Disney + Piano = 1 Incredible Summer!

How is it already June 10th?? Feels like just yesterday it was the beginning of May and Abe and I were looking at our crazy May schedule and wondering if we could make it to the other side without crashing and burning. But May came and went in a whirlwind and here we are, in the good old days of summer, soaking up the sun and enjoying more free time!

Today’s post is about my summer theme for piano lessons…

Revealing….. My piano studio’s first ever summer theme….. DISNEY!!

First, I’ll tell you how I came to decide on such a pop-culture theme, and then I’ll show and attach some of the ways I’ve been incorporating it into piano lessons.

The idea slowly came to me over this past school year, when I had several students coming to me with these giant Disney songbooks, wanting to play one of their favorites for the end of the year piano recital. Due to the classical, formal nature of the end of the year recital, I gently denied them Disney and tried to lure them into more fun sounding classical pieces for the recital. I began thinking about how could I use/incorporate Disney music, or any fun pop music, into lessons. We spend a lot of time on theory, technique, and classical repertoire…all very much needed! But I figured there had to be some way to let the students enjoy the music they like to listen to and still get some type of beneficial skill training out of it. Even if just for a summer. 🙂 A second reason was that this summer I am teaching solely out of my house, and I was unsure how many students would agree to the new location over the summer. Trust me…doing a Disney theme definitely helped keep the kids signed up for the summer!

So I brainstormed with my sister (an elementary ed major who is brimming with creative ideas) and came up with a plan for a Disney summer. “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!” I figured I will “let it go” over the summer and just go Disney crazy to get it out of their systems, and then focus back on the standard literature in the fall. The challenge for me was finding ways to make it beneficial pianistically. With Disney songs, they can work on:

  1. Bringing out the character and mood of a piece. (“Under the Sea” should be played in an entirely different mood from “Can You Feel the Love Tonight”!)
  2. Keeping a steady rhythm that someone can sing to. (Songs they know the words to = songs they can sing with!)
  3. Analyzing a composition–how did the Disney writer start out the song? (mood of the introduction) how did the Disney writer use harmony/notes/rhythm to paint a picture of the words? Do the words always go with the music style? (There are also several videos online about how Disney songs are made…It’s a perfect opportunity to talk about composing and the process of making your own music. What better way to introduce composing than with the favorite Disney songs?) 

These are just a few of the ideas I came up with. Now for the fun part… the part I’m not as good at… making all the ideas work in each lesson. I’m great at coming up with ideas, not always so great at actually doing them. 😉 (yeah…I’m one of those people!) 

Thank goodness I have an incredibly creative sister who thrives on classroom creativity.

The extent of my creative ideas: let’s learn Disney songs this summer and call it a Disney Summer!

Tricia’s creative ideas: OK, we can do a party at the end of the year and have everyone dress up as the character who’s song they learned and play their pieces for everyone, and have Disney themed food, and have a practice contest where the prize is a Disney movie day at your house, and we can have a treasure box of Disney toys from the Dollar Store that they can pick out of when they play good, and the program for the Disney piano party can be a puzzle with the song titles and clip-arts of each movie, and the parents have to match the song title to the correct movie….

Wow.

I literally kind of stood there with my mouth open for a minute, mainly because those are all spectacular ideas, but also because not one of them would have ever entered my head! Except for the performance party at the end of the year where they play their pieces for each other…but I never would have thought about the costume part or the program puzzle… Again, I’m thankful for a sister in education! 🙂

So here’s a PDF of our Disney Summer Details. I wish I had the skills to make it show up like a little picture and if you click it it becomes bigger and you can download…I have no idea how to do that, so here’s just a link to the PDF! Feel free to use it if you are a piano teacher reader!

Disney summer handout

If you click on the link, it will take you to another page on my site with the link again and a description of it. Click the link a second time, and it will come up in your browser as a PDF. Sorry it’s not a one-click deal…oh well! 🙂

Basically it’s a two page handout, with lots of Disney character graphics and creative titles. “Disney Drills” is our practice contest–with no set number of days required each week (since it’s the summer!) The students simply get one “Disney Ticket” for each single day they practice, and then can redeem their tickets at the end of the summer for the prizes. The lowest prize, for a minimal number of tickets, is the “Toy Story Box”–simply a box with Disney toys (and other toys) that the students can purchase with their tickets. The next prize up is a chance to buy toys from the Toy Story Box, PLUS having ice cream cones in the last lesson. The GRAND prize is the one Tricia came up with–a Disney movie afternoon at my house, with popcorn and soda. The kids were all excited about each level of prizes!

The “Characters Concert” is what I’m calling the party at the end of the year. Each student will play the song they have been working on, and they may or may not dress up–it’s up to them. Some of the older elementary kids aren’t into dressing up…the boys especially! 🙂 I’m planning on using Pinterest to come up with cool food ideas and just go wild with Disney themed ideas! (They are ALL over Pinterest!) And I am planning on having the program puzzle…the kids will get it right away I’m sure, but the parents might not be as quick. I’ll have the student’s name with the song being performed, like normal programs, but over to the side I’m planning on having pictures of different Disney characters that everyone will have to match to the correct song. Maybe have a few cheap door prizes for those adults who get them all right!

