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Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Both yesterday and today I have had awesome reminders of why I love what I do. I'm always excited about starting a new school year of teaching. (I operate and teach in my own piano studio...for the probably 2 or 3 of you who might come across this who don't know me!) New is exciting. I love seeing the kids I haven't seen since May or even just since summer lessons ended in July. I have always loved "back to school" time...the supplies, the new-ness, the supplies, the scheduling....oh, and the supplies! (I kind of have a thing for school supplies...or just office supplies in general!) But, it's also a stressful time. In my mom's words (she's also a piano teacher), I have to basically read the minds of 23 students and determine what they might want to play this year. I give my kids several choices, and they get to pick their favorites. I firmly believe they will practice more and enjoy piano more if they like what they are playing. Choosing 2-3 pieces (or more in some cases) takes a good 60-75% of the first lesson, so, that's almost all I've done with the majority of my students this week.
Now to the important stuff...
Why I love what I do...
Yesterday, I had a parent text me to let me know that her 3rd grade daughter was so excited about starting back piano lessons that she practiced for 45 minutes after her lesson, and in her words, was "still going strong!" (For those of you who have never had anything to do with piano lessons, that's a lot for a 3rd grader...typical is 20-30 minutes each day...at most!) The parent sent me another message later in the evening to let me know that she had practiced on and off most of the evening...probably totaling an hour and a half!
I have a very quiet middle school student. She transfered from another teacher to my studio last year. Most of the time, I get the idea that she doesn't want to be at lessons at all. She rarely smiles and hardly says anything the whole lesson. She occasionally likes one out of every 5-10 pieces I choose for her. Many times, we just have to settle on something that she sort of likes well enough to put up with for awhile. She took lessons over the summer, so she had a few things she had been playing. She played a piece for me that she had pretty much mastered over the summer. I told her I thought it was great and we didn't need to continue to work on it. She looked at me nervously, and guess what??? She asked if she could keep it and continue playing it for fun!!! Words and joy in making music!! So, our lesson was already off to a good start. Then, we started looking at music. She not only found 2-3 pieces she wanted to play, but she was happy about choosing them!
Students getting excited about making music....why I love what I do
And finally...this afternoon, I was sharing some new pieces with a 4th grade student. I set out a book of pop music and another book of praise and worship music for her. As I played through the pop songs, she sang along while I played. She frequently sings familiar songs in lessons, so I wasn't at all surprised by this. I started playing from the praise and worship book (which she had requested at our last summer lesson). She continued to sing along as I played, and I didn't really think anything of it...until we got to "Here I Am to Worship." Here I was, in a piano lesson with a 4th grader, playing a simplified worship song while she sang along...and, I started tearing up...like, I had to work hard to hold back the tears. I just thought, what a beautiful expression of worship by a little girl in the middle of a piano lesson. How precious it was to hear her little voice singing, "Here I am to worship, here I am to bow down, here I am to say that you're my God..." Nothing sweeter....
Students worshiping through His gift of music...why I love what I do
I get overwhelmed with all involved in running a studio as well as actually being responsible for teaching in that studio. I get frustrated with kids when they don't practice, when they don't remember things from week to week. I get nervous about choosing new music for students..."will they like it enough to practice it???" It's nice, especially at the start of a new year, to have these little reminders of why I love what I do.
at 10:46 PM
Monday, July 2, 2012
We had a wonderful weekend visiting family and decided very last minute to let Noah spend a little extra time with grandparents and great-grandparents. My mom asked if they could keep Noah and bring him back on Wednesday. He's stayed away from home without us once before when I attended a women's retreat, and he did great, so I had no problems leaving him for a few days. I knew I would be sad without him but also knew it would be a good chance to get a few extra things done around the house. Plus, he will have a blast because he loves playing both at Grammy & Bop's (or Pop...we can't decide which he is saying!) and Grandma & Da's, and my family will all enjoy the extra time with him! I checked in yesterday, and he had eaten pancakes, gone to church, played outside, napped, played with his great-aunt, and devoured Da's "homemade" popcorn.
