Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (93)

Ten Things of Thankful

Today was a crappy day, weatherwise. But still, we could see the first tulips bloom. Can't wait for more sunshine again and the spring to arrive for good!

This week's thankfuls:

1. My poor, poor musical upbringing. My mom's firm control over the stereo plus my late birth ensured that I missed out on so many awesome performers and great music that I get to explore now!

2. Selling my entire box of clothes Calvin has already outgrown. Our neighbor's daughter is having a boy in May, and the grandma-to-be was just so enthralled by all the little outfits. It's absolutely bittersweet for me, but it's also good to see all those things go to a good new home and adorn a brand-new baby boy soon!

3. My new relationship with my sister. Before the big blow-up a few years ago, whenever we met we had a constant sub-conscious competition going on; after spending an afternoon together, I felt incredibly drained and tired. Now, this has all changed. I am actually looking forward to meeting with her, all competition is gone, and I truly enjoy spending time with her again.

4. Another Sunday with our proven formula 1 afternoon / 2 families / 3 courses. It's always so much fun sharing a delicious meal and wonderful conversation with our great friends!

5. Breakfast and a shopping trip with my great friend. I felt stressed with my list of things I had to accomplish, but she managed to calm me down and we did everything that was really important.

6. Violet having tons of fun at her swim class, is losing her fear in the water and actually managed to make a few strokes all by herself on Friday.

7. Some nice afternoons this week. I could pick up Lily from her afternoon ethics class, take the kids to a few trips to the playground, enjoy the sun shining on my desk at work.

8. Getting to look into Calvin's smiling face in the morning.

9. Taking a step back and making the gift of sleep to myself. On all the evenings before my office days, I managed to get to bed before 10pm and get a somewhat decent night's sleep. Nothing feels better than being rested!

10. Being for once on top of planning Violet's birthday party. The party supplies and the gifts are ordered, the guest list drawn up, the invitations about to be printed. No last-minute, panic-induced organization this time around!

What are you thankful for in the last week!!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Influential Women

The magazines are full of women who, whether we want it or not, influence our lives. By sheer exposure, it is suggested to us that their way of living, their bodies, the point of view is desirable. So, let's check out current covers of the three most popular US tabloid magazines, those we cannot avoid because they are staring at us at every checkout lane, every gas station and in the nail or hair parlor:


Seriously, apart from their personal stories or challenges, which one of these women serves as a positive role model? Which one of them do we want to be influential? Who of you wants their children model themselves after them?

Quite honestly, I don't think that any of them is a positive role model, and none of them should be as influential as the media makes them. There are many, many more women in this world who should get the exposure those celebrities get, to provide positive images of women in this world, to empower all women, and to have someone our children can look up to.

Here are a few women who are and truly deserve to be influential:

Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani woman who fought for girls' right to an education from her earliest teenage years on. Despite being shot in the head by Taliban extremists to silence her forever, she survived and keeps fighting. For her activism she earned the earned the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

What Malala teaches us: Courage to the point that not even threats to her life will silence her.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany's first female head of government,, ruling Europe's strongest economy (which by itself is no. 4 in the world) since November 2005. She's a scientist by profession (she holds a PhD in physics), who dared to show up at the Wagner Opera Festival in the same dress two years in a row.

What Chancellor Merkel teaches us: it's not necessarily the looks but resilience and a brilliant mind that makes us successful. Stand up for yourself, no matter who you are up against, and always follow your goals.
Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. Working as a assembly line worker at a textile company and parachuting in her free time, she was selected from among over 400 applicants. In 1963, after months of extremely extensive training, she spent 3 days orbiting Earth in the Vostok 6. After her flight, she went on to study engineering and earned her doctorate in 1977.

What Valentina Tereshkova teaches us: No matter where you come from, not even the sky is your limit with the right amount of commitment, hard work, and even luck.

Who do you think is or should be an influential woman?

This post is part of the Strong and Influential Sisterhood project.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (92)

Ten Things of Thankful

This past week just flew by. Obviously I'm firmly back into the new routine. Calvin is getting used to spending a lot more time with Daddy, and he even started asking for him when we're out and he realizes that Daddy's not there (today, at the store: "Dadda??"). My work days just flew by, so did my days at home, and the blisters from my work heels still hurt  :-)

This weeks ten special thankfuls:

1. Beautiful spring weather. The girls have been out playing almost every day, Calvin got to break in his new spring jacket, and I realized that my wardrobe is painfully missing some pastels  :-)

2. Flowers and budding trees all around. This just makes me so, so happy every year!

3. Something very special and beautiful arriving in the mail. Thank you so, so much, Ivy!!!
(c) Life, Unexpectedly

4. Hubby's block of classes is drawing to an end, which means a good week without schoolwork. Yay!

5. A beautiful South African Shiraz to relax with at the end of the day.

6. My husband being incredibly sweet and ordering me the third season of Downton Abbey. I love this show, and have been inexcusably behind on my watching. So I'm sitting here, with my Shiraz, watching the drama unfurl.

