Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Practice Marathon...

A couple weeks ago Haley's orchestra had a Practice Marathon where the kids were to get sponsors then keep track of their practice for the week to help raise money for the orchestra. Haley practiced her usual, well a little less than her usual a couple days because it was a really busy week. She logged 17 hours of practice and won the prize for the most hours practiced.

She is looking forward to a different kind of practice marathon tomorrow. Once a week Haley practices with Madi, a wonderful violinist who graduated from Juilliard a couple years ago. Madi has been working with Haley for the past two years. She is young and Haley looks up to her. She always seems to work on the same things Haley's classical teacher thinks is important and she mostly helps Haley polish her orchestra music so she doesn't use regular lesson time for that.

Tomorrow will be their 2nd practice marathon. Haley will spend a few hours practicing at Madi's. Madi will give her bits of her piece to work on then leave her to practice those bits. Haley really enjoyed the 1st marathon around Christmas and has been asking and asking to have another.

Last week Haley started learning Praeludium and Allegro by Fritz Kreisler. This piece has been one of her favorites to listen to and she is really excited to be working on it. I haven't seen her this excited to work on a piece in awhile. She had asked her teacher when she can move up to a 3/4 size fiddle and her teacher gave her the choice of moving up a size and working on a slower piece or keeping her current fiddle and learning Praeludium. Guess what her choice was!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Every once in awhile Haley gets a chance to do really cool things like play with a great Irish band or join her teacher on stage or play somewhere neat with her brothers. Sometimes she gets to play with people she loves to listen to the CDs of at camps or on the streets of an Irish town at the Fleadh.

Sunday night Haley had one of those experiences that will leave an impression on her. Paraic's dad, Sean Keane (the original fiddler for The Chieftains who no longer tours with the group) and family were in NYC so he could play with the band for the final three concerts of their 50th Anniversary tour. Paraic asked us to come up to the city to meet him.

It was a crazy day. The kids played for a St. Patrick's Day party at the nursing home they have played for the past 3 years but after the gig, I drove Haley the two hours to NY. We braved the traffic and found the hotel. We met Paraic's lovely family and then Haley sat around in the hotel suite fiddling with Sean and Paraic while Paraic's brother, Darach, playing tin whistle. They played for awhile then we drove home.

Haley said it was one of the best nights of her life! She has been wanting to meet Sean Keane for years and listens to his music all the time on CD. It will be something she remembers forever. I got some video which I may post once I get it uploaded.

St. Patrick's Day Gig

 The kids had a gig scheduled on St. Patrick's Day months ago. That didn't stop them from getting a number of calls last week asking to book them...what are people thinking?

They played a coffee house for a small local radio station down near the shore. They had an Irish dinner of stew that was yummy and then did a performance. There weren't very many people but the seats were all filled so I guess they had the number of people they expected.

The kids did a great job with their performance. They had a friend of Dylan's sing with them. Tala has a beautiful voice and did a great job. Francesca also joined them to dance.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Haley has 2 more PLATO lessons for Earth and Space Science this year. Doing PLATO requires us to be home in the middle of the day because I purchased it through  and to get the reduced price I had to agree to use it between 11am and 1:45pm. So, that leaves us only 2 days a week on normal weeks to get it finished because we are only home all day 2 days a week. I am very happy we will be getting through the entire program this year.

I ordered a few experiment kits from TOPScience and others from Home Science Tools so we could have some fun learning about rocks and minerals to supplement PLATO. We also got Discovery Ed Streaming for a year...not quite sure how or where we'll fit that in but I am determined to use it.

Haley was very excited about receiving boxes of science stuff in the mail so this week we dug into one of the kits and started a few experiments. We have a rock garden growing on our kitchen windowsill...that I will photograph when finished so as not to ruin the surprise. Ha!

We also created some paper crystal formations and looked at different crystals with a magnifying glass to see if we could figure out which of the three shapes they resembled. Then we took our goggles, a hammer, and a geode in a bag to break it and see if it held any crystals...uh, NOT! (I have yet to find crystals in any of a number of geodes I have broken over the years.)

Down Jersey Celtic Festival 2012

 The kids played for their 2nd year at the Down Jersey Celtic Festival on Sunday. (Haley's 3rd year since she played without her brothers the first year.) Besides my kids and their dancing friend, Francesca, this year the show consisted of a local pipe and drum  band, wonderful harpers/multi-instrumentalists from Ireland Grainne and Billy, and a local dance school.

