Music of The Heart

I am the great grand-daughter of an orchestra president. It is but a small footnote in my family history, but one I am proud of. In his 10 year career he managed to bring an orchestra into the black, being one of the first symphonies in the United States to do so at the time. He searched for talent and expected his friends with money to contribute to the orchestra that lay at the heart of their city. The joy and art of music is unmatched. The joy of giving back to our communities can not be measured in any monetary way.

It is because of this history that I buy symphony tickets every year. They are a great built in date night, gift to give to others and girls night out. Being able to sit and enjoy a live orchestra is thrilling and peaceful at the same time and I look forward to picking out different concerts each year. The Christmas Pops concert is becoming a fun tradition for the Husband and I.

Music does to our minds and souls something so wondrous it is hard to explain. Every citizen of earth moves in time to her beat. What a privilege to learn of and appreciate music. What a duty to pass on to the next generation the value and importance of notes on a page.

I was given the chance to play violin in the 5th grade. The chance to learn, to push, to be a part of something. A performer upon a shared stage. I did not stick to strings as my sisters did, taking my hand at the clarinet and then the choir. I don’t consider myself musical per se but how my heart thrills to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Handel’s Messiah. I know and love these notes written long ago because I was taught and I had a chance to listen to music and appreciate it as a child. As so many arts and music programs are culled in favor of more lofty ideals of science and technology we must make it a priority to remember music, to teach our children to listen in a society filled with noise and distractions.

We are the guardians of the gift, the gift of an ability to listen and enjoy, just because. To revel in the joy of written note. Give your children a chance to hear music, whether Simon and Garfunkel or Mozart’s lullabies. Let them pause in the hectic frenzy of our busy days. Let them be still, dance and revel in what a gift we have in music. Being able to heal our divides, to unite our collective souls, to thrill in our tiny humanity, to be awed in how much is lost of our soul. Music reflects our humanity. Our need to be an audience, to be a player on the stage. Now more than ever music can unite what is divided, can teach us something of our past and future.

I encourage you to take 5 minutes. Sit still, or blast it in the car on your drive. Focus on nothing but the music, the beat, how it makes your heart feel.

Enjoy it for what it brings to you, a peace, a thrill, a momentarily lull from a crazy pace.

Happy listening and don’t forget to support your local music scene!

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I’m Back!

Its been a coon’s age. Why exactly do we say that? Note to self to do some research.
Life has been full throttle and then some. A combination of factors means that I haven’t written nearly at all in the last well almost half a year. One of my personal goals last year was a writer’s retreat, which didn’t happen. I’ve put it on the list again for this year and I am hopeful that even if it means locking myself into a hotel room overnight that I can finally get some writing done. I think I’m beginning to see why it takes people years to write a book.
In the meantime, our holiday season passed in a blink. It was hectic at times; however, I made a purposeful decision this year to say no to more activities. We spent time just sitting in the house by the fire, eating all the chocolate, playing all the Lego and in general being homebodies. The kids and I had 3 weeks off school which was glorious, they started to go stir crazy and I was reveling in not doing a daily lesson plan or trying to work through a Math worksheet with my oldest.
Here we are at the beginning of a new year. Full immersion back at school and I’m daydreaming of our field trips and things to do when the sun peeks out. Living in a place with mild winters is rather nice really, I mean I love snow, real foot deep snow, for about 2 weeks. Then I get cabin fever. All the kids have had this terrible cold (which has finally found me) and we haven’t been on our usual social circuit. The nice thing about homeschooling is that we can still get our schoolwork done. Finally in the last few days we’ve been out for a lovely hike and some time at the park. It does as much good for their soul as it does for mine.
Today I finally get a chance to write because my car is in the next town over getting a new battery so I’m bussing it up. The conversations happening around me are interesting to say the least. Quite a few university students and some commuters as well. Although I love to drive, it is very nice to just enjoy the scenery and people watch for a bit.
All this random gathering of thoughts to tell you all that, I’m back, my apologies for the absence and I hope to continue to be more consistent this year. It is always a goal to at least post 1x a month.
May your new year bring much joy and adventure, make time to get outside and spend time with those you love.

Summers End

Yes, yes, it isn’t officially fall yet. I love fall and I can’t wait. Summer is in fact beginning to run out, however, it has been one for the books.

The season of summer though. Wow. This year it was full of ups and downs and obviously no blogging, although some writing was done here and there. I have had so many thoughts or random topics to blog about but unfortunately a small person or household management, or just straight wanting to turn my brain off has prevented much blogging this summer.

We have been busy maxing our park time, camping with the family, playing in the pool and finding shells at the seashore. Oh and ice cream, all the ice cream. Basically it was all the things it should be (aside from almost 2 weeks trapped indoors due to wildfire smoke).

Oh and the Husband and I celebrated being married a decade with a whirlwind 9 day trip through Europe. Well Scotland, England and France to be precise. At some point I’ll need to write a whole separate blog post on the trip because I did bring a writing notebook and I did have moments of absolute silence in which to write. Hooray!

