Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Month Four Review

One-third of the year complete.  Two-thirds to go.  This month was a big one for me.  I saw a lot of goals come to fruition (or at least the beginnings of what is to come).  I also saw that I'm still having a hard time with former habits that are hard to break.  But I'm improving and that's worth continuing to push toward being better.

So how did it go in April?

Goals for 2014:

1 - Send an email/letter/card to a different person every week encouraging them, praising them and thanking them.  This one is fun!

2 - Go to Orff Level 2 in Summer of 2014 at SMU.  All signed up for the course and ready to start it in two months!

3 -  Signed the letter to attend SMU Master's Program, set up my email account and preparing for my music history and theory tests by studying.  Can't wait to start classes in August!

4 - Read a lot this month:
Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Be Careful What You Wish For by Jeffrey Archer
How to Talk so Kids Can Learn by Adele Faber
One in a Million by Priscilla Shirer

On Chapter 7 of "A History of Music"
Started the book "The Happiness Project"
Almost finished with "Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy" - only 35% left

5 - Spent just over $150.  Much better this month.  I did buy the girls an outfit each this month which totaled almost $60.  They are growing like weeds and spring clothes are soon upon us.  Will be hitting some great sales in May for the summer and hoping to be very wise about how it is spent.

6 - Not doing chores for pay.  Girls are doing them because they should do them.  I wasn't sure what I felt about trying it for pay; thinking maybe as they get older, but for now, they need to do them to contribute to the family without pay.

Although they are getting a quarter for every time that I say "Darn it."  It's become something that Julia says constantly and I never noticed how much I say it.  (It's with 'rn' at the end - not an 'mn')  Wanting to stop the habit.  This week I've only had to pay 50 cents so that's good!

7 - Worked out every day this month except for one.  Loving the P90x3 workouts.  Great mix of strength, cardio and stretching.  Went for a few runs this month as well.  One run was 1.5 miles long - pure running/no walking.  Felt so very great.  My arms are getting so strong and I have a 4-pack/almost 6-pack abs which I've never had my whole life.

8 - Got more info on a trip to Arkansas.  Not sure if we'll do it, but fun to look into!

9 - Have saved $906 so far.  Much more than needed at this point as the total goal for the year is $1378.  My goal is to have $1500 saved by August.

10 - Kindness Advent in December.  A few months away ;)

11 - Bathroom, ugly bathroom.  Shall remain this way for a little while.  However, I did build 12 American Girl Doll beds with a lot of my Dad's help (should say that my Dad built the beds with a little of my help), used my first Rustoleum spray for the first time ever to redo a large easel, a doll bed and to create a life-size American Girl Doll box for the party.  Learning some new skills!

12 - Attending the Women's Spring Retreat.  Still planning to sign up for a summer bible study, but very excited about the "Wide Awake" retreat on May 16-17!

13 - We all had a meal together one night.  My mom cooked a delicious meal, but we didn't do our usual meal planning for the month.  It was just too crazy to fit it in.  So I can't really count it as I didn't do anything.

14 - Prayer is going well.  Making time and a space to do it is key.  Tony Horton (P90x3) has a great saying that "A 30 minute workout is only 2% of your day."  I'm sure he's not the only one that has realized this, but for me mentally, it's a great thing to realize as it puts in perspective that 30 minutes is not a long block to find.  We all have 30 minutes somewhere in our day to spare and to put towards our spiritual health.   I can find 2% of my day to pray, read the Bible and spend time with God.

15 - Learn one new song on the piano each month.
One of my piano students asked if I'd ever heard the song "Maple Leaf Rag" by Scott Joplin.  She said she really likes it and asked if I could play it for her.  So it became my song this month.  I've had to practice it quite a bit.  Can't say that I really have the last section down, but the first two sections sounds great!  (If I do say so myself)

How to Talk so Kids can Learn

Entire Title:  How to Talk so Kids Can Learn at Home and in School
The Book I thought that I had purchased on my Kindle: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will talk
Authors:  Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Pages:  266
Purchase Here:  Amazon
Or Purchase the Book I was wanting to read here:  Amazon

There is always something I can do better in my classroom.  Especially with classroom management. I am not hard-core strict; nor am I loosy goosy.  I like order, control and for my amazing lesson plans to work with all the kids in every classroom.  (Dream - I know.  But it's always worth striving for!)

I like that this book gives suggestions for how to think through what and how our words are used when talking with others.   You can say the same thing, but get a totally different response when words are used with thought and care; even in hard situations.

They used the ideas from a variety of experiences to create a realistic conversation between teachers/students/parents.  There were cartoon strips to demonstrate the point.  While some of it was like "um - right.  That is not where that conversation would end," there were some good ideas.

One of the things that stuck out to me were the quick reminder pages.

