Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in Dallas..... my favorite time of year!!!

I'm still recovering from an action packed Christmas! Mimi and I drove to Dallas this year so we would have more room to bring back presents (haha!). After a 7.5 hour drive complete with a Starbuck's latte, a book on tape, and two spills - my latte and Mimi's water - on my my white shirt, we made it to my parent's house. Every Christmas is fun and special, and this one was no different. I'll admit, I had a lot on my mind and a lot to do the weeks and days leading up to my trip, and I was feeling a little stressed, but once I got in the car a lot of that stress melted away. In addition to lots of family time and delicious food, some highlights of my trip were:

  • Seeing Christen and Andrew before they headed back to Boston. I'm so glad I got to see her before baby Rogers comes in the spring!!!
  • Spending time with my Aunt Tena, Uncle Steve, Courtney, Cody, Brayden, and Dawson (in addition to my family and Christen & Andrew) at El Fenix.
  • Enjoying the day with my Mom's family, including two of my great-aunts.
  • One-on-one time with my Gran-Gran (that doesn't happen too often in big families!)
  • Dinner with the Dabners and a heated game of Catch Phrase
  • Having a girls day starting with manis and pedis with my mom, then getting my hair cut and colored by my favorite stylist, then a girls night out.
  • Girl's night out with Denise at Fireside Pies, Urban Crust, and 32 Degrees Rooftop Bar.
  • Quality time with Sadie, Andrew, Denise, and Travis
  • A White Christmas in Dallas!!!! Beautiful Christmas Eve snowfall.
  • Fun family time with my dad's side of the family. Good food, conversation, and games.
  • After Christmas shopping at IKEA!
  • Watching Blindside
  • Getting snowed out of KC and returning a day late!

I hope you had a blessed holiday! I'm looking forward to the new year. God Bless.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Too Cute not to share!

This is my newest baby cousin Dawson at Thanksgiving. He is the sweetest thing, and I loved my time snuggling with him. He is a doll, and my cousin Courtney is the best little mom!
I had a great time in Texas for the holiday, and I would blog about it, but all my pictures are on my mom's camera (that's a hint...!). However, this picture pretty much sums up how I like to spend my time - loving on all the babies in our family! It seems like we have a lot of babies around, but you don't see me complaining!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's that time of year again....

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

With the holidays quickly approaching, the pace of life quickens with it! As with every year at this time, I enjoy the holidays and the activities that go along with them, but am not so fond of the weather. We have been enjoying unseasonably warm weather in Kansas City for the most part. We've had a few chilly days, and even some snow flurries, but alas....the cold will return soon!

As I prepare for the holidays, I'll share with you a little of what is going on around here lately.

Aside from the weather, I have found myself as busy as usual. Midterms have finally been graded and recorded, just in time for the students to turn in another paper. I'm scurrying to get those done before I leave for Thanksgiving, because they have a final paper due when I get back. Who wrote that syllabus anyway?????!!! haha

Football for the 4th graders is finally over - their season was longer than a high school season! We started in July and finished up last weekend. I served as the team "mom" - meaning I got to do all the administrative stuff like manage the money, sign up for tournaments, communicate all the practice and game schedules, team photos, drink sign up, and end of season party! After a rough start to the season, and a couple of rough games, or guys pulled out a great season. They won the tournament championship, and we celebrated with burgers and candy at Johnny's Tavern! I breathed a huge sigh of relief when the party was successfully over; even thought I miss seeing the kids and some of the parents a few times a week.

With my new found free time, I have been working long hours. It seems like no matter how much work I do, there is always a ton more to get done. That being said, there are many days I do not get very many tasks completed because I experience frequent interruptions. I don't mind them though; they are part of my job. I love meeting with and talking to students, so I try to devote time to every student who comes in our office, especially the ones that need help or are lost. This week has been a small blessing, though, because the students are on Fall Break. That means I'm getting tons of work done!

I am also enjoying cooking more than I have been in a long while. Since my surgery, my appetite is all over the place; some days I am extremely hungry so I snack a lot, and other days food does not interest me in any way. I really haven't been into cooking meals, or the nights I wanted to I was busy with football, so lately I'm enjoying having time to cook. This weekend I made some incredible Cranberry Crumb Bars from the goodLife eats blog - here. Oh....they are yummy! Then I made a quasi-traditional Thanksgiving meal for the roommate and myself. The roommate was traumatize by some poorly made Thanksgiving dishes last year (not made by me I should point out), and since I don't really get to cook for my family due to my travel arrangements, I thought it would be kind of fun. I made a Jenny-O turkey breast (there weren't turkeys small enough for two people!), stuffing, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole, and wheat rolls. Then, I made an apple pie. smelled so 'fallish' in my house this weekend!

Like I said, this week has been filled with checking tasks off my never ending to-do list. I've still got a lot to do, but tonight I'm headed to see my family!

