Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas...

Well, it has been another wonderful Christmas. The children are all off playing with their loot. We have eaten our fill and visited with family. We are now exhausted in a way only accomplished by rising at 5:30am (or earlier) and having a very busy day but nothing that an early night in bed will not cure.

We have taken off a few days from school and plan to get back into gear the first of the year. I needed to catch up on some cleaning and the kids have been working hard and deserved a break.

My little one got a new 1/10th size violin last week complete with a larger 1/8th size bow. She figured out almost immediately where she needed to place her fingers to play in tune without the prerequisite Suzuki finger tapes and her teacher decided to let her go without them. It amazes me what she is capable of sometimes. She played beautifully in her Suzuki Christmas concert on Friday night, doing a solo on the "Dashing through the snow..." part of Jingle Bells then playing her Back Minuet 1 plus a few other Christmas carols including Silent Night which we had never practiced. (That scared me a little because there were only 4 people, besides her, playing and mistakes could easily be heard unlike when there are 10-15 other players.) Afterward she giggled, "Miss Gerry let me play a song I didn't even know!!"

Since getting her new violin, she has been practicing a lot more and playing around with her instrument again. Yesterday she began playing a waltz from her Kevin Burke CD and I nearly cried, it was so beautiful and amazing.

Last night we attended the Christmas Eve candlelight service. Haley's Sunday school teacher was playing piano and I pointed it out to her. She said, "I know and she is making some mistakes, too." (Playing with the songs she was hitting some notes wrong in a few chords which Haley did not miss.)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Santa Claus is coming to town in a taxi??

Haley visited Santa on Monday at the local mall. She insisted that she wanted to play him a song on violin as a Christmas present. I took the violin in but let her know that she could, only if it was not crowded so we didn't hold anyone else up.

There was a very short line, 3 ahead of us and 2 behind. The lady helping Santa asked if I was holding an instrument and I informed her of Haley's desire to play for Santa. She said, "Sure!"

So, Haley played "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" for Santa.

Afterward, she wanted to know a few things about Santa...

--Can Santa see me and what I am doing when someone else is sitting on his lap?
(Translation: How much can I get away with while Santa is preoccupied at the mall?)
--Why are Santa's eye brows darker than last year? They are supposed to be white.
--How did Santa get here and where are his reindeer? (Me: I think he probably flies down in a
plane for this so his reindeer are rested on Christmas Eve.) Haley: Does he stay in a hotel then
they drive him to the mall in a taxi?

Testing results...

Yesterday, I spoke with the psychologist who tested Haley. She once again said that Haley was one of the easiest children she has tested in her 8 years testing gifted children. She has intellectual maturity, determination, drive, and a persistant work ethic. She is well rounded and has fairly even development across the board.

Haley tested in the gifted range. Her actual score was not as high as I had expected from all my reading and knowing her early development and how she learns/knows things. The tester did say that in a number of sections like grouping two items out of a number of items according to their characteristics, she seemed to be a creative, out-of-the-box kind of thinker...meaning she did not chose the easiest, most likely combination but the tester said her reasoning for her choices made absolute sense when she explained them (but since they weren't the "right" answers, they didn't get scored). It seemed kind of strange to me that a test of IQ would not take creativity and thinking processes into consideration but I guess it would be too hard to standardize. Also, I have read that these tests are truly for the average child even though many use them for giftedness.

I also have to question whether Haley was truly demonstrating all her skills because I know that she has the ability to look focused when, in fact, she is on autopilot and thinking a million other things. During those times, the casual observer would think she was being cooperative because she never refuses to do anything and will do a fair imitation of what needs to be done. Her violin teacher knows this as well as I do. She often, especially when performing a more difficult task, will go on autopilot and look around the room while playing a wonderful version of the song for her age but definately not as good as she can perform then when finished will ask questions not even remoted related to violin which proves she not thinking.

Haley's verbal scores were slightly higher than non-verbal. She did very well in factual knowledge, vocabulary, and relates concepts well. She also did well on picture completion (non-verbal) and processing speed.

The assessment of her academic skills were, as I thought, much more helpful to me in how I should go about teaching her. She tested above the 99th% in writing, spelling, math, and reading. She is basically functioning like a mid to late second grader though some subtests were slightly higher like word identification. The psychologist also gave her tests in each section that she normally does not do with children Haley's age related to reading fluency, writing fluency, and math fluency. These tests weren't normed for a 5yo because most 5 year olds are not reading, writing, and doing math well enough to take them.

The psychologist told me that Haley was self-motivated enough that following her lead was a great way for us to continue. Haley's scores academically qualify her for CTY's programs until 7th grade when she would need to take the SAT. (Even CTY does not use IQ scores for their admission requirements but, instead, use the achievement of the child.) I am not sure if I will use their programs...mostly because I don't want her online so much for her learning and the cost involved. Also, we have finally found the place in her math program where she is learning new material, albiet quickly but not quickly enough to be bored if I am careful and allow her to go off on a tangent when she wants to learn more.

After having Dylan's reading assessment last year with all it's very specific information and activity suggestions, I am a little disappointed so far with this assessment. I am hoping the written report will provide more of the answers I was looking for.

The psychologist did say that due to Haley's self motivation, following her lead and doing integrative study would be the best way to proceed. She did make a strong case for continuing homeschooling as the best option for a child like Haley. Though I already knew that, it was nice to hear it from someone else.

So, all in all, she told me I have a wonderful, amazing little girl which I already knew.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Adding it all up...

Last week Haley figured out how to do addition of double digits complete with carrying in a matter of minutes. "Duh, Mom, the tens go in the tens column" was her basic reasoning.

A cyberfriend of mine, a college math professor, suggested trying with larger numbers (triple digits, quadruple digits, etc...). I did and she easily applied her reasoning there to add almost any length of numbers given. The next suggestion was working with subtraction and borrowing. I think we'll try that one tomorrow.

Haley's test scores have not arrived yet. I keep waiting for them and researching more gifted sites and reading more books. I feel almost compelled to know what I am dealing with. I feel like I am holding her back with my need to teach sequentially.

I searched Barnes and Noble for more books on giftedness and it appears that I have read them all. The information I have found on websites is all starting to say things I already know but none of it comes close to telling me what I want to know about my own child...real answers. Waiting until Tuesday is so difficult.

I started re-reading A Case of Brilliance. This book comes the closest to telling me detailed information and I thought maybe a closer reading might be helpful. The author tells of small incidents that stand out to her as moments when she should have been able to guess how gifted her daughter was. I have a few of those moments myself. Like when Haley was 21 months old and read the word "Pizza" off a Pizza Hut sign even though we had never eaten there before so she had no reason link the two like kids do with the golden arches of McDonalds. When I asked her how she knew, she said, "Well it says it is really big letters." That sentence alone should have been a clue coming from a child under two let alone the reading that preceeded it.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A "Bowl of Flesh..."

You would never know, looking at my beautiful blond haired beauty, that underneath that sweet, angelic face is a love of the dark and scary. Haley has a fascination with Phantom of the Opera that has not ceased or abated since just prior to her 4th birthday. She knows it inside and out, wants to listen to it on every car trip, and sings the highest notes with the voice of an angel.

I found her a Phantom Christmas ornament on eBay and actually found Phantom Barbies but they were way too expensive so didn't win them. The ornament came yesterday so I have heard it's little piece of a song a million times already.

Often when we play with her Playmobil Fantasy Castle, she wants to play Phantom. Sometimes it is an exact rendition of the musical and sometimes it is her own version (of which we have all the way to Phantom #147 so I am told). Last night, thanks to the arrival of said ornament, Phantom was the topic of our play. At first it started with the original, during which I am constantly reprimanded for failing to use the exact wording. Then it transformed into one of the many "sequels" during which the Phantom is now nice and he and Raul become friends and each date either Christine or her newly arrived sister "Christine" ("because their mother could not think of any other names", of course).

This new rendition took a different turn when Haley decided that Christine #2 would give the Phantom a "bowl of flesh" so he could fix his face and look like the handsome man he was underneath.

What 5 year old thinks of these things?

The Dubl Up...or The Double Up Salad

This weekend, Haley created her first recipe, wrote it down, went shopping with Daddy for the ingredients and prepared it herself (including using a knife though it did make me a bit nervous). Here is her recipe (in her own spelling because it's cute).

Th Dubl Up

Mexakin Cheez
Quwkumbers (my favorite because she knows U comes after Q)
Ranch dressing

All Done

It actually made a very good salad that we all enjoyed.

This week Haley easily figured out how to add double digit numbers with carrying. I honestly never cease to be amazed with how easily she picks things up.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Initial Test Results...

Well, Haley had her testing today. It took about 3.5 hours with a couple breaks. The psychologist did the WISC IV, I think, and assessed all her academic areas plus did an extensive interview with me (prior to the assessment I filled out form after form about her developmental history, milestones, strengths/weaknesses, etc... and also an inventory on social-emotional development/behavior.

