Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reindeer......?-2009....may you rest in peace!


"Why do I have to be the dog?!?!" - Jen being a brat! Ha!

Someone doesn't like someone else petting the metal dog, huh? Is that jealousy, dear Tanner??





In our effort to continue to see all of Alaska possible in our last few days, we had another BUSY but fun day today!

The first stop of the day was "eventful" to say the least. Just outside of Palmer there is a Reindeer Farm. In the summer, it is open to the public and the people can visit and feed the reindeer and pet them. However, they close in the winter (and why wouldn't they, the reindeer are tired from their journey around the world, right?) So, you can't really interact with the reindeer. However, you can visit them and see them from the road. When we got there, the timing was perfect. The workers at the farm were just coming around to give the reindeer lunch. As the truck came up, the reindeer were excited and came over to get some lunch. It was fun to see them move and eat, and since they were moving, instead of in a big bunch, we could really get some great views of them. However, as the gentlemen who were feeding the reindeer saw in the distance - a reindeer had died.......oh, good grief! Had they not been there, I hazard to say I don't even think I would have seen the dead one. But of course, they took their truck over and proceeded to DRAG the dead reindeer across the icy field....I nearly suffered a heart attack! It was like the scene from Napoleon Dynamite with the cow and the bus, if you have seen the movie, you have to know what scene I am talking about - if you haven't - I recommend it highly, but with some reservations, the humor in it isn't for everyone....but at this point I digress......

So after some talk about grief, reindeer heaven, and an inappropriate joke involving reindeer sausage......we moved on. We went to downtown Palmer and enjoyed some shops. I have to say, Palmer is the cutest town ever. We had lunch at this fantastic place called Vagabond Blues. I indulged my love of jewelery with a really cool pair of earrings made of Mammoth Fossil Ivory and a tube of lipgloss (another love, or obsession, as my dear husband might call it) also made here in Palmer. We went to an art gallery and looked around and then ventured over to Wasilla to the Iditarod Headquarters. Another absolutely fantastic day.

I can hardly believe it, but our time in Alaska is coming to an end at an alarming rate. Just tomorrow, and then a full day of airtravel on Friday. We leave early in the am (around 8:00am) and since there has been some airport drama with terrorists during our time up here, we want to be there early enough for some added security. We will then be traveling all day, plus losing time on the way back......

For an experienced traveler, sometimes I can be a poo-head to travel with. This is exactly the point in the vacation where I get sad, melancholy, grumpy....all of those things all bundled in to one. We still have the evening tonight, as well as all day tomorrow with some fun things lined up to do! I am going to do my BEST to enjoy myself fully and not get worked up about leaving.

This trip was just what was needed this year - for many reasons, and I am glad we came! I will have more blogging to do, but I am sure it won't get done for a few more days considering all we have to do.

Nate starts school back up again on Monday. What a break. What a trip. What a privilege and an amazing opportunity - both to see Alaska in its winter wonder and to get to know and love Val and Dan more.

Well, it is time to go.....before I get even more reflective and mushy......:)

A Tour of Anchorage Public Toilets.......





Yesterday we tore up the greater part of Anchorage! The day was jam packed with fun, and then some not-so-much fun after a delicious, but fried food dinner - which I now think I have narrowed down to what makes me sick......

So, dearies, let's begin at the very beginning.....

The first thing I need to mention is that it really took the insomnia I sometimes suffer over a week to find me in Alaska, which made for a rough night on Monday night. I ended up not even going to sleep until 4:30am Alaska time (8:30am Indiana time....I can already tell this jet-lag is going to be AWESOME to recover from - sense the sarcasm, please!)Tanny sensed I was not having the world's most spectacular night, and came down to join me, what a guy!

So after a few hours, up and going again - if month upon month of sleeplessness has taught me, it is really best not to accommodate it......it begins feeding itself badness.........

We left Val's and went by a village that is Russian Orthodox in faith and a native population. We got to see my first ever Orthodox church as well as their interesting burial tradition (if it sounds morbid, perhaps it is, just a bit, but it was interesting!) When they bury people, they build colorful boxes over their graves. It was hard to see with all the snow, but you could see them poking out of the snow.

Then we went to Anchorage and got to meet/visit/deliver some gifts to Val's co-workers. I can see why Val enjoys working with this group of people. Her bosses even have three doxies! I mean, they love doxies, they couldn't possibly be bad people!! I very nearly stole Sugar the 3 year old long haired girl, I am still thinking about her...... Val also had me try a local coffee chain......it was AMAZING.

At this point we were hungry, it was like 4:00 and we hadn't even been to the downtown portion of the city yet. We went to an amazing downtown eatery called "The Brewhouse".....and oh, how delicious it was...... a little bit TOO delicious. For quite a while I have been feeling "iffy" after I eat sometimes. Prior to our Alaska trip Dr. Nate gave me some instructions to see if we can pin down the cause of my disagreement with the food. Part of my "assignment" was to keep a food diary. That lasted for one meal of one day.....OOPS. However, since coming to Alaska I haven't really felt too bad......UNTIL last night. The only thing I can think is that I haven't eaten anything fried......and then last night we enjoyed calamari and I had Fish and Chips.....an oh so delicious variety of fried foods........within 20 minutes, I was oh, so sorry......

Really, the title of this blog is more funny than true, but I just didn't feel too well. Yuck! But, no worries, it didn't really stop us, at all! We went around the downtown area, but in the winter in Alaska most stuff closed at around 6:00pm.....so we were a bit out of luck, but still got to enjoy some fun shops and browsing around.

Our last stop of the evening was at Alaska Wild Berry Products. They are a chocolate shop as well as a lot of Alaskan souvenirs and what now. We spent a lot of time having some big-time fun in that store!

We came home, I felt sick......Dan, who is a gem - went to the store and got me some ginger ale. That in combo with my stomach med made for a great night's sleep last night. Wowser, WHAT A DAY!!!!!

A Modern Day Gold Miner!!!!


"This is just a miner looking at his junk under a microscope" - Dan


I really like gold......


A LOT!!!!


A person with a basic knowledge of Alaska knows about Alaskan Gold Mining and many people making their way to Alaska to find their fortunes in GOLD!!! However, I can't really say that I knew that people still mined gold in Alaska, (other than getting tourists to spend money pretending for 25 minutes???)

Guess what?! People DO still mine gold - and it turns out that Dan is a modern day gold miner.

And the best part, I got to hold some gold!!!!!!!!

I have already given him full permission that when he discovers the world's largest gold nugget, I give him full allowance to name it after me........like the Jennugget.....yes, I like the ring of that!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Musk Ox and the Mat-Su Glacier!





Much adieu about doodoo






After a heckavah lot of worrying about "making my business" in the wilderness, it turned out that was the least of my worries....... A much, MUCH bigger concern is that my hair (and myself for that matter!) cannot.....I MEAN CANNOT go more than a day without a shower. Evidently I have a very oily head.......ummmmmm - YUCK!

The cabin is still a "work in progress" but it was amazing. It really was a winter wonderland. We traveled around 2 hours to get to a parking lot, and then snow-mobiled in to the cabin, about another 30 minutes. You CANNOT drive, you must snowmachine or if there is no snow, you would have to take a 4-wheeler.....wow, talk about remote!

I had my life flash before my eyes...(well, really my eyelids) at around 5:00 am the first night we were there when the cabin roof "unloaded" all its snow. Holy stinkin' moly......it was a crash, rumble.....BOOM! And considering I had never heard anything like that noise before, and not knowing what it was....talk about being woken from a nice dream.......

I really never would have expected this of myself, but I really LOVE snowmachining. It is super fun - and we are really fortunate that Val and Dan had the proper "gear" for us to wear.

It was a great experience! Although, I think that I am not really built to be a "camper"....this was MUCH nicer than camping and I still thought I was dying. Haha, well, not really dying, but I am used to a certain level of hygiene.....running water, flushing toilets, showers, makeup, fashion....you get the drift - and if you know me, this should come as no huge shock!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

So I made such a fuss......





I made such a fuss about peeing/other business which need not be mentioned......that Val and Dan thought it appropriate to outfit me with only the finest "business" gear for the wilderness cabin......haha!

Jen vs. the crab....

video

A Very Crabby Christmas





So I LOVE Alaskan Christmas dinner.......

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

So sometimes, I talk big....really big!


