Sunday, April 29, 2007
It has been interesting for me this year as Joel deals with all types of parents over at the high school. He even had one at the University, which is even more shocking. But, I find myself learning from these parents, even it is how not to be. Here are three of the situations he's had to deal with, and what I've learned from them as a parent myself.
Situation #1: Joel, like all public education music teachers in the entire world, encourages his students to take private instrument lessons wherever possible. It just isn't feasible for him to be able to give the kind of attention each kid needs in order to be proficient players. I mean, he's practically Superman, but even he has limits.
A mother totally gave him a lecture because it has "hurt her child's self esteem" to be told that private lessons would be beneficial. (FYI, she wasn't told personally...it was a blanket statement to the entire class.)
Okay. So. Does this mother not realize that there isn't a single well-known musician in the world that is totally self-taught? I mean, the really good ones have had lessons since they were toddlers practically. Those ten-year old prodigies are not prodigies just because they one day picked up a violin or sat down at a piano and could suddenly play Paganini and Liszt flawlessly. No sir. They had guidance and direction. And lots of practice. And definitely private lessons. And of course raw talent, but in my mind that's the least of it. And then there's that "self-esteem" word. I hate it. I wish parents would realize that kids who are required to work hard and have more responsibility have much more healthy self-esteem than those who are coddled and spoiled and not made to do anything.
Situation #2: This one's at the University. One of his students, who is in his thirties, got placed at 4th chair for his instrument. His mother came to Joel and told him that this student's feelings were hurt and that Joel really should move his seating up.
Really, I have the same thoughts here. Why is it okay to give somebody something they don't deserve just because their feelings or self-esteem are hurt because they weren't able to get it on their own merit? Why should the leader of a group sacrifice quality to save feelings? And then what about the feelings of those players who actually do deserve the higher seats when they are demoted in the name of someone else's self-esteem? And how on earth can a self-esteem be strengthened really, if your mom is always going to battle for you and getting you what you want when you are 35 years old? Seriously.
Situation #3: Last week or so a mother came into Joel's classroom while he was teaching and demanded that he meet with her right then. They went into his office and she proceeded to tell him off for the following: Not allowing her child to send text messages during class. Not allowing her to talk to her neighbor in the middle of rehearsal. Requiring her to play in the concerts. Requiring her to go to Region Orchestra, which was really what this meeting was about. She wasted around 45 minutes of his classtime, and was one of those people that don't let you out.
I think I'm seeing a theme here. Oh, and this particular mother was the "president for the child advocacy group at the high school." Joel later found out that she does this to every teacher if her children are required to do anything...like homework, for instance. And also, that this "child advocacy group" doesn't even exist, except in her own mind.
Hopefully I don't have to explain why I have such difficulty understanding this particular mother. Whatever happened to teaching our children responsibility and hard work and that life isn't fair and you get what you get and you don't throw a fit and all the rest of it? Joel says her child has the worst attitude in the class, so that really says something to me. Also, the mother went to talk to the Vice Principal about the issues she had with Dr. Neves, and told him that she thinks it is great Joel is so strict and runs a tight ship. Just not for her child.
All right. End of rant.
Please slap me across the face if you find me acting like any of these parents.
Friday, April 27, 2007
We just got back from St. George where we saw "Aida" at Tuacahn High School. Not the opera, but the Disney musical that features Elton John's music. Most of my voice students down there were in it, so I really wanted to go see them.
One student, in particular, had a lead-ish role. I guess a "supporting actor" type role is what we'd call it. When I first started teaching him in January I thought I had an impossible task ahead of me. He had a terrible ear, one. I would play a note for him to sing and he would sing it an octave higher/lower on a good day, or just some random note that was not the right note on a not-so-good day. On top of that, he had no idea how to access his head voice or falsetto. He would push his chest up as far as it could go and then it would just end. He did have a nice tone in his lower range, but that was about it.
Well, what I didn't know was that this kid is an incredibly hard worker. He listens to what I have to say. He applies what I teach him. And that is why he got the role he got. His ear has improved leaps and bounds. I'd even venture to say that he was the only one in the whole show that didn't have an out of tune moment tonight, but just to be sure, I'll have to ask Joel in the morning (oh wait, it is morning, guess I'll ask him when he wakes up).
But more importantly, he has learned how to use the upper part of his voice. It has been so exciting to see him "get it." He is my last lesson of the day and I always call Joel on my way home and just gush about how wonderfully this student is doing, because I am so dang thrilled with what I hear each week. He was singing high As and Bs tonight, folks. Beautifully. No cracks. Projected well. Amazing.
