Thursday, March 31, 2011

Come to the Sun

Dear Grandma, 
Do you like looking out of your window to see this everyday?
You simply have to come visit me and get some of this!
Let's face it, your vitamin D count is down, your endorphins are low, and you haven't seen your shadow in weeks.
Ooops, did I put my foot in my mouth? Sorry, but really, notice that I don't have to wear shoes here.
You really neeeed to come.
Don't forget to bring your shades and sandals. 
Love, E.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My First Piano Adventures 9

Last week as I called to cancel piano lessons, I got A. on the phone. "I am sick today, so I won't be able to do our piano lesson.".
" That's okay, I didn't really want to come because I need to go rollerblading. I'm getting pretty good, you know."
Well, I was glad to accommodate someone. While I was beating back the sickness blues I thought I would like to encourage my students to spend some time at
You can practice learning the piano keys there.
This is the homepage. Click on Member Log-in at the left.
Here is where you need a user name and password. All of you have received that for at least one of your students.
Here are the first games. Letterfly 1,2,3, are perfect for reviewing the key names.
Winning the game once is not the same as practicing the game. Encourage your child to play more than once. They may say, "But I beat the game!" So challenge them to get a higher score each time.
I 'll give them all a little quiz this week to see if they are secure with this skill. See you soon and call if you need assistance with this Internet site.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Piano Man

   It was a spring Saturday, right about noon, when I brought forth my fourth child and third son. I had worked hard to get him here and I was ever so grateful to have him. That was 30 years ago, what? Wow!  He joined the boys and turned out to be a quiet but tenacious force. I call him the Piano Man.

   He loved sports and video games but to my delight also took a liking to the piano. I made a difficult decision to home-school him based on inspiration and with that decision doors opened up for him to have unlimited time to explore music. Music has been his second language and even though he is busy as a husband, father, and provider he still speaks the language fluently.

 We enjoy his presence in our lives and have the good fortune to be close in distance to his family. I love watching him take delight in the antics of his five children. Yikes! He is busy.

Have fun playing with your tech toys!

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Rhythm of My Day 9

Our Rhythm of My Day is over and I feel like it was a great class. Thank-you to all you great parents and friends who came along for the ride. And, a special thanks to your lovely children who changed and developed so much over 9 weeks. S. learned to walk, S. came out of her shell, and C. started singing along with all her might.
I thought you might enjoy a blast from the past. There is Kim on the floor with her little boy B. sitting in front of her. B. is eight going on nine.
This was my first grandchild to go through Swingset sitting with his Dad, my son. He is shaking it up.
And sorry to say you won't be seeing Skip and Step at the Vashon Children's Concert tomorrow, due to colds, but I am sure the musicians will play beautifully without us.
Hope to see you in April for our spring semester; starts April 21st. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Seeking Signs

Feeling a little under the weather, today I wondered around my house seeking for signs.There were signs of spring. My friend Kim left a lovely pot of daffodils last week.
They were still blooming, bringing cheer to the cozy kitchen. I wandered by my tulip painting. It is one of my favorites. Painted by Donna Romero, an islander, it attracted me back four Mothers Day's ago and still holds it's attraction.
Every spring I buy orange, red tulips and place them in close proximity, art imitating life.
Spring is officially here. On the kitchen table I see other signs. Signs that I had grandkids visiting yesterday.
A pirate puzzle is put together, a sign that AL kept himself busy waiting for his Dad to trade out snow tires for  regular tires. He is an amazing puzzler. He will not heed my advise to start with the edge pieces; he just randomly finds connecting parts.
I think he may get the jigsaw puzzle thing from me. Another sign of grandkids was a book left on the table.
It is not just any book, it is my 1950 copy of the Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore which I received when I was 8. In the inside cover is the signature of my MamaDaughter who claimed it as her own 25 years ago. Right now it is beloved by my granddaughter M. who must have been reading, also waiting for her Dad. All these signs bring me joy on a day when I could feel sorry for myself, since I had to cancel a few things to rest.  A sign can be a wonderful thing. It is a promise that something really did happen and a hope that other things will indeed come to pass.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Can't You Live Without?

Yesterday I was accused, by unnamed sources close to me, of being obsessed with my computer time.  I thought of an immediate justification, so that is a red flag that perhaps I am. Could I live without a computer for a week? would be stressful at first. I think my monkey brain would keep trying to find a solution to get it back. What can I live without? Whenever we lose electricity in the winter I experience that feeling of "back to basics".  It is novel, at first, to be self-sufficient, but three days in and I feel deprived of life sustaining activities.This discussion reminds me of my grandson, J. 
  He can not live without his dog. No, really, he has a melt down without his trusty pooch. When I knock on his door,  he comes to greet me and thrusts his dog at me first so that I acknowledge his best friend. I have a dog which looks similar to his at home and it seems okay to leave the real one behind knowing that the substitute is waiting, so it isn't just one particular dog, no, it is the breed that he values so much. The Beagle is his choice, 
He has one more obsession.
He has to wear his spider-man shirt, all the time. Rain or shine, all the time.
What does he know about spider-man? He knows very little. He doesn't read comics, hasn't seen the movie, he is only two, so where did he get the fascination?
It must be the image alone that peaks his imagination. I wonder what the image means to him? Perhaps strength, power, control, and these may be why I love my computers. This is a scary, insecure world. Tools help us cope with the randomness of unforeseen events. I know it isn't real; that my computer world is fleeting and not essential to my salvation, but I do like to imagine that you are out there and care what I think. I'll be back, rain or shine.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Boys and Basketball

S. makes a basket and they finally win the game.
I stopped by to see my grandson S. play his last basketball game of the season and I was transported back in time. Yes, all my boys played basketball, Winter months were spent going to practices and games. The boys, now men, remember me making them walk to practice. We lived one half mile away, and so I thought if the weather was okay they should walk. The gym was the same as I watched my grandson; the feeling took me back to that crazy time of five kids going in so many directions.
The oldest boy was grandpa. He loved shooting hoops with the guys.
Now my husband is the grandpa and we have a new crop of boys to shoot the hoops.

