Saturday, December 29, 2012

moving forward

The big news of the week (in my little life) is that I decided I would start applying for other jobs within the state. I've been at my case aide job for about 2 months, and I know it's not long, but the application process can take so long, so I figure I might as well get a head start. I've applied for 2 jobs so far. I'm excited about it! The more I think about it, the more I dread the thought of working at a nonprofit. I always thought I would like to focus my work on Nonprofits (thus my Nonprofit Management and Leadership focus at GVSU). Alas, I've been burned by enough nonprofits that the thought of working at one right now scares me. I like the state because they're so straightforward. If you don't get a job or promotion, it's probably not going to be because someone in upper management has a vendetta against you or because they don't like your face or there is some misunderstanding, it's because you're probably not qualified enough or your past performance has been unsatisfactory according to quantitative measurement. You have to stick to very clear bureaucratic lines, or else all hell will break lose. I find that comforting at this time in my life. I know it reeks havoc in other ways, but a lot of my frustration with the nonprofits I've been involved with in the past couple years has come from unclear boundaries and expectations and personalities reigning unchecked and supreme. Maybe someday in the future, I will go back to nonprofits...we'll see.

We had a Groupon for a one month membership to Prairie Life Fitness, which expires today. But yesterday I bought a Groupon for another gym in Lincoln called Goodlife Fitness. They have around 100 classes per week, and a huge gym with machines and weight lifting equipment. I visited it last night after work, and I'm very excited! I like going to fitness classes.  Though sometimes they can look silly and make you feel silly, class workouts usually push me farther than I'd go by myself and get me moving in different kinds of ways. Classes keep me interested and focused on being in shape, which is helpful. That's why I'm excited.

Yesterday at work I mostly slacked for the last hour and spent time looking at "Best Albums of 2012" lists. I actually made a spreadsheet of the top 50 albums from 3 different music magazines. My plan is to start listening to as many as I can. Luckily, I spend about 5-7 hours per day on my computer and can easily listen to hours and hours worth of music daily. I've already gone through 3 or 4 seasons of Radiolab and caught up on most of my missed episodes of This American Life. I used to listen to NPR all day, but I kind of got tired of that with the election and fiscal cliff nonsense. I'm thinking maybe I will occasionally listen to Morning Edition, and maybe some Fresh Air from time to time. There are so many great shows from NPR to listen to, but there's so much music I've missed out on! I remember when I was volunteering at WYCE, I used to know most of the albums in the Top 50 lists. Now I only know some of the musicians. I miss listening to music; I miss enjoying music, though I've been getting a little better at it in the past few months. Right now I'm listening to Mala in Cuba, from an artist I know and like from my WYCE days, Mala Rodriguez.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

this year's Christmastime

Ah, Christmas. It has been a busy few days. Friday we flew out of Omaha to Chicago Midway, then drove in a rented Hyundai Tuscon to Holland. It was an 8 1/2 hour journey, and we finally got there at 2:15am. I barely remember it. I was a zombie. We had a few delays throughout the trip. Saturday morning we went to the Johnson Christmas party. It was great, as always, to see my cousins, aunts and uncles. Kara and Evan announced that they're having another baby in July. I ate tons of cookies. I got a anti-condensation cup with a straw for my bingo gift and Kurt got a Starbuck's gift card. Saturday night we went to Kara and Evan's house and played games with them for most of the night. It was a lot of fun.

Sunday we went to Central Wesleyan with my parents. I often experience nostalgia going there, for example, some of the same people are in the choir as 20 years ago. Though Pastor Paul looks older, he's still there. It was enjoyable. My mom asked what Kurt and I thought of the service, since the church is losing a lot of the younger generation. Apparently, they are trying to reach out to that age group. Sunday afternoon we went to the gym, and Sunday night we met a group of folks at Denny's. Chris, Kim, Darlene, Travis, and Dan came. It was a lot of fun to see everyone. Kurt nerd talked with them for a good amount of time. We were out pretty late.

On Monday, Kurt and I went to the Rivertown Mall to wander around and get gifts for the Overbeek Christmas party bingo game. We gave fake mustaches with roasted almonds and a leopard print fleece blanket. It was good to see everyone on that side of the family, as well. I've missed the last 2 Overbeek Christmas parties because I've been in Nebraska for Christmas. I think Kurt enjoyed himself there. Monday night we went to Amanda and Nate's house and just sat on their couch and chatted for about 3 hours. I find a lot of enjoyment in that simple act.

Tuesday morning we woke up and Skyped with Pete and Connor for present opening. I got a load of Smartwool. It was my Smartwool Christmas. I was VERY happy to be receiving it, though, because it is quality stuff and will keep me warm. Mom and Dad also got us GVSU hoodies.

Throughout the weekend, I got to spend a lot of time playing with Hannah. I always love doing that and watching her grow between visits. This time we saw her take 2 steps on Christmas. A few times over the weekend, I had her feed me some of her food. Her biggest joke was pretending to give me the food, then acting like she was going to eat it, then actually feeding it to me. I loved watching her crawl. In wide open spaces, when she wants to go fast, or if she's really excited, she'll put her head down and crawl at top speed.  Evan says she'll run into walls sometimes. She loves playing with other kids, even if they're older and bigger than her. I had a lot of fun with her on Christmas. I had her in my lap and she kept taking off my glasses, putting them in her mouth, then giving them back to me. She wanted me to put them back on so she could take them back off again. She also got a kick out of trying them on. She did this with Kurt and his glasses, too, over and over for a while, right before we left to go to the airport. It was precious. I certainly wish I could be around her more often, but I was lucky to spend a lot of time with her this weekend.

