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 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…

Elf on the Shelf 2017 – Days 12, 13, 14

Yep, still behind blogging. Still sick. Well, getting better, but I’m still coughing enough that my voice is all hoarse. But guess what? We’re still rockin’ with these elves, and Cadence is excited to the point that she swears the elves keep moving slightly every time she walks in and out of a room.

She asked tonight if we can start taking time lapse photos of them throughout the day. Of course I had to shoot that one down. Moving the elves once a day is enough. Moving them multiple times a day just sounds like way too much work.

I mean, we have a dog that has to eat 5 times a day. We’ve gotta start drawing some lines somewhere.

December 12 – Leo and Cosette decided to put on a little impromptu concert.


December 13 – In honor of the new Star Wars release, Leo and Cosette thought it would be fun to dig out Stevie’s Naboo Starfighter and take it for a spin. Henry thought it was pretty cool to see the elves flying around, and Cadence was just in awe.


December 14 – This morning, we found the elves locked in the dog kennel. And we’re not sure if that’s what started Henry’s sudden meltdown, but five minutes after getting out of bed this morning, he was suddenly screaming and crying and shaking and seemed absolutely petrified, but couldn’t seem to tell us what he was so afraid of. He kept pointing at the door and telling us he wanted to get in the car, so we hurried up and got him ready for school and headed out the door. As Stevie was buckling him into my car, Henry finally told him he was scared of the robot.

Here’s the thing, folks. Stevie got himself a new Roomba sometime last year. In a nutshell, we hate vacuuming. We both have jobs. We’ve got the kids and their activities. We’ve got this crazy dog. And a million other things that seem to be going on constantly. We like to have a tidy house, but in the grand scheme of things, we can probably think of about 157 other things we’d rather be doing than cleaning. So the fact that there is a robot we can buy that will vacuum our house every single day if we want? Sign us up!

At first, Henry was intrigued. In fact, as soon as he could walk, he was pretty much obsessed with finding the robot and touching it and trying to press the buttons. And yeah, we may have told him not to touch the robot because it would get him.

Dammit, when you’re a parent and you’re tired and you just want your toddler to listen, you’ll say all sorts of crazy things.

Fast forward a year and all of a sudden Henry is deathly afraid of the thing. If he hears a beep that sounds like the Roomba, he screams and runs and tries to climb you. If he walks in a room and sees the Roomba sitting there charging, he backs out slowly and then runs for his life as soon as he’s out the door. And some mornings, like this morning, he wakes up and just thinks about the Roomba and manages to freak himself out.

So we spent the entire ride to school talking about how the Roomba is a nice robot and that it won’t get him and that we love the Roomba because it cleans up messes and keeps our house clean. And we talked about all the other nice robots we know–R2-D2 and C-3PO and BB-8 and Baymax.

By the time we got to school, all was right with the world again. And by the time he got home tonight, he’d forgotten all about it.

Life with toddlers. Every day is an adventure.


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.














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!












Four Years Ago Today (part 4)

Just before 1:00 a.m., a crowd of nurses burst into the room and turned on the lights. My eyes had never left the monitor, as the numbers jumped and fell erratically with each contraction. Somehow, I thought if I stopped looking, even for a moment, I might lose her.

“Okay, dear, we’re here to get you prepped for surgery,” one of the nurses said, matter-of-factly. “The baby has had enough. It’s time to get her out of there.”

Steven sat up on the couch and listened as the nurses talked us through the procedure, letting us know what to expect. It was a flurry of activity. The next thing I knew, I was being wheeled out of the room, leaving Steven to change. He would have to wait in the hallway outside the operating room until after the anesthesiologist administered my spinal.

The operating room was so bright and white that I had to close my eyes for a moment. Sitting on the table, the anesthesiologist told me to lean forward and hug the pillow in my lap. There was a small pricking sensation in the middle of my back, and then what felt like a sudden jolt of electricity running down my spine and into my legs. The doctors told me to lie back on the table, and stretch my arms out straight from my sides, where they were secured to the table with straps.

By the time Steven entered the room, the lower half of my body was completely numb. Steven pulled his stool up near my head, after the doctors explained that was the best place to sit if he wasn’t interested in seeing what was going on behind the curtain during the surgery.

Everything seemed to happen all at once. Steven and I gave each other nervous smiles as we listened to the doctors talking on the other side of the curtain. The spinal medication had done its job. I wasn’t feeling much of anything at all, except perhaps the slightest sensation of pressure in my abdomen.

“This is it,” the anesthesiologist said suddenly, tapping Steven on the shoulder. “Stand up if you want, and you’ll see your daughter being born.”

From the moment we first got the positive pregnancy test, Steven adamantly insisted that he wanted to see absolutely nothing in the delivery room. Hell, just watching the videos in the childbirth class we’d taken had traumatized him so much that to this day, he still shudders just thinking about it, so I was shocked when he actually stood up and peered over the curtain.

“Uh-oh,” the doctor said loudly, and Steven sat right back down again, his eyes wide. I watched as the color drained from his face.

“You okay?” I asked. He nodded, but didn’t speak.

