22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Main Street Bistro

Happy Wednesday, friends! It’s been awhile. As always, life has been busy. Busy, full, and oh so good. You have a well-timed thunderstorm/tornado warning to thank for this break in my crazy schedule- thanks nature! I have so many things that I cannot wait to share with you all, so many posts I’m behind on (seriously- SO MANY), but one thing at a time-this warning isn’t going to last forever! I do want to acknowledge, for those of you keeping track- my 30th birthday has come and gone. It was amazing, and I’ll tell you all about it soon, and where I’m at with the list. But before we get to that, I have some things to catch you up on…

Let’s back track to January. I started 2017 off with a much-needed and long awaited trip to Fort Wayne, Indiana to see my sister, Kaylee. Kaylee had moved to Fort Wayne the year before, but I was just now getting the chance to go see her. I’m not a huge fan of solo road trips, especially of that length, but I packed up my car on a Friday afternoon, swung by Atomic Coffee Bar to get my iced Nutty Professor for the road, and alternated between belting “Hamilton” and listening to an audiobook for my drive. I arrived at Kaylee’s just in time for dinner (homemade mini pizzas-yum!), some much needed tv watching, and half snuggles with her cat, Luna. Half snuggles are about as good as it gets with her.

We had a very full Saturday planned, mostly revolving around food and coffee. Would you expect anything less? Though it’s not the place I’m blogging about, I do need to give a shout-out to Dash-In, the place we had lunch. Rather than me telling you, let me show you. (And then tell you, because it’s me.)

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Mmmk, please look at this gorgeous food. A pesto artichoke grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. I don’t think I’d ever been so excited about a sandwich and soup in my life. Apologies to anyone who had to hear me say “this has ruined all other food for me” over and over.

Anywho, the main event of our day was me getting to meet Kaylee’s boyfriend, Brian. I’d heard a ton about Brian and had said hi on FaceTime before, but that was it. Kaylee planned for us to eat dinner together at one of her favorite spots, Main Street Bistro. We met Brian there, and settled in for a night of uncomfortable questions and silent judging. Just kidding- Brian and I hit it off, and spoiler alert, he passed the sister test. All good there. 🙂

The atmosphere at Main Street was super cute! It’s very trendy inside. The lights were dimmed, and although there were a lot of people there, it wasn’t overly loud.

Now, I typically don’t order a drink when I’m out, but I was on vacation, so I settled on this blue martini that tasted like a Sweet Tart. Or I think it did…this was five months ago.

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Our waiter was absolutely delightful, and gave us some recommendations. He brought us some fresh bread and-wait for it- butter with MAPLE SYRUP. I’m not kidding. I’m really not kidding. While we gracefully stuffed our faces, I perused the menu.

I narrowed down to a few things. Then, I remembered I was due for a new blogging restaurant and chose the prosciutto wrapped scallops. Now, I’m not a seafood fan. I’ve developed a fondness for shrimp, but that’s really it. The scallops didn’t sound particularly appetizing, but I was all about trying something new, and that blue martini reinforced that all my decisions were good ones, so clearly, scallops. Scallops and french onion soup.

We visited for a bit, continued to eat the best damn bread on the planet, and then our food arrived. Everyone was pretty pleased with their choices.

Ok, so we need to talk about these scallops. Well first, the french onion soup was delightful! Loved it, would definitely eat it again. But the scallops were…I’m not sure what I was expecting, but that wasn’t it. The texture was BAD and that was pretty much all there was to it. Scallops can join the ranks of tomatoes and bananas- things that make me gag. I did power through two of them, but I made Brian eat the last one. The pasta underneath was good, and I love prosciutto. But the scallops? NAH.

Overall, it was a great dinner- awesome company, mostly wonderful food, and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I would definitely go back…except Main Street closed shortly after my trip and is reopening as something else. Sad. But, I had a great time with Kaylee, enjoyed meeting Brian, and learned that butter with maple syrup is GENIUS.

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Well, the warning has expired, and I am falling asleep, so I better call it a night. More fun adventure stories to come soon…stay tuned!

Until next time,

xoxo

35. Make your own business cards- even if for fun!

I was seven years old the first time I remember choreographing something. I was sitting in our van, listening to “Always Something There to Remind Me” by Naked Eyes on the radio. (In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I have a freakishly good memory.) Halfway through the song, I started coming up with tap steps in my head to go along with the music. I remember I pictured a stool onstage, and an assortment of picture frames set up that little Steph was mentally tap dancing around. (Yes, award-winning stuff right there!) Anyway, that’s my first memory that showed me how my brain was different than everyone else’s, even if I didn’t realize it at the time.

