There and Back Again

The Hobbit? It’s like seeing old friends.

Very, very old friends.

Almost half my lifetime has past since the smiles graced the lips of the victorious fellowship in the ending scenes of director Peter Jackson’s rendition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Return of the King.  I sat in the seats of the movie theatre for the second time after my own pack of middle school friends bounced in to watch the final scenes unfold on the big screen.  The Return of the King seems to end multiple times, fans bracing for the end of the journey with each blackened screen, glad when scenes continue to fade back in allowing just a few extra minutes with beloved characters.  When the credits finally rolled in, my 6th grade girlfriends were not ready to let go.  We left the theatre and filled the following months with tales of our very own fellowship and the most devoted among us wrote histories of our characters.  We spent the end moments of our lunch and recess time up on the hill behind the middle school eventually finding our own ring of sorts, a leftover rubber poly dot forgotten in some distant gym class.  Our fellowship of overeager, giddy tweens defended our treasure against the band of rabble sixth grade boys, our own brand of orc.  That poly dot was important to us.  We dog-piled, tackled, and ran hard sprints to protect it.  One day after school hours,  I even had my mother take me back to school to rescue it from behind the heater fence because the boys had casually tossed it there in an act of spite as the whistle rang to return to class earlier that day.  There was even a tale of the time one of my friends whipped the poly dot out from inside the binder of our enemy all the way across the reading classroom to another member to seal an epic victory for our fellowship.  But eventually the legends faded and the adventure of those recesses spent battling the enemy broke down to today’s safety conscious school systems, the guidance counselor defusing our imaginations by banning our battles and reducing them to two hand touch.  (On an aside, I would expect nothing less from a school system who banned tag in the elementary schools.)

The fellowship disbanded, though I continued to write about my own character upon meeting another diehard with whom I would watch the extended editions, the inspiration of the stories continuing to cling to our souls.  When that came to a close, I hung onto the tales by scrawling “Dear Nin-Parma,” or “my book” as the Elvish goes, as the opening to the journal entries documenting my own journeys.  Nine years have passed since Return of the King.  The battles and victories of my own life have been underway.  I have since left the halls of my middle school, ventured through the playing fields of high school sports and classes, graduated from my high school and journeyed to college, leaving home for the first time, a feat always looming grimly ahead of me that I’m proud to have charged sword in hand (as well as love and Christ in heart) to declare my biggest victory to date.

The sights of Middle Earth during the premiere of The Hobbit last Thursday night at midnight, during the end of my first semester of Junior year at Messiah College, warmed the embers that the Lord of the Rings trilogy inspired so long ago.  Amidst the business of finals week and residence hall checkouts, the weight of the unveiling of this prequel did not quite hit my spirit until the moments directly leading up to the trip to the theatre.  Upon my second viewing tonight, my cousin put it best, it’s amazing that you are watching and there is more.  After years of watching and re-watching familiar reels and mouthing the same scripts, you are given more.  Enabled to dive deeper.  The Hobbit fills viewers with what they originally fell in love with.  Familiar scores, scenes, faces and the same breath that enlivens spirits to some greater purpose beyond oneself, in sync with the inkling author’s own relationship with the divine.  The epic motif of light versus dark permeates the movie when trolls find their defeat as dawn breaks and the cohort of dwarves defeats the goblins in the refuge of sunlight.  Even the light from the fires of the pinecones provide protection from the pale orc and his minions.

The familiar scenes of the Shire tug the hearts of the audience right away and the meeting of the great overseers of Middle Earth alludes to the impending adventures,  an excellent precursor that bridges the new tale to its forerunners.  Following the meeting of Elrond, Saruman, Gandalf and the Lady of Lorien, the elf maiden asks Gandalf, why Bilbo?, and his response is of the breed of the monologues from the Lord of the Rings that caused those deeps stirrings many years ago.  “Saruman,” he says, “believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found.  I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.  Small acts of kindness and love.  Why Bilbo Baggins? Perhaps because I am afraid, and he gives me courage.”

I forgot the momentum of Tolkien’s divine inspiration breathed into his fantasy and am once again enlivened by his tales.  I have had nine years of the everyday deeds of ordinary folk.  What were my small acts of kindness and love?  The Hobbit, and its familiar faces, asks us to look back.  Yes, look back at the origins of an inspiring favorite, but also to look back at our own lives and see where our journey has led in the meantime.  It calls us not to lose sight of the epic adventure ahead and invites us back into the tale to find our roots so that we too can engage in the combat of the ordinary folk that keeps darkness at bay.

The Hobbit, you ask?
Like seeing old friends.


This evening Rachel and I travelled down the Garden State Parkway through pockets of traffic and open highway, across the causeway and down Bay Avenue to our new LBI home. (And I still can not believe I am saying that, I am so blessed).

After pedaling to Slice of Heaven and gobbling down our favored white pizza, we ended up at the playground just a stone’s throw from the house.  Eagerly, we dashed over wood-chips towards the playground favorite: the swing set.

