Friday, April 8, 2011


So lately I've been working of a few new projects. I've come to the realization that I have to be doing something. I have so many plans in my head that I dream about, I have a few in the garage ready to be taken on and there are also a couple in progress on most days. I'm not sure what percentage of my ideas get realized, but that's okay. At least my mind is still working and I'm not drooling in my soup (yet). I do get a bit distracted, I will say. For instance, while working on a kid table, I was also scheming up an extensively intricate play set for the kids outside... and less than a week later my thoughts had turned to rearranging the kids' rooms and building a loft bunk bed with a slide and playhouse underneath. Usually I draw up the plans and hand them to Jared to go build. Sometimes he just laughs at me, but sometimes our (okay, my) dreams come to fruition.

I do need to mention that I've been quite delayed in some of my projects due to the garage project that has been in the works for almost a year. I'm not sure why, but a lot of our projects last about a year (which is why we were a one bathroom family for so long). One day last year when I was approximately 8 months pregnant I got the hankering to, you know, get up on a ladder in the hot garage every day for a week and singlehandedly scrape the popcorn ceiling off (in my defense, it was falling of in some spots). After that we had a baby and things were stalled. Jared's dad helped us put up a nice, new textured ceiling, but the ceiling still needed to be painted, as well as the walls and floor. Every time I talked about doing this to my garage people just looked at me weird because, "It's just a garage." Yeah, I know. But I spend a lot of time in there and it really needed to be organized and the floor was really gross and the walls were half white and half powder blue (like that when we moved here). It took me for-ev-er to do the painting and organizing. And since there was so much stuff in there I had to move everything around every time I wanted to paint something new. The floor was done in three phases. But now that it is done, it looks fabulous. I take that back, I still have to do the trim and paint two doors, but other than that--fabulous.

I wish I had a before picture, but by the same token, it was so bad I didn't want to document it. FYI: no after pictures yet either due to a lost camera charger and there being a project in progress right now. Here's what is in our garage, and keep in mind, it is a one car garage and we live in Florida with no storage and no basement. A freezer, a table saw, a tool bench (yet to be finished), a 55 gallon water jug, 2 large propane tanks and 1 really large propane tank, all our camping supplies, our recycling, our vacuum, carpet cleaner, all my painting supplies and paint, in between clothes and shoes, holiday stuff, baby stuff, swimming stuff, sports stuff, spare wood, 3 kid bikes, 2 scooters, a single stroller, a double stroller, more tools, a ladder, winter clothes, some toys the kids aren't currently playing with, a couple of extra car seats and other various miscellaneous (but seemingly necessary) items--that are all now labeled and put in a spot. Yeah, so even though it's nice and painted and organized, there's still a lot of stuff in there. That's why I wanted it to be nice. Before it was just scary, not quite an episode of hoarders, but on the verge. You'd almost hear that music of doom every time you went out there. And forget trying to find something you needed. Now, after a year, this place is way better. The kids even ask to play in the garage and I let them. Anyway, because of everything I mentioned, Jared has limited me to two projects in the garage at a time. I'll be frank though, it's been tough limiting it to just two (remember how distracted I get?). But I think in all honesty, he's right. I do need a little reigning in.

I began refinishing some dining room chairs this week. I guess about a month ago I went to Habitat for Humanity and found a great new dining room table for $100. While I was waiting for someone to help me get it, the lady at the front of the store yelled, "Everything out front is now selling for a dollar!" Immediately the entire store of crazed shoppers swarmed out the front door, including me, to see what they could get their paws on. That's when I saw 5 matching dining chairs and one other really cool chair that I quickly claimed for 6 buckaroos. The next trick was trying to get them into my car without some other crazy taking them from me. That lady with the $1 couch was really eying my goods. Way worse than Black Friday! Seriously, she kept telling me how awesome that one chair of mine was. "Yeah I know, that's why I bought it," is what I told her. I managed to get a table that seats 8 and six chairs in the minivan despite what the guy loading me up kept trying to tell me. I may have had four car seats in the car, but I had no kids with me and it was going to work, dang it! The table is a little scratched up (partly due to the guy loading and partly because I got it at Habitat for Humanity). But the difference between this table and a new one is about 2 weeks in my house. We like to go for the "lived in" look. It's bigger and more my style than the old one we had.

