things i currently like

In no particular order:

1. My softball team. The girls are great. And we are winning a lot, which is always a bonus. It's fun to be a part of a team again, and to be a part of competition...both are things I enjoy greatly, and missed greatly.

2. 1:22 pm to 2:16 pm. This is my planning period at school. I love it.

3. Buttered noodles. For those who know me, you know this will never leave the list of things I like.

4. This quote: "I want God to play in my bloodstream the way sunlight amuses itself on the water." [Elizabeth Gilbert] b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l.

5. My living room. It is becoming more and more complete and feels more and more like home. [I'll save the ceiling that is falling in due to air conditioner leakage in the mudroom for the "things I currently don't like" list]

6. My new car. Subaru Outback. LOVE it. I've wanted one of these for a long time. For those that may refer to it as a station wagon, I am sticking my tongue out at you.

7. Finally feeling like I have a professional wardrobe that lasts me for more than a week.

8. Cool nights.

9. DVR. Being able to record, stop, start, rewind, pause LIVE T.V. is the coolest invention ever. Standing ovation to the DVR inventors out there [I'm sure they don't read my blog, so if you know them, pass this along]

10. The hubs. He is awesome. And very patient with me in this time of utter chaos. What the heck...I'll give him a standing ovation too.


i think i can...

i think i can...

i think i can....

i think i can...



My life has been dictated by checklists this week.

You see, school starts tomorrow and around this time I like to make boxes, and neatly write beside them something to do. And then when I accomplish it--- CHECK!

I'm about "CHECK!"ed out, but feel prepared for tomorrow. As prepared as a teacher can be on her first day I guess.

That being said, say a prayer for me if you think of it!

Thanks. Update soon. :)


thoughts for grandma

As a little girl, there was always something to occupy my time when I visited the "Iowa Grandparents." After a long six to seven hour car drive, my sister and I were more than ready to unbuckle and tumble out of the backseat. However, it wasn't just the leg cramps and the seat belt marks we were trying to escape; it was the thought of being at Grandma and Grandpa's that really catapulted us.

If I wasn't rolling around maroon balls on the huge pool table in the basement, I would be digging through the best collection of dress up clothes imaginable. It was heaven for a little girl with a creative imagination. There were also games to play, the boards older than I could even fathom: Chinese checkers, some wooden, homemade marble game that I still don't know what the actual name was, "vintage" barbies, and a monopoly game with money and property cards that had been lost over the years recreated on cardboard. But better than the game itself was a grandma that would sit down on the floor and play it with me.

We would walk to the Park Store with Grandma, rarely to get a treat, but rather to wander its aisles and be by Grandma's side. We would then meander over to the park, at the heart of the small town, and swing and slide until we were too worn out to do anymore. After a quick but hearty "dinner," it was off to visit my great grandmothers at the nursing home in town. I didn't realize then how lucky I was to know my great grandparents, but I also didn't realize how lucky they were to have my faithful Grandpa and Grandma visit them daily. Family takes care of family. After eating Andes mints in Grandma Huisman's room and staring wondrously at Grandma Schoon's earlobes, it was back to the yellow house for more unadulterated play time.

If one of my 83,234 cousins was not around to order me around/play with me, I would have my pick of the dress up clothes and hats. I would wiggle my pudgy young body into a beautiful pink, lace dress and find cream colored gloves that I could have fit both my fists into. I would struggle to get my fingers in the proper places, but finally could wiggle all ten with the correct material moving in correspondence. I would then affix a hat to the top of my curl covered head-- of course it did not matter if the hat actually matched my outfit, for cohesive outfits did not matter at Grandma's house. Having been sufficiently draped in necklaces, I would grab the bottom of the skirt, typically 2 feet longer than necessary, and traipse upstairs. I would stand in the kitchen and announce my presence, preparing my audience in the living room. Loping around the corner I was lucky if I didn't trip over the bottom of the dress, or the heels on my feet that were a woman's size 9, but my onlookers never cared if I stumbled. "Oooohs and Aaaaahs" were heard from all directions, and as I curtsied and turned to go back downstairs I was trailed by my grandparent's applause.

After several displays of beauty, I would saunter back up to the living room and curl up on the couch next to Grandma. I tried to listen to the adult conversation but my mind would soon wander. So I reached for the side table by the couch and quietly pulled open the drawer to retrieve one of my favorite toys: white and blue sand trapped between two oval shaped pieces of plastic. I could swirl and twirl it to my heart's content, occasionally showing Grandma my masterpiece. I'm sure it looked like nothing, just pieces of colored sand intermixing, but she would smile and quietly reassure me of my sand picture talents. She would then quietly reach over and grab my hand and rub each finger and joint. All of my life I know I will never find anyone else who can give a good rub like Grandma.

When supper rolled around it was all hands on deck. Kali and I would help set the table, while mom and grandma masterfully twirled around in the kitchen. Once we were all gathered around, we would bow our heads and in his solemn, distinct, and low voice, Grandpa would begin the Lord's Prayer. "Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name..." The one sure way I can summon the sound of his voice to this day is to listen for him saying this prayer. We'd say our "amens" and pass the meal, being sure to get the perfect amount of butter on Grandma's perfect homemade bread. Kali and I were careful to not squirm or sing or goof around at the table: the Schoon's greatest rule. After the devotion was read from "Our Daily Bread," it was time to clean the table and head off to our baths.

Grandma would help us scrub behind our ears, as she had perfected over years and years of so many children and grandchildren. We would dry off and, clean pajamas over our fresh skin, squeeze toothpaste onto our brushes. I always wanted to use Grandma and Grandpa's, thinking it was a very special and expensive kind, saved only for the best people in the world. It was a wonderful turquoise gel with a minty flavor surpassed by none. It wasn't until I was quite a bit older that I realized AIM toothpaste was a bargain buy, but to me it will always hold special powers.

With damp ringlets around our faces we would say our goodnights and pass out kisses and hugs and then Grandma would follow us to the back bedroom where the three of us would pile onto the bed, covered in a quilt made of dresses of the past. We would squeeze in close so we could hear her sweet, northern voice as she read to us from the pages of books that were older than we were. We learned what would make Harriet the hippo smile, and would echo in unison that one should "NEVER TEASE A WEASEL!" Then with kisses and sweet back rubs, Grandma would slip through the doorway.

Inevitably our time would end and we'd say our goodbyes and pile back into the car. As we pulled out of town, my mom's tears always confirmed that we were leaving the presence of goodness, and that this place was, in fact, very special.

Years later, after Grandpa had said his last "Hallowed be Thy name," Grandma was still pouring herself into her family. Even though she could no longer make her famous bread, or get on the floor to play games. Even though the remnants of the dress up clothes were spread far and wide amongst family and the pool table had passed on to the next generation. Grandma knew she could trust the hands that led her blind eyes because she had spent time cultivating them to be trustworthy. Though her love was a bit more tired, it was still there. She would still reach over, with a tremulous hand, and rub mine. The last times I visited her I could physically feel her cherishing the goodbye hug and kiss as if it may be her last.

Though she had to spread her love out wide, it was never spread thin. At her funeral there was evidence of so much love and faith throughout many generations.

Thank you Grandma, for letting me use your toothpaste and encouraging my creativity and reading to me and rubbing my hands and praying. So much of who I am is because of you.



[A word about disclaimers: Many a blogger offer disclaimers at the beginning of a post after a long absence. I have even been guilty of such garbage. However, I have recently decided that I personally don't like reading them, so I am not going to write one. Furthermore, you all probably know we just bought a new house, which includes endless amounts of work. You also probably all know that I am a teacher and as such have been drinking up the glorious days of summer...and most recently panicking that I haven't done more to prepare for this school year. But since I decided I am against disclaimers... I won't write one and will spare you all the torture. You're welcome].

A fellow teacher-friend of mine came to visit me about a month ago. In the darkest part of winter we had decided that when the July heat was in full force we would don our cutest bathing suits [whether or not we had attempted any form of working out previously], lather on sunscreen, and pretend like we were thirteen again and spend a day at the great and marvelous Oceans of Fun in Kansas City. We were both a little surprised that we followed through with our winter promise to each other, knowing full well that when one hasn't seen the sun and has been walking on snow for a month or two your decision making abilities are not always at their highest capacity.

That being said, she drove South to my place, we lathered, I hadn't worked out, we put on our suits, we judged our aging bodies accordingly, packed a lunch, and had a wonderful and glorious 7 hour day at the water park of my childhood.

However, this post is not about waterparks [although they are still incredibly strange places where people walk around in what can sometimes be deemed less than underwear and it's considered normal], and it is not even about making everyone who did not choose a career in education jealous [although it is worth noting that you should be incredibly jealous of our lazy summer days... even though while we were laying in the wave pool my teacher-friend and I had a brief discussion about whether it is lay or lie and how we teach our students the difference... but I digress]. And no, this is not even about me arguing with those of you that will say, "You are 24 for crying out loud! Your body is NOT aging..."

