Sunday, June 24, 2012


Ten years ago today, I became the mother of a beautiful baby girl! After having two wonderful boys, I wanted a girl more than anything in the world. I waited a few years before trying again because I had to want another baby, not just a baby girl and God blessed me with Haley. Even then, I didn't know just how truly blessed I was. I feel so lucky to have been given this amazing, talented, smart, child (actually three amazing kids).

Who would've know 10 years ago what kind of child she would be or what the world had in store for her? I can't believe all she has accomplished in her first decade! I can't even imagine what she will do in the next but we will certainly enjoy the ride!

She and I spent the day at Strings camp. She had a private lesson and all her other classes. Then we headed off to the Irish session at Plough. Her friend, Alex, and his family came to help celebrate and play some tunes. Tom had called ahead to get them to make her a cake and when they brought out a Haley-sized cupcake, everyone sang Happy Birthday to her. We left a little early and Dylan gave her the presents he bought her and the blueberry muffins he made for her. (Man, were they delicious!)

                   HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HALEY!!!!

Singing Caledonia with Rosie!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Catching Up Post #2

So far this month...

 The kids played a two day gig at Cold Spring Village near Cape May. The weather was perfect. The crowd was lively and the music was wonderful! They had their friend Tala singing for them and Francesca dancing with them. They all did a great job! The rest of the festival was fun. We love the different exhibits at the village. On Saturday, I took Haley and Dylan from Cape May to PA so they could play at a recital put on by a dance school. The owner of the school had heard Haley playing at the Shanachie when they were closing and asked the kids to come play sets between dance numbers to give her dancers a break. 

Dylan graduated from 8th grade! What a handsome young man he is!

Haley and I travelled to New York for a fiddle lesson and stayed for the Dunne's Pub session with special guest Joannie Madden. The pub was standing room only for most of the evening.

From New York, we travelled to Connecticut to spend a few days with Haley's friend Sofia and her family. The first night we had a dinner invitation from John Whelan. It happened to be his birthday so the girls helped him celebrate with some tunes.

We attended the homeschooling convention in CT. We had a good time and were able to attend a lecture given by Susan Wise Bauer of Well Trained Mind fame. (It was very good btw...she talked about literature analysis at different ages/stages of development.) The rest of the convention was okay. We picked up lots of literature and a few things in the hall. I think if I were newer to homeschooling the entire convention may have been more relevant for me. Back a few years ago before I found the curriculum I like, it would have been nice to be able to take a look at everything before I purchased it...might have saved some money that way.

We brought Sofia and her mom and sister back home to New Jersey with us so the girls could attend Philadelphia International Strings Camp. They stayed all this past week with us and commuted back and forth to camp. I will post more on strings camp after Haley finishes up there this next week. She's doing two weeks of camp. On Thursday night Haley had a gig with Paraic and the guys (Sean and Dave). It was the hottest day of the summer so far so we began the evening with some ice cream. Haley and the guys busked for a little while then we moved over to the pub for the gig.

Not the clearest picture but I like how much fun they are obviously having fiddlin'
We also attended a couple Philadelphia Orchestra concerts the past two days at the Academy of Music (their original home before the Kimmel Center was built). Both concerts celebrated Stokowski, the conductor of the orchestra in the early 1900's. Today's concert was music from Fantasia and while the orchestra played, they had a huge screen showing parts of the movie. It was a really fun concert! After the concert we met with the concertmaster, David Kim, who invited us backstage to meet the amazing new conductor of the orchestra, Yannick. Haley was so excited to meet him after watching him conduct the past two days.

Catching Up Post....

Buffy chillin'
 I have been so busy this month and haven't had any time to keep my blog updated with all that's going on around. I hope to catch up with myself in the next few days. First off, our chicks are growing. They have been enjoying free range of our large fenced in back yard for a few weeks now. I let them out of the coop when I get up every morning between 5:30-6:30am...yeah, I know I am up early. They roam the yard, dust bathe in the raised beds, and hide from the heat in the trees along the front fence. First thing in the morning, they follow me back up to the house and spend a bit of time looking in the sliding glass door or hanging out on the furniture. Around 8:30pm, they all head back into the coop.

Here are some funny pictures of the girls I took last week....

Checkin' out the patio.

Hey, whatcha got there?!

Cleo the Phoenix...still the smallest and prettiest chick.

Friday, June 08, 2012

New Fiddle

On Tuesday we went into the city to try new fiddles. Haley's violin teacher had said once she learned Praeludium, she could get a new fiddle and I was feeling that she needed as much time as possible to practice on a new fiddle before we go to Ireland. I know her violin teacher is not thrilled to be moving her up. Haley is getting too big for a 1/2 size but is still a little on the small side for the new 3/4 and her technically demanding pieces will be more difficult on the bigger violin. Her fiddle teacher, however, would have her moved up to a full size fiddle if there were any chance her fingers could stretch that far. (The one main difficulty we've encountered having two different teachers and playing two different styles of music...sigh!)

So, Tuesday we drove to the city, paid an exorbitant amount for parking (sorry had to throw that in there), and spent two hours trying and re-trying 10 different violins and about as many bows until we'd narrowed it down to three to bring home. To tell the truth, Haley had narrowed it down to her favorite already but I thought she should bring a couple more home just to be sure she still had the same favorite after playing them awhile. She played them for her classical teacher at her lesson on Tuesday...that we were almost late for and then played them for her fiddle teacher on Skype. Fortunately the consensus was that Haley's 1st choice was the best one for her so she is very happy.

