the big reveal

Um... so...

Doug & I are going to Africa.

Doug's company has a charitable foundation that is partnering with two churches, one in Ethiopia and one in Kenya, to form children's homes in each country. The foundation has committed to these churches for the next five years, hoping that each year, the church and community will become increasingly self-sufficient in providing for the children's homes.

We will be going to both Kenya and Ethiopia from November 6-16th. The purpose of this trip is to vision-cast with both churches and serve them in any ways possible. We are going with Doug's CEO, Kevin & his wife Janni, their son Jamin & one of his friends, our dear friend Ellie, her daughter and one of my best friends, Sara, and a guy named Scott from World Orphans.

I don't know what else to say except that I am bursting with excitement. We were invited in August, and I didn't want to say anything to anyone because for some time it didn't look like I would be able to go, but then God just kept putting pieces of the puzzle together! It's all I can think about and all I want to talk about. I'll share more details of our itinerary as they continue to unfold but guys - - WE ARE GOING TO AFRICA!! I am SO EXCITED.



girls' road trip '09

This past weekend my girlfriends Katy & Sara and I took a road trip to Western NY! The girls have been wanting to see "the farm" and meet my folks, so I gladly obliged. We had an awesome time, got to see the family (minus Ethan, who is at Grove City), Victoria and Katie! We spent the majority of the time walking around the farm and hanging out at the house, but we did also venture over to Panek's Pumpkin Patch, and then I gave them a "tour" of Albion!

Picture re-cap:

Saying hi to the cows.

Sara loves minis!

Picking in the sunshine.

Las tres amigas on the wagon

Bannister Babes rocking the plaid!

Beautiful sister. Disclaimer: She's not really taller than me! Bump on the ground.

Absolutely love these girls!

We had an awesome weekend, full of laughter, family, games, apples, caramel apples ala Dad, pancakes, apple pie & love!

taste of home

Several people have threateningly gently reminded me that I haven't updated my blog in a few days. Or a week. And then some. Anyway - I promise that I will reveal the secret soon and also do a post about my visit at home with two of my girlfriends. Until then, here's a sneak preview of the post about my visit at home.

The Scene: Family playing Apples to Apples. (Always out of control in my family)

My friend Katy was the judge. Her green card said "EXPLOSIVE".

All the cards were turned in, and she began reading them out loud.

One of them was "Labor Unions".

Jayne (age 12) exclaimed excitedly, "Yeah, you never know when a baby's gonna pop out!"


today in a rather exhaustive nutshell

Overall: fairly typical

5:35am - 1st alarm goes off, hit snooze & grumble
5:45am - Start to hear pup whimpering
5:50am - 2nd alarm goes off, Doug gets up to attend to pup
6:00am - Stumble into shower
6:05am - Begin gaining consciousness
6:15am - Fully awake, out of shower, mousse in hair, scrunch
6:20am - Blow dry hair
6:30am - Go downstairs, eat Special K Yogurt & Berries for breakfast
6:40am - Go back upstairs, plug in curler, put in contacts
6:45am - Tame scrunched hair with some curls
6:55am - Put on make up, put on work clothes
7:05am - Pat dog, kiss Doug, leave for school
7:15am - Arrive at school.
7:20am - Check emails, prepare for 1st period
7:30am - 10-min bell rings and I panic because my computer is going so slow
7:40-8:20am - 1st per, Amer. Lit - I made them write an essay. On a Monday morning.
8:25-9:30am - 2nd per, Speech - prep for the Personal Experience Speech
9:35-10:25am - 3rd per, Eng. 9 - Vocab quiz and Great Expectations review
10:30-11:25am - 4th per, PREP! Went to Rite Aid to get stickers for 100s, then graded.
11:30am-12:20pm - 5th per, Eng. 9 - Same as before
12:25-12:55pm - Lunch!
1:00-1:50pm - 6th per, Amer. Lit - More essays! More evil teacher!
1:55-2:45pm - 7th per, Eng. 9 - Same!
2:46-3:35pm - Grading, organizing
3:40pm - Drive home to let the dog out and shave my legs
4:00pm -Sara gets to my house, we go get pedicures!
5:00pm - My toenails are a lovely, very dark shade of purple (Dad, you'll hate it and say I'm "gothic").
5:15pm - Arrive home from pedis.
5:20pm - Grill hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner. Why is pepper jack cheese so amazing?
6:00pm - Clean up dinner dishes.
6:15pm - Sit down on couch with laptop to work on a study guide.
6:20pm - Respond to email with Doug first. Doug stands behind me, drink in hand, dictating said email. Zooey was sitting on the floor.
6:20:30pm - Zooey jumps on couch.
6:20:32pm - Zooey jumps at Doug.
6:20:33pm - Zooey connects with Doug's cup. You can imagine what happened, right?
6:20:34pm - Drink sloshes all over me, partially on the couch, a bit on the computer.
6:20:35pm - Doug runs glass to sink. I flip laptop upside down.
6:20:40pm - Doug kennels Zooey.
6:20:42pm - Give laptop to Doug, stand up carefully and get fabric cleaner.
6:20:50pm - Douse back of couch with fabric cleaner. Doug deals with laptop.
6:21pm - Still scrubbing couch.
6:24pm - Go upstairs, shower.
6:40pm - Done with shower, change into comfy clothes.
6:45pm - Sit at table with computer. Check email, Facebook (I know, I know...)
7:00pm - Work on Great Gatsby study guide, test and bingo boards.
8:00pm - Doug takes Zooey for a walk.
8:45pm - Done with school work. Nic gets home.
9:00pm - Begin this list
9:24pm - Done with this list

