Before I set any goals for 2012, I figured I should check in and see how I did with last years:
1. Complete my masters
CHECK. It is kind of hard to believe that last year at this time I still had a semester to go. It seems like forever ago. I didn't just meet this goal, I knocked it out of the park - and I have to admit that it feels good!
2. Do some sort of community ed type class once I finish my masters - I'm leaning towards upholstery but would consider Spanish, flower arranging or calligraphy (of course, if I choose to continue with a second masters this will become void)
FAIL. Unfortunately nobody has a class called "Wasting time on Pinterest" so I have not met this goal yet. I did search for an upholstery class, but the only community college that offers it does not know when they will offer it again. I did find a cute shop that gives one day lessons, so maybe that will have to be a means to an end for now. I needed the reminder on Spanish, floral design and calligraphy though.
3. Send a birthday card to every immediate family member for their birthday (my nephew Vincent's will be late, as his birthday was yesterday... sorry Vin)
FAIL. I'm pretty sure this one is going to be a work in progress. My idea for this year is to go ahead and buy every single card and address the envelopes and put them in order. We'll see.
4. Get the MWG a phone that allows text messages
CHECK. He joined the 21st century early in 2011 and is getting quite good at his new phone. We are still working on the whole "When I send you a text message, please reply and acknowledge" it thing.
5. Take my stupid daily vitamins
FAIL. I did really well at this for about 6 months, but need to jump back on the wagon.
6. Learn how to work the lawnmower
FAIL. I'll probably cross this one of. Larry is really particular about how/when the lawn gets mowed and seems to like doing it. I'll stick to potting flowers.
7. Get rid of at least 25 pieces of clothing from my closet
CHECK. I didn't actually count, but I cleaned out my closet at least 5 times. I have given quite a few items away and have a pile waiting to be taken out, so I'm pretty confident that there are at least 25 items gone.
8. Get rid of at least 5 pairs of shoes (purging is a process....)
CHECK. This was easier than I thought. I have so many shoes I don't ever wear. I got rid of 7 pairs easily. (I may or may not have bought a pair or two to replace them in the meantime, but that is just details, right?)
9. Make the strawberry margarita jello shots
FAIL. I've made orange and lime jello shots in the fruit rinds, but haven't gotten around to the strawberry margarita ones. I'm not worried. I'm quite sure this one will be accomplished this summer.
10. Put away a good chunk of money into savings every month and continue tithing
FAIL. Again - I was doing really well for about 6 months and then things just start coming up. This one will go to the top of my list for 2012.
11. Use my new crockpot at least 11 times
CHECK. I love that thing. I don't know how many times I used it, but I know it was AT LEAST 11. If you aren't sure what to do for dinner tonight, dump some frozen chicken in with a bottle of BBQ sauce and grab some buns. Shredded BBQ chicken sandwiches with zero effort.
So - looks like I accomplished 5 out of 11 goals. That is a pretty weak performance. Hopefully I'll get to at least 50% in 2012!
We got to our sleepy little town in Oklahoma and needed some lunch, so we stopped at a place. (can't remember the name - but there are only about 3 places to choose from and it wasn't the diner or the pizza place.) When we walked in (still wearing our "city" clothes), it was like we were in an episode of the Twilight Zone. Every single person in the small dining area turned to look at us and watched us walk to a table. They were all wearing some version of camouflage or neon orange. We stopped at a table and sat down. At that point we saw that there was a manila folder with something written on at at my seat. It said "Joe's seat." As in, nobody else can sit there if Joe comes in. When the waitress came over, we asked if we needed to move, and she said "No, Joe came in for breakfast, so you're fine."
Then we went to set up our cabin. It was a nice, 2-story, 3 bed/2 bath cabin fully equipped with all furniture, kitchen tools, towels, etc. Lindsey brought along some delicious tortilla soup and brownies to add to the cookies, fruit, pasta, chicken, shrimp dip, and other miscellaneous snacks. (we didn't go hungry, that's for sure!) I don't have any pictures of the cabin, but you can see it here: Southern Spirit cabin
After that, we promptly went to get our fishing license, waders and boots. Here I am with my license.
The guy who runs the shop, is a smart fella. I think he has it saved in the computer that all females weigh 120 pounds. What's that you say? You want to see it up close?
Lindsey was our fearless leader and navigated the forest. (until the trail seemed to stop - - - we turned around and went back at that point so that we didn't get lost!)
