Ever since Maddy started to learn piano, I had realized that music is one of the gift God has given to her. She gets the theories (albeit sometimes it takes a long time), and she plays the music like music. Her sight reading is one of the best amongst her age. It just comes naturally to her.
However, I was still worried when her piano teacher suggested that we enrolled her into the National Music Certification Exam. After all, it is not a required activity in her music “career”. I did it anyway thinking that worst comes worst we just don’t go.
I can’t say that I was totally comfortable with her preparation. She didn’t start practicing the three required pieces until the test was less than four weeks away (although two of them were old songs done a while back). We started the ear training late. I told Maddy that she did not have to play the pieces by memory (although she somewhat memorized them) since I rather her play the pieces well than play broken pieces by memory.
Apparently the judge just left the music books by the side table. According to the girl “I didn’t want to upset him so I just played my songs”. “How about the clap back and play back part?” I asked her (she had the clap back part down but iffy on the play back part). “oh, it was easy”. “and the sight reading?” “what?” “the new music the judge asked you to play?” “oh, it was easy too” She was out less than 10 minutes if that.
We got her result two days ago: “First Class Honor with Distinction”. To be honest, I don’t really know exactly what that means, but it sounds like she got a high mark. I am grateful that she finds confidence in music (something I can definitely help her with), and I hope that she never loses the joy in having music in her life!!
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Maddy had her piano recital this past Sat. It is such a delight to watch her. She’s been practicing the piece for a little over a month, and about a week and a half ago, she had the song memorized by heart. I knew she would be ok since that day: that her performance can go auto-pilot even if she gets nervous on stage.
Our usually shy and introverted child went up the stage poised and calm, totally out of her usual characters. She beamed with confidence and moved on with ease even after she hit the few mistakes. I had butterflies in my stomach from the beginning of the recital to the end of her performance (which is a long time because she was the 4th last performer)
During bedtime routine-
Maddy: mommy, what are you going to make tomorrow for breakfast?
me: hmm.. what would you like me to make?
Maddy: Well, maybe I can make breakfast since you’re not feeling well.
me: Oh that is so sweet of you. What are you going to make?
Maddy: How about pop tarts, strawberries, and milk, and you don’t have to make breakfast.
A few Mondays back:
me: Maddy, how come you didn’t eat your lunch I packed you?
Maddy: I bought lunch from school.
Maddy: I really wanted the pizza.
me: That is not ok. If I pack you lunch, you need to eat the packed lunch. It’s not ok to waste food or waste money like that.
Ever since that talk, EVERY SINGLE MONDAY while I’m in her class helping:
Maddy: hi mommy. I am really really hungry today and I ate my lunch during snack time.
me: Is that right? And you are still hungry for lunch?
It is utterly hilarious watching her today. As other kids at the snack table take out their little bags of fruit/crackers, the girl broke out her bento box filled with pasta, ribs, and garlic bread.
I highly doubt that she was ‘hungry’ during lunch time, but I suppose I can’t fault her for breaking any rules I set. Things she does to get that small piece of darn cheese pizza!
The big girl has been struggling with reading since the beginning of kindergarten. She knows all the phonics and can sound out everything, but has trouble putting the sounds together. Language is not her strongest strength, but I didn’t want to push her other than our daily reading practices. It still stresses out the internal “Chinese” part of me whenever I volunteer in her class and see that other kiddos sound out words like “children”, “subtraction” with ease.
Something finally clicked for her around Christmas timeframe. We went through two or three stories of Bob Books set 1 each night, and she was able to read most of them. Although the words are short and the sentences repeatitive, I was delighted that things are clicking for her finally.
Last night all the Chen girls gathered on Livy’s new big girl bed for bed time stories. Just when I was ready to take the “When You Give a Pig a Pancake” book she had picked out, the girl proceeded to read the story all on her own. Honestly I was taken by surprise, totally floored by her initiation and the confidence in her tone (probably also because she was reading to Livy).
And just like that, she read through the whole story. I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishment!
A few days earlier:
Maddy: How come Santa doesn’t come to visit us?
me: huh? [pretended I didn’t hear her.. think think think]
Maddy: How come Santa doesn’t come and visit us?
me: [oh, you might just as well know the facts] You know that Santa is not real. Just like all the prinesses and stuff. They’re all just dressed up. We shouldn’t be expecting gifts on Jesus’ Birthday anyway.
Maddy: How does Santa know to skip our house?
Maddy: How does Santa know that we don’t celebrate Xmas?
me: Of course we celebrate Xmas. We thank God for sending Jesus into the world. People give each other gifts to show that they care and think about one another. Just like you do extra chores to get money for your bumble bee class so the class can by a bee hive for a family who needs it.
