Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Preparation for SMU

Just ordered my music textbook that is required for the music history exam.  Has been a long time since I really really studied music history.  If you count the short lessons on composers in class, then I am at least up to date on some of them.  But when it comes to the Renaissance or Medieval music, will definitely need some help!  Can't wait to start moving forward to learn!!

1. Supplements to the Music History Course
http://www.wwnorton.com/college/music/grout7/home.htm - website has study info, free things to help me prepare for my test.

2.  Outline of Program

3.  How to Apply


4.  Contacts

Associate Professor of Practice in Music Education

Associate Professor of Music Education

Adjunct Associate Professor and Coordinator of Music Education

Praying with Julia

Julia:  I going to pray.
Me:  First or second?
J:  I tell a story instead.  I go under here (her duvet cover).  Ok?  Can you hear me?
Me:  I don't know.
J:  Once upon a time there was a little girl named Riley. She went to the forest and met a bear.  (Julia takes her head out from under the covers and looks at me)  Mom, here comes the scary part.  Close your eyes!

Julia puts her head under the covers again.

J:(Yelling as loud as possible)  De bear was MEAN!

She comes out from under the covers and says:  "There only one scary part.  No more.  I tell Jesus a story instead of pray."

Playdate with Boys

Riley and Julia are having a playdate today with a boy from her school and his little brother.  They should be here any time.  The girls have spent their time this morning getting ready.  Riley did her hair - let out her braids and wants it curly.  Fixed it in the mirror.  I could completely picture prom night already.  (tears)

Julia dressed up in a fairy costume and left her braids in.  Riley called her into the playroom so that they could practice how to curtsy.  Because they needed to curtsy when they boys entered our house.

They are currently deciding exactly how to stand to greet the boys when they come.  Riley on one side of the door, Julia on the other.

J:  Heel and toe.  Heel and toe.  I dance like that.

R:  No!  We are not doing that dance.

J:  Heel and toe.  Heel and toe.  But I want to.

R:  But we aren't doing that.  We are standing facing front.  In fact, we are standing just like this and not moving.

J:  But I want to dance.

R:  But you can't.

Me:  Why can't she dance?

R:  I don't know.  I'm not sure about that.

The girls move around to stand in the middle of the foyer.  Standing next to each other.  They play pattycake and ring around the rosie.  Then decide to hold things in their hands.  They decide on puppies and not dolls because boys don't like dolls.

Riley is standing behind her unicorn pillow pet as still as can be waiting for her friend to come.  Julia is playing in the living room.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Interview with Grandpa Mo

Riley had an assignment for school so we chose to interview Grandpa Mo.  Here it is:

11.     How did you celebrate Christmas when you were my age?
When I was your age?  What age was that?  21?  Are you 21?  Oh 6 ½.  I didn’t play with dolls.  They would get me presents.  Ooooh like soldiers and Lincoln logs.  A sled.  Presents like that.  And it would be 4-5 inches of snow outside so that we could use the sled outside.  And we would have some people over – mostly family – and have a dinner.  And we had ice cream and pies.  And all kind of good stuff to eat.

Nobody bought me an iron.  Or a sewing machine.

22.     What special things did you do?
     We had a tree.  We decorated the tree.  Took a while!  Decorate it very good.  And uh… made, well, put a lot of decorations around the apartment we lived in.  So you know, we, being in an apartment was not big like a house.  We had a good time doing it.

33.     What foods did you eat?
Usually we ate a ham or turkey.  Something like that.  With all the fixin’s.  Mince pie.  Ooohhh… some Scottish thing.  Forgot the name of it.  But it was good too.  Most of it was American.  My mother and father were Scottish.  They came right from Scotland on a boat and they, you know, they made a lot of Scottish dishes.  We ate good.  We had a good time.

44.     What was your favorite part of the holiday?
Christmas morning!  Oh that was fun!  I mean you get up and the tree is lit up and the presents are around the tree.  And playing with the toys that I got.  It was great.  It was a lot of fun!

Reviewing Resolutions 2013

I always like to review what was accomplished throughout the year.  I keep my goals in mind all year long and look them over a few months in and keep them fresh.  Why?  Not just to achieve them, but because these are truly things that I want to accomplish.  I feel stronger and stretched and always have a focus in more than one area of my life.  The goals I make each year are in a wide range of areas:  home, spiritual, physical, financial, artistic, and other.

There were times when I didn't think I'd get to a certain goal, but then I'd push myself (or make myself relax more depending) and found I was able to achieve so much more this year than last year.  Here's a synopsis!

MY 13 GOALS FOR 2013:

1.  Read the entire Old Testament.
I read the Old Testament using YouVersion on my phone.  I love the YouVersion App!  Made it so easy.  In fact, I kept going and read the New Testament too.  After I finished reading the Bible, there were several studies that I did on my own using YouVersion.  Loved it!!

2.  Run a 5K.
My running was sporadic and not consistent.  However, I did run two 5K's this year!  One was the Run or Dye Race in Dallas with Riley.  We had a blast!  The other was a 5K in The Colony supporting our football team.  I was please to run them.  My never-satisfied-self was disappointed that I never reached the "running is easy" phase that I've had from consistent training in the past.  However, I did it.