We also stopped to take some pictures in front of the pretty views. We gathered together and I held the camera out as far as I could and......
the camera was on zoom. You can tell Lindsey uses the Clarisonic, can't you? She has pretty skin. We fixed the camera and tried again:
When we were done with our "hike," we went to a little shop called "Girls Gone Wine" that sells wine and other cute girly things. Considering it is the only shop besides the tackle shop, it is really quite a treasure. We had a glass of wine and sat under the heat lamps on the patio before heading back to the cabin for tortilla soup. We wanted an early start, so we all went to bed early. As in - about 9pm. I was the wild one and stayed up until about 10pm reading a book.
The next morning, Lana's mom made us a warm breakfast and we practiced our casting:
We added a few more layers of clothing because the wind was pretty cold, then we were off!
We got our waders and boots on and headed into the water.
As you can see, we had some luck finding things to take pictures of, but no luck with the fish. We took a lunch break and went to the pizza place before switching locations, learning new casting techniques and using new "flies." That was all it took..... I was standing knee deep in the water, listening to the nothingness and enjoying how peaceful it all was, when suddenly I felt a tug on my pole....
I screamed and promptly interrupted the quiet, peaceful surroundings. Steve was trying to tell me what to do, and I had no idea. I was supposed to be doing something with the line and I was pulling the fishing pole.
And finally - there it was! The first (and only!) fish of the weekend! It was actually really exciting - who knew?!?!
The good thing about going fishing with a fishing guide is that you never actually have to touch the fish. He flopped out of the net (we would have had to let him go anyway) and kept fishing a while longer - until it started raining really hard. I was *thisclose* to saying I had seen lightning, but it wasn't necessary. We packed up and headed out.
We got so lucky with the weather - it really should have been freezing, and it wasn't. With enough layers, it was really nice. Besides that, it was just a perfectly relaxing weekend. You know how sometimes you go on vacation and you're exhausted when you get home? This was not one of those trips. We got plenty of sleep, plenty of visiting, and just the right amount of outdoorsy adventure. We'll see if Steve is brave enough to take us again one day!!!
In the meantime:
- Note to everybody - get off Tim Tebow already. (And if you never saw the video from when he was at Florida and took that girl with the brain tumor to an awards show, you should. If you still want to hate on him after that, go for it, but there is probably something wrong with you.)
- We almost switched to an artificial Christmas tree this year since the real ones give us such bad allergies. We aren't quite ready to make that commitment and will be heavy on the Zyrtec and kleenex again this year.
- My dog's breath is excruciatingly bad. I shouldn't admit that, but it is. I need to remind myself to take her to the vet to get that teeth-cleaning procedure done over the Christmas break.
I will leave you with the mental image of rotten shrimp - since that is what Blossom's breath smells like. You're welcome.
I'll give you an example. A week or two ago, I was just tired and grumpy over a myriad of things. Every little thing Larry did or said was annoying me. I was in the closet, hanging up/organizing laundry, minding my own business (because I knew I was irrationally annoyed and knew I would snap at Larry if I was around him) and he shows up at the door. Mind you, I am working and trying to get things done. Not only was I hanging up and organizing, I was also sorting through to pick out at least 10 things to give away. I wasn't really in the mood to chat. And he shows up at the closet, looking in to see what I am doing. I don't say a word, just keep working. And he says, "There is so much hanging on these closet bars that they are starting to droop in the middle!" And I'm like, "Seriously? You came all the way back here to gripe about how many clothes I have? AS I'M MAKING A GIVE-AWAY PILE? Go away! I'm working!" He looks at me like I've lost it and says something like, "You didn't have to get all bowed up like the Stay-Puft marshmallow man!" and walked off.
I finished my task, then went out to the living room to take the high road and apologize for snapping at him. I said, "Sorry I marshmallow manned you." And he did an impression of how I looked/sounded that actually looks quite a bit like the Stay Puft man. And we laughed and now we use the "marshmallow man" man voice when we are trying to make a point, so, I guess there is a happy ending.
Larry listens to a local sports show every M-F from 4-7pm. EVERY M-F. I know all the songs, catch-phrases and "bits" that they show does. Since I'm subjected to it every day, I'm going to steal one of their bits - - - it is called 3 things and a song.
