Thursday, June 28, 2012

What Makes My World Go 'Round

My friend Kalyn was recently asked, "What makes your world go 'round?" for an art show application. She encouraged her blog readers to answer the same question. So, here's my list:

What makes your world go 'round?
  • The 15 minutes Darby and I spend catching up on our days after I pick him up from the lab
  • Holding babies
  • Playing games with my parents, brother, and sister
  • Eating cookie dough from the bowl
  • The bittersweet feeling of finishing a good book
  • Remembering silly inside jokes from high school
  • Custard Cup - duh!
  • Sunday afternoon naps
  • Long talks with friends 
  • The excitement of the first day of school  
  • My grandma's homemade Chex Mix and strawberry bread and Christmas candy . . .
  • Exploring new cities
  • Monthly e-mails from my college girlfriends
  • The first cool day of fall
  • Frousin "taditions"
  • Enjoying my daily bowl of oatmeal and cup of coffee with Darby
  • Real mail in the mailbox
  • Fields of bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush (miss this so much)
  • Trying new recipes
  • Being called by one of my nicknames - KK, KJ, Kaykey
What about you? What makes your world go 'round?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

30 before 30 update

I had a wonderful 27th birthday that started off right with a French toast breakfast prepared by Darby and included phone calls, cards, and Facebook messages from so many friends and family, a delicious dinner at Destihl, and, of course, presents. I'm not ashamed to admit that I still get really excited about opening birthday presents. I was good this year and waited to open (almost) all of them until my actual birthday. Perhaps the best gift I received was the news that my sister is coming to visit in a couple of weeks! This is such a welcome surprise; I'm happy I don't have to wait too long for her to get here!

I feel like my birthday is a good time to give an update on my 30 before 30 goals. Completed goals are in bold, and in progress goals are in italics. With 3 years left, I feel like I'm doing pretty well. 
1. Get my master's degree
2. Earn a graduate teacher certificate
3. Take at least two Spanish classes
4. Begin studying two other languages (Started Italian)

5. Learn to sew
6. Create a card stockpile
7. Start a successful container garden
8. Take piano lessons

9. Save 10% down for a house
10. Increase retirement savings to 10% of our income per month (I'm up to about 5% from nothing.)
11. Increase percent saved on groceries each month to 40% (I'm up to 35%).
12. Get life insurance for both Darby and me

13. Go to Italy
14. Visit 3 new states (We're going to Iowa for a wedding in July.)
15. Go camping

16. Learn how to cook steak (This was easier than I thought. The secret: buy a good steak. :) Who knew?)
17. Take a cake decorating class
18. Completely replace 3 storebought staples with homemade versions (I've replaced salsa, and I'm working on chicken broth.)
19. Whittle "to try" recipes to under 100 (I feel like this is one step forward and two steps back sometimes.)

20. Switch to antibiotic-free animal products (I've switched to organic milk and eggs, and I'm working on beef. I'll post more about this sometime.)
21. Maintain my goal weight (except, see 23 below)
22. Take four different fitness classes (I did KickFit with Mica last semester. It was awesome!)

23. Have a baby (I know this is really weird to put at as a "goal," but it is one major thing I hope to do before I turn 30, so it's in.)
24. Go on a trip with my sister

25. Create two new units for the Cradle Roll class
26. Teach an older children/adult Bible class (Darby and I are teaching an adult Bible class in the fall. I'm still a little shocked that someone okayed our plan, but we're going for it. We'll see what happens . . . )
27. Read 18 spiritual books.

28. Plan/attend three Fat Tuesday reunions (We have one planned for SingSong in February.)
29. Plan/attend at least two reunions with my high school friends (We have one planned for September!)
30. Start/join a book club

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Why I'm Not Daddy's Little Princess

I really dislike the term that you often see emblazoned on onesies and bibs: "Daddy's little princess." I love my dad, but I've just never related to that stereotypical representation of the father/daughter relationship.

My dad didn't give me everything I wanted. He gave me a lot, and then he sat down with me and taught me how to budget and save for everything else.

My dad didn't rescue me from every difficult situation. Instead, he gave me advice about what I could do to solve the problem. When I needed to learn the hard way, he let me.

My dad didn't emphasize appearance. I believe that he thinks I'm beautiful. But it's much more important to me that he thinks I'm smart, capable, and talented.

I didn't have my dad "wrapped around my finger." My dad didn't (and doesn't) always agree with me. He taught me that it was ok to disagree and showed how to disagree in a loving way (I'm still working on that one...).

