Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Words of warning...or if your child wants to keep a bunny...

If your son finds a tiny baby rabbit in the yard while mowing, your husband will let him bring it inside rather than leaving it alone.

Once inside the house baby bunny is so cute and little and likes snuggling up with your puppy so you let the kids put it in a box filled with soft cloths and tell them they can put it back outside in the morning.

Once inside the box the bunny looks so little that your son does not think he needs to take precautions like putting a lid on the box and closing his bedroom door.

Since the lid is not on the box and the bedroom door is not closed, when you wake up in the morning and look into the box, you find it empty except for all those soft cloths.

Since the cloths are all that is in the box and the bedroom door is open and you have absolutely no idea how long said bunny has been wandering in the house, you have no idea where to even begin looking.

Since you have no idea where to start looking, you figure upstairs would be the likeliest choice so you grab a flashlight and begin tearing apart each upstairs bedroom looking under every piece of furniture and moving every item on the floor.

Because the baby bunny is nowhere to be found upstairs, you take you flashlight downstairs and start moving things around and looking under furniture there.

Looking under furniture, you just might find a tiny little bunny in the music/school room cuddled against a stuffed animal that was stuffed in a corner under a bookshelf.

Once you find the bunny and because it is still early in the morning, you send your son outside with the bunny and release it back into the wild where it belongs.

Practice partners...

For the past few days whenever Haley practices her "Melodious Double Stops" technique exercises, Tinks starts to howl. We think it's the cutest thing and have been trying to catch her on video but since Tinks is afraid of the video camera and runs when she sees it, I had to be really sneaky to catch her. We can't tell if she just really hates it or is trying to help with the music. Haley thinks it must be the first option because she doesn't like it very much either.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Dylan has a new interest in photography. I had purchased a small digital camera for myself for Christmas so I let him use my nice SLR digital camera. He has taken quite a few of the pictures on my blog recently.

I really like this one. The moon looked so neat a few nights ago...full, low, and orange with clouds covering it.

Easter 2011

We had a nice quiet family day for Easter. The whole family went to church...a rare event because we so rarely get Daddy into a church.

On the drive to church, as we passed a Catholic church close to our house, Dylan asked why we didn't just go to that church since it was closer. Haley's response, "It's a Catholic Church. You don't want to go there. You have to tell the priest everything you do wrong then he smites you."

It took me quite a while to stop laughing. I mean, who uses that word? I did explain to Haley about confession to clear up any misunderstanding she had.

After church Haley hunted Easter eggs at Poppop's house then we went home and Haley and Dylan decorated eggs. They made some really funny eggs!

I spent the rest of the afternoon cooking and listening to Haley practice while Dylan and Newt helped Daddy and Poppop in their respective gardens.

We had a steak dinner on the grill and homemade apple pie.  Not our usual Easter fare but it was a beautiful day and I hadn't had anything on the grill since early fall. Poppop ate with us then we spent the evening reading books and watching a movie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Palm Sunday Ceili

Haley helping out her buddy, Olivia with tuning.
Sunday we attended the Palm Sunday Ceili which is a fundraising event for a local urban scholarship fund. How's that for overgeneralization?

The kids' group Next Generation played during the intermission and Haley and Dylan had fun dancing and playing with friends the rest of the time. (All these photos are of Haley because Dylan requested that I not post any of the photos I took of him.) He made faces or hid his face during most of them anyway. (Ugh! Teenage boys!) Dylan brought along a female friend and introduced her to Irish music and dance. Haley had fun playing with her friends, Emily and Olivia, and also had her dance card filled. She has dancing buddies at every ceili.

Haley and friends playing. I should have fixed the evil eyes.

Haley, Emily, and Olivia.


Clap, clap!

Bet those adults loved having to duck under Haley and Ed's arms!

Spring Is Here!

The salad is coming up. (Salad bits are smaller than they appear.)

Strawberries are flowering.

