Saturday, May 31, 2014

Month Five Review

Goals for 2014:

1 - Found I didn't plan to send emails or letters to friends/family this month.  When I get busy, others get left out.  Hoping to make a plan to do this better in June.

2 - Just over two weeks before the Orff Class begins.  All paid, all set and can't wait!

3 -  Signed up for my first class for my Master's Degree.  Starts in August - so excited and blessed!  Still studying when I can!

4 - Read a lot this month:
Carry On Warrior
Kisses From Katie
The Happiness Project
One in a Million
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Still working on these:
On Chapter 14 of "A History of Music"
Started "Wide Awake" - over halfway finished
Almost halfway through "Why Children Succeed"


5 - May Spending - another expensive month.  Girls had no shorts that fit and no tank tops and no swimsuits that fit.  Had several birthdays.  I purchased some new skincare items by Rodan and Fields.  LOVE them!

Side Note:  If you want information, I'd be glad to give you the name and information for my friend Lindsay Derocher.  She's incredible and the products are worth every penny.

Purchased awards for piano students, teacher gifts, talent show costume items, talent show shoes.  After all Gaga wears tall heels and my teacher shoes don't work for that.  Found the most amazing and outrageous Gaga shoes at DSW - about 5 inch stiletto heels.  Actually pretty comfortable and I felt taller than I've ever been ;)

Definitely didn't even come close to the $150 dollar amount.  Thankful June starts tomorrow to have a fresh start.

6 - Just simply not paying the girls for any chores at the moment.  They help fold laundry and clean up and that's about it.

7 - For Mother's Day, Jeremy gave me a membership at a local gym that is new.  It's really affordable, has childcare and while not Lifetime Fitness, it has everything I need to workout when it is hot this summer.  I should add that he also has a membership there as well.  It's a fun family event!

This past month I worked out whenever I could fit it in.  There were a few days I didn't get to it, but managed to do more than I thought I'd be able to.  I only have three days left of the P90x3 workout plan and I'll have finished it!  Today's workout will be yoga and then just two more to go.

8 - Need to see if we can do a weekend trip now that summer is fast approaching.  Jeremy's company has an audit in July which means less time he can take off and tons more work for him to do to prepare as well as a lot more stress.  Puts our plans on hold until the audit is finished.

9 - Saved $1009 dollars.  Feels awesome!  Five months into the year and seven left to go.  Would be amazing to double what I was hoping to save!

10 - Kindness Advent in December.  A few months away still.  Gathering some neat ideas though!  Including Riley and I sewing pillowcase dresses for girls in Africa; donating books to Lakeside Montessori (where Julia attends school) using Books by the Foot.  Can't wait to find interesting and unique ways to give this year!  If you have any ideas, please post a comment or tell me on Facebook or text!

11 - Making peace with the ugly bathroom for now.

12 - Attended the Women's Retreat "Wide Awake" and loved it.  Shauna Niequist would be my best friend if we lived near each other.  Of that I'm sure.  Hoping there is a summer bible study!

13 - Our meal this month was delicious!  Check it out here:  May Meal

14 - Said a lot of 'song prayers' this month on the way to school and during planning period.  Turned on particular songs and sang them as prayers as I just didn't have the words.  Prayed for certain people more than others due to situations that needed prayer.

15 - Don't remember even playing piano much except when demonstrating at lessons or in the classroom.  Didn't even choose a song to learn.  Something had to give this month and apparently it was this as I just didn't get it done.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Going Gaga

For our Talent Show Teacher Act this year, we are doing the theme "Through the Decades."  Each team represents a dance and costume style from a particular decade starting with the 1940's.  Our team is doing the 2000's and we decided to go with Lady Gaga.  Partly due to her upbeat music (though often inappropriate so there was quite a bit of editing) and mostly due to her outrageous outfits.

The biggest challenge in doing Gaga is to be outrageous, but appropriate.  My teammates always go all out and I knew I had to rise to the challenge.  Each of us is incorporating what we teach into our outfits - Rita with art, Valerie with books, Lori with animal prints for science and music for me.

I found a picture online of a particular dress that she is known for wearing.  It was black and white and has lots of angles on it so I used that as inspiration.  I have an old formal dress from Gantos Boutique (is that even around anymore?!).  It is black and long with a criss-cross white satin pattern on the back and a large white bow and large white train coming out of the bow.

I cut off the dress so that it is above my knee and hemmed it.  I also had to take the shoulders in a few inches on each side.  I purchased a large black flower that clips onto the bow in the back.  This hides some of the 'formal' side of it and keeps with the black and white theme.

My mom brought over a red wig that is incredibly awesome!  My coworker Rita gave me a white mask and I decked it out with rhinestones to recreate one of Gaga's looks.  I created a large rhinestone treble clef on the front of my dress tonight.  Tomorrow I'll be adding notes to the train in rhinestones. I also used some bright pink leotard fabric from when I made Riley a new leotard and used it as a backing behind the criss-cross white pattern.  That way I can actually wear a bra and I don't have to use a special one that's not as comfortable!

To add rhinestones, I found this video on YouTube that was really helpful!  Got the E6000 glue and it works like a charm!

HOW TO ADD SPARKLE WITH RHINESTONES VIDEO

For the side of one of my straps, I am adding sheet music that is folded like an accordion.  They will be pinned onto the dress to create a large fan of music on that side.

My tights are black with little sparkles everywhere.  But my shoes are wild!!  My shoes are white with a little zipper on the side, about five inches tall with a large wedge in front and stiletto heels in back.  They tie in the front as well and have square rhinestones on the sides.

When I was shopping for the shoes with Jeremy at DSW and putting on these crazy shoes, the saleslady looked at me and said "You liking those?"  I told her what I needed them for and she said "Get those - they are definitely Gaga!"

I'll be curious to see if students even recognize me as I look nothing like myself when it's all on.  Can't wait to do the show on Wednesday!!

