how i wonder what you are

For the first time since I moved to Austin, I headed back to Chicago for a quick weekend to attend my friend Sara’s baby shower. It was great to see her and her growing belly (I can’t believe how much bigger it was 3 months later!) and my other girlfriends who attended. Of course, I also got to hang out with my mom and brother who are still in the area. It was weird to be chauffeured from the airport by my mom – I was always the airport chauffeur for family that came to Chicago. I was never in Chicago without my own car. I would have liked to spend more time, drive by our condo to see how it’s holding up, stop by my former place of employment and see people, but it was a very quick weekend. I hope to be back at the holidays!

Sara and her husband Brady are not finding out the gender of their baby ahead of time. So the girls who threw the shower did a great job by choosing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” as the theme. The decor and gifts complimented the theme perfectly. They even had star balloons tied to the mailbox!

They strung a line of onesies across the fireplace where the gifts were placed.

Sara's Baby Shower

My friend Michelle made an ADORABLE diaper cake. I told her she should totally sell these on Etsy.

Sara's Baby Shower

Diapers circled little vases of flowers on the tables and stars hung from the chandelier.

Sara's Baby Shower

The food spread was nice and summery – fruits, cheeses, salad, chicken salad sandwiches, veggie pizza, and an apple tart pastry that my friend Jill made.

Sara's Baby Shower

The cake was so adorable!

Sara's Baby Shower

The mom-to-be was glowing and looked great!

Sara's Baby Shower

Everyone was invited to decorate a onesie for the baby.

Sara's Baby Shower

I kept mine simple with an iron-on elephant.

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara's Baby Shower

Michelle got a little more creative and made hers a Chicago Bears onesie with the butt saying “Packers Stink”. I doubt the daddy will allow it to be worn, being a die-hard Packers fan!

Sara's Baby Shower

Everyone brought a book to give the baby. Naturally, I called up my sister and told her to send me some!

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara got lots of awesome gifts. Just the gifts alone made me totally wish I had a reason to shop in the baby aisle – never mind that I can’t even look at a onesie without squealing. And don’t get me started on baby socks. I melt!

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara's Baby Shower

As if all the baby stuff was enough – there was also an actual baby in attendance! Sara’s friend Jamie recently had her second daughter. She was very well behaved the whole time.

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara's Baby Shower

After gifts, we took some pictures in the backyard. It was a HOT day in Chicago, but I’m used to the heat. Just kidding – I think it’s going to be a LONG time until I’m used to this kind of heat.

Sara's Baby Shower

It’s so exciting that not only Sara is having a baby, but my other good friend Jill is ALSO expecting a baby!! Sara is due near the end of August and Jill is due in early December.

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara had another friend there who is pregnant too – due any day now!!

Sara's Baby Shower

Sara's Baby Shower

Before we left, we all had to make a prediction for the sex of the baby, the birthdate, and weight and length. I guessed that she’ll be having a girl on her due date around 6 lbs 10 oz and 21 inches long. We’ll see if I’m right!

Sara's Baby Shower

Can’t wait to get word of the birth – just a few weeks left!!! I’m hopeful I get to meet the baby at the holidays – along with Jill’s newborn!!

on the beach you’ll find them there

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly take any more vacations this year, I hopped a plane to Myrtle Beach with my girlfriends! One of our friends lives in Greenville, SC and drove down to meet the rest of us who flew from Chicago. There were six of us total. We’ve all been friends for at least 15 years. A couple of the girls I have known since the 1st grade.

We rented a big condo right on the beach. Once we got there and stocked the fridge, we really didn’t need any plans or entertainment. We just wanted to spend some relaxation time together and catch up. There’s nothing like a little girl time.

The first night we settled in and went out to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. The next morning, it was time to hit the beach!

Here was our condo, right on the beach!

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

You can’t relax on vacation without wine, right? I brought some with me including this Pinot labeled with same name as our hometown! Go Byron!

Myrtle Beach

The next evening I decided we had to do a “photoshoot” on the beach. I said “Girls, let’s do a photoshoot on the beach!” I called it a photoshoot to be funny – I really just wanted to get a few fun pictures of all of us girls on the beach.

By the time we got out there, it was dark, so all I could capture with my flash was some sand at our feet. I balanced my tripod on some stairs and set the timer. The girls were good sports about hanging out in the slight chill of the evening while I got some good shots.

