Saturday, June 11, 2016

Our Piano Concert Series

This has been a big year for us as far as piano goes.  Not only did we finally get our piano tuned (it had only been about 30 years since the last tuning!), but we went from having one student at the music school to having three. 
Alaina started taking piano lessons in September--she has the same teacher as Janae, and they have their lessons back to back.  Alaina played "Ode to Joy" in her first concert this past December, and Janae, who has now been playing the piano for three years, played "Silent Night."
At that time, Ben was in his school band and played "Jingle Bells" and "Santa on the Housetop" on the trombone at another concert, but in February he started piano lessons at the same school as his sisters.  He played the main theme from Star Wars--with chords and everything!--at his first concert at the end of May. 
He hasn't stopped there, either, learning the "Imperial March" over the past few weeks.
Then it was time for the girls' concert.  Alaina played "Twinkling Planets,"
and Janae "Hedwig's Theme" from Harry Potter (notice the robe!).
I loved the way all three of them just walked up to the piano with no music and played their pieces from memory.  Even though I knew they were a little nervous, they looked so confident :)
This weekend we went to a special space-themed concert put on by the music school.  It had an orchestra with keyboards, violins, cellos, drums and a guitar, playing the Star Wars theme.
Janae played the piano with the main theme ensemble. 
This meant a costume (made in ONE day by Grandma!),
and LOTS of practices at the school.  We're talking Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday for three weeks, with Ben having his lessons on the Wednesdays!
Eric got to be a regular on the spare room piano there.
But he was still willing to put on his Star Wars shirt one more time this afternoon for the final performance. . . .
Janae--and all of the musicians--did an amazing job.
 Ben just has one more lesson on Wednesday, and then all of the instruction is finished until September.  But I have a feeling our piano will continue to get plenty of use between now and then. . . .

Friday, June 10, 2016

Finally, A Pioneer Day for Janae

Three years ago, when Ben was in Grade 3, he had a "Pioneer Day" at school, where the kids got to dress in old-fashioned clothes and play games from the early 1900s.  They had been learning about their Canadian heritage, and this was a sort of celebration of that unit.
Janae was in kindergarten at the time, and didn't get to dress up, but she was still involved with an 80th anniversary celebration the school was having that day, where they sang songs about the school's history and got to go into the old school house--which is still on the grounds.
Also on that day, Janae started planning what she would wear three years later when SHE was in Grade 3 :)
Janae loves anything old-fashioned or antique.  Her grandma has several "fancy" things like porcelain dolls, and other items that people used long ago, and I have shown her movies like Anne of Green Gables and Sense and Sensibility, which immediately became some of her favorites.  Once I took her to a store that sold vintage d├ęcor, and she has been asking to go back ever since.
She likes to dress up in old-style clothes any chance she gets, even if it's a hot day--
and will play "olden days," even if it means doing extra work.
When she picked an American Girl doll, her choice was Caroline from the 1800s, and she loves all the old-style clothes, shoes, etc. that go with her.
Needless to say, if there are vintage dresses on display--they will get her attention.
So, when yesterday finally rolled around--and Janae got to dress up like a pioneer and visit a 1920s village museum with HER Grade 3 class, she was ready.
Grandma made her the perfect dress, and let her borrow the hat she had picked out for the occasion three years earlier.  It was so cute seeing all the kids lined up to go into school, dressed in their pioneer clothes.
BUT the part of the story that was not expected came afterwards.  When I picked Janae up from school yesterday, her teacher told me that at the museum school house there is a very strict teacher.  She told the group that in the olden days kids did things like memorize Shakespeare.  Then she asked if anyone knew any Shakespeare. 
Janae--who, though loud and confident at home, is often soft-spoken or even shy at school--put up her hand.  The teacher then asked her if she could recite something, and Janae rattled off Sonnet #18 in its entirety ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? . . .).  The woman at the museum told Janae's teacher that in all her years of taking classes through, she had never heard anyone do anything like that.  Janae's teacher told me everyone had goosebumps.
So . . . Janae could actually pass for a pioneer girl, not just by her looks, but by her knowledge.  
What a great experience for her to have on her long-awaited Pioneer Day!

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Another Birthday for Ben

Our big guy turned 12 years old yesterday!
For about the SEVENTH year in a row, his favorite things are still Lego and Star Wars, so we're having to get a bit creative with how to use those themes :)
 This year, we went to the nearest Lego store--Ben had actually never been there before, since it is about half an hour away (closer to 45 minutes with a mom who gets lost any time she tries to drive somewhere!).
 Since Ben is finished with school, it was nice to go during the day with just him and Eric.  Both boys loved the store. 
Ben found what he wanted pretty quickly--ringing in at the exact dollar amount I'd given him as a limit.  He also used money from his grandma to buy an extra set of minifigures . . . and we'd spent enough to have an exclusive bonus set added to our purchase.
We went for lunch at Ben's restaurant of choice, A&W,
 then came home to work on the cake. 
Somewhat recognizable as Chewbacca?
In the evening we had Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Tina's family here for pizza, cake and lots of playing.
We ended this June 3 knowing Ben had really enjoyed the day!