Day 15 – Something fun is brewing

I’m not going to say much just yet (because quite frankly, I don’t want to speak too soon and jinx it), but something fun is brewing. Send us some positive vibes and I’ll post an update when the plans take shape. Until then, there’s this…

Drummer Boy

Anyone who knows Stevie and me has probably heard the looooooong story of how we met and how looooooong it took us to actually start dating and eventually end up where we are today–married in this house full of mayhem, with hound dog and kids and a whole lot of laughter.

I won’t say it was love at first sight. I believe that falling in love with someone is eventual, something that happens over time. It can happen quickly for some. For others, it might take years. But love, real love, isn’t just a feeling that can wash over you the first moment you lay eyes on someone. Instead, it is a deep and unbreakable bond that forms with that one person who just seems to fit into your life in a way that no one else ever could.

So no, I didn’t fall in love with Stevie the first time I saw him. That was a gradual (albeit quick) development over the course of my freshman year. But from that very first moment I watch him jump up onto the stage in Schoenfeld Campus Center and start heckling the Orientation crowd, I was completely in awe of him. I didn’t even know him, yet somehow it felt as though I’d known him forever.

And by the time he sat down to treat the audience to a typical Steven Romano badass drum solo, I was hooked.

Drums were always a big part of my life. My Uncle Tim was a drummer, and I remember always feeling drawn to his drumset in my grandparents’ basement. I knew I wasn’t supposed to touch them, but I couldn’t help myself. I’d sneak a pair of his drumsticks out of the bag and tap them on the drum heads and cymbals, lightly so that no one upstairs could hear me.

Band started in 3rd grade at Cheylin Elementary, and the students had a chance to try out different instruments over the course of a few weeks until the figured out which one caught their interest.

There was no “trying out” for me. I picked up a snare drum and never put it down again.

By 5th grade, I’d played every percussion instrument there was, and was saving up my lawn mowing money to buy my own drum set. If memory serves, I bought it from a high school kid named Jason Elijah for $350. It was damn near perfect, didn’t even need new heads. I set it up in my room immediately and, much to my sister’s dismay, took to practicing regularly.

Through middle and high school I was in marching band, pep band, jazz band. I even played with a few groups at church when they needed a drummer. I played bass, snare, cymbals. I marched with tenor drums in parades and field shows, earning my nickname Tenorchick from a guy named Jason who came through town with the traveling Cavaliers Drum & Bugle Corps. Music and drums were always a major part of my life, so sitting there in the crowd, watching Stevie lose himself in an epic drum solo that rattled the windows of the gym and made my heart feel like it was skipping beats with every BOOM…BOOM…BOOMing echo of the bass, it felt for a moment like I might be getting my first real glimpse of heaven.

Take my love of drums and music and double it and you might come close to understanding Stevie’s obsession. For me, playing in bands steadily declined when I left my set behind and moved 2,000 miles to start college. For Stevie, Concordia opened up an endless line of doors. He was one of the only drummers on campus, and was always up for any jam session, performance, or gig anyone threw at him. One year, at a Band-Aid event, Stevie played for 12 hours with something like 7 different bands, only sitting out for one set when one of the other bands actually had their own drummer. In his years at Concordia, he played everything from tympani for a symphony orchestra and pit percussion for on-campus musical productions to covers of Fleetwood Mac and Type O Negative.

He’s played in bands called, El Pollo Loco, Foerthcore, John Stamos, Kelly and her Friends, The Phantom Menace, and various other groups that may or may not have had names. To this day, there are rumblings of a Foerthcore reunion, and who knows, maybe one day we’ll get Jay, Andy, Kuder, Josh, Scott, and their namesake Foerth out here to Lincoln for an epic event.

You all don’t even understand how much that would rock.

Since moving to the new house, Stevie has been itching to get his drums set up and start playing again. He had both of our sets all set up in the basement, right before the freak summer storm left us with water seeping up through cracks in the concrete floor. We quickly moved the drums to higher ground, and there they’ve sat.

