Friday, January 29, 2010

sunshine and static

My big plans for yesterday were to go to the grocery store because we were running dangerously low on vegetables, coffee and toilet paper. I'm not sure which of those things would be at the tip-top of the priority list, honestly. Probably the coffee. Anyway, just as I was going to get us ready to leave, a friend called out of the blue to say she was going to a local yarn/coffee shop and would we like to meet her there? I thought for a minute. The kids were coughing too much to play with other kids, but finally well enough to venture out of the house. Was it okay to go to a café? Could I make a reasonable dinner out of what was left in the fridge? Yes, and yes, I decided. So we went and had a lovely time.

(Anya and I went for groceries this morning while Daniel was in his preschool class. We are now well-stocked and will not be forced to forage outside under the snow for dried leaves if the current roll of TP runs out...)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

today i am wearing earrings

I am wearing earrings today because if I don't look a little nicer than usual, even if it's for no one other than the computer screen, I just might lose it. Daniel has been sick for almost a week, which means we've hardly left the house, the TV has been on far far too much, and I'm coming to the end of my rope. I'm taking him to the doctor today, where I have promised him he will not get any shots (the flu vaccines really made him anxious this time around), but they will probably swab his throat and that will be pleasant for no one. For the last week I've had my hands full with a sick kid and no chance to practice or socialize or even go out for coffee, so who's to blame me if I want to dress up just a tiny little bit? Don't get me wrong; right now I'm really grateful that I'm in a position to take care of him without worrying about eating up sick days at a paying job. Yes, I've had to cancel several rehearsals and coachings already, but everyone has been very understanding.

ETA Wednesday: Diagnosis: ear infection! Well, at least that's easy to treat. And I don't know why, but kids seem to love that gooey pink medicine.


We have come to that point when winter is almost unbearable, though I imagine this will get easier as the kids get older and more robust. It doesn't matter how much you bundle up little Anya; she never lasts more than 10 minutes in the cold. This year, already, Daniel has enjoyed several sledding hills in town, like last week when we went out with his buddy Ben. If you follow Mad Knitting, you've already seen these pictures, but I like them enough to post them again:

If we stay in Wisconsin (who knows if we will at this point, but that's another topic for another day), I look forward to sledding bigger hills and ice skating at the makeshift rinks that appear at many of the local parks and ponds, and maybe even giving cross country skiing a whirl. I might eventually be able to embrace winter up here.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


As Anya is asserting her own personality more and more (especially since turning 2 last month), it has been interesting to me to notice the differences between her and Daniel.

Daniel reminds me SO MUCH of my younger brother when he was little. He is fascinated with how things wok and will ask me about the function of every single button on the remote control (most are a mystery to me, honestly). He is frighteningly adept at using the computer. He is long and lanky and can climb anything with agility and speed and grace. He loves to build things; the current favorite toy is the wooden marble run he got for Christmas. He's very good at things like puzzles and remembering how to spell words after I've written them down for him. He can count to 100. He can also be so frustratingly stubborn and sometimes only pays attention to me when he feels like it.

Of course, some of these things Anya can't do yet because she's younger (if she could spell words already, I'd be worried), but I can just tell she has different talents and interests. For one thing, she loves to sit with me on the piano bench and watch while I practice. Sometimes she plays along (i.e. whacking at the treble keys), and the other day she turned on my metronome and started smacking random keys in perfect time to the beat. She is sensitive and shy, but when she chooses to give you her affection, it is completely sincere and will melt your heart. At Christmas, she gave everyone fist bumps and hugs before bedtime. She can sit with you on the couch and read books indefinitely; yesterday I had to lie and say that the Clifford collection (remember Clifford the Big Red Dog?) was overdue and we couldn't keep it any longer because I thought my head would explode if I had to read "Clifford's Good Deeds" one. more. time.

It's cool to see them grow and change.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

low key day

I had lots of little plans for the next couple days, like going to the grocery store to replenish some things we're nearly out of and taking the kids to an indoor gym so they could run off some steam, and I had a couple sitters lined up so I could get some work done. But Daniel has a fever, so instead we are laying low, watching lots of TV, and I'm drinking a shitload of coffee because fever or no fever, the kid was still up at 5:20 this morning and me arse be draggin'.

Monday, January 18, 2010


This afternoon I had a nice visit with someone I hadn't seen in a while, someone who knows me very, very well both personally and as a musician. She is a professional musician herself and has grown children of her own so she can relate very well to my present state. She asked me how I was doing, if I enjoy doing what I'm doing, and I answered, as I always do, "Yes, mostly. It's a good thing I have hobbies." And it's true. I really do like that I can be with Daniel and Anya most of the time. That they are both not yet old enough for school means that I couldn't afford a full-time job right now even if I wanted one, but I'm okay with that. I don't resent them for that.

