He Keeps Me Singing

I was a sad girl when I met Jack Pelham in November of 1998. My younger brother (and best friend) had died from cancer in July, and my grief was unbearable at times. Three months after my brother’s death, I left New York, my home of the previous 11 years, with its memories of several visits from him, and moved to Tennessee to be near my family. Jack Pelham had left Florida for a fresh start in Nashville the week before I arrived from New York. We met some time in the next few weeks when in rehearsals for a charity show that the church we both had joined would be doing at the Ryman Auditorium.

Jack was finishing up his 17 year Bachelor’s degree in Music from Florida State. For this particular show, he directed a small chorus and maybe did a solo or duet. I did some solo piano pieces. The following year we did the show at the Grand Ole Opry House, and either before or after I became a regular member of Jack’s chorus in Nashville. Unbeknownst to him, Jack was slowly filling up the huge hole in my heart left by the loss of my brother. Jack was putting music and singing back into my life.

But I was still lonely for a friend like my brother James had been. Someone who cared about ideas and wanted to read about and think about and talk about ideas. About truth. About goodness. About beauty. This church that we were a part of was a very busy church. More about that some other day. People who genuinely wanted to study out and dig deep into ideas were very rare in this group. In 1999, after a few months break from this busy church, I returned and met Kathryn. Kathryn was more than a decade my junior and had cystic fibrosis. You wouldn’t know it upon first meeting her until she told you about it. I remember her telling me her life-expectancy was 31 years. I found it interesting, as I told her, that she has known this her whole life, and my brother died at 31, not knowing his whole life that 31 was his final year. Kathryn was very real, very smart, and cared about truth. Kathryn didn’t let her “death sentence” stop her from living. Kathryn had also been dating Jack Pelham. They had recently broken up but were trying to work things out. Long story short….really! …. although Jack and I had known each other through the music ministry in the church, it was through our mutual friendship with Kathryn that we became friends. And through this I discovered that Jack was way more than a very good musician. He cared about real things like Kathryn did, like my brother James had. Whether or not I would have gotten to know this about Jack without having known Kathryn, I will never know, but I sure am glad Kathryn was there. I am digressing a bit, but really, Kathryn was a big part of restoring my sanity. And at some point when she saw it just wasn’t going to work for them, she said, “You know, you two should be together.” To which I replied, “Oh, that would just be weird.” She did give her blessing in person to Jack to pursue a relationship with me. Kathryn passed away at age 34 in 2011.

Home. One of the things that would come up in chats with Jack was wanting to find “home”. We would know we had found “the one” when we felt we were at home. I made a travel cassette tape (remember those?) for Jack in that first (and only) summer of our dating. A few of the selections had the theme of Home. Linda Ronstadt sang “feels like home to me, feels like I’m all the way back where I belong”; Shawn Colvin, “Home, that’s where I want to be….because I can’t tell one from the other, did I find you or you find me….out of all those kinds of people, you got a face with a view. And I am just an animal looking for a home to share the same space for a minute or two…” I felt that I had found Home. We cared about the same things. We wanted to keep learning and asking questions about our beliefs. He knew who Cousin Pearl was! I was so comfortable with him. There’s a lot of peace when you don’t have to work your brain trying to not talk about what you want to talk about. You know what I mean? Small talk wears me out.

Wishing to record a song for our 19th anniversary, I found sheet music for some of the home-themed songs I had put on that cassette of long ago, but the one I ended up choosing is a recent find through one of my piano students. Here is (the unedited-until-I-can-get-help-from-JackorJames, and certainly unenhanced version of) Runnin’ Home to You.

Runnin’ Home to You, words and music Benj Pasek and Justin Paul

I started singing with Jack in 1999, some of our Nashville choir joined us to sing at our 2002 wedding, and today we have our Freedom Choir. He began filling up that musical part of my heart 22 years ago, and he still keeps me singing all these years later. And thinking, and reading, and studying, and talking about all the true, good, and beautiful things of this life.

Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . . ~CS Lewis, “The Four Loves”

Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “Airman’s Odyssey”

Posted in Music, My Personal History | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on He Keeps Me Singing

Parents Aren’t Supposed to Bury Their Children

We buried our daughter on this day 15 years ago, the day after she had breathed her last in my mother’s arms. The funeral home hosted a visitation for family and friends, and then we all drove to the cemetery to hear words from her father, sing Amazing Grace, and then lower her little body into the ground. When I entered the room where her coffin was at the funeral home, I first saw my mother and father. I hugged my 88 year old dad as we cried together, and I said, “I know, Dad, parents aren’t supposed to bury their children.” My dad had suffered his own loss and buried his youngest child 8 years before. Our daughter is buried next to her Uncle James. Dad passed in 2015 and is resting beside his son and granddaughter.

On a visit with my Tennessee family in 2019 I took my usual tour of Leonard Cemetery, where many members of my Dad’s family are buried. On that visit I especially noted how many in my family have had to bury their children. I have not suffered alone. There in front of my paternal grandparents are the markers for their two infants that they lost at birth and their daughter who died at age 14. Next to my dad’s older sister Irene and her husband Will is their 4 year old daughter Linda. Dad’s younger sister Annise and her husband Vandal have their one-day old son Stephen next to them. Annise’s grandson, the son of her daughter Martha and husband Dwight, killed in a car accident just before his 21st birthday, is also there.

Is seems so wrong, doesn’t it? We feel that this is not the way it is supposed to be. Parents ought not have to bury their children. My dad had expressed this idea in his struggle with his youngest child’s cancer and eventual death. I knew he was reliving those feelings as we buried Grace, and it’s why I said what I did to him that day. Many things in this life don’t make sense to us, and so it is with our babies who are born unable to live long, like our Grace, my cousin Stephen Crawford, and uncles Hillman and Carl Davis, or children who die in tragic accidents, as my cousins Linda Bean and Joseph Smith did, or from sickness, such as the cancer that took my brother James at 31, and the virus that took my Aunt Olene at 14. But we survive and go on loving and caring for those still here. Perhaps we’ll understand it by and by.

The death of one that belongs to him is precious to the Lord.
~Psalm 116:15 ICB

“While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept, for I said, ‘Who knows whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’ But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”
~King David, at the death of his infant son, 2 Samuel 12:22,23

By and by, when the morning comes,
All the saints of God are gathering home.
We will tell the story of how we’ve overcome.
We will understand it better by and by.
~Charles Albert Tindley

Mouse over the photo gallery below.

Posted in My Personal History | Tagged , | Comments Off on Parents Aren’t Supposed to Bury Their Children

The Case of the Awesome Sister

Some time after I had started piano lessons at age 7, my mother asked my sister Karen, five years my senior, if she wanted to take lessons. Karen responded, “Why would a lawyer need to know how to play piano?” Karen was a huge Perry Mason fan, and lawyering was her goal at that point in her life. She ended up with a degree in journalism and lost the zeal along the way for having a law practice, but she remains a Mason fan, knowing all the TV episodes, as well as collecting the Erle Stanley Gardner novels. (By the way, Karen was writing and telling stories long before that journalism degree. She’s still writing and telling stories at her blog and other venues.)

I often spend the evening watching episodes of Perry Mason. I enjoy them for the stories, the settings, for recognizing actors in their early years guesting on an episode, and just for the good old style of television production, but mostly they make me feel near my big sister. I’ve been particularly fascinated recently with that theme music, so I took on the task of learning an arrangement of it to share for Karen’s special day.

Happy Birthday to the one who taught me to love the best in music, literature, and drama. And for always being there for me when I’ve got questions about Perry, or Andy, or John, or any stock cast member of old movies and TV. You are the best.

Posted in Music, My Personal History, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The Case of the Awesome Sister

What an Oldest Sister Can Do

Today my oldest of two sisters is 7 decades old. She has ten years on me, and since she married and moved to the other side of the country when she was 19, my childhood memories of her are very few. But I think even that far away sister had a great influence on who I grew to be.

My oldest sister was a reader, thinker, talker (and how!), and challenger from the time she could do any of those things. She was a child of the 50s and 60s when many traditional ideas and values were being turned upside down in the schools, in churches, in society, and among her same-age peers. Hearing stories about elementary-aged Rita responding to a teacher that was challenging her belief in Bible stories made a big impression on her littlest sister Kay.

