Monday, April 30, 2012

Song of the Day: Friends We Wont Forget (Lee Brice)

This song has been playing on HEAVY rotation at my house ever since it came out last week.  Love it.

on life and living

Bad things happen every day.  Little kids die.  Beloved family members get cancer.  Families fall apart.

We walk through every day knowing that these things can happen to us, and crossing our fingers that they don't.  We look both ways when we cross the street.  We wear our seatbelts.  We eat healthy and we floss and we exercise.  All the while knowing that planes fall out of the sky, and cancer sneaks in and heart attacks hit. 

Everybody dies.

Every.  Body.  Dies.

The question isn't if, it's when.  Is it tomorrow?  Three weeks from Tuesday?  Sixty years from next March?  One of my favorite blogs asked the question a few weeks ago -  "what scares you most?" and I couldn't answer.  Thinking about death scares me a lot.  Thinking about my loved ones dying scares me even more.  

Death is the absolute.  It's happening.  In some ways, from the moment we take the first breath - we're dying.  Death is like the final punctuation on the end of the sentence that is our life.  A period or an exclamation point - it doesn't matter, really, the end is the end is the end.

Thinking about the things that could go wrong could make you go crazy.

So instead, we choose to ignore the possibilities.  To turn the other way and focus on LIFE and TODAY and NOW.  And if we do this in the right way, then even when we're gone, we're still here in some ways because of the impact we've made and the lives that we've touched.  And in this short fleeting life on earth, what more can we wish for.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

14) Visit CousinFriends as often as possible

I was lucky enough to visit Jenifer (and Christine!) this weekend in Bloomington, and I couldn't have had more fun.  Jen graduated today, and starts this fall at her 4th grade teaching gig.  Can't wait to visit her in the QC!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

on prom and dates and what that means

I went to both junior and senior prom.  I did go with dates, two guys that were more friend than boyfriend, but the fun was mostly about being at the dance with all of your friends.  Especially at this time of year, I think back on my two prom experiences and it brings a smile to my face.  I had a good time each year, and I'm very glad for having the prom experience.

High school dances are a right of passage for many kids and prom is the biggest of them all.  At my high school it was for juniors and seniors only, and I remember going to the Grand March to see the dresses and the flowers and was excited for when I would be one of them.

For Amanda Dougherty in Glenolden, Pennsylvania, the experience was much the same.  She was excited to go to her first high school prom, and had even begun preparations several months ago.  She had a dress, dance tickets, flowers and shoes.  She even had a date.

But when her date cancelled on her, her high school wouldn't allow her to go to the dance.  They said that a date was required for admittance to the dance:

The prom is an exciting event for students in all of our Archdiocesan high schools. We do have policies in place to regulate both the junior and senior prom. Unfortunately, not all students are able to attend. We can’t address specific issues with specific students but there are various reasons that a student would not be able to attend. Not having a date is one example. Our high schools offer numerous dances and events throughout the year where dates are not required, but we view the prom as a special social event where a date is required to attend.

No date = no prom.   And to be clear, this isn't a story pulled from 1953.  This is happening today, in 2012 America.

Archbishop John Carroll High School you are wrong.  For a high school to teach impressionable young people that they are not worthy of attending unless they have a date on their arm sends a message that you're not complete unless you have a partner.  In this instance, it explicitly tells girls - one girl in particular -  that she is not worthy of attending an event - sponsored and executed by her high school - without having a boy to take her.

On the Archbishop John Carroll High School website, the heading reads:

Teaching Gospel Values
Molding Character
Achieving Academic Excellence

This kind of "character" is not one I'd want molded in my teen.  What happened to teaching girls how to be strong and independent and not defined by - or beholden to - a guy?  What happened to teaching girls that they are complete as they are?

The fact that this is a Catholic high school irks me.  I know that the church has problems (a whole bucket of 'em if you ask me) but I have always thought that Catholic high schools are supposed to be... special?  My high school is not without critique, but overall, I felt like they got it right - helping people who need it, focus on learning and academics, friendship and faith.   But this high school?  If these are the kind of "gospel values", "character" or "excellence" that you want to teach - then I'll pass.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GPOYW: BaconFest Edition

This was obviously PRE Bacon-OD.  

