Monday, October 31, 2016

Calvin's Confirmation

Sunday was reformation Sunday and it was also Calvin's confirmation service. It was a very lovely service. Our church had 80 confirmands and about 30 were confirmed in Calvin's service. The choir sang and at one point in the service all the people of each child were invited to come up and lay hands on him or her while the pastor offered up a personal individual prayer. Thank you, Pastor Kris, for your love of Calvin and everyone there.

One thing about being Lutheran, our faith tends to be a slow and steady burn. Like the coals in a campfire. There isn't always a burst of flame, like a born-again moment. Each person's faith evolves over time and works itself out. Still, these landmark occasions are important and special.  There isn't very much I'd rather be doing than celebrating the faith of my kid.

If there was a born again moment perhaps it was farther back. . . I don't know.  In 2008 I visited the little Catholic church, St. Michaels, in Z├íhori Village, where my great, great, great, great, great, great--well I don't know how many greats--grandparents worshipped and took communion in the Czech Republic. My mom and my sister and I took communion there at that same ancient rail. I felt the true meaning of the communion of saints. Generation to generation.

Calvin had eight great grandparents and four grandparents with a legacy of strong faith. He has two parents with strong faith. Aunts. A sister. A cousin. Pastors. A church. He has a cloud of witnesses, that is for sure.

God bless you Calvin, today and always.  Let your light shine. You are a blessing to me, to Daddy, to Mary, and to so many people!

Here are Calvin's verses:

Jeremiah 29:11
For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.

Phillippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

And here is Calvin's prayer:

Dear God, thank you for the divine giftss of life and faith and for the people around me that help me develop these gifts. Help me to live my life to the fullest, according to your plan for me. Let me always bring joy to those around me and guide me as I continue on my journey of faith. Amen. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

S.A.M. Workshop Weekend 2016

Creative Ability Deveopment in Action


My Honors Recital Kiddos 

A Moment at the Tour Group Recital 

Rhythm Machine

The little ones in class

SAM's Creative Ability Development Trainees-- minus me

A selfie of the trainees and Alice

Part of the workshop committee and Alice
Last night I slept for eight full hours. This morning I consumed a reasonable amount of caffeine. I went to yoga and had something healthy for breakfast, as opposed to a pumpkin waffle with whipped cream, brown sugar, pecans and maple syrup.

I'm doing all these healthy things again because the workshop is over.

We had an amazing, amazing weekend. Our guest clinician Alice Kay Kanack, arrived Thursday night. We did teacher training in Creative Ability Development on Friday. We went to dinner Friday night. We had 41 kids and 30 teachers at the workshop on Saturday. All the kids got a mini institute. They got a masterclass, a group lesson, an origami class while parents soaked up info from Alice, and each child got an improvisation class with Alice. We had our annual SAM meeting.

We had a lovely faculty and student honors recital after lunch, and a creative ability development concert at the close of the day.

Here's the story. Creative ability development uses improvisation, but that's not the total deal. The end goal is kids and adults using both sides of their brains to meet their potential.

Alice has a music school in Rochester, New York. It's a whole program. Her kids are graduating to conservatory and music school, but also doing amazing work in everything they do. Great doctors. Creative lawyers. It's undocumented but fabulous success.

A bunch of those kids came from New York and a sister program in Chicago, to show us what it's all about. It's everything Shinichi Suzuki wanted. Good kids with good hearts playing expressively with good tone and good intonation. Connecting together with music, through improvisation. Their whole hour concert was improvised.

The kids stayed for pizza and what else? A brief trip to Nickelodeon Universe at the MOA. Thank you to the families who hosted them!

On Sunday, we continued our teacher training with Alice.

We all got a wealth of experience and ideas to take back to our studios. I also got 17 new friends. Well--to be honest a few were already friends--but you can't sit in a room with your instrument and go round and round the room doing improvisation exercises for ten hours without gaining some love and trust. We were all on the high wire. Alice's rules? There's no such thing as a mistake, applaud everyone and be quiet for everyone, and never criticize a friend.

There's no way to completely say thanks to everyone, but here's my best shot:

Cindy Uhlemann --Workshop Chairperson--my best friend during workshop season. She gives and gives and gives.
MJ Glawe --  all the website info and the registration tool. All the email blasts and communication, the poster and registration desk.
Carolyn Borgan -- checks for clinicians and food and everything.
Beatriz Aguerrevere -- the amazing workshop program--the booklet with EVERTHING! (My dream).
Cherie Bjur --day of registration checklists and name tags--totally pro and clear and wonderful.
Randi Kvam Hellman and Jill Thomas --food, food, and more food.  And coffee and God bless you, half and half. They planned all the food.
Meredith Vaughan--staffing the volunteers in her usual fashion.

Karen Stiles, Mary Gustafson, Cheryl Mahin, and Jill Thomas for hosting kids. And waiting up for them and getting them to and from the airport and their rides.

Beth Turco and Linda Trygstad for judging the honors recital kids and providing such lovely feedback to all of the children.

