Thursday, September 30, 2010

A "Real" Day in Our Lives...

A week or two ago I published a "day in our lives" post about our non-typical day where we actually enjoyed an entire day at home. So, I decided to balance that with a more typical day.

My day begins at 6am when my husband kisses me goodbye then heads off to work, I lay in bed relaxing until I hear Newt get up and go into the bathroom for a shower around 6:30am. I then head downstairs to pack the boys lunch and get their breakfast...squishy eggs (hardboiled eggs squished up with butter, salt, and pepper). I hear Dylan talking to Newt upstairs and tiptoe up to ask them to not wake their sister.
She wakes up anyway and heads down the stairs at 6:45am. Ugh! We have a very long day and I was hoping she'd sleep in until 7:30 or so. Newt gets the bus for school at 7am. I make Haley some breakfast, myself some tea, and read my email. Dylan showers then heads to the bus at 7:45am.

With both boys off to school, Haley and I shower, dress, then I straighten the kitchen while she does her violin review practice. She is concerned about her Wohlfahrt and Shifting exercises for her lesson later so she also reviews those. We then sit to go through a Saxon math lesson. It's an easy lesson for her on completing series of numbers. She completes the problem set on her own while I let the dog out and pack up her violin for her lesson. I also grab the boys' music lesson equipment that they left on the table for later and put that in the car along with the rest of Haley's schoolwork.

At 10am we get in the car and drive the 50 minutes to Haley's violin lesson. During the ride she listens to her Suzuki CDs and The Hot Canary by Brian Lewis. She has her lesson from 11am until 12:15pm. It's a great lesson...she does a fabulous job with everything including those items she was concerned about and gets the go-ahead to put 2 more pieces into her polished/review pile.

After violin, we head to Poppop's to wait for the boys. We do Haley's writing lesson (WWE), get all the printouts ready for her Hands On History Composers project for the week, and read a couple History of US chapters about the pilgrims. Newt arrives at Poppop's house at 2:15pm, eats his protein, then does his lifting workout with Poppop in the basement. I get a few moments to read my book. Dylan calls to tell us he's home...though he was supposed to walk to Poppop's...he forgot and took the bus home.

We leave Poppop's at 3:30pm, run home to get Dylan then head to the boy's music lessons which are only 20 minutes away (thank goodness!). Haley and I go into an unused room so she can practice her fiddle lesson then we go downstairs to the store to ask about options for a new mic for her fiddle. When the boys' lessons are over, we head home. We have leftovers for dinner so Haley, Dylan, and I eat. Newt heads over to his friend's house to ride his bike until dark.

At 6pm, Haley and I head back into the car for the 45 minute ride to her first fiddle teacher's home to watch one of her favorite fiddlers perform a private house concert. The Kevin Burke concert is wonderful and very different. Haley's teacher had asked everyone attending to chose a set of tunes off one of Kevin's CDs and he'd play the requests. The choices were great and Haley was excited that she could play nearly all of them. Haley had chosen a set off Kevin's Up Close CD that she has been trying to learn from the CD. There's one small spot she has difficulty playing fast enough so she wanted to see how he does it, except that it was an older CD and he didn't remember the tunes. Haley was the only one who stumped him. LOL Kevin said, laughing, "That's why I hate you!"

He said he should have requested Paris Nights and had Haley join him like he had at Swannanoa and he'd practice her requested tune set so they could play it together next time he's in town.

We didn't get home until 11pm. Haley slept all the way home so I just carried her to bed. I noticed a pile of CDs on the kitchen table. Jim Albertson, a radio announcer and one of the kids' biggest fans (whose also gotten them quite a few gigs), had brought Haley a huge pile of CDs including Eileen Ivers, Natalie MacMaster, Leahy, Alisdair Frasier, Kevin Crawford (without Lunasa), April Verch, and Mark O' others. There's about 20 CDs in all. I peek through the pile then take out the pup and head to bed. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall, Jambalaya, and Pumpkin Bread...