My 3 things for today:
It appears that facebook did not get hacked. I kind of wish it would have been, as the new version stinks. In that same vein, I'm tired of Pinterest's "error" messages. If they want to play with the big boys, they need to get that stuff fixed.
I like to say I have a "hitch in my giddy-up" when my foot or leg or something hurts. I don't know if that is the correct usage, but it is fun to say. (So is "hunker down" for when you don't feel like going out.)
I just got $68 worth of Christmas cards for $0. (well, the groupon cost $19, so I guess it actually cost me $19. But when I clicked "submit order," the amount due was $0, so it felt like it was free!)
My song for today:
Fragile Bird (City and Colour)
I had never heard of the opening act - the David Mayfield Parade - but I'm so glad I know who they are now! Seriously one of the most entertaining acts I have ever seen! Not only do they rock, he is hilarious. I will definitely go see them if they come to Austin again. They played until 8:15pm and the Avett Brothers came out shortly after that.
I think that you would enjoy their show even if you'd never heard them before - they are just so good. All of their songs sound like a poem to me. They seem genuinely grateful to be performing and their live presence did not disappoint. In fact, they are incredible live. Their bass player, Bob Crawford, has a 2 year old with brain cancer, so I made her a poster:
Seth Avett saw it when they came out and nodded at me like, "I'll tell him." I had some lyrics from "Murder in the City" on the other side.... "always remember there is nothing worth sharing like the love that lets us share our name." (I have more pictures from the show on my camera but don't feel like uploading them right now, so all you get is what was taken with cell phones.)
They played every song I really wanted to hear except for "Die, Die, Die." It was nonstop and I just really can't think of enough adjectives to describe how good it was. Afterwards, we went around the corner to the tour bus so I could give them my poster. We waited for a little while but decided that if they didn't come out of the bus by 10:40pm, we were not sticking around. They didn't come out, so we went to a little Irish pub across the street.
Oddly enough, there was a country band playing in the Irish pub. They were from Australia. Everyone loves an Aussie accent, so I asked them if they would say my name. They did, so I carried their tip jar around the bar for them and guilted people into tipping them. "They came all the way from Australia! You can give them one dollar!" We were enjoying the band when all of a sudden my brother texted Dejah and I to let us know that Seth Avett had gotten off the bus and was visiting with the people waiting there. So we had some lady dressed as a zombie watch our drinks (not the best move in retrospect, but whatever) and ran across the street.
As we were running, I managed to fall. Hard. Not gracefully. I fell hard enough that my shoe broke. (to my defense, the pavement was really uneven!) Fortunately I didn't hurt myself, but there was no hope for my shoe. Here is a re-enactment photo:
We made it across the street, where I told anyone within earshot about breaking my shoe. And then it was our turn to talk to Seth! He looked so tired, but was incredibly nice. He graciously signed the pictures I brought with me and then posed for a picture with Dejah and I.
Sigh. The boy is straight up dreamy. And he was so nice that it makes him even dreamier.
Before we headed back to the pub, the cello player, Joe, came out. He signed my pictures and then was lucky enough to hold up my foot so that I could take a picture of my broken shoe:
You can tell from Dejah's face in the background that we were having so much fun. (I swear, sometimes I wonder about myself. Who asks a band member to hold up their foot? Besides me, I mean?)
We walked back to the pub. We were enjoying the Aussie band, who even performed a "Rachel Rap" in my honor. As they were rapping my song, John texted again that now Scott Avett was visiting with fans. So Dejah and I ran back over.
He was just as nice. He did the signing and the smiling that we asked of him and did not seem put out by it at all. They are a classy bunch. (Not sure that I'm the person who should make judgement calls about what is/isn't classy, seeing as how I have a SHOE around my wrist in this picture, but oh well.)
We finally left them alone and went to finish up our drinks and pay our tab. We left the pub, went to IHOP and then went to bed. (Thanks to John for driving!) I am just so thankful to have had such a magical, perfect evening. My ankle hurts a little bit, but that is a small price to pay! I'll leave you with my favorite lyric from the opening act: "If I could be anything I'd be hers." Here he is singing the song with Seth Avett:
Every year, I buy halloween candy way too early. I see it on sale and buy it with good intentions. I tell myself, "I won't eat any. It will be fine. Might as well buy it now so I don't have to worry about it later."
