Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Life, Homeschool, and a Forks Teaser

This is the 5th first sentence I've written for this blog. I do that a lot. I try something; it doesn't work. Then I try another. Fail. Rinse and repeat.

I feel like my writing is a little sub-standard at the moment. I'm pretty exhausted. These past couple weeks have just wiped me out. And I've spent the last 2 days pouring over school books, trying to catch up with my studies (because the 1st week I didn't have the books, the 2nd week I went to Forks, the 3rd week I spent all my spare time packing, and the 4th week we moved in and our car broke down on the way to school). I am a painfully slow reader, but I'm getting there. And I feel pretty confident that once I get caught up, keeping up will be fairly easy.

Hanging out with my favorite people.

Jermaine has been helping out a lot with homeschool. He's such a good teacher. By the time he leaves, I'll be caught up with seminary and have time for homeschool and my school everyday, but right now he's absolutely a lifesaver.

Here are a few Sadie School projects we've been working on:

  • She wrote a poem the other day in the car. Rather, she thought one up, recorded it on my phone and then wrote it down when she got home. Next, she'll type it up and share it with you. :)
  • We've been reading through the Chronicles of Narnia together. I read a chapter every night - and two nights ago we finished the first book, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. We're reading Prince Caspian now. It's especially great fun because I do all the accents. 
  • We have several workbooks going. BrainQuest has a workbook with a bunch of subjects. She did a lot of work with US geography today. We have a couple of Sylvan books - one for math and one for language arts. She's been working on long and short vowels in the one, and basic multiplication in the other.
  • I got a Gifted and Talented workbook, too. It's main purpose is to foster critical thinking. She is very smart, but often lacks confidence and asks questions to which she already knows the answers. I had her open the book, and without any instruction from me (there were instructions on her sheet), she was to fill out the first page. It happened to be on synonyms. I was really proud - she easily read the instructions on her own and knew what a synonym was! She got a lot of the answers correct -and what she got wrong was because she didn't know the meanings of the words. 
  • We've been practicing handwriting, penmanship and basic grammar. She, like me, tries to write too fast and gets sloppy.
  • We are working on a project helping Polaris Project come up with a party guide for people who want to host events to raise awareness about human trafficking. We are going to create a short video together explaining what trafficking is and how people (and kids!) can help (and stay safe!).
Heh. I had planned on writing about day 3 in Forks. That hasn't really panned out yet. I think . . . hmmm. Let's do a teaser instead:


We woke up Sunday morning just feeling right. Fully relaxed, the day stretched out wide in front of us. Andrea had gotten up early again. Unfortunately, it was officially raining in Forks (finally). She didn't mind, except that there was, of course, no sunrise. I woke up around 7:30. I then came to the revolutionary conclusion that I was born to be on West Coast time. This explains why I'm happiest waking up here in Maryland at 10am and going to bed around 1am. When I have been on the west coast (the 3 times anyway) I've woken up gloriously early and felt sleepy before midnight!

Anyhoo. We wafted down to breakfast. This particular morning we were greeted with an invitation to enjoy French toast stuffed with apples and walnuts - and we did! I drank deeply my coffee from their pretty handthrown ceramic mugs (the best part of waking up). Bill, our host, informed everyone that high tide at 1st Beach was at 9:30am - and that that was the best time to go. We decided to drop everything and head over there, something neither of us normally have the luxury of doing. We borrowed raincoats from the Inn and headed down the road . . . 

To be continued. ;)

PS. If you think that you might die before I finish the rest of the writings about Forks (and you want to read about it before you do), take heart - Andrea finished all of her blogs! She, as you know, has a tendency to be one (or five) steps ahead of me. Hanging out with her for those few days and then going back and reading her blogs (that were, although they recorded the same events, very different from mine), I realized something. God has given her the gift of details. He's given me the gift of the big picture. I can tell you what it all means; she can tell you everything. Jermaine is a details person, too. But in a much different way, I think. He looks at the specifics for the beauty he might find in the little things. Andrea looks at details (as I look at the big picture) in a more practical way - to discover what it means and what we have to do next. None of these ways are wrong; all three are beautiful. And I feel blessed to have gained this bit of insight (especially about myself - I think it will help guard against certain frustrations that I have commonly faced to know that I am not, by nature, a woman of details (although, as I'm sure you've seen, I use them to get to the big picture)).