7. Having remembered some disciplin and having caught up on laundry. And not just the washing and drying, but also the folding and putting away, which seems to be the harder tasks, it seems..

8. Lily having tons of fun at the Winterwald-Lauf (Winter Forest Race) with her friend. She improved her time from last year by over half a minute, the weather was beautiful (no sign of winter left, even though the race suggests such), and it was an overall fun time!

9. Calvin having a friend over for a playdate Friday morning. We moms had coffee and chatted while the little ones played, took toys away from each other, patted faces and held hands.  So excited to watch Linda and Calvin grow up with each other and be friends!

10. Violet bringing home a beautiful paper flower from kindergarten that she had made all by herself. I'm absolutely thrilled watching her progress so much these days while staying this happy, cheerful girl she's always been.

What are you thankful for this week??

Calvin's Seventh Month

Our baby is growing up; it's becoming more and more obvious every day. Soon, he will stop being a baby and turn into a toddler, with nothing stopping him exploring the world beyond his vantage point on Daddy's or Mami's arm.

Early morning explorations (c) Life, Unexpectedly

His current stats:
Height: He's just over 28 inches tall now. Can't believe it!
Weight: I thought he'd be close to 20lbs, but he's 18lbs and 12oz. Still, no need to go to the gym if one totes this baby all day long!
Clothes size: 9 months, with some 12-months onesies thrown in.
Number of teeth: Still just tons of drooling and chewing on everthing, but no tooth in sight.
Biggest Milestone: He's been eating more foods; when I cook at night, I cook a little separate for him and puree it, so he eats basically whatever we eat as well. He's getting up on all fours and started to even get up on his feet on his 7-months birthday. He also stands up when I hold his hands.
Favorite food: still mommy's milk, but his favorite solid food by far is banana.
Favorite toy: A rattle my friend got him. He can roll it ahead and then follow it. And the crinkly book he inherited from Lily and Violet!
Favorite book: The big board books; they are perfect to teeth on!
Favorite outfit / piece of clothing: He still doesn't really care, and probably won't for a while, so it's my choice, and I absolutely love this mustache onesie his grandparents sent him. Absolutely cute!

Likes: exploring the living room rolling around and robbing forward; playing with his sisters; singing and being silly;
Dislikes: the sun shining in his eyes when out and about in the stroller; listening to a bunch of elementary-schoolers screeching and yelling during dance class; having his accessories to mischief removed from his reach.

Calvin at 7 months old (c) Life, Unexpectedly

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Week In Review - Ten Things Of Thankful (91)

Ten Things of Thankful

I'm writing this a day later than usual because last night was spent baking a pie (Pi(e) Day, remember!!) and some chocolate cake for today, as a colleague of mine was coming over to hang out for the day. Let me tell you, we had tons of fun it was worth standing in the kitchen until 11 pm Saturday night!

Some of the thankfuls of this past week:

1. Spring arriving! Last week, we've seen the first field of purple crocus, last week I spotted the first pale yellow and green spots on a tree at my bus stop, and Lily bringing home those beautiful pale violet blossoms on her way home from school. It's so beautiful watching nature awake once more.

2. Watching our sleeping baby this morning, drifting in and out of sleep myself. Calvin woke up early, just as dawn came on, fiddled a little with the wicker on the cradle next to my bed, and then fell back to sleep. He looked so very peaceful...

3. Having neighbor kids once again. As the weather is getting better, Lily and Violet are meeting up with the kids from next door in the mud pit that's our (still) joined backyard, play with their dolls, kick a ball, and just have fun together!

4. Despite being sick (the sinuses, as usual), I'm thankful for not joining in the Influenza 2015 club. The bug seems to be especially nasty this year, and the shot (which we don't get anyway) pretty ineffective.

5. Getting to be part of a blog tour on a topic that's close to my heart: music. It is a language that includes everyone, no matter the age, no matter the nationality, no matter their day-to-day language. And getting to learn more things about the wonderful Lisa as well!

6. The silliness out D&D nights are becoming. Richard had a Faxe more than usual, and the rest of the table was feeding off him. The math was difficult, the role playing hilarious, and the fights successful for us. Looking forward to the next session already!

