Wednesday, March 25, 2015

30 by 30: The First Month

I thought I made a good bit of progress for just 1 month, but then the thought of only having 11 months left completely overwhelmed me. Things will ramp up as the weather gets warmer, but it was a good reminder that I have to be diligent or time will fly. Here is what I accomplished this month:

#8 Blog every week
So far, so good. I blogged every week this month, and most importantly, I enjoyed it.

a new print above our bar cabinet.
#20 Hang more things on our walls
We hung 2 coat hooks, 1 key rack, and 1 print this past month. Someone should ask Jon about how much he looooooves hanging things on our plaster walls. It's always an adventure, and I know he is thrilled that I have 12 frames on order and 3 vintage maps at the custom frame shop as we speak.

#16 host more dinner parties
I made this one more narrow than I should have. The spirit of the task was to open our home more often to more people for more fellowship. It doesn't always have to be a dinner party per se, but it also can't be regularly scheduled events like church community group. This month, I hosted a girls night (we may or may not have watched clueless while eating peanut butter M&Ms). We also had our friends Robby and Caroline over for Thai takeout and games.

#23 Commit 12 new Bible verses to memory
I memorized 2 Peter 3:8-9. Our pastor has been preaching through 2 Peter over the last several weeks so I picked a verse from that book.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

#4 Learn how to make royal icing
A sweet friend and fellow baker invited me over for some sugar cookie fun on a rainy Saturday. Using the same recipe I had failed at multiple times, the royal icing we made together turned out perfect on our very first try. I guess sometimes you just need the moral support of a friend. I'm not crossing this one off the list quite yet, but we are well on our way to success.

#15 Beat Jon at Settlers of Catan
The board game to rule them all. We played 1 game of Settlers this month (See #16). Jon didn't win, but neither did I so it doesn't count.

#2 Read 30 Books
I read two books. One was a fiction book called The Sisters, which I had started before the list came into existence. It wasn't the most amazing book I've ever read, but since I had already started it, I figured I might as well finish it. Frankly, I'm glad I'm done with it so I can move on. I don't like reading more than one book at a time.

The other book was a social science book about French parenting. It was so interesting that I breezed through it in a few days. Since I actually liked this book, I'll write a little review for all of you soon.

In order to be more intentional about my reading this year, I made a book list. Yes, my 30 by 30 list has a sub-list. The more things to cross off the merrier! I tend to do most of my reading on planes, in waiting rooms or on vacations. Thus, most of my reading (outside of the Bible) is pretty mindless fiction. I like the escape of a fun, easy read, but I wanted to challenge myself to read more "real" books so I divided the list into a few categories and then some suggested titles. This is all subject to change, but you'll get the general idea. If you have suggested books that I should add or subtract, please send them my way.

10 Non-fiction 
In Cold Blood
Team of Rivals
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
The Hiding Place
Behind the Beautiful Forevers
Born Standing Up
The Devil in the White City
Escape from Camp 14
The Lost Continent: Travels in Small Town America
Bringing up Bebe
You Are Not That Smart

5 Christian
Pilgrim’s Progress
Mere Christianity
Desiring God
Marriage Matters

5 Classics
Great Expectations
Grapes of Wrath
A Farewell to Arms
All the King’s Men
Gone with the Wind

10 Fiction
The Sisters
The rest are TBD - since fiction is my go-to genre, I don't think I'll have too much trouble coming up with other titles as I go. 

While it's not on the list, I couldn't resist adding #31 - maybe a rotating bonus experience from each month? This month's was "Spend more time with adorable babies." I got to hang out with Anastasia one Saturday. We (I) baked a cake and chewed (her) on the remote. There was also a one year old birthday party we hosted for Eli whose fat rolls also double as crumb catchers. I can't even.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

adventures in the neighborhood listserv: baby chick edition

From the same people that brought you throw down fights over Christmas lights being left out too long and nanny tax reporting, I now present the latest in WASP-y, first world problems: baby chicks.  

When we aren't talking about where we can get girl scout cookies (too late) or boy scout mulch (they deliver!), we move onto really important topics about raising Easter chicks. It all started with this request:

"Does anyone know where I might get baby a baby chick or duck for Easter?? Ideally I am looking for an outfit/farm where I can purchase the egg and then return the baby a week or two after it's hatched (granted it survives my child) where it will live a long good life. Because I have no room for a chicken or duck in the yard.... But I would love to share the learning experience with child."

Depending on how you look at it, this mother is either trying to provide a wonderful animal learning experience for her child or, the more popular opinion, this mother is looking for the most cruel way to provide a long, slow death for a cute, furry animal. 

Let the listserv insanity ensue. My personal favorite responses:

"Would you hand your newborn over to a child as a science project? Surely not." 

Did we just compare baby animals to real babies? Yes, yes we did. 

"I Have a bunny if you want to borrow it." 

Sharing is caring.  