Every time I begin pumping, kicking my feet toward the heavens, wind rushing past me as I drift back and forth,  I am taken back to first grade.  I can still distinctly remember the dainty classmate who would swing back and forth hair almost dragging the ground as she kicked her legs.  She would jerk her head back on every up swing, her long, wavy, brown hair catching the breeze in just the right way leaving me dazzled (and envious from my toes all the way up) of my petite little peer.  I longed for locks like hers so that one day I could be just as mesmerizing as I floated from the sky back towards Earth.

Now, thirteen or so years later I still want to be that girl.  Every time I go on the swings I do feel just a little bit more beautiful inside.  There is something about the playful charm of swinging.  The swings make you sort of hope you are just like way you look; full of the spirited innocence of a child on the inside, all the while stunning on the outside, simply captivating all the way through.

…3 Days!

Today I did not accomplish much because it was such a busy day with babysitting, my lacrosse clinic, field hockey, and gym workout.

However, with the help of my sister I was able to package the mint my Grandmother gave me to sell from her garden, into little mesh baggies. The minty scent wafted up to my nose as I packaged, and the smell was phenominal. I also printed off some of my Grandma’s mint recipes and made little recipe books to go with each package, complete with little ribbon bows.
See them below:

Budgetting like a Child

Anyone out there old fashioned like me?
So you may say, “You aren’t old fashion, your writing a blog online, thats pretty new agey to me.” And yes, it is. I do indulge in e-mail, facebook, my new iPhone and other technologies but at the end of the day I’m a pen and paper kind of gal. I like my college notes to be handwritten (in Sharpie) and bound together in a binder as opposed to typed up in a computer file because by hand I am better able to express myself creatively.
Anyway, as a budding adult I am just beginning to learn the ways of managing a budget. As I previously mentioned I am spending my summer changing diapers, blowing bubbles and playing with dolls as a babysitter. Many think babysitting is not a sufficient way to make money. Although it may not be completely consistent, I am still up to my ears in work. And what do these jobs bring; some cash, a blessing from God in today’s economy. (I thank Him for the amount of work I am getting, He is very faithful!)
I was sick of putting all of my earned money in the bank and having it spent on knick-knacks, such as a pack of gum or a sharpie here or there, never knowing if I actually saved any money. I decided it was time for a budget. This way I could make sure I was saving cash while also allotting money to spend on clothes and crafts without feeling guilty. As one who can hardly turn her TV on, I found managing a budget on the computer would not satisfy my lifestyle.
So I reverted to the childhood methods of keeping jars. I began the process by selecting some old plastic lotion jars I had been storing in my basement and labelled them each and designated a percentage of each jobs earnings to each category.
Here’s what I came up with:
Saving- 10%
Spending (on eating out and activities) -20%
Charities- 10%
Clothes- %15
Crafts- 5%
And thus is sufficient for the life of a college student. All you adults are now gawking at my percentage of spending which I know will decrease when I need to support a family and am responsible for things like food. For now, this works and teaches me about the process of managing funds. Like I said, often I feel stifled in creativity because of technology, and being able to select jars, decorate them with sharpies and stickers allowed me to be who I am. Who cares if it seems childish? I am being me, child-like, quaint, and simple, but its the only person I know how to be.

Oh for a Child’s Joy!

A huge part of my life this summer; babysitting!

The perks: experience with children for my future job as a teacher, good money, and making my own hours (so I can enjoy visits to friends and to the Jersey Shore)
Amongst the diaper changes, crying toddlers, and never ending task of occupying the children, there is another highlight:
Discovering the silliness and simple joy of children.
These moments can often make for the best stories and I’ll share a few thus far this summer:
On Monday, I had my busiest job yet! At one point during the morning at my Spring Kids Camp, where moms drop off their preschool and toddler children at my house for playtime, I had five young children. I was bouncing from kid to kid trying to keep them all occupied and was finally satisfied to have each child happily playing, not crying and not getting into anything they were not supposed to. I had two children playing together with legos, one playing with trains, one admiring a bouncy horse, and one building with blocks. I was proud, I had successfully occupied my campers. Complete bliss!
Then, it ended, just as fast as it came. I was left to my own devices trying to keep a girl who missed her mom from whimpering, trying to stop the other children from throwing legos, and trying to convince another boy that if he saw the other children misbehaving he had to tell me, not boss them around.
Amidst the choas, however, there were some moments I could not help but stop and laugh and enjoy the ability children gain pleasure from the simplest things in life.
In one such moment, I went to check on one of my toddler girls to notice that she was busying herself with rubbing her lips back and forth across the glass door, getting slobber all over the window. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as I tried to occupy her with a real toy.
Just before I found this girl, I looked over to see one of the boys pointing at two shiny knobs to one of my basement closets.
“There are two of me,” he giggled looking over at me. he thought it was completely hysterical and I joined with him in laughter, admiring his simple joy. He got a huge kick out of his own reflection.
Two of the children I babysit were able to entertain themselves simply with a glass door and golden door knobs. I stumbled upon this quote that sums up the incredible ability of children appreciate the simple things in life:
A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.” ~Bill Vaughan

Journalling! Journalling! Journalling!!

Finally finished my journal for my freshmen year of college after 10+ hours of adding pictures and creating collages over the past two days!! Can’t believe I went through a whole book so quickly! This year I have to have a separate summer journal. Phew, I’m tired but satisfied! Now to start my summer one (I have to add pictures from the last week of school) …I think that can happen tomorrow!