Music That Made Me

19 May

Last week (or I guess the week before, I’m always behind) Rolling Stone Magazine had a cover story called “The Music That Made Me” in which musicians wrote about the songs had the biggest influence on their lives. A super cool blogger I follow named Nancy Davis Kho who writes about music and life in her blog Midlife Mixtape wrote her own list and asked other bloggers to link up and do the same.

I love music and feel happiest when I’m listening to it and when I think of the music of my life, the songs that made me, these are the ones that come to mind.

1. Crocodile Rock by Elton John

I grew up listening to Elton John and Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player was on heavy rotation at our house. (I was fascinated by the name of that album.) Oh how I loved to place the needle on the groove for “Crocodile Rock” and do the twist in my living room while singing, “I remember when rock was young. Me and Suzie had so much fun…” My mother’s name is Susan and my dad called her Suzie – and hearing your mom’s name in a song when you’re seven years old? What’s cooler than that?

2. Lyin’ Eyes by The Eagles

This is really something I probably shouldn’t admit, but as we discuss often in my writing group, if you want your writing to be good it has to be honest. Raw. And I don’t know what’s more honest or raw (or totally embarrassing) than me admitting that when I was in 7th grade I would listen to this song over and over again, acting out the lyrics and imaging myself performing it on The New Mickey Mouse Club with Todd Turquand who was a new mouseketeer and the object of my tween crush. What? You didn’t act out songs about adultery in your living room with obscure celebrities when you were eleven years old? That’s weird.

3. Rumors by Fleetwood Mac

I’m totally cheating here by choosing an album and not a song, but it’s my list and I’ll cheat if I want to. Fleetwood Mac was the first band I ever saw in concert. (I was eleven years old.) My sister is named Rhiannon. I chose “Landslide” as the song for the father-daughter dance at my wedding. The fact that neither of those songs was on this album is irrelevant, it just goes to show you how important Fleetwood Mac is to the background music of my life. This is a desert island album for sure and I won’t Sophie’s Choice one song. I refuse.

4. Vacation by The Go Go’s

I worshiped the Go Go’s when I was in high school. Belinda, Jane, Charlotte, Gina and Kathy were the coolest of the cool girls. “Vacation” came out the summer before my senior year. I like songs that tell a story. And what better story for a girl entering young adulthood than a summer romance and a broken heart?

5. Burn for You by INXS

Anyone who knows even the bare minimum about me knows that INXS is my all-time favorite band of ever. They changed my life. Literally and for the better. Michael Hutchence was the ultimate rock god and has spent more time in my fantasy life than all others combined. (Sorry Bradley.) Most casual INXS fans would probably pick “Don’t Change” or “Need You Tonight” or “Disappear,” but I’m sticking with “Burn for You” simply because it makes me feel good.

6. Slave to Love by Bryan Ferry

My friend Simmah and I backpacked through Europe during the summer of 1986. We stayed on a boatel (no that’s not a typo, that’s a hotel on a docked boat) in Amsterdam for five nights. Every morning at breakfast they played the same mix tape, but the only song I remember was “Slave to Love.” Every time I hear this melodic masterpiece I am immediately brought back to that boat and to the best summer of my life.

7. One Tree Hill by U2

I suppose I could say any song on The Joshua Tree, which might possibly be my most favorite album of all time, but I have always been particularly drawn to “One Tree Hill.” When I heard it was written about their friend Greg Carroll who was killed in a motorcycle accident in July 1986 I was haunted. When Simmah and I left for that trip to Europe, a girl that we worked with from New Zealand named Kim gave us the address and phone number of her friend Greg Carroll, a fellow New Zealander who was living in London and working as a roadie for U2. I still have his information in my scrapbook. We were in London in June and I think we tried to call, I really can’t remember, but we didn’t end up getting in touch with him. Still, the song makes me feel oddly connected to him even though we never met. Sort of in the way I felt connected to the people on Pan Am 103 that crashed in Lockerbie less than I week after I returned home from a semester in London. There were students on the plane on a similar semester abroad. One night a boy from that program flirted with me at a bar. I’ve always wondered if he was on that plane. I think my friend Harvey who went to London with me was supposed to be on that plane. Or how all of us feel connected to the people who died on 9/11. Not just because it was an attack on our country, but because we all know someone who lost someone or knows someone who was there. A brother. A cousin. A friend of a friend. “One Tree Hill” makes me feel connected to someone I almost knew but didn’t in that way. In a way that makes you feel that we’re all just hanging on by a thread that can be snipped so easily. That feeling is what makes me try to live my best life by recognizing the simple joy of ordinary moments in ordinary days. Savoring the smell of jasmine as I pass it on a run. Dancing in the kitchen to my current favorite song when I make dinner. Basking in the calmness of night turning into day as I sit at my laptop and type.

