Summer: Bees, Mussorgsky, & Other Musings

It’s summer. Beautiful, sunny, adventuresome summer, when all is vibrant and blooming and vacations beckon (for the lucky few). And most people think of summer like this:

 

palm tree pool

Or this:

IMG_8605-1024x767

But say what you will about the glories and joys of summer, outside there are still bees. And- possessing a unique terror all their own- wasps. (I’m not including pictures because they are DISGUSTING.) Tiny winged devils flying about like that scene in Fantasia (the OLD school Fantasia). Incidentally, why in the name of childhood was that scene included in a movie for CHILDREN when it is clearly so terrifying?! Come on, Disney…
I’d like to add that composing something specifically inspired by a witches’ sabbath probably merits a whole different discussion. Suffice it to say that, while certain others of Mussorgsky’s compositions (i.e. Pictures at an Exhibition, Dawn on the Moskva River, etc.) captivate and delight, this one makes me want to shake my head and brandish an index finger at Mussorgsky. It’s just creepy!!! Ok, I will concede that certain sections of the piece possess an eerie beauty, but other than that- CREEPY! It would be one thing if he only composed one piece like this, but he has an entire song cycle entitled “Songs and Dances of Death!” Sheesh…
If you need a reminder of how AWFUL that scene, “Night on Bald Mountain” in Fantasia is, just watch this. (You won’t need to watch the whole thing in order for your subconscious to have thorough and plentiful notes on possible nightmare material.)
(See? More like Nightmare on Bald Mountain…) If you’re as creeped out as I am from just watching that, and now feel inclined to shun Mussorgsky, here are the other two pieces I mentioned, that [ALMOST] redeem him.

 

Lovely, right? People do NOT appreciate this type of music anymore! Which is sad, because it’s such an articulate, intelligent genre. (Sure, minimalism, you’re totally a legitimate type of music; you’re definitely not what composers use when they’re just being too lazy to write anything dynamic…) That side dish of sarcasm was free of charge, everyone (she said, putting away a very large soap box). ANYWAY, be advised, it’s like half an hour. (Listen with a fabulous frothy something from Starbucks while you read a good book. At least that’s how I like to listen. Also good for road trips!)

 

Speaking of dances of death, that is usually my reaction whenever the aforementioned winged devil hovers ominously near me. (That’s right. I brought it full circle.)
I grant you, summer is still pretty great. Even though I can’t get a tan (my options are white, pink, red, or sunpoisoned… I’m going with white where possible. Yay for being Irish/Scotch/English aka anything pale and European.) And even though mosquitoes eat me (seriously, WHAT GOOD ARE THEY??? At least bees have some impact on the ecosystem, a subject which I cannot pretend to know anything about). And even though I end up sweating during activities that don’t normally involve perspiration- like grocery shopping, getting the mail… or walking outside for 2 seconds… Summer is still ok. In fact, sometimes it’s downright fabulous! Because it’s a time of year when traveling abounds.
I mostly love traveling. Long car rides are great for the hubby and I, because it forces us not to watch Netflix (don’t think I haven’t tried to watch it on my iPad while he’s driving… it doesn’t work, because we just both want to watch it. Slightly hazardous), and we get to talk, look at the beautiful scenery (LOOK, versus be eaten by),  and dream about life together. It’s my favorite way to spend time with my husband. Plus we derive an exceeding amount of delight from buying drinks at gas stations… (if there is a Quick Trip on any given exit, Ryan IS stopping, no questions asked. Of course, if there’s a Starbucks there, too, we WILL be going. Obvs).
And I love going to all the events of the summer. Conferences seem to abound this time of year. And of course, Ryan works for the NACC which is about to happen in like, two weeks, in Indianapolis, thus requiring extra fortitude and ice cream to maintain sanity. There, we will see both sets of parents, and basically my FAVORITE person ever in the universe, my beloved friend Aimee, who has the most beautiful, fabulous husband and 5 children that I’ve ever met. (It’s slightly redundant to say she’s beloved, since that’s what Aimee means… I suppose I could’ve called her Aimee Beloved just as easily. Or just Aimee… nah.)
Vacations are pretty fab, too. Though our vacation won’t happen til after Christmas, but I’m SO EXCITED we even get to take one and see family!!! We haven’t gone on a vacation just us since our honeymoon. I’m definitely not complaining, however. I mean, we’ve only been married 4 years on June 19th- woohoo!!! (This past Thursday.) In my experience, it’s rare for 20-somethings to have the means to take real vacations.
But traveling in general is delightful, because it usually slakes my desire for adventuring, which I describe in detail here. Other pros of summer: the sun IS pretty nice, colorful and blossoming foliage always a plus (excepting the obvious fact that THEY DRAW OUT THE BEES), and giant, floppy hats are considered an acceptable if not chic accessory. Clouds are pretty awesome, too.
There. I said something nice about summer. I hope yours is glorious and adventuresome and entirely unlike Night on Bald Mountain!
P.S. Autumn will always- ALWAYS- be better.

