Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Need some pictures

I know that I have been writing, writing, writing and haven't added a picture forever! The only picture that would go with what we have been doing is a picture of me clinging for dear life to the treadmill, hoping I can take another breath, but I don't think anyone wants to see that. (Nor do we take pictures at the gym.) I guess we just need to do something a bit more exciting. :) So, I am adding a picture of me and my neices at Christmastime playing on the icy patch in the yard. (Note my cool green poofy jacket!)
The house meeting on Sunday night was long and somewhat torturous. We made some changes and things worked out though. There are still a few things we need to decide - maybe next week. Our new housemate, Kendra, had her first full day of work today; it will be interesting to hear what she thinks. She is working at the shelter and Milagros.

I am still deciding about the PALS program. Lots of thoughts going into making that decision; we'll see what happens. In other news, the women's volleyball league starts up next Monday. This should be fun, competitive, and a good workout; hopefully, I survive! The co-ed volleyball league starts the following Sunday. The Co-Ed league should be fun, but not quite as competitive. It is 6-on-6. There are four of us (Jeremy, me, David, and Emmy) from the unit playing and two other volunteers from La Puente. Jeremy might be going skiing at Wolf Creek Ski Resort on Wednesday. The house is going on the 10th of February; I'll definitely have some pictures then. I finished The Kite Runner. It is an excellent book, but actually quite depressing at the same time. I am reading Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. It is an enjoyable book to read. I had read The Poisonwood Bible also by Barbara Kingsolver and really enjoyed that, so I thought I would give this one a shot. Blah, Blah, Blah. I could probably go on forever, but it would not be exciting to read, so I won't bore you. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Weekend

Housesitting was good. I enjoy staying in this house. It is comfortable and located in town - and the animals are fun. On Friday night, we went to pick up our new housemate, Kendra. There were, I think, a total of 4 people who came off the plane in Alamosa, so she wasn't hard to find. We brought her and her two (50 pound) bags and one small carry-on to La Jara. (These people who flew in make me realize how much stuff we brought!) We hung out and chatted as a house for about an hour before we left and returned to Alamosa.

On Saturday, we ran some errands and went to the gym. This is the second week of working out 5 days of the week. My body is tired, but I figure I will adjust. Then, I went shopping for snow boots because we are going to go to young adult snow camp at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp in February. Unfortunately, stores like Wal-mart and Payless have decided that spring is here and are now only selling sandals... they must not realize that it is freezing cold here almost every day and certainly every night! So, I have no idea where I will find snow boots, since these are basically the only shoe stores in town. I will keep my eye out at Rainbow's End, I guess. In the evening, our house came over to where we were housesitting for pizza and games. It was fun. We played Taboo; my team was defeated by Jeremy's team by 3 points. Then, we split up and some of us played Pit (Jeremy and the girls) and the rest of us played a game called Blockus, which is a pretty fun/easy game that I lost 3 times in a row. I should clarify that it is easy to learn, but not so easy to win.

On Sunday, we cleaned up the house, changed the sheets, and headed back to La Jara. I spent most of the rest of the afternoon cleaning. Sometimes I just cannot handle the state of our home/kitchen. In this way, it will be nice to be back to having my own house with just Jeremy and me living there. It is not that it is uninhabitable, just more dirt and dried food around than I would like. I feel good about it now... we'll see how long it lasts! :) Tonight we have a big house meeting to figure out some things about the upcoming month, and hopefully, decide how to do cooking, cleaning, etc with another person in the unit. Until later...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

PALS: Part 2

Okay, so I went to PALS all afternoon again yesterday, and for about 30 minutes today (not because I couldn't take it, but we had to get somewhere before it closed for the day). Yesterday, we went on a nature walk by the Rio Grande River which runs through town. It made me very nervous. The kids were running way ahead of us adults, getting close to a busy road. I knew they probably wouldn't try to cross the street, but they also don't listen very well. It was very scary. Everyone survived, became really cold, and left shortly after we returned to the PALS building. It was, in some ways, a very easy day. Today, I sat with a 5 year old girl and read an ABC book. It was fun, and for the most part it was quiet - we were also missing two little boys. Here is my dilemma... I know that I couldn't function within the setting that is there now - too little structure and too little discipline for my liking. But if I start volunteering there, I am not sure I have the time/energy to really make it work either. I talked with Fanny, the director of the transitional housing program that this is a part of. She explained to me that the program does have rules, discipline, rewards system, and structure... it just hasn't been happening in the last few months. Well, that makes me feel a little better. We'll see. Please keep me in your prayers as I decide where to go with the rest of my year.

