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.


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


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 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! :)