Feel Good Friday: Night, Y’all

OK, I’ve overplayed my hand here – but this sort of thing is right up my alley.  I wish I could tell you how much I love this one:


Yes, it’s sarcastic.  But, once a song is released, it belongs to the imagination of the listener.  I like it at face value. 

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Feel Good Friday: Wagon Wheel

I like Sharon Cobb’s example, so I’ll play along. 

Normally, taking an unfinished, unreleased Bob Dylan chorus and finishing it out with your own verses and melody would be considered the height of arrogance and folly.  But for some reason, Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” is simply soul-satisfying:

This song just makes me happy.  Maybe it’s that Ketch Secor borrows heavily from Dylan’s nasal-whiny style.  Perhaps it the 1-5-3m-4 progression that just screams “blissfully meloncholy”.   BTW, it’s the same progression as Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m goin’ Down”, and about a million other songs.

But anyway, enjoy.  And remember: if you die in Raleigh, at least you will die free.

UPDATE: I just realized, it’s a 1-5-6m-4 progression.  In C it would be the A-minor.  Although the E-minor would be an interesting touch, it would totally change the feel of the song.

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Parental Guilt

One thing they don’t warn you about when you first become a parent: the most prevalent emotion you will feel from day one is self doubt, and it never goes away.

Now, the media doesn’t help things.  On television, May sweeps are pretty much over, and I purposely did NOT watch the evening news, but I’ll guarantee you there were dozens of stories about everyday household items or activities that are “putting your family in danger!”  And don’t get me started about womens magazines

Throw in religion (will he rebel and become a heathen?) and politics (am I giving her the proper girl-empowering instruction?), and a parent will never be steady on his feet. 

And parenthood is one of the few jobs where other people feel quite free to tell you what a crappy job you’re doing.  From in-laws to complete strangers, from glares at Walmart to comments at church, EVERYBODY has an opinion on how you are raising your children.  And at any given time, someone will hold the opinion that you are ruining your kids forever. 

With all of this as a backdrop, I’m feeling a good amount of self-doubt right now.  My kids are 425 miles away, staying with my parents for two weeks.

Now, this is something we planned for a long time.   It’s the lemonade we’ve made out of the lemon facts that my kids rarely get to see their grandparents, and Lintilla used all of her time off for the year having surgery – meaning there would be no family vacation this year.  Yet, when we did the parentally responsible thing and signed forms to give my parents consent to seek medical treatment for the kids (just in case), it really made it, well, real.  For the next two weeks, the health and safety and well being of my kids is completely out of my hands.

Never mind that my parents successfully raised three boys, and have three other grown grandchildren they’ve had visit over the years.  I know those facts in my mind, but they have not yet registered in my heart.  I feel like the worst parent in the world.

I feel like the self-absorbed parents in On Golden Pond, who dumped off their son/stepson with the grandparents while they went to “find themselves”.

The facts on the ground are entirely different, but that’s how I feel.

Of course, when we called last night, Zaphod was all excited because my folks had let them have a water balloon fight in the backyard.  Water balloons.  Lintilla and I spend a fortune on electronic gizmos to keep our children entertained and engaged.  My folks spend a dollar fifty and our kids have the time of their lives.

Today, they are fishing.  And I’m sure that, unlike when I take them fishing, they’ll actually catch something.  Later in the week, they’ll go to museums (LOTS of military museums in that area of Florida), and eventually hit the beach.  They’ve also found a public pool, and I know Zaphod and Trillian will have a blast there.

When I think of it, my worry changes from one of them getting homesick to the probability that they WON’T get homesick.  Will they be upset when we bring them home in a couple of weeks?

As far as Lintilla and I?  We’re mostly cleaning (when we’re not working), but I have every intention of taking her on a bonafied grown up date this Friday or Saturday. 

Anyway, I don’t know if age 10 and 11 is the right age to allow them to do this sort of thing.  Lintilla and I have a tendency to just jump into things parentally, and hope that we are doing the right thing.

I’m pretty sure we are, but if not, I’m sure there are people who will feel free to let us know.

There Is No End To A Father’s Love

My heart is breaking for Steven Curtis Chapman this morning.

His daughter Maria, just five years old, was struck and killed in Chapman’s driveway yesterday afternoon.  According to the Tennessean, the SUV that struck the little girl was driven by Chapman’s teenage son.  He never saw her.

I’ve always felt a bond with Chapman, and not just because he was a proponent of international adoption.  We met him and his wife MaryBeth at an event for our the adoption agency that helped our kids come home, and they were as warm and personable as could be.  It was obvious that Steven had that incredible, deep abiding love for his children, and he understood the joys and challenges of raising a child who was born on the other side of the world.