May Meal

Another great night of cooking!  We mixed up two recipes that I will definitely make again for the family.  My parents came over to play with the girls, but found that Riley and I were at Hawaiian Falls (a very  spontaneous trip planned as we had dropped Jeremy's car off at Firestone and then walked home; as we walked past H.Falls, Riley asked if we could go so we went home, got changed and went while Julia napped).  They also found Julia still napping.  By the time we got home a little after they had arrived, the house was dark, the rain was almost starting and we were all hungry!

Main Course:  Pineapple-Glazed Chicken with JalapeƱo Salsa (from Epicurious)
I was in charge of the main course this month!  Easy to cook and so incredibly delicious.  A meat thermometer has been the one item that has completely changed our cooking of meats.  Thank you Dad2!!!

Side Dish:  Roasted Vegetable Gnocchi with Spinach Herb Pesto (from Southern Living)
My mom made the most amazing side dish.  And I could actually have this pesto as there were no walnuts.

There were virtually no leftovers except a few slices of red pepper, three pieces of veggies and some rice.  An outstanding meal!

I really love that my mom and I get to create the meal together and cook it together.  I'm pretty impressed with what we're able to do as neither of us considers ourself to be a great cook.  That is changing!  Thinking that we're much more capable than we give ourselves credit.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Meal Ideas

I really enjoy cooking, but always fall back on the same recipes.  Branching out this summer with some new recipe ideas for our combined meals with my parents, meals for our family of four and lunches for the girls and I when we are home.

COMBINED MEALS:  Four adults and two kids.  Looking for great recipes and often use ideas from the book "Bread and Wine" by Shauna Niequist as well as from the website Epicurious.

Epicurious recipes:
1.  Fettucine with peas, asparagus and pancetta
2.  Pineapple-glazed chicken with jalapeno salsa
3.  Roast pork tenderloin with carrot romesco

Bread and Wine Recipes:
1.  Blueberry Crisp (sans walnuts)
2.  Simple Chocolate Mousse 
3.  Salt and Vinegar Potato Salad


Bon Appetit recipes:
1.  Lemon and White Chocolate Strawberry Mousse
2.  Chicken Roulade
3.  Portuguese Baked Eggs


MEALS FOR OUR FAMILY:
1.  Turkey and Spinach Sliders 
2.


SUMMER MEALS FOR THE GIRLS AND I:
Being home means a totally different lifestyle in eating compared to when I'm working.  Meals can be slower and we can have more time.  Breakfasts are often spent in the Taj Mahal upstairs and lunches are somewhat sporadic in their timing - sometimes earlier, sometimes later.  Compared to our 30 minute work lunches and our breakfasts eaten in the car on the way to work, I get really excited to try out new things and enjoy time with our girls!

BREAKFAST:
1.  Healthy Ideas
2.  Hot Oat and Quinoa Cereal
3.  Baked Oatmeal 
4.  Baked Oatmeal II
5.  Cinnamon toast Shapes - use cookie cutters to cut out shapes; sprinkle with butter and cinnamon

LUNCH:
1.  Healthy Protein Shakes
Let's face it - it's sometimes hard to want to eat much of anything when it is over 100 degrees and you've been at the pool all day.  Planning to try some protein shake ideas.  There are SO many varieties!

A.  Purple Shake 
B.  Chunky Monkey
C.  Green Monster Shake
D.  Chia Berry Smoothie
E.  Popeye the Sailor Man Smoothie
F.  Fruit Smoothie
G.  Mixed Berry Smoothie
H.  Peach Banana Smoothie

2.  The Un-Sandwich Wich
We are not sandwich people.  Not that they are bad!  I ate so many my first years of teaching that I just can't stand them anymore.  The occasional grilled cheese with tomato soup is great on a winter day, but other than that, I just don't eat them.  The girls are the same way.  Riley will have a peanut butter and honey sandwich, but grows tired of them quickly.  It makes it hard to find creative lunches, but I'm thinking the Un-Sandwich Wich is the way to go.  Basically, all the parts of the sandwich but not stacked together.

1.  Rolled turkey, salami, chicken or ham
2.  Mustard for dipping
3.  1-2 slices of cheese
4.  1/2 a bagel

3.  Pasta
The girls love basic pasta.  Riley loves it with a special seasoning sauce that Jeremy picked up from a restaurant we absolutely love.  The sauce is black pepper, sea salt and a touch of garlic.  You can make your own as well!


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Jokes

The girls are really into telling jokes these days.  Here are a few that they graced us with at dinner and on our car ride home.


Julia's jokes:
(they have a potty theme in the punch line each time)

Why did the cow drink milk?  Because he pees on his tail.

Why does the cow eat some food?  Because the horseman let him drink it and then he pees on his tail too.

Why did the kite drink milk on the person?  Because he pooped.


Riley's jokes:
(Riley wants you to know that her jokes don't have a potty theme in the punch line each time)

Why did the girl want her tooth out?  Because she couldn't chew!
Her explanation:  Get it?  Because I lost my tooth!

Riley:  Hey Mom, will you not remember me in a year?
Me:  No I won't.
Riley:  Will you not remember me in a month?
Me:  I definitely will not.
Riley:  Will you really not remember me in a day?
Me:  I really won't.
Riley:  Knock, Knock
Me:  Is that you, Riley?
Riley: You already remembered me!

Her explanation of the joke immediately after was "That was the funniest joke I've ever told!  Don't you think so?  I'm good at jokes.  I've got a ton of jokes.  Are you writing this down? (I was typing it into my phone as we were driving and laughing)  Are you going to put this on Facebook?  Because it was really funny.  Don't I tell the funniest jokes?

Why did the girl tell cute jokes to her mom?  Because she knew her mom would put it on Facebook.

Jeremy then farts as soon as we pull into our driveway so Riley starts a new joke:
Why did the Daddy fart in the car?

Jeremy's punchline:  Because he wanted everybody out!


No Words

After the conference ended, I walked out with Tessa and Kacy.  We talked a little as we went and then said goodbye.  I walked to my car and hit the unlock button.  I stopped in front of my car and had to wait a while for the lady next to me to shut her door.

