Thursday, May 31, 2007

Quiz time! (I'm totally a copycat)

Pam has been doing occasional quizzes on her blog, and they're really fun, so I'm swiping her latest idea!* She recently listed sets of pitches and asked her readers to come up with names of songs that start out with those pitches. They aren't necessarily in the right key, but the intervals are as they should be. I'm totally ripping off this idea and doing the same thing, though of course I'm picking different tunes. The person who guesses the most gets a prize...I don't know what it will be, but I guess that depends on the winner. I can figure out those details later. Anyway, here are some guidelines:

-Every group of pitches is from the beginning of whatever song or piece I chose.
-There are a variety of genres represented here. In other words, it's not all classical.
-You have until 5pm this Sunday (June 3) to make your guesses.
-Bonus points for thinking of more than one tune for a particular group of pitches.
-Sometimes I used the correct key, and sometimes not (like when I didn't know for sure).


1. EBBA

2. ED#EG

3. E-flat G E-flat B-flat

4. EBAB

5. CGFE

6. GGAB

Have at it, folks!

*It seems this is harder than I thought it would be, so I'm going to include some hints for you. Of course, you don't have to come up with the exact tunes I had in mind. That's part of the fun: finding more than one tune for each set of pitches. In any case, maybe this will help:

#1 is the beginning of a lullaby about four-legged creatures.
#2 is a famous tune from a popular children's show on PBS.
#3 is a theme from a symphony.
#4 is a the theme from a TV show that is no longer running.
#5 is a song from an Audrey Hepburn movie.
The obvious choice for #6 is Yankee Doodle, true, but what I originally had in mind is a tune by J.S. Bach.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Dudes, I'm tired.

I met a lovely woman at the park this afternoon. She has five kids. FIVE. And the first four were all born in the span of about six years.

I know I'm not the first person to be dealing with pregnancy and a young toddler at the same time, and I'm not the last. But I still don't understand how other women manage it. I reach a point of utter and total exhaustion by mid-afternoon. By 3:00 it feels like my bones have all been replaced with lead pipes and it seems like every little thing takes enormous effort, even mashing up a banana for Daniel's afternoon snack. When the kitchen is messy, it's repulsive to me, though I don't have enough energy to clean it. The dirty laundry's piling up and the clean laundry needs to be folded and put away. The bathroom floor is grimy. Daniel's books are scattered everywhere. And yet it seems like I'm working all day, either making food, cleaning it up, washing clothes or diapers, sweeping the floor, getting rid of junk mail, taking care of Daniel, running errands.

The music for SongFest isn't getting any easier, though I'm chipping away at most of it. I have just over a week to finish learning everything, and I wish I had twice that long.

I don't understand how I can spin my wheels so much and feel like I'm accomplishing so little.

Arg. OK, my next post (whenever that is) will be more substantive, I promise!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Harbison Premiere

Just in case anyone reading this will be in the Los Angeles area next month (Andre, that means you!), I will be performing a new piece by John Harbison at Pepperdine University on Thursday, June 21. The concert begins at 7:30pm. I just received the schedule this afternoon and all the performers for that concert are listed by name except me.* And my part is dang hard! Harumph. Well, anyway, it's still pretty exciting to be doing it.

*ETA: I emailed the person in charge of putting together the publicity stuff, and she said my name was included on everything except the schedule she sent out. She's a pianist herself, was sincerely apologetic, and fixed the problem right away.

Monday, May 28, 2007

New Nephew!

This weekend has been really, really great. We had friends visiting from Chicago, I had a lecture recital that actually didn't suck, Stuart's got today off, and best of all, as of 7:30 THIS MORNING (Eastern time) we have a new nephew!! Little Charlie took his time getting here, but is doing well, as are his mom and dad, Stuart's brother and his wife.

