Things I Think About...[random]

Jake is at work. It's 10:04 PM. He left at 7:30 this morning. A perk: he came home a little after 6, and we were able to put up the Christmas tree and do a little decorating together. It was fun watching the girls. Yesterday, he left for his church job at 8:30 AM and got home at 5:15, 15 minutes before we left for choir rehearsal. It was a totally normal workday, except that it was one of seven days of the week. That's right, seven days a week. This schedule is so crazy. And crazier still that it's so normal to us. Nothing to do but own it.

[He's home! He's home, and I'm blogging...and I didn't do the dishes. Pause.] Okay, after a quick conversation, he's off to email his students the info they need to write a reflection paper. In addition to being all musician-y, he teaches three sections of a course called Music and the Human Experience. For a "professor," that's border-line full load by itself. And that's just the first three hours of his MWF. I thought I was done talking about his schedule in the first paragraph...

Moving on...

My foot has been hurting all day. I finally looked at it this evening, and the makings of a large bruise are becoming visible on the top. I love mystery bruises. My shins almost always have a bruise or two or three on them. A few years ago, I discovered I used them to catch the dishwasher door when opening it. Mystery solved. But I don't have a dishwasher anymore, and haven't since we moved into Dot. I now attribute my bruised shins to climbing on counters (and the washer and dryer). I'm short. I still climb on counters to reach things. I'll do it until I'm physically unable to, and I'll have bruised shins until then, too.

A few grocery trips ago, I made the mistake of going to Whole Foods first, and buying everything on my list there. It was so convenient. So I did it again and again. My grocery budget has exploded. On one hand: convenience. On the other hand: my budget. It's a tough one. Tougher still because I used to be able to get everything I wanted while satisfying my budget between Sunflower and Walmart. Then Sprouts took over Sunflower, and the produce I used to buy from there became just about as expensive as Whole Foods. If I had all the time in the world, and could go shopping without children, budget would win, no question. It's a thorn in my side. After today's grocery trip, I feel like my budget is getting ready to punch convenience in the face. And Whole Foods was out of vegan chocolate chip cookies (again), and Kosher salt. As I was leaving with my cart full of stuff to satisfy this week's menu, I decided that WFs is basically the dreads capital of OKC.

I'm trying to figure out how to cut sentimental attachment with stuff. Is it okay to be attached to some things? Where do I draw the line? I love my great-grandmother's old desk, but it serves no purpose in my home, and because of her size, everything in Dot should be serving a purpose. Does that purpose need to be more than providing a [very likely false] sense of attachment to a person through a thing? Do I need anything more than my toothbrush, SPF 30 moisturizer (Melasma, Peeps, it's the real deal), a few changes of clothes, some shelter, and a place to sit? Most things in my life are completely luxurious when compared to the task of living a life. I can imagine what my daily life would look like with hardly a material possession to my name, and it feels so peaceful, but I will probably not be doing away with everything, so how do I find the right balance? I'm glad I live in Dot. 1138 sf is a nice size to have this struggle in.

I've been reading through The Happiness Project again (Gretchen Rubin). It's one that I started and never finished. I was reading through the chapter on marriage today, and the quote that stood out (I've heard it before) was one by Jean Cocteau:
There's no such thing as love; only proof of love.
Because I am the way I am, my normal tendency would be to pick a part his words to prove that it isn't absolute, but instead it made me think of a resolution I made for 2011. The resolution was a little line that came to mind and got stuck in my head: "People don't know you're thinking about them unless you let them know." (Coincidentally, one of the other resolutions I made for that year was to "Live with Less.") Reading Cocteau's words was a timely reminder of something that has been and remains important to me. I can always do better at sharing the love I feel.

My Cup Runneth Over

I enjoyed this day with my girls. It started out earlier than usual for me. Around five, Magnolia let out a little cry that woke me up. She didn't make another peep, but I never fell back to sleep. I didn't mind. They slept until just before 7. We got ready for school and went on our way. When we got home from dropping Cora off, Magnolia wanted her second breakfast (she eats two or three breakfasts a day). She didn't want to eat at the table, so I laid out the picnic blanket on the living room floor, and she ate a bagel with peanut butter and honey while I put some laundry away.

