Friday, October 30, 2015

Sweet moments of the week- and Halloween question

    - I began working on my Thanksgiving tree project. My sister-in-law, Sarah, just sent me a bunch of leaf cut outs that I can decorate. Thanks, Sarah!
   - I wrote a few parents to tell them how much I enjoy having their children in my class. I received some great responses, even though they didn't need to write back.
    - A 5th grade girl made me a cute little ghost cupcake. Kind of like these, but the ghost was a folded piece of fondant, covered in more fondant. This little girl is one of the nicest kids. (She wore this costume:  to school today with a little painted pink nose and whiskers.)
     - I also saw a baby (inflatable) sumo wrestler costume, Justin Bieber, a bumble bee, a cowgirl, lots of superheroes, Waldo, etc. There were no super gross or sexy costumes. It was refreshing.
     -Helped a good friend who is going through a hard time
     - Played a few duets with Timmy while he was practicing trumpet. (I played recorder. It was torture for my music teacher ears, but it was fun. Timmy is doing great.)
      - Played some board games with David
      -Helped Tim on a book report
     - Watched Amazing Race with the kids tonight. Now they both want to try bungee jumping.
     -Talked to the boys about some new activities that neither of them have tried before. It will be interesting to see if they like them or not.
       -Matt made these Rolo Cheesecake Bars:
ROLO CHEESECAKE BARS. Recipe Oh my gosh. This is the picture and recipe from Just a Pinch Recipes. Holy cow are they tasty!

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Tomorrow is Halloween. My students asked me today which countries currently celebrate Halloween. If you are reading from outside of the US, can you tell me if Halloween in celebrated in your country? If so, what do people do on Halloween?  For our family it's a time to dress up, go trick or treating and eat candy, but that's pretty much it.
     I'd love to talk to them about it on Monday.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Currently 10/24

Watching:

     
     It has become a new tradition on Friday nights to watch Amazing Race with the boys. We have enjoyed snuggling on the couch and watching the places where they travel. Timmy mentioned yesterday that he would want to try ziplining or bungee jumping after watching this week's episode. David likes the snacks. 3 weeks ago, we ordered potato skins from a restaurant down the street, 2 weeks was popcorn and last night was a salty snack mix. I enjoy listening to what the boys think of each team and how they process the challenges they are facing. It's interesting to me to see what kinds of attitudes bother the boys and which ones they don't see a problem with. (Neither boy are fans of the cheerleaders, sorry ladies. Timmy's favorite team are Josh and Tanner, above. David's favorite team are Cindy and Rick.)

Reading:

   I entered to win this book in November of last year on Goodreads. I lost but Bill Harrison, the author (and the person who was stuck on the raft), e-mailed me and asked if I would like a copy of the e-book. I finally got around to reading it. Basically, he was serving in the Navy during WWII and after the war officially ended, his ship was sent to clear the waters. They ended up in a tsunami and the boat sunk. He and 8 other soldiers ended up making it onto a life raft. This books tells the story of their 6 days they spent adrift without food and water. Most people who know me well know that I am not a huge fan of the ocean. (Looking at it, yes; being in it, no.) I can't imagine how terrifying it would be to spend 6 days in the middle of the ocean (even on a giant ship. lol), never mind without supplies  or food and surrounded by sharks. Bill tells of how his faith affected his experience and of the faithfulness of God. I really enjoyed this book and his perspective on life in general. He would be a person I would really like to have coffee with someday. 
      I don't know what I'm reading next. (I have a system so I'll know tonight!)

Listening:

    To the Holy Spirit. Ever get a nagging feeling that something is just not the way it should be?  Changing some things I have been noticing lately. Right now I am working on some easy things. I'm planning on tackling some less comfortable things within the month. 

Making:

Cupcakes and new friends. I'm going to take advantage of this cold day to make some chocolate cupcakes. I haven't baked in a while- just simple, plain cupcakes but I'm sure we'll enjoy them. 
     Today I had breakfast with a group of ladies; some whom I have hung out with before and some new friends. I really enjoyed myself and I'm glad that I "put myself out there" when I invited some acquaintances that I didn't know very well. 
     I've been making some backgrounds for my leaf project too. 