On her wedding day in 1970, with our mother, Edna Davis, and Rita’s mother-in-law, Ann Watson

My oldest sister married Maurice Delwin Watson in August of 1970. I’m sure you can do the math and can determine that last year they celebrated their 50th anniversary. If my memory is still serving me right, they met when she was 15 and he was some months shy of his 17th birthday. He had come up with a group from his church in Texas, and she had crossed over the river from our Illinois home, to work in a summer campaign in Iowa, inviting people to church and to study the Bible. It was with the organization Campaigns for Christ, and one of their directors, Lloyd Deal, would end up officiating at their wedding 4 summers later. My sister and her husband have remained faithful to each other and to the Christ for whose cause they first met 55 years ago. I have no memory of meeting Del in the summer of ’66, although I heard he had visited our little house on the Illinois side of the river. What I do remember is visiting them in their homes in Colorado, Texas, (I missed visiting in their Oregon years), North Carolina, and Tennessee, and seeing the shelves of books, and hearing the discussions of “the Greek” and various translations of the Bible, and their efforts to get the people of their current church fellowship to study and think, and to care about studying and thinking. What I also saw was a couple faithful to each other and their children. Little Kay from age 9 saw and knew that this was exactly what she wanted. This is what big Kay got at 40. She waited because she saw what was possible, and she would have no less.

With their children and grandchildren at the end of 2011. I think 7 more have been added to the group since.
Forever lost. “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” is a particularly favorite of Mom’s to this day..

My oldest sister brought The Beatles and Petula Clark into our home — much to our mother’s chagrin. The Beatles’ album “With the Beatles” was hidden by Mom in our East Moline house, never to be found when we moved from that house. I believe she also put an end to the “Downtown” single. But guess what, Mom? I love The Beatles and Petula Clark! I often credit my older sister Karen with my love for music, but really, where would Karen and I be without Rita’s boldness in the 1960s? (And I don’t think that Rita especially cares for The Beatles anymore.) Rita was to me a groovy icon of the 60s. I thought she was beautiful. And groovy. She loved the folk songs of that time and still has that Mitchell/Baez soft vibrato in her singing voice. Rita sang in high school choir and college choir. All 5 of us ended up singing under G. Donald Dyer in high school. He was an excellent musician and teacher, and I’m grateful to Rita for leading the way. Mr. Dyer remembered all 5 of us, from the ’69 grad to the ’84 grad.

When it was all of us. Me at about 6; Rita at 16. My groovy big sister.

My oldest sister is also a visual artist. She took private art lessons in high school and has continued to sketch and paint through the years. She currently is owner/operator of “Grandpa’s House“, a store of handcrafted items from local artisans. She teaches classes in drawing and doodling. Yes, doodling. Along with marrying a fellow believer and student of the Bible, she also married a fellow artisan. Together they have remodeled (that seems too dainty a word for the work they’ve actually done) our ancestral home and turned it into its current state as a craft store, and what some have called a museum of rural life. And that’s all I’ve got to say about that because when it comes to being a visual artist, my oldest sister’s influence on me has been for me to look and admire but not to do. She’s good. Very good. I can’t draw a straight line, nor a curved one, at that. But I certainly appreciate the skill and work that goes into it.

My oldest sister made her baby sister’s wedding happen 32 years after her own wedding. Sure, I found the guy, but all that other stuff, oh, no. My oldest sister’s artistic skill runs far beyond painting a picture. I picked the music…and, yes, the guy. And my attendants. And the minister. But the rest the wedding and reception, including making the cake, were all my oldest sister. (Not to leave out my mother making my dress, my sister-in-law making the bridesmaids’ clothes, and my niece — Rita’s daughter — helping with planning and directing the ceremony. Yeah, I’m beyond blessed.) So, after persuading me to have my wedding in Tennessee (and not in Atlanta, where I was living at the time), she put it all together. Why? I guess that’s what oldest sisters do when they can, even when the baby sister is marrying at 40.

My oldest sister began homeschooling her youngest child, a son, when he was in 2nd grade in the mid 90s. I was a single woman living in NY, about 2 decades out from becoming a mother myself. I was concerned. Won’t he be isolated? (His older sisters were in high school at the time, and then off to college.) But then I realized between church, playing soccer, and other family activities, he had plenty of time being around others — kids and adults. As with that “socialization” concern, all others fell by the wayside as I witnessed my sister facilitating her son’s education. I knew before I even married that if I did have a child, I would homeschool. Without my sister’s example, which allowed me to enter the ‘homeschool world’, including getting to know other homeschool families, I wonder if homeschooling would have even crossed my radar. And what a blessing it has been to homeschool my own son from birth.

Family lore tells that in the late 50s, Mom would gather her 3 children after church to travel home, and she would count them “Eeny-Meeny-Miney, and there ain’t going to me no Mo.” Well, Mo was, and that would be me (and then our #5, brother James.) I’m glad there was Mo, and I’m glad there was Eeny. I wouldn’t be who I am without her.

Thank you, Rita.

