Thursday, August 28, 2008

Outward Bound....Bound

So here is the post I've been promising about for a while. On September 15, I am heading to Asheville, NC to start a wilderness course that I signed up for. Outward Bound is basically a program for outdoor leadership and offers courses for all ages. Some of their programs are for troubled kids, some of them for anyone looking to have some fun and some of them are for adults like me who get anxious at the thought of sitting behind a desk. The course that I'm taking is a 50-day Instructor course and will end on November 3rd. Just in time to vote! The activities will include:backpacking, rock climbing, whitewater paddling, ropes course, Leave No Trace, Wilderness First Responder, educational development workshops, unaccompanied final expedition, instructor evaluations. The Wilderness First Responder certification is really important if I do end up wanting to pursue a career in outdoor leadership. Which gets me to my point about why I'm taking the course. After almost an entire summer of searching for jobs, turning down offers and not really knowing what I wanted I needed to get myself involved with something. My good friend and old coach, Buffy, met her husband doing Outward Bound and they both were instructors for a little while. They have nothing but terrific things to say about the program and after experiencing some Outward Bound philosophies through team building activities that Buffy always incorporated, I have always been curious about it. Then, back in February Rich mentioned wanting to do an outdoor course and he really got me thinking about doing one. So, here we are several months later and I'm actually doing it. I'm hoping that it will lead to a career as an Outdoor Instructor, at least for a little while. But, if nothing else I know it will be one of the best experiences of my life. The only thing I'm a little concerned about is the SOLO which is promised to be no longer than 72 hours. I like being in the wilderness with other people, but I'm not quite sure how well I will make out on my own. Nobody to talk to, and a serious fear of bears! Either way, I am very excited about the course. I obviously wont be able to blog while I'm there, but I'm sure I will have plenty to blog about when I get back. I will write a blog right before I leave to remind everyone that I will be out of commission.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The power of community support

Recently, my boyfriend Rich found out that his hometown of Mansfield, PA would be housing a YMCA. This might not sound like a big deal, but for a town like his it would be a community/life changing thing. When he was growing up he simply had no place to really work out, play basketball, or just be active. So, when he heard of the news he got really excited and decided to start an advocacy group to try and show community support for a YMCA. This was equally as exciting to me, since it meant a lot of Public Relations type work. I felt like my college experience in my major could finally come to some use in helping Rich get his group going and out there. While Rich spent hours upon hours emailing various people, I got to help him with the fun stuff like a facebook group (now with 100+ members), a blog, a logo, a tee-sirt design and a 5k flier. He also received a ton of support and help from several people he went to High School with. It was simply amazing to me how involved a bunch of people, who are now living far away from Mansfield, wanted to be in a project that wouldn't benefit them personally.

This weekend was the 5k fun run/walk. In just a months time, with everyone's efforts, we were able to get a group of about 60 people to show up to a 5k on a Saturday morning at 10am. I would call that a huge success! The 50 tee-shirts that Rich had purchased for the event were gone in a flash and everyone looked so sharp walking/running around town showing their support. I was glad that I got the chance to be a part of it. It is a really refreshing thing to experience how much community support there is in such a small town. It makes me also not take for granted all of the resources I had as a child growing up. I don't know how I ever would have been able to accomplish the same level of athletic success that I did, without the use of a gym. I only hope that when the YMCA does make its way to Mansfield, it can provide the types of programs and facilities the town has been needing for a very long time!

The best birth control money can't buy...

As you might all know, the arrival of my second nephew came a little unexpected and really threw off Jill's schedule for help. So, everyone chipped in to remake a new schedule. This meant that I would be helping for 8 days instead of 4 and starting a week earlier. So, last Tuesday I started my duties as the "helper" for the week at Jill's house. My biggest concern going into the week was that I was going to be so zonked from chasing after the kids that I wouldn't have the energy to do much else, which is only a concern since I am trying to get in shape for Outward Bound (I promise more on this soon). Boy was I right! It seems like taking care of a 1 year old wouldn't be all that much work, but it wore me out. Fortunately, Jill is more mobile than she thought she would be and is able to handle the kids pretty much on her own for a couple of hours so I can get some other things done. But, by the time I get home in the evening all I want to do is lay on the couch and go to bed. I can't even imagine how exhausting it would be if that was my full time job.

