Sunday, June 28, 2015

Top Tips for Packing and Moving Peacefully

Our home is officially cluttered with boxes, recycled paper and garage sale items.  Here are some tips that are helping me deal with the chaos as we pack and move:

1) Give each child a box
Our daughters love cardboard anything.  Riley (age 8) chose a box to play in and created mailboxes for each side that have her name on it.  She then taped them to the box while telling us not to pack anything in it.  We told her that was her special box and gave Julia (age 5) her own box as well.  The hours the kids spend sitting/playing/drawing/creating in that box will give you more peace than you can imagine.

2) Hire movers
They are worth every. single. penny.  Get what you can afford.  If you can't afford movers, find strong, helpful friends and treat them to pizza.  We are doing all the packing ourselves and have movers doing all the boxes and large items to our new home.  So thankful.

3) Purge, purge, purge
When you think you've rid yourself of all that you want to get rid of, rethink what you truly need and then get rid of more.  I have found clothes that I haven't worn for at least five years in my closet, shoes that don't fit and never truly fit to begin with, old bulky yearbooks (will I honestly ever read what my high school friends wrote in those things?), cassette tapes, hundreds of cds, vcr tapes, and the list goes on.

We are downsizing so purging is of utmost importance as we don't want to bring what we don't need. I always thought we were great about keeping away from clutter, but after six years in our large home we've managed to accumulate an incredible amount that we don't need.

4) Work in separate spaces
Jeremy and I work very differently at tasks.  We find it's much more peaceful if he tackles his area (the office/videos/electronics) and I tackle my areas (clothing/crafts/kid areas).  We get along much better and more gets done.

5) Start with one closet at a time
If you feel overwhelmed, start with a closet.  Then move to one space at a time.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Annie at the Winspear

My Mom and I took the girls to see the musical Annie at the Winspear.  The girls absolutely loved it.  Riley said "Mom, thanks for taking us to this lovely show."  Both girls stayed awake through the entire show.

What You Can Learn From Packing Before You Move

Our closing date on our home is 8 days away.  The movers come in 15 days.  And moving is bringing out the best and semi-worst of Jeremy and I.  We packed up tons of boxes and stuff when we staged our home.  We were fortunate to have my parents' formal dining room to store it all in for a few weeks while our home sold quickly.  Today we finished bringing everything back to our home and it was quite overwhelming to be reminded how much 'stuff' we have.  And I am ready to pretty well give it all away as we are downsizing to a smaller home in a better location closer to where we both work.  It won't all fit and it's going to be a beast to sift through.

My first reaction is to donate, sell it or throw it away after quickly assessing the purpose of the item.  Jeremy's first reaction is to thoughtfully go through each piece, each line and letter of every single paper and examine what to do with it before making a choice. Neither reaction is better - though I like my way better because I agree with myself in how I do things.  His way saves us time when we do need that particular document that was saved despite my thinking it was insignificant.  If I had thrown it away, it would have been a pain to retrieve.  My way also saves time in that things are packed sooner and we have less accumulated.

There are a few solutions to our different ways of doing things that might be helpful if you find that you are semi, somewhat or severely frustrated when packing and sifting through house items.  These are the things that work for us:

1)  Don't pack together.
I refuse to pack and sort through unimportant items and rooms at the same time as Jeremy.  I end up frustrated with his slowness (thoroughness he would say) and he ends up frustrated that he can't meet my demands of moving through things faster and throwing away.  Today he tackled the home office while I tackled books and other items in the home.  He was able to do his thing while I did mine. Work still got done.  There are always important documents that must be worked through together.  But if you're just wanting him to decide what to do with the files he organized, let him do it and leave him alone.

2) Work at your strengths.
If Jeremy is better at sorting kitchen items, he takes care of those.  If I'm better at sorting large items, I do those.  We work better if we work with the things we know better instead of trying to do the things that aren't our strengths.

3) Try to get along.
This one may sound silly, but moving is stressful and the easiest target for frustration is your spouse. Find ways to get along and talk despite the stress.

