December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009...Hello 2010

Well here it is...the end of another year and time to reminisce about all the good and sad time of 2009. This year sure has been a whirlwind of emotions for me but am so thankful for all I have and am so excited to ring in another new year! As I've done in the last couple years, I like to share my year in chronological order where my life has been...

  • Started the New Year in Steamboat with Laura, Tom and Samuel, my first time skiing in 10 years! (this was the weekend, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Jason...awww)
  • Started serving at our church's "Connections Desk"
  • Andrew turns 2!
  • Grandpa celebrated his 90th Birthday with a big celebration at my parent's house
  • I became a brunette
  • I was laid off from my job as a Special Events Manager
  • Started working part-time at a school in their Development office...met Heather. :)
  • Learned all about COBRA and unemployment benefits
  • Attended "Corporate Challenge" for Young Associate Board affiliated with Children's Memorial Hospital
  • Turned 30! Celebrated with Meredith at a sushi BYOB
  • Had a 30th birthday bash at Jason's with lots of my closest friends
  • St. Patricks Day in true Chicago fashion
  • Went back to being a blond...they really do have more fun!
  • Shawn, Tiff and I threw a surprise 60th Birthday party for Dad...I mean 59th...
  • Saw Chris Tomlin Worship concert at Sears Center
  • Found a sub-let and packed up 3115 Southport...
  • Sam, Chaz and I moved back to the suburbs
  • Trip to Cancun with Mom, Dad and Jason
  • Started attending a women's Tuesday morning group/class/Bible Study in the burbs
  • Cub's Opener with Ellis and Josh
  • Brittany Spears "Circus" concert
  • Gave up drinking bottled water for Earth Day...and still going strong!
  • Planned and attended my first Cubs Rooftop game (for Young Associates Board)
  • Got my first couch!
  • Mothers Day in Ottomwa, Iowa
  • Said our goodbyes to Grandpa who was laid to rest on May 20...I miss you, Grandpa!
  • My parent's brought home Sophie!
  • Mom, Dad, Jason and I saw Mary Poppins, on Broadway
  • Young Associates Board's "Summer Luau"...was canceled :(
  • Got an i-phone!! (then learned all about AT&T's deadzones first hand!)
  • Cubs/Twins game and Old Town Art Fest with Meredith and Jason
  • Ran Children Memorials, "Race for the Kids 5k"
  • Joined Ellis and her family on their family vacation in/on Green Lake, Wisconsin
  • Michael Jackson died
  • Cubs/Sox game
  • Small Group begins
  • Went to Brookfield Zoo with Karrie and the kids
  • Survived Phil's Birthday bash in Des Moines, IA at 80/35
  • Bike ride to Navy Pier for fireworks with Jason
  • Rascal Flatts at Wrigley Field
  • Women's Race...barely survived this one
  • Visited Cousin Amy in Rock Island
  • Ran and volunteered for "Run for Gus" 5k...Young Associates Board's 5k
  • Jason and I rode our bikes all over Chicago trying to find Meredith as she ran and completed her first Half Marathon - YAY MEREDITH!
  • Dog-sat Sophie in Chicago
  • Trip to see my family in Geneseo
  • Attended Willow Creek's Leadership Summit...amazing leasders/speakers!
  • My first Lollapolooza!!!
  • I was baptised...again.
  • Celebrated Mom's birthday at the lakehouse
  • Saw Cavalia
  • Heard Pearl Jam at United Center
  • Went on my first mission trip - Baja, Mexico
  • Figured out what I want to be when I grow up - A Special Ed teacher
  • So sick from some Mexican stomach bug
  • Stacy's 30th Surprise party
  • Cubs Bleachers...first time in the bleachers in a couple years!
  • Architecture Tour...and ran into Jenee and Will there
  • Saw Iowa!
  • Cubs game with Mom, Dad, Uncle Dennis, Marilyn and Jason...Mom's second Cubs game!
  • Phil and Laura in town...more Cubs bleachers
  • My baby, Chaz was put to sleep
  • Over-night trip to Devils Lake
  • Jason proposed!
  • We're Engaged!
  • Dog-sat for Jelenik's labs
  • Walked 5 miles for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer - our team raised over$1,000
  • Met Aunt Shelby for some girl time and wine...way overdue!
  • Volunteered at Young Associates Board's Hospital Party at Children's Memorial
  • Served at a homeless shelter with our small group
  • Andrew's sister, Kate, was born
  • Saw Hillsong United's Documentary with Christy
  • Cousin Amy and her friend visited Chicago
  • Our Engagement party at Shawn and Tiff's
  • Went to see "New Moon" with Jacinda
  • Cousin Karrie donated her kidney to her husband, Al - so this really has nothing to do with me, but was a HUGE blessing this year!
  • Started working at Nohea Cafe
  • Attended Chris Tomlin's "Glory in the Highest" Christmas tour with Christy
  • Celebrated Christmas with the small group girls
  • Willow Christmas with my parents and Jason
  • Sioux City, IA for Christmas with Jason's family
As I look back at 2009, I again realize how blessed I am. As last year closed our, I had this uneasy feeling that something big was going to happen in 2009, something life-changing. It wasn't even a month into the year that I lost my job. From that first day, I have tried to maintain a positive attitude and remember that God is there for me and won't let me fall. I could probably write a book about all the things I have been able to be a part of or how much my life has changed (in good ways) because of this one loss. (I probably will blog about it all once I'm working again!) There is no way I thought I'd be writing my "closing of 2009" entry sitting on a couch in Wheaton, IL, but gosh have I been able to experience amazing things because of this big loss. I have a great family, incredibly loving and loyal fiance, good health and an amazing God who loves me and always has my back!