Things were a bit different here for us. We went to church as usual, but I didn't have to rush around to get myself and a toddler ready for church. After church we had lunch out, which is rare because we are usually rushing home to quickly eat lunch and get Noah in bed for a nap. Then, I took an hour and a half nap (also not typical!). Brian woke me up to get ready, and we headed to the movies to watch The Avengers. (I know...we are a little behind.) The movie was fantastic! We splurged and bought popcorn and I wasn't very hungry for dinner out after the movie, so we just went home. Our evening was very uneventful. I think I took off my nail polish, watched some Olympic trials, and started laundry while Brian finished some work, and that was about it. It was a lovely day.
...it's too quiet here.
It is crazy how quickly your life changes after becoming a parent. It has been over 20 months (which really isn't that long...) since my house has been this quiet during the day, and it just feels so odd. It's not normal. It's funny how fast your "normal" can change. I'm sort of lost. Like, I have not been able to keep track of what time it is. I haven't had a toddler to put in bed for naps and "night-night" at particular times. I'm sure it will be a little different when I have some lessons to teach tomorrow.
My day today has been a blur and hasn't quite been as productive as anticipated. I slept in some (until 7), did a few things around the house, and sat down to do a little Bible study around 8:30 this morning. I decided after I had some breakfast that I was going to write a new blog post and change some things on my blog. Well...that led to accidentally deleting my blog background/design which apparently no longer exists because I couldn't find it anywhere! So, I looked and looked for something new. I'm indecisive and had a lot of trouble picking something and ended up very frustrated because I spent time making a new header and it didn't work like I wanted it to. I also had some weird problem with a background that I had tried out and removed...it kept coming back on it's own. And then there's the whole "new interface" on blogger. I was ready to do something drastic like move to Wordpress and create a whole new blog or completely give up. Then, somehow, I solved my weird problem and quickly uploaded a new template I found that I just kind of liked. I'm still don't know that I'm crazy about it so it will probably all change again soon. Plus it's all "pre-made" which is nice but I can only edit certain things. I kind of like to have more control than that. And, I'm OCD so I had to go back and change something on every single one of my posts. It's almost 4:00. I have managed to do a little laundry, drink coffee, eat two meals, change out of pjs, talk to my sister, and have a quiet time (not necessarily in that order!). And, I'm finally writing the blog post that was supposed to be done around 10:00 or 11:00 this morning.
I think I'm slightly more productive when I have a toddler around, and it's not so quiet!
at 4:02 PM
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Wow. I didn't realize it had been so long since I had written something. March to June (almost July!)...that's a long time! I've always wanted to blog, but I didn't ever say I'd be good at doing it regularly! :)
A lot has happened in our lives in the past months. Nothing too dramatic or no exciting news, just a lot of things. We are in the midst of full-blown toddlerhood. It seemed like it was maybe April when Noah stopped being a "baby" and really became a toddler, even though he had been walking and developing independence for a couple of months. He started seeking more and more independence and testing boundaries and limits. At first, I just wanted to hide and pray that it would all magically go away and my very agreeable little baby would be back. After a month or two, I knew that wasn't going to be the case, so I decided to start learning a bit more about toddlers. I kept telling Brian how unfortunate it was that childcare classes teach you how to take care of a newborn, but that's where they stop. I'm quickly learning that toddlers are an EXTREMELY different kind of little people! They are the most nerve-wracking and frustrating people in the world but at the same time, they have to be the silliest, most joyful and fun-loving of all of God's creatures! (At least that's the case with mine!)
I've always heard it said that as adults, we have a lot we can learn from children. I find I'm learning so much from Noah...both things about our innate human natures and tendencies as well as things about myself. I thought it would be fun to collect and record my "Lessons from Noah" over the next several months (or longer!) (or knowing me and that I haven't been too great at posting "series" in the past, this might be the only one! So, enjoy while it lasts!)
