Monthly Archives: April 2007

Group of Four paints

With a name like “Group of Four” we had to do some painting sooner or later.


I had been thinking how nice it would be to have someone else come in and teach our group. All four of the mothers have had something extra in their lives over the last few weeks and I just thought we could all do without the preparation of another lesson. Well, as often is the case, God knew what I hoped without me ever voicing it. One of the grandmothers of our group was visiting her grandsons and kindly agreed to give the whole group a lesson.


First she covered colour mixing, then did a demonstration with acrylic paint in order that the children could all do their own simple landscape. Before we finished she gave the older ones some pointers in sketching. It was an excellent lesson which everyone enjoyed. At the top is the landscape by B6, in the middle is A10’s and below is L12’s.


Further comparisons

Last week at Group of four we continued to make comparisons between our country and those of our sponsor children. This time we focused on food and water.img_2415crop1.jpg Normally we end our time together with a snack, so the children were a little surprised, but totally willing, to have a snack at the beginning. We sat them all at the table and proceeded to bring out a plate of food for each child and a glass of water. They were not at all slow in realising they were part of an illustration but it was still entertaining to listen to them deal with the inequity of the situation. img_2414crop.jpg Some of those who received less than others immediately started asking for more. They tried asking the adults but found that we would  not involve ourselves so started pleading with those who had more than they did. Hands reached out towards the stacked plates accompanied by cries of,”Sponsor me”. The two boys with very full plates did start giving some of their riches away as did some children who did not have so much. Some stealing went on too. When we retired from the table to discuss the experience they were quick to realise that “rich” is a relative term but slower to accept that they did not “need” a fair share.

While we looked at the availability of clean water in our sponsor children’s countries the children took turns lifting a bucket filled with ten litres of water. Everyone found it heavy but some of the smaller children found that they could only hold it up for a minute or so. As I gave the children some of the reasons that access to clean water is an issue in Nepal, Mexico, Honduras and Bolivia, one of the girls marked off squares on a grid. Each square represented a litre of water. We were all amazed as we saw the quantities of water we use daily for showers, washing machines, flushing, etc. Canadians have the second highest water consumption in the world. By the time we had finished making the comparisons the group had carried the ten litres of water for 35 minutes. Children their size often carry twice as much for twice as long, two or three times a day!

Today’s performances

L12 played both her pieces beautifully this morning. She was obviously less nervous than Monday and put her heart and soul into Adoration, filling the church with music. She was very happy with her performance and her teacher and I agreed it was her personal best for the piece. The adjudicator made some very positive comments and a few pointers for further improvement, which I’m sure she will heed as she is performing it again in a couple of weeks at a fundraising concert. She received a great mark and the silver place certificate.

Also less nervous A10 played the Seitz Concerto better than I’ve ever heard her play it. She has worked very hard to be ready for today as her first rehearsal with the accompanist showed her that she was not yet prepared. She was thrilled to see her hard work result in a great performance, the adjudicator’s praise and the gold place certificate. This means she continues on to compete in a trophy class at the end of the week.

From Europe to Asia

While we had travellers with us B6 did not continue his own travels around the world but now he is back on track. Since I last wrote about his trip he has left The Netherlands, made pizza in Italy, rafted and solved riddles in Uzbekistan and climbed mountains in Nepal. I was able to find a short dvd about Nepal which featured the local animals and their habitats. There were many books about climbing Mount Everest and the two I chose complimented each other nicely as one was about a couple of pigs who climbed and the other:Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest by Steve Jenkins gave us many details about what an attempt at the summit involves.

Yesterday B6 received a letter in Chinese characters which he gathered meant that he should proceed to China next. I assured him that he should do just that, having no idea myself what the characters said (I found them in a brochure advertising paper). Once in China we read Children in China:an artist’s journey, and 8000 stones;a Chinese folktale. He has been very creative in filling out his travel journal; he draws, we have National Geographics that he cuts up and he adds flags and a sentence or two about what he has seen or done. Today he decided that he would like to add a little cat to some of the pages. The cat pops up here and there to ask the reader questions like, “Do you like skating?” or “Do you like pizza?”

