Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 23

Today's blog is going to sound kind of dumb. (Especially if you read it out loud. Don't do that. You weirdo.) Alas, I'm having some trouble thinking of something to be thankful for, because really, today is pretty laid back, and saving the "big one" for tomorrow.

Basically I had a few interesting opportunities today. It's the first official day of Thanksgiving break, and because my mentoring teacher was sick last Thursday I thought I'd go over to the middle school to make up those hours. So I woke up early with Joey and took the fastest shower in the history of showers. I bought myself Starbucks, and drove all the way up to Waukegan, just to find an empty parking lot.

I'm not too disappointed. Being with 7th graders all day would have been torture, because I'm pretty tired. However, I still felt reasonably silly, and it wasn't even 8 o'clock yet. (The time also meant that I couldn't do any of the other errands that need to be done today.)

So I drove to see Joey at work and tell him what happened, then went home and... took a long nap.

#23. I've found I'm thankful for being an adult. I'm grown up enough to "go the extra mile" (literally) to take care of things. I'm also grown up enough to decide to take advantage of the free time I'm given and rest when I need it. I'm thankful that driving up there for no reason didn't upset me.

Seriously. That sounds stupid. I got nothin'.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 16-22

Apparently I've been really busy, because I haven't blogged in a whole week. So I'm gonna make little short notes for each day because a story and a photo for 7 days is just a lot of work right now.

#16. Word games. Like Scrabble. Or Words With Friends on Facebook. I don't actually own a Scrabble board anymore so these games keep my brain word-ing and stuff.

#17. The ability to argue with one clear point, and to put up with people who like to bounce around a lot just to keep an argument going. Also, for patience with said people. Also also, for the car ride with said people to be over.

#18. Hymns. I went to a band concert on Friday night, in which all (most?) of the songs were based on hymns. They were beautiful, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

#19. For feet and legs that function, because I spent 50% of Saturday walking around Chicago, with no actual destination.

#20. For "new" sweaters (from Goodwill) that make me feel cozy and cuddly, and happen to be the perfect shade of green.

#21. Cancelled morning classes, and for good migraine medication.

And now, for today.

A little more than three years ago I was thrust into a friendship with a lovely girl in a dark red dress. It was summer time and I didn't have any friends in Illinois yet. We went to dinner and a coffeehouse together, and we've been best friends ever since.

#22. I've found that I'm thankful for my best friend Janell., (whose birthday is today!) Like all relationships, there have been rough spots and potholes, but we've persevered, in our own way, to the best of our ability. We make each other laugh and sometimes we laugh at other people, and sometimes, they laugh at us. (we are pretty freakin' hilarious.) She is beautiful inside and out, and I love her all the way to my toes! She is such a blessing in my life.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 14 & 15

I've been doing a lot of "future planning" lately in regards to school. I don't want to go into details--mostly because I've been talking about it all day, and also because it seems to only make me more frustrated. When you get down to the real truth about my school life, it is complex, more complex than it is for the average college student. Now, I never say to myself "I wish I had a different major" or "I should have gone to a different school." Yes, I do wish it was simpler. But I know that there is a purpose to all of this, and that when it's over, I will hopefully get to do something meaningful with my life.

#14. I've found that I'm thankful for my academic adviser. She has been an endless source of help and friendship the last four years. She is supportive and encouraging, but she is also genuinely interested in making me the student and the person I should be. She tells me the truth, even if it royally sucks. I could not have picked a better person to help me through the process of getting my BA. She is such a blessing!

#15. I've found that I'm thankful for people that are "kind of" my friends. These are the people that have been in my classes, in groups I'm in, etc. These people brighten my day when I'm not around my "best" friends. They greet me in the halls, or off-campus, and during class they talk to me like I'm a normal person. They're not awkward. They laugh at my jokes. And today, when I was feeling angry and frustrated about some school-related things, they listened to me vent, and shared their own similar frustrations. The conversation seriously improved my mood.

I have no idea what I'll be thankful for tomorrow. It's a Wednesday. Somehow, when I first typed that, I forgot that days of the week were capitalized. The "English major" side of my brain is apparently tired. I'm gonna go doodle or something.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 12 & 13

It's been a long weekend, and I still have an abundance of math homework to finish, so I will be brief. So brief, in fact, that I am combining Saturday and Sunday.

#12 & #13: I've found I'm thankful for my friends. Since getting married it's been difficult to find free time to be with people in a relaxed setting. Last week I had one-on-one time with my best friend for the first time since August. I no longer have a meal plan, so I eat my meals in the apartment (alone, if Joey is at work) and I live on a floor with few familiar faces and no common living area. This weekend I got to spend time with some people dear and close to my heart. I'm thankful for their willingness to laugh with me and walk around aimlessly, and to be silly and carefree in a time when much "professionalism" dominates my behavior.

