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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Summer Days

Summer started for me on Thursday May 31st. And I did have to look back at the date because my brain does not store that type of information. I thought I would be spending lots of time researching and preparing for next year and have lots of time to update my blog. Truth is, I do not accomplish as much when I do not have a set schedule. Not having to be up at a certain time has led to latter bed times and latter waking times. Not that I am complaining or anything ;)  

At the beginning of summer break I worked on getting my classrooms organized and ready to be cleaned and my boards ready for the school year. The first week I went to a few graduation parties and had a very relaxing trip back to my hometown. It was not a rushed trip which is very uncommon any more :) I spent the days with my parents and the evenings usually with a friend. I also had the experience of helping mow the campground my parents take care of. The riding mower has cruise control and a cup holder! Much nicer than anything I have ever mowed on :D

I have gotten some school prep. done but I am starting to feel the crunch of time even though it is only the beginning of July! Let’s ignore school for now…

The fun things of summer have included seeing two musicals in Rockford: Little Women and Into the Woods. I love watching live performances! I have gone to two Zumba classes and as uncoordinated as I sometimes feel, I really enjoy it :) I went to a water park with one of the school secretaries and her son and she somehow talked me onto several of the rides. It was fun but the lazy river wins over heart pounding slides. I also spent a day reading a book (that was not school related) just because I could. 

July is going to fly by a little faster for me. It boils down to prioritizing my lists and getting things done. I am enjoying extra family time and am eagerly anticipating attending the Iowa Choral Directors Association Conference at the end of July! I was originally going to attend with a friend and colleague but she and her husband will be adopting a baby girl that same week! I am very excited for them and have been searching for baby items for the last several weeks. I know they would appreciate your prayers!

And to close of this post, I thought I should introduce you all to my small town tradition of Outhouse Races during their Indipendence Weekend Festivities


What traditions does your town/city have?

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End Of Summer



Summer is drawing to a close. I cannot believe that school starts on Monday :( I am excited about my classes but I feel as thought I have just started relaxing. As far as classroom classes, I only have three but I know with performances, research, students, etc I will be kept very busy. I will be giving my senior piano recital early October which I am excited about but I am especially excited about starting to repertoire after my recital. I will also be in concert choir this Fall. It has been awhile since I have sung in a choir so I am looking forward to getting back into the routine of rehearsals. As a bonus, I had time for steel band! This is something I have wanted to do since I started college but have not had time to do until this semester.

Last week I invited some friends to come over to hang out and eat (Kristina, Tyler, Amanda, Lisa S. and Austin). I made salsa with an added ingredient of avocados, pizza and Tyler made fresh mint ice cream. The ice cream tasted like mint smells out in the garden. So good! I also made oreos ( which are so much better than buying them. We were going to watch a musical but we ended up talking and singing and just being random. Another night will be planned at some point in the future.



I am trying to get back into the routine of making food. I had several bananas that were getting very ripe so I decided to make banana nut muffins. I prefer these to bread because they are easier to pick up and take with me when I am running errands or late in the morning :) Instead of using oil I substituted apple sauce. These are nice in the morning or anytime of the day ;)


In addition to making my own food more, I have tried to go the local farmers market on Thursdays to buy fresh produce.


The corn I plan on using in a salsa and a soup recipe that my friend Amanda has posted on her blog (, The tomatoes and one of the green peppers are for regular salsa and the yellow squash is for a recipe that I seem to have misplaced. Not only did I get fresh produce but the special bowls that I ordered came in (plus one of my school books but that is not as exciting)! I used these for the first time tonight and I love them! So much easier to eat salsa from.


This was my lunch/afternoon snack while I finished reading a fantasy/fiction book that I picked up a couple weekends ago. Tonight I was in the mood to cook, especially since I had all of the fresh produce :) I decided to make a summer pasta salad that Amanda had posted about and it was good ( I was missing Garlic Gold but I improvised and mixed some olive oil with dried oregano and a little bit of minced garlic. I like the taste but I am eager to try it with Garlic Gold.




This has been a good last week of summer. I know summer is not over but summer without school is almost over. Tonight my new roommate for the fall moved in. I am excited to get to know her better as she is a choral music education major. We both will be student teaching up in the Chicago suburbs in the Spring so we are excited and nervous about being so close to getting jobs ^_^ I am tired so I think that means I should go to bed ;) Tomorrow I will be helping mom and dad paint a little more at the caretakers house out at the campground. Good night everyone!


