Happy Birthday Grace!!


Dear Grace,

Happy birthday! I hope today is filled with lots of fun and adventure. Thanks for all the fun and crazy times and for listening to me ramble on about my problems – you’re my favorite! You are going to have an awesome time at UK, as long as you remember that it’s okay to be less than perfect once in a while. 🙂 I hope you are having an absolutely wonderful birthday!

Love,

Mary

P.S. Yes, I actually wrote this May 9th and I am copying your idea, but I didn’t know if I would have internet access on your birthday and I wouldn’t want to miss being the first one to wish you happy birthday!

Reducing Food Waste In America


Mary Webb

ENG 102

28 April 2012

Reducing Food Waste in America

Food waste is a huge problem in America. According to Jonathan Bloom, a freelance journalist and food waste expert, “Every day, America wastes enough food to fill the Rose Bowl – the 90,000-seat football stadium in Pasadena, California,” (American Wasteland xi).  Just think about it – that is enough food to feed about 49 million people (Sleeth 176) and it was thrown in the trash, even though most of it was still perfectly edible and safe to eat.  We also are the worst culprits of this habit – while the rest of the world wastes about thirty-three percent of their food, America wastes more than forty percent (Huff).  Food waste is a big problem and has consequences just like any other problem.

Wasting food has many consequences, both economic and environmental.  When you waste food, you waste the money you used to buy it. The average family of four loses $2,200 – $2,200 that could have been spent on a vacation or a new TV – through food waste each year (Bloom, American Wasteland 24).  Food piles up in landfills and causes environmental problems, including emitting large amounts of methane. In 2010, food waste accounted for almost fourteen percent of the total municipal solid waste stream, making it the second largest component (EPA, “Basic”). These large amounts of food in landfills quickly rot and emit significant amounts of methane – a potent greenhouse gas with twenty-one times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (EPA, “Basic”). These methane emissions make landfills the second leading source of human-related methane emissions in the United States (Bloom, American Wasteland 16). However, these are not the only consequences of wasting food.

When food is wasted, the energy and resources put into making or growing it are wasted as well. Food represents seventeen percent of total American energy use (Bloom, American Wasteland 19). In addition, about four-hundred gallons of oil, or thirty-three tanks of gas are used to feed one person for a year (Bloom, American Wasteland 20).  Not only is the energy wasted, but the land used to grow the food is wasted as well. Bloom says, “Trimming waste would slow demand for more farmland, which would in turn reduce soil depletion and prevent erosion” (American Wasteland 22). So, if food waste squanders our resources and wastes our money, why is food being wasted in such huge quantities?

The answer to that question is complicated, but there are a few main causes of food waste – overproduction, long travel distances, market problems, and people’s disconnect from their food. According to Bloom, Americans grow about twice as much food as we need, over 590 billion pounds of food each year (American Wasteland xi, 19). This means products sit on store shelves or in fields until they spoil and are thrown away because there is too much of the product.  If prices drop, some growers have to plow under their crops. Losses due to markets cause eighteen to twenty percent waste (O’Hanlon). Another problem is the long journey products, especially produce, have to travel. The average U.S. supermarket produce item travels 1,500 miles before it arrives at its destination (Bloom, American Wasteland 4). There is a high chance of the produce being damaged on the way and since store owners will not take damaged produce, this forces the truck drivers to dump their load. Sometimes they can dump it at a food bank or soup kitchen, but most of the time the damaged produce is just thrown away.

The issues above are mostly the fault of the producers and growers, but that does not mean consumers do not play a large part in also wasting food. “’I think that without a doubt, when people say that they don’t waste food, they believe it. There’s a huge disconnect,’ says William Rathje, a Stanford archaeologist who ran the University of Arizona Garbage Project for years. ‘People don’t pay attention to their food waste because it goes straight into the garbage or disposal. It’s not like newspapers that stack up in the garage,’” (Bloom, “The Food Not Eaten”).  The major reason food is wasted by consumers is because the majority of Americans live in the city and many have no idea where their food comes from. Consumers need to be aware of where their food originates and the negative impact it creates when they waste that food.

The responsibility for fixing America’s food waste problem rests on many shoulders, but the ones who can make the biggest difference is the consumers.  Consumers not only can reduce their own food waste, but also pressure companies to reduce their food waste as well. To reduce household food waste, the EPA recommends the strategy of “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle”.

