A Perfect Day For A Drive

I love to drive. Love it. Crank up the tunes, or occasionally a podcast, and let my mind go. Alone with my thoughts, alone with God, alone to laugh or cry or plan or sing at the top of my lungs. (Oh yea ~ that definitely happens).

Today I made the four-hour drive home from my parents’ house, and it was a completely beautiful day, so I whipped out the camera phone and snapped a few pictures of my favorite parts of the drive.

Not to worry, I deleted many more than I kept because my eyes were on the road!!

Landscape

The landscape on the western side of Wisconsin is beautiful; all hills and valleys.

Through The Bluffs

And then every once in awhile, I get to drive right through the bluff. Stunning.

After about 40 minutes, the interstate breaks; I keep going on my way home, but I always think of my sister because that’s the way to her house!

Through The Bluffs Again

More driving through the bluffs. Even after 8 years, it’s hard for me to believe that this is seriously Wisconsin.

Bluff-Scape

Seriously. I get to see this. Every time.

Mauston Exit

An hour into the drive, I’m done with the interstate. Straight would take me to my friend Sarah’s house, which is another happy thought!

Woodside Ranch

This is my favorite. Woodside Ranch. The highway literally runs through the ranch, which houses horse trails and beautiful rustic cabins in the woods on one side, and hundreds of horses and buffalo on the other. After several years of driving through, Terry surprised me with a long weekend here!! It definitely lived up to everything I had always imagined, and now driving through means wonderful memories every time.

Woodside Ranch Cabins

See the cabin towards the bottom left of the photo? The cabin that we stayed in, aptly named Memories, is that dark space just up and to the right. Seriously. Such great memories. I loved that trip.

Approaching the WI River

Crossing the Wisconsin River is definitely a highlight for me.

Wisconsin River

Stunning.

Ice Fishing

My drive curves around this beautiful little lake; you can see a truck and some ice fishermen out there! I saw quite a few people out enjoying the winter weather on the lakes today.

Train

I saw two trains today! Trains rolling through the countryside speak nostalgia to me…

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As I traverse across the middle of Wisconsin, the landscape takes a turn towards hugely forested.

Montello

Although my Dad assures me that I’m quite wrong, in my mind Montello always signals the halfway point of my drive!

Montello Waterfalls

I do not know the story here. I do know that when you drive through Montello, you see waterfalls. And sometimes, those waterfalls are frozen.

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Part of my drive carries me along this beautiful, sparkling river.

Smalltown, USA

This tiny downtown is actually not on my main highway home. I usually use it if I want to try to bypass a semi! Isn’t it adorable though? Terry and I ate lunch once in the restaurant in the very front left of the picture.

Farmscape

I. Love. Wisconsin. Farms.

I love this drive, and on a beautiful sunny day, it was perfect.

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Psalm 19:1

Flipping That Switch

I returned home yesterday after spending the weekend at a conference with the teens from my church. On the last day of the conference, Sunday morning, as we all sat in that huge convention room one last time, sleep-deprived and ready to go home, the keynote speaker issued a final challenge.

By the thousands, we bowed our heads in prayer, and we invited the Lord God to speak into our hearts at that moment. As we were about to head for home, we invited the Lord to tell us what in our lives needs to stop, immediately.

Well, the Lord spoke to me instantly, and in usual Katie style, His answer was grand, and moving, and beautiful.

Um, no. The Creator of the universe and lover of my soul spoke to my heart, and he said these four little words:

“Turn off the TV.”

And, in usual Katie style, my automatic response to the Creator of the universe and lover of my soul was truly accepting and eloquent:

“Wait, what? That can’t be right…”

Yes, for just a few seconds, I argued with God and justified my sin. I told myself that He didn’t really say it, He couldn’t really mean it. Since when does God tell people to turn off the TV? I gave Him this great opportunity to tell me anything, and that’s what He said? I must have imagined it.

