June 30, 2010

My 5 Minute Pity Party

I began grad school again last night, and it's not going to be that bad as far as the class time is concerned...however, I found out we do have to do 15 hours of observation hours. While registering for my summer classes, I was told we didn't have any observation hours during the summer since it's so hard to find summer schools that are in session long enough to complete the necessary hours. Not only do we have the 15 hours this quarter but our assignments are based on those hours so I need to do them in large chunks of time if possible. (when I say 15 hours, calculate the time to and from those hours minus any lunch breaks or times when I am not "observing" the students/teachers)

The good news to all this is that I do have time off work next week so I can get the hours done Tuesday through Friday (if I can find somewhere to complete them). My complaint is that I was really counting on having the next week off. I have to pack all my apartment up to move in the next month and have been counting on next week to do all my packing. (remember when I said I was going to fill all my space in Wheaton...I didn't really, but I did more than I should have!) I also made my appointment for my alterations for my dress which is (pretty) important right now. I also wanted to go shopping for my jewelry for the wedding and take care of the other million things that have been on hold the past couple months. Not to mention that I just wanted to enjoy a week off from work without having to be at a school observing all day. It's not like I won't still have all my homework and classes to attend in the evening, I was just looking forward to being able to do all the things I haven't been able to do the past few months.

I guess that should end my pity-party. I just don't like that I am so stressed with no time to plan our wedding or see my friends, and was really looking forward to running the errands I haven't been able to do and have a little time to get my apartment in Wheaton squared away. I just need to keep my head high and charge through these next few weeks and August will be here before I know it when it will really calm down and will be my time to focus on wedding plans with Jason. I'm sure it's all part of God's plans and will all work out if I just let go and quit worrying about finding the time...but in the meantime, thanks for joining me and my pity-party. :)

June 29, 2010

Crosstown Series

It's hard to believe that it has already come and gone, but this past weekend was the Crosstown Series at Sox Park. Every year, my uncle, Dennis, gets group tickets and Jason and I (and usually other friends) get to join in on the fun. This year, we got an extra bonus since Uncle Dennis got us tickets to the Stadium Club! We got great seats in the dining room and *more food than either of us ever should have eaten!

As always, the game was a lot of fun! Every year my uncle does this game where he draws out names from a hat and whichever seat he draws, that person wins the "pot" and this year Jason won! Well this year the pot was 2 free tickets to a Sox game (he received them as a "thank you" gift from the Sox for buying group tickets)or $10. Jason chose the tickets so now we get to go to a Red Sox game in Chicago which we've been talking about going to for years!!

During the game, we got to see a wedding proposal a row behind us and even witnessed a Cubs win, which I really didn't think we'd get to see! Thanks again Uncle Dennis and Marilyn for a great time! We love you!

As an afterthought, I think this may have been the first year we didn't see a fight between the players on the field too!

*I DID still manage to stay within my points that day...thank goodness for the additional weekly points WW allows!)

World Cup

Jason grew up playing and loving soccer. So it's no surprise that the past few months Jason's been gearing up to watch the World Cup! Saturday, Jason and I went to watch what we were hoping would be a USA win in the World Cup. Ellis met up with us and we enjoyed a great afternoon in the sun watching the game and catching up. It would have been a lot more fun if we had won, but it was still a good time! I even learned how many Weight Watcher (WW) points all the different types of beers are! I had my one Summer Shandy and then quickly moved on to a light beer...

June 25, 2010

Sign Language

I have been taking a sign language course on Wednesday nights for the past couple weeks. It actually started 3 weeks ago but I had to miss the first class because of grad school being the same night. I do not have time to be taking an extra course this quarter but it's only offered at the Chicago Community Colleges over the summer and I can't wait any longer. My teacher is really good, he has creative ways to help us learn the words. For example, last week we played Bingo to learn the numbers, but I have to say I'm still so confused. I can't remember anything and it's obviously all about memorization. I found a good website and am looking into an app for my phone which should help. I'm determined to learn it so I have to stick with it. Praying that for the second course I can meet some people who I can practice with or once I learn enough signs I'll be able to practice with my uncle and his wife...but that's a long ways out. Until then, it's just me signing to Brandon and him laughing at me the whole time!