First, reduce the amount of food coming into your house. Figure out what meals you are going to eat that week and then stick to that menu. Bloom says, “The food items we often waste stem from impulse purchases, recipes we intend to but never make, and our failed best intentions” (“The Food Not Eaten”). Planning a menu will help you not make impulse purchases that you will end up tossing out later.  When you go shopping, buy in quantities that you realistically need and will use. Think “what do I have to eat” instead of “what do I want to eat” (EPA, “Household”).

Second, reuse the food you have. This does not mean anything gross, it just means eat your leftovers.  Leftovers make great lunches the next day or you could even make a completely new meal. Many great recipes online give ideas on how to reuse your leftovers.  If you are not going to eat the leftovers right away, freeze them.  “You’d be surprised by just how many foods can withstand a spell in the freezer, from apples to zucchini. (Milk, bread, herbs, and eggs are other surprisingly freezer-friendly edibles.) Freezing food can keep those buy-one-get-one deals from going awry. And freezers are a godsend for anyone who enjoys smoothies and soups,” (Bloom, “A Food Waste Primer”). If you have surplus fruits and vegetables, try canning them. There are oodles of ways to can fruits and vegetables, such as jam or spaghetti sauce. A word of caution: If this is your first time trying canning, make sure you find a good instruction book before you begin such as Ball’s Blue Book of Preserving.  Canning is an easy way to save your extra fruits and vegetables and even meat, but if you do it wrong, you could end up with botulism or other nasty things, so always follow the directions!

Third, recycle anything you have leftover. Composting is a great way to do this.  Composting “eliminates methane emissions, as food decomposes aerobically (as long as the pile is turned)” (Bloom, American Wasteland 19). It is easy to start your own pile. Designate a spot in your yard or purchase a container and dump all of your yard clippings, food scraps, and other compostable materials in it. There are many different kinds of compost containers ranging from a simple wooden box to a barrel on a stand so it can be spun to turn the pile over. My family has four large bins made out of old wooden pallets in the corner of our yard. We also have an empty gallon ice-cream bucket sitting next to our sink for food scraps that we empty into our compost pile. Make sure you turn the bed over with something like a pitchfork about once a week or every two weeks. Then, if you have a garden or flowerbeds, use the soil from your compost as fertilizer. If you have a good combination of different things in your compost pile, this soil will fertilize your plants even better than commercial fertilizer and is not harmful to the environment. For all the information you could ever want on composting, visit the EPA’s website and search “compost”. This isn’t the only way to recycle your food, however.

Another great way to recycle your food scraps is to raise chickens. Chickens not only are great pets, but they also turn your table scraps into eggs! They take about as much time as a cat, their coop does not take up much space, they do not eat much store-bought chicken food if you feed them table scraps and weeds, and they are quite enjoyable to watch. In Lexington, hens (no roosters) are allowed in city limits as long as they are enclosed in a cage or wire run. Check your local laws to see if there are any restrictions for chickens in your town. If you are thinking about getting chickens, a great resource is Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickensby Gail Damerow.

Besides the EPA’s recommendations, most sources have two other suggestions. First, eating less meat will reduce your food waste. Almost 20 percent of all edible meat ends up in landfills (Bloom, “A Food Waste Primer”). It also is very energy inefficient – it takes 35 calories of energy to make 1 calorie of beef (Bloom, American Wasteland 19).  Second, use your common sense about expiration dates. Bloom says, “Expiration dates send much food to a premature death. First, date labels are voluntary; infant formula is the only product mandated by the FDA to have a use-by date. And because there’s so much caution built into these dates — which refer to food quality, not safety — they are best ignored. Trust your senses instead” (“A Food Waste Primer”). If the food still looks and smells okay, then it is most likely safe to eat.  I would not go as far as my grandma, who scrapes mold off bread and then eats the bread as if nothing is wrong, but it is safe to drink the milk that is one day past its expiration date, as long as it smells okay. If consumers incorporate some of these suggestions, they can greatly reduce their food waste.

America has a huge food waste problem, and it is not going to change overnight. Each person making a few small changes will inspire others to do the same. If consumers reduce their food waste and pressure the companies they buy it from to do the same, we can start a food revolution. We can shrink that Rose Bowl amount of wasted food just by doing our part.

