when fun breaks open like a piñata

By Saturday at 9 pm, the streets of Ames still lingered with the day's cardinal and gold victory. A fall chill had crept up after the sun hid itself away behind the horizon and the night was ...

the night was a piñata of possibility.

The coffee brewed with promise as we made plans huddled together like elementary children conspiring a make believe world takeover on the playground. After we'd quibbled about layers and assembled our ragamuffin band, we lined up to break the piñata of possibility and scrambled to enjoy all the fun spilling out.

How many mo-ped gangs do you know that follow the blaring, ride-worthy music of a DeWalt stereo bungee-strapped to one of its riders? How many mo-ped gangs do you know that get high fives driving through campus and hollers as they go down the highway? How many, uh, mo-ped gangs do you know?

Sure, my headlight was actually a flashlight taped to my handlebars and James pedaled several times around the block to get his mo-ped started. Sure, we all felt the fumes of the vintage bikes and made frequent stops to regroup and collect the stragglers who couldn't accelerate enough to keep up. Sure, there were several Chinese fire drills at stoplights and shenanigans on straightaways. Sure, we pulled in to the gas station and $8.00 topped us all off.

The Mighty Unicorn gang rides the streets with orange caution flags waving proudly, picking up all the fun the nights can hold.

And by 2:00 am, every possible piece had been savored.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

the blessing of misadventure

We had big plans. The Fleur Cinema in Des Moines is about as big as plans can get on a hot Thursday night in central Iowa. Wes Anderson's new film Moonrise Kingdom would have been a treat in any theatre, but The Fleur kicks up the classy and adds the right amount of hip.

But, we never made it there. Eddie (my 2002 Honda Civic) had other plans that involved us not being stranded on Interstate 35. On the way out of town, in the middle of our build-up-this-weeknight-like-it's-the-weekend excitement, Eddie became averse to third gear. No matter how hard I punched my foot to the floorboard, he wouldn't budge past 27 mph.

I instantly imagine two things: this Thursday will not be spent at the Fleur and an Ames mechanic will quickly become my new best friend.

As you know by now, these things don't surprise me, but I felt terrible for my friends who may not experience series' of unfortunate events on a regular basis. They were like a pair of peaches, though, as we coaxed little Eddie along the backroads, up a gentle slope and over to the dead end on Oak Street where I counted at least four repair shops within two blocks.

I was breathing thanks to God for all the little things - all those almost disasters that we avoided.

We walked in the direction of our houses and then parted ways on 9th street, where I promptly called my brother who began diagnosing my car by the sounds I described (like a regular episode on Car Talk). He had it pegged as electrical or alternator-related in about 10 minutes, right as I saw my two girl friends pull up alongside me. They waved me into their car for some car trouble therapy and we filled the night with laughter.

Oh, how I love this strange series of events. Life doesn't skip a beat. I just jump out of one current and into another. I might flail a bit at the change of course, but nothing is ever as disagreeable as it could have been, if things had worked out differently.

it was 1994

"... and then you put your legs up like this and be careful because my legs will swing around really fast. Now, put your knees up, balance, and jump."

I was transported to my nine-year-old self in the middle of this manic Monday as Meredith swung upside down from the metal bar on the swing set. She took the tone of teacher as she swung with the seriousness of a backyard gold medalist.

I know that seriousness well. My grandpa knew it, too. My birthday gift was unlike any other 9-year-old I knew. It wouldn't fit inside a gift bag and you can't find one at a store. It was a custom-made, hand-crafted balance beam with a limited edition, special carpet cover.

It was beautiful and it sat in our backyard where I was Dominique Moceanu or Kerri Strug on summer afternoons. My performance always decided whether we got the gold or the silver medal. The air hung thick with pressure (and good Iowa summer heat) and the beam was more than inches off the grass. It felt like miles.

I positioned my socked toe in front and stretched my arms up high (everyone knew the judges gave points for style and I never wanted to lose any - that was the easy part). I twirled, jumped, steadied, and then positioned myself for the dismount. The dismount decided everything - everyone knew that, even my dad. The question would pound in my head through the whole backyard routine, "Can I stick the dismount?"