Jeremy is working hard, too. I don't always know what to put about his work. He is working on a way to track and summarize data from a 2001 report and then continue with the same format for future reports. Some of the information is just difficult to read and really decipher what is being said. He will be meeting with an engineer (the one we housesat for for a week) from the NRCS tomorrow to seek some guidance and bounce ideas off of. He said this project could potentially keep him busy for awhile.

Other news... our new housemate/volunteer arrives tomorrow night. Her name is Kendra. All I really know is she went to Eastern Mennonite University, runs cross country, and will be working at La Puente Shelter/Milagros Coffeehouse. It will be fun to meet her. No other news really. I will probably blog sometime this weekend. We housesit again on Friday/Saturday; so, not sure how much I'll be on the computer. Have a great Friday, Everyone!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

PALS

Yesterday (Wednesday) I went and hung out with the PALS kids. PALS stands for Positive Activities Lift the Spirit. It is connected with Adelante, the transitional housing program within La Puente. I am looking at possibly transferring to work with this program. I am learning a lot with the work I am currently doing, but am missing the social interaction that I am used to. I had intentionally not done work with kids this year because I felt I just needed a break, but I might just be missing it. Anyway, I went to see what the kids were like, how the program is run, and what I would be doing. The program, right now, has about three 5-year old boys, one 5-year old girl, an 8-year old girl and boy, and a 10-year old boy. It was fun... and loud.

They started out with reading/homework time from 3:30 - 4pm. I don't really know how much reading was accomplished. One little boy asked me to read with him, but then he ran around the room, built tents with chairs and blankets, and acted out Pokemon scenes. I ended up being read a few books by the 8 year old girl. Then, the little boy returned, pulled on my sleeve, and wanted to read. I told him I wasn't ready for him yet; he sat quietly beside me until I was done working with the girl. Then, we read a number of really short books. After reading/homework, they played games - heads up, 7up; army, navy, and poop deck (I'll have to explain this... definitely not a game that uses a lot of peaceful words!); and musical chairs. Of course, the kids ran and ran and ran around the room, both using and gaining energy (and volume) at the same time. At the end, we worked at putting coats and backpacks on. I was looking at the bulletin board with one of the 5 year old boys. I said, "Look what you got a star for." (There was his picture, name, and a star with something that he had done that was positive.) I said, "You have a star for helping Jack find his shirt when it was lost in the van." The little boy got a smile on his face, went over to "Jack" and told him why he had received the star. "Jack" smiled and put his arm around the little boy's shoulder in a side hug. The kids are so cute!

I usually work with older kids (7th or 10th grade mostly), so this was a definite switch. Even though there were definite behavior issues, I didn't have kids talking back, being outright defiant, or some of the other survival behaviors older kids have developed. I saw more wrestling, hitting other's heads, spitting, making farting noises, and yelling. I think (and I will probably eat my words later if I decide to work with the kids) that these are all behaviors that can be un-taught. It would help to give some structure to what is occurring. If you play loud, rowdy games, you should expect kids to act loud and rowdy - at any age! I think there could be a good balance between larger motor activities, fine motor activities, and mental activities. (I think the teacher in me is coming out.. YIKES!) I am going back today to see if anything is different or how the kids are two days in a row.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday

We both had a work day today, even though it is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I am so used to having the day off, it felt funny to be at work. The Boutique was very slow. I barely broke $100, but I was able to start the book The Kite Runner while I was there. It seems like a good, but heavy, book. Jeremy had phone calls from his friend Mike and his mom - both called because they had assumed that he had the day off. He enjoyed talking to them anyway. Nothing else really happening today.... right now we are watching a special on Rocky Mountain PBS called, The Lobotomist. Quite an interesting program. It is mostly about the doctor, Walter Freeman, in the 1940s/50s who did way too many lobotomies to count, and introduced the procedure in which a lobotomy could be done by putting an ice pick through the eye to get to the brain. (The story of a 12 year old boy who had the procedure done can be found at this website http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5014080) This is quite disgusting, and not highly scientific if you ask me. It seems that they it didn't really solve the problem, just created others. It also happened at a time when little was known about or much time given to mental illnesses. Even today, more education is needed about mental illnesses. Please take a moment to pray for people with mental illnesses and those who live with, work with, and love those with a mental illness.