Instead of questioning and criticizing, you can:
1. Describe the problem.  "I see wet paint on the floor"
2.  Give information.  "It's easier to remove paint before it dries."
3.  Offer a choice.  "You can clean it up with a wet rag or damp sponge."
4.  Say it with a word or gesture. "The paint."
5.  Describe what you feel.  "I don't like seeing paint on the floor."
6.  Put it in writing.  ATTENTION ALL ARTISTS:  Kindly restore floor to original condition.
7.  Be playful.  (Sing a country-western song describing what you see)

Instead of dismissing the child's feelings, you can:
1.  Identify their feelings.  "You sound disappointed.  It can be upsetting."
2.  Acknowledge their feelings with a sound or word.  "Oh." or "I see."
3.  Give the child in fantasy what you can't give them in reality.  "Wouldn't it be great to have a magic pencil that would stop writing if you were about to make a mistake?"
4.  Accept the child's feelings even as you stop unacceptable behavior.  "You're still so angry about that grade, you're kicking your desk.  Please choose to either tell me what's upsetting you.  Or draw it.  Or make a different choice."

Instead of evaluating, you can:
1.  Describe what you see or hear.  "You caught the rhythm of a train and you found a way to rhyme track with clickety-clack."
2.  Describe what you feel.  "It makes me feel as if I can actually smell the flower!"

Instead of criticizing, you can:
1. Point out what needs to be done.  "All this poem needs is for the words caboose and freight to be spelled correctly and then we can hang it up on the board!"

FREEING A CHILD FROM PLAYING A ROLE (the gymnast/the smart one/the pretty one/etc..):
Instead of labeling a child, you can:

1.  Look for opportunities to show the child a new picture of herself/himself.  "What self control!  Even though you have a lot more to say, you realized that others need a chance to talk too."

2.  Put the child in a situation where she/he can see herself/himself differently.  "I'd like you to lead the class and make sure everyone gets to speak."

3.  Let the child overhear you saying something positive about him/her.  "She has so many great ideas."

4.  Model the behavior you'd like to see.  "I'm sorry.  I didn't mean to interrupt.  Please finish what you were going to say."

5.  Remind the child of her past accomplishments.  "I remember when we talked about the Civil War and you had great ideas."

6.  State your feelings and/or expectations.  "When other people are waiting to speak, I'd like you to keep your comments brief so others can share too."

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wild Night

Riley's fever still won't break.  Started the night of her meet on Sunday and has continued the past two days.  Have loved being home with her to take care of her and comfort her.  Though I am not loving my docked pay each day at work that I am off.

Today Riley slept in until 10:40am and I didn't want to wake her as she had a rough night last night.  Around 2am, Riley came loudly into our bedroom yelling "MOM!!!  MOM!!! I'M ALL BETTER.  I AM NOT SICK ANYMORE!  MOM!!!!!"

I was in a total fog as I had fallen asleep in Julia's room, awoken by Jeremy so I could take my meds which also make me quite sleepy and had only slept a few hours since.  I remember her asking if I was awake and my response was a groggy "No."  And not because I wanted to be rude, but because I was not quite with it.  Definitely didn't feel awake.

She kept talking so incredibly loud - just shouting.

Jeremy felt her head and said "Oh baby.  You've got a fever."  He left and got the medicine while she was loudly proclaiming that she was healthy and no longer sick.  Her next sentence explained how cold she was (chills).

Gave her meds and she was wide awake so she watched a Barbie movie until who knows when (I fell asleep).  At some point, Julia also crawled into bed and wanted to snuggle.  Which meant I was forced to sleep on about seven inches of mattress.

Since she slept in so late, I wasn't able to get Julia to school so she ended up staying home too.  She was thrilled about this.  I did call her school to find out when her dance class was as she takes dance during the day.  I asked if I could bring Riley up to watch and they said yes (um - okay, I wasn't really expecting that) so we did get out of the house long enough to go watch her at dance class.  Riley put her head in my lap the entire class so we probably should have stayed home.  Though it was awesome to get to see Julia in action.  She listened well and did a great job on the steps.  She loves her tap shoes and making lots of sound!

Tomorrow will be another 'at-home' day with Riley.  Hoping she can kick this thing tomorrow so we can return back to school on Thursday!  Especially with her birthday on Field Day on Friday!

Monday, April 28, 2014

One in a million

Author:  Priscilla Shirer
Pages:  212
Where to buy:  Amazon

This book was ok.  I liked it but didn't love it.  There wasn't anything that really grabbed me until the very end of the book.  The cover made it sound amazing and interesting and while I did enjoy it, it wasn't as good as I hoped it was going to be.  Wasn't bad.  Just wasn't amazing.

TAAF Gymnastics State Meet 2013

Riley had her last meet yesterday at Pioneer Hall at the TWU Campus.  It was a great venue and she looked amazing.  Took me six meets to get her hair perfect but I finally got it.  She wasn't quite acting herself this morning and we figured it was because she was tired.  She'd had the lock-in at Ethridge on Friday night and got to bed late at 10:30.  Then 3 hours of gymnastics on Saturday followed by Ikea and the mall and then setting up the new nightstand next to her bed and reorganizing her room.  She said she just wanted to sleep and asked for a pillow to take in the car, but didn't complain.

