Sunday, February 10, 2013

Marriage Mittens

I can safely say that as of last Friday, February 1, 2013, I have completed one of my goals for 2013.

No, it wasn’t completing a marathon.. we got married!

First, let me say this. Making the decision to get married without our families being present was not one we came to lightly. We tried to figure out all kinds of crazy plans – flying everyone to SF, flying and training everyone to Chicago – Skype, FaceTime, etc. There was just no way that we were going to be able to get both of our families in the same place until this summer at the earliest, so we came to a decision. If it couldn’t be everyone, than it would have to be just us.

I was really apprehensive about not sharing our special day with our families. I always invisioned that on my wedding day I would be surrounded by my family and my soon-to-be-husband’s family. Getting fussed over. Too much champagne. Not enough food. CAKE. Flowers. Tears. Congratulations. The works.

However what we had was something that was just as special and although our families were not here in person, they were present all day.

Our day started off with sunshine. The first day the sun had been out all week, following a crazy week of 60 degree weather in January with thunderstorms, torrential downpours, flash flooding, and then, not more than 24 hours later – snow. The first measurable snow fall in over a year. And then, on February 1, sunshine. Which in the winter means one thing. FREEZING COLD DAY. That’s right. We may have had the sun, but we didn’t break double digit degrees until the mid-afternoon.

We picked up our flowers from the florist that Jason had found the day before. Jason’s mom was wonderful and took care of our flowers for us. A beautiful bouquet for me and a nice boutineer for Jason.  We decided to go with white and yellow (with green hints!) flowers to match the yellow tie that Jason was going to wear. It was nice to have a very simple pop of color that was so bright and cheery this far into the winter. After a strict warning from the florist to “not leave the flowers in the car because they would freeze”, we were on our way downtown so Jason could drop me off for my hair appointment. The beautification was to begin.

In San Francisco blow dry salons are extremely popular, but has yet to catch on here in Chicago in the same magnitude. So, when I got to Blow by Blow in the Gold Coast, I was the only person in the salon, which meant 100% attention. I had a blast getting my hair washed and styled, drinking a mimosa to calm the slowly rising nervousness I was beginning to feel.

When I was done, I pulled out my wallet to pay but was immediately told that I was all set. In shock, I asked what she meant that I was all set. She told me “an angel called and took care of paying for you last night”. Of course, I began to cry. It was hard enough having to get ready alone for my big day, but to know that someone cared so much and had taken care of paying for me really overwhelmed me. Of course, being the only person in the salon, and balling in front of strangers, they had no idea what to do but hand me a paper towel to wipe my eyes and laugh with me that it was probably better that they did my hair and not my makeup, because I would’ve been a hot mess.

Around the corner I went to Bloomingdales to visit the girls at the MAC counter to get my makeup done. After Whitney’s wedding, I decided that for my own I should go with something a little more “natural” than my vintage bombshell hair/makeup. I loved how I looked on her wedding day, but thought I should look a little bit more like me for my own.

The girl at MAC did a fantasic job. I felt gorgeous when I left.

I ran into The Drake basically across the street to check in, as it was getting close to when we needed to meet the photographer at City Hall and closer to getting married! After I checked in I went to meet Jason at the parking garage so we could carry everything in for our overnight stay and I could put on my dress (finally!).

When we got up to our room which had a beautiful lake front view, surprise #2 happened. The mail had been delivered before Jason came to meet me, and being on his way out he brought the mail with him. Greeting cards. So many of them. From addresses I didn’t automatically recognize.

I opened one and immediately began to cry again. Cards from people from home. Family and friends who wanted to wish us good luck and best wishes for our wedding day. Who although they couldn’t be with us in person wanted to let us know how much they loved us and were so excited for us. I had to put the cards down. I didn’t want to ruin my makeup before the photos!

Before I knew it, we were in a cab and on our way to get married! The Marriage Court at City Hall in Chicago re-opens at 2PM, so we planned to meet our photographer Nicole at 1:30 to get some quick photos at City Hall before the ceremony happened. We tried to brave the cold, and make it look like it was a warm, sunny day in Chicago. Then we headed inside to get in line and be married!

