Last summer, when I was stressed to the gills with packing up my house, buying another one across the country, and everything in between, I was trying to do this Project Walking Into a Hug thing.
It went really well for a couple weeks, and then it said that I had to have a schedule.
And, basically, I freaked out and never opened the book again. And I especially did not start any sort of schedule.
Because I just don't do schedules. Especially when I'm getting ready to uproot my family and move 2,000 miles away.
But, I knew that this summer needed to be different. The first two weeks were filled with Joel or me being out of town, so the kids just kind of did whatever. And I hated it. So I decided that the dreaded schedule was necessary.
We're on week 2 now. And so far, so good. The kids are happier. I'm happier. The house is cleaner. And things are getting done while still leaving us plenty of time for fun, too.
So, here's the lowdown:
Workbooks (math, writing, music theory)
Practicing/Chores (the kid who is not practicing works on chores and vice versa)
Family Reading Time (This is new this week. I found that having them read on their own time wasn't necessarily working. So now we all read together. In the same room.)
Free Time (Most of the lessons I teach are scheduled within this block of time)
Special Activity (Library, letterboxing, beach, etc. It depends on the weather much of the time. And it has to be free.)
Other than a few meltdowns about math, things are going pretty well. Hopefully, I won't get mad about it by next week and can stick this out for the summer.
In other news, my own schedule is a bit full. I've tried to keep the mornings free so I can work with the kids, but I am teaching 9 lessons each week, having opera rehearsals 3x a week (we open on July 13), still trying to memorize the words to a couple of the choruses, and doing the family activities every afternoon. So blogging isn't even close to a priority right now. I had high hopes for my blog this summer, but it's not going to happen. And getting around to all of your wonderful blogs isn't happening much either. Just a byproduct of summer, I guess.
Monday, June 28, 2010
Last summer, when I was stressed to the gills with packing up my house, buying another one across the country, and everything in between, I was trying to do this Project Walking Into a Hug thing.
Friday, June 25, 2010
I love me some magazines. I love to read, and magazines are nice to have around for all the times when I don't have the luxury to immerse myself in a good book. Because once I'm reading a good book, I can't stop until I'm finished. With a magazine, I can stop after one article or three.
Much better for the mommy lifestyle.
We have LOTS of magazine subscriptions:
Better Homes and Gardens
Classical Singer Magazine
The New Era
Now, you're probably wondering how cheapskate me would be willing to pay for all of those subscriptions.
Well, wonder no more because I'm going to tell you my secret.
For all of those yearly subscriptions last year, I paid exactly $36.00. Which, is probably considerably less than I would have paid for one month's worth at the grocery checkout, if we were to pretend that church magazines were actually available there. The best part is that most of them were totally free.
Here's how I did it.
I paid full price for the church magazines (The Ensign, The New Era, The Friend), because I don't think there's such thing as a discount. But they're cheap anyway. That was $26.00 for all three magazines.
Every year, on Black Friday, Amazon does a $5.00 magazine subscription deal. (Here is a list of the available magazines from this last year.) That's how I got Real Simple and House Beautiful. And that's an incredible deal, considering that both of these magazines cost more than $5.00 for one issue if you buy them at the store. So that's $10.00.
The rest I got free.
I got a free subscription to Classical Singer Magazine last year with my NATS membership. It was a great thing they offered, and of course, I'm now hooked and have paid a discounted price, available to NATS members, for the next year. Joel actually likes this magazine just as much, if not more, than I do.
I got a free subscription to Better Homes and Gardens by buying a bookshelf at WalMart. I might not have noticed it, but when I was putting the shelf together, out fell a card offering a year free of the magazine with my purchase. It took several months for it to start coming, but when it did I was pleasantly surprised, and very happy.
Finally, we used airline frequent flyer miles to get the TIME, Money, People and Golfer's Digest subscriptions. We don't fly much, but when we do, we always get a handful of miles, but never enough to actually earn a free ticket. I don't know how common knowledge it is that you can use your miles for magazine subscriptions, but you can. The list isn't always great, which is why I stooped so low as to get People Magazine, previously only purchased for the very plane rides that earned me the subscription. Those other three magazines are for Joel, although I do occasionally look at TIME. Mostly, I just like my artsy fartsy magazines.
Now my only problem is finding time to get through all of them.
Which is why my magazine basket is a mess.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Bria has the fact sheets memorized and is begging me to make sure we are there every Tuesday morning to see it be fed. (It is fed a cricket every week.)
