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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Around this time of year I can’t help but reflect back on what I was doing exactly three years ago right now. Zachary will turn three in precisely four weeks. Three, I repeat, THREE! I remember three. I remember four better, but I definitely remember three. So, three years ago I was a lazy bum. I was the biggest bum – just lying around in bed ALL DAY LONG. Lying in bed, all day and all night, in the hospital for seven weeks to keep Zach cooking.

I thought it would be interesting to see what I had blogged about, and to my utter glee both today’s and tomorrow’s (of three years ago) entries are two of my favorites. I have a few memories that really stand out from that whole hospital experience, and it’s ironic that March 31st and April 1st include some of the most stand-out moments.

So, now for a look back:

March 31, 2006
4:51PM It's day 19 here in the hospital, but who's counting, right? Uh, me. Yesterday, Doctor Anton said, "Wow! It's gone really fast, hasn't it? It seems like you just got here." No, actually I beg to differ. It doesn't go really fast if you're the one lying in the bed staring at the clock slowly ticking by. It feels like I've been here for three months not almost three weeks. But hey! Three weeks is still a big accomplishment. I do realize that, and I promise that I don't stare at the clock...that often.

I have a new friend in my room! Vern the Fern is now hanging from the ceiling by the window. Thankfully, while he is a cheerful, friendly plant, I haven't started talking to him for company...not yet anyway.

Perhaps one of the best parts of this pregnancy has been meeting Dr. Kevin Case. He is the specialist that performed all of our high-tech, 3-D ultrasounds. Dr. Case is unlike any doctor that I have ever met -- and I have met quite a few and they've all been good. Dr. Case, however, is phenomenal. He has been giving mothers and fathers their first view of their children for many, many years, and yet he has not become at all desensitized to what he's looking at. At all of our appointments, Dr. Case thanked me for allowing him to share in those amazing first images of our son. He applauded our decision to pass up some of the prenatal testing done to determine the likelihood of disability in the baby (and some people do have terminations based on the often inaccurate results). He said something to the effect of, " Your decision tells me that you will love this baby unconditionally and I thoroughly agree with that choice."

I just recently wrote Dr. Case a note to thank him for being such a compassionate, caring doctor. He wrote a note back to me saying, "Good morning, Jenny. Thank you for your beautiful note. You are a kind and compassionate soul. Zachary is such a beautiful baby...You have enriched my life. With warmest regards, Kevin Case. I'll bet we get to late May!" Isn't that impressive? What an incredible doctor to go so far above and beyond the call of duty! With his note, Dr. Case included a couple of quotes.

"She leaned closer to look at the baby lying on the blanket on the grass. They knew nothing about her, whether her mother was young or old, rich or poor. But Mrs. Blessing could see that this baby was beloved, and in the soft grass, with the breeze blowing the crippled limbs of the old apple trees, that seemed to be all that mattered." -- Anna Quindlen, 'Blessings'

"Where there is great love there are always miracles. One might almost say that an apparition is a human vision corrected by divine love. I do not see you as you really are, I see you through my affection for you. Miracles seem to me to rest not so much upon our faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always." -- Willa Cather, 'Death Comes For The Archbishop"

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today I received yet, another rave review to boost my music teaching-ego. (Which, you’ll recall, I actually DO need right now. I need the boosting. Of the ego). At the very end of my first class today, one little boy sighed and said, “This is the most fun ever of my life.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I had an awesome teaching day yesterday. I needed an awesome teaching day yesterday. Last week, I had one exceptionally challenging teaching-related day in which someone beat me up repeatedly with a “you suck” stick. It hurt. It hurt bad. Especially because I’ve done nothing wrong; this person just holds my mere existence against me. I shan’t go into detail, however if you want the full detailed version feel free to request a copy of my dissertation on the topic.

