Wednesday, April 30, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 28

We did some shopping during the day. One of the things we picked up was a water filter, as the new water we traded out for was equally as chlorinated.

I had a 6:30 show at the West Charleston Library in Vegas. Many library shows are in meeting rooms and sometimes even in the main part of the library itself for the smaller branches. This one had a good sized auditorium, with a stage and lights and seats and such. It ended up being a decent sized crowd, and boy were they energetic! Some of the craziest dancing I've ever seen, and there was some particularly frenetic toy clean up during "In the Box". I'm still not 100% recovered, but I was able to sing and perform with a lot more strength than yesterday.

During "Monster in My House" Roseann noticed one little boy who was hiding behind his mother's chair. She was concerned that he might be genuinely scared by the song (that doesn't happen very often, and my set up for the song helps to prevent that, but she tries to keep an eye out for the rare occasion where someone seems bothered). She went up to the mother and asked if he needed to know what the ending was so he wouldn't be so scared. She said that they were at one of my Vegas shows last year and they had that CD and he listens to that song at home all the time. But I didn't actually perform that song at that particular show last year, so apparently my monster sound (snoring) was just too scary in person. I may have to work on snoring more lightly. To that, Roseann says, "Yes!" but I don't think she's referring to my performance of that song...

We came back to the KOA and had dinner, then I put the girls to bed and we watched Cloverfield and American Idol before going to sleep. Roseann took Tiggy out for a walk and a random stray cat came up to play with him. Tiggy seemed to be enjoying the cat company at first, which is unusual for him, because he's just not a cat person, but then he got a little freaked out when the cat tried to pounce on him from behind. It was a really friendly cat, and once we brought Tiggy inside the other cat was sitting out there for quite a while saying, "Hello? Hello?" and "Come out!" I would swear he knows English, but those are the only phrases we could recognize... the rest sounded like variations of "meow".

Tiggy and the other cat...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 27

I had three shows this morning at a preschool in Henderson, and it was pretty rough going. Nothing to do with the venue or the kids... they were great and enjoyed the shows a lot... but I didn't realize how sick I still was until I got underway. My voice was still far from recovered and I was still pretty weak and didn't have too much energy. Luckily, they were three 20 minute sets, so it wasn't too demanding, time-wise. My voice got a little bit smoother after the first show, but even when I'm healthy, some of the notes on things like "The Elephant Song" test the high range of my voice, and today I felt like I failed that test. Roseann says that I'm being too hard on myself, that the shows went great and my voice sounded fine. I guess my perception of how things went as the performer doesn't really matter so much compared to how well the audience enjoyed the performance, so I was glad to at least be able to perform at all and know that the kids had fun with it, regardless of whether my voice was scratchy and "pitchy" or whatever. One thing I remember from a book on acting by the playwright/director David Mamet is that no matter how bad you think you might have been as a performer, if someone comes up afterwards and says what a great show they thought it was, you should just smile and say "thank you", because to say otherwise is to deny them their experience or to imply that they're not being sincere. Anyway, I try to remember that for cases like this.

We ran some errands on the way back and then the girls played together in their room while we watched Juno, which we really liked, and which happens to feature one of the great pioneers of kids' music, Barry Louis Polisar, performing the opening song.

Otherwise, we mostly hung out at the KOA and did computer stuff, had dinner, watched House, and changed out the water in our RV. We had filled it up at the last campground, but it had a really funny chlorinated taste. It was fine for washing dishes or brushing teeth, but was no good for making juice mixes. Even Tiggy wouldn't drink it, insisting on bottled water from the fridge. I don't blame him.

Monday, April 28, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 26

We drove from L.A. to Las Vegas today. That's kind of a weird stretch there... It's comprised of mostly desert area and passes through Baker, CA, which is a downright kooky place. As we were driving towards Baker we saw two signs for "The Tallest Mini-Mart in the World". We thought that was an odd thing to advertise. And then we saw another sign for "The Tallest Thermometer in the World". At this point, I knew we had to go there. You can imagine my disappointment when there was only the tallest thermometer in the world, erected in front of a normal sized mini-mart. It wasn't even connected. What a gyp! But we observed the temp at 96 degrees and moved on to another attraction, the Alien Fresh Jerky store, which boasted of clean restrooms. We were in awe of the cleanliness of the facilities and the alien jerky was pretty good. Tastes a lot like good ol' Earth beef.

We pulled into Vegas and Roseann and I both commented on how it felt like we were just here, although it's been about seven months. It was just a really weird feeling of familiarity. They even parked us in the same area at the Circus Circus KOA... well, a couple spots over, but it's a huge lot, so it's the same proximity to everything. It's a fun place here, and we're looking forward to doing some shows this week and seeing our friends.

They have a room with several computers and Becca and Evee were happy to get some computer time after we got here. They can play really well together for a long time with nothing but their imaginations, and that's a great ability to have when you travel a lot, but sometimes they miss their desktops at home where they can play some games and use some of their art software and such. So they'll get a little fix of that here. We put them to bed, watched a movie (Never Been Kissed, not bad for a chick-flick) and The Simpsons, and went to sleep.

The world's tallest thermometer and likely NOT the world's tallest mini-mart...

The Alien Fresh Jerky place, known for its clean restrooms...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 25

We went to a few different church buildings this morning until we found one where the meetings hadn't started yet. The first couple of places had small parking areas that were already full. We ended up at a place in Hollywood and two of the people Roseann talked with were from the Tri-Cities, and one was a guy she knew from high school. Small world and all that... Only Roseann and the girls went in, actually. I was still pretty sick and took the "day of rest" literally and got a good nap. I did go in briefly afterwards to get a blessing.

We drove back to the KOA and I was feeling a lot better, though still far from feeling "great", and we all went swimming. Roseann and the girls started off in the spa but I braved the regular pool, which wasn't too bad once I jumped in and swam around for a while. We're hoping that the girls can learn how to swim this year, and so we'll be working with them on that when we have good opportunities.

One of the great things about all of the places we travel is that we get to meet a lot of different people. Across the street from the KOA is a big racetrack, and we've heard the buzzing bee sounds of the cars racing there the past few days. Tonight at the pool we met a family who works as a pit crew for one of the racers. We had to explain to Becca that they were like Luigi and his team working for Lightning McQueen at the end of Cars... She thought that was pretty neat, especially when the guy gave her his official race team wristband.

After swimming, we came back to the bus and had some dinner and went to bed. Tomorrow we'll be headed to Las Vegas. It was really great to be here in the L.A. area this past week or so, and we look forward to coming back again next year or maybe even later this year.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 24

Our plans this morning were to get up and go to see the Justin Roberts concert at 11:45 at the LA Times Bookfest at UCLA, where I would meet up with him after the show for an interview. But when I woke up, the cold that had begun yesterday had exploded into a full blown "I ain't goin' nowhere" kind of thing. One of the worst colds I can remember having in recent years. Roseann said I was walking around like a zombie, well, when I was walking around... mostly I just wanted to lay down. And although there are probably a good number of zombies driving around L.A., I didn't want to add to their numbers. So I e-mailed Justin and told him "sorry, can't make it". I was really bummed, as there had already been a few times over the past few years that I've just missed hooking up with him at Seattle or Portland or somewhere else, where the timing wasn't quite right.

