Tuesday, June 28, 2011

26 before 26 update

So, now that my birthday's over, I decided I better check to see how well I did on my goals. I totally completed 16 of them, and sort of completed or am in progress on 7 of them. I think that's decent. Setting goals really does help me accomplish more than I would otherwise. For example, after I got up to running about 2 miles, I really wanted to quit and just go back to using the elliptical. I expressed this wish to Darby and told him, "I wish I had never made that goal." I thought maybe he would say something like, "Well, just forget about it." Instead, he said, "Well, that's the reason you make goals, right? To push yourself?" Grrr...I hate it when my husband tries to make me a better person. :) So, I kept going up to 3 miles, and, even though I still don't like running, I'm glad I did it.

I'm going to do something slightly different for my next set of goals. I'm getting too old to continue with a goal for every year! So, I'm working on a list of "30 before 30." That way, I'll have four years to accomplish them and can set some goals that would be difficult to accomplish in only one year.
  1. Finish couch-to-5K.
  2. Take and pass at least one of my seven comprehensive exams.
  3. Finish my shelf of unread books. But I started all over again with more books. :)
  4. Lose 5 lbs. and maintain it. I lost 10!
  5. Take at least 100 pictures. I definitely took over 100 pictures. Not all of them were good, but I did better than I usually do, I think.
  6. Finish my one-year Bible.
  7. Make it through my housecleaning checklist. Nope. I'm still trying to plow through it this summer.
  8. Make cheese. I don't know why I never got around to this. I still want to do it.
  9. Come up with at least 2 healthy vegetarian meals that Darby and I actually enjoy. Well, I tried a couple, but they weren't big hits. I have a couple more bookmarked to try.
  10. Start my personal Happiness Project. I didn't do this because I was feeling so much happier anyway. But now I'm a little bit down, so I think I might tackle it.
  11. Go to three events at the U of I.
  12. Make crepes. It took me a while to get the hang of flipping them, but once I did, it was fun, and they turned out well.
  13. Reduce our monthly gift budget. It's hard to tell. So far this year we're doing well, but November and December are the true tests.
  14. Go to St. Louis (for real this time). We made a brief layover in St. Louis on our train trip, but we're going back in a couple of weeks to meet up with Carolyn and Josh, who live in Kansas City.
  15. Save an average of 25% on every grocery shopping trip. My average was 33%.
  16. Take a Spanish class. I took two!
  17. Make homemade tortillas. Not yet, but I did bookmark a promising recipe. :)
  18. Initiate plans with friends twice per month.
  19. Whittle "to try" recipes saved online to 200 (currently at 272). I'm down to 189.
  20. Redesign my blog.
  21. Read 3 faith-related books.
  22. Plan an event for our college group.
  23. Stay in better touch with my sister and brother. I think I did a little better, but this is an ongoing goal.
  24. Watch at least 4 football games on TV.
  25. Become a Conversation Partner.
  26. Spend no more than 1 hour per day on the Internet (unless it's for work, school, or personal finance reasons). Ha! This was kind of a bust, but I'm still trying.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Texas Trip - Dallas and Waco

The rest of our Texas trip was awesome, as well. We flew from Champaign to Dallas on Monday. Hannah picked us up at the airport, and we hung out with her for a little while before going over to eat lunch and visit with Grandma and Aunt Katina. That evening, we went to dinner and spent the night with Darby's brother Jeremy and sister-in-law Janice.

On Tuesday, Jeremy drove us to Waco, and we spent the next few days with Darby's parents. Debby spoiled us with many delicious meals, and we had fun playing games and watching Super 8.

After we got back from Abilene, we celebrated birthdays/Father's Day with both of our families. As usual, we were spoiled with lots of great gifts.
John, Darby, Debby

Me and Hannah

The awesome s'mores cheesecake Mom made me. It was sooo good!

Hannah was able to stay in Waco the whole time we were at my parents' house. We discovered our mutual love for the Wii game Just Dance. After we went to Jazzercise with Mom, we showed off our moves for Darby. :)

Matt had to work, but he was able to come to town for one evening. We convinced the boys to join us in Just Dance. Check out that coordination!
I didn't get any pictures of my dad, but I promise he was there! He even took off work on Monday, so we could all spend the day together, which was awesome.

On Wednesday, Mom drove us to the airport. On the way, we stopped to see not one, but two precious newborn babies. My childhood friend, Whitney, had given birth to her son, Finn, a week earlier. I had told Whitney to tell Finn to come early so I could see him while I was in Texas, and he obeyed! It was so great to see Whitney and Clint and to hold sweet Finn. Unfortunately, we were having such a good time that I forgot to get any pictures! :( You'll just have to take my word that Finn is adorable.

Our next stop was at Amy and Matthew's to meet our newest red-headed frousin, Samuel. It was only his second day at home, and he was tuckered out from staying up all night the previous night. ;) So, he let us hold him for a long time while he got a much-needed nap. We hope that didn't ruin his sleep for the coming night!

Mom telling Samuel to be a good boy and let Amy and Matthew sleep

Samuel telling me that I'm his favorite frousin

I am so thankful it worked out for me to meet both of the babies. I know Whitney and Clint and Amy and Matthew are going to be wonderful parents, and I'm so excited for them.

After spending so much time with family, it was really hard to come back. Even though I know we are blessed to see our family as much as we do, it's still hard to miss out on all of the little trips for birthdays, baby showers, etc. It seems like every time we go home, there are always so many people to see and so little time. I'm thankful that our families are so flexible and really try to work with our schedules, so that we can see everyone for at least a little while.