Opened the door and sat down.  I was confused as there was a pacifier in the passenger seat and there were fabric seats (mine are leather).  It took a minute as I took it all in and then looked up to see an older lady looking at me with a strange face.

I called out as I got out of her car "This isn't my car!"

She didn't smile but also didn't look mad as she said "No.  It's my car!"

We figured we must have hit the unlock buttons on our cars at the same time.  My car was one row over in basically the same exact place.

I texted Kacy and couldn't stop laughing about sitting in the lady's car.  I can't imagine what the lady must have been thinking as she watched me get in!!  Ha!

Wide Awake

The past two days have been an awesome experience at the Women's Retreat at church.  So many amazing stories and hearing from God as women spoke.

My favorite speaker was Shauna Niequist.  I've loved all three of her books and was so looking forward to what she was going to say.  Definitely hit home.

The main speaker was Bianca Olthoff and she was amazing as well.

The third speaker was Cheryl Scruggs who has a powerful testimony as well as a daughter named Lauren that wrote the book "Still LoLo."  Can't wait to get that one!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Talent Show

Riley is wanting to be in the Talent Show at school this year.  We have auditions on Tuesday.  She was planning to play a piano piece that she has prepared for her piano recital;  then decided that she could do her gymnastics routine;  now she is wanting to sing a song.  I should back up...

We read the Bible as we always do every night, but some nights seem more full of God's Spirit and His Word speaking than others.  We were reading the story of Jesus getting baptized by John.  It talked about the Holy Spirit and Riley wasn't sure exactly what that was.  I talked to her about how there are three parts to God:  Holy Spirit, God the Father and Jesus.  That each of them play a role in our lives kind of like how we play different roles (sister, daughter, gymnast, athlete, singer, etc...).  Talked about how we can't see God's Holy Spirit just like we can't see Jesus, but He sent His Spirit to be with us and to speak to us in our minds and our hearts.  When we sense what is right and what is wrong, that is God speaking to us.

We also got on the subject of how there are other gods in this world.  I like to be really honest with her about our faith and why we choose to worship Jesus as there are so many other religions and beliefs and gods in the world - so why Jesus?  I shared about how some gods are statues and people worship the statues that can do absolutely nothing for them.  They are not real.  Yet some believe they are.  I went into more detail about what I know about Buddhism from going to Thailand.

She had a lot of questions about Satan and if Satan was a God.  Why do people want to be like him?  Is he a spirit or a god too?

When it came time to pray, she asked that we pray for Satan to go away forever and for God to do away with Him.  I shared about how when Jesus comes back, we will be a part of his army and will fight Satan and evil.  That Satan will not win; Jesus will.  And Satan will be locked up and away forever.

Back to the Talent Show -

We have been listening to Kari Jobe's new worship cd "Majestic" every morning on the way to school and every afternoon on the way home.  We sing along and it's awesome.  After we dropped off Julia, Riley asked:

"Mom, I'm thinking that I'd like to sing a song for the Talent Show.  Could I sing a song about Jesus? Because I try to tell everyone about Him so they will believe."

My response with teary eyes was "Of course!"

She continued with "I want them to know Jesus.  He's not like a statue that doesn't do anything for you."

Riley said several other very gentle and Spirit-filled thoughts that I really wish I could remember.  In the end, what I do remember is how strong her belief in Jesus is at the age of seven.  I can only pray that she continues to believe and trust and see that Jesus truly is real.  And why He is our God.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Kisses From Katie: An Awesome Book!!!!

Author:  Katie J. Davis
Pages:  304
Her blog: www.kissesfromkatie.com
Her ministry:  http://amazima.org
How to support her ministry:  Donate

This book was truly one of my favorites.  I am so inspired by her decision to follow Christ whole-heartedly and to truly care for the sick, poor, hurting and needy children and people in Uganda.  The book made me want to go adopt a child or two as I read about the children’s living situations.  I mentioned it to Jeremy and he said he didn’t have that same calling.  Thinking that if God truly wants us to do that at some point, He’ll work on Jeremy’s heart on that.   For now, we can at least help support her ministry.

If we can’t adopt at the moment, then I really want to go to her blog and donate to her organization called Amazima.  http://amazima.org

If you’re looking for a place where God can use your resources and your love, this is a great organization to donate.  There is a choice to donate or to support a particular child.  Jeremy and I support a little girl in The Philippines through Compassion International.  I’m excited to support another girl in Uganda!  It’s amazing how little money it costs to change a child’s life.  Seriously.  $25 can sponsor a child each month – that’s only $300 a year.

Carry On Warrior

Author:  Glennon Doyle Melton
Pages: 320
Buy It Here:  Amazon
Her Website:  www.Momastery.com
Her Ted Talk:  YouTube


Wow.  I'm so loving all of these books this year.  This one was one of my favorites of all time!!  I love her story and how incredibly real she is.  I love that she made me laugh so many times as I read the book.  And how she really made me think about what it must be like to have gone through all she went through with her addictions, disorders and her life.  Though everything was always brought back around to seeing the good.  Seeing the God within you and others.  On this point, I have a different perspective.

I do look for the good in others and desire to do 'good' myself.  However, I know who my God is and that is Jesus Christ.  I know that He died for me and that He is coming again.  She makes more vague references to God being a female and spirit and I don't agree with those views.  However, it didn't ruin the book for me.  I loved it.  Loved it!

Go buy this book!!!!  Seriously - I'd be surprised if you didn't love it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Difficult Things

"Phew!  That was a small poo for such a hard push."  Thank you Riley for such a great description.


Julia's First Boyfriend

Jeremy picked up Julia from school yesterday and they had a really sweet heart-to-heart talk as they rode home.  He stopped to get her dinner and texted me the convo so he wouldn't forget.

Julia:  Daddy, I have a boyfriend.

Jeremy:  Oh, you do?

Julia:  Yes.  His name is Ian.

Jeremy:  Oh.  Ok.

Julia:  Yeah, I play with Rodriguez a little bit and with Ian a lot.... (long pause)... Daddy can I marry him?

Jeremy:  We'll have to see.

Julia:  Maybe when I'm older.