People ask me sometimes how it all works- how do I come up with dance after dance, combo after combo? How do I choreograph without a studio space? How do I choreograph a partner routine when I’m only one person? Well… I see it. I can actually, physically see my choreography in my brain when I’m listening to a piece of music. It’s almost like I’m discovering it, rather than creating it. And it happens all the time. Any time I’m listening to music. I’m never not seeing choreography. It’s always there. When I was younger, I just kind of assumed that everyone’s brain worked that way. Even as I got older, worked with other dance teachers- I thought maybe it was a dance teacher “thing.” But it’s not. It’s a gift, and one I feel so lucky to have.

As a dancer, I was never the best at anything, technique-wise. The extra bones in my feet prevented me from achieving a full point. I wasn’t as flexible as the rest of the girls in my class. I wasn’t the best turner, I wasn’t the best jumper, and I certainly wasn’t the best at tricks. But the things I was good at? Timing. Counting. Hearing patterns. Explaining things to the girls in my class when they had been absent. Stringing combinations together. Those were my strengths. That, coupled with my brain, my crazy creative brain, didn’t make me a stand-out dancer. But they did make me a pretty bad-ass choreographer.

I’ve been freelancing for 11 years now and finally decided it was time to make it “official.” So, a few months ago, I sat down with my friend, Elizabeth, and asked her to design me some business cards. We talked through what I liked, what I didn’t, and I turned her loose. A few weeks later, she sent me some options. We talked through them, and a few weeks after that, she sent me what I’m about to show you. Full disclosure: I’m getting a little teary about sharing this. These cards are something I’ve shared with very few people, but I’m ready now. So here they are- P.S. Elizabeth is a kick-ass designer. Please check out her freelance business “Eleven Creative” on Facebook.

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Here they are! I’m so proud of these, and so thankful that Elizabeth was able to turn my ideas into something beautiful. I’ve never been one to brag about what I do, but I am really, really good at this, so I thought it was time to share that with the world. If you’d like to share it too, let me know…I got a little excited and ordered 500 of these bad boys. Also exciting…I’m choreographing something for ME right now. I’ve only ever done that once (it turned out horribly) but I got inspired the other night, so I’m working on a little something. I don’t know that I’ll ever perform it, and the chances of anyone ever seeing it are slim, but I’m excited about it, and excited to see where this crazy choreography journey takes me.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Blue Iguana

Three posts in a week?! Yes, I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’ve not gone crazy. I am sick though. Adult sick days are the absolute worst. I’m laying on the couch, trying to drink tea and take it easy, when I notice how much the floor needs vacuuming. And I need to dust. And the ceiling fan is dirty. And before I know it, I’m ten seconds from deep cleaning the entire house. But, I remind myself I’m sick and need to rest, and settle in for a season and a half of “How I Met Your Mother” instead. This has been happening about every hour, for the entire day. Resting is hard.

So, this post is actually from August…oops. It did get mentioned in my Milltown Coffee post, but today, you get to hear about the whole experience. I’ve been wanting to visit Blue Iguana for a really long time. As you know, I love Mexican food a whole lot, and I also love LeClaire, where Blue Iguana is located, so it was a win-win situation. I was also due for a date with Travis and Kristin (Bryan’s brother and sister-in-law, and my good friends) so I met up with them and Bryan and Seth at the end of August for dinner and blog fun.

We had a short wait outside when we arrived, which was fine, because I got to officially meet Finn, Travis and Kristin’s baby. After several minutes of cooing and gushing over his cuteness, we were seated inside. The waitress gave us our menus, and I immediately started to gorge on chips and salsa. I’m not kidding; I could eat chips and salsa daily for the rest of my life, and never get tired of it. In between fistfuls of chips, I perused the menu and asked for everyone’s opinions on what I should order. After shooting down Travis’s suggestion to order the lengua (HELL NO), I settled on the flautas.

Our food arrived and it was BEAUTIFUL. Since it was 5 months ago, I can’t remember exactly what everyone ordered, but three of us got the flautas. The other two? No idea, but here it is:

The food was outstanding! My only complaint was that there wasn’t more…

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Seriously. I could have eaten those flautas for days. When we finished up, Bryan ordered both of us horchata to go. (Mexican rice milk, in case you didn’t know what it was.)

