09 September 2014

Family Reunion on Whidbey Island


I got to spend my last week and half or so of summer on Whidbey Island (and a couple days in Seattle) with a crazy and wonderful group of about 18 Klines and 9 Ivanyis. This was a family reunion for Josh’s mom’s side of the family (the Klines). Josh’s grandparents, Bruce and Kay, have a strong connection with the Ivanyi family from Hungary, so nine Ivanyis joined us as well. Whidbey is an island in Puget Sound; a couple hours in the car and a short ferry ride from Seattle and you're on Whidbey. One evening our cousin Karly led us in “Pows and Wows”- a way of sharing our highs and lows of the week. All 27 of us shared a pow and wow of our week; after each persons’ pow we said “kerpow” in a sad voice and after each wow we shook our hands in the air and said “wooo.” It was a silly and fun, but also real way to connect and share how we were feeling. Since positivity is one of my top five strengths, I will first share my pows from the week and then end on a happy note with my wows.

Pows:

My Great Grandma Z died this summer, which is a big pow in itself. The pow this week was that I missed Grandma Z’s memorial service while I was in Seattle. I already had my plane ticket for the family reunion when found out the date of Grandma Z’s memorial service. I decided to stick to my original travel plans because I did not want to miss out on quality time with Josh’s family. Nevertheless, I was sad to not be with my extended family to process Grandma Z’s death and to celebration her life. Her memorial service was on Saturday and the sadness hit me hard on Sunday. Grandma Z (who I also called "Pally") was really special to me. We wrote letters back and forth for most of my life (at least after the age when I could write letters) and I also felt loved and encouraged by her even though we were miles apart. It was quite a bummer to miss her memorial service, but talking with family over the phone has helped me to process. I also read some of my letters from her, which was a comfort.
This is Grandma Z. at her 90th birthday party.

A smaller pow is that Josh left Seattle a couple days earlier than me to go on a 10 day tour with his band, The Radio Soul. I missed having him around in Seattle and I missed him the following week in Wichita. My other, even smaller pow is that I spent a lot of time in the back seat of the van as we drove around Whidbey Island and to different places around Seattle. I tend to get carsick, so that was not super fun. It feels a bit silly sharing these little pows, but I think it gives you a more accurate picture of my experience.

Wows:

Just being on the island was a big highlight for me.  I loved spending a large chunk of each day outside. Some of my favorite activities were waking up and walking along the bluff before breakfast, moonlit walks along the beach, an invigorating bike ride, making a sun shelter on the beach from driftwood and a blanket, hikes along the bluffs, playing botchy ball one evening with 20 people from our group, and hanging out in the open field in the afternoons (kicking the soccer ball around with Josh and Elise and doing a no-handed cartwheel, which I haven’t even tried to do in years!)
We had a morning prayer service each morning with hymns, Taize songs, scripture reading and prayers of the people. I loved the time to connect with God and with everyone in prayer. This helped me feel more like a part of the Kline family.
I loved getting to know some of the Ivanyis better. Josh and I met many of them last year when we went to Budapest, so it was nice to spend more quality time with them. I spent a lot of time playing with little Sari who is three years old and babbles on and on in Hungarian. I had only a few Hungarian words that I could say to her:  béka frog), szia (hi and bye),  jó éjszakát (goodnight). We had a good time together though; we played hide and seek, I spun her around, and we’d take her stuffed frogs for horse rides on our backs. Gabor Ivanyi and his wife Moni stayed at the Cranstons’ house with us for two days after Whidbey, so I got to spend a lot of time with them. They are quite good at English, so we could have interesting conversations and joke around together. They are both hilarious and very good natured. Gabor cracked me up on the first day when we were introducing ourselves. All the men in the Ivanyi family were asked to introduce their immediate family; Gabor stood up and said “I am my wife’s husband.”  In Seattle Gabor and Moni taught us some Hungarian card games and they told us that we must visit them in Szeged, Hungary. 
Josh actually flew out to Seattle a week before I did, so one of my wows of the week was getting to spend time with him again! That week was the longest amount of time that we’ve been apart since we got married and it was hard for me. I was glad to be in his presence again. 
Putting rocks on each other's faces turned out to be very relaxing.

