Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Lessons from "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear"

This post contains affiliate links.

My most recent Audible read is "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear"** by Elizabeth Gilbert, who also wrote the wildly successful "Eat, Pray, Love." In this book, Gilbert discusses creativity, how we should approach it, and how she and others have found inspiration/creativity. I consider myself to be creative as well. I enjoy writing, photography and blogging in my "free" time. I find any minute I can for my creativity, like a person having an affair does for his or her lover. (This is an analogy she uses in her book, by the way.) I finished "Big Magic" this week, taking with me many key lessons about creativity:

Looking for creativity? Search for it. Write or create what you know. Meet people, travel and have many different experiences. Be curious about anything and everything and pursue your curiosities.

Keep working despite rejection. Never stop moving. If you fail, move on. Don't dwell on your failures.

The reward is the work, not the money. Do what you love, because it is not about the success in the form of money, it's about doing something you enjoy for the pure joy of creating it. Also forget about how people will react to your work. As Gilbert says, "The reaction doesn't belong to you." The outcome does not matter. You are still worthy no matter what the reaction.

"Forget about perfect." Done is better than perfect, in Gilbert's words. There is no use in holding back your talents from the world until your work is beyond criticism. It will never be. You can't control how people feel about your work.

And one of the most important lessons I took away from "Big Magic" is that you should not expect your creativity to pay the bills. That puts too much pressure on yourself and asks too much of creativity. In fact, Gilbert suggests working as much as you have to in order to pay for your creative endeavors. That is refreshing to hear, especially as someone who has to write and blog on her free time -- funded by my full-time job. Of course, if someday you can make a living solely with your creative endeavor, that's great, but Gilbert herself kept her job long after writing "successful" books.

Have you read "Big Magic"? What did you think? Also, have you tried Audible?

Read "Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear"**:

** Affiliate link included.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Review: e.l.f. Skincare and Makeup

I received these products complimentary for testing purposes.

As I've shared before, this year I've been switching to cruelty-free makeup with a focus on more affordable products. A couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to learn that Influenster would be sending me the e.l.f. Play Beautifully VoxBox containing five makeup and skincare items. It was almost like I manifested the arrival of this makeup in my mailbox!

The Play Beautifully box included the Hydrating Bubble Mask, Mineral Infused Primer, Lip Exfoliator in Mint Maniac, Matte Lip Color in Wine and Baked Highlighter and Bronzer duo in Bronzed Glow. I've been using these products nonstop for almost two weeks, and I took them with me to Louisville, Kentucky, for Thanksgiving weekend. After incorporating these products into my makeup routine since then, here are my initial thoughts on the goodies:

  • Hydrating Bubble Mask: I've been using this exclusively to clean my face every night, and I am enjoying it so far. When you apply the gel to your face, it fizzles into a white foam or bubble mask. I leave it on for at least five minutes, or until I can't handle the tickles on my face. It makes me want to scratch my nose or cheeks. My face feels clean after using it, and it removes my makeup. Of course, you don't want to get this near your eyes. The packaging looks higher end than it is, which I think is a nice touch.

  • Mineral Infused Primer: I expected to hate this primer based on my experience with the pore minimizing e.l.f. primer. The packaging for e.l.f. primers makes it seems like there is more product in the bottle than you actually receive. Unlike the previous primer I used, though, this primer does not have an unappealing scent. I also know to use a small amount. I have combination skin with my cheeks and face being slightly dry, and I didn't feel my foundation slipping off over my primer. This primer is an improvement over the pore refining e.l.f. primer.
  • Lip Exfoliator in Mint Maniac: This lip exfoliator is rough when you first rub it on your lips. When you press your lips together it smooths over and feels hydrating on the lips. It was a mint scent that I enjoy. I have been using this daily and my lips feel smoother.
  • Matte Lip Color in Wine: This matte color is actually quite smooth and moisturizing on the lips. My lips don't appear cracked or dry at all. The pigmentation is decent and you can keep applying more to build up the color. The color is perfect for fall or holiday looks.

