Thursday, December 28, 2006

From my Christmas card...

Highlights of 2006
-Hiking the Grand Canyon to raise money for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Four months of training prepared me well for a 7 hour hike on the awe-inspiring Kaibab trail.
-Moving to an apartment in Wheaton in May with my great roomie
-Leading a young adult women’s small group Bible study. Such an amazing, fun group of girls! I stepped down from this role because…
-In September I began working with the high school youth group, The ROCK. It’s been great getting to know the girls in my D-group!
-Serving as a hot bridesmaid in 2 close friends’ weddings this summer
-Enjoying another great season with the White Sox. They didn’t make it to the post-season but they still won 90 games and my fave player, Jermaine Dye was a force to be reckoned with!
-Celebrating over a year at CNS Hospice! I love my coworkers and the families I work with. I also started working with grieving children and was asked to potentially be the social worker for a palliative care team for children. I’m excited by this new opportunity!
-Fulfilling my dream to travel to Ireland in November. I fell in love with the country and plan to go back again and again. And again.
-Camping trips, shows, Dinner Club, choir, Believing God study- these are a few more of my favorite things!
-Most important, God has blessed me with an amazing family and incredible friends.
What a phenomenal year! Who knows what 2007 will bring? I have a few thoughts and opinions on that one if God is interesting in listening:)

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Books You Should Read

On January 10 I will be another year older and wiser. To that end, I've decided to "copy" an idea originated by the Gat and modeled by Todd in honor of their 30th birthdays. There are few things I enjoy more than reading a good book so here is my list of 27 books that made the cut. I'm including fiction, nonfiction, serious, and nonserious because I can. My list of favorites is always changing and expanding. Feel free to let me know if you have any recommendations. If you're not a big reader, there's no better time to change. Before you know it, you'll be joining me in saying, "I heart reading!"

Top 27 Books (in really no particular order):
1. A Prayer for Owen Meany- John Irving The rich characters, compelling plot, and spiritual undertones- I cry nearly everytime I read this wonderful novel. Hollywood tragically attempted to bring the story to the big screen with "Simon Birch" but there's no way to capture a character like Owen Meany outside of your imagination.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis A movie adaptation that Holywood didn't screw up: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. I was thrilled to see Aslan come to life! Lewis paints such amazing tales. Good to read when I was a child and even better as a grown up.
3. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn- Betty Smith My all time favorite book when I was in middle school.
4. A New Kind of Christian- Brian McLaren An author that explores Christianity outside of the box. After reading this, I finally felt ready to take back my abandoned faith and wrestle with God a bit. It was refreshing to see that there were others out there like me who didn't quite fit into the conservative church we had grown up in.
5. Beach Music- Pat Conroy Tear jerker. Made me want to live in Italy in the worst way.
6. My Sister's Keeper- Jodi Picoult I became an instant fan of Picoult after reading this and I've been racing through the rest of her books ever since. She writes about controversial subject matter, turns ethics on its head, and leaves you wanting more. When I read the last few pages of her books, I have to reread them a few times because the twist is so subtle, I'm sure that it can't be the actual ending. Phenomenal!
7. Flabbergasted- Ray Blackston Laugh out loud funny! Blackston is an awesome, friendly author- we emailed a bit after this book came out. He has a fresh voice.
8. What's So Amazing About Grace?- Philip Yancey Yancey makes the concept of grace easier to grasp with a fresh understanding of God's gift to us.
9. Traveling Light- Max Lucado Lucado is not the best author I've ever read but his words often sear into my heart. This particular book is on the 23rd Psalm. I started reading it to see if it was appropriate to give to a friend who was struggling with loss. He had unique insights on the familiar verses. It really struck home though when my 22 year old cousin Scott died while I was in the middle of the book. My aunt and uncle chose that same Psalm to be read at his funeral. The words were more comforting because of what I had read in Traveling Light.
10. Harry Potter series- J.K. Rowling I did my best to resist reading these books despite mulitple recommendations- I knew I would get sucked in. And I did. I'm happy more kids are reading!
11. Sacred Thirst- M. Craig Barnes Good for anyone going through a spiritually dry period. I go back to Barnes' words time and time again.
12. The Call- Os. Guinness Helpful devotional on finding our true purpose.
13. Redeeming Love- Francine Rivers Christian romance at its finest (which is an ironic statement, but this is really good!) Another tear jerker.
14. Beginner's Luck- Laura Pedersen Fresh and funny tale of a 16 year old gambler.
15. A Wrinkle in Time- Madeline L'engle Love, love, love this story of the Murray children's adventure! I read the continuing stories by L'engle but find this one to be the best.
16. Anne of Green Gables-L.M. Montgomery Who doesn't root for the red haired orphan as she wins over the Cuthberts and, even better, Gilbert Blythe? Oh for some raspberry cordial!
17. Pride and Prejudice- Jane Austen Mr. Darcy, need I say more?
18. Bridget Jones' Diary- Helen Fielding Modern telling of Pride and Prejudice, I related to Bridget's plights and her quest to find a man who would love her just the way she is.
19. White Oleander- Janet Fitch Infinitely better than the movie, a heartbreaking story.
20. I Know This Much is True- Wally Lamb A brother watches over his twin who is schizophrenic and tries to keep his own life from falling to shambles. Lengthy but worth it.
21. When the Heart Waits- Sue Monk Kidd Encouraging words for times of growth, distress, waiting, and despair.
22. The Catcher in the Rye- J.D. Salinger The best book I read in 1997. Eye opening.
23. Ordinary People- Judith Guest Portrait of the aftermath of grief in an everyday family and the splinters it leaves. I despised the mother by the end.
24. Black and Blue- Anna Quindlen Unflinching portrayal of domestic violence and the lengths a woman will go to in order to protect her son. A real page turner.
25. What a Girls Wants- Kristin Billerbeck Relatable, well-written Christian chick lit. Hillarious! You'll be asking yourself, are you a Season or a Reason?
26. Chronicles of Zion and Covenant of Zion series- Brock and Bodie Thoene Compelling fiction placed during WWII and its aftermath. I love this time period and the Thoenes give expert attention to historical detail.
27. Little Women- Louisa May Alcott I always thought of myself as a combination of the strongminded Jo and artistic Amy.

Soon to be added to the list? The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama. I am falling even more in love with him with every page!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Ireland Highlights- better late than never

-Jill and I had a fantastic time!!!
-Mastering the art of driving on the left side of the road
-Becoming a certified Whiskey Tasting expert after touring Jameson Distillery
-Exploring the streets of Dublin
-Being hit on by 3 guys at Fitzgerald's and meeting Brendan whilst waiting for the DART- Irish men appreciated our hotness!
-The food! I loved the full Irish breakfast, drinking tea every morning, fish and chips, fillet of beef, the list goes on and on.
-Blarney Castle- but I did not kiss the Blarney Stone! Too many germs, plus the locals like to pee on it. No thank you! The castle was awesome though and the grounds were amazingly beautiful.
-Our favorite bed and breakfast: Tailors Lodge in Castleisland. Breda, the owner, was so friendly and accomodating, the house was beautiful, there was a separate guest lounge with sattelite tv, need I say more? Next time I go to Ireland I will definitely stay with Breda again- it's a good spot for exploring Kerry and doing a lot of day trips.