As I said last year, rather than New Years Resolutions, I like to call them "positive changes." First, I posted my 2009 "positive changes"...then commented after it with my progress. Followed by that are my 2010 Positive Changes.

2009 Positive Changes...and their progress...
  • less wine...always something I struggle with!
  • Nashville 1/2 marathon in April...was injured, then the move put a damper on things!
  • more time at the gym....still going strong!
  • grad school if I feel led by God...God led me to be a Special Ed teacher and I should start in March at National Louis University!
  • trip to see Anne and JT...went in July to Geneseo
  • keep up with my reading...still trying
  • eat healthier...still trying
  • turn 30...check!
  • Cubs make it to the World Series...2010 will be it :)
  • spoil my cats even more than I did in 08...check!
  • Chicago Marathon (and run for a charity)...see Nashville 1/2 update
  • trip to see Laura (can check that one off! :)...check
  • Move to Bucktown?...Wheaton, Bucktown? Whats the difference ;-)
  • See Chris Tomlin in March...check, plus again in December!
Last but not least...
constantly improve myself by keeping God first and respecting Jason as he needs to be respected....Always, always working on this!

"Positive Changes" for 2010
  • get a job!
  • less wine
  • Run the Disney 1/2 marathon in Jan '11 (or something before)
  • find a new serving opportunity at the church I can serve in
  • lose 10 lbs...preferably by 9/18!
  • begin grad school for Special Ed teaching
  • Read the Bible, starting with the new testament...and finishing with the old
  • Cubs make it to the World Series
  • Be comfortable praying outloud
  • Keep a clean car (bring my mugs/cups in every day)
  • Marry my best friend
  • Move back to Chicago
  • convince Jason to let me get another cat ;-)
As always...constantly improve myself by keeping God first and respecting Jason as he needs to be respected. This year it is especially important to remember to keep God first in all of our wedding plans and as we start our lives together

Happy 2010!!

December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas with Mom and Dad (and Sophie)

As I was driving back to the city yesterday I realized I didn't mention the amazing Christmas celebration Jason and I had with my mom and dad! A week ago Sunday, Jason and I went to my parents house. We started by opening our Christmas presents by the Christmas tree. Every year for as long as I can remember, my mom gives my brother and me an ornament. Generally that year's ornament has a theme to it. This year, she gave Jason and I an ornament for our engagement. It's a bear on one knee proposing with this ginormous ring, with the date and location of the proposal. I told her that in years to come, she'll need to start buying for Jason and for each of our kids! Then, Jason, myself and our little ones can all decorate the tree together...the tree Grandma and Grandpa gave us! After presents we all sat down for an amazing meal cooked by my mom. It was complete with ham (my favorite!), twice-baked potatoes, corn, sweet potatoes (another favorite!) and cherry pie. I think there was more than that, but I know I had 3 helpings of each! Mom even used her fancy Christmas dishes! After opening presents and stuffing our faces, we went to the Willow Creek Christmas service. The service was amazing. I know, I know...I say that about every Willow Creek service, but I didn't love, love, love last years Christmas service but thought this year's was magical! Both my parents enjoyed it which meant a lot to me since Willow is the church I call home. Christmas 2009 in We-Go was a very special Christmas for me, keeping some of our family traditions while switching up some others.

Click here for more info on the Willow Creek Christmas service. (do know you want to!)
*theres a few cute photos with us in front of the tree...and one of me and sophie...but the camera is missing. :( I will post them when I find it!

We're Going Shopping!

