Sunday, February 1, 2015

Absolutely beautiful.




Lord, Have Mercy

Monday, December 15, 2014

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon this tonight.

I was replaying the portion of Handel's Messiah from today's Advent devotional segment this evening.  It's the trio from Young Messiah (1994) of Larnelle Harris, Steve Green and Michael English singing Surely, He Hath Borne our Sins.  I could listen to it over and over.  We started watching a few more Young Messiah pieces from the same concert recording.  I used to listen to it many times over in my late teens and early twenties.

And then James and I noticed that in the line up there was a video from Moody Church Media.  Well, we certainly had to look at what that was.  And this resulted in a little walk down memory lane, accompanied by this perfectly gorgeous piece that I'd never heard of before.  The soloist is a man that studied at Moody with me, but I think graduated a couple years after me.  The conductor is the iconic Gerald Edmonds, one of my teachers at Moody, music director at Moody church for 27 years, and the man who along with David Davis, I credit with teaching me how to conduct.

15 years ago, this was our church home for the duration of our time in Chicago.  I walked across that stage, through those choir seats and up and down those aisles more times than I can count.  I conducted children's choirs and even the adult choir once from that stage, I directed the children's christmas pageant from those steps, and I scurried through the back passageways behind those rounded-top doors with a headset on each year during Candlelight Carols, helping to get the Nativity actors out on their cue.  Behind the left door (stage right) and up a wee hallway was the recording room that I could always find James in....if he wasn't up at the top of the balcony at the live soundboard of this massive, 4000 seat church in downtown Chicago.  It had a children's program so large that I would 'make my rounds' each Sunday morning to provide music for each class, of each department of the Sunday School.

Phew.  Didn't realize how much I missed all that until just now.  I've now listened to about 5 versions by other churches or choirs and Moody's is by far the most beautiful and sensitive. Give this a listen, mom.  I guarantee you'll like it.


Adventures of a Landry Teacher

Monday, December 1, 2014



That's me!  I'm a Landry teacher.

Let me tell you all about it....I've been wanting to for months, but I've been SO busy preparing and teaching my Landry class that there has been ZERO time to blog.  But now I will try and sneak it in, while I'm waiting on Livechat for my budgeting program to get fixed.

Last spring, I saw an email come through from one of the many homeschooling associations/companies/organizations/support groups/whatever, that I subscribe to.  The subject line said something about a job opportunity.  Always interested in a way to make a little more money, I looked right into that.

It looked like a pretty interesting/good deal to me.  Teach online, from my house, get paid for it! Very cool.  I submitted a resume and proposal of what I could possibly teach. Landry specializes in providing online classes for homeschooling students.
A few weeks later, I heard back from Landry and they were interested in me!  They set up a phone interview for shortly after and I "met" one of the directors, a lady named Karri.  She seemed very lovely and it was an enjoyable interview.  She told me that by the end of the week (this was a Tuesday, I believe) they would let me know if I had passed into the next level of interviews, and would do a demo class for them.
End of the week nuthin'.  They emailed before the end of the day.  I took this as a good sign. :-)

So my next rite of passage was to create a short, 5 minute presentation about my specialty with powerpoint.  I LOVE making powerpoint presentations.  So fun.  I said to James the other night that I realized why I love making them so much....because it's rather like scrapbooking, but digital.
Somewhere along the line, Landry had said that they were interested in me to teach a class called "Meet the Composers", a music history-type course.  Sounded good to me.  I've never actually taught music history, but I've taught pretty much everything else in terms of music, and 5 semesters of Music History and Literature with Dr. Strandt had to come in handy somewhere!!

I made my presentation on Vivaldi (my fav) and spent some time getting acquainted with the programs they use for running Landry--Blackboard Collaborate for actually teaching, and Haiku for personalized class web pages, which is where you post all the assignments and such.

My audition/demo teaching came and went with no problems.  I felt it went very well, and settled in to wait for the week or so to pass until they called with my verdict.  Even though I was confident, I was still a little nervous...
If I got this job, it would go a LONG way to helping pay for Verity's gymnastics.  This past summer she moved up to 18 hours of training per week.  We had hoped to pay for the whole year in one shot and relieve the stress of monthly payments, but it wasn't possible.  If I got the number of students they anticipated, it would more than pay for her whole year.  How awesome would that be!?

