Thursday, May 24, 2012

"Travelin' light is the only way to travel"

Ever heard that J.J. Cale song? That was definitely me yesterday, flying alone with both kids. Thanks to Southwest, I was able to bring possibly the record amount of stuff for one adult. For $200, the price of two tickets, I checked three loaded suitcases, a guitar, and a carseat. I gate-checked a stroller; and I carried on a backpack, a diaper bag, and a small suitcase containing Jack's DVD player, lunchbox, and toys. Cora flew for free. So...three people and a car-load of crap, transported for $200? Pretty amazing.

Even more amazing were the angelic people I encountered. John was not able to help because he's not allowed through security. So he ran my bags inside while I stood, curbside, by the car and strapped Cora on my chest and Jack in the stroller. I kissed him and ran inside, where I saw my bags and guitar waiting, unnoticed, by the ticket counter. Because Cora is a lap-baby, I had to stand in the full service line, where I stared anxiously at my bags the entire time--I was convinced someone would notice them and haul them away.

At the front of the line, I checked in. Jack had unstrapped himself from the stroller and was standing there, drinking his juice. I had to leave him several times to run to the end of the ticket counter and grab each of our suitcases and guitar. A young guy noticed my predicament and offered to help, and he snagged my final suitcase and hauled it over to the agent who was checking my bags.

The agent assumed the guy was my husband and asked what his name was so she could find his ticket. I said, "No, it's just me and the kids." The look of shock on her face left a lasting impression! At that point, Jack started wandering off. I had Cora safely in the bjorn, thank goodness. A woman traveler walked up and said, "Can I do anything to help you? I'm alone and I have some time." I said, "Yes! Can you talk to my son for a few minutes while I finish checking my bags? I'm scared he's going to run off." So she made conversation with him, and then he hid behind my legs. I think he was scared she was going to separate him from his Mama! (Earlier, he hadn't wanted his father to get him dressed while I loaded the car; he was so scared that I was going to get on the plane and leave him at home!)

This woman, Bonnie, stayed with me all the way from ticketing, through security, and walked me to our gate. When she said goodbye, I started to cry. I was tired, and I was so scared that people were going to be mean to me on the plane. I knew I was a high maintenance traveler. The man giving me a gate check ticket for my stroller was a little short with me, and that's when I really started to cry. He said, "It's OK, I'll help you get on the plane." And he did. He walked with me down the jetway and made sure we were fine.

Once on the plane, I wasn't surprised to see that there were no more seats available. Our full-service check-in had taken too long and we'd missed the family boarding. A lovely young woman offered up her aisle seat. So Jack got in the center seat, and he immediately got upset that he wouldn't be next to the window. The man in the window seat, however, was completely passed out, with earplugs in and a hat over his face. There was no chance Jack could railroad him into giving up his seat. So he peered over the guy out the window, as I situated our many belongings. Now I got a chance to look at Cora's face (she'd been outward facing in the bjorn this entire time). She was asleep! I felt horrible--her head had been bobbing around as she'd been sleeping. What an uncomfortable nap!

I got out my nursing cover, and Jack was occupied with the take-off while I nursed the baby. Then I presented him with a big surprise--the DVD player we'd bought with our Costco rebate check. And a new "Thomas the Train" movie really put it over the top. He was thrilled! I rigged that up. Eventually, we went potty. Jack must've unrolled half a roll of toilet paper all over the floor, despite my protests and threats. When I walked out, the attendant said "STOP!" and pointed to my feet--both had long sheets of toilet paper stuck to them.

And when we landed in Jacksonville, our seat partner awoke. I said, "You did a great job sleeping with all this baby noise surrounding you." He said, "I have to. I play music for a living, and we play until late. Then bus call to get to the airport is at 4 am, so this is my only time to sleep." I asked him who he played with, and he said "Dustin Lynch, up and coming country singer." I said, "Oh I've never heard of him. What do you play?" He said, "Guitar." I asked a few more questions, ("Are you the utility guy? Do you sing, too?") He finally said, "Well, I am Dustin Lynch."

