Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Bloggy Break

Don’t know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be
Awakening my heart
Breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace

Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so
Beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so
Beautiful, beautiful

Now there’s a joy inside I can’t contain
But even perfect days can end in rain
And though it’s pouring down
I see You through the clouds
Shining on my face

Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so
Beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so
Beautiful, beautiful

I have come undone
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace

(Beautiful, Beautiful - Francesca Battistelli)
(The "sunlight burning at midnight" lyric made me think of this picture that I took on the 4th of July last year :-))

What a perfect song for me right now. Everytime I turn around today, I seem to be reminded of my own failures and shortcomings. I feel like I can barely keep my head above the water. Or that I have way too many plates spinning right now, and they're all going to crash and shatter soon. Things in my life are falling through the cracks, I am upset with myself for things that I have messed up, and I just want a change. Thank goodness that the Lord can take this ugly situation, and turn it into something beautiful.

Because everything in my life feels so out of control, I've decided to take a week-long break from blogging. I won't be posting, I won't be reading blogs, and I won't be commenting until next Wednesday. I thought this would be the perfect thing to do for Easter week, so I can focus more on worshipping.

Not only will this be good because it will help me get things more together in my life, but it will also be good for my blog. I've had no inspiration lately, and I think my posts have been pretty lame. I think a week off will be good for the old blog. My blog and I are like a new couple who have been spending way too much time together, and we are sick of each other :-P

I did add a new layout and header today. I feel like this is more "me" than the old ones, and I am done doing my monthly makeovers. It's too much to worry about, and I actually like this better!

I will miss all of my fellow bloggers in the next seven days! I wonder if I will crack and sneak a peak at all of your blogs :-P I'm going to try not to, though, because I really need to step back and take a break for awhile.

Have a wonderful Easter!! Remember what Jesus did for you when He died on the cross. Let the next few days be full of worship!

And with that, I will be back in a week! (I will probably still be posting pictures in my project 365 blog, at least, so you can "see" me over there!) TTFN ;-)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


The Lord seems to be showering such blessings on me lately. I am so thankful for them all!

*Yesterday I noticed the first blooms of spring by our house

*I spent the afternoon shopping with a great friend, and going out to dinner with her at Olive Garden.

*Tried eggplant Parmesan for the first time at Olive Garden. YUM

*It is a four-day work-week

*Temperatures are supposed to climb into the upper 70s this weekend!

*"Up" arrived in the mail today! I plan on watching it tomorrow or Thursday evening :-)

*Came home from creative writing class tonight to a husband cleaning the house...without being asked or even hinted at!

*Looking forward to a great weekend which will include a day off with Luke on Friday, a double-date with some friends on Saturday, a day spent with family on Sunday, and hopefully finding something fun to do on Monday. Long weekends are the best, and so is Easter :-)

*Heading out after work tomorrow to find a cute Easter outfit. I love shopping!

Yes, I am really feeling blessed these days! And I hope you are too :-)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Best Weekend Ever :-)

What a busy weekend it has been! I have barely been at home for more than a few hours at a time (during waking hours) all weekend! It has been great, though. It was a weekend to completely forget about work and everything that stresses me out, and just have fun in the moment. I will be sad to return to the daily grind tomorrow, but the fact that it is a four-day week is going to help!

Friday night I already wrote about the amazing Trans-Siberian orchestra concert. Again, it was amazing, and you should go! Okay, end of commercial! On Saturday, I headed out with my mom and our friend. First off, we hit up a home and garden show in the area. It wasn't too big, but there were lots of interesting things to look at and do!
My favorite parts were the amazing train set/little village...
And the Gia Russa booth!
I absolutely LOVE Gia Russa products. I tell luke that I could eat their spaghetti sauce out of the jar with a spoon (which he of course thinks is totally disgusting! lol). Anyway, they had lots of food to sample, and it was delicious! I tried some of their Bruschetta (sweet pepper, I think) and it was very tasty. I will have to look for it tomorrow at the grocery store!

In addition to all that goodness, there were lots of really artsy, home-decorating booths. It was fun looking at everything!
Next on the agenda Saturday was a lunch stop at Panera. I hadn't been there in a very long time, and I forgot how much I love it! Their Cuban Chicken Panini was great :-)
The rest of the afternoon was spent shopping. We spent a good hour or so at Hobby Lobby, where I bought this adorable mug...I love that it has my first initial on it. I guess Luke will not be stealing it (we decided it was a little too girly for him anway :-P)
Then we discovered a little furniture consignment shop, which I will have to return to! My mom bought the cutest pink pitcher-and-glasses set, and I told her I will have to borrow it for my Mary Kay party in a few weeks :-)

We ended the afternoon at TJ Maxx. We spent another good hour or so in there. I bought a few new tops and the softest robe ever! I've needed a light one for the spring and summer for a long time, and I found the perfect one for only $15!! I just love that store.

As if that wasn't a busy enough day on Saturday, an hour or so after I returned home, I got a message from a friend asking if I'd go see "Alice in Wonderland" with her. I had seen it before, but I was so tired the first time I missed some things! It was definitely better the second time. It is very dark and even violent in some parts, so I wouldn't really call it a good children's movie. But as an adult, I really enjoyed it! After the movie, we went over to my friends house where we ate pizza and chilled until after 11:00! (I feel so old...11:00 would have been an early night just a couple of years ago!) And did I mention that I'm still battling this nasty cold? It was a looong day since I was sick, but so much fun!

That brings me to today. Today I was expecting to spend the day entirely alone, because Luke went to the Cavs game. I was going to do some grocery shopping and get my house back in order. It was a complete wreck after me being sick for four days and not doing much of anything! However, at church, my mom invited me over, and I had the best day with her and my dad instead!

First of all, we all went to Hot Dog Shoppe for burgers and fries. After that, Mom and I headed to a friends' house for a Silpada jewelry party. We then headed back to my parents' house to cuddle up under some blankets and watch "Julie and Julia." I had already seen it, but it is one of my new favorite movies, so I was excited to watch it again! Today was a rainy, freezing, gloomy day, so turning out the lights, closing the blinds, and then wrapping up in a big blanket and watching that wonderful movie was just the coziest, most perfect way to spend the afternoon. I even fell asleep for a little bit.

