Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! It's been awhile since I've spent a Halloween at home without a costume, but I have no complaints. I took advantage of the beautiful weather today (in the mid 50's) to get to know campus life at IU a little better. I started off by picking up a tall white mocha at Starbucks, and set off on foot to explore.
The Sample Gates above are the entrance to campus. There is a plaque stating "I hope that our alumni will always insist upon the retention of our precious islands of green and serenity- our most important physical asset, transcending even classrooms and laboratories in their ability to inspire students to dream long dreams..." There is a wooded forest in the middle of campus with winding paths, that are now covered with the fallen leaves. Campus is breathtaking. While I was walking across campus, the bells in the tower below started chiming, and it took me back to my days at LSU. I truly love exploring college campuses, and today was no different.
(As I'm sitting here blogging, 20+ girls just ran into my apartment in their Halloween costumes, party animals and nerds, chanting "Zeta Girls you know you're hot, let me see that booty pop. Woop. Woop. Woop. Woop. Woop." My job is so unique!)
When you walk off campus, you wander into downtown. It's an adorable area filled with stores, restaurants, city hall, etc. The rolling hills and changes in elevation are new to me, and while it's a bit of a workout for the legs, I find it beautiful too.
After lunch and catching up on some football, I made my way over to Assembly Hall for the Haunted Hall of Hoops. Kids of all ages showed up in their Halloween costumes for games, trick-or-treating and autographs. After, the basketball team had their first public scrimmage, and the season kicks off next week. Just like LSU has their baseball dynasty, IU prides themselves on their basketball program. Even though it has been 22 years since Bobby Knight won the Hoosiers a National Title, it was great to experience another sporting venue that has so much pride and history.
And to cap my day off, I made my way over to St. Paul's Catholic Church for mass to celebrate All Saints Day. The priest who said mass was funny, the congregation was casual, and I felt right at home. It's just around the corner from the Zeta house and is definitely in walking distance, but I'll be glad to have my car in the next few weeks as winter is approaching.

It was a nice, fun-filled day of just exploring IU. Things get so hectic at the house, I find that I am enjoying some of the downtime I have to myself. I'm looking forward to kicking back now that the house is empty, watching College Gameday Final, and catching up on some ZZZ's.
Make sure you send some pictures from your Halloween adventures my way!

You'd never guess...

You would never guess the temperature is in the low 30's when these girls go out on a Thursday night. Hello!!! Am I the only one who got the memo that it's close to freezing up here?
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Friday, October 30, 2009


I found this quote on a card in my apartment when I moved in, and I absolutely loved it. It warmed my heart, and I wanted to share it with each of you.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28
After losing my job, I felt a little lost. But being here in Indiana has made me feel like I have purpose again. I believe that the Lord has a plan for Layne and I, and while I can't completely understand why things happen, I am learning to trust that they are for the good, and that God is holding us in the palm of His hand. It's a beautiful lesson to learn, and I'm so thankful my husband and I share our faith. It makes life even more rich and full.
Like I say, life is good.

Work Hours

So... I'm a house mom. I live where I work, 24/7, so I never really go off the clock. What are the hours like? Pretty good actually. I've been surprised that I haven't had a problem getting 9 hours of sleep a night... they just aren't regular hours. I'm officially back on "college time." I'm up late, I sleep late. But as long as I get my sleep I don't have a problem.

I have the flexibility to come and go as I please during the day. The only requirement is that I sleep in the house every night.

What are my responsibilities? Well, there is a staff I'm responsible for. We have four cooks in the kitchen, six houseboys who serve at dinner, and two housekeepers. From a paperwork perspective, I've got to make sure our invoices are getting paid and our staff is getting paid. We've got a budget we need to stick to, so I've got to pay attention to that. We have formal dinners and recruitment events I have to work with the girls to plan as well.

Most importantly though, my job is about providing a safe and secure environment for these woman. It's consoling the girl who just broke up with her boyfriend and came home to an empty house hysterical at 10pm. (Pepperoni pizza and a heart to heart solved that.) It's about cancelling the access keys to the house when the girls get home from the bar and can't remember what they did with them. It's letting the girls into their rooms when they get accidentally locked out. And then there are the not so fun rules to enforce- towing cars parked in the fire lines, asking boys to leave after hours, and making sure there is no alcohol being stored upstairs.

