Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Introducing Joanie English

October 28
Today! They grow so fast!
Joanie's view of the city from our window.

It's hard for me to believe that I haven't posted about Joanie yet! It has now been two months since I went on an impromptu trip to Mariano's and came home with a Gerbera Daisy. There's a whole album of pictures on my phone dedicated to the many pictures I've taken of her progression. It has been such a delight to have her.

Why Joanie English? Well, that same night my roommate and I watched Johnny English (#classic) so naming her after that hilarity only seemed right.

When I first got her she had three blooms. A few weeks later those all shriveled up and died, a time which made me die a little inside. No joke. I was so afraid that there would be no more blooms. She had tiny blooms (is that what they're called?) from the start, but none of them had grown while those other three were alive so I knew there were no real guarantees. However, a few weeks after that, we noticed one of them actually start to grow more, and here we are today, one bloom standing so tall. And she has so many leaves!! The only ones we've lost were because of the window being open, the door opening, and gravity taking over...which results in broken leaves and dirt to be vacuumed.

Who knew I could dedicate a whole blog post to a plant? Actually, if you dig far enough in my archives you can find my monthly updates for my first plant. What a sad journey that was. My first post about Sam depicted a lovely plant. Fast forward six months, however, and my last post about him is comical. I murdered that poor plant. So I guess I'm so excited about Joanie because she is doing very well!

Can you tell I'm procrastinating homework just a little bit? Rambling on and on about my past and present relationships with my plants..oh boy.

- rl

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A (Surprise!) Weekend at Home!

Last weekend, for the first time ever, I went home during the fall semester! 

It all started this summer when the conversation began about what we should do to celebrate my mom's 50th birthday. We all knew she wanted a surprise party (who doesn't want one??) but we weren't sure how to pull it off or how I could be there. Looking back now, over a week since both those things happened, I'm not sure any of us could tell you. I'm going to attempt to explain it all now, though, for the sake of documentation for us and also to share with those who couldn't be there. AKA, this is a long post. 

First of all, props to my dad and little sister for being able to keep it a secret while living with her! Rumor has it that sometime before that weekend my mom asked my little sister (Brianna) if we were planning anything. Brianna's response? "I don't know. It's not like they would tell me." Hilarious! She definitely knew, but it was an accurate youngest sibling remark nonetheless. The second big thanks goes to my older sister, Jenna, who did most (basically all?!) of the planning for the party, quite a feat! As for me, I just prayed about how I would be able to get there, which ended up being provided by someone whom I love and loves me. Such a gift, to both my mom and I, that we will never forget! 

We all went back and forth on when this would happen before settling on the actual weekend of my mom's birthday. While it would have been fun to surprise her a month beforehand, it was wonderful to be able to spend time with her on the actual day of! As I headed to the airport that Friday afternoon, just a few blocks over from my safe seat on the train was the celebration parade for the Cubs World Series win! In order to throw my mom off, I had a friend of mine, who was standing along the parade route, send me a few pictures of her view. I then sent those to my whole family telling them that I decided to cut class to attend the parade. I quickly texted everyone but my mom that I was a liar who was on her way to the airport. I won't lie, I thought it was a pretty genius way to throw her off. In addition to that, I had made up an event that I told her was happening the next day and even made tentative plans to call and talk with her at some point on her birthday. I also turned off my location on my phone so that she would not be able to see where I was. We used this trick several times throughout the weekend. 

Upon landing, Jenna picked me up from the airport and we headed to the football game! While we regret not planning it out better to where we could have gotten a video of my mom seeing me walk up the bleachers, I won't ever forget the yelling of our names from her, which was a rare sign of excitement (lack of enthusiasm and expressiveness being a quality I got from her). Y'all, she was so pleased. One can never doubt how much a mother loves to see her children after a long time apart. It was so surreal for me to be back in my old high school stadium. I hadn't attended a game since my senior year! (Fun fact: I lettered in football because I was on the varsity team..as a filmer ;)) I finally got to see Brianna in her band uniform. They didn't actually march their show, but you gotta take what you can get!


The next day, which was my mom's actual birthday, was when the real fun began! Long story short, we had a girl's day! We went to a junk show, had lunch, did a little shopping, and finally wine tasting. The day was so beautiful that I can't help but share pictures I took throughout it!:

All of us after the first and most important stop: Starbucks!
Brianna, the official goof. Scarves at Charming Charlies, because who knew a single image could bring me such peace and give me so much inspiration? And bread, the only thing I consumed at the wine tasting! #Moodyproblems #nodrinkinguntilaftergraduation
A mother and all her daughters! What a valuable picture!

Now is a funny part. While at lunch, my dad called my mom and told her that, while at work that afternoon, he was on the bus and went up behind another coworker and jokingly hit the back of their knee, causing them to fall off the bus and get a concussion. It was so hard not to laugh at this because I knew it was a lie covering up my dad's involvement in opening up Wendy's house for the surprise party. She took it in stride, however, and we continued our day, planning on waiting back at the house once we were done to wait on our dad before going out to dinner at one of her favorite places. Once we left the wine tasting, however, Wendy told my mom that we first needed to stop at her house so that she could get my mom's present. 


How cute was her response to a room full of people from all over her life?? This picture makes me want to cry. I viewed the goal of the weekend as to make my mom feel loved and I think this picture shows that this goal was accomplished! The night contained a photobooth with hilarious results, (too briefly!) catching up with both people we have known for years and for shorter periods of time, and finally with sitting around the patio and just chatting after most everyone had left. The only flaw in the party was that we showed up about half an hour after we had planned for, so thank you to everyone who stuck around during that time!!