Anyway, yesterday was wonderful. I spent two full hours teaching a total of 120 2 ½ -5 year olds at the boys’ preschool. It’s funny that sometimes (and often) the kids who are the most challenging – the ones who are there not to learn from you but to teach YOU – are often the ones you end up liking the most. One of these kids is (I’ll change his name) Tommy. Tommy is five going on fifteen. Every single day he wears a fly fisherman’s vest (you know the kind full of zippered pockets and compartments); I have yet to find out if he keeps anything in these pockets. Tommy is the Alpha Dog. The leader of the pack. The head hauncho. The boss. Tommy is the Godfather. Every little boy in Tommy’s class wants to sit next to him, to be his best friend, they want to BE him. And Tommy plays it all so cool. They are just wee peons. They bore him, these pointless lowly mortals.

Unfortunately, from day one, Tommy decided that music class was beneath him. It was a waste of time. On the very first day, he sighed audibly and said, “This is so boring.” He’s five! Five year olds shouldn’t be bored with music and dancing, instruments, parachute-play and bubbles. Come on! Therefore, it has been an uphill battle with his entire class. If Tommy doesn’t think that music class is fun, then most of them are convinced it must be a pointless exercise. I was discussing Tommy with Matthew’s teacher (Matthew is not in the same class as Tommy, by the way). Mrs. Morris said that once she reprimanded Tommy for something and he said, “Woman! Why you gotta be so hard on me? Gah, you’re as bad as my mom.”

I’ve gradually been winning Tommy over – primarily because our last two themes were ones that interest 99.9% of all boys under the age of 8 – dinosaurs and transportation. This time we were singing about animals so I knew that I’d need to work some magic to get Tommy on my side. Once you’ve got Tommy in your corner, then you know you’re good to go. (But it would take some serious finagling to get Tommy pumped about the “Animal Pokey” – you know: “you put your piggy in, you put your piggy out, you put your piggy in and you shake it all about.” Each kid gets a picture of a different farm animal. You get the idea). I decided that kissing Tommy’s butt would be the way to go.

I took him aside before class started and schmoozed and oozed over him to no end. I raved about how well he’s been doing in class, and gosh, I could REALLY use his help. Would he be my special helper and sit next to me to help show the other kids (those silly guys just don’t get it sometimes!) how it’s all done? He looked at me, seriously contemplating this offer, and then said, “Well, I didn’t look at my notes on this.”

I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing and remaining completely deadpan, I said, “Do you think you can wing it? You know, just follow my lead? It’s cool that you didn’t have a chance to study up. I could sure use your help.” He gave me a brief nod – a little mini-adult nod like yes, lunch next week would work out well, thank you; we’ll be in touch.

Magic. Having that boy by my side transformed that class of whiners into the most enthusiastic, farm animal music-loving group of mini-musician kidlets I’ve ever seen! At one point, after collecting a batch of instruments I sat down in a different part of the circle – actually directly opposite from Tommy. Before I could start the next song, he said, “Uh, Ms. Jenny, did you forget our agreement? You need to sit by me.” He pointed briskly at the Ms. Jenny-sized vacant spot by his side. I nodded and said, “Yeah, thanks, Tommy, I just wanted to watch you for this one, I’ll be back over there soon.” Charmed. He was pleased with that deal despite it not being our original ‘agreement’.

At the end of class, Tommy, hung back and said, “Thanks, Ms. Jenny. Music was fun today.” Dude. I love that kid.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Matthew loved his “kid interview” so much he wanted another one. And Zach got his say in too. (The first 11 questions are just Matthew, then Zach got involved so I specified after that).