Several months ago, we starting praying with Noah as a part of his bedtime routine. We have always prayed for him at bedtime but not necessarily with him. So at nights now, he and I (or his daddy) sit in the rocking chair, fold our hands, and I say a brief prayer thanking God for a day of playing and doing whatever else we might have done and for friends and family we have seen during the day, and pray for a good night of sleep. It was not long before I saw how much of "creatures of habit" we really are. After we would finish stories and turn off the light to finish milk, sing songs, and have snuggle time, Noah would put his two little hands together to remind me to pray. Only after a couple of weeks, prayer had become a regular part of his routine, and he didn't want to miss out on it!
We have recently starting including him in meal-time prayers as well. (I know that sort of sounds funny because we haven't ever "excluded" him from our prayers... Basically, we've always prayed before our meals together but haven't always said, "Noah, let's pray for our food..." or something similar.) As he is growing in his understanding of things, we're now trying to encourage him to participate witn n˜ h us and trying to explain what we are doing. All that said, he quickly picked up on this "habit" as well. It has now become such a habit that we often laugh about it because if one of us leaves the table to bring something else to the table (i.e. cooking only 3-4 pancakes at a time and getting up to bring the new, hot ones back to the table and sitting back down), Noah will fold his hands and ask to pray to "bob"/God. There have been several recent meals where we have "blessed our food" 5-6 times before we are finished eating! Just thinking of it makes me smile!
These instances came to my mind on Sunday when we were discussing prayer in our small group. Prayer is our study/discussion topic for the summer, and this past Sunday we were specifically talking about daily prayer. Now, being completely honest, I am not a great "pray-er" by any means. I have let myself "off the hook" and lately have been lazy about having a quiet time regularly each day, and I have never been very good about praying at various "unscheduled" times of the day (times that aren't meal times, bed times, quiet times, etc.). I always feel very convicted when I read about or hear a lesson on prayer because it is something that I desperately want to be better about doing.
It's such a simple thing to do. It's not complicated. It's something we can do anytime and anywhere. While we do have models and examples in scripture and there are different types of prayer, overall, there's not a right or wrong way pray. All we have to do is make it a priority and develop it as a "habit."
Although he might not fully understand it and sometimes we joke about it, through Noah's innate need of routine, he has developed a desire to pray continually and without ceasing. In fact, there have been times we have sat down for a meal together after rushing to get food on the table when we forget to stop and pray before the meal. However, our faithful little guy will always put his hands together to remind us to stop and be thankful for what we have. He views it as a fun thing to do. He enjoys putting his little hands together and watching mom and dad close their eyes to talk to "bob"/God. What an awesome thing to start to understand at such a young age. How much more would we all benefit from adding/keeping prayer as a part of our daily routine and at the same time, viewing it also as a fun privilege!
(If I was really good, I would have a photo of Noah praying at the top of this post. However, the little stinker doesn't sit still long enough to take a posed photo, and I haven't seemed to be able to "catch him in the act!")
at 3:38 PM
Sunday, March 18, 2012
I absolutely hate talking about it. I feel like if I talk about weight then people know I think about weight, and I don't want anyone to know that I'm self-conscious about weight. So, kind of ironic that I'm getting ready to write a whole blog post about it. But...I've completed a "transformation," and I feel like a different person both inside and out. If my blog is truly for chronicling our daily life, I should write about the major changes that have happened...even if that means talking about weight!
I've been unhappy with my weight for as long as I can remember. I remember realizing I was a little overweight and unhealthy in junior high and making the effort to get healthier and lose some weight around 7th or 8th grade. It seems like that's when it all started, and weight has been something that has stuck in my mind ever since then. Throughout high school and college, I was a semi-active, semi-healthy person. I still felt overweight but was content. My weight fluctuated during college, but I didn't really struggle with the dreaded "freshman 15" or anything like that. I exercised when I had time, which wasn't very often with my busy music major schedule, and I didn't make the extra effort to find the time.
My senior year of college, however, I did make the time. 2007 was the year I remember being most content with my weight and health. Despite recitals and grad school prep, my final year of college was a little less hectic. My schedule was very open, and I exercised on a daily basis. I continued my more active lifestyle after graduation and before my wedding, and managed to lose about 20-30 pounds that year.
