27 September 2010

grid project - week 12

[insert clever/interesting introduction here because I don't want to]

Sunday, August 8: Took myself out on a date to the movies--Inception!
Okay, if you have talked to me at all within the last two months and the subject of movies came up, you already know that Inception is the BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME. Since I don't quite have a significant other, I decided to take myself on a date. It was great--Sunday nights generally mean near-empty theaters because people have to work on Monday...and I figured, what better time to go to the movies by oneself? So I went to Inception. And it was awesome. And I ended up seeing it three more times after that. But that's really beside the point, I'd say.

Monday, August 9: Met up with Pasutti in a resort town in Maryland.
Pasutti and I hadn't seen each other in a while, so we found a place in the middle and met up for the afternoon/evening. The town was called Grantsville. In and of itself, there's not much to it...at all. We walked around a little artisan village and then had dinner at the restaurant next door, then we drove a few minutes to a coffee shop on a lake, south of a little resort town called Accident. Yes, Accident. It was such a stereotypical lakeside resort town, I could have sworn I was back in Minnesota! But no, it was definitely Maryland. And as always, it was wonderful to spend some time with Pasutti!

Tuesday, August 10: Worked on/revamped the St. T's youth ministry website.
Our website was very outdated, so I took some serious time (a few days, really) to update the information and add a few new pages. And I have to say...it looks pretty great. Of course, much of it was already existing (having been created originally by our website guy), but it was still fun to play around with things a bit and use my creativity in a way I don't usually get to.

Wednesday, August 11: Went to Kennywood and got DRENCHED under the waterfall on the Raging Rapids.
Summer Stretch was amazing...and as our final session, we spent the day at Kennywood. It was fun/exhausting to keep track of fifty or so middle schoolers, especially on such a hot day...but lucky for me (?) I was the one who went under the waterfall on the Raging Rapids and was quite damp for the rest of the day. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic summer program. I can honestly say that I can't wait for next summer!

Thursday, August 12: Saw Inception...again.
This time, I went with one of my former youth group peeps, Molly, who is now off at college. We had our end-of-the-season softball party and then the two of us went down to the Waterfront and had our brains exploded for a couple of hours. It was awesome...I sincerely think that the second time seeing Inception is the best.

Friday, August 13: Went for a walk around the lake at North Park.
Pretty self-explanatory, I'd say. One of my friends called me up and was like, "Hey, you want to go for a walk?" and I was like, "Yeah, dude! Sounds peachy!" or something equally chipper. And then we did. Yup.

Saturday, August 14: Figured out/started seriously planning the youth ministry theme for Fall 2010.
I'll be honest and say that ministerially speaking, I had kind of a rough summer. I was in a bit of a funk, which meant that I was having considerable difficulty coming up with ideas for the fall semester theme and programs and whatnot. So it was already the middle of August and I had no idea what would be happening in slightly over a month...which worried me considerably. So I said to myself, "Self, you need to put your thinking cap on and get crack-a-lackin', homeslice!" And I came up with the theme and mapped out the entire semester and started working on lesson plans, and everything started coming together quite nicely. BAM!

Getting closer! I figure if I do an average of one GP update every two days, I'll be all caught up in no time! Though I might do another one later today, just because it's my day off and I have a crazy week coming up. Go team!

25 September 2010

grid project - week 11

Sunday, August 1: Attended a Latin Mass.
The first and only other time I had been to a Latin Mass was a couple of years ago when I was in Washington, D.C. for a youth climate conference. It was terrible--not because of the content itself (how could something as beautiful as the Eucharist be terrible?), but because I didn't understand what was going on. So this time, I went with a friend who frequents the Latin Mass at Holy Wisdom Parish on the North Side, and who was gracious enough to lend me a missal, complete with translations and bookmarks and whatnot. I was really surprised at the Latin Mass, especially after my bad experience with it in D.C.--I think now I can appreciate the opportunity that it provides for personal prayer and contemplation of the Eucharist. I definitely prefer the Novus Ordo Mass--the "regular" Mass for most of us--but I'm very glad for the opportunity to experience the Latin Mass in a more positive light.