And then I admitted to myself that I had opened my heart to Him and He had indeed spoken to me. I just didn’t like His answer. I don’t like that TV watching is my sin. One of my sins. Quite frankly, my sin sounds dumb to my ears. But it’s so very true.

This morning I got out of bed, and as I went about my bathroom routine, my finger itched toward the television remote. It’s my routine; I listen to the TV. The TV is on in my home pretty much every waking minute of the day while I’m there, at least while I’m there by myself. I turn it on to listen to, to keep me company, entertain me, and I suppose even to block out my own thoughts at times. It fills my brain so that I don’t have to.

It steals my attention, it steals my focus. It fills my mind with the world. And on mornings that I don’t have to immediately get ready, I sit down for “a few minutes” to watch. And I become a slug. I hide from the world, from responsibility, from emotions and people and God. The TV is my go-to, catch-all comforter and fixer.

Watching TV is not always a sin, but it is a huge area of sin in my life.

My sin is gross, and it shames me.

This morning as my finger itched, as I automatically longed toward the noise that gives my brain respite, it suddenly clicked that it was time for me to choose.

What’s more important to me? Obeying the command of my Creator, who has a brilliant plan for my life if only I will allow Him in, or flipping that switch?

The answer seems obvious, but every time that I have chosen to turn the TV on and tune the world out I am speaking with my actions.

I finally know the right choice.

Turned OFF TV

Wonderful Weekend

This weekend was wonderful. I relaxed, and I reveled in my summery, non-student status.

On Friday I decided to take an impromptu trip down to Milwaukee for some much needed Trader Joe’s time ~ I hadn’t been since January and I desperately needed to stock up! Thankfully, I am now all set in that department. With Terry out of town all last week, Friday night consisted of cleaning out the fridge. I can’t lie though ~ it was a pretty pleasant evening!

Saturday morning I was up and at it early for a trip to the Farmer’s Market ~ the first of the season! Our Market is pretty small this time of year, but I did grab some tomato plants, and basil and parsley plants, plus a tiny cactus for a project that I’m plotting. I also grabbed two huge bags of fresh spinach!

The rest of the day was errands + laziness + office work.

Then this happened. And it was awesome.

After Trader Joe’s and the Farmer’s Market, I had some new deliciousness to try out, and it all came together Saturday night in this awesome salad. I started with a pile of fresh spinach and topped it with quartered and seared mini cucumbers and warmed mini heirloom tomato halves. That was all topped with reduced balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and a few torn fresh basil leaves. All served with a goat cheese medallion on the side. So, so good. Seriously good.

Sunday morning I was up way to early, but luckily for a good cause!

After a much needed caffeine pit-stop, I hit the road for Green Bay. One of our new friends from last month’s marriage retreat was running in the Cellcom race, and since they don’t live very close by I didn’t want to pass up the chance to see them! I got to spend time with Tanya and their kiddos while we watched for Trevor to finish his leg of the race. Such a fun time!

And then… Terry came home!! Finally. We spent the afternoon and evening catching up and bumming around, and generally taking it easy.

What did you do this weekend?

This and That

Or… What I’ve Been Up To Lately!!

1. On Saturday, our church hosted a one-day women’s retreat (more to come!). One of my besties, Colleen, picked me up, and I had to smile when I saw the Chobani in her purse because I had grabbed one on my way out of the house as well. As the retreat was getting started, we both had to laugh when we simultaneously pulled out kitchen-drawer spoons out of our respective bags! We may or may not have still been mid-giggle-fit during the opening prayer…

2. I have received my first football injury! So not as impressive as it sounds. Terry and I were tossing around the football on Monday night before my Character Development class, and somehow, someway (quite gracefully I’m sure!) I managed to catch the football with the tip of my ring finger, which jammed and swelled impressively and painfully. The next day, and still today, my finger turned up black and blue 360* degrees around. Pretty great. Sad news of it ~ I can’t get my wedding ring on.

