Wednesday, September 20, 2017

That time my daughter sung in front of a crowd...

Since the day my daughter discovered her voice formed understandable words, she hasn't stopped talking. In fact, it was around her first birthday that she begun to memorize a few simple nursery rhymes to add to her language.

My daughter speaking has always filled the quiet air since she was only 5 months old (when dadda first exited her lips). She was determined to add as many words into her vocabulary as her maturing brain would allow. 

And Hooplakidz on YouTube, quickly became her first love.

Eventually, she would sing more than she spoke. And her ability to memorize multiple songs at one time was always impressive to me. But I was/am determined to be a humble mom, so I always kept my daughter's talents on the down-low, in fear of being -"That Mom."

At a later time, Frozen graced our lives and her nursery rhyme songs immediately transferred over to magical Disney princess themed songs. Quickly, she learned every word of each song on our soundtrack and little by little, she started changing her voice to fit the melody of, Let It Go.

At first, I didn't see the talent, because Idina Menzel sings so elegantly and high. My daughter was hitting the notes and sounded great, but it was in a different key. And being only 4-5 years old, I would just praise her for her ability and go about our days.

Since then, she sung Let it Go and Troll's Get Back up Again, in her kindergarten and 1st grade talent shows. It wasn't competitive, so there weren't any winners. And family wasn't allowed to attend because it wasn't a big-to-do. She would tell me it went fine, and that was it.

However, within the past year, she developed a love for America's Got Talent and loves watching these kids make their dreams come true. She started to see how they were able to take a song and make it their own -with their own abilities. Then, our home begun to fill with YouTube karaoke versions of adult songs and her belting out each line, almost perfectly.

When I would hear silence, I sauntered to her bedroom to see what happened. I would stand in her doorway, out of sight, and watch her quietly write down her own songs. She would cross out lines, add new ones, then sing a few lines, and make more adjustments. Her concentration and interest finally sparked a chord in me. I started to take her more seriously. And I helped her with songs and offered different suggestions as well.

Then, a few months ago, in passing, I heard her sing Alicia Keys, Girl on Fire (she heard it from a girl on The Voice Australia). And it finally all clicked. I was blown away. I realized her singing Let It Go didn't make sense, because that isn't her voice style. She doesn't have that choir sound. Instead, she has a soul voice, with a bluesy undertone. It's a signature voice that stands out. And that song emphasized it.

And she not only nailed the chorus, she blew it out of the water for only newly turning 7 years old...

So needless to say, my taking notice just took a front seat. And for her birthday, she was gifted an expensive karaoke machine from her Nana and Poppy.

Now, her aspirations upped to appearing on Ellen and being a famous singer.

But, I battle with privacy... I do on here too. I love to promote my way of parenting and hope my writings are relatable and help others on their parenting journey. But I keep what I can private, like names and locations. That's my balance, and after 3 years, I figured out how to navigate it all while still sharing.

But, to put a video out there, makes me nauseous...

So I constantly delay.

I kept telling her to work on a few things. Thinking, I'd buy more time. But within a day or a week, she'd perfect what I asked. Then, I would offer up something else and she'd blow past that as well --So on and so forth.

Until I eventually said, you should be able to sing the song 10,000 times and it should never sound different each time.

We were at that point...

Then, this past Thursday evening, I checked my daughter's backpack and saw an open mic talent show sheet for our local Harvest Festival. Problem was, it was for the next evening. I paced, wandered, and waded through my thoughts, until I figured I should included my daughter into the process...

She begged and pleaded to do it and assured me she was ready.

Friday morning, I called the person in charge to asses the situation. I didn't want my newly 7 year old involved in some mega catty competition -think, Abby's school of dance.

-They assured me that it was family oriented.

So come Friday, we registered for the open mic.

We didn't have music with us, as this was literally last minute. But the other contestants did. And they ranged from 18 to my daughter's age and they were all in one category.

My daughter started to get nervous, as her time was quickly approaching (as anyone obviously would). She rattled off that she didn't think she could do it, but when they announced her name, a switch went off and she walked to the stage. She asked me to join her, which of course, I obliged. So I sat with my feet dangling off the stage beside her. 

She sung, Girl on Fire, acapella -she stood frozen in one place and barely looked away from me, but as she finished, the crowd cheered and she smiled the biggest smile and proudly walked off.

What a fete!

For her first time ever performing in front of anyone and trying to navigate a mic with surround sound, I was impressed.

And apparently, so were the judges, as they placed her third. The first and second place winners have performed before. And the first place winner was in a local theater group. So, with my daughter placing third among that pedigree, I was impressed again...

