Christmas Evening 2011

Christmas evening my parents and brother joined us for a delicious meal, which my in-laws cooked for everyone. It was our last evening to see Kyle, so I was grateful for the time together.


Sophie “reading” to Kyle




Kyle brought our children gifts, including a “band in a box” for Sophie. I told him I would remember that when he has kids. (To be fair, though, the kids loved it and, in fact, put on a performance this evening.)

“I am here to live out loud.” —Emile Zola

Pop Pop’s Song

In 2004 Andy and I were at the Blind Lemon listening to a guy with a guitar sing. We liked him but then he invited his friend, Griffin House, to sing a few songs. Andy and I loved him. As we were leaving the Blind Lemon we ran into Griffin House. I told him I liked his music. He said he wasn’t the one who was playing that night. A friend of his cut in and said he was just being humble and that he had, indeed, played a few songs. At the time, Andy and I still didn’t know his name—he was just a guy with a guitar who played a few songs at the Blind Lemon, and we liked them.

Either that Sunday or a few Sundays later, Andy and I were watching one of our favorite shows, CBS Sunday Morning. Bill Flanagan did a short series on the best emerging songwriters in the U.S. Griffin House was on that list—he played a song from House’s album, Lost and Found. “Wasn’t that the guy from the Blind Lemon?” I asked Andy.

It was. From then on, we were hooked.

We’ve been to many of his concerts throughout the years. One was with my parents, at an outdoor amphitheater, in Springfield, OH. My dad particularly liked House’s song “The Guy Who Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind.”

A few years later Sophie was born. We’d often dance with her, while listening to House’s various albums. And my dad always danced with her to “The Guy Who Says Goodbye to You is Out of His Mind.” In our family, it became known as Pop Pop’s song.

Sophie doesn’t remember much from when she was very young. But she knows this song. And still, to this day, out of the blue she’ll ask us, “Can I hear Pop Pop’s Song?” And when we play it in the car for her, she now sings along, softly—she knows the entire chorus by heart.

I thought for sure I had a video of my dad dancing with Sophie to this song. But last night, after much searching, Andy and I couldn’t find it. We did, however, find this, which was recorded about 1-1/2 years ago, right around her 2nd birthday:

I love her “dancing.” I love how, even at 2, she’s already singing some of the words. And call me sentimental but if she chooses to marry someday, I like to think of her dancing to this song with my dad years from now, at her wedding.

Tomorrow night Griffin House is giving a free show at 6pm at Veteran’s Park Amphitheater in Springfield, OH. Sophie and I will be in North Carolina, with my parents, visiting my sister and her family. But you should go. Next year, we’ll take Sophie—so she can hear Pop Pop’s song in person.

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” —Berthold Auerbach

Sophie, on Beethoven


Each month the children at Sophie’s preschool are introduced to a different musician and artist. Yesterday, after telling me that she (again) rode the carousel (the horse, by the way, was red, pink, purple and yellow and had a pretend cake on its head that you could not eat) she listened to “Mr. Beethoven.” I asked if she liked Mr. Beethoven. Her response? “Yes. (Pause.) Mommy, he’s really, really good.”

I laughed.

“Yes, Sophie. Mr. Beethoven is pretty good.”

“Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.” —Ludwig van Beethoven

Playing Guitar



“Music expresses feeling and thought, without language; it was below and before speech, and it is above and beyond all words.” —Robert G. Ingersoll

A Typical Tuesday

“A child is a curly dimpled lunatic.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sophie Wants a Mountain

Friday I loaded the kids in the minivan and drove 90 minutes south to visit a good friend and her son, who live in Louisville. (Thanks again for the great afternoon, Maria, and the delicious lunch!)

On the way home I was listening to my iPod while all three children slept. Pete Droge‘s “Going Whichever Way the Wind Blows” started playing and I was immediately struck with memory. Sophie and I used to dance to this song, when she was baby. I often found myself choosing it when she was frustrated, for a reason unknown to me, therefore making me frustrated. I think Pete’s voice and our dancing calmed her, and Pete’s words calmed me.

“Going whichever way the wind blows,
you were caught in your world,
I was lost in mine.

Going whichever way the wind blows,
staring through the windshield,
seeing the other side.
let it go, it will get easier,
let it go, just enjoy the ride.”

The song reminded me of so many things: that it was OK if things got a little off schedule. That sometimes we just had to go wherever life took us that day. That we were two separate people, speaking two different languages and that sometimes it took several tries to figure each other out. That I shouldn’t worry so much, that it will get easier, that I need to enjoy the moment for what it is, not what it wasn’t.

Back to our drive home from Louisville: A few songs later, another Pete Droge song came on. This one, “Lily Wants a Mountain.” The song is about a little girl, Lily, who, while looking at Mount Rainier, asks for a mountain. I used to change the words to this song, singing “Young Sophie, young Sophie, wants a mountain” instead of “Young Lily.” And I remember thinking how absurd it would be that Sophie would someday be old enough to ask for such a thing—to ask for anything—in a way other than crying.

But now, Sophie is the same age as Lily is in the song. And while she hasn’t asked for a mountain (yet) her daily requests include milk, cereal bars, “Maggie and the Ferocious Beast” on the computer, Tucker to move, Tucker to come, Tucker to stop running away while she gives him a doctor’s appointment, milk, a clementine, new panties, her water shoes, a gold crown, laughter from Owen, snuggles from me, Dad to come home, milk, a popsicle, errands (which, to her, include the park, the zoo and the children’s museum), a light on, a door opened, a glue stick cap unscrewed, yet more milk.

And today, we went to a preschool open house with a plan to enroll her (somewhere) this fall. When Ms. Susie asked her her name, she said “Sophie Olivia Uhl.” She said how old she was. She introduced her brothers. She asked to play. She counted beads and sorted colors and painted a picture. She looked at the fish and talked to the doves. She threw a fit when it was time to go.

She is very much the Lily in that song. And, looking back, I really did just go whichever way the wind blew. (I have twin boys now!) I just can’t believe it blew so fast.

“Music cleanses the understanding; inspires it, and lifts it into a realm which it would not reach if it were left to itself.” —Henry Ward Beecher