Sunday, December 12, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Once again I have fallen off the blog-wagon. I apologize to everyone who still reads this blog. I especially apologize to my friend, Kristi, who I told I would have a new post after Thanksgiving. So I have about 3 months of catching up to do. This might be a lengthy blog. And you know how much I love to use the bullet points for long update posts, so here goes...

* We had a very enjoyable Thanksgiving. We had a small group gather at our place. Chris (Travis's classmate who has been living with us since June) and his fiance, Jasia, and her little girl, Chloe, came up, as well as another classmate named Luke. Jasia made pumpkin pies from scratch! I was so impressed. All I've ever known is pumpkin from the can. Travis made a fabulous, melt-in-your mouth turkey. The day was filled with movies and Disney Scene-It, which Chloe really enjoyed.

* I have not pulled out all of the Christmas decorations this year. I have a few token items, mainly things my mom sent me in a care package. Our new apartment is set up in a way that our Christmas tree will not fit without causing major maneuvering issues. Because I could not stand the idea of tree-less living room, I made a make-shift Christmas tree:



* For the last few months the weather has been pretty mild, but all that changed a couple of weeks ago. We had our first snow last Saturday. You do not know the horrors of Christmas shopping until you have shopped while it is snowing. I called it quits after only a couple of hours. I don't know how people live daily lives in this stuff! Today it has been snowing pretty much all day with wind gusts of 40 mph. And because there was a nice layer of non-plowed snow Travis, Chris and I indulged in some much needed parking lot doughnuts. Here are a couple pictures from our patio. Sorry they are not very scenic...I was all about staying warm.





* Work has been rather intense lately. Fall is a very busy time. I have been dealing with applications coming in, coordinating the interview days, preparing committee meetings, sending out acceptances letters and everything else in between. December 1st was our deadline for applications. Deadline time is when we receive large amounts of mail. On one day alone we received over 250 applications. The past two weeks have been rather crazy around the office, but now that receiving applications are done, we can devout time to all the other tasks that need to be complete.

* Because we have been understaffed, a few of us have been helping out with the recruiting events. I helped out with 3 different events. In early October I went to an event at UIC (University of Illinois at Chicago). At the end of October I accompanied my boss to an event in Normal, IL at the Illinois State University campus. My final event was at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. All three of these events were great opportunities. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with all of the prospective applicants.

* Travis has been doing well. He really enjoys his third year, mainly for the fact that he has more down time. This week is his last week of his capstone classes. Since June he has been involved with 6 week classes on devoted to different medical fields. He has completed Radiology, Orthopedics, Surgery, and this week he will be done with General Medicine. He will have two weeks off and then he will begin his month long rotations. He has mandatory rotations in the Chicago Area and then he has 8 electives. The schedule is fairly ok with the exception of this spring when he will be gone from February to the end of May. Once we get past that hurtle, he will only be gone for periods of 1 or 2 months.

* Here is Travis's schedule for the next year and a half:

January--West Side VA in Chicago
February--Greenly, Colorado
March--Greenville, Texas
April--Houston, Texas
May--Southbend, Indiana
June--Chicago Area (internal medicine)
July--Temple, Texas (Scott and White)
August--San Antonio, Texas
September--Chicago Area (emergency medicine)
October--Chicago Area (Stoger Hospital of Cook County)
November--Ft. Worth, Texas (John Peter Smith)
December--Chicago Area (Stroger Hospital of Cook County)
January--CRIPS (CRIPS is the interview process for residency. He will be in Texas for this.)
February--Chicago Area (Mt. Sinai Hospital)
March--North Chicago VA
April--Vacation Month
May--Chicago Area
June 2012--Graduation!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Cubs Game

Last Saturday, Travis and I went with some friends to our first Cubs game. We had been to Wrigleyville before and seen the outside of the stadium. But it's not official until you sit in the stands, heckle the players and eat a hot dog. The day we went was actually pretty cool. It was in the mid 60's and the wind was blowing. I had jeans and a jacket on, and I was still cold at times. We were able to get cheap tickets...probably because the Cubs have not been doing so well this season. (Go Rangers!)

Perhaps we brought along a little Texas luck because they won this game against the NY Mets. Here are a few pictures:

Wrigleyville is set up to where surrounding buildings have rooftop bleachers. In this picture the stadium is on the left.




