Saturday, July 26, 2008

Callie and Adam's Wedding

Saturday July 25th was a truly momentous day as we celebrated the marriage of my younger (and only) sister, Callie Andrus, to the man of her dreams, Adam Wilhoit. They were married at a quiet spot overlooking the ocean in Anacortes, Washington (part of the San Juan islands). The heavens must have been smiling because you couldn't have asked for a more gorgeous day. As you can imagine, Callie was a beautiful, blushing bride and Adam was dashing as always. (If you don't believe me, just check out the pictures.)

Brooklyn and Talia were cute as ever in their fairy-tale dresses. They were so excited to be flower girls--even if they did get somewhat lost and distracted going down the aisle. The guests ended up having to steer Talia most of the way, while Brooklyn turned around and started going back at one point! The real cheers go to my mother who sewed the flower girl dresses, all of the bridesmaid dresses, and even a matching dress for Zoe the pug.

While Washington may not really be on the way to many places, I was amazed to see how much family came to support Callie and Adam as they start their new life together. Much of my mother's family came from New York, as well as five of my father's siblings and their spouses. Callie and Adam, you sure are loved!

From the pictures, it's easy to see why we love them so much. Adam, any man who is willing to invite our two little munchkins to share in the wedding dancing is just the kind of guy we're delighted to have in the family.

While the happy couple is currently honeymooning in Costa Rica, we'll go ahead and send our congratulations to them both.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Degree That Never Ends

After a very busy past couple of weeks, I'm finally coming up for air. I just submitted my final project for my last MATESL course (ESL teaching), which means I should be all done, right?

Wrong. This feels like the degree that never ends. Three years ago I completed a graduate certificate in TESOL at BYU and thought that I was all done. When it came time to actually look for a job, however, I realized that most of the jobs I was interested in required an MA, so it was back to school at UIUC.

When April rolled around, I felt like I was done again when I passed my comprehensive exams. Still, I endured through final course exams in May.

Even though I had mentally checked out by this point and was dreaming of mortar boards, I still had one more elective class. And so, I've endured an intensive month of an online course through Curriculum and Instruction, participated in the virtual classes, and submitted my final project.

It sure feels like I ought to be done! But alas, even though 90% of the course grade has been submitted, there's still a measly reflection paper that can't be completed until I do the thing to be reflected upon--which can't happen until the end of August. Talk about anti-climactic!

Maybe this is what they mean by perpetual education...

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Brooklyn: Give me some juice.
Mom: What do you say?
Brooklyn (annoyed): Please.
Mom: Put it in a sentence.
Brooklyn: No, put it in a sippy cup.

Mom: Guess what, Brooklyn?
Brooklyn: What?
Mom: I love you!
Brooklyn: Can we go to McDonalds?

A conversation overheard on the playground between Brooklyn's friend and her Mom:
Friend: Brooklyn's trying to trick me!
Friend's Mom: What happened?
Friend: Brooklyn told me that her tummy's hard, but it's really soft and squishy.

What can I say? She comes by it honestly. :)

Sacrificing for Baguettes and Brie

I thought I'd provide a quick update on our France adventures, in case anyone's interested.

First of all, we bought plane tickets! The date of departure: September 8th, one week after Labor Day. We've handed in our 60-day notice.

Buying the tickets really was an act of faith since we're not certain the visas will come through in time. I've had quite the stymieing introduction to French bureaucracy in getting the paperwork together, including obtaining certified and notarized translations of birth certificates, marriage licenses, diplomas, etc. I've given myself migraines trying to translate phrases such as "I hereunto set my hand affixed seal" and "security features of this document include: intaglio border, V&R images in the top cycloids, ultra violet fibers and hologram image." In the end, we finally ended up hiring a professional translator who edited our feeble attempts and set her own seal of approval upon the documents.

Other news: a real estate agent in Lyon is on the hunt looking for a suitable apartment for us! This may not sound like a big deal, but we've been told by numerous sources that it's virtually impossible to secure housing in France without being there in person. Fortunately, we are incredibly blessed to have a church "family" that is looking out for us. We e-mailed the ecclesiastical leader (stake president) in Lyon, who responded within an hour and told us that he would pass our information along to the three leaders of the local congregations (bishops.) Shortly thereafter we were contacted by this realtor in Lyon who served an LDS mission in the British Isles twenty-five years ago. Leaving behind the comfort of home and family is very scary for me, but I feel peace and comfort knowing that where ever we go, we will have a church family to welcome us.