 

Works Cited

Bloom, Jonathan.  “A Food Waste Primer: Eat It Up.”  Culinate.  Culinate, Inc., 12 Oct. 2011.  Web.  15 Mar. 2012.

— American Wasteland: How America Throws Away Nearly Half of Its Food (and What

We Can Do about It).  Cambridge, MA: Da Capo, 2010.  Print.

— “The Food Not Eaten: Food Waste – Out of Sight, Out of Mind.”  Culinate.  Culinate, Inc.,

19 Nov. 2007.  Web.  15 Mar. 2012.

EPA.  “Basic Information about Food Waste.”  EPA.  Environmental Protection Agency, 08 Feb. 2012.  Web.  15 Mar. 2012.

— “Household Food Waste.”  EPA.  Environmental Protection Agency, 1 Nov. 2011.  Web.  15 Mar. 2012.

Huff, Mickey.  Censored 2012: Sourcebook for the Media Revolution: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2010-2011.  Ed. Project Censored.  New York: Seven Stories, 2011.  Kindle Ebook.

O’Hanlon, Larry.  “Food Waste Epidemic in America.”  Discovery Channel.  Discovery Communications, LLC., 24 Nov. 2004.  Web.  15 Mar. 2012.

Sleeth, Nancy.  Go Green, Save Green: A Simple Guide to Saving Time, Money, and God’s Green Earth.  Carol Stream, Illinois: Tyndale House, 2009.  Print.

My Crazy Week

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This week has been absolutely crazy! Let’s recap:
Monday: Monday morning I frantically tried to finish my skirt for Fiddler on the Roof and ended up almost late for school. I had a very fun last day of school!!! Had an awesome time hanging out with friends and talking about random things. I also had the Fiddler on the Roof dress rehearsal, which was a lot of fun. It was a very long night, but eventually we got all the blocking and most of the bugs worked out.
Tuesday: I continued to frantically finish my skirt for Fiddler and succeeded. The second dress rehearsal went well. Unfortunately, I needed to cheer up one of my friends, so I didn’t get to bed until after midnight and then didn’t sleep very well.
Wednesday: Helped my mom with some stuff and then went to the Senior Roast at TCPC. Senior Roast is when the whole youth group and the seniors’ parents get together and tell funny stories about them. I found out I am known for my Mary Poppins purse – it has everything but an espresso machine and a defibrillator in it. Once again I didn’t sleep.
Thursday: I got to go to the End of the Year Picnic at Shilito Park with a bunch of my friends. We mostly hung around a shelter and ate food because it was really hot, but we also played a game of tag. I went from there to the Fiddler performance. We did an awesome job! I was so proud of the whole cast – everyone did their best. Once again, I got home really late.
Friday: I didn’t have a very eventful day, my grandparents came in the afternoon and we went out for lunch (Arby’s yum!). The second performance of Fiddler was just as good as the first. It was kind of bittersweet, since it was my last BU thing I would every do. Connor and Grace both brought me flowers! It makes me so happy to see my yellow and purple flowers on my dining room table! Afterwards, Connor and I went to the cast party at CiCi’s pizza. It was just as crazy as it always is after a musical – filled with loud, excited people and lots of laughs for everyone. I got home late, again, and proceeded to not sleep hardly at all, again.
Saturday/ today: Today was a very good day. I helped babysit some very cute twins this morning. This afternoon I got to watch Thor with Connor at his house and then we went to see the Avengers movie. They were both epic movies. I highly recommend both of them, if you haven’t seen them already.
I am really, really tired right now, so if this post has put you to sleep, I’m sorry. To sum it all up – I had a very crazy, busy, and awesome last week of high school during which I didn’t sleep hardly at all. So, now I’m going to go curl up with a good fluff book (probably a Sookie Stackhouse book) and try not to think about how little time I have left to spend with my friends before I leave for the summer or how much I’m going to miss my best friends when I do go. Goodnight, my dear readers, and sweet dreams.