Of course, by now, you know that I got the job.  Yay!!  I got to work making my syllabus and beginning to create the class.  I had the whole summer (well...most.  Landry starts early, about mid-August) so I was not worried.  Even though I knew I had to create 15, 90 minute classes complete with powerpoint, assignments, tests, etc., I thought it would be no problem.  I had the whole summer, right?
Well, first off, we got a foreign billet student.  I didn't know until a day or two before she arrived from France, that I had to spend at least 1-2 hours per day teaching her English.  And of course showing her our fine country.  Didn't get as much work done during that time as I'd hoped...and that was most of July.
And...it just took much longer than I anticipated.  I got my syllabus done by June 30th (about a month to do that) and got to work on fleshing out my research.  I can't remember when I got that done, but I sat every day during the first two weeks of July, for 2 hours while my kids took swimming lessons, working on it at the pool.
Once I had all my info, it would take me 2-3 hours to write my lesson, 4-6 hours to make the powerpoint (I was teaching grades 4-6, I knew I needed LOTS of graphics), another 1-2 hours to make up the student notes outline and then, say 2-3 hours to find all my music and create the assignments and class pages for that week.  Sooo, that's like a week working at a part-time job.  And since I was still teaching in the evenings during the summer, and of course still at home with the kids all day, it would definitely take me a week, if I sat down every spare moment and worked on it. I had four lessons fully done by the time classes started.  My August holidays at Fair Havens fell during my second week of classes, so I was still working madly on classes, as well as having to arrange to go somewhere with decent internet to actually teach the class that week (thank you inlaws that live close to camp!!)

So anyways, I did manage to get far enough ahead of myself that I only scraped close to class time once or twice, and it was all good.  This week is the last class and I'm set to go.  I've actually started my prep for next semesters class, which is sort-of a continuation of this semester and sort-of not.  This semester focused on Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, and next is Classical, Romantic and Modern.

As well as teaching the class, another interesting opportunity arose.  Landry often holds 'webinars' that teachers give on all kinds of topics, and it's a way to provide the general public with samples of Landry teachers, as well as provide some free expertise of various topics of interest.  My department has apparently made it a tradition to hold a week of webinars in November (one each night) specifically on the arts and Christmas.  My class had been quite small this semester; nowhere near the numbers that had been talked about in my interview, so my department head thought a webinar would be a perfect opportunity for me to bump up my profile.  I put my mind to the task and came up with (who am I kidding, the credit is all the Lord's) making an Advent devotional.  Despite the fact that I was stressed to the max trying to get the rest of my class created in time to teach it each week, somehow, I felt that I could 'fit' in creating, essentially, a book.
I killed two birds with one stone, for a good part of it though.  The idea was to make an Advent devotional based on Handel's Messiah.  Each day would include scripture from the libretto of Messiah, a discussion or explanation of the scripture, application to life, etc, and then a bit of biographical info on Handel, which of course I had already prepared for my class.  Each day's portion closes with a link to a youtube video of the featured Messiah chorus or aria for that day.  As a homeschool mom, I loved this idea because it would cover my daily devotions with my kids--with an Advent flavour no less, a bit of history, and then application and music appreciation.  Messiah is gorgeous but who takes four young-ish kids to a 2 hour performance of it?  Not this crazy mama! This way, they'd be exposed everyday for the month of December and hopefully by the 25th, be in love with Messiah.  In more ways than one.

It, of course, ended up being a fair bit more work than I thought (I am the queen of underestimating, I do believe) but the end result was quite pleasing.  I presented the devotional during a 1/2 hour long webinar which had a very pleasing turnout of about 40 people.  My 'free gift' to all attendees was access to this devotional at no cost. :-)

You too can have access to it as well!  All webinars are recorded, and  you can watch the recording here.  Just look down the list until you see "Celebrate the Advent Season with Handel's Messiah".
No, no, I can't give away the devotional link...you'll have to get that by watching the webinar!! Heehee!

So now my budget problem is not fixed...they have created a trouble ticket...sigh.  And it's time for me to go to bed...

This is why I'm off Facebook

Thursday, October 9, 2014

I can't seem to embed it, so you'll have to (gasp) click one extra time.

http://www.wimp.com/correcthumanity/#close

Well, it's not the entire reason, but I'll get to that later.


Jairus and the Soccer Tournament

Saturday, October 4, 2014

This is our second year involved in a local, and rather large, homeschooling group called T.E.A.C.H. (To educate a child's heart).  I really enjoy and appreciate what it offers us, as of course organized sports are not something we can easily conjure up for ourselves.  This year, as last, only Jairus and Honour are old enough to actually participate in the sports programs.  Last year they both did basketball, floor hockey and a bit of baseball.  The program runs for 3 weeks of two hour sessions that they call "skills and drills", and then after that the teams are chosen.  Last year neither Jairus or Honour made any of the teams, but this was understandable because they were both among the youngest of the groups. Well...and because Jairus' main goal was to have fun. :-)

As this new school year started, I saw that soccer was being held.  We missed it last year for some reason.  As soccer is pretty much Jairus' favourite sport, I knew there was no question that we'd go to it.  Verity's gym schedule made it tricky, as she needed to be in Caledonia at the same time as soccer started in Brantford.  We split the difference; Verity was early and we were late.