Weekend Wrap-up

Our housesitting finished well. It was very relaxing to be at their home. I put a picture (to the left) of the view out their picture window.

Friday night (Girls' night) was pretty crafty. We gathered at a home with giant animals... well, they had two dogs that seemed enormous, and the largest cat I have ever seen in my life. This cat was either full bred Maine Coon or mixed breed; I looked up Maine Coon and this is what it said, "these are indeed tall, muscular, big-boned cats; males commonly reach 13 to 18 pounds, with females normally weighing about 9 to 12 pounds. Add to that two or three inches of winter coat, and people will swear that they're looking at one big cat." - and I did look at one big cat!!! Unfortunately, I did not have my camera, so I have no picture of it. There were beads, wire, glue, magazines, yarn, and needles all over the table for us to get to work being craft geniuses. I, however, looked at the items and sighed within myself. I pulled a sweater out of my bag, which I bought at the thrift store. My plan was to unravel the sweater and have Emmy or Claire knit me something warm out of it. The sweater had other plans! It was much more complicated than it should have been to unravel (according to Claire), and I only was able to unravel one sleeve and half of the hood in 3 HOURS!!! I put that project on hold for now. Also, Jeremy and the boys bowled 3 games at the local bowling alley while we crafted. It was a very competitive night; Jeremy said he won the last game. (I don't know the scores.)

Saturday was fairly relaxing. We went to the gym to lift. I feel much less sore; I think I worked the soreness out of my muscles. In the evening, Emmy, David, and Jeff came over to our house (where we were still housesitting) to play a game. We played a game called "Settlers of Catan." It is a bit complicated to learn. Although I enjoyed it, I think I enjoy the "mindless" games of Taboo, Pictionary, or Euchre more. After the game, we went to Jenna and Erin's house for a small party. (Jenna works as community education coordinator at La Puente, and Erin works with Claire at VORP.) It was a small group of people and fun to hang out with a different group than our house.

Sunday was the last day to hang out at the house. We watched football games most of the day. We cleaned/picked up and made our bed so it would be ready for next weekend when we return to housesit again. Their sick cat, Ginger, loves to cuddle with their dog, Heidi. I thought I would take a picture to show you how cute they are - they almost look like they belong together!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Still Cold...

Hey everyone! It is still cold. I hear that tonight will be another arctic night out there. The good news is that it will finally be a little warmer during the day - mid-20s. We are housesitting for Jeremy's boss, Mike. Our pill dispensing to the cat went much easier than the last time. The dogs are great, and the cats (for the most part) are elusive. We enjoyed the radiant floor heat that they have there - you walk barefooted, and your toes still stay warm! (I would like to have it in my house if ever possible.) I had lifted weights (on Wednesday) for the first time in a month, and I overdid it just a bit... like I can hardly walk 2 days later. I went to the gym to try to walk it off last night; it did some good, but still sore. What I am getting at is that our bed at Mike's house has an electric blanket on it. I had never used an electric blanket before. It felt like a heating pad for all my sore muscles.. ahhhhh.... This morning when we woke up, the hot water in our area of the house didn't work. The cold water did, and the water worked everywhere else. So, we called the plumber, who promptly came out and fixed the problem... must be all this cold weather!
Tonight, I go with my two female housemates to a girls night thing with people I haven't ever met. I am hoping it is not too craft/knitting focused, since I can't do that stuff very well. The guys are going bowling for a guys night out. Until later..