3.  Take the kids to church on Wednesday nights.
(Sound the buzzer!)  I did not do this one.  I truly wanted to.  It didn't get done.

4.  Stand up for myself and say no when I mean no, yes when I mean yes and learn to accept the things that God has chosen for me to do without overstepping what He has for me to do and trying to do what others have been called to do for themselves.
This one is hard to measure, but there were definitely times throughout the year that I stood up for myself.  Not an easy one.

5.  Go on vacation with either my mom or as a family.  Or both!!
Went on vacation to Boston with Riley and my Dad.  Was a great week!!

6.  Pay off one zero percent credit card this year.
We did pay off a zero percent credit card...  only to transfer the money to another zero percent card.  So it doesn't really count.  Every month we're getting to it though without accumulating more so that is a positive!  Can't wait for the two cards to be done!

7.  Change the sheets on our bed every other week.  Ideally once a week, but with everything else, I don't know that I can get it done every week.
Check this off - done!  Had no problem remembering to do it every other week and it wasn't a big hassle at all.  Added one more load (or two or three when the girls sheets were done as well) each week.  I put it on the calendar which made it easy to accomplish.

8.  Go on one date night a month with Jeremy.
Check this off as well!  Great year!

9.  Take a painting class.
Took a painting class with my mom at Painting with a Twist.  We had a blast and I found I was a much better painter than I've ever given myself credit for.  Though I won't be going into work as an artist.  And everyone applauds...

10.  Redo a piece of furniture and stain or paint the armoire in the dining room.  In Pottery Barn black finish??  Or white??  Or a color??
Couldn't bring myself to redo the armoire.  Wasn't confident enough it'd turn out right and life took over.

11.  Texture and paint our ugly downstairs bathroom.  Or paint our laundry room.  Or the study.  Or all three... wonder what Jeremy would say to these :)

Jeremy was not thrilled about the idea of my painting anything so this summer when I wanted to paint.  He's not anti-paint.  He just doesn't like anything that might involve him having to help.  And he'll tell you so himself.  He always tells me that he doesn't mind me painting if I'm sure I won't need his help.  In every project (except the two I did this year!!), I didn't need any help at all with the painting aspect of the room.  I did need his help taking off the shelves in the laundry room and touching up one teeny tiny spot that I couldn't reach (please be sure to thank Jeremy for that when you see him - he pointed out to me that he actually did end up painting... um ok, two strokes in a small 2 inch space.  But good job!).

He told me I could paint the garage if I wanted to in the summer.  So I did!  With a little help from Riley who loved it.  As a result we put in new shelves for organizing and putting things up.  Less than 6 days later, our water heater flooded the garage.  Thinking it's God's way of saying "painting is good!"  ;)

I also painted the laundry room a few days ago.  What a difference!!  I love it.  So fresh and clean and organized!

Would love to tackle the study and downstairs bathroom, but those will take more than paint... not planning to put it on my list next year.  Or will I??!!

12.  Wear a skirt or dress once a week.  Silly, but I like to dress up and never do.  Need to use the skirts and dresses I have...especially with my cute knee high boots!
I find myself wearing skirts and dresses all the time to work.  Jeremy would just snicker because he knew that I would find a day to fit it in just to make sure I met my goal.  But that's the thing - it was a goal that was attainable.  And it helped open up my wardrobe without having to buy anything else (though I did go shopping).  I love wearing skirts and dresses and felt more professional than just wearing slacks and a shirt.  Will keep this one up next year even if it's not a goal!

13.  Choose one day to NOT look at Facebook... even on my phone.  This will be a challenge for sure.
Did not work out.  Second year in a row I couldn't do it.  Pathetic.


Goals made:  13
Goals met:  9
Goals not met:  4
Opinion of the goals for this year:  Pleased with the outcome!  Bring on the goals of 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for 2014

"Hold up your head.  You were not made for failure, you were made for victory.  Go forward with a joyful conscience."  - George Eliot

"All life is an experiment.  The more experiments you make the better."  - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Believe you can and you're halfway there." - Theodore Roosevelt

Goals for 2014:

1 - Send an email/letter/card to a different person every week encouraging them, praising them and thanking them.

2 - Go to Orff Level 2 in Summer of 2014 at SMU.

3 - Start my Master's Degree at SMU.

4 - Make a list of 20 books I want to read this year and read them.  5 spiritual/Christian, 5 classics, 5 teacher/educational, 5 of my choosing.