I think that is the gist of what is on my hand-out. Needless to say, I am almost as excited as the kids are! It’s bringing out my inner Disney-obsession. 🙂 Who doesn’t love Disney?? 

Have you ever done a similar theme? Do you love Disney? I have gotten several flyers in the mail for the Disney Summer Music camps. I didn’t even realize they had music camps! That would be so awesome, held at Disney World! Unfortunately, there is no option for pianists–it is all vocal or band-instruments camps. Maybe one of these years I will do my own summer Disney camp….I will REALLY need Tricia’s help then to make it as magical as possible without actually going to Disney World. 🙂

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, dreams are forever.” -Walt Disney

Hope you’re enjoying your summer!!

~Flossie

The Closing of A Chapter

A great memoir of college student-teaching, so proud of all this girl has overcome to touch the next generation. Excellent definition of a balanced teacher and classroom! 🙂 Love her! ❤

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            “A good teacher is like a candle- it consumes itself to light the way for others.”

           Today I ended a long, wonderful journey of seeing God’s redemptive plan on a daily basis. The experience was phenomenal. In my opinion, clinical practice as an education major at Bob Jones University is worth the $65,000 dollar education. Walking across the stage in two days seems so minute compared to the life-to-life connections and relationship experiences that I have encountered over the past four years, but more specifically in the last four months. Teaching in a public school in Greer, South Carolina has taught me a plethora of lessons, which I will try to abbreviate. 🙂

      To get everything out on the table, I know that there is controversy of teaching in a Christian school or teaching in a public…

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Mountains in Vanuatu

Do you like to hike? I didn’t grow up doing a lot of hiking, but I have gone on the occasional hike at camp. I also went on what I would call a monster hike on the island of Vanuatu (off the coast of Australia) when I went there on a missions trip in 2013.

This hike in Vanuatu was very strenuous…to understate it! The missionary that we went to visit actually handpicked the people from our church group that he “allowed” to go on the hike to a certain village—it was that dangerous! I remember sitting in the little hut surrounded by natives while the missionary called off names of who would accompany him overnight farther into the bush to a new village. He called off several men, then paused and told us that only two ladies would be able to go—two that he had watched all week so far and thought could do it. I am not a big hiker, and was in no way expecting to go…but he named my name as one who could go. I was actually really scared…the whole trip was a little out of my comfort zone (sleeping in the jungle, no water/hot showers, weird food, bugs!) but when I realized I would go on a hike, of all things, that a very fit missionary considered strenuous…I thought this is the end! I’m going to die in Vanuatu! 😉

We started off to cross several mountains to get to the village. I have never pushed my body to the limit it was pushed on that hike. I doubt I ever will again! One of the men in our group was a former marine (former as in last year!) and now working with law enforcement, and he was even struggling. One of the mountains was a never-ending straight-up ascent. It was not like rock climbing with ropes and harnesses, but several times I was clinging onto roots in the dirt and looking behind me at a gorgeous vista of jungle…and hoping I didn’t fall off! We were all in a line and the pressure was on to keep going. Somehow…someway…I didn’t stop, my heart was pounding out of my chest, and I made it to the top of the mountain. (I have to say, my writing cannot do the hike justice. Simply typing “I made it to the top” makes me itch for better words to describe the agonizing STRUGGLE it was to get to the top! I labored to the top…sweated to the top…the thesaurus does not have an adequate word for it! 😉 OH! And did I mention, I was carrying a backpack that weighed 30 pounds the whole time? That is like…a third of my weight!!!)

Standing, finally, on top of the mountain, I was able to stop, and just stand bent over for what felt like an eternity to get my heart rate back to normal and catch my breath. The others were the same…thankfully at the top there was a little grassy area where we all slumped and dumped our backpacks. I was drenched in sweat. The hot water in my water bottle stuffed in my backpack felt like the best water I had ever tasted. Those of you who enjoy hiking probably know what I’m going to say next— the views kind of make it worth it! I have never seen such beauty before in my life. Green, exotic, un-modernized jungle countryside stretched out forever. The missionary pointed to where you could just barely see the clear blue Pacific Ocean, as well as a distant river that we had passed hours before getting to the mountain. I felt as if I were on top of the world, and the world as I knew it was far away. And I wanted to stay. I wanted to build a house right there and never leave.

I could go on and on about Vanuatu, but the point of this story has to do with an article I read the other day about “Where to go when you’ve reached your limit.” (http://lovingchristministries.com/4-places-to-go-when-youve-hit-your-limit/)  It’s a post for moms, and the point was that sometimes everything in your life just gets so overwhelming and you have reached your limit, and you need to go away and essentially regroup. The author suggested four places…take a walk, lock yourself in the bathroom, go for a drive, or go shopping by yourself. Very practical advice! Because Jesus Himself “got away” to a mountain to pray alone. And at the end of her article she made a statement that stuck out to me…

No matter which ‘mountain’ you go to to pray, remember you do have to come down again. Your alone time helps you center, refresh, renew. Schedule it, keep the appointments, use the time to enjoy being with yourself, and then come back ‘down’ and keep working to make the earth His kingdom. 

