Happy New Year Everyone! I could not think of a more fitting New Year's text, than this poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson. Across Europe, there's quite the tradition of church bells tolling/bringing in the New Year.... Tennyson wrote an incredibly poignant poem on the subject. This text is more pertinent this year, than perhaps ever before.
We are so grateful for the continued love and prayers we have felt from all of our friends as little Scotty has been recovering. The GoFundMe has been updated, (not needing any further donations of course - as we have now received nearly $20K...we are so blessed and it's only up for informational purposes). We have been SO impressed with his recovery and are constantly counting our blessings. He is doing very well.
We are looking forward with light, hope and excitement to what 2021 has to offer, and are so grateful (truly) to what 2020 has taught us. Blessings to each of our dear friends and wonderful strangers who helped us on our path to where we are now. Thank you... this will conclude the virtual benefit (turned into gratitude) concert.
Please enjoy my arrangement based off of his words, and the Crawford Gate's hymn "Ring Out Wild Bells":
(Excerpt from: In Memoriam; Alfred Lord Tennyson)
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
(view FULL poem, which is AWESOME and SO applicable to this year here: https://poets.org/poem/memoriam-ring-out-wild-bells
I was so blessed to be able to safely record in Highland Park Community House's gorgeous ballroom. It wasn't without it's challenges though, to have to be so far apart. The ballroom has a (wonderful!) acoustic, but with the reverb we found it difficult while recording this, to be at the same spritely tempo I really want this piece to clip at (when there is a lag, and across a large space like that- it's easy to react off of someone's reverb, instead of their actual sound.) ...So! Anyway, while it's not quite the tempo I would like for this arrangement-- it's still worth it to me to share, due to the amazing text and sentiment and the celebration of what's to come! :) I have thoroughly enjoyed working on these arrangements and can't wait until they are all "live" someday soon and compiled according to my hopes! Thank you Andrew Blendermann for being such an awesome pianist, as per usual!
I just love this sweet girl of mine! :) Merry Christmas everyone!
Scott's Virtual Gratitude Concert Continues with three songs reflecting about Mary:
1. Mary's Lullaby:
One of my most cherished memories was holding my baby boy last year, (2019) he was 6 weeks old, and singing this song to him as if he was the baby Jesus for a Christmas program at my church. What a special song and such an interesting perspective to ponder on what Mary must have been thinking while holding her baby.
2. Mary Did You Know?
Quia Respexit from Bach's Magnificat:
This text is taken from Luke 1: "For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: behold, for from this time, may I be called blessed."
What a week we have had! Our little Scotty continues to heal and do SO well from his skull surgery this past week. It's truly incredible. It is incredible to me that he needs nothing for pain much at this point, just 5 days post-operation. For now, the hardest thing for him is sleep disruptions due to the swelling in the head and being uncomfortable shifting in his sleep at night, and just needing to be held. The swelling will continue to subside over the coming weeks. As is first and most important when healing from anything, REST is so critical.
And so, continuing in our virtual gratitude concert, I found it appropriate to share this one at this point in his healing journey...and I hope it brings peace and restful sentiments to anyone else who may need it at this time for any other reason:
Text translation from Gabriel Faure's Requiem "Pie Jesu" is:
Merciful Jesus, Lord, grant them rest, grant them rest, eternal rest.
In case you're interested in the details about what it was all about
(sharing now only for informational purposes, as we have been more than helped, thank you!) Here is the original GoFundMe post: https://gf.me/u/y8ngq8
UPDATE December 20, 2020: We have now turned off the fundraising, as we have now raised over $19,000. It is just astounding to us the outpouring of love and support we feel.
Words cannot express my gratitude to everyone who has contributed or shared our GoFundMe, or shared videos or offered prayers, and good vibes (which mean just as much to us!!). Our dear friends, family, and perfect strangers have now met & surpassed our $10,000 goal for Scott's surgery.
