Life, Thoughts

Some Disorganized Reasons To Volunteer At Concerts

(I’m the kinda person who considers herself too good to be sponsored. Or maybe it’s that I’m not good enough to be sponsored. Either way, this isn’t a sponsored post, and it shouldn’t be a deadly blogging sin to promote good things for good reasons with no compensation. Ahem.)

My new obsession relationship with volunteering at concerts goes back to smack-dab in the middle of the past October. It was then that I learned two things:

  1. tobyMac, my go-to musician, chef of Soul Sauce, king of CCM and crown prince of great graphic design, was coming to a venue not ten miles from my house.
  2. I was not the only one excited for the concert.

By the time I got around to getting tickets, the entire house was sold out. Dang. I thought I had missed the Golden Opportunity Of A Lifetime™, but then God Himself opened my eyes to a very small banner at the bottom of my screen:

volunteer opportunities! click me please!

(Okay, I don’t remember exactly what it said but it was something like that.)

Before I could say Diverse City, I had signed my brother and I up and was ready to jump into things. Even though I had exactly 0.05246% of a clue as to what I would be doing.

Well, let me rephrase that. I had several misconstrued ideas as to what I would be doing. As it turned out, none of them were correct.

I was a little surprised to find out that volunteers don’t do door check, security, or any other services covered by the venue itself. And even though I kind of knew it would never happen, we were not allowed on or near the stage. Bummer.

However, what we ended up doing was very, very cool (and I at least got to watch them taking down the stage afterward, but we’ll get to that!)

I ended up helping the Food For The Hungry folks. FH is an organization that helps third-world communities get back on their feet through sponsorship and prayer. The whole concept wasn’t anything new – I’d been in the audience of another concert and heard their mission from the receiving end.

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My job was to get packets from our tables to the audience. At a certain time in the show, we handed out packets to the people sitting in all three levels of this theatre. Lots of walking, lots of smiles, and lots of packets were filled out. We ended up sponsoring 150 kids that night!

Being an active part in the recovery process for 150 families was an incredible experience, but it wasn’t the only awesome thing that happened that night.

Besides the part in the show where we handed out packets, we were just working beforehand, during intermission, and afterward. This meant we got to watch the show for absolutely free – a “thank you gift” from the people we were working for.

But not only did we get to watch it for free, we also were allowed to stand in a box seat – the only place that hadn’t sold out. We were just 20ish feet away from the stage!

What. A night.

Oh, and I got to watch them taking stuff down. But I think I already mentioned that. I never knew there were cranes above the stage, but apparently they are, and subwoofers are heavy.

After that night of praise and worship and ridiculously awesome music, I knew I wanted to do this as much as possible.

Luckily for me, I joined Loop Volunteers’ mailing list.

Loop Events is an organization that crowdsources volunteers for CCM concerts. They look for people in the area, and whenever a Christian artist comes to town, they alert them and ask for help.

This led me to volunteering for Steven Curtis Chapman when he came in. This time, I worked at the merchandise table. We sold over $2000 of t-shirts and CDs, which pours itself into keeping the tour going and SCC’s charity, Show Hope.

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I got a free t-shirt and got to see him in person. Now, I’m anxiously looking forward to For King And Country in April. Can’t wait!

Volunteer work is always awesome. Volunteer work with perks like free live music and supporting Important Causes™ is even more awesome. Even if you don’t get a t-shirt.

If it’s something you think you might like doing, you should seek out some opportunities. Who knows? You might end up having as much fun as I have.

Ever volunteered at a concert? Favorite bands? Let’s talk music. I’m listening.

Art, Life, Thoughts

A Conglomeration Of Half-Post-Ideas

a conglomeration of half-post-ideas

Last post, we talked about goals.

Ya know, those things we all make, but I never seem to keep up with. Even though I have a chronic inability to complete my goals, I still want to make some. But instead of doing it by month (I’ve learned that I’m not the kind of person who pays attention to dates), we’re going to do it by Macro – Mecro – Micro.

I also was nominated for the Liebster Award, so we’re going to do that. How do you even say Liebster? Leeb-stir? Lib-stair? Lie-b-stehr?

And finally, I want to talk about improvement. Again. I know I talked about it during APADO, but that was 31 posts ago, so I think it deserves another post. Improvement is big deal with me.

*clap clap* let’s just get into it

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The Liebster Award

I’m so glad that Jewel nominated me for the Liebster Award! Jewel is one of my good friends, and I love both of her blogs to death. Thanks, Jewel!

liebster award rules

So, with acknowledgements made, here we go.

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The Questions

What do you want to accomplish by your next birthday? Gah, I can’t spill my goals yet! But I want to accomplish surviving for an entire year. Hehe, just kidding. I’d like to be more fluent in Hebrew. טס עדיין לא טובה בדיבור עברית.

What needs to be invented that has not been invented yet? A bed with spikes that makes getting up in the morning significantly easier…>:)

What is your favorite song? DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE. Can I make a top ten? Hello Future (tobyMac), Take On Me (a-ha), Wolf Bite (Owl City), Love Song (Royal Tailor), Right On Time (Aaron Cole), WaveWalker (Citizen Way), Pompeii (Bastille), The Wolf (SIAMES), Get Down Get Down (KJ-52) and Transformed (Shonlock). And like, thirty million more.

What is your favorite movie? The original Thor. But my favorite thing to watch is Batman: The Animated Series. Like, I’ll pick a few episodes of that over a movie anyday.

When people are told to guess a number between 1 and 10, which do you think is the most common answer? I think…7. I can’t really say why. This is a cool question!

Do you have a bad habit? If so, what? Shhh…I bite my nails. And use the eraser on the end of the pencil when I’m drawing. *cowers*

Soft Pretzels or Hard Pretzels? SOFT PRETZELSSS they always make me think of Six Flags. And they’re amazing.

Would you rather own a fish or a snake? Definitely a snake. They’re way more interesting, and wouldn’t it be neat to own a potentially deadly creature?