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That was fantastic too! Considering we went for dinner and my bill was around $15, I thought it was pretty affordable. I will definitely be going back to Blue Iguana. It was absolutely delicious, the service was great, and the company was even better.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

25. Watch a sunrise and a sunset in the same day

Guys, I don’t want to get ahead of myself here, but 2017 is kicking some serious ass so far! The highlight (less than 48 hours in) was going to see “Fantastic Beasts” while wearing my Newt Scamander coat, with a wand in my wand pocket. (Yes, my coat has a wand pocket.) I think that’s pretty much the definition of living the dream. I’ve also had some solid friendship time, ate a lobster grilled cheese, saw “La La Land,” and started working on choreography for “In the Heights.” Hopefully, this is a sign of an awesome year.

So, before I jump in to #25, I have a bit of an announcement…I’ve decided to give myself an extension on my list. If you’re keeping track, I have less than 3 months to finish my list and over half of the list left to complete. I really don’t want to half-ass anything on the list, so rather than rush through things, I’m giving myself an open deadline. When the list is done, it’s done. If that takes one more year, great! If it takes five, awesome! If I decide to wait until I’m 50 to complete #17…ok then! The list is supposed to be fun, not a source of stress, so there you have. And now, on to #25…

I initially tried to complete this on December 21, 2014. It would have been my grandma’s 74th birthday- she had passed away December 1st- and I wanted to do it as a way to honor her. Unfortunately for me, the weather had other plans, and the entire day was overcast. Sigh. So…I waited, until October 5th, 2016. As I mentioned in my 2016 recap, I’ve been taking a leadership class on Wednesday mornings twice a month. Class starts at 7:30am, so I generally leave my house between 6:45 and 7:00, depending on where I’m stopping for coffee. I went for Atomic that morning, and I was driving along 53rd Street in Davenport, I was able to catch an awesome sunrise.

I was really excited to have caught such a wonderful sunrise, and was lucky to get home in time for the sunset too. I was in the middle of choreographing a musical at Junior Theatre, so being home after work was a rarity. Unfortunately, you couldn’t see the sun very well from my back deck, but I did my best.

So, was there anything special about this day? Yes, actually. That was the day I drew my 5 year plan, and decided to commit to it. All in all, a really good day. 🙂 One more item crossed off the list, which means I’ve got 14 things done and 16 more to go!

Until next time,

xoxo

My 2016 Greatest Hits

Well hey friends! It’s 2017, and yes, I finally remembered that I have a blog. As has now become the norm, it’s been two months since I last posted (really…is ANYONE surprised?) so I decided to catch you up and recap my 2016 in the most fun way possible. Now, those of you who know me insanely well know how big of a LOST fan I am. One of my favorite episodes is from season 3 and is titled, “Greatest Hits.” I won’t ruin anything for you, because you absolutely should watch LOST if you haven’t, but the episode features highlights from a character’s life. So, I’m doing that…2016 style. Once I made my list, I tried to put it in order, but that was pretty much impossible, so these are my 10 greatest hits from this year, in no particular order…here we go!

  1. Creating my 5 Year Plan

So, the last two years, I’ve created a set of goals for myself for the year. Now, because I’m incapable of half-assing anything related to personal growth, I went a little crazy in 2016 and gave myself 12 goals for the year. Yes, you read that correctly. (And yes, I eventually winnowed that down because I like sleep, and rest, and not constantly doing things.) Anyway, while making my goal list, I realized I didn’t have a five year plan. So, on the list it went. I figured out pretty quickly what kind of things I wanted on the list, and spent the year shaping it and making it into exactly what I wanted it to be…which ironically, takes me into the next thing on my list…

2. Taking a leadership class

I was approached by my boss during the summer about taking a leadership class during Fall 2016. I eagerly accepted but was nervous as hell, because, why not worry about something silly? Anyway, this class has been a game-changer. Not only has it improved my leadership skills at work, I feel like it’s gotten me more in touch with who I am overall. We’ve done personality assessments, strength finders, and even did a 5 year plan visualization activity, which ended with us sketching out what our plan looked like. I ended up framing mine and it’s sitting on my dresser in my room, so I can look at it every day.

3. Dating

Yes. I, Stephanie DeLacy, notoriously single, hates first dates more than cilantro, cat lady extraordinaire…went on dates this year. Lots of them. There were good dates, there were bad dates, and boy, did I learn a lot about me and what I want. It’s truly been an experience and one that I am so glad that I was brave enough to embark on. I met some truly kind men this year, two in particular who were wonderful, and while I ended the year single, I didn’t give up hope. I’m hopeful that 2017 will be my year for love.

