Friday, October 31, 2014

// 31. after dinner walks //


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"After dinner sit awhile, after supper walk a mile."  
-   English Proverb


“Few people know how to take a walk. The qualifications are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence and nothing too much.”
-   Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can hardly believe that we're at the end of 31 days of blogging!  I will close out this series by sharing with you a very beloved family tradition- the After Dinner Walk. 

Sometimes you finish dinner, and you're not quite ready for dessert. You've got to stretch the legs, get the digestion going a little, work up a second wind of an appetite before dessert and coffee are served. It's times like these that call for an after dinner walk. 

We don't walk after every meal.  And not everyone is obliged to come. When Alex first joined our family I don't think he quite understood the after dinner walk, and often opted to stay behind. But he's come around to them more recently and usually joins us. It's especially nice to take a walk after dinner if the weather is particularly fine. Winter walks are not as popular, but if we're feeling brave we'll go.  We always walk after dinner on Thanksgiving and Christmas. 

Everyone get their coats and shoes, my dad puts the dog on a leash. In the summer we can look for golf balls that have been shot over the fence of the near by golf course.  In the winter my brother often brings a pipe. Sometimes we all walk in a straight line, taking up the entire street. Other times people pair up, some walking briskly ahead, while others fall behind admiring a house or a garden. Then we all come home, put the coffee on, and have dessert. It's always the prefect way to end a good meal together. 

















And just like that, 31 days of blogging comes to a close. 

The most important learning is done in the home, and I've learned so many things in the home my parents made over the years. Now they're being taught in the home Alex and I are making together. I hope you've enjoyed reading about them. And perhaps you've learned something in the process as well. 

Thank you for reading.  I am looking forward to NOT posting anything tomorrow!

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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

// 29. take the scenic route //


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Sometimes, when you're going somewhere, you have the option to take the fastest route, or the scenic route.  You can take the highway, or you can go around the lake, or along the river. My family has always been in favor of taking the scenic route.  This usually happened on the way home from church. We'd pile in the van and my dad would say something like, "well, should we take the scenic route?" And there would be various amounts of yeas and nays depending on who was hungry or not. 


We also like to take scenic routes along Summit Ave or around the Lakes in Minneapolis to look at all the cool old houses.  Every year on Christmas Eve, on our way home from church, we would take the scenic route along Summit to look at Christmas lights. Alex and I have our own version of a Christmas Eve scenic route that has been expanded to include driving through downtown St. Paul to see the lights in Rice Park. I confess that the first time it happened by accident, but now it's tradition!


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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

// 30. eating ice cream out of the carton //


Did you have rules as a kid that became more relaxed as you got older? No chocolate in the morning. Make your bed everyday. Only 30 minutes of TV. Stuff like that? 

When we were kids there is no way my parents would have let us eat straight out of the ice cream carton, but somehow when we were teenagers and young adults this became ok. It even became sort of a nightly ritual.  I think it started with my dad's tendency to eat sweets in very small portions. At night he'd get a little bit of a sweet tooth, but all he'd need to satisfy it was one spoonful of ice cream. So he'd pull out the ice cream, take his spoonful, and put it back.  Then I'm sure at some point he got caught, by me or my sister or someone, and the power of suggestion was too great and they had to have a spoonful as well.  

Well, it got to the point where almost every evening someone would get a spoon and the ice cream, and then everyone else would come running to with their spoon.  And we'd all stand there, eating ice cream out of the carton and shooting the breeze.  

The first time Alex caught me eating ice cream out of the carton he was very surprised to hear that it was something I learned from my parents.  

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// 28. selflessness //


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To be a good father and mother requires that the parents defer many
 of their own needs and desires in favor of the needs of their children. 
As a consequence of this sacrifice, conscientious parents develop
 a nobility of character and learn to put into practice the selfless truths 
taught by the Savior Himself.
-James E. Faust

I know I'm not very far into this whole parenting gig. But I'm already seeing that being a parent requires no small amount of selflessness. My tendency is to be selfish, so I know being a mother is making me a better person because it is forcing me to put someone else first, all day (and night!) long. 

I know that my parents have sacrificed a lot over the years for me and my brothers and sister. Deciding to live off of one income so my mom could stay home with us. My mom spent the last 25 years of her life homeschooling us. I can't decided if I want to home school or not. I have seen how much work goes into home schooling, and I'm not sure I'm up for it! My parents never owned new cars.  Instead they gave us piano lessons, and violin lessons, and paid for club gymnastics, and home school co-ops  I don't think they would call all of this sacrificing because they did everything with so much joy. But now that I'm an adult I see that it probably was a sacrifice. Sometimes they probably just wanted to drive a new car, instead a rusty old mini van.  Sometimes my mom probably wished she could send us off to school and have a few hours of peace and quiet by herself, but there she was, everyday for 25 years making sure we were learning the things we should be learning. 


Selflessness is a hard thing to learn, but giving freely of yourself is what the Christian life is all about. I think it's beautiful that something as ordinary as family life is just overflowing with opportunities to learn to become more like Christ. The family is the domestic church. Everything starts in the home, learning, peace, life, and faith. If we are lucky we have parents who will dedicate their lives to teaching us those things. 

By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us,
 and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
- 1 John 3:16

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Monday, October 27, 2014

// 27. to love classical music //


To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist 
- Robert Schumann

Music has been such a huge part of my life. Maybe I was born with some natural interest or ability, but I think it was my mom who really taught me to love classical music. I started piano when I was 8 years old and violin when I was 12. My the time I was 13 I was saying that I wanted to be a music major. I loved music, not every day, there were many days I hated it. But most of the time I knew without doubt that music was what I was supposed to be doing. And during all those years my mom was there either encouraging me, or forcing me, to stick with it. 


