Tuesday, August 29, 2017

5 Reasons I Adore Our Center for the Arts

The Fall 2017 Season at the Glema Mahr Center for the Arts--a beautiful performing arts venue in Madisonville, Kentucky--has been announced. There are eleven scheduled performances, and it's a great season lineup!

There's so much more to the Glema than one sees in the brochure, though. In addition to the amazing talents that are brought to our little city, here are five reasons I adore the Glema.


- They support community theater.
Twice a year, the Glema hosts community productions. In recent years, one has been a musical and one has not; there have been comedies, dramas, and dinner theater settings. And, not only do we get great theater, but we also get the fun of recognizing some of the performers.

- They host local high school productions.
I remember staging high school drama club productions in the gym, in the cafeteria, and in the lobby. We certainly made memories to last a lifetime, but the year we got into that auditorium... well, I can't speak for the audience, but for those of us on stage, it was magical. I've had the pleasure of attending the last few high school productions here, and I've been impressed by the dedication of the students and the quality of their performances.

Along those same lines, the Glema is also utilized by a variety of local organizations for band and choral concerts, dance recitals, graduations, presentations, conferences, workshops, and more.

- Education is a priority.
Periodically throughout the school year, daytime shows geared for young audiences are available for school groups to attend. In the past couple of years, these have included a variety of subjects from a bright and cheerful version of Alice in Wonderland to a heart-wrenching rendition of John Henry, and from a modern dance spectacle to Julius Caesar. These events are open to homeschooling families as well, and admission is less than a typical evening performance. I have shared how we utilize the fine arts center in our homeschool before; if you're interested, you can read that here.

Their Summer Arts Academy allows students ages kindergarten through high school--along with their peers--to learn more about many aspects of the stage, from auditions and rehearsals to choreography, costuming, and performance. Their time on campus--two weeks for middle and high school students and one week for elementary school students--culminates with a full stage production that is free and open to the public. The cost of the day camp is affordable, and tuition assistance is available.

- Ticket prices are affordable.
After living in bigger cities like Nashville and Atlanta, I was bowled over when I saw ticket prices for some of the shows at the Glema. Five dollars? Really?! Of course, admission to some performances is more (I think I've seen up to $40 myself), but there are many shows in the $5-$20 range, and discounts are frequently available for children, students, seniors, and groups. Side note: I know I've said it before, but I think tickets to a live performance make a great, clutter-free gift that comes with bonus memories to last a lifetime.

- It's not just for performing arts.
There's an expansive gallery in the front of the building that is open during their regular business hours. There is no permanent collection, but rather a rotating display. Sometimes the artists are local--including an annual student show sponsored by a local civic organization--and sometimes they're not. Admission is free.

Honestly, I could go on and on. I love this place. My family frequents the Glema, and if you're in the area, I encourage you to check out all that this beautiful facility and its wonderful people have to offer. If you're not sure where to start, visit their website--or, better yet, stop by the box office--to learn more about the Fall 2017 lineup!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Podcast: Classics for Kids


Last week, I was introduced to Classics for Kids, a service of Cincinnati Public Radio. A fellow homeschooling mom shared the link with me and said she was using it to teach her kiddos about composers this year. I said I would look it up, and I am sure glad that I did!

One composer is featured each month. There are four 6-minute episodes about that composer, each rich in information and set to samples of his music.

Additionally, the website has a printable worksheet about each composer; multiple ways to look up composers (alphabetically, by country, by period, or on a timeline); several online games such as note naming, rhythm matching, and music composition; lesson plans and resources for more information; and loads more.

This is an engaging--and free--resource if you want to introduce classical music into your home or homeschool. Pip really enjoys it, and I do too!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Homeschooling Second Grade

At long last, I have gathered up the basic materials Pip and I are going to use this year for second grade. For fall, anyway. As always, we'll re-evaluate as we go. There are some online resources we'll utilize, too, but here's the core of our education bookshelf.