4. Getting a Handle on My Anxiety

I’ve never talked about this on here…exactly. But I guess there’s a first time for everything. I’ve always been a little anxious for as far back as I can remember, but this year, I hit a low. Charlee was sick, and my whole “norm” was shaken. I kept telling myself she’d be fine, but I didn’t actually know that. I found myself worrying more in general, and coping less and less well. Eventually, it got to a point where I knew I needed outside help to feel better, and so I got it. I started seeing a mental health counselor in July, and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life. My counselor is AMAZING, and has helped me with so many things. It’s refreshing to have someone to talk to that is unbiased, and my overall anxiety level has dropped significantly. It was a scary thing for me to do, but I’m so proud of myself for being brave!

5. Seeing Hamilton

Yes. That. If you want to read more about it, continue to my next post!

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6. Paying off my student loans

Oh yes I did! What a weight off my shoulders! (Oh, and on Friday, I’ll be making my final car payment. HUZZAH!)

7. Choreographing three awesome musicals!

I was lucky enough to get to choreograph for three different places this year- more choreography than I’ve done since I finished teaching dance. Each show was such a great experience, and I am so lucky to have gotten to work with so many wonderful people!

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8. Peter Pan

I had my second directing experience this year, and it was one of my best theatre experiences to date. My cast was incredible, I had the best student director on the planet, and Leslie (the main drama director at North) brought my first-ever scenic design to life, and even better than I imagined! When a show is over, I’m generally sad but ready to be done, but with Peter Pan, I was just sad. What a great show to end 2016 on!

9. The Kids’ Table and Harry Potter Night

It was a big year for me at the Family Museum, but these two events really stood out among everything else. I was a key organizer in the Museum’s first “The Kids’ Table” fundraiser and also organized our “Harry Potter Night” this fall. Both events were hugely successful, and I was so proud to be a part of them.

10. Friendships

This year was huge in the friendship department. I grew friendships, started new ones, watched friends get married, watched them get pregnant (not actually…you know what I mean), watched them start the adoption process, and felt the love from all around. I say this all the time, but I truly do have the best friends in the world. The amount of love, support, and encouragement I get from them is unreal…and I can never thank them enough. I’ve been blessed with an extraordinary family, and an extraordinary “framily.” I’m one lucky girl.

Well…there you have it. My greatest hits of 2016. It was a truly life-changing year, and I cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store for me, and for all of you. Thank you for being a part of my life, and here’s to a Happy New Year!

Until next time,

xoxo

4. Give yourself a pamper day every 6 months- Election Edition

I voted in my first election when I was 21 years old. It was 2008, and I was a senior in college. My boyfriend at the time had taken me to see presidential hopeful Barack Obama speak, and I was smitten. (With Barack…and my boyfriend…but mostly Barack.) I had spent the election cycle learning as much about him as I could. I took my parents to see him speak. My boyfriend and I hosted a presidential candidate forum on campus, and invited local representatives for each candidate- Democrat and Republican. I met Beau Biden that night and shook his hand. I had the opportunity to sit feet from Michelle Obama, when she spoke to a small group at my high school. Afterward, I talked to her, she hugged me, and we got a picture taken together. In the fall of 2008, I took a part-time job with the local Obama campaign office. I was the liaison between the campaign and my campus. The 10 hour a week job was more than that, but I gave it all I could. I called, I canvassed, and I made sure everyone at St. Ambrose knew how to vote on election day. One day after class, I had a voicemail from Kal Penn- YES KAL PENN- thanking me for everything I was doing at the local level to get Barack Obama elected. I remember election night so vividly, and the feeling of pride I felt as the polls closed and the electoral votes were awarded. The change I so strongly believed in was here. The man I believed in had won, and was about to change the course of our country, for the better.

I fell in love with politics after that. I blew through all seven seasons of “The West Wing.” I aspired to be CJ Cregg…I still do, most days. And I was beyond psyched when two of my favorite things, politics and musicals came together in the form of “Hamilton.”  And even more psyched when I got tickets!!! That’s right, friends, this kid got HAMILTON TICKETS! It was a whole process- Mal had tickets in her cart, Ticketmaster booted her offline, we searched with no luck for several hours, until, like some sweet Baby Jesus magic, two tickets IN THE ORCHESTRA appeared, and the rest was history.

