Thursday, December 9, 2010


At no other time of the year is multi-tasking more necessary than during the weeks preceding Christmas. Laundry still needs, washing, meals still need cooking, mending, cleaning, employment, lawn work, childcare, civic and church duties still each need time and attention. But on top of that, we try to prepare for the biggest meal of the year, the biggest celebration of the year, attend more events per day than any other time of the year, and be more giving, sharing and kind than during any other time of year.

How's it going?

The other day I was supposed to be rehearsing for a small group number to be performed at our Ward Christmas party, but I was struggling with a cold, and we decided to have me stay hone and listen to the rehearsal by phone. Pretty cool option technology now opens to us, eh? I could continue decorating the tree and simply pause for the call.

Well, my beleaguered daughter was scheduled to take the youth caroling, and asked if I could watch her children. "No problem," I replied, thinking I'd pop a little Blues Clues on for the toddler and set the infant in her carrier when the time came to "rehearse."

A call came in about an issue that had to be attended to that very night. Meanwhile, my publisher and I were shooting emails back and forth because rumors were circulating that "Oh, Say Can You See?" had been nominated for an award. (You see where this is going, right?)

All things were doable, one at a time, but no. . . that would require a perfect world. So here's what happened. . .

Brady was content to watch Blues Clues, but Miss Avery could only be happy if I held her. Okay, the call came in, we began to rehearse via cell-phone. Now imagine this, if you can. Our pianist was delayed, so my friend Judi brings the music up from a web site through her iPad. Another friend, Lynette, brings up a metronome ap on her iPhone to keep time. Juli then patches me in via her own iPhone, and we begin. Oh, did I tell you that another member of the group was entertaining the little children of the young mother playing the flute. Now you've got the picture.

I moved to the adjacent area to minimize the singing on Blues Clues. After a few minutes, Avery began to squirm. I bounced her on my knee which added a lovely vibrato to my own nasally voice, while making it impossible to focus on the music. I balanced my cell phone on my shoulder to provide a free hand with which to turn the music, but my cheek hit the touch screen and ended the call.

We began again.

It's became a bit too quiet in the family room. The taped episode of Blues Clues had ended and when I glanced at Brady he was climbing the ladder. I set Avery down, redirected Brady, restarted Blues Clues, all while singing. Avery was not happy about being set down, and becomes inconsolable. Time to warm the bottle of breastmilk her mommy had left. While gently warming a container of hot water, I try to make peace with Avery. Steve on Blues Clues gets out his Handy-Dandy notebook and Brady now wants to "draw." While rocking Avery, making a bottle, getting a pad and a pen, I continue to sing. The house phone rings. I've got that urgent issue I need to attend to. "How'd that run-through go?" my choral colleagues ask. "Not great," I confess.
We decide to meet in person on Sunday.

I attempt to attend to the urgent issue while Avery chews on my thumb. The bottle is still too cool. Blues Clues ends again. Brady is opening the pantry seeking a snack.

I stall the urgent phone call until the bottle is ready. Avery is now delighted, and Brady is back on the ladder pulling ornaments off the tree.

I hang up the phone, turn down the lights, grab the two babies and sit on the sofa. Brady pulls out his eight-pack of jumbo crayons. "Ahnje," he says. I was astounded. "Yes, Brady! That's orange! You're so smart!"

We run through the colors again and again. Brady breaks into a happy-dance that thrills Avery so completely that she's willing to spit out her bottle to laugh. Nothing seemed quite as critical after that. We snuggled on the sofa together, gazing at the partially-decorated tree, finally gittin' the really important things done.

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