Monday, January 31, 2011

Beautiful Things for Writers

My daughter came home with the most beautiful book cover last year. It was tooled leather and I so admired the craftsmanship.She loves writing in the empty books included with the cover.
The design continues on the back.
The texture feels lovely on the hand. It smells good of leather.
Here is the Alley of Trees design.
They make pewter jewelry as well. The black lace is adjustable so it can be a long necklace or short.
This is a heart which separates into five pieces. For me this represents my broken and contrite heart and my desire to have one.
I gave the women in my family a necklace with a  design that I thought suited them.
Above this fridge magnet is the Tree of Life design which is a bookcover design and also a necklace design.
Find them at

Saturday, January 29, 2011

My First Piano Adventures 2

This blog post gives me a chance to explain why we do some of the activities in this First Piano Adventures Book. I will not be explaining these things to your children. To them these are just fun games, but they do have a purpose.The first activity you will see and hear is Stone on the Mountain. Putting an imaginary stone in your hand gives a rounded shape. A relaxed rounded shape of the hand at the piano is the goal. It takes some time to achieve and may be easier for some children.
Using a donut shape to play the piano is another way to naturally shape the hand. The thumb behind the third finger gives support and keeps the hand relaxed. I will be using the donut to do many exercises up and down the piano.
Raising the wrists into a catback prepares the hands to learn a gesture which facilitates movement. We practice coming from a rounded hand with a flat top to raising the wrists and pressing the fingertips to release the hands from the keys.These are preparatory games laying a foundation of technique at the piano.
This week we practiced drumming to continue finding the inner steady beat. Some children come with a natural ability to feel a beat in their body and others learn it through continuous exposure.
Bringing along a friend or two to watch your piano lesson is always fun, especially if they are wise, old owls.
And lastly, having an older sister at home to watch and imitate is ideal.

I hope these explanations are helpful. The process of writing them down helps me to first, think through my technique teaching, and second meet my obligation to be accountable to you as parents for how I teach your children.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Rhythm of My Day 2

Suzie Q smiles when she sees Miss Froggy come into the circle. She has been in music class over the last year. She knows what will happen next and shyly she looks at the other children and then for the first time she bends down to touch the floor with her head. "Up, up, up, up, up."she listens to the five note major scale. "Down, down, down ,down, down." With a joyous release her upper body lowers back to the floor. Already at this young age a pathway in her brain has been made which intuitively recognizes the sounds of a major scale and she has connected her body to that sound. Movement is so married to music.
Suzie waits for the verbal que to touch her toe. There is a flea on it, you know, and it is climbing up to her hair. The music to this little rhyme is a major octave scale. She may not be singing in class yet, but in her mind she knows what comes next, both words and melody.
A three year old begins to show imagination and inventiveness. I love to expose younger children to imagining because they puzzle about it at first, but they do imitate so well. Imitating an older child in an imaginative narrative opens up the window to the playroom of their mind. Here is Kim, walking through green grass, and finding amazing imaginary things. 
As Meliissa R. Johnson Ph.D says, "Toddlerhood is a time that challenges both developmental psychologists and parents with it's fascinating mixture of change, growth, joy, and frustration. The child leaves babyhood behind and emerges as a verbal and relatively competent pre-schooler. During this transition process, the changes that occur physically, cognitively, and in communication skills are amazing and, at times overwhelming."
Thank-you for sharing this time with us.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Sweet Mother

Today is my mother's birthday. She has passed but I think of her so often.She was born in 1910 so if she had lived until today she would have been 101.
I love this picture of the three sisters in their early twenties. My mother is on the right.
Here she is as a first time mother. Great hairdo, huh? I think I could wear that do. The baby is my oldest brother.
She was a talented and organized woman. I owe her all for insisting that I keep playing the piano. I would have gladly quit but it just was not going to happen. She was my spiritual compass and though I rebelled over many issues I wanted to be what she would have me be. 
This picture is of her later eighties. Happy Birthday, Mama, and thank-you so much. You raised me from the floor up.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

School For a Day

I had my grandchildren for a morning this week and it brought back lots of good memories. I put them in the van and told them we were going to the B Road School. We had gathering time first with an inspirational thought, about getting along, and sang a song and started with prayer.Then off to do math at the table.
This is what life looked like for many years when my children homeschooled.
The younger ones may not have been doing work in books but they were there also working. of course, every day was not great. We rebelled, and complained but there moments of being united in the task of learning.
There is nothing more satisfying then seeing a child fully engrossed in a project. I am glad I was allowed to witness so many ah, hah moments with my own little brood.
She was with her mom but I had to throw this one in, too. I truly am blessed to have grandchildren. I am so relieved to find that they love me, too.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Is the Doctor In?

