Friday, November 30, 2012

An Advent to Remember

Finally, finally, finally December is here (or, at least in less than an hour and a half)! And with December comes so many wonderful things-- cookies, Santa, snow... and Advent calendars! 

I love Advent calendars. Way before John deployed-- and by way before, I mean last Christmas-- I started thinking about what I could do to make December less awful for him. The only logical answer was an  Advent calendar. What could be better? There's something to look forward to every single day!

It took me almost a month to put the box together-- which was why John didn't get a Thanksgiving package from me. (I promised him it would be worth it... so here's hoping it is!).

The Advent box consisted of four main things: a poem that I glued around the inside of the box, 24 wrapped and numbered packages,  a Don't Blame Jo for These Awful Christmas Songs CD (compiled by Rachel and more on that later), and a cut-out Christmas tree.

Rachel helped me with the rhyme (because she's funnier and much more creative than I). The photo is a bit hard to read-- I didn't realize it until I had posted the boxes. So if you're squinting, here it is: 

I'm sending you a Christmas tree
To tack up on your wall.
It's just cut out of paper,
I didn't find it at the mall.

The rest are tiny presents
Labeled one to twenty-four
Just  one wrapped-up surprise a day
So December's not a bore.

 This box is filled with presents,
Yes, there are presents in a pile.
But the best one comes in just six weeks:
I get to see you smile! 

So like a happy, little mouse
Who finds a box of cheeses,
Merry Christmas to you, John
And, Happy Birthday, Jesus! 

Because John doesn't have a lot of room in his barracks, I didn't know if he'd be able to put up a Christmas tree if I sent him one. Instead, I bought green wrapping paper and cut out a paper tree for him. What's more space-economical than a paper Christmas tree? Nothing, that's what!
The tree is about four feet tall. I sketched out an outline on the back of the wrapping paper free hand. Then, I just folded it and put it at the very bottom of the box in an attempt to keep it from wrinkling too much. 

So, here's an Advent surprise for you! For the month of December, I'll be blogging about the craft or item in John's Advent calendar. If it's a craft, I'll supply the directions and templates! Check back daily to find out what's next on Jo, My Gosh!'s...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Why Panera Has My Business

This deployment has really forced me to remind myself how kind people can be.  I love believing the best in people-- I'm an inner city school teacher. I couldn't do my job if I didn't believe that people are generally good. 

But time and time again in the past 5 1/2 months, I have been surprised and humbled (I know I say "humbled" a lot, but truly, there is no other descriptor) by the generosity and kindness of others. 

My sisters and I stopped at a Panera for lunch last Sunday. Afterwards, we (of course) stopped at the bakery counter. I ordered those delicious pumpkin pie and cranberry walnut bagels with the intent of sending them to John as a surprise.

Because I talk about John incessantly to anyone who has ears and wants to listen for half a second, I told Andrea, the cashier, that I'd be trying to send them to Afghanistan. "Oh, wow. That's a new one," she said.

She handed me my bag and said, "I threw in a cookie. Let me know if it makes it there okay." I thanked her, smiled, paid the bill and went on my happy way.

In the car, I discovered that she had given me two extra bagels and not one cookie, but a dozen.

For some, the gesture may have been small, but this random act of kindness was absolutely epic. It's easy to feel forgotten by the larger world during a deployment, especially since it so often feels like time is standing still and that everyone else is carrying on with their lives. The kindness and generosity of spirit that Andrea exhibited reminded me that so many people are pulling for each other-- regardless of the situation. What a wonderfully poignant reminder of the goodness of people.

(And by the way, the bagels made it to John fresh, albeit a little smooshed from my vacuum sealer.)

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

#64 is Complete!

There's not too much narrative to this post. First, there's just not much to say, and second, I've got a ton of lesson plans to write before Thanksgiving Break ends!

This weekend, I accomplished #64 on my list. I attended every PSU football game (with the exception of one), and I got a picture with my sisters before each game!

If you haven't picked up on it just yet, my family is full of die-hard Penn State alums, and more specifically, Blue Band alums, so this wasn't a difficult thing to check off the list. But I wanted to make sure that I did, in fact, get to every game possible and get pictures since I don't know where I'll be next year. Or, more importantly, if I'll be able to cheer on my youngest sister.