Feeling:

     Good. I'm glad that I made the decision to take a break from Facebook. Not missing it at all yet and seriously considering logging on at the end of the month, downloading all my pictures and deactivating. I do love when I log on and reconnect with someone, so maybe I will keep the account but only log on every month or so to update any new friends with contact info. I'll see at the end of the month. 
      This may sound weird, but I feel like I'm FEELING more in general. I'm trying to eliminate some distractions and pay attention to life in general. I mentioned that I wanted to connect more and I feel like that's happening. I found myself really paying attention to what I'm saying/writing to people as well as taking time to relax and listen to other people more. Slowing down is taking a bit of effort but I'm happy for the opportunity.  A friend of mine mentioned she missed playing with me in a concert band I used to be in. I may have time to join it again. I LOVE Christmas concerts and I may consider joining again. 

Planning:

  Last year I did a huge project for my students at Thanksgiving. I made a large tree, and handpainted/designed a leaf for each student who sang for me. On the back, I wrote them each a personal message. It was really impactful to them and to me. I'm starting early so I can sleep that week. :) (Anyone want to cut out leaf shaped for me? Lol. Better yet, anyone have a cricut with lots of leaf cut outs?)
      I'm planning to get at least a few letters done this weekend and to get caught up on my mail log. I'll update the project soon. I think I'm going to hit my "outgoing mail" goal this year. Then what? (Still sadly behind on incoming)

Loving:

I love that the weather is getting cooler. The leaves are beautiful here and the brisk air makes me feel alive. I also rarely get sunburned in the fall, which doesn't mean it NEVER happens. I love enjoying a hot cup of tea or hot chocolate, fire pits, hanging a throw on the couch for chilly nights, hot dinners, etc. I really love Christmas too so, even though I get aggravated at early advertising, I have to admit that I am looking forward to the holidays this year.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Taking a break

   One day last week I was driving to work and felt like a million thoughts were rushing around in my brain. I felt distracted and anxious as I mentally prepared for the average work day ahead of me. There was nothing out of the ordinary going on that day so why was I so worried? I turned off the radio and felt slightly calmer but still stressed. I spent the rest of the drive in prayer, asking God to reveal some of my "issues" to me during the day,
     Here are some of my thoughts:
- I have been uninvested lately because a few things are out of balance. I'm not sure which adjustment will put things back in balance but I cannot continue on "same old, same old"
- I waste a lot of time. I'm blaming Facebook in this case because I come home, check e-mail, log on, play a game or two, catch up in the lives of all of my "friends," etc. The real thing I'm doing is taking a mental break and not thinking.
- I will find the time I "need" or "don't have" if I stop wasting time.
- Filling up empty time with new tasks I don't enjoy will not help.  I need to prioritize and to spend more "doing nothing" time with my kids.
- Perhaps one of the harder lessons I've been learning is that I've given up on some of my goals. I don't think I've forgotten goals, I think I'm struggling with the fact that I'm going in a different direction than many people around me. I don't know if I have changed or what, but I find myself less connected with people I was close friends with previously.

