Friday, August 21, 2009

Monkeying Around With The Violin

My four-year-old student A. is so cute, and I'm particularly pleased today because this morning she paid attention to her entire 30 minute lesson! One of the activities we did this morning was especially enjoyable for her:

She played "The Monkey Song" four times with good attention to keeping her bow only on one string at a time, and after each of the repetitions I had her take a step forward and pick up a plastic monkey from the "Barrel of Monkeys" game. Once she had all four monkeys and had made her way across the room to be standing in front of me, we linked their arms and hung them from one of her violin pegs, and she held her violin in playing position (with her head only) for a count of ten, holding up those monkeys.

She's improving in her ability to focus on a given task, which of course takes us miles in the right direction toward learning to play the violin!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Where Funny Meets Gross

Lori at Fake Food Free shared a link to This is why you're fat: where dreams become heart attacks. Wow, what a hilarious website! It's a place for people to upload photos and descriptions of the most unhealthy foods imaginable. I can't decide which items pictured are the most repulsive. They're all just so bad. I can't believe people eat stuff like that. Deep fried twinkies? Deep fried marshmallow fluff? A "Double Bypass Burger"? (That's a bacon cheeseburger with two fried eggs on it, sandwiched between two grilled cheese sandwiches for buns.)

As if the existence of these menu creations weren't disturbing enough, my dear husband actually thinks some of the foods look appetizing.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Time-Traveler's Resumé

Sarah: What should I put on my resumé to make myself sound impressive?

Chaz: "Proficient in time travel."

Green Smoothie Challenge

Happy Foody is hosting the 2009 Green Smoothie Challenge, and it starts today! 30 days of health and green smoothie deliciousness... count me in!

Participating in the Green Smoothie Challenge is simply a commitment to:

Drink at least 16 oz. of green smoothie per day
Do some sort of activity every day
Add a green leafy salad to your lunch or dinner
Stop drinking soda
Cut out all white sugar

(Nathan says I'm cheating because this is barely any different from my usual life, and thus not exactly a "challenge"...)

What is a green smoothie, you're asking? Just make a fruit smoothie as you usually would, and add a few handfuls of greens - kale, spinach, swiss chard, etc. If you're just getting started with green smoothies, I recommend starting with spinach.

I already drink a green smoothie almost daily, following a basic recipe that goes something like this:

1 banana (fresh or frozen)
Fresh or frozen fruit (peaches, berries, pineapple, orange, anything!)
Around 4 cups of fresh spinach
water or almond milk to help it blend all together
1 tsp. of flax oil (for omega 3's)
(I also put in 2 T of psyllium for added fiber)
Sometimes I add a tablespoon of almond butter
Sometimes I add oats I've soaked in the fridge overnight
Sometimes I add brown rice protein powder

There are dozens of delicious smoothies I make regularly, and maybe I'll post some 'recipes' here in the next few weeks, like my "oatmeal cookie" smoothie, my "carob banana" smoothie, and others.

Check out Happy Foody's post for some great testimonials to the benefits of starting your day with the nutrients your body needs instead of your typical American breakfast. Breakfasts of cold cereal or bagels or eggs and bacon just aren't that good for you - too many simple carbs and too much sugar, or too high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

My friends think I'm weird, but I often eat veggies as part of my breakfast, whether in a smoothie or not. And you know what? I think the food I eat is way tastier than all this Standard American Diet stuff.

The part of this Challenge that I'm most excited about is cutting out white sugar for a month. I do try to stay away from refined sugar, but I know it creeps into my diet here and there.

I noticed that Heather is participating in the Green Smoothie Challenge too! Let me know if you decide to participate so I can follow your blog and keep up with your progress.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Suzuki Institute

The Suzuki Institute was awesome. I learned a lot, and it was rejuvenating to have a week away from cleaning and dishes, where I could focus on learning and growing as a violin teacher! The whole experience sort of made me want to go back to school. I stayed at The Archdiocesan Center at St. Thomas Seminary, which I affectionately called 'The Convent' since my small room, just large enough for a twin bed and a desk, reminded me of movie depictions of rooms in convents. Also, all the people in my Suzuki class were women, and many of them were staying in the seminary as well. Oh, it was fun.

I met some terrific people and enjoyed thoughtful discussions about both playing music and teaching music.

There was an amazing frozen yogurt and smoothie joint just a few miles away, and classmates and I made more than a couple of trips there. It's probably similar to the Pinkberry phenomenon, which I've heard a lot about but never tried. Tart, tangy frozen yogurt with fresh fruit toppings. Way, way better than Cold Stone could ever be.

In addition to classroom lecture time, I got to observe some truly wonderful teachers working with students for a total of 15 hours of observation over the course of the week.

Our course teacher said something wonderful that I hope I can always remember:

"My number one goal isn't to train excellent violinists. Over the years I've had some students who were not a good reflection of my teaching, but I don't care. My first priority is that they become lovely human beings, and secondly, that they learn to love music. All the rest is details - important details, but details. And you know, some of those students who never become good violinists just may need me in their lives for reasons I don't know at the time."

She sent me home with lots to think about and a list of about 30 books I really want to read. For my fellow musicians and music teachers, I highly recommend attending courses like these, even if you don't want to become a "stereotypical" Suzuki teacher (whatever that may be these days). The principles taught can only benefit you and broaden your horizons.

Ahh, inspiration is a wonderful thing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Week in CT

I'm leaving in just a few minutes to drive to Connecticut, where I'll be attending the Hartt Suzuki Institute for the next week, taking a training course for teachers. I'm excited to learn how to be a more effective teacher, but I'm a little sad to leave Nathan for a week.

I'm leaving him with two pizzas in the freezer, several boxes of macaroni and cheese, bread and ham and cheese, and other bachelor-friendly meals that can be quickly and easily prepared. I'm pretty sure he'll eat both pizzas tonight, and then go buy about twelve more to get him through the rest of the week. And I think he'll have so much fun eating unlimited pizza, watching the random documentaries that interest him each evening, and playing loud music at the piano until the wee hours of the morning, that he won't even miss me!