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.