My final wow was doing yoga, led by our cousin April. I’ve fallen out of my yoga habit this summer and it was nourishing to my body and soul to do yoga again. One morning a group of us did yoga in the living room at our place on Whidbey Island and then back in Seattle April, Karly, Elise and I did yoga in Karly’s backyard by the light of the full moon. So peaceful and inspiring!
So that was my week on Whidbey with all the ups and downs. It was a beautiful week!

30 June 2014

summer so far.

So far our summer has consisted of:

Lots of Legacy work to prepare for camp (for me) and lots of gardening with GardenWorks (for Josh.)

A visit from my family.

Elise's birthday celebration with a surprise party, homemade pizza and cake, croquet, and contra dancing.

Legacy Camp. This was challenging, but wonderful. I taught a paper crafts class and a film photography class; I also led a small group where I got to connect with a group of four high school girls.

A visit to friends on the East Coast. Josh, Mikey and I stopped in Virginia to see Michael and Kelly, then headed down to North Carolina together to see Niquita and Jordan.

Hanging out in Greenville with family and friends.

We're busy, but enjoying summer. Hope you are too!

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A quick reminder that my etsy shop is going out of business! I am extending my final sale to July 4. Read here to find out why I'm closing down shop and to see what's next for me.  Thanks for all your support! 

31 May 2014

final peachy press sale + exciting summer things!

Well, folks, I am closing down my Peachy Press etsy shop in order to focus my time on exciting new endeavors (a new business partnership and an awesome summer internship).  In order to clear out, I am having a final peachy press sale. Here are the details:

>All the profit from this closing sale will support me in my summer internship (read on for more details about this). This is a small fundraising effort, but you will see that the prices of my products are the same (except for some out of season and, therefore, reduced priced items). Shop here!

>My shop will be open and stocked with paper goodies until July 1, 2014. At that time, I will be “closing down” my shop, but really Peachy Press will probably just be sitting idle on Etsy. 

>If you contact me through Etsy or email me, assuming that I have the time, I would be glad to do custom orders! 

>Be on the lookout for my next small, handmade business venture. My dear friend Kelly and I have some exciting things in the works!
This is me with a neighborhood friend at the GardenWorks farm stand last August.

Now, onto my internship with Legacy Ministries. Well, let me back up a bit. Last time I wrote about Legacy, I shared my experiences with GardenWorks, Legacy Stars, and visiting the guys at Salvation Army. It was fun for me to re-read what I wrote in October, because my involvement with Legacy has grown so much and my investment in these people and this place has deepened. I want to tell you even more about what God is doing here in Wichita and, more specifically, what I’ve been up to this past semester, as well as what I will be doing this summer as part of the Art Corps. 
One of our high-schoolers showing off her work at Girl's Group.

In the winter we started a new activity at the Legacy House for high school aged girls. For lack of creativity we called it Girl’s Group; we met weekly to chat, to write and to create projects that gave us the opportunity to reflect on our life experiences and identities. We had four girls from a nearby high school and I was one of the four leaders. Coming straight from work to Girl’s Group I often felt frazzled and flustered, but the environment was always calm, welcoming and restful. Losing myself in a project made me feel at peace and resurfacing to share what I made and to see what others created always inspired and affirmed me. One of the girls in the group said, “this is my most relaxed event of the week.” Our time together was safe and living-giving. We are now on break for the summer, but I hope this part of Legacy continues next school year. 
The tip-top of the Legacy House.