1. What will you be when you grow up? Police officer.
2. What will you do? Catch robbers and put them in jail.
3. Who will be in your family? The mom and my six kids. Woah! That’ll be a lot of bunk beds.
4. Who is your wife? Abby. She’ll be a worker.
5. Where do the babies come from? In the mommy’s tummy, one by one.
6. How do the babies get in the mommy’s tummy? By God.
7. What kind of house will you live in? A huge, huge house.
8. What kind of car will you drive? A bus.
9. Will you have any pets? Uh, six dogs.
10. Who will take care of the dogs? All my children.
11. What will your kids’ names be? Jack, Bear, Abby, Nave, Nikki, John
12. What will Zach (little brother) be when he grows up? Zach: “A fireman.” Matthew: (Ooh, he’ll have lots of training to do). Zach: “Take the bad guys to jail.” Matthew: Oh, you’ll be a fire fighter that puts bad guys in jail. That’ll be weird. Zach: “I’ll put the strangers in jail…I don’t know about bad trees.” Matthew: Bad trees. There’s no such thing! Zach: “Bad guys live in bad holes.”
13. Zach, who will be in your family? Joshua and Noah.
14. What does the Easter Bunny? Put eggs at the people’s house.
15. What does Jesus do? He’s God.
16. What does God look like? (Matthew): A big ball of gold.
17. What happens when you die? You stay dead. You play with God in Heaven.
18. What happens to your toys when you die? Uh, you don’t play with them anymore.
19. What do Mommy and Daddy do when you’re not here? Zach: Die. Matthew: When I’m not around you fix the lamps.
20. If you could change anything about Mom or Dad what would it be? Matthew: They’ll look all old.

Friday, March 20, 2009

OK, time is scarce, so I'm just going to be lazy and paste in something I did on Facebook for those blog-readers but not Facebook-do-ers out there.

Ask your child(ren) to answer the questions and type their answers in.
Matthew -- age 5 1/2

1. What is something mom always says to you? Don't watch a movie if you're being naughty.
2. What makes mom happy? Loving her and being nice to her.
3. What makes mom sad? When she's angry.
4. What does your mom do to make you laugh? Tickle me.
5. What did your mom like as a child? She liked to do her homework.
6. How old is your mom? I don't know.
7. How tall is your mom? I think 5 minutes tall.
8. What is your mom's favorite thing to do? Play with her son.
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? She does gym stuff.
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Doing yoga.
11. What is your mom really good at? Being nice to her kids.
12. What is your mom not very good at? Playing Legos.
13. What does your mom do for her job? Do the laundry.
14. What is your mom's favorite food? Salad.
15. What makes you proud of your mom? Making a picture for me.
16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be? I don't know.
17. What do you and your mom do together? Go to the park and play.
18. How are you and your mom the same? We don't look the same.
19. How are you and your mom different? 'Cuz my mom has black hair and I have brown hair.
20. How do you know your mom loves you? 'Cuz she's very nice and loving.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top ‘o the mornin’ to ya. That’s right, it’s St. Patrick’s Day here (…and everywhere) in the “Emerald City.” However, it’s not so green this morning. I woke up to another blanket of white fluff covering every possible surface outside. AGAIN, we have snow. And, I’m sorry, I can’t help it, but my internal schoolgirl does a small squeal of glee every time she pulls back the curtain to discover a winter wonderland outside. Will school be cancelled? Will we have a snow day? Ooh! We should have cocoa and listen to Christmas music! Yeah, yeah, I know that we’re half-way through March and Spring should be here and this snow is craziness (thank you, Global Climate Change), but it still gets me a bit giddy. And I’ll admit I’m slightly let-down that Seattle – yes, even Seattle – is getting a little nonchalant about the white stuff. They’re no longer cancelling school for a dusting! We used to cancel for a few flakes. (I told Mike – who recently emerged from the bedroom – to look outside. He grunted and continued getting his cereal. OK, granted until about 8 in the morning, all he can do is grunt, but the snow didn’t phase him at all. And I just read this to him and he said, “I grunted.” Like I should be impressed that I at least got that reaction.)

