Thursday, January 31, 2008

Or maybe I'm just lazy...

I think I'm becoming a Mennonite. Y'know, the long-skirted, long-haired (but always with the one-curl bangs, what's with that?) flowery gingham bedecked perpetually with-child ladies so common in rural areas?

You see, the problem is I am truly enjoying doing the grocery shopping less often. Like every other week. Maybe only once a month if I were a little more organized and had a bigger compound freezer. AND I used 30 coupons in one transaction today. Thir.ty. Wouldn't you love to be the dude behind me in line? So if the next time we bump into each other in Costco (where I don't even beLONG but I have blood relative contacts who share their account- our sect is tight like that) I'm wearing white sneakers and a denim skirt, a big tan fake leather purse and my cart looks like it's Y2K all over again, callll the poliiiice.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I haven't had many performances lately, and I'm starting to miss it. My duo has been working on some recordings, but other than that... crickets. It's scary to think how easily I could fall off the face of my life and into a different one, where being a mother is my defining characteristic and all those pesky years of schooling, competing and practicing were for vanity alone. Well, vanity and student debt. It's the one-two punch of less than essential doctoral degrees.

Don't get me wrong, having (almost) 2 kids will most certainly be one of the most important things about my life. But I plan to have a semblance of a music career as well, and believe it's the perfect compliment to J's day job. Once the kids are in school things will be a smidge less complicated, or at least complicated in different ways. I often find myself trying to plan ways to just muddle through the next hunk of years, viola-wise, so when I emerge on the other side of preschooldom I might have retained some artistic viability.

My solitary college student left for London for the semester with promises to work on all sorts of assignments and lug a school instrument across Europe on her back. That seems appropriate penitance for her only recently seeing the light and switching from violin to viola, no? I thought it was nice timing, actually, with my due date being smack in the middle of the semester.

Instead I feel left out. I have schemes and plans to build the viola department at our college, but it takes time when they've had more employee turnover than Dairy Queen for the past few years. Small schools like mine often dally when it comes to getting things in motion, and you may have noticed my atrophied career patience muscles.

So it's not that I'm not doing stuff about my career. And things. It's just a slower season, and I'm trying not to feel neglected by my colleagues and wonder what it will mean after the new baby.

Works for Me!

I've recently discovered a blog called Rocks in My Dryer. The author has a great thing going, where every Wednesday she hosts a blog carnival called Works for Me Wednesday, and people post suggestions on how to make life a little easier. I love going through the links- it usually takes me a couple days to get through the ones that catch my fancy. Plus, how smart is she with the idea-generating and hosting?

So here's my first post for WFMW.

Two year old Toby is tall enough and smart enough that he's now able to open our front door on his own, even when I lock the deadbolt. And as I like my heart to beat in a generally steady pattern, undisturbed by the whoosh of realization that he has escaped and is careening toward the street much faster than this pregnant lady can waddle, something had to be done. We'd rather not mess with installing any additional locks, lasers or stunning devices, so when this excellent set of bells came to me at Christmas, I knew just what to do.

He plays with them occasionally, yes, but after the first few days I expect he'll forget about them and they will only jingle when he's on the run. It's the jingle + silence that you're dreading listening for, anyway.

Any kind of bells would work, and if you are really smart and attach them (maybe with a wreath hook?) high up, the kid couldn't even fake you out by playing with them. Jingling bells would forever make your heart stop just a little, too!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Lately life is like being in an Oprah show audience over at casa del jwards- gifts are piling up under all our chairs.

We just got this sweater set in a package from the Kalispell grandparents. People who can knit are cool, and tend to be incredibly generous to boot. I love the hat- he wore it to church this morning with a brown plaid flannel and I felt like we were almost as hip as the other parents. He's going to be wearing that thing all the time.

The chair he's sitting on's from my aunt & uncle in Spokane. They are practically professional thrift & antiquers and we've benefited a bunch from their finds since Toby's arrival. They are my home-decor-finding idols.

