Thursday, May 29, 2008

Be back soon

I'm headed back to Ann Arbor tomorrow through Monday to visit with my Aunt and Uncle.  I may not have a chance to post while I'm gone, but I'll tell you all about it when I get back!  I'm excited about seeing my advisor again and talking to her about my new job...and possibilities for the future.  It will be great to take Mdx back to the place where she was concieved!!......okay, probably a little TMI for the masses, but everyone else knows where we made the babe!  I really like Ann Arbor, it's a place I could see myself long-term if it was ever possible with jobs/cost of living, etc.

Oh- and LOST is the best TV show ever!  Lost is #1, then Sex and the City, and then I don't know what.  There really haven't been that many shows that have made me become a loyal watcher every week, where I talk about the show, look up behind-the-scenes info online, and generally become obsessed.  But the genius of the LOST series caught me from the first episode, and SATC appeals to the "girlie" me that doesn't always get a lot of attention.  :)   Okay, happy watching!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

It seems kind of strange to wish someone a "Happy" Memorial Day, doesn't it?  Memorial Day=when we take the time to remember and honor the people who died while serving their country in the military.  It honestly never occurred to me that Memorial Day is not the happy holiday that most Americans think it is.  Especially when I was a teacher- Memorial Day meant a day off from work, and the end of the school year was coming soon!  I certainly know better now.

I've learned a lot and changed a lot over the past few years.  One major thing that changed about me was that I became a military wife.  It is so hard to describe what that means to someone who really has no clue, and I even hesitate now just because I cannot ever do it justice.  No matter what I say about being a military family it can be construed many different ways by people's own opinions, biases, etc.  I'll try all the same.

It means:
The Air Force comes first, no matter what.
Held to a higher standard, and expectation-wives and children included
Job security (for some!)
We go where they send us...there is no "I don't want to move to North Dakota!"
Hearing fighter jets above my house at 7am almost every morning
Health insurance for our whole family
Hubby looks DAMN good in his uniform
Working more than 40 hrs a week- there is no overtime
Deployment can happen at any time to anywhere
The evening news hits a little more close to home
I'm just thankful he's not in the Army or Marines- don't get me started
A year doesn't even seem that long anymore
I can do it by myself if I have to
Being disliked and judged by people who don't even know you
We live in a relatively "safe" neighborhood
Sometimes feeling unappreciated and underpaid!
Getting to go through the Military/Diplomat passport line in the airport

I'll stop there.  Whatever people's reason for joining the military- GI Bill, family tradition, hoping for a career, wanting to serve their country, college wasn't an option and parents kicked them out (yes, I've heard that one!), 9-11 inspired them, etc.....I have discovered that we all have so many more commonalities than we do differences.  I admit- the stereotypical military wife to me was 18, uneducated, pregnant, lived her life for her husband, and Republican.  BOY was I wrong.  Well, maybe not about the Republican part.  Haha!  Just kidding.  The fact is- I was wrong.  I've learned, I have changed.

Memorial Day will always stand as a reminder to me now that one day I could be met at the door by two men in Dress Blues who have come to tell me that the person I love so dearly and who I chose to be my partner in gone.  That the man who sings Meatloaf off-key on car trips and loves our daughter so much- would never sing to us, or hold her again.  Regardless of how you feel about the President, the war, the coming election, or the military...please take a moment to remember those who have died, their poor families left behind...and that it could be us one day.

This is a very touching slideshow documenting the work of a Marine Corps officer whose job it was to notify families of their service member's death.  The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist was interviewed on NPR today, which led me to this.  This is what Memorial Day is all about.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

What goes up...must come down

So- YES she can stand up, but boy can she ever FALL DOWN!  As long as Mdx doesn't hit anything on her way to the floor she's fine, it is just when the darn coffee table reaches out and smacks her that she gets a little peeved.  In this pic she is showing you the new bruise next to her eye (and telling me to put the camera down and pick her up!)

