Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Greetings from San Clemente!

Just a quick update-

We arrived to San Clemente yesterday morning and had a wonderful "Christmas" with James' family. We are pretty exhausted from all our traveling the past weeks, but seeing everyone was well worth it. Christmas was really nice with my family since everyone was able to be there this year. We had yummy dinner and fellowship. We had a chance to see Grandma Taylor and all the cousins as well as alllll of James' families.

More about the holidays later.

May peace be with you and Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To Grandmother's House We Go

Thankful Thursday is coming to an end. Today I am thankful for my job, again. This time I am thankful that I have two weeks off to go spend with old friends and family.

In the week we are in Michigan we will have the following events:
12/17 Counseller walk through, Lansing
12/18 Edgerle holiday get together, Grand Rapids
Spend time with James' brother, Kent, Stanton
12/21 Visit with Leigha, Lansing
12/23 Get together with high school friends, Grand Rapids
12/24 Christmas Eve with the Cullimore aunts and uncles, Perry and Weigel's, Lansing
12/25 Christmas with my immediate family, Spring Lake. Christmas with James' dad?
12/26 Christmas with grandma Taylor etc, Grand Rapids
          drive back to Chicago
12/27 Fly to California!!
          Visit with Kathleen, Alex and Ashleigh, John, friends and James' family. We have a whole long list of 
          places to eat while we're there too. Maybe that will be my next post!

Intermixed in there will be me printing and sending resumes for my internship next fall, Christmas shopping, and just hanging with my sister's kids, Heather, Tina, Diane, and Kim.

I can't wait to be home for a while and really relax, although, it doesn't look like there will be much of that. Pretty soon we are going to work on prioritizing and saying "no". How do you do it all when you really want to? Although I sound very overwhelmed, I truly am thankful we both have so much time off to spend with loved ones.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog Spotlight

I have been so busy at the store and at school (work school, not graduate school) that I haven't had much time to think of things to write about, let alone, sit down and blog. It has been a crazy few weeks. A friend from California is in town on business for a few days so we took our first trip down to Little Italy for dinner. Unfortunately, it was not great. His work friends picked it and now I know I'll have to be more assertive!

So in attempts to blog more I thought I would start to highlight some of the blogs I really love to read. Tonight I present to you, "The Bag Snob: Reviews of  Designer Handbags, Authentic Designer Purses, and Leather Bags". I love this blog because I enjoy seeing the trends in fashion and also who is carrying what. It is also fun to see some of the vintage bags still current.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas is a Feeling

Tonight Kim, a friend from school, and I went to Christmas at DePaul, a free event with a narrator retelling the Christmas story accompanied by a huge choir and orchestra playing Christmas hymns. Last year Kim and I went with her in-laws and it was very beautiful. We both agreed this year's was even better! It was so fun watching the children's chorus signing, moving, and feeling the songs. The church is beautiful, the conductor was fascinating to watch, the atmosphere was so warm and peaceful.

I am thankful that I am a member of the DePaul Community. The University really provides a huge assortment of opportunities for the students and community. This week alone I have been to two events I learned of through DePaul. On Tuesday a different friend and I went to see a screening of the new documentary Race to Nowhere. This movie was pretty interesting, especially for a future counselor, parents, and educators. While the movie definitely has an agenda, and I may not agree with everything, it really makes some valid points.

I need to find more time to blog

Thursday, December 2, 2010


Today I am thankful for Friday. This Friday the kids are not in class and the teachers have professional development. Unfortunately, I don't get to go learn about RtI, instead I will be filing in the records room. I love the kids, but I have been super tired this week. Too many evening activities. Monday was Monday Night Football with the gang, Tuesday I worked at Sur La Table, Wednesday Kim came over and made soup and then we went to kettelbells class with Sara and Kristen. Either the class was really hard, or I just haven't worked out in about a year. I think it was probably a combination of both. Regardless, going up and down the stairs today at work was killer. So was chaperoning the 7th and 8th grade dance! Those things always start off so awkward and end up being stinky. Hello! Hot, sweaty, pubescent 13 and 14 year olds. Gross!

So today, I am thankful that I get to sit in the records room tomorrow and also that those awkward days are over. I guess vodka helps the awkward, self-conscious dancing too! So thanks vodka!

I almost forgot, Friday is pay day! I am sure my mom and James will be thankful for that too, because I owe them money.  :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bamboozled by Health Care

–verb (used with object) 1. to deceive or get the better of (someone) by trickery, flattery, or the like; humbug; hoodwink (often fol. by into)

1.  gyp, dupe, trick, cheat, swindle.  
It's so easy for all you people out there with good jobs and cheap health insurance to hate on the idea of universal health care. Well let me tell you, have a little empathy!

We don't have employee health insurance so we pay almost $500 each a quarter for Aetna Student health. Since I finally paid for it I thought it was far time to have a physical. I just got a "this is not a bill" bill that says I owe almost $400!!! Excuse me? Apparently there is a $300 deductible and routine tests, immunizations or exams are not covered. Why the beep do I have this insurance then?