This year, I got 3 varieties of M&Ms (regular, peanut and peanut butter), Twix, Three Musketeers, Snickers and Starburst. I showed Larry and he said, "Oooh, we are the good house."
I told myself I would "get ahead" and go ahead and put it in the little bucket. Yeah, right. You better believe that I've already eaten most of the Three Musketeers, one packet of Starburst, several Twix and one of each flavor of M&Ms.
Hi......what was your name? Willpower? Yeah, don't think we've met.
I'm going to go ahead and say that J is for "junk drawer." I am kind of embarrassed to share this with you, because it makes me look a little mentally unbalanced. Although I might be kind of mentally unbalanced, so who cares.
For some reason, every time I buy something new, I throw the receipt, tag and extra button in the top drawer of my vanity. At first, I guess I did it in case I wanted to return it or something. Then it just became habit. I don't know why I do it. It is weird, right? I guess by now there are 5 years worth of tags. Stein Mart, Macy's and Ross appear to be the biggest offenders.
Maybe I will go through that drawer someday soon. I do want to put all the buttons in my sewing kit, so that is my goal. We'll see.
So - just in case you were starting to get the misguided impression that I am the type of person that has it all together, remember that we ALL have some sort of junk drawer in our life.
I haven't had to get a new DL in probably 10 years. I don't know why, I just haven't had to. Last time, I got to renew online. The State of Texas has come out with fancy new licenses, which I don't have yet. But apparently I will. I got a notice that I have to renew my license IN PERSON. I tried to cheat and do it online but it wouldn't let me. It said I MUST report to my nearest DPS office.
Well, now I have a driver's license that has been expired for a week for three reasons:
1. It is going to take hours to sit at the DPS and get it renewed.
2. I need to go to the eye doctor first. I'm not sure if I'm required to say I wear corrective lenses if I just wear a contact to sleep in?
3. More importantly, I know it is shallow, but I really need to wait for a day that my hair looks good.
I guess there is an upside.... no matter how the new picture turns out, it can't possibly be any worse than my passport!
YIKES! (my only consolation is that this is probably what I look like after being on a plane for 10+ hours.)
But for today, I will say a prayer for all those affected by 9/11. Not just those victims, family members and first responders that day, but also for all the service men and women and their families who have experienced war as a result. And I will say a prayer that if/when I'm faced with adversity, I will be able to keep my faith and be as brave as Todd Beamer (among others) was that day. ("Let's Roll.") And I will say a prayer that we can all be as proud of our country as we were in the months following 9/11. That we can all remember that no matter what, "the flag still stands for freedom, and they can't take that away."
God bless the USA.
When I got back, I seriously considered getting rid of everything besides what was in that suitcase.
Then I remembered that I can't wear an Old Navy tank top and jean capris to work, so I didn't.
But the wildfires this week have got me thinking again.
We weren't sure what was going to happen - at one point, the fires got as close as 5 miles - so we went ahead and packed our "get away" bags. Let me just say, we have a bunch of crap. And to be honest, we have a bunch of *nice* crap. But everything we really wanted to take fit in 4 grocery bags. Mostly pictures, passports, some mementos of Larry's dad, some jewelry, the cutting board made out of olive wood that I got in the aforementioned trip to Italy, and a VHS of me in high school practicing my cheerleading dance. I took a picture of everything else just in case we needed it for insurance purposes. Oh, and I was going to grab my nice bottle of wine from the wine fridge on my way out the door. (Along with my dog and computer of course.) It seems that we could live quite comfortably with everything we *really* want in approximately 500 square feet. (The one thing I would miss that we couldn't pack??? - the backyard.)
It was really scary for awhile, and I know it is still scary for far too many people. But I must say that I am so proud of Texas, and I hope that the response to tragedy is the same in every state. They actually said on the news that they basically did not need any more donations for the time being because all of the donation centers were at capacity. Granted, people will need help for many months in order to get back on their feet, but at least for now maybe they can feel that they are wrapped in the arms of their community. Once they are ready for more donations, perhaps it will be time for me to clean out some of this "crap" that I realized I can totally live without.
In fact, using it at least 11 times was one of my goals for 2011. I've probably already hit that goal, but I plan to use it lots more (if it ever dips below 100 degrees.)
I traded in a bunch of my grad school textbooks and got Amazon credit - with which I bought my crockpot.
