Life is Music is Life

I have never really written about this anywhere, but today I watched “The Last Song” and it really made me nostalgic. I grew up surrounded by music.  My parents raised me on classic rock. My first memorable concert complete with souvenirs was Foreigner (technically Sammy Kershaw was my first, but I remember nothing about it).  I was a rather dramatic child who was known to break into song at any time.

In sixth grade I decided to join band. Of course I wanted to play percussion. That’s when I met one of the three most influential men of my life. Mr. Collier scared me at first. He was extremely gruff and demanding. He smoked like a freight train. He threatened to tie us up by our toenails and burn our houses down. I ended up loving that man as much as I loved my own grandfather. He believed in me – I was the only girl who played drums from sixth grade until I was a junior. He made me take lessons and told me I was going to be something great. He gave me confidence and helped bring me out of my shell. He introduced me to great men like Coltrane and Armstrong and Miller. He made me fall head over heels in love with real jazz. Showed me how to be a real musician. He pushed me hard. There just aren’t enough words to describe how much he meant to me. When he died, the world lost a great man.

I get curious looks a lot when people look through my music. Everything’s there… rock, hip hop, opera, jazz, metal, country. I will listen to anything at least once.  I seriously can’t imagine my life without music. I mean, I married a musician. We have an entire closet full of guitars and a keyboard. We’ve got a drumset in our office that we bought just after we got engaged. It’s common to hear music in several rooms at the same time here in our house. We spent way more time picking all the music for our wedding than we did for anything else! I mean, who else have you ever heard of who had hymns, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and Smashing Pumpkins in their wedding?


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Growing. Up.

So my 25th birthday is just 12 short days away. I’ve been thinking.

I feel more like myself than I ever have before. Is this an ongoing thing as you get older? You just keep becoming more like the person you really are? It’s like getting married, then moving, then moving again, has peeled layers of paint off me.

I like the person I’m becoming. I’m a lot more fun to be now than I was, say, 10 years ago. Somehow, I think I like growing up in my 20’s better than I did when I was little! It’s like I’m doing it backwards now. When I was little, I grew taller (no short jokes). Now that I’m older I’m growing up on the inside. I try more stuff, I’ve made more friends, I’ve learned a lot. Ha, that sounds like a description for a toddler at daycare! Speaking of toddlers, I feel a lot like a kid. In a good way, I guess. I have played more games this past year than I’ve ever played before. I think we ask everybody at least once while they’re here at our house if they want to play a game.

This may sound conceited, but I love that I am known for my cooking. My entire childhood and adolescence was spent being surrounded by a family of wonderful cooks and I desperately wanted to be that when I grew up. When I was about 12, I noticed how much food my Mamaw would make for our weekly family Sunday dinners. I thought she must be crazy (but trust me, I was thankful for it)!  The older I get, the more  I realize that that massive amount of food every week wasn’t just food – it was a physical representation of Mamaw loving all of us. There’s just something about making something that someone you love will eat and enjoy. I guess I’m the crazy one now.

I love that I’ll be celebrating my birthday in two states again this year. It’s not because I get multiple parties (like the spoiled 11-year-old that I am) but that I get to spend time with my friends here in North Carolina AND I get to see my family! That’s something else I’ve learned in the past two years… I would rather be able to see your face and have a good time with you than to get any kind of present (except maybe the food kind or the book kind). I think that’s why I really enjoy having people at my house.

So yeah. I still like this growing up stuff.

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What’s in a Name?

If you’re here, you probably know my name is Kennetha. Go ahead, try to pronounce it if you don’t already know how.

Moving on.

It’s pronounced Kuh-nee-thuh. Kennetha. Almost like it’s spelled Kuhneetha. I am not complaining or crying if you pronounced it wrong. It’s basically been the story of my life.

Before I was born, I was supposed to be a Hannah. (Les was supposed to be a Scott. Hannah and Scott Hopkins. Weird.) I somehow magically became Kennetha because my dad thought it was awesome. His name is Kenneth. See the appeal? Hence the explaining began…

In Kindergarten, I had the longest name BUT I knew how to spell it already so there wasn’t some sort of identity-crisis issue. I was also consistently the teacher’s pet, so at least the teachers all knew my name by the time I got to their class. Then I went to middle school. Nobody knew me there. My life was suddenly full of Kenneth-ah, Ken-neth-ah, and a strangely lovable Konichiwa, thanks to a fellow drummer in band. (I actually liked that one. He still calls me that to this day.) By the time I got to 7th grade, teachers were finally starting to hear about me and knew my name.

Then high school. Thank goodness I had started high school band a year early and at least a good portion of the seniors knew me and could run interference. It got a lot better after my second semester. My junior year, a miracle happened. I met Les and his friends, and they christened me Neetha. It was a good day.

College was a totally different story. Nobody cared enough to know how to pronounce my name. It was a little sad. But then I started meeting people and even if the teachers didn’t know me outside class, those little groups of people could say my name! It got so much better after I started in the teaching program… people just started correcting the professors for me.

Work has always been interesting. Name tags make for great conversation starters. I also love answering phones and giving my name – the reaction of the people on the other end is always good for bringing me joy. I always get so excited when customers say it right!