What is something you know how to do that you could teach? I feel like I could teach anyone how to be socially awkward, but I don’t think anyone would want to know how to do that. 9_9 So let’s just stick to beginner horseback riding skills, because I do teach those on a regular basis.

If you could be famous for 1 thing, what would it be? I’d want to be famous for making a circumnavigation, possibly because I want an excuse to buy a campervan.

What are the 3 most important qualities in a friend? Loyal (because who wants friends who never back them up?), sensitive (able to tell when others are having a problem), and fun (wanting to do fun stuff instead of just sitting and talking).

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11 Facts About Me

(that realistically no one wants to read but i mUsT fOlLoW tHe rUlEs)

  • I have a bunch of Assorted Unstable Jobs: babysitting, cleaning my dad’s work, mowing lawns in the summer, and professional weirdo.
  • I only drink diet sodas – not because of health reasons, but for some reason I find regular soda really bitter…?
  • I have a really strange obsession with commercials. They fascinate me.
  • I have touched a human brain, and I think I can still smell the formaldehyde.
  • I can’t do monkey bars because I have Chicken Arms™.
  • I have four sisters and two brothers.
  • I really, really, really love peaches. I’m not kidding. Get me a peach and I will squeal.
  • I don’t like documentaries. They’re kinda boring.
  • I can’t stand it when someone is raking leaves and they scrape the tines of the rake on the concrete. It’s like the sound of nails on a chalkboard except three bazillion times worse.
  • I have a lot of t-shirts, but most of them are black.
  • I used to want to be a doctor when I grew up. Now I’m leaning toward illustrator…but who knows, I may still do medical work. Or culinary arts. I’d really love to have a food truck. The only problem is, I can’t cook to save my life.
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Tagging Some Fwiends:

Ava
Bella
Christiana
Enni
Jo
Laura
Mya
NC Stokes
Sam
Sapphire
Serene

(i put it alphabetically, stop squabbling)

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Y’all’s Questions:

(i am texan, i can say y’all)

What was your favorite TV show/movie when you were a kid?
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
What do you think is the best way to start the day?
What is one of your favorite smells?
If you were suddenly put on a stage and told to deliver a speech, what would you talk about?
Do you think Wikipedia is a reliable source?
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?
What age would you like to live to?
What do you want carved on your gravestone?
Have you ever saved someone’s life?
Opinion on chow mein?

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Okay, realistically, that took much more than I thought and I could honestly make a post with just that. But I feel obliged to actually fulfill one of my promises. For once.

*clap* next topic *clap*

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The Stuff I Need To Do And Get Better At (2019 Edition)

As I start to think about goals, I’m wondering if it’s too late to talk about goals, seeing as we’re already a week into January…but let’s say that it’s for the next year. So I’ll open these…next January 7th?

Macro Goals

(translation: goals that are really huge and untangible)

  • Get better at managing my time. Work with, not against, myself. Use the precious days I have in this season of life wisely.
  • Unlock the motivation I know I have and banish the laziness that cripples me.
  • Be unafraid to speak my mind and talk about important, serious things in all my mediums (writing, art, blogging, etc.)

Mecro Goals

(translation: goals that are still huge, but actually physically achievable)

  • Write three 50k novels in April, July, and November (Nanowrimo ftw!)
  • Come up with a good comic concept and illustrate ten pages of it.
  • Relaunch Steeplechase (!!!)
  • Post at least twice monthly on both of my blogs.

Micro Goals

(translation: very achievable, given I don’t procrastinate too much)

  • Get more practice making graphics.
  • Finish the MAP part I’m still working on.
  • Be more active on the Story Embers forums.
  • Make a post explaining MBTI!
  • Keep up with all my awesome friends over email.
  • Buy a copy of Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.
  • Stay on top of schoolwork.
  • Make myself like photography. Ugh.

It may not as complicated as last year’s goals post, but considering how many I failed, I think simple is best.

I feel like this blog is a never-ending Hallmark drama. Will Tess ever do anything she promises she’ll do? This year might be the year, but that’s what I thought last year, and what I think every time I make a promise…

*exits stage left with an existential breakdown in tow*

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I Talk About Art For 500 Words And You Inevidably Scroll Past

I go through a specific cycle with all my work, but particularly with my art. I’ll get semi-okay at something, and be proud of it for approximately three days. Then I’ll realize it needs improvement. But as that realization turns into bitterness and I try and try over and over again without seeing change, I get to a point where I wonder if I’m ever going to get better.

Then, right as I think I should just stop doing what I love to do – clink! The penny drops, as Richard Williams would say.

And then, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, the cycle repeats itself.

It’s no secret that I battle self-esteem issues, that I feel inadequate a lot of the time, and that my depression takes over my motivation if I let it. I think this happens to all creative people, to be honest. Without the right kind of encouragement, it becomes a monster that controls both your creativity and your confidence.

Every time I get to that part of the cycle, I have to force myself to keep pushing. To keep trying. To make one more crappy drawing in hopes of making a good one next time.

And then, after too much headache and heartbreak, I finally get through it.

In this particular episode of Tess’ Life Gets A Little Bit Better, it all got started with an Action Bible. I got one because I am completely in love with the art. It’s so dynamic and detailed and the shading and it’s pretty much a Masterclass on drawing cloth.

I wouldn’t say I felt inspired, because the feeling is closer to jealousy, but I decided to copy some of the pictures.

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In past, I’ve discounted copywork as a viable form of learning to draw. I had previously thought it was cheating. Or something. Or maybe it’s just that I never found anything that was what I wanted to draw.

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But after doing some copywork, I’ve seen drastic improvement in my artwork. I’ve since branched off from copying again, after these studies I did. But the lines I made, the shading I did, all that – it stuck.

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Here’s a little redraw of the piece I made for an APADO post in October.

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I’ve even been drawing in my journal before bed. I think I’m back on the right track.

