Thursday, August 28, 2008

I smelled a squirrel because I'm sexy and I do what I want.

Darren danced with a football player because the voices told him to.
Dani did the Macarena with a noodle because she thinks she needs some serious help.
Aidan ran over his dog because he's cool like that.
Ian yelled at a surfer because HE'S cool like that.

So. What did YOU do?

Pick the month you were born:
January----- --I kicked
February---- --I loved
March------- --I karate chopped
April------- ----I licked
May--------- --I jumped on
June-------- --I smelled
July-------- ---I did the Macarena with
August------ --I had lunch with
September--I danced with
October----- -I sang to
November---I yelled at
December---I ran over

Now pick the day (number) you were born on:
1-------a birdbath
2-------a monster
3-------a phone
4-------a fork
5-------a snowman
6-------a gangster
7-------my mobile phone
8-------my dog
9-------my best friends' boyfriend
10------my neighbor
11------my science teacher
12------a banana
13------a fireman
14------a stuffed animal
15------a goat
16------a pickle
17------your mom
18------a spoon
19------a smurf
20------a baseball bat
21------a ninja
22------Chuck Norris
23------a noodle
24------a squirrel
25------a football player
26------my sister
27------my brother
28------an ipod
29------a surfer
30------a llama
31------A homeless guy

Pick the color of shirt you are wearing:
White---------because I'm cool like that
Black---------because that's how I roll.
Pink----------because I'm crazy.
Red----------because the voices told me to
Blue----------because I'm sexy and I do what I want
Green--------because I think I need some serious help.
Purple--------because I'm AWESOME!Gray----------because Big Bird said to and he's my leader.
Yellow--------because someone offered me 1,000,000 dollars
Orange-------because my family thinks I'm nuts anyway.
Brown---------because I can.
Other----------because I'm a Ninja!
None----------because I can't control myself!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

the cat needs love

I wish I knew how to do animation. If I did, I'd YouTube a video of our pathetic cat bustin' out with her best LL Cool J impersonation.

When I'm alone in my room sometimes I stare at the wall
And in the back of my mind I hear my conscience call
Telling me I need a girl who's as sweet as a dove
For the first time in my life, I see I need love
I need luuuuuuv.
She's lonely, the cat.
I know she is because she knocks on Dani's door all the time.

No, it's true. She knocks. (Remember, this is the cat who uses her paws to turn the glass knob on the family room door when she wants out.) When she wants Dani (who's teenage room is ALWAYS closed when she's not home, to keep out snoopy brothers and shedding cats), she stands on her back feet and knocks with her front feet. Pat pat pat pat pat, in quick succession, one paw after the other. When it first happened the other morning (or at least, the first time any of us noticed), Dani happened to be inside. She heard someone rapping on her door, and thinking it was Ian, growled in an animated way, "WHAT DO YOU WANT?"

There was no answer.

So she threw open the door, thinking she'd spook him a little and was disappointed that he wasn't there. Looking down, she saw the cat gazing up with longing in her eyes.

"WHAT THE!" Dani exclaimed. "Ashlie just knocked on my door!"

Both boys came running from their room to see for themselves. I don't think they believed 100%, but they giggled just thinking about it.

The next day, they witnessed it for themselves, and Ian literally fell on the floor laughing. This is how we know for sure that the cat knocks. I, however, still hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

Flash forward to this morning.

I'm sitting here at the computer, minding my own business and not paying one lick of attention to the cat, with whom I'm still cranky for dropping a load on the hardwood in the entryway yesterday, when she sidled up beside my leg and started meowing.

It wasn't a loud meow.
It wasn't a quick, punctuated mew; that's the one that says "I'm out of food, you stupid slag heap."
It wasn't a drawn-out longing mrrrrowwwwl, the one that wants to burst through the window and claim the squirrel on the other side as her slave.
This meow was different, somehow. It was kinda sad.

Even so, she's the cat, and on principle, I don't like her. So I ignored her. I'd already filled her water bowl this morning, so if she had a problem, it would have to wait until 3:00 when the kids return.

Soon enough, she gave up the meowing, walked around to the back of my desk chair, where my still-too-ample-butt is hanging off the back, and started knocking.

Yes. The cat knocked on my butt in the same exact way the kids described her knocking on Dani's door. I looked over my shoulder at her and said, "What's up, Cat? You need some love?"

At that, she rolled her head over in that weird cat way and waited to be scratched under the chin. And I, in a moment of weakness, felt sorry for her hairball-yacking self and gave her some love.


