Wednesday, March 18, 2009

When your sweet lilting laughter's

Like some fairy song,

And your eyes twinkle bright as can be;

You should laugh all the while

And all other times smile,

And now, smile a smile for me.

Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr. -- "When Irish Eyes are Smiling"

Confession time: when I began LDWSP I made a deal to challenge myself by beginning each post with only the lyrics of songs I know. I had to make a slight exception for this one, because though I am well aware of the chorus (who has been to a bar on St. Patty's and isn't?) I was clueless about the rest of the lyrics. Not only did I have to look them up but I had to research the writers as well. I won't make a habit of it, but the only other Irish songs I know are all depressing. Besides, Kate has a lovely smile, doesn't she?

Now let me just say up front that I am not Irish. In fact, my family is decidedly Scottish. I come from the McKay clan on both maternal and paternal sides. Weird, I know. We aren't from West Virginia, I promise. This was generations ago (I hope...).
So is it sacrilege for me to celebrate St. Patrick's Day? Probably. But when your sister marries an Irish descendant, your nephew is named Rowen (with reddish hair, not less), and your daughter is born a few days before St. Pat's it's an easy theme. And a fun one.

I think Kate had a great time during her weekend-long birthday revelry. To help her feel better about being apart from her friends on her birthday I followed my friend Janice's perennial party advice and "threw money at the problem". I bought a variety of sparkly tattoos, fancy headgear, decorations, lots of Irish goodies, made an Irish cake and an Irish-themed game, and made reservations at our favorite Irish pub. The only glitch in the whole Irish extravaganza was a lack of green bagels; apparently they weren't making them until Sunday. Oh well. There was more than enough green to make up for it; if you look closely you can see that I am even sporting some green sparkly nail polish to match my tattoo.

To add to the excitement the Short People had a real, live baby doll to entertain. Even Kate, who was not too excited about a baby, and a boy baby at that, was entranced by Rowen. He is a cutie, isn't he? Their fascination led to a fervent desire to care for their own baby dolls, so our den was littered with babies, clothes, diapers, bottles and accessories for real and fake babies alike. Made me have a few brief (very brief) pangs to have another. Don't worry, Tracy, it won't last.

We celebrated Kate's birthday in Irish style, but we also honored a few other occasions. My parents had their 40th wedding anniversary in January, my father turned 60 in February, and Derek had a birthday earlier in the month so we were a partying group. Mom and Dad are going to the Angus Barn for a private meal for two cooked in front of them with one of their renowned chefs, and Derek got a pub tee and some good beer...what can I say, I told you he was Irish! Since my parents are enjoying a second childhood as music groupies we treated my father to tickets to see Delbert McClinton at the Birchmere. He is famous for guessing his gifts so Clare and I decided to fool him. His certificate was taped to a rock (to weight the present) and labeled "and roll". Rock and Roll...get it?

I don't know, do you think he is excited about his gift?

Thanks for a great weekend, everyone. We miss you already!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's new pussycat?

What's new pussycat?
Pussycat, pussycat I love you.
Yes, I do.
Tom Jones -- "What's New Pussycat?"

What's new is that you are FIVE today.


Kate was born loving cats. As a result of this affinity she changed her name at age 3. She informed us..."I not Tate (she couldn't pronounce her "k"s so she was "Tate", not Kate). I Titty Tat Tate!". From that day on her name has been Kitty Cat Kate. Too bad Tracy is allergic to cats or she would be getting a kitten for her birthday. Poor girl has to resign herself to the stuffed animal kind, of which she has a bevy.

When we moved, our friend Sally made a mix cd of classic 60s hits for us to listen to on our trip. By far Kate's favorite song is this annoying little Tom Jones number. She listens to it over and over and warbles along, especially on the "whoooaaah"s. Gee, thanks Sally! Haven't figured out how to pay you back yet, but I will think of something.

It is difficult to turn 5 when you don't have many friends in town to celebrate with. She has selected blueberry pancakes, saucheege (sausage) and scrambled eggs for her birthday dinner. She already received the aforementioned Dan Zanes tickets (see previous post), but will have a couple of other surprises to open as well.

Kate had another birthday celebration when Tracy's parents visited two weeks ago. They brought with them a new big girl bike! A wonderful gift, especially now that we have a normal, paved drive instead of crushed clamshells. She is enjoying zooming around with all the neighbor girls.

On Saturday all of my family is coming to party down for a big St. Patrick's Day themed birthday party. We're serving all green foods including a green cake, green ice cream, sandwiches on green bagels and green punch. We'll play a rousing game of "pin the gold on the pot at the end of the rainbow" and later we will head to an Irish pub for dinner. We also plan to celebrate my brother-in-law Derek's birthday, and since he is Irish it's a great pick.

Maybe Kate would agree to go with the St. Patrick's Day theme every year. Who can beat green beer?

Monday, March 09, 2009

House Party Time

jump up

day is breaking
jump up
let's get shaking
i know you're lying down
jump up and we'll dance around...

jump up
clouds are passing
look up
the sky is laughing
i know we'll be laughing too
jump up i want to dance with you

Dan Zanes -- "Jump Up"

We here at Long Day With Short People are music snobs. When the Short People were born we vowed never to listen to the dreaded children's music, a genre we hate for it's sacchirine singing, cutesy sentiments and just plain bad musicianship. Anyone who has ever felt their eardrums bleed from listening to 25 rounds of Barney's "I love love me..." or happened upon The Wiggles will understand.