So, I just got this email that says that patrons are complaining about the tarantula (I do understand why, but come on peeps! It's educational, and the kids adore it!) and that the library has until next Wednesday to "make a convincing case for keeping our beautiful new friend." The main thing is to find out if other libraries in the nation have a library pet.
So help me out, here.
Does your library have a pet? Or do you know of other libraries that do? What kind of animal is it? What is the name of the library? You can email me if you don't want to leave the answer in the comments...lalakme at gmail dot com.
I thank you very much for your help in this. And so do my kids! They will be so sad if the tarantula has to go somewhere else....they haven't even had a chance to vote on her name yet!
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
One of our favorite things we did on Mackinac Island was go to the butterfly house. It was so much fun to see all the butterflies so up close and personal. They landed on a lot of us, too, including me. Bria was a little disappointed that she never had a butterfly land on her, but she still thought the butterfly house was probably her very favorite part of the trip.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
1. Because I can always count on you to make me laugh, even when I want to be angry with you.
2. Because I still love your curly hair, even if it is peppered in gray nowadays.
3. Because you will never leave the house in wrinkled clothes, and you (usually) don't make me iron them for you.
4. Because you are "well-rounded." I never wanted to date a musician, but when I found out you participated in lots of intramural sports programs, I decided it would be okay. I'm glad I did.
5. Because you have a smile that makes my heart skip a beat whenever you flash it at me.
6. Because you took over the cooking job in this house. Not only because you enjoy doing it, but because you know I really hate it.
7. Because you make sure our little family prays together morning and night, even if sometimes it's in the car on the way to church.
8. Because you are always willing to help me around the house, no matter how tired you are.
9. Because you are a walking New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. It doesn't matter what comes on the classical music station, you know everything about it, down to the date it was composed.
10. Because you never give me the answers. You're such a natural teacher that you always help me come to the answer on my own (both in music and in life).
11. Because you never give the kids the answers, either. They will always be thankful to have had a father who led and guided them to figure out the right answer but never, ever gave it to them.
12. Because you honor your parents and always speak highly of them.
13. Because I can send you to the store to buy anything for me (and I do mean anything), and you will do it willingly and without complaint.
14. Because you are an awesome brother to each of your eight siblings.
15. Because you are incredibly supportive of me and the things I want to do, whether it be singing or photography or making our family live on 5 dollars a week.
16. Because no matter which calling you have in the church, you don't wing it. Your lessons are well-prepared, you go home teaching every single month even when it's almost impossible, and you make sure our family's building cleaning assignment is always done.
17. Because you can sing.
18. Because you are good. You are obedient and always try to do the right thing.
19. Because I love watching you conduct an orchestra, especially from the audience.
20. Because I love spending time with you. You are my best friend and we always have something to talk about no matter how much time we spend together.
21. Because you dream big, and you work hard to make those dreams a reality.
22. Because I am the only person on earth, besides your mother, who can read your horrendous handwriting.
23. Because you are a food snob. I really don't mind it, even if I roll my eyes at you. I kind of like knowing that whatever you deem worthy of putting in your mouth will be really, really good.
24. Because you are thorough. If I ask you to do a job for me, you will make sure it gets done right, even if it takes hours.
25. Because you call me during the day just to chat for a minute, and you don't mind if I call you during the day for some adult conversation.
26. Because you will drive the entire route of a road trip without complaint, because you know I would rather not.
27. Because you love the Lord.
28. Because I like holding your hand.
29. Because you always make sure that I come home to a clean house if I spend a few days away.
30. Because you don't mind that I keep the lamp on at night so I can read until 2 in the morning while you sleep.
31. Because you are an amazing father to our three daughters. I love watching you interact with them because it is clear how much you love them.
32. Because you treat me like a queen.
33. Because you will drop everything when somebody needs your help: You will go on splits with the missionaries or help somebody move at a moment's notice.
34. Because you stay calm while I am freaking out, and vice versa. You complement me perfectly.
35. Because you are always setting goals to be a better person. You have lists of them all over the house.
36. Because I love you more than I ever dreamed I could, even on the day we were married.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
I got home last night from Mackinac Island, very exhausted from traipsing around with Bria and her Girl Scout troop. But we had so much fun. I have always wanted to go to Mackinac, so I jumped at the chance when the troop announced this activity.
I was wishing I hadn't paid for it once Joel's class got canceled, but I am so very glad we went now that it's in the past. No regrets. Except that maybe I ate too much.