Our virtual concert will continue as we try to come up with a way to give back our love and thanks. Tears are freely flowing. We are so grateful. You can view the entire/updated and most recent videos for this concert on this playlist here:
The virtual benefit concert for my baby Scott's skull surgery continues!
This time, starring his big sis. Here's our version of Count on Me, featuring guest artist, Ella Sparrow. If you feel inspired to share the gofundme, here is the link: https://gf.me/u/y8ngq8
I'm continually amazed at the kindness and generosity of our audience (aka friends, family, and wonderful strangers). Thank you so so much.
Our baby Scott (1 year old) will have a major skull reconstruction surgery next month. In June this year, our sweet baby Scott was diagnosed with Scaphocephaly due to Craniosynostosis (the premature fusion of skull bones). If left uncorrected, the resulting skull shape can restrict blood flow in the brain and cause intracranial pressure as he grows. To correct this, the surgical team makes a huge incision across the top of the head, then they reconstruct the skull bones by removing and cutting/shaping them, and then replace the skull and sew it all up. It's intense. And, we of course want the absolute best care possible for him, which involves going to a surgeon that is out of network with our insurance, and traveling from Chicago to Dallas. While we realize that we are more fortunate than many, Covid has significantly impacted us financially this year.
For more details please see our Go Fund Me Link. We are so grateful for any help with sharing and spreading the news: http://gf.me/u/y8jzv3
His surgery will be in just over 3 weeks from now, and in gratitude to our friends and family for their support and prayers-- and also in an effort to raise awareness about Cranio, I will be offering a virtual (ongoing) benefit concert for Scott's surgery leading up to Dec 8.
These will be short one-song videos compiled into a youtube playlist, that are uplifting, peaceful, and soothing in nature. I plan to release a new video every couple few days or so. (Singing these pieces also helps ease my own anxiety!)
We also would love to help in anyway we can to increase awareness for this condition and educate others so they can watch for it among the babies in their lives as well.
Notoriously this condition goes by undetected by pediatricians. (We are so grateful for the one who thought Scott may need to see a specialist/neurosurgeon to be properly diagnosed.....after three other pediatricians missed the signs altogether.) So we welcome ANY questions about all things related to this. It's not awkward for us to talk about at all. :) I will be sharing the gofundme link with a new song attached each time.
We are so grateful for your prayers and support at this time!
This short and sweet french art song is called "L'heure Exquise" by Reynaldo Hahn. Text below-
English Translation: Richard Stokes
The white moon
Gleams in the woods;
From every branch
There comes a voice
Beneath the boughs...
O my beloved.
The pool reflects,
Of the black willow
Where the wind is weeping...
Let us dream, it is the hour.
A vast and tender
Seems to fall
From the sky
The moon illumines...
I had a nice time putting this together with my sweet 3 year old girl, (and my baby boy's sleeping cameo)...please remember that in difficult times, you'll never walk alone, as long as you have hope and the ones you love near you. Blessings to those who have lost a loved one. We pray for you always.
Make a face shield for yourself or others at home with materials you already have!
2 or 2.5 liter CLEAR (unscratched) plastic bottle - WHEN REMOVING LABEL, Sometimes the label sticks/residue stays on the plastic.
That's ok- You want to CUT that part off, so that the clear plastic remaining, becomes the shield.
Strong scissors (quilting scissors work great)
clear tape - high quality duct tape works well.
Headbands or Elastic, or even large rubber bands could work.
Instructions - Please follow instructions in the 3 min video~ if you are trying to produce A LOT of face shields, the most important detail is then to make sure that you allow the bottle to stay rounded when you cut the 2.5-3 inch wide gap and make the face shape...it needs to be curved enough that the bottle will stay sealed around the face.
This DIY solution is perhaps even more effective than other face shields, because it easily seals completely onto your face. It's a hard sell for a hospital to use maybe, but it works GREAT on the home front, and especially since there is no shortage of pop bottles in our country. And what a way to be environmentally friendly!