The sad news: we turned down our first apartment today. Our real estate agent found an apartment that was positively ideal in terms of location--a five minute walk from Lyon's gorgeous central park and a five minute walk to the metro. Unfortunately, it was a bit out of our budget. We're also learning that "unfurnished" in Europe means completely unfurnished--no fridge, no stove, no cupboards--nothing! Considering that the entirety of all our belongings will fit neatly into six suitcases plus a few carry-ons, this next year could be extremely interesting. I've always thought that beds were highly overrated anyway...

In the meantime, I've started an intense crash course in French 102 that meets for four hours a day, four days a week for the next three weeks. We've got quite the family juggling act going since I'm in class from 8-12, Jason has studio class from 1-5, plus I've got an online elective class that meets from 5-7 on the one day I don't take French. I keep reminding myself that it will all be worth it when we're chewing on baguettes and brie a couple months from now.

If anyone wants to visit, there will be plenty of open floor.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Jiving in June

It's been a while since we've blogged so I thought I'd catch everyone up with a photo journey of the past few weeks.

Shady Camping
First of all, camping! Despite mighty rainfall and rampant flooding in the midwest, we gathered up enough courage to go camping at Indiana's Shades State Park, close to Turkey Run. The park was beautiful--we highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new spot to explore. We had tons of fun with Jason's siblings, and felt fortunate to draw upon Justin's brilliance when he used the battery powered mattress pump to blow air on the fire when the dry wood wouldn't light. Med school must be paying off!

As far as the wildlife goes, we were glad to avert any additional battles with the ticks. Even so, we did have some more interesting experiences with a brazen raccoon that had the audacity to literally hang around the campsite in broad daylight. It was hard to get mad at the little bugger because it was so darn little and cute. I guess that's how my own kids must get away with so much!

Jason's Adventures in Modeling
For Jason, the laid-back, relaxed pace of camping quickly gave way to super-intense days of architectural design and modeling when he began his summer studio class. The following pictures show one of the latest concept models his group has designed. As you can see, when it comes to architecture, he eats it up...

Fat Man's Squeeze

Later in June, we were really fortunate to have both my sister and father come visit. It was fabulous to see Callie before she takes the big plunge on July 19th and gets married to the man of her dreams, Adam Wilhoit. Thanks Adam, for sharing her!

We used the daddy-daughter time to revisit some family haunts from our growing up childhood years in southern Illinois. The most hilarious venture was trying to work our way through "Fat Man's Squeeze"--an eighteen-inch crack that ascends up a rock cliff for about two hundred feet in Giant City State Park. As young girls, we used to shimmy our way through Fat Man's Squeeze with no trouble at all. I have vivid elementary-school memories of snickering at all of the adults who got stuck, with oversized adventurers occasionally having to be rescued by the fire department. Well, this latest revisiting of Fat Man's Squeeze definitely offered a different perspective. Let's just say that my 4'10" ninety-something pound sister really had to suck it in to make her way through. I survived the ordeal, but barely! In our supersize society, you don't have to be very hefty to get trapped by Fat Man's Squeeze!

Here are a couple pictures of us in Giant City State Park. In one of them, Papa Kay is helping Brooklyn with a makeshift potty. Grandfatherly love is defined by the moments where you hunch over for ten minutes, waiting for your granddaughter to relax enough to relieve herself...

Our trip to Southern Illinois would not have been complete without a trip to the Dairy Queen that we regularly frequented in Carterville, Illinois. It's still there and looks remarkably unchanged from the first time I visited it 25 years ago. The Dilly Bars are still in a freezer at the front, you still order fries to the side, and the saloon style swinging doors into the bathroom corridor seem to still have the same stick that I left on them two decades ago...

And of course, my sister is still as annoying and obnoxious as ever. Isn't it nice to know that some things never change? :)