Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Making Beautiful Music Together

When I was four years old, my mother took me to Kindermusik
classes -- some of the first in the U.S. My mom then became my first
piano teacher, starting me on lessons that would last through three
other teachers until I graduated high school. Later, my mom became a Musikgarten teacher, singing and dancing with other moms and babies.

that history, and the fact that my kids really love all sorts of music
and dancing, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit that I finally took
Junius and Pippi to our first music class
last week. But better late than never -- all three of us had a great
time singing, playing, dancing and jumping along with Ms. Angela and
the nine other mommies and 12 other children. In addition to being
great fun in a musical learning environment, it's also one of the few
activities I could take the kids to at the same time -- not a lot of
kids programs are open to both a 4-year-old and a 19-month-old.

the class, Ms. Angela encouraged all the mommies to sing regularly to
their children. "No matter what you think your voice sounds like," she
said, "your children will think it's the most beautiful sound they've
ever heard." I liked that advice and decided this was a good time to
stop listening to NPR in the car and start singing along with our new Music Together CD.

on our way to Nanna and PopPop's house last week, I put in the disc --
the kids were smiling and clapping and trying to sing along. And I'm
thinking what a great mommy I am that I can take them to this fun class
and then sing with them in the car and how happy they must be to hear
my beautiful voice.

Then Junius pipes up from the back seat. "Mommy," he says. "When you are singing...?"

I'm waiting for him to say how much fun it is when I sing and he can
sing and Pippi is learning to sing and how much he loves me...

"Mommy, when you are singing," he says, "I can't hear the music. Mommy, please don't sing."

His comment left me speechless, thus having the desired effect.

I'm just hoping he won't complain when I start singing even louder in class this week.

When Cyndi isn't offending her son by trying to sing with Music Together, she and her kids like to rock out with Big Bang Boom, They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies. She can also be found writing at Junius & Pippi Take the Cake.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Type A Mom Conference, Rock Star Style

Thursday morning, I said goodbye to my baby boy for the first time, and hit the road with Abby for the Type A Mom Conference in Asheville. As I confessed on my own blog, I was tentative, and made the decision to go mainly on the low cost and location.

For bloggers who aren't looking to connect with marketers or advertisers, sometimes the blogosphere, especially the mommy blogosphere becomes a little clouded, and the idea of attending a conference can be confusing.

"What? You mean you just want to write? You don't want a sponsor? You don't make money from your blog? You don't do giveaways? You don't want free products to review?"

There are a lot of us out there who don't.

There are a lot of us who do things, just because we like the idea of spreading joy and sharing good blog karma. Hopefully, our little RockBand party did just that because I know that getting to spend the weekend with the most amazing women on the internet did me a world of good.

And, no, we weren't sponsored by Nintendo or Activision. We were sponsored by our husbands who let us haul all that stuff with us to Asheville, just so we could have a good time with all the gals. I can't even say we were sponsored by the hotel, although they did bring us a nice TV into Mulligan's to use after lots of begging, boob showing, and eye batting.

Thank you to everyone who came by the bar and played with us. Also, thank you to everyone who ignored our Tweets that kept coming through saying we were getting ready to play and then didn't. We had a heck of a time finding a TV in the hotel that was made post-1973.


Triangle Mama's own Ilina, on guitar.


Triangle Mama's own Abby, on screaming vocals.


Triangle Mama's own Marty, reliving her rockstar days, but this time on drums.

We were joined by a host of others, and I would really like to link to each and every one of you, so if your picture appears here without some linky love, please leave me a comment and I'll add it. Or, of course, if I have mislabeled someone. I just couldn't meet and remember everybody who came by!


Ilina, Cutest Kid Ever, and Jessica get down with their bad selves.


MomSpark founder Amy on guitar. Heavy metal black fingernails were a bonus.


From left to right we have Gina from Moneywise Moms, who was also Julie the cruise director for a good part of the evening. She knew how to work the Wii better than anyone. That's Corrina, Down to Earth Mama, and Caroline, Morningside Mom, on background vocals, while Modern Mami and Jessica lead the choreography.