And her reward was to perform at the Harvest Festival on Sunday.

The day of, she worked the room, thanking the judges for the opportunity again and again. Many friends and family came out to support her, and the ones who couldn't make it, eagerly waited for the video to be posted on my personal social media.

Right before her performance, she was focused and still. She didn't talk much or move about. She was nervous, yet excited. And anxiously waited to be announced.

Then, right before walking on stage, she has another moment of panic. But this time, she said, "I won't let fear get in the way of my dreams," and took the mic from the stage manager and walked up the six steps to the stage, that overlooked about 50 people (with a crowd of 100+ passerbys in the background).

She announced her name and gave a thumbs up to the sound guy. I sat nervously on the ground in front of her -locking eyes. But when the music started, she didn't need me for comfort. She naturally transformed into someone else, effortlessly. And then, she started to sing. And I heard the random, "wow!" from behind me. And when she belted out the chorus, the crowd cheered -loudly. And the random passerbys, stopped and also cheered. Soon, people were watching and listening. And when she ended, she got a standing ovation.




She may have won third, but she gave a first place performance...

This time, she had stage presence, charm, and worked the crowd. And again, for just turning 7 years old, with no professional lessons, and her first time performing, I was proud. So proud, that I cried like a baby... Even other people cried too. 

It was an awesome experience.

And she told the judges upon exiting that she'll see them again next year, but she's trying for first place.

The best part of this journey wasn't only the process, but also, the conclusion too. Because, as we all continued to talk so much about it, reliving the moment over and over, my daughter was over it. Yes, she was happy, but she was incredibly humble about it. Or, she didn't quite realize how awesome it all was and how big of a step it was for her. Either way, I was not only proud of her performance, but I was also proud of her character. And to me, that makes her more of a star...

And when I figure out how to watermark the video, I might post it on here... So stay tuned :)

And now, she's working on Andra Day's, Rise up.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Mid Week Humor: Netflix binges...

Me: (6:00 pm) Oh my god! I'm soooo tired. I'm not sure how I'm going to make it another minute...
Also me: (1:00 am) Just one more episode. Come on! You aren't a quitter!

The Happy Days Blog

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

That time my son started preschool...


Well here I am, 3 years later, sitting in front of the same double doors that started it all with my daughter. 

My son started preschool yesterday. In the same building that my daughter did, in the same classroom, and with the same teacher... 

I wrote so many posts on my blog and Instagram about our past journey, because the transition for her was difficult. But, I continued with my peaceful parenting ways and never lost sight of my child's needs the entire time. And, I'm grateful for this preschool and the staff because, they allow me to parent my way... And I firmly believe, the gentle process helped form my daughter's love for school. And, even though she sometimes still cries when she leaves me, she immensely enjoys her day after the initial separation. Whereas, if she was peeled from me and left to cry to some stranger, she still wouldn't be so quick to leave all these years later... 

But yesterday I learned something... 

I learned, that my son isn't my daughter. And yesterday was such an easy transition, so easy in fact, that I was waiting for the other foot to drop. I sat in that empty parking lot, waiting for my phone to ring. Waiting to hear they needed me to comfort my crying son... And weirdly, I felt more unprepared for him doing great versus him having trouble. 

I called the school during the half-way mark, while I was still in the parking lot, because my anxiety was getting the better of me. The staff said, he was doing amazing, and was maybe even more social than my daughter... I was speechless...

But even after that phone call, and as the time slowly crept past, I kept thinking, he has to be crying by now, right? 

Well, when the 2.5 hrs were up, I was the first through those doors. By this time, my brain was playing out multiple negative scenarios... 

I felt like I was locked away from my child long enough and I was dying to see his face. Was he sad? Nervous? Confused? 

The classroom door opened and we locked eyes. 

And, he smiled the biggest smile and was so excited to see me. But even better, he said, he had so much fun and couldn't wait to go back!

I hugged him extra long and sung my praises...

What I also wasn't prepared for, was the conversation that unfolded in my backseat when we picked up my daughter... She was just as excited to hear about his day, as he was in telling her. 

She acted like a mother, softly hugging him, and telling him how proud she was for him.

They talked the whole way home about what they each learned and what they were going to learn. She talked about the fun things they would be doing in his school throughout the year and he can't wait.

It was like they were in their own secret club...

As the second day is preparing to play out, I still continue to be a little cautious with this whole situation. But, this school year has already thrown me off, by my daughter easily walking through her own set of doors without a single tear yet. 

It seemed both children miraculously aged within a week and it's a little difficult for my brain to keep up... 

