Best Friends Since the Beginning

Over the past nine and a half months, I’ve witnessed one of the most special things: Ellie becoming best friends with her pal, Graham.

Graham is the son of one of my best friends, Sandra, who I met when we were co-workers years ago. Sandra and I have laughed together, cried together (ok, so maybe it’s mostly me crying to her, honestly), vacationed together, enjoyed being pregnant together, and now our little ones spend lots of time together. 

What is so amazing to me is observing their friendship. Graham is a few months older, and definitely takes care of her, teases her, shows affection to her: all signs of a wonderful friend. Haha. 

What makes me so happy, though, is the way she waves her arms with excitement when we get to their house. And the look she gives him when they are together, totally content. Or how worn out she gets after being with him–thanks, G!

This weekend was Graham’s first birthday, and I’m feeling a little reflective. I’m grateful to know E and G have each other warms my heart like no other. To think that they are just starting to navigate this crazy world we live in and they can do it together? That’s pretty special. 

The cherry on top? I get to share it all with Sandra and our hubbies, too.  

Shedd Aquarium with the Cuzzies

I was telling a friend the other day about my blog, and it blew my mind how different my life is since I started it. Now instead of going to see new spots for myself, I want to share the city with my baby, whether I’ve been there before or not!

While our nanny was recently sick, Nate took Ellie to the Art Institute (first museum trip!), and this past weekend we went to the Shedd Aquarium with Nate’s older brother and his family (that includes four fun kiddos).

Ellie can be in the Bjorn face out now, so she really enjoys looking around and observing everything on our outings. At the Shedd, she loved visiting with family, seeing all of the marine life, and even sea horses! Once we went underground to check out the dolphins and whales, she was able to snooze from the peacefulness down there. I hadn’t been in so long, and it was just so relaxing to watch the animals and zone out (just a little).

There are so many activities for the children, too! They felt starfish, played in a submarine, and watched the diver feed the fish and more in the big tank in the lobby.

My advice to you: go early! We went on a free admission day, and it took us maybe 20 minutes to get in using the stroller line (that’s another tip if you have little ones!). When we were leaving around noon, the line was at least three times the size. 

We had such a great time with our family at the Shedd! It was fun to spend time together and take advantage of this great city!

More adventures with Ellie to come soon. Check out my updated to-do list!

   
    
    
   

5 Lessons from My Dad for Father’s Day

I’m pretty blessed to have a lot of amazing dads in my life. I know everyone isn’t as lucky, and I don’t take it for granted.

For this Father’s Day, I thought it would be nice to share some lessons from my Dad. He’s always been a good teacher and wants to give advice. So, here are just five of the many lessons from my Dad (in no particular order).

1. Put family first. My Dad’s family life as a kid was less than ideal, and he made sure that when he was a father, he would be an active part of our lives. We were fortunate because my Dad worked mostly from home growing up, and my Mom was a full-time mom, so we were together all of the time. My Dad was my soccer coach, went to my holiday concerts, and was there for dinner every day. 

2. Education is important. My Dad always pushed us to do our best academically and to take advantage of all our extra-curricular activities. I liked school from a young age; we used to “play” with my sister (she would make my younger brother and I do her homework!). But working hard had its benefits. I had a 4.0 GPA all of high school, and enjoyed things like choir, cheerleading, year book, class council, and more during high school, and my siblings were just as motivated. I wouldn’t be where I am now without the academic support and motivation of both of my parents.

3. Travel. My family is big into travel, and we’ve experienced a lot of vacations together. Skiing, going to Disney World, cruising the Virgin Islands, driving the road to Hana in Maui, sailing in Mexico–my Dad instilled the importance of traveling, seeing the world, and learning about different cultures. I’ve been bitten with the travel bug and it’s in my veins. It’s not a coincidence that I work for a study abroad non-profit now! 

4. Work hard. My Dad has literally made a life for us out of nothing, and showed me that I can do the same. In conjunction with #2, I knew I didn’t just have to be good in school, but also get a lot of work experience. For example, my senior year in college, I did all of my class work, was the co-editor and a writer for the Latino newsletter, was a writer for the school newspaper’s magazine insert, and designed page layouts for the newspaper, too. It wasn’t always easy, but I knew if I wanted to be a journalist, I needed the experience. I still have this same work ethic, and I’m grateful for that.

5. Follow your heart. When it comes to love, my parents have a pretty amazing story of how they met at 15 years old, and have been married for 40+ years. They’ve been a great example of what true love is, and have urged us to find the same. When I fell for Nate at the end of freshman year at U of I, I knew he was special. The more I knew him and spent time with him and his family, the more I wanted us to be together. Thirteen years later, I still feel the same way, and love him more now than I could have before.

Nate is going to be a dad again (don’t forget Georgie!) very soon. I’m due with our first baby in five days (ah!), and look forward to sharing this advice with our child. What a journey it’ll be, and I’m so excited to share it with my Dad, Nate, and all of you.

Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads! Know that you are special and loved! XO