Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunshine is Emmaline

  My days in Phoenix are wonderful. Whether I'm playing with Emmaline on her play floor, or going for a walk, or listening to her laugh in her sleep I am so glad to share this time with her family.
   Today is Halloween and we are enjoying the decorations in everyone's yards, including those right here at home. Last night we had a neighborhood parade of costumes at the park two blocks away.
   Each child walked across four long tables to show off their ensemble. There were pirates, knights, and my favorite Harry Potter.
    Emmaline was a ladybug and wondered at the craziness of it all. HAPPY HALLOWEEN1

Book of Mormon Sunday- Moroni 9-10

  I have come to the end of adventure of writing about my Book of Mormon reading, I started January 1, 2011.

 These last few chapters are hauntingly sad. Comfort does not come from man for Mormon or Moroni. They are only lifted up by Christ. I am saddened by the coarseness of the people Mormon describes, yet at the same time amazed by the hope and strength of Moroni. How are they lifted up by the spirit?
  God has been merciful to his children. Moroni asks us to remember this and it is also the plea from Nephi at the end of chapter 1 of First Nephi. Remember the tender mercies given to man from a loving God. And, as you come to know God do not, do not deny his power. He shows his power through gifts bestowed upon men to do good things which point to Christ. The greatest of these being charity.
  Moroni 10:32 "Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God."
   As I come to an end of reading these important words I think what I learned from this time is that it is important to respond to this book. The times I wrote about, prayed about, or shared with others held the most meaning. I am considering turning around tomorrow and starting the project again.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Knitting Queen

 Years ago when we moved away from Provo, Utah to start a new job I so wanted another baby. After three boys in a row I really longed for another girl. And behold, we were blessed with a wonderful second girl, a gift I desired.

So, it is her birthday today and I want her to know we love her and are fortunate to have her close by. She is a woman of many interests, she was a dancer, studied plant biology, loves reading and is our knitting queen. So happy birthday from the desert sun.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello Sunshine

  I am leaving the hubby behind to soak up some rays.Going south for a few days of summer. There is another girl coming to our family in February. Woo! Hoo!

    Big sister and I are going to get reacquainted after 5 months. We will take some walks, play with her awesome toys, and cozy up to Mom and Dad.
   It will take a few hours to cozy up to Emmaline.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

FEASTing With My Early Morning Guests

  We FEAST every weekday morning in seminary. We Find a scripture, Explain it's meaning as best we can, Apply it to our lives, Share an experience that relates to that scripture, and Testify if we feel that it is true.

 So that we can all feast together we must prepare the feast. That means finding a scripture that we want to chew on for a few minutes with everyone. Mondays is usually the day to prepare the feast for the rest of the week.
   I was surprised by G, the sophomore, who brought a literal feast to celebrate my birthday. He was so well prepared and we enjoyed his crepes and bachitas very much.

These early morning guests make my day.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Color Orange


I love orange in the fall.Warm, rich, bold and present are the adjectives I'd use to describe this color. I attended a meeting recently where a floral designer decorated in all orange. It was stunning, so I snapped some pictures.

This array of flowers goes so well with my mantle just now. My painting of the month is the Cinderella Pumpkin by Karen Dale.Her rustic background is mirrored by her wooden frame with metal corners

Autumn is a time when nature is fully mature.Gone are the spring greens, pinks, and purples. I think I feel orange right now in my life.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall Back to Fisher Pond

   I called my friend early one morning and invited her to walk the trail around Fisher Pond. We are both city girls who worry about getting muddy feet. I reviewed my plan when she questioned if the recent rain would make the trail impassable. I reassured her that we must think like Northwesterners and brave the elements.  My interest in being a naturalist is a new thing, not really my nature but I admire those who live outdoors most of their day. They see things I don't see and talk about the deep feeling they have for the natural world. When I put on my water-proof shoes, my raincoat and leave my purse at home, I feel I am going on an adventure.

My grandchildren and I had tumbled along the path in the height of summer and I was curious to see the difference in autumn. The summer sun had shimmered on the pond and made the green water-plants shift slowly like a moving meadow.  

Now the green plants are brown and drying up.Perhaps ice-skating does happen if the pond freezes. I couldn't imagine it with the summer plants covering the surface.

 I noticed the path was strewn with fallen, decaying leaves making a variegated pattern of yellow and gray.This was the same path my little Moonbeam had walked with over-eager steps.

