Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Within reach

The end of the school year is so close I can taste it! The kids and I just finished our work for today and it looks like we will be able to wrap up for the year on Friday. I am so excited as this is the first year that I feel a real finality to the work we've done, we're not just finishing because the calendar says we're done. I must credit these kids of mine for their hard work this year. I pushed them pretty hard and they are going to reap the rewards with a nice long summer break. Exciting stuff!

I am looking forward to a few things clearing off my schedule as well. Tonight is my last night of guitar lessons, our bible study group is on hiatus until the fall, and the few activities we do have left will be more manageable in light of these things falling off our lists. I am not sure if I yet know just what my capacity is in terms of scheduling. I do know that this year was more balanced than last year but I'm not sure if I can pinpoint exactly why. It seems to be a decision-by-decision thing and is much more complex than just what I have on my plate. Everyone in this household contributes to the balance of our home. I need to balance out my husband when he is feeling overwhelmed and I rely on him to do the same. When neither of us has any capacity for this, that's when we're in big trouble.

This layout I'm sharing today comes out of a neat encounter we had last fall at a big agricultural exhibition in town. This lady was so sweet in describing how she spins wool after the sheep are sheared and the girls were so attentive to her explanation. Cool moments like these make me very thankful that we are homeschooling!

More later.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My life as a musician

Some of you know that I trained as a classical guitarist and now teach lessons out of my home a few hours every week. While I fell in love with classical guitar music, I did not initially intend to play the guitar. I wanted a piano so badly. I told my parents that I wanted to take piano lessons and my mother said, "But we don't have a piano." "Okay, I'll take guitar then." The teacher that I studied with during my years living at home interviewed his students before he agreed to enroll them in his studio. He said years later that my answer to his question of why I wanted to study the classical guitar (which was, candidly, "because my parents can't afford a piano!") was one of the reasons he agreed to teach me. We had a wonderful rapport and I owe, in large part, my devotion to this art to him.

I graduated from high school, moved to Edmonton, and then I had my chance to study piano! I spent hours in the tiny practice rooms off the music department. A frustrating experience, to some extent, as I thought my music background would translate into quick success. I all but abandoned my guitar during this time (except for a couple of bass accompaniment opportunities for the concert choir I sang in), focusing on the piano and enjoying my lessons. At the end of two years of study in Alberta I turned down a significant academic scholarship to return to Saskatchewan to study music. I felt like an impostor but I so wanted to and probably should have gone to that straight after high school.

My audition on guitar took hours and hours of preparation and I failed the theory exam disastrously. I was placed at the lowest level of entry for theory and struggled with those classes through my next 4 years of study. I got a very part-time job teaching music in a studio and I discovered that I have a real gift in teaching (fortunately you don't have to understand every in and out of the mechanics of music or I'd be sunk!). I studied piano as my minor instrument under a very accomplished pianist and had exposure to amazing performances and discussions. I became the first woman to graduate with a classical guitar major from the music faculty.

I didn't develop into a great pianist. I passed a piano proficiency test needed to complete the requirements of my degree but I'm not going to stun anyone with my piano performance. I've since had a classical guitar built for me by a wonderful craftsman and I continue to love to teach. This childhood dream, however, was fulfilled about 7 years ago when my inlaws moved from their farm into the nearby town. They had told Gary and I that we could have the piano as soon as we had room for it. My husband is classically trained and even competed at the provincial level. My oldest daughter is finishing up her second year of piano studies and has shown wonderful promise as a musician. It has become her thing. My second-oldest daughter recently started violin lessons. My son is learning to play the guitar and my youngest daughter is interested in pursuing voice lessons (or piano, or cello, or changes regularly).

Receiving this beautiful antique piano with lovely tone and a rich history is just proof to me that God cares about the desires of our hearts. The reality of having this instrument in our home speaks to the 9-year old in me and resonates the truth through my whole being that I am taken care of...not just my needs, but some of those wants too. I am so thankful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Now Settle Down...

I know. What is this craziness? Two blog entries in one week? Settle down! I told you I have things to share and I want to make sure I don't forget to do that. I also have a little request to make...

I'm currently working on a class concept and what I need from any and all of you is some direction. I am wanting to be directed to websites, books, articles, etc. that deal with spiritual issues. Not necessarily Christianity (although this is research for a Sunday School class I'll be teaching next year sometime), anything current and spiritual will do. I am particularly interested in the bestseller/high profile stuff. To get the obvious out of the way, yes, I have already read The Da Vinci Code. It is along those lines that I'm looking though as well as contemporary Christian stuff. Don't worry about analyzing anything for me, I just want to be pointed in the direction of stuff that people might be talking about or that you've seen in the media regarding spirituality and/or Christianity. I would be very thrilled with some suggestions.

Busy busy these, swimming, piano, violin, art classes, music teaching, oh...did someone need clean underwear? Can't you just look in your sister's drawer or something? Okay, so we're not quite that desperate yet, but I do find this increase in outside activity to be taking a toll on my impeccable housekeeping. Okay, so my housekeeping is not impeccable. I've been getting my bed made and some semblance of a meal on the table. As far as anything Martha-esque, this is truly not the season to be looking for that.

