Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Like Riding a Bike, Right?

Re-learning something you already knew how to do once should be just like riding a bike, right? I mean, how hard can it be to pick up the old instrument, dust it off, tune it up, and play your heart out, even if it has been 18 years?

Pretty hard.

I played the violin from the 4th grade through the 9th grade. I quit orchestra (and subsequently violin) to join the choir. I couldn't do both at that point. I had my reasons (okay, all the cute boys were in choir, there were none in orchestra).

A couple years later, after an interstate move, I had the opportunity to take up the violin again. But I was too chicken. I thought, All these other kids have been playing consistently, with private lessons, for 7-8 years now. I haven't touched my violin since I quit two years ago. I'll be so far behind.

In college, I tried playing again for one semester. I joined the University Orchestra, a walk-in orchestra where they didn't require an audition. They did, however, require chair auditions. I made 2nd violin, 39th chair. Any of you familiar with that will understand what that meant. Outer darkness. I think there was one person who was lower than me. I was terrible. I could hardly keep up, and honestly, air-bowed a lot of the music because it was too hard and I was too chicken to ask for help.

I put down the violin and didn't try again until after graduating from college. See, I had this violin that my parents had gotten from my aunt for me to use. When I quit in 9th grade, my aunt didn't want it back. So I've been carrying this instrument around with me ever since. Anyway, I moved away to teach the 2nd grade. I found a teacher, someone through church, and started up private lessons. But she was too demanding. On top of teaching school for my first year, which is demanding in and of itself, she wanted me to practice one hour every day. I wasn't ever even home for one hour every day. I tried to practice during my lunch period, which was 45 minutes, so I would eat my lunch really fast and then practice. It didn't work. I wanted my break to socialize with the other teachers and relax. After two months of this, I finally quit. That was in 2000.

In 2009, my husband and I moved back to the area in which I attended high school. I knew some people from high school who were in orchestra then and asked for teacher recommendations. I found a teacher in my area, someone that I actually went to high school with. Now I am taking lessons.

Let me tell you, playing the violin is NOT like riding a bicycle. I have had to relearn everything.

How to hold the violin. How to hold the bow. Where to put my fingers on the strings. The list goes on and on. It is hard.

But it's so satisfying. I'm glad I decided to do it again. I've been missing it all these years.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I Was a Cheerleader

(This was my varsity squad my senior year. I am on the second row, second from the left)

Yes, I was. I was a cheerleader in 8th grade, 9th grade, 11th grade and 12th grade. I didn't do it in 10th grade because in 9th grade, when tryouts for 10th grade rolled around, our house was on the market and my dad was already living and working in another state. I knew we'd be moving and didn't think it'd be fair to make the squad and then bail. We moved in the exact middle of 10th grade, so I probably could have done it, since the big thing to cheer for in high school is football. We moved in February. When tryouts at my new school rolled around, I didn't hesitate to jump right in and go for it. I had complete confidence that I would make the squad, with my previous experience in cheerleading and my years of experience with gymnastics.

Today, I was flipping channels while working on an Easter dress for my daughter and a show came on where one of the main characters wants to be a cheerleader.

Let me put it this way--I cheered in two different schools in two different states. The way cheerleading is depicted on television and in movies is nothing like the real thing. So I wanted to clear a few things up.

First, there is a cheerleading adviser or coach. That person helps in choosing the members of the squad(s) and teaches the routines and is in charge of all things related to fundraising, uniforms, rules, etc. It is not run by the head cheerleader. She is usually voted for by the squad members. One squad I was on had two because there was an even vote. The other cheerleaders do not pick who gets on the squad.

Second, cheerleading tryouts are generally in front of a panel of impartial judges, usually brought in from the NCA (National Cheerleading Association) or the USA (United Spirit Association) in addition to the adviser or coach. Often, there is also a tryout in front of the student body and they vote for the top 12 or 15, or however many cheerleaders there are. The current cheerleaders might help choreograph the routine and even teach it, but that is their only role in it.