There were four couples ahead of us, which made for interesting people watching. The people who choose to get married in the Marriage Court are all across the board. All types of people. All walks of life. People like Jason and I who were dressed up and had a photographer, people who were in jeans, people who brought lots of witnesses and people who brought their families.

When you get into the marriage court, it seems slightly like a doctor’s office. The clerk sits behind a sliding glass window. You walk in, hand her your license and the $10 payment for the ceremony. The people who were in front of us didn’t have cash (like all city government agencies – cash or check ONLY), so in the spirit of love and excitement, I paid it forward (literally). And then we went and sat down in the waiting room for our names to be called.

After what felt like an eternity, it was finally our turn! Off we went into the back room where we had a very quick, but emotional ceremony. Then we were MARRIED!

Since it was still about 10 degrees outside, we started with taking photos inside Chicago’s City Hall, which is beautiful. For those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing a City Hall wedding either for yourself or for a loved one, I will say this. It is a very surreal experience where you are surrounded by strangers, but strangers wishing you the best of luck and offering their congratulations.

We walked through the underground pedestrian walkway (thank god, as I mentioned it was freezing!) to the Chicago Cultural Center to take photos there, before braving the cold again to walk down North Michigan Avenue back towards The Drake.

I won’t spoil all the photo surprises, but we had a fun time taking them! Into a cab we went to start regaining feeling in our fingers and toes. At this point we realized my flowers had started to freeze and die. No wonder the florist gave us such a stern warning! I am glad they stayed alive through the wedding and photos.

We had a drink and wandered around The Drake with Nicole, taking more photos around the amazing lobby. Then we were left to our own devices! First up, a bottle of champagne from the hotel. Since our dinner reservations weren’t until 8:45pm, we found a wine bar around the corner from the hotel for a nice glass of wine and some cheese to tide us over until our celebration dinner.

I had made dinner reservations for us at Café Spiaggia, which is the more down-to-earth and casual off-shoot of Spiaggia, a fabulous Italian restaurant on North Michigan Ave. I wanted to pick a place that Jason and I could go back to year after year if we wanted to, to celebrate our special day. Additionally, I wanted to remember the amazing trip to Italy we took this fall, which is also where we got engaged. So, at 8:45 we were seated at our table in the window overlooking Michigan Ave. where it had now began to snow.

Dinner started with a glasses of champagne and congratulations from our waiter. We ordered a few appetizers, entrees and an amazing bottle of wine from one of the Italian regions we visited while we were there. Then, when the check came – surprise #3 of the day. Instead of a bill, there was a note – our families had called ahead and arranged to take care of our dinner for us. Another amazing surprise that we were not expecting but made us feel loved from the other side of the country.

We made our way back on a snowy walk (thankfully it was a one-block walk) to the hotel, and were greeted by another bottle of champagne, this one from one of Jason’s good friend from Michigan. (Thanks again lady! What a beautiful surprise!)

We had such an amazing day – full of love, surprises, sun, snow, champagne and delicious food! We both missed our families and friends, but are looking forward to celebrating with everyone later this year.

It’s been a week now since we had our special day. I can’t wait to see the photographs that Nicole captured! I am sure there are some really beautiful ones that I can’t wait to share! 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Just Some Quick Updates

First,  a few things:

1. Obviously wanting to stay more consistent with my blogging hasn't happened... yet.
2. WE GOT MARRIED - which in a related note to number 1, I will post about our wedding day in the next week or so, before I forget too much of how our day was.
3. Registration for the Chicago Marathon opens in 16 days. I am slightly frightened about what I am signing myself up for, but at the same time very ready for the next challenge!

We got our first major snowfall last week. Followed by the most random 60 degree day with thunder and lighting and flash flooding of the alleys and sidewalks, then back to freezing weather and snow 24 hours later. It is beyond me how I haven't gotten sick yet.

Work has kept me super busy. I am loving working for a new company, it's just strange being a new person at a job. I haven't been the new person for almost 7 years. I feel like I still have a million things to learn and at least half as many new processes to conquer!

