Archive for June, 2013

The Prairie Family has a new-to-us acoustic piano!  We are delighted!  I have always loved my digital piano and really wouldn’t trade it for anything, but I have wanted to get a “regular” piano for quite awhile.  My kids have always practiced on my digital piano, but when they play in public, it is usually on an acoustic.  The touch of an acoustic is just different enough that it takes them a little bit to adjust.

This particular piano belonged to a special couple who were leaders in my church when I was growing up.  They have both recently passed away, and their daughter thought I might like to have the piano.  Dan and I both agreed that we would love to have the piano, but we really weren’t sure that we could get it into our house!  Our house has sharp turns at each of its entrances, and we have always had problems moving large objects in and out of our house.  That’s probably why we waited so long to get a piano–we had no idea how we’d get it in here!  We told them that we’d do some checking around about moving the piano and that we would be happy to give it a new home if we could figure out the details.

We definitely live “on the prarie,” and there are few resources like piano movers in our area.  The nearest option was in a larger town 1 1/2 hours away.  We contacted that music store to see if they could help us, and they said they could do that, but we would have to pay mileage, delivery fees, etc.  We explained the doors of our house, and they thought they’d be able to get the piano in, so we said that we’d like to be put on their list.  Well, within a few days, they called and had other pianos to deliver in our area anyway, so they said they’d come move the piano for the regular fee for delivering in their own town!  Boy, were we happy!  So, they loaded up the piano, brought it to our house, squeezed it through the door/entry way by tipping it on its side, and set it down in its new home.  Their service was well worth the price of having them do it–they knew how to tip the piano and move it safely.

The kids love this piano!  It sits in the same room as my computer, right in the middle of our upstairs.  The kids all have songbooks at the piano and sit down to play for fun very, very often.  They consider the digital their “serious practice” instrument, and this piano the “fun” instrument.  Now, that is cool–seeing them play just for fun the things they like is very rewarding!  Kara has discovered that she can play and read the notes well enough to learn songs on her own.  She is currently working herself through a beginner hymn book and is memorizing the songs as she goes!  🙂 Brock, who has not played the piano for several years, has also begun sitting down to plunk out songs.  He has discovered that he remembers more than he thought he did, and that playing the piano is actually fun!  He is considering starting back up with lessons, and I think that would be great.

So, we are very happy to have this new-to-us piano.  It is filling our home with happy sounds!

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A New Adventure

Well, this is pretty exciting!  Several months ago, I approached the board of our church about the possibility of purchasing the orchestrations for our hymnal so that we could start a church ensemble that would accompany the congregational singing.  I really had no idea if people would like this or not.  Most churches in our area struggle to just have a piano player, so it is very unusual that our little church has enough instrumentalists to be able to have a small orchestra. I was surprised that not only did the board think this would be a good idea, they could not wait to get it started!  I had originally thought that we would start in the fall, but our pastor really wanted to get going as soon as we could possibly be ready.

So, we ordered the parts and got our music in order, and we were able to play for our first service on June 16.  For now the ensemble is planning on playing for the services on the third Sundays of each month.  We are far from perfect, but perfection is really not the goal.  Our goal is to enhance and participate more fully in the worship portion of our services.  And I will say that it was pretty cool sitting up there playing the cello hearing the congregation singing some of my favorite hymns at the tops of their voices.  Now that is a blessing!

For the first service that our ensemble played, Cosette played first violin, Brock played second violin, John played the viola, and I played the cello.  Dan hopes to play his trumpet soon–possibly in July.  Luke’s not too far from being able to handle some of the parts on his violin. And–here’s a surprise–Kara has started playing the trumpet too!  So, one of these days she’ll get to join in with the other brass players in the group (including the wonderful young lady who is teaching her to play)!  That will be really neat–and really what being a musical family is all about:  worshiping Christ together with the tools He has given us!

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Rich Word’s of Wisdom

Rich's Wisdom

This man is a special friend to the Prairie Family.  My kids got to know and love him while we were in the cast of Paint Your Wagon.  He always had time to sit down with them and tell them his stories and words of wisdom–he’s quite an example to them in many ways.  This wonderful man was also part of the cast for A Night at the Prairie Museum, and again, he was such a blessing.  His enthusiasm is just contagious.