7. Lily enjoying school and learning so much. Every day, after lunch, she goes up to her room doing her homework, without anyone of us having to prompt her to do so. I couldn't imagine how it would be if we had to stand over her shoulder every single day, and quite honestly don't want to!

8. Once again, the German healthcare system. It seems as if Lily had to start orthodontist treatment soon, and I'm beyond thankful for not having to shell out the €5000 or €6000 our of pocket!

9. The prospect of soon not carrying all the dirt from outside into our home. if everything goes as planned and the weather is nice, work on our front and back yards should start by the end of April!

10. Kind people. I'm not quite spilling the beans yet, but there is a very special someone who's doing something so incredibly nice for me, and I'm so, so excited about it!!  More to come, soon!!

I hope you, too, have tons of things to be thankful for this week!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Hard Days, Hard Nights: The Pat DiCesare Story

The music business is a a hard one, and the easy access to recorded music via the internet has made it even harder. Thus, concerts have become a more important source of income for a lot of musicians and other people in the business. My husband himself, who has been a classical musician since he was 13 when he picked up the bassoon chair at his high school orchestra, admits that for classical musicians - apart from a few soloists and members of very famous orchestras - playing in a military band is probably the best gig they can get.

Back in the "good old days", the time of bands like The Beatles and the heydays of The Rolling Stones, not only the performers themselves were famous but sometimes also the people behind the scenes, like concert promoter Pat DiCesare, who hit off his career in the business by promoting The Beatles' now famous U.S.-tour in 1964.

On Monday, the wonderful Linda Roy at Elleroy Was There shared the first part of concert promoter Pat DiCesare's story on how he came to be one of the most successful concert promoters during the heydays of concert tours.

After quitting a very prestigious job, Pat spent six months to try figure out how to get his foot down in the music business...

During this time, I had written many songs for a Do Wop type group that I had.  I auditioned my group for the producer of the Del Vikings who were a big Pittsburgh group who had two big hits at the time, “Come Go With Me” and “Whispering Bells.”  They were interested and recorded two of my songs which climbed the charts.  As a result of that, my dream of getting a job in the music business came true and I did get a job in  the record business.  I became the best floor sweeper and shelve stocker in the record business.

After I did that for about 6 months the owner of the company asked me if I had a suit and I said no.  He gave me $100 and told me to buy a suit, shirt and tie and that on Monday, I was going to become our record company’s promotion and sales person.  That meant that I would get in my car on Monday and drive through West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  My job was to make hits of the records that our company produced.  I would drive to every radio station and record store in the states and try to persuade the radio stations to play our records and the stores to stock them.

One day, around the time President Kennedy was killed in November 1963, a competing but friendly record promoter asked me if I ever heard of a song called “Love Me Do” by The Beatles.  I told him no but when he played it for me, I liked it.  When I asked how he was doing with it, he said that no one would play it and he had another one called "She Loves You".  When he played that song, something inside of me clicked and all I could think of was that song.  I couldn’t believe that he couldn't get any airplay and that the record wasn’t selling.  But that was the case.  In fact, he had other songs, like “I Saw Her Standing There.” None were getting played.

I went to my boss, remember the guy who gave me the $100?  In addition to the record business, he owned a nightclub in town and he managed Lou Christie who had several big hits out, “The Gypsy Cried”, “Lightning  Is Striking Again” and “Two Faces Have I,”  and he was the concert promoter in town.

I told him, “I just heard an act that I want to bring to the Civic Arena.” 

He replied, “What’s their name?” 

I said, “The Beatles.” 

 He said, “The Beatles, I never heard of them.  What hits do they have?”  

“None,” I said.  

“They don’t have any hits and you want to bring them to the arena.  You are crazy.” He replied.  

I said, “They don’t have any hits now, but by the time we get them booked, I can make their records hits. Would you just call Lou Christie’s agent and ask how to get them to come in to the country?”

“Come into the country?  Where are they from?”  He asked.

“England.” I said.

“England! You are crazy.” He said.

He called Roz Ross of the William Morris and when he told her they were from England, she said, “Forget about The Beatles, they will never be big in the US.  No British rock act has ever been big in the US and never will. Americans don’t like British rock.

”I asked if she would call the London office and when she did, she was told that all of those records were number one hits in England. But her London office also said to forget The Beatles, they will never be big in the US and weren’t planning to come to the US anytime soon.

That was it until December 27, 1963 when Capitol Records released the LP Meet The Beatles.  The first song on the first side was, “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” The song was an instant hit.  Capitol sold over 800,000 copies in the first ten days of its release.  At this time, Ed Sullivan was in London on his way to the airport when he saw a massive amount of teenagers.  He asked his limo driver what was going on and the limo driver said, “Oh that’s these teenage girls.  They come here every time this group flies in or out of the airport.”

