Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Country Song

I told Jeremy that I was going to work on writing a country song that lists our woes and celebrates our joys in our new home.  Thinking of a melody.  Some of the lyrics might go something like this:

Traveled less than 30 miles to a new and smaller home
Fresh paint, new carpet, rid of so much junk and dreams for where we'd go
Three months in and burglars took our electronics but left all of our tvs
Now a huge camera system has got our back so that we can just be
living in...

Dallas - we sure love you
Big trees, big leaves, big yard
Dallas - you're our favorite
wild winds, big rains, green grass
The power flickers and the lightbulbs burn out quick
The water costs in the city sure make our stomachs turn sick
But Dallas -
you're home now for us

The hardwood floors were perfect for a few months until they buckled up so bad
Not only can we not go upstairs, but the wall in the living room is compressing, so sad...
Foundation companies came to tell us their measurements aren't wrecked
"It's definitely not foundation - better get check your sewer lines checked"

Dallas - we sure love you
Deep puddles, water pressure, pinched floors
Dallas - you're our favorite
Three earthquakes in only six months (small ones)
The house does shake, the roof is covered in leaves
We're so thankful Alejandro and team are the one who cleans
But Dallas -
you're home now for us

A lady's walking by the house and says she's looking for a school
Tells me to ask my neighbor as she's a babysitter who's too tired to
Few weeks later a hooded man comes out of the dark as I'm walking the dog in the rain
I kick off my flip flops and run for my life as he doesn't seem real sane

Dallas - we sure love you
Friendly people, busy streets
Dallas - you're our favorite
These are only minor things
We have no doubt we're in the right place and God has given us so much grace
Oh Dallas -
you're home now for us.

Riley's Words

Riley's insight this morning:

"What's a good job where you don't have to work with people?  Cause I don't like working with people...

What I mean is that I don't like working with mean people who try to boss around.

I'm weird.  I like school.  No other kids like school."

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Goal Setting

Beginnings of goals for 2016
This is simply a think-page for some ideas towards next year's goals.

1) Free Goal Setting and Weekly Planning Worksheets - Click here
- love this free website!
- utilize these forms to create goals for the new year

2) Changing Current Habits
- spending less money on clothing
- spending more time with family
- spending less time on Facebook and social media
- spending more time relaxing and reading (finding ways to relax that I enjoy!)

3) Building New
- Composing pieces for my classroom (using bars/drums/UPP)
- how to play harpsichord
- how to play basic drum set

4) Spiritual
- Purposeful scripture memorization
- Engage with others at church in small groups/worship team
- Women's bible studies

5) Health
- More rest
- More time doing what I love
- Exercising
- Eating more vegetables

6) Teaching
- Graduate Studies at SMU
- Attend NAOSA Workshops
- Lead a workshop this year in the area
- Work towards Orff Certification
- Kodaly Level II at SMU this summer

7) Vacation
- take time for family at least one time this year
- all four of us together

8) Reading
- Top 16 books for 2016 (5 classics/5 educational/6 fun)
- something I love to do

9) Marriage
- Date nights
- Plan for them and do them once a month at least


Julia:  I really like the mailman.  You know why?

Me:  Why?

Julia:  Because he works with Santa!

Smarty Pants

The girls have been at one another all week.  Arguments include subjects such as you have more time with mom than I do, I was standing on this side first, you're a meany, make me, I like the green bowl better, that's my favorite chair to sit in during dinner and other various exciting and highly meaningful conversations.  Though the one about time with me is important.  Just no need to argue about the comparison of time with them when it's spent so differently with each girl.

I tried a variety of wonderful parenting tricks.  None of them seemed to work.  Last night I sat them down and we talked about expectations for today.  Riley is still recovering from her nasty sickness that just keeps hanging on.  She's not getting enough rest as she's up coughing constantly and isn't hungry.  No sleep + no food = grouchy girl.

So we had a conversation about her choices.

Me:  So I can see Julia is irritating you.

Riley:  (grumpily) Yea

Me:  Let's think through some options you have when you feel really mad at her.  Options other than giving mean looks, hitting her, things like that.

Riley:  (rolling eyes) Okay

Me:  Can you think of something that would be a good choice to do when you feel this way?

Riley:  Not really

Me:  Do you have any ideas of what you could do?

Riley:  No, but I'm sure you're going to tell me what I can do.

Instant laughter ensued as I did have a few ideas to share.  We laughed together about how she knew I had things to say.  She then talked about how she's so smart to think of that.  We laughed a lot.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Update on Jim

Rana texted me today:

Hey!  Just wanted to update you with the latest we've heard on Jim.  Our contact says he's heard from several people in response to the posters we put out.  Supposedly, Jim is  living in a tent city near a church.  Someone who saw a poster must have talked to him and told our pastor friend that Jim was a little reluctant to talk.  He may be wary that there were posters out looking for him... understandable. Anyway, we have another good friend who is going into the tent cities Christmas Eve, and we are talking him to look out for Jim.  Ryan also has plans to go out himself when he can get it worked out with someone who knows the area to go with him.  Fingers crossed!

So thankful for such amazing friends.  Now to continue praying...

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Christmas Shopping

My dad and I did our traditional Christmas Shopping event today.  Spent money on books and a few simple gifts for the girls.  This is one of the best events of every year for me.  I sure do love my Dad and the time together.  Even when it involves long lines, waiting for people to pass a store so we can actually walk into the store and parking far far far away.  The walks to and from are great anyway.  Neither of us actually minds.

12 hours in

As of this semester, I have completed 12 hours of my graduate degree at SMU.  Just received word of our grades tonight and looked online to find that I have maintained my 4.0 GPA.  All A's for the semester.  The amount of work and dedication to studying this semester was incredible.  I had honestly thought at the beginning of the semester that I'd be happy with a B.  And wasn't sure if I could even do that as the course was so challenging.  Dr. Harder was an amazing teacher - pure genius.  He was tough and there was so much work to be done to make sure we covered all the concepts.  I'm so thrilled to have just focused on the tasks at hand and tried to just do my best on every assignment as we went along without looking too far ahead.  It paid off greatly.  All A's... here's to continuing that trend next semester :)


I went to take the dog out yesterday and there was a woman outside who was very lost.  She had her phone out, was stumbling around and looking very very confused.  She called out to me "Where is the school?"  I asked if she was looking for a school (I didn't quite hear her well as her speech was slurred).  She said "No.  Where is the school?"  At this point, I was confused.  I told her we had just moved in (4 months ago but she didn't need to know that) and I didn't know.  She looked completely irritated.

She stood in the middle of the street with her cell phone in her hand and then went to the middle of the intersection of our street and the next street and looked around.  She was talking to herself and then said "Well, do you know anyone who would know where the school is?  This doesn't make sense."

I saw that our neighbors' car was in the driveway so I said we could ask them.

She responded with "You go up and ask them.  Because I'm a babysitter and I'm tired."

I kept my eye on her and she was stumbling more.  Thankful our neighbors were home and they had been watching the interaction through the window (love them!).  He was able to share where the middle school was on the other side of the main street.  She made her way down and I shared what she had told me to do.

Lisa responded with "Did you tell her 'I'm a mom and I'm tired?'"  We laughed.  While a true statement, I was more concerned with whether she was going to pull out a gun than if I should trump her.  I now have a new line to share whenever I don't feel like doing something.


Our dog is neutered!  Our dog is neutered!  All is great with the world!  :)

Except he has the cone of shame and can't quite do what he normally does.  They had to go quite invasive to find his hidden ball (only one dropped) so as a result of a lot of stitches, he has to wear the cone for two weeks so he doesn't mess with them.  He is not a fan of the cone.  Who would be?!  He runs into our legs and plastic hurts.  He goes to sniff the ground only to be jolted when the cone hits the ground first.

He's calmer and we're very happy.  Here's to a peaceful new year with a calm dog!

Sick, Sick, Sick, Neutered, Healthy

Here's our Christmas song at the moment called the Five Days of Christmas:

Five tired Grants
Four hour long naps
Three sick with bronchitis and crud
Two girls sleeping with fevers
And a dog with a cone of shame

Merry Christmas from our healthy home!

No Lunch for You

Julia came home from school and began to cry saying "You didn't pack me a lunch!"  I told her that I had and then remembered.  I had taken her empty lunch box and never opened it from the day before.  I had simply just reattached it to her bag.

When she got to lunch at school and opened it, there was nothing inside.  She cried and was able to go through the lunch line where they served mac n cheese that she hated.

Life lesson #1243534:  When in doubt, open your kids lunchbox in the morning to be sure you actually packed them one.

