Category Archives: memories

2009: A Year in Review

I had planned on breaking this into two separate posts, but time got away from me.  Here’s what I’ve been up to the last 12 months:


  • 30 days of 30
  • First ski/snowboard trip
  • Neil Clennon Reffett was born




  • Work trip to San Francisco (two posts… here and here)

yep, that's a CRUISE ship on the right


Clennon and I post-race


The girls of Hewett 6 (minus Jo)


  • Ohio for Reds/Cubs game
  • Ryan Joseph Lingas was born
  • Started the Great Paint Project

Self-portrait attempt #2. This pic is horrible, but I LOVE it 'cuz it's so real!


  • Infamous Rural King incident
  • Cubs/Cardinals game
  • Stephanie’s bachelorette party
  • Hayden Michael Bates was born



Highlight of the trip: Getting up on waterskiis for the first time!

the entire bridal party!


  • 4th 5K
  • Surprise birthday tailgate


The bigger the hair, the closer to God



  • Kim’s surprise birthday party
  • Christmas with my dad’s side
  • Oak Ridge Boys concert
  • First Christmas with my new niece

Birthday girl doing shots

My 92 year old Grannie and my newborn GREAT niece

In addition, there were countless nights out, NUMEROUS trips to Chicago and plenty of downtime.  All in all it was a pretty good year.  I can’t wait to see what 2010 has in store for me.

A mini-reunion

Some of you might remember that a while back, I re-connected with my college friend Jessie via facebook.  (Don’t remember?  Read this post!)

Well, On Thursday, I was lucky enough to re-connect with Jess in person–after 10 years!!  She was in Chicago visiting family, so our friend Kelly and I drove in to meet her.

We had some beer, some Chicago-style pizza and lots and lots of laughs.  We were able to reminisce about the “good ole” days and I was able to meet her partner Kirsten, who is a doll.

The only thing missing from this reunion was our other friend (and now my sister-in-law) Jo.  She lives in Southern Illinois and couldn’t get off work, but we called her so that she could at least feel like she was part of the festivities.

Here’s to old friends!!

Kirsten and Jess

Kirsten and Jess

Kelly and I-- self-portrait!

Kelly and I-- self-portrait!

The girls of Hewett 6 (minus Jo)

The girls of Hewett 6 (minus Jo)

group shot self-portrait: Kelly, Cari, Jess, Kirsten

group shot self-portrait: Kelly, Cari, Jess, Kirsten

30 days of 30: Week 2

Whew… what a week!   Here’s the rundown:

Monday– Lunch at Luna with co-workers Kurt and Scott

Tuesday– Lunch at Houlihan’s with Tracy, Cynthia, and Julie. I used to play Bunco with these girls and now we keep up via facebook, so it was nice to see them in person after way too long!

WednesdayJanet’s day (see earlier post).

Then I went to the Illini game with Cory, Bobbi, and Lacey.  They were the best seats I’ve ever been in:  12 rows up, right behind the Orange Crush (cell phone pic doesn’t do it justice.)


view from our seats

Thursday–  Book club.  We discussed Freakanomics, which was universally enjoyed.  I’ll consider this day Bonny’s, since she hosted and Scott and Kurt both have their own days.

Friday–   Ron’s day.   The plan?  To go to bars we don’t normally go to.  Ron was going to pick 3 and I was going to pick 3.  Cool.

Then Cory called and wanted to do Happy Hour.  Since Ron had dinner plans, it worked out well.  I met Cory and Co. at Bunny’s for happy hour. (If you click the Bunny’s link, you’ll see a pic of Cory at a parking lot party last summer– he’s as famous for Bunny’s as I am for the Esquire–ahah!). We drank buckets, ate Bosco sticks and played some Euchre.  Ron showed up, hung out for a bit and then it was off to meet Chad for the bar crawl.

First stop:  The Embassy.  There was a band, so we had to pay a $5 cover charge, even though we only stayed for one drink.  Then we went to Crane Alley, The Brass Rail and Bentley’s.  The last two bars are the only ones I hadn’t been to before.  And  I don’t ever need to step foot in the Brass Rail again, but I’ll definitely go back to Bentley’s.

All in all, it was a good night… but Happy Hour + Bar crawl was probably not one of my best ideas.

Saturday– Saturday was like two nights in one.

