Tonight I was scrub-a-dubbing in the shower and, as usual, I was singing Christmas carols. Without realizing it, I started singing one of my favorite songs of all time, Lead Me Lord. This brought back a flood of memories of where that song came from and before I knew it, my sick ass was laughing hysterically in the shower all by myself. Cold pills are glorious things.
The memory of my favorite song was too good not to share, so here you go. A story from my youth. Merry Christmas.
When I was in middle school, I was in our church choir. (Interesting fact: Chris, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my friend Sarah were also all in this choir) It was not a show choir. Anyone could join, which is the only way I would ever be permitted to join a choir. Or a softball team, incidentally.
Anyway, every year we met every Wednesday for choir practice after school, performed several times during church services throughout the year, performed an end-of-the-year concert, and then went on choir tour, where we basically went on a trip and stopped to sing in random churches along the way. The point of choir was not the singing (thank goodness), it wasn’t even God (sorry, Jesus, I’m just keeping it real). The point of choir were the cute boys and best girlfriends and the trip at the end of the year.
One year, our choir sang such a beautiful song that even today – almost 15 years later – I still sing it in my shower. “Lead Me Lord” sounded like it needed to be sung in a Southern Baptist church with a gospel choir singing back up. Instead, we sang it on the beach in flip flops. The thing about “Lead Me Lord” was the solo. The soloist got to sing over and above the choir as we sang the chorus in the background. It was beautiful. When our choir director announced there would be a soloist for this song and we had to audition for the part, I immediately thought, “I’ve got this in the bag.” Which is actually incredibly funny if you know what I sound like when I sing.
Turns out, my choir director had Q-tipped his ears that morning and heard all the glory of my voice and he gave the part to someone else. And not just anyone else. He gave the part to Ashley Brown. (Interesting fact: Ashley Brown went on to star in Beauty and the Beast and was the original Mary Poppins on Broadway, so I guess technically she had a good voice…) Though I would never admit it at the time, Ashley sang the crap out of that song. I mean, seriously. No thirteen year old girl should be able to sing like that. It was incredible. (Interesting fact: Every year, Ashley comes back from her fabulous Broadway life to sing “O Holy Night” at our hometown church and it is very seriously the highlight of my Christmas when I get to hear her.)
The choir performed that song at our spring concert just before choir tour and as Ashley crooned the gospel song like a pro, I stood behind her in the choir stands, silently mouthing her solo along with her. No, really. I’ve got a video somewhere. You can see me singing with her.
The plan was that our choir would sing this song on choir tour. It was our big finale number (well, as big as middle school church choirs that are open to the general public can be), but in a startling turn of events, Ashley wasn’t able to go on tour with us. Apparently, she had better places to sing. Like, on Broadway or whatever.
I remember the exact moment that I found out Ashley wasn’t going on choir tour. I was standing in line to get on the tour bus and I overheard some people talking about it. As I stood there in line, I started yelling out to our choir director across the parking lot, “I’LL SING IT! LET ME SING IT! I WANT TO SING IT!” But, apparently, our choir director HAD forgotten to Q-tip his ears that morning because, apparently, he didn’t hear me. Or see me waving my arms. Or feel me clinging to his shirttail, begging.
All during the first day of travel on choir tour, I begged our poor choir director to let me sing. He’d walk down the aisle of the bus to go to the bathroom and I’d just start singing out random lines, “Oh, Lead me, Lord! I WILL GOOOOOOOO!” Eventually, I started singing both the choir back up and the solo part, just to show him how dedicated I was. “Lead me, Lord, (OH, LEAD ME!) I will follow, (OH, I’LL FOLLOW!), Lead me I will go (OH, I’LL GOOOOO)…” After hours of singing in the back of the bus to no avail, I made my way to the front of the bus, walking straight past our choir director and up to the bus driver, where I took the bus microphone out of the little stand and clicked it on.
“Warren,” I said over the intercom, “Warren, if you’ll just give me a chance, I think you’ll see I really can sing this song just as good as Ashley Brown. (Interesting fact: That was a lie.) What has been missing from all my auditioning, though, has been a microphone. I sound way better when I’m singing in a microphone. (Interesting fact: That was a lie, too) And, oh! Look! I found a microphone! Right here in my hand!”
And before Warren or the bus driver could wrestle the microphone away from me, I started belting out Ashley’s solo over the tour bus. By the time I was done, the whole choir was singing back up for me and I was ON FIRE! Let me tell you…
When I was finished, Warren and the choir politely applauded and he mumbled something along the lines of, “We’ll see…” But when we got to the church where we were performing, there was no “Lead Me Lord” on the program. Oddly enough though, I didn’t even care. For three shining moments on that tour bus, I sounded like Ashley Brown. (Interesting fact: That’s another lie)
I have a notoriously bad memory. I can’t remember anything from high school, barely anything from college, hardly anything from last week. But that memory is too good to forget.
(Interesting fact: Ginny and I both married boys that were on that choir tour, Sarah and I now live down the street from each other and work together, and Ashley Brown is a Broadway star. Who knew?!?!)
In the next few weeks, I’m going to be previewing some of the websites and products that are my go-to gift resources for friends and family this year. Hopefully, you’ll get some good ideas for those last minute Christmas gifts.
I can’t talk about go-to gifts without talking about handmade camera straps from Broward Patch. I have a Broward Patch strap on my camera and I love it.
For one thing, the padded strap is much more comfortable to carry around (and a lot more fashionable, too!) than the standard strap that comes with the camera.