After the 3rd skills and drills session, we were packing up to go when the coach for the boys team came over to me.  He worked with Jairus last year with no problems, so I was pleased to see him coaching the soccer boys.  As he approached, he had a grin and was chuckling a bit.  He told me that if I thought Jairus would be ok with it, he would put him on the team.  I was pretty surprised, and I guess it was obvious.  He explained that he'd made it clear to the boys that skills were not going to be the only deciding factor to making the team, but that attitude would count for a lot.  He described Jairus' encouraging behaviour with the other boys and said that he wouldn't mind at all if Jairus was on the team.  He cautioned that Jairus may not get much actual field time, but this was something he was telling all the boys.  I was SO pleased, and told him that I'd talk to Jairus and let him know.  Truthfully, I wasn't sure how much Jairus would actually understand; after participating in the sports last year for only the 3 skills and drills each time, I thought he might not realize that these were actually part of the try-out process.  However, that night as he was going to bed I mentioned it to him, and he really did seem to understand--and was pleased and excited.

This past Monday he had his first set of exhibition games, which since I had to work, James took the day off to take him to.  It was a good afternoon and Jairus got a little time on the field.

Friday of this week was the big soccer tournament, attended by the area Christian schools. T.E.A.C.H. is a member of the organization.  
We got there just past 8:30am and got Jairus into his shirt, cleats and shin guards.  The morning was warm and bright, with a strong wind.  Jairus started to get warmed up with his team.








The boys had 4 games that morning and I wasn't surprised that Jairus didn't get to play in any of them.  Happy as he so often is, it didn't seem to bother him.  Often as I checked on him, he'd be hopping around with an extra ball behind the bench, or standing near the coach, like a little assistant.  During the breaks, one of Jairus' friends invited him to play around. :-)


Rain was in the forecast for around lunchtime, and unfortunately the weather man did not lie.  By 12:45 or so, the rain started to fall and many kids took shelter under the big tarp someone had wisely brought.



They had won 3 games out of 4 during the morning but the rain made things difficult.  They lost what was a semi finals game which sent them into a consolation game for 3rd place.  The first half of the game saw the boys let in 4 goals...not so great for the team, but good news for Jairus!  James had arrived by this point and we were both excited to see the coach's wife help Jairus off with his jacket.  He was on the field!















Now that he'd gotten on the field, my next goal was that he'd kick the ball.  Jairus is not terribly aggressive out there and would do a lot of running around a safe distance away from the action.  But finally he was in the right spot at the right time...and gave the ball a good kick (in the right direction!!).  I was just thrilled.  Despite the soaking rain, he had a great time.


Lindley Pumpkin farm


There is just nothing more fun than going on a fall trip.  When I was a kid, my most favouritist (yes, that's a word) place was Chudley's apple farm.   LOVED that place.  This year, our farm of choice was Lindleys in Ancaster.  We went with quite a large homeschooling group organized by my friends Jen and Rachael.


First we took a wagon ride through the farm and out to the pumpkin patch.  Here's some of my widdow pumpkins. (lol)



Then we got out and had our pick of hundreds of pumpkins.  We were the first group to come through!





Then we wagonned back and the kids got to feed a small collection of farm animals, sat through a wee educational blurb about pumpkins and then had an apple for a snack around some tables set up under a large tent/shed.  I remarked to a friend as we chatted that my kids were never so interested in eating apples...doing it with friends seemed to make all the difference.  Then they got to play around on a few slides and climbers...and investigate the Halloween decorations already set up.



Each of my kids brought home a pie pumpkin.  The big girls chose big pumpkins, Afton chose a medium sized, and Jairus chose a wee little tiny thing.  They were all set to carve them, but I reminded them that the farmer had warned that these pumpkins were for making pies and had a very tough rind.  They were really better for making something....like a pie.  Verity decided that this was exactly what she wanted to do.  By some miracle, I had everything needed in the pantry to make a pumpkin pie.  So, Google to the rescue to teach me what the heck to do with a pumpkin in order to get it into pie consistency.  First, we cut them in half and the kids did the gunky part--scraped away all the innards and seeds.



Honour decided that her pumpkin was going to have a face, however she had to create it.



Then, I cut the pumpkin (yes, I, no we about this part) into large chunks and the kids got them all into the pots.  It made A LOT of pumpkin.


That's only half of it!





When the pieces had boiled away for about 1/2 an hour, they were soft enough to come out and cool on racks for a bit.



Honour was determined to make use of ALL the pumpkin parts (Man, she would have made a great pioneer).  This was her "pumpkin guts broth", which actually smelled quite nice and I used it as the base to the pumpkin soup we ate that night.  She of course also roasted all the seeds.  Yum. :-)


Amazingly, I had a box of Crisco in the fridge (I NEVER have that stuff) and Verity and I were pretty impressed at how easy it was to make a pie crust.  Another googled recipe for the proper spices later, we had a very pretty, and VERY yummy pumpkin pie.  And TONNES of pumpkin left over to make more for next weekend!!  Happy Thanksgiving!!


Nicola McMaster Memorial Highland Dance Competition

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Did I say recently that Honour had "not yet accomplished" winning a trophy? :-)