April 29, 2013

Part II of a story through Gifs: The Train Ride

My train from Chicago to Virginia was supposed to last 18 hours, leaving Chicago around 6pm on Thursday and arriving in at my Virginia stop at about 1:30pm on Friday. However, because of that ridiculous storm sweeping from West to East - I essentially booked a ticket to ride along with this storm as it inched across the country. Thus, my ride experience several delays along the way, resulting in about 6+ total delays at the end of my journey.

Here is how the train ride went for me. 

1 hour in / 7pm 
Good thing I brought my knitting

3 hours in / 9pm
Finished my knitting project

5 hours in / 11pm
and I'm trying to get comfortable enough to fall asleep in my seat

8 hours in / 2am
The train is stopped and they're making announcements about delays

11 hours in / 5 am
and the lights come back on

13 hours in / 7am 
and they announce that the train is already delayed 3 hours

15 hours in / 9am
and the know-it-all train rider behind us won't stop talking...loudly.

16 hours in / 10 am
Talking to my seat-mate

17 hours in / 11am
and I'm looking at facebook pictures of the cakes my seat-mate decorates

18 hours in / 12pm
and they announce another delayed arrival time
that will later be delayed even more.

19 hours / 1pm
When they announce that there will be free food in the dining car
due to the extreme delays. 

20 Hours in / 2pm
and my friend texts to ask how my trip is going

21 hours in / 3pm
and the train is stopped for track repairs 

22 hours in / 4pm
and the conductor announces our next stop. 

23 hours in / 5pm
My mom calls to tell me she's picking me up at an earlier stop,
so I'm going to get off the train an hour earlier than I thought!

24 hours in / 6pm
Literally 30 minutes away

In the Car with my Mom

The End. 

PS - Part 1 of this insane journey. 

Interrupted Travel Plans: A story told through Gifs

A couple weeks ago, I had a plane booked to Virginia for a quick trip home to see my friend in a play and visit my family for the weekend. I was leaving around lunch time on Thursday. My plane was set to leave at 1:45pm on a Thursday and arrive at 4:50pm Virginia time. I focused on finishing up my work and tying off any loose ends before I left for few days. As I was finishing up work, I get an unexpected call from the airline - "This is American Airlines with a flight update. Flight *** to Virginia has been cancelled -"

WHAT! Cancelled!? I was in a state of shock, similar to this: 

It turns out about 500 flights from O'Hare had been cancelled that day due to torrential downpours that were sweeping from West to East. I frantically called the Airline's help line to see if I could get re-booked on a later flight that day or even Friday morning. After calling several times and not going through. I finally found my way to the place where they could put me on hold. There is this new-fangled thing where they can put you in line to talk to a service rep, but you don't have to actually  be on hold for 50 minutes. So, I wait and commence to have a minor major freakout while I eat lunch with my housemates.
Finally when I talk to this very nice rep, she finds the only flight that I can be booked onto is on Saturday. SATURDAY. I am supposed to be there TODAY - Thursday! 
I cringe and say sure and she takes some time to see if the flight is still available. Meanwhile, I am searching Amtrak for the next train to Virginia. It leaves in 3 hours. While she's checking into the flight, I BOOK THE TRAIN TICKET. The train is scheduled to arrive in Virginia at 1:35pm on Friday. "Still earlier than any plane would have gotten me there!" Then the rep comes back on the phone - I tell her "Thank you, but no." Peace. Then I just sit there - " I just booked a train that is leaving in 3 hours."
I yell to my housemates across the office that I need to get to the Metra line so I can be on the commuter train for an hour to catch my 5:45pm train to Virginia. 
Then we book it out the door: 
We make it to the Metra on time and I wave goodbye to my dear, dear housemates. 

Part II: The Train Ride 

April 12, 2013

Home in the Woods & Wilderness Inspiration

Last summer I was a camp counselor at a wonderful summer camp in Southern Virginia. Each week there was a scheduled time for us to take our groups into the wilderness for an overnight camping trip. We planned our meals and picked our "Home in the Woods" spot. We grabbed sleeping bags, hammocks, coolers of food, tarps, and rolled endless amounts of twine. (Fierce forearms for the win!) Then early in the afternoon we took off across a (never ending) field towards the woods.