He clearly stole the show. It was apparent during the curtain call. Seriously thunderous applause for my little student. I was like a proud parent, knowing how far he's come in the last few months.
While I give him a ton of credit for being teachable and having a fabulous work ethic, it makes me smile to know that I helped him along the way. It boosts my confidence as a teacher when I see my students make such huge leaps and bounds of progress. To know that I really do know what I'm talking about when I so often feel like I am just making it all up as I go along. To see (and hear) that I am actually making a difference.
So... yay me. :)
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Of course, now I need to find another way to make that money...any great ideas?
Sophia is still sick. We went to the doctor yesterday and got a special cream for her seriously bright red cheeks and some drops for her swollen eyes. Hopefully she'll be finished with this soon. And then spring will come and we won't have winter colds in April anymore.
Bria has agreed to play her violin in her school arts night. I need to mention that she is being heavily bribed with a new scooter, but it's very important to us that she take advantage of these opportunites to overcome her fear of doing things in front of people. She's had some wonderful moments with her violin. Always bribed though. She's gotten lipstick, ice cream and sparkly shoes out of prior public performances, and I'm not ashamed one bit.
Chloe is doing better and went back to school today. She's been sleeping in till nearly 11:00 the past several mornings, so it was slightly difficult to get her out of bed today. We did it though and hopefully we're totally on the upswing now.
I have been on a scrapbooking binge. And it ain't over yet. This is a good thing. I love it when I find my creativity again...it actually energizes me in other areas of my life.
The latest. Enjoy, and have a happy Wednesday!
Chloe's first solid food. Yes Chloe. Not Sophia. I thought I ought to at least finish Chloe's before I thought about doing one for Sophie. This is for the Pub Ad Inspiration for the week.
And one about Sophia's army crawl.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Sophia and Chloe are both sick today. (And yesterday, so no church for the three of us.) Poor Sophia. I think she has had more colds in her short 8.5 month life than my other two kids put together. When she woke up today she looked like she'd been put through the wringer. Seriously. Her eyes were gooped shut and slightly swollen. Her sad little cheeks and nose are severely chapped from all the nose wiping. The lack of said nose wiping during the night caused a nice coating of disgusting snot all over her face. And, to top it all off, she had a little accident with the hutch the other day, so her nose is totally scraped. And yes, I definitely deserve to be nominated as mother of the year. Chloe just has a 4 year old version of the same cold, so she's currently lounging on the couch watching her new Barbie movie, missing preschool.
I am missing grocery shopping. But, I didn't really want to go out in the snow anyway. I'll figure a way to get it done before the day is over.
And then there's scrapbooking. You may remember this sad picture of Sophia. I just loved it. Melted my heart. So, I put it on a page. The scan of the picture doesn't show up very wonderfully, so do check out the above link.
Finally, if anyone can tell me exactly what the title of this blog post is inspired by, I will do something special for you. A surprise. :)
Friday, April 20, 2007
My sister-in-law came over today to scrap and here are the fruits of my labors:
Jumprope, a new personal favorite.
Surprise Shower. A response to the ad inspiration challenge over at 2Peas.
Love you a lot. Actually created from a blog post I wrote several months ago. Slightly crooked scan.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Being musicians, of course we couldn't pass them up. Very interesting.
First test we took was the "Tone deafness Test" You hear a musical phrase, then you hear it again. You need to decide if the second phrase stayed the same or if it was slightly changed from the first. The little blurb up at the top says, "Even excellent musicians rarely get above 80% correct..." but I scored 86.7%. I am officially not tone deaf. And I am officially an "excellent musician." And, I officially scored higher than Joel on this one, and that's all I'll say about that.
The second test is the "Rhythm deafness Test" Very similar to the first one, except you are listening to drum riffs instead of musical phrases. I felt it was much harder, and sure enough, I only scored 72% on this particular test. Joel scored exactly the same, although we missed different questions. What can I say? We are not percussionists.
Finally, we took the "Pitch deafness Test" In this test, you hear two pitches and you need to decide if the second pitch was higher or lower than the first. Seems easy enough, except they keep putting the pitches closer and closer together (I'm talking microtones here, people) until you are just not sure about it. I have always known I don't have the best ear for this kind of thing, and it has been my struggle as a musician. I have had a severe high frequency hearing loss in my left ear pretty much my whole life, so it makes it really difficult for me. With that it mind, I thought I did pretty well. I scored 1.5 HZ, which is in the 85th percentile. Mr. practically perfect pitch Joel, on the other hand, scored something like .0325 HZ, which is basically amazing.