Me in my snow-gear....this was only the dress rehearsal!

me and tanner cuddling

us kissing....with tanner's behind - hatcher pass 3:30 pm...look at the darkness creaping in....and quickly

after playing outside - we were COLD! but it was fun!
Coming in to this trip, I swore I was going to not have anything to do with technology......well, I don't feel so "compelled/obsessed" with it, however, there is lots of downtime for me right now. I have books, but don't really want to read. I don't want to hog the tv. And, we do have shorter than we are used to hours of daylight.....less daylight makes me want to stay in. This is ok, execpt for the fact that it leaves me lots and LOTS of time to think. This is ok......but I don't really have a lot to keep me busy/occupied.

When we got here two days ago, I thought to myself..."what a magical land with no worries!" While a few days in to this amazing break, I feel similar, it turns out some of my worries are with me....all the time. I could go to the moon, and they would still be with me. It is both a blessing and a curse. I am going to look at it more as a blessing.....but it bothers me a little bit.

These are not worries or memories that I want to go away....they are ok. The only problem is that with a lot of time to think, they are being turned over in my head. I like it here....no, I love it here. I love having a lot of time with my AMAZING husband. I love spending time with Val and Dan....they are like a dream mom and dad (not in a way that any of our real moms or dad will get mad, but just as kind of cohesive, small family unit...with just each other - although that would be a weird family since Nate and I would be the "kids" and we are married, hmmmmmm :) We are just really enjoying our "down time".....but for those of you who know and love me....a few days of down time and I start to go a bit (BIG BIT) stir crazy. I just feel the need to constantly be moving, doing a lot of things, feeling productive, and not have any quiet.

And so, here we are, having an amazing time, in Alaska. I am appreciative of the time to reflect and have this "down time" I am whining about right now. I don't really mean to whine....Again, perhaps "think it over" would be much better.

I thought a few pics would be a lot of fun from our trip thus far!

Yes, I miss Hans, BUT

we have Tanner......and he is cute. He is an 80+ pound chunk o' lovin' that likes to play with laser pointers!!!
video

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Why do Aunt Sparkles' eyebrows look weird???

Well, of course there are a couple of stories involved with this title.......

First of all, our dear little Micah-bug is nearly two and his vocabulary is rapidly expanding.....So his cute little mom has taught him that I am his "Aunt Sparkles"....which I eat alive....with a spoon! Marty is a beautiful lady.....she is not as "accessorized" as I am, though. She wears her wedding ring and a lot of cool earrings....but her earrings are just more toned down on the sparkle-meter than mine. And this is without bringing up my variety of metallic purses. When I was a kid, I grew up with a lot of "aunts" and "uncles" which were actually not those relations by blood. Many of my aunts and uncles were actually long, LONG established friends of my parents. I have always liked this....and kind of wondered if we would ever have friends who would do the same with Nate and myself. When we met Ken and Marty and Micah...the thought crossed my mind...but took the nearest exit due to the fact that Micah has a million REAL aunts and uncles. The last thing the poor kid needs is another aunt and uncle!! But Marty started the "Aunt Sparkles" and I love.....LOVE it! And what really is the "cherry on top" is that Micah says it now....all by himself. Gee golly...I love that kid - and his parents. We are so blessed to have made such great friends down here in Indy - really more like family here in Indy!

As for the eyebrows part of this statement. Beauty sometimes carries a high price, my dears! I get my eyebrows waxed about every six weeks. I DO NOT by any means get them taken off.......as a matter of fact....I really just have them "cleaned up." However, I have had my hands full with the eyebrows ever since Amber finished school. She does my hair.....but she hasn't done my eyebrows because she hasn't had the stuff. Over the past few months, I have just made a trip up to the beauty school in Southport, just for the eyebrows. The only problem is that I have to DRIVE to Southport...which really isn't bad - but it is the only reason I go there - which is annoying. Also, I just drop in and get them done by whomever.....this is ok - but I always am a little bit nervous. Again, I don't really like much done to them - but once in a while - the person doing them is a bit unclear and gets a little bit aggressive. I mean, they grow back.....but sometimes it is "ugly" in the process. So the other night I was over at Target and just saw the "do-it-yourself wax strips." I am sorry, they looked stupid proof. Unfortunately - stupid proof does not mean the same thing as "Jen-proof".........

I specifically got the strips so there would not be microwaving involved. The strips I got were the hypo-allergenic kind that already have the wax on them. How do you mess these up?? I really don't know the answer. I washed off my face (as instructed) I used the strips - and them followed up with the "soothing" wipes.....UMMMMMM........soothing wipes should have been "chemical - skin burning, terrible, awful".........(well, you get the idea, right) OUCH!!! So I followed up with some moisturizer and called it a night - desperately hoping that I would wake up in the morning with beautiful eyebrows.....

Nope, not a chance. I woke up the next morning and my dear, dear husband's response is "What happened to your eyebrows??" Oh my goodness...I mean, let's just laugh it up. 2 days later really finds them a lot better. I have slathered....I mean SLATHERED obscene amounts of lotion, aloe vera, and Neosporin. I am pleased to say it has helped - a LOT. Thank goodness for creamy makeup to cover it up when I go out - but mostly I am staying around the house with the items mentioned above on my eyebrows. I thought about taking a picture and posting it, but I thought it would injure my pride a little bit too much! Again.....it is getting a lot better....a few more days and I don't even think it will be noticeable. It will be just fine by the time we leave for Alaska on Saturday.

I can tell you that the "eyebrow debacle" will not be a lesson I need to learn twice. Southport is NOT too far to drive for eyebrows - and moving forward Amber should be able to help me!

Nate has 3 exams this week.....Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Saturday=ALASKA and VAL!!!!!

Blog Fodder......


Oh Hansy! B.A.D!

Hansy's handiwork

What a bad guy!
As my dear friend Susan said: "This incident will be great blog fodder....."

Yes, Susan is from Michigan and a farmer by nature.....because I love the word "fodder" but can't say it makes it in to my daily vocab!

A couple of weeks ago, I was out and about doing some odds and ends. I had Nate's (empty) lunchbox in the car. Later, I ran out and had Hansy in the car with me. I left Hansy unattended in the car for a few minutes and came back only to find Nate's lunchbox DOA.......

He unzipped and opened the lunchbox, then ate it.....or something like that - the rotten little monkey! I don't know why he did what he did.....

But here are some pics, all for your enjoyment!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A tale of two Wal-Marts:

Living where we live in Greenwood - we actually have a WIDE selection of venues for shopping. This was and is an awesome change for a girl from Middlebury who then moved on to Manchester.

While living in Middlebury... many of the shopping places I have at my fingertips here were 15 to 20 minutes away in Goshen. The nearest really good mall was in South Bend/Mishawaka.

It was even worse in Manchester. There was a Wal-Mart 20 minutes away in Wabash, but as for the other places that I "prefer" were in Fort Wayne, around 45 minutes away.

You can imagine my pleasure when we moved to Greenwood - a place that I would compare to South Bend - with the "big city" of Indy only 20 minutes away. A funny fact is that Nate and I have everything we could ever need/want here in Greenwood. So even with the close proximity to the city - we don't really go that often for shopping or eating.

Where our house is located - we have a Super Target as well as a Meijer store within 2 miles and 5 minutes. So one may ask, "why would you ever even need to go to Wal-Mart?" Well my dears, it comes down to variety and slightly lower prices. Wal-Mart just carries a few things that the other places don't-or we can save some money.

That being said - there are two Wal-Marts really pretty equal distances from our house. They are both about 10-15 minutes away, depending on the traffic.

However, although they are no more than a few miles apart at most, they are WORLDS apart from one another. I honestly cannot explain this. One of them is nice, clean and frequented by seemingly nice and friendly people. As you may imagine, this is the Wal-Mart I ALWAYS go to.

Tonight, I was out and about and needed to go in looking for one thing. And tonight foound me much closer to the second "bad" Wal-Mart. Jimminy Crickets, Batman - now I remember in crazy detail why I don't go to that Wal-Mart.

Without judging others, it is kind of hard to explain - but honestly I just felt like I was a target of some kind. I did not have nice, friendly feelings about being at that Wal-Mart, and I turned around and left nearly as soon as I had gone in.

So for the future, we go to the OTHER Wal-Mart, not that one. I don't have any idea how to explain the difference, but all I know is that there is a BIG one (probably a lot) that can't be explained just by their area........

