Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sneak Peek

I've had to sit on my hands all day to keep from posting my Christmas Card. You're all going to get it in the mail soon enough and I don't want to spoil the surprise.


I had a vision in my brain. Took the pictures. They rock, if I do say so myself. But then I needed my fabulous friend Hilary to help me with the rest since I am but a poor church mouse who can't afford Photoshop. And she just made my original vision rock that much more.

So, if you're on my mailing list, keep an eye out for it. Of course, I still need to tie Joel to the computer to write this year's letter. But it will be all sent soon enough. And I know you'll love it as much as I do.

For now, here is my second favorite picture. The one that didn't quite make the cut. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Something to remember when she's a teenager who hates me

Chloe never talks to me more than when we are driving to and from preschool. I think it is because Bria isn't there and she can actually say what she thinks without being constantly interrupted or corrected by her older sister. And, I'm a captive audience. Can't be too busy cleaning or feeding the baby while I'm just driving.

The other day on the way home from preschool, she melted my heart:

Mommy, I sink* I love you. Yep. I do. I love you on Tuesday. And I love you on Fursday*. And I love you on Saturday. And I love you at school time. And I love you last week. And I love you at church time. I just sink* I love you a lot!!

*Chloe can't pronounce her th sounds. It's so adorable.

Friday, November 17, 2006

On task

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At group violin lessons on Wednesday, the teacher asked all of the kids when they practiced. Nobody seemed to know, including my kids. She emphasized the importance of practice, said that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something and practicing ten minutes a day sometimes just isn't going to cut it. She told us that we all needed to have a time set aside for practicing each day. The same time each day, that is.

In the car on the way home I talked to Bria about practicing. It is often an issue at our house, as I am sure it is in many other houses. After hearing the teacher talk about it I realized it is my fault. A set time every day is wonderful, because you just know that is when you are going to play violin and there isn't any dragging away from other activities or (more likely) forgetting. The tantrums should subside and practicing should become a much more pleasant experience. We decided that waiting till after school or after dinner wasn't really working for us. We weren't practicing daily, and when we did practice, it wasn't nearly long enough.

So we are now practicing before school. That actually sounded really good to Bria because she likes to have fun when she comes home and I am usually really preoccupied with a million other things such as getting dinner ready, feeding the baby and keeping the peace. Luckilly, school doesn't start for her until 8:55 am and we live so close to the school that we don't really have to leave very early, especially if we drive.

Yesterday morning everything went quite smoothly, we practiced for 45 minutes, learned most of her new Christmas songs and got to school in time, even though I had to take her in my pajamas. And she did it happily. So happily that she even got her violin right out and played on her own volition when she came home from school. Added another half hour probably to her practice for the day.

But all that's just background for what I really wanted to talk about. This morning. Today Bria got up a little after 6:oo am. She got herself dressed...just came in to my room to ask if her outfit matched. She did her own hair in a ponytail. Just asked me to fix it a little bit. She got herself breakfast, and even got a bowl of cereal ready for Chloe. It was mushy by the time Chloe woke up to eat it, but still. The kid cut out box tops for education off the cereal boxes and got them all ready to take with her to school. She brushed her teeth, got her shoes and socks on and even put her glasses on, all three of which I usually have to remind her to do. Then, still before 7:00 she got out her violin and started practicing. I came out to help her a little later, played the piano for her until around 8:00 and then I had to get ready since I worked this morning. She played and played until it was time to go. That's almost two hours of violin practice, folks. She only got annoyed (mad) at me once for correcting her fingering, and as it turns out, her fingering was actually correct. I realized it wasn't sounding right because her E string had gone way flat. Probably from practicing so much. After I re-tuned for her, all was well...she played every song she knows more than once and worked on learning her new Christmas ones.

All I have to say is WOW. I hope this lasts.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Just a jumble of thoughts

On Wednesday afternoon, while I was teaching my voice lessons at SUU, I found out that one of my students had taken her own life and was discovered the night before. Of course, this shocked and saddened me greatly and I have not been able to get it out of my mind since. I've heard of people committing suicide, but I have never had it happen to someone with whom I interacted on a regular basis.

My first thoughts were about how incredibly selfish it is to kill one's self. What about the roommate that discovers the body? What about parents, friends and loved ones? What about all of the many things that can be done for others instead of being so concerned about personal well-being?

But then I started to think about how that might not necessarily be the case. I have no idea what a horrible, dark place a person would have to be in to disregard the feelings of those that love them in such a way. I cannot imagine what kinds of emotions and experiences would lead to such an act of desperation. I can't fathom a single event that would make a person decide that the only solution is to end it all. And while I'm glad I don't know, I am upset to know that someone somewhat close to me did understand and feel these things. We just can't judge.

