Friday, May 18, 2012


I remember stepping off of an old bus in Kualoa, Hawaii.  I stared ahead at the start of a trail completely dressed with trees.  The sky was gray and mysterious.  I felt a few sprinkles on my wrist.  I was barely 18. 

It was beautiful, but I wasn’t thinking about that.  I had arrived in the town of Laie 3 or 4 weeks before.  A roommate of mine had taken me and a few guys to a secluded water hole the day before.  We took the 15 minute bus ride from Laie to the “Welcome to Kualoa” sign then walked the 2 mile trail to the most magical water hole I’d ever seen.  We were sure we were the only ones who knew about it.  We were in the jungle.  Better yet, we were in Jurassic Park.  We were so na├»ve. 

When Kristy & I made it back to our little green house, I panicked.  My wallet was gone.  I needed that wallet.  I had everything in it – my ID, my money, my cards…everything.  I was so mad at myself.  I knew I must’ve left it at the water hole.  I was determined to get it back.

The next morning I took the same bus back to the same spot.  “What am I doing?” I thought.  “I must be stupid to walk this trail alone.”  Then I remembered my wallet.  I was going to find it.  Call it insane, call it stubbornness, call it plain stupidity; I called it determination. 

The first mile was fine.  I cleared a few bushes and heard a few noises that rattled me.  I prayed with every little step.   “Just a little longer,” I thought, “and then I’ll have my wallet.  It’ll be like none of this ever happened.” 

And that’s when I saw it - a wild boar less than 100 feet away from me.  I stopped in my tracks.  It stared me down.  Oh, it was mean.  It was big.  I was terrified.  I had a feeling come over me, “Don’t break eye contact,”  so I didn’t.  I backed away staring at the boar the entire time.  Eventually, I was far enough away from it.  I took off running, not really knowing where I was going anymore. 

I never found my wallet, but I did make it back to the bus stop.  I knew what it felt like to be scared, but I was okay.  


I remember a time in South Texas.  I was young, maybe 21.  I was alone, running on a treadmill in the work-out facility of our apartment complex.  Two black men came through the main office.  I watched it all through a glass wall. 

They were fighting and one had a gun.  The secretary grabbed the phone to call the police.  The gunman saw me.  I kept running - pretending I didn’t notice.  I had a feeling come over me to  “Go out the back door,” so I did.  I was careful.  I scathed the exterior wall of the building like I was a sniper then made a run for our apartment.  Five minutes after making it into my apartment, I heard a gunshot.  Later that night, I watched the news report the murder I nearly witnessed.  I knew what it felt like to be scared, but I was okay.    


Now I’m preparing to leave Argentina again, not really knowing when I’ll be coming back.  I’m scared to board an international flight at 35 weeks pregnant.  I’m scared to leave my husband before the birth of our son.  I’m scared to not have our own little residence to bring baby boy to.  Call me wimpy, but it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and I’m scared. 

But I can and will do hard things.  Emma Smith said, “Strength is not something you have, it’s something you find.”  I believe it and pray I can find strength as I put faith to the test and face my fears.  I’ll trust that those feelings will navigate me through this, and when all is said and done, I’ll be okay.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Behold the Power of Fine Arts


I sit on the couch a lot lately.  I have to.  My changing body is making it difficult for me to get around.  This discourages me.  I don’t like to sit, but I try to focus on the things I CAN do…like teaching my daughter how to read & how to play the piano.

In January, my mother-in-law gave me The Basic Reading Series.  Do you remember those books?  (A Pig Can Jig, A Hen in a Fox’s Den, etc.)  Boy, do I ever!  Those stories never made a lot of sense to me (Tin-
Can can win the ham.  Tin-Can had the ham.
), but I was so excited to learn how to read.

Apparently, the schools are using different tools/books now for teaching little ones how to read.  My literacy lover mother-in-law used her hot connections and found the first 3 books of the series on E-bay for us.  AnnMarie has been dying to learn how to read, so this was perfect timing.  She just finished the first book last week, and we celebrated by making fudgy bars.  She’s halfway into the second book now, and with every little sentence, she’ll say, “I’m doing it mommy!  I’m really doing it!  I can read!!”  It touches my heart.

After AnnMarie turned 3, I purchased the music book called My First Piano Adventure: Writing Book A Pre-Reading by Faber & Faber.   AnnMarie is almost finished with it.  I don’t have a rigid schedule for working through it with her;  I try to follow her lead.  When she shows an interest in working on it, we’ll sit down together & work through it.  I don’t want piano to become a chore for her – not yet anyway. ;)  After she finishes this book (hopefully in a few weeks), I’m starting her in Alfred’s Prep Course for the Young Beginner, Lesson Book Level A.  My hope is to get her through Levels A & B of this Young Beginner series by the time she turns 6.  You can find these books at your local music store guaranteed.  If not, they’ll order it for you ASAP.

The piano teacher in me:  If you want to expose your child (ages 3-5) to music education, but don’t know how, or if you’re questioning whether or not to start your 6 year old in piano, BUY THIS BOOK.  You do not have to have a degree in music to work through this book with your child!  The instructions for each activity are very clear.  You will obviously have to take the time to work through the activities with them, but it is well worth it.  Little fingers (3-5 year olds) typically don’t have the finger dexterity to play weighted keys.  This book has a few ‘piano playing’ activities, but it basically focuses on introducing your child to simple concepts like finger numbers, low/high sounds, black-key groups, louds & softs, or the music alphabet, and it is a fun fun tool for doing so.  Faber & Faber is one of my two favorite methods for teaching beginning piano students.

On a final note, my little ballerina, Carlie Joy:


Oh, how I wish I could enroll her in a dance class!  Soon enough, soon enough.  I did pull up a few YouTube videos in an attempt to teach her a routine.  THAT was a sight to behold.  Carlie tapped my belly and said, “Hey, hey, hey…just sit back down on the couch mama.”