Thursday, April 30, 2009

Silly Suzuki: Silly Words to Allegretto

Allegretto can be hard to learn because the sections are so similar and share elements. These words reinforce the ABCB form of the song, which is why the "sticks in my hair" part is repeated, and they are meant to be sung by the teacher and the student, with the teacher singing the part in italics.

Can I play Allegretto with beans in my nose?
Would there be any argument, do you suppose?
Can I play Allegretto with sticks in my hair?
Do you think that my teacher would care?

I don't care what you put in your hair or your nose
Just as long as you know where your fourth finger goes!

Can I play Allegretto with sticks in my hair?
Do you think that my teacher would care?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Top Homeschoolers to Follow on Twitter: The Homeschool Twitterati

Why do so many homeschoolers use Twitter? Maybe we are all undersocialized! Here is a guide to The Homeschooling Twitterverse, ruthlessly categorized by me:

Homeschool Dads
@martin_deveau (Scouts, 9 kids)
@darthdilbert (Christian, Nascar, Army)
@williambrockett (Navy, Geocaching, Chess, Tech)
@jimmiekersh (Conservative, Reformed Theologian)
@scotters (Conservative, Techie)
@circlereader (Christian, Human)
@chrisod (Netizen, Techie, Evolved Homeschooler)
@JayRyanAstro (Freelance Patent Agent, Astronomer)
@homeschooldaddy (HS Dad who actually teaches)
@120pagemonster (Screenwriter, Buddhist)
@Homeschooling (Aerospace Engineer)
@dcobranchi (Liberal, Secular, Evolved)
@stranahan (Writer, Artist, Huffington Post)

@txskirt (Christian, TCOT)
@MrsCarrington (Infrequent Tweeter)
@vansadil (Technophile, Geocacher)
@AttachedToSix (Catholic, Organics)
@HomesteadMommy (Homesteading, Sewing)
@RebPasWife (Lutheran, Funny)
@Stubborn_Facts (1776!)
@kathymckinney (Self Proclaimed Rightwing Redneck)
@mcgburson (Christian, Southern)
@infertilitymom (Christian, writer, was homeschooled)

@lostcheerio (This is ME! I am great! Follow me!)
@gillian_s (Organic, Green Living, Knitting)
@unschool (Sweet Tweets)
@summerm (Home-Birthing, Feminism, Breastfeeding)
@nomad_chicken (Tweeting HS travels in Southeast Asia)
@BoondockMa (Homesteading, Green Living)
@VegHeadPez (Buddhist, Karate Mom)
@mrsstranahan (Funny, Irreverent)
@coffeehound (Reader, Tutor, Coffee)
@jlwf (Writer, homeschooling 4 boys, Blogger)
@califmom (Cancer fighter, Adult language, Blogger)

@mrshannigan (Suite 101 Feature Writer)
@bonnyglen (Author Melissa Wiley)
@TammyT (host of Homeschool Writers Chat)
@TravelMaven ( Travel Writer)
@KristyTolley (Travel Writer, Kids Book Author)
@chrisworthy (Freelance Writer, Crafter)
@ClassicaScholar (Amazon Entrepreneur)
@AmandaBinTN (Unit Study Author)
@eeeegads (Twitterphile)

@sawickis (Deals, Freebies, Saving $$)
@chelseajohns (Parenting)
@LacysWife (Lots of links)
@militantmom (Catholic, Writer, Reader, Funny Person)
@ElizbethChannel (Autism, GFCF, Quirky)
@fivejs (Piano Teacher, Reader)
@GratiaeUtDeus (Catholic)
@belleterra (Gardening, Sewing)
@kristi_runwatch (Bible Blogger)
@pianosteve (Podcasting Outside Institutional Religion)
@KarinKath (Cooking, Parenting)
@MamaArcher (Quiverfull)
@MrsStrick (Cheerful Tweets, Knitting)
@jacque_dixon (Quiverfull, Modesty)
@kidzanddogs (Crafting, Michigan)
@farmsteadlady (Gardening, Crafting, Blogging)
@gfcfmomofmany (Gluten Free)
@jaslinn77 (Army spouse, reviews, photos)

Homeschooled Teens:
@super_angel (Power Blogger)
@aponderingheart (Modesty Maven)
@girlygirl007 (Christian Conservative)

