Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In just under seven months my town went from being completely flattened and unrecognizable to almost normal. Over 300 homes were completely totaled but there are nearly 200 that are completely up or being constructed. If I didn't know what had happened on Memorial Day weekend, I wouldn't have known that Parkersburg had been hit. It just looks like a new subdivision right now with beautiful new homes and amazing new high school. There is still a long way to go in terms of construction, but I'm amazed at what I have seen so far.
The other interesting thing is that the spirit of my little home town hasn't changed a bit. People are still upbeat and positive. Sure the conversations now are all about the building process, but generally speaking it's as positive as it always has been, and these people lost everything.
It's amazing. I know the people in the rebuilding process, including my parents, don't feel like it's going very fast, but it really is. Consider Katrina... that happened nearly four years ago and there are still so many families without homes. This tornado hit my home town just last May and already a good chunk of the town is rebuilt. Amazing. Amazing. Amazing.
As my mom would say, it really is a miracle.
Needless to say it was extra special to be home for Christmas this year. All of my brothers made it and we all got together at my parents' temporary home. Amazingly enough it still felt like home, it still felt like Christmas, it still felt normal. This is a gift for which I'll forever be grateful.
Now if only my bags would surface... I was one of the many who got stuck in Chicago on Christmas Eve and my bags have still yet to surface... small potatoes, I know, but it really would be nice to have my underwear! :)
Merry Christmas! :)
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Merry Christmas to all! :)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Anyhow... I'm just waiting for the stain to dry; then I can move on to the next step in the finishing process. In the mean time, I have a nice cup of hot cocoa and lovely Christmas tunes playing in the background.
Life is good; it's really good. :)
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
From You I receive;
To you I give.
Together we share;
Together we live.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
The best part of the weekend definitely included the Christmas party I went to last night. It was a house party thrown by some of my roommate's friends. My roommate's band played (once the power came on-- it was out for the first three hours of the night), we chatted by candlelight, I caught up with folks I hadn't seen or talked to in a long time, and I even made a new friend. It was one of those nights when you forget to look at the time and when you do, are surprised that it's five in the morning. It wasn't an over the top party, it was just a good one, even despite the snow and cold. It had good music, good people, and good conversation. What more could I ask for? So yes, it may be cold and snowy here, but I'd still like to think I'm living in a winter wonderland.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Thursday, December 11, 2008
I see the moon and the moon sees me.
The moon sees somebody I'd like to see.
So, God bless the moon, and God bless me.
And God bless the somebody I'd like to see.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
a scenic representation in which sculptured figures and lifelike details are
displayed usually in miniature so as to blend indistinguishably with a realistic
Outsourced is the latest movie I've seen that takes place in India. It's a great independent comedy that highlights some of the sad, and sometimes humorous, realities of Western commerce as well as the quirky things that happen when one is in culture shock. If you've ever lived abroad for more than six months or have an appetite for cultural diversity, you'll really appreciate this film. Not to mention that the soundtrack is fantastic! :)
Sunday, December 7, 2008
So head on over to Grace's Birdcage Wedding to check out her series of tags on "the poems." I don't think you'll be disappointed. :)
(Photo from here)
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten.
How cool is that?? I double-dog dare you to check it out, and I triple-dog dare you to do it! :)
I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving. Mine was one for the books. My cup overfloweth. :)
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Life. The more I experience, the more I realize just how fragile it is. I love life even with its ups and downs. There is no better feeling than to feel alive.
Family. Mine was almost taken away, and as a result I value them even more than ever.
Friends. I would not have made it through this year without them, nor would I have gone on as many adventures.
Teaching. I'm learning that teaching really is just a way of life that not everyone understands. It can be really hard but is more rewarding than anything I've ever done.
Mountains. They aren't just my playground; they are also my thinking place and where I find peace. They make me stronger and help me remember that there are very few things that we can actually control.
Words. If it weren't for being able to read, write, speak, and listen I'd be lost.
Freedom. Sometimes it's easy to forget just how good we have it here in the states. Sure we have our issues, but at least we have the freedom to talk about them, the freedom to believe what we want to believe, and the freedom to choose what works best for us.
Music. It makes me whole.
Community. I've learned there is very little we can accomplish alone.
Getting by. There have been moments this past year that I barely scraped by financially, but I was always able to find a way to make it work.
Boot straps. Not everyone has them, but my parents made sure I did. I would be in pretty sad shape if I didn't have them to pull myself up with when things get tough.
(This is a video of an interview with my family. It goes to show just how much I have to be thankful for.)
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
#1 I sometimes put juice on my Rice Crispies. I don't remember where I picked up this weird habit, but I remember trying it out once and thinking it was delicious. I still do it now but only on occasion.
#2 I can speak Dutch and thoroughly enjoy singing the Dutch birthday song at the top of my lungs in public places for my friends. I don't think they appreciate it quite as much as I do, but it makes people smile none the less.
#3 I secretly enjoy a good skinny dip. I became addicted after my first attempt at a camp out with some high school classmates. I'm usually extremely modest, but I get a certain thrill from being a tad bit rebellious and liberated while swimming around in the dark (it must be dark!) in my birthday suit.
