Saturday, December 31, 2011

Love's in the Sky With Diamonds!

By Amy Baranski

Yesterday I had the honor of taking photographs at Jen and Josh Diamond's wedding on the top floor of the municipal courthouse. It was awesome. I'm not a professional photographer and barely know how to use my camera but Jen and I had talked about that.

I met the Diamonds through this blog, well really through Melissa, one of their good friends. They are a fun family. My husband Bob keeps a beehive at their house as part of his Urban Bee project. So there are lots of connections. I don't know the Diamonds too well, but I hope to get to know them more because they are radiant people.

Here are my top ten favorite things about the Diamonds.
  1. Their last name is Diamond.
  2. They have flames painted on the side of their mini-van.
  3. They like honey and have the empty jars to prove it.
  4. They decided to get married after having three children.
  5. Elijah, Gabriel, and Miriam (their kids) are awesome people.
  6. The Diamonds have fantastic smiles.
  7. Jen and I both have gay moms!
  8. They planned their wedding in 5 weeks or less.
  9. Their friends really love them (and so do their fams).
  10. They are just easy to be around.
Congratulations Diamonds!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve Karaoke

posted by Melissa Baumgart
Our friend, Jen, rocking out some fine karaoke.

For me personally, Christmas came and went in a fog of allergy induced sneezes that turned into coughing and yellow snot.  I could barely get the tamales finished, and after making three different fillings the night before, thankfully Dina and my kids helped to accomplish assembling all 80-some tamales.  Yes, Dina and my brother and the girls all made the trip over from Switzerland to the holidays with us!!!

I didn't even photograph any of the festivities of the evening.  Luckily I got this one shot of Jen singing karaoke.  We hooked up the machine and instead of the usual adults picking songs from the 70's and 80's, the kids took over and were belting out every Christmas carol available.  It was super fun to watch them all come out of what looked like shy cautionary faces to standing tall, singing loudly and smiling ear to ear.  

I sang my usual, Bryan Adams "Summer of '69", with the help of many background singers.

And for now, back to family, Xbox Kinect, cooking, and hopefully kicking this cold.  ANd maybe some karaoke in public before the new year is up.  Hope all of your holidays were bright and merry!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Country Santa

Day One of Country Santa.
posted by Melissa Baumgart
This month started with lots of karaoke.  Mid-month has brought more Christmas caroling and puzzle making.  Some friends of ours had their annual Christmas carol party this past Saturday, and it was a lot of fun as usual.  She hires a piano player and has books with the music and lyrics and a fluctuating group of about 25 -30 people and kids join in to belt out some well known carols.  Kinda like old fashioned karaoke, perhaps?

Then there has been the puzzle.  My mother-in-law sent us a box of gifts, and a couple things to start out the season.  One was this puzzle, called "Country Santa."  Levi and I started the puzzle Thursday morning, and many hours have gone into it since then.  I often have Christmas music playing the background, singing merrily along.

But puzzle making can be also addictive.  Today, I didn't get dressed, I didn't brush my teeth, I didn't even look in the mirror and barely fed my kids lunch.  My back hurts from being hunched over this puzzle all day.  I am now showered and taking a break, but I am determined to finish this puzzle by tomorrow.  I think I hit the tipping point this afternoon, and with any luck I might meet my goal.

I better, since I still have more Christmas preparing to do, you know for the real thing, not just a cardboard Santa that's been taking up the dining room table for a few days.  He'll have to go before the Baumgart Family Christmas Eve Party, or there won't be room for the tamales at the table.

I do suggest trying a puzzle, especially if you haven't done one in a while.  It is very satisfying.  And when you're unemployed and not in school, it kinda gives you a feeling of accomplishing something at the end of the day.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yes, I admit to Keeping Up

posted by Melissa Baumgart
Yesterday I watched the Kardashians.  It was mid morning and I wrapped up in a blanket, sat on the couch, and watched Kloe's wedding.  I experienced a myriad of thoughts and feelings.  They ranged from satisfied, relaxed, pathetic and embarrassed to apathetic, justified and lazy.  I had cramps, and it seems like lately (since I am unemployed and not in school) it's my monthly excuse to plop my butt on the couch and do a little "Keeping up", if you know what I mean.

I know I said in a previous, inspired post, that I would never ever watch that show about the 1% again.  And yet, there I sat, guiltily subdued by the drama and bling.

I could have been working on finding funding for school. (NOT, because every time I go talk to the person they send me to, that new person has no idea why they sent me there in the first place.  It is a hamster wheel of educational and government bureaucracy and all I want to do lately is jump off and lay in the smelly cedar chips that make up the cage called my life.)

I could have been singing karaoke, but then I would have had to plug in the machine.  And get dressed, because the TV is right in front of our big window.

I could have went to yoga with Jamie, but I would have had to have drank a lot more water in preparation.  I hadn't.

I could have cleaned the house.    

Instead, I did nothing.

Why do we feel so bad about doing nothing?  Or about going back on passionate declarations about what we will and won't do with ourselves.  Isn't it human to do these things?  Isn't it after all just one day out of our life, or a couple hours?  And then a new day dawns, perhaps like this morning with an amazing sunrise over the mountains.  See, I knew it was over the mountains, even though I couldn't see them because I live in the first floor dark dungeon apartment, not the airy and open, light filled third floor apartment.