I took the girls out swimming and the sun felt nice, and then we came back to the RV where I had a nap and we caught up on some TV shows I had recorded, like Lost and CSI, while the girls played. And then there was a point at about 3 pm when I realized a few things... 1) I was feeling a little bit better 2) I was feeling really antsy staying inside the RV all day 3) Justin Roberts was scheduled for 2 sets that day, at 11:45 am and 5:30 pm. I took a shower and we were on our way. I was still feeling pretty sick, but my delirium had subsided so I was safe to drive.

The concert was a lot of fun. Justin is without a doubt one of the biggest and best kids' music performers out there now. He was actually one of the first people I had contacted years ago to ask for some advice about the kids' music world when it turned out a mutual friend of ours knew him from college. He graciously offered some advice and I really appreciated that. His band sounded terrific and he fit a good variety of songs from his different albums into a half hour set. Becca and Evee both had a great time, and Becca in particular was really smitten with Justin. She kept leaning over to excitedly tell Roseann, "He looked at me!" It was really cute. I think you can see how starstruck she was at meeting him in the second picture below...

I was too sick to do an interview, and I don't know if he had time after that set anyway, as he wasn't expecting me to be there at that time, but it was really cool to finally meet him and we'll be doing an interview at some point when it's more convenient.

We stopped for dinner and to do some shopping and then went back to the KOA to go to bed.

Friday, April 25, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 23

I performed two assemblies this morning at an elementary school in Palmdale. Both groups were really great. We had to hurry from there to get to Gorman where I performed for a group comprised of K-8 students. I've never done an assembly before for 7-8 graders so I was a little unsure of what to expect in terms of their participation and response. I decided to not try to encourage the older kids to participate, but rather just do my show and let them decide... the thought being that if they didn't feel pressured to participate, then they might actually do it. And that turned out to be the case, thankfully, and they had fun with it. I made sure to pick a couple of the oldest kids to help with certain volunteer things, and they were glad to oblige. At the beginning of my song, "No Big Deal", I was a little worried because about half of the kids remained seated and didn't want to get up and dance along. But I just shrugged it off and continued with the song, and I was glad to see as the song went on that more and more kids were getting up to dance. By the end of the song, there wasn't a kid in the whole room who wasn't dancing. I wasn't expecting that, but that was really cool.

I started to feel a cold coming on after the last show, and I have to knock on wood, because it seems like when we're traveling, I get really sick every now and then, but usually only when I've got a break from shows for a few days. That's the case right now, as my next show isn't until next Tuesday in Las Vegas. On one of our trips to Utah a couple years ago, I had 25 shows in 23 days, or something like that, and I got really sick at one point, losing my voice entirely, but it came on at the only point during that stretch when I had two days off, and my voice was back... barely, but good enough to perform... in time for the next show. It's like my body knows, okay, now's the time... let the virus through!

We stopped for dinner and then had a long drive back to the KOA, where we hung out for a while before going to bed.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 22

We drove into L.A., where I had two shows at The Grove, which is a really nice outdoor park within a very nice shopping plaza. The first show was very crowded and went really well, but Jessica, my contact there, warned me that the crowds for the second shows are usually a lot smaller and less enthusiastic, and that was definitely the case. It wasn't my best performance, either, by any means, and I had a little trouble keeping the energy up among a more sporadic crowd. There was also an unfortunate timing choice... There is a fountain right behind the stage area, and every half hour there is a streaming fountain show accompanied by music, which is pretty loud. Performers start their sets right after the fountain show at the top of the hour, but you're kind of left to deal with it at the 30 minute point. In my first show, I was doing a loud enough and very active song, and though the music from the fountain show could be heard a little bit underneath that, it was barely noticeable and not really a factor. But in the second show, I decided to do Joe Scruggs' "The Bicycle Song" at a certain point, not realizing that the fountain show was just about to start. That song involves three volunteers playing along with me on bicycle horns, and it is just me and a guitar, with a lot of starts and stops between the different parts. I just barely started the first chord of the song when suddenly a Donna Summer disco song starts blasting behind me for the fountain show. There was really nothing I could do but get through the song like that, as distracting as it was... Any other song and I might have just scrapped it and started something else, but I had already chosen the volunteers and done the whole set up for the song.

Another... um... amusing thing about that song was that someone's little lhasa apso dog was barking along with me during the whole song. It was distracting at first to hear the yapping, but then I realized that the dog was barking almost perfectly with the beat the whole time. What a great musical gift! Unfortunately, the dog was not available to join me on my tour, and that's probably just as well for Tiggy's sake. He's not really an animal person, he's more of a people person.

So the second show wasn't ideal, but there was some fun moments, like when a guy who was probably about 70 years old was one of the winners of the "Ants in Your Pants" dance contest. He was really boogying down! Roseann described his dancing as "Bill Cosby meets Fred Astaire". It was also really great that David Tobocman and his family came out for the show. I covered David recently on my blog and his debut kids' album is a favorite of ours. He and his wife, KC, seem to have a similar dynamic as Roseann and I in terms of how they work together, and we all chatted for a while after the show, though I regret that we couldn't talk longer. Becca sang some of his "Home" song for him, and then he obliged her by singing the rest, and she recognized his voice.

We drove around for a while in L.A., then went out to stay at an RV park in Lancaster, which is near Palmdale where I have assemblies tomorrow morning.

Sorry that it took so long to get this post and the last one up. We're doing pretty well as far as writing these journal entries every night or at the earliest possible time the next day, but sometimes we're without wifi or have to hurry in the morning to get somewhere and can't post right away. In any case, we'll catch up with everything before too long if we're ever behind...

Demonstrating my levitation ability at The Grove...

With David Tobocman...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 21

We got up early to start driving to Ventura. As we were about ready to go, Tiggy suddenly raced up on the dashboard, his tail fuzzed out, his eyes bulging out, his teeth in a vicious snarl... We looked back and noticed that Becca had woken up and peeked out of the back wearing her Mickey Mouse ears hat. This was apparently an extremely unsettling thing for Tiggy. We had to have Becca take off the hat and explained to Tiggy that it was just Becca and that no, she hadn't turned into a giant mouse. Roseann wanted to take a picture while he was still hissing with his ears back, but he had already calmed down somewhat by the time the picture below was taken.