#4 I was once a fair princess for my county (a title that still makes me giggle). I didn't quite have the pleasure of being the beef queen or the pork princess, it was just Ms. Butler County. It didn't last long though. Less than 30 minutes after the coronation, I had to give up my tierra because I couldn't go to the state fair competition. I had bigger fish to fry-- my year as an exchange student to The Netherlands was to start the same week as the state fair.
#5 I snort when I laugh. It's funny how people react to this quirk. Either they look at me with disgust and say, "Excuse you," or they erupt in laughter. I have a phrase or two that helps me own this quirk: "Been snorting since '82" or "It's just part of the package." Usually these lines work to gloss things over when it gets awkward.
#6 I sing "I'm a Little Teapot" when I get scared. For some reason going back to my pre-school day memories helps ease my nerves. Perhaps it's traveling back in time to Mrs. Lawler's Wiggle and Giggle Preschool where there were bright colors, fun toys, and lots and lots of singing that puts me at ease. And maybe that's why I still like to sing an array of songs for any occasion including "The Iowa Fight Song" and the fore mentioned Dutch birthday song.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
The cool thing about Wii is that it's interactive, and the players actually have to move to play the game. So when we play golf, we actually get to practice our golf swings. When we bowl, we actually get to do the pendulum motion with our arms and that cute little foot slide-over/follow-through move at the end of a roll. The first time I played it I was amazed at how fun and life-like it was.
We haven't played Wii in a really long time. In fact, the last time I played was in Kansas City last May after my best friend's wedding. Needless to say when my friends suggested we round up the troops and play after watching a disappointing football game, I took them up on it. And, as usual, it was fantastic! :)
So here's to the Wii with all of its quirky little sound effects, cool characters, and interactiveness! Yay for Wii! :)
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The long, curved sidewalk, the wild flower beds, and the evergreens that had grown so tall.
The soft living room carpet, mom’s hand-made blankets, and those big East windows that let in the sun.
Grandma’s last quilt, Grandpa Doc’s pocket watch, and Great-Aunt Rofkins’ China buffet.
Our dinning room table, the print above the piano, the souvenir tiles mom had hung in a row.
My brothers’ boyhood toys, Mom’s Christmas pearls, and the skis Dad waxed with such care.
Mom’s wedding dress, the prom gown we both wore, and my first emerald ring.
Five years worth of my journals, four sets of baby pictures, and exotic trinkets from adventures abroad.
My favorite napping spot, my thinking place, and my refuge from the world.
All stripped away in just sixty seconds, never to be seen again.
I know it’s just stuff-- that our family made it;
I’m grateful for that everyday.
But, it still hurts to think
Of my childhood home and all that went with it,
And I hope that pain
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Dance it up friends! Dance it up :)
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Saturday, November 8, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
In one of my classes we're learning how to find theme in all sorts of things-- poems, short stories, movies, essays, and lectures. I tried to choose pieces that had a theme dealing with Carpe Diem ("To Virgins: To Make Much of Time," The Last Lecture, The Dead Poet's Society, "Contents of a Dead Man's Pocket" just to name a few). I can't helped but be amazed at what some of my kiddos are taking away from these pieces. Watching my kids not only learn an important skill but also think about what Carpe Diem is and looks like for them reminds me of why I choose to do this job. It's not about tardy policies, legislation that is setting us up to fail, or the paycheck that barely gets me by. It's about helping my kiddos learn to think and chase after their dreams. It's pretty exciting to be a part of that.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
That night, we were sitting in my friend's weaving studio, located on a two-block main street that looked like it came straight out of a magazine from the 1950s. We were trying to solve the problems of the world and were shaking off the last part of a long week. Soon the conversation drifted off to different types of people and thier personalities. We eventually decided that there should be a category of personalities named "the wandering spirits" and that the three of us would definitely fall into it.
Now, I don't remember the original definition that we came up with-- there was a lot of brew involved that night-- but I do remember that we thought the term did a really good job of describing us and how we ended up in this little one-horse-town west of the Mississippi. I also remember really liking the term and connecting to it. It somehow gave me a sense of peace about myself, a sense of belonging, and it reminded me of the wanderlust that carried me so many miles from home.
Now, two years later, I find myself somewhere new (go figure), and missing those Friday night happy hours with my fellow wandering spirits. I miss those deep conversations about life, love, and happiness. I miss playing "brain-pong" with some of the locals, listening to stories from those who had seen and done far more than me, and I really miss being surrounded by the idea of having to "make our own culture" to survive some of the tougher moments of small-town life. Those moments helped me feel whole and connected when feeling whole and connected seemed impossible. Those moments also taught me a great deal about what is really important and what's not. And, of course, they reminded me to have fun.
In an effort to pay tribute to my fellow wandering spirits, other dear friends, and to the lessons learned during the magical time I spent in that little mountain town, I've decided to create this blog. I'm also hoping it will serve as a reminder to me of what's really important and that it will help sustain the wanderlust, independence, and spontaneity that has become so central to my being.