Wednesday, December 19, 2007

More info about this last week

I've gotten a couple notes from people asking about my PS on the previous posting. Here's a bit more info to tell you about what has been going on this past week.

Please know that I did not tell many people, because I knew that Heidi and Tim needed to concentrate on the birth of their first child, and that this would only worry them. I did not want to risk them finding out about it, as I felt that depending on the results, this was something I wanted to talk to them in person about.

In short, I haven't been feeling well lately. Things that I felt stupid even complaining about (hair falling out, feeling run down, super dry skin even when I drink tons of water and am always covered in lotions and creams, gaining 10 lbs in less than 2 months while keeping to my diet and exercise regime, etc...), because in the big scheme of things, I don't feel terrible--just not myself. I am already on a low dosage of thyroid because my thyroid levels were borderline the last time I was at the dr. for my physical. Anyway, all of my symptoms are things that led me to believe that something wasn't right with my thyroid levels.

I scheduled an appointment in Hesston last Thursday and listed off my symptoms. I told the dr. at the time that I thought something was going on with my thyroid and she agreed. She felt my throat and discovered a nodule. At that point she told me that I could have a nodule because my thyroid was having to work so hard to get my thyroid in the "normal" range, or that it could mean that I have cancer. She got right to the point, which I am grateful for. I'm sure she is aware that I'm the type of person who would have gone home and done more research and ended up more scared, and on my own. This way I had a way of asking questions, etc... She called in another dr. who also felt my throat and agreed with her findings. They drew some blood for additional testing (these came back the next day that my thyroid level was within normal limits--this scared me further because in my research I found that that can be an indication of a malignant tumor). The 3 of us talked a bit, with them reassuring me that it was most likely benign, but that I definitely needed to get it checked out. I was worried that since I'm leaving tomorrow for Germany, that I wouldn't be able to get any further answers and would have to stew about it over Christmas break. As a favor, I think, they got me in with Dr. Cranston in Newton for a biopsy this last Monday.

Dr. Cranston was wonderful! He did a sonogram on my throat and was very good at answering all my questions. During the course of the examination he found that I had a larger mass than originally thought. He called it a multinodular goiter. He aspirated some fluid (using a 3 inch needle straight in my throat without any numbing agent! ouch!!! still hurting from that!) and sent it in for tests. I was told that he would try to get back to me either Tues. or Wed. depending on when the tests came back.

He called yesterday around 5:00 p.m. and told me that there were no cancer cells in the biopsy sample he took. He will be increasing my thyroid dosage to try to help regulate the goiter, and hopefully shrink it. I have another appointment in 3 weeks to monitor it, and test my thyroid levels again. I'm hoping that the synthetic thyroid will help, as I do not want to have surgery for removal and risk damaging my vocal chords. I know that is vain, but music is an important part of my life and identity.

I have been given a wondeful Christmas present this year--my health! (Actually, I've been given several wonderful Christmas gifts at this point!) Merry Christmas to all of you, and I hope that you will be blessed as I have been!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Drumroll please!

Tante (aunt) Erica is happy to announce the birth of Gustav Heinrich Huber. He was born yesterday morning at 10:26 or so, and weighs in at about 9 lbs and 21 inches.

I board a plane on Thursday afternoon and head to Germany to visit the newest family member, and then maybe also visit his parents. I'm looking forward to cuddling and loving on him. He's supposed to have lots of dark hair, deep blue eyes, chubby cheeks, and dimples. Gotta love it!

Merry Christmas to all of you! Enjoy your time with your family, as I know that I will!

PS--Thanks to those of you who knew about my recent health scare, and have kept me in your prayers. I got the good news this evening that yesterday's biopsy had no cancer cells. A medication change and more frequent checkins with the dr. will hopefully get things back under control. I have been blessed several times over!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The goose is getting fat!

and me along with it!

I'm stuffed to the max with wonderful food after tonight's round of story telling with the Buller family. We had a great time gathering together to hear stories, courtesy of Pauline and Calvin; and of course we always enjoy getting together to just eat and be merry. The Christmas season has started, and with it come the many obligations that also somehow include food. Tonight is not the first gathering, nor will it be the last! Thinking about Christmas food and gatherings gets me to thinking about the other things that go along with Christmas as well.

This past week I've been playing Christmas music in my classroom, and one of the CDs that has been played the most has been John Denver and the Muppets. This was (and most likely still is) one of my favorite Christmas albums, especially the song that Miss Piggy sings "Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat! Won't you put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny, a half-penny will do...." I remember sitting in our home in Marion on Cedar street singing along to this song when I was little, and I remember having such a vivid image of Miss Piggy singing it to me. Now I'm sitting in a home, not far from Cedar street, listening to the same song. Sometimes life doesn't take you very far from where you began!

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year, but it is also a time that I find very sad. I know that many people consider me a "Scrooge" because of my views on Santa Clause, and I also know that I've used this blog in the past to air those views, so I won't put you all through that again! Instead, I'll just say that I urge you all to remember the real reason we celebrate this season.

This season should be about celebration, celebrating the birth of a small baby that was born to save us. Luke writes a story that could be (and has at this point) made into a movie. Luke doesn't write of Jesus' family tree---line after line of names (an especially long version of the Mennonite game!), instead the chapters read more like a script for a musical complete with lots of catchy songs and dance. I know I'm probably interpreting things differently because of the many church Christmas plays I've been in, not to mention the 6+ singings of the Messiah and the many rounds of Christmas carols I've sung. Music is a vital part of my personal Christmas celebration, but if you look to the story in Luke, I think that it also fits with Luke's version as well. If you look at the story, you will read of angel visits, a barren woman who is with child, a mute who can suddenly speak, a virgin birth, and shepherds visiting after being serenaded by angel song. All of these could be captivating reads entirely on their own, but when put together it should be a showstopper! With Luke's words, we should feel the spirit of "great joy" the angel predicted and certainly a spirit of CELEBRATION!

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." Luke 2:10

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I've added a new button on the side of my blog, and thought I should maybe take a bit of time to explain what it is all about.

Blingo is a search engine fueled by Google. For those of you who use google or yahoo as search engines for your web searches, this is basically the same thing. With Blingo though, you are entered to win prizes for the searches you do during the day. I believe that the first 25 times you search during a day, you are eligible to win prizes (this is also affiliated with Publisher's Clearing House). There are random points throughout the day, that if you happen to search during that time you might be a winner. Prizes range from cash, to movie tickets, Amazon gift certificates, laptops, cars, etc...

By using the button on my blog, you will be directed to the Blingo site, where you will have an opportunity to use the program too. You will be a user under me--which means that if you happen to win a prize with your searches, I would win the same prize. If you in turn refer people to the site and they sign up under you, if they win prizes with their search, you would win the same prize as they did.

This is NOT a scam! I signed up under my friend Kym. Within a couple months of signing up, I won a movie ticket. Kym also won a movie ticket because of my win, and it was a great excuse to spend an afternoon and evening together!

