#RoadTrip2014 Recap

Happy September! And Happy Labor Day! We have it off here and are enjoying a day of staying in, doing some work (work-work and housework) since the weather is crappy and the forecast is rain all day. We did manage to get a walk/jog in by the lake, before the rain, so there’s that.

We are back from our #RoadTrip2014. I thought I would post and share some of the adventures from our vacation time, while on the road, but it never happened. I did take my computer because I had some work to finish, mostly class prepping. But towards the end, my computer started acting up and I couldn’t use it for the last couple weeks. Anyhow, blogging wasn’t on my mind, I guess, because I bypassed it completely.

I’ve been thinking about blogging this week, but have been playing catch-up at work,  running errands, getting the condo in order, and getting all doctor appointments in before the trimester starts. So, I thought I’d share a recap of our summer trip first, and then in future posts, share what’s been circulating within my mind lately. Game? Good!

We left on July 31st, Mike’s birthday, and headed toward Louisville, Kentucky. There, we stayed with Mike’s dad and step-mom for a couple days. We had been to visit them before, a couple times actually, but this time we did some of the touristy stuff there is to do in Louisville, aside for the Derby, which we went to a few years ago.

This time we ate out a couple times and visited the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory. There, we saw The Babe and the Jeter! Take a look:

At Bonefish Grill

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At Momma’s Mustard Pickles and BBQ

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At the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory

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After a few days in Louisville, we loaded the boys back into the car and on the road we went again, this time to Atlanta, Georgia. There, we stayed at Mike’s friends’ place.  We spent time with them, walking the boys and exploring their very high-end dog parks. We also went out for dinner to Buca di Beppo, but unfortunately I forgot to take photos of that.

Here’s Charlie having fun with the water at The Heavenly Dog Park.

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Then it was back in the car and off to Miami! The boys were really good in the car, except for some bouts of panic from Charlie when it rained. They were especially happy in Miami at my parents’ place. I think it was because both families we stayed with on the road had dogs, and now in Miami they were the kings of the backyard, with no one to put them in their place. They loved it!

In Miami we did what all people do when they go to a warm place for vacation, we relaxed. We lounged by the pool, went to the beach, went on a boat ride in Bayside Bay, went to Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, went shopping to the awesome Miami malls (well, that was mostly me) and played golf to our hearts content (that was mostly Mike). Oh, and how could I forget, the main activity of the trip, reason why I gained 6 lbs, we ate, oh how well and how much we ate! We went to El Arepazo, Bahamas Breeze, El Parador, il Forno Ristorante, and The Fish House. We also did some home cooking and ordered takeout a couple times, because pizza and Chinese food are always well received by all.

Us at Hollywood Beach, we went there twice. Once we rented jet skies.

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Sophie practiced putting with us once, and once my dad and I went with Mike on one of his multiple golf runs.

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This is us at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens, a really lovely place, but if you go take water, the heat is something else!

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This is us at Bayside Bay, where my dad rented a boat for the day. He misses his Konsentida from Venezuela, so this was a real treat!

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The day was a success, the whole stay in Miami was wonderful. When at home we lounged by my parents’ beautiful pool and Sophie swam as much as she could, in the hopes that her dream of being a mermaid would come true. I think, in her mind, it did. Even Maxy misses the pool now.

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But our days in Miami came to an end, and on the road we went again. The boys were really good on the way back, even though I could tell they missed Miami and all its wonderful people. On our way back we stopped in Tallahassee for the night, and the next day we went through Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and drove around the University of Alabama’s campus, Mike’s alma mater. Unfortunately, I don’t have photos of the beautiful campus since I was told we would go back after lunch and roam around, and we never did (I’m looking at you, Mike!). After Alabama we drove through Memphis and stayed the night in a little town in northern Tennessee.

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We arrived last Wednesday night in Chicago and it received us with great cool, summery weather. This is Lake Michigan, in Loyola Beach, where I went for a jog Thursday morning. Pretty, right?

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So we are back home, back in the grind, getting ready for the beginning of the term which starts on the 10th. But the memories of the great #RoadTrip2014 are still lingering, and we still miss tons the people we left behind. Thank you all for such a great vacation!

