Friday, June 27, 2008

Musical Memories

Miss Sandy of Quill Cottage is hosting an “I Remember Laura” blogathon on Mondays through the month of June in memory of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author if the “Little House” series of books. I'm sorry I didn't see this sooner, because I would have loved to share more memories and participate in her art swap. The theme for this week is Musical Memories and Beautiful Books. Also, don't miss her Scrapbooking give-away today.

My father grew up quite poor, but in a home filled with music. He and his sister both played piano, and my dad taught himself to play the guitar. Listening to him play was unforgettable. He played for my mom when he first met her in college. They were engaged a month later and married three months after that. She always says she married him because of his singing.

He was in a band in college and they made a tape recording of themselves at one of their practices. I wasn't even 2 years old yet, but I was in the audience (as I frequently was), and after one of the songs you can hear me clapping my little hands and the band laughing. I grew up listening to that tape and still treasure it now, more than 30 years later.

Dad's guitar was a Framus that he bought in Germany (it looks very like this one, but has 12 strings). I can still remember the rich smell of the guitar case - to me it was the smell of music. Dad brought that guitar on camping trips, to church activities and family reunions. I have so many memories of sitting around campfires or in a family room at his feet, singing along with him. He could play just about anything by ear if he'd heard it before, like, "You Light Up My Life," which my aunt always requested and, "Red River Valley," for my Grandpa. A few years ago my dad brought his guitar from Idaho to Virginia where he sang, "We've Only Just Begun," for my wedding.

My dad loved singing to my mom, and I will always remember the feeling of warmth it gave me as a child to be able to see and hear how much he loved her, and how he showed her through his music. One year for Christmas my mom wrote a love poem to my dad as a gift. His gift to her the following year was that same poem, set to music.

Every year for Christmas Eve he'd get out the guitar and play Christmas hymns and carols while the whole family sang along. Then, just before we went to bed he would play a song called, "Old Toy Trains." My mom put together a scrapbook page with a couple of photos of my dad on Christmas Eve. That's me, singing with him in the top one.

My dad died very suddenly and tragically when he was just 54. My first child wasn't yet a year old when he died, so she won't have any memories of him. But on her first birthday my youngest brother sent me a song that my dad had written and recorded for her just before he died. There are no words for how precious this is to me.

If you'd like to hear him, I'm including a file download here of a song he sang (originally by The Association) called No Fair at All that you can play on Windows Media Player. It's not professional, just a home recording.

Recording yourself making music, or even just recording the sound of your voice is a priceless gift you can give your children. I miss my dad so much, especially singing with him, but at least I can still hear him sing. His music lives on in me and I hope I can pass that down to my children as well. Thank you, Dad.

A Beautiful Noise

I was inspired earlier this summer to improve the caliber of the material I read to my daughter. What's really been surprising to me is how much she loves it. Although I was going to "try" and see how it goes, I honestly wasn't too optimistic. I felt at 3 years old, good poetry and longer books wouldn't hold her interest. Oh how wrong I was. Instead, she is clamoring at me constantly to read even more to her.

We are currently reading Mother Goose over breakfast, Frost, Tennyson, Keats, etc. over lunch and Little House in the Big Woods at bedtime. I am so thrilled (and surprised) when I hear, muttered under her breath while she plays outside, "I think that I shall never see, a poem as lovely as a tree." Or when she makes connections between our life and Laura's. I might be doing some laundry and she'll ask if it's "Wash Day."

If you've read here very long you know that I frequently feel like I'm barely surviving parenthood by the skin of my teeth. You know I'm not writing about my daughter's love of literature to brag, but rather because it's such a wonder to me. I'm so glad I gave her a chance and hope you'll try the same with your kids.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

One Baby's Tale of Revenge

Hi everyone, Alexander here. Some of you might remember when my mom posted about giving my older sister permission to pinch me. I was merely two months old, and quite defenseless.

I'm happy to say I've exacted my revenge for this thoughtless act many times over. My prime target area is pictured here, though you can't tell from the photo just how long my fingernails are, or how tight my grip is. I'd say the combination is quite excruciating, going from the sound of her screams whenever I apply my death grip.

(Just posting a photo of her upper arm on the internet is technically probably revenge enough, especially since this shows the unflattering horizontal lines on her fashion no-no shirt too.)