And I realized much of my struggles in life can be because I don’t want to come down off the mountain. I worry about the valleys…I worry about climbing back UP the mountain once I’m off it! 🙂 When I was hiking in Vanuatu, I had reached my limit getting to the top of that one mountain. I had reached beyond what I thought my limit was! And I needed to take that break, sit in the comfy grass, take in the view, and drink some water. But the truth is, as much as it was incredible and I wanted to stay, we had to keep going. We had more mountains to cross, and a village of people waiting for us. And what an experience that was! I was the first white girl with dark hair that the villagers had ever seen. They kept coming right up to me and touching my hair!! I was a little freaked out. And then we all met in the thatched-roof little church hut, and we sang hymns…hymns like straight out of our padded pews, sound-system, modernized church! They sang in their language and we sang in ours, and I realized we are one big family. It was an awesome opportunity and experience. But I had to come down the mountain to experience it.

I need the mountains in my life for after I’ve reached my limit of climbing.

I need to spend that time alone with God.

I need to spend the time alone hiding behind our big bed and sneaking M&Ms while Kali reads her books in the other room. (I hide because if she so much as hears the wrapper rattle she will be booking it over to my room to check out the suspicious noise and ask what I’m eating! Haha)

But I have to come down. Jesus came down. Life isn’t lived on the mountaintops—it’s lived in the valleys and crossing the rivers and being with other people who are different from you.

Don’t be afraid to leave the mountain, and experience God’s greatness in the valley. Hope you found some encouragement from this today like I did. 🙂

❤ Flossie

P.S…I have SO many stories from Vanuatu…I might start sharing them on here soon! Such an amazing experience…if you have never gone on a missions trip, sign up! 🙂

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trying to get some of the scenery in the background!

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This is the grassy top of the mountain that I mentioned…we needed the break! 🙂

Free From Fear

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”

The very first fear that I can remember in my life was my fear of walking down the dark wooden steps to my family’s dark damp basement. It’s a fear that I share with all four of my siblings—we used to waste so much time arguing or bargaining over who would go down first and turn on the lights! But one day, I guess my mom had had enough of stopping her work to go turn on the basement lights for us half a dozen times a day. She taught me something that freed me—freed me to be the first one down those steps every time. She sat me down (as the oldest one at home at the time) and taught me that verse out of Psalms, the verse that is hidden deep in my heart and still comforts my soul to this day.

What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” I took another step, holding onto the railing with all of my might! “What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.” I made it one step at a time, repeating the verse every time I took another step down the stairs. I vividly remember those steps and that verse being repeated over and over. Amazingly, I never needed anyone else to go down and turn on the lights for me again! God’s Word has power. From that day on, I was the big sister who would turn the lights on for the other kids every day. (And my mom could do her work un-interrupted! A fact I appreciate more these days… 🙂 )

Today, I am faced with more fears than I thought possible. I’m four months into this whole step-mom thing, and here’s the latest realization that has hit me: Having a child = multiplied fears. Sometimes the fear overwhelms me—what if she chokes on the granola bar I give her while she’s playing in her room, and I don’t hear her? What if I lose her in the store? (Probably not possible at this point, since my fear makes me demand that she holds my hand the whole time…I know she’s 4 years old, just humor me…I’m new at this, as if it were my first time baby! 🙂 ) What if she doesn’t have friends in her class, what if she has a nightmare and I don’t hear her cry?

As a teacher, I get lots of training in child care and protection, and the statistics I hear in meetings can sometimes send my heart into panic mode. 1 out of every 4 little girls will be abused at some point in her childhood. I know way more than four little girls…and the fear I feel thinking about that… I will do everything in my power to make sure my little girl never has to face that! I could go on and on about my fears and what ifs. I have to be careful about not being an over-protective parent…Yeah, I even fear about that! But don’t worry, Abe won’t let me be too over-protective. He is the opposite of me, and is one of those scary people who has no fear of anything. I just pray somehow we will balance each other and our kids out… 😉 

The verse is still true though, whether it is me as a child scared of the dark basement, or me as an adult, scared to face the realities of our world and the way they affect my family. I can still trust in God. It’s easy to want to run away—Satan sends those thoughts about how I could still be on my own and single and living for myself. But then I would have never seen how much I need God, I need Him to help me and my family and to guide us through this crazy life. So instead of running away, I take one step of faith at a time”What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.”

Do you have a particular verse that has helped you overcome fear? It is amazing how conquering one fear gives you courage to face the other fears! I hope you can find a verse that you can just repeat over and over until you are free from your fear. Because it will free you—the Bible says “The truth will set you free,” and fear is a liar! The truth is God is on our side, He hears us and sees us, and wants good for us, not evil. Feel free to contact me if you want a list of other fear verses! 🙂

❤ Flossie

Books, Blogs, and Busy-ness

Hi again! Remember me? I used to post on here once a week…or at least once every other week…would you believe once a month? OK, me either. But it’s March 31st, a beautiful Tuesday night, and I’m sitting up in my bed watching my demon cat chase her own tail. Might as well blog, right?? 🙂

I actually do have more to blog about than just my crazy cat. (And she really IS crazy…why can’t my animals be cuddly and cute like my mom’s?So first of all, some excuses REASONS why I haven’t blogged much this month…

*Kali’s Birthday!!* March 11th she turned four! After a busy week at school (the last week before our spring break), we celebrated with both sides of the family on Saturday, March 14th. It was a lot of fun and a lot of work…Abe and I were happy we got through our first birthday party! I’ll include pictures of the party at the end–we had a princess theme with all her cousins dressing up, and Nana as her “Fairy Godmother.” I used some ideas off of Pinterest and made up my own to fit our family, too!

