THE trip

I better make myself write about our last trip before the next one.

The travel log thing? Yeah… kind of another lesson in defeat for me. I have so much to say… so many observations and emotions and jokes and puns (I know… sad, isn’t it?). But first, the story about Steven Curtis Chapman’s daughter totally took the wind out of me. It may sound crazy because it’s not like we’re friends of the family or anything… it just hit. It still does.

And then there is the chaos of the road. This was Paige’s first trip with us, and we still have some kinks to work out there. I feel a little torn apart on these trips, because Rod and I both want me to be a part of what he is doing, but there is only so much I can do while caring for the kids. Miranda is no longer at an age at which she can sit and/or be quiet for too long, and concerts are one thing, but the studio is another. Thankfully, Paige decided she was more interested in watching DVDs on the bus than being in the studio, so Kaity and I were able to hang with Rod the whole time. The vocals process is amazing to me…

MY vocals process was somewhat less than amazing. I am a choir singer, a singer by ear, a karaoke singer. I can hold my own, and once I learn something, I know it forever. That’s part of the problem. I learned my four lines for one of Rod’s songs, singing a backup alto part. But once in the studio, we had to change it a little… and one of the phrases that changed, I JUST COULD NOT GET. It became only TWO NOTES… three words, down-up-down. And it was like asking me to sing an aria in high C. I just could not get it. It was so humiliating. After we were done and it all sounded good, it was funny, but unfortunately, I was too anxious and embarrassed to enjoy my little time in the studio. I hope I will get a chance again someday because what I learned the next day was that…

Background vocals are hard even for seasoned harmony singers. In the studio, everything has to be perfect. Period. So, the second day in the studio, with our lovely friends Bobby and Sharona of the Jay Stone Singers, was kind of crazy and long. All I did was observe, take care of Kaity, and provide sarcasm. Yes… I bring the fun, people. I was all prepared to include some sarcastic moments, but I think they will be lost in translation…

We had a nice dinner with everyone Friday night, but quite frankly, two quick days in Nashville (actually Goodlettsville) and one quick day with Bobby and Sharona is just not enough. And the ride home Saturday was sooooooooo long, compounded by the fact that we had to stop and shop for Paige’s graduation dress. Shopping with the darling eldest daughter is always a challenge. She doesn’t like anything yet does not know what she wants. Thankfully, we did find something that is perfectly Paige… sort of a bohemian look… and I have pictures to post, you know, soon. My goodness, I am old. Oh, and sorry to Jen and to Mom who read this, but the Goodlettsville thing… I can’t wait to move there. I love it there, and we’re so sick of it here. It was 40 degrees Tuesday, for crying out loud. I want greenness and kind folks and open spaces and sweet tea. I really have been so blessed to grow up near Chicago and experience the culture there, but the culture here, in the south suburbs of it, is not where I want my kids to grow up. So :(

Let’s move on to pictures, shall we? (more…)

grr and arg

My ebay account was hacked and used to list microphones. Huh?

*Obviously, I don’t need this right now. Obviously, I had no time to do my planned travel log. Why are people such idiots?

That said, in general, way general, the studio sessions were fun and exciting and Rod is going to have an AWESOME new CD this summer. Yay!

Travel Log 1

(… in attempt to document as much of our current trip as possible. It’s an experiment).

– Within 30 minutes of leaving home, all 3 girls fell asleep. They all woke up at the same time, too. Is that a sister thing?

– For the first time, I got out at the Flying J truck stop. Wow. Truck stop stores ROCK! They have everything. And apparently a chick who holds the door open for a trucker is an appreciated thing. (Or it could be that I look incredibly hot with my 20 leftover baby pounds and in my jeans and UK T-shirt. Well, at least my hair and skin look fabo, but I sort of doubt he was noticing that. Only my girlfriends notice that!). Just saw a trucker walk past with a 64 (yes, SIXTY FOUR) ounce COFFEE CUP! I wonder if he is catheterized, because, seriously… the pee!

– Pumping diesel makes Rod smell a little dirty (but I love you, honey!)

– People who zip right in front of very long vehicles (ie, our bus) are idiots.

Top 10 Child Rearing Discovers that I’d Rather Child Welfare Not Know I Made…

What an awkward title that is…

OK. Most of these were painfully discovered whilst on the road…

10. The record label president will not notice the babies’ cute matching “You Are My Sunshine” shirts. He will, however, probably notice the poopy smell in the studio from the diaper sitting on the couch, the sticky apple juice remnants and toys overtaking the floor, and the temper tantrum thrown during the second chorus. Just an FYI.