Monday, August 2: Went mini-golfing.
I hadn't been mini-golfing in ages, so as a little "last hurrah" before my friend Dan left to do NET Ministries, we decided to go! It was pretty fun--the place we went to has two courses, one of which is suuuuper old...like, I'm pretty sure it's a historic something-or-other. Either way, it was a jolly good way to say "Adios!" to Dan before he made the trip out to Minnesota to start his NET training.

Tuesday, August 3: Survived a near-breakdown.
I had some unexpected drama come my way from Minnesota that I'd rather not go into detail about. But suffice it to say that I had a major freak-out which nearly ended in copious amounts of yelling and crying...but which got sorted out before too much of that happened--for which we should all be very grateful.

Wednesday, August 4: Discovered duck-pin bowling.
Ahhhh, Summer Stretch...teaching me new things, exposing me to new activities and opportunities. Like duck-pin bowling! It's basically the same as bowling...only mini! So the pins are about two-thirds the size of normal bowling pins, and the ball is super small too. So our social activity in the afternoon was to go duck-pin bowling. I was really only half-there all day (having lost a good bit of sleep over the drama mentioned above), so I didn't actually play...but it was still fun to watch the kids play and to discover the game's existence. It's the cutest bowling ever!

Thursday, August 5: Participated in Learning Days with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.
Each August, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie have something called "Learning Days." They bring in a theologian to speak for two days on a particular topic, and they invite all of their Sisters and Oblates to be a part of it. Since I'm in the process of becoming an Oblate, I was also included on their invitation list. The person they brought in was Fr. Dick Sparks, a Paulist priest, who talked about Catholic morality. I was only able to attend the second day (due to Summer Stretch on Wednesday), but it was a really lovely day: back in the "learning mode" that I kind of forgot about after college, out of the Burgh, at a place I hope will become a sort of second home to me during my time in Pennsylvania.

Friday, August 6: Went to Starbucks with one of my youth.
(Sidenote: I keep reading articles where young people are referred to as "youths," and I think that sounds funny. Like, I actually chuckle to myself when I read anything about "youths"...anyway.) I met up with one of my girls and had a lovely little chat. I love relational ministry, I really do!

Saturday, August 7: Got back into the Lectio groove.
As part of my preparation to become an Oblate, I'm expected to pray regularly using a particularly Benedictine prayer form called Lectio Divina (Latin for "sacred reading"). Lectio is a way to read and reflect on a passage by taking a small chunk of text and reading it multiple times, deepening your reflection with each reading. My explanation doesn't do it any justice at all, but it's a wonderful way to pray, especially if you have a hard time knowing what to say/do in prayer. Normally you do Lectio with a passage from Scripture...but since I'm becoming a Benedictine Oblate, and one of the other expectations is that I study the Rule of Benedict, I decided to do something a little different--I take a small section from the Rule each day and pray through it the same way I would through Scripture. And I have to tell you...I love it. There's so much wisdom packed into the Rule. It's hard to believe that it was written over 1500 years ago!

Alright, one more done! Now I think I'm going to go grocery shopping. YAY! I love grocery shopping so much!

21 September 2010

grid project - week 10

Woo! I'm on a roll!

Sunday, July 25: Skip Day.
It happens.

Monday, July 26: Decorated a cake...badly.
By the end of July, the softball season was coming to a close. One of our coaches, Dan, was getting ready to head out to Minnesota for a year of mission work with NET Ministries, so at one of our last practices, I decided to bake a good luck cake. I would normally make everything from scratch, but I didn't quite have enough time, so I broke down and just did the whole box cake thing. I bought some white frosting and some green icing to decorate it, and it turned out...innnnnteresting. I wish I had a picture of it to submit to Cake Wrecks...but alas--no such luck!

