Thursday, December 5, 2013

Don't worry...I'm still here. ☺

Hello, hello!

I'm taking a short break from the nearly 50 student evaluations I need to get done (a little over halfway there!) to make sure you know I'm still alive and well.  ☺  One of my adult students told me the other day that if I think time is going by quickly now, it only gets faster...which is really hard to imagine, at this point.  I'm doing my very best to enjoy each moment before it passes, though!

The holiday season, so far, as brought lots of quality time with friends, family, and loved ones - new and old, near and far - and I wouldn't have it any other way.  You all know relationships are second only to Jesus on my "life priorities list," so building/cultivating/growing them on any level just does my heart good.

A couple kiddo stories for you:
Before starting a duet, one of my students (the one who used to refer to duets as "dudettes," in fact) stopped for a moment to figure out how to count us off saying to himself, "Wait - what's the temperature?" as he pointed to the time signature.  I asked, "Do you mean the tempo or the time signature?"  He laughed and replied, "Oh yeah - the time signature - that's what I meant."

A few weeks ago, my favorite 4-yr.-old planned a trip to the Children's Museum and lunch at Noodles & Co. for our morning together before preschool.  When I thanked her for such a fun time together, she replied, "My pleasure."

Thanks for reading!  Sorry this was so short and sweet... Let me know if there's anything you'd like to hear/read about in the "scoop" - I'm always open for questions and/or suggestions! ☺

Stay warm out there!


Favorites of the day:
having quite a few students miss their lessons tonight (even though this was due, in part, to illness, it was a huge answer to prayer, because I had my laptop with me and was able to fill the paid time completing some evaluations)
Pumpkin Spice Almonds
(memories of) Cocoa Gravy w/ Biscuits

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The days are flying by like leaves off the trees...

Goodness - where did October go?!

If you know me at all, you know I love pretty much everything about fall, and this year has been no exception...except it's just gone by so quickly!

Highlights from October include:

  • 4 weddings (yes, four)
  • state piano festival (my students who participated did a great job!)
  • lots of hours put in at Arts Inc....and many more duties to add to my list there (including but not limited to graphic designer, marketing coordinator, and BOD meeting hostess/secretary)
  • QT spent with old and new(!) friends

We had our recital for the studio last weekend.  Yes, it was much earlier in the semester than usual...and yes, that means I won't be hearing "Jingle Bells" 527 times a week between now and Christmas.  ☺  I was so very proud of all my students' performances!  I asked one of them (a 5-yr.old) if he was proud of himself.  When he replied with a "no," I feigned shock and asked why.  He replied, "I played so YOU could be proud!"

Funny moment in lessons a couple weeks ago:
6-yr.-old student: Hey - this one has a dudette!
Me: Yeah - let's play the duet!
Student: Oh - hahaha - I thought it was called a dudette - hahaha!
He only got a little red in the face when he realized his mistake.

That's all, for now.  I hope you all have a lovely weekend!  I'm pretty excited for what mine has in store... ; )


Favorites of the day:
my car - still loving it!
this meal (a delayed favorite from the weekend):

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"Young" Adult

Happy fall, dear friends! Hope this finds you well, as usual.

Thank you to those of you who called to sing “Happy Birthday,” wrote on my Facebook wall, sent a text or card, and/or helped me celebrate last week! I spent my birthday weekend with some of my very, very favorite people, and felt so blessed and loved to receive so many well-wishes, thoughtful gifts, and kind words on my special day!

Amidst the (embarrassing amount of) cat cards I received in the mail last week was a letter from the YMCA. After thanking me for my membership, it stated that according to their records, I am “no longer eligible for a Young Adult membership” (people ages 19-25), and therefore, my “membership will be converted to an Adult membership” ($10/month more than I was paying as a “Young Adult”).

Was it wrong for me to be slightly offended/disappointed/saddened that they didn’t at least wish me a happy birthday in this letter?! I know it wouldn’t change the fact that I’ll be paying more for my membership, but couldn’t they at least have softened the blow by saying, “Hey – we noticed you turned a year older…happy birthday! By the way, this means you’re an adult, now, so we’re increasing your monthly fee.”