What really gets me is that doctors never give you an itemized list of what they're going to do to you and how much it is going to cost with your health insurance before they do it. If they told me getting blood drawn and lab work was going to be $150 out of pocket would I have stuck my arm out for them to put a needle in me? Heck no!

How is the medical field the one place where it is acceptable to deliver services to someone without telling them how much it is going to cost and giving the choice to opt out? How is that ok? How is there not legislation about that? When you go out to eat you order off a menu and can see the price and pick accordingly. At the end they don't bring you a bill for $150 for the bread and water they assumed you wanted and put on the table without asking.

I was trying to do the right thing by buying the student health insurance instead of going to a community health clinic and leaching off social services. I am pretty sure I could have gotten a physical and pap smear at a women health clinic for less than $900!!!! I am pretty highly educated compared to the rest of the US population. If I can't navigate insurance, doctors, bills, etc. how can those with a middle school education? How can those who aren't employed, have families, and poor health access health care? If they don't have the personal resources to receive proper care until it's an emergency how can we blame them for driving up the cost of health care for everyone. Why isn't preventative care covered by my $1,800/year policy?!

I'm not asking for anything for free. I'm not saying poor people should have free health care. I do think that health care should be transparent. Health care should be accessible. The system should not be so confusing, frustrating, such a hostile place that even a person with a near masters degree feels completely bamboozled. 

To top off the whole thing, I was told I needed a physical for the new job and when I went to have my paperwork processed I didn't need it after all. Now I have real health insurance and won't need another physical til next year, right about when I'm not working for CPS anymore and will be right back in the same place. One thing is for sure, I will not be purchasing the worthless Aetna Student Health. You can find me at Chicago Women's Health Center.

If, heaven forbid, I lose rolling the dice and get deathly ill, let me die and when I die put this blog post in the paper instead of an obituary.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Turkey Dance

Last night we went bowling with friends and were hoping to do the turkey dance. When we bowl, if you get a turkey you have to do a celebratory turkey dance, you can imagine for yourself what this looks like.

After my first time cooking Thanksgiving dinner, I think a celebratory turkey dance was in order because it went surprisingly well! We had turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, stove top stuffing, cressent rolls, cranberry jello stuff, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and homemade whipped cream. Pam brought the pies and made the sweet potato casserole. She also helped with the turkey and gravy. Everything was delicious and came out at the same time. It was perfect! Of course, there were a few things I would change, but oh well! The turkey finished in 3 hours and was beautifully brown and moist. I am not sure if its success can be attributed to the recipe or the brined TJ's turkey, so I'll just take all the credit myself!

We used my grandmother's china for the first time in the year and a half we've had it. There never seems to be a special enough time to get it down from the top shelf in the pantry. I am going to print and send a picture to her so she can see it's being used and appreciated.

Picture recap:
The bird

Table set and ready for the food!

Ready to dig in

Ready to eat! Yum!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Lord Have Mercy on My Turkey

I have only cooked a whole bird once in my life. It was a chicken and it was wildly unsuccessful. We were living at Villa Sienna in Irvine and had Kelly, James' mom, on the speaker phone giving instructions as I was screaming. It was gross with the neck and other bits. Today is my second attempt at roasting a bird. I am using Ina Garten's recipe. Jame's step-mom, Pam, is here and she helped get the yucky parts out of the bird. Thank goodness.

I may be a bit OCD, but I wanted to make sure everything got done so below are the rest of the day's tasks. We're already ahead by 1 hour. If the recipe is correct with the bird only cooking 3 hours we'll be eating at noon! I am not sure why I didn't trust my gut and wait to put the darn thing in. My biggest fear is that it will be done too soon. So please Lord, have mercy on my turkey!

More recaps to follow after dinner!

James just walked out of the bedroom. I've been up for 2 hours with his parents. Thanks a lot, bf. (Just kidding, I don't really mind a bit)

UPDATE: The turkey came out perfect and that is what I am thankful for today! Happy Thanksgiving! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

On Mawwage, Part V

A long time ago I read a review for this book: One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding and it looked kinda provocative. From what I can tell, the author is a bit cynical about weddings, perhaps it's somewhat appropriate. It talks about how the $161 billion wedding industry is convincing brides they need to have a minimum $30k wedding. The author seems to feel that both brides (or bridezillas) and weddings are out of control with the save the dates, invites, extensive gift registries, showers, bach/bachelorette parties, luncheons, rehearsal dinner, plated and open bar reception, favors, flowers, matching hair and shoes, honeymoon, and the list goes on. When I think about it, she does have a point. Many have been brainwashed to believe they are entitled to this type of wedding and will stop at nothing to get their one perfect day.

But I think weddings are so much fun. I think marriage is sacred, after all, it's one of the sacraments. Sometimes it's true though, out of no where weddings take on a life of their own. We've all seen it. People get stressed, feelings get hurt, and lots of money gets spent (or wasted, depending on how you see it). I know I want to get married. I am not sure if I want a big to do wedding. Some days I think seven bridesmaids; all aunts, uncles, cousins; friends from California, Michigan, Chicago, filet mignon and open bar. Other days I think a small ceremony under a big willow tree would be better. I do know that when my day does come, I want to maintain some sort of outside perspective and remain grounded. Hopefully we remember Teyber and successfully transfer loyalties from our parents to each other. I think we're almost there.

