Sunday, November 27, 2011

Top 5 reasons I am feeling pretty thankful

Mom's birthday scone from Panera+memory book present
Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday of the year, has come and gone.  The last leaves of the year are falling from the trees in the park by my house and a new moon rose the day after Thanksgiving to usher in the Christmas season.  It seems like just last week I was admiring Halloween decorations and now the neighborhood is a sparkling display of twinkling lights and larger-than-life blow-up snowmen.  While it is hard to be away from Mali for so long, especially with my sweetheart there and not here (along with cherished friends!), I do have a lot to be grateful for this holiday season.  What better way to celebrate my gratitude than a top-five list?  John, my step-dad, did not actually ask me to tell him my top five November - but let's pretend he did since he listened to my answers.

1. Family and friends
  • John wanted me to itemize friends and family here in order of my thankfulness for them but I'm going to ignore him just this once.  I feel so incredibly blessed to be engaged to such a treasure of a man, surrounded by family that supports me and all my quirks and loved by friends who are (sometimes!) even quirkier.  You guys are wonderful. 
2. Taylor Swift
  • Taylor here is representing music and happy, bubbly moments of all kinds for me.  But I do just think she's the bees knees.  And John says that's because I haven't been a victim to her media overexposure.  But I also think John is sometimes a cynic. :)
  • As though to answer my need for more Taylor in my life, 60 minutes did a special on her.   
3. Whales 
  • Maybe it's because I was born in Virginia Beach and down the road from the Virginia Marine Science Museum.  Maybe it's because I have an affinity for large animals related to whales (see #4).  More likely it's because of all the good memories I associate with the Voyage of the Mimi and the 5th grade at Red Mill Elementary with Kate and Theresa.  Whatever the reason - I love whales!
4. Hippos
  • Not only does Hippo translate to 'Mali' in Bambara (HOW FORTUITOUS I WAS SENT TO MALI FOR THE PEACE CORPS!!!!), they're also really cute.  
5. Babies
  • Seems like I'm surrounded by some of the most precious baby treasures out there (also see below!!).  I'm almost counting down the hours until I meet Mia Rose, Joe & Ashley's 7 month-old baby girl!  Someone at church today said holding them is contagious.  While I'm sure I'll 'catch' the baby bug one day - for now they're just nice to hold until they poop :)
As I write this post, I look around my room and see my bed overflowing with magazines accumulated under my name over the past year while I was in Mali.  My closet is bursting at its proverbial seams with shoes, shirts and dresses pulled from Tupperware bins stored away in my absence.  Framed pictures of Abdoulaye and me compete for dresser space with books from the library and receipts from recent trips to TJ Maxx.  I'm facebook chatting with one of my best friends from my childhood and looking through pictures from the past week and feeling my heart swell.  Thanksgiving has come and gone and while I did not have to come to Virginia to realize I have a lot to be thankful for - it is is nice to come home to be surrounded by the reasons.


Looks like baby Ella captured my lens at Sheri's Thanksgiving feast!  She's such a doll baby, I couldn't help it! 
Memaw's lemon cake - kicking it up a notch after the scone!

I'm also thankful for timers, afternoon sunlight and family photos!

Amanda's birthday party included, but was not limited to, Wii 'Just Dance'!
Are you feeling especially thankful for anything? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Mali and the Magic School Bus

