Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Hey all, and Happy Fall!!!

As you may know, I turned 28 at the beginning of this week.  (Fun fact: this also meant, as my mom reminded me, my birthday fell on the same day of the week that I was actually born.)

I don't think I've admitted this super-publicly, but recently, I've been forgetting how old I am.  For real.  I felt so silly when I had to do the math a couple times over one night when I was explaining to Bryant about forgetting my age earlier in the day.  I don't know what the deal is...and while trying to figure it out, it has occurred to me that the ages between 25 and 30 (or maybe 29) seem to get smushed together.  They're just kind-of there...as placeholders after the 25 milestone...while you wait to turn 29 so you can prepare to enter into your 30's.  Can anyone relate?  Maybe this is just a way for me to justify the fact that I legitimately thought I was 28 for a time during my 27th year.  Ha.

Anyway, I thought I'd share a bit about how I rang in Year 28:

As you also may know, I've signed up for approx. 52,873 birthday/rewards clubs...which means I receive approx. 52,873 e-mails with special birthday offers in the weeks surrounding my birthday.  You'd better believe I capitalize on as many of those as possible...esp. the "no purchase required" ones!  (And you should, too!)  So, birthday festivities began well in advance of the actual day with this gem:

The night before my birthday, my sweet husband organized a surprise birthday dinner!  I was under the impression just he and I would be enjoying supper "out," but when we got to the restaurant, I was greeted by these sweet people!
There was even a complimentary birthday dessert!
They used cocoa for the stencil...we were wondering, too.  ;-)

My hubby got to spend nearly the whole day with me the next day!
We got an early start on the birthday festivities with Scooter's and a new donut shop.
The donuts were enjoyed at a new-to-us park and were followed by some exploring.
Those are locks on the bridge!
We didn't come prepared to leave our own...but maybe someday.  ☺
Also found some railroad tracks...
...and there was a train coming!
(Don't worry...it wasn't actually coming right then.)
Our next stop was the beautiful Overland Park Arboretum.
I think idyllic is the word.  ☺

(Not pictured: a bench by a babbling brook where we stopped to read for a bit, as well as a bird-watching cottage.)
These were little tiny wooden houses placed in an old tree's trunk!
Lunch: self-explanatory. ☺
There just happened to be a cupcake shop next to Chick-fil-a, so we decided we'd better try it.
As luck would have it, they give free birthday cupcakes!
Pumpkin Spice Latte and Choc. Chip Cookie Dough were our flavors of choice.
Bryant had a dentist appt. in the afternoon, then came home with flowers and made me a delicious steak dinner...
...and cake!
This is an aerial view of it with candles (2 and 8 for 28) - it's called Earthquake Cake...and it was so yummy!
I felt so celebrated by so many people!  Calls, cards, gifts, and wishes came rolling in all day!  I'll admit that a good percentage of the cards I received had cats on them...
Pretty sure if there was a literal key to my heart, it would be a cat-shaped Target gift card...or a tiny red vase...or a childhood-favorite snack mix with mini Doritos in it...
Received this pretty package in the mail...complete with a baby whisk!
This is what was inside!  Can't wait to put it to good use!  ☺
Not pictured: the gift of in-tune music in the form of piano tuning!  Hooray!!

Also not pictured: a sweet, thoughtful, precious gift from my husband.  Maybe I'll tell you more about it, someday.  ☺

I really can't put into words how thankful I am for yesterday and all it brought.  I never expect much (if anything) for my birthday, but I always receive beyond my wildest dreams...and not just in the form of tangible gifts.  The friendship, thoughtfulness, and love shown to me are more than I could ever ask for...and it all means so very much.

A great big "THANK YOU!" to all who helped make the day so special.  And an even bigger thank you to my husband.  He made me feel so celebrated and cherished all day.  I'm so very thankful for him and all he does!  I won't gush anymore, right now, but gosh, I love him!

Thanks for letting me share with you all!  I hope you are well and enjoying the last few days of September - can you believe it's almost over?!


Favorites of the day:
Post-it notes
the opportunity to attend a great piano teachers' workshop and win this door prize:
Pretty fitting, huh?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Life is grand!

Hi.  ☺

We're going to skip the small talk today, if you don't mind.

Based on this post's title, any guesses about what the news I'm soooo excited to share with you might be?

