Friday, September 25, 2015

Almost as Good as a Wild Turkey

Sometimes you get wild turkeys and sometimes you get a silly song.

Yesterday Mary got out of the car singing, which is not unusual. But, the little guys in my brain started perking up because there was familiarity I couldn't put my finger on. One more phrase and I was singing along and I knew all the words. The little guys were simultaneously furiously going through the file cabinets behind my eyebrows looking for the sheet music or something to turn the light on.

And all at once I heard my Dad's voice coming out of that little blond haired girl's mouth.




It was a song from my Dad's barbershop quartet days. Yes, there is a sub-culture of barbershop quartet competitors. And my Dad belonged. And as Dr. Suzuki reminds us--we learn the language we grow up with.

Okay, it was like a DNA thing.

And it was such a damn happy song. . . I had to keep singing along.

Hey Look Me Over

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

For Stacey

Yesterday was my sister's birthday, and we lost our cousin, Stacey.

Indulge me to imagine my Grandpa Gene greeting her with a big hand shake that turns to a hug carrying a huge bag of animal crackers, and Grandma Ethel waiting with scissors to give her a heavenly haircut. They'll put on a pot of coffee and start the eternal catching up at the kitchen table.

My Dad will take a break from singing and turkey hunting to tease her and he'll come up with some off color pun about the volatility of pancreases. They don't make'm like they used to--or something to make you look down and shake your head.

There's no fixing this for those that remain. But I do believe that Stacey's life here is but a speck on her canvas. Knowing her, and her heart, she will make sure that everyone down here that loves her is well taken care of.

I'm gonna be watching for the turkeys today. And I know that everything will be okay.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Good, the Bad, and the Routine

Mary's Handiwork

Last Meditation of the Summer 

Mary is a Safety Patrol

I love this. 

They can make it hard to sleep in on Saturday mornings. 

Prayer Tree One Year Older

In this photo they are actually eating weeds.  Good job deers. 

You go near that pine tree and I'm gonna turn the hoses on ya. 
We are two weeks into the routine.
It's working pretty good.  Everyone is getting almost enough sleep.
It might even be better than last year.

I'm getting up at 5:30 a.m. I get my contacts in and brush teeth and stuff (coffee). Then I have 15 minutes to watch the morning star and do any kind of prayer, meditation, or devotion. It can be anything but working the list. The list has to wait. This is just another form of securing my own oxygen mask. So far I'm still breathing.

At 6:00 Calvin and I practice. At 6:30 I get his lunch and he showers and Bill gets breakfasts. 6:45-7:15, Mary and I practice. Bill and Calvin leave at 7:00 for high school, and after Bill drops the boy he's been able to go for a swim at the gym, which is very good for him, then he goes on to work. I get Mary to school at 8:00. I get home and THEN start working the list. The kids finish their practicing with or without me at some point during the evening.

Yes, it might be the best ever.

Mary gets to be patrol for Preston. That's so nice. Preston is my kindergarten student who can't see. Occasionally Mary doesn't hear, so this is a great combination. (That's a joke, Mary.)
Mary's playing clarinet. That's pretty nice too.

Calvin has marching band ahoy. I'm embracing the stadium bench. If you are a classical pianist and you haven't been to a marching band competition you will be amazed. You will be amazed by a stadium of people completely focused upon the delicately choreographed and amazingly produced three-ring-circus you behold. Instead of listening out the soundboard you are listening to 100 yards of woodwinds, brass, and percussion. I thought I would be polite and wait to find a seat with Maggie, to wait till the other school's band was done. Ok. Not even a choice. It was roped off. They don't even rope you out at Orchestra Hall. So we waited and they let us up the bleachers after Farmington High finished. Dare I say, marching band snobs?

It's all good.
Well, it's mostly good.

My cousin is at the end of her battle with pancreatic cancer. She gave a good fight but at least in my family we all knew how this story was gonna end. It feels a little like we already gave to that war. My heart is broken for my Aunt Kathy, Stacey's son Mike, and the whole Stephens' clan. Stacey has always been a firecracker and it's not fair and we can all say without censorship how terribly the whole thing sucks. There is no bright side about what a great example of faith she is and how her positive spirit inspired the rest of us (though those things are true). It's not good enough and sometimes you just have to chalk it up to just really sucking. Stacey as you sleep peacefully and hopefully pain free, we just bask in that place where the veil is so thin and perhaps we catch a glimpse of those angels coming and Gene and Ethel and my dad and all those who will welcome you into that glorious day. Never is there more love, than now. Peace.