Professional Types:
@beverlyschmitt (Preston Speed Publications)
@traciknoppe (Social Media Consultant)
@gemparenting (Parenting Advice)
@WWAHHMpreneur (Business Consultant)
@BathNBeads (Etsy Crafter)
@sophiadare (Etsy Crafter)
@douladeb (Homebirthing)
@spiceoflifedsgn (Etsy Crafter)
@loribourne (Montessori Supplies)
@TeenBizTalk (Business Coaching for Homeschooled Teens)
@VeryVerdant (Etsy Crafter)
@Nodinsnest (Etsy Crafter)
@farmhousemagic (Hand-dyed Silks)
@mrsjberry (Organic Food Depot, Glass Blowing)
@sarahjbray (Web Design, Graphics)
@peggyalvarado (Arbonne Rep)
@lorigouhin (Entrepreneurs at Home)
@marynix (Informed Parent, Elder Care)
@annahawthorne (Artist, Teacher, Writer)
@homeschool (Social Network Designed, Robot Geek)
@katemarais (Curriculum Publisher, Pandia Press)
@momcrafting4fun (Usborne, crafting)
@homeschoolbiz (Homeschool Entrepreneur)

@joannegreco (Adoption, Libertarian)
@sandrafoyt (Blogger, Traveler)
@lapazhome (Unschooling, Florida Keys)
@hahamommy (Family, Outdoors, Liberal)
For an awesome list of unschoolers, go to Tiny Grass.

@principled (Principled Discovery)
@phatmommy (Agnostic, Technophile, Funny)
@color_me_pink (Jewelry, Gadgets, Food)
@sendchocolate (Autism Advocate, Humor)
@campcreek (Project-based HS, Art, Inspiration)
@VeganMamaDotCom (Vegan Cooking)
@sprittibee (Open Source Homeschooling)
@worducopia (Books and Writing Blog)
@nikowa (Knowledge House Academy)
@kim_mcneill (Kim's Play Place, Objectivist, Scientist)
@rationaljenn (Objectivist)
@reflective (Life Nurturing Education)
@mamarati (Gardening, Babies, Food)
@pagesofourlife (Photography, Classical HS)
@thirstyboots (Country, Single Parent HS)
@andrea_r (Eclectic, Canadian,
@hsdistractions (Christian, Young Children)
@lauriebluedorn (Trivium Pursuit, Classical, Christian)
@toomanyhats (Kids in high school, living in Africa)
@amythethompson (Nurse, writer, funny)

Homeschool Resource Sites or Magazines:
@homeschool_mom (Homeschool Rewards)
@homeschoolounge (Homeschool Lounge)
@peahdotcom (Homeschool Curriculum Savings)
@heartofwisdom (Heart of Wisdom)
@mathdaddy (Math Worksheet Wizard)
@julieunplugged (Brave Writer, Cool Blogger)
@HomeSchBoutique (Homeschool Boutique)
@homeschool101 (Successful Homeschooling)
@hsbapost (Homeschool Blog Awards)
@The_HomeScholar (Helping People Homeschool High School)
@Terri_Johnson (Homeschooling ABCs)
@hmhomeschoolers (Very infrequent Tweets from Homemade Homemade Homeschoolers)
@SchoolhseStore (The Old Schoolhouse Store)
@TOSMag (The Old Schoolhouse Magazine)
@Homeschoolsegue (Homeschool Local Networking Site)
@myhomeschoolplan (Homeschool Record-Keeping)
@HomeschoolGuide ( Homeschool Guide)
@homeschoolers (Alpha Omega Publications)
@HOTMonline (Heart of the Matter)
@homeedmag (Home Ed Magazine)
@annzeise (A to Z Home's Cool, Massive Resource)
@homeedforums (Home Ed Forums, Networking)
@unschooledmom (, John Holt)
@ahahomeschool (American Homeschool Association)
@sproutclassroom (Classroom Materials For Sale)

I Do Not Recommend:
@HSArticles (Overuses hashtags promoting her ad-heavy article site.)
@lshiller (Too many self-promoting tweets. He's relentless.)
@homeschoolernow (His site, Magic Learning, has persistent pop-ups.)
@crescentprephs (Purely promotion for this online high school.)

Did you like this post? I slaved over a hot stove all day to make it.