Tuesday, July 27: Stopped and looked around the North Hills Art Center.
I pass the North Hills Art Center several times a week while I'm driving from place to place. I had always meant to stop in and look around, but I just hadn't gotten around to it--until that day! So I checked it out, and it was pretty sweet! They have art classes and stuff, and a gallery of the work of local artists and students.

Wednesday, July 28: Volunteered at World Vision.
As part of Summer Stretch, we took our group of middle schoolers to World Vision, an organization that (among many other things) collects and distributes clothing items to people in the developing world. World Vision receives thousands of new clothing donations every year from different retailers, and lots of times, they come packed in boxes with lots of wrapping and hangers and stuff. So our job as volunteers was to unpack them, take out all the stuffing, and inventory them. It was a blast, and the kids had so much fun! It's definitely a place I'd like to work with in the future, and I'm so excited that I was able to be a part of it for the first time through Summer Stretch!

Thursday, July 29: Dressed up for no particular reason.
Every once in a while, it's fun to get dressed up for the heck of it--and since my normal work attire is pretty casual, I decided to spiff things up a bit. Yeah!

Friday, July 30: Went to a backyard Mass and potluck.
I've never been to a backyard Mass before, but I absolutely loved it. The sense of community, the fresh air, the genuine authenticity of it...what a lovely experience! And I was able to meet some new folks and had a lovely conversation with them about church and ecumenism and other theological awesomeness.

Saturday, July 31: Cheered on my peeps at the Diocesan Co-Ed Softball Championship Tournament.
The super-sweet teens on the St. Teresa softball team made it to the diocesan championship tournament! We started the day by playing an intense game against some random team from the south section. (Still can't remember their name...St. G...Gertrude? NO! I remember now! St. Germaine!) Anyway, we beat them in the semi-finals, and moved on to an even more intense quarter-final game against St. Ferdinand's. Even though we lost, our youth played their best...and for what it's worth, St. Ferd's ended up winning the whole thing, so I thought we did great!

Okay, time to go to work! I have a big junior high mailing to get out this afternoon, so I suppose it would be a good idea to, you know, do it. Peace out y'all...

Love you, miss you, blah blah blah!

14 September 2010

grid project - week 9

What?! Two posts in one day?! That's madness, I tell you, MADNESS!

Sunday, July 18: Rode to Boone County, West Virginia for a mission trip.
What I didn't include in the last post was that the Saturday night I got back from Minnesota was also the night of the softball lock-in...so I was up until about 2am for that, and then woke up at 5am to pack for a week-long mission trip with an organization called Appalachia Service Project. I took a couple of kids from my parish, but we were with a larger group from St. Alexis up the road. I really wanted to see what it was like (without the pressure of bringing a ton of kids) so I can grow the group next year. So after 8am Mass at St. Alexis, we were off! That said, everything for Week 9 of the Grid Project has to do with learning skills and having fun on the mission trip. WOO!

Monday, July 19: Caulked the seams on the foundation of a house.
Yep. I think several of these things will be pretty self-explanatory.

Tuesday, July 20: Learned how to play Euchre.
Euchre is one of those old people card games that folks get really intense about in nursing homes. And apparently, so do the folks from St. Alexis Life Teen. So I learned how to play! It's kind of like Hearts, but not. I don't know how to explain it, really. Either way, it was pretty fun--maybe I can go volunteer at a nursing home and play Euchre with the residents or something...though I'm not sure who would want to be my partner. There's a distinct difference between knowing how to do something and being good at it.

Wednesday, July 21: Installed soffit on a house.
Soffit is cool stuff. Click here for a picture of how soffit, fascia (read "FAY-sha"), and gutters are supposed to work together on a house. Unfortunately, the soffit, fascia, and gutters for the house we were working on was absolutely terrible. So what did we do? We replaced it, of course...or at least started to. It was pretty intense. We got about half of the front side of the house done (about 30 feet of it) by the time we were done on Friday.