Thursday, January 17, 2008

right now

Right now at 7:50am with the sun shining it is ..... (-35F) outside. (I put the temp in parentheses so that you knew it was a negative and not positive 35.) I am going to go step out just so I can say I have been in temperatures this cold - and not while it is dark out! I have no idea if they cancel school or delay it for cold weather, but I know if I was teaching in Ohio, we would not be attending school at the regular time today! The good news is that it will get up to 12F today - YEA!!! I hear a cold blast will soon be in Ohio, too. Stay warm and use it as an excuse to sit in front of the fire, watch a movie, read a great book... oh, the things you can do on a cold day/night.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Mid-week check in

Hello. We are having a better week. Thank you everyone for your prayers. Jeremy is working on adding things to the web pages he is in charge of. The web pages can be tricky things. I am adjusting back to work and thinking about a few possibilities for change. If anything comes around, I'll let you know. Our unit had a new year house meeting with our local director (Alice). It was good to just get together and talk again. We discussed a number of different things that are coming up. We are looking at skiing again during one of the local appreciation days (1/2 off tickets) at a nearby ski resort, Wolf Creek. Also, I think our unit is going to attend the Snow Camp for Young Adults at Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp. I am very excited for that. I like that camp and think it will be fun to do some tubing down a hill/mountain or two. We think we will plan a party for all the local volunteers to come hang out at our place. Many of them are with the Ameri-Corps program and work and live in Alamosa. We figure they might enjoy little La Jara. Kendra, our new house mate, is coming on January 25th. That is pretty exciting. So, the calendar looks pretty busy as I open it up; I think that is a good thing. Jeremy and I head out to housesit for his boss again starting tomorrow. I will try to get on during the time we are gone to blog. This is the house where we have to give the cat a pill, the other cats food in their individual spots, and give the dogs metamucil and vitamins. It is quite fun! We'll talk to you later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Some weeks are like that.

I haven't blogged much this week because Jeremy and I were housesitting for a (kinda) co-worker of his. They had one dog that needed looked after; it was really easy. The week itself, or really the time since we have returned to Colorado, has not been good. I usually try to stay upbeat in the blogs for a couple reasons - one of them being it helps to reflect on the good things and keep me focused on what matters. However, at this point, I am just asking for prayer for Jeremy and I. We feel like the week has beat us down. I could list all 17 things we thought of that just didn't go right, but I don't think that's necessary. I need prayer for work - a positive attitude with some changes that have been made. We need prayer to stay in the present instead of worry about what may come with various situations. There is nothing that is life-threatening and nothing major that happened, just a lot of little things that just added up. I am sure you have each had a day or week when nothing seemed right - I guess it was my week to have that happen.

On a positive note, this week (today is Monday 1/14) has started off well. I take this as a good sign. I have made three promises to myself. (I guess I could call them New Year's Resolutions, but I think it doesn't carry as much weight as a promise. I was eating Dove chocolate today, and they have these "promise messages" inside each wrapper - some of you may know what I am talking about. Anyway, one of them I opened today said, "Keep the promises you make to yourself" I thought that was a great statement.) I thought I would share them with you, so you would know what I am working on in my life. The first promise is to spend time in prayer. I have tried this before, but I decided to handle it a different way. I am focusing on one area/people group in my life each day (Sun - unit life; Mon - work; Tues - sm. group in Westerville; Wed -friends; Thurs - church; Fri - family; Sat - myself and Jeremy). Before I think I just was overwhelmed with all the people that needed prayer; this should help me focus a bit more and really pray for people. The second promise was to stay in touch with people back home better than I have been; I have neglected calling friends and family on an intentional basis, and my blogging has not been as consistent. My third promise was to start exercising routinely. I took a three week hiatus over Christmas and just feel "blah" (which was probably part of the reason the little things bothered me so much last week). I start playing volleyball in February, and I still plan to run in the Bouldering Boulder 10-K on Memorial Day. It sounds like a good time to start training. So, I don't know if I should put all this out there, but hopefully, it will help keep me accountable. It all starts this week, and I am actually excited about it! I hope each of you have a good week. I'll stay in touch.

The Harlem Globetrotters....!!!!

So, on Wednesday night we went to see the Harlem Globetrotters at the small high school in Monte Vista (a town west of us and where we house-sat for a week). At least, we thought we were seeing the Harlem Globetrotters... it turns out they were the Harlem Ambassadors - not from Harlem and based out of, not Harlem, but Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a bit disappointing, but ended up being a couple of entertaining hours. The team played against a mish-mash of players from Monte Vista, and they dunked, danced, joked, and had a lot of rehearsed things. It was similar to the Harlem Globetrotters, but not nearly as flashy. I included a couple pics. That's the entertainment you can find out here, but I must say, it really wasn't too bad.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

