Thursday, February 12, 2009


My life is fairly mundane; following the same basic schedule from week to week. I am hugely lucky to be able to spend so much time with my children and to watch them learning and growing. I just can't imagine what it must be like without home would I have the close connection I enjoy with my kids if I hadn't had the privilege to play, teach, guide and learn from them all of these years?

Anyway, my life is pretty predictable and we aren't the most spontaneous lot, so one would think I would be riding an even tide of emotions. Ha ha ha ha ha. Not even. Without touching on the hormonal roller coaster of midlife, or mentioning the myriad of stressful happenings in our family at large, I can freely admit here that I suffer waves of terror almost daily. Terror that the time I have with said children is being misused or at least not maximized. Terror that I'll miss something very, very important that will necessitate they pay for years of therapy on my account. Terror that I am unable to get to the root of every teen emotion, to help them through that oh so difficult time of life. Terror, too, that this journey of parenthood is flying by WAY too fast. I fear it will be over before I get my role down. It seems to be taking me years to perfect it, and just as I think I've got it down, they change or I change or everything changes and I'm back at the green beginning again.

Maybe I am strange in this regard - heck, I don't know. I'd like to believe that the other rockin' moms I know face similar worries from day to day. But many of them make it look so easy, so effortless, so naturally sweet that I wonder. I wonder if they worry about their daily parenting choices or lose sleep thinking about how fast the tiny tots became teens. I wonder if they, too, share my moments of terror.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Why is it that they come alive just as I need to go to bed?

I DO remember what it was like to be a teen. Admittedly, I can't say it was my favorite time.....but I do long for the endless energy, the stay-up-all-night and party like a rockstar mentality - and physicality - that I enjoyed way back then.

Now, even on my birthday (which for those of you who don't know, is on New Year's Eve) I rarely.....okay, NEVER stay up until midnight. My coach turns into a pumpkin by 10:30. If I don't get at least seven hours of sleep you can forget even trying to talk to me the next day; you will not get anything coherent if you try.

My children, however, come alive just as the clock strikes nine. That is, my teens do (my son is only 12, but he's been well on his way to displaying a full array of teen angst for some time). All evening they can mope around, exhibiting less enthusiasm than a cat for the veterinarian's office, seemingly uninterested and uninspired to say much or do anything. Maybe the Wii.....maybe Facebook....maybe read a little. But REALLY mom, just leave us alone to have our SPACE.

Then, as I tuck in the little one, with a story and a hug, the older ones become animated. I begin to hear peals of laughter and mad keyboard clicking. The inside jokes they share keep them bantering back and forth, their voices getting louder and louder, until the toad of a mother has to remind them to keep their voices down. Sure, mom. No problem. Good night! (translated: okay already. Can you just go to bed?)

And what about those sleep overs? A sleep over is, of course, a misnomer. No sleep happens. It's simply an excuse to stay up all night and goof off with friends. Totally understand that - I even used to do it. But, sheesh, for the life of me I can't remember HOW I used to do it.

Well, I guess I do understand the phenomenon. But right now, having been thoroughly worked over in kickboxing, I'm looking forward to reading for thirty minutes and then falling into the sleep of the dead. Meanwhile, my older kids are quoting their favorite novels at one another using voices I never knew they could mimic, mixing in things from Monty Python and the Terminator, while my son's tongue keeps flicking in and out like the Joker. They are just now ready to play, to explore and to create. I want some of that energy!!

The fun really starts, though, not at nine o'clock tonight, when I'm winding down and they're getting wound up, but at 7am tomorrow morning. I am up by 6 most days, 6:30 if I sleep 7am is rise and shine in our house. MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Maybe I'll sing Reveille! Or better yet, play it on my cornet (that should thrill the neighbors ;)

Why music?

Fair question, I think. I have been asked more than once why studying, playing, and listening to music ranks so high on my family's list of priorities. Why, indeed, considering none of us are remotely Mozart-like and musicians often struggle to make a living, you know - starving artists.

So, why do we do it? The obvious first answer is because we love it how it makes us feel. There is something magical about making your own music - probably much like the rush of completing any other piece of art (this I wouldn't know from experience, though, as I never made it past stick figures!) Plus, sharing music either by making it together or performing for others, is uniting and satisfying in a similar way to the feelings of closeness that are evoked during a good conversation.

I've been asked, though, why do we devote so much TIME to the matter? Wouldn't my children be better served by pursuing something more apt to get them into a better college or promote their current academic advancement? Perhaps. But I like to look at music as a second language - a universal language. It may not pave their ways into Harvard or Yale, but they *could* march in the Disneyland Band or accompany themselves when they belt out 'Wicked' tunes. I think we've learned as much, if not more, history from studying music, musicals, and musicians than from any other method - and I'm quite sure those lessons will never be forgotten.

I like the discipline that we learn through music, too. For lucky kids like mine, often academic pursuits come too easily. They miss the part about trying, then trying again, and practicing to improve. Music is unforgiving in this arena. Sure, there are those who can play anything on any instrument, but my experience has shown me that those folks are rather rare. Most of us must devote regular time to practice and prepare....and that requires commitment, goal setting and determination. I love that about music - in many ways, it is life in microcosm.

Plus, I must be honest. I love to hear my children play. I enjoy having them master something new and share it with others. I really love it when they pick up some new instrument and figure it out on their own, experimenting and improvising.