Happy Birthday, Mike!!

Mike turns 48 today!

Happy Birthday Mike!!!!!

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We love you, honey. More than words can express. I hope you enjoy your day. It promises to be busy, but hopefully it will be fun too.

Love you… Love you tons!

Summer

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Summer time is always anniversary time in these parts. I wrote about it a few years ago here. It’s a time when I also have some down time to think about what I have accomplished, where I am, and where I want to be. I think because I’ve always been living under the “academic schedule”, summer is the time during my year when I get the breathing time to do some reflecting, and unavoidably, every year, it happens.

This summer, it’s been 4 years since I moved to Chicago from NY. Four years working at DePaul and working toward tenure. It’s been 3.5 years since Mike and I met and started our relationship, and now it’s been a month since we began living together. Parenthesis – I live with boys now, people!!!! – I just needed to get that off my chest, but I’ll come back to that later.

It’s been 3 years since I adopted Max, and it’s been about a month since he turned 6. Max is 6 years old! Charlie’s birthday is in February, so we don’t celebrate that in the summer. Old Charlie is a whopping 10 years old, can you believe?

But speaking of birthdays, Mike is having a birthday tomorrow!! I’m excited. I’m always excited about birthdays. And I’m prepared too, with gifts and cards in tow.

Tomorrow is also the beginning of our summer road trip vacation. We are heading out south tomorrow morning, and probably not getting back into Chicago until the last week of August.

So, enjoy while we are gone. We will be doing a whole lot of this while we are away, because the boys are coming with, and we all know how much they love their morning walks! I’ll keep in touch from the road. Cheers to summer!

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Our 4th of July weekend

Well, Happy 4th of July! I know, I’m late to the party, but I truly hope you all had a wonderful celebration of independence.

We had been wanting to go for a day at the beach, ever since it started getting warm. Well, at least I have been wanting to go; Mike is not much of a beach person. So on Friday, we planned to go to Loyola Beach (the closest Lake Michigan beach to us… it’s literally just a few blocks away, and it’s where we walk the dogs every other day) and spend some time in the sun.

Th weather was perfect. It had been raining earlier in the week, but on Friday it was around 70 degrees and sunny. Perfect! Not too hot, not too cold, just right!

This was our set up.

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The photos are deceiving, there were many more people there, but since we got there early (around 11am) we had premium sand real estate to choose from.

Later that morning, around noon, Meg and some of her friends joined us. I forgot to take photos, so I have no evidence of them, but they were there. And we had a great time.

On Saturday, our new couch was delivered. We had to disassemble the old sleeper couch, and carry it down to the basement of our building. I’m not sure we will end up actually keeping it there, or throwing it out, since we did do some damage to it while carrying it down the narrow staircase. Even taking out the back door to get it through was hardy enough space… it’s a big couch.

The new couch is slightly smaller. Or I should say, since it’s a sectional, it comes in pieces, which are easier to move around, carry, and fit through doors and staircases. Anyway, this is our new, very comfy, couch!

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And this is how it looks with the new cushions I went out and got on Sunday, while Mike and Meg played golf. If you are in the market for cushions, I got these at Pier 1, and they were all on sale.

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Everyone loves the new couch, the plush cushions, and the new soft throws. The dogs love it especially. Which is why we got some thick throws to cover the seats, thinking if the dogs stain those, we can always easily wash them, and also take them off when we have company.

Another pretty development of our weekend were these.

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They finally opened up and aren’t they the prettiest flowers you have ever seen. They are sitting on my nightstand, right next to my side of the bed, looking pretty and smelling delicious :)

So there you have it, some highlights of our 4th of July weekend. How was yours?

First Week

We survived our first week of co-habiting, or as Mike jokingly calls it “living in sin”. Well, we barely survived it. Things have happened this week. Lots. Of. Things.

Mike moved in on Saturday, dropping off his unwanted furniture anywhere they would take it: at his sister’s, at a church, and finally up in Wisconsin at his mom’s. He ended up getting back home, after retuning the truck, his keys, and picking up his car, around 10:30 pm, having started the day off at 8 am.