After the movie, I was planning on heading home, but then my dad talked me in to staying for dinner, too! The only problem was I had to work on my story for my creative writing was "due" today. So while my mom fixed dinner, I sat in my old (but newly redecorated) bedroom on the giant, comfortable bed with the rain hitting the windows, and typed up most of my story on my mom's laptop.

Then it was time for homemade pizza! Sausage, onions, and mushrooms. And I don't know if it was just the fact that the whole day had been so completely cozy and comfortable or what, but it tasted fabulous! Some of the best homemade pizza I've maybe ever had. During dinner, Dad turned on an instant Netflix movie, "Seems Like Old Times" with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. It was a really cute, funny movie! By the time that was over, Luke was home, so I headed home. But having a day with my parents at their house was so great. It still feels like home to me, so it was very comforting being there on a gloomy, rainy day.

This morning at church, I was having a really hard morning. I've been struggling in some relationships there lately, and this morning it all just came to a head emotionally for me. I sat in the service feeling lonely, and knowing that Luke would be gone all day. I didn't want to face the day alone, I guess. I was holding back tears all morning. After the service, when my mom came up and invited me to spend the day with her, It was like the answer to a prayer that I never even consciously prayed. God just knows what we need, even when we are too busy sulking to actually take it to Him in prayer, as I was this morning!

So overall, nothing overly spectacular really happened this weekend (aside from the TSO concert that is!) but it was just perfect. I loved every minute of it, and I am learning more and more the people who are always going to be there for me. I am so thankful for this weekend!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Tonight I had the privilege of going to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra perform their "Beethoven's Last Night" tour. Usually we just go see them at Christmastime, so this was very different. It was at a theater as opposed to an arena. They called tonight's performance-type "Rock Theater." It was very hard to describe, so you should go see them for yourself :-) If you have seen their Christmas tour, this is very different and worth seeing. It was more intimate than the Christmas concerts, and a little more "theatrical"...that's the best way I can think to describe it :-)

I'm still kind of on a high from the whole evening, so I wanted to post about it right now :-) Here are a few of my favorite pictures:

Here they are toward the beginning
The string section inspired me to try a little harder with my violin

Love this one!

Kind of creepy...That (below) is supposed to be Mephistopheles, AKA Satan, in case you were wondering :-P is a really amazing story, and Mephistopheles was a pertinent part of the story.
The first part of the concert was the story about Beethoven, and some interesting decisions he made and encounters he had on his last night on earth. The story is whimsical and fun, but also shows aspects of Beethoven's life in a real and relatable way. The narrator, as always, did an incredible job, and I really think he MADE the evening for me. After the story, they played three more songs from their newest album which was exciting!

I have said it before and I will say it again: if you have never seen TSO live, you should!! It may be a little expensive, but in my opinion it is always worth every penny. The Christmas concert is really something that is not to be missed!

In case you're interested, you can read about their 2009 Christmast concert HERE

And their 2008 Christmas concert HERE

Happy Saturday!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I hope you don't mind if I vent a little bit tonight.

I'm sick.

I felt perfectly fine when I woke up this morning. After lunch I had a little bit of a sore throat. During the afternoon I started getting congested and kept having very powerful sneezing fits. After returning home, visiting my grandma, and taking a nap, my throat caught on fire. And right now I just want to take some NyQuil and fall asleep for three days.

I have never had such a progression of illness in one day. From being perfectly fine this morning, to having some of the worst cold symptoms I've ever had tonight.

I have gotten sick like this probably three or four times this year already (although not this bad). If you know what I do for a living, then I'm sure you understand perfectly:I work in an elementary school. I get coughed on multiple times a day. I constantly see kids with their hands in their mouths or other facial orifices that I'd rather not mention. And I'm sure that when they go to the restroom before lunch to wash their hands, there is only a small percentage who actually do that. An even smaller percentage use soap, I'm sure. Mike Rowe should come to my school. I'm sure it would be his dirtiest job yet :-P

As I sit here with my cough drops, tea, and many tissues, I can't help but imagine the day when I will be free from all of these germs...for 12 weeks at least. That day is June 4, a mere two-and-a-half months away. Then I will have just enough time to recuperate before the battle begins again.

Until then, I'll suffer through this while not missing a day...I'd rather go to work sick than have to deal with sub plans.

To all you teachers out there, stay healthy! Only a little longer! I don't know about you, but I think I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


I just got home from my creative writing class, and I have 1,000 ideas floating around in my head. We are working on creative non-fiction right now. Obviously since I love blogging so much, this is my favorite type of writing that we will cover. I'm not sure what I'm going to write about, but I'm afraid I won't get anything done for the next week because I'll be so busy working on it! We are supposed to write about a memory or a story about our lives.

One idea I had was to use snippets of my past journals as the framework for a story. I have been actively keeping a journal (now a blog) since 1998. Twelve years! I guess I like recording my memories. For what purpose, I don't know. But when I experience something, I don't want it to be lost forever. I want to be able to revisit it.

I decided to share one of the poems I wrote for the class here, mostly because I think my mom wants to read it :-P It doesn't rhyme or even have rhythm or anything, so I've been told it's prose poetry. It's basically about my life and my yearning to go against the grain and live radically.

A Change of Scenery

Two tires hit the pavement and the adventure begins.
My training wheels have been removed.
I am on my own
Without even a map to guide me.

The cool breeze whispers to me as I ride along,
Asking a pertinent question:
Will I coast through this familiar trail?
Or will I risk everything and leave the beaten path?

Only one option will lead me to a beautiful view of the sunset
After a seemingly endless day.

The familiar is so difficult to abandon.

Perhaps today will be the day
My course changes.

