Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Times in 2009: Wrapping it up

The first part of the semester was fairly uneventful (which was good, considering what was coming up!). I spent most of my time doing school work and getting ready to run the Des Moines 1/2 Marathon. I also started this blog. Here are some of my favorite posts so far:

Once October came, so did the busyness! I was in my very good friend's wedding one weekend and ran the Des Moines Half Marathon the next. Then, it was back to Iowa for Halloween with Aaron and some of his friends.

November also started with a weekend in Iowa (my goodness - I was in Iowa an awful lot this fall!!!) with my mom. On the way, I picked her up at a friend's cabin near the Platte River where she had been celebrating her friend Sue's 60th birthday (the picture above is of the two of them -- I only HOPE I look so good!). We headed to Ames to watch the Husker volleyball team take on the Cyclones. It was expected to be a knock-down-drag-out, but we swept Iowa State in 3 straight sets. It was a really fun trip, even if the volleyball wasn't all we expected.

November was another extremely busy month. I travelled to Dallas to be in another very close friend's wedding, took the GRE, wrote a term paper, took two Statistics tests, prepared my PhD application for the University of Washington, and celebrated Thanksgiving with the fam somewhere in there.

December started with a trip to Philadelphia for the American Anthropological Association's annual meeting. Over the summer, as you know, I had a chance to meet people from two of the PhD programs I intend to apply to, so the trip to the conference was a great opportunity to meet people from the other two. It was totally amazing to meet and hear some of my Anthropology idols speak, and was extremely informative meeting with some anthropologists that I may be working with in a PhD program. Luckily, my mom agreed to be my traveling partner, so I had moral support and someone to shop with! December also brought two HUGE snow storms to Lincoln. Lucky me (and everyone else at UNL) the first fell during Dead Week. That gave me some extra time to prepare for finals week and tie up a few loose ends. Once I made it through the end of my semester, Aaron and I went to Kansas City to celebrate!!! The weekend was so much fun and WAY TOO SHORT! We'll have to venture back soon...

I ended the year in style... With the h1n1 virus! :( Not the best way I can think of to spend my break or the holidays, but no better time to be sick and housebound than when you're totally snowed in, right? Fortunately, I got better just in time for New Years Eve! I made it to an afternoon event at the yoga studio (which I'll write more about later) and then Aaron and I went to Omaha for a nice dinner with his mom and a night out with some friends. It was a wonderful way to celebrate 2009 and welcome 2010.

Looking back over these last few posts, I can't believe how much I did last year!!!!! It was an incredibly busy and fun-filled year and I wouldn't do anything differently. I made some amazing friends, traveled to new places, and pushed myself to my limits once or twice (like when I wanted to pass out 100 yards before the finish line, but kept going...). Thank you to friends and family for supporting me and going on adventures with me in 2009. It was a WONDERFUL year, and I absolutely can't wait to see what 2010 will bring! Happy New Year!!!

Good Times in 2009: Part 3

My goodness! I've only gotten through the first 7 months of the year so far!!! So... On we go!

At the end of July, we celebrated Aaron's birthday in style(? - haha) with a party with lots of friends, margaritas, and and an awesome cake. Then, he and I were off to Colorado for a weekend of hiking and hanging out in Estes Park. Our first full day included a short hike then hot dogs and smores with friends. Funnily enough, my friend from school, Jared, and his girlfriend, Ari, were on a cross-country road trip and just happened to be camping just outside of Estes while we were there! It was great to see them.
The next morning, we were up bright and early and off to hike the Chasm Lake Trail. It was an 8 mile hike, which we figured would take a few hours... 6 hours of breathtaking scenery later, we made it back to the car. It was well worth it, but let me tell you - we were exhausted and starving! It was such a relaxing trip and a great way to end the summer.
Just before school started, my cousin, Nick, married a WONDERFUL woman! It was a weekend of wedding extravaganza with the fam. We were absolutely thrilled to welcome Kara and her family into ours. The wedding was simple and beautiful. And, with that, it was time for school to start again...

Good Times in 2009: Part 2

Today officially marks ONE WEEK of sickness! This totally BITES. I am assuming that it is a combination of a few things: the stupid h1n1, the letdown of the end of a REALLY tough semester, and the fact that I was seriously slacking on sleep and vitamins just before I got sick. I am really, really, really hoping to feel better for tomorrow night because it's NEW YEARS EVE! Everyone needs a little fun in their life on NYE, right?!?!?!