But this year, I did. And here's the proof! 

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Filling You in on Filling

If you're not from Central Pennsylvania, there's a good chance you've never heard the hallowed words, "potato filling," before. 

I'm so sorry if you're not Pennsylvania Dutch;some people are just born lucky, I guess. And mostly, those of us who are PA Dutch are lucky because of one single, solitary food. 

Yes, shoo-fly pie is delicious. Some people like pickled red beets. I was raised on Lebanon bologna and American cheese sandwiches. There's chicken rivel soup and all kinds of pot pies to salivate over. 

But let's talk about the king of them all.

Potato filling. 

Potato filling is a delicious mix of potatoes (what else?), bread, butter, celery, onions, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. Humble ingredients, yes, but when sauteed and then whipped and then baked, you get a thing of beauty. Potato filling takes the place of traditional stuffing or dressing-- we don't do the put-stuff-inside-of-the-turkey thing that most people do.

In my family, potato filling comes but three times a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Don't even ask for it at another time. You will be sorely disappointed. (For the first time in my life, there'll be an exception. This year, we get it a fourth time-- when John comes home for R&R and visits my folks.) While the side dishes are subject to change, potato filling is a non-negotiable. A holiday without it just wouldn't be a holiday.

On my list of things to do this year, I wanted to learn how to make Thanksgiving dinner, just in case John and I find ourselves somewhere else next year. My mom, an organizational and planning maven, already had all of the dishes ready to go and stored in the freezer, just waiting to be baked on Thanksgiving Day, by the time that I got to Pennsylvania. So instead, I sat in the kitchen with her as dinner cooked on Thanksgiving morning. It's as close as I could get to check this one off the list.

But I did have three helpings of filling. That seems like a fair trade-off to me.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Hymns of Thanks

I love Thanksgiving. There is something so pure and refreshing about it. It's an understated holiday; no boy-band-performed, synthesized carols extolling it blare over mall PA systems in October, with the exception of grocery chains and food products, there are few advertising campaigns beating viewers over the heads, and it's centered around food. What could be better than a holiday focused on food

Oh, yeah. It's also about giving thanks for God's bounty.

Growing up, I was fascinated with Hymn of Thanksgiving in the Lutheran liturgy.  Besides having a tune that leaves you humming it well into Tuesday, it is simple, yet eloquent: Thank the Lord and sing his praise... He recalls his promises and leads His people forth in joy, with shouts of thanksgiving...

This year has certainly taught me how to better give thanks. I would like to believe that I have taken very little for granted in my life, but the truth is, it is so easy to overlook so much. This year has made me increasingly aware of how wonderful my life truly is because I've been trying to focus on the happy and fantastic, rather than the depressing and sad. While I couldn't possibly list every blessing of my life here, succinctly, I wanted to at least attempt to write my hymn of thanksgiving:

For my family. For my mom and dad who let me be a gawky, nerdy kid with a book and never once made me feel self-conscious, and who instead, raised me into an independent, gawky, nerdy adult with a book.. For my sisters who, this year, are also my maids of (dis)honor, and who never, ever let me forget how much better my life is when they're around. For my soon-to-be inlaws who have been so kind and welcoming, even though distance separates us.

I am thankful for John, who (without sounding incredibly hyperbolic) is the flipside of my heart. For our first first botched date (because it's a funny story) and for our second first date (because it's nothing short miraculous). For his optimism and humor that keeps me going. (And for his heart-stopping, good looks. Because that doesn't hurt, either.)

I'm thankful for my friends. For my coworkers who are among some of most diligent people in the world. For my college friends and all of our fantastic memories. For my bridesmaids-- I can't imagine not sharing this year with them. 

I am thankful for my students who make my hair grey (what little I haven't yet pulled out), but who also make me laugh with happiness, smile with joy, and cry (but not in front of them) with anger and frustration.There is no higher satisfaction I've found yet, then sharing in one of their accomplishments-- whether it's passing English when they never have before, getting into college, or simply using, unprompted, a vocabulary word correctly. They embody resilience and steadfastness in the face of challenge and obstacles. So many of them have endured what others can only imagine, and yet they persevere. That doesn't mean they don't stumble or fail (sometimes continually and intentionally), but they remind me how important it is to be someone that picks others up.

