Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: A Year in Review

I truly didn't know if 2009 could ever be topped, but 2010 came darn close.

Two of my favorites moved to Chicago.

Several great people found true love.

I went to many Chicago games with really great people.

Scott and I inched our way closer to being married.

I feel so lucky that you read my blog. Thank you.

Summer Sister

2007 was a big year for me.

I graduated from college, became financially independent, and moved out of Iowa.

When I decided to move to Chicago, I had no idea what to do or where to live.

(Enter the Ranks).

My aunt and uncle kindly agreed to let me live with them, and live I did.

It was the best summer I've ever had.

Part of the reason it was so awesome was because I got to live with my cousin Jenifer - my summer sister.

She is one of the funniest, nicest, coolest people I have ever met.

Do you like funnym nice and cool?

I thought so. She just started a blog, and I suspect it's going to be fabulous.

Like her.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Five Months


(I may or may not have picked this picture because I'm obsessed with the tights I was wearing... No shame).

Monday, December 27, 2010

Marriage Monday: Excitement Edition

I've blogged twice recently about things that make me nervous about living with Scott.

To be clear, I am also very excited.

... I get to cut my monthly rent in half. And, I get to live with my best friend.

(And not in that order).

Finally.

To be honest, a part of me wanted to start living with Scott when he moved home to Chicago this summer. And, to be even more honest, we discussed it at length. After living in different cities (states, too) for almost three years, being able to spend so much time together was a very appealing idea. I missed him like crazy. On top of that, saving money on rent and utilities was also a consideration.

So, yeah - living with my best friend was very compelling.

I can list out reasons for couples like us to not live together: religious standards, family reactions, being a good example for my brothers and Scott's siblings.

Eventually, it came down to one thing: it didn't feel right for us. Since we aren't living together, it does make me very, very excited to get to. On May 29th, we will leave Iowa after our wedding and drive home - to our home - for the first time.

So yes, the excitement? It's there, too.

(And not just for the party trolley).

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'til his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more" - Dr. Seuss

Friday, December 24, 2010

So this is Christmas

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.

I'm not quite Ebeneezer, but I truly don't relish finding the perfect gift for 17 of my nearest and dearest, or eating yet another chocolate-y, sugar-y treat. Carolers make me batty, and hot cocoa isn't my thing.

But.

I like twinkle-lights and I love my family:


For three days this week, all seven of us will be under one roof (my favorite roof) and I couldn't be happier.

Because even though there are bound to be moments when we fight about who-knows-what (probably this or this) there will also be memories made, and laughs shared, and hours spent together.

So at the risk of sounding cheese-y, let me just say that my wish for me is the same as my wish for you, a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Showered

This weekend, three of my favorite women (my cousins Anne and Jane, and my aunt/Godmother Liz) through threw me a bridal shower.


And let me say, I was SHOWERED.

With presents, love, and support.


I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I am so lucky to be in this family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

GPOYW: Santa Edition

Merry Christmas!

(Santa looks suspiciously like one of my favorite blog readers... anyone else see it?)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Quote of the Day

"A ship in the harbor is safe.... but that's not why ships are built" - Anon

Best Surprise Ever

I have the best friends and family.

I feel incredibly lucky.

Six months before my wedding day, one of my amazing maids-of-honor and and one of my amazing personal attendants (follow me here) sent me this:


(The arrangement was actually significantly bigger, but I didn't think to take a photo until much of it had been devoured consumed).


I am a spoiled brat (you already knew that) so I'm having two beautiful and smart maids-of-honor and personal attendants. (Lucky me!) One half of each happen to be sisters. (Ranks, too). They sent me the nicest, sweetest, most thoughtful gift I have ever received a few weeks ago.

(But because I am a bad blogger, you're only now hearing about it).

Christine and Jen, what would I do without you?

Thank you for the delicious surprise. And thank you for being two of my best people.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tis the Season

... of too much cinnamin, sugar cookies and holiday parties

... just enough family time, celebrations and red nail polish

... and not enough twinkle-lights, photo-taking or blogging

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Quote of the Day

"This is what you shall do: be loyal to what you love, be true to the Earth, and fight your enemies with passion and laughter" - Edward Abbey

Monday, December 13, 2010

#24 - Learn a new word

Milquetoast: a bland, weak or ineffectual person.

