8.31.2012

Thankful for 6 Years Together

Earlier this week I told someone I was about to celebrate my 7th wedding anniversary.
The only problem is tomorrow is actually our 6th anniversary. Whoooops.

Anniversary

Maybe it's because we packed so much life into this year it feels like it was 2.
Maybe it's because I have a horrible memory.
Maybe it's because I made a mistake and I don't need to read more into it.

I feel like I couldn't say much more about marriage than I did in last year's anniversary post.

But I can always come up with plenty of reasons I'm thankful for my husband.

Makes Me Laugh
our rehearsal dinner

I'm thankful he continues to make me laugh.

Date Night
this was the best meal I've ever eaten

I'm thankful he learned early in our relationship that the way to my heart is through my stomach.

Crazy Years
in the midst of the crazy

I'm thankful we survived the crazy years. Because there were definitely some crazy years.

halloween
our costume periods didn't "match" but we looked gooooood

I'm thankful he plays along and embraces my silliness.

Mostly I'm just thankful we met. {here's how we met}

Happy Anniversary, Babe.

8.30.2012

An Ideal Day

I wake up in our enormous bed happily smothered by fluffy pillows. I can't help but smile at the handsome hubby as he blissfully snores in his sleep. I'm feeling well rested. Years of practice have taught me how to sleep right through all his ruckus and wake up feeling refreshed.


It's a crisp morning in Chicago so I sneak out and start the day with a run. I run not because I have to and not because I'm training for anything in particular. I run because I love it. Running is a regular and cherished part of my day.

As I take off down Michigan Avenue I think back to last night's party. After twenty-five years of marriage, we finally threw another dream wedding. It took months of planning but the evening was a success. All of our friends and family were together feeling happy and healthy. It was the best wedding gift. Renewing my vows to the man I continue to love, respect and cherish is a memory I will not soon forget.

I arrive back to our condo to find the hubby is awake and he offers me a cup of coffee. We laugh about the night before and feast on left over wedding cake from the The Cakery. An indulgent breakfast is a perfectly decadent way to begin our second twenty five years together.


Once we clean up, we lock our place up tight and jump on the blue line headed for O'Hare. We have a long day ahead of us but my carry-on is stuffed with good music, a September issue or two and plenty of our favorite snacks to keep us entertained during our flights to Rotterdam.

Today we fly to Europe to begin our second honeymoon. After years of planning we are finally taking the Passage to Asia cruise we have always dreamed of. For the next 37 days we will explore the world while we celebrate the life we have created and share together.


As we ride the train, I find myself feeling a wonderful mix of emotions. I am blessed to be sitting next to the man I love. I feel relieved and content that our party was such a success. I know how fortunate I am that we got to see and spend time with the people closest to us before leaving. And I am full of anticipation and excitement about the adventure we are about to experience.

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Imagining an Ideal Day is something that I've never tried before. But as I allowed my mind to wander and weave together elements that had to be included, I began to see what all of Jason Womack's fuss is about.

One of the many fantastic things about my job is that I'm being introduced to books and authors that I might not have discovered on my own. I recently finished Womack's book Your Best just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More. At first glance it doesn't seem like this book and I would be a match. But I was surprised to discover that we are.

Be careful when you read it, Mr. Womack is an inspirational guy. You might find yourself running a 5K or imagining Ideal Days. Consider yourself warned!

What would be an essential element of your Ideal Day?



8.29.2012

Just When I Think...

Just when I think I've seen Chicago at its most beautiful

pink sky

...this city surprises me again.

This is the third and final installment of the requested weekend recap trifecta, I promise.

On Saturday afternoon, Matt* suggested we take a speed boat ride on Lake Michigan to see the city from a different vantage point. Thankfully there were a few ticket purchasing snafus and we ended up on a sunset cruise.

People, let me tell you, the view was spectacularly spectacular.

pink sky + a sailboat

It was the ideal end to a weekend full of good friends, great food and memories to last a lifetime.

Have you been spectacularly surprised by your city recently?


*This is the last of three specifically requested
"weekend wrap up" posts appearing on the blog this week.
Anything to make you smile, Matt!

8.28.2012

5K: Check

I did it!

On Saturday, I ran my very first 5K.

Team Smart Savvy Style
Team Smart Savvy Style: Angie, Me, Erin and Heather

Last monthish Heather of Smart Savvy Style fame invited a few bloggers and other friends to participate in the Traffick Free 5K.