I would back up to the very edge of the beam and then start my swirling combination toward the other end, where I would flip end over end (in my mind) and always land with two feet nestled into the Iowa grass.

My arms would erupt from my sides and I would proudly stick out my chest, acknowledging the audience of trees and cattle and cats on all sides.

It was 1994 and I just clenched the victory with that landing in my stocking feet. And it felt good.

my car smells like a freshly showered man

I originally ventured into the automotive section at Walmart because my grandpa told me that a product called, "automotive goop" would remedy the flappy piece of fabric hanging from the door of my car. Of course, he told me to go to O'Reilly's, but I didn't have anything else to pick up at an Auto Parts store, so I opted to make it one of many things I could accomplish in one place (ever the efficient go-getter). Somehow, after wandering the aisles for several minutes and not finding this "goop" product (and, frankly, questioning the existence of such a product), I came to a familiar conclusion: my time in the automotive section would not be wasted. And that's when I saw the air fresheners. I've actually been meaning to pick up air freshener for my car (I had a little episode with ham and bean soup and another with coffee), but it was never at the top of my list.

The number of scents was overwhelming: fresh linen, citrus sunshine, new car scent, alpine meadow, summer breeze. I got impatient and went with "titanium rain." I thought - who could go wrong with rain scent? I love rain!

Well, turns out, they should have called it, "a mix between old spice and irish spring that smells like a freshly showered man."

The thriftress in me refuses to choose another scent and waste $2.53, so it'll just be another thing that brings out the gauche in me. Just so you know, if you see me driving eddie (my little honda) wafting in the fresh air with all the windows down, it's to balance out the smell of a freshly showered man inside my car.

Come on and laugh with me, will you?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

And if you're wondering, I ended up finding the "goop" product at Hobby Lobby when I was looking for something else and have since handy-manned that flappy fabric problem like a pro. 

barbaric yawps and eating the rain

  I don't have to grow out of this, right?

The wind whipped my face and wetness brushed my cheeks. I breathed hard, pushing through the generous bowl of soup I had for lunch. I could feel my braid stick to my neck under my stocking hat. My feet pounded the pavement, but my eyes drifted toward the sky.

Have you ever seen Dead Poets Society? It's brilliant. It's where I learned about the barbaric yawp.


And I suppose that is what started the guttural sound in mid-run today. It might have been what led me, with the train on my left and the university campus on my right, to then let out a "Yawp!"

I ran a few more steps and then tried it out again, but this time louder, "Yawwwwwp!"

I giggled and ran and then tried to eat the rain.

I don't know if I'll ever make sophisticated sense with my clothing style or my office banter, but I do know this: I don't mind looking at the world like a child. I want to see wonder at the wind and delight in drops of rain. I want to stretch out my arms and "yawp!" because I am alive.

Every breath is precious.

I'm off to let LOVE fly like cRaZy at job #2


Occupy Life: copy shop and pancake batter

This is another in a series of posts called Occupy Life. Each day you and I occupy physical time and space and we make our statement big and bold, whether we've got picket signs or not. Read here or here or here or here or the original post here for more. "And this machine - whoa. I gotta take a minute." Pause to breathe, "This machine is so amazing. It could probably cut through... a whole body (which would never happen because this protective plastic part has to be down). Seriously." Ryan stares at me, midway through my "training" at the copy shop, so that the magnificence of this cutting machine sinks in. "Yeah?" "It's just that, well, I think this is my favorite machine in this whole place." Pause. "Look at this huge stack of cardstock... we're gonna cut it." Pause for effect, "Are you ready?" Pause, "Oh, this is so great!" He pushes green buttons, the guide moves, then the blade, and then ... slice. "Ah! Wasn't that amazing? Whew! I could like go run laps that was such a rush!"

