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Archive for June, 2007

This week I’ve been a little below the radar due to the fact that I’ve been teaching music in my church’s Vacation Bible School.  Each day I’ve had three rotations of children coming through my choir room, singing, dancing, signing, having an absolute blast!  As near as I can tell, I’ve had somewhere between 150 – 170 children each day.  🙂

1st and 2nd Grades Rotation - VBS - Game Day Central 2007 - ZBC

Tonight, as I sat down and began to cull through my email and check on favorite blogs, I ran across a video that simply took my breath away.  As a mother of a special needs child, I understand the sacrifice and stamina required of a mom to care for that child.  The resolve and dedication of this mother and her daughter is truly inspirational. 

Born with birth defects resulting in only two (2) fingers on each hand and no legs below the knees, Hee-ah Lee’s mother refused to put her up for adoption or place her in an institute.  She cared for her as if she were perfect.  

Today, 20 year old Hee-ah Lee has confounded the so-called “experts”.  She is an inspiration to all come in contact with her, no matter the medium or setting.  Hee Ah began playing the piano at age 7 for therapeutic purposes, but she is now a concert pianist, using adjusted piano pedals to perform in concert on her own.  I hope you enjoy listening to and learning about Hee Ah Lee, the “Four-fingered Pianist” from Korea as much as I have.

“You play with your heart and head not your fingers,” Hee-ah says.

To learn more about Hee-ah Lee, visit her website.

Tip of the hat to Sunny Kira of Musik and Motion!

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Tax-Free Holiday - August 3-6. 2006     

(Disclaimer – the sign above is from 2005.)

UPDATE: For Oct. 2007 Sales Tax Holiday, please visit this post.

I’ve had a lot of hits recently on last year’s post about the Georgia Sales Tax holiday and decided I needed to find out  when this year’s holiday was scheduled.  In case you weren’t aware of it, for the last several years, the State of Georgia has had at least one regularly scheduled sales tax holiday for parents, grandparents, friends, and family to purchase needed school supplies without having to pay the required sales tax.  In previous years, this also included computers and laptops as well as school clothes. 

      This year,  the 2007 school sales tax holiday has been proposed by the State Legislature and approved by Governor Sonny Perdue to take place August 2 – 5th, 2007.  Per the most recent legislation, no limit is placed on how many clothing items a consumer can purchase during the sales tax free holiday. You just have to remember that individual clothing items over $100 are not exempt from sales tax, and clothing accessories are still taxed. 

     Clothing and footwear are exempt up to $100 per item, with no limit on how many pairs of shoes and clothing items a person can buy.  In other words, you can buy 10 pairs of shoes at $10 each without paying any sales tax, or buy one (1) single pair for $101 and pay another $6 or $7 in sales tax.  Clothing accessories, such as handbags, eyewear, jewelry, umbrellas, and watches, are not exempt.    

       The 4-day Georgia Sales Tax Holiday weekend draws shoppers from surrounding states in addition to many metro Atlantans, to take advantage of the sales tax exemption on certain items.   School supplies are sales tax exempt up to $20 per item, including pens, pencils, notebooks, paper, book bags, calculators, dictionaries, thesauruses, children’s books and books listed on school district approved reading lists for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. Again, there are no limits on the number of school supply purchases – simply a ceiling price of $20 per item. 

     For a full list of approved items as well as restrictions, visit the Georgia Department of Revenue website.  Keep in mind that this is last year’s listing from the Governor’s office.  This year’s has not yet been released, but expected in the next two weeks or so.

      Computers and computer accessories are exempt up to $1500 per transaction.  If the purchase exceeds $1500, the entire price is taxable, not just the amount that exceeds $1500.  Items included in the personal computer category include monitors, personal computer base units, keyboards, handheld computers, printers, modems, nonrecreational software, and other peripheral devices. 

       A second sales tax holiday for energy-efficient appliances is slated for October 4 – October 7, 2007.  There is a limit of $1500 on the energy-efficient appliances to qualify for the sales tax exemption, and appliances can include everything from dishwashers, to refrigerators, to air conditioners.  For a complete listing of approved appliances from last year’s list, please visit the Georgia General Assembly website.  Each year, it is updated around the first of July.  This year’s complete listing (for 2007) has not yet been released.

     So, for those of you who like to plan ahead, put August 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th on your calendar right now, and make sure you’re prepared with your lists of sizes and required school supplies, cash, checkbook, or credit card, and comfortable shoes for all those checkout lines! 

UPDATE: For the latest information from the state about this year’s sales tax holiday, please visit our post of July 9th here.

For 2008 Sales Tax Holiday dates, please visit my blog here: https://masterworks.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/georgia-sales-tax-holidays-for-2008/

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My friend, Julie Stewart, of Clayton, North Carolina, has put together a beautiful snapshot of the Young Child class that gives you a glimpse into the culmination of the full seven year Kindermusik program.  I eagerly anticipate a Young Child class in my own studio this fall.  Enjoy!

