I think Squeaker is a one-year old green freak – a pure product of the natural energy generation. How do I know? Because she’s working hard to build a compost pile next to our kitchen table. I was cleaning under her corner of the table yesterday with a back-hoe and realized that if I could find a way to sort and package what falls off her dinner plate, I could solve 1/3 of the world food shortage.
I think she may also have military aspirations, too, because against the backdrop of her compost hill, she’s mastered the art of camouflaging herself with the same foods.
We can usually tell when she’s finished eating, because we start hearing wails and squeals in the general direction of the compost. So we soak a rag and toss it at the pile. It stops just short of the pile in mid-air, and Squeaker commences sucking the life, water, and fibers out of the rag until all the camo is washed off. Then she tosses the dry rag to the floor and there sits our sweet Squeaker, sopping wet with a big 4-toothed grin, ready to get down.
I think come summer I’ll move the kitchen table into the backyard.
Jenni called me at work, and Lunch Bucket begged for the chance to talk to me. After about five minutes, I realized it would be fun to record the rest of the call, so I did. This is about half of the call.
If you have ever performed in a talent show, concert, or recital, you know how much stress it can be. And if it’s scary for adults, imagine how terribly frightening it must be for a child. They take piano lessons, practice their little hearts out, and then do what few adults will agree to do – perform. That’s the subject of Alison McGhee’s picture book, Song of Middle C, illustrated by Scott Menchin, and published by Candlewick Press. It is about a little girl preparing for her first piano recital. The poor kid works her heart out committing the music to memory, and prepares in every way she can imagine, including bowing in front of the mirror and wearing her lucky underwear! Then when she gets up to play, she freezes – the whole piece erased from her mind. She sweats, she worries, and she nearly panics. Perhaps the story would have come to a rough ending if the girl didn’t have such a fantastic piano teacher, who taught her to not be concerned about length of time, to recognize the value of middle C, and to use her imagination. With these tools, the little girl finds that the music itself can carry her through – even if the music she plays isn’t the music she planned!
One of the unique things about this book is that it goes into the more enjoyable parts of music. Rather than simply following the typical pattern of ‘learn your sheet music and then play it right,’ Alison McGhee illustrates the value and power of improvisation, and how music itself can be the guide in deciding how to play and what to play. This is a great lesson to learn – and the earlier a person can learn it the better, because when your memory fails you on stage, your emotions are still in tact (though seared slightly!), and can guide you to still make beautiful music. Music is a thing of the heart, andSong of Middle C demonstrates that well. Song of Middle C is a fun read, and a must have for parents with young children in piano lessons. It will help them prepare for their own recital, and teach them the power of music itself when guided by the imagination.
Even Lunch Bucket, who is only three years old, loves the book, and insisted after our first reading of it that she needs her own pair of lucky pannies!
Remember the old Muppet show with the two pink… well, whatever they were – some kind of muppets with permanent ooooh mouths, and the shaggy little guy with sunglasses that sang, “Mahna Mahna” while wandering around the stage? Well, Lunch Bucket has the shaggy dude’s part down pat… at least the mahnah mahna part, though I think she leaves out the first “ma” leaving a nahmenah instead.
Took the munchkins shopping today. All I can say is…
Things started out all right. But soon Lunch Bucket and Tootles were fighting over a curtain set that we were purchasing, and when I took it from them, it was complete pandemonium.
I’m sure there was some in the store that suspected that I was kidnapping the kicking, screaming, and thrashing little three year old, as I took them both out to the car and left Jenni to do the shopping. Especially when the said three year old would not get in the car, and which I finally has to shove in the door and slam it before she escaped.
Tootles was only slightly more cooperative. At least he calmed down once he was in his carseat. Trying to buckle in the struggling Lunch Bucket was very challenging, but soon the three of us were sitting in the car amidst frantic tantrum gasps.
Jenni finished up the shopping and came out in time to see a calm but very pink and wet-faced Lunch Bucket.
We didn’t take her into any more stores after that. I did feel bad for her throughout the ordeal, but I felt at least as bad for me. Thinking back on it now, I feel even more bad for my poor parents.
While Jenni was pregnant with Lunch Bucket, I decided to write a collection of childrens stories to read to our kids. This was one of the stories I wrote. It’s a little long – but it was intended as a childrens book. I just thought it would be fun to share here:
Once upon a time there was a clockmaker. He could make large clocks, small clocks, blue clocks, green clocks, and just about any kind of clock you could think of. Whenever someone wanted a clock, they would come to the clockmaker’s shop, knock on the door, and say,
“Clockmaker, clockmaker! Where could you be?
I need a clock that is made just for me!”
And the clockmaker would come to the door and respond,
“I am the clockmaker, for heaven’s sake!
What kind of clock would you like me to make?”
Then the person would describe a special clock, such as one that chirped like a bird, or crowed like a rooster. Some would ask him to make a clock that grew out of the ground from a seed. Others would ask him to make a clock that sang, or danced, or laughed, and the clockmaker could always fulfill the request.