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This summer has has flown by but maybe that is because it has been so full. The first part of my summer revolved around planning and preparing for my trip to Poland. My friend Shoko (in picture) attended a piano master course with a mutual friend of ours, Heidi. I heard about their experience and knew that it was something that that would very beneficial to my personal education and the education of those that I teach. I left for Poland on July 4th came back on July 15th. During my time in Poland I had five lessons, Four with Stefan Kutrzeba (in picture, white shirt) and one with Olga Lazarska. I also was able to participate in three group improvisation classes with Kasia Stankowska. Stefan’s teaching focuses more on the mental side of playing than on the physical. I had read some of his articles ( and had also read Heinrich Neuhuas book “The Art of Playing the Piano. The reading and talks I had with Shoko helped prepare me for the learning experience. It was an eye opening experience to not only see Stefan teach but to have several lessons with him. At some point my mind and fingers had become disconnected and I no longer was attentively listening to what I was playing. By simply listening I was able to achieve a larger sound, color, speed that I never thought possible before. My time in Poland recharged me and brought back an excitement for learning that had started to dwindle in the shadow or organized education. I would love to go back someday to learn more but for now I am eager to learn on my own and experiment with what my imagination and fingers can do with dots on the page that we call music!


(Music school where we had lessons and practiced)

In addition to practicing three hours a day, having lessons, listening to lessons there were also three performances that we were able to attend. One was at a pub and the group consisted of piano, double bass, violin, accordion and classical guitar. This music was a nice change from all the piano music that I had been hearing. Towards the end of the course, there was a small concert for the participants as well as a concerto concert open to the public.



(Concert hall for the final concert)

Outside of all the organized music there was time to explore the city. Rzeszow Poland is not a tourist destination and as such I had to learn how to communicate with the few Polish words and phrases I knew in addition to pointing and smiling. Shoko and I walked from the hostel to the music school and downtown Rzeszow every day. It was about a thirty minute walk one way but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It gave me a chance to see the city at a slower pace and it also gave Shoko and me more time to talk. People in Poland love their ice cream and I have yet to find anything like it back here in the states.



(ice cream from our favorite coffee shop)

Overall I loved the food! There was such a variety and combinations that I probably would have never tried here in the states (like warm milk with cereal instead of cold milk or a sandwich for breakfast). The only thing that I did not enjoy was a carrot dish that was served with our supper at the hostel several nights. 


(Typical Polish breakfast, minus the crepe, that was special on our last day)

The master course had a built in relaxation day. At first I was disappointed that I could not practice (which slightly surprised me) but after the day was over I was glad we had the day away from Rzeszow. They took all the participantes that wanted to on a bus and we started up into the mountains outside the city. On the way, we stopped at one of the oldest churches in Poland. 



After seeing inside we continued on our journey farther into the mountains to a big bridge (or damn).






It was so nice to be able to get out a walk and enjoy the water and sunshine. There were a lot of vendors at the damn and on one side there were rides and opportunities to go swimming or boating in the lake that was created by the damn. I was hopping that the damn would be turned on while we were there but I am not sure if they do that while people are walking across it ^_^ Since it was lunch time, it was a perfect opportunity for ice cream. Or in my case, a fresh waffle with fresh cream and strawberries and blueberries. This made me so happy!

DSC09012.JPG (Olga and Stefan walking across the damn)


(Teachers and students taking a break and enjoying a cool refreshing treat.)



(Enjoying my treat of a fresh waffle, fresh cream and blueberries and strawberries!)


There is so much more that I could talk about but you will just have to ask if you want to know more ^_~


Coming back was hard. I was ready to be back but I think the hardest transition was hearing so much English. In Rzeszow, there were a total of four participants whose main language was English. There were others that spoke English but I got used to hearing Polish. I miss it, hopefully the next time that I go, I will know more than a few survival words and phrases.


The only other thing that I have done this summer other than work, practice, teach and trying to relax is giving the Single Life talk on a Chrysalis Journey weekend. Being a satisfied single Christian adult has been something that I have been struggling with for the last few years. One of the best resources that I have come across (outside of reading the Bible and praying) is the Boundless podcast and articles online ( The podcast and articles have really helped me have a God centered and Biblical perspective on being single and how I can best serve God right now. With a lot of prayer the weekend went smoothly and I am so glad that I was able to be a part of it. I hope to post a variation of the talk I gave on a future post.


Sadly, my summer is coming quickly to an end. School starts on the 23rd and I know it will get crazy. More to come but for now these active fingers need some time to recharge.


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