Highlights From School Today

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Here are some highlights from my fun day at school today:

  • Final score for Physics class: Mrs. Taylor – 1, Grace – 1, Kirtley – 1, Andy – 2, Mary – 4
  • Mrs. Taylor’s maiden name is Bennet and her first name is Elizabeth, so she said we can say, “We had a fictional character teach our real physics class where we did invisible experiments.”
  • 6th equation that changed the world:
    • [G+(+/-z)S]+[B+(CtSB)2]=interesting class
      • G – Grace
      • Z – sleep
      • S – sugar
      • B – Beth
      • CtSB – Chai Tea from Starbucks
  • According to Mrs. Taylor, Andy is working on his “girl thing”.
  • In Civics class: Andy said an iron triangle is like the Bermuda triangle in that money and legislation just disappear.

So, today was very interesting and entertaining. I wish every week were this fun! 🙂

Expressing Myself


Why is so hard to express myself sometimes? I can put my thoughts down in writing, like in a journal, but I can’t for the life of my tell someone my opinion or how I feel exactly the way I want. What I want to say sounds awesome in my head, but then when I try to tell someone, it sounds way different. It comes out all wrong, usually making me sound naive, ditsy, or shallow. Once in a great while it comes out right, but usually that’s only when I’m talking about something like being environmentally friendly or abolishing mountaintop removal. Even when I’m chatting on Facebook where I can proofread what I say before I send it, I think I expressed myself the way I wanted and when I go back and read it later, it sounds horrible. I think part of my problem is not thinking through what I am saying before I say it. I definitely need to work on that.

Coal Corporations: Destroying Appalachia

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Mary Webb

Writing 101

20 February 2012

Coal Corporations: Destroying Appalachia

Just outside Appalachia, Virginia, “in the middle of the night, toddler Jeremy Davidson was crushed in his bed and killed by a boulder that was knocked down the mountainside from a road leading to a ridgetop surface mine by a bulldozer operating without the proper permits. The A&G Coal Corporation was cited for negligence and fined fifteen thousand dollars; it appealed the fine.” (Butler and Wuerthner 46) Also, in one West Virginia community, “Larry Gibson noticed heavy bulldozing activity from surface-mining operations right next to a family cemetery. He rushed to report the trespass to local officials, and they responded by blocking the access of family members to the graveyard.” (Butler and Wuerthner 45)

Sadly, these stories are just a small example of the indifference of the coal companies to the suffering of the communities in Appalachia. This suffering is caused by the mountaintop-removal mining operations coal companies continue to create, even when faced with lots of evidence of how bad it is for everyone involved. Mountaintop-removal mining not only destroys the unique mountain environment, but also destroys the lives of people living around the mining operation.

Mountaintop-removal, a form of strip-mining mostly used in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and Tennessee, begins by, of course, removing the mountain. First, the trees are clear-cut for lumber or simply scraped away and burned (Butler and Wuerthner 25). Then, the mountain is blown up, layer by layer, and the rubble is usually pushed into the valleys below, covering streams and valuable land. The coal is then extracted using huge machines. After the all the coal has been extracted, the coal is washed to rid it of impurities and sent off for processing. The liquid waste leftover is called “coal sludge” or “coal slurry” and contains impurities, coal dust, and the chemical agents used in the washing process. Instead of disposing of this waste safely, the coal slurry is disposed of by storing it in “vast, unlined lagoons or surface impoundments …” (Butler and Wuerthner 34). These impoundments have a high risk of breaking and flooding valleys and old mines, destroying homes and polluting the water sources. Finally, the mined land is “reclaimed”. Mine operators are legally required to make the land into something that can be used, usually for commercial or public use. Sadly, this usually means, “a biological wasteland compared to the native forest – generally a thin green sheen of exotic grass growing on compacted rubble” (Butler and Wuerthner 27).

That “native forest “ is one of the biodiversity hotspots in the U.S. Over 100,000 species of plants and animals are found in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone (Butler and Wuerthner 3). The Clinch River in northeastern Tennessee is home to more aquatic biodiversity than almost any other river on Earth. That river is now “slowly choking to death on mining-related sediment” (Butler and Wuerthner 57). Also, 135 rare, threatened, and endangered species in eastern Kentucky and 110 in West Virginia have been impacted by mountaintop-removal operations (Butler and Wuerthner 57). We cannot afford to lose these mountains. They are part of one of the unique ecosystems in the world where many different species that would not normally be found together, including northern species such as red spruce and sugar maple trees and southern species such as oak and hickory trees, can exist in the same region.