After the assessment she had Haley sit in another room to color while we talked a little bit. I did not get any scores today, those will come in the mail in the next couple weeks and I will have a conference with her via phone to go over the results in more detail.

During the testing, she let Haley have a couple breaks but said that Haley never asked for a break and would have kept going. After the testing she first commented on Haley's focus, ability to concentrate, and maturity. She said she has done many assessments on very gifted 5 year olds and that assessing Haley was more like assessing a 7-9 year old. She said these skills are more beneficial and will aid her more than any IQ score.
She said that she is positive Haley will qualify for their programs and she is across the board at least a couple years ahead in all subject areas. She also was surprised at how well Haley writes saying that many gifted children have fine motor skills that make writing difficult. Overall she said that Haley was an amazing little girl and she has a very bright future. She did question me about homeschooling and asked if I would consider doing it for the long-term with Haley (I told her of my plans to put the oldest in high school for sports reasons) because she doesn't feel that a school program would meet her needs.

She was very interested in Haley's musical abilities and asked to see the DVD we had made of Haley playing. She said she was amazed by those abilities.

Anyway, I think that's about it for now. I am interested to see what her specific recommendations are for academic instruction.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

To know or not to know...

I haven't even been able to post this yet because I still have such mixed feelings. I have only told Grammy and a few close virtual friends because I cannot bring myself to tell anyone else. Tuesday I am having Haley assessed at John's Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.

I have never really been one to think about testing before and in fact could always list all the reasons I would not test my kids until now.

1. We homeschool so I don't need to advocate with a school system for differentiated teaching or grade skipped in school.

2. I have a firm belief that IQ is meerly a potential to learn and would not change the way I treat/teach my kids because I had this number...I would continue to expect great things from them even if they didn't have as high an IQ as I originally thought.

3. It costs a lot of money.

Well, then, you may ask, why have I suddenly done a complete 180 with Haley?

I know my boys are smart, incredibly smart actually. Newt learns like I learn...sequentially, everything in order as he is taught it or learns it himself from books/experience. Dylan is a hands on learner who is incredibly creative yet not very into school and its trappings. If he can't figure out why he needs to know something then he can't see the point of putting in the effort.

Haley has been different from the start. She met her milestones more quickly, maybe because of them, who knows. But she learns in a way I have only read about in books on gifted kids. She is taught one little thing then suddenly has a huge leap in knowledge and knows how to do way more than she was ever shown.

Some examples:

Reading: She picked up letter sounds from a Leap Frog video at 18 months. She asked me how to sound out small words so I showed her how to blend them then played a few games to teach her. We started the 100EZ lessons book a few times but never made it past CVC words then she started a Phonics Workbook and, before she finished the basic consonent sounds, was reading anything and everything including words with phonics rules I never taught her. The most amazing thing was that she never went through the slow reading...sounding each word out stage (you know, that agonizing for parents stage where you just want to give them the word because you are going to forget what the story is about before they read it).

Music: She is taught the basics on her violin and the first 4 Twinkle variations. From that she figured out every other song's notes before she was taught all the way through Book 4. She played around with her violin and figured out slurs, shifting, and different bowing techniques.

Math: She knew everything from 1st grade in 4 months and the first half of 2nd grade in 2 months. She figured out the concept of multiplication and extrapolated on what she was taught about identifying simple fractions to figure out more complex fraction problems. I don't even know what level her math knowledge is.

These incredible burst of knowledge and the ability to take knowledge and figure out so much on her own have led me to feel like I can't keep up with her. I feel like I need to know where she is and how to best teach a child who learns in this way to help her reach her full potential.

I am also interested in some of the gifted classes offered through CTY and EPGY but need test scores to be approved to take those.

And lastly, I know that now is a pretty good time to get this testing done. She is old enough to be cooperative yet young enough not to ceiling out any tests. Having these scores may help get her into programs in the future.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The title of my blog describes our life perfectly. We are hardly ever home and I guess you could call us "carschoolers" more than homeschoolers. It is almost Christmas time and even though we have had more interruptions and busyness than any other year... our school year is going pretty good.

I started the year off with a plan in every subject...just a broad outline, more than a plan, of things I wanted to accomplish this year. We are actually doing a fairly good job of sticking to the outline. I feel more organized with the outlines and thus am able to give the boys work to do on those days when I am running like crazy or even let Daddy accomplish some of the items with the kids.

Math are going well for everyone...

Haley is midway through the 2nd grade Saxon book we started mid-September. She was moving at breakneck speed until we found some new information for her like money and adding double digits and now is going more lesson by lesson more for the practice than because she is having difficulty. Besides, I am not all that keen on having to move to the next level every 4-5 months. Also, it is not about speeding through so much with her than it is about being solid on the concepts and branching out in more depth where she feels the need or has an interest.

Dylan is working in Saxon 76. He has had a little hiccup and re-did a number of chapters. He is always seems to know what he is doing in the lesson but when given a test, not even for a grade but just to see what he needs more help on, he freezes up. I want him to have a good solid foundation before moving on and he is already so far ahead of where he needs to be that I felt slowing down would be a good idea.

Newt is in Geometry. He does great on most of it but having a little trouble putting it all together for the proofs. He just started doing proofs in the last chapter so I think he just needs more practice in thinking that way. I am going to have him work on Logic to see if it helps.

Language Arts is moving right along for everyone. I finally have a program that is working for Dylan. Since he hates to read, a program with stories to read and questions/activities to follow is his best bet. Newt is reading and writing a lot on his own. He has been working on his own novel. Haley is just reading tons and started First Language Lessons. She loves to read and write.

I am most pleased with our progress in Science and History. The kids have been doing CyberEd for science along with DVDs from The Teaching Company for both which are a little dry like college lectures but filled with good information. We also have lots of supplementary books and activity books for both subjects. My outlines have been great for not missing any information or leaving out any books. Our trip to Wyoming planned for this summer will be perfect for the science we are studying.

All the kids and Daddy have been plugging through Rosetta Stone Spanish each at their own pace. The lessons are long so the older, the more they wade through. I had the writing portion turned off for Haley and although she was angry with me because she says it is her favorite part, it is working better for her (the accents and tildas were impossible for her to remember).

Everyone is making great progress in music. They are now playing together here and there which is really neat.

Suzuki parenting...

There has been an ongoing discussion on the Suzuki chat group about getting started with violin practice with resistant small children. A fellow chatter, Suzuki mother, and teacher, Miranda explained the four-fold way to be successful...

"1. Show up. If you're teaching your own, that means something a little different than cheerfully going to lessons. It means including your child in your community of students. It means making the time each day for practicing to happen. It doesn't mean anything about your child doing anything at all. It just creates the possibility and helps nurture the interest. You just keep creating that nurturing environment. Time works magic.

2. Pay attention to what is good, true and beautiful. One way of putting this into practice is to make it a habit of reflecting on every single practice session with the question "what is one thing that worked well here today?" Become conscious of those things -- you may have to dig deep to find them at first -- and do what you can to allow them to grow. At first the "good, true and beautiful" might just be your child's strong will, or boundless energy ... something in the "mixed blessing" category. But if you can become more aware of it as a potentially positive force, and look for ways to enjoy it and turn it to advantage, you'll gradually get more and more stuff that is true and beautiful. Eventually you'll find more complex stuff that's working well, things like "when I let her choose a legato piece to play after each left hand exercise, she remains happy and focused, and her tone stays good."

3. Speak the truth in love. For me this means relating verbally to my child in ways that are less about instruction and control and more in the style of positive yet honest observations and facilitations ... always spoken in an unaffected, genuine, loving tone. So rather than saying "please try to keep your eyes on your bow" I'd say "Your sound is much more beautiful when you watch and keep your bow on the highway." I would stay clear of praise and positive judgements designed to manipulate my child, because that stuff doesn't feel "true" to me. Encouragement rather than praise. Encouragement rather than criticism, nagging or instruction.4. Do not become attached to outcome. Oh my, this is the toughest one for parents who are also teachers. We know what children are capable of in an optimal environment. We think we've got a pretty rich environment happening for our own child, so we expect pretty impressive results. We may not have shallow expectations like "Perpetual Motion by age 5" but we have many less tangible ones. We expect our child will become focused, will be motivated and will get some goal-oriented work accomplished, learning at a brisk pace that is right for her. If you figure out how to really let go of your attachment to these outcomes, you'll be three kids further ahead of the game than I am. I am only just beginning to get this down with my fourth child ... and perhaps only because she's making it easy by having a natural affinity for the sorts of outcomes I'm trying to let go of."

I absolutely love this. Even though I have never really spelled it out before, reading it, I found that this is exactly how I go about things...well nearly every day. (I am sure we all have grouchy days once in awhile.) This way of thinking has helped me to be creative and come up with different ways of doing things...games to play, choices to give my little violinist, etc... My personal goal is to think like this everyday.

Sunday, November 25, 2007


Last night, due to a vacation and the holidays, Haley had a violin group class, we went to dinner, then she had her individual lesson. She was a bit tired by 6:30pm and wasn't really into going to lessons.

