Connecting Chords

My instrument playing background is limited.  In grade school, I played the trombone for a year but that was just because it was required to play a brass instrument for a year before you could play drums.  A second cousin played in the UW marching band and had an extra trombone laying around.  I learned about spit valves and the different numbering positions.  I wasn’t patient enough to stick it out and play the drums the next year. It dawned on me that I wouldn’t be in the marching band anyway as no musical instrument could compete with my love for football and on Friday nights, I’d be in football formations not marching ones.

Finally, at age 30, with my football playing days over, there was no excuse to not pick up an instrument.  Guitar seemed like the coolest one out there, along with it’s portability, figured it would be a lifelong possession, no matter how much I moved in those days.

I had a few lessons but mainly taught myself.  Like anything in life, it just took patience and practice to get through the inevitable plateaus of learning something new.

After lots of stops and starts and large practice gaps, I finally played my first song, “Take it Easy” by the Eagles about a year or so later.

I’m no virtuoso, my plucking around is barely passable in social settings amongst friends and family.  But playing the guitar serves as a nice little distraction when I’m bored and a nice room decoration otherwise.


And now, the guitar also holds the potential to help raise my son or so says my wife.

Meghan tells me she wants me to play for Cash as much as possible as she’d read somewhere that early exposure to music is beneficial to babies and their overall development and certainly their music appreciation.  If that’s true, playing guitar for Cash is a win-win situation.


I can keep his attention and expand his brain musically while I get some much-needed practice in…with bonus of us enjoying an activity together. I can’t wait for the day he can jam with me on another guitar, sing, play piano, ukulele or just bust a move.

I’d be lying if I said that when I first imagined myself playing guitar it was in front of thousands of adoring fans and not in front of a baby with a play-gym and toys strewn by my feet.  But, I’ll choose Cash’s curious stare that leads into a smirk over a sea of pumped fists any day.

I don’t know anything about Cash’s current musical tastes. I assume he’s as blank a slate as he’ll ever be so maybe I’ll just expose him to the good stuff-classic rock, blues, hard rock.

There are some father and son songs out there with cool, poignant lyrics: Creed’s “With Arms Wide Open”, Cat Stevens “Father and Son”, and Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle.”

But, my favorite is Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young” (And if I had my preferred singer, it’d be Eddie Vedder. Listen to his version here when you get a chance.

May your hands always be busy May your feet always be swift 

May you have a strong foundation When the winds of changes shift

May your heart always be joyful And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young

It’s time to create some memories now, with busy hands playing the guitar on a regular basis in the hopes I can give Cash some kind of music appreciation and foundation as his musical tastes will likely change as he ages.

But, in my memory, I’ll go where the music for him started, he’ll be that little guy at my feet, looking up at me, curious and smiling with a joyful heart…where he’ll stay…forever young.

photo copy

Baby First

Our Directv offers 1000 channels…or thereabouts when you include all the movie pay options.

Which is incredibly wasteful when you consider I really only watch about five of them with any regularity-ESPN & Fox have been in my wheelhouse for a long time.  FX has a few humorous shows that interest me. HGTV (aka ‘settling down TV’ came into my life along with my couplehood with Meghan and the next logical channel step is number 293 on the Directv lineup, The Baby First Channel.


Baby First is Meghan and I’s ‘go to’ channel for Cash when we need ‘to go away’ from being his entertainment and get something down for awhile.   Yes, Meghan and I did talk about how we weren’t going to have our kid watch TV until he was like three, and then only educational shows. In reality, we got part of it right, he was three when we first exposed him to the TV…three months.

Heck, the programming isn’t as harmful as we’d imagined and is visually stimulating if nothing else.  Cash has been quite mesmerized by he moving pictures and high definition screen and even taken to a few regular programs.

He’s a big fan of TEC, a driver-less tractor with eyes and a mouth who makes its way around the countryside of some dreary Northern European country.   From what I’ve seen, the main plot of each show is TEC pointing out an obvious thing like a puddle to a real life farm worker who understands TEC and nods and pantomimes while he is voiced over by narrator. TEC usually assists the farmer by towing a few objects and the moral the show is usually that people need some help once in awhile. A positive message if not an overly compelling one.  Cash seems to most appreciate TEC’s bright red color and locomotion against the muted countryside. (I did a little research and found the show is shot in Wales, which most the world has a hard time distinguishing from the rest of the U.K.)

