Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017 Goals

We're here again.  Figuring out what to aim towards this coming year without truly knowing what the year will bring.  The past two years have not been as 'successful' for me in terms of achieving the goals set.  I've either overestimated what I had time to achieve, chosen things I wanted to do but that weren't truly important to me or jumped way ahead of myself in terms of what could be done this year.  I'm a little more hesitant to actually put my goals into writing.  It is fulfilling to aim for something and hit it.  Or even more fun to surpass it.  Not near as much fun to miss it by a mile.

This year I'm working towards twelve goals.  I am choosing to truly work towards the things that are meaningful.  Throwing out the goals of things like using a crockpot when it's covered in dust somewhere and I feel obligated to use what we have (even though Jeremy hates crockpot meals and I don't have an inkling of care to actually shop for food to make in it).  Getting rid of goals that I want to do, but am feeling overwhelmed by such as writing a specific number of songs for grade levels at school when my time is still driven by learning how to teach middle school with materials I have and any extra time used to write long graduate papers and presentations.  Adding goals that will fulfill my need as a mom, teacher, student and woman.  Adding goals that will help our family spend more time together and bring us closer.  Less pressure, less need to prove myself to myself.  More grace, more joy, more ways to enjoy this amazing life.  So here goes...

GOALS for 2017

1.  Take a course to learn Finale
On Black Friday, there was an amazing deal for $179 to get Finale.  I was blessed that my school purchased it for me to use.  I've played around with it but can't wait to truly learn how to utilize this software.  Bring on new arrangements, student created work and new Orff pieces.

2.  Continue learning Spanish using a workbook, Duolingo app and lunch with friends
Today I purchased two workbooks to help me improve my Spanish.  I truly admire the Spanish teachers at our school and can't wait to jump out there in working to have discussions and lunch talks in Spanish.

3.  Go to church
We both grew up 'in the church.'  When we moved a year and a half ago, we left our home church as it's just far enough that getting involved is challenging.  Leaving a church family is hard stuff.  Finding a home church again has been a struggle.  We began going to a church, but found ourselves finding reasons not to go or get plugged in.  This was a sign that it wasn't the place for us.  About four months ago we asked Pastor John for advice on which churches to check out - side note:  Hope Fellowship is an amazing church and if you live in the Frisco/McKinney/Plano/The Colony area, it's a great place to love, connect, serve, and grow with others (  He gave us the name of Watermark Church in Dallas.  We went to service that Sunday.  For the first time since moving, Julia walked into the classroom without tugging or crying, Riley made friends and God has blessed us with a great church.  All of this to say - I am excited to get back to being a part of a church and meeting friends, getting involved and growing spiritually.  This goal means going to church on Sundays consistently.

4.  Complete my SMU Graduate School Degree in December
I have two semesters before finishing my degree.  It's been a wonderful three years of learning and growing as an educator and person.  This semester I take a Kodaly Course and in the fall I will do my thesis/project and comps.  I have a 4.0 GPA and it continues to be my goal to learn as much as I can while pushing myself to be the best educator I can.  And continuance of getting high grades for excellence in my work is something I am continuing to strive towards.  Because - why not!?

5.  Clean our upstairs room completely and begin using it as a livable area to workout, play video games and lounge
My mom helped me get the upstairs room started.  We've got quite a bit that has been taken to Half Price Books and to Goodwill.  It has been used as storage until now and with all the plumbing and floor issues, it hasn't been a priority.  We are continuing to work through these issues, but the end is hopefully in sight.  Just cleaning out the boxes and things will be great!  Can't wait to have it usable and livable!

6.  Finish reading the entire Bible
I began reading the Bible using a YouVersion study in July.  I am hoping to finish it by June/July.

7.  Apply to teach a workshop/session at TMEA and offer workshops in local districts/Orff chapters/GSES
Self-explanatory... I want to challenge myself to step out there and present to other teachers.  This is something that brings out many insecurities as I often question my ability despite where I am.  It is something that I truly want to do and hope to have the opportunity to present someday.  Hopefully this year.

8.  Go on one date each month with Jeremy
I don't see him as much as I'd like to.  He's cute, fun and important.  Definitely need to make him a priority with all that we juggle.

9.  Limit myself to purchasing only one new unnecessary item for myself each month
Alright - so this one will be H.A.R.D (Humanly and Radically Difficult) for me.  Especially since I just got a killer bargain on the softest, nicest pair of khaki pants at Nordstrom Rack today for $15 (the first day of the year!!).  They were originally $70 so they were near-impossible to pass up.  Okay - no more excuses.  The reason for this?  I love to nickel and dime.  And while things are purchased inexpensively, it does add up.  I'm a great bargain shopper but need to become a bargain saver.

10.  Find a tv show series to watch
I find it challenging to relax.  This past year I found a tv series that I enjoyed called Hart of Dixie.  I watched a show almost every night for a month or two.  And actually liked it.  Hoping to watch The Crown.  Or Modern Family.  Something light-hearted and relaxing.

