Tag Archives: babies

Weekend recap: Chicago style

Historically I’ve not been the best at weekend recaps. Especially weekends that involve all of my favorite females in one room, baby snuggles and Chicago nights. I suppose it could be because recapping a weekend means it’s over and I have to accept the finality of it all. And just like knowing when to end conversations with strangers after several shots of tequila, I tend to have a hard time letting go.

You know what doesn’t seem to be have a hard time letting go once you turn thirty?


I hope you’ll forgive me if my sentence structure is off today. Earlier I blasted one of the walls of a cubicle while walking out of my office. And we’re not talking about my usual slight shoulder tap due to a clumsy streak that I’ve never seemed to grow out of, but rather a solid clavicle impact that left the metal frame ringing.

You’ll forgive me if I’m not myself today. My flight home last night was terrifyingly turbulent thanks to an apparently unavoidable line of weather. And the moment in which the pilot decided to bail on the landing about two feet above the runway was just a cherry on top. I feel like a well-shaken margarita, which isn’t very far off considering the amount of them we consumed Saturday night.

But it wasn’t a completely horrible travel day. I got expedited through security at O’hare yesterday and avoided bending over to take my shoes off, a perk I can only assume was given to me when the TSA saw the pitiful look of nausea on my face. And when I sought relief in greasy fast food in Terminal C, I was both pleased and disgusted to find a bonus order of french fries in my mighty kids meal. Pleased at the luck and disgusted because I could no longer stomach the idea of airport french fries about two minutes later.

It was thanks to an experienced pilot and a very calming ARMY sergeant seated next to me that our second landing was much more successful than the first (we actually landed that time) and that I now have a horrifying story to pass along to my future children and secure my newly developed fear of flying for another generation. I suppose I could accept the encouragement my future husband had for me when I text him what happened and he said, “Wow. Good for you. Now you’ve lived a little. Haha.”

And lived we did. Both literally and figuratively. We lived it up for all the new babies born who were finally spending a Saturday night alone with their dads, for a chance to get the gang back together and for a solid rendition of friends in low places at the best little karaoke spot in bucktown.











April Showers

It’s wedding season! Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday we were all getting together for bridal showers and bachelorette parties every other weekend?

Truth is it’s been a while since we all got together to celebrate a wedding. That’s why Matt and I decided to be the last. You know, to build the suspense and excitement.

And to give our friends a chance to go out for a night and leave their kids with grandma and grandpa.

We ventured home last weekend for a weekend full of wedding festivities and Easter celebrations. After a brief pilot strike, new flight schedules and a detour in Chicago, we made it to Springfield around 1 a.m. Saturday morning. This was our third trip home that we arrived after midnight so we’re hopeful that by the time the wedding comes, the travel gods smile down on us instead of pouring their flight delays and traffic jams all over us.

Travel woes behind us, we spent Saturday amidst family and friends and if you ask me, there’s no better way to spend a weekend day. It meant so much to us for both sides of friends and family come into town, something I appreciate so much more living thousands of miles away from them.

My mom and sister handled all of the planning and execution of the shower so while I can’t take credit for any of the details, I did manage to snap a few photos to share with you. I think we both know I’m good for little more than photo posts at this point so here’s a mash-up of the weekend.

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cakewedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cakewedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

wedding shower, bridal shower, babies, wedding season, spring bridal shower, champagne bar, wedding cake, save the date cookie, family

We had a great Easter celebration and are continuing the party this week with the boys visiting Florida for their spring break. You’ll have to excuse my delay in posting as a certain spunky younger brother is turning 5 tomorrow and I’ve got some decorating to do but I’ll leave you with a few shots from Easter Sunday.

Easter, brothers, boys, photography, easter sunday, family, kidsEaster, brothers, boys, photography, easter sunday, family, kids Easter, brothers, boys, photography, easter sunday, family, kids

Can you tell they’re brothers?



This is not a joyful marathon recap

I had visions of what this post might say when I shared my goal of running my first full marathon with you back in January. Would I be joyful and happy, still reeling from the runner’s high I got as I crossed the finish line? Or would I be able to write it at all, fearful that I might get injured or not be strong enough to finish?

For those of you who read my posts like this one and this one, you probably know that my fear came true just weeks before the gun went off for the 36th annual Chicago Marathon. I got injured.

So I rested, I rehabbed, I prayed, I got sick with the same damn cold everyone else has and then I ran. If you hadn’t gathered by now, I tend to err on the side of competition. Throw in a good cause and familial support and there was little left to do than to push through and finish the goal I had set so many months before.

chicago marathon finisher medal and bib simply social blog

And so I did. And it was miserable. I want to tell you it was awesome and believe me there were several points it was oh-so-very awesome, but I also want to be honest with you. And the pain I put my body through was anything but awesome. I do take complete credit for it however, because it was none other than me, myself and I that continued to inflict 26.43 (thanks Garmin) miles worth of pain on Sunday.