I did a show for the Kids' Club at the Pacific View Mall in Ventura and it was a big crowd and a really fun show. The sound in a big mall food court was a bit echoey, as expected, but it was okay and everybody could understand what I was saying. The guy who runs that, Ron Merkin, has been doing kids' club programs for over 20 years now, which is very impressive. I was thrilled when he said my show was one of the best he's had there. Apparently, he was one of the first people promoting "kids' club" events at malls like that, and it's become a pretty regular thing around the country. That's not the type of venue I've typically been seeking out, but after that show I'll definitely look into doing more of those in the coming years.

We got up early to start driving to Ventura. As we were about ready to go, Tiggy suddenly raced up on the dashboard, his tail fuzzed out, his eyes bulging out, his teeth in a vicious snarl... We looked back and noticed that Becca had woken up and peeked out of the back wearing her Mickey Mouse ears hat. This was apparently an extremely unsettling thing for Tiggy. We had to have Becca take off the hat and explained to Tiggy that it was just Becca and that no, she hadn't turned into a giant mouse. Roseann wanted to take a picture while he was still hissing with his ears back, but he had already calmed down somewhat by the time the picture below was taken.

I did a show for the Kids' Club at the Pacific View Mall in Ventura and it was a big crowd and a really fun show. The sound in a big mall food court was a bit echoey, as expected, but it was okay and everybody could understand what I was saying. The guy who runs that, Ron Merkin, has been doing kids' club programs for over 20 years now, which is very impressive. I was thrilled when he said my show was one of the best he's had there. Apparently, he was one of the first people promoting "kids' club" events at malls like that, and it's become a pretty regular thing around the country. That's not the type of venue I've typically been seeking out, but after that show I'll definitely look into doing more of those in the coming years.

We drove from Ventura into the Beverly Hills area to drop some CDs off at a cool kids' bookstore called Storyopolis, that Gwendolyn had told us to check out. They do kids' concerts there from time to time. From there, we drove around the area a little bit and noticed things like the Hollywood sign, the Paramount Studios lot, and other Hollywood landmarks. I don't know if that really counts as "sightseeing", but they were some sights, and we saw them, so... I'm sure we'll do a little more of that over the next few days. I recall taking the Universal Studios tour with my father when we came out here many years ago, and that was cool, but I'm not sure if our girls would appreciate that kind of thing so much yet.

We drove back to the KOA and the girls and I went swimming (well, in the spa... the pool was too cold!), and then we had dinner and went to bed.

Tiggy coming down from his freaked-out fuzziness...

Performing at the Pacific View Mall Kids' Club...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 20

Disneyland was awesome! We all had a really great time. We went on a bunch of cool rides... our favorite was the Buzz Lightyear ride, where you get to shoot at Zurg and his alien army. The girls got to meet Mickey Mouse and Pluto. Unfortunately, we just missed meeting Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, who had to break for lunch, and Buzz Lightyear, who was supposed to come out to meet everyone at 3:45 but never showed up (some problem with his rocket boots, apparently). The lines weren't bad at all, though we did want to go on the Finding Nemo submarine ride, but decided against it with an hour wait. The girls definitely loved being there and their endurance was amazing... Evee only asked to be carried twice for a short time, which was far less times than I asked to be carried.

We did have a negative experience in the Haunted Mansion... I had seen it on the map and said, "Hey, cool... a haunted mansion." Becca was very excited to go in there, but then when a lady on the train ride described it as being pretty scary for young kids, we tried to dissuade Becca. We weren't that worried about Evee... she's more apt to laugh at being caught off guard, but we knew Becca could get pretty upset at loud noises or sudden jolts, especially in the dark. And sure enough, that's exactly what happened... (spoiler alert) At the beginning, everyone walks into a room, which then appears to be sinking, or the ceiling raising up (you're in an elevator, essentially), and then everything goes suddenly dark and there are loud thunder claps with lightning and everyone screams. Becca was definitely freaked out and was crying. We tried to console her best we could and explain how it was just a show. She calmed down a little, but then when we got into the car to go for the main part of the ride, she sat on my lap and when they lowered the bar it was really tight and it felt like Becca was being crushed. I was sucking in my gut best I could to give her room and yelled for them to lift it off of us, which they did. She was fine, thankfully, but it gave us a good opportunity to bail out of the ride and leave through the side exit. She was still upset for a few minutes once we got outside, but then she was fine. Evee said, "I wasn't scary of the ride." We think that meant she wanted to go on the rest of the ride... she was fine the whole time. But regardless, we thought it best to avoid that and go on the Winnie the Pooh ride next. The Heffalump/Woozle part was a little scary for me, but the girls did fine with that.

LeAnn and Catarina joined us later and we had dinner and went on some more rides, including the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. LeAnn talked Becca through the potentially scary parts of that, and she was okay for that one, though her impression of pirates is a little different now compared to her view of pirates like Captain Feathersword. That was my favorite ride when I went to Disneyworld as a kid, but of course they've updated it to include scenes from the recent films. I was impressed with the detail of the sets and the animatronics. I would have sworn it was really Johnny Depp in there... I wonder what they pay him to sit in there all day?

We ended up leaving at about 8 and said our goodbyes to LeAnn and Catarina. It was great to see them and we hope to be able to come back this way every year or so to hang out some more with them. I have to add a special thanks to Danny's mother, Diane, for getting us the passes. That was really great. We probably wouldn't have been able to go, otherwise, and it allowed us to get some nice souvenirs, including the cool mouse ears + tail hats that the girls are sporting in some of the pictures below.

We drove to the L.A. KOA, and I thought that my beloved GPS had failed me, because it brought us to a neighborhood that was definitely not a safe place to have a KOA. But it turned out that I had mistyped the address, so after some driving around to find an internet connection to check the right address, we got to the right place. We told the girls to go back to their bed and lay down, expecting to go back there in a few minutes to do the bedtime routine (story, song, prayer, hugs, etc.), but when I went back there they were both sound asleep and snoring pretty heavily. It was a long day, but a whole lot of fun.

Lots of pictures today. Here are a few... LeAnn took some others that I'll add later.

Monday, April 21, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 19

I did assembly programs this morning at John Kelly Elementary in Thermal. There were two shows, split between grades 3-6 and K-2, and each group was packed into a smallish cafeteria space that got really hot. But everybody was very enthusiastic, especially considering the heat.

I was pretty wiped out after those shows, though, and was grateful to be able to get a nap when we took the RV to get some brake work done. It had been a couple years since we replaced the whole brake system and I could tell we needed new brake pads and the rotors resurfaced and such, in particular after those crazy hills in San Francisco.

We drove back to LeAnn's and did some laundry and got the girls to bed early so they'd be rested up for Disneyland tomorrow.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 18

We got up early and went to church today. We chose a location sort of arbitrarily based on the parking lot size we saw from the Google satellite pictures of some different possibilities... when you travel in a motorhome, parking is often an important factor to consider. It was a fairly small group there but they were really friendly. Our last name sounded very much like the last name of someone else there, so when people greeted us and asked our name, they assumed we were related to each other and visiting for the other family's son's baptism, which was scheduled for after the church meetings. We ended up going to that afterwards anyway, which is always nice to see.