Poetry is definitely not my thing, but I enjoyed writing this poem more than I thought I would! It was actually therapeutic for me, and helped me think through the situation. Writing it inspired me to just go for it! I can't wait to see what else I learn during the course of this class!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Recap

This has been such an amazing weekend! I had almost no obligations all weekend, and really got to do my own thing and enjoy the sunshine! Aside from sleeping a lot and watching a lot of March Madness basketball games with Luke, here is how I spent my weekend:

Saturday morning, Julie (my sister) and I made the hour drive to Aurora to go shopping at the outlet malls. It was kind of a long drive, but I enjoyed it because it was so beautiful. We got there and spent the entire afternoon strolling along through the sidewalks, into the stores, and around the lake. It was insanely busy since it was probably the nicest Saturday we've had yet this year. It was warm enough to go without a coat, but cool enough to still be 100% comfortable. The sun was shining and there was a light breeze. We had the most fun in the kitchen gadgets stores, and had to laugh at some of the silly things we found. This one almost had us in tears, we were laughing so hard:
Waste plastic much??

When we entered Aeropostale, I remembered that at the bottom of my purse I had a gift card that I had received from Luke for Christmas. I had completely forgotten about it until we walked through the doors, so that was a nice surprise! I bought a few camis.

My favorite purchase of the day, though, had to be this:
It is LIP BALM from Yankee Candle Co., which is actually shaped like their candle jars! I thought it was just too cute, and I couldn't pass it up. They also had their 3-wick candles on sale, and I bought a mandarin-cranberry one for the living room. It smells sooo good! I love Yankee Candles!

We ended the day with a walk along the lake and some delicious pizza from the food court.
I had such a good time! I can't wait until we're both on summer break so we can do things like this more often.

Later last night, Luke and I chilled at home and watched "Up in the Air." I stayed awake for probably 3/4 of the movie, and then fell asleep for the last 1/4. It was really good until that point, so I will have to watch the ending sometime soon :-P I have such a hard time staying awake during movies! Our pastor has been showing movie clips from "Up" the past few weeks in his sermons. I fell asleep through most (almost all!) of the movie when Luke and I rented it, and I can tell from the clips that I missed a GREAT movie! So Luke ordered the blu-ray on Amazon so we can watch it again! I can't wait until it gets here :-) He said it was probably one of the best animated movies he's seen. (He does not seem to have the same problem staying awake during movies that I do :-p)

Today after church we skipped our usual Hot Dog Shoppe trip, and headed to BB Rooners, a sports bar/grill, instead, before shopping for a few groceries. Later, I went to a Mary Kay party hosted by my sister-in-law. I love Mary Kay! (Although it pretty much breaks my bank, so I don't order it very often). I was recruited to host my own party, so I'll be doing that in a few weeks. (Yay for free stuff :-P)

This weekend has been so much fun, and I'm a little sad to see it end. Seriously, what happened to it?! It went by so fast! Luckily, I have a lot of fun things going on this week: Bible study tomorrow night, creative writing class Tuesday night, and then on Friday we are heading to Akron to another TSO concert!! I'm so excited! We have gone every Christmas for the past few years, but I have never seen them do a non-Christmas concert. Did I mention that I'm super excited?!!

Also on the agenda in the near future, I may be purchasing an iPod Touch!! That way I will have all the apps of an iPhone, but won't have to pay for the monthly data plan. I got a Nano a few months ago, so If I sell that on eBay, the difference won't be too expensive. I haven't decided yet, though. Do you have one? If so, do you like it??

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Have a blessed week to come :-)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome Back, Spring!

I feel so alive this morning! Today was my first day to sleep in in about a month. However, at 8:15, I was wide awake, the sun was shining, and the birds were singing. I didn't want to spend another minute of the day lying in bed. Normally when I sleep in, I wake up groggily sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 AM. But I have a feeling today is going to be a special day, and I want to be up and ready to embrace it!

Now that I'm up, the only problem is figuring out how to spend this day. I really want to go out and do something! I think I'll definitely take a walk later when it warms up more. A bike ride sounds divine, but the only problem is that I don't own a bike! So I guess that's out :-P I'll have to fix that problem soon! a nice lunch or dinner somewhere with tables outside would be great! Shopping at an outlet mall like Aurora Farms would be glorious! (That idea sounds so appealing, I just messaged my sister to see if she would be down for a trip to AF later today :-)). It is sunny, warm, and beautiful! I have absolutely nothing on the agenda for today, Julie is home because of spring break, and it just feels like everything in the universe has lined up to provide us with a PERFECT day!

It doesn't hurt at all that today is the first day of spring! We are done with winter for another 9 months! I survived it for another year! There is no sign of freezing temperatures or snow in the ten-day forecast, we have finally removed the plastic from some of our windows, we are about to retire the space heater to the closet, and all of my boots have been cast to the back of my closet. it's time for ballet flats!! Not flip flops quite yet, but I'm happy with being able to wear ballet flats since the snow is absolutely gone for good! (knock on wood).

Since I'm just so excited for spring (despite my negative post from the other day!), here is a list of things I hope to be able to do this spring (a glorified to-do list. You know how I love those!)

1. Have lunch one Saturday at Andrea's Garden. It is a cute little cafe in town that has only all-natural items on the menu. I have never been there before, but have heard so many other people rave about it.

2. Buy a bike! haha....or borrow one and go bike-riding with Luke.

3. Hit up an insane number of garage sales with my mom.

4. Do some deep spring cleaning

5. Visit Amish country! (little back-story: my parents used to drag me and my sister to Amish country about once a year or so. We hated it, and were bored out of our minds. Now that I'm older, I find myself missing those memories with my family. Isn't that funny? And especially since I've been reading some Beverly Lewis novels, I can't wait to go spend some time shopping and eating there, and maybe touring an Amish home. I'm not sure if I will go in the springtime or summer, but I am determined to visit at least once this year).

6. Play some tennis when it gets nicer

7. Make the outside of our house look pretty!

8. Take lots of pictures of flowers

I think that's enough for now. Happy first day of spring! What do you hope to accomplish or experience in this new season?

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Can we Fast Forward to Summer?

Lately it has been warm(ish)!!! I think it's safe to say that we are basically done with the ugly white stuff that has plagued us for so much of the winter. Last week the last bit of the nasty dirty snow finally melted. We have passed the time-change, so we have a lot more daylight in the evenings. It has been beautiful and sunny most of this week, and in the 50s/60s. I really am extremely excited! However, I would be even more excited if we could just skip this whole spring season and jump right to summer.