Stay Healthy! #ThinkOutsideYourBox rachelsparrow.com/blog
Go to: A Warning about Elderberry & Vit D - 7 Immunity building tips for Viruses
Go to: 33 Tips for Being Squeaky Clean while out ? # 9 is brilliant & easy!
Important Note: I am not a doctor, and am not attempting to give medical advice. You should always talk to your practitioner for individual guidance. The following are general recommendations from health practitioners regarding all coronaviruses, flus, and the common cold. These strategies assist our body's immune system to fight colds and viruses of all kinds.
I wanted to share this warning, for any
of my friends who might think,
"Oh no! I'm coughing! Quick!
Let's load up on Elderberry syrup!"
This might not be the best idea.
"Accumulating evidence suggests that a subgroup of patients with severe COVID-19 might have a cytokine storm syndrome." see source
This is not a 'weather' prediction, but a sort of flurry or "storm" of your immune system which can happen when your body is experiencing a serious viral infection. See the Medical Dictionary definition here.
My Integrative medicine doctor explained to me, that Elderberry may in fact work AGAINST you when symptoms occur for COVID-19.
The same warning may also be true for: Vitamin D, (too much of it, as it can accumulate over time) Echinacea, Mushroom Extracts, and Larch arabinogalactan (this is a starch-like chemical that is found in many plants, but it is found in highest concentrations in Larch trees, see other common names)
So - the directive here is, Elderberry is fine and even GOOD as a preventative, and is a helpful measure to help boost your immune system. However once you have symptoms for ANY illness right now, (due to the lack of widespread tests) to be cautious, discontinue the use of Elderberry, Echinacea, or Mushroom Extracts, Larch, or supplemental Vitamin D (see details on the PDF below).
My Doctor referred me to: The Andrew Weill Center for Integrative Medicine, where they have provided the following explanation: (See topic "IM Strategies for COVID-19): "People want integrative strategies to augment public health measures to prevent COVID-19 infection and associated pneumonia. Unfortunately, no integrative measures have been validated in human trials. Notwithstanding, this is an opportune time to be proactive. Using available in-vitro evidence, an understanding of the virulence of COVID-19, as well as data from similar, but different, viruses, click/download below to read the strategies to consider."
I have included their PDF viewable below: & You can also download it here.
Here's 7 additional helpful tips for fighting off viruses:
1. SALINE NOSE RINSING or Nasal Irrigation
There is evidence to suggest that saline nose rinsing (such as with a neti pot) can decrease the duration of viral illness, such as the common cold. You may choose to incorporate this into your squeaky clean new habits for when you return home from any public place. Be sure to follow directions about using only distilled water + saline (NEVER use tap water).
HOW TO DO IT:
For Adults and older kids: watch this video produced by the Mayo Clinic
For toddlers or babies- Be sure to watch the adult video above, and THEN also my instructions & video here. Its an amazing way to help a congested baby or toddler sleep better, and is the most effective snot-clearing method I've ever seen.
(yes soooo much better than nosa frieda or the bulb syringe!)
A friend once asked me, "Why don't you just blow your nose?" ...After experiencing the joys and relief of nasal rinsing on the regular- I can assure you, it's not the same.
I can blow my nose until I'm blue in the face, and then directly afterward do a nasal rinse, and see all kinds of gunk come out of my face when I'm sick or fighting something off. Just to be clear, this is not the same thing as spritzing saline spray up into your nasal passages. Nasal rinsing, or irrigation actually uses the water flow to push the mucous out.
INSTANT RELIEF! You feel lighter, clean, and clear. And you will be so grossed out and weirdly fascinated at the same time as to what comes out (especially when you're sick) that you might get hooked, and want to do it every day, (or be like the people described in this article who watch it on youtube all the time) for every cold or even allergy season! It also helps reduce post-nasal drip, (which can cause irritations in your throat) thereby minimizing coughing. (so important for those of us needing to protect our voice!)