Jack sat on his lap for a picture. I said, "Do you have kids?" He said, "No, thank God. I don't know how anyone would be able to have kids and do what I do."

We sat in Jacksonville for twenty minutes. I got out a Pull-Up to change Jack. Right then, Jack said, "Oh no, Mommy, look!" And there was a giant puddle beneath him. He'd leaked right out of his Pull-up, all over the seat and his shorts and legs. Poor little guy. Our angelic flight attendant, who had already pandered to our every need throughout the first flight, rushed over with paper towels and a trash bag. After I'd cleaned it all up, he tore off the seat cushion and returned five minutes later with a new one. Hopefully the experience proved a point I'd been trying to make to Jack: Pull-Ups are NOT diapers! We have to pee in the potty!

Back in our seats, I was grateful for our kind flight attendant. Only on Southwest do they keep loading you with snacks and drinks, and kindly ask repeatedly if they can bring you anything else.

Our second flight brought us to my beautiful Virginia, where Chichi and Gracca were eagerly awaiting our arrival. They spirited us away, and we made it a couple miles from Norfolk before stopping at a gas station to nurse.

But we did finally make it to our beloved Chesapeake shore, where we were able to dip Cora's feet and let her understand that she, too, is a Bay baby. And I was able to understand that I, somehow, can travel alone with a newborn and a toddler. Life is amazing!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Today was the last day in the studio with Brent...we spent one hour finishing up a harmony vocal part. I am not really believing it! He said he'll have the mix back to me in a couple weeks.

So yesterday was really the last day, I guess: Cousin Shelby stayed with Cora all day, and Jack had a playdate in the morning because school is out. I spent the day working on final harmony parts and a couple guitar parts. It is SUCH a bigger deal to get to the studio these days, even just for a few hours, because I need to organize childcare for both kids. Not only that, I need to pump every few hours (or go for too long without pumping, which is not a fun sensation)

After I got home from the studio, I immediately started the bedtime process with the kids. I nursed Cora to sleep, and she went down magically at 5:45. I made dinner for myself and Jack, gave him his bath, stories, "noni," our nightly Twinkle Twinkle Little Star rendition, and kisses (through the crib tent, which is how he likes it)

Miss Rhonda arrived, and I left for the Casey Driessen Red Shoe String Jam. It was fairly crowded when I arrived, and I saw everyone in Nash who has something to do with strings; friends and acquaintances such as Brittany Haas, Scott Simontacchi, Todd Phillips, Paul Kramer, Mike Compton, Richard Bailey, Tim O'Brien, etc, and of course Mr. Driessen himself. I asked him about the Fox & Hound II session, and he seemed surprised and amused that I'd made that little discovery, as he'd forgotten about it himself (his own daughter Emmette hasn't seen it). He told me all about recording with Disney producers; he said it was the "quickest" session he'd ever been a part of (ie, he really had to be on his game). There were TV screens in each booth, showing the animation as he played; he was to play orchestrated parts along with the metronome and with the animation. After each take, the Disney people would listen back and watch the animation, put their heads together and accept it or say, "Do it again."  It occurred to me that I'd never considered how much work goes into the music for my son's cartoons. By the way, thanks Disney, for giving my bluegrass friends work.

There was a jam outside: Tim O, Grier, Sam Bush, and some others. I headed out to the car to PUMP (luckily I'd brought my nursing cover, as there was a street light illuminating my milking experience). Back inside, I had a beer and jammed some.

I probably stayed too long. Janice Hall had relieved Miss Rhonda at 9:30 pm, and Janice said to stay as long as we wanted. It must've been 12:30 am when we got home.

The clincher? Jack slept in today til 8:45 am (?!?!). BUT...guess who was up and ready for action at 6 am? Yup. This is a learning process for ol' Mommy here. You can have the toddler sleep in some of the time; you can have the baby sleep in some of the time; but you can't have ALL THE CHILDREN sleep in ALL THE TIME! (And too bad "some of the time" never happens on the same day)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Weekend...alone with the kiddos!