Nothing says holidays like spending time with family. I'll fly in late tonight then drive west tomorrow to spend the day with my Gran-Gran, aunts, uncles, cousins, and my great-cousins. What's a great-cousin you might ask? Well, I have made that definition to describe my cousins children. It sounds a lot nicer and more familiar than 2nd cousin. I digress. We'll cook, eat, clean, watch football, and play games. I'm looking forward to it. Then I'll 'celebrate' Black Friday with my other cousin, and spend the day with my immediate family. Saturday my mom and I plan to participate in a 5K in the morning, then more family fun later in the day. I'll update you when I get back!

What Thanksgiving post would be complete without a list of things I am thankful for this year? I could go on for hours, but I'm supposed to be checking things off my to-do list, so here is everything I can think of in 3 minutes:
- My unmatchable family
- The relationships I have with some of my cousins (and their families and babies!)
- My job (sometimes I might not feel 100% that way, but I am very thankful to have a job when so many do not)
- The time I was able to spend with my Grandmother, Granddaddy, and Paw-Paw, and the time I am still able to spend with my Gran-Gran
- The marvels of modern medicine, and the amazing surgical procedure I was able to undergo
- My two best friends - one who lives close who has shown me what it means to be me, and the other who lives too far way in Indiana, but has taught me that friendship doesn't have to mean seeing each other every day, and it means loving each other for who you are
- Food, and the fact that I don't worry from day to day or meal to meal where I am going to get nourishment
- Freedom. To live, to decide, to move about, to worship, to be.
- My coworkers who make coming to work so much easier
- Education - not just because it is my job, but because it is so important to me. And liberating.
- Target and Kohls (just had to throw those out there to see if you were paying attention - but they are two of my favorite stores!!!)
- Technology - including: computers (w/spell check!), the internet, cell phones, pdas, iPods (which reminds me I need to charge mine for the flight), airplanes, cars, dvrs, tvs, email, etc.
- Sports - especially college basketball, football, and nfl, and golf, and whatever else. Yes, I am thankful for sports. It's a whole other post, but go with me on this one.

Ok, my three minutes are up. Have a great Thanksgiving!!!!

6 month update

Thursday was my 6 month appointment with my surgeon. I hadn't been feeling too positive in the weeks leading up to the appointment because to be honest, my workouts have been lacking. Excuses are for another time, but I really feel like I wasn't doing as well as I should. Also, by this point, there is no more swelling in my stomach from the surgery and recovery, and my actually stomach is starting to adjust to its new 'normal' size. I had been noticing lately that I can eat a bit more than I had been eating in previous weeks. I used to track everything I eat, but I have gotten lazy busy in the past month and a half and haven't been tracking, so it seemed like I was eating a lot more.
Ok, all of that to tell you - I am doing great! I have lost a total of 71.5 pounds! Everyone was pleased with my progress. I don't have to go back for 6 more months. They did blood work this time, and because I'm not the worlds best at remembering to take my vitamins, I figured I'd get a terrible report on that, too, but come to find out, the only thing that didn't look good was my Vitamin D. I blame it on the lack of sunshine lately. I lost quite a few inches over my pre-surgery measurements and my August measurements. If you're interested, the total loss compared to my May measurements are (in inches): Neck - 1.25, Waist - 10.5, Chest - 8.0, Hips - 9.25, Arms - 2.75 each, Thighs - 5.5 each. I am going through clothes like crazy - as you can see from the changes in the measurements! In fact, my mom and I bought a lot of shirts for me at Target the weekend of my birthday in August, and a few of them were too tight. I didn't take them back because I knew they would fit sooner or later - and now, they all fit or are too big. Go figure! The hardest part about that is that I LOVE to shop. It is hard for me not to go crazy and buy some of the cute things I find, so I try to limit myself to one or two things a month. According to the doctor, I have at least 40 more pounds to 'easily' lose, than anything after that he said will come with hard work on my part. Gives me something to look forward to, and make a goal for.
So, I'll try to keep updating the tracker, so you can follow the progress. I wanted to post a picture with this one, but don't have one, but don't worry - I'll have one to post after the holiday!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I remember in FCA in college, a lot of my friends and I had the same 'favorite verse'. I even remember a overly petty discussion between two people (one of whom may or may not have been me) who both claimed it was 'their verse'. Seriously, like there aren't tons of other verses in the Bible. I digress....the verse I'm referring to is Jeremiah 29:11 -

