Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Black Music Notes

I wanted to finally share the details of how my music teaching business has grown! Michael, the most awesome hubby ever, built me a fabulous website at to assist with all the growth that has occurred. It is a thing of beauty. 

As some of you may know, I record all my voice lessons for my students to listen to in between lessons as practice tracks, or to brush up on their warmup skills, or just to hear how much their voices have changed over time. I used to share these mp3s with students through Google Drive, but not anymore! Now, my website is built with a student login and each student can access their files and receive email notifications when new files are uploaded!

Also, I'm no longer limited as to how much storage space I have for files because Michael has hosted the website on our server downstairs in our home's "command center".

The website gives info about voice, guitar, and music therapy (even though I am not currently practicing).  I still need to add an "About Me" page with a picture and do some refining on the wording on the other pages, now that everything is officially launched and I've had some time to re-examine what I want to say and how I want to say it. Michael is currently working on a calendar feature which can be shared with each student and they can receive email or calendar reminders about lessons. Just a few things to always improve. But, all in all, isn't it a great website? I'm loving it!

And lastly, I wanted to share a video of myself performing at the Christmas Recital I hosted in December. I know many of my friends have wanted to see my performance! All my students did an awesome job and I was so proud of them, seeing as it was their very first voice recital. I was relieved that everything went VERY well, without any major hiccups or issues. Please be kind when watching my performance, as I was in the middle of a rather terrible 3-week long cold and had barely any voice the day before. Tender mercy that I was able to sing at all, and for that I was very grateful!

By the way, listen for my daughter "singing" near the end of the song at about 2:45. Yeah, it's cute.


So, let me know your thoughts. I'd love any feedback on the website. And, if you have compliments to give me on my performance (hehe, just kidding)....

Monday, February 23, 2015

1 YEAR OLD {Jessica}

 Hhhwha?!? How did this happen? How did my little squishy, tiny leg rolls, faux-hawk, brand new, pink-smelling baby turn into a 1 Year Old? She's practically a toddler. And yes, I know that I just screamed the blog post title at you (all caps, what can ya do?).

These next two photos were really close to Jessica's face because she wanted to come up and grab my lens. I just kept snapping pictures and even though you can't see her full head, I love the joy and laughter depicted in them!

1 Year Stats:
Weight: 18.63 lbs (11%ile)
Height: 27.01 in (3%ile)
Head Circumference: 17.7 in (42%ile)

Dr. Conover said that Jessica is perfect and growing well, she's just going to be short and tiny like her Mommy! But, her head is cute and round, and the biggest thing about her. We joke that she needs room for that big smart brain to grow!

 This looks like she was sad, but actually she was just incredibly focused on the camera. Hehe.

 I've been realizing that I use the word "fun" about a million times to describe everything that surrounds Jessica. It's very true, life is just so fun right now. And I can't think of a better word describe it. We are having the time of our lives with our girl. She brings pure sunshine and joy into our home and hearts!

 Crazy baby. She decided to put her little mouse finger puppet in her mouth and start crawling around. And then...this picture just happened. Not sure why her eyes got all big and scary at this moment, but this picture is gold. Blackmail gold. 15 years down the road :)

 Isn't this just the most precious "in the moment" photo you've ever seen?

Exciting Updates:
She's "talking" like crazy. Using the new consonants s, g, l, and the "th" sound. And is really into the vowels i and e, along with oo and ah.

Jessica is always pointing at things to show us what she sees and has discovered. This is accompanied by some type of word she's created for that object. We're seeing consistency in "words" and particular objects, even though it all basically sounds like gibberish right now.

Jessica know the sign language for dog, which is sticking your tongue out and panting. Anytime she sees a dog or puppy in a book, in a picture, on the tv, or in real life, she points to it and starts panting. That is, if she's not just squealing and laughing with delight. She loves dogs and any animal, for that matter.

She loves looking out the window in the back door while eating her meals. It's a perfect spot for her to spy on the neighbor's dog and anything else interesting outside. This usually results in long conversations between the two of us about what she sees.

Also related to the backdoor. I will usually tell Jessica when it's close to Daddy coming home and she will lean up against the glass in the back door and stare at the garage until he drives up. Once he opens that side door to the garage and she catches a glimpse of him, she squeals, giggles, and smiles such a big smile because she is so happy to see him. She loves him so much and he absolutely loves this little tradition we've started. Who wouldn't love coming home to such a greeting from the two girls who mean the most to him in the whole world?