     All these things reminded me of a time when I just graduated college. I was getting these incredible headaches all the time and I went to get it checked out. I asked the doctor if I had super sensitive hearing or if there was something wrong. She said that she didn't think anything was wrong, but perhaps my training as a musician was affecting the way I process things. She explained that most people, if they were in a cafeteria or restaurant would just be paying attention to/hearing the conversation with the person they were talking to. I will hear that conversation, the noise of all the rest of the restaurant, and if I want to- the individual conversations of anyone anywhere in the room. I do not block out sound. I can, if I'm focusing on one, but normally there's a whole lot of sensory input.
     Normally, I thrive on energetic, busy, lots going on situations- but I think lately it has been draining. I am paying attention to everything at the same time and not turning off the voices I don't need to be hearing. (I am also not paying proper attention all the time to the people I should be listening to, honestly.)  It just makes me feel like I'm going crazy. So, I've decided to cut back on some "noise" in life by leaving Facebook for a month to see if it makes a difference.
     I love Facebook because it keeps me in touch with many, many people that I don't see often. It introduces me to new ideas from some of the penpalling and art groups I'm in. I can see daily events from friends who live far away or get prayer requests for immediate needs. I learn new things about people that I don't know well, like what they like to do or what their holidays are like. I see new places of the world. But, I also waste time. I get annoyed with people who are friends but constantly being aggressive about certain topics. I follow interesting articles and keep linking to other interesting things. I am connected to people who "friended" me but don't give me the time of day in real life, I have unfollowed people who obsessively post about every aspect of life or everything they have ever thought is worth sharing (cat pictures anyone?) and then I feel guilty about it. So, I'm taking a break.  Will I feel completely disconnected and out of touch? Probably.
      Here's what I'm nervous about- will I feel more lonely? I probably will, which brings me to another problem. Why, when we are "connected" to people on the internet, do we feel like we are included? Have friendships degraded so much that a "like" on a picture means more than a phone call? Are you really friends at all if the only contact you have is online? Does sharing glimpses of your every day life make people actually care about what is going on? I have been reading articles about "extending your influence." I have determined that I don't want to extend my influence. God put me here in my life for a purpose and I don't think that He intended for me to be blogging to thousands of people or always being part of a large group. I think that's part of what I like about penpalling. Every letter I write is designed just for that 1 person after I have intensely listened to their thoughts, processed what I want to say and responded. Maybe you are reading because you're one of the people I'm supposed to somehow make a connection with.  I'm sure I will notice a huge drop in correspondences when I'm not online- out of sight out of mind, you know? However, I'm sure I will also catch up with some people who make an effort to stay in touch. I will reevaluate Facebook after the month. I think I really will miss celebrating with people about the good times in life and being reminded of everybody's birthday. lol.
     I desire more relationships that are two-way, genuine, personal friendships. I desire to make the most of my time and to make a difference.  I wish to give myself more fully to things I feel I have been called for. I want to take more responsibility with some things I'm always procrastinating doing that should be done.  It's okay to not fit into expectations that others have set for me if they do not line up with what I feel God wants from me. All of this is not saying that I don't need to change at all to accomplish what I'm looking for. I definitely need to and I have not been a great friend to a few people I can think of off the top of my head. I just need a reboot. So, please feel free to reach out with a comment, phone call, postcard, or letter this month. I will keep you updated on how things are going.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Fall pictures from this weekend

I love autumn. I have spent a lot of time outside in the past few days. Yesterday I attended a local fair and today was so beautiful that I just kept going outside. These pictures are not the highest quality but they show what it looks like around here lately. Looking over these pictures, I feel like I had the camera on the wrong setting. The colors looked a lot more vibrant in person. Guess you'll have to come visit me in MA if you want the real thing!

 This row of aliens just made me laugh.
 You know what else made me laugh? This man with a Minecraft sword. Matt couldn't believe I snuck a picture. Seriously though, when am I going to see this again?




 Tim tried his hand at riding a mechanical bull. He did pretty well. He's concentrating very hard as you can tell by his tongue hanging out in almost every picture. (Which is also why that cut on the side of his lip won't heal.. )








 Pretty scarves
 Animals at the fair


 I loved this cute little goat

 Eating the paint? Surely the hay isn't THAT bad.
 Sand sculpture.
 Displays outside the flower building done by a local nursery.


 Inside the flower building.
 Look at these amazing flowers and displays. I am not usually one to insist upon getting expensive flowers, but you have to admit these are beautiful. (If you insist on buying me expensive flowers, I have recently come across this site. How beautiful are those!?)






 There was a really cool bird with this bird but I couldn't get a good picture.

 This painting was done by a friend of mine. I just took a picture of it because I was proud of her. Way to go Judi!!!

 Outside my house this afternoon



Pictures from a walk with Timmy. 

 


Friday, October 9, 2015

A Lovely Night

  A Lovely Night... did you get it? (It's a song from Cinderella)  As promised, here are some pictures from when I went to see Cinderella at the Boston Opera House.
    David before the show started. We were waiting for our 2 friends that we had invited along.
Intermission selfie. I figured I'd take a matching picture with David. Can you tell I took this with my horrible cell phone camera?

 David, Andy and I. (I rescued him from that throng of girls behind us.. lol)  I've already mentioned how proud I am of him so I won't gush. I love how little David looks next to him. This is a really nice picture that I'm going to frame and put in my office at school.

    This is another cool, but somewhat surreal, photo. The woman on the left was one of my first music teachers. She encouraged me to sing, started me playing the flute (Which I had to quit because my parents made me choose between flute and piano) and has been an encouragement to me since we reconnected. I've been thinking a lot about influence lately and watching how many people have gone to see Andy. (Friends, former classmates, teachers, family)  I believe that we are all made up of the little moments where someone has invested in us. Sometimes influence can be negative or push us into an "I'm not going to be that way" route but many times small moments in time weave us into the people that we become. I'd like to think that this is one of the teachers role who was helped me to become a better musician and music teacher and that that has spread down to every student I have had. Andy's parents were also extremely supportive and encouraging to me when I first started teaching, so all of these relationships are definitely  give and take situations. 
      Many of you reading right now have also been influences in my life. Thank you for being part of my life. I am richly blessed by knowing all of you. If you've been reading the blog and I don't know you (I've seen a lot of people from UAE reading lately), please drop me an e-mail or comment and introduce yourself. I love getting to know new people. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Currently 10/7

Watching:
     I've been watching the newest season of Castle.
 I've liked that show for a while. I like all of the characters. I'm not sure about this season yet, but hopefully it holds my interest. I like all of the actors and actresses involved in the show too so I feel a weird loyalty to the show. I know I'm weird.
     I'll probably watch Survivor tonight to wind down.