Miss Gerry was very tough on her and wanted her to play Minuet 1 perfectly because she knew Haley could do a better job than what she was doing. Gerry set up a game for her with two cups turned upside-down and treats underneath and Haley would get a prize if she played it perfectly. (One part she kept missing was my fault because I did not know she was supposed to circle and up-bow to start it and since she had practiced it so much, her little arm just didn't remember to do that.) Anyway, she finally played it still missing one up-bow and received her prize.

Afterward, Gerry told me that she is being hard on Haley with technique because she is sooo talented and now is the time to perfect the technique. She handed Haley a small book filled with pictures and stories about violinists who were in a competition in Germany (her daughter competed there as a young teen). The youngest girl was 9yo and Gerry told Haley that she played songs "every bit as difficult as the ones Robin played." Then she told me that if Haley wants to be a violinist, she has the potential to do the same thing as a 9yo.

Gerry has many times made mention that Haley is gifted or talented but this is the first time she has made mention of just how talented she believes she is. I had been feeling bad for Haley because we had listened to the lesson before hers and the little girl, a few years older than Haley, is at about the same song in the repertoire but stumbles through many of the songs. I was upset that Gerry was so hard on Haley but not so hard on the other little girl. When she said that to me, I understood why.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Oops! She did it again...

I just don't know about this little girl of mine. Once a month she has a Fridays at Four concert at a retirement home with her Suzuki instructor and her students.

The week before every concert, her teacher picks something for her to play that she didn't play quite so well at her lessons. (actually she rarely plays her best for her Suzuki teacher- the room's too distracting or lessons are just not at a great time or whatever, so, usually what she plays not so well, she is playing pretty well at home during practice). This week it was the doubles on Etude. She has been playing Etude since before she was supposed to but for the past two weeks had been playing it by pressing too hard on her strings, which are beginning to sound false anyway (I am hoping she will outgrow the violin before I have to get it restrung), making a really scratchy sound. Try as I might I could not get her to let up on the pressure. Maybe trying to play it so fast made her play too hard or whatever.

So, for her concert, Miss Gerry decided that she should play Mississippi Mississippi Twinkle (twinkles doubled), Perpetual Motion doubles and Etude doubles. This was a bit stressful for me because she has always disliked Perpetual Motion so hates to practice it- therefore it doesn't get the time it should in the replaying of songs. Plus, I only had 2 days to get her ready for her concert (lessons were on Tuesday).

I took out the MIDI accompaniment I have for Suzuki where I can slow the piano down a bit and let her practice all the songs with it. She played each piece at least 5-6 times a day. Sometimes it was smooth and beautiful, other times is was scratchy or she forgot parts or played too fast. I felt a little stressed again going to the concert but didn't let it show to her. We talked about what she needed to think about (pre-planning works wonders for this child). She likes to tell me what she needs to do rather than me telling her.

So the little imp gets up there and plays through all of those pieces sounding just like the recordings on her CD, smooth with beautiful intonation and finishes with a flourish of her bow and a bow to the audience. It amazes me how she excels under pressure. I think I am always so worried because I know that I would not do well under pressure unless everything was polished and perfected and even then might mess it up due to stress.

Miss Gerry was pleased as well and told the audience that next month she would be playing the Minuets. (I think she forgot that next month is Christmas so they'll be doing carols but it was nice to hear Haley did so well.)

I really need to learn to trust my tiny wonder. I have to remember that she is Haley, not me.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Busy Day but I am proud of all three kids....

Today was very busy for us. Haley had her first Play-In with Next Generation Kids in Philadelphia. It is a group of 7-17 year olds (flutists, fiddlists, and harpists) who get together for two hours once a month to learn new fiddle tunes then play together the songs they know. Haley was able to play over half of the songs with the group. She had a really good time and did very well. One father, a musician by trade, pointed out that she has a wonderful ear and good sense of rhythem.

Here are some pictures...(hint- she's the teeny one)..

Dylan took his Hunter's Education Course and got a 99% on the test. He is very excited to go out hunting with Poppop, Daddy, and Newt for Youth Hunting Day on Saturday.

Newt had wrestling practice and there were a couple new faces practicing with the team. He had a great practice and during live wrestling hit a few really good moves. I can't wait until he starts tournaments this year.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Scottish-Irish Festival

This weekend we took an overnight trip to the Poconos in PA for an Irish music festival. We drove up on Friday afternoon, checked into the hotel, then found an Irish Pub called Seamsa's in Stroudsburg. It was a really cool old building, like walking into a movie set. We had a table on the second floor right next to a window and outside it started snowing. Haley heard the Irish fiddle music and started dancing next to the table while waiting for the meal. We ordered authenic Irish food like Corned Beef and Cabbage and Guiness Beef Stew. The food was delicious and I learned that though I hated boiled cabbage as a child, it is actually pretty good. After dinner we went back to the hotel and the kids swam in the pool for awhile then we went to bed.

Saturday, we went to Bushkill PA for the festival. There were many vendors selling Irish and Scottish wares and music and dancers. We listened to a band called Needfire (a Celtic rock band) from Dallas, watched a pipe band with bagpipes and drums, Ceili dancers, and another family band from Canada. Both bands had a fiddler and Haley loved them enough to ask for CDs of both. The boys really liked Needfire.

The band from Canada was playing acoustically in a smaller room with a dancefloor in front of them. They said anyone could come dance to their music and Haley was the only one to take them up on it. She danced for the entire 45 minutes they played and people watching were watching her as much as the band, taking her picture, and videotaping her. Even the photographer for the festival took her picture. People afterward commented on her energy and lack of self consciousness. (She bowed after each song.) She got that CD autographed by the whole band.

The boys had fun walking around in their kilts. They talked to an elderly gentleman about his kilt and the other pieces of his attire. They even got to fence with reel fencing equipment which was right up their alley.

On the way home, Haley started getting antsy and about 10 minutes from home, asked how much longer. I said, "About 10 minutes." She asked how many she would have to count to so I told her "to 60-10 times." She then proceeded to count the entire 10 minutes.

When we got home tonight, Haley googled the Celtic rock band and found their website completely on their own and added it to her favorites. She is such a funny kid.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Payment in full...

I am awful about having money with me and paying for things that are weekly. I generally carry no money with me and prefer to pay by the month or, preferably, by the year so I don't forget.

Today after another wonderful fiddle lesson, we said our goodbyes and walked out the door. It wasn't until I was buckling Haley into the carseat that I realized I hadn't paid the instructor. I ran back inside and apologized. Her instructor laughed and pointed to a cartoon on her wall saying that she always feels like the teacher in the cartoon after a lesson with Haley.

It was a For Better or Worse cartoon with the child having a great piano lesson then handing a check to the teacher who is saying something along the lines of feeling like the lesson had been payment enough.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Perfect Storm...

Today at fiddle lessons, Haley "surprised" her teacher by having figured out the second half of her new song. I am beginning to wonder why she always seems so surprised since this has been the "status quo" since she started lessons but then, to me, it is status quo. To her, it may be rare with her other students.

Her teacher played a new hornpipe for her tape and Haley danced while she played then picked up her own violin and started to play the first line or so. Her teacher looked confused then asked, "Did we do this one already?"

I shook my head "no." We started talking about Kevin Burke whose CD was recently nominated for a Grammy award, a rare honor for a Celtic fiddler. Haley then said something like, "I am going to learn all of Kevin Burke's songs."

To which Kathy answered, "Haley, I imagine you will be able to play anything you want to play in a few years. You are have the Perfect Storm for a violin/fiddle player...a wonderful ear, great rhythm, and great tone."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I wonder if....

The boys have their friends, Matt and Danny, over to spend the night. We set up a tent in the backyard with a complete campsite (my idea--hoping to get some sleep myself). I was doing a little search on the computer listening to Haley running in and out of the house humming and singing to herself, her stuffed animals, etc... That made me think about my boys and how big they are and pretty soon she will be big like that too.

I was thinking about the way she seems to know intuitively the inner workings of the world even though she is only 5 and does not have worldly experience. It made me wonder what happens to us between childhood and adulthood that makes us stop singing to ourselves and listening to the inner voice that gives us intuitive knowledge. Does that voice go away or is it still there, drown out by the busy-ness of life?

I hope that by homeschooling Haley, she will listen to her inner voice longer and sing to herself longer and it won't be beaten out of her by peer pressure or the need to conform to school life. I will be so sad when she doesn't sing while she plays anymore. You know all the little things our kids do, the way they say a certain word or have a certain habit, and then someday you look up and realize they don't do it anymore and you can't remember when it stopped (like Newt calling me "Meme" instead of "Mommy" or Dylan asking for a drink by saying, "I need my here mommy." or Haley asking for toilet papier like she is from France.) I want to pay attention to every day but it's so hard when life is so busy. She is my last "baby" and I don't want to miss a moment of her growing up.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

It's all in her head!!

Haley's fiddle teacher has finally realized that if she wants to actually "teach" her a song, she can't let her listen to it first. Either that or she wanted to see if I go home and pound the songs into her head so she knows them the next week at lessons.