The week after Kali’s party we enjoyed a whole week of Spring Break. I had grand plans of blogging that week…somehow, it didn’t happen. Somehow, most of my list for that week didn’t happen! But hey, life happens, and that’s OK. A favorite time of mine over spring break was each morning. Kali normally wakes up around the time Abe leaves for work, so over that week when I didn’t have to go to school he would just come and set her in bed with me. I tried to make a rule that we couldn’t get up before the sun did. (The sun gets up earlier than I thought!) She would lay there and cuddle with me and try to get me to wake up soon after Abe left, and I was amused every morning at her tactics! One morning I tried to convince her that we should “sleep in” today…she just looked at me a minute, and then said, “But I want to sleep out today!” Somehow spending a day with her makes it not so hard to get out of bed in the morning. 🙂

And finally, the week after our glorious spring break was competition week for our highschool. (Read: run-around-like-crazy-week; opposite-of-spring-break-week!) With long practices and a long day on Friday, it seemed like all the housework I got done over the break just disappeared and my to-do list multiplied! Thankfully I had a Saturday at home to get caught up and this week has been much slower and easier to stay on top of things. There’s something about having a clean house for a couple of days straight that can lift your spirits!

So now that you’re caught up on my busy month of March, which is totally interesting, I really wanted to write today about a book I’m reading that has been a huge encouragement to me. You should look it up! It’s a biography of Amy Carmichael, a missionary to India. It’s kind of old I think–I found it at a thrift store sale over spring break. (I paid 25 cents for it!) I like looking for old biographies now. I am and have always been a big reader–I love any and all books! And libraries! (And Abe thinks I’m crazy…if you know Abe, you know he would rather be practically anywhere besides a library!) But as I’ve gotten older I’ve run out of interesting things to read, as well as the time to read them. I’m in a stage right now where all biographies interest me. I’ve read a million and one novels and almost as many mysteries (those have typically been my favorite genre)–but now I LOVE reading true stories about people’s lives. It’s so interesting!! Do you like to read? Do you have any favorite biographies? I can give you a list of biographies that I’ve enjoyed or are on my list to read! My current book on Amy Carmichael was first printed in America in 1979, but was written earlier by Frank Houghton.

It’s written in an older English style, but here are a few of my favorite quotes/poems/statements:

“What though I stand with the winners, Or perish with those that fall? Only the cowards are sinners, Fighting the fight is all.” 

“When God does favor any action, it runs, it flies. All things concur to give it a perfection.”

One of my favorite poems, not sure if she wrote this one or just liked it:

“Many crowd the Savior’s Kingdom, Few receive His Cross.

Many seek His consolation, Few will suffer loss.

Many will confess His wisdom, Few embrace His shame.

Many, should He smile upon them, Will His praise proclaim;

Then, if for a while He leaves them, They desert His name.

But the souls who love Him truly, whether for woe or bliss,

These will count their truest heart’s blood, Not their own, but His.” 

Her story is an incredible one–a single lady who followed God’s winding, full-of-surprises plan for her life, and saved hundreds of children in India in the early 1900s. Her book  is inspiring, with lots of thought-provoking quotes and poems. It’s been said that “you will continue being the same person you are except for the books you read and the people you meet.” Has there ever been a book that changed your life? I can think of a few that have made me think differently about my life and how I am living it! Would love to hear about any books that you would recommend, too! 🙂

Well Tuesday night is just about done. We made it to Wednesday! Hope your April 1st is a beautiful start to a new month!

❤ Flossie

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A new Snow White dress from GGmom!

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Kitchen all set up and decorated 🙂

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Kali and her cousins admiring her new Princess bike, complete with a seat for her baby dolls 🙂

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Birthday girl spot next to the presents

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the pretty roses cake that she picked out 🙂

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My Pinterest-inspired birthday wreath. Regular bows with sticky paper on the back, some star garland, and the birthday girl’s initial–I think for each birthday I will just change the inital (A for Abe, etc.) and keep it up for their birthday week! 🙂

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Blowing out the candles

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Our chalkboard 🙂 (It still says this…)

And You Think Your Life Is Rough

Lately I’ve been thinking and learning about being thankful for what I have. I’m one of those people that can easily look at the negative side of things. I don’t like go into deep depression or anything, but if I’m not careful everything can seem sad to me!

I get sad whenever anything changes. I cried buckets of tears when I graduated highschool, knowing things would never be the same. I got sentimental and a little down every time I was done with a certain semester of classes and was getting a new schedule. I don’t like starting a new year—all I can think about is how I will never ever again have this year back. I think I just inherited a very sentimental, easily-attachable nature. (From my dad!) In some ways it’s a good thing—whatever I’m doing right at the moment, I end up liking it and don’t want to change. But it definitely can be a bad thing, when I don’t realize that I like what I’m doing until it’s over and something changes. Like college—I didn’t realize how much I loved it until it was over! (But I haven’t forgotten the stress and to-do list…yeah, I’m not crying much over that one. 😉 )

Here’s something else I can sympathize with:

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Please tell me I’m not the only one who hates changing my password! Even my fingers grow used to typing in my trusty old password and I have to get them used to a new one all over again.

