The Best Gifts I’ve Ever Received

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the material gifts I’ve gotten in my lifetime.  Last week during Christmas I was trying to remember what the most important ones were, the ones that stuck out the most.  Does anyone else feel like all Christmases kind of blend together after a while?  I personally think that we could all use a little less Christmas-ing in our lives every year, but that’s for another blog post.  I believe that God is the best gift of all and should be celebrated thus, but I think that He wants us to enjoy things that He has provided…

That being said, I compiled a list because I thought it was interesting the gifts that immediately came to my mind. So, here goes.

1. Luggage

For my (I think) 16th birthday, my parents bought my brother and I a joint present because we share the same birthday month.  They bought us a really nice complete set of luggage, with 2 large suitcases and a smaller carry-on to share.  I have to say, I was a little disappointed when I got this at the time.  I remember thinking, “Really?  I couldn’t have gotten anything cooler than a set of luggage?”

Little did I know that this present was going to be one of the most useful things I own.  Five years later, I am now in possession of both suitcases and I think my mom has claimed rights to the carry-on.  I’ve taken these suitcases with me all over the country.  I took one with me when I went to Disney in 10th grade, vacations to the Outer Banks, IUP band trips across the state, Virginia when I worked there after basic training, Mississippi for a church youth conference, and so much more.  Not to mention the dozens of trips traveling to western Pennsylvania and back for both colleges I’ve attended.  When Andrew was in college, we shared the suitcases, using them to lug our belongings back and forth to school numerous times throughout the year.  But now, Andrew has a big kid job and an apartment and can buy his own luggage now.  🙂  One of the suitcases will travel with me when I go to Jamaica this summer!

2. Bathrobe

When I was in middle school, my step-grandma JoAnn gave me, along with some other clothes, a gorgeous purple robe.  She always has excellent taste!  It was huge on me at the time, but now it fits me just right.  I didn’t use it much for a long time, not really until I went to college.  But for the past four years, I’ve worn it almost every day!  I have memories of walking down the hall of my freshman dorm wearing my bathrobe with a towel on my head and my shower caddy in my hand.  I put it on every morning (I think it’s kind of funny that my mom also has a purple robe but she only wears hers in the evenings!) It’s lost some of its fluffiness and color over the years, but it’s still so cozy.  I’ll probably keep wearing it until it falls apart.

3. Coffee Mug

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Pictured here is the one I actually just got this Christmas, but I have another one that I’ve used for the past several years.  It’s purple and I got it when I was a senior in high school.  It was a Secret Santa gift from a friend named Olivia.  We were in this a capella group together at school called Bear Singers, and we had a gift exchange.  Actually, a funny anecdote that goes with this: I used to always eat my lunch during music theory class, which she was also in.  Apparently I took a tuna salad sandwich once or twice, and Olivia hated the smell of tuna.  So inside the mug she stuffed a couple packets of tuna fish!  I guessed pretty quickly who my gift was from.  She’s probably never forgiven me for those tuna salad days.  (Side note: CONGRATS to Olivia for just recently getting engaged! I wish you two all the happiness in the world!)

I’m not a coffee drinker (people tell me this will change once I start student-teaching) but I do love tea.  This past semester especially I’ve used my travel mug to take peppermint tea to class on cold mornings.  I really like this travel mug because it’s actually ceramic like a regular coffee mug so you can feel the heat of the drink, unlike my purple travel mug which was insulated.  Also, this chevron one has a spill-proof lid, unlike some of the ceramic travel mugs I’ve seen.  It will be put to good use for student teaching and my future teaching life!  Thanks Mom.

4. Fiesta Ware

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Also a gift from my wonderful mom.  I have three complete sets that she’s bought me over the past several years and I’d like to keep adding to it.  I have a set of yellow, blue, and salmon.  I especially like the little teacups and the bowls.  I also like that this company is an American company, with all their products being manufactured in West Virginia (as opposed to a sweat shop in a third world country…).  I’d actually really like to visit their main factory someday – apparently they have a big sale once a year to get rid of all their mismatched stuff.  I’ve used my Fiesta Ware since I’ve lived in an apartment at school, and I plan on making these 3 sets the beginning of my future kitchen dishes!  I’ll probably paint the walls to match the plates.  Life is too wonderful and colorful for white walls!