My inner schoolgirl could use a snow boost right now. A monster has been unleashed, and I’m struggling with demons. (Hmm, last week it was Gremlin-Elves, this week it’s monsters and demons. What’s with that? I live in a fantasy world, it’s true; and I’m under attack). As you may have noticed there’s a new little feature – a fancy gadget – in the upper left corner of my Blog. Didn’t see it? See it now? That, my friends, is the new source of my torture. Sure, it looks innocent enough – just a subtle single row of numbers, but really this Blog ‘visitors counter’ is nothing but a blow to the self-esteem on display. OK, I am exaggerating, so before you all start clicking on my Blog multiple times a day (let’s call them “Pity Clicks”), allow me to explain.

Jessica, my fellow Blogger, “official” Blog follower of mine, music teacher, friend from the days of yesteryear (including Symphony Camp!), and newly reunited Facebook friend introduced me to this. She said, “I figured out how to put a blog tracker at the bottom (it will count how many people view my blog!) It's very fun. I gave instructions on my blog, so check it out! Then you can actually SEE how popular and awesome you and your blog is!”…um, or not. I’ve become obsessed with this little row of zeros. It’s like 7th grade all over again. How popular am I? What can I do to fit in more? And I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but every time I visit my Blog to see what number I’m at, MY visit is counted as a visitor. So, currently the counter reads 00000045, but people, quite a few of those are ME visiting MYSELF!

Sigh. At least my boys occasionally help boost my self-esteem (though they frequently do the opposite too). Yesterday, after dinner, Matthew looked at me and said, “Mommy, you’re beautiful. Beautiful like a candy cane and rainbow.”

Saturday, March 14, 2009

I can now be hired for childrens’ birthday parties – like you would, say, get a pony or a bouncy house or a clown (but without the post-traumatic stress induced nightmares…I hope). You too, can now celebrate your child’s birthday with “Ms. Jenny.” I’m expanding my business, Little Ditties Music Academy, and am starting to market (a wee more aggressively) for the party end of my business. It’s…wait for it…Little Ditties Party! Yes, I make it sound so professional, so fancy: ‘aggressively marketing this aspect of my business’ talk. Really, it just means that I’ve doctored up my brochures and have been including them with my song coloring sheets at my library classes and soon will give them out at preschool and the Montessori school where I teach.

Word of mouth is how I get most of my business, and the libraries may be where it’s at. Last Friday, I had my first classes of a new five week session. I’ve now added one more library to my Friday class schedule. (So, wow. That means I expanded from one class on Fridays to two. Can you handle that? Do you follow? I know it’s VERY confusing.) Anyway, I’ve got a tight schedule. I end my class at the Bellevue library by 11am and then scoot to start my next class at the Lake Hills library at 11:30.

Last week, since it was our first day, the class took a little longer (I explain things a bit more thoroughly, etc.), so I didn’t get out of Bellevue until 11:05. The little gremlin-elves that live inside the traffic lights to change the color (I used to believe this, by the way) hate me apparently. (Which is just not fair as I’m the only one who knows of their existence and I’ve kept their secret quite well, thank you very much. Well, the jig is up!) They laughed with menacingly glee as they quickly scurried up their ladders to slide the red light into place as I approached. I swear it seemed like the lights were green just a second ago! What happened to yellow, for crying out loud?! Were they trying to keep me from bringing music to the toddlers of today, the Mozarts of tomorrow?!

So, with the curse of the Light Gremelves, upon me, I charge into the Lake Hills library at 11:27 for my 11:30 class. There was a very frazzled woman standing right inside the entrance with a clipboard. The moment I banged in the door (with my two huge tote bags full of instruments and boombox), she gasped, “Are you Jenny?!” Uh, what gave it away?

“Yes,” I said, “I’m so sorry. It took me longer to get here than I expected. [Damn evil little light-changing creatures]. But it only takes me a second to set-up. Is the room unlocked?”

“Yes, but that’s not what I care about,” she said, following closely on my heel. “We have a problem.”

Uh-oh. I drop my bags (Kerplunk! Clang! Bang!) down on the table in the meeting room which will soon be transformed into a magical land of musical mayhem. “Um, problem?” I ask as I plug in my stereo and start unloading my box of rhythm sticks, bag of scarves, bottle of bubble juice.