It has a 2, 4, and 6 quart dish, which means I can make anything from a small batch of queso to a huge pot roast. So please don't take this post personally. I repeat - I love my crockpot.
However, I chose not to "like" the Crock Pot Girls facebook page. I clicked on it and it just didn't appeal to me. Obviously it appealed to many others, because I get at least one notice a day that one of my friends has "liked" the Crock Pot Girls.
I haven't thought much more about it... until I got a text from a friend last night. (she can own up to it if she wants, which she should, because it was HILARIOUS.) It said, "How about you, me, and Jane go on a photo shoot looking all strung out and trashy and then post the photos to facebook and ask everyone to like our page.... Crack Pipe Girls." Ha!
I have been wasting an inordinate amount of time on the computer lately. I tell myself that it is okay because I am finding new recipes to try, crafts to make, ways to organize the house, etc. The truth is, there are just SO MANY good ideas out there! I did make a deal with myself this weekend though. I made myself actually *do* at least 3 things that I've "pinned" or I would not be allowed to get on pintereist until I did. I should have taken my own pictures, but I didn't. However, my 3 things for this weekend were:
buffalo chicken nachos - these were awesome. (and you might think it is gross, but I even used canned chicken since I was going to be dousing it in Franks anyway.) I did not use any celery but think it would add a nice crunch.
decorative bobby pins - I didn't get to finish because I didn't realize we were out of super glue. (But I have all the other supplies)
installed a "favicon" for my blog - look at the top of your screen. Do you see a tiny picture of Blossom when she was a baby? If you want to do one for yourself, it is easy. Just go to "design" and then click "favicon." The picture has to be pretty small and totally square, but if I could figure it out, anyone can.
I also made stuffed peppers, but that doesn't really count since I've made them before. Delicious way to end the weekend, even if I do say so myself.
A. It was daytime and you don't have tinted windows. Witnesses can see that you are a white young woman with a long, blonde ponytail.
B. When it sounds/feels like you've backed into something, you should stop. Especially when it is daytime and people can see you. And copy down your license plate number.
C. Not only should you stop, you should write a note and say something like, "Sorry! My number is xxxxx and I use State Farm insurance." Or at the very least, write a fake note so that other people around you think you are leaving insurance information. When you just drive off, it makes everyone around you angry and they all copy down your license plate number and wait for me to come out of the grocery store so they can tattle on you.
D. Tell your dad not to be surprised when he hears from me. Just because he lives in another city north of Dallas, the small, dark SUV is registered to him, so I'm assuming you are in Austin for college.
E. Yes, the damage is very minimal. I probably won't even get it fixed. But I *will* teach you a lesson about backing into somebody's car and then driving off. Some people would say that it is the principle of the thing. Maybe I will take you to small claims court and sue you for $5 just to prove a point.
Never underestimate the power of the internet. Or having friends in law enforcement.
A sample from my "boards:"
The pumpkins you'll see at my house this halloween
What I'm going to paint on canvas and hang somewhere in my home
What you'll see if I host a superbowl party
A genius idea for a small shelf
I is smart.
I is important.
I will not pretend that Hollywood should be the one to provide history. But if you read "The Help" and decided it was a movie you wanted to spend your money on, I'm right there with you. After grad school, this was the first "for pleasure" book I read, followed by "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks." (side note - I have neither cable nor DVR, so Oprah did not recommend these books to me. I'm pretty sure Amazon did.) I love to read so much that I did not allow myself to read while I was in school, because I get all crazy and involved in the book I'm reading and have to finish it RIGHT NOW. So I will stay up all night to finish it, and well... I just couldn't do that while I was in school because I had other things to work on. ("other things on which to work" if you're particular about ending sentences with a preposition.) "The Help" movie was very well done - they did great in casting and did an excellent job of portraying all the important parts.
My main point is that both of these books really got me thinking. I find the civil rights stories so fascinating because it wasn't that long ago. There are still people living that can tell stories about either employing a black maid or being raised by one. Or people that remember having a "white" grocery store and a "colored" grocery store. People who remember hospitals that only served whites and when textbooks couldn't be shared across races. And I would love to know their stories. Not just the horrible, disgusting, painful stories of injustice, but also the ones that show the love... like a maid that told a chubby, plain little girl every day - "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." Because I have no doubt there are some beautiful stories among the rubble.