Jessica has become my "yoga baby" or "yoga girl". I just recently started doing yoga each morning in the living room through the youtube channel for I love this website and their videos. Seriously, I have learned so much and it makes me grateful to be able to exercise in the comfort of my own home. It has also been great for my flexibility, relaxation, and stress levels. Jessica joins right in with me each morning. She will go over to where I keep the mat rolled up, pull it out (and complain to me if she can't quite get it all by herself), then when I put it in the middle of the room, she will roll it out and sit herself down in the middle, all ready to go! She imitates me quite well through all the poses and does a better downward dog and cobra than I do!

Jessica is pushing and pulling herself to standing more and more everyday. Something that we're pretty sure was a direct result of the benefit of doing yoga with mommy. All that practice doing downward dog really helped her get confident on her feet!

She has started to become even more snuggly, something that makes both Mommy and Daddy very happy. And she's very attached to one fuzzy pink blanket. She has to be wrapped in and hold it while sleeping, nursing, etc. If we put it around her and on our shoulders, she'll lay her head right down and snuggle so close. She usually grabs a corner and rubs her cheek with it as a self-soothing measure. It's the sweetest thing.

Jessica is a pro at drinking from a straw. I didn't realize this is sometimes a later skill to learn, because she's been doing it for months. She loves her straw sippy cups and really drinks very well from them. Which is great, because who couldn't use more hydration?

Jessica has now started wanting to try on my shoes, slippers, flip-flops...anything that goes on my feet she feels should be put on her feet. She'll pull them off my feet, or bring them from across the room, then hand them to me and lift her little leg in the air, ready for me to put them on her feet. And so the diva behavior begins. I can't wait for her to start wanting to play dress-up. Now that is going to be incredibly fun and entertaining!

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

White Chocolate Toffee Brown Butter Cookies

These are my new favorite cookies to make. I was having a serious craving the other night, after about a month of detox from the holidays, and I wanted to make this exact recipe because it is awesome. Something about the browned butter combined with white chocolate, and how the toffee gets all melty. Yep. Fantastical. 

And I know that's not really a word. But I just couldn't think of anything else to best describe these cookies. So, make these today...yum!

White Chocolate Toffee Brown Butter Cookies
(adapted from Baker By Nature)

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted until browned
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 bag white chocolate chips
1 bag chocolate toffee bits

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large cookie sheet with parchment.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat melt butter, whisking constantly, until it reaches a golden brown color; remove from heat at once.
  4. Transfer melted butter to a large mixing bowl or stand mixer. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add egg and mix for 30 seconds; the egg will not be totally incorporated. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing just until combined.
  6. Stir in the white chocolate chips and toffee bits.
  7. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon form cookies with the dough and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake cookies in the oven for 10-12 minutes, just until they start to brown on the edges.
  9. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yields about 3 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas..2014

We had a very special Christmas this year. Our first with Jessica in our lives, and she made the entire time special and so fun. It was a Rougeau Christmas, so my brother Michael and his wife Natalie came to visit, along with my mother. We rode the "North Pole Express", also known as the Heber Creeper, and got to meet Santa, eat cookies, and drink hot chocolate while singing Christmas carols on the train. It was cute.

Christmas was filled with seeing lights, getting some last minute shopping in, and just hanging out. We read the Christmas story from the Bible in both English and French, and even sang some carols out of the French version of the LDS hymnbook. The hubby and I have really felt strongly how we need to be more centered on Christ and family throughout the holidays and we definitely feel like we got a jumpstart on those traditions this year, as we are now more than just a family of 2. Anyway, pictures are included below for your perusal. Fun memories to cherish!

The Blacks on Christmas evening! We love our little family!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

11 Months {Jessica}

Wow. Am I ever late with this post?!? Jessica is turning ONE in just two weeks, so I better tell you about her journey to 11 months before it's too late!

These pictures are from the Christmas holidays, specifically our ride on the North Pole Express in Heber, UT. She was super duper cute, flirting with everyone on the train, so I thought using the photos from that day would be great. More details about the rest of that excursion along with other Christmas related photos to come in a separate post!

 Our sweet little family of three. We're pretty cute, in my opinion!

 Look at those long eyelashes. And those chubby cheeks.

 This is Jessica staring at Santa. She wasn't scared at all! Maybe that would've changed if she had to sit in his lap all by herself. ;)

 I sure love being this girl's Mommy. It's one of the greatest and happiest blessings of my life. 

 Exciting Updates:

She can clap her hands, but it's not the typical flat-hands-against-each-other deal. It morphs from flat right hand and left hand in a fist, to flat right hand and left pointer finger sticking out. So so so cute.

Michael taught Jessica to say "ho ho ho" over the Christmas holidays. Sounds more like "oo oo oo" very quietly, but incredibly adorable.