-Overall just feeling loved by God. This was such a dream come true! Lots of spiritual insights throughout my time there, just feeling more encouraged about His plan for my life, etc. Part of driving meant encountering many roundabouts. A roundabout is a complex and ridiculous Irish intersection that leaves one confused and driving in circles until one selects the correct exit. It reminded me of trying to figure out God's plan. If you pay attention to the sign, you'll have no trouble. Just like when I focus on His word and what He has done for me already, it is much easier to be content and patient.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Teresa's Birthday

When I stopped by my grandparent's house a week and a half ago, it seemed it would be the last time I would see Aunt Teresa. She was very lethargic, difficult to wake up, now completely bedbound. She was barely eating or drinking. She woke up long enough for me to show her a picture of Dani in her wedding dress (Teresa has always loved, loved, loved bridal magazines and anything wedding related). She smiled and held my hand. As we were sitting together she looked at me and said, "I like you." Teresa has never been sentimental or seemed to understand the power of her words before this. My heart just melted and I had to blink away tears. I left the house ready to leave for Ireland but certain I would be getting a message stating Teresa had died once I returned. I never got that message. Instead, Teresa has done something typical of many hospice patients before their deaths: she has rallied. She is still not eating much but she is staying awake more and is somewhat more interactive with guests. I stopped by yesterday afternoon to check in on my grandparents. Teresa's birthday was Saturday and her room was filled with balloons, flowers, and cards. She was like a queen with her constituents filing through her bedroom. I was the fifth visitor that afternoon but, as I like to remind her, I am her favorite great-niece. Never mind that there are only 2 other contenders for that title and they have lived out of state and rarely visit. Teresa lives and breathes for her birthday every year. She lights up with all the attention. She is the subject for many pictures (she has a collection of at least 50 photo albums from across the years). She eats her favorite cake. And best of all, the presents! She is now 79 but a 79 year old with child like enthusiasm. Her body has aged but her mind has stayed the same. My grandpa says that Teresa has lived a life without sin because of her mental limitations but I know that isn't true. There are times she has scowled for being told no or resented not being able to participate in something. Maybe her sins are less external than ours but she is still human. I would rather think that she is able to see the best in people, she comes before them with an open and vulnerable heart even though she has been hurt in the past. I have seen the hurt on her face when someone has called her retarded, or even just said that something is retarded. I have also seen her move past the hurt. She's not able to hold onto bitterness the way that I can. I can learn a lot from Aunt Teresa, even now. She is unaware of her condition, probably not thrilled to be stuck in bed but she has accepted it. She enjoys whoever comes to visit and still takes pride in her appearance, choosing different sparkly hair bows and lacy nightgowns. She is limited but she is still making the most of her life. I am blessed to know her. I can't imagine life without Teresa. My grandparents took her and my great-grandma into their home the year I was born. She has been a fixture in my life. I will miss her. I am glad she was able to enjoy another birthday. I don't think she will be with us much longer but she will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ready or not, here I come!

Jill and I leave for Ireland tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Goodbye Mr. Eko

Lost was so good last night! If you don't already watch this show, you need to start. Now. It will change your life! If you haven't watched last night's episode yet, stop reading now (although the title of this entry gives you a hint too.) There's so much to say but I really just want to share my new theory. If you are an actor on Lost and you commit some sort of crime while in Hawaii, they will kill your character off. Case in point: Michelle Rodriguez (the annoying Ana Lucia) and Cynthia Watros (Hurley's intriguing love interest with a past, Libby) were probably just out blowing off some steam after a hard day's work. Sadly they were arrested for drunk driving on December 1. We all know what happened next. Michael took a deal with the devil and shot Ana Lucia and Libby. Now we'll never know why Libby was at the same treatment center as Hurley! Flash forward to the present. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje who plays the former drug smuggler turned priest Mr. Eko was arrested in early September for disobeying a police officer and driving without a license. The charges were later dropped once he produced his license. Unfortunately the creative team was not similarly lenient with our favorite stick wielding plane crash survivor- the crazy black smoke killed him in the end. Let that be a lesson to the other Lost actors- don't mess with Hawaii unless you're looking for a way out of your contract. I swear, they better not even think about killing off Sawyer during the Fall Season Finale on November 8. How on earth will we wait until February 7 to see what happens next?

For the true fan, a funny treat (video)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Ross and Dani's Wedding

The happy couple (October 28, 2006)
Bekah and I check ourselves out. Karen, Nick, Becca, Stacy, and I shut down the dance floor. Yes!

Beautiful weather, beautiful ceremony, fun reception, hot bridesmaids. What more could you want? I even reluctantly fulfilled Dani's request that I be out there for the bouquet toss. Sarah was the lucky catcher. I caught my aunt's bouquet when I was 14 so I figure I'm still covered. Dani and Ross are now honeymooning in Hawaii and my life can get back to normal for a bit. At least until next Thursday when I leave for Ireland!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Kiss me, you're Irish!

Jill and I leave for Ireland 2 weeks from today! I can't wait until we meet our husbands. And tour Waterford, Guiness, and Jameson. And hike the lush green countryside. And get lost in our rental car. It's going to be amazing!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I laugh in the face of Haunted Houses

I went to my first Haunted House last night. My parents are anti-Halloween, hence I never even went trick or treating. My parents still bought me and my brother candy and took us out for a special dinner and/or movie that night so it never bothered me too much. I usually don't let myself watch scary movies anymore- half the time I can't even watch the previews on tv! I get too freaked out. When Brian and Donna started talking about going to a haunted house, I told them a firm "no way!" I was on call until 8 so I kind of had an excuse anyways. Brian, Donna, Josh, Brian's cousin Noe and Noe's girlfriend Jenny all convened at our apartment. I'm not saying there was peer pressure involved, I'm just saying. When Josh told me I'd better change into my shoes as slippers are not allowed in haunted houses, I had to laugh and finally give in. I was somewhat curious about what all the fuss was. $12 later our experience at Basement of the Dead in Aurora began. I threw up a prayer to God, knowing that I might have been screwing myself over for a nightmare filled night. Josh and Donna were kind enough to let me hold on to them and I made sure that I was sandwiched between the two couples. It was a good spot to be in but I was still confronted by monsters and people grabbing at my legs. I just kept laughing, trying to hold on to Donna while Jenny held on to me. It was so ridiculously dark in there that a lot of concentration was spent just trying to figure out where to go next. I jumped once or twice but no big screams. I was too busy laughing! And if any bad guys got too close, I told them "Get out of my way" or "You're not very nice." Both statements were equally effective. It'll probably be a while before I pay to do that again but at least I can say I've been. The moral of the story: I did lose my right contact during our walk through. There were lots of body bags hanging from the ceiling that we had to shove out of the way and in the process one clocked me in the eye. I didn't realize my contact was missing until well after we were done. I don't think it's a punishment but it is ironic. Hopefully the eye doctor will get a new one in fast because I'm in Ross and Dani's wedding on Saturday!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

She just keeps talking

Yesterday I did a presentation at Midwestern University for pharmacy students. My friend Meri is the instructor for an End of Life Care elective class and asked me to be a guest speaker and share what I do as a social worker. Needless to say I was insanely nervous. Thankfully it went really well! I used Power Point, which was a mark of genius, and did not practice before hand. I usually do better to just wing these kinds of things and hope for the best. I figured I'd be the cool lecturer that lets everyone out early. Unfortunately there was no clock within my eyesight and if not for Meri flashing me the 5 minute warning, I would easily talked for another half hour. Luckily I was able to wrap it up and end the class on time. No one fell asleep, everyone was pretty engaged for a morning class, and they all liked my case examples. Plus Meri said I did a great job! Hurrah! Now I just need to get ready for my next presentation...a nursing home wants me to talk about taking care of yourself when you're a health care provider. Should be interesting stuff. And then the next day I leave for Ireland. I can't wait!!!

Monday, October 09, 2006

The wages of visiting grandparents

Aunt Teresa had a seizure last Monday, evidence that the tumor continues to grow. I didn't get a chance to visit her until today. I was able to stop out at my grandparents for lunch and enjoy my grandma's famous chicken noodle soup. Teresa is definitely declining, she's more lethargic and weaker but still happy as can be. In the middle of lunch my grandpa decided to go talk to my uncle at the farm (right next door). A minute later he came back inside with a sheepish look on his face. He had backed into my car with his truck. He felt terrible about it! I thought there would maybe be a slight dent but the rear passenger side above the wheel was completely caved in. Not a pretty sight and not what I wanted to deal with. But apparently this is the hand I was dealt with today so I determined to make the best of it. After making my visits, I went over to my parents' house to get the name and number of the auto body shop they've used before. In a strange twist of fate, my dad decided to go with me. Usually he sees incidents like this as a good way to make me become more independent than I already am. For whatever reason, he put his "teach her a lesson" hat aside and came with. Moral of the story: my car is now considered to be totaled!!!! I wanted to curse and scream so badly but I was with my dad, so I did my best to keep it in. The auto body guys did pull out the part above the wheel as it was rubbing the wheel whenver I went over bumps and they have recommended I drive it as little as I can. Now I just have to wait for my grandpa's insurance company to do their own assessment. It looks like I'll be buying a new car a lot sooner than I was planning.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

If only I was 80

On Monday after visiting a patient at one of my nursing homes, I stopped in at the nursing station to chat and review his chart. While I was leaving the RN station, an older male resident called me over, saying, "honey, come here, come here please." Sometimes residents think I work at the facility or just want to chat about the weather, so I walked over to him. With a big grin on his face, he asked, "You want to give me a kiss?" I started laughing and said, "Not today but thanks for asking!"
On Wednesday, I visited a new patient at another nursing home. As we were talking, he suddenly asked me if I was married. I confessed that I wasn't. Too my surprise, he smiled mischieviously and proposed. He figures he only has a few months left to live and he might as well have fun doing it. I just told him I was flattered.
Who knows what Friday will bring?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

What Dreams Are Made Of

Insomnia has been back again lately, probably due to stress from work. Our census is at an all time high and I'm struggling to even seem like I'm staying on top of my caseload. The flipside is that I have some wonderful new patients and I'm getting to do bereavement work with children. Tuesday night I actually fell asleep pretty quickly and had an interesting dream which I've chosen to share for the sake of randomness.

