Friday, December 14, 2012

Humility's role in the success of the Christmas Program!!

I know I have spoke about this a few times, but I am now blessed to see the fruits of working on being humble and simply asking for help. Today we did our first walk-thru of my program and with the help of my wonderful principal and my fellow teachers, I am finally seeing it come together. For some reason I decided to create a program with MANY moving parts but all the teachers are just willing to help me with whatever I need, including more time to practice and staying during rehearsals to control the groups :) I have been asking for A LOT more input and I am so much more relaxed and at peace, instead of just trying to do everything alone. God is good because He is here for me and is helping me tremendously through all of my supportive staff and colleagues!!

On a more silly note: I had a BLAST with the microphone today! It was so fun to have it in my hand as I directed everyone around. Another thing that I have come to realize is that I actually enjoy directing people (who knew!) Once I had an idea of where I wanted people and when, I have truly enjoyed working through my Nativity play, teaching students to cheat out so we can see their expressions and working on how we walk on and off the risers, etc... :)

So, as you can see I am starting to see everything come together, probably because I have finally realized that I CANNOT do this alone!! Nope, not possible... and yet I was trying to... silly me :)

Here is the completed program in case you were interested :) (they will be printed on red and green paper to be festive!!! :) (I had a lot of fun creating this!! :)



Thank you for all the prayers and support!! <3

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Prayers work :)

So, another first occurred today.....I was almost in a car accident! But, I was praying my rosary so I am sure that Mary saved me this morning! I was in the left lane and a very unaware child-of-God (though I was thinking other things in my head...) decided to move over two lanes without looking at his/her blind spot. Well, I was definitely in his/her blind spot and he ran me right off the road!!! So, yeah, my heart was beating quite fast, I almost burst into tears, but held my composure so that I could drive the rest of the way to work. The Rosary helped me maintain my composure and gave me so much peace. The person behind me graciously slowed down to allow me to return to the road. The first thing I did back on the road was thank Mary. I am convinced that she saved me today!! I am praying the Rosary everyday on my way to work from now on!

Prayers indeed do work!

Thank you Mary! <3

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stand still! (My new favorite phrase...)

So, as people have continually been reminding me (as necessary of course).... all the parents will love the Christmas Program no matter what, because kids are cute. I do know this, but at the same time, a Program involving the entire school community is just a little overwhelming. We have now began occasional practices in the gym which is whole new ballgame. It is just amazing how many different things kids can do besides stand still and listen to their teacher and sing pretty.... :) Of course, at the same time I need to remind myself that I was one of those fidgety kids. One of my parents' favorite stories to tell about me as a little kid happened during one of my First Communion practices. The Sister who was helping us prepare to receive our Lord had repeatedly told me and another little boy that we needed to stop fidgeting. She turns to look back at us and, as she recounted to my parents later, our faces were moving in all sorts of contortions. :) So, yeah, I was definitely one of the kids who had to constantly be reminded to "sit still!". :) :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The simplest things :)

So today I was just not having a good day, frustrated with my classes and their lack of participation. I finished off my day with my 5th graders and they seriously brightened and changed my entire day!!! They are singing O Little Town of Bethlehem for the Concert and they are able to sing the harmony! Even greater than that was the fact that I was actually able to teach them and I did not spend the entirety of the class saying "be quiet" as I do with a few classes... It is amazing how one very successful can just make your day, especially when I could tell that they were enjoying singing as well.

As a first year, my first program ever is weighing heavily on me, but I am constantly working on giving it to God! Every time I remember that He is in charge, not me, I experience peace and just simply a strong feeling that I can do it! It is a daunting task to organize an entire school in a Christmas program, but slowly it is appearing to be doable and accessible to me.

Here is the lineup for my program if anyone would like to know, it is December 20th at 7pm if you are living around the Kansas City area and would like to come. :)


Holy Rosary Wea presents…
Sing and Celebrate the 
Christmas Story

Preschool

The Friendly Beasts
I want to be an elf

5th Band
Mozart Melody
Jingle Bells

6-8th grade Band
Rockin Around the Christmas Tree
Do-Re-Mi

7th and 8th graders
The Christmas Song

Choir
Noel
Ding Dong

Sing We Now the Christmas Story
Angels We Have Heard on High 

Narration 

O Little Town of Bethlehem

Away in a Manger

The First Noel

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Silent Night
Joy to the World

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A thankful post :)

Long time, no write... sorry guys!

In light of our holiday I am going to write post on all the things I am grateful for:

I am incredibly and overwhelmingly grateful for my Catholic faith and all the love God has given me. I am more and more appreciative of my family the longer I am away from them. God has just blessed me with amazing best friends in my sisters and my parents, I just love them! I am so grateful for all the technology that allows me to communicate with friends and family, including this blog. I have learned to be more and more appreciative of silence but also the joy of organized chaos, since I miss it. I am thankful for the beauty of music, God's gift of my musical talent, the opportunity to share music with children, the amazing opportunity to share my faith with my students, etc...

I am just so blessed, I don't deserve this but God is just too good, more loving and generous than I will ever know!


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Living life with Purpose!

So, this weekend I had the amazing blessing to be able to hear Matthew Kelly speak at one of his Passion and Purpose events! If you ever have the chance to hear him, GO! He has a great Australian accent :) and.... he is incredibly inspiring and engaging. One thing that stuck in mind after this talk was his encouragement to learn how to say NO. The NO that he wants every person to say is NO to things that will not help you to be the best version of yourself. NO to things that do not follow your deepest desire. How easy is it for all of us to simply say yes to people, activities, things, opportunities, temptations, etc.. that do not help us to become the "best version of ourself" (This is one of Matthew Kelly's favorite phrases!

