Sunday, January 31, 2016

Spring in Winter

The past few days have been in the 70s. The girls are loving having the windows down in the car as we drive!  Julia loves to put her face near the window so that her hair blows hard.  The girls laugh incredibly hard.

Yesterday Riley and I took Val for a long walk.  Today all four of us took a family walk with the dog.  Jeremy and Julia went back sooner and Riley and I continued on to walk him longer.  As Riley said, "I'm an outdoorsy girl.  If I have the chance to be outside, I'm in!"  (Meaning she wants to be outside)

After church today, I knew I wanted to be outside a lot.  After all, how often do you get to enjoy 75 degree weather in January!!??  I thought it might be awesome to paint the playhouse out back.  We had two gift cards to Home Depot.  I told Jeremy that I thought I might do that.  He raised his eyebrows and shrugged and was like "Whatever you want to do."  I called my mom who quickly said "OH!  Sounds like so much fun.  I'll eat lunch and come right over."

We went to Home Depot and found the color Riley wanted (sea blue).  But while walking past cans that had been returned, we found a blue-grey for $9 and a darker grey for $2.  Both exterior paints in the can sizes we needed.  Great savings compared to roughly $30 a gallon per color!  Couldn't turn down the price and decided to go with those.  We also got a few cheap brushes, thick roller covers for rougher surfaces and primer.  Total cost:  $42.  Used our gift cards and still have $ leftover so it was nothing out of pocket.  Gotta love that.

The wood soaked up the primer like crazy.  Took an entire gallon to cover the entire playhouse.  We let it dry in the hot sun.  Didn't take long at all.  Then painted the main blue-grey color which was so much easier as it just went right over the primer.  Began painting the doors with the darker grey, but only got a little more than halfway done.  Will get back to that later.

Both Riley and Julia joined in to paint.  They were more excited to stand on the fence and talk with the new neighbors' kids who are much younger and that was just fine.

Looking forward to adding some cute signs, plants and wreaths!  So fun!!


Lucy and Ethel exchange propane tanks

My mom and I have often referred to ourselves as "Lucy and Ethel" as our excursions often result in silly situations.

Today we went to Home Depot to get paint for the playhouse in the backyard.  Jeremy asked if we could fill the empty propane tanks.  Figured it couldn't be that hard so we took them with us.  Upon getting them onto this long cart and walking them into the store, a worker told us to take them outside (guess you can't have propane inside... didn't think about it before doing it).  He said he'd be with us in a bit.  We saw a machine where you could exchange your tanks, but it kept saying something about being prepaid.  My mom stayed outside while I went in to pay for the tanks.  So far we were doing pretty good.

After paying, I came outside and put our code into the machine.  The machine practically yelled at us as it gave directions.  Have never heard one SO loud!  There were three pictures demonstrating that you take out a tank and put your empty one into the cage.  I thought it was showing that if you put your empty tank into one side of the cage, a full tank would be available on the other side to take out. I proceeded to push the empty tank into the cage thinking it would open up the cage.  Obviously that didn't work.

My mom and I then went to a few cages and tried to open them to no avail.  We really are smart people.  It just made no sense at all.  After trying a few times, we pressed the help button.  At this point we were laughing because we knew we were doing something wrong and yet we had no idea what we were doing.  The worker came over and helped us.  It turned out one of the cages had opened on its own after the code was put in.  We were supposed to trade them out and shut the door.  Then another cage would open and we could do the same thing.  However, one of the cages was empty with no tank so the worker helped us find a full tank.  We told him that if he wanted a good laugh, he could check out the surveillance video as we had no idea what we were doing.  He smiled.  And likely went back to watch ;)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Less Facebook, More Family

One of my goals this year has been to get off Facebook.  I've had this goal before, but haven't really been motivated to do anything about it.  I mindlessly go on and just scroll.  Looking for what?  Not sure.  It's fun to see what others are doing or thinking.  It can also cause me to compare my life to others lives and feel as though it must be so much better to be them.  Though I know this isn't always the case.  Just feels that way.

It has been so freeing to be off of it.  Mind you, the app is still on my phone.  I moved it to the last screen instead of the front screen.  I still check it but for very very short periods of time and only one time per day.  Typically less than five minutes or shorter.  I have posted two times this year.  Normally I post every day.  Why?  Not sure about that either.  Just seems like something you do.

Instead the girls and I have come home and played board games.  Particularly the game Sorry as it's Julia's favorite.  Or Barbies.  I've been much more present and with them.  It's helped clear my mind, enjoy where I am presently and to truly engage with reality.  This has been a great thing.  Only hoping I can continue to do this.  Much better balance of reality vs. online.