So sometimes it’s good to just take a step back.

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To look around and realize that even when everything seems wrong, I am a blessed person. I’m going to Heaven. God’s on my side, He’s working in me. I live in America. I have two loving families that live within driving distance. I have Abe, and Kali. I have a lot of work to do…but that means I have a house and a job! I have a lot to pray about…but that means I have a lot of opportunities to see God work.

I’ve compiled some “First-World Problems” memes that put things in perspective. If you need a smile today or a reminder that it’s all gonna be OK, I’ve inserted some of my favorite stop-being-ridiculous pictures below. Hope it makes you smile!

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Hope you have a great weekend and enjoy your first-world-country life! 🙂

~Flossie ❤

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Piano Time

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about my piano lessons and music classes! I guess I have been pre-occupied…a wedding, new house and new family make piano lessons seem just slightly less important. 😉

However, I have recently been renewed in my enthusiasm and excitement about teaching. (I’m rarely sidetracked from music for very long…) Specifically, about starting my own piano studio soon! I just bought the book “How I Made $100,00 My First Year as a Piano Teacher” by Kristin K. Yost…….What are you laughing at?  That’s what I asked Abe after I read him the title. I’m sure if I were face-to-face with you, I might be asking you that too! OK, so I know that $100,000 and piano teacher aren’t usually heard in the same sentence. Maybe not even in the same conversation. But, I’m not going to let that stop me from enjoying and working at building up my students and studio experience.

I can’t wait to write more about the book—I haven’t even gotten past the first chapter because I have a list of things I need to do that I am behind on if I want to start teaching on my own. Thankfully, I’ve got the first item down: a place to teach. I’ve posted earlier about mine and Abe’s dream house and how we came to buy it. Here are some pictures of it, specifically what we call the “piano room” where I hope to teach piano lessons.

The room before we moved everything in and painted! Taken from the front entry way looking left, right leads to the rest of the house.

The room before we moved everything in and painted! Taken from the front entry way looking left, right leads to the rest of the house.

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It’s a perfect room for piano lessons–sticking out of the front of the house, not too big not too small…and since it is pretty isolated in the front of the house, that gives Abe and Kali the freedom to continue “living” in the rest of the house while I teach. When I taught at my home in West Chester, the piano was in the living room. So my family was confined to their bedrooms, the kitchen, or the basement while I taught, because I really didn’t want people walking through the lesson every couple of minutes. With this front room, Abe and Kali can get to the kitchen, the big rooms downstairs, and the bedrooms without ever having to walk through or interrupt a lesson. Perfect! 🙂

Next, Kristin Yost says to figure out the demographics of your area–who lives there, average income, etc. So I just googled demographics with my town’s name. I found some interesting information that was good to know. I live in a family-oriented community, so I’m already thinking of ideas of how to make my studio family-friendly. For instance, we have a big room downstairs that we are not sure what to do with, except to make it into a toy room for Kali and keep all of our toys and work-out equipment down there. I could make it look pretty and put a rocker or little couch in there and let families with younger kids hang out down there during the lesson. I would also like to offer group lessons for cousins. Kali has two other cousins who are around the age where they could start music classes or lessons. I’m sure there are other kids in the area who have cousins around the same age–maybe I will offer a group lesson, and if your student brings their cousin, they get two for the price of one! (Each pays half price?) Anyway…just a few ideas, not sure what will come of them! Kristin has a quote that says “Daydreaming about your business is actually strategizing.” I do plenty of daydreaming about my beautiful piano room and piano lessons, so now I can call it “strategizing!”

“Daydreaming about your business is actually strategizing.”

Lastly, she recommends setting up a website before you even begin teaching your lessons. That is what I’m currently working on. She gives a handy checklist for what should be on your website, so once I am ready with everything on that checklist I’ll start a new site. The hardest part so far has been coming up with a name. I want a cute, catchy name, but also a name that goes with my philosophy of music and foreshadows what my general purpose is in teaching. I came up with a few ideas…texted them to Abe…he shot them down. 😉 I even used Canva, a free graphic design website, to make each idea look pretty, but I agreed with him–nothing was just right. After a few days (of impatience because I want to get my site up) I finally came up with an idea that seemed to stick. I did a little design on Canva, sent a picture and text to Abe, and he confirmed that he liked that new idea. And surprisingly, it made the rest of my information flow so easily! Now, it is still subject to change since my page is not up and running yet, but I’ll give you a sneak peak at what may be the title of my new website/piano studio:

Making Piano Possible (1)

Making Piano Possible Music Studio

Like it?? Tell me what you think…and if you have any other cool ideas, let me know!! It worked really well when I went to write my philosophy section, and requirements, etc. I believe that piano can be possible for everyone–whether it’s to make a career out of, go to school for, or just play the favorite songs for the family around the holidays. The title helped me hone my goals too–I want to make painless performances possible, excellent technique possible, and enjoyable practice possible. I really believe that all of those things are possible, and that you don’t have to suffer through piano lessons like so many do.