“How many people can you take in the class?” she asks frantically. The woman looked like she might pop a vein or hyperventilate or pee her pants or experience any sort of embarrassing bodily disaster.

“Well, the library takes care of all of the class registration,” I say slowly and calmly, yet firmly, like I’m talking a toddler down from a tantrum, “And the website lists the class as having room for fifteen 2-5 year olds and a parent or grown-up chaperone.”

“Yes,” she snaps, “I know that,” she nearly shouts. (OK, so what’s your question?) “The problem is that we had 15 sign-up,” (that’s a problem?), “And we have a waiting list” (ooh! That’s good! People are interested!), “and they all showed up today…everyone. The 15 AND the waiting list.” (Oh). “And there’s THIRTEEN OF THEM” (Snap), “On the waiting list. There’s THIRTEEN AND THEY’RE ALL HERE…AND SO ARE THE 15!!” (I see the problem).

I picture a crowd, an angry mob, a throng of yelling toddlers and parents banging on the library door with torches and pitch-forks. (I don’t know why, but every angry mob must have torches and pitch-forks, right?!) Or maybe they would be more the peaceful protest type – a sit-in with harmonious singing of ‘hell no, we won’t go’ set to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star: “No, hell no, we won’t go; we won’t go without a show. We are here to sing and play. We are here for class today. No, hell no, we won’t go; we won’t go without a show.” (Yeah, I do that a lot…make-up words to kid tunes. I’m that good. Look, it’s what I do. It’s a gift. Don’t judge me).

“Uh, OK,” I say, stalling…thinking. Then I clear my head and say decisively, “I have enough instruments for 20. And with this room size, I’d say 20 is probably the max that we can take.”

She seems to relax a little now that we have a plan, and she leaves with the tough job of turning away 8 preschool music class wanna-be’s and their dedicated parents.

In the end, I don’t know how many people I had in the class. Every time, I turned back from the stereo or putting away instruments, the crowd seemed to have grown. People kept sneaking in the back door, but I did have ample instruments, scarves, bubbles – of course, and – thank goodness – Little Ditties Party! Brochures and songsheets. Hmm, maybe it was like our own little miracle of the Loaves and the Fishes. I was able to feed the multitude with music. Take that Light Gremlin-Elves! Ha!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

All I can say is I don't understand Daylight Savings. Every time it rolls around I get all befuddled by the concept. "So, wait, the new 5 o'clock is really 4 o'clock? It's lighter...later? But darker earlier...or later?" Look, it's just beyond my comprehension. I don't know if a flow chart would help or a explanitory cartoon complete with conversation bubbles (think early grade science book, perhaps). But not only is confusing -- it's exhausting! And whoever came up with this 'time changing concept' obviously did NOT have children. You can reset a clock. You cannot reset a child. It's tricky business. So, we've done what any any good parent does, we've been going nonstop -- running our children constantly in order to wear them out to hopefully get them reset to this new craziness called 'Daylight Savings'. Monday morning, with dread I awoke to my alarm going off at the 'new' "5:30" (um, really, it's 4:30, people! It's 4:30)! With the slim chance of snow in the forecast, I slowly pulled back the curtain and to my utter glee saw a blanket of white covering every surface. No, "6am" (5AM!!) run for me, thank you very much. The snow has long since melted and yet I still feel like I'm trying to make up for that lost hour.

This weekend we'll be watching our friends' two little boys. From Friday morning 'til Sunday night we'll be chasing after four boys under the age of 5...5 1/2 actually. (Matthew's been correcting us on that ever since his 1/2 birthday last week.) I have a feeling with the extra rippers ripping around here getting caught up on time and sleep is somewhat out of the question. Can't we turn the clocks back, puh-lease?!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

So, I don't consider myself a crafty or artsy person, but I'm pretty proud of Matthew's new John Deere desk. He is too! Can you tell?!