From the stadium you could see Lake Michigan:


Here is our motley crew. Chris, Travis's classmate who lives with us on the weekdays; Jasia, Chris's fiance; Chloe, Jasia's daughter; and Kristen, another podiatry classmate.


Proof that he was actually there!


Cubs Win: 5-3! Apparently the Cubs have their own song for when they win. The words were flashed on the screen and almost everyone was singing along.


This is probably my favorite picture from the trip. Please note the "radioactive" relish on the hot dog. Chicago likes to add green food coloring to the relish.


3 sports events down (Bulls, Black Hawks, Cubs); One to go (Bears).

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The New Apartment

So I have had these pictures in my camera since last weekend and have been meaning to upload them to the blog. Work got a little busy this week and many evenings were spent completing some stuff to stay ahead. But still, no excuse. Here are some photos of each of the rooms. Perhaps soon I can put up a video of a tour of the apartment to help but everything in perspective.


Large, spacious kitchen




One view of the dining room/living room




This is our lovely patio that we have been taking full advantage of. The table, chairs and grill are on loan from a 4th year podiatry student. The tomato plant was given to us by another podiatry student.


This is the guest room/office and from now until January it is known as Chris's room, Travis's classmate who stays with us on the weekdays.




Our super, big room. The picture does not do it justice--it just keeps going!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Official Letter

Below is a picture of Travis's official letter about his board scores. Sorry it's a little fuzzy. I edited as best I could.



We are all moved into our new apartment. I should be able to put some pictures up soon. I am truly loving all the space we have in the kitchen. You don't realize how important a pantry is until you go two years without one. We have already grilled 3 times on our patio. Pictures to come soon along with updates on Travis's upcoming traveling schedule.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Beginning of August

As August begins, we are enjoying the 70's/80's weather, although we feel for all our friends and family in Texas who are melting in 100's. Here are a few things that have been going on:

* The big and most important news is that Travis passed the boards!!! He has not received his official letter yet, but his Dean informed him, as well as his other classmates, once she received the scores. This is a major weight lifted off of him.

* This Saturday we are moving...to the first floor of our same apartment building. It's not a big move, but it's still a move. The new apartment will be bigger, especially in the kitchen. We will actually get to use our kitchen table as a table instead of a counter top for appliances. No more eating on the floor! We will also have a nice patio area. The person who lived in the apartment before us, a podiatry student, is leaving us his grill and his tiki torches. Party at the Bodekers!

* Work is crazy right now! Next week is Orientation Week for the school and I am doing my best to keep the class at the projected numbers, although the students keep withdrawing. While doing this I am also working on keeping the applicant cycle rocking and rolling for the class of 2011. Also our receptionist's last day was today, so we have been training a temp. It's super busy, but I am still enjoying it. I can't wait to have the students on campus next week and see familiar faces.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Beard Til Boards

Back in February I mentioned that Travis was growing a beard until his Boards test in July. We soon learned how fast his beard grows. Thankfully, he did trim the beard during those 5 months. I'm pretty sure if he had let it run wild he would look like an Irish ZZ Top member. The evening after the test Travis began the shaving process and I took pictures!

The crazy, thick beard.


I'm sure this style has a name, but I'm not up to par with my male facial hair lingo.


The Mutton Chops--kickin' it like it's 1836!


Baby Face--It had been so long I didn't recognize him!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Way, Way, Way Overdue

I truly do not know where the time went. Has it really been since April since I last updated? Where the huey did May and June go? Well, to those of you who have not given up on this blog by switching over to Cake Wrecks or Awkward Family Photos, I thank you. (Although, in your spare time you should check these out.)

I will now try to update two months worth of life in a few bullet points:

* The big event this week, actually tomorrow, is Travis's board exam. The exam will be at noon tomorrow--I know he would appreciate prayers. He has been studying many months for this exam. Today he took the day off and went golfing.

* In May Travis completed his classwork portion of his program. His GPA is locked and the rest of his work is all pass/fail.

* Travis has begun his capstone class which are six week rotations with more hands on experience. He is in Radiology right now. His other rotations are General Medicine, Surgery, and Orthopedics. These classes will last until December, then come January he starts his other rotations.