But anyway, a new day does come around, no matter on which floor you reside.  A new list of things to accomplish gets drawn up and you just get to work.  It's 10:20am and I already have four out of the 12 things crossed off.  Not too shabby for a girl that sometimes just can't resist that temptation to Keep Up. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

You put the Boom Boom into my Heart

posted be Melissa Baumgart
The Baumgart house has been rocking the karaoke.  I have to say a huge Thank You to our friend, Kenny, for loaning us the karaoke machine.  It has been so fun to sing and not be all in front of people, or at a bar every night.  And yes, I have karaoke'd everyday since December 1st!  I like finding songs that are "in my range", if I can even say I have one.  It's very humorous how good one can think they sound singing along to the stereo, and then hear the harsh slap of reality when their voice is piped through a mic for all to hear.  Loudly.

Some of my personal favorites thus far have been:

Wake Me Up (Before You Go Go) by Wham - I think song this might have been my all time high score of 96!  There are so many, songs that is, not high scores, that it's hard to remember.
Summer of '69 by Brayn Adams
Paint it Black by the Rolling Stones
Edelwiess by Julie Andrews
Living on a Prayer by Bon Jovi
Live to Tell by Madonna
It Ain't Over Til It's Over by Lenny Kravitz

Some songs I am real bad at:

Saving All My Love For You by Whitney Houston
Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree by Tony Orlando
Endless Love by Diana Ross and Lionel Ritchie
(I know there are more, I am probably just blocking them out)

One not to sing with kids around:

My Name Is by Eminem (Have you ever heard those lyrics, whoa!  This karaoke is does not include the "clean" version apparently.  And we learned this the hard way, with kids present.  Ooops.)

Keep on Rocking,

Friday, December 2, 2011

Oh, thinking about our younger years

 posted by Melissa Baumgart
I kicked off karaoke month family-style.  Of course my kids were not into the idea when I brought it up during the day.  Tallulah said I was embarrassing.  "But no one will be here, just us."  I rebutted.  "Well, they might be walking by and hear you."  She thoughtfully added.  Levi never wants to do anything I ever suggest, so that was no surprise.  And Lily thought it was weird.

Love the graphics.
After dinner, we set up the Filipino karaoke machine.  It is a microphone that has buttons for selecting your song after you have chosen it from the menu of options in the little book it comes with.  You just plug it into you TV and you have instant karaoke.  Song choices range from Elton John, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Bob Marley, Debby Boone, the Kinks, and Gene Autry.  A wide range of choices.

I started out the fun with a moving rendition of "Heaven" by Bryan Adams.  Man, that took me right back to middle school.  I desperately wanted to go see Bryan Adams at the Wheeling Civic Center, but my parents thought I wasn't old enough to go without supervision.  And supervision would have been so un-cool.

Levi grabbed the mic next and did, of course, "Thriller."  He loves to dance like Michael Jackson and I think he does a pretty good job for a 10 year old white boy.  Lily jumped up from her homework to join us, and she always does Beatles tunes.  She scores very high with "Let it Be", so she usually starts there.  Next Tallulah popped over for her favorite song, "Blackbird."

Yes, in the end all three kids were fighting over whose turn was next.  And no one seemed the least bit embarrassed by my singing, only frustrated that they had to wait.  There were lots of smiles and time spent snuggling on the couch while someone else sang.  Lots of "I love you, Mama."
Levi singing "Thriller", I should have video taped it.

Kids are so odd.  Mine never want to participate in "family" things, and then, when they do...they always have a good time.  You'd think they would get it by now, that, Mom and Dad are pretty cool.

But then again, I wouldn't have been caught dead with my parents at the Bryan Adams concert.  I chose not to even go.  I remember being on a bus going to a football game and hearing the older kids belting out "Summer of '69" and I sunk lower in my seat, feeling sorry for myself that I couldn't go to the upcoming show.  I guess kids just are who they are.  And maybe it's really all part of growing up and becoming an adult.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Once I was happy...

posted by Melissa Baumgart
It's not that I'll miss jumping off of a 23 foot high platform, or that I'll miss being bruised by silk, but I definitely feel like I am moving on reluctantly this month.  I was listening to more versions of "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" today (and now again) and I felt forlorn.  Abandoned by the circus, by the magic, the quirkiness of it all.  But it's me that's leaving the circus behind, I feel like I am running away from the circus.

I really adored learning more about the circus by watching the documentary, and learning more about the circuses right in my back yard.  There's SANCA, School of Acrobatics and New Circus Arts, and the Emerald City Trapeze, both of which offer not only classes, but also performances that the public can come and see.  We heard that on December 10th, SANCA is having a show highlighting their Junior Fly Team.  I definitely want to catch that!  (no pun intended, not even a high one.  OK, that pun was intended.)

With the calliope music in the background, and the Chimpmunks singing sharply in my ear (maybe it was their album where I first heard the trapeze song), I must move on.  On from the child-like awe that the circus brings, taking with me that feeling of knowing that we have it in us all to be extraordinary.

And I also must move away from the computer and all the You Tube videos of circus music, accordion music and watching trapeze performances.  Trust me, there's a lot of good stuff out there.  I'll leave you with this, and while it is certainly not the best video I watched in the past hour (yes, HOUR, I am unemployed, so what), it does bring together the circus and karaoke in a unique way.

"Circus life
Under the big top world
We all need the clowns to make us smile "

Who doesn't love a good Journey song for karaoke?