Since October I have also been going to the Salvation Army facility each Sunday night to spend time with the guys living there. Along with a few other volunteers from our church I’ve been visiting Unit 1, which is the older high school aged guys. We usually play games, bake something or make plastic bracelets while catching up on the past week. These guys are facing serious struggles and it breaks my heart to hear their prayer requests. On the other hand, it’s amazing to see their growth over the past year. I’ve seen some guys really come out of their shell. Many guys who are new at the Salvation Army are not excited to talk to us on Sunday nights or try our art projects, but the more we come the more they warm up to us. I’ve seen a guy be transformed from a bitter and somewhat violent boy into a sweet and friendly person when cuddling with the Legacy House’s pet bunny Gizmo. I can’t say it’s all fun and uplifting. Last Sunday I got to the Salvation Army to find out that one of our guys was sent back to jail. I don’t know why he’s back there, but I can only rest in knowing that God is with him. These guys are part of the reason why I am so excited to be a part of Legacy Ministries. Legacy’s vision is to see Christ transform lives through creativity and community. Giving these guys the opportunity to discover their own creative skills can be healing and empowering for all involved.
Some art I made with Elise Cranston and Tyler Merrill for an Art Corps project.

Actually, this is what I hope to do this summer through Legacy Camps. I am working on the Art Corps, which is the team of interns that will prepare for and work at the summer camps for at-risk and underprivileged youth in Wichita. These camps will serve boys from the Salvation Army, kids from the Legacy House neighborhood, and kids from our church community. All the campers will get to take classes geared toward creative expression (art, music, drama, film, baking, etc.) throughout the summer. We will have a big week long camp where kids will come from 9am-4pm everyday; they’ll take classes, participate in small groups and get the chance to listen to various speakers share the Word of God. Then we will have six weeks of Legacy Academy, which will give kids the chance to come to camp twice a week and take two classes on subjects that interest them during those six weeks. At past Legacy Camps, which are normally just a week long, kids have begged to have more than just a week at Legacy Camp, so this is our creative solution that allows the learning and relationships that happen in the camps to go deeper. I am excited to build relationships with our campers and to see what God has in store for the Legacy community this summer. 

Anyways, I just wanted to let you all know how I am spending my summer and remind you that if you’re interested in buying something I’ve made, your purchase will help me buy food and pay the bills this summer as I work with Legacy. If you are curious to know more about Legacy, please leave a comment or email me! I’d love to talk with you about my ministry to the inner city youth of Wichita. Hopefully, amidst the craziness of Leagcy Camps, I will get a chance to update you about the goings-on here in Wichita!

30 April 2014

we're planting a canning garden.


Has Spring come to your part of the world yet? Wichita (and the midwest in general) has some funky weather patterns, so one day it feels like spring and the next it's snowing. Nevertheless, the gardening season has begun! 
There's a lot of gardening talk at our dinner table because Josh and our cousin Lauren work for Legacy Ministries' awesome program called GardenWorks. They employ at risk youth to prepare the soil, plant and tend vegetables, herbs, and even some fruit. The goal is to give these teenagers job experience while providing healthy, locally grown food to the community. It's an awesome program and I could probably tell you more about it, but I really want to talk about my garden.
I should call it our garden because Josh and I are working on it together. Since we will be able to buy fresh produce from GardenWorks all summer long, I thought it would be fun and fruitful to plant a garden that we could eat from throughout the rest of the year. After some dinner table discussion, Josh and I decided to plant a canning garden. I have never canned a single tomato, so I have lots to learn. 
We started from scratch on this garden. Our first step was to dig up a ton of bermuda grass. About a month ago we spent about 16 hours digging and pulling out those wretched bermuda grass roots. We were lucky that the start of my spring break coincided with 70 degree weather, so we could dig in the warm sun.
Our little triangle shaped plot, located in a nice sunny spot across the street, measures 19' 9" x 17' 9" x 15' 5".  We first planted onion sets and then three varieties of beets from seed (colorful beets, candy stripe beets, and bulls blood beets). It's so fun to watch the little leaves of our beets coming up! In addition to beets and onions, our plan is to plant tomatoes, bell peppers, hot peppers, and maybe some basil. The latest additions to our garden are a wood chip path, a barrier of buckwheat around the edge of the path (to discourage bermuda grass from taking root), and a rock wall. We've also mixed in some horse manure with our soil. Since we've never canned before we're starting small with salsa, tomato sauce, and beets (in what form, we're not sure yet). My mind is spinning with possibilities, though! I picked up some books from the library on canning and keeping a root cellar. Now I'm wondering if our little basement could be a root cellar and what foods we'd want to store down there. 
I love both the solitude and the community I find in this space. Our garden is close to the house of some neighbors who have befriended us. Their three little kids love to come over and talk with us while gardening. They are talkers! We show them earthworms and they try to help pull out the bermuda grass roots. I also love the time spent with Josh in the garden. It’s special for us to have a common project and it’s a good space for conversation. However, some days I find myself alone in the garden and the time to lose myself in the soil is also valuable. Watering, digging, weeding- they're all monotonous tasks, but I find joy in doing them and in letting my mind wonder or rest. 
 So this is the start of our canning garden. We hope our plants grow well! If you have any great recipes or tips for canning, please leave a comment.