Life lesson #232432:  Teach my five year old to pack her own lunch.  Then you know for sure that there's something to eat.  ;)

Hope Part III

Because all good stories all told in a trilogy (not true, but just sounds good), I thought I'd start a part III.  Actually the blog posts were getting long so it's easier to read in segments.  Trying to add a little humor... bear with me.

In November this year I went to my alma mater for a Ladies of Lee Reunion.  I met up with my college roommates and spent a lot of time with one of them.  Rana and her husband Ryan are pastors of a church in GA.  We had quite a bit of time to talk on rides to and from the ATL airport.  Rana and I hadn't seen each other in 15 years.  We'd been on Facebook connecting, but not to the depth that is done face to face.  Fifteen years God waited to allow us to reconnect and brought about a piece of restoration for our family as a result of this reunion.

They asked about our family.  I shared how everyone was doing and the topic came to Jim.  I shared that he had been in jail in Savannah.  They live in a suburb of Savannah.  I shared that we were having an incredibly hard time locating Jim.  I mentioned that we thought he might be homeless or dead.  They work with homeless shelters in the area and have a friend who oversees homeless ministry at several areas.  They shared that if we gave them a picture of Jim and a bit of his information they would pass it on.

When I returned from the trip, I sent them a picture and information on Jim.  Truly not sure what they would find if anything and honestly not expecting anything.

I received a text message from Rana on Sunday afternoon telling me:

Hey! We got some info on Jim.  Apparently he is still in the area.  People say they have seen him.  We will follow up and let you guys know!

I contacted her very quickly and we talked.  I imagine it was difficult for her to share and she was incredibly sweet.  The info we found out was hard to hear and yet so reassuring too.  He was alive.  Just that alone was healing to know.  No more worry as to the 'ifs' and questions of if he was alive or not.  We at least had that answer.

She shared that their friend had posted flyers around the area with Jim's picture and information as well as a phone number to call if anyone had seen him.  People had called to report that he frequents the St. Paul church and the food lines at Forsyth Park.  They shared that they hadn't seen him living in the tents.  This was the most difficult part to take in.  He is homeless.

Rana shared that they were in contact with their friend and he posted new flyers around town that we were trying to get in contact with him.  They asked for a message from us so that they could pass the word to Jim when he was found.  Without knowing his mental/physical/addiction state, it was hard to know what message to pass on.  Our family agreed on a simple statement that would allow Jim choices.

So now we wait.  We wait to find out if he is found and gets our message.  We wait to find out if he continues to struggle.  We wait to find out if he is well.

I share our story because there must be other families who have homeless family members that they love and care about.  It is near impossible to find out where they live, any information on their well being.  I have never looked at homeless men and women through the eyes of their families.  After all, all of them must have a relative somewhere.  I'm not saying that rescuing them is the answer.  I'm simply saying that having a homeless relative, especially a brother, makes me wonder how many families have lost touch with their family and have no way to reach them.  And they're wondering where they are with no hope of finding them.

And once you know, what do you do?  Their addiction is their addiction.  They are adults who can't be rescued, but can be cared for.  They can't be simply lifted out of their situations and brought back into a home without restoration, therapy, detox and counseling.  I share our story because I don't have the answers.  I do know that this has been brought about in our lives for a reason yet unknown.  I have hope.  Hope that Jim can be restored to us.  Hope that whether we ever see him again or not, that he can be given a message of love and care from our family.  Hope that others in the homeless church ministries have been serving my brother even when we didn't know where he was.  Hope that God hasn't forgotten him.  And hope that Jim will run to God and find peace.  I have hope that change is still possible while Jim is alive.  For if I don't have hope, then what is there to wish for?  If things can't change, then why even try?  If God is not big enough for this, then my God is not big.  Things may not result the way we hope them to, but hope is worth having.  Job 6:8 "Oh that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for..."

Hope Part II

My parents moved to Texas while I was pregnant with Riley in 2006/2007.  Jim soon moved to Texas as well after finishing college and then living with them in MI.  He worked at Buca Di Beppo as a server and later as a manager.  He dated a girl for a while.  Spent most of the daytime hours either sleeping or working depending on the time.  We didn't see him much and when we did he looked tired and unhappy, but kept a smile on his face and never let us into his world or thoughts.

My parents had difficult talks with him and he opened up about his addiction to pain killers.  He told them that it had started when he was 17 and had torn his ACL.  He began taking just a few pills a day and at one point was taking 10 a day.  This was on top of his alcohol addiction.  There may have been other things as well not shared, but this was what we now knew.  His girlfriend broke up with him, he became more reclusive and a change seemed good.

There was a job opportunity for him to move to GA where he could be manager of a new Buca there. He applied to other restaurants here in Dallas, but nothing opened up.  He took a leap of faith and moved to GA.  While there, life choices were made that opened our eyes to what he was battling.  The restaurant began to get suspicious that someone was stealing from the registers and they hired a private investigator to come in.  Jim was caught feeding his habit through stealing money and was put in jail for a year and a half.  Our communication during this time was very minimal and we found out where he was by searching for him.  Jon was able to get information that he was in jail, which jail and the reason for it.  We were able to send him care packages and mail.  Jim wrote back a few times.  (Just spent time looking for his letters.  Sad to say I think they were in the cash box that the burglars stole... cue tears.)

Jim was detoxed and after jail was going to a halfway house where they'd help to get him on his feet.  He wrote to say that many of the guys had plans to just go right back to their old lives, but that he wasn't planning on that.  He wrote about his faith and told memories he had.  We had hope while also having knowledge that life was challenging in jail to say the least and odds of coming out on top were not favorable.  He shared with us the date that he was due to get out of jail, but never contacted us to let us know he was out.  Jon was able to get the information that he'd been released from jail in June of 2013.

The past few years we have tried to figure out where he was.  His former boss hadn't heard from him. We called his friends and they hadn't heard from him.  We searched jail records online and no sign that he was incarcerated again.  We hadn't been contacted by police and hoped that he was still alive.  It looked near impossible to be able to locate him.  His credit report showed no new activity in terms of housing, jobs, credit or any signs of him being alive.

To be continued (Read blog post titled Hope Part III)

Friday, December 18, 2015


The Bible states that "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  (Hebrews 11:1)  God also tells us that we will go through hard times.  That life isn't always easy.  There is also a quote that has been shared on social media that reminds us that not everything we go through can be seen by others.  Our lives may look perfect, easy, simple when the whole story has not been shared.  Some stories are meant to be known by few.  This time in our family's life is one of trusting through a hard time, having faith that God will do something amazing and we having hope when it seems that there hasn't been much to be had in the past few years.

I am incredibly blessed to have the family that God gave me.  I grew up with a Dad, Mom, and two brothers in a home that was made from a solid foundation, hard working, healthy, spiritual, and as close to "Leave it to Beaver" as you possibly could be with a nuclear family without being perfect.  No family is perfect, but we were well-loved, safe, provided for and never went without.  Definitely set up for being successful, healthy adults.

I'm the oldest of the three J's: Jon is a little less than two years younger than me while Jim is three years younger than Jon.  We got along when we were little.  Come pre-teen years, I wasn't the kindest.  I was arrogant, changing, and felt inadequate so I took it out on Jon.  A lot.  Thankfully we've worked through that stage and are now good friends and have a great relationship.  He's an amazing man, husband and father to his family.  I have much respect for him.

During the growing up years, Jim was always the quiet one.  He sang constantly.  Constantly!  We'd laugh at dinner because he'd go to the bathroom while we were eating and sing at the top of his lungs and then walk back in as though we hadn't heard anything.  He was also the peace keeper.  Jon and I would be arguing about something and Jim would tell our parents.  Or he'd cry and tell us to stop.  He did lock us in our parents shed with neighbor friends, but that was likely his one and only choice that was not the best.  He was always one that could be counted on to give hugs.  He just wanted everything to go well and for there to be peace.  He was also the guy that everyone loved to be around.  He didn't make waves and was there to just be.  He always had a ball in his hand as well - soccer, football, baseball, nerf - didn't matter.  We'd hear lots of clunks and sounds as he repeatedly bounced his ball against the wall in his room.  He was athletic - particularly soccer and baseball.  He was a star on his teams and found his place in the athletic arenas growing up.

