Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Year Christmas Came Early

Birthday girl at age 2

When Christmas Came Early

Musical Weekend Alters Birthday

NOTE: Portions of this 12/11 birthday celebration are a reprint. Red Bank and Easton Photo Slide Shows have been added.

The second weekend of December has always been prime time for special Christmas music programs in Protestant churches. It was also the boon of our daughter's youth.

The most likely weekend of the year that both musician parents would be playing in church orchestras, complete with Saturday morning rehearsals and performances Sunday morning, afternoon, and/or evening, is not conducive to the celebratory staple of young girls everywhere -- a birthday sleep-over.

While parties ran the gamut of skating, bowling, attending Nutcracker Ballet performances to gathering a flock of young girls for food and fun at the "in" pizza or hamburger hangout, the sleep-over phase always had to be postponed a week because even Super Mom and Dad couldn't provide breakfast, clear the premises, and be sitting in the oboe and percussion sections, respectively, for a 9 a.m. downbeat.

Thirty-three years ago our family's December 11 birth announcement proclaimed that Christmas had arrived early for our family.

Three Generations Cheer for Clay

Longtime readers may recall that stories involving my late mother are classics within our family, and Jen's 1974 birth date was no exception.

During the second season of American Idol, all three generations shared an enthusiasm for a certain singer from North Carolina.

The birthday story continues below the interlude. Meanwhile, here are headlines and concert reports from this week in Clay Land.

Photo links to Red Bank CITH Slide Show

Clicking on the above picture by NJRP4Clay will link to a Red Bank CITH Photo Slide Show. Also featured in Tuesday night's concert collection are photos by LynninNJ, KarenEh, Tangerinee, and Dianagreeneyes.

Holiday Tour Rolls Into NJ, PA

This week Clay & Coi. take the CITH's unique holiday concert with symphony orchestra to five locales in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Links are provided for each venue.

12-13-07 Morristown, NJ Mayo Center for Performing Arts, 8 p.m. EST
12-15-07 Williamsport, PA
Community Arts Center, 7:30 p.m. EST
12-16-07 Erie, PA
Erie Civic Center Complex, 7:30 p.m. EST

Photo links to Easton CITH Slide Show

Clicking on the above picture by Dianagreeneyes will link to an Easton CITH Photo Slide Show. Also highlighting Wednesday's concert are photos by LynninNJ and Riversend22.

'The Revenge of the Wholesome'

In an interview with The Express Times -- Clay Molds Nicely to Life's Offering -- the singer discusses everything from Jimmy Kimmel, "Spamalot," My Friend Mikayla, and TBAF to the Christmas show and this season's story readers. The entire article is worth the read!

"I enjoy everything I do," says Clay Aiken with a laugh. And he sounds like he means it.

The "American Idol" runner-up may be enjoying things so much because he's carved out a niche for himself.

The revenge of the wholesome might be the best way to put it. He's like the kid who was in high school plays but never hip enough to become the star. Aiken has become Opie in an era of Britney.

And over the phone he seems, well, Opie-style nice. He has good Southern manners. There's no pretense at trying to be cool. Maybe at this point being anti-cool is the new cool?

Clickable Glimpses from 'Holiday on Ice'
Photos #0710016, #0710054, #0710016, #0717125
Copyright: Andrea "Hoo" Chempinski

Chempinski Shares Ice Photos

Photographer Andrea "Hoo" Chempinski has provided an assortment of "Holiday on Ice" rehearsal/show pictures at ScratchSpin.

The Chempinski photos are copyrighted and may only be used in accordance with the guidelines she has posted here.

The NBC "Holiday on Ice" special will be televised on Christmas Day.

Clay Top Man at Lycos for 2007

In a story on Yahoo, Clay was this week named the most searched male for 2007.

Top 10 Men of 2007

1) Clay Aiken
2) Tupac Shakur
3) Nelly
4) Akon
5) 50 Cent
6) Chris Brown
7) Zac Efron
8) Eminem
9) Justin Timberlake
10) Bow Wow

And while the male stars of the big screen generate mega headlines offline, Clay Aiken continues to be the leading man online with web users, taking the top spot as the most-searched man of 2007 for the second year in a row.