They played at the local community college which has a very nice theater, to a sold out crowd. I couldn't take pictures during the event though we did get a little video which is posted above...I tried to post it below but somehow it went to the top. (hmmmm) I did snap some shots during the sound check, though.
Sound Check.

Dylan camera would not focus on the kids and Francesca at the same time. Ugh!!

They love this wall at the theater.

They are all laughing because they are all sitting on Dylan's lap. LOL

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Haley's Kimmel Center "Debut" or Playing with the Chieftains Round 2

Friday night Haley was invited to perform at the Kimmel Center with the Chieftains....thank you, again, Paraic! The show was amazing. We arrived in time to see the sound check then hung out in the Green Room while the band ate. Haley's friend Sofia visited and came backstage with us for awhile until the house opened and she could take her seat. Haley and I watched the show from backstage. A local pipe and drum corp, The Emerald Pipers, also performed and were wonderful.

Haley played a solo tune during the grand finale of the show. She chose her new favorite tune, The High Level. Here is her performance...
She had so much fun! She said she couldn't see how many people were in the audience because it was so bright on stage and dark in the audience. She also joined them for their encore, An Droh. During the An Droh they turn on the house lights because dancers snake their way through the audience picking up audience members in the snake dance so she did see the crowd then.

Sofia and her mom spent the night which made the whole night and next day even more festive. The girls had a great time playing and giggling though I am not sure they slept all that much.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Award Ceremony

 Last night Paraic invited Haley and I to attend an event at the Union League where the Chieftains were presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Concert Hall of Ireland and The American Ireland Fund.

It was an amazing evening. Haley said she felt like she was on the Titanic...we'd recently seen the movie. The rooms at the Union League were so fancy with huge chandeliers and beautiful woodwork. We ate delicious hors d'oeuvres and little deserts. The awards presentation consisted of a few short speeches and short videos showing all the charities aided by the American Ireland Fund and information about the National Concert Hall of Ireland. Then the Chieftains performed a short set. We were sitting right in at one of the front tables so the dancers were right in front of us...they have so much energy! It was really neat to be so up close and personal for a performance like that.

After the concert Paraic took Haley back to another room where the band was and she got to say, "Hi" to them all again and have a few pictures taken. She will perform with them tonight at the Kimmel Center. She is so excited!

Chieftains performing.

Haley with Paddy Maloney and Paraic

Haley with Kevin Coneff and Paraic

Haley with Matt Malloy

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Slow Air...

Two years ago Haley placed 2nd in the slow air competition for under 12 Irish fiddle at the MidAtlantic Fleadh held in New York which qualified her to compete in slow airs at the All Ireland that year. After the competition, Haley told me she didn't want to compete in slow airs in Ireland so we gave her spot to her friend, Jayne, who then placed 2nd at the All Ireland in slow airs. Haley wouldn't have placed as well in Ireland because her fiddle was too small for a really good sound. Her reason for not wanting to play slow airs in Ireland was that she didn't like to play slow and she didn't want to have to sit and listen to all the other competitors...she was 7 years old at the time.

Last year Haley did not compete in slow airs at all and she did not even show any interest in learning new slow airs. This year she said she'd like to learn a slow air and try competing in that competition so for the past two weeks she's been working on a couple. She performed with her teacher on Sunday and he asked her to play one of the two she's learned. She really likes this air and was excited to learn it. She's heard her teacher playing it a number of times.

Friday, March 02, 2012


I have posted a number of times about Haley's creativity and her little box doll rooms. She found videos of a woman making tiny doll furniture and other things. So the past few days she has been making a huge mess of my, I mean making cute little doll things for her mini American Girl dolls.

Here are some samples of her work...

Doll bunk beds

Doll bathtub


Doll candy

Doll vacuum
Since these photos she has made a doll stove, doll dresser, sinks, food, and kitchen table and chairs. 

Sometimes I worry that I am not getting to art enough. It seems to be the subject we never find time for except for Mapping the World with Art. I guess I needn't worry because Haley seems to do art and crafts all the time on her own.


We're getting chickens!

My crafty husband has designed and built a chicken coop and it's almost finished...needs a little paint still. We are now searching the McMurray Hatchery catalog for the types of chickens we want...decisions, decisions. It looks like we are going to have to wait for an April hatching dates to get the chicks we want which may be best because the colder weather will be behind us by then.

Here are some pics of the coop in the process of being built and finished except for paint...