We are going to try to go back today to return the others and get a different sort of chin rest on this one because she doesn't like the one on there now. The new fiddle sounds soooo big compared to her old one. It is going to take getting used to for me. I always come to know her sound and can pick her out in a group even when I can barely hear her so now I will have to get used to hearing her differently. She is going to continue working on Praeludium with the new violin for the next week or so until she goes to strings camp and it will be the piece she spends her time on at camp. After camp she'll begin some new pieces.

I'll post a picture or video of the new fiddle soon.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Another Busy Weekend...Part 2

We started Sunday by meeting with Haley's friend, Emily, for a picture of the two of them so we can make up flyers for their fundraiser for Ireland. Emily is a 2X Under 12 Harp Slow Air Champion and has also qualified the last couple years in the harp dance tune category. Our fundraiser plans are going really well. The pub where Haley performs on the occasional Sunday agreed to host the event. It is the perfect place with room for a band and dancing so we are really excited!

After the meeting at the park, we went to Haley's classical teacher's studio recital. We arrived early for a quick run-through of the Bach Double then listened to a wonderful concert. I am always impressed by these concerts because even smallest child playing Twinkles demonstrates concentration and focus on those things I know this teacher works on. It is also like visiting old friends hearing those Suzuki pieces Haley played not all that long ago.

The concert was long...2 hours and Haley went last, playing Praeludium and Allegro by Fritz Kreisler. The Grand Finale was a large group performance of Bach Double Violin Concerto 1st mvmt.  Haley led the 1st violins while her teacher led the 2nd violins. It was so neat hearing so many people playing that piece together. They did a great job!

After the concert Haley changed clothes then we hung out at the park for awhile before heading to the pub for her to "get the Irish" back into her. We ate dinner and she fiddled with Gabe off and on for a few hours in between his songs and "one man band" tunes. He has a loop machine so can play guitar melody, guitar accompaniment, percussion on his guitar, tin whistle, and sing all at the same time.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Another Busy Weekend...Part 1.

Okay...last weekend was not busy. We actually stayed home mostly except to go to Grammy and Poppop's for a Memorial Day swim...4 hours in the pool!

This weekend, however, must be split into a couple different blog posts. Mostly because I am trying to catch up on blog posts. I have kind of neglected my blog lately and who knows when I will get a chance to get to it again.

Friday night, Haley and Dylan were asked to perform at a Ceili (Irish dance for those who aren't regular blog readers here) for the LAOH, a wonderful group who helped us with our Ireland fundraising efforts last year. The kids' performance was a thank-you to them for their help. The usual ceili band players were there. It was pouring rain so the attendance was not as high as expected and some were late in arriving so they asked the kids to play a bit prior to the dancing and then again during the break. During the dancing, the kids either played with the band or danced. Haley knew many of the dances and Dylan even joined in on a few.

Haley with the ceili band

Haley and Dylan performing together

Look! They are dancing...together!

So, Friday night ceili then Saturday morning performance for the the 1st anniversary of the local farmer's market. It as a tough venue...lots of noise from passing cars and a tractor motor powered ice cream maker. The kids played together with Tala singing for them and Francesca dancing. They drew a nice sized crowd and did a great job together.


Thursday night we went to see some of the kids favorite Irish musicians. They have quite a few favorite Irish musicians but it's not every day we get to hear three of them playing together at the same time. We drove to DE to hear the Teetotalers, a newer group...formed last year at Swannanoa, consisting of Kevin Crawford, Martin Hayes, and John Doyle. John is Dylan's absolutely favorite guitarist.

Kevin, Martin, and John
 The concert was at a really wonderful venue. We arrived a little early. I wasn't sure how much traffic there would be at that time of day. The guys were eating dinner but John saw us and waved so we went over to say, "Hello." Our friends arrived a few minutes later. We sat with friends and ate dinner while listening to the concert. Lovely! Great music, good friends, and delicious food all at the same time. The music was great. John has an amazing voice and we love his rhythmic guitar playing. Kevin does amazing things with either the flute or tin whistle and Martin plays relaxed fiddle music until his solo then plays so crazy fast...he always gets a standing ovation.

Alex, Haley, and Keegan...they were the boys Haley played a trio with in the competition a couple weeks ago. Dylan's there, too, on the other side of Keegan but every picture I took of him ended up with a hidden face. He hates to have his picture taken. LOL

Our Girls Are Growing Up!

I am talking about our chicks, who are now more like chickens. They even cluck a bit except for the Phoenix who still "peep peeps." For the past week they have been free-ranging in our backyard. It is fenced and though two have made it over the fence, they tend to spend their time trying to get back in when they do.

The first day out they spent all their time around the coop and pen. The second day they ventured a little further to peck around under the trampoline. Each day after, they ventured further and further away until by Friday, they were all over the yard especially enjoying sitting under a pine tree and roosting in its branches. They come running when I walk out the back door. It is so cute to see them zooming across the yard.

Every night at around 8:45 as dusk is setting in, they head back into the coop. They fight over who gets to sit on the top roost nearest the window for about 15 minutes then settle down. I haven't figured out why they fight because the same four end up on that top roost every night anyway.

Here are some pics of the girls.


Cleo...she has the best tail!



Dot, Sprinkles, and Dodo (sorry, she's the picked on chick...they pull out her  head feathers)