He spoke about so many ways of creating purpose in our lives (which is what we all want, right?). The movie "Megamind" just came in my head lol... the scene where Megamind has just conquered the good guy but now he is bored out of his mind talking to "this plastic bird toy" who is never fulfilled even though he has everything he wanted. See there is even depth in a silly movie like this. :) We all want to have meaning to everything we do, and there is meaning to be had when we live according to our deepest desires and following the whisper of God in our life.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Criticism is really a chance to grow :)

So, one of my fellow teachers came up to me last week and informed me that one of my band parents had told her that her son was not enjoying band. My fellow teacher wanted to warn me so that I was prepared. Hearing this through another teacher really hurt, but instead of dwelling on it I decided to be proactive. After hearing this comment, I made a much more concerted effort to pay attention and compliment EVERY student in the class and I would make sure that we played A LOT in class. My class is small but incredibly talkative and for the past months it has been almost half of the class time that I constantly am trying to get preteens to stop chatting. I have realized that this talkativeness was in part caused by my lack of clear plans and directions for the class. It just amazes me how being proactive in my lessons can make a night and day difference

So, because of this criticism, I am now focused on making sure my students feel like they are in a band and we have really begun to make music! My band classes on Thursday were SO productive and the kids wanted to keep playing even though class was over and they were telling me how much they loved one of our songs! It made me so so happy! They are playing Do-Re-Mi (no, their teacher is not biased towards musicals.... well maybe ;) :) ) and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree (this was chosen so that my drummer would have a much more difficult and enjoyable piece to play). 

So, yep, I know feel like a band director and I am slowly becoming excited for the Christmas Program. :) Anxiety is definitely the dominant feeling, but excitement is beginning to grow. :) Slowly but surely! 

Please keep my students and I in your prayers as we prepare for this!! Thank you and God bless! :) 

The next depression... according to 12 and 13 year olds lol

So, on Wednesday I was talking to my junior high students before my elective class that I teach. They had just finished a mock "saint election" that helped them understand how the electoral college worked, with classes being assigned electorates to vote. There were three different parties and St. Thomas More, St. Padre Pio, and st. Ignatius of Loyola were on the ballot in their 3 different parties. We had various posters up in the school with mottoes such as "Listen to your madre, vote for padre", so cute!!

So, I was in Minnesota during their election (Monday and Tuesday) and so I didn't know the result. So, I ask my students "How did the election go?!?" and the response I received was many confused faces and a student saying "Obama won...". I just love that my students assumed that I did not know what happened in the Nation.... just made me chuckle. And as I began class I asked them the question of "What is the Great Depression?" and one student spoke out "you mean the one that is going to start?..." I couldn't help but chuckle. Oh kids, they can say some very entertaining things. :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

God-incidences

I think one of the most significant mindset changes for me that occurred as my faith was and is strengthened is the joy of experiencing God's hand in my life. There are so many things that occur that many people would simply call "coincidences" but that I like to call "God-incidences". All those times that just the perfect song comes on for the moment or the thought that had been going through your head, God just placing people in the perfect spot at the perfect time...

This past weekend I had an AMAZING blessing to visit with a friend from BC and to see my sister Becca, who is a wonderful NET missionary. So, yesterday I spent the entire day with Becca and I had the very uncommon experience of meeting her entire NET team! Girls told me on her team how it is very special and almost unheard of that a family member gets to meet a whole team. Becca and I went to the NET center and randomly ran into each of her NET "brothers" and her team leaders and supervisors as well. It was such a blessing to meet all these amazing people that God has placed in Rebes' life. Another God-incidence is the fact that my friend Sarah just happened to live in Minneapolis and so it just worked out perfectly!

Life is so joy-filled when we can look at each moment and see God's hand in some way, especially those special times that things just happen :)  God is good!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Gift of Silence

I know, the first thing that you are thinking, "Meghan Gray.... silence... they should not even be in the same sentence, right?" ;)

But in my new experience in the "real world", I have really learned to appreciate the gift of silence that I have. God has blessed me with many times during my day that I can stop and reflect on all the good that He blesses me with, whether it is the sunrise and stunning fall colors on the way to work, the times in my classroom without the crazy kiddos, times in my apartment (since I don't have TV and I have very limited music, I frequently have no sounds which is weird but I am learning to enjoy it), times before and after mass, adoration, just to name a few. In these moments, because there is no "noise", I can clearly reflect on the beauty of life and learn to appreciate all the times with people I love all the more. Also, I can much more clearly see how God is working in my life and as you are reading this, you can see that I have become a much more reflective person lol :)

Now don't get me wrong, I would much prefer a loud house (especially the Gray house with it's lovely music of mom cooking in the kitchen with Kim and I just chatting with her, Becca playing her original songs that we have all heard so many times but never tire of, Jenny playing her guitar at the same time as the piano ;) (happens quite frequently), and Dad coming in after a run with his hands in the air singing "Rocky music" loudly)... I would much prefer these sounds, but God is blessing me with the eyes to look at my current calling and to see all the good in it. As I write this, I am tearing up because I really really miss the amazing place I call home (Where "when you are silent, you can hear the whisper of God...") -- ;) (people who have been to the Gray house know what I am referring to lol!

I know that when God blesses me with a family of my own that I will sometimes look for those moments of silence, so I am taking it all in right now :)

Words to inspire and bring JOY!


Saint Theresa's Prayer
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that
has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to
sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us..
This is one of my all time FAVORITE prayers! (Thank you to Jean for sharing it with me :) 
Isn't peace what we all desire and strive for? I know I do :) I just think about the feeling when you can completely let go and dances, not caring what anybody thinks about you and just LIVE, what an amazing and empowering feeling that is. To completely let go means that you don't feel out of control anymore because God is in control :) , what a beautiful paradox! 
I am praying this for each of you today on this beautiful Sunday and Feast of St. Jude :) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Singing the first year teacher blues...

So, I strongly strongly dislike grading and report cards on the computer.

I single-handedly managed to screw up about 3 of the classroom teachers' report cards because I didn't name my classes "Music" when I created classes for my grades. I unintelligently desired to venture into the world of online grading without a guide or a map... not a smart idea. So, now one of the teachers is mad at me because she had to shred her report cards because they had 3 different classes for music, instead of simply one... yep I am a genius...