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

I have been thinking a lot lately about my future and what God has planned for me. Certainly I have strong desires in my heart for certain plans, and I want so strongly to believe that they are desires God has put in my heart, and not desires Rebecca has placed there. In the past few days I have been very sensitive to those plans, and have even begun to think about what my life will look like if these things don't work out. Will I be able to be happy? Will I still praise God? Will I be bitter? Will my introverted nature cause me to withdraw even more? What will my motivation be? What will my goals look like?
Then I have other thoughts too, such as: If these desires/plans do not come to fruition, does that mean I have done something wrong? Have I disappointed God? ...beyond repair? Have my past sins cost me future happiness?
Other moments there are thoughts that resemble these: Does God remember me? (I mean, I know I live in Kansas and all, but I *think* I remember reading He hears prayers even when they don't come from Texas.) Has He given up on me? Have I turned my back on Him so many times that He has hardened his heart toward me? How much longer do I have to be in the valley?
I don't share these thoughts, what I share with others are some of my desires (because some are too strong to hold in), and my own personal plans. Of course I have plans - I'm an ISTJ, a classic Type A, a first born! I probably came out of the womb with plans, because trust me - I've been making them ever since! I know in my mind and heart how I want the next few weeks to look, the next few months, and even the next few years. I'm trying to take the proper steps in the directions I need to go to make that happen. I feel like I have been stagnant regarding my place in life for the past three or four years, now I'm ready to move forward again.
I need to constantly remember that moving forward doesn't mean I'm the leader (despite my ISTJ tendencies, Type A personality, or first-born predisposition) - in this case I need to follow. After all, HE knows the plans HE has for me (He even knows the plans I have for myself). I pray I can submit myself fully to His plans, even if they are not my own.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Fall Texas Trip

I went to Texas last weekend to enjoy some time with my family. I originally scheduled the trip because I was homesick, and didn't plan much for the weekend. However, as the trip approached, my dance card quickly filled up! I arrived on Thursday afternoon, and my cousin and her adorable kids picked me up at the airport. We spent a fun afternoon and evening at their house, and I even had a pajama party with Sadie. (Let me clarify - pajama party in this sense meant me sleeping on 1/3 of the bed while Sadie slept on the other 2/3!!! However, I wouldn't have traded it for the world!). Friday Morning, we got up bright and early and headed to meet my mom for a fun-filled day at the Dallas Arboretum's Fall Festival.

Here are two of my favorite pictures of Sadie and Andrew from the fall festival. They had pumpkins everywhere!!!

Andrew really was having fun - and I think this picture is adorable - but he was a little hungry at this point!!
This is Denise, Sadie, and me on the edge of the hay-bale maze.

Relaxing and playing on the lawn after our picnic lunch. The weather was beautiful.

The 'girls'! Sadie, my mom, Denise, and me. We have a good shot of me and Denise, but it's on her camera...

Me & Sadie Posing! Isn't she beautiful?

Me and Denise - gotta love the wind-blown look!

After a fun filled day, we met back up with dad and Christopher and helped them unload the truck of tea supplies into the warehouse. Then it was off to Outback for some much-needed steak. This is a picture my mom took of me & my brother.
Saturday morning, my mom, Aunt Sharon, Denise, and I went to Northpark Mall in Dallas to participate in the Dallas County Race for the Cure. My mom and I had planned on walking it, and I asked my aunt and cousin to participate as well. I was so excited that they decided to join us. There were 35,000 people there, and it was crazy packed! I had set a goal for myself of 45 minutes, and I reached my goal! I was so excited, but aside from that, I was so proud of my aunt. She has gone from having trouble walking a year ago, to completing the 5K! It made my day to see her out there, and it meant a lot to me to share the day with three women I love and admire so much.

Me & Aunt Sharon post-race (all nice and sweaty!)

The crew pre-race - notice the long sleeves - they weren't on very long!

The crew post-race. We did it! I do have to say, after participating in the Race for the Cure in both Dallas and Kansas City that both events were well organized, and overwhelming. I am proud to have been a part of them both.

After the race we had a great breakfast together, then parted ways for a few hours. That night, we had everyone over at my parent's house for dinner and games. (Everyone except Uncle Andy who had a lot of dental work done a couple of days before that - he was definitely missed!)

Playing in the floor with sweet Andrew. I'm pretty smitten with him! It was hard to believe that when I saw him in July he wasn't sitting up at all. They change so fast!!!

Sunday we went to Hillsboro to see my Aunt Tena & Uncle Steve and my cousin Courtney, her husband Cody, and their two adorable boys Brayden and Dawson. Brayden kept us entertained to say the least! He is such a bundle of energy but is one of the sweetest boys. Dawson was born the Friday before my birthday, making him 8 weeks old. I got to spend a lot of time cuddling with him and feeding him. It melted my heart!
It was great visiting with them, and I must say I'm so proud of Court and her family. She's a great mom, and I know Dawson is going to be as incredible as his big brother!

Monday I visited the famous Val for a much needed haircut! After that, it was 'family day' with just the four of us, including taking inventory in the tea warehouse and playing games. I'm really excited for my dad as he continues to branch out and find businesses and ventures he enjoys. I have no doubt that Tropical Tea Co will be a huge success. (Check it out -
All too soon it was time to head to the airport to return to reality!
It has been a short week, but a rough week since I returned.
Lots of things going on in Kansas City!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New York Trip


September, 2009

Warning: This post will be LONG!