Meet my new friend and co-worker Ryan. A more delightful first day of training I have never had - his excitment oozed about everything from invoices to the newest printer - the 9000. I was immediately swept up into the banter and decided that we would be friends.

I typed my last email at my first job at about 2:55, rushed to pick up the obligatory black polo shirt for my second job at the copy shop and in between let the dog out for a quick romp, cleaned up the kitchen, and grabbed an apple for the road. Always moving, always learning, and always occupying this space called life.

As I was learning my way around the computer stations and printers, my friendly new co-workers shook off any first day nerves I had. And, I'm going to be honest, Ryan gave my awkward identity a run for its money. I'm not sure how this works, but awkward fits really well for him. I didn't think his excitement about the cutting machine weird at all - instead, I kept trying to find reasons why he might need to show me again.

At one point, during the the explanation of all the paper types, he stepped up onto a cardboard box. From his perch, he continued without pause until I said, "Um, are you on your own little platform, there?" "Yeah, I kind of like it."

And that was that. I didn't mind.

When Ryan thought I'd had enough training, I left for the night. I didn't need to turn on the radio on the way home, I was still amused by the copy shop goings-on when I pulled into the driveway.

Then, round 3 of amusement began. My cousin Vince is always ready to hash out philosophy or politics or religion - pretty much all the topics that people are supposed to stay away from we hit head on. And I love it.

Tonight, we tackled the Christian message of "don't," country music, and pancake batter, amongst other things. The pancake batter is for tomorrow morning, but he thought we'd pull out Aunt Shirley's recipe and save some morning rush. Well, turns out our approach to conversation is like our approach to cooking: completely different. Vince is super methodical and I'm a loose canon. I under-melted the butter and only partially measured the baking powder. Every time I turned around he was gesturing wildly and sighing about my lack of precision. "There are recipes for a reason, Caroline." Well, I'm not saying that any of my recipes can ever be replicated, but just to test things out I suggested we make a pancake tonight (chunky butter and mysterious baking powder and all). It worked. I could be making it up, but I think Vince even said with an approving nod, "It's good."

Today happened, every minute of it. I wouldn't subtract a moment and that's good because, well, I can't.

I'm occupying life.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

the farmer comedian

I must preface this by saying I ran this post idea by Eeyore and all I got was a grunt... and then he said to Partner, "We're pretty serious 'round here all the time."

view from the tractor

So, I've got this theory (inspired by Eeyore's wife actually) that farmers would make good comedians. Sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally, they'll surprise you with their wit and woefully dry humor. There is a catch, however. The conditions have to be just perfect. You can't throw a farmer on a stage and expect him to be funny... no, you've got to have the perfect set-up and it goes something like this:

They will definitely need to be wired in by radio - farmers aren't necessarily the most approachable comedians when it comes to appearance, but when you give 'em a radio they churn out the real charm. From the seat of a combine or tractor (the 20 ft. view, some say), the world makes sense. Things are divided into rows and bushels and pounds and yields, so the mind can wander into those clever little things that don't make sense at all. From that little throne in the little glass cab, the world is his soybean (and those are pretty glamorous right now, aren't they?).

It's not just a radio you need (if you're thinking you could secretly tap a farmer's radio and air it during prime time to make a buck). No, you need time... like hours. You see, part of the farmer's charm (Eeyore's anyway) is that there's no rush. When he climbs the steps to his throne in the morning, he knows he'll be ruling all day long. So, he strings out his material... across about 8 hours. A joke here, a sarcastic remark there... it's good for the same reason a birthday is good - you wait and anticipate and then celebrate because it doesn't come around too often. If we're talking rain (as all farmers do), then it's more like a drip-drop then a flash flood.

