Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why, hello there 2013.

***Disclaimer: This got long, and I did not proofread. Please forgive my mistakes. :)

Christmas has passed us by and the New Year has started. 2012 is no longer present-day. Lights, trees, decorations, and nativity scenes are all being put away. The year 2013 should be an interesting one. James and I will finish our second year of marriage, Trevin will turn one, I will finish school, James will farm his heart out, Trevin will wear us down to nothing, and God will oversee it all. Bring it on.

 I had previously written a nice, inspiring paragraph about my new year’s resolution…well I already quit. So I’ll save you all the drama and not go there.

With that said, I’d like to tell you how we ended 2012 and began 2013.

This is my adorable husband. 

Christmas season was busy as usual. We celebrated at my parents’ on the 15th. It was a fun day filled with way too much food and some good memories. Trevin got several fun toys and Mom and Dad got cool things too! We also celebrated with our extended families throughout the month.  It was wonderful spending time with family.

James’ immediate family Christmas had some unexpected happenings.  The majority of his family ended up with a form of the flu, so we had a small Christmas with two of his sisters and his parents. It was sad that we weren’t able to celebrate with everyone, but unfortunately that’s how it was.  The rest of them decided to get together over New Year’s Eve.  We were in Chicago at the time, so we missed out on the second gathering.  
We celebrated our small Christmas together as a family on Christmas Eve.  It was awesome just spending a little extra time together.  Trevin still hasn’t caught on to the opening presents thing yet, he will tear the first piece of paper off and then just hold it and stare at it in his hands.  It was pretty funny to watch.  James surprised me with my first crock! (No not crocs. Like the old ceramic fermenting crocks.) I was really excited, because I had looked at them at an auction and told James to watch for them while I helped my mom in the food stand.  He told me a few hours later that they had all gone pretty high, so he played it off like he didn’t get one. I had no idea and was thrilled!

My next big event was hosting a reunion for some girls in my class from high school.  We had a gift exchange and spent time reminiscing about good times at AHS and catching up with what everyone was doing.  It feels like we’ve just been on a long summer break and we will all start school together again in the fall.  I often have a hard time grasping the fact that we will never be classmates again.  If I could go back, I think I would invest more into people and make the most of my time there. It truly was such a great time in my life, and there are some friendships from high school that I won’t find anywhere else.  Some of those classmates will be the best friends I will ever have in my life. They are all truly amazing.

Ok, what was next? Hmm… OH YEAH! WE WENT TO CHICAGO!!! Holy moly, brace yourselves, because I’m going to tell you about our trip.  

First of all, we went to Illinois to visit relatives.  James’ mom was originally from the area.  So everyone that was there was his aunt and uncle, Ron and Marilynn, that live there, their son, Chad, and his wife, Amy, also live in IL with their children, Noah and Ruthie. R&M’s other son Brack, that lives in Orlando, with his wife, Monica, came to visit with their children, Maeven and Oden. James’ other aunt, Jan, is married to Ron, otherwise known as BongZ, and they are from Tennessee.  We stayed with Chad and Amy for the week, and we couldn’t have asked for better hosts and more fun.

We left on a Saturday morning at 6:30 AM.  We decided that we would split the 10 hour drive into two days, just because we didn’t know how well Trevin would do and thought, “Hey we are on vacation anyways, why not just take the extra night?” So our overnight stay was in Iowa City.  Backtrack…

We stopped in Des Moines on the way for brunch at a restaurant called the Machine Shed. James’ family had a tradition of breaking there on each trip to Illinois. Super cool place, I’d suggest it if you are swing through there. –Memory from the Machine Shed: Trevin had filled his diaper after we had eaten, so I went to change him as James paid for the food and gathered our belongings. I got to the restroom and started the process, got the diaper off and then realized… I didn’t grab wipes. I called James in a panic, not knowing what to do; he agreed to bring them to me.  I waited a few seconds and realized he would have to come into the women’s restroom to give them to me.  So instead, I put the dirty diaper back on Trevin, didn’t bother to button his snaps or put his pants back on, and I went back out of the restroom.  James was nowhere to be seen.  So I started heading back to the table. People just stared. Here it was 25 degrees and snowing outside and I had a baby in a short-sleeved onesie, not buttoned, and no pants. It was hysterical. (Not at the time, of course. I felt like a failure as a parent.) I headed back to the bathroom where I finally found James and we did the exchange.  Now I laugh.

