Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nathan's Not so Secret Admirer

I am loving the whole Christmas season!  School doesn't let out until Friday and I really wish it was sooner because the best part is when the family can spend time together.

Eva has been performing 2-4 times a week since Thanksgiving.  She sings with show choir, accompanied for them a bit, went to a Temple Square with Chamber Strings, and several other venues.  I haven't seen any of those performances because she drives (yay!) and I have been carting other people around. She was asked by a lady in our ward to play three songs on her violin for the Eagles group.  This was a little new because they wanted her to write a biography they could read for an introduction--it was fun to realize that she has performed enough that she has some impressive highlights.  They paid her generously because they knew she was trying to earn money for her orchestra trip to California.  The women were very kind and gracious. One of them followed us out and asked Eva to autograph and date her program.  She kept saying, "I never understand why people don't get the autographs of performers when they are just starting out because they are worth more than any autograph given when someone is famous." Eva and I were amused.  She also had her cross country banquet last night.  She received a plaque for the Leila Kemp award, a special award they give an athlete who works through pain/injury to help the team. She felt a little guilty because it is a special award and they gave it to her last year, too.  Eva did do something quite remarkable this year, though.  Because of her stress fracture she had to take some time off, but the doctor cleared her for light running the day before districts and she ran a PR at districts, without which her team would not likely have been able to run together at state.  She also got the a Purple Heart award which they give to an athlete who is not a captain but who supports the team like a captain.  She is a natural leader.  

Last Friday after our ward party some boys were outside knocking icicles off the building and Ethan knocked one off and it hit his head.  He had a good sized cut, enough to nearly need stitches!  Poor guy.  On Sundays I have to get to church early so I can warm-up on the organ a bit and play for the choir and he has to be there early to prepare the sacrament so Eva drops us off and brings everyone else when the meeting starts.  A few ward members told me that Ethan will stand at the back door and open it for people as they arrive.  I love that kid!

Ivy's primary teacher told me that Ivy has matured a lot the past couple of weeks.  It's true.  She's still fun, but she is definitely a bit calmer.  It's fun to see them grow up! A couple of summers ago Ivy took some lessons from a great high school violinist.  She liked learning the violin but she wouldn't practice so we stopped lessons after just a little while.  This fall she decided she wanted to play with the elementary orchestra.  She skipped the elementary orchestra and started with the intermediate, knowing she may have to go back to the beginning when the music got a bit more difficult.  Then she sat first chair in the fall.  When Eva pointed it out to me I didn't think much of it because I know the director rotates the kids around there but the orchestra director interjected and said that actually Ivy is a real leader for her. I was glad Ivy helped her and then kind of forgot about it.  Last week Ivy had another orchestra concert and sat first chair again!  I payed close attention and was very impressed because I could see that she really knew what she was doing.  Her bow hold looks almost as good as the kids who are probably getting private lessons and her rhythm and musicality is great.  I spent most of the performance ordering how we could get private lessons for her.  Several times when she is practicing someone (Vince, Ethan, a piano student, or ward member) will tilt their head, look around and inquire about Eva's whereabouts and say "Is that Ivy on the piano?!"  She's not where Eva is now for sure, but something has happened and she is sounding impressive.

Nathan loves the snow.  He and Ivy and there new little friends spend all their free time somewhere in the field behind the house sledding.  They LOVE sledding!  We had a new family in the ward and Nathan and Ivy each have a new friend.  This is exciting for them, because while they have always had lots of good friends to play with they haven't had a friend close to home that was like a best friend.  Now they do and it has been great in many ways.  Sunday I sat on the stand for the whole meeting because there was a rest hymn.  I marveled at how my kids had grown up to be able to sit through Sacrament meeting without an adult on the bench...  

Nathan's new little friend also has a couple of little sisters.  Partway through the meeting the little sister, age 6-7 gets up and walks out for a drink or something.  On the way out she reaches into our bench and pokes Nathan.  He looks a bit confused but just smiles at her.  On her way back in she reaches in and pushes him on the arm.  He just grinned up at her again, and then looked at Ethan next to him in bewilderment. I am losing it on the stand, trying not to laugh out loud.  The people sitting behind the kids are in the same boat.  A few minutes later she gets up again and when she walks by she nearly slugs Nathan and Ethan catches him when he topples over.  So funny to see the look on Nathan's face.  He is completely confused but he's so kind hearted that he still looks up to smile at her but by the time he sitting back up she is gone.  While she was put I guess he needed to use the restroom and he didn't return before she got back.  She walked in, slowed down as she approached our bench, looked, nearly stopped and looked.  Her feet are taking her past the bench and she still doesn't see him so she actually walked backwards a ways before she returned to her seat.  So when we get home one of the girls asks, "What is up with that little girl pushing Nathan at church?"  I responded that it looks like Nathan has an admirer.  Ethan has a fun twinkle in his eye and he nods his head vigorously.  Some of his friends had noticed too and were asking him about Nathan's skills with the ladies.  Nathan was still a bit confused.  Poor kid. 