5. Flute

I’m not talking about my professional model that I bought two years ago, I’m referring to my beloved Emerson that I got when I was in 11th grade.  I paid for half of it with my own money from my first job and the other half my parents paid for me.  I could not have gotten this instrument if it hadn’t been for them.  This flute was with me through thick and thin.  It basically helped me decide that I wanted to study music for the rest of my life.  It came with me to 9 band/orchestra festivals in high school, and got me the top seat in almost all of them.  Part of that was me working my butt off, but a huge part of it was because I had a nice instrument.  It also got me accepted into Grove City College, which I attended for a year, and then later got me into IUP where I go now. 

I used it for two years in college before I just eventually outgrew it – I couldn’t get any better with tone or technique so I knew I had to upgrade.  But those four years I used my flute, I grew enormously as a musician, and I have my parents to thank because of their generous gift. 

 

There are more items I could put on here, but these are the biggies.  In a few years, I wonder how my list will change?  It was kind of fun taking a trip down memory lane and remembering all the stories that go along with receiving these gifts.  What’s on your “best gift ever” list?

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A Very Pinterest Christmas

Due to the influence of my roommate (I love and hate you for it Caitlyn!), I’ve become slightly obsessed with pinning things on Pinterest.  I mainly pin things involving two of my favorite activities: eating and dressing like a classy lady!

I know, you probably think Pinterest is a time waster and it’s dumb and blah blah blah.  If that’s the case, feel free to close this window in your internet browser.  Also, I have a selfie or two that I’m going to be posting.  So, if either of those things annoys you, please don’t continue reading.

You’ve been warned!

For the rest of you, enjoy reading about my Christmas activites over the past few days.  All of the food items my mom or I made that I posted here came from Pinterest!

On Christmas Eve, my family went to our church for the usual service. 

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I was at church, but I was in the preschool wing the whole afternoon.  This year I decided instead of going to the service I would help to look after the kids whose parents were in the services.  I was in the Cheetah Room, which is for the 4 and 5 year olds!  If you know me well, then I’m sure you can just imagine how much smiling and laughing I did during those services!  Those little kids are where the joy and glory of God is so easily found.  I love little people with all my heart.

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A little blonde girl named Bailey and I drew these during the last service of the day.

This year on Christmas day, it was just my immediate family celebrating.  Sometimes we have extended family over, but this one was just the five of us.  I made a comment about how quiet and calm our Christmas was – no kids waking up at the crack of dawn, no toys being played with after they were opened – and my mom said, “I think we need to appreciate these quiet Christmases while we can!  Pretty soon there might be young kids running around.  It’s important to be grateful for what we have now instead of always looking forward or always looking backwards.”  I’m paraphrasing, but I think she’s absolutely right!  Our lives aren’t going to be this nice and orderly forever…but for now, I’m going to enjoy it!

So it was a quiet little Christmas, but probably one of the best ones that I can remember.  We had a relaxing morning opening gifts, eating, and trying out my mom’s new Keurig.

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The baked oatmeal was great, and so was this second little treat.  My mom made bacon-wrapped little smokies and water chesnuts, which were a big hit with everyone. (She made some skewers of just water chesnuts and pineapple for me!) Pictured here is just the tray of water chesnuts.

I got my usual types of presents: chai tea, a black blazer (for those upcoming job interviews), a hair straightener so I don’t have to keep stealing Caitlyn’s, a new ceramic portable coffee mug, and a couple other small items.  Such as…

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The fuzzy socks that I’m wearing today!  I think I got 5 pairs total…a girl can never have too many socks.  I like the bottoms of these because they’re grippy!  Also, the way I knotted my circle scarf is a Pinterest idea.

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For whatever reason, my family has christened this drink, “the special juice.”  It’s a combination of cranberry, orange, and pineapple…very tasty!  I found the recipe – where else? – on Pinterest.  You’re supposed to add sprite or ginger ale, but I like it without the carbonation.  We were also thinking it might be good with some coconut rum in it, but we’ve yet to try that.

The rest of Christmas day was spent doing absolutely nothing.  For the most part, I sat next to our warm pellet stove downstairs, read a book, and snuggled up with my favorite dog Button.  My older brother actually had to work in the afternoon, so we’re waiting until this evening to have our Christmas dinner, which, as usual, is going to be a little unconventional. 

Instead of the traditional ham or turkey, we often use the holidays as an opportunity to try new recipes or eat food that we don’t normally eat or buy but that aren’t thought of as typical holiday food.