The short story:

The long(er) story, which happened in about 3 days' time:
My sweet husband had been wanting to get a piano for our home since I moved in.  We had the keyboard I'd had growing up, but I hadn't had regular access to a real piano (the one I teach on at the community center is electric) for quite some time.  So, he'd been looking for one on Craigslist for months.  We'd been to look at quite a few in person, but they were mostly duds or over-priced.  We originally planned to find a cheap, smaller "starter" piano for the sake of our budget and our little starter home.   Buuut, then he found one that we both felt really good about - an antique walnut 6-1/2' grand that had recently been re-keyed...and they were only asking $500 for it.  I was trying not to get my hopes up about it, but we both felt better about it than any of the previous "potentials."  

Ultimately, we went to look at it, it was in really great shape, and we said, "Yes!"  AND, after sharing our story and asking what their lowest price might be, we got a hefty "newlywed/piano player & teacher" discount!  They were very nice people.  The piano was a family heirloom, but no one had room for it, anymore.   I think they were just glad to see it going to a good home and to know that it will be played often and loved lots!

Bryant and a coworker did a ton of research about how to go about moving a grand piano, and in an evening's time, we were able to gather the necessary materials to prepare for the process.  I have such an intelligent, handy, helpful husband!  (It's worth mentioning that among all this piano hoopla, he also spent hours and hours working on his car, yet maintained his excitement about our piano!)

Come moving day, we rented a U-Haul, and my awesome husband and ever-helpful dad made the trip to pick up our grand piano!  I stayed back to make final preparations (and keep my slight anxiety about the whole process at home...haha).  We called up some great friends who provided much-needed muscles and help with the truck-to-home transition.

It all went so well - we managed to catch the window between afternoon rain showers, nothing got dropped, everything fit, and it just went so smoothly!  I attribute that to my thoughtful husband's preparedness, my dad's advice and prior experience, and our amazing helpers!

Here are a few moments from the day:
And they're off!
(Unfortunately, we didn't miss the rain in the morning, so we were all soaked after picking up and loading stuff into the truck!)
They gave us a bigger truck than we paid for, so there was plenty of room!
A perfect fit!
I had the privilege of unloading the first piece!
(Just to be clear, it's the lid prop, not a gun!  haha)
Yes, I was the photographer.  The muscly men did a great job!
Debut performance!

So, just to give you a couple before/after glimpses:
Isn't it so beautiful?!?!?!

It's really in amazing shape for being almost 80 years old.  As far as we know, it just needs a good tuning.  Of course, there are probably lots of other things we could do to restore it to it's 1936 glory, but for now, we're going to love it just as it is!

I can't begin to express how thankful I am about this.  I'd say it's a dream come true, but I never dared to dream I'd have my very own grand piano to play whenever I want to - especially at this time in our life!  A huge thank you to my husband for making it happen!

Wanna know the kicker?  I've always loved playing pieces by Jim Brickman (a famous piano composer/performer).  The first piano piece I played for Bryant was "Rocket to the Moon" by Jim Brickman - a piece I've had memorized since the 5th grade.  (This was the piece I played for our piano's debut performance, too - even though it was terribly out-of-tune.)  Anyway, the family we bought the piano from left a couple books in the bench for us.  One was a really interesting Japanese (or perhaps Chinese) version of a beginning John Thompson book they'd gotten for a foreign exchange student once-upon-a-time.  The other?  A Jim Brickman book...that has "Rocket to the Moon" in it.  Just further confirmation that it was meant to be.  ☺

Thanks for reading and for sharing our excitement!  You're welcome to come over to play and/or hear it anytime (after we get it tuned...unless you just can't wait, like us!).  ☺

Grand Piano-ownerly,

Favorites of the day:
my sweet, loving, hard-working husband
our new piano...of course
garden-fresh pesto

Friday, August 14, 2015

Avenue of Life

Hello, hello!

I hope this finds you all well and enjoying back-to-school season.  ☺

I promised to tell you about some of the new things going on in life here, so I'd like to share about one of them today:

A few months ago, I heard about a community center in the area called Avenue of Life.  A friend was tutoring there for the summer, and I thought it sounded like a pretty neat establishment.  It didn't occur to me till a few weeks later, however, that there might be opportunity for me to help out there, too.

Long story short, I am currently teaching piano lessons there on a volunteer basis!  I started a month or so ago, and for now, am teaching one afternoon a week, in order to continue to try to protect Bryant and my evenings together.  It was good to start in the summertime, because I was able to teach kiddos during the earlier afternoon hours.  I/we didn't know what my time there would look like once school started, but I just found out (as luck...actually, as God would have it) that the day I chose to teach lessons there happens to be the weekly district-wide early release day!