So if you’re feeling down – if you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – if your feet are dragging in whatever it is you do…

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…don’t give up. Relief is coming. Give it one more push, even though you think there’s no hope for you. Try just one more time. And one more time after that. And still one more time after that.

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If everything was easy to learn, there’d be no value in it, right?

So prove that you have what it takes. Go give it one more try.

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You’ve got this.

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Thus endeth the Conglomeration Of Half-Post Ideas.

Although it changed gears faster than a 21-speed bicycle, I hope you enjoyed. I’d love to hear what you think. Leave a comment! Pretty please?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

Life, Thoughts

Goal Recap + 2018 In Review

(Oof. I guess I’ll have to explain what happened to those Nano recaps. Or to my blog in general. Smh.)
(If you’re looking at this in your WordPress reader, it doesn’t have the same effect. Read it on my blog, won’t you?)
(Also: this graphic is possibly the most adorable thing I have ever created. I almost feel guilty for being this aesthetic)

Goals Recap + 2018 In Review

Well.

For now, we’re going to pretend that I’ve been true to my promise, that you’ve been reading the posts I’ve been writing, and that I haven’t up and disappeared for two months. I need to learn to stop promising things I can’t deliver.

The last bit of 2018 has been hectic and crazy – although there has been time for some fun…

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cronching prongles w/ ezra in my sister’s van = fun…?

I’ve been on two trips to see family and been allowed plenty of time to rest after a very stressful Nanowrimo experience (we’ll get to that!)

I would never have guessed that this year would turn out the way it did. In fact, I was pretty certain I knew what I was doing at the beginning of this year. Exactly 360 days ago, I wrote a post called Goals. I don’t think I need to say how different it is from my actual achievements.

Let’s revisit these goals, aka these rash promises. (See? I never learn.)

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January/February/March

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Post at least a dozen posts here on Steeplechase. Hm. My stats say I posted…nine times. I’m going to call this half-done, because I was going strong at about a post a week until March. Ugh.

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Finish my part for the MAP I’m working on (and write a blog post about the process). Okay. I didn’t end up finishing that MAP part until June. But I did finish it, and I wrote a post about it. Half-done.

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Finish plotting my April Camp Nano project. Garsh. What was my April Camp Nano project? I think it was Project Orion. I spent April Camp Nano plotting PO, so…I think this is also half-done.

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Help my team win AAWC. We lost hard, only getting third (last!) place despite my best last-minute efforts. Failed.

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Learn diagonals. This is a horseback riding goal, and I don’t remember exactly when, as Richard Williams would say, “the penny dropped”. I do know that I’ve mastered it now. We’re going to call this an obliteration. Yeet!

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Have a birthday. Ehehe, why is this even a goal? But I had a birthday. And I’m about to have another one. GUYS, THIS YEAR JUST FLEW BY. Obliterated.

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Do more Art Dumps. I did two in February, so this is obliterated! Thank goodness I didn’t set an exact number. HEHEHE.

April/May/June

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Do Camp Nano! Undeniably obliterated. I talked about it in this post, so I’m not going to go through the rigors again. (But that post contains more unfulfilled promises! Yikes!)

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Finish my Wreck This Journal (and do a WTJ tour). Nope. I’m still not done with this. Failed.

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Join another MAP. I joined my second MAP in late June/early July? Not exactly sure. I think I’m going to call this an obliteration, though.

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lolina strikes again

Learn to draw human faces. HAHAHAHAHA no. Still no. Failed.

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Replot Project Orion. Wait. Hold on. Does this mean I wasn’t originally going to replot PO? Huh. I can’t remember. Half-done, because it still doesn’t really have a plot. And at this point I’m wondering if it ever will.

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Hold a giveaway. Steeplechase did turn two years old, but I didn’t hold a giveaway. I barely even acknowledged it at all. Welp, there’s always next year. Failed.

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Aaaand post more on Steeplechase. Did I post at all? Three times? We’re calling that technically “more” so…obliterated. Wow, this feels like cheating.

July/August/September

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Julynowrimo. Undeniably obliterated. And I actually like what I came out with? What? I mean, it’s definitely not perfect, but The Sentinel is the best thing I’ve written so far.

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Ride Traveller. Aka my bike. I don’t think I accounted for the fact that I would get crazy tall? And be too big for him? Um? Yeah, I’m 5′ 9″ now and a 24″ bike isn’t going to cut it. It’s not like I could help it, but this is, unfortunately, another failure.

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Read three long books (and review them here on Steeplechase). I don’t remember if I read three long books, but seeing as I didn’t post on Steeplechase all summer….noap. Failure.

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Learn at least three new riding skills. I can canter in full seat, jump verticals, and use rein contact to my advantage now…hey, I think this is obliterated!

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my favorite freezie!

Take a dare. Well, this goal’s specific. We went to Six Flags a lot over the summer, and I definitely dared myself to do a ton. This is an obliteration. I think.

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Get in physical shape. I’m still not sure where I stand on my physique….? Let’s say half-done, because I was really active, but it’s not like I’m super fit or anything.

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Document it all on Steeplechase. As aforementioned – nope. Sorry. Ugh. Failed.

October/November/December

Plot out a Nano. I tried. But I also learned that I am an undeniable pantser. So even if I’d planned something out, it’s not like it would have worked. I’m going to say half-done, not because I did any planning, but more because this goal was stupid. See what I mean about having no idea what this year had in store for me?

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Write that Nano. I…did? I didn’t write what I intended to write this Nano, but it was something.

I guess now is a perfect opportunity to say why I haven’t posted in like, two months. As usual, I joined the throes of writers racing to complete their novels, but this was an exceptionally gruelling Nano. I had planned to write a sequel to The Sentinel, but after wasting two weeks of Nano being unmotivated, I did a Tess-classic Nanoditch. But even after said Nanoditch, I was still not motivated.

It was to the point where I was bewailing my situation so badly that people had started to give up on me. (As in, “why are you still writing when you insanenumberofwords behind?”) But my mom, MY WONDERFUL MOM, kept telling me that I could do it. I knew I was going to do it or die trying.

