Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day to the best dad!  I am sad I couldn't be with you today to celebrate but am glad you were able to be with our family and with your two granddaughters!  Thanks for being such a wonderful dad and someone I am always told I'm so much like...even though you don't like it that someone "gets you" I am just like you in many many ways!  Love you so much and see you later this week!

Kaitlyn Grace is here!

My niece was born yesterday!  She was born at 6:53 in the evening yesterday, 7 lbs, 15 oz and 21 in long.   I absolutely love her name, Kaitlyn Grace. I am so excited to meet her on Friday when we're back in Chicago for my graduation.  I don't have any pics to post yet but will be sure to get plenty when I meet her!  A huge congratulations to my brother and sister-in-law, always praying for your and your beautiful now family of four!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Finding a Job...and Friends

It's been a tough couple months looking and interviewing for jobs.  I decided while student teaching that I am  applying for teacher aide position so I can shadow a (hopefully!) "good" teacher for a year.  I've been applying for teaching jobs as well as I think I'm qualified but am trying to be realistic about the teaching job opportunities out there.

I've applied for 96 jobs the past few months (yes, I literally just went in and counted them all!) and have had approximately 8 interviews, with all being for an aide position and one teaching position. They've been scattered throughout 3 different districts. (The districts here are HUGE compared to IL, except the obvious CPS.)

It was really nice having my mom here one week and then our trip to Vegas.  A little get-away to not have to worry about trying to land a job or figure out what I'll do with the rest of my summer without a job or friends. But the couple weeks leading up to and then following have been pretty hard.

I've been so up and down in my emotions.  Being turned down for job after job really takes a toll on you.  After analyzing the situation a hundred times in my head like I like to do, I realized I haven't  been employed since 2009 and the last job I had I was laid off from, so that was a pretty big hit to my ego and self-worth as it was. Not to mention that I spent 9 months applying for jobs after the lay-off (and about 6 months prior to that) so when you add up all the rejection I've had over the last many years it makes a lot more sense.  This isn't just about trying to land a job in a whole new career.

Plus you add to that that I'm in a new town where I pretty much know no one.  I am also starting to get pretty lonely.  A job wouldn't make the loneliness go away but it would certainly help me with my need for community and a chance to socialize with people.  I am such a social being...I thrive on human interaction. I can't sit a day at home without being around people. I need people around me, often and a lot...and to be fully engaged with them.  Quality time, as I like to call it.

A little over a week ago I was driving home from an interview that I didn't really feel went very well and just started crying.  I know I have been brought to Colorado for some reason so why has it been so hard?!  But then it dawned on me that it's only been two months.  While I feel like I've been unemployed for about 3 1/2 years, the reality is that I just finished student teaching less than three months ago. Not to mention that I have had to figure out all the different districts here and apply. (which for any teacher or anyone applying to a school knows how long the process is). I know that God has something great waiting for me.  I know I need to wait on Him and am learning from each interview I go to how I can do better. I can already look back at some of the ones I've been on and know they weren't where I should be teaching or what I feel I have been called to.  I have faith that He will show me where He wants me...maybe it won't even be in a school setting? Maybe this time is just about me (still) needing to learn to wait on Him?  Maybe I am not finding a job or meeting anyone here because I still have a long way to go when it comes to only having Him and Jason to talk to these days? Whatever reason it is, I know I need to keep believing and myself and God.  And I am...I just wish it would be a tiny bit easier. I wish I could meet just a few friends or had a couple people reach out to me.  I realized that what I have been praying for with the job though He has been answering.  He has given me so much hope with the number of interviews.  It seems that when I am really down and praying about another rejection the phone will ring within the day to set up another interview. So I need to keep that feeling of hope deep deep inside of me.

Sorry for the downer post...I promised many I'd be honest about my transition here and because of my sad mood I haven't wanted to write.  I know with anything in life, it just takes one moment for things to completely switch around.  Just one phone call from an interview offering me a job or one encounter at church or the grocery store (do people meet at the grocery store?!) who knows where I might meet for now I'll be praying for just that...a moment. Like I used to say when I was laid off back in the day.  "Be joyful in Hope!"  He's got this and I can and need to take comfort in that alone.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekend Update

This weekend was a busy one.  Friday night we spend the evening moving all our stuff from storage into our garage.  It didn't take nearly as long as I would have thought but I am so sick of moving stuff and seeing any moving trucks or trailers!  I feel like we're keeping Budget and U-Haul in business all on our own. I am glad to have that done and not have to think about it (hopefully) until we move into a house!

