Day 124 – The rhythm is gonna getcha

There are a few things in life I’m fairly certain I cannot live without, things like air and water and music. Yeah, music is right up there at the top of the list. It’s the only universal language. It’s the only thing that every human has in common (besides the fact that we’re all, well, human). We all have a favorite song. We all get caught up in a rhythm. We all find, at one point or another, that certain songs or notes or lyrics just have a way of plugging right into our souls.

Music played a big part in my life and Stevie’s life. We both took music lessons and played drums, and I sang in the school choir for a few years. And it was Stevie’s epic drum solo during my freshman Orientation Entertainment that made me fall head over heels for the guy I would marry nine years later.

When the kiddos came along, it was clear pretty early that they were tapped in too. Cadence was singing along to songs before she could even speak full sentences (and we’re not talking Twinkle Twinkle Little Star here, this girl was belting out songs like “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes and “Rapture” by Blondie and “Please Read the Letter” by Robert Plant and Allison Krauss by the time she was 3). And she started begging to play guitar shortly after. We made a deal with her–start with piano lessons and if you do well and stick with it (and don’t give us too much grief about practicing every day), we’ll sign you up for guitar too.

We’re going on almost three years of piano, and now in our first year of guitar lessons, and Cadence is killing it! Today was her guitar debut at her recital and we were so proud!

And Henry, our little shy guy, is finally starting to come out of his shell for the public performances at preschool. Two years ago, he just clung to his teachers and tried not to cry. Last year, he stood tall on the risers, but just stared at us with a little smirk on his face refusing to sing (even though 10 minutes later he gave us a perfect performance of “The Wheels on the Bus” in the privacy of our own car on the drive home). This year, there was singing, dancing, and even some rhythm sticks involved in the performance and H-man was absolutely flawless.

Now he’s even talking about learning guitar. You know, if we play this right, we just might end up with a Romano family band.

Day 90 – Come From Away

I know I’ve written at length about my love of theatre before, so I won’t spend too much time rehashing it again. Just know that when I say I’m obsessed with live theatre, I’m not exaggerating, particularly musicals. I’m mesmerized by the talent of the actors and musicians, and absolutely astounded by the sets and lighting and costumes that make the productions come to life. If I had unlimited funds, I’d buy a seat at a different show every night–Broadway, Off-Broadway, community playhouses–I’m in for it all.

When I first saw ads and TV spots for the new show Come From Away, I knew I needed to see it. I’m always drawn to stories of the “helpers”–the people who show up in the face of loss and tragedy to help recover and rebuild. If you’ve looked at any of my social media feeds in the last two weeks, you’ll see the dozens of stories I’ve been posting of exactly this type of selfless compassion taking place right here in my home state in the wake of the devastating Midwest floods.

But even more than that, it’s the story of Beverley Bass, the first female captain of an American Airlines aircraft–a woman whose persistence and tenacity helped break down barriers, a woman whose dream of flying led her to the sky. And with a long line of strong women in my own family (including my Grandma Kay who was one of the first females to fly for US Airways), this was a story that spoke to me on a very personal level.

Mom got us tickets and we headed to the Orpheum this afternoon for the show.

And I gotta say, folks…I might have a new favorite show.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not an overly-emotional person. I tend to let a lot of things roll off, and it’s not often that my emotions really get the best of me. But every now and then, something that hits really close to home will choke me up, and there were several moments during Come From Away that I found myself tearing up and taking deep breaths to keep it under control. Anything 9/11 related always hits me hard, and in the opening moments of the show when they sing about remembering exactly where they were when the news broke. Yep, that got me. Then later when the beautiful souls in Gander, Newfoundland began to open their lives and their doors and their homes to the airplanes full of strangers without a second thought or a moment’s hesitation. Yeah, you know that got me too.

It just seemed fitting (one of those moments when the universe perfectly aligns) that I was watching this show today while this same sort of selfless compassion is happening all around me right here in Nebraska in the wake of the devastating floods just as it happened in the hours and days and months that followed the attacks in 2001.

And it’s moments like these that make me really happy to be alive and be a member of this human race.

If you believe everything you see on TV, you might have a pretty grim view of humanity. But if you can tear yourself away from the 24-hour news cycle and get a glimpse of the things that are happening right outside your front door and in communities around the world (you know, the every day sort of things most people aren’t going to bother to mention on the nightly news because it doesn’t have a flashy headline) you just might see that most of us are just regular people trying to do our best and squeeze a little happiness out of this life while we’re here.

And what a blessing to have a chance to love and connect with others at the same time.

If you get a chance to see Come From Away, DO IT!! And in the meantime, be kind to each other every chance you get.