So today I could use a good therapist to help me through this thinking black hole. I have been wondering for some time why I don't want to do the things which once I actually do them, I really, really enjoy?
 Let me start with prayer.
I am not saying that I don't pray. But why do I have to strive to pray. I looked up the word strive.  It means to work very hard, in a nutshell. Prayer is meaningful most, of the time, for me. It gives me comfort, helps me focus on what is real, and gives me direction. So why don't I just roll out of bed and fall to my knees?
So now on to yoga.
I love doing yoga and I can't begin to number all the benefits I receive from my practice. but I have to strive to get out the mat and do it. Do I do yoga, yes but I have to work very hard to remember that it is a priority.
Take playing the piano;
I play often in the day, but it is related to work. What I really love is to play for myself. I love finding a piece of music and having a love affair with it. Having the piano draw me over, playing the song over and over again and still not having enough. That is so enjoyable but, I have to strive to get on the seat initially.
There is obviously a dis-connect between the wanting and the doing.
I don't have an answer. I am just sitting on the floor and looking up for direction. Hmmm, while I am here, I should do yoga. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Spring Coming Through the Ground

 I wandered around my yard during the sunbreak Saturday and I saw spring popping through the ground.
This bush has white flowers in early spring, later they hide beneath my bigger bush. Sometimes I miss them because they come so early and have a short life.
I hope the slugs don't finish feasting on this bevy of blue. I love how they come back every year. Granted they don't look like they are just out of the greenhouse but they give their best. I wish I had weeded around them when the sun was out. But I didn't because I was reading.
Munch, munch munch I hear the ooozse of the slugs, taking apart what bounty Spring is bringing forth.
Norbert, my garden gnome should be digging up those intruders and ridding my garden of all unsightly creatures. He must be on break. I hope I didn't get a gnome like me.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Rhythm of My Day

 I started my Swingset classes this week. My partner and I are always in a bit of a rush to finalize the curriculum and get materials ready. We feel a bit stressed the first day.
This is what the room looks like when we arrive. Toys and equipment are set up for Playgroup.
           This is what it must look like before the children come. Everything must be moved to the edges and covered. We hope to keep their attention on our musical activities for almost an hour.
      The class this semester will be very good. I love all the classes we do but I could tell this will be very special. It is a combination the chemistry of the families and the material we choose. There were moments during this class where I lost myself and I was caught up in the middle of these beautiful children.

This sweet little girl has been with us for a year. She is often shy about expressing herself. To my complete delight today she participated with full knowledge of what was coming next which tells me she has been doing everything in her head all along. Quoting Kim Thal, my partner in this wonderful "crime";
 "Did you know that these early songs also have an impact on other areas of learning? In particular, the blending of music and movement taps into many other arenas of important childhood development. Free movement enhances large-motor skills, while using child-sized instruments and doing finger-plays with rhyming songs challenge children's fine motor skills as well. Bounces stimulate the vestibular systems of children, contributing to healthy vision, movement, balance and even immune response."
How lucky I am to be on the floor again with a terrific group of children and parents, and grandparents, and care-givers........

Thursday, January 20, 2011

365 Voices

Introducing.................(doubling as a seminary teacher)

Jeffrey Simpson

   "I've been talking in different voices for as long as I can remember, and now I occassionally get paid to do it. I'm also a regular in the Children's Theater group, Storybook Theater. I have a degree from BYU in Broadcast Journalism. In my free time I enjoy watching movies and being with my beautiful wife, Janelle."

Jeffrey is blogging everyday, bringing us the New News Show. How did this all come about?

It all started when I was a Junior in High School...I had interviewed for and been chosen to be the new "Morning Announcements Guy" (the official title was actually Commissioner of Student Relations, I believe). My 16 years of talking to myself in funny voices and doing comedy routines in the mirror were finally going to come in handy.

But before I got behind the microphone for the first time (actually it was a telephone), I decided I wasn't going to just read the announcements...I was going to come up with either a new skit or a new character every day of the school year.

In June of 2000, I achieved my goal...I had created 50 characters and written well over 100 skits.

In October of 2010, I was sitting in a voice-over class, led by the talented Scott Burns, when I suddenly had an idea...what if I started a blog and came up with a new character voice every day for 365 consecutive days? It seemed like a fun, if not overwhelming concept, but something was missing. Well, later that night, I discovered that "something."

The 365 characters you will hear over the next 365 days will be just that-characters in a story, not just amusing voices on a blog. Utilizing my Broadcast Journalism degree (finally!), I will give you a behind-the-scenes look at a wacky radio news station that is being financed for (oddly enough) one year.

If the news isn't really your thing, don't despair. The episodes will cover a variety of topics (movies, commercials, every day life, etc.) and feature an array of wacky characters (anchors, celebrities-living and dead, every day people, inanimate objects, etc.). AND, since none of us have a ton of time, the episodes won't last more than about 90 seconds.

