Monday, November 8, 2010

My piano


I was just reunited with an old friend. My piano... It had probably been several years since I dusted off the keys, stretched my fingers, and broke out some sheet music. Tonight Norah Jones came up in a conversation and I was longingly reminded of how much I love her music. Mmmm... So I started playing and I was quickly brought back to my high school and college years when I would play for hours a day.

Looking back, in high school, I think I played mostly because I was working out intense emotional situations. Playing put me at ease. I would play songs that fit my mood. It was like I could finally think clearly when placed in front of a piano. In college, I bought a Clavinova that made a dozen moves with me as I traveled throughout the country. Chris and I used to have visions of playing together, making music together. This happened occasionally, but I'm sad to say our lives have been so completely full that it happened only a few times before we had kids. I used to be able to play "Claire de Lune" for Chris, and it would make him melt. :) It now sits in my bedroom next to the "family bed." Usually covered in dust...

I can't tell you how many times I have looked at my piano like it was taunting me, telling me that I am a betrayer, begging me to play it for just a few minutes. But other voices were louder. Sleep. Housework. Babies. Little girl's fingers competing for a taste of the beautiful sounds. Thoughts that I probably am not good anymore.

Tonight, as I turned on the lamp next to my bed, my fingers turned on the digital piano instead of picking up my latest read. I don't know why I did this, it was like my fingers were possessed. I remember thinking, you're crazy, you're going to wake Gavin who is laying asleep only two feet away from you! As soon as I sat to play "Come Away with Me" (a song Chris and I deemed as "our song"), I realized that not all is lost. My piano still does what it used to, and my fingers still do what I tell them to. Well, not as beautifully as they used to, if I'm honest. :) I remembered our wedding day, dancing to this song.

As I transitioned to "One Flight Down," I became tearful. It's a song I always tried to imagine the story behind the music and words. I still don't know the exact meaning, but tonight the words told me a story of my relationship with Chris. Chris has a love for his guitar. And he's really really good. As our lives have changed from singles to a partnership with two kids, he still hasn't given up on his music. I love that about him, but if I'm honest, I've also been resentful about it. I've had times where I'd wake up at 2am and be angry that he was playing quietly in another room. I didn't know why until tonight. I was jealous! REALLY. I wanted that alone time, that peaceful energy, that insight that comes with each note played. I'm so glad that he keeps playing and he is a wiser person than I, because he knows that he really needs to create to feel at peace with his world. And tonight, I realized that this is something I need too. It's not just a musical instrument sitting in my home, waiting for another generation to learn its magic. I have too much history with my piano to just let it fall to the wayside. And maybe Chris and I can work a miracle and make that dream to play together become more of a reality. I have to say, life amazes me sometimes. Little pieces of insight are everywhere, even in your ancient past. And... Gavin remains sleeping. :)

One flight down
there's a song on low,
and your mind just picked up on the sound
Now you know that you're wrong,
because it drifts like smoke
and it's been there playing all along.
Now you know, Now you know.

The reeds and brass have been weaving,
leading into a single note.
In this place
where your arms unfold,
here at last you see your ancient face.
Now you know, Now you know.

The cadence rolls in, broken,
plays it over and then goes.

One flight down
there's a song on low,
and it's been there playing all along.
Now you know. Now you know.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Quick (Approaching Fall) Update

It's busy around here. Nothing completely new. But here's the run down:


She's taken on the budget and I think she's doing awesomely. Go Laura!

She's working hard at her job and whether she admits it or not, she is a mighty good role model and a helluva darn great therapist.

She rocks the kasbah with the kids, supporting Ava while catering to Gavin's needs. Again, she's amazing.

Oh, and she supports me, deals with me and my schedule, and did I mention that she rocks the kasbah? :)


I'm back in school: teaching two courses and taking two courses (Int'l Tech Writing, Language Bias). The two classes should prove to be interesting taken at the same time.

Finding out moreandmore that I enjoy teaching/academia/research -- damn red pill.

Got a flux of writing contracts during my first week back to school.

Drinking way too much coffee, but I really like coffee.

Started putting together my academic portfolio on a wiki:

Hoptober ale is reminding me how much I enjoy ales.

I really enjoy my mornings with the kids. They rock!

