Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Brianna's Happy and She Knows It!

If you knew how long it takes our computer to download a video, you wouldn't think I'm taking the easy way out by having just two videos in this entire blog post. Each one is less than two minutes, and parts are uneventful, but if you watch the whole thing(s) you'll be rewarded with some of the fullest, unencumbered, and innocent smiles you'll ever see. Great-Grandaddy was the Master of Ceremonies for the first video, and just today I recorded Brianna trying to help me realize the essence of two favorite songs. I hope you'll take time to share this wonderful experience with me.

Great Grandaddy and Brianna

Grandpa Ken and Brianna Have a Singalong

Stay Tuned!

Hot Times in Hotlanta

I recently had a few days in Atlanta with Daddy, Buddy, and Caryn and her family. You could call it a "working vacation," but the "work" was very pleasant and rewarding (not just the pennies we found, either). In a way, the whole week was like an early Father's Day celebration. We found once again that the boxes and closets we were going through were bathed in very special memories. I brought home many old letters and photos that collectively contain much of our family's history. That's "the Loyd treasure" to me.

There were also plenty of articles that deserved only a passing glance before being tossed. This old gym shirt from dear old CK High School now adds to the dustrag pile. Not too many great memories wrapped up in gym class! In fact, come to think of it, that's where my knee trouble started!
When the Braves moved from Milwaukee to Atlanta in 1966, I was thrilled to adopt a real major league team. I had followed the AAA Atlanta "Crackers" up to that point. '66 was also my first year in Little League, so baseball was a growing part of my life. Caryn found this old popcorn box from one of the first games we attended at Atlanta Stadium.

When I was growing up we even took our "play" seriously. This poster is a map of our backyard as Buddy divided up territory for one of the mock wars we fought with tanks and WWII aircraft.Over a period of years, Mama created inspirational bulletin boards for her and Daddy's Sunday School class, the Forum Class. Here are a couple of samples, and I intend to blog about more of her efforts soon.

We found plenty of old school papers and projects. Hard to believe the poster below would pass for a health project.

Daddy's really happy with the flowers on his front portico, courtesy of Caryn and Steve, with the lily from Chic Fil-a. He waters them religiously.

Steve worked for over six hours getting the yard in tiptop condition. It looked the best it's looked since, well, the last time he did it!

Few people in Atlanta have the Eden-like backyard Daddy has. One full acre of towering shade trees and lush undergrowth. In fact, I actually saw a serpent! It was just a red-bellied water snake sunning on his brushpile.

From some spots, you can barely see the house from the nearby road.

While I was in Atlanta, I enjoyed meals at Athens Pizza, IHOP, The Varsity, The Colonnade, and Chic Fil-a (times 4)! Never a shortage of good food. We all had some great family time, got a lot of work done, and began talking about their plans to visit North Carolina soon--once both great-grandbabies are available. The countdown is on!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Girls Camp a Step Closer to Reality

Saturday, June 13, the long-awaited groundbreaking was held for Camp Duncan, the new theraputic camping facility for girls. Go here to see my previous blog post when I attended an open house there in March.

Friends of the Baptist Children's Homes from all over North Carolina gathered for this momentous and festive occasion. A temporary but inviting sign welcomed the guests.

Vans and shuttle buses ran all afternoon to bring some 400 well-wishers from the parking area. Cars lined the entrance drive for a half mile as well.

Many families had come early and engaged in fun outdoor activites leading up to the actual ground breaking and dinner. In spite of the heat, there was a breeze and plenty of shade. Snowcones and water bottles were provided in abundance.

Special gospel music was popular as the crowd relaxed, fellowshipped, and waited for the groundbreaking ceremony.

Many folks engaged in fishing in Camp Duncan's sprawling spring-fed lake. Boys from Cameron Boys Camp won accolades for their prowess with rod and reel.

Those same boys shared some spirited songs with us. They take great pride in the teamwork and cooperative spirit they have learned as campers. They can take that home to help mend broken pieces in their family life and turn a new page in their lives.

Paul Daley, who deserves much credit for the Boys Camp's success over the last 30 years, welcomed the hillside of friends. Paul will now guide the new Girls Camp in its infancy. He and his daughter Kristy shared a beautiful song Paul had been inspired to write a short time ago.

