Sunday, April 15, 2018

Chicago Trip for Jackson's 5th Birthday

Jackson is an incredibly blessed little boy with so many people who love him and shower him with gifts at every opportunity. Because of that, for his birthday we wanted to celebrate with something other than a physical gift. He's a big dinosaur fan, so we planned a weekend trip to Chicago to see the dinosaurs at the Field Museum.

When looking on AirBnB for a place to stay, I came across a listing for a boat in Chicago Harbor. We didn't tell him beforehand, so it was a fun reveal when we arrived at a boat instead of a hotel. He was so excited to sleep on a boat!

The location could not have been better - we were in the harbor right next to the museum and the aquarium, so we were able to easily walk there. When we arrived Friday afternoon, the weather was gorgeous - warm and sunny. We went to the aquarium first, then ate pizza on the boat with an incredible view of the skyline.

There were two compartments on the boat, so Jackson had his own little bed.

The next day was cold and rainy, and Jackson was sick so it wasn't as great of a day as we would've hoped, but he did pretty well. We got breakfast at my favorite, The Bongo Room, then headed to the Field Museum.

The famous T-Rex, Sue, is the first thing you see when you come in. We then visited a special Jurassic World exhibit with several animatronic dinosaurs.

We visited other exhibits, including the animal dioramas and dinosaur skeletons. Happy Birthday to this smart, fun, sweet five year-old!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Fall 2017

Only child problems - you have to push your t-rex toy in the swing

Our apartment complex hosted a fall carnival, including a bounce house, petting zoo, food, and prizes. Jackson had the hardest time getting up the hill of this bounce house - but he made it!

In August of 2017, I started the most amazing job. I'd been looking and applying for jobs for about 8 months the closest I'd gotten was a few interviews, but nothing super promising. I quit my job at IPS and my paycheck stopped coming mid-summer. The Lord took care of us, though, and money came from unexpected places all summer and my health insurance continued up until the exact month my new insurance took effect. 

I came across this job at EVERFI and wasn't really even sure I wanted it, but I'd had a couple of interviews and I felt good about it. I was getting ready for another interview when I received a call that I'd gotten the job. I went to the other interview anyway, and it went really well, too. The guy I interviewed with offered me the job on the spot. So after eight months, I received two job offers in one day. I was so grateful, but also so confused about which to take. After a lot of prayer, a session in the temple, and several conversations with Brandon and others that I trusted, I decided to take the job at EVERFI. It has proved to be one of my greatest decisions. I work from home and really enjoy the work I do. The company is great and positive and the people are wonderful. It's everything I was looking for, plus so many things I didn't even know I was looking for. It's been an incredible blessing in our lives, and I'm so grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who knew what was best for me and our family and delivered it at exactly the right time, taking care of us the whole way through.

In October, I attended a 2-day orientation in Washington, D.C, where our headquarters are located. After working in schools for the past 5 years where so many are understandably very jaded and negative, these people were so positive, kind, and happy. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop - for someone to complain or criticize someone or something. Nothing. It was such a lovely place to be!

The one evening I had there, I had dinner with some of the other girls at the orientation. We ate at a restaurant along the Potomac River as the sun set, then walked to see a few of the memorials at night. I love D.C.!

In October, Sergeant Esselborn returned home from duty for the last time. I'm so proud of him and the hard work he put in and the sacrifice he made to honorably serve. He has consistently received commendation and praise from his superiors and has earned the respect of those he's led. He's a true American hero.

Emerson's cello concert - I love that sweet girl.

Rebecca's Wedding - September 2, 2017

My former roommate and good friend Rebecca got married in Philadelphia on September 2, 2017. Brandon and I drove on Friday and arrived that evening in time for a welcome dinner with Rebecca and Joseph (her fiance) and their families.

The next day was the wedding, and it was cold and rainy, rare for early September. Rebecca was radiant, though, and it was so wonderful to see her happy.

It was somewhat of a roommate reunion - Alanna and Joey, who got married the month after Brandon and me, and Carrie all came. It was great to see them all!

While waiting for pictures outside the temple, my friends Cory and Emily and their kids suddenly appeared! They live in Philadelphia and were visiting a museum nearby so they had parked in the temple garage, since it's free. It was perfect timing and so fun to see them! Their second son, Owen, took a liking to Brandon right away. 

In between the sealing and the reception, Brandon and I had lunch at Sabrina's Cafe, a restaurant we'd fallen in love with on our last trip to Philly. It did not disappoint! Also, how cute is that man? I love him so much.

We were cold and wet, but I was so happy to be there with Rebecca on such a wonderful day. She was such a beautiful bride and is such a wonderful person. She and Joseph seem like a great match!

The next day, we walked to church in Philadelphia, then drove to Gettysburg that afternoon.

Gettysburg was incredible. I was struck by how absolutely stunning the area is and could hardly believe somewhere so beautiful could have once been the scene of such harrowing death and devastation a century and a half ago. It brings me hope to know that those gruesome scenes have given way to gorgeous countryside and moving monuments to bravery and dedication. Through Jesus Christ, every bad thing can be overcome and work together for good if we allow it to. Even our own battlefields can become beautiful memories if we trust in and follow Him.

The next day we finished our drive home. We stopped in Wheeling, West Virginia, where we saw part of the original National Road and explored the historic area. Wheeling was where West Virginia officially split from Virginia to become its own state - essentially because they refused to secede from the Union, as the rest of Virginia was doing. This was also a major route for commerce in early America days, including slave trade. Disapproval of slavery was so strong in Wheeling, though, that they eventually moved the route farther south. This is why I love road trips - such cool things to see along the way!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Summer Fun 2017

Have I ever mentioned that Indiana is beautiful in the summer? Sure, it can get hot and humid, but the last few years, those terribly hot and humid days haven't been nearly as common as I remember from my childhood, and there have been many more beautiful days.

As a gift for giving blood, Brandon and I both got tickets to King's Island (an amusement park nearby). As I've gotten older, my body hasn't been so into roller coasters, but I prepped with some Dramomine and we ended up having a great time. What I also learned on this trip is that if I sit in the front of the coaster, I'm fine. So front row for me from now on. 

We celebrated my Grandma's 86th birthday with her at the farm. She's a treasure to our family, and she's been so good to Jackson and Brandon. They both love her!

Day date! We went to the NCAA Hall of Champions and walked around White River State Park downtown. I love Indy and I love this man!

Jackson and I participated in the library's summer reading program and earned Indianapolis Indians tickets. Apparently so did everyone else, because the day we went was PACKED. I had no idea so many people watched baseball.

End of summer means the beginning of football season! Go #59!