Sunday, May 31, 2015

Flashback Series: Prom

I always said that I'd only go to prom if I had a date...and then Spring of my senior year rolled in and I did not have a date but still wanted to go. So I did. I went alone with two friends and their dates, was it a bit depressing? Maybe but I didn't want to miss out on any of the fun just because I was (am) single!

I'm still in love with the dress I wore. It was this bright peach color, strapless (much to my chagrin, I hate strapless but oh well) and embellished with beautiful rhinestones. Oh and it was long, I hate all of these short prom dresses girls are sporting more and more, why not take advantage of the one time besides your wedding when you can wear a fun long dress?? Anyway...I digress. It was tailored just to fit me and it did like a glove.

I have to say, for all of the hype that prom receives, it didn't quite live up to it. It was fun and felt special but it was also slightly dull and anticlimactic. The high point was my best friend L getting voted onto prom court and being paired with a guy she'd had a crush on for years. I did get to dance a lot, which I love, and was lifted high up in the air by L's date who was probably high, no one is sure ;). L and I took photos in the booth and I took many pictures with other friends.

After Prom was great though! It was held at school and decorated beautifully for the carnival theme. Both of my parents were there helping out and I just had the best time. I played poker and ate cotton candy, rode in a tricycle race, took more pictures, ate more food, "bought" prizes with the fake money I won. And we didn't get home until 5 am!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend 2015

Such a lovely Holiday weekend and summer send off!

The fun started on Friday when M and I got to hang out with El (our cousin who we watch in the summertime) for the day. She'd just had the same eye surgery I had done in March so we bonded over that! El will be turning 5 in July and just gets smarter and funnier every time we see her. First we headed back to our house and watched Snow White and then we headed to this huge luxury playground that we've been wanting to take her to for years. The weather was a little cooler than it had been but it was actually a blessing as we ran around and climbed and swung, we ended our visit with a trip over to the sandbox.

From there, we headed to a mall a few cities over because M was hunting for sun glasses and me for some t-shirts. Mission accomplished for us both! We also took some great pictures together in a photo booth and ate Chick-fil-a, what could be better?? On our way home and to pick up E from school, I got a call from the mom of my MFF and she had an urgent babysitting request. I accepted and went directly to their house for about an hour. The day was busy bu so much fun!

Saturday we worked out in the morning and then headed downtown to visit a family friend who has been in the hospital for three weeks. From there we had to rush home so M and I could go to our favorite aunt and uncles house. This Saturday they are hosting a big birthday party for my grandma and M and I volunteered to help create a slideshow. We'd went through pictures to bring over. The best part of the visit was that I got to polish off my Uncle's steak-ilovesteak.

After taking pictures of pictures and uploading them to my aunts computer, we left and went to a different mall so M could exchange her sunglasses because they were scratched when she bought them. It was a bit of a hassle but we got it done and rewarded ourselves with s'mores frappecinos from Starbucks. That night, M finally indulged me and watched Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, E joined in too!

Sunday, M and I taught Sunday school and then hurried to the grocery store to get supplies for the parties we had that day and the next. I'd been wanting to make this tasty scoop cake for awhile with M but ended up doing it myself. I was a little worried about how it would come out but would have to wait until the next day to find out. As soon as I was finished we went to my mom's brother's house for a barbeque. The crowd was a lot smaller this year for whatever reason so there was no cornhole tournament. Still, there was tasty food and volleyball and good conversation. We got home before dark.

Monday was the yearly Memorial Day parade that I've been going to for as long as I remember. I love that parade! It goes through my grandparents neighborhood and throws out a ton of candy. My three girl cousins were in the parade and the little ones got a lot of candy. When we got back to my grandpas house we had a delicious breakfast and then hung out. My family and I did head to a grocery store nearby to pick up the chicken for lunch. My cousin S came with us and waited in line with me while I bought the ribs they were selling outside. Alas, they were not good...I am still searching for tasty ribs that are actually in this state (I've only had luck in Chicago and Florida!).

