Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Welcoming Summer.

How was your holiday weekend?

Lazy? Warm? Was any hope ushered in with higher temperatures? Did the anticipation of sunshine help stamp out those last bit of winter doldrums and boredom? 

Did you get any rest?

Or, possibly some indulge in yummy sweets or BBQ?

 {awaiting their promised Saturday morning special donut delivery from Daddy, right after his morning basketball game}

Our weekend was positively lazy and meandering and good. I can't handle sticking around at home with the kids for too long though. We end up going completely stir crazy, and the kids fill their time with too much television or begin mercilessly and methodically destroying every room in the house. But because we figured it was a busy holiday, we weren't really in the mood to head to the crowded beaches or anywhere inland. So many people around here. We've already got a crowd, thank you very much.

We opted to explore our neck of the woods.

And oh. my. gosh. did we discover.

We yelped a good hiking trail that promised waterfalls and streams to splash in. It was a hot Memorial Day for us, so a long walk with cool water to play in along the way was incentive enough to pack up a picnic and head into the great outdoors for the day....

The girls were little troopers and roamed through the hills and rocky streams happily. I got to cuddle my emerson bug along the way. What is it about having a baby strapped to you? It's so lovely.

There was a good deal of Haack lady water frolicking and rock jumping.

Emerson was particularly delighted to hone her ability to throw rocks. HARD. 

It wasn't long before she was sopping wet, stripped down, and enjoying the wild life with a cookie.

By the way, have you noticed?

the deficits in personality and expression we seem to suffer in this family? 

Yeah, me neither.

Goobers. These girls. Such goobers.

We finished off the hike with a stop for slurpees. Tyler and I held hands, drinking our large fountain DDP's like happy nerd lovers the whole drive home. 

It felt good to have our girls with us, and spend a little family time roaming our {seriously unbelievably} lovely earth. What a gift!

We knows these days are limited.

There is so much good on the horizon,  but I know I will quickly yearn for the days that we could easily pack up and head out for a day's adventure without too much effort or scheduling.

Life feels simple and beautiful and sacred right now.

I am grateful.

Friday, May 23, 2014

an important discovery.

it's amazing how much time it takes me to learn the simplest of lessons. if only i could raise my kids completely and then be allowed a total do-over. you knowafter i'd figured every thing out and ironed out all those kinks that tripped me up as an amateur first-timer. first, it was the first-time mom, followed by first-time mom with two kids. followed by first-time mom with three kids. followed by first-time mom with four kids. i'm over this first-time nonsense. i want to start by being a SECOND time mom all across the board, dammitall. i'd slam dunk that sucker for sure.

all of these feelings have arisen from my newest discovery: the perfect place to study. at this desk, with the views of my trees right out the window. isn't it lovely? so serene. so soothing.

nevermind the fact that this is what is going on behind me.

yep. i've plopped myself directly in the playroom. and whaddayaknow?!, it is like the best place EVER to get some actual WORK DONE. 

normally, when i have work to do that requires any attention or focus i try to find a boring, quiet place in the house to retreat to, a place my children will surely find uninteresting. only to have them continually follow me (?!), like little ducks (!!), into whatever space i'm in. seriously? 

i could be in an empty, concrete cellar, juxtaposed to another room loaded with a full size amusement park, ice rink, theater, AND live Disney characters and i swear my children would STILL opt to stay positioned firmly within 7 inches of my body. 

all of this has taught me that A) this is an awfully sweet and flattering predicament to find oneself in, to be so loved, and B) playrooms are relatively pointless. my children will never play in their playroom unless mom is in it with them. and since i can't spend the entirety of my day combing barbie hair and counting blocks, i might as well begin my work right along side them. i've set up shop in the playroom officially, and it's working out surprisingly well. we'll still call it the playroom, but now it's really more of a plworkroom if you ask me.

considering the nauseatingly large amounts of toys we have accumulated over the years, it is nice to see them actually play. so long as they feel close enough to hear my heartbeat, i am free to make some progress with my own tasks. win win.

so yeah, this message: get your work done in the playroom! read your book in the playroom! type your emails in the playroom! write your thank you notes in the playroom! pay your bills in the playroom! is being brought to you courtesy of the first-time mom with four kids who just figured this out and is sparing you the trouble of having to have four kids until you figure it out in the future for yourself. consider yourself lucky, i'll be charging in the future for this sort of wisdom.

the end.

happy weekend!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

the post in which i make a great big deal about music.

so, i've been a piano teacher for a about ten years. it has always helped to pay the bills. but really, more than that, it has kept alive an integral language in my life that was planted when i was young. i began lessons when i was nine. i am, still, a hopeless amateur. i never amounted to anything resembling a concert pianist, and my story is one of the many. i quit too early. granted, i quit much later than the average kid forced into lessons. i kept at it well into my teens, until the intersection of sociability and lone dedication seemed irreconcilable and my very serious and expensive teacher forced my hand. cheerleading won. it sounds so lame now. but really, i have no regrets. i am grateful i worked long and hard enough to retain adequate skill and knowledge to be able to learn some of the best music. i can play, but the worthy pieces still require a lot of solo time and effort at the piano, luxuries i am rarely afforded these days. every now and then i sit and drill through a few measures of a favorite piece from Debussy or Chopin. and it feels so, so good. like coming home, once again speaking a native tongue i've become too rusty in.