11.  Family Fridays
One Friday a month, I want to do an easy dinner that Jeremy doesn't have to cook and play games/Wii/watch movies/whatever with all of us as a family.

12.  Complete the Google Teacher Certified Educator Level One
I'm a little ways into it and loving it.  I've learned a lot.  My goal is to complete it.  Passing it may be challenging from what I've heard.  Going to go for it... and along the way, be satisfied with using the tools I learn to engage students in new ways.

12.  Do all I can to locate, contact and engage with my brother Jim
This one is a tough one.  I haven't seen my brother in at least three years now.  And I miss him.  The short story is that he is homeless and living in Savannah.  I'm not sure what we'll find or what shape he is in emotionally/physically and how his addictions are affecting him.  I do know that after finding out where he is, I can't stop thinking that there is hope for him.  The location is not exact, but through a God-ordained meet up with my former college roommate, I have hope that we can get in contact with him.  As long as he is living, there is hope.  This is something I'm prayerfully working towards as addiction is so hard and may result in more sadness than joy.  But not finding and contacting him results in too many other unknowns.  I don't feel I can risk that and be okay with it.
*For a blog I wrote about my brother, read here: Jim Blog Post

Goal Check for 2016

This year I set 12 goals and actually kept three of them.  Not a great average.  The crossed out goals show the ones actually fulfilled.  Cheers to 2016 and hope for 2017.

1) Read 16 books in 2016 
Read a good amount of books this year.  Definitely more than 16

2) Financial Check Ups
We were more consistent at the beginning and then got busy and the busy kept us from doing it consistently.

3)  Disconnect so I can Reconnect
Less Facebook.  Still could do less scrolling.

4) Write 4 original pieces for middle school curriculum as well as examine, restructure and design pieces around Music For Children Volumes. One piece per grade level!
I helped students write their own pieces, but didn't do this one :(

5) Teach a music education seminar/workshop
Earned approval from LISD to teach a workshop.  Haven't taught one yet.

6) Take a self defense class - Nope

7) Learn more Spanish with Duolingo and find ways to interact with others who speak Spanish.  Get a Spanish workbook to learn more.
Used the app fabulously but didn't use a workbook.

8) Travel as a family - Completed!
My parents had us out to their home in TN for Thanksgiving.  First family vacation for the four of us - ever! Julia's first plane flight.

9) Engage in meaningful and purposeful relationships
We had one family over during the year that wasn't family.  One.  Loved it, but wasn't enough time to really develop deeper relationships.

10) Continue my education at SMU towards my Master's Degree with excellence.
Completed and almost done with the degree.

11) Find ways and time to work out.
Yes, but not really. As in, I walked the dog often, but not much of anything else.

12)  Use our Crockpot to plan means ahead of time.
Use the crockpot.... never.  Never used it all year.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Thanksgiving in TN

My parents recently moved to TN and we were fortunate to go spend a week with them.  It was chilly and beautiful.

Julia had her first airplane flight into Nashville.  She loved the ride and had no issues until the landing when her ears wouldn't pop despite trying multiple ways to help them.  She loved the flight on the way home and had no issues.

It was fun to watch her experience an airport 'on the inside' for the first time.  We checked our bags and then proceeded to go through TSA screening.  We were stopped by an agent who asked us questions as he took our tickets.

Agent:  What is your name?
Riley:  Riley
Agent:  How old are you?
Riley: 9

Agent:  What is your name?
Julia:  Julia
Agent:  How old are you?
Julia:  6

Agent:  What is your name?
Me:  Jessica

A few seconds went by...

Julia: 39

The agent laughed and said he had a few years on me.

Agent:  What is your name?
Jeremy:  Jeremy

Virtually no time went by...

Riley and Julia:  41!!
Then they both giggled

Reading Noodles

For several years now, our girls like to rip their rigatoni noodles and then pretend that there is a secret message written on them.  They will read the message out loud to us and then eat it.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Waiting in Line

Riley:  I'm not hungry...

She says this with some dinner left.

Jeremy:  What'd you have for lunch?  (As she sometimes doesn't eat much)

Riley:  My sandwich...and pumpkin pie.

Me:  Did you stand in the lunch line?  (As we hadn't put pumpkin pie in her lunch)

Riley:  No I didn't stand in a line.

Me:  Did you stand in the lunch line to get the pie?

Riley:  No I didn't stand in line.  There wasn't a line.

Me:  But you got the pie...

Riley:  yeah but not in a line

Jeremy:  Did somebody else go through the line for you?

Riley:  No!  That'd be mean.  Because then their family would have to pay for my pie.

Me:  So you got it..

Riley:  Yeah... But there wasn't technically a line.  Like here's me and here's a line and I just walked right by to get the pie so I didn't have to wait in the line.

Jeremy:  just so you know... It's called a line even if it there isn't a line.

Riley:  but there wasn't a line...

Waiting in Line

Riley:  I'm not hungry...

She says this with some dinner left.

Jeremy:  What'd you have for lunch?  (As she sometimes doesn't eat much)

Riley:  My sandwich...and pumpkin pie.