My Very Materialistic Want

I splurged...I got the new iPhone. I honestly don't even know what version they're on...I just go off the million email updates Jason sends me. (There's a real perk to being engaged to someone who's all techy!) A couple years ago when the iPhone came out I wasn't into it and loved Verizon so it wasn't even an option. Jason got one and it was cool for him, but I was happy with my red flip phone. Just having a flip phone for me was cool then and having a red one made me feel even cooler! But then after a few months, every carrier had a new phone and one was competing over the other, and Verizon came out with the Blackberry Storm, so since I was due for a new phone, I switched and got my first blackberry. There began the addiction to my cell phone. I now had unlimited access to email and the internet; life was great. But as most Storm owners quickly found out, the phone wasn't all it was cracked up to be and though Verizon's service is (still) the best, the phone wasn't doing me any favors. So when Jason got his second iPhone, we decided I'd take his old one and switch to AT&T but didn't have to sign a contract since it wasn't a new phone. From the first time I used the iPhone it was LOVE. But that was over a year ago and the phone has been slowing down A LOT and I cannot stand AT&T. If I'm on the phone for longer than 20 minutes the calls guaranteed to drop, especially along 290, which the past year was a pretty frequented spot for me! So while there was a new iPhone coming out, I looked into the Droid so I could switch back to my beloved Verizon. I have heard only good things about the Droid so was really excited to make the switch. After talking to Verizon I learned several apps I use on the iPhone are not offered on the Droid especially my favorite app, KLove, a radio station that doesn't come in in the city. I also learned that I couldn't listen to podcasts on the Droid which is what I listen to at the gym and on my runs. In addition, Verizon was $75+ a month more than what my current AT&T bill is...plus add in all the accessories I'd now have to stock up on like the car charger, headphones, case, etc. After all said and done, I figured AT&T's service could only get better from here on out so I went with the iPhone. Unlike the crazy people who were wound around the block 3 times for the Michigan Ave. store (ummm, Jason may have been one of those crazies!) I decided to reserve my phone at Oakbrook and venture out there after work and was only in line for about 40 minutes before I was holding the box to my new phone. I haven't had much time to play with it, but what I have used, it's all they've claimed it to be! I am extremely happy with my very materialistic want! I mean, technically a cell phone is a need these days, right? ;-)

June 24, 2010

The Boys Weekend Turned into My Weekend

This past weekend was Jason and Phil's bachelor party's. They decided to do a joint party in Chicago on both Friday and Saturday. I trust Jason more than I thought I'd ever be able to trust someone so I knew I had nothing to worry about as typical bachelor party activities are concerned, but whenever there are a bunch of guys together mixed with alcohol, I worry...mostly about safety.

So I decided to have a jam packed weekend so I wouldn't have to spend time worrying about him. Friday's plans fell through so I ended up going shopping with some gift cards and got some amazing deals, then went to my parents house for the night. Stayed up late chatting with my parents and my mom and I watched the 1st Sex and the City movie. (Mom, don't wait too much longer to finish it!!) Then Saturday I had Tiffany's friend baby shower where everything was all about little Baby Russell. It was such a great shower, she got lots of great gifts and plenty of advice as a first time mom! After that I jetted downtown to meet my friend, Carli to head out to Indiana for the Dave Matthews concert of 2010. The road trip was fun, we chatted the entire way and learned about 3/4 of the way into our drive that Indiana was an hour ahead of us. Fortunately, we got to the hotel in enough time to chill a couple beers and head out to the concert. Because we were late, we got a great parking spot right near the back of the lot (easy out!) and headed into Verizon Wireless Music Center (formally Deer Creek). Dave put on an amazing show. Seriously, it was one of the best set-lists and shows I've seen in a while, it reminded me all over again all the reasons why I love seeing him live. (I feel like I said this in last years post -- quite possible!) The venue was great, when he talked you could actually understand what he was saying. And everyone there was just as in love with them as I was, how could you go wrong? Nearly 30,000 people all throwing one hand in the air singing all the favorite songs with a beer in their other? At the end of the show, he stuck around shaking hands with everyone in the front row as Carter threw out a ton of his drum sticks. I was grinning ear to ear all night. Pretty sure Carli was sick of me saying, "Oh my gosh, that was so much fun!" Once we were out of the parking lot and finished going around in circles about 15 times trying to get out of all the road blocks by police we figured out how to get back to the hotel and called it a night. We woke up really early to get back to Chicago so Carli could work and by then all of Jason's festivities were over. Definitely a weekend to remember, as every Dave weekend is! Thanks Carli for going with and for being such a great friend...especially in a time of need. (read: I'm a spaz for no reason!)
**more pics to follow once I get them from Carli. :)

A Different Approach

So as I just stated in the last blog, I have gained a lot of weight the past 3 years and thought it was my own fault and just part of getting older, I mean, these hips are ready for some babies! But I learned that the number of pounds that I have gained isn't just a refection of being a runner and age but instead it's part of being on a drug that messed with my metabolism. I was blessed with an amazing metabolism my whole life, so it's only fair that age 30, it gets a little out of whack, just in time for me to be in a wedding dress. (and it was our great idea to have a destination wedding so we get to be in swimming suits in front of 20 of our closest friends and family's - Joy.)

