December 31, 2011

Denver bound

Earlier in the week I registered for the last two tests I need to take to be certified to teach in Illinois.  I have to take them on the same day (February 11), two of those awful tests on the same day.  I'm not worried about the actual tests but I have the hardest time sitting through one test. Me with the attention span of a goldfish. (I googled the shortest attention span and a goldfish was the best answer :) Seriously though...I have NO attention span.  And I have to sit through about 8 hours of testing.  Please, start praying for me now and a lot!  I'll get through it. I will. And then I'll beg  Jason to plan something fun (AKA a romantic dinner celebrating Valentines Day) so I can have something to look forward to and then unwind at.  :)

So this afternoon teaching certification state tests were fresh on the brain and for some odd reason (of course I believe it was God), I decided to look into the testing dates in CO.  (There is only one test I need to take in CO as opposed to the THREE that I have to take in IL...woooohoo!) Well I quickly learned that one is in March when I have a class for student teaching that I was warned by my professor that I could not miss and the other is in June when I planned to come back to Chicago for my graduation and to see friends and family and especially to meet my future niece or nephew who will hopefully be born or or around the time I will be home.  So of course I could not be in CO at either of those testing days.  Illinois has test dates every other month...the plan was to to get to Colorado beginning in April.  Going according to Illinois's schedule, I figured that would leave me 2 opportunities to take a test...I mean I have NOTHING planned once I get to Colorado so I was pretty sure I could easily fit in the certification test.  However, that isn't the plan for Colorado...they have only 5 tests a year and they aren't being offered at the time I hope to be living there and before I'd need to have my score back to be a teacher in August.  So after freaking out for about five minutes I went back to the website and realized that the test was being offered next Saturday and that I needed to register by 5:00 today. (I was looking into this at about 3:00). Jason helped me look into airfare, hotels and car rentals and after some quick praying (and some serious anxiety) we decided I should go next weekend to (hopefully) get it it over with and still be able to come back to Chicago in June.  (Do I need to explain how badly I want to walk at my graduation...and now HAVE to be here to see my future niece/nephew...and well...just be back in Chicago with friends and family).  

So I'm going to Colorado next weekend.  It's costing us way more than we can afford right now, but I know God will provide.  Being that I have extreme test anxiety as it is, I'm really worried that the pressure will be on next Saturday...I mean we're only spending an arm and a leg for me to get this over and done with, but I'm praying that I'll feel a sense of peace and comfort as I take it.  I'm looking forward to having this test over and PASSED.  Maybe once we move there I can find a job right away and it will all pay off to have my certification under my belt. :)

December 29, 2011

Iowa Christmas 2011

On Friday we headed out to Iowa for our Christmas with Jason's family.  We spent most of the day driving, me really not feeling well.  Friday was an early night for us because we had a big couple days ahead of us.  On Christmas Eve we headed out to Des Moines for church at Jason's brother and sister-in-laws church.  It was a great service and message!  It was fun seeing the kids singing on the stage, reminded me of the church I went to growing up.  After church we went to a nice dinner at an Italian restaurant then went home and relaxed and caught up with one another.  While it was a wonderful day, it was kind of a fog for me since I wasn't feeling well. I know I fell asleep on the way home from dinner (which I do not sleep well in cars!)

Christmas morning we all rose early and had a nice breakfast together.  After reading about the birth of Jesus in Luke, we opened gifts next to the fire place, all taking turns to open.  Jason and I both got amazing gifts from everyone, all of us as a family felt very blessed this year.  After the gifts we had a delicious lunch prepared by my mother-in-law.  Even though I was still really under the weather, I didn't lose my appetite and it was absolutely delicious!  That night we finished the night off watching Elf.  :)

The drive back on Monday was still pretty groggy for me but we were able to meet my cousin, Amy, in the quad-cities for lunch.  It was great to catch up with her!  It was also Coopers 1st birthday so we brought him to PetCo so he could pick out his favorite treats and toys.  He was super happy with a tennis ball with a rope through it and some cheddar raw hides. Love that dog..he was SO good in Iowa and on Christmas.  Sweet dog.

Our Iowa Christmas was wonderful!  I wish I had felt better so I could have enjoyed being with family more but it was another memorable Christmas filled with love and good food! Thanks so much to Judy and Mark for hosting and to Phil for planning the Christmas Eve festivities!