Mal and I went two weeks ago, and it was exactly the Pamper Day I needed after a crazy month. We got up early and drove into the city, hoping to avoid World Series traffic (which we did.) We grabbed lunch at Potbelly, then walked to the theater.

We showed up WAY early, and hung out in the lobby, where it was confirmed that the three people I was most excited to see (Joshua Henry, Karen Olivo, and Ari Afsar) were all well, and would be performing.

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We also visited with a lady and her daughter, who had flown in from Arizona just for the show! Eventually the lobby filled, I got feisty and ready to throw some elbows at anyone who tried to get in front of me, and at 1:15pm, the lobby doors opened and we all funneled in. I bought myself a program book, and Mal and I waited to go into the house. And guys, when the doors opened…it was magical! We were sitting in row M on the end, and it was just perfect.

I could literally talk for an hour or more about how fabulous this show was, but I need sleep and so do you, so I’ll just say a few things…

  1. This was the pampering of a lifetime. I was so engrossed in the show, experienced so much emotion, and was just overwhelmed with pure joy. Some of the best money I’ve ever spent.
  2. My biggest concern going in was that I’d be sad I wasn’t seeing the original cast. I wasn’t sad in the slightest. They were INCREDIBLE. To be in a room with that much talent and love…words can’t describe it.
  3. Joshua Henry…mmmmmm. I am a fan. I could watch him play Aaron Burr all day long.
  4. I cried…a lot. More than I expected. Seeing tears in Karen Olivo’s eyes during “Satisfied” (yeah, we were so close I could see tears in her freaking eyes!) killed me. It was pretty much downhill from there. And do not get me started on Act 2. I can’t listen to “It’s Quiet Uptown” anymore, unless I have a game plan to fix my make-up immediately after.
  5. This was the best anything I’ve ever seen. I don’t say that lightly. Every single thing about the show was outstanding. I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve never, ever felt this way about a show. #blessed

I’ve been thinking about “Hamilton” every day since I’ve seen it, but particularly today. I’ll admit it: I felt at ease about Election Day. I felt at peace.  I had voted absentee the week before. No, it wasn’t Barack Obama who was going to change the world, but I believed in Hillary. I believed she could unite us. I believed she had a message of love at her core. As the people around me, friends/family/students worried and stressed over the impending results, I kept saying the same thing: “It’s going to be fine.”

I was wrong. It’s not fine. The optimist in me has been looking for a shred of something that I can cling to, something that I can hold to the light and say, “See? It’s going to be ok!” Something that makes me feel like this country is more than a place filled with hate. Something that makes me not worry for my friends and loved ones. Something that makes me, as a woman, feel safe. And this morning, it came in the form of Hamilton…

“I am not throwing away my shot, I’m just like my country, young, scrappy, and hungry, and I’m not throwing away my shot.”

“The sun comes up and the world still spins”

“Rise up, when you’re living on your knees”

And lastly, while jamming out to “The Schuyler Sisters” for the millionth time… “how lucky we are to be alive right now.” And you know what? They’re right. Maybe things didn’t go the way I expected or hoped last night. I’m sad and I’m scared and I don’t know what the future has in store. But I do know this: I’m alive at a time when I have the power to do something. I have the power to love when others show hate. I have the power to rise up. I have the power to extend a hand to those who feel unwanted and unwelcome. I have the power to be that shred of something that someone can cling to. So, I’m going to take a page from Hamilton and not throw away my shot. I’m going to take my optimism, my love, and my gifts, and I am going to use them for good. I’m going to teach, and inspire, and choreograph, and love, love, love, love, love. I’m not throwing away my shot…because that, that is what will change the course of this country, for the better.

22. Go to a new restaurant every 3 months: Milltown Coffee

Hi beautiful people! It’s been awhile. Actually, it’s been two months and four days since I last blogged. A lot has happened in that time. Typically, I apologize for my absence, but today, I won’t. I’ve been busy with life, and I count that as a wonderful thing. Don’t worry, I’ve got lots to share, but in the interest of keeping this shorter than “Order of the Phoenix,” I’ll break up all the excitement. So for now, welcome back. Snuggle in. Here we go.

Two months and one week ago, I went out for dinner with Bryan, Seth,  Bryan’s brother and sister-in-law, Travis and Kristin, and their new baby Finley. We actually went out to dinner specifically for my blog that night (you’ll hear about that in another post!) and afterwards, went back to Travis and Kristin’s and made googly eyes at Finn for several hours. I’m not kidding- it was amazing.

