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July 2020 Newsletter

In this issue:

Kids Need More Sleep! Pt 2

Gratitude, and the Pandemic

Lockdowns and Onward, March - July 2020

I

t’s been a weird few months.

Our musical family lives in many different communities -- we have students all over the U.S., and in Switzerland, Bermuda, and soon Germany and England. Some communities have fared relatively well. Some have been hammered.

There are lots of places to go to see bad news, so there’s no need to rehash it here.

What we -- Mr Michael and Miss Mary -- would like to do instead is express our gratitude and look for some silver linings in these dark clouds. Because they are there to be found, even if you sometimes have to look really hard.


First of all, let’s talk about Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, and all the other video-communication platforms. No, they’re not perfect, not by a long shot.

But they did make it possible for my family to attend two funerals that would otherwise simply not have taken place. The churches were empty except for the celebrant and the assistants. It was strange. Yet we (and the rest of the extended family who were also barred from attending in person) were able to take part, despite Covid, despite distance.

In a similar vein, we’ve been able to keep up with our families spread all over the world. Like many of you, we were doing that before Covid. But it has been interesting to see how we’re all sharing the same experience simultaneously, everywhere. It’s been reassuring -- knowing we’re not alone in this. Maybe some good will come out of that one simple fact alone.

These technologies have also allowed us to continue in business. Had the pandemic, lockdown and other attendant miseries happened just a few years ago, we would have been out of business. That simple.

But because we were able to seamlessly switch to online instruction, and because our wonderful, loyal families were willing to embrace the new medium immediately, we continued to thrive, students continued to learn, music continued to be made.

Thank you.

*      *      *

So... what has this experience been like for you?

We’re not the only ones with crazy, uplifting, sometimes terrible stories about the last few months.

We’ve all heard about the ‘attitude of gratitude.’ Sometimes that phrase is just motivational-speaker fluff. But not always. Like some of you, we’ve lost elderly relatives to Covid over the last four months (those funerals we weren’t able to attend). Remembering what we’re grateful for has been central to keeping despair at bay and hope alive.

  • We’re grateful our business is still strong
  • We’re grateful we’ve personally stayed healthy, so far
  • We’re grateful we’ve had a bit of (enforced) downtime
  • We’re so grateful we have such an incredible family of music students and their awesome parents
  • We’re grateful to have had more time at home, so a few household projects have finally progressed (a little)
  • We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to make some extra
    progress with our daughter Athena’s homeschool work (she was homeschooled long before everyone else got a taste of what it’s like...)

The enforced downtime -- what there’s been of it -- has also allowed some of our more long-range plans to become a little less long-range. We’re working on some surprises for you. More on those next time...

All in all, a lot of silver linings. There’s certainly more to list, but those were off the top of our head.

There’s more going on in the world right now than Covid, much of it also distressing. It’s requiring us to really dig for the bright spots. This isn’t a Pollyanna thing -- it’s a perspective thing. Before we can count our blessings, we have to know they’re there to be counted. The alternative is too bleak to be borne.

So, in the spirit of  “we’re all in this together,” we’re asking:

What are you grateful for?

Local News for Families

local news for families at Greenwich Arts Academy
O

ur goal for this local news column is always to provide our busy moms and dads some local ways and means to make their lives easier, less stressful, more productive (if it won’t increase the stress!), and hopefully more fun.

One of the huge challenges facing parents this summer is the number of closures of great, kid-friendly activities due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. So, we’ve curated a short list of fun, local things you can do that you may not have thought of. Here we go...

* * *

The Greenwich Audobon Society is still closed, but their spectacular nature trails are open as of May 29th.

They call them their “Seven Sanctuaries.” Incredibly beautiful, even if you’re not into birds.

www.greenwich.audobon.org

(Note: the facilities are still generally closed, which means: no gift shops, no snacks, and no restrooms! You have been warned.)

* * *

Ok, we are admittedly taking a risk with this next suggestion: it’s a toy shop. (No, we’re not affiliated, just fans.)

But, if you’re willing to risk the usual outcome of taking your kids into such a place, let us suggest you drop in at Smart Kids Toys in Greenwich. (17 E. Elm St.)

