Thursday, May 30, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 5/30/13

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]

Today is my mom's birthday.  I'm very thankful for my mother.  I know I've already mentioned somewhere on the blog that she sends a weekly letter in the mail.  She also takes the time to make great homemade cards for all of the holidays and sends those as well, regardless of which country I'm living in.  She's always willing to drive in to Madison to pick me up and take me wherever it is that I need to go.  She (and my father) has instilled great values in my siblings and I; we are so lucky.  She is proud of us kids, and somehow lets me go when I leave the country for a year's time.  She's done that twice already, and I'm making her do it again this fall (that's foreshadowing, folks).

Happy birthday mom!
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Friday, May 24, 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 5/23/13

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]

I'm thankful for the ultimate frisbee community in Madison.  It wasn't easy reestablishing myself in Madison this fall, but now that the snow and cold have finally gone, I've been playing ultimate two evenings a week in MUFA's spring league - plus going to a pod practice each weekend.  There's a pair of club teams kind enough to put on "pod practices" every week in multiple locations around the city.  They're open to anyone who wants to practice and get better -- how cool is that?  I'm also grateful for MUFA, as well as the Great Dane's support of the ultimate community here.  I am constantly in awe that a sport has attracted so many good people who  make positive differences in the world, but it makes sense that such a sport is ultimate frisbee.

So thank you, Madison ultimate community, for being so open, kind, and inviting!
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I got this creative invitation in the mail today for Hopscotch -- it was 1,000 times better than a Facebook event invite:


Can you guess what my favorite line on the invitation is?  I'll show you:

No RSVPs by Facebook

Way to go, Rob!  I sure hope I can make an appearance at Hopscotch!
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Tiny treasures: Golden gift from Grandma

On my birthday last month, my grandma gave me a special gift.  Take a look:

Not sure exactly what it is?  I wasn't either.  Take a look from the other side:

Vintage address book keychain

Okay, I'll open it up:

Vintage address book keychain

I'm not sure if this has a specific name, but basically it's an address-book key chain.  Someone had given it to my grandma as a gift years ago, and she had never written in it.  Since it was my golden birthday, she wanted to give me something golden.

I love that I've never seen one of these before,  it's aged, it's small, it's from my grandma, and it keeps one connected to their friends by post and by phone.

Vintage address book keychain
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Sunday, May 19, 2013

The fab four: Grilling outside

I've stayed very close friends with my coworkers from sophomore year of college.  We get together every one or two months over a meal; each person is assigned what to bring.

On Saturday we had one of those gatherings.  The fab four were in attendance (myself, CC, Bill, and Chad), as well as Bill's son and my brother Teej:

Brother Teej was assigned the appetizer, so he made homemade hummus (<-- click for the recipe) and brought pita bread.  Bill provided the main course of meats and veggies -- which was actually more like three courses in itself.  Each meat was served with a veggie.  All of Bill's main courses are amazing.

It was great to catch up with everyone, and to be eating outside again. GRILL.
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Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 5/16/13

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]

This week I'm thankful for the good weather.  I got to spend the entire weekend outside at Camp Wanna Huck It, surrounded by green and a stream.  On my walk home from work this evening, I passed many blooming trees surrounded by petals -- in the air, on the sidewalks.  Nature is beautiful.   
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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Camp I-Wanna-Huck-It

This past weekend I attended Camp I-Wanna-Huck-It in Illinois, put on by Midwest Ultimate and Ultimate Chicago.  Picture summer camp for adults, with an emphasis on ultimate frisbee.

I got a ride down with Izzy and two of her friends.  Here she is loading up the car on Friday afternoon:

We stopped at a grocery store about 15 minutes from the camp to pick up some grill-ables and snacks for dinner.  Here's a picture of the cabin we slept in!  There were bunk beds and mattresses; we all brought sleeping bags and pillows.

After grilling by the camp fire (and later making smores), we headed to the dance floor.  We opened the dance floor and kept it grooving, dancing hard.  It was chilly that night, but throughout our time dancing I think I progressively took off 3-4 layers (down to a t-shirt) since I was working up a sweat.  Super fun night!  