That's it for now. It's late and I should be heading off to bed.

Can't wait to share our wedding day story with you!

Til next time!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

13 for 2013

A new year. A time for continued new beginnings! Life has been so crazy since the beginning of December. I can’t believe today is already January 1, 2013. Besides Christmas, yesterday was my first day off from both jobs since I started working at Hillshire on December 4. I enjoyed getting to sleep in and spending the last day of the year with Jason. I feel like we haven’t gotten to see much of each other lately, as I feel I am always coming and going, but hopefully that will change soon!

For 2013, instead of resolutions I feel like I never keep, I am choosing to set 13 Goals for myself – 365 days to conquer fears, overcome obstacles, push myself outside of my comfort zone and remember the feeling of accomplishment. I choose to do this instead of resolutions, as I feel like I make very vague resolutions which makes it hard to accomplish them. So here we are, without further ado:

  1. Train for and complete the Chicago Marathon in October – my first marathon!
  2. Train for and complete Steelhead 70.3 in August – my first half-ironman race!
  3. Try one new restaurant in Chicago a month.
  4. Visit my family and friends in San Francisco four times this year.
  5. Be more consistent with updating my blog.
  6. Although this may conflict slightly with number 5, be more present while at home with Jason, putting down my phone and putting my computer away – there is nothing happening online that is  THAT important.
  7. Volunteer at least once a month.
  8. Cook dinner for Jason at least once a week, instead of letting him handle all of the cooking. It’s time to finally learn and master some dishes!
  9. Give hot yoga or Bikrim yoga more of a chance.  
  10. Get financially healthy – set a budget and stick to it!
  12. Take a trip somewhere with my sister. Just the two of us.
  13. Re-establishing routines to help me continue on the path to being my best self which came from taking care of myself both through healthy eating and making sure I sweat at least once a day.

And there you have it.

Happy New Year! What are you going to do this year to challenge yourself and change your life? 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thankful... A Couple Days Late

Life has certainly been a whirlwind since we left San Francisco almost a month ago. It feels like time has gone by too quickly as we attempt to settle in and make Chicago our home. I couldn't believe how rapidly Thanksgiving approached and it definitely caught me off guard. I did however, want to take a moment to reflect on my life since last Thanksgiving and remember how blessed I am with all the things I have in my life. 

First and foremost, I am thankful for my supportive family. Both my family that I left in San Francisco, but also the family I have gained through Jason. Without their love and support, opinions, welcoming arms and open minds, our decision to relocate to a new part of the country would have been much harder than it already was. I am thankful to be welcomed into a family as much as I have been here in the Midwest. 

Moving away from my family was, and will always be, the piece I miss the most about San Francisco. My goal is to get them all to move out east, one by one, until everyone is here. I am very doubtful that this will happen, but maybe I can one-day convince my parents with the lure of grandchildren and my brothers and sister with the lure of cousins... A girl can dream right? PS. Whitney - houses are WAY more affordable out here. The one across the street from us is for sale. Just saying...

Not to be forgotten, I am thankful for my friends who have not stopped letting me forget what good friends they are. To you all - sometimes your texts, although random, come at the perfect time, when I need a laugh or just simply a smile. You are another reason why this move has been so hard. After we get my family to move out to Chicago, you are my next focus. You have been warned.

I am thankful for Jason, who has been an amazing partner since day 1. I could not ask for a more supportive, caring and loving person who mellows me out when I am stressed out and listens to all my crazy ideas. This move has been really hard for me, but knowing I have him here with me has made everything feel a little bit easier.

For my health. The strength I have learned I hold within me. For taking on one of the hardest challenges a person can take and defy the odds - losing 75+ pounds and working hard, everyday, to stay healthy and fit. For Michael Friedman, who the world will hopefully learn about soon. Thank you for pushing me farther than I ever thought possible. Because of you I continue to give myself goals and step outside my comfort zone. These two things make me strive daily to be a better person. I am so glad you came into my life when you did. I can't wait to run the Chicago Marathon 2013 by your side (and under 5 hours).