I was going to post this yesterday but between the napping and the anti-inflammatory doses, I was of neither sound mind nor body to share my experience with you. I’d like to believe that had I not run injured I might be feeling a little better today, but at least I have a small sense of appreciation for those crazies who run marathons without training at all. 

The day after my first marathon went a little something like this:


And for once I’m not exaggerating. Getting out of bed yesterday took literally minutes. I could hardly bend my left leg and my calves felt like little monsters with tiny knives issued an assault from underneath my bed at each of them. A delivery driver stopped short of an intersection for me last night. Big mistake. My apologies to whomever got a cold pizza. My bad.

But let’s backtrack a few hours, shall we?

Saturday evening

My family arrived. I was overjoyed. I wasn’t sure if they would be able to make it up for the race so to have them in town made all the difference in the world. We discussed plans for the race day, had some dinner and ice cream and then Jake showcased the t-shirts they had planned to surprise me with the next day. 3-year-olds and surprises do not mix.

chicago marathon team shirts simply social blog

Race day: 5:05 a.m.

I woke up before my alarm and ate my normal pre-run breakfast before hailing a cab downtown. I had planned on walking as a sort of warm up but my mother had something to say about her daughter walking in the city alone in the dark. Not like I’ve ever done that in my 5 years here before. Anywho, I took a cab, mom.

7:05 a.m.

I stopped by the CARA event at the Hilton and then met up with a few friends from high school who were also running and in my corral. It was nice to catch up as we waited for the start. Considering there was 40-some thousand runners in this thing, the volunteers did an excellent job of getting us all through security and packed nicely in our corral in plenty of time to take in the sights and sounds of race day, including a runner-led national anthem, jet flyover and a nauseating odor of biofreeze and bengay. Race day, yay!

chicago marathon starting line simply social blog

7:40 a.m.

My wave crosses the start line. I’m a little stiff from standing in the cold for 20 or so minutes but I just try to let the crazies fly past me and settle into my run.

No way! they carpeted the Columbus bridge for us. This is going to be awesome! 

And then it hit me. That oh-so-familiar sharp stab into the outside of my left knee. Between mile 1 and 2 no less.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

Seriously IT band? You’re already pissed off? You couldn’t even give me 8 miles? Not 5 even? We’ve got 25 more miles together you better lock it up!

Ask and you will receive. The son-of-a locked up and screamed at me for the next 5 miles. Things like ‘haha you thought I would just go away, silly runner’ and ‘nope, still here and getting angrier by the minute.’ At mile 6 the other one joined in. I was actually relieved. At least then the pain was even on both sides. I considered how long I had pushed through the IT band pain before without relief and wondered if perhaps mile 9 or 10 was the magic number in which the IT band eventually let’s go and let’s you run.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

But it wasn’t all bad. I had a few smiling moments the first half of the race as well. The frontrunners in boystown were fun to see and the lululemon cheering section was explosively loud as usual. I started taking mental notes of my favorite signs (‘smile if you peed a little’ and ‘chuck norris would never run a marathon’) Some of my best friends came to watch me at miles 4 and 11. It was upon seeing them that 1) I realized I wasn’t going to win this thing (har har har) and 2) that I might as well make the most of the time and energy others were putting into watching this race. After all, it’s tough to run a marathon, but volunteering or watching one is no easy feat.

chicago marathon team paws babies

shout out to the Benkos and Bialarucki’s for letting your pretty girls distract me from my demon legs

So I decided to start walking through every water station. To thank the volunteers whenever I had a chance to. To smile and wave to those who shouted my name along the route (tip: put your name on your shirt if you run a marathon. Strangers will become your best friends). And to be grateful for each mile I was able to push through as I got closer and closer to my family.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

I wouldn’t say I cruised through the halfway point but by mile 14 I still had a slightly decent pace. Believe it or not my legs hurt less when I ran faster for the first half. Normally, I would start to get emotional at this point and I did nearly cry at the 13.1 mark when I passed the bagpipers but that was mostly because I knew I still had 13 more to go.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

my sister was behind the camera but she should get credit for the coordination, attire and enthusiasm for team Murphy

Miles 14-16 were nothing but happy because I had these bright smiling (and model-ready) faces to feed me ibuprofen and hug me. Running through charity village and my friends Trista, Paul and their cute baby girl also made for happy moments as we entered into the second half of the race.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

So here’s where it gets fun. I often run through Little Italy. I really enjoy it actually. The smells of Italian food, the friendly faces. I had just passed an aid station and was coming up on mile 18 when my nose started running like crazy.

