A Snow Day

My Facebook newsfeed is covered with pictures like this

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This can only mean one thing: the first big snow of winter has hit Minnesota. And since it is on a weekend, people are choosing to revel in its beauty rather than bemoan their commutes.

On the agenda for today’s snow day:
1. Wear sweats, slippers, and a scarf
2. Drink excessive amounts of coffee with peppermint mocha creamer
3. Listen to Christmas music
4. Tomato soup and grilled cheese with bacon
5. Finish up my Bible study for tomorrow
6. Work on a Christmas puzzle
7. Watch Home Alone
8. Make hot chocolate to take on a roommate walk to enjoy the neighborhood Christmas lights and fresh snowfall
9. Warm up with cider by the light of the Christmas tree
10. Curl up under a blanket and watch The Holiday
11. Go to bed dreaming of snowmen and sugar plum fairies before returning to the reality of work in the morning

Daylight Savings Time

Daylight Savings Time stresses me out.

My roommate thinks I am ridiculous for this.

But I have a distinct inability to trust technology with this issue.

Did you really turn back time while I was sleeping?  My alarm clock, my computer, and my cell phone all agree that it is 7:30 am.  But is it really 7:30 am?  Or is it 8:30 or is it 6:30 or what is happening?  There is no way to know.  I might just be late or early forevermore. 

I rely on the analog clock in our bathroom to confirm that time has indeed changed.

My technology has never let me down when it comes to DST, but I still panic every fall and spring…

T. Swift + Pepperoni

Tonight I went over to my brother’s to help hand out candy, since we don’t get a lot of trick-or-treaters at my house.  This was the right choice for a couple of reasons.

1)  We don’t really get a lot of trick-or-treaters in my neighborhood.

2) A former student just came to the door.  Win!

3) I am getting quite the workout – whenever the doorbell rings, I have to get up, run around the couch, obstacle course my way past two dogs, run up the stairs, turn the corner, hurdle over the tiny piece of cardboard that mysteriously keeps the dogs away from the door, and greet the young children with a smile and a piece of candy.

Anyways, pack to the point: we decided to order pizza for dinner.  So the question was: what sort of pizza should we get?  I went to a couple of a different websites to see if there are any good deals for David’s neighborhood.

The best deal I found?  Ordering a Taylor Swift CD with your dinner.

Excuse me, WHAT?!?  

Yep,  you heard me right.

What I’m wondering is if anyone has ordered a little T. Swift without the side of pizza…

“Quick!  I need some Tay-Tay in my life STAT, and I can’t be bothered to run to the store.  Amazon will take at least one whole day to ship it. I almost feel really sad, but then I remember that I can just call my helpful pizza delivery guy.  Another crisis averted by my local pizza heros.”

Pizza Hut, if that is what your competitors are offering, we are never ever ever getting back together.

That was a lie.  Your competitors don’t even deliver to my house.  We are friends forever by default.

Good News!

Good News, folks!

There are times in life when people move away from us.  And that can be really sad.

But don’t despair!

I was doing a little bit of leisurely reading the other evening, and I came across this advertisement in Life Magazine circa 1957.

The good news is that we can now use the telephone to stay in touch with our loved ones.

Look at these two cute little girls.  Are they sad that their friendship is over because little Suzy’s dad got a job in Chicago and she will be moving away from her Bestie Edith in Suburbia, Missouri?  No!  They are not.  They know that they can remain friends.  Yes, because of the telephone. 

In case you can’t read the fine print of the article portion of the ad, it says, “Share the fun of friendship – even when close friends move to another city.  For the telephone can keep you in touch.  Regular visits by telephone let you talk things over, tell them what you’re doing, find how they are, make plans for getting together in person.  So keep in touch… regularly.  It’s quick and easy to do.  And the cost is small.”

Who knew, right??

