Sunday, June 9, 2013

Summer So Far

Summer has started out strong. I'm loving it. There have been a lot of random happenings around here lately, so let me walk you through them... randomly. Be aware: this is the unabridged version.

First off, Memorial Day. My office is just two blocks away from the Indiana War Memorial, and our Friday walking group (gotta love working for a company that is "wellness oriented") walked to the Circle downtown just before Memorial Day weekend. There were flags and servicemen everywhere. I loved starting the weekend off with a reminder of what it's really about.

Right after work that day, we took off for Chicago. My sister flies standby, and she almost made it all the way to Indy. We haven't been to Chicago yet while living here, so we were more than happy to go pick her up. And we'd be more than happy to go pick her up if we had been to Chicago 1000 times :)

That city was SO fun to drive through! Minus the toll the toll roads took on my wallet. Doesn't seem right. But we got over it quick and loved staring at all the buildings. Next time we go up we'll take an architecture tour for sure.

Ali caught up with us at  some point on the Magnificent Mile... just jumped in our car with her carry on and a bag of delicious popcorn. Best three-second stop we've ever made. Next stop, deep dish pizza -- had to.
We met up with my old roommate Elise for dinner and a walk through Millennium Park. We lived together our senior year, then we each took off for internships in Chicago and DC. She never left, and loves it there. It was so fun catching up. We took a picture by the Bean to send to our cute roommate Kimberly who is serving a mission in North Carolina right now. We met up with my cousin Claire who lives in Chicago now too... I wish we remembered to get a picture!

We had a hotel in North Chicago for FREE because I am married to a man who has a serious knack for that. Our commitment to finding free stuff never ceases to amaze me...we have gotten pretty good at it, guys. And all money saved goes to: Cupcakes! Sprinkles cupcakes in Chicago, home of their cupcake ATM! I had been looking forward to that moment for a long long time. And ok, not all money saved went to these beauties...but can you imagine? I have. We split a black & white, peanut butter chocolate, and salted caramel. Salted carmel cupcake in existence.

We took advantage of the bordering states on this road trip... Ali and I are so close to our all-50 goal. She's aiming to hit them all before she turns 30, but I stretched my deadline out because I want number 50 to be Hawaii. And, that trip probably won't be for a while... So we drove up to Wisconsin Friday night, and swung around to Michigan "on the way home" on Saturday! Here's where my states stand:

Red: Drove through. Purple: Stayed at. Green: Lived there. 
(and it was DC. Not Virginia. But, you get it)

Just North Dakota, Minnesota, and Hawaii (which for some reason is not pictured?) left to go - so close! Ali only has 4 more, I'm sure she'll get to them soon! I love all the random memories we have of crossing states off our list. So many funny stories and random plans.

We went to Union Pier in Michigan and it was so beautiful. Perfect houses and yards leading up to a gorgeous beach with plenty of smooth rocks just waiting to be skipped. We loved it. 

And look! We didn't even write that. It was just waiting for me there, in Michigan. For real. I belong there?

On our way home we decided to take the exit for Fair Oaks Farms that we'd seen so many signs for, since we needed gas anyway. We pulled up and the signs directed us to the Gift Shop, Playground, Bus Tour, and Birthing Center. Birthing Center??? We had to choose that one. We walked in to find not one, but two mama cows surrounded by an amphitheater of people, one of them with their new baby and the other right in the process. It was the strangest thing I've ever randomly walked in on (I think? I didn't think too hard about that superlative but it seems safe to say). They were behind a large glass wall on fresh piles of hay, with a Fair Oaks Farms worker waiting behind to help if needed. A little calf was just coming out feet first, and I about lost it. For real. Had to sit down before I passed out, which reaffirmed my inability to deal with, well, anything remotely bloody. Plus I love cows and seeing one in pain was sad. It was just a little too random and too gross.

So we left, went to the gift shop, bought gouda cheese and got out of there.
A few weeks ago my coworker invited us to Pole Day for the Indy 500, where the cars speed around the track one at a time to qualify for the first 24 spots on race day. He even got us tickets to drive our car around the track before it all started, seats at the Mayor's Breakfast that morning, and pit passes for  the day. He's on the Town Council of Speedway, so he's pretty involved with this stuff and has loved it his whole life. He's openly out to make me a permanent Indiana resident, despite my love for mountains.

We had so much fun walking around the garages and watching those qualifying laps. Seeing a car hit almost 230 mph is pretty incredible. And it sounds just like Star Wars. It rained for a while but we didn't even mind, there was so much to see while we waited for the track to dry off and the cars to ride.

