Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Day 3 & 4 of the Western Expedition + a Top Ten

Day 3 of the Western Expedition- Sunday, June 25

Not much to report for Sunday. Kristi and I awoke at some ungodly hour again, and then went to Phoenix Church. After church, we traveled to my aunt’s house and then to my cousin’s house, feeling much like we were on a tour… or more so like we were on TLC. Anyway, at some point in the afternoon we ended up over at Kierland, which is like a little shopping area city all its own. We walked around there for awhile and then ate supper at North. Kristi and I split a pepperoni pizza, and I’m pretty sure we took care of the whole thing. Yeah- pretty impressive.

Later that night, my cousin, Stefanie came over and we talked to her for awhile surrounded by popcorn, licorice, and soft drinks. Mmmm. Good end to a good weekend.

Day 4 of the Western Expedition- Monday, June 26, 2006

After much thought and effort, Kristi, my mom, and I headed over to my aunt’s house to spend that day at her pool. We had packed up all of our necessary pool items plus a change of clothes, because we were going to be eating supper at her house later that night. We even stuffed my aunt’s SUV with 2 pool rafts. Well, needless to say, when we arrived, the plans got switched around, and it ended up that we were going to be spending the day at my other aunt’s house who we had just come from. And that we did, after finally driving all the way back and unpacking again. We had a nice day in the sun with some more of my cousins.

I found a water disc and Kristi and I played Frisbee for awhile. Kristi had a tendency to throw the disc either very far or in a direction perpendicular to me, and at one point she threw it completely out of the pool, which is really too bad, since the pool has a negative edge water system that pours water into a canal at the side, and then beyond that is basically a mountain heading downhill with desert landscape features, including rocks, cacti, and other shrubbery which usually is baking hot in the sun. My point being… the rescue of the disc was going to be an adventurous one. The side of the pool is lined with rock that gets very hot in the sun, so it’s not like we could just stand around for a long period of time and gaze down the mountain to find the pink disc. We finally got a mat and sat on that, and Kristi was brave enough to jump off the rock wall (about 5 feet or so tall), climb down a little bit, and rescue the poor item. After all this work, we didn’t even end up finishing our play; I guess it was the thought (and the fun we had getting there) that counts.

My cousin’s daughter is only a couple years younger than me, and she had come over with a friend, so we all played Speed Scrabble outside. After that fun mind-testing game, we got cleaned up and went to my aunt’s for supper. My great aunt and uncle came, as well. Fortunately, my cousin who played Speed Scrabble with us earlier called us to come over and play more fun games with her and her friends, so we enjoyed some time of Apples to Apples and we even introduced them to Telephone Pictionary.

Seeing as it is Tuesday when I am posting this, and because I have gotten an adamant request from one of my most cherished readers, I am going to throw in a top ten with the end of this post. Only those who conquered reading through this whole report (or for those of you who are smart enough to skim to the bottom) can enjoy and vote on the top ten.

Top Ten Moments of the Western Expedition

1. Toast- the hummingbird
2. The man on the plane who told us all about AZ’s finest activities
3. Audience sitting in family room watching the News on TV, fully engrossed in the day’s happenings being reported. Aunt runs excitedly into room and says, “You’ll never believe who I just got off the phone with…”“Not now, ______,” Uncle says. “Save it.”
4. Red Balloon Discovery
5. Scottles, the parakeet
6. “Baked Potato” winning over “Super Model” for the word “dainty”
7. “WHATEVER”…. Even said by 60-year old uncles
8. Organic foods and sun tan lotion
9. Decorating homes
10. Honk!

There is your ten. Vote on whichever one strikes a cord way down deep. Love you all! T

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Day 2 of the Western Expedition

Day 2 of the Western Expedition
Saturday, June 24

At 6:30 a.m. in the morning, Kristi awoke like an early bird as if she did it every morning. Keep in mind the time difference- 6:30 in Arizona = 8:30 in Illinois. Anyway, eventually I woke up and joined her to start our Saturday.

We headed outside to the hot dessert and basked in the sun… for about 3 minutes, before certain individuals could take it no longer and jumped into the pool. It was a refreshing welcome on such a scorching day. Much to our dismay, cloud cover hovered above us most of the afternoon, but we somehow all ended up enjoying the warmth that enveloped us as we relaxed.