Monday, April 23, 2012

Photo of the Day: Globe Pub Edition

Scott and I met up with some friends for drinks on Saturday night at a really interesting bar in Chicago, called the Globe Pub.  I've literally never seen a beer list as thick (and frankly overwhelming) as this one.  Hundreds and hundreds of beers and ciders.  

Happy Monday, ya'll!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Quote of the Day: Orville Wright Edition

I could spend hours in card stores.  I love cards that say something profound, I love quotations, and I love finding the perfect card for the perfect person.   Truthfully, I often find the perfect card for myself, which means i have a sizeable collection of cards that I'll likely never send out.

Scott and I were running errands today when we popped in to my favorite card shop, which sits about 3 blocks from my front door.  I had a number of cards to pick up, and got the below to add to my collection:

"Orville Wright didn't have a pilot license.  Go change the world".

(Also, whoops.  I recently replaced my five-year-old-being-held-together-with-rubberbands camera.  In an effort to learn the different settings and features, I turned on the black-and-white function... and then promptly couldn't figure out how to turn it off).

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Sam + Andy: Shower

Remember my friend Sam?  Her bridal shower was today and I thought I'd share a few highlight photos.  It was held at a Country Club in one of the Chicago suburbs, and it was so nice - perfect proximity to the city AND the burbs, perfect amount of games, perfect amount of champagne.  

partners in crime - katie + jennie
the NEARLY-wed game
other bridesmaids 
adorable place settings
gift opening
sisters of the groom
bride + groom with their moms
bride + mother of the bride
bride + groom!
Can't wait for their wedding... exactly three months from today!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Photos of the Day: Celebrity Sighting Edition

You guys.  I saw legit celebrities.

On Sunday, Scott and I hit Crate and Barrel right when they opened.  We had a ton of wedding gifts to scoop up, plus wanted to see if we could find any finishing touch-type accessories for our apartment.

I was looking around, when I spotted this scraggly guy with a huge, baggy sweats.  To be honest, he was kind of a mess.  But, he looked familiar and well, not bad looking.  And then I saw the girl he was with and it hit me.  JAY CUTLER was the hot mess.  And Kristin Cavalleri was the girl he was with.

(Sidebar - she is TINY.  And super pregnant.  If I had to guess, I'd say she'll be giving birth well before the first snap of the football season).

I like celebrities.  I really like celebrities.  I often joke that I live in the wrong town, because of how much I'd enjoy seeing random celebs on the streets.  So this completely made my day.

totally them.  the white car on the left was theirs.

(am i a creepy stalkerazzi yet? i think yes)

they then walked next door to "the land of nod".  i asked scott if i could follow them
in there but he strongly discouraged it.  thumbs down, husband.

and then they were off - in a toyota?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2) Finish our condo: Bedroom Edition

Our bedroom was basically the last room we decorated.  I don't think this was a conscious decision, exactly, but rather it just kind of fell to the wayside - no one really sees it, we don't hang out in it, and we weren't sure what we wanted to do with it.

We bought a bed stand three or four months ago, which we loved, and then added some fun throw pillows.   Last weekend we bought these bedside tables (we were using TV stands before) and now it's essentially done.  

When Scott was living in the South, we spent some time in Nashville (Nash-Vegas) and were drawn by a fun artist in the middle of a bar.  (Yes Scott was wearing a cowboy hat... anyway).

I'm kind of obsessed with our stripes.  Scott got the idea a few months ago, and one day I came home from work to find them on the wall.  (He mentioned it in passing to me, and since I didn't exert veto power, he made them happen.  I love them, but did not have the creativity to visualize how they would look).

Anyway, that was the great reveal!  Our condo is officially decorated!  Our next project is probably going to be one of the bathrooms.  Neither one is horrible, but both could use a little TLC.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

2) Finish our condo: Great Room Edition

I've shown you our guest room, closet, floors, and - obviously - kitchen.  Only three rooms remain, and for archive purposes, I'll reveal each in separate posts throughout the next few days.

