Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Little Man

We attended a baptism of a friend's little boy. Hyrum is usually very social with everyone, complete strangers are his best friends....but tonight he was acting funny. He was a bit shy, making polite conversation, using his best manners, and sitting still. (Anyone who knows Hyrum knows that sitting still is not one of his best qualities.) I didn't realize why this sudden extra charm until I noticed that seated directly next to Hyrum, on the other side, were two beautiful teenage girls.

I caught Hyrum's eye as he was trying to figure out how to talk to these girls. He was so nervous! I've never seen him like this before. It was priceless to see this little man start to come out.

Hyrum pulled me down to his level and whispered in my ear, "Mom, being around pretty girls makes me jealous!"

"Jealous? What does 'jealous' mean Hyrum?"

"Jealous means....uh....I don't know....I just feel kind of.....nervous."

"It's okay, Hyrum. You can be nervous. You just remember to be yourself. You are a good boy!"

These girls were eating Hyrum up. He sat taller that night.

Monday, December 20, 2010


Emma and Eve playing their jazz duet "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

Our concert was NOT a disaster. In fact, it was really fun. There was only one accident...and unfortunately it involved Eve's cello. 5 minutes before the concert, someone tripped over her cello, landing it face down, bridge popped out and broken in 3 places.

It was a mad dash...I rush to Eve's cello, pick it up, and try to find all the pieces of broken bridge, 2 moms from the front row get down to help me look. Poor Eve looks heartbroken. I comfort her and take her cello off stage to try to piece it together.

Meanwhile, one of Eve's friends named Kyle (a violinist) and a bunch of other friends are surrounding Eve trying to tell her that it will be okay. I'm still working on the cello when I look up and Eve and all these kids are gone.

Kyle realized that there was another cello at the very top of the back stage storage closet. Somehow, all those kids hoist Kyle up and he retrieves the cello for Eve to use. Team effort, not just for sports.

This is one of the many reasons I love teaching orchestra...because it attracts such high quality kids. They really care about each other. They are friends outside of class and in. They have a place to belong.

Eve was smiling again....and I was able to balance/fix her cello just in time to start the concert.

The kids did great! The parents seemed pleased. The kids seemed really proud of themselves. Many teachers and the principal commented that this is the best the orchestra has ever sounded. I'd have to agree.

We celebrated our concert the next day by having a party before school. I brought donuts and chocolate milk. We had orchestra store, music, hula hoops, basketballs, scooter boards and a gym full of wild and crazy orchestra kids. Some of the teachers in earshot of our party poked their heads in and said, "Party on! You all worked so hard, you deserve to have fun."

Another perk of being a teacher is the great Christmas gifts. One sweet cello named Austin gave me a beautiful black and white musical patterned fleece blanket. Others gave chocolates, candies, lotions, candles.....and best of all, cards.

Here are a few: (spelling and grammar unedited)
"Thanks you for teaching the orchestra. I really liked practising with you...." Marcus

"Thank you for all the extra practice and help . Your a wonderful orchestra teacher."
Love Lauren

"Thank you for teaching me how to play my cello. You are a great teacher." Austin

And, my favorite:

"Thanks for all the help in Orchestra! I've had a great chance of showing my songs to the world." Bianca

Our very large orchestra will be even larger starting in January. I've had calls from 8 more parents informing me that their children will be starting with us when we begin again.


Monday, November 29, 2010

One More Reason to Love Elementary Orchestra

Ben had me listen to this day before our Orchestra Christmas Concert. I couldn't stop laughing.

Somehow I felt relief. I've been so occupied with thoughts of "Will we be ready for our concerts?" or "What if the violas revolt?" or "What if I'm tuning their instruments and someone's string breaks and they can't play?" "What if the parents don't think their students made enough progress to make it worth their time and tuition?"...."What if, what if, what if"....

I've done the best I can to help them prepare. Most of them have been practicing every day (Really!).They are all so excited to perform (most of them are performing for the first time ever)....