 With some leaves gone the view through the trees revealed distant borders of the preserve. With the curtain of foliage thinning I could see the changes colors; from green to yellow, from red to brown.

     We met some fellow walkers running, meditating, and picking berries. I feel somewhat sheepish thinking that I rarely go commune with nature. It adds something that sitting in front of a computer, writing, just does not produce. I feel humbled by my foray into the wild; I'm not the center of this creation. I don't shine as brilliantly as the decaying fern in the middle of the green frame.
   I am grateful for the day. I was accompanied by a valued friend and had a front row seat to the best color show on my rock.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

School Daze

    My Amazing Grace and her brother Spider Boy invited me to visit their schools yesterday. Amazing Grace made me feel welcome and loved as I dropped her off and picked her up.

   Spider Boy and his friends were going camping with their Joy School. We explored how our senses made the world beautiful.

  Then we stuffed ourselves into coats and boots and took a hike in the dry spell between rain showers.
        The houses we hiked around had scary, awesome Halloween decorations. 
Then it was time to sit around the fire and roast hot dogs and teeny, tiny, marshmallows.
Every good camping trip has a tent to sleep in or rough house in with your squirrely friends.
Joy School is more than 25 years old. Why, my Music Man and the Knitting Queen went to Joy School.
How time flies when you're having fun!

Friday, October 7, 2011

What is Your Ark?

In seminary this week we have studied Genesis 6-10. I wanted to get my student's feet wet in the realm of symbols so I dove into the Noah story with the motive of finding a second meaning. The flood was both a disaster and a blessing. "What are the floods in your life?", I asked my class. 
 Their floods washed up as, temptation, tests at school, responsibilities, divorce, commitments, and others in a similar vein.

  "So, what arks have you built to get you through these floods?" There was some silliness but here is a sampling of responses. Scriptures, my family, prayer, soccer, friends, my home, food were the answers that seemed heartfelt.

    If your students are working with clay they listen for a while longer.These are our arks.

 The storms will undoubtedly take our arks into deep water but God gave detailed instructions to Noah on how to build that boat. He has done the same for you and me. Whether the sailing is smooth or rough I rely on the ark to keep me safe.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Teaching My Own

     Teaching has become as natural as swimming for me. Now I have to explain that I swim seasonally, with great anticipation, and with some anxiety. I have to convince myself that my appearance is acceptable and get over the "what will people think" syndrome. Once that is under control I just jump right in and glide through the water, knowing that I was meant to be there and pulling in all the sensory information I can. Teaching is exactly like that. I love diving into the depths of what I teach, but more satisfying is watching the faces of my students, looking for signs of curiosity, engagement, and delight. Thrashing through waves of "what should they know" has come to the stillness of "what will they be".