I am thankful for my home church that has surrounded John and me with love and prayers. 

For laughter and those who make me laugh until my poorly developed abs are quaking with misuse and tears are running down my cheeks. 

I'm thankful for anyone who has asked after John, or sent him an email, a letter, a card, or care package. For anyone who has looked the other way when I've been teary or a downright crybaby.
For Twilight because it reminds me of what I don't want to write.  

For flannel pjs, pretty stationary, cold nights, good books, and the most comfortable pillow in the world.  

I'm thankful for ridiculous trends that keep me completely confused. For huge tires with spinners on itty bitty, four-door sedans. For neon lipstick and high heels with so many spikes, they look like implements of the Spanish Inquisition. For backwards hats and singers with stupid, stupid names. 

And I'm thankful for the old standbys that make me happy when times are tough-- craptastic TLC reality TV, Lisa Frank stickers, LOLcats, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and books.

I'm thankful for the Post Office because they ferry loads of letters and packages between Maryland and Afghanistan. For the free Priority boxes, and for post-people who don't stop me when I take six or seven boxes at a time. For the ever-changing selection of first-class stamps.

I am thankful for every possible mutation of social media and messaging services. With so many people that I love so far away from me, I cannot imagine how much sadder my life would be without instant communication.

For suitcases, and packing and unpacking. For countdowns and count-ups. For calendars and pens to mark off days with. For sick days and personal days. For hotel reservations and plane tickets. For time that ticks away at the same rate, regardless of how it feels

For my sad excuse for a car because it hasn't fallen (completely) apart yet. C'mon, baby. Just eight more months...

For kind gestures and generous deeds. For strangers who hold doors open and pick up dropped scarves. For happy cashiers and little old ladies who I always end up standing behind in line. For motorists who wave others into merging lanes.

For miracles and surprises. And for the promise of tomorrow.

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Wishin' and Hopin' and Thinkin' and Prayin'...

This is big. In the next four weeks (or, really, any length of time as the Navy sees fit), John will get his next orders for his station after deployment, and we'll start planning our move to Wherever the Navy Sends Him, USA (or Not USA, who knows?).  The possibilities are almost endless, which is a freeing and absolutely terrifying idea. We have done our share of talking about possibilities, figuring out our dream locations and our least favorites, as I'm sure all couples do. But, until November hit, I'd really tried to not to think about stations and orders and PCS-ing and all of that stuff that I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about.

There's really nothing to do but wait and let some guy (or gal) in an office somewhere decide our fate for the next three years. For John, this decision is also the decision of when, where, how, and if he'll deploy again. For me, it means updating my resume, weighing career paths and options, and contemplating life after Summer 2013.

It is absolutely mind-boggling to think how much of my life will change over the course of four weeks in less than a year. So many of the changes that most sane people spread out over a few months or years, we'll hit at warp-speed. I'll go from single to married. From a Pennsylander (since my life straddles Pennsylvania and Maryland at the present) to a I-Have-No-Idea-What-er. From a drive of two hours to my parents to a drive (or flight) of Who-the-Heck-Knows. And, most likely, from employed to jobless. John will deal with reintegration, a new job, and a crazy wife.

But then again, it's par for the course. We never seem to do anything normally or easily. We seem to seek out (or rather, are sought out by) extreme situations. If there were a competition at the X-Games for Extreme Decisions, we might not take gold, but we'd get on the podium. I couldn't just be a teacher. I just had to work in a school in one of the most difficult systems in the country. John's deployment just couldn't be an average one; instead, it just had to be longer. We couldn't just date each other after our first date seven years ago; we just had to fall out of contact and then start our relationship during all of the crazy of John's first year in the Navy. It's comical. Of course the biggest changes in our life would all come down to four summer weeks. I wouldn't expect anything less than an extreme version of that, either. At least I know that we're fighters and survivors.

That's really what life's about, though, isn't it? There's always a choice-- sit back and let it happen to you, or take charge and make it your own.