Are you following someone fantastic who wasn't included? You can make this list even better by suggesting yourself or other homeschoolers for me to add!

You can also promote it on your favorite social bookmarking site, at the links below.

Want to Tweet this? Here's a shortened URL for you:

Don't forget to follow me! Me me me! I will follow you back. @lostcheerio

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Silly Suzuki: Silly Words for Go Tell Aunt Rhody

Princess Go Tell Aunt Rhody:

Go tell Aunt Rhody I'm a princess now
Go show her all my shoes and pretty clothes
Tell her I like to play the violin
Tell her I like to play the flute
Go tell Aunt Rhody I'm a princess now
Go show her all my shoes and pretty clothes.

Plant Cell Go Tell Aunt Rhody:

Go tell Aunt Rhody I'm a chloroplast
Go show her all my stacks of thylakoids
Tell her I'm green because of chlorophyll
Tell her I make light into food
Go tell Aunt Rhody how I make the food
Carbon Dioxide, water and the sun.

For those who are keeping score at home: When I'm done posting these, I will make a printer-friendly songbook as a PDF. Until then, you'll just have to cut and paste the words into notebook if you want to print.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Singing Suzuki: Silly Words for Lightly Row

Lightly Row Princess:
Princess says, "Play with me!
At the castle come and see!
We'll ride ponies in the woods
And give them sugar if they're good.
Diamond is my favorite one
Hop on up and have some fun
When we're tired maybe we can
Have some chocolate cake for tea!"

Lightly Row Plant Cell Parts:
Plant cell wall, nucleus
Endoplasmic Reticulum
Vacuoles give shape to cells
And these are all the organelles
Chloroplasts turn light to food
then the mitochondria
Change the food to energy so
Plants can grow up big like me!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Tea Party Would Have Been Awesome! (With the Proper Permit)

Here's one sure sign this is not the revolution: Somewhere near Washington DC there's a truck driving around full of tea bags.

Yes, the plan today was to dump 1,000,000 tea bags into the Potomac River as a protest of -- uh -- the government. Unfortunately, the proper permit for dumping a truckload of Lipton into the Potomac could not be obtained! WHAT? NOT OBTAIN THE PROPER PERMIT!? Well, FINE, then they were going to dump the 1,000,000 tea bags on the ground! ON THE GROUND! In the *park.* NO! THEY DID NOT HAVE A PERMIT FOR DUMPING TEA IN THE PARK EITHER!! Even after the protesters offered to dump the tea tags onto a tarp for easy clean-up, the authorities weren't crazy about the idea. So the hundreds of protesters (HUNDREDS! HIDE YOUR CHILDREN!) packed up their tea bags and went home. Because nothing says "HANG 'EM HIGH!" like a quiet obeisance to the local dumping ordinances.

So much for the event billed as the largest grassroots movement in history. Guess what teabaggers? Fox News got what they wanted out of you -- a big fat ratings day. Show hosts coming at you from across the country! Live music! Parades! Tea! All on Fox! Of course, it was fair and balanced reporting, exactly the same coverage they gave to those silly anti-war protests which a few (hundred thousand) people attended in a couple (thousand) cities around the country (world). If you want a hearty chuckle, watch this montage of the slavering, drooling promotion from Fox News.

I mean, it's a little bit silly. But hey, invoking the Boston Tea Party was always ridiculous. First of all, Americans in Boston were protesting taxation without representation. Remember November 4? We all voted. You lost. Obama has cut taxes on 95% of the population. Even that top tier of income earners, for whom the tax cuts have been repealed, are still paying a lower rate than they did under Reagan. Maybe that's why no one was really *that* mad, not mad enough to break any laws anyway, except for some guy who threw a box onto the White House lawn, effectively shutting down the only protest in Washington that was actually functioning.

For a great example of *really super angry* protesters who are ready to storm the Capitol and take back control of their country, watch this video of a nice lady explaining to a small crowd why they have to comply with Secret Service after the box-on-the-White-House-lawn incident. Listen closely and you'll hear one mob member mutter quietly, "We should just have our tea party right here!" That's right -- a TEA PARTY! In your FACE, Obama!

It was supposed to be the beginning of a revolution! They were mad as hell and they weren't going to take it anymore! Well who doesn't love a little activism? Too bad it all ended up with a lonely man driving around in a truck, no place to dump his two tons of tea.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Six Ways to Stay Scintillating In Person When You've Already Twittered It All

You've been there, haven't you?