I was quite upset and mad about this, but then the song "This is the stuff" came into my head and I realized that this is another way for God to keep me humble and make me realize that I am not in charge and I just have to accept some things that happen and I just can't be perfect...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another first, a BIG one!

I taught my first piano lessons today to my fellow staff member's 2 kids. I LOVE teaching piano! I did not know how much I was going to love it, so I took my time getting it started... (I know my parents are thinking..." we told you so..."-- Yes, you were right again!)

As I reflected on it, the piano was truly my first love when it came to music. The sound of the Gray household, besides lots and lots of talking, has always been the piano! What a true gift to be able to share this huge blessing in my life with children, who just eat it up!

It will definitely be a learning experience at the same time. My student who is a kindergarten boy was literally crawling his hands all over the kids and piano, constantly saying random things, looking at me about 20% of the time, playing with just his pointer finger even when I was constantly showing him that "all fingers need a chance- they need to take turns". As my friend so clearly pointed out, he is in Kindergarten, he is 5. I was 7 when I started so I will be excited to see how far he can go before he is 7! His sister, who is in 2nd will go far this year, I just know it. As long as I can get her to practice :)

Ms. Gray's Piano Studio is officially OPEN!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

here is the gift I received :)



Is this not ADORABLE!! :) 


Pretty good treble clef from a 1st grader! :)

Humbling moments are blessings (in disguise of course!)

So today I had one of the ultimate "yes-I-am-a-first-year-teacher" moments...

I invited my students to participate in this experience at St. Thomas Aquinas highschool, where they had the opportunity to play with the high schoolers in the stand during the football game with about 100 or so other Catholic school band students, grades 5-8.

So, I found out about this through an email from the high school band director. He sent an info sheet to send to parents and asked us to RSVP for our students, just for food. So, after I told me students about it, gave the paper to them, I assumed (wrongly) that I was done with my preparation. Never once did it cross my mind that it would be RIDICULOUS to ask elementary school kids to sightread! music. Yup, I assumed that the music would be given to them, so I didn't worry about it. I found out later that the music was attached to an email to directors...

So, I have 8 of my students there, one beginner flute, 3 trumpets, one beginner trombone, 2 clarinets and one sax. I forgot to mention to my students that they would be split up into instruments, so the 5th grade trombone and flute player would be on their own.

So, the entire band of over 150 5th-8th grade band members are playing in the gym and I am walking around to make sure my kiddos were good. I glance to the door and I see a high school walking out with my flute player who was crying! She was overwhelmed at the fact that she couldn't play the music (because her teacher is a knucklehead...) , but she was more upset that she was by herself and didn't know anyone. The highschooler and I finally calmed her down but I just felt horrible!!! I went to the one band teacher I know and told her what happened and then I started to cry... I am pretty sure one of my students saw me... :( So I left the gym to calm myself down.

So after this fiasco, and Ms. Gray apologized about 20 million times to her wonderful students, it was time for the tailgate. The tailgate was quite fun because I spent some quality time with my students :) Ellie, the flute player was so sweet. I told her that she could tell her mom I was a "stupid teacher" (I really felt HORRIBLE!!- It is the worst feeling to be the cause of someone's discomfort and the reason that she was upset...) So I heard her telling the others students that I told her that... but then she was like "I would never say that because Ms. Gray is a great teacher." :) :) :)

I learned what I need to be prepared for, but most of all I learned how much my students look up to me and I saw what great kids they are. I am truly blessed to teach them!

At the tailgate :) 


Thursday, October 11, 2012

What happens when a 7th grader listens to Palestrina?

Apparently this.... 

.
.
.
.
.
equals 
.
.
.
.
This.... 




I had my students listen to Palestina's Kyrie from Missa Papae Marcelli (aka one of the most beautiful pieces written, it truly elevates you). The question was "If you were going to use this music for a commercial, what product would you be selling and why?" and one of my students answered "In a commercial this would be selling toilet paper. It would be sitting on a throne and lights would shine on it. I would buy it." Who knew Palestrina could sell toilet paper? :) 

Friday, October 5, 2012

6th graders are kids

Just in case you didn't know, 6th graders are kids.

And when I say kids, I mean kids. Since the 6th graders are the "big kids" of my school, besides the 7th and 8th graders, it is easy to forget how young they are and how they are simply just trying to figure out who they are. And in the process of figuring out who they are, they are constantly testing authority (aka me, A lot) and acting quite immature. (I had a student turn her mouthpiece around backwards on her clarinet and then proceed to blow it to produce a lovely "SQUEEK", as I was attempting to talk to the band about a particular measure.... oh 6th graders... :) I gotta say tho, I am really starting to like these kids, even tho they can drive me bonkers, they are really sweet kids and quite funny!

I received my wake-up call, my "Meghan, they really are still kids, they are only 12! moment" when I had a student cry in front of me. He had given me attitude the entire class because I asked them to (shock!) stand during class because we were practicing for singing at Mass. He rolled his eyes at me, was bothering a girl next to him, gave me the "I really don't care" message through his body language, and basically was a clear as he could be to me without yelling out, that he did not care in the least bit that he was being rude and disrespectful. So, needlesstosay, I was expecting a kind of arrogant and denying attitude when I talked to him after class.

So, I was standing in front of him asking him why he acted the way he did, and he just hung his head and answered "I don't know...". Then he started crying. At first I didn't know what to do, but then I just reiterated to him that I don't think bad of him, I just want him to act better in class, that I care about him, but he needs to act better and more respectful next class. I am praying that this little moment will help him to realize how important it is to be respectful and try his best in every class.

I also know that this was God's way of gently pounding it into my head that they are just kids and they are learning how to behave and mistakes are a natural occurrence. It is also these experiences that remind me just how influential a teacher can be in a child's life, positive or negative.

