Turning books into singable stories has been a little hobby of mine since my first music therapy practicum in grad school (almost 10 years ago!). I’ve used dozens and dozens of them in my work as a therapist, and now they are serving double duty in my newest career as a mom.
Parker was gifted an entire bookcase worth of books when he was born, and we have been steadily adding to the collection throughout his first year of life. Just this afternoon I was going through them and realized a baby-centered singable story series might be a great addition to the blog…especially since so many of my music therapist colleagues have recently become moms!
One of my very favorite books in Parker’s collection is one that he received for Christmas from my mom. It’s called I’ll See You in the Morning, and it made me cry the first time I flipped through it. The story is sweet, the illustrations are lovely, and best of all, it makes for the perfect singable story.
Singing this book has become a part of our bedtime routine, and I’ve started sharing it with other moms too. We have quite a few “going to bed” books on the shelf, but this one is definitely our favorite. What’s yours?
Parker has always been a charmer, but based on his birthday party, I think it’s safe to say that he specializes in small groups rather than large crowds. As more and more people arrived and showered attention on him, it was clear that the birthday boy was feeling more than a little bashful. But the straw would break the camel’s back a little bit later.
We went all out with the nautical theme to match his nursery and new playroom (more on that coming soon!). So naturally Parker dressed the part in a sailor suit as the guests arrived. But before long, he made his first wardrobe change into swim attire so that he could join all his friends in the pool.
My mom and stepdad went above and beyond by not only hosting the party — which included opening up their pool to a gaggle of babies and toddlers! — but also preparing almost all the food. The spread was pretty fantastic. My mother-in-law contributed with fruit and desserts, and my mom’s friend Terri created the awesome cookies. I’m not much of a chef, so I stuck to decorating and making sure everyone was having a good time.
Parker made the rounds throughout the party, but spent the majority of it chilling in the pool with his buddies. He loves his friends! It was so cute watching them interact in the water. Parker looks like such a little peanut next to them (though to be fair, he is the youngest by several months).
The weather was beautiful…a perfect day for a pool party. It was fun watching everyone splash around and have a good time. That is by far the most people ever to swim in that pool at once.
After we filled up on hot dogs, hamburgers, pasta salad, and lots of other yummy food, it was time to sing “Happy Birthday”. Parker wasn’t thrilled about sitting in his high chair, and it only went downhill from there. He burst into tears as soon as everyone started singing to him, and wanted absolutely nothing to do with his smash cake.
I smiled for this photo, but inside my heart was breaking for my overstimulated, overwhelmed, overtired little buddy. I rescued him from the hot seat a few moments later, but not before Zach dangled him over his cake. I’m sure you can guess how I felt about that!
At that point, the 30+ person crowd began to thin out and Parker had a chance to chill out. He opened a couple gifts, including a pair of Air Jordans from his friends Augie and Charlie. Pretty fancy!
He also got his very own personalized soccer jersey, which of course Zach put on him immediately. One of my mom’s gifts to Parker was an engraved Louisville Slugger bat with his name and the Cubs logo. I think Daddy was much more excited about it than Parker :) Parker’s cousin Mason helped him open the rest of his gifts.
I’m so grateful first and foremost to my parents for hosting and doing all the hard work involved with throwing the party. The rest of the grandparents (especially my mother-in-law) helped out and made it such a special event. So many of our friends and family traveled to Springfield to help Parker celebrate; we are super thankful for the great company and of course, all the awesome gifts Parker received!
After the party was over, we loaded everything up and took our exhausted one-year-old (!) home to get ready for bed. Needless to say, he slept VERY well that night. We all did, actually. It was a wonderful day, but I’m glad first birthday bashes only happen once.
After almost two years of taking weekly photos, we’ve wrapped up our latest project. The first was my pregnancy series, and no one was happier to see that end than Zach and I — finding a fruit that corresponded with the baby’s size became more stressful each week.
But the “52 Weeks of Parker” series coming to a close was a little more bittersweet, and for obvious reasons. Getting Parker to pose for his weekly photo was no easy feat in those last couple of months, but somehow we managed to pull it off.
For the most part, Parker was a good sport and played along with us. We got some pretty cute shots, and I know we will treasure the photos that show his growth throughout the first year. But the best photo of all is the very last one: it says loud and clear, “ALL DONE!”
I had the photos printed and then hung them up for everyone to see at Parker’s first birthday party (more on that coming soon). I also made a little video and recorded a special song to go along with it. Watch the video here.
For the 4th summer in a row, my Music Therapy Round Table colleagues and I devoted a few days to what has come to be called the “MTRT Summit” — where we focus on brainstorming and planning for the following year.