I would write more, but I have to fix lunch and do something about the colossal mess that is our house. I hope y'all had a good holiday weekend, too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

7 Random Things About Me

You may have seen this Meme running around the blogverse. No one has tagged me, but that hasn't stopped me in the past! Let's see if I can come up with seven things you don't already know.

7 Random Things About Me:

1. My first pair of glasses, at the tender age of six, were bifocals. That eye doctor was a total quack. Those glasses with their divided lenses and big plastic frames that fit a six-year-old's head, are still somewhere in my parents' basement, I'm sure.

2. One thing that really annoys me lately is people who reminisce about the "old days." You know, how things were so much better a couple generations ago and back then children respected their elders and people dressed better and kids knew what hard work and discipline were, darn it! Please. I know we have a ways to go before we achieve real fairness and equality in this culture, but I would much rather be black, female, gay, disabled, autistic, a single parent, mentally ill, a child with special needs, or basically anything but a healthy "normal" white middle-class male now than fifty years ago. Wouldn't you?

3. That said, I'm old-fashioned about two things, and two things only: I like exchanging hand-written letters, and I cook nearly everything from scratch. I won't make cake from a mix, brownies from a box, cookies from a tube, biscuits from a can, pizza from the freezer or mashed potatoes from a packet. Yuck. The one occasional exception is Annie's organic mac and cheese from the box.

4. In a little over two weeks, I am going to California to study song accompanying with two of the world's best collaborative pianists. I am also in the first trimester of a very unexpected pregnancy, so I'm doubly nervous about several things: I have about two weeks to finish learning a pile of really hard music; once I get there I'll have approximately a day and a half to rehearse over two dozen songs with ten different singers, and that's assuming my flight arrives in Los Angeles on time; currently I can barely function after 3:00pm; I wonder if they'll trust a pianist who shows up to SongFest with a toddler; there are three composers-in-residence whose songs we are all performing and I hope they're nice and not too neurotic...I could go on, but you get the idea.

5. I have never once smoked marijuana, though not for lack of opportunity. I also believe that marijuana should be legalized, and not just for medical purposes. Totally legal.

6. We try really hard to be a green-friendly family. Among other things, we avoid using the clothes dryer whenever possible to save energy. We have a clothesline to hang laundry outside in warmer weather, and several drying racks in the basement for the winter months.

7. Like millions of others out there, I'm a huge Harry Potter fan and have read all the books several times. Yet, I have not pre-ordered or reserved my copy of book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Why? Because my best friend and roommate from college is getting married on the very day that the book will be available, July 21, and we will be in rural Minnesota for her wedding. Don't think I'm going to wait until we get home to get the book, though! Once we figure out where we're staying that weekend, I'm going to order the book and have it sent to [small town], MN so I can get started as soon as the festivities are over.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Here we go again!

I might as well tell you now, and I might as well just say it outright: I'm pregnant. Again. We've known for a month (along with family and a few close friends), and it's still a bit early to make this public, but what the hey. My pants are already too tight, and it will be obvious to everyone sooner rather than later anyway.

I think the easiest way to write about this might be with some FAQs:

Q: Did you plan this?
A: No way, José.

Q: So this is your third uplanned pregnancy? Haven't you learned anything by now?
A: Give me some slack here. We weren't throwing caution to the wind in any way. I had an IUD! Let me tell you, that "less than 1% failure rate" of IUDs seems much more significant when you fall into that category. Given that this is my third pregnancy in as many years, I think we'll need to resort to surgical means of birth control after this kid makes his/her appearance.

Q: When are you due?
A: According to the ultrasound I had today, December 30. That's the day after my birthday, in fact.

Q: So how are you feeling?
A: Physically? OK. I'm not sick, but most afternoons I feel like I've been hit by a truck and can't move. Otherwise? Well, except for being anxious about having not one, but two kids in grad school, unsure how I'm going to have the physical stamina to get everything done, and feeling generally overwhelmed by everything, I'm doing. Just. Great.