As of last Friday, I joined Weight Watchers. I signed up for the meetings rather than just doing it online so I would be held accountable but I am not sure I really needed to do that. I'm holding myself pretty accountable. As if trying on my wedding dress last week wasn't enough motivation, I am just sick of how I feel when I already think I eat well, so now that I'm paying for it, I'm motivated. I've already learned a lot about what's been wrong with how I've been eating. (and if you know me AT ALL, I don't have to mention how much wine I consume in a week!) I'm turning over a new leaf, counting all my points and really motivated to get to the gym, which I already love anyway, so it's just about making the time! I'm sure if I start seeing results that will continue the motivation and I'll be working out and eating right, while losing some more pounds.

87 More Days Until the Wedding! :)

June 18, 2010

The Health Update

A couple big things health-related have been going on in my already crazy life. First, was that I went off my anti-anxiety medicine about a month and a half ago. I loved how much it helped my anxiety issues but I was only supposed to be on it for about 6-12 months. So a few months ago I was looking into the side effects of the specific drug I was on an learned that weight gain was nearly unavoidable. Interesting...I thought I had gained 25 lbs because I was in my 30's and it all seemed to happen right after I had finished training for the half marathon and marathon and thought I had continued eating like a runner but not burning calories like a runner. Beginning in January, I really watched what I ate/drank for a few months and those few pounds never budged even a little (except the week I was literally starving myself for the Challenge at Willow...not a healthy way to lose weight!) As soon I read story after story about people who had gone on this drug and gaining a lot of weight (and a few other negative effects that I was experiencing) I decided it was time to be off. Weening off this drug was horrible. It wasn't just the type of withdrawal you'd expect but were neurological and made me feel extremely dizzy where if I moved my eyes or my head I felt extremely dizzy. It lasted over a week and slowly got better but the first 5 days or so were awful. Those 5 days felt like 2 months they were so bad, so bad that I knew I could never go back on this drug for any reason because the withdrawal was too significant. Now that I've been off a couple months the withdrawal is certainly gone. With that, I've started feeling some of the anxiety come back as well but it's not nearly bad enough to consider medicine again...for now. Didn't think that going off the medicine at probably the most stressful time (wedding, moving, job change, grad school, becoming and aunt --okay, that last ones really not stress, but thought I'd throw it in!) but I knew I had to do it now, or never. And the feeling of being drug-free is so exciting.

The second health update was that about a month ago I had an abnormal pap. Not too uncommon considering the point of having a pap done is a preventative measure to be sure everything's okay. After finding out I had the adbnormal pap, I had to go in for a biopsy. As anyone who gets this news, I was a little nervous about having this procedure done and even more nervous about the results. But after having the biopsy done, my doctor told me she didn't expect that it would come back with anything abnormal as everything looked okay. I walked out pretty relieved and after explaining to the few freinds and family who knew, I didn't think too much more about it. But sure enough, I got the call that the lab results came back showing some pre-cancerous cells and was told I'd need to go in to have a procedure done to (hopefully) stop the pre-cancerous cells from growing and be replaced by healthy cells. That procedure was worse than the biopsy (even though I was told it wouldn't be as bad) and let's just say I'm not as anxious to have kids just yet! I am so happy to have this all behind me! I am praying for the cells to be GONE and for all healthy ones to grow in their place. I will go back for a follow-up in 6 months to make sure that's exactly what is happening. Thanks to all of you who were and have been praying for me. And thanks for all the encouraging words from each of you, especially those of you who shared similar stories of your own.

**As a side note, the drug I was on was Efffexor, and if you're considering going on it (it did wonderful things for my depression/anxiety) please, please, PLEASE talk to your doctor (preferably a Psychiatrist) about ALL of the side effects and do a LOT more research than I did.

June 17, 2010

Bridal Shower!!