9. Painting a toddler’s toenails for the first time is not a good idea while in motion (say, in the back of a bus), or while on a bedspread rather than a TARP, or while said toddler is conscious.

8. Letting a toddler play with a heavy camera to keep her quiet during a concert may result in toddler hitting self in head with… heavy camera.

7. Nearly any toddler emergency can be solved with a bottle of milk, a fistful of crackers, and/or an Elmo in Grouchland DVD.

6. And wet wipes.

5. The Eufala, AL Wal-mart does not have organic milk. Toddler will be exposed to growth hormones when drinking Wal-mart milk at this location.

4. When it’s a toss up between having the two month old bask in the southern sun or using the sunscreen without consulting a physician (as label suggests for those under six months), opt for the latter. (I did… no sunburn on my infant. No sirree!)

3. Southern Gospel music fans/Pentecostal ladies not only desire to help mommies with ‘two under two’ who are married to the singer, they insist upon it. Thank you once again to Pat, Donna, and Lenelle (and yuppy moms, please don’t freak that I let strangers hold my babies. I don’t really get a choice. Remember Weezer in Steel Magnolias??)

2. Going down a steep ramp, in heels, pushing the two under two in the double stroller is… um… adventurous.

1. When seasoned correctly, toddler is well comforted by the presence of Brandon, Dylan, Donna, & Kelly. Yay for Gen X parents everywhere!

5 DAY BUS TRIP: day four

Notes: I won’t make up to day three. Let your mind wander…

I sent a random text to some friends today. It said simply, “Sometimes, a little 80s music is all that gets me through. George Michael was my little helper today.”

Once again singing the slick and styling and very relevant ’80s tunes and dancing with Miranda was a little bright spot in a steeeee-ressful day. Today’s stress was specifically brought on by several factors:

1) Rod and I got less than 4 hours sleep last night. Ugh.

2) The bus & its tenants, after 5 days on the road and all the… waste?… that come along with such, are now a bit… grimy. (Must. Buy. Swiffer WetJet).

3) There was yet ANOTHER large milk mishap today (though it was after the “Kissing a Fool” stress relief, and at LEAST this time it was not organic milk. Thanks a lot, stupid non-Super Wal-mart).

4) Today was the studio day, and I am a studio rat. The music tracks were recorded today (and BTW… they were great, ‘specially the steel). Rod essentially is there to go over the arrangements and sing along. His vocals won’t be recorded until next month, and that’s when my special brand of encouragement is more… well, if not necessary, than at least somewhat important. Basically, I don’t need to be there for this. But, I am, admittedly, entranced by the whole process. I love hearing the demos in all their bareness and cheesiness, then watching all the studio musicians (who are seriously talented people. I don’t know how they do what they do…) set up, listen to a song once, look at a bunch of numbers, and then produce a perfect piece of music in a few takes. I love how little bits get rerecorded and seamlessly pasted in. I love the technology the engineer uses to accomplish all this and more, and I love watching the session leader have light bulbs go off and then execute the ideas. I love watching Rod in his little booth and yes, narcissistic as I am, I love when I suggest something and he does it :) It’s such a fun process, and it’s not at all my thing (though I may finagle myself into a BGV or two on this CD… that’s “background vocals” for those of you not privy to the biz), so I feel so lucky to be a part of it. BUT… it’s hard for me to do while caring for them thar youngin’s… and that’s where the stress comes in. Loong day short: Miranda wasn’t too destructive, the engineer was very adept at tuning out the moments when she was destructive, and I got to witness the creation of 7 out of 10 tracks. Granted, this experience also involved some very un-yuppy-mommy moments, such as taking water from Miranda’s bottle to mix formula for Kaity’s and letting Miranda play with my two month old, still undamaged cell phone (honestly? I would have let her EAT the phone if it meant I could listen in…) Anyway, I worry so much about being a distraction or a hindrance, but it all worked out in the end.

It’s just that in the end, I am exhausted! So, thank you post-Wham! George, friendly studio guys, sweet quiet Kaity, mostly not-beastly and often super charming Miranda, and of course, cool rock star husband, for allowing me a few hours to live out my “This is what it felt like to be June Carter Cash*” kind of dreams. (*Yes, June… not Faith Hill… because I don’t believe June used a nanny, though if she was anything like I am, she might have considered infant Tylenol or… a harness…)