The bottom line? I ended up writing the final 33k words in 3 days. I pulled an all-nighter on the last day. I wrote all the way up till the last second, pretty much. But I did it. I’m so proud, but also ashamed, because there should never be an excuse for doing what I did.

Here’s a little video I took at 5am on November 31st, after my all-nighter, with 10k still to write (subtitled):

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Yeah that should describe my mental state for all of November.

I did end up finishing a dumb novel called A Hundred Paper Stars, which is…just another thing to add to my repretoire, and nothing more. Though pointless, it’s pretty fun.

So…obliterated? Yeah, I guess. Remind me never to do it this way again.

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One more MAP. Because of Nano, I’m still working on my “summer” MAP. So failed.

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Get in bed at some sort of normal time. HAHAHAHAHA oh my gosh it’s so funny how I thought I’d be good at doing this by this time! Nope. Not in October, definitely not in November, and not even now. 48930248230% failed. (I was up at 1:30 last night reading my new Action Bible, just to prove a point.)

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Make a Hanukkah tag/blog series. Hanukkah went soooo fast for me. So – uh – failed.

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Actually buy all my family Hanukkah presents. But hey, I actually achieved this! Obliterated!

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Post. On. Your. Own. Flippin. Blog. *cough* APADO *cough*. Catastrophically obliterated.

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Total Goals: 28

Goals Completed: 15

Success Rate: ~54%

wow that’s low

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2018 has been a surprising year in many ways. I’ve done so many things I never thought I would have done, yet I haven’t done a lot of things I thought I really would. And I regret that, because it’s hard to move on from something. Yet, at the same time, I don’t regret it. Because where would I be without moving forward?

Stan Lee recently passed on. That was shocking news for me, seeing as he is one of my heroes. However, I’ve decided that his motto is going to be 2019’s motto:

Excelsior.

onward and upward.

Without change, there is no growth. Without growth, there is no greatness.

Okay, I feel like I’m overdoing my announcement now. But maybe I actually don’t want to reveal my dreams for Steeplechase, or what I’m thinking about doing with it…

Yeah, I don’t think I want to say what I’m going to do with this little blog next year. Although guesses are welcome…

Here’s to an exciting, fulfilling 2019!

merry late christmas and happy early new year to everyone!

Sayonara for now,

Tess

(okay I can’t take it, I’m getting my own domain)

APADO, Life

I Can’t Sleep Without A Fan {APADO #25}

(*yawns* This is APADO, the self-punishment of blogging every day. I haven’t failed yet, so I’d say I’m doing okay.)

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When the day is done and I’m through cramming my brain with information for the day,  I, like most humans, need to sleep.

My bedtime routine is a categorically specific process, which is strange for an ENFP, but I can’t get myself calmed down any other way.

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Whoops. I guess I should make up my bed before I do this post. In truth, I don’t regularly make up my bed, but I’m not going to show this flattened pancake nest of a bed on my blog.

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why is this so darkkkkk

There we go.

Instead of the harsh overhead light, I like to turn on my lamp. It helps to calm me down and relax before bedtime. It also makes photography kind of difficult, but EH.

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Whoa, that photo was aesthetic.

I have a little controller thing that makes it so I can turn off the lights from bed.

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Jedi skills unnecessary. Isn’t it convenient?

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There are two types of people in this world – people who can sleep with a fan, and people who can’t. I’m one of the first. Not only is it necessary for temperature control, the sound is soothing. And since I’m sleeping alone now (for the first time in my life), having some white noise helps.

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Then I set my alarm (because if I do it any later, I’ll forget). I put my alarm clock on my dresser so that I have to haul myself out of bed to turn it off. Once I’m out of bed, I’m awake, so it really helps to get me up in the morning.

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Then I get up in my bed and write in my journal. I get profoundly serene at this point – I have to force myself to not fall asleep yet.

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I have some books up here, but I’m usually too tired to read.

So with the fan on, my alarm set, my thoughts recorded, I get under the covers, hit the light switch…

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…and stare at my glow-in-the-dark stars until I fall asleep.

Ugh, now I’m tired. I think it’s bedtime.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

APADO, Life

That Time I Did THSC Teen Staff {APADO #24}

(Dees ees APADO, meh leetle blog serees wheere I poast efery dey een Ooctoobar.)

(All these photos are courtesy of Victoria, the awesome photographer who made an awesome video recap that I spent thirty minutes pausing and screenshotting. WHY DOES YOUTUBE DO THAT THING WHERE IF YOU DOUBLE CLICK ON A VIDEO IT FULL SCREENS. That was my nemesis.)

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Back in May, I went to a homeschool convention. Also known as the best thing to ever convene in the history of conventions. I was part of the Teen Staff program, a unique mixture of volunteer work, group games and activities, and lectures.

(If I remember someone’s name, I put it in, but assume that any unlabeled person was someone I didn’t know or couldn’t remember their name.)

We were divided into two groups, and those two groups were divided into five teams each.

Team Juliet

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We were an awesome team. We were efficient…and friendly…and horrible at all the group games.

My nametag had been messed up – for some reason it said íTessí. I’m still not sure why. For awhile it was my nickname (“itsa me, íTessí!”) but it confused the exhibitors so much I had to scratch it out and write plain ol’ Tess above it.

Service

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The main part of our program was helping out around the convention. It’s not called Teen Staff for nothing. We did “hospitality”, which was pretty much passing around cups of water to all the exhibitors. Oh, and I went and got a guy a Monster energy drink from a hidden vending machine.

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We did book check, too, which was pretty much babysitting people’s curriculum purchases so that they didn’t have to haul them around the convention center.

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And whenever we were just hanging out, we were expected to be helpful and friendly and good representations of our generation. I think we did a good job.

Lectures

I could say a lot about these lectures, how informative and awesome they were, but let me just say four words:

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I MET KEN HAM.

‘Nuff said.

