Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter and More!

First, the important stuff. 
Happy Resurrection Sunday!
All in all, it was a lovely day. There was an impressive storm so we didn't hide eggs until later in the afternoon. I was sneaky and grabbed some treats from Whole Foods last week that weren't full of artificial flavors and dyes, along with some healthier chocolate alternatives, including the only brand I've found that doesn't contain soy. Thankfully, everyone loved the candy choices. You don't need the artificial stuff to make it taste good. In fact, I'm pretty sure this natural stuff tasted much better.

On the down side, worship this morning was not quite what we hoped, and I found myself missing our home church in Longmont something terrible. We arrived a bit before the service at the small church we chose, but not soon enough to get decent chairs. The front had some chairs available, but we had to split up. Mary and I went up to some chairs near the piano, which turned out to be a very bad choice, because they were burning about a dozen huge vanilla candles on top of the piano. Additionally, the speakers were some of the loudest I've ever sat in front of, and that includes the rock concerts I attended in high school. Within 10 minutes my eyes burned form the vanilla candles and I had quite a headache starting. I looked down at Mary and her eyes were all red and she said her head hurt. We moved to the back, but it wasn't good enough. Mary felt nauseous and we had to leave the building. 

We spent the service sitting in the van. The people seemed quite nice and very excited to be worshiping on this lovely morning, but I am simply puzzled over how people can stand that loud of music and strong scents. It's an amazing assault to the senses.  They must be used to it in a way we're not. Mary felt better within 10 minutes after we left. Took me a bit longer, but I don't think I ever want to smell vanilla again.

All is well that ends well. We had a relaxing day, a fun egg hunt, chocolate, and the Wizard of Oz was playing over at the club house.
Backing up further...
All's well that ended well then, too. We played a great show for the park here, with the schedule issue worked out, and then enjoyed listening to the band that followed us, while decorating eggs. The kids got a little crazy when "Rockin' Robin" came on.

Back up one more time.
I forgot something in my last post. Oh, yeah. We went to Sea World before we left San Antonio. I suppose I sort of blocked it out. I admit, I'm theme parked out. Even so, the kids had a blast and here are some pictures to prove it.

Our next adventure starts on Wednesday. We'll head to some friends' property to drop off the bus, load up the van. Over-load the van.. Then head to Durango for a few days, then on to the Denver area for 10 days or so, before we head back to Texas. It's the first time I've been away from my bus and it feels very weird. Don't like the feeling, actually. I wish we were bringing it, but the diesel would be close to $1000, additional wear and tear, and I'm NOT taking the bus over Wolf Creek Pass.

So, I'm planning meals on the road, without my kitchen, and trying to figure out how to manage that with an ice chest. I found some great pinterest recipes we're trying out, and I'm trying to make plans. I'll bring the crock pot and maybe my burner. Depends on how much room we can manage. We will have access to a stove when we're not on the road at least.

I'm not sure what my wifi will be like most the the time. I'm hoping it'll be good for at least part of the time. I'm plugging along on my web site and trying to get some good articles up and ready so I can start promoting it. Not sure how to do that yet, of course. The advice I read is that you should make friends with others writing on similar topics. I'm pretty sure no one is writing on this topic. If they are, I haven't found them. So, it's either an untapped niche, or an idea destined to fail. I'm rooting or the first option.

Off to bed. The next few days are going to be pretty crazy.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Yucky coffee and Easter is a mess

Today should be a Tuesday Treasures, but I'm lacking delicious coffee, thanks to a horrid diet I am on which only allows me to drink black coffee the next few weeks. Bleh. I can handle just about any diet as long as I get creamer in my coffee. Real creamer. Half&half or whipped. No powder stuff. Sugar optional, cream is not. If asked to drink it black, my addiction will force me, but grump city will follow.
I'll just throw a few things out there and not try to turn them into treasures today.

Did I post this video yet? When was the last time I posted?

 53 seconds of silly. Love my nerdy boy.

We've been shopping for some spring performance tops. I really need to get one, then update some for the guys, but the twins have their tops picked out and Mary has her Easter dress. Cute, huh?

