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.