TraffickFree 5K

Traffick Free is such a great organization working for such an important cause, so I figured this was the perfect chance to cross a little something-something off my day zero list.

I laced up my running shoes and got to training.

Not Quite the Finish Line

Unfortunately this picture is not an accurate portrayal of how I felt while running the 5K.

For most of it, I was pretty uncomfortable. Actually, I was borderline miserable.

It was hot, humid, too sunny for this pasty-white girl, and there was a severe shortage of water. It hurt.

My Coach

That is why I am so incredibly thankful for this girl.

She was an inspiration from the beginning until the end. She fought to keep me positive, cheered me on, and ran at my pace even though she's way further along in her training than I am.

I seriously believe that without Angie, I never would have crossed that finish line.

Before that day, Angie and I were co-workers building a friendship. Saturday was the first day we were ever in the same room together for crying out loud. For her to support me the way she did is an incredible testament to her character and her heart.

I am totally fortunate to have found such a wonderful new friend. Thank you, Angie. You are totally my favorite.

8.27.2012

One, Two, Three Times the Fun

This was the kind of weekend that requires another weekend to recover from it.

Do you know the kind I mean?

Friends at Cloudgate

Over the course of four days, we got to visit with three different groups of friends. All three were traveling through Chicago. All three we know and love from our dating years in St. Louis. And none of them knew they were going to run into each other.

Crazy, right?

From Thursday night through Sunday morning, much merriment was made.

Untitled Untitled

Chicago is such a great town in which to entertain friends. There was no shortage of ideas regarding what to do.

Matt*, who stayed with us all weekend, suggested that we rent bikes on Friday and go for a ride along Lake Michigan. Having not ridden a bike in about 6 years, I was a bit nervous.

Sail boats

The incredible views quickly calmed my nerves.

The riding itself was less difficult than I anticipated. I was even able to snap a few pictures with my phone while tooling along. But, true confession time: my butt hurt for days after. OUCH!!

Regardless of the pain, I consider the outing a huge success. Not only was it a beautiful afternoon, the hubby said he wants to get bikes. Score! Padded shorts, here I come.


What kept you busy this weekend?



*Consider this is the first of three specifically requested
"weekend wrap up" posts appearing on the blog this week.
Anything to make you smile, Matt!

8.23.2012

My iPod Has Magical Powers

Guess what! Guess what? I have a guest post today over on The Girl with The Blue Bow.

Remember Christianna?


She's been traipsing all over Europe this summer. Are you as jealous as I am? But while she's away she agreed to share her corner of the blogosphere.

Would you please stop by and check out my post? It's all about my very diverse iPod and its time traveling, magical powers.


Quick: What are you listening to RIGHT NOW?

8.21.2012

Chicago Air & Water Show

I'm married to a man who looks up at the sky every time an airplane flies over head.

I mean it. Every. Time.

He's a pilot. He owns roughly 500 framed airplane pictures (for the record, that's down from the 750 he had before we got married). He eats, breaths, and pretty much lives for airplanes.

You can imagine the shock (and horror) that appeared on his face last Thursday when I told him I'd never seen an air show.

Airobatics at Chicago Water & Air Show

Thankfully, we changed that on Sunday when we attended the Chicago Air and Water Show.

Look! There They Go!


Fat Albert


Blue Angels

I've heard tales of the Blue Angels and their magical maneuvers. Truthfully, I've never really bought into the hype. But after witnessing their impressive aerobatics over Lake Michigan this weekend, I'm totally sold.

I think it's safe to say this won't be the last air show I attend.

Blue Angels in Chicago

Would you shock my hubby too or are you an air show veteran?

8.20.2012

Mmm Mmm Monday: Dinger Dogs

We also got a chance to catch a Twins game while we were on our road trip to Minneapolis.

Target Field

I bet you couldn't guess that an important part of our ball park experience is dinner.

dingerdog & fries

At Target Field we got Dinger Dogs. Dinger Dogs aren't your average hot dogs. They're foot long hot dogs!

helmet full of nachos

We also stuffed ourselves with Nachos.  In case it's tough to see (disposable camera problems) that is an adult sized batting helmut filled with ooey, gooey Nachos.

Indulgent or what?

banner of shame

In 1987, the Minnesota Twins beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Therefore, I hereby dub that banner the banner of shame.

