Monday, January 19, 2009

LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

On the eve of this momentous inauguration, I ask you all you pause to watch this very short clip on the potential of LIFE. I understand that there are many hardships that would justify the act of abortion and I am sympathetic and understanding of the difficult situation a woman with an unplanned pregnancy faces. But I feel more strongly that the LIFE inside the woman has the right to its own LIFE. Hope is what this country is all about and we throw it away at over 1.1 million lives a year. Let us extend Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness to all our citizens, especially the smallest among us.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I thirst...

Well, Danielle Rose does it again. She has released another amazing inspirational album of faith titled "I thirst". Her combination of folk/contemplative music sends me into an immediate state of prayer. Her lyrics are filled with scripture references as well as reminders to strive for humility, grace and making Jesus the center of the family. A clear tribute to all that Mother Teresa worked toward as an example for all of us. I highly recommend this album for anyone needing peace from the sometimes hectic world in which we live. Listen to some of her songs at the Catholic Music Network and then buy her album!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Music and Arts

Music is a big part of our lives here at the Clemens compound. We listen to all types of music most of the day. We have i-pods, an i-pod dock in the kitchen and playroom as well as radios that play all sorts of music. At at least two times a day you will hear one, maybe two, of my children practicing either an electric piano, trombone, french horn, trumpet or guitar. Sometimes it is a painful experience for a parent to hear the squeeks and squaks of an instrument that is just being learned, but most times it is a joy to hear the sounds of music at the hands of your offspring. Actually it is delightful.

At times, I will be outside on the porch swinging with Henry, and hear Rebecca's soulful trombone playing from her room. Henry is accustomed to her practice times and listens as well. "Trombone" he softly says through his binky. She plays a piece, stops, adjusts her technique, tries again and again. The sounds lilts outside the house and down the road, bounces off neighbors homes... for all to hear. I am amazed that a child that came from my body is so good at something that is completely foreign to me. It's a mystery to me that while children come to this world with some characteristics of their parents, still have a unique individualism that makes them who they are...separated from their parents. Aren't they supposed to be just like us??

As a parent, I've made it a priority that my kids learn to play at least one instrument. It teaches more than just notes, but an appreciation of sounds, emotion, the musician, as well as instilling a sense of discipline and hand-eye coordination. All good things, all worthy educational experiences even if they don't end up playing in the best orchestras. The local school band is great to me.

That being said, I was at a loss for Jack and Gus. My "irish twins" who are 8 and 9 lacked any real instruction in any instrument. I looked around for something they could learn together, but had no idea what to guide them toward, they are so young. Luckily I ran into an old friend who is a master musician in her own rite. She was giving lessons in none other than....the violin. "Violin", I thought. Now that's an idea!

I went home and shared my idea with the boys. Jack instantly became excited about the prospect of becoming a violin player. Gus? No dice. He scowled at the idea and said "I'm not doing it." "Too bad", I responded, "It will be good for you." I started researching how to find a decent violin and quickly found hundreds of inexpensive violins for sale on e-bay. Believe it or not, I discovered some brand new, cheaply made violins for only $50 a piece. They were awesome for starter violins and so I plotted to purchase the violins for Christmas have the boys open their instruments on Christmas day.

Long story short, the boys opened their violins on Christmas, and even Gus excitedly exclaimed, "I didn't know I would get my own violin!!! That's awesome!"

Since then, the boys have begun their lessons and are totally on board (for now.) I did, however, catch them trying to use the violin bows as swords the other day (so tempting!!). They have learned some fingering, how to hold the instrument and have learned a short song! And while their playing is not exactly music to my ears, it is....totally delightful!