Saturday, August 10, 2013

House DIY

Weird, haven't done THIS in a while. You know, POST ON MY BLOG. I have a couple of fun things planned. First, my House DIY post. I used to do a feature about my apartment DIY dreams. Now I have a house and a almost-husband to help me complete the tasks I so dream about. Which means now they can come to life! Here is what I have been pinning lately. Most of them pertain to our wedding (which cannot get here fast enough) and some of them pertain to our home.

All links can be found at: Pinterest To-Do List

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


We got engaged, yesterday!!! And we are the happiest. <3<3

Mission Trip Update, Photos, and Thanks!

Hello, friends!

I gave myself a small break to mull over the amazingness that I was just a huge part of this past week, but now I am super ready to tell all of you about what I got to participate in. I thank you all, again, for being a very important contributor to my getting there and doing God’s work for so many children, staff, and caregivers that needed the encouragement and inspiration that our group and so many others brought to Monterrey, Mexico, this week. I thought that since you all thought this was important enough to sacrifice some of your hard earned money and thoughts or prayers, you’d like to hear about what happened in this seven-day life changer. If you are not a reader, and prefer to hear my story through photos, please click this link to view the pictures many others and I took while on the trip.

The theme for the week in Monterrey was the bible verse Jeremiah 42:6. In The Message, this verse says “Whether we like it or not, we’ll do it. We’ll obey whatever our God tells us. Yes, count on us. We’ll do it.” The idea behind our theme for the week is that no matter what, we will do what God puts in our hearts to do. Even and especially if it is something so far our of our comfort zone that we can’t imagine doing it. Even if we hate it. Even if it is hard, gross, or awkward. We’ll do it.

During the week we stayed at Back2Back’s campus in Monterrey. A 12-foot wall surrounds the campus with a gate at each entrance and cameras all over the place. It has several rooms that are used as classrooms during the school year, and dorm rooms in the summer when there are groups visiting. There are two swimming pools, mostly to entertain the kids who visit the campus from the Casas Hogar. There is a giant cafeteria and two shelters, or palapas, in Español. There are also several buildings that house permanent staff and summer interns, and 6 Hope Program homes. The Hope Program is the program run by the ministry that takes 50 students at a time and educates them through high school and college. Since in Mexico, education only goes through 9th grade, which usually means kids become independent at age 15, Back2Back began the Hope Program. In each Hope House, there are up to 8 students and 2 house parents.

Each day was basically the same skeleton. Wake up at 7:45, breakfast until 8:30, quiet time and bible study from 9 to 10. At 10, we boarded the bus each day to one of three different Casas Hogar (children’s homes, in Español). Each Casa Hogar was about an hour from the Back2Back campus, and when we got there we would spend about 5 hours doing various things with the kids or with the community, and most times there was construction to be done. Around 6 or 6:30, we’d return to the Back2Back campus, have dinner and at 7:15 we would gather in our groups for de-briefing. This was a chance for us to come together and discuss the things we experienced and to tell about our “pictures of the day” or the most impactful thing we experienced that day. Finally, at 8, we would gather in the Big Palapa for worship. Some nights there was a small sermon, but most nights it was an hour of just singing together.

The first Casa Hogar that we visited went by ERJ. Not entirely sure what this stands for, but this is the first place I got to start impacting some of the nicest, most loving children I have ever met. The second was a community about an hour from the Back2Back campus called “Cadareyta,” Finally, we spent two days with the children and caregivers at Casa Hogar Imperio de Amor.

We spent the days playing Spanish bingo, making felt and foam necklaces, friendship bracelets, playing Uno and soccer (I played soccer! In front of other people! And even got a “Muy bien!” from some of the very experiences soccer players on my team).  I got to teach the kids how to play Ochos Locos, or Crazy Eights, and Pesca, or Go Fish. They loved it! I got to re-learn everything I was taught in the four years of Spanish class in high school at Mercy. It’s amazing how much you remember over 6-10 years.

While about half of us played with the kids for most of the day, the rest of our group that went from The Vineyard and Hope Church helped build new bathrooms in the dorms of the children who lived here. They were finally going from communal showers and stall-less toilets to showers with doors and toilets in stalls with beautiful tiles and pretty substantial water pressure. No doubt that this was an incredible blessing for them. We helped to finish building the second floors of the church in Cadareyta, and serving the children and community dinner in the worship area of the church.

While staying on the Back2Back campus, and throughout the days working at the Casas Hogar, one of the Hope students, Roberto, and I became pretty close friends. He helped me learn a lot more Spanish, and I helped him learn a few new English words. At the beginning of the week, he was a shy 15-year-old who seemed to lack confidence and didn’t have a huge amount of trust in people. It seemed to me that he came from a pretty hard background. Somehow, on Tuesday, I learned that the following day, tres de Julio, was his birthday. He was going to be 16 and was incredibly resistant to any type of celebration. He was also very adamant to not be in any of the hundreds of pictures that were taken by our group over the week. A few of us got together and decided that we’d like to make him a card and get him an ice cream and a Coke for his birthday. He seemed to be surprised and pretty happy about it, but didn’t really express that to any of us. He kept it to himself and went about his business. Finally, on the last day for us in Monterrey, he approached me and asked if he could take a picture with me, and presented me with a letter he had written for me and a coin that he described as “very important and special, and just for me.” I was floored! This came after I decided to be his third sponsor from home to help pay for his room and board, food, and tuition to finish high school and college. It was the high light of my trip – finally getting to make a connection with this kid who seemed so kind and giving, but lacking so much confidence! I was able to show him that I believe in him and will support him in his success in the future – what a gift!

