Lego Letters

Last night I came upon LK with one of my books opened in his lap. “You reading?” I inquired. “Mommy!” He returned with an unhappy tone and holding up the book, “I see the letters but I don’t know what they mean! I want to read!”

I was happy to hear this, because while LK has demonstrated he understands that letters make words, he has shown little interest in actually learning them or how they go together. His personality is such that he is usually reluctant to try his hand at any new task or experience unless he’s sure he can do it correctly the first time, so it wouldn’t surprise me to discover he knows them all and their sounds and merely keeps it to himself.. He’s a sly fellow.

But understanding letters and understanding how they go together are different, so today I sat down with him to start at the beginning. I want to make sure the letters are all there before we start putting them together, but how to go about this? There are a plethora of options and possibilities, and I found it all somewhat overwhelming. I tried a couple different approaches without success, and then I remembered something.

LK is a builder. I have taught him a number of other skills by having him build through the lesson, so why not now? We sat down with the Legos and I said today we were learning about the letter A, could he help me build one? We did. Then he kept building them. And we talked about the sounds it makes, favorite words that start with “a”, etc.

I don’t know why, but I’m still surprised at how easy teaching him becomes once we’re building something. Of course, anything LK builds must have a function by the end of it.

Musical Monday

I love classical music. It’s one of the few things I feel I know reasonably well, and discovering new pieces is somewhat of a passion for me. During the college days I can’t tell you how many of my peers learned of my musical preference and returned with, “Oh, I don’t like classical music.” Unable to comprehend the statement, I undertook the challenge of a) understanding how someone could say that and b) doing my utmost to change their minds. This is actually how I became exposed to the popular genres on campus, primarily hip hop, heavy metal, and indie rock. By understanding their music, even on a basic level, I was able to present options from classical composers I felt might peak their interest. A lot of the time my approach worked, but not always. I felt happy just attempting the change, and I learned much from it too.

All this to say, I love classical music, but I also love sharing classical music. Thusly I’ve decided to share something classical on a weekly basis. I think it would be awesome if readers would like to link to or otherwise share classical pieces they love in comments, but don’t feel at all obligated to doso!


An Education in Vintage China

My mom recently gave me some china that she’s had since before I was born. I remember staring at it when I was a little girl and being very fond of the print (Royal Cauldon x436, if you like details), so when she offered it to me I said absolutely yes! It’s not a complete set, but that’s okay. I have a tendency to collect this piece of this china and that piece of that china, usually in the teapot/ teacup categories. What my mom gave me was mostly plates and saucers, so it adds beautifully to a relatively diminutive area of my collection.

I finally pulled the pieces out of their box, and here’s where I’m unsure. Before giving them to me, my mom warned me that some of the pieces had developed browning. Some of them also have an unpleasant, somewhat waxy smell, and the standard washing with warm water and a mild detergent didn’t touch either the stain or the smell. Today I sat down to do some research on what (if anything) can be done to restore these. The browning doesn’t bother me so much, but the smell is distracting.

I found one article that suggested rubbing stained china with a little baking soda, which I tried in a small area with no result, although it did help a [very] little with the smell. Then I found this article, which leads me to believe that the browning is crazing with severe staining (all the pieces have crazing to varying degrees). The next step, therefore, is that I’m considering the water/ peroxide soak outlined in the article. Has anyone ever done this? Does anyone know if the smell is related to the staining? Is there something else that it could be instead of crazing stains?

Temporary Setback

My current crochet project has been a mild source of frustration, which is probably why I’ve been letting it sit for the last month in favor of other, less irritating pursuits. Like piecing out a million 16 work shirts. There’s nothing like finally getting all the squares crocheted only to discover that the pattern you had in mind isn’t going to work.

My large squares are two stitches too short. I got out my notes, because the squares are mostly an improvisation. The math was right on paper, but it wasn’t right in the yarn. Why? I spent a good long time contemplating the question last night, and at length I remembered that I had changed the stitch count of the brown border in order to give it a tighter square look. Then I failed to write the change down.

Apparently I thought an improvisation on an improvisation was a good idea? I have filed this away as not so good a thing to do, chalked it up as a learning experience, and pulled out more brown yarn. The perfectionist in me is going to be upset that the brown borders won’t be uniform, but I think it would be worse trying to make uneven squares “fit.”

I’ll get over it, one way or another!

Piano Check-In

It took me a couple days, but my scales plateaued out at 108 on the metronome (that’s 108 beats per minute). While I can’t go faster than that without things sounding sloppy,  I was expecting to start from a much slower speed than 108 so I’m not complaining. My goal is 120, but I have no idea how long it’ll take me to get there.

My scales routine: 2 octaves in 8th notes, 3 octaves in triplets, 4 octaves in 16th notes; start in the key of C and work around the circle of 5ths.

My first music project is to re-learn a piece I first learned in my teens–Gopak by Mussorgsky. My fingers know all the notes, so it’s just a matter of getting it back up to speed! I thought I was making good headway on it, but then I had the most humbling of experiences when I found this YouTube video:

I have a long ways to go yet. I never played it anywhere near that fast. And I find Rachmanoniv’s playing intimidating. *le sigh*

Oh well. I’m determined to do it, and once I have Gopak in hand, I’ll turn my attention to the piece I started learning while expecting Squeaky.

Until next time!

Clouds of Mud

This time of year brings lots of these:

Some of them pass by us, and we listen to the thunder and watch the monstrous clouds travel through the canyon and valley, like the one pictured. LK finds thunderstorms intimidating, but his response is to build a firepower (as he calls firearms) out of Legos to shoot back at the cloud.

Other times the storms pass over us, and between rainfalls the children like to engage in one of their favorite things:

It’s is not as regular as the storms, but a good mud puddle is hard to come by and they appreciate the times I let them get dirty up to their eyebrows.

Yay for washing machines and bathtubs!