 Speaking of Easter, we have had a show booked since last April to play at the RV park here on their Easter weekend. I mailed posters a couple of weeks ago to the park, then got a really strange phone call from the manager. He couldn't remember when we were scheduled. I told him. He said, "Oh. I'll see what I can do."
Huh? He'll see what he can do? Weren't we contracted for this?
We headed up after about 10 hours of driving through non-stop construction with a bitter wind, and arrived at our Easter weekend destination where we found the following:
A schedule of entertainment for the season listed.
We weren't on it.
Posters of another group set to play this weekend.

We were forgotten. That would explain the weird call.
This would be, of course, the one contract for which I don't believe I have a copy. Figures. I'm usually good at that but when one gets missed, I have a silly habit of trusting the other party has their contract and will pay attention.  

We called the manager to find out what is going on, why our posters are not up, and what we are doing here if we aren't playing. This was yesterday morning and we've not received a call back. I don't believe he's in on Monday and Tuesdays. We'll see what he does when he returns.

Anyone want an out-of-work band this weekend?


In other news, I launched a new website. No party yet, it's still under construction. The point of it is to offer articles on everything related to children's music in a family environment, and eventually some self-published or eBooks for families of children from zero through teens.

Ok, you can preview it. Here.

Today was the second time we've been contacted by groups investigating docudramas documentaries about families living on the road to see if we were a fit.  I'm pretty sure we're not. I think it would be a blast if it wasn't for a few things:
1. We have an image of normal to uphold. A camera in our face 24/7 would show that to be the scam it is.
2. I don't trust media. Ever. 16 hours of footage of you smiling and playing with your kid and they'll publish only the part where you rolled your eyes and told her to stop talking for just 30 seconds, pleeeease!
3. The world is mean.  And a bit crazy. One slip and you'll pay in the blogosphere, social media, and everywhere. Tell your whiny kid to "knock it off" and one group will demonize you for using harsh words to hurt his self-esteem and the next group will demonize you for not giving him the lickin' he deserves.
4. My bus is as cute as a button - from the outside. Ain't no one going to see what it looks like on an average afternoon from the inside. See #1.
5. I am doing a fine job of ruining my kids by myself, thank you. I don't need more attention to help them out.

Other than those 5 things, it would be super fun!

There you go. Consider the blog updated. We'll let you know how the Easter saga turns out.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Musings - Remember When?

In 2010 my parents owned a trailer in Port Isabel where they would stay in the winter months, fishing at the Gulf. They invited us to come visit and after some thought, we decided to make it into our first "band tour". We were well acquainted with the directors of GospelGrass Productions, and they were hosting a festival in South Texas, a few hours away. So, we loaded up our instruments and our new sound system, and headed to Port Isabel. On the way there we swung through San Antonio and enjoyed the Riverwalk. 

In 2011 we decided to go again. This time we expanded the trip and went to South Texas and Arizona. While we were in Port Isabel we caught a show with the Links and the Readhead Express.  It was there that I learned about the vast amount of entertainment in the Valley.  We missed the Riverwalk because Michael threw out his back and the south got a deep freeze that week, but after the challenges of that trip, when everyone still found themselves loving the road more than ever, a spark that was lit long ago grew stronger. Since the beginning of our little band, I had this deep desire to someday hit the road with the kids, playing music, but we had to put in some years learning the trade first. By the end of that 2011 trip, the idea was so strong we started making plans. So, when Michael started to have health issues from his job, as well as the increased likelihood that this particular company location's days were numbered, increasing the chances of a layoff and pay cut, we put the house on the market.

We weren't even convinced the house would sell, but God gave us a push and sold it within a week of finding us the most unlikely event: a vehicle (bus) in our teeny-tiny price range. We could have talked a bank into a loan, but we realistically couldn't afford the payments, and when the job went away, we'd definitely not be able to afford payments, so we scraped up as much as we could, and Michael found Benny in a national search. A skoolie bus conversion has disadvantages - namely licensing (remember the DMV saga?) and finding a place to get insurance, but they tend to cost less, have higher mpg in diesel, they're built like tanks, and built to last.