And...I can't end Mawwage week without making a plug for marriage equality. Everyone should have the right to tie the KNOT! Visit whiteknot.org for ways to support the struggle for marriage equality. The wedding industry should start lobbying for marriage equity. Think how much more money they could be making if everyone could get married!

(I sure hope we don't break up tomorrow after this is posted! lol)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Mawwage, Part IV

Still talking about marriage, but more about weddings. And, in case you forgot, today is Thankful Thursday! Today I am thankful for such amazing parents who have been together for 42? years. WHAT?? 42 years! I don't want to make them seem like saints; no one is perfect, but from what I can see, they are pretty much perfect. While I am sure they have had their ups and downs and disagreements I have never once heard them fight or talk to each other in a mean, degrading, unkind tone. This is something I need to work on. I also don't hear them say, "I love you" or show much affection, but that doesn't mean they don't love each other. How humbling it must be for my father to work his entire life to support his wife and children. I hate to share my hard earned money and yet, fathers around the world sign paychecks over to their wives who run the household. Saying "I love you" isn't the only way to show someone how you care for them. Every week my mom makes the same old cookies and cooks them nice and dark just how my dad likes it. She cleans and cooks and makes him be somewhat social. My dad takes on the typical socialized male role of being the main breadwinner and other duties like trash, fixing, yard maintenance, etc.

I do wish we had seen them "fight" while growing up. I think it is important for children and adolescents to have examples of respectful disagreements. It is equally important to see healthy conflict resolution modeled.

I am also thankful that they care enough to want to see me married, and happy, and secure. I am thankful they are willing to help with a wedding, should that day ever come.

So THANK YOU mom and dad for sticking together and being a great example of a loving, caring relationship. And thank you for loving all 4 of us!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Mawwage, Part III

What I have been trying to get at when citing Teyber's text is the importance and symbolism of the wedding. "its central purpose is to publicly mark a transition in loyalty bonds from the parents and family of origin to the new spouse." (Teyber, 2006, p. 203). Now, I am not married, and I have never had premarital counseling, so I don't know if they touch on this. I do know I never would have viewed marriage in that specific way. He goes on to describe the Christian ceremony:

"the father walks the bride down the center aisle to the front of the church...symbolically gives the bride away by placing her hand in the hand of the waiting groom...then leaves the couple by stepping back...and sitting down beside his own wife. The bride and groom, who have now been demarcated physically from the parental geneartion, turn away and step forward to be married...publicly defin[ing] themselves to family and friends as an enduring marital couple."  (Teyber, 2006, p. 204)

Pretty special when you think about it, huh? I always thought this symbolized the father saying, "She's your problem now! Good luck with her shopping habits!" 

Teyber next talks about how the before mentioned parental coalition that has gone wrong plays out in the wedding planning process. The cross-generational alliances find their way into the wedding. These loyalties that have been there since birth, so it's easy to understand why it is so difficult to transfer loyalties from parent to partner. According to Teyber, the conflict over the shift of loyalties is "played out in arguments over who will be invited to the wedding, where it will be held, how it will be conducted, who is financially responsible and so on."(p. 204). Sound familiar anyone? Who doesn't have these issues? Marriage is full of unknowns while you know what to expect from family.

Teyber, E. (2006). Interpersonal process in therapy: An integrative model. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

On Mawwage, Part II

Let me preface this by saying these are just my thoughts, obviously, and interpretations of this book. I could read it tomorrow and have a totally different understanding of it. 

Back to Teyber's book. When I was reading for class I came to this passage and highlighted, starred, and flagged it. I am dead serious too. It really spoke to me. The passage was discussing the parental coalition, which is a fancy way of describing how parents should have a primary bond with each other and secondary bonds with their children. Issues arise when the primary bond is between the parent and a child instead of parent and parent and this will continue into the child's adult life. So all you parents out there think about that.

According to the book, the primary parental coalition develops appropriately when both people in the marriage first were able to "individuate" within their own families of origin, i.e. achieved an authentic sense of own personal identity. Teyber says when in a love relationship both people need to find a new balance of family loyalties. You have to maintain ties and responsibilities towards the previous generation (your parents) and shift primary loyalties and emotional commitment to your partner. You mama's boys out there better suck it up and tell her "no" every now and then. Pick your wife first! And ladies, when you're having a bad day and pick up the phone, call your man, not your mom.

If a both people can't overcome this developmental step then a "primary marital coalition will not develop." (p. 203) and you have a cross-generational alliance. And it gets better! (not!) this alliance is typically passed on to the child of the new couple which results in needing Teyber's help.

This is all just background information for tomorrow's post, and of course, some food for thought! 

Teyber, E. (2006). Interpersonal process in therapy: An integrative model. Belmont, CA: Thomson Higher Education.