Which leads me to wonder if anything I did or didn't do as her teacher may have contributed. Logically, I know it probably didn't. I was her teacher, and my assignment was to teach her to sing well, and that's what I did. I try not to get involved in the personal lives of my students, as that is inappropriate. I know I did my job well with her...she had improved much in just the 2 months I'd been working with her. She seemed happy and excited about her progress. Although I was aware of some of her self image issues because I require my students to look in the mirror a lot, I didn't focus on them or feel it was my place to help her. I hope I made the right decision. I did care about her well-being and I hope she knew that. I thought she was a wonderful person and I truly enjoyed working with her.

And now every time I look at one of my own children I think of her poor parents. The questions they must be asking themselves. Or maybe they were more aware of things and it didn't come as a surprise. I just don't know. But I look at my baby and think of how my student was once a tiny, helpless baby. One that her parents loved and cared for. They had dreams for her, just as I do for all my children.

I want to do all I can to make sure my children are happy, well-adjusted people. To cultivate a self-worth within them that no outside influences can shatter. I want them to know that they are special...that they have so much to offer and that their small actions can go far to change the world. I wonder if I'm doing a very good job of it. I wonder how much I really can do and what I just have to leave up to them to do. I love them so much and really, my main goals in this life are to see them be happy and successful individuals. To help them to reach any goal they might have.

I apologize for the somewhat dreary post today...this experience has affected me quite a bit. I haven't yet been able to go about my life normally, not thinking of her and many of the details of the situation. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

All Hallow's Eve

First we carved our pumpkins in the half hour of time Joel had between Bria getting home from school and running to teach the Jazz Band at SUU.

Chloe didn't want hers carved...she just wanted to draw a face on it and leave it at that. Good thing, since her pumpkin was moldy anyway. She got it at the pumpkin patch 3 weeks earlier during her preschool field trip.

Then we got costumes on and headed to the trunk or treat/Church Halloween carnival.

Sophia was a baby pumpkin. An adorable one at that.

Bria was a freckled fairy. She said she was the tooth fairy since she has no teeth. :)

And Chloe was a witch...a very cranky one. This is one of the few pictures in which she looks pleasant...oh well...that's what witches do. They scowl.

Hope you all had a Happy Halloween!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Artist in training

So, as I mentioned in my last entry (which seems like a year ago...sorry for the blog neglect!), Chloe loves to draw. It isn't just a small daily activity that she grows quickly tired of doing, either. The child draws all day long. All. Day. Long.

There is paper with her artwork strewn all over the living room, her "art" table, her bedroom and the car at all times. I am fairly sure she is doing her part in contributing to the extinction of the tropical rain forests. She mostly likes to use computer paper, even though I try to steer her to the 8 packages of leftover notebook paper I have from college (Joel wouldn't use Chloe won't). Not only does she insist on blank paper with no "stripes," she usually has to fold it up in quarters and staple (she says stapple) it together. Along with the paper mess everywhere there are markers, pens and crayons all over the place, too.

The picture you see up there is one she drew today of a butterfly and a cat(erpillar). Yep, she thought of that all on her own. And I promise that she's only three and a half. I also promise that she did all this work on her help from me at all. You can see that she also wrote her name. The thing with her name, is that she refuses to write the letters in the correct order. In fact, she likes variety, so some days she is CHLEO, other times she is OLCHE, and she has even been HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit). Sometimes she actually does put them in the right order, and other times she chooses to leave out some in above, she didn't want to draw the L. I guess it has to remain artistic...can't be the same old boring name all the time.

I've realized that she has immense talent...realized that a long time ago when she was barely 18 months old and drawing tiny little circles everywhere (including her legs and arms) all the time. (You can see an example/scrapbook layout of this by clicking here) So I've started to help her along with this gift she has, to train her, you could say. I noticed that she would occasionally ask me to draw things for her, like a cat or a house. Then, she would go on a cat kick, or a house kick...and her pictures would be a pretty good version of mine, eventually. So I started to just draw more difficult pictures for her and watch what happens. I only started this in the last few days, but she is already drawing some of those things, and quite well.

Bria still draws a few things better than Chloe, but Chloe is actually a much better artist. Especially if you compare Bria's 3 year old work to Chloe's. That's okay though, Bria has her own gifts and music. They had a violin concert the other night and Bria did an amazing job playing (it was a group concert...kind of like an orchestra). Chloe, on the other hand, stood there picking her nose, scratching her behind and watching everyone else play. She didn't even bring her violin out of rest position. Bria may be the musician, but Chloe's the Artista around the Neves home.