Friday, April 29, 2011

Theology of a Broken Squirrel

Last week me and my girls were on a walk when Melaina noticed a squirrel lying dead in the road. This squirrel had no doubt met it's bitter end while being at the wrong place at the wrong time in front of either a soccer mom racing to a PTA meeting (I can poke fun at suburban moms since I am one) or perhaps a text-crazed teenager blatantly disregarding the neighborhood speed limit-Darn Kids!! Wow, I'm getting old...

Anyway, Melaina saw this sad little creature as we passed by and she asked, "Mommy what's that?"
"A squirrel", I said.
"What kind of squirrel", she asked
"A dead squirrel, sweetie", I answered. Smooth, mom. Real smooth.
"What happened to him" She asked with concern in her voice.
"A car ran him over, I suppose" again, let's not beat around the bush here.

She was quiet for a minute and said her favorite question lately, "what?"
This is what she does if she has trouble processing information. She just keeps asking "What?", hoping I guess that an answer will come to her that makes sense, (my husband does the same exact thing) but she just couldn't quite understand what was wrong with that squirrel. Finally she decided. "He's broken?"
"Yes, sweetie, he's broken". There, done and done I thought.

A couple of days went by and as we were all sitting at the kitchen table, M looks out the window and says, "look at that squirrel!"
I look out at the squirrel sitting on the rail of the deck and then Melaina says, "that squirrel is fixed."
I looked puzzled not sure that I had heard her correctly when my husband reminded me that the other squirrel aka the dead squirrel was broken and therefore, this one is fixed meaning, well, not dead.
"Oh, yes, he is fixed" and I thought that was the end of it, but then...
"Mommy, where is that other squirrel? A trash can?"
Now here is one of those defining moments in parenthood and no matter how well you thought you would handle that first conversation about death with honesty and PC vaugeness, you find words coming out of your mouth that just don't sound right. I remember when my first dog, Scruffy got ran over by a car and my father and my Granny and Poppy told me that they had taken him to a farm. That's right folks, that cliche "farm" that dogs go to where they can run around and be happy with other animals. All I kept thinking was, why in the world would they take him to a farm when he was just fine where he was (at my Granny's house because my mom cannot stand furry creatures, but that's another whole story in and unto itself). The truth is that if they had just told me he had died, I would have been sad, cried for a day or two and gotten over it. Beyond that, I would have begun to understand that there is a cycle to life and that neither animals nor people live forever. Now, these same people, mind you, had no trouble taking me to funerals of all sorts of family members, close or distantly related and walking me right up to the casket at the viewing as they touched the hand or face of the deceased - freaky. But Scruffy couldn't be mourned over and buried in the back yard, he had to go to a "farm". Again, more stories for a later time.

Back to the conversation at hand between myself and my three year old. She asks about the squirrel being in the trashcan and I just can't bring myself to tell her that that is where life ends, in a trash can. I can't let her think that life and death are so brutal and that once you're dead you are discarded like trash, so I did what any rational person would do. I told her the squirrel was in heaven. Well, that opened up a whole can of worms let me tell you. I won't go into the entire conversation but basically here are a few questions that were asked only to be answered awkwardly and incompletely...
"where's heaven?"
"Other squirrels are there in heaven?"
"God got that squirrel?"

Needless to say, Melaina is none the wiser about matters of life or death, but at least we got that first conversation over with and I'll be ready next time. Maybe that farm idea isn't so bad after all.

PS. Now I have elton John's "Circle of Life" running through my head. Usually, I would post a link to a You Tube of the song for you all to enjoy, but I don't want you to blame me if it gets stuck in your head all day.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Finally Exhaling And Some Melaina Moments

Whew, the last couple of weeks has seemed to fly by in a dizzying haze. Another cold virus came and went, my husband's Easter season singing commitments and my own are now over, as is his Easter break. It has been a good couple of weeks though with dying Easter eggs, Easter egg hunts, Easter dresses, baskets, visits from the Bunny himself and some unforgettable Melaina moments.
I could give a couple of examples of the hilarious dialogue between M and myself over the last couple of weeks, but I think they will lose a little something of their charm in translation. This moment however has been preserved forever thank to the modern convenience of the iPhone.
If you listen closely you can hear the music being played in the grocery store as well as Clara's hiccups...

Melaina is a nut, plain and simple. And I love that nut more than words can express.

Here are a couple of shots of M dying Easter eggs. Her favorite part was wearing my red apron.
We are in that phase of being completely incapable of taking a "normal" smiling picture. Oh well, who wants normal?
I've got tons to write about but I will try to chop it up into digestible daily bits instead of one long mama-jama blog post. Here's one last pic from a flower fairy named Melaina. She seems a little peeved, at what I have no idea.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm good enough...I'm smart enough... and doggone it...

It is true, in my opinion, that a large number of people in the classical singer world have sizable egos, larger than average opinions of themselves and are prone to neurotic and narcissistic personalities. I am not at all excluding myself from this lot. There are, of course, those who are more the level headed, down to earth type, but in my experience, these people are rare and since they are in the minority one doesn't immediately bring to mind these types when conjuring up images of opera/classical singers. Of course, if we are going to stereotype the image of an opera singer, we may as well go ahead and picture a soprano breaking a glass with her high notes, brass armor and cone shaped bras, diva moments and large bodies to go along with the egos. And no, that's not a picture of me.