The simple joys of teaching :)

Sorry, I have neglected my blog for a few days... I have been blessed to be busy with work and some social activities!

Today I received the simplest gift, but it truly made my day. Today was the day that I officially received my first homemade gift from a student!

As I was teaching my choir class (which is before school hours), a little 1st grader named Sydney walked into my classroom and told me that she had something for me. I assumed that it was just a note from her teacher, so I asked her to just put it on my desk. I was happily surprised that it was actually just a simple picture from her. Sydney had drawn a treble clef and wrote her name and the date, it was so precious! I think I am going to laminate it so it doesn't get ruined. On Tuesday I promise to take a picture of it to show you guys. :)

Another joy I received was to finally feel in control of my fourth grade class. They are usually super rambunctious and very difficult to rein in. We started recorders last week and they are really picking them up. Today, I had the idea to have some students "be the teacher", meaning that they pointed out the notes of "Hot Cross Buns" as we played them. They LOVED it! As they were "teaching" I called them Teacher- Whatever- their- name- is and I referred to myself as a student, which they loved as well.

I also had a super fun class with my second graders singing "Sarasponda" and doing lots of various actions as we sang the song. I don't know who was enjoying themselves more, me or them? ;)


As I reflect on these simple and yet amazing joys, I am overwhelmed with how much of a blessing my career of a Catholic School Music Teacher is. I mean, in what career can you spend a day singing and dancing with kids, praying a Rosary as a school (which we did today), acting silly to entertain kids/ maintain their attention, playing the piano as often as you would like (which is quite often), and just simply sharing one of the biggest joys and gifts of my faith, below my Faith, family, and friends of course, MUSIC! God is good!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

In honor of St. Therese's Feast Day (which is tomorrow)


God, in his mercy, enlightens us only little by little.- St. Therese

My good friend Maureen gave me this quote and I just LOVE it. It really makes you think, doesn't it?

He shares a little of his beautiful plan for our life each day, so that we are inspired to live in the present, the only time in which God can act in our life. 

I am praying for you all and please pray for me. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saying hello or "Hola" in this case :)

So, today I had one of those just beautiful God moments and it all started because I simply made a point to say hello to a stranger pushing a stroller. I was all ready to go on a short run and I saw Justina (isn't that a beautiful name?) walking by and something (obviously the Holy Spirit) told me to just say Hi and I just commented on beautiful the weather was. To my surprise, she stopped walking and turned to me and just agreed with me and then just started talking. She was saying how she says Hello to everyone she passes and people say "hi", then she asks "How are you?" and then just keep moving... I was telling her how I think it is so sad that no one talks to strangers anymore, really. She was just blown away that I began a conversation with her. :) (I was surprised with myself lol)

Throughout our conversation I learned that Justina is from Peru and she is here with her daughter because her daughter just had a baby. In her broken English, she recounted to me all about her life. She told me, after we had been walking for over an hour, that I must have amazing and beautiful parents (and I do!) because, as Jesus says, you only can get good fruit from a good tree, and she could see the fruit. She loved the fact that I was a teacher because she is a retired teacher, she was saying how most teachers just happen to be friendly people :) Oh my goodness, I literally could not stop smiling, it was just one of those moments. We walked to Joann's and literally just slowly walked through because Justina wanted to see what was there. When I told her that I spoke some Spanish she began to slowly say some Spanish sentences and see if I could translate and I did better than I thought I would. I was also helping her with English words.

Oh my goodness, I could just on and on about this God-incident :) Oh yeah, and another thing that came out of this. Through my understanding of what she was saying, she wants her daughter to hire me to teach the baby some music! (the baby is 7 months, so I would have to do a lot of research with what you do with a baby that young!) Her daughter loved the idea when she told her on the phone. I gave her my phone number and she said that she would call me later. :) I am still just so happy and full of joy.

It is amazing what a simple "Hello" can do!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

just found this :)

A Teacher's Prayer (Hey that's ME!) 

Jesus the Master
Never held a degree
Oh Lord, as I teach
May I lead souls to thee.
They are watching
me closely
In all that I do,
To see if my life
Is worthy of you;
So please help me each day
Be the best I can be,
That each student I teach
Will see Jesus in me.

Monday, September 24, 2012

New life goal :)

I am going to become a runner!

I have always had this desire, but then I have given up way way too quickly. Every time that I see people running, hear about marathons, my dad goes on a run, I help at a run, etc.. I have had the desire to be a runner. I guess I just had to be on my own, realizing that I was being lazy, to finally push myself out the door!

Please pray that I can keep this motivation up, because this will be so good for me! Man, it is going to require some discipline, but I am really motivated right now. All my running friends, please give me all the advice and encouragement that you can, I will need it!

New life goal: Run a 10K in the next year. (I have to set a reasonable goal, I think this is...
   
       My more far-reaching goal is to run the "Running with Cows Half Marathon" that my school puts    on in May (so I have a lot of time before then. :)

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Life is beautiful!

Just watched October Baby yesterday. If you have not seen this movie, you HAVE to! It is one of the most beautiful movies that I have ever seen!


This is a music video for the song- Life is Beautiful! (warning: it will get stuck in your head, granted it is a wonderful message to get stuck in your head.

Enjoy! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Matthew Kelly rocks my socks!!!

I know, random title... :)

But seriously, the Holy Spirit inspired me to randomly pick up and start reading Rediscover Catholicism! If you have not read this treasure trove of encouragement and inspiration, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend it! It really challenges you and makes you think!

Here are is a little part of it that really really made me reflect on my life... In the previous chapter, he had presented the lives of a few amazing saints, namely St. Thomas More, JP2, Mother Teresa, and a few more and then the next chapter he reflects on how they became holy, how they became set apart and here are self-searching questions that he posed..."What are the things you do every day, week, month? Are your habits helping you to become a-better-version-of-yourself or are they self-diminishing?... What new habits are you trying to form?...How would you like your life to be different this year than it was last year?, etc... I LOVE being challenged and these questions definitely made me think. I have definitely been lazy living by myself and not truly striving for holiness in every moment, allowing beautiful moments of reflection and opportunities to better myself to slowly and constantly pass me, without me realizing this. It is so so easy to allow these moment to pass us, we have to constantly be working for holiness, constantly going uphill, when we stop, we start to fall again.