In many ways, I am a lot like my dad. And in many other ways, I hope to be like him. He has been a great example throughout my life.  He doesn't treat me like a delicate princess. He loves me unconditionally, but he also challenges me and respects me. And I am so grateful for that.

Me looking like a munchkin in Dad's shirt.

Playing with the girls. Ah, the good old days before Matt was born. Kidding!!
All the kiddos
Me and Dad in May 2011

Monday, June 11, 2012

May Books

I'm a little late with this update because there was just too much other fun stuff to post about. :) I didn't get as much reading done as I thought I would this month because the flight to Italy had tons of movies and TV shows to watch.

Erasing Hell: What God Said about Eternity, and the Things We've Made Up by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle
This book (and two others by Chan) was offered for free on the Kindle, and the title intrigued me, so I decided to try it out. It is a response to the book Love Wins by Rob Bell, which caused quite a stir in the Christian community because of its support of the universalist view of salvation. I haven't read Bell's book, but I intend to. I thought this book made some good points; however, I did not like the premise. Chan (who did all of the writing) pretends that he is approaching the topic of hell (its existence and nature) from a completely unbiased perspective, simply looking at what is said about it in the Bible. However, it is impossible to read any text (including the Bible) free of bias. Your beliefs, life experience, and previous reading of the text will always influence your view. This is why 100 different people can read the same passage of Scripture and come up with different interpretations. Chan also admits that Sprinkle did almost all of the research for the book, but they agreed to write it in Chan's "voice." This seems suspicious to me. If you're not going to do the research, I don't believe you should write the book.

The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
This coming-of-age story about a precocious 13-year-old boy who becomes famous after a series of marine biology discoveries was quite heartwarming, if a little bit strange. The main character was very likable, and I particularly enjoyed reading about his friendship with his elderly neighbor. A sweet, pretty quick read. 

Galileo's Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith, and Love by Dava Sobel
This was another Kindle Daily Deal, and my reading of it coincided nicely with our trip to Italy. We went to a museum devoted to Galileo, and it was so cool to see some of the stuff I had read about. The book gives an overview of Galileo's life but focuses especially on his relationship with his eldest daughter (Suor Maria Celeste, a nun), who he kept up very regular correspondence with throughout his life. The devotion of Maria Celeste to her father was touching. It was sad to read about the punishment Galileo endured from the church for his writings, when he actually was a faithful believer. Unlike many in his day (and ours), he did not believe science and faith were in opposition, and his view of the role of the Bible as a spiritual guide rather than scientific document was ahead of its time. I really enjoyed finding out more about a person that I had only been introduced to briefly in high school history classes. 

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp
I had heard a lot of good things about this book, and I've seen quotes from it everywhere. So when it was offered for $2.99 on the Kindle, I decided to get it. The author was challenged by a friend to make a list of 1,000 blessings, and this book is her meditation on that process. The blessings she records are not the "big" things (family, health, etc.) but the seemingly ordinary things (e.g., "morning shadows across old floors," "jam piled high on the toast," "mail in the mailbox"). She comes to the conclusion that the only way to live fully in the moment is to recognize each moment for what it is---a blessing, She also finds that thankfulness helps her overcome her doubts and gives her greater ability to accept the difficult things in life. This was a very inspirational book. Ann's writing style is incredibly lyrical, and I found that I didn't want to put the book down. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Post-Italy Fun

One of the reasons it wasn't hard to come home from Italy is that we had a lot of time with family and friends to look forward to. After we got back, we spent a few days in Waco, mainly at Darby's parents' house. We hadn't seen John and Debby since Christmas, so it was wonderful to spend time with them. As usual, Debby spoiled us with wonderful food. I think I gained more weight in the 3 days in Waco than I did in the 9 days in Italy. :)

The timing worked out perfectly so that we were able to celebrate both my Dad and Hannah's birthdays. Matt and Tori came in from Abilene, so the whole family was together.

Dad opening his gifts

Darby modeling the leather belt we got for Hannah in Florence.
Hannah showing off her new ring.
The trade-off for going to Italy is that we won't be taking a long trip to Texas this summer. So we had to get our fill in the short time we had. :(

When we got back to Illinois, Austin and Erin (who now live in France) came into town for Austin to take his prelim. It was so good to see them. Coincidentally, our friend Katy (who now lives in CA) was also visiting with her 5-month-old daughter, Ansley. We all got to hang out together, and it was just like old times. (Plus an adorable baby, so even better than old times!) I didn't manage to take any pictures of Ansley yet (I've been too busy holding her), but Katy's here for another 10 days, so I'll be sure to get one.