And scene.

Since my return to the civilian life almost 8 years ago, I have had plenty of time to reflect on that other life and the type of personality traits it requires and have thought of myself as somewhat separated from all of that drama and nonsense of ego and diva moments, although my husband would definitely disagree with that assessment. However, as I have entered into a new world entirely, that of a stay at home mom of two, I realize that I shouldn't let go of that person (as if I could) and that ego may be my best friend!

After Tom and I were married, I moved within a variety of fulfilling jobs such as maintaing my own voice studio, and working at my alma mater recruiting music students. The thing I miss the most about working a full time job is not the daily conversation with adults, the dressing in nice clothes, the getting to go to the bathroom BY MYSELF (although that is highly underated), or even the pay. What I miss most is that daily affirmation that I took so completely for granted. After I finished an assignment or a student's recital, I would receive comment after comment of "Good job" or "Well done". Even complaints and criticism within the working world are handled while dishing out a mild dose of compliments such as, "I can see that you are working very hard, but this other item needs more of your attention".

I just didn't know how to appreciate all that validation! Oh, how times have changed. Now, my conversations with adults during the hours of 9-5 that are outside the realm of this"stay at home mom" talking to other "stay at home moms" (and I would be sticking my head in an oven if it weren't for ALL of the moms that I call friends, let me tell you) happen only by happenstance at the supermarket, doctors office, or car pool lane at the preschool and those conversations total about 3 minutes a day if I've even had a chance to get out of the house which is certainly not a guarantee.

My point, and I do have one, I promise, is that a good hearty ego is not a thing to be ashamed of. In fact it may be the very thing needed for survival after a day of being completely ignored by a three and a half year old when I tell her to come back to the table and finish dinner, or to pick up her toys before nap, or if I ask her what book her highness would like me to read. Or let's say I'm not even giving orders, but I have done all I can do to get through the smattering of necessary chores and making sure she has the lunch she wants and the show she wants and for goodness sake the blanket she wants and then after all that, she gives me a whiney "but I wanted apple juice not milk". What is it that picks my weary soul up of the floor? Energy? nope. A good attitude? nope. An awareness that I am an insanely lucky woman who gets to do this every single day? Sometimes, but getting to my point...nope. It's ego, people! Short and sweet. It's knowing that I will not be broken by this 3 foot cranky person who shouts directions at me like the most hateful of stage directors. I've taken orders from taller and crankier people and I've come through it unscathed. Insane, but unscathed.

I know this was one of those ramblings that I sometimes warn about but the truth is that it's my blog and I'll ramble if I want to. There goes that ego again.

PS - Please know that I say all of this in jest and it is only after a completely horrific day of being torn down and having my will utterly flattened that I write these silly things. I'm really not all that full of myself. I do in fact understand that humility wins over egotism, blah, blah, blah.

Now for a little laughter and a daily affirmation... Eat your heart out, Stuart Smalley

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me...

...motivated! I know it's weird. My entire life, mondays have been about a beginning that I was not all too excited to embark upon. But lately, I love a Monday. Here's the deal. Weekends are great, don't get me wrong, but I tend to get absolutely nothing done on weekends in terms of housework. Part of it is my need for something different than the rest of the week, part of it is wanting to put family first and just enjoy my peeps, and part is downright denial that there is anything that needs to be done. All of these factors add up to the fact that by Sunday night, a whole lot of work is looming, but I've generally had enough of the denial that I am actually ready to face the tasks at hand.

So what will it be tomorrow? Making much needed phone calls that I have been putting off such as dentist appointments, summer kids classes for Melaina, etc? Or maybe putting the Mr. Clean magic eraser to work on those scuffs on my walls and baseboards? Laundry? Dusting every piece of furniture? Changing out winter/summer clothes in the closet? Shredding old mail? Rearranging M's toys now that Clara can get to anything and everything? Who knows, the possibilities are endless. Maybe I'll do all of it and then some.

Now, I could end this post here and let you think that I am such a productive woman who seizes the day and has endless energy. But you should know me better than that by now, so here's the other half of the truth. Yes, Monday I will certainly wake up with renewed vigor and tackle much needed chores, but that is the peak for the entire week. By Tuesday morning, I have a remarkably less motivated spirit and amount of "getterdoneness". The rest of the week will be a quickly declining arch of housekeeping that will culminate in another weekend of "this is my time" and then another injection of Monday adrenaline. That's not all, while doing these great projects, I will no doubtably belittle myself during any said chore as it is happening.

Example: A couple of Mondays ago I got down on my hands and knees all Cinderella style and scrubbed the bejeezus out of my kitchen floor. At first I felt so proud of myself for finally tackling one of my least favorite things in the world, but that pride quickly gave way to absolute shame and guilt and downright emotional self abuse. The whole time I was scrubbing, all I could think about was, "How in the !@#$ did I let these floors get this bad", and "This is disgusting, I am the worst housekeeper ever", and last but not least, "Shame on me!"