* A lot of the podiatry students have moved down to the city, however they still have to be up at the school by 8:00 until December. Because of this, Travis's good friend Chris (also from Texas) will be living with us during the week. He has a place in Downer's Grove which is, on a good day without traffic, about 45 minutes away. The arrangement has been going well so far.

* Work for me is going well. It is a little busy as I am juggling two admissions cycles. We are continuing to complete the entering class for 2010 and we just started receiving applications for 2011. I am never bored!

* I have taken part in some recruitment events and will probably have more this fall. In May myself and another coworker went to Northwestern University in Evanston, IL to take part in an event called Lunch with Medical School Representatives. Today, I also gave a presentation to high school students on how to prepare for medical school. (Not going to lie--I had major flashbacks to my student teaching days in the high school classroom). I am also scheduled later this month to serve as a mediator for a student led panel.

* The weather has been bearable. Until just recently we were in the 70's-80's and we even had a few days in June when it was 60. But now the heat has really kicked in, although it still does not compare to Texas.

* We had a very enjoyable Fourth of July. We went to Downer's Grove to celebrate with a few friends. Here are a few pictures"

This is the nice picture...


Then he had his moment...


And I had mine.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Travis Post #2

Travis had a very nice, relaxing dinner on his birthday and he quietly began his 30th year of life. Wrong! Unknown to Travis, a party had been in the works for quite some time. Last Saturday we got him good--he didn't suspect anything. I had help from two of his classmates, my co-conspirators, in planning everything. Another one of his classmates offered up her and her husband's house for the party, since our apartment would be a little cramped. His classmates wanted to throw him an over the hill party because he is one of the oldest (but not the oldest) person in their class. I found lots of black decorations and let everyone know they could bring "old man" gag gifts.

The plan was that Travis and his friend Chris would go golfing Saturday afternoon. On the way home they would stop off at the Brown's house to pick up Chris's drum equipment. I was not excited (nor was Travis) when I woke up Saturday to a rainy, cold morning. Plan B had Chris taking Travis to another classmates house to play video game golf. They left at around lunchtime and were suppose to stay out until 6:15. I was a little worried about Chris being able to keep him busy for that long, but, being a girl, I forget that boys can spend all day with video games. Chris did tell me later that he had a few almost panic moments when Travis mentioned going back home to study.

While Chris kept Travis busy, we all congregated at the Brown's house, making sure to hide our cars so he wouldn't suspect. When he arrived we all hid in the kitchen and jumped out as he came into the living room. He was completely clueless. He later told me what a nice surprise it was. Travis's classmate, Jason, took on the responsibility of the cake. He found a bakery who made a fantastic, red velvet with cream cheese icing, over the hill cake for us.

It was a great night of food, music, and friends. Happy Birthday, Travis!



Surprise!

The fantastic cake which reads "It's all downhill from here"






This was my gag gift to Travis--an inflatable walker!



Travis opening his gag gifts which included the Hawaiian shirt, diabetic socks, malt o meal, fixodent, denture cleaning kit, and suspenders.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday, Travis! (Post #1)

Other than the fact that he had his clinical exam today, Travis has been having a wonderful 30th birthday. He has received many Facebook shout outs, most with creative old man jokes. We are planning to go out to eat at his favorite restaurant tonight--Red Robin. One of the surprise gifts that he got was Blue Bell ice cream from Texas! My mom found out that Blue Bell will ship ice cream by using dry ice. So Wednesday morning the ice cream arrived and I rushed home to put it in the freezer. I found out the day before that Travis's classes were canceled that morning. When he doesn't have class he sometimes stays home to study and sometimes he goes to campus. Didn't like those odds, so I enlisted the help of his friend Chris to lure Travis to the campus library. I decided to wait for Travis to find the ice cream himself. He did not come home all day and actually ended up going out to dinner with a friend. My plan had been for him to see it when he was looking for something to eat, but when he got home he was completely full.

I soon figured out a new strategy. I was making Travis a lemon meringue pie for his birthday. To make this pie you have to continuously stir the ingredients. Since I couldn't move away from the stove I asked Travis if he could get me a glass of water with ice (I hardly ever use ice in my water). I happened to have my camera so I took a video of what happened. First, he didn't see the ice cream, then he commented on how much ice cream there was (he didn't see it was Blue Bell). Finally he caught on to the glory that was hiding in the freezer.