     A.  Atlas Shrugged by Anne Rand
     B.  Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
     C.  Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
     D. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
     E. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome Klapka

     A. The Antelope in the Living Room by Melanie Shankle
     B. Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist
     C. Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman
     D. Undaunted by Christine Caine
     E. A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art you were made to live by Emily P. Freeman
     F. Kisses from Katie:A story of relentless love and redemption by Katie J. Davis
     G.  Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis
     H.  Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller
     I.  And Life comes back by Tricia Lott Williford
     J.  Things Pondered by Beth Moore
    K.  One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer
     L. Wide Awake by Erwin Raphael McManus
     M.  Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick
     N. Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo

     A. This is your brain on music by Daniel J. Levitin
     B. STRINGS ATTACHED: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations by Joanne Lipman and Melanie Kupchynsky
      C.  Five Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner
      D. Simple ways to be more with less by Courtney Carver
      E. How to talk so kids can learn by Adele Faber
      F.  Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology out of your college classroom will improve student learning by Jose Antonio Bowen
      G.  A History of Western Music, 7th ed., by Burkholder, Grout, and Palisca (Norton) *To prepare for my music history/theory entrance exam to SMU
      H.  Switch:  How to change things when change is hard by Chip and Dan Heath
      I.  How Children Succeed by Paul Tough
      J.  The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon
      K.  Quiet by Susan Cain
      L. Letters to the Next President edited by Carl Glickman

My Choosing:
     A.  Allegiant by Veronica Roth
     B.  Wonder by R.J. Palacio
     C.  Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
     D.  The Scavenger's Daughter by Kay Bratt
     E.  Defection Games by Haggai Carmon
     F.  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
     G.  the curious incident of the dog in the night-time by Mark Haddon
     H.  Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer
     I.  Dave Barry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need by Dave Barry
     J. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
     K.  Carry On Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton
     L.  Matched by Ally Condie
    M.  Reached by Ally Condie
    N.  Crossed by Ally Condie
    O.  The Maze Runner by James Dashner
    P.  The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
    Q.  The Giver by Lois Lowry
    R. Legend by Marie Lu
    S. Prodigy by Marie Lu
    T.  One Nation by Ben Carson
    U.  The 100 year old man who climbed out a window and disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
    V. The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma
    W.  Yes Please by Amy Poehler
     X.  Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

5 - Give myself $50 per month per person for 'fun money' towards clothes for myself and the girls.  (Don't have to apply to Jeremy because he doesn't get clothes unless he needs them and I end up overspending on clothes)  Total = $150 per month on clothes per person

January Spending
February Spending
March Spending
April Spending
May Spending
June Spending
July Spending and August Spending - didn't write it down!
September Spending

6 - Start the girls on a commission chart and teach them skills appropriate for their age.  Each girl has tasks to do on days Monday thru Friday.  They earn $ if they do their task.
Ex// Riley puts away all of her laundry; Julia helps me with hers.  Julia helps take out silverware and put it in the drawer; Riley helps by wiping down the table after meals.

7 - Exercise two days a week.  Wednesday and Friday - workout video at school. Friday and Saturday - run/walk.  That gives me four options to choose two days from and hopefully I can get stronger and more consistent!

8 - Travel somewhere as a family this summer!  San Antonio?  Missouri?  Michigan?  Anywhere - as long as it is the four of us!  Weekend or week; far or somewhat near.  Can't wait to see where we will go!

9 - Start the money saving challenge.  Savings jar.  Use it for something fun for the whole family at the end of the year?!  To see the challenge, click here:


10 - Do our second annual "Kindness Advent" in the month of December.  Days 1-24 we do kind things for others and family events that bring us together.

11 - Paint, spackle, and freshen up our downstairs bathroom.  Add new light and mirror if needed.  At least the mirror.  It's a hideous room... whoever put the really ugly wallpaper on only two walls had no taste.  Seriously.

12 - Attend a Women's Bible Study at church at the new West Frisco Location where we are now going.

13 - Cook a meal with my mom every month - alternating side dishes and main dishes.
January - Chicken Marsala with asparagus-new potato hash. (Southern Living)
February - Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, Basic Vinaigrette (Shauna Niequist)
March - Mediterranean meal (Mixture of all recipes.com and epicurious)
April - No meal together; an insane month!
May - Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño Salsa and Roasted Vegetable Gnocchi with Spinach Herb Pesto
June - No meal
July - Chicken shish-kabobs with rice
August - Meal?  What meal?
September, October, November, December.... - enjoyed plenty of meals together, but sadly no fun ones like earlier in the year.  Where did 2014 go?!

14 - Pray for a particular person(s) each day of the week all year:
Monday - Jeremy
Tuesday - Julia and Riley
Wednesday - school teachers and coworkers
Thursday - my family
Friday - my brother Jim
Saturday - Jeremy's family
Sunday - specific prayers for friends (Christine Chenault, Lea Jasper, Edwina Townsend, Stephanie Funkhouser, Beverly Perry and others that occur throughout the year)

15 - Learn one new song on the piano each month.
January - didn't do this and got the idea for it in the beginning of February.  Still plenty of months to hone a skill and add a goal!
February - Ballade in C Minor by Chad Lawson.  Sheet music purchased at www.chadlawson.com.
March - Dance You Pretty by Chad Lawson
April - Maple Leaf Rag
May - No song chosen
June - Le Secret by Leonard Gautier
July - Etudes de piano number 2 by M. Moskowski (for left hand only)
* Here is a video of the song performed faster than I am playing it - wow!
August -Another Chad Lawson :) - Reflection
September - Chad Lawson...
October - Chad Lawson...
November - Chad Lawson "Change of Season"
December - TONS of Mark Hayes Christmas Songs

Merry Painting Day!

Today I woke up and my first thought was "This would be a good day to paint the laundry room!"  I've been wanting to do it for a long time, but haven't been able to justify it.  After receiving a gift card for Jeremy and I to Home Depot from his parents, it was something that I could do!

