Friday, July 27, 2012

My Dad's 52nd Birthday

Today is my dad’s 52nd birthday, or as he likes to say his 30th (again).  He is such an amazing person and I love him more than anything, but he is the most difficult person to shop for. My dad is the kind of person that if he sees something he likes, he buys it right then and there. He isn’t one to tell you something he would like for his birthday. Heck! He doesn’t even like acknowledging his birthday at all. About a month ago, I began thinking about things to get him. He already has enough tools and plenty of shirts. He doesn’t wear ties and hockey season hasn’t started yet. So instead of wasting money on useless items, I came up with a few things that I could do that he would like.

1) A Little Note

Since it’s just another Friday to him, he got up for work with a little surprise. Before I went to sleep last night I wrote a cute little note to him. I taped it on the mirror in his bathroom, where he gets ready in the morning, so I can be sure that he sees it. It was just a short and sweet note with no more than, “Good Morning, Daddy! Don’t work too hard on your birthday! I love you so much! Love, Katie.” Just a little gesture that put a smile on his face.

2) Wash The Truck

My dad is a police officer, so he usually has his police car or motorcycle, leaving his truck to sit in the driveway collecting dust, dirt, and leaves all over. So while he was at work today, I washed his car. Not just a normal hose down with a little soap here and there, but an extreme cleaning. I scrubbed the outside of the car to get every little piece of dirt off. I didn’t stop until every last speck was gone. The exterior was the easy part though. The interior of the car was a challenge. The windows had finger prints, dust covered the dashboard, and the floor mats were filthy. Nevertheless, once I was finished with it, the whole truck shined. I don’t think it has ever been this clean since the day he drove it off the lot seven years ago. Extreme cleaning his car was something that he has always been meaning to do, but somehow it always gets put off. I can see why. It definitely wasn’t a quick task.

3) A Scrapbook Page

Something that I know my dad cherishes is pictures and something I really enjoy doing is scrapbooking. A year or so ago, I started a scrapbook for him. It started off with just a blank scrapbook and one scrapbook page. Each occasion that typically requires a gift, he got another scrapbook page to add to his growing scrapbook. This year I took one of our most memorable moments from our trip to Germany a couple weeks ago. He hasn’t received it yet, but I know for a fact he’s going to love it.

My dad isn’t a very materialistic guy. I know it sounds cliché, but for him, it truly is the thought that counts. Little things like these make him happier than any fancy pen, tie, or any other useless shenanigans that people typically get their dads for his birthday.  

Happy Birthday, Dad!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

College Stress

           The application to your future opens in a week.
           Yes, it is that time of year again. The beginning of a season for seniors' stress, anticipation, and more. Common App opens on August 1st, thus in comes the questions:
Which College?
              Which essay?
                         How do I write my essay?

There is no easy way to answer these questions without hours of research and brainstorming.
But this simple solution of setting aside time may not be easily done for the League of Procrastinators (of which I am a senior member-ha)
And so, I pray that you (and myself) set aside time for this. Sure, it may not be a fun time spending the precious days of summer left for this, but if not now, when? As the shoe company, Nike so advertised, "Just Do It".

For me, the best way is to answer these questions is in the most relaxing way possible for myself: going to a bookstore and reading up on college books while drinking a cup of tea.

But you don't have to do it my nerdy way. There's always the trusty internet to surf.

Happy Summer.                        

Monday, July 23, 2012

Seaweed. It's everywhere.

      It's summer and the typical thing to do is head out and go to the beach. But some dislike the beach because of the sand, seeing how it gets everywhere, or the water, seeing how it makes everything stick to you. But I blame seaweed.
      Even though it provides life, it's annoying to swim in waters infested by it. But no one really knows how seaweed is such a big part of our lives.
      I mean apart from swimming with it or getting a crab on you because of it, seaweed is everywhere. Look at the ingredients of your toothpaste or even your cookies, it's there.
     Seaweed doesn't only provide life, it provides products. So next time you say, "I wish seaweed didn't exist," think about it. Are you prepared to accept the consequences? I think not. We should start to appreciate seaweed a bit more.
     Because like they say, "we don't realize what we have until it's gone."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Trip to Change My Life (One that I didn't even want to take)

Sometimes, there's this time in life when you feel like it's time to change. And here I am. 

I've always been a person to serve too much on my plate and then scramble to finish it.

Now, I'm stuck in one of Florida's northern cities, Ocala, taking a college course (not my idea). And oddly enough, it's been a self-realization trip.

I see the simplicity code the locals live by, and I'm in awe. 

They are extremely kind and helpful, selling products off their own farm on their front porch, rocking in their rocking chairs and smiling as you pass by them.

It's country feel and warmth wraps me up and has inspired me with new ideas, goals, and dreams.

If you don't know, I'm always volunteering at almost every place in my community you can think of. 

But this time I wanna get out and travel the world, help those most in need, and settle down in a place where I can still be of help.

I want to help others around the world just like neighbors up here help each other. And hopefully when I settle down and start my own family it'll be deep in the country, down those back roads I love to explore and which my kids will love as well.

I've learned to love myself a little more as well, and at the same time be confident in myself. I feel like that's helped me mature even more.

My passions still remain the same, helping others and being a journalist. But my values have changed from thosed of a big city girl rubbing elbows with the "populars", to those of a backwoods country girl's southern hospitality.

I wish South Florida were this way. That way I wouldn't be pulling out my hair every day.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How the gym became my new best friend

Lets start off by saying that I am the laziest person you will ever meet. There is no doubt about. I am the kind of person who loves to stay home and just watch movies and TV shows off Netflix all night. But this summer I wanted to change that.