  • Baked Highlighter and Bronzer duo in Bronzed Glow: When you rub your finger on the baked highlighter and bronzer, it feels smooth (after you rub off the top layer that seems to give off no pigmentation, in my experience). You can build up the pigmentation on them to your preference. I prefer more golden highlight, but this highlight is nice. The bronzer, however, is not the right shade for my tan skin. I don't really notice it on my skin. Both have a slight sheen to it, without any glitter. Because it is kind of small, I use small highlighting and bronzer brushes to apply.

I like that e.l.f. has decent quality makeup and skincare for an affordable price. A bonus is that the brand is cruelty-free!

Have you tried e.l.f.'s skincare or any of these makeup products yet? What did you think?

Shop products (or similar)***

** Affiliate links included in this post. I receive a small commission on purchases or clicks through these links. I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own. Also, I was not able to find a link for the baked highlighter and bronzer together, but I included similar products.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gratitude + Ways to Show Gratitude

Photo by Square Mouth Studios

This year, family is at the top of my gratitude list. When Graham and I set our intention for the year as growth, we had no idea that we would be growing our family as well. Yes, we had offered to take care of her if needed,  but it wasn't until 10 months later that we received word she would be arriving (in one week!). Caring for Victoria has reminded me I have much to be grateful for. I should always be aware of my blessings, but sometimes life causes me to lose sight of them.

What I'm grateful for this year:

  • Having a fun, sweet, smart, loving and challenging addition to our family.
  • Being able to work from home to care for her.
  • The experiences I had cheering for the Cubs, especially the World Series festivities I was lucky enough to attend.
  • The resources and support that helped me train for and complete the Chicago Marathon.
  • Wonderful family and friends who checked in on us, offered to babysit and sent gifts for Victoria.
  • Being able to pursue my interests and the activities that make me happy.
  • Meeting new people through this blog and through running.
  • The fact that we are on our way to achieve our dream of being business owners in the future.

What are you grateful for this year? Share in the comments!

Photo by Square Mouth Studios

Along with listing what you're grateful for, I think it's key to also show your gratitude through action. It doesn't have to be some grand gesture; any small act of kindness does the trick. Switching the focus to others helps illuminate what we have in our own lives, if you have forgotten. 

Simple ways to give back and show gratitude this week (and always)

  • Participate in a canned food drive or toy drive. (Or organize one in your office or among friends and family.)
  • Give money to local charities or volunteer in your community. Donate to non-profits. Declutter your home and donate the goods to a charity.
  • Write letters to your elected officials on behalf of a cause you care about. Remind them of the needs of the community. 
  • Give up your seat on public transit to someone who needs it. Buy a meal or coffee for a stranger.
  • Buy a gift or bake treats for a neighbor who may not have family around.
  • Invite someone to holiday festivities who may not have lots of family or friends around.
  • Write a thank you note to people in your life for the small and big ways they have impacted you.
In what ways do you give to others?

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Cruelty-Free Beauty Gift Ideas

This post contains affiliate links.

This year I focused on switching my makeup and skincare products to cruelty-free options. It's been a struggle to find products that not only avoid testing on animals but also do what they claim to do. There's also the added challenge of trying to be as minimalistic as I can in the process. I don't want to end up with five different primers, foundations or mascaras; I just want one of each that will do the job. Is that so much to ask? (An exception to this is lipstick, because I need plenty of lip options to match my outfit, mood, look, etc.) The products below are on my radar because I have heard/seen positive reviews, they are cruelty-free, and their packaging appeals to me.

