Saturday, August 31, 2013

The More You Know (A Brief 'About Me')

I am fascinated by geography. 

I love to play geography games on Sporcle: name the countries on the various continents, name all of the countries in the world. (I also play a math game on my phone in my spare let's call a spade a spade, I'm a total nerd.)

The idea of Pangea is incredibly intriguing to me. A super continent that is believed to have existed during the Mesozoic Era? All of the continents fitting together like a puzzle? Seriously, so cool.

So, obviously, I was really excited to study this map of Pangea (with current international borders) when I saw it this week.

While we're being honest: what's the nerdiest thing about you?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Ten Things I've Learned In The Last Ten Years

In 2003, I spent four months studying abroad in London.

Since I had spent my first two years at a local community college, this was my first time away from home.

I learned a lot: how to travel internationally on my own, navigate the underground system, grocery shop in a city--without a car, do laundry...(yes, my mom did my laundry until I was 20)

About a week ago I got a message from a few of the people from that trip, asking if we'd like to have a reunion. A TEN YEAR reunion.

It's been ten years since I lived in London--my first real grown-up experience--which means it has been a decade since I took my first steps toward adulthood. Wowza.

Since that day, the reality of the length of time has sunk in. And now, I keep thinking about how much has changed since I hugged my parents goodbye in the airport--in my red sweatpants and New Balance running shoes (my how much has changed)--and took off on this incredible life-changing adventure.

I can't stop thinking about how different 30-year-old Allison is from 20-year-old Allison.

And so, I thought I would start a series...
The Ten Things I've Learned in the Last Ten Years

So, stay tuned, I suppose...
I promise you'll be rewarded with a ridiculous photo from that time in my life.
(I have 3000 photos--mounted over two scrapbooks--to choose from)

Also: be thinking! I'd love to know what big life lessons you learned in your twenties.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

35 by 35: A List in the Making

I completed nearly all of the items on my 30 by 30 List (this is the most recent update; I suppose I need to write a final recap.) and so, I've begun my 35 by 35 List.

I currently have 29 items (if only I were turning 30, my list would be almost done!)

Here is my list, thus far:

35 by 35

1. Record the life stories of all four grandparents
2. Travel to 15 never-before-visited states
3. Visit the Rose Bowl Flea Market
4. Raise $1000 for charity: water
5. Write 365 notes in 365 days
7. Do the splits both ways
8. Read 40 books
9. See 25 bands play live
10. Participate in the freeing of a child slave
11. Learn to drive a stick-shift
12. Create "memorable childhood moments" for kids in my life
13. Travel to 2 never-before-visited countries
16. Complete 60 DIY projects
17. Be in a photo shoot
19. Write a song
20. Read the Complete Works of Shakespeare
21. Address a set of envelopes in beautiful calligraphy
22. Camp 
23. Hike to the Hollywood sign
24. Watch every Hitchcock movie 
25. Complete a Color Run
26.  Speak conversational Swahili
27. Host an outdoor movie night
28. Spend 52 days unplugged (one day a week for a year)
31. Take OT and NT classes
32. Watch 3 new TV series
33. Record a Christmas album
34. Buy a domain for my blog

35. Have coffee with Bob Goff


I'd love to hear what you would add...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Three Girls and A Campsite: A Night That Proves I'm Not As Tough As I Think I Am

We did it, guys! We packed up the car, pitched a tent, chopped some wood and crossed something off my list--all in one night!

A few months ago, I mentioned to my roommate, friend and neighbor (who loves to camp) that I may by up for a little outdoorsy adventure. How about a night of beach camping, I suggested.

My roommate, Dre, made the reservations and borrowed an incredible amount of camping gear from her family. We practiced setting up the tent in our backyard last week. I was able to attach my side of the tent poles before she could and I declared, several times: "I'm so good at camping!" (She was not amused.)

The last time I went camping, I was a Girl Scout. I was about 9-years old and joined the troop because of my love for standing outside of the grocery store selling cookies (seriously). When we went camping in O'Neill Park, I was so terrified (of attacks: both man and mountain lion) that I slept in the back of a minivan instead of in a tent. Needless to say, I was only a Girl Scout for the one year.

