Month: September 2017

For Those About To Rock

It should come as no surprise by now that music makes up a huge part of my life. In fact, I think I’ve mentioned it enough that it’s just a given by now. Hell, I’ve even released three books with music as a central theme!

The other night, I was sitting around listening to music with my daughter and we had some pretty great discussions about the different songs that played, like we always do. At four years old she is already full of little rock and roll factoids and it makes my heart smile.

As I was contemplating writing a post about it, I remembered that I had written about how important her musical education is to me. Today, I will be sharing that post exactly as it first appeared on my old blog on January 10, 2014.

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Last night, Almost-Mother-In-Law and I were sitting at the dining room table discussing my concerns that my daughter has inherited insomnia. It runs high in both my family and Almost-Husband’s and we have been fighting numerous sleep issues with her since she came out of the womb. As the conversation progressed, she started talking about what worked for her and her kids when they were small.

“We used to play an alphabet game,” she tells me. “I’d say, for example, animals that start with the letter B and he’d name one, then he’d ask me and so on.”

“I know that game!” I enthused. “Except when we played it with my mom we did bands or songs!” I went on, explaining that it didn’t stop with the alphabet. We’d do bands with a color in their name or songs with love in the title, for example. The games could go on for hours, especially on road trips. I still try to start one up every now and then.

Almost-Mother-In-Law looked perplexed for a moment. I could see the thoughts churning in her head: what kind of weirdo of a mom does that? How is that educational? There’s really people that into music? No wonder Brandyn’s the way she is!

I laughed as I explained that this is the same woman who had all us kids able to name all the members of the Beatles and the Stones by the time we could speak. In fact, a lot of time was dedicated to our Rock and Roll education. We’d listen to the radio and mom would give us a fun fact about the artist or the song. A rocker’s birthday never passed without acknowledgment. The older we got, the more in-depth the discussion became. We’d talk about the meanings of a song, the use of metaphors in lyrics, how to look at things in context. If we were looking for something to read, she’d helpfully guide us to an autobiography of a rock legend.

She also would have bought us this bear.

When we developed our own tastes, she’d make sure we had all the books and magazines we could want about our favorite bands and that we always had the full discographies. She’d go out at midnight to be sure we had the new releases when they came out. She’d listen with patience and enthusiasm while we prattled on about our favorite artists, even if she didn’t particularly like them or already knew what we were saying. She’d take us to concerts and signings, even if it meant a 7 hour drive or going without sleep the night before her yearly trip to Beatlefest. She validated our rights to have our own likes and opinions, to question the world around us, and to be heard. She encouraged our fancies. She made an effort to know what we were into and use those things as a frame of reference for teachable moments. In short, my mom rocks.

Now that I’m a mother, I find myself doing many of the same things. For example, the other day we were in the car and “I Can’t Drive 55” came on the radio. “That’s Sammy Hagar,” I told her. “He’s the Red Rocker. We like him solo, but we don’t like him with Van Halen.” She’s heard things like this repeatedly throughout her 14 months of life. She’s learning that David Bowie is the Thin White Duke, that David Lee Roth is Diamond Dave, that Johnny Cash is the Man in Black, that Ozzy Osbourne is the Prince of Darkness, Elvis is King and Lemmy is God. She hears that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards are the Glimmer Twins and that Steven Tyler and Joe Perry are the Toxic Twins. I could go on with the nickname thing, but I think you get the point.

We watch music videos and I point out each of the band members and tell her what their name is and what instrument they play. We work on pumping our fists, flipping the horns, and banging our heads. We dance, we sing. If she responds strongly to a certain song, we make sure we play it often for her. All because I feel that music is just as important to her education as colors, shapes, or the ABCs. It’s a wonderful medium that provides rich ground for all sorts of learning possibilities, regardless of what type it is and I can’t wait to see where this part of our journey will take us.

Now, the funny thing about all this is that not even an hour after having this conversation with Almost-Mother-In-Law, I ran across this. Funny how life can sync up sometimes. For those of you who aren’t going to click the link, it’s a freakin’ hilarious piece about talking to your kids about Ozzy. It’s done in the style of a bit about talking to your kids about sex or drugs, and it just so perfectly captures how my family does things that I couldn’t help but to share.

Maybe your family’s thing isn’t music, or maybe it’s a different type of music. Maybe it’s baseball or it’s larping or something. Maybe your family has many “things”. Maybe your family hasn’t found its thing, yet. Whatever the case, I think shared interests serves to unify a family and strengthen it’s bond. They can provide a starting point for engaging conversations. The more you’re able to communicate, the more chances you have to impart your lessons and values. The more often these come up organically as part of a mutually enjoyable conversation, the better the chances are that those little nuggets of information will really sink in.

Music is how my mom got through to me and I’m grateful that I had such an amazing teacher. I hope that I am able to use the same template to serve my daughter as she learns, develops, and grows, whatever her “thing” may be.

