Monday, February 21, 2011

The Little Things in Life

What are they? Where do they come from? Are they really little? This begins a list of the little things in my life.

1. Kids. 

This group might be my favorite. Hands down, my favorite job was at Happy Time Preschool & Daycare where I was a teacher's assistant. In my three short years there, I got to know my co-workers, my "kids", and their families. I started in August 2006, just in time for the new school year. My first year was spent in the "Juniors" department every afternoon, where I worked with five amazing women. I cared for 40 little 3 & 4-year old's between the two classrooms. I was so lucky and got to move up to Pre-K with my new friends. The bond I created with these kids the first two years at HT is absolutely unforgettable and irreplaceable.

Pre-K Graduation; May 2008.
Zoo week. :)

The four of us were inseparable.

We spent our summer making s'mores, paper fires and napping in sleeping bags for Camping Week, reading books (our favorites were Is Your Mama a Llama? and The Pickle Book), going bowling, playing in the water for Swim Day, going on picnics at the park across the street (or right outside the cafeteria), praising God at Chapel and VBS, singing songs, dancing, taking hour-long cat naps, playing, and loving. There wasn't one day where I didn't get a hug from one of them.

I got to witness a lot of "firsts." Their first loose tooth, which soon became their first lost tooth. Their first time swinging on the playground, their first time tying their shoes, reading their first book, writing their first letters/numbers, and many more. I watched them and their siblings grow, talked to lots of pregnant mommies and got to meet precious little new ones.

Of the 44 kids I spent nearly every day with for two years, a few stayed in Pre-K to strengthen their knowledge and skills before going off to Kindergarten. What was I going to do without my 5-year old best friends? 

Make new ones.

Celebrating Dr. Seuss week!

There are times I wish I were 5 again. Where the biggest decision I had to make was who I was going to play with or if I wanted to color with crayons or markers. Playing outside for endless hours, grass-stains, muddy shoes, and dirty fingernails. Refusing to take naps and begging to stay up late. Having Mom pack my cold lunch. And fighting over the silliest things.

Growing up is tough. You go through so many transitions and stages throughout your life that makes you really appreciate what you've had (and who's been by your side.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mountains and Valleys

Prepare yourself...this is going to be a very random post but I can promise you that it all serves a purpose.

What can you always find on the top of a mountain? Snow. Last week, we were under a Winter Weather Advisory and a Blizzard Warning. Schools were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and enjoyed a late start on Thursday. My car was stuck in my Dad's garage for a couple days (I wasn't complaining) as businesses and schools closed early and opened late due to 40mph winds and a predicted 4-8'' of snow.  The craziest part of the storm? It effected over 30 states including Iowa. Here is a satellite picture of the US...


Missouri Valley Conference - UNI Panthers. While the majority of the Cedar Valley was on shutdown last Wednesday, the UNI men's basketball team was preparing to take on Illinois State at the McLeod Center. Luckily, my night class was canceled so I got to sit in the L&N Transportation suite and enjoy comfy seats, a great view, snacks and cold beverages.

The second half was more exciting than the first as senior forward Lucas O'Rear suffered a fractured ankle and is out for the season. The refs must have forgotten how to call fouls on any players other than UNI's which resulted in last-minute free throws. My favorite part, however, was experiencing the evolving, student-led "Interlude" dance. The dance was created in a dorm last year and the article can be viewed here. I wonder how long it will be until it's featured on SportsCenter...

The Green Bay Packers and QB Aaron Rodgers climbed a mountain. Brett Favre was traded prior to the 2008 season and Aaron Rodgers had a rough transition into the starting quarterback spot. When somebody as good as Favre, who managed an impressive 297 consecutive starts until mid-December 2010, leaves a team, the fans aren't exactly excited for a fresh start. I think after this season, it's safe to say that Packer fans are saying, "Brett who?" The Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 31-25, in Super Bowl XLV and brought the Lombardi trophy back to where it belongs. (No, I am not a Packer fan, but I did cheer for them on Sunday. After all, Bryan Bulaga played for the Hawks last year.)

Jordy Nelson (Packers) 40 yd catch that set up a Packers TD in the 4th quarter.

Cedar Valley. A surprise visit from a good friend. Last Friday, Lexi & I went to the Black Hawks game and then down to Smitty's for a couple drinks. Smitty's is this small, "hole-in-the-wall" bar in downtown Waterloo. The walls are covered in old and new hockey photos; the ceiling covered with tacked dollar bills, ranging from $1-$100. Smitty's is, hands down, my favorite bar in the Cedar Valley. You can dress up, you can wear your pajamas, you will always see somebody you know, and you can always count on having a great time. After a solid 15 minutes of yawning and trying to decide if we should suck it up or just go home (this was around 10:30)...our friend Lauren who recently moved up to the Twin Cities surprised us by showing up. :) Lexi and I made it to bar close.

So how exactly does all of this tie together? Well, it really doesn't. But it was a creative way to combine what's been going on the last couple weeks. Here's where the "mountains and valleys" idea sprung from.

At church two weeks ago, Pastor Dan continued the series of Psalm 23 and focused on the dark valley. Even in the darkest valley, on the darkest days, He never lets go. The word "valley" speaks of tough times that we all go through. Valleys are inevitable. Valleys are unexpected. Valleys are purposeful. The good news? Valleys are only temporary. They come and go as part of life. It's impossible to have a mountain without a valley. Nobody makes it through life without going through a valley. Dan stressed that for every mountain, there are two valleys. Unfortunately, in life, we are surrounded by bad days and bad moods. For every two bad events we experience, we have a positive one, or a mountain. This series has been my favorite so far, as I can find myself relating to the messages. 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, 
He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. 
He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, 
I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, 
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23