Happy Birthday Pea Buddy

Last night we gathered friends and family (both near and far), ordered the most awesome chocolate cake we’d ever seen, and surprised a dear friend with a belated birthday party.  While she had some help figuring out that we were up to something  –  we were still able to pull off the ultimate suprise by flying her sister and niece in from out of state (one of the fringe benefits of Wild Hair Daddy being an airline pilot).

Heather is my “pea buddy” – if any two were ever peas in a pod – its us!  She’s the friend I don’t have to actually say anything to for her to know what I’m thinking.  She totally “gets” me.   We routinely text each other the same thing at the same time – often one asking a question the other answers.  We both have a unusal love of queso – which leads us to the 3 days a week we meet at 5:45am on adjoining treadmills.  She’s the “other mother” to my boys – and they love her dearly.

There are so many things I admire about Heather – she has a kind heart and a calm and quiet soul.  I’ve learned great lessons from her that have helped me become a better woman, mother and wife.  I’m beyond thankful to have such a phenomenal person in my life!  Hope you had a fantastic birthday pea buddy – only best wishes for the year to come!

Zemler Kiddos Part 3

How lucky can I get?  Not only have I had the chance to meet and photograph Zemler Cousins here and here– I had the chance to meet another brother and sister tonight.  Thanks so much guys for working with me – it was so neat to meet you!!!!

Don’t Take Away the Music (or Art)

Shakespeare wrote that music was the food of love  and that it could tame even the most savage of beast.  As a youngster Maya Angelo found music to be her refuge in a turbulent childhood. Jimi Hendrix said that if there would ever be change in the world it would be through music.   Our mothers sang us to sleep with sweet lullabies about mocking birds and wild horses. Before many of us could speak in complete sentences we sang about an itsy bitsy spider and a water spout. Music has defined generations and accompanied us through every milestone in life.  Many favorite memories of my school years are of the songs we sang and instruments we played in music class.

(My brief stint as a violin student – I don’t remember how to play – but I do remember that Mrs. Gilbert made it fun and I believe my exposure as a child has lead to my eclectic love of music as an adult.)

In a era when education is focused on passing the test at the end of the year, meeting goals and quotas – many schools have found non-core classes such as art, music and even physical education being cut from budgets and pulled from class offerings.  I did a little research on the benefits of music education in early childhood (and on thru high school) recently, and was not too surprised with what I found.
Did you know:
  • Music (and art) education helps kids learn flexibility, problem solving and communication skills?  It instills in them the ability to learn new skills, to be creative and innovative. (source)
  • In early childhood music instruction blows computer instruction out of the water when assessing abstract reasoning skills (important for success in math and science) – exposure to music instruction at an early age correlates to long-term enhancement of spatial temporal reasoning. (source)
  • Children who have studied music performance and appreciation score higher on SAT’s then those that haven’t.  One studied showed a 53 point jump on verbal and 39 points on math. (source)
  • The US Department of education recognizes the role music and art education plays in a child’s intellectual development.  (source)
  • Studies have shown that some schools who have cut arts education have seen a decrease in morale and attendance among students and an increase in disciplinary issues. (source)
We are very lucky that WildHair boy’s school has not suffered the fate of so many schools across the country.  In fact, I would venture to say that we have the best music and art teachers in the district.   WildHair boy has always loved music and art days at school, and was very excited last year when he joined the school choir.  During his year with the choir he learned great lessons in self-dicipline, commitment and the importance of teamwork (a choir can not just be one voice – instead many come together to make music).
My son has developed a love and appreciation for music ranging from blue-grass to classic rock to top 40 hits.  He is excited about it.   At 10, he is becoming a guitar and banjo player, with a solid understanding of music and elementary music therory. While he has taken lessons, he is also self-motivated in learning and mastering the skill.  He is confident in performing and has acquired skills that will serve him well in his life.
Even though WildHair boy is not in the choir this year many of his friends are – wanting to see them perform today WildHair baby and I met up with the group at a local mall for their annual holiday performance.  Mr. Chandler (the music teacher) runs a pretty tight ship.  He expects great things from his students – they know it and from what I saw at the performance today  they certainly do not disappoint.  The performance was fantastic – a mix of music and dance.  Mr. Chandler chose a variety of holiday songs representing various winter celebrations – exposing the children not only to differing music styles, but also opening their minds to other religious and cultural beliefs.
In a few years WildHair baby will attend the same elementary school.  I hope that he will have the opportunity to study art and music and benefit from the same quality education that opened so many doors for his brother.  Take a few minutes to  contact your local school board and let them know that you do not wish to see your kids miss out on the educational and social opportunities that an education with a solid foundations in the arts will provide them.

{Fun} After School Entrepreneurs

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted.  They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”

Garrison Keillor

Yesterday we brought WildHair boy home from the hospital – a little bundle of joy that we weren’t quite sure how to care for.  I still remember walking into the house, putting him (still in his infant carrier) down on the floor, sitting on the couch next to my husband and both of us thinking – now what?!  Funny thing is it wasn’t just yesterday, it was over 10 years ago and tomorrow (well really this coming year) he will turn 11 and start the sixth grade – where did all those years go?

He is on the threshold of so many changes in life – still my little boy – with hints of the young man he is becoming poking through.  Not ready for this impending change that the next year will bring for us –   I’ve  tried this year to be more purposeful in slowing down and enjoying this time in our lives.  I’ve always been a “hands-on – get down on the ground and build legos and play with cars” kind of mom –  but I don’t know that I’ve always been totally present in those moments.  Even the most fervent, well-intentioned parents find themselves falling short in turning off the rest of the world and tuning into their kids.  While I’m still not where I want to be as a parent in this sense, I try every day to enjoy the little things, not stress out about mess and truly “be” there.

This afternoon Wildhair boy and his friends decided to try a new twist on an old standby and opened a candy gram stand.  I have to give the kids credit – it was chilly, and dreary, and we don’t exactly live on a well traveled street – but they made signs, danced and yelled, Wildhair boy even pulled out his guitar and banjo to draw attention and entertain as cars drove by.  They spent an hour outside and made a dollar.  More important than a profit – they made a memory that they will carry with them.  Wildhair baby even joined the fun – he loves it when his bubby plays the banjo for him.

When I was a kid, Mrs Zabel across the street was the mom with the mad skills when it came to letting kids be kids.  I have so many memories of her kitchen table – eating cookies, making crafts, just being a kid.  Recently I asked her to share  the secret of how to be  the “go-to” mom in the neighborhood.  She said to have lots of Kool-Aid and an open mind (well, I think that is what she said – it sure seems like something she would say).  So I keep our fridge stocked with juice boxes – the craft cabinet stocked with supplies – the kids gathered around the kitchen table – and try to remember each day to enjoy the mess.


{Sneak Peek} The Duncan’s Part 2

Ok, I just could not go to bed without posting these….  

S o c i a l   M e d i a
C o n t a c t   W H P