Peace Is Within You

“Peace comes from within. Seek it from yourself.”

(My most recent fortune cookie. Such wisdom).

Those words have been reverberating through my head, as I’ve spent the last three weeks working with rowdy middle schoolers.

A few thoughts:

I am going to remember just the look every thirteen year old girl/boy has given me in the last few weeks when I hit the “maybe-it’s-time-for-kids-do-I-really-want-them?” age (which may never hit, after these weeks).

Also, if I do have kids, I will seriously consider living close to their grandparents to have constant, easy access to babysitters who will adore them.

It really is a great job–even though hammering through the wall that surrounds our urban youth is no easy feat–and most of the kids are awesome.

Right, I forgot that I’m going with the theory that everyone has a decent inner core. Sometimes it’s buried deeply…like the kid who made the sweetest 11-year-old girl ever cry…but it’s still there.

Yes, I’m being an optimist. But our goal is to assume that all of these kids are going to graduate high school and go on to college, and often our after-school program is keeping them off the streets, keeping them away from their fascination with fire (which, according to my boyfriend, is a natural interest for a 12-year-old boy, but it still totally freaks me out) and in some cases, keeping them out of gangs.

So an optimistic frame of mind is sort of a prerequisite for the job.

I’m getting decent at applying this mind set to the kids–and some of them make it really easy, like the Somalian refugee who, despite his learning disability and permanent growth stunt leftover from extreme dehydration, wants to get through school, go back to Africa, and help all the people he had to leave behind.

Kids like that make this world go round, I swear.

Although unfortunately I do not have a naturally optimistic nature.

Isn’t it funny that some of these kids have more faith in  life than I do?

I’m going to start going to a Zen Club–searching for that inner sanctuary, baby.

So, peace for now!

An Anniversary Post

It’s a month of special events!

First off, happy anniversary to my parents! Last week, anyway 🙂 And YESTERDAY, it was another special anniversary…FIVE YEARS (that’s 5!!)

(well, on and off)

for me and my wonderful boyfriend, Eric!

I don’t have the words, so here’s a photo montage:

where it all began 🙂

Lots of ❤ ❤ ❤ yesterday! And really, EVERYday. As you can see from these pictures, I’m one lucky girl!!!!

(Love you E!)

I am getting downright sentimental.

A Birthday Post

Today is a special post, written in honor of my little sister’s 21ST BIRTHDAY!

She’s so grown up:

the birthday girl is on the right! oh and that's me on the left 🙂

Although, according to some, she’s always been more mature than me.

Plus, taller.

Since I can’t be there to make this milestone even more memorable, I made a list of thank-yous:

Kellie!

Thank you for putting up with me as “Santa” and the “Easter Bunny” even though Mom had already told you they didn’t exist.

Thank you for crying in the room with me every time I (as the official drama queen of house) slammed myself in there. Solidarity, for real, sister!

Thank you for dating a boy who is so nice we never have to worry, and who is already the little brother I never had.

Thank you for always going along with my schemes–commercials, movies, plays, new decorating ideas, elaborate Beanie Baby villages, strange names for your stuffed animals…

Thank you for giving me someone to corrupt, and for always (for the most part) resisting my attempts.

Thank you for sharing a room with me for so long and always pretending half of the mess was yours, even though it was always ALL mine.

Thank you for looking the other way as I continue to steal your clothes–and for knowing that I look the other way, too. 🙂

Thank you for having totally different talents than me–it makes life so much easier, don’t you think?

Thank you for letting me take over your parties with my baking shenanigans.

Thank you for reminding me that even though you’re taller and skinnier, I also have bigger boobs (I feel risque, saying that online) and smaller feet.

Thank you for having bigger feet so you could never (except that one time…) steal my shoes.

Thank you for always driving your new shiny car so we never have to take my old, battered one.

Thank you for being you! Have a great year…and as I’m your elder, I can still say that’s an order!

K and I's first time voting!

K with our parents...can you tell my dad just LOVES it when I break out the camera?

with our baby puppy Tess!

high school graduate!

Have I mushed you all out yet?? 🙂

A Day in the Life

Here’s a quick trip into a day of my life, now that I’m in Denver and at my fantastic new job!

6/7:00 a.m.: depending on whether or not I need to shower, my alarm rings annoyingly.

7:01 a.m.: Eric’s alarm goes off, always managing to terrify me with it’s blast of rock music.

7:10 a.m.: I make myself get out of bed.

7:10-7:50 a.m.: Get ready. The majority of this time is spent perusing the closet and attempting to make my hair not look like a couple of cats have been wrestling in it.

8:00 a.m.: I’m sitting outside our nearby Target, waiting for it to open.

8:02 a.m.: I leave Target, with a piping hot, foamy PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE in my hand (I am addicted, a habit I’ll need to break soon if I ever want to have any money).

8:05-8:45 a.m.: Fighting traffic, gulping my coffee, inhaling a granola bar, blaring music, screeching along.

9:00 a.m.: Waiting in the office with my two fabulous co-workers, Dianna and Tina, for our equally awesome boss, Andy, to show up. (So far, we all get along great. We may still be in the “let’s-be-polite” phase, but I choose to be optimistic!)

9:30-10:00 a.m.: Andy arrives, we meet and begin planning.

10:00 am.-12:00 p.m.: Planning! Lots of time spent emailing and calling colleges and the like to arrange field trips for our kids. We’re also planning a Haunted House trip, a tour of a candy factory (for the Work Force contingent: we have Work Force, Pre-Collegiate–mine!–and Service projects throughout the year, along with fun trips). We design monthly calendars and make quarterly reports.

12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m.: Lunch! Usually consists of me begging Dianna for samples of her homemade Mexican food, and sometimes we run errands.

1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.: This week, more planning, but now that I have my case load (i.e. the kids I will have to check on, as in visit their schools, talk to their teachers and families, and make sure they are behaving/passing in school) we’ll be in the schools a lot more!

3:00 pm.: After school program begins! Meaning, I get inundated with wild 12-year-old boys trying to test every boundary I–and the computer’s blocks–will give them. They may be starting to like me–they even listen sometimes. Often I send them away from the Computer Room (my domain) into the Homework Room after interrogation about whether they do have homework or not. It’s an adventure.

4:30 p.m.: Learning hour ends and free time begins–soon we will have daily enrichment activities which will include yoga, crafts, games, field trips, and various clubs (cooking, book, trivia, math, etc). Free time is even more chaotic, and I constantly am shepherding riled-up kids in and out of various rooms.

5:30-6:00 p.m.: Kids head home, and since many live on our site (the Opportunity Center is part of a public housing project) we have to usher them home, diffuse fights, convince them not to attempt to make a flamethrower from a can of Raid and a lighter (this has only happened once, thankfully, and was luckily unsuccessful or my hair would be much shorter).

6:00-6:45 p.m.: I head home, navigating even more terrible traffic than in the morning, but without a Pumpkin Spice Latte for comfort.

6:50 p.m-10:00 p.m.: I lay in my papasan chair, figure out dinner with my boy, and fight to keep awake. I usually last until ten, and then it’s lights out in my brain!

Whew. There’s a day, so far! Hopefully I’ll be adding a workout to this soon, and some writing time, and perhaps more of a social life. This Tuesday is my foundation’s annual giant fundraiser–and my baby sister’s 21st birthday!–so that will definitely add more excitement!

Not that I don’t have enough to handle, already. 🙂