Jeremy:  The nice thing is that you have a lot of time to decide.

Julia:  Yeah.  Like when I'm ten.  Or nine.  I could marry him.

Jeremy:  Oh?

Julia:  Yeah.  Then I will be old enough.  Ten or nine.  Yeah.  That's good.

Knock Knock

Riley came to me to tell a joke and asked "Mom, will you remember me in a year?"

I replied "Yes, of course!"

Riley then smiles and says "Knock Knock!"

I say "Who's there?"

She laughs and says "You forgot me already!"

The four of us giggled.  Then she turned to Julia to do the joke again.

Riley:  Julia will you remember me in a year?

Julia:  Yes.

Riley:  Knock, Knock!

Julia:  (slight pause)  Rile!!

We all laugh as she completely gets the joke.  And not only that but turns it around to prove that she got it.

The girls kept going back and forth sharing the joke for a while.  Jeremy showed them how to elongate the joke by adding more questions like "Will you remember me in a day?  Will you remember me in an hour?"  The girls kept laughing over and over.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

American Girl Doll Party Ideas

Here are the websites and information for all of the fun party items that we created for Riley's birthday party:

1.  DIY American Girl Doll Beds

2.  Bedding and Pillows
I measured a current set that we had here at home and then created a pattern to make them.

3.  Crochet Doll Hat

4.  Pillowcase Dress

5.  Life-size American Girl Photo Prop Box

6.  Decorations




Saturday, May 10, 2014

Official Party News

Well, we've almost done it!  It's just after seven pm and the girls are all calm, lying on pillows in the living room and watching Despicable Me 2.  We had moments of quiet, moments of crazy loud and moments of just fun play time.

The decorating was a lot of fun for Riley's party.  I tried a balloon thing on our dining room light.  Turned out well for the first time doing it!  Going to experiment a few more times as we have more parties.  My dad brought place mats and signs that the designer at his work created just for Riley.  Some of the girls wanted to take their place mats home with them.  They were very special and fun!










The girls came starting around 3pm.  They loved the perler bead time and the Wii when they first arrived. They trickled in over about an hour which was great.  They all got along - not one argument all night!!




They enjoyed choosing numbers to figure out which bed was theirs.  Earlier in the party they were looking it all over and talking about which one they were hoping to get.  None of the girls argued about them and they all seemed quite happy with their party favor.




The girls picked out a number from a jar that matched a number on one of the bed sets that were laid out.  They then stuffed their pillows.  We went upstairs where I helped them each sew their pillow on the sewing machine.  Each girl directed the fabric under the needle and foot as it was sewn.





Of course there has to be something that goes wrong.  We have yet to have a party at our house without something happening.  Thankfully it wasn't an overflowing toilet this time!  The girls wanted to look out the dining room window and pulled the curtain rod out of the wall.  Let me tell you how incredibly thrilled Jeremy is about that!

They ate Chick-Fil-A nuggets and some other foods for dinner.  They were so incredibly quiet - very hungry I think!



Riley then opened her presents.  She got really thoughtful gifts and a wide variety of things that she will have fun using.  One of the girls told her that another girl's present was one that had been given to the girl and she had never opened it so she gave it to Riley.  Thought that was awesome!  And it ended up being one of Riley's favorites.  :)




Dessert was a hit with brownies made by my dad and ice cream.  Some of the girls brought pjs to change into for movie time.  Riley chose Despicable Me 2 and they all got comfy in the living room.  Some of the girls were still hungry so they ate strawberries and bananas.






Overall the girls were truly very well-behaved.  One of the benefits was that the house was thoroughly cleaned before hand and as each event finished, we cleaned up as we went so there is virtually nothing left to do except vacuum!  Thankful for that!

I asked Riley what she thought of her party and she said it was great.  All while holding her thumbs up.  Hoping it was a memorable and special day for her!

Life-Size American Girl Doll Box


I found several posts on how to create an American Girl Doll box that girls can use for either Halloween or at parties.  There were several great ideas.  I didn't have some of the supplies that others used so I used what we had and made it my own.

We had just purchased a small shelf unit from Ikea (similar to Expedit, but blue with four squares) to put in Riley's room next to her bed.  The box was the perfect size to make a fun party photo prop for Riley's party.

I figured out where we needed a hole for their faces and then drew a large circle around the bottom of a bowl to make it large enough for it work.  Then cut it.

I laid it outside in the garage on top of another large piece of cardboard.  I had never used Rust-oleum before and really loved it!!  I sprayed several coats within a few minutes of each other.  I tried to spray somewhat lightly so it wouldn't run.

Rust-oleum rocks!



The sprayed box
After it had dried, I took an oversized American Girl Doll Bag that we had from when we recently purchased Julia's new doll.  I cut it into strips.


Three large strips.  The bottom has a fold in it.
I used the portion with the words on it and hot glued it across the box.  I cut it so it would fit correctly and the white duct tape for the sides would cover where it was.


Once that was done, I added white duct tape along the sides and around the circle.







Once that was done, I used the remainder of the AG bag to create stars for the sides of the box.  I used a cookie cutter as it was all I had to make sure they were the same size!


There is always one white star so I simply
turned the star over as the inside of the bag
is white.
Once that was done, the girls tested it out!



Riley's Seven Year Old Birthday Party

Today has been long anticipated!  Riley has invited her friends over for her seventh birthday party.  Each girl is bringing their favorite doll and their pjs.  It's not a sleepover, but we will be ending the party with a movie and popcorn.  And nothing is better than wearing your pjs while doing that!

It will be five hours of crazy girl screaming, high pitched voices and hopefully tons and tons of smiles.  I guess you could call it an American Girl Doll Party.  The party favors are all for their dolls and we have a life-size American Girl Doll box for each of the girls to pose in.  I created it based off of other posts that I had seen.

I like to lesson plan birthday parties.  Keep it organized, but also flexible so that it's not completely like a classroom.  Here is the plan for the afternoon:

3pm:  Guests arrive.  Pjs go in Riley's room.  Girls get to choose from making perler bead creations, coloring pages and puzzles, playing upstairs in the playroom (dolls/barbies/whatever) or playing the Wii.  This will last for almost two hours.