Anyway, so that's what I've been spending some of my spare time doing and I think the chairs are looking good (I'll post pics when I'm done). Another things I've been doing in my spare time is practicing piano. I started taking piano lessons a few weeks ago and I am loving it! This is something I've been wanting to do for a long time. It's a little tricky to work out babysitting every week. If I leave Alex and Marissa somewhere with their friends it's considered a play date; but if I leave Connor, it's more like babysitting. Hence, I feel guilty for dumping my kids on people. I always do. But, Connor is almost completely weened (wohoo!) and I truly feel like it is worth it and that this is the right time for me to be doing this.

Some people that know certain parts of my background assume I know how to play the piano and other people assume I don't. The truth is that I am somewhere in between. I have played the flute since I was 10, took AP Music Theory in high school and ended up getting a bachelor's degree in music at BYU. So you would think I should know how to play the piano. I even took four semesters of keyboard harmony (mostly just played chord progressions though). So yeah, I know music. That's the frustrating part. I know the notes, the keys, time signatures, dynamics, rhythm, composers. I do okay with sight singing and dictation and I love music theory. Love it. You give me a piece of music and I would love to analyze the heck out of it: tonic, sub-dominant, non-harmonic tones, inversions, voice-crossing, half cadences, modulations, diminished seventh chords--yeah, I really like it. So I can look at piano music and tell you how it is supposed to sound, but I have a really hard time playing it. I've been playing one note at a time on the flute for so long that I think it's really hard for my brain to process more than one line at a time.

I took piano lessons for a few years as a kid, but I never practiced. My mom would push me in the teacher's house and shut the door on my back just so I'd stay at my lesson. I never wanted to face my teacher when I knew I hadn't practiced. I remember sitting down at the piano at various times in my youth and I would play the few songs I knew, but I never really got better. After I graduated from BYU and was teaching flute lessons at a music school in Utah, I began taking lessons from one of my adult students who a piano teacher at the school. So it was a swap; free lessons for about a year. I loved it and practiced as much as I could. I was finally wrapping my brain around the piano and learned how to play scales with the right fingers, instead of just analyze them. I think I even did a recital. But then I moved to Florida, started Architecture school and now feel like I am back where I started: a right hand pianist who knows a handful of hymns and not much else. (No regrets about the Florida or the architecture, but it really is time to learn the piano.)

Every time there isn't a pianist in church or someone is needed to fill in to play, I wish deep in my soul that I could just sit down and play. So that is my goal, to be able to be qualified to have a Relief Society or Primary pianist calling. It kind of bothers me when people can play and get so annoyed that they always have to. I will not be that way. I really really wish I could. Oh, and not get so nervous. Even though I can play things at home, I get really nervous playing in church. It may not seem like it for some people, but for me this is a lofty goal. I don't anticipate it happening any time soon, but at least I'm starting.

The teacher I have is awesome. She moved into our stake about a year ago and has been playing for the stake choir. A while back I was playing my flute with her and the choir and casually asked if she taught piano. Turns out she has taught for over 20 years. She is truly a bright spot in my week. She is so encouraging and sunshiny, not that I need more actual sunshine here, but mentally, she is just what I need. Since I told her my lofty goal, she is assigning me one or two hymns and primary songs each week. And she even leads them and sings along so I can practice not stopping or getting so nervous. Now that's a good teacher. I've been doing some scales, chords, finger exercises and other classic pieces. Sometimes it's hard and frustrating, but most of the time I love sitting down and playing every day. It relaxes me and brings me joy and fulfillment. It distracts me from the pressures of having four little ones and the mess that accumulates daily. It fills our home with good music and gets our kids excited about playing too. Another funny thing is that Jared started practicing the same pieces that I've been assigned (although I think he's always been better at piano than me). Hey, we're getting two for the price of one.


Sarah D. said...

YAY for piano!! I can't wait to see pictures of the garage, table and chairs.
Glad you got a new dishwasher too :)

Love you and miss you!!

steveandemilee said...

Laura! Did you write this post or me? Seriously, everything you wrote in it sounds like something I'm doing (or trying to do). Bought a $10 coffee table off craigslist--taking forever to refinish it! Have so many plant projects and plans...can't keep up! Wish, wish with all my heart I could play the piano better than a right-hand hymn book melody! I am so, so envious that right when I move out of the ward, an awesome teacher moves in! But I will send all my good vibes and excitement for music lessons to you. I love that you are so involved in things that you enjoy and are excited about.

HeatherWasHere said...

I'm so excited for you. I know you've wanted to do that for a long time. I took piano as an adult for about a year, then had a baby and it stopped, but it is one of my goals (as well as flute) when my chicks fly the coop for kinder. Way to go Laura. :) Keep it up.