This homeschooling year has felt like the most challenging yet. With a two-year-old, a senior in high school, and all the grades in between, I’m pretty stretched. Lately, I’ve honestly felt like I’m done. I can’t seem to get excited about homeschooling, and I’ve wondered whether the problem is that I’ve been doing it for so long or if it’s something else? I’ve concluded that it’s mostly “something else.” That something else is DRIVING. This year, I am typically on the road every single day. When I’m home, I’m bombarded with neverending tasks, and I can’t ever get on top of anything because I’m not home enough. My kids aren’t overscheduled, but I sure am. I remember when I only had younger children and we would homeschool four days a week, and leave the fifth day open for appointments or activities. That was lovely. This year, things are out of control. But somehow it all seems “essential.” I’m amazed at how being out for an hour or two can have such a negative effect. It prevents rhythm and routine and it’s making me crazy. Thankfully, there is an end in sight. Keats will get his driver’s license in May if all goes as planned, and he will take on some of the driving. But even before that, it looks like I am going to catch a break because we are the owners of an organ now! Yes, the solution to every over-scheduled mother’s problems: the organ. Just kidding. Well, not kidding about it being the answer to my situation, but an organ probably wouldn’t solve your problems. Though if it would, I suggest Craigslist. Check it every day, multiple times.
Jonny’s been watching for the right organ ever since Keats began lessons early last summer. Keats practices for two hour blocks four to five days a week at our church, which is twenty minutes away from home. On our longest day I have to drive him to orchestra after lunch where he stays a few hours, then I go back and pick him up just to drive him over to church to practice organ. Then I head back home and have about an hour before going back to get him and bring him home for the day. You must be thinking I’m crazy. You are correct. But I view this as temporary and important. Keats has two interests: music and baseball. (I used to have interests as well, but I can’t remember what they are. I’m too busy trying to remember where I’m supposed to be next.)
On Saturday morning, Jonny, Keats, Seth, Gabe, and I headed to northern Virginia to pick up the organ that had won the approval of Keats, Seth, and Keats’ organ instructor. We stopped about twenty minutes away from the home of the organ’s owner to rent a moving truck. The rental place happened to be across the street from a Woodcraft store, so we made what was meant to be a quick stop. We’d never visited Woodcraft before but knew it would be full of amazing things. It sure was. Seth got some lathe tools and Keats and I teamed up to lock the keys in the van. And while Jonny had the moving truck, all the tools we needed to move the organ were in our van. There was lots of talk about who was really at fault while Jonny tried to break in. (Why are people so into blame? No one listens to me when I explain that it doesn’t really ever matter whose fault it is. Especially if it’s sort of my fault.) Using a dowel, some wire, and a door stop, Jonny was able to get the doors unlocked and we got back on the road.
Once we arrived and Keats played the organ and gave his final approval, I could have cried with relief. It’s a beautiful mahogany reed organ with a full pedal board and it was priced well below it’s value, almost as if the fee was only charged to make sure folks were serious about taking it. It was built in the 1920s and has only had two previous owners.
Of course, none of us really understood what we were getting into with this little organ project. It took hours to disassemble it. Even with handwritten instructions, it was tricky. My main job was to take photos, say encouraging things, and keep all the screws in a baggie in my knitting bag.
The moving part was scary! A combination of straps, knots, boards, rolling pipes, and a dolly were all brought into play. And actually, at this point I had to put my camera down and get involved. I hurt my back helping to support the organ as we rolled it up the ramp and onto the moving truck. No pain, no gain.
By the time we got home it was far later than we had anticipated and everyone was exhausted. I was afraid that Jonny would forget how to put everything back together and that the younger kids would break something if the organ wasn’t reassembled right away, so I insisted that it be dealt with that night. Jonny and Keats stayed up until after midnight putting it back together.
I’m probably getting super boring with details, but have to mention that this organ can be powered by either a crank (turned here by Beatrix) or a blower. The blower is the preferred method, though it is a bit loud and we are going to have to cut a hole in the house to vent it outdoors. That’s good for resale, right?
Gabe definitely won the award for “best sport” about the organ ordeal. He is not a fan of organ music, or any classical music and he puts up with a lot. He’s hilarious talking about Keats and his music. “He gets out his viola and practices it way too late. Eventally he stops and puts it away and I think, finally, some peace and quiet. BUT THEN HE GETS OUT HIS VIOLIN!” But he really isn’t mad about it. Part of being a family is being inconvenienced for each other. And baseball season is just around the corner….
p.s. Every now and then I get an email asking for classical music recommendations. In case you are a fan of classical music, I’ve been listening to (affiliate link) John Field’s nocturnes lately. The pianist whose concert I took Keats to for his birthday played one of them (No. 2 in C minor), and I loved it so much. Maybe you will too?