I can’t even tell you when Stevie made the passing comment about the awesome set of miniature drums our friend Tracey had made and posted pictures of on his Facebook page. I know it was shortly after Henry was born, because I was still very much in the newborn fog, running on little more than instincts and adrenaline. But somehow that comment made it through and a little light bulb lit up in my brain that this might be a fun gift to surprise Stevie with for his birthday, and a few days later I found myself searching around on Facebook and trying to find where Tracey got his replica set.

I finally tracked down a page for ANT Mini Drums, and by November I was reaching out to the fellow in Indonesia to inquire about ordering a set for Stevie.

Keeping the secret was difficult. I spent a couple lunch hours poking around in the basement and trying to take pictures of all the pieces of Stevie’s set, and then putting the drums and the hardware back on the shelves just like he had them, so I didn’t arouse suspicion. Then, I scored Stevie’s facebook and some of our old photo boxes for pictures of his drums actually set up to play. I even drew a sketch of the setup and emailed them to the guy, wanting to make sure I got everything right.

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Now paying for it, that was a bit trickier. See, way back when Stevie and I first started dating, he let it be known that if we ever got married, he would be solely in charge of our finances. It’s not really a control thing…it’s more the simple fact that the way I do my banking and budgeting makes the blood vessels in his brain bulge and threaten to burst and, well, I love him too much to be the cause of his aneurysm.

See, I’m the type who always knows approximately what I have in the bank. I round everything up, and make sure I have at least $100 spare dollars sitting around at all times in case of an emergency. Stevie, on the other hand, is the type who needs to balance everything down the last penny. The first thing he does each morning is log onto our bank and credit card accounts to reconcile and account for every dime that we spend, save, and donate. Most times, he knows how much I charged at the store for groceries before I even have a chance to get home and empty the bags. And while I absolutely love that he has taken full responsibility and I don’t have to worry at all about dealing with the finances, it does make buying surprise gifts for him rather difficult.

I managed to squirrel away the amount I needed in my Paypal account and sent off the order in mid-November. The artist assured me the drums would arrive before Christmas, and I would be able to surprise Stevie on his birthday. Unfortunately there were a few delays, and I’m pretty sure that Stevie either gave up on a gift from me this year, or thought I was lying every time I told him his gift was on its way.

Then yesterday, it finally arrived, and boy was it worth it! Stevie’s face lit up, and I watched as he carefully inspected each piece of the tiny drums, saying, “Hell yeah, this is awesome babe. It looks just like my set!”

Mission accomplished. Thanks ANT Mini Drums! You rock, almost as much as my husband.

Happy belated Birthday Stevie!

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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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365 Project – Day 221 – What About Me?

My About Me page has been sitting empty for…well…forever, or since the beginning of this blog at least. It was just one of those things that I kept putting off and neglecting and promising myself that I would do tomorrow.

I can’t even say that I just never had time for it, because I did, and I actually sat down to write it quite a few times, but I alway seemed to hit a roadblock, right about the time I pressed the tip of the pen against the paper, or sat with my fingers poised above the keyboard. Suddenly my brain would just implode on itself and I was left with nothing but a hollow empty void.

Damn.

I’m a writer, so I have a relatively intimate relationship with that beast known as Writer’s Block, but this was something else entirely. I just absolutely couldn’t think of anything to say about myself. Well, not anything interesting at least. I didn’t want my About Me page to be blah. What kind of impression would that make for someone stumbling across my blog? I mean, I know I’m not as interesting as say BrAngelina or the Kardashians or that Lady Gaga that all the kids are gaga for these days, but I didn’t necessarily want my About Me page to read like the repetitious introductions at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.

“Hi, my name is Lori and I’m a blogger…”

So, tonight, I did a little brainstorming and I at least got something on the page. Something short and sweet. Something that should tide people over until I can come up with something better.