To increase my chances of winning, I've downloaded the Blingo toolbar on both my home computer and the computer at school. That way it doesn't matter where I am, if I need to search for information it is right there and ready, instead of having to first navigate to the Blingo/Google website.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Looking for little miracles

I was able to spend the last few days with one of my friends from high school, Laura VZ. I had a WONDERFUL time, and I'm so glad that I went down to Dallas. We had had PT conferences during the evenings last week, and were rewarded with a day off on Friday. I was able to leave Marion and head south after my last conference on Thursday, arriving at 11:30 or so that evening.

For Laura, our days were filled with "normal" activities--nothing special, merely commonplace! :) But for me, it was much, much more. Beautiful, warm sun-filled days; the opportunity to sleep in in the mornings; the large, furry cat that slept on my pillow and licked my face all night; shopping opportunities; art museums; a KU game; fantastic restaurants and leftovers (yummy fajitas!); and above all, time spent with a wonderful friend! The smiles and stories exchanged meant a lot to me. I truly had a great time this weekend--3 days filled with so many small miracles!

Thank you Laura!

"Earth's crammed with heaven, and every common bush afire with God." --Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Tap the Wisdom of the Body

The past two weekends, I've made the long trip to Kansas City for 2 different conferences. Last weekend I went to a conference on Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, while this weekend I went to a conference on Headaches and Massage. One was definitely better than the other, but I have to say that I was able to come away from both having learned something(or things).

Of the many new things I learned, I also was reminded of how wonderfully made we are, and that our bodies are wiser than we realize. Our health and well being are two of God's many gifts to us. Our bodies are so amazing that they are able to let us know what we need, while being attuned to our surroundings.

Sometimes we lose sight of the physical signals that our bodies send us. Too often I find myself pushing myself to the extreme: not taking the time to rest when I am upset, even when I know that sleep will give the chance to "hash it out" and awake with a new perspective. If I push myself too hard, illness makes me stop to reexamine my actions!

The body is matter; but it is God's creation. When it is neglected or scoffed at, God himself is insulted. --Michel Quoist

Our bodies are "fearfully and wonderfully made"--an intuitive instrument that can instruct with wisdom, if we only take the time to PAUSE and listen.

One way of listening to our bodies is to take the time to "pamper" ourselves and receive the gift of massage. People that range from athletes to dancers, overstressed homemakers to busy executives (and many others) have discovered the benefits of therapeutic massage. Not only can you relieve stress or soothe sore muscles, you can also enhance your mental and emotional well-being.

Another of the things that I was reminded of this weekend, is that massage is actually an investment in your health. Setting aside the 1/2 hour or hour to have a massage is so much more enjoyable (at least for me!) than swallowing the latest "miracle" drug (and with far less side effects!) And I'd much rather pay for a massage than the pharmacist!

Okay, I've rambled now and been on my soap box. Please forgive me! :) I'm not necessarily trying to drum up business by this posting (although I always welcome new clients! :)), but I do feel that the society that we live in pushes us to the limits of what we are capable of, and that in the process we often forget what it is like for us to feel good and "whole". Massage is one of the ways that I've been able to get back in touch with what my body is feeling, and what it is supposed to be feeling--not the way my body feels as a reaction to what is going on in my life.

"Dear friend, I am praying that all is well with you and that your body is as healthy as I know your soul is." 3 John 2

Thursday, October 11, 2007

School stressors

This semester I am taking anatomy and physiology/pathology for massage through Butler. It is my second semester (the course requires 2 sem. of this) but I'm afraid it is not going any better than last semester. The instructor spends absolutely no time during class explaining anything, instead reading from notes in a monotone, and not really covering items and thoroughly explaining them. I'm sure I'll pass the class, but I'm worried that I won't be able to pass my massage exam to be nationally certified. Much of the information I'll need to know for that exam are things that I should be being taught in this class.

I happened across this last night, and thought that it shares what at times this semester I've truly felt! I'm not getting much from the lectures, so if anyone wants to help me out (Karissa, and Kat--any suggestions?) before I have a nervous breakdown, it would be much appreciated!

23rd Psalm for Students

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not flunk
He keepeth me from lying down when I should be studying
He leadeth me beside the water cooler for a study break
He restores my faith in study guides
He leads me to better study habits
For my grades' sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of borderline grades
I will not have a nervous breakdown
For thou art with me
My prayers and my friends, they comfort me
Thou givest me the answer in moments of blankness
Thou anointest my head with understanding
My test paper runneth over with questions I recognise.
Surely passing grades and flying colours shall follow me
All the days of my examinations
And I shall not have to dwell in this exam hall forever.

- Author Unknown

Monday, October 08, 2007

Surround Yourself with Supportive People

This past week has be a trial for me. In fact, I would have to say that the past month has been trying for me. But, in particular, this past weekend was really terrible. There have been problems with kids in my classroom, angry parents (NOT my own!), and to make it even better, I was sick all of this last weekend. I think though, that things are on the mend.

In saying all that, I realize that I am not the only one who goes through difficult times. In fact, there are those that have it even worse than I do. This world we live in is a place that offers plenty of negative comments and criticism. Instead of the negatives we hear so often, we need others in our life who will offer encouragement and support. A circle of supportive friends (and relatives!) can encourage us to reach our full potential and make our lives easier and more fun. I am blessed to be surrounded by people such as these (near and far) that care about me and my little bumps in the road. Thank you! I truly appreciate you, and your many words of support lately. Your love for me is evident.

I am truly blessed.

"Encouragement is oxygen to the soul"--George M. Adams

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Long Time No See

I have a few minutes to post today, and just quickly apologize for my absence. This school year has been crazy so far, and I haven't been spending much time actually at my home and in the vacinity of my computer. Because of this, I haven't been able to post as much as I would like. In addition to life's general craziness, I'm afraid that most of the things happening at school that I would like to write posts about are confidential, which eliminates quite a few of the topics that I would write on.

In general news, the KS climate is a bit cooler now, which means the tomatoes will be putting on again, which also means even more things to do in the evening. I've already spent quite a few evenings canning peach juice, jelly and cucumbers, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to start dreaming about canning...visions of salsa, pasta sauce and juice will swim through my head.

Last weekend was Winfield, a time that I look forward to all year. As usual, there were new acts to hear, and new songs to share. My favorite has to be McCutcheon's song "you put your right foot out, you put you left foot out, you tap, tap, tap...." The audience was rolling! I got several new CDs, and my favorite new group was BlueHouse--an aussie duo with beautiful harmonies.

Well, I need to wrap this up, as I should head for Andover and AP/Pathology class tonight. Just to let you know, I've moved my massage stuff into the St. Luke's Integrated Clinic here in Marion, and am doing massage on Saturdays and Monday evenings by appointment. Give us a call! :)

I hope to find a few minutes soon so that I can write again. I love you all

Sunday, August 26, 2007


One of my favorite things to fix for myself is salmon--I've baked it, I've sauteed it, and I've grilled it. What makes it so easy, is that it now is sold in convienient packages that have several one-serving packages within. When I come home from work, it is so simple to take one out of the freezer, and have it thawed in minutes! It is also an easy thing to fix if I invite people over for dinner on the spur of the moment, as it is quick to thaw and fix (and people are always amazed when you can whip something up mere minutes after getting off work!)

