October 21, 2011


I had my first piano lesson on Tuesday. I have to say, I’m pretty stoked.

For those of you out of the loop, I played the viola for about 13 years—from the time I was 10 until I graduated with my masters. (The viola is a bigger, mellower version of the violin. Played under the chin.) I loved the viola, but it did not love me quite as much. I had really bad back and shoulder pain from playing. I was only ever pretty good. I managed to play in the back of Ithaca’s symphony as a music minor, but I certainly couldn’t feed myself by playing viola.

Even though I don’t really play anymore, music pervades my life. This has been even truer since H’s birth. She loves music. Loves to listen to it, dance to it, and sing it. I sing to her every day. She also loves the piano. H was probably more excited than I was when I opened my keyboard on my birthday. H begs to play piano every day. She sits on my lap, and I manage to get a fair amount of practice in while she “plays” along.

I’ve been feeling a real itch to have a regular adult activity and to get back in touch with my music. With the fall coming up I told Josh that I either wanted to join the Dover community orchestra or take up the piano. As much of a physical pain as the viola was, there is no feeling like sitting in the middle of an orchestra and hearing the music swirling around you. Where else can you find 60 plus people working in perfect unity to create one piece of art? The music itself is masterful, of course. But that feeling of gestalt is incredible.

From a practical standpoint, I haven’t really practiced in years. So, I’m super rusty. I would also need a regular baby sitter for the three-hour rehearsals. With H starting school, I can work in a piano lesson while she’s gone. I’m also attracted to the newness, I admit.

It is just as fabulous to be making music as I hoped it would be. My teacher is a very nice fellow spouse who respects my prior music knowledge. Being able to read treble clef definitely helps a great deal. I’m working on the bass clef. Sometimes I can fake it and play by intervals, but my brain keeps trying to switch into alto clef, which is what I used for viola. (For you non-music people, it’s like knowing Spanish and Italian already but now needing to understand French as well. You will pick up a bunch just because it’s similar, but you still have to actually learn it.)

Either way, sitting at the piano and actually having some vague idea of what I’m doing is empowering and fun. I left my lesson feeling happier and bouncier and more excited about new beginnings than I have for a while. That can only be good. I just finished practicing and my hands are rather tired from stretching and pounding. I can feel the tendons and sinews stretch and even protest slightly as I try to hit the chords and feel where my fingers need to be. I feel the smoothness and weight of the keys under my fingers. The viola only has four strings; the piano has 88 keys. It’s a lot to take in. While the ache in my hands might signal that it’s time to pause in my practicing, my brain is whirring with the new information and the possibilities. I’m looking forward to the real music—both the great composers and the Christmas carol sing-along I’m envisioning.

I’m also eyeing the piano from my spot at here at the keyboard, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself back there for a few minutes before bed.

October 20, 2011

Potty Training Updated

It’s been a little bit over a month now since we started potty training. Using the three-day method, we should have been totally done weeks ago. Right? Not quite.

H only wears diapers at night. But we go through several pairs of panties a day on average. There are some good days when she stays dry all day. There are many more days when we change panties almost every time she pees. At this point you may be wondering whether anything actually stuck when we potty trained. I might be getting her new panties, but very often there are only a few drops in her underwear. She’s still two. She understands the concept; she pees with regularity on the potty; she just doesn’t always give in to the urge to go before a few drops come out to remind her.

Believe me, it is very frustrating to have her answer the question, “Do you need to potty?” with a no when I can see her dancing from foot to foot, obviously about to pee herself. This has led to a substantial learning curve for me as a parent. When I see that behavior I automatically want to haul her in the bathroom and make her go. This impulse has resulted in toilet tantrums. There’s nothing like a half-naked toddler throwing herself willy-nilly off the toilet in an attempt to escape her evil mother. When this has happened both of us usually end up crying. Not really worth it.

We have high highs, like when she told me that she had to go potty when we were in the car driving from New Jersey to Delaware. She held it until I found a Wendy’s and went no problem. Then there are low lows, like when I was sitting next to her this afternoon and she peed in her bed for no apparent reason. Like I said, she’s two.

She’s doing well enough that going back to diapers doesn’t seem like a good course of action. Like everything else in her life, H will one day decide to focus her attention on this pee pee problem and it will cease being an issue. It’s on me and her dad to remain calm in the meantime. The girl has over 20 pairs of panties, and we have a brand spanking new washer and dryer. It’ll be fine.

I would still recommend the potty boot camp even though we clearly did not achieve the intended results. Whenever you decide to train, you have to learn to pay attention to your particular child’s subtle potty signs. That method is a really good way to do that.

I would also recommend the Primo Folding Potty Seat for on-the-go potty action. It folds up small enough that I keep it in what was formerly the wet/dry diaper bag. I stick it and any wet panties in the wet section and keep spare clothes in the dry section. It fits on virtually any toilet, is sturdy, and is easy to use. Most importantly, H will use it in public restrooms. Plus it’s only $10!

I’ll be sure to let you know when the day comes that we are totally trained. Just don’t hold your breath that it’ll be in 2011.

Printer Friendly