Friday, December 31, 2010

When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky. Buddha

Reflecting on this past year brings me a sense of both satisfaction and unease.  I am satisfied with things that I have accomplished and things that my family has accomplished, and also I am starting to feel a familiar flutter of panic at all of the things that lie ahead.  All of things that I have left undone, only to try to "wrap up" in the coming year.   I guess I have always been like this.  Never truly able to sit and appreciate what has been once a struggle and a challenge and a problem keeping me up at night, to now being ordinary and "perfect."

A resolution of mine is to realize how perfect everything is. There is good in everything.  There is purpose in all of it.  There is laughter.  There is love.  

For today, I am choosing to be satisfied with it all.  It won't be easy.  I will only try to allow positive thoughts to enter my head and I will strive to be truly present with my family for the entire day.  We are heading into the city to go ice skating and then coming home to watch the ball drop.  There will be struggles.  Kids will be crabby and hungry and not able to stand up on the ice and my back will break.  It will probably be crowded and we will have to wait in line and we will spend too much money.  I will be tested and have to bite my tongue more than once, I am sure.  I will also laugh a lot today.

And, I am so grateful that I have my family with me to do this.  They crack me up.  They amaze me.  They complete me and make me feel whole.   For this, I am pretty fortunate.  There is no measure of money that can compare to this amount of satisfaction.  So, here we go.... time to tilt my head back.  
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Emma Project - Helping To Get Music into PS 230 in Brooklyn, NY

Do you ever wonder if small things really make a difference?   This past fall, I asked some fellow children's musicians to do something that would make a HUGE difference in the lives of many, many children in one elementary school in Brooklyn, NY.

Soon after the start of the school year, I was having a conversation with Emma about her new first grade class.  I asked the usual questions, "Do you like your new teacher? Who are some of your new friends this year?," and "Do you like your music class?"

"No," she said, casually.  "We don't have music this year."

 Shock and panic.

"Are you sure, Honey?" "Maybe you just haven't started it yet?" I said, hopefully.

"No," she said.  "My teacher said we only have art.  No music and no dance this year."

She was right.  Soon after this conversation,  I got an email from the PS 230 PTA saying that they have had enormous budget cuts to their programs in the amount of $500, 000.  FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!

I started to plan out how I could get into the school and play music for them as much as possible, and thought that if they could just play my CD's during school hours, the kids could at least get up and move for a few minutes during the day.  I could also use some music from my previous band, Imagination Workshop Band.  Then I had an idea.  I would see if I could get some of my fellow kids' musicians to donate a song and I would make a mix CD for Emma's teacher that she could share with the rest of the first grade classes. I asked Dave what he thought?  He thought it was a good idea, and hey, what did we have to lose?

So I went on Sprockster and sent a message out to everyone on my friend list which basically told them that my daughter Emma's school had huge budget cuts, no music, no dance, and would they please donate a song for a mix CD?   I also reached out to a few personal friends via email.  I was hoping for about 10 people to donate a song or two. 

About 30 minutes later, I got my first response from my friend Mike Messer of The Dirty Sock Funtime Band.

"Hey Suzi! Hows it going? We'd love to contribute to the CD, we have a bunch of dance songs, we'll send them all to you... I just wanna talk with the band and see which songs would be best. Talk to you soon!"  Peace, Love and Music, Mike Messer and the Dirty Sock Funtime Band

I was so happy.  I yelled to Dave from my computer that I got my first response already, and it was from one of Emma's favorite bands.  She would be so excited.  

Then, I got a similar message from three other artists in a row.  Then I got about 10 more, and my blackberry kept making that weird buzzing noise the whole night, and every single day for about a month I got more and more responses and songs coming in for Emma's school that my mix CD turned into a 4 disc box set with over 79 submissions!  Amazing.  I could barely keep track of them all.  In addition to the songs, I was connecting with so many people who were sympathetic to our situation and incredibly supportive of the project.   I loved it.

I recruited both Emma and Sebastian to help me weed through all of the songs, and we chose at least one song from each artist.  It wasn't easy, there were so many great choices!  We then arranged the songs according to style on 4 separate discs so that the teachers would have an easier time selecting.  This process took quite a while.  The kids loved hearing all of the songs, and so did I.  It was a pretty awesome day.



Emma would periodically ask, "They gave these songs to me, Mama?"

"Yes, Emma, they did.  They gave them to you and all of your friends at school."

I had also received an email from Jon Samson at CoCreative Music donating a few of his songs and offering his engineering services to normalize all of the songs so that they are all heard at a similar volume.  I told him there were over 70 songs... did he realize what he was getting into?  Nevertheless, he agreed.  We are still in the process of doing this and it is a real treat to work with him.   Jon told me in an email,  "These are also the most terrific kids songs I've heard!" 