First I met Andrea and Amanda (from boot camp) at La Gourmandise Bistro for dinner and to listen to a storyteller.  I’d never been to the bistro before and I’d never heard a storyteller, so it was a bunch of firsts for me.  The bistro was cute (although I made a poor soup selection) and the storyteller was entertaining, but nothing to write home about.   We left after the first act and went to Crane Alley for drinks and dessert.   It was great to be able to hang out with those girls.  I miss boot camp!

After that, I met Erin, Jeff, Jaime, Dave, Chachi, Bubba, Nikki and Andrea at Boltini.  They had been out for some family birthdays and were getting ready to leave when I got there.  I had one drink and then we went to Fat City.  If you haven’t been there yet, it’s exactly the same.  Only nicer.  If that makes much sense.   Erin, Jeff, Jaime, and Dave left and the rest of us headed to Tumble Inn.


Chachi & I @ Tumble Inn

Erin & Chachi @ Fat City

Erin & Chachi @ Fat City

As usual, TI was a late night Mecca for Unity grads, so there were plenty of people I knew there (some of whom I didn’t actually talk to).  I stayed until close, but this was a much calmer night than  the bar crawl.  It pays to pace oneself.

Sunday–  Since Monday is a holiday, my sister Kelli signed up for Sunday night.   Kelli, her boyfriend Doug, and my brother David picked me up at noon and we went to Radio Maria for lunch.  To my surprise, my mom, Aunt Linda, and Uncle Denny were there as well.  We had a nice lunch and I think I was able to introduce some of them to a new restaurant, so that was kinda cool.

After lunch, we had a drink at the Esquire and then went back to TI to watch some football. (Okay, it was mostly so some of the crowd could smoke, but whatever.)   It was a fun afternoon, but I was super tired from the rest of the weekend.   I came home with full intentions of watching the Steelers game, but fell asleep on the couch.  For 12 hours.   I must’ve been tired.

Definitely a super fun-filled week.  It’s so cool to be able to hang out with so many different people and try new things. After the first week-o-lunches I was starting to think all I was going to do was eat… but now I’m looking forward to some low-key non-drinking events in the days to come!

A few observations at the half-way point:

  • If “professional storyteller” is a real job, then I think I might have a new career path.  If that lady can get up and tell stories–so can I!!
  • I really need to try to take more pictures, but I’m usually just having a good time hanging out with people that I forget I even have my camera.  Maybe next week.
  • Pacing is key.  Even though 8 bars in 3 days sounds like fun… functioning the next day is important!  I really am starting to feel almost 30.

2008: The Year in Review, Part 1

I was without internet for a little over a week, so I’m a bit behind on my blogging.  But I didn’t want 2008 to go un-documented, so here is part 1 of my month-by-month account of my life’s activities.   Luckily, I have this handy little blog to help me remember what I did!!

January started with New Year’s eve in Tuscola.
Then it was Cops & Robbers Bunco at Kim’s
And a wine tasting at my house:
February, of course, is my birthday month, what more do you need??
March–  I started blogging, albeit covertly.
We had Bunco at Tonyas:
672I went to Vegas with my family:
And Cooper Philip Pollard was born:
April– I got a new car, saw a baby left alone in a car seat; and Backyard Tire Fire at Highdive; there was an earthquake and Lost came back on the air after a much-too-long writers strike.

I also went to New Orleans for work (yes, there are better pix of this trip, but I’ll just post this one to spare the, uh, innocent!!)

May--  We celebrated Lisa’s birthday with a happy hour, I went to  Atlanta for work, and took in a stray dog.
My dog had surgery:
I saw Chicago in Peoria with Jen:
And went to St. Louis to celebrate Jeff’s 30th birthday:
June- Can you believe the only thing on my calendar is that I started boot camp? I’m sure there were other things going on, but I didn’t write it down.
So, there you have it– the first 6 months of 2008 as told through photos and blog posts.  I’m sure there are plenty of things that I’m missing, but those are some of the high points.
Stay tuned for part 2 and a New Year’s Resolution post.  Then, it will be back to your regularly scheduled programming :)

Foto Friday: Broken Foot Edition

I was looking through old pictures to find photos of my college buddies for this week’s Website Wednesday when I came across this photo.  Although the quality of the photograph is poor, it’s a perfect choice for Foto Friday due to the story that surrounds it.

It was Spring Break 2000 in Panama City, Florida. Some girlfriends and I rented a beach house that technically not supposed to be rented out to students. Oops!

On our second-to-last night there, we went to a dance club. I was wearing a short denim skirt, a sleeveless shirt and some wedge sandals I had borrowed from Stephanie (seen here lounging in the background). A bnunch of us were dancing on stage and I decided I’d had enough. I grabbed my friend’s hand and as I was stepping down, my shoe caught on the stage and I fell.