It's a unique position. Memories of my college experience have come flooding back to me. I'm enjoying my time up here, and can't believe how quickly the time flies by when you're staying busy. Before I know it, I'll be spending a long weekend with Layne in Illinois visiting Aunt Paula, Keith and the kids, and our friend Hannah's wedding... and I can't wait for that!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Temporary Home

On Monday night, I drove into Bloomington, Indiana to begin a new adventure in my life as the house mom for the Alpha Xi chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha. Below is a picture of where I'll be living until the Fall semester ends.
The chapter house is both beautiful and large, sleeping 110 girls on three floors. In the front of the house are a few tables that the girls can sit outside and study on when the weather is nice.
Below is the view when you want into the front door. If you head straight back, you'll run into the hallway that takes you to the chapter room and my apartment. You can see the stairs leading to the "dungeon" below. The dungeon is the study room in the basement. To the right is a living room area, and a TV area as well.

If you look to the right when you enter there is a little sitting room that leads to the dining room. Below are some of the sophomores I'm getting to know.

If you head upstairs, it takes you to the TV lounge on the second floor. You can always find the juniors hanging out, working on homework, watching Friends, or playing Mario Kart.

The Alpha Xi Chapter raises more money for their philanthropy than any other Zeta Chapter in the entire nation. So far, they have already raised over $195,000. I am blown away by the efforts they put into it, and am so proud to call them my sisters.

This is the view you have when you walk into my apartment. I've got a little table I have set up as a desk, and Zeta provided a laptop for me to use while I am here at IU. I got a comfortable reclining chair too, which makes me think of my Dad.
Here's the view of the couch and the little kitchenette I have. It's got a sink, a refrigerator, a microwave, and plenty of cabinet space.
I have a closet that runs the entire length of my bedroom wall. And great furniture for all of my belongings.
And to top it all off, I have a great bathroom. It's large, has a tub, and a washer and dryer. What more could I ask for?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Monday Morning, 6am Departure
Starbucks Pit Stops Along the Way
Hopeful arrival in Bloomington, Indiana... 8pm
Aunt Ellie- Please send me Mrs. Doody's Kindergarten Class address. I'll be driving through Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, Illinois, and Indiana, and would love to send postcards of my travel their way.

Indiana University- Here I Come!

It is with excitement, anticipation, and a little bit of nerves that I want to share a new and bright opportunity on the horizon. I have officially accepted a temporary position to be the House Director of the Alpha Xi Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha at Indiana University. The former house mom left in the middle of the semester, and a friend from college who works for our International Office recommended me to fill the spot until they can hire a long term replacement for next semester.

Luckily for Layne and I, we won't have to spend too much time apart. We'll have 15 days away from each other, and then a weekend in Illinois for our friend Hannah's wedding. We'll have 10 days apart before I come home for a long Thanksgiving weekend, and then a 20 day stint before I'm home for good. Stephen will be here with Layne which will help, and I'll have 111 girls who live in the Zeta house to help keep me company.

I'm really looking forward to visiting the NCAA Hall of Fame in Indianapolis, and a day trip up to Notre Dame to check out the campus. Layne's Aunt Paula, cousin Keith and the kids will only be 3.5 hours away in case of emergency, and my friend H Matt will be a quick hour drive.

I know being away from Layne will be a challenge, but we both feel that this will be a good experience for me, and that in the long run, our marriage will be stronger for it. I'm getting on the road Monday morning, and will arrive in Bloomington later that night. And from there... the adventure begins!

They say home is where the heart is. Part of my heart has always stayed in New Orleans, and part of my heart will always been in Baton Rouge. Part of my heart is always with Layne. It'll be hard to be apart from everyone and stand on my own, but it's short term... and hey, I bet I'm going to get to check out a new college football stadium or two!

I've got a busy weekend ahead of me to get ready to head out of town, but will be sure to keep everyone posted as my adventure unfolds.

Happy Birthday Mom!

So another great benefit of being home this past week was that I was able to be home for Mom's birthday celebration... and man did we celebrate! On Sunday, after the Zeta Reunion, Abby and I met up with Dad's side of the family at Brewbacher's for lunch. We had cake and party hats, and I got to spend some time with my Maw-Maw. It's rare that I have that opportunity, so I'm glad I was able to take advantage of it. This was cake and Happy Birthday #1 for Mom!
On Tuesday night, I met up with my parents and their friends at "The Bay" to celebrate Mom and Aunt Becky's birthday. I love my mom's friends. Although they aren't my friends, I have a unique relationship with several of them and cherish the fact that we are close as well. Below is my Mom and her "breastest" friend Aunt Becky who just celebrated her birthday as well. This was Happy Birthday Cake #2!
And on Wednesday night, Abby and Doody had the family over to their house to celebrate October birthdays (Mom, Uncle Tim, and my cousin Cullen). Doody cooked roast beef po-boys and gravy- AMAZING! We did what we normally do at family events... sit around, talk, and laugh together. It was a great night, which of course included cake #3! Cullen and Mom share a birthday, so we called him up and sang to him too.
My Mom is such a giving person. She pays attention to details and makes the little things important for all the people in her life. It was so nice to see her showered with love from all the people in her life. Thanks for letting me celebrate with you Mom. I had a blast, and am glad I was able to be there. It's been too long since I've been able to celebrate your birthday with you!
PS- Check out the amazing birthday cake Abby made. She ran out of icing, but it was still delicious. Thanks for being the hostess with the mostest Abbs!