First up - our "great" room!  (I'm calling it that because it's basically our main living area - combination of TV room, family room, den, office, dining room.... )

Sunday, April 15, 2012

BaconFest 2012

Scott bought tickets to Chicago's BaconFest 2012 several months ago, and we've been excited about it since.  A fest for Bacon?  We had to be there.

While I wear black 99% of the time, Scott, obviously, dressed accordingly.  Bacon does, obviously, make everything better.

The fest had everything you could possibly think of that involved bacon.  These were "bacon and eggs", which were actually bacon, white chocolate and a peanut M&M.

The atmosphere at the fest was very interesting.  The event actually sold out in three minutes (literally three MINUTES!).  Hundreds and hundreds of tickets sold, but while it was crowded, it wasn't uncomfortable.

Scott's shirt got a ton of attention.  Thirty seconds after I took the below photo, Scott was asked for his first (of close to a dozen!) photos.  Everyone wanted a picture of Scott and his shirt!

One of the main attractions at BaconFest was a bacon waffle.  These photos made me laugh out loud, because in both of these, Scott was posing (eyes OPEN) and I just so happened to snap each photo mid-blink.  (Sort of sums up our relationship, now that I think of it).

As in true Kate-style, my favorite bacon food involved... chocolate!  Here I am "digging" for chocolate bacon truffles:

There was also bacon cannolis and other delicious bacon sweet-treats:

And bacon BOOZE!  (Woot).  We each had six drink tickets with our admission ticket.  While we were waiting in line to enter the fest, Scott and I were predicting that each drink would cost a couple tickets, maybe two tickets for a beer and three for a bacon drink.  Nope - every drink was one ticket (and with as delicious as the bacon prosecco was, lets just say six was more than plenty...)

After an hour or so of wandering around (and tasting every bacon option that we could get our hands on that we wanted), we were very ready to take our drinks and sit for a second.  I love this picture of Scott.  Two words come to mind: Bacon and overdose.

And, one of the best parts - attendees were encouraged to bring cans and/or donate cash as a contribution to the Greater Chicagoland Food Deposit.  Did you know that 1 in every 8 Chicagoans is hungry?  What a horrible statistic.  At such a luxurious foodie event, it was nice to know that the people that really need it were benefitting.  ($50,000 plus over two tons of food was raised!)

I'd highly recommend BaconFest Chicago.  My biggest suggestion to any future attendees would be to eat strategically.  After having a taste of several different places, we were stuffed!  Spend the time that you're waiting for the doors to open by looking at your map and figuring out your "must eat" spots.  And come thirsty - lots of fabulous bev vendors.

Overall, A++!  Already looking forward to BaconFest 2013!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Photo of the Day: Michigan Avenue Flowers

90% of the time I avoid Michigan Avenue if at all possible.  It's crowded and many of the people walking down it are on vacation, and therefore living on vacation time and therefore not as rushed as yours truly.

But 10% of the time, I walk down it as often as possible - and that time of the year is here.

Gorgeous flowers - everywhere.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Photo of the Day: Perfect Night Edition

I do love going out, but there is something awesome about a rejuvenating and relaxing night in.  Last Saturday night, we stayed in with a bottle of Door County Apple Wine and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.  (Both totally lived up to the hype). 

(And lest you think I drank the entire bottle of vino, my darling was there too).

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

i've got his back

I LOVE the new Obama 2012 poster.  And for the record - I've got your back Mr. President.  You have my vote.

on Catholicism and women, growth and tradition

I was recently nudged to read an article by Maureen Dowd, New York Times Op-Ed columnist.  The article, "What Would Jesus Do at the Masters" was about, if I can boil it down to a sentence, the closed doors that women still face, highlighted by three examples: the Masters, sports in Saudi Arabia, and in the Catholic Church.

I'll be honest, until I read the article, I didn't know about the controversy surrounding women and Augusta National (women are forbidden).  And although I knew (kind of) about the way that women are treated in places like Saudi Arabia, I didn't even think about the way that the treatment of women and girls spilled over in to every single aspect of life (like sports, and the upcoming Olympics).