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I made this cilantro lime chickpea salad for tonight!  It was so easy to make and smelled very fresh.  I can’t wait to try it this evening!  Along with it, we’re having crab cake sandwiches, steamed asparagus, and a new red wine that I can’t remember the name of.  Oh, and a chocolate cream pie for dessert.  How’s that for unconventional? 

Tomorrow my Aunt Rebecca and her family are coming over – on my mom’s side, they live the closest to us out of all my mom’s sisters so it’s the easiest for us to get together.  However, in mid-January, we’re having one big Meekins family palooza where we’ll all be together throughout the weekend. 

Can I just say, that it is so incredibly nice to be home? 

Mmm. 

 

I Hate Running at the Gym

Now that I’m home for four weeks, and it’s cold outside (well, except for this recent heat wave), I’ve decided to start going to a gym.  When it gets below 40 it’s reallllly difficult to motivate myself to get out in the cold!  I got a free month’s membership to the gym my dad belongs to, so I figured, “Why not?” I’ve gone twice and I already hate it. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love to exercise.  It’s a great stress reliever for me and it just plain feels good to work hard.  I’m not a fitness addict by any means, nor am I particularly good at any sport or type of exercise, but I do like it and I do it often.  Living a healthy life has always been a big part of my family’s lifestyle, which I’m really grateful for.  Our idea of a family vacation is going white water tubing at Harper’s Ferry, WV or biking 25 miles by waterfalls in Jim Thorpe, PA – no laying on the beach for us!  My favorite types of exercise are biking and swimming, which I do in abundance during the summer months.  I also enjoy running and other random things like tennis and hiking and Zumba when the opportunity allows it.  I absolutely love to be outside, so it feels very confining at the gym.  It’s a very nice gym, with lots of great equipment and a friendly atmosphere but it’s such a bore.  I’m going to have to start making my workouts really elaborate and varied so that I don’t lose my motivation to go! 

Okay, I just really had to get that off my chest.  I’ll keep you updated on how my 30 days goes…I can’t wait for that early spring day where I can just put on my sneakers and walk out the door!

This past week has been a bit crazy.  I spent three days doing some pre-student teaching at a high school, which was awesome in every possible way.  It makes me so ridiculously excited to be a teacher soon! 

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One day at the school someone asked if I was a substitute!  Which of course gave me all kinds of warm fuzzies.  Like I said before, I’m going to be the best-dressed teacher I can be!  I think this was Tuesday’s outfit.

I observed a lot, but I also got to conduct for about 10 minutes of a concert band rehearsal.  I get along really well with the director, and we share many of the same philosophies and ideas on teaching and life in general.  I actually wish I was student teaching at this school!  I’ve learned so much in my 3 short days.  I have to return to do 2 more days in January, and also help the students at their concert in mid-January! 

I remember one of my professors saying once, “You didn’t choose just to be a music teacher, you chose a lifestyle,” and those words have stuck with me like glue ever since because it’s absolutely true.  I can see how this director’s life revolves around his students and his work.  Especially in the first few years, I’m told, you live and breath lesson plans. So there’s that to look forward to!  But seriously, I can’t wait. 

The last couple of years I thought that I wanted to teach elementary school, but after observing this week I’m thinking I might want to do high school instead.  We’ll see!  I’m leaving it up to God to let me know what He wants.

Saturday afternoon, my family went to a Christmas party at my grandparent’s house.  Because of my summer activities and being at college, I got to see some of my relatives for the first time since last Christmas!  It was great catching up with them and eating lots of good food.  I also really enjoyed seeing how our family dynamic on my Dad’s side is slowly changing.  For the past, say, 5 or 6 years, it was all adults at our gatherings because my cousins, my brothers, and I were all at least teenagers.  But now, 3 of my cousins are married (including Mike out in Montana!!  Miss you cuz.) and there are several little kids at our get-togethers!  They are so much fun and so full of life.  I just marvel at our quickly they soak up information and how they just love everything and how they make me laugh.  My grandparent’s cozy house was quite lively last night! 

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Brett and I at the end of the evening!  I love this kid so much.

