Friends · Redeeming Grace

Thorns & Roses

Saturday, March 4, 2017

As Dad pulled into the upper parking lot around 8:30 AM, I noticed a line of workers beginning the church work day. My siblings and I were dropped off in the back where Mr. McCoon was weeding by himself. After saying goodbye to Dad (who planned to pick us up at 11:30), we exchanged greetings with Mr. McCoon and got to work.

Mr. Rawlings came out of the building a few minutes later. He greeted my siblings and me before informing us about the donuts, coffee, and hot chocolate in the lobby. When we did not jump up to get some, he gave us a few instructions about weeding before heading off.

It was cold, and I was glad that I had had the good sense to ask Alexa about the weather and wear double layers. I did not, however, have the good sense to take Mr. McCoon up on his offer to supply us with gloves. My hands were fine when he asked, but soon afterward they became sore from sifting through mulch for weed roots and numb from the cold. 😅 😅

Last night, when I was deciding what to wear, I had another one of those feelings. You know, the ones you sometimes have when you end up predicting the future. This time, I had a feeling that Abi was going to wear her black and red plaid top. You can only imagine my surprise when, a few minutes later, I glanced up to see Abi step out of the building wearing that exact top. 😱

I decided to inform my best friend of this oddity when she walked over. However, she did not. “Hey, Abi,” Mr. Rawlings began. “When you’re done go help Tristen.”

She stood by the door and took another bite out of her donut before stepping back inside. Okay. I thought. I’ll tell her later.

Finished with the section I was weeding, I joined Haydn in weeding the bed of rocks. I was telling him about my feeling come true when Mr. Rawlings walked by. “What’s that?” He asked, and I told him. “Wow,” He said. “It’s like your psychic.” Abi was soon by my side, and I filled her in.

Saying that he’d go over it with weed killer, Mr. Rawlings explained that my friends and I didn’t need to weed the rock patch. So we weeded around the corner and continued to work on the beds on either side of the smaller back door. This is where Sarah found us.

Hugs were exchanged before my now frozen fingers prompted me to ask about gloves. Ansa and I followed Sarah who supplied each of us with a pair. We put them on and returned to our work where I remained while Sarah and Ansa left to get donuts.

The two girls soon returned with treats for Abi, Haydn, and I which we ate before deciding to go in for our own break. I mostly went along because I needed to warm up my cold bitten fingers. After several minutes of rejuvenating (during which Abi made several runs to the kitchen only to come to the conclusion that we did not have any lids that fit our cups😂 😂), we returned to work.

Soon my friends and I had weeded around the corner and were working on the side of the building where our job title was changed to “diseased rose bush gatherers.” While a rose bush was being trimmed or pulled up, we gathered all the clippings from the beds and organized them into heaps along the curb. Noah (my best friend’s older brother) would then collect as many piles as possible into a little cart and carry them off to the central brush pile.

When it became apparent that he was not returning from one trip anytime soon, Mrs. Gina had Abi go fetch him. My best friend returned several minutes later riding in the back of Noah’s cart, fist stuck in the air, and a silly expression on her face. Mr. Rawlings laughed at the spectacle and poised a question to Noah who replied, “I don’t know, she just got in.” 😂 😂

Once out, Abi and I helped Noah pile the cart high with thorn ridden branches. To ensure that nothing would fall out, my best friend and I joined Noah on his short journey to the growing pile beside the trash cans. Abi began to commentate on how she had looked like George Washington crossing the Potomac River when she rode in the cart. “Yeah, except for the sun,” Noah said. 😂 😂

Back and forth we went hauling the remains of diseased rose bushes. At her father’s request, Abi left in search of a blower, but I stayed behind to form the next piles to be hauled away. Haydn later joined me with a rake to get the little pieces.

When Mr. Rawlings yanked out the last diseased rose bush (which he was doing by wrapping the shrub with a rope (which was attached to the Rawlings’ SUV) and driving off), Noah abandoned the cart to help Abi start the blower. I gathered up the last of the clippings while Mr. Roberts threw on the bush. I then took the handle of the cart in one hand and steadied its load with the other.

I made it to the pile without losing any cargo and was thankful for my quick discovery of what exactly one has to pull to detach the bucket from the wheels for unloading. I was just beginning to dump the brambles when Noah and Joshua ran over. Together, the three of us went to collect the branches Mrs. Gina was trimming off one of the only rose bushes we were keeping.

