Friday, May 30, 2014

Wedding Week: Sweet Friends

These past few days have been ever so sweet. There are too many photos, too many sweet memories and too many thoughts to express for this week. But as I get ready for tomorrow, the big day, I only have a couple quick photos to post.

I have loved getting to see all of Haley's friendships since we've been here. Childhood friends, Moody friends, sisters, dear people who love her and whom she loves. What precious times these have been!

Haley has been sweet, happy and wonderful this week and I am so excited for tomorrow!! I can't wait to have another sister-in-law!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Race in Vail

Back in March, I participated in my first 5-mile race. I really enjoyed it, even though I don't usually consider myself a "runner". I will say that it's much more motivating to lace up your shoes and get out there when you have something to work towards!

After that race in Moab, Mom, Dad and I researched to see if there was another one we could do before the wedding, and found one on May 26th in Vail, Colorado. Why not sign up?

This race was much more low-key than Moab. People mingled and made new friends, the crowds were smaller here and the race even started a few minutes late.

What a beautiful place for a race - nestled in the Rockies in a quaint but classy mountain village.

Dad ran the half-marathon again (props to him because the course was uphill for the whole first half!!), and Mom and I did the 5-mile. Unfortunately, we both had knee problems coming into the race, but that didn't stop us from (speed-)walking the 5 miles! Dad always tells us that everything counts. It doesn't matter that we didn't run it, but that we still went the 5 miles. Regardless of our speed, it was still great to be a part of the whole "race experience".

I still haven't figured out if I like running, but walking on bike trails through Vail was perfect. Walking actually is my favorite, though I want to continue giving running a chance. But hey, it wasn't bad at all to have an excuse to soak in the beauty of the mountains a little more as we walked this time around.

Sun, exercise and beauty made for a wonderful start to the wedding week. And hopefully, I'll get to do some more races some day. They're such fun. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Familiar Place

After an 18-hour trip, we rolled into a very well known driveway last night. A sweet smile and a warm hug greeted us in the kitchen as we entered through the creaky door past midnight. I was met by family pictures and relics from the past on my way to the corner room of the house, where I always stay at Grandpa and Nana's.

I dreamt about misplacing Caleb's wedding ring last night (and later finding it, thankfully), but woke up happily to a sunny Spring day in Colorado. Grandpa and Nana's house is comforting, in a special way. Dad grew up in this house and has memories in every room and every chair. Just today he told us about coming home every day from school, grabbing an orange, and eating it while reading Reader's Digest (which he says he loved back then) in his special chair that still sits in its spot in the living room. 

This house holds memories, stories and a piece of the past. Grandpa still gardens, like he did when my dad was little. Nana still cooks nourishing meals for everyone, though now the counter holds gluten-free Chex and almond milk for us too. 

I love walking around the house and finding things I had never noticed before - like the black and white photo of Nana and my aunt at a picnic, or the plaque recognizing the 52 years that my grandparents dedicated to serving with Cadence International, a glass bottle with things inside representing the Philippines (where they lived for 10 years) or a beautiful blue bike in the garage. 

I also love getting the tour of the garden, hearing about what all fills the patch that Grandpa has carefully tended to. At this time of year, he has buttery lettuce, onions, chives, herbs and eagerly anticipates the day when he can harvest his corn again this Summer. 

Even just a morning at Grandpa and Nana's is charming and meaningful, every time. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

3,2,1 Lift Off

I happened to meet Caleb in the cafeteria today, so I got to eat dinner with him. He was definitely encouraging about my dilemma of packing for three different purposes. The basic map of my packing plan was:

1. Bag for Colorado - must be small, so it can fit in the car with wedding presents on the way back.
2. Bag for Gull Lake - one or two bags? That is the question. Must have lots of t-shirts and include costumes and everything necessary for camp.
3. Bag for Czech - do I pack for cold or hot weather? My bag can't be over 50 pounds. Maybe I'll just repack my bag from camp?

Caleb compared my packing to a space shuttle. His brain works like this - he can make the wildest connections and can explain things in ways that they totally make sense. He's like Dad in that way!

He said my bags would be like the stages of a space shuttle - once I used one jet and got to a certain point, I would have to fire off the next one, or something like that. He's the one who was just reading about space shuttles, not me, so I don't even remember the science behind it.