Not only is the biodiversity of Appalachia being destroyed, but also the streams that provide clean water for communities are being polluted. A study by the EPA showed that more than 1,200 miles of streams had been buried or mined-over between 1992 and 2002 alone (United States, 4). These streams are buried under the rubble, or “spoil”, that is blasted off the mountain. Opponents of mountaintop-removal mining have argued that this spoil is a violation of the Clean Water Act. However, “since a 2002 Bush administration rule change freeing coal operators from the pesky provision in the Clean Water Act that prohibits ‘waste’ from being dumped into the nation’s waterways, the spoil that is pushed into the valleys below is no longer ‘waste’, but ‘fill’”(Butler and Wuerthner 49). The coal corporations have a lot of influence with top officials and can easily have legislation changed for their benefit.

Another side effect of mountaintop-removal is deforestation. When the coal companies scrape away the trees, they also scrape away the precious topsoil. Without the topsoil, the “reclaimed” sites cannot be restored to their former state. This is not just bad for the environment, but it is also costs money. “In West Virginia alone, deforestation related to [mountaintop-removal] operations is estimated to have cost the state $2.6 billion in lost ecological services [nutrient cycling, climate regulation, and watershed stability], not including the direct value of the timber” (Butler and Wuerthner 62).

Mountaintop-removal is devastating to the environment, and it is equally devastating to Appalachian communities. It greatly affects the economy, health, and general well-being of any people living around the mining sites. High poverty rates are directly related to the amount of mountaintop-removal mining in the area. Many people in the region used to work as miners, but increased mechanization and a shift toward surface mining eliminated more than six hundred thousand mining jobs (Butler and Wuerthner 72). Many people argue that the communities depend on coal mining jobs, but this just is not true. Even if it was true that the Appalachian economy depended on coal, as Denise Giardina said, “Destructive jobs should never be countenanced, much less supported by our so-called business and labor leaders. What is next? Will the Chamber of Commerce support the jobs created by drug dealers? After all, drug dealers have families to feed.” (qtd in Butler and Wuerthner 203).

The health problems caused by the coal dust and toxins in the air and water produced by surface mining are numerous. A main problem is pneumoconiosis, or black lung disease, which is contracted from breathing coal dust. It used to be a very common problem among miners, but now it mostly occurs in local residents (Butler and Wuerthner 68). The residents’ water supplies, mostly wells and surface water, are filled with toxins from coal processing plants, which are known to cause birth defects and other health problems.

Coal trucks are another thing that plagues the communities. From 2000 to 2004, there were more than seven hundred accidents involving coal trucks in Kentucky alone. In those accidents, fifty-three people died and more than five hundred were injured (Butler and Wuerthner 31). Local children are forced to dodge coal trucks while trick-or-treating and they cannot play soccer or kickball in the street anymore because of the coal trucks speeding down the street. Coal trucks “weaken bridges, damage roads, and overturn and spill their contents into streams and roadways…” (Butler and Wuerthner 173).

The deforestation and the valley fills made by the mining operations greatly increase the risk of flash floods. The coal corporations argue that the floods are “acts of God”, but local residents know differently. “People living below mountaintop-removal mines begin to  live in constant fear during rainy weather; it is not uncommon for mothers to put their children to bed fully clothed in case they need to flee in the night from a wall of water roaring down the hollow” (Butler and Wuerthner 70). Since 2001 there have been at least seven periods of severe flash flooding in Appalachia that can be linked to increased runoff from mountaintop-removal sites and other strip-mining operations. A dozen people have died during these “unnatural disasters” (Butler and Wuerthner 59).

If mountaintop-removal is so harmful, why are corporations allowed to continue this process? The answer is simple: we have allowed them to. They have figured out ways to get around all the legislative restrictions lawmakers have imposed, they assure people living near the mines that they are working with the community’s best interests in mind, their money gives them a lot of power with top officials, and they try to pacify activists with promises of “clean coal” and cheap coal. We have not completely halted the corporations’ mining activities, and therefore they keep getting around the limits placed on them.