Ava is becoming quite the funny, articulate kid. Yet, I also found out she's a sore loser. I won a game of chutes&ladders yesterday morning and she got upset with me and began to lecture about how I need to "care about others". Sorry, Ava(?).

My grey hat stinks; like literally stinks. Gotta wash that sucka.


Okay, more to come. I want to sleep now.

Love you all!

Happy Soon-to-be-Fall!
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Girls Like Dragons, Too

This last week I (Chris) was at Target with the kids. (For anyone that doesn't know, I am staying at home with the kids this summer.) While at Target, we were shopping around the kid toy aisles, when I overheard a little boy (about 4-5) say to his sister (about 2 and sitting in the cart), "Here, Ellie!" as he attempted to hand his sister a dragon toy.

The mother promptly replied to her son, "Girls don't like dragons," as she then directed him to put the toy dragon back on the shelf.

As for me, watching and listening, I was frankly pissed. In that short exchange between parent and children (because the daughter was watching and listening intently, too), the parent made a very broad generalization about gender. Apparently, if one 2 year old girl doesn't like toy dragons (I should add here that the girl was reaching for the toy dragon, when being denied it), all girls everywhere don't like dragons.

Well, I couldn't keep my thoughts to myself. It seemed fitting that my own daughter (who is three) was sitting in our cart playing with a toy dragon, so I said to the mom, "My daughter likes dragons just fine," motioning over to my daughter.

She just kinda looked at me, and then Ava, and then proceeded to walk away with her kids. And just like that the "exchange" or clash of ideas about gender was over. I left feeling a little better, because I saw her 2 yr old look at Ava playing with the Air Bender dragon toy. Baby steps, right?

Well, this begged the question for me: Why do we need to constantly tell our children (this being parents, grandparents, teachers, adults, etc.) what they need to like or not like? I was given a great article by Karin Martin called "Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools," where her research suggests that the way in which our bodies are gendered, (i.e. the way a boy is brought up to be more physical and take up more space vs. a girl who is brought up to be quiet and literally take up less space, even feeling uncomfortable with one's body), is constructed through our social institutions at a very young age -- in this case, she examined it at a pre-school.

The big take-away for me was how these gendered differences take place at such an early age so it seems as though it is just the way it is -- boys are one way and girls another, even though both boys and girls play around with the same kind of toys, same level of 'loudness', and same level of physicallity, learning what they like and don't like, until their culture says what's "appropriate" for them -- gender-wise. In other words, these gendered differences come across as something "natural", when they're really something adults/institutions encroach upon children.

There is one area in which I think I disagree with Martin's analysis. It's a small one, but I think relevant. In her conclusion, she chose the word "resistance" to indicate how children act differently then how culture seems to be gendering them. I disagree with this word choice. I don't think children are cognizant of this institutionalization. They don't outright rebel against these gender "differences"; it's more of a play-thing. Children cope through play. Define their world through play. Play is how the process the world, and I think it's more of them testing their environment, adapting, trying to learn and fit in the best they can. That's my two cents there.

I digress. Back to the topic at hand.

If you don't believe me. I got a few more examples from just this like week alone. Ava came to the dentist with me last week. The hygienist asked her if she wanted a new toothbrush. Of course, she did. Ava went over to the draw full of toothbrushes and the hygienist asked, "Which one would you like?"

Ava was looking around for a second, then chose a Cars toothbrush. The hygienist immediately responded, "Are you sure?" And then moved the Cars toothbrush to the side and picked out three Disney Princess toothbrushes and asked her to then choose from those three. WTF?

I got more, but I hope the point is made. And the point I really want to take home and apply to my own parenting is how I can help my daughter choose her own self. I don't want to enforce these limits upon her. I want to nurture her and bring out her self-confidence to be strong in those situations where others are saying she has to be one way when in fact she's not akin to their one-world mold.

Anyways, all this to say, I'm processing this...

Here's the article info below. If you want a copy, I have it and can send it to you. Peace.

Martin, Karin A. "Becoming a Gendered Body: Practices of Preschools." The Politics of Women's Bodies. Ed. Weitz, Rose. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2003. 219-39.
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Friday, July 16, 2010

Keeping those summer caption blogs going

The sleeper swing. It's all he does in it.
It's fun to see these two grow into each other.


