Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Years Eve

Last New Years Eve we gathered with friends at the Houghton's to celebrate Nick's first birthday and to bring in 2010 together. So much has happened since then. Nick is now two and so smart. The Houghton's moved to a brand-new house and they have a brand-new baby! Jenna wasn't with us this year to celebrate but let's not forget that this year she fell in love and got engaged.

Young Life friends gathered for hors d'oeuvres, excellent reflective questions from Jon, talking about great books and events from 2010, Just Dance 2, a waxy craft, taking turns holding baby Raelyn, and toasts after midnight. I also snuck in a trip over to see some camp friends that were celebrating too.

Linda thought this up- we painted with melted crayons. It was kind of like a craft we saw at a First Friday... kind of.

One thing that has not changed since last year, we're still bringing in the New Year on our heads tripod style. Starting with a new perspective you see. We think this is a tradition that will stick.

Top 10 Things I Learned About Myself or Life This Year

1. No one's life is perfect. All people want to be accepted and loved. It's important to learn how to love others well.
2. I'm so lucky and blessed to be at my school. I can't imagine a better place.
3. When you focus on what and who you love and get rid of the rest you're really happy.
4. There will always be more people that I want to get to know better and be friends with.
5. I'm different in different places- with CILTs, in the classroom, in Young Life- and that's okay.
6. I'm figuring out more and more which people are always going to be there.
7. I'm believing more and more that age is just a number that doesn't define people's dependability, maturity, faith, ability, friendship, trust or kindness.
8. Sometimes I have to make myself do the fun stuff but it's always worth it.
9. I'm working on trusting that God is in control and he knows what he is doing.
10. I feel more content with who I am than I ever have before.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Sarah, stop laughing- READ!" -Katie DK

We finished our week at grandma's with a fun dinner at Jesse's last night.

It was such a blessing to be able to all be together in New Hampshire this break.

Well we're anticipating our departure and Katie, my dear sister, is begging me to give her my new copy of "The Unidentified" which I've been reading the last few days. I still had a chunk left so I've been reading all morning trying to finish.

You see, Katie is a book blogger and had just finished writing her review of "The Scorch Trials" and wanted "The Unidentified" to be her first review in 2011.

So I was reading all morning and wasn't allowed to talk or laugh or anything because I had to finish. It was time to board the Dartmouth Coach to the airport and I had about eight pages left.

My brilliant plan was to take pictures of all the remaining pages.

Once on the bus I loaded the pictures.

And now I'm done!

"The Unidentified" is about a high school of the future. Now called The Game, students are consumers defining their individual education. Students choose everything from their level of play, submitting answers for points, and adjusting their intouch Profile on the network. Sponsors brand trendsetters and fund their future... for a trade-off. I loved Kid and her quirky confidence even before her popularity inflation. I loved the mystery, intrigue and deception of all the characters as the story unfolded.

Now in true Jessica's Daily Affirmation (and Session 3 CILTs) style: I love this bus. I love the wi-fi. I love watching the Karate Kid. I love my bag of pretzels. I love that I'm not car sick. I love that I get to read Jellicoe Road next. I love that I get to go to a birthday/new years party tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Books! Books! Books!

This afternoon we ventured out to one of our very favorite spots just over the river from grandma's.

If I collected Children's books I'd want this one. Katie and I were cracking up while reading it.

I found four new books for my classroom that I can't wait to read.

I've started Unidentified and it's already so good.

Jellicoe Road is one of Katie's all-time favorite books.

I want to read them all before school starts again- I don't know if that will be possible but I'll do my best.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Carving 13" of sick powder.

Our family friends, the Maynards, live in Vermont and Steve works at the Stratton ski area. They took Katie, Nick and I up on the mountain. Nick is a professional but Katie and I have only skied a few times.

We got on all the gear- base layers (cotton = death), snow-pants, extra warm socks, gator neck tucked into goggles, helmet (If you don't wear a helmet you'll run into a tree. And die.) and Dermatone (Vaseline like stuff to prevent frostbite and wind burn) spread on our faces- and were ready.

Katie had some graceful wipe-outs but never gave up. She's hardcore.

I fell once because the powder was so deep and hadn't been groomed yet. The toes of my skis went under and I went down. The Sarah Maynard fell when she tried to stop beside me. Nick came over and face-planted. Katie came next and wiped out. We were all dying laughing. 

Nick and I got up ok. Sarah couldn't get her ski back on so Nick resorted to picking her up and slamming her down on her ski to get it to click. One of Katie's skis got lost under the snow so we were all hitting the snow with our poles trying to locate it. Sarah dove into the snow and started digging like crazy. The snow patrol stopped by to ask if we were ok and then just kept going. 

Eventually we found it and started down the mountain again.

After a few runs down the mountain, a skate over to the Sun Bowl and a few runs there we headed inside to warm up and eat the best ski snack- FRENCH FRIES!
Nicks toe was white, Sarah Maynard's cheeks looked like white crayon on pink paper aka frostbite, and we were all cold.