Cash also likes the show,  “vocabuLARRY,” which centers around a brightly-colored (red, yellow, orange, blue) parrot, who has a really cool theme song with a jammin’ fiddle riff. (Kinda bluegrassy, Merle Haggard with spoken lyrics, “Who’s that swingin’ up and dowwwwn? Little kids scream, “La-rry!” Then  “Join ’em as he has some fun.” Again, the kids scream, “La-rry!” Then “Look at Larry, he’s so bright” La-rry! “Learns some words and gets them right.”

vocabuLarry’s plots are a little thin as well. The narrator will point out an object like a flower. Larry will say in a squeaky voice, “Flower” and then hang upside down, fly off screen and reappear on the side and then again from the bottom. Repeat “flower” a couple more times and then return to his swing and say goodbye. The theme song kicks back in which is about the duration as the actual scene.

Harry The Bunny, the “funniest bunny,” according the lyrics of the catchy theme song, is one of the 5 minute segment/programs labeled under Development shows.   One recent episode has Harry B reviewing vegetables laid out on a table. The only joke he makes in the episode about celery, lettuce and broccoli was that broccoli looks like a tree. He giggled after saying it.  He went on to identify them all as green and after nibbling them, said how yummy they all were. (which makes him an untrustworthy bunny as I would call none of the above “yummy” unless aided by dressing, cheese and/or peanut butter.

Cash doesn’t seem to be as taken with Ookii’s world, about a little green dinosaur and he’s downright creeped out by three singing mice, Tic, Tizzy, and Toot,  from the show “Squeak!”

It’s okay, I don’t like musicals by mice either….or musicals by people acting like cats…and just musicals in general.

It’s only fitting I say goodbye with the last show I’ll discuss here, Shushy Bye Baby. This has life-sized muppets dancing and miming next to a live, friendly-looking black male who sings jazzy, finger-snapping songs like, “sleeping makes me feel good, I want to thank you, and the theme song you will never, ever, ever get out of your head once you hear it, “Shushy bye.” The song’s lyrics go “Every night the sun goes down, the lights go out, throughout the town, that’s the time to close your eyes, cuz soon you’ll be in Shushy Bye. The chorus bursts, “Oh my my, shushy bye, I said, “oh, my my shushy-bye.”  The singer, who’s name I found is Michael North, has a good voice and puts his gusto into it.

The show is made up of little skits that take place above the clouds with various sprightly characters and real life folks dressed up as train conductors, a bearded king, and the Snoozies-Dozie, Zeez, and Snoozles.   Snoozles is always caring and eager to help, Zeez is lovable, fun-loving and always excited to try new things and Dozie loves to bake all kinds of special pies and has great ideas.

I don’t know if it’s a great idea to let Cash watch TV at such an early age but we do limit his time. We figure it’s a stimulating supplement to our reading time, toy time, outside time, meal time and bath time with him.  TV is in the mix as we try to fill his days with as much variety as we can.

We’re putting our Baby First in the hope he’ll learn a thing or two.


Nine In, Nine Out

Our son, Cash, is turning nine months old tomorrow, which means he’s spent just as much time outside the womb as he spent inside the womb.  Inside, we discovered, through sonograms and ultrasounds (don’t ask me to explain the difference because I know there is one but when I explain it, I start to mix up and switch between the two) that Cash was very active, hiccupped often and slept irregularly.

Image02 copy

In the nine months of his life out there in the world, he’s held on to those traits. And developed many more.  He enjoys viewing ceiling fans. Everywhere. On a recent trip to Camp Randall, we walked him into the McClain Center, the indoor football field. As I knelt down, I noticed he was in awe of something over my shoulder. I hoped it was the listing of the Rose Bowl champions (especially Daddy’s team in ’94!) or the mural of football helmets or the large, red motion W.


