Friday, July 14, 2017

Life Changes

After teaching music in a Christian school for two years while my husband taught Spanish, Dan and I both decided that it was time for us to switch to something else.  Dan has known for years that he is called to preach, and my desire is to support him in that. 
So after months of praying faithfully about how to make the transition, we told our employer and pastor that we were looking for a church where Dan could pastor.  We turned in our resignations to the school and began searching for a church in need of a pastor.  After meeting the people at Calvary Baptist Church in Granville NY one time, I felt at home and loved.  It isn't all about good feelings, but there was a sense of peace that came over our lives.  We weren't worried about the future or where God would have us to serve. 
We put our house in Baltimore up for sale (more pictures to follow about that!)  and within two days, we had an offer on it for the asking price! 
The church in New York asked for us to come back and for Dan to be considered an official candidate for the pastorate. 
We went back to New York one more time, Dan preached, and the church then voted to have us come there and for my husband to be their pastor. 
We proceeded (last week) to pack all of our belongings into a U-Haul truck and we made the drive up to Granville New York last Friday. 

We are so excited about this opportunity to serve in upstate New York!  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Parenting and Piano

People can say to me "How could you write a post about parenting when you are not a parent?" 
Easy...I was once a child and I had parents. 
I have been thinking hard about the subject of music (not just piano) and parenting for a long time now.  I have been teaching piano and violin (as well as some other instruments) for five years consistently and I have much to say on the subject of children taking lessons on a musical instrument.
I have only been teaching for five years and I have students who do not practice.  Sometimes, this trend of not practicing turns into a downward spiral.  Inevitably, one of the parents will come to me and our conversation goes something like this:
Parent: "Well, _______________(child's name) has just really lost interest in piano lately.  But he REALLY wants to start taking cello/clarinet/trumpet/flute/drum/voice lessons!  So we're considering buying him a drum for Christmas.  What do you think about that?" 
Me: "Hmm, well _________________(child's name) has only been playing piano now for three months..."

What I really want to say is "It doesn't matter if they don't like practicing, you need to teach them some discipline before deciding to switch to a different instrument.  The change in instrument is unlikely to change their practicing habits."
Sadly, only one of these parents has listened to my advice when I told them that switching to a different instrument was NOT the solution to the problem. 
There are two different types of families out there. 
The type of family who has their childen "play around" on a lot of different instruments but they never truly become proficient in any,
And the family who trains their children to be proficient in everything they do. 
I do NOT believe that children must be perfect at everything they do, but I believe that they must be TRAINED to do their BEST at everything they do, and not just for 3 or 4 months.    
If my mother had left the choice of switching from piano lessons to any instrument I wanted at age 10, I am convinced that I would not be proficient in any instrument today.  The majority of children are not mature enough to know when they should quit an instrument. 

Had I been given the opportunity to gripe and whine about how hard piano was and how it wasn't fun anymore at age 10, I would have.  At age 8 and 9, I did not enjoy the piano.  The excitement of being allowed to be play and take lessons had long since worn off and it was drudgery to play the same songs my four older sisters had already played.  By the time I played them, nobody seemed impressed, but rather, they seemed annoyed to hear the "Indian Song" played again and again (from Alfred's method book 1a). 
But my mother did not ONLY teach once a week, she also personally told each of us to go practice every day.  She also listened to us from her desk in the other room and would correct us if need be. 

Most of the parents I deal with in my piano teaching say to me "Well, I told ____________ that they need to practice...." as if their job ended at the reminder. 
My mother did not simply say "Make sure you practice this week!", she said "Go practice the piano now", and then listened to or monitored our practice time. 

In conclusion, while I know that parenting is a very difficult thing, if a parent wishes for their child to learn discipline and consistency in life, a wonderful way to teach this is by having them learn a instrument.  No, not every child will wish to be a concert pianist someday as a result of these lessons, but with time, and without quitting when it "isn't fun anymore", each student WILL be a better person because of the lessons. 


Monday, February 13, 2017

Catch up time

It seems like not long ago, I was posting and claiming that I'd be posting more often.  Time has flown by and now I am in the middle of many large projects. 
My husband works with the Spanish ministry at our church and he has been planning to start free English classes for Spanish-speaking people this month.  I will be helping him with that, so we have been planning and preparing for that, and passing out flyers advertising the class. 
In the school where I teach, I am helping to co-ordinate the Fine Arts program.  And the planning and training involved in that consumes much of my times as well. 
In my personal life, I am on the last leg to completing my masters degree in music.  I completed my last online class two weeks ago and began working very hard on my thesis project.  Perhaps when it is finished, I will post it here.  Lord willing, I will be graduating in May.  I certainly hope that this is the case at least, since I already bought plane tickets for us to fly to California then.

This winter has been a somewhat hectic one.  Christmas seemed to creep up on Dan and I.  We actually celebrated our Christmas several days after Christmas.  And we left our Christmas decorations up through January.  I just finished packing them all away on Saturday.   