My wish list:
  • Bite Beauty's Perfect Bite Set: It comes with four "deluxe size" lipsticks in Fig, Pepper, Honeycomb and Nori. These would make a great gift for makeup-loving friends and family.
  • Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette: I have always wanted to try this palette, which has three highlighting and three contouring shades, after seeing rave reviews. I also think the Kat Von D has excellent and unique packaging. 
  • Milani Rose Powder Blush: I like the rose detail, and I can't wait to see it on my cheeks. Milani is an affordable and cruelty-free drugstore brand.
  • Too Faced Primed and Poreless Primer: I am still on the hunt for a cruelty-free primer that actually minimizes pores, and I am hoping this will be the one.
  • Too Faced Chocolate Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer: The gold packaging is right up my alley. I also need a slighter darker bronzer than I am using now (Physicians Formula). I have also heard that this has an enticing scent. 
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette: I have had my eye on this all year, and everyone single Youtuber and beauty blogger I follow seems to love it. I specifically have my eye on Red Ochre and Venetian Red.
  • Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Gel: I have been using a drugstore brow gel for some time now but I am ready to replace it with a cruelty-free brand, and ABH is known for being the best in brows.

What are you currently eyeing in the beauty department? 

Shop my wish list**:

** This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission on clicks and purchases.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Christkindlmarket Chicago

Saturday was supposed to be the start of my winter hibernation. I woke up to see it had dropped into the 30s in Chicago and the forecast called for flurries that morning. I wanted to stay in bed all day, but the chance to grab coffee with Jessie (Just Jessie Blog) got me out of the house. Besides an Orangetheory class afterward, the weekend was about staying inside for the most part. That was the plan ... until I realized the Christkindlmarket Chicago was opening over the weekend.

Graham, Victoria and I made our way down to Daley Plaza with hopes of finding some ornaments for our Christmas tree. Graham and I have collected ornaments from places we have visited since we first started dating, and the tradition continues with our little addition.

We slowly made our way through the market crowds, pushing a stroller at a glacial pace. A toddler carrier would have been the smarter way to go, because people cut in front of us every 5 feet or so. Patience is key if you bring a stroller. 

Our first order of business was buying a hot pizza pretzel ($5) to warm up. The ATMs at the market were out of order, so I then walked across the street to a bank at Clark and Washington for cash; most of the booths were cash only. Next we warmed up with hot chocolate with whipped cream ($3) and hot apple cider ($3). 

Ornament options are abundant at the market; it was overwhelming. Nutcrackers, angels, snowmen -- you name it and you can find it. A heart-shaped bark ornament caught my eye at one of the booths ($9), and then we bought more food. That became our main focus; Eat as much as we could. Perhaps some hot spiced wine or beer can warm you up as well. Be sure to get it in one of the market mugs ($8). We also picked up potato pancakes ($6), milk-chocolate rice crispy treats ($4) and bourbon chocolate balls ($4). We came, we saw, we ate.

Had the weather not been so cold for my Arizona blood, I would have wanted to stay longer. But I couldn't take it anymore. I haven't taken my coats out of storage because of wishful thinking. I mean, it was just 70 degrees a few days ago. How did it go from summer to winter overnight? 

We left with full bellies, one ornament and plans to return on a day when we are dressed more appropriately. I hope to pick up some goodies for loved ones next time I go.

Have you been to Christkindlmarket Chicago? What did you buy?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

My Favorite (and Least Favorite) Orangetheory Exercises

I was in an Orangetheory Fitness class this week when I realized I've been an Orangetheory member for more than a year. After attending classes two to three times a week since October 2015, I have learned a great deal about myself and my body, and I've seen results in the form of 6-7 pounds lost, a drop in clothing size and more defined muscles. Some workouts are better than others, of course. I have found that the experience depends on 1. Your attitude and effort. 2. The coach's ability to be motivating. 3. The playlist. I have also found that I like some workout moves more than others.

