Monday, January 23, 2012

Year of the Dragon!

Today is Chinese New Year! 2012 is the year of the Dragon! What year are you, you may ask? you can determine this by the picture I've included below:

This is only the 2nd time I've ever missed family celebration/gathering in Chinatown, NY. Every year my family travels to visit my Grandma Gong. When we get there all our cousins come over and we eat together and visit. When the dragon dances begin down below in the streets we head down with our cameras ready.

If you've never seen a Chinese New Year celebration, you should try to check one out. Especially the dragon dances. Businesses pay money to have their stalls and shops blessed at the beginning of each new year and to keep bad spirits away. The Dragons and their puppeteers slowly make their way up and down the streets, their massive and brightly colored heads jutting up into the air and then quickly ducking down again in jerky, but precise movements.

                                                     Some Dragons in action back in 2010

While they no longer allow fireworks to be set off in the middle of the streets, (for obvious reasons), they can't take away all the fun! Instead of sparklers and flames, they now have paper confetti and silly string, which in my mind is almost worst because of the clean up process those two items entail. Below are a series of photos of myself, exploding a large confetti canon.

So what did we do here in Elgin to celebrate the year of the Dragon? I made some veggie egg rolls, green beans, and rice. We ate our meal family style as always, finished the meal with some fortune cookies, and some handouts I made about each persons year/animal (we've got 3 dragons, 1 snake, 1 tiger, and 1 sheep in our house). I had also bought some paper confetti poppers for everyone, and when I bought them I had every intention of having everyone pop them. But I'll be honest, I kinda hoped everyone would forget so I wouldn't have to clean up the confetti...

To finish off this little post I wish you all a Happy Chinese New Year!!

Cat out.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Hello my friends,

It's been awhile since I've had a turn at this blogging business. I sort of skipped the last time I was assigned to write a blog post and now I'm behind again. Poor Cat, who is always the one to follow me, has to wait for me to get myself in gear before she can write her's. So I think it's time I wrote a blog for once.

 The people in this house are always changing. Whether that means new people coming in and old going out or the residents are changing on an individual level. I, personally, am no exception to this. I, like most people, can be an entirely different person from one day to the next. One day I can be the loud, silly member of the house who can't seem to stop dancing. Another day, I'll be the short tempered, bitter man who may be in need of some cheering up. And this has been the case with me for all of my life. It's not unusual. People have seasons. The spring times of our lives are a time when we develop as individuals. New characteristics will blossom and old ones will get new growth. We change, grow and become like new. In our summer times our warmth and light shine out to everyone around us. We have grown during the past season and now we thrive in our developments. Autumns of our lives are when we see a metaphorical bounty produced from within ourselves and give thanks. These are the times when you feel gracious for what you have around and in you. And then there are the winters.

I think I've been in a winter for awhile now. It's a dark time when life seems to come to a stand still. The landscape of your soul is covered in a cold, consuming entity. It looks bleak and uniform. It's easy to lose track of time since it all looks the same outside. You grew during spring and flourished during summer. You've reaped the harvest of your personal growths during autumn. And then your change seems to shrivel and die. It's easy to become disheartened when it seemed like you were growing so much and then it all comes to a screeching halt. All of the time and effort you put in and now it refuses to grow? You ask yourself if you are doing something wrong.

"Am I not nurturing my growth the way it needs?"
"Have I stopped growing entirely?"
"Will I ever develop again?"
You look on at what used to be such an awesome display of progress and see it's rotten. Your triumph of forward development now lies under the expansive, cold blanket that kills your growth. It's easy to become depressed. It's a breeze to become bitter. You will almost certainly become jaded. Winters have a tendency to drag on for longer than anyone ever wants them to. After what seems like an eternity, you resign yourself to the idea that your personal growth is long dead. You lose hope. And then you get accustomed to the cold and the dark. It was daunting at first but now it has just become mundane. It's easy to think all is lost.

 But after a long time, you aren't exactly sure how long it's been, you see something new that has grown up out of the uniform covering on your soul. It's small and it isn't impressive but it's new. You don't recognize it. You watch it and you eventually realize that it is growing. It's developing. It's changing. What is this new thing? How should you react to it? You had become reluctantly comfortable in the winter of your soul and now something is coming to change it. Eventually, the vast, cold darkness that stretches over your life begins to recede as this thing keeps growing. This new thing is scary at first. It's so different but it's also exciting. 

You come to realize that it is a new development in your life. Something external has come along to start the process of an internal change. New growth begins sprouting up within you. You do all you can to nurture this growth and under your care, it grows large and strong. It blossoms and blooms and the bitterness begins to wear away. The depression lifts. The world seems brighter. You feel happier. A warmth floods your soul and you are filled with joy. Spring has arrived and with it the wonderful promise of change. You can't tell what shape that change will look like when it has developed but you feel it is worth pursuing. Your heart is full and beauty emits from every corner of the earth. Life becomes as wonderful as it once was. 

I was in a winter for a couple of months. Nothing terribly serious, However, I was not growing. I wasn't learning anything and I was beginning to lose heart. But since last month, some thing new and wonderful has been growing inside of me. It's growing quickly and it's becoming strong. The cold darkness that had settled on my soul has melted away and only warmth radiates from me now. I feel brand new and even better than I have ever been before. It's become easy to see what a gift life is once again. Spring has settled into my soul and I am so thankful that it has finally arrived. I'm changing and I can definitely tell it's for the better. 

I'm sorry I've been absent from here for so long but I'm back, I'm refreshed and I'm ready to go. Don't worry, my friends. I'm still the same loveable character I've always been. I've just got a little extra some thing to make me even better. So goodbye, amigos. I love you all and it's good to be back. Even if you didn't know I had gone anywhere.

Wishing you peace and new growth,
Your buddy, Jeremy

Friday, January 13, 2012

This is a time of New Beginnings

Greetings Faithful Followers,

Things in the house have been crazy, we have been going in a million different directions but yet still finding time to create community, just not time to blog about it. 

Since you last heard from us, we have helped Denise celebrate her Birthday. Denise had been planning what she wanted to do for her Birthday for weeks. So when the big day (or week) came around we went out to eat, enjoyed deep dish pizza (her favorite, I guess you can't find it in Germany), and several frozen deep dish pizzas that she can enjoy when ever she chooses.  

Had a day in Chicago (this event was also kind of in celebration of Denise's Birthday). We all decided that we wanted to experience Christmas in Chicago. This included going to the Christkindlemarket, which according to Denise was almost like being home complete with chocolate, pretzels, and of course bratwurst. 

Denise had said something about wanting to see the Macy's 3-floor Christmas Tree. 

While we were in Macy's we also decided to take some pictures, which worked well in this 12 floor building. We found a secret show room. 

And we enjoyed trying out some of the beds, to many employees around to jump on them though :) Can you find each of us?

We ended our day with a crisp evening of walking through the Lincoln Park Zoo and enjoying the festive Christmas Lights (Jeremy and I enjoyed the animals also). So all in all we had a good time in the city, seeing the Christmas Season in full swing.    

 Thanks to Cat for her great pictures. 

We celebrated Christmas together and at our separate homes:
The week before we all left we had a great Christmas party with just the five of us, we also (with some help from our friends at the office) participated in a Secret Santa, which made things interesting as we hid things around the office and house for one another. 

Carol stayed in Illinois and then went to Ohio
Rachel and Cat went home to Pennsylvania
Jeremy and Denise went to Jeremy's house in California.  

With the new year also comes a new housemate. YEAH!! Welcome Kendra, who  will hopefully introduce herself to you soon. 

Blessings on the Year Ahead, Carol.