Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 trifles & treasures and onto 2012!

What a trip 2011 was!  Ups, downs and all arounds!  I learned a lot this year, made some wonderful friends and celebrated some beautiful moments.  Weddings, babies, heartbreaks - I think all my emotional bases were covered and I can't wait to see what 2012 has to offer!

Looking back through my old blog, I'm so glad I have a digital scrapbook of all these moments in my life and I am looking forward to continuing the blogging in 2012!  Here are some of my favorite posts from 2011:

January: happy times.  sad times.
February: musical times.
March: thankful times and on-the-edge kind of times.
April: yellow dress times and romantic times.
May: internet times.  learning times.
June: long-term visitors and a wedding!
July: books, 3 years in Mali and veterinarians.
August: a new baby!
September: bad news and a new bridge.
October: international engagement part I. i.e. part II
November: a new blog and a new movie!
December: phoenix phriends and seattle by storm!

closing out 2011 right with my treasure of a friend and bride-to-be, Kate
showering Fredericksburg with our bridal love

see more pictures from Kate's bridal shower here!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Movie time!

I'm by myself for the first time in a few weeks and I think I'll snuggle into bed so I don't think about it too much.  To console myself and share with you my trips to see friends in both Phoenix and Seattle, I'll share these videos!  I hope you enjoy!

Seattle, WA with Esther & Alaric

Phoenix, AZ with Joe & Ashley

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Got the Moves in Phoenix, Arizona!

It is the last day of my first trip to Phoenix, Arizona to visit Joe, Ashley and Mia Rose Wollersheim. I sit in the airport with a heavy, happy heart as I wait for my flight to Seattle, Washington - to visit two other dear friends - to board.  I look around the waiting area of my gate and see occupied business travelers with laptops and older couples with cowboy hats leaving and going to see their own loved ones. Airports always make me reminisce.

I remember meeting Joe and Ashley in July, 2008 during our 2-day pre-service training with the Peace Corps. We sat at large, cloth covered tables in a generic conference room full of foldable wall dividers at a Holiday Inn in downtown Philadelphia and were given 'getting to know you' worksheets as one of our icebreakers. I knew after meeting the Wollersheims that Joe was an excitable person with limited reservations and I could also tell that Ashley was a little more reserved than her gregarious husband and had a sweet look about her. What I did not know from that first meeting and what I could not tell from a getting-to-know-you worksheet was that this couple would become two of my best friends in the Peace Corps and more than that, simply two of my best-friends.

The villages where Ashley, Joe and I spent our first two years in the Peace Corps were about 5 hours apart on a good public transport day. Different in traditions but similar in their unfamiliarity we, like all volunteers do, spent a lot of time musing about our sites, Mali, West Africa, development work and the Peace Corps – among other things, of course. We would see one another every other month or so and in between those times we also went on some pretty epic adventures throughout Mali and in some neighboring countries. We climbed, along with our treasure of a friend Cassie, the highest point in Mali – Mount Hombori – and traveled in a taxi throughout Guinea, including hiking in the Fouta Djallon, and down through Sierra Leone to Freetown where we lounged on the beach and rubbed elbows with some dubious characters on the remote Banana Island.

When Joe and Ashley left Mali I knew we would stay in touch but also wondered how our friendship would evolve as they moved on with their lives in America and as I moved on with my new life in Bamako. While I was transitioning to a volunteer position with more responsibility in Mali's capital for my third-year with the Peace Corps – Joe and Ashley were transitioning to even larger life changes – a baby, buying a new home, new jobs. What would it be like when we all hung out again? Would it be the same? Would we still dream about traveling to different places together and within the same breath make goofball jokes as Ashley made popcorn?

I got my first chance to see Joe and Ashley only six months after they left Mali. In January 2011 I went out to Las Vegas with my family to celebrate my Dad's 60th birthday. Even though Joe and Ashley had just closed on a house in Phoenix days before our trip and Ashley was about 7 months pregnant and growing seemingly by the hour, they still drove the 6 hours to Las Vegas to see me and my family (and hit the black jack tables and slots!). Like all my adventures with the Wollersheims, this one was unforgettable, too.
I knew you 7 months in the belly and 7 months out!
My second opportunity to see the Wollersheims came just a week and a ½ ago. Home for four months from Mali before I start graduate school - you could say I have some free time. I decided to come out to the West Coast – somewhere I hadn't visited since I was 12 years old and traveled with my Dad and family from Vancouver, Canada down to Tijuana, Mexico (in the days before trading drugs and trafficking people became popular – we spent most of our money in Tijuana on chicklets and trampoline jumping).
A community Christmas party
I flew out to Phoenix a few days after Thanksgiving and spent ten days living the dream à la Wollersheim. We dined at Olive and Ivy's, wowed the club with our moves like Jagger at the W hotel, watched more bad romantic comedies than should be allowed in one week, hiked Squaw Peak, ate pizza, prayed together, made Christmas cookies and homemade baby food, drank coffee with hipsters and trolled the vintage shops downtown. Family, friends, community – I could not feel more thankful to have such generous friends.

After ten days with Joe, Ashley and their baby girl Mia, I know I need not have worried about what it would be like to pick up on the relationship that we built over the course of two years in Mali. Because while I could not have known when I met Joe and Ashley how much they would mean to me later - I know now how much they do.

See more pictures from my trip here!

                                Adam Shero (who performed at the W hotel) - Moves like Jagger

Jason Mraz on Sesame Street - I'd link to all the videos we watched with Mia but I'm sure there's a limit

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Living on Wollersheim Time!

Mali muso-ni

In her first complet!

I hopped on a flight to Phoenix yesterday and this is the good-looking family that awaited me!  Joe & Ashley were volunteers in Mali with me and I feel so blessed (along with my other treasure of PC Mali friends!!!) to call them friends.  We've had some fun adventures and lots of laughs.  And they didn't mess around when they came home - they got pregnant and had this treasure of a baby you see in these pictures - Mia Rose!  She's 7 months old now and hasn't stopped smiling since I met her (not because of me - she is just a really smiley baby!).  She also has her Dad's wiggles!  I'm looking forward to spending the next week and change with them - lucky, lucky me!!

All smiles and cheeks!
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