Home Alone: What I Learned From 2 Weeks Without My Husband

When my husband first brought up the idea of going out to Oregon to mine for gold with his uncle and his mother, I brushed it off as a passing fancy. With the new baby cooking up, using the majority of his vacation time seemed like a bit of a stretch, and this summer had already been pretty full.  I assumed it would just kind of go to the wayside like so many half-planned vacations, and honestly didn’t think much about it until he brought it up again. And again. And again.

After many conversations and a lot of thought, I began to see this as a great opportunity for all of us. Sure, the timing was a little wonky, but it would be much harder for him to go do something like this once there are two littles around. Plus, I tend to take a lot of short trips throughout the year with my own mother or with friends, and he never really takes the same amount of time for himself.  Every parent deserves a break, and I knew he really needed this.

As he started planning for his trip, I started dreaming of all the things I could get done while he was gone. I immediately decided that cooking full meals for just my 4 year old daughter and I was absurd and created my meal plan around simple dinners and frozen food. That alone was going to save me time! Add the hours after my daughter goes to bed and the possibility of sending her to my mom’s for a night or two, and I was looking at a little vacation of my own.  By the time he came home, we’d both be refreshed.

On the Sunday he was set to leave, our child woke up vomiting and the excitement I had built up began to wane. I remained focused on the positive. Surely there’d be some great lessons to be found in this.

Boy was I right.

The first lesson I learned is that my husband is much better at dealing with illness than I am (among other things).

He’s usually the one cleaning up bodily fluids and offering comfort to our daughter, while I take care of things like bringing soup or administering medicine. Sure, I always give snuggles and do what I can to keep her comfortable, but he is much better at being a calming presence and making her smile than I am.  I hadn’t really recognized this until he wasn’t here to dad it up, and I instantly felt guilty that I hadn’t ever given him credit for that. In fact, over the course of his trip I discovered that there are many things I don’t give him enough credit for. I hadn’t realized how much I rely on him throughout the day.

 

life lessons, while my husband's away

Soup in front of the TV, pretty much the best comfort I can give.

Instead of allowing myself to feel guilty about this, I sent him a quick message to let him know how I felt and have set my sights on making sure I thank him more often. We really are a great team, and part of being a team is being encouraging to one another.

The second lesson I learned was that I have more time in a day than I think. 

We soldiered on and Monday I kept my child home from school. By mid-afternoon she started perking up a bit and had finally stopped throwing up and Tuesday I let her go back to school. As she had slept a lot, I took care of a lot of cleaning and organizing that needed to be done and I realized how much time I waste waiting for the weekend when I have my husband home to help with these things.

By the time I dropped her off Tuesday, I was out of stuff to scrub in the main area of the house. None of it had taken long at all, and I’d worked in short bursts, taking long breaks between tasks. It was interesting to me, because I had had the same amount of time in a day that I usually have. In fact, I had stopped working about the time he would usually be coming home from work.  The only difference was I’d psyched myself up about getting everything done instead of sitting around dreading the work and finding ways to distract myself. Maybe I needed to keep that in mind.

Come Wednesday she was sick again and I had to drag her to the doctor, and by Friday I was being seen for the same bug. Although the illness slowed me down a bit, I still managed to knock a ton of stuff off the to-do list, which helped me come to the realization that there is more than enough time in a day if I keep my head in the game.

The next thing I learned was that my life is just as interesting as anyone else’s.

This may seem like a ridiculously reductive statement, but it’s something I’ve struggled with when it comes to keeping up my social media presence.  We all know that in this day and age social media is incredibly important when building a brand, and it’s something I often find myself slacking on.  In fact, I’ve mentioned it on here once or twice.

The problem has always been that I’ve never thought I had anything interesting to share. If I’m not writing, I’m doing normal stay-at-home mom stuff. I pretty much stay in my house, and since I don’t do the cell phone thing, when I do go out I don’t have the ability to instantly upload a photo. On top of that, I’m generally a private person and don’t even share on my personal Facebook page that often. I look at all the posts from other bloggers, authors, and assorted artists that I admire and they all share personal posts that make me feel like I can relate to them, and yet seem so much more exciting than my own life.

 

while my husband is away, life lessons

Me, clearly excited about life.

Before my husband left, I decided to use the two weeks to give myself a social media challenge. During those 14 days I would have to find at least one thing to share. Since my Instagram links to my author page of Facebook and my Twitter account, I set my sights on taking one picture per day to document my time home alone. Surely I could find something funny or at least slightly interesting to share if I focused on the perks and challenges of handling the homefront on my own.

I managed to hit most of these days, which was a huge accomplishment for me. Sure, there were a few days where I couldn’t find anything to post, or simply put it off, but I dramatically increased my confidence in using the various social media platforms that used to fill me with dread. Not only did it help me overcome a huge stumbling block, but it increased my engagement, which was definitely needed!