As I reflected this morning, I have realized that God has me by myself in the "real world" for a reason. I have to learn to fully depend on Him and Him alone. Also, I am blessed with so much time for prayer and reflection and also time to give to other people in the ways in which they need. I am where I am right now, in this moment for a reason! Thank the good Lord for faith and for providing me this clarity!

I tell you these reflections to give you all a chance to reflect on your own life, to truly look at what you are doing and reflect on the ways in which you can improve in your life and strive to grow closer to God which is the only thing that will give you true happiness in this life. All of you mean so much to me, so my prayer is that you take this to heart because you will be blessed with so much happiness! Also, I highly recommend Matthew Kelly's books. "Rhythm of Life" is a GREAT one, all about using our talents and gifts in a way that will bring us ultimate happiness.

On a side note, a way in which God has been laughing at me this morning, is in the number of times that this book has basically shouted out at me, EXERCISE! Something I have definitely neglected...  I think after the 10th time he mentioned, I finally I got the hint! So, I am going on a run today! Yay! Anyone who feels a call to be my exercise motivator (or wants to be an exercise accountability partner...) , please please push me out the door to exercise, I am having a very difficult time lighting this particular fire lol :) I am praying for you all! God bless! <3

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am the young one... :)

So, funny anecdote: the teachers were all discussing what it was like to live in the 80s and what they wore, the mullet style, the perm, the bangs, etc... and I just nonchalantly say "I wasn't even BORN in the 80s..." At first, they were seriously in shock and seemed to think that I was mistaken, thinking, that there was no way that I was born after 1989... They even asked me, then when were you born?... too too funny :)

Needlesstosay, all the teachers freaked out, it was quite hilarious. Allie, who is the 5th grade teacher and I think in her early early 30s was like "that is just crazy! Now I feel old!" She was in disbelief at first, too funny :)

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Fulfilled

As a write this, I am blessed to be visiting my wonderful alma mater, Benedictine College. I cannot truly put into words how grateful I am for all that this college has given me and all that God blessed me with during my four years here. 

I say fulfilled, because as I sit here, I am surprised and yet not surprised to feel out of place in a way. There is no part of me that still wants to be here, even though it is such a beautiful place with absolutely wonderful people striving to grow closer to our Lord and Savior. I know now, with more certainty than ever, that God wants me to be exactly where I am. I received what God desired to give me in abundance while I lived at BC, but now I am definitely called to be in the "real world" and learning to depend on Jesus more and more every day. 

Paradoxically it is the experience of finally "supporting" myself that I am learning that Jesus is my stronghold and my life. The only way that I am able to accomplish what I have accomplished is through His grace and mercy. He has blessed me with an amazing family and group of friends that I have no idea where I would be without them. Living on your own, you learn what a blessing it is to be around people you love all of the time. I miss that a lot, whether is was my Benedictine family or my family, I just miss the constant opportunity to share my life experiences, day by day with my loved ones. In appreciating this blessing that God has given me through His children, I am also learning to appreciate how God is always with us. It is so hard at times to remember this, but we are never alone, never. As I drive to work I have the blessing to listen to Catholic radio, and every day, God speaks through something that I hear on the radio, whether it reminds me to pray for a certain person in my life, it challenges me to truly look at my life from a different perspective, or take something I have learned and provides a totally new perspective on life. 

Also, this weekend, the focus of my visit to my alma mater was because Matt Maher was coming to share his gift of music and praise. Now, I purposefully chose the words "share his gift" as opposed to "perform" because that is what he was doing. I could tell that he was singing from the heart and he had accepted this musical gift from the Lord as God's calling to share Him with the world. As he sang his simple, and yet stunningly beautiful adoration meditations, he was playing guitar and singing on his knees. All the lights that had been focused on him during the "concert" part were now all centered on the monstrance. 

This really hit me and challenged me. I know that God has blessed me with a musical talent and I know that He wants me to share it in some way, but in my sharing it should never be a prideful "showing off", because I am nothing without Jesus. So, God has given me such a gift this weekend to know that I am not alone and to bless me with his gift of music and praise. 

Ms. Gray lays down the law!

Teaching is a very humbling profession. It is humbling because it forces one to look at the problems in the classroom and see how your lack of discipline, clear instructions, preparation, etc... may be the ultimate cause of your students' misbehavior. I learned this the hard way with my 6th grade class. I realized, looking back at the last few weeks, that I definitely was a bit lax with this class and they completely took advantage of me. When I say take advantage, I am not saying that I had no control whatsoever, they just really struggled with paying attention and there was continually chatter throughout the classroom. 

It is so easy, as a teacher, to blame the students' lack of attention, success, or understanding on the students, but it is usually a mutual problem between teacher and students, or it is the teacher's lack of clear directions and motivation. This being said, it was a mutual problem between the students and I. They were purposefully taking advantage of the "new and young teacher" and I was not strict enough with them from the beginning. 

So, this Wednesday, it all changed!.... well kinda. The kids walked into Ms. Gray's class and saw assigned seats on the board, so of course the expected grumbling began. So, I talked to them a bit about how it was choices that they were making in the class that resulted in assigned seats. I talked to them about how it is now up to them whether they are privileged with fun interactive activities, or less fun/ more academic and simple activities in class. I finally felt like they were truly listening to me and seeing me as an authority figure. 