Then there's that black fabric photography background. It came from my parents to J for Christmas, and it is going to be so rad to have that thing. Everything looks better in front of it. I mean, even this tattooed freak's enormous pregnant belly seems practically... naturalesque.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


We have been talking, thinking, praying and reading alot in the last week.

We're no longer sure we should continue to pursue X's adoption. She is a toddler now, and as such will need some careful parenting in the first few years to ensure she is able to attach well to our family. She's also a pretty high-maintenance kid, most likely a healthy aspect of her normal personality.

If she had been available eight months ago, I believe we would already have her in our family and we would have that time under our belts. Our own two-year-old would have had some time to adjust to her and vice versa. We'd have all the logistics and carseats and rooms figured out.

Instead I am due in 9 weeks, which sounds like right about the time X's state would have liked to send her our way. We are probably moving, and this year is going to be full of some serious transitions for us and for our kids already. Over the past week (has it really only been a week?!), I have felt no sense of excitement. Some nervousness I would expect, but this blank dread? I could not have anticipated the gray weight of this decision or the lack of joyful anticipation. I am not one to be led around by my emotions, but I don't feel this is the right time to commit to a child who deserves the full measure of her parents' time and energy.

I believe God has grace available to us that we cannot even fathom, and I hope to live as though I know that grace will be there for me even in my parenting. But over the past few days I have been surprised to find a certain peace with our change of heart. Neither choice- parenting while under stress or letting X go without knowing what will happen next for her- feels anything less than wrenching. I did not feel led either way despite begging for a specific direction, but that modicum of peace has meant... well, it's frankly indescribable. This doesn't mean I haven't wept daily. And it doesn't mean that I'm sure I don't need grace to cover even this decision. There's no right or wrong here, no damn balloons will pour out to show we are following the right path.

This is by far the hardest decision my husband or I have faced. It is difficult at this point to even describe all the factors we have considered. We have taken this holiday weekend and turned ourselves inside out discussing, praying and resting. My parents have taken Toby for a birthday weekend sleepover, just another way they have helped us beyond what we can ever tell them. J's parents have given us wise and compassionate counsel worth more than I can say.

I would really like divine balloons right now, but I will take this respite from guilt and worry.

Happy Birthday to Toby!

Yesterday Toby turned two.

He's quite the kiddo, and becoming more him week by week. Right now his funniest habits are:
1. saying No to almost any question, and following up with an extremely serious, slow and prolongued head-shaking,
2. repeating any random words that catch his interest
and 3. acting out anything sharp-hot-dangerous by saying "No Touch, Sharp, heh-huh-heh-huh" with that last thing being him breathing in and out dramatically. It almost sounds like a donkey braying softly. I know what you're all thinking and yes, he must get all his drama from his daddy.

I made a ridiculous train cake with a poured sugar lake and cupcakes on the side. It was a hoot, and I would totally do it again.

Toby is so incredibly set for trains and train accessories. The grandparents on both sides provided an insane amount of toys and the table for him. Setting it up and unveiling it was the most fun I've ever had giving a gift, and it wasn't even technically from me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Holy cow!

The girl we might adopt is coming for a one-week visit at the beginning of February.

I'm not sure what else to say about that right now, because when I try to think of a descriptive word or emotional state to pin on the whole thing, I realize the exact opposite of whatever I was going to say is also and equally true. Imagine one of those big-cheeked goldfish, who open their mouths as though to tell you something only to shut them back up when they can't quite get the thoughts to ripen.

More here, if you missed the long slow backstory...

Abstemious Viagra

Spam is funny. The subject of one today caught my eye, because "abstemious" looked legit and I had no idea what it meant.

Here's the scoop:
abstemious \ab-STEE-mee-uhs\, adjective:
1. Sparing in eating and drinking; temperate; abstinent.
2. Sparingly used or consumed; used with temperance or moderation.
3. Marked by or spent in abstinence.

Funny they put that in their ad for Viagra, no?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

New means perfect, Part II

I really didn't forget to set goals in the two remaining areas of my life in 2008: God and Viola. (Not to be confused with Viola God, though I've known a few who surely thought they deserved that title...)