This last week I invited myself over to Kym and Troy's for dinner, promising that I would bring a fair share of the food since I had invited myself over! :) I brought this salmon recipe, some shrimp to throw on the bbq, rice in the rice cooker, and multicolored zuchini and onions to grill. Troy and Kym added fresh potatoes and tomatoes from the garden, as well as Troy's sweet peas. Everything ended up on the grill to keep the heat out of the kitchen, except for the rice in the rice cooker. We had quite the feast, and all healthy!

Herb-Encrusted Grilled Salmon
(inspired by a recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen blog)

2 salmon fillets, thawed
1 1/2 T. olive oil
2 T. Fish Herb Blend (recipe below)

Mix olive oil and Fish Herb Blend together. Rub fish on both sides with herb mixture and let sit for at least 10 min. while you preheat gas or charcoal grill. Rib grill with a piece of paper towel dipped in olive oil or use nonstick spray (so that the fish won't stick), then heat the grill to medium high. Place fish on grill, and cook until grill marks start to appear, about 2-3 min. Then rotate the cook 2-3 min. to get criss cross marks. Turn fish carefull and cook 2-3 min. on the second side or until fish feels just slightly firm to the touch. Total cooking time will be under ten minutes. **This recipe is easily doubled!

Fish Herb Blend
1 T. dried basil
1 T. dried chives
1 T. dried dill weed
1 T. dried thyme
1 T. ground fennel
2 T. lemon pepper
1 T. sea salt

Enjoy! When I made the rice in the rice cooker, I also added sliced onion, garlic and various herbs. It was yummy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Did You Know; Shift Happens - Globalization; Information Age

This is the initial video that we had watched during inservice, the one posted below is an updated version with slightly different facts presented. I would recommend watching both, although there will be a bit of overlapping of facts at times.

Did You Know 2.0

My school year has already begun, and with it came the inservices. Last Friday was the Special Education inservice, and on Monday and today were USD 408 inservices. While my job as a teacher can be overwhelming when I think of all the academic things that need to be taught to prepare my children for state testing, etc..., it becomes more upsetting when I think of all the technological things I also need to cram in in order to prepare my kids. I think we all paused a bit after being shown this video, and wondered whether we are up to the task. I feel that I am ahead of most, if not almost all, of my fellow teachers when it comes to technology, but when I think of how far my kids have to come, I get scared! How can I ever prepare them for ALL of what they need to know!?!

July 18: Accio Deathly Hallows (no spoilers)

I am a fan of Harry Potter, and it was with much anticipation and a bit of sadness that I read the 7th and last book in the series. If you haven't read it, I will not spoil the conclusion to the story for you, but if you too are a fan, you might enjoy this link to a youtube video!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

A few pics from the last weeks!--In random order because they won't load correctly!

Round the world and back again

So, I've had a bit of a vacation from this site, and I know that there are several people out there wondering exactly what I've been up to. Warning to all readers: This will be a long post, please accept my apologies. Sorry to bore you!

July 16, 2007
Today I left Wichita, boarding a plane headed for Denver and then to Frankfurt. Seated next to a Spaniard who insisted on talking to me the entire way, met an interesting guy (who knows where he is actually from, has lived in Santa Fe, but all over the world as well) who ended up getting the Spaniard and me in trouble with the flight attendants--kept wanting to discuss politics and world religions.

July 17
Arrived in Frankfurt with large box of groceries and luggage filled to the brim with maternity items and baby clothes and was met by Heidi and Tim. We bought train tickets for my ride to Bammental, and tried to figure out Tim's Bahn Card problem--"it's in the mail". Headed to Bammental for a quick shower for me, and to drop off the heavy luggage, and then went back to Heidelberg for Heidi's gyno appt. We learned that Heidi and Tim will definately be having a boy child--"X marks the spot!" Afterwards, we went home to Bammental for a Tim-cooked supper of my favorite sausages and potato noodles with onion. It was yummy, especially when washed down with a cold beer.

July 18
Tim had to go in to work a bit this morning, after a fantastic breakfast of brotchen. Heidi and I walked down the Hauptstrasse so that I could see a bit of the city they live in. We met Tim and his co-worker MJ at the bahnhof before heading into Heidelberg to purchase our travel tickets for the coming days. We bummed around Heidelberg, shopping and walking around--Heidi showed me all of her old haunts from her nanny days. Lunch was at Heidi and Tim's favorite German restaurant--salad, noodle soup, schnitzle and pomme frites with good beer. Mmmmm....LOVE IT! We walked around quite a bit more after lunch and then headed back to Bammental. Heidi and Tim showed me their offices and we checked e-mail. Spent a quiet evening eating Doners from the local joint and enjoying some more beer. Phone calls home to both future grandmothers were made to tell of their grandSON.

July 19
Rode to Munich today with arrival at 2:30 in the afternoon. We then rode bus 58 to Auenstrasse 23 and waited for Ruth to come home. (This was the family I worked for when I was a nanny). We talked awhile and then went with the kids to Englischer Garten to the Chinese Tower beer garden. A walk through all the naked sunbathers was an education for all of us! :) We all enjoyed a picnic supper of pommes, 1/2 roasted chickens, obatsda (fantastic Bavarian cheese spread), spiral cut radishes, spare ribs, brown pretzels, beer and apfelschorle (apple juice spritzer)--typical beer garden fare. It was good to have a chance to sit under the chestnut trees and visit with my German family. Afterwards, we rode the U-bahn home, then bus 58 and went for eis (gelato) at our local italian icecream place. We came home to Auenstrasse 23 and stayed up to chat, waiting for Uli to come home from his race at the Olympic stadium.

July 20
Today Heidi, Tim and I walked down the fussgangerzone in downtown Munich. We shopped a bit and just poked around. Lunch was sandwiches and a bottle of wine along the Isar river before setting out. My find for the day was a Blue Rider calendar, which Ruth will hopefully bring to KS for me. We wanted to go back to the Chinese tower for supper, but rain threatened. Instead we headed to my neighborhood PennyMarkt and picked up several pizzas and assorted beers to enjoy and then headed back to the apartment to enjoy a more quiet evening "in".

July 21
We got up really early this morning for Ruth's muffins and watching Matthew on TV. He and a friend were on a German TV show contest and won! After the early morning show, we went back to bed for awhile before a trip to one of my favorite places in the world--Viktualien Markt. We wandered amongst the many stands of fresh fruits and veggies, flowers, cheeses, imported oils and vinegars, jams, honey, etc... We bought supplies for our picnic: some hummus and tsatsiki and 3 large Brezeln (pretzels), before getting back on the U-Bahn and going to the English Gardens. The weather was absolutely beautiful today! We shared a massive meal under the shade of the trees. Feeling full, we walked a bit in the garden, found a piece of shade and all laid down for a nap. We awoke in time to walk back to the U-bahn and ride to Stiglmeier Platz where the English Cinema is. We watched the latest Harry Potter movie while enjoying SALTY popcorn, something that is rarely found in Germany.