Cora's two and a half hours at school flew by. We picked her up, and ran by the bank where the teller sent a lollipop for each of them with our receipt. Then it was off to the carwash. Let it be known that car washes are still just as magical as when I was a kid. It was the most exciting thing ever when a new car would come down the line. Magnolia would giggle and very loudly proclaim another car was coming. When it got close enough, she would announce the color of the car. Cora was mesmerized by the three colors in the rain-guard solution. When Olive (our car) was sprayed with the pink, yellow, and blue, she said, "Our car in the most beautiful car in the world." We rolled out after putting the vanilla air freshener under the seat. Cora thinks we "should better get one of those every day."

We went to the Science Museum, and I loved watching how they played together, how Cora was telling Magnolia about everything she saw. We only had one little incident where Magnolia slipped and bit her tongue while we were eating lunch. It still looks bad, but she got over it quickly. They loved playing in the water area. Cora built and reconfigured dam after dam. Magnolia was into rescuing the ducks and the boats. Cora climbed on a climbing exhibit, and I think she could have stayed there for another hour, but Magnolia had a diaper that needed to be dealt with. On that note, Magnolia told a knock-knock joke with "poop" as the punchline. It made me laugh and laugh. After the climbing, Cora said she loved to climb. It is noted.

We came home after a little over three hours at the museum. Magnolia took a nap. Cora and I had a chips and salsa snack and some quiet time on the couch together watching Word Girl and Wild Kratts. I made one of my new favorite recipes. I was broiling tofu in the oven, and I haven't figured out a way to do it without making the smoke alarm go off (the smoke is from the sauce burning off). Cora gets very concerned each time it happens, but today, I ran out with my oven mitt the second it started blaring, jumped up on a chair and crazily fanned the smoke away. I think I did that four times this evening. Her smile got bigger each time I had to do it, even though she did tell me after the third alarm that she wasn't going to tell me again that it was going off. We ate out dinner, I ate a lot more than them. My favorite point of conversation came when Cora randomly let me know that I shouldn't drive through more than "this much" water [she showed me with her hands] because even that little amount of water can carry a big car away. I thanked her for her helpful advice and asked her where she learned it: "The guy on TV said it." Zing.

After dinner, it was time for the shower-bath. My girls always take a bath that is filled up using the shower head. They love it. We washed off the face paint from the museum, and I'm pretty sure Magnolia is allergic to it. She had red puffy patches underneath. I hope it looks better in the morning. We put on our jammies, packed their bags for Thanksgiving break in Holdenville. They're leaving a day ahead of us with Vaughn and Tracey after "Grandparents and Friends Day" at school tomorrow morning. Jake got home on the third page of our night night story, so I let him take over. 

Today was so good. I'm thankful for it. There weren't enough hugs and kisses at bedtime. Tomorrow I'll get a little just me time, and I'm looking forward to it (I'm feeling some time in the temple, a nap(!), and perhaps an evening listening to the OKC Jazz Orchestra). I love when I get to just be without being directly responsible for every little part of little lives, but something about me feels like I might trade a few of those very rare moments of alone time for more days like this one. I love my girls. For so many reasons, but today it was especially for their curiosity, wonderment, and sense of adventure.     
Sliding down The Picasso in Daley Plaza last fall.

Things I Know

1. My voice went away on Tuesday. It's finally staring to come back. A little more each day.
2. I wanted to catch a session at the temple last night, but started getting this hacking cough in the middle of story time at the library with Magnolia. It comes and goes - the cough - it comes more when I talk. Hmm.
3. Cora had her first little social heartbreak yesterday. I think it broke my heart more than hers. She got better quickly after she talked to me about it. I hope I can always be so helpful to her.
4. I felt yucky after dinner. Nauseous. I ended up barfing. While heaving I tried to calculate where I was in my cycle because for real, barfing is the surest sign of pregnancy for me. I don't really keep track of days and whatnot because I'm not trying to make a baby. And we use two forms of birth control, so I'm pretty sure my womb is vacant, but wow. In the moment, I was all kinds of calculatin'. I'm still nauseous. I hate being nauseous.
5. I regretted putting jalapeños on my pizza because they burn more coming up than going down.
6. I'm grateful for people who are aware.
7. I like feeling part of humanity and contributing to its goodness.
8. I need to work in the flower beds out front. And look into seeing if we can still plant winter rye.
9. I want a gigantic pink lady apple. Or some fresh squeezed orange juice.
10. Sometimes being nice isn't the only thing you need to be.
11. Sometimes doing the super hardest thing is the best thing to do in the long run. And figuring out how to get started can be the very hardest part.
13. I'm tired.
14. Making piles of leaves and falling into them never gets old.
15. My knuckles have started the great crack and bleed that comes with colder weather.

