Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy Music

So yesterday, my guest blog was published on and it's out there in front of a new audience that I am utterly unfamiliar with.  I'm feeling very exposed.  To balance out the sad darkness in that posting, I spent the morning listening to Marshall Crenshaw's eponymous 1982 debut album.

When I was in college, I was in an a capella group called the Virginia Belles.  At first, I wanted to be in a different, co-ed group.  I was devastated when I did not even get called back to that group.  It never occurred to me that my voice part (alto verging on tenor) wasn't needed in that group.  Then, one day, my next door neighbor, who had just joined the Belles, told me at dinner that they had lost an alto and would be holding auditions.  In one of my most self-serving moments, I thought, "Okay, I'll audition and use it as practice so I can get into the other group the next time."  My dear Belles who may be reading this now, I am sorry.  I signed up and told NO ONE that I was doing it.  My neighbor, Becky, knew, but that was all.  Then I went to the first part of the audition, and after I ran through the exercises for the Musical Directors and Assistant Musical Director, I started singing the solo piece I had prepared for it. I wanted to do something unexpected and that no one else was likely to have sung.  I chose a song called "I Want To Walk With You" by Toni Childs (  I sang to the bridge, and then I FORGOT THE REST.  That doesn't happen to me.  Completely blank.  I was mortified, and certain that I'd blown it.

Luckily I had not.  I was called back, and managed in the group callback to do two important things: 1. I managed to fool them all by literally BARELY singing aloud during the "blend" segment.  2. I sang the WHOLE song.  Before I started singing my solo piece in front of the whole group, I told those who weren't present the first time what had happened, and then sang it all. 

Longish story short - I was invited to join, and I did, happily.  They found out soon after that I was considerably louder than they thought.  Luckily for me, they kept me in, and I made some of my best, best friends there.

In my last year, one of our guest groups sang a song called "Mary Anne" that my attached-at-the-knee friend and I loved.  However, we did not love the guest group that sang it, so we floundered about for years wondering who wrote the song originally.  Two years later, when I worked at Borders running the music section, someone picked out a CD to play in the store one day that I had not heard of, the debut album of Marshall Crenshaw from 1982.  It's a pop confection, it's beautifully written - very Beatles-ey, Joe Jackson-ey, etc.  Not my normal, harder rock cuppa, but I have always been a sucker for great pop songs.  There it was.  "Mary Anne" - finally!  I called my friend, bought the CD, and lived happily ever after, sonically. 

Sometimes, music draws me down.  This album lifts me up, and I love knowing there is something I can pull up and listen to that is guaranteed to brighten my spirits. 

Here's some more information on Marshall Crenshaw, who is phenomenal.  I hope you have something just as simple and beautiful that picks you up when you are down.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Miss Christy Day

Today is Miss Christy Day!  In our house, that is the anniversary of our nanny's first day with us. 

Christy has been working with us and for us for 7 years now.  It's amazing to me that it's been that long so fast!  The day she came to interview, we received a phone call from her 20 minutes before her interview time.  "Where do I go?" she asked.  I tried to give her directions.  She hung up after the first few sentences.  Two minutes later, she called back, with a similar outcome.  It happened EVERY TWO MINUTES for the next fifteen.  I was already exhausted and I hadn't even met her yet.  It got so frustrating that we tried to cancel the interview.

No luck.  She came anyway, and it turns out that we were the lucky ones.  Christy had a special needs daughter with similar problems to Connor's.  She spoke to us about her May-May, and how she cared for her.  Then she asked if she could hold Connor, and she knew immediately what to do with him.  We hired her.

On her first day, she arrived early, we headed to work, and I called home at least 4 times to check in.  At the end of the day, she told us that Connor had vomited all over her at lunch.  She cleaned them both up, and moved on.  The second day, he did the same thing.  We couldn't believe she kept coming back.  The third day, she was ready for him, and now it's been years since he's been able to pull that trick on her.

When Drew and Tucker were born, Christy was the first non-medical, non-family to hold our boys.  She has helped raise them from their first days, and every evening, when she heads to the door, they holler out "HUG AND KISS" and drop whatever they are working on to go hug and kiss her good-bye.  This morning, when she came up the steps to the porch, Tucker crouched on the sofa by the door.  When she opened the door, he sprung up and yelled, "Happy anniversary, Miss Christy!"  She taught them both their alphabets at a very young age, and counting too.  For children who spent a large portion of their developmental stages with a caregiver for whom English is a second language, they have enormous, at times hilarious vocabularies.  Their success is her success, and she lets them know how proud she is of what they can do.

In a year, Tucker will be going to kindergarten and we won't need a full-time nanny anymore.  I do not know how life will be without her.  She is a part of our family now, and not seeing her every day will be so strange to all of us.  I know Connor will miss her.  They have a very special bond.  Two Christmases into our time together, she brought gifts for the two boys (No Tucker yet) and when we sat together to exchange gifts, she broke down crying about how much she loves our boys.  I know they are not perfect, and that at times they are bad for her, just as they are for us, but for all my boys Miss Christy is as constant as the sun.  We will be lucky to have another year with her, and then help her find a new family who needs her special skills.  And hopefully, see her every once in a while so she doesn't forget us.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's been so loooooooooooooooong!

Apologies for the absence...we had some travel that didn't go quite as smoothly as we wanted, and then recovery, and then, you know, life.

But we're back.  Connor has started summer school, his last weeks in the old school before his transition to his new school in the fall.  It appears to be going well - the notes from his teacher are telling me that he's engaged and making friends with new classmates-to-be, and I can tell that his IEP goals are being pursued even in summer school.  He's tired in the afternoon, so they must be making him work hard during the mornings!

The other boys were intrepid travelers. For boys who had only flown 90 minutes at a time before (Drew) or not at all, to manage the 20+ cumulative hours of flying with relatively calm demeanors, sitting placidly with their seatbelts on, and most importantly, not screaming, is pretty impressive. We had several screamers around us on our way home.  At one point, I lifted my head over the boys to catch Lee's eyes, and I mouthed to him, "Our kids?  They are pretty awesome," and he nodded. 

Now I'm trying to get re-upped with work, which was insanely busy before I left, and now has slowed down so much I'm at a loss as to how to reboot it.  But I'm trying, and will have it figured out soon.

I've also been asked to write a guest blog for an old and dear friend, and I'm terrified.  But I said yes.  Time to face the fears and write the piece.  Well, take a different thing I've been writing and remodel it for his use. Keep you posted.