I listened to the song Until You Won Me Over by Trent Dobbs (which includes lyrics that also serve as the title of this post) over and over again yesterday. For some reason I found comfort in these words. They were not only soothing, but they were also a bit encouraging.
It’s no secret on my blog that I haven’t been feeling like myself lately. While the summer funk- or possible Quarterlife Crisis- has plagued me all summer, this whole messy feeling really started in the last couple of weeks. Whatever this is I just can’t shake it; and because of that, over time it’s becoming worse.
Yesterday I realized that while I’ve been opening up a bit on my blog and through a few emails, I’ve failed to do so with my friends. I’ve failed to let them be there for me. But yesterday I decided to let Libby in. Well, as much as I could. I let her know that I haven’t been feeling quite like myself lately and we divulged in a few reasons why. There’s still no real culprit(s) identified, which also means no solution found. However, one decision has been made: Sadness Begone. That, and I’m going to let my friends be there for me too.
My legs are sore; my throat is scratchy; and the dark circles underneath my eyes keep getting darker and darker. Just the price you pay for spending a weekend with your friends, including those named Champagne & Vodka. Might I add that it was a four-day weekend too. Oh, and lucky me woke up this Moan-day with horrible cramps and an early visit from her least favorite monthly guest.
After a weekend in Pittsburgh with my family, I arrived back in town last Monday evening to begin a week of hosting a bevy of guests. On Wednesday night my cousin, Ryan, and his boyfriend, JT graced me with their presence; and merely 24-hours later, my married friends, Jen and Matt, came up for a long weekend. Add some lovely Chicago friends into a mix and let the shenanigans roll! And roll they most certainly did.
Today, the day after the last of my guests headed back to Columbus, OH, I struggle to feel any perks from my first cup of coffee. I’ve either let the scratchy throat and painful cramps get the best of me, or I’m ridiculously exhausted. Truthfully it may be both, but the latter is definitely the case.
Getting ready for work took longer than expected: Nothing looked nor felt right. (Which means I’m coming home tonight to a bedroom floor covered with clothes. Lovely.) Somehow I found something to wear, but I can already imagine myself taking off these cute boots as soon as I sit at my desk with the day’s second cup of coffee.
Whether I’m tired or just PMSy, it can’t last too long. Maybe another day, or two, but that’s all. Somehow these busy last few weeks have also brought us to August 9th, which means school begins in less than 3 weeks!
As anxious as I’ve been about getting started, now that it’s so close I cannot help but question if I’m indeed ready for it all. Am I ready to trade in my champagne mornings for textbook reading sessions at Starbucks? Am I am to bypass those vodka nights for research papers? Can I sacrifice my spontaneous play dates with Max and the girls in order to dive into the role of Full- Time Employee AND Full-Time Student? Am I able to put my carefree single girl lifestyle on hold to follow my dreams- once and for all?
One of my favorite things about living in Chicago is that friends are always anxious to stop by and play for a weekend. This weekend I hosted four of my OU besties: Ashley, Mike, Libby, and Jay (pictured left to right). Note: They may be referred to as Addie, Mitch, Lana & Jordan- which became their (bar) identities to increase this weekend’s antics. As for me, I may have introduced myself as Kendall a half-dozen times (or more). Yes, ladies and gentlemen. These four, along with some of my other Chicago friends, certainly partook in some shenanigans this weekend. To put it best, they’ll all be back again (asap) if not moving here after a weekend that can only be described as A*MAY*ZING.
I had a blast with my friends this weekend and certainly sad to see them leave this morning. I’m so glad to be able to provide some good old-fashioned fun and more memories from the ones we’ve created since our college days in Athens.
Song of the Moment: Home by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros & Cover by Father and Adorable Daughter
For the last 7 1/2 years, I have been one of the luckiest girls in the world. Now I say ‘one of the…” because there are many of us who have been blessed to have Brandon as their friend. And on Saturday, June 25, 2011, Brandon made Stephanie the luckiest of all when he became her husband.
It’s nearly impossible for me to explain to you just how special Brandon is to me. I can tell you that he is truly (one of) my best friend (s); however, he is also a brother to me. He’s been my confidante; walking partner (around OU); drinking buddy; and, from the beginning of our friendship, he’s been the person I turn to when I don’t feel like being around anyone (else) yet don’t want to be alone. He’s my Brandon. And now he’s also Steph’s husband.