For now, there's nothing to do but wait... and wait... and wait... until some guy in an office somewhere clicks a button and solidifies our fate for the next three years. And then, I can either buckle in and hold on, or strap on a helmet and lean into the curves. I'll be leaning. Hard.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

God's Smack

I'm pretty sure that I hit my breaking point yesterday. If it wasn't the breaking point, then it was definitely in the suburbs of Breaking Point, USA. I found myself in my classroom, during my lunch, crying at my desk like the wuss that I am. It wasn't any one thing, really. The past week or so has just been a slow slide into a sludgy, gross depression.  I don't have the gumption to do things, I can't seem to remember things (like where I put my darn school keys), and I'm trudging through November in a continual fog. I pride myself on being a (reasonably) optimistic person, but the last few days have really bummed me out.I can't definitively put my finger on it. It's not any one thing, but rather the mounting stress of everything (you know, not to sound overly dramatic or anything).

But God always provides. 

During my tearfest in my classroom,  my dear friend, Fitz, walked in and gave me the kind of pep talk a friend can only give. And then, one of my (usually high-strung) students spent her lunch in my classroom and proceeded to have a really nice, polite, interesting conversation with me about ghosts, how she googles morgue and crime scene photos, and her love of Long Island Medium. In my last period class, when I asked students to reflect on their work ethic during the last marking period, I got two very sweet (and probably very brown-nosed) comments that summed up to, "You're a good teacher." In a world that blames teachers for many problems outside of our control, a note like that from a student means the world... even if it's not completely sincere. My Poetry Out Loud club girls visited me after school, and each one had memorized her poem. They're difficult poems too-- by Christina Rossetti, John Donne, and Robert Graves-- and I am over the moon with pride. 

And then, as if all of those things weren't enough to make me happy on their own merit, when I opened my mailbox this afternoon-- a perfectly rectangular, white envelope with  the words "Free Mail" in the corner in John's handwriting. 

I am aware of God's hand in my life, even when it doesn't seem to be there. But today, God was smacking me in the back of the head, reminding me of how many wonderful people surround me and how fantastic life really is.

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Let's All Sing Like the Birdies Sing...

We're Twitterfied! As an English teacher and a lover of words, I absolutely despise hashtags, and so I thought that I would swear off Twitter on principle. Forever.

Turns out, social media is like the Death Star's tractor beam. And so, this afternoon, I stepped off my soapbox (or, keeping with the simile, I was pulled off my soapbox). You can now follow me @JoMyGosh and join in the conversation!

(Don't forget: if you haven't yet, you can like us on Facebook, too!)

Now, it's time to get my social mediaed-out butt to the gym. I've got just 16 days to hit this months' goal-- running 2.5 miles by my birthday! 

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

#96: Junot Diaz!

And another one bites the dust! This week, I got to check off #96 from my list-- I attended a book talk given by Junot Diaz (author of Drown, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This is How You Lose Her) at UMBC. I should double-check this off the list because it was so full of awesomeness. 

My department head, friend, and fellow AP teacher, Tonya, had (because she's a superstar teacher) organized the trip for both of our AP classes two weeks ago, just as the eye of Hurricane Sandy was making it's way towards the Eastern Seaboard. It goes without saying that the event was cancelled, even though I had students emailing me, hoping it was still on, even after school closed for Monday on the Sunday before at noon.

Thankfully, Diaz was rescheduled (on the day that the nor'easter hit the East Coast... can a sister get a break?), and Tonya, Shannon, and I carted 9 very dedicated students out to the UMBC campus.

I love taking students places. I love seeing them transform from teens into young adults the moment they leave the building. I love seeing their faces light up when they experience new things. And, while I really dislike living and working in a city, I really love that we have so many opportunities to introduce our kids to. 

We arrived at UMBC a little early, so we took the kids on a quick walking tour of the campus, ending up at the student union building where every child wanted to order at the Starbucks. 

I never, ever drink coffee. John does, though, and last year he got me to try a Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Caramel Something Or Other. But, I was not to be left out, so I ended up ordering a PSL (I'm so cool using Starbucks' slang!) and (believe it or not) drinking the whole thing. Not before, of course, snapping a few pictures to prove it to John, much to the amusement of my students ("Ms. G, what are you doing?")