In accordance with the routine. It's time for me to keep moving and do some lesson plans for this afternoon. The piano kids are wonderful. I'm overbooked and over blessed. And just a little bit over-meetinged.

Here's to the routine and the hint of Fall in the air. Sending love to Arizona and Texas and Iowa. Peace be with you all.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sunrise, Sunset

Eastview High School here he comes!

Fifth Grade is a good grade. 
Sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset. . . swiftly go the years.

And we're up with the sunrise again. I just started sleeping till 7:00 a.m. last week. Anyway.

Was I the only one sniffling all the way to drop-off? Yes, cartwheels later, but at that moment. . . I love my kids but if you know them you know they are gifted verbally and lets just say, I may have had enough at the moment. As Maggie would say, it's time to get in the routine.

Not dropping Calvin at the neighborhood school this morning was like a swift kick in the tummy. And even Mary, this the last of ten years at our little Deerwood Elementary.

Two words. High School.

Last night Calvin improvised off and on at the piano for a good hour. This is how we process the night before high school starts energy. What more could you ask for, music as a way to process life.

I got up early and settled myself. This is my goal this year--to get up even ten minutes before I need to and pray/meditate/breath before the chaos day starts. These are the years we have. Do I want to go through the precious morning hours like a crabby strung-out mama? Or, saying--this is the hour I have with my kids?

High school starts earlier. That robs us of Calvin's morning practice. So we are trying to split the difference. In the morning Calvin will do a half hour then Mary and they both finish in the evening.

Having big kids is fun. But different. Even last year we didn't have a babysitter while I was teaching. Now she's called a chauffeur. When the kids are home while I'm teaching, they are doing what we labeled "self-sitting." I'm paying them a small hourly rate and in exchange I get to leave them a large list of tasks including setting table and some dinner prep, tidying rooms and bath rooms and folding or putting away their laundry.  This worked super last year and we will continue but I'm gonna try to milk it and add cat and bunny litter this year. Let's see how much I can get away with.

Big kids are different at the piano too. I'm still sitting with both kids for the most part, but that's two hours a day and I need to reclaim a little of that time. I've started giving Calvin specific assignments to do on his own and you know, it makes sense because much of practicing advanced repertoire is just doing the work. So, I'm hoping to fold some laundry in the evenings while I listen and pop in and out for feedback.

Same goes for my advanced students. More than one mom has told me they are ready to cut the rope. It's time. Those adolescent kids need to be accountable to ME this Fall. Moms have enough on their plate with school and life and shall we say. . . attitude? And these are good kids. One of my focuses this Fall will be kicking my high school kids in the butt. With love. Didn't you know that's one of Dr. Suzuki's lesser known quotes? To kick in the butt with love?

The littles? I'm starting six of them. Three to five year olds. They are so cute and everything seems so clear. Not that they don't suck the life out of you too--littles take exponential energy.  As Caroline Fraser tells us, "the children were focused because the teacher was focused." You stop to look for a pencil and it's all over man.

I've made some updates to my studio. A new TV to watch videos. New shelves. New closet stuff. And I'm putting my life on google docs this Fall. Every family is getting a folder and all my lesson notes and invoices and repertoire planning are going there and I'll share with the parent and student and they can access their goal online at any moment. No more miscommunication about assignments. I have wi-fi in the studio and they can follow along there and at home. Parents will still take their own notes, but they will also see my notes as well. I'm excited about that.

Speaking of google, all the SAM stuff is going there too. It's already started but every meeting agenda is archived right there in our SAM site. Everyone on the board has access to all the files all the time. I love it.

I have to keep moving. These days every hour is accounted for. When the Bible said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" I don't think we were supposed to take the "all things" part quite so literally, but the damage is done, so now it's time to do the work set before us intentionally and mindfully with peace and love.

It's the first hour without the kids. . . I'm entitled to a little hope of a utopian year.

God bless you all on this first day of the new school year--and help us to be there through these sunrises and sunsets that so swiftly pass.  Amen.