Unfortunately in his senior year of high school, he had an injury to his ACL on his knee and was never the same.  Physically he recovered, but it was easily reinjured and sore and he couldn't play the way he had.  Emotionally he put on a good front and kept us all from truly seeing the pain internally. This injury also put an end to the possibility of playing on a college team which was something he wanted to do.  He was still the one to keep peace, to laugh and to hug.  He still sang some.  He played some soccer on the side but not actively or consistently.  He went on to Campbell College for a year where he never really settled.  Then went to my university where he graduated, but wasn't himself.  He had gained weight, had a burden on him that while he didn't talk about it - was noticeable but we couldn't put our finger on it, and drank quite heavily.  He kept to himself and was awake more at night than during the day.

I went on to college, got my degree, fumbled a bit in what I really wanted to do with life for a few years until marrying Jeremy and settling into a job in Texas where I was able to make a living impacting the lives of children through music.  Jon had a few difficult years after high school, then went to a tech school, found a fun hobby in sky diving which allowed him to meet his wife Allison and they both now have a beautiful family and make a difference in the lives of students and coworkers and companies.

To be continued (Read blog post called Hope Part II)

Rare Form

Julia has kept us on our toes.  This mornings Julia-ism was that she didn't want to change out of her pjs to go to school.  It was a half day inservice so we didn't have to go until 8am.  8am!!!  It was like Christmas to sleep past 5:30am.  Though I love my morning groups to no end.  It was a refreshing change to sleep a bit more.  Julia wasn't so convinced.  She didn't even have to wear a uniform today and had no interest in wearing anything but pjs.

So our conversation was thus:

Julia:  Santa is watching you - you know.

Me:  Yes and you too.

Julia:  Yes but he's mostly watching the parents because they boss their kids around.

She did eventually put on clothes after I put a shirt on her and she ripped it off.  Then left her to pout while wearing nothing on top.  After we got home this afternoon, Julia started to be sassy and wanted to explain what a word was that she learned.

Julia:  Do you know what overnoxious means?  It means that you do the same thing over and over again and then you throw up.

Riley:  Don't you mean obnoxious?

Julia:  Yeah.

Riley:  That's not what it means.  It means that you're like really annoying.

Julia:  No it doesn't.  You're mean.

And there you have it folks.

Saturday, December 5, 2015


The bathroom door at work was not locked and I walked into the single stall to find another female adult in there.  She said "ah!" and I said "so sorry!" I quickly shut the door and stood outside of it as I didn't want anyone else to accidentally walk in.

She came out and said something light hearted.

My response as we parted ways:  Well, nice to see you!

OMG... I was dying.  Why did those words have to be the first thing I said?!  Could have said "have a nice day" or "have a good one."

We watch The Office too much

Jeremy and I use the the line "That's what he said/that's what she said" now and again.  Okay - fairly often.  It's become a joke as I tend to use it at the wrong times and it doesn't make sense which makes us laugh more.

Julia was working on her snowman picture/drawing and had written "ho ho ho ho ho" all over it.  She then asked me "How do you write 'that's what he said?'



Julia had 'one of those days' yesterday.  After school, she came home in a true funk and stayed that way until she went to sleep.  Thank God she slept well and is better today.  Sleep helps.  Just a few conversations to sum up what I mean:

1) The "I'm the Parent" talk

Julia:  I'm not listening to Dad.  He's not the parent.  I only listen to you.

Me:  Well, whatever Dad has asked you to do is the same thing I'll ask you to do because we work together.

Julia:  Well I'm not going to listen to him.  I only listen to you.  I'm a parent too.

Me:  You are not a parent and you know that.  Dad and I are the parents.

Julia:  I want to be a parent because I want to do what I want to do.

2) The "I don't understand" talk

Julia was walking around the kitchen after we went out to eat dinner at their favorite restaurant Frankie's.  She began singing a song "Riley is nice and Mom and Dad are blah, blah... Riley is nice and Mom and Dad are blah, blah."  I told her that she needed to go to her room as she was being mean.  She replied that we were "blah blah" and I just repeated that she needed to go to her room.  She walked away mumbling.

I then went to her room a few minutes later and talked with her.

*Side Note: I've learned that if you are harsh in words, she becomes incredibly defensive, shuts down and you get nowhere but with tons of crying.  If you're quiet, calm, and talk with her, she understands and feels more remorse for her actions.  This results in change - positive change.  There's still manipulation and bargaining, but the final result is different.

Me:  Julia, I want you to look at me.  (she does)  I love you very much.

Julia:  I think you hate me.

Me: I love you very much.  You are a sweet girl and sweet girls do not treat people this way.  Do you remember how you feel when your friend at school teased you and called you "Goo Goo Gaga Pants?"

Julia:  Yes

Me:  That's how I feel when you call me "Blah Blah."  (Julia cries)  It's not polite and it hurts people's feelings.

Julia:  But I just don't understand what Dad asks me to do sometimes.

Me:  Do you understand when he tells you to stop?

Julia: Yes.

Me:  Do you understand when he tells you to be nice?

Julia:  Yes.

Me:  Do you understand when he tells you to listen?

Julia:  Yes.

Me:  What don't you understand.

Julia:  Let me think for a minute.... (a minute or more goes by)  I don't know.

Me:  When Dad or I ask you to stop, listen or be nice, you need to make the choice to change your behavior and stop doing what you're doing that isn't right.

To be honest, I don't know if she ever apologized.  Apologies don't come easily for her and she fights them with all that's within her.  However she broke down crying and was much nicer the rest of the night.

3)  The "911" talk

Julia and Riley were on the couch after the #2 talk.  Julia was mad that I wouldn't give her my phone to play the McKenna game.  She sat down pouting next to Riley.  They whispered a bit and then Riley came over to me as I was reading at the kitchen table and said, very seriously, "Mom, you'll want to watch your phone on the table very closely because Julia is going to come over here and take it and call 911.  She's going to tell the police to arrest you and Dad because you're being mean."  It was all I could not to laugh and instead I said "I think I can handle this."

Julia comes over tiptoeing to the table and I gently move the phone into my hands.  She giggles and asks for the phone.  I tell her 'no' and she goes back away and pouts.  She tells me that she wants us to be arrested for being bad parents and that way she can play on my phone.  I just said "ok."

This morning Julia tells me "I don't want you to be arrested today."  It's already a much better day.

These conversations were all held within a two hour time frame.  I'm sure there was more, but can't remember them.  I have no doubt she'll treasure these when she's older.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Reviewing Goals

Here were/are my goals for this year... can't say that I've honestly worked towards a ton of them as life threw us a major curveball and God had other ideas in mind.  Which was completely amazing and so worth it.  Some years your goals line up with what happens in life and other years the goals don't seem to be what was in store.  Had I known what was coming, I would have set other goals.  But I like it this way because life just happened and I can see that God had better things planned than what I had in mind.

Goals I should have had:

1) Interview and teach three classes for new job in May, receive call two days later with job offer, put house on market two weeks later and sell it above asking price within 15 hours and then close on new home within a month later.

2) Paint entire interior of new home within one week

3) Finish Level III Orff in San Antonio

4)  Travel to San Diego, CA for AOSA National Conference

5)  Teach middle schoolers... best job in the world!!!!!

6) Downsize to a home 1000 sq. ft. smaller and love it more than the larger home we used to have

7) Pay off all of our debts the day after closing on our new home

8) Begin saving again in the bank purposefully

9) Continue Grad school at SMU and learn that I love theory more than I ever knew while at the same time being incredibly challenged... and maintain a 4.0 GPA at the same time while undergoing tremendous job change and moving

10) Get rid of over half of my clothing and realize that I never needed that much in the first place.

11) Spend more time with my girls each day because they're growing up faster than I ever believed could happen

12) Move 12 minutes away from Jeremy's work and 5 minutes from mine... biggest blessing ever!!

13) Go to my Lee University Reunion for Ladies of Lee 50th in Cleveland, TN

14) Have family pictures taken

15) Eat at Whiskey Cake or Seasons 52 as much as possible.

Here's a highlight of the goals I did set and how incredibly different they are than what has actually happened this year:

1.  Date night at a different restaurant each month
January:  Whiskey Cake
February: Seasons 52
Two months... though we did go to Seasons 52 several more times :)

2.  Use our Vitamix to make breakfast smoothies at least two times a week - worked until we moved :)

3.  Take Mommy/Daughter dates out with each girl - 6 dates for Riley and 6 dates for Julia through the year - have taken each girl out one time each

4.  Exercise twice a week - LOL!!!  maybe twice this year??!

5.  Read books that I love and leave books unfinished that I don't love... and work at being ok with the fact that I didn't finish them. - YES

6.  Send in tape/recording of my choir and/or Orff ensemble to perform at TMEA - Recorded them and then switched schools

7.  Submit application to be a presenter at TMEA - Nope... next year going for it!

8.  Create illustrations for my music book - um haven't at all

9.  Write ten Orff arrangements for my students.  Students perform at least three of them. - students performed two at former school in the Spring.  Need to compose and arrange and teach more of them!

