Monday, December 26, 2011

Catching Up and Christmas...

 I have been meaning to post for a week or two but just haven't found the time so I am going to catch up on all that has been going on with us.

Here is Haley with her good friend, Lily. We have Lily over to play about twice a month. Haley and Lily love to play together and make a horrible mess of the playroom in the basement. You can't really tell but Lily gave Haley eyeshadow for Christmas and this is a photo of them after they made up their faces.

For Christmas this year, Haley learned/relearned about 20 Christmas carols to play for various events. Her classical teacher asked her to play for a senior luncheon at her church and then she and Dylan also played Christmas set for our church's Christmas Eve Candlelight service which is one of our holiday traditions and one of the ones I enjoy the most. I love the way the church looks full of people singing Joy to the World in the glow of candlelight!

 This is Haley with her good friend and fellow Irish music enthusiast, Alex. They were attending a workshop given by Irish fiddler Oisin MacDiarmada and this is Haley thanking Alex for a beautiful and thoughtful Christmas gift. She had given him a friendship bracelet months ago at the Fleadh in Parsippany and a couple months later it broke so she gave him another. To thank Haley for the friendship bracelets, Alex picked her out a beautiful Pandora bracelet (he knew she liked his mother's Pandora bracelet) with a charm for friendship.
Oisin teaching at the workshop.

 Nothing is better at Christmas time than spending time with friends and listening to Irish music. On Friday night we attended a Christmas party hosted by a couple of Haley's "adult friends" who we know through Irish music. Many of those in attendance were musicians so the evening was full of music, both instrumental and singing. It was a lovely evening.

The hosting couple also asked for donations for the local food bank and animal shelter so the party served a number of purposes.

I really like this photo with Paraic through the harp.

 Christmas morning at our house. Lucky for us, our kids are getting older and sleep on Christmas morning. Tinks was actually the one who got me up around 7am because she had to go out. Haley was up soon after and we had to wake the boys. Ritch and I cooked breakfast which we ate as soon as Grammy and Poppop came over.

After breakfast we sat and opened presents. Dylan had already gotten his "big" gift...the bouzouki with a wonderful mic/pickup system. On the left is Newt with one of his "big" gifts. The other was a new pair of old wrestling shoes but he has already been wearing these. We are thinking if college and wrestling don't work out for Newt, he can always join the circus!

Haley's last gift was not under the tree. Instead there was a wrapped box containing a clue which sent her on a scavenger hunt. After following the clues, she ended up in the "man cave" out back and unwrapped a bike helmet with a clue to "Look Up!" Attached to the beams of the roof was this......

She is so glad she will not have to look like a muppet on a tiny bike pedaling 4X as much as her friends on bike rides in Central Park from now on.

After we were finished having fun at our house, we headed to Grammy and Poppop's. Here are a few pics of the kids unwrapping gifts...or waiting to unwrap gifts.

Newt waiting...

Dylan waiting.

Haley's surprise from Grammy and Poppop!

Oops! One more of Haley waiting.

Just to let you know how serious Haley is about her music...she even practiced on Christmas Day.  Not her usual hours of practice but she did do a run-through of her piece for her upcoming concert and worked to fix a couple spots. Ha!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wrestling season opener...

Yesterday, Newt took 1st at the Pine Barrens Tournament with his first 3 matches of the season. He pinned his first opponent and won the other matches 7-0 (I think, though the final match might have been 6-0). No one scored on him yesterday. It was a nice start to the season.

He did end up with a number of bumps and bruises...including a nice knot on the middle of his forehead that looked like he was growing a unicorn horn all day.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The New "Baby" In Our House....

Here it is...the bouzouki Dylan has been asking for for over a year. He saved and saved then we pitched in to help him get it in time for Christmas along with a really nice mic/pickup. It was relatively inexpensive as far as bouzouki's go but has a nice warm sound.

