gorgeous brown, rolling hills of the valley made me choke up, but I was too focused of the destination to get even one picture. If you ask anyone in western Washington about going east of the pass, they all go “Yeccchhh” but it was so big and grand. I had forgotten the big skies I grew up with in Colorado, and so I was exhilarated.
The Princess was unimpressed. “There are no trees…creepy.” In fact, the closer we got to the next day’s performance, the crabbier she got. No butterflies, no nervousness, just an overwhelmingly tight pair of crankypants. But she insisted that she was not nervous.
She got an allotted ten minutes of time in the practice booth the day of the recital. Later she got two minutes – two tiny minutes – on the actual performance piano to get a sense of the touch of the keys and the room’s acoustics.
Then the performers were gathered and the recital was on. (The film I got was recorded surreptitiously, since I had permission to break the “no pictures, no video” rule by one of the conference’s directors as long as I kept it unobtrusive. The navy couldn’t spare Mr. MG, so the conference director made the decision to “support the troops” in action and not just words. Cool, or what?)
A couple of hiccups, but smooth recovery. Though there were problems, the expression and emotion are light years from the performance that won her the spot in the Honors Recital in the first place.
And, in five minutes, it was over.
Six months of practice and drilling and building anticipation. For her – and for me – it felt odd and a little wrong not to have the goal out in front anymore.
The ride home was so relaxed. The Princess remarked, “You know…the hills with no trees are actually very pretty in their own way.”
I remember telling my hairdresser, “I just had my fifth wedding anniversary!” She was amazed. Compared to the families I knew when I was growing up, that was just a good start. But she assured me it was a pretty long time. And that was eleven years ago.
Marrying that tall handsome man was the most normal, the only normal thing I had done. My friends were confused. My family were relieved. His family…
His family were gracious and kind and didn’t give him grief over bringing home a rainbow-haired hippie girl. And they have become the best second family I could have wished for. I never knew until I met them that I was missing half my relatives.
I had years to learn that an overwhelming crush was a drop in the bucket compared to what was to come. Sixteen years of deployments, growing, fighting, loving, and living. I wouldn’t have spent them any other way or traveled them with anyone else.
I am not a very good Valentine’s Day person. This year, I didn’t even get the required bag of candy and cheap pink-and-white plastic junk to distribute to the Hooligans. I just plain didn’t remember in time.
As we drove home from running club today, I asked them, “What about kidneys? No one has a ‘Thanks for filtering my urine!’ day. It’s so unfair. Or elbows. There is no ‘Hooray for bent arms!’ day. And spleens! There are absolutely NO holidays for spleens. Just hearts, hearts, hearts everywhere. Thpt!”
Then the Bear’s voice pipes up from the back seat, “Yeah! And I love my anus!”
There are obviously things about having a Y chromosome that I will never quite get.
The Princess is in her fourth and final year of AWANA T&T, and has finished her book and is plowing through the extra credit sections. One of them requires that she parent for a day and write about it, and also look up verses that talk about parenting. She has been looking forward to it a great deal.
The morning of the actual day was something very different, though. Here was a Saturday laid out before her and instead of free time and daydreaming, she had a day of work and responsibilities ahead of her. Gee, I wonder what that’s like.
It didn’t take long for the novelty to wear off…in fact, she was in tears before breakfast was served. By the time she got her sister wiped off after the meal, she hollered, “Why does anyone even bother to have children?! This is too much work!” And then it was time for her to get on to the next thing. Her normal Saturday chores, running after Moo, cooking three meals, doing all the dishes, taking care of her siblings’ needs – by the afternoon she had gotten the hang of it and handled everything with grace, but heaved a tremendous sigh and declared that she was exhausted. And that she didn’t want to be a mama for a long, long time.
At supper, I told her why anyone bothers to parent. “Do you see that I have three amazing kids? You are all a ton of work, and I do get exhausted like you did today. But I’m actually very selfish – the payoff I get having you here is so much more than the work.” She didn’t look like she completely believed me, but she smiled.
I can’t wait to read the paper she writes; it is going to be hilarious. What I can wait for are aaaall the verses she is going to look up. Because I know my kid, and she is a researching lawyer at heart. I am soon going to be schooled on how many ways, biblically, I am failing as a parent. And she will point them out with a triumphant fire in her eyes. And I will have to swallow hard and be honest and say that yes, I have a long way to go. And hopefully I will learn a lesson in humility along the way. Thank you sir, may I have another! Sheesh.
That’s quite a lot to get out of one section. Going to have to find some Kevlar before the next one.