Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Three Brothers

A fitting title for my currently Children's Literature-filled life. "The Three...." always seems to work as a title (You know, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, The Three Little pigs, etc....). I probably do say "Once upon a time...." at least five times a day.


"Once upon a time, there was a little girl with three big brothers.....

....There were very few places that she felt happier, safer, or more loved than when she was surrounded by these three big brothers.

The end."

I think that first picture clearly shows that my four-year-old-self is thinking..."Wow. I'm really lucky. Just look, I have three big brothers holding me."

So many pieces of who I am and what I value have been acquired through years of watching and listening to them. They have, in ways that I'm sure I don't even recognize, shaped understanding of family, of love, of friendship, trust, parenthood, faith. In unique ways, they each continue to challenge and sharpen my understanding of who I am, how I perceive and think about the world, and how I know and love my Creator.

Different seasons of my life have particular memories of times spent with each one of them.
Even though Andy moved out of our house when I was in second grade, I always felt that we had a lot in common. I think he must have been a pretty generous high-schooler to make me think that we had so many 'shared interests'. He came home from college and took me on dates. He asked about my friends and listened, he challenged me to dream and to think beyond my small, comfortable world. And he still does. He is one of those people that, though he is intimidatingly brilliant, accomplished, creative...his presence and his conversation never make you feel less valid or articulate. Somehow his loving way of listening and affirming makes you feel smarter and better, energized and inspired. I really miss you, Andy. The long stretches between summer visits and winter holidays are too long.

Some of the only times in my life that I've felt physically strong, athletic, fast, were the hours I spent practicing basketball in our driveway, learning to dribble and shoot with David, or attempting to copy his jump-rope routine to become a higher jumper. I fondly remember sitting in his classroom as a high-schooler, feeling proud, happy, and actually challenged to think (too often a rarity in high school); and in more recent years...I smile when I think about running back and forth between our houses to borrow a vaccuum, an egg, a spare key, a lawn mower, dinner, to share cookies, to use a shower, to return a run-away dog, to ask a question. He always seems to be close when I'm locked out of my house, my car won't start, or I've run out of gas. David has rescued me a lot. Only, it was way easier when we were neighbors. I do miss Forest Hills.

Daniel and I were siblings together (at home) the longest. Since he could drive and I couldn't, we spent a lot of time in the car together. Back and forth to church, school, home. We talked a lot, and listened to a lot of music. Once on our way to church, we witnessed an accident together. An awful, nauseating, unforgettable car-hitting-a-little-girl-with-her-bike accident. She was okay. But we weren't for a while.

When we were littler, we spent hours together at the cabin. Mostly because I wouldn't stop following him around as he built forts in the woods. I was 'in his army.'
I guess, maybe I still am. Probably not. He's threatened to fire me about a thousand times. Being in his army was really cool because.... I got to hold nails for him, and go get water for him, and hand him tools, and listen to him talk about how great his next idea was going to be...
No, really.... it WAS really cool. Because I got to be with him. And I always got to be part of his 'next great idea.'

One Christmas break, when I was in college, I stayed with him on the way home from school. We decided to go play our instruments in the mall to earn some cash. It turned out to be illegal. Regardless of the fact that our music delighted countless children, parents, grandparents, made people smile, sing, laugh, and cry; some insecure and self-important Mall Security guy came and felt it was his duty to escort us out. Even though we were leaving, he wanted to 'write us up' or something. Since I didn't have an i.d. on me, he told us he'd have to take me 'in.' Daniel just laughed as he said "um, you're not going to take my little sister anywhere" and told me to get in the car. We ended up playing outside a little bookstore (with permission) on the UofM campus. It was really cold. And unforgettably fun. Lucrative too, if I remember correctly.

Then, several years later, we became really really good friends again. As adults. And we turned out to be even more alike than we ever knew before. He gave Ryan and I a bunch of new friends when we moved back to MI, who are now some of our best friends. He invited us to be part of a church that revived my love of The Church.
In recent years, some of the most decadent time I've had with him have been hours spent in a cedar lined, warm studio making music together, drinking too much coffee, eating apple slices and whole wheat english muffins with natural peanut butter, and solving all the problems of the world. (I almost bought a cello this weekend, brother. I really do want to record again soon.)