There's something else you must know. When the humor does come, you can expect a 3-5 exchange. That's a little phrase I've coined to explain the back and forth on the walkie-talkie. When I'm filling up the air in my glass cab with belted choruses and ideas for inventions (has anyone ever thought to use the innermost part of the corn cob as styrofoam?)... Eeyore is preparing his next one-liner and it goes something like this (a recent conversation about our college rival):

Eeyore: See, now they're startin' the game early on Saturday, so's them Hawkeyes can get to drinkin' earlier. Me: Really? You're just being mean ... Maybe I should go up there and teach the students something about healthy lifestyles... Eeyore: Well, I don't know that it'd make much difference. Me: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. Eeyore: Well, with them I think it's the other way 'round.

I'll admit, it took me until I was driving home to make sense of this clever turn of phrase... and then I had the AHA face right there by myself in my car, "Oooooh! I get it!"

You see how he did that? He lured me in with something interesting and a bit vague, drew out a comment or two, and then went in for the slam-BANG finish. Impressive, folks. That's what that is. But, back to my point... it's the 3-5 exchange and then silence. No explanation, no resolution, just silence. If I'm in eyeshot of Eeyore, I'll see him slowly put the walkie-talkie back in its place and concentrate on the rows ahead. This is key. He'll be funny again when he's ready, but not before.

I still haven't figured out how to make any money off this discovery. Eeyore is always bothering me to make money off my ideas, like this blog. He and Partner think they should be getting paid royalties because I'm using their stories. I said I didn't use their real names. "E'rbody knows," he says (I'll just let him think that this blog has that kind of reach). I told him I don't get any money from the blog.

He thinks I should get sponsors so that I'm getting paid for the time I put in (you know, a ROI). I told him money doesn't make any sense to me and I don't care much for it. He said I better find someone who cares a little.

One thing I do know, jokes aside, when that auger swings out over the empty rows of corn, I better be ready with that grain cart.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

give yourself away

Today was a day that made living "a la orden" (see also here and here) a beautiful, precious gift! I sang a few songs at an all-school assembly this morning and then picked up a trumpet for a third. The band teacher, Dave, is pretty good about affirming gifts in other people... and when he found out I could play trumpet a few years ago, he hasn't let me forget it's a gift I should be sharing. And I can say I'm glad he hasn't! Then I had several conversations in my office where I said several times, "I'm going to be honest, okay?" and I just got down to the nitty gritty and it was completely received on the other end. Lately, I've been asking for recommendation letters from colleagues and several of them mentioned my abilities to meet students where they are. With that kind of affirmation, I've got to make it available... and when I do, it's like EVERYBODY wins! I'm using my gifts (God-given), students are getting blessed, and God is getting the glory!

So then, there's this other ability people have pointed out called "you're crazy!" ..... Don't laugh! I really do think it's a gift!! I get SO much energy when people revel in joy. It's CONTAGIOUS. Anyway, people call it different things, "ability to relate," "crazy," "energetic," "young" ... and, well, I've got to use that gift to the glory of the Lord, right? Because it's only him that's allowed me to be so willing (at the cost of awkwardness and embarrassment) to go all out in search of joy! Tonight we did just that. Our plans changed a zillion times, but the mission trip kids (after riding down the mountain in the back of a truck) ended up in the mall doing a scavenger hunt of my devising. We arrived out of breath and sweaty at our final destination with hilarious stories and pictures to share.

I LOVE IT. I seriously LOVE being available and not because I feel so important, but because I know anything good in me is the Lord. Anything I have worth sharing is the Lord's ... I am not my own! And when I share the gifts He's given, I receive SUCH JOY and blessing to see Him at work!

Today is a day for rejoicing! In terms of routine and calendar, we were a bit early to be blaring "Because He Lives" from our trumpets this morning at the all-school assembly. But in terms of the Truth of Christ's power over the grave we were every bit right on time. I love to proclaim with my whole heart God's victory over the grave because it is my victory as well. I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ ... so I will be joyful in victory and joyfully available to share my gifts so that His victory over the grave might be boldly proclaimed! It's truly more blessed to give yourself away.

Today marks the beginning of Semana Santa and I can't wait to see what other joys the Lord has in store!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy!