Cate Maynard spilled a bucket of ketchup inside her sleeve.

Diet Coke made us feel a lot better too.

Back out to ski again.

 "I'm so dedicated to skiing. I would ski in a thunderstorm. Last weekend it was raining and I froze to the ski lift" - Sarah Maynard

Cate and Nick stuck together and skied back to the Sun Bowl after we missed the turn. Steve went back to get them and Katie, Sarah Maynard and I were, "the three best friends that anyone could have."

We went down Mike's way and Katie didn't fall once! Sarah trailed her coaching her on making big Ss and singing, "do do do da dooh, turning now, good, do do do da dooh, turning now."

The wind on the hill was crazy. It stopped us from moving on a downhill. It blew Cate Maynard over. I felt like we were skiing in a blizzard.

The Sarahs. We stuck together skiing after lunch too. She has been skiing since she was three years old. In her program right now she's learning to ski on one ski! I was so impressed with how patient she was with all of us all day. She really loves the mountain.

So my legs have lang bang and I'm sore all over but the day was wicked. We took the apex 6-pack and carved down the freshly groomed trails. We couldn't try the moguls on World Cup or we would have had a yard sale.

The five best friends that anyone could have.

Back at home we taught the Maynards to play 5 crowns, ate bear chili, and sang Potter Puppet Pals.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Holiday

I love airports. I love the people watching, getting a vanilla latte from Starbucks before my flight, perusing through a magazine, and I always want to (better never get to) play the airport waiting game.
First I flew to Baltimore.

Katie picked me up and we went to her school for the day. After chasing kindergartners down the hallway and having a crying little girl sit on my lap we picked up Nick and started the short drive to Grandmother's house. 10 hours later... We finally made it to New Hampshire.

Nick went above and beyond mastering the minute to win it challenge of stacking 3 golf balls. Impressive.

My favorite Christmas tradition is opening stockings right when we wake up. No matter where we are for Christmas we always bring our stockings along.

After stockings we eat cinnamon rolls, bacon, eggs, and coffee.

Then it's time for tree presents.

Just when she thought all the presents had been opened we brought out an extra special one for grandma with air holes poked in the box.

A CAT! He walks and shakes his head and kind of purrs. He'll be a great companion.

Time at Kendall at Hanover always calls for ping-pong. We were dying laughing as Mom, Kate, Nick and I attempted run-around.

The Wrights always play 5-crowns and drink our tonic with lime about once a day too. After dinner we joined four of grandma's friends for Mexican Train Dominoes in the game room. Two and a half hours later we made it all the way through the double-blank domino.

Then today was one of my favorite traditions- Lui Lui for pizza! In all our trips out East I don't think we've ever missed a trip to this restaurant. This fountain and the giant tomato oven are key landmarks.

Best. Pizza. Ever.

Katie, Nick and I packed up ham sandwiches for the trip and drove to Vermont to stay with our friends the Maynards. They lived at camp a long time a go and now send their girls in the summer each year. It was so fun to visit their house and see their life here.

Cate got us to play Lego Harry Potter Wii, Lego Star Wars Wii, and Resort Island Wii. She also sings all of Potter Puppet Pals.

My high of the day was sitting on the couch watching music videos and singing all of the TSwift songs with the other Sarah.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

Tonight we went to the candlelight service at my grandma's church in Norwich, VT. I remember candlelight services growing up at the Methodist church in Delphi and I love that you can get that same experience anywhere on this night.

It's a night of traditional songs, verses, and prayers. To be honest, it's hard for me to connect to God in those rituals. I'd prefer to be singing In Christ Alone, Blessed Be Your Name, or Lay My Burdens Down because those songs are more a part of my history of faith.

But my favorite part is the advent candles. I never really thought about what they stand for before this year but heard a great sermon last week at Common Ground about the peace, the fourth candle, that really connected with me.

Tonight we lit the Christ candle and the four candles surrounding it for hope, peace, love, and joy. How amazing that Christ brought those to us and makes those things possible day after day. Those are the things I want to celebrate and that I want my life to shine.

Finding Joy

My friend Alli started a new blog yesterday and I love it!
The other day Molly and I were talking about how wonderful Alli is. she seems like an introvert at first because she is so calm and easy-going but she is also an extrovert with so much love and JOY to share.This made me so inspired,

"I want to contribute good to this world. I want to be a joy-spreader and a joy-finder. I want to discover happiness amidst sadness and then help others to do the same. I want other people to see God's love in me and feel inspired to do good and spread joy themselves. My goal over the next year, though, is to find joy. I want to seek it out in every moment."

Go check out Finding Joy

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

This makes it feel like Christmas.

