Documentary on St. Peter’s Classical School

I just had to post this video of my old school, St. Peter’s Classical. This 9 min. documentary was taken by a lady from the Antiochan cathedral in Wichita, where Bishop Basil resides. Bishop Basil is not only a good friend of my Uncle Joel’s (Fr. Peter Smith), but he even recognized Jesse when he came to visit St. Seraphim a few weeks ago– not because he and Jesse had met, but because Jesse looks so much like his uncle! He’s one of the sweetest men you’ll ever meet.

This video also features a couple of my close friends– Jeanie Pothoff, a wonderful lady at our church who is always available to give me advice and help me out. The day she found out I was pregnant (I told her long before we even told our church or my boss), she asked what I was craving and bought me a huge container of Chipotle guacamole 🙂 She even gave me a “Congrats, you’re done with the 1st Trimester!” present a few weeks ago. If you’ve ever seen Topher Unruh’s crib, it came as a hand-me-down gift from Jeanie.

And then, there’s her daughter, little Mary Pothoff, who’s also featured. If you’ve ever heard me talk about my piano students, I guarantee she’s come up. Teachers are not supposed to play favorites, but we always do. She is 8 going on 45. They didn’t even need to prompt her for these questions they ask her, because that’s how she talks. All the time. She has such a heart for the Lord and rarely ever gets in trouble (usually when she does, it’s because she’s trying to gain the approval of the other girls in her class and doesn’t realize it’s wrong). A few weeks ago, the autistic boy in her class was having a hard day. She came and asked me, “What should I do for him?” The other teacher and I responded, “How about you pray for him to have a better day and feel happy?” She nodded, obviously relieved that there was something she could do. And she did– I saw her with her eyes closed, mouth moving, for a good part of the lunch period.

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Siobhan

The latest contestant to get kicked off American Idol was Siobhan Magnus. In searching for her final performance on Youtube (I don’t watch the show since I work both nights it’s on), I found this clip of her singing in a musical at the ripe old age of 16…it’s phenomenal. She’s never done anything close to this caliber on American Idol– no 16 year old should be able to hit these kinds of notes (wait for what she does after 4:15!) It does prove that the show isn’t looking for the best singer, just the most marketable one.

Soup Catastrophe

Jesse would actually prefer that I call this an “incident”. He believes that one must go through “disaster” before arriving at catastrophe. Incident-Disaster-Catastrophe. 3 Step Process. Mind you, however, that he said this before Event #3 unfolded.

I really like soup. Lots. But have you seen the high sodium in those things? The recommended daily allowance of sodium for an adult is 1200-1500 mg. For comparison, a Quarter Pounder at McDonalds has 1300 mg. And GET THIS: A cheeseburger at Chili’s has 4300 mg!!! Forget the calories and fat involved, this is why America is having so many heart attacks! Good grief!

When you compare soup with those things, it isn’t too bad– 850 mg. per serving. Since I eat the whole can, that’s around 1700 mg. In one meal. Not too fantastic.

Event #1 “The Incident”

So, I tried the “low sodium” version of the Chicken Noodle soup, just because I’d like to stay away from high blood pressure during this pregnancy (I didn’t say EVERY pregnancy…).

BIG MISTAKE.

THE GROSSEST THING I HAVE EVER TASTED.

Even the garbage disposal regurgitated it. Ever try washing $1 down the drain? It’s sad. A whole dollar! That’s 2 Diet Cherry Limeades at Sonic!!! All gone, because someone decided that eating yarn floating in dishwater was supposed to taste like Chicken Noodle soup.

Event #2 “The Disaster”

After force-feeding the sink, I tried again. This time, I went for “Split Pea with Ham”– the normal sodium variety. If you’ve ever seen condensed soup, it’s not pretty. And it doesn’t come out of the can easily, even with a fork. Which is what I discovered when I accidently flung it in my face.

The snotty brain blob didn’t even make it to the floor before Claire had gobbled it up. She likes to follow me whenever I go into the kitchen. She is well aware of her odds. “Mommy’s a klutz. Mommy can’t cook. I am hungry. Feed me.”

Pretty sure I would see that missing soup once again, about 5 hours later, packaged (hopefully, packaged, not runny, please, dear God) into little green poop, I finally poured what was left into the pot, added the water and cooked it. Tasty, and well worth the wait. I packaged up the 2nd “850 mg. of sodium” and put it in the fridge.