8. Thank You by Dido

Dido’s love song about how the crappiest day can be the very best day when spent with someone you love always brings me back to my very best day (which was not crappy at all). I do not seek this song out or listen to if often, but when I hear it on the radio it always makes me smile.

 

9. Have I Told You Lately by Van Morrison

I really didn’t start listening to Van Morrison much until I met my husband. Introducing me to Van the Man might just be the reason I agreed to marry him. Well, that and he makes me laugh every day. Still. This was the first song we danced to together at our wedding. Enough said.

10. I Don’t Want This Night To End by Luke Bryan

I know, I know. One of these things is not like the other. Two years ago my friend Trixie (you’ve all figured out I don’t use my friends’ real names right?) invited Simmah and I to join her at the Stagecoach Music Festival to celebrate Simmah’s birthday. I wasn’t a country music fan (at all) but Trixie was working for the company that put on the festival and it was a free trip to Palm Desert. (If it’s free, it’s for me!) I started listening to country music before the trip so I would be somewhat familiar and found myself singing along to this song the first time I heard it. I knew is was kind of hokey, and possibly even bad, but it was catchy. A guilty pleasure. And I loved it. (By the way, this is not the first bad song that I have loved.) It was my gateway to country music. I’ve been to Stagecoach three times now and hit the Go Country 105 button every day. I guess you could say I have this song to thank for that.

Now that you know how truly weird I am, I’d love to know what songs made you. Let me know in the comment section. And check out the songs that made other bloggers in the links below.

The Songs That Made:

Midlife Mixtape

Up Popped a Fox

When Did I Get Like This?

I Miss You When I Blink

My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog

Butterfly Confessions

Good Day, Regular People

Smacksy

Arnebya

The Flying Chalupa

Elizabeth McGuire

Elleroy Was Here

Fine Tuning

Auditory Memory

Alone With My Thoughts

The Prodigal Son’s Mother

This is Me: Expressing Motherhood

11 May

April was a crazy month. I think I’m still trying to recover from it. (Note last blog post was from April 13th.)

We went camping for spring break, Chandler had to decide which college to go to (so glad that’s over with), Marley had daily after-school lacrosse practices and two to three games a week, Chandler had every other-day after school runs and one to two track meets a week, I went to the Stagecoach Music Festival. I took seven days off work and left early at least four or five times. (I assured my bosses several times, that yes, I did still work there!) It took the skill and ingenuity of a $100K/year executive assistant to pull of the coordination needed to get everyone where they needed to be when they needed to be there. (Yet, I did it for free.)

Oh and I was in a little show called Expressing Motherhood.

What’s that you ask? It’s a show that has been showcasing people sharing their stories about motherhood onstage since 2008. And last month I got to share mine on a stage in a Downtown Los Angeles theater. I felt honored that over two dozen people came to see me. The other people in the show were amazing. I can’t believe I was chosen to stand among them and share my story.

expressing-motherhood-dtla

Hanging backstage before my big stage debut.

And even though it will possibly mortify my children (like I’ve never done that before here), you can watch it below if you like. But only if you promise to focus on how great my hair looked and my awesome comedic timing rather than how the harsh stage lighting makes me look 1,000 years old and the dress I’m wearing makes me appear a little fat. (I swear when I looked in the mirror I looked awesome.)

But anyway, here I am, expressing motherhood.

