Friday, December 31, 2010

No. 5 - Almost Breaking 2 Hours

I am not much of a runner.  I'm not very fast, it makes my shins sting, and I just really don't like it very much most of the time.  Back in the day I did it because it was kind of a big part of soccer and a necessary part of training, but I don't know that I voluntarily would have ever strapped on a $120+ pair of shoes and hit the pavement.  Especially not in the months of December, January, February, June, July or August.

But, over the years, I've been "blessed" to live with and be friends with people who are passionate about running.  For example: Leslie and Meggie.  In 2008, when I was living with my BFF Maggie in Cincinnati, she managed to run half of the Flying Pig Marathon without even really training and she then convinced me that she and I could and should run the Mini Marathon in Indianapolis in 2009. The Mini is a famous half-marathon that takes a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway that everyone should try once.  So, we signed up for a coveted bib, put ourselves in a slow-ass corral, and started training.  We ran (and talked) the whole race (and took approximately 11 bathroom breaks) together in a moderate but respectable (especially given the bathroom breaks) 2 and a half hours.  

Me and my work friend, Chris, post-mini 2010
The feelings of pride and joy I felt afterwards made me do something stupid - I immediately signed up for not one but two more half marathons - the Monumental in Indianapolis in November and the Mini again in May of 2010.  I ran the Monumental alone, but had fans along the way to keep me going and managed to cut my time (and bathroom breaks) down considerably.  I finished in about 2:15 with only one break.  I started training almost right away for the Mini and though my training was nowhere near as intense as it could have been, I felt really good going into the race.  I completely eliminated bathroom breaks (yay for little blue pills) and finished so close to under 2 hours (which is really respectable) that it hurt.  I kicked myself for weeks thinking that "if only I'd done a few more runs... if only...".  But, now I'm over that and am just proud that I did it at all.  For someone who really doesn't enjoy running, having three half marathons under my belt feels like an accomplishment in and of itself. 

Though I won't be running the Mini this spring (hopefully I'll be holding Sprout and watching Maggie get married), I have nothing but good intentions and high hopes for a sub-2:00 half marathon in the future.  And, in the meantime, cheers to an Indiana winter free of running-induced frostbite.


No. 6 - "I work at a law firm" becomes "I'm a lawyer"

I went to college with the intention of enjoying the experience, making new friends, learning some new things, and graduating.  Other than that, I had no real plans for the future.  I did not grow up knowing what I wanted to be or do in my adult life.  I had general notions of success, being able to support myself and a family, and doing something that would make my parents proud of me.  The specifics though were always blurry. 

Even as a senior at DePauw, when graduating with good grades and a lot of accolades was just a few months away, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I interviewed with random companies that all told me I was "over-qualified" for the position they had available.  I was miffed.  So, I bit back at the corporate world and sent a huge application to Teach for America and attended a day-long interview that was by far the most intimidating thing I've ever done for a job.  I studied for and took the LSAT and applied to a couple of law schools.  Low and behold, I was not over (or under) qualified for either TFA or the College of Law at the University of Cincinnati and was accepted to both.  Yay for options but boo for having to make tough decisions.

Me and Dana at a Cardinals game with
our students.
At our end-of-year- party. Phew!

Those of you who know me well know that I chose to join TFA, moved to St. Louis, had a desk chair thrown at my head, sprayed two brawling teenagers who were 18x my size with Windex, called a classroom full of seventh graders "crackheads" while on the phone with some one's grandmother, raised the average reading level of my homeroom class from 4.2 to 6.7 in one year, donated every book, crayon, marker, bag of candy and piece of chalk I had spent all of my money on to the school, and quit more in debt than I was when I had started 9 months earlier.  Clearly a success.  I always say, I love teaching but I hate babysitting other people's kids for a piddly $7 an hour.  Teachers just aren't valued like they should be.

UC Law Graduation, 2008

So, on to law school it was.  I loved law school.  I mean, I ate that stuff up.  The competition, the huge classes and even huger books, law review, cleeckers, the law review lounge, the new people I met... all right up my alley.  I would go to law school forever if it didn't cost so damn much.  In hindsight, I should have gone to a more prestigious school so that I could have qualified to be a professor.  I'm pretty sure no law school student has ever thrown a chair at his professor.