Q: Will you finish your DMA?
A: You bet your sweet ass I will. I was planning on graduating in December of this year anyway, and now I have more of a deadline than ever, eh? My plan is to do my final project/dissertation over the summer, and my exit recital and final defense in the fall.

Q: Will you find out the sex of the baby?
A: Nah. With Daniel I opted not to have the 20-week ultrasound, and unless there's some special reason to have one, I think we'll give it a skip this time around, too.

Q: Names?
A: We have some, but it's too early to tell you!

Before I leave this entry to go crash on the couch, I want to share that Daniel has some kind of eery wisdom only a very young human can have. In the last month, basically since we found out, he's become very interested in my belly. He likes to pat it, hug it, give it raspberries; it's like he knows there's something going on. See?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mystery Revealed!

Tooz and Animal guessed right: this patch is garlic!



Not wild, though, as Tooz suggested. I planted it on purpose two autumns ago. The next summer, when all the leaves went brown and wilted, I thought the plants had died and didn't realize it just meant the garlic was ready to harvest and be dug up. Consequently, all those cloves divided and came up twice as strong this year. By the way, fresh garlic leaves are really good diced up and put in salad or stir-fried.

As for the question: what are "old lady" perennials? Gosh, I don't know. I guess that term is a little insulting, so I am kind of sorry I said it. I generally prefer gardens full of wildflowers like daisies and coneflowers and brown-eyed susans, rather than plants that are all leaf and no bloom (like lamb's ear. I'm not wild about shrub-like plants, either (except lavender), though I can't tell you what any of are called or adequately describe what they look like.

And now, just for Oma:


Friday, May 18, 2007

Eye-candy Friday: More flora and fauna

My garden is a mess. Despite the weather being absolutely perfect for going outside and encouraging my thumb to turn a little greener, I haven't had enough time or energy to do everything that needs to be done. Weeds abound, I need to mulch, and I have a parsley seedling that's been lingering for two weeks unplanted. There are also about eight tomato plants for which I have dug trenches but have yet to actually transplant. Part of the problem is that I can't decide what I want, exactly. When we moved here, there were some really nice things in the front yard garden, but also a lot of "old lady" perennials that I didn't like at all. I dug some things up, left other things, planted some herbs...it's as disorganized as it sounds. Another thing is that the garden space in the front is just part of the yard, and it would really be better if the garden part was raised with a boundary (like rocks or bricks or short wooden walls) around it. I'm not sure how to do that without completely ripping
everything out.

And the back? I won't even start with the back yard. I like our yard, but the half that isn't lawn looks like it could be the movie set for "Where the Wild Things Are." Plus, I have a weedy onion patch next to a section I put chicken-wire fence all around to keep rabbits away from things like lettuce, carrots and chard. I'm sure whenever we try to sell this house, we'll have to re-landscape that part.

Okay, enough. This post wasn't meant to bore you with details of my lame garden plans, but to entice you with pictures of what's growing (besides the weeds.) So here we go.

First up, a purple flower that came up this year. I've never seen it before and don't remember planting anything like it, though come to think of it, I sprinkled some random wildflower seeds in that area last year just to see what would come up. Maybe this is one of those. I think this may be columbine, but I'm not sure. If you know what it is, leave a comment, eh?



Next, blooming sage. I put in this plant two years ago. I guess this is what happens when you don't trim it; new leaves replace the old ones on the tough, dried-out stalk, and then you get flowers!



Last, but not least, a patch of...any guesses?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bit of a conundrum

This evening, Daniel and I went to a shindig for the grad students and professors in the piano department. There were some kids there, including the 4.5-year-old daughter of the woman hosting. This child - let's call her "M" - is extroverted, to say the least. Some might say she's bossy and aggressive...what the heck. She's spoiled. I feel bad saying it because her mother and father are great musicians and wonderful people for whom I have a lot of respect and I want to give them more credit as parents.