Huh. That was quite a long PS. Thank you for reading my blog. ;)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fascinating People

I'm in a poetic sort of place.
I want to tell you a story.
My story.
In a rhythmatic sort of way.
And make up words.
Because I can.
Because I can't be bothered with rules
Right now.

This week I read The War of Art.
Pressfield said,
Among other gems.
That people do drugs
To get to the (their) authentic Self.
That fascinates me.

And, I think
Explains why addicts are
Such interesting people.
Because though the method may be flawed.

The motive is intensely pure and inspiring.

Other people try other ways, too.
We cut.
We starve.
We shop.
We steal.
We smoke.
We consume.

And we condemn.

But if we take a moment to ponder
The motive is intensely pure and inspiring.

We were created for a purpose.
We were not told what it was but instead
We were given the task of hashing it out.

Of fighting to find it.

We cannot be anything we want to be.

I could not be a brain surgeon.
Or a telemarketer.

My hands shake too much.

But if we dare.
If we jump.
We will find that thing which we were made for.
Our hearts will sing the most beautiful song
We have ever heard
And we will need not our coping mechanisms.

Take heart, dear one.
Your vice.
Your pain.
Your crutch.
That thorn you hate makes you

Intensely pure and inspiring.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Day of Firsts

I am absolutely spent. I was up until 2am last night finishing my very first seminary paper. And then back up at 5am to get ready for school. Jermaine drove me so that he could have the car, and he went to bed even later than me! As you can probably imagine, the drive to Wesley was a drowsy one. But I was happy - the sun was coming up, I was getting to spend a little extra time with Jermaine and we were actually running early!

A flower from the gorgeous American University Campus.

Well, at first. Then the car died. That was awesome.

Our friend, Priscilla, graciously agreed to come pick us up (to take me the rest of the way to school and to take Sadie and Jermaine home). Such a sweet gal. As she drove me to school, I wondered how I was going to get home tonight. Jermaine suggested I take the bus, but I was stubborn. I've never ridden on a bus before and I was a little afraid.

I made it to my first class, but shortly after that, I hit a wall. I was exhausted. And frustrated. We found out the car was going to cost $800 to fix. It's not even worth that much! On to top it all off, Jermaine is leaving in less than two weeks and I'm panicking a bit. It's just come up so fast.

Around noon I decided that I couldn't make it the rest of the day. With this cop out, I solemnly promised not to miss anymore class. But for today, I sincerely believe it was a good idea to go home.** 

I dragged myself to the Metro. When I got off I began the search of finding the correct bus stop - a task that has always terrified me slightly. It didn't help that there were 8 different ones. I walked a half a mile to mine only to discover that it was the wrong one. I was so sleepy. 

Eventually I found the right number. Unfortunately that particular stop (or was it all of them?) was in the process of being taken over by stink bugs. A few flew on me. I squeaked and flailed. My fellow bus-riders were not amused. It didn't help my cause that I had to ask about fare (I had no idea what forms of payment they took). The total amounted to $1.70 and I was glad I could pay in cash but for some unknown reason I had only dimes and nickels in my purse. I finally scrounged up enough change and sat warily (for fear of stink bugs) waiting for my bus to come.

It was nearly 90 degrees. I was sweaty and exhausted. I know I'm blessed. I know how fortunate I am to have the opportunity to attend seminary, to homeschool my daughter and to write. But at that very moment I didn't feel very fortunate at all. Actually, I felt kind of gross.

Then I got a text. I opened up my phone to see what Jermaine had written (he had sweetly offered to come and wait for me at the other end of my bus destination). I wasn't prepared for this:

"YOU WERE SELECTED FOR THE INDIA TRIP!!!" << (Note the multiple exclamations!)

