Thursday, June 16, 2016

Learning About the Orchestra

(Original post from May 7, 2013)

I'm doing something I've never done before. 

We are picking one thing and learning as much about the one thing as we can in 6 weeks.

We chose Stravinsky's "The Firebird."  Along with learning about Stravinsky and ballet and Russia and Russian Fairy tales and "how to write a story" and Russian food, we are learning about the parts of the Orchestra.

The resources I found for learning about the orchestra is what I would like to share today.

Here are some things we have been doing:

WORKSHEETS ABOUT INSTRUMENT FAMILIES (printable - my kids like the crossword puzzle that goes along with the illustrated instruments.)


MORE Instruments of the OCHESTRA (online, also SOoooO fun!)

After we got familiar with the instrument families in the Orchestra we used this link to test our knowledge:
(Just follow the instructions.)


And it you REALLY want to have fun, check out the PERFORMALATOR. You'll thank me later.  ;-)

These sites are so full of fun ways to learn about music, we haven't even begun to scratch the surface, but we are having a great time.

Leave a comment if you find a fun thing on one of these sites that I should try with my family.  THANKS!

ATC - Artist Trading Cards

Have you made Artist Trading Cards with your family?

When I stumbled across this great idea in the "Family Fun" magazine I thought, "What a fun way for kids to do art!"

Artist Trading Cards are small, so it doesn't take a long time to produce one and because of their size, it's fun to try a variety of techniques, but the BEST part of Artist Trading Cards is TRADING THEM!

So how do you get started?  Here are some ideas:

Artist Trading Cards
Your ATC's should be exactly 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches.  

You could use scissors or a paper trimmer to make your own cards.

Cardstock works very well.

Would NOT recommend computer/copy paper.


1.      Every card must be 2 ½ x 3 ½ inches in size. 
2.      They can be traded but never sold.
1.      Write your name on the back of every card you make.
2.      Think about giving it a title when you are done.
3.      Take your time.
4.      Do your best work.
5.      Use the whole card.
6.      Remember, there is no such thing as “wrong” in art.

Suggested Supplies:
Black pen
Black permanent marker
Stamps  (IE store bought stamps, potato stamps, foam stamps)
Ink to use with stamps.
Colored pencils
Gel pens
Spin Art machine or Salad spinner (for making spin art)
Your thumb or other fingers (fingerprints)
Glue stick
Tissue paper
White glue
Half dollar or glass – for tracing circles
Watercolor paint
Magazine cutouts
Fortune cookie slips
____________________  (There are sooo many more ways you can decorate your cards, use your imagination.)

Suggested Techniques:

TESSELATION: Tessellation, a term used in art and science, refers to a repeated pattern that fills a defined area (such as a wallpaper design, a quilt, or many of M. C. Escher's artworks). To make a tessellation-inspired design, use a black pen to draw a freehand shape with several closed spaces (for example, a circle divided into pizza slices or a snowman). Fill each space with a tiny repeating pattern, such as dots, squares, flowers, circles, or triangles.

STAMPSStore-bought or homemade stamps (such as a potato or a foam stamp) are easy for the youngest artists to handle and can be the centerpiece of a card embellished with markers, glitter, or other supplies. If you are using various colored inks, clean the stamp with a wet rag or baby wipe before switching shades.

LOOP-THE-LOOPLoop a marker or gel pen around in a scribble, finally rejoining the line to the starting point. The image should look like a tangled piece of string with lots of loops. Fill each one with color, using marker, colored pencil, or gel pen.

SPIN ART: Attach a card to the center of a Spin Art machine with masking tape. Use tempera or acrylic paints and spin. For a variation, add interesting lines by gently scraping the wooden or plastic end of a paintbrush across the card as it turns. (If you don't have a Spin Art machine, try placing the card in the bottom of an old salad spinner; set it spinning, then remove the top and drip in the paint.)

FINGERPRINTS: Press your fingers onto an ink pad with washable ink, then onto a card. Use a pen or marker to add to the design. Stumped for ideas? Try drawing things that contain a circle or an oval: a spider, a ladybug, a snowman, a flower, a sun, or a moon.

STAINED-GLASS TISSUE: Cut various colors of tissue paper into pieces the size of a nickel or bigger. Using a glue stick, cover the whole card with the pieces; you can overlap them to create new colors. When the glue is dry, outline the edges of the pieces -- or "panes" -- with black permanent marker. To finish, paint the card with a thin coating of white glue.

VENN DIAGRAMIn math and logic, a Venn diagram, with its overlapping circles, is used to demonstrate shared qualities among different sets of things. Create a Venn diagram card by drawing around a small glass or a large coin with a black pen to form an overlapping pair of circles. Next, fill in the circles with designs. To make a true Venn diagram, fill the area of overlap with elements that appear on both sides.

RESISTCreate a simple design in light-colored crayon, then use a watercolor paint to wash or paint over the design. The card will absorb the watercolor paint, but the waxy crayon will resist it.

