Ice Cream, God

It’s Friday and I feel almost normal.
The hormones will baseline in about a month, the doc told me.
But I’m smelling coffee for the first time in 3 weeks without the impulse to barf, and my heart opens up just a crack to peek outside.

In a few days I suspect bananas will come back, too, and chicken and Life cereal and eggs and all the other strange things that left.

Today instead of 8 weeks pregnant, we are 1 day post-loss.  A week ago we learned our fresh 7-weeker didn’t have a heartbeat. Continue reading Ice Cream, God

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Food Hospitality, or Romanticizing Indulgence

This is the time of year I review old things and resolve to do new things.  I was really into this in, like, 2009 and other random years but didn’t feel compelled to list out every crazy thing I did in 2013, because actually everything I did was crazy.

The smaller task would be to list out all the beautifully ordinary moments that existed in the year. Things that come to mind: grilled pizza on the twinkle-lit deck this summer, meaningful meals with friends between each trip, the one or two football games we were able to catch wrapped in blankets with chili in the crockpot, hanging four strands of snowflake lights on our sliding door and watching the snow pile up, snuggles with nieces, selecting our favorite photos to send as a thank-yous to helpful friends, and feeling my little nephew kick.

I am also totally clueless about 2014, so I have not resolved to anything yet. When we return from Cuba, our fellowship with World Next Door will be over, and beyond March is a giant question mark. All my resolutions this year would be all the previous years’ resolutions combined, and also the ordinary ones like clean eating and exercise.

But last night as I was stuffing face in this Cuban pizza shop in Miami, Continue reading Food Hospitality, or Romanticizing Indulgence

My Big Fat Cambodian Monthly Update

Hey Guys.

If you were sitting around today (middle of the night) thinking, I wish Brooke would post a real long monthly update, this is your special day!

In Rwanda, I was frantically posting every 72 hours because Jeff & I were the only people experiencing most things, it was all brand new, and I felt like it would a) slip through my fingers too quickly to internalize if I didn’t write it all down and b) verify to 62 people who funded us we didn’t run off with a wad of cash to the Cayman Islands.

In Cambodia, there are 7 of us providing content (Anna, Sarah and Hannah and Tara each have blogs), my first feature was due 2 weeks after we got here which occupied most of my time and mental energy, and I feel generally less spazzy this time around. Also, at least 20 of those 62 people told me they felt confident Jeff and I were not rolling around in piles of cash on a remote beach somewhere, so that’s good.

Either way, here are some things I’ve been dying to share but just now getting onto paper/the internets.

Weather
I don’t care what the iPhone says, it’s not 90 degrees here; it’s 90 thousand degrees. Every day is a constant struggle not to rip off my clothes and run around naked OR to stand underneath the cold shower for 11 hours at a time with 30-minute breaks. It’s just really hot. Never have I ever spent so much time organizing clothing into tiers of importance and “saving” certain things for days when I know I’ll be out walking around. I tried to combat this issue by having one of the girls make me some traditional freely flowing lightweight pants the locals seem to love, but ended up with these beauts: yellow polka-dotted pants gone wild.

Housing
We are staying at a compound rented by CGI for the girls in the Imprint program, so although we have our own living space (kind of like a little apartment), we have 7 housemates ranging in age from 17-26 with a combined 20 words of English, and we have a groundskeeper/people-keeper named Mom-sung, who we have renamed Monsoon because of all the swooping in and helping.  Here is a little picture sequence demonstrating the Monsoon-ness, but yesterday took the prize when she tried to physically lift me onto her lap in the van because sunlight was streaming in the window onto my arm. She is the personification of the spiritual gift of hospitality, with a dash of crazy and a sprinkle of obsession.  Monsoon and the girls are sweet, though, and we’ve spent time together watching scary Cambodian soap operas, looking at photos of friends and family on the laptop, and eating dinner together every night. Speaking of food…

Food
We eat well. The girls feed us a variety of greens, veggies and meat, and mealtime constantly smells like fried garlic, which is awesome. Unfortunately, each meal also includes a 14-thousand foot mountain of rice or noodles, sometimes both, with chili and soy sauce. Every morning we are served two French baguettes each, which we protein-ify with peanut butter and a side of Nescafe instant coffee, but we are fighting off the squish with jump ropes and I-candy. Every meal, no matter what the food is, everyone yells, Nyam bai! Nyam bai! which means Eat rice! Eat rice!  Also, three people have put their hands on my belly and gestured a baby, then when we say no, they laugh and shovel pretend food into their mouths and say, Nyam bai? Nyam bai? Eat rice? Eat rice?  *Hangs head* I will not say anything else about that, because I’ve realized (this is profound) that if I continue to present myself in this way, although funny, people will begin to see me in this way. I will say that when our poor intern started puking, Jeff came up and said, in his best Cambodian accent, Throw up rice? Throw up rice?