July 22
Today we got up early to repack and headed by train to Salzburg, the city of the Sound of Music. Tim had never been there, so it was nice to go with someone for whom it was all new. Once we got there we figured out the bus system and were able to find the youth hostel. Our room had a beautiful view of the castle! We quickly claimed and made our beds, and then headed out to explore. We walked up the mountain to the castle, but would have had to pay to get in, so we walked back down to wander through the old city. Since we were heading on further into Austria the next day, we wanted to make sure we had all the train information and tickets correct. We had quite the experience that exemplified Heidi and Tim's "middle-aged German women" theory, and were ever so thankful for the kind Austrian ticket agent. Once we figured out which trains we were going on, and which city we were all going to end up on, it was quite a relief. Then we only had to figure out the bus schedule that would take us to St. Johannes! After that was all sorted out, we took a city bus back into the AltStadt and shared a picnic for supper while listening to the bells of the area churches. We wandered the old streets and then headed back to the youth hostel. Our room had been invaded by other people and our beds claimed. Heidi and Tim staked theirs out again, but I gave in and made another. We went to bed early, but were woken up by our roommates arriving, and then later when they were talking in their sleep!

July 23
Today we boarded a bus early in the a.m. to head to St. Johannes in Tirol where there is a Huber brewery. We were lucky to be able to get on all our busses, that we weren't too late, and that Heidi remembered that she had forgotten her purse on one bus before we boarded the next bus. On arrivel in St. Johannes we went from the Hauptbahnhof downtown to the grocery store so that Heidi and Tim were able to purchase a bottle of Austrian wine for their collection. We then went and climbed the Huber turm (tower) and ate lunch overlooking the city and beautiful Austrian mountains. My Champignon schnitzle with rice and salad was fantastic, not to mention the great Huber beer. Yum! When we were done with lunch we headed down to the store to buy Huber beer glasses and 10 liters of Huber beer in a Huber kiste (case). This is a beautiful little village that I think I need to come back to sometime. After lugging our, no--Tim's, beer back to the train station and on and off several different trains, we finally made it home to Heidleberg and Bammental. We were happy to collapse at home and sleep!

July 24
Today we spent a quiet day in Bammental. We went for apple juice at the local garden store (Heidi and Tim get a discount because they help pick up the apples that make the juice!), sent post cards and visited the toy store. I ate lunch with the hausgemeinshaft--always an event! We relaxed and napped in the afternoon.

July 25
We relaxed around the house in the morning, and then did some grocery shopping, before hopping on a train to go to IKEA in beautiful Mannheim. Mannheim is NOT a city I need to visit again--there are many more interesting and better looking places in Germany that deserve my attention! We wandered around IKEA spending most of our time in the baby section (can't figure that one out!). At home again we tidied the apartment and made beds to prepare for Mom and Dad's arrival.

July 26
Heidi and Tim went back to work today. I stayed at the apartment and did laundry and dishes, waiting for our parent's arrival. Mom and Dad showed up in their big blue van at about 12. They dropped off luggage and then looked for a place to park the van. Dad and Bill went to Tenglemann's to buy some cheese and meat while I baked some bread for a quick meal for the group. After lunch Bill and Margaret took a short nap while Mom and Dad unpacked a suitcase for Heidi and Tim. Then Heidi and Tim headed back to work while we headed out to visit Heidleberg. We started on one side of the city visiting the ruins of a cloister and then an amphitheater used/built by Hitler. Then we rode down through the old city to the other side of the city and the castle. It was too late to tour the castle but we looked around the grounds. We then headed down to meet Heidi and Tim at the station. They were bringing Leroy and Jerri with them. We wandered around the Altstadt and found a nice little restaurant, afterwhich Heidi and I enjoyed a gelato, courtesy of Bill and Margaret.

July 27
Today we headed to Sinnsheim to a museum full of old cars, airplanes, and military things. There were also several "fashion models" to go with each exhibit. Leroy and I rode in the kiddie rides together, and the best part of the museum was the slide that started high in the air in an airplane, down through a chute into the museum. I made sure everyone went, although some were a bit reluctant. After the museum we headed back to Bammental to meet Heidi and Tim and then ate Doners with assorted drinks in the hausgemeinshaft common area.

July 28
Today we drove with Heidi and Tim (and the whole group) down the Rhine river between Mainz and Koblenz, looking at all the castles and the Lorelei. We then followed the Mosel to the village Loguich, stopping in Edigar for a bit of wine tasting (try the fantastic red peach liquor if you ever have a chance!) Supper was in a hilltop restaurant above Trittenheim, where the Mosel flows in a horseshoe shape below and you have a beautiful view of the area vineyards. We enjoyed the evening, despite the cool air during supper.

July 29
After a wonderful breakfast we headed for the city of Trier, the oldest city in Germany. We took a bus tour and then explored on foot. Heidi, Bill, Margaret and I enjoyed icecream at a special place that made their own waffle cones! We drove back to Bammental to spend the night.

July 30
Today we headed south to my hometown of Munich again. This time I was to be the tour guide for a group. Heidi and Tim had to stay home to work, but I was looking forward to showing off my city to the rest of the group! We stayed in Dachau, in a former brewery in the old city. After checking into our hotel, we drove into Munich to park at the Olympic Stadium and then ride the train into the heart of Munich. We walked around the downtown a bit, and then headed to the beer garden for a true "German Beer Garden" experience. We all enjoyed a good meal, and great beer!

July 31
Today after breakfast we headed for the Dachau concentration camp. Although I've been here several times, each time I visit I always experience the same feelings of sadness and disbelief. The cruelty that humans are capable of is astonishing to me. We spent several hours in the museum and wandering the grounds, which are immense. After the sobering experience of the camp, we headed into town to explore the Nymphenburg castle. We toured the inside, but spent most of the time in the beautiful grounds. This was one of the places that I spent quite a bit of time at and I have many good memories of time spent here playing with "my" children.

August 1
Today I awoke with a terrible migraine, so I had to skip breakfast and try to rest a bit longer before our group left. We traveled today to the village of Prien to visit a palace built by "Mad King Ludwig", which is located on an island in the Chiemsee Lake. This palace is one of 3 built by the crazy king, and was built to look like Versailles. The island is beautiful and home to several species of bats. I enjoyed walking the paths to get to the castle, and the amazing fountains in front of the palace. After the tour of the castle and walking around the grounds we headed for Bad Goisern which is southeast of Salzburg, Austria and our pension for the next evenings, located on the berg Predigstuhl. Supper was at the restaurant at the hotel, and we spent the evening looking out over the beautiful mountains, watching them turn from gray to purple to rose colored.

August 2
Our agenda today included a stop in Hallein to visit a salt mine and learn a little more about the history of the Salzburg area. We had a great tour of the salt mines (in German, Italian, and English!) and enjoyed our rides on the underground salt lake, and down the 2 slides. After the tour of the salt mine, and after shedding our white oompa loopa suits, we walked around the recreated Celt village that was also included as part of our museum fee, and then headed into Salzburg. A terrific rainstorm hit while we were there, but I managed to get some great shopping done! We spent the evening at our hotel enjoying another great meal at the Predigstuhl restaurant and watching the fog roll down the mountains. I love this place, and can't wait to come back! Absolutely gorgeous!