Aside from that evening and many, many summer and winter camps--and a few Mexico trips--I've never really been camping.

That is, until last night.

We went to San Onofre Campgrounds (which is not exactly beach-side camping--it's more freeway-adjacent than beach-side) and began to set-up for our adventure. 

Dre and I quickly set-up the tent and hammered in spikes

While Dre inflated air mattresses and unrolled sleeping bags, I broke up a few wooden pallets for kindling. (see photos below)

Our campsite was ready to what?

Check out the view from the beach paths, of course.

We sat and read our books, waiting for Cathi to arrive (with McDonald's.) After eating our mid-afternoon snacks and chatting for a few minutes, we decided to make a run for more snacks. (So far, we're not so good at this whole camping thing.)

With more snacks, we sat around and laughed while we waited for it to get dark. There was an incident with a stinkbug, which began our interaction with the neighbors (a family of five--three daughters) and, later, a, not-so-shockingly, we screamed more than those three girls did.

At some point, it was cold enough to require some jackets. And, with nothing else to do, we decided it must be time to light the fire. (By the way, we packed a salad for dinner, so there was no need to do any grilling...this is what happens when you camp with a vegetarian--and a rookie.)

Our lighter didn't work, so we had to borrow one from the neighbors. (Again, we're really good at this.) Dre got the fire going!

We celebrated by walking away from our lit fire to check out the sunset.

 We returned to find long pieces of burning wood on the ground near our pit.
Sorry, Smokey.

Since we burned through my initial pallet-smash stash really quickly, we had to work together to add to it. (We also needed way more wood than we had, with our decision to start our fire before the sun had fully set.)

The girls tried for a bit, but couldn't break any pieces.

So I jumped back in. But, at the rate I was going--we were racing the sunset--and with the amount of fire-required time remaining, we decided to give up and just go buy a bundle of firewood from the front gate.

But not before asking the neighboring mom to take a photo of us.
(If it's not on Instagram, it didn't happen, right?)

Check it out! A roaring fire.
Perfect for some Bailey's S'mores.

Dre's sister let us borrow an amazing lantern which breaks apart in to four separate flashlights. We unintentionally set them up on the table, so it looked like an LED light show. (I made a Catalyst joke, obviously.)

Around 9:30, we moved in to our tent to read for a little while. I'm reading the new Pessl book (which is really good so far). By 10, both the girls were asleep and I kept reading until my book was too scary to read in a dark campground. (It's worth noting that I brought both a whistle and mace in case of attacks during mid-night restroom imagination is still as wild as it was when I was nine.)

We slept off-and-on, depending on how loud the traffic was (and, of course, the Amtrak schedule), but had a great (and totally safe--attack-free) night!

This morning we listened as the neighbor girls ran back and forth with bowls of cereal, shut one another out of the tent (alternating fights and tears--classic sisters) and squealed about the jumping dolphins they could see from the mound behind our campsites. They were adorable.

We packed up and headed out. Stopping for some breakfast burritos and huge coffees. Came home for long warm showers and some naps.

All-in-all, camping was fun...but a lot of work...

I suppose a lot of that work was due to our lack of experience. If we brought some pre-chopped wood, a working lighter, and some evening activities, I'd imagine it would only be more enjoyable. I think I'd be willing to give it a try!

Friday, August 23, 2013

The More You Know (A Brief 'About Me')

I talk to myself.

This is something that I have known to be true for quite some time now, but I don't think I realized just how frequently it happens--or the severity of the issue--until a few weeks ago.

Arriving at work in the morning (across a parking lot and a up three stories in an elevator...judge me, my purse is super heavy) realizing when I sit down at my desk that I can't be certain if I've been singing out loud (or only in my head) for that six(ish) minutes.

After three minutes of sitting nearby, a high school student sitting in my office says to me (with an eye roll): "yeah, I read texts out loud to myself too..."

