Reading Reward

Lucas just had his fifth piano recital. He played two fairly long pieces of music: the theme from Star Wars and “Colorful Sonatina,” with three movements. “Six whole pages of music!” he would like everyone to know.

Preparing for "Star Wars" Theme

Ready to Play "Colorful Sonatina"

We are so very proud of him. He worked hard for this one, and to ensure that he got in all the practice time he needed, I made a “14 Days of Music” chart to track his practice sessions. I put two rewards on the chart: one at seven practices for a dessert of his choice (cookies and cream ice cream) and one “book reward.” He worked for that book reward, having decided long before he achieved it that what he wanted was a Missile Mouse graphic novel.

After Piano Recital: Taking His Bow

This is my not-so-great shot of Lucas just after he finished playing. He was happy and relieved to have it behind him, I think, and proud of how well he played. After the recital cookies, we went straight to the bookstore to buy Missile Mouse. He came straight home and read it cover to cover!

Can you think of a better reward that a new book? No, I can’t either.

I love that my kid is motivated by reading books! Lucas has four different books going right now, I think. I don’t know if he switches between them when the reading gets difficult, or if he just enjoys having several different stories to dive into. Right now he’s reading The 39 Clues book 1, Stuart Little and a Jack and Annie Magic Tree House book (I have no idea which number). He also picks up grandma’s book about Samurai once in a while, which is way over his head but totally cool nonetheless.

He’s now pushing the books he has read on me and Ian. He thinks Ian would enjoy Missile Mouse. And for me, he recommends the Spiderwick Chronicles. “Mom, I think you’d really like this one. You should borrow my book and read it.” And you know what? I am. And I will, whenever he says that because it’s totally wonderful that he wants to share his discoveries. If we can geek out about the books we enjoy together, I’ll be a happy mama indeed!

Lucas at the End of Third Grade


It’s the end of the school year. There are four more days of school left and then it’s twelve weeks of summer vacation for Lucas. Normally at this time of year I’d be panicking, wondering what the hell we are going to do during twelve weeks “off.”

OK, the truth is, part of my brain IS doing exactly that because I am both full-time mommy and full-time professional editor. Try as I might, I have yet to figure out how to be fully effective at doing two vastly different jobs at once.

Twelve weeks. Somehow the camp options are fewer this summer, and I just know that there are going to be yawning weeks of hot, drawn-out days. You’ve heard me sing this song before. That’s not why I’m writing now.

Just now. This is why I’m writing. This exact moment I’m so awestruck by my child. My 9-year-old has me feeling just boggled, and not for any one thing, but for all of him.

Today he brought home some of his third-grade schoolwork. Not reams of mimeographed math problem practice sheets, but his own watercolor paintings. His crocheted potholder. His hand-carded, handspun and plied yarn.

While Ian was preparing dinner, Lucas was out in the backyard, shooting homemade arrows at targets with his most recent handmade bow.

During dinner, Lucas told us the story of Moses and the Hebrew people wandering the in the desert. This was a treat for us because he doesn’t always want to talk about what’s going on at school. I marveled at how parts of the story were so well-crafted, as if he had absorbed whole phrases of the narrative word for word because the pictures in his mind responded to them. He also told us he got to shovel manure today—and that he’s aware he’ll be doing a lot of that sort of thing next year because the fourth grade does the animal chores on the school farm. We discussed how interesting the Norse myths will be next year.

After dinner tonight, he played for us a piano sonatina. It has three movements and is about six pages of music, with plenty of repeats and codas. His sonatina is not perfect. Some sections are played faster than others. There are rough patches that we hope he will iron out through practice before his next piano recital in a couple of weeks. But, damn! My kid just made music out of nothing but his knowledge and skill and feeling.

Who is this capable being standing before me?

I cannot promise to be the perfect, carefree mom all summer. I will not promise to keep him entertained through the dog days. All I can promise is to try to meet him where he is now, which is most certainly not where he was a year or a month ago. Now is new, and brave and capable and lovely.

This Moment: Music-Making

Piano Practice
Inspired by SouleMama {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Piano Recital

Lucas performed in his second piano recital one evening this week at his music school, Music Bloom, in Fair Oaks. He had been practicing his songs for days, and although he experienced occasional waves of trepidation, he approached the event with gusto.

I’m so proud of him! He played two songs, one called “Sailing Day” from his Michael Aaron piano primer, and the other his own composition, which he calls “The Bugler’s Song.” Here it is:

We were fortunate that grandma and Lucas’s aunt and boyfriend were able to attend! (Poor Ian and Asher had to stay home; it’s just too hard for Asher to sit through an hour + of performances.) The performers were all wonderful, and ranged in age from about 6 to 18. I thought it was lovely to see what other children with varying levels of experience can do, and hope it was inspirational to Lucas.

Lucas doesn’t always want to play piano when it’s time to practice (especially if I suggest that he do so), but sometimes he sits down of his own accord and works on his songs for fun. I think he’s really enjoying learning a new skill, especially one that is so joyful and impressive. His teacher is a good motivator. She supports his desire to play the songs he wants to play, and with her help, he’s learning several melodies from an advanced book of Harry Potter compositions. This is a great source of pride for him. I hope he sticks with it!

Once again, I say to the Weeks family, THANK YOU for giving our children and our home the gift of your beloved piano. It is bringing us great joy. We are grateful!


We are very fortunate in that we are the lucky recipients of some really big gifts lately. Opportunities for family and personal enrichment seem to be falling out of the sky.

During the hottest part of Saturday afternoon, movers brought us a piano that is being given to us by Ian’s ex-step-family. It is a Kimball that Dan Sr., Ian’s sister’s father, purchased new in 1968. It was in Dan’s possession until about five years ago. What I hear is that he was a good musician and enjoyed playing it until he and his wife moved to an upstairs condo in Capitola. For the last several years, the piano has been at Dan’s sister’s home. A fall and a broken hip has resulted in elderly Aunt Rachel’s having to move to an assisted living home. Rachel’s family are selling, donating, and disposing of her things, including her home, to help pay for her long-term care. 

We were very touched to hear from Ian’s sister, Kellie, and his ex-step-brother, Dan Jr., that Dan Sr. wanted his piano to stay “in the family.” He hoped we might want it, and tearfully said he feels Ian has “always been like family” to him. Dan is understandably upset about the changes that are happening for Aunt Rachel, his sister, and he is frequently emotional since he had a stroke several years ago. 

So through old connections and the good will of some really sweet people, we now have a pretty, 40-year-old mahogany piano in our home. I do not play, but I have always wanted to learn. I always felt at a disadvantage when I was singing because I couldn’t plunk out my own part without help. I have held a secret hope that Lucas would learn to play someday. It seems to me that if you learn piano, nearly every other musical endeavor comes more easily. It feels like a tremendous windfall to have this instrument for the cost of moving and tuning it; we would never be able to afford one otherwise.

I know of another young boy who was in Lucas’s class last year and he plays. A music teacher comes to his home once a week and teaches Charlie piano and Charlie’s sister, the violin. I’m hoping to arrange for lessons for us to start this summer. 

So, in honor of kind people who gift us with wonderful opportunities to learn new things, I raise my popsicle in a toast: Thank you!

  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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