On a completely different note

I am a Neil Young fan, have been for years. So is our friend Joe (but not his wife or my daughters! ). The other night Joe mentioned how good Neil’s new cd sounds and the next day when I returned home from a long day of lessons, rehearsals and ferrying young girls around, my sweet husband had placed an “encouragement gift” on the table for me.

Neil Young: Live at Massey Hall

Thank you.

Still practising

Monday’s performances went very well with helpful comments and praise from the adjudicator as well as certificates for each girl. After they’d finished their violin teacher told them how pleased she was with their performances and then said,”Ten hours of practice tomorrow!”

They knew she was joking, but they both put in two practices today to further prepare for tomorrow. L12 is playing a concert group made up of Rustic Dance by Jean Coulthard and Adoration by Felix Borowski. A10 will play Concerto #1 in D Major, Op.7 (1st movement) by Seitz. I noticed on Monday that it wasn’t just me who was nervous they both had “butterflies” and it showed in different ways for each of them.

What we did

Our friends have left now to look at a bit more of Canada. We loved having them and managed to squeeze in quite a few things while they were here, but didn’t have much time to report on our activities.

What we did:
Two Museums: We spent half a day at the Museum of Nature, where we were able to see the Canadian birds, mammals and the dinosaur sections. A whole day was necessary at the Museum of Civilization, where we walked through the impressive Canada Hall and then split up, our guests choosing to look at the First People’s Hall while we visited the “Unique” exhibit celebrating 30 years of Canadian crafts and then the Children’s museum.

Parliament Hill: Our friends returned to Parliament Hill without us and did the tour and then strolled down Sparks Street Mall.

Byward Market: where we enjoyed a great meal and had our names written on grains of rice.

NAC Theatre: where we listened to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with violinist Leila Josefowicz

Rehearsals: The girls didn’t miss any rehearsals or lessons, but A came along and met our teacher and listened to the girls prepare for the Kiwanis festival.

Swim: We convinced A that a swim would be very good for the knot in her shoulder and she found it was and so swam again and again. The question is will she keep it up without us to encourage force her?

Ate: Chocolate chip cookie dough icecream was the culinary hit of their trip, I believe, although Andrew’s boned and stuffed chicken and his Gorgonzola cream pasta sauce were very stiff competition. On their final night we consumed a decent amount of delicious Vietnamese food.

Celebrated: A had her birthday with us and we were able to rustle up the requested Maple leaf shaped cake complete with candles, also Happy Birthday posters, presents and balloons with her name on them.

Played: Many games of One to a Hundred!

Talked: late and long.

What we didn’t do:
housework, grammar, spelling, convince them to stay longer.

By the way, when I took them to catch their train on Friday morning they were told they couldn’t catch it as there were Mohawk protesters blocking the line hear Kingston. They went by coach instead.

Time to listen

Over the next five days I will be sitting listening to my girls perform in the Kiwanis Music Festival. They have been preparing for months, so I have actually listened to their pieces many times over already. The difference is that this week I must remember to breathe when they perform, I think I get more nervous than they do. Tomorrow L12 plays Tarantella by Drdla and A10 Broken Baroque by Ricky Hyslop.

Last weekend I read with interest and amazement the story about world renowned violinist, Joshua Bell. The Washington Post article gives a full account of his performance outside the Metro in Washington DC. He played for 43 minutes during rush hour and only seven people stopped to listen. Often there was just a rush of people going past, some throwing a quarter his way. This man who plays to full houses, where people pay $100 a seat, made less than $35.

Clarification please

I have mentioned that my dear friend A is visiting at the moment. Her mother is also joining us for a few days before they set off to tour around a little. B6 wasn’t quite sure where A’s mother fitted into the picture. Here’s how the conversation went:

B6: What’s she to me?
L12: She’s June.
B6: What’s a June?
L12: That’s her name.
B6: I mean, am I her nephew or something?
L12: No, she’s just one of our friends, we aren’t related to her.
B6: But aren’t Mummy and A sisters?
L12: No, that’s just a myth.

Actually a myth A and I have perpetuated over the years,img_0532.jpg the most recent time being at church last Sunday. Someone just assumed we were sisters and we didn’t correct them … at first. Never for a moment, however, did I set out to deceive my own son.

I couldn’t ask for a better sister though.