How we did a Grand Canyon trip in only 24 hours

Cody and I recently traveled to the Phoenix area for a conference.  We figured if we were traveling all that way, we may as well do a Grand Canyon trip, a place we had both wanted to see for a very long time.  The problem was that we landed at 9 AM Wednesday and needed to be back in Phoenix by Thursday night so we could be up for Sunrise Yoga on Friday!

If you know us, I’m sure you’re already assuming that my spreadsheet skills (#OsegardsTakeDisney2017) are what got us through a successful Grand Canyon trip in 24 hours, but the credit all goes to Cody! He planned the whole trip while I was too stressed finishing up teaching. He did a great job too!

Grand Canyon trip part 1 – Wednesday 

We landed bright and early (after an even EARLIER flight) and picked up a rental car. We hopped on the road and drove the four hours from the airport to the Grand Canyon National Park, with a quick pit stop for some travel snacks and lunch!

Grand Canyon Trip - Mather Point ViewOur first stop was the Grand Canyon Visitors center.  We went to the building first, and honestly we were underwhelmed.  It was crowded and touristy, and there was not enough water to go around, but luckily, Cody had a plan.  We made the quick walk over to Mather Point – which is sort of “the view” of the Grand Canyon. It was an amazing view, but it was so full of tourists and people who wanted to SEE the Grand Canyon and not EXPERIENCE the Grand Canyon.  Mather Point gave us some amazing views, but it was only worth a quick stop!

Next we explored the Grand Canyon village a little bit in search for some wifi to get a little bit of work done. We stopped for an hour to stretch and work at El Tovar hotel. The trek there took us through a lot of construction and plenty of tourist activities in a quaint looking village. While it might be a fun stop for families, it was not our cup of tea, so we traveled on.

Grand Canyon Trip Part 2 – Journey around the Canyon

Grand Canyon Trip - Pulling off to photograph another view!The next stop on our journey was a two and a half hour trek up the east side of the Grand Canyon/outside part of Navajo Nation. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip, because the views were spectacular.  It seemed like every 10 miles or so was another place to pull off the road and check out the views. It was totally worth slowing down our trip to stop for a view times.

Grand Canyon Trip - View out the hotel window...

Cody had hunted for a place for us to stay Wednesday night.  Being such an amazing place, the Grand Canyon and surrounding areas have high demand for lodging, and not as many options as you would think.  We were going to be out in the heat all day Wednesday and Thursday, so we really weren’t picky about high-class lodging. Most places were running $200+/night in the area, but Cody was able to snag us a great little place in Marble Canyon for $96.  Admittedly, it was not the fanciest place we’ve ever stayed, but the views were unbeatable.

Grand Canyon Trip Part 3 -Thursday

We asked the locals where the best use of our time on Thursday would be.  They suggested traveling towards Cathedral Wash Trailway, so off we headed!  Grand Canyon Trip - Glen Canyon Balanced RockWith our body clocks still on central time, we got on the road by 7 am before it got too hot!  We noticed on our map that Balanced Rock was right by the hike, so we stopped there first to grab some pictures.

Grand Canyon Trip - Glen Canyon Cathedral Wash Hike

Being up so early meant we had our adventures to ourselves!  We took the Cathedral Wash lower trail, which meant hiking down into the canyon!  It was AMAZING. The hike is a Moderate 3 rating hike (out of 5). Most of it was pretty awesome, except I chickened out towards the end by a big 30 ft drop. Cody for sure would have gone the rest of the way, but I’m a chicken!  We made it really close though, and we didn’t see a single person for our entire hike. It was incredible.

From there, we drove to another touristy area north of Page. The hope was to swim at the Coves on Lake Powell, but the area was closed.  So, we stopped by the beach area down the road for a hot second to cool off instead.  The water was crystal clear and again, the views were stunning!Grand Canyon Trip - Lake Powell

Grand Canyon Trip Part 4 – The Journey Back

It was time to head back to the Phoenix area, so we hit the road yet.  The road out of Page passes right by Horseshoe Bend. It was an incredible touristy location, but a quick ¾ mile hike takes you to the most stunning view of the Canyon where the river makes practically a 360 degree turn.  It was a windy area and there are no safety barriers in place, so you for sure have to make smart choices, but as you can see from the pictures – it was worth it!Grand Canyon Trip - Horseshoe Bend

After putting over 900 miles on our rental car, we wrapped up our roadtrip sprint  in under 24 hours!  The Grand Canyon was absolutely stunning and we will for sure be back again someday!