Teacher played first section of the song and Haley played it back. She went on line by line until Haley had the entire first half of the song, stopping only for a couple minutes to show her how to perform a "roll" on a note which it took her about 3 tries to get.

When the lesson was over her teacher was so amazed at how quickly she learned the song that she kept saying over and over "great" and "that was really good." She looked at me and said something like, "She does really learn the songs by herself quickly."

That night as we lay in bed going to sleep, I asked her how she knows all those songs (I get them all confused). Haley told me that all her other songs were in her head but the new one wasn't "in (her) head yet."

Sunday, October 21, 2007

New songs!!

Last week Haley suffered from a week long ear infection with an ear drum rupture which was incredibly painful and required 2 different antibiotics and 3 different ear drops. She is finally better though I still want to get her hearing tested once she finishes the antibiotics.

At Suzuki lessons this week, her teacher asked Haley if she had taught her Etude. Haley said,"No" and I told her that she thought she knew it already anyway. Her teacher had her play it and seemed pleased with her but asked that she practice with stops every 4 notes to allow time to place her fingers for the next set of notes. She then wanted her to learn the one difficult spot of Minuet 1. I didn't hear where it went in the song but as soon as the teacher played it, Haley began singing where she left off.

By the ride home, Haley was playing all of Minuet 1.

I think her fiddle teacher has finally learned that she can't even let her hear a new song unless she wants her to know it. Last week, she started to teach her a song she hadn't played on her tape yet. I thought it ironic that if she wants to teach her, this is the only way, otherwise Haley learns the songs by herself. She taught her the first part then taped the song and by this week Haley had the entire song but it was long and she was not feeling great so she hadn't gotten it up to speed yet.

This week her teacher didn't give her a song on her tape because she wanted her to get the other song a little faster and she said she was specifically not giving her a new song because she knew she would learn whatever she gave her.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Reading in her head (copied from a group post)...

On Friday, Haley sat on my bed in an airconditioned room (no central air and it is way to warm to be October)reading. She finished 5 chapters of Heidi "in her head" (her words) then came in to tell her Daddy and I all about each chapter, almost word for word in a way only a child with a memory like hers can retell a story. It is the first time she has ever read to herself silently.

I have always read to her and she has always read aloud to me or to herself. I liked to hear what she was doing to know if she was having any difficulty or if she was really reading the words because another favorite game of hers is to make up her own stories while flipping through a book (generally her stories end up better than the printed version). So I never suggested to her that reading silently was an option. She has now figured it out and though I am a little amazed at exactly how much she read on the first try, I am a little sad that I won't be hearing her little voice reading every book anymore.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Miseducation considered....

I recently finished the book "Miseducation: Preschoolers at Risk" by David Elkind. Before starting the book, I had some doubts as to whether I would consider any of it useful knowledge since my kids are all past preschool learning and the title sounded more to me like parent bashing for those of us with gifted children.

It really turned out to be just the opposite however. The author was firmly against the "superkid" syndrome as he termed the introduction of early academic knowledge, sports, music, etc... He discussed the reasons why this has become so prevalent in our society as a whole and different parenting styles that fall into the trap. He discussed how young children learn and develop psychologically and why pushing children, who may be capable of retaining early knowledge, can be harmful to them.

After reading through that much of the book, my shackles were rising but then he got to the gifted child. He explained that giftedness is not what a child can do or is capable of doing but the way they learn and their advancement in intellectual/learning styles as well as psychological development that makes them the pushers in the relationship. For these gifted children who lead the learning, it would be poor parenting to not provide them a stimulating environment in the areas of their giftedness. For example...teaching a young child to read using flash cards, worksheets, or daily drill is not good but providing a child who is already teaching himself to read opportunities to practice is good. At one point he was downing Suzuki music lessons for the average preschooler but then went on to tell the story of a child who already was showing musical giftedness and early lessons were very beneficial to her.

I understand where the author is coming from because I have had these thoughts before when asked why people always say, "All children level out by 4th grade whether or not they were taught to read early."

When people make this claim, I think they are discussing the child of average intellectual abilities. Sure, the child can be taught to read early but because of psychological and intellectual limitations does so with more difficulty than they would have had they been taught later. (It may take the child 4 years to be able to read well if started at 3 but had they waited until 6 it may have only taken a year because they were more ready and that is where the leveling off occurs. This is just to illustrate a point not a real example as far as I know.)

I think of my oldest and youngest, especially my youngest, who took the early lesson on how to sound out simple words and then taught herself how to read everything within a two months once she was ready and with no additional lessons. My oldest has never "leveled off" with his age-peers and it is because he was ready to learn to read and initiated that learning. That is the difference.

So, the book I started out hating actually ended up being pretty good.

Phantom of the Opera

I just realized that I neglected to write about our trip to NYC to see Phantom of the Opera. We had a wonderful weekend. Mommy, Daddy, and Haley went to NYC while the boys stayed with Grammy and Poppop to do boy things like shoot and fish.

We drove to Jersey City on Friday afternoon, spent some time shopping at the mall (for nothing really), went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant with excellent food, and then returned to the hotel for a quick swim and early bedtime.

Saturday morning it was an early rise then on to the PATH train for the trip into the city. We had to walk many blocks to the American Girl Place where we had brunch then Haley was able to shop with her giftcard. The brunch was very cute and the food tasty. There was a little seat for her doll and she had her doll's hair fixed as well.

After brunch we walked around for awhile. I had forgotten my comfortable shoes so my feet were killing me in my heels. We stopped at a shoe store and bought some CROCs for Haley and I. Unfortunately the only color they had in my size were bright orange so I spent the rest of the day very comfortable but looking like a duck.

We visited Times Square, the Disney Store, and walked around a sidewalk fair where we bought a t-shirts for the boys. By then it was almost time for the show so we stopped at Bubba Gumps for a quick lunch--this is a really cute restaurant. Haley was so excited waiting in line to enter the musical. We finally got in and she had to potty so I took her. The line was enormous but we finally made it and after washing her hands she was so excited she exclaimed, "Oh, Mommy, I just can't wait to see the Phantom!!!"

Most of the ladies still in line laughed at her cuteness but I heard a miserable old voice say, "She'll probably be scared to death." Now, I understand that taking a 5yo to see Phantom would not be on most parent's lists of things to do but Haley is not most 5 year olds and she was enthralled. She sat intently watching every moment. Occasionally, I heard her quietly singing along. She loved the special effects and was amazed by the experience.

What a great time we had!!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Starting another year of violin

Every week Haley's fiddle teacher plays a new song that I record for Haley to listen to during the week for the next lesson. Every week Haley figures the song out in her spare time and her teacher is amazed. Well, the latest song she gave her for this week was full of slurs and after Haley played it for her, she told me that Haley is by far the youngest child she has ever seen understand slurs and how to play them. This week she didn't give her a new song because she wants to teach her "ornaments" (I think she called them) which are the little sounds in Irish music that makes it sound really cool (I don't know how else to explain them). She said she has never tried to introduce them to a child under 10 or 12 before but she thinks Haley will be able to get it so she will show her.

We also got in touch with Haley's Suzuki teacher and had a wonderful first lesson for the new year. She was impressed with a lot of the things Haley had been working on and is having her play a mini concert next week with all the songs she knows to "graduate" her to the next level. She said after this she will speed her through the rest of Book 1 and get started on Book 2. She said that if Haley was with another teacher, she would be halfway through Book 2 by now but she wants her to have perfect technique rather than just be able to play the songs.

I was a little nervous about telling her about fiddle lessons because you never know how a teacher is going to react to you going to someone else too. She said it was a brilliant idea and she even had Haley play some of her fiddle songs for her and is allowing her to play fiddle songs for their first concert at the retirement home next week.

I really love Haley's Suzuki teacher. She always seems to have Haley's best interest at heart and though she is strict on a number of things like technique (things she must be strict on for proper playing), she also allows Haley the freedom to be creative and try her experiments.

Her fiddle teacher is not used to teaching little children so she also is really experimenting and goes with Haley's flow which is wonderful for the fun aspect of her instrument. I am just so happy with the way things are going right now.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Who would have known?

Aunt Stacy mailed Haley a giftcard for the American Girl store to use next weekend when we go. Haley has carried around the catalog that arrived with the card since it came. She has figured out combinations of items she can afford and written wish lists. Who would have thought that a simple giftcard would yield so many learning experiences.

Boys started Judo last night. They visited the class on Tuesday night. Only one other young boy so they will have to do most practice with each other. They loved the first class. Haley and I had "Girl's Night." I let Haley pick our activities. We did a lesson in Rosetta Stone Spanish, played princess castle, baked a cake, and read a chapter in a new book (I think we have 3 books going now and don't know how she keeps them all straight).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Fall 2007 Curriculum Plans...

Okay, we are in week #2 of the 2007-2008 "homeschool year." Here is what we have planned so far.


Math- Jacob's Geometry

Weekly writing assignment (topics will vary to include different types of expository writing)
Grammar/Spelling/Vocabulary- Spelling Power Level G, grammar to be discussed based on
editing on writing assignments and common errors.