I also really like it because everyone in my family has the same camera, so when we all get together and our cameras get thrown together onto tables or wherever, our individual camera straps help us tell them apart.
A couple years ago, I gave everyone in my family monogrammed Broward Patch straps for Christmas and birthdays. It was a huge hit! I think they make such nice gifts because they are unique, original, and thoughtful. Not just something generic you pick up at the mall. They really take people by surprise and everyone I’ve given them to has loved them!
The best part about the Broward Patch, though, are the prices. Her DSL straps are only $27 for patchwork and $18 for solid prints. Her smaller wrist straps are $8 and she even makes cute keychains (which I have on my key ring and love!) are $6. She can even monogram, too!
Jen just moved to a lovely new website at Thanksgiving, so if you’ve seen me blog about her before, be sure you click the new link to see her new digs. Also, if you’re not already a fan, be sure to “like” her Facebook fan page. She sometimes puts killer coupon codes there (at Thanksgiving it was a 25% off coupon!). I can’t say enough about what a sweet person Jen is and what a fun product she has! It is a great Christmas or birthday gift…and be sure to pick up something for yourself, too!
This is not a paid advertisement. I just wanted to share.
Anyone whose been around these parts long enough knows of my love and slight obsession with Pinterest. I can’t look away. I can’t stop. It’s become a problem. But it’s also been a real blessing, too. I have found some really great gift ideas (a few I’m using next week for my Secret Santa exchange at work that I’ll blog about), some excellent food ideas, and some fun activities for my family and kids.
Last week I was cruising around Pinterest and found this incredible website called, “Fun and Engaging Activities for Toddlers.” The website is as simple and straightforward as the name implies. It is a list of activities for toddlers, plain and simple. But these activities are really fantastic.
From what I can tell, the website belongs to a stay at home mom who does the best she can to do stimulating, educational activities with her toddler every day. I’m loving her website because it isn’t complicated. She blogs straight up about kids activities. And none of them are crazy complex or complicated. Most can be done with things you have laying around your house. My favorite was one with a bowl of water and a paint brush – super simple and Bean would love it!
Today, we were outside putting up Christmas lights for most of the afternoon. Gracie was taking a nap in her crib, so it was just Bean out in the front yard with us. We played with sidewalk chalk in the driveway and colored in his coloring books for a while, but I thought this would be a perfect time to try an activity I had found last week on the Toddler Activities blog.
It takes several plastic containers and a pitcher of water. That’s it.
The object of the game was to let Bean practice filling containers with water. It works his fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, and helps him start to learn about how and when to pour and stop.
I sat with him for a while, showing him how to pour and when to stop. Then, I’d sit back and just talk to him while he did it himself, saying things like, “Can you fill the rectangle bowl now?” or “Be careful! It’s almost full!”
But after a short while, Bean had the hang of it and spent the next half hour playing in the front yard with his plastic bowls.
It was such a simple way to learn while doing something Bean loves – water play is one of his favorites.
This website has a ton of activities just like this, taking tools you probably have and using activities you’ve probably done before. One of my favorite parts of the website is that you can search the activities archive by age of your child. I clicked the Toddler (2-3 years) category under the Age Range page and it pulled up pages of activities that Bean would absolutely love and that I can’t wait to try myself.
I’m so glad I found this website! What a great mom she is and what wonderful activities she comes up with!
Having children has changed my marriage in a lot of ways. More than anything else, it deepened the way I love Chris. Seeing him in the kids, seeing him interact and parent them, seeing him take care of his family, all of those things made the love that I already had for him mature. It also taught us how to be patient with each other, how to listen to each other, and how to ask for help from each other. Raising children together has taught us that relationships are not about being right or wrong, they are about helping each other be the best version of ourselves. We could have learned those lessons in a lot of other ways, but I think having kids condensed those life lessons down into a period of about two years. We’re always learning, always evolving, always moving forward with our kids and, like everything else in our lives now, we have to learn things a lot faster or we’ll never keep up.
This past weekend was my birthday and some sweet friends threw me a birthday party Friday night, so we sent the kids up to my parent’s house for the weekend so that Chris and I could celebrate with friends. When we dropped the kids off on Friday afternoon, my parent’s gave me my Christmas present. A new set of golf clubs and bag!
I really do love to play golf, but since having the kids, it’s gotten harder for me to go out and play. With the kids at my parent’s house on Saturday, though, Chris and I decided to take advantage of the babysitter and break in my new clubs. We played nine holes of a small course, just the two of us. We laughed and made fun of each other and just really enjoyed being together.
Chris especially liked the golf ball I was using…
It was a really great afternoon. After golf, we went over to a friend’s house for a beer and later met up with them for dinner at a sports bar to eat wings and watch football.
There really wasn’t anything romantic about this weekend. No candlelight. No flowers. No restaurants with tablecloths. It was just a fun day with my boyfriend.
I think that’s something else that having children has taught Chris and me. We’ve learned that extravagance doesn’t necessarily equal love. Sometimes, it’s the absence of extravagance that equals love, actually. It’s being able to spend a day with your partner of twelve years and still feel like you’re on a first date. The state that my marriage exists in is not passionate, and to some people that might be a sad statement. But to me, it’s just where I want to be. We have peaks of passion and valleys of hard times, but our day-to-day love is steady, strong, comfortable, and easy. Like slipping on my favorite pair of jeans. And I love that after all this time and with an active family of our own now, we’re still able to stop in the middle of it all and just enjoy each other.
I’m a lucky, lucky birthday girl.