Many people who think coal is good for Appalachia argue for “clean and cheap coal”. There is no such thing. Judy Bonds, a West Virginia activist, sums up the argument against clean coal very well, “Even if the power companies could get marshmallows to come out of the smokestacks, if you can’t dig it clean, you can’t burn it clean. They cannot dig the coal cleanly in Appalachia by blowing the tops off of mountains, covering up the streams, and polluting our communities” (qtd in Butler and Wuerthner 175). Also, coal is only cheap because, “it takes few workers (minimizes labor costs), because demand for coal is strong, and because its high environmental and social costs are not internalized by the industry” (Butler and Wuerthner 70).

Coal corporations have committed many crimes over the years, but one that sticks out is the 2000 coal slurry spill in Martin County, Kentucky. A coal sludge impoundment failed, sending three hundred million gallons of thick, tarry coal waste into the Big Sandy River. Approximately 1.6 million fish were killed and more than twenty-seven thousand people had their public and private water supplies contaminated. Some government officials described the spill as probably the worst environmental disaster in the history of the Southeast (Butler and Wuerthner 45). According to one source, “Massey Energy, the company responsible for the spill … has avoided significant consequences for the disaster. Massey corporate executives have direct access and influence with top officials of the Mine Safety and Health Administration and other government agencies. According to Common Cause, Massey Energy contributed $100,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee while it was being investigated for the slurry spill. Ultimately, Massey Energy was fined just $5,600 …” (Butler and Wuerthner 59). This is just one example of the coal corporations’ influence in politics and their indifference to the plight of the people who were affected by this disaster.

There are many people and organizations working to stop mountaintop-removal. It is not an impossible task. In fact, mountaintop-removal mines in Appalachia are estimated to produce just 5 to 10 percent of total U.S. coal production, and generate less than 4 percent of our electricity – an amount that could be eliminated from the energy mix by small gains in energy efficiency and conservation (Butler and Wuerthner 23). Also, the Appalachian economy could be largely improved by the jobs and income generated by ecological restoration, sustainable forestry, renewable energy, and ecotourism (Butler and Wuerthner 61). Researchers are also working on better reclamation of mined lands. Coal corporations and corporations in general, could thwarted in their schemes by banning them from the political sphere, revoking corporate constitutional rights, and revoking corporations’ charters when they commit crimes (Nace 224). There are many grassroots organizations fighting corporate influence to put legislation in place to protect the remaining mountains and streams. The people and the land they live on need outside help, they cannot fight the coal corporations alone. By supporting these organizations and calling for corporate restraints, Appalachia can be saved.

Works Cited

Butler, Tom, and George Wuerthner, eds. Plundering Appalachia: The Tragedy of Mountaintop-Removal Coal Mining. San Rafael, CA: Earth Aware, 2009. Print.

Nace, Ted. Gangs of America: The Rise of Corporate Power and the Disabling of Democracy. Updated ed. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler, 2005. Print.

United States. Environmental Protection Agency. Mountaintop Mining/Valley Fills in Appalachia Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement. Philadelphia, PA: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Region 3, 2005. United States Environmental Protection Agency. United States Environmental Protection Agency, 1 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.

I Don’t Have To Pay For College!!!

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So, last Thursday I found out that I am going to be part of the Honors program at Morehead University and that I am getting the Honors scholarship! I am excited about the Honors program, but I am especially excited about the scholarship. The scholarship pays for tuition, housing, a meal plan, a laptop, and money for studying abroad a summer! The only thing I will have to pay for is personal expenses and the security deposit for my room. Isn’t that awesome? I’ll have to work during the summer and do odd jobs during the school year for spending money, but other than that I am set. Now I can move on to the exciting parts of going to college – like making a list of what to bring, registering for classes, and getting used to the idea of being an adult.

One thing I am still a little worried about is leaving my friends in Lexington. I am the only one of my friends going away for college. Thankfully, Morehead is only an hour away, so we can visit each other a lot. I’m going to have to come home anyways once a month or so my parents can restock my soap and canned good supply (my mom makes them herself) and see that I’m still alive, so I’ll see my friends then. Also, there is tons of hiking and other things to do around Morehead, so my friends will be visiting me too. Hopefully, we will be able to pick a day each month (like the first Saturday) that we dedicate to just hanging out with each other. I am really excited about college, but not seeing my friends all the time will be difficult. Except for one or two things, everything we do is with each other – school, youth group, small groups, and almost any social event. I will especially miss having someone to go hide in a corner with when there are too many loud people around and who won’t think I’m weird for not wanting to be around all those loud people. Also, my friends are the only people I feel totally comfortable around.