I gasped as there was suddenly an enormous amount of pressure on my chest. It felt as though one of the doctors had climbed up and was sitting on my ribcage. I couldn’t breathe, and I was being rocked back and forth on the table. Steven squeezed my hand.

“You okay?” He asked. I gasped and nodded.

“Nothing to worry about,” the doctor said from behind the curtain. “Looks like the reason Baby Girl was delayed was because her head was stuck, but she’s comin’ now.”

Suddenly, there was a short cry, and a flurry of activity.

“Here’s your baby girl!” the doctor said, holding her up just high enough for me to see her for one short minute before a nurse whisked her away. “Congratulations Mom and Dad!”

“You want me to go?” Steven asked. I nodded, and he took the camera over to where the nurses were cleaning and weighing our daughter.

“Oh my God!” Steven exclaimed, as he snapped photo after photo. “She looks just like Beau! And she’s got a ton of black hair!”

I craned my neck and could just see her tiny red feet waving as she cried. The nurses swaddled her snugly and handed her to Steven. I almost laughed at loud at how gingerly he held her as he walked over to me.

I stared in awe at her tiny, perfect face.

“Hi Cadence,” I whispered, kissed her soft white cheek. “Hi my baby. We’ve been waiting for you.”

Steven and I smiled at each other, and at our tiny daughter. Then it was time for the nurses to take her and Steven to the nursery while the doctors finished my surgery. Lying on the table, staring up at the bright white ceiling, I smiled to myself as I tried to imagine what our lives would be like now that Cadence was part of them.

Sitting here now, four whole years later, all I can say is that life has gotten infinitely better.

First, there was a year of firsts for all of us. There were first steps, first words, a first tooth, a first bloody boo-boo. Steven and I were pooped on for the first time, puked on for the first time, and got sick as a family for the first time. We slept through the night for the first time, heard that infectious baby laughter for the first time, and have gotten so frustrated we had to put Cadence down and let her cry for the first time. We took our first road trip vacation, traveled on our first airplane, and mastered walking in a first pair of shoes. We saw the first of many unique dance moves, tried dozens of first foods, and wished our beautiful baby girl Happy Birthday for the very first time.

And since that first birthday party in 2011, life has only gotten more interesting. Our tiny baby has grown into a sweet, sassy preschooler who wakes every morning, singing and bouncing to get up and go conquer the world…or at least start the day with a concert, blasting her favorite songs on the iPad and singing along. And the favorites these days are Try by Pink, Hold On by Alabama Shakes, Firework by Katy Perry, and I’ll Stick Around  and These Days by the Foo Fighters.

Girl has a style all her own, and we love it.

We started to notice last year that Cadence is a force to be reckoned with. She has some strong opinions and she’s not afraid to make them known. She’s a stubborn little chicky with a mind all her own, and even if I sometimes lose my temper in the midst of a battle of wills, I can’t help but burst with pride knowing that my little spitfire is going to be the sort of girl who refuses to let anything stand in the way of what she really wants.

Yet even if she has a stubborn streak 10 miles long, Cadence is one of the sweetest, kindest, most genuine souls I have the pleasure of knowing. She loves to see people happy. She is kind to her friends at school. She is always happy to share (even when chocolate is involved). And she will do just about anything to lighten a mood and make people laugh.

Last week, we attended her preschool parent/teacher conferences and received a glowing report. Steven and I sat smiling so hard our faces hurt as we listened to Cadence’s teacher talking about what a wonderful little person she’s becoming. She’s smart as a whip, rocking her assessment test by reciting all of her colors, shapes, numbers all the way up 30, upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet, spelling her name and even starting to write it. She love to sing in the classroom and music class, and loves to exercise in gym. And apparently she is “geared for management” because she is always mindful that the rest of the kids are doing what they are supposed to.

She’s a dirt-loving tomboy who can go from tearing around the backyard in a pair of dirty jeans and sneakers to gliding daintily around the house in a dress and slippers in six seconds flat. She loves sports and snuggling, movies and music. She can spend hours painting or running around in the sunshine. She has a wicked sense of humor and a flair for the dramatic, acting out favorite scenes from her favorite movies and TV shows until she gets it just right. She even rocked the end of her Christmas program by raising her little arms up to the heavens as she belted out the last note of the Alleluia chorus.

Yeah, that’s our girl. 🙂

She knows the words to more songs than I can count, everything from Skidamarink and Twinkle, Twinkle Shining Star to Castle on a Cloud and Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Miserables to the Foo Fighters and AC/DC and the most recent favorite Hold On by Alabama Shakes. She loves sitting on the front porch swing and eating apples or popsicles. She loves jumping on beds, off the couch, and into mud puddles. She loves school and reading and watching cartoons and movies and going out to eat in restaurants. She loves life and laughter and chocolate.

She’s amazing.

And every single day, I feel infinitely blessed that I get to be her mother.

It’s been four years of craziness filled with laughter, tears, frustrations, surprises (both good and bad), sleepless nights, early mornings, trial and errors, bumps, bruises, triumphs, failures, new beginnings, changes, road trips, lazy days at home, a whole lot of memories, and a whole lot of fun.

And here’s to many more!

Happy 4th Birthday, Cadence LaRue!









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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