Knowing that we have come through almost 7 months of the school year is a great feeling. Yet also knowing that there are between 2 and 3 months left is hard. 11 weeks seems like an eternity to me right now. I'm right at the point where I feel a little burned out (as do most of the teachers at my school honestly) and I'm just ready for summer. I would love it if the muddy mess and naked trees that we have in March, would turn into the beauty that arrives sometime in May. I'd like it to happen right now, please :-P

Spring has never been my favorite season. I love summer, and I love fall even more. I HATE winter, and I pretty much hate spring, too. Mostly because it takes FOREVER for it to actually FEEL like spring. Usually by about the last week of April or first week of May it feels like spring, and we start seeing some flowers bloom. I just can't wait for that time. I especially can't wait until June...more specifically June 4, because that is my last day of work before summer. Trust me when I say that teachers need some down time. We would all be psycho people and probably serial killers if we didn't get a break. Especially the kindergarten teachers among us! I realize that sounds horrible, but if you haven't been there, you wouldn't understand :-P

On a positive note, it has been a beautiful week, and is supposed to be 67 degrees tomorrow. Also, Saturday is the first day I get to sleep in in about a month. I am probably a little more excited about this than I should be, and I will probably cry if my natural body clock wakes me up at 5:50 like ever other day, and I can't go back to sleep!! Don't you hate that!?

Although I still have to work tomorrow, I feel like I started the weekend off a little early by going out for Mexican tonight with my family. It was delicious, and just what I needed after an endless, frustrating day at work. Here is my sister sitting in the giant chair outside our favorite Mexican place

Have a great weekend! And if you're a teacher, we've almost made it! The school year is like a marathon, and we are nearing the end. We are weary, tired, and barely able to keep moving. But knowing we are almost there will be our motivation to make it to the end!

(I really do like my job. I'm just having a particularly frustrating week, and am feeling that itch for summer. Like I said, I'm sure any fellow teachers know exactly where I'm coming from!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


It finally happened today...I knew it would happen sooner or later...

During my daily lunch duty a sweet second-grade boy raised his hand. I walked over to see what he needed. He asked me one simple question:

"Mrs. Walrus," (the younger children don't quite have my name right yet :-p) "Someone told me you were going to have a baby. Is that true?"

I was wondering how long it would be before a student, or even another teacher asked me that question. I am the right age, there has been an epidemic of pregnant teachers at our school, and my stomach seems to have a natural pooch that looks like I'm a few months pregnant. Exhibit A:
Anyway, I can't blame the children for thinking I'm pregnant. I don't know if someone just made it up or if they are getting me mixed up with another special ed. teacher who announced that she was pregnant just yesterday.

Either way, I laughed and adamantly told him, "NO, NO NO! I am not going to have a baby! My belly sticks out a little bit, but I'm not going to have a baby!"

Now that that is cleared up, I can't help but wonder how widespread this rumor has become. I made sure I loudly told the story in the teacher's lounge during lunch in case the rumor spreads to the teaching population at the school where I work.

This situation is both funny and sad. Funny for obvious reasons, but sad because I wish it was true. I really am okay with waiting a little longer to have a baby, but it's harder when I'm at work. Last year a teacher had a baby in December and another teacher had a baby in April. This year, one teacher had a baby in December, one is due this month, and another just announced her pregnancy yesterday (and this is the same girl who had the first baby last year), as I mentioned already. And I have a sneaking suspicion that one other teacher might be pregnant too, and just not talking about it yet (I shouldn't guess things like that, because that is precisely how rumors like this spread). Anyway, when I'm at work in the lunchroom, the only things I hear about are babies, toddlers, pregnancy, morning sickness, and breast feeding. All the teachers compare their stories, and all I can do is sit there and listen and ask questions. I just wish I could join in sometimes! I wish I could be the one to announce to everyone that I'm pregnant!

Although I am feeling a little jealous, I'm actually doing a little better than I was a year ago. I know that every day that passes is a day closer to the day that I WILL have a REAL baby bump (and not a french fry or cookie bump :-P) Also, knowing that summer is near makes it easier. I wouldn't want to be pregnant when we go to Cedar Point or Disney World/Universal Studios. I wouldn't want a really pregnant belly during bathing suit and tank/halter top season. I will not be one of those woman wearing a bikini to the beach or pool with a pregnant belly. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I just know I wouldn't feel comfortable. So anyway, knowing that summer is coming makes it a little bit easier too.

I am glad I'm not pregnant at this exact moment, but that doesn't make it any more fun to know that people think I'm pregnant when I'm really not. Even if it is a bunch of second graders :-P I hope I don't hear anything else about this rumor tomorrow!

Monday, March 15, 2010


Lately I:

*Experienced my first sunny/warm days of the year last week when it was in the 60s! Spring is right around the corner.

*Went out for ice cream and then to see "Alice in Wonderland" with Mom and Julie. I struggled to keep my eyes open the entire movie. I think it was weird and good, but I was really too tired to form an opinion.

*Celebrated my grandma's 86th birthday.

*Have been writing a lot of poetry for my creative writing class, and have learned that I really don't care for poetry. I don't like reading it, and I DEFINITELY don't like writing it.

*Completed my first violin instruction book, and have moved on to book 2. I don't play very many squeaky notes anymore, but I'm still having a hard time staying in tune. This instrument is so hard to play!

*Have watched reruns of DVRd episodes of [17][18][19] Kids and Counting like it's my job. I love the Duggars!

*Have been way too busy on the weekends. You have NO IDEA how excited I am to be able to sleep in next Saturday for the first time in 28 days (yeah, I counted).

*Have been turned into a zombie because of the time change. Why do I seem to need so much more sleep now that I'm older and have a "real" job?? Why is working with kids sooo tiring?? Losing an hour of sleep did not help any of this.

*Have been planning our vacation like crazy. We may be going to Orlando in October now instead of June. We shall see.

And that's it. I am just too busy lately to spend time on quality blog posts, so I apologize! I should have some more interesting things coming up in the near future, and also some more spare time to spend on my blog. So stay tuned!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Shouldn't be Allowed to go Anywhere Alone!

Yesterday I learned that it's a really good thing that I'm married. Not only do I have a terrible sense of direction, but I also have no common sense. Luckily, Luke has a great sense of direction and a lot more common sense than I do. It's kind of fun in marriage when your spouse can make up for the things that you are bad at, or vice versa.

