December 30, 2012

A Hilton Head Christmas


Two things:
1. I joined 2012 just in time and upgraded to a smartphone. Consequentially, I got Instagram! PTL.
2. I have spent the past two weeks (almost) in Hilton Head, celebrating Christmas and, other than going to the Outlets almost daily, doing not much else than being with my family.

However, thanks to #1, here are some Instagram snapshots of our time in HHI:





Tomorrow I'll be riding the rails back to good ol' Virginia for a reunion of sorts with my college friends.  I cannot wait.

December 25, 2012

A Thrill Of Hope...



“Praise the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has visited and redeemed his people.
He has sent us a mighty Savior
from the royal line of his servant David,
just as he promised
through his holy prophets long ago.
...We have been rescued from our enemies
so we can serve God without fear,
in holiness and righteousness

for as long as we live."
Luke 1:68-70, 74-75

...The weary world rejoices.

Merry Christmas!

[Image by Lindsay Letters]

December 16, 2012

I Did It!

Currently Listening To: Christmas Lights, Coldplay
Yesterday I Saw: The Hobbit!


I actually finished my scarf several days ago, so apologies if you have been waiting with bated breath to see my knitting progress. (I know you were.) I am much obliged to Julia, for helping me start, and Amy, for helping me finish.

In other news, I am in Hilton Head, and will be through Christmas. Yay!

December 12, 2012

Jingles & Bells


Regarding Christmas music, I stand by this playlist I posted last year.

I also adore and am instantly joyful whenever I hear this example Michael Buble Christmas jubilation:

(this, and "All I Want For Christmas Is You" are definitely top 5 contenders, as far as non-carols go.)

But I also wanted to share with you some good news which, if you love Ben Rector like I love Ben Rector, will have you shouting "it's a Christmas miracle!" Because you can download his holiday album fo' free on NoiseTrade. Click on the pic below to take you there! (Thank you to Abby for telling me about this last week!)


You're welcome and Merry Christmas.

December 11, 2012

My Kids

Currently Watching: Downton Abbey

1st Block
3rd Block
4th Block
It's my first official day of Christmas break, but I am definitely missing my kids. I am grateful, though, for the good time I had with them and especially for the beautiful binder I received full of notes and drawings they made me. "Thank you Ms. Black for teaching our class and how much effort you put in even though their wasn't any pay but even so we tried give you respect and love," says one note. And this one: "So I am sad you have to go but you will make a great teacher. But don't have butterflies because your class if there not that well behaved they can smell you fear..."*

They really are the best.

*After typing these up, I have realized the there/their confusions are more prevalent than I realized. Too bad I'm not there any more to help them work on that...

December 7, 2012

Last Day


Tomorrow is my last day of student teaching. It blows my mind to be on this side of something that I've known is coming for several years now, that seemed so big and daunting when it was summertime and I was looking towards it (and it was big and daunting, I was right about that).

And while it is nice to have made it through and survived and to get to have a nice long Christmas break now, it's a little sad, too. Because I really love my kids, and seeing them everyday and walking the halls of my school and doing lunch duty and photocopying things and telling students to get out their books for SSR has been my normal for about four months now.

As I was thinking about this earlier, I came up with a few other things I am going to miss:

- Post-it notes stuck to my computer with lists of names of kids who owe me work

- Learning fun facts about hunting (did you know that a deer doesn't respond to sound, aka you could yell "Deer!" and it wouldn't run, but rather movement?). Also, how to wear your hat if you consider yourself country.


- Having the key to open stuck lockers, and saving the day for a student who is scared of being late to their next class
 

- Being asked if I'm married three times a week
 

- Hearing random statements like these (all verbatim, I write things like these down as soon as I hear them): "I'm horrible at whistling. I can call bats, though." "YOU're a hyperbole story." "Faith, you look like Rosa Parks." "Do you have a Mr. Black?" etc.

- Playing 'four corners' on Fridays when we have a little extra time

- The fact that 6th graders cannot keep secrets very well, meaning that I have been trying to remove myself from conversations all week where they start to let slip something about what they are planning for me tomorrow.

I can't wait to be surprised by it. 

