What's in a child's name? That which we call parents' baggage...or so she says.
Work/baby/life Balance Series: Part Deux.
Summer calls for living outdoors and these prove to be the perfect sanctuaries.
Got Grit? It's needed for meaningful creativity.
Perfect personalized gifts.
~ The Other Sarah
Holidays are when I feel my most Southern. In fact, I wrote this post almost a year ago exactly. I know on a logical level people celebrate the Fourth of July other places beyond Kentucky Lake and eat something besides barbeque and Aunt Bobbie's green beans. But as we say in the South, that just ain't right...at least not for this Southerner.
I love being a Southerner. I love the people, the accent, the history, the food, the landscape. I even love the humid, sticky heat. I love it all.
I didn't realize how much I loved the South until I left it. Suddenly, the way I spoke was funny and you had to ask if a restaurant served sweet tea. More importantly, I was forced to defend for the first time a place that I loved as much as my own mother. It's not a perfect place but, as everyone knows, you can say what you want about your momma but everyone else better sure as hell keep their mouth shut.
Recently, I ran across My South: A People, A Place, A World of Its Own based on this work by Robert St. John. Inspired I decided to write my own version and share with you what My South represents.
My South is my Papa driving his pickup down a gravel road.
Atop his head is a trucker hat (before they were called trucker hats), raising his index finger as a greeting to whoever passes his way.
In My South, you can be fixin' to do all manner of things...
unless you or your baby didn't get your nap out.
My South is Nanny's sweet tea, which contains more sugar than any frothy frozen concoction Starbucks could dream up.
In My South, I drive county roads named after ancestors and my son is born a ninth generation Kentuckian.
My South is the way my grandmother's best friend still calls me Baby Sarah despite my rapidly approaching 30th birthday.
And my Daddy Bud dropping off more garden fresh zucchini than you could ever possibly eat.
In My South, all babies are precious but they might not all be pretty.
My South is watching Hee Haw without the slightest bit of irony.
In My South if someone says bless your heart, then they are sending everything but blessings your way.
My South is my Aunt Bobbie's green beans that cook for two days but get eatin up in under five minutes.
And in My South I walk into Leigh's Bar-b-Que and my red hair immediately gives me away. "Here comes a Skidmore!"
My South is the fierce love you feel for a land and people that compose the breath and blood of your very soul.
More than moon pies and magnolia trees, it is at your core.
My South is me.
~ Sarah Stewart Holland
The Fourth of July is my favorite holiday. It's memorable, captures the essence of summer, and feels like magic in that time-stands-still kind of way. As adults, we remember decorating our bikes in every variety of red, white, and blue for the neighborhood block parade. We can hear ourselves giggling and splashing with our friends in the sprinklers or pool. We can taste that perfectly ripe (and thankfully cool) piece of watermelon after a long day in the sun. We haven’t forgotten the oohs, ahs, and excitement of staying up late and watching fireworks alongside our family and friends.
And now—lucky them—our kids get to experience the best of this summer fun too. They get to live outdoors, pal around, lose track of time, nap in bathing suits, eat the sweetest BBQ, corn, and blueberries, and write in the sky with sparkling wands. Most importantly, they (and you!) get to play and dream big!
We wish you a Happy Independence Day!
- The Sarahs
Nothing says summer like tunes blasting from a rolled down car window or from speakers on the beach. Here's a post I wrote sharing some of my favorite children's music and encouraging everyone to take another look at what was long considered the lamest of musical genres. My favorites haven't really changed, except I would absolutely add Dan Zanes now...as you can probably tell from his constant presence in my video montages!
Several years ago, before Griffin was a twinkle in my eye, I stumbled across an interview with Stefan Shepherd on NPR. Shepherd writes Zooglobble, a blog dedicated to reviewing and sharing the newest children's music. When asked by the host why kids couldn't just listen to The Beatles or Rihanna or whatever their parents were listening to, Shepherd explained he thought it was important that his daughter listen to music that explored subjects and issues she understood. He didn't want her only listening to songs about romantic love (the primary subject of most pop music) or other adult subjects any more than he wanted her only reading Jane Austen or Michael Chabon.
I remember being so struck by what he said that I noted his favorite artists in my super-secret-when-I-have-a-baby file and vowed to make children's music a part of my children's life.
Of course, when I say I listen to children's music with Griffin, I get a lot of eye rolling and sighs from my fellow parents. Somehow children's music has the reputation for being the worst (and least hip) part of being a parent. (Personally, I blame Raffi.) Why don't we all just put on our mom jeans, pile in the minivan, and sing "I Love You, You Love Me" all the way to Chuck E. Cheese?
The irony is the actual music has gotten hipper as its reputation has taken a dive. Several prominent bands from the 1990s, such as They Might Be Giants and Barenaked Ladies, have reinvented themselves (and children's music itself) with some of the most inventive and infectious tunes out there. Plus, there are some seriously dedicated artists recording fresh, original songs, instead of torturing us all with one more version of "The Wheels on the Bus." If I'm being honest, this music is so good some of these CDs continue to play long after I've dropped Griffin off at day care.
But don't just take my word for it. I've picked my top five favorite artists for you to listen to and decide for yourself. Hopefully, you'll give children's music another chance. After all, do any of us really want to catch our 6-year-old bopping along to "All the Single Ladies"?
1. Justin Roberts. My absolute favorite. Roberts' songs are funny, insightful, and fresh. I dare you to listen to "Stay-At-Home Dad" without giggling or "Giant-Size Butterflies" without crying. I love all his songs but "Pop Fly" is my favorite. It does what Roberts does best - captures the joy and charm of being a kid in a way both parents and kids can enjoy.
2. Elizabeth Mitchell. I love Mitchell because she is everything children's music isn't supposed to be. Calm. Soothing. Beautiful. Smithsonian Folkways is offering a free download from her newest album.
3. They Might Be Giants. Just think of TMBG as The Beatles of children's music. If there is a group responsible for the reinvention of this genre, it's them. All of their albums are great, but Here Comes Science is amazing. Let's put it this way. If I win a trivia contest by explaining the difference between speed and velocity, it will not be thanks to my public school education. It will be thanks to They Might Be Giants. Their free weekly podcast is an excellent way to get introduced to their music.
4. Barenaked Ladies. If I had a million dollars, I would buy you all the Barenaked Ladies album Snacktime. (Ha! Like what I did there!?!) I don't know what they do better - clever lyrics or lovely melodies - luckily I don't have to chose. Plus, Gordon Lightfoot makes an appearance. How can you argue with that OR a free download?
5. Renee & Jeremy. Similar in sound to Elizabeth Mitchell, this duo's sweet songs are easy on the ears. A lot of their songs also teach important lessons about sharing and why you can't do everything you want right now. Added bonus: They are also giving away two free downloads on their website!
~ Sarah Stewart Holland