Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ways to Impress Your Guests

I am apologizing in advance. Before I get to "ways to impress your guests", I need to do some really obnoxious bragging. I mean shameless bragging. This type of behavior is mostly unimpressive to guests - and I know that. But I can't help myself. If you'd prefer not to read it, now would be the time to to hit the little red "x" at the upper right hand corner of your screen. But then you'll miss out on the entertaining etiquette at the end....your choice.

So....let's get on with it! Ellie totally blew us away at the Summer Music Institute Recital!! OMG. She spent the week working very intensely in both solo and chamber. She studied with Dr. Keeling of UTSA on her Ginastera piece. We went to the recital expecting to hear the same song we'd heard before. Wrong. First of all, just when she walked out - that was a little shock. Of course, we hadn't seen her in a week :(. But she walked out with so much confidence and such a beautiful smile on her face. She sat down and literally banged that piece out. It is a VERY hard piece. She had made several changes and was playing it totally differently than she had before. Thomas came out next. He was the grand finale. This particular child is unbelievable. Literally. He is one of the best young pianists in the nation and in fact, he is going to appear on "From the Top" - the NPR Radio show. He played one of the hardest pieces ever written for piano - at the ripe old age of 15. The audience applauded so long he had to come back out on stage and take an encore bow. When it was over, Ellie came running up to me saying, "Mommy! I was the sub-finale! I came right before Thomas!" She was really proud.

Before the second recital could start, some work had to be done on the grand piano. Someone had broken a string. Now this is not a desirable thing to do, but it is considered somewhat of a macho thing to do. Nobody tries to break strings but when it happens it is kind of an "awww gee...sorry....i am just so powerful....." sort of thing. Everyone assumed Thomas had broken the string but he says he didn't do it and he thought Ellie had done it. So that was the icing on the cake for her.

She was the sub-finale on that night (and quite proud to fill that spot) but Dr. Keeling told us we were in for a treat for the chamber recital the next day - as Ellie's trio was the finale. When the kids walked out on stage, a violinist, a cellist, and Ellie - I heard someone behind us say, "Oh! There is that girl again!" They sat down and knocked out a 22-page Mendelssohn with a lot of piano runs...they sounded so fantastic and just blew everyone away. I actually started crying! This was Ellie's first time to play in a chamber group and she loved it. She made a lot of friends and can't wait to go back next year.

OK - DONE ON THE BRAGGING. Glad to have her home. We missed her. This is a picture of her with the three teachers she worked with: Dr. Brad Beckman, Dr. Kassandra Keeling, and Dr. Carolyn True. She loved all three of them.

After the recital we rushed to the Homeschool Roundup, where I gave a workshop on Unschooling. A couple of years ago when I was giving a workshop - we were disturbed by a knock on the door. I just ignored it, figuring it was someone coming in late or something. The knocking continued and the room monitor got up and answered it. I tried to ignore it and kept on talking. Then I heard an, "Excuse me..." and I looked toward the door where Joel and Jules were poking their heads through.

"What do you want?" I asked, while wondering where Jeff was.

"We're thirsty," they answered.
It would have been funny if I had been talking about how independent kids who are attachment parented become....Joel and Jules often have perfect comedic timing. But I was actually talking about how to teach sensitive topics like the Holocaust to teens. I had done so much research with the National Holocaust Museum and online educational organizations....I did more preparation for that talk than for any other talk I've ever given - and then it was very poorly attended. People just don't want to hear about that stuff. It was at the time when Ellie and I were first becoming active in the movement to save Darfur, and it was very disappointing to see such a lack of interest. But on a more positive note - that year we handed out postcards and information about the genocide in Darfur and nobody had even heard of it. Last year when we did it - almost EVERYBODY had heard of it. So that is truly a good thing. And it is all because of grassroots activism to bring attention to the crisis. Now the grassroots efforts are aimed at action.

Now onto entertaining etiquette. Last night we had some friends over for dinner. One of the guests found a rather large snake and was quite alarmed. Jeff knew it wasn't a viper and he picked it up. It bit him and he started bleeding, of course. ( We only provide first-rate entertainment to guests who come for dinner. Snake bites are one of our more popular requests). It turns out it was a rat snake, harmless but aggressive. Well, harmless in that it won't kill you if it bites you. Joel wanted to hold it for awhile before letting it go, and he held it in such a way as so he wouldn't get bit like his dad. Our guest, Roberto, was concerned it was an escaped pet snake, and that if we let it go it would end up eating one of our cows, someday. I will be sure and let you know if that happens. I told him I was more concerned about the alligator that was living in our pond. Roberto probably would have appreciated my mentioning that before he had visited the pond.
Let's see...what else happened while our guests were here? Oh yes! The boys decided to eat grasshoppers. They casually mentioned it during dinner. They had been curious and ate just a few. They say the brown ones taste like pecans and the little green ones taste like unripened mulberries (two other items they regularly pick up off the ground and eat). Joel said the legs get stuck in your teeth. Luckily, our guests are familiar with regions of the world where people eat toasted crickets, so they didn't consider this behavior too alarming. I felt sorry for the boys. They ate bugs for nothing.

Our chicks are getting big! Jeff and Joel built a larger brooder for them last night and they are happily running and pecking around their new digs.

SSSSSSSSardine Mama


  1. Awww. Your post had me tearing up. I can feel (is that possible?) the pride emanating from your post! Congratulations to Ellie! Is it time to get her nose pierced yet?

  2. At first I thought you were talking about my pride over the boys and their bug-eating...ellie has decided against the nose piercing (for now) and wants to have her upper ear (cartiledge) pierce, instead. Again with the pride!

  3. Well I was going to try to be humorous about snake bites and bug eating, but I didn't have it in me.

    Please be sure she still goes to a professional piercer. Those places in the mall are just not sanitary!

  4. Hi all. How are you?