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Mawwage, Part I

I have been meaning to blog about this for some time now and have been thinking about it since I was in my Counseling Skills class reading Interpersonal Process in Therapy by Edward Teyber. Yes, the book was expensive, yes the text was difficult to understand, and the whole aspect of "process" was difficult to grasp the first time around.

So, what have I been wanting to blog about? Mawwage, or as others not from the Princess Bride might pronounce it, marriage.

It's no secret that I have been wanting to get married for a while. There is a secret though; occasionally I think marriage is stupid and weddings are a bunch of bologna. Then other days I am dying for us to have a wedding with all our friends and family together making memories. My biggest fear is that we will blow a crapload of our parents' money on one night and turn into people we don't even like during the planning process. I have the potential to go waay overboard with details, stationary, flowers, and all things DIY. And the older I get, the more expensive taste I develop. I get scared of what a wedding might do to us, which is ridiculous becasue it should be about the mawwage!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Scared to Death!

I am adding white water rafting to the 30 Before 30 list. Thinking about it makes me really scared and creates anxiety, but on the other hand, it looks fun and adventurous. In my counseling classes we are learning that a certain level of anxiety and frustration are essential for growth. Anxiety about white water rafting is not going to bring about the same growth as anxiety in a therapeutic session, but it will lead to growth in a different aspect. I am adding it to the list because it is something I am somewhat fearful of, yet don't want to miss out on. Our friends in California, Brenna and Mikey, have a brother who runs a rafting company in Colorado. If I ever go, we're going to go through his company. I was just talking to Brenna about meeting there this summer for a fun trip.

As I grow older I am becoming more cautious and scared of things. For example, I am horrible with needles. My new job required a TB test and I also need a yearly physical. I had to deal with needles twice in one week! I used some self-talk and tried to regulate my breathing to keep from having a semi-fit like the one when I got my tetanus shot earlier this year. Thankfully, those techniques calmed me down, but I just keep thinking how foolish it is. Another example is how I hate to cross the street at busy intersections if the light is blinking or if I think it is about to go yellow. There are many times whoever I am with darts across the street and I am left on the corner waiting for the light to cycle through again. What's up with that?? Is this what 1/4 life is going to be like? Will it get worse?

In order to prevent myself from becoming a boring, unadventurous 30 something I am going to try and push myself in anxiety provoking situations. I am so blessed to only have slight anxiety about silly things. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have intense anxiety about everyday things.

Just remember: breathe!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What Does it Mean to be Called?

I woke up at 6:45 today even though I have the day off in honor of veterans Day. I couldn't sleep anymore so now I am watching Invictus. I am so thankful to have today off from work becasue I am feeling very run down with a cold or sinus infection. I only wish I could have slept longer. So this Thursday, I am thankful for my new job, the day off, and most importantly the Veterans who serve and protect our country.

Veterans have been called to serve and so have those doing God's work. What does it mean to be called to do something?

I love my new job. I am not a person who really believes in fate, but if I were, this job would be fate. When I got the offer I had one month's rent left, I was beginning to feel desperate for classroom experience, and feeling unfulfilled at my retail job. I have been working for a week now, and absolutely believe I am meant to be here. Even though I won't get my first check until mid-December becasue of the pay periods I feel a sense of peace in my less than favorable financial situation. Did I mention I am making close to what I made at my previous job? I think I may have. When I think about the responsibilities and stress of my old job compared to my job at the school I would gladly take a pay cut in exchange for quality of life. But I didn't really, how awesome is that?

Moving on, I am so thankful for the men and women who have, or currently are, serving in the armed forces. While war, conflicts, and policies are often controversial, I cannot disregard the daily sacrifices made by these men, women, and their families. I have mentioned before how I have been feeling called to help the military families. [Side note- I am not really that religious and using the phrase, "feeling called to help" to me implies being called by God to do this work. Like I said, I don't believe in fate, but there really is no other way to describe this feeling. I guess maybe I am feeling compelled to do it instead, but is phrasing it that way discrediting the feeling? Is it denying that God may truly be calling me to do this? And if he is, what does that mean? How can you ignore it then?] I don't really know how I can help, but here are some ideas; work at a school on a military base or one that serves military children, finding a job as a counselor with the VA or other family services, volunteer with non-profits that serve military families. I don't know what this means or where it will take me...that's what's so exciting about life, right? 

Watching Invictus, it is clear Nelson Mandela was called by someone or something to be a great leader and unite and heal South Africa.

