Monday, January 26, 2015

Getting Older

I've had a few talks with my friend Ed (the counselor) about what it's like to be seven years old - almost eight.  She has shared that it is a very pivotal age with life experiences becoming more real to them.  That the imagination is wild and active; that they understand that death and bad things can happen and are real.

Riley has had a wide range of emotions so I bought her a book from the American Girl store called "Feelings."  It is amazing.  We read a few pages each night and talk about it.  I saw there was a page bookmarked in the back as I was flipping.  It was the section on anger.  Riley tells me "Oh Mom.  I bookmarked that page to read whenever I am angry.  It helps me so much to read it."  She's so sweet.

In the book, it talked about changes that will come for girls as they get older.  It didn't go way into detail, but was just enough to spur on an appropriate conversation with Riley.  I told her that she'll feel a wide range of emotions and that it's completely normal.  She has wanted more personal space when showering or changing clothes which is great.  We've respected that and let her know it's completely great.

I mentioned that in the next few years, sometime between third and fifth grade, she'll notice her body changing a little bit and that she'll start to wear a training bra at some point.  She asked what that was.  I told her it's a small, short tank top that's like a bra and just gets her used to wearing one each day.  Doesn't truly train anything.  She was like "oh ok!"

Last night she pulled me aside into our bedroom and asked me if I could show her the thing that she might wear in 3rd or 4th grade.  I told her that I could and that I actually had some of Madi's training bras that she used.  She asked if they came in different colors and what they looked like.  I pulled out four or five that we still had to show her.  Riley was super excited to see how soft, little and colorful they are.

She then asked if she could try one on.  My thought:  why not!?  So I showed her how to hook the back together and turn it around.  Figured this way she'll know how to do it before she needs it and won't be embarrassed in having to ask for help when she does need it as she'll know what to do.  She put it on and says "Wow - this is soo cute!  I love the pattern and how soft it is!"

Then she looked in the mirror and fell flat on her bed while laughing hysterically.  She took it off with her dress over her and said "This is how you do it when you don't want people to see you change.  I've seen you do this, Mom."  Yup.

Then she laid down in bed and asked if it's uncomfortable to wear them all the time.  I asked her if she thinks about how she's wearing underwear all through her day.  She laughed and said "No!  I just wear them."  I told her that wearing a bra is like wearing underwear - you get used to it and forget it's there.

Riley then wanted to know if she'd have big boobs.  I told her that I didn't know.  She told me she'd eat lots of healthy food to make sure they were small.  I told her that eating healthy is important but we also have cells inside our body that helps to decide how tall we get, how big our boobs are and things like that.  She then said she wants them small because she doesn't want them hanging out of her shirt.  That big boobs are scary.

We laughed.  Then she said "Mom... you're the best Mom in the whole wide world.  You're sweet, you're kind..."  I told her that she was amazing and that I loved her.  I realize this is the beginning of her innocence in a way, but am thankful to have the chance to help her navigate whatever is ahead.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Whiskey Cake


Our first date night of the year!  I sent out a Facebook post asking for restaurant ideas.  There is no shortage of fabulous places here in Dallas.  Several people suggested Whiskey Cake so we went with that.  It was incredibly crowded and very hip.  We joked that we were the old people in the young people joint... at the ages of 37 and 39.

Jeremy had called ahead, but for some reason when we talked to the girl our name wasn't even there.  She put us on the list with the 8:10pm group.  This was at 6:45pm so we had at least an hour and a half or so to wait.  We weren't sure where to go so we went to the closest place we could.  The car.

We sat in the car until 8:00pm.  I joked that we should have a make-out session and steam up the car. (We didn't)  We talked and laughed and talked and laughed.  It was the best time we've had in a long time.  Actually, it's the only time together we've had in a while.

When we got into the restaurant, we ended up waiting another 30 minutes.  As we waited, we people watched.  Jeremy made the joke that he was waiting for someone to call out "Cartwright-party-four!" (Seinfeld reference)  I joked that we should pretend to take the Triplehorn's reservation.  (Date Night movie reference)  We talked and laughed some more.  Then I texted my friend Christine for a while and he checked out some stuff online.  Finally we got seated.

We ordered the hummus and pita appetizer.  The pita bread is incredibly great!!!  Jeremy got a Calico Amber Beer by Balast Point which he loved.  I got water because I didn't want to spend $8 on a glass and instead wanted the appetizer.  Traded wine for hummus and it was worth it.

