Tag Archives: music

That Song in My Head

Can we talk about music tonight?  We can?  Yay!  You guys are awesome!

Music has always been an integral part of my life.  Two of my earliest (and fondest) memories involve my musical maternal grandparents.  (I love alliteration.  Just sayin’.  Anyway.)

My grandfather was a quiet and rather strict man, whom I always approached with a great deal of respect and a smidgen of fear.  The one time he ever let down his metaphorical hair was when he would pull out his violin and give my siblings, cousins and me an impromptu concert, the highlight of which was “Pop Goes the Weasel.”  Try as I might, my little eyes never could catch his finger making the string “pop,” but I can still see his face breaking into a rare smile when he saw our awestruck faces over “Grandpa’s magic finger.”  My grandmother would follow the Weasel on the piano with songs that would set our little feet to dancing (and I use that term in the loosest possible manner).  One of my favorites was “The Doll Dance” by Nacio Herb Brown, who I later discovered wrote some of my favorite numbers in Singin’ in the Rain.  Those concerts were one of the few occasions where noise and chaos were allowed to reign supreme in my grandparents’ house.  When the music died away, we all knew that was the cue to go off to bed…until I was older and was allowed to stay up a little later to play Yahtzee, and then it was time to get the pajama pants beat off of me by my grandmothers.

When I was a small child (like, five almost six years old small), my parents started me in piano lessons.  I took to it like a proverbial duck takes to water.  There was one point early on where I remember wanting to quit because it was really challenging, and (not to toot my own horn) I wasn’t used to things being challenging.  I’m so glad that my parents didn’t let me give it up.  I fell in love with classical piano music and continued with piano all through high school, competing at local and regional levels before moving to competing nationally.

I had everything planned out…conservatory, winning fame at the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, and then dedicating a solitary life to music.  I had a reality check when I looked at the cost of tuition, and went off to join the Navy as a musician.  Naturally, the Navy said I had too much aptitude for electronics to be a musician, and being seventeen, I said, “Okay!”  It turned out fine and I got a very awesome career and an amazing husband out of that deal.  Today, I practice much less than six hours a day and I teach four little boys piano lessons every week.  The soundtrack is still the first thing I notice in every (and I mean every) movie that I watch.  Some of the best moments in my life come with a soundtrack of their own.  I’ve already mentioned “Pop Goes the Weasel” and “The Doll Dance,” but, being in a reminiscent kind of mood, there are a few more that I want to highlight here tonight.