4:45pm:  Wash hands and find their dinner seats.

5pm:  Dinnertime!  Chik-Fil-a chicken nuggets, chips (healthy ones!), crackers, bananas, strawberries.

6pm:  (Roughly)  Riley opens her presents.  She's excited about doing this with friends because she didn't get to do it last year at her gymnastics party.  Opened the presents at home with just family and this year she really wanted to do it with her friends.

6:30pm:  (again, somewhere around there)  Ice cream - choose from Blue Bell Chocolate or Vanilla with berries and bananas if they want some fruit;  brownies made by my Dad and Ghirardelli (the best ever)

7:00pm:  (or around there)  Girls get into pjs, find a spot in the living room and watch a movie that Riley will choose.  She has yet to tell us which one she wants so we'll see what she's in the mood for later on.

8:00pm:  Moms and Dads come to pick up their girls.  Hopefully lots of smiles and plenty of "Already???"

Friday, May 9, 2014

Get It Together

The girls were arguing often this afternoon.  I'm sure that part of it was due to the fact that I had a very tough day at work - kids were bonkers, rude to each other and myself, horrible attitudes - made for a long day.  I then took them to Target to shop for cups/plates/party things for Riley's party tomorrow.  Wow - that was hard.

In fact, the girls were arguing in the paper plate aisle and I just asked them calmly to please do their best to make this trip as peaceful as possible - they were pushing every limit and they were on every one of my nerves.  A lady calmly turned around and said "I have a five month old girl.  I guess this is what I have to look forward to when she gets older?"

I smiled and said "Only if you take them to Target after work on a Friday.  This is not the ideal time to take them, but it's the only time we have to do it this weekend - no dinner yet, they're tired and it's Friday.  They are better on other days."  I just smiled again and she laughed and went on.

We get home and they're doing the "hi - I'm your best friend now" and a minute later it's the "I am so mad at you right now, Julia" phase and then a minute later "Fine!  I'm not your friend, Riley!"  Ahhh...

We told the girls that they would not get to watch their show tonight before bed (they always watch Olivia).  Asked the girls to go upstairs and get their pjs on.  Julia just wanted to get her princess piggy bank so we could count her money to see if she can buy a little American Girl doll (the 'cheap' (ha!) $24 mini-version).

They finally got their pjs on and came downstairs.

Julia gets to the bottom step and states "Ok - I got it together.  You got it together now, Riley?  I got it together."

She turns to Jeremy to tell him "I talked to God upstairs."

Riley interrupts with "You talked to God upstairs??"

Jeremy tells her to let Julia finish.  Julia continues with "I talked to God upstairs and told Him that I will get it together.  So!  I get it together."

Riley also announces that she now has it together too.

Jeremy starts to smirk and says he needs to talk to me so they can go in the front room to play with balloons.  (Balloons... that's another post.  Truly hate them.  And I'm sure that's insensitive and sad, but I truly do)  We loved that she used our phrase and talked to God.  Apparently we tell them to 'get it together' a lot.

Kids truly are a mirror of yourself.  And it's kind of scary sometimes.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Giggles


Julia laughed in her sleep last night.  It was so incredibly cute.  Several times after she came in to sleep next to me, she started to giggle and laugh.  Then huffed a few times and then giggled.  It was so cute.

Hamburgers

Riley told me yesterday that she wanted to get a happy meal at McD's.  I never go there and she's only been there a handful of times at the most.  Totally fine is someone takes her - doesn't bother me at all!  I just don't like to eat there so I don't take her there.  I digress.

She explained that she loves their hamburgers with only ketchup.  I told her that was cool.  She further explained:

"I love hamburgers.  But only with the ham and ketchup on it."

I don't have the heart to explain that she's eating cow meat.  She loves animals so much and I'm not sure she'd want to eat it if I told her.  Jeremy tried to explain to her what the meat was that she was eating at dinner one night.  "Chicken - you know the animal - that's what that is..."  I quickly gave him the eye as Riley was trying to identify that the food and the animal are the same.  She was confused.  We just barely won the war on her actually eating meat.  We feed her safe and healthy meat so I'm not ready to explain the "hey - this dead thing on your plate used to be that thing be-gawking on the farm."

For now, it's just best to eat our ham and ketchup and let that be what it is.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Godiva

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week at school.  Several students brought me cards and one brought me a box of Godiva Chocolates.  They looked delicious so I ate all four of them - in one sitting.  I broke them all in half to check the insides for nuts like I always do.  As soon as I finished them, I felt itchy but didn't notice it badly and figured that there wasn't anything crunchy in them so I must be fine.

I did the MMX - Mixed Martial Arts - workout for P90x3 tonight and felt as if my hands were swollen and rubbed raw.  Assumed it was due to doing lots of sprawls.  Though I have done the workout several times and had no reaction.  Then the hives started to appear.  Everywhere.  It has been several hours and I want to claw my skin and destroy the itching that has overtaken my body from head to toe.  At the moment, my torso is beyond excruciatingly itchy and it's all I can do to not scratch.

Went to the Godiva website and sure enough - one of the small chocolates (only one!) - had pralines in it, but they are creamy pralines and I wouldn't have noticed as it was so smooth and there weren't pieces of it in them.  Sure enough - I'm having an allergic reaction to the nuts.  The chocolate was literally an inch by an inch and the inside was smooth, but not large.

I took two benadryl, but am waiting for them to take more effect.  My hands are less swollen and my arms are less itchy than they were.  My poor legs are scratched up from having a hard time holding back itching them.  I told Jeremy that this must be what it is like to be on drugs that make you feel like you have things crawling on you.  Oh. My. Word. This. Itches. So. Bad.

My dad had asked me a few days or so ago if I was still allergic to nuts.  I told him I was sure I was as I'd had reactions even in the last few years to point to that.  Tonight is one of those times.  Yes, Dad - I am still very very very much allergic to nuts.  Thankful that I'm able to breathe and not having any asthma attacks or panic attacks with it.  Thinking that I panicked when I was younger which caused more problems.