Reading:
     James Patterson's Unlucky 13.
   It's a quick read but I'm finding it a little slow. I enjoy it when I'm reading it, but I'm not really invested in the characters or the story. 

Listening:
    To all of my new choruses. Personality wise, they are VERY different from last year. Here's my thoughts so far:
5th grade- super chatty and "young" but they have potential. Once people stop talking to their friends instead of singing, things will move quickly. They are doing very well moving quickly, singing different parts from each other and following directions... when they stop talking. I'm about 20 chairs short in my room for this group, which doesn't help. (I have about 65 chairs in my room already. I don't think we're going to be able to fit 20 more.)

6th grade- Lots of potential. I'm very excited about this group. Many of them continued from last year. I lost a few great singers (Chorus is opposite what is essentially a study so the "busy" kids figure out they can get their homework done IN school and I lose them.) and a few chatty kids who distracted the group. I also gained a few new students to the district. We continued right where they left off last year and they are doing great.

7th/8th- I lost a TON of really responsible, kind, talented 8th graders last year and I'm feeling their loss big time. My 7th graders are good and hard-working but my 8th graders are probably weaker than most of my grades. (Weaker in leadership skills and effort.)  There are a handful of kids who are where I hoped they'd be but it's hard to have them after a year of having stellar students. I'm anticipating that the 7th graders are going to step up as the leaders of this group. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. On a good note, I started off with 3 boys (Gasp... horrible. I had 28 in there last year. Did I mention I miss last year's 8th graders?) and now I'm up to about 10, so that is good. I worked with the 7th grade boys yesterday and they're really working hard for me.

Chorale- This is my after school group. They are shy as a group but they are serious and are following many theory things I've given them. I've worked through some pretty complicated concepts and skills over the past few rehearsals and they're exceeding my expectations with a few things. They need to come together as a group a little bit more. Once that happens, there will be more growth.


Making:
     Nothing. I have been so busy. It's sad.

Feeling:
     I've been feeling a little... cluttered lately. I have had a lot of my mind and a lot to do. I have been craving some quiet time with God and some quality time with friends. I have also examined some of my relationships and I've discovered that I am drained by negativity and that some of my friendships are way weaker than I had thought. I need to re-prioritize my time and energy. (Coming in November I think...)


Planning:
     Working on revamping some music curriculum at school. I'm also trying to adjust to Matt's changing work schedule. For the first time in many, many years, each week is different, which is creating havoc in our schedules.

Loving:
    My boys and musical theater. Timmy and I went to go see Billy Elliot last week. It was pretty good. If I hadn't seen it for the first time on Broadway, I would've been blown away. The boys who played Billy and Michael are getting a bit old for the role. There were some notes that Billy strained on, but I loved him. He was very knowledgeable about how to make his voice work for him and if I didn't teach voice, I would have barely noticed the strain. Michael, on the other hand, had some notes that were out of his range or out of tune.
     This is my favorite song from the show. (Take out the tissues) I seriously cannot listen to this without crying. I think if I was going to try out for a show, I would like to be Billy's mom. Here's me and my real boy :)
    Tomorrow I get to take the other little guy out. This is going to be a really special night. 1) I'm going out with David. 2) I'm seeing Andy Jones, one of my former students  play the role of Prince Topher in the national tour of Cinderella. (I'll also see his beautiful fiance again) 3) I'm seeing another one of my old students, Shane, there. 4) My friend Jessie and her daughter, Teagan, will be joining us. I think this is Teagan's first real show and I know she'll be mesmerized. 5) My first music teacher, Ms. Kelley, knew Andy was one of my students so she planned to be there on the same night. She is treating David and I to appetizers and I'm going to introduce her to Andy after the show. It will be such a special night to me to be with so many important people in my past and present. I'll put a cute picture up sometime over the weekend.