How to Refinish Furniture – A Beginners Guide

Hey all, Cody here! I recently decided that it was time to upgrade my home office setup, and began looking for a desk to refinish. As anybody close to me knows, I find a profound sense of satisfaction when I can get something that I need for free or dirt cheap. And so the hunting begins!

Furniture with Good Bones

As I browsed around Craigslist, Facebook for-sale groups, and secondhand stores, there was one thing that really drove my search. Since I didn’t want to spend a lot of money, whatever I ended up with was going to need a little bit of love. Easily 90% or more of the furniture I saw was made of laminated or painted particle board – which essentially means that it can’t be “fixed” or changed. I needed something with good bones that would stand up to a little work and refinishing.

I really didn’t have a particular style in mind, but I definitely was looking for a smaller, sleeker desk. I work 100% on my computer for my job, and knew I needed space for my 2-3 monitor setup. Yes, I’m the guy that has the starship Enterprise command center sitting in his office. I need the screen real estate though, so I can deal with fitting the nerdy computer programmer stereotype a bit!

The Desk (Before Refinish)

The desk I ended up choosing was a free find on Craigslist, from a family moving out of town. The top was fairly beat up, with some deep gouges, but it was structurally sound and made completely of solid wood and had good quality hardware holding it together. I was so happy to see that I would actually be able to disassemble the desk a bit, and not have to worry about stapling or gluing things back together! That eased one of my biggest concerns, which was that I would completely take apart the desk, refinish it and love the look, but FAIL to put it back together…

The Plan

I didn’t fully know what I was getting myself into when I bought this desk, to be completely honest. I knew that I wanted to at least make it look less beat up, but I didn’t know what that would mean for sure.

Beat Up Desk (Before Refinish)I started off buying a matching stain and a pack of sandpaper, thinking that the most reasonable thing to do was to clean up the top and simply re-stain it to match the existing color on the rest of the desk. Simple right?

I sanded down the desktop only to decide that the natural woodgrain was too pretty to cover up with such a dark stain… So what do I decide to do? I’ll just refinish the entire desk, no sweat right? I’ve seen people do this on HGTV shows and it just looks so simple! I decided to scrap the plan of fixing the top, and opt for the complete overhaul method. Dusty and Disassembled Desk (During Refinish)I drive back to Home Depot and grab some matte-finish Poly for the top and to seal the whole desk. I also get a small paint roller with a dense foam roller to use with a can of grey paint we already had here at our place from when we (somewhat foolishly) decided to repaint an entire 1600 sq ft townhouse before settling in… But that’s a different story!

The Process

Who would have thought that sanding down an entire desk would take more than 5 or 10 minutes? After probably 3 hours of sanding (by hand, mind you, because I was NOT about to invest in an electric sander if I didn’t know this was going to turn out!), I was ready to start finishing the desk. After some googling, I found what I thought was the best plan to follow. For the bottom of the desk, which I wanted solid grey, I would:

  • Sand until smooth
  • Paint the areas I wouldn’t be able to reach with a roller
  • Roll  a layer of paint on the entire frame
  • Let it dry (at least 2-3 hours with fans blowing to help)
  • Sand, and repeat!

For the top, I just sanded until smooth and then sealed with 4 (yes, FOUR) coats of the matte Polyurethane. It took about an hour to dry between coats, and I didn’t sand since the poly soaks right in and doesn’t clump up like the paint sometimes can.

The Results!

Refinished Desk with Computer

Refinished Desk View 2

Refinished Desk Close-UpI am SO happy with how the desk turned out! I have been using it now for a few weeks, and it is working so well. I have plenty of desk space for my computer and dual monitors (yes, I’ve added a third screen to the mix now that I have the space for it!). Overall, I think the project went very smoothly, and turned out much better than I expected. I have already started thinking about what to do next, and am hoping to find a nice solid wood dresser for cheap or free, and refinish that next. What kinds of projects have you worked on? What tips and tricks would you share to make refinishing fun and easy?