COLLAGE: The possibilities for a collage card are almost endless -- you can use magazine cutouts, seeds, thread, even fortune cookie slips. Adhere the materials to the card with a glue stick. If you're working with friends, pick a theme like soccer, spring, or space and see how each of you interprets it.

I am so glad I scanned in the actual article, because I was never ever to locate my magazine again, I've tried to find it online just to see ideas for cards, but there aren't as many pictures in the online version, so I am sharing the scanned images with you.

I hope you enjoy the ideas below as much as I have.

(If you want to read the text, open the photo in a new tab to see the image in it's larger size.)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mattress Review

Here is my review of the Doctors's Choice firm matress with individually wrapped coils:

Day one: Lots of tossing and turning. My husband woke up with lower back pain, probably iritated, but I never found out because I woke up with lower back pain, too and I'm angry.

Days two and three: same as day one, but slightly less angry.

Day four: We're both still sleeping horribly and woke up in pain again. We're pretty sure we hate this mattress. My husband calls mattress company to see about returning it.. . . They said they were sorry it was horrible but we should try it for a minimum of two weeks, because that is how long it takes to break in any matress.. . . Reluctantly we agree.

Day six: same as day one, and the anger is still there.

Day six: Husband wakes up with lower back pain AGAIN! And I had the audacity to fall asleep on my stomach the night before (which I really never, ever do) I wake up concerned about how I had slept, but don't think too much about it and naively think the pain will go away during the day.

Days seven, eight and nine: bed is aggravating my back. . . I can't stand up straight...I cancel everything....except a crazy fun dinner with our friends.

Day 10: Bed is clearly not alleviating the pain in my back and the morning speeds downhill from there. Tears. I deny that I should visit the chiropractor, five minutes later when I'm crawling to my room I consent to go to the chiropractor. 

The next few days are a blur. Quick summary: 3 more visits to the chiropractor for me and 2 trips to a massage therapistordered pizza for dinner. Ryan seriously considered buying a hot tub.

Day 14: We both sleep on a couch.

Day 15: We want a refund. Ryan visits mattress company, they suggest we try it for another month, but we're not falling for that anymore. Sales lady casually mentions that almost everyone who buys this mattress returns it. . . . . That would have been helpful information three weeks ago.

Day whatever today is: Crazy mattress is gone...we've been sleeping more comfortably on an air matress for the last few nights and tonight we'll be sleeping on our new Purple mattress for the first time . . . I'll let you know how that goes.

Probably going to be awesome!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Fajita Salad

Serves 2-4

Simple, easy and delicious! 

*3 sweet bell peppers (red, orange and yellow) remove seeds and slice
*1 yellow onion sliced
*2 cloves crushed garlic

Sauté in a drizzle of olive oil over medium low to medium heat.

Stir in
*2 cups of black beans
*1 teaspoon Chili powder

Serve over a bed of greens, with a corn tortilla and salsa. sprinkle a little grated cheese on top.

Optional, squeeze lime juice on top or use a Chipotle Ranch.

Monday, October 13, 2014

"Chick'n" Noodle Soup


4 cups vegetable broth
2 carrots peeled and chopped
1/2 large onion chopped
3 celery ribs chopped
2 cups of cooked chickpeas
1 teaspoon crushed basil
1 teaspoon crushed oregano
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 clove garlic crushed
1 bay leaf
3.5 ounces whole wheat egg noodles


Combine all ingredients in a 4 quart crock pot for 4-6 hours on high.

Add whole wheat egg noodles for the last 30 minutes.

Remove bay leaf before serving.

Serves 4.

We served this soup with Caesar Salad and warm rolls. It was delicious and reminding me of having dinner at my grandma's house.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I knew this day was coming

Today was THE day.

I got the hospital records today.

I was looking forward to this, but still I was quite nervous to know what they said, too. Our family doctor requested the records for me a few weeks ago and today I picked them up.  She took a few minutes to read over some parts with me.

According to the records our baby (Ella) may have been as old as 30 weeks. . . .wow. . . that was really hard to hear. I'm not sure how that would be possible based on her size, but I suppose if she wasn't growing that could explain why she was so small.  She probably wasn't any younger than 26 weeks.

It was strangely comforting to read the records.  I mentioned in a previous post that even though I held Ella for what I thought was a long time, I wish I had held her so.much.longer.  I was grateful that someone from the hospital took the time to examine her.  I don't know how long an exam like that takes, but it meant a lot to me that someone spent that time with her.  We requested that they not do an autopsy, we felt like her little body had been through enough already.  So they did a Gross Examination - which means they recorded everything they could tell about her just by looking at her, no cutting.

I learned that:
* the two placentas were fused together
* the cords were inserted in different positions, one in the center and one (Ella's) more on the side, I think.
* she had no birth defects
* there were no knots in the either cord
* she was a little swollen and red
* she had all her fingers and toes ( I did hold her long enough to know that myself, I was just glad someone else had documented that)
* she was 15 oz.
* she was 12 and 3/4"
* her skin was very, very delicate, wrinkled

There are more things I learned. I wrote them out but deleted them. Ultimately I felt they were too personal to share.

