Monday, September 26, 2011

Bethlehem Celtic Fest 2011

Haley receiving her medal.
Friday night Haley, Dylan, and I drove to Bethlehem for the Celtic Classic. It was pouring rain all day and we had looked forward to having dinner then going to see some of the Friday night acts but due to the downpours, we decided to eat dinner then go back to our hotel. The kids played some music together and we went to bed early.

Saturday morning the rain was gone though the skies remained cloudy. Haley with Dylan to accompany her, won 1st in the 12 and under fiddle competition at the festival. Her good friend, Alex, took 2nd.

Thanks to Alex's mom, I have this one photo. I packed my camera but left the battery at home in the charger. Duh!

After the competition we walked into town to have lunch with Alex and family. Bethlehem is a really cute, historic town and even in town there were acts performing on the street including an old time brass band in front of the big hotel.

We went back to the festival after lunch to enjoy the different acts performing. We enjoyed a number of performances of bands whose members we knew like Burning Bridget Cleary and Girsa. We walked around to see the wares of the vendors. The festival is huge with a parade, fiddle and dance competitions, Highland games, vendors galore, and 5 venues with performers.

One of the perks of winning the fiddle competition was that the judge, the fiddler for the band Glengarry Bhoys, invited the 1st place winners of the two age groups to perform a set with his band at the 8pm performance. We arrived back to the stage a little early but there was not a seat available in the venue (a huge tent!). Haley, Cameron (the winner in the under 18 age group), and Darcy worked out a set and then we watched the performance from the back of the stage.

The Glengarry Bhoys are very energetic and the crowd loved them. They called the kids on stage and the crowd clapped along to Haley's jig then gave her a standing ovation. Cameron played his tune then the band joined in and Darcy motioned to Haley to join them. She had never heard the tune before Cameron played it but she picked it up and played along. (Then played it all morning on Sunday and came up with a set around it because she really liked it.)

Here are some pics...thanks to the Celtic Classic photographers.

Haley's friend John Whelan and his band were playing after the Glengarry Bhoys. When he arrived he picked Haley up in his big bear hug, spun her around, and danced with her then asked her to stay and play with him. He kept the crowd pumped by climbing about 2 stories up to the top of the speaker stand with his accordion and playing, running out into the crowd and playing on a chair then playing up on the sound platform with the sound guys dancing along. Haley joined him for his finale reel set.

It was a late night but a lot of fun! Hopefully Cameron's dad will send me a DVD of the performance! We hadn't planned on staying so late because we didn't know Haley would be on stage so I hadn't taken my video camera. Ugh!

A Fourth Grader and a Fairy House

 I love homeschooling my 9 year old. She loves to learn. She works hard on her own and is old enough that she is able to do more of her work independently. I no longer need to sit next to her while she does computer learning to help her input information. She only occasionally needs me to help with technical issues. I can give her a list of work that needs to be done on Thursdays when I work and know it will be done, along with all her practicing, when I get home.

She is absolutely a delightful child and we are having so much fun together. (I know the preteen years are close so I am fully enjoying this time with her.) We have been walking together while Dylan practices football at night. There is a 1.25 mile path around the fields and park so we walk it twice then get done in time to see the last half of Dylan's practice and finish up any schoolwork or reading we need to do. The other day, we noticed lots of cool things while walking so took a bag through the wooded area and picked up bits of bark, pinecones, and moss. We decided to create a "fairy house" as an art project. Haley added on some old yarn and bits of ribbon left over from making her headbands.

Here's the finished project....

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Headband Craft

Haley and Maddie in their dresses from Ireland.
Last week when we took Haley's little cousin, Maddie, to our favorite boutique, Haley purchased some cute flower hair clips. Unfortunately her hair is very silky and most everything falls out which leaves her with headbands as about the only option.

We decided to try to make some ribboned (is that a word?) headbands to slip the flower clips into so they would stay in her hair.

I stopped at the craft store and found headbands and some pretty ribbon along with permanent fabric glue. We decided to make them today by wrapping the ribbon around the headbands and tacking it with the glue. Her flower clips easily slide into a fold of the ribbons.

Here are the finished products....

We had an extra headband so Haley remembered these little treble clef appliques her violin teacher had given her so we glued those on. Cute!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Car schooling...or otherwise entitled Supermom! Ha!

Butterfly exibit this weekend at festival.
A day in the life....

Today was just one of those days. I was up early 5:30am and couldn't fall back to sleep after Ritch left at 6am so decided to get an early start. I made sandwiches and packed the boys lunch, gave the dog an oatmeal bath (she has been suffering from allergies that steriods keep just under control and the bath helps cool down her skin when she looks red), then checked email while waiting for the boys to get up.