I cannot figure out if I’m happier for Brandon for finding a wonderful lady in Steph; or Steph for seeing my dear friend for how A*MAY*ZING he truly is.
As I rode back from Midway Airport early Tuesday morning, I turned on the Becca & Kenna playlist that my weekend guests made me only to find myself crying happy tears as Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift played. After spending a weekend with my 18-year old cousin, Becca, and her best friend, Kenna, I couldn’t help but wonder where the time went. When did my little cousin grow up? Is she really going to college in a few weeks? And how is she old enough to be talking about boys with me? As I pondered these questions, my mind when through a montage of memories from the previous weekend and how A*MAY*ZING it truly was.
For those of you who don’t personally know me, led me shed some light on the events leading up to my guests’ arrival. Last December, my cousin, Becca, traveled from Atlanta to perform with her high school band. Spending limited time with Becca due to her travel schedule, I invited her back to Chicago (since she expressed her love for it!) during the summer after graduation/before college began. She willingly accepted and we decided to extend the invitation to her best friend, Kenna, too.
Last Saturday morning, I woke up early to venture down to Midway Airport to pick up the college girls! To be honest, I had no idea what the weekend would entail but so excited to find out!
Somewhere on the train between Midway and our stop we decided to conduct a photo scavenger hunt over the course of the next three days. The first photo taken was of the girls in front of the first Starbucks that their path crossed. (Note: We ended up passing/seeing 15 and taking a photo at each.) We eventually headed back to my apartment to change and get ready for lunch with our other cousin, Kelly, (who was also in town) and her friends. After some pizza at Giardano’s and more photos, we embarked on some shopping on Michigan Avenue and a stop at Garrett’s for popcorn. Shortly after we decided to call it an early night- since these ladies were up at 4 am ET!!- and headed home to watch a movie.
Sleeping in on Sunday morning, we began our day perfectly with Panera bagels and Starbucks coffee before venturing around the neighborhood towards a few destinations. Just like the previous day, we had no set plans; however, the girls were really interested in finding the production company of (their crush), Glee’s Darren Criss. Unfortunately they were (apparently) only in Chicago temporarily, but that didn’t stop us from taking photos in front of their one-time theater, as well as The Gap, which all Gleeks know as the place of Blaine’s serenation. And since we were in the area, we headed over to Wrigley Field before taking a trip to Navy Pier. Before we knew it, we were hungry again and I knew just the place to take my guests: Wilde’s! After a hearty meal at my favorite neighborhood bar/restaurant, we headed back to lounge around in our pjs and rest up for another day around town.
Following another breakfast of bagels & caffeine, the girls and I jumped on the train to visit two of my favorites: Michelle & Max! After playing hard-to-get for a little while, the world’s most adorable toddler finally came around and enjoyed playing with his new girlfriends. And boy did they love him!! As Max opting for play time instead of nap time- who can blame him?- we headed off to Millenium Park to show the girls “The Bean”. And while he was a little intimidated by it a few weeks ago, Max as entertained as any other tourist. I think it’s safe to say that the girls have fun but mostly enjoyed being in the company of this little heart-throb. (Honestly, it’s impossible not to fall in love with him. Surrender now.) Lucky for us, our time with Max wasn’t over because the wonderful Michelle invited the girls & me over for dinner. In my opinion it was the perfect end to the weekend. There was just something so special about watching them play peek-a-boo with Max. Especially Becca. Having known her since she was a toddler and now watching her with another who is like family to me, I just had such an indescribable feeling come over me.
So this now takes us to the ride to the airport on Tuesday morning. Thinking about last weekend makes me realize how simple life used to be when we were kids- even teenagers. When did life get so complicated? While I am thrilled for Becca & Kenna to begin the next chapter of their lives in college, I am also filled with reservations because I don’t want them to grow up and lose the innocence that I witnessed within them. I want them to avoid all of life’s complications and cherish the little things. I want them to live simply and simply live. I want them to remain young at heart instead of cold from the harsh realities. I want so much for them, but above all things I really just want them to be happy. This past week I saw happiness shine through them and their friendship; and based on the lessons I’ve learned, that is something that should always be cherished.
*This post is dedicated to Becca & Kenna. May you both always know that you have a second home in Chicago as well as a cousin/ friend forever.
Yep, still not feeling well. What is this? And when will to finally go away??? We’re hoping to rule out mono (pingers crossed), and trying treat it with lots of early bedtimes and gallons of OJ. Honestly, I’m starting to believe that this really is a case of being run-down (and maybe a minor sinus infection).
