There have been lots of babies in my life lately. My children have a new cousin, with another on the way, and three of their teachers have had babies. For shower gifts, many people love to buy cute baby clothes. Others prefer "fun" gifts like toys, while still others are more inclined to help the family out by purchasing essentials such as diapers or strollers. Most of the time, I go for items that I consider both fun and necessary: books and music.
As a writer and teacher, books are near and dear to me. They can transport us to another world, inspire us, challenge us, teach us, and entertain us. In the case of this book, they can also celebrate us and the earth we inhabit. If I am going to give a newborn only one book, it will be On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier.
"On the eve of your birth
word of your coming passed
from animal to animal.
The reindeer told the Arctic terns,
who told the humpback whales,
who told the Pacific salmon..."
This lovely tale continues with news of the child's birth traveling all around the globe while the sun continues to shine, the wind blows, and the moon pulls the ocean's tides. It ends with people welcoming the newborn saying, "We are so glad you've come!" Orignally published in 1991, this book will never go out of style.
Music is another favorite shower gift. When I was pregnant with our first child, I began looking for world music, particularly lullabies, to play for him. African Lullaby is one of the first CDs I found and it quickly became our favorite. My son listened to it often while falling asleep. When our daughter was born, he passed it along to her. Four and a half years later, she still listens to it, almost every night. Produced by Ellipsis Arts, this compilation CD is part of a lullaby series that focuses on lullabies from different parts of the world. This CD includes music from around the African continent and notes about the artists and style of music played. I'll certainly blog about music again, and include more scholarly reasons for exposing your children and students to music from around the world, but for today, I hope you'll check out this CD for no other reason than the music is wonderful.
What are your favorite examples of world music for children or books that celebrate nature? Do you have a book or CD that you give to the newborns in your life?
My family had such a fun night last night. First was the monthly Old Time Fiddle Session at The Brick pizzeria in New Bedford. These sessions have been going on for three years now. They draw people from the South Coast area and beyond. It’s an open session which means that anyone can show up and play or simply come to listen (like me). All players need is an acoustic stringed instrument (e.g. fiddle, banjo, mandolin, guitar, bass) and enough skills to play along. It’s casual and fun. People teach each other tunes, play together, and generally have a good time. Plus, we get to enjoy a glass of wine or beer and eat delicious pizza.
Jeff ( @rhubarb_andjelly )added a new event following the session: a free ukulele lesson open to anyone who showed up. And boy did people show up! Jeff has 20 ukes available and they were all in use. At least 6 people had brought their own, and I handed mine off for someone to play. Loads of people had heard about the event and came for it, but others happened upon all of us in Wings Court, paused to see what was going on, and were welcomed in by Jeff. Most people stayed the whole time, but some had to leave after a while (young kids who needed to go to bed, for example). No sooner would the uke be returned than a person would walk up, pause, be invited to join and start strumming on that newly available instrument. It was pretty magical. One couple was from NY. Another woman was from Wisconsin. They told me they felt really welcomed by all of us. And it’s all because of Jeff Angeley’s big heart and vision. He knows music brings people of all ages and backgrounds together. He knows music builds community. He’s building it one instrument at a time and I am grateful for that.
Special thanks to the New Bedford Economic Development Council for seeing Jeff’s vision and helping to fund these free community lessons.
If you want to know about future events, follow the South Coast Lessons page or The Old Time Fiddle Session pages.
Today’s basil harvest. From one plant. We have 10 more. 😳 #PestoTonight
It’s been a stellar #gardening year for heat loving plants.
This lovely lady came to visit us with her husband and teen-aged daughter. More than 25 years ago, she was a Rotary Exchange Student who lived with my family. We’ve stayed in touch for all of this time. She has visited a few times since then and my parents attended her wedding. When we lived in Dublin, my family of 4 flew to France to see her family of 5. (On that trip, we also visited a different, lovely French sister, @florence.pit, who lives in Paris). Watching our kids play together was a real joy. It’s always such a pleasure to have her around. #citizensoftheworld
We have friends visiting from France right now so we took a little day trip to #Boston. Here are some pics from @newenglandaquarium. (Yes, I’m always extra happy to see an octopus). #science #ocean
The newest plane by @dantecusolito #STEM #STEAM #FutureEngineer
Some photos taken around my parents’ farm yesterday. The cozy coop in front of the corn makes me smile. My nephew left it there when he visited. The egg is so small because the chicken just started laying- that was her first egg. Also, my dad grows the best corn around. #farmlife #NoFarmsNoFood
I received THE SONG OF SOLOMON as a gift many years ago, back when I was still teaching. It was the night before winter break ended and I decided to read a little before bed. 100 pages later I had to force myself to stop reading and go to sleep. I devoured that book. Next I read BELOVED. Damn, did that book challenge me as a reader. I had to work so hard to understand it. I had to lean in and really concentrate. I was so thankful for that gift- it reminded me what reading must have been like for many of my 4th graders for whom reading was not yet second nature. It made me a better teacher. And what can I say about PARADISE? Another book I had to lean in to understand due to the complex interconnected family trees. Once I was too far in, I wished I had drawn up family trees to help me remember all of the relationships. I’ve been meaning to go back and read that one and make the trees from the beginning. Maybe now is a good time to do that.
RIP Ms. Morrison. The world is a better place for you having been in it.
Our garden is super prolific right now. I’m harvesting zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, jalapeños, sweet basil, Thai basil, and purple basil nearly every day. There are loads of green tomatoes and bell peppers I’m hoping to start harvesting soon. But the zucchini and summer squash...OY! The last picture shows what I harvested THIS MORNING. And we only have one plant of each. We’ve been eating it regularly, and I’ll freeze some, but we can possibly use as much as we’re getting. (This is what happens when you use compost from your parents’ farm!) There are loads of squash blossoms on the plants. Anybody want some? Because we know what those blossoms will soon become... (Seriously local friends... hit me up if you want some squash or blossoms). #organicgardening #gardening #wondersofcompost
With his gourd banjo completed, @dantecusolito decided to make a remote controlled tug boat. Isn’t this thing the cutest? #STEM #STEAM #summertime