I think it is safe to assume that when moving to a new area, scope out the Wal-Mart closest to your new place of residence, and you may get a good idea of what you are getting in to.

Oh, the mysteries of the world we live in -

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The price.......

Do you know what I realize? And not just realize, but REALLY feel sometimes? Why is it that sometimes one person's joy can only come at the cost of heartache and disappointment of another's? I really dislike this.

This particular circumstance has presented both sides of this to us recently. But, I guess in this world you really "can't have your cake and eat it too......"

And so, you (you in the sense of me, you, and everyone, for that matter!) just make the best of the situation possible. Sometimes this is a challenge to say the least......but I prefer to think of it as a "growing" challenge.

And so......where do you go from here?

I really feel like this holiday season may be just what the Dr. ordered. I am already feeling the Christmas spirit! The Christmas spirit really is just a lot of love, and genuine desire to spend time with those you love. This may come as a shocker......but Christmas is not about the presents!!! (Although, I won't even lie at all.....I really, really like and enjoy presents!) But it is so much more about getting presents for those you love, and looking for something that you really think they will like.

Sometimes, you get a present that you may not really like that well. But what is more important about that present, is knowing that the person who got it for you got it out of love and "thinking about you!"

In the few years past......sometimes the "Christmas Spirit" got lost for me in the "Christmas Zoo" (which may sound fun, but really is not.) When suddenly you approach the season with displeasure about "things you should do/are required to do" and it stops being what you "want to do" you have some issues.

And so........Christmas love coming your way from the Stewarts!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Do you know the way?????

You know, even as I start this blog post tonight, I am not entirely sure which way to take it. I have a lot of thoughts, I have a lot of feelings.....some of which aren't really what this blog is used to.

For those of you who know me (and know me much at all) you know I am kind of loud and generally fun person. However, you may also know that I am a person who - when I am good, I am not just good.....I am AWESOME. But this kind of goes hand in hand with - when I am bad, well it's just another story.

This being said, Nate and I are great. Just me, by myself - well, yes, but also no. I guess I just feel a little bit like I am wandering around sometimes. We had a rough weekend last weekend, and this caused us to really rethink some things regarding the holidays this year.

In most ways, I have never been a huge "New Year, New You" kind of person. I mean, come on.....all it is going to do is make me make mistakes when writing the dates for months. I mean, really - what is the big diff between December 31st and January 1st......one night, and then another day, just like any other day of the year.

However, this year (if it means nothing else) is just going to mean a bit more to me just because 2009 has called some tough shots. It hasn't been really kind to me. A lot of the events of the year are hidden in a shallow grave in my soul. I am fully confident that in years to come, I may look back at 2009 and really think, "Wow, that year really was kind of my gateway to adulthood - it really shaped the person I have become......" But on a day to day basis now, this is a bit tougher to do.

Nate and I are going to visit one of my mom's best friends, Val, in Alaska in two weeks. I thought it was what we needed, it was only when I called her that it sounded like it was what she needs to.

You know, sometimes a decision just feels right, all the way down to your bones. We really feel that way about this. We are just really looking foward to enjoying Alaska. We are going to enjoy Val's company. And we are going to enjoy Nate's break from the storm. We are going to come back January 1st with a new lease on life.

I mean, it is a new year.......let's make it one for the books!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A recap of the last few days.....

Today finds me simply devastated on a level previously unknown to me.......but I simply refuse to talk about that at this time. Ultimately - the world is GROSSLY unfair, in more ways that even seems imagineable.

I do want to catch up on the joy of the holidays and some quality time between me and Nathan.

Tuesday afternoon my Grammy and Grampy came in to town. It was great to have them come to our house. The house is C-L-E-A-N since my primary job description seems to be CEO, CFO, manager and every other title you want of Stewart Household, Inc. We also have decorated for Christmas.....and this girl loves the holidays. In Greenwood it is no white Christmas.......but that is ok. It really has been warm-ish, but that is the way the weather is down here - what I consider "the south"......haha! As much as I hate to say it, being from the land which is still in the "lake-effect" area......they get NO snow here. What a different a three hour drive southward makes.

Tuesday I had white chili in the crockpot, but for whatever reason it wasn't quite "done" by the time we were getting ready for dinner. We had a negative experience at Papa Johns recently and they had sent us a free large two topping pizza to "apologize." We decided to "cash in" on that....and it was well worth it!

Grampy is doing awesome following his surgery....sure he still limps about a bit, and I am sure it is tender....but he seems to be on the mend. He doesn't use a cane or a walker or anything. He seemed back up to his normal, bad-boy self! Grampy and I went out for a bit and shopped around a little. Then Grammy and I also went to the mall for a bit. We looked around the mall, and enjoyed the Land's End part of the Sears! Grammy even treated me to a pair of shoes.....and they are COMFY!

Wednesday we shopped until we dropped. It involved a good deal of Starbucks! (In case you didn't know.....a gingerbread latte from Starbucks IS Christmas in a cup.........) We enjoyed dinner at the German American Club in Greenwood.....a totally fun German restaurant that is totally like driving 10 minutes, driving in to a park area....and then arriving in Germany.....no plane ride req'd. Then, we got to go over to Marty and Ken's and got to meet Marty's lovely parents (who had come in from Idaho for the holidays!) It was great company, conversation, and of course dessert!

Wednesday I made Thanksgiving preparations until what seemed like morning. I went to bed.....then got up and got food ready.......

We woke up on Thanksgiving morning and had chocolate cherry coffee cake (prepared from scratch, the previous evening - by me!) and watched the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. It is kind of goofy to say, but in some way, I felt very much life life was coming "full circle" as my grandparents enjoyed the Macy's parade in OUR living room. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving WAS watching the parade at grandma and grandpa's while Grammy slaved in the kitchen!

For lunch, we had a table fully set with my good china.....all of it. I insisted on serving everyone.......the only bad thing was that in the process of the hard work.....somehow everyone else ended up showered and in nicer clothes...while I worked in a junky pair of pjs, messy hair.....and my ancient glasses. I was far from a beauty queen, but the food was GOOD.

I prepared the following menu:

Sparkeling grape juice
Apple salad
Turkey breast with a "flavor" (also made by me!) under the skin
Mashed Potatoes and gravy
Stuffing - FROM SCRATCH......yes SCRATCH (feel free to be EXTREMELY impressed!)
Green Bean Casserole
Rolls (frozen, but baked and warm)
Pumpkin/cream cheese pie
Apple Cranberry Pie - with homemade crust

Yes, it was a TON of work.......Yes, it was 100% worth it. I let Grammy do very little.....goodness knows the lady has done more than her fair share over the many years. However, I did let her do a few of the bigger dishes that couldn't go in the dishwasher while I took a shower.

The funniest part of the day was when Nate and Grandma tried the dog treats I had gotten for the dogs......they thought it looked like human summer sausage.....it was not, and evidently did not taste like human. So, you may ask, what did Nate learn from this situation......don't listen to Grammy :) - this may lead you astray!

Friday and Saturday Nate and I enjoyed some of what Indiana has to offer. We spent Friday in Bloomington.....a fun drive and a cute downtown area. Saturday we packed ourselves and Hans up in the car and ventured to Turkey Run State park about an hour west of Indy.....almost in Illinois. We hiked....yes HIKED.....all three of us, for about three hours. This is remarkable for two reasons:

1.) Jen doesn't hike......I am lucky to even go outside half the time, I am not really what they call "outdoorsey."
2.) Hansy (the 17 pound DACHSHUND) dragged Nate and I around that park for three and a half hours. He had the greatest time EVER. I have had him for 8 years and I have never had that much fun with him or laughed that hard at him. He loved every minute of it.....and exhibited an amazing amount of energy and excitement for an 8 year old dog....(which is darn near 60 in human years.)

I think that is all for now............

Monday, November 23, 2009

A few more turns of the earth.....

Well, leave it to me to leave a few days worth of "life in the land of Jen" unaccounted for......

Perhaps you don't care, or maybe you do, but I am going to fill you in anyway!