Ed asked, “What’s the name of the group?”

“The Beatles.”

Ed said, “Take me over there I want to see what this is about.”  Ed Sullivan arranged to meet Brian Epstein their manager and for $1,200 arranged to get The Beatles to do 3 shows.

On February 9, 1964 over 72 million people watched The Beatles on TV.  Beatlemania set in.  Now The Beatles felt convinced that they could become the number one stars in the US and would be ready to tour.

I immediately called the agent and was told, “Everybody wants to promote The Beatles in their town, why should we take a chance with you.  You have no experience and we don’t know if you have any money.”

 I replied, “Yes, but I’m the one who called you in November when no one knew who The Beatles were.”

“We understand.  Well OK but if you want The Beatles, the price will be $35,000.” 

This was a staggering amount because at the time an American headliner was only being paid $3,500 a night.  Now The Beatles want 10 times that amount.  The agent went on to say, “In addition, you have to put $5,000 cash in a brown paper bag and deliver it to a bartender at the Club Elegant in Brooklyn and you have 48 hours to do it.

”The problem was that I didn’t have $5,000 and if I did, would I leave it with a bartender in Brooklyn?  Anyway, I searched for an investor and had no luck.  I lived with my mom and dad.  I grew up in a poor family.   My dad never made close to a hundred dollars a week.  Besides, he had ten kids and it took all he and mom had just to feed us. But after work I went home and at the kitchen table, while eating I told mom and dad the story.  They didn’t say anything.  They didn’t know who The Beatles were or if they were a bug or a car.

The next day I went back to work and was unsuccessful raising the money.  I went back home and sat at the kitchen table with mom and dad and after dinner, dad slid an envelope over to me.  I opened it and there was a check made out to me for $5,000.  

I said, “Dad what’s this?”

He said, “That’s for you to do your Beatles.”

I said, “Dad, where did you get this kind of money?”

“At the credit union at work.  I put the house up as security.” Dad said.

I said, “Dad, I can’t take your money.  I have to give this to a bartender in Brooklyn.”

And Dad said, “Do you believe in your Beatles?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Then take the money and go do your Beatles.”

The greatest gift my father gave me was that he believed in me.

The concert was booked for September 14.  We put the tickets on sale and the show sold out immediately.  The first thing I did was give my dad back his $5,000. As a concert promoter, the show made $8,800.

People often ask me what it was like to work with The Beatles. At this time our country was deeply involved in the Vietnam War.  We booked the show in February for September 14 and on May 29, I got drafted and had to go into the army. On the day of The Beatles concert, I was in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

When I got discharged from the Army and came home, I started a rock and roll agency and I became the dominant concert promoter in Pittsburgh.  The first concert I booked was a Beach Boys date and I made $13,500.  I now had my own apartment and was living in Pittsburgh. 

I called my mother and invited myself home for dinner.  Mom was happy to have me visit.  After a delicious dinner, I slid an envelope over to my mom.  She opened it and held it close to her eyes and said, “Oh, $50.  That’s very nice Pat what is that for?”  Then she immediately corrected herself and said, Oh, this is for $500.” And she quickly handed it back to me and said, “Here you take this back and you better quit fooling around writing big checks like this, you could get arrested.”  

My mother had always been blind in one eye and had impaired vision in the other.  She couldn’t see very well so my dad took the check from her, looked at it and said, “This check is for $5,000.” 

 Mom said, “What’s that for?”

I said, “Mom do you remember in 1964 you gave me the $5,000 for The Beatles?”

She said, “Yes Pat, but you gave us that money back.”

I said, “I know Mom, but this is just a bonus.”


Pat DiCesare was among the top grossing concert productions companies in the nation.

He promoted just about every major concert act in the business in the last half of the 20th century including The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Janis Joplin, Chicago, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel and the list goes on.

Currently, DiCesare is producing  “Relive The Beatles ’64.

DiCesare’s best selling book, “Hard Days, Hard Nights”, From The Beatles to The Doors to The Stones Insider Stories from a Legendary Concert Promoter,” has won the 2014 Grand Prize at the Great Midwest Book Festival, the Runner Up in the 2014 So Cal Book Festival and was named the winner of the 2014 Independent book of the year.

"Promoting You", his newest offering will be released soon.

Find out more about Pat DiCesare and visit his website and Amazon author page. Visit to get your very own copy of Hard Days Hard Nights. Also follow Pat on Facebook and Twitter