 

Video shot by Stephen Burr • SeeHearStudios.com

So I Kind of Co-Wrote This Book…

13 Apr

Most people who know me (even a little bit) know that I wrote a book.

Like forever ago.

And I’ve been editing it, and editing it, (and effing editing it) and querying it and querying it (and effing querying it) off and on for years.

It’s chick lit (with a heavy emphasis on chick and not so much lit). It’s not groundbreaking or earth shattering or maybe even that original (girl’s life crumbles when she loses fiancé and loses job and has to pick up the pieces and start all over again), but it’s funny. It would make a hilarious romantic comedy. (In my humble opinion.)

But I digress…

This post is not about that book. It’s about this book:

The Making of a Picky Eater

 

One that I co-wrote and you can actually click this link and buy!

I know what you’re thinking… How in the heck did that happen?

Well, I’ll tell you how.

I met this really cool woman named Beth Robeson at the 2013 Middle Sister Wine Gathering. (Which I was lucky enough to attend because I won a contest on Pinterest.) Beth contacted me after the gathering and asked if I’d be interested in adding a bit of humor to a book she’d written about picky eaters being made and not born.

I told her she sure didn’t need me because that was the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. My kids are picky eaters. They were totally born that way. (Or were they?) I mean, I certainly didn’t have anything to do with them being picky. (Or did I?)

She convinced me to take a look at the book and see if maybe I’d change my mind.

I have to tell you that the book was quite eye-opening. Turns out that perhaps I did have a thing or two quite a lot to do with my kids’ semi-picky palates. And by using some of the methods discussed in the book I’ve actually seen some changes in my kids’ eating habits. Admittedly they are small changes, but my kids are teenagers. If I had read this book when my kids were little I have no doubt that they’d be eating a much wider range of foods and I would have spent a lot less time in the kitchen being a short order cook.

So I did my best to add a little humor to the book. And I think I succeeded. (I hope I did anyway.)

If you’ve got picky kids you might want to pick it up. Even if you’ve tried everything. It might help you see “pickyness” in a whole new light. (And maybe even hang up that short order cook apron forever.)

An Actual Conversation with my Ridiculously Frustrating Son

23 Mar

Last Saturday we were still waiting for news.We hadn’t heard from any colleges yet and we knew that admissions decisions had been mailed on Tuesday from one of the schools Chandler is most hopeful about.

“Call me if the letter comes today,” I said as I was walking out the door on my way to a lacrosse tournament with Marley, happy for the distraction. Our mail comes late, sometimes not until five o’clock. I had an image of myself perched on the couch by the front window with my laptop, obsessively refreshing the search for the school’s “accepted” hashtag on Twitter to see how many kids were taking my son’s potential spot, looking up every time I heard a car even though I know the difference of the sound of a passing car and the stop-start of the mail truck.

Chandler called a little after three.

“Mom, a box came in the mail addressed to Dad. Can I open it?”

“Why do you want to open a box for Dad?” I asked my heart sinking that the news hadn’t come.

“I want to see if it has my…”

“You’re acceptance letter wouldn’t come in a box for Dad,” I said cutting him off. It would come in a big envelope addressed to you.”

“Shhh, Mom,” he said clearly frustrated to be cut off. “I got the acceptance letter, but first I want to know if this is the hat Dad got me on eBay.

“Really, Chandler? You got in?” I said tears coming to my eyes.

“We’ll talk about that in a minute. Can you please ask Dad about the box?”

Now I was the one who was frustrated. But also really, really happy.

I put the phone to my chest and looked at Dave. “Your son got in, but he’s more interested in a box that’s addressed to you. Can he open it to see if it’s his hat?”

“Tell him to go ahead,” Dave said rolling his eyes.

“Dad says go ahead, Chandler,”

“Oh good, it’s my hat,” he said. “Yeah, Mom. I got in. Isn’t that great?”

“Yes, Chandler. That’s really great. I’m so proud of you,” I said the tears welling up in my eyes again. If I wasn’t so happy I might have had to kill that kid..