I totally agree.

I had hoped to present the CD package by Thanksgiving, but due to some time restraints, I have decided to wait until this month.  I can't wait until this project, which I fondly call "The Emma Project" can be officially presented to her class.  What better time then this holiday season?

I am truly humbled by this outpouring of support and generosity, and look forward to hearing feedback from the students and teachers of Emma's school once these amazing songs start circulating around the classrooms.

To my fellow musicians, I thank you.  By doing something small and donating just a single song, you have given us over 3.4 hours of music for these kids to sing and dance their hearts out in the New Year!

I wanted to share the list of all of the artists (in alphabetical order) who donated to this project, along with links to their websites.  Please check them out, and help support their awesome music for kids (and grownups) as we are.  Happy Holidays!
Love,
Suzi ;)















Sunday, October 3, 2010

To Be Only Who You Are

A couple of weeks ago, continuing on my quest of Super Momdom, I decided to do something positive for myself to gear up for a busy fall of Momhood and this Fall Tour that I am starting.   I treated myself to a weekend-long meditation.  I left the kids in the capable hands of their Dads, and headed into my journey.  I'll admit, I was nervous.  Having some time to myself is a luxury, but also having too much time to think can be a bit scary.  I found myself immersed in thoughts of self doubt and frustration, only to release and discover that my life was going just the way it was supposed to go, and all was well.  I mean, who is in charge of my life anyway? Me.  And in all of my efforts to be the ultimate Super Mom, the best way for me to raise my kids in a positive way AND to have a successful marriage and career is to be only who I am. Only who I am.  
It is not easy for me.  It takes a lot of work and a lot of patience with myself to be able to be this open about life, but it is really the only way.  And I believe.
I recently saw the interview between Oprah and J.K. Rowling (the creator and author of The Harry Potter Series) and I must say that I was riveted.  Joe (J.K) was so articulate and honest about her journey and it was really great for me to hear her story.  She struggled first with depression as a single Mom and then struggled with many obstacles to get her first Harry Potter book published with the right people (the ones who believed as she did that her story could change the world).  And it worked.  She believed.  Her persistence and commitment to be herself was so strong that she sold over 400 million books in 200 countries around the world.  At the end of her interview, Oprah asked her "what does she know for sure?"  Joe thought about it and said she knows that "love is THE most powerful thing of all." And then Oprah asked her "what was her dream of happiness?"  She said according to the first Harry Potter, Dumbledore says "The happiest man alive would look in the mirror and see himself exactly as he is." And then she said "So I would have to say that I'm pretty close."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

To Be A Super Mom

Well, both kids are back in school and although my summer mantra has been "I just need some alone time!", I must admit that I am a little bit blue. I have a pile of work that needs to get done, and even more laundry, but I seem a bit paralyzed at the moment to do anything.
Motherhood is a funny thing. It's like a runaway train. You can't stop it from going full speed ahead. There is no time to rest.
This past year I found myself totally exhausted. My temper was short and I had raised my voice way too many times to make my point. This is not the Mom that I want to be to my kids. Too often I didn't stop to appreciate what my kids were saying or doing and now I can't get those moments back. Seeing them go off to school this week, I realize that I better take the time to appreciate it, or it will fly away from me faster than I can blink an eye.
I adore my kids. They give me so much joy. There are times when I find myself laughing out loud at something they said or did days ago. They are six years apart and both have amazing qualities (and some not so great, but that's another blog).
I have always wanted to be a Mom, but the truth is that I desperately want to be a Super Mom.
I remember seeing an episode of Oprah where they talked about parenting being the toughest job on the planet. I agree. It's also the most rewarding job. They also were talking about the importance of taking care of yourself so that you can give the best of yourself as a parent. In this, I also agree, but it's easy to forget.

Working Moms don't have it easy. There is so much to juggle and too much work to be done in a short amount of time. However, it CAN be done.
The first step in Super Momdom is to take care of oneself.
For me, it means making the time to meditate and go to Yoga. Getting organized. Being creative. Being smart with my career. Eating better. Sleeping more and laughing. A lot.
So, let's just sit for a minute more, and then get started already! Now, where is that cape?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not all women can say that they vacation with their ex's...

Not all women can say that they vacation with their ex's... But, I just got back from a week long work/vacation in Sag Harbor, NY with mine. I went with Albert (my ex) and the three kids, as he was performing with me. Jen (his wife) came a day later, and then Dave (my husband) came the final two days. We all stayed with Liz, a good friend of Albert's, who is an amazing puppeteer and an overall super fun person. Liz has a nice big house for us. This is our third year in a row making this trip.