For the main meal, Jeremy got Mahi Mahi with watercress and balsamic dressing on a bed of blue corn grits.  I got the Rotisserie "Farm Bird"- half spit roasted chicken with sauteed bloomsdale spinach and smoky onion mustard jus.

Even though we were so full, I wanted to try the Whiskey Cake because I didn't know when we'd come back to eat there.  Plus they could take the pecans off so I could actually eat it!  Best decision ever to have it!!

It is a toffee torte with bourbon anglaise and a side of whipped cream.  Ate much more of it than I had planned as it was incredible.

My Review:  Go!!  A must-eat-at restaurant!!  And make a call before 6:00pm for a call-ahead.  Then call again at 6:05pm to make sure you are actually on the list ;)  Unless you're a group of eight or more and then you can make a reservation so I would suggest that you find at least 7 friends and go.  Definitely an amazing place to eat.

Mahi Mahi

Riley:  So how was your date night?

Me:  It was great!  We had to wait TWO HOURS before we could eat though.

Riley:  Wow!  Why?

Me:  The restaurant was so crowded because so many people wanted to eat there.  It was worth the wait though.

Riley:  That's great!!  What did you eat?

Me:  I had chicken and hummus and pita bread.  And we had the whiskey cake which was amazing. We brought some home for you to try!

Riley:  Oh thank you!!!

Me:  Daddy had Mahi Mahi, a type of fish that's in the dolphin family.

Riley: What?  He ate a dolphin?

Me:  No!  He ate a fish from the dolphin family.

Riley:  I would NOT eat it.  Dolphins are our friends!  If you were older, like 60, and you were using a cane near the ocean and you dropped it in the ocean, the dolphin would save it and bring it back up to you.  And if you got lost in the sea on a ship and you fell out of the ship, the dolphin would sometimes bring you back to shore.

Me:  Oh.

Riley:  Would you eat it?  Would Dad eat it?  Would I eat it?  NO!!  I would not eat my friends.

Me:  I would not eat it.  As far as Dad, I think if it tasted good, he'd eat it.

So both of us headed downstairs to talk to Jeremy about it.  His response was what I expected and it was such a cute conversation between him and Riley.

Riley:  Dad, would you eat a dolphin?

Jeremy:  I'd try it!

Riley:  No you wouldn't.  I wouldn't let you eat it.  Dolphins are our friends!!

Friday, January 16, 2015


I'm not used to rejection.  This became apparent when I experienced it this week.  I applied for a large scholarship for graduate school and received an email on Tuesday stating that I was not one of the people selected to receive it.  Bummer.

Then I heard from two friends that I am in class with in grad school and both of them received the scholarships.  I am extremely happy for them!  They truly deserve it and it will be a complete financial burden off of them.  Their 'win' takes nothing away from me and who I am.  It is theirs to have and incredibly deserved.  I truly am so thrilled for them.

Glennon's article was something that I read about a week ago.  I loved it then and love it even more today.  I used to feel that when someone else earned something I was hoping for, that they were better and I sucked.  That they were winning and I was losing.  The older I get, the more I see that this was their appointment and my disappointment.  But that my appointments will come when they are right for me.

There is enough.
I am enough.
I have enough.

Her Good News Makes You Feel Bad

If this wasn't enough of an article to help God speak to me about not looking at myself as a failure, I read a chapter in the book "Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown tonight.  The chapter was on scarcity.  And spoke to the exact same thing:  you are enough!

My favorite section was a long quote from the book "The Soul of Money" by Lynne Twist.

"For me, and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is "I didn't get enough sleep."  The next one is "I don't have enough time."  Whether true or not, that thought of not enough occurs to us automatically before we even think to question or examine it.  We spend most of the hours and the days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don't have enough of... We don't have enough exercise.  We don't have enough work.  We don't have enough profits.  We don't have enough power.  We don't have enough wilderness.  We don't have enough weekends.  Of course, we don't have enough money - ever.
We're not thin enough, we're not smart enough, we're not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough - ever. Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we're already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.  And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn't get, or didn't get done, that day.  We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack...What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the justification for an unfulfilled life."

Wow.  Thinking God is speaking very clearly to me that:

There is enough
I am enough
I have enough

One rejection does not define me.

"Joy is what happens to use when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are" - Marianne Williamson

Thursday, January 15, 2015

It's only Squirrels!!!

Praise the Lord - we have squirrels (and rats)!  I felt that we should really look into someone else to come see the house as I didn't want the animals to die in the attic after eating the poison.  Just wasn't feeling great about it.  I looked up "rat exterminator" online and came across an article by A Wildlife Pro.  Sounded like great tips and found that they are located in Plano.  Gave them a call and the guy came out two days ago.