At the meet, she had amazing poise and presence.  Vault was first and she did amazing!!  One of her best vaults ever.  She scored well on bars despite having to come off them - which she never does - in the middle of the routine.  On beam, she looked flawless.  Her feet were so pointed and body so tall.  She stepped off the beam but other than that, it was a beautiful routine.  (Three out of the four girls stepped off the beam at the meet and none of them had done that the entire season.  Not quite sure why but it was what it was.)  The last routine was floor and Riley had a practically perfect floor routine.  Most of the other events were done and so the girls were the last floor group to go.

Riley walked on with straight arms and legs - tons of stage presence.  It was amazing.  Her scores were:

bars - 8.0
beam - 8.7
vault - 9.1
floor - 9.0

When we got home, Grandma came and surprised Riley with a bouquet of the most brightly colored flowers in yellow, orange and blue as well as a $10 gift card to spend wherever she wanted.  Grandpa came to the meet but Grandma had a violin lesson so she met up with us after.

We all went out to Texas Roadhouse as Riley loves that restaurant.  However, she spent practically the entire meal with her head on Grandma's lap and despite eating three rolls, ate nothing else.  She wasn't acting herself all night and seemed to not feel well.

This morning she came and woke me up early to tell me she was hot and didn't feel well.  101 fever.  She then told me that she wasn't feeling good after balance beam at the meet and that she knew she couldn't quit.  She said she just kept telling herself that she only had one more event and then she was done and could rest.  What a trooper!

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Julia has a name for every hairstyle that she wants.  She started this a while back and named them based off of how she has seen characters in movies and dolls wearing their hair in the stores.

Princess Hair:  This is where you have half of your hair down and then the front portion pulled up into a ponytail that rests on top of the hair that is down.  She started calling it 'princess hair' last year and it just stuck.

Anna Hair:  This is where you divide the hair with a comb down the middle and create a braid on each hair like the character 'Anna' from Frozen.

Elsa Hair:  This is where you make one braid in the back using all of the hair like the character 'Elsa" from Frozen.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

April Spending

The fact that I'm not posting this until April 23 probably says a lot about how this month has gone financially.  Have done such a great job!

April spending so far:

April 5 -
$18 - gift for Riley's friend (birthday party)

April 13 -
$22 - gift for Julia's friend (birthday party)

April 19 - 
$53 - Lowe's:  purchased all of the wood, nails, screws and plywood to make 12 American Girl Doll Beds for Riley's birthday party next month

April 23 -
$20 - Fee for the School Lock-In Party on Friday for Riley

April 26 -
$30 - new outfit for Julia for pictures from Naartjie
$27 - new outfit for Riley for pictures from Macy's

April 27 -
$6.50 - can of Rustoleum to spray the AG Doll box for the party and white duct tape

April 30 -
$6.54 - two more cans of Rustoleum for spraying AG doll bed and easel

Total for the month:  $183.04

Total Money Makeover

Author:  Dave Ramsey
Pages: 272
Buy on Amazon

Great book.  Really practical financial advice.  Basically he has several goals that you achieve one at a time through a tremendous amount of prayer, savings, hard work and eliminating extra spending.

There are seven baby steps (taken from one of my least favorite movies ever: What About Bob) that help set you completely debt free:

1.  Save $1000 to start an Emergency Fund

2.  Pay off all Debt using the Debt Snowball
Start with the smallest debts that you have.  Emotionally and mentally, this sets you on the right path toward realizing your goals of paying off each debt.

3.  3-6 months in savings

4.  Invest 15% of all household income into Roth IRAs and pre-tax retirement

5.  College funding for your children

6.  Pay off home early

7.  Build wealth and give

For more information, go to Dave Ramsey's website found here.

I love the idea of this process.  I completely believe that it works, that it is also a ton of work (but then again, everything worth doing is) and that it is something our family should work towards.  We have step one already accomplished in four months.  We are in the midst of #2 - paying off our debt which is shrinking many times over this year.  $11,000 paid off; $6,000 to go.  We can do it!  Praise God!

The part that really gets me is being able to provide $$ for college for my kids as well as being able to invest into our future.  At the moment, we have minimal of each and it seems like a dream to be able to set more aside.

Tracking my spending has been a huge success (despite last month's giant spending spree).  I'm at least aware and more on top of it now.

Looking forward to making a plan with Jeremy and seeing what we can accomplish by the end of the year!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Leopard Prints

I'm a pretty basic person.  I don't mind my clothes being mostly solids and simple prints that can mix and match with just about anything.  Especially cardigans and patterned scarves.

Every month I get a free pair of panties from Victoria's secret and a few months ago I chose to get a leopard print pair.  Totally stepping out of my comfort zone with that purchase.  Just your basic everyday panty - nothing flashy or skimpy or even old lady baggy - but it was leopard print so I thought I'd get it.

Chose to wear them today.  Not that you care, but it is part of the story.  I chose a dark navy dress with tie-dye fabric with a jacket.  Figured it was dark enough and didn't even bother to do a test run in the mirror to double check.  Mistake Number One.