December 28, 2011

Chicago Christmas 2011

Well Christmas is over...that came and went so fast.  Being that we moved just 15 days before and we've been trying to get settled I did all that I could to try to take in as much of the season as possible.  Jason was a huge help in getting our tree up and decorated as soon as we could.  We hung lights on our balcony, our stockings were hung, we wrapped presents together and watched our favorite Christmas movies, but I still felt like it just flew by.

Last Wednesday night my parents, Jason and I all went to Willow Creek's Christmas Eve service.  This years service was wonderful, everything I expected and wanted it to be.  I absolutely love the tradition that we've started with my parents.  I know next year will be different with us being in CO so I am already praying that I can come home at a time that allows us to keep this tradition alive.  I said this in a past post but I highly recommend you check out the Christmas Eve service at Willow.  You will not be sorry you did.

Thursday I spend a large portion of the day perfecting my baking skills.  I attempted the brownies again and made some peanut butter cookies (the ones with the chocolate kisses on top).  I also made those pretzels with the Hersey kisses and M&M's and pretzels with rolos and pecans.  I learned a little bit about slippery cookie trays and trying to keep a dog out of the kitchen while baking.  I learned how to clean chocolate out of the stove after it had spilled all over and burned almost setting off the smoke detector. I learned how to ice a burn on the finger from the spilling sizzling chocolate I was trying to keep away from the dog in the kitchen.  I learned a little bit about how different temperatures and times are crucial to making different types and sizes of chocolate melt properly.  Was it a success?  Ehhh, it was more of a learning experience but it was a fun learning experience.  Plus after I was done baking I was exhausted.  It gave me an appreciation for hours my mom and other family members must have spent in the kitchen baking.  It takes a lot of time and effort!  But it wasn't long before I realized that I was coming down with some illness which was why I was so tired.

By Thursday night I really wasn't feeling well. (Jason had been sick all week and I thought I had taken more than enough  Emergen-C, echinacea and zinc to avoid getting his illness but I guess not enough.) I was slightly disappointed because all the baking I had done probably should have been tossed.  Instead I gave fair warning to those I shared with.  Being the germ freak I am, I know there's no way I'd eat them if someone told me that. Anyway...Jason and I celebrated our Christmas together that night.  We ordered take-out from Leona's, then watched Fred Clause (it's actually kinda cute!) then opened our Christmas presents.  Jason got me a lot of new clothes since I don't exactly fit in the dress clothes I used to wear to work.  I am super excited to have clothes that fit.  :)  By the way...I was super impressed with how well he did picking shirts and pants out for me!  I have asked him to be my personal shopper moving forward but he hasn't taken the job yet.  Our Chicago Christmas was very special, I'm so thankful for our tree, the stockings and that we have each other this year.

Cooper in front of all the wrapped presents (for both our families)

December 25, 2011

Christmas Fill in the Blank

While I'm aware that it's Sunday I still wanted to participate since I couldn't on Friday and it's Christmas so what better Fill in the Blank Friday to participate in than this! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.  But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:9-11

1.   The best way to spread Christmas cheer is     obviously by "singing loud for all to hear" :)   .

2.   The thing I love most about Christmas is   all the lights and decorations everywhere    .

3.  The holiday season is a time for   remembering and reflecting on the birth of our Savior while remembering how important it is to love others   .

4. My favorite thing to eat at the holidays is    ham, shrimp cocktail, sausage and cheese and a little bit of wine :)    .

5.  I will be spending Christmas    in Ottumwa, IA with Jason's family  .

6.  Tis better to (give or receive?)  I absolutely LOVE to give...all the time to anyone, especially at Christmas.  I love spending time to find the "perfect" gift for loved ones. I also love giving to those in need...any need. But I can't lie...I love getting gifts too, I really love opening gifts .

7.  I'm dreaming of a    peaceful     Christmas.

December 22, 2011

The School

I went and met my co-op teacher and met the kids I'll be working with for my student teaching today.  I decided to stick with the grade level that I was placed in but I'll be able to work with the older kids as well so am super excited about that.  I also am really excited about the co-op teacher.  She really seems to have my best interest in mind and it seems like these next 3 months won't be as painful as I had planned.  :)  I begin in two weeks and from what I can tell, I'll student teach until March 16. :)  Lets get this going!!