We would spend the afternoon setting up a boy's and girl's tarps to sleep out under. I learned how to tie a movable knot (I probably learned that during Girl Scouts, too, but I forgot it somewhere). We would collect logs, sticks, and kindling to make a table and start a fire for dinner. I learned how to lash this summer, too. (Again, I feel like that's a Girl Scout tool I learned as a Junior, right!?)
Base Source // weheartit.com
During Home in the Woods, the Camp Director would always encourage us to be creative and make MORE  than just a table, build a fire, hang our tarps, and feed our kids. :) This didn't always happen...the more part, anyway. It was bad if you didn't make a table, build a fire, hang your tarps, AND feed your kids. I had a couple weeks out of the summer, where our kids would make things - one week, they painted "Welcome" and our group name onto river rocks; another week, we painted with rock paint all over ourselves (and my hair!); another week, we made a great big hammock village.

While, I'm not returning there this summer (I've got other Wildernesses to venture into!) - I have been collecting a few things that would inspire me for future Home in the Woods or any wilderness, camping adventure with kids of any age!

Hammock Chair How-To: This instructable includes detailed how-to with pictures! 
Andy Goldworthy's Art: Inspire your kids to use nature to create patterns or works of art. Talk to them about artist, Andy Goldworthy, who used leaves, rocks, and sticks to create works of art. 

Primitive Tic-Tac-Toe: This one seems simply enough - start the kids on a game of tic-tac-toe while you're getting dinner started. 
Wooden Toothbrush: Campers will probably find this really weird and really fascinating. The author of this article talks about Native Americans using a similar method to brush their teeth. 

Big Nature Loom: Put those lashing skills to good use and rig up a HUGE loom. Have the kids weave anything into it that they can find in nature. 
Little Natural Loom: Let them practice their weaving skills with a small, natural loom. 

Additional Ideas & How-To's:
Boy Scouts can basically build anything: A huge selection of pioneering how-to's from latrines to towers! Not step-by-step, but has simple pictures that you can extrapolate from.
66 Ways to Tie a Tarp: An image with 66 different ways to tie a tarp.
Rigging a Tarp Basics: An infographic that has tarp-rigging basics and knots to use.

Bring on the warm weather!

April 10, 2013

Going Shampoo Free

On my latest quest to be peculiar, I have sought out a different method of washing my hair! Stop Using Shampoo. I told my friend's about my plan to stop using shampoo and start washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Their response, "Isn't that how you make science fair volcanoes?" 


But it's also a much healthier, cheaper alternative to washing your hair with shampoo! I honestly just stumbled across this method last week, read blog after blog after blog about it and now I'm trying it out! 

1. Combine 1-2 Tbsp. with a cup of warm water. 
2. Pour this mixture over your scalp. Massage through roots. Rinse out. 
3. Combine (1 Tbsp to) 1/2 cup* Apple Cider Vinegar with a cup of warm water. 
4. Pour and massage through ends of hair. Let sit for a moment. Rinse out. 
5. Repeat 2-3 times a week.    

*The greatest discrepancy that I have seen concerns how much Apple Cider Vinegar people use. A half a cup is the most that I have seen individuals using with as little as 1 Tbsp. I've been doing the 1/2 cup for the past week, but many people experiment with more or less. I might decrease a bit and just see what happens!   

Economical Benefits: Y'all Apple Cider Vinegar and Baking Soda are dirt cheap. I spent $2 on the above ingredients. (It IS cheaper to get the HUGE gallon of Apple Cider Vinegar, but I wasn't ready to be that girl, yet.) The average amount I'd spend on a (bigger) bottle of Shampoo and Conditioner would be about $5 each. I would probably use this for about a month-2 months, washing everyday. With the Baking Soda + ACV Method, I'll only wash my hair about 2-3 times a week. Plus, anything I can do to avoid the 21st Century plight of irresponsible, over-consumption - Sign Me Up!

Healthier, Natural Hair: I would shampoo my hair every day and use a spray gel to keep my curls in place. I always credited my limp, frizzy hair to the dry climate of the Mid-West - but it probably had more to do with the chemicals I was pumping into my scalp. Shampoo strips the hair of natural oils and our hair overcompensates by producing more - resulting in greasy hair. I have only been using this method for a week and my curls are already happier - they're more defined and hold throughout the whole day without being frizzy. (Another confession: I don't brush my hair.) It's probably too early to really know what effect this method will have on my hair, but it's going well so far. I do - rinse my hair with water everyday. I tend to shower almost everyday, especially when I work out, but I only wash my hair with BS+ACV every couple of days. 

Week One: My curls are feeling pretty happy so far!

Further Reading:
Simple Mom has an extensive blog post that details the chemicals used in shampoo and the benefits of the "No Poo" Method. 
Crunchy Betty (one of my favorites) talks about the history of shampoo and her reasoning behind "No Poo."

Have you tried this method? 

