Archives for May 2010

Renoir, Reggae and Recess

When I was in fifth or sixth grade, we had the opportunity to join the school band – the opportunity to select and instrument and start learning one. I remember shopping with my father and ultimately selecting a flute (Y’all are going to laugh, but I picked it because it was the lightest one to carry). Though I never really got very good at playing the flute, I was in band for years – through my junior year of high school. In addition to band, I stayed pretty involved with our school choir program.

I’m the daughter of a musician and music is something that brings me great joy. It is something that makes me tremendously happy. It it something I love.

It’s also pretty important for our kids.

Music education has benefits to the brain’s cognitive development – and kids who are involved in music programs quite often get better scores in English and math than kids without music education programs. Studies have also shown that music education can improve how the brain processes the spoken word, and musically trained kids score better on memory tests. (Source: Save the Music).

And art? We’re talking advantages to honing those fine motor skills, imagination, sense of time and place, focusing, uniqueness. Shall I go on?  (Source)

But reading is crucial.

Math is crucial.

Sciences are crucial.

So, when the education requirements change and the budgets are cut – it doesn’t surprise me when recesses are cut short and funds for arts are reduced. I’m not surprised – because I understand the so-called academic areas are necessary foundations for all that will follow in school and in the “real world” and the arts are seen as “optional”.

And yet. Yet it saddens me to think that many children aren’t getting a chance to sing, fingerpaint, experiment with different instruments, create something out of papier-mache, learn to read music, try to do a plie – maybe find out that he or she has true TALENT in the arts, and get the opportunity to excel and to shine in one of these areas.

At my guitar lesson the other day, my teacher and I were talking about it. She’s got a degree in elementary ed, of course with a focus on music — and she said to me, “There’s cuts being made and it makes me sad!” The scenario she described showed music and art being reduced in favor of filling that time with more PE class. Given the nation’s obesity epidemic, I don’t necessarily think keeping kids more active is a bad thing… but…

What happens now? What do we do when schools keep making cuts?

For my second grader, physical education takes place twice a week, art and music each happen once. But the budget for 2010-2011 looks pretty dismal. Will they cut those “specials”? Where are they going to make their cuts? And if those programs lose funding, how can they succeed?

I’m torn. I’m very torn.

I hope we never see the day when music and art is removed from schools – I’ve already said, in a half joking manner, “If they take the arts out of school I guess I’ll have to start exploring private schools.” Certainly I’d like to avoid that route — I mean, I don’t have an extra bundle of money earmarked for a private school tuition, and yet, I cannot imagine my children receiving an education without any fun built in, without any opportunity to explore the creative side of their mind, without the chance to see if maybe playing an instrument or coloring with charcoals is something in which they excel – something that could bring them joy.

Had I been raised by accountants, I might have very different feelings about this matter. Then again, maybe not. I find myself watching the budget talks very closely, hoping that these valuable programs hold their place in my daughters’ schedules.

Life Is Just Better When There’s Cheesecake.

Heath Bar Cheesecake. OH YEAH.

I think it’s safe to say that most of you who have stumbled around this blog before know that I am less-than-skilled in the whole “preparing meals” department. There are some things I cook really well (seriously, I make some pulled pork tacos that actually make me look forward to the next several days – because it’s so good I’ll even eat leftovers!), but for the most part I don’t find much joy in the cooking process.

Baking, on the other hand…

I’m pretty good at baking.

For our family mother’s day gathering yesterday, my cousin sent an email requesting our presence with a note: Hey Sarah, could you bring dessert? *wink wink*


I brought this Heath Bar Cheesecake, and the recipe can be found here. It’s totally fabulous – and this is the second time I’ve made it and the family DEVOURED it. And that made me tremendously happy. Cheesecake is definitely best if you let your cream cheese sit out to soften before mixing. I used neufchatel instead of full-fat cream cheese, and couldn’t discern a difference – though with cheesecake, really? Go big or go home.


Weekly Winners, Week Ending 05.08.10

Happy Mother’s Day! This week I was thrilled to finally get my 50mm lens – of course, only one or two of these shots is using the 50, but I can’t wait to start playing with it more and seeing what it can do and getting a better feel for it. Be sure to stop by to see Lotus and the other Weekly Winner participants.

No, this isn't my yard. It's a whole lotta dandelions. Somehow, they are prettier when they belong to someone else.


happiness is...

Lining up to wait for their death. IN MAH BELLEH.