So... Here's part 2 of my 2009 recap, for any interested parties...

I had always wanted to visit the Northwest Coast and in July, I was given the perfect opportunity! My friend Meghan was driving out to Eugene, OR to spend a few weeks house-sitting for a friend, so I drove out with her! It was an incredible trip, filled with beautiful scenery, AMAZING food, and some really cool runs. We ran on Pre's Trail in Eugene (Steve Prefontaine was a legendary runner at the University of Oregon) and on the Seattle waterfront. We hiked near the coast and walked on the beach. Meghan was kind enough to tailor our trip to my needs and I was able to visit 3 potential PhD programs at the University of Utah, the University of Oregon, and the University of Washington. It was such an incredible trip and I would go back in a heartbeat.

Ok! Time to cheer on the Huskers in the Holiday Bowl! GO BIG RED!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Good Times in 2009: Part 1

Well, here it is Monday and I'm STILL laid up! At least now I've made it out to the couch... I have decided that I was finally hit by the h1n1, so I'm just trying to be patient and ride it out. Lots of rest and fluids, blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, as 2009 comes to a close, I thought I would look back over the last year and enjoy some of the memories. As I started to go through my pictures, I realized just how busy I've been! So, I am going to break up the year into 3 (maybe 4) posts so that I can be sure to get all of the good stuff in!

Last January, my mom and I went to Sanibel, Florida. It was an absolutely amazing trip. We were only there for a few days, but those days included: shelling on a small, secluded island off of Captiva; LOTS of laying on the beach; the BEST whole wheat blueberry pancakes of my LIFE; renting bikes and riding all over the island; a 4 mile run on the beach... I could go on and on...

Also in January, I joined the Lincoln YMCA Marathon/Half Marathon class and started training to run the Lincoln Half Marathon. It was an awesome experience. When I started the class, 4 miles felt like a long run to me. Every week that we ran more than 4 miles was a new accomplishment. I ran a 5 mile race, a 10 mile race, and a 10K race. Then, in May, I ran and finished the Lincoln Half Marathon. Probably the best part of the experience, though, were the friends I made (and the boyfriend! haha). My running Peeps are an amazing group of people that I know I will stay friends with for a very long time.

I also managed to finish my first year of graduate school in 2009. It was not easy, but I did it! I made some great school friends as well, who helped keep me sane during the really challenging times.

At the end of May, I went on an accidental date for wine and cheese at Bread & Cup. Incidentally, that turned out pretty well... : )

The end of June brought with it a weekend trip to Chicago for one of my very best friend's bachelorette party. It was a fun-filled weekend, for sure!

And that's just the beginning... Stay tuned for more summer adventures...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Shèngdàn Kuàilè Xīnnián Kuàilè (Merry Christmas!)

Merry Christmas Eve! I'm sitting here in pj's with my mom and Mags, watching a movie and sipping 7Up (stomach flu beverage). At least I felt good enough to eat a little beef stew and cornbread tonight!
Anyway, I figured there was no better time than the present to revisit the Christmas I spent in Taiwan a couple of years ago...
I spent the days leading up to Christmas decorating my classroom. I decided that the best way to celebrate my favorite holiday (in a mostly non-Christian and non-Christmas celebrating country) was to help my students experience some of the traditions that my family practices every year. So, I made them a Christmas scene, complete with tree and gifts under it, snow, and a snowman (I'm not the MOST creative person, so this was a pretty big undertaking for me!). Then, we talked about how my family hangs ornaments on our tree every year, talking about the memories that each ornament brings back, and making new memories. Each student made an ornament of their own to hang on our classroom tree. They also all contributed a green handprint to the wreath we hung on the door to our classroom. Maybe the best of all were the Christmas lists that they made... Most of the girls asked for dolls, makeup, jewelry (yes, they were 1st and 2nd graders) and most of the boys asked for toy trains, airplanes, cars, and other "boy gifts". However, as I was hanging the lists on the wall, I noticed that Samuel (one of my favorite little boys) had asked for a Barbie! hahahaha When I asked him about it, he assured me the Barbie was a gift for his sister, but knowing his utter hatred for his sister, I have a sneaking suspicion that she never would have laid hands on that Barbie should Santa have made his way to Samuel's house!
On Christmas Eve, we had a Christmas game day/program at school. My class sang "Away In A Manger" and I wore a Santa Hat, and sweated like CRAZY in it - it was over 90 degrees in Chiayi that day!!! That night, I ate a caramel Santa that Kara sent me and watched Christmas movies.
Christmas is not an official holiday in Taiwan, so I had to work. Fortunately, though, it fell on a Tuesday that year, and I never had to work earlier than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesdays. On Christmas morning, I slept in, made eggs and sausage for breakfast (not the same as at home, but the idea was still there), watched Christmas movies, then headed to the Starbucks in the Chiayi mall. It was the perfect place to spend my Christmas day because it was one of the only places in town decked out for Christmas. Plus, even Taiwanese Starbucks have Gingerbread Lattes and Cranberry Bliss Bars! Thus, my love for Gingerbread Lattes began. I was sad and missing my family. It was the first time I had ever been away from them on Christmas and the smell and taste of the latte brought back a little of the comfort of home and on that day made me feel just a little less homesick. Now, every time I have one, I think about my Christmas in Taiwan and how grateful I am to be home now...
Ok. Off to finish watching Love Actually with the fam, maybe a little of The Christmas Story, then head to bed and wait for Santa to come! : )
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