Last winter, a few months after Darren started running (for fun - what a weirdo!), I quipped that we should plan a Disney vacation for January '09, so that he could run the half-marathon there. He laughed heartily, saying that he'd never be a marathoner, or even a half-marathoner.

Well. For the past few weeks, the man has been running 9 miles at a time. Of course, he's wiped for the rest of the day, and usually pretty sore the next day, but still. NINE MILES.

Tonight, we went walking through one of the parks he screams through on his runs. It's a beautiful park, tucked deep into a neighborhood in the heart of Fort Worth. If you're not a runner or a cyclist, or if you don't live in that neighborhood, you'd never know it's there. It follows a creek and meanders through oaks and pecans, over wooden bridges, past benches marked with remembrance plaques of loved ones lost. It was a beautiful walk, and he enjoyed taking it at a slower pace than usual.

We drove the rest of his route, through one gorgeous neighborhood and into the next, up the long hill to the top of the bluff, around Colonial, past the zoo, and back home to our neighborhood. It took forever to drive it. He runs it. It makes me hot just thinking about it. ;)

I think he could handle a half-marathon in 6 more months, don't you?

Taking donations now for our trip to Disney World.

Monday, August 25, 2008

One last time

School started today.

Ian's in 1st, Aidan's in 2nd, and Dani's a Senior.
The boys were bouncing-off-the-walls excited about school starting back up. Last night, Ian even had a stomach ache and couldn't sleep. They bounced out of bed this morning and giggled, laughed and wrestled through breakfast, teeth-brushing and getting ready. This year, no tears. No apprehension. No worries.

I'm sitting here enjoying the quiet stillness of an empty house. I have a hot date with the bug man in a couple of hours, a load of laundry to fold, some dishes to wash. Life is just busting at the seams around here. I'm also looking forward to carrying on a tradition later this afternoon.

When Dani started Kindergarten, a brand new Cracker Barrel had just opened near us, and I promised her an after school treat there on her first day of school. We’ve kept the tradition of going to Cracker Barrel on the first day of school ever since - even after moving across town from that neighborhood four years ago.

Also, on her first day of Kindergarten, she wore her hair in braided pigtails.
On her first day of high school? Braided pigtails.
Today, on the first day of her senior year, she asked me to braid some pigtails.

After school, we’ll drive across town to have dessert at Cracker Barrel last time.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Olympics in review

We've spent more time in front of the TV in the last two weeks than we have in the last year. No exaggeration. Every night after dinner, we tuned in to NBC and watched Olympic coverage, and then many nights, Darren and laid in bed and watched the late night coverage until our eyelids grew heavy and we couldn't focus any longer. We didn't miss a single Phelps race. We watched with interest as our local gymnast Nastia Liukin took gold. The boys were especially excited about the Olympics, this being the first one they've been old enough to take notice of.

Just before the games began, we read "An Hour at the Olympics" - a Magic Treehouse story about the first Olympics in Athens. We were reading a chapter each night before bed, but one night, Ian couldn't resist and read 6 chapters in a row out loud to me. to finish the book.

As we watched the opening ceremonies, he said, "Wait a minute. This is in CHINA?"

Darren answered in the affirmative.

"Ah MAN," said Ian. "I was gonna ask you to take me there!"

"There", meaning "the opening ceremonies". He wanted to be there in person, and just assumed we could hop in the car and go. Even now that the games are over, that night remains his favorite of the whole 2008 games. His most favorite part was the guy running in mid-air to light the flame.

Aidan loved Track and Field the most. He couldn't narrow it down to one event - he loved the sprints, the relays, the discus, the jumping, EVERYthing. He thinks he can be an Olympian one day.

Dani 's favorite was the swimming - specifically, rooting for Michael Phelps. One night while I watched upstairs, I heard her down here jumping and screaming and going crazy, then she yelled, "MOM!! ARE YOU WATCHING THIS? YOU BETTER BE WATCHING THIS!"

I love the swimming. Always have. Diving didn't do much for me this year, for some reason. I still remember Greg Louganis hitting his head on the platform back in '88 like it was yesterday. I just googled it and showed the footage to Dani. She gasped, just like I (and the world) did all those years ago.

Also this year, aside from Nastia, I was disinterested in gymnastics, which for years was my absolute FAVORITE. Anyone remember this ad featuring Mitch Gaylord? I tore it out of my Rolling Stone magazine back in '84, framed it, and gave it a place of honor in my bedroom for years. (Dani just quipped, "Your parents let you have that poster? Wow." lol!)

