Summer is here!!!

My last day of school was June 6th and I am so glad that the school year is over. It was wonderful at moments but also one of my most stressful years. I contribute the added stress to co-directing a drama during the crunch time for my show choir combined with snow/cold days that left it impossible for me to make up practices for any of my groups. 

Instead of focusing on the not so pleasant moments I want to share one of my favorite moments from the end of the year. I teach a self contained special education class and many of the students are non verbal. One of the students has a wonderful vocabulary but struggles to verbalize in group settings. The last day of music I had left out one of the students favorite songs “Old John the Rabbit”. In the song there is a repeated two beat pattern and the words are “oh yes”. During one of the transitions, this student came up to me and clapped AND sang “oh yes” over and over until I said we could do the song. This is the first time the student has been able to request a song and it made me so proud! Not only did he request the song but he sang and played the drum with me and requested that the ending be “sad”. I wanted to shout off of the rooftops about his success! It is moments like these where students have success, no matter how small, that remind me why I became a teacher. 

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So this thing called summer is here. I have a pile of books that have been begging me to read them, a pile of unfinished craft projects, a pile of craft ideas…the options are endless! Also, the trio I play with (In All Honesty) is also recording a studio album this summer. If you haven’t checked out our music or liked us on facebook, twitter, instagram, etc. you should. Shameless plug :) Plus you can say you knew us before we were famous!

So what else has been going on? I went to Korea with my parents for a wedding, have been trying lots of delicious new recipes with friends, am getting ready to take a road trip with my niece to see the Grand Canyon and explore the West and South West, am practicing the piano again and remembering why I love it and music so much…I am excited for the endless possibilities that this summer holds :D

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Duck, duck… Goose!

My show brain has kicked in. This translates to me visualizing my shows when I am trying to go to sleep. That also means lots of coffee in the morning. It is a good thing my students make me laugh at rehearsals!

Tonight, during one of the songs, my high school guys kept forgetting to point with their upstage arm. I proceeded to walk around them touching their upstage shoulder. As I was doing this, one of them started saying “duck, duck, duck, duck, goose! Go!”

I almost lost it!

My excitement is building for my shows :-)


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Be careful what you say

In high school show choir practice I told my guys they needed to walk on stage during one of the songs with swag. One of the guys precedes to pull his pants down so they are sagging! Not the swag I was going for. I quickly backtracked and told them to be dapper. The same student proceeds to pretend like he is wearing a top hat and has a walking cane.

Lesson learned… Students sometimes go to extremes and are too literal.


This was left on my desk after three of my senior guys were practicing in my office. Not sure the reason but it did make me laugh :-)

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Squeaky Singing

Once a week I teach a self contained special education music class. There are up to six students in the class and most of them are non verbal. Today one of the students who has not sung before in class and usually responds with a squeal or laughter started singing during one of our songs! We were all very excited at this huge step for him! The funny part about his singing was he only did it in a high pitched voice almost a squeak when his aid squeezed his shoulders when he was supposed to sing and he didn’t sing when the aid didn’t squeeze his shoulders. I love these little victories!

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I was thankful to have last Monday off as it allowed me to feel like I could ease into the week a little easier. This Monday I woke up and said “okay Monday, let’s do this.” Fifteen minutes later I finally crawled out of bed and made coffee.

Looking back on today there were some not so nice moments… Requesting that five seconds graders lose part of their recess due to disrespectful behavior in music… Moments that made me laugh and shake my head… Junior high show choir, they can be very animated :-) … moments that make me proud. That last moment also make me very happy. I started a composer unit with sixth grade today and told them they were not expected to work outside of music class but that they could. During sixth grade homeroom, a student from the group I would least expect to work outside of music came down to get their notebook because they wanted to work on their project. I didn’t think much of it at the time since I was teaching a kindergarten class but I am really proud of their effort today!

What are some moments from your day?

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Sliding Sideways

Friday nights my small group meets in Rockford either to discuss the sermon from Sunday or for a night of fellowship. I was excited to see my small group as I had not seen most of them since the beginning of December. A light rain had started in the afternoon and while the school parking lot was slick, I was confident the roads would be okay since the temperature was in the upper thirties (a great wave from the subzero temperatures earlier in the week!). I got into Rockford okay but knew I was probably going to be staying in Rockford when I saw the condition of some of the residential roads. Have you ever tried parking in a inclined driveway that is covered in ice? Even if you think you are parked securely the van will start to slide unless it is just right :-) When I arrived I found out that group had been canceled due to the roads… turn around and go home or stay and hang out was the question. I figured since I had made it safely I might as well stay and suggested a game night. Another family that lives nearby made it over so we enjoyed a meal together and coffee and stated an evening of games.

