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Archive for August, 2015

2014-15 school Collage

Last week we began the 2015/16 school year.  This is the Prairie Family’s 14th year with A Beka Academy–hard to believe, isn’t it?!  This year we have grades 11, 9, 8, and 6.  John has graduated from high school and will be leaving to attend Kansas State University later this week.

Brock is a Junior in high school.  He’s following right along in John’s well-laid footsteps and does extremely well academically.  This will be an important year for him as he begins to more seriously consider colleges and what areas he may want to pursue.  He’ll also be taking the ACT in a few months, which is, of course, a big step towards the future.  A new thing for Brock is that he will be taking choir at the college.  John started that when he was a junior, and it was a good experience in many ways.  It helped to “bridge the gap” from homeschool into traditional settings, plus it was just neat to get involved with other kids to share music.  So, tomorrow is Brock’s first day at the college, and we are looking forward to many exciting opportunities for him in the days to come.

Cosette is a freshman–yes, a FRESHMAN!  🙂  She is taking the full load of regular A Beka Academy classes, and is doing very well.  She also has some new things to look forward to this year.  First of all, she is excited to be taking piano lessons from the same lady at the college that John has taken from for the last couple of years.  She had a few lessons with her this summer, and it is really neat to see her making tremendous musical progress already.  She can’t wait for the fall lessons to begin–taking lessons from this teacher will give her many recital and competition opportunities, and she is very excited.  She is thinking about participating in Scholar’s Bowl at the Christian School, but we’ll have to see how that all works out scheduling-wise.

Luke is in 8th grade which means he will do a real science project.  He already has a neat idea picked out, so that will be a fun adventure for him and me to have together.  He’s still involved with all of his music lessons, and we are planning to add him into more of our ensemble-work.

Kara is in 6th grade.  She was excited to finally retire the last of our big, outdated tv’s and to replace it with a nice, small, thin monitor that allows her desk to be pushed up to the wall like everyone else’s.  She is continuing to take trumpet lessons out at the college and improves every week.  She is looking forward to participating in the college musical again this year.

As for me, this year is going to be hectic and crazy.  In addition to our regular school stuff, I have around 16 students lined up for music lessons with a couple more coming in a few weeks.  I am also planning to help lead the Christmas program at Heartland Christian School again this year, so in late September/early October I will start meeting with the kids to get that prepared.  The local homeschool group is starting a choir this year and asked if I would be willing to lead grades 7-12, so that will be a new adventure as well.

Of course, going back to school for the Prairie Family means a serious return to music practice and performance.  We never really stopped over the summer, but it was pretty hit-and-miss at times, especially when I was painting the house.  Now we are back into the daily routine and that helps our consistency immensely!  We are going to be playing for the Gem Lions’ Club barbecue next week, so it is good (and necessary) to get back at it in a focused-kind-of-way.

Music Collage with text

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This summer our vehicle situation has been kind of tight.  Dan’s car that he had owned since before we were married began having issues early in the summer, which didn’t help anything at all.  The crazy thing got to where it simply would not start!  We took it to the shop several times, and they couldn’t seem to figure out what the electrical problem was that was continually draining the battery.  Having to jumpstart it every time it was needed got pretty old very quickly, and we finally had to come to the conclusion that its days of usefulness were coming to an end.

God always provides for our needs, however, and just about the same time that Dan’s car quit, my dad generously offered to give us an older farm pickup that he no longer needed.  It’s wonderful to have a vehicle that will actually start by turning the key!  🙂  Seriously, though, we appreciate having this vehicle–we certainly have needed it.

So, Dan started driving my dad’s old pickup to work, and that left our two vans for our two working boys.  The schedules usually worked out so that I didn’t have to take either of them to work very often.  We were very aware, however, that as the summer drew to a close we were going to have to find another vehicle so we wouldn’t be one vehicle short here when John goes to school.