So, my musical friends (and non-musical friends, too), have some fun wasting a little time on the internet and see just how great your ear is.
It's fun, so it's not a total waste....right?
And post your scores here...I totally want to see. :)
Monday, April 16, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
So, here goes:
1. I can pick up things with my toes. This talent comes in handy as a busy mom who is often carting a baby around.
2. While I am going throughout my day I often narrate it in third person, like a novel: "She was so exhuasted from the day that all she wanted to do was sleep. But the laundry awaited her...and so did the dishes. She would have to get those finished before she could even entertain the thought of lying down..." Hey, I didn't say it was an interesting novel.
3. I love to eat double stuff mint oreos. That isn't strange in and of itself, but when I eat them, I have to eat them in threes. First I eat all 6 of the chocolate cookies and then I take the 3 frosting middle parts, stack them together and savor them. Yum.
4. I am extremely ticky about how the dishwasher is loaded. I appreciate when Joel loads it, but if he doesn't run it before I get to it I will rearrange it.
5. I have a weird phobia of talking on the phone. I hate it. I will do it if it's my husband or my mom without a problem. Everyone else I will put off calling for days, or better yet, email. Even if you are my best friend. Sorry.
6. I am fluent in Romanian. (I'm starting to grasp at straws here...)
7. I have such a big mouth that I can stick my entire fist in it.
8. I am terrified of losing things. Maybe terrified isn't quite the right word, but if I lose something I will totally freak out. Even if I find it in 5 minutes. Joel makes fun of me that I immediately have a panic attack as soon as I realize something has gone missing. He is right to do so, unless it's one of our children.
9. I will not eat meat and fruit together. That means no pineapple and Canadian Bacon on my pizza. No special applesauce on my ham, no matter how gourmet it is. No gooseberry sauce on my salmon. And definitely no cranberry sauce on my turkey. Yuck!
10. I don't like watching TV because most shows can't hold my attention for very long. I end up wandering around the house doing other things. The internet is a time waster that is much more suited to my personality as I can just hop from site to site and never get bored.
There you have it. My ten oddities. You all have some wonderful blackmail material on me now.
And, at the very least, you now know why I never call you.
Friday, April 13, 2007
I also realized that as difficult as it is for me, I need to impose some sort of better schedule on myself. Nothing major, as I don't like having all of those restrictions, but enough to help my day go a little better. One of the things I wrote into my schedule is a creative hour. From 11:00-12:00 most mornings I will do something creative. Scrapbook. Paint. Read. Refinish some furniture. Go out and make photographs. Something. I am happier when I let myself do this.
So, today I scrapbooked. Decided to do last year's Easter pics which were really awful. Sophia spent the time either playing around my feet or on my lap trying to get any scrapbook item that was within her reach. Chloe spent the time on a chair next to me just watching and drawing on some scrap papers.
When I finished the layout, I went to the computer to scan it and upload it to 2Peas since it was created in response to a challenge there. Right as I sat down I received an email. I saw it was from Elisha Snow. I saw it said Congratulations...your layouts. I freaked out.
Because I know who Elisha is. She's an editor for Simple Scrapbooks. And it said layouts. Plural. They wanted more than one of my layouts for an upcoming special issue. And suddenly I was dancing around the house in the best mood I've been in for a while.
See, I've taken a break for the last year or so from submitting layouts. I just couldn't handle it...could barely scrapbook with my horrid pregnancy anyway. Then with the baby and the out of state move and the resulting stressful life here in Cedar, the scrapbook part of my life just kind of faded into the background. Hall of Fame got me scrapping again, and of course submitting.
But I've been feeling very mediocre. Not just as a scrapper, but in everything I attempt to do. My new camera has frustrated me more than anything as I realize I have a lot to learn about digital photography. So I have been feeling like a horrid photographer when I used to think I was pretty okay. I've been feeling like a mediocre voice teacher, mother, YW leader, housekeeper, and everything else that I attempt to do. Really being quite hard on myself. (Which, funny enough, is totally the topic of one of the layouts that got picked up.)
Somehow, receiving a call for some layouts just turned all of that around. Mostly just made me realize how silly I'm being. How much I just need to relax and keep doing what I'm doing. Perhaps I need to step it all up a notch, but mostly I'm on the right track. I've realized I'm just tired and overwhelmed. And I need to stop eating like crap.