We started by playing Seven Wonders which confused me a little but I stated to get the hang of it by the third game. I still lost every game but I enjoyed the game :-)

The next game was Ticket to Ride and it was easier to pick up. I challenged myself with two higher point paths and won! It was fun to try to plan a path and try to complete it before someone forced me to reroute.

The last game we played was Incan Gold and it was a great game to finish the evening with. It is a game of knowing when to stay and when to run away. There are obstacles and the group I played with has added sound affects for each one :-) I took a lot of chances and won two if not three times!

A late night of games is just what I needed after a long three day week back to work. I drove Mel home and that is when the night got a little more interesting…
The side roads were icy at six but at midnight they were an ice skating rink! I decided to take the short cut to Mel’s house but that was not the best choice we quickly found. I could tell I had very little traction so went as slow as possessible. Going down a curvy hill was scary but getting half way up a hill and realizing that you are not going to make it and feeling your vehicle start to slide backwards with no way to stop is a feeling I could have done without. I somehow got myself sideways on the road and eventually turned going the other way only to get stuck on the side of the road going back the way we came. Mel’s husband came to our rescue and decided the best course of action was to get turned around and drive up the hill using the snow add traction for two of the wheels. Lesson learned: snow beats ice when traction is concerned :-) prayer and some skillful driving from Mel’s husband and we were on a salted road! After that experience I was not eager to try to make it home and gladly accepted their offer to stay at their house. We ask got a good nights sleep and enjoyed brunch in the morning before I headed home.

Another lesson learned from the experience: even if the temperature is above freezing that does not guarantee that the roads will not freeze, especially when the water has no where to go.

Right now I am enjoying watching Michael and Naomi’s puppy Elsa!

What is your favorite game? Any crazy weather stories?

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Hello 2014

Two extra days off due to sub zero weather and I am finally back at school with my students. So much to do and so little time.

Random thoughts from my pre-school students…
Student #1: I got a unicorn for Christmas!
Student #2: Your hair is beautiful!
Student #3: My moms hair is up here (points to top of head)

Ones of the many random comments made at high school show choir practice tonight…
In response to my comment about the Kleenex boxes wrapped up in Christmas paper, one of the high school guy says “she’s gonna love the snot right out of our noses!”

That last one might not be funny out of context but I got a kick out of it :-)

Ready or not here comes the next three months of concerts, contest, and general normal craziness.

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The Third Wheel Hermit

I have been enjoying a change in pace this summer and while I have thought of several posts, I have obviously only mentally composed them ;-)

And the post title…I have realized that while being social, I am doing a really good job of being a third wheel when I decide not to be a hermit.

June involved a lot of traveling and time with family and friends and July has started with being more social in the Rockford area.

Here is a quick breakdown of June:

1st weekend – was in Michale & Naomi’s wedding. Had a great day celebrating with them! (FotoEnvy did a fabulous job on their pictures)

June 4th – Last day of school! Insert happy dance!

June 5th – And I am off to Rushville :)

2nd weekend – played for Kathleen & Eric’s wedding in Rushville. Enjoyed visiting with friends and dancing the night away!


2nd week – In St. Louis for a World Music Drumming Conference and enjoyed visiting with Kristy, Amber and Hallie. I love St. Louis and all the performances they have available! And don’t even get me started on the food options! Yum!

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3rd week – back home for a few days and then over to Crystal Lake to spend time with my brother Wayne and his family. My niece helped keep me active and I loved biking with her. When did she grow up?!?

4th week – back home for a few more days and then off to Iowa to visit my brother Brian and his family. Unfortunately, he was up in Canada for work. On the plus side, I did get a chance to visit with Mike, Jolynn, Lydia and their new addition Simon! I also had the opportunity to visit with Amanda and run a 5K with her that holds a very special place in both of our hearts.

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What was the first thing I did when I got back to Rockford? Go swing dancing of course with Naomi! 5K in the morning and a late night out dancing? Why not! It’s summer :-) While dancing, Naomi and I met a couple for Wisconsin that told us about free dance lessons on the riverfront in Beloit. One of my goals this summer is to explore the Rockford area more and get out so two hours of learning and dancing the Waltz sounded perfect for a Monday night! Fourth of July festivities included an interval run. At noon. On a hill. Not by best decision but it was fun! After that I enjoyed walking uptown to see the parade. My most exciting adventure on the fourth was biking downtown Rockford to watch the fireworks on the State Street bridge with my friends Mike and Andi. In total, we biked around eleven miles! I don’t think I have ever biked that much before but it was so much fun!