December 3, 2012

Knitters Unite

Currently Listening To: Don't You Worry Child, Swedish House Mafia 
 

As of yesterday, we are an apartment of knitters. Lesson #1 happened last night, courtesy of Julia, and now we are on a roll. Or a skein, if you will.

Actually, I'm a little mad at my knitting right now because even though I'm doing all the right steps, and I just restarted on bigger needles (as opposed to the ones shown above) so I can actually feel like I accomplished something, it just looks like a tangle of knots right now. Apparently that's how it's supposed to look in the beginning, but I'm not convinced.

Have you ever thought about the mechanics of knitting? What is actually happening, and how it works? I hadn't. Did you know that you begin with a series of loops (stitches, technically) down one needle, and then you use your other needle to go through and around over, and loop more yarn through? That the process of knitting a row essentially involves moving all the stitches from one needle to the other, and kind of adding more as you go? And then you switch hands and do it all over again. And again, ad nauseum. It is a very intriguing and complicated process..and obviously one that I am still trying to grasp the hang of.

Please wish me patience and perseverance as I continue in this endeavor. Fingers crossed I'll have a beautiful teal infinity scarf to show you sometimes soon. Right now, though, that's looking a little ambitious...

November 26, 2012

I'm Lichen This Hikin'


In the past month or so, my roommates Taryn and Abby and I have had several (two) hiking adventures. Our fourth roommate Julia has been absent for all (both) of our hikes, which is ironic because she is the coolest, adventuriest, outdoorsiest person we know (girlfriend bungee jumped and skydived in New Zealand. Need I say more?). But while she was at work saving lives in the ER, the three of us who are teachers took our days off to hike a little. As you can tell by the title of this post, we are incredibly funny people, and naturally some funny adventures occurred, including but not limited to realizing I had left the car keys in the car (thankfully, the car doors didn't lock for some reason, aka Jesus) and emerging on the Blue Ridge Parkway about a mile away from where our car was. I was all for hitchhiking, but not enough cars drove by.

Now that Thanksgiving Break has happened, Taryn, the photographer, has put pictures up so I can finally share them with you. (The trials of a blogger without a camera. Mine died a sandy death on Beach Week...RIP.) Get ready to be blown away by the glory of autumnal Virginia.

Hiking Adventure #1: White Rock Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway.

  

 


Hiking Adventure #2: House Mountain, Lexington VA

a view of House Mountain from Abby's home




Hiking with these two has been a good time. And stay tuned...there's talk of hiking Old Rag in the spring!

P.S. My Thanksgiving was wonderful, thanks for asking. I spent it at the home of one of my favorite, funniest friends from college, Taylor. She lives in Memphis this year, so it was so good to see her, but it was also wonderful to be at her home in Poquoson, VA, to hang out with her family, and to meet a bunch of new friends.

P.P.S. This also happened when we were at Abby's home in Lexington, where we hiked House Mountain: 

November 20, 2012

On Gratitude

Currently Listening To: Brooke Fraser
About To: pick up my friend Taylor at the airport and head to her house for Thanksgiving! Midnight roadtrip, here we come.


Step 1: read this post by Kate Elizabeth Conner.

In case you didn't read it, let me summarize it for you. What Kate puts forth about gratitude is that "our being “touched” is not the highest purpose of gratitude.  The higher purpose is to be moved." There is a progression that takes place: gratitude brings perspective, which brings awe, which brings contentment - but this is not the end. Contentment should then bring conviction; conviction, action. "The logical extreme then, the inevitable end of gratitude, is a life marked by consistent, intentional, extravagant generosity."

I love this. And I am convicted.

It brings to mind the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, which I read this summer. "We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks," she says. "Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to his grace." Also: "What precedes the miracle is thanksgiving, eucharisteo, and it is a Greek word with a hard meaning that is harder yet to live. Do I really want to take up this word?" This book traces the difficult, glorious pursuit of living it out.

And finally, another thought that intertwines well with this train of thought, by Karl Barth: "Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice an echo. Gratitude follows grace as thunder follows lightening."

I wish I had a concise way to wrap all these thoughts together, to weave them into a polished paragraph to finish out this post that leaves you inspired, but I don't. These are just the pieces that have been working their way through my mind these past few days and that are still sinking into my heart. And I hope they work their way into yours, too.