We ate lunch, enjoyed my scoop cake (it got rave reviews!) and took some pictures before playing a customary game of red rover with my cousins. They're 11, 12 and 13 now and my sisters and I are 16, 21 and 24 but we all still played like we were little! I think I'll always be a kid at heart.

It was a weekend to remember! And sidenote: I've been going through the House MD series again and let me tell you-I love it even more than I thought I did! I've been watching 2-3 episodes a day!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Flashback Series: The First Graduation

Looking back now, I'm glad I got to "graduate" twice. The first was a separate ceremony for my post secondary program that was held a week before the whole class graduation.

The day had actually been highly stressful. I had my big orientation at my college and my parents and I were late. I was very intimidated and nervous the whole day as I was quickly assigned to a group full of strangers (to be expected but still). To top it off, we had to rush home as soon as it was over because I had to be at the high school very soon. As soon as we arrived back at the house I changed into my dress and hurried off. My family would meet me later.

There were a number of other programs that were all graduating together so the parking lot was very full. I met up with L right away and we walked together to the auditorium where we had to sit in our line up. My chair was sadly broken so I stood instead. Waiting to be called into the gym was fun and exciting. I was having a great time with my friends but I was ready for the next step. At last we filed in, there was a sea of white chairs for us to sit in.

The ceremony was loooong but my friends and I were quiet and respectful, we didn't want to give our program a bad name. Sadly, a few girls who I wasn't fond of were loud and rude repeatedly. Finally we got up to make a line by the stage. My name was called and I walked across the stage to receive my diploma from the Doctor who had taught our class. It was so meaningful.

Afterward, the culinary program had made an awesome spread of food for the family and graduates. I ate, hung with L and took pictures with my family. It was a great night!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Weighing In on Josh Duggar (and the whole family)

I'm a long time watcher of "19 Kids and Counting". Yes, I saw that wholesome Christian family at first. I saw the big smiles and teamwork. And then I did some research via message boards and the like. In lieu of these allegations against Josh Duggar turning out to be true, all I have to say is: I'm not surprised.

Not only has the abuse been a rumor for YEARS, I know that there is a lot more going on in this family than meets the eye. For instance, Jim Bob and Michelle heavily endorsed a horrific book called "To Train Up a Child" by Michael and Debi Pearl. This is a book that advocates hitting a 4 month old baby, holding a child under a faucet and spanking a child into submissions. There have been parents who follow these teachings that have killed their kids with these methods. Sick.

The Duggars are also big into the ATI or Advanced Training Institute which is a homeschool group formed by convicted child predator, Bill Gothard. Gothard has since resigned but thousands still follow his teachings, Duggars included.

And don't even get me started on the fact that the girls can't even leave the house without a chaperone, are taught to give in to their husbands every demand and how none of the kids are encouraged to pursue any higher education. 

And so, when you watch the show, when you think about how "wholesome" this family is, consider what those older girls have been through. Consider who Jim Bob and Michelle are really following. I hope it's God, but I don't think you can truly have God in your heart and abuse your kids.

I pray that I'm wrong but there is a lot of evidence to the contrary. Where there is smoke...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Flashback Series: Senior Project

I had planned on doing Senior Project for most of my high school. Everyone who has good enough grades has the opportunity to make arrangements to go and shadow a career for the last three 1/2 weeks of the final semester. There is a lot of paperwork involved, including a proposal and numerous signatures to track down. But, anyone participating is exempt from final exams, so it's totally worth it.

My senior project was the same as a lot of other girls. Go shadow a favorite elementary or middle school teacher in their classroom. I chose my old third grade teacher who now taught fifth grade. I was pretty nervous about the class being a little older. Would the kids like me? Make fun of me? I had no idea what to expect.