There are many misconceptions about adoption, especially international adoption.  Please do not think that the pain is any less for Chapman because Maria was not his biological offspring.  I can tell you that the sought-after child holds a place in your heart that you can never get back.

My daughter has recently become a daddy’s girl (finally!), and with every hug and “I love you”, the thought of losing her becomes more and more inconceivable to me.  I cannot help but to weep at the mere thought.

I pray that Steven Curtis Chapman can feel the loving embrace of his Heavenly Father in this awful, awful time.  One thing adoptive fathers understand instinctively is that no child is ‘ours’ – they belong to God, and only come under our care for a while.  She is back with Him today, and I pray that Steven can find at least a small measure of solace from that knowledge.

Goodnight, Good Ole World

In case you haven’t figured it out, I love sugary sweet things.  My kids  and I are really digging on this right now.

What a nice tune before bedtime!  Enjoy.

I Only Know Three Chords!

Lintilla and I were reminiscing about Cheech and Chong last night (don’t ask me why).  The kids overheard us, and wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

They’ve now discovered Ear Ache My Eye.

This really isn’t much of a video, but the audio is what’s important here.  I absolutely wore Cheech and Chong’s Wedding Album out back in the day.

Oh, Lord, I pray they don’t ever ask about Richard Pryor! I might be forced to tell them about Little Baby Feets.

Pardon This Moment of Parental Pride

They had the academic awards ceremony at my kids’ school last night.  It’s rough, because it’s easy to get caught up in the whole competitive nature of these things.  It’s an academic-oriented school, so for many of the kids and parents, last night was their Raison d’être.

Last year, we left the ceremony wondering what was wrong with our kids, since they had only won a few awards, while a some others won anywhere from 7-10.  The next day, I looked at Lintilla and said, “What are we doing?”  Our kids are well-balanced, very good students, and all around good kids. Isn’t that what we wanted when we prayed for children?” 

We promised ourselves that this year would be different, and I’m proud to say, it was.  We kept things in perspective, and made sure to let the kids know that we are super-proud of their accomplishments this year.

Zaphod won an Accelerated Reader award, which wasn’t a surprise.  That boy has a book in his hand at all times.  He reads for pleasure, which came in handy during his recent grounding.  He led his class in Accelerated Reader points.  For those of you who are curious, he prefers science fiction/fantasy, just like his old man did.

Trillian won an award for excellence in science, and another one for social studies.  She is very, very strong in these two subjects – I don’t think she got below an A on either one this year.

Now, she was upset because they don’t start honor roll until 5th grade, and she would have made it this year.  Zaphod was upset because he didn’t have perfect attendance for the second straight year.  We reminded him that his mother had a major medical diagnosis this year, and that he had perfect attendance for the days Lintilla wasn’t in the hospital.

I want to also add that Zaphod took his Accelerated Math test yesterday, got 100%, then turned around and took another in the same day!  I’ll be doggonned if he isn’t going to get an “A” in that class, the one that got him grounded last six weeks, the one we were afraid he’d get another “D” in.

We pushed the heck out of him this six weeks, when it came to math.  We asked him every single day, “Did you take a test today?  Did you take a test today?”.  I’m somewhat surprised that all that pushing ended up having spectacular results.  It occurred to me that, had I pushed my kids in this way in all their classes this year, they’d be the ones getting award after award after award.

But this, I will not do.  There is so much more involved in raising my kids than just academics.  There’s music, and church, and fishing, and the proper way to eat over-medium eggs.  There’s laughter, and service, and games of Monopoly, and political discussions (we’ve actually had a few lately).  There are scales to play and bases to run.  There are cakes to bake and sleepovers to attend.

And soon, very soon, there will be attentions turned to the opposite sex.  But I’d rather not think about that.

Our parental motto from the beginning has been; Smart is Easy.  Good is Hard.  What that motto really says is where we place our emphasis as parents.  We have chosen to focus on the latter, and I think we’ve been somewhat successful.  The kids are not perfect, but they really are “good” kids.  I’m quite proud of them.

We chose an emphasis that probably means they won’t be valdedictorians.  I can live with that.  All we’ve ever asked of them academically is try their best.

I really am a proud papa today.

A Visual Feast

Taylor Swift isn’t my cup of tea.  She’s fine as a performer, it’s just that I outgrew the subject matter of her songs years ago.

But this was awesome.

Yeah country has gone Hollywood, yada,yada…these complaints have been going on for about 100 years now.  Yeah, she has a hard time keeping pitch.  How did you do (while moving around) at that age?

Anyway, I tip my hat to anyone who understands the virtue of showmanship.  You go, girl.