Daily reading

Earth Science- Great Course DVDs on Geology, CyberEd Earth and Space science course,
various books on space, planets, astronomy, rocks/minerals, and earth as needed to
supplement. Purchased rock kit with various specimens for study. In spring with
bring telescope home for further space and astronomy study. Also planning trip to
Yellowstone National Park next summer to coincide with these studies.

Medieval History- Great Course DVDs on Medieval history, World History the Human Odyssey
History Scribe for notebook keeping. Activity books like Knights and Castles by Hart & Mantell and Days of Knights and Damsels by Laurie Carlson.

Rosetta Stone Spanish

Geography- through history study and more in depth with Evan-Moor Daily Geography
practice 6th grade.

Art- Drawing with Children
Music- drums
Phys.Ed.- Wrestling, Taekwondo, Gumdo, and wants to start studying Judo.


Math- Saxon 76

Weekly writing assignment as above

Grammar/Spelling/Vocabulary- Spelling Power level F, grammar and vocabulary learned
through various readings.

Daily Reading
Earth Science as above
Medieval History as above
Rosetta Stone Spanish
Geography as above
Art as above
Music- guitar
Phys.Ed.- Taekwondo, Gumdo, basement workouts and wants to start Judo


Math- some combination of Saxon 2 and Miquon red book
Daily reading
Copywork- from readings, poems, etc...
Spelling- Spelling Power level A
Earth Science- joining in on CyberEd and various readings, activities and experiments with
History- SOTW 2 plus activities
Rosetta Stone Spanish
Geography- as above
Art as above
Music- violin and fiddle including violin group class bimonthly. Will learn more music reading
and theory through Music Mind Games
Phys Ed- taekwondo and dance

Well, that's what we have so far. When things are not quite as hectic with the end of summer, rescheduling activities for new year, and my everchanging work schedule (which should be on 2 days per week as of the middle of September). I hope to reinstitute daily journal/nature journal activities at least for Haley because we enjoyed them and have the entire school schedule implemented.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Grammy's Birthday Surprise...

On Tuesday morning a woman from Grammy's office called to invite Haley to play violin at the office for Grammy's birthday luncheon. She said that Grammy talks about Haley's prowess on violin often and always says she will bring her in to play but never has so they were taking matters into their own hands.

So, I took Haley and her violin. She played for the 15 or so people who work with her Grammy. I am always amazed at her composure and confidence in front of large groups of people. She played for them and talked to them so articulately and without the least bit of shyness. The funniest thing to me is that when she plays for other people, she seems to remember all those little points that we work on when practicing even though I often have to remind her about them during practice sessions. As someone who tends to get nervous and make mistakes under pressure, I have the utmost respect for my daughter who thrives on it.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Survivor Man in my backyard...

I am thinking that maybe my boys have been watching too much Discovery Channel lately. We had 3 very large trees cut down and as you can see, every bit of 3 large trees is still in my backyard. All those trees and limbs plus my boys equals tons of fun. They spent the better part of two days making survival forts, talking through each step as though a videoman was taping every minute. I had to put the cabash on when they starting talking about spending the night in their forts (the lake behind is a mosquito haven). I think I also heard some talk about eating ants and grasshoppers....

Saturday, August 18, 2007


I was not aware just how used to Haley's violin skills I have become until I saw her through our extended family's eyes. We went to North Carolina to visit Daddy's family for 10 days. To truly understand the visit, you have to first know that Daddy has 8 aunts and uncles and all of their families living near Wilmington plus his sister and her family came from Charlotte for a few days to see us as well. It is fun and exhausting and there is never a shortage of cousins to play with.

Anyway, Haley took her violin so she could, of course practice and she played for everyone numerous times. Some of the family even invited friends to come and hear her play. Watching my tiny girl fiddling away with her feet tapping or dancing, her body swaying, and the beautiful music coming from that tiny violin was amazing. She put her whole heart into each "performance" and the family was ready to find her a talent agent and send her on tour.

Some of them really got to see her in action because when we left for vacation, she had just been given two new fiddle tunes to learn. She learned the first and polished it right before we left (in two days) then while we were there she learned the first half of the other tune the first day then the second half the next day. So those who heard her the first day down there, heard her only able to play the first half of the tune but when they came back the next day, got to hear what she had learned the next day. They then thought it was fun to see if she could figure out other songs and bits of songs in a "Try to Stump Haley" kind of game. No one could.

The fiddle tune Haley figured out, her teacher had given to her "just to listen to and not to learn." She does not know Haley well enough yet if she thinks my kid will just listen to a piece of music and not figure it out. It was a bit more complicated than the previous songs so even I was impressed that she figured it out so quickly. I keep thinking that a time will come when she won't be able to figure a piece out after hearing it once or twice and I wonder how she will handle that. She has already far surpassed what I could figure out so I don't really even think I could help her at that point without written music to go by. It is pretty sad that my 5yo has greater musical talent than me when I had 10 years of lessons.

They boys had a great time playing with all the cousins and playing in the ocean. I was really nervous with them in the water because there were reports of a 13 yo who was shark-bit just the week before and the water was soooo warm, like a bathtub. But no one ended up missing pieces of themselves so it was a good trip all in all.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Fiddle Fun...

On Sunday night we attended a concert given by the Kane Sisters, two sisters from Ireland. The concert was at Haley's fiddle teacher's home, up close and personal. Haley was again the youngest child (the next youngest was a 9yo little girl). Haley sat right in the middle front row and clapped along to all the songs, often leaning forward on the edge of her chair so she could stomp her feet as well. She was so intent on watching the girls play and was sitting so close she could have touched them. She also had excellant rhythm and kept the clapping up perfectly even when her hands started itching from all the clapping and every other beat she had to scratch them.

After the last song, when everyone continued to give the girls a standing ovation, they came back out and played a song saying it was a song just for Haley who has been studying fiddle for the last 2 years and who had been their rhythem section for the entire concert. Haley thought that was really cool. We bought her a CD and she got their autographs after the show. It was really upbeat and fun music.

Yesterday Haley had fiddle lesson #2 and she learned another song plus her teacher put a 5th song on her tape "for her to listen to but not play." (Yeah right! That lasted until this morning when she began playing the first part of the song on the second playing of the tape and I stopped her from playing the other part because we had to go to the movies- we saw Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix today.)

Monday, July 23, 2007

First fiddle lesson...

Haley had her first fiddle lesson today. What fun that is going to be for her- no inportance placed on posture (many fiddlers play with horrid posture by classical standards) and correct bowing (because there is no "correct" way to bow a fiddle piece) so she gets to just learn to play the songs and have fun. I think it is going to be a wonderful supplement to her Suzuki training though I must insist on correct posture when she plays so she doesn't get lazy with her classical playing.

I think she really shocked the teacher. The teacher asked her to play a piece she knew already so she could get an idea of what she knew and how she played. Haley played her the Bill Sullivan polka and the teacher was really impressed. The look on her face was priceless. I could tell from her emails and our conversation on the TV that she thought I was exaggerating because she has never taught anyone this young. She played the piece with Haley then noticed that Haley had figured out the slurs in the song simply by watching her play them.
She then said she would give Haley a new piece called Britches Full of Stitches. I told her I thought Haley might have figured that one out as well from the DVD because it goes with Bill Sullivan's polka but since I hadn't watched the DVD with her I wasn't sure which song was which. The teacher played it and Haley repeated it right back to her so she decided to give her another completely new piece. She played it so I could record it then when she had finished Haley played it almost perfectly through even though she had never heard the piece before today.

The teacher told me that she knows of get-togethers where children fiddle together and said that Haley would be able to play with them for the next one. She was extremely impressed with Haley's intonation and posture/hand position (if she only knew the "work" that went into the latter). Haley can't wait to go for her next lesson. I had originally wanted to do it every other week but I guess if she really likes it we may do weekly.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Way to go Dylan!

Last night Dylan tested for and received his first dan black belt in taekwondo. He did an awesome job! We are so proud of him. He worked very hard practicing and getting himself ready for the test for weeks prior.

His test consisted of 21 forms, board breaking, sparring, self defense techniques, kicking and punching drills, plus a mile run, push-ups and situps. He had to spar 5 times then had to do a minute with each of 4 people without getting a break. His forms were so crisp and his kicks higher than I have ever seen him do. It is an exhausting test and he did his best in everything.

When he started class as a 3.5 years old, I never imagined this day would come. He was so little and would not even stay on the mat the entire class. He only did the parts he liked then came and sat on my lap. A black belt seemed so far away then. Great job, Dyl!

Here is Dylan with Sabumnin Eddie getting his new belt.

In other news today, Haley earned her yellow belt. She has completed her basic forms so will now start learning the "real" taekwondo forms. I am so proud of her. She didn't watch everyone else and get confused like she sometimes does during class. Here I am giving her her belt and certificate.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Fiddling Around...