I don’t know if they think adults use (or need to use) the gym more than young adults, or if they simply assume individuals magically make more money once they turn 26 and apparently enter adulthood. Which brings me to the question: When does adulthood begin?

Is it when you can vote?

When you can rent a car without the unnecessary amount of extra fees?

When you get married? Have children?

When you reach your ultimate career goal(s)?

When you can eat certain foods without gagging?

When you can no longer be claimed as a dependent on anyone’s tax returns?

When you can change your own flat tire?

When you no longer find “childish” things funny or appealing?

As of this month, I’m officially on my own, as far as health/car/life insurance goes…except for my phone bill – I’m still on our “family plan.” At least the cell phone companies understand – family is family, no matter how old you are…good to know some things never change.

Back to the topic at hand, though: What does “young adult” even mean? I mean, I know it’s the stage of life after being a teenager…but why does the “adult” phase come so quickly after the “young adult” one? I think a “young” adult should stay “young” as long as a child stays a child…let’s say 12-ish years. So, by that calculation, adulthood shouldn’t set in till age 30, right? Who knows…

Please know I’m mostly being facetious about most of this. In all seriousness, though, it feels kind-of weird to be considered a “real” adult…to be completely self-sufficient and to only really have to worry about myself when making decisions and/or life changes. (Charlie’s pretty good about going with the flow.)

What I know for sure is this:
I am loving this season of life and am trying my best to not take any part of it for granted. I love being able to stay out later than planned (after not planning to go out, in the first place), being able to keep such an abnormal work schedule and continue doing what I feel called to do, and being able to be available to help/encourage/spend time with others at any time of day or night. I love not planning meals, being the only one on my budget, and sleeping with more covers than the average person. I love days with no obligations and endless possibilities, nights spent with my closest girlfriends (eating food-that-shall-remain-nameless, painting our nails, and watching chick flicks), and the hopeful anticipation I have for meeting my future husband. Most importantly, I love being able to continuously realize and increasingly understand how fully and completely I am loved by the Lord – He never ceases to remind me that He is all I need – everything else is just frosting. ☺

To quote a dear friend (and Emily Dickinson), I am “dwelling in the possibility” of whatever adulthood will bring, but in the meantime, I’m living in the beautiful reality of what it has already brought.


Favorites of the day:
free birthday items
pending trip to the apple orchard
dark chocolate M&M's and popcorn (fresh from the microwave, of course, so the M&M's get melty)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

♪ I'm Feelin' Good ♫

Hey, all!

Hope this finds you well!

You know how I feel about fall, so I won't gush too much about the fact that our windows have been open all day, and I'm (comfortably) wearing fuzzy socks and a sweatshirt. ☺

Wanted to quickly share something pretty cool with you:
This past Friday (the 13th), a couple girlfriends and I attended the opening concert at the Pinnacle Bank Arena here in Lincoln. (If you haven't seen/heard about the arena, you should check it out.) We'd hoped to get in on a concert there at some point, and when we found Michael BublĂ© was the premier performer, there was no question we'd go to the first concert.

It was such an entertaining, fun, amazing show, and I'm so glad we were able to go.  Growing up playing in big bands, I was just as impressed with his band as I was with his vocals and stage presence.  I could go on and on, but for now, will let some pics from the night speak for themselves:
The lights were changing as I was taking this panoramic picture, hence the two-tone effect.  You get the idea, though.
The opening act was "Naturally 7" - a vocal play/a capella group of guys who were phenomenal!  Click here to check them out.
Yes, Michael made his way through the crowd to that second stage, too.
OMG - there he is!!

See those panels on the stage?  They were actually screens that were sometimes used a continuation of what was being shown on the big screen, and they moved individually (reminded me a bit of piano keys).  Michael even slid down one when he entered and was lifted into the air on one at the end of the concert.  Hard to explain, but very cool!