It was like a scene from a movie—I fell in slow motion, the music stopped and *everyone* was staring. I grabbed my ankle (yes, while wearing a skirt) and laid there for a minute. I got up, sat down for a while and did a couple shots. My ankle hurt, but I was able to put weight on it, so I continued dancing the rest of the night.

We got back to the beach house and went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night to my ankle throbbing with pain. I needed to use the bathroom and had to crawl down the hall Lieutenant Dan-style. The next morning, my friends took me to the local hospital where I discovered that, yes– my foot was broken.

I spent the rest of my vacation laying on the couch with my foot up (as seen here) or in a modified lawn chair sunk into the sand on the beach.

The worst part, however, was the 14-hour car ride home, laying in the backseat with my foot up.  I’m sure it was worse for my friends, though, who had to listen to me complain of boredom the whole time!

Foto Friday: Nawlins Style

Call it a cop-out, but this week’s Foto Friday will also serve as my New Orleans post.  As you probably know by now, I went to The Big Easy last week for Kristi’s wedding.  She’s my cousin, but she’s also one of my best friends, so it was nice to have friends and family in one place.

As with any good memory-making experience, the “good parts” can’t be conveyed in a simple run-down of where we went, what we saw and what we ate (and drank), so I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.  

There are tons more memories I’ve not included here, but here are some of my favorites (in no particular order)

Hotards coffee shop, hair salon, and bus company

Hotards coffee shop, hair salon, and bus company

Riding the Bull at the Bourbon Cowboy

Riding the Bull at the Bourbon Cowboy

Kristi getting serenaded

Kristi getting serenaded


karaoke at the Cat's Meow

karaoke at the Cat's Meow

The food at the reception

The food at the reception

Kristi's Grand Entrance

Kristi's Grand Entrance

Hurricanes and Hand Grenades the first day

Hurricanes and Hand Grenades the first day

Kristi flashing the 3 down the aisle

Kristi flashing the 3 down the aisle

Dylan's Dance Moves

Dylan's dance moves

"Killing It" with the best friends a girl could ask for

 “Killing it” with the best friends a girl could ask for!

My Summer Staycation

Since I have a ridiculous amount of vacation time built up, and I’m going to New Orleans in a couple of weeks, I decided that I’d take a summer staycation this year.

A staycation is just like a regular vacation, but you stay at home instead of going away. The purpose of a staycation is to not only save money on travel, but to learn a little more about your own neck of the woods. 

Although there are plenty of things I didn’t do, I learned quite a few things this week:

I’m a better cyclist than I thought.

I’ve probably logged at least 50 miles on my bike this week, between long rides and quick jaunts. And I’m really enjoying it. Yeah, I knew I could do the 3.5 mile trek to work in about 25 minutes. But it wasn’t until I took a day-long bike ride just for fun that I realized how much I like cycling. You see so many things on a bike that you would never notice in a car. And I feel so strong after I’m done.

I’m a worse swimmer than I thought.

One of my favorite staycation discoveries is the pool at Crystal Lake Park. Usually, I just hit up my friend Kim’s pool in the summer. But because she’s working, (and I’m not—ha!) I decided to go the public pool route. I like Crystal Lake. It’s close. It’s cheap. It wasn’t too crowded. I easily found a chair. And there are nice lanes for lap swimming. But, somehow in the 25 (?) years since I learned to swim, I’ve lost my ability to, well, SWIM. I was tired after the first lap and had the most awkward stroke possible. I wonder if they have adult swim lessons, ‘cuz I clearly need them.

I’m not made of sugar after all.

As we were getting ready for our day-long bike trek, it looked like rain. Now, I’m no weather-watcher, so I hadn’t actually checked a forecast, but the sky was a little dark and gloomy. We started off anyway and, you know what…The rain was really refreshing. And I didn’t melt. When it got a little too hard, we stopped under a pavilion, but it never got so bad we had to stop completely. In fact, when the weather cleared up in the afternoon, we were kinda hoping the rain would come back.

No plans? No problem!

On normal vacations, I usually like to have a plan. Not necessarily a minute-by-minute itinerary, but a general idea of what I’m going to do and when. For my staycation, however, I decided to just play it by ear. This strategy didn’t work so well the first couple of days because I literally couldn’t decide what to do. But being schedule-less paid off this week. Because I’d made precious few commitments, I was able to have a last-minute lunch with a friend or an impromptu Friday afternoon pool party.

