Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Day at Waterfall Glen

Today was a fun day. Graham made plans for us to ride the bike trails at Waterfall Glen in Southeast Dupage County. It's a really pretty bike trail, and it's one we haven't done before. It surrounds Argonne National Laboratory, and it's nearly a 12 mile loop, so it's a good workout.

We took some photos today, so here's a roundup of our morning/early afternoon.



The Chicago Park District hasn't mowed the park behind our apartment in quite a while. It's possible that it's due to budget cuts, but thanks to all the rain recently it's looking more like a prairie and less like a park.

Some tadpoles we found in a puddle on the side of the trail. This was right before we rode through a deep puddle.

Some (what we think are) geese in the pond on the side of the trail.

The deep puddle we rode through.

This is a warning sign put up by the forest preserve people. There's a large flat area where model aircraft enthusiasts can fly their planes.

Some of the aforementioned model aircraft enthusiasts.

A large model aircraft flown by a model aircraft enthusiast.

A scenic overlook off the trail. We could hear the waterfall, but we couldn't actually see it from the overlook. It was also blocked off by large orange hazard fencing.

Us after our bike ride. We were tired, sweaty, and sunscreeny.

All in all, it was a good day. The ride to Waterfall Glen isn't far at all. It took maybe 3o minutes from our apartment, and it's really, really pretty. The trail was really crowded--I knew the place was popular, but sheesh! Lots of walkers, bikers, and parents with babies in strollers. It was a BEAUTIFUL day for our first visit to Waterfall Glen, and I hope that the next time we're able to go is half as nice as it was today.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Garden...

...is getting out of control! I love it! After 6 straight days of rain, we've finally got some sun, and the plants are lovin' it. I'll post pics this weekend, but let's just say that the tomatoes are diggin' it and my herbs are...getting there?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

R.I.P.

This afternoon we said goodbye to our beta fish, Prince. He'd been sick for at least 2 weeks, but probably more. We started noticing that he wasn't eating, or even swimming around anymore. He was alive, but just....laying or resting.

We bought some fishy antibiotics to treat him but they really seemed to have no affect on him whatsoever. I noticed yesterday that he'd turned colors. He was initially a dark blue, but yesterday he was looking pale--seriously. He'd taken on a whiteish tinge. By this afternoon he was dead.

I feel so bad that he got sick and that we didn't notice it sooner. However, I'm glad that he's out of his misery. It was clear that he was really sick. It got to the point yesterday that we were actually considering humane ways to end his life. My friend Jessica suggested putting him in the freezer and he'd just fall asleep over flushing him while he was techinically still alive. I'm glad it didn't come to that--I'd feel horrible if we placed him in the freezer, I think. Even if it's technically humane, I couldn't sit here and know that he was dying a room away from me.

I'm sad that we "lost" him so early; we'd only had him a year. We had Sharkbait around 3 years (well, Graham did) and we expected to have Prince just as long. Oh well. It's sad, but it's better than losing a pet that we could hold and pet and lay with, I think. It's a little easier to disconnect when it's a fish in a plastic tank rather than a dog or cat. Once we clean the tank and run it for a few days, we'll replace it with another fish, probably another beta. We can't stand to be "alone" for too long. We definitely enjoy having fish (Graham probably more than I do) and I enjoy learning more about them and caring for them with each fish we get.

Gosh...since we've been married we've gone through 4 fish. We've had a total of 10 if you count the ones in the big tank! My sister-in-law said to me last week, "Fish didn't seem to die so often until you came around!" Gee thanks, Mary. I guess that's partially true. However, I'm certainly not doing anything intentionally. I guess I'm just bad luck?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Exhausted, but otherwise satisfied

So much happened this weekend, but it was a good, good time. I'll do my best to update, but I'm exhausted and starting to forget details, but Graham or Nikki can fill in where I missed something.

Essentially, it all starts months ago when we were invited to a Memorial Day weekend wedding. We declined the invite since we initally had plans and decided we'd save money on a hotel room and gas by not going. Fast-forward to a few weeks ago! My friends Nikki and Jason made plans to drive up to Illinois from Orlando to visit Nikki's mom, sister, and brothers. Once plans were finalized, Nikki's sister Megan sent me a facebook message. I guess she sat down with her mom (who is pretty much like MY mom) and they thought it would be a great surprise if Graham and I could make it down. I told her we'd try and I'd let her know. Graham and I talked about it and decided that we could swing it, especially since I had Friday off and we both had Monday off.

