Saturday, August 30, 2014

Crash the Chatterbox

Author: Steven Furtick
Pages: 240 pages

This was a fun women's bible study that I did at church.  I met several amazing women.  It was a small group of us, but I truly feel like I learned a lot.  He is a very pentecostal-like preacher.  Builds up to very emotional/heartfelt sermons that have lots of oomph! (not totally sure how else to describe it)

You can find the videos we watched during the bible study on YouTube here:

Week One:  Whatever, Whatever

Week Two: I Know I Am

Week Three: It Will Happen

Week Four: Peter and the Packing Peanuts
*This was my favorite week!!

Week Five: This Time
*His wife speaks this week and it was a great sermon!

Week Six: Talk about it


Author:  Marie Lu
Pages: 336 pages
Buy it here:  Amazon

This book took me a while to read as I have spent so much time studying lately!  I have truly enjoyed the characters and care about them which makes for a fun read.  Looking forward to reading the second book in the series.

First Week of School - Check!

This is the absolute best start to a year that I can remember having since Riley was born.  Several factors made that possible:

1. I have tons of ideas from the summer workshops I've attended at SMU the last two summers.  More material and ideas to work with than I know what to do with!  And more confidence as a teacher.

2. I have felt as though my behavior management was slipping the past two years.  Kids were more talkative than in past years.  I wasn't as hard and expectant of students in their listening from the very first day.  Last year was a huge growth year for me as a teacher.  I have a renewed passion to teach and expectations that they learn.  It has made the first week go so smoothly, calmly and wonderful.  I feel like I'm getting more life back inside of me each year.

3. Riley is thrilled with her second grade teacher.  Mrs. Ward is cheerful, organized, has well-planned lessons and high expectations.  She looks forward to school every day.

4.  Riley chose to use an alarm clock this year!  She had the idea that maybe she'd like to wake up to an alarm clock and has loved it.  She woke up four of the five days on time and ready to go!  She was exhausted on Thursday and her alarm went off for 16 minutes before she turned it off.  She said she loves the sound of the alarm clock.

In fact, when she did the camp at TCHS while I had inservice, we walked by cicadas in the grass.  She said "Mom, those cicadas sound just like my alarm clock.  It's so beautiful!"

5.  Julia is dressing herself this year!  AND wearing socks!  She is not fighting us for thirty minutes to get moving in the mornings.  She's excited about getting ready and that she can do it all on her own.

6.  Julia loves her new preschool teacher, Mrs. Ascilla.  She has been a complete blessing from God.  She is tall, quiet, incredibly organized (she has their cubbies designated for specific items - clothes in case of accidents go in the top, folders in the bottom and all the nap mats hang in Blue Walmart bags from the hooks so they are all separate).  Julia is so happy to go to school.  Not one crying fit yet!  She sits at the morning table knowing that Mrs. Ascilla will be there in a few minutes and she just loves it.

7.  SMU Grad School has been just what I have needed.  I love being a student again and being challenged in my learning.  My colleagues in the classes are so fun and it's nice to be with people who truly understand me and my job.

Riley's first day pictures:

Sunday, August 24, 2014

SMU Tests

This past week I had my two examinations as part of my Grad school.  They weren't exams to get into the program - I'm already in.  They were to see if we are ready to go straight to Graduate Level Music History and Music Theory classes or if we need a review course.

The day after I received my acceptance letter into SMU, I opened my history book and began reading it.  Cover to cover.  All 900+ pages.  It was actually quite interesting and I enjoyed it.  This was in April.  Once I received our online practice exams, I started those right away.  It was so frustrating when I failed the first one.  But then I changed my perspective to seeing that the exams simply give us possible questions that will be on the test.  My job was not to try to pass them, but to gather information from the questions and begin memorizing, finding correct answers and working to understand what kinds of questions would be asked.

The last 4-6 weeks I have spent anywhere from 4-8 hours a day studying the music history sections.  Met with a small group of other students to review and learn and help each other.