Third, cheerleading tryouts are held in the spring for the following school year. I can't even count how many shows depict tryouts as being at the beginning of the school year. This wouldn't happen. During the spring tryouts, there are alternates picked just in case someone moves or gets injured. Those girls get to step up in the fall if someone ends up leaving. Sometimes, nobody fills the open spot. On two of my squads, somebody left in the middle of the year for medical reasons and nobody took their place.

Fourth, cheerleaders aren't always airheads or snotty popular girls. Almost everyone on all four of my squads took honors and advanced placement classes and participated in other extra-curricular activities like band and other sports (diving, swimming, track, gymnastics). I myself attended college on an academic scholarship. As for the popularity thing, that probably varies from school to school. I had friends in band, orchestra, choir, and participated in National Junior Honor Society and Beta Club as well. So did many of the other cheerleaders.

So next time you see a movie depicting some weird last-minute cheerleading tryouts where there are no adults around and all the cheerleaders are snotty, popular girls who are airheads, remember, that is only a Hollywood stereotype and not at all the real thing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

What We Can Learn From Cinderella

There are many versions of the story of Cinderella out there. My daughter is currently fixated on the Disney animated version, and after watching it many, many times these last few weeks, I've gleaned some understanding of the character of Cinderella. In today's modern world, these older Disney princess movies are not applauded due to the old-fashioned idea of a young woman wanting love and marriage as her dream life. I've read many a blog post and forum post about how "my daughter isn't allowed to watch Disney princesses because then she will grow up thinking life is a fairy tale and a prince will someday come and rescue her." Instead we look to characters like Mulan and Belle and now Tiana, who have to do everything themselves without the help of a man. That's all fine and those other characteristics are good to emulate--courageous, selfless, hard-working. However, Cinderella also has characteristics that we can learn from.

In the story of Cinderella, we find a young woman who, through unfortunate circumstances (the deaths of both her parents), was left to live with a cruel stepmother and two stepsisters who hated her and treated her terribly. Yet Cinderella still finds joy in life and every day living. She goes about her duties and chores, probably many of them deplorable, in grace and poise, never complaining. She keeps a positive attitude and remains cheerful through it all.

I think it is for this reason, remaining so happy and cheerful through her circumstances, that her fairy godmother even comes. Do you think her fairy godmother would have come if she had lashed out at her wicked stepmother and stepsisters? Or if she spent every day during every chore griping and complaining about her situation? I doubt it.

We can learn that we need to live above our circumstances, live cheerfully despite whatever situation we are facing. I think that is a more powerful message than having her prince come and rescue her--that she lived so cheerfully and beautifully despite the wickedness that surrounded her.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Too Busy to Blog Hop

I love reading other people's blogs and leaving comments. But lately, not only have I been too busy to blog myself, I haven't really had time to read any other blogs. It's not so much that I don't have time, because I probably do, but I don't have the energy.

So if I haven't commented on your blog as of late, I'm sorry. I haven't even been reading them. I think it will perhaps get better when my oldest goes back to school. Right now he's off track.

But here's what we've been doing lately...

Last week when the weather was beautiful, we went to several different parks and played outside. The boys finished up their last couple weeks of community education classes (Spanish and art). We went to a Japanese habachi grill restaurant and tried the sushi--and that's saying a lot because I'm wary of trying anything strange or different. We had a fun game night with my cousins and their spouses--without the kids. We shopped for new mattresses and beds. We went to the dinosaur museum. We spent way too much money in groceries and other items. We hung out with friends. We baked and created fun things out of paper. We took the dog for walks. We played hide-and-seek in the house. We have just been busy.

I hope to return to blogging more soon, I just have to reorganize my life. It's too cluttered for clear thinking!

Friday, March 19, 2010


Yes, I've been MIA all week and here's why: I've been busy. My four kids, who are all home because the school-age one is off track, are keeping me busy. I don't even have time to write this. I do have a whole long list to write about on the blog, AND a whole long list of things we've done (and photographed even!) to blog about on my family blog. BUT, that will all have to wait because today I am baking brownies (three kinds) and pie for my extended family get-together tonight. Can't wait to see all the family that will be there, wishing everyone could be there--how fun would that be, another family reunion?