(I feel like I should write more on this to make it a legit post, but, well, that's all I have to say. Hopefully this doesn't make me milquetoast).

Thursday, December 9, 2010

on Elizabeth

Like most people, I am no stranger to cancer.

My paternal grandmothers (note the plural), my mother's college roommate, my uncle and Godfather, Scott's grandfather. A million friends-of-friends. I am familiar with cancer survivors, - and, yes, cancer deaths.

I've never met her, but I would have liked to. Across the television, Elizabeth Edwards seemed to be a quietly confident woman, perhaps guarded and cautious, but stubbornly poised. I admired her education and career, her children, and - yeah - her marriage.

Until I didn't admire her husband anymore.

To be honest, her personal devastation and the destruction of her marriage made me admire her more, as a human. Her answer, when infamously asked if she was still in love with John ("It's complicated") is such a remarkable moment. The way that she handled herself in public after her husbands public affair is a feat of - I dunno - gumption maybe? I wouldn't have blamed her if she would have smeared him from Washington to North Carolina and back. But of course, she didn't.

It's kind of strange that we all knew of her diagnosis, her medicial secrets, without knowing the real Elizabeth. While the world knew that her prognosis was not good, there was something about her that made me think she would survive, that she could beat this. Was it her resolve? Her poise? Her strength? I can't put my finger on it, but if anyone could "stand up to cancer", surely it would have been her.

But that's the problem with cancer: it's the bully that no one can stand up to, no one is safe from.

But Elizabeth, if I can be bold enough to say, didn't expect to control it. I read a quote by her tonight (apparantly from one of her books) and it's succinct, beautiful and epitaph-esque:

"I do know that when [my children] are older and telling their own children about their grandmother, they will be able to say that she stood in the storm, and when the wind did not blow her way –and it surely has not–she adjusted her sails".

Her list of storms is lengthy: She lost her 16 year old son. She was diagnosed with terminal, incurable cancer. Her husband made mockery of her marriage, and publicly humiliated her and her children.

And she adjusted her sails - living life - and death - her way.

Here's to you, Elizabeth. And here's to adjusting the sails.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Thanksgiving Recap

As some of you may know, I hosted (!!) Thanksgiving this year. While I had tons of help from my parents, I still PREPARED THE TURKEY BY MYSELF:


I named him Fred.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

on Family

I am a Democrat in a family of Republicans.

(Not everyone, but a vocal majority).

I am a critical cafeteria Catholic in a family of Catholic-y Catholics.

(And some amazing Lutherans!)

I am the sole Bear, mixed in with Packers and Vikings.

The differences used to annoy me - to chew up my insides in a way that really stopped me from becoming real actual friends with a lot of "them". But in the past four months, we have had three + family functions, and it has actually forced the family togetherness in a way that I didn't feel before July, and to be honest - it intrigues me.

Because this family of mine? The one that I sometimes want to punch in the schnoz? They are really great.

Sure, I roll my eyes at some of them, sometimes.

(Usually the same someones multiple times).

But I bet they roll their eyes at me, too.

(Probably for saying this. Or this).

But the bottom line is that especially at this time of year, at this time in my life - family matters.

I am so lucky to be in this family. So lucky to call the Ranks my friends, and so lucky that a few Ranks read this blog.

(And so lucky that a few other Rank's don't).

(Wink).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quote of the Day: Inspiration Edition

"You all know that I have been sustained throughout my life by three saving graces – my family, my friends, and a faith in the power of resilience and hope. These graces have carried me through difficult times and they have brought more joy to the good times than I ever could have imagined. The days of our lives, for all of us, are numbered. We know that. And, yes, there are certainly times when we aren't able to muster as much strength and patience as we would like. It's called being human" - Elizabeth Edwards

Marriage Monday: Cohabitation Edition

I'm very particular about how I like my stuff.

I prefer my hand towels perfectly arranged, I cannot handle clean dishes remaining in the dishwasher, and I put my shoes away in their proper home in the closet as soon as they come off my feet.

(For example).

Scott... well, he isn't like this.

At all.

I feel very fortunate that we've had these past seven or eight months of living in the same town, because this has certainly opened our (his) eyes to our (my) idiosyncrasies.

But what happens when we live in the same space?

Stay tuned.... I'll let you know in about six months.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

#22) Face a Fear

As I mentioned last week, my cousin David got married last weekend. At his wedding my family dominated part of the dance floor for the. entire. night. It was both amazing and insane.