It’s about as far from Toys-R-Us as you can get. Mr Michael would have lived at Smart Kids if it had been around when he was eight. (He was, and still is, a model-rocket nut.)

Construction sets! Arts and Crafts! Toys carefully selected by developmental level! Cooperative games! Science and Nature Kits! Etc. Etc. Etc.

www.sktoys.com

* * *

Finally, the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk is OPEN. Yay!!

They have lots of summer programs (with limited group sizes and appropriate social distancing). The Aquarium itself is open, too -- however, you must make an advance reservation to visit the fish.

The IMAX theater at the Aquarium is not currently screening movies; there are links on their site so you can stream their offerings.

www.maritimeaquarium.org

See you around town!

Kids Need More Sleep! Pt 2

So How Do We Make That Happen??

Kids Need More Sleep, declares Greenwich Arts Academy
Y

es, our kids are tired. We all know it.

The question is, what can we do about it?

In our last issue, we reported on a set of stats and a related recent report1 that essentially told parents what they already knew: regular bedtimes are important for all ages, limit device use before bed, regular meal times, and so on. These are all sound techniques, they've been around for years, and they're not in any way revolutionary.

So why do we, as parents, have such a hard time making these work in our homes? Or if we do see some success, why is it so difficult to maintain?

The short answer is: schedule chaos.

These recommended sleep techniques all rely on consistency. And that's so hard to come by in most of our home lives nowadays.

So is all hope lost? Of course not.

Our (that is, Mr Michael and Miss Mary, co-founders of Greenwich Arts Academy) regular schedule is as crazy chaotic as any other family's. Regular doesn’t actually apply, as it changes constantly. Yet, we manage to get a decent night’s sleep most nights; more importantly, our singing, dancing, writing, choreographing, majorly multi-tasking 15 year-old homeschooled daughter gets plenty of sleep.

We don’t have regular meal-times (although we do eat dinner together consistently). We don’t have regular school hours -- we’re a homeschooling family. We have “arts” schedules, which often involve late nights. So what’s our secret?

We try to tie our bedtime routine to activities rather than times. (For those of you who've read our blog post on "more effective music practice," you'll recognize this technique.)

Here's the idea: certain activities (almost) always follow certain other activities. So, rather than having a family rule that states "bedtime is at 9:00," we have a bedtime routine.

  • We have dinner, at whatever time we have it.
  • We watch an hour or so of TV together, depending on how late we’ve eaten.
  • Our daughter Athena heads upstairs to brush her teeth and get ready for bed.
  • Miss Mary and Mr Michael watch maybe another hour of TV, or we read.
  • Meanwhile, Athena goes to bed and reads for about an hour. Then it’s lights-out for her.
  • Mom and Dad go to bed. Maybe read a little while. Then it’s lights-out for us.

This routine allows us flexibility by following a routine without having to watch the clock (except to establish the start of our routine, to make sure we get enough sleep -- depends on how early we have to get up the next day. Also varies.)

Is it ideal? Nope. But it works.

Student of the Month

Parkes

  

Skurowski

Parkes loves studying music at Greenwich Arts Academy

What instruments do you play?

  • Piano, voice, flute, violin

How long have you taken lessons?

  • Three years. I did Kindermusik with Mr Michael before I started piano.

Who are your favorite musical artists?

  • Lady Gaga and Prokofiev

What are you other hobbies besides music?

  • Playing games, swimming, kayaking, drawing, and playing with my dog, Gingey

What are your favorite foods?

  • Sushi, broccoli, and pizza

What is the coolest thing you've learned in your lessons in the last three months?

  • How to recognize notes every time!

Do you have any performances coming up?

  • I'm in a Musical Theater Revue in September!

We want to thank 

Parkes

 for referring her friends to the Academy!

Meet Our New Students

July 2020

Michael C.

Milla F.

Romy F.

Luca F.

Davinia L.

David L.

Darla M.

Tony M.

TJ M.

Carlos V.

That homework looks hard... do you want me to eat it?

Is Your Teacher Sold Out?

Monday

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this day is sold out at Greenwich arts academy

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The Academy is at 98% capacity.

Thank you, students and parents, for choosing us!

Refer a friend and get TWO free lessons!

If you have a friend who might like to take lessons, when you refer them to the Academy and they take 1 month of lessons, we’ll give you TWO lessons for free!