The clientele has varied a bit every week, but I've seen some students attend more and more regularly, as well as new ones coming each week.  It's a bit of a challenge to know what to be prepared for each time I'm there, but I just take as many books/resources as I can, and hope I can meet the needs of whoever shows up!  I enjoy the variety, and the "unknown" keeps it interesting and exciting.  (For example: A brother and sister who recently started lessons with me previously took lessons with a Spanish-speaking teacher and learned the notes not as letters, but as solf├Ęge syllables!  Their goal is to learn the "letter version" of the musical alphabet in addition to learning to read the actual notes on the staff, rather than intervals and patterns.)  

I'm confident this opportunity was an answer to my prayers for guidance in finding ways to use my time and share my gifts.  This season in my life is "wide open," at the moment, and I'm thankful for the ability to take advantage of this particular opportunity, especially.

I haven't shared a student story in quite a while, so here is a short one for you:
One of my adult students (who has Asperger's syndrome and suffers from other physical ailments) told me this past week that our piano lessons are the highlight of her week.  She is "obsessed" (her word, not mine) with the piano and absolutely loves to practice.  What more could a teacher ask for?  ☺

Thanks for reading!

Musically yours,

Favorites of the day:
date nights, courtesy of Groupon and my thoughtful husband
sunshine and pool time

Thursday, July 16, 2015

FULL life

My dear, faithful readers,

You're probably wondering if I've forgotten the password to my Blogger account...or if I've lost the ability to type...or if the heat has melted my laptop and rendered any updates unpostable...or if I've given up for good on this journey of the written type.

Not one of those scenarios is true (though losing my laptop to the heat has sure seemed plausible lately!).  Rather, I've just been working to further find my niche here in KC, and I'm ready to play the "open book" card and tell you about it.

I'll be completely honest in sharing the fact that this transition hasn't been all roses and butterflies...or ponies and rainbows, for that matter.  It's been tricky (a word I use more than I realized - one of the boys I nanny for has started using it...in conjunction with scrunching up his face in the most adorable way).

Yes, I love being a wife and supporting/caring for/enjoying time with my husband.  Yes, I like being able to help a wonderful family out by caring for their precious boys whenever they need me to do so.  Yes, I enjoy meeting new people and making connections in order to not only build my clientele, but also to build relationships here.  Yes, I appreciate and take advantage of this season in life when I have ample time to myself and can do what I want when I want.

All that said, however, I found myself having a hard time being content (speaking of...you might remember the post I once wrote about contentment).  I felt like I didn't have a lot to show for this new life I'd entered into; like I wasn't truly accomplishing anything, contributing to society, or using my God-given skill set to the fullest.  And I'm realizing this might also be why I haven't written a blog post in the recent past...I haven't really felt like I have anything to write about, I guess.

My life in Lincoln (and Topeka, for that matter) was FULL - I knew a lot of people, I did a lot of things, and I had a lot of friends.  I know those seem like fairly broad statements, but that doesn't make them less true.  I was used to completing myriad tasks in short time frames, having many musical outlets for practice/performance/collaboration, finishing large projects after months of problem-solving and much effort, seeing and furthering the progress of many students in a week's time, being very involved in church and church-related activities, and never being at a loss for things to do or people to see.   

After leaving those things behind, I found myself realizing how much weight those aspects of life carried and contributed to my feelings of accomplishment and self-worth.  I won't go so far as to say I was feeling worthless, but like I said, I wasn't feeling like I had much to say when asked, "So, what are you doing in KC?"

By the grace of God, and with a little help from my husband and those closest to me, though, I recently had a little epiphany: my KC life is equally FULL - just in different ways and with different "things!"  I told you about some of those things in a previous post, and am excited to tell you more, but what I want to make clear as I wrap up this little-glimpse-into-my-heart post is that I am becoming more and more content with my "new life."  I'm recognizing the ways I am and can be using my gifts.  I'm meeting new people and forming new relationships.  I'm continuing to enjoy the time I spend making our house a home and serving my husband.  I'm finding new "things" to do and ways to help out and contribute to the greater good.  I'm embracing the new place and new life to which God has called me...and truly loving married life.

I'd like to thank you all for reading.  I hesitated to write all this out, much less post it, but I'd also like to be honest and share my life - good and bad, ups and downs - in hopes that you might be able to relate in some way.  I also know a lot of you really do care, and I appreciate that very much!

In other news...the front flower bed has continued to take off!

One last thing: I'd like to give a quick shout out to my awesome brother and the amazing woman he has asked to be part of our family!  Please join me in congratulating them on their upcoming wedding and praying for blessings on their marriage.  ☺

Thanks again!


Favorites of the day:
Andy Stanley's "Brand: New" series

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

April showers bring...

Do I really need to finish it?