The best part though, is that I started going through some old photos, looking for something to post. Boy, did I find some gems! So, for tonight’s 365 Project entry, I thought I would post some of the ideas that didn’t make it on my About Me page, along with some of the fun photos I found. There are a whole lot more where this came from, but I certainly didn’t want to overwhelm you all at once.

So, here are some things that you may, or may not, have known about me…

I hate purses and I refuse to own or carry one. This is probably the only photo you will ever see of me holding a purse, and it’s not even mine, it’s my sister Lindy’s. The only reason I am holding it in this photo is to complete the “ready-to-head-out-the-door-on-vacation” look we were going for in this photo. Lindy and I were all packed and ready to head to Dallas to visit Uncle Harry and Aunt Jean, but we were waiting on Mom and Dad. So, what better way to kill time than to waste some film and take dorky pictures of each other?

I’ve never been what you would call a fashionista, and the late-80’s early-90’s were definitely not kind to me. Here I am modeling my new Nebraska sweatpants and a headful of freshly crimped hair courtesy of my cousin Shelly’s new crimper. To round out the ensemble, please note the white high top sneakers, the black slouch socks, the ugly black and white sweatshirt and the pair of large, blue hand-me-down glasses. I’m too sexy!

I’ve worn noticeable makeup exactly eight times in my life–to my wedding, to a couple of proms, to a dance recital, once or twice in college, and here to a Christmas program in elementary school. If I remember correctly, this was the year the girls were supposed to look like dolls while the boys were dressed to resemble toy soldiers. As you can see, I am thrilled–probably just as much by the curly hair and the enormous bow on top of my head as all the makeup painted on my face. I’ve never felt comfortable in makeup, probably because even when I try to make it subtle, I end up looking like Tammy Faye Baker. So, I’ll stick to the natural look with just a touch of powder, thank you.

I showed sheep. This is one of those little known facts about me that completely baffles most of my non-Midwestern friends. To this day, my husband still doesn’t quite understand it. Unless you’ve actually been to a county fair or a 4-H event and watched any livestock shows, there is little I can do to explain it, but I will say those years of participating in 4-H in Bird City, Kansas were some of the best years of my life. I’ll always be a Go-Getter at heart! 🙂

I’m a drummer. I started playing in 3rd grade at Cheylin East Elementary School, and I loved every minute of it. By 6th grade, I had bought my very own drum set, and I played in the marching band, pep band, orchestra and jazz band all through high school. I even had a short stint in a band called The Dirty Green Apples in college. We played exactly one on-campus coffee house event. I love playing drums so much, I even married a drummer and named my daughter Cadence.

I’m adopted. Okay, so this one probably really isn’t a surprise to anyone who knows me. For anyone who didn’t know, it helps explain how I have three sets of parents and twelve siblings. Back in 2006, Woman’s World magazine even ran a story about my adoption and my reunion with my birthfamily. It is all one helluva story, and I’ve started writing a memoir about it. One of these days, I might even finish it.

I love water. Lakes, rivers, oceans, ponds, streams, swimming pools, rainstorms–you name it, I love it. As a child, I used to show up at the swimming pool when it opened and would stay until it closed for the night. I took swimming lessons and joined the swim team. When my family would go to the lake for vacations, I would spend the days either fishing, swimming or paddling around in one of the little boats in front of the cabin. One spring my sister Lindy and my cousins Tonya and Shelly and I all got in trouble for jumping in the lake and swimming with our clothes on. Ah, those were the days!

I’m a peace-loving cowgirl at heart. I’ve loved horses my entire life, and some of the best years of my childhood were the years that I showed horses in 4-H and barrel raced. This is Ginger, indulging my cousin Shelly and I for a ride at the Cheyenne County Fair in St. Francis, Kansas. Even if I never own another horse, I think they are some of the most majestic creatures God ever put on this earth, and just being around them soothes my soul.

