An apple a day…

Has definitely NOT kept the doctor away the last several weeks month and a half. Since the start of the year our house has seen the flu, strep, and most recently an intense case of Hands, Foot, and Mouth Disease (hereto referred to as HFMD and in no way related to hoof-mouth disease which only affects animals), this is one exhausted momma! I am fervently praying that my 18mo old, T, will heal up soon so that we can move on from all the yuck.

I have sorely missed posting and am excited to get back to it as I am headed towards several new goals in my professional and academic career– beginning my thesis!! But first a couple of updates on a few goals I made for myself back in…November. Wow. That took a second. My first goal was to drop 15 pounds. Yes, the eye-rolling for the cliche can commence. I did not meet this goal, but I did implement a few new habits for myself such as making it a point to drink as much water as humanly possible during the day and to cook at home healthy whole meals. My second goal was to de-clutter the house. I am SUPER excited to say that I actually was able to accomplish this! Mostly. At least I have an awesome start. Almost every room in the house underwent a major change. Both the our bedroom and the living were rearranged and completely de-cluttered, my sons’ rooms were organized for their play, and the kitchen was reorganized as well. This did NOT happen over night. It’s actually taken me about 2 months to get all of that work done, and it was SO WORTH IT! My third goal was to start a new Christmas tradition. I had wanted to take the boys to volunteer somewhere, but this simply didn’t happen. Instead, we started a very simple and easy tradition. We sat down and read the Christmas story straight from the Bible on Christmas Eve. It was sweet and simple, and didn’t require a lot of effort. I know that the more years we do it, the more special and core it will become to how we celebrate our Christmas holiday.

Fast forward…

The next big step in my academic career happens in four weeks: the Faculty Panel Exams. In my degree plan, this is the exam that allows me to proceed to begin my Thesis Prospectus. It’s an oral exam about half an hour long covering the nine core classes of the Museum Science degree plan with a Pass/Fail grade. It’s a lot of material to review. But with the right time management and diligence, it will be done! Once this is completed (and PASSED), I can officially move on to my thesis proposal. In the fall I’ll “start” my thesis and hopefully be ready to submit and defend it by May 2016. No big…right??

In the meantime…

I’ve started teaching preschool music classes for two different preschools. Let me tell you– it is SO MUCH FUN! I’ve been very blessed with two separate programs (one on Mondays/Wednesdays and the other on Tuesdays/Thursdays) that give me a lot of leeway to design and implement the programs as I see fit. This is also a huge responsibility. I have been researching teaching styles, repertoire, activities, curriculum, any and every infant-preschool-music-related thing that I find. That being said, if YOU happen to know anything or have any wisdom in this area to share– don’t be shy! I do have about a year’s worth of experience prior to this and I’ve been teaching private music lessons for several years as well.

A quick note before I head off for the night– the blog is going to be undergoing some structural changes over the next few weeks that I believe will really benefit the organization and help me stay on topic with providing encouragement and help to other academic parents of faith out there. Stay tuned!!

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The One Lovely Blog Award!

Good and Happy Monday Morning!!

If you’re joining me from the U.S., you *might* have a little bit of snow on the ground from this massive cold front that has hit a major portion of us. (Even all the way down to TEXAS!) I am, of course, thrilled to see snow on the ground. I’ve been saying for months now that it was going to be a “harsh” winter. I’m just glad I hopped over to the grocery store before it hit!

I come to you this morning with exciting news. I was nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award!!! I was so thrilled and honored to be nominated by Annabel over at Writing in Purple Ink. She maintains a lovely blog on writing and sewing and photography. I was looking through it the other day and found some really fun and interesting short stories! I can’t wait to read more!

While I couldn’t find much on the actual origin of the award other than it is a community-based award (which makes me feel doubly honored =),  I was able to find the rules:

1. Thank the person nominating you and link back to them in your post

2. Share seven things about yourself

3. Nominate 5 or so bloggers you admire

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know

So, here are seven things about myself:

1. I desperately want all of my actions to point back to the one who has shown me grace and gentle mercy, even on my darkest days.

