Last day of school for both my girls today. Then it is LONG summer break. I know both my girls are looking forward to it very much.
Summer is never complete without water play. Sophie has all sorts of plans to get herself wet: swimming at Colvin Center Outdoor Pool, water park, and waterslide at Summer on the Plaza. Another major event is that she will go to the Advanced Program in Chicago Suzuki Institute for the second year. The most exciting part is that Hannah, who started cello lesson with Sophie 5 years ago, will join Sophie at the camp, which means they will be together for more than 10 days, playing cello, talking and laughing, eating and sleeping, and catching up with each other. I just don't know how they will handle all the excitement! Girls this age! When they decide to go crazy with each other, I have to remind myself, "Okay, that's what I normally don't get to see around the house, but that's also my baby, and she's growing up!"
For Laura, it's Quartz Mountain that she's looking forward to. It's an honor to be accepted second year in a row, and I just wish she could have a great time (well, she always does), and come back with more than what's she's looking for. Other than Quartz, I guess she'll have to figure out in summer how to live without her cat. She's going to OSSM for her junior and senior year, which means she only gets to come home every weekend. While I am not sure if Ava will mind at all, my young cat lady will definitely feel lost if she cannot "her furry ball" to cuddle after a day's hard work.
I hope girls can spend more time together this summer. As I'm sure little Sophie will not experience empty nest syndrome as I already have, she'll definitely miss her sister's hilarious monologue on dinner table which never fails to send her down to the floor. And bed time snack? I'll have to try really hard --- Sophie always says Laura makes the best ramen noodle!
For me, two graduate courses in summer along with two research papers will keep me up at night again. As long as my eyes don't give me too much trouble, I'm looking forward to the quiet study time late into night very much!
Taro was six weeks old when we brought her home. Both girls have been begging for another "cuddly" for a long time. I basically ignored their request since I didn't want Ava to feel neglected or dismissed. But when I saw Taro's cute picture posted on the Facebook by a friend from Sophie's dance studio, I figured it might not be a bad idea to bring a little playmate for Ava.
While Sophie enjoys long hours of playing with Taro, Ava, our feline in residence for the past 2 years, doesn't seem to appreciate my good intention at all. I don't blame Ava one bit since little Taro is all over the place, not only "trespassing" to Ava's territory, but also openly challenging Ava's authority! Little Taro doesn't seem to be bothered or intimidated by Ava's hissing and growling. On the contrary, Taro seems to enjoy the commotion. Whenever she gets a chance, she will dash to look for Ava. She simply doesn't want to accept the "social order" Ava has proposed.
We could clearly tell Ava is not only furious about this little "dare devil", she's also a little afraid. If she hears the door to Taro's room opens, she will immediate make herself disappear in the master bedroom, where Taro is not allowed in at this point. When Taro catches Ava unexpectedly, it's usually Ava who is being chased into a corner.
I do realize cats by nature are solitary creatures. I simple cannot "make" them like each other. At least, if only they can pretend to ignore each other, or be indifferent to each other and try to live in and share their living space peacefully?
(This is a writing assignment for the course "Creativity for Teachers")
I never did an interview before. It reminds me of those mind-blowing exchanges between two people who have quick minds and always have witty remarks. I have wished I could do that. But I am slow. The thing is I always find great joy in my slow process of whatever I am doing. I love the calm, unhurried and free experience. When the thinking is slow, especially it could be a good thing. It’s like an idea “simmering” on the back burner, you keep it going until it yields rich insights and sometimes unexpected breakthrough, like what Interview Creative Person has done to me.
Art is a slow process. By that, I don’t mean the time it takes to finish a piece of work. It could be as fast as a few minutes when all it takes is a few confident brush strokes. I would like to think art is a way of making connections and creating something that is visually and emotionally powerful. The physical act of making art is both conscious and unconscious. The unconscious part is what makes us attracted, what makes us lose the sense of ourselves and become ONE with what we are creating. The experience could be easily shared by an 8-yearold girl who constantly loses track of time at her art studio. Whenever I step into the studio, I always want to linger. Walls covered with canvas paintings, shelves full of vases and bowls of different colors and shapes, tons of paint tubes and brushes in containers all lined up on a corner table, and the soothing and relaxing music instantly constitutes a time outside of the ordinary sequence of daily life. I don’t remember seeing a clock on the wall. Even if there was one, it’s a place where the clock loses its meaning. It’s always hard to pull my little girl out of the Art Studio. She would find every chance and excuse to stay longer. I don’t blame her a bit. Her art teacher, Tandi Memmott, the lady who runs the studio, knows too well.
