Saturday, May 16, 2009

Music, Always More Music

I was reading in a book recently (it was Devil in the White City, if you're interested) and the author was describing someone (I think it was Olmstead, the landscape designer from the Chicago World's Fair) as someone who was a musical prodigy because he sang before he could speak. I don't necessarily think that my baby is a musical prodigy; however, she was singing and humming long before she could speak.

It must have something to do with all the music in our house. Bianca practices the piano once a day, I practice once a day, and then there's usually singing (sometimes by me) or Steve Songs on PBSKIDS or Backyardigans any other time.

Portia loves music and she's always singing. When I put her to bed or down for a nap, she usually doesn't fall asleep right away. But she doesn't cry either. She's usually singing until she falls asleep--any number of songs like the Chipmunks Christmas Song (yes, still), Rubber Duckie, Do As I'm Doing, or some Portia-original.

She doesn't always love when I sit down to practice the piano though, because that means I won't be holding her (although believe me, I have played with her in my lap in the past). But most of the time, she cries when she hears the first measure of the Nocturne I'm learning. I figured out how to get her to encourage my practicing. I sit down right after lunch, when she knows that it's time for her nap, and I ask her whether she'd like to take a nap now or hear a lullaby. She says a lullaby, which I begin playing, while she runs off to play with her toys. As soon as the last chord is hit, Portia runs out and says, "I like that song," and then politely asks for "More Lullaby" or "More Nocturne." I can usually get a good half hour of practice in with her encouraging me each time while she's getting out of taking her nap. This works before bedtime too.

My other favorite time Portia sings is right before I put Portia to bed, I sing her a lullaby and rock her. Just once. And most nights, she sings along with me. I posted a video below of our nightly ritual on the evening of her second birthday. (I apologize in advance for my singing; I said I like music, not that I'm good at making it!)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

My Talented Young Writer

Last night was the Talented Young Writers program. Bianca shared a poem she wrote:

Flowering Forest

I chase the trees, tree after tree, to the flowering meadow.
I'm not chasing trees, flowers are chasing me! in the flowering meadow.

They come and they go, every ripe pretty tulip.
They hear and they see, they can chase after me, in the flowering forest.


Monday, May 4, 2009

My Miranda Tulips

Shortly after Miranda died, a group of women in my neighborhood came over with spades and shovels and bulbs. One of them had found a tulip in a catalogue called a Miranda tulip. They dug and planted and the next spring, my beds were overflowing with white and red tulips. They were beautiful and they come back every year right around Miranda's birthday and I treasure them.

Last spring, I was a wreck when I went outside and saw most of my tulips without their heads. I couldn't believe it. I wondered who the heartless kids were that had cut my tulips. The stems were chopped off in a straight line, looked like they had been cut with a scissors. I realized a little later that of course it was the deer with their straight teeth. The deer devour my strawberries and tulips are edible (and I guess delicious, which is a good thing to know in case of an emergency).

This weekend, we had quite a storm. It rained and hailed and Bianca noticed yesterday that a lot of my Miranda tulips had snapped near the heads and were hanging from their stems. Bianca and I went out and gathered each one of them we could find and filled up bowls with water (as the stems left on the head were only about an inch long and regular vases wouldn't work). They're beautiful still, and I've decorated my house with them. I've got a trifle bowl filled with them in my kitchen, and Portia, Bianca, and I each got a single tulip for our bedrooms. In a small way, I feel like I'm decorating my house with little reminders of Miranda. Like our house is filled with her presence (or presents, whichever way you want to look at it).

Bianca thinks the crevices fill with water and so it made the tulips too heavy for their stems, which sounds about right to me. Bianca played a big part in the rescue mission and for that, I'm grateful. I wouldn't have known they were there if not for her venturing out in the rain yesterday to check on some mother's day present she's storing out there (don't tell her, but I know she's steeping some flower petals in water trying to make me home-made perfume).

I noticed some more hanging this morning as I returned from jogging. So I grabbed them and filled another bowl. I don't know if my attempt to save every bit of life related to Miranda (including these tulips) is the result of my guilt at not being able to save her life almost four years ago. It probably is. I still wonder if I made the right decision--if I had kept her on life support just a little longer maybe she would have made it through. I know what the doctors told me, but I can't help but wonder.

I know she's gone--for now. But I still look forward to springtime, her birthday, when a little bit of life (in Miranda's name) peeks through the soil and surrounds me with beauty. And I'll try to keep it around me as long as I have the power to.