August 3
Today we drove northwest towards Meersburg (back in Germany) which is located on Lake Constance. We drove through beautiful country--the Austrain Alps. Beautiful! After our long drive we were eager to check into our pension and find a good place to eat. We took a walk out of town to a nearby restaurant (supper was a bit frenetic as the walk took longer than anticipated, and we were needing to pick up Heidi and Tim at the train station by a certain time!). Thankfully everything got sorted out and we were able to eat our meal, and get to the train station in the next town with Heidi and Tim only having to wait for a bit after their train came in.

August 4
After breakfast we headed into the Old City and wandered the streets and small shops. There was an arts/crafts fair type thing, so it was fun to poke around in the little stalls. I found some little fairy tale books auf Deutsch--I'm always looking for German children's books to keep. After several different meeting places and time changes for our group, we finally all met up and headed for the boat landing. We took a ferry to the beautiful island of Mainau which is in the middle of Lake Constance. This was my second visit to the island, but as before, I found that I love this place! Mainau is an island that is famous for its flowers and plants. The last time I visited was at Easter time, and the island looked completely different this time. The best part last time was a green house filled competely with orchids. This time there was a special building filled with butterflies. Beautiful!

August 5
Today we started back north towards Bammental. We drove through the Black Forest, making a stop for some parts for Burton's cookoo clock, and another stop at a wood carvers shop. We also had to stop for a meal and some excellent Schwarzwalder Torte (chocolate cake with kirsch drenched cherries, whipped cream, and chocolate shavings!) Yum!

August 6
Today Heidi and Tim went back to work again, while the rest of us headed to the Alsace area of eastern France. Many of the people here speak German as well as French (the area changed back and forth between France and Germany depending on several wars). We stopped in the beautiful village of Riquewhir, which is famous for wine and the storks that nest on top of the houses. The group split up to poke around the city. Mom, Dad and I stopped at a little cafe and enjoyed a lunch of quiche. I also bought some Alsatian wine to bring home with me, and enjoyed talking to the grape farmer about the different wines and the weather for the area! After getting a bit lost in France, we finally found our way back to Germany and then to Bammental. The evening was spent packing our bags again and getting ready to go back to KS.

August 7
Dad, Mom, Leroy and I left early in the morning so that I could make my plane on time. They dropped me off at the airport (Dad got another speeding ticket, we think) with Dad heading back to Bammental to pick up Margaret and Bill, and Leroy and Mom going to pick up Burton's rental car. I was a bit worried that my luggage would be too heavy and I would have to pay additional charges, but everything went through ok. There was a bit of trouble at the passport check to let me out of Germany--there were some American's in front of me who aroused the concern of the German government and were being severely questioned about their travels, and a got sorted out, but took about 20 minutes. By the time I got up there and showed them my American passport, they were suspicious of Americans, which meant I got questioned too. (My passport still has all my working papers in it from my time in Germany, so it always raises some eyebrows, but I think the people in front of me made my questioning experience worse!) My plane connections were a story unto themselves. We didn't leave Frankfurt until 1 1/2 hours later than we were supposed to--people who had checked their baggage never showed up, so we waited for them to come for over an hour, before the pilot decided that they weren't going to come. We couldn't just leave though, instead they went through the cargo and had to find the people's luggage first! This took another 1/2 hour. So...we left Frankfurt late, and I was supposed to have had just an hour layover in Chicago. Once we got to Chicago, we had to go through customs. As always I was questioned (what is it about me? do I look dishonest?) and had to have my luggage pawed through and checked. By the time I got my luggage rechecked through to Wichita, and headed to the right terminal, my flight had left without me, or so I thought. When I got to the gate it was supposedly leaving from, there was a long line of ANGRY customers. My flight that was supposed to leave at 10:35 hadn't left yet, and it was 12:00. People were fighting over who should get the standby seats if there were any seats left over, being rude to each other and the airline workers and grumbling in general to themselves and anyone else who would listen. At various times there were airplanes supposedly sent to pick us up, but because of mechanical difficulties, they never arrived. Finally they sent an airplane for us, but we all had to change to a different gate. While waiting for the airplane to be cleaned and restocked, we watched what we think were two luggage carts crash, and 3 Chicago fire trucks arrive with firemen and hatchets running all over. At last the firetrucks left, the airplane was stocked, and we were ready to leave. And it was only 2:00! The plane that was supposed to leave at 10:35 really left at 2:15 with plenty of angry people on board. I was just glad to be heading to KS, and hopefully a chance to set my bags down and rest! Carmen picked me up at the airport and let me nap on her couch while waiting for my parents. Mom, Dad and I got home to Hesston around 11:15 or so, and headed straight to bed!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Taking myself out

I'm taking myself out...because romantically there isn't anyone around here who is interested in me, or that I am interested in. I know, I sound silly...but I'm taking myself out--and I'm going out of the country to do it! Now, that is a date! :)

As a teacher I work hard throughout the school year. I go to school early to help kids, and get lesson plans ready. I stay after school to help kids or attend meetings. I work hard throughout the day, teaching and smoothing the way for a population that not many feel called to work with. In the evenings, I go home, but school is constantly running through my mind. In the summer, I teach summer school, volunteer, and work other odd jobs.

I put in my time at work, and when I'm not there I am busy running errands, going to school, trying to accomplish all that I possibly can, and check off as much as possible on my "to-do" list (there's always more to be done, but I do what I can). I feel that I deserve some time for rest and relaxation now.

Monday afternoon, I'll be boarding a flight in Wichita that will take me to Denver, and from there I'll go on to Frankfurt, Germany. I've been packing for the past week, trying to cram in as much stuff for Heidi and Tim as I possibly can, but still have room for clothes for myself! I may end up wearing maternity clothes before this vacation is through! :) At least they will be stylish maternity clothes--no frumpy outfits allowed! I'm looking forward to spending some time with my best friends, Heidi and Tim. We're planning on doing a bit of traveling, but most of all, I'm just looking forward to being with them. I've truly missed them this year, and I'm excited about being together again. The time will go quickly, I'm sure.

While I'm there, I hope that I'll have a chance to post and update everyone on all that we've done, and are doing. Check back, I'll try to post as often as I can.

I'll be flying back on the 7th of August, but I'm going to do my best to get bumped. Whichever day I end up coming back, I'll have to spend the time on the return flight sorting out everything I need to do for the start of school. I'll only have about 3-4 days before school starts when I get home. It doesn't matter how rushed I'll feel though, being with my family again will make it all worth it!

"Play is the business of childhood, and its continuation in later years is the prolongation of youth." --Walter Rauschenbusch>

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Making a date with friends

Okay, I admit it! Sometimes I take life too seriously. I know, I know, it's a surprise to all of you! :)

There have been some instances of late that have made life seem more like an uphill climb, fighting all the way, instead of the playful romp I'd much prefer. I decided to do something about it today though, and spent the afternoon with Julie and Quinn out at the lake on the dock and enjoying the boat. I had so much fun this afternoon, I think I'll repeat the experience tomorrow as well!