Me:  Did you stand in the lunch line?  (As we hadn't put pumpkin pie in her lunch)

Riley:  No I didn't stand in a line.

Me:  Did you stand in the lunch line to get the pie?

Riley:  No I didn't stand in line.  There wasn't a line.

Me:  But you got the pie...

Riley:  yeah but not in a line

Jeremy:  Did somebody else go through the line for you?

Riley:  No!  That'd be mean.  Because then their family would have to pay for my pie.

Me:  So you got it..

Riley:  Yeah... But there wasn't technically a line.  Like here's me and here's a line and I just walked right by to get the pie so I didn't have to wait in the line.


Empty boxes and toilet paper tubes

I went through Julia's backpack to find her piano book.  She played the song 'Tucker's Secret Life' for her music class.  When I opened her bag, there was a large Honest Kids juice drink box - empty - as well as two toilet paper tubes.

I asked Julia what the empty juice box container was for.

She replied "They're for Riley's project!"

Riley was thrilled to have a cardboard box she can now craft with.  She often crafts with random objects and loves cardboard in particular.

Then I found two empty toilet paper tubes.  Julia told us that she got them at Capers, the after school care.  I asked her if other students collected the empty boxes and one other girl took some home.  Julia said it was both of their ideas.  I do love that Julia thought of Riley and her love for cardboard.

A few weeks ago Riley's backpack was filled with random papers in an old tissue paper box.  Turns out she went to different classrooms and collected things from the trash cans that she could craft with...I'm somewhat nervous that I'm contributing to this as I don't like to hold onto things and prefer to throw things away.  Also nervous they could become hoarders so trying to allow them play time with random items while not letting them pile up too much.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Not a Six

Julia has one school jumper in a size five.  She has multiple jumpers that are size six.  Still waiting for them to fit and don't want to spend money on more fives as she will likely not used them much longer.  It does make laundry interesting.

Last year she refused to wear the jumpers so we have a ton of skirts.  This year she has decided that she likes the jumpers better.  This morning the only one that fit her was dirty and I hadn't washed it so she had to either wear a six or a skirt.  I found her a six that looked semi-smaller than the others.  It took her some time to come around to it.  In other words, she kicked the laundry room door and began crying.  She finally put it on.

As she wanted to go to school with me, I had her get in the car and out her socks on there as I had a morning group before school to get to.  I carried Julia into school.  After being there a few minutes, she started to cry and told me that she was hungry.  Turns out I'd forgotten to feed her!

I had seen Mrs. Adler come into the building and asked Riley to see if she had any food (as I didn't have anything in my classroom).  Mrs. Adler was incredibly helpful as she gave Julia some snacks to help her hunger.  So thankful for great friends and coworkers!


Riley asked Julia this question after taking a shower: "When my hair is dry does it look like a lion's mane?"

Sunday, October 2, 2016

GSES Carnival 2016

This year we had another gorgeous day for the school carnival.  Riley was thrown into jail not too soon after we got there.  She was a great sport about it despite finding out that the girl who put her in jail isn't often very kind to her in the hallways.  Julia went on the ferris wheel with me.  Every time we went around and started back up again, she'd say "We're going around again?!"

Both girls had their faces painted and their hair sprayed with neat colors.  Julia chose a butterfly and Riley chose a tiger.  They looked amazing!!!  They jumped on the trampolines, played with friends, spent time doing a lot of games and were really happy.  We asked if they wanted dinner but they didn't.

Come to 6:30pm and the line is insanely long.  Girls are hungry, have spent all their energy running and playing and only want popsicles or cotton candy.  Instead I shared that we could play the cake walk and try to win a cake.  We went in the gym and played the game.  I ended up winning so I chose a cinnamon streusel cake that I thought would be fun for the whole family to enjoy.  The girls were mad.  Riley just wanted cotton candy.  Julia was way over-hungry and began crying and hitting.  Her butterfly was streaking and itching due to the crying so we went inside the school to wash off what we could.  She then cried harder that her face was completely purple.  We made it home with lots of tears and screaming fits from Julia.  Riley was crying from hunger and feeling bad that she had wanted the cotton candy.  She had every right to want it.  We just didn't want to spend $3 on it.

Once the girls had their faces washed, showers taken and eaten food, they were incredibly tired.  We all crashed into bed and woke up much happier.

Mrs. Gunter, Tooth Puller

Julia's top front tooth has been quite loose and ready to come out, but she hasn't wanted us to twist or pull on it.  She insisted that Mrs. Gunter, one of the third grade teachers at GSES, pull it out.  Riley had shared stories with her about how Mrs. Gunter pulls out teeth amazingly without hurting.  Julia told us that she wanted Mrs. Gunter to pull it out and she made a plan to go see her the next morning.

I emailed Karen to make sure she'd be okay with pulling her tooth.  Julia got up bright and early and dressed herself quickly.  Riley had choir so she was already going to school early with me.  Julia asked if she could come early so that she could see Mrs. Gunter before the day began.  Around 7:00am the girls headed upstairs to her room and asked her to pull Julia's tooth.  Karen said it completely made her day that the girls were so excited to see her and to get to help Julia out.  It took about 1 1/2 twists and the tooth was out.

