The most requested thing for dinner around here? Noodles. With butter.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Voluntourism, part 4: The Blowing Rock

This is the "tourism" part of our trip- seeing the local sights near Boone, NC.

The Blowing Rock is a natural rock formation that has an interesting feature- when you throw lightweight items off, the updraft blows them back to you.  Legend has it that an Indian brave was blown back to his maiden after he leapt off the cliff.  So they lived happily ever after.

The viewing platform offers amazing views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but with the sun so low in the sky it was hard to get really good pictures.  It was also very cold out with a bitter wind blowing- you can't tell in the photos but on the viewing platform our eyes were watering and our noses running.  I was so glad I had my gloves for my hands and my Buff for my ears.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Voluntourism, part 3

Operation Christmas Child is only one of the ministries at Samaritan's Purse.   They are involved in disaster relief both home and abroad, AIDS education and relief in Africa, life-saving surgeries for children in remote areas like Mongolia, and other outreach efforts.  So on our recent trip to Boone, NC to work at the OCC processing center, we also made time to take a tour of the U.S. Disaster Relief center in Wilkesboro, NC.

This is one of the places where they store the stuff they use to help out after floods, tornados, hurricanes, ice storms, etc.  There was equipment, tarps, tools, and all sorts of things that might be needed.  Most impressive was the fleet of 18-wheelers- fully equipped and ready to show up at any disaster.
The building used to be a Coca-Cola distribution center.  Coke gave it to Samaritan's Purse.

Inside the front part of the truck- the sides slide out and there is enough room for a command center office that can monitor the weather and traffic for the operation.

The truck has an upstairs that houses the heavy equipment.

The downstairs of the truck has cabinet after cabinet of vital equipment.

Many of the smaller vehicles were out on the job in Illinois after the wave of tornados.
Be sure to visit the Samaritan's Purse website to see great pictures, video, and stories of how their help has benefitted many.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Fog day!

Freezing fog most of the day today so school was cancelled.  It was so nice to have time to finish some projects, start others, and just get caught up.

Ran some errands around 10am and when I went outside the sun was trying to burn off some of the fog.  I caught a glimpse of something sparkling in the air- was it glitter?  No- as I looked toward the sun and the sparkles, it hit me- it was freezing fog dancing in the air all around me.  I have never seen that before- it was magical.  I told kiddo about it and she asked if I thought that is what heaven would be like...  hmmm.

Went to Home Depot and got some more weatherstripping for the patio door.   Having a dog door in the patio door causes the slider to be out of alignment and the breeze really comes in.  It feels much toastier in here now.

Cleaned out the car and organized the console stuff- including the pile of drive-thru napkins and our small ketchup collection.  (The collection isn't small, the ketchups are.)

Renewed all my craigslist postings.

Gathered all my tools and nails and screws and picture hanging stuff and organized it in the tool bucket.  So much easier to find things, and my buffet is now useable and not covered in tools!

Took kiddo to the ortho to get a bracket replaced.  Also hit a couple of antique and craft stores near the ortho and found just what I wanted to hold Christmas cards.  The nice thing is that I can remove the jute and keep it as just a chalkboard for the rest of the year.  I thought I wanted something to hang on the wall, but the wall has a pocket door inside and it is tricky to hang things on those kind of walls.  This old door is just braced against the wall and it has rubbery stuff on the bottom to keep it from sliding.
Since there are chalkboards painted on the door, I tied a piece of chalk and a rag eraser to some jute and hung them on the handle.   The JOY banner is printed on old German sheet music- very cool looking.

Still looking for a shelf for my entryway- something with old doorknobs as coat hangers.

Here's a few pics of the house in the little bit of snow we got yesterday:
Lookin' out my back door.

You wonder why there are no footprints in my driveway?  I walked on my neighbor's drive.
She had already driven on it, so I wasn't ruining it.  I just didn't want to ruin mine...

So, that's what teachers do on snow days.  Tomorrow it's back to writing tests and convincing children that it would be good for them to practice their math...  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Voluntourism, part 2

We spent the week of Thanksgiving in Boone, NC, in order to work at Samaritan's Purse, but we also got to see some local sights on the days we weren't working.

Have you ever read the Mitford books by Jan Karon?  Well, the fictional town of Mitford was based on the real town of Blowing Rock, which is just down the road from Boone.  It's a cute little town- located on the Blue Ridge Parkway in the mountains of northern NC.

This church was the inspiration for the Lord's chapel in the Mitford books.

Blowing Rock reminded me of one of our coastal towns- a main street with lots of touristy shops and cafes.  One of the days we were there it was pretty crowded because everyone was waiting for the tree lighting, but after that the crowds thinned and it was easy to hit the shops and see the decorations.  I would love to see it in the summer when it isn't so cold out!

At home we had snow this morning, but it only delayed school instead of canceling it.  That's ok. It gave me time to pay bills and address more Christmas cards and we won't have to make it up in June!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Voluntourism, part 1

Voluntourism means volunteering as part of your touristy vacation.  My folks have been voluntourists for 6 years now, spending about a month every autumn in the Appalachian town of Boone, NC for the purpose of sightseeing and relaxing, but mostly to work at the processing center for Operation Christmas Child.

OCC is a part of the relief organization Samaritan's Purse.  Headed by Franklin Graham, Samaritan's Purse gathers tools, tarps, building supplies, etc. and sends them out to areas of the nation and world that are hit by natural disasters and war.  From the tsunami in Southeast Asia, the flooding in Colorado, the tornados in Illinois, to the Jersey Shore mess from Superstorm Sandy and more, Samaritan's Purse stands ready to help.

OCC is the part of the ministry that delivers shoebox gifts to needy children around the world.  It is something that anyone can do- find a shoebox and pack it with some hygiene products, school supplies, toys, and candy and then take it to a local donation center and that's it!  You have just participated in an international cause that has delivered over 100 million boxes to kids that really need some hope and good news.

Since kiddo turned 13 this year, she was eligible to work at the processing center.  We took time off work and school and flew to Boone to help.  We got trained for a variety of jobs the first day, and then we were sent to the floor to inspect those boxes and make sure they were full enough for each child, and contained the right products so they would pass customs and be safe in any sort of environment (gifts need to be able to withstand temperature extremes).

Here's some pictures of the center and us at work.  We mostly did inspecting- taking out inappropriate items like liquids, and sometimes adding items if the box seemed too empty.

The processing center.  This was Wednesday and it snowed most of the day.
This group was from Mexico.  They had handed out boxes before, but had never worked at a processing center.
We are getting checked in.
Our training- mostly by video.

The whole family
My dad tapes the boxes after they have been inspected
My mom checks each box for the $7.00 donation for shipping costs.  Then she hands it off to Abby who inspects for liquids and foods and other inappropriate items.  Everything that is removed is donated to local shelters and charities. There weren't many workers this day, but on the weekends the center is packed with volunteers.
Daily announcements and prayer by the chaplain.
The display board- we are using this pic on our Christmas card.
Keeping track of how many boxes have been processed.
The Boone center expected to do 750, 000 this season.
Most of the boxes from here were headed to Burkina Faso in Africa.

This truck was loaded and ready to go to the airport.  (This was the day after the snow.)

In the next few posts, I'll show you more about the area around Boone and some of the "tourism" things we did when we weren't volunteering.

Here at home, it might snow again tonight which could mean no school tomorrow.  I hope so.  I still have about 49 moving boxes left to unpack...