Saturday, March 31, 2012

Lincoln's First Spring Break Has Begun!

Friday morning I got picked up by Katie, Nick and baby Lincoln. We threw my stuff into the van and were on the road to Orlando, FL.

The most entertaining, most precious and most photogenic awards all go to Linc for the ride South.

We drove all day long, stopped for some Cracker Barrel dinner like our parents trained us to do, took turns sleeping and driving (well, Nick did almost all the driving) through the night, and ended up at Westgate by 7am. We were very glad to have finally made it.

Just in case you were concerned we wouldn't document everything, this week will be full of plenty of pictures of this little duder.

We couldn't check-in until late afternoon so we did a cruise through Celebration (think Pleasantville Disney style), Nick and I ran through Downtown Disney, took Linc on a walk, ate lunch at the House of Blues and sat in the car reading books.

Finally we moved in and headed to the pool for Linc's first swim.

He LOVED it.

The water was a bit cold because of the rain so we had to cut playtime short to head to the grocery.

Highlights of our first night included pepperoni pizza, the KU victory, more books and a sisterly battle of Bananagrams. We're good at Spring Break.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reasons We Love Camp T. Love, Mags, Annie and Sar

1. Seeing your best friends so much that parting for 25 hours on the weekend feels like an eternity
2. Chapel songs get stuck in your head
3. Baked oatmeal is the breakfast of champions
4. There is nothing like sharing a cabin and bathroom with 11, or 32, other people
5. Wolf Shirt Wednesday ahoooooooooooooooo
6. Campers open up and tell you hard things and make you feel needed
7. Baked ziti. mmmmmmmmmmm
8. Waking up to This Side and TSwift
9. You forget about real life problems for a little bit and get to just be
10. I feel home
11. It's this huge extended family. When you look back at old DVDs of other summers you spot people you've met since then, "Oh that's Alli!" or "Look how young Zach looks!"
12. You're exhuasted because you're living life to the full every second of the day
13. Closing Campfire is the coolest thing in the world I'm pretty sure
14. Downsizing to just your swimsuit and flip-flops is the best fashion decision
15. Sleepouts under the stars
16. You get a nap EVERY SINGLE DAY
17. You're disconnected from technology and it's ok
18. People are so happy to be with each other
19. The salad bar is sooo good
20. Everything is brighter and happier and funner

21. You pray holding hands in devotions and sometimes in chapel.
22. Age doesn't matter. You can be best friends with an 8, 15, or 24 year old.
23. Taylor Swift. Wednesday Lunch. Enough said.
24. Wooden nametags are the work of a genuis.
25. People are protective of the positive culture. They point CTI-ness, build people up, and DLP good things.
26. Friday night theme dinners belting Rebecca black at the top of our lungs
27. Waking up and having a dance party in front of trading post before flagpole is totally acceptable
28. Watching your kids grow; earning a blue swim band, riding a horse for the first time, making a new best friend, is one of the coolest things ever
29. The nurses give you freeze pops when it's hot
30. People get so excited to see each other that whenever they do it's a running/jumping hug
31. We're like really tan and in shape at camp.
32. I love check-in days when all the counselors jump in the pool during swim check in their staff shirt.
33. Fireworks 4th of July week on the hill with all the kids.
34. Pop stop hang out parties.
35. Rachel Wilson says, "Mud hikes... definitely"
36. Watermelon winner is possibly the greatest day camp game ever
37. Kids will pull the worms in half during fishing and think its fun, so you don't have to touch em! (;
38. Sunday nights on the porch when all 4 counselors and day camp are there together
39. Reading cold tangerines before bed
40. HOH-ing with Popsicles and kiddos at trading post

41. The strategy behind getting the most pizza you possibly can for lunch
42. Talking about struggles is easier because everyone really wants to help
43. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalligator (still my favorite song, even if i can't sing it anymore)
44. Hearing all the pathfinder girls cry during closing campfire
45. White v-necks
46. Running shorts all day everyday
47. Brave capture the flag
48. When it's so hot that all activities become water games
49. The trends that catch on every year
50. Day camp campfire is SO fun
51. The race to the cereal stand
52. Seeing all the braves' shoes lined up outside
53. Everyone's best friends by tuesday
54. CILT cheers
55. Freeze pops (the red ones)
56. You're crying so people cry too because they love you
57. When you make it past the second ring on Something Big
58. Caterpillars and pinecones and rocks and sticks become friends and get names
59. Gold Rush, Sports Rush
60. The best heart to hearts

