Anniversary Adventures (Year 2)

There is something enchanting about big cities. That’s one of the things that drew us to make the move up to Northwest Indiana – it only takes an hour to get into the city!

Since we were both gainfully employed for this our second anniversary celebration, we celebrated with a weekend trip a little closer to home. Since it IS so close to home, we were familiar with the city. We’ve done the deep-dish pizza thing. We’ve been to the Bean and Museum Campus. Spent a lot of time in Grant Park and along the Lake Shore. It’s becoming more of a challenge to think outside the box and come up with unique things to do in this city we only dream of calling home.

10703612_10152726773318582_5462052541338151411_n We do have our comfort traditions. If we stay overnight in the city, we tend to stay at the same place and grab breakfast at our favorite brunch stop. We love to stay at the Congress Hotel – we can usually find cheaper rates (because apparently it’s “haunted”?? Who knew…) and it’s got a great view of Grant Park and the lake. Since we’re getting the haunted hotel discount, we do spring for the extra “lake view” fees.  And breakfast at Yolk is always a must during an overnight stay. They are only open until 3:00pm and have the greatest breakfast and lunch combo menu. So Jonathan could get a burger and I could get pancakes. (We don’t. We’re creatures of habit and have settled on ALWAYS getting some kind of skillet – it’s an amazing breakfast).

But of course it’s most fun to try to find new things to do. So we took the train in, dropped off our bags, grabbed some brunch, and then started on our new adventure! Jonathan has always talked about kayaking through the canal. So we found a groupon that saved us some money and made the trek up to possibly the furthest away kayak rental place. Just meant we had our work cut out for us if we wanted to make it to the end and back!

IMG_6109Kayaking is NOT easy. I have watched people kayak before. It doesn’t look very complicated. Before we left, they taught us how to sit, how to use the paddle, how not to use the paddle, and how to avoid tipping the kayak. With all that information, plus a quick study of the map, we were gracefully slipping into the kayaks and taking off on our adventure. Now, for those who know me, physically activity can make me crabby. Particularly if I think it should be easier than it is. The first stretch of our trip was against the current. And we had a long stretch of boring sights before we saw any skyscrapers. Jonathan’s manly strength and exceptionally long arms added an additional element of frustration. He was always WAY ahead of me. My arms were so tired before we even made it to the first fork in the canal. But finally we made it to the downtown we knew and recognized some sights we’ve seen while walking, driving, or riding the CTA.

The coolest stretch of the canal was unfortunately the most stressful. Because tiny humans in kayaks are nothing to barges and tour group boats. The water was choppy and I was so afraid we were going be hit or hit something. I was run into the wall by the wake from some boat. At IMG_6134that point I made Jonathan stay between me and the wall. It felt safer for a while. So we made it as far as we felt safe traveling and then made the trip back. By this time our arms were used to the motion and we had the water on our side guiding us back to land. We estimate that we kayaked about 5 miles!

In the end it was a cool experience, even a midst the stress and danger.

We were sweaty and a little damp by the time we were done, so we made a quick stop at our hotel to shower and get pretty for our anniversary dinner date. We decided to try an Italian IMG_6146restaurant. We’d heard from others that it was a good place to eat, but a big part of our choice in going was this was the restaurant catering the dinner the night before Jonathan runs the Chicago marathon. So he wanted to see how the food and his stomach got along. So we walked a few blocks from our hotel to Lou Malnati’s for some dinner.

IMG_6151Jonathan ordered chicken fettuccine alfredo (he thought that was most similar to what he would eat marathon weekend) and I ordered a personal size pizza. We talked about what we enjoyed about our second year of marriage and what we’d like to keep the same & do different in year three. I think essentially we decided we wanted to have more fun & stop being so comfortable with our routine. We’ll see how that plays out!

It was no coincidence that we celebrated our anniversary the weekend following our actual anniversary. The actual weekend, Jonathan performed his first wedding ceremony for a couple at church. But the secondary reason, was that as part of marathon training, his running group planned a 20 mile run in Chicago. It was supposed to be similar to actual race day so they could practice running in the city with water stations and some fans, and it was a morale booster for one of their longest training runs before race day. So Jonathan woke up at 4:00am to catch a CTA to Lincoln Park to meet the group. I was so nervous about him traveling in the dark (there has been a lot of CTA crime in the news lately) so I couldn’t fall back asleep. I enjoyed watching the sun rise over the lake – and watched re-7080_10152728638333582_5398911053594872905_nruns of Criminal Minds until I was ready to go on my run. This was our first overnight stay since I became a real runner. The last time we stayed overnight (in April), I was just getting back into fitness and we took some walks, but I had never run in Chicago before. I felt like I joined some new unspoken club. There are so many runners in Chicago! I’m sure that’s just because there are a lot of people in Chicago and I ran along a … running trail. But still it was really neat. And I just love all the interesting things to look at on a Chicago run different from my usual runs.

We talked about doing some other things in the city on Saturday, but after our long day of kayaking on Friday and our runs on Saturday, we decided to just head home rather than walk anywhere or spend any more money.

All in all, it was a great weekend away! We love the city. We love each other. And we can’t wait to see what year three will hold!



