Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers...One bride for one brother?

Last night I went to the Chanhassen Dinner Theater with Kirk, his brother Erik and his girlfriend Kaia, and the Sherburne parents. This is the second time I've spent time with Kirk's parents and I am, in some ways, amazed by how easy it is to spend time with them. They are some of the most laid back, genuine, sweetest people I've ever met. I am just so thankful that Kirk and I get along so well with one another's family members. I am fairly confident that neither of us is going to experience the "dreaded in-laws" because both families have embraced us as individuals and as a couple. To be fair, I have to acknowledge that much of the ease of spending time with one another's family can be contributed directly to our families. Kirk and I have both been blessed with amazing parents who are supportive and loving. I guess the next step is having the parents meet. :)

Engagement, weddings, and marriage seem to be a common theme for me recently. In part because I was blessed to be a part of one my best friend's wedding recently. Also, a couple of my friends have been strong proponents of Kirk and I getting engaged soon which has prompted much discussion and even some preliminary "ring" shopping (which Kirk knows about...more so a fun girl bonding thing than anything else). Kirk and I have talked fairly extensively about our future. We've talked wedding details, the possibility of living together before we're married, and even talked about kids. So the fact that last night we saw "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" is a bit ironic, since it just continues the current "wedding" theme.

This constant focus on engagement and marriage has really forced me to consider all the "players" that contribute to the timing of such events. On one hand society dictates the social norms regarding how long a couple should date before getting engaged. Lifecourse influences these social norms. For example, a couple who meet Freshman year of college are expected to date longer before becoming engaged due to where they are in their life course. Society encourages that they finish school before marrying and often people of this age are still developing their identity which will continue to change through these formative years. Whereas someone of Kirk and I's ages, he is 28 and I am 26, are in a different place in our lifecourse. We have established our identity and know what it is we are looking for in a life partner. Although I am technically still in school...being a graduate student it is more acceptable that I would be either already married or getting married in the near future. So while Kirk and I have only been dating 3 months, our relationship feels as though it is mature far beyond the actual time we have been together. While society may feel it is still entirely too early for us to be thinking about let alone talking engagement and close friends (who have witnessed the progression of our relationship) are encouraging us to get engaged soon. In comparison to our parents, mine dated about 6 months before getting engaged and were engaged another 6 months before getting married. Kirk's parents were co-workers and long time friends and did not date at all before getting engaged (a really great story that I won't tell here). So I guess based on that, Kirk and I are at the midway point between what our parents did. Kirk and I have kind of established a timeline (he wants to be married before I finish my doctorate...which really doesn't narrow it down much because that is still at least three years away). We've decided we want a summer wedding (so that I will be on break from classes) and I would like to be engaged for 9 months to a year, again since I will be so busy during the semester with class. We've both agreed that it'll happen when we're at a place in our relationship where we are both ready for it.

We've also discussed living together and some of the pro's and con's. I consider things like the financial benefit (at least for me) if we are living together. As a graduate student it would be nice to share the "burden" of rent. Also, we have conflicting schedules right now as he works 3rd shift (10pm to 7 am) Sunday through Thursday and occasionally working weekends. Living together would make it much easier to spend time together. However, I also don't know if I'm ready to "give up" my independence, as in having my own space. Another potential "con" is the reaction of our parents. My brother currently lives with his girlfriend (he moved and she moved with him so they decided to live together partially for financial reasons and partially because she decided to go with him) so I feel it would be unjust for my parents to have an issue with Kirk and I living together. I do, however, understand I am the only girl so my dad may feel differently about me living with Kirk than he does about Josh living with Whitney. Kirk thinks his parents would have an issue with it. I absolutely adore his parents and would never want to do somethig to offend them but also recognize that we are in our mid to late 20's and are adults capable of making our own decisions. I know others have moved in with their significant other and just not told their parents. I just don't see Kirk and I being able to do this. We are both too close to our families and I would not be comfortable lying to them about that. Either way, I think this is something we will continue to talk about as our relationship progresses. Interestingly enough, research shows that couples who cohabitate with the intention of living together as a "trial marriage" have a higher divorce rate than couples who either do not cohabitate or cohabitate due to financial reasons, logistical reasons (location), etc. Fortunately neither Kirk nor I have considered living together for the purpose of a trial marriage. Afterall, you decide to marry someone because you love them and want to spend your life with them. As long as your relationship is healthy and you communicate well with one another...any issues that may surface initially as a result of living together will work themselves out. At least in my opinion.