December 18, 2011

Weekend of Fun

It's been a great and yet another busy weekend for us.  Our place is still a much and what do I unpack that I won't just be packing back up soon.  So it's messy and I'm reaching my boiling point.'s been a really fun weekend so we'll focus on that for now. ;-)

Friday I went to the burbs to see my cousin and her son who is in town from Florida.  I saw them at our wedding reception last October but I was just slightly preoccupied that day. ;-) So it's been almost three years since I've seen them.  My other cousin, her kids and husband came as well as my mom, two aunts and my grandma.  It was so wonderful to see everyone, especially since we missed Thanksgiving this year and won't be home for Christmas.  Super good time!

Friday evening was spent cleaning the is officially empty, repainted and sparkling clean!  Thank you Jason for all you did to get it that way!  

Saturday we woke up with our first snowfall.  It was gorgeous and such a great way to send us off for our 2nd annual Christmas shopping experience.  We had a great time hitting a bunch of different stores while avoiding the mall (thank goodness!).  Then last night we went out for dinner/date night and had the best time.  It was well overdue...I was so glad I got to spend time with him, just us and soak in all we've been through with the move the past couple weeks. We finished the night off watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.  Perfect day and night spent with my other half. Have I mentioned lately how in love I am with Jason? :)

Today we went to church and then I met my friend Brooke for brunch.  I took the Coopster to the dog park and then came home to relax (blog), do laundry, attempt to get settled in more, do other housekeeping things and possibly start our Christmas wrapping.  

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed our first snowfall.  Just six more days until Christmas!  How ready are you?!

Baking Success!

I've really enjoyed learning how to cook...still have a long way to go but it's been fun.  I haven't had to cook at all the past couple weeks with the move and just being so busy so I'm looking forward to getting back to that tomorrow.  But on Thursday I went to my friend, Christy's, annual Christmas party and wanted to bring sweets. So I attempted to bake some brownies from scratch.  Since I have been known to really mess up cakes before. (made a cake with unsweetened chocolate. yeah, it was disgusting!) I also have ZERO attention to detail so baking has always been a little difficult for me.  But I managed to find an easy recipe and made some White Chocolate Peppermint Brownies.  They turned out pretty good.  To be honest, I thought they were great...but that was only because I was comparing them to other baking experiences I had.  I'm super pumped to try other recipes now that I finally have one success story under my belt.  If I can make them, anyone try these this Christmas season!

Double Chocolate Brownies - - - from Real Simple magazine
Hands on time: 20 min 
Total time: 3 hours (includes cooling) 
Makes 16 brownies

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled*
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped (I bought Ghirardelli)
1 cup of sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line with 2 crisscrossed pieces of parchment, buttering in between and leaving an overhang on all sides; butter the parchment

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside

3. In a large microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter and chocolate. Microwave on high in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. Let cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, eggs, vanilla until smooth.

4. Add the flour mixture and mix until combined (do not over-mix)

5. Spread the batter in the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan.

6. Holding the paper overhang, lift the brownies out of the pan and transfer to a cutting board. Cut into 16 squares (4 rows by 4 rows)

Peanut butter cup brownies
Make the above brownies according to the recipe, but at the end of step 4 fold in 1 1/2 cups chopped mini peanut butter cups (about 20). Makes 16.

White Chocolate and Peppermint Brownies (what I made)
Make the above brownies according to the recipe. When cool, melt 6 oz chopped white chocolate (again, I used Ghiradelli) with 1 teaspoon canola oil and spread on top of the brownies. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup chopped peppermint candies; let set before cutting into squares. Makes 16.