What have you been called to do?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Miss Asia [Insert My University Name Here]

During the break at class a friend and I were walking back from the vending machine when I spotted this out of the corner of my eye. I instantly found it funny when I read qualification #1. Take a look for yourself.
After reading the qualifications more closely I have the following questions:
  1. I am of Asian origin, can I be Miss Asia [insert my university name here]? My family is of European descent (as we say in CSL), my culture is primarily white. What are they trying to say with qualification #1?
  2. you DO NOT have to be full-- full from dinner? Full figured? Full in mental capacity? Is there a better way to phrase this? My multicultural class tells me yes. 
  3. You must be female-- if someone of Asian origin who is somewhat of a "full" phony, like myself, can qualify to represent the Asian community at [insert my university name here] why can't a male also be included? A male who is imersed in Asian culture would be much more appropriate than someone like myself who is "full".
  4. You must be a student (No, you DO NOT have to be a [insert my university name here] student)--huh? Miss Asian [insert my university name here] doesn't have to be a [insert my university name here] student? Did I miss something? 
  5. And what makes this all the more confusing is it is presented as a pageant! I know some Asian women who already feel objectified, and feel some men have Asian fetishes. Does the context of a pageant continue to promote this? Why not have both a male and female and call them [insert my university name here] Asian Ambassadors? It's a bit more inclusive and progressive don't you think? 
While I understand the group is trying to educate others and increase the Asian community's visibility on campus, I question if this is the most effective way to combat stereotypes and raise awareness. What caught my eye as being comical turned out to be much more provocative that I anticipated. 

I didn't put my school name in the post because I am somewhat embarrassed and question if I would want it associated with this type of flier. However, I realize most of my friends know where I go to school :) 

Thoughts? Funny? Strange? Over analyzing? For my classmates out there, what would Tovarr-Murray think? lols

Friday, November 5, 2010

For Your Entertainment!

Today wrapped up my first two days at the new job and I have to say I love it! I will share more about that later. Right now, I have broccoli roasting in the oven and already made Giada's potato salad for dinner. No meat again, sorry James! The salad was so-so. I didn't have the lemon zest so instead I added red wine vinegar and threw in some artichokes we had in the fridge. Not sure I'd make it again, but I wanted to use up the tomatoes.

Anyhoo, I sat down to quick blog and share this with you!!

Muuuahhaha!! What in the world is this you may ask? Well, let me tell you. A stranger on the EL (Red Line, what else?) took the liberty of sketching the bf on his way home from law school! How creeped out would you be if someone handed you a sketch of yourself? As soon as James showed me I asked if he tipped the guy. If you know James, you know he did not tip him. My feelings are that he shouldn't have accepted the drawing if he didn't give a tip, but how do you politely say no thank you to a drawing of yourself?

What do you think? Did the guy deserve a tip?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Makeshift Office Space

This Thursday I am thankful for our apartment. More specifically, the separate dining room that in a crunch becomes our office. When I was working full time I was lucky to have a decent sized monitor, laptop with a dock, printer, phone, headset, foot thingy, and keyboard tray. I was the  poster child for workplace ergonomics and I LOVED it. Fast forward a to 2010 and I am a year deep into a masters program, the bf in his first year of law school with no office, no keyboard tray, no foot rest, etc. Instead we have a second bedroom that barely, rarely, never gets used that I have to vigilantly protect from becoming the dumping ground. But I love the guest room. I love that it is always clean and we have a comfortable private place for our parents/guests to stay in when they visit this fabulous city.

Don't you just love my wallpaper?
So today, I am thankful to have a separate dining room that allows me to create a makeshift office when I am in the thick of a quarter that is winding down. It's not fancy; my laptop is on a vintage TV tray bought at a church sale in Winnetka, I have a non-wireless keyboard, extra monitor from undergrad that is super pixelated by today's standards, James' wireless mouse and cords going every direction to every wall outlet. I am also thankful to have a boyfriend who put's up with the mess. Come Monday at 5:30 pm this will all be over and we'll be on to winter break! Until then, the makeshift office will be my home as I finish a 20 page group counseling proposal.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm Funny, Right?

Sometimes I think I am funny and I am forced to consider if I really am.

Yesterday I went to get my work papers processed in the west loop. The process was fairly easy considering I had already had my TB test, drug test, fingerprinting, etc. complete. One of the last things I had to do was get my work ID picture taken. I sat in the chair and the girl took the picture. She looked at the picture, noticing my eyes were closed and said, "Are you a blinker?", to which I replied, "No, I just have small eyes!" and laughed at my own joke. Well, I am pretty sure she either didn't think it was funny or I made her feel really uncomfortable. I think it was funny! What do you think?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fry Turkey Fry!

This Saturday we went to our friend's parents' house in Joliet to lose our fried turkey virginity. This was our first time to the "suburbs" for an actual visit. The going to the suburbs was the uneventful part of the trip. It felt just like Michigan. I  must admit that I miss the big box stores that are all along one street with ample amounts of parking. Shoe Carnival, Bed Bath and Beyond, Hobby Lobby, Target, Old Navy! So easy to get to.

Anyways, the highlight of the trip was Brian's parents. They were amazing and so welcoming! We basically took over their house and garage watching the MSU v Iowa game (disappointing, to say the least). His dad was busy in the garage frying the turkey and his mom was in the kitchen the entire time making the traditional Thanksgiving sides. She made mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce. Kim and I brought salad and apple pie, but she did the most of the work. We tried to offer to help but she wouldn't hear of it.

While the oil was hot the guys experimented making other fried treats. There were fried pickles, snickers and twinkies. I have to say the pickles were the best.  The others were just so sweet!