So thank you for all of your help on the last post. You are a very wise internet.
And I am doing okay.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Personally, I hated the idea. I mean, don't get me wrong, Ali E. is a very inspiring person and I like her just as much as the next scrapper. But the semantics just didn't work for me.
Resolve. Now that is a good word. It speaks of determination. A goal that you will achieve no matter what obstacle is placed before you.
Intend. Also a great word, but not one I would label with the word determination. Desire, yes. Determination? Not quite.
I mean, I already intend to be perfect. I don't really need to write down all my intentions as goals. I am bursting with good intentions. Like right now, I intend to clean my kitchen, scrapbook, be a loving and patient mother, vacuum the house, read to Chloe, bathe the baby, upload some pictures to be printed, read my scriptures, exercise, eat right, work on my canvases for the girls' room and another hundred different little things. I also intend to someday write a book, win Hall of Fame, become an amazing photographer, knit myself a sweater and backpack Europe. I have not actually resolved to do any of them, unfortunately.
Due to this lack of resolve, most of my intentions probably won't actually happen. I fully admit how easily sidetracked I am, patience isn't a virtue I claim to have, and I am sitting here blogging about it instead of getting up and making all of those intentions a reality.
I often wonder how I can make the change from intention to resolution. Because when I actually resolve to do something, I can do it. I will do it. Nothing will stop me from doing it. I just don't resolve as often as I probably should. Heck, even my New Year's Resolution this year was a little weefy...mostly because I haven't been in a resolved mindset since Sophia was born. More like a just survive the day kind of mindset.
Which is okay...I just think I'm ready to really resolve. But, I don't know how. Because I am amazing and can achieve very lofty goals, if only in my mind. The problem is, I am out of practice in getting those goals and intentions down on real paper and really working on them.
So, internet, what do you do? Give me some suggestions on how I can make this essential paradigm shift. I want to come back to this post later today with lots of ideas. Lots of experiences. Please, please, please add yours.
I intend to get at least 15 helpful comments on this post.
And I resolve to go do the dishes.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I don't think either of my other two babies were quite this curious. I mean, Chloe managed to crawl around and eat those awful little black beetles that were all over the place in Arizona. I used to find them in her diaper. Totally gross...and especially funny since this is the little girl who freaks out if she sees a fly, and if it's a spider you'd think someone just tried to kill her. Bria, who was quite ahead developmentally, did not grab at things for a long time. I remember worrying that something was wrong with her, even though she was doing everything else ahead of schedule. I think other things just interested her...she never did bat at things. Once she decided she wanted to, she was completely able to just pick it up and play with it.
Sophia is a completely different story. She can't quite crawl yet, but she's getting around okay with her fancy little army crawl. For such a tiny person, she sure can get into a lot of stuff. She likes to go find our CD collection and she has even been able to open the jewel cases and get the discs out. She finds all manner of crumbs and crud on the floor, even though I've been trying to vacuum more often with her newfound mobility. She loves it when I scrapbook, and no matter how many toys I get out for her she always manages to get herself to the taboo items such as paper and stickers. And she loves finding paper more than anything...so much fun for her little hands to crumple.
On Easter Sunday, she found the best prize ever. One of the older kids left some chocolate candy on the floor. Sophia was scooting around, happily playing with toys and bits of stuff she found under the couch, when she must have come across it. I think it had probably been unwrapped...at least I hope it was...
...Because this is what she looked like when I discovered her discovery:
No wonder she was so happy!!! Chocolate will do that.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Both Bria and Chloe like to choose how they dress, but Bria is especially concerned with wearing things that she likes. I can't even buy her clothes anymore without her there because she will probably hate them. She has a definite style and will probably grow up to be a fashion designer. Anyway, I usually try to be laid back about stuff like that and let them be fairly independent about what they wear, within reason. As long as they're clean and mostly match, I'm not going to gripe about a hair ribbon being a crazy color, or shoes not quite being the right ones.
Except on Sunday. I'm pretty strict about how they look on Sunday, and we often have battles of epic proportion at our house before church starts over hair bows, tights & shoes that don't match and favorite dresses that are now too small or were never intended for church going in the first place.
When I asked Bria to please change her shoes and put her white sandals on, I was expecting the start of World War 3. I even saw the beginnings of it flash across her face as she thought about stomping her foot and yelling.