Holy eff! I almost started to cry! The email was supposed to come yesterday. When it didn't, I thought I hadn't made the cut. I praised God in that bus station, humbled and exuberant.

That was the turning point of the day. The rest has gone just fine. That text guided me - enabling me to put everything in perspective. 

I get to spend two weeks of my life this coming January loving others who need to be loved. I get to teach my daughter about human trafficking (a cause that I care about deeply), and about India, a country that has captured my heart. Details to come, of course.

I need to end this. We don't have internet in our new place yet - we are all at a bookstore right now (Sadie is having free reading time - where she can pick whatever book she wants regardless of the grade level - and she is absolutely loving it). But we need to start walking home. 

Thanks for reading my blog!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Forks: the play by play (Day Two)

One of the amazing shots Andrea took Saturday morning.

It's 6am and it's Move Day. I went to bed around 2am and I was hoping I'd get more sleep than this but feet woke me up, itching (I got some ants bites the other night while sitting around a beautiful fire). I'd set my alarm for 7am and I know if I lie back down I will sleep through my alarm.

But this is good, right? I will be tired at the end of the day, but I am excited enough to push through and, plus, I have a lot of work to do. We are picking up the keys at 10am and I still have a little bit of packing left; I wouldn't be able to blog if I haven't gotten up this early.

Okay, let's get on with Forks!


Andrea got up early. She went for a walk and watched the sun come up through the fog. She took some incredible pictures. I was a little sad that I'd missed the sunrise, but mostly happy for her. She needed the peace and quiet more than I did. I woke up around 7:30 and we wandered down to breakfast. As soon as we opened our bedroom door, the scent of home cooking wafted into our nostrils.

Some people were already downstairs eating. We chose a table and Bill, our most gracious host, asked us if we wanted Italian Eggs a la Edward. We did, of course, and so his wife Susan began to prepare our meal. I had never had Italian Eggs - an egg (perhaps poached) sitting onto of a slice of French bread with marinara and pesto sauce. This is not the type of thing that I would normally order so I had no idea how delicious it was going to be. We ate filled with gratitude. It was the perfect start to a vacation day.

After breakfast we got ready to begin our Forks adventures. I had Andrea take a picture of me with our rental car, whom we'd named Lola (Lily was our GPS). I really liked Lola. She starts with the push of a button and gets the best gas mileage of any car I'd ever known.

Me and Lola.
The view from the porch.
We went to Bella's booksale first. We got some books for our kids. I found a book by an emergent pastor from Port Angeles and another called Adventures in Prayer from the 1970s. In it, a name and address from Washington was scribbled. We meandered around Forks for a while, taking pictures at the hospital. Which, we agreed, was kind of a weird thing to do. We had a bit of trouble finding Dr. Cullen's parking spot. After circling the building a couple times, a very nice man on a tractor helped us locate it. Dr. Cullen does not, by the way, get to park close to the entrance.

Bella's booksale at the Forks Library.

Dr. Cullen's special spot.
After that we took a tour of the high school. Our guide actually attends Forks High School. I really felt that the people that had worked to put the tour together had gone to a lot of trouble to add some special touches. This was the first time it hit me that the people putting on Stephanie Meyer Weekend were local people who lived and breathed Forks. It wasn't a grand commercial endeavor. I thought that was pretty cool.

The high school is small, but it's divided
up into a couple of buildings and our guide said
that walking to and from was no fun at all in
the Forks rain.

Our guide kind of looks like Jessica, I think.
Token picture with the sign.

After the tour we went to the park. Again, local people made this happen. The more that hit me the more my more my gratitude for this special place grew.

This is one of my favorite pictures.

These people were look-alikes. James is on the left.
Jacob is on my other side. The girl on the right is
supposed to be Bella, I believe, but I think
she looks more like Jessica.