Now it is time to begin a new week!  Here’s a couple things that are on my to-do list…

1. Work: It’s time to return to good ol’ Baker’s Diner!  In addition to two summers, this’ll be my third winter working there, and also my last!  Being a food server is a lot of work, so be sure to tip your waitress well my friends.  🙂

2. Clean my room hardcore: Seriously, it’s like a tornado went through that thing.  I’m so good about keeping my room neat at school, but when I come home it just explodes.  I’m just lazy when I’m here.  Not only do I need to pick up all my clothes that are strewn everywhere, I need to clean out my closet and my drawers and shelves.  It’s time I donate some of my old clothes and also get rid of any stuff I don’t need anymore, since I’ll be moving out in a few short months!  What a crazy thought.

3. Christmas: self-explanatory.

4. Go to the Frosty Llama:  It’s a frozen yogurt place that’s been open in Dillsburg for quite a while, apparently, but I haven’t been home to enjoy it yet!  And I love frozen yogurt, so I’m planning on calling up a friend and getting some delicious froyo. 

5. Work on my t-shirt quilt: I started it this past week, and it’s going great so far. It’s kind of scary cutting up my old shirts because I don’t want to ruin them but I haven’t screwed anything up too badly!  I can only do so much right now, though, because our sewing machine is getting repaired and won’t be done for a couple weeks.  So I’m busy cutting out squares, measuring, and pinning until then!  I can’t wait until it’s finished. 

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Here’s the layout of what my quilt will look like.  It took forever figuring out which shirts to put in what row – they had to be just right!

I’m wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!  May God bless you and your families this lovely holiday season.

In a Nutshell: What I Do In the Air Force

This weekend it was time yet again to transition from student to airman!  On Thursday I took my last final of my undergraduate career EVER, which was super weird, then I packed up and headed towards eastern PA for an Air Force National Guard weekend.

Before I go any further, I’d like to explain what exactly it is I do.  A lot of people don’t understand what the Guard is, and that’s completely understandable.  Before I joined, I had no idea what it meant either.  So here’s an explanation:

This summer I went to basic training and some follow-on training afterwards.  I was considered to be “active duty” (i.e. full time job) for those 90 days. 

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This is actually a picture of me in my last week of basic training!  It was right after church, the only time of the week you’re allowed the smallest bit of freedom and to be yourself.  The girl on the left is also in my unit and plays clarinet.  She was a few weeks ahead of me at basic, but we would see each other every week during the church service.  This was her graduation day when she was with her family – it made me realize the end was near!  Now, the two of us are inseparable during drill and I consider her one of my closest friends.  I hope you all appreciate my awesome coke bottle glasses – they were issued to us, which means that everyone with a prescription had to wear them!

Once I got back to PA I transitioned into what I am now part of, the National Guard.  Those in the National Guard meet for two days once a month on a weekend – some know us as “weekend warriors” – and also a few weeks during the summer. So, that’s what I do. 

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This is Ali and I at my house getting ready to leave for our first drill weekend back in September!  We were so tired!

My official job in the National Guard is band member, so on those weekends my unit, which is the band, meets to rehearse and do other military-related activities that are boring and not worth talking about.  It’s interesting because even though my job is technically to be a musician, it’s often the thing that gets the least amount of time and attention.  But it is what it is and we still do get to do the music thing, among all the paperwork and boring stuff.

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This picture is from our performance yesterday! 

Most drill weekends are pretty exhausting, mainly for three reasons.

1. They involve a lot of driving.  I’m usually coming from school which is over 3 hours away and I usually pick up Ali on my way which adds a bit of time.  Not to mention we have to drive to and from the base each day which is another hour and a half, plus the time going back to school.

2. They involve a lot of talking.  That sounds stupid, but not naturally being a full-on extrovert and still fairly new at this job, it really tires me out.  Ali and I talk the entire car ride to my house because we have a month’s worth of conversation to much to catch up on!  Then we chat up with people in our unit, and we talk to people about administrative things, and about training and forms and performances and music and we talk the whole car ride back.  It’s great and I enjoy all the communication that goes on, but I am just drained by Sunday evening.

3. They involve doing new things because I haven’t been in the unit long  Some of it’s not difficult, like figuring out where the timpani goes after we unload it off the truck, or where the dining facility is, or who the best person is to talk to about accomplishing a certain task.  There’s just so much unknown, but bit by bit I am learning how to do everything.

Despite those things, drill weekends are really fun because the people in my unit are like a big family and I get paid to be a musician.  What could be better than that?  Not to mention I just really like the military lifestyle in general; it’s kind of hard to explain unless you’ve been in it yourself.