10.  Declutter and keep from filling it back up.  Particular areas of focus:
my closet and dressers, hallway closets and the closet under the stairs... YES!  Decluttered so much more than I even thought I'd do because we moved

11.  Try one thing each month that I have pinned on Pinterest - um no

12.  Save $160 a month - better yet we paid off ALL our debt and are saving more 

13.  Kindness Advent in December focusing on specific families... soon to come!!
(Clausen, Caldwell, Martin, Hill, Hosford, Townsend, Funkhouser, Ramos, Johnson, Neely...)

14.  Take one overnight trip as a family - local or far away... Gaylord anyone?  That was a disaster we have many hilarious and not-so-great stories about.  Here's to better vacations this year in 2016

15.  Personal resolution - something incredibly meaningful to me but that I'm not comfortable putting into cyberspace... I'll let you imagine the possibilities :)... I've completely confused myself.  This was obviously so meaningful that even I don't know what I was talking about here.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Family Photos

We recently had a photo shoot with my friend Shelly Gammieri from school.  She's a wonderful photographer and did such a great job capturing the real us.  Truly captured our family.

Thanksgiving 2015

There is much to be thankful for this year.  A random list in no particular order:

1) that God is in control of our lives
2) that God knows all that we will go through and has gone before us
3) that God is here with us despite the chaos, craziness and tragic wars around us
4) our family of four is strong, healthy and ... Riley just hit Julia on the arm so Julia bit Riley on the hand... so as I was saying... we're fighters apparently
5) our home is small, special, and just what we need
6) we have money in the bank, coins in jars, and credit cards paid off... couldn't always say this
7) we are debt free (not including cars and mortgage) for the first time in at least four years
8) Jeremy and I have jobs that are blessings and we both love what we are doing
9) GSES is the biggest blessing of an education, community and school for our daughters and our family
10) we continue to attend a new church that is likely our new church home: it's warm, welcoming and has godly biblical teaching as well as a wonderful children's ministry that our girls love
11) our parents are in great health
12) our parents are all still here on earth to celebrate every day with us even when we're not together
13) we have warm beds, clean sheets and a washer/dryer that work
14) we have A/C and heat
15) we have huge trees and a beautiful neighborhood to take walks in
16) we have a Christmas tree from my parents so we don't have to buy one this year
17) Jeremy's sister Kathryn is pregnant and we'll have a new niece or nephew next year sometime
18) I am blessed to go to SMU for grad school to learn and grow as a teacher/person
19) we have food that we like to eat and can make it ourselves
20) we have much so that we can give much


Because I haven't had enough laundry to do already, we found out this week that our dog has fleas.  Gross.

So I've basically quarantined what I can, cleaned like a mad person and washed him with flea/tick shampoo every day.  Not to mention washing anything that comes in contact with our couches, floors or the dog once the day is done.  Not taking any chances.

The lady at the pet store asked if we'd seen any fleas on ourselves yet.  That about sent me over the edge in terms of feeling gross and itchy all over despite not having them myself.

Thankfully we found it soon and what we're doing is working.  Val's not itching like he was.  And bonus - the house is SUPER clean.  So I guess that's something to get excited about.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


We all hit that point where just feel overwhelmed with life.  I hit it big time this past week.  After traveling, missing a very important grad class where we went over Schenkerian analysis while at a conference, juggling tons of laundry from all our various trips, trying to be there for both of the girls' events at school (failed to make Julia's feast but was able to catch Riley's performance of the First Thanksgiving).  Let's just say I grew very anxious and overwhelmed.

And then I prayed.

It's beginning...

...to look like Christmas at the Grant house.  My parents gave us their Christmas tree to set up this year as we got rid of ours last year and being 9' tall, it wouldn't have fit in our new home anyway.  The girls, my mom and I set up the tree and decorated it.  Then we went to Joann Fabrics to get a few odds and ends.  (Ended up getting some really fun projects for them to do this week while we're home - today: wooden peg dolls and tomorrow: painting a box house, decorating with stencils and playing with our wooden people.)

It is SO much easier to decorate a smaller home and it looks so much more cozy and full of Christmas than our former home ever did.  I absolutely love it!  Our fireplace doesn't have a mantel so the girls' stockings are hung on their doors and are just so cute.  

Campouts, Reunion and AOSA Conference

The past few weeks have been full of traveling, new experiences and time together.  An outline probably best describes it:

Nov. 6-8: Had my first GSES Music Sharing for grades 5-7 in the morning and then taught 8th grade.  Flew to Atlanta, GA where my college roommate Rana and her husband Ryan picked me up to travel to Cleveland, TN for the Ladies of Lee 50th Anniversary.  It was wonderful to reconnect with college friends, sing with the alumni and current choir and to be back on campus for the first time since graduating in December 2000.

Nov. 10-14:  Flew to San Diego, CA for the National AOSA Conference.  Took a morning before the conference began to spend time walking the streets and ocean front of La Jolla.  Conference was incredible - tons of new ideas, reconnected with AOSA friends and mentors and learned so much.

Nov. 13-15:  Jeremy and Julia traveled to Oklahoma for the Indian Princess Kindergarten Campout.  Julia got to ride a horse up a mountain and back down, shot a 22 rifle (yup - five rounds and has the shells to prove it), sat by the campfire at night, had pillow fights with the girls and lots of fun with her Daddy.

Nov. 20-22:  Jeremy and Riley traveled to East Texas for the Warrior/Adventure Princess Third Grade Campout.  She jumped on a massive trampoline that's built into the ground, spent time around the campfire, shot a real bow and arrow and spend time with her Daddy.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Riley and Soccer

Riley:  At soccer, I got hit in the chest with the ball!
Julia:  Did it hurt God?
Riley:  No because He's inside of our heart.
Julia:  And He's in our brains too!

Aurora Dallas 2015

I had the privilege of recording my students performing their Orff pieces so that it could be played at the Aurora Art Festival in Dallas at the GSES area.  Our entire school under the direction of three teachers (Laura Cole, Lauren Marold and Kate Foster) helped them build an amazing tree out of 3-D objects from our printers as well as art work for leaves and other kinds of textures.  It was outside of the Winspear Theater and was breathtakingly beautiful.

The entire Aurora Art Festival was down in the arts district of Dallas.  It was massive.  Tons of light, sound and art.  We took the DART train into downtown.  It was so crowded that we stood the entire ride (only 30 minutes).  The girls were able to play in the lights and see some really neat artistic pieces.

Inside Out

We finally watched the movie "Inside Out" last night as a family.  Julia wanted it to be like a theater so she turned the lights off in our living room. Riley and Julia had seen it with my mom before we moved. Though Julia slept through quite a bit of it in the theater.  The movie was well done, but much more serious than I thought it was going to be.

Towards the end, I said to Jeremy, "This movie is more dark than I thought it'd be."

Julia replied, "That's because I turned the lights off!"

GSES Carnival

This year's GSES Carnival was truly unbelievable.  Ferris Wheel, Walking inside of a ball, tons of bounce houses, food trucks, tons of games for little ones, a petting farm and just a great time.  We invited the Hosford family out to enjoy the afternoon and then we all went out to Franki's Pizza and Pasta.

Chris and Riley went around to do tons of different things like the zip line and the bounce houses and roll in the ball.  Julia enjoyed jumping on the trampolines.  Our final ride was on the ferris wheel.  It looked bit but not huge... until we were on it.  Julia and I went together for the final ride of the night.  She was fine until we got to the top.  She held on so tight and I just told her to breathe.  Though it was scary for me too (I'm becoming a real wimp for these kinds of things the older I get.)  Chris and Riley had a blast.  Julia had no tears, but was a little scared.  So proud of her for doing it!

At Franki's we ate and laughed and laughed and talked.  It was a blast to spend time with all of them.  Can't wait until next year to do it again!

