Learning the Piano

As a young girl, I wanted to learn to play the piano.  I begged my parents to take piano lessons.  Finally, the summer before my 4th-grade year, they found a piano teacher who lived about a mile from my house.  I was so excited to finally be able to learn.  At first, it didn’t bother me that I had to walk or ride my bike to my lesson.  I tried really hard to practice also, but sadly that wasn’t going to work the best.  You see, we had an old piano that came with the house when my parents bought the house.  The ivory on the keys was missing, the piano was extremely out of tune, but the worst part was that middle C stuck.  So every time I would practice I would have to stop and release the middle C key before I could play another note.  This made it extremely hard to practice and I didn’t progress as much as I would have liked. When possible I would go to my grandmother’s house to practice the piano.  My grandmother was a really good pianist, she played piano at church.  My dad played when he was younger and I even have the record that he made when he was probably around 10-12 years of age.  Some of those piano playing genes had to have been passed down right?

At the beginning of my 5th-grade year, I didn’t get to start piano lessons right away.  My teacher was sick and didn’t start teaching again until halfway through the year. And then it was time to pick an instrument for the band and my parents gave me the choice to continue the piano or join the band.  Playing an instrument that worked was much easier so I gave up the piano to join the band.  Even though I stopped learning piano, that desire never went away.  There has always been a little light that has kept me wishing I could play the piano.  So much so, that I made sure to give both of my daughters piano lessons when they were younger.  Sadly, the didn’t take to the instrument that well (something about not wanting to practice). Kristen tried 3 different times to learn the piano and actually wasn’t doing that bad after the second try, but then she was busy with things at school and no longer had the time.  I was really sad to see her give up the piano.

Fast forward several years and Kristen is now a sophomore in college.  She has to take a piano proficiency test in order to graduate and she is struggling to learn the piano.  I think she has a piano professor that is just working with her personality. After struggling to get her to practice the past 3 weeks, I came up with a great idea.  Yes, we pulled out my old lesson books and I am going to start working on the piano.  She thinks that this will be fun and help her to want to practice again if she sees me practicing.  I have promised to spend 30 minutes a day practicing at least until we go back to school and then again in the summer.

Hopefully, I will progress and get to the point where I can play some easier pieces.


Day 21 of quarantine.




It has been 3 weeks since we were last allowed into the school.  I can’t believe how much I miss going to school, seeing my students and teaching them to love reading and writing.  I thought a week and a half off was bad last year due to the polar vortex, but at that point, we were at least allowed into the building.  If I ever complain about needing some time off or a break again, please someone slap me.


New Motivation


Last week, discouragement and boredom hit.  I had two days where I could hardly convince myself to do much of anything. It didn’t help that the other 3 members of the family were working and since we are down a car, my car was in use.  I couldn’t have gone anywhere even if I wanted to. This weekend with a little rearranging and going through a storage area looking for something (I don’t even remember what it was), I found a to-do pad.  Actually, it is a cleaning checklist, but I turned it into a to-do pad.

So now, I am assigning myself a couple of easy cleaning projects, some Professional Development, some reading, and some scrapbooking.  At least for the past two days, this has helped my motivational level.  Hopefully, this continues to help.  I have a feeling that things are going to change again soon.  We have been notified that there will be a video message on Thursday from the administration.  Wondering if this means we will be closed longer and if we are going to go to online learning.

I miss them.


Today my youngest DD started her online classes.  A couple of her professors just sent a message with what homework to work on, but two of her professors were online with a Google Hangout.  I was able to hear the professors talk to the students.  Basically, they spent some time going over what the new requirements would be for the class and how things would be handled, but what I heard repeatedly from them was how good it was to see their students, how much they had missed seeing them, how worried they were about the students and how they were doing, and how thrilled they were to “see” their students again.  All of them also said repeatedly, that they planned to still have office hours and if there was anything that the student needed, even if it wasn’t related to their class, to please come on and talk to them.  They are still there for their students.  As a parent, I loved hearing this.  It is nice to know that others care about my daughter and she is in good hands.

What struck me even more, is how much I miss my students.  There was no chance to really say goodbye to them.  Are they doing ok, are they following the stay at home rules, what about the one student that I haven’t seen since Christmas, is she doing ok?  So many questions, without any really good answers.

Random thoughts on Today


  1. I decided to actually get dressed today as if I was going somewhere.  It helped my attitude greatly.
  2. We went to church for private communion today.  It really helped to get out of the house.
  3. The girls cleaned out the refrigerator for us.  They did a great job.
  4. I really want to go back to school.
  5. Homemade pizza for supper is always a win.
  6. My daughter started a puzzle today.  Wonder how long it will take.
  7. I really wish I could go back to the gym.  I need to find an online workout video that is easy and at my pace.
  8. I can’t believe my daughter actually went to get some essentials dressed like a Panda.
  9. I hope the weather gets better soon, so I can at least see the sun and maybe soak up a little sun.



A couple of days ago, I wrote about Sunday memories with my Holst Grandparents.  I was blessed to have both sets of Grandparents (Holst and Steinhagen) in my life until after I married. I also have memories with two of my great-grandparents and pictures that prove I met another great-grandpa.  I have fond memories of Grandma Helble, she died when I was 7, and Great-grandpa Steinhagen, he passed when I was in 6th grade.  Otto Steinhagen was an amazing man.  Before he passed away, I was one of 80 great-grandchildren and he knew all of us by name and site.  I also have a picture with my Great Grandpa Lafrenz, I was only about 18 months old when he passed away so I don’t really remember him at all.