Like I said, Rich is rich with wisdom.  He sees things in ways I just don’t see.  That’s why I find myself taking meticulous mental notes when he is sharing with us.  He said something regarding this museum camp that I think will stick with me forever.  He was talking about how interesting it is to study people.  He said that it is just fascinating to him how as he digs deeper and deeper into a character, he finds more intricacies and interconnections with other people and events that sparks more curiosity and research, and he loves it.  That’s when he told me how much he likes studying people everywhere he goes–not just “famous” people or “historical” figures, but everybody.  “Everybody has a story.  Everybody has a character.  And everyone has an INTERESTING story and character.”  Boy, isn’t that the truth?!  It’s so simple and obvious, but it is so true.  It is neat to hear people’s stories–to appreciate what they have done and accomplished and to learn from that.

So, I want to be like our friend Rich someday.  Someone who is positive, encouraging and involved with others.  What a blessing it is to be able to call him our friend!

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Marion Talley Cosette Collage

Cosette chose to portray Marion Talley for A Night at the Prairie Museum.  This character fit her perfectly–she loved seeing the pretty opera costumes that had been donated to the museum and  was very excited to find a video clip of this lady singing. Cosette really wanted to look like Marion Talley for her performance, so we found a picture and tried to match it as best as we could.

Marion Talley was born in 1906 and pursued music even as a young child.  By the time she was eight years old, she was already playing the piano and the violin.  She was singing in local opera productions by the time she was a teenager.  It was during one of these productions that her talent was truly discovered.  She went on to study professionally and performed with the New York Metropolitan Opera.  She performed with the opera for four seasons, but then retired saying that she wanted to be able to spend more time with the land that she owned in Kansas.  Although she never actually moved to Colby, she did enjoy having her picture taken in combines and tractors.

This is a video of Marion Talley performing with the New York Metropolitan Opera:

And here is one more photo of Cosette as Marion Talley just because I love it!

Free Press 4b

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General Thomas Brock collage

Brock’s character for the Night at the Prairie Museum camp was the Civil War general, George H. Thomas.  When Brock saw the artifact at the museum for Thomas’s portrayal, a Grand Army of the Republic sword, Brock just couldn’t resist the rare opportunity to dress up and hold it!  I have had people ask where he got his costume.  I am pretty sure that it was borrowed from the local high school.  The sword, of course, came from the museum.

George Thomas was born in 1816, and he was raised in Virginia.  He was appointed to study at West Point and graduated with high ranking in his class.  When the conflicts began that eventually led to the Civil War, Thomas found himself in an awkward position.  He loved his home state of Virginia, but he also firmly believed that the United States should not be divided.  He ended up siding with the preservation of the Union and was viewed as a traitor in the South.  His own family rejected him because of his loyalty to the North and even turned his picture in their home to face the wall.  He was in constant danger of being captured by the Confederate Army and was sure to be hanged as a traitor if they were successful.

General Thomas went on to be a major Union leader and led many successful battles in the Western Theater of the war.  He was a private, humble man, however, and did not aspire to politics or to even having his memoirs published.  Because of this, he is not as well known as other Civil War generals despite his great achievements.

We are proud that our county is named after this great man, and it was a neat moment to see Brock portray him.  We all agree that George Thomas’s life would be interesting to study futher–maybe he will be the subject of an upcoming paper for school!

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Mr. Beck John Collage

John really surprised me when he came home from his first day at the museum camp and told me the person he had chosen to portray, but it was a pleasant surprise!  John selected a long-term music teacher in our town, Bill Beck.  Mr. Beck was quite a man.  He was known to be very particular about his musical performances, and he earned the respect of his students and peers.  He expected nothing short of excellence during his long tenure as the director of the school bands.

One of the highlights of Mr. Beck’s career was when his band was selected to march in the 1977 inaugural parade for President Jimmy Carter.  I remember that day well because I was in first grade, and the school had arranged for televisions to be placed in the classrooms so we could all watch the Colby High School band march on national TV.  Watching TV in school was a rare treat in 1977!  🙂 The band had many fund raisers to help them go to Washington, D.C., and the theme of the fund raisers was “Band Aid.”

Many members of the community remember being in Mr. Beck’s bands including my Mom and Dad.  He had retired from formal teaching by the time I was in high school, but I was privileged to have Mr. Beck as my violin teacher when I was in Junior High and High School.  I remember him as having high expectations with a kind, gentlemanly manner.  It didn’t matter how far away my performances were; Mr. Beck always was there helping me to make sure that my violin was perfectly in tune.

