Monday, May 31, 2010

I crazy love it.

(Sarah took pictures of the girls this morning before graduation, I was the assistant. This is not the "best" but it makes me laugh. Life is like this picture, better when we're not posed perfectly.)

I was reading the blog of Shauna Neiquest, one of my favorite authors (Cold Tangerines is phenomenal and she has a new book, Bittersweet, coming out in August), tonight and had to share this. It so sums up how I've been feeling all weekend.

"Can you tell I just love summer? I crazy love it. I super love it. I love the heat and the high white puffy clouds against the impossibly blue sky. I love strawberries and tomatoes and flip-flops and tank tops. I love pink cheeks and babies in nothing but diapers. I love the moment just after the sun sets, when the whole world is quiet, just for a split-second. I love the smell of the grill and the energy and life and sparkle of summer.

Fall is earnest. Winter is slow, quiet, cozy. Spring is a gentle awakening. But summer is absolutely wide open: convertibles and late nights and fireworks, popsicles and diving off the back of a boat and wearing a wet swimsuit under your clothes half the day. It’s sandy feet and sleeping like a rock and eating blueberries for breakfast. I’m a summer girl for sure."

Favorite summer things I did today: woke up early and threw on a white v-neck/nike shorts/headband, took pictures outside with a billion friends, went for a run even though it was SO hot, ate a plate of strawberries and blueberries, sat in the grass and talked with my friend Emily, wrote a letter to mail to my friend at camp (summer mail is some of the very best mail), and had a "do whatever Jenna does" dance party.

I always love the start of summer. The next 10 weeks hold so much potential. Sure, I know that there will be campfires and lake times and nights off and parent letters to write because I've been doing this counselor thing for awhile now. But squeezed in-between all the things I expect are going to be conversations and adventures and opportunities that I can't even imagine right now. There are going to be new friends and campers that I've never met who will become the main characters of June and July. Those surprises will shape this summer. I can't wait. (Good thing I only have to wait till tomorrow afternoon for it to start).

Sunday, May 30, 2010


I witnessed some beautiful and good things today.

After church I saw a woman standing outside her flower shop with a bubble wand. I was glad I had to stop at a red light so I could see the bubbles.

A pair of friends were sitting on the sidewalk in front of Wal-Mart eating HUGE slices of watermelon.

I ate lunch with my friend Taylor. She is one of the people I'm most thankful I met this past year. We drank far too much Diet Coke and talked for a good chunk of the afternoon.

I went to the graduation party of my friends Lizzie and Ellie, once my campers now fellow Tecumseh counselors. In a couple days they are heading off to London together. Just the two of them. They have been saving for this trip since they were in middle school. They are going on a sunrise tour of Stonehenge and going to castle and are bursting at the seams they're so excited.

I went to Dom and Allison's graduation party, two more Young LIfe girls, and enjoyed another night of being with these friends and families. These are great people. I love that it feels like a huge family. I love this group of girls and am so excited for them to graduate tomorrow.

This is the most beautiful setting I have seen...maybe ever. All night I kept saying "this is SO beautiful". I think I could live under this tree.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

You did it!

The end of May means lots of graduation parties. So today I headed out with my friend Sarah to see 7 graduates at 4 parties.

Highs of the Day:
Jumping in a bouncy house in our dresses.
Seeing not only all the graduates but other friends and parents and siblings.
Loving strawberry smoothies after being ridiculously hot all day.
Having a friend to go to all the parties with.
Seeing pictures of these kids as cute/awkward little versions of themselves.
Graduation parties mean lots of socializing for the graduates so we loved when we actually got to talk to them.
Writing a poem for one of the graduates.
Finishing the day with my "safe" friends (as Jenna calls them).

Friday, May 28, 2010


Today was the last day for students...Which means I have finished my first year of teaching!