Our travel back to Lincoln took a total of 7 hours and didn't have any delays. We got home around 6pm CST and now we're not quite sure what to do! We don't have a lot of food in the fridge, everything's closed, his family is busy, and we'll have Christmas with them on Sunday. I guess it's time to relax.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

muppets and Christmas

Yesterday a group of us watched the Muppet Christmas Carol. It made me think of the Muppet movie I watched a lot growing up, which I thought was a movie, but when I did a little internet searching, it turned out to be a TV special. I guess my parents must have recorded it off the TV because I remember watching it a lot! Either way, I love the Muppets and was glad to watch the movie.

Yesterday Kurt and I made some pretzel rods dipped in chocolate, and we sprinkled them with candy canes. They were delicious and I ate too many of them, both today and yesterday. We originally made them to give to our secret santa's at work, and to give to our landlords. We ended up dipping banana and a dried apple, too. All very delicious.

I've started in on the third book in the "Game of Thrones" series. When I get into those books, I just can't put them down. Kurt always wants to read them "together" and I just plow ahead before him. They're so nerdy sounding, if you start to talk about them, but such great stories in general. It's nice to read an actual book (mine is borrowed from the library, he purchased one for himself), instead of looking at a computer screen (or even a Kindle screen).

We leave for Michigan on Friday for our Christmas trip!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


This weekend has been nice and busy. Last night we had  a bacon party with some friends to celebrate a birthday. We had bacon wrapped fillet mignon, bacon wrapped sweet potato french friends (which Kurt made), bacon wrapped smoky links, some type of bacon soup, a bacon chip dip, 3 Little Piggy pizza (with sausage, bacon and canadian bacon), and even cupcakes with bacon on top. Someone brought bacon beer, which I had a small taste of, and I found it truly disgusting. Besides the beer, everything was delicious. No one in our immediate friend group is a vegetarian, if you can't already tell. After all the bacon, we played some dance game on the Kinect, which was loads of fun! I like dancing, so even copying a dancer on a screen was enjoyable.

Today we went to church, which was supposed to be Advent themed, but was changed last minute to include some spiritual thoughts and comments on the massacre on Friday. I remember one thing Jim Keck said that I liked; "Evil always tries to communicate despair."

After lunch, we did the crossword at Jimmy John's, and we did very well this week! We also did a lot of Christmas shopping and we got groceries. Overall, it was a busy weekend and I hope to enjoy the last few hours before the busy week starts.

Friday, December 14, 2012

sad day.

Today is the day a young man killed 20 children and 6 adults in an elementary school. It just makes me feel like we live in a brutal, cruel world. Most people resort to their comforting rhetoric, to make them feel like they have the answers and to make them think they don't have to do or feel anything. And why shouldn't they? The world is brutal and cruel, especially to those 20 sets of parents tonight. It's disturbing to think about, and I don't really want to think about it anymore.

As I have more time to enjoy a more relaxed and slower-paced life style, I am finding time to become a little bit of a better person (I hope). Today I thought about how I don't want to be the type of person who is satisfied to accept that this type of violence and cruelty is just the way it will always be. I want to look for and appreciate gentleness and peace in the world and hopefully bring a little bit of it in. I will never solve the world's problems, but I will chose to hope they can be solved. Otherwise, I don't see a reason to stay on our planet.

Tonight was a fun time. We had a Christmas party with a church group. We're the youngest couple there, which sort of makes me feel out of place sometimes, but I am greatly enjoying getting to know new people. They always have top-notch food and lots of good wine. They're fun and interesting people to be around.

Also, it's raining for the first time in months. It's not even that cold, so the rain felt good on my hair and skin. I might go outside yet a little while tonight to enjoy it.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

married life so far

So how is married life so far? It's not anything weird or strange. It's just me and Kurt living together. It's nice. It feels normal and like life should. Sometimes we just sit on our computers in separate rooms and it's boring. Sometimes we don't even get to really talk to each other during a day because we're busy. Sometimes we flirt like we used to. That's a lot of fun. I must say I have started to see a tiny glimmer of how annoying it could possibly be to live with a person for quite a long time, but it seems like you just have to let things roll off your back. I can handle that, I think.

Life has certainly slowed down. We have a temporary gym membership to Prairie Life Fitness and if it weren't for that, I would be stir crazy by now. We hope to sponsor a new refugee family soon, but this time of year refugee resettlement slows way down. I'm more than ready to jump into volunteering and I miss helping people and helping refugees. 

Tonight me and Kurt made chocolate covered pretzels with lots of sprinkles on top. It was a fun shared activity. It took a lot longer than I thought it would, but we got probably 60-70 pretzels out of it. We are going to give them as gifts to lots of people in our life, including secret santas. We both have one at work. 

Congratulations to my sister and brother-in-law who are going to buy a house and just found out that they're having another baby in July, after having one just this past February. It is totally unexpected for everyone, but wonderful news!