Several of my students have a new "favorite" song and I am equally joyful at its truth as I am at their excitement about it! It's a perfect preparation for this week:


Patrick Swayze SPOTTED

I started writing this post a couple hours ago... on a treadmill at the gym (in my mind). I entered the hallway (ahem, I mean gym) like I usually do - with my eyes anywhere but making contact with my late-night workout comrades. With my sneaky, gym-trained eye, I recognized the slow-moving man on the newly installed elliptical and noticed a new face on the bike. I climbed on the treadmill and set my eyes firmly on the serious twin staring back at me in the mirror as I pumped up the workout jams in my Ipod. I pushed some buttons and then focused my gaze on four miles and a painful finish line. That's when I realized something strange was happening on the next treadmill. First of all (from what I could gather in a few "where's-that-clock-in-here?" glances), he had a snazzy looking dri-fit shirt tucked in at his trim waist to long, black workout pants. He, too, was looking at the mirror, but it was as a movie star would make eyes at himself and say, "Looking good!"

That's not the strange part.

As I kept rhythm with Trevor Davis and Passion Pit, pounding that stationary track, his movements kept pulling my attention away from my steady beat. I started to catalogue these movements as he repeated them... and then I started to get jealous because his workout was DEFINITELY beating my workout on the creativity scale.

Then I realized two things: 1. This guy was not young, but he possessed the same in-shape charm Patrick Swayze (rest in peace) mysteriously mastered for oh-so-long. He managed movements that looked more like a game than the regular tire of a treadmill. With little effort, he seemed to work every muscle group and keep it real with his movie star face. 2.  I should take notes.

I kept a straight face, but it was super hard. I just kept to my boring, serious routine... all the while sneaking glances at his different moves. At two miles, I thought I'd seen all he had, but at 4 miles I had to pause Enrique Iglesias and run to the bathroom... where I grabbed a scrap of paper and a pen (providentially stashed away in my purse) and jotted down everything I could remember. So, here are the mostly technical names for Honduran Patrick Swayze's treadmill workout moves.

  • the Hitch - This move was subtle - I felt like I could hear Will Smith saying, "Keep it right here" because his shoulders had the slightest sway and I swear his hips were moving. He wasn't really walking or jogging, because it was more about his arms.
  • bounce-bench - This move had two variations. The first he was kind of speed walking/bouncing while doing kind of a push-up on the bar in front of him. The second he had his hands on the side bars for more push-ups.
  • hop-SKIP-kick - This is the initial move that sold me before I saw anything else. This move looked like the dance floor at a wedding feast. So, it was basically just as I've named it - a hop, then a skip with the opposite foot, then a kick with the other foot. If it sounds complicated, it certainly is... and I loved it!
  • air runner - This was like watching a runner in slow motion. Using the side handles, he would make long strides and jump into the air.
  • push it push it - There is a reason I added another "push it" for the name of this move. He put the work level way down on the treadmill, but then he got into a stance like he was pushing a broken car down the road.
  • side sweeper - This was one of the surprise moves toward the end of my four miles. He started to swing from left to right while also managing a syncopated rhythm with his feet.
  • the boxer - This move definitely required the movie star stare in the mirror as well as some well-placed jabs in the air and the shuffle of his feet, alternating at times to run sideways.

I honestly don't know how any human being could make a treadmill do what I just saw tonight. And that is why I am convinced this Honduran Patrick Swayze was an angel - a fitness angel that came to spice up my workouts. I credit my mom for my restraint, because I wanted so badly to ask about his techniques.

When he left, the slow-moving man was still plodding along and I didn't have enough gumption to try anything in front of people. When he finally left, I tried out a few of my own, which I've called "ska run" and "ballet toes."

Thank you, Patrick Swayze's Honduran angel... my workouts will never be the same!!

with a wink and a smile

I'm not sure why, but this song was playing in my head as I sat down to write today. I just lunched on my version of a Honduran staple - baleadas (substitute wheat tortilla, take out salty cheese, add salsa) - and now I sit helplessly waiting to hear back from students who are probably sleeping and completely unaware that my afternoon plans somewhat hinge on their replies. In the meanwhile, I want to bring you up-to-date on some of the happenings here. In my typical, completely disconnected fashion, I'm giving it to you straight today about baking, meanings of words, and a strange desire to start a movement.