Julia looks adorable with her missing tooth.  The one next to it is also fairly loose and will likely be out by Christmas.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fourth Grade

Riley is having one of her best years yet.  She loves fourth grade so far.  She especially loves her teacher, Ms. Swan and has several friends in her grade.  It is so nice to see her comfortable at GSES this year after being the new kid last year.  She dreams of being an engineer and in particular, designing wings so that humans can fly.  We tell her to go for it.

Chicks in Primer

Ms. Hackney, Julia's Primer teacher, has lived on a farm with her aunt and uncle the past year.  She always had interest in having baby chick eggs in her room and watching the process of them hatching.  This year Julia was able to watch the chicks in the incubator through the process of hatching.  They used something called candling to compare how the chicks were all growing.  When you place a black screen behind the egg with a candle underneath it, the students could see the chick eating the yolk as it turned into a furry chick.  Then they got to see it break through the eggs and hold them.

Each student named their chick.  Though how they could tell them apart is a mystery.  Ms. Hackney says that they claimed to know which chick was their own.  Julia named her chick "Lovey" and one of the boys in her class named his "Eyeball."

First Goal!

Julia is on the Honey Badgers soccer team this fall.  She's told us that she really wanted to score a goal this year.  We told her that we'll take her to her favorite place for a fun treat if she scores a goal.  Her favorite place being I Heart Yogurt. Mind you - we also told her we'd take her to her favorite place just for fun too.  And that we're proud of her whether or not she scores a goal.  

Today she was doing a great job getting in the mix to get the ball to the goal.  Several times she kicked some strong shots (one into the arm/chest of a rival player) and another that came just short of the goal before a different rival kicked it away.  Towards the end of the game there were several girls near the goal and then another strong kick from her which went straight into the goal.

It was a neat moment as she looked unsure of what to think.  Grandpa, Grandma, Jeremy, Riley and I were there cheering her on.  Grandpa showed up to surprise us after he'd been gone for about six weeks in TN working on their new house.  It was a great way to celebrate Julia's goal.

After she kicked the goal, she came over to us.  I hugged her and spun her around in my arms.  When I set her down, she started to cry and had a little pouty lower lip that was trying to help keep the tears away.  She wasn't sure why she was crying.  It was so sweet.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Present Plans

Julia opened a chinese cookie and the paper said "Your present plans are going to succeed."

Me:  So what are your present plans?

Julia:  Barbies and trolls.


Julia: I'm a bit snuffy today...

(continues to sniffle while reading her book)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Running hop cartwheels

Every night for the past week or two, Julia has been practicing going from the hall and into our bedroom to practice her cartwheels.  She calls them 'running hop cartwheels' because she takes a few running steps into a small hop before working on the cartwheel.  We are asked all the time if she can do her running hop cartwheels.

Yesterday she practiced them at school while I taught a crochet camp.  She can now do a full cartwheel and land on her feet.  She's so proud!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Six Month 2016 Goal Check up

Goals for 2016:

1) Read 16 books in 2016 - this has been an easy one!  I love reading and have found some great books this year:
  a.  10% Happier
  b.  The Bible - working on
  c.  When Breath Becomes Air
  d.  Miracles from Heaven
  e.  Black Flags:  the Rise of ISIS
  f.  Me Before You
  g.  Alexander Hamilton
  h.  The Wedding Dress
  i.  The Nest
  j.  Smarter, Harder, Faster - working on
  k.  Crisis of Character
  l.  Words Without Music 
  m.  Cometh the Hour
  n.  Girl Waits with Gun
  o.  Anthem
  p.  I know how she does it
  q.  Seraphina and the Black Cloak
  r.  Roller Girl

2) Financial Check Ups
Have been very inconsistent on this

3)  Disconnect so I can Reconnect
Still connected to my phone too much... work in progress.

4) Write 4 original pieces for middle school curriculum as well as examine, restructure and design pieces around Music For Children Volumes.  One piece per grade.
Currently working on!

5) Teach a music education seminar/workshop.
Put in an application to teach a session at TMEA.  Haven't heard back and thinking I wasn't chosen, BUT I put myself out there.

6) Take a self defense class.
Classes are expensive!  Haven't done it.

7) Learn more Spanish with Duolingo and find ways to interact with others who speak Spanish.  Get a Spanish workbook to learn more.
So far so good on this one!  Finding I can hear Spanish conversations and understand the general idea of what they are saying.

8) Travel as a family
The girls and I have traveled and had great times being away on vacation.  No family vacation yet.

9) Engage in meaningful and purposeful relationships
Working on this one and getting together with new friends more.

10) Continue my education at SMU towards my Master's Degree with excellence.
Yes!  This is going well - one more year left!  Will be so sad when it is done!

11) Find ways and time to work out.
Going to yoga classes at work and walking the dog.  Making plans to help myself relax and sleep better by doing exercise during the school year.