Lucy: Cuteness, the Poopocolypse, and Other Adventures

Greetings and Salutations, Internet!

I’m back from my postpartum hiatus. Aaaahhh it’s good to be back. And with a baby no less! And here she is: born March 30th at 4:20 pm- the most beautiful, perfect, squeaky, grunty, fuzzy-headed baby girl ever to be born! Lucy Kate Allcott:

First picture of Lucy!
First picture of Lucy!

 

Objectively speaking of course. In case you aren’t convinced, here is more proof:

She knows how to accessorize.
She knows how to accessorize.
Post-bathtime snuggles
Post-bathtime snuggles
Funny face!
Funny face!

And possibly my favorite:

"It's so fluffy, I wanna die!!!"
“It’s so fluffy, I wanna die!!!”

I can’t believe I’m a mom! And I can’t believe she’ll already be 2 months old on May 30th! If ever there was a season of beauty, THIS is it. I just gaze at her every day (and also at 4:00 in the morning… or whenever she wakes up) in awe, in love, in sheer delight! Even when she cries, I just think it’s the cutest and most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen! Also, nearly every sentence I write these days seems to end in an exclamation point… (Except this one, obviously.)

People try to explain why becoming a mother (or a father) is so life-changing, but you really just don’t know until it happens to you. We have been SO blessed with this little girl, who is already smiling and cooing all the time(she was smiling at like, 2 weeks! and don’t give me that “it’s just gas” nonsense- she truly smiled at me that early and it was awesome).

And she’s had quite an eventful first 2 months of life! First, Mimi (my mom) visited the first day or two after she was born, then Papaw and Grandma (my fab in-laws) visited for the rest of that first week.

After her first week and a half, she decided to scare the crap out of us because she hadn’t pooped since the day we brought her home. (Side note: when you are a parent, you talk about poop at least as much if not more than when you were in elementary school- and it’s in a totally clinical way. Except when you’re laughing about it. Then it’s like you’re in elementary school again.) And she had gone from 9 lbs when she was born to 6 lbs 9 oz. SO, her pediatrician (whom we love) had us admitted to Cincinnati Children’s hospital, which I must give MAJOR kudos to, because I’ve never seen such amazing doctors and nurses. They not only took incredible care of my baby, they all doted on her (who could blame them? She’s only the most perfect child ever to be born…) AND took care of us, too. (I have never been quite so much of a basket case in my life.) So, what we thought would be a checkup at her pediatrician turned into a 5-day stay at the children’s hospital- 3 and 1/2 of which were spent in the ICU. I think I cried every time they had to draw blood from her or replace her IV… Her cry was so different- so weak and sad! It was clearly not her normal cry. Though, when they first brought her into the ICU, we overheard them describing her as “vigorous” which is apparently doctor-speak for “screaming her head off.” This is actually a good thing, though, because it meant she was still strong enough to put up a fight! By the 3rd day or so, she was doing so much better; you could tell, because she began to more “vigorously” when they changed her diaper than when they drew blood… However, in addition to having amazing care from the medical staff, we experienced the most comforting support from our church family! First, our friend and small group leader and her parents came over that first night and stayed with us IN the ICU until 1:30 AM! Then the next day we had other visits from our friends on staff at the church. It meant so very much that they took time to come and visit and pray with us!