Fraz left Friday to play some shows; he'll be back Monday. I've had a good weekend alone with both kids for the first time. While the weather was clear and sunny Friday, I took the kids running in the Double stroller. We ended up playing at the Nature Play area at the park. After nap, Jack played "basketball" with our neighbors while I nursed C-Biscuit. After bedtime, thanks to the babysitting skills of Lori Davis, Cora and I headed out to the Station Inn to meet up with 'grass parents Amy & Jeremy Darrow. We watched our buddies, Off the Wagon, and I sang along with some tunes I played with Michael Jezewski in South Carolina 12 years ago! (We had a weekly gig at Jack the Ripper in Charleston with our bluegrass band, Slaw's Uncle)

Julie Pennell picked us up Saturday morning in her party van. It took us 45 minutes to fit four kids, a wagon, and a double stroller in the back. Thanks to her DVD player which entertained our kids, Julie and I got to chat during the 25 minute ride to the Nashville Zoo. And did we have an awesome time there? After a little rainstorm, during which we changed diapers and did toddler potty-time, yes! Even when face to face with an elephant, though, Jack was more interested in playing with Julie's umbrella. And at the tiger exhibit, Jack was psyched to throw his treasured dino sippy cup into their habitat. Bye bye, dino sippy cup...

Once home, the exhausted kids slept for 3 and a half hours. When they woke it was raining, so I put in a new movie for Jack and sat down to nurse while we watched it: "Fox & the Hound II." To my surprise, there was a pretty awesome bluegrass band jammin' out during the entire movie. The plot entails some Singin' Stray Dogs auditioning for the Grand Ole Opry. I was guessing that the banjo player was Dennis Caplinger; but I was trying to figure out which L.A. cats would've been playing Dobro, mandolin, bass, and fiddle. The credits rolled by: Mike Marshall, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Byron House, Casey Driessen, and Noam Pikelny. Noam! I'm curious when this was tracked. Pretty damn good bluegrass band for a rainy Saturday cartoon, and also a strange collision of worlds for me.

This morning, to celebrate Mother's Day, Jack and I made cranberry scones from scratch. Here's a 3 year old's dream: the part when you get to squeeze the butter bits into the flour with your fingers. I let him pour in the milk, eggs and cranberries, and he was in heaven. He said, "Do we get to eat these?" The kid is used to art projects that he can't eat.

We'll be picking bluegrass with some friends later today. Cold sheets of rain are still pourin' down. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Milkin' Mama: back to work on my record

Today was my first day back at the studio working on my record since I was pregnant. I had to line up childcare for both kids, unlike the last couple weeks at Tom T. & Dixie Hall's, where I was able to bring baby Cora.

My cousin Shelby came over to stay with Cora all day, while Jack went to his preschool. Miss Rhonda drove Jack to the park after preschool because our session went for an hour after school.

This morning, we got to work with Andy Hall laying down Dobro tracks on "When We Fall." He blew us away, as always. Fraz came in to sing on several tracks, and he sounded fabulous as well. I brought the breast pump to the studio and drove Brent crazy, as the pump was so loud that he couldn't hear the tracks going down. Fraz asked me to stop pumping because of the noise, so whenever Brent hit the talkback button to make a comment, I'd quickly stop the pump. Brent said, "He knows what you're doing!" What else can a mom do, though, when she's a milk cow?

During listen-back with Fraz, Brent started singing along with the breast pump motor's whir. Then he really showed off: "Your pump is somewhere between a six and a flat seven, going to the one." Ah! Fraz actually likes to harmonize with the pump. Hopefully Brent's analysis of the intervals will help with Fraz's harmonizing!

When I got home, Cora had gutted three bottles in several hours and was sound asleep. She seemed happy, and Shelby said they'd had a great day. It felt a little weird to have missed her all day. When Jack saw me, he ran up to me and hugged me and wouldn't let go. I kept thinking, "He's not going to do this when he's ten."

It was wonderful to hear the record with fresh ears. I can't believe some of the musicianship on this record. I'm really proud of what we accomplished, especially since I had an eight pounder squashed up against my diaphragm the whole time. Pretty amazing what the human body can do.