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JNlEocXjzUo]

Don’t forget our Young Child camp, Tell Me a Tale, July 23 – 27, 2007!

For more information, please visit our Class Schedules.

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Many times, over the years, I’ve received forwards in my inbox that looked serious and important enough to pass along, only to find afterwards that they were “urban legends,” or hoaxes.  I’ve learned that it’s only a quick type of the keys to visit Snopes.com to see if there is any basis of fact, before I hit the “forward” button on my email.  Today, apparently, there is a reality that I think all of my Kindermusik families need to be made aware of.

Hand Sanitizers - an excellent alternative to soap and water

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are one of the more recent tools in home and school medicine arsenals, proven “effective in reducing gastrointestinal illnesses in households, in curbing absentee rates in elementary schools, and in reducing illnesses in university dormitories. An Internet search retrieved recommendations for hand hygiene from schools, daycare centers, outdoor guides, and animal shelters.”  Reynolds SA, Levy F, Walker ES. Hand sanitizer alert [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet]. 2006 Mar [date cited]. Available from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol12no03/05-0955.htm

However, in investigating more about the email I received, I now have concerns not only about sanitizers and possible danger to toddlers and preschools from ingestion, but also about mis-labeled sanitizers found on shelves of discount stores nationwide, similar to the toothpaste-antifreeze scare of recent days. 

For alcohol-based hand sanitizers, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends an alcohol concentration of 60 to 95%  of ethanol or isopropanol for the great efficacy in killing germs.  In the study listed above, it was found that some hand sanitizer products purchased from local retail deep-discount stores in east Tennessee, advertising the same claims as those found on name-brand products such as Purell, had, in reality, only a 40% ethyl alcohol concentration – much too low to reduce bacterial counts on hands.  In fact, the faulty product seemed to “mobilize the bacteria, spreading them around the hand instead of killing them.” (N.Y.Times: Hand Sanitizers: Good or Bad?  , by Deborah Franklin,  March 21, 2006)

Germs

How can you tell if the antimicrobial hand sanitizer is, in actuality, effective at reducing germs and does what it claims? 

Simple – read the label.           

Look for the “active ingredient” which should be, at least, 60 to 95% ethanol or isopropanol alcohol.  Anything under 60% is likely not to do the job.  Don’t try to save a few pennies by shopping at the local dollar discount store without closely examining the labels first.  Be proactive on your family’s behalf.

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In a closely related subject, be careful to train and observe your child in the use of hand sanitizers.  There have been two documented instances of a 2 year old and a 4 year old becoming seriously intoxicated after ingesting hand sanitizer from licking the backs of their hands.  Due to the alcohol content of the hand sanitizers and the relative small sizes of the children, it only takes a very small amount to produce all the side effects of an adult drinking too much booze.  In fact, Heidi Kuhl, a health educator at the Central New York Poison Control Center, is quoted as saying,”Ingesting as little as an ounce or two of this product could be fatal to a toddler.”  

As concerned parents, we all lock up cleaning solutions and laundry products to prevent our children from getting into something that can be dangerous to them.  Many adults unthinkingly equate hand sanitizers to hand lotion and think it’s harmless, leaving it out on a counter or table, not realizing the poisoning danger to young children.  Bottles of topical anti-bacterial  sanitizers do carry warnings. 

Purell 

For example, Purell hand sanitizer does clearly state on the back of the bottle:

Keep out of reach of children.  If swallowed, get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away.

(By the way, if you click on the Purell pictured above, it will take you to a page on the Pfizer website that gives exhaustive information on their product, including the above.)

And, just to give you some additional peace of mind, in our Kindermusik studio, all instruments are cleaned after class, using award-winning Clorox Anywhere

Clorox Anywhere 

Scarves are sanitized by washing thoroughly in a lingerie bag in the washer and running them through a dryer for 10 minutes to kill germs.  Sponges, towels, and other fabric props are washed in hot water and also dried accordingly in a hot dryer.  We take your child’s health seriously and do our best to prevent the transfer of bacteria and viruses in our classes.

For additional information, please follow any of the links listed above as well as below:

Booze Ooze – Snopes.com

Hand Sanitizers: Good or Bad? – N. Y. Times

Hand Sanitizer Alert – CDC 

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Last week I shared a video from Great Britain about a shy, humble man named Paul Potts who simply loves to sing.  According to Paul, music and singing – his voice – has been his best friend since he was a young boy, coping with bullies at school.  He entered the British version of “American Idol”, “Britain’s Got Talent“, not really expecting to get very far.   I was thrilled to view the quarterfinal and semifinal competitions on Youtube and posted his initial audition here on the blog. 

