Reclaiming Experience

This blog is a tool for recording my experiences as well as evaluating my day-to-day life. With my camera in hand, I will make meaning out of my life.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Day 121: New Digs

What you see here is my new home.  I am very excited to call this place my home and I'm really looking forward to the amenities at this place.  One of the things I am looking forward to most is my "creativity room."  It is fun to have something new to plan and think about.  Here are some pictures of my new hacienda.

Other good news today: they went in to look at my grandmother's arteries and everything is clear.  She is back home tonight.  They still don't know what was causing the chest pain, but a bad heart is not to blame.  Thank you whoever is watching out for us up there. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Day 120: Land of Confusion

I picked today's title because I heard the Phil Collins song when I was in the car today and it seemed fitting. I'm feeling some mixed emotions tonight as I am sad about my grandmother and excited about getting my keys to my new place tomorrow.  I got a call this morning that my grandmother was in the hospital because of chest pains.  She fell very early in the morning and a couple hours later, woke my mom up at 4:00 to tell her that she needed to go in.  Now that some time has passed, we have found out that she needs surgery, but has no interest in getting it.  I talked to her on the phone and she sounded great, other than being annoyed that she had to stay in the hospital overnight.

I thought I'd take a moment to do a "grandmother and me" top 10 moments.  They are in no particular order, but here they are:
1: Learning to sew and having to turn the wheel by hand with the sewing machine until I was 10
2: Rummy gone amuck:  I think we played over 100 games in a rummy marathon one weekend
3: Dinner parties with her friends
4: Going to art classes with her
5: Picnics at Scoville
6: Camping-including the recover of Chip (a chipmunk that was saved from a horrible fate)
7: Watching Murder She Wrote Together
8: Going to the children's museum (the old one)
9: Christmas at my place with Grandmother
10: Reading The Bernstein Bears Spooky Old Tree and then going down to the flat with a stick, rope, and flashlight to find faces in the trees

I could probably make this a list of 100, but 10 will have to do now.  I'm sending good thoughts her way.

I also feel excitement about my new place.  I'm ready to settle in and get comfortable in a new area with new places to explore.  Am I a nomad?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Day 119: Taste of Spain

Whole Foods sponsored a "Taste of Spain" today.  They had sample dishes, cheese, and wine.  I also sampled some more of their gelato flavors.  My favorite is cup of joe, but they have several good flavors.  

A good portion of the day was spent looking at dining sets.  I would like to have a nice one with a leaf so that I can expand it and fit more people if the occasion calls for one.  I think I found the winning table.

The weather was cloudy and chilly, but I still spent a good portion of the time out and about.  Now to catch up on sleep from last night...

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 118: Friday Night

Cajun fried potato salad.  It is wrong in so many ways (most obvious in the health sector), but it is so tasty.  Fatty's in DeKalb is known for their different take on potato salad and it is something that is a must-have if I go there.  Tonight called for a celebration of friendship and birth.  My friend Susie's birthday is this weekend, so we got together to catch up and jam to some music.

It seemed like a lot of other people had the same idea.  There were quite a few bar crawls and places were packed with people.  After a filling dinner, we picked up some friends and journeyed to Starbusters to see Mike and Joe.  I've been a Mike and Joe fan since I've been able to go to bars.  They cover artists like OAR, Dashboard, Bruce Springsteen, and Maroon 5.  It is a nice combination of old and new.  Tonight they played "We are Young."  This song was belted through the bar like it is the anthem for a generation.  I'm not sure which age group exactly: my age which is realizing that I'm not a college kid anymore or the college kid that realizes they are making huge decisions that will forever impact their life.  Perhaps the song fits any age.  Any person can be young, it is more of a mindset than a number.  It does seem to be such a romanticized idea to be young.  It didn't seem so great at the time.  Maybe we only wish to be young because things are difficult at the moment.  Or maybe we want to be young so we are further from death and have more time.  Who knows.