That same coworker gave us 3 tickets for the Indy 500, so Ali got to experience Race Day while she was here! You can't get more of an Indianapolis experience than that. So right after (maybe during...) church, we headed to the race!

The whole pre-race experience was so much fun. Plenty of Patriotic and Indiana pride songs sung, plus a special moment when they let a group of runners from the Boston Marathon who never finished the race in April run around the track and cross the brickyard finish line. People cheered and cheered. I've heard that Indiana is the only state that has officially added four more words to the national anthem: "Gentlemen, start your engines!" With that and a balloon launch, the cars were off! And the 200 laps were surprisingly entertaining. There was a record set this year for number of lead changes, so people were passing constantly. I also learned that day that I have incredibly tiny ear canals. Who knew? Michael and Ali had much better luck with their ear plugs, and mine could barely fit in. Then they'd pop back out every 10 minutes or so. Sad.

In other (BIG) news, Michael has FINISHED his first year of dental school! We met up for lunch at the canal between his school and my office during his finals week. By the time he had one more test left, the last thing that boy wanted to do was study. He was to be done. He did so well in his first year of dental school. I'm so proud of this man! Naturally smart, hardest of workers, big ambition. What a combo, right? Now he's soaking up his 5 weeks off, with some research and other stuff mixed in there. No rest for the weary.

I didn't finish a year of dental school. But I did sew for the first time since 8th grade! Big accomplishment, people. I've always felt like sewing machines hate me, but I put fear aside, kept Summer right by my side, and whipped up some curtains for our kitchen. Pictures of those to come soon, once I finish that dang wall! Just 5 more lines to so close. If I squint it's practically done.

One of my friends introduced me to an awesome nonprofit called Girls Inc. I've been leading one of their programs at a school close to my office during some lunch breaks, and they always pair you up with another volunteer. Michael was so excited when I learned that my partner was from Madrid, Spain! He served his mission there, so for two years he fell in love with that place and its people. She invited us over for a real paella with her family, and it was so much fun. Isn't that just a beautiful dish? It was my first time eating squid and mussels. I was feeling pretty impressed with myself until they told me about "black paella", made with the squid still in its ink which darkens the whole dish... I mean, whoa.

We still have some [illegal] pets around here. Kitty is cute as ever and seriously loves us. I came home the other day to her studying on the couch. Cute, right? Even Ali kind of thought she was cute, and only had one meltdown when she was visiting. Kitty jumped on her lap without warning and it just wasn't a good thing for anyone involved in the situation... but, all is well. We babysat our friend Chase the tiny poodle again for a week. We put a toddler gate between the two of them and they learned to almost tolerate each other. Big step. It's fun to be the neighborhood petting zoo for our friends. We're not ashamed.

We broke out our pizza stone again, and we are kind of obsessed with it. It has made some pretty delicious homemade pizzas for us, like this one. You should try it. (Double mitts because do you know how HOT pizza stones get? It's terrifying.)

We had a hotel reserved in Chicago this weekend to celebrate Michael finishing his first year, but we both decided we were ready for a weekend at home and cancelled it. Home was perfect. We have been wanting to get back on the Monon Trail since we rode the south half with Michael's parents, so we were finally able to. I love bike trails so much - especially since we live in an area that doesn't even have sidewalks. It has made me totally appreciate these trails that cities invest in for residents. 

We drove to Broad Ripple, hopped on the trail, and rode 13 miles up through Carmel in time for their Saturday Farmer's Market. That place was perfect, markets are my favorite thing. If we weren't on bikes, we would have loaded up on produce, homemade noodles, fresh jams and honey, fresh apple cider...all that good stuff! Instead, we split a breakfast crepe and "window" shopped. We'll definitely be back again! We took a few detours here and there on our way and saw three beautiful blue herons, plus a koi show. Random. They're huge. Then it was 13 miles back down, finished off with a cheeseburger at the Monon Food Company. Counterproductive? Maybe. Completely delicious? Definitely. It was even comparable to this burger in Provo that I sincerely miss.

On Friday night we rode ourselves to a "bike-in" movie at Garfield Park, where they were showing Goonies. Somehow neither of us had ever seen that? So it filled in a few pop culture quoting gaps for us both. Summer nights are the absolute best.

And that's our summer so far. We are loving it. This summer has plenty in store, and the beginning has been a blast. We are loving these Midwest days of ours.


  1. Super cute! You guys look like you are having so much fun! I'm happy for you, maddie!

  2. "Hey Michael, we're just going to run to Walgreens and Wisconsin."


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