Wednesday, 30 September 2015


Sitting here at the end of one of my favourite months, sick as a dog, exhausted, stressed, and realizing (for the millionth time) that I am far from perfect. It has been quite a month. 

How I felt for most of September. Thank you to my 2 year old for demonstrating this emotion so flawlessly.

- We started the month with a bout of stomach flu that had my children on rotating vomit schedules.
- First day of school for my 5 year old Love. When you have a special needs child, every hurdle you face feels like a kick in the stomach. 4 meetings and 3 weeks of school behind us and we have still not really figured out the right placement for my smart boy who does not fit into any typical 5 year old program. 
- I joined the PTA, and I have yet to decide if this was a good or a bad decision.
- I started teaching, which went great! I love my studio this year! I have the best job ever.
- We had visitors! Cousins from Alberta and Grandma Ellen from Alberta. We love when people visit us. It is so fun for the kids.
- Apple picking, birthday parties, playdates, speech therapy, swimming lessons, teaching, marking, school, socializing... trying to find balance with our new schedule (and failing thus far). 
- I made 5 apple pies from scratch and realized that I am suited for modern conveniences. 
-The lunar eclipse/blood moon/super moon was very cool. I enjoyed walking around the neighbourhood and seeing everyone outside staring at the sky, it was surreal.
- We are ending the month with a terrible flu/cold, I am not sure which. I don't remember the last time I was this sick. 

So my head is fuzzy, I accomplished about half of what I wanted to, and I am looking to October as the month that I get everything together. Ha ha ha ha! Or I find more situations that give me clues of my imperfection...

Perfect seems like it would be terribly boring anyway (I wouldn't know).

Most of these are photos are from Instagram, because that is all I have energy for these days. If you want to see more, check me out at danofish on Instagram.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

My Biggest Decorating Challenge- House Tour Part 6

Welcome to the basement world of my oldest son. I am pretty sure he thinks the entire bottom floor of our house is his private living quarters. He has his own bathroom, a guest room, laundry facilities, storage, and a music studio. Lucky man. Quite the set up for a 5 year old!

When we found out that we were expecting twins, we knew that we would have to move our (at the time) new 3 year old into the basement. It broke my heart to think of my baby being so far away (mothers are very dramatic), but it was necessary, and has ended up being the best arrangement for everyone. We decided to decorate the basement room to my son's adorable tastes and move him down months and months before the twins were due to arrive, so that he would not feel "kicked out" of his upstairs room. Husband painted the walls bright white (they were mint green with blue trim when we moved in, which felt like too much against the orange carpet). Side note, if you are looking into moving, and the basement has obviously original to the house 1960s carpet, this tells you that the house has not flooded- always good to know! My son's adorable tastes include, bright colours (red is his favourite, go figure, he didn't inherit my red aversion), animals, letters, numbers, dinosaurs, and Sesame Street. As you can see, we just went with all of it. Why not?

There are a few reasons that I say this room is my biggest decorating challenge. The first being that my oldest son is curious, more curious than anyone I have ever met. He is also at times an insomniac (he gets this from his father). As well, he is completely fearless. Because of this combination of interesting traits, this room is always in flux. Only recently, has my hilarious boy earned back the privilege of furniture and lights. I know this sounds crazy, but Mr. K had no light in his room for almost 2 years. He would rip them down, tear them apart and not be able to put them back together. He once took apart a reading lamp piece by piece, he even stripped the wires. I very much look forward to the day that Mr. K can put things back together again. I realize that taking things apart is a sign of intelligence, so I suppose I should be grateful. After trying many different light ideas, we had given up and were using whatever light spilled in from the music studio, until a few months ago. Sad times. 

As for furniture, it was for climbing. Pictures on the wall were for ripping down. The fun padded headboard I created was for taking apart. So, for safety, this room housed only a bed, toys, and low to the ground items. Recently, Mr. K has earned back his shelving unit, a lamp, and a fun Ikea mirror. He has grown up considerably since starting kindergarten and losing his first tooth!

Name painting from Hawaii, which was a gift from a thoughtful Auntie who gets to travel a lot more than we do! Dragon/dinosaur tails made by my creative mother and her lovely friends (the kids love wearing these). Big ball, also a gift, from our favourite people in New Brunswick. The theme here is that we basically don't buy anything, people just give us stuff. This is what happens when you have babies. Really! You never have to shop again, and all the stuff you own starts to give you stress and you become a minimalist. Or maybe this is just my experience...

 Notice that most of the wall decoration is stencilled or painted on. Safest way to decorate with children!!

Cosiest bed. We went right for a double bed when Mr. K outgrew his crib, because it is what we had, and because our son is a giant. Gorgeous afghan made by my talented sister, Jessica. Headboard painted right on the wall. 

Mr. K's cutie toot stuff. Everything in these shelves are things he has chosen to be in his room. Shelves were Kijiji, chair was a Value Village purchase, mirror is (supposedly) unbreakable and is from Ikea. The quilt hanging over the chair was made by my mother when she found out that her first grandchild was on the way. My mother lost use of her left hand due to a stoke, so this was made with one hand. MY MOM MADE MY SON A QUILT USING ONLY ONE HAND. Just take a moment and let that sink in. Amazing. 

