Michelle on the uke

Sometimes as a dad, you just have to brag.  Here is my baby, Michelle, at the school talent show.  She has her uncle’s ability to pick out a tune on a random instrument and her mother’s incredible voice.  Just listen…

So proud…

Musical Memories

Dixie Chicks (2)

Several months ago, DJ texted me to inform me that the Dixie Chicks were playing at Walnut Creek Amphitheater in Raleigh on the night that she and Stephanie would be returning home from overnight camp.  I don’t think she asked me to buy tickets; she told me.

I know a ton of their songs, but perhaps the most widely acclaimed, Wide Open Spaces, was released in 1998.  That was a year after DJ was born.  It was also around the time that we purchased a brand new forest green Honda Odyssey minivan with a CD player right in the dashboard.  We had hit the Big Time!

Our oldest child sucked her pacifier to the beat of Where’s Your Trouble and Cowboy Take Me Away.

In the 90’s, I was not a fan of country music.  I was more Earth, Wind and Fire than Miranda Lambert.  But my wife, she liked country, and she made sure that her daughters did too.

As songs were played last night, DJ and I had a ride down memory lane.

When the much slower song, Top of the World, came on, my oldest reminded me that I did not like the tune.  “Remember dad?  You would always fast forward this one.”

“It’s depressing.”

“But I loved it!  When mom was in the car, she would make you play it.”

“I don’t specifically recall.”

Toward the end of the song, there is a long pause.

“And every time we got to this part, you would press the skip button.”

“It’s a long pause, I’m sure I thought it was over.”

“And then I would cry and mom would make you rewind so I could hear the end, which is the best part of the song.”

“I still don’t love this song.  Makes me want to cry.”

When they played Stevie Nick’s Landslide, I was reminded how Lisa and I got into a feud about whether they were singing the word “older” or “bolder” at a certain point in the song.  I did not recall this dialogue either.

“Dad, it was a big deal.  You were both insistent that the other was wrong.”

Isn’t it interesting what kids watch and remember?

Of course, I was too cheap to purchase good seats for the concert so we were on the lawn in beach chairs.  But I was glad.  The view of the open sky was amazing that night, and there was one star that shone regardless of where the clouds moved.  I think I know why.

Thanksgiving Jam Session

Uncle Jesse comes through with the Thanksgiving sing along.  It’s good to have an uncle who can play piano by ear, postpones the after Thanksgiving food coma by at least an hour…

Even Grandpa raised the roof!

Here’s a Christmas tune…

 

 

I Don’t Give a Spit About Your Bracket

Some have asked me, “What happened to Uncle Jesse?”

He’s still in Raleigh and in and out of the house a couple of times a month.   On the occasional Saturday morning, he’ll call and ask to speak to one of the girls.

“Dad, can I go to lunch with Uncle Jesse?”

That’s code for:  We’re gonna hit the Kanki Japanese Steak House.

I’m cool with him taking them there.  Although I like the food, it does a number on my innards.  And, I always leave the place smelling like deep-fried chicken.  Instead of a night out with dinner and a movie, when Kanki is involved, it has to be dinner and a shower.

“Hey you guys, let’s meet at Kanki for dinner and then hit the Y for a group shower?”

Jesse also continues to be the producer for the Dave Glenn Show on 99.9 FM.  It’s your “statewide home for sports talk.”  Jesse pulls in all the cool music, lines up the interviews, mans the phones,and  holds down the Facebook and Twitter accounts.  He knows more about sports than I know about eyebrow waxing, and that’s a lot.

On the side, Jesse makes these interesting videos and uses them on different venues through the sports and media worlds (what I’m really saying here is I don’t know why he makes these videos or what he does with them).

The other day he popped by and he and Michelle came up with this ditty.  In NC, NCAA basketball is HUGE, even for a non-sports fanatic like me.  Enjoy the music!

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Sunday Post 144: Dingy Dingy Ding Dingy Dingy Ding Ding

When the girls were young, we used to listen to a Disney Channel CD with tunes from all of their favorite shows:  Rollie Pollie Ollie, Bear and the Big Blue House, Winnie the Poo and, our favorite Out of the Box.

We’d play the music and dance all over the house.