April 9, 2013

April Changes, Bring May Rewards

I went for a GOOD four-mile run when I got home yesterday. I'm setting a wild goal (for me!) of 15-20 miles each week! I'm no cross country runner, but I really enjoy running. If I hadn't learned so much mental toughness when I was a thrower, I don't think I'd be able to push my runner!self so much. 

When I have a running buddy, I don't really pay too much attention to how fast or far we go. However, I don't have a running buddy - so to motivate myself, I track all my runs with a running app: Strava.
One) It's free. Two) It tracks my route, time, and calories burned. Essentially everything I want in a running app, but it also doubles as biking app.

//Do you use a running app?//

Weird Runner Confession: I don't listen to music when I go running.
One) Sweaty Earbuds - uhm, no thank you. Two) I really enjoy listening to what's going on around me. Just running to the local park is a cultural experience I don't want to become numb to: high school kids who call out to me, toddlers waddling away from their mothers, dogs barking, a father and daughter playing tennis - love it. Three) Towards the end, I start cheering myself on...like literally yelling to myself...out loud. Eh, whatever works.

//Bare feet + Grass=One of life's greatest joys//

After my run, I took off my shoes and cooled down on the grass in our yard. While recovering, I though about how God really is the best exterior designer? I giggled to myself thinking about God designing the luscious feel of grass for one great big carpet. Or sand...hmm! The feel of grass or sand on bare feet - heavenly! 

//What do you see?//

Enjoy Spring! 

April 8, 2013

blonde curls bounce in a sea of black hair

blonde curls bounce in a sea of black hair
an oddity, the dominant minority
is it soft? or is it brittle?
a brown hand extends to cop a feel
gold colored like gifted dowry jewels
sparkling in the Indian sun

it’s laughable – the reach, the feel
harmless and innocent, bold curiosity
and yet strange, to be so

natural brown eyes gaze upon
blue eyes – their colors unchanged by lenses
in case you were wondering
if blue eyes are real.

an oddity, but a commodity
fair and lovely is a virtuous thing
friendly brown hands glide over pale skin
desired pale skin purchased in a bottle
at a cost to health and ethnic pride

when they say “I wish I looked
like you.” I shrug, and offer
“skin is skin. Love what you are

which is easy to say when you’re
fair and lovely
with gold colored hair
and eyes like the sea.

In honor of Poetry month, I'm going to be posting a couple of my poems that have been posted or printed in various spaces. I'm doing this mainly for my own organization. 

April 6, 2013

Rain Run

Sixty-six degrees and a light sprinkling of run!? Uhm, YES, I'll go for a Rain Run! I decided to go run down by the river. The remnants of winter are still lingering, but Spring is on the horizon. I ran for about 3 miles and then decided to take my time walking back along the river. I listened to the lapping of the river waves and the geese gabbling back and forth. 

 Also, how awesome is this CASTLE by the river!? 

April 4, 2013

Spring Fever

Today, the sun was shining. The temperature a balmy 57 degrees as I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. I decided to run at least 30 minutes (or about 3 miles) and then see what I could do from there. I enjoy taking turns and going down new streets when I go running. I think that's what makes running long distances worthwhile - all the different views you see and the people you run into. Hopefully, not literally.

The town I live in has MANY old houses - like there is a legitimate historical housing association. People have plaques on their houses that say "This house dates to 1899." Seriously. I love old houses - I grew up in an old (close to) the turn of the century house. It came with old thick wooden doors, nooks and crannies, creaks and it's own ghosts. There is so much character in an old structure, so I really enjoy running through the neighborhoods of this town to see all the interesting old houses.

How much CHARACTER does this house have? I pass by so many interesting houses when I run that I don't stop to take pictures of all of them...but I COULD NOT pass this one up. An old Fire Department transformed into a house. How cool!? I love the transformation of old buildings into new homes or vice versa. We have an old house in the area where I'm from that started as a church and is now a home. That stained glass - I could not even imagine! 

Do you have any neat old structures in your town? 

Towards the end of my run, I passed an old couple (in long pants and jackets) walking their dogs. They're across the street from me and the man hollers - "She's got Spring Fever!" And I laugh...trying to think quickly of what Spring Fever is!? YES. I have HEARD of the term, but in the moment I could not for the life of me think of exactly what it meant. "Is he referring to how red my face is? Is that a symptom of Spring Fever?!" Literal conversation in my head. I kid you not. Then he said, "We've still got our jackets on!" OHHH...I was wearing shorts and T-shirt. "Yeah! I'm ready!" I called back. I didn't mention to that cute couple that I had walked around in my new Chaco's all day. Thanks, Mama! 