[image source]

November 18, 2012

Post-Grad Life

Currently Listening To: Cruise, Florida Georgia Line

In case you were wondering what grad student/student teachers do in their spare time, I decided to Things I Did This Weekend (spoiler: it's not the like the crazy days of undergrad where weekends involve 84038 different events with 487 different people):
  • Went to the library book sale for their HALF-OFF days, and stocked up on Young Adult books for my future classroom library. (I had already bought a stack earlier in the week, so in total I ended up with 18 books for $17.50. What a steal. Also, here is the stack of books I scored for FREE from my school earlier this semester:
 
So, even if I have no idea where I'll be next year, at least my students will have books to read.
  • Checked out Charlottesville's brand new Trader Joe's (!!!!!). Along with half of Charlottesville. We managed to somehow get an incredible parking spot and made it out with scratch-and-sniff stickers and three-buck-chuck, so we're counting that as a success.
  • Watched UVA beat Seattle in basketball...after watching UVA lose miserably to UNC in football on Thursday night. (Actually, this has been a big week for UVA sports in my life, in that I went to two football games in one week, after going to none all semester. The one last Saturday was a winner, with a close one-point win in the last couple seconds and getting to rush the field...)
  • Hardcore cleaned my room
  • Saw a play in which two of my students performed. (When I told my one student that I was coming, she ran over and hugged me, then said "I just have to warn you that it is PG-13 because there are swear words." Duly noted.
  • Overcame extreme adversity to successfully make pumpkin pie for a Thanksgiving dinner with friends
  • And spent my Saturday evening huddled beneath blankets (our heat is broken) watching Downton Abbey. 
It's not glamorous. But it's been pretty enjoyable. Excited for only two more days before Thanksgiving break!

[picture 2 via Julia, picture 3 via Kristen!]

November 14, 2012

Daily Life With 11-Year-Olds

Currently Reading: Al Capone Does my Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko
Today is Exciting Because: Trader Joe's opens in Charlottesville!!!

Here is one thing I love about teaching middle school: they do all the same things I did in middle school. I mean, the doodles, the funny sayings, the jokes.

You know that bubble-letter 'S' that looks like this?


They still draw that.

You know that thing where you write T-H-I-S across your fingers and draw a bug on your palm and say the "This is Buggy. Buggy says "Hi"..." rhyme? They still do that.

Then there's the boy who likes to say "You dropped your pocket!" and laugh hysterically when you look down (I only fell for it the first of the 48392 times I heard this), and the girls who put exclamation marks after everything, even their names on the tops of worksheets. Seriously, it's like these things lurk in middle school hallways, just waiting for the next group of kids to attach themselves to.

But what else is funny is what happens when you give middle schoolers technology: you get to see typical middle school obsessions and behaviors unfolding in new ways. At my school, every student gets a Netbook, and one of my student has a background that rotates through pictures of One Direction. A lot of my students have iPhone or iTouches, and one kid showed me an app yesterday where you take a video of someone, and then you can add an effect where they are blown up or, in this case, a giant boulder drops on their heard. (It was actually pretty amusing.)

The moral of the story, then, is this: 11-year-olds will be 11-year-olds. And I get to be entertained by it every day.

[image source]

November 7, 2012

Trouble

Our apartment has had a song obsession for the past week and a half:


We love to blast it and dance along, particularly in the kitchen, especially while cooking or cleaning up (see below)Or just whenever, really. It got to the point that just now, we were about to start heading to bed (teachers and nurses living here, y'all. We aren't like those crazy college kids anymore.) and I was humming it and Taryn said "I have not heard that song in two days." Naturally, that meant we had to blast it and have a quick dance party before returning to the teeth brushing and whatnot that had been going on previously.

Apparently, we're not the only ones who think so: the apartment of male grad students we had over for dinner the other night also claimed it as "their jam." So, if you haven't had a chance to dance to Tay's new sound (listen for the dubstep!), please take a moment of out of your day and do so. You won't regret it.




P.S. At first, "22" was a strong contender for New Taylor Swift Song To Dance To All The Time. Being 22 myself, I was a proponent of this. ("We're happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time"...? Taylor, you give words to our 22-year-old souls.) But given that only 3/4 our apartment is 22 years old, we needed something a little more universal.