A new chapter in my career (why I’m retiring from teaching at age 25)

Growing up, I always had two main ambitions: I wanted to teach and I wanted to have an amazing family.  Those were my goals. Now, here I am at 25 – leaving my teaching job and with no immediate plans to start a family.  Yet, I’m perfectly content.

Don’t worry, I’m not abandoning these lifelong goals, it’s just that they have grown and changed over the years! When I started college, my world changed, along with my goals. I especially wanted to travel. When Cody and I met, I realized that one of my new goals was to prioritize time together as much as possible. On top of all of that, I’ve always found joy in volunteering and helping, so I’ve wanted to make time for that.

Born to teach

All in all, teaching was a perfect fit for me and for my goals.  It was something I clearly had a gift for.   I had summers “off” where I could travel.  I was done working by 4 (often by 1 as a part time employee) , so I had more time with my husband.  Helping and teaching are practically synonymous in a preschool classroom.  Teaching checked all the boxes.  Or so I thought.

The toll of teaching

As an introvert, teaching is exhausting. August through May, I finish up at school and feel too tired to do anything but recharge.  I don’t explore my hobbies, I don’t spend quality time with my husband, and I’m always bordering on physical and mental exhaustion.  Starting in my first year teaching I explored other career options, even though I KNEW I was born to teach.

God has been showing me that there are other situations outside of the classroom that truly allow me to pursue my goals and dreams, and use the gifts He’s given me.  Once I began to understand that, I knew what I needed to do.  I announced that I would not be returning to teaching in the fall.

Well, what’s the plan?

I will be taking on my current side gig as an Executive Assistant for an incredible health and fitness coach/blogger/all around amazing friend  as my main gig.  This job has been a perfect fit for me since day one.  I get to help people and teach people in new ways.  It is something that I could potentially do when we have kids someday (and still have energy for them and for my husband).   It already allows me to travel and explore. I get to go to conferences in the area, will be going to Indianapolis in the summer, and have other trips on the horizon as well!  Beyond that, Cody and I get to go to Phoenix for a training, and we will have the flexibility to go on an anniversary getaway as well!

My new chapter

The most important part is that I already feel like a new person.  Throughout March and April of this year I was EXHAUSTED.  I was sleeping 8-10 hours every night and still feeling too tired to do anything (including workout, which did not help my anxious, overwhelmed self). I would work 12 hours most days and fill the rest of my time with de-stressing baths and Netflix.

Since I finished my lesson plans and big obligations for the year, I am sleeping only 6-8 hours a night, but wake up feeling recharged.  I’ve had time to start thinking about my hobbies again.  Cody and I get to spend actual quality time together that isn’t me just trying to survive.  My new job isn’t necessarily always within the “normal” business hours, but I don’t feel the stress of work following me home the same way I did with teaching.

I still believe God is calling me to teach, and I will continue to do so at church and hopefully in some aspects of my new job as well.  This is a direction I never saw my life going, but I am SO thankful that I’m right here, right now!

Grief and Growing Up

I (Alyssa) have a dead brother.

It’s a fact about me – but not really an icebreaker, “get to know you” type of fact, so not a lot of people in my life now know this. It’s been a weird change for me.  In December, we passed what would have been Grady’s 21st birthday. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and how much my life has changed since he left this earth 16 years ago, even just in the way I handle missing my lil’ bro. 

Grady passed away on April 23, 2002 from cancer (a brain tumor).  He was five years old.  I was a quiet, little, nine-year-old in fourth grade. My world was completely rocked, and everyone around me was affected too. The school guidance counselor talked to my class (and if I remember correctly, possibly the whole fourth grade. . .), the funeral was at my church, and obviously my family knew.  Everyone around me was aware.  I loved it and hated it.  It was nice because people just KNEW; I didn’t have to tell them.  On the other hand, it was overwhelming hearing cliches like “sorry for your loss” 2348579382 times (which led to a handful of emotional suppression issues, but that’s a talk for another time).