He demonstrated sounds of animals with his hands on the wall to see what sounds we had heard.  He immediately said "You don't have mice - you've got squirrels."  I was like "Sweet - I'll take that!"  He checked outside and couldn't find anything that showed where animals would be getting in.  Until he looked on the left side of the porch where the wood meets the brick.  Turns out that a brick had fallen in and that it had left a huge gap large enough for just about any animal to get in.

I asked him to check the attic for my piece of mind and he said that he could see some small rat droppings showing that they'd been up there at some point, but that he could clearly see squirrel poop and a paw print on some piping.  We still have rats in our garage (not mice) but everything is being taken care of.

He assured us that it wasn't an unbelievably bad situation - it was very normal and not a big deal.  He said that they're looking for warmth and that their ecosystem was badly disturbed causing them to look for a place to go.

We'll be having a few things done soon to prevent the animals from coming in and can then do some clean-up to get it restored to normal.

Not excited about rats, but SOO glad all the noise we heard upstairs was a squirrel.  Scratcher the squirrel is so much better than Scratcher the rat.


Riley often asks for "good thinkings" at night when she can't fall asleep.  We often give her ideas about what she has coming up, what God has done/is and things we are thankful for.  Tonight she gave me some thinkings.  She walked over to the computer and sat down to write down questions she wanted me to answer.  The questions were:

1.  How do you get in a door?
2.  How do you see without eyes?
3.  How do you play anything without help?
4.  How do you copy papers without reading them?
5.  How do you type without a key board?
6.  How do you watch tv without a reymote?

She then asked me to read the questions after she printed them and stood next to me as I read them. She would then give me the answers if I didn't know them (and I didn't know any of them).  The answers are:

1.  You open it.
2.  You don't.
3.  You can't.
4.  You can't.
5.  You go on your iPad!
6.  I don't know... No it's... you can't.

Me:  How'd you think up these?

Riley:  Random.... (long pause)  Take stuff in the room and use them as ideas.

Julia:  Take stuff from the room in the butt (is cut off by Jeremy)

Jeremy:  Julia - sit down.

Julia:  (stops talking immediately, hops up and down and goes away)  Ok!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I hate rodents

I think most people would say that they hate rodents.  I have a hate/hate relationship with them.  The thought of them grosses me out and makes me shiver.  A week ago we heard some seriously terrible scratching in the ceiling of our front living room.  Riley yelled out to me "Do we have roofers on our roof today?  It's so loud in here!"  I could only wish that was what it was.

I called the Pest Management Company - they're amazing by the way!  The guy came out yesterday and sprayed our wasp nest that had grown outside over the summer/fall.  Glad to have that done.  Though we had two wasps flying around the house yesterday that both died.  We enjoyed watching the stinger continue to poke out of its' bottom long after it was dead.  I learned that the stinger is a reflex and will continue to work despite the wasp being dead.

He went up into our attic and came down not too long after to say "Ma'am, you've got a major problem up there."

He proceeded to share that there were tons of droppings - and not fresh ones (which he found by touching it).  He also shared that there were many paths/tracks showing that they'd been wandering up there for a while.  There are more than one - possibly three, four or more.  He said that you can see beds in the insulation where they have chewed and then laid in it to get warm.  If that wasn't enough, he added that the problems up there are indeed rats.  RATS.  Oh.  My.  Word.  UGH.

Rats can actually travel straight up a wall and then find a small piece of rubber to chew through on/near the roof.  They only need a very small hole to make their way into the house.  He said that often a squirrel will do some chewing and make way for rats to get in.  Unfortunately, he can't find how they got into the house.  He said everything appears to be shut and closed and properly sealed in the roof areas and overhangs.  We (I mean Jeremy - don't think I can do it... call me a wimp if you want to)  will have to sweep the board areas up in the attic.  This way we can track the new paths that the rats make and see if there is less traffic up there.  Praying they eat the poison laid upstairs and died fast deaths... far, far away from the home.  The poison makes them thirsty and causes them to look for water which means they get out of the home to eat it.  Or at least, that's the hope.

The one we had heard scratching up above the front living room was apparently looking for a way out.  He said that it's possible that it will die up there because he could become a very fat rat and get stuck in that corner.  Our attic is small and there are mostly narrow areas up there where they can get stuck.  We haven't heard him today yet.  If they die up there, they'll smell and we can get an odor pack from the company that will last a few months.

This was only the attic.  Then came the garage.