My next job was weeding the mulch bed around the sign with Ansa. This took a while. Abi and then Sarah came to help and then Sarah and Ansa left to help Mrs. Gina plant Pansies along the sidewalk.

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Abi and I went on to help mulch but were soon asked to haul off the last of the rose bushes. Abi tried pulling one by its roots, but we soon left in search of some gloves. Minutes later we were in the lobby where we found gloves and a tempting urge to take a break. One and a half donuts later, Noah walked in for some water which he went for after setting his gloves on the table. His dad traded Noah’s pair for his before Abi, who did not find her gloves next to mine, snatched Noah’s up and went out the door. “You can’t take those!” I said. “Those are his.” This had no effect on my best friend, so I followed her. “Sorry,” I told Noah before stepping outside.

Back at the remaining rose bushes, Abi grabbed one by its roots and headed off. I turned to the remaining shrub only to find, upon closer inspection, that my “bush” was actually two bushes and several clippings mushed together. I came to this realization right when Noah appeared. Understanding my dilemma, he volunteered his help which allowed the “bush” to make it from the upper parking lot to the brush pile in the lower parking lot in one piece.

While delivering another load of mulch to Haydn and Abi, I sliced my heel open by stepping on a palm tree branch. Once the mulch was unloaded, I sat down to examine the cut. Blood was trickling out at a steady rate, so I announced that I was going to get a Bandaid. “You don’t need a Bandaid!” Abi exclaimed. Okay, well I was at least going to stop the blood flow. That’s what I was doing in the lobby minutes later when Ansa came in to tell me that it was time to go.

We met the Hawkins at Bruster’s where my siblings and I got free ice-cream for showing up in our pajamas (we changed on the way). We hung out for a few minutes before heading off to run a few errands. Our last stop was the Bruster’s near my grandma’s house. I remembered that location was our final stop on PJ Day last year, too. I had been exhausted from a sleepover with Abi and disappointed that we weren’t able to get ice-cream together. Next year. I had told myself. Next year. We see how that turned out. 😂 😂

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My Sister

Ansa’s Bangs

During the end of February of 2017, my younger sister gave herself bangs. I first noticed them one night during bread pick up. Ansa had combed them to the side so that they blended with the rest of her hair, but one clump had been rustled, so it stuck up in a slightly noticeable way. I asked Ansa about it, but she brushed me away with an “I don’t know.”

The next day we went to the Biltmore house and, as we hung out around the fountain, my sister was accidentally brushed so that there was no doubt that her hair had been chopped. “Why’d you cut your hair?” I asked.

“I didn’t cut it.” She replied, but I could tell she was lying.

“Yes, you did.” I insisted.

“No, I didn’t.” This playful little argument went on, back and forth, but soon ended. I teased her about it here and there for the rest of the day, saying that I wanted to see her bangs combed down, but she would not oblige.

Back home, Ansa came into my room before she went to take her shower, so I asked again, “Why did you cut your bangs?”

I think she could then tell that she wasn’t in trouble, so she admitted, “I don’t know. I don’t like them.”

“Then why did you cut them?” I asked.

“I was drowsy and had a pair of scissors,” Ansa began. “So I cut them, and when I woke up, I realized how bad they looked, so I straightened them out.” I appreciated her honesty.

Top: March / Middle: July / Bottom: December

Ansa then brushed them out, and I agreed, they looked hideous. She looks really cute (barely recognizable), but the bangs looked grotesque. I told her I wanted to see how long they were when wet, so she returned after her shower with a comb in hand and bangs brushed down.

The trimmed hairs were only long enough to crown the top of Ansa’s forehead. I evenly spaced them out, but it made no difference. Trying to be optimistic, I told her that when they grow out some, they will be a decent length to wear in public. I asked her if had she wanted to try bangs, but Ansa declared that she hates them (which is what makes this whole situation very ironic). 😂 😂

Family

America’s Largest Home

Saturday, February 25, 2017

I didn’t realize we hadn’t been to the Biltmore house in over two years. Because of how much my family and I have been traveling lately, Mom and Dad gave up the seasonal passes we once took advantage of. There was a time when you could find us at Biltmore once or twice a season. Because of this, my siblings and I were convinced that we could recreate the house in Minecraft from memory (that is until we toured the house (again) with this thought in mind). 😂 😂  Thanks to passes given to us by a former neighbor, we were able to visit once more.