After listening to this music bite, I am reminded why I am a teacher...because I LOVE to watch my students learn and progress and develop a skill in something that is tricky. Even if our concert is not perfect, or even beautiful, I just have to look down at those beaming faces and know that it's all been worth it!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Gentle Autumn

I love the colors of autumn

The crisp apples and mountain air,

The tricks AND the treats (chocolate donuts are my favorite!)

Raking up falling leaves
and jumping in them.
Warming up after final garden chores.
Long walks with friends,

Take a deep breath and begin to relax....and yes, football season!

grace and charm,
Autumn is the ending of one adventure,

And the beginning of another.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

General Conference Traditions

Twice each year, we have the opportunity to hear the word of God from his leaders: the Prophets and Apostles. In our family, we look forward to the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, almost more than Christmas because of the peaceful feeling that enters our home, the traditions that accompany this special event, and the love and unity we feel towards members of the church all over the world.

On General Conference Sunday (and Saturday!) this is how we look.... much more relaxed...I had to beg the kids to get dressed....I don't bother asking Ben to get dressed...he makes it known that he will stay in his pj's all day.

In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin spoke to his people and taught them the things of God. His people gathered their families and pitched their tents with the door facing towards the king so they could hear him speak.

Building a tent is part of our tradition too!

Because we want our children to know and love the Prophets and Apostles, we try to make General Conference full of special traditions (some spiritual and others just fun)

Stringing Licorice with Froot-Loops for Bracelets

When all of the children were little, we tried to think of things that could keep them busy so we could listen, uninterrupted, to Conference. Now, even though a few of them are old enough to listen, they still enjoy some of these traditions.

Snuggling with Mom.
(This is one of the ONLY times Mom sits down during the daylight hours so it is a rare treat)

Each child picks their own jar of babyfood to eat as a treat... (more about this later)

Coloring Conference Bingo Cards

Who doesn't love a good game of bingo? Conference Bingo has the children listen for subjects that are featured on the bingo cards (prayer, scripture study, pioneers, family, temples....). I am always amazed at the things even Hyrum can understand about what is being taught by the Prophets and Apostles.

We all love President Monson, the Prophet!

When the babyfood is consumed, the jars are washed and filled with cream and salt.

The children then shake their jar until the cream becomes butter.

This usually takes awhile so it's a good activity to do while listening.

Voila! Butter and Buttermilk!

Silly and Spiritual traditions. Whatever it takes to build family memories and celebrate the two best times of the year....General Conference spring and autumn!

If you want to know what the Prophets and Apostles spoke about visit
and click on October General Conference

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nursery Terrorist

Mari dear, sweet and pure absolutely LOVES Nursery. (Who wouldn't love playing with toys, having snacks, singing fun songs and learning about Jesus).

Mari looks forward to Nursery every week. In fact, as soon as the closing prayer is said in Sacrament meeting she joyfully shouts "NURSERY" (With the same exuberance as if she were going to the 7-11 for a SLURPEE!)

During the week, she prays for her Nursery leaders and sings the songs she's learned.

Today, however, Nursery became a whole new experience...

I was in the hall at church, between classes when a child (one of Mari's friends named Carol) is carried out of Nursery screaming. The frantic nursery leader is holding a blood filled rag to her head. My first thought was, "What horrible child would do that to another child!".

Suddenly, my heart stopped. I raced to the Nursery classroom. "Did Mari do that to Carol?" I was truly expecting a, "No! Mari would never do that to someone...she is so nice and sweet!" BUT... all the Nursery leaders could do was nod their heads "YES"

I rushed in there...."I'm so sorry. She's been going through a hitting phase...we're trying to discipline her each time she does. I'll go put her in Time-Out right now.

Mari's Nursery leaders tried to tell me it was okay, kids fight over toys all the time...

They told me that Mari and Carol wanted the same toy and Mari grabbed it and whacked Carol on the head. They said it was a soft toy and no one could understand how it could've caused the puncture wound that was there. Even Carol's dad went in to examine the toy. No one could see what had caused the damage.