Not that long ago - ok, ok, a month ago! - my mom and I took a trip we had been dreaming of for years. We both love musicals, and have seen many productions together, and had both always wanted to see a production (or two...or three) on Broadway. We had talked about making the trip for the past couple of years, but when you are both educators and slaves to the school calendar, and when you live 500 miles apart, it is a little difficult! So, mom's retirement this year, and my *cough, cough* 30th birthday made for perfect timing of our trip! Believe it or not, I have made a handful of trips with my dad, but not really any like this with my mom, so I was really excited about spending one-on-one time together. We decided what we wanted to do most, then booked the majority of our trip through (they were excellent, by the way, and I would highly recommend them to anyone looking to go to NYC).

We left on a Wednesday, and came home on Sunday, so the challenge was to fit everything we wanted to do into those 5 days! I had been to New York once before, but mom hadn't, so we made a list of everything we wanted to see and do, then planned our trip from there. Luckily, I love planning and organizing, and I really love trip and event planning. We were able to see almost everything we wanted to see. I spent hours on the internet before we left figuring out the subway system, and studying the map of the city. I'm very visual, so once I see a map of something I can usually find my way around easily. I did tell mom before we left that we were probably going to get lost at least once, and that we would just turn it into an adventure. Well...I'm happy to report, we never got lost....and - we never had to take a cab!

We arrived in New York around lunch time Wednesday and took the shuttle from the airport to the hotel. Our room wasn't ready yet, and we were told that they booked us in a one-bed room, instead of a room that had two beds, but they would update us to a suite if we didn't mind it being a smoking suite. We decided to take the chance, as we were told we could always move rooms if it smelled too much like smoke. We lucked out - our room was big - and it didn't smell like smoke at all. It came with a kitchenette, and was two rooms. It was nice, not fancy, but nice for what little time we spent in there. Upon checking in, we promptly headed out the side door of the hotel and walked ten feet to the subway. We bought week long unlimited ride passes, then established the rules for the weekend - no matter who had the backpack with all of our stuff, the other person always had to carry their cell phone and subway card. It worked out well!

I wanted to spend our first day exploring the larger parts of the city, so we took the subway all the way to Brooklyn and walked the Brooklyn Bridge back into Manhattan. It was cloudy and windy, but it didn't matter! This is the view from the beginning of the Brooklyn side of the bridge....

....and here we are at the entrance of the bridge. There was a sign on the ground that said "Welcome to Brooklyn" - that's why we were kneeling down, but the guy who took our picture omitted that part!

This is my favorite picture of the bridge. Randall said it looked like a post card! I loved the walk over the bridge because we were able to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline. There were a lot of people walking over the bridge - tourists and locals - and it was neat to see so many different people.

From the Brooklyn Bridge, we walked through City Hall Park, and found a deli to get lunch. From there, we made our way to Canal Street. I have to say, I wasn't that impressed with Canal Street. It was everything I had heard about, but it just wasn't my style. I did find one purse that I loved - but it was $120! When the original is over $1,000, I guess it should be expected that a knock-off would be over $100, but I passed it up. From there, we couldn't decide if we wanted to walk through Little Italy or head back toward the hotel and Times Square. We decided to see if Little Italy was anything like Chinatown, and we were pleasantly surprised! We stumbled upon a street fair in Little Italy, and were so glad we did! They had all kinds of carnival games, and tons of food vendors everywhere you looked! All the restaurants had booths and tables lining the streets. It was really neat, and I wished we were hungry when we went, because all the food smelled amazing! We spent the rest of the day exploring, and made our way to Times Square that night. We found a little restaurant on Restaurant Row off of Times Square that had tapas, so I had muscles for the first time! I wanted to try to eat something different each meal, and this was a great start to that adventure!

That night we went up on top of the Empire State Building. It was beautiful! The weather was cold and cloudy, but we were able to see the city. The lights were amazing, and it's beauty had me in awe. I've had the opportunity to see some very beautiful places in the U.S., but cities and large buildings always leave me breathless. The picture on the left is of the Chrysler Building.

The next morning, we got up bright and early, and headed down to Rockefeller Plaza. Our first visit was to the Top of the Rock observation deck. We were able to see all of the same sights from the the night before, only in the daytime. It was cloudy and sprinkling, but we really lucked out that there weren't that many people up there. I walked around and took tons of pictures, while mom made friends with a security guard/guide up there. He was really friendly, and showed me where Yankee Stadium was, then he graciously took our picture with the Empire State Building in the background.