Heart-shaped confetti for "All You Need is Love" - one of my favorite parts!!  (Mostly because it genuinely surprised me - it's hard to do that.)

Such a breathtaking show, all around.
See that black Husker jersey...?  ☺
Perk of going to the VERY first concert at the arena!
My dad and I went to the arena to watch the first football game (if you're in Lincoln and they open it up for a game watch, again, I would definitely recommend going), and I was able to get a picture of some of the artwork there (without hundreds of people trying to do so at the same time):

Definitely a good experience and so, so worth the ticket price.

That's all I've got, for now.  Happy Monday (almost)!  


Favorites of the day:
birthday week!!
impromptu plans
Papa John's pizza (with coupons, of course)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Huskers, family, friends, the lake...doesn't get much better!

Happy Tuesday!

I trust you all enjoyed the 3-day weekend, regardless of what you did during it... ☺

I had a really excellent weekend, all around, and thought I'd share a bit about it:

I'm not ashamed to admit that I spent some time at the office (Arts Inc.) on Friday evening after I got done teaching lessons.  I didn't get to everything I'd wanted to earlier in the day, so just decided to spend a few hours there for my own sanity.  The blow of such a lame Friday night was slightly lessened by the build-your-own Runza I picked up on the way.  ☺

Saturday went as follows:
Zumba...with my roommie!
movie and nail-painting with one of my favorite cousins
game-watch with friends, complete with pizza...and fruit pizza!
half-time and 3rd-quarter excursion to the new arena and surrounding area with my dad

The goodness continued on Sunday:
lunch with family and friends
POOL TIME!! with the girls
stamping (card-making) at my aunt and uncle's
yummmmy brown sugar pound cake (right, Mom?)
car-washing with Dad

Perhaps the highlight of the already-great weekend, though, was Monday:
A couple from the young adult Bible study I'm attending at church (it's called "Young Roads") invited us all to their family's lake house for the day!  25+ of us made the trip there Monday morning, and spent the near-perfect day together.  We had no agenda, BEAutiful weather, tons of good food, yard games, a sandy beach, plenty of sunshine, water floaties, a paddle-boat and kayaks, and a speed boat...with tubes, skis, etc.
If you know me well (or know me at all), you know I'm not very good at narrowing down favorite things.  That said, I think boating/tubing is probably in my Top 10 favorite things to do.  I don't know why, but I just really love it...and I got in on quite a bit of it yesterday!  It had been a year since I'd last been out in a boat, so that was definitely the highlight of the day (and weekend), for me.  Not to mention the blessing of such quality fellowship time - getting to know new people in the group and having great conversation with everyone in attendance. ☺

Quick student story for you:
I wore my hair in a ponytail to work the other day (not the first time).  My last student that day was a sweet kindergartner who has been known to cuddle my scarves, play with my necklaces, and tell me he likes my shirt.
When he walked into his lesson on the ponytail day, he asked, "Why'd you change your hair?"  I said, "I didn't - I'm just wearing it in a ponytail today."  He considered my answer for a couple seconds, then asked, "How does it feel?"  I told him it wasn't the first time I'd worn it like that, and it felt like it always does.  Then, he asked, "Does it feel like a hundred turkeys scratching your head?!"  No idea where that came from.  I told him that, now, it didn't feel like that...

That's all, for now.

Enjoy the short week!

Favorites of the day:
open-windows weather
pumpkin season!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Good Life

Hey there, dear friends and readers!

I hope this finds you well and enjoying the end of a great week with the prospect of an even better weekend!

In case you're wondering, I named my new car "Javier."  I know it starts with a "J," but I'm going for the "H" sound - Javier the Hyundai.  I'm falling more and more in love with him every day!  A trip to the DMV the other day resulted in official Nebraska license plates...still don't know how I feel about severing yet another tie to my home state of Kansas.

