Memory Laning: Semana Santa

I’m guessing that you have lots of questions about my life pre-blog.  Because it is just the kind of gal I am, I thought I’d regale you with some tales of life before 2010.

Travel back with me to yesteryear.

Let’s start with Guatemala.  Tiffany and I went there over spring break in 2008 to visit her little sister Amber who was studying abroad in Antigua.  It just so happened that our spring breaks at work lined up with Holy Week (the week proceeding Easter).  We had no idea what a treat we were in store for by heading to Antigua for Holy Week.  Other than the insane crowds, we also got to see some awesome traditions. 

we were greeted by crowds like this upon our arrival.

Hopefully I’ll get my facts right.  This was a few years ago, so if something doesn’t seen accurate, go ahead and fact check it against Wikipedia, or some other reliable source. 

During the week leading up to Easter, the people of Antigua have these incredible processions.  People dress up in purple robes and carry this enormous wooden floats down the cobblestone streets of the city.  On the floats are scenes depicting the last week of Jesus’ life.  Following the floats is a band playing funeral music.

The people of the city create beautiful ornate alfombras, or carpets, on the streets where the procession will be walking.  These are made of flowers, plants, and/or colored sawdust.  They were amazing.  We were lucky enough to watch some people making them.  They spend so much time on them, and then the procession walks right over them. 

One night I remember holding candles while there was a scene taking place outside a big building on the edge of the central park.  It was all in Spanish, but still really awesome to see. One night we got up in the middle of the night (I’m thinking it had to be Good Friday) to see a procession.  We debated the virtues of sleep, but in the end decided that it was literally going right in front of our doorstep, so we may as well get up, since the funeral march and the crowds would wake us up anyway. 

It made me feel a little sad that the biggest procession was on Good Friday.  I wanted Easter to be the biggest deal.  He is risen!  He is risen indeed!

It was a really incredible thing to see though.  Although it would be cool to experience Antigua at its normal population, not with the ridiculous crowds for Semana Santa, I’m so glad that we happened to travel at that time. 

More on Guatemala later.  Don’t even worry.

Draw a Chicken

I love teaching about illustrations and illustrators.  One lesson I like to do every year is watch popular children’s book author/illustrator Jan Brett show us how she illustrates a chicken.

Then we all try our hand at illustrating a chicken.

Sound easy?  Try it for yourself

Check out our artwork.  Some are terrifying.  Some are impressive.  I’ll let you decide which camp my drawing falls into 😉


Tag! I’m it?

So, approximately five years ago, Kat tagged me with 11 questions.  I figure since I have nothing else to say to you today, I should probably get on answering these questions.  I’m fairly certain you are all dying to know the answers.  Sorry Kat for taking two weeks to answer.  And sorry internet that I will not be thinking of my own questions to pass on to others.  🙂  I just can’t pull it together today.

  1. Are you a shoe person or a purse person?  Purse.  For sure.  I do love cute flats though.  But heels scare me and my clumsy nature.
  2. What’s your favorite scent?  Lilacs in the spring.
  3. Cloth napkins or paper towels?  Cloth napkins are fun, but in life I generally use a paper towel.  I am just not that fancy.  Although one time at my sister’s work party at Oceanaire, I felt incredibly fancy that they gave you a white or black cloth napkin based on the color of your pants/skirt.
  4. Your house is burning down.  What three non-living things do you grab and why?  My camera.  My computer.  Magic the Unicorn.  Why?  Because my computer has all sorts of memories stored on it and I would be sad to watch them be burned up.  My camera is replaceable.  But it would be easier to not.  And my roommate would miss Magic way too much.
  5. Would you ever admit to having road rage?  I wouldn’t go so far as to say I have road rage (or really rage in general in life)  But am I an impatient driver at times?  Yes.  I have no car horn so occasionally I will tell another driver (from inside my car) that I am shaking my fist at them.
  6. Have you ever purchased something off of Etsy?  If so, what?  And was it fabulous?  Or was it a Regretsy?  I purchased ADORABLE baby hats for my friends’ babies for Christmas.  And it was a definite WIN.
  7. If you could take one news station off of the air, what would it be? Fox 9.  Drama, Drama, Drama.
  8. How would you rate yourself on a scale of one to crafty?  We assume that rickrack is somewhere in the middle.  I would say crafty with a side of, “doesn’t sew”
  9. What’s your standard drink order at a restaurant?  Diet Coke.  At El Rodeo, my family’s Friday night standard, they often have a pitcher of Diet Coke at our table upon our arrival.
  10. Share your definition of the perfect home-cooked meal.  Bonus points if you share recipes too.  Hmm… I would have to say that if I am actually cooking, I like the rare occasions where I have someone else to feed – otherwise I am eating leftovers for five years and eventually grow to hate the delicious food I had made, because I’ve eaten it for way too many meals in a row.
  11. Plaid: Do you wear it ironically, because it’s comfortable or never?  I think I have one plaid shirt.  I don’t know when the last time I wore it was.  But I support the wearing of plaid.  I think it is cute and comfy.  Which is really a fashion success story.