Austin and Erin arrived just in time to see Daniel and Liz before they moved to Long Island. We were able to have one final Champaign-Urbana ACU get-together at Le Peep. We were so sad to see Daniel and Liz go, but we know they're going to do so well in New York.

The two weeks we've been back in town have been filled with get-togethers with friends. I love summer.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Speaking Up

I have debated for a long time (read: years) writing a post about why I am an egalitarian (i.e., I believe women and men are equal and should be able to have the same roles in the church and the home) as opposed to a complementarian (i.e., those who believe men and women have separate roles and that women should submit to men's leadership in the church and the home). I have hesitated for many reasons: (1) I am afraid of offending people; (2) I can't adequately put into words all that I think and feel about this topic; and (3) I'm ashamed that this is even still an issue in the church.

But, I can no longer resist writing about this topic. This week, Rachel Held Evans, one of my favorite bloggers, is doing a series called "One in Christ: A Week of Mutuality," which aims to make a case for egalitarianism based on Scripture, reason, and tradition. It has been incredible. I highly recommend the whole series, but particularly these posts:

4 Common Misconceptions about Egalitarianism
Dan [Rachel's husband] on Roles, Leadership, and Supporting Your Partner
Who's Who among Biblical Women Leaders
For the Sake of the Gospel, Let Women Speak

I realize that I am biased, as I already believed in Rachel's position before reading her posts, but I truly believe she makes a logical, Scripture-based argument for the equality of women and men in the home and church (and other areas of society, although this does not seem to be contested by most evangelicals). I don't think I can add much to the series, as she's said everything I would say (and more), but with much more eloquence. I will make one point, though:

I have often heard the following sentiment expressed by church-goers: We know women should be allowed to have the same roles as men, but we can't change our practices because we don't want to offend our members who believe differently. I believe there is a huge flaw in this line of reasoning. It assumes that there are two options: (1) continue on the current path and some people might be inconvenienced but not hurt or (2) change paths and hurt a lot of people. There is no recognition of the fact that the church's current practices are hurting women now. To let a practice we know is harmful continue just to avoid offending someone is wrong. I have been convicted by this series that I need to renew my efforts to encourage positive change in the church tradition I'm part of. And, I've been reminded that there are many other like-minded Christians out there, which is incredibly encouraging.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Italy Days 8 & 9: Bologna and back to Rome

We had decided to go to Bologna because it is supposed to have some of the best food in the country. Also, our guide book recommended the town in general. Well, it was a bit of a disappointment. Yes, the food was very good, but the food all over Italy was good. And there really just wasn't much to see in the town. Additionally, it was not a tourist town, so we felt a little out of place and had some difficulty getting by with our extremely limited Italian. On the bright side, the bed and breakfast we stayed at was very charming, and the owner or manager was very nice. He was a middle-aged, stocky Italian man who was always running around frantically and sweating. He didn't seem like your typical B&B proprietor, but he sure made a good breakfast. If we had it to do over again, we would have just stayed another day in Venice. But, I'm content with one "just ok" day compared to 8 awesome days.

 Neptune's Fountain in Bologna. I didn't realize there was a kid sitting there; that makes me look like a creeper.

We went back to Rome for our last night before flying back. We had decided to splurge on a little nicer hotel room since it was our last night, and it was well worth the price for the bed. It was the only truly comfortable bed we slept in the whole time. We walked down to Castel Sant'Angelo and across the Tiber River. Then we enjoyed a final delicious dinner and, of course, a final gelato.

It was such a wonderful trip. I feel like we had a really good balance of seeing a lot of sights but also taking time to relax and just enjoy being on vacation. Yes, there were a few minor hiccups, but I don't think any trip is ever perfect. The whole time Darby and I just couldn't stop thinking about how lucky we were to be there. I highly recommend it to anyone as a vacation destination.

As great as it was, I can't say I was too sad to come home. I love routine too much to ever be one of those people who travels for months at a time (not to mention the fact that 10 days is about our budget limit). It was a wonderful way to celebrate our 5th anniversary (a little early), and, whether we're in Italy or Illinois, I feel incredibly blessed to be married to Darby.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Italy Days 6-7: Venice

 Sites Seen
Maria Gloriosa dei Frari

San Rocco
This was a guild house and consisted of a school and church. The school was amazing...beautiful ceilings and paintings. No pictures allowed on the inside, though. :( 

The Genius of da Vinci Museum
We just stumbled across this museum when we left San Rocco. It had models of many of da Vinci's inventions that you could operate/climb on. I loved it!

St. Mark's Square and Basilica
This is the main attraction in Venice, and the square is very impressive. Unfortunately, it was cold and rainy the day we went, so we couldn't spend too much time walking around and enjoying the view. 