Group Activities

In between service times and lectures, we got to play group games. This was easily the most fun part of the service (although it was definitely the loudest).

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For one game, we were split into three groups. Two of the groups sat in rows of chairs facing eachother. One was able to see the rest of the room, and one had their backs turned.

The rest of us were blindfolded and led into the room. We weren’t told what we were supposed to do.

The rules: The people who could see what we were supposed to do had to nonverbally communicate the instructions to the group with their back turned. Then that group had to interpret the instructions and call them out to us.

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Never has collecting some balls and putting them in a bag been so hard.

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We did an engineering challenge with spaghetti and marshmallows – tallest tower won. We all ended sticky, chewing on raw spaghet, and laughing our heads off at our miserable excuse for a tower.

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And then we did skits. Our group was charged with making a commercial to sell a book about office organization.

And it got weird.

So?

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I had absolutely no experience with large groups and interacting with people my age when I went into this.

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I came out chomping at the bit, ready to go again, wishing it would last about a year longer. Or that May would come again in anything less than a year.

They let us sign our shirts at the end of it all. I hung mine up on my wall.

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Every time I look at it, I have to go check the calendar.

Only 187 days until next May.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Life

An Interview With Emily {APADO #23}

(APADO is my blog series thingie that has me blogging once a day for the entire month of October. I’m so close to winning, I’m scared to fail.)

(And while we’re talking about kids…)

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this is to date the worst featured image ever. it looks like a potato.

My little sister is quite the character. She has a rough time, being the youngest of seven kids (and there’s an enormous age gap – there’s no one between me and her). She catches her fun where she can, though, and she’s definitely a light in my life.

I want to say how much I appreciate her, so I decided to give her a time to shine. To talk about herself. To showcase what a cool person she is. And honestly she’s such an actor that it’s almost too cute but since when has that stopped me before?

This is, without further adieu, an interview with Emily. Any mid-interview comments will be in italics.

The Interview

Me: *setting up camera*

Emily: What are you doing?

Me: Would you like to do an interview with me for my blog?

Emily: How…do I do it?

Me: I just ask you questions and you answer them.

Emily: Okay.

Me: You wanna do that?

Emily: Mmm-hmm.

Me: So – we’re going to pretend that I’m a newspaper interviewer and I don’t know anything about you. Because I do kind of know some of this stuff. I just want you to say it in your own words. Does that make sense?

Emily: Mmm-hmm *already bored*

Me: So. Ahem. What’s your name?

Emily: Emily Or’El.

Me: Wow, what does Or’El mean?

Emily: *thinks* I don’t know.

Or’El is Hebrew for “light of God” btw.

Me: *laughing*

Emily: *also laughing*

Me: What grade are you in?

Emily: Second.

Me: Can I talk to you about school?

Emily: *thinks* Like what?

Me: *laughing again, it’s impossible not to laugh around her* What’s your school like?

Emily: Mama.

It’s kind of a joke between her and I that Mama is the answer to everything. Any question can be answered with Mama.

Me: *laughing*

Emily: *also laughing*

Me: No really, what’s your school like?

Emily: Mmmmm…I like it. I like Language Arts the best.

she’ll make a great writer someday >:) 

Me: That’s awesome! What’s your least favorite subject?

Emily: Maaaaaaaaaaath.

Me: *trying not to laugh* What do you not like about it?

Emily: Mmmmm…*thinks* It’s too easy.

Me: *laughing, but mostly because this kid has beasted me and she’s less than half my age* Uh, what are your days like?

Emily: Mmmmm…*thinking again* Wake up, play with Emunah, drive them to Odessa, drive Tess to the barn…mmmm…go home, do JOS, aaand…go get Tony, drop Tony off, and go to bed. And read.

I feel so bad for her. Her days are tough. She rides around in the car a lot because us abusive big kids have places to be. What a little trooper.

Also, Emunah and Moses are my sister’s kids who come over to play while she’s at work. They live 20ish minutes away.

Me: What’s your favorite part of them?

Emily: *thinks* Reeeeeead.

Me: Like, before bed?

Emily: *nods*

Me: What’s your least favorite part of your days?

Emily: Going to sleeeeeep.

Me: *laughing because she’s making a neurotic face that indicates the amount of crazy I’ve rubbed off onto her*

Me: What do you like to play? Like with Emunah or with me or…whatever.

Emily: RUN RUN RUN.

Me: “Run run run”? How? Like, tell me more.

Emily: *thinking* Mmmmm…race.

Me: Race. Um…who are your friends? Like, who do you consider to be your friends?

Emily: Mama, Tess, and Tony.

Me: Awww *touched that I’m so high on the list*

Emily: And Avi. And Noah and Isaiah. And Madison.

Me: Madison! I have a friend named Madison.

Emily: Nooooo the Madison next doooooor.

Me: I don’t think we’re talking about the same Madison.

Madison Grace Lorfing I am looking at you madame

Me: Let’s see…what do you do when you’re alone?

Emily: Mmmmmm….*thinks for a really long time* Play Little Rabbits.

House term for Calico Critters. I actually walked in on her playing with them when I started the interview.

Me: Um…do you like Chase?

Emily: Mmmm-hmmm. Chaaaaase!

Me: Which Chase are we talking about?

Her dog is named Chase, and he’s named after her favorite character in PAW Patrol. Gotta get things clear here.

Emily: MY Chase.

Me: Uh…what’s your favorite movie?

Emily: Mmmm…Journey Beyond Sodor.

JBS is a Thomas and Friends movie.

Me: Aaand what’s your favorite TV show?

Emily: Thomas.

She’s wearing a Thomas t-shirt. Go figure.

Me: Do you like any other TV shows?

Emily: PAW Patrol. And Clifford and Busytown. And Barney.

Me: Ahmmmm…will you sing for me?

Emily: *shakes head* MMM-MMM.

Me: *laughs at failed attempt* Uhm, do you have any hobbies?

Emily: *thinks* Run. Race with Siggy.