Some of my favorite exercises: 

* I am including a basic description, but I am not a trainer, so these may not be the best way to describe how to do them. Consult your trainer or a professional for help when you don't know how to do something.
  • Squat jumps to chest press with medicine ball press. (Holding a medicine ball, squat down and jump up while pressing the medicine ball forward.) These will leave you out of breath. They work so much of your body at once and are especially challenging as part of a run/row.
  • Squat jacks with medicine ball. (Hold a medicine ball, then jump your feet out as in a jumping jack while lifting the medicine ball overhead.) These are also great cardio. The medicine ball of 8 to 12 pounds adds more of strength component.
  • Goblet squats (with weights). (Hold a weight in your hands like a goblet, then squat.) I like to use at least 15 to 20 pounds. I love all squats because they yield the results I seek. They also work the muscles I need to strengthen for running.
  • High and low rows on the TRX strap. (Hold the strap handles in your hands, then lean back. Row with elbows into your sides next to your ribs and then again with elbows out.) I like these when working my upper body. I have noticed increased strength in my back and biceps thanks in part to these. Because you are leaning back, you are also in kind of a standing plank that works the core. You control how much tension is on the straps and how difficult the high/low rows will be. 
  • Single-leg V-ups. (Lying down, raise your arms overhead. Lift one leg about 45 degrees while bringing your arms toward that leg. Switch legs. Keep moving.) I love any and all core work; let's be real. These get my heart racing while working my core.

My least favorite:

  • Chest press on the TRX strap. (Face away from wall, grip one handle in each hand, get in pushup position with your body at about a 45 degree angle, slowly lower body with elbows as if in pushup, then push body to your starting point.) I feel like I can never find the right position to challenge myself. Trainers are there to help, but I still don't enjoy these. These are essentially pushups while standing up.
  • Side plank with crunches or leg lifts. (Get into a side plank with elbow on ground. Your top hand is on your head or stretched overhead and away. You can also have your bottom knee down. Then keep hip/waist lifted and crunch by bringing your top leg toward your elbow to tap it, or lift your leg for leg lift.) Side planks are difficult for me because my shoulder bothers me. It's not so much the crunching or lifting that is too much; it's the tension in my shoulder. Other people without shoulder issues would like these.
  • Squats with tricep kickbacks. (With feet hip distance apart and holding weights, bend knees, bring elbows to 90 degree angle, then straighten your arm.) I can never do these properly. The coach has to come correct my body position EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I also have issues with my right shoulder feeling uncomfortable after doing these.
  • Rollouts on the TRX strap. (Stand with arms in front of you, gripping the TRX handles. Lean forward until your arms are extended over your head and you are at about 45 degrees. Keep your core stabilized and your body in a straight line.) It takes me several reps to get the hang of where to position my feet for rollouts. It's easy to lose your position. 

Previous Orangetheory posts:

Shop winter running gear**:

** This post contains affiliate links. I am compensated for clicks and purchases made through these links.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A Virtual Half Marathon
| Post-Marathon Thoughts

After the Chicago Marathon I had no plans to run another marathon. I didn't have any 10Ks or half marathons in mind, either. I was only focused on finishing the marathon, resting the next day and then flying to Phoenix to pick up Victoria and returning to Chicago in one day. It was the most exhausting week of my life; even more tiring than moving to Chicago with just 11 days to prepare.

Now that I've had a month to rest, I am feeling the itch to sign up for another race. I haven't made any decisions about a marathon, but I just signed up for a virtual half marathon. I had not heard of a virtual half until I received an email from the Phoenix Marathon, a race I have run before (half, not the full). If I run a virtual half before Dec. 31, I will be eligible to still try to earn the Arizona Copper Star, a set of five medals that you get by running the race for five consecutive years starting in 2016. You earn medals to represent the Five C's of Arizona: Copper, Cattle, Citrus, Cotton and Climate. In case you're wondering I can recite the Five C's by memory, because I am an Arizona native. It's ingrained in my memory. I think it would be an amazing achievement to earn these medals because I love my home state of Arizona, and the Phoenix Marathon has a gorgeous course. It's also a well-run race, and I have enjoyed the swag given out the years I ran the half. The five medals come together to form an a copper star in the center. I WANT THESE MEDALS. I am not sure if life will allow me to do any of the races in Phoenix (technically Mesa), but I am hoping I can. 

So what is a virtual half marathon? It means I will run the distance and then submit a screenshot of my time tracked on my device. Once my time is verified, I will receive the first of the medals: Copper. I will also receive a race shirt and arm sleeves, which the race gives its runners every year. I love them!