Yesterday I spent a wonderful afternoon practicing with Michael and Naomi and then they helped me ring in my birthday by going to a late showing of Monsters University. I think we are all getting a little too old late night movies because we were all dragging today at church. Although I did not want to wake up, it was nice to wake up with a phone call from my dad singing happy birthday.

Did you know Google changes their main page on your birthday?

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Oh, and I made myself a birthday cake :D

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For supper, I treated myself to a delicious meal at Social in downtown Rockford. I first heard about Social while looking at artwork at the Rockford Art Scene. The food was delicious! I normally inhale my food (bad habit of a teacher) but I savored every single bite! I started off with a Lavender Cocktail (Tito’s Vodka, lemon juice, lavender syrup, vanilla), and an appetizer special of fried Garlic Scapes. For my main meal I ordered the King Salmon (spinach, lemon, garlic, caper, plenta, mushroom). The Salmon melted in my mouth. Since it was my birthday, I decided to get dessert and am glad I did. I ordered the Mint-Rhubarb Sherbet (lemon, sage, almonds) and an espresso. Other than the delicious food, I enjoyed hearing about where the food came from and how it was made by the chefs. As a birthday treat, the chef sent out an edible flower with a delicious strawberry sauce and something else that I forgot.

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Mmmmmmm. So. Good!

Not a traditional birthday celebration but a delicious one.

This has been a very random post but I wanted catch you up on my crazy life.

Since it is my birthday today, I would like to send out a surprise to the first three people that comment. You can tell me about a birthday tradition, your favorite birthday memory, a random thought…Go!


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Thursday Thoughts

There are days that I love being a teacher and then there are days that make me want to curl up in a ball in the corner and hide. There are also those moments that you just have to shake your head and laugh because whatever just was said or done is funny or you are trying to keep from crying. 

As my second year of teaching is quickly coming to an end, I am realizing that I should have been writing down some of the things that have happened during my day. For right now, we will focus on today.

I saw my high school choir today and we are one week away from a three day trip and a little under two weeks away from our spring concert. Add to that that we are all feeling the spring bug and a third of my class is seniors makes for an interesting mix this time of year. Overall, my students were doing a nice job of focusing and following direction with minimal talking during transitions. While I was working with my ladies on their song, my guys decided they would join in. I don’t know what was the best part: the dance moves, the fact that the guys chose to sing in their falsetto voice, the fact that they were completely serious about what they were singing or a combination of all of the above. I somehow kept conducting and somehow we made it through the song. My favorite part of this is that my guys often are disengaged on their own part and I find a hard balance between encouraging them and correcting them. Too much correction and they stop singing. 

After lunch I saw my second section of 5th grade. Tuesday they had a case of “let’s ask Ms. Smith questions about herself” in the middle of the lesson. I told them that if they kept all five stars up in music on Thursday (today) I would answer five questions. They did not keep five stars up today but I did concede to two questions. After a quick huddle to decide on the two questions they were ready to go. The first one was my age and they were very clear that I could not lie. Being a teacher I had to make them work for it so I only told them the year I was born. A few quick thinkers asked what month and they quickly figured out my age. The second question I knew was coming because they had already tried to ask it Tuesday. It was: “have you ever or do you currently have a boyfriend.” My answer of “no” had them in an uproar. As fifth graders, they could not imagine that I had never had a boyfriend! Oh the horror! It was an interesting way to finish our music class but a fun twist. 

A proud moment today was seeing my 3rd graders perform with their recorders today as an introduction to their play “My Father’s Dragon”. They performed “Entrance of the Dragon Riders” and it was a perfect addition to their program. They did a great job and I am so happy that they got a chance to perform before the elementary students and their parents! You can find the music through MusicK8 .

On Thursday’s I teach the co-op special education students (PIP class). Most of the students stay in the classroom for the entire day but there are a few that that only go to the room for certain resources or when they need to get away from their main stream classroom. My fifth grade class that I talked about earlier has seen me getting ready for the PIP students at the end of their music class and several of them started asking who I was getting ready for and if they could help. AFter spring break I set it up with their grade level teacher so that a few of them could stay behind and help out. I love teaching the PIP students and seeing the lightbulb turn on for them with something we have done for weeks or see them connect or respond to music in a new way. Seeing my students interact with them and the joy that they get from that interaction has made me extremely proud of my students. The fifth grade student especially really want to help and want to know how to help the students. They don’t just sit close to the students, they are willing to take instruction, work with the student, talk with he student, etc. The last few times they have helped, one of their first questions when we are done is: “When can I come back?” I hope they never lose that joy of helping and I hope that working with the PIP students might light a fire for some of them to work with students with special needs as they grow older. 