The bride and groom had hired a band, which isn't what I am doing - but let me tell you - this band was unbelievably good.

They also had a thing for calling people on stage to dance, sing and humiliate.

... LIKE ME.

Seriously, consider this the accomplishment of #22. It was terrifying (that is why my head was down in every piece of photographic evidence).

It was both terrifying and the best MOMENT OF MY ENTIRE LIFE.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Viagra Triangle

Just found this photo buried in a summer 2010 album. There is a hidden little nook in the middle of Chicago's Viagra Triangle that looks pretty from this angle, don't you think?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Bear Down

On Sunday Scott and I were (BEYOND) lucky enough to attend the Chicago Bears vs. Philadelphia Eagles game at Soldier Field.

It. Was. AMAZING.

While I am not a fan of Michael Vick the person, Michael Vick the football-er was sure fun to watch.

MANY thanks to D-Man for the hook-up!!!

"Bear down, Chicago Bears, make every play lead the way to victory,
Bear down, Chicago Bears, put up a fight with a might so fearlessly.
We'll never forget the way you thrilled the nation, with the T-Formation!
Bear down, Chicago Bears, and let them know why you're wearing the crown.
You're the pride and joy of Illinois, Chicago Bears, Bear down!"
- Chicago Bears, fight song

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

GPOYW: Moose Lodge Edition

What, you've never partied in a Moose Lodge?!

David + Melissa: November 27, 2010

My cousin David got married last weekend, and it was amazing fun.

Ranks danced for hours straight, lots of cocktails were consumed, and an awesome time was had.


Congratulations, David & Melissa!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

JenKate


I went to a horse race a week or two ago, and there was a horse named JenKate! I think we all know which one I bet on....

Monday, November 29, 2010

Marriage Mondays: Me Time

I'll confess, I'm a bit of a home-body.

After a long day, sometimes the only comforting thought is the idea of Blair Waldorf, freshly painted nails, and my couch.

(Loser!)

What happens once your married? Do you get to do that anymore? Consider that Scott and I will most likely be living in an apartment the size of many people's garages. I'm nervous that some days all I will want is to veg out, paint my nails some horrendous shade of hot pink, give myself a face-mask and hibernate.

Can you still do that when you're married? Will Scott have to develop a Chuck Bass man crush? Do I need to permanently give up bad tv and me time?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Six Months

Six months from today, I become someone's wife. I gain a husband, and another family.

If there is anything that Marriage Prep has re-enforced, it's the magnitude of what I am preparing to do. I'm about to get married, to create a new family. I'm not just starting a new page, or a new chapter - I'm starting a completely new book.

I've been engaged for over 15 months, now, so I'm no spring chicken in the engagement scene. In many ways, this has been a challenge, to put it mildly. I'll be honest - we are eager to live together, to start our lives together, and yes - just about ready to be finished with wedding planning.

But I'm not complaining. I'm only going to be engaged once in my whole life, and I am trying to focus on this, to really understand what I'm doing - what we're doing - and to enjoy the process. To enjoy the anticipation of most beautiful dress I've ever seen, and to ignore the fact that it costs more than a month's rent. But it is easy to get wrapped up in it all: chicken or beef? videographer or photographer? That stuff is important, sure, and you want it to be perfect, but it pales to what is really important.

And what's really important, to me, is that on May 29th and May 30th and every day thereafter, I get to spend my life with him.

Even though I'm very prepared, very excited, and very deliberate in my decision, there are certainly things that I am more excited about than others. Every week, from now until the wedding, I will be highlighting what I'm nervous about, excited for, or planning on. Let's call it Marriage Monday's, shall we? (C'mon, every blog needs some cheese-y labels, right?)

And in the meantime - well, I am dwelling in the details. And I am not complaining one bit.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

thankful for:
- crazy fun brothers
- parents that love each other and us more than anything else
- a guy that i love, also loving me
- an extended family, many of whom are also friends
- a job, my health, my life

here is wishing you there an equally thankful day.

Monday, November 22, 2010

on Christine

Everyone should have a Christine in their life.

Someone who will let you blab on for hours on end about wedding plans, fashion options, politics, sports, and family gossip (wink).

And someone who will send you cookies, right when you needed them. (And when your team beat hers, double wink).