If you are thinking I need a shrink (and a housekeeper) you are correct, but I digress. I am still trying to focus on keeping the main thing the main thing and not let my many shortcomings get me down. Bottom line: life is good and when it is all said and done, I won't be wishing I had spent more time on my hands and knees cleaning. It's the hugs and kisses, memories and loving moments that a well spent life is made up of. For the heck of it though, I will let y'all know what tomorrow's renewed sense of Martha Stewart inspired chore tackling brings! Until then...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cwawa...and Chicken

Melaina affectionately (and sometimes not) refers to Clara as Cwawa. It is the cutest thing to see the absolute joy in her face when she gets in the car after school and sees Clara in her car seat. Well today, Cwawa and I went for her 9 month visit. She's doing great and was hammin' it up for the doctor. The doctor went through her checklist of developmental milestones and when she read/asked, "Do you ever worry that she is unusually quiet?" we both just laughed as Clara was "la-la-ing" as loud as she possible could.

I tell you I love this little girl more than I ever thought I could. To think that I was worried that I wouldn't be able to love two children as I much as I could love one! Ha! There's plenty of mama's love to go around!

Clara also has another nickname lately. It is one that I have bestowed upon her and I have no real understanding from where it comes. Her nickname: "chicken". I think maybe it started with "chicky monkey", again, no clue about that one. But now, "chicken" is what I call her all the time. Sometime it even morphs into "chicken noodle" or "chicken nugget". Weird, but you can't get me to stop it. I'm even beginning to like it.

So here are a couple recent pics of our Cwawa or Chicken, take your pick..

check out those killer thighs! Oh, ha, ha, I made a joke and didn't even mean to...get it? Chicken thighs. (Audible groan) I know, that was bad.


Chicken and Gigi time.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Full Circle Moment

This evening as I was driving back home from teaching via 385, I had a moment that hit me so hard I could barely stay on the road. That's an exaggeration, I want you to know. I shouldn't exaggerate because in fact, on this very stretch of 385, I once had an awful accident in which I very nearly managed to get myself as well as several other people killed, but that is neither here nor there.

I was enjoying my commute as it is really one of the only quiet times in my life in which I can choose to chat with friends, chat with God, listen to music, or actually be quiet. So tonight, I decided to listen to some tunes and I grabbed a CD from a stack of loose CDs (neat freaks go ahead and gasp) and popped it in. It was a live recording of the Indigo Girls.

I know that I am not alone in stating that the Indigo Girls are very much a part of my make up as any strand of DNA that is within me. I don't care how long it has been since I've heard one of their songs, the moment the first few chords are strummed, I am immediately transported to memories of cassette tapes, tour t-shirts, Lilith Fair concerts, and young womanhood. There are some songs in particular that leave a mark, an imprint, a brand onto one's heart. These songs have a life all their own. Cheesy, real cheesy, but that is that.

This is one such song that I remember learning in high school. I remember in fact, driving 385 listening to it turned up as loud as it would go and I was singing to the top of my lungs. It meant so much to me then, and today as I heard it, loud as ever, I had a moment. Oprah would call it a full circle moment, in which the woman I have become connected with the girl I used to be and it was bittersweet. There were dreams that I had once had that didn't come true and there are things that have come to pass that I could have never dreamed. Since 17 I have made mistakes - big ones, and I have had triumphs, also big. I have traveled, I have seen, I have loved, I have grieved, I have learned, and I have loved some more. Life is amazing. And the coolest thing of all is that the meaning of timeless songs like this one, keep changing as your life progresses, as perspective changes as stages shift and give way to the next chapter. Enjoy.

Love's Recovery - Emily Saliers

During the time of which I speak it was hard to turn the other cheek
To the blows of insecurity
Feeding the cancer of my intellect the blood of love soon neglected
Lay dying in the strength of its impurity
Meanwhile our friends we thought were so together
They've all gone and left each other in search of fairer weather
And we sit here in our storm and drink a toast
To the slim chance of love's recovery.

There I am in younger days, star gazing,
Painting picture perfect maps of how my life and love would be
Not counting the unmarked paths of misdirection
My compass, faith in love's perfection
I missed ten million miles of road I should have seen
Meanwhile our friends we thought were so together
Left each other one by one in search of fairer weather
And we sit here in our storm and drink a toast
To the slim chance of love's recovery.

Rain soaked and voice choked like silent screaming in a dream
I search for our absolute distinction
Not content to bow and bend
To the whims of culture that swoop like vultures
Eating us away, eating us away
Eating us away to our extinction

Oh how I wish I were a trinity, so if I lost a part of me
I'd still have two of the same to live
But nobody gets a lifetime rehearsal, as specks of dust we're universal
To let this love survive would be the greatest gift we could give
Tell all the friends who think they're so together
That these are ghosts and mirages, these thoughts of fairer weather
Though it's storming out I feel safe within the arms of love's discovery

Here's a performance with Sarah McLachlan, enjoy.