Of the four children at the party, Daniel was the youngest by far. He was also the only one still too young to understand directions and play with others. The other three, all girls, were involved with dressing up as princesses and playing with ponies, while Daniel mostly wandered around the small area where people had gathered and practiced climbing the steps into the screened-in porch. At one point, M had brought in a pink plastic chair, the kind sized for toddlers, and when Daniel approached it, she yelled in his face, "NO! YOU ARE TOO YOUNG TO BE IN MY GROUP! YOU CAN NOT SIT IN THIS CHAIR!" Fortunately, this didn't upset him, so I let it go.

Later, M brought a doll's cradle full of stuffed animals. Daniel wasn't so much interested in the animals as sitting on the cradle. It was definitely sturdy enough to hold him, but she started yelling at him again: "NOOO! DON'T SIT IN MY CRADLE! YOU'LL BREAK IT! AND MY BUNNY'S IN THERE!!! HE CAN'T BREATHE!" "M," I said, "It's strong enough to hold him. And look, your bunny's fine. Daniel's not even sitting on him." She continued to yell at him before eventually getting distracted with something else and leaving the room. Daniel wasn't upset by this, either. I'm sure it was the first time a kid has yelled at him and there was so much other conversation and activity in the room, he was busy soaking it all in.

M's mother was elsewhere during these incidents, or I'm sure she would have said something to her daughter, even if it wasn't particularly effective. As it was, I was on the verge of saying to her something like, "M, you should say 'please' if you want him to move." I was hesitant, though, because I have never been in a situation like that before, where another kid was being mean to my kid, and Daniel didn't seem bothered by her behavior. On top of that, M is the child of a professor I know and respect, and I was in their home. (Oh, and she's on my committee, too. Did I mention that?) If Daniel would have gotten upset, I suppose I would have asserted myself more. As it was, other people were staring, and one friend of mine said "What do you think about that?" I shrugged and said "I'm not sure what to do. No one's ever talked to him like that before."

I wouldn't want to blame it all on bad parenting. Some kids have more difficult, aggressive personalities than others. Nevertheless, she was acting inappropriately. But if something like this happens in the future, what should I do? Just remind the rude kid how to be polite?

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Proscrastinating

Thanks to Animal for the tag! ('Cause you guys don't know enough about me already...)


A- Available or Single: This one's easy. I have a husband and son, both whom I adore. So I'm only available to Johnny Depp and Mr. Darcy.

B- Best Friend: Hubbo.

C- Cake or Pie: As long as you're talking about homemade, I can't choose...Here's something neat: my brother made our wedding cake and it was so delicious it was gone in about five minutes, all three tiers of it!

D- Drink of Choice: Bell's Oberon, when it's in season. I'm also loving Wild Fruitz these days.

E- Essential Items: Such a broad category! When I'm out with Daniel, board books and a spare diaper. In the kitchen, a good chef's knife and a cast iron skillet. When I'm traveling, a knitting project and a good book. In general, my piano and the Internets.

F- Favorite Color: Red.

G- Gummi Bears or Worms: I like the sour worms. They're great for sneaking into movies.

H- Hometown: Growing up, a small town in central Kentucky. Now, it's Madison. Later, dunno.

I- Indulgence: Yarn, dark chocolate and in the summer, interesting-looking plants at the farmers' market.

J- January or February: Whoever came up with this meme clearly has not spent a winter in Wisconsin. Let's go with February, 'cause it's shorter, closer to spring, and contains Daniel's birthday.

K- Kids: the Danimal, which of course if you read this blog with any regularity you already know, seeing as I can't resist putting up pictures of him on a weekly basis.

L- Life is incomplete without: Good beer, good food, good friends and good music. Not necessarily in that order.

M- Marriage Date: August 4, 2001.

N- Number of Siblings: Nur ein. And he never updates his blog.

O- Oranges or Apples: Fresh apples from the farmers' market, particularly the Empire variety, are far superior. But when it's out of season and you have to choose one or the other at the store, I'd go with oranges.

