Monday, August 31, 2009

Dogfish Head

Last night I got a text from Rachel- this photo was attached. There are two things I really love about this pic (which was snapped on Rachel's cell phone, hence the graininess). The first is that I'm with Rachel, and the second is that we're at Dogfish Head Restaurant in Rehoboth! Dogfish Head is a brewey located in Milton, DE and they come up with some pretty interesting and tasty ales. My friend Dan suggested that I take Rach there, since she's becoming a beer connoisseur and loves tasting different beers from breweries all over. That day we got an amazing appetizer and enjoyed a glass of Midas Touch, which is a great mead-like beer. I recommend Dogfish Head, located on Rehoboth Ave, to anyone visiting the Delaware beaches!!

Last Friday night I went out downtown with a bunch of friends for Kim's birthday. We went to this great little place formerly known as The Press (I can never remember it's new name!). I checked their beer list, because they usually have some pretty obscure choices, and sure enough- Dogfish Head was listed. I ordered their Festina Peche, which was listed under "Sour Beers" ... they weren't lying! It was tart, but I loved it... it was different, and the after taste was as if I had just bitten into a juicy peach. Yum!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Luckiest

"I know exactly what happened. But can you speak those sentences to the people you love? That question continues to haunt me. After telling the hard facts to anyone from lover to friend, I have changed in their eyes. Often it is awe or admiration, sometimes it is repulsion, once or twice it has been fury hurled directly at me for reasons I remain unsure of. [...] No one call pull you back from anywhere. You save yourself or you remain unsaved." -Alice Sebold, author of Lucky.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Start of Semester Update

I've started this post about five times since I've returned to NC, but I never get past the second sentence before an overwhelming rush of exhaustion takes over! I am so tired! Aside from the fact that last weekend was extremely tiring, emotionally and physically, the drive here really put my sleeping patterns out of whack! I downed so much red bull during the drive that when I finally got here and felt exhausted, I couldn't fall asleep for hours because I was so caffeinated! Then yesterday was the first day of classes, fall kick-off (where all of the clubs set up tables to recruit - we had a rugby table), plus it was SO HOT out. BUT, even though I am exhausted, I am happy to be back and pretty much loving my classes! My schedule is perfect, and my classes are really interesting. I'm taking:

-African Political Systems (looove this class and the professor!)
-Research Methods in Human Development and Family Studies (ehh..not the most interesting class, but I have a lot of friends in it from my major, plus the professor is really nice and funny.)
-Statistics (do I even need to comment on that? ew.)
-Professional Development in Human Development and Family Studies (a.k.a. Preparing for Your Internship. I am so excited for this's making it all "REAL"!!)

I'm excited that I'm only taking 12 credit hours... that means I'm going to have a lot more time to focus on my classwork, especially because I am going to have a LOT of work to do. This semester is going to be HARD but it's going to pay off in a big way, I think.

Practices start Monday for rugby... I can't wait to get into the groove of practices and games. Our first game is September 19 - less than a month away! We have so much work to do!

Spread Love,

Friday, August 21, 2009

You who are my home

The lanyards went out in the mail today!

Well, today is my last day in Delaware. Tomorrow morning I'll get in my packed car with Sydney and drive 8 hours to Greensboro. I'm so torn about going back - this always happens to me! I'm excited to see Kim and my friends, excited to be in my own home again with all of my OWN stuff, start rugby practices, and enjoy my last year of college. On the other hand, I'm so sad to leave my mom - that's the absolute worst thing about going back...she's my best friend. I also have had the most amazing week since I got back from the beach. Every single day I've been hanging out with friends who I don't want to leave...

On top of that, I've been dealing with the most ridiculous situation regarding my financial aid and tuition payment status. It's so hard to be the middle man- and in more ways than one. I don't understand why it has to be so difficult. It's not the people at financial aid, it's just the process. My friend Dan recently said it well when he said that he feels "beaurocratically abused". I understand that everything has to be very official, but does it need to be to the point where it's impossible to accomplish a simple task (such as signing up for classes) in one day?

I can't believe I have one year of college left before I'm a "real" adult. I'm taking the GRE's next month, and soon after I'll begin applying to graduate schools. This spring I'll be doing an internship at Bren. ner Children's Hospital with the Child Life Department... it's so crazy how life just flies by.

I'll update when I get back to Greensboro and get settled in. I'm hoping to leave tomorrow around 7am, which would put me there around 2 or 3, depending on traffic. Good thing I have some good music to listen to in the car!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Erin Dream Lanyards - The PACAA Edition!