Ok - my OCD is kicking in.  

April showers bring...May flowers!

(Except, technically, the May showers had something to do with these flowers, too.)

Annnnyway...happy spring, everyone!  I hope this finds you well and your basement dry.

I've been waiting to share this project with you for quite a while:
My sweet husband helped me make a little flower bed in front of our house!  I was so excited about it, we had it done and ready to plant wellll before the last frost date, so I had to practice patience before putting anything green in it.  It was worth the wait, though!

Here are a few before/during/after pics for you:
This isn't actually where the bed went or is, but I didn't get a true "before" pic, so just picture the space looking like this, except with less green and more dead leaves...and stuff.
After clearing the space, we (yes, I helped) built a 3-sided wooden "box" to contain the fresh dirt we put in.
Then, I put in some landscaping fabric before planting some perennial starts from my mom (and 2 surprise lilies - one of my very favorite flowers - we found at a garage sale).
Next came a few boughten (thanks to spell check, I just realized "boughten" isn't technically a word...weird...no wonder it looked so strange) perennials and the mulch.
After some root stimulater, Miracle-Gro, sunshine, and rain, we have lots of green and even some color!

I planted three different versions of portucula, but this was the only one with a photograph-able bloom at the time of this post.
The plants the Columbine starts came from are like bushes, now.
We'll see how these guys do from here on out!
Don't you think daisies are the friendliest flower?

Also - we rescued these beauties from the Lowe's clearance rack. ☺

I'm very thankful for my handy husband, his tool box, and his willingness to help me create this.  This was definitely one of my favorite projects we've done "around the house," so far.  ☺

Speaking of showers...and favorite projects...here's a gift I made for a good friend's recent bridal shower:
Not the best picture of it, but you get the idea.
I used pictures (that I took) from their proposal and quotes from favorite TV shows and movies they've been watching together since they started dating.

So, that was all fun.  Gotta love DIY-ing it.  ☺

Let me know if there's ever anything you want the "scoop" about.  I do my best to keep you posted (pun intended), but am always open for suggestions, of course.

Enjoy the end of the semester, you students and teachers out there!  Everyone else, hope you're able to enjoy the weather on occasion.

Thanks for reading!

With a green thumb,

Favorites of the day:
banana ice cream (frozen bananas in the blender...so good!)
long, meaningful conversations

Thursday, April 16, 2015

KC Life

Howdy ho, neighbors!

Hope this finds you well and staying warm/cool/safe/wet/dry, as applicable, in this unpredictable spring weather.  ☺

As promised, I'd like to tell you about some of the things I've found to do here in the big KC, so far:

First and foremost, I'm learning what it means to be a wife.  I love that I have the time/energy/resources to be able to put my husband first and make the most of our time together.  We realize this time in our lives is precious - we can pretty much do whatever we want whenever we want without worrying about anyone but ourselves (and the 4-legged children, of course), and we're doing our best to not take it for granted.  There's so much I could share about this aspect of life, right now, but I won't bore you with the seemingly mundane details of our day-to-day.  Just know that I'm loving making use of my previously untapped Pinterest boards and helping make our house a home.

I'm also nannying for a precious family with two-year-old twin boys.  They've stolen my heart, and I've loved spending time with them and watching the boys grow.  We found each other via Care.com (sort-of like online dating for families looking for childcare), and I'm so thankful to have met and started to become part of their family.  They've welcomed both Bryant and I with open arms, and we're so grateful.

You're probably wondering about music students, yes?  I miss teaching at the studio very much (and miss my students and coworkers even more!).  I have found one student here, though, so I have a small outlet for this part of my life through her.  I travel to their house once a week to teach her lesson on their baby grand...I know - it's rough.  ;-)  Anyway, I'm constantly meeting new people and making new connections, so I'm sure I'll find more students, eventually.  I'm just not being super aggressive about it, at this point.  If you know anyone looking for a music teachers in the KC area, though, feel free to send them my way!

In addition to the aforementioned tasks and activities, I'm helping/planning/getting ready to be in two weddings this summer - my former coopmate's and my brother's.  Both include showers, helping with invitations, dress shopping, etc., etc...and I'm loving every minute of it!  After having just done it all ourselves, it's nice to be able to help others in more, new ways...and to reminisce about our own festivities. ☺

I'll leave it at that, for now.  Bring on the questions, and as usual, thanks for reading!

Loving life,

P.S. You'll be happy to know I found Tinsel Tom's long lost cousins!

Favorites of the day:
garden-fresh asparagus (thanks, Mom!)
time and opportunity to lend a helping hand
couples' activities