Two Year Review

Two years ago, I woke up with a long to-do list. 1234541_10151887019438582_1626246702_n

Wake up on time … make sure everyone eats breakfast … get my hair done … do my nails … put on wedding dress … take photos … try to savor each moment.

It was by far the most important day of my life, and I had to be prepared! The day flew by with to-do’s getting mentally checked off or forgotten. Before I knew it, I was a wife. Together as husband and wife, we celebrated with family and friends before spending a week in paradise … perhaps the most unrealistic place to learn how to be married.

DSC_0006 editIt took some time to adjust, but we quickly learned to love our new life together. Cooking side-by-side, sharing our adventures together, and learning to cope with change, transition, and disappointment.

If you would have told me our first anniversary would be spent saying farewell to our first church family, I doubt I would have believed you. But September 15, 2013 brought us right to that place. Our first home together was packed neatly into boxes and with teary eyes, we drove away to our new adventure.

2 ANNIVERSARYYear two came with its own set of challenges. Plenty of transition comes with moving to a new area. Meeting new friends, getting to know the community, adjusting to new expectations. But we tackled things as a team and encouraged each other through highs and lows.

But there were victories to celebrate too! We had new jobs, bought our first home, and started a journey to a healthy lifestyle. We spent time with family, we got plugged into our new church, and we had to work harder to make time for each other.

But here we are! End of year two … looking forward to so much in year three.

Soul Food

Ever have one of those weeks when you question everything? When it seems like you work hard and accomplish absolutely nothing? Like nothing you do matters? Last week, I felt that way.

I’ve been working at my job for just over six months now. Most days I like it; I get paid to shoot and edit videos at a university. Pretty cool! But when there’s a slow period and I don’t have a lot of work to do, I just feel like I’m taking up space. It feels like I’m letting everyone down and not meeting expectations.

But then Monday came, and projects got rolling again. We had our weekly staff meeting, and I was so encouraged by it. Turns out the only expectations I’m not meeting … are my own. I expect too much of myself and when I don’t meet my (unrealistic) expectations I beat myself up and feel like a failure. Turns out I work with a team of people who feel otherwise – which really improved my outlook and productivity this week.

Last week was also the final week to prepare for the VBS dramas I was asked to lead for church. Since this was our first year being involved in VBS, I had no point of reference to compare to. I didn’t know of our rehearsals were right on track, or if we were way behind. The scripts were entirely too complicated and confusing for children, so that was making it hard for people to memorize their lines. But Sunday’s dress rehearsal was hard for me. I felt like everything should have easily clicked into place, but last minute an actor dropped out – which totally altered everything we’d been working toward.

Even though Sunday’s rehearsal felt like a failure, the team brought their best each night. And midway through the week, I was encouraged by a cast member who told me I had done an excellent job leading this year. I’m relieved to have this experience behind me … and I know that if I’m involved next year, there are some things we can learn from this year.

To top it all off, I got an encouraging e-mail from a former supervisor thanking me for excellent work I had done for them last year. It was very out of the blue, but reminded me that I have and CAN be successful … even on weeks when I feel like a failure.

Thanks to all who encouraged me last week … whether you knew it or not. And hey … if you haven’t encouraged someone lately, why don’t you? It could never hurt … and you just might make someone’s week a little better.

We Weren’t Really Living

Sunday night, Jonathan and I rented a movie and ordered a pizza. A stopping point between one busy week and the next. He looked over to me and said, “Does it feel like we weren’t really living before?”

I knew exactly what he meant. Before we moved up here, we lived in a small town. The closest fast food restaurant was at least 20 minutes away. Our hobbies … were eating and watching television. And our church activities consisted of Wednesday night band rehearsal and Sunday morning service. During our first year of marriage, our life was lazy – and we were okay with it. We didn’t realize we weren’t really living.

Now, we are part of a church that loves to have get togethers, play recreational sports, host meals, and have events outside of Sunday mornings. It’s been a change, but we have more friendships, more opportunities to serve, and more to stay busy. We’re reading through the Bible in a year, with accountability from another couple at church. We spend time dreaming about what we can do to make our ministry better, and how we can stretch ourselves outside our comfort zones to meet the needs of others.

We’ve starting maintaining a fitness routine, which has given us more things to do together, more time to talk, and more things to talk about. If you told me a year ago that 30-60% of our conversations would involve exercise and healthy eating, I would have laughed at you.

Jonathan just spent a week at youth camp, and while he was gone I could have easily binge watched a whole new television series. Instead, I read two and a half books, editing a wedding video, and tried new recipes. I watched a few shows, but the DVR is no where near cleaned out.

We are living now. Staying busy, being active, pursuing new goals and challenges. During year one, our marriage grew through the transitions: adjusting to living together, sharing spaces & things, dealing with family, managing expectations, and dealing with the loss of a senior minister. Our second year has grown our marriage through overcoming obstacles: moving to a new location, trusting God with our shelter, buying a home, living with family, learning to live healthy, and prioritizing time with each other among busy schedules.

I’m excited about the potential our marriage has to continue growing as our life continues to change. I hope no two years are the same, and I welcome the challenges of the future.