We had a busy day yesterday. It was raining for the first time in a long time and I had to go to a work meeting. Haley hung out with Poppop for the morning then we did her schoolwork and practicing there while waiting for the boys to walk over from school to do their workouts.

I had a craving for Jambalaya today...haven't had it in the longest time but it just seemed like a good day for it and it's quick. I picked up the ingredients on my way home from work along with some yummy apples from a roadside stand which will soon go into a pie.


1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small sweet green peppper chopped
1 med stalk celery chopped
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves minced garlic

Heat oil in a large pan then add the rest and cook until soft.
1lb. can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp red pepper
1/8 tsp each cloves, allspice, and cayenne pepper

Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 min. Add:
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
1 cup cooked hot sausage
2 cups cooked rice
1/2 lb. small shrimp

Cook until shrimp turn pink. (about 5 min)
I used a jalapeno sausage made at the local butcher shop so didn't put in any spices and doubled the recipe but served it over the rice instead of putting the rice in. I also left out the cloves. It was delicious!

Haley has been asking for pumpkin bread since the weather has gotten cooler and pumpkins are out for sale everywhere. She was really excited that Daddy brought home 3 for our front steps to decorate.

Here's our Pumpkin Bread recipe...

Mix well:

16 oz. canned pumpkin
1 2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup oil
2 tsp. vanilla
4 large eggs


3 cups flour (used 1 cup white and 2 cups wheat)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts (can add raisins if desired but we didn't desire)

Back in 2 loaf pans (about 8X4X2) for an hour.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Bethlehem Celtic Classic

Yesterday was a beautiful fall day. The weather was overcast and threatened rain but it was cool and the fall foliage made the drive to Bethlehem, PA very pleasant. The Bethlehem Celtic Classic was a huge festival celebrating Celtic heritage and was very well attended. There were venders galore, bands playing, piping band competitions, Scottish highland games, a haggis eating contest, and our reason for attending, a fiddle competition.

Haley competed in the under 12 novice fiddle competition and Dylan accompanied her. Their friend, Alex, also competed. There was a man accompanying most of the other kids, 8 in total. Haley and Dylan did a great job. Dylan is an amazing backer and Haley is such a natural in front of a crowd. She fiddled her heart out and flirted with the crowd. The crowd loved her and a few people gave her a standing ovation when she finished which I thought a bit strange at a competition. Haley took 1st and her friend, Alex, took 3rd. He played very well, too.

We had planned to stay and listen to some other bands for the day but Haley had been fighting a bad cold all week and had a headache after her medication wore off during the competition so we headed home right after lunch. We did get to see the kids' cousin, Jessica, who lives in the area. She came for the competition and joined us for lunch.
I'll post some video as soon as Grammy and Poppop give me the DVD.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our last full day at home until close to Christmas??

This may be my last full weekend day at home until close to Christmas. Haley auditioned for and was accepted into two different orchestras. One meets for 2 hours every Friday night and the other, for an hour every Saturday afternoon...right in the middle of the afternoon. Both begin rehearsals next weekend. Add to that every other Sunday trips for fiddle lessons in NY and church on the alternate Sundays. That does not include our regularly scheduled activities...workouts at Poppops for the boys 3 days a week, wrestling practice 2 nights a week for Newt, violin lessons twice a week for Haley, and once a week music lessons for Dylan and Newt. I am nearly exhausted thinking about it but...if I don't think too much and just go with the flow, I'll get lots of reading time in waiting for practices and some alone time with my kids in the car.

Anyway, I was determined to enjoy today, not go anywhere, and get everything done that could get done. My list included finishing up the housecleaning, practicing with Haley, baking sticky buns, and bathing the dog.