2. It’s not really morning until I’ve had my coffee.

3. My slow cooker is my absolute favorite kitchen tool.

4. I desperately want all of my actions to point back to the one who has shown me grace and gentle mercy, even on my darkest days.

5. I struggle with depression.

6. I LOVE learning about different peoples, traditions, cultures, and MUSIC.

7. In high school, I competed in both Drumline AND Colorguard. (If you’re from Texas especially, you’ll know this is a rare combination. Either you’ll be impressed or terrified. 😉

7. I’m more likely to burn something if I cook it in the oven. (My Darling is giggling somewhere because I tried to make him cookies yesterday and well, he didn’t get to eat them…)

Here are 5 blogs that I love to read:

1. West Texas Sweetheart– This blog is maintained by a gal named Kate. She interviews musicians, is very down to earth, and a really interesting read!

2. My Pain, My Life, My Struggles, My Fight – This blog is maintained by the lovely Monique. She is truly an inspirational read. She has a love for using her talent to connect with and encourage those she reaches.

3. Blendermom- Thrown into the Mix of a Blended Family– This blog is near and dear to my heart as we navigate our own blended family.

4. Yoonanimous– I am a brand new read of this blog AND I LOVE HER. Go check her out.

5. A Momma’s View– This blog has been very encouraging to me.

Thank you again so much for the nomination, Annabel!!

P.S. It’s Monday, don’t forget to be AWESOME!!

8 Weeks and Counting

I’m turning 27 in a little over 8 weeks. I’m not freaking out about it quite as much as when I turned 26, but I am at a point where I feel I need a little extra *umph* in my life. A little extra improvement, refining, maybe even a few new goals. Turning 27 doesn’t scare me near as much as knowing that in a year and a half I’ll be at the 10 year high-school reunion marker. Now THAT is scary. But let’s take one maturity marker at a time. Here are a few fresh goals that I’d like to accomplish by my birthday, a.k.a the end of the year.

1. I’d like to lose 15 pounds.

I pray that you overlook the cliche and understand that after you have kids, your body just isn’t the same. It’s not supposed to be. But add on the stress of grad school, stress of adult responsibilities (that whole need to ‘bring-home-the-bacon’ thing), plus the kinds of changes women’s bodies go through naturally?? Let’s be honest, I’m in need of an overhaul. (Depending on my progress, I may include a new page with tips and tricks. 😉

2. De-clutter the house.

Ok, with finals coming up and the holidays, it’s simply not realistic to de-clutter the ENTIRE house in 8 weeks. So, I’ll settle for having the kids’ rooms and the living room de-cluttered. The biggest area will be the kids toys. Hopefully, I’ll be able to avoid tearful threats of vengeance from my children.

3. Start a new tradition.

This one I am the most excited about. I am truly a Romantic when it comes to the holidays so limiting myself to one solid tradition WILL BE TOUGH. But what makes this year really special is that we’ll have my bonus boy with us for Christmas. We get him for Christmas during the even-numbered years and for Thanksgiving during the odd-numbered years. This will take some thought. It is one of my goals as a parent to instill in my children a love of giving and serving. I’m thinking a trip to our local Toys-for-Tots distribution areas to practice our wrapping, or maybe teaming up with a few families to go carolling at a nursing home. Maybe I’ll give them the choice.

Anyway, those are my bite-sized goals to accomplish before my birthday. Do you have any goals before your next birthday? Feel free to share!

In Christ Alone.

(P.S. Don’t forget to be awesome! 😉

Loss for words…

I am a strong INFP personality. (Take the test here if you’re curious about yours.) This is according to the Myers-Briggs type indicator. I’m not going to go into detail right now about the theories behind the test, but if you would like more information on it you can click here. I begin this post in this way to hopefully give you a little bit of insight into who I am in the most scientific way possible (that I know of…short of a complete DNA profile I guess.) There are some days in life where I am simply at a loss for words. Being an introvert, that’s not an uncommon thing– especially as a knee jerk reaction. Unfortunately, many times, this loss for words is taken as anger, apathy, or sadness. My weakest point is that when I am overly emotional, it is very hard to concentrate, to form a sentence. I run like a bat out of hell (excuse the expression) from conflict. But there are some days when it’s not a reaction to a negative emotion. If I am absolutely and completely content, I will feel like I am radiating in gratitude. My facial expression doesn’t always show it. But being truly at peace can provoke the same reaction. I haven’t decided if this is a good thing or a bad thing yet.