  1. Ride in a Blimp by Lynn Freeman Olson.  This is the piece I played in one of my first piano recitals.  I got to use the black keys and the pedal, and my young ear loved that they created.  It had a picture of an elegant garden on the front, which had nothing to do with a blimp at all, but it was the starting place for many a princess daydream.  I just ordered the sheet music for my oldest son to use in our piano recital later this summer.  (*sniff*)  Incidentally, his copy does have a picture of a blimp on the front.
  2. Minuet in G by Johann Sebastian Bach.  This is the first classical (okay, technically baroque) piece I ever played and it is a favorite of all three of my boys today.  It is the first piece I remember my grandfather praising after I played it.  Praise from him was a huge deal, and it made this little minuet a big deal to me.
  3. Kokomo by The Beach Boys.  My Nana taught my little sister and me a line dance to this song.  It was an even bigger deal because she let us dress up in her crinolines and frilly dancing skirts when we performed the dance for our parents at the end of our weekend at her house.  Every time I hear this song, I think of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Nana’s gazebo with the bamboo forest and koi ponds, breakfasting on Lucky Charms in the sunroom, and her cat Kika of the blue and green eyes.
  4. Handel’s Messiah.  My children’s choir sang several of the songs from this epic cantata during our Christmas musical, and it was the first time I braved singing a solo in front of a large audience.  I got to wear blush because we were under a spotlight, and my red yarn bow tie didn’t want to stay under my collar where it was supposed to be.  I remember the candlelight, the smell of the pine wreaths, and the flash of pride in my director’s eyes when we were given the traditional ovation during the Hallelujah” chorus.
  5. Falling Leaves by Carl Kölling.  I won my first ever piano competition with this piece.  This was the day where I learned that jean skirts, while okay for church, were not okay for competitions.  I also realized that the waiting is infinitely less than the performance itself.
  6. In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg.  When I was at music camp during my junior year of high school, my classmates and I performed this for the end-of-camp concert as a sixteen-piano ensemble.  It was big and loud and totally epic.  I loved every second.
  7. Appalachian Spring, Fanfare for the Common Man and Hoedown by Aaron Copland.  These are the songs that made me love more modern (and I use that loosely) composers.  Before this, if it wasn’t written prior to the early 1800’s, I wanted nothing to do with it.  After I discovered Copland’s use of dissonance and harmonic resolution, my musical world expanded drastically.  I still had no idea what popular music was, but my repertoire expanded to include the music of composers such as Khatchaturian, Ravel, Debussy and Gershwin.  However, Copland has the ability to make my heart soar like few other composers.
  8. Proud to be an American by Lee Greenwood.  This is the song that they played at the end of Battle Stations in boot camp.  It is the song that was playing when I received my Navy ball cap and was formally recognized as a United States Sailor.  It still has the power to make me bawl my eyes out every time it plays.  The Star-Spangled Banner is the only song that makes the waterworks start even faster.
  9. One More Time by Daft Punk.  I associate this song with being on my own for the first time.  After boot camp while I was in my first of many technical schools, the Gurnee Mills Mall in Illinois was a popular weekend hang-out spot for young sailors like myself.  Every time I hear this song it takes me back to those Jam Van rides to the mall, the mortification of being dragged into Victoria’s Secret by my friend for the first time, getting my hair cut at a “real” salon, and going to the movie theater for the first time since I was five, where I saw Disney’s Cinderella and was terrified by Lucifer’s huge gaping mouth when he tried to eat Gus-Gus.  (The movies Miss Congeniality, Save the Last Dance, Tomb Raider, The Mummy Returns and The Emperor’s New Groove have the same effect.)
  10. Would You Go With Me? by Josh Turner.  This is the song that my husband used when he proposed.  This was only one of the best moments of my life, even though I had had a wisdom tooth out earlier that day and was loopy, bruised, drooling and in some serious pain.  I figured that if he could love me enough to propose when I was such a hot mess, everything else would be downhill from there.  Love that guy.
  11. Sweet, Sweet Baby by Michelle Featherstone.  I take it back.  This is the song that will bring on a crying spree faster than you can say “Quidditch.”  After Toddler (my first baby from scratch) was born, the hospital photographer did a photo shoot with his soft, yellow blanket, the hideous olive-green chair in the recovery room, and a battered wicker basket.  When she brought the slideshow of the pictures she’d taken, this was the song playing in the background.  I utterly fell to pieces.  I was so in love with my little guy already, but seeing him from her perspective tore me apart.  It still does.

There are so many more, but listing them will take more time and emotional energy than I am prepared to commit at this moment.  As it is, I’m this close to becoming a sloppy, teary mess all over this post.  Dang pregnancy hormones.

What songs are included in your life’s soundtrack?

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Non-Resolutions for 2014

My mom used to repeatedly remind me that “Patience is a virtue,” to which I would repeatedly reply that “Impatience is a virtue, too.”  I didn’t mean to be disrespectful, although upon reflection, I can see that it might have sounded that way.  It just seemed (still seems) to me that if everyone was patient and waited for things to happen all the time, than nothing will ever happen.  For example, as a sailor, I could wait for the deck to strip and wax itself, but since the likelihood of that happening is slim to none and the lack of completion posed a very serious risk to my liberty (and the rest of my division’s liberty as well), it behooved me to take action and “git ‘r’ done,” so to speak.

In 2013, I decided to set goals rather than to make resolutions.  I know.  Semantics, right?  I think that the reason that goals resonate with me whereas resolutions do not is that action is at the heart of a goal.  Resolutions sound great, but more often than not, they are just words that sound great. Goals have quantifiable outcomes, which makes it much easier to determine whether they have been met (or not).  It worked, though.  I definitely had more success than failure this last year.  Bearing that in mind, here are my primary goals for 2014:

  1. Get an A in my ART 351 (Digital Imaging) class.  I am actually looking forward to this class for a number of reasons.  The first is that, obviously, it is a digital art class.  Totally awesome.  The second is that this class is my last undergraduate class.  Ever.  That I am able to say that makes me nearly weep with happiness.  It has been nearly 14 years since I started working on my bachelor’s degree.  As a goal-oriented person, the fact that it has taken so dang long to finish has been like pouring lemon juice in a paper cut.  However, I’m almost done!
  2. Graduate Magna Cum Laude on 10 May 2014.  If I get the A mentioned above, I will finish with a GPA of 3.84…exactly 1/100th of a point away from Summa Cum Laude, which I am trying to not let bother me too much.  (Curse that B in my sophomore theology class…)  Oh, well.  Magna’s not too shabby, right, especially considering that I got my degree spanning across an overseas tour, three sea tours (two mine, one his), two full-time jobs, two pregnancies?  Please say that you agree with me.  (Obviously, this little Magna/Summa thing is still bothering me.  I’m working on it.)
  3. Date my husband more often.  As I mentioned in my last post, last year we got to have 2 out-of-house dates, which was 2 more than we got to have in 2012.  However, I read something (maybe in my Babywise book?) that said that one of the most important things parents can do for their children is to show them how much they love each other and to make sure that the romantic side of marriage isn’t neglected.  Since I’m all about quantifiable goals, I’m shooting for 6 out-of-house dates.  That’s one every 2 months.
  4. Find a good (and relatively inexpensive) babysitter.  Otherwise, item 3 ain’t happening…at least, not out of the house.
  5. Read the Bible in a year.  I’ve done this in the past (most notably reading it through during one summer while I was in high school), but it’s been awhile since I’ve done it from cover to cover.  I’m going to use a plan like this one to keep me on track.
  6. I’m back to where I was before I had both babies, which is good.  However, both of these pregnancies have been super hard on my body.  We definitely want more babies, but I need to give myself some TLC to give myself the best fighting chance of having a normal pregnancy next time.  My body will never be the same again…and that’s okay.  I run around like a crazy woman all day, but my energy-burning isn’t, shall we say, targeted.  So, my goal is to put a minimum of 3 workout sessions a week back into my routine.  Oh.  And drink more water.
  7. Recondition my hands.  My dear piano teacher reminds me periodically that pianists are like athletes, and need to train and build dexterity.  My hands are a little out of shape, so my goal is to work a minimum of 30 minutes of piano a day back into my routine.  I’m hoping to have at 5 pieces remastered/mastered by the end of the year. (Bach, Chopin and Ravel are all on my list.)
  8. Earlier last year I discovered the Fly Lady.  She makes it pretty much the easiest thing in the world to build a routine that gets your life organized.  My chaos is pretty organized, but it could be much better.  I started the Baby Steps and was doing pretty well, but something threw off my groove.  So, I’m restarting on Monday.  Hello, Shiny Sink!
  9. Maintain academic excellence in our little home school and have fun doing it. *
  10. More of the good stuff. Painting/drawing, crafting, reading, family game nights, kitchen science, writing, homemade Christmas presents…you get the idea. *

This is where it gets a little dicey.  I applied to graduate school on a whim and got accepted, which is awesome.  I still haven’t completely decided if I want to do the program to which I was accepted (Masters of Education in History) and know I will use or the one I am absolutely drooling over (Masters of Public Policy in Campaigns and Elections) that I will not immediately use.  My G. I. Bill benefits will cover about half of my graduate degree, but I need to figure out where the rest of the money is going to come from before I go ahead and jump into anything.  With that in mind, I applied for an art scholarship that would cover the rest of the money I need ($10K), but I won’t find out about what’s happening with that until the middle of March.  I’m planning on applying for other scholarships as well, but I had kind of been thinking about taking a break from school for at least the next year, so I wasn’t going to really stress about it as of yet.  I mentioned the 14 years for my bachelor’s, right?  Plus, my husband wants to start working on his bachelor’s when I finish with mine.  (We do the tag-team thing.)  However, my academic advisor said (afterwards, since I was awesome and didn’t think to ask before I applied) that if I win the scholarship, I have to start taking classes, or they’ll send the money back.  I have very mixed feelings about what I hope will happen here.  In any case, it’s an opportunity to trust God, so that’s where I’m leaving it.  Without further ado, here are my secondary goals, which are contingent on whether I win the scholarship.

  1. Either…Take 3 graduate classes (1 in the summer term, 1 in each of the fall subterms) and earn A’s in each class.
  2. Or…Participate in and finish the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge of completing a 50, 000 word novel in the month of November.  I have tried every year for the last 4 years, and since I have been taking classes simultaneously, have not been able to finish.  I have a story in my head that I want to get out of my head and onto metaphorical paper, but it hasn’t happened because I need sleep.

And, there you have it, Sports Fans!  That’s my Plan of the Year…because if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.

* You will see these goals every year, more likely than not.  Just sayin’.

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2013: The Completed Checklist

Back on 02 January, I shared my checklist of things I wanted to accomplish in 2013.  Seeing as this year is rapidly drawing to a close, it is time for me to let y’all know how that all went.