Jeff has sought out a little more culinary adventure than I have: whole fried frogs and duck fetus. Gag me. He almost had fried tarantula, but lucky for him (me?), the team was sick that day and we opted to stay in. Somewhere inside the world wide webs are the videos of the fried frogs and duck eggs. We also visited this cool picnic area that served toasted turtle. We did not partake.

Language
Khmer is the hardest. Everyday we communicate with Monsoon and the girls through gestures, which we’ve gotten really good at. Picture me scooping up invisible ice cubes and dropping them into my empty glass, saying tink, tink, tink. Ohhh! Ice! Ice! Picture Jeff squawking like a chicken, laying a pretend egg, cracking it on the surface of an invisible frying pan and making a Chhhhh noise. Oh! Fried Egg! Fried Egg!  Imagine Monsoon with her hand above her head saying Shhhhh and washing her armpits. Oh! Shower! Shower!  And, if you dare, imagine Monsoon walking past the dinner table with my clean bra (she does our laundry) around her waist trying hard not to laugh. Oh!  Saggy boobs! Saggy boobs! Monsoon is funny even with no words.

Work
Each morning we meet Srey Leak, CGI staff, at the primary school to speak with the teachers in each class. Usually we’re greeted by excited and squirmy students, and the top one or two are selected by the teacher to stand up and perform a song or greeting, which is adorable. But we actually come in search of the lowest ranked students, not the highest, and they’re often times sitting at the back with embarrassed smiles and very little eye contact.  We walk home with a different struggling student every day at lunch to visit with families and learn what might be keeping each child from being successful.

We’ve gone home with students whose parents are fighting or divorced or using drugs. Our hearts broke with a student whose siblings were killed in a car accident three years ago and who is being called “a gentleman’s boy”—the equivalent to being called gay—by other kids in the class. There was a little boy whose parents had each abandoned him leaving his two grandmothers in a deadlock over whether or not to sell the little boy to ‘His Excellency’, another term for rich man.  There have been orphans and single parent homes and homes with disabilities. We’ve seen families of four living in 10×15 sq foot rooms, and four families of too-many-to-count living in a four-bedroom house. We’ve seen families who simply don’t have the means to pay for afternoon classes or for lunch. We’ve seen kids who live too far away to walk back and forth every day. And we have visited with kids whose families can’t care for them at all and have arranged for their stay at a Children’s home, which most refer to as an orphanage.

We are also learning that the stories not told over lunch are those things that happen when the poverty becomes insurmountable. When the snails don’t sell, and the fish don’t bite, and the kids have already dropped out of school, and there is nothing left to eat. In that tight spot, we’ve found the underbelly of poverty. It’s not hunger or filth or lack of education—though these things are difficult enough. For some families, there is one last option, one final economic recourse: selling or renting out a child. The underbelly of poverty here is the sex trade. It’s what happens when there is simply no other solution.

But! We’re seeing the prevention of this recourse through the program we’re working with: CGI Kids. CGI is working hard to identify and intervene through relationships and community involvement before the family reaches this level of desperation. J and I got the chance to meet two little girls and their families, for whom CGI has provided an alternative.

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My feature article in July will be the story of these two little girls and their families, about CGI Kids and Kien Svay kids and my little nieces and how all of these things fit together. So download the July issue! It will be broadcasted from a virtual blowhorn on all my social media accounts when its ready for download.

Church
You thought this update was over, didn’t you?

Church yesterday morning: hour-long van ride to the bank of a river with wooden steps leading into the water, a boat appeared and ferried us to an Island, we removed our shoes before entering the church, sang worship songs in Khmenglish, then voted on 2 of 4 singers who were competing in a singing contest to be the new worship leader. People around us wanted #2 and #3 to win, so they took our #1 and #4 slips, but somehow #4 won, and he was definitely in last place. All this was followed by a sermon and kool-aid communion, my legs lifted off the floor the entire time due to 3 big spiders roaming the tile, and with a couple of 4-year-olds sticking their little hands through my chair to tickle my armpits. Door to door? About 5 hours.