The drive to Biltmore (which I completed) was one hour to our traditional Zaxby’s lunch stop and 50 minutes from there to our parking spot in Deer Park. It was not as hard as I expected. Dad introduced me to Cruise Control which is pretty much the coolest feature ever. My stiffening legs were very grateful.

We walked through the house in which costumes from movie adaptations of books George Vanderbilt (the founder of Biltmore) read were being displayed, like a few that have been worn by Keira Knightley and Robert Downey Jr. themselves. How cool is that? Let me just say, a lot of actors are a whole lot shorter than they appear to be in their movies. 😂 😂

Dad drove from Deer Park to the Gardens parking (where we waited for Mom to find a tree) and from there to Antler Village. Sometime during this journey, a squirrel dashed across the road and Dad (being Dad) announced the creature’s presence before pretending to run over it. Ansa, a lover of all things, screamed in protest. “Don’t you dare destroy God’s beautiful creation!” She declared.

We all laughed along with Dad who exclaimed. “She drew the God card on us!” Oh, my. 😂 😂

It was in Antler Village that we came across the most prominent change of all: a new hotel. It is huge and so has changed the face of Antler Village, which is what caused us to feel very disorientated. On top of the that, the winery is being wholly rethought (part of it already has been). Of course, this made Ansa, who dislikes change and loves tradition, very displeased. I personally fancy how they’re redoing the winery. It looks very modern. However, I do not like how the new hotel butts up against Antler Village. I feel like it takes away from the outdoorsy theme, making the area look more like a little city rather than an organic, environment-friendly village. Oh, well.

After playing several rounds of bingo, my family and I left the Antler Village parking lot at 8:05 PM. I drove for a straight hour and 30 minutes until I reached our garage. Exhausted from this much needed (according to Dad) escape from the house, everyone headed straight for bed. Thank you, Mrs. Amy, for the opportunity to visit this familiar, but different place!

Greer Middle College

Bad Luck

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

As usual, I was barely halfway through my college test when students began to finish and leave. Another quarter of my examination later, I heard someone on crutches exit the room. I only paused for a moment to note that I did not recall anyone in my Sociology class being on crutches before turning my thoughts back to my work. I was the last person to finish the test, so I walked back to “the high school,” as Ms. Chidester refers to GMC, alone.

Becca and Jared Christopher were sitting at a picnic table on the deck when I arrived. Propped up next to Jared was a pair of crutches. Of course, I sat down and had them tell me the whole story.

Apparently, the Christopher family was renovating their house and Jared, whom Becca often refers to as a “dingus,” 😂 😂 was walking around barefoot. As luck would have it, he stepped on a nail that went through the sole of his left foot and came within a centimeter of striking his bone. Jared was taken to the hospital to get the spike removed, which the doctor did in addition to hitting a nerve which is what put Jared on crutches. Poor guy. 😂 😂

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Becca was convinced that Jared’s nail incident happened because, a week before the event, he had used crutches just for fun despite this action being bad luck. Poor, Jared. His injured foot was so swollen he couldn’t even put his shoe on. Thanks to the crutches, Jared’s arms were receiving one big workout, the effects of which prompted a rest break halfway back from college.

Becca, Jared, and I paused at the top of the stairs where Madelene, Haley, and Emma (who were on their way to Greenville Tech) met us. Becca filled Emma in on why Jared was on crutches, and Madelene suggested that we get a golf cart. “Everybody pitch in a few dollars.” She said. I thought Madelene was referring to us as “everybody.” “No,” She explained as she followed Haley and Emma up the hill toward “the college.” “I meant the school.”

“Oh, well, if we do, that let’s get a subway or something,” I said. “Or those things they have at Disney. What are they called?” I was referring to a Monorail.

“Or a hang-glider!” Madelene exclaimed.

