Sunday, September 30, 2007

Corn Maize

Although the temperatures are still in the 80s and the leaves haven’t begun to bring me happiness by changing colors, autumn is still in the air in central Illinois. Ken has made his annual trek to the great outdoors of Canada for some fishing, so I’ve been exploring all that the area has to offer solo. Well, not completely alone. My mom and dad were game for a trip to a corn maze and pumpkin patch.

Yesterday, we headed to Gilmore's Green Acres over the border in Indiana to get lost in the fields that mapped out the Corn Belt of America. It was opening day and not too swamped with loads of people, so we were almost completely alone in the maze. I’ve never been in a maze before and wasn’t sure what to expect. Mom, even though a bit directionally-challenged, was our professional guide, as she had brought her class to Gilmore’s before. We didn’t have any tactics or a specific game plan. Basically, we wandered and occasionally made our own path through the rows. Mom opted out when we stumbled across the smaller maze within a maze and Dad and I continued to roam the corn. We were trying to figure out which letters/states we were in while we were walking. After about 45 minutes total, we were out and ready to explore the rest of the farm.

First we visited some goats and sheep at the petting zoo area... And since there weren't a ton of people around, we could make all the goat and sheep noises we wanted with no shame. Okay, maybe a little shame.

Next stop was to have some good old-fashioned clean fun as we raced rubber ducks by pumping water. Mom and I tried not to gloat too much with our successive victories over Dad.

Although most of our pumpkins for home had already been purchased, we had to go buy at least one pumpkin from the patch. A nice man who was missing two fingers took us out personally on a hayrack ride (the fact that he was missing fingers has nothing to do with anything, but it's interesting). We grabbed a pumpkin that was calling our name and some gourds.

After a caramel apple and some cider and a mean and persistent bee, plus a little more goofing around, it was time to head home.

It was a grand old day on the farm. But seriously, I could really go for some fall weather.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

One man's trash...

Is really just trash.

But my family managed to pawn off quite a lot of our junk onto some poor unsuspecting garage salers last weekend. We were expecting calls from angry parents once they discovered that we had given their children "gifts" of old puppy dolls and candles. They can have their own garage sale in the spring and charge more.

What else is new with me? Let's see... I.Hate.Job.Hunting. It's so unbelievably frustrating. I had my interview almost two weeks ago and they said they would reach their decision at the end of last week. As of now, I'm just waiting for my rejection letter which is sure to arrive in the mail tomorrow. It's disappointing, but not the end of the world.

I had another phone interview with an educational travel company based in Denver. The interview went fine, I think, and in about two weeks, they'll get ahold of me to see about an in-person meeting. The job itself would begin in January, so there isn't a huge rush. I've also started sending off resumes to random places again.

I'm beginning to feel like Izzy - caged and tired... yet fairly content. Can someone scratch my belly?

PS. Yes, that is a SpongeBob doll and a pumpkin head. And, yes, they were already sold. No emails, please.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Froggy Turner!

Last weekend, Ken celebrated his 24th birthday (Ha!)... And how did we mark the momentous occasion? A trip to the races, of course!

A group of us headed out to Balmoral Racetrack for their Super Night. We had a grand time watching fourteen races, betting on all of them, and losing money. I did a horrible job of picking horses all night. I kept losing my $2 bets as my horses refused to fight it out until the end. I was getting frustrated and when it came to the last race with the biggest purse on the line, I just knew that Froggy Turner was the name of the champion. I put $5 on him to place (which Ken doubled to $10 without telling me) and what do you know... Froggy came up from behind and galloped to first place. And we won $60. It was glorious!

Anyway, it was quite exciting and I think Ken had a good birthday. I'm not sure if Josh will be making the trip back for awhile.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Sweaty palms

There is nothing like the sigh of relief that follows stressful moments in life. It's almost like you've lost 10 lbs without even trying.

On Wednesday, I traveled up to Oak Brook for my interview with the travel company that could hold my future in the palms of their hands. To say that I was intimidated seeing the gorgeous office buildings would be a serious understatement. However, once I got into the actual office and saw that the workers (who were doing a presentation on European Villas and saying things like, "Okay, so then after we had this fantastic breakfast, we were taken on a tour of....") were completely normal. I interviewed with two ladies who asked me quite a lot of questions, some of which threw me for a loop. We discussed my former jobs, my former travels, and thankfully one of the ladies had been an English teacher in Japan for seven years. And had visited Okinawa. They demonstrated what my job would entail (it's entry-level so nothing too hard-hitting) and then talked about the opportunities for internal promotion. It's an amazing company and offers unbelievable 5-star trips. It's completely baffling to think about how much money I spent on four months of travel and how much people will drop for 5-10 day trips.

Anyways, there is nothing that I would do differently about my interview. I was happy that I bought the expensive suit! After my interview, I headed just 10 minutes away to Regan and Kent's new condo to see Baby Alex. I spent the night at their place, ate some yummy food, caught up with Regan, and took a great walk on the park district trail right next to their home. It was a nice visit and, of course, you can't beat the free entertainment of five-month-old babies...especially ones who are discovering new sounds!

The really exciting thing for me right now is that I am wearing a sweatshirt! And I can see pumpkins at the farmer's stand outside my window. Plus, Mom has started bringing out all the autumn decorations. I haven't had the chance to enjoy fall since 2004. I definitely intend on hitting some orchards and pumpkin patches and corn mazes... and I'm going to drink warm apple cider and eat caramel apples (sans peanuts)... and I'm going to crunch my way through piles of leaves. Oh, the glory of it all! (Let me know if you want to join me on any of these excursions!)

Monday, September 10, 2007


First things first... I'm still alive. Maybe a bit bored on a day-to-day basis, but definitely still alive and kicking.

How have I been spending my days? Let's see... I usually get up around 8 and then take some time to eat some brekkie and drink some coffee. Around 10, I begin my workout and am showered and ready to go by noon. At this time, since I'm all clean and dressed, I play with the dog outside for awhile. Then I play with her inside. Then I sit in the kitchen so Izzy can take a nap. Then I put her in her crate so I can take a nap. At about this time, my mom gets home from school. We chat and read the paper. Dad gets home. We eat dinner. I go for a bike ride. I settle in for some TV and then I do it all again the next day.

Umm. Yeah.

But there is good news on the horizon! I have had two job nibbles and will hopefully be employed soon! The most promising job might contact me in the next couple of days. At least I hope they do. This particular job is with a luxury travel company and fits all of my main criteria, including location and most importantly, career guidance. In fact, it seems to be exactly what I want to do with my life. So that's great! I've had a semi-phone interview with a guy and he was giving me all sorts of promises about a job, so let's all hope for Rachel for a moment, shall we? (EDIT: I got a job interview for Wednesday. Whoo Hoo!!!!) The second job involved a phone interview that I just had a couple of hours ago. Now I need to decide if I want to book a plane to do the in-person interview or not and then ultimately make a huge move. To Seattle. The job isn't ideal and doesn't pay all that well, but I would be living next to the ocean again and among the mountains. And I've been semi-obsessed with Seattle for the last couple of years. (Although I've actually never been there... call it The Grey's Effect.) And this one is in the travel industry as well...with a well-known cruise company.

I have been holding my breath for the last five days or so... It would be great to breathe again --- and get paid.