Thursday, July 29, 2010

My music history and my little pirate

I play the piano, not very well, but I do. I play in Sacrament at church every few months, and I have to have the songs 3 months ahead so I can practice them so people can at least recognize the tune they are suppose to be singing. I started taking lessons when I was in kindergarten in our small town in Wyoming, and I hate to say this, but I absolutely hated my teacher. In my young mind she was the wicked witch. Now I know she was really a nice lady, and looking back as an adult I laugh, but my 6 year-old self seriously thought I was taking piano lessons from the wicked witch of the West, so when my family moved a few years later so my dad could attend grad school and our little tiny apartment had no room for a piano, I didn't complain. I was free from the witch. Then when my dad finished school, he got a job, we moved, and we got a new piano, so my mom convinced me to start taking lessons again. I took from the nicest old man in the world. He was great. I have very positive memories of that, but he was pretty old, and after a few years he retired, so I had to find a new teacher. I did, and she was great. I took from her until high school where with working after school, homework, sports, and all the other things I did I just didn't have time to keep it up, so I quit. Everyone told me I would regret it, and I didn't believe them, but now I do, and I will tell anyone "don't quit because you will regret it." Years down the road I met and married the cutest man on earth that also plays the piano, and we decided when we had kids that they would take piano lessons. We found a great piano at a garage sale in our small town which was amazing. They were asking way too much, and I offered half the price they were asking, and they said, no, so I walked away (there is great power in walking away!). Well, they called me back and asked for my number. Later that day they called and said it hadn't sold, and I could have it for the price I said if I came and got it quick. We did that. Then we figured out a plan to get our kids started in piano. We were living in the same town that I grew up in with the nice old man teacher and the other nice lady teacher. Thankfully we are states away from the wicked witch teacher :) Sadly the older man had passed away, but my second teacher was still teaching, so we decided that at the end of kindergarten we would start each of our kids in piano with the understanding that they couldn't quit until they were 18. Of course a 6 year old agrees to that :) So 3 of my 4 are in piano. My oldest is starting her 7th year of lessons, and she is playing things I played in high school and can no longer play. My youngest will start at the end of kindergarten next May, and it will be interesting scheduling 4 kids around the piano to practice. Getting 3 in there was a challenge, so for Christmas we got the kids a cool keyboard which has headphones which is even cooler when they practice because you can plug them in and not hear them :) It hasn't been the easiest journey, and granted we are only getting started on some. I warn parents whose kids are just starting to be prepared for the "I hate this" time. We have gone through that with our current 3, and I expect no less from #4. You just have to persevere and keep going. Thankfully we have the same good teacher I had who can tell when kids need to ease up or try something different, because all kids are different and learn differently. Every now and again I get asked, "When can I quit piano?" "When you turn 18" I reply. Then I get a grumble, a nod, and then they hit the scales again. I don't know how long I will get that kind of response, but I am keeping my hopes up and expectations high that they will last until they are 18.

Well lately Miss O has decided that she wanted to expand her musical talents. She wanted a guitar. I said that was fine, but she had to earn the money to buy it, and she still had to take piano until she was 18, so she had to be prepared to commit the extra time for practicing 2 instruments. I thought this would be enough to dissuade her, but she persisted, raised the money, and look what she got Monday????
Isn't it pretty??? Now Miss E persists she wants one, but when I gave her the same spiel about paying for it yourself, and still doing both piano and guitar, she seemed to back down a little.
And I just put this picture in because he is so cute! He made the parrot at library story hour. We love the library!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What do you do in the summer time?

Oh what do you do in the summer time when its a 106 outside????

Okay the official temp isn't 106, it is 96, but we have a wonderful thing called humidity, and the heat index is 106. That means even though the temp is 96 it feels like 106. Ugh. . .so

we swim in a pool to keep cool (love the goggles)
or go around on the lazy river,

or bang on an African drum,

or find every blanket in the house, every extra chair, and every spare chip clip and redecorate the family room. Is that what you do?? So do I :)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

My no-fear child

It continues to amaze me how different my children are from each other. You have one child, and you think you have this parent thing figured out and know how to handle them, then you have another one, and it is a whole different ballgame. Since having four I have realized that they are all very different, their own personalities, and what works for one will not necessarily (and usually won't) work for the others. That said, Miss E is my no-fear child. She is not afraid of anything. This showed itself quite young in her life, especially in regards to water, which caused me no end of near heart attacks. When she was about 3 we were in route to our vacation and stopped at a hotel with a pool. Our family of 3 little girls was walking down to the pool. Ben opened the gate, and they all walked in, and I sat down to get floaters on and do sunscreen, but Miss E just kept walking and just walked right into the 5 foot deep part of the pool. No pausing, no stopping her and no floaters on. Near heart attack moment for my 20 something self. Total panic. Luckily Ben, who was closer to the pool, jumped down and grabbed her. Another family at the pool, their dad rushed over. She was fished out and was smiling and sputtering, then we had our "no walking into the pool" lecture, put her floaters on, and she jumped right back in. No fear.