Over the next few years, almost a decade even, it was nice.  All I had to say was “April 23rd is this week” and the people around me knew that was the anniversary of my brother’s death, so if I was a little crabby or just a little off – that’s why! It was nice to have the ability to not have to talk about it if I didn’t want to.  My family always stayed home that day and ate Grady’s favorite foods (a seriously disgusting meal, but it became tradition).  It was nice that everyone in my life had some sort of connection to or knowledge of Grady still.

As the years went on, my other brother, Logan, and I grew up, and it became harder to miss school and a little easier to manage life on the 23rd.  I still had friends in my life who would support me through the day, and people who remembered the date without me mentioning itgpl2.  It was freeing for me to go back to school on the 23rd.  I needed to know that life could go back to “normal” on that day.  We still ate that gross meal of Grady’s favorites together as a family and remembered Grady.

College wasn’t much different as I was either home on break or on tour with a choir basically every year.  I didn’t much like being on a plane for 8 hours on the 23rd my senior year, but it was doable, and I was always with family or with really close friends.

It’s strange now though.  No one around me really knows about Grady.  If I mention April 23rd, it has no meaning to anyone around me.  In a way, it’s nice because some people are awkward around me on that day, and I don’t have to deal with that aspect anymore.  But on the other hand, it’s weird not having someone in my life who will be with me all day who knows what I’m going through and can give me encouraging smiles and pep talks throughout the day.  I have Cody, but even he doesn’t have a connection to Grady.  He asked me what I want to do Thursday, and I didn’t have an answer for him.  I think I want to start my own tradition in his memory, but I don’t know what, because everything is so different now.

Now that I’m off in the adult world, I’ve passed a lot of the milestones I dreaded growing up.  Learning to drive without my brother.  Graduating high school. Having another brother to pick on my boyfriends. Graduating college. Getting married.  At every milestone my heart has ached to have Grady there, but I’ve made it through, and I know that I will find a way to celebrate his life even when I don’t have my childhood friends and family here with me!  In a way, I’m excited to see what traditions I can begin with Cody and which ones I can carry on from the past 16 years!

Emotional Eating: It’s time to overcome!

I am an Emotional Eater. It’s something I have really noticed about myself recently, but I know it’s something I have done most of my life.  Mayo clinic defines emotional eating as “. . . eating as a way to suppress or soothe negative emotions, such as stress, anger, fear, boredom, sadness and loneliness.”  I eat when I’m hungry, when I’m stressed, when I’m lonely, when I’m sad, but most often I call it a reward.

We paid off all our debt? Celebrate with food!
I had a stressful day at school? I deserve to relax and just order a pizza.
Cody is gone all week for rehearsals?  Hey, I kept the house running, time for ice cream!

I also justify my eating because of my cravings.  For years I have gotten CRAZY INTENSE cravings.  We’re talking basically pregnancy cravings without the pregnancy.  I get so fixated on whatever food it is that I can NOT stop thinking about it.  Cody has made many late night trips to the grocery store just to get me to shut up. (Thanks, babe).

Where my emotional eating stems from

I never thought anything of it, mostly because I feel that so much of life is spent around the table. Family gatherings, time with friends, big events – we spend them all around the table!  I don’t think that is necessarily a problem on its own, but I think it made it harder for me to see my emotional eating as more than a physical issue, but as a spiritual issue, too.

In fact, emotional eating seemed to be reinforced not only in general life events but in events in the church.

Celebrating Christ’s birth or resurrection? Time to stuff yourself with a big feast!
Funeral? It’s a sad time, let’s give you a ton of comfort foods!
Church gathering? Can anyone say casseroles, rolls, and jello salads? These are basically the entire reason that they even build churches with basements.

Looking back at my life, I think that on a subconscious level, these events and experiences around food taught me that when we are sick, sad, happy, or feeling ANYTHING at all, stuffing yourself with comfort foods is the way to go.

The spiritual side of emotional eating

I had always heard that God wanted me to treat my body like a temple, but I always associated the temple with church and my church experience with casseroles galore. I never really saw the problem, but when I think about the context of the early temples in the Bible, it sheds a whole new light to the idea.

The first we hear of a temple in the Bible was Solomon’s temple. He built it with the finest of materials, including overlaying the whole place with gold.  The most important function was to house the ark of the covenant, and the temple was the most sacred place, dedicated to the Lord.