I'm attaching a video clip.  I took my old point-and-shoot camera so the quality is horrible.  The sound is nothing like what it was like live, but maybe you'll get a glimpse of the energy that was felt while the song played.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Day 117: Noisy Dog

So, it's edamame again.  I was thinking about my meal from last night and realized that nothing I fixed tonight could be as good.  This was defnitely not as good, but it is tasty.  

I was trying to do some work tonight and this dog kept making noises and wanting attention.  I caught her in barking action here.  I locked her out of my room for a bit, but then she started whining and I'm sure you can imagine how that went.  She just wants attention...all of the time.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Day 116: Wine Dinner

Wine dinners are awesome.  You get to sit with others, enjoy food that you prepared by an amazing chef (even if he does look young and has braces), and drink wine that is paired to provide the ultimate experience.  Catch 35 in Naperville hosts these dinners and my dad and I try to go when we can.

The menu last night consisted of the following:
Korean Lumpia Pork
spicy kimchi, sweet chili aioli
Filet Mignon Tartare
capers, onions, dill pickle, celery salt potato chip
Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 2009

1st Course
Thai Yellowfin Tuna Ceviche 
watermelon, Thai basil, cilantro, lime, radish
Alexander Valley Chardonnay, 2010

2nd Course
Florida Shrimp and Sweet Pea Risotto 
lemon herb vinagrette, applewood smoked bacon
Alexander Valley Pinot Noir, 2009

3rd Course
Intermezzo (raspberry sorbet)

4th Course
Braised Lamb Shank 
tomato, fava bean, and pozole ragout
Alexander Valley, Cyrus, Bordeaux Blend, 2007

5th Course
Vanilla Grits and Strawberries
whipped creme fraiche, sweet and salty popcorn
Alexander Valley, Redemption Zinfandel, 2007

It was a wonderful compilation.  I enjoyed the Korean Lumpia Pork the most and either the Cabernet or Chardonnay for wine.  

We sat across from a couple and a mother-in-law.  They were wealthier than us and had much more experience with wine than I could imagine, but they were very friendly and we had good conversation.  It is moments like this that makes me feel like I'm living life a little fuller.  It is also moments like these that make me so happy to be where I am and love the people that I do.  It was funny because at one moment I was talking about my aunts, but I accidentally said my friends.  Although some may argue that it was the wine, I think it was a Freudian slip that shows how much admiration I have for my family.  As I sat next to my dad I couldn't help but appreciate how lucky I am to have someone that is on the same page that I am.  What a wonderful evening.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Day 115: Stand a Little Taller

I don't wear heels very often, but when I do, it is important.  I feel pretty good about the interview, now it is just a waiting game.  I hope it all works out.  Stay tuned.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Day 114: Dreams

I am so excited for tomorrow.  I have been wanting to teach elementary for a long time now and I feel like this may be my chance.  Five people have recommended me, so if it doesn't work out, something went horribly wrong. 

Today's image cannot be claimed by me other than I took a picture of it.  This photograph hangs above my bed.  Sweet dreams.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Day 113: Earth Day

I woke up definitely not wanting to work at all today.  Too bad I saved all my work for Sunday.  I decided that I'd go out and enjoy the morning and come back to work hard in the afternoon.  

I browsed Ikea for awhile, picked up some lab materials, and went grocery shopping.  I came back to pick up Kendra and we went to get some dog food.  There were a lot of dogs there today.  We then went down to the river for a nice walk.  All of the little helicopters (seeds) were falling, so I thought I'd capture the ground cover.  I also liked this couple.  They seemed to be enjoying their Sunday; cutting the chill with their warm coffees.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Day 112: A Nice Saturday

It was a busy day.  I started early searching for some new home items like a shower curtain and towels.  I also started browsing for a dining room set, but have not found anything yet.  I got a call from my parents as I was out and they invited me to lunch.  We met up at Red Lobster and had an extraordinary lunch.  