I cleaned out the entire room before breakfast.  Jeremy took off the shelves and the door.  I headed to Home Depot and picked out a paint that would work great.  It is grey with hints of brown and green in it depending on the light.  It actually blended in with our taupe wall color that is already there which was fine.  It was just awesome to have the room cleaned up and to get rid of all the marks that were throughout the room.

And it gave me a reason to truly clean out the clutter and dust in there.  It was quite a sight!

I painted the room and then painted the white shelves over the washer and dryer.  They were turning a yellowish white color and needed some freshening up.  Now that they are white again, it pops really nicely against the grey.

Here are the before pics:

Looks ok.  Lots of spots that you can't see.

Clutter up top.  

Somewhat organized.  Needs help.

Appears we have tons of shoes.  Wow.

And here are some after pics:

Doesn't look much different in this pic, but it looks so fresh and clean in person!

Got it all organized and decluttered!

Baskets hold items broken into groups:
1 - cleaning around house
2 - laundry sprays
3 - glues and bug sprays

My mother-in-law gave me this recipe for homemade soap.
I bought a canister for my detergent to sit in from Target.
Makes it so easy and looks nicer than the box.

Pottery Barn baskets holding dusting cloths in one
and trash bags in the other.
Paper towels on top left.
Toilet paper in bin on the top right.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Celebrating Ten Years

Tonight my parents took both girls over their house for a sleepover.  I'm sure they'll have a blast and I only hope that they will actually get sleep!!

Jeremy and I had a gift card to Maggiano's from a student so we chose to go there.  He also received a $10 off coupon as a result of it being our anniversary.

Turns out it was over an hour wait.  We debated about going somewhere else, but figured we might not get a sitter and it'd be great to go ahead and eat there as other restaurants are probably booked too.

Since we could find a place at the bar to eat, we looked around to find something.  Two people had just left the bar itself so we were going to sit in the chairs.  Not ideal, but beats waiting over an hour.  Jeremy looks at a large booth where two ladies are sitting.  He tells me that we might be able to sit there.  I'm not sure, but he says he's going to ask because after all, "The Europeans do that!"  He does and they say "Sure!  Come on over!"  He told them it was our anniversary and they were very kind.

We thank them and sit close together on our side of the booth.  Felt totally normal and worked out great!  We ordered our food and ate a really really nice dinner.  Throughout the meal, we talked with our tablemates every now and then.  Really nice people.

We were fairly full at the end of the meal and told the waitress that we didn't need dessert.  One of the ladies sitting with us says "Since it's your anniversary, I'd like to pay for your desserts!"  The waitress brings the dessert menu just then.  The lady insists that we get what we want - one dessert for each of us to take home.  She recommends the new cake that is out and tells us she works for the parent company that owns Maggiano's.

She was very clear that we were to get one dessert for each of us to take it home!  We talked among ourselves (so we thought) and said that we can share them with the girls and how awesome that was.  She then says "Oh!  Get three - get four - I don't care!  Get one of all of them."  We were stunned and made sure she meant it.

We ended up with a cheesecake, Mint chocolate cake and creme brulee (my favorite dessert in the world).  We thanked her several times and she was so excited to do it.  Have never been on this end before where someone you don't know buys part of your meal.  Was incredibly kind!

In total, we spent $23 on our entire meal out of our pocket.  In cash.  Covered two salads, two main courses and three desserts.  It was beyond.

Happy Ten Years and looking forward to many, many more!

Ten Year Anniversary

I'm so fortunate to have spent an entire decade with Jeremy.  He's a great friend, hilarious comedian, awesome dad and best husband in the entire world.  We had a really rough first year of marriage - job changes for both of us, moved, began attending a new church, made new friends and figured out life as a couple after having only known each other for less than a year.  We always say that if we made it through our first year of marriage, we can make it through anything.  It was really that difficult.

Ten years later, we're in a great place.  Our marriage is at a wonderful place and we are fortunate that we both work hard to make our home, our kids and each other important every day.  I can't wait to see what God does in our lives these next ten years!!

Important events over the last decade:

March - Darlene and Mark Jebson have bugged us to write each other by email.  Jeremy finally does and we have 'dates' at the computer asking each other loads of questions by Chat.

Memorial Day weekend:  Jeremy comes to MI for a weekend to meet me.  Asks my parents permission to marry me.

June:  I go to Texas for the first time and meet Jeremy's family.  Jeremy proposes in front of the entire church at Dallas First Assembly!!  I say YES!  While there, I get a teaching job at RISD, an apartment and plan to move down.  I go to Thailand on a mission trip, have two days to pack, drive 18 hours to Texas, unpack and start work three days later!

October:  I have a breakdown and emotionally/physically cannot sustain the stress of all the change and stress of work.  Take a month off of work and cancel our wedding scheduled in November.  I go up to MI to live with my parents just to get rest.  I sleep practically the entire visit.  I return to Dallas and we set a much less stressful wedding plan in Dallas.  Work is still crazy stressful, but I'm able to handle everything after getting rest. 

December 27, 2003:  Married!