4) Read articles about moving and stress
Tonight I got on the computer to google about how to stay calm when packing.  I saw this article in the Huffington Post and thought it sounded interesting.  What I didn't expect was to read an article that pinpointed exactly the problem I project onto Jeremy: that my work productivity and speed is the same as his.  I go go go go and keep going.  My pace wears him out (though I wish he'd have even just a dash of this pace to help pull weight).  His pace The link went on to share the name of a book that I think I'll need to prioritize time to read:  You -- according to Them.

5) See the big picture.
This move is a positive step forward for our family.  The outcome will be incredibly positive and the time will be worth it all.  Be thankful we can move this summer and not in the middle of a school year.  Be thankful that this is but a short time period of stress that will result in less stress soon enough.  Be thankful our home sold so quickly and we were able to find the right home choice soon after.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Supreme Court Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage

Today we had the opportunity to discuss a very heavily debated topic in our culture:  same-sex marriage.  The talk was with our eight year old daughter.  Jeremy and I were discussing our beliefs about it and what we thought of the decision.  Riley walked in and wanted to know all of what we were saying, why we were talking about it and what it meant.  I took Julia up for her bath while Jeremy talked with her so that they could really talk without interruption.

Here are a few articles about the ruling from wide-ranging views and sides:

NY Times

BBC News

Wall Street Journal

Fox News

The Onion

Christianity Today


I read about the ruling online and Jeremy saw it on the tv at work as it was the major topic of the day. Normally I am completely out of the loop on nationwide topics and purposely choose to not pay attention.  Not because I don't care; often because I don't want our girls hearing arguments about which I feel we can't truly know who is telling the truth (Right-wing or Left-wing and everything in-between).  Also due to the fact that we don't turn the news on in our house.  Ever.  If I want to know news, I see the topics on Facebook - at least the basics.  From there I can google different papers from around the world to gather insight into a variety of views and beliefs about what is actually going on.

Today I had a lot of thoughts and feelings on the issue.  It's a personal issue for all of us - gay and straight.  I have many friends who are gay and lesbian.  I love them every bit as much as my straight friends.  They are loving, kind, considerate, talented, amazing, hard working and above all that, they are people.  They are not someone to be afraid of, someone to hate, someone to change or someone to avoid.  I'm happy to spend time with them and hear about their lives.

As a Christian who believes in Jesus and someone who believes what the Bible says (every word of it to the best of my ability to live it out as well as I can), the homosexuality/marriage issue is a challenging one.  Many Christian friends are asking us to pray for our nation stating that we are doomed, that this is the end, that today's ruling is awful.  Other Christian friends are jumping for joy and declaring that this is only the beginning of freedom for equal love.

I feel that our daughter put it into words best:  "People should be free to be free.  They should be able to make the choice to love who they want whether we agree or not."

Jeremy talked with her tonight about the ruling in regards to how we treat others and love others in a simplistic and beautiful way.  He began with different scenarios which helped Riley think about the rights that people have in the choices of their lives.  He asked if she believed that those who love the same-sex should get married.  She agreed that they should.

The point being that what a person chooses to do in their choice of partnership doesn't decide the rights they have as humans.  Just because we may not agree with others choices of partnership doesn't mean we should withhold their rights.  As Christians, we may not believe that people should marry someone of the same-sex, but that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be given the right to have that choice.

Our talks with Riley have been to share what the Bible says about same-sex relationships and then share about the rights of free choice as humans.  There's a human factor and the Bible factor.  The Bible is very clear in what it says about homosexuality... in as much as it is clear about what it says about greed, lust, adultery and other equally challenging sins.  The human factor is that we have been given free will.  If a partner is in the hospital and having surgery or dying, their same-sex partner should have every right to see them, be with them and have the same rights as a heterosexual couple. They are people.  If two same-sex partners have a child, that child should be treated the same as any child from a heterosexual child and not denied care due to hatred.  Their freedoms for protection should be the same - see this list of denied protections that I hope will be ended: Protections

Hatred and intolerance are quick to be shown from the conservative side.  I believe we must be respectful, loving and non-judging.  This issue is such a delicate and difficult one.  My friend Robyn posted a beautifully stated thought about it:

This is an issue that I have thought about a lot the past year or so, and have not spoken about because there are people I love who feel strongly in both directions. So if you read on, I'm trying to present what I think is a logical assessment of the situation based on what I understand American freedoms to be and what my religion dictates.
The separation of church and state involves two things: Freedom from religion (a.k.a. one religion cannot dominate or impose its beliefs and traditions on the remainder of the country) and freedom of religion (Americans have the right to practice their own religion freely).
Due to the first aspect of this, this decision was bound to come eventually. Equality for all has been one of the main goals of this country since its start, and the argument against it is based in religious ideals, which would not hold up as basis for law in an unbiased court.
As for the second aspect, we can't ignore that either. The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin - it is written in black and white on the page whether you interpret as valid in this time or not - therefore, you cannot logically argue that that statement is not a part of the Christian religion. If Christians are to have the right to practice their religion in the same way that everyone now has the right to marry, then churches and pastors should be allowed the choice of whether or not to perform or accommodate ceremonies that are against their beliefs.
There is a difference between practicing beliefs and acting out of hatred - for instance, the baker who chose not to bake the cake for the wedding should have been protected because that service supported the marriage which goes against their religious beliefs - which they are allowed to practice. However, had these bakers chosen not to bake a birthday cake for the child of a homosexual couple, that would be illogical - a child's birthday is not against our religion. I have also heard of a doctor refusing care to a child of a homosexual couple and I would go as far to say that that is against Christian beliefs to share Christ's love and care for those who need it.
I think at this time, everyone needs to see both sides and recognize that this country has afforded everyone certain rights. As Christians we need to have honest discussions of how to approach the issue in the way that best represents what Christ would do, and not based on our initial, possibly rash, emotional responses and learn how to move forward and protect our own rights. If we respond with name calling and disgust, I think it would be unlikely for any rights to be protected or voted for.
Lastly, Christians reading this - remember - Christ's last command was to go and make disciples. Before you post think - "Will this post help or hurt that goal?"

Checking In

Hadn't looked over my yearly goals in a few months and thought I should assess where I am half-way through the year.  My fifteen goals for 2015:

1.  Date night at a different restaurant each month
January:  Whiskey Cake
February: Seasons 52
... well, we've got some work to do here.  Haven't gone to any other new restaurants since for our date nights.

2.  Use our Vitamix to make breakfast smoothies at least two times a week
Yup - doing great on this one!

3.  Take Mommy/Daughter dates out with each girl - 6 dates for Riley and 6 dates for Julia through the year
- Haven't done a single date with either girl... need to work on this

4.  Exercise twice a week
Yup - getting this in.

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.
- Loving the books

6.  Send in tape/recording of my choir and/or Orff ensemble to perform at TMEA
- Recorded my choir and Orff ensembles, but have taken a new job so I did not submit them... maybe next year!!

7.  Submit application to be a presenter at TMEA
- Did not submit application due to so many changes

8.  Create illustrations for my music book
- Haven't started this

9.  Write ten Orff arrangements for my students.  Students perform at least three of them.
- Continuing to work on this and 

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
- Doing great on this!

11.  Try one thing each month that I have pinned on Pinterest
- Did this a few months; several times one month

12.  Save $160 a month
- Nope... never saved even the first month.  Completely forgot about this goal

13.  Kindness Advent in December focusing on specific families
(Clausen, Caldwell, Martin, Hill, Hosford, Townsend, Funkhouser, Ramos, Johnson, Neely...)
- Coming in December

14.  Take one overnight trip as a family - local or far away
- Haven't done this either

15.  Personal resolution - something incredibly meaningful to me but that I'm not comfortable putting into cyberspace... I'll let you imagine the possibilities :)
- Trying to remember what in the world I meant by this....????!!!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Meals We Cooked

Summer meals that we will be trying:

1.  Cheesy Turkey Meatloaf Bites from Epicurious
2.  Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs from Epicurious
* Riley asked what I was doing.  I told her I was looking up a new recipe to try.  She replied "Oh no.  I'm not so sure about that."  The meatballs ended up being quite good.
3.  Red Hasselback Potatoes

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Dance Recitals

Our girls both have dance recitals today in about an hour.  Julia had her dress rehearsal on Thursday night and stood on stage with her hands in her mouth - didn't dance.  She looked so pretty in her costume.  She was tired, hungry and overwhelmed from the week at GSES Camp.  (The girls did a four day sports camp where they also swam each afternoon)

Riley had a fabulous day with my dad at her dress rehearsal on Thursday as well.  She was able to get her hair done at my friend Lori's Supercuts and then my mom's friend did her makeup.  She looked stunning in the pictures they sent!  And so much older!