Remainder of the evening:
-Work on lesson for small group on Wednesday
-Cut up ingredients for crock pot stew for dinner tomorrow (yum)
-Pack up school bags, pick out outfit for tomorrow, pack lunch
-Bed by 10:30pm, hopefully.

my favorite california girl

Wishing my Oxford BFF, Megan Carol Loumagne, a very happy 24th birthday.

Um, a famous English blessing I'd like to share with you on your special day:

May the stars align above you,
the flood waters recede before you,
and the bikers always ring bells.

Megs - I hope you have an awesome day and enjoy God's blessings amply in this next year.


a spattered smattering

  • Sneak preview of apartment pictures (i.e. I haven't gotten around to taking pics of the inside of the house - here's the backyard):
  • I had a student write about someone who was "lactose and tolerant."
  • This past Thursday & Friday I went on Spiritual Life Retreat with our high school (last year's retreat here). It was a lot of fun, and I had some really good conversations with some of my girls. It's been so cool to see them grow over the past year, and I'm excited to see how God continues to teach them.

  • Favorite song of the moment: Jadon Lavik's rendition of "Blessed Assurance" - buy it on iTunes now. In fact, just buy his whole album Roots Run Deep - sweet hymnal bliss.
  • Currently reading: Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
  • Here's a table I made. My nephew just broke it today, so it's no longer with us. I liked it while it lasted!

  • I have to get back to lesson planning, but Doug & I have some exciting news, so stay tuned. Um, it has nothing to do with pregnancy, so don't anyone get your hopes up about that.


5 mins


2. This weekend is Fall Festival in downtown Plymouth. Doug & I walked down with Zooey today... so between having an adorable puppy that everyone stops to admire and seeing practically all my students throughout the night - I felt like a rock star!

3. Admission of guilt: there was a certain 8th grade girl last year who I saw a few times in the hallways and thought, "Ugh. I have to teach her next year." She seemed overly dramatic and obnoxious. So she's a freshman now and she walked in the first day and I thought, "Ugh." Well, uh, turns out she's pretty much the sweetest girl ever and loves English. So, I feel guilty whenever I look at her now.

4. Zooey eats rocks. And poops rocks. This is disturbing to me. Whatever. Puppies are so weird.

5. My count is now up to 3 people in Plymouth that I've seen walking cats. On leashes.

6. The Office starts back up next week!!

& out.


the good, the bad & the downright sad

Today I asked my freshman classes to respond to these questions, "Why is literature important? Why is the ability to write well important?"

Here is a selection of responses. Please note that most of these are not the entire answer, and I didn't include the vast majority of generic answers - just the outliers.

Why is literature important?

“It inspires people. It gives them something to think about. Literature is an art form, an entertainment. Without it we have lost a strand of our cultural DNA.”