BUT, despite how tiring it is also very fun to spend so much time with my nephews. While Aaron is mostly just sleeping,eating and looking cute, Peter is a crawling, toy playing, mischieve attracting little person. During my first four days, Peter and I played, went for walks, went to the pool, and chased each other around the house. One of my favorite things to do with him is take him to the swing, because he gets the biggest grin on his face. One of Peter' favorite things to do with me, and I'm told pretty much everyone else, is throw his toys/tupperware/balls all over the place and watch me chase them and put them back. At one point, he actually had me sweating from trying to keep up with his mess making! Maybe playing with him all day is enough of a workout in itself. Occasionally I do get a break when Peter gets distracted by Ralph and tries to pull on his ears or pull his hair out, which is his idea of "petting". Another "break" time, which is so cute, is right before naps when Peter gets to watch his Baby Einstein. One day, Ralph came along and let Peter hold his paw through the whole show. This was the cutest thing ever...I only wish I had my camera at the time.

So, while spending time with my nephews is so fun I have decided that my sister has taken on one of the hardest jobs in the world. She asked me several times last week, "Aren't you so jealous of my life?" Maybe someday, my answer will be "yes", but for now spending a few hours a day with my nephews is all I can handle! I'm looking forward to spending some more time with the kids and my sister starting again on Tuesday.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Life is funny sometimes...

This may sound like a tired lesson to some of you, but something that I found out about yesterday really put things in perspective and made me do some thinking. I was chatting with my old teammate/roommate, Sasha, online when she congratulated me for being recognized as an ITA(Intercollegiate Tennis Association) Scholar-Athlete for achieving above a 3.5 GPA in the last academic year. On top of that, our team as a whole was named to the ITA All-academic team for earning a cumulative team GPA of 3.2. Both of these are things that I hadn't been able to achieve throughout my initial 4 years of college. I'm not normally one to shout to the world about my achievements, but I felt like it would be worth while to reflect on what this means in the overall scheme of things. When I got thinking further, I realized that a little over a year ago I was probably at one of, if not THE, lowest points in my life. The passing of my Dad and tearing my ACL in the same year was a brutal reality. At the time, I thought a lot about how cruel life could be. Well, here I am a year and a half later with a very opposite outlook on life. Not only did I get to come back to Penn State and play an extra year of tennis because of a rule that happened to be changed the year I got hurt, but I accomplished more in this past year than I had in the previous 4. I earned the #1 spot on my team, I got much more involved with the community and school organizations, I won the True Grit award (selected from over 800 student-athletes), and I had my best year academically, earning recognition for it. Thinking about this really made me smile. It also made me realize that if things hadn't gotten so bad, I probably wouldn't have appreciated everything that has happened in the past year. It is a lesson I have learned before and it's probably a lesson I will learn again....sometimes things have to get really bad in order for them to get really good!

If you want to read the article about the ITA awards click here!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Peter's Birthday Party

Tomorrow, little Petey turns 1. I can't believe how fast time goes! This past weekend, my sister had a party for him and of course it was themed. Since the olympics are going on, the house was full of flags from all different countries and the colors of the olympic rings. And, in honor of the location of the games we had Chinese food. Peter slept through the first part of his party and was a little confused to wake up to about 15 people in his house, but he was soon playing with his friend morgan, stuffing his face with TWO cupcakes and opening presents. The funniest part of the whole day was trying to get Petey to wear his birthday hat. Morgan is the daughter of a friend of Jill's, and her Mom told her it was her job to keep the hat on Peter. She took this very seriously! It was pretty funny to watch Morgan continue to try to get the hat on Peter and for him to totally refuse to wear it. Peter got a lot of presents and some really neat new toys to play with. It was also cool for me to see him interact with his new brother Aaron a little bit. I'm not quite sure he knows what to think of the whole thing yet, but he likes to give his brother hugs and kisses. And, okay...sometimes he likes to hit him. But, my guess is that they will be best friends in a short time. Enjoy the few pictures I was able to get until my camera died!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jammin Java on a whim

