Some Things Don’t Change


This is Meri two years ago, playing the half-size Violin as if it were a Cello. (Note the glove and flowered dress)IMG_7230

This is Meri at the beginning of the summer, when the boys started up lessons with Lia. She picked up the violin and immediately played it the same way- as if it were a cello. The only difference is, she swapped hands and gave up the glove. 😉  She also seems much more serious.

We will have to find her a tiny instrument for Christmas, or her next birthday!

Busy moving rooms around, Shelley



The Beginning of the End

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So, while Portland Public schools are having their last day assemblies, and awards are being given, we are packing*. The end of the school calendar year is here, but we are not finished with our books. This winter and spring has been a string of breaks, interruptions, trips, and life changes that have pushed back our classwork into the summer. I am not worried about it at all, because honestly, it’s good to have things to do during the summer, and I think I am moving more towards a year round school model anyway.


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The big goals will be completing math, language arts, science, and history. Elvis is nearly done with math, finished with science {so he has taken on a few extra books, you know, just for fun}, and since I didn’t like his language arts book at all this year, I am just starting over next year. History we will all do together in July and August, since it is just reading. I imagine us on a blanket, out in our big backyard, with snacks and sketchbooks, reading about the civil war. I’ll let you know if that actually happens.

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Vegas has about half his math still to do, {debate took away like his whole school year}, and we cut his language arts book in half, so he’s done with that, other than quizzes and tests. He is also only one chapter away from finishing his science book.

All in all, I think we are in good shape to finish up by the end of August, take a couple of weeks off to travel, and then hit the books all over again in September.

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The boys both had testing done this year, anticipating the required testing that happens next year at the end of 3rd and 8th grade. I thought it would be a good idea to see where they were at now. They both scored well, Elvis did better than I thought he would, given that it was his first testing experience, ever. They were both happy with how it went, which was great! I don’t care too much for standardized testing, but it is a good skill to have, and good to follow the system that is in place, the same system that gives us so much freedom to learn how we see fit.


Vegas and Elvis also had their end of the year PYP {Portland Youth Philharmonic} recitals. Elvis was the youngest in his class, and much of the material was beyond him, but I am so proud of the way he stuck with it. At the performance, there were times that he got lost, but he listened to the other percussionists, and jumped back in, playing his parts very well, and maintaining a great stage presence. Elvis is also taking private drum lessons, and he moved on to the second book of exercises, and is working on some new hi-hat skills. It has been a joy to see him go from where he was at the beginning of the year, not knowing anything, to now. He is definitely a drummer. He had the chance to play some street bucket drums, and we realized that a bucket drum set is a necessity! It uses different rhythms, and skills. But, it’s pretty cool! Elvis has wanted to perform on the street for a while, so this was a big deal for him.


Vegas did an amazing job at his recital too- he has grown leaps and bounds as a musician this year, and I think double bass suits him! We love hearing him practice. He was also the best dressed at the recital, by far. He will take a few private lessons over the summer, and then next year he plans to attend Floyd Light Middle school for orchestra, with his cousin Lia, so he will have the experience of playing in a big group. While I am a little nervous about it, I am very excited too.


*This month we are moving, so packing is in full swing. Everything is getting boxed up, and nobody can find anything. Hopefully by this time in July, we will be all settled in our new old house, {we are moving back across town to our first Portland house, a little 50’s ranch}, unpacking and setting up our new schoolroom.


Next week the kids take a week of swim lessons, to determine which class they should be in, and then hopefully we can get them all into regular lessons. Later in the summer, Vegas and Elvis will start fencing. Vegas has fenced before, and loves it, but it will be the first time for Elvis. Fencing is one of the Harmon Academy’s official sports. Archery and swimming are the others…so far. I would like to add horseback riding, but that can be a little expensive.

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Elvis is also attending summer camp for the first time ever this year, as well as a week-long day camp with Oregon Children’s Theater, learning the basics of stage acting. As I am writing this, I am realizing how incredibly packed the summer is, and we haven’t even thought about getting together with anyone, or getting out-of-town! Not to mention, I need to plan the next school year!


I will keep you posted on our late work progress, camps, and lessons as they happen.


Finishing up another Nature Exchange,



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Elvis sincerely wants to join an orchestra, or symphony, or start a band, or do anything that involves a group of people playing music together. Today, at his PYP percussion class, he was able to spend time on the Timpani after everyone else left. He loved it. {Meanwhile, America was wildly getting into anything available…can you see the look on her face?}

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After we got home, the boys spent time playing drums together, and Elvis gave lessons to both Axel and America.

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Elvis has also been teaching himself piano, and working ahead on his Violin, even though we don’t have teachers for those things right now. He is determined! It is so fun to see him working hard and improving so quickly!

Corralling Ninjas, Shelley

*Watch This!