In 1 Kings 9, the Lord tells Solomon that as long as he “walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness,” the temple will remain. But if he or his descendants “turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods,” the temple will turn to rubble.

Think about the metaphor there. The literal, actual temple would remain standing as long as Solomon was putting God first.  If he turned away from God, the physical temple would TURN TO RUBBLE.  If I am supposed to treat my body like a temple, I need start by taking the amazing care that Solomon shows. The temple is not a dumping ground for anything and everything that looks good at the time. It is not built quickly, it is not built with cost or effort as an object. What would the first temple have been if Solomon had just decided to build it from mud and sticks, because that was easier or faster? Why cover the whole place in gold and waste all that money? Yellow paint should do the trick, right?

These things seem so simple as we look at scripture, and the decisions are clear to see. If God instructed me the way he did Solomon, the decisions I make that affect my body would be simple! Well that’s EXACTLY what I’m learning he has done. It may not be specific guidelines of “eat this, do this, don’t do this,” but it does address what for me is the root of my emotional eating. When I eat because of the emotions I’m feeling, I’m turning to food to satisfy when I should be turning to God.

1Peter 2:2 Tells us that what would should crave is “pure spiritual milk”.  We are designed to crave, but what we ought to be craving is Jesus instead of junk food.

Next steps to overcoming emotional eating

Now I have the head knowledge.  I understand that I am an emotional eater and that physically AND spiritually this is not good for me. What I am working on is putting it all into practice.  It is hard to undo years and years of poor emotional eating habits!   Here are some of the steps I am taking:

  • I am in an emotional eating support group right now. Here, I am learning to overcome emotional eating with help from other people who are further along in the process than me and by sharing stories with people who are in the same place as me.
  • I am preparing myself for a NEW program coming out next month called the 2B Mindset that addresses weight loss and healthy eating not from a starvation or calorie-counting standpoint, but purely from the mindset. (ps. I’d love to help get you set up with this program if you’d like!)
  • When I want a reward for something, I try to either find a non-food option or go for a food that will properly fuel my body!
  • I am working on my relationship with God and learning day by day to crave HIM above anything else!

I know I have a long way to go, and this struggle is going to take more than a couple days of attention in my life.  However, I know I CAN overcome it with the help of my community and my God.  If you are interested in joining a community that will help you overcome emotional eating, please reach out to me at [email protected]. I would LOVE to chat and hear your story!

Drowning in Debt (Part 1)

It was late 2014 – a big year for us full of college graduation, starting new jobs, getting married, moving to a new state, and more.   As crazy as it sounds, all of that was relatively low stress for us. In fact, we found those changes to be pretty easy to adjust to.  What threw us for a loop that year was the realization that we had to start paying back our student loan debt.

What we were facing:

  • 16 loans
  • $97,935 of loans that had grown to over $110,000
  • Interest rates of 3.5% – 12%.
  • Monthly payments of $1200 (more than I made in a month at the time)

I was sick to my stomach looking at all of this.  It was so stressful to see the numbers and to know that at our minimum payments we would be paying til at least 2024. Instantly we realized that our finances were not in good shape.  We made some changes like cutting some of our spending, getting ridiculously good at meal planning to cut grocery bills, and more, but we knew we needed help.

Someone mentioned Dave Ramsey to us, so we did some digging and found out that January 2015, there was a couple from our church who was leading a class called Financial Peace University.  It made me nervous to spend $100 to take this class, but it was our last ditch effort to find a way to get through the next decade that would likely bring more than insane debt payments, but hopefully some travel, buying a house, and starting a family.

Paying off debt seemed impossible

We started the class in January of 2015 with a “we’re so broke” mindset. We figured that we would probably have to move to a studio apartment, eat nothing but ramen, and never do ANYTHING fun for the next ten years.  During the nine week class, we realized some things we were doing a little backwards.  They taught us how to stay on track with our debt.  We learned that it would be possible to get out of debt sooner if we were truly focused, and we set some goals.  We learned that we could afford to stay in our apartment, and even travel some if we wanted.

Our goals set during the nine weeks were:

Our 8-10 year financial goals when we took FPU in 2015.