This was only a foreshadowing of the day to come! After the Top of the Rock, we explored the rest of Rockefeller Plaza, then headed to Macy's. The weather was much cooler than I expected it to be, so I just had to buy a new sweater at Macy's! We spent a couple of hours in the store, and were both in awe. It was huge!!! We had lunch on the 8th floor, the made our way - purchases in hand - to our next adventure of the day...Liberty Island and Ellis Island. We were very fortunate that the same week we were booking our trip, the National Park Service re-opened access to the Crown of the Statue, and we were able to get tickets. Despite having to walk close to 500 steps, it was worth it! We went through security then boarded the ferry to Liberty Island. As we were on the ferry, the clouds started to break, and it started warming up. We were blessed to spend time on both islands in beautiful weather.
Upon arriving at Liberty Island, we locked up the backpack, then got to go to the front of the line to get into the pedestal. Apparently, there is usually an elevator that takes people from the bottom of the pedestal to the museum, but just our luck, it was out of order that day. addition to the 300+ stairs we had to climb inside of the statue, we had to climb the pedestal as well! I didn't complain, thought, I was excited that we had the opportunity. Our group to the top only had two other people in it, so we were able to take our time climbing. I'm not gonna lie...I was nervous that despite my recent efforts I wouldn't be in good enough shape and I would cramp up or be exhausted by the time we got to the top. I underestimated myself. We took it slow, and stopped a couple of times, more so because the stairs were tiny, steep, and warm! However, once we got to the top, we were awarded with amazing views! The first guide at the top didn't really say much to us, but we were lucky enough that just when we started to leave to go down another guide came up and asked us if we had any questions. He started pointing out sights and telling us about Lady Liberty. The crown is the only place where you can touch her, and the only place you can see what is written on the tablet she carries. He even pointed out the IKEA in Brooklyn!!! He also gave us some history lessons that were interesting, pointing out where different forts were and how no ships could have entered the harbor without being in firing range of one of them. (I'm not good on history


The pictures at the left are - 1. Me & Mom at the top of the crown. 2. The knowledgeable tour guide. This picture also shows her 'hair'. Because the statue is copper, you can feel how hot or cold it is. 3. The tablet and pedestal from the crown, and people walking around Liberty Island. I had to stick the camera out the window to get this shot - good thing it had a strap on it!!!

Mom on the pedestal of the Statue. I think this is my favorite picture of her from the trip - even after all that climbing, she looks great!

This is the view of the statue from the pedestal - it was a l-o-n-g climb!!!!!

From Liberty Island, we took the ferry over to Ellis Island. I was skeptical about Ellis Island, but was honestly surprised and pleased. We had audio tours of the grounds, and it was neat to hear all of the stories and memories from people who had come to the US through Ellis Island. Mom's great grandmother entered the United States through Ellis Island, so it was that much more interesting to me to think of the personal history my family had there. I can't imagine what people went through to come to the states and make a new life for themselves. Suffice it to say, I was humbled.

This is another one of my favorite pictures from the trip. I took it as the ferry was leaving Ellis Island heading back to Manhattan. I love the American Flag and the Manhattan skyline in the background.

I think we could have stayed on Ellis Island a little longer, especially since the weather had turned out so beautiful, but we had a big night ahead of us! We had tickets to Lion King. Mom had seen it in Dallas, but I had never seen it, and it was my request for the trip. I had heard so much about it, and hoped that my expectations weren't set too high. First, however, we had to continue our quest for different food. We changed at the hotel, then started walking toward the theater, figuring we would find something to eat along the way. We ended up in a (cold) little pub where I had some fabulous crab cakes. Then, it was off to the theater. We booked our theater tickets through, so we didn't really know what to expect as far as our seats. I've become kind of spoiled because I have never had bad theater seats.....and this time was no exception! We were 3rd row, right in the center. Aside from the woman beside me who kept eating the most disgusting smelling candy ever, it was amazing. I was in awe the whole time! The costumes, the acting, the stage! I could see it over and over again! It was a perfect night to end a perfect day!

Friday morning was our only disappointment of the trip, but even that ended up working out to be good. We had booked a Ground Zero/Lower Manhattan Walking Tour, and I thought it was for Friday morning, but apparently it was for Thursday morning. Bummer. So...we took the train down there and did our own tour. I was a little disappointed at first, because I kept thinking it would be this silent, reverent place, but failed to realize that it would be an active construction site. Silly me! They are busy constructing the memorial and Freedom Tower. We walked around for a bit then found our way to the Ground Zero Museum. It was fabulous. There were artifacts from the rubble, quotes, a huge timeline, video and audio clips, and samples of the letters and postings people left on the fences following the attacks. It was very reverent and quiet in the museum, and I found myself teary eyed many times, so proud to be an American and to see such tangible examples of the American Spirit. We opted not to do a survivor/family member walking tour, but instead made our way to St. Paul's Church. The church was featured in a series of books mom brought me after my surgery, so it was fresh in my mind, and a place she really wanted to visit. I didn't realize it was the same church George Washington went to upon his inaugration. It has a very storied history. The church was the hub for volunteer care in the days after the attacks. Men and women working to clear the rubble would come to the church for a hot meal, first aid, chiropractors, and even a place to sleep. They also received many signs, posters, letters, banners, etc. from people all around the world. The one that struck me the most was from Oklahoma. It hit close to home.