Relaxing with friends puts problems into perspective. Friends are there for you through tears and laughter, troubles and triumphs. Friends make life worthwhile, ensuring that love and laughter are a part of your week.

Laughter can relieve tension, soothe the pain of disappointment, and strengthen the spirit for the formidable tasks that always lie ahead. --Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Sand Fantasy

Okay, so I may be the last person on the block to know about this, but my friend Kym introduced me to something really cool tonight. It's called sand art, and if you go on YouTube you can find several videos on it.

The ones that I like the best are done by a lady, Ilana Yahav. Ilana is a sand animation artist.
Using only her fingers, Ilana draws with sand on a glass table. If you attend one of her live performances, a video camera is trained on the glass table and the images are then projected up onto a screen so that all can see. My favorite of them all is "Just Imagine". Her website is . Following are excerpts from her website telling about her art form...

'Ilana draws on sand, using only her fingers. As she weaves together sand, lighting and music, Ilana creates incredible three dimensional vistas they play out in perfect time with the musical accompaniment, Indeed, it is difficult to decide if the music accompanies the work of art, or vice versa Ilana's fingers dance in the sand on the glass to the music, the resulting aesthetic dynamic is powerful and moving. Ilana uses this original technique in the creation of advertisements and image building clips.'

'The art of "Sand Fantasy" was created for specific song lyrics and themes, where some of the clip messages were presented as a story created by sand. The show is created not only after a song's main message and spirit, but is also synchronized with the rhythm and music.
The combination of the production of music clips with this unique art usually raises tremendous interest in the local media (TV, newspapers, magazines) and helps enhance public relations for the singers or musician involved.'

**For those of you who make a habit of watching Animal Planet, they used sand art for a marketing series. Amazing animal pictures!

****While you're at YouTube, check out this video! Wish we could have done something like this when I was in German class!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

This and that

The countdown is will be only a few short weeks until I am boarding a plane and flying to see my sister and brother-in-law. It feels like I need to cram in as much summer as possible before I leave, so I've been filling my days to the brim.

Yesterday I spent time moving stuff from one classroom to another at the school in preparation for summer school, which starts next Monday. I also spent time getting copies done, and trying to think through some lesson plans for certain kids. After I was done with that, I rode my bike over to Kym's house and ate a salad with her, while playing with Jaxxi. We had an enjoyable few hours playing with the baby, and enjoying the cooler, rainy weather on the front deck. In the afternoon I did some cleanup around the house, getting dishes and things like that completed, and then went out to mow the lawn. The recent rains have made it so that it is too wet to get in and mow, but still make the grass grow more! It looks like I need to borrow a baler now, and maybe in a few days I can make a hay bale! :) I was a sweaty mess when I was done--the humidity yesterday was something else!

So far today I've gone on an early morning walk around Marion with my friend Julie, run some errands downtown, and I'm in the middle of making some homemade yogurt. This afternoon Kym and I will go for haircuts--I know, I lead an exciting life! :) It's been good to have a few days of relaxation though, I like spending time in my own home, something that I don't seem to do much!

Tomorrow the big thing on my calendar, aside from my morning walk, is learning a new sequence for massage class. I'll be learning side-lying massage, and prenatal massage, so that I can give Heidi some massages while I visit. It's important to be trained in the specific strokes, because certain types of massage and work on certain pressure points actually start labor, which is not something we should do at this stage! Maybe if she's overdue and ready to pop at Christmas when I visit, but not at this point! After massage class, I will hop into my car and head to NE to visit Grandma and Grandpa J. Tim and Terri are on vacation right now, so I'll be doing some of the farm chores while I'm there. This is the first time I'll be back since they sold the animals off, so I'm not sure how I'll react to it all. I've tried to prepare myself as best as I can for the change.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Date night with Grandma

Tonight is date night with Grandma B, and everyone is coming in my direction. After my 5 mile bike ride around the lake this morning I started on the ribs so that they could bake all day, and hopefully fall off the bone by tonight. I even made my own BBQ sauce for them. I also was blessed that Heidi and Terri were online and I was able to chat with them for awhile.

I've been busy picking up the house a bit, folding and putting away laundry, although I'll save my major cleaning for Friday in order that everything is ready for my purse party. I also had my TM1 final today--the full Swedish body massage sequence. I was a bit nervous, and made a few mistakes, but overall it went really well. I have a meeting on Friday with the ladies at the massage clinic to go over procedures and expectations. I'm eager to start moving my things into "my" room, and decorating the room to make it my own.

When I got home, I baked a quick loaf of beer bread for dad--carbs, carbs, carbs! ;) Pickerings will be coming over after dinner for some more talk about our summer travel plans.

The rest of the week is going to be some more "deep" cleaning of the house, getting curriculum and plans done for summer school, May girl sleep over, purse party, and maybe a few other fun projects thrown in there!

Erica's South Beach-Style BBQ Sauce
1 1/2 medium sized onions, chopped
2 T. garlic, minced
Drippings from meat
1 cup water
4 T. vinegar
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tsp. Splenda
2 tsp. mustard
1/2 cup ketchup
2 T. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce

Saute onions and garlic in the meat drippings. Add in all other ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Great News!

Summer, or what I've had of it so far, has been busy. Our family had a wonderful, wet trip to Indianapolis. Upon re-entry in Marion, the week was busy rushing around catching up and preparing for Becca's beautiful wedding this last weekend.

Our garden is bountiful, and rewarding us with an enormous amount of produce. We've got lettuce, spinach and cilantro coming out of our ears--a good problem to have, if you ask me! We've harvested all of our cauliflower by now, and I have put some in the freezer for later. Our broccoli plants are doing really well too. We've got little jalapenos, bell peppers and tomatoes putting on. Our bean rows are nice and straight, our cucumbers are spreading out their winding tentacles, the onions are slowly growing bigger, and the potatoes are flowering and bushy. I think we'll be blessed with more than enough--plenty to can, freeze and share with others.

I've canned some salsa verde already. I cut part of the cilantro plants out (it barely made a dent in it!), and added jalapenos, tomatillos, garlic, onions, lime juice, and a few pablano peppers. It's a beautiful green color, and can burn your skin off! I accidentally splashed some in my left eye, I thought I was going to have to go to the ER! Thankfully I was able to wash out the eye with cool water and plenty of tears.

My good news for the day is that I've officially now been invited to join the massage clinic here in town. As early as next week I can move in and start setting up a client base. Yippee! I need to figure out how I want to advertise, and how I'm going to go about all of this... I want to at least make enough to cover the rent for the room I'll be occupying, and not be "out" of any money at the end of the month! If you have any suggestions, I'd be happy to hear them! Of course, I'd welcome any of you to be my clients! ;)

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Summer--already slipping away?

Yes, I know that summer has just begun, but to me it seems like it will soon be over. Please don't misinterpret my words! I am NOT complaining, just noticing that each day in my coming weeks/months has a specific task/chore/purpose attached to it. I feel as though I'm measuring out the minutes, and weighing the importance of each appointment--whether it is worthy of my precious "free" time and attention.