And today, he's old. We share our birthday month. (September might be the best month, I'm beginning to think.) And I am grateful beyond words (though I have seemingly been able to be rather verbose) to have him as my big brother.

I love you.
Happy Birthday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Check. Check.


...we enjoyed Chicken Tiki Masala for dinner.

I love completed list items.

Another nap-time has begun.
Now on to the messy house, ironing, ...and boxes of books.

Or maybe pumpkin pie??

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What to do with nap time... always one of my decisions of the day (on the days I am at home).

Some days, I end up cuddling, soothing, playing with one of the girls when the big afternoon nap doesn't align quite as I'd imagined. But alone time with Sophie, or occasionally Maya is precious too.

Today though, I'm really hoping to accomplish something 'practical.' A list item to be crossed off.

But what will it be....

...a pumpkin pie?
....Chicken Tiki Masala for dinner?
...a 2nd coat of paint in the red bathroom (now a year overdue)?
...the mountain of shirts needing to be ironed?
...organizing books in the basement to be donated?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today felt good.

It was one of those days that was filled with moments of certainty... that what I'm doing is right. That I will survive, even grow, accomplish something...amidst the blurr and chaos that I sometimes feel exhausted by.

Today, all the daily things...the mundane tasks (dressing girls, changing diapers, washing dishes, making coffee, packing lunches, pushing my teaching cart, tuning violins, taking attendance, focusing students, starting dinner, cleaning dinner, washing dishes, changing diapers, clearing clutter), ...didn't feel quite as futile as they sometimes can.

Despite finding out 1 minute before my first class started that because of a funeral, I wouldn't have a classroom or a piano for my choir and despite having a second grader leave music class with a slightly bloody, fat a result of a new 'circle game' we tried (something like duck-duck-goose), my students seemed brilliant, charming, surprising, attentive (mostly) and sweet.

Most days, at least once, I find myself grumbling inwardly (or outwardly) about the piles of laundry that get cleared...for about an hour before piling up again; about the dishes that seem so sparkling clean and neatly stacked until the next meal time; or the crumb covered, yogurt smeared floor that sometimes gets swept 3 times a day or more and still looks messy.

Sometimes the joy, the gratitude that I have for my rich life gets clouded so easily, so quickly.
But today it was inexplicably easy to just enjoy the smiles, the silly laughter, the squeals to be chased, the focused and earnest but (honestly quite awful sounding) ensemble playing in strings today, the middle schoolers who 'wrote' and performed a five part improvisational round-song, the husband who entertained us all with "YOU MUST PAY THE RENT...." over our chile dinner, and who swept the corn bread crumbs and vacuumed the living room and the steps.

No particularly obvious reason for this day of clarity, contentment, and balance. But I'll take it.

And I'll try to remember it, because...

...tomorrow will probably be different. Things do fall apart.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

"Read a Island story!!"

...after a non-verbal look of correction from Mom: (in a sugary sweet voice) "T(c)ould you peas read a Island story??"

"Once there were two girls. One morning they woke up in their bunk beds to hear the sound of a crackling fire and a rocking chair. They were so excited when they remembered that they were at the cabin. The smell of coffee floated into their room, and they knew that Bampa was up, reading in the rocking chair. They tried to plan their adventures for the day...a canoe trip? a walk in the forest? building a fort? a trip to the library?..."

...The two girls always end up on an island. Rock Island. They are usually with lots of cousins. And they often encounter some ducks, swans, deer, or maybe even Charlie Chipmunk or Sammy Squirrel. They get very tired as they travel back to the cabin. Bampa reads them a story and tucks them into their very special bunk beds (where Momma used to sleep when she was a little girl).

I think everyone in this house is missing the cabin.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"Is it cold yet?"

Ryan keeps asking me this every morning.

I could hold on to summer forever...almost. I love the warm sun, warm wind, leaves on the trees, everything is green, the happy illusion of freedom, the beach, the cabin, summer.

But fall is coming. And I think I'm happy about that too.

School has begun. And even in the first day, there were many moments of musical delight. ..those beautiful sounds and happy faces filled with pride and awe that make me remember that what I do is really really fun.


I love the gentle singing and cooing I hear in the baby monitor and the imaginative chatter from across the breakfast table better than all the sweet voices I heard yesterday.

I think I'm going to love my abbreviated schedule.