TMEA Scholarship

I applied for a scholarship towards Grad School a few months ago.  The Texas Music Educators Association is composed of teachers across the state (myself included).  They hold the largest music educator conference in the nation in San Antonio every February.  It's incredible to say the least.  I applied last year and did not get the scholarship.  Felt bummed about it for sure, but knew I'd go for it again this past year.

Yesterday a letter arrived in the mail from TMEA letting me know that I was chosen for the scholarship this year.  It will go towards my education this summer or fall.  It's a huge deal and I'm so blessed to be awarded with the scholarship.

Best Cooker of Mac and Cheese

Almost every night the girls rate who makes the best food.  They go through the order of who cooks each item the best.  A typical example would be how Riley rates who makes the best grilled cheese.  Her order is usually "Grandma's is number one.  Dad is number two.  Grandpa is number three.  Mom is number four."

Tonight Jeremy was working late so I made dinner for the girls.  They are never happy about this.  Jeremy is THE most amazing cook (or cooker as the girls always say).  I do not even begin to compare.  Unless you include my chocolate chip cookies, but that's baking which is totally different than cooking.

Julia groaned about how I was cooking and that since Dad wasn't home, I couldn't possibly make her a grilled cheese because it wouldn't be as good as his.  She asked for Mac and Cheese.  She wasn't happy that it was a box of shaped Mac and Cheese.  She was really hoping for spirals, but alas, it was all we had.

I put them in a bowl for her and called her over to eat.  She gave me the rundown of who makes Mac and Cheese the best.  She began: "Ok.  So Dad makes it the best.  Then Grandma.  Then Riley.  Then Aunt Allison.  And Uncle Jon.  And Matthew.  And then you.  You're the last.  But if you come close, I'll tell you something about being at the end."

I went close to hear what she would say.  She waited a little while to whisper "Nothing."

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Good Samaritan

Tonight Julia went to have a sleepover with my parents while Jeremy and I had a night out with Riley.  She was all excited to wear clothes that my Aunt Monica sent her from when my cousin Hilary was younger.

We went out to NorthPark Mall where we walked around for a bit before taking Riley to one of our favorite restaurants:  Seasons 52.  Riley was precious as she raved about each part of the meal.  We had a lot of many different foods including a flatbread appetizer with small slices of pepperoni, mozzarella and tomato, romaine and kale salad with croutons and caesar dressing, noodles with sauce and fresh parmesan cheese, and her personal favorite part: the s'mores small dessert with chocolate mousse and brownie.

The conversation was often about the food and then about the flowers (bromeliads) in the restaurant as well as other topics.  Jeremy and I both talked with her about how boys she dates later in life should treat her well.  Riley shared that it would be polite for the boy to ask her what her favorite restaurant is so he'd know where to take her to eat.  That he could take her to Seasons 52.  I said that he might take her to McDonald's.  She wrinkled up her nose and said "No way.  I'd just dump that boy."

After dinner, we walked around the mall and spent quite a bit of time at the Lego Store.  Riley found a Princess Leia keyring to put on her school backpack.  We got Julia a Lego Friends Mia keyring for her backpack.

As we were walking, a teenager spilled their coffee/drink in the middle of the floor.  She looked unsure as to what to do and then just walked away.  Riley looked at us and said "We need to clean that up.  We can't just leave it there.  Somebody could get hurt."  We were near a Corner Bakery so we went in and asked if they had any towels or napkins.  They gave us a white towel so we took it out and cleaned up the spill as people walked by.  I'm sure it looked as though it was our mess, but if that's what they thought then at least they watched us clean it up.  I brought the towel back to the manager of the Bakery and he thanked me for cleaning it as well as asked where the spill had been.  I told him that a girl had spilled it and how Riley had wanted to clean it up.  He asked Riley to come in and asked if she liked cookies.  He gave her a choice of cookies and asked her if she knew what a good Samaritan was.  I shared the story from the Bible briefly.  He said it was very thoughtful of her and thanked her.  Riley still isn't sure why it's such a big deal that she wanted to clean it up.  Without boosting her ego but helping her understand that she has a big heart that notices what the right thing to do is, we explained that she just keep her sweet, generous heart the way it is now.

Riley said it was her favorite night in a long time.  Ours too :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Who Needs Heat?

