Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sum Sum Summertime...

What are your favorite things to do in the summertime? We love to be outside, spending time with family, water activities, and everything free! We have a public park in Springfield called Jordan Valley Park. It is a beautiful park with fountains and waterfalls, trees and concrete benches. It is so much fun, and so very relaxing. It's been one of our favorite day excursions for nearly 10 years with the kiddos.

It isn't easy to find something that can keep a large group of kids from ages 2 to 16 happy for an afternoon. But Jordan Valley works every time. Do you have a favorite go-to spot for summer fun?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Happy Birthday, Bright Eyes!

This beautiful, brown-eyed princess is turning twelve today. Time just doesn't want to stop, and this mama is trying to remember to find the joy in the journey. I love all the stages of my kids' growing and coming into their own...but I can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that they are not babies anymore. This precious baby that cried for 20 hours a day for the first five months of her life...

became a spunky, vivacious, dramatic princess in the blink of an eye. She loved dress up, singing at the top of her lungs for all to hear.

When I put it that way, I guess not much has changed - except maybe the fact that she actually performs on stages now!

She is a amazing sister - she is truly my right hand most days. Always helpful, most of the time patient and loving! She adores her siblings, and has fared well as the only girl for many years...

but oh, the joy she found in getting a baby sister this year! 

She is so full of life, on and off the stage. She has grown so much in her faith this year, and I couldn't be more thrilled. I am so wanting to slow down this clock...twelve years have simply flown!! How in the world is she nearly a teenager?!? But I wouldn't change a thing. I love the girl she is, and the young woman she is becoming. She is a whirlwind...she leaves me gasping for air from exhaustion on many days! But she is a breath of fresh air every day. I wish I had her optimism, her ability to look at everything with excitement and wonder. I pray she NEVER loses that. She is changing, all the time. I would never have thought my blonde haired princess would go punk...yet another stage we will see through! 

Happy Birthday, Coco - Mama loves you to the moon...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

A TOS Review: Jazz Edge

So we've had a drummer in the house for a few years now. When Connor was 10, it's all he could talk about. He begged me for months and months, so for Christmas that year, we relented. We bought him a great electric drum set that he could bang on to his heart's content. We had a few different guys in mind to give Connor lessons, but unfortunately, they all fell through. We found a self-teaching DVD program and got it for him, but he was very overwhelmed by it. We started looking at private lessons through a couple music studios in Springfield, but didn't feel like taking out a second mortgage for our child to learn an instrument. We put him in a homeschool band/orchestra program, but they only taught snare - and that was after at least a year on bells! Needless to say, we were very frustrated and had pretty much given up. That beautiful, not cheap, drumset sat in his room with only the occasional inexperienced playing occurring. Then, to my excitement, the Review Crew was offered a chance to review JazzEdge's online drum lessons. DrumsWithWillie seemed like an answer to a long-ago prayer!

JazzEdge  Review

JazzEdge creator Willie Myette is a Berkeley College graduate who has used his expertise to form clear, concise, and fun lessons for those interested in the piano or drums. The drum instructor Mike Marble teaches to all levels, and the lessons are all streamed right from your computer. It's almost as good as having him right by your side - in ways, it's even better because you can take him anywhere with you on any mobile device! He takes pupils through the basics in the first level, and he moves them through his six step learning cycle that teaches them to mastery. He lays a great foundation with his tested musical standards, all while making it engaging and exciting. His six step cycle is as follows:

  1. Technique
  2. Rhythm
  3. Ear Training
  4. Reading Music
  5. Song
  6. Improvisation

Being that he's never had any formal instruction, I had Connor start with the Core Drums lessons. It took him through a lot of basic instruction regarding the six step cycle. Then he moved on to the Level 1 lessons. He is now through those and working through Level 2 lessons. One good thing I have seen about it is that the computer doesn't block you out once you complete a lesson. I know Connor has gone back to work on something to make sure that he is doing it correctly. It's a great thing to have that availability before moving on to something more difficult, or just a quick refresher when you need it.

Here are all the things Connor has to say about DrumsWithWillie.

"It is really cool! It's a great tool because not only is someone instructing you on HOW to play the drums, you get to watch Mike actually do the thing he is teaching on that day. For visual learners like me, it is so good because I can back the video up and watch him again and again until I get it.

He tells you how to READ drum music. It's so different than regular sheet music.. Every piece on your drum set has its own line of music. When you can read drum music, you can learn more about rhythms. I have learned that keeping the rhythm is really important. He taught me how to listen to how I am playing and to stop to get back on track to keep the rhythm. 

I never knew how important it was to know how to hold your drumsticks properly. Different sizes of drumsticks make a difference in how you play. I don't have the right size right now, so I am doing the best I can. 

My favorite part is learning grooves. I have learned at least 4 different grooves so far. Different types of songs use different grooves. They are a lot of fun to play, and it really is encouraging to me to hear something I play sound really good."

DrumsWithWillie has been so good for Connor. As I said earlier, it is something that he has been interested in for a long time. But when he didn't have any success, he had given up. I have seen this program give Connor confidence in learning the drums, and I am happy to see him excited about it again.

You can connect with JazzEdge through the following Social Media outlets:

JazzEdge also has other programs for those interested in learning piano. You can read more about what my fellow reviewers thought about all the products here:

JazzEdge Review

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