Awesome Graduation Announcements from Minted

20 Mar

My firstborn will be graduating high school in a little less than three months and two months after that he’ll be out the door and off to college. (Which in mom-time is even less than the blink of an eye.) He’s got so much to do in that short amount of time and has so many important decisions to make. He needs to decide which college he’ll choose, where he’s going to get a summer job, who he’s going to ask to prom.

Of course I have a lot of important decisions to make too. How many people should I invite to his graduation party? What is the proper amount of time to wait before turning his bedroom into my office? What is the best brand of waterproof mascara to wear to this graduation ceremony?

And I have to choose his graduation announcements. They’ve come a long way since I graduated high school. My graduation announcement was a generic “Class of 83″ fold-over card that you stuck a smaller card with your name on it into a little slot. They were pretty boring.

Thanks to minted.com the generic graduation announcement is a thing of the past. So if you’re looking for a place to find a graduation card that is as unique as your high school senior click here.

Take a look at some of minted’s awesome selection below:

Whether your looking for an announcement or an invitation, if classic designs are your thing, you can’t go wrong with this card.

classic-graduation-announcement

Classic and classy!

If you like something more modern showing off your son or daughter’s cute mug you might prefer a card like this.

Photo-Graduation-announcement

So handsome!

If you’re a braggy type of parent you have a high achiever you might like a card that showcases your graduate’s many accomplishments with a card like this.

year-in-review-graduation-announcement

That’s one fantastic senior year!

And if you really want to show your faraway family that your kid’s got the goods you can even order an announcement that’s a book!

Graduation announcement booklet

Great for kids with extended families that live far away.

One of the many things I love about minted.com is the fact that they give you different colors to choose from for most types of announcements or invitations. (Like in this whimsical one.)

whimsical graduation announcement

Both are so cute! Which one would you choose?

Speaking of whimsical, I love this graduation party invitation. (So cute!)

Graduation-Invitation

And of course you can get matching thank you cards

Graduation-thank-you-cards

and fancy envelopes.

Graduation envelope

So what will I be choosing for my graduate? Hmmm… I don’t know.

As the mother of an athlete, I have to admit I really love this card.

Athletic-Graduation-Card

I especially like the way it looks when I plug Chandler in there.

Graduation.20

No, Chandler’s not going to UCONN (but maybe after seeing this announcement they’ll want him to)!

Did I mention that you can preview your cards before buying them? See the little exclamation point on Chandler’s picture above? That’s an alert from minted telling me the picture will not print well due to its low resolution, so I’ll need to choose another photo. I feel confident that when I place an order with minted it will turn out perfectly.

I really like this announcement.

Graduation anouncement

Of course I’ll have to get a better picture. (Something a bit crisper without a messy kitchen counter in the background.) And it would also probably help if we knew where Chandler was going to school. (Nope, sorry, Awesome U in Not California is not a real school!)

But I also really like this one.

Graduation announcement off to college

He may be traveling when he goes to college but he’s leaving his heart in California. (I hope.)

It’s going to be tough to pick which one I like best. But the good news is, all the cards at minted.com are so great, it’s impossible to go wrong.

If you haven’t ordered your graduation announcements and invitations yet, I highly suggest you give minted.com a look. It takes about two weeks to get your order with standard shipping, so there’s still time. But you’d better hurry – you know that time will be gone in the blink of an eye!

Disclosure: I was given a credit by minted.com to facilitate this review, but the opinions of the awesomeness of Minted expressed are 100% my own. (But you don’t have to trust me – you have eyes don’t you?)

Photo credit of Chandler running: Debby Pattiz

The Waiting

10 Mar

Tom Petty said it best, “The waiting is the hardest part.”

It seems everyone I know with a high school senior has been accepted somewhere. All of my friends’ kids. All of Chandler’s friends. Accepted. Somewhere. Hell, one of my friends just put the deposit down. Her daughter has made her decision.

But Chandler? No acceptance letters yet. He’s still waiting. We’re still waiting.

To be clear, he hasn’t gotten any rejection letters yet either.

Every time I run into someone or talk to someone on the phone (yes, I still talk on the phone) they ask me, “Has Chandler made any decisions yet?” It’s hard to make a decision when you don’t know your choices. Trust me people, when Chandler finally gets his acceptance letters I will be posting it on Facebook just like every other obnoxious STFU proud mom.

