Tuesday, April 28, 2009


I am a busy hard worker man. (3/31/09)

Bye, Uncle Rich! Have a later! (3/29/09)

I drew a picture of Matthew. It is scary! (3/28/09)

James: Logan, what did you get after your haircut?
Logan: I got a popper (lollipop) which was not good for me. (3/13/09)

Logan, with a blanket on his head: I am a scary princess! (3/13/09)

Logan, thumbing through the novel My Antonia: This is a book about a man's breakfast.
Melissa: What did he eat for breakfast?
Logan: Lunch. (3/10/09)

Melissa catches sight of a coyote standing in a field. James pulls the van to the curb so that the kids can see.
Melissa: I'm pointing out a coyote to you.
Logan: Don't point it out! It's a nice coyote! (3/8/09)

Logan, calling back to Evan and Matthew sitting behind him in the van: "Are you okay? Are you comfortable?" (2/15/09)

Evan, watching Logan scrape his face with a Lego block: What are you doing, Logan?
Logan: I'm shaving. (2/5/09)

Logan, lying down on the floor mat at the front door: I'm going to lie down for a libble-it. This is a reason for a nap.
Melissa: Do you want to take a nap in your bed?
Logan: No, this is a reason for a nap. [Loose Translation: This is instead of a nap.] (1/31/09)

libble-it = "little bit"

Logan: This is mines!
Melissa: Yes it is.
Logan: Don't say that!
Melissa: Logan, I was agreeing with you.
Logan: It is not green! (1/10/09)

Olivia (2 yrs. old) did talk to me. She didn't listen to me, but she did talk to me. (12/29/08)

Logan: Mommy’s fat leg!
Melissa: Logan, don’t say that. Call it a skinny leg”
Logan: No! I can’t say that! (12/08)

Logan: Matthew, stop laughing! I telled you to not.
Melissa: Logan, why don't you laugh with him.
Logan: I'm too tired to laugh. (12/21/08)

Gazing into my eyes: I see Logan in your eyes! (12/16/08)

One-ee-and-a-two-ee-and-a! One-ee-and-a-two-ee-and-a! (12/3/08)

Wadding up a a dish towel and cradling it in his arms: Hi Molly! How are you, Molly? [Molly is my cousin's baby.] (12/2/08)

I want to go straight to bed. (11/16/08)

Logan, looking at a picture of horses: Horses do not have tails.
Melissa: Yes, horses have tails. See the tail behind the horse in this picture?
Logan: That is not a tail.
Melissa: What is it?
Logan: Feathers (11/9/08)

Melissa to Sophie: Play your review piece, "Go Tell Aunt Rhody."
Logan: I want to talk to Aunt Rhody! I want to talk to Aunt Rhody! (11/6/08)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Feverish Festival

As my previous post explains, Evan and Matthew were disqualified from competing in our own city piano festival, but all three of the older kids were able to compete last week in a different county competition.

Evan was due to compete in the Junior Division on Thursday evening. Ominously, he started complaining of a headache and backache in the morning, then soon a high fever with muscle aches and chills followed. Via Facebook & phone calls, we asked many people to pray for him. After dosing him with Tylenol, he played through his pieces and didn't appear to be slowed down by the medication, though he still felt sick. We decided that if he could handle walking around (unlike last year when he won first place but got the flu in time for the final recital), he would go and do his best. My normal mode of operation would be to keep my kids at home when contagious, but since they had spent nine months preparing for this festival, we decided to have them participate.

I sat next to the kids' piano teacher during the competition to hear her whispered feedback between numbers. Since Evan played second to last out of nine contestants, James stayed with him outside the room until nearly his turn. I was on pins-and-needles until Evan was done playing. To my great relief and joy, he played beautifully! Knowing his music well, I was aware of one brief "wrong turn" he took after a repeated theme, but he fixed it so seamlessly that I doubt anyone but his teacher, Evan, and myself would have known. (The judges had so many details to juggle that unless one was staring intently at the music at that moment, they might not have caught on to his cover-up. I will be very curious to read their comments...) After hearing everyone play, I thought (in my limited piano knowledge) that only two of the contestants could possibly place above him. However, his teacher knew more about the nuances of the pieces than I did and had a different opinion.

[If you haven't listened to his pieces and would like to, the video I took of him at home turned out better than the video at the actual contest.]

James took Evan home right after his division, but I stayed and listened to the Intermediate Division. The kids' piano teacher had one student (also homeschooled) playing in the division. I video-taped him as well, because I had heard his exquisite playing the day before:

The next morning, we received a phone call that Evan was a finalist. I had forgotten that only the first place winner would be told the actual place received before the final concert (in order to prepare to perform). Hours later his piano teacher called and informed me that Evan had won first place! I don't think I've ever experienced such an exciting shock in my life. His teacher was incredulous that I was surprised and informed me that his score was ten points higher than the second place score! The news that her intermediate student also won first place added to the euphoria...my euphoria, that is. Evan lay sick on the couch and only managed a wan smile in response to the good news.