Last summer, I got a personal trainer and I would go to her home gym about 3 times a week. It was great! I loved it. She was an awesome trainer and I saw a lot of progress. I lost 30 pounds by the time summer was over. Then everything started to fall apart. Once school started, it got harder for me to find a ride, or even find the time between newspaper and studying to go for training. I would get angry text messages from my trainer about cancelling last minute and I couldn't handle the emotional stress she was putting on me so I knew I couldn't stay there any longer. In the end,  it was a tough breakup that needed to happen.

Now this summer, I have gotten another personal trainer that works at LA Fitness. Michael, my trainer is a little older then me and he's a great trainer that I see twice a week. He knows when he is pushing limits and I can see the weight shedding off me as the days go by. It doesn't hurt that he looks like Captain America because that just makes you want to come back for another training session.

I have been going to the gym so often that I see the employees more often then my own friends. I go every morning and then sometimes run on the treadmill at my house at night. Before, I hated going to the gym because I felt it was so boring. But now, with the perfect playlist of Taking Back Sunday and Rise Against, the gym is my second home and my new best friend.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

What do YOU have to say about Independence Day?

Parades, impressive pyrotechnics, and family barbeques. While these elements are seemingly random and unrelated, each one is united by the nationwide urge to celebrate one all-important historical event: July 4, 1776. On this day in history, delegates from the 13 colonies rallied in Philadelphia to secure the passage of a carefully crafted document that was to free the colonists of Britain's tyranny and - most importantly - declare America's independence. This momentous occasion in American history was welcomed with tears, cheers, and fireworks by the colonists of the day; astonishingly, this patriotic spirit holds true with American citizens 236 years later! 

How can this national holiday be celebrated with unrelenting gusto year after year, you ask? For an inquisitive journalist such as myself, this question can only be answered by asking ordinary Floridians another one: what does Independence Day mean to you? 

For Pat Reynolds, a 37 year old orthodonist from Coconut Grove, Independence Day is the perfect time to appreciate and celebrate the freedoms granted to every American. "We are so blessed to live in the greatest country in the world," Reynolds said. "It's hard not to appreciate the genius of our founding fathers, who put together a system of government that gave power to the people. We may be a young country, but we are envied by all others."

Every time the fourth of July rolls around, 42 year old Ryan Murphy finds himself overwhelmed by emotion. "Independence Day turns me into such a cry baby," said Murphy, "But the endurance of the American spirit is so moving. For me, it produces an emotion that is both humbling and sentimental."

7 year old Kristen Corban offers a more lighthearted view of the national holiday. "The Fourth of July is special to me," Corban said, "Because I get to wear my sparkly red headband and dance with sparklers."

After serving three years in Vietnam in 1968, self-proclaimed patriot David Russo finds special motivation in America's birthday. "Eat, drink, and celebrate... but don't get complacent," Russo said. "The Fourth of July reminds us of everything we risked for independence, and everything we could lose if we don't protect America's name. It motivates me to take no freedom for granted."

For 17 year old Joseph Marshall, the beauty of Independence Day lies in its unique ability to unite every family in the country. "When I watch the fireworks from the top of my building," Marshall said, "I can see them being set off for miles and create a blanket of colorful sparks across the sky. I then realize that millions of Americans are with their families, all celebrating the day we declared our independence. On this day, we are all united."

While these perspectives are all very different, one thing is clear: Independence Day holds a very special place in the heart of every American. A day that unites, motivates, and prompts clever accessorizing, the Fourth of July has endured for 236 years and will endure until the end of time. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fighters and Fireworks

All I have I have because of my parents.

They were the ones that naturally ingrained a deep-rooted appreciation for the U.S. in me, which is annually rekindled as July's sizzle rolls around again. Because come Independence Day - along with apple pie, baseball,  picnics, fireworks and all other quintessentially American hallmarks of tradition- my patriotic fervor reawakens.

Their accents alone discern Mama and Papa from their anthem-chanting, flag-toting neighbors. Both were daunted by squalor and Socialism in their motherlands, and they fled to the United States in search of prosperity. Now, as recently naturalized citizens (conveniently in time for the impending Presidential elections), they are captivated by the abounding American Dream.

Had it not been for them, maybe I would have neglected to realize the splendor of this country. Maybe each sweltering Fourth of July would not have evoked such emotion for me. Maybe I would have suppressed the very notions that define me as an American, as the very first in my family to be born and bred in the U.S.

Tomorrow commemorates 236 years of the enduring American spirit of liberty. Fireworks will alight the sky- and my head and heart and soul. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

I Went to the University of Florida Today...

What better way to spend summer then investing in your future?

Today, at about 8:30 in the morning, my family and I embarked on a journey to UF, the college of my dreams. And let me tell you, I'm making my dream a reality if it kills me.

 Once we got there, we took a tour of the College of Journalism and Communications (It was so amazing, I was trying not to hyperventilate) and I couldn't stop imagining myself being a Gator. I felt like I belonged there. 

Once that tour was over, we took a lunch break at the food court in Reitz Union, which made me feel like I was in a mall. (Hey, they need to feed 50,000 students.) I munched on Subway, eagerly wanting to see the rest of the school. I kept seeing so many bright faces, I couldn't help feeling that everyone one in this school is incredibly nice and friendly.

After lunch, we stopped at the bookstore (which has much more than books) then headed down to the Welcome Center for a tour of the whole school.

During the tour of the whole school, we were lead by two chipper students who happily led us through the school, and we saw everything from The Swamp to dorm rooms.

By the end of the tour, everyone was sweating bullets (that Florida summer heat just doesn't stop!) so we headed back to the car and checked out some of the Fraternities.

As we drove back home to my grandparents house near Orlando, I couldn't help feeling a tinge of sadness. But, if I work hard in school, I'll get in, and I won't have to leave as soon!