Fast forward to 2012.  If you are looking for fun new features on your new iPhone 5, you need a break from Angry Birds (or whatever it is the cool kids are playing these days) or you are tired of harrassing hanging out with Siri, try using your phone to make a phone call.  Because I learned that you too can share the fun of friendship… even when your friends are far away.

p.s.  Friend (you know who you are), this does not mean I am giving you my blessing to move away 😉

love & giggles

This evening the plan was to make a ridiculous mini-documentary about school communities in Uganda for our kindergarten communities unit.  But then I got to looking at some of my other video from my time in Uganda and I kept watching these three – Don, Carol, and Emma dancing around and saying “I love you” in both English and Luganda and I figured you would probably want to see it too.  I love them so much.  Seriously – this will be the cutest 57 seconds of your day.  You are welcome.

Acholi Hospitality

One of the limited options for women in the Acholi Quarter to make an income is to make paper bead necklaces.

Here is a short video you can watch to see how these necklaces are made.  It is pretty cool!  It is only a minute and forty seconds of your life.  Just press play.

We really wanted to support these women, and let’s be honest – they are super talented and make really pretty jewelry, so Sara and Tricia coordinated a time for us girls to come back to the Acholi Quarter and buy necklaces from some of the women.

Tricia invited her first group of ladies who went through their counseling and discipleship program to come and meet with us.

We piled onto some boda bodas and headed up the steep hill to the Acholi Quarter.  We were a little concerned that we would just slide right off the back of the bodas, but everyone arrived safely.  Whew!

We walked in the doorway of Africa Arise’s office, and there were beautiful women sitting around the perimeter of the room, and the floor was entirely covered in a gorgeous array of colors and beads.  It was a sight to behold. 

Before the shopping started, we all introduced ourselves.

Soon we were able to start buying pretty necklaces from these lovely ladies.

Some of the girls were leaving the next day, so we all were counting our shillings to see how much money we had left and how many necklaces that meant we could take home with us.

Then the rain came.  And came.  And came.

Bodas would not be a feasible option to get home.  We’d have to call Godfrey to pick us up in the van.  Which would take forever for him to drive their in rainy weather traffic. Yikes.

But we were glad to have as much time as we could with these precious women.  Most of them spoke Acholi with only a handful of English words.  Yet we figured out how to communicate.

At the end, before they packed up their wares, one woman, the one who spoke the best English, came into the middle of the group and thanked us for coming and for supporting their families.  She said that if we were to visit the an Acholi family in their home in the north, it was their custom to invite you in and offer you some tea.  It is seen as an honor to entertain guests in your home, so she said that they would then give their guest a gift to thank them for coming.  She said that they did not have any tea to offer us, but they are still honored by us coming, and so they’d like to give us a gift.

Then these women, who have so little in this life, stood up and walked around to each one of us, putting necklaces on around our necks.

It was one of the most special and humbling experiences I have ever had.

I was so grateful they let us visit them and were willing to sell us their jewelry.

I was so grateful to have the opportunity to help support their families.

I was so grateful for just the smallest glimpse into their lives and into their love.

Yet they were the ones thanking us.

They were giving us gifts so freely.

I was overwhelmed in the best way possible.

That is a culture of generosity.

That is love.

Africa, you have my heart

Well guys, we all knew it would happen, but I think I left my heart in Africa. 

Someone once told me you need to experience Africa with all of your senses.  So sometime when we sit down and chat about my summer, don’t be surprised if I don’t have the words to adequately describe this beautiful place to you.

After somewhat recovering from the jet lag that comes with travel, I have started working on posts about the rest of my time in Uganda.

Those will start going up tomorrow.

But for now, as I relax up at the cabin and enjoy spending time with my family, I just want to gaze at these little faces of the little ones who will forever be in my heart.  

Inspirational Pig

On Saturday I graduated with my Master’s of Arts in Education. 