I'm especially thankful for trips to the pet store to watch sleeping puppies, trips to the thrift store to find... who knows what?... and of course, trips to new places where we can buy food like this:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 11

For the 11th of November, there is an obvious theme. It's been a theme set in stone since 1911 when the first great war ended.

It's so obvious that even in Waukegan, a town full of people who are unlikely to be found voting or planting tiny flags at a local cemetery, the students are found thankful for veterans.

Since public schools were closed on Friday I got to witness the Veterans Day celebration on Thursday when I entered the classroom. The students had an adorable worksheet for homework on the history of Veterans Day / Armistice Day, and they all read their answers proudly. Then the teacher and her son--a senior in high school who was either skipping class or had the day off--told a story about their cousin, who had been a marine and went to Iraq and was inevitably changed forever.

The personal story helped the students prepare for the day's assignment, which was to write a postcard for the local veterans. Mrs. G and her son would deliver them to a local Veterans Hospital after school.

For the next hour I helped 7th graders write these postcards, and if the spelling was mostly correct they were allowed to color/decorate the back. A few of the postcards made me catch my breath. It's amazing how someone who has no connection to a soldier can understand how much those in the military have done for us.

I have a favorite student, who shall remain unnamed. He's not my favorite because he's perfect, or well-behaved, or funny, but because there is a kindness in him that the rest of the teachers just don't see. There is something good in him that I feel is being stifled.

His was my favorite letter, and probably the best written. The words were sincere, and eloquently written for a 7th grader, and at the end, he wrote out the Pledge of Allegiance. As I sat there reading his postcard, my peripheral vision caught the nervousness in his posture, and I felt my whole face warm up with emotion. The smile he gave me when I told him how good the letter was, and how much I liked it, was something I can't describe.

#11. I've found I'm thankful for Veterans Day, and for veterans, more now than ever. I'm thankful that we still find it important in this country to honor those who have fought overseas--whether or not we agree with the war, whether or not we we know a soldier, whether or not we know how to spell "appreciate." (1 student spelled it "arpyshat"...) I'm thankful that this generation and the next one are being encouraged to thank those who made sacrifices for the freedom of America, even if it means writing a letter to a stranger.

Most of all I'm thankful for my own veterans. My brother, my father, my grandfathers, and my uncles.

In the foreground is my paternal grandfather's grave, in the background my father and brother. (And my dog. She loves veterans too.)

[photo taken by Becky Foutz 11/11/11]

Friday, November 11, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 10

Yesterday in my Race & Ethnicity class we were talking about "white privilege." We had a guest speaker, Dr. Perry Downs, and while he didn't touch much on the actual topic of white privilege (I also found it odd that like 90% of the non-white students decided not to come to class) he did say some things about his family that touched me. He and his wife have two biological and two adopted daughters, and over the years they had about 30 foster children.

My paternal grandparents had a foster home during the 80s, and (this number might not be right) I believe they had a few hundred foster children over the years. They adopted three children from the Philippines.

I had a feeling that Dr. Downs knew them. In sixth grade I met a life-long friend whose family also had foster kids, and he said he'd met my grandfather as well. He described him with details--including the handlebar mustache. When I asked Dr. Downs at the end of class if he'd ever met George and Virginia Foutz, he said yes, and I was not surprised.

#10. I've found I'm thankful for my grandparents. I might add in my maternal grandparents on a different day but now I just want to talk about George and Virgina. I'm thankful not just for their years of service, for all the hard work that went into having a foster home, but for the immense love that they shared with every child they met. They were such loving people. They lived with their hearts and their arms and their eyes open. They were adventurous and faithful. I miss them so much... but I am thankful for their lives, and for what they taught me.

Click here and you can see The Open Gate Ranch (their foster home) and what it looks like now. :)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 9

A little over a year ago I was sitting in Melton Hall waiting to donate blood, when Danny Martin walked in. He looked agitated, and worried, which he later mentioned was because of his fear of blood. (Or needles? I don't remember.) He had called me a little earlier to inform me that he had something "important" to talk about. He sat down and asked in an anxious voice, "I have a proposition for you." Until that moment, I thought I was in trouble. I thought he was going to tell me we couldn't be friends for some awful reason, or that I wasn't good enough to be on the yearbook team, and then...

He offered me the job of Copy Editor. The previous person in the position had resigned, and since I had expressed interest in the paid yearbook positions, it was mine if I wanted it--which I did.

