Thursday, 31 December 2015

My Most Important Person

17 years ago, I met the most important person in my life at a New Year's Eve Dance. I didn't know that he was my most important person at the time, I just knew that I "really really liked him," and he was "like 7 feet tall," and the cutest boy I had ever met. Quotes are from (incredibly embarrassing) 16 year old Danielle's journal. He is not 7 feet tall, he is almost 6'4'' and was wearing boots with thick soles, 90s fashion. His hair was also spiked in the front, as was popular at the time, probably adding height. I still "really really like him" and he is still the cutest boy I have ever met.

We have spent every New Year's Eve together since that fateful night in 1998. The teenage years were spent with friends and frost bite. Getting locked out of houses while wearing heels in -40 degrees Celsius. Slurpees and Doritos, bad movies, and kissing in my parent's mini van. Soon we were married and living thousands of km from anyone we knew. Quiet New Year's Eve celebrations with our cat in Moncton, making far too much food for 2 people, looking out the window at snow as tall as myself and wondering how we got there. A few years later, food and friends in Fredericton, counting down to midnight, a quick smooch, and visiting and games carrying on until sunrise (skipping the pancake breakfast to sleep, every year). Now we have New Year's in Ottawa with our 3 young sons. Playing in the snow, watching movies, eating pizza, and counting down to midnight at 8 pm, putting the kids to bed, and then trying to stay up until midnight. I know that our New Year's Eve Celebrations will continue to change, we are facing an international move, our boys will grow up and make their own traditions, and judging by recent trends, staying awake until midnight is only going to get more difficult. 

I am infinitely grateful for that New Year's when I met my Love. He is my constant in the chaos, my friend, my defender, the person who annoys me more than anyone I have ever met, yet also the person I want to spend all my time with. New Year's Eve is the perfect night for reflections, and I am so glad to reflect on "my 7 foot tall man" and our time together. I am grateful, and hopeful for many more years of partnership.

Tomorrow, I will be making far too many goals and plans, as I do every year. Tonight, I will be focusing on my most important person and making memories. Happy New Year to you and yours. May your evening be joyful, and if you have small children, may they sleep in until noon tomorrow. All the best in 2016! 

Friday, 11 December 2015

Ave Maria and Real Life

It is a Friday afternoon in mid December. Ottawa has absolutely no snow, and I am having trouble getting into the Christmas mood without the white stuff. In general, I am ready for Christmas, a result of being a type A and someone who enjoys avoiding retail in December (as a person who has worked retail in December, I feel that I have earned this right). Husband is off at a work party that involves brunch and ax throwing, he leads quite the life. I have 1 hour to figure out dinner, and work on prep for my student recital while the twins nap. Since I need to practice anyway, I decide that it will be a good idea to record my song for this year's student recital. It's nice to have some recordings to show to people who hire me for special events and music performances. Sometimes I think the actual reason I record myself is so that I can listen to it when I am 90 (hopefully).

After deciding on tuna casserole for dinner, which I have actually never made before, I put some water in a pot to boil and run downstairs with my computer to begin recording. It takes about 5 false starts before I am happy enough with my sound to continue. Verse two, things are going well, when the smoke detector goes off upstairs. I run upstairs, grab a chair (because I am not a giant like some people who live in this house), and hop up to turn off the alarm. Then, I take the pot off the burner (there is some food on the burner), open the window, turn on the fan, and stand motionless in the hallway, hoping that by some miracle, my boys have slept through the 2 minutes of chaos and noise. They have not.

Run back downstairs. Try to record again. 3 false starts until I internally say GOOD ENOUGH and keep going. Upload to iTunes, upload to Soundclould, I have no time or skill for fancy editing. A recording of me at this point is literally me singing/playing as you would hear me in person. I would like to think that this is because I am incredibly authentic, but I think it is because that is all I can produce at this time.