We stopped and did some shopping in Des Moines. We were told that our New Year’s Eve plans involved a fancy-dancy restaurant and we needed super nice clothes. I used it as an excuse for a new dress, and James actually needed a new sport coat.

More hours in the car, and we reached Iowa City, our stopping point for the day. I think it was only 2:30. :) We made great time. Our hotel was supposed to be really cool, and it turned out lame. They had pictures of a pool on the website, so I being a dumb traveler assumed THAT THERE WAS A POOL! Well, the joke was on me. What they meant to say was that they had a city fitness club in the building, membership only. Such hospitality. And not that I’m against going green or anything, but the place was so ridiculously green. Only concrete floors, not a joke. (Oh we did have a “rug”.) This place was not even close to baby-friendly. BUT- I take full responsibility. I now know that my travel agent skills are terribly poor. They did have a pretty awesome tub that we used as a baby pool, so I guess it worked out. 

The hotel did have an awesome view though. 
We drove another 4-5ish hours and arrived in Palatine, IL. Such a cute place. It’s a northwestern suburb of Chicago. Population close to 70,000.  So for you locals, it is bigger than GI. We caught up with those we hadn’t seen for months and met some for the first time. The next few days were filled with so many memories, laughs, and discussions, that I can't even begin to retell them.  It was nothing short of incredible. I had authentic Chicago pizza and a Chicago dog, both delicious. Also was introduced to Garrett's popcorn, a cheesy carmel mix. 

 Navy Pier: We had to park our car 1/2 mile away from the Pier, so we strolled the rest of the way. We walked the strip, of course, there were no little shops open outside because it's winter. But we enjoyed the view of Lake Michigan and being able to see across the bay.

Chad was expressing his true feelings. :)

There was a winter event going on while we were there, so we checked it out. It turned out to be really fun, unfortunately Trevin was to little to enjoy most of it. They had huge Christmas tree, easily the biggest one I've ever seen. But after taking down our tree, I'm asking the questions, "Where on earth do they keep all the ornaments? And how long does it would it take to get this monster into storage?" -Trevin was too amazed to look at the camera. :)

He loves me. 
Navy Pier also has a small mall inside along with a children's museum and lots more. We were able to shop around and explore a fun place. 

Millennium Park, Downtown Chicago: One afternoon, James and I were able to see the town on our own. Now picture this... We were dropped off in downtown Chicago for the first time, told to ride the train back to Palatine, and given a little fold-out map. --I was confident that we would never reach home. I was sure that we'd get swallowed up by the city, lost and confused, and never be able to find our way back. -- Thankfully, James was little, just a little, more sure that we'd be ok.  We had planned to go ice skating, but when we realized it was going to be a long wait, we decided to skip that and just find our own entertainment. We walked Millennium Park and took in the sights, sounds and smells.

We saw the weird/cool metallic bean thing, seen at left. So we did what everyone else was doing, and we took a picture of our reflection. It seemed like we needed to do that to 'fit in' with the other tourists.
We also came across a huge face. I have no idea what this was about. If any of you know, please feel free to enlighten me on the matter, because it's creepy.

We found a Carhartt store, well I should say, James found a Carhartt store. He spotted it from a block away. We both had on Carhartt hats and he had a Carhartt sweatshirt on, too. We took a look inside, and we found an adorable billed camo hat for Trevin. It was too perfect to pass up! 

I was itching to find an awesome place, and I'd say that I hit the jackpot. I found Crumbs Bake Shop. They had 20-some different kinds of cupcakes. I ended up with Devil's Food and Red Velvet. They were phenomenal (they had to have been for me to actually type out that word, that's an actual descriptor.) They also had Cupcake Push Pops. I applied for a job. I've found my calling. (No, I don't want to make them. I want to taste them. All of them. And then again.) 

Ain't he just the cutest?! He 'almost' fits in to these surroundings. 