It has, however, been two years since Anya was born, and coincidentally, two years since I finished my doctorate, and I'm ready to be back on the scene, if only a very little bit. So I played a bunch of auditions last weekend, and I've also agreed to work on a dissertation recording project with someone at the school of music. I know the latter will be a rewarding experience; I'm looking forward to working with her and working with her teacher, and my former teacher has agreed to give us some coachings as well.

But there are several aspects of getting back in the saddle - however cautiously - that I don't like, frankly. There's the stress of learning music with very little practice time; I practice after breakfast before Stuart leaves for work, after dinner before the kids go to bed, and occasionally in the afternoons while they spend time with a paid sitter. There's the stress of trying to coordinate my sitters' schedules with those of busy musicians at the University (practically impossible). There's the fact that all the extra stress and playing doesn't actually translate into making any money because I have to pay sitters for so many hours a week to cover the rehearsals and practice time anyway. There are all those old feelings of inadequacy nibbling at my confidence every time I step foot in the music building or run into professors I had in class, or whose studios I played in. I was a student for so long that every time I am on campus I feel like a student again, being judged, being evaluated, never being good enough.

Either way there will be sacrifices made. If I devoted myself to parenting at the exclusion of all else, I would certainly regret it. If I were determined to be working full-time either as a freelance accompanist/coach or with an academic institution somewhere, my family would never ever see me, and we would all regret it. So I'm trying to fall somewhere in the middle, and still, it's so hard to keep up.

ETA: I know I'm not alone in this. I think every primary caretaker (mostly mothers, but there are stay-at-home dads out there, too) experiences these frustrations. Still sucks, though.

Friday, January 15, 2010


Jessi just tagged me for an award/meme thing. I'm so honored! Thanks, Jess. Anyway, here's the scoop:

1) List 10 things that make you happy, and try to do at least one of them today.
2) Tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day.
3) If you are one of those 10 lucky (happy) bloggers who get the award, link back to my blog and create your happy list!

Things that Make me Happy
1. my 3 morning espressos, without which I am kind of a zombie (check)
2. Daniel's big grin when he runs into his preschool class (check)
3. starting a new knitting project (I began a new sock last night in crazy orange colors, so check)

4. playing really good music, even if it's stressing me out because it's bloody difficult and I only had a week to learn it for someone's audition (check)
5. making and eating really good food
6. Daniel's new enthusiasm for helping me cook dinner. He likes to dump the ingredients and stir and turn on the stove, and he can put together the food processor all by himself, once I get all the parts down from the cupboard.
7. Anya's new words, which can only be transcribed with double exclamation points: "Pants!! No help!! No, Mama!! Daniel!! Naked!!"
8. a beer at 5:00
9. new yarn (I bought some with birthday cash a few weeks ago)
10. a clean house, but that never happens

Bloggers Who Brighten My Day
1. Sweet Water Journal (I don't care if you haven't posted in months)
2. Knitting to Stay Sane (Glenna C and I have never met, but I bet we have a lot in common)
3. Stinkbumps (Jenn has astounding courage and fortitude, and also, a really good sense of humor)
4. happy.stuff. (whose creativity always inspires me)
5. Lifescapes (another blogger named Susan who writes deliciously fun mystery novels and homesteads in Texas Hill Country)
6. whitknits (grad student, knitter, need I say more?)
7. Making Progress (a guy who knits, and his wife does too! Also, they apparently can cook good Indian food...)
8. Caffeine Girl (fellow Madisonian and knitter. If I ever join the local knitting guild, we'll get to meet in person)
9. Notes from a Scattered Mind (is it okay that I linked back to Jessi?)
10. gaysknits (this lady is just cool)

So y'all can consider yourself tagged or not. I know not everyone likes to be tagged, so if that's you, I won't be offended if you ignore this.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


It's stunning how much damage one earthquake can do, especially to a country ill-equipped to handle it. My heart is heavy with the news of the disaster in Haiti yesterday. If you can spare anything, even a few dollars, consider donating to a worthy cause, like Doctors Without Borders, an excellent organization who lost 3 hospitals in Port au Prince. And whether you're a knitter or not, go read today's post over at the Yarn Harlot.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

pills, practicing

After enduring more than a week of being half deaf in my left ear, I finally broke down and called my P.A. for an antibiotics prescription yesterday. I haven't had an ear infection since I was in 6th grade, and this time I really thought I might be able to beat it without medication. After all, it didn't hurt that much, and you keep hearing about how we (meaning humans in the western world in general) are too quick to take antibiotics so now we are developing resistances and infections are harder to treat...yada yada. So I tried to get better. I took Sudafed, but it didn't do much besides dry out my throat. I tried an ear candle on Sunday, much to the amusement of the rest of my family (Daniel: "Mom, why do you have a fire sticking out of your ear?"), but it didn't do much either. Yes, there are pictures. No, I will not share them. More than one person suggested that I see a chiropractor, and I think someone even mentioned acupuncture. But those things cost lots of money, and at the end of the day what I really want is my hearing back, so I had the prescription called in, dragged two tired kids to the clinic, plunked down my co-pay, stocked up on yogurt, and after just one dose I could already tell a difference. Modern medicine certainly has its place.