Our clinicians: Alice Kay Kanack, Lisa Hirschmugl, Erika Blanco, Susan Crawford, Wendy Tangen-Foster, Suzanne Greer, Annette Lee, myself, Alan Johnston, and Adrianna O'Brien. Special thanks to Annette for accompanying the recital with late notice.  Pianists don't need accompanists so you can maybe see how I forgot about that. . .

Rochelle Mazze, Julia Bartsch, Jill Thomas and the origami helpers--you know who you are and you know what frogs you did or didn't practice making ahead of the class. We survived. I used to have an anxiety dream that I was playing a jury in front of the professors and I hadn't practiced enough. I now have the dream that I'm in a room with 40 kids and I have no idea how to fold a piece of green paper into a frog shape. I'm joking, it was a very fun hour. Which seemed like 20 hours.

Keyboards--thanks for bringing keyboards, Calvin, Mary G, Jill and Mary Kay O'Neil.
Calvin--for helping out with the keyboards and every other random thing on Saturday.
Adrianna and David Holmes for the loaner cellos.

A special thanks to Karen Stiles and of course Cindy, who stayed till the bitter end on Sunday. I have a special appreciation for folks who stay till the very last juice container is out of the fridge and every chair is stacked, every keyboard loaded and every room locked and the little half and halfs are collected and the miscellaneous stuff is all loaded into the car. We did it. Every last napkin and program.

It seems like people are always saying there is no growth without struggle. Alice preached it this weekend. We have to work out our own salvation. I'm not sure I can ever do another workshop like this again, but I must say I grew. Everything we do we learn--how to be organized, how to communicate with folks with different communication styles. A million ways we learn and grow. I'm sorry for the moments I was grouchy, but I think we did pretty darn good.

God bless everyone for their help and work to bring this weekend to our students and teachers. I have nothing but love, love and more love for this group. My kids loved it--I hope all the kids loved it. I loved it, I hope all the teachers loved it.

Amen. See you next year. I'm not even entertaining those little thoughts of who we should have and how things should go. . . really.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Teamwork and Anger Management

Calvin and Jessica at Homecoming

Three of the Littles

Big Foot Lodge in his final resting place 

Scott, Me, Stefanie and Kathryn at Stefani's Rehearsal Dinner

Origami training for the workshop leaders

The Entire Eastview Football team kneeling in prayer for an injured teammate

Calvin tapping off the band

A trip down memoriy lane

This girl turned 18 yesterday. Unbelievable. 

Baking in his jammies

Diggin ferns--LOVE this old photo--miss my grandma


Uncle Dave's way of picking apples, ahem, that's my husband up there. . . 2005?

Baby Mary. Her birthmark is all gone

Christmas 2004

Life is spinning by, isn't it?
My niece turned 18 yesterday. Her senior pictures are on Bill's camera, not on my computer yet. . . but this is not acceptable. She's actually just three and Bill and I are flying her back and forth from Texas.

My uncle turned 75 last weekend. That's 75 balloons.  75 candles. 75 years. We got to surprise him in Grundy Center, Iowa.

Today I'm missing my 30th high school class reunion. Read that and don't do the math and then forget about it.

Calvin is 6'1". This too is math that doesn't compute.

My studio is back to having a lot of little people. And babies in arms. Sweet.

We learn and learn and learn from our students, and one of the myriad things that I learned from these kids that are graduating from college and getting married is that there is no stopping time.

Part of enjoying the passage of time has a lot to do with managing our emotions. Part of being a grown up and a parent and maybe even a leader has a lot to do with managing one emotion in particular.


Seems kinda dramatic doesn't it?

But anger is the sneaky little guy that creeps into our interactions every day. Dr. Suzuki asks us to keep an anger graph. Track our anger. One of the fruits of the spirit is being slow to anger.

This means disciplining our kids without letting anger sneak in. Correct the behavior. Correct the behavior. Correct the behavior. Don't get sucked in. This is our job. To correct the behavior. Turn down the anger and turn up the consequences.

The other big tool for anger management is listening without reacting. This is one I work on everyday. Sometimes with the Suzuki Association of Minnesota. I confess, truly, when someone emails me a concern, my first reaction is often irritation. How could they complain about something when I've worked so hard on it? I'm sorry for the times when I shoot back a snarky email. And I have done that from time to time. When I'm being my best self, I just listen. And wait till the snark passes. Put us back on the same team. We are all on the same team.

I was feeling snarky at the football game. I'm not into high school football. Surprised? Friday night as Mary was reading her book in the stands and I was posting snarky things on Facebook waiting for the band to perform, Eastview scored a touchdown. After the cheering, it became apparent that an Eastview kid was down on the field. Without hesitation and with total unity, the entire team on the sidelines and those still on the field dropped to their knees to pray for that kid. I can't even write about this. Many of those jerseys joined hands. They stayed there until the kid was able to get up and walk off the field. A cloud of prayer.

We are all on the same team. I believe that this might be the single most important thing to remember in daily living. I'm on my kids' team. I'm on my husband's team. I'm on my studio's team. I'm on SAM's team.

Another friend has cancer. Curable. But it still sucks.
Life is too short. Kids grow up too fast.
We have to take care of our anger.
We are all on the same team.