Honeymoon:  Chicago, IL

Jeremy stops working at Edward Jones, gets job at Pottery Barn, gets shingles (declares it the reason that he was hired due to Americans with Disabilities Act as it was on his face!), starts working with Cam.

Jessica finishes the year at RISD and is hired at LISD, starts new job in the fall, begins piano students.  

Jeremy works with Cam and meets CJ and Karen. Starts working with CJ and Karen which is where he is now - Capital Ideas Firm.

Jessica wants to go to her college reunion but we are so incredibly poor that getting there would drain our account.  We pray and trust God to provide and to bless us.  That was a pivotal moment in our marriage.  God did some amazing things.

I ran my first half marathon!

I ran another half marathon.  Swear I'll never do it again because of the toll it took on my body.  Though I find that running is one of my most favorite hobbies now.

Jeremy kept working and working and working.  Begins studying for his CFP.  Hours and hours of work!!!  Earns his CFP!!  Wow.  Tremendous blessing.

We move into our new home two weeks before Riley is due.  And see Wicked for the first time five days before having her.

Riley is born in May.

I begin treatment for my foot issues (plantar warts).  One of the worst cases my renowned Dr. has ever seen.  Acid treatments covering the bottom of the feet for months.  Won't go into any more detail.

At 8 1/2 months old, Riley is walking everywhere!!

End of February - I have double foot surgery.  They literally laser off the entire bottoms of my feet in most places.  I can not walk for about two weeks.  My parents or Jeremy are home with Riley and I every minute of the day as I can not help in virtually any way.  Very painful.  Go back to work to sit in a chair all day long and can not drive because I am still on vicodin.  After a while, I am on crutches for a bit.  Finally wear normal shoes and walk like a normal person.  Praise the Lord - they are completely gone to this day!!!

I am Teacher of the Year at my school for 2008-2009!  I am chosen as a LISD finalist - top five finalist. Felt incredible.

Moved into our current house.  Took a risk and it has paid off!  Our home sold in 13 days with multiple offers.  So fast.  

Pregnant with Julia - get herniated blood vessel and told to sit as much as possible.  Get to wear these gorgeous compression stockings every day.  Have to put them on before getting out of bed while still laying down.  That was a sight at 9 months pregnant!!

Kathryn teaches me how to crochet so I'll have something to do while I am sitting.

Julia is born!!  Having two girls is amazing.  My cousin Megan comes for the six weeks that I am back at school to help out.  I swear she was more of the parent those six weeks than I was.  I leaned on her so much.  Biggest blessing ever.  Hormone levels were at an all-time crazy up and down.

Madi, our niece, moves in with us.  Loved having her with us.  Learned so much about parenting - both what to do and what not to do.  

Two kids in daycare.  A whooping $1800 a month.  We struggle financially and trust God to help us make the best decisions possible.  A year of true and tested trust.

I start my own Etsy store:  Weecrochet.

Madi lives with us for a second year.  Monica returned at the end of the year and she moved back with her in January of 2013.

Riley begins Kindergarten.

Riley starts gymnastics.  Has a very natural talent for it and is on the Level Two Competitive Team.  

Julia is at Lakeside Montessori.  Take ballet and tap, but can't wait to do gymnastics in the summer.

Jeremy is working hard at Capital Ideas still and I have now been at LISD at Ethridge for ten years.  Continue to teach piano students.  Teach 16 students this year and have my first piano recital with my pianists!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Pictures

Sewing and Ukeleles

This afternoon the girls and I played several games together:  Connect 4, Chutes and Ladders.

Riley really wanted to work on decorating her ukelele so we waited until Julia was asleep.  She also wanted to practice sewing on her new sewing machine so we set that up as well.  Riley had a great time with all the materials.  She couldn't be more excited over all the projects she wants to do!

At Joann's today, they had 70% off their Christmas fabric plus I get an additional 15% off for being a teacher.  We got one yard of several fabrics so that she can make some different things.  We also purchased three patterns for her to start with:

1.  Pj sets
2.  More pj sets
3.  Purses, bags, and pillowcases

She is completely stocked up with fabrics to make a variety of things and is ready to start!  Love my crafty girl!

True Texas Girl

Today was a sleeping-in kind of day.  Julia slept until 7:30 and the Riley slept until after 9.  Could totally get used to that!

We played for a little while and had breakfast before heading out to the Old Craft Store where one of my coworkers spends her weekends at her second job.  She let me know about a boot sale that they have the day after Christmas and several of the teachers purchased some at the after-Thanksgiving sale. These are top of the line cowgirl boots and very very expensive.  They are samples that are used so they get majorly discounted, but are still their featured and newest boots that are out.

I figured I'd check it out as I'm always up for a good sale.  (Something I am planning to REALLY work on next year is how I nickel and dime and save tons, but end up spending much more than necessary as well.  But I have one more week until I have to start ;) )

Jackie was so kind and the craft store is amazing if you are a quilter!!!  Beautiful area in downtown Carrollton and looks like my Mom and I will have to go back to look at the different stores and restaurants.