Sigma is my sister’s Boston Terrier – Chihuahua mix. She has so much energy. But Emily keeps up with her.

Emily: Mmmmm…play dolls. And play play play!

Me: *laughing* Was this interview fun?

Emily: *thinks* Yaaaaash.

Me: Is it fun to talk about yourself?

Emily: Nawohhhh.

Me: *laughing* Would you please stop doing that.

At this point, she’s remembered that I’m filming her and that she can be cute and get away with it.

Me: You’re too cute, okay? Oh, one last thing – will you show me the way you do Chase’s “PAW Patrol, ready for action”?

Emily: *thinks about it*

Me: Please? Please please please?

Emily: Okay. *imitates Chase* PAW Patrol, ready for action, Ryder sir!

And then she proceeded to lick me.

I wonder where she gets that weird sense of humor?

Sometimes I take Emily for granted, or don’t appreciate the little things she does that make my life more fun. Sometimes I let things get in the way of spending time with her. Sometimes I deserve the Crummy Older Sister Of The Year Award™.

But to be honest, I think we all do that to some degree.

Enjoy your little siblings, if you have them. Love them. Care for them. Be interested in what they’re doing. They’re little people in their own right and will surprise you with how complex they are.

I know I’ve been bad about it recently.

And that’s something I don’t want to admit, but I want to fix.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Life

4 Ways To Entertain Kids Under 4 {APADO #22}

(Ladeez and gents, this is the series you’ve waited for – a post on every day, for the entire month of october – I’m buried in the posts that I really shouldn’t ignore – Taking my breath, and stealing my mind – and early bedtimes are left behinddddd…)

(that was corny.)

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Between being an older sister, an aunt (I know, I can’t bring myself to say it either), and a babysitter, I wind up entertaining kids almost every day. And I’m no expert. In fact, most of the advice I would give a newbie would be how not to do it. From experience.

But y’all probably aren’t beginners, and that would make for a pretty negative post. Instead of lecturing, I’m going to serve up four different tested ways to entertain toddlers (and a few tips on how to keep older kids interested in the same stuff!)

A Few Things To Note

A toddler’s attention span is shorter than the fuse on a firecracker. Don’t expect anything you do with him or her to hold him there for more than fifteen minutes. If, by some miracle, it does, don’t touch anything and let him play with it for as long as he will. And praise the Lord for the break He’s given you.

Toddlers get overstimulated very easily. Don’t bring out too much at once. They’ll either become stone-like neandrotoddlers or little ticking time bombs of energy and meltdowns. Use your tricks slowly and present them like they’re something special – even if they’re just a few things laying around your house.

Thing No. 1: Pom-Poms

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There’s something about these little balls of neon fluff that are mezmerizing to a toddler. (Watch them in her mouth and make sure she know’s they’re not for eating. If you’re really worried about her choking on them, get the jumbo ones.) She’ll enjoy scooping them into a pile and chaotically spreading them around, or throwing them in the air and having them drop on her head.

Some other things you can do:

  • poke them into a wide-necked bottle (like a Gatorade bottle). This was really popular with my babysitting kid.
  • fill the divets of an egg carton with them. You could even sort them by color and be educational.
  • If you’re watching an older kid along with a toddler, she could get involved by using a big needle and some yarn to string them together and make caterpillars.

Thing No. 2: Sensory Bottles

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Firstly: these are better if you make them ahead.

Secondly: please, please, please tape the top of the bottle shut. Don’t let kids drink glitter.

Thirdly: These are so much fun to shake, roll and spin. You could fill them with glitter, colored oil, Orbeez, or sprinkles. Add a little water (or thinned clear hair gel for something a bit thicker) and tape the top closed, and you’ve got a toddler timekiller. These are especially good for quiet play on highchair trays and car rides.

A few other ideas:

  • These are somewhat artsy. Try theming your bottle contents for birthdays, holidays, and seasons.
  • Play with how much water you put in them. Less water = more shakable, more water = more swirlable.
  • Older kids will love to put together their own bottles with your supplies. But even though they’re more mature, don’t skip the tape for them – these things are awful when they explode.

Thing No. 3: Masking Tape

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This roll of semi-sticky goodness is your best friend. Never watch kids without it. There’s a ton you can do with it, but here are some ideas:

  • Use it to mark starting lines for races of all sorts – hopping on one foot, crawling on hands and knees, shuffling with a sock ball in between their feet (“emperor penguin egg”). It’s also handy as the end line for Red Light, Green Light.
  • Mark X’s on the floor and play The Floor Is Lava. Anyone not on an X is burnt. (This one’s fun for a big group of varied ages.)
  • Use similar X’s on the floor instead of cushions for Musical Chairs.
  • Tape one single line on the floor and have them walk across it. I call this the World’s Safest Balance Beam™.

Thing No. 4: Sticky Notes

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This one’s super simple but surprisingly enthralling. Get a pad of sticky notes you don’t particularly like and let him peel them off and stick them to stuff. He’ll be in love with the way he can put them on everything. What’s arguably even more fun, though, is peeling them off, crumpling them up and throwing them.

You could also:

  • Draw designs on them (before sticking them to the wall!).
  • Fold them.
  • Rip them.
  • Older kids can stay interested, too. They can fold teeny annoying paper airplanes or make a puzzle by putting a bunch of them in a grid and drawing a picture, then challenging you or a sibling to put it back together.

In short:

Toddlers don’t need elaborate games to keep them interested. Sometimes all you need is a simple object and a bit of direction.

A final tip: don’t over-manage. Show her how to do it a few times, then let her do her thing. There’s nothing worse than having someone breathing down your neck when you’re trying to poke pom-poms in a bottle.

