(this is a long one, folks...scooch on over to previous posts if you need something short and sweet and full of Natalie pics!)
With show choir camp OVER (hooray!) I can finally get back to my life. I enjoyed the camp a lot, but I missed being home with my baby girl. I was sort of cranky today and yesterday and I'm pretty sure it's because I feel like I haven't been a "mom" this week. And those pesky hormones...
During the camp there was a lot of time where they didn't need the piano, so I read and had a lot of time to reflect. Some of my thoughts:
1. The kids in our show choir group were FANTASTIC. I figured I was going to be dealing with snotty princesses who freak out if they don't get the solo or the front dance spot or that there would be obnoxious cliques and clumps of friends, but they far exceeded my expectations. Super friendly, mature, happy teenagers...it gives me hope for the future of my children.
2. I played for my friend's wedding last night and it was a BEAUTIFUL occasion. Such a classy, wonderful celebration of two great people coming together. It's lovely to see another young couple so in love and committed to marriage. It makes me want to be a better wife in my own marriage. Something the pastor said that struck me: God is many times more committed to making your relationship work than either of you could ever be. At first I was sort of offended because it made it sound like we as humans aren't able to be very committed to a relationship, but of course it just means that our Heavenly Father wants to help us be the best spouses and people we can be because he understands that true happiness lies in the success of those eternal relationships, and that He will always lift us up instead of acting petty and selfish and unkind like we all do in our relationships sometimes. It reminded me to always make sure I am building up my marriage instead of becoming complacent.
3. I got many compliments on my prelude music for the wedding from guests and friends, and it cemented something that I've been thinking for a while: I can't lose what I've worked so hard for my whole life! I can't stop playing the piano, I can't give up the technique that my fingers take for granted after 18 years of playing, I can't forget what it's like to practice and perform, and I can't allow myself to lose that talent. I hope I'm not coming off as prideful or bragging, but the ability to play the piano is a gift I have been blessed with and fostered, and it would be such a waste to lose that now! It scares me to think of a time when I couldn't play as well. I love doing things like this show choir camp and Les Mis and accompanying for lessons because it makes me feel like I'm using my hard work over the years (and my degree!), but I think it's important to practice the difficult repertoire as well. One of my favorite pieces of all time is Liszt's Liebestraume, Nocturne No. 3, and I am going to relearn and perform it, if only for myself.
4. Being a mom is easily the most fulfilling job in the world. I've been gone for most of the day for the past six days, and two nights in a row I missed Natalie's bedtime...I have been feeling unsatisfied and off, and I didn't realize what it was until I calculated how much time I've been away from my sweet girl. Nothing is more important than being a parent - it is such a privilege and blessing to be Natalie's mom. I'm so grateful that I don't have a regular job or work schedule, I'm grateful that I have a skill that allows me to make money here and there doing short gigs, and I'm grateful that I feel like I belong at home with my daughter. I know a lot of women struggle with the idea that their husbands are the "money-makers" while they are "stuck" at home all day with the kids...I am so grateful my husband has a good job and supports our family so that I get to be home all day. I overheard a conversation one time at a formal event where people were sort of puffing themselves up and making themselves seem important; one man was describing how high-up his wife was at her office and then asked what his colleague's wife did for a living. Without missing a beat, this gentleman replied: "My wife stays home and raises our family." He made it sound like such an important responsibility that his wife was willing to take on and was succeeding at, and I loved how he phrased it as if that were her "job" instead of sloughing it off as "oh, she doesn't work, she's home with the kids."
5. One of our local church leaders recently suggested that we spend 30 minutes every single day reading the Book of Mormon, and I felt inspired to try it. I always read my scriptures, but definitely not for half an hour. I have been doing it for over a week now and there hasn't been any monumental, lightning-strike moment or anything, but thinking back I have definitely been more perceptive to the Spirit. I feel like I halt before I say or do something unkind or thoughtless because something prods me to be better than that; I have felt more patient overall and more in love with my sweetheart, and I feel like I am more impervious to negative influences or feelings. I change the radio because I realize a song I thought was catchy had an inappropriate message, I get up with Natalie in the morning cheerfully and let Austin sleep for a few more minutes instead of being lazy and hoping he'll do it. I feel compelled to be a better person and not give in to temptations, and my testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the gospel overall grows every day. I would highly recommend taking 30 minutes out of your day to read this book and enjoy the spirit that washes over you and permeates your whole day. I feel cleansed and renewed, and it's only been a week.
6. Since Natalie was four months old she's always slept with a white noise track in the background ("strong hair dryer") both for naps and during the night. Austin and I thought it would be annoying at first, but we got totally used to it and actually felt comforted by the noise. It was great because it covered up our household noises and we didn't have to worry about being silent during her naps, and it was a sleep cue for her so that she knew it was time to sleep when we turned it on. A couple days ago, my ipod dock decided to stop working (we're suspicious that a certain 10-month-old might have had something to do with that during play time) and now we are white-noise-less! We sort of had a freak out and discussed different options (playing it over the ipad, phone, computer, or just buying a new one) and decided that we might as well see how it would go without the noise...turns out, Natalie is old enough now and a pro at sleeping so she wasn't even fazed. What do you know? I think Austin and I miss it more than she does actually. Further proof that babies are always changing and developing...one month you need white noise, the next you don't!
7. We are starting our next family vacation tomorrow, this time with the Poulsens! I'm sure I will have much to report upon our return. I promise a blog with pictures and fun instead of Jessie's ramblings next time!