     My own children have been the tadpoles for developing my own teaching style. Oh, I went to college and learned the theory but that did not make me a good teacher. Sitting tall on my own piano bench with The Fidgeter, The Swooner, and The Sponge, was the real forge of my teaching ability. The Fidgeter went on to dance lessons, the Swooner to the I-Pod, and The Sponge learned all I had to offer and culled knowledge from several other teachers.
    Can a parent be a good piano teacher? Well, I thought the word parent and teacher were synonyms. If you have children, you must teach. But often a parent and child collide with differing agendas. These collisions can make parents feel inadequate as teachers. Professional teachers have break-downs in communication, as well. Here is what I learned from teaching my own.
     From The Sponge I learned to be consistent, to listen to his heart, and to make him learn his notes. Being consistent was a difficult challenge. Habits were hard to make in my day to day living. In other words, I rarely did the same things day after day. My first hurdle was finding a regular time for him to practice. I saw the power of holding time aside for piano every day. In that hour of the day nothing else was as important. The second hurdle was teaching him on a consistent day and treating him as a paid piano student with a scheduled lesson time. This young boy, The Sponge, was very quiet and mostly compliant. That sounds ideal, doesn't it? Actually, because he was not as vocal as my other children I found I had to pay more attention to his non-verbal signals. Learning to see into his heart became possible as I asked more open-ended questions and listened patiently. He had a very willing ear and wonderful short-term memory. Reading notes was too tedious so he memorized everything which served him well until he wanted to learn Beethoven. By this time we hired a piano teacher who gave him an ultimatum; learn to read notes or don't come back. I felt I had failed him. He told me he was quitting on the ride home in the car. She had wounded his pride and I felt remorse for not being more dogmatic about drilling with those flash cards. The harshness of her tactics did the trick. He proceeded to practice note-reading via computer with a vengeance. After two weeks his musical life took a new path. The code was broken and so he started sight-reading everything in his grasp. When he quickly proved that he did not need reminding to play I faced the challenge of biting my tongue and not telling him to stop practicing. There came the point when silence was more than golden; after hours of teaching it was essential. We cleaned out a shed for The Sponge and put in a second piano. He became a wonderful pianist and a willing father.
Now on Mondays I pack up my I-Pad, my stickers, some small candies for bribes, and colored pencils and go off to teach my grandchildren. I have three students in one family. It takes about three hours because they like me to stay for lunch. I am applying the same lessons I learned with my own child. Teach them on the same consistent day, listen to their different needs, and drill those notes. I am more of a novelty as a grandmother because I don't hound them all day long but it would be easy to get relaxed about the routine. I find that I must be stern about following through with practice goals and I challenge myself to do the unexpected to keep them interested. An appearing puppet now and then makes lessons playful and full of promise. I see good follow-through on their parent’s part and I know piano lessons are valued in their home. In the future I'm sure I won't be saying, "Gee, I wish I had not spent so much time teaching my own".
       Jumping right in and gliding through the challenges of being a mother and a teacher has made me a better instructor. I do care about what all my students should know, but I have a lot invested into what my children and grandchildren should be. I hope music is a pathway to expression for them and I hope music teaches them to have eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts that are open to beauty.

Monday, October 3, 2011

My Father's Journal

  Many of you relatives have asked if I could publish Kurt Titze's Journal once again. I had it on our family website long ago. I am publishing it here in the Pages section on this website. This will take some weeks to finish. You will have some options upon completion; read it online, ask to have the word document sent to you without pictures, or purchase this journal, with pictures, as a paperbound book for about $20. Please comment below if you have questions.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Conference Sunday

I am adding my thoughts to a MEME about general conference. This twice a year event adds thoughtful reflection to my life. Here are the questions others have asked and my answers.

1.  Who were your three favorite speakers? My favorite three speakers were President Uchtdorf on Saturday, President Eyring on Sunday, and Elder Ardern on Saturday.

2.  Which talk spoke to you the most? President Eyring was very personal about his mission as an apostle. I felt his emotion touched me and the spirit testified to me that there are men who are living apostles of Jesus Christ.

3.  What was your favorite Hymn and why did it move you? The choir director, whose name escapes me now, does lovely arrangemnts of hymns. There were several whose organ interludes were beautiful and added so much to the melody of the hymn. My favorite, however, was Consider the Lilies of the Field, by Roger and Melanie Hoffman. I sang that with my daughter and brother when my granddaughter was blessed. She was born two months early and we considered her pain and suffering everyday she was in the hospital.

4.  Which speaker was the best dressed?  (Come on, we can have a little fun.) I liked the guy in the suit.

5.  Were there any topics that you felt like were repeated often?  Any conference “themes”? The theme I heard the most was God knows me and watches over me in my joys and struggles.

6.  Share a few of your favorite quotes from any of the talks
(paraphrasing is fine). "compared to God we are nothing, but to God we are everything." Press. Uchtdorf, "you could take the currency of all the world and it would not buy a loaf of bread in the economy of God" Pres. Uchtdorf

7.  Name something(s) that made you smile or laugh during conference. I smiled at Pres. Monson's hello when he spoke in the middle of the Saturday Morning session, but I did not catch on to what was happening. Was he late coming into conference? I was listening to audio only.

8.  Was there any evidence that your children paid attention? I have not talked to them yet, although I am having my son's family for dinner tonight.

9.  What doctrine did you learn as you listened to the choir(s) sing? As the choir was singing We Ever Pray for Thee,I learned the tender feelings the Lord has for his prophet. The music established that feeling and the spirit testified of that truth.

10.  Did the music enhance your General Conference experience? How? I listened to conference with ear phones which emphasized the bass tones. The organ was so deep and resonant through the ear buds.

11.  What are some of your post-conference goals? My goal is to listen to and read these talks again and dicuss them with my seminary students.