I am so excited! I just scheduled an appointment to go dress shopping on January 11! My mom and Meredith are going with that day to a couple stores. Then if I can't find my dress that day, we have January 23 planned as our back-up date...a week-end date where more people can hopefully come. I have a couple dresses picked out that I like the style (and price!) Since I've never really looked into anything wedding-related, this has been crazy fun looking at wedding magazines and dresses and trying to figure out colors and all the little details that Jason doesn't have a strong opinion about. It's a tiny bit more stressful too since I have no clue what I want, but OH MY GOSH, I am going to be a bride!! :) YAY!

December 29, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009!

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Mine sure did fly by. I was organized and got all my presents early and spent last Wednesday night wrapping ALL of them while listening to Christmas music. Sam enjoyed that a lot and kept me company!

this was right before he climbed into the box

then curled up right next to me...on the wrapping paper and tissue!

Jason and I went to Sioux City, Iowa for Christmas this year. We will be trading off Thanksgiving and Christmas each year...last year was Thanksgiving in Iowa and Christmas here. This year we flipped it. This was the first Christmas away from home. I didn't do as well as I'd have liked; I am such a homebody. Plus, we were in the country and ended up getting snowed in which really put me out of my comfort zone. Through it all though, our Christmas as an "engaged couple" was very special. Everyone from Jason's mom side of the family was able to make it in for Christmas. His cousin, John was in from Atlanta and his cousin, Brad was there from Florida. Brad's girlfriend was also able to fly in from Atlanta. His cousin, Andrea, was home from school but is usually in Arkansas. Obviously, Jason and I both from Chicago. His brother, Phil, and his fiance, Laura, were in from Des Moines. They were only supposed to be stopping in for a few hours and head back out to South Dakota but the snow storm kept them with us all through Christmas and even longer than Jason and me! Both of Judy's sisters, Dawn and Bonnnie were able to be there along withJason's uncle, Bernard and cousin, Daniel. Bless Daniel's heart for all that he did for us that weekend...driving us back and forth on the Arctic Cat, ploughing all the snow so we could get though!

snowed in at Daniel and Bernard's house so Daniel brought us over to Grandma and Grandpa Jones on the Arctic Cat. It was quite an adventure for suburbanite me.

The highlight of the weekend was that we were all at Jason's grandparents farm house. It was very special to be with them, all of us cozied up in the kitchen to celebrate together. After we opened presents, Jason's Grandpa read a letter from "Jesus" about the true meaning of Christmas.

From being snowed in, to the shoveling incident, to the Arctic Cat, to Uncle Bernard and his kidney stone, to a flooded basement, to no running water, toliets or dishwashers and the County Parson, it's one I know I will never forget.

Merry Very White Christmas 2009!

December 22, 2009

Small Group Christmas Celebration

Need I say it again? I love you girls!

As I have shared numerous times, my small group is wonderful! Us girls in the group decided to have a small Christmas gathering in December since the group isn't meeting through the holidays. We all dressed up and brought a small Christmas gift for the gift exchange. We each brought some delicious cookies, cider or appetizer and just had a nice night of fellowship next to the fireplace and 1.5 ft tree. I'm hoping this will be the first of many years that I host a Christmas gathering. (Thank you Jason for allowing me to host at your place!) It was yet, another way to appreciate the Christmas season with loved ones and prepare for the birth of our Savior.

Eleni opening her gift...everything you'll need for a relaxing night in!

Nikki got a beautiful necklace...until Meredith stole that from here in round 2!

Another themed gift for Melanie, such a creative group of girls!

Goodbye ORD and Hertz Car Rental!

After 2 years in prayer, Jason is no longer traveling for work!! Our first year together Jason traveled every week, Sunday through Thursday. The later months of him traveling in '08 nearly killed our relationship. It was through no fault of Jason but through my own selfishness that I needed him home a lot more and needed to be able to talk to him a lot more regularly. Yes, I am a needy person in a relationship. I get lonely and I talk a a long distance relationship where Jason was working so much he couldn't talk to me until the wee hours of night wasn't my cup of tea. Last January, Jason accepted a new job and was only expected to travel once a month. Now, that was something I could get used to! All the other days he was working from his home office (approximately 10 steps from his bedroom!) That worked really well for me since I am unemployed, I was able to see him whenever I wanted. Even though he was working, just having him home was wonderful. It wasn't until my grandpa was sick and passed away in May that I realized how much one week away was still too much. There are times in our lives when we can't plan when we need him to be here and since Jason and I are planning to have children some day, him traveling is not something I would desire. A few weeks ago, Jason accepted a position where his office and client are in the loop, Monday through Friday, normal business hours. What an answer to prayer!

This past Friday night, I dropped my friend off at ORD and the emotions that came upon me as I pulled out after dropping her off were unreal. I was pulling out of the airport without tears in my eyes! (Not that I won't miss you Meredith!) but this was the first time in over 2 years that I dropped someone off and was not truly sad.