Yesterday was my first day of summer--I spent it by waking up early and meeting Julie at 6:30 for a walk around the lake. We then proceeded to spend several hours pulling every weed we could grab from the garden, raking and hoeing, plus harvesting several heads of lettuce, some cauliflower, and part of our abundant spinach row. After picking all of the produce, we spent several hours washing and bagging everything. We ran into a minor problem when the sink wouldn't drain--but thankfully Quinn is a plumber and fixed the problem when he got home from work. Julie and I also completed the mural we have been working on in her basement. We need to finish up a few things, and then find a way of sealing it, but pictures will soon follow. It is a tropical oasis, perfect for those dreary, winter days when you need a bit of the beach!

I didn't get home until mid afternoon and then started mowing the lawn--we've had plenty of rain these last weeks, and the lawns around here show it! Grass seems to grow quickly, and then add frequent rain into the equation and you get to mow pretty often. Since there is rain in the forecast for the rest of the week, I decided I needed to snatch my chance and get it done with. I've already mown several times this spring, but I have a neighbor behind me who hasn't at all. The grass is several feet high at this point, and I'm wondering how long it will be before they break down and hire a tractor to come in and do it for them. It does look like they tried to mow part of it a couple weeks ago, but it must have been too much for the mower, because they just have one strip mown through the middle and then the rest has been left!

This morning was pretty overcast, so Julie and I opted to bike around the lake instead of walking--just to make sure we could get back to their farm quickly if the sky decided to open up and really rain. We had a few random sprinkles, but overall it was pretty dry. Absolutely beautiful ride, although my thigh muscles didn't appreciate all of the hills today! I didn't stay as long today, as I needed to get home and then head to Newton. I met up with Becca and did some pre-wedding (coming up this Sunday!) shopping. We went out for coffee and talk about wedding plans, and teaching--Congrats to Becca on her new job--3rd grade teacher in Wichita at Harry! Then I headed over to Arlin and Maretta's for a Buller family ice cream social. Anthony brought his new girlfriend Ferrel, so we all had a great time grilling her! Ferrel held her own, so I don't think we've scared her off, yet!

Tomorrow I need to go though some stuff here at the house and see if there is anything I want to sell at a garage sale on Friday. I also need to get my massage stuff ready for Sat.--I'll have a booth set up in the park for Chingawassa days. Feel free to drop by for a chair massage--in 5 min., 10 min. and 15 min. time slots!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Tuning in" to the right broadcast

Near car accidents...field trips....crowds....noise...chores at home...a never ending "to-do" list...general end of the school year chaos at work...

Daily life can wear my soul down, making me tired. Thankfully, God's beautiful landscape is out there waiting to renew me. I've been going out to Julie and Quinn's quite a bit recently...watching the horses gallop over the pasture...the baby chicks scurry across the yard...the sun setting through the trees, spreading vibrant colors across the sky...plucking wily weeds from our straight rows of potatoes, onions, lettuces...

When I'm spending time outdoors, I'm in a world filled with beauty, far, far away from my everyday cares and worries.

Jesus also left the crowds behind and went to the wilderness to pray. For me, spending time in God's creation is a form of prayer and thanksgiving for all I have been given, but also a way of feeding my spiritual body. The pastor of the small congregation I attend here in Marion said something a couple of weeks ago that has stuck with me ever since--he said, "if you are tired of doing ministry [which I feel applies to teaching!], check and see whether you are being fed spiritually."

Am I being fed, filled to the brim, renewed for my ministry? How do my community--my church congregation--my personal devotions feed me? Am I doing enough? Am I doing too much of the "other" stuff that fills my life?

As this last week of school winds down, I'm eager to find more moments that I can snatch, leaving the crowds and cares of life behind.

I like to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station,
through which God speaks to us every hour,
if we will only tune in.
-George Washington Carver

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Preparing for summer

Tonight is a bit cooler than it has been recently, and I thought I'd take advantage of it. Knowing that much warmer weather is coming, I spent the evening doing some baking--something I won't be doing much of in the next couple of months. A couple nights ago I put the ingredients for pizza crust in my bread machine so that I can freeze some par-baked crusts for quicker (i.e. cooler!) meals this summer. I'm looking forward to some pesto and mushroom pizzas with them!

Erica's Whole Wheat Pizza Crust Dough (makes 8 personal size crusts)

1 1/3 cups warm water

3 1/2 T. olive oil

1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups all-purpose white flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 tsp. yeast

1. Add ingredients in the order given into the bread machine pan.

2. Start dough cycle (my machine is about 1 1/2 hours).

3. When the dough is done, remove it from the pan and make into 8 small round balls, or put into a Ziploc baggie and into the fridge for later use.

4. Roll out dough into small circles on a floured surface. Pierce the dough so that it doesn't bubble when par baking.

5. Bake in oven for 3-5 min. at 350 degrees F. (flipping partway through time) until both sides are lightly browned, but still pliable!

6. Remove from oven and let cool. Prepare for the freezer by putting wax paper between layers and then storing in the freezer.

7. When ready to use: Take as many as needed from the freezer, let thaw a bit, and cover with favorite toppings. Bake until toppings are cooked through. My favorite toppings are basil pesto, onions, mushrooms, goat cheese and mozzarella. Yum!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Happy Belated Mother's Day!

To all of you mother's/grandmother's/aunts out there, Happy Mother's Day. I hope you had a wonderful, relaxing day spent with those you love. Mom, Dad and I spent the evening out at the reservoir last night, after a quick trip to see Quinn, Julie and our massive garden.

I provided sausage and fish to grill, and a couple sides, and mom and dad added a salad and dessert to the meal. It was a beautiful evening, high water and a gorgeous sunset, plus some old Marion teaching friends happened to stop by.

It has been awhile since I posted, mainly because my life has been pretty busy lately. Since my last posting, I have finished up my A and P/Pathology course, at least for this semester--yippee! Next semester I'll be driving both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings for A and P/Pathology, but at least I get a break for a few months now. I'll be continuing my tutoring during the summer to see whether I can get ahead a bit there.

Last Friday I had my first paying massage "gig". I took a personal day and went to Remington schools (it was Teacher Appreciation week) and did massage all day for their teachers--paid for by their PTA group. All staff members were given the chance to sign up for a 10 min. chair massage. Although it was a bit physically tiring for me, I had a wonderful time. Carolan (my tutor) owns a massage clinic here in town that is affiliated with the hospital, and we had several conversations throughout the day about whether or not I will be joining the practice. It sounds as though in the next few weeks it will all begin to fall into place, and I can start working there in the evenings, weekends and this summer. The whole day was good for my soul--after an especially trying week.

This weekend was beautiful, I spent time on Sat. out at Julie and Quinn's working in the garden--we harvested some spinach, broccoli, and radishes, and went to a friend's cabin up by the lake to cut fresh asparagus. We also moved the baby chicks from one pen into the bigger pen with the bigger chickens--quite an experience for all involved! Now Julie and I will have to clean out our garden shed again, since we had been using it to keep the babies out of harms way.

