27 May 2010

Celebrating 2

We've had a bit of a dilemma about Jayce's birthday each year, because we don't have any family nearby to have just a little family party, and since Jayce is still young, we don't know if a "friend party" includes his friends or ours.  So this year we decided that we would celebrate his birthday as kind of a "2 years of being a family" sort of thing.  Which for us meant that we went out to eat at a place we all like as opposed to a "kid place," (Olive Garden, if you must know), then went to Toys R Us, and then came home for cupcakes with a few friends.  (He was so excited about the cupcake and the candles, look at that ornery grin!)



The next day, we all headed out to the Peoria Zoo, which we hadn't been to before.


We made the dreadful parent mistake of forgetting the stroller, so we rented a wagon, which Jayce insisted on pulling instead of riding in.  But at least we didn't have to carry the diaper bag, camera bag, water bottles, etc.


There was a brand new Africa exhibit, which was incredible.  The day was also astonishingly beautiful.  It had that perfectly warm but not too hot mid 70s thing going on, blue skies, sunshine, and since we were out by lunchtime, we timed it just right to miss the crowds.


I also am going to break my self-imposed rule about how many pictures to use in a single post, because there were just too many great ones from the day.


A perfect little profile.  If only Chris had been looking back at Jayce, but I still love this one.


And hey, I made it into a picture!  That's me!


I always take this shot, I just can't resist it.


When we came home, Jayce went straight outside to play with his favorite new toy, his lawnmower.  If you are wondering, "Why the fireman hat?" the answer is, because he walked past it on the way out the door.


A momentary pause in mowing to help with some other lawn maintenance,


but then he was back to the mowing,


and we had a perfect little family weekend, which I am looking forward to reliving this Memorial Day.








26 May 2010

2 Year Old Stuff

Last week, this little baby


turned into this big boy.

IMG_2308 - Version 2.jpg

I am okay with it. Last year was different, that whole "my first baby's first birthday" thing, and also the transition from referring to him as a baby to referring to him as a toddler. I didn't like that one bit. But him turning 2 feels right because he has seemed like a 2 year old for a while now, I've just been waiting for the day to actually arrive.

I've decided that instead of listing out all of his 2 year old statistics, I'll just list out a few of the things that we want to remember about him at this age/stage. (Is there really a difference? Perhaps the difference is only in my head.)

-A month or so ago, there was a big fire in town, I think it was a house (not sure, really need to read the paper more.) Anyway, we were out for a wagon ride and suddenly there was a huge black cloud of smoke on one side of town and several firetrucks went zooming by. Jayce was still not really talking much at the time, but I showed him the smoke and he obviously heard the firetrucks. This event really sticks out in his mind for some reason, and it is the first real instance of him telling us a "story" over and over. Every once in a while, Jayce will walk over to the window, point outside in the direction of that house, and say "moke!" looking back at us for affirmation. Once we've agreed, "Yeah, there was smoke out there," then he'll move on. "Outside. Hot. Weee-ooo, weee-ooo (the firetruck). Fire." Somewhere in there, he'll pause and blow, like he's blowing out candles. The funny part is that the words are not put together in a sentence, they are each a statement about what happened. I know that in a few years (or in one year, not sure how that goes), this would become one of those rambling little kid sentences, "Hey Mom, remember that one time when there was a fire and lots of smoke and all the firetrucks went by and their sirens were on and..." It is kind of fun to get a sweet abbreviated little preview of what is to come.

-Last week the weather was beautiful and we spent as much time as possible playing outside. On one day Jayce tripped 3 times and scraped his knee a little more each time. When I was loading him into the car that afternoon he was telling me about his boo boo (saying boo boo and pointing to his knee), I nodded sympathetically and said, "Aww, do you want mom to kiss it?" and leaned forward to plant a little kiss on his knee. He then promptly leaned forward and kissed his knee himself. Yesterday he kept showing me a spot on his finger, saying "boo boo" and then kissing it, which apparently now go hand in hand.

-Jayce has a Noah's Ark puzzle, and since Noah is the prized piece, he often goes missing. Whenever we lose something in the house and are looking for it, we usually call for it. I think this originated with Jayce looking for Chris one time, but we do it with items that can't call back about where they're hiding, like bears, pacis, shoes, etc. Anyway, this week we were at the post office and Jayce was sitting up on the countertop while I filled out paperwork to ship a package. I was really aware of the line of people forming behind me and trying to rush through the form, so when Jayce turned to me and said "No-nah," I didn't pay much attention. I scooped him up and headed out the door, right past a man with white hair, a white beard and wire rimmed glasses. I'm just glad Jayce didn't point.

There was something else that I was thinking that I HAD to include, but it is eluding me at the moment. Stay tuned.

And happy belated birthday to my big boy.


25 May 2010

A Sweet Shot

Jayce received a bubble blowing lawnmower for his birthday, and it is his FAVORITE thing. His other lawnmowers were more for balance as he was learning to walk so they didn't go through the grass and he was always so bummed about this.  There is little that excites him more than watching his dad cut the grass, he was just so excited to be able to do the same thing.