I would love to say that it was an easy, breezy time, but honestly it's always a bit of a challenge for us all to get along at every waking moment. It was a lot of WORK. Everyone has so many needs. To eat, to sleep (and get enough of it), to go to the beach, to shower, to have down time, to drink, to entertain, to not entertain, to nap, to eat again, and to just "be." Albert and I also had to rehearse for the 5 performances and music video thrown into the mix.

Fortunately, Liz has a lot of land around her house, and a lot of animals. 1 dog, 1 cat and 4 chickens to be exact. I am not really an "animal lover", but Emma was in heaven as the nature girl that she is, and for the most part, was pretty easy to handle. Sebastian did OK, too, even though he has allergies to the animals, had summer homework to finish, and had to deal with so many parents under one roof telling him what to do and what is "expected" of a 12 year old.
Cole is three years old and was a combination of deliciously adorable and, well...not so much.
Anyway, I thought I would share a few moments that really stand out for me on this trip:
1. After a particularly awful show, Sebastian said that he thought the show was "great!"
2. One evening Albert, Liz, Jen and I were outside having some cocktails and Jen told me she thought I was one of the most beautiful women she knows.
3. Emma hypnotizing a real chicken and cradling it like it were her own baby.
4. Emma secretly leaving a post it note on my guitar backstage that said "i love you."
5. Dave throwing Emma up in the sky while in the waves of the ocean and turning around to make sure that I was watching the sheer joy on her face.
6. Albert and his puppet "Raul" as he tried out all sorts of personalities (some not so appropriate for a kids show), and watching Sebastian rolling on the ground cracking up.
7. Sitting in the back of Liz's truck on the way to the beach with music blasting and everyone laughing as Albert broke the beach chair.
8. Cole holding the bottle opener all evening and asking everyone if they were ready for another beer?
9. Waking up in the middle of the night thinking that Cole or Emma was crying out and finding out it was only a chicken squawking outside.
10. Riding with Liz in her truck on the way to a show, laughing, and feeling like she is part of our family.

It was a great trip. Exhausting, but great. Anyway, here is the music video that came out of it. Dave is the master videographer. Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Singing with Liz Mitchell and Daniel Littleton

Yesterday reminded me of why I love doing kids music.

Two of my friends, Brady Rymer and Elizabeth Mitchell, were performing at Celebrate Brooklyn. It was the family show that they only have on
ce a summer, on a big, beautiful outdoor stage. I was invited by Liz and her husband Daniel to sing on "Little Bird, Little Bird." This was a great opportunity for me as I have always wanted to sing in that bandshell, and I knew a lot of my friends would be there. I also love the song.

Dave, Emma and I walked over to the park early, and were easily led backstage where we found Liz in her dressing room. It was great to see her again (we performed together back in May for a Haiti Benefit Concert), and she showed us the green room where Emma happily chowed down on all of the cookies and blueberries that she could get into her mouth before they went and took their seats in the audience.

I went looking for Brady and found him in his dressing room, as well as Claudia and Liz, his two beautiful
backup singers and musicians. I have known Brady since Sebastian was about 3 years old. It was good to connect and catch up. He has an amazing aura of positive energy, and I love that. Plus, his music is so much fun and I was eager to hear them play.

Soon, it was time to go over our song, which we did quietly in the dressing room, and then it was showtime. As I waited backstage to be called out for my song, I marveled at the way Liz's voice carried throughout the crowd and how calming and beautiful it was. She and Daniel have a wonderful connection (to the band, to the audience, and to eachother). So many people had gathered to hear them. The sky was blue and the sun was just right. The audience was mesmerized. I was mesmerized.
I saw Dave and Emma in the crowd, and I was so happy to be doing this. I went out, sang my part (bird call and all) and soon, it was over. It was a beautiful day.


Friday, August 6, 2010

Balance? Mom vs. Summer with her Daughter


Lately I have felt really out of sorts. I feel tired, I feel restless, and overall, in a bad mood. I know that this hot weather is not helping matters, but just a few days ago, I discovered the problem. I have lost my balance. I have zero balance this summer. Why? I have no child care for my soon to be six year old daughter.

I have tried to embrace the fact that Emma is not in any sort of camp and instead we enrolled her in "mommy camp", where she gets to share in the joys of schlepping around with me to work three mornings a week, along with my guitar, big heavy bag, shakers, and sometimes even a parachute, and we get to save a thousand dollars. Then there are my shows. She is dragged around too early in the morning, usually eating breakfast on the way, only to share me with lots and lots of little kids and their grown ups. Not exactly what she would call the best summer of her life. Or would she?