Didn't figure I'd be bending over helping students create intervals on large butcher paper.  Mistake Number Two.

Didn't expect to be outdoors calling out car numbers in our car line for 15 minutes.  Bright sun - somewhat sheer dress - leopard print panties.  Mistake Number Three.

Wasn't planning to give Riley her shower tonight and bending over to hear Jeremy say "Did you wear leopard print panties today?"  Mistake Number Four.

I replied "Yeah - why?  How do you know?  Can you see them?"  (duh - how else would he know as he doesn't usually remember what I put on in the morning)

Jeremy answered with a nervous/half-laughing smile on his face because he could see them and that told me everything.  Oh the look of terror on my face as I played back all the times I had to bend over to help students today.  Oh.  My.  Word.

I then did the mirror test and pulled the fabric tighter to my bottom and about died.  So for all of you car line parents, teachers, students, co-workers and anyone else I may have come into contact with, I'm so so very sorry you had to see that.  I will stick to my usual solids from now on unless wearing jeans or something I am SURE is too dark to see through.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Norton is my new best friend

Hello.  Meet Norton, my new best friend and book composed of 986 pages of music history information.  I've been spending much time with him lately (and yes, Jeremy is aware).  He and I will be great friends by August when my music history test occurs.  I also have a music theory test to take so I will also be online reviewing information - especially anything to do with modes.

Book Information:  A History of Western Music

Great online study guides:

Online Norton History Study Guides and Quizzes

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beds Finished

All twelve beds are ready and prepared for Riley's birthday party.  Not surprised that we pulled it off and yet I'm completely amazed that we actually did it.  Today was so much easier.  Much less stress with the nails and hammer;  lots more piecing things together.

Riley saw a picture of a canopy bed that she liked.  My dad came up with a way to create a canopy for her bed.  It looks amazing.  Julia's excited that her beds will stack to create bunk beds.  I'm loving the website and all of her ideas.  Thinking that maybe it will be possible to build a dining table one day after all!!

One of the best things about this weekend was having so much time with my dad.  We didn't talk about anything really, but just enjoyed each other's company while we worked to build.  He was a trooper to put up with my less-than-amazing skills.  I love that he taught me the parts of the drill as well as reminded me many times for where to hold while he drilled (despite my finger being so close and my fear of having it cut... actually I knew it was safe - just so close!)

When all was said and done, there were twelve beds laying side by side in the garage.  I asked Jeremy what he thought.  He said that it was a great little orphanage.  Yup.  And so true.  He also mentioned that it looked like we went to Ikea because they are all just wood colored - no paint or stain.  Unfinished.

We then started talking and laughing about it all.  He joked that the girls would have fun playing orphanage with their American Girl Dolls... oh the irony.

I'm listening to both of our girls laughing and giggling and playing together.  So contagious is their joy.

Resurrection Rolls

Happy Easter!!  Celebrating Jesus death and resurrection today in a new way.  My friend Karen told me about Resurrection Rolls that she makes with her kids.  She sent me the recipe and so I chose to make them this morning with the girls.

Resurrection Rolls Recipe

Each part of the roll helps kids learn about Jesus resurrection.

Marshmallow - represents Jesus.  My husband laughed about this as I told the kids "This is Jesus.  Well, not really.  He wasn't a marshmallow, but pretend this is him."

Butter and Cinnamon- represents preparation of Jesus' body for burial with spices.

Crescent Roll - They wrapped his body inside of the tomb where He stayed buried for three days.

I seriously tried very hard to make this a wonderful and applicable lesson for this Easter day.  I pinched them tight to make sure they were sealed.  I also cut the marshmallows in half to be sure that they'd stay inside.  Then we cooked them.

Julia was awake at 6:30am so we cooked her four rolls first and left the other four for Riley to make once she woke up at a much more reasonable time of 8:45am.   :)

Julia wanted to watch her rolls bake.  As she watched the oven, they began to grow and the rolls turned light brown.  Next thing you know, Jesus (the marshmallow) is oozing out of the rolls.  All over the pan.

Julia:  He's getting out!!!!  Oh no!!!  He is coming out!!!  Dis is not good!

This prompted a discussion that Jesus didn't really come out of the tomb that way.  The angel rolled away the tombstone to reveal that only Jesus' clothes remained.

Julia:  Dat's like in my Bible!!

Awesome - she got it :)  Apparently the second roll she ate didn't have enough cinnamon in it as it had all oozed out.  Julia really wanted the spices in it.

I planned to make sure to seal the rolls much better this time.  Pinched them well.  Riley wanted to do the steps herself.

Me:  Take Jesus and dip him in the spices to prepare Him for burial, Riley.  When we put Him in the tomb, we want to make sure He's all secure and we'll pinch the roll tight.

Riley:  Mom, can I do it myself?  So we're wrapping up Jesus.  We have four Jesus-es.  Can I eat four Jesus-es?  Can I wrap Him up myself?  I can do it, Mom.  There He goes.