Secret Talents

Sometimes in life, you discover you have secret talents that were even secret from you.  You might wonder, “Is this a fluke?  Like the time I used my ski-jump shaped nose to launch a peanut butter M&M off my nose and then caught it in my mouth?”  But then it happens again, and you realize this is probably actually just your calling in life.

For me, my newly found secret/creeper talent, is finding people’s little known look-alikes.  First there was the case of Amber and the Life Board Game Model.    I didn’t realize at the time that my skills actually encompass more than the game of Life.  But also Life Magazine.  In an issue from 1940/41, I found another friend!  Turns out that she has a secret life (or a doppelganger – it is hard to know which) as a Washington DC debutante.  Here she is, photographed primping between dances.  She offers advice that it is never too early to start taking care of your skin.  Moisturize, ladies.  

the friendship chronicles: Kari!

Sometimes in life, friends request a personal blog post.  So the proper response, in my opinion, is to have your camera at the ready each time you see them, whatever the setting.  Once you gather enough photos, you can write a blog post.I would like to share with you a typical day in my friendship with Kari.  Usually this starts with Kari arriving to my house.  She typically is bringing flowers, balloons, or puppies for me, but this time I let her in anyways, even though she came empty handed.  That is just the kind of friend I am.  After the initial greeting, Kari likes to take time to say hello to all of my roommates.  It is important to her that no one feels left out.  After hello time, we settle in for some friendship time.  Sometimes this involves dancing to music videos of fake kids’ bands, baking, and talking about life.  I like Kari a lot.  She makes me laugh and has good stuff to say.  I like hearing about where her life has been and where it is heading.  And about the right now stuff too.  Our friendship began when she attended the rigorous cupcake camp.  I think she’d agree that experience really made her into the person she is today.

This time, we made cupcakes from a box.  I know.  We were shocked too.  We read the directions and thought, could this really be so simple?  Although things seemed so easy, we didn’t want to take any chances.  We made sure to time each step perfectly, sometimes shouting and leaping in our panic.

One of my favorite things about Kari is that she does my dishes.  Anytime!  I can call her at 1pm, 1am, or anytime in between, and she is there.  What’s that?  A fork left out on the counter?  Call Kari!  Can’t get that food off my pan?  Call Kari?  A tupperware container growing mold on some 2 month old leftovers?  Call Kari!

She really is the best.

this week’s Uganda thoughts

This past weekend I got all my flight information for the summer (In case you missed the memo, I will be going to Uganda as a summer missionary!)  Having travel dates and a plane ticket arranged…  wow…  it makes this 1000x more real.

It makes going more exciting, but the plane ticket home also make the reality of leaving after two months all too real.  I will undoubtedly miss my friends and family in the States and be excited to see them again, but I also thought about how hard it will be to say goodbye.  Right now I only know these kids names, but I already care about them.  And it is only March.  How will my sister tear me away in August?  (don’t worry mom, I promise to come back).