All I know is that poor Carol was bleeding and my child was responsible.

To make matters worse, Ben was in the Deacon's Quorum setting apart a new Presidency with Carol's brother being put in as the Secretary. Carol's dad was late in getting to the meeting because he was helping drive Carol and mom home. When Carol's dad arrived, he explained why he was late. Ben jokingly said, "It was probably Mari". Carol's dad said, "Actually it was."

After church, we went over to Carol's house to bring her some treats so Mari could apologize to Carol.

When Carol opened the door she happily said, "Hi Mari!" Mari handed her the treats and said, "I'm sorry Carol". Carol got a surprised look on her face and said, "Is this the kid that whacked me?" Mari gave her a hug and they were friends again.

Oh to be as forgiving as a child!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Fire of Testimony

About a week ago we were sitting on our porch enjoying the cool evening air when we saw smoke rising up in billowy puff against our west mountain. We thought it was probably a grass fire. We put the kids to bed and went for a walk around the block, not thinking anything more about it.

When we rounded the corner, the smoke was getting darker and thicker. Suddenly we saw flames peeking over the mountain. FLAMES! (This photo was taken much farther away than we were. I was so stunned that I didn't even think of taking pictures)

We hurried home. We spoke in hushed tones so the kids wouldn't hear our conversation.

We spoke of the fire and took inventory of what we would grab if we were presented with an emergency like this. (We knew the fire was still a ways away, but our job is to be prepared and protect our children) Ben and I both did what we do in situations like this, he watched football while I quickly updated our 72 hour kits, itemized what we would grab if we ever had to evacuate....and kept our eyes on the mountain.

We had a clear shot of the fire as it spread along the ridge and then started down the mountain. We could see the flames leaping in the wind.

Through this whole time Ben was calm. He said, "Don't worry about it. It's just "stuff" that's burning...peoples' homes and stuff can be replaced. The families closest to the fire are safe (they'd already been evacuated)."

We watched the fire continue to creep closer.

Emma caught our conversation and rushed to the window...seeing the fire for the first time.

She immediately started to panic. "Will we have to leave?" "Where will we go?" "What if our house catches on fire?"

Ben (super-daddy) takes control. "Emma!" he said, "We are not going anywhere. Those people are safe. It's just stuff that's burning. Even if those people lose their homes, they will still have more than some people Grandma and Grandpa know in Africa. Those people in Africa are happy. It doesn't take "stuff" to make us happy either. Even if the house does burn down you will likely get a bigger room once we rebuild."

She calmed down. We prayed together. We prayed for peace, for those who were evacuated (many of them were her friends from school- and yes, many of my orchestra students). We prayed that she would know how to handle this very real concern...that she would find the peace to be able to sleep that night.

She excused herself and disappeared for about 15 minutes. When she returned she had her scriptures in hand. She shared with us a scripture that she found that gave her comfort. She told us that she had prayed and searched the scriptures until she felt peaceful. She told us that she knew how to handle this situation.

She said that in the morning she wanted to put together comfort-kits for her friends who were evacuated. We could deliver these kits to the evacuation site. She said, "I don't need to be afraid. I need to be thinking of others who might be more afraid than me."

I am very proud of Emma for understanding the true source of comfort. She KNOWS! She understands that she can always be comforted through the influence of the Holy Ghost, especially if she prays, searches the scriptures, then listens for her answers.

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. John 14:27

We occasioanlly checked on the fire and eventually went to bed. We were ready...just in case.

In the morning, the fire was almost to the base of the mountain. From our window we could see the police lights from the evacuated neighborhoods. At least the high winds had stopped. Now those heroic fire-fighters had a chance.

Within a few days the fire was contained. Many prayers were answered. Many priorities re-evaluated.

How thankful I am for a husband who knows that happiness doesn't come from "stuff" and a daughter who knows how to find peace. Our prayers go out to all those who lost homes in the fire. Even though it's just "stuff" it can still be horrible. May everyone effected by the event be blessed with peace in their time of trial.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My Magic Wand

It's simply magical...the lights in their eyes as they learn to rosin their bow, as they figure out how to hold this shiny new, amazing thing that actually makes sound when you figure out the to place their fingers to change the sound. What it means to be a "stand partner" and how your "stand partner" can become your best friend.