Anyways, I was fortunate enough after law school to be offered a job at a good sized law firm in Indianapolis.  Unlike many of my classmates who graduate without any good job prospects, I found a firm that pays well, has nice benefits, and for the most part, respects my personal life and family time.  For the first year and a half though, when ever anyone asked "what do you do?" I said "work at a law firm downtown."  If I wasn't asked to elaborate, the inquirer, probably walked away thinking I was a secretary or a janitor. I was not exactly exuding the confidence or swagger that most people expect from an attorney.  The problem was that I just didn't feel like an attorney.  I didn't do anything lawyer-like.  I didn't go to court.  I didn't talk to clients.  Heck, I barely even talked to other lawyers from other law firms.  I still had my training wheels on while the people around me gained confidence in my abilities to not royally screw up and I was terrified of the moment they would come off.

But, in 2010, they did.  I knew it would happen eventually and, luckily, it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated.  It was actually kind of liberating.  I wrote some briefs, I took a deposition, I "won" a small claims trial on my own, I bargained and negotiated with opposing counsel.  I felt like I was earning my salary and like I was proving my worth.  I've proudly told people for the last 6 months that "I'm a lawyer" and I really do feel like one (most days).  Clearly a success.

Very truly yours,

Thursday, December 23, 2010

No. 7 - Good Weddings of Even Better Friends

Every person between the ages of 25 and 30 is bound to have had one of those summers... one where every weekend involves a wedding, a wedding shower, a bachelor/ette party (or two), or some other event that is somehow related to a wedding.  The summer of 2010 was that summer for us.  Between March and October, we (or just I) attended like, eight weddings, two blow-out couples' showers, and a couple of other parties here and there.  Of the eight weddings, only one was in town.  We spent time in Phoenix, Chicago, southern Indiana, Cincinnati, Culver, and South Bend.  It was a lot of effort (and moola).  But it was fun.

Arizona - Andrew and Rachel
Madison - Blake and Sarah
I've found that weddings, if I go into them with the right frame of mind, are a great date night (or week) for Blake and I.  They encourage us to look and smell pretty, get out of the house for a night, hold hands, and dance. 

Culver - Marissa, Natalie and Me
South Bend - Tom and Jen
I also cherish being able to witness good friends share their vows and commit themselves to one another.  It reminds me of the vows that Blake and I made to one another at our wedding and how important marriage is to us.  I love being able to support my friends in their marriages, from day one, and wish for all of us marriages that stand the tests of time and the crap that life can throw at them.  I also love being reminded of what beautiful friends we have and how lucky we are to have so many friends who believe in the same things we do.  To all the 2010 brides and grooms, congratulations and best wishes!

Carmel - Tiffany and Ryan
Cincinnati - Kelly and Ryan
2011 is already set to hold at least a couple of weddings that will be important to us and that we can't wait to attend, but I doubt the 2010 summer-of-the-wedding will ever be trumped.  More than likely, weddings will turn to baby showers and and bachelorette blow-outs to birthday parties featuring bounce houses and Dora the Explorer...

Anyone ever considered a destination baby shower?  Bermuda anyone? Kate

Photos: I take no credit for the last three photos in this post... I stole them from the Facebook pages of my friends and they do not belong to me.  Please don't send my any money for them, as I think that would be a copyright violation of some kind.  Thanks.

No. 8 - Parties with a Purpose

We may all still be waiting on our "uncommon success" but the group of DePauw grads that Blake and I hang out with on a regular basis have managed to find at least ordinary success at many things.  Among us are doctors, bankers, nurses, wonderful parents, non-profit-world gurus, tax and insurance folk, teachers, dog lovers, homeowners, athletes, contributors to all things important, marathoners, students, and just all around good people.  We are individuals who do things with a purpose and by golly, we do them right. 

The same attitude that leads this group to success in life in general is also the primary source of the No. 8 highlight of 2010... PARTIES WITH A PURPOSE!  No, we don't get together and party to raise funds for charity or plant trees (maybe in 2011), but we do get together in a planned and organized fashion that only makes the get-together that much more fun.  Still not sure what I mean?  Check out these examples:

Random Events and Holidays
Second Annual Chilifest at the Erdel's
February 2010 - Team Canada!
In honor of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Blake and I concocted an evening of games and events (think euchre, boggle, yatzee) complete with team flags, medals, and medal tally board.  Of course, no Olympics is complete without chili and beer, so we had plenty of both.  This party (and the events that took place after the final medal ceremony) will be a thing of legends.