But, he was looking higher, to the ceiling where he quickly located the large industrial fans spinning, slow, long loops in their metal, circular cages.

In the morning, he takes the majesty of my spinning open the blinds of our large, living room window.  His eyes wide open in amazement at the morning light sweeping in as he smiles big.  Lately, I pull the blinds up about a foot and he playfully tugs on the strings, while balancing his stance on the couch cushions.

He gets overly excited, especially in my opinion, whenever one of the cats enters the room. Explosive breaths and flapping arms as he lunges his body towards the hesitant kitties.  His energy more than they can handle in most any moment. Because he’s still a bit too rough with cats, he doesn’t get to spend as time as he’d like with them.

At the risk of sounding like a dating profile, Cash also enjoys pounding everything he touches against the ground, silly bubble baths, dining in-mostly purees and yogurts-long crawls across the floor and stroller rides through the park capped off with some pushes on the swing.


Right now, I prognosticate his profession will be a morning drive radio host. He has lots to say with lots of energy at 6 AM.  “Listen to Cash in the morning on W…” has a nice ring to it.

Of course, by the time he’s an adult and in the job market, radio could very well be dead.  I can only imagine what job prospects await him in the future.  He’ll just have to keep his eyes open then for an opportunity that will suit his interests and skills.  Sometimes the perfect job is hard to come by and he’ll find you can’t always get what you’d like in every moment.

My hope is that whatever Cash does in life, he still feels the burst of excitement and hope every morning when the living room blinds open.


A little fistful of fur

No one who knows me is under any delusion that I am an overly enthusiastic pet owner.  “Reluctant but tolerant” sums upmy pet ownership attitude.


My wife, Meghan, is the opposite. When I met and moved in with her, she had three cats.  Let me write that again, THREE. CATS.  I went from zero to three which is the emotional equivalent to being sidewiped by a runaway semi-truck at 80 miles per hour.  Only the cat ownership probably causes more pain long-term. Broken bones and bruises heal but scooping poop from litter boxes never ends.

With baby Cash in the picture, we have reduced the number of cats to two–no, I didn’t have one of them sent “off to the farm.” He is still alive and thriving since we “re-homed” him to a friendly, attentive woman in a less kid-hectic household to suit that cat’s temperament.

This was the only way my wife was at peace with giving him up/re-homing him, knowing he was so well-cared for.

For the past year, Meghan mentions wanting to get a dog…way too often. I thought one was either  a cat OR a dog person, not a cat AND a dog person!  Even worse, she’s a cat and a dog and an all-animal person.

After visiting a llama farm, Meghan wants a llama…after petting a goat, she talks about the possibility of housing one in our backyard, after visiting a farm…you get the idea. A trip to the zoo causes consternation in me that we’ll soon start shopping around for giraffe food or a large monkey cage.

I’ve conceded to the dog talk fairly in my opinion with a fair compromise. We can get a dog…we just won’t have dogs AND cats. So, we either wait until the cats are ready to go “off to the farm” or we rehome them to make room for a canine. Kids and dogs and cats…just too much of a zoo for my liking.

Sadly, I’m outnumbered in my household…not just by pets but by my wife and son.  Cash gets ecstatic when one of our cats, Emmitt and Sophie, walks by him. He does a clap and a hop and a laugh, sometimes a squeal when he sees them. As Meghan described it, they are moving stuffed animals to him. And he treats them as such.


Cash treats the stuffed bunny he sleeps with like a rag doll, flipping and smacking it around like a professional wrestler until he arrives at a comfortable resting position.

unnamed copy

I half expect him to stand on the edge of the crib like it’s a turn buckle and Superfly Snuka the Bunny to the mattress.

He treats the cats pretty much the same. We are trying to teach him to gently stroke them but his instinct is to roughly slap and squeeze them where he usually ends up with a little fistful of fur. The cats avoid him accordingly.  As Cash scoots towards them excitedly, they retreat. Like a cat and mouse game, just reversed…a Cash and cat game.

With the reluctant realization the cats bring Cash excitement, I’m forced to be even more tolerant and accept my fate as a pet owner.

Otherwise, I risk Meghan and Cash looking to re-home me.