Friday, January 1, 2016

Liebster Award

    Happy New Year! A few days ago, I was nominated for my 1st blog award ever, The Liebster Award. I was nominated by Liisu from My Love for Letters. Thank you so much!

The rules of this award are:
1. Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to his/her blog
2. Answer the 11 questions which you got from your "nominator"
3. Name and link 11 blogs that will receive the Liebster Award from you. These blogs should have under 200 followers
4. Write down 11 new questions for the bloggers you chose

Here are my answers to Liisu's questions:
1) For how long have you been blogging? 
    I have been blogging for 3 years. I started blogging to hold myself accountable in my 366 Project, where I was attempting to send/receive 366 pieces on personal mail in that year.   Since then I have blogged about my project (which I finally completed my part of!), school and life in general. I have really enjoyed meeting people who have stumbled upon my blog. 
2) What are your favourite sports?
     I really like volleyball. I don't get to play often but I always have a great time when I do. At the school I teach at, we have a volleyball tournament the day before Thanksgiving. The winning team from the students plays the staff. It is always a lot of fun. 
3) Which country would you like to visit next? Why?
    Germany. I visited Germany when I was in high school and I loved it there. Since then I have learned some German and have been writing to a few penpals from Germany. I would love to show my sons some of the beautiful places I have been. 
4) What are your 3 favourite books of all time?
   Oh... this is hard. 
The Bible I am a Christian so this is my go to book for many aspects of my life.
Les Miserables  by Victor Hugo
The Harry Potter series?  I think this is cheating. I don't know about a 3rd favorite. I'm not a huge re-reader of books. No book is jumping into my head as an absolute favorite though.
5) Are you usually late, early or right on time?
     I am always early. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people are consistently late.
6) What kind of weather you like the most?
     Sunny buy chilly. So, the sun is out but it's not hot. I like breezy weather too. 
7) If you could travel in time, would you go to future or past and why?
     I think the past since I know what to expect :) This answer kind of surprised me but I think that's what I'd choose. I'm a little old-fashioned in some ways. 
8) Write 3 interesting places to visit in your hometown.
     This depends what you're interested in. In no particular order
-Endicott Park- This is a park that encompasses 165 acres. There is land you can explore, a playground, activity fields, picnic grounds on an old orchard, a small barn with animals, a small fishing pond, a carriage house, community gardens, a fitness trail, and it abuts this historic mansion with beautiful gardens. I love going here for picnics, community events, playing with the boys, or just relaxing in the sun.
- Putnam Pantry- This is an old ice cream/candy shop. Kids can go in an build their own ice cream sundae with toppings from the smorgasbord.
- Rebecca Nurse Homestead- Many people don't know that a lot of the events from the Salem Witch Trials actually happened in current day Danvers. Rebecca Nurse was one of the women who was accused and executed in the Salem Witch Trials. This site has 28 acres of land, including a reproduction of a community/social meeting house, a barn and the main house. There are historical artifacts in the house and this is an interesting place to visit if you want to hear a little of the early history of the town.

9) What is your favourite holiday to celebrate?
10) What are you talented in?
    I am a musician so.. music. :)  This is my most recognized talent. 
11) What are your plans for 2016?
   This year has been a little weird in terms of coming up with resolutions and such. I would like to take a nice vacation to a different country. I'm thinking Canada because it will be way easier for us financially. The recurring theme that keeps coming back to me when I think about the new year is to build more authentic friendships. I have found myself a bit turned off by shallow relationships and feel called to fix some and walk away from others. So... it's a bit scary but I am looking forward to the rewards after the original risks. 

       The blogs I would like to nominate are:

   Apparently I don't follow a lot of smaller blogs that actually update in the span of a few months.  Okay ladies, here are my questions for you:
1) What book are you currently reading?
2) If you could receive a letter from anyone in the world (living or dead, past or present) giving you advice in your life, who would you choose? 
3) What is a recipe you really enjoy?
4) You are given the opportunity to go out to dinner with a celebrity, who do you choose?
5)  Here's a scary one- Take a peek in your fridge, what's on the bottom shelf? No cheating,
6) What song has been stuck in your head lately?
7) What's one thing you've learned in 2015?
8) Are you a night person or morning person?
9) What is one food you really dislike? 
10) What is 1 place you would really like to visit?
11) What is your favorite thing about January?