Walker Thanksgiving - 2009

So yeah, I know, this is from 2009... it's just such a good example of Parties with a Purpose that it had to be given its due.  Every year, the Walkers host the gang at a Thanksgiving feast complete with deep fried turkey and all the necessary side dishes... and last year, complete with a Pilgrims v. Indians scavenger hunt.  The cunning and swift Indians easily took home the prize on this one.

Annual Canoe Trip - 2009
Yeah, this is from 2009 also, but again, must be given its due (plus, I spent this year's canoe trip at the public library near Wabash University... preggo and canoeing didn't sound like a good idea at the time).  This group has gone on a canoeing/cabrewing trip for years, usually at the end of summer (sometimes with no water to canoe in) and it has been one of the highlights of the summer.  The master organizer, Meggie, splits the group into guy-girl pairs and the competition is on.  We design t-shirts, we buy props, we try to be as clever as we can in a canoe.  Water or no water, laughs are guaranteed.

Birthday Celebrations

Matt's 30th in Chicago - Rooftop Seats
at the Cubs game

Caleb's Surprise 30th at the Casba
A group that celebrates for no reason at all doesn't let up when it comes to birthdays.  This year especially, as some of our own have started to hit the big 3-0... the parties have only gotten more intense.

They now involve surprises, traveling, giant cut-outs, family, friends from out of town and all the pomp that turning 30 deserves.

I have a feeling that while the novelty of 3-0 may have worn off by the time I (the youngin' of the group) turn 30, there will be plenty of partying between now and then to make up for it. 

The best part of these birthday parties is not the spurprise, or the cake, or the drinks, or the location, but the vigor and enthusiasm with which they are thrown and attended.

 Baby Celebrations

Stef Campbell Shower - 2009
The same is true when new additions come along.  Everyone, men included, turn out for baby showers in this group (granted, they drink and go bowling beforehand... but still).  I'm always especially impressed with the thoughtful party favors and "games"... an Adele CD in honor of baby Addie, a quilt with personal messages from each of us for Baby Corbitt... no smelling baby food for this group.  I'm looking forward to all the parties and events and showers that 2011 is sure to hold! 

Party on, friends,

No. 9 - Our House Becomes a Home

The Bungalow
About a week before we got married in 2008, Blake and I became the proud owners of an adorable little (and I mean little) bungalow (or at least I call it a bungalow) near Butler University here in Indianapolis.  Since moving in, we've painted a couple of rooms (and had our first marital dispute over what shade of blue to use for the bathr0om), replaced the old kitchen appliances with stainless steel, spent a small fortune on new windows, and made a variety of other necessary (new furnace) and unnecessary (landscaping) changes.  All of these changes have made us happy and even prouder of our little house.

Despite all of these great changes and updates, there was always one little thing that bothered us about the house (and made us wonder about the sanity of previous owners)...

Our bedroom is huge.  Huge as in, its easily the biggest room in the house (apart from the unfinished basement).  We could easily fit two king-sized beds in there.

Or a sectional.  
Or both of our cars.  (These are not our cars.)

The first thing every visitor says is "man, your room is huge!"  Trust me, we know. 

With all that space, we've always wished there were a walk in closet (which would totally fit without compromising the parking options) or even better, a master bath.  While both of those things are physically possible, they don't make financial sense.  We knew this before we even asked, but the professionals told us the same thing.  The house is just too small to support such a big investment, especially because we won't live there forever. 
So, we pushed those dreams aside and focused on something that did make some financial (and architectural) sense.  We pulled a God-move and closed a door only to open a window.  Well, it wasn't quite like that.  But we did remove a door and replace it with a window.  And remove a window and replace it with a door.  We decided that french doors opening onto the driveway just wasn't working for us.  We also decided that a window looking into the fenced-in backyard wasn't going to work for us or for our future dog (Toby!).  So, we laid down another small fortune and had the suckers switched.  Super successful project.  It looks great and as though it should have always been that way.  And the best part?  We can just let Toby right out into the backyard without walking around the house, up the driveway and through a pesky gate.

So, why our house has always been a house, a cute one at that, it now really feels like a home that is fully functional, has no obviously questionable features, and meets just about all of our needs and the needs of our growing family.  We are so blessed to be homeowners during this difficult economic time, and though I know this won't be our forever-home, the memories we are making there will last a lifetime.

Three cheers for the best bungalow on the block (or maybe the only one?),

Monday, December 20, 2010

No. 10 - Girlfriends Old and New

Really, one of the top 10s of 2010, and my life, is friends of both genders.  I grew up a tom boy and had lots of friends who were boys when I was younger.  Those boys from my neighborhood made me laugh, kept me on my toes, and helped me toughen up.  For them, I'm so thankful - we had a ton of fun back then and it's been great to keep in touch with some of them and check in now and then via Facebook.  Guys, if you're reading this, you know who you are. 