Anyway, back to my story. I had the privilege of being a Destination Imagination appraiser at Youngstown State University yesterday. It's hard to explain what DI is, but I'll quickly explain that my role in yesterday's tournament was to work at the Instant Challenge. During the Instant Challenge, teams of middle-schoolers had 7 minutes to complete a seemingly impossible task (I'm not allowed to mention what that task was! It's TOP SECRET information!!) My job was to rate them on how well they completed the task, and on their teamwork. It was a GREAT day! We, as in the four appraisers in our room, tried to complete the task once at the beginning of the day so we could work out any kinks in our judging, and WE couldn't even solve it! So that just shows you how amazing some of these middle schoolers were. Anyway, this is all not pertinent to my story, so I will move on.

I had only ever been to Youngstown State University maybe one time before yesterday, and I'd never driven to Youngstown myself. Luckily I was able to use a GPS to get me there. I was following this thing so closely, it could have led me straight into a lake, and I would have followed it. I can confidently say that I would not have made it to YSU without this trusty device.

When I finally made it on campus I realized that not only did I have noooo idea where my building was, but I also had nooo idea where to park. I drove around and found a little parking lot very quickly, and was very proud of myself for a moment. Unfortunately, the parking lot attendant told me that only the heads of the DI competition were allowed to park in that lot. The bad news is that I had to find another place to park. The good news is that if the head DI officials were supposed to park there, it HAD to be close to the building where the competition was taking place. The friendly attendant gave me specific instructions on where the parking deck was. I smiled and thanked him and went on my way. Unfortunately, as soon as I left the parking lot, I forgot where he had said the parking deck was. My listening skills could use a little work.

I drove around trying to find this parking deck. I weaved in and out of back roads, trying to decide what to do and where it was. I was starting to panic, when I found a parking deck across the street. I breathed a sigh of relief, and although it seemed quite far from where I thought the competition was being held, I was so happy to have found it, I just paid my $5 and parked there. One small mission accomplished.

However, once I got all of my supplies out of my truck, shut off the lights, hid the GPS in the center console, and locked my doors, the real problem began: How the heck do I get out of this parking deck?!

Seriously, had I not just pulled my car in thirty seconds earlier?! I couldn't tell if I should be going up or down, left or right, forward or backwards. I got out, and inevitably went the wrong way. I walked around for about three minutes and still could not find the exit! I felt like I was a rat in a maze! Not to mention, at this point I only had seven minutes to get to the check in area at the competition. Panic was setting in. Finally, I saw a woman get out of her car, and secretly stalked her to the exit. Am I the first person to ever get lost leaving a parking deck?! On foot?

Once out of the parking deck, I had a whole new problem. Where in the world is the DI check-in building?! My only clue was that it had to be close to the original parking lot where I had tried to park. I headed toward the first parking lot in the foggy drizzle. I was pretty much running at this point. My poor freshly-straightened hair was becoming damp and would inevitably curl and frizz out, so I was distressed. And I was asking myself why in the WORLD I had decided to wear my mary janes with the high, high heels?!

I finally came up to the original parking lot, still not even sure if I was headed in the right direction. It seemed like there was not another soul on campus at that moment. Where was everyone?? I desparately needed to ask someone for directions to Kilcawley Center. Right when I was about to burst into tears I saw it. By this time I was five minutes late, and pretty much having a panic attack (I HATE being late for things like this!!) But I had made it. I signed it and had to find yet another building where I would be judging. Thank goodness someone from the school where I work spotted me in the lobby and showed me to the other building. Who knows where I would have ended up had I not found her!

Anyway, I learned that I am practically incompetent when it comes to finding my way around unfamiliar places. I also learned that I panic A LOT when I can't find my way around unfamiliar places. It gave me a whole new appreciation for Luke.

After that whole fiasco, the day was great :-) Like a nerd, I snapped a picture in the bathroom after I changed into the free t-shirt that all the appraisers got (I forgot we would be wearing t-shirts. I wouldn't have worn my mary janes if I had remembered that little fact).
Somehow I miraculously remembered how to get back to my car after I left the building where I was judging seven hours later. I didn't even get lost in the parking deck this time, and pretty much found the truck right away. The day was ugly, but I was in a pretty good mood anyway, and snapped some pictures on my peaceful walk back at the end of the afternoon.

Here is a cute little fire hydrant I spotted outside Kilcawley Center
And I passed the Butler Art Institute on the way to the parking deck. If I hadn't been so tired with sore, sore feet and frizzy hair from the damp air, I might have thought about going inside :-) It was beautiful on the outside, and this picture does not do it justice.
Although it was a little scary being all alone in a new city, it was a great day! It made me feel a little more independent since I survived it without too many major problems, and it gave me a new appreciation for Luke's great sense of direction and navigational skills :-)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Me? Write Poetry?!

I mentioned yesterday that I have joined a creative writing class at my church. We met for the first time on Tuesday, and to say it was overwhelming would be an understatement!

Although I have been tapping into my creative side ever since I began blogging and became interested in photography, I am by no means artistic. I don't understand art. Quite frankly, some of it actually frightens me. I would have to say that I am pretty left-brained, and I just don't "get" art and artsy people. Consequently, when I found out the first two weeks we would be focusing on poetry, I had a mini anxiety attack. You want me to write poetry? Umm, does it have to rhyme? What about rhythm? Am I supposed to use iambic pentameter? My left-brained self REALLY wanted an exact formula to follow. Give me too much freedom to create, and I begin to panic.

Unfortunately, Laura, our "facilitator" (NOT our teacher ;-) gave us the freedom to do pretty much ANYTHING with our poems. She told us to write "lots and lots of brilliant poetry" before next week. Yeah, I'll get right on that :-P

Surprisingly, I have found it a lot easier than I had imagined to write poetry! I'm pretty sure it is terrible, and probably won't even compare to the work of the other artsy people in the class. However, I think I'm okay with that. I'm trying, and I'm having a lot of fun doing it! I haven't really sat down in a quiet room and tried to write at all. Instead, I have kept my trusty notebook with me most of the time, and when inspiration hits me, I'll jot my ideas down. Then later, I'll come back and try to turn them into a poem.