Then this evening I found out our fourteen-year-old (puppy) dogs were put down today. Fourteen is very old for lab-shepherd mixes, so I've learned. They've been deteriorating for awhile - their hips and joints were starting to fail them. Brooke, after Brooke Shields, and Lucky, after the yellow horse-shoe under her neck. My brave Dad was with them until the end. I am so proud of his courage to make the decision and be there with them. I cried with Lillie and Dad on the phone this evening and processed it some.

You never really notice things getting older as you age yourself...or expect things to change with time. You anticipate the family dogs being around forever, even though you know that's not possible. You think grandparents will always look the same, even though numerous liver spots and aging legs come into the picture. You think eyes will always see and ears will always hear, hair won't gray and wrinkles won't come. But they do. So, in a season of resurrection, budding flowers, greening grass, and new birth - I bid adieu to our loyal, beautiful family dogs. 

Brooke & Lucky // source Lillie

I thought about breaking up all these things into different posts...but life is not so easily compartmentalized. (Oh, how I wish it were sometimes.) This was my day. In all it's new sandal, sunshine, long run, dog-mourning, life-rejoicing glory. God, thank you for the varied experiences of life. For laughter, barks, hugs, tears, dancing, and running. I thank you, God, for the varied experiences of life. 

What life have you experienced today? 


April 3, 2013

Praying through Hymns | Fresh as the Morning

This is part of a series focus on intentionally praying through and reflecting on hymns, instead of just deafly singing the lyrics. 

I first heard Fresh as the Morning for a vespers service at a Regional Youth Conference. I was involved in planning the conference, but not in the musical aspects. I remember being skeptical of a hymn and wanted something more upbeat, instead of something that made your mouth ache with it's slow tempo. Well, after singing through a sacred evening worship - I quickly became a believer...falling in love with the lyrics and music of this beautiful hymn.
base image // source

It's comforting to sing over and over again - "God always faithful, you do not change." Also, this hymn doesn't give a pronoun to God, which I just feel elevates God's...Godliness. The idea that God surpasses our created constructs of gender is just one that fills me with so much inner peace at how God is so without limits...

Fresh as the Morning (God of the Bible)
Words by Shirley Erena Murray | Music by Ron Klumsmeier

God of the Bible, God in the Gospel,
hope seen in Jesus, hope yet to come,
you are our center, daylight or darkness,
freedom or prison, you are our home.

Fresh as the morning, sure as the sunrise,
God always faithful, you do not change.

God in our struggles, God in our hunger,
suffering with us, taking our part,
still you empower us, mothering Spirit,
feeding, sustaining, from your own heart.

Those without status, those who are nothing,
you have made royal, gifted with rights,
chosen as partners, midwives of justice,
birthing new systems, lighting new lights.

Not by your finger, not by your anger,
will our world order change in a day,
but by your people, fearless and faithful,
small paper lanterns, lighting the way.

Hope we must carry, shining and certain,
through all our turmoil, terror and loss,
bonding us gladly, one to the other,
till our world changes, facing the Cross.

There aren't many renditions of this hymn on the internet. Go figure. The above video is a lovely rendition from a Church in Arizona that played it for Easter service.

May God bind us, one to another,
Until our world changes, facing the cross. 


April 2, 2013

2013 Free Entrance Days to U.S. National Parks

January 21 // Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
April 22-26 // National Park Week 
August 25 // National Park Service Birthday
September 28 // National Public Lands Day
November 9-11 // Veterans Day Weekend 

Source // NPS.gov

Did you know there are 401 National Parks? Find one near you!

I love that there is a WHOLE WEEK of Free National Park Days in April. How superb would it be if that week aligned with a scheduled Spring Break? That would be perfection beyond words! Dad and I took advantage of this awesome offer a couple of years ago (on NPS Birthday!) and explored Skyline Drive in Virginia. Did I mention that I love mountains? Well, I DO. Blue ones. :)

Will you take advantage of Free National Park Days? 


Lyrics // "Learn Me Right" by Birdy & Mumford and Sons
Lyrics // "Not With Haste" by Mumford and Sons
Base Image // Found via Weheartit.com

I'm old to jump on this bandwagon, but I heard the lyrics from "Learn Me Right" as the rolling credits started for the movie Brave. I had seen this movie in theaters, but we watched it last night at a friend's house. When I heard the lyrics, I instantly recognized it as the Mumford and Son's song "Not With Haste" from their album Babel. Elements of both songs overlap, which is so interesting. I've really been feeling the simple lyrics of that song and created the above.

"Learn Me Right" by Birdy & Mumford and Sons 
from the Brave Soundtrack

Fulfill your dreams,