It's so hard to believe that winter is nearing its close and we have not had a single snow (that actually stuck to the ground for more than 3 minutes).  I'm seriously hoping that before February is over, we get some good snow. 

My ipad is ancient now and no longer takes decent pictures most of the time, and my point-and-shoot camera gave up the ghost, so that is why there are no pictures here. 
I will begin taking more pictures soon though. 
I hope this post finds everyone doing well.  I simply must get back to working on my thesis project, but I wanted to quickly post and say that I am still alive and well, just busy. 
Until later!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Summer Vacation Road Trip



This summer, I drove out to California in order to complete my final summer of masters classes.  I completed the drive in record time, driving from Baltimore, MD to Lancaster, CA starting on Sunday morning at 5AM and arriving on Monday evening at 11:30PM.  It was some intense driving. 
After one week, Dan flew out to join me.  We celebrated his birthday on Catalina Island, off the coast of California.  Neither of us had ever been, so it was an adventure. 
We rode a ferry boat to the island, rented a tandem bicycle, and proceeded to bicycle the whole city part of the island, which is not very big.
The sky was very cloudy at first, but it got sunny after just a bit, and we both got sunburnt badly. 

It's hard to see, but in this picture, I am pointing to HUGE goldfish- looking fish in the ocean.  

We visited the Wrigley botanical garden, which was nice, but very dusty.  

The highlight of our day was going parasailing.  It was a first for both of us!  I was pretty scared at first, but I began to enjoy it just when we were ready to be pulled back in! :)  I would definitely do it again. 

Our boat driver took this picture of us as we were in the air.  

The last two weeks of school went by very quickly, and soon it was time for us to head home.  We had already planned to make a big trip out of our roadrip home.  Since this could possibly be the last time we do a cross country roadtrip, and it was our first one together. 
Our first stop was Yosemite National Park.  I took so many pictures, there was no way they would all be posted, so I picked out the best ones. 
This is looking out over the park (it took us about an hour to get to this lookout spot because of how steep the mountain was).  If you look closely at this picture, you can spot three different waterfalls.   

Here we are, with the waterfall behind us.

We decided that we wanted to save money and not stay at hotels or go out to eat on this trip.  So we went grocery shopping and kept a cooler packed with ice at all times.  We also became very familiar with, a wonderful website that shares free camping spots. 
Heading out of Yosemite, we absolutely could not find a free camping spot however.  These free sites are not available INSIDE the parks, so we had to splurge and pay a few dollars to set up camp in an actual campground.      

The next morning, we left bright and early and were able to get a few good photos of these grazing deer/antelope.  I think they are deer, Dan thought they were antelope. 

Outside of Yosemite, we saw some beautiful spots along the way!  This is Lake Tenaya.

A bit further on that road, we came to Mono Lake.  We stopped there and I got this photo of Dan, who was photographing a pelican, or some bird similar.  I enjoyed the view of this lake, but the stagnant water was enough to nearly make me gag.  It smelled horrendous.     

Our next stop was definitely the highlight for me.  I've been wanting to visit Bodie since I heard about it four years ago.  We only were able to stay for about two hours, but I'm just glad that I was able to go!  Bodie is the largest ghost town, and it is in such good condition!  When the land was donated to be a state park, the agreement was that the buildings would be kept up as best they could with absolutely no changes.  The upkeep had to be historically accurate as well.  I loved it! 

This is the school.

After leaving Bodie, we drove straight without stopping to see sights until we were in Nevada and it was dark.  We found a free campsite, and drove WAY off the highway.  We saw coyotes and jackrabbits and I was quite worried that we wouldn't survive the night, but we woke up the next morning to this! 

I have to admit, it was quite the experience to sleep out under the stars with no amenities at all.  This was one of the few spots that had a toilet. 
We continued driving, and went to Idaho to visit Dan's family there.  We tented with them at a campground for two nights and then said our goodbyes.  We drove to Wyoming to Grand Teton National Park.  This picture is of the three peaks.  We drove through the park, looking for buffalo and bears and moose, but did not see any that evening.  We attended church that Wednesday evening at the nicest, friendliest church!  The pastor and his wife took us out to eat at a nice restaurant. 
We found our free campsite, which could not have been more perfect location. 
  Apparently, the park was having problems with bears, so I was again, worried that we wouldn't live to see daylight.  But we did, and we awoke to a BEAUTIFUL view. 

That morning, we began the drive out of the Grand Teton National Park and saw this herd of Antelope.  We were able to catch a picture before they completely ran off. 

Next, we saw this moose down in the river, eating. 

We saw one buffalo, but it ambled away before we got a good picture.  You should have seen us.  We looked like such tourists, driving 10 miles per hour in order to hopefully see animals.  One of us would drive and look straight, while the other would scan both sides of the road, looking for animals. 
We continued out of Grand Teton and soon came to Yellowstone National Park.  We did not have much time to spend there, so we made it a point to see Old Faithful, and we sat, waiting for it to explode. 
This is Old Faithful, as she was exploding. 

