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

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

So my weeks are about 10 days long…. January 25, 2011

Filed under: what I'm learning — marlise @ 11:17 pm

Yeah, the blog post a week thing is more like one every 10 days so far this year. I have to pick my battles, and this is one I’m losing.

It’s a kinda weird year so far, so long weeks are really just par for the course. I’d elaborate more, but it’s late at night, and I have a feeling that elaborating would turn to irrational ranting, and really, who wants to read that?

I’ll just leave you with two thoughts:

1.  I feel like my school’s being really stretched right now. Physical issues, deaths, families really struggling…..and the list goes on. It’s heartbreaking and hard to process. I even honestly get a little overwhelmed in praying about it. And getting overwhelmed doesn’t even make sense, because I pray to the God of the universe who knows all the details and can handle everything I can tell him and way more.

2.  I’m not sure what to make of this or what God’s trying to show me, but I’m less than a month into this year, and it’s already been a year marked with lots of unwanted attention. From males. I mean, I know there’s no such thing as a perfect man. I know every man will come with some amounts of baggage, but these men come with truckloads of it.  And they are persistent.  And I try to be graciously clear in letting them know I’m not interested.  Seriously, though, how do you tell a person you’re not interested, in fact, you’d prefer they didn’t call or text? Is there a way to do this without being very rude?   Really, I’m open to suggestions.


Change of plans July 20, 2010

Filed under: family,what I'm learning — marlise @ 11:24 pm

Do you ever have the kind of day where what actually happens doesn’t look a thing like your to-do list for the day?  Well, today was that kind of day for me, and I have to admit I kinda thought it was awesome.  Normally, I have morning piano lessons on Tuesday, but for this week, one student was out of town and the other planned to come in the afternoon.  So, I slept in a little bit.  I got up around 8:30 and worked out. I’ve gotten back into Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred.  So, working out means as little clothing as possible, lots of sweat, and lots of pain.  After working out, I sat in front of my window air conditioner in my shorts and sports bra while eating my breakfast.  My plan after that was to run some errands, do some laundry, and clean before an appointment at noon. I had just finished my last bite of breakfast when I heard a knock at the door.

One down-side of my new place is that my front door has no peephole.  It has a window, but the window is too high for anyone shorter than 6 feet to see anybody on the other side of the door.  So, I ran down the hallway to grab a t-shirt from my bedroom so I could be at least a tiny bit less indecent when I opened the door.  I opened the door just in time to see a Jehovah’s Witness pamphlet drop to the ground.  By then, it was too late to do anything but talk to the gentleman on my front step.  The pamphlet read, “Is God really there?” He explained that some people think that with all the catastrophes in the world, God has abandoned us.  I said, “I very strongly believe God is very much involved in our world today.” He seemed stunned by that response. The conversation that followed was very interesting.  The gentleman, Harry, told me of his conversion.  He was Jewish, and lived on a kibbutz in Israel in the early 70s. He had also been quite a gambler. Then, one night, someone gave him a KJV New Testament. He read in there that he needed to ask Jesus into his heart. He said he did so and God immediately removed his desire to gamble.  Then, three days later a Jehovah’s Witness approached him and he converted. I was intrigued by his story but also very saddened. He had come so close to the Truth, but he just kept going a bit too far.  We talked for quite a while about his belief that a literal hell does not exist. He also talked about His belief that while Jesus is God’s Son, he is not actually God. For everything he tried to say, Harry would quote little tidbits of Scripture. I would finish the verses he started, and sometimes the part I used to finish the verse contradicted what he was saying. After quite a lengthy, but friendly, discussion, he thanked me for my time and for challenging him, told me he had really enjoyed the discussion and offered me the pamphlet as he went to leave.  I politely declined and waved goodbye.

A few things struck me about this conversation. First, I felt a little inadequate and embarrassed at how little Scripture I could recall to direct him to real truth. Secondly, I was encouraged that he really enjoyed talking to me even though I openly disagreed with him on most of his points. In spite of my inadequacies, God could be working still through that conversation. That thought was incredibly encouraging and invigorating to me.

At this point, it was nearly 11, and I still looked a mess from my workout. I quickly hopped in the shower and got cleaned up and dressed to be decent for the noon appointment. The appointment was a window salesman.  This was a result of a card I filled out at the county fair last week. I had entered a drawing for new windows, and they were following up on every entry with a sales call. I agreed to let them come do a free estimate. I knew that I couldn’t afford to replace all the windows in my house right now, but I was curious to hear the estimate because I’d like to replace them eventually, and I needed to know at least a rough idea of how to plan.

The salesman showed up and did his whole demonstration.  He was very excited to find out that I was a Christian school teacher. In fact, I had to move my Bible over on the kitchen table so that he could set up his display, and that made him even more excited to see my Bible.  He told me his testimony, too. He had been an Army ranger and a rough person before his conversion. He stayed and talked of God and spiritual issues for 2 1/2 hours. He left incredibly disappointed that I didn’t agree to buy any windows right then and there.