We had noticed that one of our old car seats on the floor of the garage had two chew marks in the seat portion and thought that we had a rodent issue.  This was what caused us to call the company.  Thinking it was a small deal.  And it's not.

He called me into the garage and kept saying "Wow.  There are tons of droppings.  And they are all over.  I usually don't see this much activity like this.  You've got mice here.  And likely some babies as there are some droppings that are small and some that are bigger."  MICE.  For real?!  We get the joys of rats and mice.

Come to find that our garage door is slightly off and in the side there is sunlight poking through.  As a result, there is a tiny narrow passageway where the mice has chewed through the wood siding and gotten into the garage.  They have access all day and night to get in and out.  We need to put up a metal piece to block them from coming in.

We also have several boxes of stuff (who knows what is in them) on the floor of the garage.  He said that mice will chew holes into the boxes, then snuggle in and have babies in them.  We'll have to go through the boxes to see if they're in there and then kill them with poison.  There are poison packs set around the third car area of the garage where the stuff is but they haven't eaten it yet.  Not looking forward to going through everything... again... Jeremy will likely do it.  Or I'll do it with him as I can't do it alone.

Wasps, rats and mice.  And the reason??

The guy asked if we are anywhere near the Nebraska Furniture Store Construction.  And yes, we definitely are.  Maybe half a mile if that and there's a big field between our home and the construction.  He said that he has no doubt that the rodents are a result of the construction.  They've dug up such an incredible amount of ground that their homes would have been affected greatly.  They're looking for a warm place to go and with our home being one of the first in the sub, they'd find us first.

To make it a little lighter of an experience, I'm thinking we should name the rat we heard scratching.  Maybe it will make it not seem so scary to me.  Call him something silly to add some humor.  Definitely grossing me out.

Another life experience that I hope to never revisit.  Praying this is done and over sooner rather than later.

So Far

We are settling back into our school routine.  And not perfectly I'll add.  Julia has had a fit almost every morning.  Mainly about her socks and how they never fit exactly how she wants them to fit.  We've tried every pair there is to try - cheap to expensive - and nothing has made the difference.  She has tough mornings, but by the time I pick her up at school she is smiling and happy.  This morning as we drove to school she cried and said "Why did you wake me up in the middle of the night?!"  I told her that it was early in the morning, but still dark.  She responded with "But then why is the moon still out?  It is night and this isn't fair."  I completely agree with the 'not fair' part as far as waking up early but such is life.

Riley has been moody to say the least.  Very sensitive and crying over just about anything and everything.  Fought me for almost two hours yesterday about getting her homework done.  She finally did it all (Fasttmath, spelling city and piano practice).  I knew she had a difficult day at school during gym class as I'd talked to the gym teacher, but she wouldn't talk about it.  We snuggled and talked for a bit after she refused to work.  After a few tears and realizing that I knew about her frustrations of the day, she got to work.  Sometimes I need the reminder to sit and talk with the girls to hear their emotions/feelings in order to truly understand what's going on behind the defiance.

This week has been strange.  No piano students, no choir rehearsals, no concerts, no SMU Grad classes.  Only teaching.  It feels empty and very simple.  I am enjoying the time to workout after school and to get some laundry put away.  Though honestly I'm looking forward to a little fuller schedule as I don't feel as fulfilled.  I may feel overstressed in a few weeks though when everything is in full swing.  Until then, I'm enjoying some relaxing time.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Fifteen Goals in '15

My fifteen goals for 2015:

1.  Date night at a different restaurant each month
January:  Whiskey Cake
February: Seasons 52

2.  Use our Vitamix to make breakfast smoothies at least two times a week

3.  Take Mommy/Daughter dates out with each girl - 6 dates for Riley and 6 dates for Julia through the year

4.  Exercise twice a week

5.  Read books that I love and leave books unfinished that I don't love... and work at being ok with the fact that I didn't finish them.

6.  Send in tape/recording of my choir and/or Orff ensemble to perform at TMEA

7.  Submit application to be a presenter at TMEA

8.  Create illustrations for my music book

9.  Write ten Orff arrangements for my students.  Students perform at least three of them.

10.  Declutter and keep from filling it back up.  Particular areas of focus:
my closet and dressers, hallway closets and the closet under the stairs

11.  Try one thing each month that I have pinned on Pinterest

12.  Save $160 a month

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

14.  Take one overnight trip as a family - local or far away

15.  Personal resolution - something incredibly meaningful to me but that I'm not comfortable putting into cyberspace... I'll let you imagine the possibilities :)