Halloween Prep with Sissy

One of my favorite things I did while in New Orleans was to spend the day in Chalmette with my Sissy. She picked me up from Mom's house on Monday morning after class, and we were able to spend the whole day together. Abby went through Mom's Halloween decorations on Sunday night and was able to pick out some to bring to her home. Mom let me do the same thing last year when Layne and I had our own home, and I was excited for Sissy to take home some things herself. Kimbeaux even got to pick out some decorations for her house too!
We hit up the Big Lots and Dollar General in Chally and were able to get some decorations for the outside of the house on Karen Drive. We put them up together, and they look great! Abby and Doody are having everyone over for Halloween this year, and I love that their house is ready for the big party!
When Doody got off of work, we went down to the French Quarter to go pick out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch. Doody's brother Travis (who is my age) and his girlfriend joined us, along with Maggie and Lucy who were both celebrating their second birthday. The weather was great, and it was a nice afternoon.
Thanks for the quality time with the Donnelly family! I enjoyed sharing the day with them.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Delta Kappa Turned 50!

Another reason for my trip back to Louisiana was for my sorority reunion. Abby and I were both members of the Delta Kappa Chapter of Zeta Tau Alpha at Louisiana State University, and this year we celebrated our 50th Reunion on LSU's campus. On Sunday morning, Mom and Dad dropped me off at the Lod Cook Alumni Center on campus for a luncheon. I had a great time seeing so many friends from college. It was great to catch up with some people and reconnect with others. The presentation at the luncheon was great. It was a thorough presentation of our history, and how we came to be the organization that we are today. Old skits from the 60's and 70's were performed- stories from the 70's and 80's were amazing. I'm so glad I was able to be there. It reminded me of how much I loved that experience in my life, and how thankful I am that I was able to be apart of it.

I haven't heard our creed in years, but listening to it this weekend reminded me of how much I loved repeating it at our weekly chapter meetings. It's a great statement, and I find it incredibly inspiring. I thought I would share it with all of you.

"To realize that within our grasp, in Zeta Tau Alpha, lies the opportunity to learn those things which will ever enrich and ennoble our lives; to be true to ourselves, and to those within and without our circle; to think in terms of all mankind and our service to the world; to be steadfast, strong, and clean of heart and mind, remembering that since the thought is father to the deed, only that which we would have manifested in our experience should be entertained in thought; to find satisfaction in seeming rather than being, rather than seeming, thus strengthening in us the higher qualities of the spirit; to prepare for service and know the nobility of serving, thereby earning the right to be served; to seek understanding that we might gain true wisdom; to look for the good in everyone; to see beauty, with its enriching influence; to be humble in success, and without bitterness in defeat; to have the welfare and harmony of the Fraternity at heart, striving ever to make our lives a symphony of high ideals, devotion to the right, the good, and the true, without a discordant note; remembering always that the foundation precept of Zeta Tau Alpha was love, "the greatest of all things." (by Shirley Kreasan Strout)

More to come about Zeta Tau Alpha in a few blogs... it's kind of a big deal!

2009 Stadium of The Year

Every year, it's my goal to go to a college football game at a stadium I've never been to before. With my unemployment status, I didn't think I was going to be able to hit up a new location... but I did! Last year was a visit to the Big 12- Oklahoma Sooners. This year its the Southland Conference. McNeese is a small school, with less than 9,000- but they put on a GREAT gameday. My favorite perk- you can leave the stadium to go back to your tailgate and re-enter. People had great tailgating set-ups. The food smelled delicious and they had live bands in the parking lots. Every stadium I go to gets compared to Tiger Stadium. Pros: Tickets were much cheaper ($18), and the concession stand was cheap too. Thanks for the hot dog, peanuts, and diet coke Dad! I'm sure RV parking spots don't cost nearly as much either... I could have just as much fun celebrating my Louisiana Saturday night in Lake Charles as I do in Baton Rouge. My impression was that it is alot like LSU, just a smaller school version.