Saturday we had planned on having a low-key day and then hitting up the local street fest in Parker but my friend, Jodi texted me first thing Saturday morning asking if we wanted tickets to Red Rocks.  We were so excited!  Jason told me he'd even been praying about the possibilty of free tickets to Red Rocks.  It was definitely on our list of "things to do" this summer and the sooner the better but we're trying to get our finances in a good place so we can buy soon (We're attending Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University...more on that later!) so we haven't bought any tickets yet.

We decided to go to Cherry Creek Dog Park so Cooper could swim and wear himself out and then packed and got ready for Red Rocks.  Woo hoo!  We got there really early so we could tailgate.  We brought a grill so we could grill our brats, had some chips and salsa and a few Summer Shandy.  Oh summer has begun!!

After some tailgating we went in for the show which was Big Head Todd and the Monsters with Barenaked Ladies opening.  I was beyond thrilled to see BNL. I have seen them in concert a few times in Chicago and used to be a huge fan.  I was actually considering getting tickets to this particular show just for them but wanted to wait with the cost of the tickets for a headlining band rather than opener.  Anyway, they were so good! They sang so many great songs and I had my own little sing-a-long.  The views were amazing as were the acoustics!  I'm pretty sure we both lost about 5 pounds just going to the bathroom each time with all the stairs.  It's no wonder people in Colorado are in good shape.  They make you hike a mile and all uphill just to get to the venue and then up and down a million stairs just to go to the bathroom.  I was huffing and puffing like a typical tourist/new CO resident. :)

We had so much fun, so very thankful for the tickets so we were able to experience Red Rocks sooner than we thought we'd be able to.  It was just what I needed this weekend!!! I can't wait to go back!

Cooper loving the water!

Our new dog park...hopefully soon-to-be off leash running park for me and Coop!  There are mountains in the background and really this pic doesn't show it but it's so open and beautiful and allows dogs off-leash and if I can get myself to wake up early just once to get a morning run in, I'd be happy! :)  This park is Coopers idea of Doggie Heaven if he had any idea of what that meant!

Almost there!

Tailgating...Colorado style :)

Summer is here...need I say more!?

I pay him to pose with me :)

I love our new camera with our panoramic views!!! This doesn't quire capture our view, but it'll do!! You get the idea!!! 

Tailgating at Red Rocks!

Barenaked Ladies did not disappoint!

Oh Red are AMAZING!

So I have some really fun video from Bnl but I can't get it to download and my extra tech-savvy husband is traveling so once he's back in town maybe I can add it??  Such a fun night!  Super thankful we got to experience such an amazing venue, especially with one of my favorites!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New Camera!!!

Jason surprised me today with a new camera!  A couple weeks ago he showed me one that he could get with his hotel points but never told me he ordered it.  When I came home today after volunteering he told me my graduation present had come and threw a box at me.  I opened this!

YAY!  I so wanted this! We got a SLR for our wedding which we use all the time but there are some places you can't take that big of a camera so this is perfect! Thanks Jason!  Let the photo opps begin!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Week 7 Weigh In

I am soooo proud to say I have lost 10 pounds since starting Weight Watchers 7 weeks ago. :)  And that is after a trip to Vegas in the middle of the last week!  Woo hoooo I am so happy.  I'm no where near swim suit ready but at least my clothes are starting to fit again.  Love a diet that works while I can still enjoy my favorite foods and beverages. ;-)

Oh ankle is SOOOO much better!  I really hope it's forever, but the cortisone shot seems to have worked which means I can start working out again.  Run, bike, hike, swim, walk...I'm ready!!

