Monday, June 25, 2018

Updates on life with an au pair.

Update on life with an au pair. It's fantastic, and after having joined a Facebook group for host families, I am now well-aware that there are terrible au pairs out there who make their families' lives more difficult. To be fair, I've also noticed there are terrible host families who are demanding and unappreciative and who clearly have a Hobbesian view of life, assuming that their au pair must "earn their trust" before being granted privileges, like, a curfew beyond 11pm or, say, not being watched on a nanny-cam the entire time.

Maybe I'm too trusting, but I think we just matched perfectly with a mature and wise woman who is full of love and common sense and just the right amount of anxiety to make me feel at east when she's got the kids. Like, I have started running upstairs to use the bathroom alone on occasion -- but she would never dare leave them unattended.

The biggest reason we went the au pair route is because regular childcare -- or even a full-time nanny -- would not work for my challenging and ever-changing work schedule. It's too unpredictable, and with David's travel schedule (he travels 80% of the week), it was no good and also a little lonely being the only adult in the house.

It's also great for last-minute surprises. This morning, for example, when he was at the airport at 6am and realized he forgot something, he called (and bless *aupair for answering her phone because I was zonked out and didn't hear mine) and I was able to run out to the airport without dragging the kids along with me.

Other bonuses to #aupairlife:

  • My 2-year-old occasionally counts his Hot Wheels in Portuguese.
  • She loves to bake, so sometimes there is surprise cake!
  • We are looooooving rice and beans in a way we never did before.
  • David and I had date nights twice this weekend (we don't always schedule her on weekends, but D and I hadn't seen each other in ages because I've had so many weekend gigs), and we didn't have to explain bedtime routines or what the day had been like and why G was so tired. We just walked out of the house!
  • We've had incredible cultural exchange conversations that have led to smart and eye-opening chats about feminism and country differences. I love creating this normal for my kids.
  • There is always someone to hug.
  • There is always someone to remind me to relax and appreciate my amazing children.
  • There is always someone to remind me that I don't have to do everything.
Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.comHere's a link to our au pair agency. (If you sign up and host, we both get a wee discount. If the registration fee isn't waived for you, email me, and I'll send the code.)

I'm working on an entire blog to explain exactly what an au pair is and what she can and cannot do -- there are restrictions to keep both au pairs and families on the same page and both treated humanely. It's hard to explain, but I'm loving it!

*I still haven't come up with a good code name for her, so I don't blow her google-ability privacy to the world. Oops. (She has said photos are okay.)

Friday, June 22, 2018

Mini House concert tour

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.comClarification that it was a mini-tour, not a tour of mini-houses! Truly, the houses we played were just perfect fits for a house concert, even though they were all completely different settings -- just proving that there is not right or wrong setting to host a house concert. Sometimes people move the furniture out of a living room and pile in criss-cross-apple-sauce or bring in folding chairs. Sometimes the show is in a backyard, where everyone brings their own lawn chair. Sometimes people bring their own floats for a poolside show! Sometimes the show is in a "great room" where introverts can hide in the kitchen, and everyone else scatters about on furniture, folding chairs, and the floor.

Steve and I have had a blast doing these house concert tours, mostly because of the intimacy and the people we meet. There's always time for Q&A -- for us, that generally centers around the banjo and the saw, though I get the occasional accordion lesson in their too. One of our shows went from house concert to singalong, with the host bringing out his own guitar, campfire style!

It was a blast. Thank you to the brave hosts who had never hosted before, but who absolutely nailed it. Host more of them -- I'd come as a guest.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Writing prompts for kids.

Let me begin by saying that in no way do I wish writing as a career for my son. I'm stuck with the bug because I can't NOT do it, no matter how hard I try. When I'm not writing, I'm a crazy person. But we are also in a phase of childhood where he's capable of entertaining himself before 7am because I refuse to function before then.

When he wakes up early, he has instructions to read for 10 minutes and write in his journal before he is allowed to turn on the TV. Lately, however, I've found his journal a tad dull. I know, I know, I shouldn't judge a 5-year-old, but I want to teach him that writing can be creative and not just "what I did yesterday." (He did, after all, win the Creative Writing award in kindergarten for his Young Author's book!")

We came up with an idea: 

an envelope full of writing prompts. He grabs one and then goes with it. Now I am stuck with the task of coming up with writing prompts. (Could someone do this for me???) Thankfully, the internet exists.

- a day at the beach
- if i was a unicorn
- my favorite animals
- blasting off to Mars
- if i hosted a dinner party, what would we do?

Buy Me a Coffee at
Speaking of writers, here's a cool new platform where you can easily, quickly, and cheaply support folks like me, who spend hours a day writing to entertain others. I drink coffee while I write. I also buy coffees for lots of other people because it feels nice, and I love their work.