Kirk and I will just continue to process the input from society, our families and friends, and of course from ourselves and eachother as a couple to determine how to progress in our relationship.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Adventures driving in the city...Ugh!

So I have learned quite a few things about driving in a city that differ from driving in most towns in Kansas. 1.) You must mapquest directions to and FROM your destination. The notion that you can just "do the reverse" to get home does not work! 2.) Mapquest does not always give you the correct directions! SO irritating! Case in point: My experiential learning class met at the Green Institute this evening so I go on mapquest to get directions, print off said directions, etc. According to these directions it would take me approximately 10 minutes to arrive at my destination. So, I leave at 6:05 (we were to be there at 6:30) allowing plenty of time for a wrong turn etc...50 minutes later (after following the directions explicitly) I decide to give up when I find 94E (the way back home). Shortly after gettting on 94E I see an exit for Hiawatha/55E (the exit I had been looking for) and easily find the Green Institute from there. Of course I was about 20 minutes late but at least I finally arrived. Of course getting back home was another story because there is no way to get back on 94E (you can get on 94W of course) from Hiawatha. Luckily my instructor gave me directions and then decided to lead me where I needed to be to get back on 94E. Ugh! Must it be so difficult?? If they ask my opinion, which they obviously did not, if you can get should be able to get back on (see also point 1. above)! Grrr....Maybe I just need to invest in GPS. I'm sure my parents would feel safer then me calling them frantically that I'm lost in the Twin Cities. Ah episodes getting lost are getting me better acquainted with the city...right???

Monday, April 20, 2009


So I have been terrible about blogging recently. I think partially because I feel like I need something profound to write about and partially because life has been so hectic. However, the chaos that is my life is not going to change anytime soon so I just need to devote time to my blog.

I returned home to Kansas a few weeks ago for one of my best friend's wedding of which I was the maid of honor. It was so good to be home and spend time with family and friends and such a blessing to be a part of Rachel's wedding day. To add to the weekend, Kirk went home with me and met my family and friends for the first time. Although I knew everyone would love him, it is nice that they have now met him and have decided themselves what a great guy he is. They all had already noticed a difference in me since he and I started dating...I'm happier and calmer...which is no small feat with my chaotic life as a graduate student. I had no reservations about him meeting some of the most important people in my life because I knew they would see how genuine and authentic he is. He easily won over my dad (Kirk and Dad went to breakfast alone together on Saturday morning while I was fulfilling my maid of honor duties)...again no small feat since I am the only girl and my dad is quite protective of me. My dad is a very good judge of character and I think he his happy that I finally found someone worthy of his "little girl."

Although Kirk and I have "only" been together a little over three months, our relationship is evolved far beyond that time frame. I'm so excited to continue making plans with him and am anxious to see how our relationship will continue to evolve .

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I'm not sure even where to begin. This semester has been quite a roller-coaster. It has been one of the most chaotic, stressful, frustrating, exhausting, and busy times of my life. It has also included some of the most precious moments and memories of my life (most involving my boyfriend Kirk and best friend Amanda). It has been extremely difficult finding and maintaining a balance between school, work, Kirk and my friends. Last semester was almost completely devoted to school and work. And while I know it is healthiest to maintain a balanced life (work and play) it is extremely difficult. Fortunately I have a boyfriend who is extremely supportive and understanding of my commitment to my coursework and friends who are also graduate students who are in similar situations as I am.