At a happier time, here's a pic of Maddox and Macy hanging out.  Macy's such a good girl, she leaves the baby toys alone!
Among the great Mother's Day gifts I was given for my very first Mother's Day- was this awesome Clothespin Holder that my sister made.  She's so darn CRAFTY!!  :)  I love it!  Sorry- you have to turn your head, because I can't figure out how to turn the picture.

I encourage you to check out Em's blog about my uncle Andy.   He was a musician, singer and songwriter and passed away from lung cancer 2 summers ago.  The Greensboro, NC paper has a great article along with a link to a music video on their website- check it out!  Andy's Last Song
It's a very nice article and there is a link to a music video of the song "Dillard Street" that has some pictures from Andy's life, and from our family.  One of my favorites is one of him playing guitar with my grandfather playing fiddle.  :)  Wonder where I got it? 

 The actual song is very long, and you can listen to it on The Near Myths website.  There is also a fabulous explanation of the lyrics, verse by verse that really give you a window into Andy's life.   It really got me wondering.  How in the world can you sum up someone's life in a song?  Writing a song is hard enough, many times there are separate people writing the words and the music.  So when someone can do both I think it is extraordinary.  I also hope that my life will be as full as Andy's was- filled with music, adventures, fun, family, and love.  Maybe someday my life will be song-worthy.  As much as I love going to that website and hearing Andy's voice again....I hate it.  I hate the fact that it is the only way I can hear his voice again- and it's a voice ravaged by cancer and barely hanging on.  It's just so sad.

Recently life has been one of extremes.  Things are either really good, or really bad- no in between.  We are either standing up or falling down.  One of my childhood friends just had her first baby and right after hearing that joyful news we found out that Em had to put her dog to sleep.  Gas prices just keep rising- but our income doesn't.  As a full-time Mom (who doesn't add to the family income) I feel a strange kind of guilt every time I go and fill up the car, or if I decide to drive somewhere that is more than 10 minutes away.  But I can't just sit in this house and rot!  If gas was cheaper I'd probably spend this whole summer traveling and visiting family (who ALL want us to come visit, but I can pretty much guarantee that ALL of them make more money than us, and can afford to travel more than we can, and by the way it's easier for them to travel without a baby right??- okay- off soapbox)  and friends.  I have a whole list of places I would go- Michigan (I'm going there anyway, just flying), Ohio, Georgia, D.C., South Carolina, the mountains, etc).  But as it is I actually think twice before a quick trip to the I REALLY need onions for this recipe or not?  Hmmmm.  Frustrating.

Oh yes- and about the "Economic Stimulus Package" that was deposited into our account last week.  We'll be banking that money to pay for gas and groceries, thank you very much President Bush.  Our economic situation has not improved one iota since we got an extra 900 dollars.  What a joke.  In fact, I find it NOT very amusing that my husband is serving his country in the military- right now working the night shift, everyone's favorite- but makes so LITTLE money that we qualify for food stamps.  Since our tax liability was so low, we actually got the minimum payment from the economic stimulus .  While I understand that we did pay LESS taxes than people who make more money....we are already poorer than them, and now we get less stimulus.  Makes total sense right?

I really should hold my tongue.  It was 900 dollars we didn't have before.  We are managing just fine, we do NOT collect the food stamps we qualify for, and we have a nice house (military housing) and a comfortable life.  We still have groceries, clothes to wear, health insurance, a savings account, and cars to drive, so we are just fine.  When I return to work, even though it is half-time....we are going to feel so rich!  