61. The day we get our staff sweatshirts
62. Nights off at the silver dipper
63. If its your birthday you're treated like a king/queen! Order of the oar!
64. Combined cabin names like creekasaw and (what's the boys one? Miami hawk or something? )
65. When your res kids get really excited to see you after day camp all day
66. When pathfinders aren't too old to hold your hand
67. Doing little things that are funny like telling campers that James' name is Maggie
68. Getting letters from home
69. When everyone has ten times more highs than lows for the day
70. Feeling accomplished at the end of the day
71. Stayover weekends when everyone gets closer
72. Getting mail from campers after they've gone home
73. "opening campfire because of how we dress up" says Rachel.
74. coming back early from nights off b/c you miss everyone
75. walking around camp just for the fun of it
76. Family night when you get to talk to the parents about how great their kid is
77. Walk the plank is so funny every week
78. Getting a friendship bracelet is better than getting a diamond one
79. Playing with camp kids like shay Braden and Raegan
80. Desert Pete!

81. The room chapel because I feel like it makes everyone really think
82. SHAMU in the pool
83. digging up clay in the shallow end of the lake with kids
84. playing "remember when..." with counselors about all the previous weeks
85. everyone smiles pretty much all the time
86. Standing in the back of chapel and watching everyone
87. Doing dc awards with your partners and laughing while you think of names
88. When campers arrive one by one and you make awkward small talk and go through the schedule
89. Crying with the pathfinders because you don't want them to leave either
90. When you get closer to home friends because they come to camp with you
91. There are 7 whales in Richard g marsh lake, and syrup in Irving.
92. Sitting in circles talking about life is an everyday occurrence
93. Prayer bracelets with the braves
94. No makeup is normal
95. Counselor ultimate frisbee and soccer on Fridays
96. When little campers remember your name
97. The people who get really into GaGa
98. The fact that a large amount of Brazil's population works at camp
99. Singing songs while you walk places and having passing cabins or trail groups join in
100. Chatterbox prayers

101. Growing like a tree in Johnny Appleseed
102. Playing the iPod game with CILTs
103. Theta Kappa Lambda sis koom bah
104. When you accidentally match someone and get so excited
105. overalls... whenever possible...
106. Highs and lows every night
107. Grilled cheese for lunch
108. Learning to love and be loved
109. Country hoe-down theme dinner
110. Glow stick campfire
111. when new counselor clothes arrive and everyone puts them on right away
112. watching what little kids eat at meals... like 10 rolls or a plate of cheese and ranch dressing.
113. fresh candles at the beginning of the summer that get burned most of the way down and have dead bugs trapped in the wax by the end
114. the rope swing at the lake, so simple but the most fun
115. walking in the horse parade and yelling cheers most of the way
116. swimming to the blob as fast as you can because you only get a few minutes
117. CORNDOGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love them oh my gosh
118. ice cream sandwiches for dessert
119. always having a crush on Arapaho
120. getting to work dc shoutout or cup stacking or watermelon winner

121. Molly Brunner's side pony tail
122. Getting pictures from little campers
123. All the treasures waiting to be found at VONS
124. Starspinning with the pathfinders
125. Watching hip hop clinic at closing campfire
126. Clipboards and camelback water bottles
127. When braves sleep during rest hour
128. Playing 4 square at trading post
129. Everyone fits in
130. Noodles for dinner at least once a week
131. When Arielle makes me laugh so hard I cry
132. Carolyn Kata's dance moves
133. Dance parties in the CAC
134. Krafty's stories
135. Evan's riddles
136. Singing little red wagon till you lose your voice
137. When Mary lets me sit on her lap on the porch
138. When day campers get so excited to spend the night Thursday
139. When Shannon gives you a ride on the golf cart
140. One piece swimsuit tan lines are totally acceptable