There was a larger room to the right that had tons and tons of boots.  Cowgirl boots are typically a size or two larger than the shoes you usually wear.  Unfortunately it meant that everyone else was right around the same size as me and many had been picked over.  However it still meant that there were amazing boots still there.  If you were a size 6 or 6 1/2 shoe, there were TONS of amazing boots to choose from.

It was really different putting boots on as I've never tried them on before - at least not that I can remember.  The patterns were all unique and the leather is beautiful to touch and look at.  I liked one pair that had yellow and brown leather, but Riley told me that they looked like rainboots and I should NOT get those.  I kept going back and forth on several pairs and trying different boots out.  There was one pair I kept coming back to.  Has a beautiful flower pattern on it and fit like a glove.  They are made by Lane Boots.  Really had no idea what that meant other than they are normally expensive and I was about to get a good deal according to the teachers I work with.  So I got them for $95 plus tax equaling $102 and some change.

When we got home after stopping at the mall to play and at Joann Fabrics to get more yarn for an Etsy order, I went on the Lane website to check out the boots I'd purchased.  Found several more pairs that I think are beyond beautiful and then found the ones I had just purchased.  They are a new boot out.

Asking price:  $420 plus tax

Wow.  Have never owned a pair of anything that cost that much money!  Will definitely be wearing them often with my skirts and a few Texan dresses I have.  I'm finally a true Texas girl!!

Why does Santa...

Julia:  Why does Santa bring us presents?

Jeremy:  Well, don't you like it that he gives you presents?

Julia:  Yes.  But why does he bring us presents?

Me:  He just does.

Julia:  Oh ok.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas Lights Again

Julia:  Wow dose are beautiful yights!  Grandpa did a great job putting dem up!  (looking at the many trees lighting the entrance to their subdivision)

Riley:  Grandpa didn't do that Julia!

Julia:  Yes he did!!

Riley:  No he didn't!

Us:  Riley, just let her be.  Sometimes it's just better to say "Wow - those are pretty" or to just smile and say "Yes!" than to correct a person to be right.  We like the lights too, Jules

Julia:  Me too!

Riley:  Wow - whoever did those lights did a great job!  That's something you could say.  I like the way some person put those lights up!

Julia:  Grandpa did that.

Riley:  Julia, that's not what I'm saying.  I'm saying that the person who did them did a great job.  I'm not saying that Grandpa did a great job.  I'm saying that the person who did them did a great job.

Julia:  Oh.  Ok!

**Side note:  My mom told the girls that Grandpa decorated the entrance.  Julia is amazed at his abilities, but Riley knows he didn't do it and ever since finding out, is determined to help Julia understand this.


In two days, Jeremy and I celebrate ten years of marriage.  It has truly gone so fast and I love him more than I did the day we said "I do."  Our marriage has gone through lots of stages and I can honestly say that this past year has been one of the strongest and best years we've had.  I'm very much looking forward to the next ten years and many, many more together!

We actually exchanged gifts today.  We haven't done that in years.  I got him a big lego set from The Hobbit and a neat lego book that looks super cool.  He was really excited about it.  I was feeling good about it until I opened mine.  He had told me he'd gotten a few things for me.  I had told him how much I'd spent on him and he was like "that's cool."  He didn't share what he had done and I knew that it must be good which made me nervous that I hadn't done enough for him.  He told me not to worry about it and that he did it because he wanted to and that I didn't need to do anything more.

Today I opened the present he had out.  It was a square box from Teavana, my favorite tea place.  Actually there is only one tea in particular that I like and it is from there.  I always get a sample of it whenever I pass by.  Every time.

He purchased two containers: one of the tea and one of the rock sugar.  I am incredibly thankful!  He also found the container that will work to make it, but we will get that soon.

I figured that was it.  He was wearing his favorite grey sweatpants that have a large side pocket on the thigh.  I thanked him and he said "To get your other present, you have to find it.  It's in my pocket."  I was like "Um - ok."

So I took it out and saw that it said the name of my favorite store, Altar'd State.  I thanked him before opening the gift card and didn't think about what to expect.  I was just so thankful for it.  When I opened it, it said "To my beautiful wife From your loving husband."  The amount:  $200.  My jaw dropped.  Still can't believe it.

Turns out he lied to me about what his bonus was.  He left off $200 because he had spent it on me.  It was such a special gift.  More than I would ever have asked for or expected.  He is a gem and definitely thinks of me over himself.  Jeremy made this Christmas such a surprise.  Just amazed.

Sewing Machine

Riley and I have spent some time sewing together.  She made a pair of AG doll pants and did such a great job with it.  Ever since then, she has wanted her own sewing machine so badly.

My parents found a killer deal at Joann Fabrics on a Singer machine.  And not the kid variety.  This machine will last her years which will be so amazing.  They surprised us by getting it about a week ago.  The machine is called the Singer Curvy:


My mom and I went out to Joann's the same day to purchase some side items to go with it - various fabrics, bobbins, a case with compartments to hold things, thread, extra needles, scissors, the works.  It was so much fun picking things out!  Found some great fabric on sale and used coupons.  Fabrics have cats, dogs, cute prints and a really beautiful black and white print.

Tonight Riley let Julia open her gift first.  At this point, Riley had forgotten about really wanting the sewing machine because she talked about it so much that Jeremy and I were adamant that it was too expensive a gift and that there was no way to make it happen.

