Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Home again, home again

Well, we made it back to Champaign. I think all total we spent 37 hours in the car. But, it was worth it. I still think I like driving better than flying; I was much less stressed out. And, in the future we can cut a lot of time off by taking more direct routes. We took a major detour this time to go to Abilene. My friend Emerald had a baby in September, so all of us Fat Tuesday girls (minus Kalyn---we missed you!) drove to Abilene to throw a little mini-shower for Em and baby Lily. So, it was Em's baby shower, but it was at her house and she made all the food. Ha! Carolyn joked that we should have gotten Em a hostess gift.

Look at this little cutie! I'm in love. She is such a sweet, good-natured baby.

Darby and I picked out some little footie pajamas for her. The next day, Em sent me a picture of Lily wearing them in the snow.

It was so fun to see all of the other girls, too. I was only able to stay for a little while, but I'm thankful for the time I had. After the shower, I met my friend Laura for a short chat. We've talked on the phone a lot since I've moved here, but we haven't seen each other at all. It was great to sit and talk face-to-face. I wish Darby and I could make it out to Abilene more often; it's not really on the way to anywhere, though.

When we got home, we got to unload this:
Yes, I am now the proud owner of a piano! My parents let me have theirs since neither of them plays. We almost gave up on bringing it back when we found out it would be over $400 to get a hitch installed and rent a trailer. However, our preacher generously offered to let us use his minivan to haul it. In spite of everyone's doubts, it fit easily in the minivan and wasn't too terrible to load or unload (not that I lifted a finger!). I can't get over how nice it was of our preacher and his wife to let us drive their van to Texas and back. Plus, he shoveled our driveway while we were gone and helped us unload the piano. We're so grateful! Now I just have to practice. I'm pretty rusty.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

4 Christmases

Well, Darby and I are nearing the end of our whirlwind Christmas trip. We have had so much fun. I only wish we could stay longer. We left Champaign on Wednesday morning and drove to Searcy, Arkansas, for Christmas with Darby's mom's side of the family. We had the party at a beautiful building at Harding University. Here's the whole gang:
Thursday morning, we headed for Dallas. That was an exciting trip to say the least. It had rained over 8 inches in the previous 24 hours, and we had to drive through incredibly high, rushing water on the Interstate. And just to show I'm not exaggerating, here's a few pictures of the access road and surrounding area, just before we got to the water covering the Interstate:

They used this boat to rescue an older man from his house.

I feel sorry for the poor people who had their cars at this garage.

And did I mention that we were driving a borrowed minivan? Yeah . . . fun times. But, we made it to Dallas. And just in time. About an hour after we arrived, they shut down many of the highways because of ice.

We enjoyed Christmas with my mom's side of the family. Ate way too much, played some crazy games of Catch Phrase and quoted The Office incessantly.

Girl frousins

Boy frousins

On Friday evening, it was back to Waco for Christmas with Darby's immediate family, then Christmas with my immediate family on Saturday. Today we're relaxing before we attempt to load up my parent's piano in the minivan! (And when I say we, I mean Darby, my brother, Darby's dad, and my dad; I'll be staying out of the way with my mom.) Tomorrow, it's on to Abilene to see Em and her new baby Lily, and then back to the frigid North. Hopefully the drive back will be much less eventful than the drive down was.

Hope you all had very merry Christmases!

Monday, December 21, 2009


Darby and I started the tradition last year of going on a little trip to celebrate the end of the fall semester, so we went to Indianapolis this past weekend. It was a lot of fun, despite the cold snowy/drizzly weather. We stayed in the Westin downtown. I had gotten a really good deal on the hotel through Hotwire. I must say, though, if I had paid full price for our room, I would have been pretty ticked. The lobby of the hotel was gorgeous, but the halls and rooms were a little dingy and dated. It looked like a sloppy renovation of a less nice hotel. Oh, well. The room was pretty big, and at least they had free Starbucks coffee.

On Saturday we went to the Indianapolis Art Museum (which was amazing and FREE!) and the zoo. They have a "Christmas at the Zoo" thing in December with all kinds of lights and music. There are a lot of indoor exhibits, so we still enjoyed ourselves despite the snow.

In the "Oceans" exhibit, they had a tank full of sharks you could pet. I was too scared (even though there were parents dangling their toddlers over the edge to touch the sharks), but Darby did it. Here he is in action. So brave! :)

Other than that, we just ate at a lot of good restaurants and relaxed. It was so nice to have a whole weekend to spend together since the past couple of months have been busy with schoolwork for Darby and holiday stuff for both of us.