Colorado - How I Love Thee

We've lived in Colorado now for just a little over 2 months and while living here, I've realized there are many differences from living in Illinois.  Some are probably a lot more different because I moved from a big city to the suburbs and others are differences of states or the climate or what have you...but there are many differences so I thought I'd compile a fun little list to keep track of.  I may or may not be updating this list as the year continues.
  • It's a desert sand rather than dirt.  (this was literally the first thing I noticed)
  • There's lots and lots of little mini cacti everywhere...they grow in the middle of nowhere!
  • When driving, the right lane always ends.  I've just learned to always stay in the middle or left lane so I am not causing any wrecks at the last second when I need to get over.  
  • On that...the right turn lane usually has a yielding lane to turn into, but it's super short.  So even when turning, you're expected to hit 55 mph in .05 seconds. Not sure who designed the roads here but it doesn't take a genius to figure out the dangers in that one!
  • Sunglasses are not just a fashion accessory here.  They are a requirement. (and I LOVE IT!)
  • Coyotes are in our backyard! (our backyard is really an open park...not literally our backyard). We hear them almost every night in the park behind our apartment.  Which actually when in the safety of our own bedroom it's actually really cool!
  • Bring a jacket everywhere you go, even if it's 90 degrees and sunny when you leave. You'll need at some point before you return home.
  • Sunscreen is a must at all times. I've learned the hard way...twice!
  • Moths are in mass amounts here and they're really big.
  • NBC is messed up.  The Today Show is crazy...showing the wrong shows at the wrong time (according to me and what I'm used to back home) and Ellen is on at the same time as Nate Berkus.  For a girl who doesn't watch a lot of TV I'm having a hard time adjusting.  NBC, get it right!
  • The weather is crazy.  Sun one minute, rain the next, but then sun the next...all in about 3 minutes time
  • I've found my car shifting in ways I've never felt it shift in my almost 7 years of owning it.  It is sooooo hilly here! 
  • Random animals appear out of nowhere at the most random places. It's crazy and fun. I could be driving down a residential suburban road and look to my left and see buffalo grazing. Or driving down the extressway and look over to see a bull running and bucking through the fields. (this one almost caused me to drive off the road)  There are horses everywhere.  Alpaca's, elk, deer. The deer are everywhere. In yards, on sides of streets.  Crossing streets.  Everywhere.  
  • Everyone here drives really really slow.  On what I could call a country road open for miles and miles where it's 55 or 65 mph in IL it'll be 40mph and people here go 40 mph...or even 30 mph.  Open road!!  Are you kidding?!  I have places to be!
  • To explain that last point...the fines and penalties for a speeding ticket are much higher than in IL... fortunately I didn't learn this the hard way but through a friend who did so I am now one of those who are driving the speed limit all the time too. And I still have places to be...just at a much slower pace.
  • There are so many snakes here.  I've encountered about 5 up close since I moved here and many more from a distance.  I haven't seen a rattle snake and really hope never to but know it's just a matter of time.
  • There's a dance radio station here. I don't know why I find that funny, but I do. 
  • Everything explodes in your face when opened.  Mascara and lotions are especially prone to this.  Chips and other food items are also effected so when packing a lunch there's a lot less room!
  • Speed limit on many (if not most) highways is 75 MPH.  While I thought this was cool when driving down straight roads, I have realized how dangerous it is on hilly and windy roads with big trucks.  That's just the worrier Stephanie coming out though.
  • I've found two country radio stations!  WOO HOOO
  • I've also found two Christian stations!  Another woohooooo!
  • On the Christian thing...there's a lot of those here too.  And a lot of churches.  Just when we think we've tried them all, we find another to try.
  • The spiders are super speedy here.  Me not being a fan of spiders is very easily creeped out by this.  
  • There's prairie dogs everywhere.  Everywhere. I think they're super cute.  Cooper just wants to chase and/or eat every one of them.
  • We have to think/prepare for Mountain lions and bears here.  (I'm not talking about here in the burbs but in the mountains.)
  • It is SO dry here.  My heals are literally cracking. I now understand why a cracked heal lotion exists.    I will be making a purchase very soon.
  • Because of the dryness my contacts hurt pretty much all the time now.  I did buy a new brand which has solved all the problems I was having in IL but eye drops have become my best friend since we moved.
  • Its hard to find a McDonalds here.  They do exist but they're not on every other street corner.  Did I mention how much more healthy/fit everyone is here?  I think these two may be linked! :)
  • They play Justin Bieber on the radio.  And this girl likes it! :)
  • There really aren't too many Colorado natives around.  But when you do find one they are oh soooo very proud to let you know.  To the point that they put CO Native bumper stickers on their car.  That proud. 
  • We're an hour later than all you folks in IL (or two from the east coast!)...and that hour really makes a big difference.  I see posts on Facebook about my favorite TV shows and what I have missed before I even get the chance to see it.  AND I get texts way too early in the morning (usually on Saturday mornings..hint hint to all of you reading this!) from some of my favorite people...and find myself sitting down to return calls to some of those same people but realizing its too late.  That one little hour makes a much bigger difference than I'd have ever thought! 
  • U-Turns are legal. At least that is what I think. I am not really 100% on this one but everyone does them which means so do I! There is such a freedom is making U-Turns, isn't there!?  Plus they just feel rebellious and fun to do.  
  • You can't buy liquor at the grocery actually have to go to the liquor store...which closes at 10:00.  I won't go into much detail about this one except that whoever thought of this idea wasn't thinking of me and my love for wine when they made that law! :) (maybe this goes along with the healthier lifestyle choices of Coloradoans?)
  • I've seen more rainbows here in two months than I have my entire life in Chicago.  
  • The street names here are the same as 900 different towns.  If I have found a Fremont St on this block, you'll certainly find it in the next subdivision over but instead of Street it'll be Road or parkway or Circle or whatever
  • On that note, Google maps hasn't visited this area yet.  Everything is too new so addresses and major streets don't show up.  
  • Dryness means dusty dusty....which means I constantly have a dirty car which is a huge pet peeve of mine.  Thankful that the car wash packages here are about 1/4 of what they cost in Chicago.  Now if I could just hire a cleaning lady to clean my dusty furniture inside the house with open windows and I'd be set!. ;-)
  • As I said, the weather pretty much changes every other minute.  It really is true what Coloradoans say, "If you don't like the weather IN Colorado, wait a minute."  But what is so cool is that you can always see when it's coming in.  You can tell from miles and miles away when the rain is coming and from what direction.
Colorado has been a lot of fun...these changes have shocked me in some ways.  It's still the states so it's amazing to me how different it is from Illinois but I've loved noticing all the differences!  Not to mention all the outdoor activities we've been able to experience because of the amazing climate, weather and terrain! Love you Colorado!  Really love all the changes your have brought into my life! :)  I'm exited to see what else this crazy weathered state has in store for me. :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Jason's family decided to go to Vegas for Jason's mom's 60th birthday this year.  We got our tickets back in December and things have been a little busy with student teaching, packing, moving, trying to find a job and everything else that this trip really snuck up on us.  I really hadn't given much thought to it until the day we were leaving.