This Machine

During he week leading up to the election I'd been listening to Woody Guthrie's Dust Bowl Ballads in the car. The girls are almost always with me, so they were listening too. I love this album. What Woody Guthrie was singing about is just as relevant today as when it was recorded. Today Cora started singing part of "Blowin' Down this Road."
Your two dollar shoe hurts my feet.
Your two dollar shoe hurts my feet.
Your two dollar shoe hurts my feet
(Lord, Lord)
And I ain't gon' be treated this-a way. 
I love the track, "Pretty Boy Floyd." The story builds and builds until the conclusion pulls it all together.
[...] as through this world I've wandered
And as through your life you travel,
I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
And some with a fountain pen [...]
And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.
Something stirred inside when I heard Cora sing songs that tell the story of people just like you and me who were uprooted from everything they knew, kicked out of their homes and driven from their land. They wanted what I want for my children for their children. They wanted full bellies and cozy homes. They were trying to make it happen, but nearly every circumstance was against them. And here my little four-year-old is telling stories of strong-will and heartache and love and loss through the songs so many were never able to sing.

Woody Guthrie has an awesome children's album. I'll leave you with two of my favorites from it. The first was the inspiration for Magnolia's first Halloween costume (she was a lil' sack of sugar), and the second was one of the first Woody Guthrie songs I've heard.

PS: Tonight we ate at Taj to celebrate Diwali. And now my voice is gone. The voice thing and Taj are unrelated, but both relevant to this day.

Girls' Room [Before]

I had a single mission when I got out of bed this morning: purge my girls' room of excess toys. After going through their toys, I ended up doing less purging and more organizing. It still took two hours. I don't know if I'm more amazed at the amount of stuff that ends up under beds, or the amount of round objects we have because those are the bulk of what I retrieve. 

We're in the middle of gathering all of the pieces to make their room over for Christmas. When trying to think of what to do for Christmas without accumulating more stuff, their room instantly came to mind. Jake's dad is restyling old beds, as well as repurposing an old table into two cute little desks, and he's going to refinish their dresser. There is a major perk to having a father-in-law who can do just about anything I want as far as furniture is concerned. And a lot of times, I'll hint in the direction of what I want, and then he pulls the random vision together into something beautiful. I'm really excited. And I really appreciate all the work he's putting in because I know his time is limited. 

After organizing today, I took some pictures to count as the official before pictures so there will be something to compare. I love before and after photos. ;) I haven't decorated their room because I knew it was in a temporary state. It lacks a uniform aesthetic. 

This is their closet door, kitchen (also made by Vaughn for Cora's second Christmas), and their toy area. We're going to start with their beds on this wall, centered between the window with a small space for a nightstand (I'd love an old projector cart). I'm going to paint the toy shelf white, and I thought it might be fun to paint the bins silver. I painted some of our pumpkins silver this fall, and there was something kind of magical about it.

This is Cora's bed, their dollhouse, easel, and cute french alphabet flashcards (on the wall). I don't know if the flashcards will make the cut just yet. Their room has four windows, all of which are six feet tall, maybe six-and-a-half feet tall, I can't remember. Our ceilings are nine feet. The two new desks are going to go under the windows with their toy shelf between them on the wall. I have a few ideas for a neat vertical installation to make this wall more interesting.

