Yesterday I swear I saw a snowflake. I stood at the window for about five minutes afterwards just to make sure I wasn't going loony. Unfortunately, I must be going loony, because there was no snow. (Thank goodness.) But since the weather is getting just a bit too nippy for my taste, I decided that we had better get out of here and go someplace warm for a while to prolong our summer while we can.
So with passports in hand and bags (almost) packed, Lexi and I are taking a vacation.
If you need us, we'll be mostly unavailable and hanging out with the grandparents and the young aunties eating tacos and speaking espanol in the grand cement city of 30 million peeps.
I am currently reading The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne. If you haven't read it, it is a book that challenges the typical American Christian and calls people who love Jesus to actually start living out the gospel instead of just believing it. Following Jesus is more than a belief system. It is a way of life. And it involves more than not swearing or lying or demanding that you go to church. It is about loving Jesus so much that you are compelled to love your neighbors - the least of these - and compelled to break out of our "Christian" box and actually start living like one. It's not really all that perfect, actually. Definitely not glamorous. But it IS beautiful and FULL of joy!
As I look at my life, I think that many of us are stuck inside this box of what our culture tells us it means to be a Christian instead of really looking at Jesus's life and listening to what he has to say about it. We stay in our box and think we are doing just fine, while we are actually missing out on a whole lot of fun and joy if we would just get out and explore a little. If you want to deepen your relationship with God and truly learn to love your neighbor as yourself, it is a good read (after the Bible of course). And now that the infomercial is done, I will share some pictures that Alexandria thought would help illustrate my point. Of being stuck in the box, that is.
1. Walked into Alexandria's room and found her looking at me like this.
2. If you haven't already guessed, Alexandria has become a rolling fool in the past week. She rolls everywhere. She has also discovered that she can grab her toys while on her tummy. It's amazing to me how fast she is developing! While I love how fast she is growing, sometimes I just want my little snuggly little lump of a newborn back.
3. Eric comes home from his photo shoot in Rhode Island tonight! Not only that, but we are actually going on a date (without the baby) on Friday for the first time since Alexandria was 6 weeks old. (She's 17 weeks now, so yeah, you get the picture of how long it's been.) It has nothing to do with not wanting to leave our daughter with a babysitter. Eric has just been SO busy these past two months that we haven't been able to go anywhere. (He's still just as busy as before, but I just bribed him to take me out this time.)
4. I am going to Mexico in 12 days! The baby and I are flying out to visit my family in Mexico City. It will be no fun being away from Eric, but I get to eat tacos and bask in the Mexican sun/ smog. So there.
5. Pandora Radio. Eric surprised me with some speakers for my little Netbook the other day and I have had sweet tunes filling the apartment ever since.
6. I started a new drawing. And I am really excited about it.
7. I'm baking chocolate swirl bread with some leftover homemade chocolate frosting (that Eric made). It's just butter and sugar and chocolate baked into bread dough so it can't be too bad, right?
8. A Fine Frenzy. LOVE HER VOICE!!! So does Lexi.
9. My childhood friend Lynn is now going to North Park and comes over to hang out with me twice a week. Times like these make me never want to leave Chicago.
10. Meeting Shane Claiborne in person (he spoke on campus last week) and reading The Irresistible Revolution. I am leaving Christianity to follow Jesus.
I know. CRAZY. A little unbelievable and completely unlike me. Go ahead. Say it. So if you are in the dark right now, here is a little history about me. I HATE casseroles. I started cooking when I was very young simply because I didn't want my mom to make another casserole ever EVER again. She said that if I cooked the meal, I could choose not to make a casserole. So I started cooking. A lot. And I discovered I LOVE cooking, and never ever EVER cooked a casserole. I also avoided eating one whenever possible. And the best part is that my mom stopped making casseroles as well since we found much tastier concoctions to sup on.
So, how did I come to actually cook one? The infamous Betty Crocker tricked me. She tricked me! First of all, it was called Chicken Tetrazzini. Second of all, the picture looked fabulous! Third, I had all of the ingredients. And fourth, there was nothing in the recipe about sprinkling breakfast cereal on the top of it or dumping in a gelatinous mass of cream of mushroom soup.
I only started realizing I may have been tricked when the recipe told me to mix all the contents together and pour into a casserole dish for baking. And when Eric came sniffing into the kitchen, peeked in the oven and gleefully exclaimed, "YOU MADE A CASSEROLE???!!!!!!!!!!!!"
I smiled sheepishly. I thought I had given into the MAN of American cooking.
But while I ate the said casserole with Eric and our friends Dan and Eric M. (all of whom had several helpings), I realized that not all casseroles are from the devil. (Just most of them.) After all, I managed to make Chicken Tetrazzini WITHOUT a can of soup and breakfast cereal and even altered the recipe (no surprise there) to add fresh spinach, mozzarella cheese, roasted garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes.
And (here's the kicker) I LIKED it!
Now realize that I am still not a fan of casseroles. (And I am also not a fan of Betty Crocker's trickiness.) But when I can make it all from scratch with fresh ingredients, the meal becomes much more than just a casserole. It becomes a baked work of art. And I'm pretty sure I can handle that.
The adventures of this past week have been numerous.
Last Saturday I took Lexi to the Jazz fest to meet up with some family and friends.
She LOVED it. To say the least.
Can't you tell by her face?
And here she is listening to the jazz vocalist who inspired her to start singing. Every time the female vocalist would start singing, Lexi would raise up her arms, stand straight up (while being held of course), and start crooning loudly along!
This picture was taken during a break in the singing.
This is the woman (on the screen) who started it all. I will now begin building her jazz library to help her begin her future career as a jazz singer. Any contributions will be accepted. In return, I will invite you to her debut in about 18 years.
I'm just going to put it out there. Unless you are playing it, or the team is playing a great game, baseball is pretty boring. Even though we know that we are setting ourselves up for nine innings of being mostly bored, going to a baseball game in Chicago has a certain childhood nostalgia to it that nothing else can compete with. I grew up going to White Sox games on the south side, an occasional Rockies game while visiting family in Colorado, and various Triple A games wherever we were living at the time. My dad is an avid White Sox fan and has done his best to raise mini-White Sox fans to follow in his footsteps of "black and white forever." Unfortunately, I like soccer. I watch soccer games, am engaged by them, play it myself and find the game fairly exciting. That being said, for me, going to a Cubs game is merely a fun summer activity. For my dad, me going to a Cubs game is the ultimate betrayal.
Facts: I live 3 miles from Wrigley Field. Tickets were $10. And our seats were right next to the President of North Park University and his lovely wife. Why wouldn't we go??!??
So we went.
On the bus, Lexi was so excited she was speechless.
When we got there, they were handing out free Cubs hats and we had to take our first family fan portrait at Wrigley Field.
Lexi's hat has room to grow.
Since we were sitting right next to President David Parkyn and his wife Linda, we thought it would be a good opportunity for Lexi to start schmoozing early.
Eric wanted a portrait with his new little Cubbie, who decided she was hungry and found the blue hat to be incredibly tasty.
In conclusion: While Lexi had a good time being cooed over by everyone who saw her, Eric and I were mostly bored watching the Cubs lose 14-7, but did have fun eating ice cream out of little plastic Cubs hats.
Also, the Cubs still suck. Just in case anyone was wondering.