LovE CakE!

I'm still marinating on this idea of baking and sweetness and life and tasting ... yesterday was the last day of chapel and I spent the morning hours (prior to 6:30 departure) baking up some serious pumpkin gobs with butter/cream cheese frosting. A week of creative treats for the seniors who bring their Bibles to chapel almost wore me right out, but there is a beautiful, redeeming quality to what some women painfully label a chore.

This redeeming quality to laboring in the kitchen is not the look on people's faces when they eat your hard-won creation (though I've found I often make them eat it in front of me so I can see a reaction) nor is it the exclamations of delight and the serious battle for second helpings. The redeeming quality is an empty tupperware at the end of the day.

I (quite haphazardly) stumble onto the school bus in the morning in professional garb, toting a backpack and the familiar tupperware container with secret treats. By the time I get to school, I usually have frosting or chocolate or some unknown ingredient stuck to some inconvenient place. But, back to redeeming qualities...

The tupperware goes out from the house full and comes back empty. Every single one of the little, labored-over creations has found its place and that knowledge only finds me right back in the kitchen to make it happen again. What joy! Check out this video that my friend Kasey Miller (who, by the way, is one of my favorite inspirations in the kitchen!!) shared... this will make you want to LOVE CAKE too!


gracia and gracias

So, my word study on "pan" and "paneh" might have failed, but I'm very interested in the connection between the Spanish words, "Gracias" (thank you) and "gracia" (grace) and I think this will lead to something more conclusive. Both words are derived from the Latin root "gratus," which means "beloved," "agreeable," "favorable," and "pleasing."

I was originally interested because at the Micah Project sometimes we just spend time in prayer thanking God for His character. Many times, this will come up, "Señor, gracias por tu gracia!" Maybe no one else takes notice or thinks it odd, but whenever I hear that, I wonder about the strange and beautiful connection between gratitude and grace. When we say thank you, we are responding to an action or a gift or something we have received. Gratitude is what happens (or should happen) after receiving something good. We feel strange accepting a gift or complement without giving something back, so we express our gratitude by saying, "Thank you."

Here is where I get really interested... why do we use almost the exact same word to describe unmerited favor? The Miriam-Webster dictionary (and many Christians) gives the first definition for grace to mean what is received from God and that which allows one to have faith in what Christ did on the cross.

So - back to that Latin. If the Latin says, "pleasing, beloved, agreeable," and "favorable," why am I stuck on these two words? Well, if we say "thank you" because we have received something, that person or persons have become (in some way) beloved or agreeable to us. What is AMAZING is that we have done absolutely nothing to please or become favorable in God's sight. Even our righteous acts are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but God called us "beloved" and showed us "favor," though we came with nothing to deserve this response.


starting a movement

Everybody is making movements these days, so I thought I would throw in my two cents about what deserves "movement" status. Maybe it's because I'm sitting here waiting for a student to tell me if she does/doesn't want to meet for coffee (though she told me for sure yesterday) or maybe it's because I've been around young people long enough to know commitments are ... fluid at best and often motivated by bad information.

So, I'd like to start a movement. The movement will be called, "we care and follow through with things that matter." I know - it's not very catchy right now, but I think I could hire some serious PR and those flaky kids would really start jumping on board. Well... they would jump on board if the message was so diluted no one knew exactly what kind of movement they were joining. But, they would join for sure, eventually. And, by that time the whole purpose of said movement would be moot (case in point).

That's my point.

It is very easy to get kids fired up about things (there are many, many broken things to bemoan in this world) and very hard to get kids fired up about searching serious answers followed up by serious action. I'm not talking extreme, here, folks. I actually think things get extreme when we get distracted by flashy PR campaigns and people telling us what is important and what to do about it.