P- Phobias/Fears: Throwing up. Heights.

Q- Favorite Quote: "Bloody hell. Blimey sodding shagging knickers bollocks. Oh God. I'm English!" (If you're not a Buffy nut, never mind.)

R- Reasons to smile: Naptime, naptime, naptime.

S- Season: Spring!

T- Tag Three: 1) Whoever 2) Wants 3) To

U- Unknown Fact About Me: Wish I had something good to put here, like I have six toes or three nipples, but I don't. Despite being a really terrible athlete (I can't hit, throw or catch a ball to save my life), I'm a pretty good swimmer.

V– Vegetarian or Oppressor of Animals: Mostly veggie, but I've been known to Oppress the occasional Animal in the last couple of years due to pregnancy and breastfeeding.

W- Worst Habits: forgetting bread dough until it gets so big it threatens to take over the kitchen

X– X-rays or Ultrasounds: I've only had my mouth X-rayed, and I hate having ultrasounds. That whole full-bladder thing really sucks. So I guess my answer is neither!

Y- Your Favorite Foods: Homemade tortillas with either refried beans or scrambled eggs and salsa, grilled asparagus, fresh in-season strawberries on shortcake, double-cream Brie on fresh French bread, raw peas from the pod straight off the plant, chocolate croissants from La Brioche...not all in one meal, of course.

Z- Zodiac: Capricorn. We're mysterious, you know.

That's it, folks. I've got a proposal to write. If you do this, leave me a comment so I can go read it!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Nothing like it

There's nothing like sitting at the dinner table and noticing your kid is taking a huge crap in his pants.

There's nothing like taking your kid to the bathroom to change his diaper and realizing it is not contained within the diaper cover.

There's nothing like realizing this by looking down at your own shirt and seeing baby poo smeared all over the front.

There's nothing like changing that diaper and accidentally flinging poo across the bathroom and onto the wall just by unsnapping the crotch of his onesie.

There's nothing like trying to remove an article of clothing covered in poo from a kid without also covering him in it.

There's nothing like taking off your own shirt to give your kid a bath because your own shirt isn't much cleaner than the diaper you just removed from his bum.

There's nothing like being elbow-deep in the poop bucket scrubbing clean the 39485729th poopy diaper/diaper cover/shirt of the day and realizing your back really, really itches.

Parenting? Oh, yes. I love every single stinking minute of it.

Pain au chocolat

Yesterday morning I was struck with a sudden, relentless craving for pain au chocolat. A quick look at my collection of recipe books revealed nothing. There was actually a promising recipe in Home Baking, but it involved waiting 12-30 hours for yeast to ferment and I just couldn't wait that long. So I came up with my own version. My little chocolate rolls were so-so, but I think they have potential, so I'll tweak it in the next few days and share. Oui, oui!

Monday, May 07, 2007

No point in having toys, really.

Don't have much to write about (or I'm just lazy, or sick of writing my craptastic proposal), but I've got some amusing pictures of the Danimal for you:



Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby was today, and I nearly forgot it. It just isn't the same here. At home it's a big deal. People throw parties, make bets, wear new hats, drink mint juleps, eat Derby pie, and generally have a good time. (I've never made a Derby pie myself, but one of these days I will.) Here, it's on TV, but that's about it. Today I saw the last minute or so of the race on a TV in a sporting goods store while Stuart looked for a new pair of shoes, and Daniel wandered around looking for things to pull off the shelves.

That's all I really have to say about the Derby this year, except for one thing: what's up with the winner's name anyway? Hystericalady? How very Freudian (insert dramatic eye roll here).

Oh, and I was so terribly sad when Barbaro (last year's winner) died, weren't you? They tried so hard to save him. What a beautiful, brave animal he was.

