Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Resolution and Promises

So I am anxiously checking my emails waiting to hear from these opera companies with an audition time. I guess, having "been there and done that" I should not count on anything until I get that date and time!!! However, the whole thing has made me a little cheery. I practiced yesterday, finally, after a while. I have such a good reason to practice. The only issue is that the baby cries when I practice. How am I going to do that exactly?

I have 3 weeks to get myself back up to speed on auditioning (I did an audition in February and practiced daily before that audition as well, but I have a tendency to get lazy when nothing is coming).

We did a bunch of stuff outside yesterday. First, we found a drowned squirrel in our yard. This makes me SO grateful that I have a husband. All I had to do was declare the location of the squirrel and the declaration that I would not sleep until it was well disposed of. Hubby took care of the rest. Isn't this great? It makes the trials of marriage totally worth it!!! For years, I disposed of all disgusting things myself.

I planted "cold crop" veggies in our garden under the walnut tree. Right now it's getting plenty of light, but in the summer they'll be shaded. So hopefully it will stay the perfect temperature!!! These are broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, spinach and peas!!!! If even a few of those work out I'll be thrilled. There are few things better than sitting in the dirt with the hope of growth. I don't know why, but it's utterly wonderful--the sunshine above, the smell of dirt and worms, and the baby trying to eat the leaves she finds. I could do that forever.

The day ended with great news. A check for 50% (190 dollars) of the money we paid to have our taxes done. So they did do the right thing!!! Hubby called me up at work twice yesterday. The first call was to tell me the dog ate the breast pump (*sigh* I am so glad we never bought the expensive one). The second call went like this:
Hubby: Guess what God sent you?
Me: What???(this had to be good)
Hubby: $190 from H&R Block.
Then me, rejoicing. Resolution. Smiling the rest of the night. Hope is on the horizon. So is broccoli, apparently!!

And now today--cleaning, house stuff, cleaning, and breakfast out, to celebrate :)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carmen at the Met

I decided to take off a day of posting--I am aiming for six days a week, which seems to work well for me. I like to take my 'day off' at random, though. Take it when I need it :)

Baby S fell asleep at 7:30 tonight, so I'm a little worried, but more embarrassed thinking of how angry I was at hubby last time he let her fall asleep before 8pm. I guess I figure I'll be the one paying for the 6am wakey, if it happens. But I'm making excuses. I never really feel good getting angry with him. She has been as exhausted as I have this weekend. I think that's how we work, oddly in tandem all the time.

She did a lot of funny things today...including talking to the dog and doing an extended vocalization, which involves her discovery of making a sound like this: "uhhhhhhhhh" that lasts about 20 seconds. It's very entertaining, but the second she sees the video camera, she stops. She refuses to be documented.

I played piano in church this morning, which I enjoyed tremendously. I was going to write a post on just that tonight. Well--on just the new meaning of Spring to me. I guess--well, as an adult I have hated the major Christian holidays. Christmas, Easter....all of it seemed like a materialistic stab, removed of any real meaning, and they're made-up holidays anyways....more about being someone with expendable income than someone with faith. And yet, in the last few years, I have such a fondness for certain parts of these. I love Maundy Thursday--something only a few churches celebrate. It's truly reflective of Jesus's last days on earth. A service that ends in silence, with everyone walking out of the church quietly reflecting. I guess I love it most because it's unlike anything I've seen at church. No happy bake sales or anything but a memory of a day the earth stood still. Of course we celebrate new life in Spring--and somehow watching the grass come up, the buds outside, planting peas and spinach in my yard today--it makes me want to think of the day everything became new, and I born again, and how fantastic. How utterly breathtaking. So I am excited.

Except I will not eat ham. I mean--what is that stuff?

I have been having what I consider to be a crisis of faith. I feel like I am going through the motions, I guess, and I am having an incredibly difficult time connecting that God is real and taking care of me. After all, since I got married, it's a new ride. It's probably not harder or easier, but it's SO different, and I feel so unprepared. I had come to deal with the trials and tribulations of "single performer in NYC" but "married mother in Iowa trying to get back into singing?"