In the dream, I was pregnant. The father of the child was Mike MacDougal only he looked more like Jon Garland (with red hair) and for whatever reason, he was wearing Thome's jersey. I'm not sure if we were married or not but we were very in love. In spite of all this, I was asked to lead a college dance class. I went to the first day of class completely unprepared- I hadn't even choreographed our first number- but I bluffed my way through warm up exercises and fended off an annoying girl's question about what the final would be. Thanks to my final for modern dance at lovely Augustana College, I already knew the answer: students have to choreograph a dance exploring emotion to one minute from a song of their choice. In my case, Sarah MacLachlan's "Winter" which I made up on the spot, ironically the teacher and fellow classmates were in awe of my dancing prowess and the emotions I "chose to explore." Enough of real life, back to the dream...after leading dance class I headed over to the local grocery store, which apparently is in a small town and owned by my father. He was getting ready for the store's anniversary cook out. I was going to sale price some Ruffles potato chips- they have ridges, you know- but I realized we were going to use them all for the cook out and thought that the Lays potato chips should be on sale instead. The end.

In other news, I have been receiving condolences all week over the death of the White Sox' post season dreams. To make matters worse, on Wednesday I went to my parents house to pick up my mail only to see that my American League Championship Series tickets had arrived. And I will NEVER be able to use them!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Still Believing Somehow

I'm going to the games tonight and tomorrow night against the Tigers. I have a good feeling about it despite the way things have been going for my beloved team lately. What the heck is their problem? In any case, I plan to bring the magic and hopefully that will do the trick!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Bringing the magic wherever I go

Last Wednesday I went to another baseball game but probably not like you're thinking. My good friend Kat took me to a Cubs game. Yes, a Cubs game. I've only been to Wrigley one other time and while I'll never succumb to the Dark Side, I had a good time with Kat, Ben, George, Charles, Matt, and Greg. It was a pretty good game but of course, the Cubbies just about blew it until Derek Lee hit a grand slam to save the day in the 8th inning. I just hated how no one was watching the game though! Like my cousin Adam said: Wrigley is the biggest bar in Chicago.

Here I am with Charles the Traitor:) Two days later he happened to be at the Sox game and realized the errors of his ways. I told him he still has to prove himself and earn back the trust of all worthy Sox fans. What's to say he won't just change his mind again in a couple of weeks? Let's hope he stays true to the light.

Friday night we celebrated Halfway to St. Patrick's Day at The Cell. I was thrilled to get my free green hat and watch the game with 13 of my fabulous friends. It was a merging of worlds with friends from church and college (outside of the Gate 5 Gang members who already know each other). You've just got to love a stadium awash in green. Oliver, Paul, and Josh left early in the 8th inning which is when the Sox lost their lead- I was ready to blame them! But...the luck of the Irish and Leigh and Jill were on the Sox's side- we won thanks to AJ's walk off homer in the 9th but also because Jill and I switched seats and wore rally hats. Rock on!

With Jill, Jen, and Kibibi and then with Brooke

Laura and the gang rejoice in the win!

Revised radio list

So after I posted my Top 5 Radio songs, I immediately realized that it should have been more of a Top 10 list. Enjoy the results, listed in really no particular order.

Top 10 Radio Songs:
1. Diary of Jane- Breaking Benjamin (video)
2. Walk Away- Kelly Clarkson
3. Through Glass-Stone Sour
4. A Better Way-Downhere
5. Move Along -All American Rejects
6. The Raconteurs- Steady, As She Goes
7. Snow Patrol- Chasing Cars
8. Evanescence- Call Me When You're Sober
9. Goo Goo Dolls- Stay With You
10. Panic! At the Disco- I Write Sins Not Tragedies (verging on being way too overplayed but I still dig it)
Guilty Pleasure: Nelly Furtado: Promiscuous Girl

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tuning into the radio

Top 5 Radio Songs*:
1. Diary of Jane- Breaking Benjamin (video)
2. Walk Away- Kelly Clarkson (I love the "I know you know I know" line!)
3. Through Glass-Stone Sour
4. A Better Way-Downhere (lyrics border on cheesy at times but darn it, if I don't love the song anyway)
5. Move Along -All American Rejects

*Meaning you blast the music and sing along at the top of your lungs, and possibly even louder than that if there are other cars nearby

Monday, August 28, 2006

We won, eh!

Brooke and I had an amazing time at the game yesterday! Not only did we beat the Twins 6-1 , Buehrle pitched up until the 8th inning and Pierzynski, Crede, and Uribe hit homers. Fantastic! It seems like Mark just might be getting his groove back. We were all thrilled to see him to do so well- and gave him a standing ovation to tell him so. There was a shocking amount of Twins fans in the stands, some of whom brought brooms along. I couldn't help but cheer when a Sox fan stole one of the brooms and broke it in half. Take that! Brooke and I were a huge hit with the crowd in the bleachers, from our sign to our tank tops and yes, even our cheers. Our tank tops usually get a compliment or two but yesterday it seemed the whole world noticed and appreciated. It was nice. Everyone LOVED the Tadahito cheer. But how could they not? He's a star player without the star attitude. We were the Super Fans of the day and life was good. It's crazy to think of the season drawing to an end. I only have 2 more games to go, not including post-season. And yes, there will be a post-season for the White Sox!

Last night I headed over to Mark and Erin's for movie night. I hadn't been able to go to movie night before so I deemed myself the Guest of Honor (Erin agreed.) We watched Strange Brew which I hadn't seen in a few years. It's still funny but I think it might have been funnier if we'd been playing drinking games. Donna told me her friends used to take a drink anytime a character said "eh." That, my friends, is insane. We just made do with a beer apiece and lots of chocolate chip cookies. There's just nothing like Canadian drinking humor. What I'm taking away from the movie: trying to incorporate "eh" and "take off" into my everyday vocabulary.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Building up confidence

White Sox beat the Tigers last night, thank God!!! Now we just need to win today and beat the Twins this weekend and I have a feeling we'll all be in a much better place.

In the meantime, a few things to help keep the hope alive:
White Sox Game Intro Video Still gives me the chills!
Let's Go White Sox!
Game 1 2005 World Series
Crowd Reaction to winning World Series
Opening Night 2006 I was there!

Reminds me of my own 2005 season experience (although I yelled, screamed, and hugged a heck of a lot more):
A Group of Fans watches the Last Out

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Only in my dreams

The other night I dreamt that I was at church on Sunday when all of a sudden I realized that the Sox game started at 10:30 am instead of 1 pm like I had thought. I was really mad about it because a) Brooke and I have bleacher seats and b) I'm making a sign for us to hold up. I was trying to figure out if I could leave church early (without being singled out by Pastor Ron) and still get to The Cell on time and if I would also have time to make said sign as I had apparently forgotten. Then I realized that I was at the 11 am service and I really should have gone to the 9 am service if I was going to the game. At which point I looked at my ticket and realized that the game was for next week. Phew!

I was paranoid enough to double check my ticket when I woke up. The game is this Sunday at 1:05 pm as usual. I bought the posterboard yesterday. Everything seems to be in order so look for me and Brooke on TV!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

White Sox aren't the only team in town

Today I took in a Kane County Cougars game, compliments of an employee appreciation promotion. Charles and Paul were along for the ride and even though the Cougars ultimately lost 6-5, it was a very enjoyable afternoon. The weather was perfect, although the sunburn on my shoulders might disagree. It was also nice just to watch a baseball game and not really care who won. I mean, it would have been nice if the Cougars had won but it's not as life-or-death the way the Sox games have been lately. Sometimes I get overly emotional when watching my favorite team. Anyway, Charles and Paul proved to be excellent company. Good times.