Maddy: [sigh.. a little disappointed] ok.
One day… hopefully one day, you’ll realize and rejoice that the only gift you really need on Christmas is already given to you.
Maddy’s kindergarten class put up a Project Celebration for the parents today because tomorrow is last day of this track session. They made slide shows about the field trip to a local farm and the apple tree observations (there is an apple tree on campus). It was totally high tech, with voices of each kids along with their pictures on the side when they told the stories. They took us around the classroom and hallway and showed us the projects/works done. During the break time, the parents were served apple pies and lemonade, both made by them during the center time yesterday and today. At the end, they also sang a few songs for us.
Here is some artworks/projects done by Maddy being displayed in class.
The kindergarten classes had their special Thanksgiving Rotations on Monday and Tuesday. They got to go to 5 other kindergarten classes during the two days (there are 7 classes total but 1 is tracked out). In each room, they first listened to a 5 mins lesson by the teacher, then they got to do a craft the specific classroom is responsible for.
Herding 23 kids from room to room (and project to project) is not a easy task; however, it was obvious that these teachers have done it many times. On Monday, the kids learned about the very first Thanksgiving (how/why we celebrate), Native American symbols, and watched a introductory video on Thanksgiving. They made a pasta necklace (also learned pattern, and science experiment/lesson on how to dye pastas with berries) just because Mrs B can make any simple thing into amazing learning activities for the kids; a placemat (again had to create repetitive patterns and practice writing); and made a tambourine (decorated with the native american symbols). The whole morning flew by with a blink of an eye, and I was tickled to see how the kids were engaged and focused the whole time.
I wasn’t there on Tuesday. Maddy came home with the whole ensemble, singing and dancing the whole night. Life as a kindergartener is not shabby at all!
School was out yesterday. Since I was still a bit under the weather, I decided to take the day off and just hang out with Maddy. We did have a very productive day though. I showed her how to make a to-do-list and we pretty much checked off everything.
She made the check box for ‘Relax’ much bigger and with multiple slots. After doing our first chore “clean up the playroom”, we both had realized that we would need many ‘relaxing’ moments. Here is the list of Maddy’s to-do-list
1. We can go to the library
2. Help mommy to find books
3. Practice piano
4. Do theory homework
5. Help mommy walk Brownie
6. Help mommy pick Livy (she meant pick Livy up from school)
8. Go to Grand Asia (I needed to get sushi supplies for dinner)
9. Clean the playroom
10. play tic tac toe
12. Play in the backyard
13. cut the flower (I wanted to clean up the landscape a bit)
14. book (she meant read books)
The big girl is learning some pretty complicated music theories, well, for a 5 year old anyway. All that converting 8th notes to quarter notes to finish off the beats in the measure as well as the latest concept on transposition. I am so nervous for her since she is still slow on carry over additions. To my surprise, she is getting them. It takes her what seems like forever to think of the answers, but she gets them somehow, with that little five year old brain. I’m so proud of her, and would totally like to take full credit for passing on MY genes to her.
But then, I’m thankful that she has some of her daddy’s genes in her. Here is the picture of the pathetic me, sort of stuck in the middle of the climb and terrified about not being able to come down if I had actually gone all the way up:
Here is the girl, who decided that she can do it, happily enjoyed her high view with her father:
I had always known that the popular Y program or any other sports related camps will not work for Maddy. She is just like me: high energy crowds and loud noises just drain us to no ends. At the same time, I didn’t want to send her to some concentrated camp where she does the same thing all day long for the entire week. I was quite pleased to have found Bright Horizons Clubhouse, a facility just for school aged kids for her Track Out programs and signed her up even before she started kindergarten.
Her first trackout started this Monday. I was relieved to find out that two other boys from her class are also going there. Even though they don’t really play with each other, at least she knows a few faces.
They went on two field trips already. The girl had her first real experience of bowling on Tuesday, and they went on to another swimming field trip yesterday. She had said that she likes the clubhouse every time I asked her about it, but I couldn’t feel out just exactly how much she likes it until last night during our bed time routine-
Maddy: When do I go back?
me: What do you mean?
Maddy: When do I go back to school?
me: Well, each trackout is three weeks. This is your first week, so you still have two more weeks. Do you like the clubhouse?
me: yea? I was thinking that you go this week and next week. Maybe you can hang out with mommy or daddy or even ah-goon the last week?
me: no? Why not? You don’t want to hang out with me?
Maddy: Well. I think I’m just going to go to the clubhouse all three weeks.
So that settles it.
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