Monday, September 08, 2014

Fall is falling into gear, ready or not!

We seem to have slipped into life as a family of five without putting up too much of a fight.

Primrose adores her brothers and vice versa. They are learning about keeping their treasures out of her reach, and about how to trade with her for another toy when they want something she has ahold of.  She is learning that tantrums (even adorable, slow-motion dramatically staged tantrums) don't work very well. We are learning to suck it up when her brothers make the same annoying sound eleventy thousand times in a row in the car just because it makes her giggle. We’ve asked them to do more around the house for us, and they’ve both mentioned in passing that babies are a lot of work.

Although it’s true the workload has increased, it hasn’t been as bad as I had expected. I think it really helps that the boys are six and eight and they have been taught that they are supposed to be helpful. It’s always more of a hassle to require them to do things, but every once in a while I see a payoff. I have to check back with them, and often outright nag them or correct a job half done. The long-term goal of self-sufficient generous human beings is a long way off, but at least over the last two weeks we have gotten glimpses that we are on the right mountain.
Grandma Karen's fire pit! 

First s'mores- she was not a fan, though she did like the plain marshmallows.

We have hit the jackpot in terms of our toddler sleeping and that has been a huge big blessing wrapped in cash and topped off with a ribbon made of chocolate. It is incredible to me that our schedule is basically unchanged. The boys and she are all in bed by 8:30. We are all up around 9am. Yes, all. I sleep late and you are jealous. The only day we regularly get up early is on Tuesdays for our homeschool group and it ain’t easy (for me).

Because I am a night owl, 8:30 to a bit after midnight or 1am is my time. Even with this new little Ward in the house, I still have my precious four or five hours at night for talking to my husband without using code words, getting on the treadmill, tidying up work, researching stuff and goofing off on the internet. Practicing the viola still has to happen while the kids are up because the townhouse is too small for them to sleep through it. Every afternoon I do that, and most days it is interrupted every 3 to 5 seconds. Still, if I stick to it and keep picking up the instrument anyway it does start to feel like progress after a few hours. As an added bonus, I’ve also gotten really good at talking (or yelling) while playing and at moving toys around with my feet.

Due to the pervasive low level of chaos I think my mind has actually gotten better at holding a thought until a distraction passes, though sadly it seems to apply only to my instrument. Remembering the grocery list or the list of who I wanted to call that day has decayed rapidly over the last couple of years. Oh well, that’s what iPhones, calendars and spouses are for, right?
Hey, what is going on with everybody's tongues? Mine feels fine. 
This coming week will be a big test of all the good scheduling and bonding we’ve built. Several night rehearsals and a ridiculous weekend await. I have two rehearsals plus a concert on Saturday and another concert & rehearsal on Sunday, plus 200 miles of driving on each of those days. These are the weeks when I feel like I’ve been a bit selfish, saying yes to the gigs that feed me (either musically or financially) but putting more of the burden on my family. It’s not easy finding a balance, because in music performance freelancing saying no often means not being asked again. Playing with certain colleagues can be such a fulfilling and sustaining thing, and saying no can mean a season with fewer of those out-of-body incredible creative experiences that make me a better violist.

It appears a soapbox moment is forcing its way onto my keyboard- bear with me or skip this paragraph at will. There has been a lot of press given to articles declaring work outside the home (usually full time work, preferably high-hourly commitment extremely competitive corporate work) the best way for a woman to take care of herself, to show she values herself, and to make way for women at the top of society. It’s sad to me that women still aren’t allowed to make the choice of what mix of tasks should fill their day unless it meets an agenda somewhere or stretches society first before pleasing her as an individual. Actually, it’s shocking to me that women everywhere don’t throw down the articles & books, roll their eyes at the TV interviews and turn their backs on anybody pressuring them to conform to yet another societal ideal. In church circles, people talk about the pendulum of theological error swinging from too-conservative to too-liberal.  This pendulum just as clearly exists in celebrity power-mongers telling women what they should want and how they should spend their lives. Oppression, misogyny and sexism are real, but they can come from the people promising to free you as well.

All that is to say, whatever guilt I have about taking work (or not taking it) is all my own. The viola year looks like a good one. Yesterday a percussion/viola piece by Tigran Mansurian finally came in the mail from the publisher in Germany. I'm looking forward to working on that and I'd like to get the Ligeti solo sonata worked up, too. I should program it somewhere- that never fails to get me in gear. It's hard to sustain inspiration without deadlines and out of community.  

Everything is taking off and the craziness of the year is upon us. Swimming started again today. Fang Fang did just fine delaying her nap until after we got home, another worry of mine proven unworthy of thought. Hopefully we continue to make our own rhythm for the year as a family and all the balls can stay in the air. 
That's my brother in the corner! Gege!! Hey, open the gate and let me in!

I think I can climb this sucker. Isaac! Help me out!

Seriously, I'm ready for swimming. Let me at 'em.

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