Yesterday was also our wedding anniversary.  We have had a beautiful 18 years together.  Vince is the most patient person I know.  His kindness, love, and faith continue to strengthen and teach me.  Vince sent me beautiful flowers but we will have to go on a special date next week sometime because we have had kid stuff, holiday stuff, Bishop stuff, work stuff, etc and it wouldn't be any fun to try to squeeze in anything else!  

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ivy's Big Day

This week Ivy was recognized for her Reflections in 3D and Musical Composition.  She will go to the district level in both categories.  If I were really clever I would post a recording of her playing her composition, but I've only recently figured out how to post pictures so I'll be satisfied with that.  Her composition won first place and her 3D placed fourth place.  This was the least goofiest picture I could get of her...

I found this picture a couple of weeks ago and had to share it:
I love it!  There is Eva (6) holding Nathan. She has always been the sweet, nurturing, responsible helper.  This was taken the day Nathan was blessed.  I can remember being so thrilled to have him home after his stay in the NICU and loving that he had put on enough weight to be filling his clothes out a bit.  Next to them is Ivy (2).  Ivy was has always been a fun-loving little girl; I adore her baby chubbies and pink cheeks.  She always had rosy cheeks and bright eyes!  Ethan (4) has his trademark mischievous grin.  Every time I saw that grin I had to wonder what he was thinking!  He has always been an innovator, which at this age was disconcerting, but over the years has become a trait I really value!  They all have a tan because they played hard outside hours every day. It's so fun to think about how they have "grown into" their personalities as they have matured.  They are each so different and have such special talents.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Calf-Path

A friend made reference to this poem on her blog so I looked it up; it's great!  It's intriguing to ponder why I do some things and if some habits, traditions are not as valuable as they might seem.  I apologize that it's not recorded here spaced properly line by line.

The Calf-Path

  by Sam Foss
One day through the primeval wood A calf walked home as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And I infer the calf is dead. 

But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day,
By a lone dog that passed that way;

And then a wise bell-wether sheep
Pursued the trail o'er vale and steep,

And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bell-wethers always do.

And from that day, o'er hill and glade.
Through those old woods a path was made. 
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged, and turned, and bent about,

And uttered words of righteous wrath,
Because 'twas such a crooked path;

But still they followed—do not laugh—
The first migrations of that calf,

And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked. 
This forest path became a lane,
that bent and turned and turned again;

This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load

Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.

And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf. 
The years passed on in swiftness fleet,
The road became a village street;

And this, before men were aware,
A city's crowded thoroughfare.

And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;

And men two centuries and a half,
Trod in the footsteps of that calf. 
Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed the zigzag calf about

And o'er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.

A Hundred thousand men were led,
By one calf near three centuries dead.

They followed still his crooked way,
And lost one hundred years a day;

For thus such reverence is lent,
To well established precedent. 

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;

For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,

And work away from sun to sun,
To do what other men have done.

They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,

And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move.

But how the wise old wood gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf.

Ah, many things this tale might teach—
But I am not ordained to preach.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Poor Nathan

Nathan had a fun, inspiring week.....until I posted about it.  Then things went downhill.  He cut his finger chopping potatoes, scraped his foot that night...  But the worst was Friday at school when he was chasing a basketball up a couple of stairs in PE and slipped, hitting his mouth on the edge of a stair.  His two front teeth went through his lip.  The dentist said his teeth look OK and we will just wait for the lip to heal but there is extra pink around it thus morning so we are at the Instacare to make sure there is no infection.  Poor guy.  It looks so painful!  It's VERY swollen, especially if you see the side view.  If you look close you can see the two exit wounds from his big teeth.  Inside the lip is super bad!

But he's still smiling!

Other than that the week was fairly uneventful.  Our Subaru is dying.  We are going to donate it this week.  The engine is leaking oil into the antifreeze.  We are sad we won't have it anymore but so grateful we had it this long.  We prayed it would last through speech and it went way past that.  We feel blessed!  Eva is disappointed, however.  I can't blame her!  We will just get to share cars  :)

I had a cool experience with a student this week.  She is an early advanced student and encountered a hemiola in her music.  This is where there is a duple rhythm paired with a triplet rhythm.  In this case the right hand was playing eighth notes while the left hand was playing triplets.  It is very difficult to teach, learn, and play.  Generally, I will explain, demonstrate, play it with the student slowly, etc.  several times over the course of several weeks before the student can begin to show some independent success with the concept.  Most students have to go through this learning process every time it appears for two to three or more pieces before they are able to figure it out entirely on their own.  It's very challenging.  This week, however, we came to a hemiola and I explained it, demonstrated it a couple of times and then asked the student to try it.  She played it perfectly!  The first time!  I asked her to play it a couple more times because I was sure it was a fluke but it was perfect every time.  We continued the piece, encountering two more instances and she sight-read the rhythm correctly each time.  I'm still blown away!  It made my week!!  I'm always impressed with what kids can learn--they all have special talents and it's fun to see them find/develop them.  I'm lucky because I get to see it's with my own kids, kids at school, and piano students.  It's inspiring!!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

About Nathan

Sunday I got to substitute Nathan's primary class.  It was a blast!  I love subbing at church!  We were in the hall and a newer member of the ward was there as well.  He has a son in the same Primary class and asked Nathan, "What's your name?"  Nathan answered and was then asked, "What's your last name?"  He replied, "Olcott".  The dad quickly made the connection and said, "Oh, your the Bishop's son!"  Nathan immediately pointed at me and said, "Yeah.  But my MOM'S the Organist!"  He has a great perspective!