But the role of women in the Catholic Church?  That is something I know a thing or two about (or I think I do at least).

The role of women in the church has always been for the woman to be a "helper", a sidekick, an assistant.   In fact, the very first time that women are mentioned in the Bible, our role is spelled out:  "It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him a helper fit for him" (Genesis 2:18).  So that means that women were created to... keep men company?  Make sure they don't get too lonely?

The Bible's picture doesn't get a whole lot prettier for us girls.   "Women were left out of the picture or presented as stereotypes, as if all the women in the ancient world had been saints, whores, or invisible" (source).

And it doesn't get better in real life, nor in real life 2012.  To this day, women are second class citizens in the eyes of the Catholic Church.   That sounds dramatic, and it is.  But that doesn't make it any less true.

During the six months that Scott and I were actively taking part in the Catholic marriage preparation process, we had eight required meetings with a male (duh) Catholic Priest.  Five of those were one-on-one (er, two-on-one as we met with him together, as a couple), and we also participated in three day-long group seminar.  During this time, we were assigned hundreds of pages of reading, some of which covered the roles of wives and husbands within successful Catholic unions.  I was personally told that it was "wifely" to "subordinate" myself to Scott - but no worries, it would all work out fine because it would be his job to "worship" me.  Ummm.  Thanks, but no thanks?  Though the bulk of marriage prep was positive and beneficial to us as an engaged couple, there were a number of moments where I looked at Scott in disbelief, thinking that surely I hadn't heard correctly.  It was 2011, right, and not 1941? This wasn't some old fashioned book that they were reading from as a joke, right?  But it wasn't a joke, and that's probably good, because I don't find it very funny.

I've long wondered why women can't become Catholic Priests.  The literal role of Priests is to act in persona Christi Capiti, or in the person of Christ, and I simply can't comprehend why women can't do it.  I'm genuinely curious - can anyone offer an explanation?  It seems to me that in this day and age - especially with the ongoing shortage of Catholic Priests! - that it is at the very least irrational not to allow women to hold that special role.  And even more than that - it's sexist.  (Actually, I don't think the Church could disagree with the notion of it being sexist, since the definition of sexism is discrimination based on sex, and that's the exact rationale).

The standard answer from the Church (and the one I was given by the Priest leading the marriage prep last year ) was that because Jesus' disciples were men, so Priests should also be men.

Up until the second or third centuries, women were able to do "at least priestly functions, if not to ordination".  According to the article, these people were called "heretics" because it "wasn't what Christ willed, and it's against apostolic teaching".  (Source).  Until 1976 the language remained kind of ambivalent.  Women still weren't ordained, but it wasn't until that year that an official declaration came out of the Vatican.  Those early Catholics, they said, "immediately censured this step, judging it a novelty which should on no account be accepted into the Church."

So, to summarize - women have never been allowed to be Catholic Priests... and because they have never been Priests, that makes it a tradition.  And the Church wants to maintain the tradition.

To me, it seems so obvious: this circular logic acts as an un-questionable, un-changeable, self-fulfilling declaration.

But at what cost?

Sometimes the Catholic faith is called the "Catholic Tradition", and that's a pretty fitting term.  The history associated with the Catholic Tradition is important, and a deep part of the Catholic legacy, but I can't help but think that the Church is becoming less and less relevant - or at least less influential - with each passing year.

The number of Catholic Marriages has fallen by 1/3 since 1965.

In 1958, 3 out of 4 Catholics attended weekly Mass.  Today, 1 in 4 do.

Almost half of all Catholic high schools have closed over the past 45 years.

By 2020, there will be only 31,000 Catholic Priests in the US, and half will be over 70.

For Catholics, the numbers are grim, and maybe a little scary.  With a population that is literally dwindling in both size and devotion, I believe the time has come to modernize.  Are 2,000 year old principles enough to stand on if you're standing alone?  There are many ways in which the Church could (should!) re-emerge in today's world, but I recognize that most of them are probably impossibly closed to change (the right of women over their own body and gay rights, to name just two).  Allowing women to become Priests is small in gravity and importance to the Tradition, and huge in both symbolism and modernization.  Perhaps more importantly, it would be a sign to all kinds of Catholics - both the devout and the lapsed - that the Catholic Church is just like us: a fallible, living and breathing organism, focused on growth, expansion, and - yes - tradition.