Thankfully, I didn't need to be worried. The first day was a little stressful because the class as testing and I didn't really know what to do with myself. After that, I had all sorts of things to keep me busy. I made copies, entered grades, led reading groups, tested kids, rolled coins from fundraisers., tracked down permission slips. Leading the girls reading group was definitely my favorite thing to do. The group I had were all really sweet and seemed to like me a lot. I even wen to the talent show to watch them perform.

Because I was in a post-secondary medical program, I only did senior search for three hours in the morning (as opposed to the whole day) because there was one class I still had to attend back at the high school. I would listen to my Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants audio book as I shuttled from school to school, often stopping at Target to pick up L who was shadowing a pharmacist. 

It was such a nice, simple time. And to think I was so stressed! To get our final "grade" for our projects, we had to make a display board and present our journal entries to a committee. I chose a scholastic green trifold board and used the kids pictures as a boarder. It came out really nice and I was happy to put on one of my favorite sun dresses to present it. Overall, I had a really great experience!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Flashback Series: The Last of High School

The end of my senior year was pretty blissful. Due to construction in the school, our cafeteria was out of commission so we were permitted to go off campus for lunch. This was  HUGE deal and hadn't been allowed for upwards of 20 years. My friends and I went on picnics, to restaurants and each others houses. It was a blast.

Since myself and L (and a few other friends) were going to be doing senior projects for the last few weeks of school, our last day fell at the beginning of May. On that day, L and I both wore our senior shirts and black leggings (a style I'm not entirely fond of but I greed to match ;). My mom snapped pictures of me in front of the fire place as she had on the first and last day of school since I was 5. I was soooo excited.

I brought my camera to school and took probably about fifty pictures. I posed with all of my friends and classmates and a couple of teachers. We ate brownies to celebrate and generally didn't focus on our schoolwork! It was such a surreal feeling to be leaving...forever. At the end of the day, L and I cleaned out our lockers (our displaced lockers seeing as our original ones had been demolished).

At our high school, it had been an old tradition for the advanced art students to paint murals or just pictures on the walls. Before we left, L and I posed by our favorites as well as the quote board and an old map. I'm so glad I have those pictures because they've since been painted over!

Walking outside was equal parts exciting and sad...mostly I was just exciting but I'm also sentimental and couldn't help but think of how a big chapter of my life was ending. M took some final pictures of us in front of the school...and that was it. It was over. I had left a place that held some of my best memories. A place hat I had once hated but grown to love. Where I had made great friends and had teachers that I'll remember forever. High school was over but there was still a lot to look forward to in the coming weeks!


Saturday, May 16, 2015

My First Mile

Yesterday I ran a full mile without stopping. Yes, I know that most people can do that no problem...but that's not me. I've always had pretty terrible endurance and when I had scoliosis my spine permanently damaged some of my bronchial tubes. Point being, I was never a good long distance runner. But, I've always wanted to be. It always sounded so alluring to run for pleasure and for a workout. As of a few weeks ago, I began my "training". I started really small and just went around the block, I didn't even make it all the way without stopping for a few days.

On Thursday, I talked my family into coming running with me at the local middle school track. With my running playlist going, I made it a whole mile. As I was running, I started thinking about all of the memories I had in this exact spot. For gym in 6th and 7th grade we would troop down and have to run/walk for the whole class. I hated it. It was cold and damp and I could never keep up with the crowd.

As my feet slapped the gravel, I thought of my little 11 year old self, feeling out of place and intimidated by the new school environment, about to undergo a serious life event. I thought of my slow walking and running pace on the very inside edge of the track, with my hands stuffed in my Old Navy kids fleece sweatshirt pocket that I put on over my gym shirt. I ran that mile for her, for me, for us.

If I put my mind to something, if I push myself just a little harder, than I'm realizing I can accomplish things I'd never anticipated. I can't tell you how many times I've told people, "I'm not a runner" or "I have no endurance or stamina". I may not be a good runner but I think now I can say I am a runner. I may never win a marathon or even a 5k but I can still aspire to participate. I don't need to win the race, I just want to run them.