That’s all for now…I’ll be keeping you updated as I continue brainstorming and “strategizing” for my piano studio. 🙂

Home Sweet Home

Welcome, 3pm Friday afternoon! I’ve been waiting for you all week! (Well…with Monday off and Tuesday a snow day…I can’t really say I’ve been waiting all week. But would you believe…the past three days? The past eight hours?) But now you’re here and I can go home!

“Home is the nicest word there is. Well, one of the nicest, that’s for sure.”

I can still hear Laura Ingalls’ voice from Little House on the Prairie filling our small living room on any given night when I was growing up. I have to agree with her–Home is definitely a nice word.

For me, that word has been changing a little recently, taking on a different meaning. I love all the pins and quotes on Pinterest–“Home is wherever you are” and “Home is not a place, it’s a feeling.” It’s easy to say that…but when you wake up in the morning and can’t figure out where you are, or when you walk into the kitchen to undecorated white-washed walls because you’ve put off painting, you begin to wonder how long it will take to really feel at home.

Have you ever seen Fiddler on the Roof? If you have never seen that movie, stop what you’re doing, go rent or buy it, and spend the next two hours watching it. Really. 🙂 It’s a very good movie about a Russian Jewish man living during World War One. He has five daughters, and the movie follows his relationship and reactions with each of the oldest three daughters as they grow up and get married.The middle daughter, who was always my favorite, marries a zealot who travels all over and carries out his beliefs with passion. There’s a scene where the dad takes her to the train station so she can go meet her zealous fiancée in Siberia where they will be married. Get out your tissues when it gets to that part—the music and acting and entire scene is heartbreaking! The man asks her if she’s sure she wants to leave her home, her family, and everything she’s ever known. The middle daughter tries to explain to her dad why she has to leave, and the climax of the scene leads to her drawn-out whisper, “When I’m with him…I’m home.” (Go watch it—it’ll be better than me trying to explain it! 🙂 )

I love that part–where she gives up what she knows as home for the man she loves. I haven’t done anything as dramatic as moving to Siberia  (Although I feel like I live in Siberia with this cold weather lately!) in a time with no phones or email or connections. But the dramatic part of me can sympathize with her. It’s hard changing your whole life around! But rewarding, too. Here’s what home has come to mean to me:

  • Home is when Abe apologizes after a fight.
  • Home is when we all do the dishes together. 
  • Home is hauling wood from the garage so we can be warm.
  • Home is finally finding an over-the-door hook to hang my wreaths.
  • Home is having a secret stash of birthday presents in the closet.
  • Home is when the fire is blazing, dinner is cooking, and we play “Ring Around the Rosies” fifteen times in a row in the living room. 
  • Home is carrying my sleepy little girl upstairs to her bed. 
  • Home is walking in the door, knowing that I belong right here–with these people, in this place, doing what we’re doing. 

So we could be at “home” almost anywhere! Which leads me to what I was actually planning on posting today…some lessons learned from buying a house! 🙂 I’ll try to keep this quick, but God did so many amazing things for us that I can’t go too long without sharing on my blog how He worked it out for us!

Here’s what happened: Abe and I (mainly Abe) bought a fixer-upper in October right before we got married. It’s not a major wreck, just needed some cosmetics, a few new pipes, paint, and just some TLC. We started looking at houses in the early summer, and the house we got was actually the first one we looked at! It was a little high for our budget though, and on top of that, it was about a two minute drive from his parents house! We debated over all of it, and decided we wanted something a little farther away so we could be our own family right away, etc. etc. So we decided not to put an offer in. Hence, four more months of searching. And putting in one other bid. And viewing lots of houses. Some nice, some small, some too far away, some too wrecked. Every house we went to, I couldn’t help but think how that first one was just so nice…it is perfect  for piano lessons, with a cute front room with wooden beams and a fireplace and just the right amount of space for a piano and shelving and seating. I could envision so many things in that cute house, and I began to regret influencing Abe to not get it. By this time, it had been taken off the market again.

I remember specifically being in the car with Abe when I told him that if by some chance that first house went up for sale again, we should get it, and work out the whole practically-living-next-to-mom-and-dad situation. He agreed, and then we spent the rest of the car ride listing all the solutions and boundaries we could set to make it work. Soon after we had gotten to that point in our hearts, Abe’s realtor called. She said the Rockhill Road house went up for sale again, at a lower price than it was originally. We were shocked. We went and looked at it again, and still loved it. We put in a bid, and got our call that they accepted our bid the day before it was going for Sheriff’s Sale! We were thrilled, and could finally start working on it and fixing it up and making it our own.