After enjoying a mild lunch of CHEESE CRISPS (Kristi prefers the title “quesadilla,” and simply cannot understand why our family calls them this name), homemade salsa and whole wheat tortilla chips, fresh fruit, and an ice cream bar, we headed back outside… but not before introducing Kristi to an entirely new fruit: the strawberry. Sitting there appalled was my mom and my Aunt Connie, trying to fathom how she had never ever tried a single strawberry in her life. Well, we couldn’t have it.

I kindly sliced up a strawberry into several pieces while Kristi sat there with a scrunched up look on her face.

“Try it….try it…. TRY IT,” I cheered. She hesitantly took a bite, and ended up enjoying it immensely, but not without a few comments about its texture.

Upon arriving back outside, we both jumped into the pool, and I swam over to the edge to get a gander at the beautiful scenery in front of me that stretched out down the mountain for miles. Looking up into the sky, I spotted something. Was it a bird? Was it a plane? Was it SUPERMAN?

No- it was a red round object, flying gently in the sky with something attached at the bottom of its string.

“Look!” I shouted to Kristi, pointing up at the flying object. “It’s a balloon!”

“Yeah, and there’s something attached to it. I wonder where it’s going?” Kristi pondered.

“I don’t know. It looks like it’s headed our way.”

Well, wherever it was headed, it had a long way to go- it was pretty high up in the sky.

Within a minute, though, the balloon had managed to float over our way, lowering itself into an area that looked very close to us.

We just had to know for sure.
We climbed out of the pool, ran across the deck, and rushed through the gate, turning the corner. As we peered down the driveway, we both came to a complete halt, our mouths dropping open.

“There it is,” I whispered, pointing down to the foot of the driveway.

Sure enough, there it was, floating above the driveway under a shaded tree.

We approached cautiously.

“I wonder if there is a bomb attached to it,” I remarked. Kristi stood at a safe distance, and I circled the balloon, trying to eye what could possibly be attached to its string.

I picked it up, and low and behold… it was a CD, melted and twisted into the shape of a heart.

So thank you- secret admirer, for sending that present our way!

Kidding. But it was amusing, and we immediately befriended the balloon and went running with it back to the pool, half expecting for there to be several other balloons in the sky floating in our direction. Sadly, we were wrong, but it was fun to find such a prize.

The rest of our afternoon was spent being lazy at the pool, and then Kristi and I decided to be active.

“Let’s play tennis!” I suggested.

Now let’s get one thing straight. Neither Kristi nor I have played tennis since high school, so seeing us up there on the tennis courts was probably an amusing sight- and to our knowledge, no one got to enjoy that sight except us. We practiced serving and hitting the ball for awhile until running around and whiffing became tiresome and hot—I kid you not, it was likely still over 105 while we were up there.

After returning to the pool and then getting cleaned up, we headed to Pasta Pomodoro, a small Italian restaurant, and enjoyed that with my aunt and uncle. We then went to “Honk,” a play about the ugly duckling, featuring my little cousin. It was a darling play, with lots of fun and laughter.

By the time we got home, Kristi was ready to crash. After all, she had gotten up at 6:30 that morning. I somehow killed an hour (I have been dying to stay up late on this vacation, something I don’t get to do much now that I work every day), so I did so, and then climbed into the big, King-size bed next to her. The enormous size of this bed is nice for a change; usually, I am kicking, shoving, and elbowing the whole night through, but we practically have to get binoculars out to see each other in this bed. Nice change.

That wraps up Day 2 of the Western Expedition. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on today! I love you all!


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Western Expedition Series- Day 1

Day 1 of The Western Expedition Series
Friday- June 23

Preface: Get ready for an intense, 10-day journey through “The Western Expedition,” featuring Chelly, Kristi, and Taryn. Chelly, who grew up in Phoenix, Arizona is excited to return to her place of “home” and visit her sisters and their families. Taryn is just as excited to see her family and enjoy the annual visit to the hot desert. Kristi will be experiencing this place of sunshine in her first trip west of Illinois.

*Due to some blogger technical difficulties that have been worked on and unresolved over this past day, pictures will not be posted until the end of the trip so as to not slow the reporting process, as well as to create a certain anxiety for the audience reading... I know you are all visual learners, so check back in a week for a gallery!*

Our journey started off standing in the middle of Peoria Airport- my dad was hugging my mom and I good-bye, and Kristi was adjusting her big white sunglasses on her face. Scenes like this are emotional for her. We proceeded through security, and successfully boarded the plane to Minneapolis, but not before catching a couple from Morton church… the joys of living in Central Illinois. Wherever you are, there are people you know.

“I feel like the president,” Kristi commented as we climbed up the stairs to board the small plane. Clearly, this whole “airplane” experience was new to Kristi, as was quickly reinforced to my mind as she started chattering about the tiny area of the plane.

“Are you kidding? Is this really what we’re riding in? It’s so small!” I heard these novice-flyer type comments frequently.

However, my real amusement was yet to come. As the plane prepared to take off, I glance over at Kristi next to me, who was avidly gripping the armrests while her eyes were squeezed shut. What’s that? Oh yes- of course, I got a picture.

Don’t worry- our flight to Minneapolis was pretty painless after that. When we arrived in Minneapolis, we then took somewhere near a 20-minute walk to our destination- one of my mom’s friends who lives in Minneapolis was kind enough to meet us at the airport during our 3 hour layover and drive us over to the Mall of America for lunch. We ate a nice lunch, chatted, and browsed through a store before returning to the airport.

We returned to the airport in just enough time to board our much bigger and more comfortable plane for the 3-hour ride to Phoenix. We took our seats and settled in. Of course, 5 minutes into the spacious plane, I was out like a light, leaning against the window next to me.

Kristi wasn’t so fortunate to enjoy such shut-eye. An older man with a definite extraverted personality preference was seated next to her, and he never gave her a moment of silence. Kristi now knows the following:

-In regards to designing a logo, the importance of trying to use Arial or Times New Roman as a font choice.

-Several random comments and thoughts applied to the process of flipping through a magazine.

-A few varied facts about his family life.

-Every possible tourist attraction, site-seeing pleasure, or hobby-related activity available in the whole state of Arizona.

Luckily, I was able to listen in on that last bullet point- I had woken up by then. This guy was a character to sit by... be expecting a shot of him in next week's gallery.

Upon arriving in Phoenix, my aunt picked us up and we met my uncle at Islands, a restaurant there where we all grabbed some burgers and fries.

Well, that wraps up the wonderful first day of flying, footing, and food. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on today.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Relay & a Psalm

It would be very rare if any of you did not know someone who had cancer, or who was affected by it some way. By now, we all know the horrors cancer can cause and the agony of a raod it can be to go through-- and although this horrible disease can seemingly control and overtake lives in a way that is undesirable, it is a sickness like this that spurs events like "Relay for Life" to take place. If I have to find a positive in the hugely negative, I will say that one kicker to a sickness like such is the uniting effect of determination it can cause in families, friends, and communities.

On Saturday, I was able participate on a Relay for Life team to help carry out the symbolic meaning of what cancer patients go through in their "walk" via walking the track and helping with other activities. In preparation for this event, one is required to raise a minimum of $100 (which really isn't asking much), but after doing this for 2 previous years and catching Kristi's enthusiam of the event (as she has been involved with Relay for longer than I have and was a committee member with publicity this year), I decided to shoot for bigger and better with Kristi. We made ourselves "one person" as Taryn-Kristi, and together raised almost $6,000, coming out as the top raisers of the day. It was amazing being able to contribute to such a worthwhile cause, and in such a small way. Our team, the "Toucans," (motto: We "toucan" find a cure), came out as a top raiser with reaching our goal to raise $10,000. The reason for the raising really hit home to me early on in the day, when a cancer patient (who actually goes to our church) walked into the gym full of relayer teams and other survivors, and everyone stood up and clapped for her as she walked to the front with her walker. She had just finished with chemo treatments the day before, and ended up being one of our speakers at the Luminaria services that night. Knowing that our money was going to be going towards cancer research that would directly affect that lady, and so many others who have cancer currently or who will in the future reminded me why events like Saturday and money-raising like what we had been doing was all worth it.