Mrs. Frizzle
It's been a little over a month since I returned to the States and I have quickly settled into the Virginia Beach groove.  Exercise at the Rec center with Memaw, trips to TJ Maxx and Target, and visits with family and friends.  I recently stopped by my friend, Heather,'s office (a former teacher) who thought another former teacher of mine at Ocean Lakes, Mrs. Windish, currently teaching at the Global Studies & World Languages Academy, might like to hear from me, too.  She sent an email to see if Mrs. Windish would be interested in me dropping by to talk about my Peace Corps experience in Mali with her internationally-minded students.  While Mrs. Windish's reply was 'Yes!', I do not know who was more excited about the talk - me or her!
With Lady Luck and the Black Swan - OLHS grads and now VBCPS teachers!  So proud!
But before I went to visit Mrs. Windish a cherished American holiday happened- Halloween!  On October 31st, I donned a favorite complet and sat expectantly with a bowl of candy on my front porch.  After a handful of cute kids in costumes treated, a group of teenagers waltzed down the street and I darted into the front yard to unload some of our mini-size Snickers, Almond Joys and Hershey bars on them.  But I decided, since these tricksters were a bit older, to ask a few geography questions before I doled out half my bowl of treats to them.

"Where is Mali?" I ventured to this group of too-cool-for-school teens.  "West Africa!" one of the girls quickly answered.  'Impressive,' I thought.  "What is Mali's capital?" I continued, knowing I would stump the group with this one.  "Bamako!" the girl answered, almost as quickly.  'Jeesh,' I thought.   "What is a major river that runs through Mali?" I finally asked - knowing that, this time, I had them.  "The Niger?" one of the boys in the group offered.  "Goodness!" I said to them, "where do you guys go to school??"  "Plaza Middle," the girl replied.  "Tallwood," said the boy.  'Wow,' I thought - VBCPS is doing their job!

This morning I had the great pleasure of going to Tallwood High School to talk with two of Mrs. Windish's Global Studies classes about my work as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mali and to see for myself what the Global Studies Academy was like.  If trick-or-treaters can answer questions about Mali at the drop of a candy bar, VBCPS must be doing something right and my visit this morning just confirmed what I already knew - they are!

I was nervous when I started my presentation, but as I talked about Mali, Annie and Esayi and my work in Bamako, not to mention my tall, dark and handsome fiancé, I felt right at home.  I talked about Mali's ethnicities, Malick Sidibé, GIS in Mali (Mrs. Windish is starting a unit on it and asked if I could incorporate it in my presentation) and everything in between!  I loved sharing my experiences with students who were interested (for the most part!).  They posed in-depth questions about Mali on topics as diverse as ethnic divisions and religious freedom to what the stars look like and where Abdoulaye and I want to live when we get married :) 

At the end of the class the students thanked me for sharing my experiences in Mali with them.  "You're going to be a great teacher," one of the students said (she was also the most active-listener I have ever encountered - nodding her head and smiling at me during the whole presentation! - thank you!).   "You remind me of Mrs. Frizzle with your dress and they way you present," another student said.  'Mrs. Frizzle?' I thought.  I think I'll take that as a compliment! :)

                      In case you were missing village, a video from where I lived my first two years

                                      And in case you're nostalgic for the Magic School bus!

Do you want to know anything more about Mali that I haven't already shared?  What do you think is the best school at the beach? :)

(Top Image here)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Morocco in Love

Abdoulaye and I traveled to Morocco in October. We got engaged, traveled the country by train and put our hands in the Atlantic Ocean together for the first time. Here's our video.

And here are some of my favorite pictures:


Here are more of our pictures from Fez and Meknes and from pictures Rabat

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A new blog beginning!

Sunset in Rabat, Morocco
I've been itching for the past few months to start a new blog.  A blog where I don't feel limited to write things only about Mali or my life in Mali! 

So here she is - trifles & treasures - where I'll write about wedding things (even if the wedding is awhile off!), graduate school (more on that soon!), working in Mali and so much more!  I'm excited to start this new chapter in my life - and so glad you'll be here to share in it!

Meet the Corcorans!

All smiles and maybe a few tears

Chupes&Chupes
UMW crew!

the newlyweds!
Amanda and Ryan got married on Saturday, October 22nd, 2011 in Richmond, Virginia.  I don't think I've ever heard more heartfelt toasts than at their reception.  Such a beautiful day and a great way to come home - thanks for letting me be a part of your day!

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