Play
Due to my lack of legit updating, it might appear via FB that all we do is play. That’s because I posted like 300 pictures of bike rides through our neighborhood, some bamboo picnic areas on stilts, a bamboo train ride with the team, and a fantastic 24-hour anniversary celebration in Phnom Penh. Some friends let us borrow bikes for the summer, and we’ve been making friends with neighbors, visiting the “ploating” restaurants on the river behind us, and finding ways to explore Phnom Penh by rooftop when we make it into town.  We’ve visited the S-21 genocide memorial, the National Palace and Museum, the Silver Pagoda, the Fine Arts District, a sunset boat tour of the Mekong, and will visit the Killing fields this week. We’ve also had a couple of team days in Phnom Penh and Battambang and will head to Siem Reap this weekend by boat for our mid-trip retreat. What?! Half over already?

Our anniversary was awesome because school was conveniently closed for testing, so we packed up and went to Phnom Penh.  For the entire 24 hours we did activities that benefited ministries all over the city. We ate lunch at Friends, a restaurant that trains and employs street kids, got massages by trained blind masseurs using their skills for self-sufficient living, and river toured with a company who’s profits maintain an orphanage.  Pics from the weekend: here.

Okay. I think that’s it for now, except everything else, which you’ll find in the July issue of World Next Door! Speaking of, did you download Rwanda’s Issue? DO IT! But if you can’t download the app, you can still find the content online here. It’s our first published content for World Next Door and we’re pretty pumped about it. People outside the family even like it :)

Welp. If you’re still here, you’ve made it until the end. For your diligence, here is a dancing kindergartener:

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For more pics of our time in Cambodia, click here.

For more pics around our Kien Svay neighborhood, click here.

For additional posts about Cambodia, click here.

Bye!

I Am Pineapple Retainers

I Am peanut sauce and chicken satay, a thousand spring rolls, curry, and 50-cent Angkor beer through a straw. I am cold, iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk, mango smoothies and fresh pineapple slices turned into pretend retainers for the cheap laugh. Which reminds me: I am brownie-on-tooth girl to at least a dozen college friends.

I Am all up in the equator and 100 degrees hot (wink!). I am the Indochina time zone, but my internal clock is somewhere in Europe. I am a genocide memorial when I thought my heart could not hold any more genocide, but then it opened a little wider. I am cross-legged on a bamboo train platform reeling through a Cambodian countryside under an overcast sunset, wind and bugs in my face, the biggest bottle of cold water in my lap.

I Am a 9-year-old girl’s little hand squeezed into mine as we tour her village brick factory. I am that little girl’s grandmother’s $3 scarf and a little baby’s toothless smile. I am step-sis to a birthday girl, and while I’m at it, step-sis to FOUR of the best step-sibs ever made (holla!). I am Michael Jackson, Enya & Celine Dion who provided the backdrop to three out four meals with us at the Kiwi Bakery.

I Am “Mind your head!” and “Can I have a dollar?” and “You must tip the driver!” I am “You want tuk-tuk?”, YOLOP (You only live once in Phnom Penh), “Never settle for less than butterflies” and “The Blackberry did it.”

WHO ARE YOU? Food, places, people, and words spoken into your life… Go!

I Am (a day late)

Context for this: here

I Am half-caf and half hazelnut, actual limeade with visible pulp, orange juice scooped out of a bucket from the juice guy on the street in San Ignacio. I am two soft boiled eggs smashed onto a baguette or ciabatta roll with a slice of cheddar. I am brunch.

I Am the magazine section at Barnes & Nobles with an iced mocha and a BFF. I am the second floor deck of a lake house doing my own version of Insanity called I-can-ity with my earphones and solitude. I am a tiny room in Central America with slat windows, iguanas and the most hilarious Belizean family.

I Am one-eighth of the World Next Door summer team. I am a woman: one tiny part of the sisterhood of oppressed women all over the world but holding a rare lottery ticket to education, independence, relative equality, and material wealth. I am heartbroken for my worldwide sisters and will do my very best to use the winnings of this lottery to make life better for all of us.

I Am God’s Plan A for the restoration of this world. Who are you this week?