When Brian and I got married, I was committed to making sure we lived healthy lifestyles. We did well. In fact, Brian lost about 20 pounds in our first few months of marriage. Then...graduate school happened. We got busy and that lead to laziness in the cooking and exercise departments. Plus, we lived in the DFW Metroplex, which does not have a shortage of (good) restaurants! We did what we thought was convenient for our busy schedules - we ate out constantly - and while we went through "spurts" of exercise, we didn't exercise on a regular basis. So, I slowly started to gain back the weight I lost the previous year and continued to gain more weight my second year of grad school.
I just knew that once we graduated things would be different. Following graduation, we packed up and moved for Brian's new church job. Even though we were out of school, life didn't slow down any. We house-hunted for a month, purchased our first home, and moved from a temporary location (the 2nd move in less than 6 months). On top of that, Brian was getting adapted to a full-time ministry position, and I was working on starting my own piano studio. Things were not any different. Adjusting to our new, more independent lives seemed to not come as easily as we anticipated. We liked our relaxing time at home free from homework and projects! We became lazier and started eating more...and more unhealthy foods. I probably gained 10-15 pounds in a few months. The sad thing was that we were aware of how unhealthy we were becoming, but we just kind of ignored it. I constantly knew I was doing the wrong thing.
After several months, it was time to get healthy. We were becoming lazy and miserable and were tired of buying bigger clothes. We were considering starting a family. I knew I wanted to have a healthy, active family, and I knew that as the wife and future mom, I needed to "lead the way." In January of 2010, we finally started to get the hang of it. We were exercising on a regular basis and very much into getting healthy. We had goals set and time frames in which we wanted to reach them. Then, we found out were were expecting our son. We were ecstatic...mostly. Honestly, behind all my excitement, there was a little bit of disappointment because, you see, I had a plan. I was going to reach a certain weight before I was pregnant, because I didn't want to gain any extra pregnancy weight on top of my already higher weight that I was unhappy with. Now don't get me wrong...I was never upset about being pregnant...just wasn't quite ready for it because it wasn't in my plan to happen that soon. Of course, we all know that despite how much planning I love to do, I'm not the "Master Planner." :)
I really did have a fairly healthy pregnancy. I didn't have weird cravings, and while I was hungrier and ate more, I ate healthy. I also tried to remain active. I exercised when I had the energy to. I obviously didn't lose weight, because pregnancy is not the best time to do that, but I didn't gain a lot of extra pregnancy weight (except for in my last few weeks when it seemed like both Noah and I grew and grew! I think I gained 5-10 pounds in the two weeks past my due date before he was born!). Through nursing, I lost my pregnancy weight very quickly after his birth. I think I was at my pre-pregnancy weight when he was 4-5 months old, which was great, but I wasn't happy with my pre-pregnancy weight, and that wasn't so great.
I constantly thought about working harder to lose weight. I tried to find times to exercise but failed. I allowed myself to have excuses. I have a baby...I run my own business...I'm highly involved in church... All good excuses, but my excuses seemed to double as even better reasons to get healthy. It really hit me hard when I was watching a slide show of photos from an event at church and didn't recognize myself in a photo. I thought, "who is that?" to myself before realizing that it was actually me. While that stuck in my mind, I just sort of lived with the negative feelings and didn't make any changes. We constantly talked about how to get healthier, but it never turned into more than talk.
In November, when my aunt sent me a link to this new 90-day Transformation program, I reluctantly watched all the videos and looked through the site. Things started looking up by the time I knew more about the program. The testimonies of people who had been through the program resonated with me because they were saying the same things I had been thinking. I was getting excited about the prospect of taking action to make us healthier. I loved that it wasn't a "fad diet," but a program to educate us on how to make healthier choices in life. I also knew it would be good for Brian as well because I felt like while I sort of knew how to make healthy choices, that was something he struggled with.