This semester I have also been struggling with the notion of "productive stupidity." Which "means being ignorant by choice." I had been told during my Masters program that the more education one attains the more we realize we don't know, leading us to recognize our ignorance and subsequently feeling "stupid." I have definitely found this to be true and have been struggling with this. Fortunately one of my friends just posted an essay about "productive stupidity" on FaceBook which helped me to accept my feelings as natural and actually appreciate the struggle I have been facing as part of the process. For now I am working to accept productive stupidity as a necessary and important process for me to experience and engage in. Although this semester has been mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting, I am thankful for all the opportunities I've been given within my assistantships, the opportunities for growth that have been a result of being challenged academically, and the support of family and friends. I am particularly thankful that I have a boyfriend who can always make me laugh and help me relax during stressful times. Although this semester has been challenging it has also helped me to realize all the blessings I have in my life.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Swept me off my feet...

Many people have asked about my "change in relationship status" on facebook so I figured this would be an ideal avenue to fill everyone in.

My first semester in Minnesota I wanted to focus on adapting to life in the Twin Cities and away from my family as well as get myself acquainted and comfortable with the U, my program, and faculty. I also wanted to begin building a social network up here by meeting people and specifically establishing girlfriends. I feel like I successfully navigated those "tasks" last semester and decided that this semester I would focus on my professional development (I am presenting my own research at a national conference in May, and also plan on getting some publications out of my thesis) as well as continue focusing on my friendships.

A couple weekends ago my friend Amanda invited me to attend one of her friend's birthday party with her. I figured it would be fun and an opportunity to meet some new people. Little did I know I was about to be completely swept off my feet. Kirk was one of the guys within our "group" of people and I noticed him instantly when I walked in (and have since found out he also noticed me). We ended up talking some, dancing some and overall having a really fun time. At the end of the night he asked for my number and, although I wasn't looking for a relationship, I decided that the connection I already felt was too much to ignore. We ended up going out with a group of friends for sushi the following Thursday and then he asked me on a date for that Saturday. We've obviously hung out and gone out a couple other times since.

I realize that many of you may think this all happened really fast or too quick, and we are aware of that, but are not going to allow society's "rules for dating" to dictate our relationship. For that matter I think we have broken every single dating rule so far (he didn't wait three days to call, we talked about anything and everything you aren't supposed to on the first date, etc.). All that matters to me at this point is that he and I connect in a way I have never connected with a guy before, he fulfills almost everything I am looking for in a guy (lets face it, no one is going to fit perfectly...the most a person can expect is 80%), he is the MOST communicative/articulate guy I have ever met, AND he accepts me for me (I don't have to apologize for being an intelligent, strong, independent woman). My mom always told me that someone would come along and sweep me off my feet when I least expect it...and that is the epitome of what happened with Kirk.

Kirk makes me extremely happy and I am so glad to have him in my life. I'm excited for our relationship to grow, evolve, and change and see where we end up.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Back in Minnesota...

Returning home for the first time since I moved, I realized that I feel as though I have two separate lives now, one in Kansas and one in Minnesota. It was kind of a bizarre feeling. Although I loved spending time in my "old stomping grounds" I was VERY ready to return to Minnesota after my two week visit home. One of my guy friends in Manhattan noticed a change in me that I have also recognized during my time up here...I seem to be more independent and self-assured, and less shy or timid about things. These are changes that I feel have emerged as a result of me moving to a new city alone and being forced to be more self-sufficient and less shy in order to build a social network up here. I know that without the strong attachment I have to my family this would not have been possible. I am so thankful that my parents instilled in me strong roots, to keep me grounded in family and who I am, but also gave me wings and allowed me to be independent. Not all parents are capable or willing to "let go", so I am blessed that my parents have done so and been so supportive.