Now, it was 2:30 and I had piano students coming at 4. So, I grabbed a quick lunch, did the load of laundry that I had planned for the morning and spent the rest of the time cleaning and fielding three unexpected phone calls. I taught the lessons and headed to meet with my Bible study group.  I’ve had the privilege of leading a study group of awesome ladies since last fall. God drew this group together and created some incredible friendships. We are still meeting during the summer to just keep up on each other’s lives, but it’s very casual and very little real studying right now. Tonight, I was thrilled to hear what God is doing in their lives.

I may or may not get to my grocery shopping tomorrow. There will be another window salesman here at 1 tomorrow afternoon.  Hopefully, this one won’t take quite as long.  For today, I’m just thrilled at how God dropped so many unplanned items onto my agenda. I know it might sound strange, but I was thrilled to know that God orchestrated all those things to happen on the same day. I was also humbled at how ill-prepared I felt. I’m praying that I can depend more fully on God and become better and better prepared to answer His unexpected appointments in my days.

P.S.  I also just found out that my youngest sister is expecting another baby. This will be her fourth under 4 years old. We couldn’t be more thrilled! I was just telling someone tonight, and it still sounds so strange….Nine years ago, I didn’t have any nieces or nephews at all. Today, my sister is expecting my 12th, and I am a great-aunt twice over.  How did that happen?!?  It’s crazy!!!


Changes in the works June 28, 2010

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!


I voted!! November 4, 2008

Filed under: what I'm learning — marlise @ 6:09 pm

voteYes, I did. I stopped by the polling place on my way to work this morning. The line for my district was (of course) the longest line at the polling place, but it still wasn’t terribly long. I even have a sticker to prove it. It’s not a very pretty sticker, but it does proudly state, “I voted.” And I am proud that I voted. I am very grateful for that right. Lots of people have sacrificed a great deal for me to have that right, and I hope I never take that for granted.

My mind has been racing with thoughts of the election. I’ve not been really sure how to process everything. I know where I stand, and I did all my research several weeks ago, so there wasn’t any confusion on who to vote for. My mind has been racing ahead to the impact the results of this election may or may not have on this country. Then, I came across a few poignant verses this morning. I’m in a ladies’ Bible study through my church. The current study is on Proverbs. We’re going through the study a chapter or a topic at a time, but I’ve been so intrigued by what Proverbs contains that I’ve been trying to read a few chapters a day. Today’s chapters were 19-21. That’s where I came across some very fitting passages for today’s election:

Proverbs 19:21″Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”

Proverbs 21:1 “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

I thought these were particularly fitting reminders for today. It’s a great comfort to know that God is in control no matter what the outcome. I also had another comforting realization this morning. It’s not nearly as spiritual in nature, but it’s still very comforting. I realized that after today, those horrible political ads will be put on hold (for at least a few months.) Those two realizations made my day.


Feeling the pain of my inability to turn down a challenge August 29, 2007

I’m feeling a little foolish this morning. I have a physical reminder of a very silly thing I did yesterday. Somehow, I feel like admitting it to my blogging friends will help a little bit….

So, it all started yesterday afternoon. I teach a piano lesson at my home after school on Tuesday, so I was glad that there was an assembly yesterday afternoon at school. An assembly meant my last class of the day was cancelled, so I had extra time to finish up my end-of-the-day work. That, in turn, meant a little less rushing to get home for the lesson. That would have been great if I had used my extra time a little more wisely. When I got home, though, I realized that I had about 15 minutes of “flex time.” So, I sat down in front of the TV to chill for a few minutes. I only get a few channels, so I landed on Oprah.

That is where my trouble started. Oprah had two doctors on as guests. The doctors were going through a lady’s home denouncing the evils of the American diet, so I was immediately intrigued. The next shot on-screen was the amazing transformation of the lady after she changed her diet and exercised. She really look amazing. She had lost 45 pounds, and she looked much younger (and I’m sure the fashion makeover and the professional lighting and makeup didn’t hurt.)

The doctor then began talking about the danger of belly fat. Belly fat, he said, is caused by stress, and forces your liver to process the fat. This is apparently very dangerous. Then, he started in with the statistics. He gave a magic number for the waist size for women. He said that if a ladies waist is any larger than this, she is in physical danger. I had to know right away whether I was in danger or not, so I grabbed my tape measure. I discovered that my waistline is in the “safe zone.” [Whew!]

Next, he started talking about physical fitness and exercise. He said that the average 30-year-old woman should be able to do 45 bent-knee push-ups. By now, I’m sure that anyone who knows me has figured out where this story is going. I simply had to find out whether or not I could do 45 push-ups. So, five minutes before my piano student was scheduled to arrive, I was down on the floor trying it out. Now, I was really proud of myself when I was, in fact, able to do 45 bent-knee push-ups.

Then, I got up and realized how stupid that move really was. You see, I had already agreed to help my friend move last night. The move went pretty well, but it involved more lifting….Let’s just say that conducting the afternoon music groups will probably be a little painful today. The fact that I can pat myself on the back for being in the safety zone does take the sting out a little bit. I suppose that’s what makes it so hard for me to turn down those challenges, but every time I’ve had to pick something up today, I’ve felt the need to curse that character flaw of mine.