Here is what the freezer looked like:


Here is Travis fully taking in what he sees:
video

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spring Events...At Least I Think It's Spring

Hello World!

We are still here, just slacking off in posting again. In regards to the title of this post we have been flip-flopping back and forth between comfortable 70's weather and "enough is enough" 40's/50's weather. The positive is that, no matter what the temperature, we have had beautiful sunny days. And as long as there is no more snow I am content (knocking on wood as we speak).

Here are a few of the things we have done over the past couple months:

* In March our friend Kim came to visit. It was great to see her and try out some new eating spots as well as tour the Chicago History Museum.

* Some of the new restaurants we have found include: Opas! which is a fantastic Greek restaurant. I had not had Greek food before and was a big fan. We also found a great sushi place. Once again this was my first time to have sushi and I loved it!

* A couple of months ago Travis and I were taught how to play canasta by two of his classmates and we are now hooked. Quite often we have men against women canasta competitions. We are getting pretty good at the game.

* Because the weather has been nice (and snowless) Travis has been breaking in his new golf clubs. It also serves as a great stress reliever from school...at least it does when he has a good game. :)

* We are contemplating moving from our apartment. We are either looking at a larger, first floor apartment in our complex (to get away from our loud and annoying upstairs and downstairs neighbors) or we may possible rent one of the military houses or duplexes. We will know more come the end of May/June.

* Travis has about a month of classes left and he is pushing through. He along with all of his classmates are struggling to find motivation after almost 2 years of grueling schoolwork. This Thursday he has his clinical exam in which he will work with a patient at the clinic and be graded on his skills. Once classes are done in May his GPA will be set. His capstone classes and rotations will be on a pass/fail scale. I am so proud of all he has accomplished so far!

* I recently bought a sewing machine and have been intrigued to learn more sewing projects. I made a small decorative pillow, but would really like to make clothes. I am looking into taking a few classes offered at Joanne's. So far I have been patching up Travis's clothes...as well as his friend, Chris's.

* The next big event is Travis's 30th birthday this Thursday! I have a few things planned, but I will wait to divulge the information, on the off chance that Travis reads this blog. I will have a special post all about the event...including pictures!

* Lastly, Travis has decided to grow his beard out until his Board exam in July (Beard til Boards is what he calls it). He started in February and already it is pretty thick. Last week a co-worker, who is a NASCAR fan, told me Travis looks like Dale Earnhardt Jr. I will let you be the judge:



Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mom!



I hope you have a wonderful birthday! I wish I could be there to help you celebrate.

Love,

Erin

P.S. Out of the pictures I have, I didn't have any front facing pictures of just you and me. Sorry!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day



Top of the mornin to ya! We wish all of our friends and family back it Texas a very Happy St. Patrick's Day. Mom, Jennifer, and Traci just to let you know Travis is wearing his shirt to school today. I would wear mine to work if I could.

Erin Go Braugh!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Texas Independence Day

In honor of Texas Independence Day I decided to make Texas cookies. During my trip to Texas for Robin's wedding I bought a Texas shaped cookie cutter. I decided to go the easy way out and bought pre-made sugar cookie dough. I also bought red, white, and blue cookie icing to make the cookies look like the Texas flag. I was a little worried because I have has some major baking battles with our gas oven. I do not like gas ovens. In the past I tried to make snickerdoodles and they turned out hard as rock. I also tried to make oatmeal cookies that flattened out and crumbled in your hand. The worst by far was when I baked a bundt cake. When I checked on it, half of the cake was cooked and the other half was liquid. What the huey?

Thankfully the cookies turned out ok. Well, they turned out to be edible. For some reason the dough decided to grow exponentially while in the oven. I pulled out a tray of bloated Texas cookies. Perhaps I offended Illinois and it was taking out its revenge. We remedied the situation by cutting the cookies a second time with the cookie cutter. (Travis's idea). Below are some picture of the Great Texas Cookie Escapade.




Poor little bloated cookies. They are in desperate need of some Tums.


Iced and before the fix.


Final product!