I also spent a bit of time making some homemade granola, which turned out wonderfully, if I do say so myself! I ended up giving some to Mom for mother's day.

Erica's Sugar-Free Granola

4 cups oats

1/4 cup coconut

1 cup mixed dried fruit (I used dried blueberries, cranberries, cherries, and raisins)

1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 tsp. Splenda

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients with 1/2 cup canola oil. Spread evenly on baking sheet. Bake at 300 degrees F, for 15 minutes, turning frequently. Watch carefully that the fruit doesn't burn!

Monday, April 30, 2007

Message of Hope

As we drove throughout Oklahoma City this past weekend, I began to notice a statement that kept cropping up, seemingly repeated on every third or fourth bench we passed. It really struck home with me, and reminded me of the importance that the dialogue between God and myself should hold. There were several times that I tried to capture a picture like the one below, but there were individuals sitting on the benches. I wonder if they even had a passing thought over the message they were leaning against, or whether the bench provided just a place to momentarily rest for them.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

-Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

When things don't seem to be going my way, may I not become restless in the uncertainty--but rejoice in the assurance that God will provide for me, and rest in the knowledge that I will be taken care of according to His greater plan. All I have to do is ask!

Though you have not seen (Christ), you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

-1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Oklahoma City Memorial Weekend

This weekend was the 7th Annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Although I didn't participate in the marathon, the 1/2 marathon, or even run (I did try to jog to the bathroom once!) this weekend, I did enter the 5K fun run/walk.

The Gates of Time: Twin gates frame the moment of destruction (at 9:02) and mark the formal entrances to the Memorial. The East gate represents April 19, and the innocence of the city before the attack.

My friend Christina and I headed down to OK city on Friday afternoon after work. The drive down went well, and we were able to check into the motel without too many problems (there was a bit of road construction that we had to fight through.) After checking in, we headed to a local chinese buffet. It was wonderful, several rows of hot chinese foods, a cold buffet of veggies to have stir-fried (like Mongolian BBQ), and a sushi bar. I was in heaven! It was even more enjoyable when we got the check--it was less than $10.00 for each of us to eat, plus we could have had salmon, chicken, steak, lobster, etc...cooked to order and included in the price! What a find, and definitely a repeat for next year! By the time we were done, it was time to head to bed.

Sat. a.m. we woke up and ate breakfast at the hotel, and then headed into downtown OK City. We paid our $5.00 parking fee and walked down to the Cox center to pick up our t-shirt and entry packet. There is also a health expo going on that we walked through--I purchased some nice new inserts for my athletic shoes, and also got a free chair massage. When we had gotten our share of freebies we headed for the park that is nearby. Running concurrently with the Memorial celebration is also the Arts festival that is held in the botanical garden downtown. Throughout the park there are booths with fine art, culinary art (yummy!) and performing arts. For lunch I had a lamb gyro and pita chips with hummus. Christina chose the German meal--Knockwurst, Rotkraut, Saurkraut, fried potatoes, and a roll. We wandered around the art booths, and watched several musical acts before just strolling through the botanical garden, and then sitting beside a fountain for awhile.

One of many of the visual arts displays.

Included in the displays are artists actually in the middle of their art, talking through their craft and answering questions for people.

Coi pond in the Botanical gardens, and various views of the gardens. The greatest thing about the entire thing is that dogs/animals aren't allowed in the park--no worries of stumbling across anything when you want lay on the grass and enjoy your surroundings.

Christina had to finish a paper so we headed back to the motel. I took a nap while she did her homework. Mom and Dad joined us at about 5:30, and we headed to a nearby steak restaurant--Cimarron's. We all enjoyed a good, and very filling meal before heading back to the motel to sit outside and catch up on our reading, while enjoying the beautiful evening. We headed to bed early.

We woke up at 4:00 this morning in order to shower, grab some breakfast, and catch the shuttle bus downtown for the 6:30 start time. There was a bit of a break-down with the bus shuttles, but thankfully we all got where we needed to go. We headed for the starting line (and our place at the back of it!), catching the last part of the sunrise service.

At 6:30 the race started, but it was a good 10 min. before our end of the line had moved enough to cross the starting line. For anyone who hasn't experienced this weekend memorial, you need to! It is the very definition of the expression "a sea of humanity". It is amazing to see the people all stretched out, never seeming to end. I kept trying to get a picture of it, but I'm not tall enough to capture the sheer enormity of it all.

Mom, Dad, Christina and I all walked in a group, weaving in and out of the people around us that were going slower. This weekend draws people from all over the world. At one point this morning, Mom was trying to get around a group of (loud) New York men, who wanted to know why she wasn't using her turn signals! Thankfully, everyone is united in the reason we are there walking/jogging/running, and it is like walking with a group of friends--eager to talk, and hear your stories, as well as share their own. Dad got split up from us for awhile, so I wasn't able to see him with his "crush and throw" motion at the first water stop...I guess he'll just have to go next year so that I can see it! :) When we crossed the finish line for our 5K the 1st guy was finishing his 1/2 marathon! It was amazing! It was still too early for us to head back to the hotel, so we walked over to the memorial and walked around. I'll include some pictures (items in green are taken from the memorial brochure) and my thoughts will be in blue.

The Survivor Tree: 90 year-old American Elm stands as a profound symbol of human resilience. The message on the stone surrounding the elm reads: The spirit of this city and this nation will not be defeated; our deeply rooted faith sustains us.

Field of Empty Chairs: 168 chairs stand as a reminder of each life lost, symbolizing the absence felt by family members and friends. The chairs are placed in 9 rows, representing the nine floors of the building. The chairs are placed according to the floor on which those killed worked or were visiting. The chairs are designed in two sizes, the smaller size representing the absence of 19 children. The field's perimeter matches the footprint of the former Murrah Building.

Reflecting Pool: The pool occupies what was once N.W. Fifth street. Here, a shallow depth of gently flowing water is intended to help soothe wounds, with calming sounds providing a peaceful setting for quiet thoughts. The West Gate represents 9:03, the moment we were changed forever, and the hope that came from the horror in the moments and days following the bombing.

Children's Area: In the aftermath of the blast, countless expressions of encouragement were received from children. A wall of hand-panted tiles sent to OK City in 1995 by children illustrates that caring.

The Fence: The first fence was installed to protect the site of the Murrah Building. Almost immediately, people began to leave tokens of love and hope on the fence. Those items now total more than 60,000 and are collected and preserved in the archives.

"We come here to remember those who were killed, those who survived and those changed forever. May all who leave here know the impact of violence. May this memorial offer comfort, strength, peace, hope and serenity."

This was left by one of the rescue workers the day after the blast.

Along with a marathon, 1/2 marathon, wheelchair marathon and 5K, there is also a Kids marathon. It was really neat to see them racing the last leg of their race!

This is the reason why we do it, and why I will continue to go back and participate. It is hard to keep the tears back when you see person after person that was affected that day.

Mom and Dad--it was pretty bright at the memorial, so the pic didn't turn out as well. We're pretty proud of Mom and her first athletic medal! :)

Christina and me on the way back to the hotel after the race. Tired and sweaty--ready for a shower and the drive home!