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A long time ago in Copenhagan, I walked out on my husband.

We were young, and hadn’t been married more than a couple years. We were traveling with his best friend, and I don’t need to bore you with the details. Suffice it to say, I was insecure, he was insensitive, and I felt angry and desperate. So I said some things I don’t remember in our little hotel room and stalked out, not sure where I was going or if I would come back.

I made it to the lobby, where I sat with a book and waited while I imagined him imagining the worst.

The next thing I can remember is the three of us – Nathan, Chris and me – happily sharing a pizza at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant walking distance from our hotel.

That wasn’t the first or the last huge fight we had, but it’s one of few moments that stands out for both of us as larger than life, a bold dot on our timeline where everything could have gone very differently.

Marriage is one of the absolute most difficult endeavors any soul can undertake. Parenting is another, and it compounds every stress fracture in a marriage. Somehow, through grit and grace and multiple layers of privilege and support (I connect with so much of what Mrs. Frugalwoods wrote about her own privilege in this post), Nathan and I have arrived at yet another yearly celebration of our wedding, now eighteen years ago.

It takes two to keep a relationship alive, two people who choose one another over and over again, and I am grateful that through a constellation of factors much larger than my wisdom, I ended up with Nathan, who continues to choose me, just as I continue choosing him.

Here’s my song for week 17 of #songaweek2016:

 

 

Every Single Star

Stars are glowing mysteries. Science and wonder collide in those incomprehensibly giant and mind-bogglingly ancient balls of fire that appear to little you and little me as tiny points of light.

They are countless. There are more stars than humans who have ever lived. A quick Google search tells me there are maybe “1 billion trillion” or “100 octillion” stars in the observable universe.

So it seems both fitting and misguided to me that we call people who have set themselves apart, people who dazzle us from dizzying heights, stars. If you can somehow distinguish yourself from the masses around you, maybe you too can rise and become a star.

Why are stars so remarkable when there are so very many of them, each shining its light out all through the universe? For all of human existence, we’ve been staring up at stars on clear nights, lost in wonder, drawn far beyond ourselves or deep within ourselves, like our parents and grandparents and distant ancestors long before us.

But you are remarkable too. And so am I. And our neighbors, and coworkers, and everybody who calls and tries to sell us something, and all the old people sitting in the assisted living place down the street. Every politician, every middle-schooler, every complaining customer and annoying coworker, every single life.

So be you, you bright star. Shine on.

And rest in peace, Prince.

The song I wrote for week 16 of #songaweek2016 has something to do with the above thoughts, but it’s still not all untangled for me. See what you can make of it:

 

Pretty Baby

I wasn’t planning on having children. Actually, I was planning on not having children. Until my now-firstborn, now-twelve-year-old, first made herself known. That extra pink line on the plastic strip might as well have been an angel, and I would have benefited from the routine angelic greeting, “do not be afraid.” I admit I cried myself to sleep that night, but it seems I always take a night to freak out before changing my plans in any major way. Sometimes even the sweetest surprises are first met with salty tears.

And now, we are two-thirds of the way to that tiny baby’s high school graduation.

Week 15 of #songaweek2016 included an extra challenge, to write a song in the form of a recipe. I already felt like writing a song about my daughter, so I found a way to squeeze it into recipe form too.

Take a smidgen of him and a dash of me
Bake for nine months at ninety-eight point six degrees
Then when my body feels like it’s about to break
It’s time to open up and meet my babycake

Pretty baby pretty baby with her daddy’s eyes
Pretty baby pretty baby mama’s sweetest surprise

Give liberal breastfuls of milk to my sugar and spice
Try not to scream the first time she bites
Blend up some squash and put it on a teaspoon
Pretend it’s on a mission and she’s the moon

Pretty baby pretty baby with her daddy’s eyes
Pretty baby pretty baby mama’s sweetest surprise

In a medium class combine her with twenty kids
Sift through all her papers and art projects
Roll out chores and charts so she gets her work done
But ditch the cookie cutters, let her make her own fun

Pretty baby pretty baby with her daddy’s eyes
Pretty baby pretty baby mama’s sweetest surprise

Sometimes my little sweet gets a little saucy
Sometimes she flames up like bananas foster
Then I let her settle

Let her sweetness age, let her take her time
Gotta wait patiently for the finest wine
Then however she decides to pour herself out
She’ll outsparkle all I’ve dreamed about

Pretty baby pretty baby with her daddy’s eyes
Pretty baby pretty baby mama’s sweetest surprise

 

When the Music

For week 14 of #songaweek2016, an extra challenge was thrown out to anyone who wanted to try it – use three particular words in the song. Those who wanted to participate sent a word of their choice to one person, who then wrote all those words on a sheet of paper, cut it up, put the words in a hat, and chose three at random. And the winning words were:

Valparaiso
Socks
Moxy

I wrote this song very much stream-of-consciousness with those three words in mind. Except the last verse, which was inspired by a motorcycle ride and a weekend road trip with my love. Who, by the way, came up with some pretty fine bass and guitar additions, as well as pulling together a tasty drum track from our Studio One software.

As always, there is lots of great listening for you at the songaweek2016 website, and you might especially enjoy hearing all the different songs that came out of the 3-word challenge in Week 14. I haven’t finished listening through the list yet but from what I can tell so far, challenge-accepters were Jen Bluhm, Phil Cowan, Anielle Reid, Deborah Kelly, and James Tristan Redding. So fun to hear the different directions people took it.

For all I know he’s in Valparaiso
kissing some other girl
for all he cares I could be standing there
it wouldn’t even faze him

That’s when the music comes to me
That’s how the music sets me free

Would you eat it with a fox in socks?
Take a brave new bite
Chase it down with moxy on the rocks
It’s a bold concoction

That’s when the music comes to you
That’s how the music feels brand new

Honey take me back to Loveland
on your motorcycle
With the Badlands in our mirrors
we’re alright for now

That’s when the music comes alive
That’s how the music feels inside

 

 

Packing it Up

For Week 13 of #songaweek2016, I was short on time and ideas, because we were packing up for a weekend road trip. Since the one thing I really did need to finish writing was my packing list, I decided to make that my song for the week. Nathan had fun sitting in and making a few extra sounds.

 

Ring All the Bells

Week 12 of #songaweek2016 already! I did a rough a cappella song this time, especially for Easter:

We sprang forward last week. Because that’s what we do. I wrote this song on a gorgeous warm day, and recorded it on a snowy cold one. Ah, March.

Anyhoo, here it is, my song for week 11 of #songaweek2016.

the light and the birds are coming back

kids and the dog rolling in the grass

guess we’re happy here for another year

eggs in the coop laundry on the line

a fine-looking man who’s mine all mine

I’m a satisfied one for another month

tuck an hour away

get it back someday

pizzas in the oven, beer in the fridge

we’ll take a Friday night flight in the TARDIS

sweet sigh of relief for another week

the outside’s breezing through the house

blue sky getting scrubbed with fluffy clouds

think we’ll be okay for another day

tuck an hour away

get it back someday

marching, marching,

time keeps marching on

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