I swear this girl ended up in half the photobooth pictures!! (;

The next day, Sunday, was spent with family and the dogs. One of my aunts and cousin came up for the party so we went out to lunch and showed them around our area and the many things that are being built. After they left we just hung around the house. We played Mexican Train that night, which is just "our thing". Ah, family. 

            
Compiling pictures for this post brought on one of those moments where I thought to myself, "Wow! How did I take so many pictures of these dogs in such a short amount of time?!" My family got these dogs on the day I left to come back to school this semester, before my flight had even landed! This was my first time to meet them and, while they are quite energetic, a contrast to Mr. Bojangles, I loved them!


Then, bright and early (except not bright..because the night before was "fall back"), Monday morning I hoped on a plane back to Chicago! I got to the airport at 5:15, got through the insane security line by 5:45, and was boarded (with my breakfast compilation from Whataburger, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks!) by 6:15. I got back to campus and immediately showered and unpacked, energetic to tackle my Monday! The fact that all that energy left and I felt physically weak (mainly just hungry!) by my 11am class reminded me that I am human. 

It was an amazing weekend. We could not have asked for a better one. Once again, thank you to everyone who was involved, from the small ones to the big ones! Mom and dad, I will see you again, and for a longer amount of time (!!) in just a few more weeks! 

- rl

Thursday, November 03, 2016

My World Series Experience


Pictured above is my experience of the Chicago Cubs World Series!

The first two pictures, which were taken at Wrigley Field, are from last Friday, the night of the third game of the series. A small group of us had gone out to celebrate a birthday (insert confetti and salsa dancing emojis here) and, while passing the stadium on the way back, decided to stop off and walk around! Thankfully, we went in the middle of the game (around the sixth inning, as you can see) so it was pretty tame. There were a lot of police officers, so we felt very safe. The streets were pretty empty, most people crowded around the windows of bars, trying to get a glimpse of the screens with the game on. We wanted to go back either Saturday or Sunday night (the other two nights the games were played here in Chicago), but it just didn't work out with homework, etc.

Then, last night, the night that they won (!) I watched the game with just a few others on campus. Once that final out happened and we knew the Cubs had won campus went wild. The last picture is one I took from the stairwell of how many people were out in the plaza. Students were out there - the plaza and the streets beyond! - for several hours. I ended up staying in, observing some of the honking and hollering on the streets from the top bunk with my knitting while listening to an artist I discovered on Spotify (Sons of Korah - they put psalms to music!) which is about the most Rachel thing I could ever do. (;

These games brought up several interesting thoughts with friends, ranging from how cool it is to be here when they (finally!) won again, to the pointlessness of all this and the ridiculous amount of money that went into it. I can see both sides of the spectrum, but lean towards the latter. Every time I think of how "cool" it was to be here - to experience the hours of noise following the end of the game and the unity of the city - I immediately think of how prideful and insignificant it really is. Don't get me wrong, I would love a shirt that says something along the lines of "I Was in Chicago When the Cubs Won the World Series", but I could only wear it with the knowledge that I bought it just to show off how cool I am. That's my conviction about it all. It is a cool experience and something to talk about, but it's also just a silly game in which we pay people way too much money to entertain us. (:

- rl

Monday, October 24, 2016

Chicago Riverwalk


Another Sunday afternoon spent in the city. Ok, so this Sunday was not nearly as exciting (or extended) as the adventures of last Sunday, but it still included a new experience! This past weekend was the opening of one of the final parts of the Chicago Riverwalk Renovation.

When I think of a riverwalk I think of the one in San Antonio. The San Antonio Riverwalk is a site (sight??) to see! There are shops and restaurants right on the riverfront and it goes on for miles (or at least it feels like it). This Chicago Riverwalk is nothing like that...at least not yet. There are a few restaurants on the north side of the river and it only extends about half a mile, from what I can tell.

This outing was with a few good friends. Just a quick walk down to it with a stop at Trader Joe's on the way back. Oh, how I love being able to say that. I have yet to stop feeling thankful to God for this time in the city. To live in such an urban an environment for this time of my life is incredible. Particularly for me because I love getting to know where things are and how to get to them.

It's funny - a lot of my friends are stressing out this week over all that they have to do, and, while I do have a little less than they, I have had a lot of peace. I've been finishing assignments at a reasonable pace, not getting caught up in the stress. This is not unusual for me at the midway point of the semester. The craziness hasn't really slowed down, yet I have a much better handle on how classes are and what they require. I have developed a deeper interest in what I am studying, therefore making assignments easier because I am (at least a little bit) excited to complete them. Praise the Lord!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to start brainstorming what my next sermon will be on for my preaching class...

- rl

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Open House Chicago


This afternoon we ditched homework and went out for an annual Chicago event - Open House Chicago! I remember seeing the advertisements for this event my freshman year and yet today was the first time I actually got out there! And, believe it or not, we didn't end up at any homes. However, we did run around to a few really unique locations (the Lake Point Tower garden, Columbia Yacht Club, and Blackstone Renaissance Hotel Suite of Presidents - one which we literally ran to get to before it closed!) that would not have been possible without this event! These are just a few pictures from the afternoon. There were so many shots I wish I could have gotten, but our time crunch and a decent amount of other people present prevented me from doing so.

This post is yet another attempt to get back into blogging. I have recently been encouraged by some loved ones to start blogging again, so we'll see how this goes!

- rl