#9. I've found I'm thankful for my job. It's a lot of work for not much pay, but it's absolutely worth the effort. Last year was really difficult because we had a lot of catching up to do. But I love the writing and the editing, and I love the people I've worked with. My team this semester is small, but we're way ahead of schedule so our meetings are comfortable and relaxed. I'm thankful that they're willing to work so hard, and I'm thankful for all the people over the last year who have offered their information for articles.

I am also extremely thankful for the other editors. Danny, Emily, Adam and Krista are all incredible people and I've enjoyed working with them. We create memories--for ourselves, and for the university--and we do it beautifully.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 8

Myself and the month of November. We're the kind of friends that like each other in a very distant way, because we seem to separate each other from what we really want--like snow and winter, or family, or love. I usually spend the month by myself, apart from that glorious thing called Thanksgiving.

I have debated for a few days now on when I should express my gratitude for my husband. And then, like a sudden rise in temperature, I am warmed by the thought that I'm not spending November by myself.

Joey and I have never been together in the autumn. We've been together for over two years, and aside from a brief trip home in November 2009 (during which I saw him for about half an hour and then had the worst Thanksgiving of my life), we've never seen each other in this beautiful season. We have spent Christmases together and summers and I've even flown home for spring break. [Once, he took the train to visit me in Chicago. It was technically spring, I think. But the snow would've suggested otherwise.]

I thought about this in the summer, after the wedding, and was exhilarated by the possibilities fall brings.

#8. I've found I'm thankful for my husband. I'm thankful for the joy he brings me every day. For the way we share laughter, sadness, and adventure. I'm thankful for how hard he works, and how willing he is to take care of me when my college stress overlaps with married life stress. I'm thankful for the free food he brings home from Panera. I'm thankful that we're both in one place, not 2000 miles apart, and that we can spend this season together. I'm thankful for the love we have, for the warmth in him, and for what a blessing he is to me.

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 6 & 7

It is in these early morning hours before class that I forget myself, or remember myself, and chide myself on forgetting to do this 2 days in a row. I admit it. I am feeling the mid-semester exhaustion which happens but twice a year. (The other half coming in March. And we all know how much I love March.)

#6. I've found I'm thankful for my Sunday afternoon prayer group. I got there early this week, so I stopped at a little park just past the house and took some photos. There were willow trees and a rippling pond (or small lake? I never know about these things in Illinois.) After I had quieted myself in nature for a good ten minutes, I went back to the house. And while it is impolite, and improper, to divulge the details of this group, I will say this: It's a wonderful gift to be surrounded by loving people in both joys, and sorrows.

#7. I've found I'm thankful for my schedule this semester. I'm usually stuck with classes before chapel, and classes right after. This causes a lack of eating lunch. Not eating lunch three days a week for four months straight can really take a toll on a person. This semester, I have large spaces of time between each class. Yesterday, Joey and I took an hour nap before my 2:15 class. It was cozy and restful, and much needed. Oh, how I love naps.

Perhaps #8 later. The day has only just begun.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 4 & 5

I gave myself a haircut yesterday. I've been trimming my own bangs, well, since I got them in high school. (and no, the time I cut my own hair when I was 5 does not count.) This is the second time I've done the whole thing, layers and all, without any help. I've also now given Joey 3 complete haircuts, and he'll probably need another one in a few weeks.

There are 2 reasons that I cut my own hair, and Joey's hair. The first is that it's a lot less expensive than going to a salon or even to a friend who knows how to cut hair. Why spend $10-20 when I can do it myself for free? (plus Joey makes a joke every time I cut his hair. "I'm the only man I know that gets to kiss his barber." Ha.)

The second reason it's certainly more adventurous. If it looks stupid, I can only blame myself. If it looks awesome, then I feel more awesome than I would have if I'd gotten a professional cut.

And there's a third reason! Someday, when I have kids, I will hopefully be skilled enough to cut their hair. At least until they decide they want something crazy done, and then they can pay for it themselves.

So for November 4th, (4.) I've found I'm thankful for these hair cutting scissors that my mother sent me in August. They are useful for all of the reasons above.

(no, I am not actually cutting my hair in the photo. Who cuts their hair in front of a webcam?)

Also, I like my haircut.

And now for today's topic. Hopefully after this I will be able to keep up with the daily posts.

I wasn't sure what to do for today. I went to a clothing swap this morning, so I considered talking more about the Trinity community and how I'm thankful for people who share. Sharing is great! But... not what I want to talk about.