Yesterday, Haley played her fiddle song for her violin teacher. The teacher seemed pretty impressed that she had learned it from a video in only 10 minutes of hearing it. She said I should send her story to the Suzuki Organization as a demonstration of how well the method works.

Today, Haley stuck in her DVD and learned another fiddle piece on her own. She then found the music score to the DVD songs and asked me to play it on the piano for her. I did and it helped her to fix two spots she was having difficulty getting perfect. She is now listening to the DVD while she plays in the living room. I have never seen a child so eager to learn and intent on doing it.

I have gotten a few books to try teaching her some piano to supplement her violin and help with the music reading but I think I will wait to start until after we get back from vacation the middle of August simply because we can't take a piano on vacation with us.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

New Math Book

Haley's new Miquon math book arrived today. She completed 4 pages after I gave it to her. I am hoping the book takes her more than a couple weeks to finish. I guess it won't really matter though because it wasn't too expensive.

Dylan tests for his 1st dan black belt in taekwondo next Friday. I am so excited for him. He has been doing such a good job on his forms lately. I hope he doesn't get too nervous to perform his best for his test. He does not tend to have the nerves-of-steel his brother does. I can understand perfectly because often my nerves tend to get the best of me. Both boys will test next month for Haidong Gumdo. I just realized this evening that Newt will be a red belt and Dylan a brown belt. Soon they will be eligible for a black belt in that as well. Both boys really want to try Judo because they are bored with taekwondo. There is only one form to learn between belts now and two years to wait.

I have Haley's first Irish fiddle lesson scheduled in a week and a half. It turns out that the woman who I was put in contact with was actually the one who introduced the musicians at the Celtic music concert we attended. She sat next to us for part of the program and remembered us. (Haley was the only child and she is very hard to miss with her golden hair and the adult conversation that comes from her little body.) She was also the woman selling the CDs and DVDs who told Haley she wouldn't need the DVD on How to Play Celtic Fiddle for a long time. She has never taught anyone as young as Haley but she teaches by having her students listen to the music so Haley should do very well with her.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Amazing Math....

As any one of my family members can tell you...I am a planner. I love to be organized and have every detail worked out. I am not the best at "going with the flow." I am the one who wants to control the spigot. So far, this has been pretty hard when parenting. I was doing pretty well throughout most of my adult life. Then all three of my children decided to make their own plans on when they thought their deliveries should occur and it pretty much has been downhill from there. Where is all this going...well...

I am now officially compacting math curriculum for Haley. She has been complaining lately about needing harder math. So I spent a couple hours reviewing the 1st and 2nd grade math curriculums I have and set about to make a plan. She had about 10 topics left to learn in 1st grade math (as of this morning, during which she mastered 3 in 3 minutes) .

This morning my goal was for her to understand the concept of 1/4th and to learn to tell time to the half hour on an analog clock. Well, the analog clock thing took all of 2 seconds. I showed her how to do half past 3 and she said, "Oh, then half past 6 would be this. (As she formed it on the clock.) And half past 10 would be this...." and so on and so on for every hour all out of order.

I then showed draw a square and divided it into four pieces and shaded in one part. I told her that it is "one out of four or 1/4th" and showed her how to write it. She then took off with that, saying, "Well, if I divided a circle into 6 pieces and shaded in one it would be one out of six and it would look like this (as she wrote it)." She went on to figure out one out of pretty much every fractional part up to 1/13th, got bored with that, then figured out how it would be written to show more than one shaded. She has figured out not just 1/4th but the concept of fractions completely. (Learning 1/3 and 1/6 was supposed to be another day's learning. )

I thought I had the whole compacting thing figured out. So much for scheduling. I guess I just need to follow her lead and let her learn at whatever rate she wants. This is really hard for me, the ultimate planner to do.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


(Due to technical difficulties, the kind of which I have no idea, I am not able to add titles to my posts! What's up with that?)

Anyway, today I took the kids swimming after church. We took along Haley's violin in case we found a moment to practice but I wasn't going to push it. We swam for about an hour then Haley got out of the pool, dried off, and stated very matter-of-factly, "Don't you think it's about time for me to change my clothes and practice violin?"

So, we changed clothed and practiced for an hour then went back to swimming again.
Last night Haley was playing around with the piano trying to pick out some songs. I had a brainstorm and I cut little pieces of paper, wrote the note names on them and stuck them on the keys so she would know which was which. She spent an hour, reading the music in her music reading book and playing it on the piano then going back and forth from violin to piano trying to figure out songs on both. It was really neat to watch.

Monday, July 02, 2007

I feel like I am living in a musical today...aahhhh!

Haley woke up this morning singing and has been singing ever since. She hummed along to all the Suzuki songs she knows, made up melodies to go to her own words, and informed me that I should sing any answer to the questions she sings me. (This was all before breakfast.) Whenever I looked at her strangely she said, "I just can't get these songs out of my head!"

I think I hear her still singing while playing outside with Lily.

On a brighter note...(excuse the pun) she had a wonderful violin lesson today. A complete turn around from the wiggly, over-tired child she was last week. She listened and tried her best at everything.

Daddy and Dylan are tearing out the cedar room in the basement. When we first moved into this house, it was the only thing about the house I liked but now that we have remodelled and had a flood in the basement from a break in the washer hose leading to worries about mold, it is not so difficult to see it go. Dylan is right at home doing the demolition work. I have never seen a child who likes to work the way that boy does.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I want Algebra...my math is too easy!

Tonight I did a major overhaul of the whole house...cleaned the basement and schoolroom/playroom plus the kids rooms to get more organized. Man, does it feel good!
So, I was just answering my emails and renewing car registrations on the internet and Haley comes up to me and says, "My math is too easy. I want to do Algebra." I tried to tell her that she needs to know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide first before she can do Algebra.

Her response, "I can do all that."

"No, you can add and subtract but you don't know how to multiply or divide yet."

"Yes, I do," she says.

"Okay...(thinking I would put an end to this conversation and just order her Saxon 2)...what's 3 times 3?"

She spins in circles for a few seconds then answers, "Nine."

Daddy who had been listening from the kitchen asks her a few more and she spins in circles and comes up with the right answer.

I was going to order Saxon 2 workbook but now I think I have to just skim through it so it might be a waste. How do I teach math to a kid who already knows it? Okay, now she has a calculator and is checking her answers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Last night...

Yesterday morning, Haley really wanted to play with Lily rather than practice her violin. She went through about 45 minutes of practice then I told her we could finish later in the afternoon. So, I sent Lily home around dinner time and while dinner cooked Haley finished her practice. After practicing, I put in the Book 4 CD and she tried a few of those songs. She then asked for Book 3 and listened to that while trying to play what she could figure out. Then she wanted Book 2 and she did the same with that.

During the Institute, Mr. Durbin had made up a story to go with Hunter's Chorus from Book 2 so Haley really was trying to figure out how to play it but getting frustrated at herself for not knowing it. I took Newt to wrestling after dinner and she must have been working on it while I was gone because, by the time I got home she had the first part figured out.

We are now in our summer schedule for school and doing work only 3 days a week. I bought a different Geometry program for Newt because neither of us liked the one we were using. The new program is Jacob's and it is more highschool textbook-like so Newt is really enjoying it. He says he loves geometry because he can see where he will need to use it later in life and because he thinks it will help his pool game.

Haley decided that she can do her math by herself now and keeps telling me she needs harder math like the boys. I skipped another 20 lessons and restarted her there. She doesn't have her addition and subtraction facts down cold but I notice her doing many of them without counting now so I think taking a bit more time on it has been good for her. She learned to tell time in one lesson and is doing great with counting money (right now just dimes and pennies). I guess I need to order the workbook part of Saxon 2 for her soon. I think she will be ready for it in another month or two. I had been planning on not doing Spelling Power with her until January but I think we may start it in September so we can use it as her phonics program as well. She doesn't really need an entire phonics workbook because she seems to know it intuitively just from reading a lot. It is so hard to know where to go with her because whenever I think I know what to do, she makes a huge jump and what I bought is no longer useful.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

First lesson with summer substitute...

Yesterday, Haley had her first lesson with Lori who will teach her while her regular teacher is in Colorado for the summer. Haley was tired after her week at the Institute and really wiggly but she did well in her lesson. As we were walking out to put away her fiddle she started playing a couple of her "experimental pieces" and Lori seemed surprised and asked if she had figured them out on her own. When I said she had, Lori replied that I had a future violinist on my hands and told me that she plays very well for her age.

While we were at the Institute, Haley started to play one of her fiddling songs before group class and one of the mothers said her 8yo knew that song because her teacher also taught fiddling once a month to a group class. She wanted Haley and her daughter to play the song together but Haley played too fast for her daughter, who was just learning the song, so it didn't work out very well. It got me thinking that maybe Haley would like to learn more fiddling from someone who could teach her the techniques to go with the music. So, today I did a search for Irish fiddling lessons. I did come up with a name and am waiting to hear back from her. I would like to find someone to teach her once a month or so to supplement what she is getting with her Suzuki lessons.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Suzuki Institute

Haley and Gillian An on concert night.

Helen, Gillian An, and Haley in group class.

Before I tell you about camp. I will leave you to ponder a couple questions I was asked while riding for 3 hours in the car with Haley...

While riding past a field of corn.... "Mommy, how many gallons of water do you suppose it takes to water all those ears of corn?"

A little while later..."Mommy, if you were one of those twins who are connected to each other, would you have to marry the same person?"

If you know the answer to either of these two questions please give me a call!

We just returned from a wonderful week at the Suzuki Institute in Washington DC. It was very eye opening and also helped me get some perspective on what I am dealing with as far as my little musician.

Everyday Haley had a group class, an individual lesson in a Master class format where 4 children received 15 minutes of lessons while the others watched, and an hour play-in. Haley loved the play-in because the instructor, Mr. Durbin, was like a stand-up comedian for young violinists making stories out of the songs along with sound effects and faces reminiscent of Jim Carey. The man definately has a gift when dealing with huge groups of violin students and making them love playing violin.

Haley was the youngest child in her group class (group classes were arranged by level). Most of the other students were 6-8 years old except for 2 little girls who were both 5.5 yo and were also in her individual class so they became fast friends. They are both to Haley's right in the picture. Haley and Gillian An (the little one right next to her) spent all their time together, played duets to practice, and held hands when walking around. They were inseparable and her family was wonderful as well. Gillian An was amazed at Haley's ability to play many songs other than Suzuki songs and kept asking me how she learned this one and that one. Her grandmother said that she does not pick up her violin except to practice and though she learns the notes to the Suzuki songs easily, she does not figure out other songs on her own like Haley does.

Besides Gillian An who also played with wonderful posture, I noticed that most of the other children in Haley's class did not play with the posture those two had or play with the same musicality and bow control. I actually noticed many more advanced, older children had very poor posture and control though they played songs even in Books 3-4. Since going through all we did to correct Haley's posture and technique, I am very attuned to it in other children. There were 3 other small children (6-8 yos) who I noticed stood out in their playing and it was neat to see where Haley is headed should she continue as she is now.

After going to the camp I am feeling more in control of this situation. I am no longer as panicked as I have been recently. I have found a place where I can stop worrying so much about things I can't control and focus on what is important...taking each day as it comes, enjoying the journey, and helping my little one enjoy music.

Besides the camp, we were able to spend a lot of time with my brother Karl's fiance, Amy. She took us on tours of the Capitol building and the White House (Haley's only request in DC). We ate dinner one night at a restaurant on top of a hotel where we could see the top of the White House and watch the guards walk around on the roof. We spent an afternoon playing with 4 little girls from Haley's old violin school and also went to the zoo with a set of twins one afternoon. We were so busy and Haley napped almost every afternoon for 2-3 hours (my child who I had to stop from napping at 18 months old).

The boys spent the week at a Police Camp. They had a blast learning about crime scene investigation, forensics, self defense tactics, etc... Every night they told me about all the wonderful things they did. Dylan wants to be a police man now and definately wants to do it again next year.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Two more days or maybe one more day...depends how you count!

Haley and I leave for Suzuki Institute on Monday. She is so excited and has mastered backward counting even over a number of days. Every morning, since 14 more days, she wakes and first thing she says is "----- more days until we go!" Daddy and I don't agree how the counting should go but I prefer my more optimistic way of only counting the in between days and not the one we are on or the one in which we are going.

This morning she woke up and said, "One more day until we go" and gave me the biggest hug and kiss. The added, "I can't wait to play my violin every day!" Okay, we do practice every day but I guess the idea of lessons and group classes every day is more exciting.

Our newest way to add to practice time is to send Haley far away, like to the next tree, and have her play her way back to me by taking a step for every song she plays well. The funny thing is that she doesn't "cheat" and if she messes up will stay and play it again.

The boys are going to a police camp that Poppop found for them while I am away. It is a day camp and they get to learn about forensics, crime scene investigation, plus meet a police dog, and touch a lot of police stuff. It sounds like a lot of fun. I am leaving their health insurance cards this time so hopefully they won't end up in the ER like they did last time I left them alone with Daddy. No stitches for Dylan this year I hope!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Wonderful big brother...

Dylan did the sweetest thing today. He made some money this weekend helping his dad do a job. We had to run a few errands today to get ready for our trip next week. While we were in Walmart checking out, Dylan whispered that he wanted to get Haley something for her birthday. I told him Haley and I would wait for him at the entrance and he could go ahead and get her what he wanted. He and Newt went and found her a Brats Magic Hair doll that she has been asking for and they had the cashier pack it in 3 bags so Haley couldn't see. Then he decided he wanted to give it to her early so she could play with it on her trip.

She was so excited and hugged him up. She told the boys, "I am so lucky to have you two for my big brothers."

It was just one of those moments that make you think you must be doing something right as a parent.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Busy week...

This week Haley figured out that even numbers and counting by 2's from 0 are the same thing and she proceeded to count by 2's to 100.

Friday the kids stayed with Poppop while Mommy and Daddy worked. They had a blast. They went to the park, went swimming, watched Moby Dick, and swam some more. Who is that man and what has he done with my father? He is so much fun now that he is a Poppop and even more fun and more relaxed now that he is retired.

Yesterday Haley went to a birthday party at a Pump It Up- a place full of blow up bouncey equipment. Chloe went as well so the two of them were attached and holding hands throughout the entire party. The people working there thought they were sisters because Chloe is head and shoulders taller than Haley. They were so cute racing each other through the obstacle course about 10 times with the attendent yelling "Ready, Set, Go!" and squealing as they flung themselves down the huge slides. One adult woman asked, "I wonder why they squeal like that?" She went down the slide a few minutes later and covered her mouth, embarassed when the squeal emerged from her own lips.
When we got home yesterday, I let the boys ride their bike 2 blocks together to the neighborhood store to get themselves an icecream. They are getting older and I feel like I need to give them some responsibility, a little bit at a time. They went with my cell phone so I could call them if I got nervous. (I really wanted to call them but I kept myself from doing it though I did have Haley practicing violin outside the whole time so I could see them coming round the block.) They were very responsible and even brought back an icecream for Haley which was nice.

Today was Haley's dance recital. She did a great job! She is the tiniest child in the school. Poppop laughed when watching the video of her dress rehearsal. The girls all kneel at the end and Haley stood up first and even standing, she was still shorter than the girls kneeling next to her. She got a medal for perfect attendance and while the teacher was reading the names of the students and the other girls were standing still and embarassed on stage, my ham stood dancing around holding up her medal for all to see with the hugest smile on her face, nodding her head like "yes, I got a medal. See it. Yep it's mine!". After the program we could barely get out of there with all the old people stopping her to tell her how wonderful she did and that she was the "star of the show." I added a couple pictures from dress rehearsal because we weren't allowed to take pictures at the recital.
After dinner, Haley practiced violin for awhile, outside, it is beautiful today. She played through all her "real" songs then started playing her "Britches Full of Stitches Polka." She has it down pretty well and I wanted her to keep playing so I started dancing around her like a Celtic dancer and she kept playing and dancing and laughing. It was fun! (though the neighbors must think we are really strange).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Paid to Play...

Haley made her first dollar today playing violin for the ladies at the thriftstore near the boy's music lessons. Haley and Daddy go in there every week to waste time while the boys have their lessons and they always ask Haley to play for them.

After she played for the guys in the music store (they ask her to do mini concerts all the time), they told Ritch he needs to set her up with her violin case open on the boardwalk somewhere and let her play. I had already nixed that idea when Ritch came up with it but they aren't helping me on that one. Somehow the idea of exploiting my daughter does not sit well with me. Ritch says it would help pay for all the lessons and new violins she will need.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Eat like a Roman...and a Greek...

Yesterday we finished up our unit on Ancient Greece and began our study of the Roman Empire. We decided to have a meal featuring food like they would have eaten in Ancient Greece and Rome. The kids and I worked hard preparing cinnamon rolls (R), bean salad (R), spinach triangles (G), garlic bread (R), and lemon oregano chicken (G). The chicken was only because we were unable to find dormouse to stuff or flamingo at the local grocery store.

All the dishes turned out deliciously though Haley decided she only liked the chicken and the cinnamon rolls. I was a little surprised that they tasted good because some of our other tries at authentic cooking were pretty lousy...think Viking bread (yuck!).

Our neighbor gave us a small pool they had from last year because someone gave them a larger one. Ritch and Dylan put it up last night while I took Newt to wrestling practice. I am sure the kids will get tons of enjoyment in that this summer when we don't have time to go to Poppop's to swim. I imagine splashing in the pool singing out times tables and Spanish/Latin vocabulary (ha,ha).

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Copying Beethoven...

Last night as we sat watching the movie "Copying Beethoven," Haley suddenly got up all excited and said, "She's writing notes. I want to write notes, too."

First she started with a blank piece of paper and tried to draw her own staff with a ruler but she didn't like how it looked so I asked Dylan to copy her some blank staff paper from his guitar book. She said she wanted to write Twinkle so I got out her music book and she sat and slowly copied the first line of Twinkle onto her staff paper.

She said she wanted to copy her whole book so that when her cousin, Kendall, was old enough she could play violin from it. Today she sat and copied a bit more. I don't know if she will make it through the entire Book1 but even so, she has figured a way for herself to learn music reading in a quicker way than I had been teaching it to her.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Views on self motivation...

There has been a lot of discussion in my gifted group recently about self motivation/determination and it's impact on a child's giftedness. Almost every book I have read on giftedness talks about task commitment/self motivation as an important factor in a child's success. I don't remember any of them discussing whether it is inborn or learned or how you develop it.

I have been reading a book called "Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Gardner. In this book, the author feels that a person's can have one of two mindsets: either a fixed mindset where they feel that intelligent/creativity, etc... are inborn traits or a growth mindset where they believe that a person's intellect or other traits are constantly changing based on how hard the person works. In this view a person with a fixed mindset would be less likely to take on challenging tasks because they either believe a smart person should not have to work hard or that a failure would prove they are not as smart as others believe them to be. A person with a growth mindset would view gladly accept a challenge and view failure as a learning experience.

I believe there is some merit to these views but don't believe they tell the whole story on why a person is or is not motivated. There are so many factors that work together to make a person who they become. I am sure some part of a person's motivation must have to be inborn or personality based. I am also sure that a person's experiences will lead them to be more or less motivated.

I have three different children. I would probably say that in certain instances Newt is very self motivated but not always highly so. He will work hard on things that interest him but also need a push at times when a lot of effort is required. Dylan is motivated if it has to do with physical labor or creating something but is very unmotivated to keep his room clean or do school work, especially reading. He has become more motivated to practice his guitar and do his math as he has matured. Haley is the most highly self motivated of all my children. She will work hard to overcome any challenge. She works hard to do her schoolwork without being asked, practice violin, keeps her stuff organized, etc... How many not quite 5 year olds would work independently to master things like she does without any input from anyone else to motivate her? It is amazing to me to watch her and see what she comes up with.

Besides birth order each of these children has had the same basic upbringing. I spoiled them all though Haley may be the most spoiled just because of circumstances (she is so much younger than the boys and my last/ the boys entertain and play with each other a lot so I play with her/ etc....) I try to praise effort rather than their personal traits for all of them. Their personalities must play a role in it. I do believe that they can learn to be self motivated by being brought up to set goals and reach those goals and by being parented in a growth mindset sort of way. I think maturity and developing their own interests will also them to become more motivated.

Some of it must be heredity. I am very goal oriented and have been as long as I can remember but I don't know if I was that way at 4 or younger. Maybe it was the way I was brought up. Who knows for sure? Some people grow up in incredibly awful conditions, end up being very self motivated, and succeed.

Great weekend...

Yesterday was a great day. The weather was wonderful. I cleaned my whole house including getting to some things like windows, sunroom, etc... that I have been meaning to get to. I always feel better when my house is clean. The kids helped a lot with the cleaning then the boys played with Haley outside for most of the day- playing in the sprinkler and on the playset.

Later the boys took a canoe ride and when they returned and were putting away their life jackets, they found a small water turtle laying her eggs. We all stood and watched her lay 6 eggs then cover them up . It is amazing watching what a clumsy turtle is able to do with just her hind legs. We are going to place a net cage over the nest so we can see the babies when they hatch and keep predators off the nest.

Today we had church then picked strawberries at Grammy and Poppop's house. Later Newt has wrestling practice then we will have a nice family night. Tomorrow we will spend the day with Grammy and Poppop before heading to the church Memorial Day picnic.


Before her practice I always give Haley time to "play" with her violin and she practices those songs she is figuring out for herself and fiddles around with it (little play on words there) learning new songs, finding pieces that sound like a song and making up songs, and figuring out different ways to move her bow (like up, up, up or down, down, down instead of up and down). Yesterday, she played during that time and figured out that there are many more notes on her violin than the ones she has been allowed to play so far. She figured out that Concerto in A by Vivaldi has higher notes further down on the E string- she found those and I heard her practicing the passage she figured out over and over until she could make her fingers hit those new notes.

Last night, she listened to her Celtic fiddling DVD and figured out the second part of the polka she started to learn. Later she was fiddling around and she discovered, almost accidentally, that she could play more than one note per bowing and she started playing Gavotte in G minor (I forget by whom) from the 3rd Suzuki CD. I was sitting right next to her watching TV while she played with her violin and I don't even know how she did it. Suddenly she was just playing with long bowings and all the notes in that bowing. She must have played her violin, including her practice time, more than 3 hours yesterday.

I wonder if this is normal for Suzuki trained kids. All this experimentation and the drive to master new techniques. I am trying to have her listen more to non-Suzuki pieces (why I bought the fiddling DVD) so she will work to learn those rather than the Suzuki pieces because I want her to be taught those and not learn improper techniques but the Suzuki songs are the ones she knows right now because she listens to them and hears the "big girls" playing them. They are the songs she loves so they are the ones she wants to play.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Showing off...

Today at violin lessons, Haley's teacher asked her which performance she liked best at the concert. She answered that she liked Maggie's performance Concerto in A minor by Vivaldi even though the poor girl erred a couple times (she had come into the concert late from a dance recital). It is one of Haley's favorite songs from Book 4. She started playing it for her teacher and her teacher told her that's what her daughter used to do. (Her daughter is a wonderfully accomplished player who has won numerous awards.)

Then she and her teacher were playing a duet of Allegro with her teacher playing it with added notes so it sounded very fancy. As soon as they were finished, Haley began to play exactly what her teacher had just played. Gerry just laughed at her and patted her on the head.

Not to be outdone, Dylan taught himself parts of a number of his favorite guitar pieces. I think Haley's skills are rubbing off on him which is nice because he sees her being praised and is practicing more himself so he can receive the same praise.

Monday, May 21, 2007

No way!

Friday night, while we were at the Celtic music concert, Haley was so impressed with the fiddler that when she saw a DVD on how to play Irish tunes, she begged me to buy it. The saleslady told her she would have to wait a few years because it was for grown ups but Haley was so adamant (and a little spoiled) that I bought it for her anyway.

Today I popped in the DVD for her while I checked my email and about 10 minutes later she comes into the room proudly playing the first part of a polka.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Big Concert...

What a busy weekend we've had. Friday night Haley had her Fridays @4 concert at the retirement home then we went straight to an Celtic music concert featuring Kevin Burke on fiddle. The concert was wonderful. Kevin is amazing on the fiddle.

Saturday was dance in the morning for Haley then a taekwondo/Gumdo demonstration at a local fair for everyone. The kids did a great demo and had fun at the fair.

Today was Haley's big end of the year violin concert. She did a great job with her songs in D major (May Song, Long Long Ago, and Allegro). She loves to perform and it shows in her playing. Haley met her substitute summer teacher. She loved Robin's performance of Paganini. Haley says the devil in "Devil Went Down to Georgia" played better than Johnny because he sounded more like Paganini.

One of the students and her mother from Haley's old violin school was at the concert to watch. She was the mother who questioned Gerry repeatedly about Haley and what she was playing when she interviewed Gerry for her daughter to take lessons under. Gerry said it was very weird the way she seemed more interested in what Haley was doing than in her own daughter's lessons. They ended up not taking lessons with Gerry because her daughter didn't want to do the review to polish up her technique.

Newt took his hunter education course this morning. He did a great job. Poppop said he had his hand up for every question. Then he and Poppop went sporting clay shooting. Newt said it was his best day ever. He is still talking about all the fun he is having. Dylan went to work with Daddy today. He worked really hard and the best part for him was not having to go to the violin concert.
It has been a very busy weekend but in a good way. Next weekend is the holiday so we don't have anything at all to attend.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Sponge...

Yesterday Haley informed me that she no longer wanted to do "baby math." Her Singpore math has colorful cartoon pictures and that is the problem. Luckily I have Saxon 1 left over from her brothers so I started her on lesson 37 and let her go to it. She was much happier with the more "grownup" look of the program but still kept telling me how easy it was for her.

This child is exhausting! Once she decides on something, she does it whether it is reading, playing music, riding her bike, or math. All I can do is provide what she asks for and let her soak it all up. She will practice and practice to perfect something and the look of joy that crosses her face when she has mastered her goal just tells me that she finds all the hard work well worth it. I am simply along for the ride.

On Sunday, when she was showing her Poppop how she can ride her bike, he said, "Well, what are you going to learn to do next?" Without missing a beat, she replied, "Pop a wheelie!"

Last night we went to the library. I think my sponge has more fun there than a toy store. I have to limit the number of books she can take out and she begs the entire time to take more (not like she does not have shelves and shelves of her own books but she's read most if not all of those). Last night she chose three children's story books, a book on Ancient China, a book on Saints (?), two on Ancient Greece, a book about the rodeo. and a book of children's plays. She will be very well read by the time she is, like, six.

"I'm ready to do my hard math, Mommy!" I am being summoned.