I didn't spend as much time on the theory.  My thoughts were that I wanted to pass the history exams and focus on those before attacking the theory.  If I put equal time into both, I wasn't sure that I'd remember what I needed to know and pass both exams.  Theory comes easier to me (despite my results) and the amount of reading for the history would be more intense so I focused on it first.  Thankfully it paid off.

Each exam was 3 hours long.  History exam was three sections long with 100 questions in each section that needed to be completed in an hour.  Theory exam was four sections long.  Questions varied.  Needed a 70% in each section to pass

My results:

Form - 75%
Aural - 69.23%
Tonal Harmony - 64%
Contemporary Theory - 50%

Section One:  88%
Section Two:  94%
Section Three:  88%

I've never been so happy to get a C in my life!  Studied the form more than any other part of the theory.  So thankful to have passed that section.  Froze on the contemporary and praying I can pass that one next time.  50% - yikes!  Tonal Harmony - again, didn't spend much time reviewing so I'll focus on that next time.

I have six more opportunities to pass the tests.  Goal is to get it done the first opportunity that I have!


Riley loves the game Minecraft.  Just like a typical seven year old.  She was explaining part of the game to Jeremy.

Riley:  You can kill the creepers with flint and steel.  You indigate them!

Jeremy:  Oh do you mean ignite?

Riley:  No - in the night and the day!

Monday, August 18, 2014

More Love, Less Harshness

Riley has been quite sensitive lately which happens to all of us.  It has been about just about everything and I haven't really known what to do about it.  Lots of tears and anger directed toward me in particular.

At dinner tonight she refused to eat her food.  Yes, we have chicken anytizers (like chicken strips but smaller and better tasting than chicken nuggets) and noodles at least once a week.  Yes, we're all kind of tired of it, but it's cheap and has protein.  Jeremy told her that she wouldn't have to ever eat it again.  Which means I'd have to cook her something else whenever we eat it.  I gave him a look like "What?!  No way!"  and said "Thanks a lot, Jeremy!" out loud.  (Nice, I know)

Later as she was crying about it and he had made her some special dipping sauce to eat it with, she was continuing to complain.  I told her to eat it or starve.  That didn't go over well.  She then said she didn't want to be part of the family and that she felt like I didn't want her to live.  I tried to explain that I just knew that her body needed fuel and that since this was what was for dinner, that I was actually just trying to beg her to just eat it... for Pete's sake! (whoever Pete is)

It didn't work very well.  Dinner ended with Julia playing after she had finished her food, Jeremy sitting at the table with Riley as I just couldn't do it any more and as for me, I went to the computer to study for my big tests that happen on Wed. and Thurs. night this week.  Needed a chill out time... studying.

Jeremy gave Riley a really sweet talk about how special she is and how we both love her very much.  Riley cried sweet tears and we both smiled and talked softly to her.  Jeremy was particularly sweet in explaining things to her and reaching out to her.

Later in the night, Riley asked if she could talk to me alone.  I told her that she definitely could.

When it was bedtime, Riley was laying in her room and I came in to lay down next to her to read the Bible.  Before we read, Riley asked if she could tell me things now.  So I told her that it'd be a perfect time.

Riley then went on to talk about her feelings (so precious and insightful and deep for a little seven year old).  She told me that I get too harsh with her and that when I'm too harsh, she feels unloved and not very safe.  She said that she'd like it better if I was harsh with more love in it (she moved her hands to demonstrate what she was saying.  Wish I could demonstrate it on here).  That if I wanted to be harsh, I could add love and say things like "Riley, please don't do that."  And that it'd be better than being only harsh with no love.

She held up her hands and said that we needed more love like this heart (that she made using the shape of her hands).  And that if we didn't have love, our hearts might totally burst like her hands showed when they went apart.  That then there'd be no love.

I told her that I would definitely work on being harsh with lots of love.  And that I was thankful she pointed it out to me so I could work on that.

Then she said that I needed to be more loving to all the people in our family including Daddy.  That at dinnertime, when Jeremy had said she wouldn't have to eat chicken again (that chicken - not all chicken), that I was mean to him and angry at him when I didn't like that he said that.