He was joined on the platform by Dr. Michael "Mickey" Blackwell, president of N.C. Baptist Children's homes, and one of our state's premier advocates for children. Mickey's ties to Moore County go back more than two decades to his 7 year pastorate in Carthage.

It's sometimes hard to surprise event organizers, but only a couple of BCH officials were aware of what was about to take place: a Cary church presented a check for $200,000! This goes a long way toward meeting a goal that will earn another $250,000 in matching funds from the foundation that helped launch the camp.

As Paul, Mickey, and other key leaders shoveled the first symbolic piles of earth, it was hard not to look ahead to the possibilities of this camp changing lives in a radically positive way in the near future. And immediately upon the conclusion of this ceremony, we were all off to a tented area the size of a circus tent where we would do some more shoveling--of some delicious grilled chicken, hot dogs, fixings, and desserts prepared by the NC Baptist Men and Women's Missionary Union.
As we took the shuttle back to our car and headed toward home we could tell that everyone else shared the enthusiasm, hope, and anticipation of what would take place in this camp in the years to come. Please help undergird with prayer Camp Duncan, their staff, and the girls who will seek meaning, purpose, and stability here in the years to come.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Brain Games for Babies: the Sequel

Brianna has been around long enough now to know that there's plenty of fun to be had. Babies are actively learning whenever they're being held, cuddled, talked to, played with, and so on. In an earlier blog post I sang the praises of a little book called 125 Brain Games for Babies. If you don't have a baby of your own, borrow one sometime soon and try these out.

Today, Brianna will share a few sure-fire samplers. (Research-based rationale will be in italics).

  • Hold your baby in your arms and rock her back and forth
  • As you rock, say "Snuggle, buggle, I love you" (or make up your own variation)
  • On the word "YOU" kiss a part of her body--head, nose, toes.

The more an infant is cuddled, snuggled, and held, the more secure and independent she will be when she is older. This game develops bonding.

  • When you speak "parentese" to babies, you're communicating with them and encouraging vocal responses. This develops language skills.
  • Say things like, "You're such a sweet baby" (perfectly true) or "Look at those ten little toes" (true, I hope).
  • When you speak in parentese, hold your baby near to your face and look directly into her eyes.

Research says babies respond positively to "parentese"-- the high-pitched sounds adults make when talking to babies.

  • Place a small cassette player near your baby's crib. Choose soft instrumental music or lullabies to play-- or better yet, some jazz or Big Band! Whatever baby likes and responds to best.
  • Music that has a repeated melody is very soothing to baby because it's the kind of sound she heard in the womb.
  • Tape the sounds of your dishwasher and play it for your baby. This also is similar to the sounds of the womb. Some of you might need to try the washer or garbage disposal. : )
  • If you are at all musical, baby would actually prefer to hear YOU sing or play an instrument!
Babies possess a natural response to music through their conditioning in the womb to rhythm, sound, and movement.
  • This game helps baby become aware of the different parts of her body.
  • Blow gently on your baby's hands, saying in a singsong chant,"Here are the baby's hands."
  • Then kiss the baby's hands.
  • Blow on other parts of the body. Most babies like gentle blowing on their elbows, fingers, neck, cheek, and toes.

    Positive sensory experiences and social interactions with adults advance the baby's cognitive abilities.
  • Communicate with baby by looking into her eyes, holding her close to your body, and responding to her sounds.
  • Holding her close develops the secure attachment that she needs for her growth.
  • Hold your baby close and walk around the room.
  • Stop walking and look into her eyes, smile, and rub noses.
  • Start walking again, then stop. Repeat this several times.

    Touching, holding, and cuddling a baby not only comfots her, but helps her brain grow.

"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a nap. These interviews take a lot out of me." Z-z-z-z-z.

For the full text of Brianna's enlightening interview, click on the video below. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back by Popular Demand: BABY BRIANNA! (With Captions!)

Wonderful Wednesday found Amanda and Brianna resuming our beloved tradition of soup and sandwich at our house. Somehow I neglected to get any pictures of Amanda--sorry! I must have been distracted!

"Oh, shes's resting so peacefully. . ."
"This child obviously needs to be held!"
"I dunno, Brianna. What are our chances of getting three more wild cards?"

