Regan's blog

Pianist

The Blackheath Music Festival started this morning with seventeen lovely performances from fifteen girls and two boys. It took an hour for each to play one long or two short pieces, pose for photographs for eager parents, be judged, listen to feedback, pose for more photographs and receive medals and/or certificates. You might have guessed that even the long pieces were very short, and you would be absolutely correct. Katie played two pieces, "Haunted Castle" and "Down by the Lakeside". By the time she heard her name called, handed copies of the music to the adjudicator, walked to the centre of the room, introduced her pieces in a loud, clear voice, settled at the grand piano, played both pieces beautifully, received applause and bowed, thirty seconds had passed.

I exaggerate. Really, it was at least double that, but it seemed faster with all the adrenaline of a mom experiencing Piano Recital for the very first time. I will relive it over and over, which will crystalise every moment, every note. It was perfect. She was perfect. I know she's a beginner, so I don't want to overstate this. She wore the wrong shoes (grubby trainers), played "Haunted Castle" a with a bit less feeling than she does at home, and sat too far away from the piano. So, clearly there were areas for improvement. Considering all of this, I would say that Katie's performance was... perfect! She's a star!

There were three medals given out, and I agree that the top three were appropriately placed. Of course, if Katie had started playing at two, she'd be right up there, too. ;) In all honesty, I think Katie's performance was solid, but I can't get over everything else. She chose to do this without any parental prompting. She sat up there and performed in front of judges and an 100-strong audience. It could/should have been nervewracking, but she just went up there and had fun. I am so proud, I could burst.

The adjudicator was superb. He must be a speed-writer, because he had a full page of notes on every child. Considering the brevity of the pieces, I don't know how he managed. At the end, he called on each child and went over his notes. Starting with the positives, he then went on to highlight where they could improve. It was very constructive, and I think very respectful of the children. I think there is an increasing trend to tell children only the good news. I think this undervalues them. Giving constructive criticism shows real respect. I think Granny was as impressed as I. We can't wait for the next performance!

Importance of a Publisher

This afternoon I was talking about the awesomeness that is The Book Book, and how I must get it immediately. One mother already had it and raved about it. The project she's already completed sounded beyond amazing, and I was completely inspired. Another mother made a mental note to look for the book and asked who the publisher was. Is this a normal thing? I have almost never thought about the publisher of a book. Does it make a difference? There's probably a whole heirarchy of publishing houses that has completely passed me by.

In thinking of publishers, I say "almost never", because last week I read a book that made me look up the publisher. Unfortunately, it was because it was riddled with absurd errors. Whole sentences were mashed together, but the paragraph would end with only a word or two on the last line. The book, though co-authored between the guy with all the experience and a professional writer, was tough slog through some guy's personal memoirs. It didn't feel edited at all, and this guy never met an analogy he didn't like enough to use twice. If this review has you all hot and bothered, the book is Loot. It's the memoirs of the FBI's expert on stolen masterpieces. He has a lot of story to tell (and a lot more similies to make), and definitely enough for a whole book. I'm glad I read it, but I will probably avoid Maverick House publishers again.

Achieving

I just got back from Buffy's second swimming lesson in nearly a year. She was stellar. She loves the water. She is still a bit nervous about sticking her whole head in the water, but she doesn't mind lying on her back or water in her ears. Based on our experience with Katie-the-cat, this is huge progress.

Katie has her swimming lessons Saturday mornings (at 8:30!), and she's been doing really well, too. I like these lessons most of all because I don't have to get in the water. The best part, of course, is watching Katie in her lesson. At some point she just forgets I'm there and starts interacting purely as Katie with the teacher and other kids. It's fascinating, and although I always bring a book, I never crack it open. I infinitely prefer The Katie Show.

Sunday will be Katie's first ever piano exam. It is informal, and there's no offical certificate on the cards. The idea is simply to get her used to testing conditions. Counting time to settle in, stretch her fingers, set up her music, play her two pieces and receive feedback, it should take about 30 seconds. I can't wait!

She Doesn't Need Her Cardigan

We have five minutes before we have to go pick up Katie at school. Buffy is doing a puzzle and singing quietly to herself (to the tune of Baa Baa Black Sheep), "I don't need a cardigan, I don't need a cardigan. I don't NEED a cardigan, I don't need a carrrrdiiiigaaaaaaaaAAAAANNNN!"

I just asked if she is ready to go. She said, "Yes, but I don't need my cardigan."

You don't say.

Wholesale

A few weeks ago, I did something ridiculous and rash. I placed an order for 50+ metres of fabric with a wholesaler. The fabric is admittedly gorgeous, but the purchase is wholly unadvised. The price per meter is such a bargain compared to, say, my past shopping splurges at Liberty*. Unfortunately, we're dealing in volume and when you multiply the price, even a small price, by a very big number, you get a very big number.

The thing is, the salesman hasn't called me since then. No emails, so invoices, nothing. No requests for my credit card number, bank account, not a whisper of communication. The honest, rule-abiding side of me (that comes directly from my mom, hi mom!) wants to call him straight up and make him first apologise for the delay and then place the order immediately. The other part of me remembers the price tag and wonders if I shouldn't just let it slide away into nothingness. It's a very small order compared to his normal shop-owning customers, but he may someday come around to wanting to collect his commission from me.

Really what this all indicates is my life must be going pretty fantastically well if this is one of my biggest worries!

*A trip to Liberty should be regarded as a visit to a stately home. The National Trust should buy it. The building itself is rich in history and so deliciously scrumptious with all its rich wood panelling and nooks and crannies, so offering tours would not feel out of place. The evil mastery of the place is you can buy every single thing there. No souvenir magnets or tea towels at the gift shop on the way out. No, you can buy every single thing. You can even buy the things to make the other things, which is where my fabric obsession enters. This is evil and not good because prices *start* at £20/metre. No joke!

I-o Spy-o

On our daily walks to and from school, Buffy and I chat, sing loud songs (thank you, HSM), and play I-spy. Buffy's version is the best, "I-o, Spy-o with my little eye-o..."

It's so good, that the rest of us have adopted it. It's hard to remember any other way. It's also good to have reminders that she can be adorable. Right now she's screeching until she starts coughing. Nah, that's not annoying at all. That doesn't make me want to take ice picks to my ear drums so I never have to experience the shrill again. Not one tiny bit.

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