Dylan has figured out a couple different tunings and is picking out his tunes on it already. He and Daddy installed the pickup which required a bit of drilling into the body...ugh! that was a bit hairy. Can't wait to hear how it sounds at the next Towheads gig!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lazy Saturday...

We get so few days at home with no place to go that when they do occur, I love them and the chance to re-charge they provide. Haley and I were going to go to the Philly P*Ps Christmas concert today but were unable to get the discount tickets we had planned on so we ditched that plan.

Instead, Haley spent 2.5 hours this morning practicing everything she needed to practice so she could have her friend, Lily, over to play for the whole afternoon. Haley decided this week to change the piece she was working on polishing up for her teacher's winter concert from the Bartok Rumanian Dances to the Paganini Moto Perpetuo. She has been messing a bit with the Paganini since spring or summer but had very few lessons on it and had put it aside numerous times to work on other pieces in between. She had never finished the last page until her lesson yesterday when she told her teacher she'd rather work hard and play that for the concert. She has the first 3 pages memorized and learned so just has the final page to memorize which shouldn't be a problem and then she has to polish it all up. She likes to work under pressure. LOL

While Haley played with Lily this afternoon, I got some work done, vacuumed the house, did laundry, paid bills, and finished up the book I was reading...The Geography of Love...definitely a half box of tissues kinda book. Ritch and I made Hot Browns for dinner even roasting the turkey breasts. (click on Hot Brown for a link to the recipe)

The girls played upstairs and downstairs, inside and outside even joining the neighbor children for a game of Red Light, Green Light. Yes, it was rather warm today!

After dinner I killed zombies with my sons and am now lazing in front of the tv. Nice to get rejuvenated for another busy day, play practice for Haley, fiddle workshop with Oisin MacDiarmada, then a dinner date with my husband and some friends.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Christmas Traditions and, yes, another musical weekend...

 Three Christmases ago, when Haley was playing in the orchestra at Temple for the first time, we started going to the Ritz Carlton one Saturday between Thanksgiving and Christmas for a cup of their wonderful hot cocoa. This cocoa is made with 5 different types of chocolate and heavy cream topped with whipped cream and homemade marshmallows. Yum!

Last year, Haley's friends from orchestra, Mara and her mother joined us. This year, Haley isn't playing with the Temple orchestra but we were still looking forward to having our yearly cocoa so when Mara's mom emailed me a few weeks ago, I suggested getting together with them for our yearly tradition.

We started the day at One Liberty Place where a woman's orchestra including Haley's violin teacher was performing Christmas music in front of a huge Christmas tree. Then we met with Mara and her family after their orchestra rehearsal.

Here's a picture of the beautiful Christmas tree at the Ritz. There must have been a wedding going on there Saturday because there were lots of people really dressed up getting their pictures taken in front of that tree.

This is the best hot chocolate that I have ever had!

Here are the kids thoroughly enjoying their cocoa!

After our indulgence, Haley, Grammy, and I walked a couple blocks to  Fergie's Pub for the session there. Haley was excited that Gabe was leading the session and lots of her favorite Philly musicians were there playing...even Paraic showed up after work so she got to practice her strathspeys with him.

Sunday Haley and I went to NY for her fiddle lesson. She listened to CDs and played along most of the drive. After her lesson, she still hadn't had enough Irish music so we drove from NY to Philly for the Irish session at the Plough and the St*rs. It was a really lovely evening. The accordion player who leads the session's father and mother were there having dinner. His father plays in many of the sessions and ceilis we attend so it was no surprise when he came over to play but even his mother came over and played a few tunes on his accordion. Haley thought that was just the best.

Friday, December 02, 2011


I am hoping this is not an indication of how this year's wrestling season is going to go. Yesterday was the 4th practice of the season and already my son comes home with this lovely shiner and a chipped canine tooth from a knee in the face.

Did my son stop practice and ask for ice to limit the swelling? No, not my son...he kept right on practicing then lifted weights after practice. I had to force him to ice his face when I got home from work...Lovely!

I can't wait to see the colors it turns this week.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Irish Music Fun!