24 April 2014

my parents came to visit!

Several weeks ago my parents made the drive from Greenville to Wichita to hang out with Josh and me for the weekend. We had such a good time together. Our weekend was packed with conversation and delicious food and filled to the brim with love. (Is that too cheesy? Oh well, it's true.) Amidst all the activity, though, I also felt a peacefulness and restfulness in just being together.
My parental units got in kind of late on Friday evening, so we feed them enchiladas and chatted for a while before "hitting the hay," as we say in our family. My mom is amazing and training for a half marathon, so first thing on Saturday she went for a 6 mile run. I joined her for the first two miles. Meanwhile Josh and my dad watched soccer and made waffles. After breakfast there was a plant sale conveniently located across the street; my mom bought tomato plants and basil plants. Luckily the weather was warm and just slightly breezy so we walked around the various gardens. We showed my parents our very own garden (more on this soon) and the Legacy GardenWorks gardens and greenhouse. Not a lot had been planted at that point, but there were onions, beets, and peas coming up, and there were many plant starts waiting to go into the ground.
For lunch we met up with our friend Joey, from Greenville College. Joey was one of my dad's students and he worked at the summer I went to as a junior higher. Joey has this clear memory of me all alone, crying on a swing at camp. I don't remember this at all, but it does sound like something I'd do. Anyways, Josh and I actually ran into Joey at a show here in Wichita about a month ago. It was a total surprise; I hadn't talked to him in a few years and didn't know he was living here. Reconnecting with old friends is really fun. Plus, we ate at the most delicious Salvadorean restaurant, Usuluteco. I could eat their fried plantains with frijoles and crema everyday. If you are in Wichita you really must eat there.
I couldn't stand being inside for too long when the sun was shining so warmly, so we called up Dan (Josh's cousin) and met up for nine holes of disc golf. I'm not sure that I've ever enjoyed disc golf more than I did this day. I often get tired of walking and throwing, so nine holes was perfect. Dan and Josh are actually good at disc golf because they play regularly, but my parents and I had fun learning, talking and walking. After disc golf we zipped home to cook a feast: beat soup, homemade bread, baked sweet potatoes and sweet apple, kale & walnut salad. Grandparents Kline, Dan, and our housemates Lauren and Daniel joined us making our table a bit squished, but happy. Josh's grandparents ended up sharing stories from their lives of learning to follow God; my parents and I felt so inspired and encouraged. After dinner some of us hung around playing Nerts and Up the River Down the River and eating chocolate covered almonds until bedtime. It was my worst game of UTRDTR ever, but life goes on. I love playing games with my parents; some of their dearest quirks come out during an intense round of Nerts.
On Sunday we enjoyed breakfast and good conversation at Riverside Cafe, then went to church at Church of the Savior. My parents had to get back to Greenville for the work week, so we walked along the river, said our goodbyes and they drove off. It was a quick weekend, but full of quality time together. It was much needed on my end! This is only the second year of my life that I haven't lived in the same town as my parents, so the whole long distance thing is unusual. It's easy to get caught up in daily tasks and activities, but when I think about it I really miss them. And some days the missing is stronger than others. My parents are some of the people I am closest to in this world and being apart from them on a daily basis can be hard. 
  Mom and Dad, thanks for coming! I miss you and love you and I am so grateful for our time together.