141. Songfest- from katie dixon
142. getting apples four times a day
143. yelling Y-M! and then C-A! at campfire
144. Posing next to the statue of the lady outside the CAC
145. Joel saying what the hobb
146. Giving piggybacks to kiddos across main field
147. When Brock tries to kiss you every time you see him
148. Water extravaganza and cheeto head
149. Devotions on the suspension bridge
150. Working together to try to break the jump rope record, or just try to get to 100 if you're in the RV
151. The bond every girl that has ever lived in Teton share
152. Hugs from Colleen Kelley
153. Rachel's goodnight dear _____, goodnight and take your rest song
154. mail from people on their weeks off
155. The owl at the top of mount wood
156. Recognizing old kids on check-in day, better yet when they remember you first
157. Not being at school
158. Singing on the Longhouse porch after lunch
159. Anything that has to do with the Yurt
160. Bright backpacks dripping with bracelets and keychains and bead buddies and ribbons and stuff

161. Looking forward to devotions
162. Encouraging campers on during swim check
163. Talking to warrior or pathfinder girls during trading post
164. Running to your friends' cabins on nights off to see what they're wearing or borrow clothes
165. Coming back early from nights off to be in devotions
166. Getting to meet the siblings of your campers and becoming friends with them too
167. Living out of plastic drawers
168. Having discussions about what the lyrics of songs mean with Blazer girls
169. Kids that are really quirky i.e. they talk in accent all week or carry around a catepillar or do impersonations of Fabio
170. When you realize that helping kids have fun and feel loved is your favorite part of the job

102 days until summer camp 2012 and we can hardly wait.

Spring Break has begun!

The 8th graders have begun their Rube Goldberg projects--a complex series of steps designed to accomplish one simple task. Today Maddie and Katy ran into my room to show me their Rube Goldberg's mascot Lamb Chop. I'm obsessed.

The shirts have been unraveled and I'm in love. Especially with numbers one and four, my best work for sure. Number two is the 'dirty little hippie' shirt. Three reminds me of cotton candy. Five is trying to keep up with the rest. Now we're crossing our fingers that they'll stay this cool after they've been rinsed out.

Additional evidence as to why my roommates are great: I get home from school and lay down on the floor at the top of the stairs because I am so completely exhausted. Colleen and Emel then inform that I have to get up and put on my running clothes because we're all going to run today, everyone is the apartment must run, no negotiations. After much complaining I eventually agreed but then laid out my own demands. I would run four miles, Emel had to run five and Colleen had to run six so we would all finish at about the same time. They both agreed to my demands.

After the run I was drinking water and trying to recover but Emel was still bursting with energy and asking if I'd play with her. Usually I'm the person asking people to play. So we dumped out bananagrams and spelled until Colleen returned.

Colleen and Emel left to buy new bikes and Emily came over so we could get pizza for dinner because that's the best way to start Spring Break.

I'm mostly packed and ready to start the long drive to Florida tomorrow....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Molting molar and twitchmeister forever.

Life is not perfect all the time.

Most of the time I write just about the good things because that's what I want to remember, that's what I want to be my focus, that's what gives me hope that tomorrow is going to be good too. But sometimes students don't listen well or they staple their paper on the right every single time or they ask questions they already know the answer too. And sometimes we lose people we love or we wake up late and feel rushed all day or we have so much to do it feels like it'll never get finished. Sometimes life is not perfect. And that's ok.

And when life isn't perfect that's exactly when I want to have the vision to look through the hard and difficult moments to see the great things, the blessings of the day. That's why we keep practicing positivity and optimism. Because having this attitude is not something you're born with, it's something you work at and practice.

Today I got to wear a wolf shirt, had chili for lunch, cheered on Samantha and Megan at their track meet, was surprised to see Emily, Rachel and Courtney too, ate dinner and got ice-cream with Colleen, unwound the tie-dyes from Tuesday and they're SO fun.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"You smell like ham. They smell like fruit cocktail."

I heard this song on the radio this morning and am now thoroughly obsessed with Live Like That by Sidewalk Prophets.

I love Meredith's monologues on Grey's Anatomy,

"You can seek the advice of others, surround yourself with trusted advisers. But in the end the decision is always yours, and yours alone. And when it's time to act and you're all alone with your back against the wall, the only voice that matters is the one in your head. The one telling you what you probably already knew, the one that's almost always right."

I've made t-shirts with spray paint and masking tape before but never anything as cool as what I found on Pinterest today. I need to step up my game. Who wants to craft?

Today I got to send some mail, which I haven't done a lot of since my February letter-a-day month.