I was reading the Morehead student handbook yesterday and here are the some things that caught my attention:

  • You can’t have explosives in your dorm room. Not that I was planning on bringing any…
  • You can switch roommates after the first week, with the residence hall director’s approval. My mom and dad both said they weren’t able to switch until after the first semester and my mom had to live with two crazy roommates for a semester before she could switch, so I am very glad about this.
  • You can have boys in your room –  how scandalous! Many of the Christian colleges I looked at did not allow you to have the opposite sex in your room unless it was your dad or brother.  I am very glad that I can have boys in my room because one of my best friends is a guy and it would suck to have to make him stay in the lobby.  Boys can’t stay overnight, but that’s not an issue for me.
  • Finally, I can’t have overnight guests under age 13. This means my little sister can’t spend the night, which she would have loved. Oh well, she can still visit me.

So, paying for college is going to be a lot better than I thought, so now I can start getting excited for it to start. Now I can focus on enjoying my last semester of childhood and no responsibilities!

My Formal Dress

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Picture from the pattern envelope

Yes, I know it’s only January, so I shouldn’t have to think about formal yet, but I am making my dress this year, so I had to start thinking about it in December. A few weeks ago I almost finished my dress (I just have to put in the lining) and I am very excited about it.

Anyone who knows me will be shocked to know I am making a princess dress this year. I was undecided on what to make when I saw this pattern. It is fluffy, poofy, and way more princessy than I planned. And when I say poofy, I mean poofy. Like, Disney Cinderella dress poofy. It is greenish-blue with a pink ribbon around the middle and very complicated to put together. It’s floor-length and since this is my first true floor length dress I am a little worried about tripping over it or tripping other people with it, but I’ll practice walking in it before formal, so hopefully that won’t happen. I figure since it’s senior year, I should go all out. After all, I won’t have many other chances to shed my pinecone-ness and become a  princess for a night. 🙂

Happy New Year! – Looking Back On 2011

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I am so glad to start a new year. My friends and I recounted the best and worst parts of 2011 yesterday, so I thought I’d post mine. The following is a few highlights from 2011:

My biggest accomplishment: I finally got up the courage to tell a boy I liked him. This might not seem like a big thing to most people, but it was an important thing for me. I’m not very brave when it comes to talking about these things with boys; in fact I usually try to avoid talking about them. Getting up the courage to do this (and not getting totally rejected) gave me the courage to do other things I’ve needed to do for a while.

The best part: It was really hard to decide on this one, there have been so many great things that have happened this year! I finally decided on two though: the Bahamas cruise I went on with my mom, two aunts, and one of my aunt’s friends and the week I went to servant camp at Lutheran Hills. The cruise was unlike anything I have ever done before. There was absolutely no worries, obligations, or rush. We could do anything we wanted, including eating ice cream for a snack and eating supper in a formal dining room. Although, meeting Ivan (*sigh with heart all a flutter) was pretty awesome too. ^_^

Servant camp was amazing. Every year I’ve gone to Lutheran Hills I grow in my faith, but this year especially changed my view on some things.  First of all, I had many serious, eye-opening conversations with the girls in my cabin. All of us were messed up in some major ways or had bad things happen in our lives, but those things just made us stronger in our faith. Some of the girls had gone through times where they were angry at God or didn’t feel he was with them, but now they are very stong in their faith. Second, that week, one night in particular, showed me the power of prayer. When a fellow camper collapsed, we all prayed together and God brought him back to us.  There were other instances too, but that night was the most powerful. I will remember it the rest of my life.

Worst part: I try not to remember the bad parts too much, but I can’t be all happiness and sunshine. I think the worst part of this year was losing one of my close friends. He has had a lot of bad things happen to him this year, including his grandfather being very sick. He used to be the person I looked up to and counted on to always make me laugh, but this past year he has changed.  This year when he was stressed he would take out his anger and stress on his friends.  I worried about him for a long time, but now I leave him to God’s keeping. God has shown me that I can’t help my friend, except to pray for him.

In conclusion, there has been lots of great times and some bad times this year, but I am thankful for all of them. Looking back, I can see why certain things happened the way they did.  If this year was this good, I wonder what 2012 will bring? Happy New Year everyone!