Over lunch with a colleague a few weeks ago I mentioned that I’ve been having a difficult time keeping dates & plans straight. Sometimes I write the wrong month, and today the wrong year, but who doesn’t do that? On Saturday night I confessed to Michelle that I’ve been a horrible friend lately, stressing out a bit over the with a list of missed calls & emails that continue to pile up. I just don’t have the energy to even know where to start. So, I’m going to rest and breathe. I’m going to breathe a lot. I’m going to rest up & take lots of deep breaths in order get back on my feet.
See, here’s the other thing: When I’m exhausted- physically, mentally, and emotionally- I start to stress. The negative thoughts start filling my mind. I use to not know how to make them stop and therefore, I let myself be exhausted & stressed out. But not anymore. Now I know that in addition to hot tea & OJ, I need to rest up & takes lots of deep breaths. I know that it’s okay not to be okay all the time, but I also know what to do to feel better.
Two other things that I always prescribe myself in times like these are Good Friends and Kid Therapy. Lucky me, I find both with one family: I love The Elfvins so much! After a date night with Max on Saturday, I accepted Michelle & Bayard’s invitation to stay over and enjoy brunch with them the next day. As I just told Michelle on the phone, it was the perfect morning. Words cannot express what it means to me that I’m welcomed into their family. Sunday morning was the best I’ve felt in a week; and while the food was great, I know that it was because of their company. So again, my friends, thank you! You definitely deserve an A*MAY*ZING.
“Oh, and when you figure out, Love is all that matters after all. It sure makes everything else, seem so small.”
Carrie Underwood sang these words (to me) and captured my attention today as I rode the bus this morning on my way to our new work office (finally) in downtown Chicago. I thought of Max. I missed Max. But I am so glad that his parents are back in town now because we both missed them soooooo much!!
Actually that’s a perfect segue into what I want to say first. Max’s parents, my dear friends, Michelle & Bayard, truly deserve an A*MAY*ZING. Max is the well-mannered, kind-hearted, adventure-seeking, lovable little boy because of his parents have done such a remarkable job of raising him. I’ve told them both this and will continue to do so, and my hope is that they really do believe me. I feel blessed to have all three of them in my life and so grateful that Michelle & Bayard trusted me enough to look after Max this weekend. They are most certainly family to me, now more than ever. Seriously, Michelle & Bayard, and little Max too, thank you for welcoming me into your family! Love you all!
Now, let me officially declare my love for little Max. While this weekend was a rarity for the Single Girl in the City (aka Yours Truly), I worry that words will not accurately express how special this weekend was for me. So please be aware that as I type this post, I have a huge smile on my face and a heart filled with gratitude for this experience.
Yesterday, on my final morning with Max, I called my mom and the first words out of my mouth were, “Okay, so you may very well get those grandchildren you’ve always hoped for.” While all my friends (especially those with kids) joke that this was ‘the best form of birth control’, I must admit that it’s only temporary as I realize that I’m just not ready…yet. For now I truly believe that my place is to continue my volunteer work and be in my friends’ kids lives. Who the heck knows what my future holds, but for the first time in my life I really do believe that (my own) children could be a part of it.
This weekend with Max really was incredible, filled with smiles, laughs, hugs & kisses, and lots of running around. I loved every moment of it! This was certainly one of those precious times in life when one finds himself/herself perfectly content with where he/she is. I felt like I was where I needed to be and, honestly, where I wanted to be too. While we had our share of fun these last few days, my favorite moments with Max were when he let out that cry every morning that translated into “Kristen, I’m awake. Come get me. It’s time to play (and eat) again!” And play we most certainly did. With the help of Max’s other girlfriends- Sadie, Stef, Dina, and Lonni- we found ourselves playing A LOT this weekend.
We kept things simple on Friday, staying in other than a quick trip over to see Dina at the MAW staff for some ball playing. Now staying in with Max means that we played a lot of soccer, ventured around many condo floors, watched many episodes of Mickey’s Clubhouse, and ate (literally) tons of food. Now if that’s not the perfect Friday date, then I don’t know what is?