Either way - yes, my bags will be like bursts that get me to the next stage of my Summer. I'm not good at "big picture" thinking and wish I could've had Caleb helping me pack too (The Patty guys in general are all such expert strategic packers), but instead, I tried to organize everything so it made sense at least somewhat. Hopefully it'll all work out in the end!

I leave tomorrow for the suburbs, and Mom, Dad, Caleb and I drive to Colorado on Saturday. What a time this is! So much is going on, and I am loving it all... well, except for the packing part. But I'm done with that for right now! I get to move forward to what's next!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5 Facts

As Event and Guest services employees, we trade off working at the information desk. Today I sat with a few of the new part-timers at the desk. Throughout the morning, during the quiet moments, we chatted and got to know each other a little better.

A good way to get to know someone? Ask them for 5 random facts about themselves. I learned some really fun things today about my coworkers!

So, here are some random facts that you may not know about me:

1. I don't like eating a banana plain, "as-is". If I'm going to eat a banana straight out of the peel, it has to be with peanut butter. Otherwise, I only like bananas in things.

2. I have only broken a bone once in my life. I broke my collar bone at 3 years old. How? Caleb and I were spinning each other on an office chair that didn't have arm rests. Needless to say, having your brother spin you on a chair is super thrilling at 3, but ended up with 3-year-old Claire flying off the chair onto the ground. Lesson learned? Don't spin on chairs that are bigger than you.

3. I can't wear my hair up for too long because it makes my head hurt. Because my hair is so thick, it's also heavy and pulls on my head. That's why I wear my hair down most of the time. I've been like that since I was little too. Mom knows that I didn't like when she did my hair - for that reason! It was always painful!

4. I can eat a lot of applesauce in a day if it's available. Applesauce (especially homemade!) is one of my favorite snacks. I don't eat it all the time though because I eat enough apples a week already. Don't get me started on apples fresh off the tree - the best.

5. I actually love heights, so long as I know I'm completely safe (relatively). Zip-lines, bridges, the Eiffel Tower, mountains (but not cliffs, unless there is a guardrail between me and the drop-off!), and the likes are thrilling, in a good way!

There you go. I hope this inspires you to go make new friends! Leave a comment and let me know one or two (or five!) random facts about yourself. I'd love to hear.

(I'll share another 5 facts soon.) 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Cupcakes and Conferences

I can't say how much of a blessing it has been to work with Event and Guest Services at Moody these past two semesters. I finally feel like I know everyone and belong there, knowing my ropes around campus much better than when I started. 

My favorite part of my job by far is being a part of campus events. This week Moody is hosting Pastors' Conference, and I got to stay on campus an extra week to help out with the running of it. 

I actually do "run" around everywhere throughout the day, printing this and that, hanging signs, directing people, recording numbers, answering questions etc. I like it, even though it's exhausting! It's been fun getting to interact with a few of the pastors too, and just to realize the impact these people are having for the Kingdom. I pray that this week is encouraging and helpful to them!

In between work, we saw on Facebook that Sprinkles had a special offer of buy-one-get-one-free, so we headed over there for an afternoon pick-me-up. Brynna (my RA of next year) also works with EGS, and Michelle (on my floor) is working in another department for the Summer. It's nice to still have some friends around campus for an occasion such as this. Getting cupcakes would be no fun alone.

I have an early morning tomorrow again, so I need to get good sleep tonight! As I'm winding down for the day, a storm is rolling into the city. Thunderstorms are my favorite. I know you may not be able to see too much on this video, but at least it'll give you a little glimpse of what the view is right now. Apparently, the Sears Tower/Willis Tower is a popular place for lightning to be! Gotta love Chicago. I was listening to music while watching the lightning, and just had to share this moment, though it's not the same as in person: VIDEO

The Lord is good, powerful, and faithful!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Tyler & Lara

Now that the semester is over, a Sunday afternoon can be spent in full leisure, without any stress of homework for the week. Tyler and Lara had me and Caleb over (Haley already left for Colorado) and we cooked, lounged on the sunny porch, took photos and baked cookies. It was just a lovely day.