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What a nugget.

Anywho, at some point in between snuggling this cutie and making faces at him from across the room, Bryan, Kristin, Travis and I formed a book club. Right? RIGHT?! Now, I’ve only been in one other book club. It was me and Elizabeth, and no one else showed up to our first meeting, so we drank coffee, didn’t talk about what we read, and giggled a whole bunch. Basically, a typical day for us. I digress.

So, “The Best Book Club There Ever Was!” was born. And guys…I suck at book club already! We had our first meeting yesterday and guess who was the procrastinator of all procrastinators? This kid. I’m not kidding; we met at 3:00 and I finished the book shortly after 10:00am. I read over 250 pages in less than 24 hours. I deserve a medal.  Had it not been for Bryan’s threats to kick me out of the club, or the promise of delicious coffee, I may not have made it.

I arrived at Milltown Coffee at 3:00 on the dot, which is an accomplishment for me, because I’m pretty reliably 5-7 minutes late for everything. I was really excited that we were meeting there, because I’d never been, and we all know how much I love/obsess over/can’t function without coffee. I walked in with Travis and Kristin, and I don’t know. I wasn’t quite sure what I was expecting from Milltown, but this wasn’t it…this was much, much better.

It was so cute! And classy! And cozy! I didn’t get a picture of it, but we ended up sitting by the fireplace on a couch and two armchairs. COZY. Now, as a reminder, I had to order something I wouldn’t normally, so I went with a caramel latte (I usually don’t do hot drinks) and an apple cinnamon scone. I don’t usually order food with my coffee, but I wasn’t sure how long we’d be discussing our book, so I figured, why not? My total was around $8, which seemed fairly in-line with other local coffee shops. The service was prompt, the staff was friendly, and did I mention the shop was cozy? I actually suggested that Milltown needed a blanket rental service at one point- I totally would have partaken. Anyway, my scone and drink arrived, and they were pretty…

Pretty delicious! (Ok, ok…I might be running on fumes right now- still adjusting to Daylight Savings.) Overall, I was really impressed with Milltown! I really liked my drink and I would definitely order the scone again too. I will definitely be going back  soon. 🙂

Well, I better get to bed…thanks for checking back in with me and the list! Stay tuned for more adventures from the last two months.

Until next time,

xoxo

30. Take a class

Hi friends- happy Saturday! I’m so glad to be back on the blog, and no apologies this time- there was no possible way I could have written last month. August was INSANE, in the best way. Work was busy, since I was prepping for one staff leaving and the next arriving, the annual volunteer recognition, two special events, and my regular day-to-day. I had auditions for both “Peter Pan” (which I’m directing) and “Pegora the Witch” (which I’m choreographing) this week, so I’ve been eagerly getting ready for that. (The list-making and three-hole punching has been at an all time high.) I had visits from friends and family, including having 15 out of 20 DeLacys in my house at one time. And somewhere in there, I spent some much needed time loving on myself and relaxing.Thankfully, the crazy has subsided, so I’m spending a rare night in with an enormous bowl of spaghetti, the windows open, my pumpkin candles burning, and Scandal re-runs going in the background. Ah, my happy place.

I think most of you know this, but I joined Big Brothers/Big Sisters last fall. I was missing having students, had a lot more free time, and knew it was something I’d love doing. I got set up with my Little in December. Her name is Kamorah, and she is the coolest, sweetest, most loving little 9 year old I know. We’re matched through the school-based program, so during the school year, I eat lunch with her once a week. We talk, play Candyland, write in our “buddy journal,” color, and laugh. We laugh a lot. 🙂 I was so sad when the end of the school year rolled around, because that meant no more weekly lunches. Thankfully, we’re also allowed to go to BB/BS match activities, so we did two over the summer. We went to a painting studio one night, and a few weeks ago, we went to Hy-Vee and took a cooking class. I have been wanting to do one FOREVER, and when I mentioned it to Kamorah, she was just as giddy as I was. So, to cooking class we went.

When we arrived at Hy-Vee, they had us set up to cook in the Market Cafe. The table was set up with food, our recipes, all the cookware we would need, and aprons for the Littles. Once everyone arrived, their nutritionist walked us through the recipes one at a time, and had us work at our own pace. Even with my cooking background, I learned a lot, the biggest thing being to have patience when cooking with a nine year old. 🙂 Kamorah did really well though. It took about an hour and a half to complete our three recipes, and it was a BLAST! She had me do anything that required using a knife, but I did talk her into doing some of the cuts in the zucchini. Check out what we made!

