We Listen to Music

One of the Princess’ friends made a comment to her that we always have the music on – at home, in the car, everywhere we go. And we do – we always have music on (unless we have the news, sports, or our favorite shows on tv going).  We listen to all kinds of music. If you put my iPod on total shuffle, you’ll hear everything from video game music to movie soundtracks, classical to hip hop,  Broadway to ballet music,  country to Christian,  gangsta rap to the Brat Pack, and Pop to hard/hair band rock.

I learned an appreciation for music basically from birth. My family always had music on, as well as my godmother/babysitter/second mom. I grew up to a varied soundtrack. We knew when the music turned on every Saturday morning. that was our cue to start our chores. We heard Neil Diamond and Elvis mostly, but also my mom’s favorite old-school, twangy country music, and the old standards for my dad – Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Nat King Cole. In the car, out by the pool, camping trips, on the boat – music was always on. From my godmother – a bit younger than my parents – I gained an introduction to the Beatles, Peter, Paul & Mary, and whatever was contemporary at the time. My godmother also took us to church every Sunday. I sang in the youth choir, learned all those good Lutheran hymns, and all our VBS/Sunday School songs, which we loved (at that young age) to belt out in the car, and around her house. My brother, four years older than I, started listening to his own music in middle school, and we’re talking late 70’s/early 80’s, so disco, Journey, KISS, Styx, Queen, Abba, Boston, Kansas, and the Eagles were added to my life soundtrack. I think I got my first PlaySchool plastic record player when I was about four. My first album was Peaches & Herb (that’s a little terrifying), followed by the Grease soundtrack, Andy Gibb, Sean Cassidy, and Donny Osmond (no jokes regarding my age, please!).

High School brought a new soundtrack, but the music definitely continued to play, all the time. INXS, Prince, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and The Time take me back to dances in the cafeteria after football games. I can almost feel the cool fall night air, remember clearly sitting on the benches outside the cafeteria where we talked with our friends and waited to be asked to dance by that certain someone who’d caught our eye that week/month. Chicago always reminds me of hanging out by the pool of my best friend’s neighbor, or sitting in her room doing homework. Janet Jackson’s Control and Run DMC’s You Be Illin have me dancing cheer routines from Homecoming and Hoopla. Beastie Boys takes me back to being on the bus to basketball games – Funny how you can remember the lyrics to every song on one particular album, including the order the songs were in, 30 years later, but can’t remember what you ate for lunch three hours ago. Paul Revere anyone? Fight for Your Right? Girls? Oh  yeah…..And don’t even get me started on the soundtracks to Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Breakfast Club. Sigh…Jake Ryan and Blane….mmmmmmmm…..

My college soundtrack covered the end of the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s. I went from the scene in Santa Barbara – Oingo Boingo, UB40, the Cure, and U2 – to the Central Valley of CA and hip hop/dance music including MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Kriss Kross, and Color Me Badd. I spent hours driving to and from Santa Barbara listening to Kylie Minogue, Amy Grant, Michael  W Smith, and Debby Gibson.

Nearly every relationship has a playlist. Every single time I hear The Outfield, I’m once again riding in my first boyfriend’s truck (or his daddy’s Porsche, but that’s another story for another day). Garth Brook’s Friends in Low Places comes on and I’m at one of many college parties, with some awful memories attached to that particular disastrous relationship – but I still love that song. LL Cool J and Jodeci play, and I’m in J’s truck driving to our first vacation together in Tahoe. (It seems I dated a few boys who drove trucks) Color Me Badd songs remind me of following my end-of-and-just-out-of-college boyfriend to Chico for the baseball team’s games, and some of the ball players doing a crazy-good job of lip-syncing and dancing in some bar there.

Everyone who’s had someone has also lost someone. I have my sad break-up songs, my angry break-up songs, my revenge music.