After seeing the cost of the program, I kind of lost hope. We need the money we make and don't have much extra to spend. While I loved everything I knew about the program, I also knew it wasn't something we could afford. We talked about Brian doing the program on his own and me just benefitting from what he was learning, but deep down I knew it was something we both needed. Travel time in the car seems to be when we catch up with each other and get to spend some time talking about much needed items. While we were traveling to visit family for Thanksgiving, we decided we needed to take a step of faith and both of us should sign up for the program. If it was really as life-changing as it said it was, the amount of money would be worth it. We got enrolled in the program over the holiday and planned to start when we were home.
We officially started our Transformations on December 5. We were assigned a coach, Jay, who set up separate times to call both of us every week for a 30-minute "meeting." As well as being our "cheerleader" and holding us accountable for our exercise and what we eat, each week he taught us new information about nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle. He gave us exercises to do, but we had so much flexibility. We were never told what to eat or what to do. Jay educated us and gave us guidelines to follow, but we had to make our own daily decisions. He helped us each set up a team of people in our lives to serve as our "support team," people who will continue to encourage and support us after our 90 days.
Brian and I both officially finished our Transformations a few weeks ago. He has lost 50 pounds, and I have lost 30 pounds, plus 7 inches in my waist, 6 inches in my hips, and my body fat percentage has gone down 14%. While we were not overly unhealthy by the numbers (just overweight), we have both seen significant improvements in our heart health (through blood work). Not trying to sound super cheesy or anything, but we really have gained our lives back. I love our more active lifestyle. I have more energy than I have had in months. I am a 26-year-old mom...I'm supposed to have energy to play with my 1-year-old!
Probably one of the most important thing we did was define our vision of a healthier us. I picture myself running around outside with Noah (and future children!) and feeling full of energy and life. I didn't feel that way 4 months ago. I now love running around the house and the yard with Noah, and I actually have the energy to do it! I want more than anything to have a healthy, active family, and this was exactly what I needed to do. I don't regret taking a step of faith and spending the money for even a second! The program helped me get halfway to my goal, and now I know what I am capable of and that motivates me even more. I love the experience we have had on the Transformation program, and I hope to continue on this journey and encourage others to push to reach for their goals as well! And, for the first time in my life (that I can remember), I'm actually excited to talk about weight!
at 10:02 PM
Friday, February 3, 2012
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
So I last posted about my word of the year, "joy." While I have been focusing on ridding myself of bitterness and living the abundant life I should be living, I sort of almost forgot about the joy part of it all...until Sunday.
(I know I haven't written much about the little man in awhile, who has basically been my blogging focus. He's doing wonderful, and I promise (mostly to grandparents!) that I'll fill you in more on him in the next couple of weeks!)
Backing up a bit...I debated with myself for a long time whether or not to join in on the new Beth Moore study on James at church. I've done her studies before, and I absolutely love her insight into Scripture and her style of writing. However, I was pretty worried about doing all the "homework" each week. I barely fit in the things I need to get done each day, much less adding in 30-45 extra minutes of in-depth Bible study 5 days a week. Plus, I'm serving in our AWANA ministry by playing with two-year-olds ("Puggles") which just happens to meet at the same time. But, after prayer and thought, I decided it was time for me to do another in-depth, group Bible study outside of my reading through the Bible during the year and Sunday morning small group study. I decided that since there were 3 other Puggles leaders, I could be out for several weeks, and the others all seemed fine with my decision. I was definitely convinced that I needed to do the study when I realized it was only 8 weeks and a little shorter than the other studies I have done. I started the study a week ago and was immediately hooked. I have always loved the book of James, and am excited about diving in and learning more about it. So, I did all my weekly homework...even though the last one I was semi-frantically trying to finish up on Sunday afternoon!