Many people are freaked out at first by the prospect of pouring saline thru their nose...You will not drown! Just relax, the first few times can be interesting, but follow directions by keeping mouth open and breathing normally, until you find the right angle/head tilt for it to just flow.
*Some may say, why do this? why not just take a decongestant? ...My response is this, If your body is producing mucous, that means it must be trying to get rid of something, right? ...why on earth would you want to stop that practice - and halt your body's NATURAL response to getting rid of infection? ...nope. So much nope. Don't dry up your body's natural response - it's trying to do the right thing. Help your body out by doing Nasal Rinsing- and get that clearer feeling in your sinuses after a nice nasal rinse!
2. Vitamin C, Zinc, (if you can find it) - there's tons of info out there about these two so I won't elaborate. Zinc is incredible and particularly recommended as an advantageous supplement for Covid-19, so far, any way.
AND THE BEST KEPT SECRET EVER AWARD goes to:
3. Oregano oil -This stuff burns and tastes AWFUL, so, (using a mirror!), carefully do two drops under both sides of the tongue, try to avoid the taste buds on the top side of your tongue at all costs. ...Don't trust your friend/room mate/or spouse to do it for you either. If you drop too many drops in, you don't want to have anyone but yourself to blame for that horrid experience. (which is bad enough with just two) Bleeeeghhhh.
Once you do the drops, tilt your head upwards to let it run back, to get down your throat faster. Don't eat or drink anything for a little while afterwards to maximize effectiveness. Oregano oil has antiviral & antibacterial properties and effectively assists your immune system in "zapping" the infection. You can do this once or twice a day. Then, when you feel that tickle in your throat, or first sign of infection- do it as often as you can stand - several times a day or throughout the night. This is safe for pregnant women too. (I used it a lot while pregnant, per Integrative Medicine doctor's advice). It really is something you have to experience to believe how much it helps. I know for a fact has helped me stop colds in their tracks before they gain any traction.
4. FRESH GINGER TEA (see multiple uses in photo):
Making your own FRESH Ginger tea in a large batch for the week, is super easy.
1. Start a large pot of water (like a gallon or so) on the stove and get it boiling.
2. Using a potato peeler, or even a butter knife, quickly peel a 2-3 inch chunk of ginger root.
3. Grate it up into small little bits.
4. Drop the ginger bits into the water to boil for 10-15 mins
5. Let it the ginger water cool to at least lukewarm temperature before continuing
6. Use a fine strainer (or a coffee filter also works) to pour the water through into another container to extract the larger chunks of ginger fibers floating around, then you have your yellow liquid large batch for ginger tea
7. Place this liquid in a larger gallon pitcher and place into the fridge. (It's good like this for about a week.)
8. Pour out your Ginger tea base into your cup, dilute if needed, add lemon and honey to suit your taste, and heat in a microwave (be careful not to over-heat) ...but I find that (with my microwave anyway) 60 seconds is just about right to heat it up to a nice tea temperature (if it was cold from the fridge) by the cup.
Once you've made this...Now what?
Drink a LARGE glass of it each night before bed. At the risk of sounding gross, here's what I like to do: I make the ginger tea as strong as I can stand (so I don't dilute it much) ...add lots of lemon and honey...make it nice and hot, but "gulpable", if that makes sense. Gulping a few gulps at a time, even though it is strong, helps me clear the mucous draining down the very back of the throat...by then hacking it out, and spitting. ...it's effective. :) So, I will make a tall glass, sit down to watch a show, or read - and throughout the duration of the show, for example... "Gulp, Gulp, Gulp" ...and Spit. ...Repeat every so often during the show until your tall glass is gone...helpful to have the waste basket right next to you.
5. HYDRATE -- A good rule of thumb, is to never let your throat feel dry.
Try to drink some water every 15-20 mins to achieve this
Your urine should be as clear as possible.