Then we got down to "The Bridge" which is approximately 5 1/2 hours from my house. The Mackinac Bridge is just 28 feet short of 5 miles long and used to be the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is still the longest in the Western Hemisphere and I have no idea where or what the bridge is that beat it out, but there you go. Fun facts about the Mackinac Bridge.
Our ferry was called The Marquette.
Here is our ferry pulling out of Mackinaw City and towards the island. I love the spray that they send out behind them.
Obviously, I had to catch another view (or twenty) of the bridge while we were on the boat.
A view of the ferry dock.
And, of course, The Grand Hotel. If you don't know The Grand Hotel, it's in the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour. Love that movie. The hotel is pretty darn grand, too. It seems to take up the entire island as you are coming toward it on the water. This was also the only time I could get the whole thing in my viewfinder, since I was far enough away. Once on land, I could only get snippets. Especially since you are charged $10.00 just to set foot on the property. And, unless you are rolling in the dough, forget about a room there--it runs around $500.00 per night, per person. The suite is $3,000.00 a night! Dressing for dinner is mandatory.
But it sure is a beautiful building.
Once we arrived on the island, we went to a park by the lake (Lake Huron, fyi) to eat our dinner. The seagulls were hoping for some handouts. But, we obeyed the posted sign.
In fact, we obeyed all the posted signs.
After dinner, we decided to do some more letterboxing. I used the time to explore with my camera, but the thrill of finding the letterboxes was also very cool.
Bria thought so, too. Like I said, she fell in love with letterboxing.
There are no cars allowed on the island, so there are lots of horses and carriages around.
And there are bikes everywhere.
The real estate is pretty amazing, and just plain pretty.
I want to live in this house.
But the most magnificent views, were definitely the ones God Himself created. With maybe a little bit of help from man for a lighthouse or a streetlamp here and there.
I will post more next week. Just as soon as I can figure out a reason to live there for the summers.
Here is Bria's video about her Daddy. (Sorry about her hair...we did it right before bedtime and she hadn't brushed it yet after taking her bath.)(At least she's clean!)
Sophia is sitting to her side whispering answers here and there, which adds an element of slight confusion. :)
Bria talks about Daddy from Lara Neves on Vimeo.
PS: After we were done with it, I told her what "obnoxious" means and she felt really, really bad. She is sure her father was never an obnoxious child and wants him to know that.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The Maestro is celebrating a birthday this coming Friday, but we won't get to celebrate with him until sometime Saturday because he left this morning for a conference.
The girls and I secretly made some videos last week so that he could see them in his hotel room.
So, without further ado, here is Sophia to wish her daddy a happy birthday and answer a few questions about him.
Sophia talks about Daddy from Lara Neves on Vimeo.
Monday, June 14, 2010
I have several vocal students who have trouble singing in tune.
Am I crowding the Spirit out of my life with other things? Things that may be good, but perhaps aren't quite as important as remembering to listen?
I've been teaching Ben for a while. He is older, and is beginning to lose his ability to hear, so this affects his intonation greatly. Because if he can't hear, then how can he listen? He recently got a hearing aid, and it has been fascinating to see how it helps him most of the time, but often needs small adjustments here and there to get the perfect "mix" for listening to the piano.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
This is Chloe's pet caterpillar (tent worm, actually). She found him at school and Joel helped her to make him a comfortable home in a Tupperware container.
His name is Catty Hansen.
She dotes on this thing like you wouldn't believe. She pets him and talks to him. She carries him around way too much for my comfort. She treats him like her baby.
She suffocates him, in fact. I'm a little worried she's going to kill him.
But she insists that he loves all the attention. Because he loves her a lot.
Which is, of course, true.
Because how could you not love Chloe?
Friday, June 11, 2010
I fully admit that I have an unusually ridiculous sense of aesthetics. I want things to look beautiful, and even though I know that form is supposed to follow function, most of the time I only care about form. If it is ugly, I simply do not care how functional an item is, it is not going to be put on display in my house. It will be hidden in the cupboard or something.
Joel and I have had many discussions on the matter, and he does get it. He's not as visual as I am, but since he wouldn't allow ugly music to assault his ears, he understands my issues with having to be surrounded with beauty at all times.
Unfortunately, my preoccupation with having a beautifully decorated home often meets resistance from both my less-than-full bank account and my more-than-full schedule.
But, I do my best.
And go to Goodwill and yard sales a lot.
I usually buy things that I think have some potential for beauty, even if they're looking pretty ugly at the moment. This is necessary because most people don't leave the greatest stuff at thrift stores. Although you do find the occasional treasure.