After getting off of the phone, Matthew told me that his back hurt, which progressed into the climbing fever, chills and aches for him...and that night he and Sophie were to compete.

That evening Matthew and Sophie made it to the competition though the camera was left behind. Both of the kids played beautifully as well! Sophie performed with children up through age nine, along with Lucy, a six-year old friend from our church, who was the youngest child to ever compete in that festival. Matthew played in the 10 & 11 year old division.

Since I left my camera at home, I'm posting video I took at home earlier. If you listen, please turn the volume down a bit. I do have to say that they both played better at the contest, with steadier tempos and more contrast in dynamics...

Matthew and Sophie also won first place in their divisions, and Lucy won 2nd place!

But wait! There's more! Sophie got sick the day of the final concert, meaning that all three of our kids performed with fevers. What a roller-coaster experience!

We are so thankful for the prayers of many for our kids through this experience and for the Lord's blessing upon them in challenging circumstances.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Piano Politics

The spring piano competition season has been quite the roller coaster ride this year, adding some drama to our family life. In addition to the county piano festival that the kids are eligible to participate in due to the residence of their piano teacher, I entered Matthew and Evan in the piano festival of the city/county in which we reside. Since the boys had enough pieces prepared, I thought it would be good for them to gain more performance experience and learn from a broader base of judges.

In January, I received the application and rules for our city/county contest and we followed the rules to a "t". When the contest president received the applications, she emailed me saying, "I don't know how you were supposed to know this", but multiple movements of a Sonatina were not allowed and Matthew would be disqualified. She explained that a child the previous year had been disqualified after the second round of competition (in which he was the front runner). She also wrote "thank goodness it wasn't my student" (and by the way, her student went on to win.)

I replied to the president's email, questioning why that particular "rule" concerning multiple movements was not in writing a year after a student had been disqualified on that basis, and I requested that the committee review that rule before deciding to cut one of the movements from Matthew's program. In the presidents' reply, she expressed ignorance as to why that rule was not in writing and agreed to discuss it with the committee.

Weeks later, after the committee met, Evan & Matthew's piano teacher received a phone call from a piano festival committee member, saying that not only would Matthew be disqualified, but Evan would be as well, because according to their previously undisclosed classification list of composers, he was playing pieces by two Romantic period composers (breaking the rule that the contestant must play pieces from different periods of music). The boys' piano teacher was not allowed to contest the decision and was told that our money would not be refunded, because the rules specified no refunds "in black-and-white".

In regards to Evan's questioned pieces, in addition to a piece by a modern composer, he was to play Tarantella by Albert Pieczonka, a Romantic composer, and a Sea Piece by Edward MacDowell, a composer whose life bridged both the Romantic and Impressionistic Periods. The height of the Impressionistic period began in 1860 and MacDowell's Sea Pieces were composed in 1898. There is an entire book written about MacDowell, the fifth chapter of which is "The Impressionist", discussing his Sea Pieces.

Concerning our entry fees, we did get our money back, no thanks to the president of the association. I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"Stem Cell Debate Is Dead"

Here is a startling admission on television. Dr. Mehmet Oz (Professor of Cardiac Surgery at Columbia University) posits on Oprah that "the stem cell debate is dead." He explains that embryonic stem cells are difficult to control and result in cancer, while on the other hand, scientists have made 10 yrs. worth of advancement in the past year in causing skin cells to change into pluripotent stem cells which have proven to be much more effective and reliable. (Indeed adult stem cell research has already successfully treated at least 73 diseases!)

h/t: Vital Signs blog

I say "startling admission", because while the problems with embryonic stem cells have been known for quite some time, the truth has not made its way into the mainstream media. Yet Dr. Oz announces it on Oprah, sitting next to one of the most vocal proponents of embryonic stem cell research! In light of this, why did Oprah-approved President Obama rescind the 2007 executive order promoting adult stem cell research? Now federal funds are solely going to embryonic stem cell research. So much for keeping politics out of science! Dr. Oz said that a treatment for Parkinson's could be developed within ten years. Will President Obama's revocation of federal funds for studying adult stem cells slow down the research?

Related Article: Why Embryonic Stem Cells Are Obsolete

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

My Grandfather's Clock

Uncle Rich plays a death and dying song for the younger set...

**Updating to explain: Uncle Rich enjoys singing cowboy or bluegrass songs which often have the theme of either people or horses dying, or at least, love dying. I asked him if he knew "My Grandfather's Clock", one of Logan's current favorites, and of course he did, considering the content!**

And another enjoyable version (don't turn it off right away)...