Tuesday, August 20, 2013

In Which We Get Away



When you are the parents of 5 kids under the age of 8, getting away for a week-long vacation alone with your spouse is usually next to impossible...but that's exactly what we did!  My amazing in-laws took the kids for a whole week while Seth and I spent a week in California attending the wedding of our dear friend, Ali, in Newport Beach and visiting my old stomping grounds in Santa Barbara.  Here is our week in pictures: 

First, we got on a plane, which meant I got to read a book the whole time. Yowza Yowza! 



Once we got to Newport we were able to spend time with the Brinkerhoff family before the wedding. I will always treasure that time, as it was the last time I got to see Jan and tell her how much I loved her.

Captain Malley steering in style
 
Jan rocking her fedora on the boat ride
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast at a little bistro--omlettes, croissants, and hibiscus lemonade. It was divine. Then we walked around Fashion Island in Newport for a few hours. 
The Jonathan Adler store kind of blew my mind. A total visual feast.  

That evening we had a wonderful time at the rehearsal dinner with the Stiles and Brinkerhoff families. The gorgeous park setting matched the feelings we had seeing Ali and Garrett so happy and in love. Is there any better feeling than seeing the people you love happy? Nope. 
I'm a total sucker for cute packaging.



This is my friend, Chelsee and her ridiculously cute baby, Harper. It was so fun to see her again after so many years. Our husbands had never met, but totally hit it off, too, which is always a bonus. The five of us had a great time chatting over cupcakes, and wishing we got to see each other more often. Hopefully we convinced them to come to Chicago for a visit!

When you hear the word Macaron, do you just think of that little pile of coconutty stuff? Or perhaps think I just left out an "o"?  Or do you think of the life-changingly delicious French cookie that is lightly crisp on the outside, yet chewy and tender on the inside filled with amazing flavors like violet cassis, lemon curd, pistachio and Earl Grey Tea?  You know, the ones that cost more than you've ever spent on a cookie in your life, but once you've had one it seems perfectly reasonable to spend 25 dollars on a small assortment?  Yeah, those are the ones.  I just took a Macaron making class with Chanel this week, and it is my new mission in life to perfect this technique (it ain't easy) so I can stop daydreaming about the ones I had in California!

Finally it was wedding day! Ali was stunning, everyone at the ceremony was crying like babies, and we felt honored to be there.
Their reception was just like Ali--classy, stylish, thoughtful and welcoming.

Seth asked why I was taking a picture of the silverware.  Duh! Look how cool those are! World's longest spoon! It was like a work of art. Just one of many touches that were super cool.

Ali hand-wrote a thoughtful note to every single person who came. Amazing.

Once the wedding festivities were over, Seth and I drove up the coast to Santa Barbara to visit my hometown and get together with old friends.  It's been almost 20 years since I graduated from high school! (no seriously...TWENTY YEARS).  I haven't seen these girls in ages and I honestly didn't know if we'd still be friends.  I know how much I've changed since high school, and I know they have too, so I naturally thought, "If I met them now, would be still be friends?" It was so much fun to realize that the answer is YES! I really love these girls, and reconnecting with them was a total gift. Seeing us all grown up and living our lives was really special.



I hadn't been home in almost 8 years, and a lot had happened in that time.  My family had gone through a really hard time, the house I grew up in was sold, and all my family had moved away.  For a long time, I didn't want to go home because it just felt so sad. I thought that if I went back the bitter would far outweigh the sweet, and yet I was so pleasantly surprised to discover that that wasn't the case.  It was just sweet.  The foggy mornings, the sights, the smells, the people....it all still felt like home, and I think it always will. 

Our days in Santa Barbara mostly consisted of getting together with old friends, eating good food, and enjoying the slow pace of having no obligations! One of the friends we were lucky enough to spend time with was Jackie.  Seth and Jackie both went to the Air Force Academy, and were both stationed at Dover AFB. Now she lives in California and is married to an amazing guy named Ryan.  It seems to be a common theme of this trip--but seeing people you care about happy in their life is one of the greatest feelings.  We had so much fun reminiscing and catching up.  If you ever have the opportunity to meet Jackie Space--beg her to tell you the cheez whiz story.  It will have you laughing until you cry, and you will find yourself giggling about it for the rest of your life. 
The top left picture was taken downtown, randomly sitting outside a store on a chair. I don't know what that store sold, because there was no way I was going in a store whose mascot was that creepy clown lady.  The top right picture is how to get around Santa Barbara in style!  Bottom left is the guest house of my dear friend, Peggy, where we stayed. And finally--bottom right is the obligatory In-N-Out picture one must take.  I know everyone has their opinions about In-N-Out, but for me it's nostalgic deliciousness. 


 Here's the thing that kills me about all the pictures I took: I stayed at Peggy's house for 4 days and somehow managed NOT to get a picture with her.  Or of her. Or near her! So this picture will have to suffice, since I took it while at the beach with her.  Spending time with Peggy was amazing and filled my heart up to bursting.  Peggy was my Young Women's leader when I was a rotten teenager, and her love and kindness towards me was priceless.  She always liked me, even when I was generally unlikeable. She was the ultimate example to me of what it meant to be a strong, powerful, feminine, gospel-centered woman, and I have kept that image in my mind all these years. I adore her.  We stayed up until the wee hours a few nights in a row, talking and laughing and crying. I can't wait until next time. Coming home to our sweet kids made leaving paradise a little easier, and getting a glimpse of the Chicago skyline as we flew in made me realize that I'm lucky enough to have two places that I'm proud to call home.





Friday, August 9, 2013

In Which We Run!

I need to start posting about all the fun we've had this summer, lest my children don't have documentation proving they are having the best childhood ever.  I will start with the Color Run! Earlier this summer, we "ran" the world's happiest 5K in downtown Chicago and had an absolute blast.  The word "run" is really used as more of a mosey in this case.  We overheard one lady, who was clearly in-it-to-win-it,  lamenting to her friend that "No one in this race is in any kind of hurry!"  Yup. My kind of race. If have a chance to do this run, you totally should.  We had all 5 kids in tow, and they did fantastic.

A Glorious Day in Chi-town.  Even waiting for the race to start was a big party.  Music, T-shirt cannons, free frisbees, bracelets, sunglasses, and lots of fun people. I promise you've never seen this many happy people at 7:30 am.

The Twinkies wanted a better view, so Seth (clearly in training for the World's Strongest Man competition) just threw them up on his shoulders. I seem to take a lot of pictures of Seth lifting very heavy things--like our children.  I make no apologies.

Oliver was far too fascinated with his own hands to look up for this picture. But you get the idea. Stuff got dirty. Awesome!



If you follow me on instagram, you've already seen these pictures. But since my mom doesn't even know what Instagram is, this is for her.  I hope my kids don't always have a fondness for face tattoos like they do now. Please bless they never pull a Mike Tyson on me.
Chanel makes everything funner.

The guy in front of me obviously took the brunt of that purple dye.

We made it!

Right at the end of the race Bennett's tooth fell out! He was pretty stoked to have a green tooth--not something generally encouraged in the dental industry.

After the race we headed over to Millenium Park to play in the Crown Fountain.


The front of the fountains (there are two huge ones facing each other) have pictures of different people's faces on them, that make different facial expressions.  Every few minutes the face spits out a huge blast of water from the mouth.   




Seth and the kids waiting for the mouth to shoot out the water....


the mouth water cannon. Both creepy and super cool.

The lesson learned from all this is:  My family is awesome, Chicago is awesome, 
The Color Run is awesome.  The end!