Thursday, October 28, 2010

5 Years Gone By

This weekend I'm doing something shocking, something "wrong," something you just don't do after you get married. My husband and I are taking a weekend out of town to celebrate our 5 year DATING anniversary.  I think it's a great idea.  My family thinks it is ridiculous.  I don't care.  I don't subscribe to the belief that it's not an important day anymore.  In my mind, I shouldn't have had to start the clock back at 1 day when I said "I do."  I knew I did way before that.  Technically, I think I should've started my clock this night, 5 years ago.  Enjoy the walk through time :)
That's right, Halloween 2005.  The night Zac decided he just couldn't live without me.  And shortly thereafter, I was surprised to realize I felt the same.  Of course, how could you not love me, dressed up as Dolly Parton?  (PS...those sleeeves were puffy as all get out and they came to a point on the back of my hand, I wish you could see that in this picture).  

Zac knew he loved me right away.  By the time I had made this wreath (annual Christmas craft #1 with my bestie), he had abandoned his boys and was spending most evenings at my little apartment.  
He even came to see my family and spend some time with us, as awkward as that may have been.  Just imagine, he called me on his way up for Christmas (the second time he was gonna be around my family) and I told him, "Just stay on I-57 until Mattoon.  You can meet us at the hospital." He didn't even try to negotiate. God knows I waited forever for my Aubrie Grace to get here and I wasn't missing one minute of her.  Now, Zac hasn't missed a minute of my first niece's life either, and I love that.
From then on, Zac made it up to almost all family holidays.  
Like Easter 2006
When we were back in Carbondale, he slept in on Sundays with me...and got annoyed that I thought he looked cute sleeping wrapped up in his dino blanket. 
But he still loved me and let me take more pictures, like this one.
He bought himself a sweet tight t-shirt that said "American Power"and a flame covered bandana to wear "for grillin' out" and I still loved him. 
I especially loved him in his uniform. 

Zac made it to my first college graduation. He even took the time to stare down my ex-boyfriend....and then tell me about it.
Time moved real fast, and before I knew it we lived in St. Louis.  A few months later my sweetheart was 24, but not too old, or too big, for balloons and party hats.  Admit it, even you love him in this picture.
 Two weeks later, it was time to celebrate our first anniversary.  One year down, lots more to go.
Over the course of the next year I got to meet Zac's parents, Jim and Lolla.  I got to find out that Zac comes from a highly functional family, a fortune we are both lucky to share.  
I also had the opportunity for Zac to prove to me that he would even give me the shirt off his back if I needed him to.  In this case, I needed kleenex for a terrible cold.  Zac instead gave me a big white t-shirt and took the liberty of cutting out the pit stains before he handed it over.  I laughed really hard at this, then couldn't let him leave the room until he modeled the pit-free shirt for me first.  I think it's marketable don't you?
By the time we got to Christmas again, Zac was fully a part of the family.  He even participated in Ugly Sweater Christmas.
2007 brought many great things, like the marriage of my best friend 
and my little sister, Maggie...
and the birth of this little guy
and another themed Christmas...
We watched some ball in 2008
ate big steaks
and got engaged.  
When I came home with a ring, Dad took the opportunity to make sure Zac was prepared for the life he was signing up for and took us to Rural King to get Zac fully outfitted for farming. 
Doesn't he make a darn cute farmer! 
In February we made the time for a short familyvacation to Galena to ski
and before I knew it, we were pronounced man and wife. 
Then we were off to see the world. 
We got home just in time for Caroline to join us and for me to graduate....again.
Then we wrapped up the year with the Vest Christmas ever!
This year we made it to Portland
and had our first married anniversary and so much more that would make this post even more ridiculously long.  
So you see...after all these years, I can't just start back at one.  I will not give up my dating anniversary.  Zac and I earned a little time for celebration.  Five years have passed so much faster than I ever expected.    I imagine five years from now I'll be putting together another couple dozen pictures asking myself again, where did it all go? 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Last minute prayers

A reminder to all of you following my blog... my sister Annie goes in for the follow-up ultrasound today to check on baby Ollie's heart.  Say lots of prayers for a completely healthy, completely complete baby. Thanks!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


On Sunday, my friend Emily lost her Dad.  Well, not really, cause we all know exactly where he is at.   John was his name, and he was a great man.  Occassionally you have people in your life that are your family regardless of the fact that they aren't related and John was family to me.  I wanna write about John today because he made me proud and he deserves a post.