Emma loves to be with me. She is always concerned about where I am and what I am doing and what I am working on on the computer, and is it her turn to "work" on the computer yet? We are attached at the hip. We do everything together, from grocery shopping to laundry to getting pedicures to dressing her new American Girl Doll, we are a team. This is truly a wonderful time in our lives. I should embrace this time. I should rejoice in the beauty of our girlness. And I do. For the most part.

It's that other part that is driving me crazy. The part that can't breathe and needs to walk at a regular pace for five minutes please. The part of me that needs to go to Yoga once a week and to meditate in the mornings and the part of me that needs so badly to just sit in peace and quiet in the evenings and can't stop looking at the clock until Daddy gets home. Dave tries to help me out, but he is focused on his "backyard project" at the moment, and this is what consumes his after work hours...

Last week, I got a break. Albert offered to take Emma and Sebastian to see a movie. It was heaven. I had 2 hours to myself and I got an amazing amount of work done. Then, two nights later, they went and saw another movie. I went to my usual Wednesday night Yoga class without the usual guilt. It was great. The kids came home happy, and I came home refreshed. Tonight, though, really takes the cake. I actually feel as if I am on vacation. Sebastian has a friend over. They have been happily playing Wii for the past 2+ hours (ok, it IS summer vacation after all), and have "allowed" Emma to watch. I have not heard a peep out of her except for the laughs and cries of approval of great gaming, or the occasional cry for food or drink. It's been lovely. It's been heaven. This is the balance I have been looking for! I feel like myself again. If we could just implement this routine every night for the rest of the summer until school starts again...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Karate Girl Makes Us Proud

Emma has taken up Karate.

This activity was not initiated by me, but rather by Dave. He thought that since Emma has this amazing amount of energy (cough, cough), that this would be a good way for her to channel it in a more positive way. So, far, it seems to be working. At least while she is in the dojo.

Last Friday, she had a graduation from her white belt to a white and yellow belt. I was so glad that Sebastian was back, and we took both him and Cole with us, and made a huge deal about it. Emma was pretty excited. She could barely sit still in the car. When we got there, she took off her shoes and sat down in front of the class, like the rest of the kids. We sat in the seats. Last year, I don't think she could have done this. Sat by herself, I mean.

When it was her turn, her Sensei called the class to attention and she yelled "Yes Sensei!" There was a little smile on her face, but she was attentive. Cole was at attention, too. He seemed pretty impressed.

They showed us an entire class, and also encouraged the parents to sit right up on the mats with them and to take pictures. I was worried that Emma wouldn't want to do what she was supposed to while we were oogling over her, but she did it all. She stretched, she kicked, she punched, and she sat like a champion the whole time.

I could see the sense of accomplishment on her face, and her excitement when her name was called and she received her new belt. She had to run in front of everyone and accept it and bow. I had tears in my eyes. I looked at Sebastian. I looked at Dave. Our girl is really growing up. We couldn't have been prouder.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sebastian Comes Home Tomorrow

So, after nearly 3 weeks, my 12 year old is coming home! He's been in Peru with Albert, Jen and Cole and I have only gotten to skype with him once. I must admit, I had mixed feelings about this trip. On the one hand, I truly wanted him to go with his Dad and experience the place where Albert was born and raised for the the first 6 years of his life, but on the other hand, I wanted to experience it with them.

The joys of having a blended family that gets along far outweigh the negative, but one of the big challenges for me has always been that Sebastian leads this whole other life. One of which I am not a part of. It was a lot harder at 3 years old to send him to Albert's house three times a week than it is today, but sending him all the way to Peru for three weeks was not really a cakewalk for me. If something would happen, there would be no way for me to get there quickly.

In addition, I will be hearing all of their adventures second hand, and probably with a lot less enthusiasm than at the time he was experiencing them as most likely Sebastian will just want to relax and not "over exert" himself by retelling amazing stories. Oh well.

I will still wait with eager anticipation for them to come home and I truly can't wait to give both Sebastian and Cole huge hugs. Thank God Sebastian still let's me hug and kiss him. For a 12 year old kid, he is pretty amazing in that way. Plus, having Emma to myself these past weeks, while being wonderful, has been quite exhausting! She really misses her brothers and relies on them to keep her entertained. As do we! Hurry home already!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Couple Time

One of the benefits of doing what I do is being able to have great experiences like the one I had last weekend in DC.

This weekend was planned way in advance, with Dave and I deciding that we would do this last part of the spring tour ourselves – without the kids. (Sort of funny for someone who does kids shows, but hey... we all need a break from parenthood sometimes).


