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:  

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.**

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Camp Dry Gulch

Riley went to Camp Dry Gulch for six days this past week.  Over 400 kids from our church and many leaders embarked on an amazing adventure in Dry Gulch, Oklahoma.

We weren't sure how the week was going as she wasn't in many of the pictures and we didn't have correspondence with her for the time she was gone, but we prayed and hoped she was having a great time.

My mom and all three of us went to go pick her up from church.  My mom had made some cute signs to welcome Riley and we had quickly colored in a few of them as we found out she was an hour early to getting to the church!  When we arrived, the buses were pulling in (perfect timing!)  We held up the signs and Jeremy was the first to find her.  Riley was waving furiously out the darkened window.  She looked so incredibly happy and then held up her new little stuffed animal and made it dance in the window.  I got a little teary... sure had missed her!

When she got off the bus, she said "It's Me!!  I'm back!!"  As Julia went to give her a hug, Riley snubbed us all and ran to find her best friend Heather.  She was wanting to be sure to say goodbye to her before she left.  Riley was happy to be home and told us several things about her experience.

She said that there were 22 girls in her cabin.  She got to sleep on the top of a bunk while Miss Olivia slept underneath her.  She said the top bunk had bars to keep her in but the bottom bunk didn't.  And they wanted the smaller girl on the top bunk instead of the counselor on top.  She loved that she got to share a bunk with one of the counselors.  She said they were both so nice.

Riley continued to tell us how she was too short to do the single go-cart, but she drove the double one two times.  Thought it was kind of boring because she wanted to do a single go-cart by herself.

My favorite statement was when she described how they got everything finished and cleaned on the last day.  "We had to put our mattresses up against the wall and pick up the paper towels off of the bathroom floor.  Like first they let you play and then they make you work."

Me:  It's a hard knock life...

Riley:  I told them it was like a fancy orphanage.

(this was followed by tons of laughter from all of us)

Her friend Sydney lost her tooth at camp and the tooth fairy came!  But another friend lost her tooth on another day and she was told that the tooth fairy could only make it to camp on specific days and she didn't come.

Riley was very impressed that her friend Sydney got letters from her dog.  She said "Our dog is smarter than every other dog.  Except Sydney's.  Her dog wrote her letters!!  Unless it was her mom that wrote letters for the dog...." and then she had a thinking face for a while.

She loved camp and was glad to be home at the same time.  I know she learned a lot about God and Jesus and her faith as she's been singing the camp songs and made a picture at church today that had tons of things written on the cross that had been mentioned in the videos/pics from camp.  I love that she had a successful camp experience and seems so much more mature now.  What an awesome girl!