Mr. Beck spent many years as a band conductor, but his real love was orchestra.  So, during his retirement years he and a colleague of his began the Colby Community Orchestra where volunteers from all around Northwest Kansas joined together to put on several concerts each year.  I was a member of this orchestra while I was in Junior High and High School and have many happy memories of my days in the group.

John stumbled across a detail about Mr. Beck that I had forgotten and might come as a surprise to many who knew Mr. Beck.  Yes, he was a very strict teacher who required a great deal from his students, but he had another fun hobby:  making Christmas cookies.  After the orchestra’s Christmas concerts, he would invite all of the players to his house to enjoy the wonderful treats that he had made himself.

I am so glad that John chose to portray Mr. Beck.  His preparation for his performance led me and several others in a wonderful walk down memory lane remembering a great man.

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Last week John, Brock, and Cosette participated in a new-to-the-Prairie-Family activity that I think is probably going to become an annual event.  It was a camp put on by the Prairie Museum of Art and History called “Night at the Prairie Museum.”  During this week-long camp, the participants select an historical figure that coordinates with an artifact.  They research their character and put together a monologue as that character to tell his/her story.  During the week, the campers get lots of guidance and instruction on how to do the research and how to improve their presentations.  Then, on the last evening of the camp, the public was invited to attend guided tours of the “living exhibits.”

The kids all loved this camp and really gained from it.  Not only was it a great learning opportunity, they also got to meet a lot of really neat people of all ages and had the opportunity to speak in front of several audiences.  After the tours, the actors all met to answer questions as their character and as their own real self, so they did have to know their stuff!

This was really a wonderful opportunity.  I am thankful that there are activities like this even in our small community for my kids to grow and develop.  This slideshow shows some of the activities that the kids participated in during the week.  Most of the pictures were provided by and used with permission from the museum since I wasn’t there to take any!  I’ll post a separate slideshow of the performance.

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This week was really extraordinary for the Prairie Family.  Boy, was it busy, and I found myself playing bus driver most of the time, but the kids had some wonderful experiences.

First of all, John passed his written and driving exams to get his restricted license!  This is quite a process in our state, but that major step has been cleared.  Brock is chomping at the bit to get his Learner’s Permit so he can start working towards his license as well, and we’ll probably begin studying for that soon.  Teaching your kids to drive is quite an experience!

Also, we might be getting an acoustic piano!  I have been wanting one for awhile.  I love my digital piano, and definitely don’t want to replace it, but the touch of a digital piano is just not quite the same as an acoustic.  So, when the kids play for church, it takes a little adjusting for them.  So, I have thought that having a regular piano would allow them to get more used to the feel of playing a “real” piano.  Anyway, I grew up knowing a special lady who played the piano at church, and when I grew up, we often played together for services.  She and her husband have both passed away now, and their daughter wondered if I might like to have her piano.  Dan and I agreed that if we could figure out how to get it here, we would love to have it.  So, I contacted a music store to see if they could help us with this process, and it sounds like the piano will come to its new home sometime in the next couple of weeks–very exciting!

Kara and Luke took a printmaking class this week.  The kids have enjoyed this class several times, and it is always a favorite.  It’s definitely not something that we can do here at home, so I’m glad that they can participate in something like this where they have the right supplies and knowledge to help the kids be successful.

Cosette helped with an animal diorama class.  She is greatly admired by the younger kids in her crafting classes–they see her as so grown-up and talented (and she is!) This week they were especially impressed with her ability to make little figures out of pipe cleaners, so she was fully employed making little people and other things for them to add into their dioramas.  She even had an order that I had to deliver because she had to go home for lunch and didn’t have time to finish the girl’s little doll.  I took it to the girl later at the library, and her face just lit up when she saw that Cosette had remembered.  She told Kara, “Your sister is really talented!”

Speaking of the library, I had the privilege of filling in for John for the elementary classes this week.  He was busy at another activity, and I told him that I didn’t mind taking his place so the librarian wouldn’t be short of help.  I had never actually seen what they do in those classes first hand, so that was a great experience.  It also made me appreciate what John does each summer–I’m sure the librarian is ready for him to come back!  He has worked with her long enough that he knows just what is needed without being told; I tried my best, but definitely needed a little more instruction at times since I really didn’t know what was going on!  🙂

John, Brock, and Cosette spent all of the afternoons this week at a museum camp.  That was a wonderful experience, but I will save the details of that for the next few posts.

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Museum Cast

The three oldest Prairie Family Kids have been involved in a neat activity this week.  This picture is a sneak peek!  More info to follow after tomorrow’s performances…..

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