The singer is #8 in this week's Lycos 50 with "Holiday Tour" as the sub-title.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable interlude features graphic designs and CITH photos by eight visual artists, including Amazing_CA, photos by ClayIzzaQT, 1 and 5; Amazing_CA, photos by Toni7babe, 2; Ambassador of Love, photo by PermaSwooned, 3; and Artz11, photo and screen cap by SmartyPantsSuz and Jojoct, 4.

Stork Finally Finds Us

Mr. Caro and I were married nine years before our daughter arrived. For half that time, I was busy graduating from college, teaching band, and writing for newspapers while my husband, a percussionist, completed his music education degree.

We had barely moved to Nashville -- midway between families in Texas and North Carolina -- when the stork finally found us.

For me, childbirth was a snap -- no morning sickness, hardly any labor, the birth of a first child within an hour of our arrival at the hospital. We had taken Lamaze Classes for prepared/natural childbirth and had faithfully practiced breathing techniques.

Rush Hour Hospital Run

During the harrowing 30-minute drive to the hospital in rush hour traffic, Mr. Caro weaved around speeding cars and trucks while I put into practice the breathing lessons we had learned.

Once there, he calmly went through the routine of hospital admissions and his requisite morning cup of coffee while I logged in with eight centimeters dilation, quickly progressing to 10.

The father-to-be entered a waiting room filled with haggard expectant dads whose bloodshot eyes and morning beards spelled their sleepless night. Before he could even locate a chair, the door opened and an obstetrics nurse barked, "Are you Mr. Caro?" He nodded. "Well, if you want to see your baby being born, you'd better come with me right now!"

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later at 9:05 a.m., we welcomed our daughter into the world. The drummer later asked me if I ever used any of the breathing techniques.

Petite or Premature?

The proud new father spent many an hour gazing through the nursery window while our infant daughter slept. She must have known he was there because she often awoke and smiled back at him.

On more than one occasion, he just grinned and listened while others "oohed" and "ahhed" about how pretty this baby was. December 11 must have been the birth date for the nucleus of a football team in this Nashville hospital because several visitors seemed to think Caro Jr. -- a very healthy 6 lb. 9 oz. -- was too tiny.

When one overly-concerned new grandmother finally asked if our daughter was premature, Mr. Caro couldn't resist: "Nope, she was 10 years late." Of course, with a mother at 5'2" and a father claiming every bit of his 5'4 1/4" stature, our daughter was pre-programmed petite.

With family members 14 and 18 hours away, Mr. Caro began trying to alert the new grandparents. Early morning on a workday didn't help matters. Sitting by the phone, his folks in Odessa, TX, were elated at the news. Mine were a different story.

Spreading News Hits Snag

Frustrated with no way to reach my mother, who was teaching fifth grade in Wilmington, NC, at the time, Mr. Caro finally called the main office of the New Hanover County school system to determine her location and phone number. That plus a clever principal was all he needed.

Mama Mac had planned an important unit that day, and her presentation had already been interrupted several times. When the principal inquired by intercom if she would mind his making an announcement before she proceeded, we're told she replied, "If you must."

Delighted, the principal then opened up the intercom to the entire school and passed along the news:

"I've just received a phone call from Nashville, TN, and we'd like to congratulate Mrs. Mac on becoming a grandmother at 9:05 a.m. today. Mother and daughter are both doing fine."

Our no-nonsense matriarch probably enjoyed a brief celebration with her class and promptly returned to the lesson as planned.

Christmas at the Keyboard, Age 3

One of my favorite pictures of Jen was snapped by a photographer at a Music City holiday party when she was three years old, Christmas cookie crumbs embellishing her smile.

Though she tried taking piano from her mother for two "traumatic" years, our daughter later found her musical niche singing and playing the cello. Ballet and modern dance also played a huge role in her life from age 5 through high school.

As readers of this blog know, Jen became a mother herself in September and is learning that every day with her young son is a whole new adventure.

True to form, her mom and Kai's grandma spent the second weekend of December in rehearsals and performances.

Happy Birthday, Daughter!

Have a wonderful week, Clay Nation!


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