- First Steps in Music Theory, Improve Your Theory!, and Improve Your Aural! to accompany music lessons
- Liberty's Kids DVD, The American Revolution for Kids, and Professor Noggin's American Revolution game
- Learning Language Arts Through Literature, The Red Book
- 13 Artists Children Should Know
- Singapore Math Primary Mathematics 1B (to be followed by 2A)
- Science in the Ancient World
- Handbook of Nature Study

Here's a closer look at the Learning Language Arts Through Literature curriculum; it utilizes a handful of its own readers and then an array of other children's books.


In addition to what we do at home, and our once-a-week co-op, Pip will sing in a children's choir, continue music lessons, and stay in gymnastics class. We've also found out that our local 4-H chapter, previously open to 4th-12th graders, is offering a new club for younger students, so we're going to check that out.

Second grade is looking like a lot of fun!

Friday, August 18, 2017

It's About Time

I used to arrive on time for things. Early, even. I knew that if I was cutting it close on time, I would be frazzled, no matter where I was going. I valued my time, and I assumed everyone else did, too. The old adage that "if you're on time, you're late," resonated heavily with me.

Then, I became a mom, and along with my new role I became perpetually late. Whether it was a result of not getting enough sleep, or underestimating how long it would take to get a baby/then toddler/then child ready to get out the door, or seemingly urgent things that occurred right as we were trying to leave the house, it became a daily struggle. 

From the beginning, I had the luxury of working from home, and I have always had the pleasure of educating at home, so it's not like we were rolling into school or jobs late. But story time at the library, play dates, classes, birthday parties, you name it: late, late, late, late, late.

Despite the stress that lateness caused me, I never got that groove back. Even now, almost eight years into my parenthood journey, Pip and I arrive nearly everywhere squealing in sideways, at the last minute. Or two minutes late. Or more. It stresses me out every time. Rushing into her gymnastics class as the students are already starting their warm-up equals stress. Running to the car to head to co-op when I know the announcements are already starting equals stress. Knowing we might miss a game or activity because we didn't get ourselves together in time to be present at the beginning of a party equals stress.


Well, we recently and accidentally arrived at one of our commitments early. It was not lost on me how calm we both were and how much we enjoyed the event. So the next day, I decided we'd shoot for early arrival for another commitment. We made it, and it was great. And so we did it again. And again. Our calm, easy arrivals were setting the tone for our entire experience. And it was wonderfully pleasant.

I don't know why I'm just realizing this now, after so many years, but being early is worth it to me. I am determined to arrive early, going forward, as often as is possible. Not only will that lend itself to calmer days for us now, but I hope it will instill in Pip the same respect for time--hers and other people's--that I felt as a teen and a young adult, and that I'm rediscovering now.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Easy Summer Veggie (and Sausage) Dinner

Fresh zucchini and squash are abundant in our region right now, and I was gifted some of this delicious produce this week. Tossed together with a few items I had in my kitchen already, they made an easy and hearty meal!


First I washed, sliced, and quartered one large zucchini and one large squash and spread them in a glass 9x13 baking dish. I washed and cubed a couple of medium potatoes and added them to the mix. I sliced a precooked kielbasa and scattered it over the top. Then I drizzled the entire dish with olive oil and sprinkled with kosher salt and an Italian herb seasoning mix. I covered with foil and baked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Next time I will wait to add the sausage at the last 15 or 20 minutes, as it plumped up a little more than I would have preferred. But the house smelled great while it was cooking, and it tasted wonderful! We'll enjoy this simple one-dish dinner again.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Supporting a Grieving Friend

Last week, someone very dear to me passed from this earth. The outpouring of love from family, friends, and our community was comforting in the moment, and even more special when I stepped back to recall all the ways that people had stepped in to take care of us.

There are meaningful and powerful things you can do to support your friends and loved ones through a loss. Here are a few that I saw in action in recent days. (I'm going to say "friend" but please exchange that word for "family member," "colleague," or anyone else you may support through the loss of a loved one.)



