Thursday, October 3, 2013

Another summer's end

Well, Fall has begun not only officially, but the weather has begun turning cooler here in Chicago. Though the Summer weather was quite mild, we were able to enjoy some summer time fun before coolness keeps us indoors.

Lets see, where to begin...

The beginning of the summer we had our six year anniversary. We borrowed a friends tandem bike for the Bike the Drive event. Chicago closes down Lake Shore Drive, which goes along Lake Michigan and thousands of bikes go out for a ride. It was about 30 miles, beautiful and fun!

We celebrated Preston's birthday! He was actually out of town at a conference on his actual birthday, but he still got to enjoy a peanut butter cheesecake! :)
Surprisingly to us, one of the Visser's childhood friends from Pittsburgh, Dave Santistevan, came to Chicago for an event at one of our church branches close by. Dave, who is now the Creative Arts Pastor at a large church in Pittsburgh, was the featured speaker for a weekend worship conference that our church, New Life, was putting on. What a fun blessing to see an old friend (and his wife Emily) and their new baby Tyler. Since then, Dave has actually been back to speak and perform.  

Oh yes...most of our summer Sunday afternoons were spent with study group at our house. Every Sunday afternoon, Preston and a few other psychology people got together at our home to study for the EPPP exam. EPPP stands for "Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology" and it is required for anyone that wants to practice clinical psychology.  Our good friend, Casey, was over at the house many nights, especially in the week prior to the exam, as she and Preston crammed for the big day (June 27th).  We all had to wait a couple of weeks to hear the results of the test, but we were SO excited and grateful that Preston and Casey both passed the exam. Praise the Lord!! We cracked Sobes in celebration (2nd picture). 

Preston, Dr. Lia, and Casey studying for the EPPP
Preston and Casey with the celebration Sobes after learning that they passed the EPPP.

As a thank you for helping her with her dissertation, one of our friends (Preston's co-worker) took us out for some authentic sushi. We ate the raw stuff!

Since the beginning of this year, I have been a part of a home group bible study. Now I lead the group once a week. I really like the way our church here is set up with small home groups rather than Sunday school classes. It works well. Small groups often do outreach and activities together. One of the things we did this summer was paint a mural  next to an open lot where gang members hang out. The word of the Lord never goes out in vain, right? We pray the wall is a witness to those who see the wall. 

Another unique Chicago experience....PIZZA POT PIE! A small hole-in-the wall restaurant where we stood in a disorganized line for about an hour keeping watch on an old Italian that paced to and fro, just awaiting his subtle nod to indicate that we were allowed to take a seat.  It was quite crowded, but they have got some great pizza.

Speaking of pizza, we had some friends over for homemade pizza party; thin crust (them) vs deep dish (us). 

Dave and Noelle with their homemade pizza.  It was excellent.

Definitely the deepest pizza I've ever made.  Wheat crust, turkey sausage, turkey pepperoni.  One slice was a whole meal.

Hot air balloons anyone?  Plenty hot air balloons at the annual Hot Air balloon festival in Lisle, Illinois. 

When it got dark, the owners of the hot air balloons would count down from 10 and then all light up their flames at the same time.  When they got the timing right, it was pretty cool to see.

The World hot air balloon was pretty sweet.

Since Preston passed the EPPP his weekends have, for pretty much the first time in our marriage, been freer. I say freer and not FREE, because, Preston is ALWAYS working on some project. lol. But, yes, he has been much more free, and on a random Saturday afternoon we went kayaking along the Chicago River.

It is quite a different experience kayaking through tall buildings and near big tour boats rather than through the wooded areas of Tennessee, but it was still an enjoyable time in the city.

Summer time means biking time for us. Preston rides his bike every day to work, and I ride my bike some days. But, on warm afternoons we may take a bike ride to get some food, or go sit by the lake. 

FINALLY, we bought a tent!! We were so excited about the tent that we put it up in our living room, and yes, we slept in the tent that little kids.
We did use the tent for real camping too. One weekend we drove about an hour outside the city to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and camped for a couple of nights. Camping spots around Chicago are difficult to attain. We were so blessed that my co-worker (Netara) happened to be camping there the day before, and she reserved a spot for us (and had to chase away some random family that tried to steal it even though it was already paid for and reserved!).

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the four National Lakeshores in the country.  Last year, we went to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan.  Now, Preston says we are obligated to go to the other two.  

Preston actually cooked.  We should go camping more often.

Panorama shot of our campsite. 

Chillaxing in Lake Michigan.

We got to visit my parents in Kentucky one weekend.  While there, we stopped by this fascinating place that is of major international importance to the way the Roman Catholic Church supports hurting parishes.  Apparently, they answer directly to the pope.  It's located in rural Kentucky of all places.

Church has been a blessing to us up here. Preston continues to switch out weeks of leading the worship team. The first Sunday in September our church had a big block party on the street. We got to be a part of the worship team on that Sunday. Chicago is so full of block parties throughout the summer, it's fun to have a church block party for the neighborhood.

The street in front of our church gets shut down for a day, and we have a party!

One weekend, our church went down to a lake for the annual outing and baptisms.

I don't think that the rain bothered the people getting baptized.  Preston's there in the middle with this guitar.  Everyone sings loudly the whole time the baptisms are going on.  It's a great celebration.

The people to be baptized in the front and their mentors behind them.

For my birthday we had a real treat! Seems like in Chicago there is always a way to do the normal in an upscale way, that's what the bowling alley was like that we went to...upscale bowling! We ate dinner, bowled and played some pool. Fun evening in the city. 

On the first day of Fall, September 22nd, some gals, Preston and I went APPLE PICKING!! It is always SO nice to go anywhere outside the concrete jungle. Even though the apple trees were not huge and awesome, it was fun to get some apples, be in nature, and be with good friends. 

Gals Left to Right: Allisa, Kari, Casey, Brook, Amy, Karen, Krystal 

Just last weekend, Preston and I ran for the third time in the Lawndale 5k, put on by the clinic Preston works for. Preston beat his time from last year. Me...not so much. That's okay. The important thing is that it is a great thing for the community, and a fun time! 

Mello likes posing for the camera.

Mello? He survives! He's doing just fine. Unlike some football teams out there. :-/  Preston and his family are having a rough season.

Now we get ready for Fall and the winter which will soon follow.   Preston's just waiting on the state of Illinois to approve his application for licensure as a clinical psychologist.  I'm staying busy with my job as a lead advocate; I've been traveling more often recently to train new hires around the state.  Praise the Lord for our work and stability here in the Big Windy City!

God is great!

Blessings, Preston and Krystal