Amy, Resourceful Mommy, had a hand up as a former percussionist, or a stick up as the case may be.


Jon Bon Jovi never sounded better. This fabulous duo of Janine of Twin Mom Blog, and Jessica of Jessica Knows tore up "You Give Love a Bad Name." It was tres awesome.

Plus, Janine was also the brilliant blogger who brought up the point in the town hall meeting that now, whenever she mentions something on her blog that she likes, she feels like she has to disclose that she wasn't sponsored or paid to talk about it. Which I totally agree with, and already had to do in this post.

So thank you again, ladies, for playing with us and making this past weekend spectacular. It was an honor to spend it with you all.

Marty also blogs about her non rockstar life at Don't Take the Repeats. She rambles in 140 or less on Twitter as canape.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pizza Nostalgia

Even though Thomas Wolfe, himself a Tar Heel, said you can't go home again, I always like to try anyway when it comes to Chapel Hill. I spent four years there as an undergrad, then returned five years later for graduate school.

Over the years, one restaurant retained my unfailing loyalty:
Pepper's Pizza.

A couple weeks ago I had a work-related meeting in Chapel Hill, so I took the opportunity to head to the Hill early and treat myself to lunch at Pepper's. It's been a few years since I had eaten there, and I knew that the restaurant had changed locations, moving up Franklin Street a few spaces from its original site (shown here). I was nervous, hopeful, a little skeptical -- but I needed to know if it was still My Pepper's.

As I enjoyed my lunch (my "usual": diet coke, side salad no peppers no onions with ranch dressing, and a slice with zucchini and feta) which was thank goodness exactly wonderfully like it had always been, I had to laugh about how much things have changed.

Of course, the space is new -- much brighter and less grunge than the old space, with four televisions mounted on the walls. The wait staff still looked college-town-quirky, but none of the employees had multi-colored hair, large tattoos or excessive piercings. And even the music was different -- instead of head-banging alternative noise, I actually heard "Walking on Sunshine" (although, to be fair, that is one of my all-time favorite songs -- seriously, click the link and thank me later for putting that feel-good tune in your head and a skip in your step).

But what had really changed? Me.

Instead of walking up to Franklin from class or the dorm with a group of friends, I drove to the parking garage and ate alone with a magazine (and enjoyed it! how else would I get to read The New Yorker in peace?). Instead of wearing jeans and a t-shirt with birks, I was in suit trousers, dressy top, pearls and heels -- professional attire for my meeting, of course. After lunch, when the waitress shooed me back to my table (apparently you don't pay at the counter in Fancy Pepper's), I handed her my AmEx card instead of a wad of change and bills out of the pocket on my backpack.

But the salad was still the right balance of lettuce, tomatoes and mozzarella with just the right amount of dressing. And the pizza still has that perfect-not-too-thick-not-too-thin crust with just enough sauce, thinly sliced veggies and salty feta cheese. And the diet coke, refilled at exactly the right moment, still comes with that delightful pebbly ice.

So I decided I'm okay with the changes at Pepper's because the food is what matters most. And I'm more than okay with the changes in me because it's a good life I've got here -- even if I did look a bit dorky at lunch.

Cross-posted at Junius & Pippi Take the Cake. When Cyndi isn't eating in Chapel Hill, she likes her pizza from Lilly's or Moonlight.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Intolerance for Raymond Cook's Inebriation

When I was a little girl I had one of those jewelry boxes with a twinkling spinning ballerina inside. I vividly remember the light blue tulle of her tutu and the shimmering tune of Swan Lake
playing when I'd wind it up. I never took a dance class in my life but
I did daydream about being a ballerina. Didn't every little girl? From
when my oldest son Bird could talk he would always tell me that I
looked like a ballerina whenever I wore a skirt. Now at age six, he
still says it. It's as close to being a ballerina as I ever got. I was
not blessed with a lithe body, good posture, discipline, or grace.