It's funny, but it made me feel better to know that she had no birth defects, and had all her fingers and toes.

Also, I know that what I saw, and what the pictures show isn't who she really is.

When I close my eyes and imagine what she looks like, I see a happy little girl about three or four years old with curly blonde hair, fair skin, blue eyes, and a big smile on face with a handful of freckles sprinkled across her nose. She's spinning around in a little dress and it's like my brain is using that camera setting that makes all the edges blurry. . .  do you know what  I'm talking about?  That is how I picture her in my head; little, happy and beautiful.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Angel Garden

While I was recovering in the hospital Ryan and my dad went to visit a local cemetery to see about burial arrangements for Ella.

Ryan wrote this post about his experience:

When we found out what happened with Ella our Bishop made some calls to funeral homes in the area, and he found one that told him that they had an area designated as the “Angel Garden” and that the total cost would be about $500. Traci’s dad and I made an appointment to go visit with them. We planned to stop in, chat with someone briefly, then see the Angel Garden and finalize everything. In my mind I pictured a nice, serene place, perhaps in the middle of the cemetery or along a tree-lined area, with a white fence around it and a beautiful sign that said “Angel Garden” with perhaps a statue and a few stone benches for parents to sit on as they visit the gravesite.

 We met with the funeral home director and she had obviously been trained to talk really slowly and try really hard to be empathetic, because she would talk so slow and say things such as “Oh…I am…sooooo…sorry for your loss…” and “This must be….so…difficult….I am soooo……..sorrry….for your loss.” She proceeded to, slowly, go through some pricing, and it turned out the $500 was only part of the fee. At one point she excused herself and said someone else would be in, and it was the cemetery director. She had additional costs, such as a tombstone and some other fees. In the end it was going to be about $1500 and we had spent over 90 minutes there. I asked a few times if we could see the area, and she would say “we can do that at the end.” Finally when we were almost done I said “I would really like to see the area – can we do that now” and she reluctantly said we could. 

We walked out together on the main road within the cemetery that runs parallel Business Loop (the interstate) and after we walked about half a block she said “This is it.” I looked around and said “Where?” She pointed to a small area on the right side of the road we were on, to a grassy area next to the Business Loop. 

I looked at it and it was full of junky, broken toys and had some weeds in it.

 She said that it is a difficult area to maintain, because they don’t feel that they should ever move the toys, so the caretakers just have to weed whack around them. 

I asked if they ever cleaned up the toys once they get broken and she said no. 

I asked where Ella would be buried, and she pointed to a spot that had some toys on it. I asked why there were toys there, and she said that families aren’t required to get a headstone in that area, so there are a few unmarked graves, and one of the moms was certain that her child was buried there, even though the cemetery showed her that her child was in a different spot. 

The Business Loop is busy and I asked about that – she said they put up a temporary wall during services. Not too far from the area are bars and tattoo parlors, along with grocery stores, car lots, etc.

 I walked away from the whole experience feeling sick – the whole thing just felt wrong. Traci’s dad and I talked about it quite a bit as we went throughout the day. He felt the same way I did. I discussed it with Traci and the thought of putting Ella there did not feel right at all.

This is Traci now:

It was a very hard decision.  We had concerns about burying Ella there. 
* What if we ever move out of the area? 
* Would we feel comfortable going to that part of town to visit her grave? 
* It would be heartbreaking to leave her there in an area of the cemetery that doesn't seem to be maintained.
* It just seemed so wrong to bury this innocent little child across the street from a Singles Bar.  
* Wouldn't we be sad to see other people's broken toys strewn all over the area? (YES!!)
* What about the traffic?
* What about the weeds?

What we wanted was a 



beautiful place 

of dignity for our baby  to rest.

This was not it.

We could not leave her there, but we had to do something.  

But what choices are there?

We talked about creating a memorial for her in our yard, about making our own beautiful Angel Garden.  Maybe a child's sized bench with a plaque? Maybe a little statue of an angel or a fairy.  What about a special bush or tree?  What about a swing-set as a memorial? What about a balloon launch?  We liked all of these ideas.  

We had this vision of a beautiful, peaceful, happy place, like what Heaven would look like for a child.

And we also have something else that is a great comfort (in addition to Emma).  We were given a very special gift from the hospital.  They provided us with a beautiful, lavender,  rice paper box with keepsakes for Ella.

We had the sweetest nurse I've ever met. 

She so sweetly bathed our Ella, carefully dressed her in her itty-bitty clothes, and took some very special pictures of her.  

She put Ella's tiny clothes, 

her little hats,

her seashells, 

a bracelet, 

and photos 

in the box for us.  

* This we COULD take with us. 
* This was beautiful.
* This was dignified.
* This was clean.
* This was personal.

After thoughtful conversations with my husband, he and I decided to have the hospital help us take care of Ella's body. 

And now we don't have Ella, but we have the box.

I am so glad we have that box.  It sits on a shelf in my closet. I know right where it is.  We have that and it is so much more dignified than a weedy plot next to the Interstate.