But I had no idea the direction this photoshoot would take after we got to laughing and acting silly. The “photoshoot” is now infamous – known only as “The Photoshoot.”

Here are a few of the winners. And a few of the outtakes.

Lovely Group Shot: Starting the “photoshoot” out normal

Myrtle Beach

Outtake: OMG Look there’s a crab! And I almost stepped on it!

Myrtle Beach

Best Jumpity Shot: Hey at least we all made it off the ground at the same time.

Myrtle Beach

Outtake: Slow reaction. Except for Stefanie – great timing!

Myrtle Beach

Serious Faces: Need a little practice on this one

Myrtle Beach

Sentimental Shot: Love this picture almost as much as I love the girls in it

Myrtle Beach

Outtake: We were suppose to strike a sexy pose? I don’t think we quite got it. And Tiffany – you DID make it in the picture! HA!

Myrtle Beach

Outtake: Not sure what we were doing here, as shown by my face

Myrtle Beach

Pyramid: We did it! Despite my major laugh attack

Myrtle Beach

Lovely Group Shot: Another winner!

Myrtle Beach

Action Shot Take 1: Stef, you’re running the wrong way!

Myrtle Beach

Action Shot Take 2: Yoga poses! Well, some of them. Tiffany’s showing off her well-formed downward facing dog. And I’m showing off my…um…yeah.

Myrtle Beach

Outtake: Again, I have no idea what’s going on here

Myrtle Beach

Outtake: We are practicing our deep thinking

Myrtle Beach

Chorus Line: Nice extension ladies!

Myrtle Beach

Finale!

Myrtle Beach

After all that madness, we still needed to eat dinner! So we headed to Broadway on the Beach and grabbed some grub at Joe’s Crab Shack! Let’s get crackin’!

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

After dinner, we walked around outside and found a photobooth. Clearly it was meant for less than 6 people, but we crammed into it anyway.

Myrtle Beach

As we walked by Señor Frogs, the music blasting outside beckoned us in. I’m kidding. It was obnoxious, but it sounded like a party, so we went in for ONE dance.

But wait, a punching game! Sara totally dominated.

Myrtle Beach

Ok, a drink and a few songs later, we were still hanging with the frogs.

Myrtle Beach

And by frogs, I mean the weirdo DJ’s that suckered Sara and Michelle into a cha-cha. The rest of us ran for safety.

Myrtle Beach

But they lived to tell about it! And they’re still having a good time!

Myrtle Beach

What a night. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life.

Myrtle Beach

The next morning, we planted ourselves out by the pool and enjoyed a little more time with Tiffany before she had to drive back to Greenville. Then we took a nice, relaxing walk along the beach.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Late afternoon silliness in the sun…

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Two friends walking on the beach…

Myrtle Beach

Two (different) friends walking on the beach…

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Hi Tiffany! We missed her already, so we left her a greeting in the sand.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

Our last night in Myrtle Beach was pretty low-key. We soaked in every last bit of the sun and our time with each other before we had to head back to the real world.

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

I’m so glad we were able to take this trip and we vowed to do it again in a few years!

See all my pictures from the trip on Flickr.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Girls on the Beach” by the Beach Boys

when it’s twilight in boston

We finally made our way to Boston. A city we’ve been wanting to visit for a long time, a city my sister hadn’t even been to, and she lives in NY. We planned to meet my sister and her fiance while they were there for a wedding, and Drew and I figured we’d celebrate our 3rd year anniversary while we’re at it. It wasn’t until a couple days before we left that we found out our good friends Tiffany and Luke would be there at the same time. Seeing them made the trip even better. We had a fabulous time.

We arrived at the Omni Parker House on Thursday afternoon. It is the longest continually operated hotel in the U.S. It has a lot of charm and character and its central location is perfect for tourists—in fact, it’s a stop on the Freedom Trail. I highly recommend this hotel for anyone staying in Boston.

First sight of the day was the Granary Burial ground, right across the street of the hotel. There lies Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Ben Franklin to name a few. We stopped and listened to a reenactor tell the true story of Paul Revere’s midnight ride.