So hopefully you can catch me next week and I will have lots to tell you, assuming that next week will be less filled and busy than this one...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pets as Family Members

Last weekend we had a little scare with our dog--his stomach was completely distended. I did some research online and we called our vet. Of course it was a Sunday, so we couldn't just take him to our regular vet, which would have been far less costly. But after researching and talking to the vet, we decided that this could be serious and took him to the nearest veterinary hospital that had emergency services.

We've had our dog for nearly 8 years. We got him when he was just a six-week old puppy, when we had been married for about 11 months. We've had him longer than we've had children. He is very good with the kids and they love him. He's truly a part of our family.

When all this happened last week and my husband left with the dog to the veterinary hospital, I was freaked out that he had a serious complication and treatment would be out of the question--way too expensive--and we'd have to say our final goodbyes. I know this day will come sometime, but the thought of it happening last weekend was unbearable. I sat and cried after they left because I felt so sure that this was it.

Later though, my husband called with the good news that the problem was not serious at all. Rather than "bloat" (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus), which is the twisting of the stomach and intestines and what we thought it possibly was, instead he had just over-eaten and the food had not been digested and was filling up his stomach and colon, causing the distended appearance. The day before I had caught our 2-year-old getting into the pantry and feeding the dog little snippets of his food a few times. I guess she did it more than those few times for him to have eaten so much. I'm so glad it wasn't what we had suspected and that he is otherwise a perfectly healthy pooch.

But it made me think. I never had a pet growing up--my parents got their dog that they have now while I was in college. I never experienced losing a pet. I can imagine it could be quite as devastating as losing any family member. He may be a fairly silent part of our family, but he is here, he is loyal, he loves us. We will truly miss him when he's gone.

Have any of you lost a pet? What happened? What is the grieving process?

Friday, March 12, 2010

So Much For Putting Down Roots

Those of you who know me probably know how unhappy I have been and still am with my husband's choice of careers. Even more so now that they aren't going to give him what he wants and needs where we are currently living, a place we just moved to in October. They are expanding into another state within a year's time and because they aren't following through with promises here, we will probably go there. The thing is, I don't want to go there if the promises will remain broken. I'm tired of being told that if we do this, his career will be better because so far, in the last 5 years, we've really experienced nothing but lies. The fact of the matter is that he doesn't see that but I do. I see how the things we want keep being dangled in front of us and then when we reach up to grab it, it's yanked away.

Honestly, where we currently live, I'm not too thrilled about. I didn't really want to come here, but stepped aside to let my husband follow his career to new heights. I stopped fighting him on it and let him have his way. I left very good friends and family behind to come to a place where I knew people weren't going to be very friendly or nice or open to making friends with me. But I thought maybe it would be different than that and I should just do it and have a good attitude and go with the flow. And even though I've tried, it has been exactly how I thought it would be--miserable and lonely and like trying to break into a junior high school clique. Not to mention all the places I go that remind me of high school, when my hopes and dreams had my life leading an entirely different direction, so on a daily basis, I'm reminded of what I wanted for my life that I didn't get.

Yet the thought of moving again really makes me feel sick inside. I don't like this place but I don't want to move even further away from my family. Right now, it's a day's drive to any family. If we move again to the new place, it will be at least 2 days drive one way, and our finances being what they are, it will be unaffordable for us to ever see any family.

I'm quite upset at my husband's company for the situation we're in right now. I don't understand why they can't just promote him this time around, why they are standing in his way and not letting him when the people he works directly under say he's ready. That regional manager just doesn't seem to want to see my husband succeed and it's really starting to tick me off.

All I can say is this: we will not move again unless there is a promotion in the deal. No promotion, no move. That is what I said about this most recent move, but my husband talked me into it without the promotion. I certainly regret that now. I have very bitter, hard feelings toward my husband's company.

Of course, now that I think about it, I guess one more move, even further away, wouldn't make my life any worse. I already am completely isolated from most everyone and lonely to the core anyway. What's a few thousand miles more?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Not Done

Whenever I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my response was always the same: a wife and mother. It never changed throughout the years, even when societal pressures came into play as I got older. Being a mother, to me, also meant having many children, at least six, but closer to eight.