On Saturday evening Nate and I went to the north side and joined Amber and Reese to go to Conner Prairie. We went to an evening program that Conner Prairie puts on called "Follow the North Star." It was am amazing "immersion" experience in which you get to "play/pretend" to be a fugitive slave in 1836. The actors/historians involved portray attitudes and people in Indiana in 1836. In one word, I would say it was "intense....." It was an experience I would recommend to anyone, but I would never want to do it again. And to think, I knew it was "pretend" and I could barely stand it.....for more people in our nations history than I would like to even think of, this was a true and real experience, but not with the knowledge that it wasn't real..... Let's just say that it was a great experience to have right before Thanksgiving...perhaps I will have a few more things to be thankful for this year...... (This is a program that Conner Prairie does annually, but no children under 12 are allowed at any time, and at the later evening programs, no one under 18 - in case that tells you what the content and experience are like).

Sunday Nate studied all day and I got to be "an elf" (you know, one of Santa's) and did some Christmas shopping. I took Hans with me in the car which led to an "evening of B-A-D dog!"

So while I was out and about I decided that I wanted some dinner (on another note, it is just not really fun to cook or make dinner just for myself, and Nate was at school). I had gone to Target and had gotten some food, including but not limited to a box of Mrs. Fields cookie ice cream sandwiches. After Target I had to run to Wal-Mart, and it is really my fault that I left Hans in the proximity of the ice cream sandwiches. I came out to find that he had gotten the box out of the bag, tore it open and ate one ice cream sandwich (you know, I am actually QUITE lucky it was only one, because the box contained 5 - but I was none to pleased with that little dog). In searching the car, I was very concerned that I could not find the plastic wrapper for the ice cream sandwich. I hoped he had not eaten it, because I just didn't see that feeling too nice, but I looked around the car and couldn't find it. About 30 minutes later I wiped my hands on my thighs and found the wrapper sticking to my butt! Haha! Whew - what a relief. He must have left it on my seat and I sat on it, since it was covered in vanilla ice cream it adhered nicely to my bum!

As I ate dinner, he wanted treats. I didn't really want to give him any. He had already eaten an ice cream sandwich, but those of you who know me know I am a sucker for that little dog. I went out in the kitchen and got him a few treats. I gave him a few, and left the rest of them sitting on the table. I took my plate to the sink and he polished off the rest of them......what a stinker, I am telling you!

However, as if he hadn't pressed quite enough of my "buttons" yet, then he did the worst thing of all. I came home and was cleaning. All of my cleaning supplies are underneath the kitchen sink, as is a small trash-can that we put the stuff we don't want Hansy to get in to. This weekend, I had made chicken wings.......you could probably fill in most of the rest of this story yourself if you really test your brain.

It went like this:

I got out shower cleaner and went in to the bathroom to spray down the shower. In my stupidity I left the cabinet doors open. I came in to the kitchen to find him eating chicken wing bones! BAD NEWS PEOPLE, bad news. This above most other things, really can hurt dogs. Oh good grief. I gave him a "spanking" which I really don't do - EVER. Oh, I was SO MAD, you have no idea. I smacked his butt, I yelled, then I yelled some more - I was going to put him in his cage/pen to punish him - however, it was buried in the closet and seemed like too much work to "dig" it out. He went to the chair and looked like he had been beaten to within an inch of his life. I can assure you, this is not true, at all - but he KNEW he was in trouble. I got a slice of bread to give him (this can help cushion the bones, so they don't hurt their belly) and he wouldn't even take it. So I talked nicely and ripped it in to some pieces. That was well over 24 hours ago - and no worries, he is fine - but WOW, he was so BAD!!!!!

Also last night I cleaned the kitchen better than it has ever been cleaned. I swept, mopped, cleaned the counters (including taking everything off them), cleaned the coffee pot, scrubbed the sink.......did the dishes. Really, the whole she-bang!

Today I steam cleaned the carpets - mostly because I have needed to do it for a while, but also my mom owns a rug doctor, which I had borrowed - months ago......and I wanted to send it home with the g-rents when they leave.

So, that is really now. I hope this hasn't been boring. Goodness knows it hasn't been boring for me at all! I have been cleaning like a crazy-lady. I already have the house decorated for Christmas and even have the Christmas shopping done and the presents wrapped. You know, I think I am nothing if not prompt and on top of things!!!

Love to you all and Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Oh come on.....gag me with a stick......

Hello my dears........

Here is to hoping all of you are well on this Saturday afternoon!

Thursday night was an "interesting" and fun night! Haha,(btw......Amber, this post is mostly for your enjoyment :)

Let's rewind to a year ago for the purposes of this blog post. It has been exactly a year since I read (and at the time, enjoyed) the Twilight series. My mom had been in the dentist's office with Mike when she picked up a Newsweek magazine.....with a "dreamy" vampire on the front, talking about the upcoming movie "Twilight" based on a series of books. Since Mike's appointment was going to take quite some time, mom ran over to a store and picked up the first book in the series. This, even by itself, is kind of a "big deal"....just because my mom is not a big reader. But, leave it to a book series about vampires and werewolves to catch my mom's attention. Both Mike and my mom are big "vampire" fans....you know, they really like the Underworld movies and Blade...and my cute "baby brother" always says "vampires" and does his two fingers making "fang" marks in the side of his neck, but my absolute favorite part is when Mike says "vampire" it really sounds a lot more like "pen-pals"...so Nate and I always see something having to do with vampires and joke (lovingly, not mockingly" about "pen-pals." Although, sometimes with my luck I probably would get a pen pal that was a vampire......note to self, "do not get a pen-pal....."

So my mom was HOOKED on this series of novels. I began reading them, and really did (and do, to some extent) like them. The first one, I liked....it took me a while to get through it. The second and third ones I could NOT PUT DOWN, but I kind of want to note that I think it is just because they are suspenseful, not really the BEST books ever written. The fourth one, however, kind of annoyed me with the twist it took, and so......I don't know where I stand on them all the way.

While I was in the middle of reading them, my dear friend Amber, who also happens to be my hair stylist, and I had an appointment and I told her that she just HAD to read these books (please note...this was before I read the fourth, because as was stated in the last paragraph, I was none to pleased with the series after the fourth book.) So to sum it up, she read them.....and loved them, and at this point, we are finally drawn in to the present......

Amber asked me about a month ago if I wanted to go on opening night at midnight to see the movie for "New Moon" with her. Heck yes, I will go....it will be fun and I felt some kind of "obligation" considering I was the one who "sold" her on them. Also, it was in the middle of a test block for Nate, so it was great for me to have something to do.

I drove to the north side (Amber's stomping ground) to go to the movie. I actually went up around 4:00....we had a fun evening! However, the movie I DID NOT LOVE!!!! What I did love was hanging out with Amber. I feel that for huge, die-hard fans of the book, they will love the movie. I thought it was a very good transition of book to movie.....but again, by this point I am just kind of "over" the whole Twilight craziness....

Let's just say, in my world (and Nate's) Twilight is no Harry Potter.....but it was fun, nonetheless.....

In a few words, Twilight = not awesome......but evening with Amber = AWESOME AND FUN!

disclaimer - this is only my opinion, please take no offenses, and clearly I am not a film or book critic.....no hate vandalism on my house :)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thankful for a good day!

Here we are, 1:22 am.........I am really not tired, which seems common these days, but perhaps it is my fault. I break almost all the rules that the "experts" tell you. No TV in the bedroom, ha, yeah right. No computer at least 2 hours before bedtime, well obviously I am breaking that one right now - so draw your own conclusions.

I am sure part of this is also the fact that I didn't get up until 10:00. This was partially by choice, and partially because I am just not a "morning" person. When Nate is at school, I would much rather sleep in. It just makes the time he is gone seem shorter. But somehow, today was an "odd" kind of day.

So around 10:00, I was waking up. But I got to thinking, "Well, I don't have anything I really HAVE to do until 5:15 tonight, so what's the rush.......Hansy is cuddly, lets just be lazy." So we watched some TV (in bed) and I just wasn't super motivated. But then at just about 12:00 noon, I imagined I heard knocking.

Please sit with me through my thought process....."Is the security system armed? Is someone trying to break in? Am I just imagining the knocking I am hearing (because at this point Hans was not barking)? Well who that valuable would be here? I think I will just ignore it. And then, I heard the pattern of the knocking, and that is the key my dear friends.....yes, there was a pattern.....and only one person I know and love does this.....MARTY!!!!!!!!! I jump out of bed, grab my robe, because yes, I was in underpants and a t-shirt...at noon (you are entitled to judge a little, but please not a lot!)