Check - Target Field

How Target Field Measures Up 
Hot Dog: The Dinger Dog was definitely filling. I'm not going to say it was the tastiest dog I've ever tried, but it definitely gets points for being nearly two dogs in one!

Nachos: Again, here, they get high points for quantity. Yellow corn chips, nacho cheese, ground beef and jalapeƱos...and lots of it. And plenty of novelty points for being served in a batting helmet.

Most Obvious Sponsor Presence: The Twins play in Target Field... but Budweiser, US Bank and Best Buy had a very visible presence also.

Unique to Target Field: During one of the innings they had a little boy helping with announcer duties.  He called out each player before their at bat started. It was pretty stinking cute.

Our trip to Target Field means another stadium crossed off the list and another major league culinary experience. What the sports fans in the twin cities might be missing in flavor they certainly make up for in portion size. Perhaps they're packing in the calories for the cold weather on the horizon.

Are you totally grossed out that we ingested that much junk food during 9 innings?



Check Here for Part 1 of our Minneapolis Road Trip Recap

8.17.2012

Road Trip Recap

Last weekend, the handsome hubby and I set off on a road trip. I bet you've been sitting on the edge of your seat wondering where we were headed, haven't you?

Well, your wait is over. I'm here with all the dirt.

Road Trip Pit Stop

We drove North through Wisconsin (which was surprisingly picturesque) and ended up in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Unfortunately, about two hours into the drive I reached for my camera only to discover I'd left it back in Chicago. But we didn't let that stop us from documenting the trip. We stopped and bought a few disposable cameras and continued on our merry way.

Coldplay
confetti | lasers | light up bracelets
fantastic effects almost as great as the band

Friday night we saw Coldplay in concert!

Yes, we drove to Minneapolis to see them even though
they'd been in Chicago earlier that week.

Twin Cities Rail

We spent Saturday afternoon at the Mall of America. No sales tax on clothing or shoes, a selection of roller coasters and I mean, come on, it's the MALL OF AMERICA enticed us to spend a few hours exploring it.

Mall of America

Lego Sculptures in Mall of America

Enormous Lego sculptures were an unanticipated bonus.

Minnesota
holy puffy-faced, early morning, pre-coffee face!!
This is clearly an instance where being able to see the picture immediately would have come in handy.


This trip meant that I'm one step closer to visiting all 50 states! Yay for progress on my Ultimate To DO list.

Any adventures in Minneapolis you can share?

8.16.2012

Dreaming Together

Today I'm excited to have a post about dreaming over on Of Such is the Kingdom.

Source: flickr.com via Molly

It's like Whitney Johnson says, "We dream best when we dream together."

Is there someone in your life that encourages you to dream?

8.15.2012

Meet Olivia: Of Such is the Kingdom

Happy Button Swap Guest Post Day!
(yep, still haven't come up with a better name...I'm open to suggestions)

Have you noticed the sweet button that's been hanging out on my sidebar this month? If you click on it, it will take you to my friend Olivia's blog.

But before you head over there, you should totally read the guest post she's written here!

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Hi! I’m Olivia and I blog over at Of Such is the Kingdom. I’m one of those eclectic bloggers—a little food, a little frugality, a little activity, a little philosophy, and little of all of the above. I’ve been blogging more about food lately; I think that’s because my three children are trying to eat us out of the house. The more I can bake and cook at home, the better I feel about our finances and our health.

I am thrilled to be guest blogging for Molly today, but when she gave me my assignment of “What to do with kids in Chicago,” I had no idea how challenging I would find my homework! There is a lot to do in Chicago. I could have planned an entire month, but I settled for preparing for our family’s someday week-long trip to Molly’s city.

Chicago

Be forewarned: I’m a spendthrift, so our entire week in Chicago for a family of five is under $2200.

Where to stay:
Since I’m trying to keep this as real as possible, I’d have to say that accommodations are pretty much a non-negotiable with our family. We have a MUCH better time on vacation if the children have a separate bedroom, but we hate to break the bank on a place to stay (leaving no $$$ for the fun stuff).

So what’s a family like ours to do? Look outside the box for that good night’s rest, that’s for sure! There are great options at vrbo.com. Some of the two or three bedroom apartments very close to downtown are around $1500 for the week. (One of them even mentioned they’d be willing to negotiate. I’d say that by turning on the charm, I might be able to get that number down to $1250.)