On a side note, I'm finally watching the Rocky movies. I've made it through the first three and they keep getting better. After I watch 4 and 5, I'm moving on to the Godfather trilogy and Lord of the Rings. How is it possible that I've never seen any of these classic movies? I'm still not sure but I'm trying to make up for lost time.

Other highlights from this weekend: hanging out with the Gat and Jill until the wee hours of the morning, grabbing breakfast with my good friend Christy, exploring Hawkins Circle, and watching Rocky 2 and 3. Plus I was on call for 24 hours and did not get called out!

Monday, August 14, 2006

This is what refreshed feels like


My weekend camping was amazing! The weather was perfect, Lake Geneva was beautiful, and I had a blast with my friends. I was completely in my element. There's just something about the outdoors, you know? It was nice to just relax and let the day unwind. We walked through uncharted forest, hit the beach, roasted marshmallows, played Rumikub, frisbee, and bags, and just generally enjoyed each other's company. The best part? I was the Funny Friend this weekend! I know I have moments where I'm funny but that's typically not my role- I'm usually the Good Listener or the White Sox fan, to list a couple of the usual suspects. For whatever reason, my friends thought I was hillarious. I'm pretty sure that I'll need to be the Funny Friend for the rest of my life now; I just can't go back. It's good to come back feeling refreshed and free of all my stress. I was reminded of how God has been taking care of me all along and got some good insights on how to handle my current circumstances. And to top it all off, the Sox swept the Tigers! Could life be any better?


My tent buddy Danielle, Lexie and Danielle give into their Starbucks craving, Brooke and Lauren keep the fire alive, Lauren and I contemplate our next Rumikub move

Friday, August 11, 2006

It's camping time!

Work has been crazy again the last couple of weeks, it's just that point of the cycle. Hopefully I'll only have another week of madness and then it'll calm down for awhile. I'm feeling a little burnt out this week, pretty much drained by some of the needs of my patients. My caseload is pretty stable, probably around 33, which is normal. I just have a lot of high need patients. I've also had some young moms with children lately. It's nice to work with the kids but it's so heartbreaking at the same time. Sometimes I walk away feeling like I haven't done enough. At the same time, the only One who can really help these families is God. I just keep praying for the strength to get through another day and that He would enable me to comfort and support those He has placed in my life. Last Friday I had to rush out to be with a family who had lost their 102 year old mother/grandmother. They were absolutely hysterical and I ended up staying there for close to 3 hours just listening and soothing everyone. I must have done something good- I got a message this afternoon that the granddaughter dropped off 2 big sheet cakes in appreciation for all that the hospice team did for the family. Yum! It was very sweet of her to do that. It's a good reminder that I am making an impact, even when I'm not sure what kind of impact that is. Thankfully it's Friday again, my day is almost over and I'm set to go camping with some of my college friends. It's coming at a very good time. Hopefully I can just enjoy the beach, hike, relax, and come back refreshed and restored.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

One down, a few more to go

Last night's game against the Yankees was amazing! The crowd was crazy- I love when the whole ballpark chants "let's go White Sox" and claps in time! Brooke and I were thrilled to have several opportunity's to sing the Let's Go Go Go White Sox song a few times- and we weren't the only ones to have the words memorized. That, my friends, is progress. As we were waiting for the game to start, I turned to Brooke and said, "We're going to win tonight." I was somehow very sure about it. I had no idea it would take 11 innings and what nailbiters those innings were! It seemed to be a back and forth rally of hits. We were down 5-4 in the 9th inning when up stepped Paulie and blasted a homer, off of Rivera no less who has allowed only one other home run this season. Insane and yet so totally White Sox. Finally in the 11th with 2 men on base, JD hit a walkoff single allowing Gooch to score. We went crazy! If you've seen me in action at a game, then you have a good idea of what I mean. If you haven't experienced a game with me yet, well I'm not going to be humble- you're just plain missing out! The extra innings forced me to take the 12:40 am train home- I missed the 11:40 pm by about 15 minutes. But after a game like that, who cares? Sure I'm tired today but the White Sox beat the Yankees! All is right with the world. I liked Scott Merkin's closing lines here:

Sure, it was just one win, following a formula the White Sox have employed many times over the past couple of highly successful years. But as they battle toward a second straight playoff spot, the players hope this is a victory that could spark a sustained run in the direction of the postseason.
"Regardless of how much we are down in the standings, you still have to work hard because you never know what could happen," Dye said. "It definitely helps with our confidence."
"We haven't had a game like that in a long time," Konerko added. "It was a real tight game, good pitching, clutch hitting and it came out with the right ending. Anytime you hit a home run off a Hall of Famer like that to tie up a game ... Hopefully that sparks us and gets us going in the right direction."

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

I knew I liked her for a reason!

Due to amazing technology, I found out today that Kelly Clarkson is my celebrity look-alike. I always knew fame was in my blood. And it explains why I find her music to be so damn catchy.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No one should like the Twins


Postive: Brooke and I got to sit in the bleachers right behind Brian Anderson. We had fun chatting. Thome and Crede both hit homers.
Negative: We lost to the Twins! So sad, frustrating, maddening, inexplicable! Shape up, boys or we're going to lose our lead!

Gotta love those cousins

My cousin Patrick (lone fellow Sox fan amongst our relatives) married Felicia in the Dominican Republic June 17. They held a reception for family and friends in Kenosha, WI Saturday night and much fun ensued. I am so happy for them both! Other things I was happy about: dancing the night away and eating prime rib. Delicious!

me, Heather (Jon's wife), and Kelli (Adam's fiancee) who is now bound and determined to set me up with her brother who just got back from Iraq, I'm not sure how I feel about that idea but she seems very happy about it

Me and the boys: Jon, Pat, Adam, and Zack

I managed to get them all out on the dance floor, even Jon. And he was still sober! My aunt told me that I'm the only one who could get him to do that. It's true. There's almost nothing my cousins wouldn't do for me. Let that be a lesson to any guy who breaks my heart- they will hunt you down!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Grandmas are Great!

My grandma told hospice RN Beth that I seem to have found my calling in this line of work and that she is proud of me. How sweet is she? Of course, she also told Beth that she really wants me to get married! Bless my family's hearts. It doesn't bother me though because they are all wonderful, loving people and I am blessed to have them in my life. Plus my grandma makes a mean batch of chicken noodle soup and the best desserts you have ever tasted! Beth told me that Aunt Teresa is her favorite patient and Chaplain Ron called to tell me that he got his picture taken with Aunt Teresa (to help her remember who all the team members are) so he felt special. I know I'm biased but it's always nice when other people recognize how great your family is.

Something that made me laugh this afternoon. We get text messages from the office throughout the day, usually regarding meeting times or if a patient needs supplies or has died. Here it is: "Pt. XYZ at CDH has expired, Ron was singing to her."

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Work comes home

This has been a whirlwind week in every sense of the word. Work has been crazy, not because of a high caseload but because of high need patients. Things have been going smoothly the last few weeks so I knew it was only a matter of time before everything got kicked up a notch. What I didn't count on was work hitting so close to home. On Tuesday my great-aunt Teresa was diagnosed with brain tumors; it is actually a secondary cancer but they will not be further testing to find where the primary cancer is. Teresa is developmentally disabled with the cognitive abilities of a 6-8 year old. She has lived with my grandparents for probably over 30 years. My grandma decided not to tell Teresa what is happening because 1) so far she has no pain issues and does not seems to be aware of her decline and 2) it would scare and upset her greatly. On Wednesday my mom accompanied my grandma and Aunt Teresa to the doctor to discuss options. Basically Teresa has 3 to 4 months left and the doctor recommended hospice. At this point I was not aware of Teresa's diagnosis so I was pretty confused when my mom called to get the number for my agency. She called me back after leaving the doctor and filled me in. Such a shock. I don't think anyone in the family has really comprehended it yet. On Thursday Teresa was admitted to my hospice. There was a bit of dialog between me and my supervisor regarding what role I should play, since my grandparents technically live in my territory and my grandma requested that I be the social worker. I was ready to respect whatever decision Joyce made. In the end they decided that I should just be a family member instead of the social worker and in hindsight, I think it's the best. I was able to pick the team that will be working with them which was a huge weight off of my mind. I really like all of my coworkers but it's funny how things change when it comes to your family. Yesterday I went out to the farm and spent time with everyone. I was really unprepared to see how declined Teresa is. I hadn't seen her since Father's Day and there is such a marked difference. She has to use a walker now and at times it seems like she does not remember how to walk. It's been an emotional week and I'm not able to think about life without Teresa in it yet. It's been good to shepherd my family through the hospice admission and answer questions. They are getting a better sense of what I do, ironically. I suppose at the very least this will help me relate better to my patients and families. We used hospice for my great-uncle 12 years ago but I don't remember much about that. To be a part of this journey and to use my own expertise to help my family is a blessing. I pray that God will comfort us and give us strength for whatever comes our way.