Then there’s Spouse. We have our own soundtrack, and it’s pretty long. We met in a country bar, so that genre has always been part of us. Garth Brooks played at our wedding, as did Clay Walker, and Shania Twain. We also both love to dance, so any pop/dance music from the last twenty years goes on our soundtrack too. Loving, and actually being able to dance was one of my top requirements for the man I would spend my  life with. Spouse qualifies.

I have my own playlists for each of them. For Big Man, there are the songs that remind me of driving to and from the NICU – He’s My Son, and Creed’s Arms Wide Open. Wake Me Up When September Ends will always, always make me cry,  because it takes me back to that month – the month he was born, the month I lost everything I dreamed of when I got pregnant with him, and gained a tiny, two-pound, fragile, miracle of a child. For P, our only girl, My Little Girl, I Loved Her First, and Slipping Through My Fingers will remind us how quickly she’s growing up, that someday she’ll belong to someone else. I hear Nutcracker music, or any of the songs she’s danced solos to, and I can see her dancing in my head. Taylor Swift reminds me of the concerts we’ve gone to, For Good from Wicked reminds me of singing in the car with her (which we do a lot). I’m watching my kids develop their personal life-soundtracks now too. P is already planning the playlist for her Sweet Sixteen party, and I’m sure she will carry those songs with her for the rest of her life, as a captured memory of that night.

One of my FB memories the other day was when Little Man was little, and was singing Sexy Back loudly from his carseat in the second row of my SUV. Not embarrassing at all to pull up at a light, windows open, and your toddler is singing about bringing sexy back. Mother of the Year.

We do listen to music, all the time. It can reflect a mood, improve a mood, or set a mood. Music is part of our family fabric. What’s on your life soundtrack?

Friday Music

Since I was in high school, and Friday afternoons were spent getting ready to go to football games, basketball games, and dances, there’s been a certain kind of music playlist. I always just called it Friday Music….you know what I’m talking about, right? Don’t Friday afternoons have a different feeling than all the other afternoons in the week? School has ended for the week, work is out for the weekend. It’s kind of a celebration of surviving yet another week.

My sister and I shared an apartment my junior year of college. We’d come home from our classes and turn on our Friday music. It would blast while we got ready for whatever party, game, or dance we were going to that night. There was quite a bit of dance music – think late-80’s stuff. We’d listen to the Cure, Janet Jackson, Beastie Boys, and U2, as well as whatever else was striking our fancy as pre-party music. We never questioned turning the Friday Music on. It was expected.

When the kids were little, I stopped listening to my Friday music. I’m not really sure why. Fridays didn’t mean going out anymore. Spouse and I were typically exhausted by Friday evening each week – date nights and parties were left to Saturday nights, when we’d had a day to recover from a week of work and taking care of toddlers. But now my kids are older. I spend Friday afternoons watching my cheerleader get ready for games with her fellow cheerleaders. Spouse and I might go out afterwards. That freedom, that feeling of celebration has returned. Friday afternoons once again require a certain kind of music, a special playlist all its own.  My Friday Music playlist still has a lot of Janet Jackson and Beastie Boys, but also Tupac, Dr. Dre, Eminem, early-90’s hip hop and rap, and a bunch of current stuff. Friday Music is whatever makes you dance.

Do you have a Friday Music playlist? Who’s on it?

Too Many Words

In all the insanity leading up to the election, and then all the fallout afterwards, I reached a place of there just being too many words in the world. I needed to not hear so many words. The day after the election, I went to turn on my usual Pandora shuffle while I worked, and was immediately overwhelmed. I’d already turned off the television. The house was too quiet, but I craved an absence of talking, of words flowing at me. I plugged in some favorite classical composers, and felt immediate calm as familiar pieces streamed from my computer.

It’s been over a week now. I still have classical music streaming….Bach, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Strauss, Tchaikovsky, Handel, Chopin, Copland, Haydn, Mozart…..I played the clarinet in orchestra and chamber ensemble all through high school. So many pieces are so familiar, played many times during those years, rehearsed over and over for hours on end. I’ve missed classical music.