- Bring drinks.
We live in Kentucky, where it is customary to bring food to the family. It's a wonderfully generous thing to do, because friends and relatives may be coming from near and far, and no one really wants to be preparing meals during that time. But meals--and time spent together--require beverages. Whether that's bottled water, canned drinks, gallons of tea, or something stronger, drinks--and the cups to go with them--can be very useful, especially for a large family.

- Offer child care.
The kids are experiencing a loss, too. But they're still kids and they need to be able to play. Providing a safe place for the children, whether it's in the same house or elsewhere, gives the adults time to make arrangements, or just take a breather during which they're responsible for no one else. Providing an optional child care area during visitation and/or the memorial service also helps the adults, who want to focus on their own time of reflection and who may need to greet the guests coming to share their in their grief and show their support.

- Do the "work."
Whether it's transporting out of towners to and from the airport or cleaning up the kitchen during and after a family meal, these are tasks that must be managed. If you can handle them and free up the family for other things, even if that's just spending time together, it's a gift.

- Be there.
Whether this is in person, as a phone call, with a handwritten card, through a note on social media, or via a text message, let your friend know that you're thinking about them, or praying for them, or honoring the memory of their loved one in some way. If the memorial service is open to the public, and you feel compelled to attend, do. And if not, that's ok, too. But, somehow, let your friend know that you acknowledge their loss. It's there whether you discuss it or not, and a kind word can mean so much.

- Follow up.
The loss in my family is too new, so this one hasn't happened, yet. But I know it's going to be important in the coming weeks and months. After the flurry of activity has calmed, when the out of town friends and family have returned home and the house is quieter than it was before, reach out. Give your friend a call or send them a text to let them know you're thinking about them. Stop by to say hello. Invite your friend to coffee, or a meal, or an event. Don't be upset if they decline your first invitation, or your second. Don't be pushy, but keep asking. Remember that although the service may be behind them, the lack of this person in their life is ever present.

We all experience loss at some point. Holding each other up during such a time is a wonderful way to show our friends how important they are to us.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

One Year Later

Today it's been exactly one year since my first blog post. It was about making the outside of our rental house feel more like home, while spending as little as possible. You can view that full post hereTo mark this occasion, I want to share a few things that I have learned over the past year.

1. Roses of Sharon enjoy morning sunlight. They also seem to prefer being together over being scattered around the yard.

Here's what they looked like last spring, immediately following relocation, and what they look like now after a year together on the east end of our house.





2. Sometimes it's better to let things go.

I had originally attempted to give purpose to a funny little 10'x10' raised bed in the middle of the back yard--that's where the dollar store seed packets were utilized last spring--but when a huge rain washed its somewhat rotten wooden beams out of place, we just razed the entire bed and now Pip has a wide open space in which to play. Because of its placement, that bed always looked weird to me. Although I was hesitant to tear it down at first, I now much prefer that area open.

3. Forsythia are hearty.

Here's a comparison of new growth last year, right after they had been pruned and pulled from another yard, and this year, where they've enjoyed afternoon sun on the west end of our house.They didn't bloom this year, but I'm hopeful for next spring.
























4. I did not inherit my grandfather's green thumb.

With the exception of one knock out rose, nothing else has thrived--or even survived--in our yard. Although there have been times that was a little discouraging--like when I had to dig up three dead holly bushes and a withered lilac--it also has given me permission to further simplify the lawn. I have realized that I'd rather have nothing (besides grass) than have things that look sad or strangely placed.

5. This lawn is a work in progress.

My desire to make the front of the house more welcoming--to up its curb appeal--is not to impress others. It's so that when I come home, it brings me joy. It still doesn't feel as cheerful as I would like; the front of the house is sparse. But there's no rule that it has to be done in a day, or even a year. With a budget of practically zero, I am content to let things unfold as they may.