I do like knowing where I lie on the personality scale. I feel like there have been many times in my life where I simply didn’t know understand why I made a certain decision or reacted a certain way in different situations. Knowing that I was created that way, and that there are other people out there who look at the world the same way, is comforting. But what is even more comforting, is knowing that God is the one who created me this way for a purpose. (Psalm 139:13-14)

You may not believe in God. If you don’t, please know that you still have a place here reading this blog. I don’t share my beliefs to be divisive. I share them because that are an inseparable part of who I am and what I believe about the world. I share them also because I believe that in this day and age, our world is facing a great deal of hurt and pain and fear. Cyril Connolly once said “Hate is the consequence of fear; we fear something before we hate it; a child who fears noises becomes a man who hates noise.” I believe that when we try to understand people exactly where they are in life, taking them as they are right there in that moment, we would be able to achieve a real kind of diversity and acceptance. We may even be able to open a dialogue. From my understanding of the Bible, whenever Christ came into contact with someone, He met them where they were. He met the immediate need. It seems to me that the immediate need of most everyday people is their need to feel loved and accepted where they are.

Christ shows me an unconditional love every day. Despite my failings as a parent, despite my ignorance, despite my anger, despite the depression that descends upon me sometimes at the blink of an eye, despite my attempts at turning to other things to fill the gaps in my life, despite my rebellious nature. He accepts me where I am. It is because of that love that I choose to follow Him by living my life a certain way. By holding myself to His standards, His plan.

Friend, please take a second to think about someone you know who believes differently than you do. Do you feel hate towards them? Or do you feel love? Ask yourself why that is. Then ask yourself, what would happen if I showed just a little bit of the respect and understanding that I so desperately crave? If you are a brother or sister in Christ, does not the Bible say to love our enemies? Where does it say to show them disdain? Although my knowledge of the Bible is admittedly not where it should be, I know for a fact that it states that “the second greatest commandment is like it ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself…'” If you do not believe as I do, would you at least agree that we are given the right of our own opinions by the First Amendment?

With so much going on in the world, I beg of you to give your neighbor a chance. We need to show love to one another. We are going to need each other. Remember, there is truly much beauty in the world if we choose to embrace it with the love that Christ chooses to show us every day.

Bueller? Bueller?

Ok– I’ll admit it. I have no idea where we are on Blogging 101. The last two weeks have just gotten away from me. Any mommy (or daddy, or grandpappy, or whatever), I’m sure, can relate. Fast recap: Sick, Conference, Sick again, a few career decisions, SQUIRREL! (He was HUGE!) So, as I reorient myself I have a question for you all that is by no means at all rhetorical. (HINT: That means I’m looking for your feedback.) Does ANYONE have any experience, hints, tips, anecdotes, warnings, or thoughts about a mother completing an internship or fellowship away from her family? We’re talking 2-6 month stints anywhere from 150-800 miles away. (This is literally where the internships catering to my expertise lay.)

There is a stigma within the museum field that you must “do your time.” Meaning that volunteering, internships, fellowships, etc. are an unspoken requirement. Unfortunately for me, this would mean the probability of living, at least part-time, away from my husband and my very young boys.– even if for only a short period of time. (Shortest time period I’ve found that would give my CV a large boost is 10 weeks)… I’ve been telling myself up until now that this is OK and that a couple of months in the grand scheme of things is really no big deal. And maybe it isn’t. Maybe I’m exhausted from trying to catch up two weeks of laundry in 2 days. Maybe I’m simply overwhelmed by the possibilities. I have so many ideas floating around in my head from the conference last week that I’ve had to sit down at least half a dozen times for a brain dump. Although I enjoyed being in my field and networking and contributing my thoughts, last week was hard. It was hard being away from my family and it was definitely hard on them having me away. My boys, although forgiving little rascals, were angry with me for a couple of days for being gone so long.

Anyway, here’s my logic: My biggest concern is the ability to get a job. You know, pay for bills and broken arms and braces and all that. The best way, I think, to do that is to be well-rounded and qualified. The best way to do that is to apply for various fellowships and internships that would both stretch my skill-set and further my specific research qualities. The second best way to do that is to publish papers and present at conferences. Even then, it may just happen because I know someone who knows someone who knows someone who knows….

Now, my basic personality type requires me to research any type of problem that I face. Usually, the first thing I do is reach for my bible. The second thing I do is Google. Or Wiki. But usually Google leads to Wiki. Anyway, when I Googled “tips for moms completing internships” I found ONE BLOG that suggested a virtual internship…Then I Googled “tips for moms completing fellowships.” Guess what I found…………………………. If you’re staring blankly at your screen, you’re correct! This tells me two things: 1) Once again, I’m the odd duckling. Why wouldn’t I be? 2) While I’m sure that I’m not alone, this road is going to be long and hard and (hopefully) definitely incredibly rewarding.

Well, that’s where I am on this clear Tuesday night, sipping my coffee while my children sleep and my husband works. Dishes need to be done and the laundry is waiting so I’ll leave you here with this…

“When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61:2

Non-fiction or Fiction? That is the question

Yes, my dear. It certainly is. Many tend to believe that there is a singular diving line between fiction and non-fiction. Either you prefer to read non-fiction or your prefer to read fiction. It is black or it is white. The nature of dichotomy is that it is divisive. However, I would suggest to you that it does not need to be. I don’t believe that we have to be one or the other. Rather, I believe that you need both. You need both sides of the coin in order to fully understand either. Stay with me here…

This week I’m at a conference for professional development. We’re in the absolutely picturesque town of Snowmass, Co. (This tidbit has nothing to do with anything except to say that my surroundings have had an effect on the philosopher in me. Beware.) As this is my first time to this particular conference, I was able to participate in the Mentorship program. The mentorship program runs for the duration of the conference. I am paired up with a mentor to show me the ropes, help me get settled in, and aid me in networking. Due to the number of mentorees in the program, many of us are doubled up with other mentorees. I was paired with the only two other musicians in the program. The interesting thing is that while both of us are focused on music in our research, he is focused on the object while I am focused on the practice of the object. The musical instrument verses the music itself. The key to understanding these two different points of thought is that one cannot exist without the other. We are two sides of the same coin. The yin and the yang. I believe the same can be said for fiction and non-fiction.

The underlying element of this question is the love of reading and the desire for knowledge. Without non-fiction as the measuring tool, we cannot understand the complexities of the fiction. Yet, without the stretching effects of the fiction, we cannot begin to appreciate the grounding of the non-fiction. To fully appreciate one, you must understand and engage with the other. What do you think? Do you prefer one over the other? Do do you see them as equals in their own right?

Perhaps at a later time I will have the wherewithal to expound upon this more fully and with more gusto. However, tonight is quickly slipping away and I am finding that my rational thought is too. So until tomorrow, I bid thee farewell.

Tissues, Tissues everywhere!

What a week my friends, what a week… Last week I was sick as a dog. I’d like to think that I absorbed all the germs for my family– hoping that they wouldn’t get sick of course! Because of this– not being able to see straight, let alone sit up without coughing up a lung in under 10 minutes, I will be catching up this week! For my Blogging 101 friends, this week you’ll be getting two posts a day, one to make up for last week and one for this week. I hope that you’ll forgive so many posts!

Last Monday’s assignment was to create my About page and consider toying with a text widget. Here it goes…

My name is Jill and this is Legos and High Heels! I’m a down-home country girl with a flair for the past, a heart for God, and three little boys that keep me going. As I enter the last stretch of my Master’s degree, I’ve been searching for a way to reach out to other parents (moms especially!) who are also navigating the academic community. It sometimes feels that we are a rare breed and that can be isolating at times. So as you pass through, I hope that you’ll stay and share with me your stories, your passions, and your frustrations. I can’t fix the issues that so commonly plague us, but maybe you’ll find encouragement and even a friend! Be seeing you.