3. At Saturday’s retreat, mentioned above, I had a definite I’m-turning-into-my-Mom experience. Making fun of my Mom for her tendency to massively overpack and bring multiple bags with her everywhere she goes is pretty much an ongoing activity in our family. Below, you can see everything I brought with me to my (one-day!) retreat. What’s in the bag? Snacks, writing utensils, feminine products. And at the beginning of the day my water bottle and sweater were in there too!

4. Terry has been having back pain for about six months now, and it has become more and more crippling. After months of trying everything we could think of (physical therapy, massage therapy, chiropractics, and even acupuncture), we and our family doctor finally made the decision for him to have an MRI last week. I’m not going to lie, it’s been an incredibly stressful week, ups and downs, fears and faith. Well, today we met with our ortho doctor and found out that for all intents and purposes, the results of the MRI were fantastic. Terry is tumor-free and growth-free, and there is nothing poking around in or out of his spine that shouldn’t be. Relief, and grace has been experienced today. The next step is a pretty intense physical therapy regimen for 4-6 weeks, and then re-evaluate. Prayers are welcome! Both for praise, and for perseverance.

5. At this point in the semester, my house has become absolutely disgusting. Like, I don’t even want to be here because the mess is scary! All I have time for is “surface cleaning”, which here means laundry, dishes, and sometimes the bed gets made. Tasks such as sweeping and shower scrubbing… Not happening. Case in point: this toilet paper has been sitting on our kitchen floor for about two weeks. Yes, we’ve just been grabbing rolls as we need them and leaving it as it lies! Full disclosure. In happier news, as of yesterday the toilet paper has been transferred to its proper home in the bathroom!

6. Last week, I had the fantastic opportunity to attend the Wisconsin Dietetic Association’s Annual Conference with UW Green Bay’s dietetics club. I wasn’t sure how I was going to enjoy it, but I’m so very, very glad I went. It was completely awesome to spend so much time surrounded by like-minded people who are actually working in the field that I am working towards. It really felt professional, and like a real life career choice. Does that sound silly? Oh, well! The conference also really affirmed for me that I am actually learning things in my program. I loved that I was able to sit through sessions geared toward real-life professional RDs and DTRs and comprehend the material that was presented. Awesome experience.

7. Although Terry and I have been a bit like ships passing in the night lately, we have actually made time for two recent date nights! On Saturday we saw the movie Chimpanzee ~ loved it! I still think African Cats was my favorite, although he said that this one was his. And tonight, we made a last-minute decision to go on an evening river-cruise that our local Maritime Museum was hosting as a fundraiser. I’m so glad we did, because it was a fantastic time!

  

8. After absolutely working my butt off, I finished up my business plan for my management class, and I am as proud and relieved as can possibly be. I also had to make a website, which I think turned out fantastic, and an advertisement, which Terry helped me out with completely by producing professionally. I’m so proud of this project!

9. I mentioned quite awhile ago that microbiology was completely not rocking my world. I’m happy to report, that has very much changed! It’s definitely not my favorite by any means, but I’m coming around at least. In lab we’re working on our unknowns, which means that we each get handed a random tube of “broth” which contains two bacteria strains, and we ultimately have to determine which two we have. It’s crazy, but I love that I have the skills to be successful, although i really don’t see myself ever doing this in my “real” life! In lecture, we’ve been talking about all kinds of gross and fascinating stuff like germs on surfaces, spread of disease, and STDs. Good times!

10. I think that may about cover it! I like to end on a nice even number like 10 though…!

What have you been up to lately??

Books, School, and Dessert Theater!