Again, God always provides for our needs!  One of the other members of the food bank board that I am on asked me if we were planning to buy a car for John and offered to sell us the car he had been driving for a very reasonable price.  He was wanting to sell the car so he could buy a pickup, so this seemed like a great opportunity to pick up a vehicle specifically for college.

John took it for a test drive and liked how it drove–he said it reminded him of driving our Sienna, which is the best vehicle that we own.  It’s in pretty good condition.  We are planning to put new tires on it next week before John drives it across the state.

It will be a blessing for John to have this car, and we are very thankful that the Lord provided it at just the right time.

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Last night was John’s last night of working at Subway before going to KSU next week.  This has been a job that he has enjoyed and grown from.  He was delighted when he came home last night to show us the cupcakes that his co-workers had bought to bid him a good-luck farewell.  Believe it or not, Brock’s last night at Arby’s for the summer was last week, and his co-workers had bought cupcakes for him also!  🙂

I’ve told the boys over and over again that being reliable and doing your best will go a long ways in this world, and these little signs of appreciation have meant a lot to them.

John’s manager has offered him the opportunity to come back and work over school breaks, so that is very generous!  He is looking forward to coming back and making more sandwiches soon!

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Persistence Pays Off

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After several days of unsuccessful attempts (often exacerbated by teasing siblings!), Kara’s persistence finally paid off!  She met her goal of making a four-level house of cards, and it stayed up long enough to get photo proof of it!  🙂

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Going to the Fair

Fair Collage

Going to the county fair is one of our favorite end-of-the-summer activities.  Unfortunately, however, this year it didn’t work out for us to go to our local county’s fair because John and Brock were both working every night that it was open.  (I guess they were the ones covering for everyone else to go to the fair!) Everyone was pretty bummed, so we told them that we would go to a different county fair the first night that the boys had open.

Our opportunity came earlier this week.  We went to the Northwest Kansas District Free Fair in Goodland.  It was a pretty good experience.  The kids all enjoyed the nice displays, and the carnival was very well-kept and friendly.  They definitely had more rides to choose from, and their prices were pretty reasonable.  Most of the rides cost two tickets, which is the same as one dollar.

This fair is actually in a different time zone than our home town, so we got there pretty early.  That gave us time to look around at the exhibits.  We were able to go to the carnival early enough that it wasn’t very crowded–although that changed as the evening went on.  It was a cooler day than we have been having, so all of those factors contributed to a very good time!

The kids all enjoyed some of the rides.  The favorite seemed to be the Tilt-a-Whirl, and several of them enjoyed the Ferris Wheel as well.  Kara is a brave soul who likes almost everything–she’ll go on the scariest rides and just smile and wave the whole time!

Brock, Cosette, Luke, and Kara were delighted to find out that this fair has a Gaga Ball pit.  They have all gone “gaga” over this game ever since they were introduced to it at Bethel Bible Camp.  In fact, we had never seen it anywhere else!  When they saw that game, they jumped right in only to find out that not everywhere has the same rules as Bethel Bible Camp.  They got out pretty quickly, but had fun anyway.

Even though we were not able to go to our local fair, I am happy to say that Cosette did enter a couple of her drawings.  And both of her drawings got blue ribbons–that made her pretty happy, especially since it was her first year competing with the adults!  Hopefully next year it’ll work for us to go to our county fair again, but even if we do, maybe we’ll just have to go to the Goodland fair again too!

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Fall Lesson Collage with text

Well, the summer is winding down, and it won’t be long until kids all head back to school. Of course, school here will start up soon, and John will be heading off to K-State.  This also means, however, that my summer music lesson schedule will soon need to be readjusted.

It looks like I will have 13 students in addition to my own kids, with at least 2 more coming in November.  I have a wide variety of ages–all the way from 4 years old up to adult.  And I enjoy every single student.  I really don’t have a “favorite age” to teach.  All of them are great!  🙂  Most are piano, but I do have a few string students, and one girl who is specifically working on singing.

