Friday, March 18, 2011

Snow!!! In the desert! Can you believe it???

We woke up to a blanket of snow one glorious Sunday morning in February. . .or was it the end of January? Oh, who knows! I forget already! All I know is, we don't usually get to see snow here unless we drive 5 hours north! So, we were pretty excited! Hmmmm. . .I am sensing some tension growing from my lovely friends and family in the Midwest and East Coast right now? Can't imagine why? (not like they got a lot of snow this year or anything???) So, I will proceed with caution. . .

Hannah peeked out the window and screamed "IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!!"
Bless her excited little heart :) It made me a little sad to disappoint her, and tell her it was not Christmas, but I made a point to tell her it sure was a nice treat :) And it was a wonderful excuse to break out her winter snow gear! After all, the only place we got to use it so far was the White Mountains. Score one for mama's wallet! It was really too warm for ALL of her gear, so as time went on, she started peeling layers off. I don't blame her. But, she looked really cute in it. I guess I learned she is not willing to suffer for fashion when it comes to sweating. Oh well.

The snow only lasted a matter of hours, which is ideal, really. No shoveling. No salt needed for the driveway. No hassle! But, it was just enough for Hannah to play in it for a whole hour, building a snowman (who was more Smuf-like in stature versus a "man," but OK), making snow angels, throwing snow at me, and cleaning it off her swingset. . .then she declared it was hot cocoa time. I won't argue with that! She is wise beyond her years. . .and she takes after me :) About 2 hours past hot-cocoa-time, the snow was only a memory. . .
Thanks Mother Nature :)

Here's some "cool" pictures to prove I am not lying!
I think black and white gives the illusion that it is colder outside than it really was ;)

It looks like someone spilled a GIANT bag of powdered sugar all over the yard

Don't feel bad for poor Woody! No hat. No mittens. No coat. You think he would've gotten frostbite, but all those band-aids turned out to be great insulators! He did not complain once!

Here's Woody the snowman
He has a baby carrot for a nose and goldfish crackers for eyes :)

Mmmmm. . .hot cocoa

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yeah baby, this is how we roll. . .

Beep beep! Check out my new ride!

Hannah took the posted limits literally!
One size fits most
Ages 3 +
Hmmmmmmm. . .
Regardless, she declared she was off to Disneyland!
Haven't seen her since!
She left her Elmo cell phone behind.
So, I hope she made it.
The tires were looking a bit flat. . .

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Memah's Visit

Memah visited a couple weeks ago, and we had SO much fun! The first night she arrived, I begged to sleep with her. My mama was certain I would not last, but I proved her wrong! L slept soundly the whole night next to Memah :) I was determined to make the most of her visit and spend as much time with her as possible!

We took a nap together, as well. (I don't usually take naps anymore, so Mama was impressed again! LOL)
In case all you potential visitors are wondering, that pull out bed is quite comfy!
Mama wanted to take some photos. . .Memah was acting silly just like I usually do!
Daddy was acting like. . .Daddy! LOL

Anyone notice who the GOOD one is in all these photos?
Mama is always telling me I need to smile and sit still for photos like these. I actually listened for once, and now look at those clowns! Sheesh!
Seriously? Grow up people! This is serious business!
That's better.

We did puzzles together :) I was very patient with Memah. She was kind of slow. . .
Memah got to watch me play Tball! After the game we wore her out dragging her to Target, lunch at 5 Guys Burger & Fries (I call it the peanut place. . .if you've been there, you know what I am talking about--they have peanuts to snack on while you wait for your food); the mall. . .

We even made some yummy blueberry banana muffins
Apparently Memah grew a tail. . .a serious side effect from licking the batter!??!
They look YUMMY! Right? They were super yummy :)

We did lots of reading together. My favorite book for Memah to read to me was "A Fly Went By." She must've read it 100 times :)

I love Memah :) I can't wait for her to visit again!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Making Musical Memories

Look at those photos of Hannah sitting next to my mom at the piano. Trying hard to figure out how to play just like my mom.

I sat there once upon a time. Just like that. Trying so hard to make my fingers tickle the keys and make them sing, the way my mom did. I would get a bit frustrated because my little fingers just didn't cooperate. They would not play the same melodies that danced from my mom's hands. My tiny fingers were too small and too slow to fit the huge expectation in my head of what my fingers SHOULD be able to do. At that age, my tiny fingers only made random dribbles and kerplunks, not music. I studied her hands as she played. She made it look so easy! I wanted to be like my mom. She played such beautiful music.

Music was HUGE part of my upbringing. Walk into our house, and someone was likely playing the piano (my mom or my sisters), singing (any of us), playing the violin (me!), the flute (my sister), the stereo, cassette tapes, records, reel to reels (my dad had thousands of them), and in the evenings and on weekends my dad was playing operas and symphonies so loud on the stereo that I am pretty sure people living in houses two streets over could hear it! "You need to feel the vibrations in the music," he'd say. (Funny how that same logic did not seem to hold much weight when my sisters and I were teenagers and blasting our music!?!?) Apparently, my dad's music was made to be LOUD and could not be fully appreciated unless it was resonating through the support beams and causing the windowsills to buckle. . .but our music was not. Sometimes, my dad would compromise when the household. . .or neighborhood. . .needed some quiet and he wore some pretty nifty headphones. But, you could still hear his music three rooms away. Despite all that LOUD music concentrated on his head through the headphones, his head did not explode; the force of the music never contorted any of his facial features, and his beard and mustache hair did not fall out (though now that I think about it, he did have that mysterious balding pattern on the top of his head right where headphones lay?). . .but, in all seriousness, I am most surprised he never lost his hearing. After so many years of intense and very LOUD music. . .his eardrums remained intact! Except when we asked for a raise in our allowance, his hearing suddenly became questionable ;)

