Monday, February 23, 2009

Creating a memory

I have this memory when I was a child of sitting and watching a professional ballet. I'm not certain, but I think it may have been the Nutcracker. I don't remember why this memory seems so vivid to me. But I remember sitting on the left side and watching the stage all aglow. I don't remember much--just that I loved being there and I felt special that I was there.

It's this slice of a memory that enticed me to take Bianca to the ballet on Saturday. We saw Ballet West's production of Madame Butterfly. And I wanted to do this thing right. We got all dressed up (I even straightened Bianca's hair), went to the ballet, and had dinner afterward. My friend Christie and her daughter Hailey came too. The girls were great (and excited). And I only hope that someday Bianca will remember back on her childhood and think about how we did some really cool things together. Even if it's just a little slice of sitting in a chair in an important place and feeling special.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009


The other night, while I was putting Portia in her jammies, she insisted on having both her Webkinz chipmunk (which she named Aloop after the plane that "loops a loop" in the Chipmunk Christmas song) and her Curious George. She started making Aloop and George kiss. Bianca thought it was funny and asked what would happen if Aloop and George got married. I said they'd have baby "chipmonkeys."

I thought I was quite funny and called Eric in to hear my joke. Bianca then said, "No, they'd have chimp-monkeys," which I thought was even better.

Eric said we had used every bit of laughter possible on such a ridiculous joke. But I disagreed. I thought I'd share it with you too. . .


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

My mornings with Portia and hot cocoa

When I started getting serious with my boyfriend (who would eventually become my husband) in college, we had a little glitch in our relationship about the future. We were sitting in his Pontiac Bonneville in the underground parking beneath my apartment building, arguing about having kids. We weren't even close to being married but I guess we thought we should probably figure out if we have the same goals in mind before continuing on. I explained that I didn't really want any children. I wanted to do the career thing.

This was a completely unsatisfactory answer. He wanted them; wouldn't mind four. And I can't honestly say that I didn't, but fighting with him was one of the things that made us tick. I was sometimes argumentative for argument's sake.

I don't remember how this all played out; I succumbed eventually. My several years of work had been a disappointment and finally, we were married.

I've dabbled with "professional" work since, working part-time editing, writing, even working full-time editing when Eric lost his job for a while back in 2004. But the truth was, I wanted to be home. I, who didn't even think I wanted children, chose to be home with my kids.

The other night at my book club, we were talking about what the one thing we loved most about being home with our kids (and of course we covered the thing we hate most as well) but the more I thought about my answer, the more I've been enjoying my mornings with Portia drinking hot cocoa.

A typical morning for me starts at 7 a.m. when Bianca sidles into my room to tell me it's time to get ready for school. I stumble through the dark house and eventually turn on a light three rooms away (I hate light in the mornings) so that I can get Bianca's breakfast and pack up her lunch. That's when the whirlwind begins--there's spelling words, brushing teeth, fixing hair, finding socks and socks, piano practice, packing up the backpack. Somewhere in the middle of all that, Portia usually screams from her crib "Hot cocoa." Bianca and Eric hurdle out into the car and leave for work/school. That's when I sigh and start the cocomotion.

I know I started Portia early on hot cocoa, but until now I've never known anyone who loves hot cocoa as much as I do. Extra chocolately. With whipped cream. Portia has her own porcelain tea cup that she handles carefully. And we sit. And she asks for "More hot cocoa." And I get her more. And I drink my hot cocoa. And I love that I got everything done for Bianca that she needed this morning. And I love that I have this time to myself and to Portia. And I really do love being a stay-at-home mom.

Photobucket Portia

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Change in Perspective


I was recently asked/called to play the piano in church. I told them I'm not good enough. But I'd try. After all, I took ten grueling years of piano lessons from the time I was six until I was sixteen. Then I took a nearly twelve year sabbatical, when I had not a piano anywhere near me. Sure, I'd mess around when I'd visit home but I wasn't much good. I remembered several songs that I'd played a lot when I was younger (mostly new age--don't ask me but I'm still reminded of them everytime I get a massage and David Lanz is playing in the background), but give me some sheet music and I stunk. In fact, my Aunt Sally once said to my mom (unbeknownst to her that I could listen to their ongoing conversation in the kitchen AND play the piano at the same time), "That's what happens when you stop practicing."

Then last winter I decided I wanted a piano. Eric and I did a little shopping and picked up a "previously owned" upright. It was great. I bought some sheet music of Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera and Billy Joel and Evanescence. I played almost every night for fun. I'd even play Harry Potter music while Eric and Bianca were reading for bedtime, book four of the Harry Potter series (don't ask me which one that is, I couldn't tell you). I was actually playing because I loved it, which was the first time this had happened to me. When I was a kid and my mom was giving me lessons, I fought her every step of the way. Which is probably why I turned out to be the worst of all my brothers and sisters at playing. But that's okay. It wasn't something I really cared about--at all.

Well, a couple months ago, the doorbell rang while I was playing "Piano Man" by Billy Joel. At the doorstep stood my neighbor Geoff Short who was 2nd counselor in the bishopric at my ward/church. He needed to borrow some butter. No problem. I had butter. But two weeks later, I was so kindly asked to play the piano for the Relief Society in church.

I've been doing it for a little while now and I practice every night for the preceding week. It doesn't matter if I have the songs perfect at home, I go to church and I mess up all the way through. I'm terrible. I feel like everyone is laughing at me. They all pat my back in encouragement as I leave, whispering they're just glad it's not them, but I wish it weren't me either.

Now I spend all my time practicing church hymns instead of playing stuff I want to play. I bought this piano so that I could enjoy myself, not so that I'd be stuck playing in church. I'm not good. I've accepted that. But now it's not fun anymore.

I laugh when people tell me I shouldn't waste a talent like that. As if everyone who learns to play the piano has a "talent" for it. Since when has something that you work and work at been a talent? If I'm not mistaken, isn't a talent supposed to be something that comes naturally to someone? I know people--have a couple friends even--who have a talent for playing the piano. Who can play by ear. That's talent. What I'm doing is merely reading notes off a page. I don't feel the music. I don't hear it oustide what the clunky notes are actually saying to me. Which isn't much more than that I'm not good at this.

I'll never tell them I won't play anymore. I'm hoping that my music is so bad they finally find someone else who will do it. Really, it won't hurt my feelings. Anything to get out of playing hymns every night.


My mood? Totally disappointed and depressed. I know the way things work with callings--you have them for a while, you learn from them, then you move on to something else that will stretch you.

But why do I feel so hollow? Maybe I started enjoying the hymns I was playing. Maybe I liked hiding behind the piano--I didn't have to teach anything, or stretch too much. I was completely comfortable there.

I'm trying to look at the upside of this: The constant practicing has helped me improve, a lot. But now what? Do I go back to playing Billy Joel? There's not as much satisfaction now as there was before. Maybe I'll run to the store and pick up some new music. I still LOVE playing the Pride & Prejudice music. There are actually some hymns that I grew to love, that I play for pure enjoyment. And the plus side is that I can actually play them quite well now. Eric leaned over to me after I told him I was released and said, "I'm going to miss the hymns playing in our house." I think I'm going to too.