It's a shame

We feel deeply for the Buckeye nation. I am sure this post would be better coming from Jeremy, but he is still reeling from the loss of the Buckeyes last night. It started so reminiscent of last year - I had made Buffalo Chicken dip; Jeremy had made his cracker dip; we had a few friends over. Then, the game started and the similarities continued with OSU scoring on the first possession - YEA! Then, as the game progressed, our stomachs became tied into knots. The announcers talked about the first rated defense that OSU has, but the defense was letting us down. They mentioned the deceptive speed of Hester (#18 for LSU), and we witnessed this time and again. Halftime came and we were feeling defeated. With the "roughing the kicker" call in the third call and multiple other penalities, we were hanging on by a thread. Finally, at the end of the third quarter, we let out a tentative whoop of joy as OSU intercepted a pass and converted it to a much needed touchdown. Our joy was short-lived as the defense kept being led astray by the LSU bag of tricks. We were proud of our Buckeyes as they continued to play, rather than just give up the last two minutes to defeat; they scored a touchdown in about 45 seconds, making the score a bit more acceptable. Maybe next year... as was originally predicted....

Side Note

While traveling home from the airport last Wednesday night, we realized how in the middle of nowhere our road home was. After passing Santa Fe, there is a long stretch of road that passes almost nothing. We began counting cars, trucks, and as luck would have it... we added an ELK tally to our list. There were groups of elk scattered along the way which helped us stay alert. We passed 5 cars, 4 semi-trucks, and 17 elk!!! between Santa Fe and Antonito - about an hour stretch of road. Welcome to New Mexico.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

We're Back

Our days at home in Ohio were wonderful. It was so good to be back with family and friends. We were able to spend a number of days at both of our parents' home (mostly back and forth between the two). Jeremy's brother and sister were in from New York City for about a week. It was good to see them; unfortunately, they were battling colds/sinus infection/or something most of the time they were home. We took time to individually visit my brother's households. It was just way to fun to watch kids during Christmas to have any kind of quality time. We really enjoyed spending time with each family. In the picture to the left, you can see the line up of the nieces and nephews on my side of the family. My mom had little shirts made with each grandkids name and number of when they arrived (ex. Sophie #1 = first grandkid). We had not yet seen Samuel (#6) in person, so that was special; on the last night before leaving, I was holding him in the rocking chair and was gifted with his wide-mouthed smile! The other two boys (Cale #4 and Paxon #5) had really grown. Paxon loves to stare at you until he finally gives you the grin you've been making funny faces for; Cale sits up by himself and flashes smiles non-stop. Lilli (#3) is walking, running, and jumping around now. Sophie (#1) is continuing to grow into a special young girl. Chloe (#2) is cute, ornery, and enjoys talking much more than when we left; she is following in the steps of her older sister and loving anything princess. We also made it to Columbus to see a number of people in our small group; there was a lot of exciting news within the group - a pregnancy, an engagement, a graduation from seminary, an appearance on the Ellen show, and a new couple joined the group. We were able to get to Atwood Lake for the annual New Year's Eve party at a cabin (owned by one of our friend's parents) there. It was a mix of the die hards that are there every year and some newcomers; there were also a few unable to make it that were really missed. (Meredith celebrates the New Year in the pic to the right.) Waffles and white sauce on New Year's Day (my family tradition) was the perfect ending to our time at home. Travel to and from went without a hitch - no delays, no lost luggage, no mechanical problems, and no accidents. Thanks, everyone, for your prayers!

We got to La Jara (after a 3-1/2 hour drive from Albuquerque) about midnight on the 2nd. I woke up for work at 7am on the 3rd. I had a pile of things to catch up on when I got into the office. Rhonda is no longer there; I miss her as my office "boss." I am sure she is enjoying her time away. Jeremy wasn't feeling well and stayed home from work. On Friday (the 4th), both Jeremy and I stayed home from work with some type of stomach flu, I think. It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't fun. I haven't been sick like that for a long time. Today (the 5th), we are both feeling a little better although weak from not eating much yesterday. Hopefully, we will be back to working order for next week! I recieved an email from someone needing a player for the women's volleyball league. I will playing on Monday nights in the competitive league starting in February - one month to get myself in shape to breath normally while exerting energy! We are housesitting for a co-workers of Jeremy during the upcoming week. I assume that they have internet access, and I can continue to blog; if not, I'll catch up when we return. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years.