Run upstairs with my computer, start boiling water again. Plug my computer into my TV for a proper listen (this is my sound system these days). Mr. G has begun fake crying by this point. All moms know the difference between fake and real crying. Believe me. Get Mr. L and Mr. G up from their nap. The boys say, "Mama's singing," and settle into the couch for a listen, the crying had stopped as soon as I opened their door. We soon switch to kid tunes on Youtube and dance around to Jingle Bells. Mr. L asks for suckers (like he does almost every day) and I am feeling generous and happy that it is Friday, so I oblige. We pose for some silly photos, and then I remember that I am supposed to be making dinner.

20 minutes in my life. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Have a listen.

Ave Maria

P.S. I wrote this post while hiding in my bedroom with the lights off so that my kids would not know where I was...
P.P.S. I burned the casserole.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

My favourite things about Christmas are, feeling cosy with loved ones, the music, the food, and the decorations (lights!). Definitely in that order. I do randomly listen to Christmas music throughout the year, but now that it is December, I feel like it is socially acceptable to share some of my favourite selections. Please let me know what holiday music you are enjoying in the comments, I love exploring new music!

Click below to listen to my handy Youtube playlist. I hope you enjoy! 

1. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, as sung by Judy Garland in one of my favourite movies, Meet Me In St. Louis. I love that it feels melancholy and comfy at the same time. I tend to love the sad Christmas songs, as you will see. 

2. Sister Winter, by Sufjan Stevens. This song got me through an entire winter while Husband was away as a co-op student for 8 months and it was just me and my cat enjoying winter in Fredericton. I particularly enjoy the joyous ending, it gets me out of a blue mood every time I listen!

3. River, by Joni Mitchell. Another melancholy favourite. Life is not always rosy, and I think it would lose some of it's beauty if it were. There is beauty and depth in sadness, and in this song.

4. Jingle Bells, as sung by Ella Fitzgerald. A happy song to dance to while you bake Christmas cookies! "I'm just crazy 'bout horses" and Ella's voice!

5. Snow, by Loreena McKennitt. Growing up, we listened to a lot of Loreena McKennitt, I grew to love her music and celtic music at a young age. When there is snow on the ground, the world feels quiet and still and I find myself wanting to listen to celtic sounds.

6. Oh Holy Night, as sung by Placido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti. Those voices!! I think that the voice of a young Pavarotti is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. 

7. Somewhere in my Memory, by John Williams. What can I say? I grew up in the 90s. Home Alone is one of my favourite holiday movies. I can still hear my dad laughing as those bumbling burglars get their comeuppance!

8. What are you Doing New Year's Eve, as sung by Rufus Wainwright. I love Rufus. I have seen him live twice, he is fabulous. I love his easy power and subtle yet poignant emotion.

9. Gesu Bambino, as sung by Kathleen Battle and Frederica Von Staade. Two of my vocal idols on one stage, singing one of my favourite songs to sing. With a boys choir. Perfection.

10. Let it Snow, as sung by Michael Buble. This man's voice is butter, and he knows how to use it! I love his Christmas album. Happy happy Christmas cheese. 

11. Song for a Winter's Night, as sung by Sarah McLachlan. Possibly my favourite Sarah recording (and if you know me, this is a big deal). A beautiful song written by Gordon Lightfoot, recorded in breathtaking vocal layering magic. 

12. White Christmas, as sung by Bing Crosby. An original, a classic, and something I wish for every Christmas. I love snow!!

13. Happy Xmas/War is Over, by John Lennon. One of the best sad Christmas songs. Lyrics that are poignant and relevant (sadly). 

14. Aspenglow, by John Denver. Christmas memories of my parents house. Love this melody.

15. That's Christmas to Me, by Pentatonix. A new favourite! Such lovely lyrics and harmony. Warm Christmas feelings.

16. Christmas Time Is Here, Vince Guaraldi Trio. Honestly, I wanted to put the entire album. This is my go to holiday soundtrack. The sparse jazz stylings, the slightly out of tune choir, so charming! 

Merry Christmas!

Hours after writing this list, I remembered that I love Snowman by the Barenaked Ladies. Add that to my list of melancholy carols. I also realized that I am probably going to be continually be thinking of Christmas songs that I love... so the list may continue growing for my own enjoyment. Stay tuned! I am a Christmas music maniac!