Here come the potatoes. Pop!

Apple trees are in bloom!

Mommy blue bird keeping watch over her 3 eggs.

Tinks enjoying the sunny day!

Doesn't she look cute with a flower in her fur?

"Take a picture of me like this!"

Warm enough to do school outside! I love homeschooling!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

"Play" dates...

Fergies session...Dylan covering his face.
Haley may be 8yo but don't tell her that and don't tell her she's smaller than everyone else.

This is the child who, when at 5yo or 6yo fiddling with a group of adults at a session, never wanted to have a chair where her feet might reach the floor because "then everyone will know I am little." (Uh, what??!! Like they can't see that anyway??) Her feet are still swinging but if she sits on the edge of a chair and points her toes, they now reach the floor.

Haley has fun whether she is playing toys with friends or adults at an Irish session. It is all the same to her.

Yesterday, she wanted to go to an Irish session near her orchestra rehearsal but she really wanted one of her favorite fellow fiddlers, Paraic, to come. He only shows up at this session occasionally. It isn't a given that if we go he'll be there. So, she texted him to see if he could "come out and play with (her)."

He texted back a few minutes later saying he'd be there then came out in the pouring rain to play with Haley. I know I've said it before but I just love Irish musicians. They are some of the nicest people ever!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


I don't know what it is about warm weather that makes me have so much more energy. Haley and I were so happy it was almost 80 degrees yesterday. 

Last week, I started getting up early in the morning to run with my boys. I have to tell you that 5:45am comes very quickly when you are really tired but I make myself get up, go run, and feel better afterward. I am shooting for 3-4 days a week and need to build my endurance back up after a winter of no exercise.

We are back into our routine of Mondays and Tuesdays at home for the most part. We cram in a lot of schoolwork and a lot of practicing.

Schoolwork for yesterday included....
-two lessons in Saxon 78
-a lesson in PLATO Biology on Genetic Engineering complete with test
-pre-reading for a lesson in Best Short Stories with writing assignment
-reading two chapters in History of US (we are almost to the Revolutionary War after spending all year on Colonial Times...there is just so much cool stuff to do)
-started a project for Artists lapbook
-coloring in history coloring books
-reading for book club...currently "Out of My Mind"

Practicing included...
-Orchestra...They got two new pieces to learn for PRYSM. Not very difficult for the side-by-side with PRYSM-Young Artists. She worked on the new pieces and practiced half of her already learned pieces for both orchestras.

-Fiddling... She has two new tunes this week, a reel and a slipjig, plus part of the reel she is learning for All Ireland. She's heard all three tunes so can already play them (shhhh! don't tell Brian...he wants to teach her the Ireland reel himself) and is just working on bowings and phrasings. She went back and played some of her older tunes for review.

-classical music...scales and arpeggios, shifting exercises, double stop exercises and current pieces in progress. "Meditation from Thais" and Bach E Major Concerto. Thais is in practice mode and she is learning the Bach bit by bit trying to perfect each bit before moving on. She has a little over a page to learn in the Bach then the last couple pages are repeat of what she already knows.

We had Poppop over for a nice chicken cacciatore dinner. Delicious!

Then we took Newt to wrestling practice. Newt had a great weekend wrestling. He took 2nd in the MAWA regional tournament so will wrestle in the national tournament in three weeks. Haley and Dylan had a fun Sunday playing Irish music with Next Generation then spending the evening playing at Pl*ugh and the St*rs. I didn't think they'd ever want to leave. They played and had fun from 5-9pm and were still going strong. I finished an entire book while sitting listening to them.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Fleadh 2011

Meet the 3X MidAtlantic Regional Fleadh under 12 solo fiddle champion! Haley placed 1st for the 3rd year in a row. She gets to return this huge trophy to its spot on her shelf for another year. Her name will be the only one on it for the third time and she still has 3 more years in this age group.