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Getting ready…

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Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad! We loved it.

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Garlic-Parmesan Hasselback Zucchini and Squash. Kamorah was a little skeptical on this one, but we both really liked it! I’ve made it twice at home already.

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Monster Cookie Protein Balls. Yes. I ate these for breakfast the next day. #noshame

Kamorah and I were in agreement that everything was really good, although we both liked the Monster Cookie Protein Balls best. She insisted I take a bag of them home, but I sent everything else home with her so she could show her family what we made. We decided this was our favorite thing that we’ve done together, and hope that they’ll do another cooking class again soon.

This isn’t the end of my class-taking. Starting this Wednesday, I’m going to be taking a leadership class for work twice a month. I’m excited/nervous for that, and I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about it. Yay for learning…and crossing another item off my list! I’ve got two more blog posts coming your way soon…stay tuned.

Well, I think it’s time for a bubble bath and bed, so until next time…

xoxo

 

The One with All the Poop

Hey guys…yes, you did read that correctly. Poop. This is the story of the shitstorm that has been the past two months of my life. Well, shitstorm might be too strong a term, although there has been flying poop in my house, and lots of it. I should maybe probably clarify that it’s not my poop. One more time for the people in the back- NOT MY POOP.

So, when I last left you, I was lamenting the single life and had completed my final scream. I was also wrapping up my first year as volunteer coordinator, doing an obscene amount of painting, and more than a little stressed over the season finale of “Once Upon a Time.” Life was good. The very next day, however, I woke up to Charlee peeing on me. Yes, you read that correctly- again. I took C in to our lovely vet, where she was diagnosed with a UTI and constipation. A dose of antibiotics and an addition of Miralax to her diet were all we needed. Good- easy-done. Fast forward a week and a half later…I came home from work to a pee-soaked basket of laundry…and more poop. One more round of antibiotics later, C was on the road to recovery…and I was trying to recover from my “pee PTSD.” Once you’ve been peed on, you’re a changed person… Anyway, the potty problems were resolved, but the poop ones were not. In fact, it’s been two months and I am still cleaning up poop at least once a day. The good news- Charlee is perfectly healthy, other than being a little on the pudgy side, and a little constipated. The bad news- it’s trial and error at this point. C is getting Miralax once a day, an oral laxative every other day, and increased water. (Who knew that cats were so high-maintenance?!) As for me…C being sick for so long has definitely taken it’s toll. I am exhausted and quite literally, a giant ball of stress. We’ve been to the vet six times, so I am also poor. Ugh. I feel like I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster- I’m worried, then sad, then happy, then defeated, then happy…it’s been a lot. If a genie could grant me three wishes right now, I’d want Charlee to not be constipated, a week long nap, and Joseph-Gordon Levitt to be single again, in that order.

In all seriousness, I’ve been a wreck, and every area of my life, other than work, has gotten a little neglected. I do see a light at the end of the tunnel, and I am so grateful for that, but can I ask one thing of all of you? You’ve all read about me at my highest of highs and lowest of lows. You’ve been there for the bugs, dinosaurs, laughs, and now, the poop. Can I ask each of you to take a moment, and either say a prayer or send Charlee some good vibes? I know both she and I would appreciate it so much- she would rather not have anyone’s hand up her butt and I’d rather not have to pay the bill for having a hand up her butt. 🙂 Thank you all so much in advance- I love you all and am so lucky for the mass support system I have through this blog. You all are the best!

Before I go, a quick update…since my mind has obviously been elsewhere, the list hasn’t been getting a lot of love lately. BUT, that changes today. I started a little work on some things, and will be reporting back soon. Here’s to some positive list strides, getting a good night’s sleep, and a little less poop in everyone’s life.

Until next time,

xoxo

 

28. Once a year, go to an open space and scream as loud as you can- the last scream

I have a confession: this is actually the second (and hopefully final) draft of this post. The first draft was started very, very late on Saturday night when I couldn’t sleep. I wrote and wrote until I couldn’t write anymore, saved the draft, and went to sleep. When I got up on Sunday morning, I opened the post, read it, and thought, “STEPH HOLY CRAP YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE.” So, I deleted the draft.