I am glad this email made its way to my inbox just as I was debating my next running move. I find that when you are looking for an answer you will find what you need. As far as a marathon goes, I am leaning toward running either the Chicago Marathon or the Marine Corps one. Both are in October 2017, and both are via lottery. I would also love to run the New York City Marathon, which is a tough race to get into. I'm confident that the answer will appear though. It always does.

What are your current fitness goals? Share them with me in the comments!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Field Museum Fun

Graham, Victoria and I met our friends on Sunday for a play date at the Field Museum. Visiting the museum was on my summer bucket list and has been on my Chicago list since we moved here. The Field Museum surpassed any expectations I had. The colossal building contains so much history that you would have to visit many times to explore all of its exhibits. We spent hours here and left with plans to come back.

We started by letting our toddlers play in the kids lab, where they could color, put together puzzles, play musical instruments, hold plush dinosaurs, and lots more. We worked up an appetite and dined on vegan dogs, grilled cheese, mac and cheese, sausage and peppers and burgers at the Field Bistro on the Main Floor. (By the way, the stroller entrance is on the east side of the building and you will be on the Ground Floor. Also, there's a picnic area on the Ground Floor.)

On the main floor of the Field Museum you'll find Stanley Field Hall, home to the information desk, a gift shop, and entrances to many of the exhibits. You'll also see Sue the T-Rex.

We then checked out the first part of the Ancient Egypt exhibit before moving to the Tibetan and dinosaur exhibitions. 

It is impossible to read every bit of historical information as you walk by. I gravitated toward the displays about evolution and dinosaurs, which I find most interesting. Bones, Stones and Human Evolution was the most challenging class I ever enrolled in during college, and I had flashbacks of studying as I walked through the Evolving Planet exhibit. I suggest picking the topics you like the most and spending as much time as you can in that exhibit.

We also checked out the Cyrus Tang Hall of China exhibit, which had a fascinating video portrayal of the changing physical boundaries of the country throughout its history. Check it out if you go! You'll need an exhibit ticket to access this area, which also has touch screens on its displays where you can find a vast amount of information.

A video plays on a screen in the Hall of China.

We next checked out garden and gemstone exhibits before heading back to Ancient Egypt to see the mummies. I could not believe all the artifacts the museum has on display. It's the most impressive museum I've ever had the pleasure of visiting.

We had a wonderful time at the museum and can't wait until we can go back. It's the perfect way to spend a cold winter day when we are tired of being stuck in the house. 

Have you been to the Field Museum in Chicago? 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Gifts for Bloggers

This post contains affiliate links.

Looking ahead to the holidays can take your mind off anything that ails you. The season inspires an urge to give to those you love -- and even to strangers. We could all use more love. Last year I enjoyed participating in a blogger Secret Santa gift exchange, and I hope to do it again this year. I didn't know anything about my blogger, but the exchange was an opportunity to check out a new blog and find adorable gifts for its author. This year I've come up with six blogger gift ideas for the blog boss in your life. What would you add to this list?

  • Cute camera bag or purse. I'm thinking bags that are photo worthy to be both practical and fashionable.
  • A blogger rug or unique background to use for Instagram posts and blog flat lays. Yes, the white rug is ubiquitous, but it works. It helps products stand out in photos.
  • Notebooks and planners to make lists, brainstorm ideas, plan posts and use in photos.
  • Photo-ready candles to burn in the background of YouTube videos, to use as props or to burn while blogging to enhance the ambiance.
  • External hard drive if your blogger doesn't already have one. All those photos, videos and graphics take up valuable space on your computer. It's smart and imperative to back up all of that hard work! I currently use this one by Toshiba.
  • Photography, photo editing or video editing classes so the blogger can improve his or her skills and look more professional. Blog webinars are helpful as well!
What are you getting for the blogger in your life? Share your ideas in the comments!