I was pretty sleepy after this so I came home to find a parcel from North Central College.  My diploma had arrived.  It is starting to feel a little more official now.  

Later in the afternoon I left for Geneva to meet Crystal for her birthday.  We went to see The Lucky One which was pretty good (mostly because of Zac Efron).  Then we went to a restaurant for wine and appetizers.  It was a nice way to spend the night.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Day 111: Yum

I didn't eat very healthy for lunch, so I thought I better make something better for dinner.  Sauteed shrimp with salt, pepper, and herbs of Provence, pasta with truffle oil and shredded smoked provolone over the top, and edamame cooked in garlic olive oil; not a bad dinner.  I really want to start eating well again, but I find that stress definitely encourages poor food choices.  Hopefully the end of the school year, move, and new job (fingers crossed) will allow me to relax a bit and take better care of myself.

Anytime I hear someone talking about living their life I question mine.  Change is coming, and I hope that I can make the best of it. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Day 110: Mementos

Tomorrow is a half day...for the kids.  Somehow any change in routine feels like the week is a little better than a normal week.  I actually am pretty excited I get some time to clean up/begin packing up my room before our meeting.  A lot of moving is going to be in my future, so I might as well get started.

Hmm, now that I'm starting to feel better, I need to start going to the Zumba classes that I bought a groupon for.

Today's picture shows the three scarves I bought in Paris this trip.  I just adore them.  My kids adopted a city today for weather observations and some of my students picked Paris.  I love when little trip reminders come up.  The other day I pulled my cell phone out of my purse and a metro ticket was stuck behind it.  I set it on my desk as a little memento.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Day 109: One Ear Open

This is what I came home to tonight.  Somebody had a busy day.  I think I'd like to do the same.

One highlight of the day was a visit from a student I had four years ago.  We used to have lunch together everyday and then after the year was over, we lost touch.  It was so amazing to see how much she has grown and matured.  Once a student that was hating school and had kind of given up, now a student with straight A's and ambition to help others by selecting a career like pediatrician or social worker.  Visits like this are definitely one of the perks of the job.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Day 108: Good Call

Today was a pretty good day.  I found out that I will be making a substantially higher amount of money next year and that I have an interview on Tuesday for an elementary position.  It is kind of funny how we make so many plans for ourselves, and somehow life comes in and offers another option.  It will be interesting to see how things work out.  I feel like they will.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 107: The Light

I was definitely not ready to get up today and go to work.  I knew it was going to be a busy day because I was also going to be looking at a condo.

The condo was beautiful.  2 Bedroom with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, cherry cabinets, and all around lovely.  It is in Naperville which is both a pro and con.  Access to Naperville library system, shopping, markets, and interstate, but farther from work.  Decisions, decisions.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Day 106: House Hunters-Naperville/Aurora/Oswego

The weather was a little rough last night, but at least I got to sleep in.  I still find myself waking up and choking, but my sinuses feel much better.

I went to see a house today, but I don't think it would be good for Kendra.  It is funny how I have to consider my living conditions to be suitable for my dog.  I'm going to see another one tomorrow night, so we will see how that goes.  
 I thought this process would be much easier, but it definitely is not.  I feel like I am on an episode of House Hunters because I am looking at these different properties, and none of them have exactly what I want.  I guess that is life.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Day 105: House Hunt

 The day began slowly with a cloudy sky.  My dad was picking me up at 10 to go search for houses to rent, so I had the morning to do whatever I wanted.  I chose to work on my pictures from my trip.  I'm not even half way done, but at least I've started the process.

We went to Naperville to search for houses.  We saw some really nice ones, including some not in my price range.  Time will tell if any of these work out.