p.s. Pictures from Taiwan Christmas and from this Christmas Eve!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Cookies?

This year, I have been blessed with so many wonderful new friends and so many wonderful people in my life. I was also blessed with a graduate student's salary (if you can call $800/month a salary...). So, my idea to show all of these people how much I appreciate and care about them was to give them each a festive jar of some of the Christmas cookies that my mom, sister and I make every year. In theory, this was a great idea...

I made all of the proper preparations, bought enough ingredients to make extra of some of my favorite cookies, got the packaging, and made a list of some of the people I wanted to deliver these "gifts" to. But now, it looks as though the three of us may just have A LOT of cookies to eat. Or, actually, maybe it will just be my mom and sister taking charge...

Last night I came down with a nasty case of the stomach flu!!! Talk about bad timing! Not only are there cookies to deal with, but also our traditional Christmas Eve beef stew dinner, and Christmas morning breakfast, NOT TO MENTION stocking candy! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

Keep your fingers crossed that I'm back to solid foods tomorrow, and stay tuned for a better Christmas post once I'm feeling up to it. In the mean time, drive safely if you're traveling for the holidays, enjoy time with friends and family, and have a nice Christmas Eve tomorrow!

Oh! And enjoy Aaron's new video blog!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


Remember what I said yesterday? One exception: I do not - NOT - love shoveling. Or scraping off my windshield. DO. NOT.

I had plenty of work I should have been doing tonight, but had to dig my car and my mom's car out of our parking spots because a parking ban starts at midnight here in Lincoln so that the snow plows can come through and clear off the streets. And now, instead of working on my statistics project or my take-home midterm for another class, I am making oatmeal raisin cookies. You know why? Because after all of that shoveling... I deserve it, damn it! : )

I hope you're all warm in your homes tonight and ready to brave the roads tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I don't have anything incredibly profound or interesting to say today (although I do have a trip to Philly to recap for you later), I just want to say that I love snow and I love snow days!!!

Normally, when I had a real job and lived in the real world, snow days were for lounging around, making cookies, watching movies, etc. Today, now that my life is that of a graduate student, I love this snow day because it has given me an entire day, uninterrupted by class or daily course work, during Dead Week no less!, to WORK!!! Is this sad? If it is, I don't care. Considering the amount of work I have to get done between now and next Friday, I am loving this!!!!! I am keeping my fingers crossed that Mother Nature pulls through for me and gives me another one tomorrow - right now, to me, that would be pure bliss.

My love for snow, on the other hand, is unchanging and unwavering. I love snow because it is pretty. It sparkles when the light hits it and last night it looked like someone was standing on the roof shaking glitter into the alleyway. Snow reminds me of the holidays. It makes me want to snuggle in a blanket with my cat close by and a good movie. It reminds me of one of (possibly) my favorite days (of all time) and makes me think of chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate. Snow makes me think of Christmas trees and spending time with my family.
Maybe it's because I'm sappy and sentimental. Or maybe it's because I'm a true Midwesterner at heart (something I am certainly proud of). Whatever the reason, the bottom line today is:


Enjoy some peace and quiet tonight, and stay warm, wherever you are!