Isn’t it neat how God can change our minds? If I learned one thing through the whole house-buying process, it’s that God is not limited by us. When I had been regretting not getting the house the first time, my tendency was to think I had made a big mistake. Maybe I ruined our lives by influencing Abe not to get that nice first house! What if that was the one God wanted us to get! I should have been better, should have been more agreeable and had an open mind for wherever God leads. I should have seen the positive instead of just the negative. I could look at the first decision as a mistake. But God isn’t limited, or surprised, by our mistakes either. God knew if we waited four months, not only would the house be cheaper, but our hearts would be more ready to work out the social aspects of living there. In June 2014, I was not ready to live in this house.  But now, after God changed our hearts, we are absolutely so happy—we love our house, we love working on it together, we love our yard with the big playset and beautiful gazebo (that needs a lot of work and will be our spring project) and we even like being close to family. God gave us exactly what we wanted, and needed—in spite of ourselves! So go ahead—make that decision you’re thinking about making. Weigh it all out, and make the best decision you can. And rest in the fact that if God wants you somewhere else, that’s where you’ll end up. He’s in control!

Hope you enjoyed your Friday, and have a spectacular weekend. 🙂

❤ Flossie

25 Years of Wishes…and Prayers

MAKE A WISH

Yesterday, I turned 25. I don’t feel too different…yet! Over the past week or so I was thinking of making a list of my top 25 Bible verses, quotes, pictures, or memories for my birthday post. But with a full time job, keeping a house running, a three-year-old occupied and dinner on the table, my life right now is not very conducive to coming up with lists of 25 of anything! (Unless it’s a to-do list…)

So I thought we could talk about wishes. Do you have any wishes? A bucket list? I don’t have a bucket list…but randomly I’ll find myself thinking “I wish” this or that.

I have seen two shooting stars so far in my life. I know lots of people who haven’t seen any, so I feel “lucky” to have seen two. One was just randomly when I was driving my car at night while in college. My first thought was cool! My second thought was it’s silly to make wishes, everyone knows it’s not for real but my third thought was well just for the fun of it, I wish… and I made a wish that night that I could continue eating ice cream like I did then for the rest of my life and never get fat. (Seriously. Anyway everyone knows they don’t come true right??) 🙂
The second one I was sitting on a bench by a fountain on the front campus of my university, with my boyfriend at the time, and we both saw the same one. Romantic, right?? Yeah well we didn’t get married. We just weren’t right for each other and we both knew it. But I made a wish that night too–I knew I probably wouldn’t marry that guy I was sitting with, so I just wished that I would be happily married someday to someone.

Do you make a wish when you blow out candles on your birthday cake? I can still picture my family’s small living room on cold February nights, year after year, lights dimmed, people crowded, and a big pink and white Valentines cake with flickering candles sitting in front of me. My big extended family would sing at the top of their lungs, off-key, “Happy Birthday” to me, and of course when the song ended, everyone would be laughing or clapping and calling out for me to make a wish. For someone who doesn’t believe in wishes coming true, I sure have made a lot of wishes! 😉

So at 11:11 or birthdays or shooting stars I maybe will make a wish for the fun of it, but there is something better than a wish that I believe in, and I hope you do too. I believe in prayer. I can trace who I am today, and all the blessings I have, back to someone’s prayers. My Poppop Koechig used to tell us all the story many times about how it was through his mother’s prayers that he married a Christian girl (my Grandmom) instead of the Catholic girl he was dating. Prayer saved my dad’s life when he was in a serious car accident in his teens. Prayer kept my family’s finances going–through five kids, a stay-at-home mom, and Christian School payments. And now, God has answered our prayers for college funds, and four out of the five kids in our family either are, or will be in the next year or two, graduating college debt-free. (Our youngest sibling, Jacob, leaves for his first year of college this fall!)

In my own personal life, I love looking back and seeing all the prayers that God answered–whether I realized it at the time or not. I know that I owe who I am right now to my own mom, who has prayed for me since before I was born. She has even fasted for certain “bigger” concerns in my life, and God answered her prayers. To this day, if I really really need something, I call up mom and ask her to pray for it. I am incredibly thankful for that heritage and hope to pass it on to Kali and any other kids I have!
And it is amazing to see the answered prayers in Abe’s life. Someday maybe I will be able to share some of his story with you, but it gives me chills sometimes to think about Abe’s life before I knew him, and all the prayers his mother prayed for him, that possibly kept him alive, and made it possible for me to marry him. I’m thankful for a godly mother-in-law who didn’t give up on her son, or her faith in God.

I wish I could give you a snapshot of what I envision in my mind when I think of prayer. It is my dad–at the crack of dawn, driving his old station wagon into crime-ridden downtown Chester, sitting in the car outside his plant, opening up the old wrinkled Bible and praying through the aged, creased, single piece of notebook paper with his prayer list scribbled in his own writing on it. It is my mom–in her robe, sitting in the living room easy chair with the lamp on next to her, reading her Bible and praying until we woke up to get ready for school and she went in the kitchen to make our lunches. It is my Grandmom–gathering everyone into one room at her house every time we came over so that she could pray for our “needy family”. It is teens in our youth group, kneeling in their classrooms and fasting for the upcoming revival meetings. Check out http://youthablaze.us/ to see what God is doing in this fiery group. I hope you have a picture in your mind of what prayer looks like. Has it changed your life? The most important prayer that you could ever pray is the prayer to let Jesus into your life.  I hope that you have done that already!

Do you make wishes? Have they come true? I’ll be praying for you, whoever you are reading this blog. I hope on your birthday you say wishes and enjoy seeing movies of wishes come true…but if you ever find yourself in a place where the fairy-tale ends, and the wishes are just blown away in the wind like the dandelion seeds, I pray that it will lead you to find the One who really wants to give you your hearts desire…and He is as close as a whispered prayer!