It’s very easy to refer someone.  Just visit:


Type in your name, their name, and their email address and we’ll take care of the rest!

There’s no maximum to the amount of free lessons you can receive!

Greenwich Arts Academy logo

Free Lesson Certificate

Thank you 

          your name here        

for referring 

                                           

 to the Academy!

1. To redeem your free lesson(s), call 203-496-0906 and sign up for an additional lesson, any day of the week, with your teacher or any of our other teachers. You are welcome to try another instrument if you like, or give this to a friend.2. Lessons CANNOT be rescheduled once they are on the Academy calendar.3. Certificates CANNOT be used for refunds to your account or cash.

Given by: 

                                  

Date: 

             

yiayia's recipe box

Yiayia's recipe for Stuffed Peppers, Tomatoes & Zucchini (Yemistá)

Stuffed Peppers, Tomatoes & Zucchini (Yemistá)

Ingredients

Instructions

Yemistá means "STUFFED." This is a popular Greek meal — Dinner, Lunch, or Snack. It can be created to be either vegetarian and vegan  ~ or ‘stuffed’ with traditional sauteed onion/ground beef filling option.

This is the perfect summer dish that can be enjoyed hot, room temperature or cold, and even  better the next day after the flavors wed, so we recommend making a big batch. Perhaps serve each one with a potato wedge and small triangle of feta drizzled with olive oil and side salad.

Choose to make all stuffed tomatoes and stuffed green peppers; or add stuffed zucchini; or all three.

  1. With a sharp knife carefully cut the bottoms off the tomato (& save this piece to put back (cover) later after stuffing)
  2. Scoop out inside center of the zucchini to form a canoe —fashioning a lid to save and re-top the stuffed ingredients after stuffing zucchini.
  3. Cut off the top of the bell pepper (again, saving the top to use as a cover later). Scoop out and dispose of seed center.
  4. Place scooped centers of tomato/zucchini in a bowl, to chop and use for stuffing.
  5. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to cut the acid, season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Reserve 1/4 of this mixture for later (if it looks like you might have extra), to cover potatoes in baking dish.
  7. In a deep pan or pot, sauté the onion (optionally with garlic) in olive oil till translucent.
  8. Add scooped veggies for a few minutes.
  9. Remove from heat and stir in chopped mint and parsley.
  10. Add rice; mix well.
  11. Preheat oven to 375°
  12. Carefully  S T U F F tomatoes, peppers and zucchini. Set aside any extra stuffing for Step 16.
  13. Ladle some crushed tomato sauce in baking dish under each veggie, and carefully place stuffed veggie on top. Separate with potato quarters.
  14. Replace all veggie "lids"
  15. OPTIONAL:  You can add a wee bit of broth, or water, to the bottom of the pan so nothing sticks.
  16. Add any reserved tomato/zucchini mixture to top potatoes wedges. If none is left, no worries— just use some crushed tomato sauce to cover the potatoes.
  17. Drizzle olive oil over all the vegetables.
  18. Sprinkle potatoes, peppers and squash with breadcrumbs
  19. Bake till potatoes are done (maybe 75 minutes, keep checking them with a fork)

Marianthi's Yemistá
Here, Miss Mary's cousin Marianthi [MaryAnn] has stuffed her beautiful batch of tomatoes, zucchini and green bell peppers, baked with wedges of potatoes (actual photo).


There are variations on how to cook the Stuffed Tomatoes/Stuffed Peppers & Zucchini, ranging from 375° to 400°, and from ~1 hour to an hour and 45 minutes.  👍🏼  Here’s where you must put your personal stamp on your recipe.  It is here where you must get into it, be artistic and LOVE it!  

It’s very easy once you get the hang of it.  (Just make sure those potato wedges get done, if you’re using them.). Believe us, it’ll be delicious and you will be hooked!

Popular Variations:

  • Add sautéed onion and ground beef for traditional meat filling
  • Add pignolia (pine) nuts and/or raisins to mixture
  • Add cubed Greek cheese or parmesan to mixture.
  • Bake and serve potatoes with lemon squeezed over
Serves 4-6
From Marianthi Macris
spicy
vegetarian
vegan
Click to Download Recipe
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