Sunday was an early rise to organize everything. The storage area was a mess; Mike had left everything out in the hall, in the hopes to save some time on Saturday. So we desperately needed to get all things settled in the storage room, and out of people’s way. We were at it for hours, but made it back home in time to watch the US game, while organizing kitchen stuff.

We now have SO. MUCH. STUFF.  I mean, literally, every surface has something on it, big or small. Every closet is filled, every drawer is packed, every cabinet has been used. If we ever get or buy anything else, we will have to get rid of something to be able to fit it in… or move to a bigger place… but let’s leave that up to the unforeseen future, shall we? For now, I really don’t want to think about moving again anytime soon.

Monday was the start of Mike’s first of two long commute weeks. He’s still working out in Channahon, until July 3rd. So the poor guy takes almost 2 hours to get there, and then similar time to drive back, every day. Not fun. But at least it’s not for long. But that first Monday, he came back home sneezing and in a haze. I gave him some Claritin and off to bed he went, only to wake up the next day with the flu. He had a full blown cold: runny nose, sneezes, headache, and a fever. He called in sick and spent all day in bed.

By Wednesday morning he was feeling better and went off to work. But by Wednesday night I was now starting to feel my throat itch in that not desirable way, and by the time Thursday rolled by I was sneezing like a pro and in a total haze. I had a packed agenda day on Thursday, with errands (how many times can a girl donate things to the Salvation Army? Apparently over a thousand!) and work meetings, so I headed out, but once I got back home around 8pm I was full blown sick. Thank you, Mike. We’re not sure where he got it from, but I sure do know where I did! (and, thank you for the flowers too, they are beautiful).

I had to cancel everything I had set for Friday and stayed in bed all day. Of course this was the only day of the week with no fútbol. Murphy, why do you always have to be right? But I slept and drank water, and took Advil and antihistamines, and went through boxes of tissues. Saturday looked pretty much like more of the same for me. I stayed in all day, changing from one set of PJs to the next, but not really getting too far from my bed. This time there was fútbol on TV, so that helped.

Mike was very industrious and spent some hours down in the storage unit labeling everything and reorganizing, to see if we could fit in some more lingering things that just couldn’t fit upstairs. While I rested and lounged around with the boys, who of course kept me company all through the duration of my cold. They are suckers for accompanied bed time.

On Sunday, I started feeling better. We had been invited for arepas brunch at some friends’, but had to canceled. I did not want to bring my germs and this nasty cold as a hostess gift to these guys. I was barely out of it, and knew how nasty it felt, and really didn’t want to give it to them. But I did feel better, and took advantage of that, so I went with the boys for a walk. It felt good to be out of the condo and to breathe clean air. It was nice to walk along the lake again. When we got back, I made breakfast at home. Mike was bummed we had missed out on arepas, so I made some for us to compensate.

We lounged around and then went out for lunch, some errand and to see Godzilla. Mike had been wanting to see it in the theater for ever, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t miss seeing it on the big screen. We came back and walked the boys again, and I was feeling much better. So much so, I decided to retire the Kleenex box to it’s original spot in the bathroom, and return leftover cough drops and Advil to the medicine cabinet.

I still have a cough, but I feel so much better. No fever in the last 24 hours or more, no runny nose, and no head cold. Just a cough, which I’m hoping will go away soon enough.

But… last night, it rained. No, it didn’t just rain, it thunderstormed. And we all know Charlie does not do well with those. At 3 am, we were all up. Trying to calm Charlie, and quiet Max. When it rains, Charlie turns into a wuss and Max into a bully. For some reason, Max can’t stand Charlie’s fear, and he lashed out at him, only making it worse. So you can just imagine how fun it is for us. Especially, at freaking-three in the morning!

So this morning when Mike got up to take the boys for a walk, I decided to stumble out of bed and help him get them ready. I figured we both had had a terrible night’s sleep, and he had to go into work, while I could go back to bed and sleep a little longer, before starting my day. Little did I know, this was not my hottest idea. As I held Charlie so Mike could put his harness on him (Charlie was still afraid of the rain at 6 am), Mike dropped the retractable leash on my foot, and it landed square on my right pinky toe. %^&*$#@!

