Home is Where the Heart Is

Home is Where the Heart Is

Certain places can make you feel just as much as certain people can.
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This past weekend, my boyfriend and I made a short trip to his family's farm in Ravenden Springs, Arkansas. Before making this trip, he had described this place as nothing but amazing. Being from a small town in Illinois, I was excited to see what this place was really like. I've always loved the great outdoors and the way it made me feel.

Before we began the short (but beautiful) 45 minute drive, I was sure to grab my GoPro (my most prized possession). In the past, I have taken this with me on every trip I've made. Although I wish I had better editing softwares and higher quality cameras, I truly find beauty in the stories that videos tell. Piecing together the most beautiful moments and putting them next to each other in one video is truly an art form.

As we drove on the highway, I started to film everything. Which, might I add, he did not know I was doing for the majority of this trip. Once we arrived, I immediately felt at home. He drove me around their property and showed me the beautiful and open rolling hills, the dozens of cattle that they owned, and the creek that ran throughout the entire property.

Growing up, I would always be doing something in the creek that surrounded my house. In fact, there were multiple times that my parents would have to search for me in the middle of the woods because I would never come home when they told me to. Therefore, hearing the sound of the rushing creek after the heavy rain we had gotten, was absolutely calming and comforting.

The best part about this entire excursion was seeing how happy it had made him just to be here, to what most people would be the middle of nowhere. This land has been in his family for many generations, and seeing the pride he has in it was absolutely amazing.

By the end of the day, I had taken enough videos to make a short video of all of the beautiful things this place had to offer. Although I was excited to make this video for Cade and his family, I had no idea how much it would really mean to them. In my opinion, people are the most important thing in everyone's life. Possessions are only temporary and the memories you make with the people you love are worth way more.

But then I thought, maybe the places we go with these people are just as important. Although it really doesn't matter where you are in this world as long as you're with people who make you happy, sometimes the location can amplify how you feel about it.

So here, my friends, is the video I made after a short 2 hour trip in "the middle of nowhere" Arkansas. It might just surprise you how beautiful it is. Enjoy!

Prince Cattle Farm from Monica Lieving on Vimeo.

Cover Image Credit: Monica Lieving

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College As Told By Junie B. Jones

A tribute to the beloved author Barbara Parks.
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The Junie B. Jones series was a big part of my childhood. They were the first chapter books I ever read. On car trips, my mother would entertain my sister and me by purchasing a new Junie B. Jones book and reading it to us. My favorite part about the books then, and still, are how funny they are. Junie B. takes things very literally, and her (mis)adventures are hilarious. A lot of children's authors tend to write for children and parents in their books to keep the attention of both parties. Barbara Park, the author of the Junie B. Jones series, did just that. This is why many things Junie B. said in Kindergarten could be applied to her experiences in college, as shown here.

When Junie B. introduces herself hundreds of times during orientation week:

“My name is Junie B. Jones. The B stands for Beatrice. Except I don't like Beatrice. I just like B and that's all." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 1)

When she goes to her first college career fair:

"Yeah, only guess what? I never even heard of that dumb word careers before. And so I won't know what the heck we're talking about." (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 2)

When she thinks people in class are gossiping about her:

“They whispered to each other for a real long time. Also, they kept looking at me. And they wouldn't even stop." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When someone asks her about the library:

“It's where the books are. And guess what? Books are my very favorite things in the whole world!" (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 27)

When she doesn't know what she's eating at the caf:

“I peeked inside the bread. I stared and stared for a real long time. 'Cause I didn't actually recognize the meat, that's why. Finally, I ate it anyway. It was tasty...whatever it was." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 66)

When she gets bored during class:

“I drew a sausage patty on my arm. Only that wasn't even an assignment." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 18)

When she considers dropping out:

“Maybe someday I will just be the Boss of Cookies instead!" (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 76)

When her friends invite her to the lake for Labor Day:

“GOOD NEWS! I CAN COME TO THE LAKE WITH YOU, I BELIEVE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 17)

When her professor never enters grades on time:

“I rolled my eyes way up to the sky." (Junie B., First Grader Boss of Lunch, p. 38)

When her friends won't stop poking her on Facebook:


“Do not poke me one more time, and I mean it." (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 7)

When she finds out she got a bad test grade:

“Then my eyes got a little bit wet. I wasn't crying, though." (Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus, p. 17)

When she isn't allowed to have a pet on campus but really wants one:

“FISH STICK! I NAMED HIM FISH STICK BECAUSE HE'S A FISH STICK, OF COURSE!" (Junie B. Jones Smells Something Fishy, p. 59)

When she has to walk across campus in the dark:

“There's no such thing as monsters. There's no such thing as monsters." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 12)

When her boyfriend breaks her heart:

“I am a bachelorette. A bachelorette is when your boyfriend named Ricardo dumps you at recess. Only I wasn't actually expecting that terrible trouble." (Junie B. Jones Is (almost) a Flower Girl, p. 1)

When she paints her first canvas:


"And painting is the funnest thing I love!" (Junie B. Jones and her Big Fat Mouth, p. 61)

When her sorority takes stacked pictures:

“The biggie kids stand in the back. And the shortie kids stand in the front. I am a shortie kid. Only that is nothing to be ashamed of." (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed, p. 7)

When she's had enough of the caf's food:

“Want to bake a lemon pie? A lemon pie would be fun, don't you think?" (Junie B. Jones Has a Monster Under Her Bed p. 34)

When she forgets about an exam:

“Speechless is when your mouth can't speech." (Junie B. Jones Loves Handsome Warren, p. 54)

When she finds out she has enough credits to graduate:

“A DIPLOMA! A DIPLOMA! I WILL LOVE A DIPLOMA!" (Junie B. Jones is a Graduation Girl p. 6)

When she gets home from college:

"IT'S ME! IT'S JUNIE B. JONES! I'M HOME FROM MY SCHOOL!" (Junie B. Jones and some Sneaky Peaky Spying p. 20)

Cover Image Credit: OrderOfBooks

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10 Things We Should Do For Our Country Before Outlawing Abortion

Just take one minute to think before you act, will you?

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As we all know by now, this past week Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill that will make performing an abortion illegal after a fetal heartbeat is detected. In 2019, Alabama passed its own abortion bill making it the most restrictive in the nation with Ohio and Mississippi following suit.

An ultrasound can detect a fetal heartbeat in as early as 6-7 weeks. This is before most women even know that they are pregnant. This raises multiple uncomfortable, jarring, but necessary questions. Why are men able to make laws regarding a woman's body? Do we except pre-teen rape victims to endure a nine-month pregnancy followed by childbirth? If enforcing stricter gun laws won't stop people from buying guns, what is telling us that stricter abortion laws will stop people from having abortions?

Instead, I would like to propose 25 alternative issues to tackle for the people of our country before we open up this can of controversial worms.

1. Homelessness

Homelessness in the US is a deepening crisis in America. In places that are doing better than ever before economically, the rates of homeless families are at an all time high.

2. Foster Care

Nearly three-quarters of US states have reported an increase in the number of children entering foster care since the year 2014. However, with this increase, there is a steep decline in families applying to be foster parents, mental health care for the kids, trauma counseling for drug abuse by a parent, and additional community resources.

3. Gun Reform

I do not want to take away your guns, caring American citizen who has a legitimate conceal to carry in order to protect yourself and others. I want to take away their guns—the mentally unstable psychopaths who think it's okay to harm others because the voices in their head told them so.

4. Plastic Waste

"Because plastic wasn't invented until the late 19th century, and production really only took off around 1950, we have a mere 9.2 billion tons of the stuff to deal with. Of that, more than 6.9 billion tons have become waste. And of that waste, a staggering 6.3 billion tons never made it to a recycling bin."

5. Student Debt

Student loan debt in 2019 is the highest ever. It is a $1.5 trillion dollar crisis.

6. Stray Animals

There are roughly 70 million stray animals living in the US today.

7. Potholes

It's just NOT THAT HARD. My car is too old to handle all of that.

8. Mental Healthcare

The American healthcare system spends roughly 5.6% of the national healthcare budget on mental health treatment.

9. Plant More Trees

Combatting climate change, cleaning the air, providing oxygen? Good enough for...literally everyone.

10. Save the bees

A third of all of our food depends on their pollination.

Regardless of our own opinions on the matter, I think it is more than fair to say that each individual should be allowed to make decisions about their own body.

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