This is totally amazing to me, since a hotel room costs around $200 a night. Yes, you heard me right. That is one room, 2 beds and cranky kids for MORE money than a peaceful vacation. ‘Nuff said.
$1250

A Must:
After doing a little research on the www, I realized quickly that a 3-day Go Chicago Card would probably be a good thing. This is a lot of money right up front, but that will cover A LOT of touring in the city. A 3 day card for each family member totals to $484.45 . So anything below marked *GCC is already paid for by the card.
$484.45

Buckingham Fountain

What to do:
With kiddos, there is a scary balance between boredom and crazy over-exhilaration. Either one has dire consequences. On the one side, you deal with whining and irritability, and the on the other, you deal with spaz children who either conk out in the middle of the street or stay up jumping on their bed all night. Just take my word for it; you do not want to go to either extreme!


Since our regular daily routine includes an afternoon rest time, when we’re on vacation, we try to keep somewhat to that schedule. Now, this does not mean returning to our nice little vrbo condo every day while we pretend that our kids pretend to nap. No, it just means planning some “down” activities into the afternoon. And yes, with the kiddos, we would try to return to our rooms earlier than the average city tourist might, just so that we will be able to enjoy the next day as well.

Here’s a rundown of a hypothetical week in Chicago with three children:

Saturday 

Arrive in the Windy City. Check into vrbo condo, make ourselves comfortable, walk out/order in some deep dish. (The momma can’t wait for that one.) Get some shut eye.

Giordano's Famous Stuffed Pizza

Sunday
AM church and market for picnic and snack food for the week
PM Lincoln Park Zoo—free ($2.75/per kid carousel ride), picnic in Lincoln Park
$65

Lincoln Park Zoo

Monday
9:15am Be at the Museum of Science and Industry when the doors open. *GCC 
Check out the coal mine, Pioneer Zephyr train ride, fairy castle, amazing pinball machine, chicks hatching and idea factory. We don’t usually do souvenirs, but I hear that the ToyMaker 3000 is worth it. Five dollars for a toy made by robots to your own specifications as you watch sounds pretty cool!
12:30pm Picnic somewhere outside the museum.
1:30pm Head to Navy Pier where we can ride 5 rides each with our Go Chicago Card. Then find the Tall Windy Ship and take a ride. This will be a fun and entertaining way to relax for an hour or so while still going right on with the tourist thing.
5pm Pick up a bike at the Bike Chicago Navy Pier office and bike south, finding a picnic spot for dinner.
7pm Head back to condo for R and R.

$15

Navy Pier

Tuesday
8:45am Be at the Sky Deck before the doors open. Head up to check out the interactive exhibits and the beautiful view of morning Chicago. My older two would love the fact that there is a printable scavenger hunt for things you can see from the top. And of course standing on the top of the world on a glass ledge will be almost too exciting for a mother’s heart. *GCC 
12:00 A quick walk would take us to Salseria for a Chicago take on Mexican. Waiting for food counts as a rest.
3pm Legoland! The land my kids would be waiting for! *GCC Purchase snacks inside Legoland.
7pm Head back to condo for dinner and more R and R (it is vacation!)
$90

Untitled


Wednesday
9am Spend the day at Shedd Aquarium and Adler Planetarium *GCC 
We'd probably spend an extra $10/person for one of the shows and have a picnic lunch outside.
6pm Eat at Butcher and the Burger

$100

Thursday

AM at beach—maybe the Kathy Osterman Beach 
PM at Millennium Park catching the 1pm family performance and then heading over to the Family Fun Activity Zone for the day’s activity.
$0

The Lawn - Millennium Park

Friday
AM—shopping—American Girl Place and more
PM—game at Wrigley field On a perfect vacation, this would be a Cubs/Cardinals game and we would be that family that sits way in the top decked head to foot in Cardinals’ gear.

$150

Saturday

Pack up and say good-bye! Head back south.

So there you have it. I’m sure there are a lot of holes in this plan—like where to park and how to get from place to place via public transit, but at least you have the idea.

Someday we’ll make this trip for sure, and I promise to wave at each and every one of you as we enjoy this beautiful city.


I’m guessing there are some Chicagoans reading… 
Where would you send a family of five in Chicago?

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If you're interested in swapping buttons and posts in the future let me know!