Jessica knows how to fold her arms when we pray, specifically when it's time to eat. Her little arms just clasp on top of each other in front of her tummy. Anytime I sit her in her booster chair at the table, she folds her arms, waiting for someone to say a prayer!

She knows how to high five.

Two teeth (the bottom middle two) are finally coming in! It's about time!

She is so close to climbing onto things, as she reaches up and tries to pull up on anything within sight. And when she's crawling on the floor, she tries to push up onto her feet. Standing isn't too far behind!

We also taught Jessica to do the classic exhale of "ah" after taking a sip from her sippy cup.

She really loves her "Dada" and will say his name anytime he enters a room or she hears him come down the hallway. When his car drives up after work, we like to wait by the backdoor and watch him walk up to it. Usually she'll say "Dada" and squeal a couple times from all the excitement!

It's so cute to see Jessica doing all these grown up behaviors. And she's learning them so quickly, absorbing all this information and then regurgitating it after just a couple examples by me or Michael. We are so proud of and in love with this girl!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

10 Months {Jessica}

Here comes the overload of cute Christmas photos of Jessica! This girl is just so precious... I can't help myself! I set up a holiday themed backdrop in front of our big window in our front living room, made Jessica a cute tutu, laid down some discount wood flooring pieces from IKEA, and had so much fun in the process. Jessica was the perfect "Santa Baby" as we like to call her! I wish some of the picture quality didn't get lost in blogger, because they are all so much brighter in the editing program. But, you can still get the picture!

I can't believe that it's coming up on a year since she joined our family! This past month has shown us just how much she can grow in a short period of time. Jessica has really started to blossom in personality and has almost exploded in accomplishments. It's true that people say children do things when they are ready, and Jessica is the perfect example of that. She always takes her time, and then all of a sudden, she learns (and shows off) new things all at once! We are so proud of her.

 My current desktop background. Pretty sure I'm not going to change it for a while, even once Christmas is over.

 She's thinking, "What IS this frilly thing around my waist?"

 This girl loves her "Mr. Bear", who used to belong to Michael when he was a child.

My favorite picture. You can just see the wonder in her eyes. What a perfect Christmas photo!

Exciting updates:

Jessica is officially a pro at pushing herself up from stomach to sitting and is using this skill to reach and play with anything in sight.

She also likes to pull herself up onto her knees to reach things. It won't be long before she figures out how to pull herself to standing!

Jessica has been experiencing her first real cold and it's been a big one. We've all had it in our household, so it was only a matter of time before she got it. I just wish I could explain to her how all this discomfort will be gone soon, but, alas, we just have to "ride it out"!

She is able to stay awake for longer and longer periods of time during the day. We are on the verge of transitioning from 2 naps to 1 during the day. How did that happen so quickly?!?

Our girl has gained such an understanding of things around her. She still knows how to shake her head when I say "no", she has learned how to click her tongue, she will go "la la la" and stick her tongue out really far when she does it, she knows how to make the "Indian" sound of putting her hand up to her mouth and going "ahhh". Also, she can make this bird-type sound that I think is trilling her tongue, but I can't quite tell which part of the tongue she's using to do it.

Jessica is now learning how to fold her arms when we pray. It's so cute. We will tell her to fold her arms and then we give her an example by folding our arms. She then does her own version, by putting her hands together on top of each other in front of her. So proud of this reverent little girl.

She likes to cross her ankles when she's sitting down. It's such a dainty thing to do. We think she's trying to imitate us and how we sit "Indian style" on the floor to play with her.

Jessica is all about sorting, stacking, and moving things. Blocks, rings, and anything she can get her hands on. They go from one place to the next, and back again. She'll also hide things in the space between Mommy's legs when I'm sitting on the floor, then come back in a few minutes and pull them back out. This child has a good memory!

Our girl also knows how to give kisses. All we have to do is say "kiss", point to our cheek, and she will lean in with mouth wide open and tongue out. Nice and slobbery, just how we like it.

We're pretty sure she said her first intentional "Dada" to her daddy the other day. He came in the room while she was eating and she turned to him and said it, with a big smile. She's done it many times since. That girl sure loves him!

Jessica is scared of household items that have motors in them. Such as my hairdryer, the vacuum, a bubble blower bath toy, our blender. Poor thing, even when these items aren't that loud, she puts on a very sad face and then cries. She's always had sensitive ears!

Jessica also is very good at emulating Mommy playing the piano. She'll sit on my lap, hit the keys back and forth, then reach up to turn the pages of music, then hit the keys again, turn the pages, and thus the cycle continues. She sure is smart and super duper cute!

The "End"!