Tonight I had Riley read to me to get my mind off of it and that way she did her homework at the same time.  Praying the benadryl comes into play more and more and that I can get to bed soon before causing marks all over my arms and legs due to itching so badly.  It stinks to be this allergic to something so small.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Happiness Project

Author:  Gretchen Rubin
Pages:  292
Where to buy:  Amazon
Her blog:  http://www.gretchenrubin.com


Really fun read.  I love how she broke her goals down each month into things that were measurable and fairly easy to attempt.  Each month Gretchen focused on a specific area like marriage, work, parenthood, leisure, and friendship.  Within those areas, she chose a few goals or mantras to help focus her attempts at bringing happiness into her life.

As she planned her resolutions, certain principles kept emerging so she arrived at her personal 12 Commandments.  Number one was to Be Gretchen.  To be who she was and be true to who she is.  I love that.

She also came up with a list of Secrets of Adulthood that were lessons she had gone through and embraced.  Including:
People don't notice your mistakes as much as you think.
Do good, feel good.
Bring a sweater.  (I hear you on that one!)
What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.
Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
What's fun for other people may not be fun for you - and vice versa.

The one quote that stuck with me from the book is by G.K.Chesterton.  "It's easy to be heavy; hard to be light."  I love that because it is so true that it's easier to be negative instead of positive.  People enjoy commiserating together and often try to pull others down who have more of a positive outlook. Definitely going to try to be more light than heavy.

Another was "The days are long, but the years are short."  So true.

Here were some of the goals:

January:  Vitality - Boost Energy
- go to sleep earlier
- exercise better
- Toss, restore, reorganize
- Tackle a nagging task
- Act more energetic

March:  Work - Aim Higher
- Launch a blog
- Enjoy the fun of failure
- Ask for help
- Work smart
- Enjoy now

September: Books - Pursue a Passion
- Write a novel
- Make time
- Forget about results
- Master a new technology


Ideas for Christmas/Next Year/Goals for 2015

I love to make goals and see them happen.  Sometimes I have ideas that I want to remember and then don't.  So I'm going to add on to this post whenever something comes to mind so I can refer back to it.

1 - From Gretchen Rubin:  Write a book in a month.  Or even just write a book at all.  This is something I've always wanted to do.

2 - Memorize scripture.  Will ask Ashley Paukovitz more about how she did this as that as this is one of her goals this year.

3 - Use www.lulu.com and create memory books for the girls from the blog.  Riley is constantly asking for stories of when she was younger and I can't always remember them.  Getting them memory books for Christmas would be fun!

4 - Get a Vitamix and make shakes (healthy ones).

5 - Make Christmas more about things to do than things to get.  Experiences and not things.  (Ideas:  TopGolf night out, movies, dinners out with the girls, working in the yard to plant flowers, go on weekend trips to Austin/San Antonio/Oklahoma/Lousiana/Arkansas, Dallas Arboretum, Nasher Sculpture Center which is free the first Saturday of every month starting this month)  They don't need more things.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

How I Get It All Done (or Don't)

Today a friend texted me asking for advice.  Her text is as follows:

"I was wondering if you would share your schedule with me how you juggle kids' schedules, house stuff, work, piano lessons, etc... trying to get ideas of how to do this and you seem to have it altogether."

Wow.  I definitely love to think I have it altogether and I definitely don't.  I always like to present myself as being 'with it.' I like my house clean, my students well-behaved, my children well-behaved, my body in shape, my mind keen and sharp from learning and knowledge and so on.  But I know that I am far from perfect.

I don't have a particular schedule or a routine of when I do certain tasks for most items.  As I've written more down below, I've realized that we are incredibly scheduled and routine based. I do have things that I do that help us stay organized and help me juggle my roles of:
- teaching elementary music full-time
- piano studio of 19 students
- studying for a music history/theory exam for SMU Graduate school and soon to be attending there in the fall
- Riley's gymnastics competition schedule and Level Two schedule at gymnastics
- Julia's daycare drop-off, pick-up, events, and everyday things needed while she's there
- housework: laundry, dusting, cleaning, vacuuming, cooking, laundry, laundry, laundry
- mom
- wife

I asked Jeremy for help in exactly what it is that I do to juggle life.  His response:  "You work all the time.  You never stop.  You naturally break down big things into bite-size chunks.  You have a gift of being able to say what is the smallest part of a big task and then being able to put it into a series of tasks that allows you to get it done."

So dear friend, here are some things I do (WE do - Jeremy and I) that help us juggle life:

1.  One load of laundry every day.
I have tried to save all the laundry for weekends, but then found myself doing 8-10 loads all day on Saturday.  Then putting them all away on Sunday.  Or it would stay in laundry bins for another week while we fished out items that we needed throughout the week.  Didn't work well.

So now I do a load of laundry every night and put it in the dryer.  (Except on Fridays and Saturdays when I do two loads)When morning comes, I fold the laundry and place it in the laundry basket at the base of the stairs.  After we get home, I take it upstairs and put it away at some point that night.

To make it easy to put away, I place items for each person in their own pile.  This way I can pick up Julia's pile and put all of her items away in her room.  Towels always go on the bottom as they are the easiest to put away.

Another thing that makes it easy to put away is that every drawer is designated to certain clothes in each person's room.  For example, Riley has a drawer specific for leotards; one drawer for pjs; one for leggings. And other drawers for shirts, panties, socks and sweaters. Clothes are hung in the closet by color for shirts; there is also a section for dresses, skirts and pants.  They are all organized by color as well.

2.  Prep for tomorrow today.
All school clothes, breakfast food and school materials are set out the night before.  We go through school bags, sign papers, put together lunches (even for Jeremy and myself), fill water bottles, set out daycare bedding/pillows/blankets, and any projects that are going to be taken to school.  We set them all by the back door next to the garage.

All clothes are picked out the night before.  Julia wears a uniform every day, but we still set out her outfit the night before.  I even set out my clothes as well.  Jeremy doesn't usually but he wears a standard outfit and the most variation is what striped button-down shirt he'll be wearing.