But my favorite this year, hands down, was beach volleyball. I don't know why, exactly, except that I played a lot in college, and while I was far from exceptional, I have really great memories of all those Sunday night games. Someone asked the other day which event I'd like to medal in if I could choose one. Me? Beach volleyball - one, because it would be a BLAST, even (or especially) playing in the pouring rain, and two, because it would mean I had a hot enough body to be wearing the official "uniform".

Darren watched an awful lot of volleyball this year too, and says it was his favorite event. But to his credit, he watched just as much men's and team volleyball as he did the beach variety. ;)

It was fun watching and rooting and discussing Olympics coverage as a family. I can hardly wait for 2010 - I love winter events more than the summer ones!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

bloated and gross

This morning, I woke up bloated and with a familiar nagging cramp in my belly. I felt gross and fat all day.

Tonight was Meet the Teacher night at school, and I made myself get all gussied up, knowing that I'd be seeing school-mom friends, some of whom hadn't laid eyes on me since May. I must admit, I was looking forward to the accolades.

But not a single person mentioned my weight loss. (Tina, bless her sweet heart, DID say "You look wonderful", but I'm not counting her, 'cause she's seen me off and on all summer.) Others have told me that I look like a different person, so I find it hard to believe that people who haven't seen me in so long didn't notice at all.

Just a few minutes ago, another friend who's losing weight mentioned the same wonder. "Why don't people notice? I keep thinking people will say something!" And another friend said, "Weight loss is a sensitive subject. People who don't know us well will hesitate to say anything, because it could be misconstrued as a backwards insult." As in... telling someone they look they've lost weight could be misinterpreted as, "Are you saying I NEED to lose weight?" It's just the way women are, so other women tend to tread lightly around sensitive subjects. I understand that, and I'm glad my friend pointed it out.

Thinking about tonight at school, I did notice one mom give me the up-and-down once-over on her way to hug me. And the other moms? I'm sure they noticed, too, but wondered if they should say anything or not. I like to imagine that as they watched me walk away, their conversation went a little something like this:

"Look at her butt!"
"I know. It's TINY"!
"She must have lost 4 cup sizes."
"It's taken 10 years off her."
"I wonder how much she's lost?"
"How's she doing it?"
"Who's gonna ask her on Monday?"

LOL! My butt's not tiny.
A girl can dream.

oh - and Darren reminded me that even all Bloated and Gross (that would be a cool name for a girl band. Or... not.), my newest skinny pants still fit comfortably. True, that. Thanks honey!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Top Ten Reasons I Want to Reach and Maintain....

(click to enlarge)

My sweet new friend Diane W. gave me this idea, and totally inspired me to do it. This list, which I created while chatting with her, is taped to walls and dashboards, here and there, some complete lists, and some bits and pieces of the list... tucked into my mirror, in my wallet, on the speedometer, on the fridge, in the book I'm currently reading.... gracing my fridge, my vanity, my computer monitor, the window above the kitchen sink. It helps to see those reasons everywhere I turn. I'm almost halfway to my goal. No turning back, no turning back!

tutorials for Mom and Aunt Sis

To save my blog to your favorites:
Assuming you're using Internet Explorer, which you probably are, you should see a yellow star near the top left of your screen. Next to that, you should see a yellow star with a green plus sign on it. The yellow star will open your "Favorites". The green plus sign will let you add a site to your Favorites. Click the green plus sign, then click "Add to Favorites". That's it! It'll add whatever site you're currently sitting on. From now on, to find the site you just bookmarked, all you have to do is click the yellow star, and it'll bring up a list of all the links you've created.

If you don't see the green plus sign and the yellow star, there's another way. At the very top of your screen, just below the navigation bar (where you type in the web address you want to visit), you'll see "file", "edit", "view", "favorites", "tools", and "help". Click on "favorites", and then click "add to favorites". Easy peasy!

To comment on my blog:
At the end of every blog post, you'll see "posted by Stacy K at whatever time." Right after that, you'll see "6 comments", or however many there happen to be. Click on that link. (You can tell it's a link because it's a different color, and your cursor turns into a pointing hand when you roll over it.)

The link will take you to a page that lets you read all previous comments, and also leave your own. You don't need to have an account to leave a comment here. Just click "anonymous" after you type your message. But make sure you sign your name so I'll know who the anonymous comment is from! :)

I hope this helps.
I tried not to speak in too foreign of a language.
Now... COMMENT so I'll know it made sense to you. :0
Love you!