1) Pay off all debt by Christmas 2022.
2) Take a vacation at least once a year.
3) Have an emergency fund with 3 months worth of expenses.
4) Increase retirement savings to 15%.
5) Start saving for a car/house.

We set some big goals that we thought we would try to tackle over the next eight-ten years. We learned a lot!! The real question was whether or not we could maintain the intensity we had for the long run!  Only time would tell!

We’d love to have you follow our debt-free journey and connect with us here as you wait for Part 2 (coming soon)!   If you want to read more about our financial journey and experiences, you can do so here!

Remembering the Why

Why exercise? Why eat healthy? Why stick to a schedule, do my devotions, or wake up early? I always say that I do these things so I can be the happiest, healthiest version of myself, and to set a good example for our future children.

Last week I lost sight of my why.

Cody has been in a show and is out late rehearsing.  I want to see him, so I stay up late too.  Staying up late makes it hard to get up in the morning, so I sleep in.  When I sleep in, I miss my workout.  Missing my workout has three negative consequences: I justify not following my timed nutrition meal plan, I sleep through my devotion time, and I leave the house feeling rushed. When I feel rushed, I am not as focused.  When I’m not as focused, I’m not as productive. When I’m not as productive it is so much easier to go through the drive-through. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves me feeling worse about my decisions and behind on life.

That was my week last week.  Add to that an imbalance of hormones not just from PMS but from not treating my body well, PLUS a very emotional (highs and lows) week. . . .well, you can imagine how fun I was to be around!

My anxiety was higher than it has been in a long time.  I didn’t feel as confident.  I just felt like I was in a fog all day, every day.

Time to Reset

This week, I am back at it.  Will I be perfect? Doubtful. Am I going to beat myself up for slipping behind last week? Absolutely NOT! If I expect perfection in everything I do all the time, I am bound to be disappointed. But I am going to try my best to give attention to myself through exercise, rest, time with God, healthy food, and more! I don’t want to fall off the wagon again, and sometimes it takes a little misstep to remind us of our “why”s!

Financial Peace University Recap (2018)

We had the opportunity to lead a Financial Peace University class at our church.  We first took the class ourselves in January of 2015 and have led it in some capacity four times since! These principles truly work, and it’s amazing to see what happens when you manage money God’s way!

What we tracked

A sweet note left by one of the participants!

The Financial Peace University class is nine weeks long.  On week two, participants turn in an anonymous “financial reality check” that has them look at their non-mortgage debt, readily-available cash, and number of credit card accounts open. These numbers get tallied up and provide a big snapshot of where the class is at. At the end of the nine weeks, they fill out a similar card that asks how much on-mortgage debt they paid off, how much additional cash they saved, and the number of credit cards they cut up.

The Results

We had about 120 participants stick through the nine weeks of Financial Peace University, and their results are astounding! Total debt paid was $244,388.53 (that’s $3759.82 per household).
Total money saved was $130,859.84. Not only that, but o
ur group cut up 160 credit cards – that’s 2.5 per household!!

Stack of final Reality Check Cards!

Stack of final Reality Check Cards!

BONKERS, you guys. Seriously bonkers.  God is doing a mighty work through FPU.

This round has been an especially fun round for us, and the people who attended have really stepped up to the challenge. As a whole, this group has been so committed to truly making a change and being bold in how they manage their finances. It is so inspiring to see so many people in all different walks of life take ownership of their situations, whatever they are, and feel empowered to change them for the better. Not because they want more money or want to be rich, but because they understand that this is God’s money. He created everything, and everything belongs to him. He has entrusted us with some of His resources, and we are to manage those resources the best that we can.

We are so excited to see the continued growth that this group of FPU graduates will have as they continue walking through life following the simple principles laid out by Dave. With the huge changes seen in the span of just this nine-week course, can you imagine what these people will be doing in a year? 5 years? 30 years? What kind of positive impact can we as people and Christians have on the world around us when we are out of debt, financially sound, and able to give generously to those who need it? Wow. Just wow.

Celebratory cake - the last credit card we had to cut up!

Celebratory cake – the last credit card we had to cut up!

Strange things about Minnesotans

I’ve been in Minnesota for three years now, and I love it.  But I’m an Iowa girl at heart, so I can’t help but notice some of the strange things about Minnesotans.