Thank you Dad for helping me realize the my tradition was continuing. I didn't even realize it!

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It's Gameday!

Saturday morning, my Mom, Dad, and I got back on the road again to head to Lake Charles for another day of festivities. Claire really looked great in her suit. Her shoes, gloves, hat... everything went together perfectly. And it better! Nan invested several hours helping her put her outfit together, and it paid off!

Matt and Jeff made the trip up for the weekend too, along with Po's sister Nancy and his mom, Mrs. Juanita.
It was perfect fall football weather, and it made for a great night! Congratulations Claire Marie. I am so proud of you, and am thrilled I was able to share in your special weekend.

I Pledge My Loyalty to Royalty

I pledge my loyalty to royalty: All hail Princess Claire!

One of the reason I went to Louisiana this past week was to spend sometime at McNeese University. My cousin Claire was the Junior Homecoming Maid, and I couldn't miss out on the festivities. So I flew into New Orleans on Thursday morning, and by lunch time we were on the road. It's a 3 hour drive on I-10, through Baton Rouge and Lafayette. The homecoming parade and pep rally was on Thursday night. I swear, we drove three hours to help Claire get dressed and see her drive by on a flat bed truck, caught a 30 minute pep rally and firework show, and we were back on the road for the three hour drive home. I don't mind the road time, but we caught a horrible rainstorm on the way back and didn't pull into NoLA till 1:30am. At one point in time, we were going 35mph while crossing the Atchafalaya Basin. Thanks for driving Nan!

Matt, Kristen, Mom and I... Go Pokes!

The Proud Parents, Nan and Po!

Claire and Mom. Loved the tam with the peacock feathers!

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Hello from New Orleans!

It's late Monday night, and I was finally able to get on a computer. I'm at my parents house in New Orleans, having a wonderful weekend (that is turning into a week). My husband, being the amazing man that he is, gave me a kitchen pass and a one way flight into NoLA to recharge my batteries. Like he says, "It's good for the soul." My trip has been wonderful so far- McNeese homecoming weekend in Lake Charles, the Zeta Tau Alpha Delta Kappa Chapter 50th reunion, family dinner, a day in Chalmette with Abby, Halloween decorating and a trip to the pumpkin patch... the list goes on. I'm determined to get several blogs posted. I figure if Monica can get it done with two kids, I can too!

Before I got to bed though, I have to wish a very happy birthday to my favorite canine niece in the whole wide world. I love you, Lucy! Hope Sissy and Doody spoiled you and you had a great day!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Layne's Bio

Layne got asked to facilitate a capital planning forum this Thursday and Friday. It's a nice honor, adds some variety to his work week, and is something else for the resume. I'm so proud of him. His PR contact (Jessica Newell) helped him put together this bio. I loved it and thought I would share it with you!

Layne serves as Director of Sustainability Services at Building Solutions. Clients praise his infectious enthusiasm, attention to detail, and ability to listen. Layne is a cum laude graduate of Texas A&M University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Construction Science, as well as the department's award for most outstanding graduate. More recently, he was recognized by DallasCEO magazine as a "Top 30 Under 30" Real Estate Professional (though, he's pushing that upper age limit these days!) and by The Real Estate Council of Dallas, naming him "Young Gun of the Year" in 2007. Layne is married to a Crazy Cajun and resides in North Dallas.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The "Work" Part of Unemployment

Filing in order to get your unemployment insurance from the government is definitely a tricky process- multiple organizations, numerous names, passwords, and pin numbers to remember. I've got a notebook filled with steps to get through the process each period. In Texas, we file for two weeks unemployment at a time, twice a month. And the only requirement is that I have to submit 5 job applications a week. In the real world of job searching, I've got several recruiters working with me and have submitted resumes to all of the major E&P companies in Dallas, and several in the Houston and Gulf Coast area. In order to keep up with the five applications per week pace though, I've had to start applying for some interesting positions including but not limited too:

  1. Borders
  2. Blockbuster
  3. Barnes & Nobles
  4. Marshall
  5. WalMart (I failed their application test and need to reapply in 60 days.)
  6. Target
  7. Home Depot
  8. Walgreens
  9. CVS
  10. Lowe's
  11. Macy's
  12. The Great Indoors
  13. Starbucks
  14. The Container Store
  15. Crate and Barrell

I've got to apply for 5 more this week- any ideas?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Snug as A Bug In A Rug

Layne wakes up early for work during the week, about 5:30 or 6:00am. I don't make myself get up until 7:30am. (I'm taking advantage of that unemployment benefit!) So every morning, Layne gives me his pillows and tucks me in under the covers. It's the best sleep I get every night! And today, I was able to take advantage of this beautiful, wet, rainy weather that we have. I opened up the windows and snuggled in to let the pitter patter of the rain lull me back to sleep. It was a perfect morning, and hated that it had to end.