Both of my parents love classical music.  When my friends were listening to Radio Disney, or NSYNC (I just had to google how to spell that. That's how out of touch I am) we always had the classical station on at home, or on the car. I didn't always like it, but I was exposed to classical music from a very young age. As a part of our home school we often went to see the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Minnesota Opera.  And we all took piano lessons.

I was thrilled when I started piano lessons, and even more thrilled when I start violin lessons.  But I was a normal kid, and if left to myself I would have never practiced.  Everyday my mom was reminding me, ok, forcing me to practice. Every week she was there in my lessons, paying attention, even taking notes for me.  When I was practicing incorrectly she called me out on it, it drove me crazy, but now I see how lucky I was that she was so involved in my musical training.  Without that involvement I surely would have quit.   

The Bethel University Orchestra on tour in Germany.

But thanks to my mom I stuck with it. I played with Minnesota Youth Symphonies for 4 years. I received music scholarships for college. While in college I had the opportunity to travel around the country and to Europe with my orchestra.  I  featured as a piano soloist with the orchestra my senior year. I've given 3 solo recital.  I've composed my own music.  I graduated with a bachelor of music in piano performance.  And now I run my own business teaching piano and violin lessons. If my mom had let me quit I wouldn't have done any of that!

On top of all the stuff I have done, the things I have to show, there are the intangibles. When it comes to expressing and feeding the human soul, I think classical music has all other forms of music beat. The feeling of satisfaction and catharsis I get when I sit down and play a favorite Beethoven or Chopin piece is unrivaled. Listening to favorite works bring back such vivid memories and raw emotions. Playing for someone else and seeing the tears in their eyes when I've finished has been one of my most meaningful accomplishments. (After child birth, or course!)

Now I'm 28 years old, and I've been a music teacher for 7 years. When parents are having trouble with their child not wanting to practice or wanting to quit altogether I tell them about how, even thought I loved music, I still had to be forced to practice.  I tell them about how my mom sat in on my lessons and took notes, and how it drove me crazy, but was so helpful. I'm seeing now that you can get the best teachers, and the most expensive instruments, but if a love of music isn't fostered in the home, it won't amount to a thing. I see now so clearly just how much I have to thank my mom for who I am today.  I'm so glad my parents love classical music. I'm so glad it rubbed off on me.  I really hope it will rub off on Johnny.  He seems to be off to a good start!


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// 26. to love jazz //


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By and large, jazz has always been like the kind of a man 
you wouldn't want your daughter to associate with.
-Duke Ellington


My dad introduced me jazz music.  He loves jazz, so we listened to a lot of jazz in our house. I have so many great memories of doing the dishes together in the kitchen with our local jazz station on. Louis Armstrong, Billy Holiday, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, they have all been familiar to me since I was a little girl.  These were the songs my parents danced to in the kitchen, the songs my little sister and I pretended we could tap dance to. My dad and I danced to Louis Armstrong at my wedding. Because of all that, I love jazz too.  


When I was around 12 years old we happened upon the Ken Burns documentary, Jazz, on PBS. There's about 10 episodes, each over an hour long, and it goes through the entire history and development of jazz. If you've never seen it, it's wonderful and I highly recommend it.  Anyway, every night my entire family would gather around the TV to watch Jazz and learn even more about all the musicians we already loved. 

The thing about jazz that is so amazing to me is that is sounds so effortless and easy, but in my experience, it's the hardest kind of music to play. And it's the only kind of music I can't play.  I tried once.  One semester in college the jazz band needed a piano player and I thought that sounded like fun, so I went to a rehearsal. I'd been playing music almost all my life but when I looked at that jazz music I had no idea what to make of it.  We'll just say that I didn't last long in jazz band, but after my very brief stint at it, my appreciation, respect, and awe of jazz musicians increased  exponentially.

So I remain a jazz lover. I love how jazz can make you feel so many things. It can make you feel classy and swanky.  It can make you feel care free and goofy and all you want to do it tap your feet and dance. Sometimes it makes you feel introspective and melancholy. Whatever you're feeling, jazz is always a suitable life-soundtrack. 

Hot can be cool, and cool can be hot, and each can be both. But hot or cool, man, jazz is jazz. 
-Louis Armstrong


Happy Birthday to my dad today! I love you!



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Saturday, October 25, 2014

// 25. anticipation //


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What's the best part about getting presents? I think it's seeing the presents wrapped and ready for you days before you get to open it, and you're just dying to know what's inside. The anticipation is almost as great as the gift itself!

My mom is really good at getting gifts wrapped ahead of time. For our birthdays she would wrap the gifts a few days before our birthday and set them out on the fireplace mantle. We would look at them, feel them, listen to them, for days trying to figure out what we going to get. She does the same thing at Christmas time.  She likes to get a bunch of presents out under the tree a week or two before Christmas, because it looks pretty to have presents under the tree but also because anticipation is great! It's so much fun to see a bunch of  presents under the tree and hunt for which ones are yours. 


I like to get presents under the tree right away, although I'm wondering if it will work this year.  Last year at Christmas Johnny liked eating tissue paper, which we discovered because we found it in his colostomy bag! This year I'm pretty sure he'll be into destroying any wrapped presents I'm brave enough to set out early. So, we'll just have to see.  



One more thing.  Today is my mom's Birthday! Happy Birthday Mom! I love you!


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