John and his family have not had it easy.  In 1993 his wife Carolyn died of breast cancer, Emily was 9 with two older brothers.  I think most people would be a mess at the loss of their spouse, especially when there are 3 little kids left to raise on your own.  John never let this be a burdeon, never let it shake his faith.  In fact, the evening she died, with all the family together in his kitchen, John asked to lead everyone in prayer and the first thing he did was thank the Lord for blessing he and Carolyn with 22 years together.  I don't know if I could do that.  But John could.  Three years ago John was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.  Doctors gave him three months.  He lived 3 years.  A few months ago, another tumor appeared.    

John was a great example of what a parent should be, what a Christian should be.  He was a kind, forgiving, gentle, involved, patient man.  I remember all the times I would stay at their house and 1 night would turn into 2.  He never complained about the noise, always took us out for dinner, treated me like a special guest and a daughter at the same time.  I always appreciated that.  I think it's rare to find people that love you like family when you're not.

I've been fortunate to see John and to be around him in the year since I've moved home.  He came in as a patient a few times.  I would stop in and chat with him at his store in town.  I also looked into buying a couple properties from him.  I spent an evening looking at all the units and we sat and talked business after we were done.  John told me about the path he took to get where he was.  Made some suggestions about finances, told me to talk to my dad about all of it, then finished by telling me he was proud of me.  I told my best frined that, and she had similar experiences to share.  She told me when she got suspended for drinking on a school trip, the first thing John did wasn't to scold, wasn't to  lecture, he held her by both shoulders told her he was still proud of her and that he loved her.  Both of us had this happen a few times, John always made you feel built up.  He really did.  For Courtney, John has been and will be an example of faith that she didn't have in her family.  For me, John is an example of balance and persistance.  He reminded me to work hard, but never lose track of what's actually important, my faith and my family.  

I will miss John, I really will.  Even though I didn't see him everyday and I had lost track of the friendship his daughter and I once had, I always thought about him everytime I drove past one of his buildings or the local church he donated a building to.  I am sad for John's family, I'm sad that he is gone, but I am so happy for John.  He got to see his daughter married, his grandchildren born.  He had 3 happy years of borrowed time and now he is restored to health and reunited with his wife.  I can't ask for much more than that.  Hopefully when you have some free time, you will think about the John Nohren in your life and will take the time to write him or her a letter so they know what they mean to you.  My letter I had to give to Emily, but I think John already knew anyway.    


Friday, October 15, 2010


I've been there...for years and years.  I know more about college and student loans that I'd ever hoped I would.  Now, I see an opportunity to help.  My boss has a business called Extraordinary Educational Tools.  The goal of the business is to set up membership sites for schools so there is a platform to communitcate between schools and parents and students.  It's a great idea and I really hope it takes off for him.  In the meantime, I've been busy with a little project of my own.

I think education is important, and I want everyone to know all of their options before picking the path for their future.  Because I feel this way (and I've been helping a few people in Pana to get prepared), I've done a couple different things.  I've written 2 powerpoint presentations, 1 about FAFSA and getting the funds for college and another about consolidating student loans.  I am also planning a presentation for the juniors and seniors at Pana High School about college.

My office manager has a daughter that is in the middle of her senior year and I sent her a Facebook message asking for help.  I need to know what high school kids want to know, so I am as much help as I can be to them.  So....I'm gonna link this blog post to Allie's Facebook page and direct the kids here so hopefully I will get a few more responces.  This is my request

For those of you that don't know me, I'm Abbie Ballard, the new chiropractor at Beyers' office.  It is important to me that every student feels like they have direction when they leave high school.  Regardless of if you plan on going to college, or trade school, or jumping right into the job market, I want you to be prepared.  This is why I'm bothering to write this message.  