I'm playing at Wick's on Baxter tonight. I'm pretty sure it's free. And it's 8-11. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Yoga booty call.

Remember how I broke up with yoga a few weeks ago? Well, I went back. I still feel the same, but I also still need the sweat and the alone time. (I even tried jogging, and 4 jogs in, I developed the same old horrible knee injury -- please don't suggest running ever again!) It feels good to have burned a bunch of calories and stretched and relaxed, but now my head is running with all kinds of questions about is this kind of yoga basically church, and that's why it get resistant and freaked out? Etc etc etc. Post-yoga, I turned to instagram to try to sort out my thoughts:

Sweaty post-yoga pose. I went back to my favorite studio today, and, bless her, today’s teacher didn’t ask us to talk to any strangers. I do like seeing friends there, but I also sure love a space on my mat where I can do what I want. I’ve been thinking how my entire life I’ve worked my ass off, have been so hard on myself whether it was in school (that A-minus was a failure), work (played a crazy-impressive radio show? Well, I didn’t ride that momentum to even bigger things, so i suck!), motherhood (why do i not understand what every single cry means?), caretaking (not spending enough time with my sick mother, am horrible daughter), and marriage (be PERFECT because he sure is). So when yoga teachers tell me to “stay in it” and “step out of your comfort zone” and “you can do hard things,” I get really resistant and my internal monologue says: Brigid, you’ve been giving it a 110% your whole life, so maybe slow down a bit and step out of the pose you don’t want to hold and relax and don’t do that. Because this yoga is for *you* and you need something different than this style is designed for. But then my inner-perfectionist says “ugh, the teacher thinks you’re weak because she said ‘stay’ and you chose to chillax.” This is my challenge in yoga ... I need some place in my life where I don’t have to give 100% because I’m already back to the inner monologue of “get off Instagram, and either go visit your sick mother or finish those contracts or write more songs or book more tours and DO IT ALL!” Oh, I’m a mess, aren’t it?? 🤣🤣🤣 But seriously, can I do this kind of yoga without subscribing to the preachy parts?? I do adore the owner and everyone I’ve met up there. (Hi if you’re reading, I love you and your work and what you do for the village 😬😬😬😘) #yoga #yogathoughts#yogaphilosophy #yogaisgood I swear

Where will Brigid be next?

Louisville: Thursday June 21 at Wick's on Baxter 8-11pm No cover
FACEBOOK EVENT -- click "interested" on it, pretty please?I haven't played a multi-hour club show like this in YEARS. But they asked me, and I'm in a yes-mode. Where else might you find me?

Buy me a coffee? I just bought a few coffees for some writers I like, and it set up this Ko-fi page for me automatically. Perhaps you would like to buy me a coffee, so that I might perfect and write more thoughtful and lengthy things than simply a whinging introspective blog. Buy me a coffee!

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Baseball and 7/26 show

Big fun playing at Louisville Slugger Field yesterday! It was so fun seeing all of you. My kids were able to come to both the concert and the game because of our amazing au pair, who had a great time at her first super-American event: baseball! She didn't catch a foul ball, but she did go home with a free t-shirt that the mascot tossed into the crowds. I had a hard time explaining why the Indianapolis Colts cheerleaders were making random dance appearances, but it was all smiles all night. Fun times for all!

The rest of this weekend I'm playing house concerts in surrounding counties (want to host a house concert?), and I'm daydreaming about Switzerland.

Louisville, please save the date July 26, early evening, for a ticketed show -- a intimate send-off to Switzerland event! It'll be in the Highlands at a TBA location. Limited seating, but a guaranteed seat when you purchase a ticket in advance. It'll sell out, so check back here for pre-sale codes!


Monday, June 11, 2018

Bringing Kentucky music abroad ... Louisville's Switzerland connection!

a cemetery Einsiedeln where i will go ancestor-chasing!

SWITZERLAND! Who has been there? I'm playing the Einsiedeln Musik Festival on August 3rd, which is crazy-cool and crazy-exciting for various historical and nerdy and travelicious reasons. 

Louisville, in particular, you should care about this because I have, for the past 10 years, been following my heart and mind and doing my very best to bring Kentucky music to other countries ... and Switzerland has a direct connection to Kentucky (and not just that we both tend to be neutral during wars).

My biggest passions in my career are: Kentucky music (OBVIOUSLY) and Cultural Exchange. If I had a zillion dollars, I would pay for Kentucky artists to travel and bring their music to every country on the planet (and I would go with them and be their backup band because TRAVEL is the other passion!). As it is, I just work my butt off to pay for my own travel and occasionally pay for other artists to accompany me as I bring my own brand of Kentucky music to the rest of the world.