This year we convened in northern California, where our newest colleague Matt Logan lives. While we spend a good majority of the long weekend sitting around his table with our laptops open, we did find time to enjoy some delicious food and wine (in Napa Valley, no less!).
I arrived early Friday evening, so Matt and I went out to dinner and started doing a little preliminary planning for the weekend. Michelle and Kimberly’s flight had been delayed, so they didn’t end up getting in until 11 pm. I was already asleep by the time they got to the hotel! We had a super early morning on Saturday, which began with coffee and breakfast at a yummy diner in Berkeley.
Next we met up with Matt’s friend and photographer Tara, who took photos for our website and promotional materials. She was great to work with, and it was a bonus that we got to hang out on the water at the same time. I can’t wait to see the photos after she edits and sends them next week.
After the photo shoot, we headed to Matt’s house for a long day of work. And by “work” I mean bouncing ideas off of each other, setting goals for the year, coming up with new projects, and enjoying the awesome company. We only see each other in person twice a year, so it hardly feels like work even though we are super productive and our brains hurt afterwards.
It’s really amazing how much we can accomplish when we are all together in the same room! One of the very best parts of our yearly summit is recording the podcast, since we’re used to doing it via Skype. Being able to read each other’s cues, make eye contact, and really just chat without having to worry about any potential technical difficulties is a breath of fresh air. This month’s episode is one of my favorites.
The best way to avoid the afternoon slump? A delicious lunch followed by a quick wine tasting. When in Rome, right? We were all ready to get back to work following our excursion, and ended up ordering pizza later that night because we were on such a roll and didn’t want to stop working. That’s when you know you love what you do :)
Our last full day together! Matt made us a delicious breakfast on Sunday morning, and then we picked up right where we had left off the night before. We finished recording both podcasts, mapped out our new content, did quite a bit of writing, and came up with topics for the entire next year. Whew! We more than earned an afternoon in Napa Valley, which is where we headed as soon as our work was done.
Matt took us to his favorite winery, Judd’s Hill, where we learned all about lots of different kinds of wine (and of course, tasted them too). The weather was gorgeous and it felt so wonderful to sit in the sun. The view wasn’t so bad either — miles and miles of vineyards with mountains in the distance. Next we had lunch and then enjoyed another tasting at a different spot before heading home.
All good things must come to an end, and for us, that was the next morning. Michelle, Kimberly and I headed to the airport at 5 am to catch our flights, but not before taking one last photo. I had a looooong day of flying, followed by a two hour drive home. After being away from my son Parker for the first time since he was born, it was pretty sweet to see him when I walked through the door.
I can’t wait to share with you everything we have planned for Music Therapy Round Table and Music Therapy Pro this year. Not only that, but our summit inspired me to make some big plans for my own personal businesses (Listen & Learn and Music Therapy Connections) as well. Now I just need a few more hours in each day to carry them all out! ;)
The last solo flight I took was almost exactly two years ago — when Parker was just a glint in my eye — to visit my friend Vanessa in Orlando. Since then I’ve traveled a LOT, but it has always been with my family. The last 6 flights I’ve taken have included a carseat, stroller, giant suitcase, multiple diaper bags, and a baby strapped to my chest.
So it feels a little strange breezing through the airport with just a carry-on and shoulder bag. I forgot how easy it is! But every time I see a family carting all of the aforementioned baggage, I get a little teary; this is the first time I’ve left Parker overnight, let alone for a long weekend.
I’m not going to lie: there were LOTS of tears as I said goodbye to him this morning. Poor Zach had to endure my endless stream of reminders and post-it notes tacked on to every surface of the house, but he took it like a champ. He knows how hard this is for me, but he also reminded me a million times how great this trip will be. And how much I deserve it, bless his heart :)
Every summer, I get together with my music therapy colleagues Michelle and Kimberly (and this year, Matt too!) for a “working weekend” in order to plan the upcoming year for our podcast and business. Matt lives in California, so we are heading there for 3 days of extremely productive work…plus seeing the sights of San Francisco and enjoying the wineries of Napa Valley. It’s going to be awesome.
I know my friends will keep me thoroughly distracted and entertained, but at least a little piece of my mind will always be wondering what my baby is doing. I’ve already told Zach that I expect photos every hour and multiple FaceTime chats each day. And kissing his little face when I get home on Monday night will be the best moment ever.
Welcome! I’m Rachel Rambach, board-certified music therapist and creator of Listen & Learn Music — educational songs and musical materials for children. I love sharing my work with you, along with my behind-the-scenes creative process, adventures in business ownership, and life as a mom of two little ones.
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Next month’s music therapy sessions, early childhood groups, or classroom music…planned for you in advance.
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