So I've been feebly praying for God to be real and unavoidable. And then one night this week, in a feeling of utter frustration that I was not singing, I contacted 3 opera companies that audition in the Spring: Columbus Opera, Omaha Opera and Florentine Opera. Columbus I'd sung for before. Omaha I had never contacted, and Florentine's director just heard me in a show last summer.

Within 3 days, I had emails from two out of the three, and then I heard from the third. I don't have times set in stone yet. But this has NEVER happened. In all my years of doing this, getting 3 replies out of 3 requests is rare or impossible.

So then an audition in Omaha....ok....with a baby. How was that going to happen? And suddenly I have THREE (yes 3) solutions to that problem. Three offers of help. I don't even know which one to take.

So I'm still being stubborn, but part of me is wondering if this is a pretty clear answer. I asked to be shown something more than coincidental. I prayed, exact words, to be shown that I was being heard by someone real. And He knew how to show me that.

Sorry how long this post is! But now I am remembering this happening in New York...five or six years ago. I had said almost the same thing....asking God please, just show me you're seeing me, you're real. I was on the subway, when suddenly a man approached me. I recognized him. He said, "Don't I know you?" And I said, yes, though I couldn't remember from where I knew him. He said, "I got it! The Met. Did you sing Carmen at the Met?" And I laughed. And I KNEW in that moment that God saw me. I can't even explain that. The man on the train recognized me from my own dreams.

It doesn't get better than that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Friday Tradition

I'm going to start a Friday tradition!

Here's an embarassing story. I have enough of these to tell one every Friday....so here goes.

After college I worked for the Pepperdine Law School and lived a couple of miles down the highway. At the time, I didn't have a car, so I would either take the bus or walk home. Walking home was not hard, necessarily, but the highway had no form of protection for pedestrians--so it always ended up a little scary. The bus? Well, the bus came every hour (only once an hour) and the last bus was at 8:15pm.

To earn a little extra money, I would sometimes proctor exams at night. And usually they got out around 8pm. So I would then run like the wind, downhill, to (hopefully) catch the last bus. Which, by the way, occasionally came early (jerks!). On this one particular night which I will never forget, I did this very thing, running down the hill to the highway, just in time to see my bus leaving.

Exhausted after a 12 hour workday, I did not want to walk the dangerous highway with no light. I decided I would flag down a student leaving campus, preferably a girl, and hitch a ride the 2-3 miles up the highway. It seemed like a good plan.

Soon after, a blonde girl in a jeep pulled up to the light, and I flagged her down, and explained my situation. She was extremely friendly and offered me the ride. I was a little "high", I think, from the whole experience. Running down the hill, hitchhiking, missing the bus, the whole thing made me a little crazy. So I started babbling. Riding along in this jeep, I babbled about my life (she seemed fascinated by all of my performing, which fuelled my very narcissistic fire) and I told her about my musical experiences, my life, my rehearsals, my work at the law school. Blah, blah, blah.

At the end of the trip, I asked her to pull over to the side of the road opposite where I was living. As I had mentioned, the highway had little light, and really getting out of the jeep was pretty much a blind step. Beside the highway was a bit of a ditch, or at least a different level from the highway--opening up into an untended area of seaside plants, sand, grass, dirt....you get the picture.

I thanked her for the trip....smiled largely, feeling like I'd really over-talked and a little embarassed at that. And then I took a step out of the jeep. My leg got caught in the seatbelt, and it wrapped around my lower leg, as I then slipped out of the seat. Suddenly, I found myself hanging from the jeep--one leg still attached, as I tried to wrestle myself free. I was holding on to the side of the jeep and at one point actually felt my hair brush against the bushes by the highway. This all was made worse by the fact that I was wearing a dress, which I think at that point was around my waist.

After enough of a struggle (probably 10 seconds but it felt like a full minute) the seatbelt was wrestled free of my leg, and I landed with a thud on the ground about 6 inches lower than the jeep. I popped up and looked at my driver's face, which was frozen in a horrified expression. She breathed at me, "are you ok???" and I just looked at her, the pain starting to set in, but the embarassment twice as strong, and said, "just. drive. away."

She asked again, "are you...sure you're ok?"
"Yeah." I said quietly. "just drive away please."