We ate lunch at Heaven on Seven.  I heard that it was good from a friend, so I thought we should try it out.  As you can see by the pictures, it was good.  We shared Fried Green Tomatoes with Crab.  I ordered the Cajun Stir Fry while he ordered a Louisiana Sampler.  We ended by sharing some bread pudding.  Needless to say, we had a lot to take home.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Day 104: Silence is Golden

As you can probably tell, today's picture was a "uh oh it is getting late and I need a picture" kind of image.  There wasn't anything too exciting in my day, so I didn't have much to capture.  I left school early to go to the doctor this afternoon.  It turns out I have a sinus infection.  At least I can take antibiotics and start getting better.

After the doctor, I ordered myself a pizza for lunch.  From there I did a little cleaning, but not much.  Hopefully resting my voice will allow it to heal soon.

What you see in the image is a shelf with a bunch of collectibles from trips.  There are things like sand, bottles, and tins.  There is even a styrofoam cup from the Waffle House full of sand from the Gulf.  Some may think that is kind of tacky, but they go together well.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Day 103: Student Thoughts

I was greeted by a student this morning that wanted to give me something.  Our students are currently studying poetry in writing and reading, so she decided to write me a poem.  Definitely a good start to the day.

Another fun paper was found on my "Wall of Questions."  I think it is a question that a lot of people try to avoid.  I spent some time coming up with my answer.  What would your answer be?

On a side note, written conversation is the best form of communication for me at the moment because my voice now sounds worse than a middle school boy.  I think that my cold may have caused laryngitis because I barely have a voice left.  I should rest my voice, but how does a teacher do that?  Hopefully the weekend will prove to be healing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Day 102: Sweet Treats

It was not the most restful night last night.  I woke up with a pile of kleenexes next to me and a blocked nose.  As the day went on, I began to feel better, but my voice seemed to get worse and fatigue stepped in.

I wasn't very hungry for dinner tonight so I just had some snacks.  I sat thinking that some orange juice and gelato would be good, so I went to Whole Foods.  When I returned home I realized that I did not want any gelato tonight, and would stick with a glass of orange juce.

I'm hoping my health starts improving because there are things I'd like to do, but don't quite have the energy for right now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Day 101: Field Trip

 Today we finally went on the field trip that I had been so anxious about.  Amazingly, it all went well.  I think sometimes that if I worry excessively over something, then it will go well.  It is when I don't worry at all that things don't seem to go according to plan.

My throat is killing me tonight.  I'm really hoping that this isn't strep.  I used to bounce back from being sick so fast, but not anymore.  I guess that is what happens when you get older.  Now it is rest time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Day 100: Good Monday

I decided it was time I better think about what I am going to do if I have to stay here instead of moving to Indy.  I went back to my old complex this morning and found out that it will not really be an option.  One of the perks of going to Indy is to be able to rent a house.  I've decided that I can increase my budget a bit so that I can try to attempt this here too.  Kendra and I drove to Naperville to walk around the historic district to see what is available.  We didn't walk around much, but we saw a few houses for rent.  There is one I really like, but it is kind of out of my budget.  I would love to be able to live in this neighborhood and walk Kendra up and down the historic district. 

Here is what Kendra looked like afterwards.

I can feel the pressure of work returning.  I had a nightmare last night that went through just about every possible bad scenario with a field trip: code red, bad attendance, wrong destination, missing chaperones, not returning on time, in other words, complete failure.  I even had a nightmare that we were supposed to take a field trip to the moon, but once we got there, I realized it wasn't actually the moon.  It was covered in grass and had stores.  The kids were all over the place and I lost most of my group.  It was kind of funny how long it took me to realize it wasn't actually the moon.  

Tomorrow is a day that I am ready to get over with.  I love going on field trips, but planning them is a big burden and somehow it feels like if anything goes wrong, it will be my fault.  I hope all goes well.

Day 99: Easter Sunday

I woke up around 11 last night with such pain in my throat.  Not a scratchy pain, but a tight, I can't swallow or breathe pain.  I got up to fix some tea and take some advil.  From there I didn't wake up till after 6.  

