Sunday, September 01, 2013

Ukuleles and Trading Tables

Last night our home teacher stopped by, laden with ukuleles. He brought one "for each of the girls;" he was just passing them out like candy! He helped us tune them up and then showed us a little ukulele magic. He wants to have a ukulele choir of sorts in the ward so has given ukuleles to our family as well as a couple others in the ward that he home teaches (he would have brought one for Andrew, but assumed he'd be busy; and Benjamin he figured was a little young (though he mentioned something about an appropriate instrument for him at some time down the road)).

Our home teacher is the nicest man.

I've been looking at ukulele everything since I'm about as novice as they come. I've been here, here, here, herehere, and several other places online—are there any other good sites my ukulele-playing contacts know of? (Josie?) Eventually he'd like us to get together to play hymns and things but for now, this is about right up my alley.

With all the musical excitement in our house last night it was somewhat difficult to get to bed, as you can imagine. Then Benjamin was up fussing for who knows how long in the middle of the night. Rachel got up at some point and turned the hall light on but she went right back to bed so I didn't check on her.

She was the first one out of bed in the morning and she turned a show on for herself. I was busy with Benjamin when we heard her jump off the couch, pause her show, and run to the bathroom. Andrew jumped out of bed when he heard the gagging, heaving, and eventual splatter of vomit (most of which ended up in the toilet—hooray for older children). He helped her get cleaned up and then she climbed back into bed.

Miriam, meanwhile, had been woken up by the morning's commotion. She and I met in the living room where she noticed that a television show had been paused. Quite generously, Miriam asked, "Can I keep watching this show for Rachel? Like, I will watch it for her."

Sadly, the answer was no. We had places to go and things to do and had to start getting ready for the day.

I've been rather nervous about today ever since I said I would take on this May. My friend Kim used to host a "Trading Tables" for our ward (and surrounding wards) and she asked if anyone would be willing to take up the torch when she moved. No one responded so finally I took one for the team and asked Kim if I could do it—the benefits of having Trading Tables are far too great to let it not happen. She graciously gave me the signs she used for the tables as well as a list of instructions.

I booked the church about a month ago, made up flyers and put them up on each ward's bulletin board, sent out emails to our ward's Relief Society mailing list, and sent out emailed to contacts I have in other wards asking them to spread the word.

And then I sat and bit my nails for the next couple of weeks. (But only figuratively because I don't bite my nails. I can't bite my nails. I have what's called an "open bite." I can't bite my nails and I have to cut all of my food because I can't bite that either).

I am not a planner of large-scale events. I am a wallflower. Planning large-scale events causes a bit of agony for wallflowers. I was so stressed out that I could hardly sleep—not only because of Benjamin's fussing but also because every time I fell asleep I had nightmares about Trading Tables.

It didn't look like things were going my way today already—with Benjamin keeping me up all night, and Rachel feverish and vomiting.

"You'll just have to go alone," Andrew said. "Rachel's in no shape to be going anywhere."

He had been planning on helping me set up tables. There was no way I was going to be able to set up the tables by myself. And I didn't know who to call to ask at 8:30 in the morning...on a Saturday...on a long weekend. In the end we ended up taking Rachel with us—her, her pillow, her blanket, her water bottle, her throw-up bucket, and a fleece blanket to protect the couch in the foyer. We put her in the foyer opposite of the parking lot since those doors were locked and, in theory, no one would be going her way.

Setting up proved to be easier than I thought. Another ward was having a baptism a little later in the day (though they were quite worried about how Trading Tables would affect their plans, we assured them we wouldn't) so some of the missionaries were there to fill the font. I didn't have to lift a finger and all the tables were set up lickety-split. Benjamin was very happy about this because he just wanted to be held.

We taped the signs to the table, put out the stuff we'd brought to give away and just waited for people to show up. It didn't take long. Soon the gym was packed and I could just fade into the background once again. People came in with their cast-offs, sorted them onto the appropriate places, and then shopped around to find new treasures. It was rather fun to watch!