My birthday was on the last day we were there, and I received the best gift I could’ve hoped for- which was getting to take a healthy baby Lucy home! From then on, it felt like Parenting: Take Two. And sooooo many other events have transpired since then! Isn’t it amazing how much can happen in a couple months? The 3 of us also flew to Vegas for training for my work; Ryan came so he could watch Lucy and bring her over to me to nurse periodically throughout the day (though sadly, she’s almost exclusively on formula- but hey, she’s healthy and alive!! Though I was disappointed not to be able to nurse her much, I’m thankful I could at least for a few weeks.) She did famously on the plane! Slept almost the whole time- except when I had to change her diaper… Now THAT was tricky. I took her into the minuscule stall on the plane, laid her on the changing pad on top of the closed toilet, and of course at that moment there was turbulence and she started to slide off the toilet!!! It’s funny now… Neither of us thought it was funny then!

Then, one of Ryan’s college roommates and best friends got married later in May. Ryan was the best man and I sang two songs at the beginning which was so fun (oh, how I miss singing for things!), and we got to spend time with his other two old roommates and their wives- all of whom I absolutely loved hanging out with! Why was this wedding eventful? Well, other than the usual reasons, a small catastrophe took place- which I refer to as The Great Poop Debacle of 2014. About 30 minutes before the ceremony- while Ryan got ready and I practiced the songs- Lucy apparently made nuclear poop in her diaper! I walk into the bathroom and there’s Acey (one of Ryan’s… roommates-in-law? That’s what we’ll call her; she’s absolutely wonderful) and another lady attempting to mop up my child and remove her once beautiful, ruffly, fabulous dress (now thoroughly soiled) without spreading the mess even further. Of course, Lucy felt much better, so she just grinned happily as the now 3 of us began to wipe her down. It was everywhere. We’re talking up to her SHOULDERS somehow; I’m telling you, we needed hazmat suits to clean up that mess! So, I learned Mommy Lesson #12: ALWAYS pack an extra outfit for your child. Miraculously, I had at one point had enough presence of mind to toss a onesie in her diaper bag, so thankfully she wasn’t naked the rest of the day… but SERIOUSLY. How on earth could something so lovely and small produce such an EXORBITANT amount of waste?!

You know that shouting man who advertises Oxy-Clean and demonstrates it’s phenomenal, cosmic cleaning powers? ((Props if you get the Aladdin reference…)) Well. That. Stuff. WORKS. Ryan used it on the dress and got most of it out, and then once we let it soak for a few days (admittedly that was unintentional- I just kept forgetting to finish cleaning it) it was TOTALLY clean! No evidence that The Great Poop Debacle of 2014 had ever happened!

Post-Poopocolypse. Proof that Oxy Clean works!
Post-Poopocolypse. Proof that Oxy Clean works!

Anyway… I am now realizing I have spent more time describing the Poopocolypse (so named by Acey) than our time in the hospital.

 

In spite of any drama- serious or otherwise- we are loving every minute spent with Lucy. I can tell Ryan is absolutely smitten with his little girl. If you don’t know, ladies, the sexiest thing EVER is seeing your man snuggle your baby. [Insert swooning here]

Remember my last post about longing for adventure? Well, we have found one. I’m sure that comes as no surprise to anyone. A dear friend of mine, Wendy Fitzgerald, shared with me recently when I was struggling with already feeling like I’d failed my daughter (not being able to nurse, having her go BACK into the hospital just over a week after her birth) that God hand-picked me- us- to be her parents. We are the best ones to raise Lucy, to love on her, to set an example for her to love Christ. Wow. Is that humbling or what?! So, I don’t need to compare myself; God has enough grace to cover my mistakes as a person- and therefore as a mom, too! Remembering that He loves Lucy even more and better than I do helps calm me down and trust Him with her. And I believed she was promised to us. I had dreamed about her about 2 years ago in February or March- the kind of dream you wake up and think was real. I frantically looked around for her, and realized she wasn’t real… yet. So, when we found out we were having a girl (the 2nd in 4 generations of Ryan’s family!) we thought- it must be Lucy!

I even wrote this song about her… (which she now smiles at whenever I sing it to her.)

I’m loving this adventure so far, and it’s only the beginning! What adventures has God taken you on recently?