Monday, July 10, 2006

The Long Haul

Guess who was at the longest game in US Cellular Field yesterday? That's right, me and Jill. We stuck it out for all 19 innings (6 hours and 19 minutes) to see our boys toss out the Red Sox 6-5. JD proved once again what a stellar player he is: he homered in the 9th inning tying the game and made all kinds of catches in the outfield, even acquainting himself with the fence at one point. It was crazy!
We tried the Park in Chinatown and Take the Red Line method which went pretty well aside from parking being a little difficult to find in Chinatown on a Sunday afternoon. Nonetheless, after the win we stopped to indulge in bubble tea and then made the trek back to the suburbs. It was a good, albeit long day.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

My special gift

I would like to take this moment to share with you a special gift I have, a talent if you will. Some people have gaydar. I, however, have Soxdar. What is this special gift, you ask? We live in a freakish world where loveable losers gain the biggest fan base. Those of us who support winning yet underappreciated teams form an immediate bond upon learning that we cheer for the same team. For instance, when Jill and I realized at Winter Retreat 2005 that we were both White Sox fans, I knew then that she would be a friend for life. And guess what? Now we're going to Ireland together. The Lord works in wonderful ways. But I digress. The fact is, even though the Sox are getting more respect because they are World Series Champs, they still have an underrepresented fanbase. It really defies logic. Here's where my gift comes into play. At any given time, I have the ability to spot Sox gear from yards away, whether it is a license plate frame or bumper sticker, a fan wearing a shirt or hat in a passing car, or a sign on a house. It does not matter how fast the car (mine or theirs) is going or where I'm at. If there is a Sox fan in my midst, I will spot them. It brings such satisfaction to my heart knowing that I have found someone else who has chosen the way of life, light, and goodness. It gives me hope that one day everyone will see the light and realize that the White Sox are the only team worth cheering for.

On a side note, Kelly, Jill, Paul, and I were at the game last night. While I have never had so much trouble finding parking before in my life, we had a great night, the Sox won 4-2 (of course!), JD performed very well, and Paul won my Favorite Person award for his spontaneous decision to join us for the game with only an hour's notice! Thanks to Jill's dad for the tickets- he is just really really ridiculously awesome!

Punch AJ!


The White Sox have 12 reasons why AJ Pierzynski deserves to go the All Star game. Here are my favorites:

12) Because how can you not vote for a guy who kissed the World Series trophy, a dolphin and Oprah all in the same year?
11) Because of last Saturday's game-winning home run against the Cubs.
10) Because if the American League wants to win, it's smart to have a guy who hits .356 in the late innings and .571 with the bases loaded...and hasn't been on a losing team in five seasons.
9) Because you have to love a guy who names his daughter A.J.
6) Because let's face it: The Sox don't play the Cubs again this season, so if you don't "Punch A.J." now, he might have to wait until next summer.
5) Because he would be the only two-sport star in the game (pro wrestling and baseball).

What are you waiting for? Punch AJ now!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Turn the music up

I regularly binge on CDs and so here's what I've been listening to this week:

Eels- Blinking Lights
Gnarls Barkley- St. Elsewhere
Matisyahu- Youth
India.Arie- Testimony: vol. 1, Life & Relationships
Corinne Bailey Rae- self-titled
Patty Griffin- Flaming Red
Little Big Town- The Road to Here
Death Cab for Cutie- Plans

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I love it when Bobby Jenks emails me (and everyone else)!

Hi White Sox Fans,
I can't believe that we're already three months into the 2006 season. I'm sure that you would agree that it seems like just yesterday we were celebrating our World Series title. It's amazing how much has changed since then, both for me and for our club. But I have to say that it has been so nice to be back in Chicago and playing in front of such great fans.
The support we received during our playoff run last season was incredible, and I didn't think it would be possible for that atmosphere to be duplicated, but the ballpark has been electric the first half of this season because of our fans. So I really want to thank you for all of your support, because you've been great this season – from the moment we raised the World Series banner on Opening Day through the energetic crowds last week against St. Louis and Houston.
As for myself, I have taken such a liking to the city of Chicago, the White Sox and our fans that my wife and I came to the decision this offseason to make Chicago our home 12 months a year. We have loved the area since I signed with the White Sox, and I can't tell you how comfortable we feel in this city. I love it because it is a big city and there is so much to do. There is such a great feel to it, and I love the bond I feel with the people of Chicago, even though I've been with the White Sox for less than two years.
As for our club this year, I am pleased with the way that our season is going so far. We knew that it was going to be a fight to the finish with so many tough teams in the American League Central, and it looks like it is shaping up to be a great pennant race when August and September roll around.
The last two years here in Chicago have been amazing, and I couldn't ask for a better manager to play for than Ozzie Guillen. He has had nothing but confidence in me since Day 1, and I have him to thank for the chance to succeed at the Major League level. I still sit down in the bullpen every once in a while and realize that I'm in the dugout as a Major Leaguer, not in the stands as a fan.
Last year – especially the World Series – really was everything I imagined it would be since I was a little kid. The atmosphere at U.S. Cellular Field was something that I will never forget, and I still can't believe the support that White Sox fans showed at the parade. I don't know if I will ever forget seeing all the people line the streets on the South Side as our busses went by... or the thousands of fans who jammed the streets downtown. It was just amazing.
Everything about last year was such an amazing experience, and I've realized how committed Ozzie, Kenny Williams, Jerry Reinsdorf and the entire organization are to winning since the World Series. It made the offseason even more enjoyable knowing that Paulie was going to be back in our clubhouse, and that we had added such a strong left-handed bat in Jim Thome.
Although there were some changes since last year's team, the one thing that hasn't changed is the attitude in our clubhouse. I have been in a lot of different clubhouses over the years, and this one has the tightest friendships I've ever seen. Everyone gets along, and that really helps both on and off the field and has been a major factor in our success.
Hopefully our success will continue throughout the second half of the season. We expect to bring another AL Central Division title to the South Side and give our fans the opportunity to cheer us deep into the postseason once again. The large crowds have helped us already this year, and we know your support will keep us going as we push for our second straight division title. Thanks, and I hope to see you all at the ballpark soon.
Sincerely, Bobby Jenks

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Calling all voters


S.O.S - SEND OUR SOX - THEY NEED YOUR HELP

Calling all White Sox fans! Now's the time to show your Sox Pride and vote our Sox into the 2006 All-Star Game, taking place July 11 in Pittsburgh. In-stadium balloting ended on June 22 - so now the only way to vote your favorite White Sox players into the All-Star Game is by voting online now » As past history has shown us, it's still not too late. Tadahito Iguchi is running a close third at 2nd base, and Paul Konerko is trailing David Ortiz and Jason Giambi at 1st base. Remember: White Sox fans sent Scott Podsednik to the All-Star Game last year by voting online. You can do it again in 2006!
Vote up to 25 times to make sure your favorite White Sox get to Pittsburgh alongside Manager Ozzie Guillen.
What better way to send a message to the world than to send the Champs to the Midsummer Classic?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Love and Baseball