Marty and Micah are here, with cookies, and a hug! Awesome, AWESOME! The house was a bit messy, Hansy was barking....the security system was armed and in my excitement I had not disarmed it, so it was going off....it was BEDLAM, but great. We chatted a bit, Micah played with some things........Hansy and him shared some kisses. Then Marty invited me to go to Hobby Lobby......my response was "of course, that will require clothes and you not minding if I am not a beauty queen!"

I got home around 2:00, only then to realize that I had 100 things I wanted to do before a meeting I had to be at by 5:15......

The clock seemed in hyper-drive. It was mostly good.....considering most days it seems on "slow" mode, but it was a bit of a shock for it to go from "slow" to "hyper-drive" without "normal" somewhere in between.

The day had other things happen and they were good, but it isn't worth the detail of the earlier parts.......

Overall, I am glad for a good day. I am glad for good friends..... I am glad for Nate to start his round of exams so that we will be that much closer to done with the exams!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A day in the life......

The grass, as it turns out, is a little bit greener, but with strings attached:

For quite some time I have wanted to go to school with that hubby-of-mine and see what life as a med-student is actually like. Well, my dear friends, today was finally that day. That being said, it was actually a bit of a different type of day, since there were only three hours worth of lectures and the students have exams coming up at the end of this week.

For the first bit of fun, I need to tell you all about how excited I was about doing this. Last night I actually tried on like 10 outfits trying to decide the best thing to wear (ok, well 10 is stretching it a bit, but I did try on like three!) I was so excited that I had a hard time sleeping, although this proabably isn't that much of a surprise.

This morning we got up around 6:45 and left the house around 7:00. We made the drive to Indy and I even had to listen to a big of NPR (part of Nate's b-o-r-i-n-g routine). We arrived and I got to be there for three lectures, each an hour long.

The first lecture was an OBGYN lecture about fetal development and disorders/problems and their causes. I felt quite proud that I was able to follow along. I even found it quite interesting.

The second lecture was given by a Pediatrician about dealing with children as patients. The doctor talked about techniques and tricks for examining children.....as well as cooperating with the parents of young children to get their medical histories. This talk was QUITE easy to follow....I will admit by the end of this lecture, I was feeling mighty-fine about myself and my smartness - I mean come on, this is the second year of medical school, and me - an intelligent, but not medical or scientifically oriented person was following along just find and dandy, if I may say so myself.

And then, as I am feeling so uppity, it all came crashing down with the neurology lecture.......HOLY.CRAP.!!!!! Ok, so I think it was in another language, a language that only doctors and medical professionals understand. There were tons of medicines and big-medical words........

You may ask, what did I learn.....I learned a lot, and in the first two lectures things that I may acutally use/apply in my own life. However, the third lecture only taught me that I don't want to eat at Taco Bell, or really any fast food or restaurant for that matter. People with "potty-hands" probably have touched my food. I think that I may just want to live in a bubble.

I also think I may have been imagining some of the symptoms by the end of the lecture, crap.........

Monday, November 16, 2009

My sanity and the facebook purge.......direct correlation

Good evening my dear lovelies,

Here is hoping all of you are doing well. Me on the other hand, I have been better. I kind of hate to say that, but it is what it is......

No need to sound any alarms, but peace in the land of Jen does not seem to be on the schedule any time soon, but who knows, sometimes you are nicely surprised.

To save and hold on to my last, teeny-tiny bit of sanity and peace, I had to conduct a purge of facebook. To sum it up, I had accumulated about 150 "friends" on facebook. Don't get me wrong, it was fun.....the only problem, a little bit too much fun. The last thing I did in the evening was check facebook and my first thought of the morning...you guessed it - facebook. You know, I think I am nosy and curious, and you know the saying, "curiousity killed the cat." Well, perhaps a better statement would be "Facebook nearly put Jen in a mental hospital." But the thought of getting rid of it completely was kind of upsetting and devastating, because there are some people with whom facebook is my best and only means of communication. So I purged facebook down to about 30 or 40 people. The people whom I kept had a reason, and those whom I got rid of, I got rid of for a reason. Many of them because I just had no need to keep up-to-date on their daily happenings, and some just because I love them and would prefer to keep them closer than facebook, you know, like on that thing they call the phone?

So, I have felt much better, and it is not by coincidence that the people who were "kept" from the purge are "quieter" or something to that effect. I still check it off and on, but there are not nearly as many updates and a lot less reasons for me to freak out.

So I am working on getting my act back together. This week I have some odds and ends on the calendar, I will follow up later........

Monday, November 9, 2009

A few more IMPORTANT events of the weekend!

So this weekend I have returned loud and clear to the blog, and I am glad to be back...... I had a few more things to mention from the land of the Stewarts:

Friday night we got together with Rob and Rhonda who were also in town for the big race. It was Rob's first marathon and a few days earlier I had the gumption to tell him "You are going to do really great, or you are going to die......I am optimisitic that you are going to do great! Haha! (It turned out I was right, he did awesome...but details will follow in a few minutes). Nate had gone to school on Friday and had driven the Cobalt. When we wanted to meet downtown I drove to the campus (with the other car) and picked him up and then we went downtown together to meet Dad. We had a fun time and had some conversation and dinner. Then the best part happened, Nate and I left town (together in the second car) and FORGOT the Cobalt in the city......are you kidding.....and we totally didn't even realize it until we pulled in to our driveway and I uttered "Oh s**t! We left the Cobalt in the city....totally forgot it.....uh, duh!

Well that left me in a pooey mood for Saturday morning. Our plans had been to drive separately in the morning for the race. Nate was going to go in to town quite a bit earlier than me and then I was going to go in to town later. Unfortunately, now we only had one car. So, we had to get up at 6:00 in the morning and I had to ride to town with Nate, then I drove home, then I got changed and turned around and came BACK to the city. So by 8:00 am I had been to the city, back home, and back to the city.....see the "Princess and the dork" blog for that story, which ended up awesome.

Not mentioned in the previous blog is Dad's story on the marathon......he did fantastic! He finished the 26.2 miles in just less than 4 hours.......WOW, for an old man I would say that is pretty impressive.....just kidding (not about the impressive part, but about the old man part :). Nate also was a hero of the day when he helped an older lady who fell......I got all sick because there was blood involved, but Nate did awesome (I think this pin-points the reason why he is in medical school and I am not!)

Momzie (our cute nick-name for Nate's dear mom) arrived to our house about 5 minutes before I got home. We played around all afternoon (mostly her and me!) We went out and about shopping and being "girly-girls"....especially fun for a mom of two boys! We went to DSW Shoe Warehouse and tried on all the shoes (maybe not all, but a LOT!) We went to Bed, Bath and Beyond and used the coupons they send me in the mail all the time. We went to Kohls, but didn't find a single good item! We also went to Half-Price Books and looked for crochet books for mom's amazing talent and budding business! I made dinner and then we just chatted until darn near midnight. Poor Nathan was tired and fell asleep in the living room by about 10:00. Mom and I did some more "girly" spa things that I keep at the house. We did a hand-treatment and foot treatment, and went to bed feeling relaxed and refreshed!

Sunday we ended up having a bit of a lazy-type day. We were bad and didn't get to church due to mom staying around until around 10:00, past the service we normally go to. We did a bit of leg-work for a food drive Nate is in charge of at the school for one of his student interest groups. We watched the episode of "White Collar" (our new guilty-pleasure) that we missed on Friday night!

Nate treated me to a "spa night" at home.....gosh I am one lucky lady to have such a great husband! And I love spas, so I know all about good spa service, and this one was the best one I have ever been to! So with my professional opinion, I give "Spa Stewart" 5 stars!

Signing off for now-
Jen!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Alphabetical seating= Winquist and Williams


Eric and Mark at our wedding....Eric is the blond boy in the striped shirt and Mark has an AWESOME look on his face......
For the purpose of this particular blog, I need to take you back to a long time ago at Heritage Middle School on the first day of 8th grade. I entered a classroom for a class having something to do with "Life Skills." Around 10 years later I remember only two things from that class:

1.) We had an assignment that attempted to teach us how to keep a checkbook ledger, and I did a very poor job on it.......I was crushed when I got a bad grade

More importantly is point 2-----
2.) The seating chart for this class was based on alphabetical order by last name.....my maiden name being Winquist and to my right was a new boy named.......ERIC WILLIAMS

At this point I just remember trying to make some random conversation. I think I was probably trying to work the kinks out of my newfound love of flirting, and this boy did not receive it well. I think to try to pinpoint my thoughts about him at that time I would have thought "hmmmmm.....he is kind of awkward to talk to......." Also, at some point I was talking to him and he told me, "I'm going to Iceland." Huh? I think that I thought he was even worse at flirting than me. I was surprised when I arrived at school a few days later to find him missing.....yes, he actually had gone to Iceland......and to make matters worse he didn't even fall for my girlish charms. So this is what I remember about him from a LONG time ago.