This is our first full week of orchestra for this school year...2 Beginning classes and 2 Advanced classes...about 40+ kids in all. We are a club, a group of crazy musicians.

We are not your typical stuffy orchestra. We have fun. We work hard and play hard. When nerves run high from trying to learn a difficult song, we get up and do the "Chicken Dance". We perform in "personality attire" (definition: wear something that expresses your personality...a silly wig (Eve wore a curly blue one), your pj's, a large hat....anything that is YOU!

Musicians have unique personalities. This year is no different. My group of students represent all kinds: the studious, the trend setters (the mismatched sock trend around our elementary started with 2 girls in the cello section), rockers (the electric violin will become her goal), the non-conformist (purple violins ARE cool!), composers (we performed one of our 3rd grader's compositions for our concert last spring. She wrote different parts for violins, violas, cellos, and was brilliant. It was her conducting debut! She has been working all summer on other pieces for our orchestra...the district is considering them to be played at our huge district concert in the spring). And in general, one huge friendly group of kids. Boys and girls, tiny and tall...all smiles...all the time!

At the end-of-year District Concert last year, my orchestra was the largest in the district. My students were well-behaved, well-prepared musically, and ready for fun (they led the others in a grape soda chugging contest during our dinner break). They were also invited back to perform for the second night performance (quite an honor!)...I'm proud of my group. When I was invited on the stage to conduct the encore number, my orchestra (mixed with 200 other kids) stood and cheered. I will never forget that moment...especially looking down and seeing my 2 sweet's worth all the squeaks and early mornings.

Who wouldn't love this job!

As I take my "magic wand" in my hand, step up to the podium, raise the orchestra to ready, look around at all those shining eyes (especially my own daughters) and give the down-beat, I know that this is exactly what I was born to do. How thankful I am to be a conductor!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

You Made it to 6!

Hyrum, all boy, all the time!
Party #3

Hyrum's birthday has lasted for days

This cake honors his love of Kindergarten (although he doesn't take the bus...there are no buses with the budget cuts)

We had a few people over for cake and pizza. We love Hyrum!

Emma's gift to Hyrum was to take he and a few friends (cousin Jacob, and Logan) to the Children's Museum for his friend's party.
Party #2

Our party was quite and adventure. First, we were stuck on the freeway for an hour because a powerline was across all lanes. All traffic was required to exit. The boys were getting restless in the van. We broke into the party snacks before arriving at the museum.

Construction Zone

Mom and Dad can play too. Notice that Mari is not here...Thank you Mom for tending so we could keep track of the boys.

Emma, thank you for the party for your brother! What a sweet girl!
She won the Museum pass from the Science Fair.


Does this scare you? Only a few more years until these are real drivers!

The helicopter was cool!

By the time we were finished with the museum, we were right in the middle of rush hour traffic so we decided to take the boys to dinner instead. Ben was starving so we didn't give them the option to choose the restaurant (we didn't want McDonald's). We went to Chili's instead.

Unfortunately, the boys were still excited from the museum so our group's volume was LOUD!
They put us at the farthest table in the deepest corner. No one else was around us.
(Hyrum IS smiling, can you tell?)

What an adventure! This strange birthday party lasted from 2:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m
(It was only planned until 5:30 p.m.)

Party #1

Last Friday Hyrum told his teacher that it was his birthday. His teacher srambled to throw together a birthday gift from the class. She found a posterboard, folded it in half, wrote 'Happy Birthday Hyrum' on the front and had the class sign it. Hyrum was elated!

After school, Hyrum came to the van beaming, "Look what my class made me!"
"But Hyrum" I said, "It's not your birthday!"

"I know" he said, shrugging his shoulders.

I bet his teacher was really surprised when, 4 days later, he brought in birthday treats...on his ACTUAL birthday.