I'm just hoping my son continues to love school, even after he finally figures out that he has to go continuously until May... And I'm hoping my daughter doesn't breakdown after the teachers go on strike again in just two short weeks...

But time will tell and I can't do anything to control those possible situations. All I can do is, reassure my children that they're doing great and how proud I am of them. And how brave they are to be actively involved in uncomfortable situations and are rocking it, like a boss...

... And thankfully, I have nothing but time to help them :) 

**If you want to read those posts about my daughter's preschool journey. Go to my blog's main page, on web version, and search the blog archive in the right side column. They will be under September 2014 until May 2015.**

*Here is one of the posts about my daughter...

Monday, September 4, 2017

That time I went to the beach and it was easier...

I could remember my first beach trip as a mom. I was almost 7 months pregnant with my son and my daughter had just turned 2 years old the week prior. There was a lot of down time and there also was a lot of walking back and forth from the pool to the ocean, because she couldn't decide which she liked better. I had to carry her over the hot pavement and across the mile long sand to the ocean waters. And then, we sat in the surf, as the waves crashed around us. Thankfully, she didn't want to travel any further out.

The next year, my son was only 8 months old and cut his first tooth -of course he did... There was a lot of crying during the day and the vast majority of my night was spent walking up and down the alley of the motel, so my daughter could sleep. My son also hated the sand and cried as soon as it touched him. And he wanted nothing to do with the ocean or pool.

There was also a year when, our car's air condition broke during the 5 hour drive down to the beach, in 98 degree temperatures. 

And another year, when we attempted to play mini golf and my son tried to swim in the murky water and my daughter tried to climb the windmill.

*Don't get me wrong, there were definitely great moments. Like, when my daughter learned how to boogie board for the first time. Or when we couldn't get my son off the sand, once he loved it... But for purposes of this article, we're going with the negative ;)

As a mom, I'm guilty of looking backwards towards the nostalgia of when my children were babies. There's an odd craving to keep our children young and their need for us, strong.

And for how many times I do look back at these photos and think, wow, I miss them being so little. I'm also struck with the realization of how wonderful it is to experience each new stage with them, as they get older. That the prior beach trips were filled with tears and their attention spans of gnats. And that, with each passing year they age, they age to a cooler, more adult-like person.

This is the first trip where we didn't have any tears or short attention spans... It was effortless and dare I say, relaxing? It reminded me of one of those stories you hear from a friend's cousin's brother's uncle... Never first hand.

My children are newly 7 years old and almost 5 years old and we spent the majority of this beach trip thrashing through the waves and boogie boarding in the ocean for hours. We sat on the balcony and talked. Colored. Played cards. We walked parts of the boardwalk and window shopped. We laughed more than ever. And swam in the pool when the sun dipped below the earth.

I've written about every beach trip since 2013 on this blog (You can search them by viewing the right side column of my blog and searching the month of August under each corresponding year). And each year, I always wrote about the chaos and the stresses. Then as usual, I put a positive spin on it all. But I always concluded with saying, one day, the chaos will all be over...
... Of course, in the moment, you never think it will. In the moment, you can never imagine a time when you won't be carrying your crying child or rocking a baby to sleep or begging your child to sit 2 minutes longer in a restaurant, while you shovel food down your throat like it's the end of the world. 

In the moment, it feels like you're caught in a spin cycle and can't get out...

But then one day, you do...

And you don't realize it happened until you have something to compare it to.

Like me, with this beach trip. This was the first year that I didn't feel like I needed a vacation from my vacation. I had fun WITH my children, instead of around them. And the most monumental moment was, my children slept in until 10:30 am. One of the days, I actually woke up earlier than them and sat on the balcony with my coffee and was unsure what to do with myself.

But my main message of this post to all you mamas out there reading this and doubting the infamous family vacation is, always take the vacation... Sure, it might be hard. But, you'll also have great memories. Some good, some bad, but memories to share later in life nonetheless. Then one day, it will all click and it will be easy and fun. And each year following, it will be easier and easier until eventually, they're with their friends and you and your spouse are sitting alone on the beach. And you'll watch all those new parents with frustration written all over their faces and you'll silently reminisce to your earlier days at the beach with your little ones. And you'll miss it. You'll miss it hard. And you'll immediately want to do it all over again, even knowing the tough moments, just to be part of it one more time.

Because, you only have these short times with them. And, we're only the center of their universe for a blip in time. And, when it's over, it's over. And you can't go back...

And even though I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and look forward to the following years to come, a part of me was saddened by the lack of consistency. Like, a chapter of their lives is now over...