You: Listen, I had an incredible idea!
Her: Yeah, I know. I read your tweet about it.

You: I found the most amazing shoes! They were---
Her: Yeah, I saw a picture on your Tumblr.

You: You'll never guess what happened -- he's taking us to Italy!
Her: Yeah, I read your blog.

It's hard to stay scintillating in person, when you're very busy being scintillating online. Don't get me wrong. I know how important it is to document and express all the minutae of my existence on the internet. The many upsides to Twitter and Facebook are too numerous and obvious to mention. However, when I get to the park and the kids are playing and I just want to have girl talk with the other mommies, it's like they've been reading my diary. Whatever it is, they already know, because I've put the picture on Facebook, the link on Twitter, the anguish on my blog, or maybe I've Tumblred the whole conversation. What's a girl to do? Besides yawn and talk about the weather?

So how do you keep yourself relevant in an actual conversation, while simultaneously microblogging your entire life? Here are six ideas:

1. Go lower. There are always things to talk about in person that you can't talk about on Facebook. You know what they are -- utilize them. Yeah, you may need to fall back on gossip, unkind remarks, rumors, and unsubstantiated theories. When all your girls are on Facebook, your regular safe mom topics may be met with a chorus of "Oh yeah, I saw that." Get past it! No small talk -- whatever! The good news is that Facebook and Twitter themselves are sources of a brand new kind of gossip and bitter whispering behind the hand. "I saw her playing Lexulous when she was supposed to be taking the kids to the Planetarium!" "She flaked on our party because she was sick, but then she was tweeting all over the place, drunk as a goat!" Forego the pleasantries and mention the unmentionables. Pleasantries are over. Save them for the status updates.

2. Be more mysterious online. Try tweeting something like, "OMG! HELP!!!" or Facebooking an unexplained picture of a llama. Try "Whee!!! It's finally here!!!!!" or link to a book about stripping your way through college without explanation. The good news is that when you run into your buddies at the grocery store, they're going to be very eager to chat with you. The bad news is, you're going to have to come up with something to tell them.

3. Find new friends. It wasn't always this way for us, remember? Remember the acronym IRL? It meant "in real life." The world of the internet used to be a separate life. You could gambol about saying anything you pleased because only a very few people were listening, and you were unlikely to run into those few at the gym. Even after the advent of blogging, real life friends weren't always up on every bounce and jiggle of life online, and before Twitter and Facebook, news took at least a few hours to disseminate. Now it's immediate. If it happens, they know, and they're all online. Right now. Gathering info. So look: From now on, your current friends are newly categorized as your online friends, and your new friends are out there waiting for you. They don't have laptops, they don't understand their phones, and they think Twitter is a sound birds make. They want to hear all about what your kids did today.

4. Stop Twittering and Facebooking every damn thing in your life. Okay, I'm not saying stop! Because that's crazy, right?! Totally. I would never say that. I'm just saying, a little withholding. A tiny bit, in the interest of keeping it interesting. Withhold like 30%, and see where that gets you. Try not telling us what you're making for dinner. Maybe next week you could extend to privatizing the lunch menu. Just give us details from one child's diaper -- keep the other's excretions a mystery to be revealed only in person. If you find yourself about to spill the big news just before Girls Night Out, and you find yourself about to reduce to 140 characters a story which in person could be stretched out over a whole martini, withhold! You don't have to tell us now. You can tell us in a couple of hours. We promise to listen just as much as the whole internet would have, only with laughter you can hear.

5. Give up on "real life" interactions. Let's face it, the line between "real life" and the internet is gone. Why worry? When you and your friends get together, use the time to check each other's knitting progress, enjoy each other's children, and eat. Talking was overrated. All that hee=hee and yak-yak. Much more efficient to use the internet for that, and use the coffee shop for consuming pastries and smelling each other's shampoo. Zip it. If they want to know what's going on with you, they'll read your blog. You need the traffic. If they want to know how you feel, they'll check the results of your "What flavor of bouillon are you?" quiz on Facebook.

