Monday, August 11, 2014

Babies, biking, and more adventures

          The last few weeks have been full of excitement for me. On July 16th, I drove to Kansas with my parents. That night, my nephew, Ethan James Schmidt was born. He is the cutest, most lovable baby ever (in my unbiased opinion)!!! I am so excited to be an aunt for a first time and look forward to the years ahead as I spoil that boy! I want to be the really cool aunt in his life- the person Ethan can come to with anything and know that I will love him unconditionally and will be a safe place for him. I was so happy to be in Kansas for his first week and spend time with him in the hospital and at home. I stayed up one night at the hospital to help my brother and sister-in-law out (I cannot imagine doing all they do alone!) and it was so rewarding to be with Ethan in those hours and reconnect with his parents.
          Also, while in Kansas, my grandma turned 85. We had a big party to celebrate. I really enjoyed spending time with some of my cousins who I rarely get to see. I also enjoyed being with my grandma once again. She is a really special person in my life and it had been a year since I had seen her. During my time in Kansas, I also got to bike with my dad. Since having my bike in Croatia, I have been more passionate about wanting to bike more, so it was great bringing along our bikes and seeing different scenery. Most days we would end up at a great coffee shop where we would split a cinnamon roll and drink coffee. Biking, coffee, conversation with my dad... what could be better?! Since I have no job, I decided that I had no reason to go home, so I decided to let my parents go home without me and I would stay and take my grandma to Colorado.
          As I have mentioned many times in this blog, Colorado is my favorite place on earth. I can't fully describe the feeling of being up in the mountains. All I know is that I belong there. And I cannot stand not being there... as soon as I finish up my degree at AMBS (Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary), I am determined to move out there. My grandma and I had a great time being at her cabin and exploring some nearby towns. To end our trip, we drove to Denver to visit one of my cousins, his wife, and their 9 1/2 month baby. He was also really cute. We then drove back to Kansas, where I got to have coffee with my friend Miriam (the girl whom I visited in Sarajevo... and then spent one last evening with Ethan. I flew the next day to Minneapolis.
          From July 29 to August 7, I was with my two really good friends, Lisle and Elias. Lisle had visited me in Croatia, but really wanted to see me again. We figured that this might be one of the last time that I had a good chunk of time I could come and spend time with them. Even though they both had to work during the day, the visit turned out amazing!!! We did so many great things! We visited a contemporary art museum, we attempted geocaching, we went shopping (thrift stores, REI, and the Mall of America), we spent the weekend camping at Wild River State Park, we went paddleboarding, we did archery, we went to a Twins baseball game, we played board games, we played tennis, we cooked, and much, much more! I love them so much and it was great to spend such quality time with them.
          I was also happy to explore a new city. Since I had the days to myself, I planned a couple of adventures. I borrowed a bike from a couchsurfer and spent one day riding all around many lakes and bike paths. It felt so good to be out by myself and just enjoy the city. I met for lunch a neat cafe with some couchsurfers and had this amazing experience of connecting with strangers. We talked a lot about how to be authentic in the world and positive and negative egos. Somehow, they managed to get me to talk about all my insecurities. It might be strange that it happened with strangers, but it felt so great to verbalize them and still be completely accepted. I also visited the Minneapolis Institute of Art by myself and became friends with some of the guards. I ended up having a great, long conversation with a really awesome guy. It was nice to make friends and connect with random people in a new city.
          And now it is time for me to get to work. I have an online class that starts today and I have begun to search for a job in Elkhart. If anyone knows of anything, I would love to hear! I really need something part-time to pay for housing and food. But even though job-searching is not fun, I am at a really good place in my life. I have had some epic adventures these past couple of weeks, and I look forward to what is to come. 

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