So, create the memories, cry with the frustration and tiredness, laugh at the awkward tantrums, and enjoy the measly 5% of good moments when they're young. But remember, it all changes so quickly... And, that might be the last tantrum you see. Or, the last inconvenient nap taken. Or, the last time you'll carry your child across the sand. Or, the last time they'll ride the baby rides on the boardwalk, that were in the hottest building ever, while they're on their 15th go around...

Enjoy it all...

Friday, August 4, 2017

What growing up with a rock and roll manager father passed down to my daughter...

For as long as I can remember, music has always been a huge part of my life. In all my childhood videos, CCR, The Beatles, The Pretenders, The Who, ETC. can all be heard in playing in the background... This was mainly because, my dad was a pretty big deal in the music scene, in New York and New Jersey, during the 1970's. This time and place was the hub of local bands. This is when Jon Bon Jovi, Kiss, Twister Sister, Blondie, and others all started out. Authors have even written books about this era of music and the impact it had on rock and roll moving forward... 

Growing up, there was nothing to have musicians in and out of my home during the day - and some pretty famous ones too. They were either stopping by to prep for the night or dropping off backstage passes, as my brother and I were teenagers. 

I remember dancing on stage at night, when I was around my children's age, and helping my dad hang posters during the day. I had a desk in my bedroom and would "practice" talking on the phone to band members and prepare my calendar for the events. 

I wanted so desperately to be in the music scene and be in a band. I wanted to sing vocals like Joan Jett and play an electric guitar too. And I was lucky enough to be born into a very musically inclined family. Growing up, my grandparents and uncles always sat around a table in someone's home, laughing and strummed the guitar to Johnny Cash songs. They all learned how to play by sound, never having a lesson in their lives. My uncle's were also in bands and one of them still sounds strikingly similar to Bob Dylan. 

Although, my dad wasn't ever in a band, he did have a gift of finding talent. He created a successful empire of managing rock and roll bands, when he was only in his early 20's. 

So, at a young age, I always thought that would be me. But the times changed and bands faded out and DJs became the new "it" thing. And music unanimously moved into rap and grunge came and went, in the blink of an eye... 

And also, sadly, I didn't inherit any musical talent. I do however, have a talent of being able to identify a known song by only a single chord, but that isn't going to win me any medals. And my singing ability kind of sounds like cats are being held under water and even if I learned the guitar, I don't have the ear to blend the chords. 

So by my teen years, my dreams of being a famous rock and roll star and living the glitzy life, quickly dissipated and I just enjoyed watching them instead...

Fast forward to 2017, which seems to be the rebirth of rock bands... And in our area, bands are making a come back. Some past members my dad used to manage in the 80's, now have formed new bands and are playing at local venues. 

And being that they still fondly remember my father, it's like a section of time has been hollowed out and replaced with my children... 

Since my daughter was old enough to talk, which her first word was spoken at 5 months old, she has wanted to sing. Early on, she had the innate ability to memorize full length songs at only 2 years old. And the best part is, she can actually sing. Like, really good. And the older she gets, her voice becomes more full and she can hit the highest notes, like Elsa's voice in Let It Go, without cracking once. 

Her newest talent is showing off at public places by singing, Alicia Key's Girl on Fire, almost identically. And strangers are shocked that she's only 6 years old.

But the fun times begin when we go to local restaurants to watch our favorite bands play and they invite her on stage to sing. Or, have her dance next to the lead singer. Or even, announce her name to make her feel like she's on top of the world. 

Just this past weekend, we were at a family member's graduation party and my parents, of course, knew the band. And the lead singer was a woman and my daughter was completely enamored by her. Mostly because, she walked with a wireless microphone and held it close to my daughter so she could also sing... and they even did a duet of, Shut up and Dance together. Which ended in a standing ovation from the crowd.



At 35 years old, music is still my 'go to.' When I need a pick me up, I throw on my favorite songs and when I need to zone out and reflect, I throw on some more songs... I have a vintage record player and my parent's original albums, that I love having on in the background. Vinyl will always be my favorite tune. And The Beatles Rubber Soul album will always be my favorite. 

So, when I hear my daughter jamming out to her favorite songs, I love it and encourage it, no matter how loud she gets. It reminds me of my youth. When I danced around my room with the infamous hair brush microphone and put my heart into every note - only, she sounds better. Much better...  

And when I see her sitting quietly at her desk, jotting down lyrics to songs she created, I feel so incredibly proud of her. That at only 6 years old, she has the discipline to stay focused and practice versus and edit and reedit, again and again.

