swimming, parents, past house owners, bedtime frustrations

There was a new instructor for Hazel’s swimming class today. He was a good combination of encouraging and no-nonsense, and she finally consented to put her face in the water. Woo hoo! We will also go get her some goggles (which she now says she wants) this week.

Also today we met my nanny’s mom and step-dad. It’s always funny/interesting to see people with their parents; I know very few people who don’t at least subtly change their affect when around them. We know her now, as an adult. Seeing her with her mom I can see little echoes of their past relationship. It was lovely to share Hazel and the babies with people who’ve heard about them, who were interested in meeting them in person. I think the twins are starting to move past their unwillingness to interact with anyone they don’t know well, and consented to be held by both of our visitors. They also smiled and went to our nanny, as they always do. That warms the cockles. I am glad they are cared for by people whom they love, and who feel an attachment to them.

On Sunday when we were cleaning out the basement, I spent quite a while at the end vacuuming the floor and walls. Since we’d taken the three workbenches owned by the previous owner of the house out, that involved vacuuming up sawdust that had probably been in situ for decades. I felt a twinge as I did that. He spent probably thousands of hours down in his workshop working on projects of various kinds, and I know it was a loved space. We have taken out all signs of that, and the basement is going to be used differently now. We will keep the sign he made of their last name as a reminder of who else has lived in and loved our house. When we take the shed down out back, we’re going to give the windmill he made and mounted on it to our neighbor, who knew him and has asked for it. That is one of the nice things about old houses; the sense of history in them, not only of the house itself, but of the people going back who’ve inhabited it.

Tonight I didn’t handle frustrations with Hazel’s behavior at bedtime at all well. Tomorrow is another day, but Ted and I want to have a talk about how the evenings go, and how we can structure them to work better for all of us.

And I picked out a day I can spend with Hazel. That will be good.


Chamber music, and basement clearing

Today I got together with a violinist and violist of my acquaintance, and we read through the Beethoven String Trios, Op. 9. I have played one of them before (can’t remember when), but haven’t ever worked on them properly. We are going to perform one of them (we picked the third) on a concert in February, and so I am floating on cloud nine over the fact that I get to spend a bunch of Sunday mornings rehearsing the trio with two dedicated and fine musicians. So much of the time being a professional musician means getting things together in a very short space of time with limited rehearsals. That situation isn’t conducive to gaining coherence and cohesion as an ensemble, and it can be somewhat frustrating. The fact that now I have time to practice, to nail every detail of my part, as well as to spend time with my friends matching articulations, deciding on phrasing and dynamics, to experiencing that adaptation in which we learn how each of us plays and we come into consonance with each other is expanding my heart and making me feel like there’s more oxygen in the air. For me, there is no more keenly felt joy.

Expertly written string trios are a lot of work; the absence of a quartet’s second violinist means that no one gets to rest. But they also can showcase each instrument, and with three there is still plenty of power in the group. This will be an exciting musical journey.

My cat Chester spent almost the entire session today with us, sleeping curled up on a cushion on a kid’s chair next to the violist. It was so lovely to spend that time centered in my professional and pre-baby self, bringing that forward into my current life. Ted took the kids to the zoo and had a good time with them there, and they arrived back just as we’d finished, perfect timing.

Then, this afternoon our nanny gave us seven hours. Three of our friends came over to help, and in a very full six and a half hours we finished the basement! The only things still down there are the arcade games and a supremely heavy CD tower. They are right in the middle of the space where they’ll be out of the way. One of our friends took down all the extraneous walls, and so now the space beyond the studio will be one big open area in which we can play games, lay out train track, set up a matchbox car track, do big art projects, or do physical therapy or Qi gong exercises.

And, all of our stuff fit into the dining room and living rooms. There is a respectable pathway to the rest of the house, and we have a few more things to get rid of, so it’ll open up some as we do that.


Now we are super tired and sore, but very satisfied.

