Hello, Cello

>> Monday, March 28, 2011

Sam and his cello
with the missing C string, courtesy of helpful mom (d'oh!).

Sam is starting orchestra classes and has picked the cello as his instrument. It is so fun for me to watch him. Every day, before I ask him, he goes in and starts playing it. He has only had one lesson where they learned about open A and open D. But that hasn’t stopped him from trying to tune it, to figure out how the pegs affect the sound, from plucking the different strings again and again, and from exploring every aspect he can think of. He can’t wait for his next lesson.

Just now he’s been listening to the CD and trying to figure out how to tune it. The pegs weren’t staying in when he was tuning it so he asked me to help. I think I figured it out. Or not. I broke off the C string. So much for helping! I’m sure someone can help us get it back on. :/

However, he’s still working with the strings he’s got. He’s got his music stand out and he’s putting his book on the stand. I assume he’ll start playing along to the CD as soon as that’s all set up.

This is a singular experience for Sam. Apart from reading, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him take to anything so well. It’s only been a few days, but this just may be something that becomes a big part of his life.

Here’s how it started: Free music downloads from Google. Subway rides. A live symphony.

Many of you have heard me rave about how wonderful it is to have free, legal downloads in China. Oh, how I miss that! One day I got on a Yo Yo Ma kick and downloaded 8 or 9 of his albums. They were all on my mp3 player which I carried for long subway rides. Sam usually rode along on those long subway rides and, because he’s the kid and I’m the mom, he usually ended up with the mp3 player.

I thought he was listening to Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. But, no. He was listening to Yo Yo Ma. His favorite is the Ashes of Time soundtrack. He listened to it over and over and described it as the most beautiful piece of music he had ever heard.

When we got back to the U.S., life kind of got in the way and we didn’t have long subway rides to listen to Yo Yo Ma. However, a friend of ours was in the local symphony and invited us to go to a concert. Sam wasn’t very excited to go, but I thought it would be a good experience for him, so he went.

He was entranced. I don’t mean a little interested; I mean eyes wide open and sitting on the edge of his seat. He talked about it for days. He would talk about how much he wanted to play, how amazing it would be to be able to pick up an instrument and create beautiful music.

When it came time for orchestra, he was thrilled to pick out his instrument. After looking at all of stringed instruments, he chose the cello because he liked it's range. He kept reminding us about the sign up and when the time came, he was thrilled to finally have the cello home.

I’m so happy for him. It is wonderful to find something you truly love. It may not last his whole life, but I’m happy for him now. And, who knows? Maybe he’ll love it for a very long time.


The Bu Ke Qi Incident, by Samuel H. Simmons

>> Sunday, January 23, 2011

When me and my family first got to China, we had a little Chinese incident. It started out like a regular trip to a restaurant, but as we were walking out, Dad bumped into a waitress and stepped on her toe. What he had meant to say was “Dui bu qi” which means “I’m sorry,”, but it came out as “Bu ke qi” which means “You’re welcome”. All the waitress’s burst out laughing. It was really quite a scene. Even now I still laugh at him. (sigh) I miss the good old days.

(that’s the end of this post,)

(This post was written by Sam with no editing or prompting from his parents. He even came up with the name on his own. He loves to tell this story and watch his dad blush and squirm. I love to see the twinkle in his eyes as he tells it.)


O Tannenbaum!

>> Sunday, January 9, 2011

This year we decided to be adventurous and cut down our own tree. There is a wildlife refuge nearby that has some non-native trees they want to get rid of so they invite the public out to harvest them. We drive around the refuge, find a tree we want, and cut it down. All for only a small donation to the wildlife refuge. It's a win all around.

The snow was pretty deep and it was pretty cold. But we were bundled up and ready for the fun.

The first cut

My handsome hubby with the wildlife refuge in the background.

Cutting down the tree but missing the "Timber!" moment.

Sam with the felled tree.

This picture is a bit skiwampus (and, really, how do you spell that word?!) but it's because we tied the camera to another tree and let it dangle on timer mode. We wanted a picture of all of us with the tree but there wasn't else anyone near. It turned out perfect, in my opinion.

Oh yeah, and check out that coat I'm wearing! Matt bought it for me and it is so puffy and warm and long that I don't feel much of the cold. It's a Christmas miracle! Oh yeah, and there are multiple hat layers along with other clothes. It works, even if it looks puffy and maybe a little silly. I, the cold averse, stay warm... enough. That's what really counts.

Ready to head home with the tree tied on top.

Have I ever mentioned that I love our old Honda? I have decided that I would much rather have an old, dependable car than a nice, shiny new car payment. Sometime we'll need a new car but not now. This one works great.

And here is the finished product.

Merry Christmas everyone!


Happy Birthday, Sam!

Sam had his birthday party at the swimming pool this year.

I cannot believe there are 10 candles on that cake!


Fall Fishin'

Matt and Sam love to go fishing. L.O.V.E. Being the land of 10K lakes, Minnesota is, perhaps the perfect place for them to live. Here they are all ready to start their scaly, slimy quest

You have to walk a while to get to the good spot on the river that's tree-lined and has lots of little hiding places for those fishies. Here's Sam on the walk.

Truthfully, I used to enjoy fishing, but my interest has waned over the past few years. I prefer to read a good book while the boys fish. I don't really like the cold and wet. The rubber boots? My preferred footwear.

But it's really pretty!

The leaves were gorgeous!


Sam's first day of U.S. public school

Sam's first day of school in the U.S. was pretty nerve-wracking... for me, at least. He was excited and ready. I was also pretty grateful, in spite of being nervous. I have waited a long time to be able to see Sam go to a school where he has friends who live nearby and who speak English so that he can really communicate with them. I was also happy to be able to speak to the teacher and not have to rely on Sam as a translator.

Sam before going in to school on his first day.


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