Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 32 - { mrs. tapa }

Note: I wrote most of this post over a week ago. Fortunately the maternity clothes crisis mentioned below is mostly dealt with now, after a teary morning with DC close by.

I want to tell you about my baby sister, mrs. tapa. She is so funny and so awesome. I love her like crazy.

mrs. tapa has always been close to my heart. When she was born I was so excited to be old enough to carry around this cute little girl.

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Isn't she budgie-adorable?! Oooh, I just want to shubby those cheeks!

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As she grew, I always thought she was just beautiful, and I had a real sense of pride in her "belonging" to me. :)

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Now she is all grown up and married to a crazy dental student. (crazy-awesome, that is. :) And they have two gorgeous children.

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Sometime I'll tell you about how hilarious she is, how rock-hard her testimony is, her gift for making things look nice, how beautiful her singing is, and her inspiring strength in working to become the very best wife and mother she can be.

 

mrs. tapa has a way of rescuing me in the way of clothes. . . .

My pudgerriffic self is starting to change from mere fat-displacement to an actual baby bump (yay!), and my wardrobe is feeling the strain. (Ever done the rubberband trick so you can keep wearing your jeans?)

Sunday morning before last I looked in my closet at all the "fat" dresses I've been wearing and knew it was time to pull out the big guns.

Still in my nightgown, I went out into the garage. DC had already left for meetings, and I started unstacking the bins of clothing we have stored out there. Only two were unmarked, and I knew one of them had to have the maternity clothes.

I opened the first one.

Total emotional breakdown. It was the baby clothes, still neatly stacked and folded in their little piles, as they had been on the changing table shelves all ready for Benjamin.

Now I was out there bawling (did I mention the garage door was open?), in my nightgown, with church starting in less than an hour.

I opened the next unmarked one, wiping my eyes, and trying to calm down, telling myself for sure THIS one was the maternity clothes. No problem.

How could I be so clueless about the emotional landmines there? Right on top was the shirt I was wearing when I had that last ultrasound where there was no heartbeat. Near it was the outfit I wore to the hospital the morning I delivered Benjamin.

I crammed the lid back on, just sobbing. (sorry--total drama when you add pregnancy hormones to grieving). Going through those clothes at that moment was simply beyond my ability to cope.

. . . .then I remembered that mrs. tapa had brought me some maternity clothes when we were together in Arizona last month! YAY! What a relief!

I went upstairs to look through them and was SO, SO GRATEFUL to have clothes to wear that did not have ANY feelings associated with them at all, except of course the happy thought that my beautiful sister had worn them.

This shows just one of the things I love about my little sister. She is thoughtful and generous. I think she was inspired to bring me those for me. She had even lent me her very favorite outfit.

      It brought back another memory of a "mrs. tapa wardrobe rescue". . . .

The morning I had to face the task of finding something to wear to my baby's funeral was another time she saved me. She had brought an absolutely beautiful outfit with a forgiving waist-line--black satin with flowers embroidered on it--that she offered to let me wear. I even wore her shoes, which I couldn't bend over to buckle, still sore from the delivery. She knelt and fastened them for me.

mrs. tapa is thoughtful

she is sensitive to the Spirit

mrs. tapa serves like the Savior did, out of pure love

 

On that precious day we had with Benjamin here on earth, she was with us. She held him and cried. She brought gifts of comfort for each of us, including the boys. She and Becky ministered to me like angels.

The day after that unimaginably painful time of saying goodbye to our baby, they were there in my too-quiet hospital room, rubbing my feet and painting my toenails. (I had completely forgotten the fact--and she never mentioned it--that it was her birthday that day.)

I am so grateful for this amazing sister of mine.

I still think she is just beautiful, and I am still proud she "belongs" to me forever.

100 days of gratitude tag

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 30 - { DC's job }

100 days of gratitude tag

This one is a BIGGIE!

And I really, really do appreciate this right now.

While most people go to work, DC goes to play. :) He rehearses and performs with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and one of their resident quartets, and in turn receives regular checks all year round. It is a truly beautiful thing.

During our 8 years of married student life, we often wondered if we were chasing an impossible dream. < cue "Man of La Mancha" theme > :)

Could a person REALLY support a family doing music for a living? Or would we end up paying off student loans with some menial labor job, and regretting our choice to shoot for the moon?

Once DC started in on the professional orchestra audition scene, our fears only increased. It is a brutal world. You work your little tail off learning excerpts and concerto movements, you pay to get yourself to the audition, they listen to you for a few minutes, and then you are either advanced to "the next round" of several, or you are unceremoniously sent home with the 30-100 other musicians you were competing with. It can be so debilitatingly frustrating. DC auditioned for many orchestras over the course of two years before landing the position here. He met many other brilliant and talented violinists, many from the great conservatories, who were sent home as well after 5 minutes of playing in the first round.