Riley and Chaplain Rhonda

Riley met with Chaplain Rhonda... thought you'd enjoy reading about it: (It's long... I'll blog it later)

Talking with Chaplain Rhonda
Riley met with Chaplain Rhonda today to talk about what happened at our home last night.  Rhonda came back to talk with me and was completely impressed with Riley.  She said that several things particularly impressed her.
  1. Rhonda said that she noticed Riley was eating her granola bars at the same time in the package. Riley explained that she was eating the two pieces of her granola bar at the same time so that she could keep her hands from being sticky and also to keep from having to put it on a napkin and have to recycle more things.
  2. There were crumbs left on the chair.  Rhonda said that most children will sit on the crumbs or brush them off onto the floor.  She said “But not this girl!”  She then said that Riley sat on her knees, brushed the crumbs into her hand and then threw them away before sitting down.  Rhonda said something to her about what an amazing thing she was doing.  Riley told her “Well, that’s just what you do!”
I emailed this to Jeremy and my mom the morning after we were burglarized:
Riley expressed to Rhonda that she was sad, but then stopped herself and said “No, I’m not sad today.  I’m mad.”  Rhonda said she was able to completely articulate exactly how she was feeling.  She said Riley was an old soul. Such a sweet girl!  Then she said that Riley was able to tell her how stressful it was and how expensive it was to replace her iPad.  Riley’s very worried about her iPad being stolen.  But she was also able to say that she knew the people didn’t have her passcode for it and there wasn’t any way they could use it so it was silly that they took it.  She knew they weren’t having any fun on her device J
Riley was also able to tell Rhonda that she was mad for her Dad because he was mad about the computer being taken.  And she knew it was a lot of money – like $1200 – to replace the computer.  And it’s a lot of money to replace an iPad.  And she was mad about that.  Rhonda said that she was able to understand that the way Jeremy felt about the computer being taken and having to pay for it was the same way that she felt about her iPad being taken and having to pay for it.  She understood that it was a lot of money and that it’d be a little bit before they were replaced.
She also said that her Grandpa was going to take her to the store to get her a new iPad once Grandma felt better because Grandma just had her teeth pulled out.  Rhonda shared that people come first and things come second.  And she asked Riley to be patient and let Grandpa dictate the schedule as to when they could get the iPad because Grandma is a person and people come first.  He will need to wait until she’s better and she asked Riley to be very patient about it.
Riley was also afraid of fighting with Julia over my iPad to play on.  Rhonda asked her to make a plan and think of a way they could share it.  She said since Riley’s older, wise and smart that she thought Riley would be able to make a great plan for how to share what we have.
Rhonda ended by asking Riley if she liked to read and Riley said “Oh yes!! I love to read!”  Rhonda pointed to all the books around her and said she could pick one to read in here.  Riley pointed to a book that she’d already read in the room and said that she loved that book, but that this copy was in Spanish and she didn’t know how to read Spanish.  Rhonda asked how well she knew it and Riley said she could probably tell you the whole story without even looking.  So Rhonda challenged her to read the Spanish book because she already knew the English words and said that she felt Riley would probably love to be challenged in figuring out what they’re saying!  Riley loved the idea.  Rhonda told her there was a special white rocking chair in the corner of the room where Riley could be alone with her thoughts while reading the amazing Spanish book.  Then sat in a rocking chair in the Capers room when they returned to it and began reading it happily.

Not a Good Day

October 8th was not the best day.  In fact it was a great day until 5:30pm.  So it just wasn't a good night.

The girls and I went to look for new pjs for them at the Galleria mall before coming home.  Both Jeremy and I drove to the house at the same time.  Upon walking in, we spent some time in our kitchen where all looked as normal.

After several minutes, Riley told us she was going to go play on the computer.  She walked into the front living room and called out "Dad, your computer is gone!"  We couldn't quite hear her well and so he replied, "What do you mean it's not on?"  Riley called out louder, "No, Dad - it's not here!  It's gone!  Where did you put it?"  At this point, we were completely confused and Jeremy went into the front room where he stared at a completely empty desk.

He was silent and stunned for what seemed like minutes, but was likely seconds.  He then looked around and said, "We've been robbed."  It took us seconds to see what we hadn't seen just before.  Every drawer was slightly open, furniture had been moved to access drawers, the door to upstairs was open.  And of course, the computer and all the cords were missing as well.

We walked into our bedroom to find every drawer open in the bathroom and make-up mirror/desk area as well as drawers in our dressers.  My jewelry drawers were open and had obviously been gone through.  Nothing was touched in the girls rooms and no drawers open.

Several things were stolen - electronics, cash box, Riley's iPad, cords, jewelry from both my Grandma Mo and Grandma Dale.  It was an awful, awful feeling to know that someone had walked our entire home and taken things when we were not there.  Violating and just not right.

Through this experience, we learned a lot of things as the method of entry was easier than it should have been.  Despite our back door to the backyard being all glass, there was no sign of entry due to the fact that we overlooked the door being unlocked.  We always check the doors before we leave and have not only dead bolts, but other precautionary locks as well.  Somehow we missed this one on this day and it cost us.  Though the police officer said that we simply saved ourselves from needing to replace the door as they would have broken the glass to get in as they had made it this far already.

Our home is now safer and more secure.  And we are less naive.  The police officer came out to our home, took notes and talked with us for a bit.  It seems so surreal.

The girls were quite scared the first night and we slept with them - Jules with me and Riley with Jeremy.  They're still nervous at times and I don't blame them.  It's an unsafe feeling.  Thankful that Riley was able to talk with our chaplain at school and what a blessing she was.  (I'll post what was shared in the next post as I emailed it to Jeremy so I'd remember that day)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Right Place at the Right Time

Yesterday was an insane morning.  Started off normally.  At around 6:20am, I took Val out.  I was in the laundry room about to take him into the backyard, but had a very quick thought that I should take him for a short walk as he hadn't been out much.  Put him on the leash, got the doggie bag and headed out.  We made it to the other side of our driveway where he likes to go on the big pole.

As he went, I turned to look around and watched as a truck slammed into a small car.  It was quite surreal.  The truck driver was speeding like crazy down the road and the impact was awful.  The smoke and sound was something that stuck with me the rest of the day.  Parts of the car covered all six lanes of Royal and chunks of it were everywhere.  I had my cell phone on me so I immediately called 911.  I went fast toward the corner and as I did, I rolled my left ankle badly and stumbled.  I prayed over my foot quickly before the dispatcher answered.  It was a very very quick prayer and it hurt so badly.

I watched as the truck driver backed up and sped off.  Unbelievable.  I explained what I could and was sad I couldn't see the license plate of the truck as it was so dark out.  I could tell the driver of the small car was still awake as she was trying to get her car out of the wrong side of the street.  She was blocking two lanes of traffic and facing the wrong way.  Her headlights were gone but her brake lights still worked.  Her tires were completely sideways and she was dragging metal across the street as the car moved.  However oncoming cars couldn't see her well because her car was so dark.  They kept honking at her and veering around her.  It was awful to watch.  However it didn't look like an accident because there was only one vehicle in the road and not two.

When I saw the traffic was clear for a bit, I ran across the road to the median and told her "Ma'am, I've called 911 and help is on the way."  Her face was covered in blood and her dress was covered in blood.  Her airbag had not deployed and she completely out of it and in shock.  She told me not to call 911.  I'm not sure why, but all I can think is that she was in shock.  I ran back across the intersection to the corner because I knew as traffic came it was possible that a car could hit her again and I would be hit if I stayed there.

I still had the dog with me on the leash and I was just trying to hurry with the pain shooting all over my foot.  I went inside and told Jeremy we needed a towel for her face.  We then heard the sirens and knew they were almost there.

I saw a clearing and went to tell the ambulance people quickly that her face was bloody and she was alert.  I asked if they needed anything more and he said no so I left.  I watched as two men held her up as she stumbled with blood coming out her face to the ambulance.  It was awful.

My ankle has bruises on the top and left side, but is nothing compared to what this lady went through yesterday.  I truly feel God healed it from being worse as I could feel a pop and yet all that's there is bruising.

God truly had me there to help this woman yesterday.  This road is usually covered in cars or at least several cars who would have seen this and yet there wasn't one car around that observed the accident.  The truck driver had time to back up and leave before any other cars came across what had happened.  From the time I called 911 to the time the ambulance and fire trucks showed up, it was merely minutes.  Yet so much happened.  She was able to get help as fast as was possible and for that I'm thankful.  I truly truly know that God had me take the dog for a walk instead of to the backyard so that I could help her.  It's a blessing to be in the right place at the right time.  Still praying for this woman.

Julia's First Tooth Falls Out

Last week Julia showed us how loose her bottom tooth was.  We were all excited because we knew the tooth fairy would be coming soon!

On Thursday this week, I went to eat lunch with her.  There weren't enough seats so Julia sat on my lap while we ate.  Not a few minutes after getting there, she said "My tooth just fell out!"  I asked her where it was and she said it was on her skirt.  She found it and held it up.  It was SO little.