Christine, you are the best. I am so lucky to have you as my friend and cousin. Welcome to the 26 club!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Catholicism and My Questions - Round One

I have a few questions about Catholicism. I suppose they are hypothetical questions, although by all means if an answer is out there feel free to point me in the right directions.

1) Many times, people who believe a marriage can only be between a man and a woman often utilize Bible teachings to drive home their point. "But the Bible says it's wrong!" That IS a strong argument. The Bible says "You shall not lie with a man as one lies with a female; it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).

Wow, that is strong. Not just "bad" but an "abomination". Hard to misinterpret.

But. If we want to follow the Bible in this instance, should we not follow it in every instance? For example, the Bible (actually the same book within the Bible) also tells us to avoid polyester (Leviticus 19:19), football (Leviticus 11:8), tattoos/piercings (Leviticus 19:28). Why is it that "we" are so willing to overlook the ban on playing with footballs or getting our ears pierced, but not overlook Leviticus 18:22 as incorrect or dated?

Simply put, I find it hypocritical to use the Bible when it suits an argument, and ignore it when it doesn't.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lyrics of the Day

life is good today
- zac brown band, toes

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day

I am pretty sure that being in the military is the most important job there is.

Farmers give us food, physicians keep us healthy, but the military - they keep us free.... and with the potential for such a high price.

I am very thankful for all veterans, past and present. We are lucky to have you.

Lyrics of the Day

drive until the city lights
dissolve into a country sky
just me and you
- zac brown band, free

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quote of the Day

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" - Dr. Carl Sagan

I know I speak a lot about things that the Catholic Church does wrong (in my humble opinion) but remember when I talked about God? I still feel the same.

Marriage Prep: Recap Two

On Sunday we had our third (and final) day of our marriage prep retreat. This week, the focus was on the family, and the "preservation" of the family. Below are my highlights - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First, the good: Surprisingly, I loved it. Though they preached Natural Family Planning, and discussed why (and I quote) "Planned Parenthood is a product of Satan", the other components were pretty awesome. They talked about how the Birth Control Pill actually works (the science behind how it works and what it does to the female body) and how the Creighton Method (the endorsed form of Natural Family Planning) works in comparison. If you're interested in learning about the Creighton Method, feel free to have a look. I found it fascinating.

I think the reason I found it so interesting was because they really highlighted the science behind the method, rather than the morality behind it. It's easier to buy in to something when there is a concrete rationale behind it, in my opinion.

Now, the bad. The had an ethics "expert" discussing conciousness, morality and ethics and how they play a role within our lives. Essentially, she argued that our consciousness is formed - by society, what we see on TV, what our parents teach us, and, "if you let it" by the Church. She said that many times our morals get out of whack because we allow societal acceptability to seep in, and push the Church out. She specifically used gay marriage as an example of one way that people's morality gets messed up, saying that many people think gay marriage is ok because society says it is, and we listen to them too much.

The ugly: they said that (again, a quote): "Motherhood is a defininig characteristic of femininity". That really bothered me. I can think of multiple examples of really wonderful women, shining examples of femininity, that aren't also mothers. I am not a mother... does that mean I'm not feminine? That kind of sentiment seems to say that a woman isn't a complete being until (unless) she has a child.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ohhh hey there

Sorry for my radio silence over the past few days. Blame it on a slue (how do you spell slue?) of busy days, and really, not having anything interesting to say.


But now, I'm back. Get ready.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bright Lights

One of my favorite things about the winter (and one of the only pleasant things, IMO) are the holiday lights.




On my walk home last night I discovered that they have recently been added to the trees lining my street.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

My favorite things: Apartment Edition

(Throw pillows, fabric found at a Minneapolis department store, and created with loooove by my mama)
(my "warm and fuzzy" card collection, with cards sent to me by my two favorite Jenifers)

(photo wall... this translates poorly in a photo, but it's two vertical black and white wedding pictures: my grandparents from August 1947, and my parents from August 1997)

(My University of Iowa ceramic coasters)


(my hallway closet, the only portion of my apartment in which clutter is allowed)


(wine rack)

(penguin humidifier)


I love my apartment.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bear Down


Perhaps da Bears can take inspiration from this monster, one of the LP Zoo inhabitants.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Quote of the Day

"i think if everone who was gay came out, the world would be a much different place" oprah, with ricky martin

GPOYW: Cousinfriends Edition


THIS SUMS IT ALL UP.