Saturday, February 20, 2016

I've got sunshine on a February day

Temps in northern Illinois reached almost 60 degrees this weekend, (in February!) so my husband Chris and I ventured out into the muddy mess at the park to walk around, absorb some Vitamin D and take some photos. It was a good day. 

Nice days like that (in the middle of the winter) are few and far between, so you learn not to take them for granted.
Chris carved our initials into this tree probably five years ago. Silly lovestruck teenagers.
Not sure why the graffiti is here, but it's been there for years.
I had quite a few cool photos of this wall, but I didn't want to post photos of all the profanities on it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I found "My Church"

I found my new favorite song. So can I get a hallelujah? Can I get an amen?

For me, Maren Morris' "My Church" is one of those special songs you only find so many of in a lifetime. It may not be perfect, it may not be the greatest song in the world, but when you hear it, you'd swear it was written for -- or about you.

Why this song? It tells the story of a girl driving with the windows down and country music on the radio. That alone could describe me on any day of the week. But then she goes into how that feeling is "my church." And I just get it.

"When this wonderful world gets heavy, and I need to find my escape,
I just keep the wheels rolling, radio scrolling
Until my sins wash away." 

Music has always been the biggest part of my life. (Yes, even more than writing.) I grew up on country classics, I've attended concerts my entire life, and I've never felt a better high than the one I get when I'm screaming my lungs out to a song that "gets me." And Maren Morris' tune "gets me" in every single way.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

First Married Valentine's Day

I know the holiday can sometimes get a bad rap, but I love Valentine's Day. Always have. Sure, we can always express love on any other day, but it's pretty neat to have a day devoted to just that: Love. It can be love for a spouse, furry family members, parents, siblings, friends and more.
Today my husband and I are celebrating our fifth Valentine's Day together, and our first married one. We spread the day out over Saturday and Sunday. Saturday we went to our local theater (where we met in high school!) and watched American Saturday Night: Live from the Grand Ole Opry movie. It just confirmed that we'd really like to travel to Nashville some day. 

We also visited with my parents and sister. (After all, what would a holiday be without family?)
Chris got me beautiful flowers that reminded me of our wedding day flowers. I designed a plaque for him; it has our vows: the blessing of the hands. Those words still give me chills.
When we celebrated our one-month wedding anniversary, I said married life hadn't really changed us. But as time goes on, I'm noticing that we're different: we're becoming more and more of a team. 
We're spending more time talking about our goals: financial, life, short-term and long-term. Maybe that's what everyone does after they get married, but for us, it's making us work harder and become teammates. It's inspiring and it makes the work even easier. It gives it purpose. And for all that, I consider myself very lucky. Happy Valentine's Day, friends.

P.S. Here's some kitty photobomb pics.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Best Story Songs

When it comes to music and lyrics, I'm a words girl. It wasn't too difficult to come up with some of the best story songs - songs that tell a tale from beginning to end. 

From "Cat's in the Cradle," to "A Boy Named Sue" and "In The Ghetto," these are my picks for the best story songs in pop, country and rock music. This list may just scratch the surface of story songs. What would you add to this playlist?


Wednesday, February 03, 2016

On babies...or a lack of babies

It appears to be baby season at the office.

In the last week I've heard "baby," "pregnant," "expecting," and "maternity" more times than I care to count. Sure, I'm beyond excited for these people, and it's always cute to see pregnant women waddling around the office -- they seem happy. But it all just makes me feel old.

At 25 years old, I'm not necessarily old, but I'm old enough to have had a few children by now. And some of my peers do have a few children by now. 

We've only been married for a few months, but according to society's timeline, children are the next box to tick off. But what if we're not sure what we want? It seems like an awfully big risk to take if we're not even sure what we want out of life just yet...Even if we are already halfway through our 20s. Gulp. 

At 25, I feel like I'm in this awkward gray area -- I'm married and old enough to have children, but I feel like the timing isn't right. But at the same time, I feel like my age is fighting against me; as I'm getting older, so are my parents and grandparents. Surely they want to be involved if my husband and I were to have children. If we wait too long, what happens?

But then again, if we have a baby just to please other people, who's to say that we'd be happy at all?

I guess I could see it going both ways.

Maybe we're just a statistic: people our age are having children later in life, (if at all.) They're saddled with more student debt than their parents, and they aren't doing as well finding high-paying jobs. Plus, it's not as if we need to have six children to take on some duties on the family farm.

Some people in my generation are getting married later, too. Times are changing, but there can still be a pressure to stick to the "old fashioned way of doing things," and that means checking off the boxes as you go.

I wouldn't say that we've been pressured to have children. The comments and teasing has started, but it doesn't feel like actual pressure just yet. Meanwhile, we get older and my husband and I still feel as "neutral" on the topic as ever. Sure, we're family people, but we don't have a "need" to have children right now. (I do tend to change my mind a lot, but you never know.)

I guess what I'm wondering is, will that feeling eventually come? Or does it just never come for some people? What happens if we never get the urge to want to start a family? Will the people closest to us be disappointed in us? Or will the desire come one day as a complete surprise?

Monday, February 01, 2016

Interview With: Future Policewoman

Lilly Haish, my sister, is one of two females in a law enforcement class at Kishwaukee College in Malta, Ill. 

Although my sister has faced some skepticism from some of her 13 male classmates, she’s pursuing her dream and pushing back against the doubt and society’s criticisms. 

“Thinking about becoming a female police officer is hard,” she said. “I feel like I’ll have to meet high expectations to show I’m not just some girly-girl cop. Like, I’m here to get the job done just as good as any man can.” 

She’s just in the beginning stages of pursuing her career; she’s in her first year at Kishwaukee College. She was part of the Kishwaukee Education Consortium’s Student Police Academy and has been on the lookout for additional volunteer and learning opportunities. 
After Kishwaukee, she hopes to move on to Western Illinois University. She’d someday like to work for either Sycamore or Chicago police, maybe even as a homicide detective. She’s not sure where the road will lead her. 
One thing’s for certain, though: there’s no turning back now, although she does have some concerns. 

“Just because of how cops can be portrayed in the media now, I’m concerned someone will think I’m a bad person just because I want to be a cop,” she said. “I don’t think [I’m a bad person] because of the reasons I want to be a cop. Part of it is to leave a legacy, to feel like I did something important with my life.” 

She’s consciously taking steps to prepare herself for life as a police officer. 

“Sometimes when I get stressed, I try to just remain super calm, because as a police officer, if you get mad, you can’t just scream at someone,” she said. “Sometimes when I’m driving or walking around, I try to work on being aware of things around me. I think that’s something that can’t be taught in a classroom, but it’s something that could be lifesaving someday.” 
Her initial interest in the career came innocently enough. 

“I liked to watch ‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Castle,’ ‘Law and Order: SVU,’ ‘CSI: Miami,’” she said. “That’s why I first thought of [the career.] I think a lot of it though, has a lot to do with growing up in Sycamore; they’re all such good cops, such friendly cops. I feel like if I had grown up somewhere else I wouldn’t have had the same decision.”

Her powder puff football coaches in high school were members of Sycamore Police Department. She found their attitudes and work ethic inspiring. And her passion goes beyond the glitz, glamour and drama on shows like “Blue Bloods” and “Law and Order.” 

“I want to try to stop some of the bad in the world,” she said. “I see a lot of stuff in the news that bothers me, and if I can stop even just some of that, I think that’s a big deal.”