Diaz ended up getting there a little late-- complications from the snowstorm-- but when he finally did begin speaking, he was excellent. He was different from what my students had imagined, I think. He's curses, uses slang and humor, and is not at all what you'd expect of an MIT professor and Pulitzer Prize winner. While he talked about political economy, sexism, racism, and the hegemony of language, the kids stayed right with him because he made it so darn palatable.  (Even though, I wish he would have cut back on the, "Profanity is the language of the masses, so don't let anyone shackle your tongue" speech. I could feel every one of my students turn towards me and think simultaneously, "That's the last time you tell me to stop swearing in class, Ms. G." )

Best thing? Our principal bought the attending students copies of Oscar Wao, and yesterday, during some down time in class, I saw one of my boys cracking it open and soaking it up. That's what it's all about.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

So. Much. Happiness!

Happy Election Day! In the past few days, I've heard so many disparaging remarks on TV, from Facebook, from friends and acquaintances about politics... but I love elections and politics. In fact, for quite a while in college, I thought I would get a political science minor with a major in history. That's how much I love all of this stuff. I'll spare you the flag-waving and the rah-rah-red-white-and-blue, but it is absolutely amazing to me how a nation of millions of people with divergent beliefs and backgrounds are able to consistently vote, peacefully, and watch power transfer between parties and people for scores of years. 

Last night, Rachel and I drove to PA to join in the festivities and cast our ballots at home, in our beautiful, wonderful state. Too much happened between then and now, so here're the top three awesome things that happened in the past 24 hours:

1. Becky finally received a mini-care package from me! (Waiting for the post office to deliver is so tough sometimes!) I sent her a book of Lisa Frank stickers and wrapped it in the most Lisa Franky scrapbook paper paper I could find. I think sending her a throwback to the 90's made me happier than her receiving it!

2. I voted! And here was what was awesome about that: I voted in the same township building where my parents used to take us and let us flip the levers when we were little. The poll volunteers were people from my church and my sixth grade teacher who told Rachel and I that she was proud of us for voting. (And who doesn't want a compliment like that from their sixth-grade teacher?!)We stood behind a man with the most manicured, waxed and curled mustache-- it was truly epic. After we voted, we went to McDonald's to meet Grandpa for lunch... and Rachel wore her own mustache to surprise him.

2. I met with my pastor, a florist, baker, and picked up STDs! I talked to Pastor Rob and we started figuring out the logistics of the service. I had a chance to think about flowers and start planning the cake. And (probably what you're wondering most about), the Save the Dates showed up in my mailbox today! All of the pieces are starting to slowly fall together and fit into place-- and a good thing, too! We've got just over eight months to go!

Now, all I have to do is put on some pjs, do a little lesson planning, cross my fingers, and wait for the results from the polls to start rolling in. Oh yeah, and cross stitch. I might have to uncross my fingers for a bit...

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Apple of My... Stomach

Today has been such a great day: there was that extra hour of sleep (Thanks, DST!), I got to gchat with John for an absurdly long time this morning, and I met my wonderful friend, Jehan, for lunch. So, this evening, I decided to top it off and try a Pinterest recipe for my lovely English Department colleagues. (I've been planning making them for a bit since I actually had to go home to Pennsylvania to find apple butter for the recipe.)

I love doughnuts, but I don't eat them often because I'm a bit paranoid about fried foods (exception: my Mickey D's french fry addiction). The great thing about this recipe is that it's pretty darn healthy. There's only one egg, the butter is optional, and there's no frying involved! 

You can find the original recipe at Feastie. I'm copying it below with my notes, changes, and suggestions, but please know that the original recipe is not my original content. 

You'll need:
Dry ingredients (in one bowl):
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Wet ingredients (in another bowl):
  • 1 large egg
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I omitted because we were out.)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt (I used non-fat, generic vanilla yogurt.)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a mini muffin pan with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. 
  3. In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, brown sugar, apple butter, vanilla extract, honey, apple cider, yogurt, and canola oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredient mixture and whisk until just incorporated. Don't over-mix - a few lumps are okay. 
  4. Using a tablespoon or cookie scoop, fill a 24-hole mini muffin pan with the batter; fill each hole only 3/4 of the way, or you'll end up with huge mini muffins (maxi muffins?). Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes and cool on a wire rack. 
  5. While donut holes are still warm, melt butter in a microwave safe dish. Combine cinnamon and sugar in another dish. Using a pastry brush, very lightly brush a tiny bit of melted butter onto the top of each donut hole, then dip the top of the muffin in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the donut hole in the cinnamon sugar to coat the sides and top. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note about baking: I don't have a mini-muffin pan, so I used a regular cupcake/muffin pan, filled each about 3/4 full, and baked for 15 minutes instead of 10. Instead of the texture of a cake-y doughnut, they have, more or less, the texture of a muffin. I only rolled the top in cinnamon sugar. I think coating the sides and bottom would have been sugar overkill (if there is such a thing).  Still delicious, still autumnal and fantastic!