Enjoying my cookie with some good ole fashioned Texas Pride!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Overrun with Cookies

Delivery day was today. Travis is very happy. Travis does not have too much of a sweet tooth (well, in comparison to me). There are only a couple sweet items that truly tempt him. One of these would be Girl Scout Cookies, not just any cookie, thin mints. Two co-workers were selling cookies at my office. Once Travis got wind of the sign up sheets, we were in for it. Of course we had to buy from both people to make it even.

So now our freezer is filled with six (six!!) boxes of thin mints. He had to bring a back pack to carry them all. We shall see how long they last.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Happy Birthday, Cody!



We wish Travis's brother, Cody, a very happy birthday! Hope your day is lots of fun. Wish we could be there to help you celebrate.

Love,

Travis and Erin

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

V-Day and 2nd Anniversary



Travis and I had a wonderful long weekend. Because he does not have a test for three weeks, he is a little more relaxed. We spent Saturday running all kinds of errands, including grocery shopping. I was told about this grocery store in Kenosha, Wisconsin which has wide varieties of food. It reminds me a bit of HEBs in Texas. Another reason to venture to this grocery store was the fact that a Sonic lurked somewhere in the town. Unfortunately we were unsuccessful in the Sonic search. My dreams of a vanilla Diet Coke quickly slipped away. Other than that our Saturday was quite enjoyable.

For Valentine's day Travis bought me flowers which are pictured above (one of the roses being from my dad--a tradition since I was a little girl). Travis also bought me one of those Betty Crocker Warm Delight desserts--perfect. We then ventured to Outback for dinner. We started a tradition when we were dating of going to Outback and ordering two appetizers to split. We did have to wait about an hour and a half for a table, but it was worth it.

On Tuesday we celebrated our 2nd Anniversary. Instead of buying each other Christmas gifts, we saved the money to use on our anniversary dinner. We have started another tradition of going to very nice restaurants to celebrate our anniversary. This year we went to a restaurant called Lovell's of Lake Forest. This restaurant is owned by Jim Lovell from Apollo 13 fame. We were told that we occassionally drops by and talks with people in the restaurant. Unfortunately he did not come by the night we were there. The restaurant had valet parking. (I seem to thing of Ferris Bueller's Day Off when I go somewhere with valet parking, wondering if our car is being driven all over the town while we eat, but I digress.) The walls are decorated with all kinds of memorabilia from the mission as well as the movie. Our table was right next to a poster of the Apollo 13 movie which was personally addressed to Jim Lovell from Tom Hanks. We started off with fresh made bread that was so moist and warm. Travis ordered the rack of lamb with creamed spinach. I ordered the special of the night which was a lot more food than I realized. It was a filet and 2 tiger prawns. I've never had tiger prawns before and thought they were normal shrimp. They were massive, good, but massive. I was only able to eat half of my food. When Travis made the reservation he mentioned that it was our anniversary. As a gift, we received a free dessert that was amazing! It was a warm chocolate cake with chocolate sauce on top. On the side of the plate Happy 2nd Anniversary was written in chocolate. We spent 2 hours at the restaurant enjoying the food and the atmosphere. It was a wonderful anniversary!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad!



Wishing my dad a very happy birthday! Sorry we can't be there to celebrate. Just think of that recent snow fall as a gift from us. :)

Love you lots!

Erin and Travis

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Where Did January Go?

(So I started this post on Thursday, hoping to get it finished and posted--didn't happen. A main reason being that our desktop went on the fritz this week. Travis has had to order a few parts to fix it. This week I have been commandeering Travis's laptop to feel connected to the electronic world. Please enjoy the rest of the post!)


I think I blinked and the month was gone! Once again I have slacked on my blogging. I use to be so good at updating. I suppose a main reason would be that nothing huge or noteworthy has really happened--just the same daily routines.

Another possible reason for my lack of blogging is the fact that I was preoccupied for most of January. For Christmas I received the Harry Potter books and I devoured them during the last month. I had read the first 2 books about 3 years ago while visiting my family, but then stopped once I went back to College Station. Pretty much every evening for the past month, I was found, wrapped in my Snuggie (shout out to the in-laws for that Christmas gift)on the couch reading from early evening til time for bed. To any one who has not read these books I highly recommend them!

Travis has spent the last month doing his norm...studying. He and his classmates are so ready for this book work phase of medical school to be over. Four more months to go. Travis has been doing a phenomenal job on his tests. He found out that he made one of the highest grades on his clinical exam, in which he runs through an exam of a standardized patient--so proud! All of the students at the school have the last week in February off as a spring break. I know Travis can't wait to have a week without class, even if he will have to study.