  • Yesterday I read Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. You read that right. Yesterday. I read the whole book. Since becoming a college student, one of the biggest things I miss is reading for fun, but there is just not the time. Now we know what happens when I’ve had those reading withdrawals ~ I sit down to read and don’t come up for air! Jodi Picoult is my very favorite author. If pressed, I could never choose one favorite book out of the billions many, many, many that I’ve read and loved, but choosing an author is a little easier. I’ve loved so many of her books! I will say, Lone Wolf was definitely not my favorite of hers; I felt that it was missing that shocking twist I’ve come to anticipate from her. Still an absolutely fantastic read though!

  • On the topic of reading, I’ve also been reading listening to Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. It is fantastic. It’s mostly set in the late 1930’s, and it weaves throughout the Manhattan working and upper classes. I’m only about halfway through, but I am absolutely loving the historical phrasing and society interactions. I would absolutely, absolutely recommend this to anyone!

  • School has, of course, been weighing me down as of late (and all the time!!). I had a Chem exam yesterday, and I really have absolutely no concept of how I did! Usually I leave an exam with a pretty strong feeling, good or bad, but this time I really feel like it could go either way. In Microbiology yesterday, we started our final unknowns. This means that we each get a tube of “broth” and ultimately have to figure out exactly which two strains of bacteria are inside. It’s like a final project. It’s not my idea of a good time! In better microbiology news, in lecture we’ve started talking about the immune system, which I find fascinating. I’m definitely warming up to that class ~ the lecture portion anyway!
  • I feel like I haven’t seen Terry in forever. He was in Minnesota over the weekend visiting his best friend, Adam, and Adam’s wife. I was supposed to go too, but I stayed home with my no-obvious-cause illness. He came home late Sunday, and then he left Tuesday for a work conference for three days! Ugh. He comes home today, but I have plans with my Mom tonight. I feel like those ships, passing in the night…!
  • Speaking of which, I am super pumped for tonight! Our church puts on a dessert theater the Thursday and Friday evenings before Easter. Last year, for whatever reason, Terry couldn’t come either and just my Mom and I went ~ now it’s like a little tradition! Last year’s show was awesome; it was a two man show, and they portrayed the story of the gospel from the point of view of two of the disciples. It was at turns hilarious and completely thought-provoking and serious. This year’s show is Pilate on the Beach. I can’t wait!

What have you been up to lately?

Catching Up

Wow, this weekend flew by, and for once it was in a blaze of fun and relaxing instead of stressing!

On Saturday I made the drive up to my sister’s house for something super fun…

I taught a nutrition lesson to Hailey’s girl scout group to help them earn their nutrition badge!  First I had tons of individual snacks and I had them each go “shopping” and pick three items that they would choose for a healthy snack.  Then we compared the different choices and talked about why different ones would be better or worse.  The girls really impressed me with their knowledge, and with their questions ~ they were really into the conversation!  Then we made a healthy snack of fruit and yogurt parfaits, which were a huge hit with the ladies.

That afternoon Jaime, Hailey and I went to the dog park to let Jacksy get some energy out.  I love this picture that Jaime snapped of him!

Saturday evening, I went along with them to Disney on Ice in Green Bay.  I hadn’t been to the “ice capades” since I was probably about Hailey’s age, and I ended up having a really fun time!  It was definitely a great girls’ day.

Yesterday was wonderful and relaxing ~ aside from losing that hour of sleep!  I spent the morning at church, and then I spent the afternoon watching The Help (finally!) and taking a long nap.  When Terry got home from his skiing weekend with the guys, we went for a walk and spent some downtime at home.  Wonderful day.

Today was day one of my Weeklong Recharge, and I have to say that it was a smashing success!  Here I am at the end of the day, and I feel both accomplished and tired ~ the kind of tired where you know you’ve done good things and kept your body busy.  It feels wonderful.

After this morning’s blog writing and reading, I hit the gym and I hit it hard.  Well, harder than usual!  I did two different elliptical machines, and some stationary rowing as well.  It was grand!