Thankful Thursday #6 May 17, 2007

Filed under: Thankful Thursday,what I'm learning — marlise @ 8:05 pm

This week’s thankful list is centered on things I have (until recently) taken for granted.

1. I’m thankful for alarm clocks. For an explanation of why I am so thankful, please see my previous post.

2. I’m thankful for electricity. After a storm knocked out the power for six hours on Tuesday evening, I have a new-found appreciation. It takes a loss of electricity every now and then to remind me of how many things I use it for every day.

3. I’m thankful for the repair men who had the power up and running again in a matter of hours as opposed to days or weeks.

4. I’m thankful for candles. As a teacher, I get more candles in a given year than I could possibly use in a normal decade. I always have appreciated them for ambiance, but I sometimes tire of them. On Tuesday, though, I depended upon them to get through the evening.

5. I’m thankful that my car is a little one. This morning on the way to work, I had to pass a spot in the road where a semi had decided to park with it’s nose sticking 3/4 of the way across the street. Thankfully, there was just enough room for my tiny little car to squeeze between the truck and the mailbox on the opposite side of the street.

6. I’m thankful that my tiny little car gets great gas mileage. (No explanation necessary on this one.)

7. I’m thankful for the Thursday reminder to count my blessings. Swing by Iris’s place at Sting My Heart to read more lists of gratitude. It’s always a blessing for me.


Hanging in there…. May 16, 2007

Filed under: family,my life as a music teacher,what I'm learning — marlise @ 7:39 pm

This has been a weird week so far, but I think I’m managing to hang in there. My quick update:

Sunday was pretty normal. The morning church service was great. Then, our morning Bible study was very challenging. Our group is doing a unit on the church and challenging why we “do church” the way we do. Sunday’s discussion was about diversity in the church. Well, first I had to exercise all the self control I had to keep from laughing out loud. Diversity itself isn’t funny, but I am a fan of The Office, and all I could think about when the leader announced our topic for the day was an episode from the first season when Michael held his own very misguided Diversity seminar. Needless to say, this Sunday’s discussion was much more focused and appropriate. It was also much more challenging. Where do we draw the line between accepting others as they are and standing firm in our own convictions? We certainly didn’t draw any hard conclusions, but it was a good reminder of my need to rely on the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

I knew Monday was going to be rough from the moment I woke up. Of course that moment was 10:24! I couldn’t believe I slept that long. I had felt a little off on Sunday evening, and I had been up a few times during the night. I’m still not sure if it’s just my allergies or something else, and I didn’t ever feel all that bad. My body must have gone into self-protect mode, though. I didn’t hear either of my alarms, and I had set two. I didn’t hear my housemate get up and leave. I only panicked when I finally did wake up. I was really wondering why the school never called me, but apparently they tried and I didn’t even hear that. The rest of the day went pretty well. The faculty and office staff teased me an awful lot, but I think it was well deserved.

Tuesday’s big event was a storm. The day was normal enough. The weather at the beginning of the day was beautiful. That worked out well because that meant both of my first grade classes were able to go on their field trip, giving me loads of extra prep time. After school, though, the weather got dreary pretty quickly. We kept our eye on the news of the impending big storm. I’ve been on the east coast for a while, and I’m having a little trouble adjusting from hurricane news back to tornado alley news. Anyway, we normally have a ladies Bible study meeting at my house on Tuesday night. The lady who leads it called me around 5. She had heard predictions of large hail and vicious winds, so we decided it might be wisest to cancel. I should add that this Bible study has been cancelled almost as many times as we have met, and I’m a little bummed about that because I’ve really been looking forward to this study.

In this case, though, it was a good thing we cancelled. At around 5:45 our power went out. It stayed out for around six hours. It reminded me of how thankful I should be for electricity. I take it for granted until I have to spend six hours in the dark. Life is boring when I can’t read, watch TV, listen to music, or clean. I did go back to school for a little while. The power there was on, so I was able to get some more schoolwork done. (Tuesday was a very productive day for me for school stuff.) Then, when the power still hadn’t come back on at 9:30, I called my parents who very graciously agreed to let me stay at their house for the night. I could have slept in the house without electricity, but especially after Monday’s incident, I wanted to make sure I could get up on time.

Wednesday was considerably better. My mom woke me up since I didn’t have an alarm clock, and my dad had a pot of brewed coffee all ready when I was ready for breakfast. I told them they need to be careful or I’m going to consider moving back into their house.

Tonight I get to enjoy the meat that I started marinated last night but couldn’t cook without power. I’m also looking forward to an evening of being able to see, clean, cook, read, listen to music, watch TV, or any combination of the above. Then, I’m looking forward to setting my alarm and waking up to tomorrow’s adventures. Of course, I’ll have to spend this next little chunk of time resetting all the clocks, but I’m glad the power (at least for now) is back on so I can do that.