 Magnolia's bed. Cora was in a toddler bed when she was 25 months and in her big girl bed when she was 27 months. Goo is 29 months and still going strong in her crib. I hope, though am not quite sure, she'll be read for a big girl bed by Christmas, but we're going to try it anyway. The bicycles used to have a framed 'M' between them, but the command strips holding it up failed. There was actually a framed 'C' above Cora's bed as well, but it met the same crashing to the ground fate. This wall is going to be home to their dresser. We bought a HUGE gold frame at a garage sale in Gore, OK a few months ago, and it's going to go on this wall with individually framed pictures of wedding/couple photos of us, our parents, grandparents, g.grandparents, etc. I can't wait to see how many I can dig up.

 This dresser was love at first sight. I saw it in the "Pickin' Place" in Holdenville. I have a thing for Midcentury pieces right now, so finding this was a prize. I've had second thoughts a few times, not about my love for the dresser, but about the look I wanted in their room. A French Provincial might have been more appropriate, but I'm hoping to balance the strong lines of the dresser with softer lines on the beds. The kitchen will go on this wall, and I'm still thinking of what should go on the wall.

Their room is a nice size (14x14). One of the challenges in thinking of what to do has been giving them each their own little spaces without making the room feel small. If their room was smaller, I'd be more limited and probably go with bunk beds, a small table instead of two desks, etc, but after measuring and remeasuring, I think everything will fit nicely with several options for rearranging while still giving them ample floor space to play. Their curtains will be white. We bought several pairs from IKEA when we moved back to Oklahoma from Chicago, and we've never used them. The panels are 8 feet long, which is a foot too short, but I think it would be cute to sew on a fun foot-long strip at the bottom to spice things up a bit. I think I'm also going to add a monogram valance to the two windows above their desks with a 'C' on one and an 'M' on the other. I'm also following vintage quilts on ebay (mostly feed sack). They don't have to match, just have a common element. A beauty showed up today. It also comes with a pretty hefty price tag. I have this awful ability to know exactly what I want when I see it, but it's almost always the most expensive option. Here's a picture anyway: 

About Friends

We have been busy, and the busy isn't over just yet. I've called this the week of the babysitter.

Jake is always busy. I'm amazed he is able to accomplish so many things with so many people throughout his day. It has been this way for our entire marriage. Sometimes there haven't been enough hours in the day. One semester, while we were still in our undergrad studies, our Mondays began with him having class at 8 AM, and that day was booked solid until his last rehearsal was over at midnight. We had one car, so I would run home and eat and do homework, then come back and wait for him to be through. I was skilled at being Jake's personal driver during those years. His life now is much the same. He's teaching three classes this semester, which requires a lot of grading. He also accompanies many vocal students for their voice lessons. Many of the many students he accompanies have recitals throughout the year that he plays for, and each recital requires a dress rehearsal. All of these things must be scheduled outside of this normal workday, which is longer than the typical workday. And then there are the instrumental recitals and the extra gigs, and his church job. It builds and builds and builds, and by the time the school year is over, the few weeks break is much needed.

Having kids has made this type of schedule a bit more difficult, but because I'm able to stay home and have a wide open schedule, we're still able to maintain it. But then weeks like this happen, and I have obligations that require me to be just me, and that's when things get a little complicated. Last night, there was a special evening at church for the young women (12-18 years old) in our congregation. I arranged for a sitter, and what would normally be a 25-30 minute drive max to their house ended up being almost an hour with the crazy traffic I ran into. By the time I got to the church, I'd been in my car for almost an hour and a half.

Today, Cora had her second speech therapy appointment. My friend Jana watched Magnolia for me last week, which was great because I was able to sit in with Cora and her new speech pathologist. When I got back to pick her up, Magnolia was still sleeping, so Jana said she would just call me when she woke up (they live really close). It was so fun to go spend a little bit of alone time with Cora. That doesn't happen very often anymore. Anyway, I took Magnolia with me today, and we spent the session in the waiting  room with one another. Then we hurried back home because Cora's PT conference was this afternoon. Another friend was available to watch the girls during the conference. I was supposed to go visit a lady from church tonight, but the husband of the woman I was going with ended up having to work late. I was looking forward to the visit, but also relieved that I was able to spend the evening at home.

I spent part of my evening at home getting a babysitter for Saturday morning because I have some meetings at church. The first friend I asked (Ashleigh) was able to do it. When I mentioned that I was looking for another babysitter for tomorrow night, she said she could do that too. But it's more than that.  Rather than them being at our house until 11:30 PM and then having the girls show up at their house at 9:15 the next morning, the girls are going to have a little sleepover with Ashleigh and Andrew. This is such a huge relief.