I don't know what your schedule is like and I know that everyone has a different capacity for stuff like this. I just find that our home "feels" different when we're not in it very often. I'm not sure that I like this pace and I am glad that we've (mostly) chosen to keep things to a manageable level as far as outside activities are concerned. I love reading Titus 2 and Proverbs 31 for the clear picture those chapters give on the activities a godly woman engages herself in. Now, don't get me wrong, I don't interpret either of those to say that a woman should never leave the house or anything like that. They do, however, speak to a care for home and family that are difficult to exercise when you're not at home or with your family for a good amount of the time. Just some ramblings to give you a glimpse into what I'm thinking about as I drive from place to place...

Here is my latest scrapbooking layout. My youngest daughter is a true snuggler (as you may have surmised from my previous post) and she will come up to me at any point in the day and kiss whatever body part is most accessible: knees, elbows, neck, you name it! Not all of my children are this naturally affectionate and I am so thankful for her demonstrations of love. Hope you get a kick out of this:

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope your Mother's Day, for all you moms, is proving to be a wonderful celebration of this unique role! No one else has been called to love, teach, and cherish your children in the same way that you have been. I have severe blinders on when it comes to my children - oh, not in terms of behaviour, but in status - and I think they are the most brilliant and fantastic creatures on the planet. I hope today you celebrate this precious gift you've been given.

My day started out rather uniquely. Sunday mornings are typically the one day where I need to be up and going as soon as that alarm clock sounds and, as a result, I don't always sleep soundly on Saturday nights. Last night, however, I was having a wonderful snooze and didn't wake up until the sun shone brightly through our bedroom window. It is getting warmer here and I thought at first that I needed to take some bedcovers off as I seemed to be a bit damp. As I woke up more I realized that my 4-year-old daughter was pressed right against me and she had wet the bed! Little turkey! Wet your own bed! Needless to say, I didn't need that alarm clock this morning. We were up and going before 7, I had a shower and Georgia had a bath, and I had time to braid her hair before church. My 6-year-old woke up and told me it was NOT Mother's Day. Oh my. Off to a grouchy start. I'm happy to report that the day has improved, I had 3 lovely strawberries on my plate at lunch, and my husband and children have gone off on a long bike ride, leaving me here to enjoy some quiet. The only thing that could really improve on this day to this point would be some chocolate...maybe in ice cream form??

The above layout doesn't need a lot of explaining except to tell you that the legacy of a love for the Word of God is the number one thing I hope to impart to my children. Seeing my oldest two (and only proficient readers at this stage) sit down with their Bibles without prompting and become absorbed in reading Scripture just makes my heart skip! I understand that there are decisions in life that only they can make, that their faith truly must become a personal thing. Seeing them on the right track gives me such hope that God will do mighty and powerful things in them and through them. I can't imagine a more satisfying answer to prayer than to see this scene repeated in our home over and over again.

As the vinegar and baking soda do their magic on my mattress, I'm off to the girls' bunk beds to read and enjoy the warm air blowing through the window.

Blessings on you as you start a new week!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

I've been tagged...

Miss Velda has tagged me and it's probably a good thing because I seem to have forgotten that I have a blog. Wow, this is a busy time of year with some activities winding up and others starting for the new season. I have felt like a personal assistant to my children over the past couple of weeks and I do not like living by my day planner. This too shall pass...

Okay, the tag. I'm to share 7 random thoughts about myself. Most of you know by now that I'm pretty good at random. Here it goes:

1) I'm seriously into coffee. Not just any coffee. Good coffee. I'm thinking of getting my own plane just so I can transport in coffee from "transcend" in Edmonton.

2) Growing up I thought I would live in a huge American city, have 1.2 children, and practice law. None of those has turned out to be true.

3) I am a homebody. I don't plan on doing any paid work outside the home. I especially like being home when our house is in decent order. See #4.

4) I'm a perfectionist but this translates into bad things for my housekeeping skills. I'm an all-or-nothing cleaner and have trouble keeping up with the daily maintenance and organization of our place. I really want to change this.

5) I love to read the Bible. It would be fascinating to know more Old Testament history and I just love how the Word is so perfectly woven together over so many years. God's ways are so cool. Of this I'm sure.

6) There are days, AHEM, where I have a definite need for chocolate. These are not necessarily dictated by anything cyclical. Like coffee, I think quality counts but there is a candy bar that will do if I can't get my hands on really good chocolate. Did you know they make an After Eight bar? Dark chocolate, mint, decadent taste sensation. There's really no reason not to have one.

7) There are very few people that I'm comfortable talking on the phone with and I'm even less adept with answering machines. I usually run on and on and then get cut off by some obnoxious beep. If I've called you and not left a message, now you know why. I don't have a problem talking, especially about myself (yes, glorious ME!), but not so much on the phone.

And now, since you've all been so patient in letting me drone on and on about myself, let me feed your appetite for my creative work (yep, absolute genius, no self-esteem issues here this morning, are there) with a photo of a card I made this weekend. I've got all kinds of things to share with you as I've been nothing short of prolific these past few weeks.

If you've not yet been tagged, consider yourself "IT"! I'm off to get a move on this day. I think I'll clean our bedroom and get these little ones started on some schoolwork. Blessings on your Wednesday!