As a guy got up to lead a song during the sacrament meeting, a nice lady behind us who had been chatting with us earlier asked Roseann if she knew Michael McLean. She said, "No, but I've met John Canaan". The lady said, "Oh, well Michael McLean writes wonderful music..." and she was gesturing towards the guy who was speaking to the congregation. Roseann clarified that she knew who Michael McLean is, but didn't know him personally, and then asked, "Does that guy work with him or something?" The lady laughed and said, "No, that's him." Roseann was a little embarrassed. See, in our church, Michael McLean is about as well-known around the world as Wayne Gretzky is known to hockey fans. He's a hugely beloved songwriter and recording artist in the inspirational music genre, and has also written musicals and a very popular traveling Christmas show called The Forgotten Carols, which Roseann is a big fan of. I'm not as familiar with his music as Roseann is, but I wasn't raised in the church like she was. Regardless, I've heard several of his songs in various settings and church videos over the years, and he writes very beautiful and memorable songs and is incredibly talented. He ended up greeting me after our gospel doctrine class, and I really enjoyed talking with him. Once he found out what I did, it became a problem, though, because I kept wanting to ask him about his music and career, and he kept wanting to ask about what I do. One thing I hadn't expected was how funny he is... The music he is primarily known for, at least from my perception, is more of the sentimental, heart-tugging inspirational ballad type. But he was like the class clown there, throwing in several witty quips throughout the meetings. And of course when you're a guy like that they're gonna use your piano/singing chops every chance they can, which meant that we got to hear him lead everyone in a great version of "I Am a Child of God", and also noodling beautifully on "Amazing Grace" and singing one of his originals, "You Know I Believe in You" during the baptism program. Anyway, that was totally unexpected but he was incredibly friendly and I hope we have a chance to cross paths again someday. He was eager to meet Roseann and the girls later at the baptism, which was good because Roseann had really wanted to meet him, too... even if she didn't recognize him by sight earlier.

We called and wished my mother a happy birthday, and Evee sang the song for her nice and loud. She was impressed by how on pitch it was... Ev is really coming along! We took care of a few other things out that way and then drove for a couple hours to an RV park close to Thermal, where I have some school assemblies tomorrow morning. We had some dinner, put the girls to bed, watched the ending of a movie (The Last Samurai) we had started months ago, and now we're going to bed.

Sorry, no pictures today... Even if I knew Michael McLean was going to be there and had brought my camera in, I think it would have felt a little awkward to try to get a photo with him at church.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 17

I had a show today at the Glen Avon library in Riverside. When I booked the show months ago, my contact there, Shirley, had called back and talked to Roseann to say that my show was scheduled in place of their usual bilingual storytime, and might I be able to do some kind of Spanish song? And also, might I do something to give a plug to the upcoming Catch the Reading Bug summer reading program? Roseann told her I could probably learn "La Cucaracha", which would cover both things, and I thought, sure, that's fine. But I didn't give much thought to that again until this past week when I checked my notes for that show and realized, um, I've got to learn "La Cucaracha". I went online and surprisingly had a tough time finding the right lyrics for that... apparently there are a few different versions of that, some of which involve smoking marijuana and other things not exactly fit for an audience of kids. But in any case, I got the words and practiced, with Roseann coaching me on my pronunciation (Spanish is not a language I can pronounce all that well...). I sang it over and over in the shower before the show and figured I had it down alright, and we had made up our own simple verse in English for the bridge part that I felt pretty confident about.

When we got to the library, I met Shirley, and when I told her that I learned "La Cucaracha", she said, "Oh, we actually have someone coming in another day to do a bilingual thing in place of today, so you don't need to do anything different than your regular show." I really should have taken her up on that, but at that point I felt like, eh, I learned it, I might as well do it. It turned out to be quite a mess, though... Of the four times I went through the main verse I got the words and pronunciation right maybe once. I really hope I didn't end up saying something inappropriate by accident through a mispronunciation. I remembered the words okay for the English bridge part, but I totally missed the notes and though I kept my smile throughout, I was cringing inside and I could see Roseann cringing on the outside and shaking her head in disbelief. I had also tried to incorporate some kind of audience participation thing by setting up the song and saying that whenever you see a cockroach, you have to do "the cockroach dance", meaning you stomp really hard on the floor. This was supposed to be some kind of "cha cha cha" thing to put a button after every verse line, but I was having so much trouble making sure I was remembering and pronouncing the words right that I really couldn't demonstrate that sufficiently for the kids to follow. It ended up being a bunch of random stomping, which may have actually covered up some of my horrible performance of the song, so I guess it might have worked out okay.

Other than that... the show went very well. It was a very small audience, maybe 20-25 kids, but they were a fun group. Shirley said that in her 11 years of doing kids' programs that it was one of the best shows she'd seen, so that made me very happy. She must have left the room for "La Cucaracha", I guess...

After the show we went back to LeAnn's and Danny cooked some barbecue Crabby Patties (hamburgers), which were very good. The girls played for a while and watched the movie Robots (an underrated movie that compares to Pixar's films, in my opinion). Roseann and LeAnn went out shopping for a while and worked on some stuff at home while I put the girls to bed.

Apparently, sometime today some neighborhood kids started beating up on the RV... We ended up with a baseball sized dent in the top side corner and another baseball sized split in the spare tire's vinyl cover. LeAnn is pretty sure she knows which kids did it and is going to talk to their parents about it. It'll probably be about $30 to replace the vinyl cover and another $30 for a fiberglass repair kit for the dent, and then we'll have to recover that with some of the leftover vinyl sticker pieces we have. I guess it could have been worse...

On a final note, today was the debut of our new GPS unit (a Tom Tom One which we got from for $140), and I have to say... I really wish I had this thing three years ago when we first started driving around to do shows. I love it! I was toying with the idea of getting the voice module where John Cleese insults you, or the Stephen Hawking voice, but we just went with one of the free lady voices. That'll have to do for now... I really like how I can be somewhere and veer off of the path to drive around aimlessly looking for a pizza place or whatever, and not really have to worry about finding my way back, because it will always find a way to get me there. Sweet!

One of the non-"La Cucaracha" moments of the show...

Friday, April 18, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 16

Bad news = we didn't go to Disneyland today
Very bad news = we lost our cat, Tiggy
Good news = we're going to Disneyland Tuesday, instead, and will have much more time that day to spend there
Very good news = we found Tiggy

So we were all set to go to Disneyland once LeAnn got home from work at 3. But at about noon, one of the girls had gone outside to the back yard, leaving the back door open, and we noticed right after that point that Tiggy wasn't around. Yesterday, he had gone out to the back yard and was able to jump up onto a ledge and over the fence. We found him rubbing on the ground under the boat parked in the neighbor's driveway. So we were trying to be more careful about making sure that he stayed in the house when we brought him in.