So far I've made a bit of progress.
*I got Toby into the Kiddie Exploration class at the community center (Friday morning alone time, here I come!)
*I've kept writing down every single thing we spend in my little blue book.
I haven't been doing much in my Health department except maybe eat a little less sugar, partly because I seem to get more contractions when I run around too much and mostly because you can't make me. That'll come when there's just one of us in this body and I'm cool with that for now.

Finally Internet, without further ado, here are the final two categories...

1. Maintain some kind of weekly study or devotional, written by somebody smart, because I need structure and like to feel I've finished stuff.
2. Read some theology by John Piper (in progress!), N.T. Wright and add some as the year goes on. (Tiffany? I know I keep asking for the same recommendations, but?...)
3. Get a mom's group going again at my house.

1. Assess and rewrite goals monthly.
2. Schedule lessons with colleagues. Aim for two per month.
3. Assess and rewrite goals for Nocturna monthly including; recitals, arrangements.
4. Get published- thesis, other article ideas.

This past week has been productive.

On the viola front, I made some little recordings of stuff with my pianist Anne and realized after listening to one that I rather liked it. Whoa! Recording is hard and there are usually cringing moments or if-only's in each one. The illusion that you can just keep recording until it's perfect creeps in and you take fewer chances. Pretty soon you aren't thinking much about expression, but are focused on technical issues or hoping you can keep your concentration and make it to the end of the take. I think being pregnant makes me more practical: I am in a do-what-I-can-and-be-pleased-with-that mode.

Homewise, I'm proud to say I am on a long streak of cooking all our meals (except date nights!). We're sticking to our budget prototype and with the glut of Christmas I don't feel I need to shop for anything more right now.

I think this organizing and being practical streak is my version of nesting.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Braxton sucks sermon.

Sorry, blog. I'm pretty tired lately.

I spend a lot of time cursing Toni Braxton. Okay, I know they're really called Braxton-Hicks, but whatever you call them, practice contractions are of the devil. Besides, she clearly has poor taste in how to help endorse dental floss and Charmin.

Anyway, I'm running around feeling all my insides tense up and wondering if we are going to go from a family of three to five in a short period of time, maybe even shorter than we thought. And I wonder if I will be allowed to have a life outside mommyhood between now and my first year in the AARP. And if maybe parenting's what I'm supposed to do to the exclusion of other stuff. And whether I can do all this and still focus on my faith and my marriage let alone my music. Yup, MY. Mine. Me me me. I feel no guilt saying I've gotta be able to honestly commit to the roles I choose, especially parenting.

I've been reading John Piper's Future Grace, and it has already changed the way I thought about how we are supposed to live. The modern Church's way of sort of making good living a required & expected response to God, a "thank-you" lived out to repay Him, cheapens grace. It's unattractive to non-believers because it is all premised on a transaction-style dead and dusty faith. You're either in... or you're out. Worse, it's not what's emphasized by God in the Bible. Piper makes a very convincing case for our living by reliance and joy and thankfulness for Future Grace- well, here are some of my favorite of his words:

If grace is to be free- which is the very meaning of grace- we cannot view it as something to be repaid... {the debtor's ethic}
The Bible does not assume the true believers will have no anxieties. Instead the Bible tells us how to fight when they strike.
This is not decoration on the permanent structure of Christian life, it is what makes the Christian life permanent. We live moment by moment from the strength of future grace...

This is a radical idea, and it brings the emphasis back to a lively and almost dangerously current view of faith. There should be no worldly safety in being a Christian (incidentally, no guarantee of prosperity either). God's got us in a world full of all kinds of challenges but even greater piles of grace are available and God deigns to allow his grace to show (be glorified!) through us. It should be a little scary to ask for opportunities to be given those gifts, if we really understand what we're asking.

Just in case anyone's still reading, looky what Toby ate for dessert after lunch. Playdough!!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Horseshoes and hand grenades...

Can I just say, I'm really looking forward to the moment in time when science and medicine and Star Trek all align to create one of these little electric shaver-looking body scanner devices they wave over you to see exactly what is happening in your body in no uncertain terms?