The next weekend babysitting time we have, we are going to do something fun. We might even go see a movie. We haven’t done that since we’ve had the twins, so it might be a year and a half.

And tonight, we’re going to bed early!

cooking, soccer, knee, construction prep

Boy oh boy. The babies were having a hard time today, and there was a lot of crying. I am feeling pooped, physically and mentally. Ted did take all the kids for a walk during part of my marathon cooking session today, and that was a big relief to all. We now have creamed kale (with coconut milk), sausages, a chicken/chard/cauliflower casserole, as well as a bean-less chili in the crock pot. That took me from about 4 pm to about 8 pm to complete. It was in the nick of time, as we’d run out of food again. I am looking forward to getting back on our shopping/cooking schedule, however, in which we share the cooking. Nonetheless, I couldn’t have done it without him: he took care of the kids and cleaned while I was fanatically chopping, sauteing, baking, and steaming various veggies and meats. It is a partnership, even more so now that we have the three kids.

Joanna in particular had a really rough evening. Toward the end she was inconsolable, so I took her into the yellow room and nursed her for a bit while Ted did pre-bed stuff with Hazel. Joanna, of course, fell asleep on my breast and was then pretty unhappy when I took her off it. But then we went upstairs and she got to nurse again, and our pre-bed routine went smoothly. When it was time to go to sleep, however, she cried like her heart was going to break. Ted took a turn, and then I held her for a while. I was finally able to get her down, thankfully. I am grateful that I can still nurse the twins, that I can offer them that comfort and warmth, and that being in my arms is the place of love and safety that it is for them.

This morning I went over to my friends’ house with Hazel, and while I had a conversation with E, Hazel got to do fun things with A like make applesauce in the Vitamix. Then we all went to Hazel’s soccer class to watch her play. I enjoyed sharing that with them, and am also looking forward to upcoming weeks in which I can take her out for Mommy-Hazel time an hour or so before her class. And I am also looking forward to learning how to play soccer myself, so we can kick the ball around together.

I realized this week that I can go downstairs almost normally now. My knee is not all better, but it is so much better that I only occasionally notice it. I can’t say enough positives about physical therapy. It has made the difference between living a normal-for-me life, and experiencing significant reductions in function and activity.

Tomorrow is the last long haul of work before construction starts Monday. We have a few friends who are going to come over for chunks of time to help us. We found out in our pre-construction meeting that we can leave the big 80’s arcade games Ted has (two of them) IN the basement, instead of trying to haul them out to the shed. We have a location where they’ll be out of the way, and we’ll carefully cover them with tarps. That takes a big task off our shoulders, a big relief.

I have now completed 14 days of my Whole30. Here is the video they included in the daily message of congratulations. hee hee. I must say, we do not shoot our lettuce into salad around here. But, as we cook more and more, we do start lusting after new kitchen equipment. One of these years we’re going to buy ourselves a really excellent set of pans….

spitting baby, construction, bank, party

The things you get excited about as a parent. Really. I can see how they are boring, off-putting, or just weird to other people. Case in point: Emily, in swimming class today, spit water out of her mouth. That is incredibly exciting to me, because it’s an important swimming skill. And it was cool; the water jetted out further than I would have thought a baby could project it. But really, says my pre-baby brain and identity (hard to access, but still there). Spitting water? And you’re blogging about it? To what depths have you fallen?

We had our pre-construction meeting today, with our contractor and his brother (they own the business together). It’s odd to hear a voice timbre similar but just that little bit different coming from someone who looks something like our contractor, with whom we have spent quite a bit of time. And apparently they employ a couple of other brothers who are carpenters.

We talked about noise, scheduling, communication, billing, etc: all the logistics involved in the work that will be occurring here for hopefully no more than five weeks. There will be white board on which we can leave questions and answers. There will be a weekly meeting. There will definitely be noise, and some dust. But it will be exciting to go down and see the progress that’s being made. And the noise won’t impact my students, since most of them have lessons after construction work will be finished for the day. Our cat Chester won’t like it. Perhaps he’ll spend the entire day in our bed under the covers, one of his favorite places to be anyway.