**Side note: I have to say that I wasn't happy about it.  I didn't yell or start an argument, but let him know I disagreed in front of her thinking she wouldn't really notice.  Children notice everything!!  Everything.  Will need to work on this.

She continued to say that I needed to be more loving.  And that we don't want broken hearts.  Because her heart breaks all the time.

I asked her why her heart breaks and she said that it's because people are mean to her.  That there was a girl who wouldn't share with her today and let her ride a scooter.  That another girl stood up for her and that she wasn't going to be friends with the girl that wouldn't let her ride the scooter.

We talked about giving others another chance; that sometimes people don't mean to be mean - they are just being selfish and not thinking of others and are simply thinking on themselves more.  That the little girl only cared about having another turn on the scooter; not about whether or not Riley had a turn.  That it was selfishness being shown.

We prayed together and read the devotion from Jesus Calling.  Talked about what it meant and how we can trust God.  I find Riley so insightful and emotionally sensitive.

She then went on to ask if she should be a science teacher or a vet.  She can be anything she wants to be!  I have no doubt about that.

Alarm Clocks

Riley told us that she wants to start using an alarm clock so that she can get up on her own.  Since we still had one in Madi's old room, she took it out and hooked it up in her room.  Jeremy got her all set and she's now used it for a couple of days.  And loves it!!!

She woke up on her own to her alarm clock this morning and then came into our room to let us know she was up.  She said it's so really great to wake up and hear it beeping.  And to go turn it off by herself.  I think it's neat that she is enjoying it so much!  Wonder how long it will last???

Last "First Day of Preschool"

Today was Julia's first day of Preschool.  And the last "first day" at Lakeside!  She has been there for the past three years and this year will make year four.  We are beyond excited that she'll be at Ethridge with me and Riley next year.

Julia woke up at 4:45am ready to go!  I got up with her and asked if she wanted to get dressed.  Thankfully she did!  She has been thrilled about her new uniform clothing which made it really easy this morning.  She is also no longer fighting us about putting on socks which has been amazing!  As long as she can put them on herself (which is great by us), then she'll wear them all day and to bed too.  What a huge difference compared to her fighting us non-stop about wearing them all year.  To which we decided "who cares!" and let her go most of the year without them.  If she wanted to feel wood chips in her shoes after recess, that was her deal.

When we bought her new school shoes that she picked out, the new rule was that she had to wear socks with them.  No more really bad stinky feet!  And it's just safer and better anyway.  She didn't like the idea but when we got out her old Hello Kitty shoes to wear without socks and she wanted the new ones, she finally put on the socks and voila - we now have a sock wearing four year old!

After getting dressed (without shoes), I convinced her to lay down next to me to get a little more rest. 6am the alarm went off after our short nap and she was ready to go again.

Julia did an amazing job this morning - all smiles; no tears!  A great goodbye with our funny kiss and hug and then silly dance that we do when I leave.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Story of Jesus

Riley had a sleepover with Grandpa last night - Buca, movie and lots of ice cream, I'm sure!  It was just Julia, Jeremy and I.  We had a relaxing day.  We've been waking the girls up at 6am the last two days to start getting ready for school again.  All of us start tomorrow with teacher inservice, preschool - last year!! and TCHS camp for Riley.

Jeremy and I both read to Julia last night.  She and I read a few books while snuggled on the couch in our room while Jeremy was doing other things.  Then we all joined together in her room for a few last reads.  We ended with "The Story of Jesus."

We've read this book many times with her and she has parts of it memorized.  Jeremy would pause to let her finish the sentences.

Jeremy:  Jesus is the son of Larry.

Julia:  No!

Jeremy:  Jesus is...

Julia:  the son of God.

Jeremy:  He loves...

Julia:  us very much.

Jeremy:  We read in the Bible about Jesus and his...

Julia:  50 100 disciples.

Jeremy:  Or 12 too.  One day some children came up to Jesus.  His friends said...

Julia:  Go away!  Jesus is very tired.

Jeremy:  But Jesus said...

Julia:  Let the little children come to me.  All people should have faith like them.

Jeremy:  One day Jesus was preaching.  The people got very hungry.  One little boy had...