Friday, August 15, 2008

bedroom retreat

While Darren and Dani toured colleges for a week, I got down to the dirty task of renovating our bedroom.

Originally, my plan was just to clean and declutter it. For 4 years, it's been the catch-all for junk that has no where else to go, and there was junk piled here, there and everywhere; we both hated being in there. I'd never even decorated it, though I'd been collecting a bunch of stuff over the years for that purpose. Here it is, before:

Darren is working from home more than ever now, and he struggles to find a spot that's quiet and peaceful - a place where he can concentrate. That was my main motivation for redoing our bedroom - to create that space for him.
It took me 2 days to sort, trash, box, store and otherwise dejunk the room. While doing that, I decided that the room HAD to be painted. It's the only room I haven't put my touch on since we bought the house, and it was time. I'd always envisioned a blue room - a soothing, calming, dusky blue. But that was for me. With Darren in mind, I decided to go with something he'd like better, and ended up choosing a golden honey color. I already had sheets, a rug, and a few other items in that color (I always thought it'd be the accent color to my blue). Then I decided to add stripes. I bought paint in two close shades - in fact, they were side by side on the paint chip. First, I painted the whole room the lighter color, and then Cara helped me measure and tape off 10-inch stripes, which we painted the darker color. The curtains are simply panels of fabric that I haven't sewn yet, and the chair was a serendipitous find. I wasn't even chair shopping when I discovered this at the fabric store - marked down from $550 to $190. I couldn't resist it! Well, I DID resist it for a day, but I went right back and got it the next afternoon. :)
(Click photos to enlarge)

I've painted more quotes on more walls in more buildings than I care to remember. This time, I cheated and used a computerized die cut machine to cut the letters out of self-adhesive vinyl. :)

This is the view from our bed. We have bookcases all over the house, but our room houses the books that are most special to us for whatever reason. Before the redo, this case was jam-packed with books. I made myself cull and purge, and then added trinkets - from here and there in forgotten corners and random cubby holes - that are special to Darren. The blue geode is from Pitkin, Colorado, where we've spent our past two summer vacations. The cross is made of peat, and came from our Ireland trip. The brass globe was a gift that my brother David gave Darren for Christmas when we were newly married. It has a secret compartment inside it, and David spent hours cleaning and shining it to like-new condition after finding it in a junk store. Darren has always loved it. The toile boxes are my "happy files" and contain letters, cards and notes from years past. The case on top houses Darren's clarinet, which he pulls out and plays every once in a while. I organized all of his sheet music and it's now stored in the ottoman by his chair.

We love our room. We spend HOURS in there now. I love to sit in the chair and read next to the window. Darren's sitting there working right now. I make the bed every day (ME!!) and keep the room pristine. It's a retreat within our own house. The kids know it's special, and think it's kinda cool that they're no longer allowed to bring toys in there, or sit on our bed, or sit in the chair, EVER, unless it's in one of our laps.

oh - and one more photo, especially for my neice Brittani. She gave this Eiffel Tower print to me for Christmas a few years ago, to commemorate Darren and my trip to Paris in 2002. I finally hung it! It makes me happy to think of Brit and then Paris first thing every morning. :)

It was a ton of work, but it's been GLORIOUS to have a space that's all our own. I did it for Darren, but I'm reaping the benefits as much as he is. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


A couple of weeks ago, I had the honor of photographing our neice Shaina's wedding. Our whole family got dressed up (something we rarely do all at the same time, because we're not fancy dressers without reason, and we never have reason. Our church is very laid back and casual, for instance.) ANYway, since we all looked nice, I set the camera up and handed it over to to nephew-in-law to snap a pic of us.

This past weekend, Darren, Dani and I attended the wedding of our good friend Luke and his beautiful bride, Lacie. It was such a lovely wedding, and I even convinced Darren (DARREN!) to dance with me. He grinned all the way through The Chicken Dance (and tried to claim it wasn't any fun later), and then we danced to Rod Stewart's "Have I Told You Lately". I bought a new dress for the occasion several weeks ago, and although it fit at the time, it was a little snug on my tummy. I hit a plateau and didn't lose a pound for the past 2+ weeks, so I was nervous about putting the dress on again. I was surprised and ecstatic when it fell over my stomach without clinging! I think it's cool how, when I'm not losing pounds, I'm often losing inches in their place. :)

See all those bruises on my calves? Yah. There are more all over my torso, the backs of my arms, and my thighs. And my feet. The bottom of my right foot looked like a chicken breast that someone had taken a meat mallet to, and it also featured two puncture wounds. Why, you ask? 'Cause I'm a klutz, and fell off the tall stool I was using when painting our bedroom. More on that later. :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

the program

I know you are probably bombarded with PMs and emails wanting to know just
how YOU do it. Well, add me to the list. Can you give me a run down of what you
are doing to make these amazing changes? I know you are a busy gal...I mean come on, you're busy shedding those pounds!! But I would really appreciate your help. Any advice is greatly appreciated. ~Lisa

Finally, I'm blogging about my program. Sorry it's taken me so long to get around to it!