The last item did not take much time because our dog is very small (about 5lb) and nearly fur-less so not so difficult to bathe. I got a head start on the housecleaning yesterday so knocked that out including windows (Ha!) in a couple hours. Haley did a great job focusing during practice and we spent quite a bit of time sightreading duets (me on piano and her on violin) which we both enjoyed, particularly if they go well then it seems like a great accomplishment.

I got the sticky buns started with a lot of help from Dylan and Haley then a package came with new books from Amazon. One I can't wait to read "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest." I just finished the other two in that series and loved them. I liked the first so much I watched "The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo" movie with's in Swedish?? I think. The other book was recommended on a homeschool board I frequent and is called, "Out of My Mind" by Sharon Draper. I intend to read that one with Haley and if we like it, pass it on to Dylan. It is about a girl with cerebral palsy who has a photographic memory and is very intelligent but unable to communicate with anyone. Working with developmentally delayed children, that has always been something I've thought about so the book peaked my interest.

So I was dying to sit and begin reading by myself but Dylan had a friend over and Haley was wishing she did so she and I did some history reading together then finished up our buns. We made some dinner and afterward we listened to Manus McGuire's CD Fiddlewings mainly for the Scottish slow air Haley is performing in a competition at a festival tomorrow. She learned it from the CD a month or so ago. We ended up listening to other tunes and dancing around the kitchen together for awhile then headed out for our nightly trampoline bounce.

All in all a good last day at home! I am rejuvenated and ready for the Bethlehem Celtic Classic tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


The past few years have been very busy so I haven't had the time to do the cooking I enjoy. Haley and I have planned to try a new recipe or dig up old recipes we've had before but haven't made it into our regular meals.

Tonight we are resurrecting an old favorite that can also be used as an appetizer...

Honeyed Chicken Teriyaki

2lbs. boneless chicken breasts cut into 1-2 inch cubes
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 eggs, beaten
Oil for frying

Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Dip chicken pieces in egg then dredge in seasoned flour. Cook chicken in 1/2 inch oil over med high heat half at a time until brown. Drain on paper towels.

Heat in a small pan:
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1 Tbsp dried sherry
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp ground ginger

Dip cooked chicken pieces in glaze mixture then place on a rack in a baking pan. Bake at 250 degrees for 20 minutes brushing again with glaze halfway through cooking time.

Historic Cold Spring Village Folk Festival

The kids were scheduled to play at the Folk Festival back in July but the event was rescheduled due to 100-plus degree days.

This weekend the weather was absolutely perfect for a fall day. The Towheads played two sets on Saturday and a set on Sunday. They did a great job and Newt debuted his singing skills with Galway Girl. The kids drew a nice sized crowd, sold some CDs, and had a fun day. Between sets we checked out the historic buildings and activities like pottery, woodworking, broom-making, iron forging, and spinning wool. We also had ice cream and listened to the other performers play. Haley made friends with Molly, an 8 year old whose grandfather played in one of the bands.
The buildings and activities melded perfectly with Haley's current history unit on colonial times. It was a great way to spend a weekend.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Day in Our Lives...

Our days rarely follow a normal pattern. Many days Haley has lessons so homeschooling is done on the run. This is what a day looks like when we get to stay home all day.

I woke up early to get the boys breakfast before sending them off to school. Haley followed me up not long after. It's rare that she sleeps past 7am.

Daddy stayed home to paint the garage...yeah! finally he worked on my house instead of someone else's...and it looks great btw. Haley and I had the day at home for school. We started the morning with cups of a delicious, new Chai tea blend we had purchased in NY the other day then Haley ate breakfast while I took a shower and woke up.

Haley came into the bathroom while I was dressing to inform me that she had done her violin review. She loves to surprise me! She has a list with columns for each day of the week then all the Suzuki pieces from Books 1-7 written out in order so that each day she plays a sampling from each book and in a week all pieces are played once. She's not to Book 7 yet so when a piece gets polished and her violin teacher doesn't want to hear it any more, we include it in the review list. Current pieces are practiced later in the day.

