Wednesday, January 28, 2009


A couple years ago as our sweet 12yo yellow lab, Skeeter, was declining in health, we decided to purchase another dog to ease the loss when it came. We wanted a smaller dog so it would be less of a hassel to take her places, less hair in the house, and less damage to property.

While looking at various doggy types, I fell in love with Toy Fox Terriers. They seemed like the perfect breed for our family...small but with the terrier attitude and playfulness. I searched and searched for one locally but came up short. I finally found a breeder in AL who had pups and was willing to allow us to pick ours up at her friend's in FL near where Uncle Karl was stationed. We made the trip down determined to only take the dog if she had the right "personality." As I walked up to that cage of puppies, one puppy ran and hid in a tent and the other came right up, jumping onto the side of the cage wanting to lick me...she was our pup.

The only problem...she was sooooo tiny....2lb. I was so afraid we would step on her. We took our spunky little puppy home. She made us all fall in love with her during the ride. She climbed into our shirts to sleep, played like a large dog, and kissed us up every chance she could.

That was 3 years ago. Skeeter died about 2 months after we brought Tinks home (cancer in her brain). Tinks was there to help fill the void. Now she is a fixture at our house. She loves to sleep under my laptop while I sit typing or sleep on any soft blanket she can find. She hides under my bed during thunderstorms and hates the sound of the bodhran playing. She looks forward to her Greenie every morning and has learned a number of neat "tricks"...sit, down, stay, wait, stick em up, shake, roll over, dance, etc... She barks and growls at anyone who acts menacingly toward Haley or me and loves to go with us in the car.
I just wanted to post about all the members of our family.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Yesterday, Newt attended his very first judo tournament. He placed second (out of two people) but he did a great job considering his opponent was significantly bigger than him (probably closer to my size than his), had been doing judo since he was 5yo, had a father from Russia who competed in the Olympic trials in his country, and had the highest belt rank an under 16yo can have.

Newt only lost by one move in each match and didn't get nipponed (thrown for an automatic win). I don't understand the scoring in judo so the score was either 1-0 or 10-o (it was difficult to tell how many points were awarded for the one move the boy got on him each time). Newt attempted many moves but refused to use any of his wrestling skills/moves ("I wanted to try out only my judo moves.").

I enjoyed the fact that they started at 1pm and we were finished fighting with medals awarded and out the door by 2:30pm. They certainly know how to move people and get a tournament finished. I also enjoyed the fact that I know nothing about judo. It was way less stressful that way. I could just sit back and watch. (I do think I will look up the scoring rules so I at least understand how they score for next time.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Irish Musicians...

Tonight I took Haley to an Irish Seisun at The Plow and the Stars in Philly. As I sat and watched my little tiny girl sitting on a stool playing away on her violin...besides thinking that she just might roll herself off the stool rocking back and forth to her playing, I had two thoughts.

The first is that I have to say that Irish musicians, especially the ones who meet to play at The Plow and the Stars are some of the nicest people I have ever met. They accept my little 6yo as if she is one of the adults. They let her chose some of songs to play and seem to enjoy her company. That may be one of the greatest benefits to her interest in Irish music...the people we meet as a result.

The second is the amazement I feel watching her do what she does and not just her musical abilities...her maturity and poise while speaking to the musicians...she is just as comfortable with adults as she is with other kids. They ask her questions, she looks them in the eye and answers and asks questions of them. I know teens and adults who can't communicate and conduct themselves with that amount of poise. I don't know what I did right in my life to be gifted with not only this amazing little girl but also her brothers who have their own gifts and talents.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How does a child do this?

My Haley loves music. Anyone who has read any part of this blog knows this. Just when I think I know the depth of her love for music, she has a day like today and I am in awe of her once more. Maybe I should just get used to this feeling when it comes to my baby.

Last night while getting/giving snuggles before bed, Haley was trying to tell Daddy he'd had his share and it was my turn. He said, "But she makes her practice violin and I let you play all day!!"

She replied, "But I love practicing violin and Mommy knows it."

Today as I finished my morning shower and turned off the water, I heard the wonderful sounds of my little one taking it upon herself to practice her violin. I listened to her playing through her review pieces from Books 1 and 2 then her scales. Afterward, she played with her toys for a short time then asked me to sit with her while she finished her practicing. She worked for another hour + on her Book 3 songs (two for her concert next week and her newest piece), played around with other violin favorites, then practiced her newer fiddle tunes. Once all the violin playing was finished, I taught her a new song on piano and she practiced that for awhile. Then I showed her how to play the first few measures of "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" by Bach even though her little hands are too small to reach the octave required. She did get the right hand and made her own left hand notes to go with it.

We spent the rest of the day at a birthday party then took Newt to wrestling practice. When we got home Haley played piano for the rest of us once she finished dinner then it was late so most of us sat to watch a bit of TV prior to bed. Not Haley, she donned her headphones (the best purchase I have made in the last month) and practiced piano for another 45 minutes by herself.

I find it amazing that a 6yo has that amount of motivation and desire to perfect something. She is an amazing child.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

CD Making...

Friday, the kids spent the day in the recording studio finishing up their first CD. They worked hard from 10am until almost 4pm stopping only for lunch to finish recording their songs and getting them the way they wanted them. A lot of the time was not spent playing music but waiting for things to be rearranged and set up or doing sound checks. They were so excited, they didn't mind any of the waiting. They were so mature. Each of them admitted when they thought they had made a mistake or when they thought they could do something better.

Frank was so wonderful with the kids. He showed them how everything works and gave them different options for some of their songs. He listened to their ideas and encouraged them to try them out. He even played around with one point the boys started fooling around playing "La Bamba" between takes, Haley began singing along, and Frank started adding bass guitar using his keyboard. He then taped it to surprise the kids but Haley wasn't surprised at all. She immediately asked, "Can we hear it back?" when they finished.

None of us can wait to hear the finished product. It was a great learning experience!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Laying down tracks...

Today the kids gained first hand experience on what it takes to put together an album/CD. A few months ago the kids played together in a local fall festival. The music teacher who had arranged their performance offered to put together a CD for them to thank them. The holiday season was too busy for everyone but this week he contacted us and we set up an appointment for today. Last night was like Christmas Eve for them.

Today was our first meeting so he could listen to their songs and set up his recording equipment. We arrived at 10am and it took close to 1.5 hours to set up the drum set, mics, headsets, and get all the instruments coming through the equipment properly. The kids were so excited they didn't even mind all the waiting around. Once her headset was on, Haley thought it was just the neatest thing that she could hear herself so she talked to herself and made noises into the mic while the rest of the setup was completed.

They then played through their first set of tunes. Frank thought everything sounded good and the kids were ready and excited so we decided to start recording. They played through their polkas 4 times fully plus a number of partials where someone erred or the energy level was low. The kids were very good about deciding where they may have made a mistake or asking if they could try again to make it better. They worked out a few options together and were really thinking about how to make their music sound better. On the 4th full playing, we all knew we had a good recording. The energy level was there, they were in tune and time together, and there were no errors.

Dylan then played his acoustic guitar to the recording and Frank dubbed the acoustic guitar onto their song and showed them some of the ways he could use the computer to polish up the song. We were on a roll but the boys needed to get to music lessons. The kids head back into the recording studio on Friday morning. They are so excited.

Sunday, January 04, 2009


I was given these photos of the kids today and think they are excellant. Two are from the Christmas musical Dylan and Haley participated in and the others are from way back in October when they played the Fall Festival at church. They are just too good not to share. They were taken by the Youth Minister at church who was a professional photographer.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Video and piano playing...

Here's a link to Haley playing at the Wren Party on 12/26/08

Haley has been asking to learn piano for over a year now. I have put her off since I couldn't figure out how we could ever fit in more instrument practice with this child. She has always been drawn to piano and has been picking out familiar melodies for a couple years now. Last month, she figured out a two hand version of Little Drummer Boy using a combination of by ear playing and the music in front of her.

Yesterday I gave in to her and showed her the positioning of her hands to begin the John Thompson Piano Course. She played through the right hand of the first song, then the left hand, then she put both hands together. She did the same with the second song. At first it was very slow going as she tried to coordinate both hands to play the songs but she practiced and practiced...maybe sitting at the piano 5-6 times throughout the evening. This morning, she sat at the piano immediately after breakfast and she was able to play the first two songs smoothly. She taped herself playing them, too.

After I was up and dressed, I showed her how to learn the next two songs...right hand alone, left hand alone, then both together. She practiced on and off today numerous times and by this evening was able to play all 4 songs smoothly. Her single-mindedness and motivation to practice are amazing. So, she is learning to play piano now. I wonder how much of it clicks with what she is learning as far as reading music for violin (notes and rhythms).