12)  Use our Crockpot to plan means ahead of time.
Ummmm.... not quite sure what prompted this goal, but nope.  I don't cook so this one will likely not happen.  Though I could get to work on finding meals that I'd like to cook and start next week!


Julia:  Mom, did you know you are a kid?
Me:  I am?
Julia:  Yes - you are a child of God!

(Not sure if I already blogged this)

Summer 2016

We've had a fabulous summer so far.  A great mix of staying home and sleeping in as well as some travel and camps.  Riley thoroughly enjoyed going to Girl Scout Camp with her friend Charlie Grace.  She has asked us if she can join Girl Scouts this year.  Sounds like something she'd really love.  Riley did a few camps at GSES as well.  Julia spent time at a few GSES camps but truly loves just being home to play barbies, dolls and games.  I had a 3-day drum workshop with Jim Solomon, week long Orff Master Class, traveled to St. Pete's, FL for a week for Responsive Classroom training and taught two summer crochet/knit camps at GSES.  Jeremy has gone to work.  (I have plans for next year to make sure he gets a break of some sort and takes time off for himself....)

The girls and I just returned a few days ago from a four day 'Grandma Camp' adventure at Lost Pines Resort outside of Austin, TX.  A friend of mine described it as a magical place and I agree.  We had a wonderful time.  One of the highlights was working with Julia to help her learn to ride a bike without training wheels.  She was excited to try!  The resort offers free bikes of all sizes that you can take all throughout the day and ride.  On one of the times we were working together to help her ride, she went a ways by herself down the path.  Afterwards, she said "You know that time that I went by myself for a long time?  That was off the hook!  It was!"  Cracks me up that she said 'off the hook.'

Most of our time was spent in the lazy river.  We played tag.  Grandma and Riley would hide or swim somewhere along the river while Julia and I would try to find them.  Or vice versa.  Lazy river is a terrible name for it.  It was more like energetic river.  It was a great workout and wore us out.  We swam at least twice a day.

We also spent time watching movies after dark on the big outdoor screen and eating smores/popcorn. I had s'mores a few times.  So yummy.

Julia rode a pony on a trail ride with a guide along the Colorado River.  It was 15 minutes long and Julia said it felt like it was super short.  Riley and I rode horses through the trails for a long ride going up and down through a forested area.  It was beautiful.  Her horse's name was Will and my horse's name was Jango.  Riley rode on her horse in front of me.  Her horse kept farting throughout the ride.  It was hilarious.  We both kept laughing.  My mom and Riley played a game of Archery Tag on the last morning of our stay.  They came back beat red in the face and sweating like crazy.  My mom said it was the most exhausting hour of her life.  Completely believe her!

The rest of the summer is full of plans to enjoy our time at home, meet up with friends and prepare for school.  The girls are spending time reading, writing, doing multiplication flashcards/math workbooks and practicing piano.  Honestly, it's about an hour or so each day.  I often tell them that doing a little bit each day is more beneficial than spending hours and hours every now and again.  They give me looks that tell me they don't believe me, but consistency is key to helping them really internalize their skills.  They might thank me years from now....

Friday, June 10, 2016

Moments from the past few months

1)  Our home was covered in Caution tape of all different colors.  Jeremy said the dog was barking around 10:30pm and he put him in his kennel.  Then looked out the window to see some boys (probably around 3rd grade) getting into an SUV.  Since the third grade teachers all had their homes done the week prior, we're thinking it was the same kids.  It took no time to clean up and

2)  The girls have summer workbooks to keep their minds thinking.  Riley was trying her math book.
Riley:  I wish I could do this with a teacher.
Me:  I am a teacher
Riley:  No, I mean a literal teacher

3)  We've done quite a bit of clean out of clothes.  The girls have both grown so much.  Riley's especially gotten so tall and needed to sort out her closet.  I told her to just take everything out of her drawers and closet and set them on the bed.  She enlisted Julia's help.
Riley:  Hey Jules - want to help me throw clothes on my bed?
Julia:  Sure!  I'm great at that!

4)  For Mother's Day, I was looking through the photos on my phone for a pic of my mom.  Instead I found a pic collage that Julia made that had several pictures of her and I and she wrote the words, "I love my mom."  When I scrolled to the next picture, it was another pic collage she had made that contained all pictures of herself and she had typed the words, "I love my self."

5)  Julia woke up and made her breakfast all by herself.  She told me:  I watched by learning you.

6)  Julia wrote me a note the other day that said:
Dear mom
I am rele mad at you
Love Julia

7) In May, we had our hot water lines and sewer lines repaired.  Wasn't quite where we wanted to put $11,000...  ugh

8) Riley traveled to TN with my parents in April.  She loves it.

9)  Jeremy and I took a soufflĂ© class at Sur La Table.  Was fun!

10)  Julia:  Mom, did you know that my friend got a cricket in her neck?  It means you can't turn it.


