Archive for the ‘weekend in chicago’ Tag
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
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.
“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.
It’s only 9 am out here in Chicagoland and I actually allowed myself to “sleep in” til 8 am this morning. Somehow being up for 1 hour, and really only ‘up’ for 30 minutes, I find myself stressed. It will all be fine when I walk outside, in the cold air, in an hour or so. But for now, I’m reminding myself to breathe and drink coffee from the Hakuna Matata mug Alisha sent me. You’re the best, Sis!
While this long weekend has granted me amazing opportunities- in the form of volunteering- I’ll admit that it’s been quite frantic. In the shower this morning, I (frantically) told myself- perhaps even outloud- that “You cannot do everything.” But I sure have tried this weekend, and succeeding for the most part. With the exception of this morning’s stressor, which is a work-related incident, I can say I’ve done fairly as I played the role of Super Volunteer, NFL Games Volunteer Coordinator, Child Life Extraordinaire, and, oh, Cat Sitter. (Although Phoebe, Sarah’s cat, may disagree as I never ended up staying as long as I planned, but she was fed on time- for the most part.)
However, I feel as though I’ve done a horrible job at performing other roles, including Friend, Daughter, and Sister. Other than a few texts, Facebook messages & “Happy Birthday” posts, and 2-fifteen minute phone calls with my mom, I’ve been lacking in the family and friend circuit. Looking at unanswered calls, texts, FB messages, and emails, I just feel like a bad friend to so many people. Thank God for Stef and our dates on Thursday and Saturday nights, which were definitely saving graces for me this weekend. Not only did she help me relax (a bit) and have fun, but she also helped me feel like I wasn’t completely absent in the Good Friend category. Thanks so much, Stef!
AND…I’ve been a non-existent working-outer…which is a MUST as soon as I have time!! All I want to do is run my tired legs off and do hours of yoga.
Okay, I feel somewhat better, which is the reason I took this time to put a post together. But the show– that is this weekend- must go on…and this girl needs to get ready to head down to Solider Field and promote at the Bears Game. Oh, and feed Phoebe before I catch the bus! Seriously, is this weekend over yet?
Anyways, before I head out to get ready, let me say a huge THANK YOU to you for letting me take this time to allow myself to write (my therapy) and breathe. And to my friends, some whom read this little blog of mine, I promise you I’m fine. Exhausted? Yes. But fine. I’m very much looking forward to walking through my apartment door tonight, ignoring the dirty pile of laundry in the entry way, and curling up in OU blanket and responding to some messages and emails. And maybe, if I’m not too tired, beginning to fill out some of those grad school and Child Life internships applications.
The post I wrote on Sunday, October 10th will explain the ideas behind the Unsent Love Letter Mix Tape series, and if it still doesn’t make sense to you, well then, at least it makes sense to me. The writer. The blogger. The girl behind the computer. Call me what you will but these are my letters. Love Letters. Some will be traditional love letters and some will be love letters of another sort. These are my love letters to those that I love…or once loved…or will one day love. Let me point out that my plan is not to send these letters, but to write them as though I was sending them.
Track 6 is written to Chicago. I’m not sure if I’ve ever written a love letter to Chicago nor if I ever will again, but I feel the need to express my love for this city after the fantastic 24-hours I had. Yes, I was drunk for most of them and have my friends to thank as well, but Chicago did serve a role in bringing uch pleasure to me and therefore, it deserves to be a part of the Unsent Love letter Mix Tape series. PS. No, I did not meet a boy this weekend either.
Can I be honest with you? I was really worried about this weekend. After feeling down all week and weighed-down with emptiness from the “reason why I moved to Chicago in the first place”, I was dreading the possibility of feeling sad all weekend long, especially with thoughts of Athens running around in my head. I was in need of some quality girl time, but with Stef out-of-town I wasn’t sure what other options I had.
Fortunately, life brought a little sunshine my way- literally too because the weather was wonderful- and I spent a large chunk of my weekend with Sarah and a bunch of other friends. So I guess in a way, Chicago, I’m thanking you for bringing Sarah and the others into my weekend & into my life. It really helps me like you a bit more.
Song of the Moment: Little Miss by Sugarland
Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be. ~Shel Silverstein
Beauty. Inspiration. Courage. Integrity. Love. These are concepts that one hopes to be composed of and/or surrounded by, and I was lucky enough to witness all of them in one morning today. This morning- which seems like days ago now as I write 16 hours after waking up- I began my trek to O’Hare Airport to partake in the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Illinois’ 25 Wishes in 25 Hours to celebrate the Foundation’s 25th Anniversary. (Applause welcomed and deserved.) Here is a video to showcase the remarkable work that the Illinois Chapter has accomplished this past year.