The week leading up to it was long and we were tired, and even though we were tempted to throw the kids in the car at the last minute, we stuck to our plan and left them with Albert and Jen on Saturday morning. After one small frustrating detour around Brooklyn before getting on the right highway, we actually started to relax into the trip. As per our usual, we starting talking about the kids, but then slowly we started talking about our goals and what we really wanted to do with our lives. We are both trying to pursue careers that we believe in, and it's not always that easy for either of us to keep doing this. The best part is that both of us still truly believe in each other. Our lives are always on "over dive," and so sometimes we forget.


We arrived at our hotel in DC, promptly switched rooms to one with a working AC, and got ready to go out. Our evening was spent window shopping in fancy furniture stores, dining in a lovely Spanish fusion restaurant, and simply enjoying some quality couple time.


Our show the next day was held at the historic Sixth and I Synagogue for a family music series that they’re just beginning to develop. We were greeted by Meredith the curator of the event, who provided us with donuts, bagels and water bottles (such a bonus). Steve arrived a few minutes later, and soon it was time to play. I was opening for Alex and The Kaleidoscope Band, who’s music I was only vaguely familiar with, so I was curious to hear them play live. They were wonderful! Super-great beat and a nice eclectic sound. I had asked them to join us for our last two songs, “Goin on a Road Trip" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," and it was really fun for me and Steve to rock out with them.


As I was scanning the crowd, I noticed a bunch of familiar faces and an entire row of kids wearing my Suzimusic t-shirts! They were dancing and having a great time. What a wonderful feeling that never, ever gets old to me.


I also saw Dave smiling at me, taking pictures and talking with some people in the audience. I was so happy he was there with me. After the show, I was able to spend time with my little fans giving out stickers and hugs, while Dave packed up my gear for me.


Heading back to Brooklyn after the show, we were anxious to get back to the kids, but also we felt way more connected and ready to keep supporting each other on this journey we are taking. After all, that is what it's all about.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Day with The Butterflies

Emma loves nature. She is drawn to everything from dogs, cats and horses to flowers, insects and dirt. I have quite a ways to go in the nature department, but I am learning a lot through Emma's eyes. She definitely gets this from her Daddy. When Emma is around nature, her whole body slows down and time stands still to allow for the most enjoyment. Take butterflies, for example. Emma will automatically reach her hand out to hold them, then she will name them and ultimately, she will be "one" with them. It makes me proud to have such a nature lover as my daughter.
Here is a video of our day last February visiting the butterflies at the American Museum of Natural History (where conveniently, Dave also was doing some work).

video
You can also view this on and share it on my youtube page

Monday, March 15, 2010

Overcoming Sensory Integration Disorder with a Love of Horses


If you would have told me
two years ago
that I would be spending every Monday afternoon in a horse stable surrounded by dust and hay and well, horses, I would have told you that you were out of your mind. But, today was Monday, and that is exactly how I spent my afternoon...




"It’s Monday. You know what today is, don't you?" I ask Emma on the way to school. "Horses" she answers, with a little smile.



Emma rides horses not just for the sheer pleasure of it, but because she needs it. Riding

horses provides a very unique form of therapy for her called hippotherapy, and she has been riding for about a year now. To Emma, the idea of therapy is the farthest thing from her mind.



It is not always obvious, but Emma has a mild form of sensory integration disorder (also called sensory processing disorder) and therefore needs other outlets to receive proprioceptive input - feeling her body in space. She also has some low muscle tone in her hands and upper body. Riding horses helps her to keep her body upright, and holding the

reins is good for her hand strength. She is also able to follow directions more easily while in motion. And, it doesn't hurt that she is a fierce animal lover.



It wasn't easy to deal with this news when heard it from Emma's preschool teacher at age 3. When you hear anything about your kid that is out of the ordinary, you start to panic. My husband Dave and I had never even heard of Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), and now they were telling us that she will have to have an evaluation to see if she qualified for Early Intervention including occupational therapy and possibly physical therapy. Early Intervention? Our daughter?

Lying in bed that night, Dave and I went over in our heads how she could have gotten this in the first place? Whose fault was this? Of course I thought it was my fault. I didn't take her to enough art classes as a baby. I didn't eat healthy enough when I was pregnant. But we soon came to realize that it is just part of her and there really isn't one reason that anyone can pin-point as to why. We got every book that we could find having anything to do with sensory integration disorder. We were also told that she may grow out of it. She will always have some low muscle tone, but she will "probably" adjust to a lot of the sensory issues.