Riley was very happy for Julia and then began to open her present.  She got it unwrapped enough to read the top so I asked her to read it to us.  She read the word 'Singer.' Wasn't really sure what it was.  Then unwrapped a little bit more and saw the picture.  She jumped up and down so many times and said "Yeah!!!!"

My mom then showed her the extra items that Jeremy and I had gotten for her to go along with it.  She loved all of it. My dad was sure to explain that this wasn't a toy; it was truly a real sewing machine that she had to be careful with.  I explained that she'll need to let me actually help her with it.  She told me that she'd let me help her no problem!

As soon as we got home, Jeremy took the box upstairs.  I had dusted the desk in Madi's room so that we could make room for Riley's sewing stuff.  Riley and I went upstairs and took the machine out of the box and set it on top of the desk.  Then she organized the entire desk the way that she wanted it with fabric on one shelf, the odds and ends Eiffel Tower container on the other and then fun things in the drawer underneath.  She thanked me for helping her set up her sewing room.

Later as we were getting ready for bed, she asked if we could just walk into her sewing room one more time just to look at it one more time.  I told her we could so she just sighed and walked in and stared at it again.  Then said "I can't believe I have my own sewing room.  I never thought that would happen! I'm so excited!"

Her first project tomorrow:  ukelele
Her second project tomorrow: sew something

And if we get the chance to go look at more fabric, she said that would be fun too!

Julie Doll

The past few weeks in particular Julia has been asking for the American Girl Doll Julie.  She loves her and it was the only thing she wanted for Christmas.  Literally the only thing.

Tonight when we went to my parents house after Julia's and my long three hour nap, she started crying out of the blue.  We had opened several small gifts - some jingle bells, a puzzle and a game Headbanz.  It hit her that she hadn't gotten the doll and she was so incredibly sad as it was all she wanted.

Jeremy was holding her as her eyes were completely filled with large tears.  I asked him what was wrong and he told me that Santa didn't bring her doll.  We talked with her for a little while and then I held her too.  She calmed down and was fine.

After dinner, my mom and I took the girls upstairs so that they could play.  In reality, we were just giving Jeremy and my dad time to set out a gift for each girl that they had really hoped for.  My mom checked to see if they were ready and they were so we went downstairs.

Riley saw the gifts immediately and found the one with her name on it.  It was heavy and she couldn't lift it so she started to push it and tilt it over.  My dad helped her out.  Then Julia saw her gift and sat down to open it.  Riley told Julia to go first.

As soon as the paper was ripped on the side and she could see the stars on the maroon/pink box, she gasped out loud.  Amazing that she recognized what it was just from that.

She tore the rest of the paper off and was beyond happy to see that she had gotten her Julie doll.  The rest of the night she and her doll have been inseparable.  She couldn't wait to hold her and held her in her arms the entire way home.  She changed her clothes and had a smile so big on her face.

I told her that I was so happy for her that she got her doll.  She simply answered "Thanks Mom."

It's not that the other presents mattered because she loved every single one of them.  It was that she had hoped for this doll above all else and for her to actually get what she hoped for was so special.  I haven't shared with her that the new AG doll of the year 2014 is a ballerina.  Thinking I know what we'll be getting her for her birthday...

Christmas 2013

Merry Christmas!

Julia woke me up around 7am and asked if Santa had come.  I told her that we should check.  She walked out to the stairs and called out "Wow Mom!  Dere are a yacht of presents under the tree!  Dere are so many!  Santa was here!"

We went back to the bedroom to read some books and look at the American Girl doll catalog  (or as she calls it 'the magazine').  Riley came in a bit later and was ready to see if it was ok for them to go downstairs.  We all got up and went downstairs.

The girls opened their stockings first.  Riley had found a few really small stockings at school in my classroom.  I had purchased them for an activity in music but never used them so I told her she could have them.  She gave a few away and then wrote her name on a few and Julia's name on a few.  They put those on top of their large stocking so Santa would know whose stocking was whose.

Riley was excited to see new earrings.  "Santa must have known I really needed new earrings!"

Julia was happy to see nail polish and new acrylic paints.  "I yove yehyow!!"

We had them eat breakfast before diving into the presents that were under the tree.  Riley's hands always get shaky from low blood sugar in the morning and Julia had been up a while before we opened them so they were hungry anyway.  After they ate, Julia checked to see if Santa had left his milk.  She announced that it was all gone and that he had it.  She also gasped and was happy to see he had enjoyed the cookies too!  There were only crumbs left - to which she helped herself.

The girls took turns opening gifts one at a time.  Riley opened a present first.  She made mention at one point "Wow - these elves really know how to wrap presents good!"

Julia shook a box and said "I tink it's a puzzle!"  And it was.  She got several this year.

One of Riley's favorite gifts was a ukelele that she can not only decorate and paint, but that plays (sort of).  She also loved her stencil set, minion shirt, books and Goldie Blox kits.

Julia loved her puzzles, her minion shirt, Frozen playset of people and the sled from Karen, Jeremy's boss and new doll outfits.  She was incredibly thrilled about the two doll outfits.  Just said "wow!"  and couldn't wait to play with them.