This drill weekend was especially exhausting because it was three days long instead of two.  We had a holiday performance on Saturday afternoon, so we used the extra day to prepare.  This was my third official drill weekend with the band, so I’m still learning people’s names and how everything works.  But I felt like I really got to know people during this drill weekend, mainly because we got to spend so much time together.  There was a great Christmas party and I got to talk with a lot of people that I hadn’t before.

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The dynamic duo at the party.  I would not enjoy this experience half as much if I didn’t have Ali there with me!

There is so much more I could say about my experience with the Air Force, but I’ll stop now before I write a small novel.  I’m sure I’ll have more to say about the Air Guard in the future.  Aim high, fly, fight, win!

A Heavy Heart

Tonight is one of those nights where about 14 emotions are simultaneously running through my body.  I have a heavy heart right now, but in a good way (I think).  Hopefully writing some things down will help sort them all out.  Sometimes my brain just feels so full of thoughts and I can’t get them down on paper (or in this case a computer) fast enough.

1. Peace

This evening we had our annual flute studio party at the Wacker’s house.  I walked there and back, partly because I was using it as my exercise for the day and partly because I don’t like to waste gasoline on short distances (it’s a mile from my apartment to their house).  It was freezing cold out, but I didn’t mind since I had so many layers on.  Once the party was over and I was walking back to my apartment, I decided that I was going to extend my walk into the neighborhoods next to Oakland, the main road I take to get home, because it was a beautiful clear night and I was feeling rather brooding.

Once I got off that main road and I started walking where there are no streetlights or car noises, I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and serenity.  There’s snow out still, and the back sidewalks aren’t cleared super well, so I was carefully picking my way through the ice and snow block by block.  I spent some time praying and just thinking about things that have been happening recently in my life and all the good things yet to come.  Even though there are so many unknown factors in my future, I feel so calm about tackling them all.

I often associate snow with silence.  I love they way it falls overnight and you have no idea it’s there until you look out the window in the morning.  I love the way that it seems to muffle sounds – like tonight, I felt like one of the only people in the world because I couldn’t hear cars running or people walking or music playing.  I could only hear the slight crunch under my boots, and the swish of my arms as they hit my winter coat as I walked.  It was so incredibly peaceful and wonderful.  I know some people hate to be alone, but I treasure it.  As a college student I am rarely alone, and having those precious silent minutes to myself were just…perfect.  Everything was so still.

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2. Satisfaction

As I walked this evening, I thought about how happy I am with how I have spent the last three and a half years of my life.  I have absolutely no regrets with how I spent my college career.  Some people might say that I didn’t have enough fun, that I worked too hard, but I am totally content with the things I’ve done and the balance I found in life.  Yes, I worked ridiculously hard, but I am so glad that I did.  I have learned so much and I love school…I want to become the best music teacher I can be.  And yes, I did have fun.  I have made so many good friends in college, at Grove City and at IUP.  I have memories and friendships that will last for the rest of my life.

I got to join the Air Force, travel all over the country as a result of it, teach music to all different age groups, eat and cook new foods, laugh until I cried, make meaningful relationships, and so much more.  I’m only 21 and I have already gotten to experience a lifetime.  I am so content, and so lucky to be where I am.  My family has been ridiculously supportive of me my entire life, and for that I will be forever grateful.  My college life hasn’t always been easy, that’s for sure.  There are times when I felt like giving up and that I wasn’t good enough to achieve what I wanted.  My life is far from perfect, but as far as college goes, I don’t think I could have had a better experience.

3. Sadness

That being said, I am sad that college is ending.  Gone are my days of sweatpants, tv dinners, and staying up past midnight on the weekends.  I’ll still be here in Indiana for student teaching, of course, but it won’t be quite the same.  Now I am an adult.  I have actual responsibilities similar to a real job.  I have to be a leader, and mature and ready to tackle any challenge thrown at me.  I do all those things now, but next semester it will be on a whole new level.

I hear so much that college is the best time of your life, and I’m already feeling nostalgic about almost being done with it.  Of course, part of me is so ready to move on, but it is so bittersweet to never again live my life quite like this.

