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 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 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 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'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 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 (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

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Our NEW Schedule!

Dear friends,

This post has been a long time coming, and I'm so very happy to be sharing it with you.  I'll provide some back story in a moment, but right now, I'd like to tell you that next Monday will be Bryant's first day at his NEW JOB!!!

As many of you know, he had been looking for a new position (preferably with a new company) since before he met me.  The main reason, at that point, being the schedule (he was working 5:30 p.m. - 6:00 a.m. four days a week).  Granted, it wasn't a very aggressive search before I came into the picture, but with a new reason to be available during the day and on weekends, his efforts increased during our engagement...but to no avail.

As you also may know, we went ahead with plans (i.e. getting moving to KC...him keeping his current position...), even though his schedule wasn't ideal.  His diligent, persistent search continued as we began our married life together.

I always knew what his schedule was and some of the challenges that came with it, but I didn't fully understand it till I was living it.  I won't bore you with mundane details of our daily in-and-outs, but in a nutshell: we had about 2-3 waking hours together each working day - and usually the beginning of his day was the middle of my day, which was also hard to get used to.  The schedule was further complicated by him being "asked" to work on weekends with only a day or two's notice.  AND, from about a week before Christmas up to only a couple weeks ago, his schedule changed on almost a weekly basis, and he was working 6-7 days a week, anywhere from 8 to 12+ hour shifts.  Vacation days were basically prohibited and sick days were frowned upon.


I know there are people who work/live with similar (or worse) schedules and have for years.  Some prefer it, but others don't have a choice, and my heart goes out to them.  I don't mean to be dramatic or throw a pity party, but suffice it to say, the "work schedule thing" didn't make the "getting used to marriage thing" any easier.  That said, I can't say enough how much I appreciate Bryant's hard and consistent work in such a draining and not-uplifting position...and with so little complaining.  He recognized how hard it was on me, even if I wasn't the one spending 12 hours at work, and always made sure to put my needs first and make what little time we had together count.

We had been praying daily for a daytime position, period, and maybe with a good company and other perks...and that's exactly what we got!  The offer came on Bryant's birthday, no less!  He was as excited as I think I've ever seen him (remember - I didn't see him before our wedding ☺) to go to work the night he put in his two weeks - haha!  It's their loss, for sure, but he will be taking the skills he's gained while there to bigger and much better places...starting next week.  ☺

Our sincere thanks go out to many of you for your prayers, listening ears, flexibility, and support through the last few (and/or many) months.  God is good, and He absolutely works all thing out for the good of those who love Him and in His perfect time.

We have learned a lot through this first leg (or few steps) of our journey.  From now on, we will be forever thankful for quiet evenings together, same bedtimes, free weekends, and lunch breaks at noon instead of 11:00 p.m.  We will make the most of our time, using it to strengthen our marriage, build and grow other relationships, help others, and enjoy the blessings of each day.

This occasion definitely called for celebratory balloons!

Praising the Lord,

Favorites of the day:
my awesome husband
our bread machine
new hobbies
this awesome new phone case I received as a sweet, thoughtful gift:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Our Honeymoon

I keep promises, friends. So, belated as it is, here is a glimpse at our amazing honeymoon!   It was a welcome and necessary getaway after the craziness of pre-wedding/moving/marriage, and we were so thankful to have the opportunity to take such a lovely trip.

This post will be mostly pictures - haven't done one of those in a while.  I'll give commentary, periodically, but feel free to ask any questions I don't answer.  Thanks in advance for your patience with the pictures as they take their own sweet time to load. ☺

Bon voyage!

We spent our first night at the Rogers House Bed & Breakfast.
It was such a cute, quaint place to be - definitely worth checking out if you ever need a place to stay in Lincoln.

The next afternoon and evening were spent at the stunning Magnolia Hotel in Omaha.  We explored the premises a bit, and found their beautiful courtyard (as well as the "milk and cookies" happy hour!).
Room service = yum.
Complimentary honeymoon treat.  ☺
And we're off!

I don't know if I've ever explained Bryant's ring...?  That's my fingerprint engraved on there!  He picked it out himself. ☺
I've always loved Mad Libs - how perfect were there "Just Married" ones for our honeymoon trip?!
We had to document the plastic knives at the steakhouse restaurant in the airport.  Ha!

Goodbye, Texas...
...hello, Mexico!

We stayed at the all-inclusive Riu Hotel & Resort in Cancun.
The view from our balcony!
Every. Day.
Our first wildlife spotting!
Little tiny palm trees! ☺
The buffet was unbelievable.  So much food...such variety and quantity!  And such amazing presentation!
There were people from all over the world at our resort, so food was labeled in a variety of languages.  Apparently, "hot dog" is pretty universal.  Call me a creeper, but one of the most fascinating things, for me, was to watch other people eat.  It's so interesting to see what they chose to eat and how they ate it, depending on their home country!
In addition to the buffet, there were three different "sit down" restaurants.  We tried each one, but I didn't catch pictures of everything.  Here's our meal at the Japanese restaurant:
We like to think that symbol means "congratulations," or something...
Fried ice cream!  Surprisingly similar to the fried shrimp... ☺
And these pics are from the Steakhouse restaurant (real knives at this one...):

How fun to get all gussied up and just walk to dinner each night...along the beach, no less!

One morning, we got up super early to watch the sun rise.  We almost went back to bed when we realized it was raining outside...
We stuck it out, though, and are so glad we did!  (Thank goodness for bottomless coffee drinks, though...)  We basically had the place to ourselves for a few hours that morning.

One of our days was spent on Isle Mujures, an island off the coast of Cancun.
The boat we took over was affiliated with the "dolphin experience."  Though we didn't swim with dolphins, I'd say we still had the experience of a lifetime! ☺
They served us breakfast on the boat on the way there!
Totally worth the wind.
Seriously couldn't get over the water.
That's the boat we rode over on.  We took a bigger one on the way back.

Snorkeling!  Didn't take an underwater camera, but we saw some pretty cool things down there!
Does it get much better?
We took a long walk along the shore and were literally the only ones on that part of the island for an hour or so.  Such valuable time to just be together and take in beautiful scenery!
That's Cancun on the horizon.
We pretended we could pick out our hotel in the line-up.
Lots of wildlife sightings on this day!
He stopped to pose for this picture, and it doesn't do him justice - he was huge!
This was the floor throughout most of the little resort area that was our "home base" for the day.
We took some time to explore the island, do a little shopping (took advantage of the "honeymooners!" discount), and take in the sights, tastes, and sounds of a new place.
ALL the wristbands!
Got to enjoy a sunset from the water on the boat ride back - hooray!

The resort's entertainment staff was phenomenal.  Different activities and shows every night - and they were all so fun!
He almost won the tournament!
Karaoke!  I even got asked back the next night!
Hooray for endless food and any time of day or night!
Moonlit walk along the beach: check.
We were there on Halloween and Dia de los Muertos.  It was so fun and interesting to see the decorations and festivities!

So glad to have been there...
...but not so glad to leave!
Bryant got a kick out of this sign in the Dallas airport.
We made an extended honeymoon trip to the new IKEA store here in KC.  Found a new entertainment center to take home and assemble together!

So, there you have it!  Thanks for reminiscing with us - it was a great trip.

Hope this finds you well and as warm as possible.


Favorites of the day:
fresh-baked-anything smell (right now, brownies)
my sweet husband
the fact that my brother is ENGAGED!!!