Andrea and I with Bella's truck.
We took a group shot at the park. And afterwards, we drove the 15 miles to La Push. We ended up at 2nd Beach, because we were told it was prettier than 1st Beach. We knew we had to walk through the forest to get to the beach, but we didn't realize that it was a 1 1/2 mile hike. I'm so glad we didn't. Andrea wouldn't have gone if she had known and we never would have gotten to experience that beautiful hike (which she ended up actually enjoying).

My camera is not meant for taking jumping pictures,
but that didn't stop me!

Andrea walks faster than I do, so I ended
up with a lot of pictures of the
back of her head.

This was when the peace really started to sink in.
This walk was the pivotal moment for me. This is the point in the trip where I truly left all of my anxieties behind and was truly able to just be. This is where I fell in love with Washington. I feel like this hike changed me deep in my core. It enhanced my desire for peace, love and beauty.

A prayer tree where people added rocks, shells, feathers
and notes as a symbol of their prayers.

Close up of the prayer tree.
I'm not sure that the hike was as peaceful for Andrea as it was for me. The beach is her happy place and she was eager to get there. She hadn't been to the west coast since she was born and had promised herself that she would dip her toes into the Pacific Ocean. This act, perhaps, was the moment where she was able to release her east coast anxieties.

I like this shot because of the shoes.

I had to eat my words in this video. Right after I turned the camera off, a huge wave drenched my shoes in cold ocean water.

Soaking wet shoes. :(

I was much happier barefoot.

This doesn't begin to portray the bigness of the beach.
After the beach and the walk back we were officially exhausted, but the good kind of exhausted - the peace-filled kind. We went to eat at the only restaurant in La Push. After living the DC area for the past couple years, it's odd to go to a place where you can't get anything you want. Really refreshing, though. You lose a sense of gratitude when your city constantly spoils you.

Andrea, full of peace, looking out the restaurant
window at 1st Beach.

I took this picture at the restaurant. I
was so happy to finally get a decent
picture of my tattoo.
After the restaurant we attempted to go to a campfire that was supposed to be on the beach. We waited and walked and never found it. I had put my flip flops on and so walking on the dark, windy, cold beach was quite unfun. We eventually gave up and later found out that they'd moved the event to the rec center. This was my least favorite part of the trip, but I was glad it happened after our wonderfully peaceful day. I was armed with enough tranquility to handle it.

We drove home in the dark rainy night on a winding road. I realized, funnily, that I was enjoying the drive! My least favorite thing to do is drive in the rain at night - but on this road with very little traffic, full of the peace of 2nd Beach, it was actually fun. This realization left a deep impression on me. You know those things you hold in your heart as a part of your being? Those things, good or bad, that make up who you think you are? Washington was working to steadily chip away at those things for me. Ever since, I've found myself examining who I am and who I want to be.

We got home around 10pm. Andrea was eager for rest. I poured a glass of wine and enjoyed the last fews moments of the day. We went to bed completely at peace, knowing that the next day had the potential to be just as wonderful as this day had been.

PS. I wrote the first half of this yesterday - this morning, as I type - we are officially moved in!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Forks: the play by play (Day One)

My favorite barista at Borders makes the best designs in the coffee.
I'm at Borders right now. And I think I've consumed too much coffee because I'm suddenly feeling very exhausted. But I've been reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and in it he talks about this thing called "Resistance", which is basically an evil force that's only goal is to keep people from doing their creative work. And so I want to use the excuse that I'm too tired to blog because I've spent the last two hours working on another project that I'm committed to (putting together a party kit resource list for Polaris Project) but I know my excuse is Resistance and so I'm resisting Resistance and plugging away.

Wow. I think that's the longest starting paragraph I've ever written.