Yesterday was a pretty emotional day for me what with marrying my best friend off the day before. It was bound to hit me sooner or later but I didn't expect that level of melancholy. As happy as I am for Erin, I still have to wonder when it will be my turn. In high school Annie, Tracy, Erin, and I used to talk about who would get married first. They always said it would be me (even as they went through boyfriends and I discovered the joys of being a third wheel). It's just down to me and Annie now and it seems as if I have no prospects. At least no prospects that will follow through on their intentions. So there I was: sad and frustrated. The sermon was about joy, which was timely. I spent some time reading through the Psalms and found some good applicable verses and just poured my heart out to God once again. Back to being patient and seeking contentment. I can accept the lapses as long as I remember to depend on God through it all.
Bringing this lesson to the forefront...last night I was at the Sox game against the Astros. I took my super fun friend Kibibi. It was her first Sox game and we had a blast, even though my beloved guys were losing for most of the game. I was more worried about Kibibi than anything else- it was her first game after all! Our mantra may be "Don't Stop Believing" but I confess my hope was getting smaller and smaller as the game progressed and the score became 9-2. Then Iguchi came out in the 7th and homered with 2 men on base. YES! There's nothing like a last minute rally, a definite White Sox specialty. But then the 7th inning ended and the 8th inning came and went. Into the 9th Pierzynski, Cintron, and Podsednik are on base and up steps Iguchi once again. I thought, wouldn't it be wonderful if he hit a grand slam and we tied the game? And then I thought, well, he just hit that other home run so it probably won't happen. Miracle of miracles, he got a grand slam! The crowd went crazy, no one more so than me and Kibibi. We could not stop screaming! Well, after that we got all the way to 13 innings and a really bad call which ended up with the Astros scoring a run. We would get a few guys on base but no one was able to pull it off, losing 10-9. Still, a phenomenal game!
So what is my point in telling you all this? There seem to be parallels between the game and my love life. I love when God sends me encouragement in the form of my baseball team! For most of my life I have struggled with the whole dating arena, feeling like a loser because I never had a boyfriend. My hope was small but flickering. God has definitely grown me through those low points and shown me that my identity is found in him, not whether I'm dating someone. I've also realized in the last few years that a boyfriend is not a magical cure all that will make everything happy and wonderful. Relationships are hard work! Flash forward: Iguchi's home run in the 7th? That's kind of like last year when a guy actually pursued me! OK, so we didn't date for longer than a week but it was encouraging at the same time. My own personal rally. Now I'm in the 9th inning, prospects look grim and sometimes it's hard to trust that there is a good guy out there for me. This is the very time though that I need to hope the most. I need to keep walking, keep trusting, and one of these days, I will meet that man and he will sweep me off my feet. There's the grand slam. He's not here yet, but he will be worth the wait. And then the crowd (aka my family and friends) will really go wild.

Wedding Season

With the Groom-to-be Mark at the rehearsal dinner
Erin is such a beautiful bride!
Tracy and I are looking pretty good ourselves
Caron, Tracy, and Ellen at the reception (before Ellen "stole" the bouquet from me)

Erin and Mark were married on Saturday! It was a beautiful ceremony and we all had a blast at the reception dancing the night away. Every time I looked at the newlyweds, I could not stop smiling. I am so happy for them!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Last Comic Standing

My new favorite show is Last Comic Standing. Granted it is in its 4th season so it is not a new show but it is new to me so that should count for something. I caught the 3rd episode last week and was quickly hooked. Lucky for me Bravo was showing the first two episodes the other night so I was able to catch up before the new episode aired Tuesday night. Most of the 12 final comedians are genuinely laugh out loud funny. And the ones that aren't are quickly being voted off the boat (so long, Stella!). The fact that they're performing on a cruise ship is possibly the only cheesy thing about this show. I'm rooting for Bil (from Evergreen Park!), Ty (from Chicago!), Chris, and Josh Blue (a paralympic soccer player with cerebral palsy). Especially for Josh- he is amazing! I hope they make it in to the top 6 with either Gabriel, Rebecca or Kristen rounding it out. They say laughter is the best medicine and I definitely have been needing to laugh lately. It's a match made in heaven!

TY BARNETT Hometown: Chicago, IL Ty Barnett began touring -- and earning rave reviews -- in California, Oregon and Canada before being voted "Up-and-coming Comedian of the Year" in 2002 at the Las Vegas Comedy Festival. He first gained the attention of Hollywood after being named "Outstanding Performer" at Montreal's "Just for Laughs Festival." Since then, Barnett has appeared on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" as well as "Jimmy Kimmel Live" and is a regular on the "Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson." Additional television credits include "Comedy Central Presents," "Premium Blend" and numerous television commercials, and he appeared in the feature film "Stand-up." He has been the opening act for Donna Summer, and has also performed with Chris Rock, Al Green and Robert Schimmel. On the comedy club circuit, Barnett has performed at the Improv, Caroline's, The Comic Strip, Caesar's Palace, Zanie's and The Ice House, and is one of the most requested comedians at colleges across the country.

BIL DWYER Hometown: Evergreen Park, IL Bil Dwyer is an accomplished standup comic whose resume also includes acting, hosting and writing. His hip and sardonic takes on marriage, kids and family have been showcased in the half-hour comedy special "Comedy Central Presents: Bil Dwyer," as well as on "The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn," "The Martin Short Show," NBC's "Late Friday," "Evening at the Improv" and "Caroline's Comedy Hour." Dwyer guest-starred on "The Larry Sanders Show" and "Ally McBeal," and currently hosts GSN's "I've Got a Secret." He has hosted "Extreme Dodgeball," "That '70s House," "Battlebots" and "Dirty Rotten Cheaters," and has been a regular comedy commentator on VH1's series "I Love the '70s," "I Love the '80s" and "I Love the '90s." Additional credits include "The Test," VH1's "The List," E's "Rank" and AMC's "Movies at Our House." On the big screen, Dwyer appeared in the films "Ski School 2," "The Bogus Witch Project" and "What Planet Are You From?"
CHRIS PORTER Hometown: Kansas City, KS Kansas City native Chris Porter has been a comedian for the past eight years, and says the best part of being a comic is "the complete lack of responsibility." He has performed on Comedy Central and in comedy clubs and colleges all over the country, drawing his material from "living life as a 27-year-old comedian who wakes up at noon and does whatever he wants." Porter got his start in comedy when a friend tried it first and suggested he try it too. "I fell in love with it the moment I stepped on stage," says Porter, whose unique observations on life – often told from a Midwest perspective – help define his "rock 'n' roll" style of comedy. He was recently seen on Comedy Central's "Live Tour" and will be appearing in the new season of their series "Live at Gotham," airing this summer. He has performed at The Improv -- including the Hollywood, Miami, Tampa and Orlando locations -- as well as at Funnybones, Zanies, Loony Bins and Stardome.
JOSH BLUE Hometown: Camaroon, West Africa A gifted stand-up comedian and talented U.S. Paralympic soccer player, Josh Blue refuses to bow to any of the challenges that come from living with cerebral palsy. He jokes, "I realize that people are going to stare so I want to give them something to stare at." He uses his self-deprecating sense of humor to defy stereotypes and encourage others to overcome their pre-conceived notions about disabled people. Blue -- who was born in Camaroon, West Africa, and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota -- has been making audiences laugh in top comedy clubs, theaters, college campuses and corporate events all over the country. At the 2004 Las Vegas Comedy Festival, he won the $10,000 Grand Prize at the Royal Flush Comedy Competition, and he earned rave reviews on the college circuit in 2005. He has also guest-starred on Comedy Central's "Mind of Mencia." In addition to being a stand-up comic, Blue is also a U.S. Paralympic soccer player, and he participated in the 2004 Paralympic Games that took place in Athens, Greece.

Monday, June 19, 2006

I Love JD movement continues

Jermaine Terrell Dye knocked out his 20th home run last night when the Sox finished sweeping up the Reds! I am so proud of him! I don't want to jinx him but if he keeps it up he'll blow his career high out of the water. And check this out, compliments of Derfman:
A question from a New Yorker and fielded by Sports Illustrated columnist Tom Verducci:

"With Carlos Beltran being one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now, David Wright being David Wright and, of course, Carlos Delgado, do you think the Mets have the best middle of the lineup in baseball?" -- Steve Dubois, New York City
It's very close, but I might give the White Sox a slight edge right now because Jermaine Dye has just been crushing the ball behind Jim Thome and Paul Konerko.