Lightning bugs and fireflies are one and the same.

Or so I was told by a 4-year-old. Now, maybe you don’t automatically think “babysitting” when you think “vacation,” but I had the opportunity to spend part of mine playing with a smart, precocious and amazingly observant little boy. It’s amazing how interested they can be in everyday things and it’s fun to see their eyes light up when they learn something new.

I can’t unplug or sleep in.

Neither of these things are especially shocking. I told myself I wasn’t going to sleep in and that I’d avoid being online as much as possible. I wasn’t going to check work email until at least Wednesday. No dice. I haven’t slept past 7:00 all week and I was checking and—gasp—responding to work email Monday morning. I’ve gotten better as the week wore on, but in order to completely unplug I need to go somewhere I’m literally unreachable.

I like this town.

I often think I need to get away to appreciate natural beauty; the beach, the mountains, whatever. But it’s really pretty here. From the wildflowers at Meadowbrook Park to the three deer I saw on the way home from the pool yesterday, there’s a lot of natural beauty in C-U. Even the view from my newly-weeded backyard has somehow become more scenic, more peaceful.

One of my favorite things about traveling is getting the chance to just stroll the streets, trying to blend in and feel like a “local.” In a strange way, I think my staycation has made me more of a local here than I’ve ever been before.

So, that’s it. One day left of my staycation and-for once in my life-I’m not happy it’s Friday. I think I need at least one more week to finish all the things I wanted to do and still leave time for some more exploring.

Boat Trip Memories

On the eve of the 4th Annual Boat Trip, I thought I’d re-post a blog I wrote last year.  I promise more stories/pictures next week… enjoy!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Boat Trip ’07 or. . .  Why I Heart My Friends

Friday brought the 3rd Annual Boat Trip. The first boat trip was kind of a thrown-together thing… a bunch of girls decided to go to Shelbyville for the day, rent a pontoon boat and get drunk. After that first year, we decided that going down & back in the same day was just too much (even though it did result in the MOST FUN CAR RIDE EVER), so we rented a ‘cabin’ at the Coon Creek Lodge. I use the term ‘cabin’ loosely.

This year, we decided to stay at Sullivan Marina (close to Skeeters) and that we’d stay two nights. We also got personalized huggies and made a sign for our boat. This thing just keeps getting bigger and bigger. At first I was afraid we were doing TOO much, but as usual, everything worked out okay.

So, we get to Sullivan a little before 4:00 and start drinking. We’re just sitting around, telling stories and getting drunk. Steph, Kristin & Brooks show up around 5:30 or so….. we have dinner and some of the peeps go out to Skeeters. I’m a loser and stayed back. I wanted to save myself for the lake.

However, when the girls get home, Kari decides to see if she can do gymnastics over me and accidentally knees me in the eye. Sure enough, I have a black eye…. well, a bruise anyway. Oh, well!

Sat morning we get up, get our stuff together and we’re on the lake by 9:00…. Problem is, it’s cold and kinda overcast. We’re all huddling under our towels for warmth. We get to Party Cove and we’re the FIRST ONES THERE. LITERALLY. I mean, we’re always AMONGST the first, but this time it was just us…. Being the troopers we are, we decide to start drinking. And then we never stop.

All in all, it was a good day…the sun finally came out around 2:00, we made some new friends and LOTS of new memories. We did a lot of sunning, swimming & laughing. We had the worlds longest push-your-friend-in-the-water contest ever and definitely had enough drinks to last for a while. There was some drama, but that’s to be expected.

When we finally got off the boat at 8:00 I think everyone had had their fill. Tons of stuff happened that will likely become inside jokes between our friends for years to come. . . As much as I love my mySpace friends, I’m not gonna share it because 1) it’s personal and 2) you probably wouldn’t think it was funny anyway….

All I have to say is that every time I get together with these girls I’m reminded of how special our friendship is. Yeah, there was some drama that–honestly–I wish I hadn’t participated in, but it doesn’t mean we don’t all love each other (I really am sorry!).

How many other late 20-somethings have what we have? We’ve all grown up together and have known each other most of our lives and even though most of us are married with kids, we still make a point to get together and go to the lake and have some fun.

I don’t really know of many other people who have girlfriends like I do and for that I’m really grateful. We get on each others’ nerves and piss each other off, but what we have is so special that none of that matters. I realize I’m getting a little too mushy here, but it’s true. We truly are lucky to have one another and it’s weekends like this that remind me of that.