They began to cook and were looking great until there was about two minutes to go.  Jesus decided to break through the tomb and come out the tops of them this time.

Riley was watching with awe and exclaimed "He's coming through the cracks in the tomb!  Good golly - He's coming out!!!  It's a little puff ball.  He melted!!"

Again, I explained that Jesus actually rose from the dead - He didn't melt in real life or come out for people to see until He had actually risen.  We talked about Jesus walking on the road and meeting Mary and talking with her.  Riley remembered the story.  Then ate her rolls and enjoyed the cinnamon inside.

Maybe another attempt next year!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Bed Building Day Number One

Here are the beds we're making for Riley's birthday party:

American Girl Doll Bed

We did a trial run a while back and made one for Riley and one for Julia.  They turned out great so we knew we could handle making them in bulk.

My dad cut all the wood.  My mom, Riley and I got to work sanding all of the pieces.  Tons of pieces.

The Sanders...

The Sawer.

Riley was the best at it.  Her wood pieces came out perfectly smooth.  She got really hot after a few pieces and went inside to research things that bunnies eat.

There was a bunny sitting in the shade on their back porch area.  You could walk right up to it and it wouldn't move.  Riley created a home for it using a wicker basket and colorful flannel fabric with flowers.

As my mom and I sanded, Riley opened the door and asked "Do we have any canteloupe or artichokes?"  We smiled and my mom said she didn't.  A few minutes later she popped her head out to ask "How about bananas?  Or basil?"  They had basil so my mom gave her some of that to put by the basket for the bunny.  Later she asked "How about dandelions - roots, flowers and all?" They then went outside and found dandelions for the bunny.  The bunny ended up eating the basil!

We were able to get all the pieces sanded.  My dad began to put together the rails of the bed.  *Warning:  read directions before assembling despite having done this before - it will save you much time.*  This was something neither of us thought to do.  Why?  Not sure.

I began to put together the headboards and footboards.  My first one was a total disaster as I spent more time pulling out bent nails than I did actually putting it together.  However it made the rest of them a million times easier as I learned from the many mistakes I made on the first set.  Just stayed patient, enjoyed the breeze from the wind blowing into the garage and kept moving forward on it.

Lots of rails, headboards and footboards.

My dad finished the rails and we started out to put the headboard to a rail.  It didn't fit.  No matter how we turned it.  Turns out that the shorter rail is supposed to be nailed to the outside of the longer rail.  Not vice versa.  While meant that all 24 rails had to be completely redone.  My dad pried them all apart and put them all back together again.  What a guy!!!

I kept going on my section and completed the headboards and footboards minus a few that my dad did. Along the way I hammered my pointer finger on my left hand several times in the same place.  It is now purple and red and swollen.  I somehow hammered some skin on the palm of that hand as well to give me a really nice blood blister.  The price of determination and very little woodworking skills.  But I did it!

We were able to get six of the beds completely finished.  They really look awesome!!  We only have six more to put together (when our pink drill is charged again as we stopped when it ran out of juice...). They should go much faster since pretty well everything is put together.

Six little beds all in a row...

Riley was shrieking "EEEEEE" when she saw all the beds.  My dad is amazing to be doing all of this and helping out so much.  I thanked him several times.  Hoping he knows what a truly amazing and cool thing this is that he is doing.  He's a very great Grandpa to give his time and skills and bad back to this project.

Party Preparations

Happy Easter Weekend!  We spent this weekend doing some rather different kinds of things from the normal everyday.  Riley's birthday party is coming up in three weeks.  My parents are out of town for the week before the party so we needed to get to work on cutting, drilling, hammering and building.

Jeremy has a large project at work that he is trying to get done.  He took Julia with him down to his work while Riley stayed with me as I taught piano lessons.  Julia has had a fever the last four days.  Comes and goes and is rather inconsistent.  Wasn't sure she'd be up for all the building and dust at Grandpa's house.  Riley didn't have gymnastics today so she came with me to build.

Her party is slowly but surely coming together.  I finished sewing doll dresses for each girl's doll and crochet hats to match.  Riley also sewed a dress and Julia helped push the pedal down as I sewed some of the time.  The foam mattresses are cut, pillows created, comforters sewn (all except 5), and mattress fabric cut out.  There's been a ton of creativity going on at home!  And what for?  Lots of American Girl Doll Beds!

The party is a 'make-and-take' where girls get to help finish with supplies for their dolls.  Each girl will get a doll dress, doll hat, wooden bed with comforter, mattress and pillow.  They'll help with stuffing the pillows, adding ribbon on the dresses and have other crafts to do at the party.  Riley wants an ice cream bar - no cake.  We'll do pizza for dinner, movie time in our pjs and some fun games.  She has invited ten friends (no boys - as they aren't that into dolls).  The girls are all polite, kind and get along which is a complete bonus!

The girls and I had gone to Lowe's to pick up all of our supplies on Friday.  We needed 17 1x2 boards, 3 1x3 boards and 4 large pieces of 1/4 inch plywood.  The girls loved sitting on the large blue flatbed as there were piles of wood on both sides of them.