On more than one occasion I have left Target thinking, "There's a strong chance that I just audibly listed my way through those last few aisles: 'I have detergent, and plenty of dryer sheets. I don't need toothpaste...four sixty-five?! what?!'" (this I'm pretty sure happened in a fake British accent. Yep, I'm that ridiculous--I think aloud, make lists, speak to myself in a fake accent) That poor small child on the aisle with wonder he kept looking at me as he walked away.

I'm assuming this is a sign that I'm getting old. Or that I'm rapidly becoming absolutely bonkers.

Either way, I can't imagine how much worse it will be in fifty years.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Workin' On My Night Film

I'm very, very excited for Marisha Pessl's sophomore novel, Night Film.
Her first novel, Special Topics in Calamity Physics is without-a-doubt one of my favorite books ever.

I pre-ordered my copy...
You should, too.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Summer Camp & Students {Old and New}

Last week was a great one. I spent the week with fourteen of the greatest teenagers and several of my favorite friends at Summer Camp in Williams, AZ.

These girls were so fun: super adventurous {many of them zip-lined, swung and were blobbed all in one afternoon}, hilariously fun {dance parties--and instructionals--each evening}, and incredibly vulnerable {each willing to share life stories and struggles with both me and their cabin-mates.}

Another highlight of the week was watching several of my old students {two from twelve years ago and many from two years ago} interact with their students at camp. One of my old students was running the camp--she killed it, obviously. 

I remember how bonkers I was twelve years ago, {and, well, I'm aware that I am still pretty cuckoo's nest} so it is amazing to see that--despite my chaos--these girls deeply love Jesus and are choosing to be part of the lives of students in hope that now and years from now they, too, will be people who seek to follow Him.

On the last morning, Dom and I took a short break from chapel rehearsal to sing one of our favorite duets. My friend Jenny caught it on video.

Some old Camp Posts:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Saturday, August 03, 2013

A Little Love For

In effort to reach one of the goals on my Go Mighty List, on Thursday evening, I bought my very own domain from I honestly had no idea what I was doing, but it was so cheap ($0.99!) I thought, Why not?!

So I made the purchase. In fact, I bought two, just in case.

But when I tried to link the new URL to my blog, I couldn't figure it I gave up. Well, first I sent an email to a friend asking for his help...and then I gave up.

Yesterday, a rep from GoDaddy called to ask if I had any questions following my purchase. I told her about my issue linking the two sites and while we were on the phone, she sent me a link with step-by-step instructions to make it happen. She laughed when she saw my new URL on file, "Oh, I like that! That's clever!" and then told me to call back if I had any trouble or needed help with anything else.

I know this sounds like a sponsored post, but I can guarantee that this blog is nowhere near cool enough for sponsored posts; I just wanted to share what a great customer service experience I had with this company...and let you know that I'm one step closer to a non-blogspot URL and a full-on blog redesign!

So mom, Erin (my two readers!)--get excited...there are many more posts to come.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Taylor Swift Just Gets Me

I'd like to be someone who is described as having really great taste in music. Which I'd imagine to mean I could set my iTunes on shuffle, plug it in, and wander around the party with my head held high. "Yeah, this is my library you're listening to." I'd think to myself.

However, based on the fact that I have said the title of this post on several occasions--always aware it would sound like a joke, but never meaning it as such--I'd imagine that, in a real-life iTunes/party scenario, I would carry myself with a little less confidence.

But it doesn't make it any less true: Taylor Swift just gets me. Seriously.
She gets me--she understands me and she gets me--she gets to me.

To prove my point, {as if anyone needed me to} here is a brief list of TSwift lyrics that never fail to reduce me to tears*:

Go ahead, name that tune...

  • "In your life you'll do things greater than dating the boy on the football team..."
  • "Don't make her drop you off around the block, remember that she's getting older too..."
  • "Who you are is not who you've been..."
  • "So here's to the birthday boy who saved our lives"
  • "He knelt to the ground and pulled out a ring and said..." {though, I think the key change there adds to the emotional manipulation}
*It should be noted I am, what could be described as, "somewhat of a crybaby." When I did a search of old posts to use as examples of how easily I tear-up I found 50 posts which include the word "tears" and 62 which include the word "cry" {though, cry baby is only used 5 times, including this post.} But, okay, this is over-the-top.