When Listen to the Rhythm from Out of the Box came on, the girls would argue about which one got to be held in dad’s arms, dancing together as the tune blasted.  The song had an incredible beat –

Listen to this rhythm, that we’re gonna play

Listen to this rhythm, then do it the same way

It goes like this…

Dingy dingy ding

Dingy ding ding ding

Boom cha-ca la-ca la-ca boom cha-ca boom

Each time it came on, we’d have to play it three times.  I’d dance with the first one in my arms, then the second and finally the third.  We’d spin around in circles, we’d laugh, I’d dip them at the end, head reared back and the giggles flowing.

Last weekend, Stephanie and Michelle were cleaning out the stereo cabinet.  Inside, they rediscovered that CD.  When our song came on, we reverted back to the good old days.

I can hardly pick DJ up and certainly can’t spin her around while riding on my hip, but the other two insisted.

All four of us paraded around the kitchen remembering the moves of years gone by.

It was bitter-sweet.  Memories of Lisa filled the room.  Our nanny of 11 years, now in a nursing home the victim of a massive stroke, also top of mind.  She watched her fair share of Playhouse Disney with our three kids.

When the song faded out, I said to my girls, “When I’m 80 and you’re 50, let’s turn that song back on.  I’d like to continue the dance until the day I die.”

“Don’t ever get rid of your CD player dad.”

“Don’t worry.  It’ll be here to play the music, and I’ll be here to dance.”

22

This morning when I dropped the kids off at school, we were listening to Taylor Swift’s new album, Red.  The scary thing is that when I picked them up at 3, I was still listening to it.  I realized it when I noticed Stephanie aiming my phone at me as I drove.  At first I thought she was taking a picture – ahh, no.  It was video.

What’s wrong with me?

I used to listen to the Beatles, the Doobie Brothers, Maroon 5, Kiss – a little Earth, Wind and Fire.  Now I not only tolerate Lady Gaga and The Bieber, I’m listening to them when the kids aren’t in the car!  I know the words.  I driver’s seat dance to them.

I like Glee.

I’M BECOMING A TEENAGE GIRL.  Next thing you know I’ll have Tiger Beat posters in my bedroom.

How did this happen???

Sunday Post 34: The Sun Came Out

It’s like trying out for a team or the lead in a play.  You worry and worry and dread the moment.  The anxiety consumes you.

“Will I be good enough?”

“Will I choke?”

“What’s it going to be like?”

“What could happen that I’m not expecting?”

And then the day arrives, and passes, and all is ok.

For nearly a month I’ve dreaded the two-year anniversary of Lisa’s diagnosis.  The memory of that moment in time that changed our lives.  I worried about how I’d respond.  I became consumed with sad thoughts.  I reverted back to the dark places that can haunt you with grief.

And the day came – and it was tough.  But it passed.  And on Monday, at Water Country USA, with Jesse, DJ and friend and Michelle, I began to see the sun again.  And today, I cranked open the car windows, all four of them, and the sunroof, and turned the volume of my stereo as loud as it would go and I sang with all my might.  A woman with big hair in the car next to me looked my way – I”m sure she thought, “What’s up with that guy?”

And I thought of Lisa – but they were happy thoughts.  Thoughts of her cracking up when I sang all the words to rap songs on the way to Target.  Thoughts of her singing in the passenger seat not knowing that I was hanging on every word.  And I didn’t cry.  And I could breath again.

The 20 Minute Piano Lesson

Posted by Danny

I took piano lessons when I was a kid for about 5 years.  I can read music but I have to practice a song a really, really long time for it to be audience worthy.  And by audience, I mean anyone.  There are a lot of pregnant pauses in my music. 

I know my notes, but if you asked me to play a G cord, you’d be out of luck.  And heaven forbid you asked for an A minor or a C# cord.  I’d have a better chance of remembering a phrase from my 7th grade Spanish class.  Actually I do remember “Hay un medico in su familia?” – is there a doctor in your family; and “Donde esta el bano?” – where is the bathroom.  If you’re going to a foreign country, those are two questions you may readily need.

Jesse on the other hand did not take piano lessons and cannot read music.  An eighth note to him is just a black dot with some friends nearby.  But as I’ve told you before, he can plunk out any pop tune with a sheet of music with only the letter of chord written over the lyric.

I’ve thought to myself a hundred times this past year, “How does he do that?” 

Today, he gave me a lesson.

10 am Sunday morning:

6 pm Sunday afternoon:

He’s a pretty good teacher.  I’m a pretty good student.  Mrs. Haynes would be so proud.  (Oh, that’s Stephanie, the camera girl, in the background.)