And you know what? It's true. Over the last 2 years she has grown up (or more appropriately), grown into herself. She has had OT and PT twice a week for the past year and a half, and we have added swimming and acrobatics in addition to her horseback riding. Almost every day after school, she has "something." We have to allow her to have more time to transition and/or get her energy out as often as possible. Many times after her bath, she just needs to jump on the bed for 10 minutes before she can even think about sitting down for books. I also have to remember to be very patient. It's not always easy...


I'll admit, taking Emma to her lessons is not my favorite thing to do. I don't like the smell of horses, and I am very allergic so the hay makes me sneeze and sometimes I feel as if I can't even breathe. In the winter the stable is so cold that I lose all feeling in my hands and can see my breath when I speak. The smell of horse pee is so strong that my eyes water and there have been times when I feel as if I will pass out. OK, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but you get the point. But when Emma rides, all of this doesn't really matter.


Because when Emma rides, she is happy. She is calm and centered. She doesn’t feel fidgety or out of bounds. She seems to have this connection to the horses that is pure and real and without fear. We found this amazing organization called Gallop, NYC and they provide this type of therapy for many other NYC families like us. Emma listens and does what she is told from her instructor Ben. She makes sure that we bring carrots or apples to feed the horses and she feels right at home in that stable. She knows the names of most of the horses and has a special horse named "Emma" that she brings an extra carrot for each week.


There was a time when sitting still was out of the question for Emma. Keeping her hands out of her mouth or off of someone else was almost impossible. We dreaded going to restaurants or public places where she was supposed to be quiet and still. In school she was often frustrated with group activities, writing, legos, puzzles and the littlest hand related tasks, and she often had a frown on her face. Now, Emma CAN control her body. She CAN hold the toothbrush to brush her own teeth. She CAN write her letters and numbers and hold a pencil the proper way. She CAN avoid stepping in slushy puddles (although she just chooses not to) :).


Our Emma has a true zest for life! She sings, dances, paints, draws, jumps, smiles, laughs and has the most amazing imagination. We're still learning how to best help her, and it still takes a lot of patience and understanding, but it seems like she is pretty happy with her little self, and that makes us feel like we are doing something right. I guess putting up with a little dust, hay and horse pee once a week is worth it after all...


Dave made a video of Emma riding in her first "horse show" last spring.




* Hippotherapy is a form of physical, occupational and speech therapy in which a therapist uses the characteristic movements of a horse to provide carefully graded sensory input .
*Gallop, NYC http://www.gallopnyc.org/ Donations accepted via their website.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Birthdays really are special

Usually for me, birthdays are bitter sweet. I always feel my age and I usually question my direction in life. Should I be doing this anymore? Am I making a difference? Mostly though, on my birthday, I just want to feel special.
I had to perform 3 times over my birthday weekend to very diverse crowds. The first party was at an organic bakery in Jersey City and it was a tiny little place packed with high energy kids of all ages. I brought Albert with me, and we arrived early, like I like. I was a bit frantic trying to set everything up amongst tons of little kids and a face painter who still had a line of customers, but somehow we pulled it off. When I looked up to start the set, I saw lots of shining faces. Not just on the kids, but on the grown ups. I guess some of them knew who I was, and the others were eager to find out... Ah, the pressure. We started singing and it was so much fun. The kids were dancing from the very beginning, and shakers were flying. There was a lot of laughter and, well, it was also fun playing with Albert. He cracks me up, and he had practiced a lot, so it sounded pretty good. I was proud of him, and so grateful that I wasn't there by myself. We were very well received and got lots of hugs and thank you's at the end, in addition to some free cupcakes. Totally worth it.
At the second party (a bit smaller and more mellow), the Mom of the 4 year old birthday boy told me that he watches my DVD every day and knows all of the words by heart. He soon proved it by standing right next to me the whole time singing his little heart out and playing his brand new ukulele! All of his friends seemed to remember me as well, and were very much into singing and dancing along with us. It was pretty awesome. Then, his Dad and a friend joined in playing some pretty incredible African drums on the last three songs! It was so much fun I almost felt guilty charging them for the party...
The next party was different. Lots of people, lots of balloons, a bit of "typical birthday party chaos" and a little three year old whom I had never met before who also apparently knew most of my songs and had a special request set list. I wasn't sure how this one would go as I had never met the family before, and well, you never know. This little girl sat through the entire 45 minute set with a big smile on her face. Albert was joining me on bass again, and we went for it. There was a range of ages, but those kids lasted the entire time. I was asked to end the party with "Ten Thousand Kisses," and the birthday Mom promptly sat her daughter on her lap and rocked her to the entire song. It's a long song. After the set, she thanked me for coming and said that I really made her little girl's birthday special. Then, the birthday Dad told me that he had to leave the room the first few times he heard Ten Thousand Kisses because he was so emotional, and he told me that he really enjoyed my singing and my songwriting. That was really gratifying for me to hear. I was happy.
I was exhausted.
That night, as tired as I was, Dave took me out for sushi. Albert and Jen took the kids. It was so nice to just relax and have a Sapporo and some good food with my husband. We talked about goals, and we talked about the kids, and we talked about us.
Yesterday, my 39th birthday, was all for "me." I started out the day with a meditation and felt really good about the direction that I am going. I got tons of phone messages, e-cards, and FB posts. Both my parents and my sister and her family sung to me, and they made me choke up. I had quiet time, and I had family time. My perfect balance. My family brought me my favorite chocolate cake and some handmade cards and some cool, new clothes. It couldn't have been any better. And you know what? I felt special.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Family Ties

