Monday, December 23, 2013

A Journey Complete and a Celebration

About 18 months ago my sister began a journey to create opportunity for herself. She decided to go back to school to get her bachelor's degree in nursing. Sure, she already has a bachelor's degree, and she has enough schooling to be an RN. But to be truly mobile in her career, she needed the undergraduate degree to be in nursing, not psychology (her original undergrad degree). So back to school she went, for something like the third time in her adult life.

As usual, she rocked it. She would sigh over her A- on her test or project and wonder what she could have done to get an A+. (Yes, her expectations of herself are really that high.) She juggled work and studying and fitness and traveling to see family to earn this degree.

So when it came time to graduate, she asked if I would attend, along with our dad, who would be driving up from Arkansas. What a wonderful opportunity for the three of us to be together, a rarity considering the distance between us.
Look out, Chicago! The Floria's are in town.
My what a time we had.

I flew in to Chicago on a Friday afternoon to be greeted at arrivals by my sister and dad. We drove into the city, lunched at a Corner Bakery, and then, the Sears Tower. I mean the Willis Tower, but it will always be the Sears Tower to us. Kristi had last been to the top of it about 20 years earlier, and Dad had never been to it.

We had such a wonderful time walking around, looking down at all the buildings and eventually trying our courage by standing on "The Ledge," a glass-bottomed enclosure that literally hangs off of the edge of the 103rd floor. Kristi could barely take the picture while I clung to the building for some time before finally stepping out.

We drove through the city a bit and looked at all the holiday lights, then drove back to Valparaiso, Indiana, where Kristi lives. We relaxed for a while, then headed out to a restaurant for dinner.

Saturday morning she and I took in a Crossfit workout. Kristi's been doing Crossfit for several years now and raves about it. I've heard all about her Crossfit friends and got to meet them in person. We did a group workout, where we got together in groups of threes and had to complete these strangely acronymed exercises like "DU's" and "wall balls." It took our group 36 minutes to complete and we were drenched in sweat. By the end of it I had completed 450 single jump ropes, 100 wall balls (squatting down and throwing a 14 lb. medicine ball as high up against a wall as possible and then catching it and going back into a squat for the next toss), and 35 power snatches (lifting a weight bar from a squat position directly above my head in a single movement.)

Crazy as this sounds, that is my idea of fun. and Kristi was complimented on her form during the power snatches. Of course, she couldn't resist but ask the guy, "Did you just tell me I had a good snatch?"

I learned that "DUs" are "double unders" and that I cannot do them. (It's jumping up once and having a jump rope pass under your feet twice before your feet touch the ground again.)
Lunch at home and then shopping in downtown Valparaiso. Valpo is such a pretty town and was special to see in a fresh coating of snow that was still falling as we were out and about.

Dinner out again. Shocking. Food and the Floria's.

And then Sunday, the graduation ceremony.

The chapel from my seat in the last row.
Valparaiso University is a private Lutheran school and the graduation took place in the chapel. It's a beautiful building with soaring stained glass panels two stories tall. The graduation was regal, filled with pomp, tradition and ceremony. So wonderful.

I never made it to Kristi's first graduation from college -- I was a freshman at St. Cloud State and her graduation took place the weekend before my finals week. I can count on one hand the number of times I had been to Valparaiso, for as close as we sisters are and for as many times in a year I see Kristi. It was such a treat to spend time with her and Dad. When we're together we are laid back, happy as can be to just sit around and "gaboon," as my dad says. And, as only families can do when they get together, we feast.

Such memories were made. I am so proud of my sister and so happy that our dad and I could be there to celebrate.


  1. Yea daughters. Such a good time. Food, fun and a festive time of year. It was like Christmas only a week early.

  2. You will all remember that weekend forever, I'm sure. I don't believe I raised you girls to make comments about "snatches" tho. We too are very proud of what Kristi has done as well as being proud of all three of our "girls".