Thoughts From My Weekend

  • It’s funny sometimes, the things we use to mark the passage of time.  I receive exactly two sunburns a year.  I ALWAYS burn at the first Titans home game, and I always, always,always get my first sunburn of the year at the Bellevue Picnic.  You’d think one day I’d learn to use sunscreen on those two days.
  • We played at West Nashville Baptist church yesterday, and it was quite a blessing.  This was the first time we have done an altar call where someone answered the call.  Having been a Methodist for six years , but having been a Baptist in my youth, I had forgotten just how emotional a moment like that can be.  I had a hard time playing, with tears welling up in my eyes, seeing a young man “come to the Lord”, as we used to say.
  • I really like the pastor.  He spoke of an evangelical and charismatic movement within mainline churches, and he used the term Pentebaptist to describe himself, and Methocostals to describe the members of X-Alt.  I like it.  I am proud to call myself a Methocostal.  It describes my beliefs perfectly.
  • Luke 21:1-4
    As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.”I tell you the truth,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”  – I’ve understood this verse for years, but I’ve really never felt it before, until yesterday.  I don’t know how much more I can say, except that I’m in awe and that some gifts are very hard to accept.
  • I got lost finding the church yesterday, and in my wandering around I discovered something shocking:  there are parts of The Nations that are being gentrified.  The NATIONS!  What’s next?  Woodbine?  Could be. It didn’t seem so long ago, I couldn’t go into Sylvan Park after dark, for fear of crime.  Now, i can’t go into Sylvan Park after dark because I might get pulled over for disturbing the trendy rich people.  Life is strange, if you live it long enough.
  • Susie had a little mishap with her car yesterday.  I know it was upsetting, and I’m sorry for the damage to her car.  BUT, I am grateful that it was only a replaceable window that was lost, and not my dear friend and singing partner.
  • To all you young people: getting old sucks.  Beats the alternative, but it sucks nonetheless.  During the load-out yesterday, I must have pulled something in my back, overcompensating for my tailbone injury.  Now, I hurt from my back all the way down to my backside.  Drugs.  More drugs.
  • I am REALLY looking forward to seeing my parents and brother this weekend.  It’s a long drive, (and we’re making two round trips in two weeks), but it will be worth it to see family, and to allow my kids to have their first little taste of independence, and grand-parental spoiling.
  • Boy, what a difference new tires make on a Chrysler Town and Country!
  • The weekend is too short.

Is There, Like, A Manual For This?

We’re starting to enter “girls are from another planet territory” at our house.  Picking up the children after field day yesterday, I was informed by both of them that they are social outcasts.

I don’t remember this sort of thing happening till junior high, but, OK…

Because I can only handle one drama at a time, and because my son elbows his way into attention while we’re in the car, I spoke to Zaphod first.  And I was pleased to find out that his problem was something I could deal with.

Apparently, he’s a lot like I was in school; never approaching or talking to anyone, then wondering why nobody ever speaks to him.  Having lived through this, I went into the whole “If you want a friend, you have to BE a friend” lecture.  We talked about inviting some of his classmates over for sleepovers during the summer.  But first, we have to get his room into habitable condition.

It was all very manly: We identified the problem.  We engineered a solution.  We’re beginning to execute it.

Then, it was my daughter’s turn.

I’m not an idiot – I sent Zaphod out of the room to do something else.  After a few minutes, Trillian opened up to me.  She spoke to me a while; sometimes in tears, sometimes not.  I gathered a few names, and got the idea that the problem involved who was speaking to whom, and who sympathized with whom when they cried, and who shared their lunch with whom, and who they didn’t.

In the end, I’ll be honest with you, I had no idea what she was talking about.

But it was obvious that it was important to HER, and that was all that mattered.  I’ve been married for a long time, and one thing I know is that when a female is talking to you like this, the absolute best thing a man can do is LISTEN.  No plans, no execution.  Just be the wall for the female to bounce the handball of her problems off.

I did this, and told Trillian to wait until Lintilla got home to talk about it some more, because Lintilla used to be a girl.  Trillian found this funny, and I finally got a laugh out of her.

I did gather that Trillian has a problem that I can’t relate to, because I went to such a large school that there were sub-cliques I could “hide” in and take solace in.  There was still somewhere where I could belong.  Unfortunately, there are only 12 girls in the whole 4th grade at her school.  There’s pretty much just room for one clique.

But there are two things I know.  She DOES have friends (two in particular socialise with Trillian quite often), and this kind of thing sure starts earlier these days than  I remember it.

Anyway, to a man, it’s hard to tell if playing “problem handball” with a female does any good.  There’s no outcome, no solution.

But later that night, as Lintilla helped Trillian get into bed, Trillian said, “Tell Daddy I love him.”  This isn’t the kind of thing she says all the time.

So, I guess I weathered my first female school drama test.