I am so thankful that Jason isn't traveling anymore. I am fully aware that with the type of work that he does, it is likely that he'll be traveling again someday, I just pray it isn't someday real soon and am enjoying any days we have that he isn't boarding a flight or renting a car for a week!

Chris Tomlin

You must use your imagination on this one and pretend it's the night of December 8th. (as I said in the Christmas tree post...I'm very behind on my entries!) Christy and I went to see Chris Tomlin perform his Christmas show, "Glory in the Highest" with Louie Giglio and special guest Audrey Assad. The show was incredible. Not that I really expected anything less from Chris Tomlin but it was such a wonderful way to get in the Christmas spirit. As a side note, I highly recommend picking up a copy of his Christmas CD, "Glory in the Highest." It was my "one Christmas CD" that I bought this year and is one I will be listening to for many, many years to come!

song-of-the-day|"Glory in the Highest"| by Chris Tomlin

Andrew has a Baby Sister

Katherine Grace Schuetz was born November 4, 2009 at 11:29am weighing 7 lbs, 13 oz and 20 inches long. She is absolutely precious and perfect in every way. Congrats Michael, Susan and Big Brother, Andrew!

PS...could that name be any more beautiful!?

December 21, 2009

My First Christmas Tree

This entry would probably be much better had I written it when I intended to write it...the weekend of Thanksgiving, but I have had serious writers block and haven't been able to get started on any entries lately.

Last year our church's Christmas series was called, "Prepare" which also had a daily devotion which was emailed daily with ways to "Prepare" you for Christmas day. It came in the perfect time in my life. I made every effort to get all my Christmas shopping done early, wrapped presents with matching bows and just enjoy the little things leading up to Christmas without being stressed about everything. Not that I really had anything to stress about, but being that I had worked retail for many years leading up to last year, the Christmas season had sadly lost part of its meaning so I was very excited to "prepare" myself differently last year.

One of the ways I really made an effort to enjoy the season was while putting up my Christmas decorations I listened to Christmas music and drank hot cocoa with my favorite Christmas scented candle, Tree by Bath and Body Works, scenting the room. It made such a world of difference to hang the lights around the windows and decorate my tiny 1.5 ft tree while singing along to Christmas tunes and sipping hot chocolate!

This year, it was even more fun decorating. My grandma gave me hers and Grandpa's old tree which is a pre-lit tree and stands at 7.5 feet!! I was tempted to put it up at Jason's since I was hosting a Christmas party for our small group (blog to come) but I decided to embrace this year as my last Christmas in my own place and put the tree and all my holiday decorations up here. I had a blast buying ornaments for the tree and picking out the perfect star for the top of the tree. what I hadn't prepared for was just how emotional it was spreading the branches knowing the last person to have done that was my grandpa. It meant so much more to me knowing that this was the tree that he had put up and taken down. It's amazing what a larger Christmas tree can do to a room. It is so festive here and I feel my grandpas presence every time I light it. Thank you Grandma for sharing this tree with me. I love it more than words could ever say.

song-of-the-day|Emmanual|by Chris Tomlin (though my favorite Christmas CD is Point of Grace, "Tennessee Christmas," there aren't many good songs on youtube, so my second favorite Christmas CD is Chris enjoy!)

December 7, 2009

2 years

Today is the 2 year mark since Jason and I went on our first "date." It wasn't much of a date in the way I would normally think of a first date. (he had me meet him out at a bar and brought his cousin with him!! :) But we had a blast! It was the first night (of many) that we really got to know each other and spent about 7 hours talking non-stop. The past 2 years have been an amazing journey. Jason has helped me grow as a person and with my relationship with Christ. It is with great joy that I type this and know we will be spending the rest of our lives together. We've already had so much fun planning our wedding and can only imagine the fun we will have leading up to September 18 and beyond! I love you, Jason. Thank you for the most amazing 2 years of my life. xoxo

December 5, 2009

It's a KING

I feel kind of weird blogging about this but I am too excited not to! Jason bought a new bed shortly after we started dating and it ended up being defective. Basically it slanted toward the middle. Jason had to go through many steps in order to get the bed returned. He had to prove that there was at least a 1 1/2 inch drop in the bed, which he did. Though his place is not really large enough for a King-sized bed, I know there will be more years ahead in a different home than his currently place of residence . I cannot express just how excited I am to have a King-sized bed when we're married!! It'll be like we're on vacation every night! I wish I had some way of convincing Jason the bed needs to be stored at my apartment instead of his until then, but I guess my full-sized bed will have to do. Sooooo excited!!