I made a healthy lunch, did a little cleaning, got my car back (no more stinky-ness!!), and did some church homework at the coffee shop.  All before cooking a real, official, made in my very own kitchen, dinner.  Which included a store bought rotisserie chicken.  Oh well, baby steps back into the cooking!

Tonight I had a wonderful and incredibly fulfilling class at church.  I’ve been meaning for ages to tell you guys about my Character Development class that I’ve been taking ~ stay tuned for that to be appearing very soon!

Soon to bed ~ tomorrow I do have to set the alarm for micro lecture.

Have you seen and/or read The Help?

Are you feeling accomplished at the end of your Monday?

My Week Ahead

As I mentioned last week, today is day one of my semi-spring-break.  In fact, while I would currently be halfway through my second class in Green Bay right now, I instead come to you right now live from my couch, in my pjs, eating some yogurt and granola, and having just gotten up about half an hour ago to no alarm at all.  Love it!

I’ve been sharing pretty much all semester how very busy and stressful the past seven weeks have been.  And I may not have shared this so specifically, but I’ve been becoming worn down, burned out, and at some points down-right cranky!  In light of this ickiness, and my desire to move forward with way less ickiness, I’ve hatched a weeklong “mini-plan” to recharge myself!

  1. Sleep: My sleep schedule this semester has become absolutely nuts this semester; sometimes staying up super late to do homework and other times getting up ridiculously early, often getting only five-ish hours of sleep at night.  I’m sure you can imagine that this leads to a sleepy Katie with a confused body!  It also leads to lots and lots of afternoon naps, which I don’t really have time for, and then I’m groggy and up late…  You get the picture!  So for this week, I’m going to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get out of bed in the morning when my body wakes me up (on the days that I’m able ~ I still have classes in town!).  And no naps!
  2. TV: As you know, I’ve already set myself a goal to cut back on the TV time, whether it’s actively watching or just having it on in the background.  That has been going okay, but not great.  This week, I’m going to cut out the daytime TV 100% and see where it takes me!  I will still watch some TV at night with Terry if we feel so inclined.
  3. Eating: As the semester has progressed, the eating habits have gotten sloppier and sloppier.  Processed foods like crazy, and I’ve only cooked dinner a handful of times in the past seven weeks.  I’m telling you ~ by the time I graduate, I’m not sure I’ll touch another piece of pizza ever again!  Bold words…  I may rethink!  Anyway, the plan for the week is whole, clean foods for nourishment and energy.  Plain and simple!

A little bit of what else is on my agenda for the week:

  • Workouts!  Longer, not rushed workouts.  I’m pretty pumped about that.  I mentioned on Facebook this morning my sad, sad need for more workouts…  This week it’s going to happen!
  • Homework.  That one gets no exclamation point.  I have a couple big projects that quite a bit of my time will be devoted to, as well as a class at church that I’m taking in which I’m a bit behind on the assignments.  I also have a microbiology exam on Thursday that is going to require some mega-studying.
  • Other computer work.  I have something like 66 emails sitting around in my inbox.  Ugh.  I also have lots of blogging that I want to do, and I’m sure some things for Terry here and there.  We also manage some social media for a few businesses, and I have a bit of work to do there as well.
  • Cleaning!  For the past seven weeks, every time I have time to clean, all I end up having time for is what I call “surface cleaning” ~ clearing off the table and counters, emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry, picking all the clothes up that I’ve piled around the bedroom.  By the time I’m done with those things, all my cleaning time has been used up.  This means my house is grossly dusty and in need of some massive TLC by way of sweeping, scrubbing, and vacuuming.
  • Time with friends.  I’m hoping to squeeze in at least a visit or two with some friends who may or may not think I’ve disappeared off the face of the earth.

So ~ that’s my week!  I’m pretty pumped.  Although I did tell Terry last night that I’m fairly certain that I have way more than one week’s worth of stuff planned and hoped for.  What do you think??

Follow my progress this week on Twitter, #weeklongrecharge

What’s on your agenda for the week?