Flossie ❤

P.S. I had a wonderful birthday–got to sleep in due to a delay because of ice, bake cookies with Kali, and then spend a quiet evening at home. Abe continued a new tradition he started last year…my favorite store is White House Black Market (http://www.whitehouseblackmarket.com/store/) but it’s a little pricey for me! Last year on my birthday he went and picked out a dress from there and got shoes to match it. This year, sure enough, I woke up on Tuesday morning to a beautiful White House Black Market box with an even more beautiful dress in it, and and elegant matching bracelet and sweater! He definitely spoiled me…hope he knows this is an expensive pattern to follow!

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Heart to Heart

Happy February!

Since I’ve started keeping up with my blog, I have a whole folder on my computer of started blog posts, ideas for future posts, lists, etc. that I want to post at some point. I was actually feeling like I had too many ideas to keep up with! Now it’s been a little over a week since I last posted, and I just wasn’t feeling any of my topics or previously started posts. So I thought I would post something random about February–my favorite month of the year–and maybe that will boost my inspiration again!

January seems like a “cold” winter month to me, while February seems to be a “warm/cozy” winter month. I don’t know why that is–maybe it’s just me! But seeing all of the Valentines decorations and crafts out in the stores, looking forward to President’s Day off school, and knowing it’s my birthday month have always made me love February. Yup–I’m going to be 25 in 5 days! That is really hard to believe. (I just got an inspiration for a birthday post! That’ll keep me going for another week 🙂 ) So today I am going to share a story that has to do with my husband Abe and my birthday, and then I’ll post some Valentines inspiration. Hope you enjoy this post!

When Abe and I were just beginning to talk, but weren’t officially dating yet, we went out to eat with a group of friends, and the conversation came up about what age is the perfect age to get married. Some friends said early twenties, late twenties, etc. (I’m thinking in my head, the earlier the better! At age 23 at the time, I had already noticed that my Grandmother had been married three years by that time, my mom was about to have her first baby when she was 23, and my sister-in-law was married and pregnant at that age. And I, on the other hand, was sitting there with my other single friends who all lived at home and worked during the week and went out on the weekends to talk about the perfect age to get married!)

ANYWAY, one particular friend of ours mentioned that he thought 30 was the perfect time to marry and settle down. I hadn’t been saying much in the conversation, but I couldn’t help making a comment there…I told the table that if I wasn’t married by the time I was 25, then I didn’t want to get married at all. Abe was sitting next to me and started laughing when I said that, and I immediately felt a little embarrassed. I didn’t want to scare him off! I just stubbornly wanted to be like all the other females in my family and be a young mom and young grandmother, and if I couldn’t be a young bride than I didn’t want to be a bride at all. (So I might definitely have some of my Poppop Koechig’s blood in me…)

Shortly after that conversation, I went on a missions trip to Vanuatu. While I was there, I saw and did and experienced tons of crazy, life-changing things. I remember one particular day, early in the morning (you have not experienced a beautiful, warm, listen-to-the-birds early morning until you have been to Vanuatu!) that God was working on my heart in the area of giving over every desire to Him. My wish to be married before I was 25 kept coming to my mind–I did NOT want to give that over to Him. I did NOT  want to be married as an older lady! But I finally surrendered to Him, and told Him that I give my life to Him– If I’m supposed to get married later, than that is the best way my life could go. Now, I had to pray that again several times when the anxious thoughts and worries came back, but I never struggled with the heartache nearly as much as I had before that trip.

Now fast-forward to July, 2014. One of these days I will share our full engagement story, but for now just know that after the thrilling jump and parachutes were up and the sign was seen and the ring was on my finger, one of the first conversations we had was about when we wanted to get married. We had two options–do a 6-month engagement and have a winter wedding, or wait almost a year until spring. Being the slow decision-maker that I am, I wanted to weigh all the options and pros and cons of each. To Abe, the decision was simple. I remember him smiling at me and saying, “I don’t care what date you want as long as it’s before February 10, 2015.” Do I have an awesome guy or what?? And I have an awesome God too…who wants to give us the desires of our hearts! We joked about how if we don’t get married before then, we won’t be able to get married because I vowed that I wouldn’t get married after 25. I’ve always wanted a Christmas wedding anyway, so our December 19th date was finally set, and I was married at the medium-old age of 24. As I’m so close to turning 25 now, I can’t help but continually thinking of that story and how God worked out my life for me in His perfect way and timing, and how giving over all my stubborn desires is definitely the best way to go. Even if He doesn’t work it all out exactly how I want it…His way is still best!

So there’s my heartwarming story for this week before Valentines. Have you ever had a desire that you gave over to God, and He gave it back to you better than you could have imagined? I hope so! I’ve also had experiences when He gave back something entirely different, but that was still just right. I hope you recognize and look for those times, and thank God for all that He does in your life. I know I have so much to thank Him for!

Enjoy your Valentines Day!

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Just love this! Here’s the link: http://moneysavingmom.com/2011/01/24-valentines-cards-for-2-49-shipped.html but looks like you could DIY it too!

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This is cute and looks easy!

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