We then met my sister after she arrived off the bus from New York. The three of us headed back out and walked by the Old Corner Bookstore (a meeting place from the days of Longfellow, Hawthorne, and Emerson) and the Old South Meeting House.

We stopped and looked at the birds perched on the Irish Famine Memorial.

Later we walked towards Faneuil Hall and Christopher Columbus Park and took some photos of Boston Harbor.

We stopped at Salty Dog Seafood Grille for dinner alfresco. Ahh – that is what vacation is all about.

Afterwards we all grabbed giant cookies in Quincy Market.

All these historic sights were within walking distance of our hotel, which is one of the things I love about Boston. We walked and walked and saw so many things. It’s a quaint little city with a lot of mixed architecture—old and new. The skyscrapers really dwarf the old historical brick buildings.

Day two began in Boston Common and Boston Public Garden. We leisurely strolled through the park on a gorgeous sunny day, and we came upon this hill covered in American flags for Memorial Day. Lisa and I had fun snapping pictures—we joke that we end up with almost identical pictures when we travel together.

A very shy State Capitol building – trying to hide behind the tree.

Boston Common is the home of some very friendly squirrels.

Then we walked down Commonwealth Avenue Mall and through the neighborhood around Newbury St.

From there, we walked back through the Esplanade along the Charles River Basin, then down Charles St. and through the Beacon Hill neighborhood.

And, believe it or not, this was all before lunch.

It’s amazing how much you can see in Boston in a few hours of walking. As if this wasn’t enough for one day, after lunch we took the train out to Boston Public Library and had a look around. The library has a very grand courtyard in the middle.

Later that night, we met Tiffany and Luke at Anthony’s Pier 4 for dinner. It’s a scenic restaurant right on the water. Seafood, wine and friends are the best combination! We ended the night with a night cap (or two, or three) at Lucky’s Lounge.

Enjoying drinks while on vacation. We take this job very seriously.

These guys, not so much.

And thus ended our first full day in Boston. But, wait! There’s more!

The next morning Lisa’s fiance, Branden, flew in bright and early and we headed to the Sam Adams brewery, only to find that there was a long line for the tour. We didn’t have enough time to wait for it since Lisa and Branden needed to head to a wedding later that day. So we did the next best thing – we sat outside at nearby Ula Cafe and tried some specialty Sam Adams brews. Well, they did. The one in my hand was a prop—I still haven’t acquired the taste.

Then L & B were off to get ready for the wedding and Drew and I were off to spend the afternoon in Cambridge. We jumped off the train in Harvard Square and looked around for Herrell’s ice cream. I’d passed through Cambridge briefly for work about 4 years ago and my coworker took us to Herrell’s. Sadly, it is now closed; no wonder it took us forever to find it. Instead, we found a goodbye note in the window. So, we walked through the Harvard campus where they were just wrapping up that day’s graduation ceremonies (good timing to visit…).

The Harvard Coop bookstore had a great collection of hard to find books, so Drew picked up a bunch and we sat on the steps of the Harvard Library. I thought maybe I would soak up some of the smart vibes floating around the place.

After a break at John Harvard’s Brewhouse, we headed back to chill before our dinner at Troquet for our anniversary.

Oh. My. God. That was the best meal. And the dessert! Three types of sorbet. To die for.

Our final day in Boston was another gorgeous one—good thing, since we had tickets to see the Red Sox. We started the day at the USS Constitution in Boston Navy Yard.

We walked up to the Bunker Hill Monument, and then followed the Freedom Trail through Charlestown, across the bridge and back into the city where we hopped on the train to the game.

A Phillies fan at Fenway

After the Red Sox win, we went to dinner at Woodward Restaurant in the Ames hotel. It was really cool – they serve the entrees to share. So we got a variety and all tried a little. Then I realized: “Woah I haven’t tried Boston Creme Pie yet!!!” So we made an emergency stop at Cheers for dessert.

Great way to end a great trip; Boston is now one of my favorite cities. Can’t wait to go again. Drew would head back to the bookstore and I’d head back to Troquet to get me some more of that sorbet.

Luckily, I don’t have to wait another 6 months to see my sister. We have a once-in-a-lifetime girls trip to Napa in July with our mom where we’ll probably spend more time talking about wedding stuff than wine. 🙂

See all of my pictures from the trip on Flickr.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Twilight In Boston” by Jonathan Richman

the springtime is the season where everyone’s a friend

Fortunately for those living in northern IL, we had quite a lovely Easter weekend. It was warm enough to go for a jog outside – which is usually unexpected in early April. The hubby and I spent the weekend in Rockford visiting our mom’s and siblings. And of course, Ollie was there.