Eeny and Mo, 2019
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What an Oldest Sister Can Do

On the Fifteenth Anniversary of Our Daughter’s Birth

Our daughter, Virginia Grace Pelham, was born February 3, 2006 and passed from this life three weeks later, almost to the very hour of her birth, on February 24, 2006. I’ve often written on social media and on this blog about her and the experience of being her mother for that brief time. You can click on ‘Virginia Grace’ under Tags to the right and see the memories I’ve shared here. This year I simply wanted to play this piece by Ravel to honor her short time on this planet and her continuing impact on our hearts and minds.

Posted in My Personal History | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on On the Fifteenth Anniversary of Our Daughter’s Birth


When I was not yet 18 years old, I was headed to college 12 hours away from home. I was excited about this. Not that I had not enjoyed my super secure home life with Mom, Dad, 3 older siblings, and one younger sibling, but I had this idea that I was headed somewhere where all would be right — peaceful and orderly. Up until that time, as I told Mom some time before my leaving home, I had only had real conflict with my siblings, and they wouldn’t be there. I could not imagine that I would not get along very well with roommates, classmates, and other friends. Yes, I was in for an awakening. Yes, I was naive. And I had been to public school K-12! My home-educated 17 year old son is more ‘woke’ (forgive me) than I was at that time.

I was headed to a Christian college. And here is the other element of my excitement and ultimate rude awakening. At 17 I just knew I was going to be around real, mature Christians (expectations including fellow students, faculty, administration, and whatever local church I would choose to attend). There would not be the squabbles that I personally witnessed and those I would hear from my parents, my dad being a regular attender of the ‘Men’s Business Meetings’, serving at various times as ‘Duty Roster’ maker (rooster would always come to mind when I heard Dad say that word), Treasurer (which involved typing those Financial Reports on his manual typewriter from the 40s — on which I also typed many a school term paper), and as an Elder of the church. I don’t know what all was going on in my teen-ager mind with trying to understand why these Christians, who were reading the same Bible I was, who had been baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, receiving the ‘gift of the Holy Spirit’, and living a new life, as I had 6 weeks before my 11th birthday, were acting as they were; but somehow I determined that the folks I would meet, live with, study under at that college in Tennessee would be different — more mature, more honest, more patient, and know how to argue a point without nearly descending into fisticuffs — oh, and getting mad and stomping off to join another group. Once again, I had my little eyes opened.

So there you have it. Kay at 17 about to begin, what has turned out so far to be, her next 42 years around many blocks of various sizes and styles. Always learning. Always growing.

Before my senior (half)year of high school. Stars in my eyes thinking about that Eden of Christian virtue to which I was headed when I finished this high school mess.
Early college, playing in a rock band! Reminder to me of some of my rude awakening at the behavior of “mature” Christians. Perhaps one day I’ll tell this story.
Posted in Character, My Personal History | Tagged , | Comments Off on Naive

The Block around which I’ve Beeeen

From time to time I comment that I have “been around the block enough to know”, so I am parking here a post that I will update when necessary, and link to whenever I catch myself making that comment, to list that geographical and cultural block around which I’ve beeeen (extra Es to force you to pronounce it that way in order to be like the cool Pelham kids).

As of today, January 24, 2021, if I have not forgotten any, I have been in 43 U.S. States, a resident of 9 of them, and visited 5 foreign countries, and 1 principality. Trust me, even the 9 states (we’ll save the number of cities/towns/villages in which I’ve resided within those 9 states for another day) represent vastly different cultures. People are just people in so many ways.

Outside the Palais Princier de Monaco, 1985. My one principality.
Posted in My Personal History | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on The Block around which I’ve Beeeen


When I lived in NYC, my friends and I liked to go to a Cuban/Chinese restaurant called La Caridad. It was cheap but very good food, and it had fast service. A long line out the door didn’t deter us; we knew it would move quickly. And there was a reason for that. Now, when my friends and I went out to eat, it was not just to eat but to have long talks. But that didn’t get to happen often at La Caridad. The servers would come by, see the empty plates, and say, “You done. You go.”

Sorry, no image with the lines out the door. When I went looking for an image for the post, I found articles reporting that La Caridad closed last year. Another covid restrictions casualty, I assume. It had been there for 52 years. I lived in NY from 1987-1998.

On the morning after our son James spent his first night in his “big boy bed” — which at first was mattress/box spring on floor without a frame — he hops out of bed around 5AM, comes into our bedroom and announces, “All done sleepin’!” And his Dad responds, “No, you’re not,” and escorts the toddler back to his room and into his bed.