As bummed as we were that MSU got killed, we couldn't have been happier after such a great meal with wonderful friends.

Now we're wrapping up our weekend doing 4 loads of laundry at the laundry mat. Sheets, towels, rugs and clothes. I usually try to space them out, but every now and then it all backs up.

Friday, October 29, 2010

CSI Chicago: The Case of the Mystery Wheelchair

I have seen a lot in this city in the one short year I've lived here. Human feces on the steps to the EL twice in two weeks? Yep. Someone defecate in a train car at 9 am? Sure. A boy in a foam cylinder crouched on the ground with a hole for his head to pop in and out scaring people? Why not! All are disturbing, but what would city life be without weird stuff?

Yesterday when I left work I saw this tucked in the little alcove between our building and the one we're attached to. This is not just any wheelchair, it is one for a very large person. I looked around for someone who might be getting out of a car or trying to get up off the ground and saw nothing. I felt a bit creeped out and still do. The chair is still sitting there 30+ hours later. The following questions are running through my mind:
  1. Has the chair occupier been murdered? 
  2. Are there limbs in the pile of leaves next to the chair? 
  3. If the person is in fact alive, how are they getting around?
  4. Is this a case of elder abuse?
  5. Is someone coming for their chair?
  6. How do you misplace something like this?
  7. If no one comes back for the chair who will dispose of it?
  8. How long am I going to have to be creeped out by this chair below my window and each time I pass it?
  9. WTF?!?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

One is Silver and the Other Gold

I am very thankful for my great friends. This past weekend after the MSU v. Northwestern football game Leslie was a bit tipsy but kept saying how she felt so blessed and lucky to have such great friends. It got me thinking about what how lucky the bf and I are.

We had an awesome group of core friends while we lived in Orange County, most were friends from high school, but not all. Bf made some really close work friends who we loved to have over and try new restaurants with. When we were back in SC this summer they all made the half hour drive down to visit with us and celebrate his birthday. We got best friends out of Mikey and Brenna, who lived in our apartment complex, and we both stood in their wedding. As hard as it was to leave these old and new friends when we moved to Chicago we knew it wasn't the end to these relationships.

When we arrived in Chicago we were welcomed again by our old college friends and my friends from home. Our friends here are always doing something fun, organizing parties, trips, dinners, etc. It would be impossible for anyone to feel alone with a group of of friends like this. Many knew the bf had left his oldest friends back in California to join me in Chicago and they often ask me how he is doing. If he misses his friends, if he is feeling included. How sweet is that? Chicago has also brought us closer to my sister and her husband. They have very close friends from college in the city too and immediately made the bf and I part of their core group (MNF!). Their group of friends has also embraced a new couple, Sarah and Brian, who bring new perspectives and personalities to an already amazing group of people.

Girlfriends from Kentwood and their men

Bf's friends from high school and ERAC

Chicago friends!
While it is strange to examine the different social, non-formal groups we belong to, it gives me an overwhelming sense of happiness, and that I am thankful for. I am also thankful for the ability to go months or years without seeing people and falling right back into step with them. The feeling of familiarity, comfort, and security when you are with someone who really knows you, not matter the time in between, is priceless.

What can you do to maintain old friendships? Long distance friendships? Build new friendships?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


In August I wrote about my experiences when I was new to the city and the lack of friendly faces. I wanted to just give an update about my "smile project" and say that it has been going well. Maybe it is the change of season or MSU's amazing 8-0 record, but I have been much more prone to smile at strangers who pass me by on the streets. This past week I have had around 50% smile back, say "hello", or make eye contact with me. I consider this success!

What harm can come from a smile? Sometimes when I see someone who looks particularly "rough" I get worried that a simple smile will attract negative attention. Often times I take the risk, challenging my own beliefs and fears, and do it anyways. This happened just the other day acutally, and when the smile was reciprocated I felt relieved and awful at the same time. Awful because I was scared to smile and show kindness in the first place.

How can we continually challenge our own fears and beliefs?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Thankful Thursdays

I've been slacking a bit in the blogging department since school started. I haven't been disciplined enough to take the time to sit down, reflect, and put thought onto "paper". I have been thinking more and more lately about the need to be thankful and make a conscious effort to maintain and promote a positive perspective in all aspects of life.

So, in an attempt to become more thankful and write more frequently, I introduce to you, Thankful Thursdays! Also, each week I am going to try to write a handwritten thank you note to someone in my life, or maybe a helpful sales person, etc. or at the very least a thankful email.

This Thursday I am especially thankful to be living in a region that experiences the four seasons. Even though winter is very long, I love the snow and the warm feelings of the holidays and being indoors. I love winter foods like chili and braised meats. I even like how it gets dark earlier so you want to stay inside with your loved ones. I am thankful for the beautiful fall colors we are experiencing now, the crisp air, the baked pumpkin seeds and college football. I am thankful for the amazing Michigan summers, all the lakes and rivers, campfires and stories shared among friends, and grilled foods. I am thankful for the spring when it finally arrives, the budding trees, flowers blooming and the smell of rain. I love the seasons and don't know if I could live without them again.

