Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Friends and Good Food

Darby and I have been enjoying the kindness of people at our church in the form of free meals. Since I am currently unemployed, we have not been eating out much. It's hard because we both love trying out new restaurants. So here we are surrounded by restaurants we've never been to but unable to visit them. (Poor us! Believe me, I'm exaggerating quite a bit. I do realize how lucky we are to have a great house, go to a great school and still have plenty of money for groceries and other necessities).

BUT, our wonderful church has rescued us from our sentence of eating at home. Two Sundays ago, a couple took us to Noodles and Company. Wow! That might be my ideal restaurant. All of the entrees are pasta of some sort (macaroni and cheese, stroganoff, Italian dishes.) Definitely not for those on the Atkins diet. I think it's a chain, but I've never seen it before. Do they have those in Texas?

Darby went to a wedding in Abilene last Thursday and left me alone for several days. :( Our church really stepped up, and I had three different invitations to lunch and dinner while he was gone. Plus, I worked at the "Great Giveaway" (basically a huge free garage sale) at church and ate breakfast and lunch while I was working. So I only ended up eating 5 of 10 meals alone while Darby was gone. I really appreciate the kindness of everyone at church. They turned a weekend I was dreading into the best weekend I've had since we moved here.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fun at the Dentist

I went to the dentist here in Urbana yesterday. I've had problems with a particular tooth for YEARS. It all started after I got a filling when I was about 16. Ever since then, that tooth has hurt on and off. I had two different dentists look at it, take X-rays, do all sorts of bite tests. No one could ever figure out what was wrong. I finally convinced myself that I was crazy and that the pain probably wasn't related to the filling at all. It must be just a coincidence. About four months ago, I woke up with a horrible pain in my jaw and was hardly able to open my mouth. I didn't have dental insurance at the time, so I decided to just wait it out. After a few days, the pain subsided to a manageable level. Since then, it's been hurting off and on. I decided it must be related to sinus pressure, since it seemed to get worse when my allergies were bad.

In June I got dental insurance, so I decided I'd get it checked out after we moved. I made the appointment and right after that my gum swelled up A LOT! Darby was shocked when he looked at it, as was the hygienist. The dentist here did 18 different x-rays, which is torture for me because my mouth is so small that it really hurts to bite down on those separator things. But, the x-ray clearly showed that the tooth that had a filling seven years ago was dead. So, I get to have a root canal next Wednesday! I'm not looking forward to that (the procedure itself and the cost), but I'm glad that I finally know what's wrong and hopefully I won't have any more problems. I just don't understand how two different dentists couldn't see that there was a problem earlier.

Monday, August 18, 2008


Darby and I had a great trip to Chicago with his parents a couple of weeks ago. I really like the city (at least the downtown area). It's very clean and pretty, and the views of Lake Michigan are amazing. It might have taken Seattle's place as my favorite big city.

View of the skyline and Lake Michigan

We got passes to go to five different attractions: the aquarium, the planetarium, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum of Natural History, and the Hancock Observatory. All were definitely worth it. The aquarium was probably my favorite. It was HUGE and had all sorts of cool fish! Plus, there was a dolphin show in this beautiful amphitheatre with a view of Lake Michigan, which was awesome.

We did all that stuff on Tuesday and Wednesday with Darby's parents. We also ate really good pizza at Pizzeria Uno, one of the cities' oldest pizza places. It was so nice of Darby's parents to take us and pay for everything! We were planning on going to Chicago anyway, but we definitely wouldn't have gotten to do as much if we were footing the bill! We had a great time with them, and they were troopers about me and Darby dragging them all over the city looking for restaurants we had read about in our guidebook. We all definitely got our walking in!

On Thursday, Darby's parents headed out for Wisconsin and Darby and I went back into the city for a little more sightseeing. We went to Millenium Park, which has tons of cool statues. One of them is called "Cloud Gate" and is basically a giant bean-shaped mirror that you can see yourself in:

Darby and I are the big dorks taking a picture of ourselves in the center.

Then we went to the Art Institute of Chicago. Wow! That place was HUGE!! There were tons of paintings from all different eras. Probably the most famous one they have is "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." It was cool to get to see it up close. After we had about as much art as we could take, Darby and I headed to lunch at Heaven on Seven, which is a Cajun restaurant. It tasted authentic to me! After that, we got on the train back to Elmhurst (where we were staying) and drove back to Urbana. It was a great break from doing nothing and we're excited to go back and explore more.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Same Old, Same Old

I have a whole new respect for single people who move to a new city. It's hard for me being here without any friends or family, but I have Darby, which makes a HUGE difference. If I didn't have him, most days I would not interact with anyone. Of course, I guess it could also be argued that were I single I probably wouldn't have moved somewhere without being enrolled in school or having a job first. Still, I think it takes an incredible amount of courage to live on your own in a new place, so props to everyone who's done that. I can't say whether I would have been strong enough to do the same.