I Am: Coffee, Target, Aunt and Abundance

Context for this: here

This week:

I am a chocolate croissant early in the morning and coffee-flavored Belgian chocolate late at night. I am stove top brewed single-cup decaf espresso poured over creamy vanilla ice cream. I am summer shandy and creme ale after work. I am grilled chicken stuffed with Havarti cheese and hot, crispy falafel covered in cucumber sauce when it’s chilly.

I am the Target dollar spot, the Old Navy clearance rack, the REI 20% off sale. I am Amazon.com. I am the Emergency Department: chair ducking, grief holding, support offering, bus pass distributing, safe house finding, adoption facilitating, report filing, family calling. I am these things from a 10×10 foot social work office.

I am Aunt Brookie to three little girls, and Little B to the best aunts.  Combined, we are wise and silly, baked cookies and explorations through the Monon “forest”, nicknames and knock-knock jokes, princess puzzles, swim dates and bike dates. I am early morning blanket wrapper, scooped from the pack-and-play, nuzzled with a million kisses, footie pajamas, cinnamon rolls and dinosaur-shaped banana pancakes.

I am still Be safe and Be smart and You’re gonna bring home an orphan. I am God doesn’t just provide adequately, He provides abundantly. I am Nothing good happens after midnight. I am Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Please tell me: Who are you this week? Food, places, people, and words spoken into your life…

I Am: Food, Places, People, Words

I went on a little Scribes retreat today. Scribes is a) My writing group and b) My pals.

At first I thought it might be writing boot camp, because we had to leave at 6:30am and they told me to bring hiking shoes. But then we stopped at Panera for giant coffees and then we drove 2 hours to Denise and Jackie’s adorable micro-homes in Freedom Forest, where a little breakfast was waiting for us, and then we had a nice walk around a lake, and then we ate loads of chocolate cake. Oh yes, also we did some writing and reading with a good amount of laughing and a tear or two. So, you know. Not boot camp at all.

We did a writing exercise called I Am.  These are 4 categories in which we complete the sentence I am… to describe ourselves. The categories are food, places, people, and words spoken into our lives. I plan to complete this exercise every Sunday as a kind of check-in, because things are always changing, yes? If you like it, please respond with your own answers.  (Wouldn’t that be fun?) (Yes, Brooke, that would be SO fun.)

I am butter cream frosted, molten chocolate, squishy and undercooked, a smidge larger than a normal slice, a brownie-toothed smile with sprinkles on top. And then I am seconds.

I am a bright raincoat, fleece-lined snow boots, dry-touch bug spray, mosquito net, 5-way-wearing-multi-scarf. I am roll-up and adaptable, about 10-pounds too heavy, with a preference for hot, a reverence for the mountain, and at ease with the uneasy. I am, in my heart, lying on a beach somewhere holding a pina colada.

I am my mom’s hair and my dad’s freckles. I am always chasing the brother train because no one thinks about inviting the sister. I am the glue, the caretaker, the organizer, and the bridge from one family member to the next. I am a selfish wife on Tuesdays and a fantastic wife on Fridays to a husband who’s yet to have an off day. I am the beholder of generous friends.

I am blessed abundantly, addicted to bags, creative, freakishly prolific. I am wear your sunscreen and 10% in savings, 10% to the church and no natural talent, but worked real hard. I am be safe and be smart and you’re gonna bring home an orphan.

Please tell me: Who are you?
*Don’t forget the categories: Food, Places, People, Words spoken into your life.

What Is Saving Your Life Right Now?

My friend posted a blog, after reading another blog, and that blogger had read a book, and the author of that book had been asked to speak on what was saving her life right then. Today* a bunch of people and synchronized blogs are answering this question: What is saving your life right now?

*When I say Today what I really mean is three weeks ago. But three weeks ago I was in such a despairing place, I could not come up with a list of things that were saving my life.  I could only come up with a list of things I wished were saving my life. Yes, I realize this kind of defeats the entire purpose of the exercise.

So, as all the life-savers rushed passed me on the internets, optimistic and enlightened, I sat on the sidelines chicken-scratching a bunch of things that were absolutely not saving my life right then (picture McKayla is NOT impressed) and feeling angry I couldn’t find optimism and gratitude- my two best things! You will lose all respect when you see my list. It’s bad.

