Thursday, May 29, 2008

Once Upon A Time.....

No Kissing! My kids are prone to say. I guess we kiss a lot, my hubby and me. Is that a good thing? Of course it is. When you are old and wrinkled and have to have coffee just to stay awake during the day, it is a good thing that someone still wants to kiss you.

Kayaking. We always said it looked like fun. Now we are going to do it. Our 20th Anniversary is as good a time as any to try something new. We have reservations. We dug down deep into closets and boxes for all our athletic non-cotton clothing we seldom ever wear and found some. We are packing. We’re going kayaking in Monterey...hooray!

Romance. There isn’t much of that in our household. We kiss a lot and smile a lot and say sweet things but the candlelight dinners, soft music and solitude is sorely lacking. I signed on the dotted line for dependable, gracious, sweet, admiring, encouraging, kind, considerate, happy, joyful, cheerful, funny and helpful... When I did all that I forgot to check the box marked “romance”. Unfortunately, so did he. But this weekend will be different. Oo la la!

Memories. We are going to eat at Casanova’s where we’ve savored many celebratory meals. And we are going to stay at The Happy Landing Inn where we spent our first few nights together 20 years ago! We will walk the strip at Carmel and shop. We won’t buy anything of course, we never have, why would we now? We will rent bikes and take pictures. We will wander along 17 mile drive and ogle at houses we will never afford.

Rich? Oh yeah. Wealthy? You bet. Blessed? Indeed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Music Appreciation Flunkies

My kids flunked Music Appreciation today. Yes,they did. My grand scheme for the summer mentioned in my previous blog has been blown out of the water. This is what they did.

We were listening to Manhattan Transfer. They refused to clap on beats 2 and 4 which is sacrilege when there’s jazz in the room! Those goofballs kept clapping on the 1 and 3 beats and I told them they were going to Remedial Jazz Appreciation this summer. Which, in all honesty, is fine by me.

In the comments section of my original Music Appreciation blog, my friend Julie had an interesting suggestion. She said something about Sinatra, Martin and Bobby Darin. Julie doesn’t know me that well, but I have to give her credit because she must know music! I just bought Oh My Nola by Harry Connick Jr. If you don’t know Harry Connick Jr. watch this:

If you want to know more about Harry Connick Jr. rent the DVD Memphis Belle or borrow it from me. Your husband won’t mind. It’s a war movie but worth it’s weight in gold when Harry sings “Danny Boy”. I’m swooning right here and now.

So here is Plan B. Frank and Dean and Harry are easy to find because they are in my every day rotation. Bobby Darin is another matter and I’ve been thinking I ought to get some Sammy lately. Does anyone know if Joey Bishop ever had a hit tune? I could have a summer tribute to the Rat Pack. I like Julie’s idea. We’ll have a cocktail party instead of karaoke. Maybe Joe will wear a suit. I’ll wear red lipstick. Hey! I know someone who makes harvey wallbangers. We’ll have dry ice for atmosphere and my kids will do a show. Zach will play “Candy Man” on the piano. Jillian will sing. Evan will tap dance wearing shades and it’ll be great! Wanna come?

Who knows which Rat Pack member was related to a President?
Who knows how many times Dean Martin has been married?
Who knows if Jerry Lewis is still alive?
Who knows why I would mention Jerry Lewis?
Who knows what hit song made #1 by Sinatra’s daughter?
Who knows who Joey Bishop is?
Who knows which artist(s) mentioned in my blog have nothing to do with the Rat Pack?
Who knows all the lyrics to I’ve Got You Under My Skin?
If you do, you get an A+ in bein’ a cool cat!
Who thinks I was born in the wrong era?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Music Appreciation or Summer School or Rock n Roll

Most of you don’t know that my Bachelor’s Degree is in Creative Arts. But what you really don’t know is that my minor was in MUSIC HISTORY. Not music. Music HISTORY. That’s right. I can tell a Verdi opera from Wagner (pronounced Vah’-gner). Can’t everyone?