So far I have completed two poems. I don't feel comfortable enough to share them yet, but maybe by the end of the class I will be. I will tell you what they are about though, because I really liked the way the inspiration for the poems just hit me out of nowhere each time. The first poem is about my future baby. It was so cool that this baby won't even exist for months (wishful thinking) or years, but I was able to connect with him/her by writing a poem! Writing it was a really cool experience. Even though the poem itself is certainly nothing spectacular, I think it will be neat to share it with my first child someday :-) The other poem is a metaphor about the choices I make that will determine the rest of my life, written as a scenic bike ride. This poem really made me think as I was writing it, and it was therapeutic.

I'm excited and nervous about next Tuesday, because we will have a little workshop where we will all share two poems and critique them all. I will probably post about it next week.

I am surprisingly enjoying poetry. I'm glad we are tackling this first. If I can get through this, the next two sections will be even better and more fun. Next we are taking on creative Non-Fiction, and then Fiction.

I hope you are enjoying your week! I can't believe tomorrow is Friday already!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Didn't Want to Have to do This...

I've been feeling some frustration lately on the blog-front. I've noticed recently that I've had a lot of comment spam going on around here. I've noticed it on newer posts, and even older posts. It is frustrating! I know a lot of blogs have sponsors who post adds on their page. I think this is a great thing for people to do, and if I would ever happen to accumulate more than a couple hundred followers, I might look into it. BUT, I do not advertise for free on my blog unless it's for someone I know or for a good cause! It is so not okay for people to advertise their products and services freely in my comment section! Especially when they're advertising cigarettes or something else that I would DEFINITELY not promote! I try to delete them as soon as I find them. However, If I'm getting comment spam on posts that are months old, I'm obviously not going to catch it all.

Soooo, what does this mean? It means that I'm going to have to do what I've never wanted to do: add word verification to my comment section. I've read a lot of blog posts from people who are anti-word-verification. A lot of people say it's a pointless hassle, and even that it's rude for bloggers to add it to their page. Well I'm going to have to diasagree with those people! I'm sick of the spam comments cluttering my comment space, and it's not fair that they are trying to advertise for free when I could be getting paid!

Anyway, I apologize for any inconvenience, but you will now have to type a barely recognizable, nonsensical word every time you leave a comment :-) I hope this fixes that problem! If not, I guess I'll have to go to screening all of my comments before I publish them.

I'll be back tomorrow with a (hopefully) more exciting post! I can't seem to get any writing inspiration, even though I've got some fun things going on in my life: I joined a creative writing class at church, I'm continuing to learn to play the violin, I may be helping my mom begin a blog for our church website, I'm continuing to plan our proposed vacation daily, and I think spring has finally sprung. So you will probably be hearing about some of these things soon!

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Simple Life

Contrary to what the "I'm Currently Reading..." section of my sidebar may say, I've been reading "The Covenant" by Beverly Lewis lately. (I really need to remember to update that section of my sidebar!) I somehow have never read a Beverly Lewis book before, and I now realize that I've been missing out!

The Amish lifestyle that she writes about has me yearning for a simpler life. I could never live without electricity, but I love the idea of being completely self-sufficient. I would love it if Luke and I could both quit our jobs and raise our own animals and grow our own fruits and vegetables. We would be such hard workers, and I think our relationship would thrive. I would love to fix three hearty meals each day that would have Luke's mouth watering. I wish I could bake my own bread, tend to my own garden, sew my own clothes. A "quilting frolic" sounds like a good time to me!

I would love to give up the whole 9-5 gig (well, 7:30-2:30 in my case) and be able to have my own children and raise them and educate them myself. With the help of Luke and our families, of course. I know then I would go to sleep each night feeling satisfied after putting in a hard day's work. I would know that I was really living out my passion.

I don't REALLY want to be Amish. However, I would like to simplify my life a little. In other words, I'd like to take out a few meaningless things, and replace them with hard work and something I could be truly passionate about.

For example, I think I could cut my TV time in half. I would love to pick out a few shows to watch, and ONLY watch those shows. Nothing else allowed. I'm going to try to do this. There is no need for me to be lying on the couch watching another rerun of "Friends" when I could be spending quality time with someone, or taking care of things around my house.

I would love to be able to save some money when it comes to grocery shopping. I need to buy a lot of staple ingredients, and stop buying pre-packaged junk. This will save money in the long run. I also need to be more careful about what I buy, and how much of it. We throw away a lot more food than I'd like to, because we simply can't eat it all before it goes bad. Along these same lines, when we move someday, I wouldn't mind starting my own garden. How much money would I save on produce?! And I don't think Luke would be a huge fan of this idea, but I think it would be fun to have chickens! Free eggs! (and meat if I could ever forgive myself for killing something that would inevitably become a pet :-P) I'm not sure if I would actually save money that way or not. How much do chickens cost, anyway? I'll have to look into that. I'll probably never end up doing it, but it was a nice thought :-)

I would also love to get rid of all the "clutter" from my life. I'm talking about things like spending too much time on the internet (my number one problem!) Getting rid of my procrastination and irresponsibility issues. (which I think would mend themselves if my life didn't feel so chaotic!) Spending money on frivolous things so that my stress over money would go away. Basically, I just feel like I do a whole lot of nothing some days, and I don't want my life to be like that!

This spring and summer I am going to embark on a journey to simplify my life. I will be sure to keep you posted and let you know how it goes :-) This is probably just a passing whim, but I think my life and my relationships could benefit if I could make some changes!

How do you keep your life simple?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

An Inspiring Weekend

As I wrote on Friday, I spent my weekend at the church for 30 Hour Famine. We had such a great group of kids this year. It was really inspiring for me to be a part of it.