Congratulations S. on your season of Basketball!

Monday, March 21, 2011

169 Years of Relief Society

I belong to an organization of women whose membership is worldwide and whose numbers are in the tens of thousands, being a member since I was 18 years old. I have worked on countless projects; some cultural, some in relief aid, some in watch care. Last week we celebrated 169 years of Relief Society. Charity Never Faileth was the theme for our birthday celebration. Our program was dedicated to the Relief Society sisters in Japan who undoubtedly spend everyday caring for the families in their congregations and communities. I was lucky this year to serve with Garna as we planned this event.
She worked so hard to provide a spiritual feast for all her sisters. 
Lyn and Vada headed up the food committee. The food looked delicious and tasted wonderful as well.
The program was a combination of inspiring word and music.
Jamie and Chass were narrators.
Jan, Joan, Gail, Earthsong, Dorothy and I gave our time and energy to some beautiful music. I felt very grateful that we had practiced diligently because our musical language was communicated with all the spirit it had been written.
We were not unfruitful in bearing testimony of the mission and destiny of our worldwide organization.
Babies here and babies to come joined in.
We are united daughters of God, and our lives have purpose and direction.
As a worldwide sisterhood we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ. I feel grateful to belong to this sisterhood.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

My First Piano Adventures 8

This week I introduced J. to the first note on the Grand Staff, Middle C, otherwise known as the King and Queen's cat. The King is Bass Clef and the Queen is Treble Clef and they both share a cat between them.
Can you see the cat in the muddle of the staff? J. is making whiskers coming out each side of the cat's head. I struggle with each student making notes on the staff comprehensible to my student. Faber and Faber have invented a wonderful and fun introduction. It is a big step to reading notes on the staff.
Group lessons were on the calendar for my three boys who are a lot like puppies. A., D, and N., all came this week to reinforce their knowledge of the keys on the keyboard. I found a downloadable on Susan Paradis's site of a keyboard game. Click here to see her great teaching aids. Click on games at the top and scroll down.
First we played musical chairs. I had a picture of the fly holding the keyboard on the back of each chair. They could not keep their chair unless they could tell me the name of the key with the pink dot. I was concentrating on the CDE place. They each missed one but they started looking more carefully to not miss it again.
Then we played Swat the Fly. All the cards were on the table and I called out a letter and the first one to swat the fly got to keep the card. I feel more confident now as they all approach the CDE songs that they will find their starting keys more easily. I am just lucky that I can meet with these boys (the puppies) as a group each month. As they start school full day next year it will be harder to have a group experience.
Teaching is so fun when I have new ideas. I thank all the piano teachers online who share so generously of their talents.
"Music is for everyone!"


Friday, March 18, 2011

The Rhythm of My Day 8

There is nothing like live acoustic music to add enrichment to a children's music class. We are lucky that Kim plays the violin and accompanies us during play along and circle dancing. I always notice the child who lights up when the instruments come out. Some can not help themselves from touching and making the sounds themselves. Recorded music has come a long way but cannot be substituted for the human singing voice and real instruments.
 I noticed C. singing  Howidoo with  us. Somewhere in the 2nd to 3rd year the child, who I believe has been singing along in her head, starts singing aloud. What a joy that is for me!
This week I brought in my xylophone. It is so child friendly because beautiful sounds appear just with the striking of the mallet, and what child does not want to hit the keys with the mallet?
It does make it hard to go home at the end of class, though. Our classes this winter are almost over. One more week. This class has been extra-special for me because I blogged about each class. This gave me rich rewards in considering and renewing my commitment to teaching music and movement to this age group.
Shake it up with us another semester this spring. And feel free to leave comments about what you liked best below.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Luck of the Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day! When I think of this day I think of my friend Gail. She is the only true Irish in my life.  By the way, everyone should have a friend named Gail. Everyone who is anyone has a friend named Gail. 
This beauty and I have had a few lucky turns together. She puts up with the truly obnoxious me; loyal and true, through and through. Why, just yesterday I sent her an e-mail hinting that she may have lost some pieces of a puzzle she lent me.
How can she have lost this many pieces? I did check my floor to make sure I was not the culprit. Well, truth be told, as I was gazing upon this puzzle with all the pieces in, the ones I had left, I  had saw a curious pattern. 
What if I shifted all the pieces over towards each other?
You guessed it! It fit together perfectly. Lesson: Never accuse your friend of wrong doing until you have looked at all sides of the issue.
Happy Green Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Genealogy Project

I have many stories of my ancestors which I have collected. I am beginning a new project to publish them on my blog. The first story is of our pioneer ancestor, Johanna Pauline Bettermann Schulz. Find her story here and the story will be added to day by day.