Take that, Mom.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Probably the Only Political Post You'll Ever Read Here

To say I'm not really into politics would be an understatement. Yes, I have views and opinions but I can't back them up in a good discussion because my political views are based on gut feelings. Either I like a candidate or I don't. I haven't been thrilled with the presidential scene, but I did think Mitt Romney had potential to do good things. Clinton wouldn't have been my choice, but I was curious to see how things would go with her in office. Whenever I think of McCain I think all the bad things I usually think about older guys with younger women.

Obama though. I just have a really bad feeling about him. I hear little snippets of news about him that make me think he's a bad man, and then remember that the media LOVES this guy. Which makes me wonder what sorts of things they AREN'T telling us. I don't like how he bald-face lies about things that of course he's going to get called out on. I don't like how he has shady dealings when buying property. I don't like how he blames his campaign people for things that were said during his campaign instead of owning up to them himself. I imagine that's how he'd run the country - lying, blaming, dishonest dealings.

And do you know what REALLY bugs me? It's when I make these points about Obama to people and get told, "Well, he's a politician, what do you expect?"

What I EXPECT is someone with integrity. A little like Jack Ryan. He's brave, honest, a family man. Plus he's hawt! Why isn't there ever a Jack Ryan on the ballot? The White House could really use some eye candy, don't you think? Do you really have to be a bad (and unattractive) person to get ahead in politics? Or is it that we as Americans CHOOSE these bad (ugly) people to put on our ballots and lead our country?

So today, to add insult to injury, Obama is having a rally between my office and my home and they expect it will add at least two hours to my commute tonight. At LEAST. Thanks a LOT, Obama. I'm so writing in Jack Ryan in November.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

6 Quirks

I inadvertantly got tagged to share six of my quirks. Thanks Amanda, remind me to call you sometime and we can talk about feet and grocery checkouts, lol. ;)

Here are my six quirks:

1 - I'm a freak about loading the dishwasher. I think I can fit more dishes into the dishwasher than anyone else. Once I told my husband that my sister ALLEGES to be the best dishwasher loader in the world, and he said, "Can't you just let her have that?" NO, she is good, but I could take her in a dishwasher loading battle.

2 - I like the gritty feel of a real pearl against my teeth, and like to compare it to the slippery feel of fake pearls. Which got me in trouble once, because I was telling a friend about it and she got out this string of "real" pearls her parents had given her as a gift. i bet you can guess what happened - No grit. She promptly told me my pearl teeth thing was a HOAX. But I'm telling you. Go scratch your tooth on a real pearl right now.

3 - I'm a better driver when good music is playing and I get carsick if too much bad music is on. I've got a theory that singing along to good music busies the easily distractable part of my mind so that the more serious part can concentrate on the death trap we like to refer to as a daily commute.

4 - I like to play stupid computer games like Minesweeper and Free Cell. But you're thinking about calling SHENANIGANS on me, because that's not very quirky. Don't you worry though, because it gets quirkier. In fact, I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, it's been my little secret until now. When I play I pretend I'm playing in an intra-galactic tournament with real Space Mines and the fate of the human race hinges on whether I can clear the board quickly and safely. (See, I told you.)

5 - I have SO MANY public bathroom quirks. I could probably come up with 6 all on this subject. I hate it when I'm the only person in a bathroom with a lot of stalls and someone comes in and goes in the stall RIGHT NEXT TO ME. I use a paper towel to open the door of the bathroom when I leave, and if they don't have paper towels I open the door with my pinky on the part of the handle/lever that is the least likely to have been touched frequently. I get so mad at foot flushers because if a non-hand-washer flushes that toilet with their hand, then they get floor germs on the handle of the stall and the handle of the exit.

6 - I have food try-outs at every meal. This means I take a bite of everything (sometimes it takes a few bites to decide) and rank everything. Then I eat all of my least favorite thing, then all of the next least favorite thing, etc, so I always eat my most favorite thing last. And with the most favorite thing I prepare a "best bite" to be eaten very last and I get very waspish if I offer to share with my husband and he goes right for the best part of the favorite thing. I give him LOOKS, which he mostly ignores. (Or, let's be honest - he doesn't ignore the looks, he's just oblivious to them.)

Those are the quirkiest quirks I can think of and I hope you all feel better about yourselves now that you know what a freak I am.

Now that you're feeling all great and normal - TAG - if you read this you have to write about your quirkiest 6 quirks.