We then took a trip to the nurse's office where she was given a tooth holder necklace.  She wore it proudly the rest of the day.

When we got home, she found a 'safe' place to put her tooth so the tooth fairy could find it: her Rosetta doll had it resting in her hand next to a note that Riley sweetly wrote to the fairy. Riley was incredibly sweet and kept saying things like "I'm so happy for you Julia!" and "You're first tooth!"

The next morning Julia found a gold $1 coin with a note from her tooth fairy name Violet (Vi is what she's called).  We read her the note and she said she was going to put the coin in her piggy bank which she did.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Soccer Game 2 for Julia

Julia did amazing at soccer game #2 last night.  She got to kick the ball a few times and started off one of the plays with a kick.  She kept looking at us, smiling and shrugging her shoulders with her hands out to her side.  She did awesome.

There was a point where a group of girls were huddled around the ball and one of the girls pushed Julia lightly.  Julia decided she'd had enough so she cried and walked off the field while the game continued to play.  They sent another player in.  We talked with her about how sometimes that happens in soccer and how everyone just wants to get to the ball to help their team, but it creates crowding.

She continued to play.  Loving watching kindergarten soccer.

Step Dad

As we drove home today from school, Julia announced this out of nowhere:
"I have a stepdad."

Me:  Are you talking about your dad?

Julia:  No I'm talking about my stepdad.

Me:  You don't have a stepdad.  You have a dad.  You are talking about Jeremy, your dad?

Julia:  No he's my stepdad.  He's mean to us most of the time.

Me:  Honey, he's not your stepdad.  If I chose to not be married to your daddy and then married someone else, that person would be your stepdad.

Riley:  Or if Mom died, then Dad would be by himself.

Me:  And then he might remarry someone else and you'd have a step mom.

Julia:  No.  I will not have a step mom.  They will make me do chores, bring over two mean stepsisters and treat me terrible.

Me:  Not all stepmothers are like in Cinderella.  They're not all mean.

Julia:  Yes they are.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Video Game Music

I am loving every single moment at GSES.  What an incredible blessing the school and community has been.  And I'm blessed to be a part of it.

My students have blown me away with their ability to improvise, sing, drum, play recorder, and barred pieces.  Their musicianship is delightful and amazing.  I am striving to challenge them and incorporate new ideas to help them continue to grow as musicians.  This article was published recently.  It really caught my eye.


The session will be presented at the NAfME National Conference in October. My eighth grade students stated that their two topics of interest are technology and video games.  They have had thorough Orff experiences at GSES and I have begun to wonder:

Could the Orff Schulwerk work as a means to improvise, create, and notate music for a computer game that students create?  Or a game that others have created - and we add the music to it?

Could we use our SPARQ lab to access technology that would allow students to create their own video game?  And then use music class to compose and use Orff processes to develop music for the game?

**Note:  free site to make a game - Sploder or UCLA Game Lab

Could students test their product on a specific grade level at GSES and receive feedback on the musical aspects that students noticed?

Could students learn about the history of musical styles and genres and allow it influence their compositions in a way that they could explain what parts of the past inspired them to write?

There is also an online course about Teaching Music in the Cloud.  Would this be a good tool for students to compose in the classroom?  How would it work?  What would it let students do?

Other interesting aspects:

noteflight.com  - Free for up to 10 scores

soundation.com - making music online

For middle school:  https://musicfirst.com/solutions/middle-school

Match my sound: Practice First

First Soccer Games

Today was momentous as both girls had their first soccer games.  Julia woke me up and said "Mom, it's time to get up!  My soccer game is today.  We need to ask Siri where it is."

Julia was eager to get going, but tired.  We'd spent the night before out later than usual at the GSPO Annual BBQ.  It was such a great night with our school community, but made for an early morning.  I got her dressed as she laid on the ground face first.  She did fantastic with her shin guards, firework socks and cool silver cleats.

Once we were at the field, Julia was nervous and kept her hand in her mouth for a bit.  She cried when I took her to her team as they practiced on the field.  Her coach, Mr. Starr, was incredibly patient and helpful.  He carried her while they said the sportsmanship pledge and she held his hand while she was a player on the field.  She did break away a bit and go after the ball, but was quite reserved.  All of this was completely fine!  The other moms told me that their kids were also shy about going out, but that they got comfortable with it and after a game or two, they knew what to expect.

I think her favorite part of the game was when she wasn't on the field and she and I kicked her ball back and forth in the field next to the game.  Another mom and her daughter did the same.  Just to get them comfortable with it.  She told me she didn't want to play on the field because it was harder and that she really loved just kicking the ball with me.  Though she did go back out and kept with it.  Even her teacher, Mrs. Powell, came to watch her play.  Which was incredibly sweet.

Julia was happy after the game and we were so proud of her.  We went home for a few hours before going to Riley's soccer game.

Riley was afraid she'd make a mistake.  We told her that it's okay if she did and that the only mistake she could truly make was scoring in the other team's goal... which even professional players have done in the past.  We told her to have fun, do her best and enjoy it.  She was a little nervous at first and stayed back a bit.  She's such a sweet soul that she didn't get in where all the action was when there was a group of girls going for the ball.

When she wasn't playing and was on the side lines, she drank her water a lot and seemed to enjoy playing with the other players.  At one point she spent quite some time kicking dirt. :)

After the game ended, she ran over while kicking her ball across the field.  Dang - this girl can run!!  She is very fast.

We were so proud of her after her first game.  My parents took her to their house for a sleepover where I'm sure they're sewing something and watching the Hobbit.

Both girls did such a great job!  Can't wait to see them play again next week. :)

Friday, September 4, 2015

Kindergarten Picnic

Today was the GSES Kindergarten Picnic.  I wasn't sure how much time I'd have to be with Julia so Grandpa came for the event.  It was great to spend a little time with my dad showing him around my classroom.  We then walked down the hall to meet Julia at her event.  She was in line in her classroom and saw us where she yelled "Mom!!!  Grandpa!!!!"  We smiled and she was ecstatic.

We packed an oversized beach towel and sack lunches to eat.  Grandpa brought his and Julia had hers.  We got to sit down next to the playground and spend time eating together with other Kindergarten families.  Then the students were able to play on the playground.

It was an absolutely beautiful day outside.

Julia had a special treat to look forward to as Grandpa drove her home in his red car (she responded with her jaw dropped, "I've never gotten to go in that one before!") and she is now having a sleepover with Grandma and Grandpa.

It is such a blessing to see her thriving!

We are now a soccer family

Well, I had said that when we moved and started at GSES we would keep the girls out of activities and make it an easier year so they could adjust.  I was just kidding apparently.

Both girls are thriving at their new school and making new friends.  It turns out that soccer is a huge deal and with the Town North YMCA adjacent to the school, it's also affordable and easy to get to games.  The girls were both invited by friends to join teams and with both of them interested in trying a new sport, we've chosen to let them try their hand (or feet) at sports this year.

Julia will be on team "Sparkle."  Purple is the main color.  Can not wait to see her in ponytails and cute bows with her soccer uniform.  It's the little things.  If she kicks the ball, great!  If she picks dandelions the whole game, that's fine too.  I'm excited that she'll have a group of girls to encourage her and learn team work.  What an incredible way for her to learn how to work with others and get up when she falls down.

Riley has several friends on the team and has never played before.  I think Riley will also benefit from working in a team.  In gymnastics it was a different kind of team work.  This will be an incredible way for her to learn that you can stand up for yourself and use people around you to help.  You don't have to do everything on your own or do it perfectly.

GSES also has a program after school called Encore.  Riley will be a member of the Art Club on Mondays and Julia will take gymnastics classes on Mondays as well.  Riley has chosen to also be in the 3rd and 4th grade choir.

I'm so very proud of our girls and so thankful for our school.  What a complete blessing to have such a great community to be a part of in so many different ways.

Birthday Invitations

Our mail is delivered by foot (God bless our mailman!!) to our door where he pushes it through the opening slot.  I absolutely love it!  It's just so simple and makes me feel like I'm in 1958.  Which is when the house was built.

When we arrived home yesterday, Julia ran to get the mail in the entryway from the floor and brought it onto the kitchen counter.  She yelled out to Riley, "Hey Riley!  You got a birthday invitation!!!" This made Riley so happy and she was calling out, "What!?"  Riley ran to look for the birthday invitation only to find two letters addressed to Jeremy.

Riley then yelled out not so nicely, "JULIA!!!!!"

Julia giggled and said, "I was just kidding."

