December 27, 2004
My Little Capricorns

This girl is now officially 6 years old…

…and this girl is now officially 4 years old.

Ok, you can stop growing up now!

December 20, 2004
See You Later

December 10, 2004
The Secret Songster

In another life I’d love to have a fabulous singing voice. I would wear a slinky but tasteful dress, stand onstage with a few backup musicians and do a little jazz number in front of an adoring audience. Every note and gesture would be just right.

In this life, however, I’m an occasional car singer who can’t hit most of her notes and would never sing in the presence of others. Driving along, I can convince myself—momentarily—that I am Stevie Nicks. Then I snap out of my reverie and the dissonance inside the vehicle is painfully obvious.

What I want is a way to learn how to sing that doesn’t involve lessons or any exertion on my part. The problem is that talented musicians make it look simple. A microphone and an earnest look are all it seems to take for beautiful sounds to come out of their mouths. I want that effortless perfection.

This is a just fantasy for me, after all. The way some people dream of winning an Olympic race without hitting the track everyday or writing a book without doing any actual writing—that’s how I feel about singing. I want the end result without the practice.

My sisters both have fabulous voices. They sing and play guitar, and everyone gushes about their talent (myself included). In fact, one of them is pursuing a music career. At a recent gathering, someone who doesn’t know our family well asked if I sing too, an easy assumption that people often make. “No. I’m the talent-less one,” I told him. (To which my dear Aunt Betty chimed in, “She’s a writer.”) It’s a bit disheartening though to have to continually explain that it’s strictly a double act.

When dismissing the idea of a possible musical trio, the argument that I make to myself is that my sisters already have “dibs” on the whole singing business. They’ve been practicing and performing for so many years that I’ll never catch up to their skill level. I’m sure they would gladly help me if I asked, but it would be humiliating to try to harmonize with the dynamic duo. Or is that just an excuse for not trying something that I might not be great at? Could this be the case of an admitted over-achiever who needs to lower her standards a bit in this one area?

Another admission is that I’m a certified introvert. I truly don’t want the spotlight except for limited, self-chosen moments. My professional musician sister may get a thrill from performing but I’d rather stay behind the scenes, away from the spectators. So what would be the purpose of learning to sing if I don’t even want to be heard? Who would I sing for—myself?

Well, maybe I could learn to sing for my own benefit. If I allowed vocal development to be merely a hobby, without any pressure to excel, I might enjoy myself. I could just see where it leads, with no expectations or even any objectives other than having fun.

I’ve heard that a way to improve your voice on an informal basis is to find some performers who sing in your range and practice singing along with their music. I’ve been trying this approach, but so far I’ve found only one band that works for me: Stone Temple Pilots—a once-popular rock and roll group. When STP comes on the radio, it’s like I’m channeling the lead singer Scott Weiland (but without the heroin addiction); I sound surprisingly good doing his material. While I’m encouraged by this, I’m not sure how it bodes for my musical future. There probably isn’t much interest in listening to someone do STP cover songs, so I may have to find another artist or two whose voice I can pleasingly replicate.

It’s a good start though, singing along with someone harmoniously. If I can drop the talent-for-free fantasy and accept that it takes work to learn how to do something new, I might be able to make some improvement. Clearly, I wasn’t born with the gift of a beautiful voice. But after practicing awhile I can always put on my best outfit, invite a friendly audience and maybe publicly sing one song in this lifetime.

December 03, 2004

J.= kindergarten daughter
S. = preschool daughter

Me: You have doughnuts all over your face but you’re so cute that I don’t care.
S: You mean you don’t mind.
Me: Ok…[wondering, when did she become part of the grammar police?]


The girls make signs that they put up around the house with tape including ones that say, “No dogs, no dogs, no dogs” (when they’re playing with toy cats) and “Girls Only” on their bathroom door (to which they later added “and boys” so as not to hurt daddy’s feelings). My newest favorite though, is J.’s sign that reads, “No going here unless you really need to go here.”


Asking S. about the kids in her preschool class to find out who she’s friends with…

S: I know someone named Milan…
Me: What does she look like?
S: She’s little.
Me: [Gee thanks. Considering you’re all three years old, that’s a real helpful description]

BUT the next day at school when the kids lined up at recess, I saw Milan. She was tiny, much smaller than the other children. Touche, S. I apologize for underestimating your descriptive powers.


Lying in bed last night after story time…

J: Do you know why they call the number seven lucky?
Me: Hmm, not really. [I couldn’t think of a non-gambling reference fast enough]
J: I think it’s because you get to borrow things from the library for seven days and they don’t make you pay anything.
Me: Maybe you’re right.
J: I believe that’s why it’s lucky seven.


As I lecture S. about something the other day, I tell her that she has to be “a big girl”…

S: [interrupting my speech] But I’m just a medium girl.
Me: Well, yes…I guess I sometimes expect a lot of you, forgetting how young you really are.
S: I can’t wait til I’m four!


These kids keep me on my toes.