I saw some people in our ward who I know are struggling to make ends meet—they were so grateful to be there. I noticed they picked up doll carrier we'd gotten rid of (we had three doll strollers and a doll carrier in our house; it was too much) and was happy it was going to help make another little girl happy. They actually came up to me and asked if they were taking too much.

"Not at all!" I said. "I have to haul everything that doesn't get taken off to goodwill—take as much as you want!"

At the end of the hour, people naturally started leaving and we were suddenly left with the problem of how to get all the leftovers out of the church. I had tried to save boxes and bags but it seemed most of them had gotten carted away. We were left with a whole lot of stuff and nothing to put it in!

Fortunately, a sister from another ward was still there and she said she just happened to have a roll of garbage bags in her car. It was a lifesaver! She said she saw a lot of people from her ward who she knew needed this activity—some foster families and even some non-member friends who were in need. It was so nice of her to express her appreciation.

She stayed and helped to pack everything up, along with our friends Heidi & Richard, and a very pregnant Marian. I cautioned Marian to take it easy but she said at this point she's trying to go into labour so she didn't mind doing a little heavy lifting. She's got about a week left but is hoping to have the baby on Monday—since it's Labour Day!

Marian put the seats down in her van and we filled it to the top with bags of clothes and boxes of books and random odds and ends. We filled the trunk of our van (but we couldn't put the seats down because we had all our kids; fortunately we didn't have to). Sometimes I marvel at how much excess there is in the world! I was very glad to give others (including myself) the chance to pick through things no longer wanted, to turn them into a new treasure (for free) before carting everything off to goodwill.

I think a lot of people claimed a lot of nice things but we still had a lot of stuff to give to goodwill.

We parted with a few trashy treasures of our own, Miriam's pink boots probably being the most difficult. She was having trouble squishing her feet into them and so eventually they "disappeared." She loved them so much (and after going through our twin cousins and then both Rachel and Miriam they were looking very well-loved). I didn't want to hang onto a ratty pair of bright pink boots for years on end "just in case" we have another girl some day but I saw another woman snatch them off the shoe table, exclaiming how much her little two-year-old would love them.

Farewell pink boots! Farewell three other garbage bags of stuff!

Hello pants/skirts that used to belong to someone my size. You guys—there is someone my size floating around out there in the general population! And I found her clothes! And she's a much trendier shopper than I am!

I should probably become her best friend so all her cast-off clothes can just enter my wardrobe directly. Unfortunately, I have no idea who she is.

We also picked up some more books. Books are my downfall, every time. I also let Rachel and Miriam each pick a toy, though I suspect Miriam dropped her pick at some point so it likely ended up at goodwill. We took home much less than we contributed though, which was our goal.

Packing up Trading Tables took a little longer than setting up, but it wasn't too bad.

Rachel didn't throw up until the minute she was inside the front door. Fortunately, she was carrying her throw-up bucket at the time. She wanted to watch The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe since we're reading it and because we found a picture-book version of the motion picture at Trading Tables and I gave it to her to read while she was quarantined on the couch. So, the girls watched that while Benjamin and I went down for a nap. And then Daddy fell asleep. And whenever the movie was finished the girls both went into their room to read (Rachel) and play (Miriam), and though there is evidence of those activities happening (Rachel had an open book resting beside her and Miriam's bed was littered with toys) both girls were sound asleep when we found them.

Family nap time is the best!

The day ended up not being too bad, even though it started out a little dicey. I'm feeling a lot more confident with my role of "Trading Tables Lady" now that I know that with just a little bit of advertising it's basically a self-propelling activity. And Rachel's feeling much better (though we'll probably keep her home from church tomorrow so we don't spread any germs (with four wards meeting in our building there is no quiet place to quarantine her like we did this morning)); her fever is gone and she hasn't thrown up since noon and even asked to get her ukulele out this evening so she could practice (she can play the C chord).

Here's hoping we can keep spreading the love while keeping a lid on the stomach bug!

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