But today when that happened he was nowhere to be found, and we were very worried that he had taken off a little too far and didn't know his way back, or was chased or attacked by one of the many dogs in the neighborhood, or was grabbed by somebody. We looked everywhere in the house and in the surrounding yards and it was pretty clear that he was gone. After a couple hours had passed, we reported him lost through his microchip service and made up some small flyers to hand out to the neighbors (see below). We figured (hoped) that he was camped out and having a nap under a bush in some neighbor's yard.

This whole process took us well into the time after LeAnn had come home, and we all figured with the limited time we had as it was, and with our concern for Tiggy, that Disneyland probably wasn't going to be a great idea for tonight. I shouldn't have told the girls earlier that we would be going there today (Roseann warned me not to say anything until we were there... 'cause things like this tend to happen once you've made your kids aware of the plans), but they were okay with going on Tuesday instead, especially when I explained that we could spend the whole day there instead of just a few hours.

So it was around five o' clock and we were about to print out some more flyers to get to some of the nearby houses that we had missed, when all of a sudden we heard Becca yell, "Tiggy!" We ran into the other room and there he was, stretching out after having had a nice long and relaxing nap behind the couch. I had even looked there at one point, but he must have been in a position where I didn't see him from where I was looking. He was so nonchalant, as if nothing had ever happened. Well, he's pretty nonchalant, regardless, but still... We were very happy to see him, of course, but I also felt kind of upset with him, as in, how could you put us through all that worry?? His answer to that being, what are you talking about?! I was having a nap! I was perfectly safe the whole time! I had to admit that he had me there...

This experience gave us the chance to reinforce to the girls our training for always being aware of where we are and what our boundaries are. They know that very well, but Tiggy doesn't always follow the rules, so we have to be extra careful to keep an eye on where he is, which isn't always easy when he's crashed out behind a couch.

The girls all went out to buy some shoes and I stayed behind to plug some upcoming addresses into our new GPS unit. We'll never get lost again, right?? We put the girls to bed and then played a game of Sequence with LeAnn and Danny while watching Sweeney Todd. It is one of my favorite musicals, as dark as it is, but they did kind of gore it up a bit for the film version. We needed a Scrubs follow up after that before going to bed. While we were watching the movie, our never-really-lost-but-found cat, Tiggy, enjoyed himself thoroughly by playing a game of "bat at the fishtank".

Our flyer for Tiggy... (He doesn't really need meds, but Roseann says that's a good way to make sure he will get turned in if somebody found him thinking, "ooh, free cat!" and wanted to keep him, because meds are not free.)

The girls in the car on the way to buy shoes. They'd probably rather be at Disneyland...

Tiggy playing "bat at the fishtank"...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 15

Not too much to report today... We stayed at LeAnn's while she and Danny were at work and relaxed and did some work while the girls played. At one point, they had made a pretty big mess of toys in the TV room and we said, "okay, now you've got to clean everything up". We expected that we'd have to help somewhat with that once they got started, but I was really impressed with how well they cleaned it all and remembered where to put things. They're getting very good at that.

LeAnn got home with Catarina, who had been at her Gramma's, and the girls played together and went swimming. I had taken a picture of them all together, but realized later that I really don't feel comfortable posting a picture of my girls in swimsuits to MySpace. Nuff said... I'm sure I'll get plenty of pictures of them all together over the next few days.

We watched Survivor with LeAnn... We don't usually watch that, but it's her favorite show and we enjoyed it. We put the girls to bed, then watched The Office and 30 Rock and went to sleep ourselves. Disneyland tomorrow!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 14

We drove from Visalia to L.A., where we met up with Gwendolyn and Brandon from Gwendolyn and the Good Time Gang at an ice cream place. To say that our girls were excited would be an understatement... I would say that Gwendolyn and Frances England are equally their favorites in terms of their music, but they've seen Gwendolyn a lot more on videos and on her DVD, so I think they had a much bigger "starstruck" kind of feeling upon seeing and recognizing her. They had the same kind of "I want to tell you everything!" reaction that they had when meeting Frances England, but seemed to have a much harder time articulating that at first, which was cute to watch. I happen to think Gwendolyn's music is incredibly awesome, too, and I was so grateful to meet with her. She is really sweet and I was especially glad that Brandon (Gwendolyn's husband, co-producer and drummer) came along, too, as I had really wanted to meet him as well and ask him some questions in particular about how they work together and about his experiences as part of the group and as a producer. It also helped that he was there to answer some of the questions I had for Gwendolyn while she and Becca had their own conversation going on. I sure wasn't going to interrupt that for the sake of my little interview.

From there we drove to Moreno Valley, where Roseann's sister, LeAnn, lives with her family. The girls played with LeAnn's 4 year-old daughter, Catarina, while I hung out with her husband, Danny. Roseann and LeAnn went to do some shopping and to catch up on things... it's been a few years since they'd seen each other. LeAnn told Roseann that she thought it was cute how excited I got when she told me that we could go to Disneyland on Friday. She has a number of passes and they only live about 45 minutes away. My excitement was really a kind of gratitude for my girls' sake, because taking them somewhere like that would be a real treat for them. It was something we were hoping to do in the next year or two, but with the reports of my friend Phil from his trip there last year about how expensive everything is, I really didn't expect us to be able to afford that now, especially with gas prices making our income from this trip less than it would have been otherwise. We won't be able to go there until about 3 or 4 pm after LeAnn gets out of work, so we'll only have about 5 or 6 hours to spend there, but still, we'll be at Disneyland... How cool is that?! I still remember a family motorhome trip to Disneyworld when I was about 7 or 8 being a real highlight of my childhood, so I'm glad that we can add that to our girls' future memories.

We were able to bring Tiggy in to LeAnn's house, as there are no dogs here or cat allergies to worry about or anything, and he really enjoyed having a nice sized space to roam around in. However, Catarina quickly took a big shine to him and ended up chasing him around, so it became a bit of a cat-and-mouse game, with Catarina as the cat and Tiggy as the mouse! After a while, he was exhausted and I took him back out to the bus.

The girls with Gwendolyn and Brandon...

Becca and Evee playing with Catarina...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 13

We drove to Napa this morning where I had a school assembly scheduled. Before going to the school, we went to a nice park and met up with Tito Uquillas, the singer/guitarist/songwriter with the super cool kid rock band, The Hipwaders. Tito and his family live nearby in Vacaville. I had contacted Tito last week at the same time as Frances England and Gunnar Madsen and he laughed when he saw the recent blog post about them as he has been in contact with both of them a lot lately as well. But more of a synchronous connection for our meeting is that Tito has a brother and sister, and their names are... Eric and Roseann.