Done. I am not done. Until my last breath is taken on this planet, I am not done here. Unless I become mentally incapacitated before that day comes, I am not done learning, I am not done changing. I am not done being a better person than I was the day before — kinder, more thoughtful, more patient, a better listener, a better communicator. I seek to know more because I want to be a better friend and teacher. Many put the books away — they are done! — after high school or college. I earned my last degree thirty-four years ago. I began teaching and working other jobs before that time. The books are still out. The conversations are still happening. I am still learning. I am not done.

Always learning. Always growing. Never done. Don’t you want to keep learning and growing, too?
Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Done

A Soldier Coming Home

“What it takes to survive war makes it so hard to survive living after war.”

Angelina Stanford

I am currently reading The Odyssey in a class with Angelina Stanford of House of Humane Letters. The stories and books we are reading this school year all use the journey motif and have characters on an identity quest. The Odyssey tells the ridiculous story of a soldier taking 10 years to return home from war. Ah, but is it really ridiculous? Angelina told us in class last week that she has had several old soldiers tell her that it is not at all outlandish to say that it could take 10 years for a warrior to adjust to civilian life. This is what is happening to Odysseus on his tangled journey home. He is learning about who he is and what he needs to be in order to return to his life as a son, a husband, a father, and a king in a time of peace.

Most of it is about letting go. Letting go of the Warrior and the quest for Glory in victory. In the different episodes of the story, we see Odysseus (and his men, when he still had them) reacting like soldiers and suffering consequences for it. They have to learn that the rules of the battlefield are not the same as in the rest of life’s arenas. Vaunting, a part of the Warrior’s code of glory, where the victor will shout out his name and homeland, causes Odysseus a lot of grief when he reveals himself to the cyclops Polyphemus, son of Poseidon. Not good to make the god of the sea mad when you’re headed home by sea.

Odysseus being tempted by the Sirens to return to past Glory

So just how hard is it for a soldier to stop being a soldier?

You’ve been trained and have consistently put into action — for years, at times — being on constant alert, being on the front line of defense, being the one expected to respond first. You knew who your comrades were, and that there definitely was an enemy and who that was. How does all that training work in civilian life? Odysseus and his men had spent 10 years in the war with Troy using as their battle tactic skirmishes with retreats to the beach. It had been their custom for 10 years. It doesn’t work out so well in a few of the episodes on their attempt to get home. They’ve got to stop thinking like soldiers. But how in the world do you get 10 years of the demand to think and act in this way out of your system?

And how do you get out of your memories the horrors that you saw? We used to call it shell-shock; now we have PTSD. I believe my WWII vet Dad had it. My Korean vet Uncle was treated for it pretty much up until his death in 2020 at the age of 92. The writers J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis both served as soldiers and saw horrific things in the Great War (WWI). While in the trenches in France, Lewis saw his comrade next to him blown to bits by an exploding shell, which put shrapnel in Lewis’ own body, sending him home from the war. How do you get over the horror of seeing this happen, and knowing that the same shell that killed the man next to you saved your own life for the moment by sending you home and away from the battles? Understanding what Tolkien and Lewis did and saw in war brings much more meaning to their stories of Middle Earth and Narnia.

My soldier dad, Bedford Davis, during WWII
Uncle George Ritter, veteran of the Korean conflict

Somehow the blind poet Homer understood. He knew that there are things a human has to go through to learn about who he is, who he ought to be, and how to get there — and he understood that this is an especially hard task for a warrior. So he told his story over and over, and if we are really thinking and allowing our hearts and minds to be transformed, we become more understanding of and of more assistance to those soldiers coming Home. Even when Home and civilian life outlasts Warrior life by 60 or 70 years.

Dad (upper right) and Uncle George (lower left) in the late1990s on civilian duty. (To be replaced if I ever find that @*%^ picture of them in the vet parade in 2000something.)
Posted in Character, History | Tagged , | Comments Off on A Soldier Coming Home

Why I want to teach Story, Rhyme, & Song

Our world is becoming more and more chaotic. Without getting into too much political theory, let me say that I believe that there are some who are glad to see this and are working for this culture of disorder. The story at the beginning of the Judeo-Christian scriptures, as well as other mythologies, tells of order (cosmos)being brought to chaos, and that this is a very lovely way to live and for a society to function. Why would anyone want it any other way? I’ll leave that for you to ponder.