Einsiedeln, Switzerland, is filled with people with last names such as Bisig, Zehnder, Ehrler, Fuchs, Guetig, Oeschli ..... and Kaelin. Starting in the 1800s, thousands of people from this small town emigrated to Louisville, Kentucky, and so many of them (as you may infer from the names) started companies, farms, and more, particularly in Louisville's Germantown neighborhood. Most of us -- the descendants of these immigrants -- have lost touch with that history. An author from Einsiedeln (and me!!) wants to change that.

Bringing part of my band to this music festival is an absolute dream! I wish I could afford to fly Steve Cooley over as well (anyone out there have any extra points or $2000?), but hey ... maybe next year? My wheels are spinning with ideas, projects, and more ways to bridge this temporal and cultural gap and forge real connections to our past and our culture.

Ooooooooh I get chills when I think about it! The writer of the book knows a lot of about my ancestors and distant cousins ... and I get to go grave-chasing and cousin-meeting and already have plans to get together with venue-owners about working on more Kentucky music projects.

In the mean time, who has Switzerland or Austria tips?!?! 

In honor of my anniversary and my 40th birthday, we are also making this trip a vacation ... and leaving the babies behind with au pairs and grandparents galore. We are definitely hitting Zurich, Einsiedeln, Salzburg, and Vienna. If you have tips (aside from telling me that it's expensive), please share! Or if you have amazing photos, please share those too. I'm one of those weirdos who loves food photos and travel photos more than cat videos. Except the cats and cucumbers one -- that one is hilarious. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book reading by Silas House! So fun.

Book alert! I am a book-fanatic. I particularly love novels, and the amazing Silas House has a new novel out called Southernmost. You should buy it. He did a reading last night, featuring music by the wonderful singers Joan Shelley and Daniel Martin Moore. It was a perfect event -- short, sweet, inspiring, beautiful. I also loved the space, as I adore events held in unusual locations: the Crescent Hill Baptist church provided perfect acoustics and plenty of space. I'm hoping Silas is not still there signing books (the line was hundreds deep when I left!). Happy book tour to you!

Try to support your local bookstore if you have the opportunity. (Carmichael's in Louisville!) But no matter what, support Silas! The artists are everything.

I loved hearing about the dogs, and the namesake of the dog mentioned in Chapter One (Roscoe) may or may my boys' God-Dog -- yes, that Roscoe and his owners get our boys if something ever happens to me and David. Our wee connection to literary history, my friends.

The photo being taken from the stage is on Silas's instragram page!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Pool-side cubicle.

Lakeside Swim Club, Louisville, KY
Today, I attempt relaxing. It's not my forte. 17+ years of being self-employed means I'm never off-work, even though I'm technically able to give myself a day off whenever I want. Today I'm trying to combine the best of both: I'm working from the pool.

Part of this is because today is our au pair's first time at the pool with the kids, and I'm a super anxious former-lifeguard of a parent who had too much coffee this morning and whose head won't stop with the "what ifs." So I'm hovering nearby, not to spy, but to be near in case our au pair needs backup. (I still need to come up with a pseudonym for her because I don't like to say "au pair," and "nanny" isn't appropriate -- some au pairs even find it offensive because it's more cultural-exchange than employee. Anyway, I'll ask her to invent a name for next time!). 

I'm also trying to take advantage of my freedom and write emails and create setlists by the pool when I can. I tried to be sneaky and grab a chair in the far corner of the pool, but it took about 5 minutes before Graham popped up next to me and said, "Hi, Mommy! Can I have nachos? I saw your polka-dot swimsuit and hat, and I just knew it was you, even though you're wearing a swimsuit I've never seen before. And actually that swimsuit appears to have flamingos on it! Can you believe from a distance I thought they were white polka dots?" (laughs hysterically while stealing a nacho).

Then Angus found me and we all had a good snuggle. They went back to play with insert pseudonym, and I ended up finding my own mother, who, in retrospect,  perhaps was maybe also trying to snag a bit of alone time -- oops. Sorry, Mommy! She and I sat on the steps with our feet in the water saying nothing because, believe it or not, we are actually a very quiet family. We watched the boys get in the water with Pseudonym and watched them kick, splash, swim and laugh all the way across the lake together. Then Mom got on her scooter, went home, and I returned to emails and to my blog -- a place I haven't visited with regularity in years.

My cubicle view (my first time sporting a two-piece, which I only bought for the flamingo swim shirt that came with it -- but don't worry, dermatologist-friend, I only bared the tummy for about 90 seconds before throwing the swim shirt back on. My belly shall remain white as the day I was born. 

Thinking back on my thus-far 90 minutes at the pool: I have not yet relaxed. Will now attempt to put away my laptop, slather in sunscreen and maybe re-load Headspace on the phone for the first time in 3 years. Think it's possible? Probably not. But I'm grateful for the ability to try.