It has made me realize and appreciate how much my sister and I got to have, and DO when we were kids.  My parents made sure we had bikes, toys, pets, friends, and books.  They made sure we saw our extended family enough to know and love them.  We took family vacations to the beach and Disney World.  They made sure we got to go swimming year-round and went to multiple summer camps.  We had music lessons when we wanted it, and tutoring when we needed it.  I honestly worry that we we won't be able to provide those things for Mdx, and I guess that's what gets me so riled up about it all.  :(

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

I guess we'll just skip crawling then

Here's our chunky-monkey playing on the couch:

One-handed?  Really? By the way- that music-table-toy-thingie was one of my spectacular yard-sale finds last weekend!

She's even better with shoes on!
I guess we better get on that baby-proofing stuff huh?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Guess who's back?

The obnoxious Eminem song is running through my head......

Yesterday I played a wedding up at the Williamsburg Winery with a quartet called "Grace Notes".  I got the gig from a woman I met at a Lutheran church that I've attended a few times- their normal violinist couldn't make it.  It was SUCH a wonderful feeling to finally be out there again, playing the violin and earning money for it!!  I really did not play much at all while I was in Michigan because they wanted Graduate Ed majors to focus on their secondary- so my first semester I took cello lessons, and then second semester I took piano.  I played violin in the Macomb Symphony first semester, but then decided that it was too far to drive (1 hour 15 min. each way!) just to play with an orchestra.  The University Orchestra rehearsed in the evenings during our grad Ed courses- so that wasn't an option.

Anyways, once I was done at Michigan I was back in NC preparing to have a baby and didn't have many opportunities to play.  Then we moved here to VA- still not much of a chance.  But now- it seems that I've made a few connections that will help me get the jobs- at least a few each year.  The more I play, the more I'll get- that's just how it works.  And now that I'm on the list with a local quartet, and they know I actually CAN play...that's the hardest part.  Breaking in, in a new place.

It's very easy to get caught up in the mothering and the wife-ing if that makes any sense.  Weeks would pass and my violin would still be sitting there where I left it last time- and the sad part was....I didn't miss it that much.  I always knew it was there if I wanted to pick it up- and I never felt like my "chops" were going away.  But I definitely had to run through the folder full of wedding music, whereas in the past I would have glanced at it to see if there were any wacky parts, and then mostly sight-read the music.  I'm glad I DID look at the music because for some crazy reason the Bride decided to walk down the aisle to Beethoven's "Pathetique" Sonata- which is in 4 flats!!!!  SERIOUSLY!  If you aren't familiar with it, just "google" the title and you'll find multiple websites where you can listen to it.  I think she must have confused it with something else, because that song SO does not say "bride walking down the aisle" to me- but request it, I play it, you pay me....DEAL!  But 4 flats are NOT the ideal playing situation for a string quartet- you are taking 3 of our 4 open strings and making them flat- meaning we have to play a 4th finger instead of the optional open string.  It may not sound like a big deal, but sucks.  Fingering patterns adjusted, a little more extra thought.....I think 4 flats should cost EXTRA MONEY!  Hahaha!

I also got a job for next school year!!  I don't want to post all the juicy details right now, except to say that I am VERY happy, and it seems like an ideal situation for me!  I wanted to go back to teaching, but was torn because I really don't want to put Mdx in daycare.  I simply do not trust daycares.  I feel like "we" decided to have a child and it is "our" responsibility to parent and raise her.  So- the new job is 1/2 time, which with Marshall's work schedule will allow the baby to be with one of her parents for most of the time!  Fabulous!  I'll be teaching Orchestra- which is what I feel called to teach (as opposed to general music).  Everything is working out.  I had decided that I would apply for jobs, but that if the "right" thing didn't come along, I wouldn't take the job. We are blessed that I don't *have to* work for our family to make it.  I am NOT going to put Mdx in daycare unless I feel like I've found something good.  And I really feel like I have.  Trust me, if the job or the school or the schedule seemed a little wacky to me, I would have peaced out in a heartbeat.  We will see if my instincts were right!

So- once I get my schedule figured out, and a few more details, I'll tell you all about the very special school where I'll be working.  But I wanted to spread the word.....I'm Ba--aa--aack!!