I've pretty much been there, done that when it comes to school.  I've been to Lake Land, SIU-C, and grad school in St. Louis.  I've taken lots of money in student loans, recieved grants and won scholarships. I've worked, many jobs, both in and out of school.  When it comes to finding money for college, I'm your girl.  The problem guys don't know how to do this.  Many of you don't have a school picked out.  Most of you have no idea what you wanna do.  I'm offering a chance for you to ask.  Ask me.  I want to know what you want to know about college (or passing on college if that's the case).  Please send me your questions about anything.  Cost, what classes are like, how to pick a roommate, how to budget, how to pay for school if your parents can't, how to find the right school for you....whatever you wanna know.  

I plan on a presentation at the school sometime in January specifically for you guys to drill me with questions, so you don't have to be afraid that you're out of the loop (cause trust me, you are, but you don't have to be). 

So, if you are parent, especially of a high school kid, please have them read this post and leave me a message.  The more messages I get, the better able I am to help.  If this goes well in Pana, I'm 100% willing to do the same in my hometown.  I know there are many students without direction because they don't know their options and many parents completely unprepared for filling FAFSA, applying for college, paying for college and I can help.  You just gotta ask.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Losing my motivation

I was being such an athlete...was being the key word.  I started in June.  Running, and running and running  a few days a week, 3 or 4.  I did this all through June and July.  Then I ran my first 5K on 7/24, slacked off the whole next week and a half, ran and evening or two, then ran my second 5K on 8/7.  Since then I've been bad.  Really inconsistent.  Running twice one week, not again for a week and a half.  It's been a struggle.  I've gotta get back on the bandwagon.  I got new shoes at Kohls specifically to guilt myself into running but that's clearly not worked.  I even tried again by buying full length running pants for when it gets cold....also a fail.  If any of you out there have any tips please feel free to send them my way, cause this is what I feel like doing. 

Lounging of course has its downside.  Like me, showin up in Florida with all of my family, lookin like this (cause I do wear a two piece)...
Oh my....I laughed out loud.  God love this woman for putting it all out there.  Anyway, I've lost my motivation and now I gotta find it again, one mile at a time. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hey, thanks

Things I am thankful for today:

1.  A very busy Baby Ollie
2.  A countdown to Disney World
3.  My niece Aubrie going to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
4.  My beautiful wedding ring
5.  Good books
6.  Being able to eat my lunch in a pretty park each day
7.  A busy day at the office
8.  That busy day being not too busy to write a blog
9.  Liter sized water bottles
10.  Maggie trimming my hair last night
11.  All of the messages on Annie's blog after her prayer request for baby Ollie

Kinda makes you wanna be thankful too huh?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I married an old man

Yesterday was Zac's birthday.  He is officially 28.  I always tell him I can't believe I married such an old man.  Last Sunday he declared that it woud be his birth week, which is ridiculous, but he declared it.  He also reminded me that the week DOES start on Sunday, cause calendars start their weeks with Sunday.  I disagree, but it's not worth the argument....been there, done that (and apparently the whole "day of rest" arguement is not enough logic for Zac). 

Last Sunday we started with a steak dinner and watching movies, which is really an ideal day in my book.  Monday and Tuesday he worked out of town.  Wednesday he called from Vintage Vinyl to see how many albums he could buy as presents to himself.  Thursday we went out to lunch and he spent his day surfing the net (for blu-rays, his mild obsession) and watching movies. 

 Friday I met him in St. Louis (I had a conference there the next morning) and he asked for a nice dinner and a nice hotel.  We used to live in St. Louis and we had a couple special occasion restaurants.  Our favorite of these was Kreis'.  It's a great steakhouse.  Not cheap, but delicious and the service is always great.  They are the "Last Word in Primerib" and Zac agrees. Just look at this...
Oh man....delicious!  Zac got the prime rib, I got fillet, and we split a appetizer of garlic shrimp.  It was just as good as I remember!  We also got lucky.  Zac wanted to stay that the Renaissance.  He said it was a St. Louis "icon."  I am just gonna go ahead and plug Priceline right now.  If you wait til the last minute you do get amazing deals.  We got a room for $45.  You just pick the area, put in a price and the number of stars and before you know it GREAT DEALS!  

Last night I bought him a pizza from his favorite place, Caseys and he told me as I was leaving the house to help Maggie paint, that he was "gonna spend $30."  When I asked him what he planned on spending the money on, he said "I don't know, but my mom send me some money and I'm gonna spend it." He also told my mom that he wanted "stuff from Amazon" for his birthday, so it would seem there will be lots of online purchases in our future.  He was especially pumped when one of my best friends, Angie, showed up with steaks, already marinating,  for him.  Now he has plans for lunch today and can't wait.  