The girls finished their first year at GSES and have both settled in.  My first year teaching middle school has ended.  It feels great to have a year of experience and I'm looking forward to having a greater understanding of what the year looks like and what the students are capable of doing musically.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


We listened to a few Broadway tunes on the way home.  One of them being "If they could see me now" from Sweet Charity.

When the song finished Riley said, "Wow.  Everyone is so about themselves these days.  Especially Batman."


Since moving into our home last year in July, our room above our garage has been our holding place. It holds all the stuff we weren't sure what to do with.  We wanted to keep it or didn't have time to completely finish weeding out 3,200 sq ft of things into our 2,300 sq ft home or they had sentimental value, but absolutely no use in everyday life.

The girls ventured upstairs with me to see if we had anything that would work for an elf costume for Riley's performance tomorrow.  No such luck.  However, they did find tons of treasures.  I came downstairs to do some laundry and talk with Jeremy.  When I called them down for dinner, I watched as Riley brought down a doll stroller with tons of stuff and a large basket full of other stuffed animals and toys.  Julia brought a bag full of things as well as a few more stuffed animals.  I told them to keep them upstairs;  after all, they could still play with them upstairs anytime.  The girls decided to continue to sneak it into their rooms.

Me:  I'm not pleased that you're not listening to my directions.

Julia:  (dragging the stroller as fast as she can into her room) Mom, I can't resist it!

Riley:  Mom, you'll love all the things we found.

Me:  Yes... I'll love them all back upstairs!

Julia:  But how can you resist this?  Look - I found a B-A-R-B-I-E spacing B-A.... immmm

Me:  B-A-B-Y?

Julia:  Yes!  How do you resist that?

Later she comes from her room holding a pink stuffed animal bunny:

Julia:  Do you know why I said I couldn't resist anything?  It's because of this cute little bunny.  (kisses it)  It's such a cute little bunny.  I'm going to sleep with it tonight.

Monday, April 11, 2016


Julia is the chokingest thing.  Chokes constantly.

She began choking out of nowhere.

Julia:  I swallowed air from outside.


Julia wanted to send a letter to her friend Ariana.  She chose to put ink stamps of shapes and animals all over the envelope.  I thought she just wanted to decorate it.

After she was done she asked me, "Did you put our house number on the letter to Ariana?  Does she know where we live?"

Me:  She will when she gets the letter.  We just need to send the letter with Daddy so he can put a stamp on it.

Julia:  But I already put stamps on it!

Oh!!  Finally I understood why she used her stamp set to put stamps all over the envelope.  She'd heard us talk about putting stamps on letters so we could mail them.


Julia made Jeremy a sweet card during Capers.  She wrote three things she loved about him:
one being that he snores.  She thought that was funny.

The next day she made me a sweet card with three things she loved about me:  one being that I snore. She laughed so hard and then said, "I'm just teasing about the snoring.  I'm just kidding about that."

There's more in the Bible than you could ever know

Having believed in Jesus and read/studied the Bible thoroughly, I'm always amazed to see what can still be found.  We recently bought Riley the Kidz Adventure Bible.  She needed a new one that was more age appropriate.  This one took her to a whole new level.

We started at Genesis 1 with the plan of reading through the first book.  I didn't remember there being too much in there that would have to be explained.  Yes, Noah gets drunk and sleeps with his daughter.  And there's plenty of sin in Sodom and Gomorrah.  And other things.  But couldn't think of anything too risky that would have to be explained.

Our first night reading Genesis 1 resulted in Riley asking questions.
Riley:  Was there anything before God?  They didn't explain about dinosaurs.  How did He know what to call things?

The more we read, the more amazed she was.
Riley:  I don't remember this before!  It's like I'm finally getting to the good stuff!

I love her excitement for learning about God and life in general.  We've continued to have great discussions.  Though a few lately have been left with us telling her few details and letting her know we'll go into more discussion as she grows.  The first one being when the Bible describes a woman being raped.  Riley didn't know what that word meant.  As it was late at night, I didn't want to scare her so I explained that it's when (in this case) a man did something to a woman's body that she didn't want him to do.  That was enough for her and while she told us she wanted to know what it was, it would have brought an entirely adult conversation about sex and other things that are just too much right now.

The other conversations occurred in Genesis when Jacob offers his daughters to the men... when there's another rape around chapter 37 or so.  We've chosen to stop at chapter 38 and move onto the book of Matthew.  We're not afraid to talk with our girls about topics of importance.  However, you do have to be wise in the timing.

There's definitely more in the Bible than I remember!  Guess I don't study those books as often.


Julia kept sniffling while reading her book to me.  Then said sweetly, "I'm a bit snuffy tonight."

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Riley has had some attitude lately.  Giving lots of stares, crossed arms and working the attitude.  Last night she was being rude so I sent her to her room.  She wrote a note to Jeremy (?!) that was super sweet:

Dear dad,
I'm very sorry about how I've acted.  You don't derve how rude I've been.  So, I'de like to say I'm sorry.
Love you always,
turn over

And if you're not still mad I'de love for you to come in and sleep with me?!