Can you imagine what it feels like to have spent months preparing (no, years, really!) and sometimes hundreds of dollars getting yourself to an audition, only to turn around and go home completely empty-handed? And then do that over and over and over. . . . And this for a position that may only pay a schoolteacher's salary or far less. (There's a HUGE variety in payscale for orchestra musicians). It's way too easy to start feeling a little cynical and hopeless.

His mentor Igor Gruppman said once that landing a position with a professional orchestra is like winning the lottery. It is just so unpredictable what can lead someone to win over so many other amazing players.

How grateful we were to "win the lottery" in May 2004! We were euphoric for months.image

So what exactly DOES a professional orchestral player do?

Well, here in Arkansas, a professional orchestra player is part celebrity-performer / part music-"evangelist". The evening and weekend work consists of rehearsals and performances downtown. 

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                                                DC on far right (the one with the gorgeous profile :)

 

The weekday work is mostly traveling with the quartet to elementary schools all over the state to give demos and "instrument petting zoos". The ASO has an award-winning outreach program to introduce children to classical music and to help them fall in love with it.

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It really is an awesome job. Part of the time he's doing what he loves, and the rest of the time helping to teach children to love it, too.

Now, I have to confess that I almost didn't write this post. Shamefully I have been guilty many times of complaining about this very blessing. (Usually about the killer schedule during the season. Oh yeah, and the pay could of course be higher--I think everyone feels that way about their job, though, eh?). But as I see how tenuous so many jobs are right now, and knowing well that the music industry is hardly considered a realm of stable employment, I have felt very humbled and grateful.

It's not a perfect situation, and someday we'd love to have him teaching full-time at a university somewhere, and performing only part-time. But for now it is a miraculous blessing, and we thank Heavenly Father for it.

It has enabled us to buy a house, provide necessities for our chiquitos, and best of all, given us hope of a lifelong musical career for DC. Those of you who know him probably can't imagine him doing anything else.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pudgerrific Picture

Only because you asked nicely. :)

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Update: Okay, Suzanne, maybe the angle of this one shows it better (even though I look like a Nerd). . . . :)

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SEE???

Biker Boy

I have a new hero. And it's Hummer. Guess what he did today?

First of all, let me set the scene. From the National Weather Service today. . . .

Bike route - heat advisory

Sound like a good day for a bike ride? I don't think so either. But I had already PROMISED the boys that today when their chores were done, we would ride our bikes down to a park about a mile and a half from our house.

You know how it is when you PROMISE something to your kids.

When they were finished, and it was about 10:30am, I thought, "Well, it's still morning, and we'll drink lots of water, and DC can be our on-call emergency pickup vehicle." :)

So we set out, just the three of us. (Poor Fluffy did not finish his chores and had to stay behind. We could hear his screaming and tantrumming from inside as we drove off).

Exacto is a pro. He even knows to stop and do turn signals when necessary.

I am a pudgeriffic semi-pro (picture pending). I have to walk my bike up the big hills, and tend to wobble a lot when I try to signal.

Then there's Hummer. He's still on training wheels. I thought for sure that with the heat and the distance combined, we would be calling DC in a matter of minutes to come get Hummer.

So we set out, just the three of us.

Bike route - hot road

(I didn't take this picture. I was too busy maintaining my balance while going approximately 1/2 mph alongside Hummer and his training wheels.)

Sweat was pouring down our necks, and we couldn't even take advantage of the downhills because of the sweet 5-year-old who kept braking every couple of seconds so he wouldn't get too fast.

Bike route

I was so amazed when we all actually made it to the park. Exacto and I made a beeline for the shade, and I called DC to come get us. ALL of us! Meanwhile Hummer stayed on his bike, yelling for us to start riding home. When I told him Daddy was coming to get us because we were thirsty and hot and tired, he got mad and said he wanted to ride his bike home.

DC and Fluffy arrived. Exacto and I jumped into the A/C gratefully while our bikes got wedged into the van by my Darling. Hummer ignored our calls and took off back up the huge hill by the park.

I was so completely impressed. Not only was he having to pedal 2-3 times as many rotations because of his tiny wheels, but his rear tire lacks tread, and half the time it spins instead of moving forward.

We followed along in our Wimp-mobile, making sure he was safe, and all of us exclaiming in awe at the achievement unfolding before us. (It was totally a "Chariots of Fire" moment--so cool!). With sweat pouring down him (his shirt was drenched) he kept trundling that bike up the hill till he made it!

By this point, Exacto and I were feeling humbled and inspired (plus our sweat had mostly dried due to the beautiful air-conditioning in the van), and we decided to join him for the rest of the way home.

That kid made it! He biked THREE MILES on a teeny bike in horrible heat! And then he came in and was so cheerful and sweet.

I do have a picture of that. . . .

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

*Pudgerrific*

That's me!

I looked in the mirror today and saw my rounded flab poking out my middle (which, incidentally is NOT baby, but merely my new inability to suck in), and the word "pudgeriffic" came to mind.

It means:

Pudgy.

For a Terrific reason.