After an emotinal morning, we decide to make good use of our 48-hour Double Decker Bus Tour. We rode through Central Park West, the upper West Side, saw Grant's Tomb (which was surprising beautiful inside the monument), went up into Harlem, saw the Appolo Theater, then went through the Upper East Side, along Central Park East, past the museums, and hopped off at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. That place is HUGE! Luckily, mom and I have similar tastes in art, so we didn't have to waste time in the Medieval or Asian sections. They had a cool photography exhibit, and had a large selection of modern art. There was an awesome sculpture on the rooftop, then we ended up in the American Art wing, where they had displays of Tiffany Glass. We could have stayed there for at least another hour as well, but decided to hop back on the bus and head back to the hotel for our evening adventure. That night we had tickets to Billy Elliot. First, however, we set off toward the theatre district in search of dinner. We came across a Cuban restaurant, and we both fell in love! It was fabulous - the atmosphere, the food, the service - everything. Definately my favorite place that we ate. Then it was off to the theater. Neither of us had seen the movie or the musical, so we really had no expectations of Billy Elliot, except that it had won so many Tony's. We were blown away. It was so different from Lion King, yet so amazing in its own way. Lion King was all about the costumes and the singing was incredible. Billy Elliot was all about the dancing, and man, could they dance! The sets were basic, which was appropriate because that kept all the focus on the cast and dancing. It was incredible, and I'm glad we took the risk and added it to our list of things to see! After another long day, we headed back to the hotel and crashed!

Saturday morning we had tickets to do the NBC Studios Tour at 9:00am. On the way over, we were trying to figure out which shows we watched were on NBC, and couldn't really come up with many. I had done the tour when I went in high school, but they had completely re-done it this time. Despite not being able to name many NBC shows we watch, we loved the tour. We were able to see the MSNBC room, the set for the Jimmy Fallon show, and the Saturday Night Live set. All in all, it was very fun. From NBC, we treked to Central Park where we had brunch reservations at Tavern on the Green. was beautiful and the food was delicious. Basically, Tavern on the Green is like a tea party on steroids - but it was amazing. We were able to eat outside, as the weather was gorgeous, and they had paper lanterns strung in the trees. They also had topiaries shaped as animals - a unicorn, a rabbit, and a gorilla to name a few. Our brunch was three courses, and we took our time eating, because I was determined to eat as much as possible! For an appetizer, I had Greek yogurt drizzled with honey and topped with homemade granola and fresh berries. I had never tried Greek yogurt before, and I'm not the biggest yogurt fan, but I am now hooked on Greek yogurt! Second course was scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, sausage, and toast. The eggs were the best I think I have ever had, and that's saying a lot because I personally think I make amazing eggs! For dessert, I had homemade strawberry shortcake with fresh cream. Oh....I was stuffed for the rest of the day!!! I really don't remember everything mom had, because I was so enamoured with my own food, but her dessert was to die for! It was a peanut butter torte on an oatmeal crust. Words can not describe! After endulging ourselves, we decided walking was a good idea! We took a short stroll through Central Park and over to the 5th Avenue Shops. Of course we went into FAO Schwarz, then window shopped at Tiffany's, and went into Trump Tower....and what trip would be complete without NikeTown! I'm sure mom was thrilled but we went through all 5 floors of NikeTown!

At that point, we made the decision to try to get tickets to another musical that night. There is a place in Times Square that offers dicounted tickets starting at 3:00pm the day of, so we decided we would stand in line and take our chances. Well...our chances paid off, because we scored great tickets at a 50% discount to Mary Poppins for that night. With time to kill before the musical, we decided to hop on another tour bus and go through some parts of Manhattan we had not explored yet. Feeling brave, we set a time limit and told ourselves that wherever we were at that time, we would get off the bus and either find dinner or head back to the hotel to get ready for Mary Poppins. On the bus tour, we saw the Flat Iron Building, Macy's, and Madison Square Garden, so it was well worth it! Luck for us, our predetermined time came and we were in Greenwich Village. There were lots of sidewalk cafes and restaurants, but we decided instead to go to the hotel and clean up then find dinner. There was a sushi place right across from the hotel that we had come across a few times, so we tried it out that night. I never in a million years thought I would be eating sushi with my mom, but we did! Then it was off to musical #3.

Mary Poppins was very different on stage, in fact, they changed some of the music to fit a stage production. I have to say, again I was very impressed. The acting, singing, and dancing were great, and the sets were amazing. I'm really glad we choose to see a third musical. They were all so different, but equally incredible.