I remember him from high school, just as a funny aquaintance and someone who was fun to talk to. In all honesty had our story ended there in May of 2004 I may have not thought much about him ever again.....perhaps when I found facebook 4 years later our paths may have crossed again, but I am quite glad to inform that this is not how the story ends.

Eric also came with Nate and myself to Manchester College. We really didn't know many people at all who were at Manchester, so we became friends. He lived in the same dorm I started out in and we used to have lunch together sometimes. Also, his funny cousin from Missouri was his roommate and the awesome Mark Moon became our friend. Mark went on to date and marry Wendi, thus cementing our lifelong friendship (hopefully!)

We got to know a lot of the extended Williams/Moon family and love them all. Also worth noting is the fact that Eric moved to the north side of Indianapolis around the same time we moved to the south side. Sometimes the world is small and Eric actually works with my friend Robyn's husband.

Yesterday downtown Indy for the race, Eric was kind enough to meet me and Hansy to provide some company and hang out a bit. Eric is such a funny guy!

So Eric, thanks for the conversation and laughs.....thanks for listening to the crazy! We are glad to have you for a friend......and one of our longest-lasting ones! And that is saying a lot cause Nate and I are picky people..........even more importantly, Hansy likes you, so we shall keep you around!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The princess and the dork.....


A long, long time ago in a land far, far away from the land of the Green Wood a young dorky boy loved to run. He met a beautiful princess and they built a life together.

The princess had a noble steed called Hans who was the dorky boy's biggest fan......he came to the races and wore a cute little gold scarf with green letters spelling out his biggest dreams...."Go Nate." The princess and the steed used to travel around and see the boy run like the wind......

Fast forward 5 years and the boy stills loves to run, but he lacks the time and teamwork keeping him on goal. However, he buckled down and made the plans to run 13.1 miles, the half marathon, in the mythical city of Indianapolis.

The princess was a big kerplunked about the boy running in this crazy race. What kind of a reasonable person wants to run 13.1 miles.....come on, that is what they made cars for!

She had to go to the city, which she often times dreads like the plague....and to make matters worse, she had to go to the city by herself, with only the noble steed to accompany her. I mean, even after all these years the boy MUST have his "fan team" even if the look a bit worse for the ware.

After looking in the closet, the princess found the magical scarf. The princess also made herself a shirt that was green with gold letters spelling out the same great dream...."Go Nate."

The boy ran the whole 13.1 miles like the wind. In a race of approximately 3,000 people he came in 91st overall and 8th in his age group. He ran the race in 1:31 (a little bit less than 7 minutes a mile).....not too darn shabby if the author may say so herself!

The fan team loved the boy more than ever before and they lived happily ever after. If just goes to show that even if the princess grumbles for poor reasons, she may have a good time.

It was fun to see the boy run in all his glory again! Oh the days of cross country, young love and small towns!

Saturday, October 31, 2009



Hans and Sadie enjoying their Frosty Paws


Hans and the lipgloss, guilty......yes, I think so


The lipgloss Hans pulled out of my purse and had some fun with....

Hiding in my own home on Halloween....

After some long, partially purposeful silence here on the blog....I am back, and with a loud shout out to the world!

To sum up the last few weeks, wow....yep, I guess it has been a few weeks at least.

On Sunday, Oct 18th I made a trip up to the "great north" with just me, myself, and Hans. We went up because my dear little grampy had surgery on his knee to fix some issues that had arisen since his knee replacement two years ago. It was just a lot for my little nerves to handle. I am SO glad that I went, but was unbelievably glad to come home. I missed my dear little husband, darn it. I don't want to make our relationship sound all "co-dependent" and it's not like we cannot survive without each other....instead it is that we prefer to be together and find that we are better together than apart. I did get to spend some time with family, which was a very good thing and a lot of fun. I got to see the entire Reimer clan (Liz, Brad, and all the girls!) and even came home with two pictures beautifully adorning our fridge at this moment. Hannah is 7 and VERY talented artistically and Ruthie (who is just 2) also drew us a picture! Thanks a lot girls, I smile when I get in my fridge and get to see my pictures! I got to see Rob (dad-in-law), Suzie (mom-in-law), Laura (soon to be sis-in-law), and even visited Grandma Kathy at work for a few minutes. I also got to eat breakfast with my mom, it was very nice to catch up, but no more north for quite a while at this point.....I think I over-dosed a little bit!

I came back Wednesday and ended up being SUPER-sick Friday-Wednesday. For those of you familiar with my medical history of the last year, the same thing that ended me up in the ER almost a year ago happened again this year. Without provided all too much info, my stomach was MAD at me and I pooed blood for days. Yes, pooed blood. This is the 3rd time this has happened to me, but at this point I don't care if it happens 100 times, I am never going to be comfortable with it.......bottom line - I am feeling pretty much all the way better now, but it was a bad week. Nate stayed home with me several days, and I sure appreciate that boy!

Last night we had our friends Brad and Krista over to our place for dinner, and they brought Hansy's girlfriend Sadie. Hansy's birthday is coming up in the next few weeks, so we lived it up and had a "birthday party!" It was much more a chance and excuse for the adults to get together, but we did have "Frosty Paws" for the pups (it is a doggie-ice cream). Brad and Krista even brought Hansy a present! It was SO CUTE. They brought him some treats and a hedgehog toy (and we can't forget about the card!).....he loves them both! Thanks a lot guys! It sure was a lot of fun!

Tonight is Halloween and finds me and Nate hiding in our very own home. I know we must sound like huge party-poopers, and we kind of are, but Hans is not accomodating to Trick-or-Treaters. The first year we were married we handed out candy and nearly had 19 dog bites, courtesy of Hans the Terrible! Haha, well not in actuality, but he barks so LOUD and MEAN sounding. He really just ends up scaring kids. If we dare close him in another room, he would be hoarse for days. It really wouldn't be worth the grief. So we don't have on our front light, we even unscrewed our light in our yard. Nate has all the lights off in the office (which is the room in our house visible from the front of the house) we have our garage door closed and all the lights off in the living room. I do have the TV on, which would probably be our only give away. The only other light in the whole house is coming from my computer screen right now. Also worth noting are my typing skills being tested in the dark! Ha!

So yes, this is what we have come to, hiding in our own home on Halloween! It is kind of shameful and I am a bit sorry. We did have one group of Trick-or-Treaters come by, and it was darn lucky we had a few pieces of wrapped candy. Out of the four Halloweens we have been married this has happened each time. So I am always sure to have a few pieces for the kids that don't mind the unwritten rule of "no lights, no candy." We should probably just learn our lesson already, and not be home at all on Halloween.

I know I missed a few odds-and-ends of the last few weeks. The only other "event" I can think of was that Nate and I did get to be "pretend" parents for one night to our dear little friend Micah while his parents enjoyed a night out for their anniversary. It was a heck of a lot of fun! Nate and I decided we are as ready as we can be for kids, but are terrified of all of their "gear." We managed Micah just fine, but had a rotten time with his car seat and stroller. It turns out that someone who graduated college with honors and a future doctor can't even handle these......LOL!

I am going to post a few pics in the next entry....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

When did I get so darn old?!?

How come I am not 19 any more? I still "feel" 19! And yet, here I am....23! Don't get me wrong, 23 is NOT old and I know that!

And yet, it is funny for me to say and to internalize. More and more, I see people younger than me doing all kinds of things, and this is more of a new phenomenon to me. Do you want examples? Let me provide a few...

1.) Miley Cyrus. Do I need to say more?
2.) Taylor Swift
3.) Notre Dame College Football players, yep they are all younger than me.

