Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Quantum Calleigh Math (or Kidz Bop Purgatory)

McDonald's latest Happy Meal "toy" is a music CD of currently-popular songs remixed with kids screeching along with a 2nd rate artist in the lead. It's horrific in its own right. But Calleigh has found a way to torment her math-challenged Mom even more. Stay with me here...

We have maybe four of these CDs (let's say numbers 2, 3, 5 & 7). The numbers are printed on the sleeve and on the disk and Calleigh recognizes these numbers upon seeing them. She'll say, "let's listen to #3."

My car, my precious Honda CR-V, has a built-in, six-CD changer in the dash. You load one disk at a time and when you go to put in a new one, it just finds an opening within those 6 slots and pops it in for you. So you may put in Kidz Bop v.4 but it actually went into the #2 CD changer slot. (You with me so far?)

Calleigh is a detail-oriented little girl and on her good days, when she uses this gift for good and not evil, I pride myself in this and take credit for this attribute. Unfortunately, she's a child and doesn't understand the power she possesses. She also has an incredible sense of memory and after hearing one of these Kidz Bop CDs once, she knows the order of the songs. We'll be bopping down the road on the way to school to "Hey There Delilah" or "Beautiful Girls" and she'll (correctly) say, "is this song two?" (There are five songs on each CD.)

The final kicker in all of this is that I like to keep the "random" button on when I listen to CDs just to mix things up a bit and this was on the first time we listened to her music so in addition to remembering the slot number the disks are in versus their real, factory-issued number, I also have to manage the order and name of songs and remember the original, "random feature" order in which they were originally played for her.

So, in addition to navigating Nashville's notorious potholes and treacherous highways, avoiding crazy drivers, applying makeup and completing getting dressed, I'm working on complicated math on the way in each day. Here's a sample conversation from just yesterday:

Calleigh:  Is this disk 5?
Valerie: [looks at display screen and it's blinking "2."] Ummm....yes. Five.
Calleigh: Which song is this?
Valerie: [in process of merging and crossing 3 lanes of traffic] Well....[looks at display screen, song 001 is shown.] It looks like...I think this is song 4.
Calleigh:  No it's not. It's two.
Valerie: OK, it's two. Hey, remember when you used to watch movies in the car or read books?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

My New Favorite Website

Embrace the's my motto.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


This is The Dave Matthews Band (Dave Matthews is the guy on the right). More on them in a minute.

And this is a kid from Brentwood named Charlton.

Here's his obituary:

CRATZ, Charlton Tighe Age 16, surrounded by his loving family at home, entered Heaven, April 30, 2009 after a valiant 10 month fight with leukemia. Born in Danville, IL on September 26, 1992, he moved with his family to Brentwood, TN in 2004. He was a former student at Woodland Middle School where he played on the tennis team. He was a sophomore at Ravenwood High School. Charlton loved music, gaming on line, church youth group, the Cubs, the Predators, and his many devoted friends. His positive outlook on life inspired many people during his illness. He was a friend to all who met him. He will be remembered for his ever-present smile. The family expresses deep gratitude to all who have helped support us, and to his special nurses at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. Charlton is preceded in death by his grandfathers, Charlie Cratz and Larry Wells, and uncle, Bruce Cratz. His parents, Tammy and Brian; his brother Erik; grandmothers, June Cratz and Dolores Wells of Danville, IL and many aunts, uncles and cousins, survive him. Visitation was held Sunday, May 3rd at Brentwood Baptist Church, from 3-5 p.m. Dr. Michael L. Glenn conducted funeral services at 10 a.m. Monday, May 4, 2009 also at the church. Interment was at Christ Church Memorial Gardens. Memorial contributions may be made to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee, 209 - 10th Ave. South, Suite 527, Nashville, TN 37203; Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, Vanderbilt Gift Processing Office, PMB 407727, 2301 Vanderbilt Place, Nashville, TN 37240; or Brentwood Baptist Church Youth Ministry, 7777 Concord Rd., Brentwood, TN 37027.

And here's the "rest of the story," to quote the late, great Paul Harvey:

Charlton was diagnosed with a pretty aggressive form of leukemia. His time on this Earth was limited. He knew it. His parents and family knew it. The doctors and nurses knew it. The Make-A-Wish organization swooped in to help. Charlton's wish was to go to a DMB concert and possibly go backstage to see Dave and the guys in person. They flew him to a concert in New York and made a weekend out of it for him and his parents. Something happened, though, at the concert and although he enjoyed the show, he was not able to go backstage.

Fast forward and he's back at home in Brentwood now and in declining health. His days were numbered and dwindling; God was calling him home. Now there was a DMB concert coming to Nashville on April 25th. I don't have the details but the offer was made for him to go to this concert and make another go at his wish. His Mom had to turn the offer down, saying he was too sick and too weak to make the trek.

Dave got wind of this story. Following the show, he found out where Charlton lived and imagine the commotion as two huge tour buses pulled up in front of this kid's house with his rock idols standing on the front porch, ringing the door bell.

Now, I don't have the details of what happened in that living room that day but I know a little boy's dying wish was granted. Dave brought his guitar in and basically played a live, unplugged set for an audience of one. He played old favorites, he tried out some new stuff, he asked Charlton for requests. And when some of the other band members said, "hey, man, we probably need to get going," he replied, "not until Charlton has heard everything he wants to hear."

Five days later, Charlton made one last voyage but had a great memory to take with him, thanks to Dave Matthews.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What Would You Do?

I heard a story Friday of a local Nashvillian with an inspiring (and awe-inspiring) story. He's young(er), married, two kids. Was in med school when one of those "Road Closed - Detour" life moments popped up with the diagnosis of a brain tumor. He had several surgeries and the way it was left was, "there's still a tumor on your brain stem, we've done the best we can, it doesn't appear to be getting worse, so....good looking out, go back out there and do the best you can while you can." So, he shifted his career goal slightly to something still in the medical field but not quite so rigorous as med school and residency and all that and is just out there, well, living. And glad to be doing it.

This story struck me Friday as it was being told to me and it has stuck with me since. And the question that has played over and over for me is "what would I do if I were in his shoes?" Luckily, I'm in such a good place right now, I dare say I wouldn't change a thing. But what about you?