But, I've been even more blessed by amazing girlfriends.  As I get ready to embark on a the next leg of my journey as a woman - motherhood - I'm sensing that my girlfriends, old and new, will continue to play an important role in my life.  In 2010 I had some great opportunities to spend time and make new memories with some of the great women I'm lucky to call friends.

And, now, with no further ado... a lifetime of girlfriends in photos...
Chicago, 8th Grade Trip, Circa 1996

Laura and Kate 
I went to 1st through 8th grade with pretty much the same group of 20 girls.  There were cliques (and I was not in the cool one), there were cat fights, there were tears.  But, there were also fun times, sleepovers, and sad tears when we graduated and all went our separate ways to high school.  Through Facebook, most, if not all of us, have been able to see how far we've all come.  Many of those girls are now wives and mothers, all are successful in some way, and I feel lucky to have been able to watch my best friend from those days get married this fall, just like she watched me a couple of years ago.
Kate and Jamie - the lone
west-sider :)

Post-College Roommies - Maggie,
Lauren and Kate

My high school friends, Maggie, Lauren and Jamie, remain my dearest friends.  I credit the fact that we went to an all-girl school for much of our success as people and as friends. These girls are among the smartest, funniest, most talented and ambitious people I know.  They have been there for me when I needed them most and when I didn't deserve it.  In 2010, we spent time together at our 10 year high school reunion and I thanked God for giving our friendships the strength to last over a decade.  Though we are now separated by the 100 miles of I-74 between Indianapolis and Cincinnati, every time we see one another, its like I never left.  Can't wait for 2011 as we gather to celebrate Maggie's upcoming marriage!

Marvy, Kelly, just marvy
College at DePauw brought with it the women's soccer team and Kappa.  Though I've lost touch now with many of the girls I was close to during those four years, I've been lucky to stay in touch with a few.

In addition to Kelly, my so-lucky-but-random-to-have-become-such-good-friends-with-you-friend, who I've somehow been able to keep in touch with and see a few times a year, It's been a great year to watch other friends celebrate big life moments - MK (new baby) and Fitz (new husband). 

My first post-college girlfriends, Leslie, Sally and the other TFA girls in St. Louis were probably the one and only thing that kept me from quitting my day job to work at a hair salon.  Though our encounters, even of the online kind, are rare, I've had a small handful of meaningful exchanges that remind me that I always have at least one friend on each coast.

Kate and Kristi, Esquire

Law school was not so much the perfect time to make new friends.  It's competitive, it's a lot of studying, and I personally spent the least amount of time at school as possible (I did socialize, namely at the free keg parties in the law school lobby, but I had Blake to visit and lived with my two BFFs... ).  But, despite my best efforts to avoid connecting with my law school classmates, I did stumble upon a handful of friends and one best friend, Kristi.  We planned our weddings together and now she's a momma to the cutest little boy ever.  If we have a girl, they will get married.
Kate, LeAnn, Allison and
Since moving to Indianapolis, I've been in a "man, I need to make new friends" kind of mode.  Blake's high school friends all have wonderful girlfriends and wives and I definitely consider all of them friends.  I hope that 2011 brings more opportunities to spend with those girls and I look forward to raising kids together in this city I now call home.

Kate and Afshan - she's the only
preggo one in this photo...
I've also found friends in other lawyers and know that we will always have at least one thing in common - the billable hour.  While it can sometimes be hard to solidify friendships at work - given that I typically try to spend my time at work, uh, working, and not socializing, I know that Tonya, Afshan, and Mary are three colleagues I could always call on - for help with a legal question and lunch breaks or to support me at my wedding and throw me a baby shower.

Sutton Holiday Party 2010
Last but not least is the group of women that I most often find myself socializing with.  In part its because our husbands are addicted to one another and always want to get together on the weekends.  It's also because they are just a lot of fun to be around and do the best job planning (see future post on Parties with a Purpose).  Finally, it's because they are a great group of people (the guys included) who are there for one another and treat one another like family.  There are a million photos of this group but seems like zero with everyone in one shot.  So I'll leave this photo journey with the most recent shot. 

On a side note, girls, what do we think of my little maternity number?