I've continued to enjoy getting back into the swing of things at the studio!  I love, love, love the new room I'm in (we did some remodeling, and now, I have a room with a pretty yellow accent wall, a new piano (!!), and a window (!!!!) - check out some progress pics on the HAA blog - or better yet, come visit!), and it's so fun to get to know new students and catch up with old ones.

I give my students a little survey to fill out at the beginning of each year (b-day, favorite candy, song they want to play, etc.).  At the end, I asked them to tell me something I don't know about them.  One of the new boys I teach (I think he's 10 or 11) wrote at the end "When were you born?"  At first, I thought it said, "Where were you born?" so, I told him about being from Topeka.  The following conversation ensued:
Him: "No - WHEN were you born?"
Me: "Oh!  You mean like when is my birthday?  It's actually next month."
Him: (semi-conflicted look)
Me: "Or did you mean what year...?"
Him: "Yeah - what year were you born?"
Me: "1987."
Him: (trying to do the math in his head)
Me: (saving him the trouble) "I'm 25."
Him: (shocked) "Oh!!  Wow.  You look like you're 16."
Me: (laughing) "Well, thanks!"

Also - here are a couple Charlie pics for you:
Charlie was watching me eat some ice cream from a distance, at first.  He kept inching/sitting closer and closer, till he was right next to me...then, he gently placed a paw on my arm - just in case I didn't know he was there.
That toy (a scratching post box you can hide things in for them to "hunt" and find) is not new - it's been around for about a year, now, but he's been playing with it SO much, lately.  He tears is apart and seems to let himself forget there are things hidden inside.  The stretching pose has been pretty prevalent, lately, too.

In other news, I shot a (real) gun for the first time last week.  A good friend brought over 3 different handguns and taught me to shoot each of them.  The last gun I shot that evening was a .44-mag.  I was given one shot, and hit the Dr. Pepper can on the first (and last) try!
Turns out I'm a fairly good shot - hit my mark about 90% of the time!

That's all, for now!

Enjoy the weekend,

Favorites of the day:
making new friends and spending quality time with "old" ones
fall is coming soon!!
no-bake cookies
the power of prayer

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

BIG news!!

Hey there!

I've been working on checking things off my long-term to-do list in the past week, or so, before summer wraps up.  This has included working on/completing various tasks at Arts Inc., finding my own health insurance plan, and...buying a NEW CAR!!!!

No, I hadn't been looking for long.  Yes, I'd been thinking about it for a while.

As much as I love, love, love Paulette the Prelude, I knew I didn't want to go through another winter wondering whether or not I'd be able to get out of the driveway, to/from work, etc. in the snow.  Also, more space would be ideal when helping friends move, carpooling to various events, and hauling trumpets/groceries/music boxes/kiddos with car seats.
Paulette will be going back to her home in Topeka...and will surely be missed in Lincoln.
So, I decided that if I'm going to go bigger, I'm going to go big...SUV-big.  My parents had also been looking to upgrade and had done some worth-while research that was very valuable to me once I decided to start car-shopping.  I did a little looking and researching on my own and found this:
2013 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (Turbo)
It was everything I didn't completely know I was looking for, and was a really sweet deal - a used car, but a 2013 model!  I decided to test drive a couple other makes/models of similarly-sized vehicles before seeing the Santa Fe in person.  I wasn't super impressed with them, and all the Santa Fe's great attributes I'd seen on paper more than confirmed when I saw and drove it for the first time.  It was meant to be.  ☺

The guys at the dealership (Sid Dillon of Lincoln) were not pushy, but instead, were very helpful and so accommodating through my entire first car-buying-experience.

Because they needed to detail the car and I needed to finalize my auto insurance, I didn't drive it off the lot the day I bought it.  So, it didn't really feel real for awhile...even after signing 74,152 forms and writing the largest check I've written to date.

Buuut...when I got to drive it home (to work) the next day (today), I realized, "OH MY GOSH!!!  I JUST BOUGHT A NEW CAR!!!!  AHHHH!!!!!!"
It doesn't hurt that a friend works in the detail shop at the dealership and put some extra hours and elbow grease into making it extra beautiful.  LOVE it!!!
I haven't decided on a name, yet, but I'm pretty sure it's a "he."  Bring on the suggestions!  ☺


Favorites of the day:
wedding-induced reunions
prayerfully-supported life decisions
garden-fresh cherry tomatoes
good grammar

Meanwhile, at the coop...