That’s it – that is my story! It was an amazing, eye-opening, life-changing experience and has influenced me to do so much more in my life. I can’t wait to go back next summer, and look forward to continue going each summer for as long as possible. Thank you all again for being such a huge part of this for me, and helping me to be God’s hands and feet for the last seven days. Don’t forget to check out the pictures from the trip at this link to my Picasa web album!


Saturday, March 16, 2013


Thankful For: The incredible amount of support I have been receiving for my mission trip to Monterrey. I have been getting donations from people left and right and have completely raised the money I need....!!! I am waiting for all of it to come in so that I can pay for my plane ticket and accommodations, but I am really excited to experience this trip and SO THANKFUL to those who have believed in it and helped me get there!! Now, I just have to wait until June so that I can go....!!!

Looking Forward To: Seeing Chevelle at Bogarts with Bret this Monday night, flying to Buffalo to see my New York lovers (Nicole, C, Isa, Mack, and Russ), seeing The Postal Service in Columbus in June... talk about a dream come true!! And Disney World with my family this summer (finally). I can't wait for this summer break. It's going to be absolutely amazing. But with the year I am having at school, I can absolutely be patient. I am really falling into my position as a teacher at Mt. Healthy and I am loving it. It is incredible what one year of experience and an amazing team of people around you can do for morale!! Also looking forward to teaching a (amateur) yoga club after school in the spring!

Lusting After: This Longchamp bag at Nordstrom. I might have to go get it today because it's on sale and..... omg need.

Watching: Still Downton Abbey and Rehab Addict. I love that show.

Thinking About: This exhibit that my dad and I saw at MoMa in NYC a few years ago that has suddenly gone viral. I wasn't there for the reunion that everyone has been talking about, but I remember standing around for about 20 minutes watching this woman and marveling at how content she was just sitting here with strangers. I wish I had gotten to see the meeting between her and Ulay!

Working On: Staying dedicated to fitness. I am really struggling with this. Especially because since Christmas break, I have been unbelievably exhausted almost all of the time. And I have been retaining water/gaining a little bit of weight and I am not sure why this is happening. I am hoping it is a deficiency and that my doctor will have a solution for me. Going on Tuesday to find something out!! I am also working on continuing to stay focused on school work. The course I am taking right now is a lot more challenging than the first two and it has been a struggle to keep up my momentum and meet my own incredibly high standards. TRYING!

Reading: I read Gone Girl over Christmas break and was completely obsessed with it. One of those books that I couldn't stop thinking about for a few days after I read it, and even had to take a break from reading because I just felt like anything else would have been disappointing right up against that. So I did some research to find some books similar to it, and just finished reading What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman. I will say that I have read another book by her in the past based on a recommendation I read on a blog and was completely disappointed by it. This book was much better, although it was nothing compared to Gone Girl. I just started, however, a book called Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson. It is the same type of story, with twists and turns and some unreliable characters and a lot of leaving the reader in the dark. Addictive!! I am such a horrible book worm.

Sad About: Google Reader going away, being screwed over with my Lumineers ticket, and not being able to eat chocolate for every meal, vanilla coke + rum and the after effects of 5+ of them...

Loving: Date nights with Bret, cuddles with the cutest babies around (puppy babies), having fun with my students, yoga making me feel stretched out and proud of my body, vanilla coke + rum (haha), redesigning the bedroom (new curtains in place of closet doors, chevron patters on the wall, and artwork to hang up).

Happy weekend!!

xo S

Thursday, February 21, 2013


It has been a million years since I last wrote a post. Not much has changed!! I have been sticking pretty close to my new years goals and thinking forward to the summer. Getting super excited about what's to come!!

Loving: The new iMac Bret & I got. I mean, I think that there is basically no reason for me to ever step foot into the Apple store again. This is actually getting kind of out of hand. Let's be honest. And its name is "The Burrow" for those of you who are wondering. Also loving that I have a 2 hour delay tomorrow which means lots of reading in the morning and sleeping in :) Loving those amazing new shoes in the picture above (from the Gap outlet, $17!)

Looking Forward To: Going to Buffalo to see my amazing friend Nicole and her babies... especially the new one! She is two weeks old today, and her name is Isadora Mae. CUTEST NAME EVER? The Chevelle show that I got tickets to as a surprise for Bret, The Lumineers show (sold out and I am going alone. Sad face) SUMMER BREAK (!!!), a trip to Disney with my family and my trip to Monterrey, Mexico! This is the mission trip I posted about a while back... it was going to be in Ireland, but due to some scheduling difficulties with the church abroad, it was postponed and I have decided to take the opportunity to go on another trip with the same church to Monterrey, Mexico where I will be working with children at an orphanage who come from disadvantaged homes.... they have suffered abuse, neglect, or their parents were unable to take care of them.

p.s. I have raised almost $300 and have 34 days left to get to my goal of $2,500! Any help is much appreciated, and if you can just send your positive thoughts and prayers, that is great, too!! <3 If you would like to contribute financially, please click this link.

Reading: I just recently finished Mission Flats by William Landay. It was a mystery/suspense about a cop who moves back to his hometown when his mother commits suicide. He leads the investigation on the DA who visited their small town. I would say that it was really hard to get through (it took me almost 3 weeks to finish.... not like me at all....) and really only got "un-put-down-able" when I got about 300 pages in. At that point I really couldn't see myself stopping considering the time investment and the fact that it was $12.... unless you like slow moving books, I would skip this one over.

Eating: Smoked gouda and Stacey's simply naked pita chips. YUM.

Goals: I have kinda kept up on my New Year's goals. I have been exercising more regularly (I bought a treadmill with my tax refund) and have been doing yoga fairly consistently which actually does more for my mental health than anything else. I haven't lost or gained any weight, but I am not complaining, I am happy!! :)

Happy almost Friday!