The Who and the why…

I mentioned before that I’m participating in the Blogging 101 workshop going on right now. Yesterday’s assignment was to write a post to your Dream Reader. Who would you write to if you knew they would read it on your blog? For some reason this question stopped me in my tracks. I started reading a few posts from the Blogging 101 Commons area and many of them were quite intriguing. Some writing to famous people, some to the audience that they hoped they would reach, some to loved ones who may have passed one. Who is it that I would write to?

I received another very sweet comment from a woman wanting to go back to school with a family. That is to whom I am writing today.

Dear Friend,

When we choose to go back to school or to continue on for graduate degrees, we are choosing a road less traveled. When we already have families, young or old, we are choosing an even less traveled road. We are choosing a path that cannot be perfectly planned or perfectly timed. We are choosing a path that is long, one that sometimes requires carving out completely new trails. There is no one-size-fits-all for us. Our academic career will not look the same as everyone else. This does NOT somehow make us less of a scholar, less than capable, or with less to contribute. In fact, I think that at the end of the journey it affords us more humble appreciation for our work and for our families. I feel that it also gives us a special skill set (e.g. Massive multi-tasking skills, ability to compartmentalize when needed, the ability to DELEGATE). That being said…

It will be hard. It will take all you’ve got. There will be days that your best will go to a piece of paper instead of your family. There will be days that you will feel guilt beyond measure. There will be days that you will be tempted to give up. But like everything else in life, your hard work WILL be worth it. My best advice to you, dear friend, is three things. First, understand that this time in your life and the lives of your family is only for a short while. So when it’s hard and bills are piling up and you’re having to spend more money on textbooks than your whole monthly grocery budget, know that things won’t always be this way. Second, take time out for your family. Your kids AND partner still need to see you, they still need to know that they are loved. Make little deposits here and there. I’ll give you an example. My stepson is learning how to read sight words. Words like “a” “the” and “like”. So instead of letting him play video games before bed last night, I sat with him for 5 minutes and read his library book with him, letting him point out his sight words. It was only 5 minutes, but in that time I felt more reassurance of our relationship than I had in a long time. Little deposits here and there ADD UP. Third, involve your family in your goal to graduate. Communicate with them about what you have going on, especially with your partner. When he knows I have a test coming up, he is so willing to help me find study time by taking the kids to the park so I can have a quiet house or to find a babysitter for me so that I can go to the library. (HINT: our partners actually LIKE helping us out if we let them!!) Something I am thinking about doing with my kids when I start my thesis is to keep a timeline up for my kids (and for myself) to see how far I’ve gotten and how I have left to go. It is my hope that this will teach them about setting and completing goals.

It is possible. I am living proof that it is. It’s not always pretty, it definitely won’t follow the written plan, but it is possible. I’ll be praying for you in your journey. Please let me know how you’re doing!

Your friend,
Jill

What do I do again?

I received a very sweet comment on my “intro” post yesterday. I won’t share all of it, but she mentioned that though she had never heard of ethnomusicology it sounds interesting and she would like to hear more about it. So this is for you, Jill. =)

Ethnomusicology is the study of culture through music and music through culture. Content, instrumentation, dance, performance, social/economic context, transmission, etc. All of these characteristics of music culture can help us understand cultures and music other than our own in a more intimate way. (Channeling my inner professor in 3, 2, 1…) The term “ethnomusicology” was originally coined by Jaap Kunst, a Dutch ethnomusicologist whose research focus was on Java gamelan (google it, it’s pretty cool). Traditionally, ethnomusicology was focused more on “non-Western” music that was transmitted (or passed-on) through oral tradition. Essentially any type of music that wasn’t originally composed by some guy in a white wig. Western art music (essentially any type of music that was originally composed by some guy in a white wig) was left to the diligent study of musicologists. (End lecture.)

My research interests are somewhat eclectic. I believe in performance practice which is a hands-on knowledge of the music. In my undergrad, I studied Celtic music, Afro-Caribbean music, and Latin Jazz. I am also a classically trained percussionist and pianist. (Wow, I feel like I’m reading off my resume right now…) I study notions of identity and nationalism, creolization, syncretism, cultural contact, music and religion, cultural landscape, and preservation of intangible cultural heritage.