And I was so excited about the trees framing my little lawnmower, and the lovely sunflare.

I am less pleased about the sunflare blob on my little buddy, but am still pretty happy with the overall result. What do you think?

I'm linking to Sweet Shot Tuesday.




19 May 2010

Well, Now I've Gone and Done It


I came home yesterday with this.  Boy, am I in trouble.  Not with Chris, but with me.

I have, for the most part, managed to maintain an "I don't sew" attitude, mostly because this prevents me from taking on even more projects than I already have lined up for myself.  It also keeps me out of fabric stores and off of sewing blogs.

But it's just that, people keep coming up with ways to make clothes from J Crew, and Anthropology, and I just can't afford stores like that.  And they keep making cute little items for their kids or themselves out of their husbands old shirts.  And they make statements like, 10 minute sewing project, even beginners can do this, you simply need a basic running stitch, etc, which have made me think that if only I possessed a sewing machine, than I would be able to make something like they have made.


I have known all along that if I was going to invest in a sewing machine, even a basic one, than I would have to commit to learning about it, how to use it, and trying to make it worth the investment.  But then I saw this baby at the thrift store a month ago and took a second look.

And when I saw it was still around yesterday, I thought about it again.  At $29.99, if it worked, than that would be a decent price.  But it wasn't $29.99, it was 75% off $29.99.  So for $7.50, I brought it home.


I don't think I'm quite ready to dive in just yet.  I'm still just getting used to it being around.  I did, however, call my mom who is coming to visit in a few weeks and inform her that I'd bought a sewing machine, and she might have to show me how to use it.  She agreed.

So does anyone own a "Brother" brand sewing machine that they're happy with?  I would love any encouragement that you have to throw out there.  I saw a picture of someone who had sewn through their finger the other day, and I'm currently trying to edge it out of my mind with images of pretty dresses, pillows, curtains and baby quilts.






18 May 2010

Heidelberg and the John Templeton Award

I know that up until this point I have been writing mostly in a "what we did on which days" sort of format, and I wanted to write a bit more just to process the whole experience.  I often feel like I want to blog so that I can show a few people what we were up to or what we saw, but I also want to blog about how I feel or what I thought about a given experience, so here is part 2.  (Furthermore, I am currently wide awake on the flight and feeling like being as productive as I can be, so I'll be making good use of this local blogging tool for as long as my battery will let me :)


Anyway, back to our week.  I'll try to stop using the words "incredible" and "beautiful" for a bit now, because I'm as tired of typing them as you probably are of reading them.


We had such a fantastic time in Germany, as we had anticipated, but we didn't really completely know the format of our days until we were in the middle of them.  Needless to say, the foundation kept us all very busy.  We had little to no free time, with the exception of what I had on the last day of colloquium, and spent all of our time concentrated with the same people, the award winners and their families.  What I had not anticipated was that the foundation had also invited several of the examiners who had chosen these winners to come and participate in these activities with us as well, in addition to a few other senior scholars from Ivy League schools.


The networking opportunities that were made available to the winners in these circumstances were incredible.  I remember on the 3rd night leaning over to Chris at dinner and saying, "How many more dinners do we have to eat with these people?"  Now this is just the introverted side of me, because you have to think, we all just met one another a few days before, and now we are doing EVERYTHING together: breakfast, lunch, dinner, outings, colloquiums, receptions, we even stay in the same places.  So to some degree, I was starting to feel like I was running out of things to talk about with these people.  We had passed the pleasantries a few days ago, like their schools, families, jobs, and I didn't know if I could keep it all up without a little break somewhere.


But, it ended up being so helpful.  The winners (as they were referred to all week), were able to meet one another with an assumed understanding about each other's level of scholarship, listen to each other present research and participate in discussions and feedback along with the other more established scholars, and also have ample opportunity to develop non-prefessional relationships with one another.  So they gained one another's respect, participated (some) in one anther's scholarship, and became friends.  And with wives and partners participating in the week as well, they were all able to be maybe a bit more grounded than they would have been had they all just met at a conference, and were just trying to impress one another. It was so nice!


From my perspective, it was really great to talk to some of the other wives at this event, particularly the ones who's husbands taught at Ivy League Universities, and compare and contrast teaching loads and responsibilities.  Since we were coming to the conference from a small and relatively-unknown school (in that context), it was encouraging to see the ways that Chris and I are cared for at LCU compared to the stress that the professors and their families encounter at larger schools.



We were so encouraged by the foundation taking an interest in these young scholars, helping them on the front end of their careers, and rewarding them for both the work that they've already done and the promise that they see in them for the future.  We felt a bit unworthy most of the time, with all of the careful planning and money that obviously went into the event, but we couldn't have been more grateful.





17 May 2010

I’m On Etsy :)

While Chris was away at a conference last month I was finally able to work on something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, start an Etsy shop! I am so SO excited to finally have it started and partially filled, so allow me to introduce you to…


I have recently had the pleasure of entering the DIY scene, and even though I have always been relatively creative, I was surprised to discover that each successful project left me with a desire to make something else. I also like the process of looking at different things, and trying to figure out how I can make them into something better. I actually enjoy the challenge, and the impending trial and error, not just the finished product. Crazy, huh?