Music of all kinds makes life so much more enjoyable! We listen to punk, to musicals, to classical piano, big band and sixties hippy stuff. Don't forget that Wizard Rock! O is just beginning her musical experience and I am looking forward to seeing what she comes up with!

Not very tied up, but gotta go to American Girls.......wonder what we'll listen to on the way?

Sunday, February 8, 2009


I found it! I found it! The dark days of worry are over......I can exercise the dog even if I can't walk!

With sadness, anger, and reluctance I've finally come to accept that I may never have the same level of activity that I once enjoyed. My knees will likely never withstand running again and even a race walk with the dog isn't something they will tolerate on a daily basis. Giving up jogging is, well, in the words of my son, 'JUST NOT FAIR!' The endorphin junkie that I am, I have come to rely on jogging and TKD to lift my spirits and brighten my outlook, while helping me to thwart the evil ravages of Father TIme. Alas, I now have to find another way to beat Him and to feed my endorphin habit - but the nagging, aching fear most eating me remains how I can exercise and bond with my dog (and someday another dog) if I can't even WALK him. I can't imagine another forty or fifty years without a canine buddy to share and play with. I'm just not a tiny, couch potato dog person, so a chihuahua or some such dog just won't do - besides, what about Rusty? He is too high energy to sit around all day. So how could I possibly, in good conscience, be a responsible dog owner if I can't run or walk my dog?

Earlier this week I tried to ride my daughter's scooter to exercise Rusty and that worked a bit, but I'm not much of a scooter rider. Put it this way, my bum couldn't take it! My hat is off to skate boarders cuz it ain't as easy as it looks. So, scratch the scooter. Next, I considered skating. Skating is good exercise, utilizes lots of leg muscles, and is easy to do right out of your driveway. My daughter outgrew her skates long ago, but I kept the ones in my size (never mind that they say Brittany Spears), so I have the gear. I remember many skating parties in my youth and I'm in top shape, if you disregard my knees, so it should be no problem, right?? Ha! I got as far as the neighbor's driveway before I realized that not only would Rusty not get any exercise while I was skating - that would require me to go faster than the speed of a turtle - but I'd likely break some other bone or joint to go along with my screwed up knees.

Damn! What now? My son's BMX was closest to the garage door, so I whipped it out in a last ditch effort. Last ditch, you see, because Rusty is known for his mistrust of bicycles. When we first got him he'd bark like a mad dog whenever the mountain bikers would pass us on the trail. As a herding dog, his instincts press him to round up those miscreant wheels that are turning and whirling away from the fold. His drive to herd moving wheels of any kind is so strong that I'll never let him off leash where there are moving cars or bicycles. So, could I get him to run along with me if I were on one of those misbehaving, nefarious bikes? Hmmmm......

Lucky for me Rusty can heel very well. We've done hours of heel training, using 'right' and 'left' commands to turn. In fact, he knows his directions better than I do. More than once, my dyslexia has taken over and I've called 'left' then turned right, only to feel Rusty turn left. He'll look over at me like, 'Dude! Your OTHER left! Sheesh!' Knowing he was proficient with his directions, I felt a little more comfortable; maybe I wouldn't run him over.

When Rusty runs, he likes to grab the leash in his mouth. He'll walk and heel properly at my command, but when we run, we run together, his mouth holding my leash as much as my hand is holding his. So, I began slowly on my son's bike, my knees nearly hitting my ears as I carefully peddled down the middle of the street with Rusty on my right. After a few irritated barks -'What are you DOING? Get off of that thing!' - he grabbed his leash and we picked up the speed. Only two or three times did I have to slow and remind him to stay to the side and not nip at the sheep with wheels that I was riding. I rode and he ran, smiling as only a dog can smile, with tongue hanging out and eyes sparkling.

This afternoon we tried it again, but this time I had the sense to ride my oldest daughter's bike - a mountain bike made for an adult - so the range of motion required of my knees was much easier to endure. Rusty did perfectly and seemed happy doing it! What a tremendous relief!

Now, I just need to use a little ingenuity to create a new collection of cardio activities that I enjoy to replace those that I have lost for my own exercise. I guess if I can get Rusty to accept running with a bicycle I should be able to learn to swim more, or walk inclines, or even drag a sled to get the cardio I need. Maybe I'll even smile while I'm doing it. ;)

Friday, February 6, 2009

On My Own

My turn! My turn! I've shared a blogspot with my family for a while now - and I will continue to do so, as it is a great way for the kids to communicate with far away relatives. But, here I have a place all to myself, a rarity in my busy life. Truthfully, I once loved to write, but I've fallen far out of practice. Perhaps if I actually put my fingers to the keys regularly, I'll find it is an art I haven't completely forgotten. Maybe I'll remember how to use the five dollar SAT words and discard some of my preschool vocabulary. It is even possible I might reconnect with a muse or two and tap the joy I once had, that I now chase with endorphins. We'll see........

For someone who teaches writing and grammar nearly daily you'd think it wouldn't be a big deal to pound out a few ramblings every week. The mumblings and stumblings in my mind, however, often echo inside, reverberating off of every task and plan important for that day, until I can only make out a word or two, the meanings lost in the disarray of a busy schedule. Again, we'll see.......or, rather, I'll write then I'll see ;)

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