“Or a zip-line!” I proposed. “That would be fun! Just attach it to our roof,” I said, motioning toward our building-to-be. “And bring it down to Greenville Tech.” Becca and Jared liked this idea, and we all agreed that a zip-line would be a lot of fun. 😂 😂

The three of us paused again under the carport so, by the time we stepped onto the deck, the third bell was about to ring. Because of this, Becca and Jared headed straight to class while I went to sign in. “Don’t trip, Jared!” I called after them. He didn’t. 😂 😂

Redeeming Grace

Cross Current Sunday February 2017

Sunday, February 19, 2017

T H E  C H U R C H  S E R V I C E

“I’m getting my braces off tomorrow!” I announced to Abi and Ainsley. They cheered. “And on Tuesday I am going to get glasses!” I joked.

“You know that with glasses you would look like the world’s biggest geek, right?” Abi checked. Yeah, sure, whatever you say. 😂 😂

I was cleaning my room yesterday (because Abi was coming over today) when I picked up some old, cut up towels I had just sorted from my cloth drawer. Haydn and Ansa were hanging out with me, so I said, “I am going to delete this.” All three of us burst out laughing. “I mean: I am going to put this in the trash.” I corrected myself. “Oh my word, I am such a geek!”“What?” Noah, who had just joined our circle, asked. I opened my mouth, but an explanation came out of Abi’s. “That’s bad!” Noah exclaimed once caught up.“And coming from Noah!” Abi, who keeps me well informed on how big of a geek Noah is, exclaimed.“That’s bad!” Noah repeated, and we all laughed. 😂 😂

I will admit that for awhile now, whenever I make a mistake (whether it be while crafting or coloring) the first thing I always think of is “Command Z,” which is the keystroke to make when you want to undo something. Yeah… 😂 😂

____________________

Exactly one year ago today, we moved into our building. I feel like we’ve never been anywhere else. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year. Wow, how time flies. I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun.

To celebrate, there were cookies set out in the lobby after the service. I was in line to get some when I thought of asking Imani and Noble if they were going to be in the choir tonight. I looked up just in time to see the two girls walk out the door with their parents. Oh, well.

I joined a circle where Abi was quizzing Cameron about his prom date. “What color is her hair?” Abi asked.

“Uhhh…” Cameron said.

“Is it me brown or Abi brown?” I asked.

“There isn’t much difference,” Noah said, comparing me and Abi’s hair.

“Her’s is darker,” I explained.

“Oh,” Noah replied.

“Or Ainsley brown?” I volunteered to a still thinking Cameron. “Or Haydn brown or-” I looked around at Noah and Patricia’s hair. “We have a lot of brown in this circle.” 😂 😂

“It’s brown,” Cameron concluded.

“You’re such a guy!” Abi exclaimed before imitating Cameron’s answer. “How tall is she? This tall, this tall, this tall, this tall, or that tall?” She asked, pointing around the circle from herself to Haydn to me to Ainsley to Cameron and lastly to Noah.

“Uhhh… That tall.” Cameron answered pointing at me.

“What’s her eye color?” Abi asked. Cameron put on a thinking face. “I’m not a stalker, I just want to know,” Abi explained. It was concluded that Cameron does not know her eye color. 😂 😂

Haydn asked Cameron if it would hurt if he stabbed him and, while Cameron observed the oddity of the question, I was reminded of a distant memory. I turned to Abi. “Once Kyler and I were talking about what would be the least painful way to die.”

“When was this?” Abi asked.

“I don’t remember.” I honestly replied. “We agreed on a gun to the head.” Abi nodded in agreement. “The other option was a knife to the heart.”

“What?” Noah asked.

I turned to him while observing Haydn in a conversation with Cameron (which was somehow related to the imaginary knife in Haydn’s hand 😅 😅). I repeated my story, and Noah nodded in agreement before the conversation continued.

A  D A Y  W I T H  A B I

Abi and Sarah went home with my family, so (because of them, Cross Current, and choir practice) we didn’t go to Grandma’s for lunch. After setting her stuff in my room, my best friend and I talked until Sarah called us to come help set the table. Once prepared, us kids went to the backyard where Abi and I sang whatever song came to our head. 

After lunch, my best friend and I helped clean up before returning to my room. We gathered stuff to bring down to the woods before going to the garage to get hammers and nails. With our arms full of supplies, Abi and I headed down to the forest and were soon at the cabin.