6. Be more, do more, say more. Hey, you're awesome. You can keep up with at least eleven more ways of expressing yourself and still have interesting things to say. If you fit it your entire brain into your Tumblr this afternoon, then think of something else, something new, something more, and put that in there tonight. There's not a finite measure of you, after all; there's plenty to go around. You could Twitter, Facebook, blog, bookmark, and still have something to say at the park, regardless of how dull a day it's been. You read books, don't you? Okay, well, you watch TV -- say something fresh, regardless. You owe it to your friends. They have the patience to listen to you, in all your various modes of blathering. Sharpen up. Rise to the new media. Adapt.

As for me, I need to work on 4. I think I'll start by withholding my thoughts on applesauce, and maybe my plans for 2013. The rest is essential info and I have to get it out there right away. In fact, I need to go Tweet about this blog post right now. See you at the park!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Not Very Suzuki At All: Confession of a Burned Out Violin Mom

The Suzuki method is a triangle: the student, the parent, the teacher. For six years of Suzuki I have been an active part of this triangle with Benny and his teachers. I practice with my child, I play my violin along with him, I sit there alert and engaged at the lessons, I drive to group, I take him to workshops, camps, etc. I have put endless hours into this child's music education.

Two weeks ago, I decided I had had enough.

Picture a horse hitched to a stagecoach. The horse's agenda is to go as fast as possible. Never mind the safety of the passengers, the integrity of the coach itself, the driving conditions, the possible turns in the road. Then there's a driver. Her sole purpose is hauling on the reins. That's all she does, just pull back on the reins, with varying levels of frustration and patience, frustration and patience, yank yank yank. Occasionally the driver brings the horse to a halt, climbs down off the coach, and has a heart to heart talk with the horse. She explains all the logical reasons why this breakneck pace is not healthy or conducive to personal growth. During this conversation, the horse nods its head sagely, meanwhile tapping its hoof distractedly. When the stage driver gets back up on the coach again, the horse takes off at the exact same speed as before. Yank, yank, yank.

Horse = Benny. Stage driver = me.

Benny is in book 5. He is playing the third movement of the Vivaldi concerto in G minor. He cannot play this song, he cannot successfully pass this song, by ripping through it at maximum speed again and again. Repetitions at this speed do nothing to help him execute the song. What he needs to do is to slow down to a speed where he can play it absolutely correctly and in tune, and do a thousand repetitions. A thousand? Really? Yes. Suzuki would say, a thousand, in a slow tempo. This trains your hand and brain to correctly do the physical act of playing the song. Then when you take it up to speed, your reflexes take over. If you play it fast, you do not learn to play it right. You learn to play it messy. This is a tough piece, the toughest so far. It's not one he can just talent his way through.

So I said to his teacher, I can't do this anymore, it's so frustrating, I'm in this adversarial situation with my child, it's bleeding into other parts of our day, and I can't do this with joy, I can't approach practice with happiness, when I know that I'm going to fight with him the whole time.

His teacher, bless her heart, told me to take a break, let him practice on his own. That was two weeks ago. So, Benny has been practicing on his own. He is trying. He really is. He has in his mind what mature, independent practicing sounds like. He calls it "self-responsible." If he makes a mistake, he stops, dramatically fixes it, and then goes on. There's a lot of checking intonation with open strings. However, I know that what he's actually doing is teaching himself to play it wrong, and then fix it. You don't learn to play correctly by playing incorrectly and then fixing it, because then when you get to your lesson or in a performance situation, and you can't fix your mistakes, you're just left with the mistakes. Plus you're training your hand to play the wrong note by doing it over and over, regardless of whether you're fixing it or not! Not very Suzuki.

So, here we are. Lesson is tomorrow. He's not being very Suzuki and neither am I. I honestly don't know what the solution is. We can use a metronome, but that involves me standing there enforcing the metronome, measure by measure. Me as enforcer is the dynamic I'm trying to get away from. On the one hand, I want him to learn to practice on his own! When I was nine, I was doing it. On the other hand, I think maybe he isn't capable of practicing on his own yet, and what I'm doing by "taking a break" is just making things worse and being selfish.

I am overthinking it. I am complicating matters. But I just can't get my head around it -- I need help! And may I just say that it doesn't help that Sadie is so easy to practice. Oh yes, the Sadie/teacher/me triangle is fully functional. And maybe that's part of the problem too!

More Suzuki posts: Suzuki violin.