Picnik collage 1.jpg

Anyway, over these past months I have had numerous people make comments like, “I really like that, but don’t have the time/patience/energy to make one for myself.” To those people I now can say, “Well, since I’ve already worked out the kinks, I’ll just make one for you.” I’m pretty nice like that.

Picnik collage2.jpg

And so, here is my shop! I'm sorry there isn't more in there, I am continuing to fill it as I go, but couldn't wait any longer to get the word out. :) You can check it out at this link. Please let me know what you think, if there was something additional that you were hoping to find there, and most of all if there is something that you like. :)

16 May 2010

Heidelberg Day 6 and 7

Our final days in Germany were good ones. Chris had colloquium on Monday in addition to Saturday, but it was the first time that there had been no activities planned for the spouses, so I was able to just sleep in, get our stuff together to leave the next day, organize our pictures a little and do some shopping.


The next morning we headed out for a leisurely breakfast of coffee and pastries, and ended up going back for seconds on both things! We were just enjoying finally having some time to debrief from the whole event, get our thoughts together and get mentally prepared to head to Edinburgh that afternoon.


We didn't leave for the airport until after lunchtime, so we wandered around the city a bit more and got a few last pictures while the sun was shining. The weather ended up a lot better than it had started, and we had a warm and sunny day to end our stay and get some pictures by the river.


We enjoyed our last German meal in a little outdoor plaza, schnitzel, sausages, and apple strudel.


Also, more of our Germany pictures are now on Flickr, so click here if interested.

15 May 2010

Heidelberg Day 5


On our 5th day in Heidelberg, we went to a castle in a nearby town for lunch and a tour of the gardens.  Both were incredible, the cold and rainy weather finally broke so we were able to enjoy most of the tour in the sunshine, which made for a much more enjoyable experience.


It was the season for white asparagus while we were in Germany, which apparently only lasts for 6 weeks of the year, and this is a huge source of excitement for the Germans.  It's not a delicacy, but has that sort of connotation-something that isn't available that often, is a bit expensive, and a huge treat when it is served, so we had this with a few meals.  One such meal was lunchtime on this day when it was our main, and we were encouraged to go for the 1 lb. serving of white asparagus for our lunch.  This photo is of my serving, which was only 1/2 lb.  Chris did receive the full 1 lb. serving, which was 9 stalks, each the size of a large carrot!  They didn't taste bad, but it was such a monstrous amount.  I don't think that I could eat 1 lb. of anything in one sitting, let alone this asparagus!


After our tour of the gardens, we headed back to Heidelberg for one of our best meals, which was served in the Heidelberg castle.  We all took a tram sort of thing up to the castle, where they had a champagne reception on the terrace before dinner, (I know!) complete with that same professional photographer snapping pictures while we all chatted.


We then headed into the castle for a delicious meal with an incredible view from our table.




Heidelberg Day 4

Our 4th Day in Heidelberg was the first colloquium, which meant that the winners and evaluators were busy from 9-6 doing presentations. This part of the trip was closed to spouses and guests, (thankfully!) so they organized a day trip for us to the nearby town of Spryerer.


It was a beautiful little German town, known for having one of the largest cathedrals in all of Europe.


We had a tour of the city and the cathedral, and started and finished our trip in perfect German fashion, with a trip to the cafe with the best coffee and cakes in town, which I somehow neglected to get a picture of. We did feel bad for the men who were all busy being academic while we wandered around chatting, but not too bad.

12 May 2010

Day 3: Awarded

On Friday morning, we took a little tour of the city.  We didn't make it incredibly far because it was pretty cold and rainy, and it was really difficult to stay focused on the history of something when I was trying to make sure that my toes didn't fall asleep.  I was so bummed, because we have plenty of clothes that are well suited for walking around in weather like this, but when we had packed to leave on Sunday, the weather was still supposed to be warmish and sunny.  Oh well, it was still beautiful through the fog.


The castle looked particularly beautiful surrounded by a foggy cloud of rain.


We went to a delicious lunch and then got showered and ready for the award ceremony that evening.  The center had gone all out, as we saw throughout the rest of the trip, to make the whole experience a beautiful and memorable one.  There was a baroque group that played music during the event, and it was all incredible.  The inside of the hall where the ceremony was held was absolutely beautiful.


The research center had hired a professional photographer to take photos for the evening, and we discovered afterwards that we would each be receiving a disk of the photos from the evening.  Unfortunately I didn't know this at the time, and was a bit irritated that I didn't get a great picture of Chris receiving his award, because the photographer had jumped in front of me.  (But I'm sure that his picture is excellent, so you'll just have to wait for that.) I did however, make Chris pose for me in the room, because it was too incredible to not take advantage of.


Here is a photo of all of the winners.


I've decided that I'm going to upload our photos from the event onto a Flickr site, as to not bombard the blog with the hundreds of photos that I have already taken, but if anyone is curious then they can take a look.  I will link to the Flickr site on my next post, when it's all ready and available, but need to get ready for dinner at the moment, so it will have to wait for now.  More soon!


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