I (sadly) had not been down there since Abi visited just after Christmas, but my siblings kept me informed about our creation’s deteriorating state, and that is precisely what I found. Everything was falling apart. My best friend and I were fixing the roof when Ansa and Sarah brought us Apple slushies. Yum! 😋

Upon realizing that merely nailing the roof back up was not going to work, we immediately regretted not bringing the various ropes I had left on my bed. Deciding that that was the best way to fix the fort, Abi and I gathered our stuff and returned to the house to get it. My best friend and I retrieved the rope but forgot to get the rake, and I accidentally left my hammer. 🙄

Back in the woods, we fixed the roof, replaced the IKEA bag wall with some old umbrella tops, folded and nailed the IKEA bags over the hole in the front left wall, and made a few additional repairs. Haydn joined us about halfway through, and on the way back I suggested that we go for a walk to the creek.

When we returned to the house, Mom told me that we would be leaving in 15 minutes. So, after I washed and dried my feet, I went upstairs and informed everyone else. While Ansa and Sarah changed, Abi, Haydn, and I sat on the floor in my room until Mom called us.

C R O S S  C U R R E N T

When we pulled up to the church building, Cameron and Mrs. Ballard were just outside the back doors sweeping up something while barefoot Noah watched. Mrs. Ballard informed us that she had been unable to open the door, so she attempted to balance her glass dish of cake on her leg, and it slipped, fell, and shattered. I sympathized with her while making sure Cameron wasn’t about to eat the piece of cake he was holding. 😂 😂 Mom (who went shopping with the girls for a snack for Cross Current) bought a new dish for Mrs. Ballard. Mrs. Ballard was very touched.

Mrs. Rawlings, to my disappointment, had come to take Abi home so that my best friend would not have to sit through band practice. Noah’s presence must have been a last minute thing since he had no shoes. 😂 😂 As I came to this conclusion, I looked down the hall and through the open back doors where Noah was pretending to stomp on the glass shards with his bare feet. 😂 😂 After a hug from Ansa and Sarah (at the same time) and one from Abi, I took out the needed lyrics and stepped onstage.

I ended up being the only fraction of the choir that showed up, but it wasn’t until later that I found out why: all four girls (Ainsley, Cailin, Imani, and Noble) did not feel ready to fill the role they had expressed interest for- which is totally fine with me. I wouldn’t want any of them to do something they don’t feel prepared for. I did my best to make sure they understood that. I didn’t want them to feel bad that I had to sing all by myself. Surprisingly, I was not nervous at all. Maybe it’s my abundant love for this church, or perhaps it’s the spiritual growth I’ve experienced since I last stepped onto a stage (to perform), but the whole situation felt very natural and comfortable.

Facing the stage, I was on the left behind a mic and stand. Behind me was Mrs. Ballard and her piano. On the right of the stage was Mr. Phillip (who led worship since Mr. Childs was speaking) and behind him was Cameron who was playing the drum. Before we began to practice, I asked if I needed to sing harmony or something or if they just wanted me to sing the way I usually do. Both adults began to speak words that I did not know, and I told them so. They asked me about how I typically sing, but I had nothing but “the same as the original singer, but I sometimes go higher or lower.” Mrs. Ballard said something about singing a “half step lower,” and so I moved down to the stair leading up to the stage.

“Here?” I asked, and laughter filled the air.

“That was funny.” Mrs. Ballard said.

“Thanks,” I replied. “I try.”

“She has a lot of her dad in her.” Mr. Phillip said, which is true. It was decided that I just sing however I normally do. 😂 😂

We went through the songs with a significant “technical difficulties” break in the middle before finishing with plenty of time to spare. Mr. Phillip and Mrs. Ballard had a very technical sounding conversation about transitions after which I asked if we could go through the transitions because, from what I heard, they sounded very short and I wanted to know if I had enough time to switch the lyric papers on my stand. Mrs. Ballard showed me how she rotated through her’s and I copied that before we practiced the transitions which were much more straightforward than they sounded in words. We finished at 5:46 (14 minutes before Cross Current is supposed to start) and so, after getting some water, I went to go throw the frisbee with Haydn.

“Who’s that?” I asked Haydn when a green van pulled into the upper parking lot.

“Maybe the Haskells?” He suggested.

“I doubt,” I replied, but something about that van seemed very familiar… Moments later the Rawlings turned into the lower parking lot and we ran to greet them.

As I dashed across the parking lot to where Mr. Rawlings had parked, I noticed two figures standing at the corner of the building: Kai and Ian Haskell. I couldn’t believe it. “The Haskells are here!” I exclaimed to Abi as she closed her door.