I hope you enjoy these photos. I love these two!

This bike is a big part of Tyler's life right now - he rides a few miles to work every day!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Dear Chicago

In less than a week, I'll be leaving Moody for the Summer*. After the wedding I'll be coming back here to stay with Tyler and Lara for a couple of days before Gull Lake, but I'll be leaving "downtown" for a few months.

I never thought I'd say this, but: I'm going to miss Chicago.

There are things that are charming to me now. Coffee shops galore. Fun foods to try. Public transportation. Always things to do. New places to explore. Walking from place to place. The flowers planted by sidewalks.

Those are things that I have come to love about this city, besides the people I've met here (and my family!). I really wasn't sure how it would be for me, coming from Czech, to be in the big city. But somehow, it's grown on me. Would I want to live here forever? No. But it's been such an adventure to be here for college. It's exciting.

It'll be good to have some contrast this Summer. I'll be in mountainous Colorado, on a lake in Michigan, and back in my cozy town of Frydlant, before I return to Chicago. It's hard to believe all that will happen!

As much as I'm excited to move on to what's in store for this Summer, I am also soaking in these last days of seeing this view from my room. It'll be good to be back in August (though I think it will be hard to leave Czech!).

*(I'll be working on campus for the week)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Karli (in Canada!) for winning the 500-post-celebration giveaway! (Rafflecopter's random winner generator chose you!)

To make it even better, I decided to choose a second winner! So....Congrats to you as well, Marcela O.! The second prize will be one of the original art illustrations, and some of my favorite teas.

Thank you to all who entered! Your comments encouraged me and brought me a lot of joy. Maybe I'll do another giveaway some day. That was too fun!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I'M DONE I'M DONE I'M DONE with my first year of college!!!!

I took my last exam of the semester (New Testament Survey) this morning! All that's left now is packing, working on campus next week (ushering for a conference), and then it's off to Colorado for the wedding!

I can't BELIEVE how fast these past two semesters have gone by. Maybe later I'll comment on how I actually feel about all of this and what I've learned. But for now, I'm just celebrating this moment. Only by the Lord's grace have I been able to have joy and peace about this past year. I don't know where I would be without Him!

To celebrate today? 

Lara and I went to see a Broadway musical! This was my first time at a Broadway show, and it didn't disappoint. A friend of mine combined a group and student discount, and we were able to get tickets to Mamma Mia! for only $17 at the Cadillac Palace Theatre. What a fun treat at the end of the semester, and a perfect "sister" thing to do. 

Then it was out to Tyler and Lara's for our last "Patty party" before Caleb and Haley get married. This has been such a good year getting to be together. I'm excited for where everyone is headed in life, and looking forward to continuing to be close to each other! 

Of course, after dinner we just had to go to the local ice-cream shop, which is like a kid's dream. Homemade mango sorbet anyone?! This place is so authentic, cultural and unique. 

What an adventure this year has been. Lots more awaits me! It's bittersweet to leave this world for the Summer, so I'm looking forward to coming back in the Fall. But I also say - bring it on, Summer!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Life in a Text

Mom: Did you blog today? Forgot to look.
Claire: No. Didn't. Not sure what to say.
Mom: Haha! Yeah..."I'm studying...and well, I'm studying, and...well, life is in transition, etc etc etc." I'm sure you could come up with something better than that!

Well Mom, you summed it up pretty well in a text! This is currently my life.

Plus, a little bit of nature appreciation, soaking in the changing seasons, enjoying last days with my friends by studying together or cooking together (made peanut butter rice pudding today!), starting to pack up my room, and getting ready for a WEDDING.

In other news, I will be spending the first half of my Summer at Gull Lake as a counselor at their family camp! I'll be a "Cove Kids" counselor - the littlest ones. I'm really excited, and ready for this challenge and adventure. After Gull Lake, I will be going HOME. A lot is happening in these next months!

Seeing as I won't have internet access at Gull Lake, except for a couple of hours on Saturdays, I won't be blogging much for those 6 weeks (starting June 6). I'll be back on when I'm done at camp, but there will be some silence on the blog for a little bit. Hang in there though - check back at the end of July for regular updates again. Just think of all that will have happened by that time!