ETA: Well, I feel pretty silly. It appears I wasn't even watching the Derby. I just assumed since it was Derby Day, the horse race on TV was the Derby! Ah, well. It was still sad to miss it. And it still bugs me that any horse, Derby winner or not, would be named "Hystericalady"!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Eye-candy Friday: May flowers and more Daniel pictures

Bear with me, but I can't enough of either of these topics!






Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Lactivist...?

The other day I saw a bumper sticker on a mini-van that read "BREASTFEEDING: EVERY BABY'S BIRTHRIGHT!"

I get so annoyed by stuff like that. I'm very pro-breastfeeding for all the usual reasons: it's better for babies than formula because of nutrients and antibodies, it's good for bonding with the mother, it's cheaper than formula, better for the environment, yada yada yada. I'm certainly of the opinion that mothers should assume they will breastfeed their babies unless they find that they can't for some reason (see the next paragraph), and I wish that there would be better breastfeeding support in this country in general. Breastfeeding isn't as easy and natural as you might think. It can be painful at first, not all babies latch on very well at the beginning, there can be duct infections and stress that negatively affect milk production; for these reasons and more, a lot of women give up before they need to because they don't have adequate support and available lactation consultants. It makes me sad to know that there are many women out there who resort to formula before they have to, or because they are made to feel that breastfeeding is disgusting and indecent. It certainly doesn't help that women who breastfeed in public are discriminated against in many parts of this country. (I could go on and on here about our society's unhealthy obsession/disgust with women's bodies, but that's another topic for another day.)

BUT at the same time, saying things like "Breastfeeding is every baby's birthright!" is the sort of self-righteous, even hostile assertion that polarizes mothers and alienates women who don't breastfeed for perfectly legitimate reasons, making them unnecessarily defensive. Like women who just can't produce enough milk, women who have to take certain medications that would endanger their baby's health should they receive it through milk, women who work outside the home full-time and can't pump enough to feed their baby during the day, to name a few. And let's not forget adoptive moms. There are adoptive moms out there who induce lactation so they can breastfeed their adopted babies, but it's expensive and difficult and certainly not for everyone.

Is breastfeeding best for babies? Of course. That fact is undisputed in the medical community. Even formula companies attest to that on their cans of formula, like the blurb on this unopened sample I got in the mail soon after Daniel was born: "**** is a blend of DHA and ARA, important nutrients also found in breast milk that promote brain and eye development. Experts agree on the many benefits of breast milk. If you choose to use infant formula, ask your doctor about the many benefits of ****." (I'm sure the FDA makes them do that.)

Just because breastfeeding is best doesn't mean that formula is bad. Breastfed babies statistically have slightly higher IQs, slightly lower risks of asthma and allergies and a whole bunch of other stuff I won't bother to list here. (Google it, and I promise you'll find plenty.) Unfortunately, breastfeeding advocates, while they're listing the benefits of breast milk, neglect to mention that feeding your baby formula will not doom him/her to a life of sub-par intelligence, hay fever and emotional problems. I'm sure there are plenty of prostitutes and criminals out there who were breastfed. For that matter, I was formula-fed as a baby, and I'm neither a prostitute nor a criminal, nor do I have asthma.

The bottom line is this: a good parent feeds his or her child when he/she is hungry. Would a mother who can't produce enough milk starve her child just to avoid using formula? I seriously hope not. Breastfeeding is not a possibility for everyone and that's okay. Not only that, but breastfeeding, especially very young infants who get hungry every hour or two, can have an incredibly restrictive effect on a mother's lifestyle and it means the non-breastfeeding parent (like the father, but I wouldn't want to leave out the possibility of lesbian couples - this is an equal-opportunity blog, after all) has to work twice as hard to be an equal partner in the parenting those first several months. I mean, sure you can pump breast milk and make someone else feed it to your baby in a bottle so you can go get your hair cut or just have a break, but your body is still on demand at all hours of day and night.

OK, I've blabbed long enough, but before I wrap this up, I just want to say that it took incredible restraint on my part not to make any snarky comments about Dr. Sears. That is all.