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

PA or bust!

Happy belated 4th of July!

As most of you know, I recently took a trip with my parents to visit my brother who is living in Pennsylvania this summer for an internship.  We had such a wonderful time, and I'd love to tell (and show!) you all about it.  ☺

We departed on Saturday morning and prepared ourselves for the 17+ hour drive.
Super-comfy beds and a pool/hot-tub welcomed us in Colombus, OH.
We were very excited to see this sign after 2 days in the car!
Because we made good time and it was on the way, we made a stop in Hershey.  Mom and dad had been there, before, but it's a pretty neat place, and I didn't want to be as close as we were and not stop to take in all the sights, stories, and smells that town has to offer.

We took a trolley tour of the city, and it was very fun and informative.  A couple "natives" gave the history of Mr. Hershey and his company in a pretty entertaining format, complete with singing, dancing, and free chocolate.
Audience participation was a must.

The Hershey House
The Hershey School (for underprivileged children)
In addition to the chocolate factory, there's an amusement and water park, as well as a large arena/entertainment venue.
Quinton is living in Lititz, PA - about 30 minutes from New Holland, where he's working for CNH (Case New Holland).  The company makes living arrangements for their interns, and Q got in on a pretty sweet set-up.  In true form, he had it set up like a hotel for us upon our arrival...complete with mood music...and donuts.  ☺
Once upon a time, Q made a seal with a "B" on it - please note the sealing wax securing the washcloths.

Since Q had to work the first three days we were there, we had ample time to be tourists.  On the first day, we went on an Amish Farm and Home tour.  This included a tour of an old Amish farm home, a bus tour of the surrounding countryside and farms, and a self-guided tour of an Amish farm property.  This was definitely on of the highlights of the trip for me - I'm fascinated by their lifestyle!
(There was just water in there.)
This little guy strangely resembled Charlie the cat...
The Amish children (and adults) ride scooters, rather than bicycles, so they can't travel too far.
Dad took one for a spin.
Pretty sure the "teacher face" is universal.

It was wash day when we were there, so there were clothes hanging everywhere we went, and on the longest clotheslines ever!

After the tour, we were hoping to eat lunch at an Amish farmer's market, but were disappointed to find out it wasn't open on Mondays.  While we were driving to find a new authentic eatery, however, we passed a farm with a couple large tents set up and lots of cars and buggies parked nearby.
We decided to stop in and found out it was an annual fundraiser for special needs children hosted by the Amish community.  There were families selling all sorts of yummy things to eat and an auction going on.  We enjoyed some delicious food and good conversation with the locals (in addition to some very interesting people-watching).
Ribs and potatoes (not pictured: homemade BBQ sauce, coleslaw, roll and butter)
Fresh (filled) donuts, fry pie, and "whoopie" pies (Did you know these originated in Amish communities?)
That afternoon, we explored the area in hopes of finding some of the covered bridges we saw on a local map.  Apparently, many of the bridges in the area are wooden, so they're covered to protect the materials from nature's elements.

That evening, Quinton prepared a lovely (and delicious) meal for us and took me on a scenic motorcycle ride.

The next day began with a mission to find my great-great-great-great-great-great grandfather's grave site.  Guided by my grandma's careful instructions, we found his headstone.  We were also able to look inside the church and talk with a long-time member of the congregation.  (These pictures are mostly for the sake of those family members reading who might not be able to see it in person.)

From the Muddy Creek Church, we drove to Gettysburg.  It was the 150th anniversary of the battle, and we happened to be there on one of the days the battle actually took place.  Consequently, the place was packed!  Tours were sold out, traffic was crazy, and there were enthusiasts and reenactors everywhere.  We took in as much as we could, though - ate at an "authentic" restaurant in a house that still had bullet holes in the bricks, looked around the visitor's center, took a self-guided driving/hiking tour of the battle grounds, and visited the cemetery and site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
The movie "Gettysburg" was shot here, and they had some of the costumes and props on display.