Walking. I started in March by walking 1 mile each day, three days per a week. At the time, it's all I could do! After a while, I increased my mileage and my speed, walking a longer distance in the same amount of time.

Nia. Two weeks after I began my weight loss journey, I joined a Nia class, which is a combination of dance, yoga and martial arts. It's SO MUCH FUN, it doesn't even feel like exercise. I've missed it so much this summer, and can't wait for school to start back up so I can dive back in to my Nia routine. I do it for 50 minutes each Tues/Thurs morning. I know it gives me a good cardio workout, but it's also been fabulous for toning and building muscle. I've never had visible arm muscles, but now I do, and all I can contribute it to is the martial arts part of Nia. I don't use weights or anything else.

Moving. Other than walking and Nia, I've just added small things here and there, like parking out in the lot and walking up to the store rather than circling and circling for the closest parking spot. I don't save all of my upstairs errands to do at once anymore. Now, when I need something upstairs, I just go. In May at the boys' school, I had to take photographs of about 40 individual kids, who were in classrooms all over the building. As I worked through the list, I made myself go up and down the stairs over and over. In the old days, I'd have mapped it out ahead of time to make sure I didn't have to climb the stairs more than necessary! At camp this summer, I had to climb a hill each time I went down to the swimming hole. I could've driven, but each time, I made myself walk. The first day killed me. By the end of the week, I was climbing while carrying on a conversation, and suddenly found myself at the top of the hill. I hadn't even realized I was climbing!! Since I work at home, I'd gotten in the habit of not getting up out of my desk chair for most of the day. Now, I make myself get up about once an hour and get some activity in - I walk down the block and back, water my plants, dance through a song, whatever. It keeps my metabolism going strong, which means I can burn calories easier, even just sitting at my desk.


Calories. As for eating, I've made some major changes there as well. I eat between 1500-1600 calories a day. I actually hired a nutritionist to help me with that for the first three weeks, because counting calories totally overwhelmed me. She planned my menus, gave me recipes, made my grocery lists, etc. I could only afford her for 3 weeks, but by then, I felt completely comfortable doing it myself. Googling "1500 calorie menus" is a great place to start, too. Another wonderful took is There, you can log what you've eaten and it'll track your calories for you. If you don't know the calorie count of something - say, a casserole - you can add the recipe and it will calculate the calories. The site is also full of articles, tips and support to guide you and encourage you on your journey to health.

Omissions. I cut out processed foods entirely. Basically, if it comes in a box, I don't eat it. I cut out dairy for the most part. I still eat eggs and cheese occasionally, but in strict moderation. I quit my daily Route 44 Sonic Diet Coke with Vanilla habit cold turkey. For a month, I challenged myself to only drink water. After that month, I started adding unsweet tea to the mix. I don't use fake sugar, ever, even though it would mean getting to eat yummy-tasting things and still staying under my calorie limit. My goal: the most nutrional bang for each calorie buck. You'd be amazed at how many empty calories you consume!

Eat more! I eat breakfast every morning, which was a HUGE change for me. I've never been a breakfast eater. Then I eat 5 more times throughout the day: a mid-morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, late-afternoon snack, and dinner around 7:30. I never eat or snack after dinner. That alone was a huge change for me, because I'd gotten in a habit of not eating all day, and then way overeating in the evening. I snack on fresh fruit and veggies, dried fruit, almond butter, walnuts and pecans, and hummus. I try to keep my snacks packed in snack baggies, so I can grab one without having to think about it. I also carry them with me when I leave the house, to ward off temptation to snack on something unhealthy, and to keep my metabolism going. One thing I've learned is that you have to eat to lose!

Water Water Water. I keep a pitcher of cold water in my fridge at all times. I drink it all day long. I've gotten in the habit of taking a cup of iced water with me whenever I get in the car; it keeps me from wanting to stop and get a Coke somewhere.

This program is working for me, but it's imperative that you find what works for YOU. Good luck, Lisa et al!