“I know!” She exclaimed in reply before both of us began to chatter at once about how we came to this realization.

“You guys sound like groupies.” Mrs. Rawlings said as she opened the trunk and reached into it for something. “You need to stop, it’s rude.”

“Abi,” came Mr. Rawlings’ voice. “You need to stop.”Although Abi was addressed, I felt equally as guilty. I hadn’t meant to be rude, I was merely excited that good friends I missed were here to fellowship.

Now quiet, Abi asked, “Should we go say hi?”

“Yes,” I replied. “They’re visitors.” We began walking towards them, and when we were stepping out from under the awning I exclaimed, “Hi! How are you guys doing?”

“Good,” Kai replied.

“Would you like to come inside?” Abi asked.

“We were just waiting for our aunt,” Kai explained.

“Imani and Noble’s mom?” I asked.

“Yes,” Kai replied.

“Are they here?” I asked, looking around the corner of the building. All I saw was a green van.

“No,” Kai replied. “We were waiting because my aunt is usually late and we didn’t want to stroll right into a building because that would be awkward.”

“Oh, no, not at all.” Abi and I replied as Mr. Rawlings walked up. He introduced himself, and Kai introduced himself and Ian before we headed inside.

“Introduce me,” Abi whispered in my ear as we followed the guys into the Multi-Purpose room.

“Kai,” I said, and he and Ian turned toward us. “This is Abi. Abi, this is Kai and Ian. Ian, this is Abi.” They exchanged hellos as Noah walked up. I looked back from Noah to see Ian whisper something to Kai before they laughed. “Do you not like to be called ‘Ian’?” I asked. When Kai had introduced him earlier what I heard didn’t sound like “Ian.”

“No,” Ian replied. “She just forgot my name.”

“I said, ‘Hello, I forgot your name.’” Abi explained.

“Oh. Do you guys want to go throw the frisbee?” I asked.

There was a little, random conversation before Kai said, “Yes, we can go throw the frisbee, but I have terrible hand-eye coordination.”

“That’s okay,” I replied. “I do, too.”

I had so many questions about Kai’s upcoming trip to Japan that I was going to start a conversation before Kai ended up behind me and next to Noah, who seemed to ask about the said trip but I could not hear most of what was said. So I turned to Abi as we approached the corner of the building. “I’ll race you,” I said, and no questions were asked. 😂 😂

Cameron, who was already on the front lawn with Haydn and the frisbee, faked fright at the sight of two teenage girls running straight toward him. Abi and I, however, fell down laughing long before we neared him. 😂 😂 Abi helped me up, and we played a game of frisbee that, although it did not expose anyone to be downright terrible, the frisbee itself did go on a few adventures. The first of which was its flight into the middle of Highway 14 and the second was when it landed on the roof of the church building. Both times Kai came to its rescue. We love our visitors. 😂 😂

After worship and small-group discussions, snack time began. I sat down next to Haydn who, I quickly caught on, had asked Kai about his travel schedule. “You’re not coming back?” I asked Kai.

“Unless his plane wrecks,” Haydn said, leaving to refill his cup.

“Well, that’s dark,” Kai said. 😂 😂

“Then he couldn’t come back…” I trailed off. “So, you’re not coming back?”

“I am,” Kai replied. “Around Christmas.”

“So you’re gonna be gone for less than a year,” I said.

“Yes and, if everything goes well, I hope to go back to stay and be a translator.”

“Oh, cool,” I said. “Where did your interest in Japan come from?”

“I was reading about other cultures.” He replied before going on to say something about a 1 : 80 ratio that shows that people here are really selfish while people in Japan are very selfless. Abi pointed out that he just called all of us selfish and dramatically announced that she felt condemned before Kai continued. “Plus, the people are nice, and I like their food.”

“I should go,” Haydn said, liking the idea of friendly people and good food.

“Yeah, totally,” Kai replied before excusing himself to take a phone call from his dad. Ian sat down in Kai’s spot.

“Hey, will you pay for my trip to Japan?” Haydn asked.

“No,” Ian replied. “I’m paying for my own trip to Japan.”

“Are you following your brother?” I asked.

“No. Only for, like, a week.” Ian explained.

“Oh. That’s cool.” I replied.