Here is some artwork we are planning on buying for our place that incorporates our love for the seasons and this beautiful city. Visit the Ryan Kapp's website for more information!  I hope he doesn't mind this being on here...maybe I should email and ask permission. I am not sure what the blogger etiquette is. Either way, I want to give credit where it's due!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Happiest Place on Earth!

I am so excited becasue I finally got a "real" job working at Walt Disney Magnet School as a Special Education Classroom Assistant. It is full time, benefits, from 7:30 am to about 2:00 pm. Oh, and it is walking distance from my house! I am very excited to get classroom experience, work with kids, and gain some knowledge about special education. I am nervous about the job because I don't have any experience with special education. I am just going to have a positive outlook about it and be open to new experiences.

I am going to try to work one shift a week at my current job so I can keep the discount. I love it and I love the people!

This quarter of school is winding down and the work is starting to pile up. I feel like I have a good grasp on things so I am not too worried. All in all, things are going pretty well.

And!! We are trying to plan a trip to California over the holidays.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Chicago Marathon

This weekend we went to Kim & Joey's in Old Town to watch our friend Nick run in the Chicago Marathon. He did a great job and we had fun waiting and looking for him. I cannot believe how many people ran in the marathon. I am pretty sure I do not have the dedication to ever do it and I know that I wouldn't want to. Kudos to those who do though! What a commitment to train for something like that. Instead, I baked muffins to go with our virgin mimosas (can't buy alcohol before 11 a.m.) to enjoy while waiting. While watching the marathon was not on my 30 before 30 or to do in Chicago list, it still was a "First" for us.

Do you think you could run a marathon?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Long Time, No Post

It's 5 am and I am up for work. I am going to see if I can get out early to go to an event at the Center on Halsted, right by my house, to see Matthew Shepard's mother speak. I am assuming most of us are all old enough to recall his murder at the University of Wyoming. Such a horrible thing, hopefully trainings like these will educate people so they can help develop a culture of understanding with our children and adolescents.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

UPDATE: 100 Push Up Challenge

I am in  the middle of week 4 of the 100 Push Up Challenge and am beginning to hate doing my push ups. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday the bf has to hear me say, "I don't want to do my push ups!". Tonight I will do 5 sets of 20, 25, 20, 20 and 28 push ups and they are starting to get pretty difficult. Why am I doing this again? I feel like I typically quit everything so I am determined not to quit this, but I really want to. I don't think I see too much change in definition, but I have gained a 1/4" around  my bicep. I am not too sure if this is what I was going for...

Read here about the start of the challenge.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Something to Think About

I've been meaning to post about something that has been catching my attention in the news and is pretty salient in the counseling world. I thought I'd save this post for today: World Suicide Prevention Day. There is one suicide every 40 seconds around the world. Pretty heavy stuff.

Recently there have been many stories about military suicide rates and how the country is failing to meet our soldiers' mental health needs during and after service. These men and women are serving their country, receive extensive and expensive training, sacrifice relationships, and risk their lives and when they return their most basic needs, that of mental health care, go unmet to the point of hopelessness. There have been studies and reports saying a new office needs to be created to prevent suicide in the military. More bureaucracy, but at least they are recognizing the need. While I am no expert on suicide or the armed forces I can't help but feel angry and saddened by these articles.

I also wanted to touch on the suicide rate in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. According to Alix Spiegel's article, Traces Of Katrina: New Orleans Suicide Rate Still Up, the suicide rate has doubled in some parishes. According to the article, the city is slowly being rebuilt but the number of mental health practitioners is no where near that prior to the hurricane. I recently watched a documentary by Spike Lee on HBO, If God is Willing and the Creek Don't Rise, which also touches on the affects of Katrina, and now the BP oil spill, has had on the mentality of the city and its resident. The news article and the documentary both caught my attention around the same time, leaving me unsettled and with many questions.

While these two examples point to lack of mental health services in a large system and in a certain geographical area, I think the more pertinent issue is surrounding the stigma of seeking counseling, therapy, treatment or whatever you want to call it. And why is there such stigma for those left behind after a loved one has taken their own life? How can we help them? Many people involved in their faith communities have no qualms about seeking counseling from their pastor, priest, rabbi, etc, but what about those who are not active in a religious organization? Who do they turn to?

These recent articles have made me reconsider where I can best use my skills once I have completed my grad program. Is it in a school setting? Is it in a community agency in an undeserved area? Doing outreach? Only time will tell...

For more information visit: International Association for Suicide Prevention

Monday, September 6, 2010

Homeward Bound

I need a shower!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Wisco Here We Come!

First time going to Wisconsin! We are finishing packing up for some Labor Day camping in Wisconsin. We are supposed to go tubing down some river tomorrow, but it may be only 60ish degrees. I may have to pass on that. I  love the fall weather though, perfect for camping at Wolf River.

And, on a side note, GO STATE!

Also, I just finished week 2 of the 100 push up challenge and I already feel it. I re-did week 1 because it was pretty difficult, but since then I have been feeling confident! We'll see how week 3 goes :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Reality Bites!