Carrying a water bottle around with you is a good practice
(a staple among professional singers like me) .
Set a glass of water by your bedside.
Add a humidifier to your sleeping and living spaces. (Unless you already live in a very humid environment)
Make sure you have enough electrolytes (Coconut water without extra sugars is great for this) and are eating plenty of fruits/veggies or soups to increase hydration.
6. Thieves' Oil - Also has antiviral properties. I like to diffuse this in the air whenever anyone is sick at home. Some people take it internally on the regular. DoTerra's "Onguard" is the same thing as Thieves Oil. You can use it topically to kill germs. Worked for 15th century thieves, so they could steal from people who were dying from the Bubonic plague. Morbid, I know.
7. Perhaps most important: DE-STRESSING! Our immune systems work best when they are not stressed. Try Chamomile for a nice calming tea, it's my favorite. (and it's also on their detailed list when you look into the PDF above!) - Also, if you are suffering from Anxiety related to any of all of the uncertainty around us right now, please see this amazing list of resources for coping.
This doesn't count as a "tip"
because everyone should really know this already...but: SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPP!!!!!!!!
(Like my baby boy in the picture! )
- This is your body's time to rebuild and fight off 'all the things' and reset. Make it a priority. Not always easy to do. I have evaded many many colds, simply by SLEEPING A LOT at the first sign of a cold or infection. Its PROVEN by SOOO many studies that this is esssential to allowing your body's immune system to do it's job. See above document for more on this, including the research behind this!
At the very first symptom...I always try cancel for a day (sometimes two) and take a solid nap, or make sure I get to bed early that night. It's pretty easy to do really. Think of the alternative (which is what so many people do!) They push through, ignoring their body's signals that it is fighting an infection - and then, "oh no!" surprise, we are super sick and need to cancel everything for a few days anyway, (or should) but this time, we just feel way worse.
It is amazing what adequate rest can do to regenerate and boost your immunity!
Lastly but most importantly, as always, EATING HEALTHILY, is the best practice. None of the above strategies can replace the bottom line of eating good food! I always try to "eat a rainbow" at every meal that I can. Lots of colors on your plate is a very good thing.
As the detailed PDF above states, particularly good in your diet right now are:
fruits and veggies, onions, apples, organs, tomatoes, nuts, berries, chamomile, licorice, parsley, celery, and licorice root, and chinese skullcap.
Limit your sugar intake, exercise, limit caffeine intake, minimize (or cut out) alcohol consumption, minimize stress and anxiety the best you can ...and right now would be a GREAT time for anyone to quit smoking/vaping/anything...ever.
Stay Healthy! #ThinkOutsideYourBox rachelsparrow.com/blog
Go to: 33 Tips for Being Squeaky Clean while out ? # 9 is brilliant & easy!
Or do you want to know how to stay positive about social distancing?
Read My Letter To My Friends & Family.
"Becoming a mother changed me. I have more love, passion, and fulfillment in life; which in turn, enriches my artistry. Please join me in normalizing motherhood within the performing artist's culture."
- Rachel Sparrow
Rachel Sparrow is a professional singer, musician,(violin, piano, ukulele) actor, teacher, arranger, writer, and most importantly: a wife and a mommy of two littles. She loves to help parents make everyday life musical with their kids as well as share backstage stories, and performance experiences here. She earned her Master's degree in Voice Performance from Northwestern University, and also holds two Bachelor's degrees in Voice, and Music Education (certified to teach k-12 vocal & instrumental music) from Idaho State University. She is also a certified Music Together Director (music class for birth-5 yrs). See about Rachel.
"Think Outside Your Box" means 3 things:
1. Be Selfless - think beyond your own "box". (and for singers, there's more to life than your voice box!) You're capable of helping and healing others.
2. Feel Empowered to bust out of the proverbial
"box" made of societally-induced-parameters.
3. Be Bold. Innovate. Stretch yourself. You can do anything if you set your mind to it.