This weekend was a lot of Irish music fun. Saturday we cleaned house and got out the Christmas tree. It is up, still not decorated but the lights work and the angel is on top. In the late afternoon we collected Grammy and Dylan's friend, Katelyn, then headed to the city for the Irish session at Fergies Pub. Haley had gotten in touch with her friend, Paraic, and he joined her for some tunes. She was excited to show him the Chieftains tunes she learned this past week and play them with him.

I laughed when we walked into the pub and the waitress immediately brought over our drinks without even asking for an order...kinda funny that my 9yo is so well known at a pub, she doesn't need to place and order.

We couldn't stay for the whole session because we had to drive down the shore for the monthly Irish Ceili. The kids love going and learning the dances. It is a great group of people who are very welcoming to beginners and are always willing to dance with whoever needs a partner. The kids play music during the breaks or sing along with the two guys who enjoy performing a funny song. Haley talked one into singing the Unicorn song so she could do the hand-motions with him.

Sunday, Haley had a make-up violin lesson then we headed back into the city for the Irish session at Plough and the Stars. Haley's friends from NY, Jayne and Bram were visiting relatives in the area so they joined us at the pub as well as her friend Alexander. The kids had a lot of fun playing tunes together and with the other musicians.

The evening started with just a few musicians but the number of musicians grew as the night went on.

We stayed until the session ended at 9pm then headed home to bed. We had a full day of school and practice today...kinda nice after having a light week last week with the holiday.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Beautiful Fall Day in NYC...

 This weekend I drove Haley to NY for her fiddle lesson on Saturday then we stayed over and spent Sunday with her friend Sofia and family. We met and drove into the city to ride bikes in Central Park.

Parking was fun in a van with bike rack on back. We had to park half-way then remove the bikes from the rack and leave them on the sidewalk to get the van all the way into the spot.

The weather was perfect. The kids had so much fun riding their bikes around the path. There were a couple close calls with one particular young one who was not quite as competent with steering as the older kids.
This might have been the only picture I could capture of Alik without his tongue sticking out.
We stopped in Sheep Meadow for a picnic lunch. Alik enjoyed laying on the blanket to look at clouds, Anya enjoyed eating, and Haley and Sofia had fun climbing the large tree shading us.

What a cutie!!!

The big girls having a powwow.

Let's see...if Sofia jumps up and grabs the branch then Haley might be able to jump up and reach it.

With a little team work they both made it onto a branch.

Here are the girls! Ready to get back on those bikes.

A quick stop for some yummy ice-cream.

A post-icecream zombie. Grrrr! Gotta love those rocket pops!

Here's the Quidditch match we saw on our way back to the van. We, Muggles, had a hard time figuring out how they play but we enjoyed watching.

After our bike ride we stopped to check out an Irish session in a local pub. Haley and Sofia joined in for a couple tunes. We then got some pizza to eat and headed home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Video of Smithsonian event

Here's a clip of my Towheads performing at the opening of the Smithsonian Institution's New Harmonies exhibit at Wheaton Village....

Monday, November 14, 2011

Maryland Celtic Festival 2011

Yesterday, Grammy and Poppop drove Haley, Dylan, and I down to Maryland so we could attend the Maryland Celtic Festival. The festival is held at the Maryland State Fair grounds and has lots of musical performances, vendors, food, and crafts and activities for the kids. Haley and some of her fiddle playing friends took a fiddle workshop with Brian.

They then competed in the Maryland Fleadh instrument competitions. Dylan took 1st in the under 15 accompaniment competition accompanying Haley with his guitar. Haley took 1st in the under 12 solo fiddle competition. Their friend Alex took 1st in the under 15 solo fiddle.

Alex's father took these great photos....a big thank you to him for sending them to me!

Haley competing

Dylan competing with Haley playing melody for him.

Waiting to compete...too bad they aren't having any fun!!

Just a really nice pic of Dyl.