We brought the boards to my parents house yesterday so that everything was ready. Riley loved carrying one of the 8' boards through the store when we had to trade a piece due to large staples.

Today was building day number one!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Be Careful What You Wish For

Author:  Jeffrey Archer
Pages:  400
Where to get it:  Amazon

Jeffrey Archer is cruel.  And I mean that in the best possible way.  He is one of the only authors whose books I have read several times over.  I love to read new books but find that I read his repeatedly.  He is cruel in that I have to wait until Spring of 2015 to read the next Clifton Chronicle in order to find out what happens next. An amazing storyteller.  LOVE LOVE LOVE this one.  Characters you root for and care about.  Great plots with great twists and lots of adventure.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Beatrix Potter Assignment

Riley really enjoys the Beatrix Potter books.  One of her most recent assignments has been to write three letters - each one to a character in the book.  She did them at school and we weren't aware of what she had written.

Her first letter was addressed to Peter Rabbit and is as follows:

Dear Peter Rabbit,
Don't get into mishchif other wise you mite get cate (caught) in Mr. McGregor's pie's.  Lisen to you'r mom.  Don't get cate or, eaten, or gon.

By Riley

P.S. We love your Storeys.

Her second letter was addressed to Samuel Whiskers and is as follows:

Dear Samuel Whiskers,
Don't stel plese ake first, then take, last eat and take home.  am i cler or do you need SMACCAN!

By Riley

(Don't steal please ask first, then take, last eat and take home.  Am I clear or do you need smackin!")

**Please note:  we have never said those words.  We asked her why she wrote it that way and she said that he is a naughty bunny and that she thought it'd be funny to say that to him.  We just laughed.

Her third letter was addressed to Timmy Tiptoes and is as follows:

Dear Timmy Tiptoes,

Don't even thingk about getting even FATER then you were!  and Don't even thingk about geting even squermeer (squirmier) Then you are!  and never go in a tree!  and help goody do the work.

Oh. My.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Goal Quotes

I'm a very goal oriented person.  Almost to a fault.  Jeremy will often tease me about having goals for my goals that are smaller goals that lead to my big goals and then to the ultimate final goal.  :)

I love quotes like these that motivate me to be and do the best I can with who I am and what I have.  Here is some advice for helping your goals become realities:

1.  Make a decision

"Decide what you want, decide what you are willing to exchange for it. Establish your priorities and go to work." -  H. L. Hungt 

2.  Do what you can do now.  Not later.  That will come later.

"Go as far as you can see, and when you get there you will see farther."
Orison Swett Marden 

3.  Focus on your attitude towards your goals.  You'll make better progress if you allow yourself to be changed along the way.

"What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals." 
Zig Ziglar 

"Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude." Thomas Jefferson 

4.  Planning makes the difference

"If you don't know where you are going, you'll probably end up somewhere else."
Lewis Carroll 

Making It Happen

I am beyond thrilled to say that after crying a little yesterday, thinking about SMU non-stop yesterday and talking with Jeremy about how this is something that I want to do and that will be a pivotal moment for my education and opportunities later, we have chosen to make it work.  Didn't take much conversation as he was aware of my desire.  He was incredibly supportive and said that he'd be here to help support my dreams.  Am I blessed or what?!  SMU - here I come!

I'm determined to save to make the graduate degree work for our family without the burden of financing it by going into more debt.  There are so many reasons to do the degree and only one to not.  While the one reason to not do the degree at the moment is that it is an extra $1500 per semester, we have finances coming that will make it work.  Between Jeremy's upcoming raise, commissions adding on and the opportunity to save until August, it will work.  Now for self-control on my part when it comes to frivolous spending.  I did amazing in February, awful in March and April so far is turning out fantastic.  (Only 18 days to go... positive thinking!)

We had a garage sale at my parents' house this morning.  Made $73 off of our old stuff.  So thankful to not have to bring it home!  Put $55 toward the savings fund which is now close to $820 after this weekend.  (Over halfway towards the first semester of SMU!)

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I received the best news and news that needs to be thought about all at the same time tonight.  Jeremy handed me an envelope from SMU Graduate Admissions.  I have been so nervous about it and just wanting to know either way whether I have been accepted.  Finally the envelope was in my hand.  I took a deep breath and opened it.

The first sentence confirmed my hopes:  "Upon the recommendation of the faculty of the Division of Music, it is my pleasure to inform you of favorable action on your application and to offer you admission to the Meadows School of the Arts to study toward the degree of Master of Music in Music Education beginning with the Fall term 2014."

Amazing and happy, happy news.  I feel so incredibly blessed to have been chosen to be one of only twelve educators chosen to be a part of SMU.

The news to think about comes in the fact that due to finances and our desire to pay off our current debt (our credit line debt of $6000 at the moment - down from $17,000 just over a year ago), I am prayerfully considering not accepting their offer and working towards becoming fully debt-free again instead.  Between piano students, watching spending and being wise stewards, we are determined to knock it out.  We're so close!  And the degree would only make it take so much longer as we would accrue more debt despite the tuition being affordable... if that makes sense.