tyler knew from early on that i was pretty hell-bent on our children becoming fluent in music. i can't say he entirely gets my passion, but as a lover of listening to music, he is definitely supportive of me as i expose our girls to the world of lessons and instruments. making music is an entirely new experience to the senses. i want my girls to taste it, develop their palate for it, and hopefully indulge and fill themselves to the brim someday. i feel so strongly about this. it's not so much wanting to ramrod my children into an old pipe dream of mine, as much as to open this vast, often unnoticed and under-appreciated world to them. 

music is a language. i'm a huge fan of words {clearly}, but they so often fail to open the channels of expression and potential within. music has the power of coaxing out certain emotions that words never possibly could. music teaches truths and shapes and informs reality. it is important and it is powerful.

my piano teacher had a framed sign on the shelf of her music room, which read

piano is my life
my song
my crying pillow.

i used to stare at that sign during lessons. my brace-faced, pimply, awkward adolescent self really appreciated that quote. i still think of it. here's to more pillows to cry on! pillows that don't just manifest in the form of pills, or substances, or donut binges, or snarkiness and judgment. i've cried into my piano more than once, i'll admit it! and she sobs right along with me, with just the right dose of poetic harmony.

 if my motherly prayers are satisfied, my girls will have good pillows to lean on. they will not only have the power but will know how to express themselves in their fullest form. they will navigate life through actions and words and relationships and faith AND music. oh wouldn't that just be so grand?!

it is a tall life order, to be sure. i am working on keeping it under control, all those mama type of aspirations for my girls. but really, what's a mama without some big dreams for her cubs? dream BIG or don't bother growing a person in your uterus, i always told myself. the details will take care of themselves. i am willing to surrender the specifics, but not the size of their lives.

for now, in practical terms, this means there may be some uphill battles. i've gotta get all tiger mom on them sometimes. practice and discipline and patience must become a part of our repertoire. gosh, it is hard. but worth it. there has been more than one instance of a clash of wills over practice time. and when they pout and are angry that i have taken away the ipad game they are playing, it is oft repeated:

TOO DANG BAD. Welcome to the Renaissance house, ladies, where contrary to the maximal demands of popular culture you will be expected to know MORE than how to text and dress in the form of a Kardashian replica. Now get. to. work.

little by little, we are inching our way forward.
they are such good girls.

my beautiful little music makers.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weekend plans, Mother's Day (The Redo), and Family Slogans.

It's the weekend!!!

 We've got some sunshine, a little pool action, and a big fantastic first time music recital (Lily & London) on our agenda. 

Oh yes, and my Mother's Day.

Because last Sunday was a TOTAL EPIC FAIL. Poor tyler was sick sick sick. On Saturday he attempted painting the laundry room in the midst of illness. This turned out to be a really bad idea, and by Saturday night he was in the throes of some real congested misery. At some point, I caught him hobbling out of bed, attempting to put shoes on to go to the grocery store. Apparently he was still planning on a Mother's Day breakfast spread for Sunday morning. Very sweet. That guy. I intervened and insisted on a Mother's Day raincheck. It's all good, I said. Then I kissed him and offered him homemade chicken noodle soup and rubbed his feet. Cleaned the house and made plans for a glorious Sunday.

Actually, that's not exactly how it all went down. Let's just say he still went to bed, and was not considered at fault at all for being sick. But my PMS was also simultaneously rearing her big biotchy head and I made sure to make dramatic gestures towards all the cosmic injustices that were unfolding in rapid succession in my life. I'm pretty sure the words "the UNIVERSE is AGAINST ME" were cried out at some point. I can't be sure, the weekend was a bit of a depressing blur. I'm not entirely certain I said that. All I know is Tyler keeps repeating that phrase in the the form of questions this past week, as if he heard something like it before from some disturbed, self-centered, pms-ing, crazy pants person. 

Oh No! Rae! Are you feeling like The Universe is against you right now?

Uh ohhhh. Ellie spilled her cup of milk. That seems like another sign that The Universe is against you. Doesn't it?

How's it going?... The Universe against you today?