Our first subject of the day was writing. I am helping to test out a new 5th grade writing program called Writing with Ease and just recieved the first few lessons in the mail so we began it by reading a passage for Haley to summarize. I wrote out her math for the next few days while she completed her assignment. She just started Saxon 76 which is in textbook format so, since she is still young, I write out the problems from the exercises for her except word problems where knowing what to write is important.

We had to take a short trip to town to get the ingredients needed for dinner...Chicken Chili (recipe at end of this post) and I was going to pick up prescriptions. They weren't ready not even called in so I left feeling a bit aggravated since that was the main reason for my trip.

We arrived home a short time later and began what we like to call Haley's "Suzuki practice" which now includes 2 octave scales in a circle of 5ths, 3 octave scales also in a circle of 5ths but 3 a day rather than the entire circle, reading through a few short sight reading pieces from various books many of which include 2 parts so I generally play piano for one part while Haley plays the other part, Wohfarht music reading study of the week, exercises from a book for shifting, then work on new pieces which are pieces in various stages of the working process. This week she has 3 pieces she's polishing up and some double stops for another as a preview for a future piece. She and her teacher are finishing up some lose ends since this summer was a bit disjointed. All in all, her "Suzuki practice" takes about 1.5 hours with an occassional hug break here and there.

After practice is lunch. Haley gets to read or watch a little TV while she eats. On this day, I had to download her video from her fiddle lesson in NY on Wednesday and while she eats, I go through it marking the items she needs to practice and deleting extraneous footage so she can practice efficiently the next couple weeks to prepare for the next lesson.

Following lunch, I set Haley up on the computer to do PLATO Life Science. When I purchased this through, I got a cheaper rate by agreeing to use it in a certain time slot. Our slot is 11-1:45pm. It has worked out well so far and she's been doing it since the beginning of August. Haley completes an entire lesson including the post-test and we place the post-test printout in her schedule folder.

We had a short break on the trampoline...Haley likes to call this "gym." Ha! Then we worked through her math and read some history. We are doing US Colonial History so we read a story about Jamestown settlement and some selections from a neat book called "We Were There, Too" which tells the true stories of young people present at various times in history often from their own writings or the writings of people around them. Yesterday was the story of Pocahontas and two other young boys in Jamestown.

Haley sat to do her "Brian practice." We've found the best way for her to practice her fiddling is for me to take video of her lessons with Brian, download them to the computer, label them, then let her practice with the videos. I tried writing the bowings on the music but it was difficult to keep up. With the video, she can watch how to bow her tunes and she can do it on her own. Occassionally, I will check what she's playing before a lesson to see if she made necessary changes but she does really well on her own. Yesterday, however, the electric went out while she was practicing...this seems to happen way too regularly here.

The boys got home from school then the kids played through one of the sets they are performing this weekend at Cold Spring Village's Folk Festival. I made dinner, we ate, then the kids all played outside on bikes, pogo sticks, and scooters and I got a few minutes to read my latest book. Later, Haley and I hung out with Grammy and Poppop while Newt walked across the street to see the high school football game.

White Chicken Chili Recipe

2lb boneless skinless chicken breast in pieces
1 med. onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced

Brown chicken in a pan with garlic and onion then add:
2 cans chicken broth
3 cans cannellini beans
4 small cans chopped green chilis
2 tsp each oregano, cumin, and salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Bring to a boil then lower heat. Cook uncovered for at least an hour on low.

Add: 16 oz. sour cream and 1 cup heavy cream.
Heat to warm then serve over rice.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Haley has been using PLATO Learning Biology. This week's lesson was on the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. We decided to make models of the two different types of cells out of clay. Here are the results.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Auditions and Irish Music

This weekend, Haley had two auditions for different orchestras. At the PRYSM audition, they took her into a room upstairs from where the parents wait so I couldn't hear anything. She said they only listened to her play scales and a very small part of her selected piece.For the Temple audition, I was able to stand outside the room so I heard her play about 2 pages of the Vivaldi in G Minor and the first bit of Allegro by Fiocco.