Good news: Abby is continuing to rock nursing school, and got another A on what everyone says was an impossible test.
Great news: Stephen is on his way to Dallas for the weekend.
Best news: Tomorrow is gameday. GEAUX TIGERS!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Memorable Quote

Yesterday, Les Miles, LSU's head football coach, was in the middle of his regular Monday briefing with the media when a reporter asked him his thoughts regarding the state of Louisiana really enjoying football season right now with LSU and the New Orleans Saints both being undefeated. His reply made my heart glow.

"Louisiana is the greatest football state in America. It's a place where the women understand what it means and how to play it. The boys grow up wanting to play junior high youth football, high school football, and then play college football for the Tigers. With the Saints winning and the college team doing right, it's a great fall in Louisiana."

It's always been great to be an LSU Tiger, but it doesn't get any better than this. With undefeated Florida and Tim Tebow coming to our house, and College Gameday Live at LSU, it's going to be electric on campus. I remember my days, and am so glad my brother Greg is living up his own. GEAUX TIGERS! As my husband the Aggie would say, "BEAT THE HELL OUT OF THE FLORIDA GATORS!"

My Library

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved the library. When we were young, I remember Mom taking us there for the summer reading program. There is nothing like the way a library smells, and the stacks and stacks of knowledge and imagination excite me today like it did when I was a kid.

One of the benefits of being unemployed is that I now have time to go to the library. While running my errands today I dropped by, and was once again thrilled by the experience. It's the little things that make all the difference. I picked up a bunch of books- two Marian Keyes novels, "Angels" and "Anybody Out There?". Her novels are romantic comedies, and I love the heroines she creates. They make for an easy read, are great for the beach, and will definitely bring a smile to your face. My Aunt Ellie is a big fan as well. The other three books I chose are period pieces. I really enjoy the books Phillipa Gregory writes (best known for The Other Boleyn Girl), and decided to step out of my comfort zone and try someone new. I chose "Dancing with Demons," a mystery of ancient Ireland (circa 669 A.D), "The Game of Kings," 1547 Scotland threatened by English invasions, and "The Name of the Rose," a mystery involving Franciscans at a wealthy Italian abbey in 1347. I am thrilled to embark on these new adventures. I have a passion for reading, and can't decide where I want to begin.

While I was at the library, I signed up for the book club there. They meet at the last Wednesday of the month, so I requested the book at the library, and am going to go check it out. They also have a knitting group that meets at the library on Friday from 1-3pm. I am pretty jacked up about my first "knitting club" meeting this week, and already have a friend who is going to check it out with me. I knew there were some benefits about this flexible schedule....

Off to the kitchen for me now. We have some friends coming over for dinner and chickenfoot. For those of you who I haven't exposed to chickenfoot, it's a game played with dominoes. I'm obsessed with it, and would love to introduce you to it too!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nan Does Dallas!

Last week, I was spoiled to have Nan come to stay with me in Dallas from Thursday through Sunday. It was a great long weekend. We went to lunch, ran errands, caught a chic flick, and went shopping. Nan showed up in capris and flip flops, and got caught off gaurd by the early fall weather... so shopping was a must, right? We took a tour of the Cowboys new stadium, which could be an entire blog entry in itself, and splurged on a great dinner at Blue Mesa Grill. I love their Spa Grilled Fish of the Day! Gameday was spent in true gameday fashion- College Football Live at 9am, a nice walk around the neighborhood, and then cheering on the Tigers from Dallas. Layne was lucky enough to get a suite ticket to the Texas A&M game, and went with his college roomates Nick and Zach. The Casa de Court was full again on Saturday night. Nan and I were also able to find 4 suits for Claire to try on. For those of you who haven't heard the great news, my cousin Claire was nominated to Homecoming Court at McNeese University as the Junior Class Representative. She needs a suit, shoes and a hat, and were able to find some great steals at... Macy's! I hope one of them work for her.

The weekend passed by way to fast. I enjoyed Nan's company, and was sorry to see her go. Monday has been quite productive though. Sheets and towels have been washed, laundry is done, beds made, and I've been attacking my to-do list. Only a few more hours left to my domestic work day, and can't wait for Monday Night Football. Vikings vs. Green Bay.... I've been waiting for the showdown for weeks. I love the fall!