Friday was a busy, crazy day. I basically ran around taking care of all the errands I normally do over the entire weekend, and I packed and planted more herbs for the garden. We left Chicago (but not before dropping off a set of keys with dad-in-law for the weekend) and had what was ultimately an uneventful ride down, aside from an hour-long backup on I-55 that was NOT related to Memorial Day weekend traffic or construction, but a bad one car accident on the highway. We got into Jacksonville around 10:00 p.m., got some McD's and checked in. Since there was still time, we decided to drive to MacMurray College, my alma mater, to visit with Brian and Robyn.

It was a fun night visiting with them! We got to hear some of the wedding music they picked out AND we got our wedding invitation! I opened the invite, read it, awed, and promptly signed and returned our response card. I told Robyn, "Trust me, you'll thank me for this later." That was the one wedding-related task I hated: calling the missing RSVPs. Before I got married, I used to think I was pretty good in turning around wedding response cards, but ever since I had to call so many people (some multiple times) to confirm if they were coming to our wedding, I DO NOT wait on those things. The response cards go out the day after we get the invitation, if not the day of. I don't want to make someone else wait in the same way I did.

Saturday was the BIG DAY. We were all ready to surprise Nikki and Jason early on, but I called Nikki's mom, Cynde, and we confirmed for 1:00. Megan told me I could "barge on in" when we arrived, and I rather liked that idea. I'm very bargy. :-) I called Cynde just to make sure we were cool, and Graham parked the car around the corner and we just walked on in! I shouted something along the lines of, "What up, dudes?" but I can't really remember. Nikki's response? "What the frig?" Glorious! I was really excited that she just ran right up to me and hugged me; I was worried things would be awkward. We had a fun afternoon with them. We caught up, went to Dairy Queen, and ultimately just had a good time reconnecting. We haven't seen Nikki and Jason since our wedding, and unfortunately Orlando and Chicago aren't very close together. We even sat down and played a game of Scrabble together. Too bad no one told me Jason's a viking at Scrabble. I placed 3rd, which I wasn't happy about, but at least I know I have plenty of time to practice for the next time I play against Jason.

Saturday night we met up with Nikki's family--niece included--at Steak n' Shake for dinner, and after that Graham and I just hung out and enjoyed the weekend.

On Sunday we met up with Brian and Robyn for brunch. They attended a wedding on Saturday (the same one we initially declined) and were able to tell us stories about the wedding. We went back to Brian's apartment and played what had to be the longest game of Trivial Pursuit ever. We accidentally missed the cookout with Nikki's family because we both swore it was at 4:00 but apparently it was at 1:00. We're terrible. (We're still really sorry, Cynde!!!!)

Sunday night we had dinnier at Leo's with Brian and Robyn, and afterwards Graham and I drove to Springfield/Chatham to play some putt-putt at Knight's Action Park. We both played terribly, but somehow I won by 3 strokes. Terrible! We're normally pretty good at mini-golf! It was fun to play together; I haven't been there since Nikki's bachelorette party in 2007, and Graham hadn't been there since....? 2004? Maybe? It was good to refresh our memories and actually go on a date.

After mini-golf we drove back to Jacksonville and made late night plans with Nikki and Jason. They went to see a movie with Nikki's family, and we had planned to meet at Steak n' Shake for milkshakes but instead found that it closes way early on Sundays, along with everything else in that town! LAME. We found the McD's drive-in and took our drinks back to the good old Super 8 (our home away from home) to talk. We're good talkers, man, because we didn't get to sleep until 2:00 A.M. when they left! Crazy.

Today was busy...we slept in because we were up way past our bedtimes (we're closeted old people) and we had to pack (not hard), check out, get gas, and get on outta Dodge so we could make it back up to Chicago before Mary went away to camp for the summer. We made it in pretty good time, but we were really frustrated by all the sudden braking on the highway by cars that were going just a little too fast and suddenly had to hit the breaks because they saw a state trooper car. That was probably more frustrating than anything else. Thankfully, we made it home safely and we were able to chill, unpack, and relax a bit before going over to Graham's parents for dinner and to say goodbye to Mary.

Now...we're home and we're supposed to be getting ready for work this week (clearly I'm otherwise occupied). God Bless Memorial Day! We have a much-needed short week this week, Graham especially. He hasn't had any time off since his spring break, which is a long, long time in teacher world.