Event #3 “The Catastrophe”

Later that night, as we were watching the 5th Star Trek movie (the old ones with William Shatner), I started craving that leftover Split Pea Soup. Jesse happened to be up and about, so I asked if he’d pop it in the microwave.

I didn’t ask him to spill it all over the carpet on his way out of the kitchen. Nope, he did that all on his own.

And there was Claire, who follows Jesse around because she worships the ground he walks on. If the first round of green didn’t give her bowel issues, this was sure to do it.

We scrubbed as much as we could, but I’m pretty sure there’s still a green hue. Good thing we own plenty of stain remover for our peeing wonder dog who will surely have the runs by tomorrow morning.

And that’s when I noticed Mirabelle lapping up what was left in the bowl that Jesse had set down.

Great. Just great.

Mirabelle Strikes Again

Apparently, I was in her way.

She was trying to catch a fly that has been buzzing about. 5 seconds, ago, she succeeded, and ate it.

I hate this cat.

The Episcopal Church of North America

I ask you to forgive me in advance. I am about to be more scathing and judgmental than I have ever been on this blog.

I believe that there are dark demonic forces at work and rule over the Episcopal Church of North America, and I refuse to ever set foot in another church that concedes any sort of authority to their bishops or priests. I know that there are individual parishes that do not “believe the same things” as the entire Episcopal church, but I honestly find it hard to care. When someone is ordained in the Episcopal church, they have taken vows before God to uphold its doctrines. Simple as that. To say they are not culpable for the grievous beliefs and heretical doctrines of their leaders is to undermine and deconstruct the very meaning of a vow.

Lest you think I am over-reacting, let me list just a few of the things that have come to my attention in the last few years and months.

Let’s start with abortion. I believe that the average young American is un-informed as to what it really is, and that there is a good chance of changing someone’s views on the matter when they are presented with the facts. For example, I got even the toughest Lesbian Heroine addict in my “Flexing Poplars” classroom to admit that once the “fetus” has a heartbeat, it is a living human being. For some reason, no one actually wants to draw attention to the fact that the “fetus” has completely separate DNA from the moment of conception– they still want to believe that it is the mother’s body. Or they call the “fetus” a parasite, as a way of explaining the two seperate strains of DNA.

So, for some reason, the heart-beat argument was convincing for all of them. And then I dropped the bombshell. “A baby has a heartbeat at only 6 weeks of age. That is only 1-2 weeks after a woman would even realize she’s pregnant. Abortions rarely, if ever, occur before that time.” The kids were in shock, because they knew I was right. They were even more shocked to hear that by the time most abortions take place, the baby already has eyes, ears, fingerprints, fingernails and hair. And can cry out as it is being ripped apart with tools or burned alive with saline (the 2 most common abortion techniques, that can legally occur even after the baby is partially outside of the mother).

It was effective. The following semester, one of the 15 year old girls in my class got pregnant from a drunken orgy that she and a few others were participating in. Despite the criticism it drew from most of her friends, she kept the baby, opting for homeschooling and raising the child with the help of her mother. She said that the talk we all had in our English class played a huge part in her decision, because who really wants to knowingly murder a human being? She became a type of “Flexing Poplars” hero, bringing her baby to visit classes and eat lunch with her friends. They honored her sacrifice and understood why she did it.

Compare these hardened druggie kids, high (literally) on the most liberal teachings society has to offer, with the Episcopal Church. My first realization that they were outspokenly pro-choice came when I was rounding up funding for the Crisis Pregnancy Clinic I interned for in college. Every Episcopal church I called turned down my request, because, and, I quote, “We are pro-mother and pro-choice. Why on earth would we help you?”

Or take this recent excerpt from a speech given on July 21, 2007 by Rev. Katherine Ragsdale Hancock, where she calls abortion a blessing, not once, not twice, but eight different times. You can find the whole speech, but here is an excerpt.

These are the two things I want you, please, to remember – abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.

I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing – who do this work every day: the health care providers, doctors, nurses, technicians, receptionists, who put your lives on the line to care for others (you are heroes — in my eyes, you are saints); the escorts and the activists; the lobbyists and the clinic defenders; all of you. You’re engaged in holy work.

Saints. Heroes. Holy Work. Because they murder babies in the name of Jesus.