The next morning we were served breakfast in the dining hall (this is a 4-H camp we stayed at), then started playing ultimate.  Other than the one night of indoor I went to in the winter, this was the first time I'd played co-ed ultimate since Spain.  Say whaa?!

I really enjoyed playing ultimate at this camp though, because it was so low key - like pickup.  Levels on each team were varied, from people who had never played organized ultimate before, to really really good players.  Our coaches had amazing attitudes, and just wanted everyone to have fun.  Tournaments are great, but I don't enjoy the nervousness/stress/competitiveness of trying to help your team win.  So camp was perfect.

There were actually a few post-game games here, like in Spain.  Ninjas was played, but with tube swords:

After the first two games on Saturday (the only official games that day), a camp picture was taken of all four teams:

That afternoon there were numerous camp activities planned.  Frolfing, goaltimate, ultimate archery, etc.  I tried out wickets, but wasn't very good at it.  It's kind of like bags, except with discs and knocking off cups.  You get one point for knocking off a cup.  If the disc goes in the middle of the two wickets without hitting either one, you get two points.  If you knock off a cup but the opponent catches it (with one hand, not pushing it against their body), they get a point - not you.

Izzy, prepared to catch one of our cups in wickets

I gave up after my first game of wickets and explored the nearby creek.  It was really nice to be surrounded by so much green.

This man/horse was also seen throughout the weekend:

I went climbing along the river's shore with one of Izzy's friends, as far as we could go.

Then we had a Christian band album cover photo shoot, a tradition started by Izzy and her friends last year at camp:

Photo by: James Kersten

Then we went back to Wickets.  Oh! And this one girl at camp had magical powers:

That evening after dinner we stayed in the dining hall for a good while, and I played Cards Against Humanity for the first time!  Later I went out to the fire, where it was warm.  Made another smore.  Eventually we left the warm, cozy fire to venture to the dance floor, but the music wasn't as hopping as it was on Friday night.  We headed to bed around midnight, leaving many people still partying at the dance floor or by the fire.  This is clearly not a Spanish camp.

Our team was feeling very lazy on Sunday.  We'd have our half times lying on the ground in a circle, and our cheers from down on the ground as well.  We even started the first point of the game with everyone lying on their stomachs on the endzone, waiting for the pull.  Naturally, this is what our team picture looked like:

Team Wolves: Camp Wanna Huck It 2013
We do not want to stand up
We were actually undefeated this weekend, winning all four games!  Campeones!  We got some awesome prizes and shwag at the awards ceremony on Sunday.  Izzy won best spirit on our team, and got a free hat.  See what she has to say about camp:

Enough said.  You know what to sign up for next spring.
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Weekend letter writing, envelope decorating session

This past weekend I used some of my new birthday goodies to send out some decorated snail mail.  I was at it for hours -- this is what my work space looked like midway through:

I made most of the cards I sent out.  Here's what most of my homemade cards look like now, quite simple:

Hello sister card
Hello sister card

It's the envelopes I spent the most time on.  I wish I could show all of them, but I'm wary of putting my friends' addresses here for all to see.  So here's a sneak peek at parts of the envelopes instead:

Two of my birthday gift stamps are from Letter Writers Alliance.  The tea stamp came from Paper Source, and it's amazing.  All three rubber stamps are so great.

Later on I came across the blog Pushing the Envelope, which gave me a bajillion more envelope ideas.  I'm letting the ideas simmer  for my next mailing session...

Here's some inspiration from the blog:

Kathy Pine Trees
Source: Pushing the Envelope

Source: Pushing the Envelope

If you have other envelope inspiration sources to share, please do so in the comments!  Happy letter writing.
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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thankful Thursday: 5/2/13

[Thankful Thursday is a weekly segment that began 1/10/13 - read why here.  I invite you to join me in practicing gratitude!]