Haydn and I talked to Ian for a couple more minutes before I glanced over at Dad who motioned my brother and me to follow. “I have to go- We have to go,” I told Ian. “Maybe I can drive.”

“How good are you?” Ian asked.

“Uhhh…” I thought. “Well, I’ve never been pulled over by the police or smashed any mailboxes.”

“Well, You’re better than my brother,” Ian said.

“What did he do?” I asked, already laughing.

“He backed a truck into a basketball pole which somehow scratched up the front of the car.” 😂 😂 Ian paused a moment to let Haydn, and I laughed before explaining that he’ll be able to drive by himself before the end of the year.

“Well, it was nice talking to you,” I said.

“You, too,” Ian replied.

“Thanks for coming,” I told him before looking up at Noah. “See you Sunday.”

“See you,” Noah replied.

I walked halfway across the Multi-Purpose Room before remembering the sheets of lyrics I had left onstage. I changed course to get them and was surprised to find that the stage had been cleared all except for a pile of papers and a purple pen (which I let Mrs. Ballard borrow). I gathered up the collection before continuing on my original route out the door.

Noah was now in the hall with the circle including his mom and Kai, so we exchanged goodbyes again before I turned to Kai and exclaimed, “Good luck in Japan!”

He had told us that a farewell party was to be thrown for him on March 4. “That’s a command: march forth.” 😂 😂

My Sister

Monkey’s Birthday

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Not too long after she was born, my younger sister received a red, white, and pink heart-covered monkey. Because of his appearance, Ansa automatically dubbed February 14 as the plaything’s birthday. This year, to celebrate, Ansa made a cake, and the entire family sang good wishes to the thing that has received so much loving we are surprised it is still in one piece. 😂 😂 Happy birthday to Ansa’s beloved stuffed animal, Monkey! And happy Valentine’s Day (or “Singles Awareness Day,” as my Chemistry teacher calls it 😂 😂) to everyone else!

Me, Myself, and I

Eva, stop!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Thanks to Dad’s abundant supply of Amazon Echo Dots, I now have one that (among other tasks) I use for my alarm. To turn off an Echo alarm, you have to say, “Alexa, stop.” This particular morning she (as usual) woke me up at the right time (6:40 AM), but I responded with, “Eva, stop.” Nothing happened. “Eva, stop!” I said louder. That’s not her name, is it? I thought, realizing my mistake. “Alexa, stop.” My room fell back into silence and I went back to sleep, not the least bit aware that I needed to get up because a thing called school exists. 😂 😂 Thankfully Mom came in eight minutes later asking why I wasn’t up. If this doesn’t prove how tired I am, I don’t know what will. Have you ever addressed a Dot by the wrong name? Share your story in the comments!

Redeeming Grace

Super Bowl 2017

Sunday, February 5, 2017

My family and I were going to go to a friend’s house to watch the Super Bowl but, when our to-be hosts and my dad added to the number of those sick in our church, we went to the Cross Current Super Bowl party instead. Mom, Haydn, Ansa, and I were the first to arrive at the Rawlings house, the destination of the event. Mr. Morgan, Liam, and Liam’s friend Michael came shortly after us, but Liam and Michael immediately returned outside to play soccer, so it was pretty much just the Rawlings and us for a little while longer. Ironically, Abi (my best friend who is all about individualism) and I were matching. 😂 😂

By the time the next person showed up (who I believe was Isaac), my friends and I had just gathered on the front porch and dubbed ourselves as the official welcoming committee. Guests only poured in from there, but we only greeted half of them (which included Ryan, Katie, Mr. Patteson, Patricia, Madi, Zack, and Hunter). By that time, it was getting dark and chilly, so everyone went inside.

We hung around in the living room during “America the Beautiful” and our national anthem (which Abi lip-synched most animatedly) before joining those who had begun the food line. I had not eaten dinner, so I loaded my plate while Abi, who had proclaimed herself as sated, patiently watched. “You know what,” she said. “Now that I smell it I actually am hungry.” With food and punch (which Abi referred to as “party”) occupying our hands, we found seats in the sunroom where Mr. Rawlings had set up a nifty looking movie screen and projector. Expecting to return shortly, I left my best friend to refill our supply of punch. However, my brief mission turned into a lengthy journey.