No, this is actually about something quite different entirely. It is about how this visit from my teacher-friend who is also a city-girl [and all sorts of other hyphenated words], helped turn the tide in my process of moving "home."

You see we went to this quaint little store just outside of town, run by a local Mennonite family. We both ordered some coffee and in the process I struck up a casual conversation with the sweet lady that owns the place. It went something like this:

Sweet Lady: Are you getting a little more settled now?
Me: We still have a lot to do but yes, we're feeling more and more settled everyday.
Sweet Lady: Now you moved here from Nashville, right?
Me: No, Louisville. My older sister is in Nashville.
Sweet Lady: [Apologetically] Oh that's right! And she's the one that has that sweet little girl, right?
Me: Yes, Caroline. We're all a little nuts about her!
Sweet Lady: Well I know your parents are really glad to have you back. Here are your white-chocolate mochas [because hey, who said Mennonites don't serve fancy coffee!?]. Have a great day ladies!

Teacher-friend and I proceed to sit down at a little table next to homemade jams and spices and sip our coffee. She looks at me with a huge smile and says, "Wow, Kels." I peer over my steaming mocha, thinking she is probably going to say something like, "Seriously? Are you bff with the Mennonite lady or something?" But instead she says very sincerely, "You must just LOVE this. All of this. Being known again." And as I formed the word "Yes" I realized I really meant it.

My teacher-friend is very wise. I love her to pieces. I really do. [Except that she looked far better in her cute swimsuit than I did... but I guess we all probably have a friend like that :)]. While we were sitting at that little table someone else came in the store. I got up, hugged the customer, had a little chat, and then sat back down. Teacher-friend just smiled and said, "Every face is familiar. When we were in your backyard yesterday two cars drove by and you knew both of them and they waved at you! I don't even know my neighbors. Oh Kels, you're going to love it here."

Later that morning I hugged my teacher-friend in her city-girl dress and she got into her black city-car, and as she drove away I began thinking:

Most of America idolizes small towns, but live in large cities or suburbs. If you think about it the iconic "Main Street" of small towns is everywhere: Disneyland and Disney World even put a Main street at the center of their paradise, every truly great classic movie has a peaceful main road in the center of their town. And these places are dying because even though people secretly long for that welcoming and convenient small town, they can't bring themselves to live there. And so these places are dying.

But here [and I'm going to try to be more careful about not saying exactly where we are], that's what I really love. Because here it is the way small towns are supposed to be. Our Main Street is complete with an old, brick courthouse [complete with familiar faces from my childhood], a post-office, a true old-fashioned hardware store [where you can buy anything from a birthday card to a microwave to paint to a lawn mower!], a couple of banks, a couple of bars and restaurants with clever names like "The Tavern," and "Coffee Time Cafe"], a little public library, a family drugstore and lots of churches. Most of the buildings are old brick, paint from every decade showing. Wide sidewalks and waving passersby line the brick roads. Local farmers' daughters sit in the back of pick up trucks at the four-way stop and sell sweet corn and tomatoes. It is a scene you have seen in the movies a million times. And I realize now how rare this place truly is. Global and national chains have not tainted this place with a loss of personalization. Sure, I can't run into Wal-Mart to buy Great Value milk and bread, but I can walk to the local grocery store which has been owned and operated by the same family for years.

The most common question I have been asked by people back in Louisville [or friends from other cities] has been, "Do you miss the convenience of the city?"

My answer: Life is way more convenient here. Sure, I may not always have the cheaper option that retail chains can offer, but if necessary I could drop my car off for an oil change [and talk to the car-guy about his granddaughter whom I graduated with], walk over and have a sandwich at the local cafe, walk to the post office and do a little business, go to the dentist, the local tax office [and have the lady work up my taxes and then not charge me but rather ask for some iris bulbs in return], the drugstore, the grocery store, the courthouse, the bank, and the hardware store, and then walk back to pick up my car all in less than hour if I wanted to! And along the way I would know everyone with whom I was choosing to do business. In the city I would have to plan a full day, if not two, to accomplish what I could accomplish here in an hour ON FOOT!

I would bet that you could ask almost any American to picture the quintessential American town and they would think of images such as parades on Main street, and black and white movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" set in places much like I have been talking about. It is likely their images will always involve a small-town scene.

And though most people don't have the privilege of living in such a place [because these places are almost all stamped out], I do... and I think my teacher-friend was right: I'm going to love it here.

** But I do miss Starbucks' java-chip-frappuchinio.