In the morning, I was met with a graduation gift from my roommate and one of the most inspirational cards I’ve received in life… I originally wasn’t sure I was going to walk, because it seemed kind of anticlimactic, coming over a month after finishing classes and when we had barely stepped foot on campus prior to graduating.  But I’m glad I did. It was fun to celebrate with those in my cohort, my friends that went through the program with me, and my family and friends.  

The ceremony was pretty brief, so that was much appreciated by all.  I can’t say that the speakers really inspired me to go out and achieve my dreams, but where graduation speakers fail, the inspirational pig comes to the rescue.

A gift from Rachel, he now sits proudly on my shelf, inspiring me and encouraging me each day.  I mean, we are only on day 3, but it has been pretty life changing.

Feel free to bookmark this post so that you can come back often to re-read what the Inspiration Pig has to say.  I know it will change YOUR life too.

And my personal favorite… Thank you for coming into my life, Inspirational Pig.  I don’t know what I did without you for all these years.

A Sunday evening smattering

1. Sitting on a wooden swing with some sunshine, a puppy, a book, and some pomegranate lemonade really makes for a blissful Sunday evening.

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2. Dog sitting on the other side of the cities is a great way to practice being away from your roommate. Unfortunately the joy of being reunited after one week makes it questionable how two months apart this summer will go.
3. Being able to FaceTime with your dad while he is in Florida and you have managed to completely mess up the tv at your parents’ house is a beautiful thing. “show me the three remotes. Now press this button on this remote and show me what happens to them tv…”
4. Photo scavenger hunts are great.
5. This week a student asked me in the middle of a math lesson, “is the red tailed squirrel rare?”. I should probably start researching that
6. Thank you cards from 7 year olds are the best.
7. Shout-outs in sermons are an excellent surprise
8. No bugs because it is March is awesome.
9. All the cool teachers buy shoes to match their student teacher. Right?
10. I am glad that sundress season is once again upon us.
11. Sometimes dog collars are really confusing contraptions. But more on that later.
12. Drew Butera is no longer catching for the Twins. Awesome. We are hoping Rachel will run into him at the outlet mall, shopping away his sorrows, when she is in Florida this week.

Sister Spa Day!

As you may or may not know, Rachel surprised me on Friday with a delicious brunch downtown and then a day at a fancy spa (the spa is cousin’s with The Westin, my favorite hotel chain.  She knows me well) where we pretended to be fancy ladies of leisure.

I don’t have any pictures of the event, but don’t worry, I DO have pictures of a similar completely different spa-like experience that we had four years ago outside of Tokyo.  I will do a little compare and contrast with you.  It will be like we are making a venn diagram with our words. (this sounds exciting!)

That spa was called 

This spa was at the Ivy Hotel.

……

At both spas we got bathrobes to wear.  Although, they looked a little different. 

……….

At that spa we bathed in red wine 

At this spa we showered at the end with fancy bath products.

……..

At that spa we met Kung Fu Panda. 

At this spa we met a hilarious couple of guys who were getting pedicures before heading up to the cabin for the weekend.

……….

At that spa we had Doctor Fish eat away all the dead skin off our feet.

Yes, I realize my sister isn't actually in this photo. This is in Okinawa with the other missionaries at OCSI. A few weeks later I introduced Rachel to Dr. Fish.

At this spa we got pedicures.

………

At that spa we bathed in green tea. 

At this spa we had the opportunity to drink green tea or any other kind of tea you could imagine.

……….

At that spa we bathed in coffee 

At this spa we got facials.

……….

At that spa we swam in Rose Water. 

At this spa we got manicures.

……….

At that spa we stood under tiny waterfalls. 

At this spa we got massages.

So in summary, I guess I’d say our experiences were more different than similar.  Huh.

Was it amazing?

Do you even have to ask?

Thanks Rachel!  You are so thoughtful and generous and basically just the best ever.  I’m so glad that you survived February and I finished grad school.  And I’m so glad you are my sister!

(even if I do push you out of pictures we take together)