I was pretty down when we got back on Wednesday night. But, after enjoying time with friends this weekend (and enjoying the 30-degree cooler weather), I'm coming out of my funk. Yes, I would still love to be closer to family, but we do have a great life here, as well. Plus, we don't have to wait very long to see family again. John and Debby are coming to visit in about a month!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fat Tuesday Reunion

The primary reason for the timing of our Texas trip (although we would have certainly gone sometime during the summer) was a reunion with my 5 best girlfriends from college---the Fat Tuesday group. We met at Emerald's house in Abilene and had a great time eating at some of our favorite Abilene restaurants, exploring the many new additions to ACU, playing with the two newest members of our group (Lily, 21 months, and Shepherd, 8 months), and talking, talking, talking.

Although I've seen all the members of the group at various times over the last several years, we hadn't all been together since the summer of 2008. Many things have changed since then (namely, we've gained one husband and two babies), so we really needed to catch up. I'm hoping this is something we can make an annual tradition.

Me and Lily. She took a little while to warm up to me, but by the end of the weekend I think we were pretty good buddies. She's such a petite little thing, but she sure knows what she wants. Lily bosses people around in this tiny voice, and it's hilarious. But, seriously, she is such a sweet, smart little girl, and it was so fun to watch Em be such a good mom to her.

The whole gang (Lily, Emerald, Erin, Kalyn, Shepherd, Carolyn, Brittany, and me). I think it's pretty amazing that we were able to get everyone with their eyes open and looking at the camera except for Shep.

Lily's suspicious of Carolyn. :)

Miraculously, someone got Shep to laugh at the exact moment the picture was being taken. I wish I could take credit for that grin, but it wasn't me. I'm in love with this little boy. All he wanted to do was crawl around, but I kept picking him up and making him let me hold him. :) One day, I was kissing him on the cheek, and he turned around and gave me a peck on the lips. It was so cute! I just about died.

Erin and Britt enjoying dessert at Cypress Street Station

And what would a Fat Tuesday reunion be without a cake? Erin is a girl after my own heart. We walked into McKay's for a little snack and walked out with this deliciousness. Yummmmm.

Lily enjoying a little bit of Em's dessert. When I'm a mom, my child will have to order her own dessert. :)

While I was having my "girl time," Darby had a little mini-reunion with two of his closest friends from ACU. On Sunday, we were able to visit Westgate together. It was so wonderful to see everyone. We miss Westgate soooo much. Several people there are trying to convince us to move back to Abilene when Darby graduates. And, in fact, the big news is that ACU is starting an engineering program, so we'll see. . . . In all seriousness, I don't think we'll go back to Abilene, at least not right away, but I NEVER thought we'd live in Illinois, so I'm not ruling out the possibility. I cannot tell you how excited I would be if that happened. When I was at ACU, I loved it, but I never thought I'd want to live in Abilene. Now that I'm gone, I really appreciate what a neat community it is. At least, if we don't live there, we know we'll always have friends and family there who will welcome us and give us an excuse to eat our beloved Sharky's burritos!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Feels like home

We're back in Texas for a 10-day vacation. Already, we've spent time with both sets of parents, my sister, my grandma and Aunt Katina, Darby's brother Jeremy and sister-in-law Janice, and my Aunt Lea. And we've still got many more friends and family to visit! My favorite thing about coming to Texas is seeing family, of course. But there's so many other little things that just make this place feel like home.
  • Chatting with every cashier and waiter
  • Late sunsets
  • That nearly suffocating feeling of getting in the car after it's been sitting in the 102-degree heat for a couple of hours (yes, believe it or not, I actually kind of miss this. It's strangely comforting.)
  • Going for walks and waving at every car that drives by
  • The abundance of pickup trucks
  • Coke and Dr. Pepper as the drinks of choice (not Pepsi...yuck!)
I have never bought into the idea that people outside of the South are rude. In our experience, we've encountered wonderful people in Illinois and other places we've traveled. However, I can't deny that people in the South are at least superficially friendlier. I'm no longer accustomed to talking with strangers in the checkout line or saying Hi to people as you pass them walking. I miss that.

Before we left Texas, I really didn't know how much I'd miss it. I knew I'd miss my family, but I didn't think I was too attached to the state itself. Well, I was wrong. I'm a Texan through and through. I really hope Darby and I will be able to move back after we finish school, but, if that doesn't happen, I'll always eagerly anticipate our trips "home."

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Happy early birthday to me!

On our way back from Madison, we stopped at IKEA to pick up my birthday present. I had seen this table and chairs when we were there in March and decided I wanted to ask for it for my birthday. Now, I just have to cross my fingers that my parents actually get it for me. ;)

We haven't eaten on it yet because it's been incredibly hot and humid, but I look forward to enjoying lots of meals on it this summer and fall.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Darby and I spent the Memorial Day holiday in Madison, WI. We're trying to take little road trips to some of the cities around here before we move. We don't want to move away and think, "Why didn't we ever go there?"

Madison is a beautiful town. It has a really neat university area that runs into downtown. And there's so much free stuff. We visited two art museums, the zoo, and the botanical gardens, and all were free. Of course, we made up for that by eating tons of great food. On Saturday night, we went to a place called Monty's Blue Plate Diner. It served breakfast and dinner. Darby couldn't make up his mind about what to get, so we decided to go again for breakfast the next day!

Darby with his Donut French Toast. Yes, it's exactly what you think---french toast made with donuts. Darby said it was delicious. I couldn't bring myself to get it...stupid Weight Watchers. ;)

The downtown area. We went on an "ice cream social" cruise of the lake. As you can see, the weather wasn't the greatest, but the all-you-can-eat ice cream more than made up for it.

A pretty view of the lake from the Botanical Gardens.

Me and D at the Botanical Gardens

The State Capitol Building

It was a wonderful weekend. Both of us really needed a relaxing trip to decompress from the semester. And now we can cross another neighboring state off the list. Next up: Michigan?