I remember countless nights curled up next to my dad in the living room. Music made him relaxed. Sometimes he got so relaxed he'd fall asleep! In which case his snoring was a close second to the loudness of the music. He also looked peaceful and content; like the outside world and stresses from his busy, hard working days never existed. The music transported him to a place where he could get lost; blanketed in symphonies and operas. Sometimes, when he would share trivia facts and insight into the music we listened to. I really wish I could remember everything he shared with me. He was an encyclopedia of information about operas and symphonies. He knew everything about every composer, the secrets behind the music, who the pieces were written for, what was happening in the world or the composer's life at the time the music was composed and how it played a part in the music, and so on. You name it, there was a story behind it! I miss all of that.

Hannah had the opportunity to sit with my dad during his last days, and listen to some "loud music" with him. She was only 16 months old at the time. It was incredibly important to me for her to experience PopPop's music the way I did when I was little. While she probably does not remember it, I like to think he passed on some of his love of music to her those nights. At least I got to experience my daughter experiencing music with my dad the way I did when I was little. . .

I can still picture Hannah in her blue puppy feetie jammies, all snuggy cozy and ready for bed. The three of us burrowed into the couch that had become my dad's "hospital bed." On this particular night (the blue feetie jammy night), we listened to Parsifal. One of my dad's favorites. We listened until well past Hannah's bedtime. Not that I was enforcing any bedtimes during that visit. I sometimes think, if only I had my video camera that night. I could share that night with Hannah over and over again. But, I didn't. I have only what is left in my heart and memories. My memories are embedded and intertwined with all kinds of other memories from my childhood. The countless nights of listening to my dad's music. I could never capture all of those memories and feelings on a video camera. I am sad Hannah will never understand it and experience it with her PopPop, firsthand. But, I promise to tell her about it every chance I get.

Yes, music was a really big deal in my house when I was growing up. It is part of who I am.

Even though I couldn't play piano like my mom, I would learn to play my own music. I never took piano lessons, but did teach myself to play piano when I was a little older. Instead of piano lessons, I chose the violin and chorus. All beautiful outlets for music! I still have a special place in my heart for the piano, though. Probably because I associate it with my mom.

A flood of emotions and memories rushed over me when my mom sat down on the piano bench and started to play the other night. The music resonated through my house. Louder than I ever remembered hearing it at my childhood home. Then again, my house has 12 foot ceilings and tons of tile ;) It almost took my breath away. I stood motionless in the next room. Yet, my mind was moving a mile a minute, transporting me back to my childhood. . . My mom was clueless to my awe, of course. She was busy playing the piano! Trying to remember the right notes to play. She is a bit rusty, but I barely notice when she is searching for the right notes. When I closed my eyes, I could feel myself sitting at the piano with my mom, my legs dangling, my feet about 9 years from reaching the floor. . .soaking in all the music and wishing I could effortlessly run my fingers across the piano keys like my mom, making beautiful music. I wonder if Hannah feels the same way I did, now that I see her sitting beside my mom and intently listening (and possibly conspiring a way to sneak in a note or two of her own, just to contribute something "Hannah-ish" to the songs.) I hope so.

Just like the blue feetie jammy night with Hannah and my dad listening to his music, hearing my mom play the piano for Hannah transformed my experience and it became two-fold. I was linking the present memories I was making, with what I remember feeling, seeing, hearing, and thinking in the past. So, no matter that my mom's fingers have arthritis now. Never mind that her fingers do not move as quickly and effortlessly as they used to. No matter that she only plays two to three times per year, at the most. . .because when she plays, to ME it sounds just like it did when I was Hannah's age, and I thought she was the most talented pianist ever!

As Hannah and Memah sat and played, I could hear my mom's long nails clicking the piano keys. Another familiar sound. I am sure pianists do not have long nails. But to me, that is part of my mom's signature. I had forgotten all about that, until I heard it.

I am so glad Memah got to share her talent with Hannah, the way she shared it with me so many years ago. Hannah loves the "pan-yo" and she loves her Memah. I hope she associates the piano and its music with love, and her Memah, like I do. (Even though they do not do the experience any justice, I got videos of my mom playing piano, and I am glad I did. For me and for Hannah)

Thank you, mom. For sharing your talent with me when I was a kid, and now with Hannah. You are helping me keep my promise to Dad that I will always keep music alive in my house.

VIDEOS of Memah playing the piano during her latest visit :)

1. One of my favorite songs. (I tried uploading it here, but perhaps it was too long, because I couldn't get it to work. So, click on the link instead) **the password is: Hannah

2. Here's my mom playing "The Alley Cat" song. No idea if that is really the title or not, but that's what we always called it when I was little. It was one of my favorites. I remember sitting there imaging a scraggly cat strutting around to the music :) It's a fun song! Instead of imaging the cat, Hannah decided to act out the part of the cat (sorry I didn't get that performance on video. LOL)