I sometimes feel Nate and I have a funny perspective on things due to the age we were when we got married.....19. At that time, it was pretty crazy. We were clearly the only married people we knew our age at Manchester. We had not gotten married because of a kid, but because we wanted to and we were "ready." I would not trade the choices that we have made for anything. For us, I feel it was the right choice. And yet, how come now I look at someone who is 19 and think....."wow, they are young and stupid, do they even know how to spell their middle name?!" Also, how come when I was 17, 18, 19 years old I knew EVERYTHING there was to know about the world. Don't try to tell me anything different, because I knew it all......what "it" was you could have argued with me, and I was right (or so I thought!)

How come, now, at 23 I barely seem to "know" 1% of the things I "knew" when I was 18? Another funny thought came to me recently. For a long time, and even now, when we meet people I think that they think we are young. Back to the topic of being married young, we were, and I am not saying otherwise. It is funny to me now, though, that we were "special" being married back then. As we get older, more and more people are married. I still feel like we have much more "experience" than they do. Many of them are more newly married, while Nate and I are approaching our 5th year. The funny realization I came to was thinking about having babies. Clearly, that is on my mind, especially since the miscarriage. But I got to thinking, at this point, when Nate and I have a baby, we will be over 24 by the time the baby is here. That really isn't that young to have a baby! I think it is still "younger" but it doesn't make someone stop and think twice. When we mention that we got married when we were 19, people stop and pay attention.........baby at 24, not so much, it seems more "traditional" (or something to that effect, at least in my mind.)

And then, for my most HILARIOUS insight, if I may say so myself.....and yes, there is a TMI alert quickly on the way, so consider yourself warned:

As I was getting in the shower the other day, I stopped to glance at myself in the mirror and suddenly had the thought "Oh good grief, I look awful naked!" HAHAHAHAHA! I am sure there is a BIG part of this that is just me being WAY to critical of myself. For goodness sake, I am currently at the same "size" clothes I was before Nate and I were even married, but I am pretty sure in the buff, I DO NOT LOOK THE SAME! And to make matters worse, we don't have kids, so I can't blame anything on having had babies!

Later, as I shared this critism of myself with Nate, I phrased it well.......here is how the conversation opened:

Jen: Honey, I am glad to be married to you!
Nate: Well that is nice, I am glad to be married to you too!
Jen: Know why I am glad to be married to you? Cause at this point if I were dating, I couldn't let some boy see me naked! It is NOT pretty! Do real boys think real girls look like Hollywood girls, cause they are going to be sorely disappointed!

Oh, yes, I think I am just a bucket full of laughs! After much assurance on his part, he told me that he didn't think real boys think real girls look like Victoria Secret models.....they are airbrushed and we know it!

When did I pass my prime? I hope I am not already past my "sell-by" date! In my mind, maybe I will always be 19. I am pretty sure I have been here the whole time, and yet, sometimes things seem like they were just yesterday when in reality, they were 5 years ago. 180 degrees in the opposite direction, however, sometimes things that were just a few months ago seem like they were a lifetime ago.

From what my wise little grammy tells me, I should just get used to it, already!

So, I suppose that is all from the mind of Jen for right now. At this point, I have know idea who looks at this blog, and do you know what......I don't suppose it really matters to me. Everything I post on here, I am great with sharing, but it is more for me than for anyone else. I keep myself entertained and can "talk" till I am blue in the face. So, love from me and the Hans......we are just taking it easy this evening. Nate is in the office, studying until we die!

Lots of love, the Queen of Drama

Highly recommended read!

While Nate and I were in Chicago, we went to a Borders. I know what you are thinking, "Why do they go all the way to Chicago to go to a Borders when there is one in Greenwood?" It is mostly because Nate loves books and bookstores. As we walk up and down the Magnificent Mile, poor Nate deserves to go someplace he loves. I looked in all my stores, and all he wanted was Borders, so to Borders we go!

It is really quite funny to think of all the time that we have spent in that Borders. The one we like the best is on Michigan Ave right across from Watertower Place and by the Hershey Store. It is very nice and lots of levels. I will even admit that there is plenty there for me to look at and enjoy. We were looking at a "Buy one, get one 50% off" table and Nate found a book that interested him. So I began looking for a book that interested me.

A funny thing worth noting about me is that with both books and movies, the same situation arrives. I want to watch the same movies over and over again and read the same books again and again because I know I like them and I know they are good. I can't be disappointed if I already know how it ends. This has led to me reading the Harry Potter series until I can recite lines. Pretty much the same deal with movies. I just watch the same ones over and over again. Nate has made the point about a million times...."how will you ever like a new book/movie if you don't try them?" Haha, how I hate it when he is right!

So, Nate had chosen the book he wanted at Borders and encouraged me to choose one so that we could both have a book and get a good deal. I was so nervous! Oh no! I don't know what book will be best! I don't even know if I will like one. Why in the heck isn't a Harry Potter book on this table?!?

I finally picked one up and chose it called "My Jesus Year." It is a book by Benyamin Cohen, a rabbi's son and a Jew. It's basic premise is that he is a Jew who has become indifferent to his faith. He grew up with the attitude of "the grass is always greener on the other side" towards Christianity. He spends one year as a "Christian" all while maintaining his Judaism and in hopes of finding his own faith. He spends the year trying out Christian churches, attending Christian concerts, having Easter, and Christmas.

I kid you not, I could barely put it down! It is laugh-out-loud funny! It is also EXTREMELY insightful and hopeful. I really felt he was respectful and came to very good conclusions in the book. He never intends to leave Judaism. He did all of this "Jesus Year" to further his own journey with his own faith.

I sure don't know if I am beginning to do any justice to this book. I found myself relating on many parts. I very much feel that ANYONE could enjoy and take good lessons from it. Be you Christian, Jew, Muslim.......this book has something to offer!

So, if anyone reads it and enjoys it, good for you! If not, that is totally fine. I am sure in reading this post, I am not going to find my calling as a book critic, but I wanted to put it on here!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

We survived, and Nate passed!



Nate and I being cute and adorable at "The Bean" in Chicago


Nate, Jen, Wyatt (in the outfit we bought him with doxies on it!), and Hans


Don't worry, I didn't actually touch my mouth to "The Bean".....with my husband in med school and all this swine flu hysteria, I wouldn't dare!
Good day, dear lovelies-

Thank goodness for the craziness that was the exam block being all done! Nate took all the exams and passed, and we enjoyed some fun in the Windy City!

Wednesday evening when Nate got all done we headed up north and stopped by and visited the Koons family. We got to see Wyatt, Mikey and Tosha and snapped a few pics to prove to him later in life that we were indeed present from time to time. I don't know if I have mentioned on here that we are his Godparents, and are extremely glad and honored to be so.....but it proves a bit of a challenge since we live a distance away. Holy moly, kids grow fast, especially when you don't see them daily or even weekly. It was also a huge event since Wy-guy got to meet "our son" Hansy. They were pretty stinking cute together and Hansy was pretty well behaved!

Thursday morning we woke up early and took the South Shore train up to Chicago. My wonderful grandparents drove us over to the South Bend Airport to catch the train at 6:30 am......it was early, but good. Nate and I have only taken the train over to Chicago one other time, and we kind of hated it. It was mostly due to the fact that we hadn't really ever been to Chicago before and we didn't know our way around. Also, we were only there for the day and we had to carry everything we wanted with us. Since we were staying the night this time, it worked out beautifully. I had my purse and we just took a bookbag with all of the stuff we would need for the night and fresh stuff for the next day.

I generally tend to be a pretty high-maintenance kind of girl to say the least. I need 93,000 things to travel with me. I need 6 changes of clothes in all different varieties of warmth and style. I need enough makeup to make a clown ready for the circus. I need my blow-dryer, my straight iron, products, my brush.....all those kinds of goodies, you know, cause I am a girl!

This trip, I really went "back to basics" and it really went very well. The purpose of this trip was a bit different than normal for us...it was mostly just to recharge and relax. We arrived in the city about 8:00 am Chicago time (CST) and took our bag to the hotel so we didn't have to carry it. We walked around the city and ate. Then we checked in to the hotel and napped and relaxed. We went out again for dinner, then came back to the hotel and relaxed some more. We then slept for about 12 hours (Nate really needed it!) We got some breakfast and then caught the train back at 12:30. We got back to South Bend at 4:30 (EST) and that grammy and grampy of mine had been kind enough to drive both cars so that Nate and I were able to leave from the airport, thus saving A LOT of time.

For future reference, this was a GREAT way to go to Chicago for a couple of days. It was really great that we had my grandparents to count on and help us with getting to and from the airport!