*measure the flour by spooning it into a dry measuring cup, then sweep off the excess with a knife

December 16, 2011

It just occurred to me that I should probably change my title to "Meanderings from the 5th Floor Balcony".  Man I move way too much. Since we hope to only be here until the end of March...I'll leave it unless I learn otherwise and just use my imagination that I'm still on the 3rd floor.  :)

Fill in the Blank Friday

Happy Friday!  We made it to Friday - Woohoo!  I'm heading out to the burbs today to see my cousin who now lives in FL but is in town for a couple days and a bunch of other family members will be there. What a treat since I won't be home for Christmas this year. Hoping traffic will be on my side today but since I am pretty sure it won't be I'm super thankful for that the sun is shining. :)  Hope you all have a lovely weekend.  We'll be out in the burbs (again) finishing up our Christmas shopping and I am most excited to spend a whole day uninterrupted with Jason.  Our lives have been a little crazy busy with moving and getting our condo cleaned and painted while trying to get situated in our new place and doing Christmas-like activities that we haven't been able to spend much quality time together and I miss him! Enjoy your Friday and have a safe weekend all! xoxo

1.   My most favorite "little thing" is   my morning hug to Jason     .

2.   I give anything to  have an extra hour of sleep added to my day every single day      .

3.  I can't believe   I'll be student teaching in just 2 1/2 weeks     .

4. The one thing I'd like to achieve today is    finish cleaning the condo in Old Town    .

5.  The last thing I want to do today is    finish cleaning the condo in Old Town lol  .

6.  If I were writing my own blank today, it would say:  Thing I am most excited about next week is...attending the (big) Willow Creek Christmas service with my parents and Jason on Wednesday night- I cannot wait!!! If anyone wants more information, let me know.  Seriously it is a wonderful FREE service with music and dancing and everything that will make you so excited for the Christmas season. There are services beginning this Sunday through next Saturday. GO! You will not be disappointed!   .

7.  My favorite candle scent is    tree (christmas tree) by Bath and Body Works (and they don't make it anymore :(  .

*Join Lauren for Fill in the Blank Friday by clicking here 

December 14, 2011

I've been placed!!

Yay!! I've been placed for student teaching! It's at a school near the United Center. Right now it's with a self-contained classroom at the primary level but it's likely I can get it switched for the grade I want. The school is a technology school with a 1-1 ratio for I-pads - how unreal is that...especially for CPS!? I'm hoping to learn a lot, especially when it comes to assistive technology. Minus the commute (ummm I just moved from over there!) I couldn't be more excited to be able to plan and finally know I'm placed and will be done with school by the end of March!! Woohoo!!

December 13, 2011


I love this dog!  This is me trying to eat a pretzel rod and him thinking he's cute enough that he'll get one.

Christmas Tree is UP!

Moving this past weekend has really put a damper on my Christmas festivities.  Jason was amazing and knew I wanted to have my tree up right away, so we went and picked out our first real tree last Tuesday and brought it to our new condo.  I had a real tree growing up until I was about 10 but ever since have only had artificial.  The past two years have been special since I have had my grandparents tree but this year we knew we wanted the real deal.  We went to a lot in Chicago and learned how outrageously expensive they are and ended up at Home Depot where we picked out the perfect tree.  I'm not going to lie, I was originally pretty disappointed going to Home Depot for a tree but in reality, it just adds to the city-living feel.  :) I love that we'll be able to laugh at that in years to come.
Last night we were able to decorate the tree and hang our stockings.  I absolutely love our tree!  I wonder where it came from and how old it is.  I hope someday we can go cut down a tree but this year our Home Depot tree is exactly what we wanted.

Broken Phone

On moving day my phone crashed.  At least that was what I thought. (great day to have your phone not working!)  So I went to the Apple store and learned that it did in fact die and that the last "back-up" was in September of 2010 so I would lose everything I'd done since then.  This wasn't true, I had backed up my phone about a week ago but of course, that somehow didn't "catch" or something.  (I heart Apple.)  So I was freaking out because I hadn't gotten our honeymoon pictures off the phone yet.  Jason saved that day and I guess had done something months ago that would automatically send and save all my pictures on my computer so I wouldn't lose my pictures. (I love him.)  After the Apple guy tried restoring it three times we learned it was truly was done for.  They told me I had to buy a new phone ($150 - WHAT!?!) or could get the new one for like $400 or something (again, WHAT!?!)  I was in shock that I had the darn thing for only 17 months and it crashed and there was nothing they (Apple) could do for me.  Everyone fears losing their phone, cracking their screen, dropping it in the toilet, etc...but I (for once!) have been responsible and have managed to still have my phone in my possession and in one piece but I still have to buy a new one?  Long story short, the guy remembered that he could try replacing the battery which would only cost me $70 and that could possibly be the trick.  Sure enough, that did the trick and I was able to get my phone back with all my "notes", calendar, pictures, contacts, texts, etc. PHEW.  I'm still in shock at how much an iPhone costs and why I am a sucker enough to actually own and "have" to have one.  I blame my husband for this...I used to be content with my little flip phone until he got one.  LOL  But truth is, I have to have it and am thankful that this time it only cost me $70 to keep all that is in that little 3"x4.5" piece of memory.  Crossed fingers that it will last long enough until I am up for a new one in 2012.