I survived the first day where I was probably more nervous than the kids. The only time I thought, "I feel SO young," was at parent teacher conferences. I created interactive lessons. I helped kids fall in love with writing. I read books with my students. We developed our bananagram skills. I started a Friendship Bracelet Club and we not only made up our own national day but made over 150 bracelets. I worked with other teachers to build the structure to help struggling kids. We wrote moon poems, survivor essays, personal narratives, blogs, 5 paragraph essays, newspaper articles, creative writings and tied it all together in a chapbook. We wrote lists and learned grammar. We went on a week long field trip to Camp Tecumseh. I struggled with some students and bonded with others. I was greeted every morning by Connor saying "Hello Miss Wright" in my doorway. Natalie was the last to run out the door and say good-bye every afternoon. I laughed with my students and tried to tell them everyday, "today is going to be SO great."
I am thankful that next year I get to do it all again. I know that next year will bring new adventures and challenges and I'm excited that I will be able to improve and keep getting better so that I can help these students even more.

I got to experience the way my school does the last day for the first time today. After the bell rings for the final time the kids grab the rest of the school year debris from their lockers. The crying 8th grade girls linger in the hallway and we shuffle them outside. Then all the teachers stand on the sidewalk and wave and all the students lean out the bus windows to wave and yell back. It was a great sendoff.

(typical junior high yearbook shorthand- Have A Great Summer)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I love my school

When I got hired last August I didn't know a lot about my school. I knew that it was really big with 1000 kids, everyone kept telling me it was great, the principal was friendly, and the school building was huge. Today I know without a doubt I LOVE this school. This afternoon I got to take my kids outside to sidewalk chalk. One class chalked things they love about summer and the second group did things they love about our school.

I cannot wait for this one on Wednesday.

Kids aren't allowed to chew gum. If they have it at the end of the day they have to stick it on the gum tree...this is a cool routine...I think...

There are SO many kids injured at this school from sports. In the morning there is a line for the elevator.

20 kids in the air at once! It took a couple tries.

After school I went to the talent show. I was expecting a lot of great junior high awkwardness and was shocked by the talent of these kids. I saw hip-hop dancers, guitarists, and a drum battle. There was glow-sticking twirling (I'm not sure what to call it), a piano solo, a guitar duet, a pair of girls singing and doing motions to "Hey Soul Sister", and a tribute to Michael Jackson of course.

One girl that I always just see in the hallways sang "For Good" from Wicked and I was blown away- I had no idea she could sing like that.

There was a lyrical dance to "Your Hands", one of my favorite Christian songs, and was so impressed that this girl would dance like this to this song in front of her whole school AND she was awesome.

A girl who is struggling with her second round of cancer sang a song called "I Run" about cancer. She stopped after the first word and said, "Excuse me, I'm experiencing a bit of stage fright." This could easily have been an awful situation but the whole student audience cheered her name and clapped. She started singing again and the students stood up for her at the end.

This is a fantastic place to work. These are creative, talented, fantastic kids.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Yesterday one of my students said, "Miss Wright, you have to come to school at 7 tomorrow because Maggie and I have a surprise for you!" So I set my alarm early today and got to school by 7 to meet these two girls and it was the best surprise. They made me this incredible collage (with the help of a brother) and made a funfetti cake (my favorite) just because it would be fun and they knew I would love it. I am so lucky to have these girls in class and the FBC and SLT this year.

So we sat at 7am and ate funfetti cake right out of the pan and I told them funny camp stories and we just loved hanging out. I can't think of a better way to start the day.

My friend Mindy is an elementary art teacher. Tonight we got to wander around Michael's, spend some quality time crafting, and talk about school and friends and life. I can't think of a better way to end the day.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Friends + Walk = Great Day

The hard thing about spending every summer at the greatest place on earth is that you spend the rest of the year with all those people spread out across the country. Today I got to reunite with three of my favorites- Rach, Paiger, and "So Pops" (this is her preferred name). These friends are the kind of positive and hilarious friends that everyone needs.

We took a photo walk on the Monon because we were SO excited that it was beautiful today and it's almost summer and stays light outside forever!

Coll was incredibly energetic today. Her walking jumping jacks, leg extensions, and crazy dance were all pretty fun.