“Of all the subjects, literature is perhaps amongst the most important. It shows us the ideas and ways of the past. It also expands our vocabulary and imagination. It can also teach us to display our thoughts for others in an effective manner.”

“Sometimes reading can be fun. It can make us think about it and stuff.”

“When you go on in life you will need to know how to write “thank you” letters and also you will need to know how to write and do other things when you go to get a job.”

“Not only is it entertainment, but also it can tell us about other cultures. It also can test our imagination.”

“Well, I’m not exactly sure what lititure is, but I think I have an idea. I think it is important because without it, you wouldn’t be able to get through school. Also you couldn’t even know how to get through life, because I think lititure is reading, so you wouldn’t even be able to do a simple thing like driving when you get older.”

“You get to read interesting and maybe fun stories sometimes. Also reading literature gives you an imagination about the story and helps you enjoy reading a lot more.”

“It helps your mind to grow and gain knowledge. I really think it is important to learn something new everyday. Reading, I think, if you’re reading a good book, gives life to your soul.”

“Because when you read, you form an opinion on what you are reading. So, if you don’t read, you cannot learn how to have your own opinion and you will just go by what others say.”

"Literature helps us understand different ways to look at the world other than the way we usually look at it."

“If you don’t understand what your reading or if there was nothing for us to read, we wouldn’t be able to learn much and get mature by reading things others may have gone through.”

"Literature is a necessary ingredient for a comprehensive student."

"Literature (not derived from "litter") exposes people to ideas, culture, and philosophy to which they are unaccustomed. It stretches the mind. It asks and attempts to answer serious questions. In some cases, it can even be humorous or otherwise entertaining. Some is informational, some is advisory, some is politically incorrect, some is excellent, some is terrible, some is for fun, some is about making toast... well, you get the point."


Why is the ability to write well important?

“When you write something other people are most likely going to read it, and you want it to look nice. When you can write well it makes you look nice and smart and it shows that you know what your talking about. Hmm… that’s all I can think of!”

“... because you will use it your whole life. Students need to be able to write essays for school. Also, students need to have the ability to write a complete sentence and explain something. This can be used for class work as well as essays.”

“When it comes to essays you have to be able to write well because its graded on everything you write.”

“Writing well is a great skill to have so that if you need to write a note to someone and you don’t have a computer you can write clearly enough so that the person can read the note.”

“So others can understand our writing. It will be easier to write when we know what we are doing and not looking everything up.”

“Writing well is in my opinion, a really excellent ability to have and will help you to do better in anything that involves writing.”

“You have to write in every subject. It is good to write well because you usually have to write a lot of essays and things like that.”

“Writing well is essential or somewhat. Writing well does make it an easier way to express ones feelings through books.”



So yesterday was the first day of school! I was excited about writing a post about how awesome all my students are and how it was a wonderful day overall and everything... but right around lunch time I started developing a headache, which got progressively worse as the day wore on, until finally, as I was halfway through a piece of pizza at 6pm, I looked at Doug and said, "I'm going to bed." And I proceeded to sleep for the next 13 hours. Well, I did wake up momentarily when Doug checked on me at 8, and then I got up when Doug came to bed at midnight so I could wash my face and brush my teeth again and take some more painkillers. 

Anyway! That's really no indication of the first day of school - it was truly awesome! I felt so much more relaxed this time around. The freshmen are seriously hilarious. My juniors are all chatty and friendly, but the freshmen sit really still and barely breath, which is AWESOME. So, of course, I had to give them all a hard time.

We did a little "getting to know you" activity - I filled in my answers on the board so they could see (oh - sidenote - I have an interactive SMARTBOARD. It is awesome. Also, my grammar is atrocious right now, and I'm definitely employing stream of consciousness writing, but I don't really care,!;:?.) where was I?

We did a little "getting to know you" activity - I filled in my answers on the board so they could see, and they wrote their answers on a sheet of paper which they later turned in. One of the questions was "What ONE word would you use to describe yourself?" and with the freshmen, I wrote "MEAN". There were more than a few little gasps of terror. 

Some of the students had pretty funny answers. My favorites were as follows:

Q. "What is something you are worried about in English this year?" 
A. "Restrictively fixed methods" --- this was from a freshman boy. I.E. SOMEONE WHO IS 14 YEARS OLD. Really? Restrictively fixed methods? I laughed out loud when I read that - despite the headache. Is this student secretly a 40-year old investigative education reformist? 