When we had our first Short Person I didn't know any children's lullabies so our girls have grown up being soothed to The Beatles "In My Life" or this lovely Tom Petty song (can't remember the name...the Short People call it "Daddy's Song) as we tuck them in bed. I will never forget India's first Mommy and Me swim class where I was the only Mommy who did not know the words to "The Wheels on the Bus". Unfortunately, I know them now. My mother, sister and I prefer to make up our own irreverent lyrics to that one... but that's another blog.

A few years ago I was pleasantly surprised to discovered Dan Zanes and Friends. A former member of the 80s band the Del Fuegos, Dan Zanes plays "family music" which is code for "music that doesn't suck". His stuff is so good that once my parents heard a couple songs and asked us to burn a copy for them, not knowing it was a CD for children. The New York Times wrote that “Zanes' kids music works because it is not kids music; it’s just music - music that’s unsanitized, unpasteurized, that’s organic even.”

So when I learned that Dan Zanes was going to appear in concert the weekend before Kate's birthday we decided that would be a fun early birthday present. We weren't disappointed. I actually think it was one of the best concerts I have heard...okay, behind Pink Floyd, Neil Young and Dave Matthews Band, the Indigo Girls with Matthew Sweet, Jethro Tull, The Allman Bros, Old Crow Medicine Show...but I truly did enjoy myself.

What made the concert so cool (besides real musical talent that included a mandolin, upright bass, banjo, saxophone and trumpet) was the laid back, inclusive vibe. Everyone was encouraged to dance in front of the stage or in the aisles (Zanes told the audience "we can either have a concert, and that's cool, or we can have a DANCE PARTY!!!!"). You can imagine who made a bee-line and landed smack-dab in front of the stage. I hope I didn't dislocate any Short Person's arm pulling them down front...

During "Catch That Train" the band convinced almost the entire audience to form a train and dance through the concert hall, out into the lobby and back in again in a giant, happy circle. They had everyone singing along, and the songs were all very cool. "Wabash Cannonball", "Walkin' The Dog", a couple of gospel tunes and even some Spanish songs. For the last number the band unplugged all their instruments and continued to play and sing as they strolled the aisles and led the entire audience into the lobby where they serenaded a girl in a wheelchair, then led us all down the hall and into a courtyard where they posed for pictures and signed autographs.


But Kate did have a homemade musical instrument made from paper plates and popcorn that she shook so hard during the concert I was afraid we would pelt our neighbors with hard corn kernels. Dan Zanes signed it for Kate and wished her a happy birthday; what a great present! I'm going to have it framed along with her ticket.
But it would be even cooler to frame the autograph along with a picture of Dan Zanes and the Short People.

Maybe next time..

Friday, March 06, 2009

This is the end
Beautiful friend

The Doors -- "The End"

The last few months have been sad ones. We had to say goodbye to the place we loved and find a new home. The Eastern Shore was a wonderful fit for us with gorgeous unspoiled water, open spaces and fabulous friends. It was the place where we found our beautiful home, and it was the place where are children were born. We lived there for over 10 years and planned on staying there forever.

But some things don't last forever, and we decided that Tracy's job needed to be one of them. The decision to move was made even more difficult by the fact that we had to keep it a secret, even from our closest friends, for almost a year. The Shore is a small, close-knit place and word travels FAST, so this huge elephant was in the room with us and we couldn't talk about it. Even in front of the Short People. Talk about a challenge! Try having a crisis and keeping it a secret even in your own home. Throw in all my health problems and the death of my beloved grandmother in October and you get one gal who just did not have much happy to discuss for the last few months. If you can't visualise my mood just ask Tracy; he'll do a fine imitation of Amy In A Snit.

So now we are in Culpeper Virginia, trading the sea for the mountains. We've been here for almost two months. Boxes are mostly unpacked, the snow is melting, and the shiny is rubbing off. In typical kid fashion the Short People are resilient and have adapted marvellously to all the changes. India loves her new school and Kate has enjoyed a brief reprieve from preschool to stay home every day with me until she starts kindergarten in the fall. India adores having her own room (can't say the same for Kate, especially when India says "I need some private time" and shuts that door) and they love being in a neighborhood. Some of the sweetest words a stressed-out mom can hear are "Can India and Kate come out to play?".

There are still some growing pains. Tracy is trying to find his way in a completely different hospital environment and is commuting 40 minutes one way. A blackberry and laptop were waiting on his desk day one, and I have never seen Tracy react with such disgust. I miss all my friends terribly. Wednesdays are days of mourning knowing that playgroup goes on without me. Honestly, though, I am enjoying a break from all of my volunteer work, and am taking the time to sit back and focus on family and health. We are renting until we can sell our house (in this market that may be a year from now), so there is no pressure to decorate, hang pictures or paint. After taking care of a large home built in 1835 with a lot of land, a new construction house with a garage, trash and recycling pickup and CLOSET SPACE is a treat. And we still have a decent yard for the Short People and the dogs, too.

The past four months haven't been all stress and mayhem; during my hiatus from blogging some wonderful things happened. My nephew, James Rowen Tyner, was born on December 14th. He is the cutest, best baby in the whole world and you'll be seeing a lot of him. We had several fabulous sendoffs, pictured here, so we could say goodbye in style. The Tooth Fairy has been a frequent flyer over our house, causing a few panicked trips to the bank for more golden dollars. India was asked to audition for the Richmond/Tidewater Ballet Nutcracker; she didn't make the cut because she was too small for the costume (she is tiny but mighty) but it was an honor to be asked. I turned 39, where I plan to remain until I die.

It's time to crawl back on the Long Day With Short People wagon. I hope you all haven't forgotten me. And I hope some of my Shore friends will join the ride. I miss you guys!

Oh, and do you know anyone who wants to buy a fabulous farm house on the Eastern Shore?