Monday, May 24, 2010


My friend Taylor just finished a project on the book/movie "Into the Wild." Tonight she told us that at the end the main character realizes, "Happiness is only real when shared." So wise.

My favorite word is "with." 99% of my favorite moments in life happened WITH someone else. Tonight in campaigners we talked about how to be loved we have to love others... and we do that by spending time WITH them.

Today I...
talked about favorite new books with a teacher-friend in my building and borrowed a new one I can't put down. This teacher loves reading and loves teaching and loves her students- I've been so impressed by her this year.

ate lunch with the same group of women I have all year in the teacher's lounge. I love our table and our assigned seats and hearing about their families and their classrooms and sharing our opinions about last night's TV shows.

got excited with my students that this was the last Monday of the year- and then we all sweated together (so gross, I know) all day because my classroom was over 85 degrees.

explored the new book, "this is not a book" with Natalie and Shelby and timed Shelby for "this is a test of endurance" as she held the book over her head for 23 minutes. It was super intense- she's tough.

looked over Hope classes and the new yearbook with Susan. I admire her attitude and presence so much. She's taught me a lot this year.

hung out with a group of Seniors- today is their first day of summer! They have made my year adventurous and I have been able to share in so much happiness with them.

talked with my friend Casey that got back from China today. Happiness exudes from this girl even when you're talking over the phone.

What would make this last week perfect?

A journal response first period,

"How to make this a perfect last week of school would be. Going crazy like a Indang. We will have no homework. Teachers have to be nice. Students can do what they want to do. On the last day of school wich is Friday May 28 we will have a party. We will celabrate the good times we had this year like waiting for the Colts to go to supper bowl 44. My favorite part that happed this year in read 180 was the day we got out for Christmas break. It was crazy and loud in read 180. I enjoyed all the teachers in 7th grade."

I will miss reading papers like this.
I'm not sure what in Indang is.
I would love to attend the supper bowl someday.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I love surprises

I love having friends to go to church with. Growing up I always went with my family. In college I went with different people every year. Now I go to a church called Common Ground with my friends Sarah and Kaylee. I know that God created us to live in community and it's good to have community here. Today as I was walking out a woman caught my eye and said, "Sarah?" I stopped in her row realizing that she looked familiar but I couldn't place her name fast enough. Turns out it was Katie Hershey, a family friend that we used to go to church when I was really little. She said she remembered when I was born. I remember her later being a counselor at Tecumseh when I was in elementary or middle school. Crazy how we never know who we'll run into.

Then I was walking into Target and a car door opened and out popped Ana- a Tecumseh camper that I've known...forever. I used to go to camp with her older sister when we were little Braves and Warriors. The sister eventually stopped coming but every summer I was so excited to see Ana. She is going to be a CILT this summer which means she'll finally be my camper! We got to stand in the parking lot and get excited about camp. So great.

This is my friend Ellyn. I don't know anyone else who spells this name with a "y" or anyone else quite like this girl. (Some of Ellyn's favorite things include Goodwill, Will Smith, her black North Face backpack, intense friendship bracelets, Camp T, and side-ponytails.) She's fantastic and I love hanging out with her. Today we went and surprised our friends at their Dad's Club Soccer game. It was 90 degrees and we were very content to sit on the bench and cheer them on instead of actually playing.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Many, many moons ago

Many, many moons again I had two girls named Melissa and Catie in my cabin at camp. They were best friends and they made me so happy to be a counselor. I remember during the Friday Unit Game one of the weeks they were there I was leading the activity with my friend Eric and watching at all the kids work on the scavenger hunt clues. We were watching my cabin and Eric pointed at Catie and Melissa and said something like, "Those girls are sweet. They wear athletic shorts so you know they're hardcore. Not like those girls that wear "cute" shorts." Eric's short-theory totally works. Then a few moons later I got to have them in my cabin as CILTs and then they were Day Camp counselors and today they had their ice-cream social graduation extravaganza.
I've loved watching them grow up. They're fun and ambitious and smart and classy and nice to each other. I love when I get to spend time with them-they're some of the best high schoolers I know and I'm so glad I'll get to see them at camp all summer.