This past Sunday evening was our second video session. It was very, very technical. Beth spent an hour talking about James 1:1 - "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings." I won't share all the details about the verse, but I will say that I had no idea that one seemingly simple verse could hold so much meaning and reveal so much about a person. Anyway, after making it through all the "technicalities" of the verse, the final point of the lesson was James' salutation "Greetings" or "chairein" in Greek. Guess what it means..."Joy to you." The conclusion emphasized that "joy is our birthright," and "through this study, we will take our joy back." I was covered in goose bumps! Such a "God-thing." He knew, of couse, exactly what I needed! All the sudden I remembered how much I want to focus on ridding myself of bitterness, seeking joy, and having my birthright of joy back. I cannot wait! I am looking forward to seeing how God works in my life through the study of James in the next 8 weeks!
at 9:40 PM
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
As you probably noticed (or maybe didn't notice), I didn't quite make it through my 30 Days of Thanksgiving. I felt like I was doing so well, and then life happened. There was a big, huge misunderstanding between a new family I am teaching and myself. It's always tough to teach "transfer" students - students who have transferred from another teacher - because teachers do things differently. It just takes time to get to know students and the ways they and their parents are used to doing things. Anyway, the issue was resolved, and I learned valuable lessons about communication!
I sent out a little note in our Christmas cards to let family and friends know what we had been up to the past year. The note included the blog address and encouraged everyone to check it out for updates on our family. Realizing I hadn't posted anything since November, I decided I better get busy. I don't really make resolutions, so I'm not making a resolution to blog more, but I do feel a bit of responsibility to keep to my promise and share our stories with those who are curious!
A lot has happened since November, which is typical. December is always a busy time of the year for us. But, for now, I'm going to skip past Thanksgiving and Christmas and even New Years to the present. I may catch back up later, but I may not....we'll just see!
I noticed several people choosing a word or theme for the new year rather than making resolutions. I liked that idea a lot. Those of you who know me know that I'm a bit of a perfectionist. So, I debated for days about what I wanted my word to be and worried and worried that I would choose the wrong word for my year or that my word wouldn't be good enough. I had actually kind of given up on my idea of having a word for my year. However, a few days ago, I realized my word of the year couldn't be clearer.
The past year, I have felt that something is missing in my life. Sure, I have joy from the normal things that would cause joy...my wonderful husband, my fun and unpredictable little guy, my amazing family and all the fabulous events we have had...but I have been missing the abundant joy I should be experiencing. I think I have been holding a lot of bitterness in my heart over things that I just need to let go of. I came to the realization that I can't have bitterness and joy at the same time. So, if I want my abundant joy back, I need to let go of all my bitter thoughts and feelings that have developed and stuck around for the past year. I'm sure it will be a process. It will take some work and continuous prayer to rid myself of these negative feelings and to achieve joy.
This has all been very much a "God-thing." I started reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts a week ago, not knowing exactly what to expect. I'm only about a fourth of the way through the book, but, put very simply, it is her account of her discovery that thanksgiving leads to joy. She was challenged to record one thousand gifts....the little things in day to day life that she was thankful for. There was my answer, as clear as can be and right in front of me. To rid myself of my bitter feelings and regain my abundant joy, I need to find the gifts in my daily life. I decided to take Ann's Joy Dare and count 1,000 gifts in 2012. I am still undecided about whether to share my list or keep it to myself. I may do a little of both! Stay tuned to see how it goes! :)
at 10:26 PM
Sunday, November 13, 2011
I'm extra thankful today for such a sweet, loving, and helpful husband. We got back from our weekend away yesterday and really didn't do much at all last night. When we left for church this morning, we still had not unpacked, had a full dishwasher and a full sink of dishes, and a dusty house with dirty bathrooms! So today, it was frantic cleaning and laundry time before lessons on Monday. Brian was, as usual, more than willing to pitch in to help. I couldn't have done it without him. I'm also thankful for a clean house. I could have (and probably should have since I'm starting to get a cold) rested this afternoon and done nothing, but instead, I cleaned house. While the rest would have been nice, it's almost even better to sit and relax (although a little later) in a nice, clean house!
at 7:37 PM
I'm thankful that my precious little guy is content and ultra flexible. I think back on the major events of the past couple of months....sister's wedding, other sister's art show, first birthday party, lots of family visitors. He is so flexible and easy going. At the art show, he was the life of the party and stayed up way past his bedtime, but never was fussy or upset. Same with the wedding. He even napped in his pack 'n play in a back hallway. I'm grateful that he's always happy to just go with the flow!
at 7:30 PM