“…a little bit of this, a little bit of that”

the ramblings and musings of an elementary music teacher and aunt extraordinaire

Ant update June 28, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 2:39 pm

I almost forgot to update….

My kitchen seems to be completely ant-free!  The vinegar seems to have done the trick.  I also found another tip online that suggested borax.  I’ve been using it for laundry for a while, so I had plenty on hand.  Since they seemed to be coming in by the baseboard, the tip suggested putting some of the borax in a turkey baster and using that to get the powder into the cracks.  It seems to have worked!


Changes in the works

Filed under: my life as a music teacher,what I'm learning — marlise @ 2:34 pm

This summer has been a great one for my private piano studio.  I have gotten a few unexpected calls from people wanting to start themselves and/or their children.  The timing couldn’t be much better. It makes great motivation for getting my house in order. The extra income that comes with these lessons is an added bonus. At the same time, these new students are bringing new challenges.  A few of my new students are adults, and two of the others have special needs.  I enjoy all of my students, but I have not had a good retention rate for either of these categories.  I believe the cause for this is that these particular categories of students don’t learn nearly as fast as they would like.

This brings me to my first change.  Almost five years ago, I heard from a music teacher friend of mine that she had started teaching a new method and loved it.  It’s called Simply Music.  I researched it, and have come to the conclusion that it offers an opportunity to fill in the gaps in my teaching.  It seems to address the areas of music that my teaching has been weakest. At the same time, I believe it adequately covers the areas where my previous method was strong. I’m excited to learn this method and see where it goes!

The second change is something that I have done on and off for a while–taking care of my health.  I do well with eating and exercise for a while, but my persistence has been less than stellar.  I recently joined Weight Watchers online program.  I only started a little over a week ago, but I’m loving it so far.  The point system seems like a great fit for me.  It’s concrete and flexible at the same time. I re-started my exercise program at the same time.  This has yet to become a real habit, but I’m making progress. The best news of all is that I’ve lost 2.5 lbs. so far.  One major mistake I think I’ve made in the past is balancing my tracking methods. I would either weigh/measure too often or not enough.  With the WW program, I’m measuring once a week and completely avoiding measurements between weigh-ins. Another way I’m hoping this program will be good for me is that I’ve paid for the first three months.  I’m hoping this will make me less likely to back out. We’ll see how it goes!


The ants go marching….. June 23, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 7:59 am

…behind my refrigerator….and it’s disgusting.  So, I googled a solution.  Apparently, vinegar makes a good natural insecticide.

The down side?  Now, my house smells like a giant salad.  Also, I’m not entirely sure what to do with the ant carcasses. Is is safe to vacuum the dead ants, or will that cause them to build a new colony inside the vacuum?  Any tips are welcome.


Learning is hard June 21, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 9:47 am

This story actually happened several weeks ago, but I was reminded this morning, and it’s still struck me as a little funny…..

I have a “regular” seat at my church.  I think most church people do, but I actually have a regular seat for a regular purpose.  I sit with my mom and my brother and sis-in-law’s kids.  My dad is always ushering and doing deaconly activities during the Sunday morning service, so he usually joins us later.  My brother and sister-in-law often serve in the sound booth or on the praise team, so my mom and I keep each other company and keep and eye on my nieces and nephew.  They generally do OK, as long as I come equipped with pens or pencils for them to draw or write….and as long as Mom and I strategically place them in the seating arrangement that causing the least argument.

Anyway, our pastor was preaching from a series in Ephesians. This particular week was the beginning of chapter 6–“Honor your father and mother.”  This also happened to be the week that my 4-year-old niece did her best to take notes.  I usually take notes on the the provided page in the bulletin.  My niece had her copy of the bulletin and was attempting the same thing.  She finally got frustrated with asking me how to spell every word, so she handed me her page.  The following conversation went something like this:

Niece: You write that (pointing to my notes) here (pointing to her page.)

[Right about the time that she asked me to start, the pastor was talking about obedience.  So, I wrote, “Obey.”]

Niece: What does that word say?