P.S. The amazing folks from the show (including several Nebraska & Iowa natives) donated a portion of the ticket sales totaling more than $30,000 to flood relief. And many of us in attendance donated even more to the collection buckets on our way out the door. What a great way to spend the day!

#NebraskaStrong #WeComeFromAway

Elf on the Shelf 2013 – Day 11

If there is one thing in this house that there will never be a shortage of, it’s music.

Steven and I both started playing percussion in 3rd grade–playing everything from tympani and mallet instruments to snare drums and drum sets. We traveled miles in marching bands and logged hours in practice rooms.  During our college days, I had a short stint with a band called the Dirty Green Apples my senior year, while Steve played in just about every band that performed on campus between the years of 1995 and 2007.

Even outside of our drumming, music is part of us. Our lives are punctuated with songs, like soundtracks. We debate our favorite bands. We broaden each other’s horizons with our wide range of musical tastes. We crank up the music in the car and sing along, loudly. Without music, we wouldn’t quite know how to define ourselves.

So, it should not have come as any surprise that we christened our daughter with a musical name.

Cadence: a rhythm; a measure or beat of movement.

In our marching band days, it was the rhythm the drummers played to keep everyone marching together in formation when the music stopped.

Steven and I knew–the moment we saw our little girl bouncing in time to some unknown beat on the ultrasound–we knew she was our Cadence.

And even then, it was obvious that our girl had the music in her, too.

At three, she not only knows the words to well-known children’s ditties like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, You Are My Sunshine, and Jesus Loves Me. More importantly, she routinely belts out renditions of the Foo Fighters These Days, Adele’s Set Fire to the Rain,  Katy Perry’s Roar, and she can sing half the songs on the Les Miserables soundtrack.

There’s not much that can slow down our little Energizer Bunny. But a beautiful piece of music? That can stop Miss Cadence dead in her tracks. And she is not above practicing, practicing, practicing until she learns the words and gets them just right.

So, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Cosette has tapped in to the Romano music vein. She’s one of the family after all.

And this family believes, as Mama Cass once crooned, “You gotta make your own kind of music…”

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Project Life 365 – Day 82 – Musical

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I am ridiculously excited about the new Les Miserables movie/musical. Saw it in the theater (well, most of it…Cadence just couldn’t quite make it to the end), and made sure we pre-ordered it so it would be delivered to our doorstep as soon as it was released. Worth every penny.

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Project Life 365 – Day 64 – Private

Now that Cadence and I are back from Poppa Duane’s 80th birthday in Denver where we partied, learned to play Farkle, got snowed in, and picked up a icky stomach bug (well, Cadence did, I just suffered sleep-deprivation as a result of her vomiting), it’s time to catch up on my Project Life 365. So here begins the outtakes from the past week and a half of chaos…

When Steven gets in study mode, all he needs is some tunes, a Cadbury Egg, and a little privacy…

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Project Life 365 – Day 57 – Blue

In spite of all the maddening moments–the tantrums, the stubbornness, the intentional pushing of the parental buttons–I have to admit, 3 is a pretty fun age. Steven and I have a front row seat to witness our daughter’s personality really beginning to emerge. And, I gotta say, the only thing better than my baby girl’s beautiful blue eyes are the expressions that go along with them.

I’m telling you folks, if this kid doesn’t grow up to be a star on the stage or screen, I will eat my camera strap. Believe me, I’m not about to push Cadence down any path or into any extracurricular activity or career that she has no interest in, but I have seen very few children who love to perform (and practice it as much) as Cadence does. No joke. She can spend several hours a day acting out scenes from her favorite movies and cartoons in front of the mirror or window (or any shiny surface where she can see her reflection), changing her position and expression a little each time until she gets it just right.

Remember the scene in Cinderella where the stepmother announces that the girl who fits the glass slipper will the Prince’s bride, and Cinderella gasps, “The Prince!?” and drops the tray full of dishes? Yeah, Cadence practiced that one over two months until she mastered it, dropping pieces of her toy dinnerware all over the house and scaring the shit out of Steven, Electra, and I the first few dozen times we heard things crashing onto the wood floors.

Movie scenes, lines from her favorite cartoons, commercial jingles, TV theme songs, choreographed dance moves–you name it, Cadence will have it down, memorized, and ready to perform. Who needs cable when you’ve got Cadence in the house?

And for anyone who knows my movie-line-quoting husband, you can imagine how excited he is to have someone besides his wife who thinks it’s awesome to repeat favorite lines and scenes over and over and over again. He’s already plotting to ask Cadence if she wants to do the “Who’s on First” bit for her first school talent show. And knowing this kid, I have every reason to believe that she will freakin’ ROCK it!

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