We belatedly celebrated our soon-to-be-brother-in-law’s birthday.

We also visited our friends Michelle and James and their new baby Ethan, born just a week before.

Mommy and Ethan

Daddy and Ethan

I don’t think Drew has held a newborn baby (maybe since his brother was born twenty some years ago.) He looks like a natural, no?

See the rest of my pictures from the weekend.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “Springtime Is The Season” by Of Montreal

together, forever, that’s how it should be

The 3rd of July marked two special occasions. First, my husband’s birthday. I took him to breakfast that morning and then we played tennis (and he let me beat him in one game.) Then we headed to Wheaton for our friends Stefanie and Adam’s wedding rehearsal.

I was her Bride’s Assistant. I was put in charge of corralling the ring bearer and flower girl and handing out all the boutonnieres and corsages. Plus I got to skip around and snap photos, which I would have done anyways. Except for the skipping part. Drew hates when I skip. (Inside joke…)

We rehearsed at the Klein Golf Club for a planned outdoor ceremony, weather permitting.

The bride and her bridesmaids

After working up an appetite, we went to Gino’s East for the rehearsal dinner.

The bride’s assistant and the bride

Well, the weather did not permit. It rained on her wedding day. But that’s good luck right? (Personally, I just think that’s something made up to make the bride feel better.) The morning of the wedding, they decided to move the ceremony inside the tent where the reception was set up. Most guests sat at their dinner tables, but the VIP’s sat in chairs on the dance floor. I think it turned out beautifully and I must say, the bride handled the change of plans superbly.

The wedding was a success. And I think their marriage will be too.

I can just tell these things.

Who needs fireworks on the 4th of July when you get to spend the evening watching sparks fly for two dear friends on their wedding day?

See the rest of my pictures from the rehearsal and wedding day.

*Blog post title is a lyric from the song “I Say A Little Prayer For You” by Dionne Warwick

maybe the sun will shine today

Last weekend I traveled down to Effingham for my friend Stefanie’s bridal shower. The shower was hosted by her soon-to-be mother-in-law and was mostly for Adam’s side of the family. My friend Michelle and I went since we missed her first shower up here in the ‘burbs. Her sister (and maid of honor) Jessica went as well. The four of us girls drove down together in a horrible storm that followed us the entire way. We got to the hotel at about 11pm after driving through rain and major lightning.

But the next morning was a clear spring day and the shower was lovely! Adam has a very large family, so there were just a few aunts and cousins and friends at the shower. Not sure where Adam and Stef are going to put all their gifts in their Chicago apartment. I’ve been in the same predicament – I’m still trying to consolidate boxes from my wedding two years ago.

Nothing fun to report from this Memorial Day weekend – I spent all weekend doing homework. So I’m actually pretty glad this weekend is wrapping up and I have a 4 day week that will hopefully go by quickly. Three more weeks of school folks! Plus, I’m looking forward to celebrating my 2-year wedding anniversary!

i got joy joy joy in my soul tonight

What a week! Two births in one week! First, my friend Nadine and her husband Ian welcomed their first baby boy, Eric Alexander Finn. He was born on 10/29 and weighed in at 7lbs 11oz and was 20 1/2 inches long. He is perfect! Sara, Stef and I visited with them after they arrived home from the hospital and took turns holding the little sleeping baby.

Eric Alexander

I heart babies

The Finn Family

The second birth of the week was the birth (or rebirth) of a new era of American pride and hope with the election of Barack Obama!!! It was an awe-inspiring and pioneering campaign to the White House, and undoubtedly one of the most exciting moments I’ve lived through. Although I didn’t brave the crowds down in Grant Park, I felt their impact through my TV. The most emotional moment of the night was right after they announced Obama the winner and they showed the crowd’s reaction. I’m just glad I played a part by supporting Obama and voting for him that day. It’s a day I will never forget!

"a change is gonna come" - photo courtesy of davidwatts1978 via flickr

"a change is gonna come" - photo courtesy of davidwatts1978 via flickr