I have been a substitute band teacher for the last week and half.
I actually have a degree in music education, but after 4 1/2 years of teaching band, God gave me four boys to raise. Fast forward 11 years–my youngest went to pre-k, and I began helping out with the middle school band where we live.
My youngest is now in 2nd grade, which means I have been helping for five years, so I know a lot of the band kids. Covid prevented me from helping out this school year. But the last school year, the band director had to be out of work for the 1st 2 weeks of the year, so I got to start those 6th-graders on their instruments. It was lots of fun, especially because my son was in that class, along with several of his friends that I already knew.
This month the band director had to be out for 8 consecutive days, which ended today. Those same 6th-graders I started last school year are now 7th-graders and most have grown a foot taller. It was great to see them and hear how much they have progressed.
I have also really enjoyed learning the names and getting to know the current 6th-graders. Oh to be in beginning band again. It is such an exciting time to begin learning something completely new. With excitement also comes some frustration, though. Am I playing the correct note? Am I at the right place in the music? Does this sound like it is supposed to sound? Why will my instrument not play?
There is nothing like being excited about playing in band, or playing a new piece, or playing your favorite piece and then realizing there is something wrong with your instrument. If the instrument is not in working order, you are basically stuck just sitting there the entire class period, not able to participate at all.
As a teacher, it is also one of the most frustrating things to try to teach a student how to play when the instrument is not in working order. Do I stop teaching a class of 30 or more children to take 5-10 minutes to work on fixing the instrument so the rest of the class period is more productive for that one child while the rest talk and sometimes get rowdy or do I just have him/her put his/her instrument up until I get a chance to look at it and go back to teaching the rest of the class?
I have chosen both scenarios on numerous occasions. Neither is good. In both cases, I was neglecting someone. So sometimes fixing an instrument gets put off until the next time when one of the above scenarios takes place again and it is put off yet another time.
Today, however, I made sure to look at a student’s instrument during my planning period. Yesterday, he sat in the class and could not participate because I chose the “help the rest of the class” scenario. Today, though, I sat alone in the band room during planning, listening to and singing my favorite Ben Rector song, Note to Self
while I diligently re-strung the strings on the horn in the above picture. It took at least half of my planning period. I have re-strung horn valves before, but it had been a while. I would string it and then have to redo it, time after time.
It was fixed.
The horn that would not work yesterday was now a playable instrument that would allow a child to participate for the whole period. He could now play the theme to Star Wars with the entire class; make music with others; be a part of a group; play one note in a chord made up of many notes–playing inside the sound surrounding him.
There is nothing else like playing an instrument in a group. And all it took was to take a few minutes out of my day to do something about it.
Create 6eauty by taking the time to fix something!
With the encouragement of my husband, I went out and got some new pastels yesterday. The pastels I had were nice, but I had very limited colors. I had no red and only very light greens. So, I went to our local craft store and purchased several sets of pastels, a large clipboard, paper, and some blenders. Today, I practiced a lot! I drew a picture of a tulip, now that I had bright red. I am happy with the result….
After completing the tulip drawing, I wanted to attempt some skin tones. I have watched an artist use pastels for portraits before, and since I am pretty comfortable with pencil portraits, I thought, why not. I looked through some photos of family members, but all seemed just too difficult for me to try. So, I looked at photos I had taken of myself. I found one. I decided to draw a self portrait. I have not done a self portrait in pencil yet. And with realist pencil portraits I use a photo with a graph and also a graph on my drawing paper to make sure everything lines up correctly. Today, I got out of my comfort zone and not only drew a portrait in color with pastels, but also without using graphs. It doesn’t look exactly like me, but it is pretty close. I am very proud of how it turned out.
Sometimes to create 6eauty you just have to step out of your comfort zone and just go all in. Take the risk to try something new.
Hello! It has been a while since my last post because I hurt my back. It is so difficult to create 6eauty in your home when it hurts to move. Thankfully, I am on the mend. It just took a little time.
We are on spring break this week so I have more time to do things that I like to do. So, today, I did a little pastel drawing en plein air! Pencil drawing from a photo is my most comfortable medium, so today I wanted to challenge myself and get a little more comfortable with using color and my eyes alone. I still have a lot to learn about pastels, but I am pleased with how this turned out.
I have been listening to a podcast called Art Curious . It, along with some other things I have looked up lately, have inspired me to create art to document my life. So many times we take pictures of special events, but not of the normal everyday things. So, I have begun a pencil drawing series, which I will be sure to post about once I have the next work ready. I also have decided to draw things that I see on a regular basis. Take for instance, the picture above. This is of my front yard. During the time when we were at home last year and could not really go anywhere because of covid, my oldest son made a swing for me and hung it on a tree next to our driveway. I have taken so many sunset pictures from that swing. Beautiful, colorful, amazing pictures like this one…
Today I thought I would create a pastel drawing of the area around and including that special swing. It was such a thoughtful thing for my son to do for me, I want to remember what it looks like in the early spring when the trees have their new growth and the grass is coming out of dormancy.