Me: Obey

Niece: [grabbing the paper back] You didn’t have to write that! [through gritted teeth]

Me:  But that’s what he said.

Niece:  I said, you didn’t have to write that! [emphatically scribbling out the word]

Me:  But God wants us to obey .

Niece:  I know, but you still didn’t have to write it.

I did my best to explain that God does want everyone to obey their parents, and my pastor had gone on to emphasize the importance of obedience in other areas (like obeying your boss at work.)  So, I did my best to say that God also wants moms and dads, and grandparents, and aunts and uncles to obey–not just little girls.  After I said that, she softened.  A few minutes later, she even asked me how to spell “Obey” so that she could write it herself.

It struck me as kinda funny at the time. Still, I appreciate her childish honesty, and I believe I know exactly how she feels.  When the Lord uses His Word or His people to convict me of sin, I usually don’t want to hear it, either, but I am very thankful that he cares enough to do exactly that.


Update–Chapter2 June 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 1:04 pm

The time from the beginning of February to the end of the school year was filled with the busy-ness of the school routine.  The spring school routine is always a little extra-crazy, and during spring break, I travelled with the family to NY again for Grandpa’s internment.  It was another bittersweet time.  I just came across one of the last pictures I have of Grandpa, and I’m going to post it just because I love it.  I miss him.


The rest of the school year was  pretty uneventful.  I direct a sixth grade musical every year.  It tends to take over my life for a little while, and then a few months after it’s over I tend to forget lots of the details.  I really think it’s God’s way of keeping me from remembering all the stress, because if I really did remember it, I’d probably be tempted to run away from that process forever.  Then I’d be out of a job, and that would lead to many other problems.

Anyway, the summer brought some new twists.  In July, my roommate came home and told me she had bought a place.  It was crazy, because I didn’t even know she was looking.  She hadn’t told me because she didn’t expect to find anything that fast.  The problem for me was much bigger than being without a roommate.  We had been renting from her parents at a incredibly good price.  Without their daughter being there, my landlords were going to drastically raise the price.  So, I started weighing my options.

Option 1:  I could look for a new roommate, but I really felt like I was getting too old for that.  Most of the people who were looking for roommates were considerably younger than me, and I was in no way interested in feeling like a “dorm mom.”

Option 2-I could rent a place on my own.  I had/have lots of furniture, including a washer and dryer and a piano.  To find a place that was big enough to handle the furniture was going to be pricey.  Also, I have taught piano lessons out of my home for the past several years.  Finding a place where I could continue to do that without disturbing my neighbors was going to be even more expensive.

Option 3 caught me by surprise.  I was having lunch with my sister and brother-in-laws family after my nieces’ t-ball game.  I was discussing the options when my bro-in-law said, “Have you considering buying a home?”  I hadn’t thought it was possible for me until after that, and when I did the research, I realized that would be a good option for me.

So, I started the hunt.  Right after making the decision, I went on a long road trip to the NJ, NY, and OH to visit friends and family and to play piano in my cousin’s wedding.  So, I was gone for a couple of weeks.  When I came back, I had a week to get ready for school to start again.  During the first week of school, my landlords told me that they had a new renter for their place.  The kicker was the the renter wanted to move in about 8 days later.  Did I mention that this was the first week of school?  This was a whole new level of insanity for me.  I had to find storage for all my things and a place for myself.  I ended up moving back into mom and dad’s house.  I hadn’t lived there since my sophomore year of college.

The time at mom and dad’s went much better than I ever could have imagined.  I was able to keep my piano at my roommate’s new place.  I put most everything else in a storage unit, and the new renter at my old place used the washer and dryer for a little while.  Also, mom and dad let me teach my piano lessons at their place for a little while.

The house hunt stretched on much longer than anticipated, though.  I went through several failed offers before finally finding a place. I closed on it at the end of January.  Then, it needed some work before I could move in, so I didn’t actually move out of mom and dad’s place until the beginning of April.  By that time, we were all ready.  I’ve now spent the last few months trying to get settled. This has been another slow process, but school’s out now, so I’m been making much more progress during the last couple of weeks.