I didn't marry as young as I always figured I would. Not that I think marrying young is good, necessarily, but I think it varies from person to person. For some, it would be a horrible choice, for others, it would work out fine. But if you want to have a large family of six or more children, then marrying and having those children before a certain age is probably wise--otherwise you won't be able (physically) to have as many children AND you'll be raising kids when your peers are becoming grandparents.

I did eventually meet my husband after college and we married quickly. Sometimes I wonder about that marrying quickly decision, but that will be devoted to another post entirely. We didn't postpone having a family, but children did not come right away. It took a couple years. Because of that, I was almost 26 when I had my first child. Now I'm 32 going on 33 with four children, the youngest is a little over 2. I had wanted to be pregnant with #5 by now, but we can't seem to conceive this time around. Kind of like when we were first married and couldn't seem to do it. I don't know why, I've had four children, one after another, and everything worked fine once we had the first. But now, it just isn't happening.

I realize that I should just be grateful for the children I have--they are precious and wonderful and I love them so much. I also realize that in today's world, it is very difficult to raise many children--everything is so expensive even when you cut back to bare bones and people raise their eyebrows, even people in the Church, when I mention that we still want a few more. But I feel that time slipping away. If I got pregnant this month, I would be 33 by the time I had this baby, and I still want at least one more after that.

Every month that goes by where that pregnancy test comes back negative, the ache inside grows a little more. We haven't seen a doctor yet, I'm not sure enough time has gone by since we've been trying for #5 to warrant it, and honestly, would a doctor even help us? After all, we've already got four, why do we need another one? This is a hard issue for me to face because I feel very alone in it. Like I'm crazy for wanting another one. But I just can't help feel that our family isn't complete. You know that feeling, where everyone is gathered, yet it feels like someone isn't there? That's how I feel all the time, I always look around thinking, "who's not here?" but all of us are. I hope that in the coming months, I'll be able to announce that there will be another addition to our family, but this month turned out the same as the last eight or nine have--a negative pregnancy test.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Home School vs. Public School

It was only a matter of time before I tackled this touchy subject. I know there are people who have strong feelings on the matter, but please feel free to comment and share your opinions.

Why this is such a controversial issue, though, is beyond me. I guess it's because people have strong feelings about it. I personally feel strongly that my children will fare just fine in the public schools. I think they will have valuable experiences by attending public school in which they will learn important life lessons--such as learning to get along with many different personalities, realizing that it is not all about them, but that they are one of many, and even certain types of failures that come in a public school setting that will make them stronger.

There are also many good reasons to homeschool a child. Many parents don't want their children exposed to certain "gentile" beliefs and attitudes that abound so plentifully in the public schools. They don't want their children exposed to inappropriate ideas or actions nor do they want them to learn that something is acceptable when it really isn't. Some parents homeschool their children in an effort to challenge them more and keep them motivated to learn. Some simply want to spend more time together. Some homeschool because the public school programs weren't doing enough for their child--perhaps that child has special needs that weren't being met. Whatever the reason, the beautiful thing is that parents are entitled to have their children learn whichever way best suits them.

The only problem I have ever seen with homeschool is when the homeschooled pupil is behind his or her public school peers for certain grade level benchmarks. That is when clearly homeschooling isn't working either.

I don't necessarily believe that "it takes a village" and that's the reason I feel public schools are best for my children, but I do know from life experience that there are many topics I know nothing about that another teacher perhaps does and can generate interest for my child. For example, if a certain 3rd grade teacher my older brothers had hadn't been so fascinated with Germany, my brothers may not have ever gotten so interested in the country, culture and language themselves. Both of them eventually studied the language to fluency, spent time in Germany, and even got degrees in German, which probably wouldn't have happened had that teacher not generated the interest. Since neither of my parents speak German nor had visited the country then, there was no way for my parents to generate that interest. How different my brothers' lives would have been had my mom chosen to homeschool them instead of putting them in the public school.

It's merely a matter of preference and choice. I choose not to homeschool. I'm not saying there won't come a day, however, when homeschooling might become the better option. But I am going to do my best to contribute my time and effort into making the public schools better places first before falling back on homeschooling.