Hideous, isn't it? This is the color the girls picked to paint their bathroom. I will never be in love with it.

Thursday Ten: Elderly Woman Behind a blah blah blah Edition

1. I love Pearl Jam. Actually, let me amend that. I love the older Pearl Jam stuff. The whole “Ten” album? LOVE. IT. And I love a lot of Vs. From there, I kind of loosened my grip on my PJ love. But in guitar today, I started learning “Elderly Woman Behind a Counter in A Small Town.” Um. I think that’s what it’s called. You know which one I mean, right?

2. I’ve been meaning to mention this for awhile. Look over to the right. You see those awesome buttons – shaped like iPhones? That’s the work of Linda. Awesome, right? I love ’em, and she’s like the queen of buttons.

3. New music this week? Mishi (SecretAgentMama for those who aren’t fully aware of her awesomeness) posted Sleeperstar’s “Texas Rain” this week and it’s been in my head ever since. Awesome song. Also, Eminem has a new song. I know – it’s a weird eccentric mix of music on my iPod… but I kinda like it that way.

4. The Princess came down with a one-day bug on Tuesday. Tuesday night, as she threw up in her bed at 11 p.m., I knew for sure I’d be keeping her home yesterday (even though she woke up feeling fine). She’s fine now and back at school, but it’s hard when our kiddos are sick. And boy, I can handle a lot but puke? Ugh. (And I’ve washed that comforter three times and all I’ve gotta say is this: If your kiddo has a chocolate cupcake, you better hope he or she doesn’t get sick that day… because that may NEVER come out).

5. You are probably aware of the devastation that has occurred from the flooding in Nashville. I’m glad that my friends who live there are safe and were spared some of the worst of the damage, but… there’s still a lot of work to be done there. If you’re inclined to help, be sure to check out the Nashville Red Cross.

6. These hockey playoffs are killing me. Seriously RedWings… get it together.

7. My 50 mm lens arrived in the mail today. I won’t let myself open the box until I wrap up everything on my to-do list. You wouldn’t believe how fast I’m typing right now.

8. May is shaping up to be a very BUSY month. All this year-end stuff for school is making my calendar look a little bloated. Is it just me? Today was a kindergarten visit, tomorrow is “Special Person’s Day”.

9. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Frappuccino Happy Hour – starts tomorrow at Starbucks. (I swear they don’t pay me to promote them. I just do.).

10. I have Project Runway withdrawal and American Idol is boring. So, I’ve been reading a lot. This month’s book club selection (“Half the Sky”) is better than I’d anticipated, but it’s a pretty rough read – and so I have to read in small doses. I am trying to split my time between a few different books, and consequently, I’m not finishing any of them. Sigh. Are you reading anything good these days?

And Here We Go.

I may have a problem. Granted, I fully anticipated having a problem when I purchased my dSLR. I knew that there were going to be all kinds of doors opened to me (lenses, and filters and accessories OH MY) that once I caught a glimpse of the possibilities, I was going to start wishing for a money tree. Or a fairy godmother.

There’s a lot of really awesome stuff out there, and while some of which makes no sense for someone like me – one who is just learning or getting her “sea legs” with this camera – I can’t help but be wide-eyed and just goo-goo over it all.

Last night, I finally FINALLY ordered my 50mm*. I should have done it weeks ago. All my smart friends told me so (you know who you are). Saturday at my grandparents’ anniversary party, my friend and I stood next to each other and lined up our shots – hers, taken with a 50mm, were clear and crisp. Mine with the kit lens? Meh. They were just a’ight for me, dawg.

But I dragged my feet on that purchase for weeks, and that’s a fairly cheap lens.

There are times when I wish I had fallen in love with a cheaper hobby… like… collecting leaves or making sculptures out of belly button lint… but then? Then I think of how much I love to be behind a camera. The exhilarating feel of capturing a moment, the perfect moment, to treasure forever. The sound of a shutter click.

And then I think, I wouldn’t love any other hobby this much.

Guess I should start looking for a money tree.

*Amazon affiliate link, in lieu of a money tree

Weekly Winners, week ending may 1

Another week of Weekly Winners – of course, I know y’all are going over to visit the lovely LOTUS and her Weekly Winners as well as hopping around to the other participants. Right? Right.

Remember when I said I'm kind of addicted to greek yogurt and honey? Oh yeah.

Bubble season!

Awesome bubble wand cost a buck at Target. Whoohoo!

Fly away bubbles

Anniversary party for my grandparents...