Tito's son, Declan, came along and played with Becca and Evee at the playground while we talked. Unfortunately, we didn't have the clearest directions as to where we would meet and hooked up later than we wanted to, which didn't leave much time for an interview. But Tito and Declan came along to my school assembly, so we got to hang out and talk a lot more before and after that. He's a really great guy and we very much enjoyed the chance to get to know him better. Once again, the interview will be over at my blog at some point in the semi-near future, once I can get everything transcribed.

The assembly was part of a pep rally of sorts for a school of 2-6 graders, encouraging them to do their best on their upcoming tests. I did my "Say Yes!!! to Life" program, which includes a lot of the fun and interactive songs that I would do for a normal concert show, but which has a theme and some talking point segments about how we are what we eat, do, say, think and ultimately choose in life, and how those choices affect us and others. I was asked to add in some encouragement for studying and doing well on the upcoming tests, so I added some emphasis on that to the "you are what you do" and "you are what you choose" segments, about how being prepared ahead of time helps us be ready for facing whatever comes at us in life, and how the better our grades are, the more opportunities and choices we'll have for what we want to do with our lives. I realized later that I should probably just keep that stuff in the show, anyway. That program has become pretty solidly scripted at this point, but I'm always happy to tweak things or add things that can make the message or performance stronger.

The students were very enthusiastic and were already quite keyed up from the pre-assembly rally stuff they did, so in one sense that's great because they were already in a receptive mood before I started, but it also took longer than usual to quiet them all down after each song. Of all the shows I've done the past few years where I've ended with "This Little Light of Mine" (which is many of them), I don't know that I've ever heard an audience sing along as loudly as this group did. I stopped singing after a while and let them take it themselves and it sounded really nice. After the show, several students came up to meet me and one of them asked me if I was really related to Dr. Seuss. Apparently, some kid was going around telling everybody that I was. To set the record straight, no, I am not related to Mr. Geisel (aka Seuss), though I certainly hope I have some of the same spirit.

From Napa we drove over to Fairfield, where we met with a good friend of Roseann's named Harli. Harli is a unique kind of artist, and one of the things she specializes in is custom My Little Ponies, with some decorative paint jobs and accessories. Of course, my girls were very interested in checking out her very large collection, but we were careful to make a distinction between "looking at" ponies and "playing with" ponies (which included one each that Harli gave to the girls). We also liked meeting Harli's four cats, three rats, cockatiel and fishes.

From there we drove a few hours to a KOA in Visalia, CA, where we spent the night.

With Tito Uquillas at the park...

At the school assembly...

Becca and Evee showing off their new Hipwaders shirts and Ponies...

A picture Tito took of us in front of the bus...

Monday, April 14, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 12

We spent some time enjoying the KOA today, which we pretty much had to ourselves since everyone cleared out after the weekend. We played on the playground and made a couple of trips to the petting farm area, where we petted some donkeys and goats. Evee touched a cow's nose and it was slimy. It was a good thing we had some of the nice Clean Well hand sanitizer that Rebecca from the Interactive Learning Theater gave us samples of yesterday. It's cool stuff and doesn't have any alcohol like Germ-X and other types do, so it's very kid friendly and smells really good.

We drove out to Petaluma proper
to do some errands and stopped at a bank, a post office, another bank, a fruit stand and Goodwill, where the girls spent some of the recent money they've earned to buy a toy each. Driving up to the fruit stand we pulled in front of a neighboring house to park and I saw a guy come out and yell "Hey!" After the thing the other night with the lady knocking on the door and hearing some stories from various people about parking spaces in the Bay area being hotly defended, I assumed he was gesturing for me to get out of there, so I moved over to a space that became available closer to the fruit stand. I noticed in the side view mirror that he was still walking towards us and yelling, "Hey!" It turned out that he just really loved the cartoon wrap on the bus and wanted to talk about graphic work that he does and stuff like that.

Then we had dinner at Applebee's, where Evee ate everything on her plate and everything she could get her hands on from the rest of our plates. She also ate all of her lunch earlier and half of Mommy's tuna sandwich. Wow! Growth spurt, maybe?

We came back to the KOA and I put the girls to bed, reading The Cat in the Hat Comes Back for their bedtime story. (spoiler alert) As sequels go, it's pretty solid and comparable in quality to the original, but the idea of all of those cats residing inside each of the other's hats really stretches the bounds of plausibility, at least as depicted in the illustrations.

I've got to give a plug here for our good friend and colleague, Mr. Billy, who just announced preorders for his next CD, Six Leg Songs. In addition to including a lot of fun tunes, the CD also sports a cover with some artwork by my very own Roseann.

The girls playing at the KOA playground...

Mr. Billy's Six Leg Songs cover...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 11

We drove into San Francisco (flat roads all the way!), where I had a gig at the Richmond Recreation Center. The show was on behalf of the Interactive Learning Theater of San Francisco, which produces regular events with specific themes for toddlers and preschoolers. I was asked if I could do a show with the subject of manners. I was a little hesitant to take the gig initially, as it wasn't my usual age range for a show that would involve a theme of any kind. My themed school assembly programs are meant specifically for elementary kids and work great in that context, but the attention span of a toddler is quite different than even a kindergartener's, much less a fourth or fifth grader's. But in talking with my contact from the event, Rebecca, who was really nice and very eager to have me there, we decided that it might work out if I did a few songs from my usual kind of fun concert show, then did a few songs to address the theme, then ended with a few more songs outside of the theme. I agreed to try that, and we came up with the plan of using Becca's Thumbs Up/Thumbs Down game to introduce a manners topic before each of the songs that related in some way to a manners issue (interrupting, asking nicely for things, etc.).

I used "The Elephant Song" for the interrupting thing, and the kids obliged by saying "excuse me" when interrupting each time. It was nice, but I'm not expecting that to happen ever again when I perform that song.
I had been trying to come up with some other song ideas that might work for this show and finally realized just the other day that one of my new songs, "How to Move a Monster", would be a perfect fit for the idea of asking nicely for things, so I added that, too. Anyhow, Rebecca said she was very happy with how it went, but I still felt a little out of my element with such a young group (it ended up being mostly toddlers), and had a difficult time keeping their full attention during some of the talking points and story songs. But it was a good experience and was definitely worth trying.

We were met at the show by Frances England, the fabulous singer/songwriter who I covered previously on my blog. I wanted to do an interview with her while we were in the area. Becca and Evee, upon learning that the "Tricycle" and "Daddy-O" and "Who-Waa" lady was in their midst, eagerly regaled her with their entire life stories... with complete descriptions of their toys, computers,
bedrooms, cat, etc. We walked to a nearby park and the girls played while Frances and I chatted for quite a while. She is about to release her second album, Family Tree, and unfortunately, having only just received it from her, I couldn't really ask her too much about that, but she relayed some cool stories about the songs and some great insight into how she makes her music.

