Thursday, September 29, 2011

Leaving World Relief and the Many 'What Ifs' in Life

(A picture from a field trip last year to Garfield Park Conservatory.)

It has been a few weeks now since my last day at World Relief but I still thought I should document it. All-in-all, I had a great experience working at World Relief...I learned a lot, I did a lot and I met a lot of great people along the way. And although it wasn't extremely long, I am thankful for my time there.

I had an interesting last week as it was the first week of After School Program and that kept me pretty busy. Among all the other tasks, my last responsibility was to drive all the kids home after programming. I was looking forward to it as it was my last time with the kids and a good chance to say goodbye. So the drop-offs were going well, I was having some good conversations, the kids were being really sweet and I was busy reflecting on my time when all of a of the kids threw up in the van! So then all the other kids starting freaking out, screaming and gagging which was quite the scene (and made me laugh a little). It had never happened before in all of my hours spent with kids in the van so I thought it was ironic that the absolute last thing I did was some serious cleaning.

But the circumstances just made me keep going to back to the 'what ifs' of it all. We were only about 30 seconds away from his apartment when it happened, only 30 seconds! So I'm thinking what if we had left just a bit earlier? Or what if I hadn't driven past one of the kids' apartments on accident which made me loop around and waste precious time? Or what if I had chosen to take that kid home first like I had originally planned on? Well, I guess the answer is that if one of these 'what ifs' had been reality then the dirty deed would have happened somewhere other than the van, which would have been great, and I would have never known that I had been spared from the clean-up...which makes me wonder... many times am I spared from something that I am unaware of? It's interesting if you really think about it (and some of you may disagree and say that if something never happened then it was never going to happen so it's not worth thinking about). But thinking about it made me appreciative of all the little unknown events or annoyances that I may have been spared from and never even knew about. I guess it's kind of a weird backwards way to be thankful but I was thankful none the less.

So it was an unexpected way to end my last day at World Relief but at the same time it was very fitting since every day there was filled with the unexpected.

"Finger" painting during After School Program at World Relief...the kids turned it into full hand and arm painting.

Last week I started my new job as director of the Parenting ProGRESS program at Ravenswood Covenant Church. The program serves to provide support in various ways to teenage parents whose children are enrolled in the day care at Ravenswood. I am also subbing in the day care for now (before the baby arrives). Things are going well so far, I have a lot to learn but I think I will really enjoy it!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Celebrating Five Years

A few weeks ago we celebrated our fifth anniversary. It seems like every year we say, "Wow! I can't believe it has been ____ years!" And it felt like that even more this year but I guess that it is the way time works. Looking back, we decided that it has been a wonderful 5 years (not that that was really in question). We have had some great and interesting life experiences together and those experiences just wouldn't have been the same without each other. I guess that is one of the things I love most about get to hang out and experience everything with your best friend.

Some of you know that we have an anniversary tradition of breaking a glass each year. This started when I accidentally broke a glass on our first anniversary and it has continued on. That first year I became a little obsessed with starting a tradition on our anniversary so weeks before I kept thinking and thinking and came up with nothing. Well, right before going to dinner I had an idea...maybe every year we could drink coffee out of some special glasses that we bought on our honeymoon. I know, a little stupid but it was down to the wire. So as I'm pouring steaming hot coffee into our beautiful Mexican hand-blown shattered all over the counter. The tradition changed to breaking a glass instead.

This was the winner (or loser) this year. And after 4 years of breaking one of our actual glasses, this year I opted out for a thrift store purchase...a bit more practical.

Recently I was walking through North Park and realized that I had never taken a picture of the staircase where we got engaged. Well, here it is. It is a staircase by a river path and it was a special spot for us in college...a place where we would go to talk, reflect, pray and figure out our lives so it was a fitting place to begin the whole journey. I'm also pretty sure it is a special hangout for nearby high school students but for sketchier reasons.

I think these are the actual steps where it all went down.

And the path leading back to campus.

It was great to look back on these past five years. I feel lucky to have such a wonderful husband and a marriage that is growing, deepening and gets better with each year. Here's to another great 5 (okay, maybe a few more than that!) Love you Matt!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cream Topped Shortbread Cookies

Lately I noticed that Matt has been eating straight up peanut butter with chocolate chips as a snack. I know he has a habit of having a sweet snack at night but I thought this one was a little weird...until I tried it. So simple but so good. It reminded me of those chocolate and peanut butter girl scout cookies. So then I thought...I want to make a cookies like that! Once I said that, Matt did not let it go until I actually made them.

I started with a basic shortbread recipe then made my own version of a creamy peanut butter layer and topped with melted chocolate chips. They turned out delicious and decadent and most importantly, Matt approves (he supplied the inspiration after all). He likes them so much that he actually counted how many I made so that he could pace himself in eating them.

The Recipe:
Shortbread part adapted from

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar (plus 2 more for peanut butter cream)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 sticks room temp. unsalted butter (plus 1 tablespoon for peanut butter cream)
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

The Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Beat butter, sugar (the 1/2 cup plus 2 T.) with hand mixer until fluffy. Add vanilla, salt and water and mix to combine.
  3. Add flour and mix just until dough is formed.
  4. Shape dough into a log about 1 1/2 in. wide, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  5. After chilled, cut log into 1/2 in. slices. Place on parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for about 12-15 or until golden around the edges. Allow cookies to cool. (I made indents in the center of each cookies with a spoon before baking. This made it easier for the peanut butter cream to stay on top.)
  6. Mix peanut butter, 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons powered sugar. Spread some of this mixture onto each cookie and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  7. Melt chocolate chips either on the stove or microwave (in the microwave only for about 30-45 seconds). To drizzle chocolate more easily, place melted chocolate into a plastic baggy, cut a small hole in one of the corners and drizzle in any pattern you want. Chill finished cookies for another 30 minutes for chocolate to harden. The cookies are best when kept in the fridge until right before eating.

Spreading the peanut butter cream.

Chocolate drizzling method. If you don't want to use a bag, you can add a little cream to your melted chocolate to thin it out then just use a spoon to drizzle.

Yum! Next time I'll probably come up with a better looking chocolate drizzle. Oh well, they still taste good.

Friday, September 2, 2011

March 3, 2012

So we have some exciting news to share with you! Have you heard? March 3rd, 2012 is an important day.

According to, this will be the next night that Mars will be in opposition to the sun! This means that Mars will rise after sunset and shine high in the sky, it's red-orange color visible to the naked eye. If you miss this one, you'll have to wait again til July 2018.

Oh yeah, and it's also my due date!

Matt and I are excited to say that we are expecting our first baby, woohoo! We are very excited and can't wait to meet our little one. And it is a leap year this year, so we could have a leap day baby.

Of course I had to take a picture of us right after we found out.

Well, maybe a few pictures.

And I know there will be some people out there who are legit excited about the first piece of news about Mars (ahem...Mom)

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