We tie-dyed t-shirts and broke Guinness World records at Young Life club. It was so fun to hang out with the freshmen girls. Anna set a record for 56 somersaults in a minute and Jake set a record for number of AA batteries held in his hand at one time.

I'm excited to see how the shirts will turn out but I'm making myself be really patient about waiting to wash them so I won't rinse all the color out like I usually do. They'll be ready just in time for Spring Break.

I found this today and it sums up exactly what I think at the end of everyday. Today I did so many great things but I still wish I had a couple more hours to have gone on a walk, started my new book, talked to Colleen, hung out with Erin, fixed a couple more chapters and Skyped Annie. Tomorrow I'll make sure to do even more of the things that are important and valuable.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Top 10 Things I Loved Today

1. When I woke up the first thing I saw on my computer was that Camp Tecumseh won the Brackets For Good tournament! We not only raised over $11,000 but won an additional prize of $5,000 that will all go to camperships.

2. I was excited to go to school this morning and see my students even though it was a Monday. It's a great feeling when I really want to go to work after the weekend.

3. My blister disappeared so I got back out to the Monon to run 4 miles after school. The cooler weather made runners sparse but it was still beautiful.

4. My Mom came into town tonight because she is flying out tomorrow. I love when I get to see her even if it's a quick visit.

5. I got a letter from Rachel in the mail today and the randomness of it made me laugh. I think she's great. Questions to think on: What's one of your life dreams? Would you rather not have feeling or not have to sleep?

6. I've been going back through all of my camp chapters to edit and revise and title them by hand and I finished today. It feels like I'm making progress. Now to go back and make all those changes on the computer...

7. At leadership tonight we talked a bit about the community of our group and how we love each other well because it's innately part of our culture.

8. The mom that made us dinner tonight brought sloppy joes, gourmet cheesey potato casserole, fruit salad with only the best kinds of fruit, layered taco dip, and chocolate peanut butter bars.

9. Our Campaigners group tonight was just Megan, Kayla, Heather, Eshan and I. Sometimes a smaller group is great and I was thankful for our conversation about the discussion sheet and just about life.

10. I love living with Emel and Colleen. When we're all together at the end of the day it reminds me of Rory and Lorelai Gilmore talking at warp speed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Peoria Adventure: My little guy... The man wants me... You win some, you lose some...

After three and a half hours, two Diet Cokes and singing songs with Molly until our iPod died, we pulled up to Mag's house in Peoria. We've been planning this trip for weeks--to surprise two friends at their play and be reunited with a handful of other camp people.

We had a fan club going to the play together, but they didn't all know that Molls and I would be part of it.  After screaming and hugging every time someone arrived, the Mooney sisters, Jocele, Natalie, Ally, Katie, Molly, Karson, Mags and I all caravaned to Richwoods.

MaryClaire was Kim, a HS president of the Conrad Birdie fan club, and Abby was one of the other HS girls in the group.

We all sat up a bit straighter whenever they came on stage, so excited to see our friends sing and dance. They were fantastic and I'm so glad we got watch them in this show they've been working on for so long.

We stood out in the hallway waiting for them after the final curtain went down. MaryClaire and Abby came out expecting to be greeted by their home friends but went into shock, screaming and crying when they saw Molls and I standing there. We love surprises. The looks on their faces were priceless.

Everyone went to Sweet Cece's, Peoria frozen yogurt, for dessert and then had a dance party in the empty parking lot. It was the start to a weekend of celebration.

A small group of the girls came back to Maggie's to play the game of things, hang out and spend the night.

It felt like a night back at Tecumseh with a cabin full of great friends.

I love how MaryClaire makes everything about cats and Katie Dixon never stops laughing and Peanut's comments are the best and Mags is so glad everyone is together.

After breakfast Saturday morning, Molls and I went to meet up with Sarah and Michelle while Mags went to a wedding shower. The Mooneys took us on a tour of Peoria, with Peanut's unending history lessons all along the way.

We went downtown to the waterfront docks where the Mooney's took their family pictures and took some of our own.

It might have smelled a bit like dead, rotting fish but the sunshine made up for it. I hadn't know that Sarah Mooney was going to be here this weekend and it was such a great surprise to get to spend so much time together. She was in Teton with me back in 2007 when we first declared we were twins. We are still finding that we are similar in so many ways and I loved getting to hang out with her. She is a beautiful soul.