And if you don’t have siblings or babysitting clients? I hope that on the day when you somehow get picked to watch the church daycare classroom, these ideas will float down your mental stream of consciousness and be useful.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Life

Taking A Casual Saturday Stroll On A Wednesday {APADO #17}

(It has come to my attention that some of the individuals who have not subscribed to this weblog are unfamiliar with the series depicted by the above acronym. Each letter in the acronym is the initial letter of a word in the phrase “A Post A Day – October”, combined in sequence to create the nonsensical word “APADO”.)
(that was unnecessarily verbose)

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I like to take walks – on Saturdays. When it’s sunny and people are home to walk with.

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But today was a Wednesday, I was on my own, and it’s been forty degrees and drizzling all week. Which is great when you’re watching from behind glass and worth complaining over when you’re out in it with no gloves.

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^ raw enthusiasm.

I had big plans. I was going to attempt some aesthetic photography and selfies, just to see if I could. And possibly for the vain reason that I wanted a good picture of myself.

And as far as I could see, it wasn’t going to be too difficult.

Hehe.

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Three days of drizzle means beautiful water beads on the grass.

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Which is great until you walk through that grass and soak your shoes that are not meant for this kind of weather. And then the West Texas Wind™ kicked in and thoroughly refrigerated my feet.

I was not ready to give up yet.

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With things all nice and overcast, it was time to try for those shots.

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Nope. I just look like I’m wondering if it’ll rain. Which it is raining.

Maybe I can get some walking shots.

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Eh. Um. I think the gravel is filling the frame and ruining my composition.

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Is it just me or do I look like an android trying to imitate a human?

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After this little gem of a photo, I decided to pull the plug on my whole aesthetic photography thing. What’s the point?

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So I just played around on the cold, stiff playground equipment and froze my fingers off.

Which was definitely a lot more fun than trying to be someone I know I’m not.

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I found this tiny pine tree and played around with the self timer on my camera and ended up looking like Godzilla, roaring over a towering pine tree…

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The minute I let go of this ideal that photos of me should look a certain way, the minute I stopped noticing the cold and the fact that I was alone.

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^ actually enjoying myself

My feet were still frigid. Oh well.

On the way home, I took some cool pictures of the largest river in my hometown.

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I was so worried that I’d plunk my camera in it, though.

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Fortunately, it survived.

I stood in the middle of the street and took pictures of this puddle because why not.

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I almost felt…like a photographer. Like I was having fun taking photos. Maybe I finally understand why y’all like cameras so much.

Before my fingers were completely done for, I ran over my camera.

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And somehow it looks cool?

I found this key on the sidewalk just before I went back inside to sit on my hands and laugh my head off at my failed aesthetic photography.

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I like to think it’s symbolic.

Because I may have unlocked a big secret that many people are too embarrassed to share.

The harder I try to make myself look good, the worse I feel about myself.

But the minute I throw all the aesthetic-Pintrest goals out the window and just have some fun, I end up with photos I like?

It’s a weird paradox, isn’t it?

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Life

Everyday Miracles {APADO #12}

(APADO = a post a day, october = nerve-wracking heart-attacking self-inflicted blog challenge i should be regretting but i’m not)

(this is going to be a short post, seeing how yesterday’s was as long as four cvs receipts)

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I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it, but I really love to roller skate. I’ve been doing it off and on for years, but I get the same thrill every time I pull a pair of skates on.

But life’s been busy recently, and I haven’t had a chance to get to the rink. It doesn’t help that I outgrew my skates (which were hand-me-downs from one of my sisters). They were a good little pair of quads…before I got gargantuan feet.

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from a go pro vid at the the skating rink (and feat. my older older brother mac)

It’s not as easy when you don’t own your own skates. I have to bring an extra dollar to rent a pair, and they really aren’t terrific. (I mean, if you consider the constant abuse they go through, they’re astonishingly good. But the wheels are really slippery. Maybe it’s a ploy by the management to get insurance money or something.)

Earlier this year, I was considering buying a pair of roller blades. But they’re expensive, and although I have some spending money, I can’t justify spending a hundred dollars like that.

That hasn’t stopped me from wanting a pair, though. They’ve been on the brain since the beginning of summer.

So let’s flash forward to today. My granddad was going to this giant fair-thrift-store-rummage-sale-thing, and being the spontaneous person I am, I came along.

(Now when I say “Granddad”, please imagine a 70-year-old man who looks like he’s 40, laughs like he’s 20, and gives advice like he’s 104. He’s the definition of hardcore awesomeness.)

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I give you – an ENFP paradise!

This place was awash with awesome stuff. I brought my camera, meaning to take lots of pictures, but honestly I was too busy looking at everything on the tables.

At least I got a shot of these baskets of records, though. Aren’t they minorly aesthetic?

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Anyways. I was having fun looking at everything, destressing from a very long week, forgetting about all the things I really should have been doing – when I saw them.

Rollerblades.

Beautiful rollerblades from the era where they had the joint for your ankle to flex correctly. In my size.

For – I could have sworn I was dreaming – $3. Three dollars.

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I still can’t get over how amazing God is. How I had almost given up on getting roller blades, and He dropped them in my lap when I was least expecting it. How He works in big, big ways – but still cares about little things like…rollerblades.

It’s been a really, really good day.

tl;dr: Little miracles happen every day. You’ll never know until you start looking for them.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

 

APADO, Life

Scouty {APADO #9}

(i bet you’re tired of hearing this but THIS IS APADO, THE BLOG SERIES WHERE I TRY TO POST ONCE A DAY FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH OF OCTOBER you know what, i’m tired of hearing it too)

(and honestly i was just looking forward to showing some puppy pictures so yeah)

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Scouty is my dog. And technically, his name is Scout. But I can’t stop giving him nicknames – Scouty, Snickerdoodles, Scoutydoodles, Doodlesnick, The Snicc, Scoutysaunez, Scouty-Wouty, Wittle Scouty, Wittle Buddy. The one I use the most, though, is Scouty.

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captain, scouty – they used to fit in an apron pocket!

Scouty was born on Februrary 2nd of this year, which makes him about nine months old. He has at least one brother – Captain – who belongs to my older older brother.