The last thing I learned was that I can really hustle when I need to.

By the time my husband called to tell me they were leaving a few days ahead of schedule, I was more than ready for him to come home. Between my daughter being ill and passing it on to me, the challenges of dealing with a child who’s routine has been completely turned upside down, and the lack of adult interaction, I was beat. I was missing him like crazy and couldn’t wait to catch up…and then dump the kid on him so I could take a breather.

However, I was slightly panicked as I had hatched a plan to completely redo the bathroom before he returned. Due to conflicting schedules, the only day I could get both  a sitter and some help was the Saturday before he was to come home With the trip being cut short, I now had to rush if I was going to pull off the surprise…and that meant doing it alone.

I managed to get everything done, except painting the very top of the walls.

 

while my husband's away

Stupid short arms.

As it turns out, even with a ladder I wasn’t tall enough to reach, so I had to leave it to be finished later. Still, I was happy to have made so much progress, and he loved the results.

 

redoing the bathroom, life lessons, while my husband's away

Not pictured: the horrendous white strip between the light fixture and ceiling.

All in all, the time alone was extremely eye opening, and I’m glad for the experience. That said, I am certainly not in any rush for my husband to take another trip alone!  Getting back to the routine has been wonderful and I can’t wait to see how these lessons change the way things run from here on out.

 

 

 

Special Announcement: There’s Some Big Changes Going On!

“I need to write a new blog post soon,” I told myself, sitting down in front of my computer Tuesday morning. “I have about 80 drafts started, if I get my head in the game I can get a bunch of them finished.”

I typed in the address and attempted to log-in, shocked when it took me to a screen declaring my website was down.

I immediately hopped over to Bluehost and found that my hosting fees had been due on the 4th…not the 9th like I had written down on my calendar. With a sigh, I closed my laptop. It was two days ’til payday, nothing could get done until then.

I quickly shook it off and busied myself with housework. It didn’t take long until I was ready for a break, which lasted about 5 minutes before my 4 year old daughter needed me to get her some milk.  As I poured her drink, I couldn’t help but think about how far off track I’ve gotten with my blog and social media posts lately. In fact, I hadn’t really worked on the next novel much either.

I carried the beverage back to my child and collapsed on the couch, feeling exhausted. She curled up beside me and I smiled. At least I hadn’t gotten too off track with her.

I took a moment to remind myself that it’s okay to slip every now and then. Sometimes we need rest. Especially when there’s a lot of big changes going on.

With my daughter starting preschool a few weeks ago, I have been busy adjusting to a new routine. A routine that will undoubtedly be shaken up again in the very near future as the changes taking place in my body culminate in a brand new life.

Hold up…does this mean?

Yes, ladies and gents, yours truly is pregnant with Baby #2!

I found out shortly after the Fourth of July and it has been so hard to keep it in!

In fact, we went against all the usual advice and told immediate family and our closest friends very quickly. After going through multiple losses, I found that for me personally, I’d rather have the uncomfortable conversation if something goes wrong and have the love and support of my family and friends, than go through it alone.

However, we waited to tell everyone else until after we had our first ultrasound and entered the “safe zone”.  Now that that is done, I can share with you!

 

simple pregnancy announcement

My little princess is so excited!

I am now a little over 14 weeks along and everything is going smoothly. All the nausea and exhaustion is starting to subside and I’m finally feeling like a functioning human again. Of course, that’s likely to change again in a number of months, but I’ll take the reprieve, no matter how brief!

Ever since I took that first test, I have been unable to focus on anything else. I’ve been making my lists and worrying about everything I need to have done before the little one gets here. There’s all sorts of housework and decluttering to be done, a new budget to work out, and a name to choose. There’s changes to account for in the timelines of some goals.

And of course, there’s a lot of work to catch up on in terms of my career! Posts to write and schedule, a book to finish, and a few other projects to deal with…to say I’m a little overwhelmed is an understatement!

Of course, I felt this way when I was pregnant with my daughter as well.  I was a nervous wreck and had a huge list of things I wanted to do before she arrived. I wound up knocking out a good chunk of that list, and ultimately none of it was as big a deal as I’d made it out to be.

This time, I think I have some reasonable goals and am so excited to get everything in place!

Over the past couple weeks I’ve finally gotten my writing groove back and am back to work on the fourth book in my “Instruments of Life” series. In the interest of not taking on more than I can chew at the moment, I’m aiming for it to be out in March, however I am hoping to have it ready sooner than that if possible. I’m really excited about this one and I can’t wait to wrap it up and share it with you all!

With so much going on, I’m sure to have more than enough fodder for blog posts between now and then, so be on the lookout for new posts! In addition to finding them on my Facebook and Twitter pages, you can also subscribe to this blog via email at the bottom of the page.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you all and as always I want to extend a huge “Thank You!” to my wonderful readers for all your love and support!

Let the new chapter begin!

 

 

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