Elena Shapiro was. I swear if you look up "ballerina" in the dictionary
Elena's picture was right there. Even her name was fit for a ballerina.
Grace embodied.

I am having a hard time wrapping my head around
the recent tragedy of Dr. Raymond Cook killing ballerina Elena Shapiro.
The irony of a reckless young doctor stealing the life of a vital young
woman is not lost on me.

I heard this news over the weekend
before the media extravaganza began. I was reeling then, and the
subsequent news reports continue to make me foam at the mouth. Disdain.
Disgust. I can't find the right words. A man who committed his life to
saving lives took an innocent life in a fleeting, irresponsible moment.
We often turn to doctors in the apex of our vulnerability. We don't
expect them to heighten our despair; we look to them to give us hope
and health. We take faith that they value their oath. First, do no
harm. We hope and assume that doctors above all value human life in and
out of the hospital, for they have seen the most profound and most
remarkable examples of our mortality.

Cook did more than make a
grave mistake; he sent an innocent young woman to her grave. This was
not a fluke accident for which I can empathize. This was not an
it-could-have-happened-to-me moment. If anything, any one of us could
have been Elena Shapiro. In fact, just moments after the accident,
friends of ours took that very same road en route home, their two
children ages 7 and 4 in tow. Sure, before Friday night Raymond Cook
was a regular guffawing golfing guy hanging out with his buddies on a
deserved afternoon off. Apart from the 300 grand salary, million dollar
home, and medical credentials, he could have been my very own husband.
He was a husband, father, son, friend; he wasn't a monster. But his
actions have made him so. The fact that he has a history of such dangerous reckless behavior makes this case even more reprehensible.

Any one of his choices jeopardized
the lives of those who shared the road with him. The combination was
deadly. He embarked on this irresponsible escapade knowingly, even turning down an offer to arrange a ride home from the bar manager who refused to serve him.
Surely cab fare was not out of his budget. And what responsibility do
his golfing buddies share? Is there shame to go around? How many of
them drove home drunk themselves? One hell of an I-told-you-so-lesson.
This is a 40-something year old man who knows the dangers of drinking
and driving. He knows the ramifications of driving nearly twice
the speed limit. Even when running late, I don't drive twice the posted
speed limit. And the cynic in me says that he wouldn't have been
running late if he had just left the bar earlier.

The image of
a wealthy, successful young doctor careening down the street in his
fancy Mercedes after an afternoon of golfing at the club is even too
cliche for a Jodi Piccoult
novel. The Dr. 90210 figure of the swashbuckling, entitled plastic
surgeon who is above the law fits Dr. Cook to a tee. He's surely not
helping the negative stereotypical light cast on his profession. For
the record, I have had reconstructive plastic surgery for medical, not
cosmetic, reasons. Twice. I am not a naysayer. I am not one who is
distrusting of doctors. We have close friends who are physicians, and I
would trust them with my life. Had I the muster to get into medical
school, medicine would have been my chosen profession too. I revere
doctors, which perhaps adds to the bile this case elicits in me. I
don't know Raymond Cook personally. I don't really give a damn what
kind of man his supporters purport him to be. On Friday, September 11,
a date that already has its gruesome share of mind in our collective
psyches, Raymond Cook became a different kind of man. He murdered a
young woman who posed him no threat. His car his weapon, his disregard
for the law and his overindulgence the fuel. The lifetime of shame and
pain Cook lives with pales exponentially to that of Elena Shapiro's
family. And to think of the future he has laid out for his own family.
I shudder.

Think I'm being too hard on the guy? What if Elena were your daughter?

Surely when you look up "hubris" in the dictionary you see Raymond Cook.

Disgrace embodied.

Ilina, a doting mother of two boys, blogs at Dirt & Noise.When she's not busy with her day job in her own marketing consulting business, she manages to inhale books, cook adventurous healthy creations, and window shop on Etsy. Though she posts a cocktail recipe in a weekly feature called 5:00 Fridays,
she is a vehement supporter of drinking responsibly. Having lost two
friends to a drunk driving accident in college, she has no tolerance
for driving while under the influence.

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