Things I Wished Were Saving My Life Three Weeks Ago:

Food. Loads of goat cheese. On chicken. Wrapped in bacon. On bread. With oil. Small plates as far as the eye can see. If these things were happening right now, my life would be saved. Instead, due to the need for restraint (calories, waistline, cash, time) we are on a meal plan. Five meals per week, 20 ingredients or less, all organic, under 600 calories. Blast that meal plan! The inability to go out to eat for every meal and order anything I want is killing me. Salads in jars are killing me. For a person who communicates via food and weather patterns, who would rather ingest a tiny amount of taste-bud-bursting goodness than loads of mediocre anything; for a foodie, I wish amazing food was saving my life right now.

Hawaii. I wish Hawaii was saving my life right now.

Riches. Yes, I know how hard it is for a rich person to get to heaven, and that we’re not supposed to store up treasures and all that. I get it. But seriously, I could go for some cold hard cash. I would (you might have gathered) go out to eat every single meal and buy a personal trainer to work most of it off, and then a med spa to take care of the rest. I would go to two movies this weekend, and I’d have an outdoor living space with a plush couch, and tomorrow, I’d quit my job and vacation in Cuba for a month. I’d buy land in Belize, adopt some kids, and eat some more food without consequence. I would also go hiking in CO, visit all my friends in NOLA, and then go to Nepal. Yes. I wish those things were saving my life right now.

I wish single digit sizes were saving my life right now. My life would be saved if at the end of the day I could catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and think, Yep. Instead, I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and gnash my teeth.

I wish God’s voice in human form and his face in human flesh sitting across from me were saving my life right now. I would ask him a direct question and get a direct answer. He would also likely buy my coffee, I think. He would tell me exactly how to pray. He would say, Yes, you have enough faith to do this one thing. Or, He would say, No, you’re not really believing believing. He might reveal that I’m praying in safe ways that leave wiggle room for God not to answer prayers, in case these things are Not His Will, instead of praying expectantly. He would let me know once and for all if expectant prayer is entitlement or faith.

I wish some kind of everything-fits-perfectly feeling was saving my life right now. Instead- well, just read this. She says it perfectly. J and I have a case of the wanderlust. If some kind of Holy Passion presented and everything suddenly fit, my life would be saved.

I wish God’s breath into a mess of cells and tissue was saving my life right now. It’s not all I want in life. It’s not even something I wanted until a year ago. It’s not the only thing I think about. But if it happened, my life would be a little bit saved.

___

Three weeks later, thanks to things that are actually saving my life, I am able to identify some things that are saving my life. Funny how that works.

What Is Saving Your Life Right Now?

My aunt is saving my life right now. On the prayer thing, she said: When you prayed that prayer the very first time– the unanswered one, the one in which I don’t know if I have enough faith- God heard it. It has already been answered. You just don’t know how or when or in what form this thing will appear. But God heard it, it’s been answered, and you are free to move forward.

Limes and La Croix are saving my life by being all refreshing and tart, and caffeine free, sugar free and sweetener free. This combo tricks my taste buds into thinking I’m having some kind of dirty carbonated beverage. Really, it’s just soda water with some limes.

My little community of women are saving my life right now. Kim’s words: These women are teeming with so much life. Giving me so much life. Saving me on days when I couldn’t find hope with a floodlight. Saving me by letting me point out hope when it’s their turn to misplace it. Saving me with plans for a weekend away, just our despair, and our hope, and margaritas as big as our heads.

A new friend who came over for a long walk is saving my life right now.

A friendly neighbor who stops by more often than not is saving my life right now.

My writing group is saving my life right now.

My job is saving my life right now. Three or four weeks ago, after the worst worst MD visit, I really wanted to cancel all my appointments the following day to give myself time and space to recoup, emotionally. Being a therapist is for the birds on days when you need a therapist. But it was too late, and I am reliable. So I went to work and resolved to be 100% present. For 8 whole hours, I did not think about myself even one time. I came home lighter, and my life was a little bit saved that day.

My husband is saving my life right now. His insight and care. His partnership. The way he ushers me up to the roof to watch shooting stars on a blanket. The way he could never write an ungrateful I wish list, because he’s got that much perspective. His humor and kindness save my life every single hour.

Our blooming flowers that were dead a month ago are saving my life right now. The way these flowers, planted on almost the exact weekend we began our journey through unparenthood, have become reflective of my insides- bright and cheery, withered, dead, sprouting, full-bloom, wilted, thirsty, drowning, blooming… endless, the stages, and totally dependent on things they’re not in charge of.