This past weekend I had planned to move all of my stuff home to McLean since my apartment lease is ending on August 16th. I had also told my sister that I wouldn't be able to make it home for Peter's actual birthday, so she planned to have his party on Sunday. Originally, I had planned to move on Saturday, attend the b-day party on Sunday and then drive back to State College since Rich had to work on Monday. But, on Thursday night I logged onto my myspace account and noticed that one of my friends had posted a new song from Meiko. She is a singer/song writer that I started listening to a few months ago. When I clicked on her page, I realized that she was going to be playing at a coffee shop in Vienna, VA. I initially felt bummed out because I knew Rich probably wouldn't want to go, since it would get us home really late. To my surprise, he immediately said, "Let's get tickets." And, the rest is history. Another artist that Rich likes, Joe Purdy, was playing there that night too so I guess that was the extra insentive. Two artists we had never heard of, Jay Nash and Chris Seefried, also played. I was so glad we went, because the show was awesome and we got to listen to almost 4 hours of accoustic music! We ended up getting back to State College at 3am giving Rich less than 4 hours of sleep, but I think he would agree it was worth it! Unfortunately I don't have any pictures, because I used up all of my battery power at the birthday party.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Compulsive Movie Buyer...No MORE!

In an effort to simplify my life, I recently decided to get rid of most of my DVD and VHS movie collection. For those of you who know me well, you can imagine how hard this was for me! There were a few that I just couldn't part with, but I had over 200 movies. Isn't that insane? Fortunately I was able to get my movie buying addiction under control this past year and in the process realized what a silly thing it was that I had accumulated so many DVD's. Plus, moving them is a pain in the butt! So, I made a list of all the movies I didn't want and let my Mom and Sister take their pick. Once they decide, I will get rid of the rest by giving them away or selling them to a Pawn Shop. I only hope that after getting rid of all of them I don't have the urge to buy more!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

In DUE time

I recently decided to sell a few of my things on craigs list. After all of the success that Jill had with her stuff, I was quite encouraged. Since I will be moving my stuff back to my mom's house next weekend and I am uncertain of where I will end up after that, I thought I could get rid of some bulky items that wont be needed in the McLean house. My idea was to sell a couch, my dresser, my large TV, and some other small items. I was getting so excited about the whole thing when Rich politely said to me, "I hate to break it to you, but good luck selling stuff in State College when everyone else is moving out and trying to get rid of things." This didn't stop me from making several posts in an attempt to get rid of my things. After a frustrating week and a half of several emails and almost sales, I FINALLY was able to get my couch and dresser sold! The guy who bought my dresser literally said, "wow, this is the nicest dresser I have ever seen." It was pretty funny, but I guess it is nice for a used college student's item. I have decided to maybe hold onto my TV, but I'm pretty pleased with the few things I did get rid of. So, the moral of this story is to be patient. Boy was I glad I posted my things three weeks before I actually needed to get rid of them! My next project is to pack...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Baby Aaron arrives a month early!

This past Wednesday morning, my sister and her husband Brett welcomed their second child into the world. I got a message from my sister late Tuesday night that she was having contractions and was headed to the hospital. Aaron was born about 3 hours later. I had asked my sister to call me after the c-section to let me know everything went fine. So my phone rang at 4am with good news. That morning I woke up and headed for Virginia for the day, but found out the bad news that Aaron had to go into the NICU because he was struggling to breathe. Luckily, by the time I got there he had improved a lot and was doing so much better. He was born at 3:13am at 6lbs 2ounces and 20 inches long. I was so glad that I got to make the trip down to Virginia and see the little guy. I have been speaking to Jill or Brett since then, and Aaron is getting better and better by the minute. I can't wait to go home soon and spend more time with my Sister and my two nephews!
For more pictures click here!