I am a bookaholic. So here’s another one that should not really surprise anyone who knows me. My book addiction started early, as you can see, and it’s a habit I doubt I’ll ever be able to kick. I own hundreds and hundreds of books, and I can’t really bring myself to part with any of them because I’m one of those people who can read a book over and over and over again without getting tired of it. My incessant reading has slowed down quite a bit since my daughter was born, but we are finally getting into a good routine that should allow me to read a bit more…well, read or write, and as long as I am doing one of those things, I am perfectly content.

I sleep with my eyes half-open. I’ve done it since I was a child. The photo here may be a bit too small for you to actually see it, but this is one of the things about me that thoroughly creeps other people out when they notice it. Obviously it’s genetic because my daughter does the same thing. I also talk in my sleep and sleepwalk on occassion. My husband, on the other hand, has alien dreams and screams himself awake on occassion. Let’s hope Cadence doesn’t follow in those footsteps too, or no one in this house is going to be well-rested at all.

I love to cook. Honestly, it’s not really even like work to me (well, except the doing the dishes part afterward, but Steven is usually really good to clean if I do the cooking). In fact, cooking is my favorite type of meditation. I’ve never been able to sit in a dark room with a candle and chant and clear my mind the way many people do when they meditate. For me, it is more about being mindful, being in the moment and being intently focused. Cooking does that for me. The chopping, the measuring, the tasting, the improvising, the dishing up and plating the final product is good as any therapy. And who needs recipes? I am the Queen of throwing things together and seeing how they work. So far, I have a pretty high success rate in the kitchen.

I believe in love at first sight. I know, corny right? But in all seriousness, I thought the whole concept of love at first sight was completely bogus, until I saw Steven. I’m not lying when I say I would have married him, right then, if he’d asked me. Instead, he was too busy hamming it up as the emcee of the Concordia College Freshman Orientation entertainment and picking on a kid named Josh Reiker who was sitting right behind me in the crowd. It may have taken us five years to start dating, another 2 1/2 years to get engaged, and another 2 years to finally get married, but I wouldn’t change a moment of it, because we’ve ended up exactly where we were supposed to. There aren’t many people who can honestly say they are married to their best friends, but I am proud to be one of them.

I love being a Mom. Sure there are days when this adorable little girl tries my patience and manages to get on every last nerve (you know, the days when she is super tired and crabby but refuses to nap or let me venture more than six inches away from her without screaming at the top of her lungs), but I wouldn’t trade any of it. It is still pretty bizzarre sometimes, being followed around by this little Mini-Me, and getting flashes of deja vu when I look at her. These days, it’s getting hard to remember what life was like without her. I imagine it must have been pretty dull.

Not a whole lot about me has really changed since high school. Okay, so I’ve gotten little older, a little wiser, and a little less tolerant of a lot of the BS running rampant in our society, but honestly, I’m very much the same girl I’ve always been. I love to joke around, and I think I’ve got a pretty good sense of humor. I’m laidback and easygoing and I don’t let a whole lot bother me. I don’t really fit into one clearly defined group, instead I have a diverse group of friends and acquaintances that I love and appreciate for who they are. I’m a bit on the quiet/shy side and I hate big crowds, but I’m friendly and easy to talk to (to the point that my husband is baffled on a daily basis at how total strangers will be telling me their life stories within 5 minutes of meeting me). I love music and movies and reading and writing and I still dream of one day having a house where I can have both a library/office and a studio complete with photography equipment and a pottery wheel because, let’s face it, who doesn’t need a pottery wheel?

I could go on forever. I’m a writer. That’s what we do. And I’m sure I’ve already lost a few readers somewhere around the middle of this post when they started to think that all of this wasn’t really going anywhere. So, now you see my dilemma with this damn About Me page. There are a million little things that make me me, a million things that set me apart, that make me unique. We haven’t even scratched the surface. So, for now, I guess I’ll just keep it simple, and if someone really wants to get to know me better and to get a glimpse of what else lies beneath the surface, then I guess he/she will just have to keep reading. And I will, as always, keep writing…keep writing…keep writing…