    I will be looking forward to reading your answers!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

366 Project recap and stats

   Anyone who has been following the blog for a while knows that my blog was named after a project I tried to attempt a few years ago. My goal was to send and receive 366 personal pieces of mail- 1 for every day of the year. (It was a leap year that year.) After failing a few times, I finally succeeded in my part of the goal (sending). Honestly, I stopped diligently keeping track of my sent mail after I hit 366 so there are a few more things that weren't counted. Here are the stats:

Sent mail

Letters: 71
Packages- 8
Cards 128

Grand total- 378!!! Yeah! I told the woman at the post office that I finally met my goal. She laughed and said "On behalf of the US Postal Service.. I thank you for funding my job" 

Received Mail:

Letters: 27

Grand total-214
     One of my friends once asked if I was disappointed that the mail in didn't always add up to the "mail out." Obviously I love getting mail but some things I have sent mail out for (like ChemoAngels, or a sympathy card or a note to a student), I do not expect any reply. The other issue is that I have been horrible with replying in a timely manner so I am not picky when people write back to me.The thing I'm most happy about is that all of these people have taken time to prepare mail for me specifically, whether it was a letter, a birthday card, a surprise package, etc. 

       In 2016 I will no longer try to send/receive 366 pieces of mail but I plan to keep writing... a lot. My personal goal for my writing is to respond to a letter in the same month that I get it. I'm still working on my reply pile from last year, but I'm hoping to get through is as soon as possible. I'm inspired to catch up. I also want to do better with sending things like birthday cards and Christmas cards. I'm horrible with that. (Most of my cards sent were letters written in a notecard form.)

      Do you have any writing related goals for 2016? What about any resolutions? 

      I hope that you have a wonderful 2016 full of peace and happiness. 

Friday, December 25, 2015

Timmy's Christmas gift to me

     Timmy decided to make my Christmas gift this year and I love it. What do you think?

    Can you see the little envelope on the snail shell? He's so cute.
    For all of my friends, I hope that you had a wonderful day and know that you are deeply loved. If any of my friends have not heard the good news of the gospel and would like to hear about Jesus, please feel free to reach out. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas mail part 2

Somehow I missed a pile. I also have cards that were directly given to me, but all these are ones from the post!

 From Schoolbag in Germany.

 From Ieva in Lithuania. Cool stamp too
 Thanks Nastya in Russia! Love the music washi tape too.
 From darkpunkangel in Canada. Thanks!
 From Eris in Spain I love the design on the front.
 This card is reflective and very cute. It is from Nathalie in The Netherlands. I am enjoying your orange spice tea while I'm writing this! Thanks :)
 What a pretty card from Veronique in France. A an aside, Veronique also is the moderator for the Secret Christmas card swap so she is busy assigning people to send cards, updating hundreds of posts, etc. In addition to loving the card, I also appreciate the incredible amount of work she puts in just so a bunch of people who love the mail can wish each other a Merry Christmas from across the world. Much respect!
 From Alla in Russia. Look at the little birds!!!
 From my penpal Angie in MD! I am planning on catching up with all mail by New Years so keep an eye on your mailbox within the next few weeks.

This card from Germany is so elegant and beautiful. I also got a cool Christmas postmark. (Love the Santa washi too!) Thanks Corinna!

Christmas mail

     I know that it has been a while since I have updated. It has been busy with concert season and I have a broken wisdom tooth that has kept me in lots of pain. I wanted to share some of my beautiful Christmas mail with you. Most of these I have received from a Christmas card exchange through Postcrossing. I love seeing the different images from Christmas across the world. I'm still waiting for quite a few so I will post them when they come.

 From Nicole in Germany
 From Marina in Ukraine. How beautiful!!!!!
 And the stamps! Speaking of Ukraine- check out the ornament I just received from one of my Ukrainian students.

 From Nana, the woman who sparked my postal obsession :)
 From pumpkin1990 in China
 From my dentist :) (This is the most beautiful card!!! It would make any person who loves stationary/letter writing drool.)
 From some of our friends in town.
 From Alevtina in Russia
 From Matt's aunt and uncle
 From my sister
 From my friend Cheryl from church
 From Anna in Russia
 From my penpal Donna in Canada.
 From a friend of David's.
 From MitchS in the Philippines. It had some cute Christmas stamps too.
     This beautiful card is from a former student's family.
From Germany from desi-eich
From Germany (I believe from Samantha 21. Please correct me if I am wrong)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Snapshots of the life of a middle school music teacher

Random moments from 12/7-12/14

     Survived a concert I was nervous about. I went to set up, only to learn that our keyboard was broken. Spent 7 hours recording/processing accompaniment tracks. Trusted that the students could do it without hearing the tracks and having me at the piano. They did well and I was proud of them. We did have a fainter but things were okay.