[pictures c/o Abby's camera]

November 4, 2012

Making A Comeback

Currently Listening To: "Give Me Love," Ed Sheeran. (obsessed with this ever since watching the Virginia Gentlemen sing it. The solo was done by the little brother of one of my good friends. So proud.)


Dear friends,

Welp, here I am. I mean, I've been here along, just not here here. I've just been spending my days in a middle school, teaching reading strategies and figurative language and discussion skillz and vocabulary and elements of literature to a crazy group of 6th graders. And laughing with them, listening to them, learning what they are in to (fact: mustaches are SO IN with 11-year-old girls right now. Why?), working with them on homework they forgot to do at home, helping them find lost assignments stuffed deep into binders, and just generally keeping them in line. Not to mention lunch and break duty, 6th grade team meetings twice a week and parent teacher conferences.

And when I'm not there doing all of that, I am here at home, writing the next day's lesson plan or grading assignments or trying to keep up with the work I have to do and post online for the Ed school side of things. (Because, after all, as I sometimes tell my kids and blow their minds, I'm a student too, still.) Or I am sitting on my couch trying to chill out after a long day watching How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory which so conveniently come on right after each other when I get home from school. And when I get a chance, I have adventures with my wonderful roommates (pictured above).

Maybe you can understand how Whimsy fell by the wayside.

But I am here with good news today! I am feeling very light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel-ish these days. Because this coming week is both a short week and my last week being in charge of all 3 of my blocks. And the following week, albeit a full week, is essentially my last week teaching...with less blocks and therefore a lighter load than these past six weeks. After that is Thanksgiving and getting to observe other classrooms in other schools, and then wrapping things up and saying goodbye to my own kids. (Sad.)

Back at the end of last year, the Ed school showed all us bright-eyed soon-to-be student teachers this chart of the phases of a first-year teacher (which is just concentrated into fewer months for a student teacher):



I am here to witness that this is 100% accurate and I am feeling a little bit March-April right now, amazed at the fact that I've made it through the hardest part of it.

So, all that to say, as I phase out of student teaching in the next few weeks, I am excited to phase back into blogging. YAY!

P.S. I'd like to give a shout out to Hurricane Sandy, for giving us two unexpected days off school last week but essentially bypassing us completely, which was EXACTLY what we needed and made this progression into the doable last few weeks happen all the more quickly. 

September 16, 2012

Welcome Back, Fall

Currently Watching: Planet Earth. (With my roommate who is student teaching in 4th grade, and has to take notes on parts that might be inappropriate to watch in class. I find that so amusing.)


I'm fairly certain that a week ago today it was still summer in Cville, but throughout the week it has crept slowly into the beginnings of Fall. It started subtly enough with some offhand comments about the incredible weather early in the week (brilliantly sunny without the humidity or heat, i.e. perfection) early in the week, but by the weekend I was wearing a cardigan. Fall can be pretty sneaky that way.

Last week was a busy week (I've completely taken on one block of sixth graders + I had a birthday + we had Back to School night) follwed by a busy weekend (my sister came to visit + I was sick + we celebrated my birthday by going to a Polo game), and next week is looking equally busy (I take on a second block of sixth graders!), so I think I will have to stop and remind myself to enjoy the quiet beauty that is Charlottesville seeping into Autumn. This might involve sipping some caramel cider while I write lesson plans, checking out the new Avett Brothers CD (the music video above is a good one, huh?) and wearing my new impulse-buy perfect-teacher-dress from Target. Actually, I am envisioning that all of these things could happen in one sitting...

September 11, 2012

Melkam Addis Amet!

Currently Writing: tomorrow's lesson plan

Today is Ethiopian New Year's!


In the Ethiopian calendar, there are 13 months -- 12 months of 30 days each, then a 13th shorter month called Pagume, made up of all the leftover days. And in Ethiopia, today is the first day of 2005! (Another fun fact: Ethiopians also tell time differently -- it's six hours off from Western time, because they start counting the day when the sunrises (and, being so close the equator, the sun rises at a pretty regular time the whole year round.) So, for example, our 8:00 would be their 2:00. I'm sure you can imagine the confusion in planning that this can sometimes cause...)