:)

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 29 - { Fluffy }

During my time of nausea and general green haze I started several posts I didn't finish before our trip. My sister Mandy says I should still post them, so I think I will. Here's one that I wrote for Fluffy's birthday back on May 17. . . .

Eight years ago today, my second son was born. I looked into his eyes, and was startled to remember him, and to sense that he remembered me! We recognized each other! It was a deeply precious moment that I will never forget.

P5170040--2001 05 17 Clyn looking at Baby Russell's belly but

If you like reading birth stories, here ya go, the G-rated version! If not (and I completely understand!), skip down to the next picture and beyond.

Fluffy was born during our student days in Tallahassee, FL. He was 15 days late, because I was adamant about trying to do a VBAC delivery. I was GINORMOUS, by far the biggest I have ever been or ever hope to be. (I thought about putting a picture here, but it seemed more fit for a tabloid magazine :).

I had taken Bradley classes again, and arranged for a doula to assist me in labor. I visualized the whole process going just how it should, free of any superfluous medical involvement.  But his due date came and went, and my "practice" contractions were weakening and slowing instead of increasing. It became apparent we would have to induce. (sidenote: have you ever had the experience of attending church on Mother's day two weeks past your due date? People say the worst things! I'd never been so close to committing violence in an LDS chapel).

On the morning of May 17, 2001, they hooked up my "walking" pitocin, and DC and I (and the ever-present doula) started out on a walk around the hospital wing. We were so ready for this! Not fifteen minutes later the doctor called us back into the room and told me he had a really bad feeling about letting me do this. He said with how large the baby appeared to be and with my previous C-section, I was running a very high risk with the baby's life and possibly my own. Was the risk worth having a "better" delivery?

Have you ever had the experience of the Spirit telling you something you had hoped not to hear? This was one of those times. Even though I so desperately did not want to repeat the C-section experience, I could feel that peaceful, strong knowledge in my heart and in my mind telling me that the doctor was right and I should proceed with a surgical birth. I tearfully asked the doctor if my mom could be in there with me, and he agreed. We then requested some private time for a Priesthood blessing (this was given just after all the surgical prep and before my mom arrived).

Not more than a half-hour later, Fluffy came beautifully screaming into the world. The first words he was privileged to hear (from the assisting doctor): "Call Bobby Bowden! This one's huge!" And he was-- 9 pounds, 3 ounces. (My next biggest baby was Hummer, at 7 pounds, 10 ounces).

My poor doula was reduced to feeding me ice chips in the post-op recovery room instead of heroically coaching me through the transition phase.

But I was in heaven. As they wheeled me to my room, we passed the NICU and realizing that this could have turned out very differently, I said heartfelt prayers of gratitude that he had arrived safely.

P5180070--2001 05 18 Clyn gives Russell a kiss as Chris watch

 

Fluffy brought so much sunshine into our home. From the very beginning, we could see that he has a peaceful, affectionate spirit. He has always had a radiant smile, which combined with those light sky-blue eyes, is just gorgeous.

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I am grateful for his unconditional hugs. Even when I have recently reprimanded him, he is ALWAYS quick to offer a hug. And I don't think he can go to sleep unless I have hugged and kissed him first. :)

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He has a brilliant mind, but doesn't seem like it because of absent-mindedness. He could count backwards from 100 to 1 when he was three. Yet he still forgets to flush sometimes. (I suppose that's normal?)

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That's all I wrote, but there are many other things I could expound on: his zany sense of humor, his ability to play with words, his already-firm testimony of the Book of Mormon through his own experience of reading it and praying. He is one awesome young man! I am so grateful Heavenly Father chose me to be his mother.

I love you, Fluffy!

Fluffy - portrait

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

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I'm back! Didja miss me? :)

Our month out west was quite refreshing, and it feels surprisingly good to be back! I thought I would dread it, but our return coincided with my morning sickness ending and I am feeling spunkier than I have in months. Yippee!

It was kind of a bummer to feel so puny most of the time with our families, but on the other hand, it was nice to have help and sympathy. I think it helped the rough weeks go by a lot faster. It never hurts to be spoiled, eh?

Now that we're back home, it really feels like summer vacation. The first few days I caught the boys starting to say they needed something to do. That is a HUGE NO-NO around here, because I can think of PLENTY for them to do (aka weeds out in the 98-degree-plus-humidity heat).

It's nice to see them work those things out for themselves. (evil chuckle)

Today they got ahold of the camera and had some fun. . . .

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Gotta love that flattering angle. :)

 

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And some nice stop-motion here. . . .

 

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Now, now. Don't be scared!

 

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Hummer as seen through the plastic green translucent racket (previously visible in 2nd picture)

 

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So what do you think? Budding photography genius? Or menace to the blogging world?

 

 

P.S. I MISSED YOU! Isn't that weird? I mean, not weird that you're missable, but that I actually feel such a connection to people I never actually see. You know what I mean, don't you?

I think I'd best go to bed now.

Hope I don't regret this tomorrow.