Tuesday, March 30, 2010

For the Love of Sugar

Last night my husband took our seven-year old grocery shopping with him. (This is just one of countless reasons I love my husband - he shops! With kids!) When I was a kid we always loved it when Dad did the grocery shopping (think donuts, Cheetos, white bread, and chocolate milk as opposed to the usual Shredded Wheat, Triscuts, brown bread, and white milk). Must be a Dad thing because the same thing happens at our house. Since I'm grateful to not have to do the shopping myself, I have to be okay with what comes out of the grocery bags, right?

Last night it was a 5 lb. tub of red licorice with our son's name on it. (REALLY?!)

So when I was tucking him into bed last night, he got this gleam in his eye and offered, "Wanna know where my secret hiding place for my licorice is? It's just in case of...endangered circum...um, chances. Ya know, like if we run out of sugar completely sometime."

I love it - "endangered circumchances" for "in dangerous circumstances"! Like no sugar.

This took me right back to my Grandpa Christensen's multiple cartons of Braum's ice cream in the freezer, with another half a dozen or so in the deep freezer. "Just in case of emergency," he'd say with a twinkle in his eye. He's had his secret stash for as long as I can remember. You know, priorities. We all have them!

(I had never seen this picture of me and Grandpa until my mom brought it out with her a few weeks ago. My heart melted!)

The funny thing about red licorice is that it has always been my mom's favorite treat, but I could take it or leave it, and usually I leave it. But when I was pregnant with this little guy, I craved red licorice like nothing else. It had to be Red Vines, and those weren't available to us in Italy, so my parents actually shipped a huge tub of them to me! Guess I shouldn't be too surprised that my son wants his own huge tub of them now.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Remembrance and Understanding

“Remembrance and understanding the past are key components of musical artistry…”

Wow! This statement popped out at me today from an article calling for volunteer orchestra members for a Holocaust Memorial program. I feel like it sums up a lot of the thoughts and experiences I’ve had recently about the founding of America, my own family history in its Colonial beginnings, and how this has coincided with my husband’s recent military promotion. Through all of these things I’m about to describe, I’ve had “The Star Spangled Banner” running through my mind that I recorded for his ceremony. My sense of belonging in this great nation and responsibility to see it through its current tests has been continually on my mind.

Preparing for lots of family and friends around for the big event, we started it off with a nice getaway trip down to Colonial Williamsburg with my parents! Among the many things to do there, we took a children’s tour of the Art Museum focused on George Washington. I loved seeing the old furniture, ceramic dishes, and musical instruments as well as the artwork. These are a few of my favorites.

Me & my dad with a display of unique violins, including a Turtleshell violin, Sun & Moon (in 4 different phases) violin, and a Cigar Box fiddle - very cool!

If I played the banjo, I would want a cool case like this one for it!

While in the area, my dad and I looked through our family history records and located ancestors several generations back that have called this area home. Jamestown is a particularly meaningful spot for us since on the Goodman side, we are descendants of Pocahontas! The boys think that is especially cool.

Back home in the DC area, Eric’s parents flew in for his promotion ceremony and spent some time in the District seeing the monuments. We loved having both sets of grandparents here to celebrate with us, since his past promotions have taken place while living overseas and they weren’t able to be there.

I had never been in the Pentagon, so I don’t know what to compare it to on another day, but it was a kind of stressful day to be having a ceremony there. Just the night before, there was a shooting outside one of the entrances. Gratefully it was not as horrific of a scene as it had the potential to be, but still it was a jolting reminder.

Consequently, not only was the Pentagon metro stop closed, but there was just one way in and out of the massive building that day. Luckily the boys made it through the wait in line outside with the cold wind whipping around us!

Once we’d gotten through all the security and had a little time to look around, our wonderful escorts took us down the hallway displaying quilts that had been given in memory of 9-11. It was an emotional walk down that hallway and I’m sure always will be.

My husband told me the highlight of his ceremony was when “The Star Spangled Banner” was played - he stood with his eyes closed (it was the first time he had heard my recording of it) as tears streamed down his cheeks. A friend of ours who was sitting on the back row told me that as far as he could see down the corridors, people had stopped and stood still to listen until it was over. I had so many people tell me how deeply it touched them – that it was a reminder on a personal level – and that they want a copy of it! Eric has told me several times since then, “You’ve got to share this.” So once I’ve got all the details squared away, that is my plan!

The boys got to pin on their dad's new rank (with a little assistance from me and Grandma Johnson)

One of the last stops we squeezed in was to Mt. Vernon, the home of George Washington. It was a beautiful day and yet another inspiration to me of the greatness our country was founded upon. If you haven’t been there, when you go, I highly recommend your first stop be in the movie theater. I understood a lot more about his life and courage that helped me to appreciate everything else we saw there. As my mom said, you can just feel the history as soon as you’re there and it is a very special thing to be part of.

The movie's closing line, which was also my favorite, went something like this: “Will we ever see another like him? Perhaps - if we live up to his vision.” That is our challenge, our responsibility, and our blessing! Remembrance and understanding the past are key components to the artistry of our lives as American citizens.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Back in the Saddle Again

It’s been a busy few weeks around here! We’re getting ready for my husband’s promotion in the Air Force in just a few days. Recently I had the idea to record “The Star Spangled Banner” for his promotion ceremony, and I’m happy to say that it’s done! (Had to reschedule with all the snow we got; happy that Bias Studios could squeeze me in just in time!) Here’s a picture from the session Thursday night.

It was fun to realize how much I’d learned from working on “A Time to Love” and I was reminded again that these recording engineers have the coolest job in the world! Maybe in my next life…. But for now it’s great to be on this side of the microphone.

So, a little about the Star Spangled Banner. I have always loved America and grew up feeling a great sense of pride in our country and gratitude for the freedoms we have been blessed with. Since becoming a military wife, it’s even harder for me to hear and sing patriotic songs without choking up. We were stationed overseas for our first assignment and it became very personal to sing...

“O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!”

...because suddenly that was my husband and all of our friends that I was singing about. Even when the national anthem was played before every show at the movie theater on Aviano (Italy) Air Base, I would stand with everyone else and blink back my tears, regardless of whatever flick we were there to see!

This deep commitment is what I hoped to convey through my interpretation of the national anthem on this recording. My accompanist, Matt, and recording engineer, Cory, both rocked and the arrangement is gorgeous, so I’m thrilled with the end product! My husband will hear it for the first time when it’s played at his ceremony Friday, so we’ll see if I hit the mark. If I did, I hope to be including this number on a future album!