There are several new things that I am looking forward to this fall with my students.  It seems like I have picked up quite a few preschoolers/early elementary kids and am always looking for the best ways to teach them the basics of music.  I have already been using some of Jennifer Ecklund’s Piano Pronto books and have found that students really enjoy them.  She just released the first book in a new series for the youngest piano students called Roadtrip, and I already have ordered several copies to try out with some of my littles.  There is an excellent teacher’s guidebook for this book with lots of ideas on how to teach the concepts in the student books.  She has announced that this is the first of four books.  The other three will have fun themes that are currently planned to be outdoor adventure, farm, and country carnival.  I am really looking forward to seeing how these new resources work in my studio.

(As a side note, Jennifer Ecklund just mentioned today that she is going to be working on developing some beginning violin materials–that is good news that I will be watching very closely for my string students!)

So, why did I mention my blank wall in the title and photo for this post?  Well, I’m not quite ready to release the details of this just yet, but let’s just say that I am in the planning stages of a fun practice incentive program that I am sure will be a big hit!  I’ll write more about that as I iron out the details, and then it will be fun to post how my kids are progressing along the way.  Should make for a fun year!

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2015 Painting Projects

Painting Collage

Every summer I rotate around the rooms of our house and do some painting.  I had not gotten around to the kids’ bedrooms since 2008, so it was definitely time for a change.  After all, my kids are now teenagers, and the “little kids” look just didn’t fit anymore!

I got a late start this summer, so I am glad that I got as much done as I did.  I didn’t make it to the living room or kitchen, so I guess that will wait until next summer.

I started in the boys’ room.  My biggest issue in there was removing the camping-themed border.  That crazy border just wouldn’t come off!  I had to scrape and scrape, and even then it only came off in little, tiny bits.  Once that was finally removed, however, the rest of their room went pretty smoothly.

The girls wanted a “focus wall” in their room.  I let them pick out the colors, and I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical of their choices!  I really couldn’t imagine such a dark shade of blue on a wall, but I wanted to do what they chose, so I plowed right in.  My biggest obstacle in that room was the paint on the floor.  Yes, the table that I had just set a new can of paint on collapsed spilling most of the gallon on the carpet.  Fun….  We worked for several hours cleaning up that mess, but it doesn’t look too bad now.  We’ve needed new carpet for quite sometime, so maybe this just bumped it up on our priority list a spot or two.  Kara said that I should be glad that it was the neutral color that spilled and not the dark blue–now there is an optimist for you!  🙂

I dreaded doing the computer room, but it had to be done.  That room is where we “live,” so it was pretty messy and full of stuff–some of it very heavy stuff.  Again, I just plowed right in–what else could I do?  John helped to pick the color.  I was originally going to use a tannish neutral color, but John persuaded me to be a little bit more bold and try a soft shade of green.  Again, I was kind of skeptical, but now that the change has been made, I am so glad that I listened to him!  It really has made a cozy room!

My biggest obstacle in the computer room (other than the furniture) involved the throw rugs.  We have always kept throw rugs in this room because we want to protect the wood floor.  Several years ago, however, I noticed that the rug underneath my computer desk was deteriorating and leaving quite a mess.  I didn’t want to deal with it, so I put it off and put it off until painting time came.  By that time I had a huge problem!  There was a sticky saw-dust like film all over the floor that had to be scraped off with a razor blade.  Wow.  Just wow.  Eventually I got it all cleaned up and repolished the floor, but there was NO WAY that I was going to put that crazy rug back on the floor.  I started looking online for something else, and I found a clearance rug on Walmart.com that was originally $500 marked down to fifty dollars!  Yes, you read that right:  $50!  And the measurements looked like it would fit well.  I ordered it, and when it came I was so pleased!  It has added a bit of sophistication to this room, and I am so thankful for it!

I originally wasn’t going to paint the hallway, but it needed it so badly that I just went on ahead.  I used the same paint as I used in the computer room, and it looks so much better!

So, that brought my 2015 painting to a close.  Painting is a job that is never done, so there will be more to come…

I am going to add a Smilebox slideshow to this post to show more of how the rooms turned out:

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