Sunday was our last day, and supposedly our shuttle was going to pick us up at the hotel at 1:30. So...we slept in a little, then picked up some souviners that we wanted, then took the train to the top of Central Park. Knowing that we would be traveling the rest of the day, we wanted to get as much walking in as we could. It was another beautiful day weather-wise, and we had a great walk through the park. It was neat because the bottom part of the park is very touristy, but the furthur north you get, the more locals you see. We saw tons of joggers and walkers, and lots of parents with strollers. We even came across a playground with a family setting up a birthday party. It was a very fitting end to our trip. We walked back to the hotel, finished packing, checked out, and waited for our ride to the airport.

All in all, it was an incredible trip that I will remember for a long time. Everything went smoothly, we both had a great time, and made many memories, and we saw as much as a person can see in 4 days!

I am so blessed to have such a great relationship with my mother and that we enjoy so many of the same things. I also reflected many times during the trip on how luck I am that my mother is healthy and able to take trips where she outlasts me! After her heart attack last year, I wasn't sure where we would be at this time this year. Look how far we've come!

We took over 400 pictures of trip, sharing her camera. If you know me, you know I like black and whites, and love landscape and architecture pictures, so the pictures below are just a few of the ones I took along the way. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dr check-up and Weekend Fun

Ok...I'll admit, this is a little (or a lot) overdue. I had my 3 month check up with the surgeon on the 20th of August. As you hopefully guessed, no news is good news!

I was down 47 pounds at the appointment, and all my other vitals looked great. The surgeon was pleased with how my scars had healed up (most of them are not very noticeable). The dietitian was pleased with my eating habits and how much protein I was managing to get every day. She did urge me to continue to try new things, even though it is hard for me to branch out sometimes. The exercise physiologist was very pleased that I had completed a 5K and that I was walking and jogging so much. The psychologist was pleased with my 'mental state'. So, overall I would say it was a good visit!

Prior to my 3 month, and in the month since that visit, I have really been feeling great. I have a lot more energy, and have actually been enjoying my workouts! It's fun to be actually seeing results. I am finally to the stage where my clothes are getting too big, so I spent a lot of time the past two weeks going through old clothes. I had eight boxes of clothes in the garage that were all too small, but I didn't want to get rid of. You know me - they were organized by sizes! haha! So, I pulled out three boxes a couple of weeks ago, and I have gone through them and sorted them into three piles - 1. clothes to put in the closet; 2. clothes to give away (too big or don't like them anymore); 3. clothes that are still a little too snug. Of the three piles, group #1 was by far the largest! So large in fact that I didn't have anywhere to put all of my clothes! I went to Goodwill this weekend to search for jeans (3 pair for $4.50 each!) and found a small dresser for $15 as well. It was so ugly - yellow and blue - but the price was right! After contemplating, I went back and got the dresser, brought it home and painted it, and now I have a home for some of my clothes - and it looks great in my room! Yeah!

In other news....I had a crazy busy weekend. Story of my life! We had football practice Friday night, and Jaylen came home with me after practice. We came home to a flooded basement - I was not pleased! I hadn't done laundry for over two weeks, and that was my main plan for the weekend. After cleaning out the water with my trusty shop vac, and pouring professional strength drano down the drain, I hoped things were taken care of. However, Saturday afternoon it flooded again! UGH! A quick call to the landlord later and Roto-Rooter was scheduled to come out. Luckily it didn't take him too long to fix it on Sunday - but that meant I had to go to the Laundromat to get my laundry done! Not my plan for the weekend.
Highlights of the weekend, however, were: spending time at City Market with my friends Liz and Aaron. I stocked up on spices, sauce mixes, and potatoes, and picked up a pound of bison patties to try. We also visited the bike shop, browsed the art fair, and perused the antique store. I don't get to do a lot of stuff with friends, so I had a blast with Liz and Aaron! Then it was back home to cook 'breakfast' and off to football. The 4th graders won! It was a good game, and the weather was perfect for football. The rest of the weekend was spent cleaning, doing laundry, cooking, and preparing for the busy week ahead!

I'm excited that fall is here - the trees are turning, and it is a beautiful time in KC! Have a great week!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The last 5 weeks

Wow, I haven't updated in 5 weeks, and A LOT has happened in that "short" amount of time! I want to dedicate a post to each of the major events that have taken place, but let me just give you a preview of what has been going on in my life since August 19th:

  • I had my 3 month check up with the surgeon. It went great and he was very pleased with my progress. I'll dedicate a full post to it soon.

  • I turned 30!!!!! I know - I can't believe it either! This was the first birthday I spent with my parents since I turned 17, and I couldn't have asked for a better weekend. I'll dedicate a full post to it soon (complete with pictures!).