Julia:  five rolls and two fish for lunch.

Jeremy:  The boy gave it to Jesus to share.  Jesus fed...

*At this point, Julia looked unsure of what came next.

Jessica:  How many people did he feed?  (thinking she'd recall the number)

Julia:  (looking at the picture of the people in her book)  I don't know!  Let me count them!  1,2,3,4,5,6,7... and 8.  He fed eight people!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Oh Boy

We are watching our favorite show "So you think you can dance."  The girls love it as well.  At the beginning of a dance, the boy and girl kissed.

Riley:  Oh my gosh!  They just went mouth to mouth!

Jeremy and I looked at each other.  Then I asked "How do you know about mouth to mouth? And where did you hear that phrase from?"

Riley:  Umm... I don't know!  What is mouth to mouth?

Julia then turns to Jeremy and holds his face while saying "Daddy, I'll show you mouth to mouth."  Then she kissed him.

We explained that the phrase can mean that they're kissing or that someone is needing help breathing so the other person breathes into their mouth to help them breathe.

Jeremy:  This is only the beginning of life... of lots of new questions.

Got Milk?

Tomorrow Allison and Matthew come into town!  Matthew is about 5-6 months old.  Can't wait to meet him!

Allison wrote me a text last night and asked if the girls knew about breastfeeding as she uses a cover and feeds Matthew wherever necessary.  I replied back something like "Yes!  They're good!"

Then paused and stopped to think.  Jeremy and I started a conversation with the girls last night to see what they knew about how babies are fed.  We all sat in the living room on the couches and talked.

Me:  So Allison and Matthew are coming over!  Are you excited?

Girls:  Yeah!!!  Woo!!!  Yeah!!!  Baby Matthew!

Me:  Since he's still a baby, he'll eat a little different than we do...

Julia:  Babies eat their bottles.

Riley:  Yeah!

Me:  Um... not sure where to go from here.  (not sure why - just couldn't find the words)

Jeremy:  Ok.  Let's just do this.  So Riley - have you ever seen a cow feed her babies?

Riley:  Oh yeah!!!  ...   I mean.... what?

Jeremy:  Animal moms feed their babies.  Baby cows get milk from their moms.

Riley:  Oh yeah!  (then they listed a few more animals that get nourishment from their moms)

Jeremy:  Well, that's how it is with babies and moms.  The moms have breasts that allow them to feed their kids.

Riley:  What are breasts?

Jeremy:  Boobs!  The babies get milk from their mom's boobs.  (holding his hand in the appropriate place on his body of course)

**Insert hysterical laughing from the girls for a long time.  Insert bathroom break for Riley!

Jeremy:  Moms are like a drive-through.  The baby just goes right up to the mom and gets food.

Me:  When Aunt Allison comes over, she will be feeding Matthew.  She'll have a cover and Matthew will eat when he is hungry.  He'll be getting milk and filling his belly.  So don't ask what she's doing or go peek, ok?  Because that's his meal time.

*At this point the girls are both laughing more.

Riley:  Babies get milk from... BOOBS!!!  (hahahaha)

Jeremy:  God made Mom's bodies really special.  Their boobs fill with milk when they have a baby so that they can feed their baby.  When you were babies, Mommy fed you... at least for a little while.

Riley:  What?!  (more laughing)  Ewwwww!!

Me:  Yup.  I fed you for a little while.  Some Mommies feed their babies until their babies are one.  Some Mommies feed their babies until their babies are 6 months or 3 months old.  Some Mommies only get to feed their babies for a very short time.  But God allows Mommies to be able to feed their babies.  If not, then there is formula at the stores where you can get milk to help feed your babies.

[Trying to figure out how to let them know that they were only breastfed a little while - a few weeks for Riley and days for Julia - due to mastitis... why I was feeling the need to explain this now?!  As though she would understand the pressure to breastfeed your baby and understand that it doesn't always work and that it's okay!]

Riley:  Oh okay.

Me:  God gave special minerals and vitamins in the milk of Moms so that babies get exactly the food and nourishment that they need after they are born.