I'm starting to go just a little stir-crazy. I've been watching a lot of TV and spending a lot of time on the Internet. Part of it's my own fault. I could do more productive things, like reading, organizing, or scrapbooking. I just let myself get sucked in. But, the church that Darby and I have been visiting is having a young marrieds get-together tomorrow night, so we get to interact with other people! We are both SO excited; it's pretty funny. It is kind of nice how much we look forward to church now, though. I always enjoyed going in Abilene, but I never got excited about it like I do now that it's our only opportunity to talk to people and meet potential friends.

Monday, August 11, 2008

My "new job"

Today, Darby and I went to open a new checking account, since Champaign-Urbana has no Banks of America (weird, huh?) The very nice woman who was helping us out asked for my occupation. And that's where the fun began.
Me: "Well, um, I'm looking for a job."
Woman: "Okay, but I still need to put something down."
Me: "Should I give the title of my last job?"
Woman: "Well, is there a general field that you'll be looking in?"
Me (racking my brain for a word that describes a job suitable for an English major who doesn't have a teaching certificate): Uhhhhhh...
Woman: "Why don't I just put homemaker?"
Me (laughing nervously to disguise my complete humiliation): "Sure."

I really never dreamed I'd be a homemaker before I had children, but I guess that does describe my occupation for now. I have put some applications in for some pretty promising jobs, so hopefully this will be a very temporary occupation. But, hey, so far homemaker involves watching a lot of Olympics and reading, so maybe it's not so bad. :)

Friday, August 08, 2008


I am watching the Opening Ceremonies as I type this. Wow! Those drummers were amazing. I love the Olympics. And the timing couldn't have worked out better. Since I'm still looking for a job, I'm home all day to watch the events. My favorites are gymnastics, volleyball, and diving. But I'm going to try to branch out this year and watch some different events. Maybe badminton? :)

We had a great time in Chicago with Darby's parents. I'll post more about our trip when I get pictures from Darby's mom. Naturally, I didn't take many. (That seems to be quite a theme with me).

Monday, August 04, 2008

First Impressions of Urbana/Champaign

Green everywhere!
Beautiful parks

No Blue Bell ice cream :(
No parking around campus (where a lot of the good restaurants are)

Darby and I went up to UI today. Whoa! It is huge. I thought, "I'll just go up with Darby to the Science Building; then I'll wander over to the library." Ummm...no way was I going to be able to find the library. As far as the eye could see were science buildings. And of course I hadn't printed out a map beforehand. I could have wandered around for a while, but it was too hot. Luckily, I spotted a Starbucks :) We did get to go in the Engineering library, which was about as big as the ACU Library, which serves the whole campus, not just one department. We're not in Kansas anymore!

It's a very beautiful campus, though. I wanted to take some pictures, but seriously the humidity made me not have the energy to lift my camera (well, that and maybe the fact that I was inexplicably alert from 4:30-6 a.m. today.) Plus, I didn't want to be the country bumpkin taking pictures of the big college!

We're going to Chicago with Darby's parents tomorrow. Woo-hoo!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Hello from Illinois!

Well, we made it, thanks to a lot of help from our parents. We learned an important lesson: whatever size U-Haul you think you'll need, get one size bigger. We had the U-Haul totally stuffed, and the back of my car was piled so high that I couldn't see out the back. Plus, we had to put a few things in the back of my Dad's truck. It all worked out, though, and amazingly nothing got damaged. I am so grateful that our dads were able to go with us to help us load and unload. The move would have been so much harder, if not impossible without them.

We are settling into our new house in Urbana, which we love!! The house is only two years old, and it's just so cute. Plus, it's so much bigger than our apartment, and there's plenty of storage space. I just keep walking around saying, "I can't believe we live here!" I'll definitely post pictures once we have everything set up. We've made a lot of progress, but we still have a lot of work to do. Luckily, we live about 1/2 a mile from Wal-Mart, so our frequent trips don't take up too much time :)

We went out to eat last night at a really good pizza place near campus. They have Chicago-style stuffed pizza. It was huge! I could only eat one slice, which is very strange for me. Right now we're at the Urbana Public Library using the Internet. Our Internet is going to be hooked up on Wednesday. Urbana is a cute little town. There's some really pretty old houses downtown and lots of parks. Illinois is much, much greener than Texas. And everyone was right: there's A LOT of corn. There's a huge cornfield right by our house. It reminds me of when I was little because there was a cornfield by our house in Hewitt, too.

Well, I better get back to work. We miss all our friends and family in Texas! I'll post more on Monday when we have Internet.