The exciting result of this lecture was that the 6th graders FINALLY received a sticker and they had fun in music. (They were singing the song that they learned in their classroom- Jeannie, the 6th grade teacher told me that "Hello Ma Baby" was stuck in her head now!) I can't remember if I already explained this... but my rewards system is a sticker chart where they receive a sticker when I do not have to give any warnings- warnings which are in the form of a "sad face" on the board, if they receive 3 stickers then they get to learn a fun fact about Ms. Gray. My first fun fact is that I am Left handed, it is amazing how many kids had not realized that lol :) 

The lesson that I taught them on Wed. was a lesson on Ragtime and near the end of the class, they all had a chance to play the PIANO! ( I am convinced that there is a light emanating from the piano, the kids were SO EXCITED to have the opportunity to play the simple bass line, it was wonderful!) 

So, all in all, it was a wonderful class and I beginning to really enjoy this class, as long as my expectations are ridiculously clear and my lessons are always incredibly well planned and, at least for now, they are in assigned seats. 

It was so good for me to have to "law down the law", because it is not natural for me to confront anyone, so it was a good growing experience (as I am sure this entire year will certainly be!)  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

I am blessed!

So, God has just presented me with so many gifts and blessings this weekend! First of all, it is just amazing how much more I appreciate just living near and with friends and family and just simply having someone to share about my life with. Thank you Jesus for the technology of Skype and the telephone because without that communication I would really be lonely; however, since my good friends and wonderful family are just a phone call or skype away, I am doing pretty well.

This weekend I had the immense blessing of hanging out with a few friends from BC and just being able to talk to people my age. That is the main thing that I have definitely taken for granted, conversations with people who are at the same place in life as me. My fellow teachers are wonderful and welcoming, but I can not add very much to conversations about their husbands and families... (So, my parents... lol) So, needless to say, I have been a bit starved for conversation (I know big surprise ;) Of course, I have also noticed that when I have a chance to talk to friends my age, I literally can not stop talking... even more so than normal! :)

So, I have finally found a parish where I feel at home. It is called Our Lady of Good Counsel and it is about 20 minutes from me. I walked into the church this morning with my friend Emily, and the cantor was singing the Introit! I found out at the end of mass that they have a choir that sings every Sunday at 9am so I am thinking of joining it! :) At this beautiful parish they chant almost all of the mass parts in Latin and sing beautiful hymns for the Entrance, Offertory, and Closing. And it was so beautiful because at the end of mass, the entire congregation prays the Divine Mercy Chaplet together and says the St. Michael the Archangel prayer. It is just a wonderful parish.

After mass, Emily and I went to Brunch and just had a wonderful day checking out an art fair in the Westport area of KC and dreaming about decorating our own places at World Market, when we have money, that is, one craft project at a time :) (There is some super fun and colorful stuff there!)
Emily and I- what a Wonderful  and relaxing Sunday! 

So, it was all in all a wonderful day. Now, to finalizing lessons and figuring out what my week is going to look like. Talk to you all soon! God bless! :)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A little view into my Music in Movies unit

Okay this made me really sad... 

A few of my junior high students have NEVER seen Beauty and the Beast!!! :( We listened to movie scores and analyzed what composer was thinking. I had them guess what movie the various songs came from. 

Though... another music nerd moment... I realized that Alan Menken inserted a short motif from Be Our Guest into his score for the "West Wing/ Wolf Chase" scene to create irony, since obviously Belle was not feeling very welcome when she is kicked out of the castle... :) I played it again for my students to hear it. I just LOVE the complexity that music brings to movies, we take so much of it for granted.

Okay now I am starting to sound like my sister Jenny ;) ( love you sis!) But it is really true! 

Here it is, see if you can hear it :) 


fun idea- I hope it works :)

So, on musick8.com website (a WONDERFUL resource for us crazy elementary music teachers)  I found this fun idea that brings "pop music" into the music classroom. The teacher had the idea to assign different students a part of a layer that creates the pop song, (ex. a piano player playing a simple rhythm ostinato, a student playing a steady beat on the bass drum, a student playing a simple melody on the hand drum... etc.) The class then has to listen to what they are playing and see if they can decipher what the mystery song is.

I decided to do One Direction's song "What Makes You Beautiful". (this decision was quite simple because every time that I say that I am playing a song, the kids are like "Is it One Direction???") I gotta say, this song just makes me happy and it is super catchy, AND... it is super simple! The refrain melody is literally 3 notes (do do do do do do re mi re mi re do....) (for the music nerds reading this :) As I was figuring out the rhythm (Yay for rhythm dictation coming in handy!) I realized that the refrain rhythm is actually quarter note triplets, I was pleasantly surprised with the use of this more complicated rhythm pattern. A quarter note triplet is 3 notes for every two quarter notes. (I know ultimate music nerd, but hey this is kinda my career, major, life :)

I hope that my crazy talkative 6th graders will enjoy this activity and I pray that I can harness their attention for at least 10 minutes of class... it is a definite struggle! They are great kids, they just know each other TOO well and get along really well and just well will not stop talking! If anyone has any suggestions for this lovely age group I would LOVE to hear them!

Here is the song if you haven't heard it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Listen to this one :)

Too funny :)


Catholic music nerd/ excited music teacher post, get ready

So, I was just randomly searching through my history on my computer (yeah, I know, there are MUCH better things to be doing...) anyways... I found this site, Chant Cafe, and a British guy has created a short, 6 lesson unit on teaching chant in private schools. It is COMPLETELY free and he has a great way of putting chant in context and comparing it to other forms of music that children are used to hearing. Since he is from England, his "pop music" is a bit different then American style but most of his ideas will work great!

I just LOVE this short recording he has demonstrating the various ways (the incorrect and then the correct) of singing a chant: Singing Amen and Alleluia (pop like...)

Enjoy! I am just soooooo excited that I found this! The man who created this is entertaining and he has great activities to make learning about and developing a love of chant, fun!

The internet is my friend once again! :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Some interesting things about being the new young teacher....