I am also thankful for this new adventure that I have been able to set out on. For the opportunity to drive across the United States, to spend 3 weeks in Europe, to live in a new City. Not many people get the chance to experience the things I have in the past year. I am thankful that I chose to try new things instead of being afraid of them - and letting my fear become my inspiration.

 I apologize for the lack of pictures in this post.. the next one will have more! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Week of Firsts!

 I knew that keeping up with this blog would be hard once real life set in and we had a million things to do everyday, but I never imagined it would be THIS hard. I promise I will take more time to update from here on out, because otherwise I am trying to play too much catch up on what’s happening with me.

I will post a moving-in post after this one, as there are some funny stories about all of that, but for now – the week (plus 4 days) of firsts!

Last Monday was our first night in our apartment. We brought a mattress for the guest room in Aunt Pat’s truck with us so we had a place to sleep the night before our furniture arrived. We also set up Jason’s computer so we had something to watch – The Muppets! I don’t think he was as excited as I was about watching it.

We also made our first visit to State Street to look at furniture at Macy’s. It was also my first foray into Chicago parking garage parking… one hour and $32 later, I realized next time I go downtown to shop, I am taking the El.

Last Tuesday was our first day of unpacking. (Yes, we still are unpacking and although we are very close to being done, we aren’t done yet…) It was also election night, our first in Chicago. What did we do? We watched The Muppets. Mainly because I fell asleep 10 minutes into the movie the first night.

Last Wednesday was my first Chicago job interview. I had applied for a position online before we had driven into Chicago and they emailed me on Tuesday to see if I could attend a group interview the following morning. I could! Thank goodness for wide open schedules. Wednesday we also got cable and internet – and set up the TV. We were finally connected to the outside world again! The first thing we watched was something on HGTV, mainly because we were (and are) still trying to figure out how all the channels are arranged. It feels like they are scattered throughout the listings..

Cable installation in and of itself was an interesting first. It was the first time the Cable Guy has ever had to climb onto my roof to see if he could find the cable line. It was also the first time the Cable Guy has ever had to climb up the telephone pole to connect the cable to the lines.

Wednesday also brought my first trip to a Chicago suburb to go to Ikea. I still am trying to get used to paying tolls for just driving down the freeway.

Thursday was more of a “second” but I had my second interview for my first Chicago job. Followed by my first trip home on the bus! It was also my first chance to walk around Chicago alone a little bit, wandering the big, bad, mean street Michigan Avenue, right past the John Hancock building.

Friday… well Friday was my FIRST DAY OF WORKING! I was offered a part-time seasonal Educator position at Lululemon on Rush Street in Chicago. So Friday was my first day of training. I am so excited to be able to be part of the Lululemon Team. As I mentioned on facebook, two years ago I couldn’t fit into Lulu clothes, and here I am two years later a team member, getting to be a face and educator of the brand. I am so proud of myself and my journey and the things I am able to be a part of and accomplish now.

Saturday and Sunday were our first weekend in Chicago. I wish I could say that we went wild and crazy celebrating that we are finally here, but in all reality we spent our first weekend looking at more couches, unpacking more boxes, hanging curtain rods, building bed frames and watching movies sitting on the floor (since we have yet to buy our first couch).

Monday was my first birthday (in Chicago)! I cannot believe I am 30. It just sounds weird to me. Having my first birthday so close to our moving to a new city was hard. I missed my family. I missed my friends. But then I got to go to deep dish pizza with new friends! How many people get to say they celebrated their entrance into a new decade by moving to a new city, in a new apartment and starting a new adventure. Not many. I am excited for all the things my 30th year is going to bring me.

Monday was also my first meeting with an employment agency in Chicago. The meeting went really great and I was excited about all the possibilities working here could bring me.

Another first on Monday? My first Chicago “snowfall”! It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to see on the cars!

Tuesday was my first real day of working at
Lulu. I had so much fun training on the floor and am looking forward to a great holiday season with the amazing people I am so fortunate to be able to work with.

