Archive for March, 2016

Spring Break Collage with text

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Early Annie Rehearsals

Early Rehearsal Collage with text

The 2016 Annie cast has gotten a good start on rehearsals for the April production.  The last several weeks have been spent learning songs, reading lines, and blocking scenes.  Soon after returning to rehearsals after Spring Break, we will be ready to begin running whole acts (even on the stage)!  Then the real fun starts!

So now it is crunch time:  time to get the songs and lines memorized, costumes prepared, scenery and props gathered, and a million other little details to check off as the show gets closer.  Our days will be very busy, but I know we will be building memories that will last a lifetime.

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Army Field Band Collage with text

Our community was very blessed over spring break to have the United States Army Field Band perform at our local high school auditorium.  Any time a group like this comes through, our family makes our best effort to attend because they always have amazing programs.

This particular performance was really special, however, because the concert band and soldiers’ chorus invited local students to join them in performing one song.  When we were asked to consider doing this, we were very excited.  So we downloaded the sheet music that the group provided, practiced the song and waited for the special day.

We never know exactly how something like this is going to go, but I felt pretty sure that being part of the US military, this one would be handled very professionally.  And it was.  Before the concert a member of the choir came and explained to the kids exactly what would be happening and what they would need to do.  There weren’t any rehearsals, but I felt pretty confident that this would work out all right.

So we enjoyed the concert.  The band and chorus performed a variety of pieces.  We especially liked a band song entitled El Camino Real by Alfred Reed.  The kids really enjoyed it when the chorus presented several songs from musicals including Tradition from Fiddler on the Roof.  Boy, did that bring back some fun memories from the musical a couple of years ago!

This concert was a special treat for Kara, who loves all things military.  She was enraptured throughout the concert–especially when a featured soloist played a trombone piece.  (She recently began taking lessons on the trombone herself and loves it!)

The kids sang their song with the chorus, and, of course, that was pretty neat.  They all came back to their seats with big smiles.  The Army Field Band treated my kids like royalty–several times throughout the evening, they’d come ask them how they were enjoying the performance, what songs they liked, etc.  At the end of the show, they brought each of them (and me too) a personalized dog tag as a thank you for participating.  It really was a great experience–one that I know they will always remember.

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Easter Cantata


I love Easter. It puts the price my Savior paid for my salvation “front and center” and reminds me of His victory over sin and death.  For years I have talked about doing something special to honor this great day.  I’ve thought about how much time and preparations are put into celebrating Christmas, and yet in my own life, somehow Easter often goes by with little more than a few special songs sung at church.  Maybe it’s because Easter falls at a busy time of year–I don’t know, but I decided that this year would be different.

So, right after Christmas, I began to think about what to do that would really make Easter special.  At first I thought about doing something with the kids of our church, but right when I was thinking about these things, I had two or three adults approach me about the idea of doing something for everyone.  So, I decided to give it a try, and I am so glad that I did!

We decided to do Russell Mauldin’s Easter musical, “It is Finished.” This collection of songs with narrations is pretty simple to put together, and I thought it would be a good place to start.  The songs are great, and the story ties everything together well.

We started rehearsals early in the year, and people have been very faithful to come to practice.  The thing that has made this a very special experience is that the members of the group truly love the Lord, and there have been many special moments of worship as we have worked our way through this program.  I think the most precious thing is to see the children sing from their hearts–sometimes even with tears–as they sing praise to our Lord.  It has been amazing.

So, since this weekend is Palm Sunday, this will be our last week of rehearsal before our performance on Easter Sunday,March 27, during our regular worship service at 10:45.  I can’t wait–this special Resurrection Day will be one to always remember!

Cantata Collage

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Spring Break!

This has been a pretty common scene in our house this week!  Having John home from KSU is always a lot of fun.  My kids are truly best friends, and I am thankful for that.  We are blessed!

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We are already getting close to finishing our first year with the homeschool choir.  We will be having our last performance in April and then will take a break for the summer.  (And one of our members will be graduating!  That is exciting!)

These kids have been great to work with.  They are always respectful and put forth their best effort.  They have done a great job putting together songs in our limited rehearsal schedule, and I am very proud of them.  I hope they have enjoyed this as much as I have!

We talked a little bit about plans for next year, and the kids have several things they’d like to try.  Some ideas tossed around were adding in instruments and maybe putting together a skit or two.  I think both of those ideas might work–these kids have proven that they will reliably practice outside of our class time, and that will help make those ideas a reality.