This coming weekend, our friend Liz is flying in from Hawaii and visiting Illinois for about a week. Liz was the reason we went to Hawaii in December in the first place, so it'll be good to see her on this side of the Pacific. :-) Hopefully we'll have some pictures of the weekend to share!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Birthday Photos

I didn't meant to wait so long on posting photos, but life just got in the way. Anyway, the photos are still timely. My birthday was only a week ago today, man.

Graham knows I love getting flowers, so he surprised me with a bouquet of my very favorite flowers.


He also got me a mix of daisies, carnations, and orchids! They're gorgeous and still doing remarkably well a week later.



This is my birthday cake. I told him he could just pick up a boxed cake from the freezer section at the Jewel, but he wanted to stand out just a bit this year. This was the first birthday he'd planned for me in all the years we've been together.


Obligatory photo of me standing with my flowers and cake.


Obligatory "blowing out the candles" photo.


Overall, it was a great birthday. It was nice to spend the day together. Next year it's going to be a Monday, and part of me wants us both to take the entire day off work. We'll see. Since I'll be "pushing 30" in Grahamspeak, maybe I'll be depressed enough to stay home and watch Maury? We shall see.

Today we went for a nice long bike ride in Willow Springs, along the I & M Canal and Centennial trails. I've been riding my bike to work and back for weeks, but each time we wanted to go for a bike ride something happened and we weren't able to go. It was great to finally get out and ride together.

Coming up on Memorial Day weekend...we're both looking forward to the long weekend. It's been far too long since we spent a long weekend together. Hopefully we'll get plenty of lounging and relaxing in!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me....

Photos will be coming soon, but I thought I'd throw out a quick update about my birthday since it was a "big one" (for me, at least).

We met my parents for church in the morning in the same church where we got married. My mom wanted to go to lunch at Wildfire, but they made reservations for the restaurant in Schaumburg instead of Oakbrook (yuck). Oh well...at least the drive up there was nice! Wildfire wasn't my choice, but I'm glad we went because I love the creamed spinach there. YUM.

When we got home, Graham and I both worked on stuff for school, which was kind of annoying to tackle on my birthday, but it's the tradeoff for choosing to go into work on Monday. It wasn't too much work, and we were able to get in a quick walk before driving over to visit my in-laws.

I had a good birthday. My parents gave me tickets to see Mary Poppins downtown, my sister gave me a new watch, and my in-laws gave me a gift card to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I'm not sure what I'll get with that...so many possibilities! ;-)

It was nice to spend time with everyone yesterday since it's not often we get to see both families in one weekend. I'm looking forward to my official birthday date with Graham later this week since the weekend was too busy to fit it in.

Now, it's my first full day of 25...weird. No turning back and repeating my early 20s, huh?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Waging War

For Christmas, I gave Graham a trebuchet he could put together with wood glue and a little bit of time. He and some good friends used to joke around about constructing a trebuchet so they could fling objects at other people and buildings. When I saw the trebuchet kit online, I couldn't resist. When he saw the trebuchet, he couldn't believe it. Now he could finally fling objects at whoever he wanted! Now, when we talk about waging war, we're only half kidding. The kid above us is quite loud and someone up there is always playing club music loud and until late at night. As for the family below us, they're loud as well and someone gave the kids down there cap guns so now they're always outside shooting at one another. If it ever gets really bad here, this is how we're fighting back.

Here are some pictures of Graham and his trebuchet in action.

Graham with his completed trebuchet.


Close up of the completed trebuchet.


Graham prepares to launch his trebuchet for the first time.


There it goes!


The trebuchet launched a wooden ball all the way to the end of the hall!


Reloading.


Preparing another attack on our hardwood floors.



If you look carefully, on the right side of the photo above the silver photo frame, you can see a wooden ball flying through the air on its way to attack the cow and vaccuum cleaner at the end of the hall.

As you can see, it was an eventful evening. We both got a few turns pulling the trigger and waging an imaginary war on the people below us. It was pretty entertaining. Right now, the trebuchet is stashed away in the library/office and is awaiting a call to duty. We're pretty convinced that if we set it up on the balcony we could easily launch a wooden ball across the "gangway" onto the balcony across the way. That would be ideal, as we're pretty certain that the people directly across from us complete with us each year at Christmas for the best decorations on the block.

Up next...a birthday update! One of us has a birthday coming up, so I'm sure there will be picture updates.