Five years ago, Ethiopians celebrated the millennium, and they celebrated it big. And as that year was a leap year, it meant that New Year's fell on the 12th, which also happens to be my birthday! This meant the day off school and driving to the outskirts of town and midnight to sit on the car's roof rack and watch fireworks shooting up all across the city. Such a good memory.

So melkam addis amet to all my habesha friends!

[photography by Esther Havens, via Pinterest. Isn't it beautiful?]


September 9, 2012

Tea Party

Currently Listening To: Ronan, Taylor Swift

In honor of my mom's birthday, which was yesterday, I'd like to show a little love to one of her favorite things: tea. She makes it about five times a day, and whenever I am there, she makes me a cup too. A hot cuppa (British style, with milk and sugar...or, as we used to say when we had a little Beatrix Potter tea set that had a little Peter Rabbit illustration on the inside of the mug, "tea to his tail, milk to his ears") always makes me think of home and my mama!


[source]                                                                           [source]


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Happy Birthday, Mom! I love you.

August 30, 2012

Fun Facts.

We watched this in 6th grade yesterday:


I find it super interesting. And I know it directly affects a lot of people, but it definitely affects how we think about how we're educating our kids. As my teacher said, instead of teaching things, it's almost more important to teach how to learn.

In other news, my apartment just went to the gym together and now my muscles are in pain.

In other other news, I am so excited for a three day weekend.

August 28, 2012

Thought of the Day

Currently Listening To: this Bon Iver remix. Love it.


“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too  
strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, 
fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when 
infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child 
who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum 
because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of 
a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” 

- C.S. Lewis
[via Love Does]

[image via le petit bijou]

August 26, 2012

Weekend

I am feeling good right now, y'all. Because I went into this weekend with no plans, a little unsure about how this whole post-grad (sort of) thing will work out friend-wise (I think this is one of the trickiest things about moving on from undergrad but still being here. How do I figure out how to be in the same place but in a different context?) I ended up having all sorts of fun, though, meeting and hanging out with and new groups of people both Friday and Saturday night. And to top it off, I got to go to Target yesterday, and today I played volleyball and made cookies! Apparently, in some ways, I am fairly easy to please.

I also have been enjoying this song today:


I don't always like Christian contemporary music (it kind of all starts to sound the same...and you know how when you're scanning through radio stations you can always tell the Christian station within about .2 seconds of hearing it? Yeah.). But there are some exceptions, and this is one -- particularly because I feel like what it addresses is pretty deep and so necessary. And it's a cool video. (I also like this one off of their new album...mostly because I think the typography on the video is sweet.)

Here's to another week (and this time a full week) at middle school!

August 23, 2012

Reporting Live

Currently Listening To: We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together, T Swift


Hey friends, I am here at my desk (I have a desk!) during my planning period (I have a planning period!) on Day 2 of middle school.* The thing about student teaching is that there is a progression -- I'll ease into the whole thing (PTL), so this week I'm more observing the actual teaching (although pretty involved in free student work time, answering questions and checking in and such)...which means I don't have things to plan in planning period. Yesterday I doodled for about 20 minutes. Today I brought my computer.