13 March 2014

on creativity.


I’ve been thinking a lot about creativity in the past few months and have felt a strong need to readjust my approach to art, crafts, and making things. For the past several years a lot of my creative energy went towards my Etsy shop. When sitting down at my craft table the prevailing thought bubble above my head was, “what can I make to sell in my Etsy shop?” When working on any sort of project I often asked myself, “could this be a new product in my shop?” 
That's not necessarily bad. I think there can be space for those kinds of thoughts in my life, but after a while I wasn't feeling creative and had little motivation to make anything at all. After Christmas, especially, I was feeling a little burned out (I made a majority of the gifts I gave) and I was generally uninspired. I didn’t like the self-imposed pressure to make something worthy of being sold every time I sat down to create. I had forgotten that the process of making things is just as valuable (if not more) than the end product. I didn't spend very much time making art or crafts during January and February, but eventually I started missing the creative process. So I decided to take a break from my Etsy shop and to try working on projects just for fun. 
And let me tell you it is fun to experiment with script art (I'm so inspired by Kal) and it's exciting to paint a picture I can keep, especially when it's a painting I love. My entrepreneurial spirit has not diminished; I just try to quiet it at times so I can lose myself in the wonder of painting, drawing, scrapbooking, taking photos, so on and so forth. Being honest, though, I've been really frustrated at times. I don't always like what I make. The vision I have in my head is not always so easy to put down on paper. I'm not as skilled at drawing and painting as I want to be. I know that I have a lot to learn and honing skills takes time. Nevertheless, it's encouraging to remember that I'm actually giving myself a chance to improve.
A few practical things have aided in this process:

1. I set aside specific time in my week for creative exercise. These times are flexible, but I try to sit down at my desk on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday either right after work or in the evening after dinner. Since I enjoy this creative stuff, I tend to make things at other times too. I just have these semi-mandatory times so that I will actually create and so that I can challenge myself to learn more about work in particular medium. 

2. I have a creative accountability partner. My good friend Kelly (who is an amazing artist) and I both need a little external motivation to get ourselves to spend time being creative so we decided to talk weekly about our creative processes. We are even giving each other weekly challenges, which acts as a deadline and spices things up. More about those weekly challenges later.

3. I'm co-leading an art group for high school girls. We meet weekly and do creative writing, different types of art projects, and talk about life. We're following a curriculum and I love that I have another creative outlet through this group. We work on projects that I wouldn't think of myself; it stretches and inspires me. A recent project at Girls Group sparked the idea to paint splashes (my favorite painting is above). 

While this personal reflection was largely a means to help me process my situation , I hope it encourages or inspires some of you out there. And if you have tips on being creative, by all means, share them in the comments! 

02 March 2014

our long weekend in seattle.