Couple of notes before I get into the goods about Forks:
  • As you may have noticed, I haven't been writing everyday. I've decided that it doesn't matter. Blogging daily is still the goal. But, I can't make up for the past and I don't care to beat myself up about it. Every day is a new day to try again.
  • The other day I was struck with what I considered to be brilliant idea. Rob Bell is going to be at MHGS in Seattle on October 30th to talk about the Art of the Sermon. He did a huge conference in Michigan a year or two ago called Poets, Prophets and Preachers. I really wanted to go, but, couldn't, of course. They are eventually coming out on film, but I feel like I've been waiting for a very very long time. So, my brilliant idea was to actually go to Seattle - to make the money via cleaning jobs and fly over there. I talked to Jermaine about it and I decided to pray and then, if I still felt compelled, to go for it. The very same day I was thinking all of this, I happened to check Rob Bell's website aaand unbelievably it had been released!! 5 hours worth of film! Haha! It was like God speaking a big fat NO into my brilliant scheme. A-mazing.
  • Last night I had the great fortune to go on a date with my husband. We don't get many of those. It was magical. And while on the date I discovered my love of being a tourist in my own town.
Me in downtown Bethesda. It's kinda beautiful there.
We found this at the gift shop and the Regency Hyatt
in Bethesda. Seriously, is this the best Maryland can do??
We went to this awesome French
Country cafe for breakfast called
Le Madeleine. I think it's my new
 favorite restaurant.
Okay. Now we can get on with Forks.


It was mad. We got up at 2:30am in Gloucester to catch a 6:45am flight in Richmond. Effectually, we were tired before we even started. But we didn't care. Both of us had been looking forward to this trip for so long, we could hardly sleep anyway. Neither of us have mastered the art of sleeping on a plane, either, so we read and squirmed in excited anticipation.

Andrea got the window seat. 

We got to Seattle around 11am (which was 2pm to us). We had to wait a little while for the car rental which annoyed us because we booked it in January. But the rental people were really nice. And, in all fairness, since they didn't have any mid-size cars readily available, they offered to upgrade us for free, but I wouldn't do it. I had to drive and I'm not comfortable in big vehicles on familiar roads. I didn't want to even think about driving a mini-van in Washington.

The first thing we noticed when we stepped off the plane was that people seemed generally more happy in Washington than they did on the east coast. And, as a result, it seemed, they were nicer. We drove through one of the sketchier parts of Seattle and ended up at Vince's, a cute little Italian restaurant. I got pizza, something I'd been craving for days. Andrea was starting to get a little antsy; she'd planned for us to be arriving in Forks about now, but we hadn't made it out of Seattle. And to make matters worse, my coffee addiction was rearing it's ugly head, so I had to stop and postpone our trip for another couple of moments.

Our first glimpse of downtown Seattle.

Finally, at around 3:30pm, we made it onto the ferry. We parked and walked around. It was a short ferry ride, but it refreshed us somehow. And it gave us the energy to begin the last leg of our trip.

After breathing in airport air all morning,
the Washington wind was glorious.

From the ferry to Forks took about 3 hours. And it was there that things started getting strangely beautiful. We had no idea what we were in for. Route 101, which takes you from Port Angeles to Forks is just swimming with the kind of beauty that makes words fail. The entire journey took about 20 hours and we were verifiably exhausted, but, at this point, more than ever, WE DIDN'T CARE. We knew it was going to be worth it.

The beauty between Port Angeles and Forks.

On this day we watched the sun coming up
at an airport in Richmond, VA and watched it
go down in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.

About 5 miles away from Forks we got pulled over for speeding. It was the craziest thing. Normally, I'm terrified in those situations and it felt like a ticket would be a bad start. But, I didn't feel scared, I thought to myself, "Eh, it wouldn't be the end of the world." The cop approached our window . . .

He was so nice. 

He said he'd pulled us over because we were going 60 in a 50, but that 10 miles over wasn't that bad. He asked where we were going and when we said Forks, he smiled kindly. And he knew the owners of the Inn where we were staying, he remarked that they were very kind. He told us he didn't want to give us a ticket and ruin our weekend, he just wanted us to be safe. What we thought might be a bad omen, turned out to be a highlight of our trip!