I also discovered that today is Art Garfunkel's 70th birthday. I've probably loved Simon & Garfunkel since I was in the womb. One of my first favorite songs was 'Bright Eyes' from one of Art Garfunkel's solo albums. My dad told me that it was written, or related to, the book Watership Down. They made a movie out of the book, which I found slightly horrible as a child. I also tried to read the book, and didn't like it much either. But the song I loved, and the artist I loved.

5. I've found I'm thankful for Art Garfunkel, and all the music he and Paul Simon have made over the years.

Doesn't he look a little like Dr. Graddy? You know it's true.

Now, click this link to listen to 'Bright Eyes' and watch a bunny movie. I mean, a montage from the Watership Down movie. (Don't worry, the song is worth it, if you hate bunnies or something.)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 3

I meant to post this last night, but I found myself exhausted at the end of the day. I'll explain why.

On Thursday nights, a group of students at my university go into the city to visit refugee families. These families come from all over the world. Mine in particular came from Burma. We first met them just 2 days after they arrived in Chicago. They are a husband, wife, daughter, and the wife's younger sister. The daughter is three years old, and is probably learning English the fastest, and usually takes up most of the time we spend in their home. We don't do anything productive, really. They bring us apples and make us tea and my partner and I (everyone goes with partner to visit a family) usually bring something fun, like cards. Yesterday I brought PlayDo.

This is not my favorite thing to do on Thursday nights. Thursdays are long days that start with co-teaching 7th graders for about 4 hours, then some classes, then maybe dinner. We leave for the city at 5:30, and get back at about 9:30 or 10. Thus, when finally returned to my apartment, all I wanted was sleep.

It's also not my favorite thing because--believe it or not--people who don't speak English and don't have anything in common with you are hard to have conversations with! The wife is a little younger than I am, so I'm sure if she knew the right words we could talk about shopping or the weather. But the husband doesn't talk much at all, and the sister is 13 and not interested in much of anything, that I can tell. The three-year-old, whom we have nicknamed Tessy, dominates almost all social interactions. She's loud and crazy. She makes it less awkward.

And I know it's worth it.

3. I've found I'm thankful for programs like the one I'm in, so that I can go and be with people who have no friends, no connections, no comfort. I'm thankful that I was born in a country where I'm free to speak my mind and be passionate about my faith. I'm thankful I don't need to be afraid of being kicked out of my own country for supporting the wrong religion or the wrong politician. And I'm thankful to live in a world where there will always be people to help others in need--even if that need is only friendship.

(#4 Later...)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Found(ation of) Gratitude: 1 & 2

Starting today, I'm going to list something I'm thankful for every day of November. I was going to post it all in Facebook statuses, but that limits my words. And then, I found this.

I made this paper heart in 5th grade, November 1999. It had been a mostly good year for my family (so far.) I don't remember my brothers fighting with my parents. Everybody seemed to be happy, or at least outwardly content, and they tolerated each other. I went to Disneyland that summer (a lifelong dream), and also got an American Girl doll for my birthday in August. And in 5th grade, you could be in band, so I had a shiny new flute that I was learning to play, although I gave up on it in the spring.

I didn't write down that I was thankful for my teacher, but I was. Ms. Trudeau was my favorite teacher, at least until I got to high school. She was full of love and life and creativity, and was always encouraging me to be as artistic as possible. She read all the first drafts of the first novels I wrote. (yep. I was that young when I caught the bug.) And her favorite shape was the heart--thus, the heart-shaped project, which has led to (hopefully) month-long inspiration.

Since I forgot to do this yesterday, I have 2 things to be thankful for today.

#1. I've found I'm thankful for education. I am thankful for the teachers I've been with, good and bad, and for the things I have learned even when I thought I wasn't learning. I'm thankful for the classrooms I've been in as an "almost teacher" and for my mentors in those classrooms, and for the middle schoolers that keep me on my toes. I'm thankful for the ability to learn. I'm thankful for the ability to teach.

#2. I've found I'm thankful for the Trinity Security officers. I left my keys on my desk when I left the apartment today. As class was ending I had a feeling that I'd forgotten something, but figured I would remember it when I got home. Well, I did remember it, when I couldn't get up the elevator, let alone onto my floor or into my apartment. Joey is working until about 5 o'clock today, therefore I would have had to wait around for 2 hours. That didn't seem like a good idea. So I called TIU Security, which I keep in my phone contacts for security reasons, and a few minutes later someone showed up to let me in. Sure, it was an awkward trip up the elevator. But I'm thankful that I'm sitting here at my desk drinking tea instead of withering away in the lounge downstairs, with nothing to read but Lord Byron's Manfred.

More tomorrow. I promise. I will probably come back to the heart project, and touch on some of the things in there. Definitely books, and my family. Probably not Disneyland.