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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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These are some random lessons that we learned from our time with the college’s production of “Paint Your Wagon:”

  1. Get copies of the complete script of scenes where your character(s) appear in a very early rehearsal, and then learn those lines as soon as possible.  Memorizing the lines is only the beginning of knowing your part.
  2. Work on locating costumes after the very first meeting.  It takes awhile to research what is needed and find the best sources.
  3. Our local second-hand store is a fantastic resource for costumes!
  4. Sometimes ordering costumes is cheaper than making costumes……
  5. Have any needed props in your hands well before you are on stage.  🙂
  6. “Project, Project, PROJECT YOUR VOICE!”  (quote from our wonderful director!)
  7. Background characters are a lot of fun.  They really are what you make them to be.  Develop your person’s character and plan interesting things for them to do “in the background.”
  8. ENERGY is key to selling the musical to the audience; FOCUS is the key to being believable to the audience.
  9. Start school earlier–the earlier, the better.  Musicals require a lot of time and energy, and having the flexibility to have days off is worth a few days earlier in August.
  10. Scene changes are every bit as important as any other part of the production.  They need to be choreographed, planned, organized, and practiced.

Lessons from the Pit Orchestra:

  1. There is no need to be shy–play out!  A loud mistake is better than a timid performance.
  2. Attend as many practices and run-throughs as possible.  You can never be too familiar with the show.
  3. MARK EVERYTHING IN THE MUSIC!  There are lots of cuts, repeats, etc.  They need to be marked in a sensible way so nothing is missed during a performance.
  4. (Going along with #3) Bring several sharpened pencils to each practice!
  5. Bring a bag.  By the time the whole family has chorus books, scripts, and orchestra parts, there are a lot of things to carry.  Then you add in props and supplies and you need an even bigger bag!

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This role of Gavroche is one that Kara and Luke would fight over!



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Scooping Snow

It has been very dry on the Prairie.  It is not unusual for us to have had several snows by this time of the winter season, but this year has been different.  We’ve had a few flurries here and there, but nothing much to speak of until December 31. The kids were soooo happy! They couldn’t wait to get out and play in the snow.  (Yes, they consider scooping the driveway playing in the snow!)  There were several very fun snowball wars in the backyard for the next couple of days.  It’s mostly melted now, but the kids are looking forward to the next snow!

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Today we finished our eighth year of homeschooling with A Beka Academy.  Well, at least the kids are finished!  🙂  My work goes on throughout the summer months sending in the papers, putting away old curriculum, getting out and preparing the new curriculum for the fall.  It has been a very good school year, and the kids have all grown tremendously.  That being said, it will be good to have a break to enjoy other things and come back with a fresh vigor in mid-August.

Our summer is going to be extremely busy.  In fact, as I was making out our activity schedule for June, it looks like it is going to be a big blur!  Luke will be the only one playing baseball this summer, so this will be the first summer for many years that we will only be out at the baseball diamonds two nights per week instead of every night.  (Wow, what will we do????)

The kids are all planning to take part in the summer reading program at the library again this year.  In fact, John has volunteered to help with the elementary-age program on Wednesday afternoons, so that will be good for him.  Cosette will be continuing to take the Kids-A-Cookin’ class, and Brock, Cosette, Luke, and Kara will all have swimming lessons later this summer.

There will be a couple of Day Camps in the near future, and our family is heavily involved in our church’s VBS in June as well.  In fact, Dan and I are kind of organizing the event, and we will also be teaching, leading music, making decorations, sending out invitations, etc.  John and Brock are both old enough to be assistants.  John is going to be my classroom helper as well as Dan’s technology assistant.  Brock is going to help our Pastor lead games.  Luke, Kara, and Cosette will be attending as students.  So, that will be a major focus over the next few weeks as we prepare.

On top of all of this, the lady who led Luke’s Wolf scout group is teaching some summer activity classes and invited my kids to attend.  I thought it sounded like a fun opportunity, so we went to the sign-up earlier this week.  Little did I know that there would be  LONGGGG line for this program!  I got there at the very time the sign-up was to start and ended up standing in line for about an hour!  Classes were filling up left and right before I ever made it to the sign-up table.  In fact, all of the classes that Luke and Kara were going to take were full.  Bless that sweet leader’s heart, though, she had left my kids’ names at the table so the people who were enrolling the kids would know that she wanted them in her class–even if the classes were full!  So, it looks pretty certain that they’ll get in, but we’ll just have to wait and see if everything goes through.  Cosette is really looking forward to her classes.  She will have classes about acrylic landscape painting, making mobiles, and making jewelry.

So it will be a busy summer for the kids.  And that means it will be busy for me as well, but I don’t mind.  Dan and I have always felt that it is important for our kids to be involved in the community.  We homeschool for their personal/spiritual/educational training, but we want to be a testimony outside of our normal “Christian” circles as well.  These activities and programs have allowed us to have friendships with people we never would have known otherwise, and we are thankful for them.

I have my usual mile-long to do list for the summer on top of all of this.  Cleaning, painting, sorting, mowing, gardening–more than I will ever get accomplished!  I know it will seem like only a few days and we will be ready to start another school year!

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Sunday School Girls

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A New Fad

Last May, I gave John a set of Speed Stacks for his birthday, and, believe it or not, they just got put aside and never even opened–until this past weekend.  My brother and his wife were visiting and brought a couple more sets of stacking cups with mats and timers for the kids.  Well, this spurred them all on to watch the DVD to learn how to do this fun activity.

So, for the last few days, my living room has been taken over by stacking cups!  The kids are being nice helping each other learn tricks to go faster, and, of course, there are many friendly competitions going on too!  All five of the kids have been sucked in by this latest fad, and actually I kind of hope that it is one that will last awhile.

Of course, they are absolute beginners, but they have been having a lot of fun practicing the fundamentals of this sport.  Here is a video of Brock–I think he is getting the hang of it:

When the kids get more proficient in the days to come, I will post more videos of the cup-stacking progress.

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