Smithsonian Institution Gig

The kids were asked to perform for the opening of the Smithsonian Institutions' New Harmonies traveling exhibit on Saturday night. We attended a reception then walked through the exhibit. The kids did a sound check then the concert started. The emcee for the evening was Down Jersey Jim Albertson. He told some jokes and played his dulcimer while he sang some songs. Also playing were Steve Burns who sang blues and played guitar and two other local bands, The Belaire Boys and The Snake Brothers playing Bluegrass style music. We enjoyed all the performances.

The kids performed after the intermission and played a great set. They were really on together Saturday night. They even received a standing ovation! (I hope to add a couple video clips in the next few days.)

Here are some photos of the kids enjoying the exhibit and performing...

Happy Halloween!!

My boys are now too old to go Trick or Treating with their mommy but Haley still enjoys it. We went back to our old neighborhood so she could go with friends...our new neighborhood is houses spread far apart all with long driveways.

Here's my little flapper...

Weekend in CT

Last weekend we got up very early in the morning and drove up to CT with a mom and two Irish music playing little girls around Haley's age, Emily and Livia, for a CCE Irish Music and Dance Weekend. We attended morning and afternoon fiddle workshops. Haley's friend Sofia who lives in CT also came to the morning workshop which was a lot of fun for Haley. She had a whole group of friends to play Irish music with.

After all the workshops...four hours of workshops, Haley took an hour fiddle lesson with her teacher, Brian. Then we got diner suggestions from John Whel*n and drove for dinner. It had to be a quick dinner because we had to get back for a concert that evening. We watched the teachers from all the instrumental workshops perform. They asked Haley and another of Brian's students to join them for the grand finale. Livia would've played as well but she and Emily were in a deep sleep by the middle of the 1st half of the concert.

Here are some pictures of the finale of the concert...

Thursday, November 10, 2011


A few weeks ago we did a bit of remodeling on the living room. My husband tore out the makeshift computer desk in the corner that we have hated since we moved in and painted the walls then we were able to move the furniture around creating more open space on the floor. Haley has spent a lot of her free time every day doing cartwheels in that free space and....uh, counting them. She not only does them at home but also did them at Dylan's football practices and in Grammy and Poppop's living room.

She keeps a running total of number of cartwheels done and yesterday hit 900 cartwheels...this is in almost 2 weeks! She is hoping to reach 1000 cartwheels. I am wondering what she'll do once she hits 1000. She was a little upset to know that her number cannot be verified and put in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Snow in October?!! and Kevin!

 I cannot remember ever having snow in October around these parts. At home there was just lots and lots of rain but as we drove closer to the city for music workshops, we began to see snow on cars and then snow on the road while sleet came down. Just as we approached the Irish Center, I got a call that the workshops were going to be cancelled due to Kevin and Cal's flight being held up in Atlanta (surprisingly not due to the snow but due to a computer problem on the aircraft. Hmmm.)

They were still expected for the concert later that evening. The kids were not wanting to miss that and I didn't want to have to drive more than necessary in the mess so we hung out at the Irish Center. The kids played some tunes, Haley practiced a bit, we talked to Terry Kane about music and learning Gaelic, and the bartender got us some food so we didn't have to go out.
Closer to concert time, Rosie came with her Red Riding Hood costume which Haley absconded with and she ran around as Red Riding Hood during Kevin and Cal's sound check.

Here they are playing their concert...Kevin Burke and Cal Scott. It was a wonderful concert. They played all Haley's favorites (except Stella's Waltz).

Dylan was excited by Kevin's shadow on the fireplace behind him and tried to capture it with a photo.

By the time the concert was over, there was about 2 inches of snow on our car and about 4 on the ground. Dylan brushed the car off while Paraic hid behind a bush and lobbed snowballs at him. Dylan threw a few Paraic's way but I don't think there was direct hit on either side. The drive home wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it might be. By the time we got out of the neighborhood where the Irish Center is located, the roads were just wet. So we made it home safely in good time.