Sadly, my girls haven’t been as lucky with grandparents.  When Sarah was born, she had three great-grandparents and two grandparents alive.  Kurt’s mom passed away when he was a freshman in college and my dad passed away almost 2 years after we were married and 2 1/2 years before we had Sarah.  Kurt’s dad was never the loving grandfather and when Kristen was born, the comment was made that they were sorry it wasn’t a boy.  My mom tried with Sarah, but she was still working full time.  The only thing that helped was that Sarah was the first and only grandchild.  Mom was still working full time when Kristen was born, so she often heard when you are older, and potty trained you can spend time with grandma (by the way, she potty trained earlier than any of the other 3 grandchildren.)  Sarah doesn’t remember great-grandma Jochimsen that well (she was 3 when she passed away), but she does have a baby blanket that was crocheted for her by this great-grandma.  Both girls do remember their Steinhagen great-grandparents.  Kristen barely remembers them as she was only 3 when grandpa passed away and 5 when grandma passed away

I feel bad that my girls do not have cozy loving memories of their grandparents.  If I ever become a grandparent, I want my grandchild to know that they are loved and hopefully I will be able to give them these loving memories.


New Life


About 5 weeks ago, my mother called to let me know that she was a great-grandma.  This surprised me for a couple of reasons

  1. My girls are the oldest grandchildren at 26 and 20.
  2. The next oldest grandchild is 15
  3. When we last saw everyone at Christmas no one looked pregnant.

Turns out my niece was pregnant and managed to hide it.  Of course with this new little life in the family, he needed something special from his great-aunt.  I was debating what to make him when I came across a special baby album.  I was worried that it was going to take a while to make since I could only work on it during the weekends and not even all of the weekends.  COVID-19 to the rescue and suddenly I had every day free to work on this album.  I finally finished it up today and am actually quite pleased with how it turned out.  It does take some time to make and uses a ton of cardstock pages, but it is so cute and the design would work perfectly for so many things besides just a baby album.

Thinking that this would be perfect as a school album, one page per year plus the pockets to hold papers, a senior year album, maybe a vacation album (one page per day), the first year of marriage, and I am sure that there are even more ideas.  Just change up the paper that you use.

I can’t wait to make more of these for people as a special gift.  In the meantime, back to some regular scrapping and card making.

Sunday Memories


This staying home has finally led to a day where I couldn’t find something to write about.  To solve this problem I pulled up a list of journal prompts that I give to my students looking for just the perfect one.  I finally found the perfect prompt for me, write about Sunday memories.

Some of my earliest Sunday memories include my grandparents and church.  I remember sitting in church with my family including my grandparents.  I remember my grandmother teaching me about how to read during church.  She would hold the hymnal down so that I could see it also and then she would use her finger to help me to follow along with the words.  This was before I was even in school. During the sermon, grandma would reward me with a sour cherry piece of candy.  I loved these candies.  I wish I could find them again, but I don’t believe that they are made anymore.

After church, Grandpa and Grandma Holst would take my brother and I out to eat.  We usually went to Chef’s Hat in Bettendorf. All 4 of us would get the same meal, chicken dinner with mashed potatoes and the salad bar.  My grandmother, brother, and I would get the 2 piece chicken dinner and Grandpa always had the 3 piece dinner.  They had some of the best friend chicken I had ever had.  I wonder if it would taste as good now.

So many wonderful memories of my grandparents, I really wish my children could have known their great grandparents.  My girls were gypped when it comes to grandparents, but that is for another slice.


Silver Lining


Throughout all of this craziness, we have been trying to find the good in things.  So many good things have come out of this time of social distancing.  Just today these two things have happened for our family.

  1. Both girls work for the same company but different branches.  One is a full-time employee and management.  The other one is part-time, works when she is home from college and sees this job as nothing more than a chance to earn money for college. Today the girls found out that the company is going to pay all of their hourly employees’ hazard pay during this time period.  They are each receiving $2.00 more per hour.  Salaried employees are also getting more money each week. I find this to be extremely generous of the company.
  2. A restaurant in the area has decided during this time to not only have their carry-out business but to offer delivery to business during this time. Not only are they delivering to the local businesses, but they are also choosing a business each day to provide free meals.  My husband is the IT for our local school district and one of only 5 employees left at the administration building.  Today, they were notified that they would be receiving a free box meal from this business.

While I am not fond of staying home and I miss my students and co-workers, I am really enjoying discovering how nice so many others are during this time.

Buying a used car?


This staying at home thing is making it harder to find a slice to write about for my day.  Currently, we have 2 cars for 3 drivers.  That is not a problem at the moment since I have nowhere to go and both my daughter and husband need to go to work.  I wrote about this yesterday, but someday soon we will hopefully need another car.  My DD 2 would love a vehicle of her own.  I have seen some used cars advertised for between $3000-4000.  We have never purchased a used car before except from a dealer.  My daughter has the idea that the refund from her room and board along with the extra 2 months of working might be enough to purchase one of these cars.  I love this idea, but at the some time, I am really worried about the quality of a car purchased for this price.  She is hoping that when she returns to school in August that she will have her own vehicle.  I agree, that it would make things easier especially at breaks.  No 7 hour drives to bring her home for a week or so.  Hopefully, we will have a few weeks to consider this and see what happens.

Anyone have any advice regarding purchasing one of the older cheaper used cars?