Friday, August 08, 2008

tagged: Spouse

Desiree tagged me on her blog, so here goes!

What is his name?

How long have you been married?
17 years

How long did you date?
We never dated. We went from being best friends to talking about marriage to getting married to having Dani!

How old is he?
39 next month

Who eats more?
Hmmm. Probably him, but that certainly hasn't always been the case!

Who said I love you first?
He did. I was in Seattle, he was in Denton. When he said it, I was so amazed and overjoyed and shocked beyond belief that I said, "OK, BYE!" and hung up the phone. Then I burst into tears. LOL!

Who is taller?
He is, by 3 inches

Who sings better?
He sings better bass, and I sing better lead. :)

Who's temper is worse?
Mine flashes hotter, but his is triggered faster.

Who does the laundry?
I do

Who pays the bills?
He does.

Who cooks dinner?
We take turns. It's about 60% me these days, but not so long ago, it was 75% him!

Who mows the lawn?
He does

Who wears the pants in the family?
I let him think he does. But seriously, we both make decisions together and always listen to each other.

OK, so I need to tag someone ... Joe, Elaine, and Bobbie, you're it!

Monday, August 04, 2008

I miss Darren and Dani

...and apparently, I've compensated by falling off the wagon.
Last week, I indulged in 2 cheeseburgers, an order of onion rings, an ice cream cone, 2 large snow cones, and 2 dark chocolate Dove bars. I gained a 10th of a pound. That's not a big gain, I know. It's not even worth mentioning. But it makes me cranky to realize that I'd have LOST weight if I'd stayed true to my program. Grrr.

I've gotten some emails asking what my program IS, exactly. I'll elaborate soon.

Darren and Dani return home tomorrow night. They've had a great time so far. They both loved U of Chicago and think it's a perfect fit for Dani. Tomorrow, they have several appointments/interviews at Drew U in New Jersey. This morning, they woke up in D.C.; Darren's been keeping up with his running schedule and had a great run this morning from his hotel, past the Capitol, down the National Mall, around the Lincoln Memorial, past the White House, and back. In 55 minutes, he ran past some of the most famous landmarks in the U.S.!

I've kept very busy around here, in between calorie splurges. I totally upended my house and shook out most of the dust and clutter. I've done some fun, creative stuff, too. Last night, I hosted my Fortress church family. The house was PACKED with people, the air conditioner was blasting, we had two oscillating fans blowing, and STILL we couldn't cool the house down enough. It was 107 degrees outside, the heat index was 114, we were packed like sardines in my family room and kitchen, but even so..... good times. Good times.

But I still miss Darren and Dani. :)

Friday, August 01, 2008

college bound

Darren and Dani have been ridin' the rails. They departed Fort Worth on Amtrak's Texas Eagle late yesterday afternoon and arrived in Chicago early this evening. They've both decided that train travel is the only way to go. Darren can't wait to take me on a long train trip now. We've taken Amtrak before - between here an Oklahoma City - but it wasn't exciting enough to write home about. The longer routes have better accomodations, apparently. They enjoyed the lounge car, the observation deck and, of course, the dining car. If Darren ever DOES take me on a train trip, I'm gonna insist on a sleeping car, too. :D

They visit the University of Chicago tomorrow, and then Saturday,they board another train and head to Washington D.C. for a day of site-seeing. Then late Sunday evening, they'll board one more time and head for New Jersey, where they'll spend Monday keeping appointments with Drew University. They'll fly home Tuesday night.

A neighbor tonight mentioned that no one in our day ever thought about doing college visits, and what a cool idea it is. The thing is, colleges are so competitive these days, and scholarships are even more so, that a face-to-face meeting often gives you an edge. In fact, some colleges are requiring an in-person interview as part of the admissions process. Lucky for us, Dani found out about an excellent deal: if you're travelling on Amtrak for the purpose of college visits, one parent gets to ride free. Otherwise, I don't know that we could've made this trip happen!

Before they left, I told Darren that I really hoped they'd not only have fun, but also spend some time talking about serious stuff. They have, in fact, spent a lot of time talking, and Darren said it's been really, really good for both of them to connect that way. That makes me heart happy. It also made my heart sing when he told me that they got to laughing so hard on the train that he couldn't breathe. Evidently, they were imagining Aidan being in the circus. I guess you had to be there!

But I'm not, and I miss them both.
This time next year, I'll be making the trip somewhere with Dani- college-bound once more - only THAT time, she won't be coming back home. That's hard to imagine. I'm not going to think about it yet.