I’d say the best story comes from Les at his Bible college. Everyone there was under the impression for a month that I was a woman of color. He didn’t bother to correct them – let’s just say I’m a shade beyond pasty. They were totally shocked when I showed up for my very first visit to campus and I was a little white girl! Oh, I’m rolling on the floor just thinking about it.

I’ve had a ton of nicknames. My great-grandmother called me by my middle name from the time I was born because she could never say my first name properly. Before 2003 and the birth of “Neetha”, there was Kenny. Kenny has always been sort of dear to my heart, since that is also my daddy’s nickname. People still call me this from time to time. From Kenny came Kenners, which is also very special to me. I still have one wonderful friend who stills calls me that, and she first started that almost 13 years ago! I’ve mentioned Konichiwa, which was around at approximately the same time as Cornneetha (another drumline moniker).

I’ll admit, I really hated my name for a few years just because of the trouble it brought. I’m proud to say that I came to love my name and how unique it is. Nevertheless, let me just state: my children will have short, pronounceable, gender-specific names!


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55 Books

So it’s been a week since my reading list came to a close, and I still cannot believe I actually read 55 books during 2010. Not to sound all cocky, but I knew I would read a lot. I mean, come on. It’s me we’re talking about. I literally read my eyes into horribleness as a child because I couldn’t put a book down long enough to turn a light on to see decently by. I know how to read a book while walking down a crowded hall and while riding on a bus full of band kids. I’m a reading PRO.

I feel really accomplished because of this list. I didn’t read any of the books more than once (except that one time I was at Mom and Dad’s in Tennessee and I may have accidentally reread Twilight because I left my other book at home in Kentucky) and I actually remember reading every single one. I remember reading Memoirs of a Geisha during naptime at the daycare and rubbing kids’ backs to get them to sleep. I especially remember a clump of the books I read in June because I bought them in Florida and proceeded to read all of them while we were on the trip. I was almost done with The Devil Wears Prada when I got hired at Dick’s.

I’m afraid I’ve been a little burnt out on literature now. I haven’t really started a book yet, but I’m not exactly worried. I just read 55 books, dude! I am allowed to be chill for a little while. I do have a book review coming up for Zondervan, and so far, the book is turning out pretty good. I have high hopes for it.

After saying all this, let me assure you, reader, that should you choose a goal for 2011, you can definitely do it. Not only did I do the book list, I also did a year of pictures. It’s hard, yes, but so incredibly rewarding!

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December List and Happy New Year!

December is pitifully sad, but I worked over 160 hours this month. 😦

Anyway, here’s the whole year in its entirety!

Books for the Year: 55

Books for January: 6
The Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker (Red, Black, White)
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith

Books for February: 3
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
The Gift of Asher Lev by Chaim Potok

Books for March: 8
Steering Through Chaos by Scott Wilson
The Magician’s Nephew
The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
The Horse and His Boy
Prince Caspian
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
The Silver Chair
The Last Battle (all by C. S. Lewis)

Books for April: 1

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Books for May: 6
Rhett Butler’s People by Daniel McCaig
The Narrow Road by Bro. Andrew with John & Elizabeth Sherrill
Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells
Little Altars Everywhere by Rebecca Wells
Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
New Moon by Stephenie Meyer

Books for June:  7
Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer
Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer
The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
Lost and Found by Ed Stetzer
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Ya-Yas in Bloom by Rebecca Wells
The Gospel According to Moses by Athol Dickson

Books for July: 2
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
The Outpouring by Elwood McQuaid

Books for August: 8
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J. K. Rowling
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
The Second Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling
Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

Books for September: 4
From One Ministry Wife to Another by Susie Hawkins
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Books for October: 3
The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger
Finn Mac Cool by Morgan Llywelyn
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Books for November: 6
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
First Test by Tamora Pierce
Page by Tamora Pierce
Squire by Tamora Pierce

Books for December: 1
Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce


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Cheater Lasagna

I made my cheater lasagna a few nights ago for some new friends who came to dinner. I call it “cheater” lasagna because it tastes just as delicious as my “full-on” lasagna, only it’s cheaper and takes much less work/time. So I thought, hey, this tastes good. Maybe I should share with the Internet. Because we all know the Internet craves a good Italian meal every once in a while. Maybe I’ll also add some pictures next time I make it.

9×13 pan, well greased

1 lb. ground beef
1 container ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1/2 cup grated parm
1 lb box uncooked lasagna noodles
2 of the big cans of spaghetti sauce (we use Hunt’s Garlic & Herb and Four Cheese mixed)
4 cups mozzarella cheese

Brown meat with salt and pepper. While that’s cooking, mix the eggs, parm, and ricotta. Throw in some parsley just to make it pretty.
Then mix the two cans of sauce so that the tastes are blended well. When the meat is ready, spread one cup of the sauce on the bottom of the pan. Layer noodles, and half each of the cheese mixture, meat, and mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers once, sprinkling some more parsley on top to give it a rustic look. Cover tightly with foil.

Bake 1 hour at 350°F or until cheese is bubbly and delicious-looking. Let the pan stand outside the oven for 10-15 minutes before serving.

We always serve green beans, garlic bread, and fresh salad with ours!

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November List

Books for November: 6
The Godfather by Mario Puzo
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
First Test by Tamora Pierce
Page by Tamora Pierce
Squire by Tamora Pierce

Books for the year: 54

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