Tom Verducci is clearly a truth teller. I like that.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A word from my main man

Dear White Sox Fans,
We're almost at the halfway point of the season, and so far we're pretty happy with how the season is going. We've hit some rough patches along the way, but for the most part, we're doing the things we need to do to win ballgames, and that's the main goal.
We really aren't doing anything different as a team, as far as last year vs. this year. We take the same approach and bring the same mindset into each game. As professionals, we can't have an attitude that we are the defending champs – we need to approach each game the way we did last season, when we were trying to get to the top.
You definitely can see that teams are more focused on playing the White Sox this season. And I can see that pitchers are more focused on trying to prove something to us. It seems like every pitcher is bringing his "A" game to the mound.
Speaking of other teams, we're not surprised at all by how well the Tigers are playing this year, and like we've said all along, we expect the Central Division to be a dogfight until the end of the season. But when it's all said and done, we're going to do everything we can to come out on top again.
For me, personally, I'm just trying to do whatever I can to help us win, and I've been fortunate to get off to a quick start. This year, it seems like I've been able to stay more in a daily routine, regardless of whether I'm getting a lot of hits. It's my second season with the White Sox, so it helps that I am more familiar with the environment, with the coaching staff and the players around me. It definitely helps to find a comfort level in the clubhouse and in my routine.
I just wanted to get off to a good start this season and see what happens. Obviously I would be honored to make the All-Star Team, but it's not a goal I set for myself. If I'm selected because we are winning ballgames, then it would be even more special.
With the numbers Jim, Paulie and I have been fortunate to put up, I would have to say we are right near the top, if not at the top, in terms of 3-4-5 hitters in baseball. I would probably have to say it's the best middle of the lineup I've played with or been a part of. With Oakland, we had Jason Giambi and Eric Chavez, and Mike Sweeney was in Kansas City, but overall I would put this group at the top of the list.
Jim adds another threat to the lineup and takes so much pressure off everyone around him. You can see the amount of respect that pitchers have for him and how carefully they pitch to him. But that just helps out Paulie and me hitting right behind him. It's so much tougher for pitchers to do their job when there are men on base. Plus, Jim is such a good guy and a great influence on the rest of the clubhouse – especially the younger guys – but even the veterans, too. Just to watch his approach and see the way he treats people makes it fun to be around him.
We expect even bigger things in the second half of the season, and we know it's going to be tough. No one in the clubhouse is talking about a World Series. We just want to play well day-to-day, and hopefully when the dust settles at the end of September, we'll be in the playoffs again. At that point, anything can happen, as we learned last year!
Thank you for coming out to the ballpark and cheering us on; it's been a nice boost and a big reason why we have the best home record in the big leagues so far. We couldn't do it without you.
Sincerely – Jermaine Dye

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Where did she go?

It's true it's been awhile since I've been able to post anything. First, I moved to a new apartment. I upgraded from the loft to a room with a door, bathroom, and walk in closet. I miss Jen a bunch but I adore my new room! Second, Donna and I were without internet access for 2 weeks. My friend Julie was nice enough to let me use her computer to check my email every few days but it was hard enough just trying to stay on top of my correspondence (sounds official doesn't it?) Third, I finally went on my Grand Canyon hike with Hike for Discovery through The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. It was amazing, beautiful, challenging, inspiring, great, wonderful, fantastic! Donna and I did a 7 hour hike on the Keibab trail and I was really proud of myself for how well I did. The training did a great job to prepare me. I can't wait to go back!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

How appropriate

Naperville church sign: Feeling stressed? We're open Sundays.
And a good thing that is!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Squirrels love the White Sox too

The Gate 5 Gang reunited at the Sox game last night against the Athletics. Of course my guys pulled through and we won but it was a nail biter of a game. Frank Thomas got 2 home runs (wish we'd seen more of that last season when he was still one of us), Ozzie was ejected from the game, and a squirrel provided an interesting diversion during the 2nd inning. After my love affair with Scott Podsednik last season, I've decided my favorite player of 2006 is JD- he is solid, consistent, and, while he was World Series MVP, doesn't get enough love from the fans. I am proud to launch the I Love JD movement. After his home run last night though, I'm sure many more will be jumping on his bandwagon. I'll let you read the Gat's (nice picture) and Todd's write ups on the rest of the game because they're funny and they have more time to write than I do right now. Such is the case when you're getting ready to move in 3 days. I don't even have time to watch the finales of Alias or Lost! That's how you know it's serious. In any case, enjoy these pictures.
















The Gate 5 Gang unveils the new t-shirts (sorry it turned out so shadowy)

















Jill, Todd, Mark, and Brooke: Post game rejoicing

Monday, May 22, 2006

Road observations

Does anyone know if all law enforcement officers are able to give you a ticket for speeding? I only ask because I've seen a couple of other random cop cars lately. Naperville has a Community Service Officer (do they make sure there's no littering or jaywalking?) and last week while driving through Batavia I saw a U.S. Customs car. Not sure why they would need to be in Batavia unless the town is a hotbed for illegal immigrants. Drug Busts used to be the big thing but we must be moving to Immigrant Busts based on the current political situation.

Best Recently Sighted Vanity Plates
WVM 63 (OK, it's probably just his name but couldn't it also be code for a singles ad? Widowed Virile Male, age 63, seeks companion...)
EBAY PD 4 (a sporty red Camaro, how's that for advertising?)

Fun Bumper Stickers
Don't Mess With Texas
Honk If You Honky Tonk
White Sox World Series Champions 2005 (may or may not be featured on my car)

What happens in St. Louis, stays in St. Louis

But I will still share a few pictures from Erin's memorable bachelorette weekend...





















Katie, Amy, Annie, the Bride, Caron, Pam, Bethany
Julie, me, Andrea, and Ellen at Mt. Pleasant Winery. Good times!


Erin and I toast to her future

Erin up on stage at The Big Bang. Check out her Advice for the Bride shirt!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Road Signals

I had a most interesting idea today and you are lucky enough that I will share it with you. As I was driving this morning, I saw an Elgin cop car. First, I wondered why the Elgin police would be in Naperville, which led to me surmising that perhaps they are setting up a drug bust sting operation of some sort. I figure that's a Naperville cop's dream- how exciting can handing out speeding tickets be? While I was chuckling to myself, the Elgin cop passed a Naperville police car. (Please keep following the stream of consciousness here.) You know how bikers signal to each other when they pass on the road? It's their way of saying, "aren't motorcycles great?", kind of spreading some biker community love. I started to wonder if cops have a signal. It would have to be more subtle than flashing the lights but not a rip off of the token biker move. I didn't see any interaction between the two cars which was a pity. Now I've also seen truckers hauling for the same company acknowledge each other. Here's my idea: if bikers and truckers, and maybe one day cops, can all have special signals for each other, why not those of us who drive Toyota Corollas? I happen to be a big fan of my car. When I was 10 I decided that the Corolla was the car for me. I'm not sure why but the dream never died. My car has treated me well and I feel that I should be able to share that love with the rest of the Corolla community. My roommate Jen has a Corolla so maybe we'll cook something up. I don't want nonCorolla drivers to feel left out. I want to reassure you all that I do appreciate motor vehicles of all kinds- for instance, some of you know about my special affinity for Mustangs! Let us not limit road signals to the bikers and truckers of this nation, each car has the potential to go beyond the head nod, the wave, the thumbs up. Each car has the potential to reach out to its car community. At the same time, let's keep it clean, remember it's about showing pride not showing off. I'm thinking we should follow Demetri Martin's example (listen to clips!): we salute each other and say, "Here's to you. I like what you drive."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

A typical day?