Mind you, at the time of the Mother's day unraveling, there was solid evidence mounting that suggested The Universe was, in fact, feeling quite ambivalent towards me. I don't think I was entirely crazy. So many suspicious details I won't get into, but they all pointed to a creepy supernatural force wagging its big fat flip-the-bird finger right in my face. Suffice it to say, by the time Tyler's illness peaked on Saturday night and I confronted the reality that YES, I would indeed still need to act like a MOTHER on my very own MOTHER'S DAY, the one day I deserve a little freedom from all things MOTHERING, the evening ended with a rather theatrical display of martyrdom. This was only enhanced by the feelings of guilt one already naturally endures on Mother's Day, when the reality of your mess of a self must confront the Hallmark Versions of the better mother you ought to be. I spent half of Mother's Day sulking over my emotional instability and lack of temper control. My kids deserve better than ME. But I only am ME!!!! I can't find anyone but ME to do this!!! And this job is totally rigged for failure!!!!! Consequently: POOR POOOR MEEEEEEEEE!!! WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!

 And that's the truth of what really went down.

Hence, REDO this Sunday! yay!
{shhhhh, keep this on the DL. I don't want the Universe hearing}


And now, a brief story:

Do you like this sign? We sure do. And by we, I mean all seven of my brothers and sisters. I love this sign because this is the sign a Mom really deserves to get on Mother's Day.

Years ago, when we were small young'ns, back on the old Farm, we spent our summer days playing in the orchard and swimming in our pool. Mind you, our "pool" was actually an open concrete box-like structure, intended as some sort of bizarre reservoir for.... come to think of it, I have no idea what it was for. We watered a tree line with it. But surely there were better ways to water a few trees, so yeah? It was just there. This big cement edifice positioned on the corner of our property.

Every summer, it was filled to the brim with a large volume of icy cold water, which would sit and heat to a nice tepid, moldy room temperature from the sun over the course of a week or two. The perfect time to get in and swim was signaled when green algae properly formed along all the cement wall interiors and floors - creating a slick cushioning beneath your feet - and the various forms of bacterium sprouted to the size of sustainable tadpoles, springing from every dark corner of the deep water. My Dad would throw in our big metal canoe and we would paddle around, sink the ship, roll it over, climb on top, attempt to balance while standing, and pretend that we were fighting for our lives among the mighty sea waters. Mind you, we probably were fighting for our lives. Only the actual threats manifested more in the form of an attack from leeches rather than from Jaws.

It was the kewlest.

The only thing that made the summer adventures in the pool more exciting was when the cousins and Uncle Ryan came over. Uncle Ryan really is an odd way of describing him. He is only three years older than me, the youngest caboose sibling in my Dad's large family. As such, he was simply one of the many children running all over The Farm. Ryan was almost always the unequivocal leader of the imaginary world we inhabited. He was the ultimate diva, the artist, the creative genius working the scenes and concocting the most elaborate story lines and plots filled with wonder and suspense. A day spent in the pool splashing around with him was usually complete with fully choreographed dance variety shows, shrieking shark attacks, and cinematic displays alternating between terror and delight. He would even occasionally style our hair and makeup to fit whatever character or scene was currently under construction. Is it ironic to admit I was still a little surprised when he came out as gay man years later in college? An instant memory flashed through my mind, when we were kids and he had constructed a photo shoot in the desert in front of our property. I remember he examined the finished {polaroid} photos of us posed randomly among the legions of surrounding sage brush and said to me, "Oh my goooooooosh. LOOK AT YOUR HAIR. Look at the way I captured the sunlight shining through the tips. GORGEOUS."

I mean, HELLOooOoOOO.

All I have to say, looking back, is oh my: should every kid be so lucky. Growing up with my future gay uncle as a pal was ridiculously, hilariously, FUN.

So, anyways, one of these summer days we were engaged in our usual shenanigans, running in and out of the pool and all throughout the orchard. Until, a big fight broke out among the child clans (as was bound to happen, an hourly occurrence really). There was the usual shouting and threatening and tattling. My Mom was summoned, and she did her best to navigate and reassemble the maddeningly overwhelming number of children she was surrounded by. At one point during the this mediation process, Ryan stood in his characteristically nine year-old diva stance and shouted at my Mom


Stop. Just stop.

I mean, what a little biznich, right?!

So funny.

Only at the time, it wasn't. Not at all. In fact, like any normal human being systematically broken down by children, demands, exhaustion, and now judgment from Mr. nine year-old Carson Kressley Junior sassypants, she started crying. In front of everyone. Which was not her typical reaction.

So naturally, my Dad swooped in and shut. it. down.

Ryan was banished to the pump house (the pump house? another feature of The Farm, a story for another day), where he had to sit for the rest of the time until my Grandma came to get him.

The End.


And soooo, in honor of that infamous quote, frequently recited, a memory emblazoned into family history, we officially presented my Mom with it printed and framed for Mother's Day this year.

Because she's finally faced the facts. It's true.

Have a great weekend. And Happy Mother's Day TO MEEEEEEE!!! BOO HAAA HAAAA!!!!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Chief Inspiring Officers.

Julie B. Beck
{{emerson, the wittle mama}}

have you seen this one?

i especially thought of my mom when they said the title
Chief Inspiring Officer.
i hope I'll earn it one day too.