What do you think of homeschooling?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Holy Day

One of my ideals for my future when I was young was to have Sunday be the day it's always been. It's something I never really thought about back then, I just assumed and expected it to be a certain way. I was raised that Sunday is the Sabbath Day and that you keep it holy by using it as a day to rest and worship. You attend church and any meetings in relation to church. You spend time visiting with family. You read good books and have good discussions. You maybe work on a talent that is Sabbath appropriate--like drawing or writing or playing the violin. You maybe take a nap or cross stitch. The T.V. remains off. This is how Sundays were in my childhood home. I loved Sundays. They truly were a relief from the worldliness of the rest of the week.

These days, Sundays are a sore spot in our marriage. My husband chose a career in which he is asked to work 3 out of 4 Sundays. Fortunately, there is an evening shift that begins at 4 pm and goes until 2 am, so he is able to attend church meetings. Many times, though, he works that same shift on the Saturday night before, so he has a hard time getting up and staying awake through church. Then when he comes home, he sleeps until he has to leave for work again. I am left to manage the children entirely on my own every week. I get up, make breakfast, get them all ready for church, along with myself. I prepare our primary lesson (he was called to teach with me, but I do all the work) and make sure to have everything in order for it. When we get home, I prepare lunch and dinner.

Then I am also left trying to teach my children to keep the Sabbath Day holy. How am I supposed to do that when one very strong example they have is their dad going to work every Sunday? Especially when he told me once that he probably could get out of working on Sundays if he told his superiors that it was against his religious beliefs. He just won't because he doesn't think it's fair to the others for him to get off every Sunday and they still have to work. Except that if this were a Friday or Tuesday in question, he would be able to do it without a problem, like he did when he was in school full time and had to have certain days and times ALWAYS off for a whole semester. He didn't have any problem telling his boss that he could never work Tuesdays because he had class all day and night. How unfair of him to make everyone else work those Tuesdays!

It is a huge source of frustration and worry for me. I worry that my children will go inactive someday because they were not appropriately taught the seriousness of that commandment. My husband's family is an example of this--his father had the same career that he does and also worked Sundays throughout his life. Of his parents' five children, only one remains active, and that is my husband. One other doesn't go to church much but still lives the gospel as much as he can in his life. The other three are completely inactive, to the point where they have turned their back on what they've been taught, married out of the church and are doing other things that are contrary to the gospel. Sometimes I wonder if they'd had a better example of living the gospel and keeping the Sabbath day holy, which is where their inactivity started--skipping church to work, they would be more active today. Maybe not. You never know. But why take that chance as a parent?

So that is one of my big disappointments in life. I feel already that my children will lose their way because of how they are being raised, despite how hard I try to teach them better. After all, actions speak louder than words.

Monday, March 1, 2010

I Should Have Been a Ballroom Dancer...

Seriously, I could have been a good one, I think. I did take ballroom classes for a few semesters and even toyed with the idea of trying out for the team, but my ambition to get through school fast (and on someone else's bill--full academic scholarship for four years) prevented me from even trying.

If not ballroom, perhaps Olympic gymnastics. Okay, maybe not the Olympics, but perhaps collegiate would have been fun. I sure do miss having such grace and control of my body that I did back then. I did gymnastics from the age of 4 through the age of 16 and had to quit because of a state-to-state move and the fact that my parents just couldn't afford it anymore (what with trying to raise 5 other kids who needed things!).

I have too many unfulfilled dreams and underdeveloped talents and now that I'm starting to get age lines and a bad back and have found myself with the inability to go up and down stairs without tripping, I sure do miss my younger self and all the future dreams I had that could have been. Now those are over and I can't go back and do those again. Sure, I can learn ballroom dance, but I can't be on a competitive team like at BYU. Sure, I could probably coach beginner and intermediate level gymnastics, but that's not the same as doing it.

I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that our bodies just age and even if I had participated in competitive ballroom or went really far with gymnastics, at some point my body would have told me to stop anyway. It's just going through life knowing that I never got the chance to try that kills me. I guess.


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