As soon as I heard about today’s events, I signed up. Sure this week was exhausting and the last thing I wanted to do was wake up at 3 am to venture to the airport, but this opportunity trumped any excuses that my tired mind & body pondered coming up with. Simply put, these kids & families are worth it!
At O’Hare Airport, we were welcomed by several airport and airline staff members as we were escorted through security (with our helium balloons) and headed towards to the gate to await the arrival of our first Wish Kid: Abigail (3 years old). The precious Abigail, her little sister (Olive), and her parents were headed to the Beaches Report in Turks & Caicos to visit the Sesame Street Caribbean Adventure, allowing her wish to play with Elmo on the beach to be granted. Lucky girl! The airline welcomed Abigail over the loudspeaker as the other passengers cheered her on as she headed to her First Class seat. Bon voyage, Abigail!
Our next Wish Kid was Giovanni (13 years old) who was off to explore Disney World with his 3 brothers and mother. Since we arrived at the gate early, we were able to bump the whole family up to First Class (!) and board them early for a chance to meet with the crew and pilots. Since Giovanni had never flown before, he was nervous and worried after hearing that his ears may pop- so Lauren gave him her pack of gum. Ciao, Giovanni!
Our last send-off didn’t go as smoothly as the others, but nonetheless we finally met Wish Kid, Niyah (4 years old) at the (right) gate to get her and her family on their way to HAWAII! Again the airlines was fantastic as they worked with us to announce her arrival, upgrade their tickets, give her family Pilot Wings and leis, and the opportunity to meet the pilots and see the cabin before take-off. Aloha, Niyah!
If you read by blog regularly and/or know me personally, you know how much I appreciate the volunteer work that I’m able to do with Make-A-Wish and the children’s hospital. I am inspired by the kids & families that I’m able to meet and devote my time to. I am reminded of how much beauty is in this world and how beautiful people can be. Today, I was reminded of how much beauty I am composed of too. Now if you really do know me, you know that I’ve probably never come out and said that, but today I will.
As I wore my volunteer tee-shirt and carried the balloons proudly through the airport (and on the train too), I was given the extra opportunity to represent the Foundation through many conversations with other travelers. Random people came up to us to commend us for the incredible work that we do. At first I felt guilty and found it necessary to explain that I am a volunteer for the Foundation; however, it finally hit me that I, too, deserve to hear these kind words. But instead of taking too much credit, I seized the opportunity to indulge them all with thoughts on my experience and the work that we’re able to do for these Wish Kids and their families…hopeful that I could inspire them to become a volunteer too!
Over and over again I heard from people, “I admire you for being able to do this. I could never do it.” And over and over again I said, “If you really want to, you can.” I didn’t have a speech because that’s not what this is to me. Instead I spoke from the heart, with hope that these folks would realize that if this cause is important to them, that they shouldn’t hold themselves back.
As a Make-A-Wish volunteer, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Being part of the Foundation- in whatever capacity you choose- will not only make a difference in the lives of the Wish Kids and their families, but it will also make a difference in your own life. Trust me. If you’ve ever given a second thought to volunteering with Make-A-Wish, do it right now. Not only will you be an inspiration in their lives, but they’ll be one in yours. I’ve learned many simple life lessons from my work with the Foundation and hospital: These kids inspire me to live life. They make me see the life really is beautiful, and that there are wonderful, giving people in this world.
I also admit, these kids make me realize that I am one of these people. These kids bring out the best in me, and actually, I think it’s more that they let me be ‘me’. I guess that’s a good segue into my last point. When we grow up, we tend to lose faith that our wishes can come true. Life’s obstacles and stresses change our child-like optimism into cynicism and we begin to see the glass half empty many more times than half full. But adults are only big kids, and therefore, wishes are still possible in the grown-up world…if you believe. We can find that hope and belief again, but sometimes it takes the magic and innocence of a child to help us ensure that once it’s found that it will never be lost again.
“While we try to teach children all about life, children teach us what life is all about.”
**If you are interested in supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation as a volunteer, internship, employee, and/or donor, you can visit the national site at www.wish.org to see if you’re region has a local chapter. Or ask me by commenting on this post or emailing me at Kristen.Medica@gmail.com. I’m happy to help!