1) It’s MinnesOta not MinnesoTA.


Minnesotans are proud of their accents. You betcha. But crack a joke about basically living in Canada? Don’t you dare!

2) Everything I once called a casserole is now a hot dish.


If it isn’t made in a specifically designated casserole dish, it is a hot dish. Apparently.

3) Forget Duck, Duck, Goose. Now we play Duck, Duck, Grey Duck.


My husband says the “fun” in this is that you can now trick people by saying “Duck, Duck, GREEN duck” or something equally absurd.

4) You must be a Vikings fan, unless you live almost on the border of Wisconsin, in which case rooting for the Packers is acceptable.


Not that I’m a big sports fan in general, but I miss in-state rivalries.  Iowa vs Iowa State is WAY more exciting than being expected to root for your state!

5) Topic #1 in conversation is traffic.


How was your drive? Did you take 494? How is 52 today? You live in Town A . . . isn’t that about a 12 minute drive? When I was new around here, I didn’t have the faintest idea which way is the best way to get from point A to Point B.  Nor do I care if 52 is a little backed up heading south today.  Maybe it’s a big city thing.

6) Minnesotans hate Iowa.


Hate it I tell you. Just don’t remind anyone that Okoboji is in Iowa.  They like Okoboji.

7) Living here takes the fun out of the Mall of America. runaway

I just laugh, because I remember being super jealous of friends who made weekend trips to the mall, and now that I live here, we avoid it like the plague most of the time.

8) All of the sports teams here are pretty much awful most of the time, but they are still die-hard fans.


This one I understand. I’m a Cubs fan (just please don’t tell the Minnesotans that!), so I’ve lived through a lot of losses. Also, thank the Good Lord that we live close enough to the border that it’s okay to root on the Packers (Go Pack Go!)

9) Goodbyes take forever.


I don’t know why, but it seems that when you say goodbye to someone the first time, it means another 10-20 minutes before you ACTUALLY part ways.  If you have the chance to leave at the first goodbye TAKE IT IMMEDIATELY or you will never leave.

10) I’m so excited to stay here!!


Minnesota has it’s quirks, but I absolutely love it!

A letter to my students

Dear Students,

I remember the first time I met you.  You came in to meet your teachers and get your pictures taken.  I tried my best to greet you by name and meet you at your level.  You hid behind your parents (and some of you even cried).

We’re halfway through the school year now, and everything is different.  I get to hear all about your family and your friends.  You show me your owies and tell me about the fun things you do with your family.  No longer are you “scared-to-even-look-at-me”. Instead, you know how to make me laugh and even how to push my buttons.

You think that I live at school.  I’ll be honest, sometimes it feels that way. I leave school and I worry about you.  I spend my free time planning the best ways to teach you and help you. My job is not a “leave it at work” sort of job.

The work of a teacher often feels never ending, but I know our time together is short – only a few years at most!  I have so much I want to impart on you in that short time.

I want you to know that:

-School is a safe place.  The staff and faculty will always put your safety first.  There are people out there who make bad choices, but we will ALWAYS do our best to keep you safe.

-Learning is fun.  There will be tough days and things that don’t click for you as well, but as long as you enjoy learning, you will continue to grow as a person.

-You are more than labels. I don’t care that you have a reputation at this age for being quiet, or sweet, or stubborn, or naughty. . . you are just who God made you to be – unique and wonderful. And I know that.

-Your worth is not measured by your accomplishments or by your reputation.  Your worth comes from God, and that kind of worth is beyond measure. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

-People will be mean.  It’s a part of life.  Learn to forgive people who are mean to you, and to both ask for forgiveness and forgive yourself when you hurt others.

-You made an impact on me. We may have only spent an hour a week together, but I thought about you and prayed for you a lot.  I spent most of my free time thinking about how to help you enjoy school and to find ways to make the most of our short time together.

Finally, I want you to know that Jesus loves you.

I have had the opportunity to teach you in a Christian school, but many of you will not have a place to learn about or express your faith after Pre-K.  I hope that I can show you God’s love, and that you can take that love and let it grow into a love and kindness for everyone you meet.

You are wonderful and you matter. Don’t ever forget it.

-Mrs. Osegard