Money (insert Beetles tune here)

Having finished the first draft of my National Honor Society essay on character (it's about two lines too long so that's why it's a first draft), I realized how important money has become in my life.

I used to think that the economy hasn't affected my family that much money wise. Before the crash we drove two Toyotas, didn't eat out a whole lot and enjoyed an existance that was definitely middle class. Most of that was by choice - we could have stayed in Germany and been upper-middle class but that came at a cost - being away from my sister in college.

Paying for Maggie's college meant we were a little more frugal - we didn't go out to dinner quite as much - and it was important for her to keep up her grades for the scholarship.

Four years later with my sister teaching in China and my senior year of high school, I can definitely tell a change has come about in our way of life.

I lost about 20% (give or take) of my college savings fund due to the stock market. Iowa College Savings Plan has the money I recieved from my grandmother's inheritance and the money my father puts in every paycheck and part of that is in the stock exchange. Needless to say, when it tanked, so did my savings.

However, I'm up to a respectable $31,000 in my fund with a special bond from a family member to only be used for college.

Looking for colleges I was pressed with the idea we had to be able to afford it. This caused some major stress so I was happy when I was guarenteed (even before admittance) $12,500 at Carroll University. It meant that college would not be as much of a financial burden on my parents.

And yet, I can still see the stress. We never go out to eat anymore and leftover night has become common. My mom has been cooking less meat (probably healthier for us) and loads more chicken. She's a coupon-aholic and shops around for the best deals. In many ways this is good for my family. We save money and live healthier. But it comes at a cost.

It comes at the cost that I have to wait for payday to ask for anything - even something as simple as a binder for school or ink for the printer. It comes at the cost that I have to buy my own clothes now because I know we can't necessarily afford my new taste in Gap.

And yet, these aren't things that bother me as much as some things. The biggest thing that bothers me about money is how my mom talks about it. She argues if the insurance company overcharges her $10 or if the morgage doesn't realize that she sent two payments instead of one. Things my mom would never take advantage of before have been taken advantage of. Like the Dollar Store. I know that dollar store vitamins have been studied for not having the right nutrients and actually occasionally being dangerous. But I now have dollar store vitamins.

I don't mind that - as long as I stay safe. But I hate hearing constantly about money. We don't have any more expenses than we did before the economy tanked. My sister's college money is now going into my account and I still get the same amount of allowance. If anything, we're actually doing better because the bonuses are better. But it constantly is brought up. I honestly dislike it. I would rather be oblivious to our financial situation than know what I know now because of Mom's commenting.

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The Definition of Failure

There is no failure except in no longer trying. ~ Elbert Hubbard

Mishaps are like knives, that either serve us or cut us, as we grasp them by the blade or the handle. ~ James Russell Lowell

If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down. ~ Mary Pickford

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.

I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. ~ Both by Thomas Edison

There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them. ~ Tom Krause

Lastly, Webster defines failure as "a lack of success" and "a falling short."

Knowing what all these people say about failure I think sometimes school has it wrong. True, there are people who don't try and therefore, they fail. And then there are those, like me with my AP Spanish, that try and fail.

Failure is never fatal. It's an interesting concept that I don't think many people think about how it could be misconstrued. Failure in a class can result in a low GPA which affects everything from college admissions, to college scholarships, to job prospects later on in life. Failure also knocks confidence down.

I am dropping my AP Spanish class that's online. Yes, I am failing it. And yes, it can be seen as a personal failure because I'm quitting it. But I'm not quitting Spanish. I'm just quitting this class that I cannot learn from. I do not learn a foreign language through the internet. That is not my learning style.

So failure... is whatever we make it out to be. For me it isn't dropping out of this class, but instead, it would be staying in the class because I am doing myself no service to stay in.

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I'm finding out...

This week has been insane for me. And this upcoming week won't be much better.

This week has been hard for me - I failed a Spanish test that I really needed to ace to help my grade. I miss my sister in China and December can't come soon enough for that reason.

I'm finding out a friend's relationship with her boyfriend of almost two years is crumbling and neither will admit it.
I'm finding out that I really want to ask this guy to Homecoming but I'm scarred from two previous asking experiences.
I'm finding out that getting accepted to college may make your self confidence soar for a few days but then reality reminds you that life sucks.
I'm finding out that my friends on a writing community I'm involved in are ignoring me, maybe on purpose, but probably not, and so inevitably I feel alone.
I'm finding that cross country is not getting easier.
I'm finding out that when I ask a question on Yahoo Answers people think my novel is "just another cancer/ My Sister's Keeper novel."
I'm finding out that when I'm going 5 miles under the speed limit people like to tailgate me.

I'm finding that I love a church that accepts everyone.