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Getting Phone Banked

Happy November! The best month has finally arrived (no other month can compete with turkey, pumpkin pie, my mom's PA Dutch potato filling, and a minimum of three days off of work), and I'm stoked. Despite being out of work for three days because of Hurricane Sandy, it's been a tiring week.

Even so in the past week or so, I was able to knock a few more things off of my list of 100 things to do this year. I got back down to my high school weight, I made another Christmas present, I met one of my dear friends from work for sushi, and a piece I wrote was published on The Sisterhood of the Camo Pants' blog.

And, I crossed #99 off my list: I volunteered with President Obama's campaign. My friend, Shannon, and I decided we'd try our hand at phone banking. And let me tell you, we got banked.

In Baltimore, the term "banked" means to get jumped and beaten up. (I learned this my first year of teaching here when I thought it had something to do with snow banks. Rookie mistakes.)  Honestly, I had no illusions about phone banking. I didn't think it would be rainbows and sunflowers. I figured there would be a lot of hang-ups and rude people. I was not execting to make about 200 calls in 2 1/2 hours and only speak to (maybe) 15 people.

It was terribly apparent that so close to the election, most people weren't picking up their phones anymore. I can't say I blame them at all. It must be frustrating and tiring to be a swing state voter. And it's sad that our democracy has been reduced to scrambling to persuade a handful of voters in just a handful of states. But that's the system we currently have.

I digress. Here are a few moments from Shannon and my adventure:
  • Baltimore became Smalltimore as I saw someone at the HQ that I knew (who also used to teach under my current principal) and someone who knew someone I work with. I also sat next to a woman who graduated from the high school I teach at in 1969. That was nifty. 
  • The only time I got through my whole script was... when I called my mom (from my cell, of course, not the HQ phone). She insisted that I read through the whole thing and ask her all of the questions.
  • One of the other volunteers had someone tell him that they "wouldn't vote for a n-----."  While I don't think anyone would argue that racism isn't a factor in current American culture and society, it still is jarring to hear someone espouse that viewpoint so bluntly.
  • On the other hand, another volunteer had someone tell him that they were voting for Pedro in this election. In all fairness, Pedro will make all of your wildest dreams come true. 
I've decided that phone banking isn't my thing, but I really do like campaigning. I think canvasing might be more my speed.  Even though I didn't feel particularly useful today, I'm glad for the new experience! And it's definitely something to cross of my list!

If you haven't liked our Facebook page yet, go on and click the button! What're you waiting for?

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Signed, Sealed, Delivered...

Originally, I saw this idea on Pinterest (isn't that where everyone sees all of their new ideas?) and, after picking up a pack of 5x7 envelopes at Michael's on crazy sale, I made a Surprise a Day mini care package for John. A few days ago, John told me it finally got to him, so I can post this without ruining anything!

You need:
  • 7 envelopes
  • glue
  • 7 different items that fit into envelopes
  • stickers/markers 
  • Spread glue on the inside flap of one of your envelopes and glue it to the bottom of the front of another envelope. Repeat process until you have 7 envelopes  
  • Decorate the envelopes. 
  • Stuff each envelope with fun stuff! 
 Here's what I put in John's... 
  • Monday- a wallet-size photo of the two of us
  • Tuesday- a print out of a world map with a dotted line connecting Maryland and Afghanistan (Dorky, I know. That's just how I roll.)
  • Wednesday-  a photobooth sticker from a date we went on a year ago
  • Thursday- I redeemed a coupon that John gave me before he left. Well, I didn't actually redeem it yet. It's a request for redemption. If I remember correctly, it's for dinner at the first place we went on a date.
  • Friday- a Penn State Blue Band postcard
  • Saturday-I printed out Scrabble pieces, cut them out, and sent John a goofy, secret message.
 Before you try this out for yourself, go here and like Jo, My Gosh! on Facebook! You know you want to!