posted April 15, 2009

Years ago, a friend from college brought us back an amazing shaker from Namibia. It was shaped like a large book, covered with thin reeds and held together by two pieces of leather, and made the most wonderful rattly sound. Over the weekend, one of the kids broke it and the insides spilled all over the music room floor. Katryna quickly picked them up so that Johnny wouldn’t swallow them (he’s in the process of perfecting his pincer grip). Today I poured them out into a cup, thinking to throw them away, since the outer casing is damaged beyond repair. But look at how pretty they are! There seem to be bits of metal mixed in with small hard black beads. And they still make a wonderful rattly sound. So I think I will save them in the hopes of coming upon another casing for them. Suggestions would be appreciated!

We are planning our big DVD taping for Saturday May 2 in West Hartford. Today we had a phone meeting and talked about making umbrellas into Mardi Gras-style parasols for our last song, “When the Saints Go Marching In.” Can’t you see the scene? Kids exiting the premises twirling a ribbon bedecked parasol? What could be more festive?

I played Katryna my new garden song and she made some suggestions. We are going to record the last new HooteNanny CD next Thursday and I am hard at work finishing the songs I have written while Katryna is hard at work finding traditional songs and covers. Every session we need a mix of songs so that there are varying tempos, modes, moods. We try to include at least one song in a minor key (Katryna says it’s good for kids to get a minor key song here and there in the same way it’s good for them to eat their vegetables!). We usually have one throwback from the 60’s or 70’s like “Country Roads” or “If You Want to Sing Out Sing Out.” We have a spiritual or two; we have some really traditional kids songs, and we always have two lullabyes. We usually have a chant, a round, a big movement song (whole body), a small movement song (hands) and a song that involves bouncing a kid on one’s lap. I always like to find a Dan Zanes cover, and then there are my originals. Perhaps because this is the ninth out of nine curricula, we are both feeling extra perfectionistic about it all. I am glad we have another week to make our final decisions.

We went to a birthday party today. It was warm, mild, gentle weather, and I felt my whole body sigh in relief. As I have written previously, I hate schlepping, but I don’t mind it so much when the weather is sweet and I’m not juggling multiple woolen things with my own frozen fingers. I still feel like some aspects of motherhood are completely baffling to me––some very basic ones like feeding kids what kids like to eat–– so I sat with Johnny on my lap and kept the mother of the birthday child company and watched her carefully while she spooned whipped cream onto angel food cupcakes and invited Lila and her own pre-schooler to help. I forget how pleasant and also important it is to invite your child to participate in the small household tasks, especially when they are fun tasks like frosting cakes. She was endlessly patient with the girls, explaining multiple times that if they licked their serving spoons they could not then dip them back into the whipped cream. (We had to get up and wash the spoons many times.) The end result was so perfect: big dollops of white cream with a single blackberry atop a cupcake just the right size for a child’s hand.

Our minster, Steve Philbrick tells a story about how he used to take his two young sons with him to do chores when he made his living as a shepherd. By himself, it would take an hour to care for the sheep and the lambs; with his sons, it took two. But as they grew up into boys and young men, the time got shorter and shorter until the three of them cleaned stalls, fed and brushed the animals in 20 minutes flat.

But of course that’s not the only reason one might want to invite one’s children to help with chores.

Lila took this photo of me while I was writing this blog.

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  1. Ooooh… a Hootenanny CD?! Are those available only to those enrolled in Hootenanny? My daughter LOVES your music, but we live in Virginia — too far away to enroll. : ( We take Music Together classes, but your songs are so much better!

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