I greeted Imani, telling her I had waved when she arrived. She apologized for not seeing me before explaining that her eyesight is pretty bad even with her glasses. 😂 😂 I assured her it was alright. I just wanted to let her know that she was welcomed. When I reached the punch bowl, Mrs. Rawlings was re-filling it, so I set down my cup and went to take some photos. After snapping one or two, I returned and picked up a glass for Abi. I wrote her name on it but, realizing how hard it would be to take a photo with two cups of punch in hand, I set it down next to mine and went to get a few more pictures of the game day set up. This time my return was prolonged because Mrs. Morgan decided to strike up a conversation with me. Abi ended up joining our discussion and, shortly afterward, getting her own punch. 😅 😅

We remained around the food table forming circles, chatting, breaking said circles, and repeating. At one point Eva got ahold of the phone (which Mom, who had gone home to watch the game with Dad, left with me) and took a lot of pictures once Eva figured out how an Apple camera works (her family uses Samsung). It was Abi who suggested we go to the front porch and it was there that Patricia (or Madi, I’m not sure) suggested we go on the trampoline. Madi asked Mrs. Rawlings, who told her to ask Mr. Rawlings (who said yes), so off we went.

There were A LOT of girls on that trampoline (11, to be precise) to the point that it was sagging under our weight, but that’s what made the activity so fun. Abi opened up Amazon music and played “Fight Song” which got everyone moving and several girls singing along. Since there were no guys around, it was just like a massive sleepover. We made a star with our legs, a pinwheel with our heads, and stargazed a little before playing Dead Man. Despite the silence promoting game, I kept the music playing. It was chaos. During another round of stargazing, everyone but Imani, Abi, Patricia, and me left.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Rawlings called us in to play Pictionary (since it was apparently now Half Time). The girls and I obeyed, suddenly realizing that that’s where everyone else must have gone. The terms were all football-related which I thought set the girls up for failure, but we had some good guesses, so it was alright.

Abi had to illustrate a coin toss. The girls were supposed to guess but Noah, just for fun, shouted out, “A cyclops’s nose!” I think everyone but poor Abi found his comment funny. 😂 😂 I exclaimed the correct guess seconds later, and Mrs. Rawlings accused my best friend and me of telepathy. I denied the charge before explaining that I can’t read Abi’s face, let alone read her mind. 😂 😂

My term was “overtime,” which Patricia guessed before I had even drawn the second hand on the clock. I gave her a high five before she explained that my term was originally going to be her’s. 😂 😂 I’m not sure who ended up winning, but I had fun playing, and that’s all that really matters.

After Pictionary, the girls retired to the kitchen where we began Apples to Apples. My siblings and I had to leave in the middle of that game.
My Sister

Ansa’s Room

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Being a perfectionist, I love having everything neat and tidy, a state Haydn and Ansa seemed determined to prevent when we shared a room. So one day, with Mom’s permission (and while my siblings were in a bath), I moved all of their belongings from the room that was painted pink for the girls to the one that had been coated in camo for Haydn (we rotated between the two). My siblings were not happy about the change, but they did not take action, so everything soon settled back down.

I love having my own room. Not only can I keep it clean, but I can also arrange its contents however I wish without argument. I find this activity to be fun, and so I partake in it often. To see how my room has changed over the years, click here. You will have to view more than one post to see the progress.

When Ansa, too, began to find the constant messy state of the room she shared with Haydn aggravating, I (of course) started advertising the instant relief of having your own room. For a long time, Ansa was on and off about the idea. She didn’t want to leave Haydn alone, and Dad did not want to see the pair split.

Finally, Ansa decided that, for her 11th birthday, she wanted a room to herself. After the long and tedious process of clearing out our school room, Ansa officially moved in. I have lost count how many times she has reorganized her new room since. 😂 😂 Do you (or did you) share a room? Share your experience in the comments!

Friends

Forget the Rules

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Forget the rules. If you like it, wear it.

After acquiring a pink and white striped skirt similar to other garments owned by two girls in my church, we decided to match. I don’t have a stripey skirt,” my best friend, Abi, told me after noticing the triplets. “And I don’t like matching.” Personally, I find it fun to occasionally highlight similarities in this world that amplifies uniqueness. However, we are all entitled to our own opinion. 😂 😂 What do you think about matching? Tell me in the comments!