These statues actually move and hit the bell on the hour. It was cool. 

Palazzo Ducale
This palace was the home of the medieval Venice doges (kind of like kings of Venice) and also the seat of government. I didn't know Venice had such an interesting history. We thought this was one of the most beautiful buildings in Italy (which is saying a lot). Darby really enjoyed the display of all of the medieval weapons.

Ponte Rialto

Lessons Learned
  • If you're traveling by train on the weekend, buy your tickets early so you don't end up with seats in two different cars. 
  • If it's raining, just go ahead and invest the 5 euros in an umbrella, instead of waiting until you're soaked, then buying one. 
  • Do not try to subsist on only a croissant until 2:30 p.m., especially when you have been walking since 9 a.m. Well, at least if you're me. Darby seemed to do ok, but I had a major meltdown. 

Favorite Memories
  • Eating our giant "individual-sized" pizzas. 
  • A pigeon pooping on Darby's head while we were waiting in line for the Palazzo Ducale. I couldn't help laughing, but Darby was not amused. After several hours, though, he was able to quit pouting and joke about it. 
  • Meeting a couple from Boston who were looking "to make lifelong friends in Italy." They got my e-mail address, but I haven't heard from them yet. Hmmm...
  • Walking through the streets (when it wasn't raining). You hear about how crazy the streets in Venice are, but you just can't understand until you've experienced it. It can be frustrating, but if you just go with it and enjoy getting lost, it can be quite fun. And, especially after the craziness of Rome and Florence, it's amazing to experience the quietness of some of the little alleys and bridges.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Italy Days 3-5: Florence

Florence was hands-down our favorite city. It is beautiful and so easy to navigate. We got everywhere by walking. It was less busy than Rome, and it was so fun just to walk around and admire all of the beautiful churches, occasionally stopping in to a little shop. We also absolutely loved the little hotel we stayed in; all of the staff members were so nice, and it was in a great location. We had planned to take a day trip from Florence to Lucca, but we loved Florence so much we just decided to stay there.

Sites Seen
Il Duomo
This was so beautiful, and the pictures definitely don't do it justice. We walked by it several times a day and were always gawking at it. 

The Baptistery
This ceiling was gorgeous. It was illustrated with Biblical stories, and Darby and I spent a long time identifying each story. 

Piazza della Signoria 
This plaza is home to a lot of statues, including a copy of the famous David statue. The real David is in an art gallery. We didn't feel like paying for tickets, so we decided the copy was good enough for us. :)

Palazzo Vecchio

Uffizi Gallery
This art gallery was huge and had tons of famous pieces. But, I think I've decided that art museums are a little like gardening for me. I want to be the type of person who likes art museums (and gardening), but, in reality, I'm not. I love other types of museums, but I don't have enough knowledge about art to truly appreciate it.

Piazza Santa Croce

Galileo Museum
We just happened to see this museum and thought it sounded interesting. It had a bunch of different scientific instruments (some belonging to Galileo), and it was actually interesting to me. The collection was very well-curated. Plus, I had just read a book about Galileo, Galileo's Daughter, so it was really cool to see some of the things I had read about.

Ponte Vecchio

Piazza Santa Maria Novella, etc.
I think we went to every piazza in Florence (and there were A LOT). It was fun to people-watch. 

Pitti Palace/Boboli Gardens

Piazzale Michelangelo
We had heard that this piazza offered the best view of Florence. I think that fact should have clued us in to the fact that the piazza would be on top of a very large hill, but we were oblivious. After huffing and puffing our way to the top, we did enjoy a pretty nice view. But, it might have been worth it to take the bus.

Lessons Learned
  • Trains in Italy have assigned seats. You'd think we might have noticed this the first time someone told us to move because we were in their seats. But, no, it took us about 3 times to realize all seats are assigned.
  • Walking through the Boboli Gardens is more of a garden hike than a garden stroll. 
  • If you are going to climb up a huge hill to enjoy the best view of the city, check the weather beforehand to make sure you won't get rained on the whole time you're up there. 
Favorite Memories
  • The waiter bringing out Darby's HUGE raw steak for him to approve before cooking it. That was the biggest steak I've ever seen. We ended up sharing it, and it was delicious. 
  • Buying a leather jacket for Darby from a street vendor. The guy was very nice and told us he'll be moving to Texas with his family soon. He was a little worried, though, because there are "so many guns in Texas." And, Americans always say Italy is dangerous! :) 
  • Seeing Il Duomo for the first time. 
  • Eating our huge "appetizer" plate at the wine bar by our hotel.