But then, a funny thing happened, as they so often do in my life. I woke up this morning to a different post. One written by the creator of my list, Ria. Man, I love that girl. Somehow, she just gets me and says what I need to hear, even when she doesn’t know it’s what I need to hear. The post was about trust. Trust in the people we love, being afraid to trust, being able to trust ourselves…and damn, it was exactly what I needed to hear.

See, I’ve been struggling with something that I’ve only recently been ok talking about, and even then, I’ve not ever shared the core of the problem. But today, I will. Because today, somehow, from the other side of the world, Ria shared about trust and her struggles, and I knew it was time for me to tackle mine.

In true Steph fashion, I’m going to shift gears for a second, but don’t worry- everything will come full circle. Today’s topic is being single, and boy oh boy, do people have a LOT of opinions on that. If you’re single, nod your heads with me. If you’re not, perhaps you remember a time when this was true, and if you don’t, allow me to elaborate. As a 29 year old single woman, I am presented with many opinions on my singleness. Most of the time, these opinions aren’t asked for. In fact, 99% of the time, they aren’t asked for. And yet, they are still flung my way at full force. I guess it’s been that way since I started dating. I’d have a boyfriend, and the general opinion was that I should be single. “You can’t be happy with someone else, until you’re happy being alone.” I heard that more than a couple times. Or, I’d go through a break-up and hear, “Oh, I knew he was bad for you from the start.” Oh really? Why the hell wasn’t I clued in on this? But the real opinions started a few years ago. I had been single for a few years, had just bought my own home, and was for the first time in years, completely ok with being single. In fact, I was a little excited about it. But apparently, that isn’t supposed to be the norm. I was asked WHY I was single more times than I could count. Why I didn’t have kids turned into why don’t I like kids (keep in my mind where I work…) When shopping for a water heater, I was asked why my husband sent me to do a man’s job. I was told to stop being so picky. Told to be more picky. Told that I hadn’t “been through enough of the crappy guys” to have met my future husband. Once, I was told that I should probably freeze my eggs, since “who knows when I’d actually find someone.” I have two things to say about this: first, please don’t ever say these things to people. Ever. Even if you think you’re being helpful, or loving, you’re not. Hearing these things hurts, no matter how used to them I’ve gotten. So please think before you speak. Second, despite these things, I still enjoy being single. Well, except for one thing…the whole reason I’m writing this post. The whole reason I deleted it the first time. 

I am one of very, very few singles left in my friend circle. My friends who are in couples/engaged/married, God bless them- they are such amazing, lovely people and do everything in their power to make sure I don’t feel like a third wheel. And most of the time, I don’t. But occasionally, a little voice creeps in to my head and reminds me that friendships can change, and that’s where my trust issues come in. See, happy as I may be being single, I am so afraid that that factor may change my friendships. Because I don’t understand being in a marriage. I don’t know what it’s like to argue with my husband. I don’t have any children. I’m not in the same “phase of life.” And because of those things, I am constantly worried that I’ll be phased out. That I won’t be the “go to” friend anymore. That I won’t be included in things because I’m not a couple. That I just won’t understand. I’m ok being single. I’m not ok missing out because of it. I may not be married, but I know how to listen. 

I needed salsa today for lunch, so I drove across town to my favorite spot, got my salsa, and decided to take the highway back home. On the way, I wrestled with this post- do I write it or not? Yes or no? Then I decided to deal with it the only logical way possible- I decided to scream it out. I rolled back my windows while going 70mph on I-80, and screamed. I screamed for all the singles who hold their heads high when they’re met with constant unwanted feedback. I screamed for my friends, that I love so much. I screamed out my worries of this post being seen as passive-aggressive, or hating married people, or being a one-woman pity party. I screamed about my feelings of inadequacy because my friends are wives or husbands and me? I’m Steph. I screamed and screamed and screamed until I laughed. I started laughing. “Steph,” I told myself, “your friends love you. You are supported. No one is going to think that you’re being a jerk.” So, I decided to trust. I drove home, made lunch, drove over to Nissan for an oil change, and am typing this post on my phone in the waiting room. Am I still scared this post might not be well-received? Absolutely. But this post isn’t about other people. This blog isn’t about other people. It’s about me. It’s my one spot where I can be completely selfish and scream my feelings out, and that’s what I intend to do. That’s what I did today. I completed the final scream on my list, and I admitted some big things today. And you know what? It made me feel brave. Here’s to being brave today, and everyday.

Until next time,

Xoxo