Well, we journeyed through the city and found homeless people left and right. We passed one that made me catch my breath. He was an elderly man in a wheelchair with the typical cardboard sign. We passed him and two blocks later I was crying.   I wanted to give him money, I was even ready to give that man my 2 treasured cupcakes. But James being the common sense, not emotion-based instinctive man that he is, decided we should find other ways to donate, not to strangers that we don't know what they'll spend it on. He was right. James pulled me along and we discussed the matter. I told James a story about when I was 6 years old. My family went to Denver for my dad's work/ family vacation.  Just outside our hotel was a woman holding a sign, each time we passed.  The last time we passed her I remember it was dark and cold outside.  I looked into her eyes and I can't forget her face. She was helpless, hopeless. I cried that night in the hotel, just like I did 3 weeks ago.  Such an emotional thing for me, and I need to figure out what God would have from me in that area of my life.

 We actually made it to the train station! I'm sure that there were people laughing at us, because we had no idea what we were doing. We looked a little out of place. :) But it was a good time! It was about a 45 minute ride until the Palatine stop. Chad and Amy's house was only a few blocks from the stop, so we walked the rest of the way.  It was a good feeling when we were on familiar turf again! 

We had so many fun memories with family!

New Year's Eve: We were invited to go out to a formal dinner for New Year's Eve with James' two cousins and their wives.  We had a late reservation, about 10:00. This was a high-class restaurant, jacket required. So we put on our finest and took the kids to Ron and Marilynn's house for the evening.  We put them to bed and were out the door. Traffic was almost nonexistent, which was strange, so we made good time. The french restaurant was called "Everest" and I'm sure that it was the most lavish restaurant that I will ever go to.  The exclusive parking garage was hard to find and could only be located by using specific instructions from the restaurant.  We finally found valet parking and got the instructions on how to get to the restaurant. It the Chicago Board of Trade building, that also had a hotel.  We went up a couple different elevators before we found it. They took our coats and we waited for our table. Now this was 40 floors up in downtown Chicago on New Year's Eve, so incredible.  The evening was memorable. Many laughs and stories were shared. I was teased for not even being able to try the wine yet. Such a fun evening. Our waiter was Indian and we had the hardest time understanding what he was saying. It only added to the unforgettable night. We all decided to order a three-course meal of our choosing. I decided on the Home Smoked Salmon Naturel, Herbed Alsace Fleischnagga, Melfor Aigrelette for my starter, James did the same. It was incredible. The salmon was so tender and the flavor was delicious.  For the main course I ordered the Dry Aged New York Steak, Sauce Foyot, Alsace Potato Gnocchi, Winter Root Vegetables, James had Line Caught Striped Bass, Black Trumpet Mushrooms, Salsifis, Crosnes.  My steak was good, but NE beef is even better. Yes, I just said that. ;) And for dessert I ended up with the Chocolate - Selection of Five Chocolate Tastes, James had Sorbet et Creme Glace.  I've learned something when it comes to fancy chocolate, it doesn't taste like Hershey's. A few of my chocolate tastes were "my kind" of chocolate, others were "real" chocolate. I also ordered a hot chocolate, it was "real" chocolate, tasted like cocoa powder. Anyways, food was new and for the most part, amazing.  They also gave us samplers of some of their dishes. I kid you not, one tasted like fire. It wasn't hot, like spicy, it actually tasted like you just bit into a fire, smoke and all. Strangest taste of my life. 

We shared our New Year's resolutions (cough, don't judge me, cough.) We counted down to New Year's, we were definitely the routiest table in that place. It was incredible; we watched fireworks go off across the city as the new year rolled in. I'll never forget that. 
Here's a link to the restaurant. Check it out.

Aquarium: We headed to Shedd Aquarium one day of our visit, too. Trevin loved the fish! 

We were able to watch a dolphin show, which was a first for us. Trevin sat through it pretty nicely, even though he didn't really watch. I had much to learn about Beluga Whales. :) The shark tank was super cool, though. Probably my favorite part!