It was about 2 weeks ago that my bridesmaids threw me my "Friend Bridal Shower." I've been looking forward to my shower(s) as much as my wedding. Okay, not really, but I've been overly excited about them! I love hosting parties, I (kinda) like attention and love the thought of all of my friends being together at the same place. I've always had the most random group of friends. I went to a couple different colleges, have barn friends, ACS friends, small group friends, high school, middle school...a lot of random places for people to come from and always worry about everyone having fun when there's no connection to each other besides me. But I think the girls did a great job coming up with games that weren't cheesy and included everyone. One of the "games" was that Jason had to come up with 10 different things that he loved about me and then they were read off as I opened gifts. However, Jason misunderstood the 'assignment' and ended up coming up with over 30! So it's pretty sweet that Meredith printed those off on nice paper for me to keep...there may be some days ahead that I need those reminders! ;-) She also had everyone give advice for a successful marriage which I appreciated, I love that kind of stuff! The food was delicious and it was very obvious the girls had spent a lot of time planning this special day for me. We got such wonderful items from everyone, I cannot wait to move in and start using everything...I have a lot to learn when it comes to baking and cooking, but it'll be way more fun to learn with the right tools! Once we're married, you're all invited to come enjoy all our wonderful gifts! A huge thank you to my bridesmaids, Laura and Tiffany for all the preparation and for coming in for that special day. And to Meredith, you did an amazing job pulling it all together and making everyone feel welcome and well fed! It was truly a day I'll never forget and words cannot express how grateful I am to have you as my maid-of-honor and best friend. Thanks to Mom and Ellis for helping to bake some food and a big thank you to each of you who came to help celebrate Jason and my future together!

June 16, 2010

Happy 21st Birthday Lauran!

Last August on a Sunday morning, I was riding the el on my way to church by myself because I needed to be extra early to serve at the connections desk. It was one of the craziest weekends of the summer, jam packed with Willow's Leadership Summit, Jason and I being baptized, Jason's mom and step dad being in town for the baptism, Lollapolooza (all 3 days!) and serving at church on Sunday morning. Needless to say, my ride on the el should have been a time for relaxation and reflection. While riding along, I happened to notice that there was this older guy talking to this young girl asking her about her faith and asking her where she went to church and about ready to hand out some tracts. I felt bad for her because she was so nice to this guy, took off her headphones and started talking to him. (who wants to be bothered by some guy handing out tracts on the el on a Sunday morning while you're just minding your own business?!) From what I could hear her saying, she was going to Willow that morning but she had only been here a few days so she wasn't really even sure where she was going. So I went over and told her I was headed that way and she could just walk with me. On the walk I learned that she had just moved here from Florida to go to school at Depaul. I was really impressed she was already navigating the city via el to find a church. From the minute we started talking, I knew we'd be friends. I had her sit where we normally sit and since I had to serve that morning, I was texting Jason telling him to find the girl in our normal seats and to talk to her until I was able to join the service. (isn't he wonderful?) After church was over we exchanged numbers and Jason and I headed to Day 3 of Lolla and she went her way back to Lincoln Park. We've become great friends since then, not that she needs any friends here!! She's made plenty of friends and made a way for herself in Chicago. (and found a church she loves...Harvest's Chicago campus) Most days when we talk, I forget that shes younger than me, she has such a great head on her shoulders and there are so many traits that I admire in her. She is such a wonderful woman!! Last weekend Lauran turned 21 and it was the same day as my bridal shower (pics to come!) so I wasn't able to celebrate with her but decided she needed to be a true Chicagoan for a day and go to a Cubs game. I was able to get tickets for last nights game. Sadly the game was rain delayed for almost 2 hours but we got to catch up and she learned a thing or 2 from Jason and I about baseball! I'll hopefully make a cubs fan out of her! :) Happy birthday Lauran, love you lots and am so glad God brought us together that very hot day in August!

June 15, 2010

Jacinda Graduated 8th Grade

In high school, one of my closest friends, Jolene, gave birth to the most beautiful daughter, Jacinda Annalia. We had been anticipating the arrival and wouldn't you know, she went and delivered on Spring Break while I was visiting my boyfriend at the time over 4 hours away. I remember that phone call from her mom like it was yesterday, exactly where I was and what I was doing!

This past Sunday, Jacinda celebrated her 8th grade graduation! There have been the many milestones leading up to her graduation; her 13th birthday was the biggest shock to me, how was that tiny precious, chubby cheeked baby already be 13? I remember when she was a toddler, I had a red jeep as a rental car and for some reason I remember how Jacinda really wanted a ride in it. I was so excited to be able to take her and was grinning from ear to ear as her big blue eyes were smiling back at me in the rear view mirror.

She will always have a special place in my heart, watching her grow into a gorgeous teenager, I am so excited to see what God has in store for her once in high school and beyond. This is only the beginning of many milestones I hope to share with Jacinda. Congratulations Girl, I love you!

June 13, 2010

Street Fests are Back!