Besides that, on the shallow side of things - I want to start dressing like I am a housewife from back in the day. I plan on starting with this dress (but in red) and my pearls:
Since I'm in the midst of my busiest time at work but don't want my blog to be stuck on a post complaining about the weather, here is another "inspirational" ditty I emailed to myself 12 years ago. Funny how each paragraph resonated with me in one way or another when I was a sweet young thing. I'm pretty sure I found it after a break-up and read it all the time to remind myself that breaking up was the right thing to do. It doesn't resonate the same way or strike the same chords anymore, but it is still a good message!
About Love....(from the internet circa 1999)
If you find yourself in love with someone who does not love you, be gentle with yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. Love just didn't choose to rest in the other person's heart.
If you find someone else in love with you and you don't love him/her, feel honored that love came and called at your door, but gently refuse the gift you cannot return. Do not take advantage, do not cause pain. How you deal with love is how you deal with you and all our hearts feel the same pains and joys, even if our lives and ways are different.
If you fall in love with another and he/she falls in love with you and then love chooses to leave, do not try to reclaim it or to assess blame. Let it go. There is a reason and a meaning. You will know in time.
Remember that you don't choose love. Love chooses you. All you can really do is accept it for all its mystery when it comes into your life.
Feel the way it fills you to overflowing then reach out and give it away. Give it back to the person who brought it alive in you. Give it to others who deem it poor in spirit. Give it to the world around you in anyway you can.
This is where many lovers go wrong. Having been so long without love, they understand love only as a need. They see their hearts as empty places that will be filled by love, and they begin to look at love as something that flows to them rather than from them.
The first blush of new love is filled to overflowing but as their love cools, they revert to seeing their love as need. They cease to be someone who generates love and instead become someone who seeks love.
They forget that the secret of love is that it is a gift and that it can be made to grow only by giving it away. Remember this and keep it to your heart.
Love has its own time, its own seasons and its own reason for coming and going.
You cannot bribe it or coerce it, or reason it into staying.
You can only embrace it when it arrives and give it away when it comes to you.
But if it chooses to leave from your heart or from the heart of your lover, there is nothing you can do and there is nothing you should do... Love always has been and always will be a mystery.
What else would "G" stand for besides GRATUITOUS GRADUATION recap?
Day 1: Fly to Milwaukee, check into the Astor Hotel, and walk a block to the Metro Market to load up on supplies. Let me tell you.... people aren't lying when they say Wisconsin has a lot of cheese! Basketball playoffs were on, so we went to the corner bar to watch Dallas. Turns out it was COLLEGE NIGHT - - - - $2 Miller Lites and free pizza! Yes! (Yes, you see chrome and disco lights in the place - it was as cheesy as can be, but exactly what we wanted.)
Day 2: We take the bus to visit to the campus that I'll be paying off for several more years. (To answer your question, it was the first graduate program that interested me... I didn't care that it was in Milwaukee. It was online and it worked for me! Plus, "dachshund" means "badger dog," and UW Madison are the Badgers, so it all fell together.)
We got off a few stops (8 blocks) too soon, so we got to walk through the neighborhood. It was the first sunny day these people had seen in about 7 months, so the college girls were all in lawnchairs on their front lawns. It was cute.
Once we got to campus, I visited the bookstore to buy a t-shirt and a hat and then just walked around a little. Here I am at the main sign. I'm not sure why I am posing like this. The only thing I can think of is that it was a little windy and maybe I didn't want my dress to blow up.
The bus we took to campus was the "30." We got back on it going the other direction and thought we were golden. Until we missed our stop. And slowly descended upon a part of Milwaukee that I'm pretty sure tourists are not supposed to see. We took the ENTIRE 30 route. I doubt you can tell from the tiny map below, but it is the route on the bottom. The one that takes 2.5 hours to ride.
At one point, we were the only ones on the bus. Everyone else had managed to make their exit. Even the driver got off to stretch his legs so I took a quick picture of us.
We went to dinner that night in downtown Milwaukee - but we took a cab.... The place was called Buck o'Bradys I think and it supposedly has the longest bar east of the Mississippi. It was a neat place.
Day 3: I wanted to go walk by the lake. The coolest thing about walking around was seeing surprises. Like the fact that there were tulips growing everywhere!
We walked all the way down to the lake to realize that it wasn't the lake. It was some other large body of water, but it was certainly not Lake Michigan. While we were down there, it started to rain. We tried to take cover under a weeping willow without much luck.
