Fall Activities: What a Difference a Year Makes

I love autumn. Around this time every year, we get together with friends for some seasonal fun. Last year, we were getting our Oktoberfest on at Revolution Brewing and picking apples at County Line Orchard. This year, we opted for chili, spiked hot cider, and pumpkin carving with the kiddos at our friends’ house yesterday. (There was still Oktoberfest beer…)

Here is a photo of our fall fun group from last year and this year, as well as some more photos from the carving session. 

What a difference a year makes! Last year, on this day, I found out I was pregnant. It changed my life forever. Fall fun will now be baby friendly, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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

Chicago Blackhawks Win the Stanley Cup!

Well, unless you aren’t on the Internet or live under a rock, you know that the Hawks won the Stanley Cup!!!!

I admit, I go through waves of being a sports fan. It’s kind of hard work! I’ve never been to a Hawks game, I can’t name every player on the team, I don’t know who is in which line, icing calls sometimes confuse me, and I scream with excitement every time either team gets close to the net (Nate can vouch for it…).

Lucky for me, my hubby is a big sports fan, and sits with a now 38.5-week pregnant lady while I ask a million questions about the game and the players. We also have close friends who are super into hockey who we’ve been watching some of the games with, and another friend who is actually an NHL agent (how cool is that?!?). It’s been so fun to follow his players and cheer for them! The whole team just seems like pretty stand-up guys (even if there are rumors…). I also have a not-so-secret crush on Coach Q, too. Maybe it’s the mustache??

I have to say that watching the Hawks win the Cup (third time in six years!) has been a lot of fun and a great source of entertainment for this preggo. I remember after they won in 2010, we waited outside of Harpo for the big red buses to come rolling by, so excited to get a glimpse of the players who were the absolute best in hockey (I know the girls really wanted to see Sharpie). I remember three years later, when I rode the 20 bus down Washington surrounded by a sea of red-sweatered fans on each side of the street, and wanting to join in on the fun. And I can’t wait for Thursday’s celebrations to see all of the wonderful players and their loyal fans. 

I feel so lucky to witness the dynasty, so thankful for the joy the team has brought me this season, and so excited to write in the “what happened in the news” section of the baby’s book: the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup!

Now, your assignment: help me find the Cup!!!