  1. Have my baby.  Check!  New Baby arrived on 27 March 2013 after induction and 32 hours of labor.  He weighed in at 8 pounds 14 ounces and was 21 inches long.  I ended up having an epidural right at the end.  It had been 29 hours and I couldn’t catch my breath.  I might just lead with that from now on.  It was awesome.  Anyway, New Baby has grown tremendously in the last nine months and got his first tooth from Santa for Christmas.
  2. Get back to pre-baby weight.  Check!  I am down to where I was before I was pregnant with Toddler. 
  3. Start doing pregnancy yoga again.  That was kinda hit or miss.  What can I say?  I’m a work in progress.
  4. Date my husband more often.  We got to go on exactly 2 out-of-house dates this year.  However, that was more than we got last year, so I’m thankful.  We did get to spend a lot of quality time together, which is awesome.
  5. Drink more water.  I’m doing better.  Still have room for improvement.  Still don’t like water. 
  6. Plant a garden!  Maybe in 2014…
  7. Reorganize my kitchen.  Yes and no.  I reorganized the dish and canned goods cabinets and replaced my pots and pans and Rubbermaid containers.  I also got 2 new chef’s knives for Christmas from my in-laws.  They’re awesome, but I have to confess that I’m a little afraid of them still.  I still have to go through my spice and medicine cabinets.
  8. Get an A in my BMIS 330 class.  I got an A!  I also got A’s in 4 other classes and changed my major.
  9. Maintain academic excellence in our little home school and have fun doing it.  Check!
  10. More of the good stuff.  Music, painting/drawing, reading, family game nights, kitchen science, writing, homemade Christmas presents…you get the idea.  I started teaching piano again this year, so that’s more music.  I painted 4 canvases as well as the ceramic ornaments for all of my kiddies’ grandparents.  I read a lot of textbooks.  We did have several family game nights, which were a blast!  Kitchen science…does creating a few new recipes count?  I wrote a metric butt-ton of papers.  And did make a few of the Christmas presents this year.  So I guess…check!

Stay tuned for a recap of the high points of 2013 and the list of non-resolutions for 2014!

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I Hereby Resolve…

…To not make any resolutions.  Per se.  However, there are several things on my “to do” list this year (ain’t there always?) that I am enlisting you, Dear Reader, to give me accountability on getting finished by New Year’s Eve 2013.

  1. Have my baby.  Happily, this isn’t anything that I can avoid, so I’m putting it first on this list.  He’s coming out, whether I’m ready or not.  However, my goal is to have him naturally…sans pain medication…just like I did with his brother.  Now that I’ve written that, I get accountability.  See how this works?
  2. Get back to pre-baby weight.  New Baby and I have thus far kept everything under control.  Here’s to keeping it that way for the home stretch.
  3. In keeping with the theme of number 2, start doing pregnancy yoga again.  I’m feeling creaky.
  4. Date my husband more often.  Sometimes I seem to lose sight of him amidst the laundry, grading schoolwork and dirty diapers.  As he is the most awesome husband in the world, this is completely unsat.  Yes, I used a Navy term.  Deal with it.  By the way, he just painted my toenails for me since I am having a really hard time reaching my toes these days.  They’re so pretty and festive!  He rocks!
  5. Drink more water.  I try…I really do.  But water is so…meh.  This is where I should probably make a note to self to buy lemons the next time I go to the grocery store.
  6. Plant a garden!  It’s a win-win…sunshine for me, the babies and Oldest…plus, we get fresh veggies.  In theory.  Of course, I’m not trying to feed the legions of squirrels and rabbits in my yard/neighborhood, so I need to figure out a way to critter-proof this hypothetical garden before making it a reality.  The local wildlife do not seem to fear my dogs.  My beagle, however, is utterly terrified of said wildlife.  To be honest, I’m not entirely certain he knows what’s out there.  There seems to be a huge gap between his brain and his smeller.
  7. Reorganize my kitchen.  I’m spending a lot more time there than I have previously…well, ever in my life, unless we’re counting the years of washing dishes by hand as a kid.  Therefore, what was heretofore acceptable for occasional bits of culinary awesomeness is no longer okay.  Neither is that pan that scorches anything within a two-mile radius.
  8. Get an A in my BMIS 330 class.  Oh, yeah.  I should probably finish the class before New Baby arrives.  It’s supposed to end three weeks before my due date.  What was I thinking?!!  Maybe I’ll even get to take another class during the fall semester.  So, get an A in whatever class that ends up being.
  9. Maintain academic excellence in our little home school and have fun doing it.
  10. More of the good stuff.  Music, painting/drawing, reading, family game nights, kitchen science, writing, homemade Christmas presents…you get the idea.

Thanks in advance for your time and assistance!  Hopefully when we do the outbrief at the end of this year, I’ll have ten line items marked as complete.  I’ll keep you posted throughout the year!

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