And I smiled, and shut the door. She helplessly pulled out and I limped home.

I wonder if she remembers that experience as clearly as I do. I wonder if she even knows what happened, pulled over in the dark, with me hanging from the vehicle by my ankle! I may never know.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pensamientos de Verde

Well, today was better, if hectic. It rained all day. I realize now that 17 years of living in the desert means I'll never hate rain. I never fear going out in rain, I wear flip flops, I don't try to park close to things. When I see the rain, I think of things growing. I'm mad I haven't planted our flower bed yet. We had a landscaper visit us for free yesterday, to give us suggestions, provided we (verbally) agree to shopping for our seed & gardening needs in his store.

It was so exciting--planning where hubby's going to put the corn, where I'm going to put my spinach and asparagus. Yay! The thought of it is fantastic. We discovered evidence of quite a few moles...ew. This brings up another desert reference. The "wildlife" out here is so different. I mean, moles? We have far fewer rodents in Arizona, restricted to a few major groups. Out here on my lawn alone I've got moles, chipmunks (did you know they scream at you? Ours do) squirrels, mice...and those are the ones I know of. Now, I must admit the Arizona pests are more exotic, but no more plentiful.

So moles. I guess we've got to kill these things, and since getting married I've become excessively girly. I mean--I've changed a tire on the highway in the rain!! I am a powerful chick! But I don't want to see a dead mole, much less be a part of any of the murdering. Since I, as the wife, do about 90 per cent of the dishes and laundry, he has to do all the killing.

I can't wait to get outside with the shovel! Spring is so great...I love watching things grow. I grew up with no Spring. I find every part of it new and exciting. I've already gotten some plants to germinate. Did you hear me use that term??? Germinate!

Thanks to anyone who clicked on an ad yesterday! I made 17 bucks! I had no idea that would work so well!

How To Shave Years off Your Life

Or...why I will never go to H&R Block again.

The baby is playing pretty peacefully in her pack-n-play next to me, so I'm pretending like I don't smell the very pungent stink of poop coming up from it. Does this make me a bad mother?

Yesterday started well. Hubby and I discovered that the gas fireplace we've been looking for (to replace the fireplace in our house that we did not know was worthless, burned and installed incorrectly probably 30 years ago) was on a blowout, cash-n-carry, special deal, only 4 available sale at Home Depot. We had gone there to return some paint stripper, but moments later were debating how to afford this fireplace. Online the fireplace sells for 1400. The sale? $499. How do you not do that? So we used a credit card--something we are trying to avoid, and I went home to check on the status of our homebuyer's credit...that 8000 that's hopefully going to save our lives here for a while.

And that's when we called the IRS, and, long story short, found out that it was never sent in.

We did our taxes on February 1st.

We did our taxes with H&R Block just because we wanted to make sure we did this part correctly. After all, we've been doing our own taxes for years. And the pricetag of $380 was, I would say, pretty shocking at the time. Our taxes are not complex. But I choked it down at the time. Seemed like the deal was already done when hubby came home from the tax office. Our refund was smaller than I expected--and eaten up largely by that 380. BUT, I thought, we've got the homebuyer's credit!

So I ruined the receptionist's day. I was so furious I could barely stand still. I asked to get a call back from the manager. Now--here's a twist. Our tax preparer, I didn't know, was someone I now work with. So I tried to restrain myself (a good exercise for me) which came out in a series of crying and begging for her help as I explained to her how our whole budget counted on that money, how we would be halted, and how I felt like a partial refund was absolutely required, since they did not do their full job in completing our taxes. She was somewhat apologetic, but said that she had told us we'd had to send them in ourselves. I had no memory of this--but that's not the point. The point is, how do you keep someone's paperwork on a desk in your office for two months, with no follow-up, no completion, and charge them 380 dollars for a finished product?

I talked to the district manager, who was a jerk, honestly. She kept saying "you're just mad because you'll have to wait longer for your money." uh ....yeah. You work in TAXES. If you were a landscaper, I might be mad that you dug a 3 foot trench in my yard by accident. But you aren't. You are a tax manager. SO.....when you screw up, people are mad about their money.

She said she'd consider our partial refund. She kept trying to defend the office, and I kept saying, pretty much exhausted by the end, that I would never pay that much money if I knew at the end it would all be up to me to get it completed. In that case--why would I pay anything? For the counting? When 40 online programs do that just fine? No....it's for the service. For someone helping me to get it done and get it done early and right.

Although in this case, not at all.

My head still hurts. Because according to the IRS, we're not getting this money until July. And every night, I go to work and get a reminder of that, looking at the co-worker who will be getting her own homebuyer's credit on time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Amateur Coffee Ice Cream

Today I used my ice cream maker to experiment. It wasn't really something I'd advise, but I like the result. I dumped a bunch of cold coffee, skim milk and a bit of splenda in it. I let it turn into an icy mush. Good news is that it's sweet and crazy low in calories. The bad news is it's not creamy and I really didn't let the coffee completely dissolve, so it's currently stuck in my teeth. My husband looks at me like I'm insane for eating it, but I'm taking notes as to how to make it better--I'm sure there's a way.

I cried on the way home from Home Depot and hubby asked if I was pregnant again. I had a brief moment about panicking for this and then figured it was impossible, though I guess it's not impossible. I was mad that we spent 15 minutes talking to two salesmen about a thousand dollar facade for the porch. WHY are we having this conversation? Why wouldn't we just go to the Porsche dealership and hypothetically talk about how good they are? Why does he love to talk about expensive stuff "in theory?"

I don't dwell on it. Take me to a thrift store any day....the endless possibilities....I can buy anything there and barely regret it! I can look at everything with freedom. But I swear I feel something pretty close to anger when someone's telling me that the garden I'm discussing with them could be upgraded to a 400 dollar project and go reallly high-class. Hey, it'll increase the re-sale value of my house! (tell that to people who lost 50 per cent value on their house in a bad housing market regardless of every gorgeous expensive thing they did to it. It's perceived value, folks, there's no guarantee!)

I can't wait to get out on the porch tomorrow and strip the paint. A nice, cheap project which will make our house beautiful from the street!! I can hardly wait....a job outside.

My plants are sprouting already--it's time to be outside. Tomorrow some guy from the nursery is going to "walk our yard" with us, suggesting landscaping!!!! I have promised my husband not to use the phrase "How much will that cost?" Then maybe there won't be any crying. Maybe.

I am happy the health care bill passed. I tell you--I'm not positive that all parts of it will be good, but I just can't believe we waited this long to make the changes that needed to be made. We waited so long, that we drove ourselves to a state of "complete overhaul". And chances are, there will be parts of it that do not work out as well as we'd like. But we couldn't keep saying to people, "sorry, you don't work for a corporation, so we're not going to keep you alive, or help you take any preventative measures to avoid a disease that we might have to pay for." I think of all the people in my life without health care (more without than with) and that most of us spent months calling companies, WISHING we could find something we could afford, something that would actually work. I suppose I would love to make a huge list of all of the stories...some tragic, some just annoying, most of them leaving a terrible taste in my mouth.

The most lavish, opulent, disturbingly elitist temp job I ever had was for a health insurance VP. I'm just sayin'.

I once read an article about christians and politics, and the article said that something like 60 per cent of christians, when polled, said they thought "God helps those who help themselves" was in the Bible. Yikes. Yikes Yikes. That deserves 3 of them.

Fail if you will, health care, but I'd take change over cruel complacency any day.

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Life as a Fortuneteller

From 2000-2002 I finished my master's degree in music and was in California, teaching music to kids and singing with the Los Angeles Opera chorus at night. I think back on that as a very happy time. I lived with a roommate I adored, I had a very pleasant apartment, lots and lots of music in my life. My weight was going down and I was dealing with a lot of the emotions that came with it. I was financially stable (I don't think I had ever used a credit card at that point). I loved the kids I was working with, too, though teaching 3rd graders was so exhausting that I would sometimes pull over on the side of the road after teaching and take a nap, too tired to drive the 30 minutes home!

I was also auditioning for everything, and though I had the LA opera chorus, I was 28 and had not had a good solo gig. I felt like it would never happen. I remember reading this article called When God Says No and bawling my eyes out, with my roommate praying for me (she was in the same boat, maybe with a prospect or two more, but we knew the same uncertainty for sure). I auditioned for the Santa Fe Opera, to be an apprentice, and made it past the first round. Then the second round went so badly, I went home to cry with my roommate. We tossed around the idea of giving up singing, and opening a bookstore together.

I went to work with a great pianist and coach a few days later (Ann Baltz, who runs a program called "Operaworks" which had really encouraged me in so many ways). After having a great coaching, Ann suggested I wait on the whole bookstore thing. I was somewhat encouraged, but I was sure it wouldn't happen. What is that? Why is there a feeling like things can never change, when the only SURE thing in life is that they will?

If you don't know the end of that story, I got that Santa Fe gig. I haven't thought about the bookstore since.

A few years after Santa Fe, I wanted to give up again. I had expected that to lead to so many other things, but it didn't seem to. It was not until I did a masterclass with someone, just hoping to SING for goodness sakes, and paying through the nose to do it, when I got another job.

I am sure I have mentioned this before, but one of the big problems in life is expecting the "success graph" to look like a bullet toward the top right, a straight arrow aiming at the sky. And no one's graph looks like that. We LOVE the stories of people whose graphs look like the hills of kentucky, the Andes mountains, plummeting into nothingness and then coming up who knows how far.

I have had an odd number of days of happiness in a row. Is that weird? My husband is teaching me the zen-like quality of enjoying the day-to-day, and Iowa's helping. My pepper plants are sprouting, my baby is laughing at me, and my husband gives me a sense of security. I like my church, I'm starting to have friends. I've got asparagus in my fridge and highlights in my hair, and projects to do. And yet--a slight nagging voice says to me that there's this other goal. This musical thing. It's missing. And I must not let it fall to the wayside. I must continue on it.

Right now that sounds ridiculous. Sounds like I could NEVER get back there. I might as well open a bookstore, right?

6 years after that, in New York, I had gotten to this dark, dark place. I was involved with someone who treated me like I was worthless, I was singing, I was happy at work, but the focus on this CAREER had made me really stop believing that I could be happy. I went to Peru, and I worked with boys who had nothing. Their parents had abandoned them, and they lived in parking garages, selling candy, stealing, some even prostituting themselves. There were a lot of spiritual lessons I learned, but a big one was realizing people have a lot of choices. And choosing to be miserable is equal to not living at all. Many of these boys seemed to choose tiny pieces of happiness where they could get it. And here I was--swamped with happiness, and still choosing ugly things for myself.

So for a period, I stopped telling my own future. I started looking at how to be of service today. I started thinking what is the right thing to do today. How can I find God today? And it was THAT that led me here.

Funny. That one day at a time thing is SO true. Who knows what can change tomorrow--what email I could get that would permanently alter my life, what prayer could go up that might change everything. God doesn't really say no. I understood the point of the article, but my tears reading it were more about fear. There are just a lot more yeses than we give credit for, don't you think?

yes yes yes yes yes!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Two Birds. One Stone

I am extremely attracted to the idea of killing two birds with one stone. I try to consolidate errands, make plans where things are efficiently taken care of all at once. I especially like to do this with exercise. For example, today I planned to take baby S on a long walk to the St. Patrick's Day parade, thus killing the "exercise" bird, the "entertain the baby" bird, and the ever elusive "I did something unusual today" bird. Huh. Typing this makes the whole bird killing thing sound kind of violent.

We have a lot of birds ACTUALLY die on our property here--just the prevalence of trees, I believe, but it's still disturbing.

Anyways, babies really rob you of these detailed plans. Basically at the end of the day I'm just excited to have taken a shower and perhaps done some dishes.

So today, plan B involved going to the grocery store on foot, and doing a couple big hills, with the baby in the stroller. This worked! It was a good workout (I'm actually a bit smelly now!) and the groceries were bought, and the baby took a huge, wonderful nap. I didn't make my morning appointment--but a new friend of mine called to be helpful! She brought me the materials I missed, with her 7 month old baby in tow, and then talked with me for 15 minutes. This is a new, blessed development in my social world. Here's a person with a baby who has at least one thing in common with me....she's interesting, and has a good story or two. It may be the distant light at the end of a tunnel of my social life!

The errand would have been better had I not encountered a woman in the grocery store who talked to me about her life, her "old man" and her experience with sunburns. On a day when I wasn't late, this would have been so welcome--but unfortunately I darted my eyes as if I had to pee or run away, and hoped the stories would end.
"Have you ever noticed Jesus Christ had long hair? In all of the pictures?" she said to me.
"Yes" I said, not feeling that comfortable with this part of the conversation.
"Well, that's what I keep telling my mom, but she doesn't get it."
I think this was about why men look more attractive with long hair? But I'm not positive.

I have had several encounters lately with People Who Share Intimate Details With You Before You Know Their Name. It's always so difficult--the elderly man who told my husband and me that he was beaten by his father, but he's not even sure who his real father was, the woman in the grocery store who told me something about her dog seeing ghosts, and now this woman. Is it a sign that they long to be heard? Do they tell everyone these facts? It's hard to tell.

Tomorrow I plan on doing laundry and yardwork at the same time. This may actually take two stones. I'm hopeful.

Monday, March 15, 2010

There's No Blood on Project Runway

On Thursday nights, I hope to get home from work close enough to 9pm that I can run to the bedroom and watch Project Runway(with or without baby in tow). I have developed a real addiction to reality shows where people create things. I confess that I wish Top Chef ran in a constant cycle, starting a new season as soon as the old season ends...rather than keep me waiting for lo these long nine months or so!

I'm not sure when this started. I cannot stomach the "social" reality shows. I can't watch 15 minutes of Jersey Shore or The Bachelor or The Real Housewives of anywhere. I just hate those shows, blech. But I love the creative ones! I wish there were a composer show--where musicians were given a project like: Tonight you have to write all original music for this couple's wedding only using these two instruments, or today you have to make a whole country album for this ten year old singer. Wouldn't that be great!? I like these shows partially because these are generally really contestants who have WORKED for it. They have suffered to be chefs and designers...they have spent hours in their basement sewing hems or hours in their mom's kitchen trying to make spicy and sweet marry in perfect subtlety! Honestly, I hate it when they're eliminated. But I like hearing them evaluated, and I love seeing them win :)

Ok--so all of that I may have mentioned before. But did you notice I said bedroom? I once asked hubby if he would join me in watching Project Runway. He responded that having seen a bit of it, it was an 11 on the gay scale of 1-10. A comment said not with malice as much as a simple explanation of why he would not like it. This seems particularly funny to me as pretty much every man I dated before my husband was probably at least a 6 on the "gay scale". My husband's taste in TV is oddly masculine. He likes shows about men building stuff or fighting over a ball. His slightly more feminine side enjoys shows about men building cakes. But it's only really a slight deviation. He likes cartoons. He likes things that go boom. Fast things. Blood.

One night I heard him from the couch say, "wow." It was loud enough that I walked in and asked him what it was he saw. He explained, "this one guy threw the other guy off a cliff and the blood was really amazing, it was not what I expected." I quietly noted my gratitude at having missed that scene entirely.

In between those shows are video games re-enacting the same stuff. It makes the differences between us so pronounced. And yet, we have a nice thing going here....a quiet time where I go to the bedroom and turn on Lifetime TV and he watches back-to-back sporting events.

One reason why I am especially avoiding the violence lately is my dreams. I seem to be overrun with nightmares lately. And I'm not talking kid stuff. I'm talking about nightmares of every life situation, wrapped up into horrifying stories. Monsters, diabetes needles, financial ruin, terror. Sometimes I wake up unable to put my feet on the floor because I am paralyzed with fear. Last night I woke my husband up around 3:45. I felt like crying. "I don't know what to do. I just can't stop having nightmares." He asked me something about it, but next thing I knew he was sleeping again, and I felt like I might cry, or throw up. Maybe because some horrible beast had just chased me somewhere. It's like a strange secret I am carrying around--that sleep, which always comes easy to me, brings about a clash of everything I feel.

I remembered that just before sleeping I'd eaten a pickle. I remembered mom used to say pickles caused nightmares. I noted...avoid pickles. I prayed. I begged God. Please, sleep. No more ugly images. No more fears, no more weeping. No more severed limbs.

So apparently I see more violence than hubby. Only....I'm making it? If only I could re-program my head to show me old episodes of News Radio or Top Chef. I'd even take Shear Genius right now. I never understand the hairstyles, but at least nobody chases me.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Beautiful To-Do List

It's 10:00on a Saturday night, and I gently carry a 15 pound sleeping body, cuddly in her white footie pajamas which say LOVE in big pink letters across her chest. Her face is utterly peaceful, and she's still for the first time in hours. I think she has started to immitate my sign language for "milk" which I repeatedly do while she nurses, and she watches with great interest, moving her fingers with mine.

We walk through the kitchen, and I am reminded that I haven't done dishes.

We walk through the complete soft silence of the house, across our creaky floor. This house is special--because it's truly "ours" and hers. Not each others things that we've adopted--but chosen together, negotiated together, bought together, and now starting to build together. And sometimes it seems so odd that this baby is completely ours...one half of each of us. Few things make me happier than seeing him laugh at something she does which is really only a bit funny, or when he can't wait to tell me about something "impressive" she's done, which is just a simple part of her developing, really...except to us, who both find her growth miraculous.

We went to a farm store today, because they had baby chicks on sale. We didn't intend on buying baby chicks, we just wanted to see them, and show them to baby S. We took pictures of her with various lawn equipment and bought ourselves a ton of seeds on sale. Hubby showed me $500 lawnmowers that he wanted and we will not be able to afford for at least 5 more years, and I humored him by looking at them. It was refreshing, and a lot of entertainment (including free popcorn) for less than 20 dollars. Thankfully, we walked right past the Girl Scouts and their evil cookies on the way out.

We got home and he rushed off to work. I set Baby S on the porch in her swing and proceeded to dig out the HUGE roots that are blocking my ability to plant a flower garden in front of the house. One root weighed at least 35 pounds and I could hardly carry it to the yardie with both hands and my hip involved.

Once I had cleared them all, I painted a chest in the bathroom. I put the baby to bed, got some work done, rested, and for the first time in WEEKS, wrote down what I'd eaten that day. Then, realizing I'd finished all of my calories around 3pm, exercised for an hour. I ate too many calories today (in fact, just reading this I realized I forgot to record the popcorn!!) but DAY ONEs are so important...here I am, fighting the good fight again. Perhaps my goal of 20 more pounds by my doctor's appointment in June is completely possible! After all, I'm on a learning curve here.

I set the baby in her crib, and she stirs a little. She knows the feeling of being laid in her crib, and reaches for the little blanket I put over her. She lets out a sigh, and I feel like I sigh. I'm tired, and can't wait to go back in the living room and not do anything else productive. It's enough for a Saturday. It's enough.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Two Weekends is Barely Enough

Now that I am working Mon-Fri I am back in the joy of "aha! the weekend!" It's kind of fun in that I have joined the rest of the world. It's also strange because with hubby off Monday and Tues I also have the "aha! the weekend!" on Sunday night, when I know that we will all be able to hang out as a family the next morning. We've developed a number of fun habits.

I was talking to a friend on the phone today when it occurred to me that the Spring is a second Christmas here. What I mean is that all the things that make up the American "Christmas" tradition: the change in the weather, people being cheerful and the Christmas "spirit", the decorating of your house, the fun shopping, the stores transformed with the season....all those things happen in March in the midwest! (but they're way cheaper). I really enjoy this, and hubby and I already have had several days where we romantically walk through aisles of vegetable seeds, holding hands and staring lovingly at each other, in anticipation of yard work.

We have plans tomorrow to go to a farm store and look at baby chicks, and maybe buy a few seeds...and try to use our self control for other things. I am also heading out to get a pickaxe to try to do some major damage to the old roots in the front yard! yay!

All of this is a great exercise in putting off my worries about how we're paying for school in the spring and what it's going to feel like to put Baby S in daycare. She's so incredibly fun lately--rolling, "chatting", smiling and laughing. She has developed such a personality. Baby S is a little serious, a little intense, somewhat picky, verbal, and very coordinated. She is not someone who quickly smiles at people, except on occasion, and getting her together with another baby made it so clear what kind of personality she has, at least now! It was also wonderful to spend some time with another mom of a baby here. Sometimes it would be nice if ONE less thing was new here. So little is familiar!

I feel happy tonight. Baby S fell asleep late, which means a nice sleep-in for everyone. Perfect timing before the time change.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

By the Numbers

Ahhhh.....I stopped telling people how much I weigh around the age of 17. My husband was the first person I had told in a long time, partly because he so casually talked about those numbers. What? They don't define your entire worth as a person. Hmmm...what a unique way of thinking!

Worrying about finances I often think that by some certain salary (trust me, I aim low) or some amount of debt (preferably 0) or some amount of bills paid off, I will find myself defined as successful.

How many opera houses have I performed in? How many performances this year? How many arias did they ask me for? How old was I the first time I sang a big role at an "A" level house (clue: not yet)? All of these: numbers. Numbers, numbers numbers!!!

Yesterday I got my A1C back. Do you know this number? It's a diabetic test that tells you how you're doing by measuring the sugar in your blood for the last 3 months. It's a 6.5. That's the lowest number I've had since battling gestational and then type 2 diabetes. 6.5 is the international recommended control level (they recommend it be 6.5 or under). The American recommendation is 7 or lower. It took a lot of work, and right now, I'm feeling pretty worthy. But man....another number! My weight loss was less than I had set as a goal, but it was down. Down is good.

While typing this blog I heard a sad news story. It made my problems seem so small! Let's just be happy about the sugars. Maybe that's why hubby's always telling me things will be ok. You hear enough of the dark stuff out there and you just want to be grateful for the good stuff.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Discipline, Teeth, and a Little Chatty Cathy

I know about discipline. At moments of my life, discipline has strangely descended on me. I once went about 5 months without eating any wheat. I have gone through periods of exercising every day, practicing every day, meditating every day, etc etc. Once you get into these patterns it feels FANTASTIC. I don't know exactly what the feeling is, since it certainly feels like a bigger force is aiding my ability--these times of discipline always seemed "given" to me, and made me feel grateful. However, countless more times I have made pledges, for example:

From this moment on, I will never eat sugar again.
I will pray twice a day, every day.
I will floss, every night!

And some of those last for two days, and some for a few weeks, and some for an hour. They are missing a certain amount of peace, I think. Most pledges are made in a moment of desperation, of self-criticism, and sadness. Few are made in moments where love and forgiveness are in the foreground. Interesting, huh?

I recently decided I wanted to read my Bible more (this happens every few months actually, as it's a discipline) and so I joined a group which has daily "homework". Ok, so about 80 per cent of the time, I do all of the daily "homework" in the last two days of the week. It's exhausting! And I keep thinking to myself...if I could just do the work on time, it's not hard. But this putting off is killing me! Tonight i stare down the barrell of going tomorrow morning with NOTHING done! arrrrgh. It's been a big week--a new job, a new schedule, out-of-town visitors. But I hear the voices of all of my past piano teachers, asking me why I don't practice, and my weight watchers leaders, and who knows who else, telling me that being undisciplined is a sign of personal weakness. ouch.

Speaking of ouch, we have a tooth appearance. Baby S has been Deee-lightful the last week, and I wondered tonight if we were seeing the arrival of a tooth yet. So I stuck a finger in and there it hit me...like a tiny pointy diamond coming up through her gums. It doesn't feel like a tooth yet, but it sure ain't gums! Thank goodness she isn't biting during our nursing time. Her toothless bites have been bad enough.

She's also started (almost at the exact same time) this wonderful chatter. She sits in my lap and chats at both hubby and me. It sounds a bit like "nyah nyah nyah dyah dyah dyahhhhhhh" and has the intonation of whatever she's feeling--often sounding a bit like complaining. It makes us both laugh and so far I think it's some of the best times I've ever had with hubby. This 6 month age ROCKS.

To whoever it was who told me to "treasure" the first 8 weeks....blech. Ok, they're small, they're fascinating. But I don't look back on that time too much. This is the good stuff :)