She performed beautifully. Her teacher said, "Perfect!" She definitely blossoms under pressure.
 Here is her brother, Dylan, who placed 2nd in his first ever Fleadh in the under 15 Accompaniment competition. He plays guitar but was the only guitarist competing against mostly pianists and a couple harpers.

Both kids qualified for the All Ireland so we get to travel back to Cavan, Ireland for the Fleadh in August!

Haley played for Dylan in his competition and together they are magic. One of the judge's comments, besides the glowing comments about maturity of chord use, chord progressions, and rhythm, was his ability to get along with his fiddler. (He should come to our house and see how "well" they get along. LOL)

Haley was asked to play on the festival stage later in the afternoon before the presentation of trophies. As soon as Dylan came down from the hotel room, she called him up, introduced him to the crowd, and they played a couple sets together.

For the past few years, the competition has been held in a school with competitors staying in various area hotels. This year, the festival was held in a hotel which was much better and more festive. There were sessions and ceilis (dances). The kids swam together and played music well into the nights. It was wonderful to see all these kids who compete or have competed against each other making friends, playing music, and hanging out. Even if my kids didn't place, it would have been a great musical weekend.

Haley and Dylan on stage.
Playing session style with friends.

Friday night kids' session

Friday, April 01, 2011

The One Who Started It All...

This man is the reason my daughter is fiddling. When Haley was 4yo, we were in the library one day and I happened to notice a poster on the events board advertising a local concert with Kevin Burke and Cal Scott. I thought it would be nice to introduce Haley to a different kind of "violin" music and for her to hear live music.

We went to the concert and sat in the very front row. She was enthralled...sitting in rapt attention, tapping her feet, clapping her hands. At the intermission, we walked over to the table where there were CDs and a How to Play Celtic Fiddle DVD. She begged me to buy that DVD. The lady selling the items told her it was something for older people but I bought it anyway. We also bought a CD and we listened to it all the way home.

The next day, I put the DVD on, handed Haley her fiddle, and went to catch up on email. She came in a few minutes later playing a tune. The next day I did the same thing and she learned another tune.

A couple weeks later we were attending a Suzuki Institute and one day Haley and I were the first in the room for masterclass so she was fooling around with her fiddle tunes. A mother and daughter walked in and the little girl said she knew the tune so she and Haley began playing it together. The mother told me that her daughter's Suzuki teacher does fiddling with her group class once a month. That sparked the idea to find Haley a fiddle teacher.

When we got home, I found the local Irish society on the internet and someone gave me the name of a local fiddle happened to be the lady selling the CDs and DVDs that night at the concert. She wasn't sure about starting a child so young but after we met her and she heard Haley playing her Kevin Burke tunes, all her doubts were resolved and she taught Haley until about a year ago. She is also one of the leaders for the Next Generation kids Irish session so we still see her fairly regularly.

We attend every concert within driving distance if Kevin is playing...actually any live concert we are able to get to no matter who's playing. Haley learned every tune on his CDs and on youtube videos, she emails him now and then and we also attended a summer Celtic music camp so she could have workshops with him. This week he and his guitarist (also a songwriter/composer whose music I could listen to all day), Cal Scott, gave workshops Wednesday and a concert Thursday with a local string quartet so they could perform their Irish Session Suite. It was lovely to hear it much different than a CD.

At the workshop, Kevin told Haley he "hates" to have her in his workshops because she knows all his tunes and he always teaches something she knows already especially this time because there were a number of people there who'd never played Irish music and it had to be something fairly easy to grasp. At the end of the workshop when someone asked him to play something he had written he asked Haley to play Across the Black River with him and she was thrilled. 

Cal had only two adult guitarists and Dylan in his class. He said Dylan helped him teach the class and was very positive about the advances in Dylan's playing in the part year. He went to dinner with us and a couple other families and sat next to Dylan talking guitar. Haley had a blast playing with the other kids who will all be going to the Fleadh this weekend and are now fast friends.