Here are some things I have learned:
  • Incoming 6th graders are very lost and confused. I mean, I get it -- bigger school, switching classes, complicated schedule and all that. It's all just so overwhelming for them, and they don't even have lockers yet! One kid this morning had his schedule masking taped to his shirt. I appreciated that...as well as how seriously my teacher untaped the bottom half from his shirt to study it carefully when he asked where his next class was. We've been letting classes out early and sending them to their next classes in groups. The funny thing is, though, that kids are asking me for directions right and left, but I don't know where everything is. These poor children.
  • My school is about 10 minutes down a winding country road. A two-lane road. Yesterday, I rolled out just after the buses did. Today, I'll try and avoid that.
  • It is very hard to wear heels for a whole day, especially newish ones. Now, I really want to be the kind of teacher who wears heels every day. And at 5' 1 3/4", I feel like this is feasible and understandable, but by lunchtime all I could think about was how many minutes (hours, actually) til I could take them off. I suppose this is something I'll have to work up to.
  • To get things out of the vending machine, you have to have Hulk-like strength and shake that thing within an inch of its life. This was learned the hard way, through these 5 steps: 1. I forgot my lunch. 2. I rummaged around my typically cash-less wallet and managed to find 2 quarters. 3. I made my way to the vending machine in the teacher's workroom and was relieved to see they had bags of chips and stuff for 50 cents. 4. I put in my money, punched in the code, and the chips began to move...and didn't fall. As if the universe (or my own forgetfulness this morning -- which we can blame on the fact that I was trying to take the recycling out and give my roommate a ride when I should have been grabbing my lunch -- and the vending machine were conspiring against me.). 5. An older, seasoned teacher walks in, sees my plight, and shakes that machine with much more vigor than I had previously thought she possessed. 6. Chips acquired; I am semi-less hungry. Success story.
  • This teaching thing is tiring. When I got home yesterday, I collapsed on the couch, stayed there for two hours (my roommates had Friends on, I dozed a little, it was pleasant) until I had to drag myself up and go to my (THREE HOUR LONG) evening seminar. Thank goodness I had a leftover half of a peanutbutter and oreo milkshake in the freezer in the midst of this. That evening-before-the-first-day-of-school anticipatory Cook-Out run sure paid off.
And tomorrow will be Day 3, and then the weekend. Never before have I looked forward to a weekend with zero plans so much. 

*I didn't actually write this whole thing at school. I am currently on my couch. Turns out I had a 6th grade team meeting to go to during the second half of my planning period. Oh, and the vending machine debacle took place... 

[image via Pinterest]

August 20, 2012

Student Teachin'

Currently Listening To: The Lumineers. They performed in Cville last night, and we got fro yo and stood outside the venue and listened in. It was pretty good.


Many apologies for the prolonged absence, but it's been because I've been settling in to my new role as a student teacher...followed by an incredibly full and fun weekend celebrating my roommate Brittney's marriage (and getting to catch up with and hang out with all the friends I've missed all summer long)!

To be honest, though, student teaching so far has been a lot more relaxed than anticipated. Of course, it is still professional days, so no students yet (they come on Wednesday!), but my teacher is so nice and pretty casual -- I knew this from the very first day when we, along with two of her former students now going into high school, went out to lunch and then to Wal-Mart -- and I've gotten to come in a little later and leave a little later and kind of ease into the whole thing. It's been mostly mornings full of meetings and afternoons full of setting up the classroom and planning out the first few weeks of class, but we did have an 'Open House' where we got to meet a bunch of our students and their parents! I'm excited for Wednesday to come and things to start for real, but I know it will be really busy and different at that point.

Thanks for bearing with me through this! 

[image via We Heart It] [p.s. my classroom looks nothing like this]

August 10, 2012

Thought of the Day

Currently Listening To: Freelance Whales
Three Days Til: I start student-teaching!
[image via Fairytales Are True]

August 9, 2012

Love Does

Currently Listening To: Love & War: B-Sides and Remixes EP, Josh Garrels

 
While I was flying last week, I read the book Love Does by Bob Goff. It was wonderful, in a way that made me grin like crazy the whole time I was reading it, at all the shenanigans and capers and fully-engaged-living that Bob does. It’s full of stories like how he left peanut butter sandwiches under his wife’s windshield everyday when he was trying to woo her to how he didn’t get in to law school and so he sat outside the dean’s office for seven days until the dean admitted him and how he goes to Uganda and frees kids from prison. Through everything, however, he is humble and straightforward and constantly pointing back to God, and how living a life for Jesus doesn’t involve being safe or just talking about things, but doing them: "I think Jesus had in mind that we would not just be “believers” but “participants.” Not because it’s hip, but because it’s more accurate, more fitting that way. He wanted people who get the “do” part of faith, not because He wanted activity, but because He wanted our faith to matter to us."

My absolute favorite chapter of the book was where he told the story of how, after 9/11, he asked each of his three kids what they would tell the leaders of the world if they could. The youngest said he would invite them over to his house. The next said he’d ask each what they were hoping for, and the oldest said she would interview the leaders and share their answers with each other. So Bob had the kids write their ideas into one letter, and they looked up the names and addresses of every world leader they could find, and sent them all letters. Bob and his wife promised that if any of the leaders responded yes to meeting with the kids, they’d take them. Twenty-nine said yes. And so off they went!