I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know these kids–they have been a real blessing!

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As Brock was completing his last A Beka Academy Science Project, Luke was working on his first.  In 7th grade, the students plan a project, but do not actually complete the experiment or make a display.  Then in 8th grade, the students go through the entire process to put together a finished science project.

Luke’s project is kind of hard to describe, and it didn’t work like we had planned.  So, we had to make some modifications as we went along.  His investigation involved transferring static electricity to a Leyden jar with various conditions and measuring the resulting discharge spark.  The first jar that Luke built did not work.  That was our biggest obstacle.  It simply would not consistently discharge making the collection of data nearly impossible.  So after a few days of frustration, we hunted for ideas on how to improve the jar’s design to make it more reliable.  Ultimately, we completely scrapped the original design which required Luke to rethink his tests, hypotheses, etc.  This was a good lesson to go through, however, and Luke was very persistent in getting the project finished.  Now we know that it is a pretty good idea to test a procedure out early in the planning stages of the project just to make sure everything works right….sigh…..

Anyway, we eventually got the data we needed, and Luke got his display made.  Here is a slideshow of his project followed by a video of his oral presentation:

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The Prairie Family is nearing the end of this year’s Science Project Season–yea!  🙂  These projects are good for the kids to do, but they do require a lot of work (and patience).  Most years we will only have two projects, but we were lucky enough this year to have three….  Seniors in A Beka Academy are not required to do a science project, so this is Brock’s last one, and I am pretty sure that he is glad.

Brock’s project worked really well this year.  In fact, this one has gone the smoothest and had the most consistent results of any project that the Prairie Family has done so far.  This project involved measuring and comparing sound levels under a variety of conditions using different insulating materials.  The little sound meter that we used to measure the loudness worked really, really well!  It made gathering the data a simple process.  Brock and I both agree that designing more projects that use this tool would be a good idea for future studies.

Here is a slideshow about Brock’s project followed by a video of his oral presentation describing his experiment:

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This was Cosette’s first year of participating in the Northwest Kansas Piano Clinic and Multi-Keyboard Concert, and this was a really nice event for her.  Her day began by having a visiting clinician listen to her play several pieces and offer her encouragement and critique.  It’s nice to get input from a variety of people, and this particular pianist had some wonderful suggestions for Cosette to try.

Cosette also participated in three levels of the multi-keyboard concert, so she had several hours of rehearsal before the performance.  Playing in groups like this is very good for pianists because of the fellowship, but also because of the accuracy and listening required when performing with others.  The visiting conductor was very engaging, and Cosette enjoyed his groups very much.  Here is a video of one of her groups performing New Orleans Swing by Carol Matz:

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2016 Musical Try-Outs

Annie Tryout Collage with text

Here it is March 11, time for Spring Break, and I haven’t blogged since Christmas Break.  I guess that is pretty indicative of how our days are going!  Yes, things have been pretty crazy, but I am going to use these next few days while we are on break from school to try to catch up on some of our family’s news.

Shortly after Christmas, the college choral director announced that this year’s musical would be Annie.  Auditions were held in February, and the excitement of another production began.

Auditions took several weeks for this show because of the large amount of community interest in the play in addition to weather delays.  Once the auditions were finished and the cast was posted, though, the Prairie Family was very happy with the parts that were given to them!  Kara and Cosette are both servants in the Warbuck’s mansion.  In addition to their base roles, Cosette will be playing the “Star to Be” in the NYC scene, and Kara will be portraying Frances Perkins, who was the Secretary of Labor in FDR’s cabinet.  Luke is a “Hoovervillite,” a member of the President’s Cabinet, and the Sound-Effects man in the radio scene.  Dan was cast as Bert Healy, who is the radio announcer who helps Mr. Warbucks try to find Annie’s parents.  Brock got the most unusual part of all–he is Rooster Hannigan, who is the sly villain of the show who pretends to be Annie’s father for financial gain.  This role is fun for Brock because he just gets to be shady in a rather silly way.  (All three of the people portraying the bad-guys in this show are really nice kids!  lol!)  I will be playing my violin in the pit orchestra again this year, and I enjoy that a lot.

The best part about doing this show is that our community has really gotten involved this year, and that means that there are several cast members that are dear friends of ours.  It is a true joy to be able to share this wonderful experience with people who mean so much to us. This is going to be the best musical year yet!  🙂


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