Girls rule,

P.S. Feelings disclaimer - this photo montage is nowhere near complete nor is it meant to be exclusive :)  I have more friends than I have photos of and more photos than blogger would allow me to post without exploding.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top 10 of 2010

With fewer days than fingers and toes left in 2010, and the celebration of Christmas just around the corner, this seems like a perfect, even, time to reflect on the highlights, the "tops" if you will, of the year.  Sure, there have been some low points that I don't care to re-live or blog about, but all in all, 2010 has been a pretty great year for the Erdels.  In no real particular order, drum roll please, the Top 10 Highlights of 2010...

10.  Girlfriends old and new
9.    Our house becomes a home
8.    Parties with a purpose
7.    Good weddings of even better friends
6.    "I work at a law firm" becomes "I'm a lawyer"
5.    Almost breaking 2 hours
4.    Erdel expansion phase 1 complete
3.    Maternity clothes are fun
2.    For the 28th year in a row, family
1.    Looking forward to 2011

Please stay tuned... the goal is to give each highlight its due before the ball drops.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bumps in the Night!

3am and I have gotten to know one another pretty well this past week and between work and Toby's early-morning antics, I've been one tired mama!  I have zero problems falling asleep, often times I'm out before Blake and I even have a chance to say "goodnight."  But then, 3am rolls around and for no apparent reason, wham! I'm up. 

I'm not uncomfortable, actually it's usually the opposite.  Toby's not whining, though I sometimes hear his tail thumping the side of his crate.  I'm not having nightmares, just the usual odd dreams I've always had.  Blake isn't snoring (thank God).  So what the hell is it?

One of two bumps in the night.  Bump one - the baby! For over a week now, I've been feeling little pokes from the inside out.  Not sure when Blake will be able to feel it from the outside, but it's pretty cool and every little nudge is affirmation that this is real.  After so many weeks of no bumps of any kind whatsoever, these bumps in the night (and pretty much any time I'm quiet) are welcome.  This bump is also welcome as well...

19 Weeks
Bump two - my growling stomach!  After Sprout nudges me awake, I very quickly realize that I am starving (and have to pee, but that's not new).  I mean starving.  But, I'm so warm and comfortable and afraid of waking Blake and/or the dog, I don't want to get up to do anything about it.  So I lay awake, trying to talk myself out of the urge to make my way to the kitchen and eat a cheese stick or a Snickers, or worse, drive to McDonald's for a big mac (I've had more big macs in the last 19 weeks than I've ever had in my entire life...gross, I know).  This has got to stop. So, the mission, eat enough before I go to bed to not wake up hungry.  After spending the last, oh, 10 years, avoiding late night snacks, eating after 9pm is going to be a mental challenge, but I'm going to have to just do it. 

3am bumps and I can become long distance friends.  Or, at least the hunger ones - I'll keep the baby bumps :)


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Toby Comes Home!

One week ago, the first phase of Erdel Expansion was completed - Toby came home to live with us!  One sleepless night, only a handful of accidents, one crying fit by mom, and a serious biting problem later, Toby is making himself right at home.  By "making himself right at home" I mean running around like a mad-man, chewing on everything from my toes to the basket of wood next to the fireplace, and begging to come up on the couch.  Mom and dad are still getting used to having the little nugget around... but I think this is going to be fun :)

Sidebar: OMG - Toby was sitting on the couch with me as I typed, Blake walked into the room, and Toby launched himself off the edge of the couch onto the pillow we let him sit on on the floor.  We both just watched him do it and I'm still laughing!  Of course he is fine, but man, this dog is fearless!

With Toby to take care of and worry about, I've been thinking less about the fact that I'm now 18 weeks pregnant, having been feeling some baby movement (or at least I think it's baby movement) and have a little bump to show for it!  I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow and am looking forward to hearing the heartbeat again!  The nursery furniture we ordered and our bedding were delivered yesterday, but I'm going to wait to post pictures until everything is finished... the suspense is killing me, so I'm sure you are dying to see it (and bump pictures), too.  Patience is a virtue.

Do not be deceived by this picture.  Toby does not have patience.

I've also been thinking less about the fact that Christmas is right around the corner.  I've hung the stockings, bought a boy scout wreath for the front door, and put up the creche nativity scene my mom helped me build over the years, but we're going to forgo a tree this year.  I've loved putting up a tree with Blake the last couple of years, but it's a lot of work and we decided to focus our energies elsewhere this season.  At the moment, Blake is working on hanging the outside lights, so at least passerby won't think we are all bah-humbug.

See, we can have the Christmas spirit without a Christmas tree...