It’s officially September now so yesterday we opened up Bug’s 2nd grade curriculum (yay!) which made it pretty real. We won’t start until September 10th but she starts extracurricular activities next week. I already feel over scheduled, which I don’t like at all so we may have to pull back on some things, especially once swim starts again….oy…vey.

About a month ago I made a small list of things I wanted to do before Summer ran out. A family bucket list if you will. Truth be told, we had a great time just hanging in the backyard most days. Thankfully with homeschooling we still can fit in a few more adventures under the sun. I am so grateful that we get to begin another year of learning. I’m already buying so many books based on educational premise. As I look forward to the next few weeks and finishing the bucket list I’m also trying to look forward in the year and make more meaningful time to write.

Summer puts everything so off schedule, in a good way. Having a list was nice but I feel like this summer went so fast because I didn’t plan much family wise and the Husband and I were focused on our trip. Thankfully given our time away I had time to think about my goals and writing goals and think about what should change when we got back.

I had a goal this year to attend a writers retreat which doesn’t look like it will work at this point, however, I have decided to pick a chill weekend and go stay somewhere overnight. To meaningfully unplug, let the silence invade, and see if I can make some progress on any of my works in progress.

I hope that as Summer winds down for you, you allow yourself a moment or more to breathe, to look forward to a simple schedule in the fall and to take time for your personal goals. I think for me this means purposely (and often far in advance) carving out time to be creative and to put aside electronics and distractions and just observe the world around us as the seasons change.

May your fall be without lament and full of purpose!

The One Where I’m Over It

This school year is so so close to being done. As in this Friday I no longer have to get a sleepy daughter going in the morning, prod her to get dressed and brush teeth and start our school morning. I’m so glad because I am over it. Like a kid I see the summer approaching and I am wiggling in my chair with anticipation.

Its been a long year, !st grade aside, there has been a new sibling born, job stress, new activities to add in the mix and many, many celebrations and family events.

Best part of this year being over? Despite a slow start (and a somewhat doubtful husband) Bug is now reading merrily along. Just as I knew she would. She has picked up the beauty of reading and can now be found an hour after bedtime greedily devouring a book. By no means are we at a Herman Melville level yet but she is LOVING reading, which really is all you need.

The boys had a successful year at preschool. They made friends, participated in a talent show, made lots of art projects and walked many miles to and from school.

Despite taking at least a month off for the arrival of baby E, we have managed to finish before Summer breaks through. Hallelujah!

And what a summer! The only consistent thing on the schedule is a weekly 30 minute piano lesson which means we are FREEEEEE!

Kicking off the summer will be our annual family 4th of July BBQ. Shortly thereafter with much excitement, the husband and I embark on our 10th Anniversary trip. That’s right folks, its taken 10 years but for 10 days we will be enjoying each other’s company and having a conversation where no one ask for snacks. To say I’m looking forward to a full nights sleep or 7 and food I don’t have to cook would be an understatement.

To all of the teachers out there I think I finally get it. To all the parents out there, let’s try to live it up like the kids and embrace summer with all its crazy adventures.

Ciao for now!

Monday Monday

The sun has appeared at last. It isn’t a fluke. The glorious PNW is coming out in all her glory. The mountains are snow capped, the fields are filled with blooms and the waters are sparkling.

Spring has finally sprung.

Meanwhile, over here though we are reveling in it we are also still busy with school and life and the new baby (who is 4 months old now!).

Today despite Fuss having a spring cold we packed up and headed to the glorious blooms of spring tulips. Uncle Roe came along to herd the small ones and add to the general merriment of the day. First stop, coffee, always the coffee.

Everyone sated and happy (except baby E who hates the car seat) we headed out for a drive in the country and found ourselves parking the car at Roozengaarde. For $7 (kids 5 and under are free) we walked through the gates into a beautiful garden complete with picturesque windmill and rows upon rows of gorgeous tulips.

The kids loved looking at all the different colors, and the boys, lets face it, mostly liked the muddy paths. We took lots of pictures and baby E fell asleep in her carrier as it was just to much for her to take in.

Arriving home after much fresh air, my sweet brother in law hung with the kids for an hour so I could run errands ALONE (score!). Windows down and music up, sun shining almost felt like a vacation.

Post lunch the boys are watching a movie (because now Giddy has hopped on the sick train-despite being perfectly fine) and Bug and I are working on school work. Math is up next, not my favorite. Baby E is napping though which is nice. In about an hour when school is over for the day I will release them to the backyard and much opening and closing of the screen door will happen, along with numerous requests for snacks and swimsuits, etc.

It may be 57 degrees but here in the PNW Spring has sprung and we couldn’t be more excited.

Hope you all are enjoying this lovely time of year.

ta ta for now!

E

This Old House

Let me start this post by saying, my love of old houses is rather new. I grew up in a standard one story house on a block in a neighborhood. There was nothing extraordinary about it, save the fact that it contained my childhood and a whole heap of wonderful memories. The husband and I have moved so many times but it was always apartments, simple houses, etc. This last time we moved into an old town we also moved into an old house. This was partly because we needed more room for our family and the fact not much else was on the market.