Josh and I were fortunate enough to travel to Seattle a few weekends ago. Our trip was a combination of investigating grad. school options/attending the discernment weekend at Seattle Pacific Seminary (SPS) and visiting Josh’s family. We packed a lot into our four days there, and while it didn’t feel like quite enough time, it was still amazing to see our far-away family in early February.
Neither Josh nor I are ready to jump into grad school immediately. Josh is currently finishing up his Master’s thesis from the University of Oslo, so he is eager to take a break from school. We do, however, both have some academic aspirations/interests and it was cool to take some time to investigate our options. I want to be an Elementary ESOL teacher, so I need to find a way to get my teacher certification. SPU has a Master’s in TESOL, which I could combine with a K-12 certification and an ESL endorsement. It’s kind of complicated and I met with four different people at SPU to talk about the TESOL part of the program, the Elementary Education part of the program, and about applying to grad. school in general. I learned a lot and feel better able to look around online at different grad. school programs. 
Josh is interested in studying theology, so he signed up for the discernment weekend at SPS. Each potential seminarian can bring along a family member, so I got to participate in the discernment weekend with Josh. Celeste has recruited a handful of Greenville College students to come to the discernment weekend over the past couple years; this time she just so happened to recruit our good friend Mikey Ward and my cousin Maria Koppelberger!  The discernment weekend was Friday afternoon through Saturday morning. We heard some interesting presentations and panels from professors and students from SPS, we went to a Taize prayer service, ate a couple meals together, and had a couple bible studies. It was good!

One of the most interesting parts of the weekend for Josh and me was a presentation/ discussion with an SPU professor Doug Koskela who talked about vocation and discernment. What we found really helpful was his distinction between the three categories of calling from God. 1) General Calling from God to all people to love and follow God. 2) Missional Calling, which is a person's guiding purpose, mission, or vocation and is usually connected to a person's gifts, talents and interests. 3) Direct Calling is a direct call from God to do a particular task and may not have any link to one's gifts or interests. It was really encouraging to us (especially Josh who doesn't have a crystal clear understanding of his vocation) when Doug said he believes everyone has a missional calling which may take time, prayer and some trial and error to figure it out. Furthermore, not everyone has a direct calling and this is not something that we should spend time seeking. Doug said, "with direct calling, it's best to think in terms of confirmation rather than discernment." With direct callings, God will make it clear to us (think of stories like Moses and the burning bush or Jonah and the Whale).  And that is a relief. As a young person I think there is some pressure to figure your life out and to be a successful, contributing member of society. It's quite a relief to realize that success in God's eyes (which is what matters to me) can mean doing something meaningful that I love and feel drawn to do. 
After the discernment weekend was over on Saturday we had the rest of the day to hang out in Seattle with Mikey and Maria. We walked around Queen Anne Hill, where the Cranstons live, and we hiked through Discovery Park, a huge public park in the middle of Seattle on the shores of the Puget Sound. Since I didn't take my camera to Discovery Park, I am borrowing some pictures from the internet so you can see this awesome place:

Do you see those mountains?! I just love mountains. A little side note about Discovery Park: when I first visited Josh in Seattle the summer after our sophomore year of college we spent a good three or four hours exploring Discovery Park. We hiked all over the trails and then scrambled down to the shore where we wandered for a while, only to try to climb back up to the trails by way of something that resembled a bluff.  We crawled up that rocky butte, which turned into a forest of tangled vines and brambles. We were hoping that our trek would led us to the trails, but it was all for not. We ended up sliding back down the rocky hill and found the trail via the well-traveled route, but for a while we felt like explorers. 

It actually snowed on Saturday night and didn't fully melt until Sunday, which is pretty unusual. There was some concern that our Greenville people wouldn't catch their flights home, but they made it just fine. On Saturday, Sunday and Monday morning we hung out at home with this furry guy below (who is quite hard to photograph!), Elliot, Josh's best friend from childhood, and with some extended family. We ate Sunday lunch with Grandparents Cranston, Christopher and Ali (cousins), Aunt Paula, and Uncle Frank and Aunt Rhonda. We hadn't seen most of the Seattle contingent since last Christmas and we hadn't seen Paula since our wedding, so it was a real treat to spend time with them.
Our little jaunt to Seattle was encouraging, invigorating and down right fun. We love you family; thanks for making our time in Seattle wonderful!