In more recent news, I got a new computer.  I’ve officially become a Mac user, and I couldn’t be happier!  I’m thrilled to be living in my new place, using my awesome new computer and slowly digging way out of the boxes. On top of that, I’ve gotten several new piano students, and that has been great. This is the end of the summary that brings you mostly up-to-date on my life (for anyone who happens to care.)


She’s alive!–Chapter 1 June 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 10:47 am

It’s been over a year since my last post. (And after typing that, I realize it sounds a little like the beginning of confessional–oh well.) Anyway, quite a lot has happened since then. I’d like to tell you all about it, but it will be very long, so I’ll attempt chapters.

A few weeks after the last post, my grandfather passed away. It was a hard time for us. He was 90, and he had spent the last few months of his life dealing with kidney failure, so we knew his end was near. However, it was difficult to see him go, because while he lived a good life and was a kind and generous man, we never had a clear confirmation of his relationship with Christ.  We did get quite a bit of encouragement at his funeral mass, though.  The local priest was on vacation, so they called in the priest from my grandfather’s former parish.  We all knew this to be the priest my grandfather liked.  The priest gave the most uplifting, Christ-centered Catholic mass I have ever heard.  He focused quite a bit on 1 Corinthians 15 and the discussion of resurrection from the dead.  He emphasized that  eternal life is only available because of Jesus Christ. I was very encouraged by the amount of truth he shared.  It’s the closest thing we have to confirmation of Grandpa’s salvation.

Now the funeral service offered plenty of entertainment on its own.  I road to NY with my parents, one sister and her husband road out the next day with my brother and his family.  They had very little time between driving to town and going to the funeral.  Everyone who came into the church for the service sat on the right side.  The only people who sat on the left side were the pallbearers.  We never did really understand why, but it made for lots of good jokes about all of us being friends of the groom.  My nieces and nephew were confused, though.  They couldn’t figure out why all the police sat on the other side.  The six pallbearers were my uncle, my brother, and 4 of my cousins.  Three of the four cousins wore their Marine uniforms. Those were the “police.”

The service also called for congregational prayer, which in a Catholic church means using the kneeling bench.  This was fascinating for my 3-year-old niece who leaned over the edge of the bench to investigate.  She proceeded to fall head first and hit every hard wooden surface on her path before hitting the hard wooden floor.  Thankfully, she wasn’t hurt, but the thuds got many of us laughing hard.  Of course, this all happened during the funeral, too, so we were trying very hard not to be heard of make a scene.

Then, they had the family go to the back of the sanctuary to form a receiving line as people exited.  Only, the people exiting didn’t really understand that it was supposed to be a receiving line, so they just lined up behind the family, and every just kinda stood in line. My siblings and a few cousins, began to leave in the other direction.  On the way, we saw the priest in a back room. He had taken off his long white robe and was preparing to leave.  My 5-year-old niece pointed at him and said, “Oh look, there’s the doctor! I like him.”  The rest of the weekend was a bittersweet time of sorting through Grandpa’s pictures and swapping stories of his life and our memories.  We also had lots on our mind about my older sister and her family.

As soon as I got news that my grandfather had passed, I made plans to head to NY state for the funeral.  That same evening, as I was packing for my trip, I got an urgent text message from my brother-in-law.  His father had collapsed and was unresponsive.  A little while later that evening, I got a phone call that he passed away.  My brother-in-law said it was a heart attack.  He had been a pastor at a small church in Michigan.  That evening, the church had a carry-in dinner.  He had stayed behind to finish closing up.  In the process, he had collapsed.  Another church member drove by and saw him a couple minutes later, but it was too late.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t all be in two places, and we all wanted to be there for my sister and her family.  We also knew she wanted to be at Grandpa’s services.  I don’t like leaving this post with such a seemingly sad ending, but it is getting to be a long first chapter.  That’s where I was about 18 months ago.  Don’t worry, though, things did get better.  I’ll share more about that in later chapters.


Now THIS is desparate

Filed under: Uncategorized — marlise @ 9:27 am