Monthly Archives: May 2012

Et Tu, Mandolin?

We went to a Folk and Roots music festival Saturday night with some friends. At the festival, Laurel cornered the mandolin player from Big Smith and started grilling him about his instrument. He was gracious enough to let her give it a try.

We knew nothing about this. Laurel is old enough that in that sort of small venue we pretty well let her have the run of the place so she can do what she likes.

The next day the Fiddlers were set to perform at Lewis and Clark Heritage Days in St. Charles. They do this every year, and as part of the performance they get to jam with the Peacocks (they get to do this in December, too, at the Old Courthouse in St. Louis). Well, they too have a mandolin player, who also allowed to let Laurel give it a shot.

Here was the result. Yes, it is true, I didn’t get the video from the beginning because I simply had no idea what was about to happen. This is the first time she ever played with anybody, and how awesome was it that the Peacocks, upon hearing her hit a few notes of Ashokan Farewell, picked it up and started playing with her?

She tells me that mandolin and violin have the same string tuning and fingerings only the mandolin has frets. There are some techniques specific to mandolin that she needs to learn, but she did an awesome job!

More Performances.

The other night before Laurel’s last orchestra concert I took a lot of video of the Fiddler performances. You’ve already seen one. Here are two others.

Turkey in the Straw, with 98 players (give or take a few):

Turkey in the Straw

Amazing Grace / Will the Circle Be  Unbroken. Laurel sings in this one:

Amazing Grace / Will the Circle be Unbroken

Kindergarten: That’s All, Folks.

Yesterday was Ethan’s last day of Kindergarten. He is my last child, and that means it’s the last time I will go through the whirlwind of emotions that is the first day of Kindergarten, the last of the forced naptimes, and the last Kindergarten graduation.

It’s funny, this Kindergarten graduation phenomenon. Laurel went through it and I don’t remember that it was a big deal for her, but Ethan was up early for his.

It was the first time he wore a big-boy tie.

Before Kg Grad2

He refused to do any of the choreography when the kids sang at the program.

waiting for the program to start

He dutifully received his medal for completing Kindergarten and very seriously shook his principal’s hand while receiving his “diploma.”

receiving his graduation medalshaking hands with his principal

Then the real fun began. Pizza and Field Day! Ethan is very physically active (boy howdy, IS he), so he was the class clincher for the runs. The only problem is that he doesn’t usually run in grass, so he was a little freaked out and didn’t do so hot in his first event. However, in the 4×200 he was the last one to run and closed the gap the other kids had left for him LIKE A CHAMP. He’s also very strong, so he was the anchor in the tug of war match and led his class to a 3-1 record for the day. That one loss? His teacher didn’t expect them to win because the anchor on the other end was more or less a Kindergarten linebacker.


100Mhandoff4x200 event - he caught up with the boy in front of himcelebrating a winstrategizingtugowar1tugowar2tugowar3digging deep for Coach N

By the end of the day, I had a sunburn and was hot and had a headache, but I couldn’t have been happier for Ethan. I had a rare glimpse into his life when he is not at home and I was pleased by what I saw. He was having so much fun, he was so comfortable, he has so many friends (including the ladies).


Ethan bellyached all year about how he wanted to go to parent pick-up at dismissal because they got out of class earlier. I told him our taxes pay for the fuel for that bus and so he will RIDE THAT BUS so I don’t have to fire up the truck and use our fuel to come get him. I also pointed out that the parent pick-up kids got home all of 5-10 minutes before he did because I passed them every day walking to the bus stop.

But when the opportunity arose after Field Day for me to take him home 30 minutes before dismissal, he chose instead to stay with his friends and ride home on the bus. I’m not sad. It means he has made some very good friends in Kindergarten.

With Mrs. Niewald and buddies


Quilt #3!

For Anita and James and their son (my nephew), who is scheduled to enter the world in early July:



I have got to find a better way to photograph these quilts.