I'm also finding out that this week I have two meets, two team dinners (one's a picnic) and another Spanish test.

Sometimes finding things out isn't all that fun.

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Cross Country

I had one of the two farthest away meets last night at Cedar Rapids Jefferson - Noelridge Park. It was a nice course though a bit boring and lackluster in the hill department (our girls didn't mind the second problem). When we got there it was my job to stand at the two-mile mark and take splits. Taking splits becomes a little competitive to see who can yell over everyone else but that's not important.

The two mile mark was between four baseball fields with a football field in the middle - weird I know. But from where I sat underneath a tree I got to see a junior high football game, baseball practice, and my absolute favorite - rugby practice. I mean, honestly, how many times a week do you get to watch rugby practice if you aren't in some place where you sing "God Save the Queen" as your national anthem?

Another plus of being a timer is seeing all the girls. I see the good, I see the bad and I see the ugly. I see people trip over the only big hill. And then comes the best part - cheering them on. It's one thing to cheer my girls on. That's easy. But a girl was running Fresh-Soph from Iowa City High and she was really struggling. I smiled at her and told her "Good job! You're almost there!" (In Iowa girls run 2.5 miles.) She looked up at me and smiled hugely. "Thanks!"

And despite the fact that I could be happy about so many other things, having just come out of a really horrendous school day, it made my day.

On the bus back, watching the headlights pass us as we went along I-80, I sat next to our home-schooled girl Katie. And I found somebody I like to talk to and wish I had started talking to her earlier this season.

It's a great experience - cross country. And I only wish I had done it all four years. (Well, for the people - of course not for the running!)

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I have been driving myself for about a week now I would say. It's not scary at all although I still dislike parking (I park like a German) and I absolutely hate going twenty-five on Iowa Street. It's sooo slow!

But now, to get away from sounding like a whiney two year old, I'll change the subject slightly. Today I drove to practice after dropping Mom off at home and then went to team dinner (super yummy) before leaving for home. On the way home the radio was playing one of my favorite songs so I turned it up and just taped along, lipsynching like nothing else mattered. It was fun and I felt like a teenager just having fun.

I'm not quiet completely insured yet, but tomorrow I will be. And then due to a business trip to Indianapolis, I have the car all to myself. I can go to whatever church I want, I can go to the mall if I want. I can reset all the presets on the radio (Okay, not really but...) and I can just be me.

I'm not ready for the responsibility of being a full-time driver but I'm realizing I like driving. I like the freedom and I like that I can sing in the car and there's nobody to look at me weird.

What do you think? Driving fun or a horror?

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Being a Senior

First off, let me start out with an obnoxious cheer.


This is what we call the "Mr. Denner cheer." Mr. Denner, my eighth grade American Issues teacher and my Honors U.S. History teacher, has been teaching at my school for 30 years. And that's been his cheer for thirty years. When he retires nobody will be able to beat him. Honestly. And he's also the "Voice of the Lancers" because he runs all of our pep auds and announces all the home sporting events. He's got the perfect voice for it and he gets excited easily. He's a great guy.

Today was the first pep aud of the year, ironically enough, in the Pit, home of the Lancers. It was the first time I could officially sit on the senior side and even though I didn't have anyone to sit with because all my friends were in band, I felt exilerated. I was a senior! Little things have started to make it sink in like getting accepted to college or realizing that I can walk around without a pass and there's not a teacher that's going to stop me. (Well, except Mr. Hawley.) I have influence over the freshman and I can be a role model to those who need one.

All those things have been driving home the fact I'm a senior ( realization that graduation is in nine months will come later...) but the one thing that really did it was today at the pep aud. I cheered, I clapped and I sang to the fight song not caring what anyone else said. I was a senior and for that moment, despite not liking Iowa and so ready to get out of it, I was an Iowa teenager. And I loved every second of it.

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Acceptance number 1!

My family and I were sitting down to work out when my dad was going to take his days off for the rest of the year when I decided, on a whim, to check my email on my iPod. Lo and behold I had an email from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

I had been accepted!

And not only had I been accepted, but I had been giving $13,000 in scholarships. $12,500 for being in the top ten percent of my class and having an ACT score of 28 and then $500 for a Leadership scholarship.

So I immediately told my parents but then I wanted to tell my sister who is in China. I didn't want to tell anyone else until I told her. She's my other half, my amazing sister so I checked if she was on Skype. Half an hour later we were done talking and I still couldn't peel myself off the ceiling. I think I'm still up there.

I'm still going to apply for a history scholarship since I think that's going to be my double major second major (writing, of course, being my first). We'll see how that goes.

But yay! I have one college that wants me! Farmington, now it's your turn to tell me you love me or some sort like that.

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