Anyhoot. This crazy YouTube got me thinking:

And then, one day, I needed an old-fashioned Journey fix. I did a search on You Tube and found this:

This morning, Zach saddled up next to me and we started searching iTunes and YouTube for “Cheese,” “Pepperoni” and “Combination” Rock n Roll. It became a lesson in Music Appreciation. Then, I had a brainstorm.

My kids are well versed in the History of Music between the eras of Bach to Mendelssohn, but I usually spend summer introducing them to something a little different. Last year, they learned every song from Fiddler on the Roof and the summer before, they listened to 27 of the Beach Boys Greatest Hits. 2 summers ago we were all thanking God we were country boys while sitting around in our blue suede shoes. But this summer, I need some HELP!

Cheese Pizza can be really good. If the few simple ingredients are put together well and are of high quality, then Cheese is great. If a little Pepperoni is thrown on top, it gets spiced up a bit. The best pizza is Combo, when all the yummy flavors are well balanced and one bite doesn’t quite taste like another but each bite builds on the excitement of the one before it. That’s some good pizza!

However, if the crust, sauce and cheese are mediocre, then a Cheese pizza will fall flat on the tongue. If the Pepperoni isn’t crispy on the edges, it disappoints. If a Combo is just a bunch of stuff thrown together without rhyme or reason, it might look appetizing but taste like a mess.

So it is with music. I decided that Steve Perry’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is Cheese Pizza but “The Voice” really has some crisp Pepperoni quality, at least by Rock standards. Altogether, the song gets a good grade, because despite the simplicity, the ingredients all fit together well. In my humble opinion, I think Dvorak Symphony #9 is the best Combo ever. However, I appreciate that not everyone likes my version of Combo, not everyone has a music HISTORY minor and since this is really an article about Rock n Roll, let me return to the subject.

If you listen to “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas, there are some really cool grooves and lots going on in the guitar and percussion lines alike. Rob Thomas’ vocal expression is as chameleon-like as Steven Tyler’s, who can literally scream musically! “Smooth” is a Combo Pizza. Just thinking of that song makes me want to crank it up and sit on the back deck with my umbrella cocktail. (Can’t do it, however, since I don’t want my kids repeating those lyrics!)

I need HELP. My homeschool-mom-brain has been provoked. I want to expose my kids to a course in “Rock n Roll and Pizza Appreciation” this summer. Who knows, maybe I’ll even write a Rock n Roll Music History curriculum that will fly off the shelves!

What songs would you choose for my curriculum? What story can be told between Elvis and Journey? What musical development occurred between Van Halen and Hootie? What do kids listen to today????.... that’s actually good?

I am looking for 20-30 good songs that will help tell the Rock n Roll History story. Can you help?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reflection on Mother's Day

Mother’s Day came and went without much ado. I got a few things I needed and a few things I wanted, but mostly what I got was a lot of love and admiration. Some things are just more beautiful on Mother’s Day. I got a fabulous shrinky dink, so tiny, I can carry it everywhere. I got permission to stay in bed all day. I got a homemade fruit smoothie that was out of this world delicious. I got the best Sponge Bob Mother’s Day card ever! I got to torture my children with snapshots outdoors. I got to go to a Japanese restaurant I’ve never been to and introduce my children to the wonderful, marvelous display of a teppan chef! I got what I believe might be my very last watercolor paper flower on a chenille stem. I got moments that will never come again.

Some of the things I like best about being a mother are the things that happen and the things that are said that just aren’t planned. Like this year’s Mother’s Day, they’ll never be repeated. I’ve kept a list of some of the memories and here are a few to share.

Jillian, age 7, asked tonight at dinner, “Have we ever paid Britain back for what happened to the tea?”

Zachary, age 3, had to go potty and our local park had no bathrooms available. I told him to do his thing on a tree. He chose one he liked then proceeded. Walking away he said rather surprised, “Trees don’t have flushers!”

Evan, at age 5, asked, “Why is Jesus named Amen?

Evan, at age 6 remarked, “Mommy when I was on the stairs I could smell your perfume.” I replied, “I am not wearing perfume today.”
“Oh...well it must have just been your prettiness then.”