Lockwood/Russell Thanksgiving 2011

As I posted earlier, Jason and I were in Mexico for Thanksgiving and didn't get to spend the holiday with my family. (We share holidays with each of our families and this year Thanksgiving was the holiday to spend with the Russell's) Since we were gone over the real holiday, my mom ended up cooking us a big Thanksgiving dinner on our move-in day!  It was a little chaotic with having all our dishes packed and who knew where all our serving bowls, plates, utensils, etc were...but we figured it all out and were able to have a Thanksgiving feast with ALL the trimmings!  What a special way to break in the new home...with the smell of turkey cooking in the oven.  Thank you Mom for a delicious dinner!  We love you and Dad and are so thankful for all you guys do for us.

 Dinner cooking on the stove while the turkey is in the oven

(yes this is matter how many times I try to fix it, it won't!)

December 12, 2011

Monday meanderings

I guess the Monday Meanderings is what this blog has now become.  Life has been busy.  Really busy mixed with a lot of stress. Hoping things slow down by the end of the week. :)


On The Move -- We made the move to the north west side of way north west side.  A huge thank you to my parents for coming to help and our friend, Les also came.  There is no way we could have done without them. I'm not just saying that, I mean it. Since we already did a huge move in July so we could stage our place, I thought we didn't have that much stuff.  I was so wrong.  We began moving around 9am and didn't finish until 3pm, then went back to Old Town and brought another load so didn't finish up until 5pm.  Seriously, Mom, Dad and Les, THANK YOU.

On the New Place -- So now our new place is just a huge mess.  We spent all of yesterday at church and then back in Old Town packing two final boxes and cleaning.  I think I was able to unpack a total of 3 boxes here last night.  I don't even know where to begin.  Since we know we'll be out in less than 4 months, I don't want to unpack everything but at the same time, we need to be able to live.  Oh it's a mess.

On Student Teaching -- I still don't have my student teaching placement and I am starting to get nervous. This is CPS's last week of classes before Christmas break, so I need to have my placement by the end of the week.  Fingers and toes are crossed.

On The Pets -- Cooper is feeling much better since my last post!  I brought him to the dog park last week and he was so excited to be out.  He also graduated from his second puppy class.  He now knows how to roll over on command.  LOL  Cooper and Sam have adjusted to the new place just fine.  The wood floors are a new challenge for Coopers slippery paws and all his toys that go under the couch but he'll figure it out and hopefully we can find a really inexpensive (free!?) area rug.

On my New Short Hair -- I got my hair cut on Thursday...cut a lot off! I'm super happy with my shorter cut - my hair is just way too thin to have it long.  Thanks Jolene for always trying to keep my hair looking good. :)

On Christmas -- Christmas is just 13 days away.  I haven't had a second to enjoy this season so I am so excited to get everything up and decorated and enjoy our Saviors birth.  I'm thankful that I have most of my shopping completed, I just have a few more people left so Jason and I are going to venture out on Saturday to finish our last items.  I feel like we haven't had a second to be together in a couple weeks so I am so excited for us to spend the day with each other.

Happy Monday!  Hope you all have a blessed week, please keep us Lockwoods in your prayers with the closing of our condo.  xoxo

December 8, 2011

I'm Going to be an Aunt - Again!

I am super excited to announce that my brother and sister-in-law are expecting again!  Jason and I will be an uncle and aunt again in June and my favorite little 16 month old will get to be a big sister!  I have been dying to share the news and couldn't be more excited for them. Please keep them in your prayers these next several months for a healthy mom and baby.  Congrats Shawn, Tiffany and Kaylee; Aunt Stephanie and Uncle Jason couldn't be more excited for your growing family!