Saturday, August 29, 2015

SMU Analytical Techniques

This semester will be the hardest one for grad school yet!  I have Dr. Lane Harder at SMU and taking the class "Analytical Techniques."  He is a genius.  His compositions are beautifully written and have been performed by orchestras all over the world.  He has a wealth of knowledge to teach.  I can't wait to learn from him.  I'm determined to give it my very best and get an A in the class to keep my 4.0 GPA going... it's going to be a challenge.

First assignment:  Analyze chords and keys (modulations) beat by beat - or even half beats - for 9 Bach chorales, 3 Chopin preludes, and answer 11 questions about 1 Chopin mazurka and the piece "Der Neugierige" by Schubert as well as writing four short paragraphs about the Chopin preludes.   All due next Tuesday night.

Every spare moment of my week has been spent on analyzing these pieces.  My brain is back to looking at music differently again... and it's tired :)

Update on 9/12/2015:  About to do week 4 of classes.  Got a 100% on my first quiz and 100% plus extra credit on quiz two.  Here's to hoping my hard work on fugues and inventions earns another A+ on my quiz this Tuesday.  Dr. Harder is a genius. (Think I've said that before)  Homework has lightened up...I'm thankful that he made us get used to analyzing again and doing so with tons of practice.

I Quit

Riley walked into the living room with a very worried look on her face.  She told me she had something really serious to tell me.  She then said "Julia is quitting Good Shepherd." (the name of her school)  She was really worried about Julia quitting so I told her I'd go talk to Julia and that she didn't need to worry as school is the law and Julia doesn't have a choice.

I went into Julia's room and sat on her bed.  Julia sat next to me and said "Mom, I have something to tell you and I think it might make you mad.... I'm quitting school."

I said "Oh I see"... in as serious a voice as I could.  I continued with things such as "Well, that will be so sad for you to go to another school without Riley and I.  We'll miss you every morning and seeing you at school.  I hope you'll like it there."

Julia then started talking about preschool.  "I just really miss daycare.  I loved it there.  I loved splash day!!  We don't do splash day at Good Shepherd.  The uniforms were more comfy."

As she was talking, I was distracting her with questions and listening to her.  Little did she realize that I was actually getting her dressed for school.  And she was completely ready by the time our conversation ended.

When she was no longer distracted, she looked down at her fully-uniformed self and then began crying and pulling at her shirt.  She had no idea that she was now ready for school.  I was able to pick her up and get her going to the car where all was as best as it could be.

I explained that once she leaves preschool, she can't go back as she's too old.  We then talked about Kindergarten and the fun things she'll get to learn and do with her teacher and new friends.  I should have typed this up earlier as there was so much more to this conversation that I know I'm forgetting...

I'm happy to report that she's decided to continue to go to Good Shepherd.  :)

Good Shepherd School - here we come!!

This week was a big one!  Julia started Kindergarten, Riley started Third Grade and I started a new job.  Jeremy started the school year off continuing his job, but with an incredible 15 minute commute.  So happy for him!!

The girls absolutely love their teachers.  I feel that we've been blessed with the best.  Both teachers seem perfect for each girl.  Definitely hand picked for them.  They've met friends through our Shepherd families.  Each girl was assigned a family who has a child in their class.  The girls have done playdates and get along so well together.  Julia and her shepherd (Claire) are taking dance class together.  Riley and her shepherd (Sophia) are like two peas in a pod.  Incredibly sweet friends.

On the first day of school, Riley hopped out of bed and was beyond excited.  I was able to walk her to her room, but she basically walked fast ahead of me kept saying "OMG OMG OMG OMG this is the best day ever!!!  Hurry up Mom!"  She got in her room and settled in so very quickly!

Julia had a harder time.  Despite early bedtimes, she wasn't so sure about the uniform thing.  The sensory/clothing issue has always been there in the mornings, but after some time in the clothing, she's always completely fine the rest of the day with no issues.

In the morning, she did not want to wear her uniform and cried and cried and cried so much that her eyes were puffy.  She cried on her way into her room, but then had a fantastic day.  When I picked her up from Capers (the after-school program), she was jumping, smiling and happy as could be.

Today (Saturday) we practiced for about 45 minutes just putting on and off her uniform without fussing, pulling, yelling, or arguing.  It took us multiple times, but by the last time Julia was buttoning her shirt and putting on the clothes by herself with no complaining.  I talked to her about how we'll practice tomorrow morning as well, but see if we can do it less times faster with no fussing.  She's excited to try and said "I can do it!"

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Neo-Riemannian theory:  something I'll be studying this semester at SMU

Note to self:  Check out this thesis

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

For the Love of God and Jen Hatmaker

"Be kind, be you, and love Jesus." - Jen Hatmaker

For the love of free books, I saw a post about being a part of the launch team for Jen Hatmaker's new book "For the Love."  I've thoroughly loved her other books that I've read and I love free things that are worth doing and getting so I put my name into the entry form thinking it was highly unlikely.  Then came the email:

Knock, knock. Who's there? YOU, because YOU are on my Launch Team for 'For the Love'!! Yeah baby!! We only had room for 10% of all applicants (what the??), and we think you got the stuff. THANK YOU for your amazing enthusiasm; I couldn't possibly love you more if I tried with all my might. You are leading well and using your influence like a boss. We all think you are amazing. We are going to get this thing off the ground together! Let me tell you, launching a book is really fun. And some of you are going to end up on the inside cover, so THAT. I said on January 1st this year that one goal was to spend less time pleasing "Not My People" ... well let's be clear: YOU ARE MY PEOPLE. I love you so. I really do. I am loyally yours forever. Let's do this thing.

My marketing team will now tell you all the fun details.

- Jen

Yup.  I was one of 500 chosen to launch her book.  Now referred to as #500 on Twitter.  Finally launch day has come and I can share!

So why should you read her book?

For so many reasons.

To laugh.  To cry.  To laugh and cry.  Then repeat.
To understand leggings as pants and tights as leggings.
To see other humans as God's gift.
To enjoy your marriage.
To get wisdom from a Christian who isn't perfect, doesn't claim to be and who brings Jesus into our everyday lives.
To hear from God.

I planned to read the book one time before moving onto my list of other books that I really wanted to read.  While I did go forward in reading other books, this book continues to be on my nightstand.  I've read it repeatedly the past few months.  In fact, it was an incredible word for me as I prepared to interview for the new job that I just started.

A teaching position was open at an amazing school and I put myself out there to go towards it.  I was nervous and seeking God as I went towards what I felt He had for me.  As I read this quote from Jen's book, God spoke to my heart with her words:

"You are good at something for a reason.  God designed you this way, on purpose.  It isn't fake or a fluke or small.  These are the mind and heart and hands and voice you've been given, so use them... the timing is never right.  Forget that.  It rarely just falls into your lap.  You are probably not guaranteed success.  This might be a crapshoot.  It will require sacrifices from you and maybe your people and you might step out on shaky, shaky legs.  But off you go because you were not created to stand still, even though it is safe and familiar and you are guaranteed never to fall or stumble or grow weary.  We are made to run.  RUN."

God spoke in many ways and this book was one of them.  What resulted in trusting in God's will was a new job, a new home, and a new lifestyle for our family.

I'm not saying that this book will cause major changes in your location or lifestyle.  But it might.

I am saying that it is an amazingly fun read with some awesome spiritual encouragement as well.


since I love the book so much, I'm giving away a free copy!!  I'll send it to your home and you can enjoy it!

Simply leave a comment on my Facebook post or here in the blog.  I'll draw a name tomorrow night and get it sent to you asap!!!

You can also purchase her book or get more information here:   http://forthelovebook.com/  

Monday, August 10, 2015


I love organizing and having things organized.  This isn't as easy with two kids and a dog (and a husband), but it's also not easy because I tend to pile papers in specific places and pile other things on counters and on our dresser in our room.

A new book came out this year called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo.  She lives in Japan and helps people tidy their spaces.  She advocates for tidying one time and then continuing to live with it that way.  That if you tidy once for good, you'll never have to tidy again.

My favorite part of the book so far that I've applied is how she folds clothing.  They become like little books and stand on end in your drawers.  Not only can you see every item of clothing instead of having to search through piles, but you fit more in the drawer in a neat fashion and it's easy to keep it that way.  Folding has become so much fun!

Having recently moved it has been easy to go through our things because we downsized.  This meant lots of less space and more need for only keeping essentials.  Especially in the Master Closet.  Our closet in the previous home was practically a room (8x10) and we had ample places to put things.  Not to mention also having an enormous bedroom where we fit two oversized dressers and two oversized nightstand/short dressers.  In other words:  we have way more than we truly need.