Then I got to do some of my favorite things: make and eat pepperoni pizza, watch a chick flick, drive around and sing songs really really loud, eat ice-cream, laugh a lot, tell stories, and spend time with great friends.

It was pretty cold.

The Young Life Committee is a group of parents that support and lead a lot of the behind-the-scenes and foundational parts of the ministry. Tonight we celebrated the end of the year with committee families and leaders.

I really like life like this- a group of people of all different ages working with this common purpose and being filled with so much joy. This group of adults really love one another and have so much fun when they're together.

As we were winding down the night an offer was made by one of the Dad's- he'd give Susan $100 if she got everyone still in the garage to go jump into the pool with all their clothes on. Not very surprisingly all of the leaders immediately agreed to the challenge (it seems we're just always doing weird stuff like this). After some persuasion we convinced 3 moms and a bunch of kids to join too...

So we all jumped in and it was cold.. because it's still May... so we got in the hot-tub before our very wet drives home.

Here's what I've decided:
When I'm a mom I hope that I will still be willing to jump in a pool in all my clothes, freely give a kid $100 to do something so fun, and be a part of a group of friends like theirs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What I'm going to

1. Get a laptop.
2. Get a book and read while you wait to log on.
3. You goal is to get to page 23!

We've been working on our chapbooks all week in Composition. Today my students didn't get past step 2 on the list. The districts computer networks were crashing and not a single kid logged on. To say the least, it was very frustrating. As we were putting away the laptops at the end of the period one of my boys said, "Well, that was a waste of time." I said, "No it wasn't, you got to read the whole period- I love reading" (because I really do love reading and I never think it's a waste of time)
"Well what is a waste of time then?" he asked.

I thought about it and said, "watching TV, playing video games, fighting and arguing, procrastinating..."

Then I kept thinking about wasting time as I sat in my car.

Growing up I lived in the country and my hometown only had two stoplights. In college, I never had to drive more than 10 minutes to get anywhere.
Now I sit in traffic. I drive to and from school on 3 major roads. I get caught in rush hour several times a week because that's when I go to Young Life. I actually waited in line to enter a roundabout for 10 minutes today. I spend more money on gas than I ever have before. I spend about 2 hours in my car everyday. This seems like a major waste of time.

But I'm sitting in traffic behind all these cars and staring at these red lights because of what I'm going to.
Every morning I get to drive to a job where I have fun, where I get to be creative, where I work with people that are good at what they do, and where I have the chance every day to make a difference in someone's life.
Tonight I got to drive to meet a friend for dinner. Tomorrow I'll drive to a celebration. I drive to Campaigners and reunions and Club and coffee dates and soccer games and to see people I love.

I think that if I'm sitting in my car to get to all those people then it's not really a waste of time after all. It's worth all the waiting. (But I do still wish that the construction will be over soon.)

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wreck this journal

Last winter I completed the book "Wreck This Journal" with some friends. One of my students just got the book to share with her friend and brought it to class today. I LOVE this book.
This is her checking off, "chew this page." She was really good at it.

Other tasks include: poke this page with sharp objects, spit on this page, scribble with reckless abandon, write one word over and over on this page, tie a string around this book and pull it like a dog, sleep with the journal, scrub this page. It gets pretty messy...and smelly.

I got the yarn out of the craft drawer and tied up the journal.

We waited for the last couple minutes of the day and...threw it out the window and swung it around.

It was for sure the best part of the day. I loved seeing all of my kids get so excited--how often does your teacher let you throw a book out the window?

Tonight I got to hang out with these great friends. I like that we're a little family and that Jenna told us stories about her star-dancing friend and that Sarah played the "I like..." game with me and that we just have such fun together.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Top 10 Moments Today

1. I look over during 1st period and the two kids that had finished their Word Challenge decided to take a nap. Great thing they've only got 8 days left. I think they'll make it.