Rotund: Part I.

Rotund: Part II.

"See. I ate it all."

Sleepy Giant.

I finally had the chance to take a foot pic. ;-)

I should note that no baby guruness was involved in getting him to sleep. I just put him there and ... out.

Ava Grace: Bringing back the 80's one outfit at a time.

He's already has my concentration face, which looks like duck lips, which ironically is the toy he's playing with here. (That was deep. I'm making my duck face right now, contemplating that one.)

Gavin, why so serious, buddy?

Watching Little Einsteins.

"Pardon, do you have any grey poupon?"

"Really? None."

"It's okay; I have wishy-washy."

"Yes! Let's keep this photo shoot tasteful, please."

Dignified pudge.

Duck face: Part II.

I love the hair.


Checking for webbed feet.

Who do you think he looks like here?

Albeit she was excited to see him...

no hugs or high fives for George.

Some cool puppets.

Street Marketeer!

More puppets.

(Check out Ava's Show here -- -- if you can't see the embedded video.)

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Monday, July 5, 2010

The Fourth | Two-Thousand Ten

We just got back from a big trip out to the Iron Range for the Fourth of July weekend and I should be sleeping, but I'm writing a blog. So it goes.

Rather than write out a story of sorts, here's a list of what was done:

6 hour car drive w/ kids (ugh!)
Laura's 10 year reunion
Eat and drink
Gilbert(?) street dance
Breakfast w/ our friends: Nate & Emily Goltz
Gilbert parade and fireworks (no fingers were blown up)
Aunt elsie's lake cabin (swimming, cousins, lots of meat and chips, tubing, sandbag-thingy game, etc.)
Split Rock Lighthouse and Beach trip
Sweat and frigid lake superior water
Great Grandma Doty comes
Fishing (we saw a baby loon on the lake, as well as a bald eagle almost swoop down and take part in the circle of life.)
See ashton, renae, scotty when they visit, too.
Say our goodbyes
Drive 6.5 hours back home (ugh!)


ava and i made a cake for laura.

carol, laura's mom, also made a yummy cake.

we like cake.

ava *really* likes cake.

the cake shot.


auntie renae and gavin @ the parade.

ava enjoying a sucker that pelted my shoulder from a float tosser. parenting hurts sometimes and the kids enjoy the fruits from our toils sometimes, too.

watermelon and fireworks.

throwing those snappers on the ground.

grandpa. grandma. scotty. renae. ava.

renae spelling 'ava' w/ a sparkler.

uncle scotty going in circles.

ava w/ a sparkler. her pattern represents her aberrant nature.

my sparkler air guitar.

everyone enjoying the evening.


house plant.

backseat ava.

backseat daddy. (appeasing gavin so we can make it to splitrock.)

vaulted ceiling.

as per ava, she "caught" a spider in her pink "trap" in her wading pool.


enjoying the view.

resting. not ava, hehehehe.

ava. tiny chair. and flower.

flower, yellow.

laura and gavin. heart-melting.


the fam (-chris).

lake superior view.

laura gavining.

let us in!

they didn't let us in.

view from top.

still looking.


inside the lighthouse.

more inside the lighthouse. (unfortunately, i did not get to learn much about this very cool lighthouse due to extreme humidity and a tour guide who wouldn't wait for us to come back down before talking about it.)

gavs and i sweating & smiling.

not posing, i swear. i wanted to sit.

still not posing, i swear it.

okay, now we're posing.

yep, posing.

yep, that reconditioned lighthouse for tourism is posing.

nope, not posing anymore.

i'm not posing, but gaving is.

sweet sweet moses. that kid's cute.

whoa. cute baby and a daddy who seems to be sucking in the gut.

posing altogether.

another shot. thanks to a friendly random stranger!

@ the beach.

throwing rocks.


@ first glance, she seems to be relaxing, but she's just shaking some stuff off of her foot, folks.



look, it's quartz!


gav and momma.

ava. she loves sand.

and making mud.

checking out grandpa and grandma's garden.

whoa. little ashton's "the flash"!

somehow, great grandma caught up to him!


ashton and gavin meet.

cute. wait, that's very very cute.

omg, that's a great picture.

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