So, make sure to create 6eauty to document things you encounter and experience every day! No one else can do that! Only you!
Today was a rainy day, therefore, my boys’ sports practices were cancelled, which always makes for a nice surprise and a free evening. I had already planned on having spaghetti, which is my go-to dinner if I don’t feel like cooking anything fancy. Most of the boys like it and it is very easy to make. But since I had extra time this evening, I made some homemade French bread that my boys call “Minecraft” bread, because it looks just like the bread that Steve eats in the video game, Minecraft. It really is so simple to make, as long as I have the few ingredients needed and a good chunk of time. The boys, and especially my husband, loved this bread. I did too. I could literally eat an entire loaf straight out of the oven. So, so good! It made our plain spaghetti dinner into a feast. At least it felt that way. Our family of 6 ate almost an entire loaf. AND we have another loaf to make toast or heat up with a slice of butter for a snack! Yum! I know that 6eauty in a house full of boys really does look like good food most of the time.
As I was cleaning up the kitchen tonight, I got to thinking about how each stage of creating this bread can be compared to things we go through in life. Here is my recipe for the bread of life….
Assemble the Ingredients
Before I can make this yummy bread, I need to have the ingredients available and a good recipe to follow. The ingredients are pretty basic, so as long as I evaluate what I have in my pantry ahead of time and make sure I go to the grocery store regularly, it is easy to have these items on hand. I don’t just wing it when making bread. The recipe is very important. With life, if we take inventory of what we need, make good decisions, plan for the future, follow God, and have a good attitude, we set ourselves up for success. But that is only the beginning.
Combine the Ingredients
Once we have assembled all the ingredients, we prepare the yeast with some sugar and warm water and let it bubble and get a little frothy. When we mix just the right ingredients, something magical happens. It helps to form that yummy goodness inside the loaf of bread—the perfect texture when you bite into it. When we surround ourselves with godly people who support us and we have the right mix of mentors, friends, family, teachers, church leaders, significant others, the real magic happens and it is extraordinary. I recently found a song called Extraordinary Magic. Listen here: https://youtu.be/YEjvMOWxQg8
Mix it up and add some flour
After all the ingredients, besides half of the flour, are added to the mixer, we mix it using a dough hook. Now, this can get pretty messy. The dough hook pushes and pulls the dough until the ingredients all form a ball. With only half of the flour, though, the dough is so sticky that it sticks to everything it touches: the bowl, the hook, the spoon, our hands/fingers, everything! As we go through life, we have to figure out how things work. We get pushed and pulled in so many directions, and it can get messy at times and get us into some sticky situations. But we still have some learning to do, some flour to add. And little by little, a half a cup at a time, we add the remaining flour to the dough. And when we add a little bit at a time, we find we have just the right texture of dough when all the flour has been added. When we go through life (our experiences, advice we get from others, decisions we have made, places God has led us to) each of these mold us into who we are, and give us the wisdom to carry us through to the next stage of life.
Mix some and wait some
Once all the flour is added, we mix it until it is smooth and not sticky to the touch. Then…. we let it rest for 10 minutes. We wait. Mix it a bit more, and wait… mix it again…. wait, until we have mixed it 4 times with resting in between. This allows the dough to rise and grow a bit between mixing times. We can all think of those periods of our lives when we were pushed and pulled in many directions and, after looking back on them, found we had grown in some way. After challenging moments in our lives, we need to rest and reflect on how God has brought us through them, wait for His timing with what He has planned next for us, and learn to rely more on Him in the future. When we do that, we are better prepared for the next tough time that comes around when we feel we are grabbed by the hook of circumstances and pounded against the side of life, feeling bruised and defeated. Maybe we have lost a loved one or we have to make difficult choices with what seems like only horrible outcomes. When we reflect and wait and realize we have come out on the other side of other difficulties in life, we can benefit from the time between trials so much more. Each of these struggles prepares us for what happens next….
Cut the dough in two.
The dough now can be cut into two halves. We don’t have just one dough ball anymore. There are two. It has multiplied. We have children and all the experiences we have had and all the decisions we have made, affect our children in one way or another. They will either benefit from them or be harmed by them. It depends on how well we stick to the recipe or if we use the best ingredients or not. Raise up a child in the way he should go and he will not turn from it.