When I get home from Goodwill, the spray paint inevitably comes out (usually black), and what was once broken down and ugly becomes worthy of display.
Here are a couple of little Goodwill projects that I have done recently.
This shelf and everything on it came from various trips to Goodwill. The shelf itself was white when I found it. White with chipped paint and some kind of gross stain. So, I cleaned it up, painted it black and now it looks Pottery Barn worthy.
I stalk the picture frame section at Goodwill. I love taking photos, so I'm always in need of frames. I thought this one was particularly cool. There was a chip in the frame, but a black sharpie took care of it.
The little picture tree holder thingy was silver with some green crud all over it. But covered in black spray paint, it looks great. I kind of like the modern-y look of displaying it here with nothing actually in it. I also used it to display Christmas Cards back in December, but it hasn't really had a home since then.
If there's one thing Goodwill has a plethora of, it's candle holders. I buy them here and there, and they are usually in pretty great shape. Sometimes they even have candles, but those can be so gross I don't even want to look at them. But I did get lucky this time.
Total cost of this particular little project, which is in my bedroom and makes me very happy to look at: $8.95. Take that, Pottery Barn!
My house was built in 1920 and my very favorite feature is the fireplace. We don't use it much, because it's so open, but we did use it occasionally this past winter. Nice and cozy.
(I'm thinking of painting the living room walls a subtle green...kind of close to the candles on the left....what do you think?)
(And yes, I see that I need to clean out the magazines. Sigh.)
Anyway, those candlesticks were the ugliest things you have ever seen when I first found them at Goodwill. They were a very gaudy gold leaf, with some fake marble stuff. Truly hideous. I stared at them for a while before deciding to bring them home and paint them. A few weeks after I did, I saw some really similar black candlesticks in Pier One for like 40 dollars apiece and I felt really smug about my thriftiness right then.
The candles that are on the candlesticks were purchased on clearance at ShopKo. ShopKo has great clearance prices, in case you didn't already know.
The wreath was one of those lucky Goodwill finds. One of the employees saw me carrying it around the store and remarked that if she had seen it earlier she would have saved it in the back for herself. Now I know why there's never anything nice!
Here's a close-up look of the wreath:
I found the poker set a couple months ago, after fire season. But we had wished for one all winter, so I snatched it up. It's really classy-looking, too. I like it.
The other little embroidered things were either on clearance at ShopKo (the bigger one), or free at Deseret Book with my accumulated points in their club (the small one, which has two counterparts that you can't see in the picture).
Total cost of the fireplace (excluding the things from ShopKo): $11.95.
Now, this summer I have decided to not even enter the doors of Goodwill or any other thrift store, although I may still go to the occasional yard sale. Instead, I am going to work on painting the dining room, stripping the wallpaper in Sophia's room and refinishing some furniture (all thrifted). This way we don't spend any money.
But, I love me a good find at the thrift store, that's for sure.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
In about one hour, the bus will bring Bria and Chloe home from their last day of school.
This morning, we took pictures on the porch, reminiscent of the ones we did on the first day of school. I think Bria was even wearing pretty much the same outfit.
So, if First Day of School Pictures are my favorite things ever, Last Day of School Pictures are not far behind. Where First Day pictures are full of anticipation and trepidation, Last Day pictures are of total excitement and relief.
Bria, on her last day of being a fourth grader.
I can't believe she only has one more year of Elementary School. I am so not ready for this.
Chloe, on her last day of being a first grader.
She has grown so much this school year.
If you're wondering what the green bags are about, those are the gifts for their teachers. I actually made them a month ago when Sophia finished up with preschool and they've been sitting and waiting to go for today. (I just realized while uploading the pictures that I forgot to have the girls sign them, darn it!) The bags are filled with a variety of mint/chocolate candies, and I got the poem and idea at this website.
I always take a picture of them with their teacher on the last day of school, too. We were blessed to have really good teachers this year. Especially Chloe. Every time I told anyone who Chloe's teacher was, I was told she is the best teacher in the entire school. And I really believe she probably is.
Bria and Mrs. J:
Chloe and Mrs: G:
We have lots of fun planned for the next few days: Tomorrow will be pure laziness and dinner with friends, Joel and his rock band (yeah, he's a rock star on the side) are playing in the city's Art & Music Festival downtown on Saturday, and then Bria and I are going to leave to go on a three-day trip down to Mackinac Island with the Girl Scouts.
Then we'll settle into our summer schedules. I've got lots of things planned and I really can't wait.
Welcome to Summer!