Riley:  So all Mom's have milk?

Jeremy:  The milk only comes in after the baby is born.  Then when the babies eat different food and grow, the milk stops being produced.  Like Mommy doesn't have any milk in her boobs right now.  (thanks hun)

Riley:  So how does it get there?

Me:  Your body just knows that it needs to feed your baby and it just starts making it.  Crazy huh!

Riley:  Yeah!

**Later that night, we heard the girls in the bathroom laughing hard and both taking turns saying "Babies get milk from ..... BOOBS!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Sewing a Shirt

Last night Riley went upstairs and she was quiet for a little while.  I called up to ask what she was doing and she told me she was sewing a shirt for herself without a pattern.  Ok!  She and I sew together.  The past few days we have spent time each day sewing dresses and a cape for her American Girl dolls.  I will pin and she will sew.  Here is the dress that she sewed herself (other than the velcro, the edging at the bottom and where the sleeve meets the top).

She has been doing some sewing on her own lately.  I'll go up and check on her as she sews.  I can hear the machine and she's great about keeping her hands away from the needle.  It's an awesome Singer machine - not a kid machine.  It's made great and Riley just learned how to change the settings for the stitches so she played around with them a little bit on her shirt.

Here is what she brought down:

She said that she used one of her own shirts as a pattern.  That the material wasn't stretchy so it ended up being smaller and would likely fit Julia.  Julia didn't want to wear it, but was finally convinced to try it on.  And voila!  it fit!

So here is Riley's design:

Memorizing Phone Numbers

Last night Julia held her play phone and asked me to come watch her because she has my phone number memorized!  She was so excited to speak each number and press each number as she recited my phone number.  Afterwards she opened her mouth wide out of excitement and we hugged and cheered.

One of the best things we ever did was to teach Riley my phone number.  Julia was catching onto a few of the numbers so it's something I've worked with her on at random times.  And not in a "you better learn this or else" kind of thing.  Just simply a "Hey - let's see if you can remember my phone number.  Then you could call me!"  (We play pretend telephone with dolls and things sometimes.)

For the past few weeks (2-3), we've played with the numbers and she's finally got it!  We shared with her that if she's ever lost and can't find us, she should find a safe person (i.e. a mom with kids nearby or a grandma or someone that is working at a store) to tell them she is lost.  Then she can give them my phone number and I can find her.

We practiced the number several times.  She then asked me to find the numbers on the phone but without saying the numbers out loud.  I did one number wrong a few times - on purpose - and Julia corrected me each time.  When I got it right, she hugged me and said she was proud of me.  "Good job Mom!!"

Highly recommend teaching your children your phone number!  You just never know when they will need it.  Our next task:  To learn our address!  She's almost there!


"Some people are dumber than Mom.  But don't worry - I won't tell them that."

This spoken by Riley at dinner last night.  With no prompting.  Jeremy then said "Mom isn't dumb!"  So Riley clarified:

"I mean some people do things that are dumb.  Dumber than Mom.  'Cause Mom sometimes does things that are dumb.  But other people do things that are dumber."

Side Note:
This conversation (I'm sure!) has to do with the fact that I took the mirror off our bathroom wall which resulted in an ER visit and stitches.  People have asked how I hurt my hand and often times I reply "Well, it was really dumb" before explaining what it was that I made the choice to try to do.  Amazing how our words affect how our children perceive us.  From now on, I'm going to say to others "Well, it was really brilliant" instead... think of how brilliant everything I do will seem and wonder if Riley will see me as brilliant ;)

In all reality, I will be simply stating the facts about the day and not referring to it as anything in particular - dumb or brilliant or wise or unwise.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Month Seven Review

Another highly productive month.  It was also a beautiful and cooler July than we've seen in Texas in years.  Only four months to go of 2014!  And a great year so far!

Goals for 2014:

1 - Wasn't as on top of things as far as sending emails or letter this month.  Hoping to make it more of a priority in August again!

2 - Finished Orff Level II in June!  Loved it.

3 - Start my Master's Degree at SMU in about three weeks.  Attending a study group, spending roughly 3-6 hours a day studying and have my first class the last week of August!  Woo hoo!!