Since I got home late Friday night from 2 weeks of vacation that started the day after PACAA, I've been able to truly catch up on my sleep and literally just lay on the couch without any plans. It's been kind of nice, and also has given me some time to collect lanyard photos (do you KNOW how many photos these kids take at PACAA, and how many photo albums they have on facebook!? Back in my leaders days, we used disposable cameras and there was no way to share them online!).

I would say that our Erin Dream Lanyard endeavor was a huge success!! The night itself was full of glitches, as most special events at PACAA are, however we ran things as smoothly as we possibly could. One of our biggest issues was the time constraint. By the third group that came through, we were smoothly churning out finished lanyards, but the first two groups that went through (which equals about 40 teens) didn't get to finish their lanyards because we were still working out the kinks. I am so thankful for my co-staff members who were down in that basement with me, sweating to death and attempting to direct traffic, dispense beads, tape ends of wire, organize finished lanyards so that they wouldn't get tangled, and pat my shoulder every once in awhile and say, "Kristen, breathe!" It was an amazing night, and I am so incredibly proud of those kids and the interest they showed in Erin, her fight against Neuroblastoma, and her fundraising efforts.

The night had a few touching moments as well. There was one group who's explanation got cut short when the demo lanyard I was holding slipped from my hand (I was holding the tape, and my hands were sweating so the tape just slide right off) and all the beads went EVERYWHERE. As about 5 leaders helped me pick up the beads, I asked if there were any questions, just to fill the time it was taking to find the beads. One boy asked, "Is Erin Dead?" I had carefully explained to all of the other groups that Erin had passed away in April, but I hadn't reached that part in my speech yet and his purely innocent and honest question caught me off guard, especially because I was flustered from dropping a lanyard in front of 40 leaders and 8 staff members. I answered, "Yes, Erin passed away in April. She fought her cancer for so many years and her body got very tired." I watched the boy who asked the question stare at the ground for a few minutes, and the two boys on either side of him patted him on the back. Later on, the three of them sat in the corner making lanyards and actually talking about pediatric cancer, and who they'd ever known that had cancer. It was a great moment for me, and really made me feel like I had made the right decision, to make Erin Dream Lanyards at PACAA. It was a lot of work, and I may have overestimated exactly how many we could make and how smoothly it would run, but I had two ultimate goals in doing it: 1. To help Erin's family stock up on plenty of lanyards. and 2. To show these teens that they can do something as small as putting beads on wire to be sold, and that can change the world. I tried to stress how incredibly important it is to raise money for Neuroblastoma research and family support, because it is a rare cancer and not enough attention is paid to pediatric cancer, let alone NB.

Unfortunately, because of the confusion, I needed the staff members who came through to help with organizing, so they didn't get to make lanyards - although a some of them did make them later in the week when we had some free time. This also cut down on our total number made, however, it was more important at the time for them to be helping me help the kids make them!

Numbers from the night:
316 = dollars worth of beads
170 = wire starts
160 = styrofoam trays
5 = staff members running/helping the station (Me, Tim, Dan B., Rachel, and Meaghan)
122 = teen leaders
6 = groups of teens
48 = finished lanyards
50 = unfinished lanyards
2 = number of times I teared up during the event
2 = number of times a lanyard was accidentally mishandled and beads rushed to the floor
3 = number of times someone connected on their own that Erin had the same cancer as Liam

Here are a few sneak peaks of some of the finished lanyards! (click to enlarge)

Box of leftover beads and unfinished Lanyards:

I've been working on those unfinished lanyards on and off for the last few weeks. It's actually pretty relaxing to just put on some music and string away. I also find it kind of interesting to see these unfinished lanyards, because I have to try to figure out where that particular teen was going with the order of the beads. Some of the lanyards are absolutely gorgeous, some are more manly, and some are kind of random. I saw so many boys making beautiful lanyards - which totally took me by surprise. I also saw some girls helping the guys pick out what would be great. One of my favorite quotes from the night was: Boy: "I don't know what colors to go with" Girl: "Choose colors that you think your mom would like" Boy: "Well, she doesn't have a favorite color" Girl: "Then make it green, since that was Erin's favorite color" ... I just liked that because it proved that they were actually listening when I was talking! :-)

So that's pretty much it! I was excited to discover a few days ago that there is a new facebook group for Erin Dream Lanyards, so I'm going to direct our leaders to that website, since an incredible number of them are on facebook. I also have a few people who took some unfinished lanyards with them, and they have them done now, so those will be coming in the mail soon.