Does this make anyone else want to vomit?

I am getting too angry too continue on this particular subject, so let us turn instead to the Head Bishop of the entire Episcopal Church of North America,Katherine Jefferts Schori.After spending many years of her life campaigning for gay and lesbian bishops, she has achieved her wish.

On February 9 of this year, she won a 3 year battle with a conservative parish’s request to buy their building from the diocese. The parish community was willing to pay 3x the amount that the building was worth, but after an intense court battle, she was able to turn them down.

Who did she sell the building to? Imam Muhammad Affify, part of the Islamic Awareness Center. The church is now a Muslim mosque, the crosses painted over, the Rev. and the parish sent packing. Why? Because they stood up against some of the radical doctrines of the emerging Episcopal church. She said that she would rather see “churches sold and deconsecrated for secular purposes than passed on to the departing congregations.”

Oh, yes. And because Bishop Katherine Schori has been trying to extend an olive branch to the Muslims for years, saying, “Christians are functioning in the face of Islamic culture and mores, evangelism is a real challenge. …we remember the centrality of our mission is to love each other. That means caring for our neighbors. And it does not mean bickering about fine points of doctrine.” She has even helped to advertise the childrens’ programs that this new Islamic church has to offer.

Not to mention that Bishop Katherine’s own mother renounced her Episcopal membership and became Orthodox when the first woman was ordained as a priest. When she died, Katherine refused to give her mother an Orthodox burial, saying at her funeral that in her latter years, she had become “involved in cultish practices”.

I hope that even if you disagree with me on the dire straights the Episcopal church is in, you at least can see why I am utterly repulsed by everything of that name or affiliation.

2nd Article

My second article is up on the website, but I’m actually going to post it here as well, for the following reason: they changed a few sentences in the first and last paragraph to make it a tailored “marketing” fit for the website (but the owner made sure to tell me that there was nothing wrong with what I wrote, marketing just wanted it worded differently for search purposes). And, as you can guess, I hated the changes. So here is the article in it’s unadulterated form. If you want to see the atrocious changes they made, you can follow the previous steps I listed and click instead of the title, “Piano Lessons for Kids”.

Music Lessons for Kids are a topic of much debate in the music community. How should one go about teaching music to children? Are Music lessons for Kids even worth the money? What is the best age to start?

Just as with any other activity, it completely depends on the child. Age is only one of the factors, including attention span, eye/hand coordination and the basics of the alphabet and numeric system. But even the importance of these factors varies from child to child.  Music is not a one-size fits all activity. Anyone who says there is only “one method” is probably saying so out of a lack of confidence in their own capabilities. Creativity and perseverance are two easy ways to overcome almost any initial disadvantage the child may start with.

Don’t believe me? Really, how young is too young? How can “creativity” teach a 3 year old how to play the piano? The answer is easy, for a 3 year old can learn to do lots of things. What makes the piano any different? Children are able to identify rhythm patterns as early as 15 months old. They can clap and tap along using various body parts, such as fingers and toes. A 3 year old just needs to be shown that this “clapping and tapping” can be done on various keys of the piano.

But how does a 3 year old come to follow notes along a page? It is true that most children of this age do not yet know how to read, but the basic skill of tracking the eyes from left to right begins at this stage of development. It is very likely, then, that learning to read music from a page will simply go hand in hand with this learning process already taking place. In other words, reading does not need to happen prior to the music lessons, but will probably happen as a result of them!

Even attention span can be overcome by the teacher’s own creative and consistent efforts. It is true that most children under the age of 8 will not be able to handle the traditional “music lesson”. Sitting still for thirty to sixty minutes is something that is nearly impossible for children of all ages! To say that a 3 year old is not ready for music lessons, simply because they cannot sit still for thirty minutes is to believe that those thirty minutes of sitting are absolutely essential to play music. To say such a thing would be like telling Beethoven that one needs to hear in order to play music! All the teacher needs to do is break the lesson into smaller increments of varying activity, depending on the individual personality of the student. Tapping the rhythm of the song with drumsticks on the floor is a great way to re-capture a distracted child (because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to be a rock star?).

All in all, learning music comes down to one skill: passion. The child must, above all else, desire to play music. It’s not something that can be taught, but it’s definitely not something that is limited to an age group.