2. Drawing squiggles in Read 180 and one girls excited-jumping-fist-pumping reaction when she heard that we were doing it today. Then one student's drawing of "an eel with a frozen man".

3. Letters from my friends Kate and Livvie!

4. During SLT one of my favorite students turned and said, "Miss Wright, next year on the first day of school I'm going to run up to your room to say Hi before I even go to my locker. I won't forget... I promise."

5. Working on my students final books for the semester and having them be excited about their work. They're all becoming Publisher pros and it's so cool.

6. This video. My sister, my friend and I all have these "happy" bogs. I think this is the kid oral interpretation of that

"Jessica's Daily Affirmation"

7. Working on a new project for one of my friends. I really love crafts.

8. Hanging out with my friend Sara. We got to catch up on important stuff and laugh a lot and I practiced her accent and we got a new moleskine (best journals in the WORLD!) and ate too much and mall walked.

I was trying to capture her laughing and then she got embarrassed.

9. Having the time to write letters back to people.

10. Having a great new set of 3 songs that I listened to on repeat all day long. (Jake Ousley- Wait On Love, 10th Avenue North- By Your Side, Jason Gray- More Like Falling In Love)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sarah is back!

When I walked out of school today I had a text message from my friend Sarah telling me to call her, so I did. She was about 3 minutes away from my school on her way to surprise me. She has been in Europe for two weeks and got back late Saturday night. I love surprises and I love when people show up because they know it's important to you--so even though this didn't actually work out it was perfect.

So we went to my apartment and drank Diet Coke and she showed me 300 pictures of Europe and told me all the funny stories and the nerdy-sweet facts (the colosseum had elevators and vomit means "to exit"), and showed me top 10 lists. I love when people let you share in their experiences. I love that instead of just telling me it was great she took the time to let me share in a little piece of that fun (and brought me back an Italian friendship bracelet!).

Then we called our friend Shauna that we're going to live with next year and picked her up to go to dinner. We ate and then drove around town house/apartment hunting. We learned that we're pretty horrible at directions, that Shauna is the "oldest" one even if she's the youngest, and that living together is going to be SO much fun.

After Campaigners tonight I drove home with Sarah and we talked about friends and what it means to be a good one. It's so frustrating for us to see these high school girls that we love and care about not always have the friends that they need/deserve and to see them not know how to be that friend. I'm no where near being perfect at this but as I'm learning I'm also recognizing the great friends around me. I'm so thankful for Sarah and her friendship. I'm thankful that she's honest and compassionate and dependable and loyal and trustworthy and ambitious and fun. I'm thankful that I'm lucky enough to call her my friend.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

One month from today.

Each May the Tecumseh coordinators and other leaders for summer camp gather to kick-off the season. Campers have no idea that we're meeting to plan out their summer, to talk about the culture we want to create, to pray about what God is going to do, to figure out how we can use one another's strengths to help us all succeed. We got to brainstorm new ideas and I got to hang out with some of my very best friends.

This summer I'll be doing CILTs (the leadership program) for the third time. A month from today I will have attended the first staff meeting and worn my staff shirt for the first time, dressed up for the first opening campfire with the first group of CILTs and be in the middle of the first devotion and be waiting for the first CILT initiation. Insane. I can't wait. I'm so excited, anxious, nervous, and hopeful for what is to come. There are always a few hard moments in a summer but there are thousands of moments of joy and I can't wait for it all to begin.

p.s. My friend Grace suggested I check out the video series called, "The Beckoning of Lovely" on youtube today. It's awesome.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's not over yet

Despite being partly frozen and entirely dew-covered, waking up on the bridge was perfect.

It was so fun to see this group of girls adventuring around Camp Tecumseh all morning. This place and these girls are two major parts of my life and it was so neat to see them having such a blast.

More self-initiated team building on the obstacle course. (She's wearing a helmet because she has to keep her head safe of course.)