What I hope to do with all of this is what I’m working toward with my Master’s degree—heritage management and museum science. The training I am receiving is preparing me to be able to preserve heritage by working with cultural institutions such as museums and other cultural organizations. There are many degrees to which this is done and unfortunately, many parts of heritage fall through the cracks. So much cultural heritage isn’t written down, some would say that it can’t be written down. Much is lost through war, famine, destruction, globalization, and simple fallacy of history. Museums have the ability to both preserve and define a culture’s heritage. It’s a responsibility that I am proud to take part in.

I realize that this is a short introduction to two very large and somewhat complicated entities. What I have written here doesn’t at all encompass everything that ethnomusicology or heritage management does, nor exactly what I do/will do. But maybe it has sparked your interest. Do your own research on your own heritage or culture. Does anything particularly significant show up? I’d love to hear about it!

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A Beautiful Struggle

My name is Jill. And THIS is “Legos and High Heels!” As I prepare this first entry, I am filled with expectation and excitement and, if I’m being honest, a little bit of honest anxiety. I hope to be a blessing to those who stumble across this blog, including you! As we begin, let me share with you a little about me.

I am the mother of three handsome boys 5, 3, and almost 1. My oldest, whom we’ll call “F,” is my BONUS boy and my little fixer. If ever I’m down or the youngest is crying or something needs to be done, he is the one to pipe up. My firstborn/middle child, whom we’ll call “J,” is VERY active and funny in his own ways. My youngest child, whom we’ll call “T,” is the charmer of the three. He is ALWAYS smiling at someone! Each one is completely unique and has their own quirks, which I am confident that you will be able to recognize and possibly chuckle at as we get to know each other a little more. Can you guess their favorite kind of toy? I’ll give you a hint– LEGOS and High Heels… That’s all you get.

I have been married to my husband for almost three years. (We’ll call him “Darling.”) We met in college. He works as a road musician and is my anchor in life. He keeps me sane when times are tough and is quite simply the hardest working man I have ever known. He LOVES being a dad and husband. I am truly blessed to have him in my life.

I am also Master’s student in the FINAL STRETCH (hallelujah!) of my academic career. At least for now anyway. I studied music (specifically ethnomusicology and performance practice) as an undergrad and decided to pursue a Master’s in Heritage Management directly after graduating. Basically that means museums, cultural organizations, historical preservation, that sort of thing. What you need to know is that I have no idea where exactly this is going to take our family, but I’m excited about it. What you also need to know is that having three children under the age of 6 while pursuing a graduate degree is, well, not the most thought-out endeavor I’ve ever embarked upon. However, it has granted me a perspective that I believe will benefit our family in the long run.

Lastly, but certainly not least, I am a born again Christian. This colors the entirety of my being. Christ is my rock and my salvation. My ultimate pursuit in life is that I be the woman that He created me to be. That He be able to use me as a tool to further His kingdom. This identity that I find in Christ is an ongoing journey in which many times I fall and stumble. But every time, regardless of how far or hard, He is there to pick me up, brush me off, and set me right.

This blog will cover several themes: family, academia, and faith. There will be lots of topics and I will do my best to post regularly under those themes. Many topics may be controversial to some. I hope that you will adhere to one request– Respect. I realize that many people will not agree with my views and that is 100% great! Our country still maintains the First Amendment, our freedom of speech. I will fight for that freedom with the tools I have been given. I request that you as the reader show respect in your comments. If you choose otherwise, then I will exercise my freedom to hit the delete button.

I am so excited to be wading through this personal experiment with you. I hope that you will find this a blessing, a hope, an encouragement, perhaps educational, and an entertaining experience!

Until tomorrow,

Jill

UPDATE: Today marks the beginning of Blogging 101, a workshop-esk resource that WordPress has developed to help young bloggers begin blogging daily. I am VERY excited to be a part of this group and can’t wait to see what happens in the next 30 days!