One funny story from the weekend: Darby and I went straight to a restaurant when we got in Friday night around 7:30 p.m. The restaurant was nearly empty and they started cleaning up while we were eating. We thought it was kind of weird that a restaurant would close at 8, but just chalked it up to it being a small local place. When we got to our hotel, we noticed that the clock in our room was an hour ahead, so we changed it back. The next morning, we slept in, ate breakfast, and went to the art museum. We got there about 11:45. Several staff members told us about a tour that was starting at 1 p.m. We thought it was strange that they were pushing the tour so hard when it was only 11:45. Then, we get up to the floor where the tour is taking place, and it is just starting. At that moment, Darby and I both look at each other and realize that it is 1 p.m. Indiana is in a different time zone than Illinois. Duh! I'm not sure how we ignored all the signs, especially the clock in our room. I'm really glad we noticed before we left, so we didn't get a late check-out fee!

Friday, December 18, 2009

One week

I cannot believe Christmas is a week from today! December has gone by so fast. It seems there's never enough time to do all of the "Christmasy" things I want to do. Maybe this is why people start celebrating right after Halloween! I really wanted to bake sugar cookies this year because it was so fun last year. I don't think that's going to happen, though. Darby and I are going to Indianapolis this weekend (which I'm really excited about; it just doesn't leave much time for cookie baking). However, instead of thinking about all the things I didn't get to do, I'm going to be thankful for the things I did do.

  1. Admired the Christmas tree. Darby's really good about remembering to plug the lights in, so we look at it every morning and every night.
  2. Went to 3 Christmas parties—one for Darby's lab, one for our college group at church, and at our friends' house.
  3. Listened to Christmas music. Both Amazon and iTunes were offering free downloads of Christmas samplers, so I loaded up my iPod.
  4. Made Christmas treats—red velvet cupcakes with peppermint cream cheese frosting, M&M popcorn, and toffee. Toffee is something my mom makes every year, but I've never made it on my own (without her supervision). My first batch was pretty good but not as good as mom's. I'm making several more batches for gifts next week, so hopefully I'll improve. When my siblings and I were little, we loved "helping" mom, by spreading the chocolate on top of the toffee because when we were done we got to lick the spoon. Licking the spoon is still quite fun as an adult. :)
  5. Went to a Christmas church program. One of Darby's co-workers was singing in a Christmas program at Twin Cities Bible Church. It was a beautiful program and I love singing Christmas carols. I really wish our church foucsed on Christmas more. It's always so neat when I visit other churches. It's very difficult to focus on the reason for the season when it's barely mentioned at church, the one place you would think you would focus on it.

And, of course, I'm so excited about all of our family Christmas celebrations coming up. It will be kind of a whirlwind trip, but I'm so happy we're able to go and spend time with so many people. We are missing Christmas with my dad's side of the family. :( But, I think 4 Christmases and a baby shower is pretty good for 6 days (including 30 hours of driving)!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

An early Christmas gift

My Christmas gift from Darby came in the mail on Friday! We had already decided that I could just open it up as soon as it came because I was so excited. It's one of those Shiatsu massage cushions. The two little balls at the bottom move up and down your back. It also has heat. It's awesome! On Friday night, I sat in it for like four 15-minute cycles. (That was a mistake; my back was really sore on Saturday. But that didn't stop me from sitting in it again!) I LOVE it!

I realized I never got around to posting more of my favorite ornaments. (And I'm sure you were all waiting on the edge of your seat.) Here they are:

This is the one we got in Santa Fe. I really debated about buying this once since it's not really "Christmasy," but I do think it's pretty and represents Santa Fe well.

One of my aunts (I can't remember which one!) gave this to us the year we got married. You can't tell from the picture but it's very shiny and glittery.

My "s'mornament" from my mom. I don't know why, but I think these guys are the cutest things ever.

Another one from Darby's mom. So cute! And it's very similar to our wedding cake topper. (It wasn't bears, but it was the groom holding the bride, and her veil was made of fabric.)

My grandpa made a lot of ornaments before he died (when I was 3). This is one he made specifically for me. It has a stocking with a "K" on it. I was trying to get more than just the stocking in the picture, so it's kind of hard to tell.

My mom gave us this Starbucks ornament because Darby and I have always loved going to Starbucks together.

Of course, no tree of mine would be complete without a Hello Kitty ornament. :)

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Darby and I actually put our tree up several weeks ago, but I'm just now getting around to taking pictures of it. I love our tree! I think it is the perfect combination of pretty and sentimental. Not all of our ornaments match, but we do have a predominantly red/silver theme. That will change as we get more and more personal ornaments, I'm sure. I'd much rather have ornaments that mean something than a tree that's perfectly coordinated anyway. Below are a couple of my favorite ornaments. I have a few more favorites, but Blogger is not letting me upload them right now. Grr... I'll try to post them in a separate post later.

Darby's mom gives us an ornament every year. I think she gave us this one the year we got engaged? We dressed up as the King and Queen of Hearts for Halloween (for several years), so this was so perfect for us.

Darby and I got this ornament in Niagara Falls on our honeymoon. I just thought it was so beautiful. That started the tradition of getting an ornament every place we go on vacation. Unfortunately, that has proved a little difficult. We have ornaments for Santa Fe and Springfield (vacation being a loose term!), but we didn't find one in Chicago or Nashville. I know we'll be back to Chicago again, but I might have to order a Nashville one online.