Tuesday, April 30, 2013

6 months.

Dear Ryan,
I'm exhausted. As I type this I am fighting my eyes from closing and looking at my achey, swollen fingers. Today was a long day at work full of meetings and discussions and battles. All I really want to do is curl up in a ball and fall asleep.

But I can't. Because I have so much to do. Laundry, bills, cleaning, getting ready for a big event at work tomorrow. It's times like these I am extremely jealous of you, my little sweet pea. I'd give anything to have your innocence back and to spend my days sleeping, eating, and playing.

I know you won't remember what life was like at 6 months old. But I can tell you- you've got it good, kid. You have family and friends that adore you and want to spend time with you, who love watching your milestones unfold and hearing stories of the new things you've learned. All eyes are on you, and we love you so much.

Lately there's been a lot of really icky things happening in the news. You may hear about it one day. And if you do I hope you remember that despite all of that, there's still good in the world. You still have the ability to choose good, to choose love. Remember to always help people when they are hurting. When disaster strikes, no matter the size of such disaster, you can always help.

I spent some time with you this past Saturday. I had really missed you and wanted to see your little face. I took you for a walk with Grandpa and Clancy. It was really special. You behaved so well, you didn't make a peep the whole time. And you stared at me as we walked and I chatted with Grandpa, like you were listening to every word. I know it sounds crazy but I really feel like you and I understand each other. I know. How can a 6 month old understand me? But I think you do. I can't wait for you to get a little bigger, to start walking and talking, so we can have some wonderful conversations.

This month has felt very long. A lot of things happened in my personal life and at my work, and it seems like everything is all pushing together. But here we are, April 30th, and you are 6 months old.

I cannot ever express how much I love you, but I can tell you that I did not know this kind of love existed until you were born. And I know it's only going to grow from here. Happy 6 month birthday, Ryzinga.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Zip Codes

Dorothy tells us "There's no place like home". True. But where is home? I have many places I can call "home".  Being at home is all about being surrounded by love and support.

Today I am going to tell you about some of the zip codes I have been lucky enough to call home.

Troy, MI. This is where I lived from birth to age 12. I still have our full address and phone number memorized  because in Safety Town we learned that you should always have that information ready for a police officer but never share it with a stranger. I took that stuff seriously. I adore the house I grew up in. We had a good sized yard, a couple big trees to climb, a swing set and a basketball hoop. Plus, that was the kind of neighborhood that was infested with friends. All we had to do was walk out our front door and we could enter into adventure land. We had this huge black porch that was perfect for summer bbq's and picnics. We'd also usually have an inflatable pool in our yard during the summertime. There's a pretty fabulous home video of my brother, probably at age three or four, "accidentally" dropping a golf ball into the pool and then reaching in to get it. When he saw that everyone was watching him and laughing, he went back in- twice, with a sly little smile on his face. That neighborhood was so perfect. I had an amazing childhood  and a large part of that is because of that house and the friends on the street. We went outside at breakfast and came back for dinner. We went on bike rides to the school in our neighborhood and played wiffle ball or played on the playground. We picked raspberries on the trail leading out of our neighborhood. It was so perfect. 

I was actually just in that neighborhood this past Saturday. My sister, her husband and my little nephew live there now. My dad and I took Clancy, their dog, and Ryan, my nephew on a walk. It was so fun to take a little stroll down memory lane. I could almost see us, our pack, running from house to house. 

On that walk I told my dad "we were really lucky to have this place as kids". Because we were. I tend to forget that not everyone has that. Honestly I would give anything to go back to being my 8 year old self, riding my bike to chase down the ice cream truck. 

We moved to a neighborhood in Bloomfield Hills when I was going in 8th grade. It was similar to Troy, but at that point I was "too cool" to go outside and play with my friends all day. But it was convenient. It was close to the school where I was going and my mom was teaching, close to Church, and it was full of families from our school and church community. I had a few friends living in there, and we'd take long walks around the neighborhood at night, singing our favorite songs at the top of our lungs and talking about boys.

One of the coolest things about that neighborhood is the swim club. Right there, down the street from our house, is a clubhouse and a pool. Let me tell ya, it makes the summers that much more fun. I was on the neighborhood swim team in 8th grade. We had so much fun. It wasn't super competitive and I loved being in the water. I didn't love the early morning practices and the 2 mile runs we did, but hey, I loved to swim. 

It was a tad difficult to live there in high school, but only because my school was a good 35 minute commute and all my friends were spread out. I didn't have many friends that lived near me. But I still loved the house. I had a big room, and while my Troy house is where I spent my childhood, I really grew up in Bloomfield. I spent all my high school years there and had my graduation party in that backyard. I played with my dog Seamus out in the open yard, helped my parents with yard work  and spent a lot of my time in the basement, instant messaging my friends doing homework. ;-)

Eventually, Alex, my best friend that I've mentioned in several of these blogs, moved into that neighborhood. That made life even more exciting. We drove together to numerous events, parties, softball games, dances, etc. Then there were the few times where we'd get a "free water" from Wendy's and go play on the playground at the preschool in the neighborhood. I spent a lot of time with Alex, whether it was in the car or at his house watching a movie. We came up with so many ideas, jokes, and plans. We were invincible. 

I continued to call 48304 "home" until February 2012. (More on that later). My parents still live in that house, though. I tend to call it "my parents house" instead of "home". But really, it is home. Because I know I can always go back there. And I do,  often. It's only about 15 minutes from my house now. I will go visit them on a Sunday afternoon or a Friday night. Sometimes I spend the night and I adore waking up to Seamus running up the stairs or my dad getting us Tim Hortons. The house is fully decorated with pictures of our family, and again, I say, I am lucky to be part of such a loving, caring family. You can see it through the pictures, and you can feel it in the house.

College. I actually think I had two zip codes at Western (one at the dorms, the other at the apartments) but for the sake of sanity, let's just go with 49009. Good ole Kalamazoo. As I mentioned in my Western blog, I adore that city. It's small, but full of treasures. I lived in three different apartments my sophomore-senior year, but all in the same apartment complex: College Park. It was SUCH a good deal to live there. A lot of people forgot about it because it was further from campus, but what they didn't know was that it was significantly cheaper than most of the other apartment complexes, but also about 10 x nicer, and the only ones that came fully furnished. Plus, there was a free shuttle to campus. There was really nothing to complain about, and I had a really good experience with the management. 

It was also directly behind a movie theater  Starbucks, Target, and Hobby Lobby. C'mon. Jackpot! My friend Megan and I used to walk to the movie theater every Thursday because they had a $3 movie and popcorn deal for students. The place was always packed. I remember specifically when we saw Stomp The Yard. Life changing experience.

I had all the shortcuts of Kalamazoo down to a science. I knew which hills to avoid in the winter. I knew the best route to Grand Rapids, another fun town. I knew where to go for a quick getaway or for a drive with a friend. I have put blue ribbons on trees all around the city to represent Child Abuse Prevention. I've lost my phone at the State Theater. I've seen Taylor Swift play live at Western's auditorium. I had a secret coffee shop downtown where I would go to study, and no one ever found me or knew about my secret place. I spent many a night at the piano bar. I can tell you every single house in Greek Village and what order they are in on the street. I know where to go in the "student ghetto" and I surely know the best places to order food after a late night. And, where NOT order. 

I miss Kalamazoo more than I can express. It is such a wonderful place. My roommates and I are planning on going back for Homecoming this year and I just know we are going to have an amazing time.

So, to make a long story short, after I graduated from Western I did a year of service through Mercy Volunteer Corps. Even though I was from Detroit (although not really from the city itself), I wound up being placed there too. Typically you are not placed in your hometown, but the way the cards landed, I called Detroit home for a year. I lived in Corktown, which is the oldest neighborhood in Detroit. Everyone around me was nervous. They couldn't believe I was going to be living in the city. I heard comments for weeks, and even now when I tell people I lived there, I get quite a reaction.

I loved every moment of it, I can count only one time that I actually felt scared. 

We were in a safe spot. Our neighborhood was full of young couples and families, retirees, and nuns. Our friend Dean lived two streets over, and we often walked back and forth to his house. We kept our front door open when the weather got warm and became close with several of our neighbors. On Sunday mornings we walked a few blocks over to church at Holy Trinity, a very Irish Catholic parish. We walked back and made brunch, and then we all did our thing for the day. It was perfect.

I can't say enough good things about Corktown. There are so many local businesses and a very rich history. We lived right across the street from the Old Tiger's Stadium. In fact, we were living there when the last of it was being torn down. We could walk to the Detroit River and look over at Canada. We could smell the food cooking over at Slow's BBQ, a restaurant so good that there was often a 2-3 hour wait to get inside.  We could ride bikes to Honeybee Market, our favorite place to go grocery shopping. 

Corktown is sort of sandwiched in between Mexicantown and Downtown Detroit. Mexicantown is a tough area. I worked there while living in Corktown, at a high school. Even though it's tough, and there's a lot of bad things that go on, I once again never really felt scared or threatened. I never walked alone and was careful with locking doors, of course, but I wasn't scared. Probably the best part of Mexicantown is the food. Authentic Mexican food every few steps. People from the suburbs drive down there just to get some good Mexican food. I still say the best place is E&L. It's a grocery store that sells taco's at their meat counter. And they are the BEST taco's you will ever have in your life. I promise you that.

Downtown Detroit is also fun. You can get tickets to Tigers games for pretty decent prices, see a concert at one of the famous venues, hang out at Campus Martius, go gambling in Greektown. I could go on and on and on. All I'm saying is: Give Detroit a chance. It is full of incredible places. I absolutely loved living there. And that's all I have to say about that.

I now call Birmingham home. I live in a little 900 sq foot ranch house with two of my best friends. It's the perfect location for us right now. It's close to downtown Birmingham, which has shopping, two movie theaters,  bars, coffee shops, etc. We can also walk to a drug store and a hardware store. It's almost too good to be true.

Our neighborhood is mostly families. Everyone is very friendly. There's a school right down our street and you can often hear kids playing soccer or lacrosse. It's a very safe neighborhood, very lively and exciting.

Birmingham has a reputation of being "snotty". When I tell people I live in Birmingham they roll their eyes and say "ooooh. Fancy". That's the cool thing about my neighborhood, though. We don't live by all the mansions that most people think of when they hear "Birmingham". We live in an eclectic neighborhood. Some houses are huge, some are tiny. And no one really cares. Everyone is really laid back.

I have no idea how much longer I'll be living in this house. Our landlord is in Texas which makes it kind of difficult to get things fixed or questions answered quickly. But other than that  I do love the place. It's a good size for the three of us. Who knows what the next 9 months will hold for us. Maybe one of us will get a new job and have to move our meet our Prince Charming. I'm not really sure. I try not to think about that because I am the kind of person who totally freaks out when I have to think about my future. So for now, I just really enjoy where I live, and take it all in. For now, this is home. 

Well, kids, this is it. The end of the A-Z Challenge. I've had a lot of fun and met so many other bloggers. I plan to continue to hop around to the blogs I found. Thanks for reading my memories.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


I realize I did not write an "X" post and I have no real excuse other than I flat out did not have a clue what I should write about. When it comes to memories, I have none that start with "x". I already wrote about X-Men two years ago, and I hate copying posts. So, I just skipped it.

So now here I am, trying to desperately come up with witty "y" and "z" posts. I got nothing. I'm sure I could post some lame-o memory if I really really thought about it, but I've already been digging my brain for ideas and I've got a rough work week ahead of me.

My point in all the above chit chat was to say this: I apologize if these last two posts are totally stupid.

For my "y" post, I ended up posting on twitter and asking my followers to throw out a year from 1987-2013. I gathered up 5 of those years, and have written some memories/thoughts for each one. I hope you enjoy.

I was three years old. I had big eyes that were extremely noticeable. We had a favorite little restaurant and so often the waitress would comment on my eyes. I hated it. I hated the attention. I was dangerously shy. I liked pink, Barney, and playing with my brother. I was happy. I liked macaroni and cheese, drinking juice out of a sippy cup, and I was learning how to use my left hand. I preferred it over my right. I was in preschool and had best friends that were boys.

I was 8 years old. Still dangerously shy. Still had those big eyes. Dance at Borgo Sisters. I got my first pet, and then gave it away. I loved being with my family, and spending the night at my grandma's house. I read chapter books like it was my job, was terrified of math, but overall enjoyed school. I was in Brownies. I liked my teachers and wanted them to like me. A boy named Grant was in love with me and made me a heart out of snow on the playground. My mom subbed for our class when our teacher was out and I loved every minute of it.

12 years old and learning about friendships, popularity, crushes, and music. Obsessed with N sync  Backstreet Boys, The Spice Girls, and Hanson. Wrote notes to all my friends in school, trying not to get caught while passing them. I would have been in 7th grade, so I was going to Barn Dances and having sleepovers with my friends frequently. We made up dances. I had big crushes on cute boys in my class. I was learning about my options for high school, even though I pretty much knew I was going to Mercy. I was playing volleyball, basketball and softball. I learned about grief, I learned how to comfort my friends. I worried about clothes and good grades.

Sweet sixteen. What an awkward age. All you want to do is be around your friends. My friends were my lifeline. I loved being at school, it was my very favorite place to be. I loved to learn, but hated certain classes. I listened to bands like Something Corporate and Dashboard Confessional, plus my very favorite band, The Spill Canvas. I was learning to drive, and therefore gaining a little bit more freedom. I was discovering who I was and who I wanted to be. I had issues with lying, and issues with social anxiety were starting to really come out more.  I had really strong feelings for a guy who pretended to share them but he was lying to me. I admired my teachers, my parents, my siblings, and Oprah. I hung out with friends on weekends, read Harry Potter and laughed as much as I could. I was hurting a lot, too, but if I could be with my friends, I could forget about that for a little while.

This is one of those really interesting years. For the first few months, I was miserable. I was in a really bad living situation. I was depressed. I felt stuck and was worried my "friends" would dismiss my feelings so I never talked to them about it. And then, one night, I heard Melinda Doolittle singing "There Will Come A Day" on American Idol, and I started to change. I grew a little stronger. I made friends with Sam, who was good for me and helped me to get past all the other challenges in my life. That summer, Sam and I became best friends. We discovered a mutual love for so many things and became passionate about living life to the fullest.   2007 wound up being a great year. In the fall I was living with Sam and two other girls and we had so much fun. We'd have Rockband and movie days, we'd go shopping together, get drinks, go out to dinner. We made each other laugh and pushed each other through. I learned how to be happy again. I learned how to help myself, how to heal myself. I also met Melinda this year, and with that became incredibly close with a group of people known as "the backups" but also known as "some of the best friends I'll ever have in my life".

Hands down the best year of my life so far. For the first half I was wrapping up my senior year of college, living with my two friends Lauren and Jess. Lauren and I were pretty much inseparable and she managed to make my senior year amazing. I was also doing my internship with KCAN. I got to go to so many concerts/events that year for some of my favorite people and artists. I graduated from college. I took a trip to Vegas to visit backups. Then, in the fall, I began my year of service through the Mercy Volunteer Corps, where my life was forever changed. I was working at Cristo Rey High School, living with three beautiful people, and becoming reconnected to the Sisters of Mercy. My faith was strengthened and my life found meaning. I tip my hat off to 2009, it was honestly, the most life changing, exciting year I have had so far.

Every year of my life has taught me a lesson. I've had my heart crushed, but I've also had it full of happiness and gratitude  I have an amazing family, fabulous friends, and incredible life experiences that I am proud of and that I embrace whole heartedly. It's no secret (or maybe it is, to those who don't know me as well) that I have had some issues with anxiety, and a little depression, but I am here, and I am in love with life, as hard as it can be sometimes. I keep pushing on. I gather up all my memories from all these years, and it gives me strength to keep going.

I can't wait to see what my future years are going to bring me.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Western Michigan University

When it came time for me to start applying for colleges, I was completely lost. I never had a
"dream school" and I wasn't set on going anywhere in particular. I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I was bitter about leaving high school. Mercy was my safe place, I didn't want to go somewhere else.

I visited a few schools, browsed websites, and applied to some smaller out of state schools. Then some of my friends started talking about Western Michigan University. I took an interest in it. It wouldn't be too far from home, but far enough. It was big, but not too big. I applied, was accepted, and enrolled. Boom, boom, boom. Just like that, I had a new place to call home.

At the time I was most excited that some of my best friends from high school were also going to Western. It was going to be like high school again, just on a college campus! Right? wrong! I think I hung out with those girls maybe once or twice during my entire four years at WMU. We grew apart. Well, I should say, I grew apart from them. They all remained pretty close.

But let's not focus on that icky stuff. Let me tell you about Western.

It's a great school. An amazing school, actually. It has this reputation of being a party school, an easy school. First of all, please tell me a college that isn't a "party school". People are going to party if they want to party, doesn't matter if it's at Western or Notre Dame. Secondly, it wasn't easy. I remember once getting angry at one of my friends who went to a different school. We were talking about our final exams coming up and they said something like "yeah but you go to Western...".  And your point is? My finals were hard too, thank you very much.

I thoroughly enjoyed most of my classes at Western. I had one or two that I hated, but for the most part, I really did love to learn. My major was Family Studies, which meant that my core classes were all in the same building, and I had several professors twice or even three times. They knew me, and they were there for me. That's what makes Western different than other big state schools- the class sizes are small enough that people know who you are, you don't get lost in the shuffle. My classes for family studies included classes like child development, family dynamics, child psychology, sociology, etc. I LOVED that stuff! We did many projects, interviews, papers and I dove head first into every single one.  My absolute favorite class was Juvenile Delinquency. For that class, we had the opportunity to visit the Juvenile Detention Center and volunteer with the kids there. Seems scary, I know, but I was in love with it. I went more than I had to, because I got so much out of it. The girls unit only had about 6 girls living there, and I really got to know them. I talked to them and helped them write letters home. They got to write a letter if they behaved during the week. Except that most of them did not know how to write, so I helped them. I also read to them and helped them learn how to read. I really felt like I was doing something good. They weren't scary. They were just lost.

Back to Western....I know Western's campus like the back of my hand. When I was there as a student I'd know the best buildings to cut through, which one had the best coffee, where to find a quiet spot, which building had the cleanest bathrooms. I always made it a point to cut through the music building when I could so I could hear the music students rehearsing and practicing. I loved when I ran into someone I knew on campus. I loved just being on campus- it was exciting, people walking quickly back and forth, couples holding hands, people smiling while they chatted away on their phones. Often times, if I had a moment or two in between classes, I would call up or text my friends from back home to check in with them.

I was involved with a few different organizations while I was a student at Western. First, Delta Gamma. That was the sorority I joined my freshmen year. I took leadership roles, made friends, went to a lot of parties, made bad decisions, lost friends. Without dwelling too much on my sorority experience, I'll just say it wasn't the best. Our chapter ended up closing before my junior year, and we all became "Delta Gamma Alumnae".  Being a part of Delta Gamma was crazy, stressful, fun, exciting, and entirely too much work. And that's all I have to say about that.

I was also involved with Campus Activities Board. Once a month we'd meet and plan out activities for the Western Community. We'd have movie nights in the big auditorium and sell popcorn, plan concerts and coffeehouses, and other fun events. I liked being a part of that organization because we helped people have fun.

And finally, during my senior year, I became involved at the Catholic church on campus. I had sort of pushed my faith life to the bottom of the barrel early on in my WMU career, but I was so happy I finally found it that senior year. I went on two retreats, made some new friends, and had a place to go to Church. I didn't go every week, but it helped to have somewhere to go.

I honestly do have some really good memories of my time at Western. Painting the greek rocks with my sorority sisters in a tornado warning, grabbing a den pop and den sammich from the Den Party store, having breakfast at Campus kitchen and seeing all your friends there waiting for a table, dinner at Main Street Pub, going to East Campus to find ghosts, Rock Band/Movie Marathon Sunday's. I had some great times there.

The two lovely ladies I live with now are friends from Western. I met Sam through my sorority. We became good friends pretty fast, and we had a lot of common interests. She pretty much saved me from having a disastrous college experience. I met her right at that point where I wasn't sure if I could take it anymore. She showed me hope. Sam and I live together my junior year, and it was then that we met Lauren. She was friends with our other roommate and came over once for a party. Soon we started hanging out with Lauren all the time and she became one of our best friends. Sam graduated that year, so Lauren and I lived together my senior year. Now, four years later, we're ALL living together. Crazy, huh?

My experience at Western socially was almost a disaster. I fell into the wrong group of friends and didn't involve myself in things I REALLY cared about until later. But I can't blame the school for that- it's quite the opposite actually. As a student, I loved Western. I take pride in my school. I would love to go back and visit, and I encourage the teens I work with now to consider it as an option when they are looking at schools.

So to sum it all up: Go Broncos. Grab the reins.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I had a really hard time with my "v" post. I could have written about volunteering, but I've done that about a zillion times by now. Or Vegas, but I've only been there once and don't remember much of it. Or Valentine's Day. But I've only had one really good Valentine's Day, and Mr. Romeo who made it so great is no longer in my life and I don't really wish to talk about him.

It was only last night, after coming home from my volleyball game, that I realized what I could really write about.



I started playing volleyball in 5th grade. I fell in love with it pretty fast. I liked that it didn't involve a lot of running, that it required strength, and that it is so focused on teamwork. I was never one of the best players. When it comes to sports, technique is not my strength. I just play.

I played volleyball at St. Hugo every year, and participated in volleyball camp over the summer. Coach Sopko is really to blame for my love of the sport. He was always in charge of the camps, and I learned so much from him. He'd reward us with gummies if we did well. I tell ya, it worked. We loved those gummies. It was a sport I truly enjoyed playing. In 8th Grade I was on the "B" team, but hey, I was captain of that "B" team. So there. It was my first real leadership role. I liked being able to motivate my team and encourage the 7th graders. I laughed while we made up cheers and passed out awards at the end of the year.

For me there was no doubt that I would play volleyball in high school. It just seemed like the natural route. And I did, my freshmen year. Again, I was not one of the best players. But boy, did I love playing. I especially loved our tournaments. We'd get to hang out with each other all day, play volleyball from morning till late afternoon. We would start to get crabby with each other but we always laughed a lot. I still look at pictures sometime of one of our first tournaments, when we were still getting to know each other and just goofing around the whole day.

 I remember my coach would rotate me out of back row. She didn't think I could serve well enough and she preferred me to be in the front so I could try to block hits. One tournament, though, she let me serve. And I remember the deep satisfaction I got when I served about 5 in a row, without the other team returning them.

The summer after my freshman year I went to a hitting camp and the school volleyball camp. I was preparing to make the JV team. Except...I didn't make the JV team. I was absolutely crushed. Volleyball was something I loved, adored, and the fact that I couldn't play devastated me. It took me a while to get over it, but I found other things to be involved with, and I started to branch out and make new friends. I found new things to love and adore.

Volleyball didn't come back into my life until I was at Western Michigan University. I joined a sorority and one of my sisters, Jess, asked if I wanted to gather up some girls and play volleyball in a rec league. I agreed, and in the winter months, we played about once a week. the season didn't last long, but it was at least a way for me to sneak in my favorite sport. Senior year was far too busy with internships, jobs, job interviews, and school, so we didn't play. And, once again, I missed it.

When I worked at the high school doing a year of service, I frequently went to the girls volleyball games to support them. I'd hear myself yelling out things to them "TIP!" "WATCH IT!" "OVER!" "CALL THE BALL!" I couldn't help myself. I'm surprised I didn't run out on the court and hit the ball myself.

The next year, my sister asked me to play on her rec league with her friends. I was finally old enough-over 21. I agreed and had so much fun. The league was not competitive at all, so for the most part was just had a lot of fun and I was relieved to discover that even though I had not played in a few years, I was still decent.  If you learn the skills and can keep up with the pace, you can play.

Our rec team was visibly better than the other teams in the league, so we moved up a notch to the competitive level. For the past two years, from January to March, we've been playing in that next notch and while we don't win every game and it's a little more competitive, we still play hard. I can't say it's extremely fun, because I'll be honest, some days it's not. Sometimes people take it just a little too seriously for my liking. After all, I am playing for the love of the game, no other reason.

I went the extra step this year and signed up as a "Free agent" for the rec league for the March-May time frame. I was asked to join a team and have been playing every Wednesday night since.house. My team, whom I had never met before our first match, are all really cool down to earth people. We get along well, we teach and help each other, and we have fun. 

Who knew I could talk so much about volleyball, huh? But I really do LOVE. THAT. SPORT.. I'm telling you, I could play year round if I could. In fact, I'm trying too. I am desperately looking for an adult rec league that plays indoors in the summers. So far I have only been able to find sand volleyball leagues, and to that I say "No thank you".

I love it because it's exciting. You never really know where the ball is going to go. I love it because it requires you to speak up, call the ball, yell for help. I love the satisfaction of spiking it, or blocking someone elses' hit. I just love it.

From the little 5th grade girl in her blue St. Hugo Viking volleyball uniform to the 25 year old in sweats and an old tshirt, volleyball is still one of my very favorite things in the world, and has given me many memories.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Up North

You know how in the movie Now and Then, there's a group of four girls that are completely different from one another but somehow remain inseparable? I can relate. Jamie, Lindsay, and Sarah were my three best friends for most of my teen years. I met Jamie and Lindsay in a tree house eating turkey sandwiches, and we became fast friends. I met Sarah a few months later, through Jamie and Lindsay. Sarah and I had an instant, undeniable bond.

Every year for about six or seven years, I took a trip Up North with these three girls. We went to Jamie and Lindsay's dad's cottage in Gaylord, Michigan.  there were a few summers we also went to their mom's cottage in Grayling, or there was the time we went to Traverse City. Once in a while we also made a trek out to Macinack Island. It didn't really matter where we were in the Great Lakes State, we always had fun.

I couldn't wait for Up North weekend to roll around each year. It was always around my birthday weekend, which made it that much more exciting. I was literally growing up with these girls. When we were younger, we'd agree on a CD to pop in the minivan CD player and play it for the whole trip, making up dances in the car and singing at the top of our lungs. It's funny how quickly our music tastes changed. One summer we were all about 98 Degrees and Aaron Cater, the next we matured to John Mayer. Gravity, baby.

When we arrived at the cottage we'd plop our stuff down in our rooms and make our beds. It didn't take us long to get outside. We'd sit at the picnic table looking over Heart Lake or hop in the paddle boat.

Most of our days Up North were spent playing Ponce. Ponce is kind of like solitaire, except you play in a group. It's addicting and intense. We were always laughing hysterically while we played and yelling at each other. We kept score and celebrated when we won. We'd all look at each other after we finished a game, and one of us would ask "again?". Duh.

While we played Ponce we sipped on Orange Pop, ate snacks and watched Nick Gas. That's a station that played old school Nickelodeon shows, including our favorite, Guts. We loved watching all those shows again and holding onto a piece of our childhood.

When it got to be close to dinner time, we'd all take turns in the shower and getting ready for dinner. We had several favorite restaurants up there. One of our favorite places to go was Big Buck, simply because of the cream soda drinks. Or Gobblers, famous for their turkey dishes. We'd all go to dinner, once in a while catch a movie, maybe visit the Elk Farm.  And, of course, we'd go putt putt golfing at least once a trip. Plus, when we arrived back at the cottage for the night we had a bonfire, cuddled up in our hoodies and making s'mores.

I have countless hilarious memories of our trips Up North. Like the time we jumped on someone else's trampoline for just a second before scurrying back into our paddle boat. Or the time our paddle boat broke down and got stuck in the lake, forcing us to swim and push it all the way back. Or when we decided to have a talent show. The events of the weekend shifted a bit as we got older. We started keeping our eyes open for boys, we could drive ourselves around, we wanted to go out on the town.

One of the last times I can remember being Up North is being at Jamie and Lindsay's moms place. At that point, Sarah and I were 20, Lindsay 19 and Jamie 21. We were all in college now, and our lives we clearly starting to take different paths. On one of those nights, Jamie and I went for a drive. She shared things with me she had never said before, about her past and some of her fears. I will never forget that drive, and feeling so silly for never knowing these things about her. How had I just let it slip by me? We ended up at an A&W, and ordered root beer floats, continuing our conversation from the car.

That trip was, honestly, one of the last times I've seen Jamie, Lindsay, and Sarah. Sure we've seen each other over the years here and there, but nothing like what we had before as kids/teenagers. We always say we will, and try to make plans...and it's not that I don't want to see them, it's just we all have totally different lives. I blame myself, I know I can and should have tried harder to keep in touch with them.

I watched Now and Then this past weekend, though. Twice. And the entire time, I was thinking of my friend. Because we were Roberta, Sam, Teeny, and Chrissy, with our own adventures and special summer memories. So girls, if you're reading this, let's create some new ones. I mean it this time.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thirteenth Birthday

For my sister's thirteenth birthday, my dad surprised her by taking her on a trip to Chicago. It waw just the two of them. And get this- they traveled by airplane. It was her first airplane ride, because my mom is terrified of flying. We didn't take too many big trips as kids, just our annual trip to Florida. The Chicago trip was a BIG DEAL.

My dad then continued on the tradition- all three of us got to spend our thirteenth birthday on plane to Chicago, running around the city and then flying back home.

When it was my turn, I was so excited I could hardly sleep the night before. I could not believe I was actually going to get to FLY ON AN AIRPLANE. Nearly all of my friends had flown dozens of times, but not me. I was a little scared, but for the most part I think I was just amazed at how planes worked. The flight only took about 45 minutes, tops. Chicago isn't too far from Detroit, especially when flying the friendly skies.

When we arrived, my dad ushered me through the airport and toward downtown Chicago. We hit up the aquarium, Hard Rock Cafe, Garret's Popcorn, Navy Pier, and this one place that I can't remember, but it was a lot like a Dave and Busters.

But the best, and I mean the BEST part, was the American Girl Place.

I had been an avid American Girl fan most of my childhood. I had a few of the dolls courtesy of my Grandma, read all the books again and again, and had a collection of outfits. I could not WAIT to go to the American Girl Place.

My dad and I first went to the store, and he let me pick out a new outfit for my dolls back at home.  Then we bought tickets for a play in their theatre. I think that the play highlighted each American Girl and told her story. I don't remember. I just remember my dad was the only male in the room. And I was so happy that he was right there next to me as I enjoyed every moment.

It was the best birthday gift I've ever gotten from my parents, and the time I got to spend with my dad was truly special.  I don't know if I realized at the time how lucky I was to get such a cool birthday gift, but I do now. It beats any Sweet Sixteen party they show on MTV these days.

What's the best birthday you've ever had?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Sound of Music

I have been involved with two school productions of the musical The Sound of Music. And both were magical.

The first was when I was in 8th grade. My school was K-8, and the 7th and 8th graders always perform a musical in the spring. I had not participated in 7th grade, so I figured I'd give it a go in 8th. And I landed a part in the nuns chorus. Which basically meant- I wasn't on stage often. But being involved in the musical was the perfect decision.

We had rehearsal often, but what I really remember is the actual week leading up to and the weekend the musical happened. Dress rehearsals were hilarious. A lot of my friends in my class had bigger roles than I did and were called to stage more often. So I hung out with the rest of the nuns chorus- and the guys who played the nazi's. A lot of the girls were in 7th grade, and I called them my "sevies".  We stood together at rehearsals  and off stage laughed hard in the cafeteria, waiting to be called out on stage again. We played a LOT of cards. Spoons, Go Fish, BS, Poker...you name it, we played it. And laughed hysterically the whole time. I mean, tears running down our faces from laughing so hard.

It was also in this production where I met Alex, one of my very best friends. He was a Nazi in the musical and in our group of friends that would play cards. He cracked me up. We didn't become super close, but we definatley shared some laughs and happy memories.

On the final night of our play, we had an after party at Chuck E Cheese. And I stayed with my "Sevies" during this party, running around the place like we were little children.

Those few months distracted me from the realities of leaving my elementary school and moving on to high school. They bonded me with amazing people and gave me plenty of laughs. Plus, I got to wear a habit and sing in Latin. What could be better?

I'll tell you what was even better- the second time The Sound of Music came into my life.

This time, I was a junior in high school and signed up to do stage crew for the spring musical. For several months, I spent four-five hours every Saturday in the auditorium of my high school, building and painting. There were about 15 of us on crew. I looked up to the seniors and learned a whole heck of a lot from them. At the end of each Saturday, we were exhausted. Sore bones and muscles, hands swollen from hammering, and paint covering our clothes. But we had a blast.

Pretty soon we were in the auditorium not just on Saturday's, but after school, to finish the set and practice set changes while the actors rehearsed  It was around this time Alex came back into my life. He was a sophomore at UofD, our brother school, and had a role in The Sound of Music. We started hanging out at rehearsals and soon we were pretty much inseparable.

I also met another best friend of mine during this time- Alicia. In early March, as musical rehearsals were picking up speed, Alex and I went to Soph Semi, a dance at Mercy. We had a really fun time, but I mostly remember meeting Alicia. She was running around the gym with a bunch of balloons. I poked Alex and said "I don't know who that is, but I want to be friends with her". Turned out, Alex knew her from past theatre stuff. So he took me over to meet her and I knew instantly we were going to be best friends.

A few days later, we went out for a "crew lunch"- stage crew, lights crew, makeup and costume crew all went to Ruby Tuesday. I ended up at a table with Alicia, who was on makeup crew. She said something hilarious, and I'll never forget my friend Heather looking up at me and saying "Megan, I think you've met your match".

And I did. Alicia and I had this instant bond that I had never really had with anyone else before. Suddenly she was the person  I was going to for everything. We hung out at rehearsals with Alex and we laughed all the time. I could talk to her about God, my family, my future. I had never had a friend like her before.

The weekend of the musical was one of the most fun, exhausting weekends I can ever remember having.  On the first night, Alicia gave Alex and I each a little poster that said "you're my favorite". Then we discovered she had given that to both of us, and we harassed her about it forever   Alex and I would dance on the side of the stage to "Sixteen Going on Seventeen". Us Stage Crew girls would whisper and giggle throughout the performances. Alicia and I were always goofing around. But we were also working nonstop. Remembering our cues, helping the actors backstage, changing scenes. It was nuts.

After our final performance, we said goodbye to the seniors and had a cast party in our cafeteria. I was very sad that Alicia was going to be graduating. It didn't seem fair that someone who had so quickly become my best friend was going to be leaving in just a few months. I  did take comfort in knowing that I had Alex.

The day after we closed the curtains on Sound Of Music, stage crew met after school to strike the set. What took months of building and painting took just a few hours to tear down. It was morbid, in a way, to just throw away all of those memories.

I didn't participate in stage crew for the musical my senior year. It was my last chance to recreate those memories, and I stood back. I blamed it on time, I was busy with student council and campus ministry. But secretly, it was because I knew nothing would be as good as Sound of Music, and I didn't want to be disappointed. I don't regret it. I have memories of Sound of Music to look back on.

I am forever grateful for the opportunity to be involved in both of these productions. It brought me to my two best friends. To this day, when I hear a song from Sound of Music or catch it on TV, I think of Alex and Alicia. And yes, I am still friends with them. I always will be.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

Guess what? Little ole me, who has been blogging for years but only recently connected with other bloggers, got an award.

Katie at Another Clean Slate honored me with the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. How sweet!

The rules are as follows:

1. Display award logo on blog.
2. Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3. State 7 things about yourself. 
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link back to them. Easy enough!

Seven Things about Megan

1. I have two journals full of songs that I've written. Well, I supposed I should say...lyrics I have written. I cannot write or play music, so right now it's just a whole lot of words. There are 150 of them.
2. I recently cut pop and coffee out of my life. I still drink tea occasionally  but for the most part I am living a caffeine free life and I am feeling so, so much better.
3. A few months ago my sister in law gave me a little stuffed dog to cheer me up. It sits on our coffee table in our living room and has become our "house dog". His name is Ruffles. And I know it sounds silly but I don't ever want to take him off that table. 
4. My mood can almost always improve if it's sunny outside.
5. I am an associate of the Sisters of Mercy and I take my faith life quite seriously. I, mostly, see God in others and in my relationship with others.
6.  I play volleyball in an adult rec league from January through April. I wish I could play year round.
7. I have two roommates who are also two of my best friends. I spend a good amount of time with them, and when I'm not with them, I am hoping that they are okay and that their day is going well. 

My lovely nominees
Please take a moment to check out some of these blogs.

1 My sister in law Sara over at Bread and Butter talks about a gluten free life with tips on thrift shopping. 
2. My sweet friend Elizabeth Roslyn is one of the most positive people I know, and her blog digs into American Idol performances, music reviews, and world events. 
3. The lovely ladies and gents at HelloGiggles keep me sane. It's my absolute favorite website, full of blog enteries from "20 somethings". 
4. Indianapolis radio star, and bff tomy sister in law, Nikki will make you laugh over at Nikki's Holla-Tastic Blog
5. A dear friend of mine, Shari Speaks , has a beautiful way of writing that will touch your heart and have you cheering for her as she works to get published. 
6. Friend, coworker, partner in crime Ashley recently started blogging again at Still Write
7. Lovely gal at My loves, my life has been sharing memories, also, during the A-Z challenge.
8. Feel inspired with life lessons over at Pull Up A Toadstool
9. One of my favorite blogs I've found during the A-Z challenge, Deecoded has a way of writing that makes you feel like you know her.
10. Need as smile? Writing Jewels Has been taking readers through the alphabet and reflecting on happy thoughts.
11. Samantha May is blogging through college and therefore causing me to reflect on the lessons I learned in my four years at WMU. 
12. Uplifiting letters to her chidren on various life lessons can be read over at Daye By Daye
13. Dean P. Simmer is one of my best friends, blogging about his life, Detroit, and faith.
14. Brookie Babble, also known as Brooke White from American Idol, has quite a way with words. I feel inspired every time I read a new entry.
15. JillandKate, my favorite female duo, share their thoughts and songs on JillandKate Blog

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Who didn't love recess? Because my elementary school was K-8, I was able to have recess until I graduated from 8th grade. Many of my neighborhood friends got "cut off" in middle school. I felt sorry for them. Recess was the best part of the school day!

I stayed pretty consistent with my group of friends through elementary school. I don't remember much about recess when we were young, but I imagine it contained a lot of playground time. Except I never went on the swings. They made me sick. I was more of a slide kind of girl. Mostly we just kind of ran around, though. We played tag, hop skotch, and jumped rope. Recess was all about taking a much needed break from learning reading lessons and math problems.

One thing I do remember about my younger years are the "recess weddings".  Everyone had those, right? Two kids in the class would decide they wanted to get married, and we'd all participate. The bride would march across the field and there'd be the groom, anxiously waiting to put Ring Pop on her finger. Or there was that one time a kid stole his mom's ring and tried to use that for his bride-to-be. He totally got in big trouble for that.

Recess started to change when we were in 5th grade. It wasn't really that cool to "play" anymore. So instead we'd lean against the school and talk. The boys would play sports and we'd watch, although some of the braver girls would jump in and play with them.

Middle school took a turn. It was always drama filled. Someone was mad at someone else, someone had their heartbroken, so and so didn't answer the note so and so wrote them in English class. Drama, I tell ya. Looking out on the field you'd see boys running around playing some kind of sport and girls in groups of 5-10, sitting in circles, talking. My crew was always on the lawn when it was nice outside, in our uniforms, pulling grass and chit chatting about the day's events. Rumors flew during recess. Did you hear that Katie kissed Matt? Ew! We were so preoccupied with gossip. It was all we knew.

In 7th grade, I took on a new duty at recess- Kindergarten watch. This was set up so that the kindergarten teachers could eat lunch between the morning class and afternoon class. A group of 7th grade girls would greet the little ones as their parents dropped them off, help them get all their stuff in their cubby, and do an activity with them until the teachers came back. It took up our entire recess period, but was actually quite fun. There wasn't as much drama when you were reading a book to a 5 year old. I loved doing that, and remember being super freaked out in later years when I realized they were old now and going onto high school. Somehow I just thought they'd always stay little.

There came a time in 8th grade when suddenly, we had all these couples in our class. It was weird. It was like they just decided to pair off, out of nowhere. It was hard to keep up with who was "going out" with you. You'd see the couples holding hands walking around the football field, and the rest of us talked about how stupid it was, not wanting to admit that we wanted that too. Although, looking back, it IS pretty stupid.

I actually particularly enjoyed "indoor recess". It was especially fun in 8th grade. Most of my friends were in my homeroom. So indoor recess meant we marched from the cafeteria back up to our homeroom and pulled our desks together. Most of the time, we played cards, spoons being our favorite. Other times we'd write each other notes or do homework. But mostly, we played cards. And we had a blast doing it.

Overall, recess was fun. I wish we had a "recess" at work, although I suppose our lunch hour is our version of recess. We all eat together and try not to talk about work.

Did you have recess? What kinds of things did you do?

Friday, April 19, 2013


Before my post: Boston, I can't stop watching these updates. I sure hope the 2nd suspect is caught, alive, so that we can determine the reasoning behind this attack and if more are coming. So much is involved in this case, it's crazy. I just don't understand why 19 year old kids from Russia would want to hurt us so badly. Lord help us, help us to catch him and put a stop to these attacks. I am praying for the people in Boston. Stay strong. We will find this guy. God's peace be with all of us.

I have only quit a job once in my life. I don't count Avenue because I was a seasonal employee and simply just said "I won't be back next summer". Okay, now that I say that, I guess it counts as quitting. But c'mon. I only worked Christmas break and summer vacations. They were fine without me.

 I came close to having to quit a babysitting job once, but not because it wasn't a great job, only because I had to begin my year of service with Mercy Volunteer Corps and I wouldn't be able to babysit anymore. But I didn't have to have that conversation because the family was changing things anyways and the dad was going to begin working from home. It was a relief for me, and a relief for them that I wasn't too upset.

The job I quit was a part time position working with at risk teens in a residential setting. Without throwing the organization under the bus, let's just say it was rough. I was hired for something totally different than what I actually ended up doing. My job duties included picking up the teens from school, driving them to the "homework house", picking them up from there, and then sitting around while they ate dinner and did their chores. I worked odd hours (3pm-11pm) and worked every Saturday to drive an hour to pick up one of the girls, drive her to ACT tutoring, and drop her back off at home. Basically, I was a driver. Nothing against that, but it's not what I signed up for. While this was happening, the leadership was falling apart. No one was communicating, people were fighting all the time, and we went through three bosses in the few months I worked there. It was rough. And very tough on the kids. I loved those kids, but hated the job. But I told myself to just suck it up and keep working until I found a full time job elsewhere  I was living with my parents at the time, and I had a bit of a safety net...but was trying to save up as much money as possible.

Things were really starting to fall apart at this job, and I could barely stand it. Then,on a Saturday night in January, I was babysitting, as I usually was on weekends those days. I was feeling fine, and then suddenly I was feeling awful. I was shivering, and could not get warm for the life of me. I was pale and my throat was throbbing. I was shaking. I eventually called the parents of the kid I was watching and said "Um yeah can you please come home?". I couldn't even see straight. The dad offered to drive me home and come back to get my car later, but I was stubborn and drove myself home. I burst into my parents house where my mom came to take my temperature. I had a 103 degree fever.

I barely slept that night, so sick that I could barely move or turn over. The next morning, I still had the 103 degree fever. I couldn't break it. I was supposed to work that night, so I called in. I was told, very, very rudely, might I add, that it didn't matter and I had to come in anyways. My dad's response "quit". So I did.

 I rolled over, turned on my laptop, and wrote my resignation letter. I hit send without even thinking twice about it. Had I not been so sick, I'm not sure I would have done it. But I'd had enough. And my dad giving me permission was the only fuel I needed.

Turned out, I had a really bad case of strep throat. I had it for 4 or 5 days, and barely left my bed. My sweet parents were bringing their sick 23 year old daughter medicine, soup, and ginger ale every few hours.

When I finally felt better, I had to return to that job to turn in my keys. The receptionist at our main building asked if I wanted to talk to my supervisor. "No thanks" I said as I handed over my keys. She then gave me my exit paperwork which stated that I was "non rehirable". I simply shook my head and left.

That day I missed work because of my fever was the only time I'd ever been absent, I was always on time, picked up shifts, and even worked 90% of the "Christmas Break" that the rest of the employees got.

In the end, it was the best decision. I learned that things only went downhill after I left, and had I stayed longer I may have had an anxiety attack. But I left, and immediately began regular babysitting jobs for three different families. Finding a real job became my full time job. I was getting paid good money for babysitting and spent any extra time job searching. Eventually I landed a job at a hospice as the volunteer coordinator, and that is where I still am, two years later as of yesterday.

I don't consider myself a quitter. But when you are, again and again, mistreated, it's time to move on and find something better. You must do what you have to do for YOU.

Have you ever quit a job?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Pool Party Tuesday's

Edit: The post about Pool Party Tuesday's was one of the first blogs I wrote ahead of time for the A-Z challenge. Long before the bombing in Boston and the explosion in Texas. Since then our country has endured scary, fearful tragedies and I would just like to make mention that we must stand united through these. My heart is with Texas today as they mourn the losses due to the explosion, and that the injured seek healing. Praying for the medical professionals who will be working hard. And, due to my line of work, I am holding those that were in the collapsed nursing home very very dear to my heart. May God bring peace to all of those affected, and may hearts heal. And may the rest of us step up and do something to help.

And now, for my "p" post.

The summer after my senior year was pretty jam packed. I had graduation parties, softball games, goodbye parties, and, of course, Pool Party Tuesday's.

Pretty self explanatory- every so often, on a Tuesday, we had a pool party at my friend Becky's house.   She was a year younger than I was...and to be honest, at that point, most of my friends were a year younger. I just seemed to fit better with them. I grew apart from a lot of my friends in my class. I still loved them, but it just wasn't the same. Plus, my best friend Alex is a year younger than me and he was pretty close to this group.

Anyways- about one or two Tuesday's a month, we'd haul over to Becky's house. Alex and I almost always drove together- we had our best conversations in those car rides. We'd arrive, hug our friends, change into bathing suits and hop in the pool. there was always a lot of food. People would bring snacks and pop and there would be pizza or sometimes Becky's parents cooked for us. We had the best times at those parties. There was always a little bit of drama, but it wouldn't be a high school party without some drama! Right?

As the nights at Becky's house winded down we'd all change back into real clothes, plop on some couches and chat. They were some of the most comfortable times I've ever had, just being around my friends.They were- and still are- genuinely good people. None of us even thought about drinking or smoking.We were perfectly content just being around each other.

Alex and I would drive home and talk about the night, breaking down the drama and the heartbreak and talking about who we spent time with. Thinking about it now, I hope I realized then how lucky I was to have such good friends and to have a friend like Alex. I wore a smile most of that summer, unless I was crying as I said goodbye to someone.

It was really special for me to be able to spend time with my friends before I left for college. The moments with Alex were especially close to my heart. He was my saving grace in high school, and I was terrified to leave him. So I treasured all of our car rides and adventures that summer. And we had many, many adventures.

The next summer, PPT's continued. I didn't go all the time, but I made an appearance now and again. I was now a college student, and loved seeing my friends that were still in high school. I'd give them advice and they'd listen to my college stories. Every time I left for the night I got a little sad knowing that this wouldn't last forever.

And it didn't. I haven't pulled into Becky's long driveway and ran out of my car to hug my friends in over five years. But I'll never forget those nights, or those people.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Believe it or not, Oprah has brought me a few memories.

I used to come home and watch Oprah with my mom nearly every day after school, especially in middle school. She always took a nap around that time because she was drained from teaching all day. So I'd plop on her floor and we'd watch Oprah together as she rested and drifted in and out of sleep. I loved Oprah and all she did for people, and I loved having some time with my mom.

I had to miss Oprah a lot in high school because of sports practices, but by the time I was a junior and senior I didn't play sports during the year and was able to tune into my favorite talk show. It became a bit of a joke amongst my friends how much I loved Oprah- especially in my senior year.

As snow started to fall around the ground during my senior year of high school, I decided I really wanted to meet Oprah. My friends wanted this too, and we knew we'd have to be creative. So we decided to make a video. And I tell ya, that video was quality. We got several different people involved in this little project- from students to teachers to maintence men. The Mercyaires, a choir group at Mercy, even changed the words to "All I Want For Christmas" by Mariah Carey to "all she wants for Christmas is to meet you" and performed it on the video. Several of my friends did short dedications, talking about why I should get to meet Oprah. Our dean of students, notirious for riding a motorized scooter down the hallways of Mercy, was the final person seen on the video. She just zoomed up to the camera and gave Oprah a stern talking to. We filmed for two or three weeks and had an amazing time doing it.

We mailed the video in December and then we all went off on our Christmas breaks. In January, we went back to school and waited- anxiously. We hadn't heard anything by late January but figured it would take a few months before we would. So in the meantime, we decided to throw a birthday party for Oprah. I'm not kidding.  We took any excuse to throw a party and this seemed like a great idea. So on January 29th all my friends gathered in my basement and we played games, watched movies, laughed, and ate a Costco cake that did, in fact, say Happy Birthday Oprah! on it. We did not mess around. I have pictures from that night somewhere at my parents house. It was a wonderful evening with my friends, and we talked about it for weeks and weeks after.

I never got to meet Oprah. We never even got a response from our video... But we had so much fun doing it that we got over it pretty fast. It was one of my favorite memories from senior year.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Note: I posted a blog late last night about the Boston Marathon tragedies. I am also going to go ahead and post my "n" post for the a-z challenge. Feel free to read the Boston Marathon post here: http://www.m5carolin.blogspot.com/2013/04/boston-marathon.html

When I was 8, I decided that I despretly wanted a bunny for Christmas. I wrote a letter to Santa, dropped hints with my parents, and prayed every night. I was determined to get a little brown and white bunny.

Sure enough, Christmas morning came and there he was. A brown and white bunny in a steel cage, hopping around. In the home video you can hear my dad sarcastically saying "I can't believe Santa actually bought a bunny". Good ole dad may have been hesitant, but I was thrilled. I named the bunny Nibbles, and I immediately picked up the phone to call my grandma. Without taking a breath, I spit out "Hi Grandma it's me Megan I got a bunny he's brown and white and he's little and he's a boy." My mom and sister helped me take him out of the cage and showed me how to hold him. He was precious.

For a few weeks, I was head over heels for the little dude. I was so proud, telling all my friends about my bunny and wanting them to come over to see him. I was holding him, feeding him, even had a little leash for him. He was my pal and I was so happy that my Christmas wish came true.

 But the honeymoon phase did not last long. I started to forget to let him out and then his cage would smell. Then, I'd let him run around my room and I started finding bite marks on my books and dolls clothes, which made me angry. I also don't think I realized how skiddish a bunny would be. I was a nervous child, and having him jump around everywhere made me even more anxious.

One day I came home from school and noticed that Nibbles was gone. My dad gave him away to a repair man that came to our house to fix a leak in our basement. I deserved that-I didn't take my responsibility seriously, and my dad gave Nibbles away to someone who may. I'm sure my little 8 year old heart was crushed, and guilty. But it was also kinda, sorta, funny.

For the next few years we would see a bunny that looked like Nibbles and joke that maybe it was him. And my family exaggerated and tells me it took me WEEKS to discover Nibbles was gone. Nah. Days, maybe, but not weeks. To this day, when I see a rabbit, I think of Nibbles.

I learned a lesson there. Aside from hermit crabs that ended up a hermit crab homicide scene (I'm not kidding, one of my hermit crabs ATE the OTHER HERMIT CRAB), I never had another pet all on my own. After our first golden retriever died, we begged our parents for a second one and we did get him, but he belongs to all of us. He's still around and pretty much the best dog in the entire world.

So Nibbles, wherever you ended up,  I hope you lived a happy little life and that you were taken care of by another little girl. But I'll never forget that moment of excitement when I turned the corner into the family room and saw you for the first time.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon

I am taking a short break from the A-Z challenge to post about the Boston Marathon tragedy.

I know it seems strange. What can a 25 year old from Michigan possibly have to say about such a horrific act of terrorism?

Well. I don't know. But I have to say something, because that's how I operate.

In February 2010 I did a 1/2 marathon. I had trained for it for months and flew down to Florida with two of my good pals to rock that thing. It wasn't easy. I am not a runner, and I am overweight. I didn't ever think I'd be able to do that race. But I did it. And when I crossed the finish line, I immediately saw my friends. They were waiting for me and they were cheering so hard, waiting to hug me. I also saw my cousin Bonny. I hadn't seen her in YEARS, and she made a special trip out to see me- and there she was. I picked her right out of the crowd immediately.

When I first heard about the explosion today I could not help but think of the people like me. People who trained hard and shed tears as they did that marathon, not sure if they'd make it. People who were running to prove to themselves that they could do it. People who had friends waiting on the finish line for them.

That moment I crossed the finish line was one of the proudest moments of my entire life. To think that these people were welcomed not by their loved ones but by an explosion, by blood and screaming, by injuries, by smoke, by death- is just heart wrenching. That's not how it's supposed to be.

People dedicate the race to certain causes. They run for other people. They run in memory of other people. They are running for GOOD. Some are running for GOD. And then this happens.

I will never, ever understand how people can have so much hate in their veins that they find it necessary to try to kill thousands of other people. It terrifies me that they find that the best option.

Families were torn apart today. All across the globe people worried about their loved ones in Boston. Nearly all of us know someone or knows someone who knew someone who was running there today. Or someone who lives there or heck someone who just happened to be there on a business trip. This act fueled fear and heartbreak, tragedy and devastation.

It has to stop.

Hate has to stop.

I don't know how to stop it. I don't know how to tell our young kids that it gets better. I just know how to love. And that is what I am going to do. Continue to show my love and be a loving person. At this point, I think that's all any of us can do.

Stop bullying.
Stop tearing people down.
Stop hating.
Stop using words to destroy.
Stop hiding behind a screen.

Start loving.

This world is far, far too beautiful to let it continue to rot with hatred. Take a stand against hate. Start small.

Dear God,
None of us can begin to understand the tragic events that took place in Boston today. And I know a lot of people are asking where You were. I know that You were there. You were pushing the witnesses to help others. You were that little voice that told people to be strong. You carried people. And while that doesn't completely take away the pain and the hurt, it is a comfort to know that we are not alone. God, send us peace. Help our hearts turn from hate and open to love. Open to show love. Open to accept love. Give us the strength, as a nation, to hold hands and get through this by loving one another. Keep our children safe. They are our hope for the future. May love, comfort, and hope spread amongst the people of Boston and everyone affected by today's tragedy.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Maureen....and Dave.

My sister Maureen is five years older than me. By the time I was old enough to really "play", she was hanging out with her friends, playing sports, and doing homework. Not that we didn't spend time together, because we did, but we didn't spend every waking moment together either.

Mostly, my sister was there for me as a teacher and a role model. I followed her lead. She liked to read, so I started reading at a young age. Maureen played sports, so I played sports. I wanted to be like her.

I remember mostly how many friends Maureen had. She was friends with everyone, and it seemed that she was the person they all went to when they had problems. I remember her being on the phone a lot, but not to gossip or cause trouble, to listen to her friends and dish out advice. And she had friends over often or was out with them. She took her commitments seriously, especially to her sports teams and her schoolwork.

One time, Maureen and her friends came home from a night out. They were in high school and I was in middle school. We thought it'd be hilarious to scare them, so we hid under the table in the dining room while they were putting together a midnight snack. We popped and then laughed hysterically as Maureen and her two friends screeched and jumped.

My sister went off to college to Indiana University when I was going into 8th grade. During our winter break, we went to visit her. My parents, Jonathon and I stayed in a hotel but Jonathon and I each got a night where we got to spend the night at my sisters dorm. We thought that was the coolest thing ever. I had so much fun with my sister and her roommate Meghan. I loved being on a college campus and seeing how happy Maureen was at Indiana.

My most recent favorite memory of Maureen has got to be when she became a mother. I will never ,ever forget the way she announced it. We took a siblings trip to Florida. I drove down with Maureen and her husband Dave. We met up with Jonathon and Sara at one of our favorite restaurants down there. My brother was gung ho on ordering raw oysters. Finally, my sister sweetly says "I can't have any, because it's not good for the baby". We all jumped out of our chairs, screaming. I think I shed a tear. The rest of the trip we talked a lot about the baby and our excitement for the little booger. Once when we were in the ocean, the waves were getting high and Mo wrapped her arms around her tummy and yelled out "MY BABY!", not wanting to hurt the little dude. She gave birth to Ryan Michael on October 30th, 2012, and I tell ya I have never seen her this happy. It's a beautiful thing to watch.

And then there's Dave. Dave and my sister met when they were seniors in high school. They started dating, and continued dating for several years. Sure they broke up a few times, but only for short periods and we all knew that they'd end up together. I've known Dave since I was 13 years old- 1/2 of my life. He's a big part of my life and perfect for Maureen. He makes me laugh and he's a great teacher, too. He loves being around people and can talk to anyone. I have many memories of him since I practically grew up knowing him. I remember once I was begging my parents to give me a ride to a friends party. They couldn't because they were jetting off to Indiana, and my sister had other plans. So Dave drove me and picked me up. Or one time I was about to start softball season and realized my cleats were too small. So it was Dave who drove me to the Sporting Goods store one evening to get a new pair. Dave has protected me through the years- kind of taking on the "brother" role since my brother has been in Indiana. And I couldn't ask for anyone better to step in. People gravitate towards Dave because of his warm personality, and I also find myself spotting for him at family functions because I know he'll ease any anxieties I have.

Maureen and Dave are just two of those really cool people, you know? Everyone loves them. They work hard and love life. They stand up for what they believe in and they try to live life simply. I adore both of them.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Lost Lake Woods

If you've known me for a while, I'm positive you have heard me talk about our family vacations to Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. But there's another little family getaway I want to talk about called Lost Lake Woods.

Lost Lake is located in Northern Michigan...where the "A" on the map below is located. I live in the Detroit area, so as you can see, Lost Lake is north. When people in Michigan say they are going "up north" that means vacation- that means, basically, anywhere north of Bay City. Unless, of course, you are from Bay City, and then "up north" usually means the upper peninsula.

Getting back to the matter at hand. Lost Lake Woods was another vacation spot for us. We went there probably once a summer. Both sets of grandparents had cottages up there, so when we were there, so was most of my family.

We stayed with my moms parents. Their cottage is still one of my favorite places from childhood. It had probably five bedrooms, including a little loft area with a few beds. Plus plenty of couches, so you could sleep a lot of people in their cottage. We always found a way to fit. Their cottage also had a huge wraparound porch, and it backed into the woods. We'd often see deer back there. The cousins would play big games of tag, hide and seek, Frisbee, soccer, and baseball. There were just always people running around, laughing. Our parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents would scatter around, cooking or playing with the kids or just catching up with one another. 

My dad's parents also had a cottage at Lost Lake. I don't remember it quite as well because I was very young the last time I was in there. For some odd reason I think of it as yellow- I am not sure if it was or not. Dad? I do remember the backyard, though. Mostly because my brother and my cousin Ryan would build forts back there. 

I remember riding in the golf cart up and down the dirt road with my Grandpa Jack. I remember celebrating his 80th and 85th birthday up there. I remember one time going for a walk in the woods and getting super, super close to a deer. I remember the beach, and how it had a slide going into the lake. And a playground on the beach. I certainly remember the Lost Lake clubhouse and picnic tables outside, where my family would barbecue and celebrate.

Unfortunately, a lot of my family associate Lost Lake with a bad memory. My cousin Tom committed suicide at a young age in the woods. I was only 1 or 2 years old, so I have absolutely no memory of it, nor does my brother. My sister says she just remember everyone running around. I never knew Tom, but that still sits heavy on my heart. I know this entry just took a turn....I didn't even want to include this in my memory, but I feel like it would be worse to ignore and pretend like nothing bad happened. Because something bad did happen. And if I had been old enough to remember, I don't know that I'd have the strength in me to be able to return to Lost Lake. So I still very much commend my parents and aunts and uncles for being strong, for being honest and telling us about Tom  but also and for allowing us to have sweet memories of Lost Lake.

We have not been up there in years. Since both sets of grandparents have passed none of us own a cottage up at Lost Lake anymore. I do remember that one of the last times we were there, I went on a very long walk through the woods with my dad, some cousins, and possibly my siblings- I don't remember if they were there.   we talked about Tom. I knew it was hard for him to do that, but I appreciated it. Even though I never knew Tom, I will occasionally think of him, and pray that he is at peace now. 

I would love to go back one day just to feel the air again and to really remember all the good times that I shared with my siblings and cousins up there. It holds a very special place in my heart. I am grateful for the times I had at Lost Lake.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Kansas Bound

During Christmas break of my 8th grade year, I went on a trip to Kansas with my aunt. We were going to visit her son, Sean, and daughter in law, Whitney, and their two children Allie and Patrick. Whitney was pregnant again so my aunt went to help out for a week or so, and I went with her. It was one of the first times I ever traveled without my parents, and only my second time flying.

We had a layover, and I can't even remember what city we were in. But I'll never forget what happened. Our flight from mystery location to Kansas was cancelled due to snow. We would have to stay in a hotel for a night and get on a new flight in the morning. I was only 13 and had almost zero traveling experience, so my poor aunt was left to make all the decisions for us. I remember the two of us sitting around the airport with hundreds of other people in the same situation. Everyone looked so angry and crabby, and I was just tired and wanted to get to Kansas. I just followed my aunt throughout the airport as she made phone calls (I don't believe she had a cell phone at this time, but I could be wrong about that) and arrangements for us to stay the night somewhere. I also remember riding a very, very packed shuttle to the hotel.

We didn't have any of our luggage with us. Just the clothes we were wearing and a few items from our carry on bag. So, first of all, we had to sleep in the nude, to try to keep our clothes as clean as possible. I remember her telling me we'd have to get "buck naked" and I thought that was the funniest thing I'd ever heard in my life. Thank God the hotel room had two beds.

Then I started to worry about my contact lenses. I had only recently gotten contacts and was still mastering how to take them out and put them in without poking my eye out. My aunt, a nurse, told me to just put them in little cups of water to keep them wet. I did.

We somehow managed to sleep for a few hours and then started to get ready for the day to catch our new flight. My aunt went first, and I followed. I went to put my contacts in, and one of the cups was gone.

She. drank. my. contact.

We both burst into hysterical laughter. She actually drank my contact  I knew that was something I'd never forget, and I never have.

We eventually did make it to Kansas. We spent our days with my second cousins Allie and Patrick. I slept in the attic and woke up to Allie's bright face every morning as she hopped on my bed to wake me up. Eventually my cousin Katie joined us on the trip, and we shared so many laughs. Once when we were lounging around, Katie started tickling my aunt's foot and my aunt yelled "STOP IT I HAVE GOUT". Katie and I boomed with laughter. Neither of us had heard that word before and it sounded so funny to us. We repeated it again and again throughout the trip. There was also one night where all three of us crowded around the tub as we gave Allie and Patrick a bath. Katie and I were not experienced in bathing small children, so everything was funny to us. I have several pictures from that trip, including Allie and Patrick in the tub. Those two are teenagers now and I'm sure they would be mortified if I shared them. I never really get to see them, or their little brother Jack, but I care for them a lot and will never forget the trip that I spent with them.

On our way back to Detroit we joked about the possibility of having to sleep "buck naked" again. Thankfully, all flights were a okay and we made it back. I remember my dad picking the three of us up from the airport, and just shaking his head when he saw us. We were quite a crew, the three of us, and I believe his first words were "I can't believe you drank a contact".

It was one of those perfect trips that you have as a kid and don't realize how lucky you are to be in that moment. Sure, things went wrong at first and yeah, my aunt drank my contact, but it was an amazing few days that I won't forget.

Have you ever had one of those trips where everything is funny?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jonathon...and Sara.

I wanted to sneak stories of my siblings within my memories, but then I figured...hey, why not just dedicate an entire post to them? So J is for my brother, Jonathon. Watch in a few days for M, for my sister Maureen. And I'll sneak in some little tidbits about my sister in law Sara and brother in law Dave.

Jonathon is two years older than me. As kids, we were inseparable  He was my best friend. We came as a pair. when I was really little, I couldn't quite pronounce his name, so I called him "Jonshin". Now, he's decided to go by Jon, but I still call him by his full name, Jonathon. Thinking about childhood, Jonathon is the first person I think of. He was, after all, by my side through most of it.

 He's lucky I wasn't a total girly girl. Sure I liked dolls and Barbies but I was also into Ghostbusters, X-Men, Power Rangers, and Ninja Turtles. He taught me about all of them and we played with his action figures for hours. We'd also pretend to be them in our backyard. Our backyard was our stage. We could be whoever we wanted to be.

My brother could, and still can, make me laugh harder than anyone I have ever known.  We always went out to breakfast after church-a little family traidtion. One time, I was eating jello, and he said something ridiculous. I spit out the jello and it went flying across the room and landed at another table. I was so embarrassed, but he could not stop laughing. To this day, he finds it hilarious to try to make me laugh while I'm eating or drinking to see if I'll spit it out. Just last April, when we took a sibling trip to Florida, he made me choke on Orange Crush, and he thought it was the funniest thing of the trip.

He is also the mater of impressions  He'd have us all keeled over at the dinner table doing an impression of my  Grandpa or one of our teachers. He loved to make us laugh- you could just see how much joy it brought him. It still does. He will still call me and do impressions or send me a text message of a clown picture because he knows how much I hate them- but he also knows it will make me laugh.

Jonathon also used to love Pro Wrestling, and I'd watch it with him. Soon I was hooked, too, and we closely followed the story lines of characters like The Rock and Kane. It was something we talked about together and enjoyed watching. Eventually we grew out of that little phase.

My brother has an obsession with Notre Dame football and Detroit sports. He was a Red Wings nut- still is, but even more so as kids. He and his friends would have a Stanley Cup game of street hockey- they even constructed their own Stanley Cup Trophy out of tinfoil and water bottles. Now, at his home, he has an entire "man cave" dedicated to his loves of Notre Dame, Detroit Sports...and I won't lie, you'll find some X Men and Ninja Turtle things in there, too.

We were not super close in high school.....we each did our own thing and we probably fought more than we got along. But, when he moved away to college, I was very sad. Jonathon went away to University of Indianapolis and has lived there ever since. He came home for a summer or two, and always came home for the holiday's, but now he is married to a wonderful gal named Sara, and his life is in Indiana. I miss him terribly, but I am so incredibly proud of him. He has a real heart for other people, and still gets great joy out of making people laugh.

Recently, my favorite memory of Jonathon is watching him at his wedding. It was the happiest day of his life and anyone would be able to see that by the look on his face. He was surrounded by people he loved, and people he cared about. Plus he was marrying the girl of his dreams. It was the perfect night.

Sara is one of those people who just gets me. I can give her a simple glance across the room and she will know precisley what I am feeling. She loves crafts, thrift shops and owls. She finds humor in every situation, just like Jonathon does. She likes to listen to people and hear their story. I have loved getting to know her as my sister in law and can truly call her my friend, and one of my best friends. Sara and I had an absolute blast in Florida last year. At one point we went on a walk to collect shells, end wond up running around the sand dunes acting like we were in the Hunger Games. We were laughing and screeching like little kids- so carefree and letting go of all our worries. It was a blast. Sara is fabulous- and one of the first people I go to in a crisis. I trust her to take care of that big brother of mine.

So, Jonathon, thanks for all those memories of childhood and for making me laugh.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


At the beginning of my senior year of college, we were told that we'd have to secure an internship second semester. If all went well, most of us would just be doing our internship and taking one or two classes so that we could focus on our internship.

I worked in college for the Girl Scouts- it was just an hour each day, but I would go to an elementary school and bring the Girl Scouts curriculum to students in 1st-8th grade. They had the option of going to recess or coming to see me. A lot of them came to see me. I loved it.

I wanted to do something similar for my internship second semester, but I was having a difficult time finding a placement. So one night I just took out a booklet I had with all the nonprofit organizations in Kalamazoo and just went down the list, e-mailing directors and asking if there were any internships available.

I eventually interviewed for an internship at the Kalamazoo Child Abuse and Neglect Council. I had no idea what to expect. The interview went perfectly. I learned that there were just two full time paid staff members, a few volunteers, and a board of directors. My supervisor, Mimi, told me that my job duties would vary from recruiting volunteers to making presentations in the community.

I landed the internship and worked at KCAN twice a week. Mimi was right. I did a little bit of everything. She really did me a favor by letting me take the reins and jump into any project that I wanted to do. I sat at our table at health fairs and passed out information on child abuse prevention, I took part in our largest fundraiser, I recruited volunteers for said fundraiser, developed a new campaign, and even traveled to the state capital to speak up about child abuse prevention. It was an eye opening experience. I once again found myself in a situation where I was significantly younger than my coworkers, but was able to step up and accomplish things, much to my surprise.

I know I was very lucky to land such an awesome internship. I'm still grateful for KCAN and for Mimi for all the advice they gave me. I stayed in touch with Mimi up until last year. I learned that she has since stepped down as executive director, and I don't have any personal email for her. But she was a mentor for me, and really helped me to learn what it meant to be passionate about something.

Now I work for a company that takes interns, and one of my roles is to oversee them. I often think about my own experience with my internship and work hard to make sure that the students I work with have just as much of a positive experience that I did. I try to protect them but challenge them. Just like Mimi did for me.