Tonight at Bible study, Beth Moore was teaching on James (which makes sense, since our study is on James); specifically James 3:13-18.  Her points were answering the question “What is the good life?”  She had a lot of great insight to share, but one that stuck out to me was point number 3: The good life is one that is full of mercy.  This is taken from James 3:17, which says, “but the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”  Beth made a couple of comments that I keep turning in my mind and in my heart.  The first was to ask of yourself and God, “What does a life full of mercy look like?” Secondly, don’t let yourself become overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of suffering in the world.  It is important not to take on God’s responsibility – you can’t fix everything.  It isn’t your job to do so.  But what really got me thinking and encouraged me was that to be merciful, I have to be willing to be emotionally involved.  I know that after pouring love into these orphans, it is going to hurt to leave them.  But the hyperbolic question in response to that concern is, “Is that pain going to kill you?”  The pain means that you love.  And yeah, sometimes that might hurt, but it doesn’t mean you should stop loving.

Secondly, in my birthday card from my grandparents, my grandma wrote some words that have just stuck with me and encouraged me.  She writes, “We are so excited for you on your plans for this summer… Sounds like a real challenge – will be different from your last mission trip.  We’ve never been to Africa but have a number of missionary friends who have.  We’ve started praying for your time there.  I’m glad you are doing this since we can’t anymore.  It is good.”  Hopefully they won’t mind me sharing their words with the world (or all 12 of you reading this), but it just really touched my heart.  My grandparents did short term missions work for a period of time and I’ve always thought it was so cool what they’ve done and where they’ve traveled.  I’m glad to be able to continue on in their legacy of telling others about Jesus.

An Afternoon at the Library

Sometimes life calls for reading more than fairy poetry.  (not always.  but on some rare occasions)

And because my friends are awesome, they invited me to an excursion into the past, via the James J. Hill St. Paul public library.  We entered the periodical room full of hope and anticipation, and the magazines spanning the last century did not disappoint.  I looked at National Geographic magazines from 1905 and enjoyed Life magazines from the 1940s.  Vogue, Vanity Fair, Saturday Evening Post, and Ladies Home Journal are just a few titles that we perused during our time in history. 

I was fascinated by reading interviews with Neil Armstrong, learning about the lives of socialites, getting tips for cleaning my kitchen, seeing photographs from the earthquake and subsequent San Francisco fire, figuring out what should be in my traveling wardrobe, reading an interview with Winston Churchill, seeing presidential campaigns from the days of yore, looking at heartbreaking photos of Jewish refugees trying to go to Israel after WWII, and more.

But the most entertaining part by far, was the advertisements.  I loved that they were like stories.

And I loved all the relationship advice I took home that day.  If I follow all the advice I saw, I will probably be married by spring break.  Here is just a sampling of the pearls of wisdom that history shared with me.

this article offered some insight into what guys and girls are thinking on first dates

when in doubt, cook campbell's soup! that is the way to a man's heart

this cartoon goes on to tell you that dating isn't just about good breath and general cleanliness, as other ads might lead you to believe. You also need to have plenty of pep. And that you can get from eating cereal with plenty of vitamins in it!

a question not to be taken lightly

the headline says it all

Happy President’s Day!

I’m not going to lie.  I’m a little bit disappointed in myself that I have no formal President’s Day celebration planned.  We all remember last year, right?  No?  Let me refresh your memory on why it was the best Presidents Day.

First of all, we spent most of that day at Spring Training with the MN Twins.  They loved seeing us there, and according to this birthday message that Amber delivered on their behalf, they are struggling without us. (Boys, you could easily solve this by purchasing tickets for us.  Money does not grow on trees, but you could afford it better than I can).

Dear Laura, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Our hearts are so sad that you are not with us in Florida. We could have ate cheetos together at lunch or showed you the best outlet deals (this is a specific note from Drew). It is hard to practice today without our #1 fan in attendance but we will do our best. Look out for our special bday present to you–winning more than games than losing in 2012! Have a wonderful day, you mean the world to us.
The Minnesota Twins 

More important than our time with the MN Twins was our Presidential reports that we prepared pre-vacation and brought with us to Florida. Each of us had a uniquely formatted presentation.  Some with visual aids, others with books, photos, or a 6 foot long acrostic.  Yes, we are in fact that awesome.  A night of learning and patriotism.  I think Washington and Lincoln would have been proud.  