We headed over to Berkeley to meet up with Gunnar Madsen. Gunnar is an incredibly versatile artist, musician, actor, writer and composer, and his new album, Growing Up, is one of the most unique and entertaining kids' music albums I've ever heard. I felt bad that Roseann and I miscommunicated, thinking the other had called
Gunnar while we were with Frances, and we didn't have the other cell phone where Gunnar had called wondering where we were... so we ended up being over an hour later than he was expecting. But thankfully he was still available and we had an interview and some great conversation in his studio while our girls played with his son, Quinn. It was a particularly hot day, and the kids decided to play with the hose, getting each other pretty wet.

The interviews will be posted to my blog at some point in the coming weeks. It was an interesting one-two between Frances England and Gunnar, because I might describe Frances' style as being an excellent example of "less is more", in terms of the approach of the songs and arrangements and production, and Gunnar is an excellent example of "more is more". Both are absolutely top notch in their own respect, though, and while they probably appeal to different ages and musical tastes among the kid music spectrum, I'm really glad that
they are both part of the overreaching genre of "children's music". I really enjoyed talking with them both, and would have liked to have spent a lot more time discussing music, life, the universe and everything.

From Berkeley, we drove back to the KOA, after taking a wrong route for a while... whoops... and all went to bed pretty early.

Evee and Becca with Frances England...

With Gunnar Madsen outside his studio...

Saturday, April 12, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 10

We all went to the Rancho San Antonio Park this afternoon. It was a nice place, but Uncle Steve had told the girls that we were going to see some animals there and when we got there it turned out that seeing the animals involved a walk of over a mile each way... Considering the girls hadn't had naps and it was pretty hot out, they were getting tired before we even made it one way. So we stopped by a creek for a while and it was an enjoyable walk, regardless.

We went back to Steve and April's where the girls had a lot of fun jumping into a kiddie pool. We put Steve's dog M&M into a room so we could bring Tiggy out into the yard. He really enjoyed that, though it did get a little hot for him outside. I've never seen a cat pant before. (Not to be confused with cat pants, which I have seen before.) April hosed him down. He actually didn't mind too much... Weird cat. We got him some water to drink and he was fine. We all ate some yummy Costco pizza (good deal, that) and hugged each other goodbye. We had a great time there and always enjoy catching up with them and we really appreciate their love and 'ospitality.

We filled up the tank ($3.69 this time... the same place that was $3.59 the other day) and drove up to Petaluma to the KOA there. I should mention that this tour is being partially sponsored by KOA. They are awesome and have the most kid-friendly chain of campgrounds that I'm aware of, and we're always happy to stay there when we can.

I decided to take the San Francisco route up to Petaluma, which crosses the Golden Gate Bridge. That drive was cool for a while, and we enjoyed driving up Fillmore until we got to the corner of Fillmore and Broadway... Now, I've been to San Francisco once before, but that was 20 years ago and I was driving in my friend's Chevy Nova, not in a 24 foot motorhome. Though I remembered San Fran as being a rather hilly city, I had forgotten the real extent of that until sitting in the middle of that intersection, looking forward down Fillmore and left down Broadway... emphasis on DOWN... knowing I needed to go one of those directions to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. Roseann and I were gasping... it seriously looked to be about a 25-30% grade, with a stop sign at the bottom.

I was getting beeped at by some cars behind me and let loose with an expletive that I've been carefully avoiding for some years now. Thankfully, it wasn't loud enough for anyone but Roseann to hear. But anyway, we made a decision to take the forward route (which we later learned from a pitch grade map of the city was the slightly worse grade of the two choices... we should have downloaded that map beforehand, eh?). I went into first gear and held on the brake... things were falling off our table and Roseann thought she heard the brakes making a high-pitched squeal, but that was actually me, not the brakes. There was a point about 2/3 down when I felt like we were actually going to make it, but before that, I gotta tell ya, it was sheer terror. After we made it down, I grabbed Roseann's hand and told her that I loved her, and then realized I probably should have said that before we started down the hill.

So yeah, we were shaken but laughing about it shortly after. Otherwise, it was a nice drive and we got a lot of friendly beeps, waves and peace signs from pedestrians and passing cars, presumably for having colorful cartoons on our vehicle.

Steve and April with the girls at Rancho San Antonio Park

The bus with the KOA logo...

Friday, April 11, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 9

We hung around in the morning while the girls played. Phone calls, e-mail, etc. April came back from Amy's school and brought a book the kids had made for me. How cute! Each student wrote a page and some of their messages included, "Do you like cats?", "I like your mustache" and many comments about how much fun they had.

Evee wasn't feeling good this morning, and we're wondering if she might be developing lactose intolerance. She's never had a problem with milk or yogurt before, but over the last few days she's complained of tummy aches or has puked after drinking milk and eating yogurt, so we'll have to take her in somewhere and see if they can figure that out.

We were planning for the girls to have naps so they could stay up late and have a sleepover party with Amy while we went to my coffeeshop gig, but they just would not go to sleep. Evee eventually napped for a little while, but at that point we couldn't justify letting them both stay up late with Amy, so they came along in the bus and went to bed while I went in to the gig myself.

The gig was at Mission City Coffee Roasters in Santa Clara, which is a great venue for acoustic music... nice stage and sound system, and even a baby grand piano. It was a showcase by Vincent Lowe (pictured below), a guy from the area who has hired me to produce some songs for a kids' (older range, 10-14) video project he is developing called "How Far Jafar". The program will feature stories centered around science concepts like time, velocity, weight, etc. The first song I'm doing will be for the velocity episode. The other two musicians he is working with are Amy Obenski and Nicole Campbell, and all three of us each did about a half hour set. I went first and since it was all adults there, I did a mix of some of my kids' tunes that translate well to singer/songwriter situations, including a few from my next album like "What a Ride", "How Big" and "Stink Bug", and some of my old coffeeshop fare like "More Will Be Revealed" and "What a Wonderful World". I also did "The Elephant Song", which is unusual with a group of adults, but they played along just fine. The audience was great and very appreciative throughout, though I did feel a little out of my element... I used to perform at coffeeshops like that all the time before getting into the kids' thing, but now it feels a little foreign to just stand still behind a microphone.

Apparently, some ornery lady was complaining to Roseann that we had parked the RV in front of her house, thinking that we were going to sleep over there all night... nothing like jumping to a conclusion, eh? The sign in front of her house said "2 Hour Parking" and we'd only been there for a little over an hour. So anyway, Roseann called me after my set and asked me to come back right away. We were able to find a good spot near the coffeeshop, so we parked there and Roseann went in for a while to meet Vincent. She saw Nicole's set and said she was very good and also adorably cute and funny... I guess all of her songs involve math/science mixed with the more typical singer/songwriter love/struggle concepts, so that sounds really cool and would seem perfect for Vincent's project. (That reminds me of one of our favorite blogs, indexed, which has some hilarious graphical jokes. Check it out...) I'm disappointed that I missed Nicole's set, but we did the tag team thing and I went back in to catch Amy Obenski's set. She put the piano to great use and sang very beautifully, a la Sarah Maclachlan, with a local bassist named Ted playing some cool acoustic bass accompaniment. I was very impressed with her "Time" song, which was written specifically for Vincent's project... She said that was the first time she ever wrote a song specifically to a subject, and I think it turned out great, covering aspects of time in a very poetic way.