Thursday, July 22: Learned how to use a pop rivet gun.
Pop rivets are sweet, but I still haven't quite figured out how they work. For the sake of our argument, let's just assume it's magic. However pop rivets work, I got to do it. I felt really cool too. It was interesting how the roles of our crew members sort of decided themselves almost immediately when we started work on Monday...and how much they were determined by gender. You know, the girls doing things like painting and cleaning, and the guys doing...manly stuff, with power tools and the like. Of course, I'm not one to just accept gender stereotypes, so I was up on the ladder as much as possible--or using a drill, or a pop rivet gun, or a table saw.

Friday, July 23: Went to prom!
This one's going to take a lot of explaining, in two parts. First--the prom itself. ASP does fundraising within each week of service to help pay for the materials used at the work sites. The main way they do this is through something called Penny Wars, which is a competition between all the work crews. As an incentive to raise lots of money, the staff sets various benchmarks for dollar amounts. One of those benchmarks happened to be...a PROM. So naturally, we got a prom on Friday night. Now on to the second factor--chores. At the beginning of the week, we were separated into work crews. In addition to working together at our job sites throughout the week, we were also responsible for doing chores together every day. There was a giant chart in the hallway with various chores next to each crew's name. One unique chore is called "staff love," which involves showing the five staff members that you love them and appreciate all the hard work they do, and which we were assigned on Friday. It could be something simple like making them cards or buying their favorite snacks at the store...but our work crew is not the simple kind of crew. We staged an elaborate ceremony at the prom involving a scavenger hunt, each of the staff members' favorite Dairy Queen Blizzard, and all of it culminating in the staff members walking into a pitch black gymnasium, the lights flicking on, and the staff members being crowned the kings and queens of the prom. It went so well...I couldn't imagine it going any more perfectly than it did. And after that, we went back to dancing the night away. It was SO AWESOME! And I think the staff felt loved!

Saturday, June 24: Took a really nice shower and slept in a bed.
After a full week of sleeping on the floor and being in a constant state of dirtiness, it was absolutely heavenly to be able to sleep in my own bed and take a decent shower. It also made me think about all the blessings I have, and about how much I take them for granted sometimes. All in all, it was a very powerful and life-changing week, and one that I can't WAIT to be a part of next year!

And now, I'm going to sleep. It's way past my bedtime, and I've got a dreadful cold. Love you, miss you, blah blah blahhhhh...ahhh...ahhhhhhhh...ACHOO!

grid project - week 8

Ohhhhhh man. I am behind on this stuff. Well! Let's dive right in then, shall we? Last I recall, I was still in Minnesota...*cue dream sequence*

Sunday, July 11: Had dinner with the parents and some family friends in Dorset, MN.
Dorset is a funny little town that my family has visited every couple of years since I was little. It's full of restaurants and shops that span the length of about two blocks or so...they print an Onion-like newspaper every year and elect a "mayor" by having the people who visit Dorset pay a dollar to put their name in the running. Their website has an article about last year's mayor that had me giggling a few times, which you can find here (scroll down to the heading "Dorset Mayor Race"). Again, as you read it, keep in mind that Dorset is super small and, in fact, unincorporated. Gotta love rural Minnesota. Anyway, a bunch of us piled in a few cars and drove to Dorset to eat at the best Mexican restaurant ever (Compañeros) before heading over to Dorset House for the most delicious ice cream cones in all the world. It was a blast!

Monday, July 12: Visited Grampa in International Falls.
My Grampa is one old dude. I'm pretty sure he'll be something like 94 next month, so as you can imagine, things are starting to wind down for him. His memory is slipping a bit, he's losing motivation, that kind of thing. Every time I'm in Minnesota I make sure to take a day and drive up to the Falls to see him, which usually involves Bingo, a game of cribbage, and a cookie or two from my Gramma's super special cookie jar. Grampa brought it with him when he moved out of the house and into the assisted living place, and now has it in his room at the nursing home. My Gramma died when I was a sophomore in high school, but Grampa always keeps a good assortment of cookies in the jar...which we grandkids just love! I also like hearing his stories about the different jobs he had growing up--working in the logging camps when he was seventeen, or climbing towers to change lightbulbs as an electrician...my Grampa is quite possibly the most hardcore person ever. I'm glad that I get to hear about his life, even if he doesn't quite remember who I am.