Roll out the dough
We take each ball and roll it out into a rectangle and then take the long side and roll it into a cylinder. Place the rolled dough, seam side down onto a baking sheet topped with parchment paper. Cover loosely with a towel and let it rise for 30 minutes. Our lives start out as a well formed ball and over time can be flattened out into a completely different shape than we could ever imagine. When we have followed the recipe, the rolling out is a more pleasant experience than the dough worked by the hook. We have become flexible, moldable, teachable, and can be shaped by our Father to be what shape He wants us to be. We are taken into His hands and he molds us with purpose and the knowledge of what we will become. We don’t fight it as much as we did when we were in the mixer of life, before He brought us through those difficult times. And He places us on the pan with our ugliness tucked in and unseen. We have gone from pieces to a whole. Sticky to soft.
Cut slits in the top
We cut two slits at the top of each loaf and let it rest for 30 minutes. We make ourselves vulnerable by showing others what’s inside-what we are made of. We do this by being still. Listening. Waiting. Being there for the people we love and for the people who just need someone to lean on.
Brush with egg wash
Brush the tops of the loaves with an egg and a splash of water. This helps form a nice crusty outer layer to the bread. When we are slathered in God’s love, we are able to stand firm for all we have learned, stand up for the things we believe and not be conformed to the patterns of this world. This outer layer of protection, love, allows us to combat the insults, criticism, and the harshness of the world we live in.
Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes
Lastly, we place the loaves in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. We love to turn the oven light on and watch as the lumps of dough turn into glorious loaves of bread. The oven is where God places us in circumstances to show his mightiness and to show how he can transform us from just a few raw ingredients into the 6eauty that we become. He forms us into who He wants us to be, because He is the bread of life.
When we take the bread out of the oven, it can be enjoyed by all those who are present and even packed up and shared with those who aren’t. That warm goodness topped with a slice of butter. Mmmmm. Life is good. Enjoy it. Savor it. Share it. And most certainly, don’t waste it!
Some time last fall, my husband and I went and got a pickup truck load of dirt and unloaded it on the edge of our yard outside our bedroom window. Since we moved here 11 years ago, I have wanted to put tons of flowers on that side of the house, so when we look out our windows we would see beautiful, colorful flowers in the spring. Well, last year, with having so much time because of covid, I finally put some bulbs out . We unloaded the dirt, each of us with a shovel, one shovel full at a time. When we finished, I got the box of tulip bulbs I bought at Lowe’s, and planted the entire box. We then covered the bulbs. It basically looked exactly the same as before. Just maybe less grass/weeds on top. It looked like fresh dirt.
Fast forward to several months and a whole season from then and we see that the days are getting longer and we are having warm days more often. Spring is just around the corner and has kissed this hibernating 6eauty. The tulips are awakened and stretch for the sun. In a few weeks, these flowers will be a brilliant red and I will finally see flowers out of my bedroom window.
Sometimes, we must create 6eauty that will not be seen for a while. Such 6eautiful things like planning a vacation or saving for college, making grocery lists for yummy meals, teaching manners, and so many more things. Sometimes all our effort is at the beginning of something and others may not get the enjoyment of it until much later. It does not mean that it is not 6eautiful, it just means we have to wait. And waiting can be difficult. But waiting is very necessary to obtain those things that are hibernating. It makes for such a special time when the 6eauty finally arrives.
Today, like most Wednesdays, at 12:30, I FaceTimed the daughter of the person I hung out with the most in high school. We were pretty inseparable, my friend and I. We played in the band together. We would go to each other’s houses. We would ride around together in our cars, listening to Harry Connick Jr., the Cranberries, and the Sleepless in Seattle soundtrack. Such good times. How I would like to go back and just peer into a day or two of our lives back then. My friend and I sat in the front row across from each other in band class. She played clarinet and I played (and still play) the flute. We were in lots of concerts together during those 4 years of high school. I look back fondly on that time of my life. After high school, I went on to study music in college and became a band director. So when my friend asked if I would teach her daughter to play the clarinet, I jumped at the opportunity. Her daughter is a virtual student in school this year so I give lessons virtually over FaceTime. It isn’t the same as an in-person lesson, of course, but because she doesn’t get to attend band class, it is better than nothing. It is important to me to pass on my love of music to the next generation. It is one of my passions. I just love to work with her on a challenging part of music and see her face when she plays it correctly. Pure joy for both of us. We usually end the lesson by playing a duet. The part of band that she really misses out on with being a virtual student is playing with a bunch of unique individuals and coming together to create 6eauty as one piece of music with an emotion and life of its own, never again to be played in the exact same way. There is nothing else like it. So she may not get to play with a room full of people, but it is important to be able to play with another human being, even if it is just a duet. I am so happy I get to pass down the love of music, not only to my own children, but to the child of a friend who I have known for close to 30 years.