The theme of "Relay for Life" points back to one word: Hope. It is amazing to see so many people united together to fight for a cause that affects so many.

Some of the relayers on our team trying to keep warm!

Kristi and Adam battling it out in some Euchre during a break

Kristi and I after the Luminaria

Kristi and I "being" the picture... we were trying to figure out what facial expressions to go with, and found out after the picture the sign said "Smile and say Boo" - it was probably for the best that we realized that after the picture

Well... let me rack my brain for other tidbits of brilliant information. Hmmm. Ok, spiritual tangent.

Today, in church, I established my new favorite chapter in the Bible. It would be Psalm 139. I am going to paste it below, and then talk about it.

Psalm 139

1O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me.

2Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

3Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

4For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

5Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

7Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence?

8If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.

9If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;

10Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

11If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me.

12Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.

13For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb.

14I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

15My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.

16Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

17How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!

18If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

19Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men.

20For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain.

21Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?

22I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies.

23Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:

24And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

I believe the captivating-ness of this passage gets me in the sense that it envelopes the sweet essence of the Lord knowing us so intimately... and being there with us, no matter what. Let's face it; there is no one in this world who knows us better than Him, and so why does it seem like sometimes our goal would be to replace Him with another "someone" or another "something?" Why does the "search for a soul mate" or other fanciful, wordly idols take place of the One who knows us inside and out, and in whom we should be focusing our every day on pleasing? That gets me, and those questions convict me, because I am guilty as charged when it comes to those inquiries.

This morning, Ted Witzig also quoted a phrase he once heard that went something like this: "Where a man's heart is, that is his god." Sooo true. I challenge you to all ask yourselves, "Where is my heart RIGHT now?" As Christians, let's not lie- we all have our good times, and we all have our not-so-good times. Hopefully, though, it is through those downer times that we learn to rely on God even more, strengthen our faith to a deeper level, or learn to rebound in a way that takes us even higher than ever before.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:" What a request!

"...And see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

That's a great note to end on. Love you all. T

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Tricia- Part I

Announcement: My Top Ten Tuesday is officially only going to occur once a month on a Tuesday. Any comments, questions, concerns or complaints can be directed to my blog editor.

Today's post will focus on the fourth "T" of our soon to be expired T House. Next fall, the T House girls along with two newbies will be moving into a house closer to ISU campus. While I am excited to welcome the new girls (who will have their fair share of "Room mate, Part I, II, and III's), it is time now to center our attention around TP. No, I have not forgotten about her. Please understand that having 3 room mates is a huge responsiblity for a blogger like myself, and I cannot simply just have my "Room mate, Parts I, II, and III's" within weeks or even months of each other. That would be overkill. They must be spaced out so as to keep proper reverence. So brace yourselves- Here is Tricia, Part I:

We will roll out Part I with 10 random facts so as to properly transition all of you Top Ten Tuesday-sick folk. Consider this your rehab for the time being until another Top Ten comes around (within the next 2 weeks.)

1. Tricia sometimes goes by TP or Trikia.

2. She drives a green truck. This truck sometimes has sand bags in the back, and has even been known to be used as a swimming pool.

3. Tricia ALWAYS has a good story.

4. She has the most melodic, beautiful voice and coupled with her extreme guitar skills, she could blow any audience away.

5. TP is very laid back, easygoing, and fun to be around--all in one. People like that are hard to find, so I am a lucky to have one as my room mate and friend.

6. When Tricia thinks something is funny, she shows it with a big, appreciative laugh. I love it when people show their amusement without fear, and she knows how- sometimes, we have been known to laugh so hard together that we cry. We try not to make this too often a practice.

7. She is bilingual. Some days, she even humors me enough to let me carry on a conversation in French with her. Pourquoi? Je ne sais pas.

8. She has a wonderful missionary heart, and her ability to reach out to others in a Christ-like way is natural.

9. She is going to Europe this summer to bask in the essence of becoming culturally educated- an opportunity TP will make the most of with her French speaking abilities and friendly personality.

10. I always know that I will have a good talk with Tricia. Her heart and mind are always focused!

Remember- no voting on this one. Just read and enjoy, and comments are welcome. Enjoy, and I love you all!