Orthodox Celebrities

People I didn’t know were Orthodox, until recently:

Tina Fey, from 30 Rock

Tom Hanks (attends St. Nicholas Church in Northridge, CA)

Troy Polamalu from the Steelers

Steven Delopoulos– the lead singer of Burlap to Cashmere. I know, right? You can hear it in his solo album, where he even includes background clips of Holy Week services.

Take 3 minutes…

…and do yourself a huge favor.

I am trying to be more controlled with how many awesome Glee clips I post. So here you go, the best two from the last two episodes.

By the way, Glee producers have done a great job censoring clips off of You-tube, so I actually had to find this at the New York Times video section. So, if it’s from the New York Times, you know it’s got to be good.

Glee: ‘Four Minutes’.

The other is a cover of Lionel Richie’s “Hello”, a duet sung by the lead character Rachel and a new character they just added, Jesse St. James. Apparently, (in real life) the 2 of them had already sung together on Broadway for many years in the musical, “Spring Awakening”.

Apparently, they are best friends in real life:

And, as a bonus, 2 of the best quotes:

Brittany: “Did you know that dolphins are really just gay sharks?”

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Will Schuster: “Okay class, what do you say when you answer the phone?”

Mercedes: “What up?”

Artie: “Who dis be?”

Kurt: “No she’s dead, this is her son.”

Frustration

I am so frustrated with Ashford University right now!

For those of you that know, I have been trying to become an online TA for Ashford University. It would be a great set up if I could actually get the job– grade papers from home for a 5 week online course, get paid $1,000! But they have this RIDICULOUS 3 week training course that is more time consuming than the job would actually be. Why? Because they make you sit through these power point presentations, hunting for answers to a weekly test. And their database is incredibly cumbersome. The more “user friendly” they try to make it, the more difficult it becomes.

The FIRST time I tried to under go this training, I’ll admit. I didn’t take it seriously. I vastly underestimated just how frustrating the database would be. Plus, we moved the first week the training started, so I lost internet service. By Week 2 of the training, I had made enough mistakes that they “eliminated” me.

But they did ask if I wanted to try again. And, since I’m a glutton for punishment, I did try again, armed with insider knowledge of what specific things they would be grading on.

I did everything perfect. I mean EVERYTHING. All of my evaluations said, “Great! 100%!” With the exception on one thing. The last night before the training ended, the night that all the papers were due, their system crashed. Simply put, it WOULD NOT OPEN UP. I tried 3 different computers, 3 different web browsers, and, NOTHING.

So, on the last day of training, I was eliminated. Because their system crashed (as they admitted) and I was unable to load my graded papers until the following morning.

But they did ask if I wanted to try again.

Now, after having wasted 5 weeks of my life on this University (not to mention the 3 month long EXTENSIVE interview and selection process), I was very tempted to send a nasty letter and walk away. I sent the letter, but did not walk away. I decided, for the sake of our unborn child, to try again. Working from home is a priceless commodity, one that I could not pass up.

So, here I am, trying once again. Third time’s the charm, right?

WRONG. In the past 3 months, they’ve REDONE the entire system. All of the clunky navigating I learned to do in the old system (which usually caused me to have at least 10 windows open at one time!) is now useless. It’s all different. And, in my opinion, clunkier than ever. Half of the time I spend isn’t even grading things– it’s trying to figure out how to send an “email” to a mock student!

Please pray for me, as I attempt to keep my sanity. I am this close to unleashing my scary pregnant attitude.

First Article!

I posted this on Facebook, but thought that I should also put it here. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I was accepted to be a contract writer for my old music company. The owner is trying to build an archive of informative articles for parents who are interested in various aspects of music lessons. The job will probably only last  5 or 6 months, but so far it’s been a blast!

Since I am worried that this blog will get “linked” to the owner’s website through a direct cut-and-paste web link, I will simply tell you how to get to it, if you so desire.

1. go to learnpianoinyourhome.com

2. click “lessons in your home” on the green bar

3. click “articles” on the top right hand corner

3. click on the article titled, “Home Music Lessons: Helpful for Students, Convenient for Parents”

I submitted my second article today, which Jesse said was way better than the first (which is funny, seeing as I wrote it in half an hour after realizing the deadline was TONIGHT!), so that one should be up in a few days. I will post something when it appears. I can’t simply post the article on here because it is now “the legal property of the music company”. Oh well.