We have lived in this 1920’s craftsman home for over 3 years, in the next year we will finally start looking for our forever home, but I felt I must put in writing all the wonderful things about this house, things which made me fall in love with old houses, and craftsman houses in particular.

I’m going to miss the pink glow of the sunrise basking the snowy Olympics (Olympic Mountains) as it rises in the East. The fiery sunsets over the farmland and the glisten of the river as it winds through the valley. Watching the sun cast its rays into every room in the house at different times, shadows dancing as entertainment for the wee ones.

I’ll miss the smell of wood smoke as cedar logs crackle in the Winter. The gathering around of the family by the fire to get cozy. The freezing feet popping out of bed onto the wood floor and rushing downstairs to the warm heart of the house, the kitchen. The old stove and the clock that buzzes gently within it, broken for who knows how long. The builders cupboards in the kitchen, an awful shade of mustard and often sticky, but housing all the plates and cups and bowls on which we eat each day. I’ll miss the door to the basement, which is mysterious and creepy to the littles, a curiosity when we take things down to storage that they want to explore.

I’ll miss the glorious built in drawers, the closets whose lights turn on when you open the doors. The bathroom door which traps people within, unless they know the secret technique of push and turn hard. The creaky stairs that are far to steep and echo the voices as we call to each other from upstairs and down.

I’ll miss the wide front porch, a greeting place for all our guests, the kids climbing on the wide rail to wave goodbye. The giant trees on the corner of the property which cast a shadow on the corner of the house yet still seem friendly. I’ll miss the kids sitting on the porch on the 4th of July with the flag waving and they waving alongside to all the passersby.

I’ll miss the Japanese maple in the backyard, which has been conquered as the easiest climbing tree, small feet dangling in triumph as they climb to its lofty yet small branches. The gate that sticks the more we use it each day, locking and unlocking as we go to school and swim and dance, never complaining of its excessive chore. The old cherry tree, which covers part of the yard in ripe cherries every year and blossoms so beautifully for a few weeks.

I’ll miss the corners of the house sloping down gently upstairs, folding the upper level in a hug and making it even more cozy in the kids small bedrooms. The large windows and oodles of natural light everywhere in the house. The window panes echoing a simpler time.

Most of all, I will miss the place that the boys will remember as their first house, the one they have always known. I will miss the milestones and memories that it contains. I content myself with knowing some day another family will live here, as countless have in the last 100 years, and they will fall in love with this old house as well.

To the places which hold our memories….a salute and thanks for keeping us warm and providing a background for years worth of memories.

 

Self Sufficiency

2 posts in one week! The sky is falling! Maybe its coming out of the newborn fog or just wanting something that I can do for me (besides running…counting the days) but here we go.

Self sufficiency. Something that can be taught, that some people naturally have and that unfortunately many people don’t think is a priority.

One of my great parenting challenges and goals is raising children who can think for themselves, but to take it further, are able to solve problems and do the work. It is so easy in this day and age to just buy something new or throw things out and start over. We live in an instant society and just as instantly things are thrown to the side or deleted as it were, to make room for better or newer.

Life skills that won’t leave my children sobbing by the side of the road because they can’t change a flat tire is what I’m aiming for. I’m so grateful I had parents who taught me to think for myself. I never felt defeatist, like just because I hadn’t done it before, I couldn’t do it. I was taught to try, try, try again until I got it. If not then okay, find another way. Persistence and self sufficiency go hand in hand. The people who make it are the people who refuse to give up, even if it takes 100 times to find the right way.

Think of all the things we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for these independent thinkers (the lightbulb anyone?). One of the things that I really enjoy about homeschooling is that Bug can try a different way if one doesn’t work for her. She isn’t being forced to put a square peg into a round hole, to think or do math one way, she can find what works for how she thinks and be even better at the skill she is working on.

Today I completely patted myself on the back because I did something totally outside my comfort zone. Last Friday getting out of the car while taking all the kids to the dentist I dropped my phone and shattered the screen on the pavement. Yay Fridays. A few people grimaced when I showed them my sweet tape job, “time for a new phone huh?”. Sure, yes I could have ordered a new phone, but it was only the screen that was broken. I ordered a new one while the kids were getting flossed and polished and it came today. Thanks to the genius of YouTube I painstakingly took my phone apart (including motherboard removal, I felt so techy). After a frustrating hour because I was simultaneously trying to get the kids to clean up the playroom I turned on the phone hoping it wasn’t horrifically damaged. Lo and behold it powered up fine and my new screen is glaringly shiny and wonderful. $20 later and I had solved an issue. Yes it took time and work but I did it! It might not seem like that big of a deal, but having a problem and solving it with a level head and patience is quite the mountain to summit.

Being able to take all kids out by myself, knowing how to connect jumper cables, do my own taxes or clear the storm drain (which is just neighborly really) makes me so thankful for the things I was taught and which I hope to teach.

It is so important to me to be able to pass on this ability to my kids. To fight through things that seem hard and learn important lessons.

So for all of you readers out there, next time you hit a bump in life, I encourage you to not give up. Try again, find another way and know that yes, you can do it and you are capable of learning new things and accomplishing goals.

Go get it!