We had worked all week on Allegro by Fiocco and Tempo di Minuetto by Kreisler because her teacher promised she could play those pieces for her audition rather than the Vivaldi G Minor Concerto, a piece she claims to dislike but had polished for her solo and masterclass with David Kim for Ogontz because her teacher wanted her to. It was a deal between them. Friday, at her violin lesson just hours before her 1st audition, her teacher suggested the Vivaldi. Haley played it and we decided it was her most polished piece. Even Haley decided she was more comfortable with it than the Kreisler.

After the audition Saturday morning, we went to the Philadelphia Ceili Group Festival at the Irish Center. Haley took a fiddle class with Liz Carroll, then played a couple tunes for Liz after the class.
Liz: "Do you like fiddling?"
Haley: "Yes."
Liz: "I can see why you like it when you can play like that!"

Haley joined the Next Gen kids during the dinner hour, where they each were allowed to do a solo if they wanted. Haley played a lively Mason's Apron...her current favorite. Afterward, we hung out and watched a wonderful concert including Liz Carroll and Daithi Sproule.

Friday, September 10, 2010

New School Year

Dylan's first day of school...ever! He was up early and very excited!

Newt's first day of high school. He woke up asking, "Where did my childhood go?" Funny thing is...I was asking the same question. Hmmmm.

Haley started doing Hands on Equations. She loves it and learned how to use the manipulatives very quickly. After a couple minutes she was solving equations like...X + 4= 2X + 3

We continued with our United States History studies. Our next subject is Colonial times using the resources above. Haley is really liking Hands On History- Colonial Times. We also started Hands On History Composers. Fun! Haley likes listening to the music selections and drawing how they make her feel.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ogontz 2010

Haley and I love Ogontz Suzuki Institute! The setting is idyllic, the people are friendly and nurturing, the teachers are fun and talented, the activities for the kids are well planned, Susan's stories are funny, and the food is very good. I don't even mind the spiders so much as long as they stay out of my bed...still wondering how long we were sleeping with that big spider I found under our mattress pad when we cleaned up the bed??!!

Haley had her 1st quartet experience, played 1st violin, and they did a great job together. She was in group class, orchestra, and theater class with the very tall people. She didn't seem to mind or notice. Her friend Natalie was in many of her classes with her so they had a great time together. She performed the 1st movement of Vivaldi's G Minor Concerto for her solo concert and gave a very Haley-like performance. She also performed it for a masterclass for David Kim, concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra and father of her very good friend. She got to practice with Robyn, her favorite teen violinist, which may have been the highlight of her week.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Fleadh Cheoil 2010

We spent a week in Ireland so Haley could compete in the All Ireland competition in Cavan, Co.Cavan, Ireland. Many thanks to friends and acquaintances who assisted in fundraising making our trip possible. The generosity of those in the Irish community and our local community was amazing and wonderful! We were able to spend two days in Dublin touring all the attractions and Haley played in sessions both evenings, one very touristy and the other a real Irish session.Since Haley plays Sligo style fiddle she wanted to be able to say she had actually been there. While in Sligo we saw the Atlantic Ocean from the other side of the world and visited a beautiful fishing town called Mullaghmore. We appreciated the scenic views much more than the city.
Cavan was very crowded. There was music and festivities everywhere. We saw Beoga in concert...wonderful! Haley played in sessions in a couple pubs, once with the girls from the young band Nic Gavinsky. She busked for a few minutes one afternoon, played on the Gig Rig with her friends Patricia, Jayne, and Bram, and enjoyed some time playing with the grandchildren of the couple we were staying with.
Haley played amazingly during the competition. The crowd went wild when she finished. She knew she played well so was very happy. She didn't place. Who knows why. Maybe another year when she's a little older and bigger...has a bigger fiddle. She certainly made a name for herself this year both in the competition and while playing around town.