I had a regular OB check-up on Monday, and it was the one where they do a glucose screen to see if you have gestational diabetes. You have to drink an unpleasant sweet syrup (why don't they just give the pregnant ladies a doughnut?!), wait an hour and then have your blood tested to see if your body has freaked out or whether you should allow yourself all the Egg Nog Latte's your heart desires for the remaining 2.5 months of hugeness. Mine was apparently fine because no one has called to tell me otherwise, but I wanted to tell you all about my doughnut idea before somebody else publishes it.

What was a little widgy was my protein level. They tested twice (it's a pee-in-a-cup type test, for which people in their third trimester have some seriously Olympian skillz) and could basically only say, "it looks somewhere between trace and positive."

This happened a few months back with another test (are you leaking, are you leaking, ew that's gross! ew that's gross! etc...), where they said it seemed pretty much kinda okay-ish "except maybe for one spot" and just recommended I think happy thoughts and let them know if my check engine or holy crap I'm about to have a baby light came on during the course of the day...

My hospital (OHSU) is very impressive looking. The Center for Women's Health is in the newest part, where the shiny silver tram lands, and is packed with expensive looking art and luminescent glass wall tiles. It's reassuringly posh. Point being, when I pee in a cup, I expect them to know for sure what it means- and to spare me the tea-leaf reader's digest.

Hmphh. I suppose I'll just have to waddle through the week with my whatever anxiety I couldn't park on my blog in tow.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

My viola-piano duo is playing a little concert tonight. On the program is a rearranged arrangement of "Silent Noon" by Vaughn-Williams with words by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. My favorite line is: Your eyes smile peace. He turns out to be kind of interesting, so I'm posting this while I continue to think about what I want from 2008.

Gabriel Dante Rossetti (1828-1882)
SILENT NOON lyricist
"Mainly remembered as a painter.
During this time, Rossetti acquired an obsession for exotic animals, and in particular wombats. He would frequently ask friends to meet him at the "Wombat's Lair" at the London Zoo in Regent's Park, and would spend hours there himself.
Rossetti described the sonnet form as a "moment's monument", implying that it sought to contain the feelings of a fleeting moment, and to reflect upon their meaning."

His wife overdosed on laudanum and he buried a book of poems with her, but later had them exhumed by his slug of an agent. The poems were harshly criticized and the whole strange episode pushed him deeper into insanity. Addicted to Chloral (one of the chemicals used to make DDT), he eventually died because of it.

Isn't he just perfect for a viola recital?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

New means perfect, right?

I'm trying to take stock and work on some goals for the new year. For some reason I think I'm too good for the word "resolutions" which has the scent of desperation and futility to it in my mind, but basically that's what I'm making.

Do you do resolutions? Do you think about this stuff at the new year? Do you feel vaguely uneasy about things you didn't finish in 2007 and your ability to get it together in '08? What's your strategy? Hmm? Hmmmmmm?

So far there are five areas I'm able to consider: Health, Parenting, Home, Viola and God.

The first three are relatively easy.
Health: I'd like to get back to regular running (walking for now with my enormous belly), sign up for three fun runs of at least 10K, and maintain a food diary. These are all doable with a kid or two nearby and on minimal sleep.

Parenting: Get Toby into some activities as long as he seems to like them: sign up for a swim class for now, and try out the Friday preschool at the community center. I also want to take a monthly photo, either with the same background and pose or with some artsy and embarrassingly goofy pose. Gotta get it while the getting's good, I always say, and he's too little to roll his eyes yet.

Home: Stick to writing out all expenditures. Work on some sweet (intense!) paint color-schemes whether we end up staying here or moving. Amass a personal cookbook with everyday recipes- not too many ingredients, not too futsy.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Homer again Homer again.

We are home!

The holidays were great. We got too many thoughtful gifts to list, ate too much, watched the Simpsons movie many many times, played reindeer games and became real parents.

No, we didn't have our second kid yet (a large (REALLY, it's getting LARGE over here) part of me wishes things could hurry along in that medically inadvisable department). So how did we become so much more than velveteen parents? By surviving a ten hour road trip in which the kid hurled all over. Twice.