The weather hasn't been too bad up here. Compared to last year this has been a mild winter. A couple of weeks ago we had a "heat wave" where the temperatures reached the mid 30's. Almost all of the snow was melted in a few days. I was thoroughly happy with this. But then it all came back this Tuesday--drat! Only 3 or so more months of winter.

We are possibly looking at moving out of our apartment this summer. The housing for the navy is also available to the medical students. Last summer Travis's friend Chris was put on a list as being interested in a house if it became available. His plans have since changed, but he still has his name on the list. If something does become available we would be able to take his spot. Travis has been inside one of these houses before and says they are huge! It would be 3 bedrooms, $50 more in rent than what we pay now, but the utilities are included, not something that is apart of our current lease. Of course I wouldn't be able to walk to work, but all of the housing is within a 5 minute drive (if that) from the school.

We have enjoyed our apartment, but it is very cramped. We also have some very annoying neighbors above and below us. The girls above have parties late at night and sound like elephants when they walk across the room. The guys below us play their piano (which they are not suppose to have) at 10:00 at night, play music, "unknowingly" loud, set up a trap to catch squirrels (don't even ask), and chunk snowballs as hard as they can at their car. We've decided not all the lights are on upstairs for these guys, or as our preacher said the other day, the wheel is turning but the hamster is dead.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Christmas Continued

Once we safely arrived at our destination for Christmas everything was wonderful! We had a delicious Christmas meal with my family, including my two grandmothers, and a fun time opening gifts. It was very new for us to open gifts in the evening time. Usually it is the first thing in the morning, but you have to mix things up to keep it energized.

The next morning we drove to San Angelo to Travis's grandparents' house where his parents and Cody and Larissa were. We had planned to leave around 9:30 to give us a little extra sleeping time after our past few early mornings. We didn't realize how tired we were from all the past adventures. It was close to 9:30 when we finally woke up, but man, did we feel refreshed. We had a great time visiting, eating, and opening gifts. It was even more fun helping his grandparents move some furniture--the best part being watching Travis and Cody attack each other with inanimate objects as they carried pieces of furniture. We hated that the visit had to be so short, but at least we were able to get there. Hopefully next time we can have more time to spend with everyone.

Sunday and Monday were mainly spent resting and relaxing. On Monday we did go see Shrelock Holmes which was very entertaining. We were planning to have my mom and sister take us to Dallas early Tuesday to catch our flight. Then we started noticing the weather reports--another snow storm set for late Monday night/early Tuesday night. What in the world?? We decided to leave Monday night just in case and stayed with Travis's grandmother in Lancaster. This was a much better plan because it allowed us more time with his grandmother and his aunt.

We made it to our plane without any weather trouble. When we got in our seats I noticed the family in front of us had an adorable little 2 year old. That opinion soon changed drastically 10 minutes after with took off. She didn't exactly cry but made whiney noises and screamed occassionally the whole trip. Travis had his headphones which allowed him to drown out the noise easily. One of these days we will have a nice, pleasant plane trip. :)

Travis's feelings toward this Christmas are unleashed.


Friday, January 1, 2010

A Christmas We Will Never Forget

This may end up being a rather long post due to the subject matter. Enough time has passed to allow bitterness and sarcasm to be drained from the underlying tone of this entry...maybe.

We had a wonderful time seeing both of our families in Texas. Our trip getting to our families was a little less desirable. As you may remember from my last post our Wednesday evening flight was canceled due to an ice storm in the Chicago area. We rescheduled a flight for 9:50 Thursday morning which connected in Cedar Rapids, IA. Not being sure what the road conditions, traffic, and lines at the airport would be like, we decided to leave the apartment at 6:00. Our preacher's son was nice enough to pick us up and take us to the airport. The roads were not icy at all and everyone else seemed to still be asleep. We have decided that Sean may become our token airport driver since he got us to the airport within 30 minutes. The ticket and security lines were short and easy to get through. No pat downs for either of us this time! We made it to our gate at a little after 7:00 which meant we had almost 3 hours to wait for our plane. As 9:50 drew near, the dreaded speaker turned on with the announcement that the flight was delayed until 10:15. Not too bad; I didn't mind waiting around 30 minutes. We still should get to Texas in the early afternoon. (Ha! Oops, a little of that sarcasm sneaking out). We finally took off from O'Hare at 10:45. Our plane in Cedar Rapids was scheduled to leave at 11:55. Thankfully the flight only took around 40 minutes.

