All posts by Philosofer

Parentgood: In Defense Of Large Families

Alright, the title is a bit misleading. I don't feel any need to defend large families, or that they've been denigrated here, or anything like that. I was just trying to draw some eyeballs. And let me state at the outset that I, much like others before me, don't in any way think there is a "right way" to do families. Everyone is different, it takes all kinds, and I've no reason or desire to judge the way anyone else does it.

The last few Parentgood posts have been, in some way or another, about not-having kids. There was the having of someone else's kid, the not-going-to-have-them, and the prepping for an empty nest. All were much appreciated perspectives. So I thought maybe I'd just offer a little bit of my experience, since it's noticeably different from those previous entries. Quite obviously this isn't going to be the thing for everyone, (again, to each their own, and no one should condemn anyone's choices in this realm), but I thought maybe I could shed a little light on life in a big family.

First, I am the oldest of 13 children. So I have some insight into truly big families. Second, I have 4 kids of my own. Not exactly a big family, but certainly not a small one by the going standards. (As an aside, we'd be open to more, but that might not be the possibility we once thought it was. Doctors visits are pending, and prayers are appreciated. But not what this post is about.).

One of the things that stands out to me most about being part of a big family is that there's a certain generosity of spirit that is more or less required. The family motto is "there's always room for one more" and we really carry that out. We had 50 people at Thanksgiving dinner, and we've had bigger. There's always enough because everyone is always giving, contributing to the common cause. Indeed, my parents are the most generous people I've ever met. They are far from well off - we spent much of my youth as considerably poor - but the amount they give surpasses anyone else I've known. And I suppose that's especially true in the Biblical "widow who gave her last two coins" sense.

A more quirky aspect of the large family is that nearly everything is a large production. You can't have a get together without it being an event. You can't do an outing without it being involved. I still carry the habit of sliding to the back of a group and counting the heads of everyone in front of me. Just the role of the oldest, I guess. But with this comes a real feeling of accomplishment. Admit it: if you successfully took a dozen people to the zoo or hosted a 30 person bonfire, you'd feel pretty good about yourself. That's just a regular weekend in a huge family, so you learn some real skills, and to feel good about them.

It's also amazing to have such a wonderful support system. Whenever we need help, family is there. That's been true of little things like a couch to crash on or painting a room, and that's been true of big things, like a dentist sister who can do a root canal or planning a benefit for my nephew who was born with half a heart. That support is also amazing for dealing with the emotional baggage we all face. Grief, especially, has hit us hard these past years with a couple of deaths in the immediate family. But we're all there to help each other pull through, to provide support and comfort, and that system is amazing.

Sometimes there is a sense that with big families you don't really get to know your siblings, or that you're not as close, or, most horrible: that there is a finite amount of love to be had, so it gets spread thinner. Nothing could be further from the truth. My siblings and I all know each other really well. We're incredibly close, and, if anything, that love in the family is multiplied, not spread thin.

Finally, I want to talk about being a parent of a bigger family. I take it as an acceptable premise that a person's identity changes in some way when they become a parent for the first time. I don't know too many parents, if any, who wouldn't acknowledge that. I remember a conversation with a good friend after we both became parents for the first time, and we both expressed how much better we understood life, now that we were parents. We understood our parents, we understood love, we understood God, and so many other things in such a better way.

For me, there was a somewhat similar experience when I went from having 2 kids to having 3. Somehow, something about having a third kid, where you could no longer split them off, one to each parent, shifted my identity again. I became less of a parent and more of a family man. Yes, I am still a parent to individual children, and I have that relationship with them still, but there's a larger family sense that I'm more vividly aware of now that I have a larger brood. There are things I try to do "for the family" now, in a way maybe I only did "for Aquinas" or "for Aristotle" prior to Neitzsche's arrival. I'm more aware of the way in which the kids are interacting with each other, and how one kid's experiences are affecting the others.

Honestly, it's really cool. And really humbling. I became more of a servant when I had my third kid than I ever was before. And I like that. Now, I know it's not for everyone. But given my experience, it's something I'd recommend to those on the fence. I know I'm better for it.

FMD 1-4-2019: What Are You Looking Forward To?

