Archive for October, 2010

Guster Love

My husband and I went to see Guster at the newly re-opened State Theatre in Portland, Maine on Wednesday evening. I think it was our 7th or 8th time seeing Guster live. (I’ve actually lost count.)

The funny thing is that every time we see Guster, we seem to act like teenagers. (We are in our 30s.) We get all excited for the show, talk about what songs we hope they’ll sing, what crazy antics we can expect from band members and compare notes on our favorite moments from past concerts.

After the show, which we decided was probably the best we’ve seen thus far even when compared to the marathon concert they did at the State while filming their only live DVD, I started to think about why I love Guster so much. And for so long.

Here are my top ten reasons for loving Guster (in no particular order):

  1. Live show. Guster is a band that you can’t truly appreciate until you see them live. Period.
  2. Talent. They’ve got it. Each one of them. Band members seem to switch instruments for every song and are constantly moving around the stage throughout a concert, sometimes playing instruments I can’t quite identify. Adam and Ryan’s voices sound stellar together or apart. Their lyrics are often fun, confusing, deep and entertaining.
  3. Songs with the word Jesus in the title. Despite being Jewish, Guster continues to write and sing songs that involve Jesus. Perplexing, but fun. (Note: My favorite is “Jesus on the Radio,” especially when it’s done live and without any microphones.)
  4. Infant calmer. When G was an infant, he wasn’t the best napper. He never wanted to miss anything, which was not the most convenient thing for this mom. One day, when he was overtired and still fighting a nap, I walked into our living room to turn down the Guster CD that was blasting. He immediately calmed down. After a few minutes of dancing around the room with him to “Barrel of a Gun,” he fell fast asleep. Maybe it has something to do with the album Guster on Ice playing in the hospital room when he was born. But, it was always Guster he wanted to hear.
  5. Airport Song. Found on the Goldfly album from 1997, this song never gets old. They always play it live, and it always sounds different. Brian goes nuts with the hand percussion. Ping pong balls fly. From disco to demonic, “Airport Song” keeps us warm and safe.
  6. Brian Rosenworcel. Percussionist extraordinaire. I can only imagine what this man’s hands look like up close. He beats cymbals, bongos and other drum-related instruments with his bare hands and tapes them (his hands, that is) in between songs. Watching Brian is a show in and of itself. And, if you’re lucky, you might get to hear him sing a song or two (e.g., He sang an impromptu 50 state song on Wednesday).
  7. Happy Frappy. Listening to Guster makes me happy and content. It also makes me sing loudly.
  8. Simplicity. Guster is 3 guys (plus Luke = 4) playing instruments and singing songs. All of their albums sound different, yet still sound like Guster. Their shows don’t have smoke or extravagant light shows. They don’t tell me what to do at live shows. I like this.
  9. Longevity. They, and their songs, have it. I have more than five hours of Guster music on my iPod and can listen to it all without getting sick of them. I’m not sure how, but their songs never seem to get old. Nor do they sound the same.
  10. Maine love. Guster hearts Maine and Maine hearts Guster. They always make Portland a stop on their tours while other bands completely ignore the pine tree state. They shot their only live DVD at the State (which my husband and I make a very brief cameo in). Adam lives in Portland. Home sweet home.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, find out now.

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Six creative ideas for preserving kids’ school papers and art projects

Ever since G started kindergarten, I have been overwhelmed with papers and artwork. He has a folder that goes home with him each day, and it seems like it is constantly stuffed to the brim with worksheets, notices and art projects.

Not wanting to throw anything away, I initially started to keep everything in a folder. I had visions of myself flipping through its contents at the end of the school year, seeing how much G progressed in his first year of elementary school.

I couldn’t close the folder by mid-October, and I decided I needed a new tactic. (Actually, a few.)

Following are six creative ideas to preserve all those papers and projects your kids come home with. Some of them are mine, and some came from friends. (One friend pointed out that as the kids get older, the colorful papers and crafty creations get replaced by actual work. So, preserve early!)