Shop blogger gift ideas**:

** This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Favorite Purchases for Our Toddler

Preparing for Victoria and adjusting to life with a toddler has been so fun -- and tiring. We have enjoyed buying her things for her room as well as finding products to make life with a toddler a little easier on us.

Here are four recent purchases we are loving so far:

  • Plush Owl Sweet Seat Chair: Victoria's grandma bought her this chair from Toys R Us the week before her arrival. Victoria loves it! She has fallen asleep on it multiple times, and she likes to bring it into the living room when she is able to watch her favorite TV show.
  • B. Children's Teepee Tent: Target has a few options for this tent. We chose one that has a detachable light inside. Victoria enjoys playing in this tent and has even fallen asleep in it.
  • Moby Go Wrap: I bought this before attending Game 4 of the World Series at Wrigley Field with Victoria and my mom. I used to think wraps are only for infants, but I was pleasantly surprised that they work for toddler as well. It made carrying her much easier because I would have had to check a stroller. She enjoys being carried in this wrap.
  • B.eautifloor Tiles: We bought three of these sets of alphabet tiles to cover most of the floor in Victoria's room. She enjoys taking the letters out and then putting them back where they belong. At first she became frustrated when she couldn't get the letters to fit, but now she is learning where each letter belongs. It's a great learning tool. 
We are new to parenting, so Graham and I would appreciate any suggestions on toddler toys as the holiday season approaches. 

Parents, what are your favorite purchases for your toddler?

Shop our toddler picks**:

Prepping for Victoria's Arrival:

** This post contains affiliate links.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Recent Empties

I've gone through many more products recently. I've been waiting to use up some products before purchasing those made without harsh chemicals. I've also been looking for more products that don't test on animals, though achieving that goal has been a challenge.

Clinique Perfectly Real Makeup foundation: I have been using this for years, but I finally decided to switch to cruelty-free and more full coverage foundation. This foundation was lightweight but didn't cover everything I wanted to cover. It retails for about $26 and the Milani Conceal + Perfect I mainly use now sells for less than $10, so I am saving money.

Miss Spa Detox mask: I love picking these individual sheet masks up from Target. They cost about $2 and I like to try different varieties. I find that I see a difference in my skin after using them, including slightly minimized pores. The change isn't dramatic, but I don't expect it to be.

Bright Endeavors Lavender Milk candle: We bought this soy candle from Garfield  Park Conservatory recently and I loved the scent. I want to buy more after I use my fall scented candles. Plus, the purchase of these candles benefits young moms who are taught to craft them in order to transform their lives. 

Dr. Teal's Pure Epsom Salt Foaming Bath - Soothe & Sleep: I love Epsom salt baths after workouts. I used this frequently during marathon training. I like to combine this foam bath with other Dr. Teal's Epsom salt products.

Dr. Teal's Epsom Salt Body Wash - Eucaplytus & Spearmint: I have written about this before in a favorites post, but I like the scent of spearmint with eucalyptus, especially in the mornings. It wakes me up!

Pacifica Purify Coconut Water Cleansing Wipes: I bought these because I love the scent of coconut. I like these overall, though I need to do a better job of keeping them away from my eyes. I liked these but didn't love them. I do appreciate that Pacifica is a cruelty-free brand.

Burt's Bees Pomegranate lip balm: I love Burt's Bees lip products. I use them constantly and panic when I lose one. I have since repurchased this lip balm and am currently using the original Burt's Bees lip balm.

L'Oreal Ideal Moisture Day Lotion: I used to think this was great, but it's too heavy on the skin. You only need a little bit. I have since decided to use cruelty-free products as much as possible, so I have not repurchased.

Maybelline Fit Me Concealer: I liked this product and I think it works well. The price is affordable as well. However, I have since switched to the cruelty-free Born This Way concealer from Too Faced. Many people rave about the Fit Me on blogs and YouTube, though.

Mario Badescu Skin Care Facial Spray: I liked this facial spray and its scent, but I just don't think it's an essential for skin care. If I am wrong about that please enlighten me. I didn't notice any benefits other than being a pick-me-up during the day, especially on days when I don't wear makeup. I would buy again but it's not an urgent need.