Today my sister called to say that she really missed us. She was going to check into flights and try to visit us with little Annabelle. She lives in NC with her husband and 2 kids - Annabelle is 8 months and Jackson is 2 and a half. If I may say so myself, they two of the most adorable little kids you have ever seen. After we hung up, I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy that she is planning on coming, since I haven't seen her since Christmas. But it is so sad to me that we live so far away. If I could change one thing in my life, this would be it. The fact that we live so far away from each other. I mean, life is going by too fast... we are missing out on the good stuff! I miss seeing my niece and nephew and all of the amazing things that they are doing every day. I miss having her see my kids growing up and going to all of their various "things."
We are missing out.
We are not there to run over on a moment's notice when one of the kids is sick and we need to take them to the hospital or doctor's. We can't have her kids sleep over and give them a "date night", or have them do that for us. I never imagined that it would be this way. I never for one minute growing up thought that we would not live in the same town, let alone the same state.

Last week a good friend of ours called to say that she was moving to New York City. Her husband is getting transferred and now they and their little one year old are coming to live here for at least 2 years. They will be right in Manhattan, or possibly Jersey City, but either way, it's just a hop, skip and a jump. I can hardly imagine the culture shock for them trying to raise a baby in NY, as it is a combination of extremely rewarding and extremely frustrating. Especially when you are used to a 4,000 sq. feet home, entertainment centers the size of a small movie theater, a backyard, 2 cars, luxury strollers that don't fold into the size of an umbrella, and well, space. But it is really exciting for them, too. They are happy to try something new and to experience life in NY. And I am happy and excited for them.
I just wish it were my sister coming instead.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

Indian Jamboree

It's Sunday morning and I can hear Emma and Cole downstairs. Cole spent the night last night and now Emma is reading to him. She is really reading to him. This amazes me. I am so proud of her. They are having a blast and I can hear their laughter coming up from downstairs.
Last night I was reading 'Little House on the Prairie' to both of them. We were all cuddled up in bed and they had just finished a long fit of the giggles. I was trying to calm them down, but it wasn't easy. I found myself having to remember not to raise my voice and just be patient. After all, it wasn't a school night. And I am trying to be "flexible".
Finally, they stopped and I started reading a chapter called "Indian Jamboree." Laura Ingalls was describing hearing the Indians make funny noises from their throats, so I tried to interject my version of how this would sound. "Hi ya! Hi ya!" I started. Both of the kids stopped and stared at me and then immediately burst out laughing and Emma said "No, that's not in the book, Mama!". Cole just shook his head and kept laughing. I don't know why, but I started laughing myself. I laughed so hard and I couldn't stop. Tears came out of my eyes. All three of us were laughing hysterically, and it felt so good to just laugh with them. (I am laughing now just thinking about it.) I hugged Emma since she was the closest to me, and Cole said "You love Emma, Mama Suzi?" "Yes, Cole. I do. I love Emma, and I love you, too!". He looked at me and blushed.
I love that we have this relationship. Our blended family. Cole is Albert and Jen's little one, but Coley is such a part of my life, and the lives of Sebastian and Emma. We don't use the word "step" when referring to him, because that is not really what he is. He's not a step brother, or step son. There is no step about it. We are just all one big family. Cole is a wonderful two year old and we all share in the joy of raising a toddler, a five year old, and an eleven year old, who all make us laugh.
It is so healing to laugh. I like to laugh every single day, but sometimes I forget how important this is.
I wonder what will be my Indian Jamboree moment today?