Recently someone asked me what a typical work day looked like. I had to laugh in response. In any given day, I have no clue what will happen. Basically I have to be available, flexible, and plan that my plans will be broken. One of my families asked me if it was like being on-call all the time. Pretty much, yes. Except I'm trying to do all my regular visits at the same time. At least when I'm on call on the weekends the only things I'm trying to accomplish are get caught up on my tv shows and, these days, pack up my apartment. Just to give you a hint of what typical might look like, here's what happened this week:
Monday: I went into the office to drop off paperwork, make condolence calls, complete a referral for a volunteer, and set up a few visits. After that, I stopped by to see a patient who had been actively dying on Friday (I was with the family for 5 hours) but somehow turned the corner and is now alert and talking. Then I saw 3 patients at 2 different nursing homes then headed out to meet with a pt. who had just moved into his daughter's home. Once there "Amos" told me that his wife had him served with divorce papers on Friday, her form of punishment since he moved into his daughter's home instead of the nursing home like she wanted. And that's after more than 50 years of marriage! It was a pretty good visit, I'm going to try to facillitate a meeting between Amos, his daughter, and wife, if she'll agree to it. I'm not holding my breath. He's been living with his daughter for a month and his wife has refused to speak with him the whole time he's been there. I left her home a little bit before 5, 40 minutes later I got home and typed up my note.
Tuesday: While checking my voicemail at 8 am, I got an urgent text message from my boss requesting that I see an imminent pt. (just admitted last night) at a local Hospital ASAP. I'd already set up a visit with a new pt. for 9 am so I called Joyce to explain the situation, figuring I could be at the hospital by 10 or 10:30. She was fine with that since one of our RNs was heading over there first thing. I headed out to meet the new pt. and her husband, it went well. I made it to the hospital at 10 am (it worked!), found my patient's room, he died just as I walked in. Please, no angel of death jokes:) I comforted the family, called the coroner and funeral home, and helped out the hospital staff as able. After lunch, I saw 5 nursing home patients and called it a day.
Wednesday: Saw a nursing home patient and spoke to her daughter by phone, the daughter's son is being treated for cancer right now so she's barely hanging on. The patient is tired but stable, very sweet lady. Next, I saw one of my favorite patients, she is so strong and tough, she's been through so much yet has an awesome attitude. Her husband gave me a "hard" time since I didn't get to see them last week but I dished it right back. I love joking around with my families! Wednesdays we have ICC meetings in the afternoon so my next stop was our office. ICC stands for interdisciplinary case consulting, each week we discuss patients falling under half the alphabet (A-K or L-Z). Every 2 weeks I lead the meetings but this was not one of those weeks so I was able to catch up on paperwork a bit.
Thursday: I am now the social worker at an LTCF with whom we just renewed our contract. I saw a new patient there, such a sweet, spunky lady! Next I saw another favorite patient. She's starting to decline, becoming weaker and more confused, so it's sad. She always tells me she loves my visits but worries that she's taking me away from someone else who needs my help more. In the afternoon I saw a pt. in assisted living and then 3 pts. at a nursing home.
Friday: Started my day visiting a 98 year old woman at a nursing home. She always says, "Oh my land of Goshen" when she's excited, surprised, etc. I love her! She also gave me a Milky Way bar. Yum. Next I headed out to see a cute old Alzheimers man and his wife and daughter. They're coping pretty well but when he starts to decline the family will be a mess so I try to get out there every week. The next stop was an assisted living facility where I saw an old pt. and a new pt.
All in all a pretty good week. God came through to give me the strength to survive and, hopefully, thrive. Hope that gives you a somewhat better understanding of what my day can be like. Thinking back, this was pretty tame. Just wait until I get another crisis!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Let us not be complacent any longer

This baby was burned during a bombing in Darfur. This is the kind of picture that you don't want to look at. You gasp and think, "how awful!" then quickly move along with your day. The fact is, I'm tired of being witness to the tragedies in this world while idly standing by and twiddling my thumbs. One such tragedy is the genocide that has been perpetuated in Sudan. There is currently a campaign going on called A Million Voices for Darfur. They aren't asking for your money, and they are hardly asking for your time. Clicking on the following link will take you to a digital postcard urging President Bush to take action in Darfur. You don't even have to write anything if you don't want, just fill in your name and click send. If enough people take the time, we will present our president with the resounding message that we will not allow this genocide to continue. Thank you! http://millionvoicesfordarfur.org/

Another way to help is buying a t-shirt. The proceeds go to help the victims of genocide. My friend Ross and I put together an order of shirts last year. Let me know if you're interested and I'll put another order together. These are all small things but they are things that you and I can do and I feel that has to count for something.

If you want more information regarding the situation in Darfur, click here.


"If we turn our heads and look away and hope that it will all disappear then they will - all of them, an entire generation of people. And we will have only history left to judge us." -George ClooneyApril 30, 2006, Washington

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Ready to Go Fishing

From page 1 of A Girl's Best Friend by Kristen Billerbeck, one of my fave Christian chick lit authors:
There are plenty of fish in the sea. But really, there's not. It's not just our imaginations. It would be great if decent men were as plentiful as jumping salmon in a rushing river, but they aren't. For every Mr. Darcy (and he's married, incidentally) there are a hundred Mr. Wickhams. Or in more contemporary terms, for every one of Colin Firth, there are several thousand Hugh Grants. The odds are against us. But what can I say- I'm a romantic, and I can't abandon the fantasy of Prince Charming altogether. What girl with a heart can? I mean, I'm not asking to feed the five thousand; I just want one good fish!

Once again, Kristin Billerbeck writes what I'm thinking. The odds may be against me, but I'm trying to be patient and trust that God has a better plan in store for me. If only it wasn't so hard to be patient and trust God's timing! Still, He's always come through in the past. If God wants to drop off Mr. Right a little later than life, then here's to all the adventures I'll have along the way!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Observations from the Road

There appears to be an unusually large amount of roadkill today. Just about every street I used today had some form of dead animal. While going 60 mph down 75th street, I could swear I saw a dead anorexic donkey. But that doesn't make much sense.

Did you know that the Yorkville Police Dept. has a car for their Cadet Officer? Neither did I. Sounds pretty self important with not much experience to back it up. I think they could have come up with a better way to spend their extra tax dollars.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Big Bad Bobby

From the dream I had last night:
I was hanging out at U.S. Cellular Field but I didn't have a ticket to the game, I think because I was just stopping by on my way home from work. Somehow I got to go into this area in front of the lower box seats which was like the bullpen but not because it was sectioned off by a chain link fence. And there were no pitchers warming up. So I was just hanging out there, checking out the game. I think I might have been talking to friends who were sitting in the crowd. Then Bobby Jenks came over to me and we were talking. He told me he remembered me, which made me really happy. Also, in my dream, he was not married. He kept hugging me and telling me how great it was that I came and that we could talk. Then he said that he wished he had known that I was coming (at this point in the dream we appeared to have known each other for longer) because he would have made arrangements for me to have really good seats. He told me that his mom was at the game today and he really wanted her to meet me. I tried to be nonchallant, like it was no big deal to meet his mom but inside, I was really excited, although I think I was more excited that he appeared to have such a high opinion of me. Who knew? Me and Bobby Jenks: Best Friends Forever.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Where's my pint of Guinness?

Well, I guess I know what God's answer is. Last night Jill and I bought tickets for Ireland! YAY!!! I cannot even explain how excited I am! We'll be there for 4 nights and 5 days in November and it's so much cheaper than I ever imagined possible. Somebody pinch me! But not really. That might hurt.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Beauty shot

I just saw Jill on TV! The camera man got a close up of her clapping- perhaps he has a crush on our girl? When I called to let her know, she was obviously thrilled to hear the news and shared this sound byte: "And I'm not even blonde!" That's right, Jill. You're so much better.

For the love of the team

For the past week and a half I've been struggling with allergies and fighting off a cold all while trying to see my patients. It's been fun. This morning I did all my visits and I'll spend the afternoon typing my notes (there might be time for one more visit but we'll see how I feel.) The beauty of the situation is that while I'm typing my notes, I can have the Sox game on in the background. My wonderful friend Jill is lucky enough to be sitting in box seats today. Pretty much I'm jealous!

There are many reasons why I love my White Sox. One of the first things people learn about me is that #1) I'm a Sox fan and #2) I like to eat (shout out to TM!). The fact is, even if they hadn't won the World Series last year, I would still love my guys. It's a quality team, no doubt about it. I love the fact that whenever I see the beautiful trophy, watch a Grinder Ball rules commercial, or a video montage, I still get the chills and feel happy and excited all over again. I got teary eyed during the Home Opener. All those years of believing in my team when they never got the respect they deserved were finally justified when the Sox not only won the World Series, they swept the World Series. And I believe they can do it again! After all, they are currently the #1 team with a 19-8 record. The t-shirt is true: I am feeling pretty good about things these days. I know this is a sore subject for supporters of a certain team that shall remain nameless. I'm not trying to rub salt in the wounds. In spite of your teams current standings, remember that it's early in the season, anything could happen. Don't get me wrong, I'm hoping the Sox blow everyone else out of the water. I just hope to be a light to those who remain rooted in the dark side. Like Grinder Ball Rule #9 says: Be realistic. Expect miracles.