I'm happy to be the glue that holds my family's schedule together and allows Jake the time to do all that he needs to do. I often daydream about what it would be like to live closer to family. The convenient kind of close, where they're right down the road, and you just call or show up at their house with your kids and they take them and you go do what you need to do. I'm sure that we would be able to do that with either one of our families, but that isn't our reality. This week has been atypical for us. Usually the only place I need to be at a specific time of day is in carpool for school, and that obviously requires that at least one of my children are with me (it's always both). I like how simple our normal schedule is.

When Sunday rolls around, Cora and Magnolia will have spent time with someone other than me for five days in a row. On Sundays we have choir rehearsal in the evening. There was childcare at rehearsals, but it was spotty for a few weeks, and the girls ended up going to bed at least an hour late by the time we got home and did our bedtime routine. The same darling friend who came to my rescue today has volunteered to spend any available Sunday evening watching the girls until the concert is over just before Christmas.

I am grateful for friends and how they help me by taking care of my girls. There are so many times I wish that rather than me leaving my girls with friends, I could stay and sit on my couch or theirs and just talk for hours and hours. I am growing appreciate the dynamics of friendship at various times in life. I know my friends love me not because we always get to spend lots of time with one another, but because they're helping me in times when I can't do everything on my own. They're watching my girls, and loving them, and when people care for my babies, I can't help but love them more. Grateful, grateful, truly grateful I am.

PS: Friday evening is the luxury night in all of this. Dialogues of the Carmelites is being performed at OCU, and I have been looking forward to seeing this opera since Jake told me about it. Earlier this week, I saw the director leaving the convent that is near our house, and I told Jake he had to get tickets. I'm sure it will be a thought-provoking evening.

Election Day and the Morning After

A rug was delivered to our house tonight before the election results began rolling in. It was exciting. We're re-doing our girls' room for Christmas, and I finally decided that we would move our living room rug into their room and get a new one (that I loved and was on sale for 65% off) for the living room. While watching the election coverage, I was biting my nails and eating Whole Foods vegan chocolate chip cookies. I kept looking down across the new rug and forgetting about the jitters I felt. I love the pattern and the blue-grey, and how it picks up the subtle colors in our fireplace.

I'm listening to Romney's concession speech right now. I had a thing for Mitt as a potential president way back when he came on the potential future presidential radar when Bush was wrapping up his second campaign for the 2004 election. His ideas were much more moderate back then. It was a time when I was solidifying my world views, and his stances on a social issue or two made me feel okay with vocalizing beliefs I'd not been brave enough to. Something about it is bittersweet. 

I'm now waiting for Obama. I joyfully voted for him four years ago, and I did the same today. I would have jumped up and down and danced and laughed when it was projected that he was the winner, but my girls are asleep, so I did a quiet celebration. I'm sorry for the people who are upset, even if I've been disappointed by many reactions I've come across. Ultimately, I'm feeling grateful for many things:

When I wake up in the morning, Barack Obama will still be president. I will walk out to a new rug in a warm home. I will get a drink of clean water brought right to my kitchen sink. I will wonder what to eat for breakfast because I have food. I will take a shower and get out to put some spf 30 moisturizer on my face. I will decide what clothes to put on because I have some (too many). I will pull my car out of my garage and drive my daughter to school. I may or may not go to the gym. I might spend some time pondering what I'm going to do with my life in terms of a career. Perhaps I'll have a moment or two to read from one of the many books I've started. I'll throw away two of the pumpkins on my front porch that have seen better days. I'll make meals and change diapers and put on mascara. I will do all of these things because I have the luxury to do so. I will know the same thing I knew when I decided to give Obama a chance four years ago. It's not up to him, it's up to me. And up to you, and up to us. And I appreciate him for opening my eyes to that. 

I was happy to vote today, even before I knew what the outcome might be. I love being in my community, surrounded by my neighbors, and sharing a common experience. When I was at my polling center, I didn't care one single bit who anyone in that line was voting for. I was glad we were showing up.


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