    Yankee Swap with no tears or angry children. (I got a Dunkin' Donuts gift card.)

     I'm singing a song called Songs of the Wayfarer by Joseph M. Martin in chorus with my 7/8th graders. One of my 7th grade boys hung around after an audition toady to tell me that he was researching the song and jamming at his house to  some of the pieces I've introduced him to. Check out the versions he was listening to.
Ed SheeranJohnny CashEmmylou Harris, Jack White and the Swingle Singers 
This also led to a conversation about why the lyrics changed from person to person, history of the song, and his opinions on the versions he heard. Music teacher win :) Which version did you like best?   If I've sparked your inner nerd, check out the history of the song and more versions here. 

        I straightened my hair this morning and wore makeup. 1 boy was confused and seemed to genuinely need an explanation to why I was wearing lipstick. 1 boy thought I was a substitute. Multiple students did not recognize me. A few students came in to tell me that I "look pretty." My favorite awkward moment was where one girl came in and said "Oh my gosh! I love your hair and your face!" Ummm... thanks?  (That's also when the boy realized I wasn't a substitute teacher)

      This week my students took recycled materials and made them into instruments. I have loved watching their creativity. They also composed a piece for their instruments, wrote down the music in non-traditional notation and had to learn someone else's piece. Multiple students have asked me to stay in class "for the rest of the day" or "through lunch."

      Auditions for my Chorale- so cool to hear each kid sing on their own. I'm glad so many kids are coming to try out. One of my 6th graders mentioned that he "doesn't care if he has to crush the heart of a 5th grader, he wants to make spring Chorale." The funny thing is that this boy is a kid who works hard but I couldn't tell if he actually enjoyed being there. I say auditions are cool but it's always hard when the list goes up since not everyone is accepted.

    I have received 3 videos from 2 7th grade girls who are kind of hilarious. The first one was a parody of Adele's "Hello."  The second was a bizarre, rap-like holiday video and the 3rd was a video about "Christmas Crumble."

     Had a kid who is considered to be "one of the worst behaved 5th graders" tell me that he was really excited because he went shopping for his Christmas tree and for presents. He was excited that his mom let him pick out a present for me. :)

     My son came to school with me on a day his school had conferences. He sat in all of my classes, took 3 quizzes, compared and contrasted West African vocal/instrumental music, watched my 8th grade operas and sang in my 6th grade chorus. He's in 4th grade. My kids (the students) were really welcoming and cute. They shared music, chatted, and included him in all the lessons. It was heartwarming.

     After bugging me to play Christmas music during class (in a highly Jewish community), I played a recording of the Christmas concert I played in last weekend. After initially complaining that he wanted to hear some "Bill Cosby.. no, wait, Bill CROSBY" (facepalm) a 6th grade boy said "Wait? Is this live?" Me- "Well, it was taped live, yes." Boy- "Woah.. you guys are like legit musicians! That sounds like what the real song sounds like." Me- "Uh... that's because we ARE all legit musicians."  Glad Tchaikovsky wasn't rolling in his grave though, thanks.

     I seriously wish I could post pictures with their facial expressions too. Good times.



Thursday, December 3, 2015

Guess what?

I DID IT!!!!!! 

     After 3 years, I have completed my goal of sending out at least 1 personal piece of mail for every day of the year (plus 1 since I started the project on a leap year so my goal was 366)!!! I know I'm nerdy to be excited about this. but it was a lot of work and I really tried this year. It was my original goal to send and receive 366 pieces, but the incoming mail is beyond my control. (I'm at about 170- feel free to mail me 190 things in December. I would be ecstatic and shocked to complete my entire goal.)

     So, what's next year's goal? Penpals, you're going to love this. I would like to respond to every letter that I get in the same month I receive it. No more waiting for letters. I appreciate all of you who have stuck with me when I've been busy, crazy or buried in school work. This is my goal for next year. 

    I participated in a Christmas card round robin. I will post all of my cool international cards when they come in.