I've been playing the Top 10 game with some friends lately and we've made some good lists and I've learned about my friends: 

Top 10 Things I've Learned in the Past Year
Top 10 New People in my Life and Something I Learned From Them
Top 10 Things I Believe 
Top 10 Qualities of a Friend/ Someone Who Has It

Molly has started this project that she calls "The Wall O' Fun". The only pictures that are allowed to be on it are pictures of when she was really, really having fun. So she doesn't put up pictures that she looked the cutest in or of the biggest events- just the really fun ones. This is going up on the wall.

Tonight I'm asking friends, "What's your favorite Christmas tradition?" These responses are just making me so happy.

  • I like that we open presents in the same order every year.
  • Every year about a week before Christmas my mom, sister and me and two of our friends have a Christmas cookie baking day. We've done it every single year since I was four and it's so fun. We jam to Christmas music while making numerous varieties of cookies and frost them. 
  • Cinnamon rolls and egg casserole for breakfast!
  • Opening stockings!
  • Making Christmas cookies with the fam.
  • Family breakfast Christmas morning.
  • Baking Christmas bread at my yia yias house. Greek tradition.
  • All of the McGills making a different appetizer for the Christmas Eve dinner.
  • Everyone hanging out in their pjs, drinking coffee all morning before Mass. Usually Dad, Mom, and I workout so we're never just in pjs together.
  • Getting McDonald's fries and going to look at Christmas lights. On Christmas Eve me and my sisters exchange gifts.
  • Reading the Polar Express.
  • Singing Christmas carols Christmas Eve youngest to oldest (3 years to 77 years old) about 27 people!
  • Watching a Christmas story after we open presents and saying all the funny parts with Jimmy and Joey!
  • Singing Christmas carols. Like all the time, I sing non-stop for 24 hours. I especially like doing it with Kelsey and Neil when we're doing dishes.
  • Candlelight Christmas Eve service.
  • Sleeping in the same room as my siblings Christmas Eve.
  • My family all coming over on Christmas Eve.
  • Baking cookies with all my friends. Then making a gingerbread house in the same day.
  • Running in the snow/cold.
  • Homemade sibling presents. We made a policy about 8 years ago and they have been way better since.
  • Having my mom read my sisters and me a children's Christmas book on Christmas Eve while we eat peppermint stick ice-cream.
  • Christmas Eve service followed by a fondue dinner followed by presents from siblings.
  • Watching the Christmas Story with my family.
  • Waiting at the top of the stairs Christmas morning with my sisters. Ellen gets so excited and comes and wakes us up super early. Then we have to wait for everyone at the top of the stairs. Mom takes an ugly picture of us when we're still half asleep.
  • Christmas music. I'd listen to it all year if my roommates wouldn't hate me for it.
  • Going to church on Christmas Eve with my family. Simple but I love it.
  • Seeing people's surprised faces when they open their gifts.
  • Decorating gingerbread houses with my grandma and eating all the candy when she isn't looking!
  • Christmas shopping with my best friend Emily right after finals end.
  • Dressing up as the grinch characters and doing a reenactment.
  • Reading the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve with a fire and a cup of egg nog.
  • Christmas Eve family reunion.
  • Angel chimes- they are these candles that make these angels spin and hit these bells. It makes such a pretty sound.
  • Me, Jimmy, and Joe take turns being Santa on Christmas morning and passing out presents. And cinnamon rolls for breakfast.
  • Christmas Eve mass with the entire Fitz clan, and the late night drive home singing Christmas songs with my dad.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"Guess who at this table got a weave this week."

I love traditions- especially ones that involve camp friends and eating lunch together. For three years now we have gathered anyone that could come at Paradise for lunch a few days before Christmas. Today my mom called while I was there and said, "Oh you're with camp friends in paradise? That just sounds perfect!" 

I think it's so cool how this group stays connected. Some of these friends haven't worked for a couple summers. Emily and Lil drove 2 hours just for lunch. We haven't seen each other in months and we are all just so happy to be together. 




We sat in Paradise for four hours telling stories about what is going on in our lives, drinking probs too much Diet Coke, talking about what is happening next, and plans for Christmas.



I first saw Wicked in Chicago with Kata a couple years ago and Molls and I were so excited to see it here in Indy. 

I love the whole production- the songs, costumes, set, choreography, and storyline. I love that Elphaba and Glinda are friends even though they're so different.  I love that you can hear everyone in the audience whisper-singing along to the songs. I love that the songs make more sense after seeing the show. I love that Elphaba really isn't wicked at all but is one of my favorite fictional characters ever. I love that Elphaba is such a rockstar, "AND NOBODY IN ALL OF OZ, NO WIZARD THAT THERE IS OR WAS, IS EVER GONNA BRING MEEEEEEEEE DOWN!"

"So if you care to find me, look to the Western sky. As someone told me lately "Everyone deserves a chance to fly". And if I'm flying solo, at least I'm flying free. To those who ground me, take a message back from me- tell them how I  am defying gravity."