Of course it doesn’t help matters that I’m hyper-obsessing on it. I check Chandler’s email ten times a day to see if any notifications have come in from the admissions departments telling him to check his student portal even though I know it’s too early. Yes, I have his email password because he is terrible at checking emails and helicopter mom I need to keep him on track. But I don’t have his student portal passwords (though I’m sure I could figure them out) so I can’t find out before he does. I don’t want to find out before he does. I would never take that away from him. I just want to find out.

I don’t like to wish away time, especially now when Chandler will be leaving so soon, but if there were ever a week to wish away, make it go warp speed squared instead of just plain old oh-my-god-my-son-is-going-away-to-college-in-five-months-wasn’t-he-just-a-baby-five-seconds-ago warp speed, it would be this week. Because next week we’ll know something.

The UC he applied to will be sending notifications to last names beginning with O-S on Sunday, March 15 at 4AM. I suspect my eyes will pop open at 4:01. It’s a good thing he’s an early bird like me. Not 4AM early, but he should be up by 7:00. (Oops, I’m sorry, Chandler. Was I being too loud in the kitchen. *clang clang clang)

On Friday, February 13 the school in Ohio that is a top contender will be snail mailing out its notifications. (Friday, the 13th, really? Is that a good idea?) I’m an optimist so I’m hopeful we’ll receive that letter on Monday the 16th. (Look, I just mailed something to Little Rock, AR on a Friday and it got there the following Monday, it could happen!)

After that the other four should come trailing in somewhere between the 15th and the 31st.

Until then… we’re just waiting.

“The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to the heart
The waiting is the hardest part”

10K Training

9 Mar

I’m training for my second 10K. It’s in less than three weeks. I ran my first 10K last year and said I’d never do one again. One and done. But of course I always said I’d never be a runner either. (Not that I am.) I seem to live in the land of never say nevers.

I wasn’t going to run the 10K this year but all of my running friends talked me into it. “C’mon, it’ll be fun.” “You have to run the Great Race.” Turns out I’m a sucker for peer pressure.

And now? It seems at least half of my friends have dropped out due to injuries. And the ones that are running rarely show up for the Sunday group runs. Kids’ sports schedules. College tours. Life. (Assholes!)

We get running  homework every week from our coach. Last year we had to train five days a week and I never skipped a run. I had to give up so much. I never had time to write. This was part of the reason I wasn’t going to run again. I can’t write in the mornings or go to boot camp – the things I actually enjoy doing at 5AM. But last year I would go to the gym and run on the treadmill (ugh) next to my friends and we’d moan and groan about how terrible running is and how much it sucks and there was a comfort to that. And as much as I hated running, (and I did – still do) it felt good to be doing something hard, something I never thought I could do.

This year I haven’t been running on the treadmill. I’ve been trying to write at 5:00 and then run at 6:30 when it’s light outside. It kind of works, but only kind of. And now that the clocks have moved forward it will still be dark at 6:30. I might have to hit the treadmill again. Ugh.

Our coach has scaled back the training this season to four days a week, but I’ve only been running two or three. I’m trying to find some sort of magic formula between the writing and the running and the boot camp classes, but it’s hard. I haven’t figured it out yet. Last year running was keeping me skinny, but this year the pounds are slowly starting to creep back on. Yesterday I ran six miles and today when I got on the scale I’d gained half a pound. Six miles! WTF!

At least I know I can still run six miles (6.2 actually). It’s the first time I’ve done it since the race last year. I had to walk some of it, but not much. I ran the 6.2 in 1:09:34 – an 11:14 mile. Not great – a little slower than my 1:06:58 10K time last year, but like I said, I’ve really scaled back on my training. My goal is just to finish, not to finish fast.

In less than three weeks I’m going to run this stupid race. My stupid friends who talked me into it had better be at the finish line cheering me on. And then except for Sunday runs on flat terrain where people actually show up and there is coffee and gossip afterwards I am done with running. I will never ever ever run another 10K again. (Says the girl from the land of never say nevers.)

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