We left really late on Memorial Day so didn't arrive in Vegas until almost midnight and were pretty tired so we called it a night when we got there.  But the rest of the trip was so much fun!  I haven't been to Vegas since I was 16 and to be honest I wasn't overly excited about going back.  I have a lot of places on my list of where I'd like to go before hitting up Las Vegas but I was very wrong, we had so much fun!  We hit up most of the hotels and shops.  We had dinner at Todd English's Olives which overlooks the Bellagio Fountains one night.  We had lunch at Paris Hotel one day and heard the dueling pianos at New York New York one evening. We got a deal on our airfare and hotel which included tickets to the Viva Elvis! (Cirque Du Soleiu) which was so much better than I'd have thought! We spent our last few hours on Thursday at our hotel pool (Monte Carlo) which had a lazy relaxing!  Jason and I had a little more time than the rest of the family so I dragged him to the Titanic: Artifact Exhibition, which was really good, I highly recommend it.  We walked and walked and my ankle was soooo good to me after I got the cortisone shot last week! While we didn't gamble while on the strip we both hit the slots at the airport.  I am proud to say I won $5 (not too bad when I only allowed myself $10 to spend!)

I begged Jason to let us stay an extra day but I didn't get my way. I could have used a full day or two at the pool and still felt like I had a lot to see eat and drink; including having a glass of wine at The Cosmopolitan which was one of my favorite hotels.  I guess we'll just have to go back again! :)

love :)


happy happy when the sun is shining on me!


Bellagio Garden -- Beautiful

Very impressed with this show! (and I really really don't like Elvis!)

Jason's mom and her husband, Mark. Blurry...We don't have a small camera and my iPhone wouldn't take many good pics! hopefully we can get a few from Jason's brother.  He took most of the pics on the trip!

This was right after he was done winking at me..I was a little creeped out :)

At the Cosmopolitan...I loved loved loved all the glitz and glam!

Waiting for dinner...they messed up our reservation so we had to wait almost an hour but we got a free glass of wine and beer out of it.  Free wine and extra time for people watching...fine by me!

Dinner night two

Great time with Jason's family...cannot wait to go back!