We went home to get cleaned up and get ready to greet my parents, who flew in that day. We enjoyed some of our traditional wine and cheese happy hour while Larry told them stories. (probably about riding the 30 for almost 3 hours.) Do you see the door? It almost looks like a coffin - it has some sort of rounded insert. All the doors were like that and we had never seen anything like it.
Fortunately my dad travels with his "MacGyver" tool, so he broke into it. It opens from each side - back in the day, I would open my side to place my soiled gloves in it so that the staff could come through, open the other side, and take them to be laundered.
My parents and I enjoyed a toast, and then we headed out to dinner.
We did not realize that Bon Jovi was in town that same night approximately 1 block from where we were trying to eat, so all the restaurants were full. We walked around for a little while and took pictures on the "riverwalk."
We finally found a place that was emptying out and had a nice dinner. The most memorable part of that experience was the wine. We ordered a carafe and it came out in the clear wine bottle labeled "3 fancy." (in middle of picture.)
Of course, since I am so fancy, I loved it. Didn't know what it meant, but my dad asked the waitress if we could have it and she basically said that if it wasn't there when they cleaned the table it wasn't going to be a big deal. Later, I looked up why it was labeled "3 fancy." Well, they serve 3 kinds of wine there.... 1-cheap, 2-fine, and 3-fancy.
Day 4: We started with mass at the beautiful Cathedral... complete with trees that made a nice photo op for my mom and I:
I had to be at the graduation place by 12:45, so the hotel staff took me by myself. (I didn't want everyone else to have to sit there forever.)
While I was backstage sweating to death in that giant gown and hat, my mom, dad, Larry and our friend Sal (who came in from Chicago) went to find seats. When they got there, they ended up waaaaay in the top bleachers. Then I guess my dad noticed a whole row of empty seats on basically the front row. There was some "caution" tape around them, but my dad figured it couldn't hurt to ask.
The people sitting around the empty seats said that the tape was there from the morning graduation and the seats were not reserved.... so everyone moved to the sweet seats. I'm not sure how long they waited, but finally they were able to catch a glimpse of me in all my glory:
Our speakers were actually pretty good. Hopefully somebody else remembers what they said, but they weren't boring or anything. I just can't remember! As I was walking up to receive my diploma, Larry took what *would* have been a perfect picture.... if my eyes were open!
We headed to get a bite to eat at the Brat House, which was surprisingly delicious. Mom, I'm assuming the pictures we took there are on your camera, because I don't have any!
Afterwards, we went to a place called The Safe House. If you are ever in Milwaukee, you have to go. It is a spy themed restaurant, complete with a password to enter and an illusionist named Scott:
I highly recommend it! (Just try not to stand next to a smelly girl like Larry had to.) One last picture in the hotel's "library" before heading to my parent's room to watch a Jesse Stone made-for-TV movie. (my choice....starring Tom Selleck.)
Day 5: we said good-bye to my parents, who hopped on some fancy boat to go see my Aunt and Uncle in Michigan. Sal packed Larry and I in the car and drove us about an hour north to Lake Geneva. (Well, he started driving us there until the hotel called and told me that they found my camera..... so we turned around to pick that up and then started all over again. Thanks Sal!) We went to a cute little place serving PBR and brats:
The next day was gorgeous - I got to lay out at the pool and read and relax for a few hours before heading into the condo to make some "Cove Kabobs."
We had our snacks and then went for some dinner before calling it a night.
Day 6: I walked around downtown Lake Geneva - they have some of the cutest little shops. My favorite was called the Cornerstone. I could have spent hours in there. The boys were waiting for me when I got back and we headed to Larry's favorite place in Fontana - a restaurant called Chucks. (This was where his favorite triathlon used to take place... they moved it to a different town up the road this year.)
I tried the cheese curds, which I had seen on every single menu up there. They were basically just like fried mozzarella sticks except they were little balls of fried cheddar. We took the obligatory pictures in front of the lake before leaving:
Day 7: Loaded up and Sal took us to the airport. It was 55 degrees and raining the entire way. When we landed back home in Austin, it was 101 degrees. (and has been just about every day since.)
Very memorable trip - so glad we went and that my parents got to come too.
And now, you can exhale a sigh of relief - the posts related to grad school, graduation parties and graduation will cease.