These girls are good at adventures, at having fun, at singing loudly in public, at taking lots of pictures, at being creative.

One of my only requests for the day was that we eat pizza for lunch, so we picked up Monical's and McDonald's Diet Coke. Peanut drove us to our picnic site-- the WMBD, aka Granview Drive, aka World's Most Beautiful Drive which was nicknamed by the one and only Theodore Roosevelt when he visited here.

Eating outside with friends is one of my favorite things.

There were so many people walking by with their dogs that tried to snag some of our pizza. We finished it quickly and then devoted plenty of time to just living the dream.

Mags reunited with us here after she finished at the shower. She really missed us while she was gone.

Our next stop was an ice-cream place called The Spotted Cow to meet up with Maggie's friends Mia and Sydney. I've heard so many stories about both of them and I was really excited to finally meet them in person. We finished our ice-cream and went outside to geo-cache. We'd all given up finding the container except for Sarah and in a few minutes she found it--impressive. Sar signed her name to the log and then put it back in it's hiding spot.

I suggested we go on a scavenger hunt in Peoria. We quickly broke into two random teams and created lists of things to find.

I got to be with both Sarah and Michelle Mooney and Mia. #winning We found a baby, a dog, a gnome, a red head, a cross, a swing, 10 high-fives, John Winkler's autograph, a grape, a fountain, and another body of water before the time was up.

Neither team could find a speed limit sign that didn't end with a 5 or 0... so we tied.

Maggie planned a camp dinner at Flap Top so we could see our favorite camp people some more.

We were joined by Hadley, JACK MCGEE! Mia, Katie, Michelle, Ally, Jocele and Sar. I love that we all talk the whole time, that everyone answers meal questions, that all of these people are somehow connected by camp and it creates this instant bond of friendship even if they hadn't met before this night.

Jack and Maggie made some friends, everyone played the scenerio picture game, we tried to find two more geo-cache sites, and talked in cliches and song titles.

It's so easy to have fun with camp friends. Being a counselor for so many summers has been the biggest blessing of my life and created friendships and connections with so many people. Weekends like this remind me that joy and love and kindness are found when you give those things to other people. It's really that easy.

Another item on my Peoria bucket list was "having Oreo's and milk with Bubba" like Maggie does at the end of everyday. We checked that off the list Saturday night. I loved getting to spend time with both of her parents this weekend. They are hilarious, welcoming, smart, kind and it's easy to see that they love Maggie so much.

This morning Molls, Mags and I went to Le Peep for breakfast. We have the same restaurant in Indy but never before had we eaten a gooey bun. Besides our own breakfasts, we all shared the English Muffin topped with cinnamon, butter, sugar and cream cheese and I almost died of bliss.

One of my favorite parts of today was just sitting on the couch watching Spanglish together when we got back to the house. It's fun running around doing all of these special things, but I love doing really regular things together that we normally can't because we're so far away.

Our last visit was from Maggie and Ellie Pearl and Jocele. We thought we wouldn't get to see each other this weekend, but with a turn of events we ended up overlapping. It was so good to see El after so long and to watch all of these girls be goofy together. They're all lucky to have each other.

Weekends like this remind me why I started blogging in the first place. I wanted to document all of the different people that my life overlaps with. I wanted to be able to share how incredible my friends, campers, YL girls and fellow leaders, family, and students are. I wanted to make relationships a priority.

All of that is still true and it's why I'm still blogging. And the almost two years I've been writing this have made me so much more intentional about investing in people. I want to keep doing that because I'm continually seeing that it's what really matters.

Ellie has a spirit of perseverance and a joy about her that is so incredible. Molly makes me laugh and makes me think, she is bold and speaks her mind. Michelle, aka Peanut, encourages me to live a life I'm proud of even if it's difficult along the way and to be intentional about creating joy. MaryClaire is creative and loves her friends so much. Maggie is ridiculously loyal and always knows just how to make people feel included and important. Sar is patient, wise, embraces what inspires her, knows how to live life to the full and seeks after God's heart. Katie listens so well to people and lets you know that she's so excited just to be with you. Jocele has spunk and people naturally just want to be around her because she is a great friend. Jack is humble and wise, he cares about bringing joy to other people and he doesn't even know when he's inspiring people all around him. Ally wants to hear people's stories and she recognizes what makes people special. I love these friends.