Newt got up and off to school then Dylan. Newt sent me a text message from school saying that his friend was not going to make it to "core" (wrestling workout) so I would have to take him. Ugh!  Haley got up after sleeping in a bit until 8am and I gave her breakfast then jumped into the shower. Haley got in as I got out and we both dressed then headed out the door for my yearly gyn appt. (lovely) She read "Peter Pan" on the way and while in the office.

From there we got gas, stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things for the boys' lunches for the rest of the week, then headed home. I unloaded the groceries and started some beef browning for chili while Haley started playing scales. She brought her music stand in the kitchen so I could watch/listen to scales, Kreutzer exercises, and fiddle practice while I finished putting the chili together in the crock pot.

By the time I finished cleaning up the kitchen and packed a bag of schoolwork for later, Haley had finished those parts of her violin practice and put on a Liz Carrol CD to dance around the kitchen for 10 minutes before I logged her onto PLATO so she could finish up the week's Earth Science lesson and tests.

She finished about an hour later and I gave her a quick lunch before we headed out the door again for her practice with Madi (the young violinist/Juilliard grad) who works with Haley once a week, usually on orchestra material but at this time with no orchestra material to learn, just supplements her regular lessons. Haley likes working with her and I like that she always reinforces the same things Haley's regular teacher is having her work on but sometimes approaches it in a slightly different way.

We went straight from practice to pick Newt up after school and take him to "core." Haley and I waited in the car and did her math, Wordly Wise, and read two chapters in Story of US (Book 3) which Haley outlined and made a timeline for the French and Indian War to put in her history notebook.

Newt finished up, we drove home, ate some chili for dinner, then 30 min. later were back out the door for Dylan's football practice. Haley and I took her violin to a quiet spot out of the way and she practiced for another hour (mostly classical pieces but also a bit of fun fiddling) then she sat and drew while I watched the last half of Dylan's practice. As it got darker, we watched 3 bats flying around the field eating insects. Haley and I talked about bats and she looked up some images of bats when we got home because she was very interested in what they really look like up close.

Once home, I cleaned up the kitchen, ate some of the fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, and balsamic vinegar Ritch had put together, cleaned up the kitchen, then made pina coladas (virgin, of course) for everyone...I have been craving them.

I helped Dylan finish him homework, typed up this blog post, and am off to stretch the boys because they are trying to become more flexible and what better way than to have your physical terrorist...oops! I mean therapist mother stretch you every night. After that it is off to bed. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more relaxed.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Hawaiian Chicken

Haven't made this recipe in awhile but have been craving anything with pineapple in it so went searching for this...reminds me of the Polynesian Luau in Disney World.

Hawaiian Chicken
Coat 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts in flour, brown in a pan with a light layer of oil. Remove from pan and place in a 9x13 dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

1-1lb 4oz can sliced pineapple
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
3/4 cup cidar vinegar
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ginger
1 chicken bouillon cube

Drain pineapple into a 2 cup measuring cup and add water to make 1 1/4 cup. Add to saucepan with other ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for 2 min. Pour over chicken. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 min. Add pineapple slices and green pepper. Bake 30 min. more until tender. Serve over white rice.


Weekend of Festivals...

Morning session
 I love fall. I love all the festivals and fairs held this time of year. Saturday Dylan had his first football game ever. Daddy forgot to take the camera so unfortunately we have no pictures. He did well for his first time playing and had a lot of fun.

Haley and I missed the game because we attended the Philadelphia Ceili Group festival. We arrived a little early, not knowing how long it would take to get there or if any of the roads we needed to take might still be flooded and closed. The morning session was still going on when we arrived and Haley got to join them for a few tunes.

After the session, Haley's fiddle teacher, Brian, gave a fiddle workshop that was well attended. They learned a couple jigs. Haley had a lesson after the workshop (saving us a drive to NY next week).
Next Gen Kids

 We got downstairs just in time for her to join the Next Generation Kids for their performance. These kids get together once a month to learn a tune, have a snack while socializing, then sit and play session style for the last hour. Kathy, Dennis, and Chris, the adults leading the group, donate their time so this can be free for the kids. It is a great program!
 We ate a quick dinner after the Next Gen performance then went to see the nighttime concert. Runa opened the concert. They were a dynamic group with interesting arrangements of Celtic music. The singer was very good and we liked the different percussion set-up.