IKEA: I was fortunate enough to have an amazing friend give me one of the greatest experiences of my life. IKEA. (Only a slight exaggeration, and that's not lying.) Amy took me to IKEA and it was inspiring. So many... things. Things and more things. "Oh Lord, please give me self-control." Not buying things is hard for me, like really hard. I gave it my best effort. I left the store with a bag or two of things that I've already used. But I'm longing to go back. Nicole and I have been plotting a trip to Denver to go to another IKEA. I want to buy a franchise and start one in my house. Yup. Thanks Amy. :) 

One night, Amy and I stayed home with the kids while Chad and James caught a movie. After they were in bed we locked ourselves in the basement where the craft area is at and Amy took me under her wing. She is so so crafty! She taught me how to use appliques and helped me make a pillow case with Trevin's initial. So adorable Oh by the way, she came up with the pillow case pattern on her own. She figured out how to just sew up the sides and be able to fold it a certain way to avoid a pillow showing or a zipper. She is incredible.  

We had such an amazing time. We got to love on these sweet ones all week. They welcomed us into their home, gave up their space, and let Trev chew on all of their toys.  They played with him constantly and gave us plenty to laugh about. They are the best. Can't wait to see them and their dad and momma again!

The house that James remembers his grandparents living in when he was growing up was only about an hour out of our way, so we decided since we were that close, that we would drive by.  It was emotional for me to watch James see the house.  He started telling stories of Christmases and events, traditions, and funny memories. I could tell that he was really glad we made the trip. I loved being able to see the house in person, since I've only had pictures and stories to go from.

We were ready to head home, but it was so hard saying goodbyes. We took off early on Friday morning and hoped to reach home that day.  Trevin did way better than he should have. Believe it or not, we only stopped once on the 10 hour drive home. We rock. Trevin slept most of the morning, so that went smooth.  We stopped for a long lunch to be able to move for a while. We ate and then went through a Target just because. A few hours later, we were home. Opened our door at 5ish.  I sat with Trevin most of the afternoon to keep him entertained. Love this boy so much.

That my friends, was Chicago.

So we got home on a Friday night, and I started my classes Monday morning. Since then, it has been a whirlwind. I feel like I'm stretched too thin. I'm honestly writing this instead of doing a huge paper that's due next week... So, feel special. You are priority right now.  I really don't like having to do school work when James is home and Trevin is awake. I like having that family time, but recently I've been asking James to keep Trev so I can take tests or get an uninterrupted hour or two of assignments. My classes aren't terrible, I am actually really enjoying them and am finally understanding how much I've already learned. They are just very time-consuming. Now that I'm going to class twice a week, I have less time at home to do homework, without interruption. I am very glad I decided to finish out my degree, it will be completely worth it in the end. But it is a hard time right now. Trevin is crawling and in to everything. I have to do most of my school work in the office, and he really cannot be in there... too many cords. So that leaves me nap times, and James. I've been expecting a lot out of him lately, and he's been handling it like a champ. Trevin only has one pair of camo pants right now, (I know, only one. I'm a failure.) Well since James is getting Trevin ready twice a week, he always puts him in those camo pants. Last week I realized how small they are getting on him, so I pulled them aside to be put into storage.  Well, James found them and had them on him again.  I guess I need to get another pair, and soon! :)

Trevin has tooth #5 officially. I had no idea until my mom realized it was already through and getting big. He hasn't started walking yet (YEA!) but I'm afraid we are closer than we think. He is getting brave and letting go; he's able to stand for a couple seconds on his own. He's been promoted to a bigger car seat/booster. He is on the verge of maybe talking, just a bit. Sometimes he tries to mimic sounds. He still gives hugs and kisses, but he can wave now! At first it wasn't really a wave, he just stuck his hand in the air, with his fingers spread apart. I was hoping to teach him the Vulcan Salute, you know....

But then he figured out the wave, so I guess that's not as cool. Other than than, he's just finding new things every day. He loves exploring and playing with weird things. Ever since we went to Illinois, Trevin has been attached to James.  Some days, he could care less about me. It's all about Dad. It does have it's benefits, I'll admit. But emotionally, I was not ready for this to happen already. :( 

This is why nothing gets done. But it's only a stage. :) I'm loving it! 

Happy 2013 everyone! 

Starting the next chapter, growing on the farm...