We were back in Greenwood prior to 9:00 pm and were able to watch our Friday night shows (Monk and Psych!) We slept in and did some odds and ends on Saturday (another entry to follow later on Saturday evening!) Sunday we went to church and then Nate and our friend Ken installed a new back door at our house!

It was a FANTASTIC fall break. I think Nate was very refreshed and ready to roll again until the next break! In case you are keeping tabs, it is going to be Thanksgiving and we are going to be going to visit our friends Lindsey and Ben in Georgia! We are really, REALLY looking forward to it!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Is it just me, or is it HOT in here?!?

This post will be a quick one, but I just wanted to let everyone know I am still alive! Haha! Even more importantly, THE NATE BUG is still alive and kicking!

So I have this idea.......Although I am not at all the one in medical school and I am not claiming to be going through what Nate is going through (which right now is an exam block).....he may be the one in the fire, but I AM FEELING THE HEAT, DARN IT!

One of my extremely good friends is also a med-school wife, and she agreed with me totally tonight when we got together.

I think I am nervous for Nate, as well as just wanting to help him as much as is possible, in any way possible. This has translated to me taking on even more and more responsibilities! Please, don't misunderstand, I don't mind and I love doing it to help him, but even I am a bit burned out right now.

As I sit here on this lovely evening, Nate is not yet home and won't be for about another hour (it is currently just past 9:30 pm).....he left the house at 4:30 this morning!!! YEP...4:30 am. He took an exam and has been studying all day.

All of this being taken in to account, we are going to go to Chicago for one night for his fall break this week. We don't have tons of extra cash by any means, but we both felt it necessary to get away for a little break. We are going to Middlebury Wednesday night and dropping off the magnificent Hans. We are going to go to the Windy City for Thursday, Thursday night, and Friday. We are hoping to be back to Greenwood Friday night, perhaps Saturday morning if we feel the need to not drive back to Greenwood....we will see.

More to come, at a later time! Love to all!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Facebook....Good or Evil?

Oh Facebook......I have tons of ideas for this blog.....

I think a good place to start is to say that I held off for a long time in getting facebook. Nate still does not (and will not) get facebook.

There was a girl in college who I only knew as "Facebook Girl" and I am not even going to sugar-coat it.....I DID NOT like her. It turned out that I learned her actual name in my senior year, but I would say for a full year before that, I only knew her in my mind as "Facebook Girl." Manchester College is awesome. But that being said, it is a bit "dated" in some ways. While Nate was enjoying his days in the new, expensive, beautiful, state-of-the-art Science Center, I spent my time in the Ad Building. Haha, oh, those days in the Ad building. IT IS OLD!!!! The walls and ceiling are cracked and mess, I am pretty sure it is 1 million years old, but actually not. That being said, on the second floor there was a "lounge" where I would go between two classes that I had that were close enough together not to leave campus and go home, but far enough apart to need a few minutes out of a classroom. The room had two "dinosaur" age computers. You know the kind, like the first computers ever invented. Pretty much one of them was broken (although not the same one each time, it is like they rotated days)...and alas, "Facebook Girl" was always, always on the "working" computer. I tried not to be nosy and judgy, but all she was ever doing was checking facebook and "poking" people. It really annoyed me and made me kind of mad. I would really have appreciated the opportunity to check my e-mail for actual "school stuff" but instead she HAD to be on facebook, doing worthless crap. In all honesty, I feel this was my first "encounter" with facebook.

After college and suddenly with time on my hands, I finally gave in and got facebook. Immediately I was "hooked." It is kind of fun.....also, there is a "chat" option which I think is like the new "AIM" of my middle-school days.

Pretty recently, I even surprised myself when Nate accused me of being "addicted" to facebook, and I GOT EXTREMELY DEFENSIVE. I am pretty sure this is actually a sign of being addicted....oh crap! All day when I am home with my computer, I get on and off ALL DAY. But I think I am reaching my limits.

I would like to explore what I consider some of the PROS and CONS of facebook, and there are BOTH:

PROS

Allows you to find and reconnect with people you otherwise would not be able to
Allows you to stay in touch and in the loop with people you can't otherwise
It is free
Networking opportunities

CONS

Can become obsessive
TMI
Just technology, and some of the crap that entails
Can cause me to make myself crazy

Some of these options being laid out, there is a lot of stuff I HATE....including but not limited to QUIZZES, POKING, BUY A ROUND, QUESTIONS and ANSWERS and junk like that.

All I use facebook for is to look at the wall and be nosy, reconnect and see what people are up to....stuff like that.

I think I am going to try to "wean" off of it. I am totally going to keep it, but I am going to try to stop looking at it literally 10 times a day. I am sure this is going to be even "harder" since my blackberry now has a direct link to facebook.......

So is it ultimately good or ultimately evil.......perhaps a level of both. I would like to lean towards the "good" side, depending on how you use it. And also, as with anything, I think good in moderation......MODERATION being the key......

I want to move to Africa.....and be a mom to orphans

For many of you who know, and some of you who do not.....we recently found a home church. When I say recently, I actually mean we have been attending pretty regularly since the beginning of June. Also, for those of you who know some of the events that have happened to me and us over the last few months, yes, this does coincide with what I would consider me reaching "rock bottom." I DO NOT think this is a coincidence. I very much believe it was "meant to be" if you believe in this sort of thing.

We kind of meant to "shop around" for a church a bit and try a few out. It just so happened, however, that the one we ended up in on that first Sunday in June, is a "keeper." Since then, we have really begun to get involved and get to know more and more people. This is AWESOME, but has been a bit slower than I anticipated.

Nate and I have been going to Sunday morning service and also each joined a Wednesday evening Bible study. Nate joined a Men's class and me a Women's. We are only two weeks in to it, but both feeling extremely positive about it. Two weeks ago in church, in the bulletin, there was an announcement of an African Children's Choir coming to the church the next week (which at this point is actually the most recent Sunday.) They needed homes to host the children as they were traveling, only for one night. I volunteered us, just because I thought we could accommodate. I didn't know if they would need us, but at least thought we would offer.

They did need us. So this past Sunday, we went to the church, not really knowing much to anticipate. We had been assigned to accommodate three girls. These children are all orphaned children from Uganda. As we were meeting them, I was a bit nervous. I don't really know why, I think it is because with "strange" children I don't really know what to do. Nate is funny and a real "kid-at-heart" and children sense this and gravitate towards him. We got to meet them for a few minutes and had a bite to eat with them, then they did their program and we brought them home.

These girls were amazing...polite, beautiful, easy to entertain. They had a ton of fun drawing on Nate's white board, playing with his stethoscope, and playing a few games we had around the house. They went to bed after I read them a scripture. On Monday morning we woke up and I made breakfast, which they LOVED. We had a sausage casserole and fruit and juice. They made their beds (which, please note were a blow-up mattress and our couch) and then we just relaxed and enjoyed each other's company. More games and they got to meet Hansy (whom we had tried to keep away the previous night, just due to the fact he is a bit barkey and Africans aren't used to dogs as pets as much as in the US).

As the morning drew to a close, and I prepared to take them back to the church, it began to hit me that this would probably have meant more to me than it had to them. It had just been an amazing experience. Also, these children have been staying in people's homes like this since May, basically one night at a time. Nate had left quite early that morning, and I don't really think I am anything remarkable.

However, as we got to the church the girls got a bit quiet. When they went to leave, the 5 year old, Sarah, came over and took my hand and hugged me with big tears in her eyes and said "Thank you and I love you and will keep you in my prayers" I LOST IT! Then it was basically a snowball effect of a lot of crying, on my part and these amazing African children.

I feel that I am not doing this story justice for quite what it meant to me. By all American standards, these children should have "nothing" to be thankful for. Sarah had told me at one point that her favorite thing about coming to the US was going to the dentist. WOW....you are so wise, the dentist is a privilege! These children have no parents, they have basically no material items.....and yet....THEY ARE GRATEFUL, FAITHFUL, and HAVE SO MUCH TO GIVE!

I never anticipated "reacting" to these little girls like this. In all honesty, I thought housing them for a night in our home would help them out. Little did I know how much it would help me. I LOVE YOU GIRLS! I WILL REMEMBER YOU ALWAYS! Since Monday I have just found my attitude better and my outlook better. I am SO GRATEFUL! Thanks again, it was just what I needed, and I know God knew that.