It’s supposed to rain today, all day. I have a meeting close to my office, which I was planning to walk to, and now I’m not only limping, but it hurts if I wear enclosed shoes. My pinky toe is throbbing. Mike, dear, next time you drop something in my proximity, a heads up to move out of the way will be highly appreciated!

So yeah, first week? We survived. Barely. (cough, cough, limp, limp)

My book is out!

I heard from my publisher last week, and my book is out! Well, it is out in pre-sale; the hardcopy version is set to be available in July. The digital version is already available in Amazon, and you can find it here. If you are interested in ordering the hardcopy on pre-sale, the information is below.

 

Moving in

June is finally here! I have been waiting for June anxiously for several reasons. The first of which is summer. June is the beginning of the warmer weather around these parts, and even though I am not a fan of 80-90 degree weather, this winter was so brutal, I am very much looking forward to wearing dresses, sandals, and hanging out on the beach.

Another reason June is so awaited is because it is the end of the Spring term, and that means I usually have teaching-free time until September. So I can work and play on whatever I want, no distractions whatsoever.

But this year in particular, June is extra special because it is the month in which Mike and I move in together on a permanent basis. Yes, on June 21st, 3 short weeks from now, Mike will be moving in to live with me in the city. Bye-bye suburbia, hello metropolis! And hello cohabiting for the first time, at least for me.

Mike is divorced, so he has lived with someone before. But, I have never lived with anyone, and even though we have spent the past 3 years “living” together every weekend, there is something to be said about having everything you own combined with everything your significant other owns, in the same space.

I am excited to be starting a new chapter in our relationship, but also a little nervous as one tends to be when one does anything for the first time. Mike has slowly been bringing his things over and storing them in the storage unit downstairs, over these past weeks. Next weekend we are bringing over all of his plants (Mike has lots of plants), and the past weekend we bought a new sectional for the living room, as we are getting rid of both our old couches. So progress has been made, it won’t all happen on the 21st, we have been moving the moving-in pieces along already. Yet, it won’t feel official until it is. Like most things.

But as a starter we had the mailbox tag changed, from:

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To:

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Here we go. New beginnings, commence!

Friends in Chicago

My friends Andrea and Joan came to visit this weekend, with their little Greta, who is as cute as they come. They flew in from NYC late Friday night and were leaving for Indianapolis early Sunday morning, so we only had Saturday to spend together and do as much as possible.

We got a ton of talking and eating in, of course. But we also made it to Navy Pier and had deep dish pizza at Gino’s East.

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It was a great time spent with friends. Hopefully, we will get to spend some more time together next weekend, before they make their way back home.

Visits!

Look who came to visit this weekend:

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Greta Luna!!!

Summer already? What about Spring?

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, which traditionally is know as the weekend that launches the summer season in the US. Thus, technically summer begins right after next Monday. This means the beaches along the lakeside in Chicago will be open for business. Lifeguards will be back on duty and beach goers will be allowed to swim in the Lake’s waters (that is, if they want to risk hypothermia with those freezing temperatures). But I feel like we haven’t yet had true Spring. Do you feel the same?

Yes, I haven’t used my puff coat (my measure of when Winter truly ends) in over two weeks, there has been no need, and yes, the trees and flowers are blooming and there are buds everyone one looks, but it’s just been weird with all the cold, rain, and hail. I mean, it did snow last weekend in the suburbs.

I like Spring too much to have missed it completely this year. It seems like (as usual) we went from freezing Winter (the worse winter ever, for me, and the third worse winter ever in Chicago) to now sunny and hot Summer. It’s in the 60s so it’s not truly hot yet, but I can feel it, it’s coming, probably this weekend. And with the heat, boom! Summer is here and Spring? Well, Spring, never truly was.

My favorite thing about Spring are the flowers. The tulips that seem to spring out everywhere, as if they were weeds. The magnolia tress, with their beautiful shades of pink and white. And this year, Mike introduced me to Dogwoods. They are beautiful and seem to be everywhere in Rogers Park. I went a little camera happy on our walk the other day. But just take a look at the prettiness of these trees:

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