And so it is with great pleasure (and a feeling of 'how the heck am I going to pull this off?') that I invite you to join me on this exciting adventure of...365 Days of Voices. Wish me luck!
You can catch his show at

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cafe Luna

I didn't visit Cafe Luna for a long time when it first opened. I don't drink coffee so what would be the point, right? But then, this gorgeous girl started working there and I liked going in and ordering hot chocolate just so she could whip it up for me.
But Cafe Luna is much more than hot chocolate and coffee. They have great homemade soups and salads. Using organics is important to them so their baked goods, made by their baker, are wholesome and fresh.
One of the owners, Heather, always makes me feel so welcome. They work hard there and try to make food that pleases the palate. I am shy in crowds and Luna can get crowded. It takes me out of my comfort zone to stand in line and make an order. Then I find it challenging to sit myself down in the middle of a group and be content. Since buying an ipad for my work I feel like it saves money to use their wireless service and so I do reading and preparing for lessons there. An experience I will always remember was when my business partner and I did a Saturday night gig there entitled "Swingset Pajama Night". Many of our Swingset families came with their kids and we did a sing-a-long. My first time playing and singing at a coffee house! I brought my keyboard and Kim let me do my favorite Mindy Gledhill song "California". You can't imagine the rush.
So, I recommend this little place, morning, afternoon, or night. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Studio 101 (On the Bottom Floor)

There are so many good people in my life. People I see from time to time, who give great service, with cheerful hearts and happy faces. One of those is Adele, who owns Studio 101.
She is gregarious, upbeat, and funny. She has been cutting my hair for years. Together we have explored long hair and short hair. I have trusted her to make me feel a little more hip but still be the person I am, who has a very short regimen for my hair; wash, blow dry, comb.
Adele is from South Africa and has a wonderful accent. This year she is working on becoming a citizen of the United States. She is studying and will likely know more about our country than I do.
Need a good haircut? Go see Adele; she is on the bottom floor. Their building is across from Cafe Luna and tomorrow I'll write about some good folks there.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Genealogy Art Project

 There is someone else, who lives under my roof, who is very creative and innovative. You guessed it, my husband. At Christmas he revealed to those in attendance that he was designing each family a shield which would have the ancient crests belonging to their family surnames. He unveiled the beginnings of ours, those belonging to Mark and me. The shield for us is very large, 4 1/2 ft. The other shields will be half that size
The Burgess crests are up above and the Titze crests below. Not all surnames have crests and some are more artistic than others. Mark has done an amazing job with the layout and overall design.
This is my maiden name Titze. Serpent is above, symbol of river in the middle, and a dove below. The interpretation is up for debate but I'll go with the New Testament connection; be wise as serpents and harmless as a dove. (Matt.10:16)
This one is my maternal grandmother's name, Lindner. It comes from the Linden tree, but I think this looks more like a palm tree.
Krause is my paternal great-grandmother's name. Her crest is very royal looking with the lion and scroll.

Working on any genealogy project brings a closeness to these people. As you contemplate the knowledge you have of family, affection rekindles. These are my roots, what makes me, me,  from the floor up.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Babies on the Floor

I love babies! I love the way they smell right after a bath, sweet and fresh. I love the way they feel soft and squishy. I love the way they look intently, studying every face for information. I love they way they sound when they laugh and coo to talk. I am lucky to have babies in my life.
                                 "Hey, she's my cousin, visiting for Christmas."
                            "Do you think there's anything in here worth playing with?"
                            "She likes my favorite giraffe squeaky toy!"
                     "Have we known each other long enough to hold hands?"
                  "She is our Grandma. Don't mess with her."
                   "Why don't all the grown-ups get on the floor?"
                     "I am ticklish in all the right places, ohhh........."
"Being a Burgess is just grrrrrreat!!!!!!"

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pilates On the Floor

A year ago I embraced the offer from one of my piano student's mother to trade piano lessons for Pilates classes. I knew very little about this form of strength training and I am still surprised I went into this with such an open mind. I give Arlette the credit. She never ceases to challenge me and come up with new ways to work this chubby body of mine.
Arlette is straight forward and direct. Her directions are clear and varied. If she sees that I don't understand she has another way ready to use as explanation. It has taken time to ready my mind and body to hear her. Since we are doing this one on one I can't hide or mentally wander. I am developing new eyes. These eyes see inside my mind and connect to my body. Hearing her direction the first time leaves me confused because I  try to comprehend with only my brain. Then as I experiment,  the feelings from my body open up these new eyes to see what it is that I should do.
The Pilates equipment is wonderful. Each device has multiple uses and they are designed to work single, or small groups of muscles. I never feel sore after even though I have worked very hard.
I trust Arlette to know what my body can do and how far I can go. 
She certainly is an inspiration and I enjoy seeing her strength and fluid moves.
I may not look like I am more fit but there are more muscles inhabiting my body than ever before. I surely love that floor in the Pilates Studio.