After that we went up to the bank to do final signatures for our equity line of credit. We are glad to be moving one more piece of our debt out of the big bank and to our credit union. We had a longish wait, but luckily there are fun toys for kids located down low enough that the babies could reach them. Other than grabbing them away from the dried moss in the plant pots a few times, they were pretty content to play with the various safer things on offer.

This evening I went to the going away party of my former-student-current friend who’s moving to NYC for her next big adventure. It was wonderful to see her, surreal to be in a bar surrounded by lots of people drinking. This was for lots of reasons; having little babies tends to mean (at least for me) that a bar is an environment I am just not in these days. And being in the middle of my Whole30 month, I couldn’t eat or drink anything there. Also, I never did go to dive bars with football playing on multiple TV screens all that often. And I was considerably older than anyone else in the crowd of well-wishers. But it was really fun, great to meet other people she’s close to, lovely to be a part of that celebration and send-off.

I made it home in time to participate in bedtime, and now a whole pile of dishes are calling their non-siren but nonetheless compelling song. I think we’ll go attend to them.

Duets, therapy, playing at the park, teaching

This morning a friend came over with her cello. She’s a former student who’s now graduated from college, and our relationship has grown very nicely and naturally into a friendship. We spent a while playing with the babies, a while talking, and a while playing duets. That was such an incredible blast. I met her when she was in the fifth grade, and now she’s a musical partner with whom it is a pleasure to make music. This is one of the great privileges and joys of teaching. And it is a model for me, too, as a parent whose children will grow up and leave home, hopefully having learned in that home how to take care of themselves, the value of both responsibility and risk, and the importance of cultivating their own voice.

I had another therapy session after we got the kids down for nap. We talked about a variety of things, including questions I asked Hazel the other night when she was complaining about something. My therapist liked my questions, and told me to write them down so I didn’t forget them for the future. They were: 1) What are you feeling? 2) What do you want? and 3) Are you interested in finding a solution for the problem? They helped us get to a more productive place with Hazel that night, out of the pure complaining/stuck/blaming place in which she was spinning. They are questions I need to remember to ask myself when I get into that place.

Today I didn’t have to go to work until 5:30, so I got to spend the afternoon with my kids and our nanny, after I got some necessary emailing done, that is. They ate lunch while I was taking care of business, and then I grabbed some soup in a thermos to take with us. We walked over to the park together. It was a perfect fall afternoon, with warm sunshine, clear light, and a lovely blue sky. We sat on a bench and I had my soup, and our nanny fed the babies pear pieces. It was a nice slow respite from my regular schedule. After we finished eating we put the babies in swings and got to hear them giggling madly for a while. Then, we wandered over to the little kid play structure, and I helped Emily go down the slide for the first time. She loved it. She immediately wanted to climb up the slide. We got into a rhythm of me holding her hand to help her slide down and then pushing her bum to help her climb back up. She was intent. Joanna slid some too. Hazel was disappointed (severely) that she couldn’t help the babies slide, but she’s just not tall enough to do it safely. One step at a time… She does love so much being a big sister. I was worried about her feeling that role thrust on her, but she’s adopted it wholeheartedly.