The next morning started with Swedish pancakes for the birthday boy before he headed to work!  ☺

Then, we spent the morning and early afternoon walking around downtown Lititz.  There was a chocolate factory to tour, a cute park to explore, and some fun shops to peruse.

After Dad went on a motorcycle adventure (per Quinton's prompting), we went to New Holland to get a tour of the plant and building where Q is working.  We couldn't take pictures of most things, but I don't know that I'd be able to re-explain all the processes and duties Q shared with us, anyway!  He absolutely loves what he's doing there, and it was so cool to hear him tell about it all.  Though they do lots more than production at this location, the plant there produces balers...and there were sooo many parked, ready to be shipped and sold!
After our tour, we went to a buffet Q had heard about.  The place was enormous, the food was soooo good (authentic PA Dutch cooking...and lots of it!), and Q got an unexpected free meal for his b-day!
The next day was July 4th, so Quinton was off work, and we headed to Philidelphia for the day.  Because it was a holiday, and a pretty special one for that particular city, we ran into some unexpected closures, but also some perks of being there on such a monumental day.  After finding and listening to the Wanamaker Organ (amazing - check it out!), we walked around the city all morning and afternoon and saw all the historic sites we hoped to.
We started at the art museum in hopes of seeing it up close before they started setting up the fireworks, but they already had it blocked off, so this was as close as we got to the Rocky steps...oh well!
Don't worry - we ate a philly in Philly.

Betsy Ross' house
Benjamin Franklin's grave
Looking pensive in the Quaker meeting house.
Quaker meeting house

First Bank of the U.S.
Second Bank of the U.S.

The Liberty Bell

Independence Hall 

They rang the bells the day we were there...just like they did on July 4, 1776.
This is where George Washington and his family sat!  They got a double-wide pew.
That evening was spent partaking in the city's July 4th celebration.  There was a street festival with lots of vendors, music, and people and America's largest free concert later that evening.  The host band at the concert was "The Roots" - the band from the Jimmy Fallon show - and they were joined by special guests including Ne-yo, Hunter Hayes, and John Mayer!  There were hundreds of thousands of people there, and it was pretty cool to be a part of it all.  After a long day of walking, we claimed our spot for the fireworks fairly early in the evening, so we got in some quality people-watching and music-listening time.  The fireworks were spectacular, and we made it out of the city traffic in decent time afterward.

We all slept in a bit the next morning, packed up, and headed back west.  We stayed in Indiana on our way back and partook in some White Castle cuisine, then picked up some St. Louis-style pizza for lunch the next day on our way though STL.

I found an app for the "license plate game" on my phone, and we saw all but three states!  (I just saw a Vermont plate while driving through downtown Lincoln yesterday - go figure!)
Documentation of the states we traveled through on this trip.
On every family vacation we've taken the past couple of years, we've commented that it could be our last with just the 4 of us.  Somehow, though, we keep finding reason and opportunity to continue seeing the country and making memories together.  I'm so thankful for my selfless dad who drove almost the entire trip, my expert co-pilot mom, and on this trip, my ultra-hospitable brother.

Not a lot to share where life at the coop is concerned.  We don't teach regular lessons in July, so I only have 3-5 a week, and all during the day, rather than evening hours.  I'm making up for not being at the studio in extra hours at Arts Inc., though - llooottttsss to do there!

Sure hope this finds you well and staying as cool as possible.

(This one took it out of me - I'm fresh out of witty salutations...),

P.S. Holy moly - pretty sure this is my longest post ever.  Thanks to those of you who read it in its entirety!  Let me know if there's any part of the trip you'd like to hear more about.

Favorites of the day:
10-cent prints deal at Walgreens this week - just in time to print all of these!
pool time
quality time with so many great people, lately