However, Saturday was a completely different story as Max and I found ourselves venturing off to the suburbs to volunteer for Make-A-Wish with Dina and our new friend (another girlfriend of Max), Lonni. Yes, Max was the Make-A-Wish mascot and hands-down the best looking, most irresistible boy there!! Seriously, how adorable does he look in this tee-shirt?! And while he certainly did his fair share of running around, I have to say that Max behaved himself quite nicely. (Note: He is NOT drinking from that Coca Cola bottle in the photo. He was just playing with it.)
I have to take the time here to thank Dina & Lonni for playing with us on Saturday. Max was sooooo happy to flirt with 🙂 and I am so appreciative for their kindness in entertaining my little boo.
After a playdate on Saturday afternoon for Max with his girlfriend, Sadie, and my own lady date with Lonni and Dina, I headed back to prepare of our slumber party with Stef. Max was so happy to see his other girlfriend, Stef, and even welcomed her by showing off his Mickey Mouse balloon. When the exhausted little man went to bed, Stef and I continued our catch-up session with girl talk and a mini-Keeping Up with The Kardashians marathon(because we can).
Sunday finally came and we were ready to take Max out on a special date: To Shedd Aquarium. Stef & I were so excited to take him and enjoy quality time with our little boo in one of the best places in Chicago. Waiting in line outside worried me a bit but Max found it as a(nother) opportunity to play, forcing me to chase him around in circles. (He’s a man of routine.)
We finally made our way into the aquarium and Max began enjoyed all of the fishies and sea creatures. We roamed around exploring the different sections, finally making our way to the sea otters and dolphin areas. (Note: I could sit by that dolphin tank all day writing, and one day plan to. It’s so peaceful.)
Finally we found the penguins (!) and Max LOVED playing in the little play area- riding the slide and climbing through the tunnel. Although, he sadly wouldn’t humor me by wearing the penguin outfit. (Michelle, I tried just for you!) Upon making our way upstairs for the dolphin show, Max got to ride in an elevator (Note: He loves elevators!) with a penguin!
Max enjoyed the dolphin show- and climbing up and down the 2-3 stairs in the aisle- but he was definitely getting tired. Yep, Nap Time! Max passed out in the stroller as we trekked back home for a quiet evening in…before Dad got home! Max and I enjoyed our final date night (at least for now) by simultaneously watching Mickey Mouse (on my laptop) and The Oscars (TV). He loved clapping along with the audience (!), but was not as happy when his bedtime rolled around. Neither was I to lose my cuddle buddy; however, I got a surprise at 4 am when Max woke up. I know he just wanted to make the best of our remaining time together. Right, Max? I cuddled with my boo as he watched Mickey on my laptop and I did my best to stay awake. Fortunately, Bayard (Max’s dad) got home late that night and came to collect his little cub after hearing us around 6 am. (Thanks again, Bayard. I love your son tons but that extra sleep was certainly needed.)
Monday, Monday. I made the Best. Decision. Ever. to take the day off and spend it with Max. After having morning playdate with his dad, Max and I got ready to spend the day with our friend, Sadie. The Wonderful Sadie who gave me a few hours of freedom to get myself showered and out of the sweats and run a few errands. I missed Max but it was nice to remind myself of the actual Single Girl in Chicago lifestyle that I lead.
After his nap, Sadie & I gathered up our boyfriend to meet Stef for a trip to… The Disney Store!! We all had so much fun, but not as much as Max. He literally ran around for an hour grabbing every stuffed Disney characters and bouncing ball within his reach. He couldn’t have been any cuter, and truthfully, he was very well-behaved as a 1.5 year old could be in his version of a candy store.
Eventually we had to burst Max’s bubble and head back home to prepare for the return of his parents. I was so excited for this family’s reunion, as I know his parents missed him as much as he missed them. This is truly a beautiful family- inside & out- and I am honored to know them.
Between you and me, everything is different now: From the moment my alarm goes off in the morning to the second I finally fall asleep at night. Max changed me. He opened my eyes to a new life in this big, bustling, windy city. He’s calmed my world down; helped me focus more on the little things; and encouraged me to take more time for myself. He has also inspired me to Be the Best Version of Myself that I Can Be, so that if I do become a mother (one day far, far away) that I Will Be Ready. And until that fate, if it does happen, then I’ll play the roles that God’s granted upon me: Daughter, Sister, Relative, Friend, Volunteer, Leader, Max’s Girlfriend (lol), and Supporter to All of the Kids & Families I find myself working with.
This post is dedicated to The Elfvin Family: Thank you, Max, Michelle & Bayard for this unbelievable experience and letting me be a part of your lives.