4. Love

Tonight I am feeling loving and loved.  It was great being at the Wacker’s house and surrounded by my studio.  I will miss all of them.  I feel so cared for by all these people, my professor and her husband included.  They both have been instrumental in certain things in my life, and I wouldn’t be who I am today without either of them.  I feel loved by my family, who I will get to spend the next five weeks with.  Of course, I usually go crazy with cabin fever when I am home for an extended period of time now, but tonight I am just cherishing the thoughts of almost being reunited with my parents and brothers.  I feel loved by my roommate.  She has leftover meal plans left, and she graciously offered to share them with me.  So instead of buying groceries this week, she’s letting me use her ID card to buy food twice a day.  If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!  I also just feel loving towards a lot of things and people in my life right now: my friends, my flute, my warm apartment, the beauty of Pennsylvania in winter, one of my dearest friends whom I get to see tomorrow.  The list goes on and on.

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My lovely friend Tory, who is graduating this semester.  I will miss you!  She has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met…I knew we would be friends from the day we met (when we played in Symphony Band together so many years ago).  You will be a great music teacher!  I can’t wait to see where your future leads you.

5. Hope

I am feeling hopeful.  I feel like I spend a majority of my life being hopeful and wanting things, but in a balanced, healthy way.  I am constantly dreaming and hoping for things.  I have such huge plans for myself, and I am always refining and tweaking these goals in my head.  I hope someday they become reality.  I know God has a wonderful plan for my life, as I have already seen in the things He has provided for me.  I hope that what I want for my life and what God has planned for me is the same, but I don’t know for sure.  Things in the future scare me, but I am looking forward to how they come about.  I know with God’s guidance that He will not lead me astray.

Tonight when I was walking and praying, God was telling me to be patient.  Patience is something I’ve struggled with a lot, but I’ve gotten better about it in the past year (mostly as a result of going to basic training and having to wait for everything there) and I feel so confident about what’s to come.

6. Excitement

Then, of course, I am filled with absolute and total excitement for my future.  I’m terrified, yes, but my eagerness trumps any fear I have about teaching or graduating.  This week I met both my cooperating teachers that I’ll be working with for next semester when I’m student teaching, and that just fueled my desire further to get out there and teach music for real.  They both seem like wonderful, knowledgeable, and passionate people who I will learn a lot from.

This is a completely shallow, unimportant excitement, but I can’t wait to dress like a teacher.  I’ve decided that I’m going to be one of the best-dressed school teachers ever.  I can’t wait to be a professional, to be a role model, and to be the classiest, sunniest music teacher you’ve ever met.

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I wore this on Monday when I met my elementary co-op.  The blouse and dress pants are both from Goodwill!  I love finding great deals.

I can’t wait to move somewhere new.  I have ideas of where I’d like to live, but I don’t want to write them down quite yet.  Who knows where I’ll end up?  I’m already planning what my future apartment, garden, and car will look like.  I can’t wait to meet new people in whatever town I move to, and to get involved in a church that I love.  I can’t wait to (potentially) meet my future husband if I haven’t already.  I can’t wait to teach children to love music and motivate them to learn about it and cherish it as much as I do.  I can’t wait to go to Jamaica after graduation to teach music for 10 days!  I can’t wait to start applying for jobs.  I can’t wait to get a job.

But obviously, I must and will wait for these things.  Because as I said, I’m learning to be patient, remember?  In the meantime, I will continue to dream about all these things while enjoying the things that are happening now in my life.  I don’t always want to be looking ahead….I’d never enjoy my life if I did that.  It’s all about balance.

Well, that wasn’t 14 different emotions, but there’s certainly a lot there.  Maybe this post gives you an idea of how my brain works and to see how weird of a time it is in a college senior’s life.  I’m sure many of my almost graduated friends are experiencing the same things I am.  I kind of poured my heart out here, so I hope you enjoyed seeing a more personal side of me than you maybe had before.  My heart certainly feels much lighter now.  Thanks for reading.

It Isn’t Christmas Without Leroy Anderson!

Today, I finished another chapter of college by playing in my last ever IUP Bands Concert.  I’ve played in the Wind Ensemble for the past four semesters, and it’s been one of the best experiences of my life.  