Then I went to work. I had three lessons to teach. They were all productive. One of my kids cut his finger a week or so ago, and couldn’t do left hand work. So last week we did bow techniques, and this week we did theory. He catches on quickly, and the discussion was rewarding. My last student is a kid who has been playing for only about two years. He’s accomplished a lot in that time, but has also missed a lot, which is inevitable when tackling hard orchestra music with a limited background. So today we worked on rhythm so he could stay in the right place in the music in his rehearsals. I definitely need to bring my cello (I don’t always) so I can play his pieces with him as a way of catching him up faster. My second student is a girl who’s in her senior year of high school. She’s been working on the Saint Saens Cello Concerto in A minor, but tonight she had a bunch of orchestra music for which she needed fingerings. We did some work on identifying positions as I went through and put them in. I’ll miss her once she’s graduated and moved on next year. This is one of the wonderful and challenging things about being a private music teacher; you form close relationships with many of your students, get to see them almost every week for years, and then they grow up and move on, or, if they’re adults, sometimes get jobs or go to school elsewhere and move on. I did not do a great job of staying in touch with my childhood teacher, which I regret. Those are important relationships. That is part of why I am so grateful for my ongoing relationships with former students who do stay in touch.

And now I’m home, and am totally bushed. So I think we’re going to skip basement adventures, washing dishes, and other waiting tasks, and just hit the sack.

Peace to all.

adult time, coconut adventures, household work

Today my friend A came over. We spent a while talking while I fed the babies and we played with them, and then my nanny arrived and we were able to spend an hour and a half together just the two of us. It has literally been months since we’ve had that opportunity, and it was gloriously wonderful to have adult conversation without the presence of children for whose welfare I am responsible. I could focus, we could talk, I could relax into an adult space.

Also today, I spent quite a while trying to make coconut butter per instructions found on the web. It was a miserable, irritating failure. The Vitamix kept overheating and stopping, and the food processor just made grainy hot coconut soup. Then I tried it with much smaller coconut shavings rather than the larger coconut flakes I’d been using. That worked a lot better, but I’ll have to try it again to see if I can improve on it. That way is a lot cheaper than buying a jar of coconut butter from Artisana, as wonderful as that food-stuff is!

Lessons were great today, lots of good work accomplished. That always feels good.

And tonight Ted and I moved two bookshelves and a desk upstairs. chug, chug, chug, one step at a time.

friends, conversation, nap, photos, kindness

Today a friend of mine met us at the house and we all went to the zoo. After seeing a couple of animal exhibits, we went to the indoor kids’ play area, and my friend and I managed to grab a bit of a chance for conversation. She’s coming over again on Thursday when I have child care, and we’ll have a chance for more coherent and cohesive conversation. In the meantime, it was fun to sit on the floor with her, play with the babies, and talk. Right now they’re at the stage where they really enjoy knocking down the towers of things you build for them, as quickly as possible. Emily is also enjoying walking around and exploring. I am always conscious of how I am now on the other side of the friend-talking-to-friend-with-kids conversation, and it is, as always, surreal to hold both points of view in my mind.

My nanny came at naptime, and as I had totally forgotten she’d be here today (we’re in the middle of a transition to a new schedule), I was quite startled when she arrived. She was only here for two hours, but it allowed me to take a pretty long nap in which I slept deeply. I felt pretty out of it when I woke up, but it was wonderful to be able to relax enough to sleep that solidly. She said that a) I snore like her mom does, and b) I chuckled in my sleep. Ok, I can deal with a), and b) is amusing.

After nap I spent a while in the playroom with the kids. I was still pretty out of it, and I spent some time surfing on the internets while Hazel played very nicely with the twins and a couple of the train sets we have. That was lovely.

Then I went and had a Pilates session at which the first thing my teacher said was, “You must have gotten some sleep!” I guess it shows.

And then I got to go to the coffee shop where I meet writing friends, though tonight I spent wading through my backlogged photos. I am, finally, ready to post more. It has been months.

When I got home, it was to discover that my stand partner had sent a fantastic dress that she made for Hazel, along with three lovely little bracelets. They all fit perfectly. She sent a sweet card, too. Reading it, I teared up. It was one of those warm, shining moments where you see the kindness and generosity of people, and it lightens life. Thank you, J. It meant so much to us!

Ted and I are going to skip the tasks tonight and go to bed early.

A very nice evening.