Eight days later, and this music is what I keep returning to. I do have regular satellite radio in the car, but it quickly overwhelms lately. I think it might be awhile that I need less words in my day. This is the easiest way to take it down a level, and just breath. I highly recommend it.

The School Dance

Little Man is in seventh grade, which is technically  middle school around here. Middle school is 6th through 8th grade. His school though is really more of an extended, upper-grade elementary school, 4th through 8th grades (it’s 4-7 this year, and will go 4-8 next year).  They don’t change classrooms and teachers for every subject (he has math and science with one teacher, language arts and social studies with another teacher). They don’t have a locker room nor do they change for PE. The school looks and feels like an elementary school, for the most part.

The staff does realize their school is unique, which is great, but it also means they need to take steps as the kids progress to those upper grades on campus to prepare them for high school. With that in mind, the sixth and seventh grade leadership asked to be able to hold a dance for just their grades, for Halloween. I didn’t think anything of it when we got the recorded call from school with all the info. I didn’t think there was any way Little Man would willingly go to a school dance. So imagine my surprise when he brought the permission slip to me to sign! He wanted to go. All-righty then!

The dance was after school yesterday, running from 3pm – 4:15. I’d talked to him over the weekend and again yesterday morning he would have to stay the entire time as we were carpooling with his friend A, who is also in seventh grade. He seemed to get it. And he seemed okay with it. I told him to expect it to be loud.  “No worries, mom, I have my headphones!”

It was 3:20 when my phone pinged with a text. He said it was really loud. I told him to put his headphones on. He said he did, but it was still too loud. I reminded him I’d told him I was not going to pick him up early, and then when he asked why, I reminded him we were carpooling and it wouldn’t be fair to make A leave early when he was having a good time. Little Man sucked it up.

I arrived at school right at 4:15. I could see him pacing in the lobby. He had his headphones on, backpack in hand, ready to bolt out the door. One of my friends said he’d been there for some time, pacing and anxious. I could see the stress on his face. I don’t count it as a loss however. He went to a school dance. Yes, he only stayed in there for maybe a half an hour at maximum, but he went. He put himself into a social situation willingly.  He didn’t stay inside the entire time, but he went. My autistic child went to a school dance of his own volition. Isn’t that awesome?

Walk-Up Song

I love baseball – love watching it, going to games. One of my favorite parts of going to a baseball game is hearing what each home player’s walk-up song is. What’s a walk-up song? It’s the song each player from the home team has chosen to hear as he approaches home plate for his at-bat. It’s a song that pumps him up,  helps him get in the zone, and it’s personal to each player. I can tell who’s coming up to bat for my favorite team just by what walk-up song is playing.

My running playlist is full of my own personal walk-up songs….songs that help me run faster, stay focused, or just keep moving. There are the songs that help me through that last miserable mile of a long run, songs that help me bust it up a hill, songs that make me feel strong, songs that help me cool down. Some of them are angry and full of foul language. Some are inspiring, lifting me up when I think I can’t run one more step. Some of them are those songs that get your fist pumping, head bobbing, nothing-can-stop-me-now songs.

I use walk-up songs in day-to-day life as well. If I’m going into an event, class, or meeting by myself, I’ll play a song in the car before walking in to help boost me up, give me confidence. If I’m giving a speech, or talking to a group, telling  Big Man’s story, or going into an IEP meeting for Little Man, I’ll play a song I know will make me feel strong, confident, focused. The kids have songs they like to hear before games, competitions, presentations. We used to play “Eye of the Tiger” on our way to the soccer fields every Saturday way back when. They still laugh when they hear it now. Princess chose one of her walk-up songs for her contemporary solo last year.

Do you have a walk-up song? What is it?

Wrapping my mind back around it

I am finally back on my full running schedule, without pain, which is awesome. I’m trying to ramp the miles back up slowly, and am taking care to really stretch completely afterwards, as well as foam rolling pre-run.  I am so happy to be out there again, especially without any knee, hip, IT, or Achilles pain.

