Monday, June 29, 2015

Faceless Dolls

When Nel visited the Dominican Republic, she saw this sweet ceramic doll while browsing through the market place in Santiago.  These faceless women are made by local artists and are very popular there.

Their tour guide told them that they are made without faces so that they represent any woman, and they are used to celebrate all women.  They are ceramic and painted, and have different bouquets and hats.  Nel bought a green one for herself, a red one for Jess, and a yellow one for me.  She said out of all the ones she looked at (about 50), this was the only one that had a red rose.  So, she brought it home for me.

I love it when my girls bring me home goodies from all the different places they visit around the world.  This doll reminds me of the many women in blog land that I meet, whose faces often don't show up on the screen, but whose goodness linger in my heart every day.


Friday, June 26, 2015

Story Of The Day

I was at church this week, and I noticed some words that were hung on the wall near the pamphlets, fliers, etc.  They said:

Sadly, purses have been
stolen during Communion

I thought to myself, I can't believe that.  To think that someone would steal a purse or belongings during the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is beyond my comprehension.  I walked away saddened on how this happens in our world today, and I thought about the desperate ones who feel they have no hope. 
Just wanted to share
my story of the day with you.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Best Friend's Wedding

We had a very busy weekend.  It was Jess' best friend's wedding, and we were all trying to get ready for the special day.  Jess and Nel were bridesmaids in the wedding, as the bride is like a sister to them both.   Jess baked about 50 sugar cookies for the reception, and she spent so much time preparing them.  Nel thought of the design to put on top of each cookie, and they were scrumptious.

The bridesmaid's flower bouquets were the most unusual arrangement of flowers that I've seen.  They were so pretty, and the colors went well with their grey dresses.

It was a lovely wedding, and I wish the bride and groom many years of tenderness together.   Jess and Nel celebrated the night away, and were very honored to share this special day with their friend.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

First To Go Abroad

When I was in college I always dreamed of studying abroad, but I just didn't think I could make it work. I had a full course-load every semester, a job, an apartment, and so many other responsibilities--how could I possibly put it all on hold to travel the uncharted path?

Now that I'm a mentor to other first-generation college students, it's important to me to help them realize just how possible it is to achieve each and every one of their goals. If travel is a dream, it can become a reality.  

This May I had the honor of co-leading a trip to the Dominican Republic for 15 students who are not only the first in their families to attend college, but the first to study abroad. 

Whether I was delivering a lecture on global social justice atop the Monumento a los Héroes de la Restauración or standing back while my students drew their own conclusions on the subject matter they encountered, I was constantly reminded just how valuable and transformative world travel can be.   

We spent a good deal of time in the classroom learning about the cultural and political histories of the Dominican Republic, but we got to experience the treasures of the island too.  

Here the students are at a Dominican Batey (or sugar workers' town) where they learned about the working and living conditions of the Haitian migrant laborers and their families.  

They loved planting fruit trees with the community. 

This cross sits atop Santo Cerro and represents the gift that Queen Isabella gave to Christopher Columbus as he set sail across the Atlantic. 

Fort La Conception, erected by Columbus shortly after his arrival on the island, was the site of a historical battle between the Taíno natives and Columbus' Spanish soldiers and indigenous allies. 

This monument to the Mirabal sisters--Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa--honors three brave women who gave their lives fighting against the dictator Rafael Trujillo. 

One of Trujillo's mansions is now a government sponsored coffee plantation that supplies local growers. I couldn't have been happier standing in between these rows and rows of baby coffee plants. ( :

On our last day on the island we made a trip to Playa Ensenada. This was the clearest, warmest, most beautiful water I have ever been in!

Our polished toes got a natural pedicure in the fine white sand.

The snorkeling was amazing! 

This little island is really a sandbank surrounded by a coral reef in the middle of the ocean! The water was only waste deep and surrounded on all sides by deep blue sea. 

Even from the shore you could smell the wood-burning fires in these beach huts cooking the fresh catch of the day... these little guys!

And of course I had to bring my favorite travel buddy. Traveling Teddy became a kind of mascot with my students. They just loved his story. Here's one of my students photographing me photographing Teddy. 

And here's our world traveling bear on his latest adventure to Santiago, Republica Dominicana. 

This may have been a life-changing trip for my students, but it truly was for me as well. Travel stretches you as a person, reconnects your senses with the world around you, and reminds you that you're part of something so much bigger than yourself.

~ Nel ~

Note: All of the photographs in this post were taken by my 
wonderfully inspiring students who are the 
First To Go Abroad. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I Made It!

I completed my first year of teaching!

I was hired as an elementary teacher the day before school started.  

I accepted the job, packed up my life, and moved hours away from my beloved home (but the area is closer to family now). 

Each day, I worked hard and gave my very best effort.

Each month, it became a little easier. 

This school year has been a challenging one, but I have grown so much as a teacher and an individual.

One of the most important things I've learned is that I love my job!

I'm proud that I have successfully completed my first year of teaching, and grateful for the support I have received from family, colleagues, and friends.

I look forward to not only a summer of rest and rejuvenation, 

but years to come of teaching and inspiring children to love learning.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Mount Tallac

Husband and son climbed Mount Tallac last week above Lake Tahoe, and it was about a 9 hour hike.  It was very challenging, but they summited this beautiful mountain.

(mountain photos by husband)

Here's the progress
of my roses.
They're coming
along nicely.
I'm out there all
the time pruning, weeding,
and loving every
minute of it.
Have a peaceful