It was a super sweet note... to Jeremy.

Bugs and Dogs

Our dog Val enjoyed a water beetle the other day.  Enough about that.

We've been trying to explain to Julia that she shouldn't kiss Val on the face as he puts his mouth on things we don't need near our faces.

Jeremy:  Val is a bug licker.
(Julia kisses the dog)
Julia:  I kiss bugs!  I kiss bugs!

Julia (to Riley):  Me and Val kissed on the lips.
Jeremy:  Still finding it very disgusting.
Riley:  Don't kiss me.
Julia:  mmmm... (kisses her)

Julia (to me):  Just so you know, me and Val kissed on the lips.  We are married.
Me:  (silence)
Jeremy:  Well, he is already dressed in his black and white suit.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


Last week we were able to get our sewer lines fixed as well.  This was the not so fun part of our Spring Break.  The plumbing company came and dug three massive holes outside our home - one in the front, one in back and one on the side.  They had originally only found a few breaks near the front, but the more they tested and fixed, the more they found.  The back breakage meant having to dig up a portion of our patio and brick and foundation.  The side breakage was over 10 feet long of pipe.  It was a pricy fix.  But worth it.

Along the way, they also discovered the reason our kitchen tile has been so hot: we have a hot water leak as well.  The company couldn't identify it for a while because all the jackhammering had lodged something into the pipe.  Once it settled, the hole is back and the item dislodged so we have to have the company back out to find exactly where the leak is located.  More drilling will then happen, but this time it'll be inside our home.  In the meantime, to save water and money and damage, we only turn the hot water on when we need to take showers and then we immediately turn it back off.

Thankful for some help from insurance and that everything is almost working correctly again.


Julia learned about googol (pronounced liked google... I actually just learned they are spelled differently).  She is fascinated that it's a huge number with a hundred zeros.  She loves to do math facts with googol.  Today's facts on the way home from school:

Julia:  Mom, do you know what a googol plus five is?
Me:  What is it?
Julia:  It's a googol and five....

Julia:  Do you know what a hundred and a hundred and a hundred fifteen and a hundred and a googol?
Me:  What is it?
(I don't remember what she said, but it contained the word googol)


One more day left in the month.  And apparently the only blog post of the month as well.  Life has been very full.

Riley and I just returned from several days in Oregon and Washington.  We stayed with my friend Jeanine and her family in Camas.  Each day we did something new.  First day we went to Portland, Slappy Cakes, OMSI and Multnomah Falls.  It was pouring rain but we had a blast anyway.

Day Two we traveled up through Washington and across the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Astoria, Oregon.  We visited our friends and their "Frite and Scoop" shop right on the Columbia River.  They opened almost two years ago and it has the most amazing custard ice cream.  We got the Hokey Pokey which is an Australian custard ice cream with honeycomb pieces.  Delicious!  We also had raspberry, lemon and other flavors.  So yummy.  Later that morning we drove down the coast to Seaside.  We rented a recumbent bike for two and rode through the streets to the beach.  Riley kept crying out "woo hoo!" and yelling hi to everyone she saw.  She said it was one of her favorite things.

Day Three we saw the end of the Oregon Trail and took a two hour horseback ride.  We learned how to take care of horses, brushed them, and fed them horse pellet snacks.  We were able to trot, walk, and kick giant balls through the arena.  It was too wet to do the trails, but we loved spending time on the horses.  Riley was a natural!  Her horse was Litago and he chose her from the minute she was near him.  He kept snuggling his face next to hers and nuzzling her.  It was precious.  My horse was Popper and he was somewhat stubborn, but did what you asked if you prodded.

Day Four we bought some souvenirs and went to the airport.

It was a wonderful trip.

This weekend Jeremy and Julia leave for Oklahoma for a Daddy/Daughter spring campout.  It'll be nice for them to have time together!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

No More Math

Riley does not enjoy doing the math games and studying them on the iPad using the program that our school uses.  We make her do it anyway.  Last night she was about in tears talking about how the school only has a short time to use the program and that it will be really bad for the school if she keeps using the app when they haven't paid for it and how it will charge them if she uses it and how she doesn't want to do it because it gives her multiplication and division when she is only supposed to be studying multiplication.

After hearing and watching her, I told her that she could choose to either do her math or email her teacher as to why she didn't want to do it.  She chose to email her teacher.  She spent roughly 30 minutes writing an email (doing the math would have taken half the amount of time... but I was curious as to what she'd write) and this is what she sent:

Dear Mrs. Neuschafer,
I am wondering when we are going to be done With reflex. Because when I am doing reflex itIs all mixed up now if you compare it to say..... IXL it is more focused on like certain Things  like say I only wanted to practice 5s in multiplication I could just go into the multiplication bar and choose 5s but with reflex it does not stay on like the same fact all the time. And yes I'm kinda persuading you to go more towards IXL but... I am also trying to see if you have looked and seen something better Than reflex. By the way there is also an app for IXL and I practically use it every day And it is a great app.
Your student,
               Riley Nichole Grant

Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

TMEA 2016

The trip to San Antonio this past week was great.  Jennifer Ross and I drove down on Tuesday night and came home Saturday night.  There were several great sessions, awesome dinners and time with friends and wonderful concerts.  Some of my favorite moments are walking the riverwalk in the mornings on the way to our first session.  The weather was gorgeous - mostly high 70s and low 80s!