Friday, February 26, 2010

honey my love

Thanks for tuning into Suzi Shelton's webcast. Choose a partner as she sings Honey My Love with Rich Hinman and special guest dancer, Emma Rose Mitri!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sometimes I forget

Today I woke up to snow falling down again.  It's beautiful, but I remembered that I am taking Emma into the city today to see the butterflies at the Natural History Museum, and I thought about how it will be a pretty slushy trip.  Especially because Emma likes to step in snow.  And slush.  
I went upstairs to get my cup of coffee and to sit on the couch and "be still" for a minute and was careful to be extra quiet because Sebastian's room is next to the family room. I suddenly remembered that he is not here.  He is on vacation with Albert until Thursday.  It is amazing, but Sebastian has had two homes since he was three years old and still sometimes I forget.  It's not that it makes me sad, because I know that he is happy in both homes, but it's just a weird longing that I still feel when he is gone, and I imagine that I will feel this forever.  I am sure having two homes is not easy for him, but it is all that he knows.  I feel so badly for him when he forgets things in one home or the other because it seems to cause him a lot of frustration, but that seems to be the worst of it.  I hope that when he grows up that he doesn't remember that frustration as much as he remembers that both of his parents (and now his two sets of step-parents) love him so much and wanted to make sure the he could have two happy homes instead of one that had a lot of tension.  I hope.  Not all families have such good relationships with their "ex's", but we do, and I really appreciate that.  I hope that Sebastian appreciates it, too. 
"I love you, honey, and I miss you a lot.  I can't wait until you get back.  Have a nice vacation with Daddy, Jen and Cole, and when you get back, Emma and I will tell you all about the butterflies..."



Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine song

Happy Valentine's Day....

Can we talk? Lesson on flexibility...

I always have a plan.  I don't like when things get in the way of my plan.  One of the things that I have been trying to work on lately is flexibility.  Being able to actually "go with the flow" without getting frustrated in order to be a better ME. 

Time is always a big one.  I like to be on time for just about everything, and am constantly trying to get things done according to the clock.  Since I have become a mother, I realize that my kids are two of my biggest challenges to this.  They work on a different time clock. One that doesn't often fit into my master plan. 
Here is an example.  My five year old daughter Emma Rose has found that her favorite time to share with me is at bedtime.   I am sure that this is the case in many homes as it is the perfect stall tactic.  It begins when she starts the upward climb into her loft bed.  "So, can we talk?" she asks hopefully.   I look up at her in her loft, glance at the clock, and take a breath.  I start to feel my pulse quicken at the fact that it is already later than I would have liked for her to be heading up to bed, but I am trying to be flexible, so I say...  "Ok, we can talk for about five minutes." "How about ten?"she asks.  "We'll see... just get up there! I am coming up and it is getting very late!"

"So, what do you want to talk about?" I ask after we have completed the straightening of the covers ritual.  "Well, today Gassin hit me on my finger and it hurt a lot and he didn't even say he was sorry!" and so it begins.  This is what I have been waiting for since I picked her up from school.   I have to really remind myself not to "wrap this up" quickly, just because it is late and I am super tired.  I take another breath and we talk back and forth and then before we know it, it really IS late and I am starting to get irritated that she is up so late and I make her promise me that she won't give me a hard time in the morning.  "I promise" she says as I kiss her forehead

I compliment myself on not getting too bent out of shape that it got to be so late.  After all, I am so lucky to have these moments in my life with my kids.  What could be more important?

So my new plan is to allow time for these "unexpected" sharing moments.  To plan to be more flexible.  Especially for the moments that are initiated by my kids. Why? Because I don't want to miss out on them just because I don't have the time

I am very curious as to how other parents deal with this.  How do other parents deal with  being flexible?

sebastian's review of lightning thief movie

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Sebastian's Corner

I wanted to post this video as a proud parent to my eleven year old son, Sebastian.  He is an avid reader and since the movie is coming out soon, he wanted to share his thoughts on "The Lightning Thief".  I would love to hear what your kids think of this...


Sebastian's thoughts on The Lightning Thief

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Making a difference in 2010

I always try to start each new year with new goals. Eating healthier, making more time with my kids and my husband, making a better life for my family... This year the list is a bit longer. It's about making a difference. Certainly for my family, but for others as well. How can I make a difference in the lives of other families with children? How has music made a difference in my life? How can I give back? Every time the band and I perform, we meet new amazing people with such enthusiasm and energy that it's hard not to carry that enthusiasm back with us. The people we meet come into our lives and touch our hearts with their stories.   This year we are preparing to hit the road to try to reach new cities and towns to continue making new connections and new friends, and to find new ways to give back. Along the way, we plan on documenting our trip to share this energy with others. We are writing new songs, and fine tuning our show to better reach out to our fans. School, hospitals, and special events are also on our wish list in addition to large performance spaces.  Our Spring tour is focused mostly on the northeast coast, and will begin this March so if you are interested in having us come to your town, now is the time to let us know. 
Simply email me today.
Stay tuned for more info to come soon...