What are your recent empties?

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** This post contains affiliate links.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Chicago Cubs World Series Parade

I was ecstatic last week about the possibility of watching the Chicago Cubs in their victory parade on Friday. I had hoped Graham, Victoria and I would be able to watch it together if he didn't have to work. Hours later, we found out we could instead be IN the parade!

We arrived at the Wrigley Field lot at 8:30 a.m. thinking we were late. But we had plenty of time to check in, take photos, catch up with friends and board our trolley. The parade began about 40 minutes past its scheduled 10 a.m. start time, but no one seemed to mind. At one point the trolleys started moving but then stopped for a while at Clark and Grace, so Graham hopped out to grab us empanadas. That encouraged the rest of the trolley to grab some, and pretty soon the vendor was sold out of them.

I would have never imagined the amount of people we saw lining the streets. We heard nonstop cheering the entire length of the parade, from Wrigleyville to Grant Park. People even pulled over on Lake Shore Drive to watch and film the event on their cellphones. Signs included "Dear Santa, Never mind. It happened." 

Graham became the trolley MVP by getting out and handing out stickers and candy whenever we had to stop along the way. Police officers helped us get our goodies out to the crowds when we could not reach them from the trolleys, and they cheered along with the rest of Chicago.

The trolleys took us to Grant Park, where associates and their guests had a designated viewing area for the rally. I can safely say I had never seen a larger crowd for a public event. I will never forget any moment of it!

I am so grateful for this experience! Go Cubs!

Watch our footage of the parade:

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

World Series Weekend | Go Cubs!

This weekend was a whirlwind thanks to the Chicago Cubs. It started Thursday when my friend Charlsy flew in from the D.C. area. We worked a full day remotely, which brought back memories of working together at a newspaper in Arizona. That night we attended the World Series Gala, an incredible night of gourmet food, live music, dancing and fireworks at the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier.

World Series Gala

The next day, Charlsy and I worked from home again before heading to Game 3 of the World Series at Wrigley Field. We sat in the fourth row of the bleachers and had a blast despite the Cubs losing the game.

Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs, World Series

The weekend continued with an airport run to pick up my mom for that night's Game 4, for which we had front-row bleacher seats. We took Victoria to her first Cubs game, which just happened to be the World Series. I was stressed about how it would go, but Victoria quickly made friends with everyone around us. She took peanuts from a nearby fan, accepted free giveaway gloves from another, and fed someone else a Goldfish cracker. My back was killing, though, for days from having to carry a toddler.

Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs, World Series

The next day, my mom, friend Rachael and I took Victoria to Brookfield Zoo's Boo at the Zoo event. I didn't take any photos in a mom and blogger fail. That night I went to Game 5 of the World Series with Rachael. This was finally the game the Cubs won. The people behind me were in tears as we sang the closing song. I was so emotional all game long. Go, Cubs, go!

Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs, World Series

On the way out, I signed the good luck wall at Wrigley Field.

Wrigley Field, Chicago Cubs, World Series

I am in no way bragging. I simply cannot believe I was able to witness this in person. Again, it's not lost on me how lucky I was to be there.

Watch footage from the World Series:

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

November Goals

Life has been a whirlwind this past week. I was lucky enough to go to all three World Series games at Wrigley Field, which I am grateful and honored to do. I had a friend and my mom in town, and we took Victoria to do some fun activities, like Boo at the Zoo. The weekend was fun but incredibly tiring. November should bring some calm back into our lives, and I am ready for that!

October goal check-in:

My November goals:

  • Slow down and enjoy the new addition to our family. I want to go a weekend or two without making plans. I want to settle into a routine with Victoria.
  • Sign up for a half-marathon. I want to sign up for a race to keep me motivated during the holidays.
  • Order and send holiday cards. 
  • Relax and go to yoga. During a time I should have been over the moon, I was also incredibly stressed about trivial matters. I need to refocus on relaxing and make it to the yoga studio this month.

What are your goals this month?

Previous goals: