Sunday, February 26, 2012

Biking obsession

Since it is getting lighter out in the morning, I have started biking in the early morning before the sluggards....I mean children....get up.   Of course I decided to do this on the coldest mornings so far this year.   It was 18 degrees yesterday and today.   The only part of me which actually gets cold are my feet and my right thumb.   I tweaked the system since yesterday and my hands were warmer today.   My feet were warmer longer but I definitely need to figure something out so they feel less like bricks when I get home.   I think I need bigger shoes so I can fit those heater thingies in there.  

It is BEAUTIFUL in the morning.   I took off at 6:15 this morning and didn't see any cars for the first half hour.   I did see 14 deer and a pair of hawks.   I also got to see the sun come up.   Loved it.   I figure I am going to bike around that time every day as it doesn't interrupt my schedule with the kids.   I have felt pretty stretched thin as per usual so starting the day with a little alone time and herds of deer sounds like a nice plan.  

I am thankful my clothes fit again too.   What a relief.   Dusting off the old wardrobe has been nice.   I am truly obsessed with this biking thing.   I've been in this position before so am familiar with the panic I feel if I might have to miss a day of biking.   Facepalm.   Yes.   Biking disorder.   I can eat more too!!!!   Yay!   Happy times in the cold.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Not so mysterious behavior

Nine kids.   I have never had kids who have been so plagued by ear infections as the youngest two have.   Ingrid, bless her heart, has the two yuckiest, red ears I have ever seen.   That explains a lot.   I took a peek at them at the doctor's office and they looked pretty blood red to me.   I am not expert but have seen what a normal ear looks like and that is so NOT what I saw.   Sigh.   I suppose this kills my pride of having kids who don't struggle with these things.   She spiked a fever and was laid out this morning and still is fighting the fever even with ibuprofen.   I guess I feel like I should have known something was up from her basic behavior.   It brings back memories of encouraging kids to eat who actually ended up losing their cookies.   There was a reason they wouldn't eat.    There was a reason SHE wouldn't eat which didn't include the losing cookie part but still, she was pretty miserable.   Sigh.  She did sit still for many a book today.  That was good for us both I think.   Praying she feels better in the morning. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Yucky Day

Just for the record.....I am no wonder mom.   Keeping on top of it all is a goal I should not even contemplate for a second.   Cranky me.   What a day.   I have no answers even if I attempt to give them or find them.   The best answer is Jesus.   My ineptness at this mom thing is a, no words.   Try, try, again.   Can it be spring yet?

Other end of the spectrum

I think I need to go back to school and take some classes on elder care.   Our evening 'new' family member Jim, revealed to Charley he doesn't think he has long to live.   Hmmmm......I am not sure what that means for him as he won't tell us.   I am a little suspicious he may have had some small strokes as he repeats himself a lot and seems to not remember some of the things we have talked about in the past. 

My soon to be in house member mother-in-law has stage 2 diabetes.   I don't know much of anything about that.   She has had small strokes for sure in the past.   She has successfully lost 30 pounds though too and wants to stay at her current weight.   My father-in-law is 85 and has ALSO had strokes but his were more significant.   I think I need to clear out the medicine cabinet and make some sort of organized space there to keep track of everything that goes with all of this. 

I don't want to lose 'myself' either in the changes around here.   If anyone outside of the family has expectations of me I am thinking I will most likely flounder.   I hope to follow through as well as I can on those things I have already committed to but might learn a lot about delegating.   Ugh.   I think I am having a bit of a panic attack just thinking about it all.   So.....I will stop thinking and get up and find my nine year old Benjamin's math book. has to still happen.   Karin has to keep her marbles.   Routine will either help me or kill me.   Where is the off button on my brain........

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Mrs. Conductor or conducting class

Admittedly the new conductor of the CSO is great.   You can sense and see him pulling everyone in to play their part and make each piece what he visions it to be or rather what he hears in his mind he wants it to be.   No doubt a conductor's mind is pulled in many directions as he works his way through each piece.  

I was thinking about how I feel much like a conductor when it comes to my orchestra, my family.   We are made up of many different players and talents.   I know family's individual strengths and challenges much like I am sure a conductor knows the strengths and challenges of each instrument and player.   To poke fun at myself, will the the horn player fumble the solo part?   Who should play it?   Can the violins tone it down so the flute part be heard?   Quiet them down so the smaller section can shine.   This all resonates with my life.   I actually enjoy figuring this all out.   The family members compose their own pieces in their own vocations and I help them as I can along the way.  

If the family orchestra is out of tune, then I am faced with how to help them harmonize better and not hurt the audience and each other with their dissonance.   The dissonance can send me off the edge honestly.   Dissonance and vying for fist chair.   With soon to be 14 members,  bumping around together we all will have to learn even more how to work together and harmonize.  

Conducting class is an ongoing process for me.   I screw up.   I get worn out and need a vacation but my vocations keep me plugging along most of the time.   I can't apply for a new position in a new orchestra and I doubt that what I wear charms anyone into listening or harmonizing any better.   I am......a mom.   A wife.   The conductor of this varied and multifaceted group.  They don't always appreciate what I have to say or ask them to do.   I am still a member of the orchestra called family too.   I am not just the conductor.   I will try hard to find days where I can just sit and listen to another orchestra performance but in the meantime, I will try to hang onto my position here and continue  my efforts to help this ensemble play well and nice together.  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Backwards again

I am figuring out it is easier to cook the evening meal earlier in the day so the stress is not on my head all afternoon.   Funny thing is though, that amount of work earlier did not make me any less tired now.   Cooking isn't that much work but remembering what I am doing must be work.   I'm glad it is over with so I can just sit here and chill and not feel the least bit guilty.   That was goal.....I think. 

Monday, February 20, 2012

From the mouth of babes

My three year old and five year old have remained keenly aware that we lost a baby in October.   He is buried in the back yard.   Sigh.   They talk about him all the time which is actually a good thing.   Stefan, five, has been talking with me more than usual about it.   He has said any number of the following many times.  "I miss the baby.   I wish the baby hadn't died.   Will I be able to play with the baby someday?   I can't wait till I get to play with the baby.  Maybe you can have another baby mommy and then I will have another baby to play with.  Why did the baby die."   Deep sigh.   Like I said, I am not upset he asks these things.   I appreciate his understanding that the baby was real and is waiting for him in heaven.   It is so very sweet.   The older children are aware but since they are not so small they don't talk about it very much.   I will not squelch Stefan's questions and conversation.   He obviously needs to talk about it.   Ingrid just talks about the baby when she is outside and visits where the baby is buried.   The older kids do look a bit freaked out when he does this as I think they must think I can't handle it.   It happened.   It's real.   Why not talk about it.   It is okay.   It is perhaps good for me to to have my little confidant to talk to when it comes up.   God bless his small self.   I love my kids.   The end. 


Trying not to panic.   I realize I cannot get everything done today.  I should really lay out a plan of attack for getting our house ready for Charley's parents.   Routines need to be more solid and we need to get rid of a bunch of stuff.   I make progress in spits and starts.   Lists.   Focus.   How to do that with sick and cranky kids.   The kids are better today but the youngest has decided he is an infant again in the nursing department.   Sigh.   I don't begrudge him ADD kicks in and I see everything to get done and it makes me.....hyper and unsettled.   I know, I know....dust bunnies can wait while the kids are small but frankly the organization of stuff around here cannot wait if I plan to keep my marbles.    Onward.   Time to pay all the bills so I can have a break from paper work.   Oh learning things.....must happen.   Yes, Karin is freaking out a bit. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

This is going to hurt

Potential pain stared me in the face three times on the same stretch of road whilst out biking the last few days.   Earlier this week  I was zipping along and my least favorite surprise happened.   A dog with the fiercest growl came out of no where and got too close for comfort.    Fear of  My mind went quickly to "this is going to hurt"  Fortunately the dog was only bluffing and my heart probably triple timed up that hill.  

The next day it had snowed the night before and all the roads were clear....except the growling dog road.   The growling dog did happen to make another appearance but I stayed calm and cool and didn't even give it credit for it's fierce growl..  Poor thing.  Growling wasted. suddenly got a bit more challenging to stay upright.   Snow.   Lots of it.  I slipped and slid my way up the hill on a not very melted snowy road.   Weeellllll.....what goes up, usually comes down.   On the other side of the hill the snow was much less cooperative.   I had a death grip on the handle bars and carefully searched for dry pavement.   That patch was a LONG way off.   "This is going to hurt" was very actively tripping through my head this time.   More like...."this going to hurt, this is going to hurt, this is going to hurt" sort of to the rhythm  of  "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can".    FINALLY reached the patch of pavement and FINALLY exhaled and was able to relax a bit grateful for my helmet and extra clothing even though I escaped  pain and also was thinking  of how stupid I was to attempt that hill with that much snow on the ground.   I am easily tempted when it comes to hills.  

The VERY next day, with nice clear roads, I.....succumbed to the growling, slipping, sliding road again.   What could go wrong today???  Right???   I might need to change my route.   I got to the top of the second hill and looked over at the same property I have passed day after day and noticed a big boxer like dog galloping down the drive way.  A few words came to mind....."This is going to...." amongst other words.    I had never seen THIS dog and it stopped halfway down the long driveway.  Phew.   You guessed it.   It changed its mind and started sprinting and barking fiercely at the stupid biker woman.    I was just waiting for it to take a hunk out of my leg.  "This is going to hurt"  (common theme on this road)  but fortunately the thing stopped its pursuit of the stupid me and went back home.   Deep breath.   Lots of them.   Have I mentioned I am scared of dogs????

I spent the rest of my ride home contemplating a new route.   We shall see if I am stupid....tomorrow.  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

And Wallflowers

To my amusement, I was asked to come join the group of parents after dear daughters recital and not be a wallflower.   Ha!   Well.....I am amused but not offended as what most are concerned about for my wallflowerness does not worry me.  It seems to worry others.    I am not at all perturbed by chilling out alone and not joining in small talk.   Small talk and I do not mix very well.   I didn't know anyone else in the room beside the teacher and of course my extrovert husband.   Is there something wrong with talking with my daughter and her friend who are kids verses filling the air am not sure.   The girls and I had fun and I enjoyed spending time listening to them talk and visit with each other.  When will I get a chance to listen to such happy exchanges if I choose to leave them and talk about....???   Content to do my thing.   It is okay. 

Piano Mom

I am not a soccer mom.  I am a piano mom.  It seems to be an art form to figure out how best to be a piano mom.   I am sure it is not a whole lot different from being a soccer mom or any other sort of mom of kids investing time in one particular talent.   Listening to my daughter play is a joy just like it was a joy to listen to her older sister.   Sitting in on her lessons is a little bit of a respid for me as I can just chill on the couch and soak in observing her interact with her teacher and literally see the light bulbs go off.   What I ponder is how not to be  too involved with the whole thing and allow the teacher to completely orchestrate her lesson and preparation for the next piano event, albeit her lesson or a competition.   I very carefully consider how much I talk to my daughter as a piano mom so as not to muck up what is already going on between her and her teacher.   I love the musical process and seeing it all come together and the end result is awesome.   And.....what if my daughter is not on top of her game some weeks?   Well, then it is carefully considering what sort of big deal or no deal at all I am going to make of it.   I usually make nothing of it and move on.   I do my best not to be the crazy pressure beauty pageant mom.   It is okay.   What if she decided she didn't want to play anymore?   What then?   Would I crush her with disappointment or just love her.    Hopefully it would be the latter.  She did a beautiful job this evening at her Stickley recital for her teacher's studio.   Wow.   Amazing.    Very proud of her. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Older Kids

So the time is drawing nigh for me to learn more about keeping the balance between understanding my kids point of view and not cramming mine down their throats.   I can think of several instances with my four and perhaps even with my my fifth kid, where I have had to take a deep breath and remember that their life is not mine.   They are not my property.   It takes me a little bit longer to process how I am going to discuss various things with them which come up in conversation instead of the straight forward comments which are directed at the younger kids, "I think you have had a little accident darling, please go change your clothes."    Life is just not that simple anymore.

Obviously they are different people than I am.   My pride in thinking I understand them can muddy the waters of my mind at times and then I have to switch gears to understanding where they are coming from.   I also have to patiently listen and understand or at least try to come to an understanding of where they are coming from.   I don't always understand but I guess that is okay.   Yes.  It is okay.   I pray for my kids and love them along.   I'm not always patient but try like anyone else.   I also have been challenging them to think by perhaps parenting in a different way.   Learning to ask poignant questions of the younglings is a new skill I am working on.   How do I help them to think.   They don't have to agree with me but I do want them to think and also be able to see other people's perspective.   This is tough. 

Funny it has occurred to me that my kids think they understand everything about me too.  I am their mother after all and they know me right?   Well, actually I can think of several instances lately when I could tell they did NOT understand where I was coming from and ya' know what?   That was okay too.   The journey just gets more interesting as I go along.   I am sure too that I I have not seen the end of this experience and hopefully will learn more from experience.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

The symphony and observing

When I go to the symphony, which is sort of rare nowadays, I spend much of my time thinking and soaking it in.   I soak in the people who are there to watch.   Some attendees amuse me with their pretentiousness.   However there are many in both the audience and the symphony which I sort of spend time watching and pondering.  I ponder the pretentious ones too but perhaps I don't find them quite as interesting.  The end result and the beginning and the end of my observing is,  I don't know how anyone can go to a great symphony concert and still believe in evolution.  

There was a lecture/discussion time before the concert and they had their composer in residence talk about her composition which they were performing later.   I loved listening to how she grew up in London, listened to Pink Floyd and the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, and other such bands as a child with her parents who not particularly interested in classical type music.   I was actually sort of reveling in this bit of information as it goes to show how great classical composers and musicians actually CAN be a product of such 'scandalous' upbringing.    

Anyway, just sitting and listening to her and the complexity of her life and her interactions with others could not possibly be a result of a creature who 'evolved'.   She was complex.   The man who interviewed her was just as complex and interesting.   The piece she composed was no small feat.   Loved it.   The Schubert was great and that guy was no simple guy.    Each and every member of the symphony got there somehow as little children who dinked around on their instruments, got serious and found their niche in the music world.    One talented group of players.   Talent, simple and complex people, simple and complex lives are not the product of evolution folks.  

Then there is the ordinary audience.   The guy in front of me intently listening.   The woman next to me during the intermission studying her program.  The lady on the elevator who was worried the elevator would not return to the main floor.   The man in the wheel chair being patiently cared for by his wife.   The lady beside me who was sad her husband was getting too old and feeble to come with her anymore.   I talked with her a long time before the concert and she just perked right up and talked about her kids and some people we  mutually knew.   She was from the same town I grew up in and her daughter went to school with my brother.   Small world.   My heart went out to her.   She dozed off a few times but clearly still loved a good day at the symphony.   I have a weird fascination with talking to older people and hearing their stories and the enthusiasm they have left in their old lives.   Taking an interest in the older generation is a comfort somehow and it is great to see them smile and it is endearing to see their pining for the health they used to know and the people they have spent time with in their lives.   Helps remind me I am not alone.  

The symphony members themselves and the conductor do have their ordinary lives they return to when not rehearsing and preparing.  They have families and homes in spite of their incredible talent.  They came from families and were little children to a mommy and daddy once upon a time and still are.    I don't know why I find this so interesting but these are some of things I ponder when I get the opportunity to just stop and observe people.   Observing is fun and interesting.     

Evolved.   Really?   Looking around at the ordinary, which really is not all that ordinary, and the wonders of people with unique gifts leaves me with no question that only God could create such a wonderful creation where people and the creation around us enrich our lives.   Even on a 'blue' day, the creation is still there filling our days.   God's creation is more than fascinating and is certainly not evolved.   Have fun and take pause to quietly watch and take joy in the people and creation around you!  

Chicago - where did you go????

Smile.   I spent the day with my mom in Chicago today wandering around a bit and then going to a symphony concert.   The symphony was great of course.   The wandering was a bit depressing.   There is really nothing left of what I knew and loved about Chicago back in the day.   At least there is nothing left in the old down town area.   There IS the CSO but there is no more Carson's or Carl Fischer, the Berghoff is changed.  There used to be great music stores and a large CSO store.   Gone.   There were about ten shoe stores in a row.   Um.   There WAS a Walgreens, CVS, Starbucks on seemingly every corner, Panera Bread, and one large Sears store.    These seem like places I can go to here.   There was only one store that I had the chance to visit which was interesting and that was an architecture themed store on Michigan Ave.  There are only a few real, unique restaurants.   I am not really sure what attracts people to downtown anymore other than the museums and concerts.    Those are good things of course but I miss the old Chicago.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to what there is to go see the next time I go. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Growing family

Early in April my in-laws will be moving in with us.    I can not give bunches of details of why but it will be a good thing for them and I know it actually will have its perks for us.   My father-in-law is 85 and spends most of his day getting ready for the day and then going back to bed.   He is unique as this has been his pattern for as long as I can remember really.   My mother-in-law will be happy to be of some use and help around here.   We will be crowded to be sure, but I guess we collect more family bit by bit.   How does that saying go?   To a mother of many, what are a few more mouths to feed and to love?  

It will have its challenges too.   I am about as laid back as you can get but believe it or not I do realize the work load that lays in my wake and I do my best to tackle the overwhelming amount of laundry, dishes etc. I just try not to talk too much about the overwhelming toddler/school clutter and just muster up the energy to get something done.     Our other newer member to our family is Jim our 65 year old neighbor.   Jim faithfully comes over to help with dinner and clean-up.   His reward is snuggling Evan up and rocking him to sleep.   I tease him that it will be an interesting picture when Evan is six, to see him rocking him to sleep.   Smile.   He realizes his routine will have to change.   Jim is not married and has no children so it is a joy to me to see him enjoying 'his' family.  

As I have told my mother-in-law Sylvia, she too will figure out her niche  in the family.   I suspect it will be in the laundry realm.   If anyone has a knack for folding laundry, it is Sylvia.  She knows how to hang up laundry and take it down.....neatly.     Perhaps we will have matched socks in our drawers.   She used to assist kids in folding their clothes in their rooms in days gone by on visits and I sort of objected.   I am to the point that I will not care if she assists them.   Perhaps then they will take some ownership of avoiding that sort of Grandma help by doing it themselves.    Perhaps I will be able to walk through their rooms in safety???

I mainly encouraged Sylvia to be able to relax and just be a part of a family.   To let Charles Sr., putz through the day and not worry about too much of his slowness as at 85, as  it is not that big a deal.   I am just amazed that my children still have all their grandparents and they don't know how blessed they are.   Grandpas are 85 and 83 and Grandmas are 72 and 74.   It will take some adjustment but this is what we do as families.   They have no other options really and some people have enough money to have parents in nursing homes but.......that is not the plan so far.   We shall see how it goes.    They are our parents and that is what you take care of them.

I have sort of chuckled that Charles and Sylvia are following Charley and my retirement plan so with each child for a time period and then someone will be the one be there to assist them in their final rest.   Charley and I call it Parent Roulette.   Nice.   We used to chuckle about that. is happening.   It will be fine.   I will be happy to see my elderly father-in-law have some acreage to wander around on with his son and sit and watch while Charley works on this and that.   Sylvia says she knows how to weed too.  

So stay tuned.   Preparation in the meantime.