  • I am losing my hair. Yes, it's true. It's depressing. I knew it was a side effect of the surgery and weight loss. It will "eventually" grow back. I will NOT be dedicating a post to this - it's depressing enough as it is!

  • School started. With a vengeance. I'm teaching one and a half classes and coordinating three total. On top of supervising 25 students, a brand new graduate intern, and two work studies. Oh, and I still don't have a budget to go off of, even though our Fiscal Year started July 1st. Fun times. I may dedicate a post to this in the future, kind of a 'day in the life of" - that is if you really want to know, and promise not to get bored to tears!

  • I ran/walked my 2nd 5K Labor Day weekend. I did better than last time, but didn't make my goal. I'll dedicate a post to this soon.

  • I went to New York City with my mom. It was an incredible 5 days. We did and saw so much in the time we were there. We took over 400 pictures (go figure!). I'll dedicate at least one post about this soon.

  • I made a decision about my future. Yes, I finally did it. After being wishy-washy for 2 years, and then saying I'll do something when my job changes, I finally came to a resolution that I feel confident in. I feel that God is really moving me in the right direction, and things are starting to fall into place. Not all of this I feel comfortable sharing over the Internet because I am still fully employed and like and need my job. I'll share updates as I can, but let's just say, I'm looking forward to a hot summer next summer.

  • I'm going home for a few days in October and couldn't be more excited. I'm going to spend a day or so with my cousin and her amazing kids, spend some time with my parents, hopefully see my newest baby cousin, get a much needed hair cut (if there's any left to cut by then!), and run/walk the Race for the Cure in Dallas with my awesome mom, amazing Aunt Sharon, and incredible cousin Denise. I love my family!!!!

So, see...I haven't been neglecting you. I've been a busy lady! I have already proven that my blog posts are not very short in nature, so even when I'm tempted to sit down and write a short piece, it never turns out that way. Keep close over the weekend and early next week, I'll be posting a lot of updates (that is...after I get these pesky papers and quizzes graded!!).

Love you all!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Obsession, maybe????

Before surgery, I never ate the same food two days in a row. I'm not even kidding. I'm weird like that. If I had leftovers, there was always a day in between the original consumption and the reheating of the leftovers. If I had cereal for breakfast one morning, I didn't have it for breakfast the next morning. I would go out of my way, or sometimes not even eat dinner, if it kept me from eating the same thing twice. Fast forward to three months ago (can you believe it has been that long?!). The doctor went in an did this procedure on my stomach, but somehow it turned into something more like brain surgery! Now, instead of avoiding the same foods two days in a row, I eat the same two things constantly! Without fail. It's actually quite funny...or ironic.

Here is one example (I'll share the other example another day, but it's not nearly as exciting):
You take some chicken, oil, and a Wok...

Add some Rice Stir Fry mix, fresh zucchini, onion, soy sauce, water, and a sauce packet....
Ta-da! You get some YUMMY Kung Pao Chicken!
Yes, welcome to my new obsession - Kung Pao Chicken. I eat it no less than 4 days a week, sometimes twice a day. It is that good. I go hooked when I realized Panda Express was practically the only fast food place I could eat, because everywhere else either offers fried entrees or bread! Let me tell you, after a couple of attempts of just eating the meat off of a fast food hamburger, I decided to just let it go....haha. Ok, back to the Kung Pao. I decided it wasn't too economical to run through Panda Express every evening, so I scoured the grocery store and found alternatives. There are two different packets of sauce that I have found, a frozen ready to make packet that includes the chicken, and a boxed packet that you add your own chicken to. I have tried them all. I'm still not sure which one I like the best....the only thing I am sure of right now is that it will take me probably 5 days, 2 meals a day to eat all of this Kung Pao....but it sure is delicious!!
Lots to post in the coming days - I have my 3 month check-up tomorrow morning; classes start on Monday; and I have a birthday coming up. My parents are in town this weekend (yeah!!!!!!), and we're hosting a party for my friends at my place on Saturday evening. I'm excited - now if only this durn rain would go away (I'm sorry West Texas family, but we're drowning up here! If I could send you some, believe me - I would!). That brings me to another funny point, then I must get back to finishing grading rubrics and making cookies for the weekend.....
I came home Monday afternoon and my elderly oh-so-sweet next door neighbor - whom I affectionately call "Old Man" because I can't remember his name - was standing on his porch. The sky was threatening rain, so after saying hi, I asked him if he thought we were going to get some rain that evening. His reply, "I hope so...we sure need it." When I got inside, I thought about how interesting his comment was from my perspective or that of most of my family. See, I have decided that in Kansas City, people "need" rain so that they don't have to water their yards. It's true....people around here don't regularly water their yards - some never do. Weird, I know. Where I come from, and where most of my family lives, they really do "need" rain. They will go weeks without rain. I think we have gone a total of 9 consecutive days this summer without rain....but apparently we "need" it.
....Most of life is about perspective, isn't it?