The musical community is a special one and thanks to the team effort of my parents, I have a lot of awesome memories from my younger years. And now, it went full circle. Although, my daughter may not have the memories of her grandparents and uncles strumming away to their favorite songs. Instead, she has the memories of singing and dancing on stage to her favorite songs, with some pretty rad individuals. 

And, I love that she knows all the words to songs from artists like, Guns and Roses, White snake, CCR, Poison, etc...

And if her future is music, then I'm glad she has a pretty solid foundation of a generation-gifted family, before she ventures out. And I would be one proud mama cheering behind her and encouraging her to reach beyond the stars for whatever she wants... 

*And whenever I feel comfortable enough, one of these days, I might put up a video of her singing...

Friday, July 28, 2017

A new counter top adds charm and brings back memories...


It's raining, yet again. My children are playing Roblox and I'm watching, Father Knows Best, on my little on-air tube TV. Recently, we removed a half wall that stood behind my sink and put in a new white counter top with chairs, to open up my small kitchen and connect the kitchen and family room.

The white Formica reminds me of a 1980's hotel room, but I must say, it was hard to match a neutral color to existing pepto-bismol pink tiles... And eventually, I plan to paint the cabinets white and swap out the pink tiles for white ones.

These two rooms are the smallest two rooms in my home, but yet, where we spend all of our time. I'm usually tinkering in the kitchen, making something, my husband is on the couch (which would be behind this photo), and my children are sitting at this counter coloring or crafting... 

Being in this home for 9 years, I've realized that the four of us are definitely candidates to live in one of those tiny houses, because even at 1600 sq/ft, my home is too big...

And I love that we're always on top of each other... Because that way, our home is never filled with silence. Whether it's conversation, a television, a blender, or a brother and sister yelling at each other... Either way, these two rooms hold more love and memories than any other room in my home. And years from now, I can't imagine the emptiness I'll feel, when I stand at the other end of that sink, and look over, and see only my aging husband on the couch, without two children draped over him. Without hearing them talk louder than the television and eagerly try to get their words in before the other. Or, when I look to my right and imagine the red swing that used to hang from the doorway beam. Or, how many nights we made muffins and chocolate chip cookies, and danced in our pajamas to 1980's songs in the kitchen...

Smaller homes bring a wonderful togetherness, that seems to get lost in bigger homes (I mean that literally too - you can't have two people in my kitchen without having to hug the other person, in order to walk around them). And, I love how much more interaction this small little counter has already added to our days. 

...Also, once we removed the wall, we noticed the back of our faucet is peeled, so now we totally need a new one of those...
Hashtag: there's always something...

Monday, July 24, 2017

Making the most out of awful weather...

It has either been 90 degrees with 90% humidity or pouring rain with severe thunderstorms this whole summer. In turn, summer's been a bust thus far. Our dreams of afternoon trips to the farm, or playground extravaganzas, or even bike riding are canceled out in fear of heat exhaustion or getting caught under the darkened clouds looming low in the sky. 

But today, after an early thunderstorm (and tornado warnings in surrounding counties), we had a chance to get outside in the pool. The temperatures were only 78 degrees, with of course 80% humidity, but that didn't phase us, as the breeze felt wonderful under our shaded tree.


I sat on my green high back chair on my patio, drinking my coffee in my pajamas, as my children laughed and splashed in the pool. I heard Marco Polo being played, whirlpools being created to trick a sea monster, and seeing who could win races back and forth...

This is what I imagined summer would be. Hearing my aging children play outside in our little oasis that was created solely for them. To breath the fresh air, instead of central air, and feel the sun against our skin. But instead, lately, we're caught in a groove of watching Netflix, YouTube, and playing Roblox. Of course, only after we're bored from crafting, coloring, and board game playing. And, after they've played on their own with Batman and pretend school. 

There seems to be too many hours in the day and not enough good weather to enjoy each moment. We're outdoorsy people and feel the confinement of being indoors almost instantly. So, we try to run between the rain drops and get outside, even if it's to swim in the pool for a few minutes, or climb their rope swing and rope latter for a few more minutes after that. 

This awful weather seems to be the pattern we're stuck in and it's looking like it'll continue well into next month as well. So we're going to keep making the most out of our days and hope for the sunshine to last a little longer than an hour. And, if we cross our fingers tight enough, we might even get an early evening patio fire in. Where we can have dinner and a snack of smores on our thick blanket among the dry air... 

Maybe. Just maybe... We'll salvage some of this summer, before our end of the season beach trip in just three weeks and school begins almost immediately after that.