The girls finished unwrapping their gifts and then noticed there were a few more presents under the back of the tree.  We told them to open those together.  They opened the first one and each one had an iPad case.  Riley read what it was and both girls kept saying "What is this?"  Riley said it looked like it's for an iPad.  To which we egged them on with "That's interesting!  Why would you have that?"

They opened the next and last present which was a super cool grey messenger bag made especially for iPads.  We asked what that was for?  Riley gave a really long explanation as to how it must be for carrying things.  Julia thought it was to carry her babies.

Jeremy got out his new iPad and talked to Riley about how he had a new one and now there was his old one that he didn't need anymore.  He wondered if it would fit in her new case and if she would like to have it.  She was wide-eyed and grinned from ear to ear.

Then he brought out another iPad for Julia that we had purchased from his boss who had also just gotten a new iPad.  He put it in Julia's new pink case.  Both girls could hardly believe it.  Then Jeremy showed them how to put them in the bags and explained a little bit to them.  The last two nights Jeremy has taken time to get apps and books on their iPads so that they could play on them immediately.

The girls played some on the iPads.  Then played Frozen dolls, playdoh, AG dolls, stencils, ukelele things, etc.  

Riley said "Thank you" for the iPads countless times.  She told my parents she said it a lot and I wouldn't doubt if she said it almost 25-plus times.

What a complete blessing to give to our kids.   As I put Riley to bed tonight, she asked what we were doing tomorrow.  I shared that there were two things I needed to do, but that the day was basically whatever we wanted to make of it.  I asked her what she wanted to do and she gave many ideas.  I told her that we can do whatever works and that we'd definitely make time for several of her ideas.  Her first idea was that she really wants to paint and decorate her ukelele and learn how to play "We wish you a Merry Christmas" on it.

Christmas Eve

Jeremy's parents, Monica and Madi came over for a Christmas Eve dinner and some family time.  The girls had fun playing with Madi.  It was nice to see them together and their relationship is a great one.  Partly because they lived together for a while so a great bond was formed, but also now because they don't see each other often and aren't tired of each other :)

Jeremy cooked a pork with Kent Rathbun barbecue rub.  Wow - delicious!  We had red/yellow potatoes and green beans as well.  Jeremy's mom bakes the best apple pie in the world so we had a delicious dessert after the meal as well.

It was a really relaxing and nice night.  The girls opened presents.  Riley was given a gymnastic hoodie.  So cute!  Julia was given a pink sweatpant outfit with a hoodie.  She hasn't taken it off since.  She asked us if she could wear it to bed and we told her she could.  When she woke up, she told us "I'm never taking this off!  I will wear it to Grandma and Grandpa's house.  It is a night outfit and a day one."

The girls were both given $5 which was great too.  Riley has wanted a remote control puppy and only needed $5 so it was a nice gift!!  Julia will also enjoy it when she realizes she can purchase something she likes with her own money.

We watched a hilarious youtube video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zce-QT7MGSE

We were all laughing out loud and enjoyed the good laugh!  It was just a really nice family night at home.

Cleaning and Shopping

The girls were getting more excited that Santa was coming in one day.  Jeremy worked the first half of the day.  The girls and I stayed home.  I cleaned the house thoroughly - even dusted (my least favorite thing to do in the world).  After dusting, I sneezed on and on and got congested.  Vacuumed the whole house, cleaned out the playroom (yeah!), put all the laundry away and admired our immaculately clean house.  So nice to get everything put away and clean and to have time to do it.  Had been way too long since the last thorough cleaning.

We were having Jeremy's parents over along with Monica and Madi so we needed to get food for tonight.  I told Jeremy I'd venture out to Walmart with the girls to save some time. the girls were super excited to go.  Let them know we wouldn't be buying any toys as Santa was coming, but we could look at the babies and barbies.  Julia always asks "Can we look at the babies and barbies?"  That is a special treat that makes the rest of the shopping trip much easier.

Before leaving for the store, the girls changed out of their pjs and into cute clothes.  Me, on the other hand, chose not to do anything.  Had on my Gilly Hicks sweatpants, grey Gap long sleeve shirt, Christmas Socks - oh yeah!, and running shoes.  I hadn't taken a shower since Friday morning.  My haircut was on Saturday so my hair had been washed three days ago.  After working so long the past few weeks, I was just in the mood to totally relax and by relax, I mean do absolutely nothing.  I was also fresh faced with no makeup whatsoever.  Didn't hide under a hat or even put lotion on.  Just walked out the door.  Figured it was more important to get the goods and take care of all the 'looks' later.  (which I did shower, wash my hair, put on makeup, deoderant, lotion AND cute jeans with a sweater - all around 2:00pm which was an hour before our family arrive)

It was a great trip to Walmart.  Noone gave me dirty looks.  Probably because they were looking at our cute girls.  I did get a great hug from a coworker in the checkout line.  Wonder if she was thinking she regretted hugging my smelly self after seeing me, but her face was all smiles and we chatted for a short time before we checked out.

Note to self:  noone in Walmart pays any attention to what you look like unless you are WAY over the top.  Will plan to not get fancied up again the next time we meet.