Tuesday, July 13: Spent the day in the hospital.
This was the big day of my mom's surgery. For those who might not be aware, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2009 and has been dealing with the aftermath ever since: a right-side mastectomy followed by months of chemotherapy and radiation, and a few other preventative procedures...but all with a smile on her face, which is astounding. Anyway, the purpose of this surgery was to do a left-side mastectomy and to begin the reconstructive process. Sooo we piled in the car at 7:00am and arrived at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in the Cities a little before noon, checked Mom in, waited for a couple of hours until her surgery started, and then sat around for about ten hours while Mom had her surgery and spent time in recovery. Dad and I finished a puzzle in the waiting room and watched a couple of documentaries on PBS (one about two jumbo jets that crashed into each other, and one about two ships that crashed into each other...I'm sensing a theme here). And around midnight, we got to a family friend's house and spent the night there. Mom did great, and so did her surgeons!

Wednesday, July 14: Had lunch with an old friend.
I spent Wednesday visiting my college...ahhhhh nostalgia! I hung around my orchestra director's office for a bit and heard about all of his adventures, and then I headed over to the other campus to visit with my academic advisor and to see how things are going at my former place of employment (the School of Theology, where I was an office assistant). While I was at the SOT, one of my college friends (who is now doing grad school work there) stopped by unexpectedly and we went over to the fancy new Refectory to have some lunch. All in all, it was a wonderful conversation. We were on quite opposite ends of the theological spectrum in college, but lots of things have changed for both of us these last few years, and it was great to have a civil, meaningful discussion about theology and whatnot. I also had dinner with another college friend in St. Cloud, which is about fifteen minutes from campus. So much good conversation that day!

Thursday, July 15: Went to a Bastille Day party.
One thing that you can bet on when my close group of friends and I get together is that the making and eating of food will be involved. So since Bastille Day was on Wednesday, we decided to celebrate with a party at Robert's house! Lots of good food, good friends, and late night conversation was to be had, since many of us have been spread across the globe this year and hadn't seen each other since last summer. So we had quiche, Niçoise salad, yummy bread, and some super amazing chocolate mousse, and just enjoyed each other's company while we could! I spent the night at Robert's house and then woke up bright and early on Friday to go visit a fellow youth minister/college friend at her parish in Monticello.

Friday, July 16: Had dinner with friends at Pizza Luce in Minneapolis.
After returning form Monticello, I went to Minneapolis with Christa where my friends Jo, Karen, and Laura live. (Well, Laura got a place closer to campus with Madeline since then, so technically it's just Jo and Karen now, but WHO CARES?! You get the idea!) Anyway, we went to dinner and had a grand old time. Pizza Luce is a really cool place, but GOODNESS ME, THE HIPSTERS! All we could do was laugh...I mean, look at them--trying so hard to look like they aren't trying hard to be the coolest thing since the refrigerator. Slouchy hats, flannel, ironic t-shirts, skinny jeans, choppy haircuts, scarves galore, thick-rimmed glasses, obscure musical taste...need I go on?! There's a reason that Pizza Luce was voted "Best Place to People Watch" in 2008.

Saturday, July 17: Navigated the flight home with EASE!
I'd say that's pretty self-explanatory. No bad weather, no near misses, no screaming babies, nothing. It was great. I actually really like flying alone. Don't know why...I just do.

Phew! One more week down, and...so many more to go. AHHHHH! Stay tuned!

Love you, miss you, blah blah blahhhhh...