Because I’d imagine you are hoping to make your own day a little more presidential, here are some links to check out:

Little Known Facts about Presidents

George Washington Loved Ice Cream and Other Fun Facts about US Presidents

These are straight from the White House, so you know they’re legit.

I can only hope that Amber will show up to Bible study tonight wearing her most patriotic shirt.  (hint, hint)

Meet Magic. My pet unicorn.

It was a glorious day when Magic the Unicorn came into my life.  It was quite unexpected, really.  I was sitting, innocently chatting in Jill’s kitchen, when Rachel arrived.  But Rachel didn’t arrive alone.  Nope.  Rachel looked a bit wind-blown, because I’m pretty sure she rode Magic over a rainbow and through the skies to come to my birthday lunch.  How she said goodbye to Magic, I will never understand.  But don’t worry, Rachel.  Magic has a good home. 

If you too are considering a pet unicorn, there are some things you should keep in mind.

First of all, if you are going to the arboretum, or really anywhere, you will need to get a trustworthy unicorn-sitter.  These are not easy to come by.

Secondly, unicorns really are magical.  If you are driving home and suddenly need to slam on your brakes, unicorns will act as an airbag, saving your camera and pretty tulips from smashing into the ground. 

Thirdly, unicorns are really easy to talk to.  They are nice company while sipping coffee and reading a book in the morning. 

Fourthly, unicorns don’t always have a lot to say.  This can be nice if you need to some time to think.  But if you are driving in the car together, sometimes they are so quiet that you forget they are even there, and then you see shadowy movement out of the corner of your eye and you will jump and feel all panicky and scared.  Then you will bravely peek over and see that it is just your pet unicorn.  And all will be right with the world again. 

Fifthly, unicorns never turn down a game of Candyland and will always compliment your hair.

So really there are only pros to having a pet unicorn.  Go lasso one in a nearby field today!  Or you can always come over and hang out with me and Magic.

I’d love to chat more, but I think I hear Magic calling.  I promised that we could watch My Little Pony on Netflix.

I am blessed.

This has been one of those days that just blows me away with encouragement.

I have to admit, I was not as excited as usual for my birthday – maybe I’m just tired of getting older?

I was much younger in this picture. And my sister was super excited that I had arrived in her life.

But my birthday just served to remind me of how blessed I am.

To be perfectly honest, if you’d asked me at pretty much any point growing up what I thought my life would be like at 29, my answer would not have described my current life.  The journey God has taken me on certainly has not been at all what I expected.  But I then today I thought about how God has taken such good care of me, and blessed me with so many amazing people in my life, and given me some incredible opportunities.  I still am excited for what He has in store for me in the future, but looking back, I also would not have want to have missed any stops along the way or missed out on the ways He has worked in my life up till now.

Facebook tells me that 103 friends posted on my wall to wish me a happy birthday.  What facebook doesn’t tell you is how awesome it was to receive some encouraging notes from many unexpected, yet awesome people.  From my high school youth pastor’s wife, to my missionary roommate in Japan, to co-workers, to friends, to family.  I just felt so lifted up and cared about.

Then there are the friends who sent me an evite to a fun birthday afternoon in my honor… they literally made an evite just to invite me over.  I felt so special!

I also got to have dinner with my amazing family tonight, and my aunt made me delicious mint chocolate cupcakes.

Cards were written, phone calls were made, texts were sent, gifts were given, and time was spent with people I love.  It was wonderful.  How did I get so lucky to have such encouraging, fun, loving, generous, and amazing friends and family?

The past few weeks have been kind of rough.  Sometimes you just need to feel loved.  And today I certainly did.  Thanks friends!  You are the best.  For reals.  I love you all.  And tonight I will go to sleep with a smile of my face.  🙂