We drove out of Yellowstone and realized that we were on a crunch for time and that we needed move.  We drove until we saw a field full of buffalo.  We stopped, took a photo and then kept going. 

That night, we made it to Mount Rushmore right before dusk.  We found a free campsite RIGHT behind the faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln.  That was my favorite campsite of them all.  We set up our camp and settled in for the night. 

The next morning, we woke up bright and early and headed to the Crazy Horse Monument, which is still not completed yet.  It was wonderful!  I remember loving Crazy Horse as a child when I read about him in history books.  So it was great to visit the museum there and see what they have finished of the monument. 

When it is completed, the Crazy Horse monument will be the largest of its kind in the world!  And compared to Mt. Rushmore, the head of Crazy Horse is 27 feet taller than the heads on Mt. Rushmore, so it is HUGE. 

After being a Crazy Horse, we drove over to Mount Rushmore, where we decided we would be cheap and not pay to park our car and walk closer.  We decided to just take pictures from a side road. 

After Mount Rushmore, we drove straight for hours without stopping except for gas.  We made it to Niagara Falls in New York because Dan drove straight through the night. 
It was Sunday morning, and we walked out to Niagara Falls and were planning to wait around and get on the first Maid of The Mist boat ride, but while we were waiting in line for a ticket (along with about 100 other people), it started to rain pretty hard.  We decided that we'd use that money for something else and just enjoy the falls from up top. 

We went to church that morning and then continued driving, up to Maine, where I was going to meet the rest of Dan's family.  We drove through most of the new England states and went to church at another nice Baptist church in New York that evening.  We found a fun, exciting place to stay that night.  It DID cost us $25 for a cabin, but that was a wonderful price compared to some of the tent sites we saw! 
We loved the place. It was very rustic. 
We had a wonderful time in Maine with Dan's family.  On our way back down to Baltimore, We stopped to see this lighthouse. 
We had quite the adventure as we were driving cross country.  We loved it, it was one of the most fun vacations I've ever been on.  I certainly hope that we will be able to do it again someday!



Friday, November 18, 2016


Well, I've been neglecting my blog.  The biggest news is that I am now married!  It's so hard to believe. 
Since I hadn't posted on here before the wedding, I'll try to catch you all up in a few posts. 

So many things have happened.  First of all, on April 30th, I married Daniel, my amazing husband.  I loved every moment of planning the wedding, making decorations and even paying for things for it.  But nothing could beat actually BEING in my wedding.  It was the magical day I've always dreamed of.  The only part I would re-do was when Dan "accidently" pushed the piece of cake into my nose at our reception.

Our amazing photographer captured some truly wonderful shots and we've loved looking through them.  I'll include some of them in this post. 
My wonderful sister and brother in law paid for a limousine to take us from our wedding to the reception, which was held at Shady Maple Smorgasbord.  It was a wonderful wedding gift and we love some of the pictures that came from it!

Some of these may be out of order and such, but at least my blog viewers can see part of this wonderful day of my life!

I remember always thinking that when I got married, I would have the traditional rice thrown as we would leave the reception.  However, the place where I wanted to have our reception does not allow rice-throwing due to the massive amount of cleanup.  Bubbles were my last choice, but they were the one that was accepted at the reception.  I'm glad now, because I love how the pictures turned out.  Plus, I didn't spend the rest of the day picking rice out of my ears and vacuuming rice up off of our truck seats. 

After the ceremony, the limousine driver took us to Poole Forge park, where we had our "after-wedding" photos taken.  It is a small, but beautiful place with historic buildings and a covered bridge. 


I was so happy that my whole family was able to come to my wedding, and be a part of it as well.  My dad was able to perform the ceremony, my sisters were all bridesmaids, my brother was a groomsman, and my niece was a flower girl.   
Dan mentioned to me that he's always wanted to sing as a couple at his wedding, so we made it work!  He picked out the song, and we learned it by singing it three times a day each day.  As it was, I kept forgetting the words to my verse!  I'm just glad that I got it right on our wedding day. 

Since we were having a morning wedding, we took group pictures before the wedding at 9AM.  It turned out to be a beautiful, cloudy day (apparently, a perfect day for taking pictures). 


We also took "first look" photos. 

Like I've said previously, this post is WAY late (nearly 7 months late), so after this post, I'll do my best to slowly catch up on my life currently. 
Until I post again, enjoy the wedding photos! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New kitchen ceiling

When Dan and I bought our house, The kitchen ceiling was in the worst shape. The floor was covered with chipped paint and lath and plaster from the ceilings and walls. It was quite a task to undertake redoing all of the walls and the ceiling, but we got it done in one day surprisingly! Dan is really great at that!

 I helped a little bit with the drywall mud. I never knew that drywall could be so heavy! I helped Dan put it up and he put it in place. It was pretty heavy. I have just a few blurry pictures to show, but it was a relieving day when we were able to finish it all. Short post, but there are more exciting things to talk about in the coming posts!