This was just after getting pulled over. We finally made it!

FINALLY, at around 6:30pm, we made it to the Miller Tree Inn. I'd never stayed at a Bed and Breakfast and I wasn't expecting the sheer amount of hospitality. It was overwhelming and wonderful. I think I almost cried, but then, as you know, it doesn't take much. Forks Chamber of Commerce has dubbed this B&B "The Cullen House" and it was over-the-top. Bella's birthday decorations hung up everywhere, you could pick which Cullen you thought your room belonged to, and Edward had even written us a letter! The thought that went into everything was humbling.

So so wonderful.

Andrea was so excited to meet
Pocket Edward!

The extra touches were the best.

We put our stuff in our room and drove down to the only Mexican restaurant in town to grab a bite to eat. I felt too tired to eat but I wanted a drink, so after dinner we went to the only grocery store in town to grab some bottled water and a bottle of wine (there was a fridge (stocked with soda), wine glasses and a bottle opener in our room!). We came home to rest up for what we knew was about to be one of the best weekends of our lives.

A waiter at the restaurant jumped in this
shot at the last minute. :)

Oh good grief. I wasn't expecting the first day narrative to take so long. Guess this means I'm going to have to divide it up. Day two coming tomorrow. ;)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Oh Forks, you have my heart.

I never expected to feel so relaxed.

I expected to have fun. I expected to giggle with my best friend like we were back in high school. I expected to catch Twilight fever (which I totally have, by the way - if I wasn't a Twihard before, I am now).

But peace and calm and beauty - they surround this place. And it totally caught me off guard.

The people are soo nice. They exude warmth and kindness.

I have heard of falling in love with a place, but I've never experienced it until this weekend. I drove home (back to Forks) last night from La Push in the rain and the dark. Normally those factors compose my least favorite driving conditions and I end up gripping the wheel, terrified, just praying for it to be over.

But I actually enjoyed the drive last night! Sure sure, our rental car handles really well and there wasn't a lot of traffic, but I think it was more than that. I think this place has tapped into something inside of me that's enabled me to let go of some of my fear.

That's exciting.

I think DC stresses me out. I like it there. But, Forks (and all of Washington, really) has inspired me to seek out little bits of calm throughout my normal days. I mean, really. If the woods is my happy place, I should definitely go for walks more often.

There isn't one chain restaurant in this place. And I was thinking - I don't know that I've EVER been to a town that didn't at least have a McDonald's or a Burger King. In my life.

That's crazy on so many levels.

Er, um. So I haven't said much about our actual trip. I'll make that my next blog. I'm not really in a "and then we did this, and then we did that" kind of mood.

Thanks for reading! Fun picture time.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gratitude and Country

I didn't like my post my last post, so I'm trying again.

First, a list of things I'm thankful for from this week:

  • New friends. We recently met Nicki and Brandon through my friend, Priscilla. The experience has been life changing. They are HILARIOUS. And I feel like we've known them forever.
  • Our friend, Elena borrowed our car for a couple weeks. We got it back yesterday and she had filled it up with gas and had it detailed! Sadie got in and exclaimed, "Why does this car smell so GOOD??"
  • My friend Priscilla is awesome. And for that, I am thankful.
  • Our church is going through a series of Hope. They had a sharing time last Sunday and I stood up and talked about our marriage and unemployment and the Army. It's amazing to think about what God is doing. Afterward, a couple of people came up to me to introduce themselves and offer their support. I am so thankful for my church family.
  • God is teaching me so many things right now. It's beautiful.
  • I have so many amazing friends. It's just ridiculous. I don't deserve them. But I am fall-over thankful that I get to share my life with them.
  • Andrea and I are going to Forks in THREE DAYS!!!
  • And, lastly, I got a haircut!
I'm letting my bangs grow out. Sorry the lighting is so bad.

And now, I'd like to take a moment to go back to my country roots. I love this song! Jermaine isn't crazy about it and I'll admit, it's not mind-blowing. But, it gives me chills. :)