All in all, the night was great, many lanyards were made/almost finished/started, and hopefully all of those leaders felt like they were doing something meaningful and amazing, because they were!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

End of Summer !!??

Summer dies and swells rise
The sun goes down in my eyes
See this rolling wave
Darkly coming
To take me

Those are lyrics from a great song I rediscovered today.  The summer is coming to an end, especially for college students, who will be starting up in the next couple of weeks... I'll be driving back to North Carolina probably next Wednesday.  I'm still on vacation, until Saturday.  I am so incredibly lucky because the last 3 weeks have been me being at a combination of my three favorite places on earth.  PACAA, Dewey/Rehoboth Beach, and anywhere with my close friends.  The beach has been absolutely wonderful.  This week I'm staying with my dad and his family, which is a totally different experience than being at the beach with my mom.  It's been great that Kels and I have been together during this week, because we always do better when we're there with each other.  

I still owe you all a Lanyard update, and it's coming, I promise!!  I just need to be home long enough to actually put my thoughts together, plus I stole about a million photos off of facebook and they're saved on my laptop and I'm on my mom's now.  So that will happen...promise. :-)

It's back to the beach for a few more days, then some annual frantic packing and organizing.  I can't believe summer is almost over- it truly feels as though it JUST started!  

Sending love out to all... even my lurkers who don't leave comments! 

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Mid Vacation

I have been relaxing at the beach for the past week with my sister, my mom, her boyfriend, his three teenage sons and their friends. It's been interesting! I've never spent so much time with 6 teenage's lots of farting, gross jokes, and random tackling. It's been fun! We've been going canoeing and fishing - something I love to do, especially because the beach every day can get kind of repetitive.

I don't have any photos so far from this week, but I do have a few that are from the last few weeks. First photo: some of my very best friends. Second: Me and Mariah at the beach before we went out! Third: Amazing sunset at the Phillies game in the beginning of July.

Life has been good... I have another week at the beach, this time with my dad's family. It should be another great time. I don't think I'll have internet there, so you probably won't hear from me for awhile.

Hope all is well with everyone!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Processing PAC..AA

PAC..AA 43 was phenomenal. It was a bit of an adjustment, and I could write for days about what we did this week. However, I'm still in the "processing" stage, whereby most of us go home, try to catch up on sleep, think about all of the things we barely had the time or energy to think about while we were at PAC..AA, and attempting to catch up on all of the emails, calls, and anything else that we missed. As a leader (before I made staff in 04), it was always so hard for me to go home after PA..CAA because, well I wasn't there anymore and it was my favorite place in the universe, and also because all of the sudden, I was just shoved back into the real world. In PAC..AA world, we can 100% be ourselves. We can have a good cry about something and then forget about it ten minutes later, because we are laughing so hard at something else. Boys can be sensitive, color lines are erased, and people cheer just as loudly for each person in the talent show. We can believe in our abilities. Someone who may think they are different from everyone else may come to the realization by the end of the week that we are truly all the same inside.

Now, as a staff member, it's my job to provide that experience to all of the leaders who come through our program. Leaders completely changed my life many years ago, and I feel as though I owe it to the program to return each year and do for these teens what many staff members did for me when I was a leader. It's exhausting, stressful, and very hard... but it's probably the most worthwhile thing that I do with my life right now. It's the most rewarding experience I've ever had.

The photo that I posted is my Values Group. These groups are made up of about 8-12 leaders who are all the same age. Mine had 3 staff members and 8 leaders. We meet once or twice a day during the week and do activities and have discussions based around issues that they might be dealing with at their age. My group was made up of 16 and 17 year olds who were going into 11th grade. It was fun because by now, they teens are old enough to talk about things like peer pressure, relationships, and substances... they're also old enough now that they may have been to a few PAC..AA's, so they are ready to get right down with discussions and not hold back. I absolutely loved my Values Group this year, these kids were so into it, and so open and honest. I was blown away by some of our conversations, and what they were willing to share. I'm so proud of them, and I honestly do miss seeing them every day!

I'm saving a post about Erin Lanyards until I get some photos- because I was too busy that night to take any! Thankfully, things like facebook make it easy for me to get photos from anything at PAC..AA!

I'm exhausted, and we're going to the beach tomorrow so I should really get some more sleep. I have lots more to say, but it's going to have to wait!!