I’ve gotten to play some great pieces with my colleagues, grow as a leader and player (especially with piccolo!), as well as learn from my incredible teacher Dr. Stamp.  Wind Ensemble was one of those things that I always enjoyed going to, no exceptions.  I don’t think we realize how lucky we are to be in part of such a group.  Very few college students, get to experience that – the intensity, the challenge, the maturity it requires – and I think I speak for all of us when I say that Wind Ensemble has changed us into better people, and not just as musicians.  It has taught me, among other things, to be more sensitive, to recognize beauty, and to listen better.

On that same note, I could not have asked for a better section with whom to spend that time.  Most of the flute section was new to Wind Ensemble this semester and I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to gel and work with each other in the same way as in the past, but I can honestly say they have all been wonderful to work with.  They were all willing to play piccolo when I asked (for those of you don’t know, I avoid playing piccolo in Wind Ensemble like the plague), always prepared for rehearsal, and even ready to practice our music outside of Wind Ensemble time. Remember Hammersmith? Yeah, that was the one that needed the sectionals.

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                       Wind Ensemble Flutes, Fall 2013: Karli, Ashlyn, Brenden, Monica, and Meagan

I thought today’s concert went rather well.  I especially enjoyed the piece “Chorale” we played in honor of Robert Washburn written by him, who was Dr. Stamp’s teacher and passed away recently.  The brothers of Phi Mu Alpha sang the choral version and we followed it with the instrumental version.  We played a few other holiday-related pieces, and of course, ended with Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride”!  It’s not a holiday concert without that classic, for sure.  I thought the other ensembles did a great job too, especially Symphony Band’s performance of “Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral” – WOW what a fantastic piece that is.  I love its slow, quiet beginning and how it just slowly grows into this gigantic wall of sound.  

On an unrelated note, some of the other things I did this weekend included accompanying my friend Brittany on her senior recital, at which she did an amazing job!  It was such a fun recital – I loved all the pieces we got to play together, and I think everyone enjoyed listening.  As much as I gnash my teeth and want to rip my hair out when people aren’t prepared/don’t pay me/their professors waste my time in lessons/make me do last-minute rehearsals, I really do love accompanying.  I love playing piano in general and it’s awesome to work with my friends to put together something beautiful.  Especially when we’ve been working on a particularly tricky piece or difficult passage and we just nail it at the performance, it feels SO great.  Some of my most favorite performing moments in college have been from accompanying.  

And on a completely unrelated note, I also went to Joann Fabrics yesterday and bought some fabric to make a jacket for my dog Button!  In the winter we usually end up safety-pinning a towel around her neck to keep her warm!  But I decided it was time to make her something official.  I used to sew all the time when I was a kid – I made several quilts, a bathrobe, tons of clothing for my dolls – and I haven’t done it in a while but I’d like to get back to it.  So I bought this fabric and a little kit with the correct measurements to sew her one. 

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So that’s my little winter project to do over break.

I guess that’s it – my last weekend of the semester is quickly drawing to a close!  Then only one more day of class, a few days of finals, then I am outta here!  We can do it guys.  We’re almost finished.  

A New Beginning

I already wrote my first post and spent quite a while editing it to perfection.  Then I accidentally deleted the whole thing.

I’m certainly off to a great start!

Anyways, let me try this again.

I’ve decided to start a blog.  It’s something I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long time, and I finally decided it was time to go for it.

Ever since I could write, I kept a written journal.  I have an entire composition notebook full of my kindergarten scribbles professing my love for Franklin the turtle (he was our class pet) and Eeyore from Winne the Pooh, and it just took off from there.  Then, when I got to college, I just didn’t want to do it anymore.  For a while I forced myself to do it, then I just stopped because it wasn’t fun anymore.  Maybe that’s because everything I was writing down, I told my parents once a week when I called home, and I didn’t want to think through everything twice.  Or maybe I didn’t feel the need to use journaling as a theraputic tool anymore.  Once I started college, I gained several wonderful close friends who I felt like I could confide in and share all my worries, fears, and dreams that I would have before written about in my journal.  

Either way, I’ve decided to give blogging a try.  I have no idea if I’ll keep up with it, or if anyone will read it, but that’s okay.  This blog is for me.  So many new things are going to be happening in my life in the next few months and years, and I want to be able to keep track of what happens.  I think that being in my twenties will probably be the best part of my life, as far as growing and learning as an individual goes, and I want to be able to remember it all.  Image

 

So without further ado, here goes.  I’m sure my original blog post was much more elegant, but this one will have to do as an introduction.  

Dear Reader, whoever you are, I hope you enjoy.