Friday, May 28, 2010

The Robot

Curious George kept himself entertained the other day making this....

What is it?

A robot, of course.

Yep that's right. It's a robot. On the top are buttons that if one was to push, the robot would do certain tricks like twirl in a circle or dance or run around the room like a crazy man. The last action was the most popular, as you might guess.

And the hangers? Don't ask me. I never did figure out what those were for, but they did add a "robotty" touch, don't you think?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Mystery Birds

We spent the morning watching these beautiful birds. I've never seen them before. Does anyone know what kind they might be? There were 4 of the brightly colored ones (we think they were probably males) and 2 of the plain ones (probably females). The boys loved watching them almost as much as me. Especially Curious George. They have been living in the trees in front of our house for a couple of days now. They are so fun to have, I hope they stay! :) Maybe we'll get a nest in one of our trees and have babies!
Here's are pictures of the males:



























I love this one's spikey hair! Yes that is snow! I think our tomatoes and peppers probably died last night :( so sad. Guess we'll probably be replanting this year.

Here's a few pictures of the females:

Curious George noticed that one of the females has a thorn in her feathers. Poor thing. They were eating some of the seeds that fall from the trees in the springtime.

Here's a movie of a couple of them:

video

Helping


JB was helping me wash the dishes the other day. I got a kick out of how he rinsed the canning lids! :)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Teaching Piano Lessons

C has been doing really well with his schoolwork. I've been giving him about 5 worksheets to do every morning and he quickly whips them out. I've gotta find harder ones I guess...He's really, really getting excited about going to kindergarten. It will be a lot of fun for him. He recently played at his third piano recital. He did really well. He had 2 of his 3 songs memorized. He played "old MacDonald", "Book of Mormon Stories" and "I am like a Star". I got the last two on this great website where you can print several pre-reading primary songs. He is still progressing really well with his piano. I teach him from the Bastien Piano Basics for the young beginner level A:



This is a great series and it's been perfect for us so far. I started teaching him about a year an a half ago and he's about halfway through level A. The first year was really slow progress, maybe a lesson every month (he was only 3 or 4 when I started). But it's picked up a lot in the last few months and now he progresses very steadily. We don't do lessons every single day, but maybe 2 or 3 times a week for about 10 minutes or until he's done. I don't push him. If he doesn't want to do it, we don't do it. But he usually really wants to. He usually asks for lessons and I'm always happy to oblige. I don't "make him" practice any more than his regular lesson, but he'll often practice on his own anyway. So far it's working really well for me to be his teacher. People ask me how that is, teaching your own child and I think for his age it's PERFECT! I'm not sure how long it will work, but I'm happy to do it until it stops working. When it does, I'll probably find another teacher for him.

I love teaching piano. I've taught for about 4 years now and it's been the best thing for me. I usually have around 9 students, sometimes more sometimes less. I've had 8 for quite a while, but I lost 2 for the summer so now I have 6. I teach the Bastien piano basics series. I have students from early, early beginner (like C.G.) all the way up to the fourth level books.

I also taught a preschool music class in the fall that I loved - A LOT! I'd like to start it up again, if I can get more interest - I only had 3 enrolled in the fall. I haven't decided whether I'm going to do it again this fall or not, but I've thought about it. I've also thought about doing a summer music camp this summer, but I'm not sure if I've got time to get it organized or not. If not, I'll do it another summer.

A lot of people wonder when to start their children in piano lessons. I don't think I would teach a 3-year-old formal piano lessons unless it was my own. Even a 4-year-old is really early, but it might work for some 4-year-olds to have a 10-15 minute lesson twice a week. I think 5 is perfect for a 10-20 minute lesson twice a week. The thing I've noticed about waiting until 8 to teach children is that even though they are better readers and will progress a lot faster, often they've lost the desire by then. And for many older kids, piano is a drudgery. Most little children on the other hand love music and want to participate in music. And they still think learning is a game so they look forward to it. I loved my preschool music class and I think it was perfect for 3-5 year-olds because although they're often not ready for formal music lessons, they are ready to learn music and they can learn SOO many things about music without having to sit still for very long. They can move and dance and clap and act out what they feel in the music. They can sing and play theory games and listen to all kinds of music of many genres. I found that with C, this music class really boosted his abilities as a musician. It fed his desire to play music, even though he wasn't quite old enough for formal music lessons. And it actually increased his desire to play an instrument when he was ready. I think that's part of why he's doing so well with piano now is because of that music class.

Anyway, that's just a few random thoughts about my music teaching experience.

The "babies"

Time is passing by very quickly these days. I can't believe it's almost summer! Then after summer C will start Kindergarten. Wow, my babies are growing up. We have a busy summer planned with growing a big garden, C in kickball and swimming, and several family vacations including 4 family reunions. It won't be long before were in the thick of it. The garden is pretty much planted - see my other blog for that post. But there's tons more yard work to do. I guess with as big of a yard as we have, that's to be expected.

Here is a picture of J's newest best friends. "baby dinosaur" and "baby alien". It's funny with J everything is "baby" this or "baby" that. He loves little tiny things. I probably should worry more about him putting them in his mouth and choking on them, but he hardly ever does. He just loves to hold them and play with them. They attend every meal and go to bed with him. Of course they are very easy to lose since they are so small, but they always turn up again. They are almost always in his hand and he takes them wherever he goes.

C has a couple baby dinosaurs too. The boys bought them at one of those things in front of the grocery store where you put in a quarter and out pops an egg with something cool in it. They have been wanting to earn money (well C at least). He's been doing little "money" jobs to earn money and he gets to spend it at the store when we go.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chickens!



I don't know why our family seems to be so attracted to fowl... but...we recently got 2 chickens...We traded them for 2 winter squash that we had in our basement from the fall harvest. The neighbor who gave them to us had a dog that attacked the chickens so they had feathers missing and stuff. They are funny to watch - they definitely have uppity personalities. The kids love those chickens and can't stop chasing after them. Their names are yet to be determined. Here's a few of the possibilities:

Orange & Black chicken:
1) "orangey"
2) "pep"
3) "chicadee"

White & Black chicken:
1) "Whitey"
2) "Zebey"
3) "soccer bally"
4) "chikaboom"

We'll see what sticks I guess. They have been laying quite a few eggs - one or two every day just about. The eggs are really yummy too. We keep them in our duck cage - we just removed the bottom so they can peck at the ground. We let them out every day and the kids love to catch worms, slugs and potato bugs to feed them. They are a lot of fun.