Saturday we were able to kick off the beginning of summer as far as Street Fests are concerned. We attended the Old Town Art Fest which is just a block from Jason's. It's one of our favorites for the obvious reason of the convenient location. I love looking at all the art, mostly the jewelry and paintings/photos of Chicago skylines. This year was different than any other year because we actually purchased a piece of art, which made me feel like so grown-up. Nothings ever been affordable to me but now that we're decorating the condo, buying a piece of art to hang (a awesome picture of Chicago!) seemed like a logical choice. After checking out all the booths, eating some corn on the cob, edamame and a delicious Italian sausage dipped in marinara sauce, topped with sweet peppers, we got to enjoy some Trippin Billies which, of course made my night complete!!


June 12, 2010

Running Again

Memorial Day weekend I had the best start to a Saturday morning, I went for a run along the lake. I know I'm a broken record, but it's the most peaceful time running out just forgetting about everyone and everything or when I am having struggles, it's a great time to sort that out. I listen to new music or some times I listen to my podcasts of sermons at my favorite churches across the country. Today, there was hardly anyone out there because we were about to get some serious storms. I was lucky enough to be about 1 block from a viaduct so though I was drenched by the time I got there, I was safe from any lightening. That is a picture I snapped Memorial Day weekend. It's pretty obvious why I find the path to be such a peaceful and awesome place to start my weekend! I hope to be able to run as many Saturdays and other days off from school the rest of the summer.

June 11, 2010

School's OUT

For a few days anyway! It is so nice to not have to worry about anything school related. This quarter I constantly felt behind because school was going along smoothly and all of a sudden I got this full time job which meant I had to do 35 hours of observation hours in less than 2 weeks (with an already jam packed schedule) and then once I started the job, I just got more and more behind on assignments. Needless to say, Wed night when I turned in my last assignment it was a huge relief. That same relief I got at the end of each term all through the 17 years of school in the past. I'm excited for a new quarter to begin, for new classes and all that I still have to learn. I absolutely love this career choice, everything about it. I loved the kids I observed at a middle school in Elgin. (I have a cute picture of us at Pet Co but I am not sure what the legalities are of me posting that, so I'll steer clear of that!) I love everything I'm learning, from different special needs to how to teach, to the dynamics of school systems and everything else. But for the next week, I am going to enjoy not thinking anything school related and focus on wedding planning and catching up on all the fun things in life!

Hawks Win!

Yes, slightly old news by now but Wednesday night the Blackhawks won! I didn't jump on the bandwagon but mostly because I wasn't able to. I have night classes and everything else jam packed every night of the week so fitting in one more thing to do, such as watching the Hawks play-offs seemed like a dumb idea when I knew I'd just end up mad for the nights I couldn't watch. My parents have heard me say this many times the past few months, but they are the only true Hawks fans that I know (besides an old neighbor who I noticed a long time ago that she was a fan...long time ago meaning before they were winning.) So I remember as a kid my parents would go to the Hawks games and tell me about their awesome seats close to the glass and how much fun it was, but I am not sure that I went to a game myself. About 10 years ago I went to a few Wolves games a year and that was fun..but I haven't been to a hockey game in a long time. Jason and I added the Hawks game to our "Things to do in Chicago List" a couple years ago but even by then the prices were ridiculous so it wasn't a priority. (I only pay ridiculous prices to see my Cubs or Dave play!)

I was really excited on Wed that my class ended early and because everyone was at home or at a bar watching the game, there was NO traffic and I was downtown by 8:30. I was able to catch the last half at Jasons and then we went to a bar to catch the end. I couldn't share in the excitement quite as much as most bandwagoners who were there, but a Chicago win is always appreciated by me!

It was certainly a night to remember and I'm sure today is too with the parade! Pretty sure the prices will now really never allow us to go to a game at the United Center for several years so we'll have to catch a Wolves game instead to get our hockey fix that's now been ingrained in us! ;-)

Now it's back to my Cubs, maybe this is your year too!?

one of our favorite bars - wells on wells

June 8, 2010

I will Return

School is out tomorrow at 9:00pm...and I will return to my BLOG!! I miss writing here so much and just updating. This is the most exciting part of my life with all the wedding details, showers, pregnant friends (and sister-in-law), Hawks going for the Stanley Cup, getting ready to move, nannying for the cutest 3 month old, trying to enjoy Chicago in the city, growing closer to God, and just about every other little thing going on right now. I've dedicated the next couple weeks (minus my Wed nights which will be me attending sign language class) to just enjoying life, which will hopefully be me catching up on my blog life or at least writing about what I feel like writing about. So see you soon!! Good luck to me and completing my first quarter of grad school. (Still can't believe that I'm in grad school!!)