  • Scan and/or take pictures of everything and save it to CD-ROM or flash drive. At the end of the year, you can make a photo book, complete with captions and stories about the projects. (I have G explain to me what each of his pictures depict. Like any artwork, it has more meaning when you hear how the artist was inspired.) With a program like iMovie, you can even make a short video with pictures, subtitles and music. And as an added bonus, you have some great gifts for the grandparents!
  • Put together a binder. If you’re not into digitizing everything, a binder is a good alternative. Use a 3-hole punch or sheet protectors to make a nice book of preschool, school or daycare papers and projects. I made G an “ABC 123” binder with all the worksheets he completed in nursery school. It was a fun way to see G’s progression in writing, and he used it as a reference when he wanted to remember what the letters looked like.
  • Store the papers and projects in a safe place. You can’t put larger items in a binder. Mid-preschool, I purchased a bin to keep my favorite pictures and larger art projects that came home with G from daycare and preschool. (The fridge got way too full.) Along with a date, I indicated where the artwork came from (school or daycare) and any necessary description of the piece. (It may look like a spider when you put it in. After a while, it just looks like scribbles, even for Mom.)
  • Create your own art gallery at home. Designate an area of the house for exhibiting the very best works of art. It could be a bulletin board in an office or kitchen. One of my friends strung some rope along her kitchen wall and hung her kids’ artwork on it with clothes pins. We converted a second kitchen in our house to an art room and fill the walls with an ever-changing gallery of work. Of course, if you’re short on space, there’s always the fridge.
  • Frame the really good stuff. Some pieces are just too good not to display in a more permanent manner. Showing off colorful kids art in a nice, black modern frame can bring some real pop to a room. For a more dramatic look, cut out a portion of the picture and use a larger white matte when you frame it. (Don’t forget to date it!) I framed G’s first paper from preschool, added a picture from the first day of school and created an instant keepsake for the hallway wall. The possibilities are endless when it comes to framing, and the framed artwork also make great grandparents gifts.
  • Make some placemats. I can’t remember where I heard this idea, but I thought it was a pretty good one. If you have a laminator (or access to one), take the pieces of artwork and laminate them. You can use them as placemats. They are easy to clean, and you can change them out on a regular basis.

In the end, you have some wonderful pieces of artwork to share with your family and friends. And you’ve preserved some very precious memories. Plus, it’s a great way to see how much your little one has grown up (both for him and you).

I’m sure I’ll be opening that bin of artwork for G in a few years, yearning for the days of the overwhelming simple alphabet papers and art projects.

It’s all about perspective, right?

Have some creative ideas of your own? Please share in the comments section!

You can’t get there from here.

So, I’m going to a retreat for work tomorrow. It’s at a board member’s house on Little Sebago Lake. Should be nice, though I hate going anywhere west in Maine due to the lack of an east-west highway in the state.

I mapped out the route from Brunswick. Here’s what it looks like:

It’s true what they say here in Maine. You just can’t get there from here.

Ugh.

Left-handed, right-brained and misunderstood

As I get older and move further along in my career in public communications, I am realizing more and more how very right-brained I am.

I’m a lefty, so I tend to do things a bit backwards. I also think differently. (Or so it seems to me.)

I get frustrated when I’m in a meeting and others aren’t on the same page as me. I find I’m often about 12 steps ahead of people, while they’re still processing an idea I’ve long since moved on from.

In the past, I just thought I had unique insight. Now, I realize my brain doesn’t process the same as the majority of the people around me.

My 22-month old, Biz, looks like he’s also going to be a lefty. He’s favored his left hand for eating and drawing (or “frawing”) since he learned how to hold a spoon. To gain more insight (that’s not my own) on the subject of how the right-brained person works, I found an article by Barbara Pytel on suite101.com. Here are some direct quotes from the article:

  • Right brains don’t like to listen to directions and don’t like to read them. They scan quickly and figure out what to do without reading details.

