Tuesday, April 29, 2014

End of the Year Recital

We had our end of the year recital again.  We miss having Will perform there too, but we attended his band concert. I have a video of it, but Will is back there in the center with the trumpets and you can't see him -- when your kids are choosing instruments, think about where they'll be performing and how well you'll be able to see them! Think violins and basses and marching band instruments, for example.

This is always a time when Sebi and I sit down and madly start polishing his piano piece, using the metronome and working on dynamics and phrasing. He's usually able to pull something out of a hat. This time, though, he was playing a piece that he absolutely loved, but was really too advanced for him: the theme from The Hobbit. The left and right hands were each tougher than he's used to, and there were some key changes with a lot of accidentals. This meant that there were a lot more tears involved than usual, and it was a bit of a white knuckler. After a false start, though, he really pulled out a much better performance than I thought he could -- he's only done better once during practice.
And Madeline played something I've never heard, before or since. She doesn't like us to sit with her while she practices, so she scuttles off into another room and plays with the door shut. It's fun to hear her at least twice a year!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Joss joins the UVRays!

Just like his older siblings, Joss wanted to be on the swim team. He has taken swimming lessons in the same pool during summer and winter and he has gone to splash around during practice, but it just wasn't the same. Over Christmas, Rob took all four kids down to the rec center and they swam laps in the competition pool. The UVRays head coach happened to be there swimming too, and she talked to Rob as they watched Joss paddle 25 yards down the lane through sheer doggedness. She was impressed that he wanted to do what the others did, and told Rob that is what swimming is all about -- having a sport or exercise that the whole family can do together.
In April Rob brought Joss down to the pool and he swam for one of the coaches, who, winking, said he'd do just fine if he wore his fins. So he's started attending swim team three times a week for 45 minutes. He is completely worn out (and cold! they keep the competition pool cooler) by the end of practice. He was excited for exactly two practices -- until he had his fins, goggles, jammers and towel. Then he began to complain about going as much as his brothers -- but I guess that's one of the major perks about being on swim team: complaining about it.
Here he is trying out the backstroke. This is one of his very first attempts.
His coach is wonderful at teaching the kids technique, and since he dove in knowing four other kids in the lane, they were all helpful and attentive to the little tadpole in the back of the line. I still usually go and sit down at the deep end of the pool, because I'm not too sure that he can make it. And often he's so far behind the other kids that the rest of them are at the shallow end getting their next set from the coach.
More recently, he's begun to find his groove. As soon as his coach turns her back, he makes a U-turn and tries to make up time that way. When he's in the deep end, he does somersaults and dives down to the bottom, porpoising around. His swimming may or may not be improving, but no one can deny that he enjoys being in the water!
And here Joss tries one of the exercises they do to improve form -- keeping the cup on your forehead helps their necks or something. Or maybe it's just thoroughly entertaining for spectators like me . . .

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Online Course Kickoff Weekend

 Rob reluctantly agreed to write another couple of online courses. When I say reluctantly, what I mean is that he can only write the content for them if he is given an equal and opposite amount of time to bellyache about how he hates language courses, he hasn't taught them in years, shouldn't be expected to, doesn't believe in online coursework, blah, blah, blah. I am the recipient of these hours spent offloading the pain only his enemies should know. At least I hope he isn't going on to anyone else!
 I decided that in order to jump start the process, I would get us a hotel room in Salt Lake so there wouldn't be any kid interruptions and we could break down the online textbook into chapters for the class. I got a room at the Little America, even though I figured it would be run down. But it wasn't!
 It was big and swanky and had that whole workroom where we laid out a laptop, an iPad and two iPhones and got to work.
 When we needed breaks, we'd go eat, and we really did it in style. First dinner was at Spitz, a place that makes street-style doeners like Berlin. It isn't quite the One True Doener Place, but it will do in a pinch, and it has a great downtown vibe.
 We had a slice of pie back at the Little America coffee shop and it's to be recommended too. The whole hotel was very nice. It made you feel like you might almost be able to write an online course or two.
 The next morning we tried out this boulangerie on Main Street. Excellent. 
 We had to take a walk and a swim on other breaks simply so that we could keep working and keep eating. This is in front of the county building where my grandparents got their marriage license.
And this is a Vietnamese sandwich place on State St. recommended by another friend. We finished breaking down the classes into chapters and creating a course outline and syllabi in time for checkout Sunday morning and then had brunch at Eggs in the City, which was stand-up-and-hoot good. The whole weekend was so pleasant it almost made it worth listening to the complaints about online courses!