So, I think that a few of my students may have little crushes on me... It is just kinda funny. I am pretty sure that one little boy (a first grader!) was trying to muster up the courage to say "I love you" after he called me over and told me that he had something he wanted to say... He said "I think you are a really nice teacher" very quickly instead. I then had another student (a fifth grader, I definitely need to be a bit careful with this one...) come up to me and say, "I had a lot of fun in music", but it was just the way that he said it... Oh kids. :)

This definitely adds an extra element to teaching, that is for sure... It is funny though, because I was reflecting on when I was in 6th grade at Naples Elementary and basically every girl in the school had a crush on Mr. Beane, and I think he was around 26, and I am even younger. Girls were seriously so disappointed when he got engaged lol. I also have been thinking about my teacher in 4th grade who was a second year teacher, if I remember correctly and I remember how she still seemed nervous, which just makes me feel better that is for sure, I am not the only one! Everyone has to start somewhere.

I was talking to one of my student's parents and we were discussing how in life we are constantly at the top, then the bottom, the top, then the bottom...which I had never quite thought of. I mean, last year, I just felt so comfortable at BC and I definitely felt like I owned the place in a way. I could talk it up to anyone and I could easily show people around and explain traditions, etc... But now, a few meager months later I am back at the bottom, as the new teacher at school.

Just so you are not worried about me, I am COMPLETELY content and happy with my position, and I truly LOVE my job and all my colleagues are wonderful, even if I can't relate with many conversations since they revolve around being parents and/or being married...  :) ("So my parents did this..." doesn't really fit the conversations") It has been so great though because one of the teachers has a student teacher and so I have someone to talk to that is my age! Sadly she is only here for another month :(. And the part-time spanish teacher is a student at BC so I can totally relate to him.

So I hope you enjoyed my reflections and ramblings about being the new young (hip? ;) teacher.

God bless!
My first pay day treat!! (And I mean that this is a treat! I haven't really splurged on anything!) :)


Thursday, August 30, 2012


Following Christ has nothing to do with success as the world sees success. It has to do with love.
~ Madeleine L'Engle ~

Guess what song?!?

Guess what piece??


I will give you hints...

- I am doing a little Unit on Impressionism.

- Yes, the kids are drawing churches sinking in the water

- The composer is Debussy.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Give up???


La cathedrale engloutie! By Debussy. :) La cathedrale engloutie- Debussy

So, on this website: musick8.com I found this awesome idea for a lesson on Debussy's Sunken Cathedral. You see, in college, I did an original orchestration of this pieces, so I know it quite well. :) :) 

So I gave kids sentences which described what was happening in the music and so they drew their interpretation (hence the surfers and sharks...) I just love to watch the creativity of kids, it is quite endless. Then they had to listen to the piece and put their pictures in order of what happens in the story. They did a pretty good job, with a little help from the teacher. :) 





Monday, August 27, 2012

Nuages

So, today I had an impromptu lesson on Debussy's Nuages:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5EFJsCaY0hc

First of all, this lesson made me quite nostalgic for Benedictine and my wonderful Music History and Orchestration classes where we had the privilege to break down this piece and understand why it is so beautiful and unique and a perfect example of Impressionism.

I did my "Music Words" wall and had my 3rd graders tell me what they heard. I just loved to hear their individual and very creative interpretations of this masterpiece. The four words which my students chose were: strong, heavy, smooth and flowing. The two boys chose strong and heavy while the girls chose smooth and flowing which I thought was so incredibly interesting. The boy chose "heavy" because of the times when there was a lot of depth and a lot going on. I asked him if it could be when all the instruments were playing to together and he enthusiastically agreed. What really surprised me and truly gladdened my music teacher heart was when I asked them what type of music this reminded them of, particularly which country, and they all were like "Chinese music!" It was just so neat how they could hear the pentatonic scale in this piece.

So, as we discussed the piece I asked if there was a student that wanted to draw what they heard on the board and this is what I got...





The sun down is what he drew.... He told me that is made him think of a desert which in turn made him think of Indiana Jones! Too funny :)


Many of the students told me that it was very suspenseful. My favorite description was when one boy shared with the class that he heard "an abandoned church and then a light is streaming through one of the windows...". How cool is that? It is amazing what kids can come up with when they are given the chance!
This is my Music Words wall (the yellow part of the bulletin board) in case anyone was wondering...

Dinner is served!

So surprisingly, or maybe not so surprising... I can't decide... I CAN cook! I mean, I do have the genes since my mom is basically the most amazing cook I know. So, I have decided to share with you some of the meals I have cooked! :)

And just so no one gets worried... I am almost Paleo! I definitely cheat here and there, but almost every meal has been completely senza Gluten :) Aren't you proud??

So this is my first meal that I cooked all by myself. (For my first week I had left-overs from when chef-extraordinaire was visiting :) :)


Stir-fry complete with a Corona :) (I kinda just made this one up (well with a lot of help from Mom!)




So after I made my stir fry, I started to have a little more confidence so I have made apple pork chops for when my wonderful friends, Christine and Laura Lynn visited, taco salad, chicken caesar salad, honey mustard chicken (last night), rosemary chicken, to name a few :) 

My grandpa asked me (on the phone) what I was eating (I think he was worried I was doing takeout or just not eating lol... and then I listed off meals and he was like, "Oh, so you are cooking?" :) Yes I am and finding out that I enjoy it! 

Here is my version of chicken cacciatore kinda... I made Giada's Sauce and then googled how to saute chicken... it was quite yummy! 
Apples beautiful thinly sliced! :) 

When my friend Emily (one of my wonderful roommates senior year at BC) came over, I made her this Apple, Onion, Cabbage and Sausage Hash that my mom swears by, it was so so so good!  I loved to watch as the onions and apples were dyed this pretty pinkish purple colors from the red cabbage! (I know I am weird :) :) 


And finally, this is my dinner that I am enjoying tonight! Wellness Mama's recipe for her version of Chipotle's burrito bowl. YUM!