Several friends had their groups performing at the conference or were clinicians.  I'm hoping to do that one day soon.  Working towards being a presenter and learning how to teach other teachers.  It's inspiring to watch friends do this and cheer them on.

While I was at TMEA, my parents took Riley on a trip to TN.  They drove 12 hours there and back between Thursday and Sunday.  Riley told me that she was able to see deer, made two great friends (turns out they were cats) and had so much fun.  We gave her the choice between being at school for her Valentine's party and going on an adventure.  She chose the adventure!  No surprise there - takes after her Mommy in her desire to travel non-stop if possible.

Julia had time with Jeremy at home and went to school.  He took her to I Heart Yogurt and they got donuts in the morning.  She was thrilled and had so much fun!!

Another TN Tale

We drove through Greenville TX on the way home and she spotted a company called Union Security. She thought it was Onion Security, so she started laughing. 

“Onion Security?” she said. “Who would want to steal onions?”


Riley's Trip to Tennessee

My mom sent me the information below in an email... 

I thought you could blog these. She is so funny!

About 6 hours into the trip:
It feels like we’ve practically lived our whole lives in this car.

A while later:
Feels like I’ve grown two inches.

At the hotel breakfast bar:
R: I’m going to make waffles.
Me: Do you know how?
R: Yes, my dad showed me.
… after she made one perfectly she whispered to me:
My dad didn’t really show me. I just said that so you’d let me make them.

At Cracker Barrel, where she found Peppa Pig for Jules:
R: I bought a present for Jules before buying anything for myself. 
Grampa: But that’s just because you couldn’t find anything you wanted.
R: True. 

On the way home, after 10 hours of driving:
Riley (stretching her legs to the ceiling): I’m so tired of driving.
Grampa: I’m the one driving. Imagine how I feel.
Riley: Well at least you get to move your arms and legs.

At Burger King she ordered a kids meal and they forgot to include her apple juice. I went up to the counter to ask for it.
R: If you want something, you have to do it yourself.
Grampa: So why did you make Grandma go get your apple juice? Why didn’t you do it yourself?
R: Hey, I’m a kid. I’m supposed to be enjoying my life.

Towels in the Hamper

After Riley took a shower, she put her towel on the carpet and left it there while we had dinner.  I found it after dinner and brought it out to the laundry in the laundry room while asking her, "Riley, after you take a shower, where does your towel go?"  She responded with, "Oh, sorry!!"  I sarcastically said it didn't go there and asked her again to tell me where it goes.  Riley said, "In the hamper."  I then asked her if she knew what happens when we leave wet towels on carpet.  She said she wasn't sure.  I told her that it makes the carpet wet and it's not good for it.  Jeremy continued the conversation with more details..."it makes the carpet get all moldy and mildewy and smells like old people."  Riley then said, "So it smells like Grandma and Grandpa?"  (lol!!)

Jeremy clarified what he meant by 'old people' and Riley said, "Oh that makes more sense.  I was about to say that Grandma and Grandpa smell good!"

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Yesterday Julia woke up early and rather than waking me up, she took it upon herself to wake up Riley.  Not a good idea.  Julia came out crying because Riley had bitten Julia on the finger to get her off.  I asked why and Riley said Julia was laying on top of her and wouldn't get off.  Julia was crying and said that she just wanted to snuggle with her.

We talked about how she should never go in and wake Riley up in the morning.  Julia said she didn't know she was sleeping.  After hearing several excuses about how Julia didn't know she was sleeping/she just wanted to snuggle with Riley/she didn't see her sleeping, Riley came out and asked when we were getting donuts.  I told her that we weren't getting donuts for breakfast.  Riley began to cry.  Then the truth came out.

Riley shared that Julia came into her room and said that I had told her that if Riley would get dressed, we might go to the donut shop and get donuts for breakfast.  Julia emphasized that she said the word "might" and didn't promise Riley that we were getting them.  I asked her if I had said anything about getting donuts and she said "no... but I want them."  Riley was then crying because she wanted to stay asleep and she was hungry and donuts were all she wanted.  Julia was crying because she really, really wanted to eat donuts... or I Heart Yogurt... or candy.

I refused to get them donuts and made them eat regular breakfasts from home.  It took some time for them (particularly Julia) to understand that just because they wanted donuts, didn't mean that we were going to get them.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Spring in Winter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucy and Ethel exchange propane tanks

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Less Facebook, More Family

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

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

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

TMEA Scholarship

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

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

Best Cooker of Mac and Cheese

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Good Samaritan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, January 4, 2016

Who Needs Heat?

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

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

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

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

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

Names I Won't Use For My Children

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

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Goals for 2016

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

Goals for 2016:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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