In the morning, we bring the girls' clothes downstairs and warm them in the dryer for a few minutes as they like them warm in the winter.  For spring and fall, we don't warm them up.  The girls have a routine every morning:
- Potty
- Dress
- Shoes
- Grab their breakfast bowl
- Get in car

Breakfast is usually set out immediately after dinner while the girls go upstairs to put on their clothes.  I then go upstairs to help them plan what to wear (do you have gym tomorrow? Then tennis shoes.  Is it hot? Then no long sleeves.  That kind of thing.)

I play worship music in the morning (and afternoon too) as we drive to school.  Lately it's been Kari Jobe's new album "Majestic."  The girls and I sing on the way to Julia's school and look for certain landmarks to talk about while we go - are there fire trucks?  have they added new walls to the new school?  how many birds do you see?

3.  Little to No TV
We have Netflix and have used it the last 2-3 years.  Love it.  We don't have cable and the girls don't spend hours on their iPads except on Saturdays when we are more lax with it.  They get one show every night.  Usually they choose "Olivia."  But we've watched Babar, Barney (kill me now - sorry if you enjoy it, but we don't), Dora, Caillou (he's banned from our house for how sassy he gets with his parents) and so on.

Jeremy and I rarely watch tv.  We used to watch a few shows, but that's dwindled to none.  Haven't watched a tv show in months - probably back in August of last year was the last time we saw one of our shows.  Though we did start watching the movie "Gravity" and have seen an hour or so in two sessions (or whatever you'd call it... screenings?).  Has been a week now and we still haven't finished it.

4.  Maximizing my time while the girls watch TV
When the girls watch their show at night, there are no commercials and the episodes are generally about 22 minutes long.  Lately I use that time to sit next to them and read a chapter of my Music Textbook for my big test in August.  There are 36 large chapters, tons of information and I know I need to start early on it so I'm reading 2-4 chapters a week.  I started about three weeks ago and I'm on chapter 9.

I still get to sit next to them and will watch occasional parts, but mainly focus on the reading.  Once I'm done reading, I go to the laptop and take a chapter quiz over what I read to make sure I understood the main facts and information.  At this point, their show is usually done.

5.  Spending time with the girls
Each night Jeremy takes a girl and I take a girl.  We switch every night so that the girls get one of us each night.  When it is time to be with them, I'm completely with them.  We read books, do a devotional and talk about Jesus and what we believe.  We pray together every night and lay down with them until they are asleep.  I find that this time is valuable in building our relationship.

6.  Piano students
I have piano students on Tuesdays from 4:00 - 7:30pm, Thursdays from 4:00 - 6:30pm and Saturdays from 8:30am - 11:30am.  Total of 19 students.

To juggle it, I make sure that everything is set out in the morning before I leave - my chair, sharpened pencils, crayons, flashcards.  Riley has gymnastics from 3:30 - 6:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Julia can stay at daycare until 6:30pm.  Jeremy picks her up around 6pm, gets Sonic for the girls and then picks up Riley at gymnastics.  They get home and eat dinner while I teach my last lesson on Tuesdays.  I grab dinner after the last lesson and then do showers for the girls after I eat.  Tuesdays and Thursdays are late nights.

On Saturdays, Jeremy hangs out with the girls upstairs in our room or the playroom.  Once piano students are done, I take the girls for the afternoon so he can go to work.  He has a big project so every Saturday he's been needing to go into work.

We work the times for piano students around the gymnastics schedule so that the girls are not home when I'm teaching.  Better for everyone involved!

7.  Use my planning time wisely
I realize that not every teacher can get work done on their planning time.  I'm fortunate that I can.  My planning time is actually for planning 95% of the time.  And it matters.  I focus on a month at a time to get together project ideas for grade levels, performance preparations about 6 weeks ahead of the actual performance date and breaking down Orff lessons into several class periods so I know when to start/how to start/where I am wanting to take them (or where they will take me!).

Before I leave for the day, everything is where it needs to be in my room.  I don't set up in the mornings before school as I have morning duty.  My planning is first thing in the morning, but I don't want to be setting up during planning time; I want to be planning.  And planning for the next few days or next week, but not today if I can help it.

If I'm using instruments first thing in the morning, I move the instruments where I want them so that when I walk in the room, they are all ready to be played.

All of my Smartboard lessons are in specific files such as "April 2014 Lessons."  This way I don't have to fish around for the files.  Everything I need is right there.  As we add new songs or materials that I need, I put them in there so I can open that file every morning and it's all there.

Another thing I do is email myself. A lot.  I email website links for lesson plans and ideas or pinterest ideas to watch and do.  I link them at home as I'm seeing them and then reread them in the morning.

I set aside Friday afternoons to work late.  I usually stay at school until 5:30 - 6:00pm.  Again, lots of teachers stay this late many nights.  With my Orff group or Choir every Monday after school, piano lessons on Tues/Thurs and teacher meetings on Wed., it only leaves Friday for me to work.  The best part is that the week is complete, I know what we've accomplished that week and I can wrap my brain around everything I need to do the following week to see it all get prepared and done.

Riley has told me a few times that it's such special time together because she takes paper, scissors, and anything else we have on hand to make creations while I get work done.  We'll turn on music and she'll dance or we'll sing.  I try to keep it positive and to get as much ready for the following week as I can.

I also make copies one day a week of everything I need for the following week.  I don't make tons of copies, but when I need them, I need an entire grade level worth.  I will spend a good 30-40 minutes just prepping for that.

8.  Sub Plans
I have a huge sub tub ready in case I'm out.  Has alleviated tons of pressure and worry about not having it ready when my kids get sick.  It's highly organized with a binder, tabs, sub plans and details.  Will show you sometime!  It has been a life-saver since making it this year.  Anytime I've had a sub (like I did this past week when Riley was sick), the first thing I do when I return back to work is to check over what was used and replace it with new items (worksheet copies of things we are now doing/song pages/etc.).  That way it's always ready and I don't have to think about it when I am not able to come in.