And I think I'll always remember my younger self when I do.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Summer Goals 2015

Summer Goals 2015
Accomplish at Least Half

  1. Read at least 7 books
  2. Run/bike/swim as much as possible
  3. Run a race
  4. Develop a healthy eating plan
  5. Eat one meal outside each day if weather permits
  6. Organize my bedroom
  7. Finish writing my book series
  8. Make dinner for my family once a week
  9. Get closer to buying a car
  10. Develop a new friendship/relationship 
  11. Do one thing crazy
  12. Have a perfect day
  13. Start doing art again
  14. Be better each day and enjoy every moment

Friday, May 8, 2015

9 Years

Today is the 9th (!!!) anniversary of my back surgery that I had for scoliosis. I was 12 years old and had no idea how life changing it would be. I've wrote a good deal about this subject (click the tag at the bottom for older posts) so I decided to use it as my second nonfiction workshop piece. I was a little rushed when I wrote it and I pretty much knew what the critiques would be before I got to class. They wanted more elaboration, more personal feelings, less choppy short sentences, a bigger epiphany, more scene.

We had to revise one of our two pieces for our final assignment. I'd been given a lot more to improve on with my scoliosis one but I found that I could not change the way I had written it. I could not manage to add more of my inner thoughts or explain the shift in outlook. And about the clipped, short, to the point sentences, my professor had said, "Perhaps the author writes it this way because it is took hard to delve much past the surface." Maybe he's right.

I've thought about the surgery so much, revisited many memories pertaining to it and as I said before, wrote about it. But, as you can see for yourself in my detailed account, I can't seem to really dig deep to an extremely personal level. My reflections are mostly factual, chronological with blips of memory and detail.

But the truth is, there were a lot of feelings involved. A lot of hurt and anger toward my parents, toward doctors and even toward myself. I can state that well enough but it is very difficult for me to really explain how these feelings developed and eventually went away over time.

I think right now, my story is just my story. I cannot yet write it to the point where it will make a good read for others, where it won't leave people wondering how I got from resenting my mom to having her be one of my best friends. How I went from being depressed to back on track. How I once hated doctors but now love them. Maybe at 21 years old, I still need more processing time. Maybe I will never understand a lot of my experience. For now, I like that I have my account of the events down in print. It's important for me that I don't forget. Perhaps one day my story will be in a magazine or on yahoo. Or maybe it will just l live forever on my little blog :)

9 years have passed and I've learned a lot, but I'm still learning! One thing I know for sure, I AM titanium!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Gymnast Memoirs Reviewed *Updated*

This is the 6th installment of my reviews and the newest one is at the bottom. I've been at this since January of 2013!

1. Grace, Gold and Glory (my leap of faith) by Gabrielle Douglas

If I'm being honest, this is probably the book I enjoyed the least. I love Gabby and I love her faith and her focus but I wish the book would have been more about her time leading up to the Olympics and her personal thoughts and less about her childhood. Now, I totally get that she would want to include her whole life into her book and not just he past few years but I think I would have liked it more had she went more in depth about her Olympic journey. I loved reading about her relationship with her host family and her troubles with being away from home. The inside cover of the book folds out into a neat poster and there are color pictures in the middle of the text.

2. Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson
I really loved this book! I think it had a great balance of life in the gym and outside. I didn't know that Shawn was a woman of faith until reading this and that really made me smile. This book takes you from her childhood to her present and you get to follow her through switching gyms to the Olympics and to Hollywood. Her Olympic experience was really well chronicled, she definitely wrote about it the best. I really was able to picture her there and understand her thoughts and feelings. I thought that the portion after the Olympics would be dull but it actually wasn't, even though she struggled to find her place outside the gym at first, she ends up feeling "balanced" once again. This book also includes pictures, which I love!