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captain and scouty fighting

When he was little, he was the explorer of the two of them. He was the first to make contact with our other three dogs. And he was always sniffing around, exploring. It only made sense to name him Scout.

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gahhh these puppy photos

I’ve only had Scout for eight months or so, but I don’t know how I got along without a dog before then. It’s worth the getting up early to feed them, cleaning up their messes, dealing with their barking. Isn’t it funny what we put up with for our pets?

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in a skirmish with jake, one of the older pups

In our dog pack, Scout is kind of in the middle. He likes to do his own thing most of the time. But he is jealous over laps and will growl at anyone who comes to sit on whoever he’s sitting on. Usually, that’s me.

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Scout is half Chihuahua, half Fox Terrier. You almost can’t tell that he has any Chihuahua in him except for his size (he’s tiny!) and the fact that he shivers whenever it’s under seventy-five degrees outside. I’m seriously going to have to get him a dog sweater this winter.

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he looks so over this selfie thing >w<

I’m so lucky to have a dog. Especially one as cute as Scouty.

tl;dr: Just like everyone else, I love my dog.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

APADO, Life, Thoughts

Roller Coasters {APADO #6}

(This is APADO, a series where I attempt to write a post once a day for the entire month of October. And I’m already burning out. And this is fun, I’m reminding myself.)
(This is Saturday night, it’s been a really long week, and I need to get batteries for my camera so I can write some posts that actually mean something – but hey, gotta do whatcha gotta do.)
(And the photo in the graphic’s not mine. And I don’t really care….? It’s from Six Flags’ website. Kudos to them. Ditto to the gifs.)

APADO 6

You never know just how brave you are until you sit in a roller coaster car and pull down the restraint.

Not only are you about to experience ridiculous speeds and incredible Gs, but you also just chose to do so. Willingly.

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For me, this realization brings my heart rate up at least 25 bpm every single time I ride a roller coaster, even though I go to Six Flags a bit more than your average person.

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It’s easy to talk big when you’re safe on the ground, watching the coaster do its thing. But it gets progressively harder as you weave through the cue line, as you get up close to the ride, as you feel the energy it’s throwing off surging beneath your feet.

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And the very hardest part is sitting down in the car, pulling the restraints down, and accepting the fact that you’re going to do something that doesn’t make logical sense.

But that’s the fun part about roller coasters.

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Because you made a stupid decision. You’re doing something that doesn’t make sense.

And you’re able to.

When you’re going up the hill, you know you’ve been really, really rash, but when you’re going down, you know why people love roller coasters.

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Because humans like to go fast.

We like to feel the power of something we’ve invented.

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somewhere in there is yours truly after riding the coaster pictured above – my mom dragged me on it >w<

And we like to feel proud of ourselves when we come screaming into the station. Because against all odds, and everything coming at you – you just rode a hundred-foot-tall metal beast. On purpose. And you had fun.

Imagine the places that kind of mindset will take you.

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me and younger older brother – nothing like a day at the park ^v^

And this is why I love roller coasters.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}

(P.S: yes, I have ridden all the roller coasters pictured in this post. yes, it took much determination/panicking. my home park is six flags over texas.)

 

 

APADO, Life

My Horseback Riding Journey {APADO #5}

(APADO = a post a day; october. I’m trying to post once a day for a month and it’s kind of killing me, but I’m doing alright. *wipes brow*)

(I really, really, really need to get batteries for my camera so I can take some photos for blog posts instead of relying on my backlog.)

(and this post is kinda personal so if that’s not your thing then that’s okay ^w^)

APADO 5

I think it’s public knowledge that I love horseback riding. I’ve been doing it for three years now and I feel like it’s going to be a part of me for the rest of my life.

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these photos all look bad but I don’t have time to fuss over it right now

Though I had loved horses for all my life, I didn’t sit on a horse until I was 12, when I saved up all my money and bought a semester of riding lessons. They weren’t exactly as I’d imagined, but they weren’t too far off. I’d say the best thing I learned was how to groom a horse. I had no idea how much I’d use it later.

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There was a little show at the end of them – just to show off to our parents what we’d learned. I placed last in all the classes, but I had fun.

All my ribbons said “participant”. As in “good try!”

Of course, I didn’t really care that much about the ribbons. (Honestly, I was just glad I had won anything.) What I did care about, however, was how expensive the lessons were.

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hanging with my uncle’s crazy horses

I spent that summer still obsessed with horses (as usual), wondering what I should do. I could either get rich or get creative.

I chose to get creative.

That fall, I started helping out at a broodmare farm. I groomed horses, mucked out stalls, and did whatever I needed to do. And it was here, at Willow Tree Farm, that I found out that I love to ride bareback.

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I also drew this picture of one of their horses. on notebook paper.

There wasn’t, though, enough to do at Willow to justify my riding there – I didn’t have enough experience to do what really needed to be done. Even though I didn’t want to leave, I unofficially started looking for another place. But the chilly evenings spent cleaning tack or riding bareback on their old jumping mare will always be a special time in my life.

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i’m legit always wearing this tobymac shirt to the barn?

I found Skyline Farm at the beginning of last year. It’s a stable that specializes in riding lessons for all ages. Being the dork I am, I wrote a letter asking if I could trade barnwork for riding lessons, and eventually started assisting the trainers during the kids’ lessons. It’s actually a really fun job. And I get paid in – oh yes – riding lessons.

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from one of my gopro videos

I really have to thank my trainers at Skyline for getting me to the place I am in my riding skill today. When I came, I hadn’t even trotted yet. Now I’m jumping and cantering and stuff.

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I even competed in a small show they had there (and actually won first place!)

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from another gopro video

But what’s really made Skyline good for me is all the ground experience I’m getting. I’ve learned so much more through helping out with lessons than if I were just taking them myself.

Honestly, I don’t know what my horse future has in store for me. But I’m just going to keep in stride with it, to use a horse term. Hehe.

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If it’s anything like how things have been so far, I don’t think I’ll ever be bored.

Sayonara for now,

{Tess}