9.  Vacuuming and Dusting
I hate dusting.  It honestly doesn't get done as much as it should.  I try to work it in when I have just a few minutes left before something else.  Quite random about that one.  I vacuum once a week because Saturday morning at 7:30am is the best time to wake everyone else up (except Julia who wakes up at 6am every day!).  So I vacuum every Saturday as it gets us all going and cleans the floors.

10.  Pray
I spend time with God and ask Him for wisdom and peace.  I know I can't do anything without Him and that I need Him more than anything.

11. Rely on Jeremy and work as a team
We do a lot of passing the baton here.  I'll take Julia to school; He'll pick her up; I'll do the shower; He'll dry her hair with a towel; I'll get her dressed; He'll make the eggos; He'll brush her teeth; I'll read her the books and put her down.

I rely on Jeremy and he relies on me.  We don't often spend much time talking to each other unless we plan date nights (which we do).  Otherwise we just do the best we can on weeknights to find time together.  For example, tonight Riley is at my parents house and Julia didn't take a nap so it's 9:06 and I'm finally downstairs after putting her to bed.  He's reading a book and I'm typing, but we're hanging out together and just laughing and talking while we do it.

12.  Gymnastics and Dance
Julia takes dance and a gym class during the day at her daycare.  She brings her dance things to school and has class every Tuesday.  We're fortunate that we don't have to take her anywhere after school, but she still gets to do an extra activity.  The gym class is for fun on Fridays called Stretch-n-Grow.  She loves it.

Riley's gymnastics is on Tues/Thurs/Sat so I just schedule piano students during those days as she is gone and Julia is at daycare.  Jeremy picks them both us.

I don't drive Riley to gymnastics on Tues/Thurs because the gymnastics facility sends a van around to the schools to pick up the team kids.  We pay for her to be picked up and it gives me some time after school to get prepped and ready for the next day.

13.  Working Out
On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I workout as soon as I pick up the girls from school.  They have their afternoon snack and wind-down play time for 30 minutes while I workout.  I take a shower every night after I workout; then head downstairs to start dinner, laundry and start Riley on her homework while Julia colors or plays with playdoh or does her own version of homework.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I either workout late at night after lessons or don't workout.  This past month had some cancellations so I was able to workout before Jeremy and the girls got home.  On weekends, I workout in the mornings after piano lessons or church and before lunch.  It seems that this helps everyone else out as they are usually on iPads or playing in the mornings.  Gives us the afternoons for family time.

14.  Shower at Night
I take showers at night.  My hair is then dry and I can simply style and flat-iron it in the morning with my Chi.  Sometimes I wake up hot in the morning and will step in the shower but not wash my hair.  But it's so nice to have my hair dry in the morning so I can just style and not have to wash and dry and style it.  Saves time!

15.  Ask for Help
I often ask my really amazing friend for help and advice.  She is the counselor at our school and has a wealth of knowledge.  She's out of my situation and can see it from a different viewpoint.  There are so many times that she has impacted our lives positively and helped our family to work through hard situations.   Everything from how to figure out why Julia is screaming about socks every morning to helping Riley to be kind but not be a rescuer and how to make time for each other.

I also have the blessing of having my parents close by and they are a total God-send that live 10 minutes away.  That's not to be discounted either.














May Spending

May 4 -
Dillards - cute Disney Minnie Mouse tshirt and skirt for Julia - total: $15.46
Dillards - brown leggings and adorable Chelsea and Violet top for me - total:  $45.04
Loft - Mother's Day gift for my mom and skirt for me - total:  $38.95
TOTAL: $99.45

Not much left for the month...
Trying to justify my spending by adding adjectives such as "cute" and "adorable."  :)

May 17 -
bathing suits for the girls and myself, sunblock
TOTAL:  $150

May 20 -
Rodan and Fields Products (Sunless Tanner, lip balm, cream, lotion)
TOTAL: $115

May 23 -
Old Navy - tons of shorts, skirts and tank tops for the girls for the summer (half off and only $4 each!) and a denim dress for $9.99 for me
TOTAL:  $142.34

Michaels - glue E6000, rhinestones, wire
TOTAL:  $17

May 24 -
Gaga shoes (white 5" stiletto heels with platform in the front; square rhinestone on funky white shoes with zipper on the side and ties in the front) - $30
Tights - $2.99
Nike Trainer Shoes - $54

May 28 -
Dance recital tights for Julia - $9
Dance registration for Riley for the summer - $20
Leotard and tights for Riley for ballet and hip hop - $42

May 30 -
present for Faith - $21

May 31 -
Piano awards arrive at our home that I ordered a week ago - trophies, ribbons, medals - $84

I spent more than $150 this month.  Enough said.


Friday, May 2, 2014

Riley Turns Seven

Riley had a very exciting day today for her seventh birthday.  It was Field Day at school!  She got to bring cookies for her class.  (Shhh... don't tell, but they were supposed to be for Volunteer Lunch, but we were home due to her sickness so I had them all ready...store bought actually.  Just worked to bring them for her birthday!)

When we woke the girls up, Riley came downstairs to find three presents on the fireplace:
- a spirograph set
- colored pencils
- diary with a lock and key

She told me later "This is the best birthday ever!!"

For dinner, Riley chose the restaurant and immediately chose Cheesecake Factory.  She was super excited about it until she realized that Julia got a plate with chocolate writing on it at Maggiano's.  She mentioned it and we told her that she still made a great choice.  When the waiter brought the cheesecake that Riley chose, the plate had chocolate icing on it.  Riley was ecstatic - and then they sang to her which made her excited too.

So thankful for such an amazing girl!  Happy birthday Riley!

Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Author: Douglas Adams
Pages: 224
Buy it here:  Amazon

This was definitely a change from my normal reading.  However every review I read said it was funny and it really was.  It was quite random with some really great lines.

There was still 30% of the book left when it ended on my Kindle so I was quite surprised to see that it was over!  Turns out there was a whole section about how it finally became a movie.  Curious to see that now that I've read the book.

A fun sci-fi read and clever.