  • They don’t memorize well and need to visualize a picture so they can recall the facts.
  • Right brains don’t explain what they feel well and are misunderstood. They think of one thing, say another because their brain has already moved on to another thought.
  • Right brains don’t like to jump through the hoops to get something done. They also don’t like to follow rules which don’t make sense to them.
  • They see the whole person and are less likely to condemn a person because of a flaw.
  • Rights are trusting–too trusting. They easily have patents and ideas stolen from them, usually to a left. Lefts know how to use an idea. They just can’t come up with them on their own.
  • Rock and Roll music is preferred by rights. They are also easily distracted by music.
  • They often use their hands when they speak and may have difficulty speaking if they are not allowed to use their hands.
  • Right brains embrace new ideas. They are future thinkers and enjoy introducing controversial ideas.
  • They believe that everything is possible, tend to be very creative, and don’t see the pitfalls along the way.

    [Read more at Suite101: Right Brain Characteristics: Half of the population is right-brained.]

These all describe me very, very well.

Being a left-handed, right-brained person, I admittedly scanned through this article quickly, stopping on the points that truly resonated with me.

You might want to read the full article to gain your own insight.

How not to get my vote.

Election time is in full effect right now. While they may just be mid-term elections, there are some pretty important people and items to vote on next month.

I was visited by two local candidates running for office this past weekend. Both made impressions on me, and I was able to decide exactly who I would be voting for in this particular race.

Here’s how not to get my vote:

  • Tell me you didn’t respond to my email because you were getting ready for an outdoor fair and did nothing about my concern (he actually said this).
  • Make sure you swear at least once while talking about your opposition.
  • Minimize a domestic assault that occurred in my neighborhood.
  • Don’t over any solutions. And if you do, immediately dispute them.

That was the second person that came to my house.

The first person knocked on my door right as I was ushering my older son, G, out the door to go to soccer and my husband was taking our screaming 22 month old, Biz, upstairs for an overdue nap. The candidate smiled, handed me a flyer and gave me a quick introduction. She asked for my vote, noted the email on the flyer and told me to contact her with any questions I might have.

Short, sweet and to the point. She knew it was a bad time and moved on.

I take voting seriously. I don’t miss elections. As a citizen, I believe that it is my right to have my voice heard, whether it’s by attending a local town council meeting, contacting my legislators or casting a ballot. When I don’t have all the information about a candidate or issue, I seek it out.

I actually didn’t think I’d end up voting for the first candidate. Until I met the second one.

If you’re running for office, don’t think that you’ll get a vote just because you show up to someone’s house. And be careful about what you say. Someone might start complaining on Facebook or blogging about your ill chosen words.

Update (10/16/10): A couple days ago, another person came to my door. The person was representing another local candidate and left a flyer with my husband. Later that evening, I noticed a sign for the candidate displayed in front of my house. I immediately took it down.

If you want my endorsement, you need to ask for it.

The New Normal

I went to a Leadership Series discussion the other day with about 70 other women. It was hosted by a local nonprofit women’s organization, and the topic was “The New Normal.” Since I also work for a nonprofit organization that specializes in services for women, I thought it would be a good event to go to.

The subject of the discussion seemed a bit odd to me, mainly because of the word “normal.” It’s one of those words that makes me uncomfortable.

I mean, who determines what normal is anyway? And if there’s a new one, what happened to the old one?

Dictionary.com defines the word normal as “conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.” However, if you go by this definition, it’s completely subjective. In my world, for example, being gay is normal, though there are many (too many) people out there who would disagree.

The discussion was interesting. There was talk about the state of the economy, the influence that technology has had on our lives, even terrorism.

In a world where we broadcast our lives on blogs and Facebook, people are struggling to keep or find jobs, and we can’t travel without worrying about bed bugs or terrorist attacks, here’s what I think the “new normal” is:

  • Being true to yourself, no matter what
  • Being self-aware (and aware, in general)
  • Saying no (or yes), even if it feels scary or others look at you differently
  • Figuring out what is important in your life and going with it
  • Simplifying
  • Looking at the glass as being full, even if others tell you it’s running on empty
  • Leading by example
  • Giving back
  • Teaching our kids tolerance and empowering them to make a positive social impact in the future

What’s your normal?