This doesn't even include any of the responses that sprung out of the related thread about chick shaming the original poster. I can't make this stuff up. But, of course, it's not a true listserv fight until the certified listserv troll weighs in:

"Shame on us who shamed people who shamed the shamers over a simple and honest request…Where can one rent a duck? Is this America?  Bravo Duck Renter, I salute you. Would that others seek to rent and return animals or better still, children. I know of at least three families that would happily have passed their children on at ages three or four (the equivalent of a month old duck). Instead they dropped them off at the pit [our local playground] to fend for themselves, where they grew up and became vagabonds. I stand firmly behind anyone who dares to exercise the right to say hello duck, good-bye duck. Rent away Duck Renter, this IS America."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Aunt Kitty

My nickname in the family is Baby Katie. I'm the baby and always will be, but in June of this year, I'm going to have to give up my title (but I'm keeping the nickname). Megan, aka Schmee, aka my older sister, is having her first baby in a few short months. BABY! I'm not really sure when we got old enough to have babies, but I'm so glad she's going first so she can figure this whole thing out for us.

After much lobbying and even promising that I would buy her a pink stroller if the baby was a girl, it is, of course a girl. Eek! I made good on the stroller promise, but I was practical and bought it in black. Being practical is not nearly as much fun.

They are naming her Abby Kate, which is totes adorbs. I suppose if she is going to take my title the least she can do is share my name. And last, but not least, we've decided that she is going to call me Aunt Kitty. Kitty is typically how my name comes out with little kiddos anyway. It's already on a mug so there is no turning back now.

As you can probably tell, we are over the moon. I can't wait to meet Abby. And spoil her. And dress her in pink. There *might* even be some bows. We are going to be best buddies.

I met my mom and sister in Dallas a couple of weekends ago for some shopping and eating. Abby made out pretty good. Notice that sea of pink in the top right corner of the photo? Those are my contributions. I can't help it.

We are throwing Megan a shower in April. Stay tuned for adorable updates on the shower and Abby's arrival this summer.
Monday, March 2, 2015

Munich, I'll drink to that

Hey, remember that one time we went on a vacation over 3 months ago and I just now finished blogging it? Yeah, me neither.

We trained to Munich later in the day on Thanksgiving. After checking into the hotel, we walked a few blocks to the main Munich Christmas market. It was quite large and quite crowded. While it wasn't my favorite market, I've still never met a Christmas market I didn't like. And you'll be proud to learn that we switched things up this time - instead of fried dough, we got fried potato pancakes. [And yes, three months later, I'm still working that trip off. It's all salad and pilates around here these days.]

After browsing the market, we wandered over to Hofbrauhaus, one of the most famous beer halls in Germany. You can't go to Germany and not visit a beer hall. Although this one has become quite touristy, it's still worth a visit. If it couldn't be turkey and all the fixins, at least it was a pint and pork knuckle for Thanksgiving dinner. It was a fun experience, but I'd probably be fine never repeating it again. I was overwhelmed on a relatively quiet Thursday evening. I would never survive during Oktoberfest.

thanksgiving of champions.
The next day we took a 20-minute train ride to visit the Dachau Concentration Camp site. I'm not really sure how to write about this experience. I thought it was very informative and a moving memorial site. It was the coldest day of the vacation - an overcast day with chilling winds. I was bundled up, not outside that long, and still freezing. It made me realize even more how the thousands of people enslaved there had suffered in rags without coats or shoes, starving, sick and weak. We both learned a lot, and I'm glad we went, but it was heartbreaking.

the names of everyone that perished at Dachau
On a brighter note, that night we had what was perhaps my favorite meal of the trip. Considering we ate a lot of great food (see pilates/salad reference above), this is high praise. Dallmayr is a gourmet food shop and market downstairs by day and a michelin star restaurant upstairs by night. It was so fancy and delightful. I loved every bite. After dinner we went to a smaller market where I ate, you guessed it, fried dough!

and no, i am not flipping you off. or am i? 

On our last full vacation day, we took a day trip/tour to the castles. We drove through the mountains making stops in one village and at two castles. I'll be perfectly honest, this was not my favorite day, and it was primarily due to the weather. It was (again) cold, drizzly, and foggy. I'm sure the drive was beautiful, but we couldn't see a thing. Even once we got to the base of Neuschwanstein Castle, it was completely hiding in the fog. We walked all the way up to the top, but even from there, we wouldn't have known we were at a castle. I guess I'll just have to go back someday.

We did tour the inside and that was very enjoyable. It's a somewhat modern castle, which was built to look much older. I bought a puzzle, which we put together over Christmas. I like to joke that I had to buy the puzzle so I could know what the castled looked like.

i walked all the way up that hill for this? wah wah.
We finished off our last full day with a very traditional meal at a very traditional German restaurant. And then it was time to fit everything we brought + everything we bought back into our suitcases. No easy feat, but I also feel so accomplished after a good packing job.

it doesn't get more German than this.

The next day we had a few hours before our flight left so we visited the Residenz, aka the city palace for German rulers from around 1500-1918. It was room after room after room of palace opulence - much of it destroyed and then later rebuilt after WWII. Adjacent to the Residenz is a beautiful theater that was also destroyed and then restored to how it looked in the 1750s.

There was one last stop at a market for one last bite of fried dough and sausages.

The flight home wasn't as cushy as the business class one on the way over, BUT we had one huge bonus - there was one live TV channel on our flight and it just so happened to be a sports channel that was showing the CBS feed of the Packers vs. Patriots game. I have no idea how we got that lucky, but we got to see the Packers win just before landing. If you think watching a game with me is an experience, you should really try watching a game with me on a packed international flight. It's maddening to not be able to yell during a football game. I did my best, but I think the Croatian lady next to me thought I was certifiable.

thank you, lufthansa. 

Thus ended the vacation. Now on to the next one. :)