It was late after we left there, so we went back to Steve and April's, plugged in the bus, and went to sleep.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 8

We hung out at Steve and April's in the morning and checked e-mail, made some calls, watched some tube, etc. In the afternoon I did a semi-impromptu performance at Amy's school. April had asked if I might bring my guitar into Amy's classroom to sing a couple of songs and I said, "Sure." But then I guess a couple of the other teachers overheard and wanted in on that so it ended up being more of a full-blown show with a sound system and everything set up in the cafetorium for about 70-80 kids.

Normally, I would do one of my themed assembly programs at a school, but we only had 25 minutes as it was, so I just did some songs from my usual concert show and mixed in one of the songs/segments from my assemblies. The kids were incredibly enthusiastic, and boy were they loud! Almost too loud, as one teacher had asked me to keep my volume low at the beginning since the room wasn't filled to capacity and was very echoey (as cafetoriums and school gyms tend to be!), and it became difficult for me to hear myself over the kids during the active songs where they burst into laughing and squealing and such. But the show went very well, regardless, and April said that a parent later told her that her daughter, who had never wanted to talk about anything at school, excitedly wanted her to ask what happened at school today... and then told her what a fun time she had at the concert. That was very sweet.

Below is a picture from the end of the show, with Becca and Evee joining me for "This Little Light of Mine". School shows are often a little difficult for them, because normally they want to be right up front and totally involved in everything going on, but for school assemblies they have to stay in back with Mommy and let the school kids have the whole focus and attention. I always introduce them at the end and bring them up for "This Little Light", regardless, but this show was nice because with the loose nature of it they were able to sit up front and participate fully along with the other kids throughout the show.

We went back to Steve and April's, had dinner and played with the girls. It was an incredibly beautiful day so we played outside for a while. We put the girls to bed after their baths and watched 30 Rock and The Office and went to bed ourselves.

A quick mention here about the 5th member of our family, who is sometimes alone for long stretches... our cat, Tiggy. He is very gracious and only asks for some judicious petting and a walk every day at twilight. For some reason, he gets really antsy at dusk and wants to get out and roam, so we put on his leash and walk him around, or rather, he walks around wherever he wants to and we follow the best we can. It's definitely not the same as walking a dog... Sometimes, when we open the RV door, he'll jump out onto the sidewalk and rub himself on the ground... some kind of territorial marking thing... "Tiggy was here!" There are worse ways to mark territory, I suppose.
Anyway, below is a picture of Tiggy peeking out of the window, wondering when we're coming back to take him for his walk.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 7

We drove up to San Francisco today where I had two shows at libraries. Each of them was a special performance meant for local preschools and kindergarten classes... the first library wasn't even open for the public during the time of the show. Wow, what a fun group at both shows! It was pretty packed in the small spaces of the children's sections, but there was just enough room for everyone to move around without major collisions.

At the end of the first show, Becca and Evee came up to sit on my knees and join me on "This Little Light of Mine", as they usually do, and a little boy from a preschool wanted to come up, too. I tried to indicate that it was okay for him to stay there next to me, but it was too late when I had realized it and the teacher had picked him up and carried him back. He was very upset and cried for the first half of the song. After the show, I was telling Roseann how it's too bad that I didn't signal the teacher in time to let her know it was okay for him to stay. Becca heard what we were saying and said, "But Daddy, he couldn't stay there for that song... you don't have three knees!"

The parking situation was less than ideal for the second show... I had to park "the bus" a couple blocks away, and having been told by the previous branch that the performance area at this
branch would also be very tight, I decided to go ahead and give the Invisible Band the rest of the day off and do a rare "unplugged" show. I don't mind the opportunity once in a while to do a show like that, and it went very well, though it gets a little hard to hear myself singing or playing guitar for certain songs where the kids are participating vocally, which gets really loud.

For that second show, Roseann and the girls stayed in the bus and had a nap and did some crafts together. Becca was going over her homework from one of her workbooks involving coins and values of money and such, and we decided that the girls are old enough to start earning a little bit of money for different tasks they do, like helping out with cleaning up books and toys and folding laundry, etc.

When I was done we went back to Steve and April's for dinner, played some games like "Hide and Seek" and Apples to Apples Jr., sang a rousing 7 verse version of "Elmo's Song" together, and went to bed.

From the morning show at the Visitacion Valley Branch...

From the afternoon show at the Portola Branch... (look ma, no microphone)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

2008 Spring/Summer Tour - Day 6

We went out and got some groceries, then stopped at a park so the girls could play and we could all get some fresh air. As we approached the playground, we noticed four kids who were throwing around a Gatorade bottle filled with dirt. It appeared that they were throwing it really hard at each other, but we realized as we got closer that they were trying to knock out a soccer ball that was up in a tree. One of them climbed into the tree and was shaking it, but the ball wouldn't budge. Roseann said, "Why don't you just climb up higher and get it?" And then she went and did it herself... It wasn't really that much higher than the one kid had already climbed and the branch was more than sturdy enough. She knocked the ball out, the kids cheered and one of them said, "Gee, we've been trying to get that out for two hours now." I think they were exaggerating the time, but regardless, it was an amusing example of being too close to a problem to see its solution. Roseann walked up with a fresh, outside perspective and solved the problem right away.

We were looking to fill up our tank and I noticed one place had gas for $3.59. I gasped and said, no, let's look for a better price... With a tank the size of ours (60 gallons, I think), even a few pennies a gallon will make a big difference. But as we drove around, I was seeing nothing but $3.71 and higher. I told Roseann, I never thought I'd look at $3.59 a gallon and think that was a great price. Of course, I recall saying the same thing at certain points over the last two years about prices like $2.87 and $2.43.

We picked up a few things at the store and wanted to get a couple of new toys for the girls. When we're traveling a lot, we like to cycle around some of their smaller toys to keep their rotation fresh. We found some cute rubber stretchy animal toys and thought Evee might like a couple of those... she loves to play with little toy menageries and make up voices and stories for each of them. There were several choices, including a turtle, a dolphin, a whale, a dinosaur and a few others. She ended up choosing the rubber
dinosaur and... the rubber chicken. I was so proud! She named the dinosaur 'Diney' and the rubber chicken... get this... 'Bawky'. Again, I was so proud.

We went back to Steve and April's for some great conversation, some taco salad for dinner and some yummy chocolate chip cookies for dessert, and now we're headed to bed early.

Here's Evee and Bawky...