Friday started out with lots of games, fun, and worship time. I was with a group of sophomore girls all weekend, and they were so much fun! A lot of my pictures were ruined because my memory card went bad :-( But each small group was a "village," and on Friday night we designed our village flags, and then created cardboard villages! They actually decorated them and slept in them. So fun!
Also on Friday night we had a time of worship, and a big concert put on by the one80 Band (Luke's band!) JC let me use his SLR camera, so I took about 80 pictures. Here are just a few :-)

Here's Luke!
Right before bed, we played a game called "Persecuted Christian." (AKA "Underground Church.") We turned out all the lights in the church and the kids were allowed one flashlight per group. There were certain things hidden in the church that they had to find, and then make it to the "secret room" for a worship service. But there were "guards" hidden all around the church who would take the kids to jail and steal whatever hidden objects they had found. It's a fun game, but also helps to teach the kids what it might be like to live in a country where they would be persecuted for their faith. Before the game, all the kids gathered in the sanctuary, and the youth pastor played a video about teens who were trying to give out Bibles and attend a secret church service in Vietnam. They had to do it secretly, and stay away from real guards. At the end of the video, the kids almost ran into a guard and there is a very tense moment shot in night vision. Right at that moment, we shut out all the lights and the youth pastor blew an air horn to begin the game. You better believe the kids jumped out of their seats! It was a "fun scare," but really had them feeling for a moment how the kids in the video must have been feeling. I think it made them all realize how lucky we are to live in America and be able to freely worship God.

Saturday morning started with service projects. In my group, we made blankets to send to Akron Children's Hospital. They invited some of the widows from the church to help, which I thought was cool. So the kids were able to reach out to children and widows in our community at the same time. They really worked hard on the blankets! There were 21 kids working on them, and in 3 hours, they made 21 blankets! So I thought that was pretty good :-)

Later we had a photo scavenger hunt with our groups. We got to walk around town to take pictures of the different list items. Here are a few:
A picture of our group's reflection:
With a "for sale" sign
I forget what this one was for, but I thought it was cute :-) and you can see the flag they made Fri. night
After that, we had another worship service. It was getting closer to the end, and everyone was getting a little tired! They really didn't complain too much, though. After the worship service, we had another group game: an egg drop! With a twist...we had to "buy" supplies for the egg drop. The team who spent the least amount of money AND kept their egg intact won! Our group did a great job with their parachute-style contraption, and our egg didn't break! Although we did not spend the least amount of money of all the groups, we came out somewhere near the top.
Now it was time for our final activity before our "breaking the fast" meal. During the weekend, we had talked a lot about not only how much we need to do for others' lives, but also how much we need the Lord in our own lives. Alex, the youth pastor, had been telling the kids all weekend that there would be a baptism service on Saturday night if anyone felt led to publicly declare that they would follow Jesus with their lives. So we had this baptism service right before the big meal. I think there were about 10 kids who decided to be baptized, and even 1 leader. And the group leader of the child being baptized got to help with the baptism. Two of my girls made the decision, so I got to help with two baptisms! It was a really awesome experience to be a part of.

The baptism service was just amazing, and the Holy Spirit was definitely present. After the baptism, we officially ended our fast with communion, and God really spoke to some hearts during that time. It brought everyone together, and the sense of community was awesome. I think everyone would have stayed in that sanctuary even longer to worship, even though they knew there was a nice, hot meal waiting for them downstairs after 30 hours of not eating! I am so proud of all the teens who participated in this year's Famine! I know a lot of lives were changed, and they were all motivated to do things to help around the world and especially in Haiti.

The "breaking the fast" meal was amazing! It always is. I just hope no one ate too much and got sick! And so far, the total raised by our youth this year is over $17,000 for Haiti! How incredible that 120 teenagers can raise that much! God is so great.

I know this was a long post, but I'm just very pumped up after being with those teens this weekend! Even though I was a leader for them, they were the ones who inspired me. I'll leave with a picture of the entire group taken Saturday afternoon (picture taken by JC):

Friday, March 5, 2010

30 Hour Famine

This is my first ever scheduled post, so I hope I set everything up right, and I hope it works! As you are reading this, I am at the 30 Hour Famine at my church. The kids in our youth group have gotten tons of people to sponsor them as they go 30 hours with no food this weekend. The money goes to World Vision, and I believe this year it's all going to Haiti. Last year the kids raised over $20,000, so I'm excited to see what God does through them this year!

Luke and I were just asked to help with the Famine a few days ago, so it's a last minute thing. We are both helping with the high school group. This is a first, because every year in the past, we have been with the middle school. (Wanna hear a secret?? I'm absolutely thrilled to be working with the high schoolers this year. God did not bless we with the gift of working well with middle schoolers! ha!) We are all split up into groups, or "villages," and I'm leading a group of sophomore girls.

The weekend is going to entail lots of fun things, like games, lots of worship times, service projects, juice breaks (the kids are allowed to drink 100% fruit juice and chew sugarless gum. But no food allowed!), a big concert on Friday night, a baptism service, and a HUGE "breaking the fast" meal on Saturday night. Last year they went all out for that meal, and started preparing it Saturday morning! It's kind of worth helping with the famine just for that meal (kidding, kidding! I help for more than just the food at the end!)

I didn't attend the planning meetings, because at the time, I didn't know I'd be helping. So according to a few brief emails that I received today, I believe I'll be helping my friend Michelle lead the "blanket" service project. I'm not exactly sure what that means, but I think we're helping the kids make a bunch of blankets for widows in the church? Or maybe we're making them WITH the widows, and then selling them to raise more money for the famine? I'm hopelessly confused on the whole thing, so I'll be sure to fill you in afterwards! But it sounds cool nonetheless.

I'm really getting excited! I especially can't wait until the concert Friday night! Did I mention that the band my husband is in is putting it on? It is the last big event in the sanctuary before they tear it down to rebuild soon. So the band built stage extensions and all kinds of wild things for the concert. I think they're playing some pretty awesome songs. I'll be sure to take plenty of pictures! It will be hard to top last year's concert, but I bet they will do it :-)

I will leave you with a few picture memories of last year. I hope that you will pray with me that not only will the teens raise lots of money to help the people in Haiti, but also that their lives will be touched through the amazing experience they will have this weekend! I know my life was always touched and changed during The Famine while I was in HS!

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I'm a big nerd.

I'm sure if you've been reading for awhile or know me personally, you've figured that out by now. There are a lot of things that contribute to my nerdiness: I am practically blind, and although I wear contacts most of the time now, I opted for giant, circular glasses in junior high. I used to have braces and even headgear that I had to wear every night in bed. (Whoever invented such a torturous device is seriously twisted). I am a hardcore bookworm. I could play Tetris for HOURS. Are you getting the picture here?