A few last random thoughts.

I loved having one of my accompanists at school today for three of my choirs. It was nice to be able to walk around and actually conduct!

I saw on of my PIP students this morning and said good morning like I usually do but his eyes lit up when he saw me and I know that it was because he knew today was a music day. He might not be able to express his thoughts and feelings with words but the look on his face was pure joy!

I like coffee and try as I may, cutting back to chai or tea in the morning is not going to work anytime soon :)

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A New Beginning

There are a lot of blog posts out right now highlighting the year. There are also many people making lists of things they want to accomplish in 2013. I am a goal person but I have learned that resolutions at the new year do not last for me and many changes are made in August at the start of a school year instead of a calendar year. I have some ideas of where I want to be at the end of 2013 but I also want to enjoy life and sometimes goals can get in the way of that. My focus for 2012 was to enjoy every moment and not get caught up in documenting everything. I didn’t find a perfect balance but I did learn a lot and enjoyed the process. In 2013 I plan on focusing more on relationships that I have and ones that I want to improve. 

Below is a post I wrote around this time last year. I didn’t post it because I thought of it more like a journal entry, not that I have ever been consistent about keeping a journal. 2012 did not have as many changes as 2011 but there were still changes and opportunities for me to grow and learn. Reading back on what I wrote January 13th 2012, I realize not a lot has changed. I am ready for something to change. A few weeks ago I even considered getting a cat! For those of you that know me personally, this is crazy talk! I realized this last year that I need to learn how to be a better friend and learn how to grow relationships with those around me. I don’t have the answers but I am looking. I don’t know where this blog is going but like me, I foresee it going with the flow :)



I have always been an introverted person. My parents actually had to quick me out of the house on Friday nights when a local Christian coffee house opened in my hometown when I was in high school. I think they might have even talked with one of my friends to make sure I would get out. The more I went out to the coffee house, the easier it became. I definitely enjoyed myself when I was around my friends but I started doing better about making conversation with people I didn’t know as well.

When I moved out of my parents house, I was surrounded by family or college friends. I often went to recitals alone and was fine sitting by myself. It was okay because often I would see someone I knew and if not, I enjoyed the music. I also enjoyed being able to host get togethers. Hosting gave me a purpose, something to keep busy with. Conversations did not feel awkward because I was doing something while I talked.

Moving up to the northern suburbs with my brother and his family was a big step into a new environment for me and it helped having family support. I was busy teaching and spending time with my family. It was also one of the first times that I felt a strong connection to a small group. I have been apart of different Christian communities all of my life yet somehow I always would end up feeling like I was on the outskirts looking in. When I moved, I was apart of a small group that was introverted and in a way, we were comfortable with the awkward silences that would happen.

Now I am out on my own. Focused on doing the best job that I can. Living in a small town away from all of my friends and family. I find myself lonely on a Friday night and for the first time, I realize that I don’t like being alone. Sure, there are things I could be doing right now, but all I really want is another human being near by that I could talk to and share life with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t talk with anyone and that I have become secluded from society. Technology is great and is helping me keep in touch with my friends. Just today, I talked with a friend and we talked about our week. I miss having kitchen chats with my mom, roommates, sister-in-law…It was nice to go home and know that the day could be shared with someone and someone would share their day with me. Phone calls somehow, are just not the same.

Faced with a long weekend, end of the semester grades, all I want to do is drive and spend time with people that I know and care for. Realistically those people are under two hours away, on another hand I would love to visit people I have not seen in a long time that live over six hours away. Maybe all of these feelings are surfacing because of my broken up break due to a toothache. Time spent with friends was interrupted and instead was spent in a pain med sleep.

I love my job. I love my students. I love my new community.

I am just tired and longing for balance in my life. To gain balance, that involves traveling and traveling alone is not the best way to gain energy.

For now I am going to make donuts for my small group tomorrow morning, dust and clean my kitchen. I may not be able to spend time with people tonight but no way am I going to allow myself to just sit aorund. I have been doing that too much and I am sick of it!

Watch out kitchen, here I come!

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Do you have any goals or focus for 2013?

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