The thing I didn’t count on was the mental drain. I have yet to go over five miles, and that was a struggle mentally the last 1.5.  I was bored. I was mentally tired. I have plans to go for six tomorrow morning, and already my mind is going, “uhhhhhhh……”  This part of running distance sucks – getting your mind to go along with it while you’re in it. It truly is a mental challenge.

I think it’s time to completely revamp my running playlist. It’s old. I’ve added and subtracted some over the last few years, but I believe I need to ditch it and, with a few exceptions, start all over again. Maybe that will help with the mental drag?

I used to become more mentally focused as I ran, writing blog posts in my head. Now, my mind scatters, and I can’t grasp on to even a wisp of a thought.  The mind is a muscle, apparently, and it’ll have to get back up to speed just like the body.  It’s going to take some work.

Music suggestions welcomed, as are any training tips to get the mind to stick it out for long distances.

Friday Favorites #12

Hey!! The Herd reached 400 followers (Plus!) this week!!! Can I get a Wooooohooooo????!!!!! I know some of you have ten times that and more, but for this humble momma blogger, I’m pretty excited! Thank you all those who’ve joined our crazy ride.

In an update to the cat saga post yesterday, Willie visited the vet this morning (yes, there was lots of yowling in the cat carrier on the way there and back). He had the drain removed, ditched the cone, and was declared “healing nicely”. He’s still on house arrest for a few more days. He spent over an hour bathing himself once we got home. He’s a much happier kitty, until I have to give him his medicine later.

What’s on  your weekend agenda? The Princess and I are going to a musical tonight. One of her besties has a lead role. Super fun. The men are going to the movies, I think. It’s Nutcracker all day tomorrow for the P. Spouse and I head downtown for a bike bar thingy. I’d never heard of it before a few weeks ago. Maybe photos will be shared next week. Maybe not. There are adult beverages involved after all.

I know you’ve all been patiently waiting (right?) so here’s the list for this week’s Friday Favorites:

  • Linda G Hill shared a gorgeous photo. I want to go there. The sky a beautiful blue, with puffy white clouds reflecting in the water below. Peace.
  • Kids re-enacting the Republican debate? Yes please. Thanks, Luther at Infinitefreetime.com  Made us all laugh.
  • Adoption carries so much more than just adopting a baby and bringing him home. Riddle from the Middle shares some of the difficulties. I love her honestly. Thank you for sharing.
  • You Can’t Argue With Crazy wrote her hundredth post!! Go show her some love. She writes some good stuff.
  • Who knew Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was 40 years old? Good grief. That makes me feel so old!!! David Snape and Friends asks the question, “Do you think this is the best song ever?” I love music. I listen to so many genres and have all my life. The Beatles “Imagine” is one of my all-time favs. But when the Eagles “Hotel California” comes on, the radio always gets blasted. I could say that of so many songs. And I dare ya to listen to Bohemian Rhapsody without banging your head a la Wayne and Garth.
  • Emma of Blu Chicken Ninja has written a pen review before. Have I mentioned I LOVE pens? I can and will spend hours in an office supply store testing pens. She wrote a new review on some gel pens. I think I need these!
  • Having a high schooler is stressful. We put pressure on him, his teachers put pressure on him, he puts pressure on himself. These four years are so important, so pivotal in what happens after high school. We’re trying so very hard to find a good balance for him, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the ultra-competitive nature that is getting your children into “good” colleges. Milagro Momma at Miracles in the Mundane writes so eloquently on this issue.
  • Part of having a kid on any kind of competitive team is fundraising. We’ve been holding bake sales at the dance studio to raise money for costumes, competition fees, and private lesson fees for the Princess’ competition dance ensemble. The theme this week is Fall goodies, so I was super excited to find this recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes at …and a sprinkle of love. Going to test this one out.  I’ll let you  know the verdict, but they sound so freakin tasty!
  • Pets…..on iPads….nuff said. Cute Overload

Happy Weekend!!!