I put all of my clothes on the floor of our room to sort through them.  It was overwhelming.  I gave two garbage bags overflowing with clothing to a friend.  We sold a few things in a garage sale, put boxes and bags of them to CCA and once we moved, gave five boxes of clothing to Goodwill and threw old things away.  And this was only my clothes.  It was ridiculous.

In doing so, I still have all of my favorite clothes and love that I can find them easily.  I don't miss any of the things I donated/gave away/threw away.  It feels like a huge weight lifted off.

I watched a YouTube video about how to fold clothing in drawers and was able to do several of mine as well as Jeremy's and Riley's.  I haven't done Julia's yet as she prefers to throw things out of drawers and stuff them back in.  Yes, I could take the time to teach her.  Though I see it as merely being a frustrating thing to keep them in 'perfect' shape instead of being a tool to teach her organization right now.  I'm more focused on just having her wear one outfit a day at this point... we'll get there someday.

We sorted through our books, toys and cds.  I also went through my stash of yarn.  Practically had a yarn store.  Now I have an incredibly less amount and thrilled with that.  Why did we ever keep so many of these things?!  Again it was refreshing to get rid of them.

A few other articles about the KonMari Method:

12 Ways

How to fold long sleeved shirts

How to fold tshirts  or here 

How to fold socks

How to fold pants

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Last Night's Dream

Haven't had dreams so vivid in a while, but last night I had one that was interesting:

I was at the top of a children's playground slide.  It was very high.  The problem was that in order to get down, there was a huge stack of opened boxes.  You were supposed to jump and hope they would hold you somehow.  Riley made it down no problem and kept calling for me to come down too.  She said that if you took the boxes out one at a time and created a new stack that it would make it easy to get down.  I was still unsure so I thought that maybe I could squeeze out the right side and climb down the side of it.  But as I went to go, people started shouting for me to stop because if I climbed down the side, the slide would tip over.  I went back to the top of the slide.  And after thinking through options, I realized that I could simply slide down the slide!  I slid down and then woke up.

According to dream websites, if you dream about playground slides it has a significant meaning for me at the stage I'm in:

When you have a dream about a playground slide or a sledding downhill, this suggests a way forward that you should take to move from one stage of life to another stage.
Dreaming about a slide can also mean that you are working hard in life, taking some risks or climbing up the ladder so that you can get some positive experience in life or move to a higher status in life.
It can also indicate an event or even a specific period that you associate with the activity of sliding or walking down the hill.
This dream also represent a cheerful attitude that you are having or some given form of freedom and remembering the childhood playful actions. You may be  having a childlike fun, excitement and joy.
It also shows that you usually avoid exploring into details of any issue but you rather skim over the surface and deal with the basics of that issue instead of going in-depth. (not sure about this last sentence as I'm usually pretty in-depth, but the rest - um yes!)

Typical Conversations

These are notes I kept on my phone from various things our girls have said...

Conversation #1:

Julia: (holding a nutcracker and using a funny voice)  I am Mr. Nutcracker.  How are you today?

Riley: I'm terrible because you speak annoyingly.

Julia:  Oh!  Thank you very much!

Riley:  It is not supposed to be a compliment.  It is supposed to be a horrifying terror.

Conversation #2:

Riley:  I told you you don't know everything.

Julia:  (putting hands on hips)  But I know everything else.

Riley:  When I grow up I want to be a drug dealer.  Then I can sell drugs to people without nicotine so that people will stop having the drugs with nicotine and stop.  Or I could be president and make it so no one can do drugs or they will go to jail.

Conversation #3:

Julia: Did you know that Jesus is taller than Dad?

Me:  How do you know?

Julia:  Jesus is older!  I think he's twelve fifty-eight.  And his back side is yellow.

Me:  How do you know?

Julia:  Hmmm... I just know!

Conversation #4:

Julia:  Why'd you say thank you to Jesus for dying on the cross?

Me:  Because he died for us so we could be forgiven.

Julia:  I want to die so I can be with Jesus and Grandpa Mo.  I miss Grandpa Mo.  I feel him in my heart.  With Jesus.  Just Jesus and Grandpa Mo in my heart.

Conversation #5:

(after my friend Stephanie's baby died less than an hour after she was born and I came home from the  funeral)
Julia:  I'm sorry that your friend baby died.  Mommy when I get to heaven can I meet their baby?  Does she have white skin like me? Will she wear a pink headband and a pink dress?

Jesus and iPads

Scene:  In the car driving to the Galleria Mall
Time:  Ten minutes from our house to the mall
Riders:  Julia, Riley, Myself

Me: (listening to repetitive tinkly music and the girls arguing over how Julia can't see the game and Riley says it's too hard to hold it over her way)  Hey Riley - Let's turn off the iPad for the drive.

Riley:  Can I just finish this thing on the app?

Me:  What thing and how long will it take?

Riley:  Oh wait.  I just finished it.  Okay it's off.

Five seconds goes by...

Riley:  Mom, could I turn on the Jesus Bible App?

Me:  No.  Not right now.

Riley:  But don't you want me to learn about Jesus?

Me:  Yes, but I want you to follow one of his commands which is to obey your parents.  And I just told you no iPad right now.

We then had an enlightening discussion about heaven, hell, Satan, Jesus and idols.  Julia explained that Satan talked through a snake in the Garden to Eve.  Then told us that if she ever talked with a snake and knew it was Satan, she would not trust him.

Riley observed that heaven and hell both start with the letter h.  She puzzled over why they must both start with the letter h.

They had other things to share, but I can't think of them.

How to NOT caulk your shower

I've caulked bathtubs and showers before.  I really have.  It's fairly simple.

1.  Open caulk.
2.  Press against area that needs to be caulked.
3.  Wipe finger across to keep it smooth.
4.  Clean up any excess with paper towel.

Voila!  Easy.

Except today's caulking job.

It should have been incredibly simple.  But alas it was a typical experience for me.  I used this caulk (please note I am NOT saying the caulk was deficient in any way or that this product is bad... I think I must have just used it wrong):  GE Silicone Caulk for Kitchens and Bath

Typically there is a cap on the tube that you screw off.  Mine refused to budge.  I couldn't in any way figure out how to get it off.  So I used scissors to cut it.  While that worked, the container said to puncture the silver cover.  I couldn't see a silver cover so I stuck the end of the scissors inside, but it didn't make a difference.  Nothing was coming out.

I noticed it must have to be cut further down.  I used a knife to cut further down.  I did this one more time as I wasn't far enough down to see the silver cover.  Finally it worked.

At this point Riley came in to watch me as I worked.  She looks to see if the caulk is coming out and as I press the tube to the towel to test it, she says "I see it coming!  It's coming out!"

It was coming out from the top, but barely.  I felt something on my leg.  In looking down, I notice that the bottom of the caulk has now pooled into a pile of caulk on the tile floor of our bathroom as well as on my skirt, shirt, counter, and is dripping from the sink.

I quickly grabbed paper towels to clean up the mess as fast as possible before we had caulk permanently covering where it wasn't supposed to go.  Riley made a comment about how I was doing it wrong so I told her that she was being rude and asked her to leave the room.  Yes I was doing it wrong, but needed to concentrate to get it all cleaned up.

As soon as I picked it all up and had it in a bag, I was even more determined to get the shower caulked.  We have a clear separation between our wall and the floor of the shower where water is seeping out of the shower every time we take one.  I had purchased the caulk to fix it and I was even more determined to get the job done.

Leaning down, I used my finger inside the bottom of the tube.  After all the top was useless at this point.  I put the caulk into the separation and began to seal it.  The caulk smeared up and down and inside the crack.  I used paper towels and my finger to get ride of excess caulk.  The job is now officially finished (for today... will need to get back to fixing it better soon).

I cleaned what I could off my cute outfit (tears of sadness internally as I've been pairing down my wardrobe and only saved my good clothes that I like...hoping to not have to part with the skirt or shirt).  I told Riley I was cleaning my clothes and that I hoped it would come out.  She responded encouragingly by telling me that it probably wouldn't.

At least it is now caulked and fits with some of the other semi-great jobs that have been done around the house from the previous owner.  And hey - at least I can rest knowing that I now have two ways to caulk a shower.  I just hope to not repeat this one.

**In sharing this story with my dad while laughing incredibly hard, he asked if I had a caulk gun.  Turns out that I hadn't bought the caulk with the easy cap to open.  I'd purchased one that was meant to be used in a caulk gun which explains why the bottom pushed out when I put too much pressure on the front end.  This realization resulted in laughter and tears from the laughter.**