Like I said, there are a lot of things that make me a nerd, but not the least of these is my love for Harry Potter. I've seen all of the HP movies, most of them two or three times. I'm about halfway through reading the books. I'm not usually too into the whole "fantasy" genre, but for some reason, when I had to read HP and the Sorcerer's Stone for my children's lit class in college, I couldn't put it down. I was so shocked at how much I loved the book, and became a closet Potterite (yes, that's a real term. I googled it). Since then, I've claimed my love for the books and movies a little bit more because it seems like EVERYONE loves them.

On a scale from 1-10, I'd say my love for Harry Potter is probably at about a 7. My sister, though, on the same scale, would rank at about a 27 ;-) She has read all the books. She was one of those nerds who waited in line at Wal Mart with a wristband for 5 hours when the last book came out. And then she didn't eat or sleep until she had devoured every last page. I'm not exaggerating. Her boyfriend is the same way. And that is why we are all so excited to be in Orlando this summer! If we go, that is.

The other day, I mentioned that another couple might be going with us to Orlando, and that couple is my sister and her b/f! The reason they want to go is pretty much solely because of the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter that is set to open at Universal Studios, Orlando this spring.

Although I'm slightly more excited about visiting Disney World, (I love Universal, but it's just not the same as Disney!) I am absolutely THRILLED to be able to visit this new Harry Potter section of Universal Studios! I've been following it's progression online since as soon as I heard about it, and I'm super excited to be one of the first to experience it! In my pre-vacation excitement, I went to Universal's website today to check up on the latest progress.

The park is going to include lots of great things from the books: Hogsmeade (for all you lay-people who are not Potter-heads, it's a shopping/dining area) complete with: Dervish and Banges (a shop for magical gadgets and instruments), Honeydukes (candy shop), Olivanders (wand shop), The Owl Post (post office), Zonkos (joke shop), and Three Broomsticks (pub). There will also be a Hogwart's Castle (the school of witchcraft and wizardry, in case you live under a rock and don't know that :-P) with a tour ride inside which I'm sure will be spectacular...I'm most excited about this! In addition there will be a mild roller coaster called "Flight of the Hippogriff," and another roller coaster called "Dragon's Challenge" which is just the old "Dueling Dragons" ride with new theming. If you are a Potter-fan, you know your heart is racing with excitement at the thought of an area like this actually existing in the world, too!

I can't wait to go and see all of the beautiful, gothic theming. I'll be sure to take LOTS (probably hundreds) of photos of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter if/when we go there :-)

Here are some pictures I found online of the progress so far. Can you tell I'm excited??
All the pictuers were found here

Here are some concept drawings:
Hogwart's Castle
Dragon Challenge Entrance
And some actual construction progress. I think it's supposed to open to the public in April or May, so I bet they're working hard!
So that's what I'm excited about today! Yesterday I wrote about how I was tired of trying to think of things to write about that I thought other people would find interesting, so I'd just write about what is on my mind. And today, this is what is on my mind!

Please know that I thought about creating a new blog used only for planning this vacation. That's how excited I am about it. Visiting Disney World with Luke has been a big dream of mine for a long time! (See?? Nerd.) So I'm going to make the most of every minute, even every minute PLANNING. And I'm an expert vacation planner...Luke is lucky I don't plan scheduled restroom breaks...that's just about how detailed I can get! So I may be blogging about our upcoming trip a lot (even though it's not 100% sure yet, I'm going to pretend like it is!) And I'm not going to make any apologies for it, because it's what I want to write about :-)

I hope everyone is having a great week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


I feel like I haven't slept in days, yet I got a healthy eight hours last night. I could barely keep my eyes open on the way home from work tonight, and I would really rather curl up on the couch for a nice, long nap after writing this than going downstairs to clean the house like I'm going to have to do. I don't know what is going on with me! My house is a complete wreck, I have clean laundry all over the place that is not even folded, much less put away. I haven't made a good, home-cooked meal in at least a week. I've been keeping my hair up and barely putting on any make-up in the morning before work. My blog posts have been admittedly lame lately, and I accidentally missed 2 days of my Project 365! I am just beyond tired, and I have no idea why. I'm chalking it up to the fact that I haven't gotten to sleep in for weeks, even on the weekend, and I'm just very weary from being frozen all the time. Thank goodness the days are slowly but surely getting longer!

This weekend I am helping at 30 Hour Famine all weekend, and next weekend I have to travel to YSU to judge a DI tournament EARLY on Saturday morning (I will explain what DI is eventually :-P). The weekend after that, though, I am going to take it easy, have some fun, and relax a little bit! My sanity needs it.

Until then, I think my strategy is to just not sit down until everything is done. Because once I sit down, whether it's right after work or at 8:00 at night, it is a major chore for me to work up the motivation to get moving again. Seriously. And as far as the blogging goes, I think I'm putting too much pressure on myself! Lately I've been trying to write what I think other people will like to read. Consequently, blogging is not as much fun as it used to be, and has become just another chore. I don't want it to become that! So I'm going to write whatever I feel like writing. I'm not going to worry about whether other people are going to think it's interesting or not. I think if I do that, it will become a lot more fun again and less of a chore. Consequently, I think it will be more interesting.

Well I'm off to start tackling some tasks on my to-do list. I've let things go for way too long! I think once I'm up and moving, I'll get my second wind!

Also motivating me is the fact that it will soon be spring. When the weather warms up, I always get a huge burst of energy that lasts for weeks. Probably because of the vitamin D that I'm finally getting after months and months without much of it. I know that winter is all but over, and I doubt we'll have any more huge snow storms (KNOCK ON WOOD!!!) It's supposed to be in the 40s a lot this week and next week, so I can officially see the light at the end of the tunnel. Temperatures in the 40s would feel positively steamy in comparison to the weather we've had all winter. It makes me feel better to know that THIS is right around the corner:
I took all of these pictures last spring at my house and my moms' house. Can't wait for more photo-ops like this again! My project 365 blog definitely needs some life like this!