Years ago when we were first married, we were debt free and remained that way until about 3 years ago when everything broke down in the house (all major things).  While we were debt free and newly married, we had only $800 in the bank and my college reunion was coming up.  A bunch of my friends were going to Lee to sing and visit.  I wanted to go so very very badly.  It would have sucked our savings dry between air flights, meals and time off of work.  There didn't seem to be much of a choice.  After prayer and tears, we decided that it would be best for me to not go to the reunion and to stay.  It was a very pivotal moment for us.  Jeremy was able to get his CFP, God blessed us financially, and we soon were pregnant with Riley.

This isn't to say that I'm expecting that things will be perfect or that life will be easier by declining the offer at SMU.  I've already gotten teary tonight just thinking about how sad I am at the thought of possibly declining the offer as this as it's been something I want so very badly.  However, God knows my heart.  He knows my desires.  He knows what I need and potentially the timing just isn't right at the moment.  Prayers appreciated.

Birds and the Bees

After watching "Olivia," Riley turned to us and said "Where do babies come out of?"

Totally out of the blue.  Olivia didn't discuss the topic at all.

We asked her what she meant.  So she clarified:  "Where do they come out of?"

My answer was that they come out of the mom.  Figured that would be adequate enough of an answer, but apparently she wanted more information.

Riley:  No that's not what I mean.  I mean like what part of your body do they come out of?

Me:  Well, what have your friends said?

Riley:  They say that babies come out of your B-U-T-T.

Me:  It doesn't come out of your butt - that's where poop comes out of.

Jeremy:  But it does come out of that area down there.

Riley:  How?  How does that work?

Me:  You have muscles down there that stretch open to let the baby out and then the muscles come back together afterwards.

Riley:  Oh - I see.  So the muscles open up enough to let the baby come out and then after the baby comes out, it goes right back.... does it hurt?

Me:  Well, yeah.

Jeremy:  But God has given us amazing doctors and medicines that help so that it doesn't hurt as much.  Some people take the medicines and other people don't.  Mommy had some of the medicines.

Riley:  Did it make it not hurt?

Me:  Yes.  It helped a lot.

Riley:  So why does Darth Vader become Darth Vader?  Like how does his Mother - I mean his Dad - become Darth Vader?

And off we went on the topic of Star Wars.

Monday, April 7, 2014

April Spending

April 7 - present for Julia's friend Sam;  birthday party on Sunday  $22
Barbie, Barbie car and Barbie outfit


Author: Veronica Roth
Pages:  544
Where to buy:  Allegiant @ Amazon (won't let me link at the moment...)

Don't waste your time!  There are so many better books to be read.  It was almost as though a different author wrote the third book compared to Insurgent and Divergent.  The book let me finish the series and for that I'm glad I read it.  But otherwise, I wouldn't waste my time reading it again.

I had heard the ending was controversial and people were mixed on what they thought about it.  Honestly I was glad it ended the way it did because at that point, I was tired of the whiny characters and there moaning and groaning.  It didn't matter to me if any of them went as I was tired of hearing about their plans without anything happening.  It was like the movie "Dying Young."  I remember watching it with my mom and we were both saying "Please die already!"  Yet we felt the need to see it through to the end.  (Sorry if that's morbid and rude.  I just couldn't take any more.)

Read at your own desire and if you enjoy it, good for you.  As for me and my house, we will read something else.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Roller Skating

Riley was invited to her friend's birthday party and it happened to be at Interskate in Lewisville.  I loved to rollerskate as a kid. I was pretty good at it - could go backwards, forwards, turn my feet into second position and move sideways in a smooth circle.  I even figured out how to do the fancy turns/spins like they do in ice skating.  I would turn on Barry Manilow (seriously) and Madonna and roller skate in our basement for hours at a time.  Some days I'd even dress up in pink dance tights, a leotard and skirt so I could pretend I was Katarina Witt.  (I loved her name and secretly wanted to be Russian.)  My parents probably thought it was ridiculous, but they never let on.

Now that I'm 36, the idea of roller skating is more precarious.  I wasn't sure that I was ready to roller skate again after not having done it in a while.  The last time I went was with Beverly, Madi and Riley in Killeen a few years ago.  Riley was newly five (or four?) and lacked balance on wheels.  Madi was getting the hang of it and did great by the end.  It was quite the workout.

Since Riley really wanted to go, I decided I'd take her and try it out myself.  As we left, I told Jeremy "Pray for our wrists and that we don't break anything."  Riley did really great.  She used the pvc pipe concoctions that create a v-shape so that they can learn how to skate.  Though she spent several times falling due to her skates kicking into it and then needed help getting it up and then getting herself up.  If I encouraged her with "You're doing great!", she would fall and glare at me while saying "Don't talk!  I can't concentrate!"

After the party, there were no broken bones and Riley simply said "Mom, thanks for going skating with me.  This was the best night!"