I guess it would be refreshing to see a youth movement with, as my high school history teacher used to say, "fire in its belly." Everything from coffee dates to mission trips to environmental debates would be informed by something solid - something true and absolute and transformational. Let me know if you know of one and I'll scrap the whole idea.

with my own two hands

Today is resistant to productivity and accomplishment (I resent that, Tuesday the 19th... just so you know). In direct rebellion, I'm believing I can do something worthwhile with "my own two hands" ... you know, like Ben Harper and Jack Johnson sing about.


If you are a doubting Thomas... let me give you two examples. (Please, just bear with me - this is a very necessary internal Tuesday therapy session).

Example #1 CAR BATTERY Last Thursday after Bible study stretched from 4 to 5 to 6 pm (to my delight, I might add), one of the girls threw out the idea of sushi. Because we had a track meet the next day, they weren't going to school and I am always in favor of time spent in fellowship and community (and sushi), I jumped at the chance. Elena, Vivian, and I took off in Louis (my affectionately named 1997 Honda Civic) toward a delicious dinner and we were not disappointed. Disappointment did find us a bit later, though, when I realized I left the lights on and Louis was completely muerto. So, after calling Elena's dad for jumper cable assistance, and after several failed attempts (where I watched grown men attach the cables backwards), we finally revived Louis.

All the while, I have to tell you, I squeezed every bit of humor out of the situation. It was so comical... the fact that I parked in the worst way for a jump, the fact that the parking lot faced all the restaurant/bars just starting to pick up the night traffic, the fact that these things (without fail) nearly always happen to me, and the fact that merely three days before someone had told me to purchase jumper cables before doing anything else. Well, humor aside, it was another adventure to store away... especially because the next morning, when Louis should have been charged and ready to go, he was muerto once again.

I did what any capable, single lady would do... marched right to the nearest (trustworthy) battery vendor, looked up my make and model in their handy book, and bought a battery. Then, I took out the old and installed the new - with my own two hands.

I had car dirt up to my elbows, but when I finished there was very clear evidence that something was accomplished - bad battery on the ground and good battery in the car. Louis started right up! (And, just in case you are wondering, I picked up jumper cables and emergency kit in the same trip).

Example #2 26 going on 15 You've heard of the movie 13 going on 30, right? Well, this past weekend I decided to put my own spin on it, after turning a dreadful 26 years old. I decided I would be 26 going on 15. In a many ways, my body feels 15 and I certainly act like some of my students at times. This weekend, I somehow proved I am neither clearly 26 nor am I still clinging to 15. Starting early Saturday morning, I began prepping for the big night - senior girls coming over to my house for my belated birthday party and sleepover. Cleaning, rearranging, grocery shopping, cooking sticky rice for sushi, baking apples, clearing the living room for the karaoke action, and whipping up some ice cream cone cupcakes.... this completely filled my day until Elena arrived at 5:30 pm.

With my own two hands, it felt good to transform our patio into an oriental escape and watch my normal house turn into a sleepover dream! As the girls came (one by one, Honduran style), we flitted from food to games to karaoke to youtube tutuorials to games to sushi-making to laughter and then everything all over again. I was confident in my 15-year-old body when 3 am came and went and didn't phase me one bit! And then at 4 am, we were making more sushi rolls in my kitchen!

Then 4:15 hit and my body revolted. I slept fitfully on the tile floor and roused myself for the first one to leave at 7:30 am (yes, it's true). When I walked the last one home around noon I returned and collapsed on the couch. I thought I would listen to a sermon, which I quickly realized was a really bad idea. Three hours later, I woke up and realized I am definitely every bit of 26 years old. I cleaned, cleaned, and cleaned... with my own two hands I put back together the humpty-dumpty state of my house, overrun by a large group of flailing high school girls.

So, I don't know if I got to the part about "peace on earth" and "a brighter place" and all those other nice things they talk about in the song, but I did a few things with my hands this weekend and that is giving me consolation for feeling like a bumbling misfit today.

as always,

let LOVE fly like cRaZy