Archery and hay-rides and the Black Hole and Mt. Wood and the O.C. and lots of pictures (which is also obviously a camp activity).

Yesterday Annie (another leader) and I were talking about this group's amazing-ness. They dress up in over-alls for fun and draw with sidewalk chalk and take care of their friends and act silly and talk in accents and live out their faith and ask hard questions and make human pyramids and laugh hard and get excited to visit thriving metropolises like Lebanon and stop to stare at the stars. It's such a blessing to be friends with these girls. I know they'll go on to do great things but I really wish they weren't graduating because I just want to keep sharing life with them.

Some of their sidewalk-chalk wisdom:

Friday, May 14, 2010

Is it bad that I asked why they don't wear wedding rings?

2 leaders.
8 young life girls.
Destination/activites unknown.
Wear ridiculous clothes (because that will obviously make things more fun).

A stop at the ice-cream paradise.

A self-initiated team-building activity by the girls. And then Dom just dragging Allison mercilessly down the hill.

Chalking on the pedestrian bridge.

Climbing on the sundial and Taylor trying to figure out the time. She tried real hard.

Making new friends. They sang Amazing Grace for us. And then we tried to have a sing off and sang Light the Fire for them. They obviously won. They learned 4 part harmony because they don't have instruments in their church. They answered all our questions and sang more and their little kids were really fun too.

We tried the famous peanut butter hamburgers at Triple XXX and made friends: Unicorn tattoos. St. Louis guy with a graduating daughter, real friendly old couple that couldn't understand us, and Danielle, our waitress, who illegally gave us refills for free.

Great night. Grand surprises. The best people to experience all of this with. More adventures to come.

Off to the bridge..and the stars are beautiful.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


Today renewed my belief in small children and the fact that mine probably won't turn out like owen-the-blue-wire-thief.

I rarely baby-sit anymore but today I got to hang out with two fantastic kids.
We ate blue, red, and green icey-pops while sitting on the driveway.

Mia and I played Hungry, Hungry, Hippos. This game is SO fun. You can't really be "good" at smacking the stick that lets the hippo eat, so everyone gets to win a lot!

While waiting for her brother to join us Mia said, "Well, we can just play with this!" talking about the plastic bag. So of course we started playing catch with a sandwhich bag. Also a vastly under-rated activity.

We ate dinner together and I got to sing Mia the Prunie song as she ate her Prunie soup/pudding/thing.

We read books and said prayers before the kids went to sleep.

I think I will love this whole parent thing someday...many, many days from now.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Tonight I got to reunite with my friend Kath. I love how we talk about real things- tonight we talked about kids. We decided it would be a great decision to get some ice-cream (when isn't that a good plan?) and sat out on the patio to people watch.

Running in circles and jumping from cement tables was a group of about 8 boy scouts in their button up navy blue shirts with the patches sewn on. One boy was throwing water bottles at the other kids. A second scout was leaping from bench to unsteady bench. None of the parents noticed or cared and a DQ employee had to come out to stop him before he wiped out. The one sister there tried to grab ahold of one of the boys that was beating up on everyone else. She got him right before he hit someone else--then the girl was the one who got yelled at. (How does that make sense?)

By the trash can or in the parking lot the kids found a wad of blue wire. A treasure obviously. Finders keepers for the lucky kid- he held onto that wad like it was a piece of gold. Until it got stolen from him. The thief then started running loops through the patio and into the parking lot. The owner of the wire just started bawling and screaming, "OWEN GIVE ME MY WIRE! I WANT MY WIRE OWEN!" Unfortunately Owen's parents couldn't have cared less. The Dad of the crying kid finally got up from his table, grabbed his kid by the arm, and left. The poor kid kept screaming "OWEN BRING ME BACK MY WIRE!" as he was dragged to the car. So long blue wire.

So although Kath and I love being counselors and teachers we're not really ready to become parents anytime soon.(I realize all children are not like Owen-the-blue-wire-thief. I'm just not ready for that stage of life yet.) Right now I'm totally content to sit and talk with my friend.