3. Off Balance by Dominique Moceanu
This book was different from the other two in that it was much more raw and Dominique's life had a lot more turmoil. This was an awesome read. I was given a look into her family history and taken all the way to her life now as a wife and mother. It was so enchanting to read about Dominique's life as a tiny 14 year old in the Olympics and yet to know that her life behind closed doors was much less glamorous. I really enjoyed the honesty in this book, I had no idea how political the sport of gymnastics was and how this became clear to Dominique when she was trying to make her comeback. Even with all the drama, there is still plenty of gymnastics in here. The Olympic portions were vivid and I liked reading about her relationships with the other girls. And, the book had pictures in it too!

4. Letters to a Young Gymnast by Nadia Comaneci
I have to be really honest, I didn't love this book. I'm not even sure if I liked it. The first half was hard to get though and to be frank, Nadia rubbed me the wrong way. It was as if she had never done anything wrong in her life and she was perfect in every way. Sometimes it even felt as though she was being rude to the reader. There wasn't a whole lot of gymnastics talk in here, there was some of course but a lot of the book was about her life in Romania. The second half or last quarter was much better than the first it was intriguing to read about Nadia's escape from her home country and a more human side of her was exposed as she wrote of her hard transition to America. I liked that we did get some history and background in this book but I had a really hard time warming up to Nada and so the book itself wasn't very enjoyable. There were no pictures!

5. Chalked Up by Jennifer Sey

This book was everything I wanted the other four to be and more. Jennifer tells her story of being an elite gymnast in the 80's with honesty and great detail. She doesn't sugar coat over anything-or anyone. I appreciated her telling the absolute truth about her experience because that is what people expect when they buy a memoir. Sey's story is beautiful, heartbreaking and tragic all at once. She doesn't place blame on any one person and clearly has a great sense of self. Above all, this was not written by Sey and some ghost writer, this was written by her alone and it showed her talent as a writer. It wasn't just facts, cut and dry, she told her story in such vivid detail that at times I truly knew what it felt like to be standing on a balance beam or flying on the bars. I have to say it once more, I LOVED THIS BOOK.

6. It's Not About Perfect by Shannon Miller
It's really no secret that I LOVE Shannon Miller. She is my favorite gymnast of all time so naturally, I was psyched when I found out she was writing a book about her life. I was not disappointed. I will admit, that at the beginning it was a little bit slow as I waited for all of the action to happen but I was pleased that Shannon took the time to explain certain aspects of the sport that non-gymnasts may not have known about otherwise. Quickly, I got really into the book and had a hard time putting it down. I love the way Shannon detailed her training and her perfect partnership with her coaches. Her competitions were well covered and I liked how she talked about her friendship with her teammates. I do wish she might have went a bit more into some of the hard stuff but it is absolutely her right to keep certain things private. Her cancer battle was chronicled beautifully and continued to show what a graceful and strong person of faith she is. I came away from reading this book with more even more admiration and respect for Shannon than I had before!


Monday, May 4, 2015

Hurray for May!!!

May has brought in some beautiful weather and I am overjoyed! My birthday was last week and it was lovely, I had a great party that Claire was able to attend and on my actual birthday my mom and I went to an outdoor shopping mall together. It was a gorgeous sunny day :)

This week is "exam wee" but I don't actually have any exams, just a paper to write and an essay to edit and revise. My paper is over halfway done and the essay shouldn't take much time at all. I can't believe my Junior year is coming to a close. Words cannot even begin to express how quickly this school year has gone by!

In other news, I've started my quest to become a runner. I have never had great endurance when running and my lung capacity is pretty low but I am determined to work hard and improve it. I have always thought that running for pleasure is something that I wished to be able to do. For the first few minutes of my run, it is fun, until it gets awful! I always think. "Why am I doing this? I'm never doing this again!" but then I remember that that is exactly what I used to think when I first started working out. I know in time, I'll be able to go longer and fast without feeling like my lungs are on fire! I am so excited to get to that point!