For someone like myself, being a more casual follower of music than I once was, I'm often only aware of things after they happen. I used to anticipate releases, performances, etc. It worked because I was paying attention and knew what was coming up. These days, I'm not quite as on top of things, and so I've no idea what I should be looking forward to. Any great artists with new releases coming out this year? What else are you looking for in 2019?

FMD 11/9/18: Wedding Music

I'm going to a wedding this weekend. So let's talk wedding music. What's good for a first dance? Father/Bride dance? What song do you have a piano version played of as people are waiting in the church after the ceremony (if you did the church thing). What goes on the do-not-play list for the DJ? Etc.

Not too long ago I was at one where there was a version of "She Drives Me Crazy" played as people were milling about. That was... fun? We supposedly had our pianist play Linus and Lucy after the ceremony, but I wasn't around to hear it, so... I still haven't gotten confirmation on that.

FMD 10/26/18: A New Start

No, not the Arrested Development reference.

Spoiler SelectShow

We recently moved into a new house. It's smallish, but fits us well, and there's room to grow. The basement is completely unfinished and there are already footing poured for an addition if we ever wanted to grow outward too. This all has me thinking about opportunities, including the opportunity to set up a home for ideal music listening purposes.

I've not really followed all the various systems and whatnot, and I suppose I'll probably never actually get to do some cool system but... if you had a new start on a home, what kind of listening devices/locations/functions would you like to have?

As for right now... I'd be happy with finding a working CD player and eventually unpacking my old collection. It's been far too long. Maybe I'll get lucky and come across the right box this weekend.

Drop a list too, if'n you're inclined.

FMD 9/7/18: Let’s Talk Hip Hop

This post brought to you by the fact that the last two times I've gotten in the car I've heard, respectively, "U Can't Touch This" and "Gangsta's Paradise".

Hip hop is one genre where I often find myself lost. I know what I like (and it tends to be mainstream). I don't really know what I don't like (because my exposure is somewhat limited). I know that there are songs I tend to get tired of, and some that I could listen to a lot. I know that I don't know a lot about the history or movements or artists. I know a little, but that's pretty cursory. Anyway, it's a topic I can't speak knowledgeably about, but I'm guessing there are plenty of people here who can.

Go:

FMD 8/31/18: Back to School

With all the kiddos marching back to school, I thought maybe we could all take a bit to talk about our own personal music education. Who taught you to like what you like? Where did you take your first music appreciation steps? What quirks and habits do you have now because of what you were taught then? So on and so forth.

For me, my Mom was a big teacher. She had pretty good, but somewhat mainstream, taste in music. But with younger siblings coming along with some frequency, she tended to direct us to music that was more age appropriate for them, and we listened to a lot of Radio AAHS and Oldies. Honestly, I'm so glad that I've got the 50's and 60's familiarity that I have. I still really dig a lot of that. Also, my dad introduced me to some quality novelty stuff.

My uncle who is just a year older than me introduced me to 90's alternative music, and TMBG was definitely the band that stuck. Oh, and Weird Al. That was definitely fostered there too.

I hit college right as Napster became a thing, so I spent a lot of time checking out all sorts of stuff, but really hanging onto a lot of Oldies, but expanding that more into the 70's (and some 80's).
Not a whole lot changed for me until I caught Brian Oake's old Sunday night independent music show on a long drive. It was stuff I'd never heard before, and that opened a lot of doors for me. Anyway, that's my story. Nothing too exciting.

I'm guessing there are plenty of citizens with much better tales to tell.

And, for your Friday viewing pleasure, I offer the following Education related music video:

FMD 8/10/18: Brass

Let's talk about brass. Jazz, ska, swing, whatever genre. Songs that utilize it just a little bit, songs that embrace it. What do you like? What don't you like? Which trumpet player was the best? What's the best use of a french horn in cinema (Young Frankenstein, right?)? Does that 76th trombone really add anything that the 75th didn't? Etc.

I was a trumpet player in school, so brassy sounds are something that always resonated with me, and I don't think we've talked about instruments for a while, so it seemed like something worth throwing out there.

I used this version of "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)" on my summer mix this year, specifically because of the brass:

Then drop your top 10s and have a wonderful Friday!