Sunday, January 31, 2010


At this point, it appears as though I will be a resident of Minnesota for only a year [future plans are not set in stone, but Colorado seems to be calling my name next]. In this year, I am determined to discover all that is Minnesota. I expect my adventures to pick up once I have thawed out of these frozen months, but even so, these are my favorites thus far.

Monday, January 18, 2010

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." MLK

Together with other Wilder Foundation AmeriCorps Promise Fellows, I took four of my kids from Roosevelt to Central High School's Martin Luther King, Jr. Rally and March.

I was hoping for some really great pics from any number of Twin Cities News Stations, but it turns out the Vikings' game on Sunday makes for better news than one of the most historical men in history. Sorry, Brett Favre, but you have nothing on MLK. Here's a story I managed to find from the Star Tribune.

It was a cold and early morning, but in the middle of the march, G looked at me and said, "Hey, this is actually fun."

"Everyone can be great because everyone can serve."
After the march we all gathered at Wilder for pizza and scarf-making. Since 1994, MLK Day has been a Day of Service, so we decided to make scarves for the Jeremiah Program, serving in St. Paul.

All in all, it was a whole lot more fun than watching TV at home and at least for me, another "awe-ha" moment [a popular Ndub vocare term]. I want to work to end to hopelessness, inequality and injustice. I want love to illuminate in this world, in this country, in this state, in this city...and specifically now, with these children.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Canada and King

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." MLK, Jr.

Last night, Target gave all of the Twin Cities the opportunity to hear Geoffrey Canada speak as part of Martin Luther King, Day events. Gathered in the Basilica of St. Mary, we had the opportunity to be inspired.

[There are tons of clips I could show you of Mr. Canada, he's been on Oprah, 60 Minutes, you name it, but I'm choosing this one because if Stephen Colbert can't help but give you a thumbs up, you know you are legit. ]

Now more than ever I believe the ideas and concepts of Geoffrey Canada need to be the next steps of America. I could go on and on, but I think he speaks enough for these programs and ideals that he doesn't need my two cents worth.

For me, the most refreshing part of hearing Mr. Canada was his humility and genuine desire, no, demand, for positive progression. More often than ever, in this political climate, we hear great ideas drown in rhetoric abhorring or blaming or diminishing the "other side". We spend more time pointing out what's wrong with the system and far less time making room for ideas that seek to correct our failures. Certainly, Mr. Canada points out the system's failings, but he does not place blame or attack any situation, instead, he uses the traumatic numbers of the prison system to say that if we are capable of creating such a large system of negativity, then let us reverse and create an even larger system of educational equality and positivity.

Even more, Mr. Canada's "talk" doesn't include references to his own life, his own struggles and subsequent success. He speaks only to the picture of sincere change he's working towards. So often "inspirational" speakers choose to focus on the negativity they left behind, but Mr. Canada focuses solely on where we're going and how we're going to get there.

...and that is truly inspirational.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Snowed in...again.

I have one of the steepest driveways into my garage that you can imagine. On other days, I was certain that it was a heated slope, but this morning proved otherwise. As I wait for maintenance to scoop and gravel, I figured I'd fill you in on my Christmas happenings.

I left straight from work on Tuesday evening to avoid the weather that would sweep across the Midwest on Wednesday. I don't love driving in the dark, but my iPod kept me good company and there wasn't much for blowing snow except for a patch between Worthington and Sheldon. I got home and hunkered down for what was going to be a very white Christmas.

The snow came late Wednesday evening and didn't stop until Saturday morning. Unfortunately, this meant that our two great aunts wouldn't be coming for Christmas dinner and, like many other churches in the area, our Christmas Eve service was cancelled. Luckily, Dad and I had ventured out to stock up on movies, so we filled the void with a 2009 great, Up. For the rest of those snowy days we played games like Farkel and Ninety-Nine or Bust, Jenna and I took turns reading Unlikely Disciple, watched a lot of The Office, Jenna baked a fabulous cake, we ate peanut brittle and fudge, sledded down the driveway, attempted to make snow angels in four feet of snow, and took walks around our snowy and virtually motionless town. Our tradition of Christmas Day Evening with the Carlson's survived, so with good wine and soup we played a rousing game of Telephone Pictionary and Apples to Apples. Even though Christmas was certainly unusual this year, it gave us quality time with family (something you can never have too much of).

With cabin fever looming, I was able to set up dinners and coffee for the next week with some of the most fabulous OC people. I got to spend time with with my closest friends from high school, have coffee with a high school co-worker on break from law school, meet with a friend who got engaged over break, have lunch with a college roommate on break from Duke, get supper with a friend back to start student teaching, and get breakfast with friend in town from Madison. For New Year's I ventured down to Omaha for a 2007-2008 RA Reunion. We filled our time with shopping, cooking, laughing and celebrating the new year with other Northwestern friends. I also got to see LJ for a couple hours before she headed to Lincoln when we ran into another dear friend unexpectedly at DSW. All in all, I look back on break and think I could have gotten a lot more done (there are many applications to be filled out for grad school), but the social emphasis was just what I needed. Being surrounded by people you love and taking time to talk about life and encourage one another is one of the best Christmas presents I could receive and a fabulous way to start 2010.

So Cheers! to 2010, may you be full of exciting adventures, joyful reunions and unexpected blessings.

...but please, stop with all the snow.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

I survived the Holidays, now I should fill you in.

I've never been a New Year's Resolution person, but if I was, I would tell you that it's my resolution to update more regularly. Resolutioned or not, I promise not to be so MIA this next month.

To begin, I better update you on our Holiday happenings at Youth Connections. Many of our days were filled with snowflake making, Santa Claus coloring,
gingerbread house decorating, sugar cookie frosting, writing letters to Santa and Mrs. Claus, Selena Gomez, and Hannah Montana, sledding, and seeing Cinderella at the Children's Theatre.

Thanks to my grandma Josie, my sister, and my parents, my kids got new mechanical pencils (a real hit), candy canes, hot wheel cars, fingernail polish, lip gloss, playdough, Yahtzee!, and Monopoly to help celebrate the season. There is nothing better than the squeals of children upon receiving a shiny new toy or sugary treat.
It's safe to say that many of my kids didn't drown in wrapping paper on Christmas morning, but the stories leading up to Christmas Day assured me that they, too, felt the joys of the holiday season, on both the consumer and spiritual level. Most days the kids gushed with stories of the Christmas baskets or Toys for Tots gifts they received. A local church set up an "Adopt a Family" program for the Christmas season, but instead of bragging about the gifts they got, the kids mostly wanted to tell me about the families who gave them the gift. For them, the coolest thing was meeting their adopted family. I truly believe it takes a village to raise a child, and that includes presents at Christmas. So with that, a belated and heartfelt thank you to those who donated to the Salvation Army Bell Ringer, Toys for Tots, Angel Tree gifts, your local food pantry and all other such organizations. The happiness I witnessed was the best gift I could have asked for this season.

Coming soon...Snowed in for an Iowa Christmas.