In Al Pacino’s 1996 film “Looking for Richard”, he involves several American & British actors in discussions of Shakespeare’s play Richard III and in filming many scenes from the play. He also goes out to the street and interviews random people about their knowledge and thoughts about Shakespeare. From my memory (maybe one day I’ll hunt down the scene on my VHS tape) he talks to a man on the street who has the appearance of living on the streets. I remember that the dental work seemed to be lacking. But this guy spoke very eloquently. He spoke about how kids don’t have language anymore. He said maybe if they knew some Shakespeare, they would have words to express their feelings, and there would be less physical violence going on.

Words. Words with meaning. Phrases and sentences with rhythms to communicate clearly their meanings. Words and rhythms of stories and songs that touch our hearts, souls, and minds. Stories and songs of fiction. Stories and songs of history. Stories and songs of heroes. Stories and songs of the Everyman like you and me. They touch our Minds. We know we can be better —- kinder, more honest, more giving, more gracious. They touch our Hearts and Souls. We want to be better. We want to live in community where each part does its work and looks out for his neighbor as he does himself.

The guy on my old VHS is right —kids don’t know Shakespeare. Kids don’t even know standard nursery rhymes, folk songs, and folk tales. I’ve learned this through decades of teaching piano. I learned this as I listened in on my husband’s public speaking class for teens. As he was trying to find something they could relate to for whatever his purpose of the moment was, he listed song after song, tale after tale, rhyme after rhyme, and this table of about a dozen homeschool(!) kids said, “Nope, nope, nope, didn’t know it.” I’m over there thinking, What a waste of homeschooling!

My friend Angelina has a Master’s degree in Literature. (She dropped out of a PhD program, weary of an academic world that really doesn’t care about the material.) She teaches Literature classes to middle school, high school, and adults. She also hosts, along with her husband Thomas Banks and Cindy Rollins, a weekly podcast called The Literary Life. Angelina’s main mantra is Stories Will Save the World. I highly recommend going to the podcast and finding the episode on “Why Read Fairy Tales?”, as well as others of this general nature. You will find her on a few other podcasts speaking about the importance of story — fairy tales and myths. (For starters, see here and here.) She believes that a child needs a foundation of these stories. I love to hear her stories about the connections that her middle school students are making with other stories as they are understanding the elements of story under her instruction. And it doesn’t stop with story. They relate what they learn through story to what they see going on in the world around them. And having been transformed by story, they are resolved to live rightly in the world.

My friend Cindy raised and home-educated 9 children. She speaks of the poems that they read and memorized together, and how some of those poems have strengthened her adult children as they remembered phrases from the poems in their times of need. They began with nursery rhymes, as we did in our family. Many of the rhymes I will be doing with my pre-school class are ones that my husband and I chanted over and over with our son. “Diddle-Diddle-Dumplin’, my son John….”  So fun. So easy to learn and remember. Wonderful rhythms. And did you know that these rhythms aren’t just in poetry? You find them in prose and in the spoken word. I often notice the rhythm of my son and husband’s speech. They use a lot of triplets! These rhythms of rhyme and song get inside of you and help you to be a more effective communicator. It is not just about the right words but how you deliver those words. Who in the world wants to speak empty words to the wind? Don’t you want what you have to say matter?

When it comes to folk songs, in my world no one is more a champion of singing and singing these songs of work and play and history than my friend Wendi Capehart. Wendi is a founder and advisory member of the curriculum we have followed since my son was a toddler. (He will be a high school graduate in May.) AmblesideOnline has “folk songs” as part of the curriculum and gives monthly suggestions for your students to learn. Wendi often writes about the history and meaning of the songs on the Advisory blog. As I related in this post, her soulful rendition of “The Happy Wanderer” that she taught at the AO retreat was one of the most moving moments of that event for me. What singing does for a person has been well-documented. And singing in community is even better. Singing songs that bring joy just with their rhythms, singing songs that move us with their sad, cautionary tales, singing songs that tell of historical events that inspire us to be brave and stand for what is right.

Over these past several years I have been inspired by the words of Angelina, Cindy, and Wendi, and it occurred to me as I approach my retirement as a home-educator, that I want to be a part of filling this void in the life of the children around me, and where better to begin than with some of the youngest of the children. Thus was created from my heart — “Story, Rhyme, & Song” for 3 to 6 year olds. I’m really looking forward to this — part of this is fulfilling a wish to “do over” (with one child, I only got to do this once, and I’ve learned so much through these years). I’m hoping to inspire families to make these stories, rhymes, and songs part of their family life. We did, and I know it has had a huge impact on our life as a family and in our care about and work and communication with the world around us.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why I want to teach Story, Rhyme, & Song