What are a few of your fondest memories? What moments are you holding on to and cherishing? What are the happy thoughts that give you wings to fly?

Oh! And if anyone has an answer for the first question, I’d love to hear it!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Where is LOVE?

I had an epiphany a while back. I tried again and again to blog it for you, but it kept coming out more like “blah material" than “blog material”. Obviously, there are greater depths to ponder on my recent revelation, but I will say this, it had to do with LOVE.

Perhaps it had to do with LOVE because in a few short weeks, we’ll be celebrating our 20th Wedding Anniversary. (You may applaud) My beloved children daily remind me I am LOVED and are, in my opinion, really quite easy to LOVE. (You may agree with me)
Or perhaps, because here in a new community I am looking for LOVE, friendship, community, fellowship. (You may pray for me) There are thousands of songs written about LOVE and one even says, “Looking for LOVE in all the wrong places....” Isn’t that depressing? But isn’t it true?

Oliver Twist sang, "Where is love? Does it fall from skies above?
Is it underneath the willow tree that I've been dreaming of?"

So where or what is LOVE? To scratch the surface of what love is I was journaling from 1 Corinthians 13... Love is patient, Love is kind, etc. And in doing that I wrote contrasting statements about what love is not. Love is not in a rush. Love is not in a hurry. Love doesn’t roll its eyes waiting for an answer. Love doesn’t make demands. My list goes on and on.

On the backdrop of this personal processing I couldn’t help but to be convicted. How loving am I? How loving is my family? How loving are the friends I choose and the church I choose? Does LOVE permeate my life? Jesus Christ said in John 13:35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Do I act like a disciple of a living and loving God?

I can’t help but to think that in all these years, I really don’t know how to LOVE very well. I have very loving parents, by the way. I have some of the best best bestest friends in the whole wide world! (You know who you are!) My friends model the best love I’ve ever seen. Then of course, there’s that amazing man I’m married to who should teach classes on how to love a wife. He is an expert at LOVE.

But then there’s Me. I go looking for LOVE in all the wrong places and have to be reminded that “God Is Love” (1 John 4:8) and that “ If I speak with tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13) I can spin my wheels doing all sort of things, but without Loving the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind, my efforts are worthless in God’s economy.

Below are some of my insights from 1 Corinthians 13 about Love. If you want to try this spiritual exercise perhaps don’t read my unscholarly attempts at interpreting scripture. For those who might be interested, read on.

If I teach with the inspiration and wisdom of Aristotle and Augustine, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal and probably self-righteous. 2 If I have the gifts of cooking and cleaning and meeting all my family needs, and if I train my children to move mountains of toys into organized and labeled bins, but have not love, I am no one anyone would want to be around. 3 If I give all my time and energy to my family, my house and my dog, and to listening to my husband tell about his day and to the phone tree at church and the school fundraiser and the homemade banana bread to the poor widow next door and surrender my body to morning workouts so I don’t fall asleep during the day, but have not love, I gain nothing but mind numbing burn-out.

4 Love is patient, and is never in a hurry. It listens well and doesn’t roll its eyes. It suffers long, waiting for the heart of the matter to reveal itself. It doesn’t rush. It doesn’t prod. It doesn’t demand. Love is kind and believes the best about people. It doesn’t snap or say hurtful things, but is always seasoning its words with honey. It does not envy and wish it were something else or more like something else. It is content. Love accepts things the way they are. It does not boast or think itself better. It is not proud or even aware of its humility. 5 It is not rude but is always gracious and polite. Love has good manners. It is not self-seeking, for love exists for its own sake and doesn’t depend on response or reaction. Love is not co-dependent. Love is not easily angered but is understanding. Love keeps no record of wrongs, never holds a grudge and doesn’t make lists. 6 Love does not delight in evil, doesn’t think humor at someone else’s expense is funny but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love always protects, acting as steward over the hearts its been entrusted. Love always trusts, believing that good will triumph. Love always hopes for God’s will to be done and it always perseveres, hanging in there when the going is really tough and there seems to be no light and no way out.

8 True Love never fails because the need to receive true love and give true love is why we were made.