Currently reading a couple of pages a night. My dreams are coming true! I cannot wait to read my children all the classic literature. And Harry Potter.

Mr. K's best friends. I encourage this. Sesame Street makes us happy.

The most loved toy I have ever seen. A gift from my dearest friend, Marni.

Really though. Have you read The Velveteen Rabbit? This Elmo doll is "real."

Sesame Street and a scary dinosaur. That's my boy.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Back to School, Back to Music Lessons

I love everything about the fall. The colours, the drop in temperature, heading back to school and routine, anything that tastes like pumpkin, and getting back into music lessons!

I have maintained a studio of voice, piano, and theory students for 17 years (over half my life)! In that time I have learned a lot about what makes a successful music year.

1. Find the fun. Making music is one of the most fun and fulfilling things you will ever do! Find songs that you love, or find something fun in songs that you don't love. Change your practice routine often, play/sing/compose just for the enjoyment!

2. Be grateful. What a gift it is to have the privilege of music study! I find that it is easier for my adult students to be truly appreciative of learning music. Some of them studied when they were young and regret quitting before they were able to play or sing at a high enough level to continue as an adult. Some always wanted to learn an instrument but were unable due to financial constraints. Be grateful that you are able to study music now, and get more out of you lessons!

3. Be brave. Try new things. Listen to your teacher, and when they assign something challenging, go for it! Make mistakes, this is part of learning.

4. Share your accomplishments. Students who perform experience accelerated growth. I witness this time and time again. If your teacher has provided master classes or recitals for you, participate! It is so good for you, you will be terrified, but you will not regret it! Read about why a Private Music Studio Recital is the best experience ever, here. You can also perform on a smaller scale, anytime you like. Play or sing a piece that you are working for your mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, friend... you can even do this over the phone or Skype (grandparents loooooooove this).

5. Listen to music. If you are working on a piece by Mozart, research and listen to other music that Mozart has written. Listen to other interpretations and performances of the piece you are practicing. YouTube is a wonderful resource for music study! Listen to new composers often, challenge yourself by listening to different genres. This will enrich your music study and your life!

Dear Present Students,

I am so excited to get back to our Tuesday evening music lessons. The studio is full and we are going to have a great time! Remember that lessons do not start this week, but I will see you on September 15. Best of luck with heading back to school!

I also did a makeover of our studio space. Take a look here for more pictures, or wait until next week and be surprised.


Sunday, 6 September 2015

thank you

Thank you to everyone who helped make the 2014-2015 year of study in my music studio such a success! I enjoyed each and every one of my students and rejoice in all your accomplishments! We had 2 excellent recitals, as well students who worked extra hard to participate in Royal Conservatory Piano Exams!

This summer will be a quiet one for the music studio, as I have only one summer student preparing for a harmony exam. Studying harmony and composition is a lovely way to spend your summer. It really is!

Presently, my fall studio is full except for one spot. I am looking for a voice, piano, or theory student that is available for lessons on Tuesday evenings at 7:30 pm. All ages and abilities are welcome! Lessons are 30 minutes and take place in my home studio. Please email me for details.

For all my returning students, have a wonderful summer! I will see you in September.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

What Cancer Taught Me

Four years ago, my best friend’s son died peacefully in his father’s arms, and we were all forever changed. He was 12 years old. The last words that this sweet hilarious boy said to me were, “I love you.” I was loading my car with my one year old son, my husband, and a trunk full of suitcases to embark on a journey to a new province. It was hard to leave our friends behind. These friends had become more than buddies to us. They were our family. We love them. Harder still that we knew this would be the last time we would see our young friend. One month later, he was gone. 

Although I will never understand the profound loss that this brave boy’s parents experienced (and continue to experience), this affected me more than anything else that has happened to me thus far in my life. It has left me scared, anxious, and determined. I am a more scared and anxious person because I know that this can happen. Children can get sick. Children can die. My precious boys could be taken from me. When my boys feel a pain that I cannot explain or are more tired than usual, my mind thinks of cancer, my heart beats faster, and I am scared. This is a passing feeling, but it is there. It is so deep in my understanding that I don’t think it will ever go away. That’s okay though. Facing mortality has also made me determined. My life has become more purposeful. Growing old is a gift, having children is a gift, being in love is a gift, living in this beautiful world is a gift, and any difficulties we encounter are worth it. I like to say that I have been on a journey of turning my pessimist heart into an optimist. 

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. It is a difficult thing to think about, but it is important that people’s stories are remembered. My wish is that we someday find a cure. For now, we can raise money, we can share our experiences, we can support each other. Most people will be affected by cancer at some point in their lives. Let us not be defeated. I will never forget my young friend, and I will be forever grateful for his gifts to me and anyone who knew him. 

I love you Malachi.

I wrote this piece to be part of "Stories of Those Affected by Cancer" exhibit hosted by the Fredericton Region Museum. If you are in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, right now, 
a) you are one of the luckiest people in the world
b) go see this exhibit
c) submit your story at Stories of Those Affected by Cancer
d) while you are at the exhibit, say, "hi" to Morgan Dugdale for me- she is a super awesome person