Judy's fortunes seem to change instantly with Brianna's invaluable input. No, she still couldn't beat Amanda, but soon sent Grandpa Ken reeling into 3rd place.

"YES! I hear we WON!"

"So just what would this 'permanent partner contract' say?"

"Play for money? Uh, what's money?"

"Okay, count me in. Where do I sign? Or should I just 'make my mark'?"
"Don't worry Grandpa. When the contract is up in 3 months, I can re-negotiate and if she fails to meet my demands you can try to make me a better offer."

A little known comfy position for babies.

"Quite a view from this overlook."

"So, Grandpa, you say your people are from Georgia? I can tell."

"Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle--that means I'm part cracker, too!"

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em: 'Tar Heels and Crackers RULE!"
"Gosh, just think-- I could have been born in Alabama!
("Hi, Gail. I love you SO much!")
Coming up soon: More Brain Games for Babies with a focus on the first three months.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How Do You Make a Music Sandwich?

Silly question. But Judy and I had a "musical sandwich" this past weekend. I've already blogged about our Saturday of Bluegrass. Well, sandwiched around that was an evening of Reggae and Blues on Friday and an evening of Jazz and Big Band on Monday. Are you beginning to believe that I'm eclectic about everything (go ahead, look it up)?

It wasn't just any Friday. It was First Friday in Southern Pines. We were not the least bit surprised to see Jessie and some sleepover chums there to greet us. Cool people support these kinds of events.

The featured musicians this month were The Corey Harris Band. I wish I could introduce them like Corey did. He was smooth, and captivated the audience with his casual conversation as much as with his music. There was Peanut Whitley on the keyboard, Ken Joseph on the drums, Gordon Jones on the saxophone, and Ralph DuJour on the bass. And as Corey would say, "Yours truly" on the guitar(s).
It didn't take long for me to realize that Corey Harris is a musical genius. PINESTRAW magazine's preview of the evening said "Internationally acclaimed Corey Harris tunes up his guitar for an interpretive ramble through Mississippi Delta Blues, reggae, gospel, African and Caribbean music." That was an understatement!
The sax and bass players did some solo breaks that wowed the crowd. But Corey was a phenom that held the audience spellbound with each new number from his diverse repertoire. I liked The Pilot's quote from Corey in their preview article: "A lot of the walls that we put up between one another-- we're conditioned to do that. It's in the media and in our education for us to look at all the differences and then conclude that there are these huge walls between us. But I really feel that as humans we all have one soul. We got one heart. We got one blood. As the world's getting smaller, we've really got to learn about each other."
Spoken like a true blue ECLECTIC!

This is just a brief video so you can sample the talent of the "5x5 Band."

Corey teased the crowd a little, saying he thought this would be a sleepy little southern town. We showed him we appreciated his playfulness, his art, his message, and his commitment.
The band was called out for multiple encores. Search Corey Harris on youtube for a number of representative videos. Later, I remarked to Judy that I hoped the group would be successful. Then I read that in 2007 Corey had received an unrestricted grant from the MacArthur Foundation (who pay for so much good Public Radio and TV) for $500,000! WOW!
Moving right along, you already know about Saturday's Bluegrass with the Baghdad Bad Boys. If not, scroll down to my earlier blog post about them.
Monday evening Judy and I headed to Sandhills Community College for the second concert in the summer Jazz Band series. This photo was from the first concert in May which was indoors due to inclement weather.
Something about being outside this time made it seem even more "alive."
The college green was packed with lawnchairs and blankets.
And hundreds of people who love jazz, Big Band, and popular standards.
This band is not a bunch of amateurs. Many are active or retired professional musicians. Their performance would draw a nod of approval from any of the old-time greats. As dusk fell, several of the last numbers were tributes to our service men and women, and specifically to Glenn Miller and his band.

Judy and I are continually reminded how nice it is to live in a community that values and nurtures the arts to such a high degree. If you live anywhere nearby, it would be worth your while to investigate and take advantage of some of these FREE, FAMILY-FRIENDLY events. There will be two more summer jazz concerts at the college, July 13 and August 10, with music from 6:30 to around 8:00.

Listen to a bit of "In the Mood," a Glenn Miller all-time favorite. The second video is another Big Band theme.