At the cool town we went to over the 4th they also have a really fun $3 water park. It had a 10 foot diving board. Can you guess who didn't even pause on the way up??? This little spunky 8 year old was diving in from the 10 foot while boys twice her age were backing down scared from even going off it. When she was 7 years old we went to an aquatic center that had a 15 foot platform, and she had no qualms about jumping off that--no driving then, just jumping off. Another near heart attack for me. Thankfully she learned young to swim well. At the water park there was a little crowd of people on the side--one of them the mother of the scared 17 year old that wouldn't jump off--cheering her on and clapping when she dove in, commenting on her dives. Another thing this girl loves is performing for a crowd. She was so in her element. My no-fear child, gotta love her.
Getting ready. . .
Getting set. . .

Pretty good for an 8-year-old. Much better than me. I would be following the 17-year-old back down the steps because I would be too scared to go off too. Having no-fear is not one of my attributes. Don't know where she gets it from :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

What can you do for a nickel?

With movies near $10 a person, amusement parks $30, can you do anything for a nickel? We found out you can. How about ride an old-fashioned carousel?

A nickel a ride, can't beat that! Here kids, I am feeling generous, take a dollar and knock yourselves out!
Giddy-up horsie!

A pretty fancy carousel for a nickel.

What about a quarter??

How about a train ride?

We like those in our family. Over the 4th of July weekend we headed about an hour south to a small town that has a really fun park with the $.05 carousel, $.25 train rides, and $1 miniature golf. Cheap fun, very American, and we had plenty of cash left over for ice cream. Can't beat it!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Children's Author/Illustrator Breakfast

Saturday we got up bright and early to drive 2 hours to an independent children's book store in the big city. It is an amazing place. Those independent booksellers are unfortunately very rare things. This one offers amazing programs, author visits, and Saturday they had an author/illustrator breakfast. My mom, being the amazing mom and children's librarian that she is, got us tickets--me, Miss O, Miss E, Mr J, and my mom. (Miss A and Ben were not able to attend. They drove 5 hours that morning to the Winter Quarters Temple for Miss A to be able to do baptisms for the first time, then drove 5 hours back. Long day for them, but they both loved it.) We enjoyed a yummy breakfast at the bookstore, then were able to hear from 10 different children's authors/illustrators. It was a cool thing.
Mr J, my mom, Miss E, Miss O, and me getting ready to eat breakfast at the bookstore.
This is Miss O with author Laura Manivong (they look like they could be related, huh?). She recently came out with her first novel called Escaping the Tiger which Miss O has read. Miss O really enjoyed it and said it was kind of scary at times because it is about war and escaping from a country during war, but it was exciting. Laura is married to a man from Lao who didn't come to the US until he was 19. The story is based on his life there and his family's. His family was held in a prison camp in Lao, and his father, Laura's father-in-law, was held in one for 12 years. She has an amazing story to tell. We enjoyed visiting with her. She is very personable, kind, and easy to talk with. This would be a great book for older kids (one especially for boys) or adults.

This is Miss O, Mr J and I with illustrator Laura Huliska-Beith. She illustrated one of our family's favorite picture books The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill. She has illustrated several others also. I really like her style--she incorporates real materials for different items in her drawings like using real fabric material for a kid's shirt in a drawing. It is a very fun, funky art style. If you haven't read The Recess Queen
you need to check it out---ringity, zingity, yesssssssssssssssss!

Me with children's poet and illustrator Jenny Whitehead. She was great! So fun to listen to, and her art style is so cute! We got her Holiday Stew "A kid's portion of holiday and seasonal poems." It is great. She also has done Lunch Box Mail. Of course we bonded because we are both Jennys :) Her husband is also a children's illustrator--Pete Whitehead. He was there and talked also. Another author that was there was Christine Taylor-Butler. She was a civil engineer who gave up that job she said, "to be poor and be a children's author, and I love it a whole lot more and am so happy!" She has done lots of different kids' books--several kids' science books, and recently a Mt. Everest picture book (if you didn't know, I am a huge Everest fan--it totally fascinates me) called Sacred Mountain Everest. Children's history author/illustrator Cheryl Harness was also there along with author/illustrator Lisa Campbell Ernst. We love, love, love Lisa's stuff. So, if you need some ideas for you or your kids' summer reading, hopefully you got some here today!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A 5 year old's swimming advice

The other day Mr J had a friend over. We went to pick him up, and both 5 year old boys were in the middle seat of the van. They started discussing their recent swimming lessons. The little friend said he didn't really like his swimming lessons. Mr J said, "Yeah. I didn't really like them either. One day at the end I drowned, and that is kind of dangerous." Yes, I agree. Getting "Drowned" is "kind of dangerous," so just be careful during this summer's swimming season! :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Calm before the explosion

My house is nice and quiet, calm, serene, peaceful, and a whole bunch more of those similar adjectives because Ben has all 4 kiddos with him. Bless him. But the situation is quickly going to change because he took them to the firework stand!! Ahh! My kids go crazy when those open, and the situation is doubly bad for us because fireworks can only be sold outside the town limits and there is a stand set up along the road we go into town on every day. About 2 weeks before the 4th they start asking, "When is the firework stand going to open??" After it finally opens my kids beg and beg and beg to stop every time we drive by which is several times a day as we go into town for whatever. I have learned from years past to say "Your dad will take you, so you will have to ask him." This saves me. So when I hear all the begging as I cart kids around I reply, "Your dad is taking you. Talk to him." So tonight they pounced on him as soon as he got home from work. Poor guy didn't even have a chance. I repeat, bless him. I am a very lucky woman. So, they are there now. This is the calm before the explosion. I will let you know how we survive. Hope you have a good 4th too!