 I hope you enjoyed the glance into Meghan's kitchen. If you want any of the recipes just let me know. (Or if you are my mom's friend, just ask her ;)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Even if I had commited all possible crimes, I would still have the same confidence; I would feel that this the multitude of offenses would be like a drop of water thrown into the flaming furnace of God's love." - St. Therese of Lisieux


--- I heard this quote last night during a talk and I just LOVE it. We all have to trust in God's unimaginable depth of merciful love. No matter what we do or say or think, God loves us more than we could ever imagine!

A music teacher's board! :)

Thelma and Louise on their way to KS!

So, I have decided to share a little about my adventures this summer on the way to Kansas. So, as most of you may know, my wonderful amazing and super fun mom drove to Kansas with me to help me move into my apartment. My dad lovingly called us "Thelma and Louise" as we set off on this adventure. (I still don't really know what he meant by this... lol) So, on Sunday, July 29th, Mom and I drove from the Our Lady Star of the Sea parking lot on our way to my new adventure. We had decided that receiving our Lord as a family was the best way to begin this new part of my life. It was a very hard and emotional mass, but at the same time it was just so beautiful. Star will always hold a very special place in my heart. 

So, to start our trip Mom and I went to... you guessed it.. Starbucks! for the essential breakfast with COFFEE! :) So, we drove through the beautiful states of WA and Idaho to arrive in Montana. I was the navigator extraordinaire (well with the help of the Iphone and Trip Tiks lol.


 I am pretty sure this was in WA lol :) I probably should have labeled these.

 Definitely still Washington! It has such a beautiful landscape and such elegant evergreens (not the "scrubby trees of KC"- as Mom called them...


So, we stopped in Montana for our first night and we were so excited because we were able to watch the OLYMPICS! :) (Cuz us Grays are so old-fashioned without cable...) So, Mom went out and bought us beer and pizza, the perfect girls night dinner! (Just so you know the pizza had a delicious sour dough crust so it was legit...) 


 This was me being a bit artsy... :)

 Cliffs and the neatest rock formations, I truly began to appreciate the beauty or rocks and cliffs in Ireland.
 Here is the Trip Tik: So much fun to use and learn about the various places!

Our second night was spent in Rapid City, SD so that we could travel to Mount Rushmore the following day. Mount Rushmore is actually a place I have always wanted to visit, but we have never stopped there. It was so memorable to share this visit with my Mom as she reminisced on when she saw it when she was younger. :) 

 Wide open spaces!!! Journey to my new life! :)

 Good ole' Kansas, my new home :)
 And Mama by Washington of course!
 My FIRST time at Mount Rushmore, so cool!!
 There we are! :)

 The cheezy must have tourist shot :)
 I was trying to be artsy and have Mount Rushmore in the mirror, didn't quite work sadly.
 Me with guess who?? :) It was so fun to see the life size statues of the presidents.
 And mom with... Washington of course!
 "In 30 miles WALL DRUG- Free Ice Water and Coffee for 10 cents (or something like that)"
 Yep, we are definitely tourists! 

Mom the tourist... :) 

So, after 3 wonderful and full days of travel, we made it too Kansas! :) 

I hope you enjoyed my small description of my travels. And I just need to give a shout out to my parents. I would NEVER have been able to start out this new adventure without them. My dad did an amazing job packing the car, but mostly he is such a fountain of love and inspired advice. My mom was just the best travel partner and driver (yeah... she drove the whole time, she LOVES driving tho... :) She also helped set me up in my apartment, buying the essentials and stocking my kitchen with spices and other necessities (like coffee!) God has just blessed me with AMAZING parents! I have no idea how to thank God enough for them. :) 

"How is this "boring" for you?"

So, this is my new favorite quote from one of my students. One of the two (yep only 2) trumpet players in my 6/7/8 grade band said this after I stated that, "This is a 'learning' process for all of us."... I made clear to him that it definitely was not boring lol! I have decided that boring is probably the last word I would use for the wonderful and incredibly fulfilling and demanding career of teaching.

I have realized that one of my strengths in teaching is keeping the younger kids engaged and quickly changing the direction of the class. For example, instead of repeating myself many many many times to tell the students to sit "crisscross applesauce", with their hands in their lap, and with their mouths closed..." I instead, told them that my marker is a magic wand and after I wave my magic wand and open my eyes, my entire class will be seated and quiet. It is indeed quite magical to see how well this works.

Granted, there are many times that I find myself repeating those directions, but then I receive great inspirations to make it a game. It is just amazing the difference!

I just love to see kids falling in love with music and to see them start to understand the concept. It is also amazing to see how quickly the little ones pick it up. I was teaching the preschoolers (3 year olds to be exact" and I had them repeat "do-re-mi" and to follow what I did. I was singing "do" and leaning forward with my hands on the floor, and then as I raised the pitch to "re" and moved my hands a little of the floor, and then with "fa" I moved them even further off the floor... The little ones followed me AND they were singing on pitch, it was the coolest thing! I then had them listen to Vivaldi's Spring and act like "big strong trees" when the dynamic (volume of the music) was forte (loud) and then shrink to little bugs when the music dropped down to piano (quiet). The kids began to tell me when to get bigger and smaller when they started to understand the concept, I just loved seeing their enthusiasm.

Now on the other side of the spectrum, my junior high elective, I am definitely having a harder time figuring out how to teach them. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make a unit of Careers In Music (which includes a small unit on Music in Movies and a short composition project) incredibly enjoyable and applicable for the 7th and 8th graders, I would LOVE to hear it. For some reason I can teach and relate to the little ones so much better... lol. I think in a way, I am intimidated by the junior high schoolers... Don't get me wrong, the kids are really great kids. I just only have them once a week, so it is hard to get to know them and figure out how to teach them.

So, as you can see, my career is definitely NOT boring! ;)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Here it goes....

After writing my life update, I decided, well with some encouragement, that I should start a blog. I plan to truly just keep all my friends and family updated on all the blessings that God is bestowing upon me. He has just been so amazing to me in so many ways!

Thank you for all your support and love! I hope to use this tool to keep in contact with everyone and just to share my joy of life!

God bless!