After a fun summer of bumming around the reality of school/semi-part time job/health insurance/dentist/etc. is setting in and it ain't pretty. In fact, I am having a lot of anxiety about it. This is no surprise though, in my counseling skills class we all had to counsel each other and this was my main problem (that and the whole when am I going to get married thing). I have known the day was going to come where I am taking more classes and don't have as much financial aid to live off, my savings have shrunk considerably, and I don't really want to get a "real" job. That day is today. While I have enjoyed the past year of being a "full-time student" with a part-time job and think it is finally time to face the music.

I interviewed for a position where I would make close to what I was making at UC, but part time. The catch is that I would have to work weekends. That would mean no more trips to the lake while it's still nice out, no more Michigan State football games in East Lansing, no more going home for Thanksgiving or California for Christmas; all reasons why I wanted to move closer to Michigan in the first place (besides CA for Christmas). I love my job now and am not sure if I am ready for more commitment to a retail store.

I also have an interview with Jumpstart's Americorps program via the work-study program at school. This would only pay $8.50 (what am I in high school?) 3 days a week, but at least it would be working with kids. I would also get $1,000 at the end directly towards loans. If I get that, I could work there and 2 shifts at my current job. I still don't think I would be puling in the approximately $1200 I need to live off each month. Maybe I should just temp so I have regular working hours. What's a girl to do?

Time to write the rent check.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Healthcare Woes

After going a year without health insurance I decided to quit being foolish and just pay up for the school plan. Ugh!! I sure took my health insurance for granted when I was working for the University of California. Man, do I not want to pay for it. I guess $2,000 isn't so bad considering the cost if I were to get really sick or hurt, but this is sure hurting my checking account! Can I get some health care handouts please?

I was one month away from my yearly physical when I left my old job, so I have gone 2 years without seeing a doctor. I hope everything is fine! What I'm more nervous about is the fact that I haven't seen a dentist for a year. Last time I didn't go for a year and a half and ended up with 11 cavities (I don't remember the real number but it was something crazy like that). I think that dentist was very aggressive though, I hope this time around it doesn't cost me $600!

Do any of you in the Chicago area love your doctor and/or dentist? When I lived in California I changed doctors every year because I just wasn't thrilled with them and didn't know anyone to ask for recommendations. I really liked my old doctor in Grand Rapids and am dreading finding one here. The most important thing I need to know is if your doctor/dentist has a really nice office. I judge health care providers by their offices. If the office is dingy I ain't going there!

How was your experience finding a new doctor or dentist in a new city?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

How to Gain 5 lbs in One Week!

Earlier this week in my boredom I made a batch of "The Good Ranch". If you have ever been out to eat with me chances are you have heard me ask the server if they have the good ranch. Typically the servers know if they do or not. I first met the good ranch when I worked at the 68th St Grill in Dutton, Michigan. What a fun high school job that was. One of my jobs was to make the ranch. It's super easy and super sinful and probably why it tastes so good. Its a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch mix, 1 cup buttermilk and 1 cup salad dressing. I use real mayonnaise, but the light or salad dressing is still good and should last about 4 weeks.

I have about 3 cups of buttermilk left over so I froze an ice cube tray's worth for next time I want to make the ranch. I plan on making Buttermilk Ice Cream with the remainder. I found the recipe at SmittenKitchen.com and am so excited to make it for a BBQ we're having tomorrow night! I think I am going to serve it with blueberries. The ice cream recipe called for heavy whipping cream so I bought some today, saved what I need for the ice cream and made real butter with the leftovers.

I have never made butter before, unless you count in preschool at Thanksgiving in baby food jars, and it was so easy. I followed the recipe from the kitchn and it turned out great! I just hope it really lasts like it says it should.
Ready to start!
Whipped and fluffy after about 1 minute
Starting to come together
Drained off buttermilk (I would save, but I have leftovers already. I should have planned better)
Rinsing the buttermilk off the butter
Squeezed dry and ready to enjoy!

 Tomorrow on to making mayonnaise!

Coming to America!

Today, or what's now yesterday, is our Coming to America Day! We never really celebrated it as children, but now that I'm older I take a minute on this day every year to be thankful for my awesome family and the sacrifices they made so they could adopt us. How cool is that? We arrived exactly on our half birthday!

Mom, one of us, Lisa, Kelly, Dad and the other twin?

Everybody loves chubby babies!
For more information about adoption visit Bethany Christian Services (the agency we were adopted through).

Monday, August 23, 2010

It's Hung!

As mentioned in one of my first posts, I was waiting for the bf to hang my DIY menu board in the pantry. I am proud to announce it's hung! I love it. :)

I have the let the computer rest now so the weekly backup can finish. I recently downloaded GFI backup for free because I salvaged my desktop's hard drive and put it in a neat little case thing for external storage (I felt really handy that day!). I got it at Micro Center and if you have one in your city I highly recommend going there instead of Best Buy. Backing up only takes a short time and you should all be doing it!