Wednesday was my first “full-time” job interview. I can’t say that I was a perfect fit for the job, but it was a great experience to get an interview in and see how the process differs from the process in San Francisco. I am really excited and nervous about my job search, but I really do have faith that the right position for me will come along. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later!

I really do feel like I am still living in a dream. I wake up every day and cannot believe that I am finally here, living in Chicago. We planned this move for so long and stressed out about the move so much that to be here, unpacking and trying to find jobs has been surreal. There have been scary, freak out moments here too – what if we don’t find jobs, what if Jason doesn’t find work soon – but everything will work out the way it needs to. Things have really been going well since we have been here, and I believe this is where we are supposed to be right now.

I am looking forward to more firsts here in Chicago. Especially my first holiday season here. They are gearing up for next week's Thanksgiving Parade down State St. I can't wait to see the Christmas decorations in all their glory! 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Grand Rapids, Michigan – First Days as a Midwesterner

Last Friday, I woke up to my first Friday as a Midwesterner. The most exciting part of the morning is I woke up to snow flurries! The sad (but probably good part) was that the snow didn’t stick, the good part was it was still warm enough that the snow didn’t stick.

I think I am secretly holding out hope that the weather will be mild like it was all last winter, but even if the temperatures now are “mild” I am still freezing. That being said, the sweaters that I thought would at least last me into part of the winter are NOT EVEN CLOSE to being warm enough. So, that set the tone for our first few days in Michigan.

Looking for sweaters and couch shopping. Exciting life right?

So that is how we spent our first few days in Michigan. Couches and sweaters.

And then there was this!

I know I have been trying to eat healthier and keep on the healthy lifestyle kick, but sometimes, you just have to indulge yourself! And man, sometimes those indulgences are WORTH IT! Yesterdog in Grand Rapids is, from what I understand, a city institution. You cannot go to Grand Rapids and not eat at Yesterdog. Hot dogs, steamed buns, loaded with goodness. Amazing! 

Another first? Going for a run outside in weather under 40 degrees. That was interesting, the cold air made it harder to breathe, layering up makes you get hotter faster and I found it harder to get into a running grove…

Jason’s mom lives really close to a college in Grand Rapids with a gorgeous cross country running course for their school, so we got to take advantage of it on our run. It was absolutely gorgeous.

After three days of boring people with our European vacation photos, catching up with friends and family and getting a chance to relax after spending a week in the car, it was suddenly time to pack up and head to Chicago to get our apartment keys and get to life in the big city!

Needless to say, it was reallllly cold the morning we woke up to drive to Chicago. There’s nothing like coming out to a car covered in frost. I will say, everything covered in frost is absolutely beautiful.

We were then in the car, headed back to Illinois to finally see the place we were going to live, check out our new neighborhood and start our new life!

The drive took forever but went by fast at the same time. Before I knew it we were paying the toll (which paying a toll on a road that is NOT a bridge is still weird to me.. think toll plaza in the middle of a freeway) for the Chicago Skyway and headed towards the future.

At this point, it was Monday afternoon. Our truck was to arrive the following day to deliver all of our boxes so we could feel like we had a real place to live with real furniture.

Everything was happening so fast. After two years of waiting, we were finally moving to Chicago!   

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updates to Come.. I Promise!

Life in the Midwest has been busy (and cold)!

I promise I haven't forgotten about updating, just a lack of internet service has made me feel so disconnected.

There is lots of activity going on over here though! I have lots to talk about.

I should have more time tomorrow to sit down and write a proper update.

I knew things in Chicago were going to be different, I just didn't know how different...

Yep. That's frost/ice on the car. Nice to wake up to the morning we were leaving for Chicago. I even got some snow flurries the first morning we were in Michigan.

But as for now, we've made it to Chicago and are trying to settle in the best we can over the next few days. We (finally) have internet and cable so we have something to listen to while unpacking aside from my bad renditions of whatever song comes on the stereo, and something other to watch than The Muppets. Which is what we watched instead of the election results last night. Let me tell you, I would rather watch The Muppets than Fox News any day. 

Until tomorrow, with love from Chicago.