Richard, our favorite A/C and heating guy, came out to our home to evaluate the system.  He showed me where to put in a new filter in the system in the attic.  I paid attention (sort of) to the direction the filter should go in.  By the time Jeremy came home with the filter, I couldn't remember which way the airflow should move and which way the filter is put in.  Jeremy stood on the ladder to the attic as I climbed across the beams to put it in as I knew I wouldn't be able to describe exactly where it went.  Better to show him.

Richard had made a comment that there wasn't a light in our attic so it's hard to see up there.  I saw a switch on a post and thought that it might turn a light on.  When it didn't work, I shut the light switch off.  Got the filter put in, left the house to go shopping and eat and then returned.

Our home was freezing by the time we got back.  I figured it was because I had put the filter in the wrong way so the system had shut off.  Jeremy figured it was because I had flicked the light switch off.  Sure enough - he was right.

In the meantime, I'd moved the thermostat up about five degrees to see if the heat would start up in the furnace and maybe that would trigger it to work.  Once the switch was turned, I forgot to turn the heat down.

Jeremy came out of Julia's room when he was trying to put her to bed and turned it down.  Just thankful our system is working great!

Names I Won't Use For My Children

Julia loves the Minions game on the iPad.  While playing today, she said, "Do you know why I won't ever name any of my kids Stuart?"  We asked her why.  Her response:  "Because it has wart in it - Stu.  Wart."

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goals for 2016

This last year threw me for a loop as far as goal setting goes.  While I'm thrilled that life was more wonderful than it would have been if plans had gone my way, I haven't been able to really figure out what to work towards.  For January, I'm going to work on these goals and assess where we're at after the first month to see what is working, what needs tweaking and what other goals may come up.

Goals for 2016:

1) Read 16 books in 2016
  a.  10% Happier
       A fellow blogger said this book was life changing.  I know nothing about it, but the thought of being 10% happier sounds awesome.
  b.  The Bible
       Actually got out a practically new pink bible that I got a while back.  Planning to read it and take notes in it.  Love online devotions and devotional books, but want to get back to the most important source.
  c.  Other books soon to come

2) Financial Check Ups
     Jeremy and I have been debt free for almost six months now and loving it.  The plan is to now work more on savings.  Every Saturday morning we'll do a check-up using our accounts and assess how we're doing.  Started that today.

3)  Disconnect so I can Reconnect
     Often Facebook sucks my time and energy away from the people who are closest and most important in my life.  Riley recently said something about how I always have my phone in my hand and I'm always on Facebook.  She's also referenced herself after doing something and said "You should put that in Facebook."  It's obvious that it's taking away.  I'm not refreshed after being on it, I search without purpose and while I love to see what others are doing, it causes me to not be doing anything with those around me where I am.
     To disconnect, I'm planning to set aside time one day a week for one hour or less to look at it.  I will respond to private messages if any are sent, but I've moved the icon on my phone to the last page and just working at being more present.

4) Write 4 original pieces for middle school curriculum as well as examine, restructure and design pieces around Music For Children Volumes. One piece per grade level!
     I want to compose pieces that will allow my students to be further challenged.  I plan to use pieces from the volumes and pull out what I can get from the pieces as well as see what various ways the pieces could be taught/re-composed/dissected.

5) Teach a music education seminar/workshop.
     I want to use what I've learned in the classroom to teach other music educators.

6) Take a self defense class.
    Living in the area we do, I want to have more knowledge about how to protect myself and our girls in particular too.

7) Learn more Spanish with Duolingo and find ways to interact with others who speak Spanish.  Get a Spanish workbook to learn more.
     This past year I spent at least half of the year practicing Spanish with the app Duolingo.  I have improved a lot, but have so far to go.  I want to find a way to get more learning about Spanish.

8) Travel as a family
Using airbnb.com or Southwest Airlines or going by car to visit family, I truly want to have at least a week away with the four of us together.

9) Engage in meaningful and purposeful relationships
     Invite friends, neighbors and coworkers to our home for dinner.  Plan to do this at least six times this year.

10) Continue my education at SMU towards my Master's Degree with excellence.
     While I'd love to continue to work towards keeping my 4.0 GPA, what I'd really love to do is continue to immerse myself in my studies so that I can learn as much as I can about music, education and how to be a better teacher.  I'd like to take either the Orff Master Class and/or Kodaly Level II.

11) Find ways and time to work out.
   Walk the dog, go to classes at our neighborhood clubhouse, workout at work after school or at home.  Always feels so much better when I've done something instead of sitting around.

12)  Use our Crockpot to plan means ahead of time.
     Cook 10 crockpot meals this year.