The Antelope in the Living Room

Author:  Melanie Shankle
Her Blog:
Pages:  224
Buy it Here:  The Antelope in the Living Room

I read her first book "Sparkly Green Earrings" last year and loved it.  I couldn't wait for this book to come out.  Started reading the book last night and finished it this morning.  Laughed out loud many times (not the lol like we post in texts where we're not really lol, but a true lol that is actually out loud).  So much so that Julia asked "Mommy, what's so funny?"

Jeremy responded that he always got scared when I read books about marriage like this one.  I didn't clarify exactly why he felt this way, but thinking that he probably felt like I'd experiment with our relationship with things like "Hey, according to this book, I have unrelenting standards and you have realistic standards so we need to try this new thing out every day to make our marriage better." (and yes, that truly happened in our first year of marriage - wasn't pretty.  That book I read nearly killed our marriage before it had a chance to really begin.)

Then I read him several excerpts from the book and had him laughing quite hard too.  I reassured him that this was a safe marriage book and that it was simply funny.  He seemed to relax quite a bit.

I love that way that Melanie writes.  She doesn't assume perfection and doesn't give advice as to how to make your marriage better.  She simply talks about life as it truly is in her world and since it's about a marriage of two imperfect people, I could completely relate.

Highly, highly, highly recommend this book.  Light, easy reading.  Sentimental at times, but mostly funny and relatable.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Puny Muscles

I've never had strong upper body strength.  Have never been able to do a pull-up.  Not even one.  Don't want the bodybuilder look, but would love to have more toned arms.  Bring on P90x3 and what a change!

I was thinking my arms were still looking pretty puny and non-muscular (or unmuscular?).  A friend came over on Tuesday and while we were talking, she looked at my arms and said "Wow - you are getting so buff!  Your arms are so buff - what are you doing?"

So I told her that I was doing P90x3.  She totally made my week with her comment.  So thank you Kerin!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Month Three Review

March is gone - April is here!  Loving the beautiful weather.  Spending time outdoors and keeping the windows down in the car.  Lovely!!

A few quotes to keep you motivated:

“Success is the sum of small efforts repeated day in and day out.” – R. Collier

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” – Nora Roberts

So how are my goals coming?!  Here goes...

Goals for 2014:

1 - Sending an email/letter/card to a special person can be so easy and simple and meaningful;  yet I did it only a few times this past month.

2 - I registered for the Orff Level II Workshop for this Summer 2014 at SMU.  Can't wait!!!  Hoping lots of Paul's Level One Class comes again - looking forward to seeing my friends!

3 - I should hear back soon as to whether or not I am accepted into SMU's Graduate Program.  Been checking my email a lot, but nothing yet!

4 - This month was the month I chose to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.  Enjoyed it, but it took a while to get through.  Also read the book "And Life Comes Back" by Tricia Williford.  Literally read it in part of a night and the next morning.  Go get that book - you'll love it!!  

Reading "Allegiant" and "Total Money Makeover."  Eleven books completed so far this year.

5 - Did HORRIBLE on this one this month.  Between birthdays, wants and good sales, I caved.  Determined to make April a better savings month!  Goal is to give myself $50 per month per person for 'fun money' towards clothes for myself and the girls.  (Don't have to apply to Jeremy because he doesn't get clothes unless he needs them and I end up overspending on clothes)  Total = $150 per month on clothes per person

6 - Have not been doing a commission chart since they got sick in February and they don't ask for $$ and have a bunch left from January... need to get better about having them do chores without any pay.

7 - I am now in the middle of my seventh week of P90x3 and loving it!!  Worked out every single day except one in March.  Getting close to a six pack which is pretty cool, but feel like I'm still wimpy in the arms.

8 - Looking into doing a family vacation in Arkansas this summer - sounds fun!?  Never been there and only about a five hour drive which is close enough for a four day weekend.

9 - Total saved so far is over $600.  Doing great! To see the challenge, click here:

10 - Do our second annual "Kindness Advent" in the month of December... waiting until November to plan.

11 - Downstairs bathroom is still ugly.  But I did sand and repaint and repurpose a rocking chair that I stole from my neighbor's garbage (thanks neighbors!).  It looks so cute with Julia in it too!

12 - Attend a Women's Bible Study at church at the new West Frisco Location where we are now going... waiting for summer!

13 - Cook a meal with my mom every month - alternating side dishes and main dishes.  The meal this month in March was amazing!!!!
January - Chicken Marsala with asparagus-new potato hash. (Southern Living)
February - Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin, Basic Vinaigrette (Shauna Niequist)
March - Mediterranean meal with yogurt chicken, homemade hummus, homemade pitas 

14 - Pray for a particular person(s) each day of the week all year.  Improving!
15 - Learn one new song on the piano each month.  This month's song was beautiful! Though Julia kept saying "Dat song is tooooo long!!!"
January - didn't do this and got the idea for it in the beginning of February.  Still plenty of months to hone a skill and add a goal!
February - Ballade in C Minor by Chad Lawson.  Sheet music purchased at
March - Dance you Pretty by Chad Lawson.  Beautiful!