4 - Have read lots of great books this year!  Truly enjoying it.

5 - Overspent this month on paint and doctor bills.  Had our sprinkler system redone and our dryer wasn't working.   Cha ching...  Total costs so far:  $588 just for the ambulance;  $1200 roughly for the ER room and doctor... several other bills still coming in.  Ouch!

6 - No allowance.  Girls just doing things around the house as a part of the family.

7 - Didn't have as much time to exercise when I couldn't use my right hand for two weeks.  Though I'm getting back to it and feeling great.

8 - Traveling took a back seat this summer.  Totally fine.  Plenty of other things came up... like a new sprinkler system box, sensor, 44 new sprinkler heads and others.  Practically a whole new system that spent any vacation money we would have had.  Feeling like we're the couple on the movie "Up" - where they save $$ in their jar and then break it to pay for car repairs, tree falling on the house, etc...  but that's ok.

9 - Savings has been put on hold.

10 - Do our second annual "Kindness Advent" in the month of December.  Days 1-24 we do kind things for others and family events that bring us together.

11 - If one bathroom project is good, then two bathroom projects must be better, right?  After a trip to the ER from taking off the mirror in the downstairs bathroom, I rested my hand for two weeks in a cast until I could actually use it again.  I wasn't feeling like finishing it for a while and had trouble using my pinkie at first, but it's back to almost full usage (still gets quite sore and hurts at times).

I used joint compound to add texture throughout the room and then painted the bathroom.  It looks beautiful!!  Found some new hand towels from Joann Fabric's and a bath rug from Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  Got a mirror on sale at Kirkland's for $16.55 and a cute new wall piece from Hobby Lobby!!  Super excited about that!  Though it hasn't been hung up yet because Jeremy has been working every day for the last three weeks on a big work project.  I haven't nagged him one time and figure that I'm not going to attempt it myself after the first mirror disaster.

The bathroom looks so much better that Jeremy mentioned that I could probably do the upstairs Master Bath at some point (the last room in the house we haven't redone in the last five years of living here... excluding the office with it's oversized furniture which will be hard to do).  I was inspired (and excited) so I went ahead and did the joint compound the next day, painted the following day and did some touch ups a few days later.  It's a huge difference!  At some point we'll add some new hand towels, bath towels and decorations.  For now, just enjoying the paint and loving it.

12 - Began our Women's Summer Bible Study at Hope.  It's called "Crash the Chatterbox" by Steven Furtick.  Enjoying meeting the women in my group and forming new friends as well as retraining my mind and my thoughts.

13 - Delicious Summer Meal!!
July - Chicken and Vegetable Kabobs with Rice, homemade basil chimichurri dressing and creamy basil dressing, salad

14 - There have been several families and friends that have needed prayer for serious illnesses, diagnoses and situations.  Thankful to pray for them!

15 - Piano song this month went  ehhh.  It was not my best!  But playing one handed (especially left handed) is hard!  (for me anyway!)
July - Etudes de piano number 2 by M. Moskowski (for left hand only)
* Here is a video of the song performed faster than I am playing it - wow!


Riley is obsessed with Maleficent.  Seriously obsessed.  She created wings out of cardboard and then used pipe cleaners to hold up the wings on her.  When they didn't work, she cut elastic and wrapped it around the cardboard and it's working much better.

She has walked around in a black velvet dress and her wings all day long.  She talks of nothing but Maleficent.  Why?

There is a movie out that her cousin told her about and she LOVES the trailer for the movie.  I told her I'd take her to see it soon.  She's beyond excited.

Tonight I found the girl costume on Amazon for $24 (much cheaper than the other websites) and awesome wings for $21.  We told her that if we get this costume, she can't change her mind and will have to be this.  She said "oh yes! Oh yes!  I won't change my mind and I love it.  Oh thank you Mom!!"  Being that she wanted to be Padme from Star Wars and then decided she didn't want to do it, I'm hoping we made a good choice.

Thinking that we did and hoping everything looks as good as it does online!  Now to store it for three months...