Last night officially ended both Zac's birthday and his "birthweek"  I am glad...birthweeks can be expensive :)  I still can't believe I am married to such an old man....

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Vintage Vinyl

Every so often Zac does something awesome and I realize that I was right to pick him.  This evening was one of those times.  I knew when I married Zac I also married his love of electronics and his obsession with sound/visual quality.  Over the course of the last few years he has come home with a little of everything and then returned it and got the next, newer, better version.  So, in 3 years, I've had 4 different T.V.'s and we are soon to get our 4th blu-ray player.  Now mind you, we've had a playstation 3, which does play blu-rays, but we needed a separate blu-ray player to get the full effect from the surround sound because the ps3 decodes in PCM, and you can't choose for the receiver to decode it instead, which sucks cause the reciever will do a better job.....etc.  Anyway, I'm getting off topic.

Zac got a really sweet surround sound system 3 years ago on "mega super discount" and since then we've had plans to expand things a little.  We saved the money and bought a reciever (which he LOVES) and then started saving money to buy a record player.  This record player actually

You read right, a record player.  They have best sound qualilty and that's what it's about for Zacman.  Occassionally we put the cart before the horse and we did in this case.  We started collecting vinyl right away.  We bought a little of everything.  We got Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, Nine Inch Nails.  A little rap in the form of Snoop Dogg and 2Pac.  Then we got old school, prepare yourself mom.....Meatloaf (Bat Out of Hell which I remember rollin' around listening to when I was little), ELO, Steely Dan, Charlie Daniels Band, Creedence.  I was thrilled when we bought each one even though it made no sense to have them yet.  Fast forward to this year and Zac's birthday, (which is technically on the 9th, but how are you gonna wait to buy the player when you've already got the money saved) I got him that record player and we started jammin!

Zac called today and said he was stopping by Vintage Vinyl after a job.  He asked if there was anything I'd like and how much he could spend. I told him I wanted some classical, I just do, not sure why exactly. And, this is what brings me to the part where I love him super bad....he brought home 10 classical albums.  A 3 disc of Milton Thomas playing Bach (that's extra info from me cause I have no idea who Milton Thomas is but I'm sure someone is really excited for me) and a 7 disc set of Mozart.  The Bach album had never been opened.  Incredible huh.  Brand new in 2010.  He also bought an album I've been waitin for, Allman Brothers Beginnings.
 I must admit, I play Midnight Rider everytime I pass a jukebox.  Now I am thrilled cause Zac and I can rock out to Whipping Post and Midnight Rider as I write this post!  Jealous much? I'm just the happiest girl right now.  If you ever read this, I love you husband.  You are the best!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sweet Baby Ollie

Though my sisters and I share many of the same readers, I still would like to post a link to my sister Annie's blog this morning.  As you all know by now, I have a big family and it's growing bigger every year.  The majority of the pregnancies go off without a hitch, but occassionally we need some prayers, and this is one of those occasions.  Please visit Annie's Blog and think about her and her family, but more importantly, Baby Ollie when you say your prayers tonight and for the next few months.  Thanks for reading and for caring!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Chicken skin

Every Thursday Zac has a day off of work and every Thursday he drive the 20 minutes to Pana where I work to go to lunch with me.  I generally let him pick where we go cause it matters much more to him.  He almost always pick Pana Family Restaurant.  The reasons:  soup or salad bar included with every meal, the ranch dressing, free ice cream with every meal and it's super cheap.  They always have a special going and today was all you could eat fried chicken which he had to have.

Once his food came Zac did what he usually does and pulled off a big piece of skin and ate that while say "fried chicken skin is SO GOOD!"  I laughed at him, and then was terribly impressed with his next statement.  "Wouldn't it be great if they had chicken skin salads.  Croutons are too crunchy.  Chicken skin would be just right."  Oh gross, yet, he may be right.  Just feast your eyes on this and then tell me Zac isn't right.

Plus this particular chicken dish is so patriotic you can almost hear the guy at Ponderosa ordering an American Salad with Chicken Skin Croutons and ranch dressing.

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