So Much Talent

I wouldn’t consider myself musical.  I can carry a tune fairly well and did have a few solos in productions as a high school student.  Once I played Adam in The Apple Tree.  My costume was a pair of khaki shorts.  I was so skinny, you could have seen the missing rib God used to make Eve. 

My mom was a piano teacher but couldn’t teach me because we fought too much.  She couldn’t take my whining.  I couldn’t take her frustration at my lack of rehearsal.  One of her friends was also a piano teacher so they switched sons; a win for all involved.  I can plunk out a tune with the sheet music, but you’d better plan plenty of time for pregnant pauses in between measures.  On the dance floor, I can shag fairly well, but I won’t be staring in A Chorus Line any time soon.

Jesse on the other hand is musical.  In fact, one of the few things that I don’t like about him is the fact that he has so much natural talent, it’s just not fair.  At weddings he has been asked if he was a paid dancer coming to get the party started.  He’s performed in Ira David Wood’s A Christmas Carol at Memorial Auditorium as a main character.  He’s also a good basketball player and if you put him in front of any group of people, they will no doubt be WOWed.  I have him licked in a couple of areas – more hair, more money and thus far have proven better at producing offspring (granted, he’s never been married, but I’m still claiming that as mine).  Now, me bringing this up is not a desire for comments on how many talents I have (especially you mom and dad).  I’m simply pointing out that Jesse is remarkable in many ways (he ain’t perfect though!)

The other day I came home to a house full of music.  It started with Jesse on the guitar and Stephanie sitting at the piano.  One of the girls favorite songs right now is Grenade by Bruno Mars.  As I listened from the kitchen, I began to hear Jesse talking Stephanie through the chords of the song – “Now play a D minor chord, A minor, yes – good job.”  The song unfolded.  Stephanie listened intently.  I could see the lightbulb going off in her head – “This is why I’ve been taking piano for the past three years!” 

Talent abounds

Takes after her uncle

A few minutes later, Jesse was at the piano, Michelle belting out Grenade at the top of her lungs (and she really has a strong voice!)  DJ is also learning to play the guitar thanks to Jesse’s tutelage. 

Pretty soon we’re going to have the Dixie Chics on Dellwood Drive.  $$$ (I’ll take care of the finances, another talent of  mine).

Dancing

Posted by Danny

There is a lot of writing about guilt and grief.  I think many people who lose someone harbor a great deal of guilt or have a number of regrets about things they wish they’d have done differently.  I only have one.

Lisa and I loved to dance.  We weren’t always the best dancers on the floor, but we could hold our own.  We particularly enjoyed shagging.  You learn a handful of twists and turns and you can use those moves with any number of genres. 

I remember last spring when it first dawned on me that I would never be able to dance with my wife again.  I was driving back to Raleigh from my parent’s house in Fayetteville; we were on I-95.  The radio was on and the kids were distracted.  I don’t recall the song; but I do recall the stunning realization that I would never again hold her on the dance floor. 

I could picture the smile on her face when we would master a new move.  I could almost feel her body in my arms as we moved closer for a slow song.

I could remember sitting at a table when the music started – she’d say, “I love this song.  Let’s go.”

“Nah.  There aren’t enough people out there yet.  I don’t want people staring at us.”  Or “Let’s have a drink first.  You know I move better after a glass of wine.”

And that is my regret.  We danced a lot.  But there were times she wanted to hit the floor and I resisted. 

I can’t believe I let those opportunities slip by.  Why did I care what other’s thought?  Why wasn’t I sure enough about myself to respond to her request?  If I just had one more dance –

I’m determined not to make that mistake again.  At the wedding last month in DC, I grabbed my girls as soon as the band started.  Michelle and I hit the dance floor – Jesse grabbed Stephanie.  Soon all five of us were hands in the air, shaking our booties.  When our favorite family rap came on (doesn’t every family have a favorite rap song?), we all stood in the middle of the dance floor, singing to the top of our lungs:

In New York,

Concrete jungles where dreams are made of,

There’s nothing you can’t do

Now you’re in New York,

These streets will make you feel brand new,

Big lights will inspire you

Let’s hear it for New York.

Jesse and DJ are learning the verses – the rap part between the chorus.  We’ll be even better prepared at the next event.

It’s really about maximizing your time.  It’s really about maximizing your opportunities.  It’s about not sitting out of the dance.