So probably you could imagine how the interview goes. I chose the studio as the place to do the interview because it is where it is all about. It is the place where Mrs. Memmott does her creative work and shares it with many more who want to experience the creating of arts. Our talk was slow. It’s not that I went unprepared. I went with a LONG list of questions. I did my homework. I assumed I have done a decent amount of learning on creativity so far. Still the interview felt more like a light talk between friends. (Two cups of coffee, with a couple of butter cookies would be lovely.)
Mrs. Memmott had been an art teacher in public school for the past 11 years before the call for the art studio overwhelmed her. Her “Art on 6th” is the only art studio that provides private art lessons, group art classes, and art gatherings in Stillwater and beyond. I was thrilled to find her more than a year ago when she first opened the studio. Ever since, every Sunday morning’s private lesson has been a most favorite time for my little girl. I asked my girl once, “why do you like to go to Tandi’s lesson so much?” She said with a little thinking, “Mmm, because it’s always fun! And she lets me do stuff.” I remember once I said to Mrs. Memmott, “I don’t know how you work with her. She can be so stubborn.” Mrs. Memmott said, “That’s Sophie!” She knows too well that each student is unique. Each person’s talent and creativity need to be carefully nurtured.
I didn’t go with the questions on the list. I liked where the conversation led us. The topic naturally changed from my own girl to her students. When she was the art teacher at the public school, her students came to her class with different levels of art experience. I could imagine the daunting amount of work she had to do. I had the chance to see her students’ end-of-year art show. They were amazing! I always wondered how she could help students finish the transformation within just one year. I popped the question. She thought for a while, just like when she was thinking of what to put on her blank canvas. “If the students are afraid of being judged, afraid of failure, then they won’t be willing to take risks. And taking risks is the first step in a creative process.” By making the art together with her students, she not only acts as a model, an inspiration, but at the same time, she creates an environment that students feel safe and comfortable experimenting with arts. “I always try to give them positive feedback. I like to look at how much effort they have put through. Their work is assessed by effort.”
Effort, doesn’t it seem more like the “simmering” part? We keep trying and trying, sometimes we get what we hope for, sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we end up with something totally unexpected! She pointed at a watercolor painting she did together with my girl, “It’s not done. We’ll figure it out next week.” “A lot of times, people don’t understand that arts needs/takes time.” ( Unfortunately I am one of those people although I honestly try not to be one) I understand it needs maybe thousands of tries before the moment when “suddenly” everything clicks and you just “seem” to perform beyond your normal ability. But the truth is there’s no short cut in this creative process. You learn, you experiment, you take risks, you fail, you try again. It feels so slow. When the magic moment finally comes, when everything miraculously falls into place, it’s when all the effort pays off.
The interview ended, not the thinking. I guess, for my little girl, she’s lucky to have a wise teacher to guider her and help her in her creative experiments with arts. For me, as a parent, I see where I should stand, how I should approach and when I should step back. The creative process of art is more of a life long experience, a meditation and a blessing. How to enjoy it to its fullest takes not only intelligence and passion, but also creative and patient minds.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. Thank you! Tandi.
Even though we went to bed quite late last night, we had to get up early since we were expected to arrive at Chamber class 15 minutes earlier.
"Sparklers", what kids chose for their chamber group, only had 2 classes before the final concert! They got music at their first class. They worked so hard! Best luck to their performance this afternoon!
Final class practice before the concert!
Lunch was brought back to the hotel room because... ...
There's a little soccer fan! Go! Argentina! (Sophie loves Messi, too!)
What a lovely bag for cellist!
Waiting for her turn on stage.
Small orchestra, big power!
Appreciation Time --- small "Thank You" gifts Sophie made for her camp teachers.