But it never happened. Instead, she took a deep breath, looked at Sophie and said,
"It's easier to be a baby. When you're a baby you don't get all cranky about the clothes your mom makes you wear."
With that, she went to her closet and changed her shoes.
Friday, April 06, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I told her that the only way we know a concept is internalized is by doing just that: performing under pressure. In situations that are easy, such as practice and lessons, we can feel successful at learning and applying new concepts. It is only once we are out of our comfort zone that we can see the real progress we've made.
Then last night Joel and I were reading in Ether 12 about how the Lord will show us our weaknesses and help us make them into strengths. We were discussing how this process happens, and I thought of the discussion I'd had earlier with my student and how it applies to all aspects of life.
If I am working on a weakness how can I truly change it to a strength if I am never put into situations which exploit that particular weakness? For purposes of this blog, let's just say that one of my weaknesses is yelling at my children. If everything in my life is all hunky dory, and my children are acting like the angels I know they are, and I do not have outside stressors affecting my mood, of course I will not yell at my children. And I will feel like I have overcome my weakness and think life is great. But I shouldn't. I can't gauge myself on the easy times. No, I have to wait for a day when the house is a mess, Joel isn't around to help, the baby is sick, the older girls are driving me nuts arguing with each other, I have low blood sugar, and I have to teach 3 lessons. Now, if I make it through that day without yelling at my kids, then I can justifiably say that I have improved.
I get a little bit angry with God sometimes...especially after one of those days. It seems like when I pray for help in overcoming one of my many weaknesses I get hit with plenty of opportunities to demonstrate strength in that particular area. And then, when I fail miserably, I blame God. I wonder why He didn't help me not yell at my kids or eat right or be more motivated or whatever it is I had asked for help with that day.
It just dawned on me yesterday that what I am really asking for is a perfect day. One in which I do not have to face temptation of any kind. And how, I ask, is that supposed to make my weakness into strength? Plain and simple, it won't. And more importantly, it can't. So when I ask for help to stay calm, cool, and collected today, He isn't going to just give me a smooth day where I could have stayed put together without His help. He's going to give me the opposition I need to practice my skills and truly turn that weakness into strength. And then He'll help me get through it if I let Him.
So, wow. I guess I should be thankful for all of my overstuffed days because I am being molded into a more perfect person. I have a very long way to go, but just having this epiphany will help me. I will hopefully recognize my trials as learning opportunities, stop and think before I react in difficult situations and be more determined to turn my myriad weaknesses into strengths.
Starting right now.
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
Bria had paper, Chloe had rock. Bria clearly won.
Upon hearing this news, Chloe immediately burst into dramatic tears and threw herself on the ottoman.
Bria stood by and watched as I tried to explain to Chloe that we can't always win and life isn't fair and all the stuff moms are supposed to teach their children in situations such as this.
Chloe, stubborn as she is, wasn't having any of it.
Finally, I looked up at Bria and heard her say, "Maybe we should do it again and this time I'll let Chloe win." Joel and I were shocked. This is the child who must win at all costs and drags her feet when asked to share. She definitely suffers from first child syndrome, to say the least.
It took several tries, but finally Bria played scissors and Chloe played rock. She even let Chloe have the pleasure of crushing her scissors. And most importantly, I could see that she felt extremely good about herself and the choice that she had made.
Hopefully this is the beginning of a new, more unselfish way of life. We'll see what happens when something more valuable than saying the opening prayer is at stake...like who should get the biggest cookie. That'll be the true test.
Monday, April 02, 2007
I won the scrapbook page contest at our local craft store. That of course feels very good, even if there weren't that many other entrants. I received a basket of supplies, some of which I may never use, but many of which I'm happy to have. I was especially excited about the Making Memories paint and flower stamps that were included. I have been holding off on my canvas project in the girls' room because I haven't been able to justify the purchase of new paint and flower stamps. The colors I got are the exact colors of the new comforters. What can I say? Somebody must really love me.
Here's the page I entered, it came from last year's Hall of Fame entry:
General Conference was this past weekend. Two days worth of feeling good that I always look forward to. I had to miss the first session because I was teaching in St. George, although I did catch the last talk. It was awesome to see the tabernacle rededicated. I loved that session, and all of the reminiscings of that beautiful building. I haven't yet decided which talk was my favorite, and I need to read the ones I missed...so perhaps I'll blog all about it at a later date.
And finally, because I think they're cute, and cute kids make everyone feel good, here are a few of the latest shots of my girls:
My personal favorite, a very sad Sophie:
Freckle faced Bria: