Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I Hate Goodbyes....(This Post Dedicated to Keith)

As stated in my entry below, Keith left the LUC today. He had to leave the program a few weeks early because he is leaving for Germany next week (for another year of service). Today was a sad day. I am really not good with goodbyes. Here are some recent pictures of Keith - rockin' the bass at Andrea's concert last week (oh yeah, I don't know if I have mentioned on here that my housemate Andrea has been playing at a local coffee shop on Wednesday nights this summer, tomorrow won't be the same!) And the other is a rather artistic picture I took almost on accident the other night. I love it.

I decided my theme song for the past year is "Seasons of Love" from Rent. I have listened to it several times today (actually I am listening to it right now) I have truly had a wonderful year and am sad to see it end. We still have three weeks left of the program, but Keith leaving early makes things weird and caused me to feel sentimental earlier. Things won't be the same without a male in the house! I was sad enough when Ben left, but this is harder since Keith was around a lot more and actually a member of the LUC. I consider this past year possibly the best year of my life. College was great, but I guess what they say is not true and I have plenty more "best" years to come! I have been blessed with a wonderful job, church, coworkers, friends, and housemates this past year. I am so glad I decided to do a year of voluntary service and I cannot believe it is coming to an end! This year flew by. I am glad I am sticking around in Louisville to attend grad school so I do not have to say goodbye to everyone that has made this past year a great one. But there are still several goodbyes to come....in addition to my housemates, I am losing some great coworkers and friends. But there will be new friends soon enough and I hope to keep in touch with everyone.

Friday made me feel extremely sentimental about my past year working at Americana. We were supposedly having a staff meeting, but instead it was a "party" for Shavaun and I to celebrate our year of service. Shavaun's Americorp term ends next week and then she will be going to grad school in Nashville. I will miss her greatly. Anyways, we had cake and my coworkers made both of us cry with the nice things they said and the cards they gave. We have really been through a lot this past year and it was definitely a learning experience. They recognized that without us, there would have been no summer program for the kids which is a crazy thought to me. We both received $500 for our efforts (which I was very excited about). Shavaun said this was the best year of her life and it will be hard to find another job and coworkers that measures up to Americana. I agree -which is why I am not leaving! I guess you can say I found my calling there, which is why I am now going to school in social work. And Americana is the main reason I decided to stay in Louisville for it. I am glad I will be staying there at least another year, if not more!

One more thing I don't think I have mentioned on here - this is no Louisville Urban Corps next year! This was only the second year of the program and they had trouble getting applicants. It is rather sad. They will be doing a year of "restructuring" and try for the next year I guess, if possible. I was looking forward to meeting the new group, but there will be none. Well I had a great experience with the LUC and hope that it starts back up again someday. I still have three more weeks of it to enjoy (minus Keith) and before I know it I will be in school. Classes start August 21. Yikes!!

Busy Week

I just reread my last entry which said I was going to start studying for my online stats class, which I have yet to do at all. Last week and this past weekend flew by, with stuff going on every night. Here is a brief recap:
*Took some Americana kids (16 to be exact) to a Louisville Bats game one evening because we got free tickets (along with free hot dogs, which was good for everyone except the Muslim kids). I think they had a good time and enjoyed the chance to go on a field trip. I did not see one second of the game. And here is a really cool picture from that night (I think the cotton candy gives it an interesting effect)
*Saw Pirates of the Carribean 2 - dumb as I expected, but highly entertaining
*The LUC gave a few "performances" of what we put together for Paoli Mennonite about living in community. There was a slight glitch one night, but other than that, all was well :)
*Friday night we had a "going away" party which included lots of cake and good company
*Saturday was my last day with Cameron (the autistic kid I have been working with for about six months now). I decided it would be too much of a commitment while in grad school full-time and working part-time, even though it is just once a week on the weekends. But that is 3 hours I could be doing something else such as grocery shopping, sleeping, or having a social life. The mom was real nice about it though and said if I ever have time to give her a call. I did enjoy it, so maybe I will continue to work with him every once and awhile. Talk about a flexible schedule!
*Chad came to visit Saturday and Sunday. This makes his third time to Louisville! (does that inspire anyone who has yet to visit?) The main reason of his visit was to say goodbye to Keith
*Sunday we all made it up to Paoli because Keith decided to become a Mennonite! He gave the "sermon" which I enjoyed. And as always we were invited for lunch where we were fed too much food and got to enjoy some time in the woods. Sunday evening was a surprise party for Chiayim's 16th birthday (someone from our church). I must say it was the most well thought out surprise party I have ever attended and I believe he was truly surprised.
*Yesterday we were able to take the kids to the pool for the summer program which they were thrilled about. They used to go three times a week in past summers. We only got to take them once. And boy were they crazy. But it was fun. And I was thrown in the pool with my clothes on by a few boys. (luckily I was smart enough to wear my bathingsuit under my clothes)
*Last night was the final evening with all six of the LUC. We went out to eat at the first restaurant we all ate at during orientation. Awwww...So yeah, Keith left this afternoon. He had to leave the program early because he will be leaving for Germany this coming Monday for another year of service with the InterMenno program. The rest of us still have three weeks left, but it will be weird without him.....I think I will do a separate post now to split things up.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Muhammad Ali is my hero

We had the opportunity to take a few of the older kids to the new Muhammad Ali Center today, at absolutely no cost to us. It was a small, manageable group and I am amazed at how well they behaved (they never listen to me that well!). It was a good time. I even learned something. And it was a nice place. What an awesome guy he is (and he is from Louisville by the way, if you aren't aware). I think the kids learned some too, but I am pretty sure their favorite part was getting to try out some "boxing" of their own, as seen in the picture.

One sad story from today. As part of the visit, they showed us a movie about Muhammad Ali (in a theatre with a very big screen). During the movie there were a few clips from the Vietnam War while they were discussing his refusal to fight in it (go Muhammad!) Anyways, there was a one second clip of a bomb in this short film and the kid sitting next to me started freaking out. He put his head in his lap and said "I can't look at this!" And then he started sobbing. There were tears flowing and sniffles throughout the rest of the movie. I started crying myself. I wasn't sure how to comfort him. I can't imagine what he has been through and what memories this split second clip of a bomb triggered for this nine year old boy. I am pretty sure he is from the Congo, or possibly Liberia (I should know this by now) I have been working at Americana almost a year, and this is the first time I experienced something quite like this and so personal. It made me realize how lucky I have had it my whole life and gave me a deeper respect for these kids and their families.

Nothing much to report from the weekend. It was the first weekend in awhile that I had nothing planned and was able to get some rest and get some things done that were needed. I could have gone camping, but decided against it. My biggest accomplishment of the weeekend was completing an online course in about two and a half hours! There are three prerequisites that I have to finish by the end of my first semester of grad school. They offer them all online (pass/fail) and I just registered for them. I sat down on Saturday to start the course "Human Biology for Social Workers." All I have to do to for these courses is pass the final test (70 or above). I got a 74 on the practice test before looking at anything. I figured I should study a little since the final test was longer and more difficult. So in about an hour I skimmed through all the study aids and all the chapters in the entire book. Then I took the test and just made it with a 72! Two more questions wrong and I would have failed. My next two courses should be a little more difficult: statistics (which I have never had!) and research methods. I looked at the first question of the stats practice test and didn't understand it at all, so I will need to study a bit for this one. Maybe I will start tonight if I feel up to it. My goal is to get them done before I actually start real classes.

Oh yeah, one thing I did do this weekend. After church Alisa and I headed to the track all day. I hadn't been there since the Derby and boy was it different than that crazy day. For one, it only cost $2 to get in and you can actually sit in the seats! (and thank God because it was HOT outside) We stayed there for all 11 races and bet on each one. I ended up losing about $16 - oh well! I put about $40 down. I was breaking even at first, and then just wasn't picking the right horses at the end. Betting on horses is fun! However something I can't make a habit of (obviously). It was the last day the track was open for the summer.
Suzanna - I picked one horse simply because it had "Seattle" in their name. My logic was: "Suzanna lives in Seattle, and she just got engaged, so she is lucky and therefore this horse must be lucky as well." And it won!!