Yesterday at Cub Scouts they were painting their tool boxes at their leader's house.  There were two scouts unable to make it last week and Nathan wanted to be sure they could come so he collected them and one other and the boys walked to scouts together.  (The leader lives in a different neighborhood).  He LOVES scouts!  I was teaching piano while this was all taking place and I knew one of the boys was coming to our house afterwards for 10-15 minutes but when the noys came back they had the friend's three year old brother with them.  I'm still not sure why, but Nathan took care of that little one.  He kept him busy, shared the treat his leader had given him, etc.  I work with his leader at school and she told me this morning that Nathan is a natural nurturer.  He was making sure that the boys who weren't there last time knew exactly what to do and commented on how kind he is about it. I can see Nathan growing into a great missionary!  

Here's a picture of Nathan with his toolbox:

Today Nathan wasn't feeling well and stayed home from school.  As I'm walking out of the school, I answer my cell phone and Nathan says, "Do you want some scrambled eggs?"  I told him I was on my way home and that when I got there I would make him some eggs if he wanted.  He told me he already ate some but that there was more if I wanted.  I then wondered, "How many eggs did you scramble?" I was relieved when he told me three but concerned when he stated, "I boiled some too."  I know I haven't taught him that, so I asked him if he knew how to boil eggs.  He answered that there were instructions in his scout book.  I then wanted to know how many eggs he 'boiled'.  He boiled 14.  I was relieved.  Again.  And had giggles that were making my eyes tear up.  I was starting to find the whole conversation a bit taxing--I wasn't sure if  I should be concerned or amused.  I rushed home and found a very proud kid, some yummy scrambled eggs which I gladly ate, and 14 runny hard boiled eggs.  He was confused about the part that said Bring to a boil and THEN simmer 15 minutes.  We reboiled them and he just finished eating one.  

Right now he is peeling potatoes to boil.  That's in the scout book too.  I guess he wants me to sign stuff.  And he's not sick.  But I'm feeling like a nap sounds good today so maybe he can take care of stuff for me while I take one!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunday Summary #4

This week I have noticed people spontaneously doing kind things for each other.

Eva's friend had surgery and she has been spending time with her and taking her small gifts.  The poor girl had to stay home for 10 days or so.  Eva also had three performances this week: an assembly, an evening school thing and a violin recital.  I don't worry about the assemblies but I missed the other school thing because I was visiting teaching.  I consoled myself by rationalizing that the girl performs a ton and I'm lucky to get to see her play so much!

This week as Ivy was walking home from school one day she heard Ethan's voice behind her saying, "Hand over the violin!" as if he were a robber.  She gave it to him and he carried it all the way home for her.  I love when they look put for each other!  Ethan has also helped Nathan with his homework this week which has been nice for me!

Ivy is loving playing with the elementary orchestra.  She has been super helpful this week.  She helped Nathan with homework a few times and one night she rushed to take the trash out for me just because it was full-- I appreciated that she noticed and just took care of it.  That's the kind of week we've had.  People just helping out and being kind.  

Nathan built a toolbox at scouts this week. Next week they will paint their toolboxes.  Nathan is very proud of it!  I will try to post a picture of him with the finished product.  

I have been praying hard for a girl from Tooele serving a mission in Tacloban Philipines.  I know her a bit because she is a brilliant vocalist and I had the pleasure of accompanying her once or twice.  She's a wonderful person and she is still unaccounted for after the huge weather event.  I've been praying that her family will get word soon, that all the missionaries will soon be accounted for, and for the Philippine people.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Sunday Summary #3 (Belated)

We had piano recitals this week.  Ivy played Friday night with the rest of my students and Eva played Saturday.  They were both fantastic!

Ethan went scuba diving with the scouts on Saturday.  

Nathan got another 100% on his spelling test.  Two in a row!  He also gave me a lengthy list to mail Santa this year.  I believe this is the first Santa list he has ever written himself.  

And of course it was Halloween, which means I have to make extra trips to the store all week!  On Wednesday we ran there for something and saw pumpkins were 50 cents each so we selected several.  I was teaching on Thursday but the kids came home from school and carved them without ant help.  They also cleaned up the entire mess!  

Here's Eva's pumpkin:

And Ethan's:

Ivy's on the left and Nathan's on the right:

I was impressed with their carving skills!

Last Sunday I was out of town for the day/night and Vince was gone most of the day and the kids did this:

I LOVE the photos!  It was a great surprise!!