In other news, I am frantically trying to learn a big pile of music for graduate auditions this weekend. 95% of what I have to play I can just read, or play with minimal practice time, but there are a couple pieces that are kicking my ass. I just found another sitter who is available when the regular one is not. Best of all, she lives close by, so I can drop the kids off at her house and then come home and practice in peace.


And now, for your moment of zen, aka random Daniel quote of the day: "Mom, I have a clock in my mouth the shape of a goat! I bet you've never seen a clock the shape of a goat before!" Sometimes I have no idea where he comes up with this stuff.

Friday, January 08, 2010

'wog! wabbit!

I have all these blog posts dancing about in my head, but I haven't the energy to sit down and write any of them. So instead of my deep thoughts, today you'll have to make due with a picture of Anya-the-artist at work (be honest, you'd rather see the cute pictures anyway, right?):

She's getting better at keeping the paint on the paper, instead of getting it, well, everywhere else. She painted a little blob and said to me, "Wog! Wog!" (translation: "Frog! Frog!"). Then she painted a big blob and said "Wabbit! Wabbit!" You can see in the photo that what she actually painted in no way resembles a frog or a rabbit, but she was so sure of herself, and so pleased with herself, too. It's interesting to me that her intentions were so clear. Then she stuck both hands in the paint bowl and announced, "Uh-oh, Mama. Mess!"

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

random Tuesday

1. I went to the doctor yesterday because I think I'm getting an ear infection. I got them constantly as a kid; it seemed like there was always a big pink bottle of amoxicillin in the fridge waiting to be chugged. It's probably been 20 years since I've had an ear infection, though, and I forgot how much they hurt. Fortunately, there's a possibility that this will clear up on its own with the aid of decongestants and plenty of tylenol. And except that everything sounds like I'm listening from inside a tank of water, I feel fine otherwise.

2. I went to buy Sudafed at the drugstore yesterday and had to hand over my driver's license and sign all kinds of stuff verifying that I have no intention of making anything illegal out of those little red pills.

3. I hope my ears clear up by the weekend because I'm leading the singing in a wedding service on Saturday and it would really suck to be singing off-key.

4. I'm also playing all the music for the prelude and processional and candle-lighting, etc, with a violinist who is a friend of the bride, and, it turns out, a fellow Doctor of Musical Arts from the UW. It's great fun to play with her.

5. I don't have anything to wear to this wedding. I realized Sunday morning that I don't own a dress. Not a single one. Not unless you count a maternity dress I made when I was pregnant with Daniel, but obviously I can't wear it, not with dignity, anyway. I own one skirt that I bought at a vintage store 5 years ago, but that's not nice enough for a wedding. I suppose I'll make due with my small collection of "accompanist" clothes and hope I'm not underdressed.

6. I've agreed to play for several graduate auditions next weekend at the school of music, and after receiving some of the music, I think I am drastically undercharging these folks. It's too late to change my fee, though, since I already told them what I'll be charging. One singer in particular is doing a whole pile of music that is beastly difficult. Why do I do this to myself, I wonder? Agree to play, not charge enough, then stress out about how hard it is...what's wrong with me?

7. At least that gets me playing again. I didn't really make any resolutions for the new year, but I want to crawl out from my proverbial rock of full-time motherhood and try to do a few more gigs. I've got my sitter reserved for more hours, so I'm hoping I can at least break even with childcare.

8. It seems like I'll never be in a position to actually make any money. That depresses me. Oh well. At least Stuart is good at what he does, and what he does is more lucrative than trying to pass as a professional musician by spending an entire day playing auditions for less than the cost of one weeks' groceries.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Christmas pictures

We didn't take a whole lot of pictures at Christmas - too busy with family and presents and gorging on all that good home-cooking I guess. Here are a few of the nicer ones from our trip to Kentucky, though.

Happy New Year, everyone!

ETA: For anyone who was wondering, we saw the Sherlock Holmes movie on my birthday. Even though it was a tad violent for my taste, we really enjoyed it; Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law were perfect for their roles.