GPOYW: Giant Success Edition

Photo snagged from my unbelievable MOH CER - her caption was "GIANT SUCCESS"

I gotta say, this is one of my favorite photos of all time.  It was taken the day after my wedding, after one of the final guests left our "Newlywed Brunch".  My parents and I just looking at each other like, "holy crap... we did it!"  I was simply exhilarated - all the work was over, and the results were better than I ever could have imagined.

There's so much else going on in this photo.  My supportive parents wearing my wedding colors, me looking like the cat who got the canary (or in my case, my dream wedding, dream husband, dream family).  The rain on the concrete that cleared up just in time for the brunch.  Just a spectacular way to end a spectacular weekend.

(Sick of wedding posts yet?  Sorry I'm not sorry!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Book Review: Heaven is Here

Last year, I used the remaining money on a gift card to pre-order Stephanie Nielson's memoir, Heaven is Here.

Stephanie Nielson is probably more famous as NieNie, the author of a popular Mormon Motherhood blog, documenting her life as a stay-at-home mom.  Here is a brief description:

Nielson... had her happy life, with four children, her husband, Christian, and the daily adventures of life. She skied, taught yoga and was an avid runner.

Then, in a plane crash in August 2008, she was burned on more than 80 percent of her body and Christian on 40 percent of his.

In her memoir, "Heaven Is Here" (Voice, $23.99), she honestly, tenderly and poignantly describes the trials, faith, lessons and the joys of small yet significant triumphs through her steady recovery.

Anyway, when I ordered the book last Fall, I was told the book would arrive on my doorstep the day it was released.  Well, it didn't.  Or the day after that (can you tell I was a little irritated?  Thanks Amazon).  Anyway, the book arrived on Friday, and I finished it less than 24 hours later.  I flew through it, and not just because I'm a fast reader.  Even though I read her blog - and knew how it was going to end!  - I could not wait to read each page.

The primary takeaway was one of inspiration and the power of the human spirit.  She was burned over 80 percent of her body - 80 percent.  Her husband was burned over 40 percent.  The pages dedicated to her recovery were so sad and hard to read - and they were real!  She lived them - being unable to feed herself or go to the bathroom by herself or see her children.  But she put one foot in front of the other, and on the one year anniversary of her plane crash, she hiked her old route.

The other thing that floored me was her family.  I don't even know how to put it - her family is just spectacular.  Her siblings signed up to take shifts to sit by her bedside during her four month hospital stay so that she wouldn't have to be alone at night.  Her sisters took her four children in to their homes and raised them for the months that the Nielson's were hospitalized.  It was really great to read.  (But you know what?  The whole time I was reading, I was thinking that my family would do those things too.  Rank Rally!)

It was a great read.  It's strange that I'm so intrigued by her - she's only three years older than me, but has been married for about a decade and has 5 children.  She doesn't have a college degree (she didn't want to go to college, instead opting to become a wife and mother more quickly), and she's a huge supporter of Mitt Romney.  Maybe that explains my fascination - she's my opposite.

One thought in closing - if anyone (Jen perhaps?) would like to borrow my book, I think it'd make great summer reading!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Recipe: Special Salsa

Scott and I made the most delicious homemade salsa this weekend.  It was based on a Rick Bayless recipe, and turned perfectly - fresh, spicy, and delicious.

1/2 lime
1/2 a clove of garlic
5-6 tomatillos
1/3 of a white onion
1 serrano chile
1 avocado
1 teaspoon of sea salt

First, roast the garlic and the chile.  Then remove them from their blackened skins.  Then put the roasted chile and roasted garlic in to a blender with the rinsed tomatillos avocado and the lime.  Blend to a creamy consistency.

Chop the onion (to taste, I like onion so we used 1/3), and then put in a strainer.  Rinse.  Mix in to the salsa.

One tip - we actually used 1 whole lime and the result was pretty tart.  I'd probably cut that in half the next time we make this (my recommended amounts are above).