Tonight at a work dinner, I found myself across the table from an engineering alum who is an executive at a large manufacturing company.  He told us over dinner that yes, he has plenty of money and likes that he has been able to provide his family with whatever they need (read: want), but -- he was sure to tell us -- but money isn't that great.  He only likes his job 50% of the time; he's actually interested in art history and architecture, and would love to work in those fields.  

What does this have to do with gratitude?  I already knew that money isn't all it's cracked up to be; it is not a goal of mine to be wealthy.  I know that it's more important to do what you love doing and spend time with good people, than to spend your days doing something you don't enjoy but that makes more money.  And when I use the verb "know" in the previous two sentences, it's not like when you read a fact in a textbook so now you know.  No.  I know these statements to be true through experiences, interactions, and observations with a variety of people and lives.  So that's what I'm grateful for -- that I've already "learned" this lesson.  That my life experiences have brought me to the conclusion that money isn't (and shouldn't be) the goal.
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Resolutions Checkpoint: April 2013

Welcome, May!  Time to check in on all of my new year's resolutions.

--April Focus--

Last month I took a different approach, and decided to focus on only one area during April: fitness.  I give myself a huge plus!
(+)  Fitness
I had signed up for an 8K that would take place on April 27, so I was getting out to run about twice a week.  My spring ultimate frisbee league finally started up (after many cancellations due to rain and poor field conditions) near the end of April.  So now that's got me playing games twice a week, with opportunity to play pick-up or go to a pod practice on the weekends.

--Overall Progress--

So here we go, my current progress on all resolutions:

  • (+) I've read 12 books of 32, which means I'm 3% ahead of schedule (according to Goodreads). 
  • (+) I have read 1 / 5 books in Spanish. (Hermanos monigotes II)
  • (+) I have read 5 / 5 books that I own in my apartment.  (Gone Girl, The Handmaid's Tale, Paris to the Moon, The Alibi Man, and But Inside I'm Screaming).  I've actually read two more, and plan to keep reading from my shelf instead of hitting up the library.
  • (-) Have not sought out any French book yet. 
  • (-) Have not bought vitamin B and D, but I made it through the winter so again, maybe this isn't necessary?
  • (+) I'm still taking probiotics most days, and tracking it on Chains when I remember to do so! 
  • (+) JJ gave me the health info and has lent me the book The Road to Perfect Health.
  • (+) I still eat chocolate at work.  However, the plus this month comes from the fact that Izzy (with whom I work) has started a fasting diet.  On Mondays and Thursdays she only eats 500 calories - and that means no work chocolates.  She's shown great self discipline with this diet, and has inspired me to not eat any work chocolates on Mondays and Thursdays.  This is making it easier to pass up on the remaining three weekdays, as well.  Progress.


  • (+) Stretched before/after every run and practice/game.
  • (-) I let the arms slide this month, as I ran outdoors instead.
  • (+) I ran for 40+min at least twice a week until the 8K on April 26, and now I'm playing in ultimate games on Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • (-) Not my April focus, didn't happen.
  • (-) Haven't been practicing!
  • (+) Went to the French conversation table in April until my ultimate games stopped getting cancelled.
  • (-) Haven't spent that much time on Duolingo in April.
  • (-) Did not touch my French grammar book in April.
  • (+) I bought my plane ticket to visit Hannah for two weeks in July!  Traveled to Iowa for a conference!
  • (+) Have been working on step two of my South Korea application: Asking for letters of recommendation, enrolled in an online TEFL course, waiting for my background check to be mailed back from DC...
  • (-) Have not even thought about looking at the Statistics class 
  • (-) I'm taking a real class now! (TEFL certification), no MOOCs for Reca right now.
  • (-) Did not scrapbook in April, though I've been getting into the letter-writing craft.
  • (-) Have not begun the inspiration binder. 

--May Focus--

At that mindfulness-based stress reduction breakout session from one of my April conferences, the instructor told us that meditating for 5 minutes every day is much more helpful than meditating for an hour once a week.  And if you can't do 5 minutes, do 2 minutes a day.  So in May I will try to get in the habit of meditating for 5 minutes a day. (And if that doesn't work, 2 minutes!)

How is everyone else doing on their new year's resolutions?
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