Q. "What is your favorite video game?"
A. "[I forgot the name of some computer game] - not for the faint-minded."

Q. "What ONE word would you use to describe yourself?"
A. "Awesomeliciousness."

Q. "What is something you are looking forward to in English this year?"
A. "Improving my grammer skills." (sic)

Q. "What is something you are looking forward to in English this year?"
A. "You."



Puppies do not like Photo Booth.



MSNBC finally aired their segment on Peaches & Greens!!!

If you missed it, here is the clip!


the opossum story, pt. 2

The Night of the Opossum, Part II

When we last left off, Doug was taking photographic evidence of the intruders while Rachel curled into the fetal position as far from the rodent as possible. 

As the critter control guy (CCG) heroically carried the opossum out of the house, the upstairs neighbor shrieked, "That's that rat I saw before!" 

The CCG calmly said, "It's a possum," to which the neighbor hysterically shouted, "It's a RAT!" only to be calmly but sternly corrected again, "No. It's a possum."

Thankfully, the neighbor followed the CCG outside and returned to her apartment upstairs. In the meantime, Doug was speaking with the CCG outside about how the varmint could have entered the apartment in the first place. The CCG said his best guess was through the drop ceilings, but they'd send someone out the following day to examine more thoroughly. 

Rachel refused to sleep in their bed until they could wash the bedding, just in case the opossum had dared to set foot/paw on it. So they quickly located a nearby hotel and threw together some overnight items. Of course, Rachel wouldn't go in the bedroom, so she instructed Doug as to which clothes were in which drawers so he could grab her stuff as well. They arrived at their hotel at 1:15am and quickly fell into a deep slumber.

The next morning, Tuesday, Doug headed to work, where he emailed their landlord pictures of the opossum and described the whole situation. The landlord finally called him back and agreed to pay for the hotel fee and said he would also call and have someone come to the apartment to set some traps and investigate. Unfortunately, the soonest the company could get there was Wednesday morning. Doug and Rachel didn't feel like staying at a hotel again, but Rachel still wouldn't go in the bedroom, so that night they got out their air mattress and stayed in the living room, where there were no drop ceilings.

On Wednesday, Rachel made herself scarce all day while Doug met the critter control company to assess the damage. That evening, Rachel asked Doug about what they were able to determine.

"Um, I'm not sure you really want to know," Doug replied hesitantly. 

"Please just tell me."

"Well... they assume that the opossum entered through the basement, because there are entry holes everywhere under the deck and around the foundation. So the opossum probably climbed the stairs up from the basement and got in under the space under the door," (Our readers should know that their basement "door" was more like a sliding closet door, and the bottom of the door did not reach the floor, leaving about a foot-wide gap/entryway.) Doug began. "Plus, he found animal droppings all over the place in the basement. And... he lifted up some of the tiles of the drop ceiling... and there is rodent poop everywhere up there too."

"WE ARE GETTING OUT OF HERE." Rachel immediately headed for the computer and began Googling apartments for rent in Plymouth, MI. 

Now, while this may seem a drastic move, our readers must consider that this was just the final straw for our protagonists. If you recall, Doug and Rachel had known for quite some time that animals were scurrying about within their walls, and they had contacted their landlord (in October 2008!!) to make sure he was well aware of his illegal tenants. Doug even told their landlord that if said critters ever got into the house, it would be a big problem. Unfortunately, the landlord never did anything about it, so the problem did indeed escalate.

For the sake of brevity, Doug and Rachel were fed up with their living arrangements (in addition to opossums, remember their lack of heat? The hot water going out, the dust mites, and the fact that the landlord went on business trips to Asia every other week and could never be reached...); they began looking for a new place to live while Doug and the landlord worked together to find an appropriate end date for the lease. Throughout the duration of their time in that apartment, the traps set up by the critter control company caught: 2 opossums, 2 raccoons, 2 squirrels and 1 groundhog. On August 25th, 2009, Doug and Rachel moved into their new apartment, sans opossums. And they lived happily ever after... but not without a few haunting reminders.


My piano bag, which was in the basement

... The other reminder was a petrified possum poop in an open box that was under our bed. That is not a lie.