And can I just say IT IS SO HOT UP IN HERE!!! And there is a heat advisory outside. No good.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Wonderful trip to PA

After having a week long vacation at the beach, then a four day holiday weekend, and working two days, I went on another mini-vacation to exotic Pennsylvania! Bridget and I made the trip together from Columbus. Chad and Joel were also there (Joel all the way from Iowa!) And Abby Mo flew in from St. Louis (unfortunately her plane was delayed so she arrived Sunday instead of Saturday). I was so glad to get the chance to see Rebekah while she is briefly at home, before her return to Bangladesh (which I learned is pronounced BONGladesh). We had a great time and it was so nice to see everyone! Those who weren't there were missed. It's hard to believe it had been a year since I have seen Rebekah - this year has flown by. And in case you are wondering - she's still our same old Reba! Bangladesh hasn't changed her too much :) And Reba - I miss you already! See you next year? Some highlights of our time together: the Wingert's hospitality and cooking (we were fed very, very well), hiking, putt-putt, Abby putting her chiropractic knowledge to the test and giving us some adjustments (oh my goodness my back cracked so loud), Hindi movies (Neal and Nikki!), and of course simply enjoying eachother's company. It was a great trip and a nice break from work (again!). I came back late Monday night and again thrown back into work. Today I didn't even have time to eat lunch. But things should be ten times less stressful next week when Louise returns from Africa. Can't wait for that. But things are going pretty well there. The house is pretty quite this week because there are only three of us in town. I can't wait until we are all back because the program ends in less than a month now and I won't be seeing these people daily anymore (except Alisa of course). I'll miss them. I can't believe this year is ending.

One more thing that has been a stress for me lately: the ridiculous cost of healthcare. I was kicked off my dad insurance when I turned 23 at the end of May. I have insurance with the program, but it is crap. Doesn't really pay for anything. And unfortunately I am a person who gets sick and has to go to the doctor and get medicine. Singulair: $92. Antibiotics: $65. One doctor's visit: $83. Just for some examples. Ridiculous. This is the one money thing that really stresses me out because I can't control how often I get sick (which unfortunately seems to happen often). And I am about to start grad school and just took out my first loan. Scary! (and yes I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have no loans from college). Ok the end.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Community Garden

Here is a picture I took of our community garden the other night. I really like it, so I thought I would share. It is doing pretty well for its first few months of existence I must say (and without the staff to take care of it!) We went out to water our plot as the sun was setting, and decided to water everyone else's as well since the community center is closed for the long holiday weekend.

Blast from the Past

I stumbled across the CD of all the files that were on my old computer yesterday and found this picture on there. Good times! Doesn't this seem like forever ago? Just thought I would share it with you all! We should have won that costume contest!

I want to go back to the beach....

I had a lovely and relaxing vacation with my family. We actually took a year off from Hilton Head and went to the Smoky Mountains last year, so it was nice to return to the beach. I love the beach. I want to go back. I love this picture that I took of my sister. And I managed to get a pretty good tan, which you can see in the other pic. My days were spent laying out and swimming at the beach and pool, shopping, eating out, reading, bike riding, putt-putt golfing, and watching TLC. Who could ask for anything more? It was a good time. I enjoyed spending a week with my family and not working!

I returned to Louisville Saturday evening and didn't have to work Monday or today (obviously). How wonderful it is to come back from vacation just to get a four day weekend! And then I only have to work two days until I get another four day weekend! I took Friday and Monday off to make the trip to Pennsylvania to see Rebekah who is home briefly from Bangladesh. I can't wait to see her and everyone else who is making the trip. I wish everyone could come!

So it is really hot here. I guess I shouldn't complain too much because I am not in Bangladesh or Vietnam or somewhere like that. But it is still hot. And our air conditioning doesn't really work at all. Which is good for the environment...but makes for a very hot, sticky apartment. And there is no beach here. My housemates and I had to get out of the heat yesterday, so we discovered a public pool close to us that we can enter for only $2. Amazingly it was not crowded, but it was very, very dirty. However, it was refreshing and I can contiune my tan there, so I think I will be returning there often during the summer despite the ganky water. Ah, public pools.

I went to my first flea market Sunday. Alisa and I had thoughts of getting stuff for our new apartment. Instead I spent way too much money on DVDs. I now have five new movies and a season of Buffy. But they were so cheap! I guess that counts as entertainment for our new apartment.....I found the complete second season of Buffy for only $20!! (compared to the usual $50). So I convinced myself it was worth it. Right??

I hope everyone has a good holiday. We are heading to a barbeque soon and then maybe downtown to the fireworks at the riverfront if it is not storming. (hallelujah for the rain though - we needed it!)