The headliners for the night were the men of Pride of NY (they were missing their female whistle player, Joannie). Haley and I have seen them perform numerous times and always enjoy their playing. Haley loves to hear her teacher, Brian, perform. At the end of their performance, they invited Runa, Haley and Alex up on stage with them for a couple sets.

Brian Conway, Haley and Alex

Sunday, September 04, 2011

New Notes...

Haley had her first lesson of the "new" year on Friday. After about a month without lessons but lots of great practicing even while playing hours and hours of Irish music in Ireland, she was happy to be able to put Kreisler's "Sicilienne and Rigaudon" onto her review list and get the go ahead to learn some new notes.

This piece is "heaven" to Haley. Lots of notes played really, really fast. To me, it looks like a Kreutzer exercise and that is probably her teacher's motivation for giving it to her but it is new, fast notes and nothing motivates my kid more than that. She will be practicing it by copying pages 1 and 4 then placing two music stands side by side loaded with music until it is memorized.

To top it off, she got 3 new tunes from her fiddle teacher, "Big John McNeal's," she'd been messing with from a Cape Breton player's CD. He gave her the Irish (Sean Maguire) version along with a tricky little tune to follow then another easy tune to go with her "Dr. Gilberts."

What a fun practice week she is going to have!

Irish Coddle Recipe

We ate this dish while in Ireland and I tried to replicate it at home. I think mine tastes better than what we had in Ireland. This is definitely comfort food and perfect for a rainy, cool fall day but do not eat if you are on a diet. Ha!

I didn't measure anything so you'll have to go by looks. I used enough potatoes so my Dutch oven was full when everything was added and I had a good mixture of the other ingredients.

Irish Coddle
Cook 1/2lb. bacon. Drain pan of all but a little grease then brown 2 large onions chopped in large pieces and 2 cloves garlic sliced thin. Remove to a bowl.

Take 6 sausages (I found Irish Garlic sausage that worked great but mild Italian would also work) and brown in same pan. Remove from pan and slice into large pieces (1/2 inch?).

While sausages are browning, slice up 6-9 potatoes in thick slices. (I did it with skins on but you can peel if you want.) Also slice up 3-4 large carrots.

In an oven safe Dutch oven (I used a cast iron one I take camping), spray with cooking spray then layer half sliced potatoes, carrots, onion/garlic mixture, and meats then add second half. Pour a container of vegetable stock over (about 2 cans). Add lid and cook for a few hours (2-3) on 325 degrees. Once cooked I added some fresh ground pepper, to taste, and chopped fresh parsley. Serve in bowls!

Friday, September 02, 2011

First Week Back...

After coming home from Ireland, I had planned to take the last two weeks of the summer and get cleaned up and organized. Summer was really crazy for us with music camp, fundraisers for Ireland, then the trip itself so I had quite a few things that I had planned to get done but didn't. I spent the first week getting organized and cleaning house...a couple days stuck at home due to a hurricane was a big help. Then Haley asked to start school on Monday.

Her brothers were still home and I had yet to get their needed school supplies and some new jeans that fit (they seriously need to stop growing so quickly...Ha!). Plus my sister-in-law and niece are only here for another week so we want to spend as much time as possible with them. So, I knew it wouldn't be the relaxing, Mommy and Haley at home learning kind of week, I had planned for our first week of school but I got out the books and we started anyway. Who am I to stand in the way of a child asking to learn?

Most of the schooling was done in the car during the 2 hours we spent each night watching Dylan practice football but, hey, it was learning. I changed my mind on a few things I had planned back in the summer.

For one, I cannot find Best Poems and think I must have put it back in the basement with the books I returned to bins so that is going to wait for a few months since I also had purchased the Michael Clay Thompson reading program and Haley was keen to start reading Alice in Wonderland.

The other change is math. She really does not like Saxon 76 and seems to dread it. I had her take the Pre-test for Art of Problem Solving Pre-Algebra and she did very well on it so she is going to give that a try along with the Thinkwell Pre-Alg program she has already been dabbling in. We'll see how that goes.

Our week went well. We did a variety of subjects and a few projects. Haley is really liking Mapping the World with Art by Ellen McHenry. She did the Babylonian Clay Tablet project all on her own (see above photos). She did a great job and they tasted good but were about the consistency of an actual clay tablet...think need to dip in milk.

Haley is going to have her classical violin lessons once a week this fall and will start back today. She is looking forward to learning some new notes after a month without lessons.

The boys start back to school on Tuesday. We will take the long weekend to spend time with visiting family who will be leaving us late next week, have a fiddle lesson, and enjoy the weekend then it is back to routine for us.