Here are a few pix… I didn’t take many (and, as you can see, I’m not actually *in* any of them), but it was defintiely a great time. Continue reading

I’m Thinking Of…

My friend who lost his dad…  He was only 60 years old. An alcoholic, but a good guy.  And his mom died years ago.  Now my friend doesn’t have *any* parents.  What’s that like at 29? I mean, my MOM still has a mother.  Yeah, she has Alzheimer’s and is in the hospital right now.  But she’s still alive.  Shit, my DAD still has a mother  and he’s almost 65.  Why does my grandma get to live until she’s 90 while this guy’s dad kicks the bucket at 60????

What’s it like being 29 years old and an orphan?  Especially when you don’t have a very close relationship with your sister?  As a side note, my brother just said: “and it’s not like he’s close to his sister.”  That kinda made me all warm and fuzzy inside.  Like my bro realizes what we have is special.

Back to what I’m thinking of. Mortality. Death. The futility of life.  But, it is what you make of it, right?  I don’t want to turn out like that poor soul.  Alcoholic and alone.  But, what am I right now?  Alone and drunk with 3 dogs running around and my *mom* delivering me Taco Bell!  Is that pathetic?  

I don’t usually sit around drinking by myself, but I figured I had nothing better to do.  Does this mean that in 11  years my kids are gonna find me passed out in a diabetic coma?  Are the papers gonna get my survivors’ names wrong?  What will my legacy be?   Let’s hope it’s not this.

Wow… that’s some deep shit.  All because of drunken web surfing. 

It Happened to Me: I was a witness

There used to be a column in Jane magazine called “It Happened to Me.”  In it, a Jane “reader” would write an article about something that happened to them: cancer survivors, cult members, rape victims, etc.  I always really liked that column because it seemed like *everyone* had a more exciting story to tell than I did.  They were oftentimes horrendous and tragic, but that somehow escaped me. And now there’s no more Jane magazine.  Hmmm.

Well, today it happened to me:  I witnessed a case of child endangerment/possible neglect. I was leaving the mall when I heard a baby screaming.  I recently got a new car so I was wondering the aisles aimlessly looking for my vehicle and the crying got louder and louder.  Suddenly, I realized it was coming from inside a car.

I looked over to see a small blue car with the windows rolled down. In the back seat was the crying infant, sitting in her car seat with her brother (?), who was no older than 5.   I didn’t know what to do so I took pictures of the license plate and the children with my cell phone.  Then I called my friend who used to work in protective services.

After I got off the phone with her, another shopper happens by and hears the child screaming. I tell her it’s okay and that I’ve called the cops (I hadn’t actually called them yet. I thought my friend was calling them).  As she’s trying to get the baby out of the car, another woman comes over and asks what’s going on.

We tell her and discover that she’s the mom.  She said she left the kids in the car while she “ran in” to get her pictures.   The boy was ASLEEP on the car seat and the baby was crying and sweating profusely.  I had been there for at least 5 minutes.  The other shopper says “sorry” and just walks away.

I stand there dumbfounded for a while and then head back to my car where I promptly call the cops.  At this point, the mom is standing OUTSIDE of her car holding the baby.  She’s not attempting to drive off or anything.  I watch her closely and I think she knows something is up.

I give the dispatcher all the information I have and she tells me to pretend I’m driving away.   She doesn’t want me to scare her into leaving.  The dispatcher calls mall security.  As I’m circling back around I see the mall security truck.  Thank goodness!   But, once I get to the spot, I notice that the car is gone.

Either I scared the mom or she moved her kids to another location.  I’m thankful that the kids are (supposedly) safe now that the mom is with them and that they’re no longer alone in the car.  But what if it happens again?  Why didn’t the mom take the kids in with her?  And why didn’t she leave immediately?

It’s just a hunch, but I wonder if she doesn’t work at the mall.  She was fairly well dressed and didn’t look like she was just “running errands.”  I hope this was a one-shot deal and that she doesn’t make a habit of leaving her kids in the car.  I know that childcare is expensive, but something terrible could have happened to those kids.

As I think back on this, there are plenty of things I wish I would have done differently. I wish I would have called the cops immediately. I wish I would have stayed instead of driving off. I wish I would have confronted the woman about WHY she just left her children in the car on an 80 degree day.

In the end, I’m glad I did *something* instead of just walking away, but I’ll be worrying about those kids a lot in the next few weeks.