The image above is a piece I drew last year for my husband to put in his woodworking shop. We decided, however, that hanging it in the shop was not the best place, because it would get covered in sawdust. So, today, I chose to hang it up in our laundry room. Now, every time I do laundry (which is pretty much all of the time since there are 6 of us), and I see this drawing, it is almost as if I am visiting Grandmom and Granddad again.
Who were Grandmom and Granddad you ask? I am delighted to tell you a little about them……
My husband’s grandparents were two of the sweetest people ever to live on this earth. They were such kind human beings. They were as much like my grandparents to me as my own. They lived in the same house for close to 60 years, and I knew them 19 of those years! When our boys were young, I would take them to Grandmom and Granddad’s house. We so enjoyed visiting them in their space. The boys looked forward to the day we planned to go each week. They gathered in their living room and played with toys that were still there from when my husband was little. In the summer, we went out back and picked blueberries off of their humongous blueberry bushes. Granddad occasionally took the boys for rides on his tractor. The boys climbed his huge fig tree and had the best time. Granddad tried to stay active by walking a trail he made around their house. He was a very frugal man, having grown up in the Depression. He kept things instead of throwing them out, because he might use them again one day. To keep up with how many laps he or Grandmom walked around the trail, he strung up a few old-fashioned clothes pins on a wire between two posts. As they walked, they moved a clothespin from one side of the wire to the other. It was a pretty clever and utilitarian contraption. It was so Granddad.
We lost Grandmom and Grandad within a month of each other in 2014. After their passing, we went to their house and took some photos to capture the places/things we wanted to remember. The kind of places/things that by just seeing them makes you smile. Their trail contraption to count laps is one of those things.
So, this simple piece of artwork I drew with a pencil may just look like old clothespins to you. But to me, my husband, and our boys, it transports us back in time to the visits with two very special people at a very special time of our lives.
As a mom of 4 quickly growing boys, I create beauty in different ways. What I may find beautiful, my boys may not, and vice versa. Today was “make a week’s worth of waffles” day. Every week, I make around 50 waffles (6 batches) so that I can keep them in the freezer so all I have to do in the mornings is heat them up in the toaster oven. It is so much cheaper than buying Eggo waffles and the boys get a bigger breakfast so they are not as hungry at school. They enjoy the waffles I make with Bisquick. Nothing fancy, but I do add some cinnamon to add a little personal touch. But, they REALLY enjoy eating the waffles on the day I make them. My oldest boys are virtual students on Mondays until after Spring Break, so they were able to eat waffles straight off the waffle iron today. It makes me feel good that I can provide a form of beauty to them that way. Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, forms, colors, and tastes!
I have been working on this pet portrait of Jerome for a friend of mine.
This is an example of the kind of drawing I usually do. I have done several portraits of people’s pets. I have also drawn a pencil portrait of my husband’s grandfather. I enjoy drawing for the purpose of drawing and to see if I can make the drawing look like the picture. I usually do these portraits as gifts. It is very enjoyable to see the person’s face when I give him/her a portrait of a beloved pet or family member. However, occasionally people ask me to draw one and expect to pay me for it. I have no idea how much to charge for an 11×14 original drawing. I would love to know your opinions. What do you think?
I began today with feeding the kids breakfast and taking them to school as usual. I do two drop-offs due to the boys having 2 different start times at 4 different schools. I got home, got dressed and decided to start my day at home by Creating 6eauty first with myself. I didn’t just put leggings on today. I actually put together a cute outfit and put some makeup on for the first time in a very long time. While getting ready, I had an idea of drawing our dog. I really wanted to be able to draw her using a continuous pen mark. I had the Jason Mraz album cover in mind when I had the idea. I thought it would look cute if I could do it. So, I got my Strathmore Drawing Pad and my Pigma Micron ink pen and told myself that I would take 30 minutes to try to create a drawing of Pepper. Well, the continuous line drawing didn’t work out too well, but since I had my pad and pen out, I tried again. This time, I decided to tryout a little freehand drawing. I normally create with pencil, so I found this to be a challenge for me. But all in all, I am happy with the result. It is not my typical style of drawing. I usually prefer photo realism which I can do pretty well with pencil. It was good for me to be able to try something new!
I have had this hand towel sitting on my nightstand since the summer of 2020. Today I created 6eauty by finishing it…. finally!! The thing is, it only took me about 10 minutes to finish. I don’t know why I put it off for so long. Now, it is no longer on my nightstand and we can enjoy drying our hands on the pretty hand towel.