I’ve enjoyed following his journey throughout this process.  So much of what he has said has resonated with me because I’ve seen what music can do for a person, any person, specifically in our Kindermusik classes and in my own piano studio.  Paul states in the following video: “It’s transformed me from a guy who has no confidence in himself whatsoever, and it’s shown me that I can achieve things  – I just need to believe in myself.  I can finally walk around with my head held high……… I’m starting to feel like somebody now and I don’t want that to change.”  

Here, for your enjoyment, is the final performance followed by the final results of the competition.  Enjoy!

 [Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNOXvboRnWQ]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwkVnyfdGYQ]

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Baby Reaching out to Father

Fathers Are Wonderful People

Fathers are wonderful people
Too little understood,
And we do not sing their praises
As often as we should…

For, somehow, Father seems to be
The man who pays the bills,
While Mother binds up little hurts
And nurses all our ills…

And Father struggles daily
To live up to “his image”
As protector and provider
And “hero of the scrimmage”…

And perhaps that is the reason
We sometimes get the notion,
That Fathers are not subject
To the thing we call emotion,

But if you look inside Dad’s heart,
Where no one else can see
You’ll find he’s sentimental
And as “soft” as he can be…

But he’s so busy every day
In the grueling race of life,
He leaves the sentimental stuff
To his partner and his wife…

But Fathers are just wonderful
In a million different ways,
And they merit loving compliments
And accolades of praise,

For the only reason Dad aspires
To fortune and success
Is to make the family proud of him
And to bring them happiness…

And like Our Heavenly Father,
He’s a guardian and a guide,
Someone that we can count on
To be always on our side.

~ Helen Steiner Rice ~

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In loving memory of Joseph B. Gladden, Sr. (1917-1990)

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqcyZ3TZ9QQ]

My Father

When I was …

  • Four years old: My daddy can do anything.

  • Five years old: My daddy knows a whole lot.

  • Six years old: My dad is smarter than your dad.

  • Eight years old: My dad doesn’t know exactly everything.

  • Ten years old: In the olden days, when my dad grew up, things were sure different.

  • Twelve years old: Oh, well, naturally, Dad doesn’t know anything about that. He is too old to remember his childhood.

  • Fourteen years old: Don’t pay any attention to my dad. He is so old-fashioned.

  • Twenty-one years old: Him? My Lord, he’s hopelessly out of date.

  • Twenty-five years old: Dad knows about it, but then he should, because he has been around so long.

  • Thirty years old: Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks. After all, he’s had a lot of experience.

  • Thirty-five years old: I’m not doing a single thing until I talk to Dad.

  • Forty years old: I wonder how Dad would have handled it. He was so wise.

  • Fifty years old: I’d give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn’t appreciate how smart he was. I could have learned a lot from him.

Author Unknown

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“I’ve learned that simple walks with my father, around the block on summer nights when I was a child, did wonders for me as an adult.” — Andy Rooney

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Gone Fishin’

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Over the past several years, I have avoided the American Idol craze.  I freely confess that I’m a fuddy-duddy when it comes to what I think qualifies as “talented” and “gifted”.  In my humble opinion, many of those “winners” were there only because they could sing the loudest, longest, strongest, etc.  It didn’t necessarily translate to what I enjoy listening to – plus the fact that they never include instrumentalists of any kind!  My daughters, on the other hand,  have all become so obsessed with Idol that it almost became a joke on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings to see whose fingers were the fastest at text-messaging their votes into the Idol counting system. 

I have also long known that Brits as well as Europeans cherish and honor talent, continuing to remember and acknowledge talented artists long after Americans have forgotten their existence, and truly recognizing musical talent in ordinary individuals, not just someone with a hyped existence as a “celebrity”.    While we have a “talent-of-the-month” or week or day here in the States, folks on the other side of the “big pond” are more apt to think long-term, and they don’t exalt one form of talent over all others.  (Which “American Idol” does, in my opinion).   They recognize and enjoy talents in all kinds of shapes, forms, and fashions, and tonight I saw very clear evidence of this on Youtube.com.

Posted below is the quarterfinal vocal offering of one Paul Potts, an English mobile-phone salesman (cellphone salesman), who simply enjoys singing.  According to Paul, his voice is his best friend and, many times as a child,  made the days at school much easier to bear after being picked on because he was *different*.   It’s amusing to watch the changes in the judges’ faces as they listen to this man with the magnificent voice and the heart of a lion – he simply loves to create music, to do what he was “born to do”.  The audience went *nuts*!  Many were in tears, listening to him.  All I can say is “BRAVO, PAUL!” 

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1k08yxu57NA]

And, just so you won’t be left wondering, he *did* make it to the finals which will be decided this Sunday!  Go, Paul!

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