Church is saving my life right now. Each time I show up, the question bouncing back and forth between J and I all week is answered. It’s not Jesus in the flesh, but I’m learning more about the Spirit. The Spirit is saving my life right now.

Our pet electronic vacuum is saving my life right now. Purchased before the Hartman recession hit, in a fit of crumb-despising-fed-upness, to which most people respond with a broom and dustpan, we feed this pet/child/swiffer thingy scraps from our dinner table and speak to it as though it has a heart and soul. Don’t tell anyone.

Hark! What shoe through yonder window breaks?

I am home! SJP is a little damp, but still fantastic.

It took 5 years to unload my car because of this:

Parking spot on fourth floor
Adorn myself with bags and tubs
Take elevator to second floor
Cross skybridge
Wobble through the hospital
Cross skybridge
Up elevator to third floor
Drag myself down the hall
Unlock apartment
Drop load.
Repeat.

Everything I own. One armful at a time.

By the time I was finished, it was 6:00 and The Hills was on—an excellent and surprising turn of events! I really needed groceries, but decided (in light of Audrina’s birthday party in Vegas) to put off grocery shopping until tomorrow. I could totally make do with these ingredients in my kitchen: oatmeal, shells, butter, and Diet Coke. Easy. I made shells and butter for dinner and had oatmeal for dessert.

Unfortunately, that held for only 20 minutes and what I really wanted was Double Stuffed Oreos, wine and milk for the morning. When Sprinky told me this exact same episode was re-airing tomorrow, I was out the door.

Right away, I noticed something different on Canal. People were already out on Bourbon St. and you could already hear Jazz, and it was only 6:30pm. Usually things are quiet until about 9:30. After 10, there’s a band on every corner. But 6:30? Unheard of.

(You should have seen me and Sprinky cruising around at 8pm when I first got here looking for all this so-called jazz and crazy nightlife…)

Then I remembered the curfew in still in place, and I understood that people were just getting everything in before dark. It’s like the whole pattern of nightlife was picked up and dropped off about 4 hours earlier. They must have gotten started at 2 in the afternoon! I decided curfew was just how I liked this city: a little food, a little jazz, a few drinks, some dancing—in bed by 10.

Bad news for early evening grocery runs, though. Everything closed at 5. And everything else closed at 6. Gas stations, Wal-mart, Whole Foods, Walgreens—everything. On top of that, National Guard troops were posted down every possible side street you could think to try—with their scary guns and big tanks and camoflauged hummers. I felt like they might not understand my late-night Oreo run as a matter of importance.

So I turned around. Dusk closed in. Street bands packed up their instruments. The city was a ghost town by 7 and it was dark by the time I made it back up to the 4th floor of the parking garage. No Oreos. No Hills. Only noodles. Oh, and a bag of peanut M&Ms from the vending machine: a well-balanced meal before my VERY important first day of school tomorrow.

PS: Hark! What shoe through yonder window breaks? The mustard mary-jane pair: my brand new school shoes that can FINALLY be worn tomorrow!

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Goodbyes & The OC

Previously on the Brooke-C (my own real life version of the OC):

  • San Marcos school threw a good-bye party.
  • I received 26 key chains, 2 t-shirts, 4 snow globes and a porcelain dolphin.
  • We ate huge, overflowing plates of coconut rice & beans, chicken, tortillas and coleslaw- the staple Belizean meal.
  • We played volleyball all afternoon, teachers & parents vs. students
  • It was perfect
The dish-washing/kitchen cleaning committee:

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(She ran out of chips, plus she couldn’t play with the 409)

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The serving committee

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The eating committee

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“So, how do you feel about our government’s export of local wheat for ethanol production in the States?”

“Well, personally I think its a misappropriation of our local resources and puts us at a disadvantage.”

The surprise good-bye assembly

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My entire heart was in this school. It was a hard good-bye, though the porcelain dolphin and alligator snow globe made things easier.

In the meantime, after only one episode on a random Thursday last week, I came home to find the entire family addicted to The OC.

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When I went to sleep, Inez was watching. When I woke up, she was watching, when I left for school, she was watching. Then one day, Ricardo started watching, and then Bryon and Richard. I became sort of concerned when I walked into the kitchen one night to find the whole family, plus Mr. & Mrs. Cabb, deeply engrossed in whether or not Ryan and Marissa would end up together. I tried to pull the plug. There was a mild panic when the electricity went out for a few hours and Season 2 disc 6 was stuck in the DVD player…

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I love this family.