So, with a bus and our house sold, we hit the road over a year ago. Due to vehicle troubles (or lack of one other than the bus), we didn't get back to the Riverwalk last year either, but we did today!
A couple of those kids have gotten taller, huh? One of them has some pretty big puppy feet right now too, so our next Riverwalk picture, should God grant our continued journey, may end up having one of them catch up or even pass the other two!

What a journey. We just left the Rio Grande Valley for our first full winter entertaining there, and instead of being the audience, this time we were the entertainers, and simply had a blast! The walk through the Riverwalk just seemed like a nice way to round it all out.

 What a big girl! She loved every minute - especially the baby ducks.

*Sploosh!* Tempting, huh? Water was a deep emerald green. It was kind of weird, but strangely pretty.

I'm anxious to see where we are in another 3 years and if we'll get in another picture in the same spot.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

So Many Ideas, So Little Attention Span!

 Ideas, ideas, ideas...
We have been brainstorming ways to bring in a bit more money so we can update the sound system, a few of the instruments, and other things that constantly appear out of reach for a small family band. Sadly, not a lot fits into a wandering lifestyle.

After getting a few ideas from an online talk hosted through a Full Time Families website, I realized it has been staring me in the face for months, even years. In fact, couple of years have gone by since I first thought to take my experience as a music teacher to young children, combined with my experience involving music in the home as a mom, and write a program or something to encourage and help other families do the same - in their own home, without fancy outside classes.

Wait... Back that up. A decade ago I sat with a friend and we brainstormed ideas on a homeschooling music program, since I have been unimpressed with everything I've seen out there for some time. This desire has been a long time in the making.

A couple of years ago we started experimenting with a few youtube videos, thinking video instruction may be the way to go, but the time and cost to produce a good product was not realistic at the time.

That's when it hit me: Why not simply begin an e-business to start? Blogging, resource recommendations, and eventually a series of ebooks?

With lots of excitement, I jotted down ideas and got all excited! Then I put the idea on hold because we had to get taxes finished first. My dad does our taxes and he and his Turbo Tax will be sitting in the camper next to our bus for only a short time longer, then we headed north and they headed to the island to fish for a couple of weeks.

Sadly, I'm a chronic procrastinator with everything accounting related. Since Michael doesn't even have accounting on his radar and has taken to booking the gigs and making the calls now, the task fell to me to clean up the neglected mess. Receipts to sort, mileage to calculate, CD inventory, deductions, paperwork...

We're almost finished, just a bit more to enter and I can get started procrastinating next year's taxes.

There is only one problem: Taxes zapped the creativity right out of me. I can't seem to get my momentum going on the project now. Is it possible I only have a creative mind when I'm procrastinating??? That would fit my general profile!

Of course, taxes were very slow because there was so much other important stuff to do that came before creativity on new projects and definitely before procrastinated taxes. We had a busy week of shows, for one thing. There was a Lone Ranger who needed to find his audience, and a Mouse Club that needed announcing.

 We had shows to play on tall stages too.

 Then there was the really important stuff, like going to the zoo in Brownsville, or catching sharks off South Padre Island.

 Fishing takes a lot of work, you know.
 This week I will try to find my voice again on the subject. We have a domain name mostly picked out, Alex is starting on the logo and mascot, and I already have a loose framework figured out on what I would like to cover. We will likely turn the band into a Corporation soon to be the umbrella company over the other smaller ones on the way (Katie and Alex have the coolest one yet - mostly Katie with Alex on board as the graphic artist, but they're not ready to reveal that), and going through a process of changing to a Corporation or even just an LLC sounds like a nightmare in procrastinated paperwork, so perhaps that will get the creative juices moving again!

The trick will be promotion, which is not something I'm particularly familiar with, especially when the writings are aimed at parents with very young children - something I have walked through and for which I have so many fun ideas, but very few personal areas in which I connect because I no longer have littles in the family. However, maybe after I start the whole thing it can take on a life of its own. Sometimes starting is the hardest part.

This week's goal: Start the start, even with little time left before we pull out of the Rio Grande Valley and get to traveling again, and with four more shows to play this week - 6 if you take us through next Sunday. Even so, you have to start somewhere, right? The first goal is to start figuring out where to start. Then we'll worry about one step at a time.