Today I can't stop thinking about them and hoping that this experience is a great one.  I'm in San Antonio at Orff III.  Amazing week.  I'm missing them so much today.  The girls are so beautiful and such wonderful dancers.  So incredibly proud of them and can't wait to see more pictures and videos!

Brief history of the last two months

No blogging has occurred in the last month at least as we've all been just trying to stay on top of the multiple and fast changes that have happened.  It's all incredibly positive and nothing that we had seen coming, but everything we'd prayed for the last few years.

In mid-April, I applied for a job at Good Shepherd Episcopal School.  I truly didn't think I'd get a call back (to which my husband said "Then why are you applying?") but I just felt that I should put myself out there.  For the Pre-K job of course - because at the time I was intimidated to take the middle school position for several reasons.  I received an email confirmation the next day and phone call the day after that.  I talked with two of the current music teachers and felt an instant connection that these were people I would love to work alongside.  After the conversation they said they'd be in touch.  My phone was having issues with voicemail and I couldn't access it until Friday (three days later).  On my voicemail was a message from one of the teachers asking if I would also be interested in applying for the middle school position.  After reflecting for a few days on the potential of working there, I figured it would be great to teach middle school and see if it would be a good fit for me.

Side note:  During those three days, my mom asked me if I'd applied for the middle school position as it seemed a much better fit for me as a teacher.  I love ensemble work, pushing students to do difficult and challenging pieces and working with the older students.  As the current teacher is the President of the National Board of AOSA and had taught there 31 years I was intimidated that I couldn't live up to the incredibly high standard set.  I had once told a friend recently that I felt bad for whoever took her position because it'd be hard to follow her...

We scheduled a day for me to teach Pre-K, 5th and 7th grade lessons as well as interview with staff and heads of school.  I was nervous, but excited.  My lessons were not perfect, but I loved my time with the students and the school.  As I met the faculty, students and staff I felt immediately at home there.  Then my nervousness became that I wouldn't be asked to take the job and would be disappointed.... compared to my nervousness before due to feeling that I might not live up to expectations of parents/school/former music teacher.

On Friday morning, I received a call asking me if I'd take the position.  It was a very easy answer:  YES!!  God blessed me with an amazing job at Good Shepherd and also with the opportunity to come to Trinity University in San Antonio to take Orff Level III with Chris as my teacher.  What an unbelievable way to get insight into her procedures, methods in classroom and details I would not otherwise have if I wasn't here.  Just finished the first week and am soaking up so much information... so amazing!!

One of the biggest blessings of the school is that it is about 13 minutes from Jeremy's work.  He's been commuting roughly an hour each direction every work day for 9 years.  We knew that we couldn't stay in our current home as it'd be difficult to drive so far each day.

We put our home on the market at the end of April.  Within 15 hours, we had multiple offers.  We were able to make a decision as to the buyer and had an inspection on our current home.  In the meantime, we found a home 4 minutes away from the school and 13 minutes from Jeremy's work.  We put in an offer, had the inspection last week and are now on our way to having both home closings on July 6.  We'll be able to lease back our current home through the end of July so that we can get some things fixed in our new home and possibly paint some rooms :)

The girls are able to come to Good Shepherd with me next year.  Riley will be in third grade and Julia will be in Kindergarten.  We've always hoped that one day we could be able to provide private school education for our girls and this is beyond what we'd ever hoped for.

It's been an amazing journey and I can't see what God has for us next.  He never ceases to amaze me with how He blesses our hard work and dedication to Him.