My first weekend back in the Twin Cities confirmed why I was so excited to return. I am truly blessed by the AMAZING people I have met in my first semester here. I have established friendships that I feel will last a lifetime. I went out dancing at the Imperial Room this weekend with my friends Amanda and Sophia and honestly had the most fun I've had in a LONG time. Which says a lot because I have had a blast every time I've gone out in Mpls. These two girls are very special and am I so glad that God brought them into my life. I also met some new people this weekend while I was out, some of them carrying a XY chromosome pair, which is exciting because I have really missed having guys to hang out with!

Although my life back home "fits," my life up here "fits" me too. I really love living the "city girl life" and am absolutely thriving here. I know this is where God intends me to be. Life really couldn't be much better....stay tuned on the whole "guy sweeping me off my feet thing"...but for now I am very content focusing on school, work and my girlfriends.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Reflections on U of M, FYC and Minnesota

Well I have now successfully completed my first semester as a doctoral student at the U of M. I am overwhelmed with all the blessings I have encountered in my first semester. I absolutely LOVE the program I am in. Being in an Education program has been a challenge (as it is completely new content for me) but I have loved it. My favorite class was "Critical Examination of Curriculum in Context" because it really challenged me and introduced a variety of new concepts that I found fascinating (such as : critical pedagogy, hegemony, heteronormativity, meritocracy, and many others). It had an intense reading load (probably averaged 125-150 pgs of reading per week) but really gave me an opportunity to assess schooling and education in our society through a critical lens and has really re-shaped my view of education (it is likely many of my posts down the road will address these issues).

The faculty I have had the opportunity to work with have been amazing. I have found great mentors in Mary (my boss for my Extension assisstantship) and Susan (my major professor and boss for my Parent Ed assisstantship). All the faculty have been so welcoming and expressed how glad they are that I am here. I am very excited to begin classes next semester (well after a much needed winter break anyway). Lisa (one of the youth faculty) and Jerry (a community faculty) will be instructing the two courses I am enrolled in for next semester. I have been very involved with the faculty in family and am looking forward to courses with the youth and community perspective.

I have also been amazed how quickly and relatively easily I have acquired great friends up here. Believe it or not, in high school I was quite shy (in fact I have been told that people thought I was stuck up because of it). I have become more outgoing through college and mostly through my experience in my master's program at K-State. I think a lot of it can be attributed to an understanding of myself and others as well as an increase in my self-confidence compared to how I felt in HS and college. Regardless, I am blessed that I now have two roommates with whom I have a lot in common and a lot of fun. I have my group of FYC/Family Social Science girls who are an absolute blast! Not sure what I would do without them. The semester would not have been near as fun. And I have met some people in classes who are in different programs or tracks than me and am looking forward to spending some "out of class time" with them this Sunday (Gemma & Jason) and Monday (Sophia and Amanda).

I found a great church (in fact it was the first church I attended up here) that I really enjoy. I still miss University Christian Church in Manhattan, but I really feel that the mission of Grace Church Roseville alligns with my own beliefs. Pastor Jason does a really nice job of presenting God's word in a new way that really allows me to see things in a new perspective. I am so blessed that I have found a place that encourage me to "take one step closer" to Christ each day.

I also LOVE the twin cities! There is so much to do! And yes it is cold, and we've had snow on the ground for a few weeks and I won't see the ground again until March or April, but that doesn't detract from how much I love this area. It is a big city(ies) but without the big city feel so this Kansas girl feels right at home. I really hope that many of my friends will have an opportunity to come visit at some point. Just come in the summer and you won't have to deal with the crazy winter weather.

The only thing that could have made this semester better would be if I could report that I found an amazing guy who swept me off my feet. BUT that didn't happen. :( Although I did meet one of the potential bachelor's from last season's bachelorette. Which was exciting. Quite honestly though I really wasn't looking for anyone this semester. I just wanted to focus on school, work, and building some great friendships...which I think I have. My first semester really could not have been much better. I am truly blessed and especially blessed knowing that I get to return home (to Manhattan then McPherson) next week and spend time with my family and friends.