It was a slow moving morning since we weren't going to brunch until 11.  While my grandmother and mom were out for their walk around the lake, I was exploring old memories while taking pictures.  I took my camera down to the flat.  When I walk down there it is like a walk in the past.  I know this is cliche, but there are so many memories down here.  Driving the mower, playing catch with my cousin, trying to jump across the creek and not making it, sitting on the pipe, sledding down the hill and my cousin's dog chasing us and thrashing us around when she caught up.  This weekend has been full of nostalgia and I feel as if the memories are over.  I don't see Decatur being a place for new memories, and it is kind of sad.  

The time came for brunch, so we went to the airport.  They had a great menu for Easter.  I enjoyed the prime rib, meatballs, and chocolate fountain.  We went back to get Kendra from the house and we made our way back north to go home.

Overall, this was kind of a strange weekend.  It could be because I was sick, am still not feeling home after being gone for a week, or am just in a funk.  Hopefully this week I will start to feel more normal.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Day 98: Amish Country

 Easter weekend calls for a trip to Grandmother's house, no matter how old I am.  We left early this morning.  Unfortuantely this cold is taking hold, but I'm going to try to make the best of it.

After we arrived it was time to head towards the cemetery and lunch.  Linda asked me to bring a rock to the gravestone, so I did.  My dad argued that it might be petrified wood that I brought while my mom insisted it was a stone.  I said granddad would know.

It may seem silly, but it is still difficult to go out to the cemetery.  I listened to my mom trying to tell my grandmother that she wanted to look into getting a plot here.  My grandmother told her there was plenty of space on the other side of the road.  My mom kept saying that she'd like to be buried on this side with all of the family.  Grandmother said she didn't know if there was space available.  I could tell that this bothered my mom.  I found myself walking back to the car losing it a bit.  It is too hard to think about death.  Anyone that knows me knows that I'm really scared of spiders, but my fear of death and the death of loved ones is nowhere near the same category.  Maybe it was because I'm not feeling well, maybe it was because I just allowed myself to think about it, all I know is pushing it out of my mind is much easier than accepting it.  

I also heard my grandmother say that my aunt Lori originally wanted to be buried in this cemetery too, but now she wants to have her ashes spread, possibly in some foreign country.  Lori, just so you know, in about 40 years when your time comes, I would be more than happy to take care of your ashes for you.  All I need is the itinerary.

After the cemetery we drove our way to Yoder's Kitchen.  Now this restaurant has the best fried chicken I have ever eaten in my life.  If you are ever in Arthur, IL, make sure you stop for some good Amish cooking.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Day 97: Capturing Spring

I woke up feeling pretty crummy.  A sore throat and achey glands kept me from a fast paced morning.  After being up for a couple hours, I took a nap and woke up around 11:30.  I didn't want to lose my entire day, so I drove to Cantigny since the sun had warmed the Earth a little.

My first interest with photography involved flowers.  I think I gained this interest from my granddad.  I have branched out since those early days with a camera, but I still love to wander gardens and snap shots.  It was a crisp spring day and the blooms seemed to glow in the bright afternoon sun.

Besides visiting Cantigny, I also did some catching up with my blog.  I have one more to write.  I still need to go through all of my photographs and videos to create dvds and slideshows.  I love to do this, but I'm still not quite ready for the trip to be completely wrapped up.  I will share a link with you when I have updated my flickr with new pictures.

I also did some pondering today.  Nature seems to have that affect on me.  I'm wondering if I'm doing enough to try to make the changes I want.  I feel like I'm kind of in limbo right now with a possible opening.  I am very hopeful for this position, but there is always this sense of uncertainty.  I don't know if we ever really know if we make the right decisions.  I had this thought today that if I somehow woke up and the past 8 years were a dream, and I was really 18, would I make the same choices?  There has been so much greatness that has come out of the choices I have made, but could things have been even better if I had made different choices?  I guess you can't live that way because we are here now.