When we exited the plane (at one of the most podunk airports ever) we soon found out that our plane to Dallas had been delayed until 12:45. A little frustrating, but still not a cancelation. While waiting we decided we should eat some lunch. The podunk airport only had one food venue which everyone and their mother seemed to be swarming to. We had no idea how long it would take to get a morsel of sustenance from this place so we went with the other option: the souvenir/newspaper stand. I got a cold semi-stale bagel and Travis got a bag of chips. We boarded on time and were seated on the last row right next to the bathroom. To top it off the lady across from us had a little dog in a carrier that had to be placed behind our seats. Could it get any worse? (Never ask this question). We started heading for the runway, but just before getting to that prime take-off spot, the dreaded overhead speaker came on. The pilot said he had bad news. Apparently the weather in Dallas was so bad only two runways were open for landings and departures. We were going to have to wait on the plane for at least an hour if not more. The mixture of past troubles and low blood sugar caused this news to be taken with a grain of gun powder instead of salt.

We waited for about an hour and then received the thumbs up to get underway. So we will get to Dallas around 4:00 instead of 2:00, we will still be in Abilene with the parents. (So naive). At the end of the trip the pilot came on to tell us we would be landing in just a few minutes. Somehow a few minutes turned into over 30 mintues with some turns and a lot of bumps. My cousin's husband later told us he was tracking our flight and he said we first made a left turn to Louisiana, then headed south down to Waxahachiem and back up to the airport. The landing was very bumpy with lots of turbulance. When we were finally on the ground the flight attendent told us she heard everything going on in the cockpit and she informed us it was a difficult landing. Yea, Texas! It's about time. Time to take in the beauty of the brown grass and bare trees...what is all of that white stuff doing in Texas?!?!

Once we made our way to the baggage claim I was able to check the many voice messages on my phone. Because of the freak blizzard my dad was unable to make it to the DFW airport. The furthest he made it was Cisco where he sat at a stand-still for over 2 hours. Because of the weather conditions I 20 was shut down and my dad had to turn around for Abilene. Thankfully my cousins live in Arlington, and all the family had come to visit them for Christmas. There was a message from my uncle letting me know they were on their way to pick us up. A trip which usually takes 20 minutes took an hour and a half due to the road conditions, traffic, and surprise road closures. While waiting we each ate a bag of chips to tide our massive hunger. Apparently we were not getting to Abilene this evening. The grain of gun powder grew to an overflowing cup.

When we reached my cousin's house my aunt hugged me saying, "I'm sorry I don't have red hair!" Thankfully pizza was waiting for us and we attacked. The next step was to figure out how to get to my parents. They had thought of flying us from Dallas to Abilene, but the soonest flight available was not until the next evening. The best choice was for us to rent a car and drive to Abilene. We were very, very thankful to my cousins for letting us crash for the night and then driving us on Christmas morning back to the airport to rent a car.

So now we had a mode of transportation. We started out on I 20. In the Dallas/Ft. Worth area the highway was perfectly fine. We were doing very well, until we came to a dead stop along with many other cars trying to get home for the holiday. Apparently an 18-wheeler went to fast and jack knived across the two lanes. We were stopped for about an hour until the police and firemen finally started directing traffice around the truck. During our drive my parents were keeping an eye on the traffic and road reports. I 20 was still closed from Ranger to Baird because of the 200 abandoned cars still on the road. We had to take a detour down to highway 36 which took a little more time. A trip that is usually around 2 1/2 hours took 5 1/2 hours. We made it to my parent's house after 2:00 on Christmas day. Over a day and a half of traveling. When we started our trip I kept thinking, just get us off the ground in Chicago and Iowa, we will be fine once we get to Texas. Perhaps I jinxed the trip. Or perhaps it was the 4 year old at my parents' church who asked Santa for a white Christmas. Either way it is a trip we will never forget.

I will soon post on the happy points of the Christmas vacation and the trip home.