I was reading this chapter on the plane and I was smiling so big as I did that the guy with tattoo sleeves and a military haircut just across the aisle probably thought I was insane. (On the other side of me was a kid, who couldn’t care less.) But I couldn’t help it – I just love how boldly and audaciously Bob Goff lives, and how much fun he has doing it! “Being engaged is a way of doing life,” he says, “a way of living and loving. It’s about going to the extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be all about—full of abandon, whimsy, and in love. I want to be engaged to life and with life.”

And it is. And if you want to smile or be challenged to live bigger and bolder, you should check this book out. You can even borrow it from me, if you’d like!

p.s. The forward is by Don Miller. So we all know that's a selling point. I mean, it was for me...

[image sources: 1 | 2 ]

August 7, 2012

Raise My Hands, Paint My Spirit Gold


I've been playing Mumford & Son's new single on repeat to see if I like it. And I'm pretty sure I do. Check it out:


It's so unfortunate that it's over a month until the rest of their album comes out, isn't it?

August 5, 2012

Ethiopia Yichalal!



Congratulations to Tirunesh Dibaba and Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia for their gold medals! (In the Women's 10,000m and marathon, respectively.) And to Teriku Bekele and Kenenisa Bekele for finishing 3rd and 4th in the Men's 10,000m. Those Ethiopians can run long distances, let me tell you. (And, just fyi, I'm making this sound in celebration right now.*)

*not really. Because I actually can't. But I could if I would!

[image source]

August 4, 2012

The Waiting Place

Currently Watching: The Olympics!


At XTrack, our theme was “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” – based off of the Dr. Seuss book, of course. For the five weeks we were there, we would start off each Monday by reading the book out loud to the kids. And, pretty soon, I soon learned that of the three teachers, I was a third-tier Oh, The Places You’ll Go reader-alouder, even when armed with the pop-up version. On the third week, I read it to them, leaving off the ends of lines (“You have brains in you…” “HEAD!” “and feet in your…” “SHOES!”) (because three weeks in means they were more than halfway done with memorizing the whole thing), when they informed me that “When Mr. Colin reads it, he leaves out words in the middle. Mr. Colin leaves out the hard words for us.” Clearly I needed to step up my game.

But then, the next week, I got to hear Emily read it to the kids. And let me just tell you that although Emily is good at many things (fake Russian accents and certain card games among them), reading this book aloud to children might fall in the top ten category of Things Emily Is Good At. She has it down to an art, and she is particularly good at a certain page, about The Waiting Place. She prides herself in it, even: the way she is able to read the whole tongue-twistery double page in a single breath, super fast.


The first time she took a deep breath and read it all in lightning speed (because she usually does it a few times through and then let’s a few of the kids give it a shot), I was sitting in the back of the room, and when she was done the kids all simultaneously whipped their heads around to look at me, as if to say “What now, Miss Caroline?”

This memory makes me laugh, but at the same time The Waiting Place is hitting a little close to home. Now, I know my Waiting Place isn’t exactly like the “most useless place” of the book, but I feel like I’m in a lull nonetheless: the three weeks of downtime in between a busy, exciting summer and the busy, exciting semester that is about to unfold – student teaching in a 6th grade language arts classroom. It’s been a strange place…and yet, as only one week is left until I being this big new step, I don’t know what to think or how to prepare myself for it. It’s something I’m going to have to just dive into and figure out as I go…and so for now, I’m just Waiting.

Thanks to the many, many times I read through and heard Oh, The Places You’ll Go this summer, though, I do know the next page: “NO!
 That's not for you! / 

Somehow you'll escape
/ all that waiting and staying
/ You'll find the bright places
/ where Boom Bands are playing.”

And, even better, how the whole book ends:

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 ¾ percent guaranteed)

KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!


And as I think of the way our kids at XTrack would recite along with those words, yelling that last line with all their might, I can believe it. And keep on Waiting for just another week.

image sources: 1 | 2 | 3
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