Oh great my cold is back. Wait a second. What’s with all this blood? Oh isn’t this just lovely. I can add first bloody nose to the laundry list of firsts today. Just great.  Oh well at least my face will match my limp now. 

That’s right. I had the privilege of running another mile and a half with a bloody nose. A bystander gave me a wad of Starbucks napkins, bless his heart. The race guide told me the next aid station was just a few yards away. The nurses at distant aid station swore I didn’t have blood all over my face. I’m convinced they lied to me. Just like the race guide and the people who told me I had “great form” and “looked strong” at miles 22 and 24.

Liars! Very kind liars but liars, all of you!

But there were happy points along the way. Like the time I nearly bear-hugged the man who was handing out orange slices in China Town as he was my only hope for getting this blood taste out of my mouth and stomach. Or when I literally broke down in laughter after realizing we had to run all the way to US Cellular field before making our way back North to the finish.

chicago marathon course map simply social blog

From mile 23 on I secretly reveled in the fact that everyone else was starting to feel the level of pain I had been feeling since the first 5K. I know it’s mean but that’s what happens in survival mode. It was every man or woman for herself time as runners were pulling up with cramps left and right. For once I felt like my fueling strategy was paying off. My IT bands had stopped working miles ago, but my calves were barely hanging on, scooting along like an old lady on her way to a high-stakes bridge game.

By mile 24 I couldn’t make to the next water station without alternating running and walking. Only problem was walking felt just about as bad as running at that point. I had just about given up near mile 25 when I determined that 800 meters meant TWO LAPS around a track and I surely only had enough gas for a 200. It was at that moment that I heard my name from an area pretty sparse with spectators. A friend and frequent marathoner was there like a little marathon angel and gave me some very encouraging words when I needed them most.

Unlike my other races, there was no final kick. No overwhelming feeling of elation when I saw the big screen or the stupid Mount Roosevelt that stood between me and the finish line. Just sheer determination and knowing that as soon as I got there the pain would start to fade from my body.

chicago marathon finish simply social blog

But I finished. With a watch time of 4:36 and a chip time of 4:53. Knowing that those 17 minutes I stopped to hug my family and friends and thank volunteers (plus go to the bathroom and clot a bloody nose) were completely worth the extra time.

I shared this on Facebook shortly after the race and I think it’s worth another view. Because even though I didn’t have the most joyous and happy marathon experience, the experience itself left a lasting impact.

Today I ran a marathon. Strangers told me I looked strong when I clearly looked anything but. Volunteers kept me hydrated when I longed for something to drink. Family and friends told me to keep going when all I wanted to do was stop. If you want to see the good in humanity go out and run a marathon. Today I may have run a marathon, but this overwhelming sense of pride is a result of what I saw along the way.

Sad Finn Diary

Last week I came across this sad dog diary video. There’s a cat version out there too. Take a minute and watch it.

Ok now stop laughing. Since I can’t get this out of my head, I thought I would let Finn share his take on this weekend’s activities. That and I realized my phone is chock full of sad Finn photos. So without further ado, I bring you the Sad Finn Diary.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary

Dear Diary,

My human has returned home from Minnesota and started grinding up all of her food instead of eating it whole. I know not yet the reason. She shoves perfectly shaped fruit into a loud machine until nothing is left but a pulp. Perhaps a form of self mutilation? I need more time to research. I have taken to eating items to induce sickness in solidarity. But for some reason my human is feeding me nothing but chicken and rice this week. It is delicious and I feel guilty but satisfied. I’m afraid she will have to learn this lesson on her own. Poor human.


My human shared my ‘tricks’ with the world through a new Instagram video feature this weekend. At least that’s what she told me. I don’t know what this Instagram she speaks so highly of but I don’t think I like it. Aside from the exhausting task that ‘high-fiving’ has on a 75 pound species like me, she asked me to do it twice. I can only assume this is because I knocked her device out of her hand the first time. I don’t think she realized I did it purposefully. I fear the device is brainwashing her. I must stop it.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

I received a new chewing device this weekend. Well two of them. I assume this is a sign that the other items in the house were not meant for this purpose. Specifically those that my humans sit on. I pretend to be interested as my humans try to decide what animal my new chewing device represents. The discussion of lobster versus sting ray goes on far longer than it should. Since I can’t don’t care to add anything to the conversation, I focus on the similarity in taste between my new plastic stick and the ottoman leg. I determine that this substitute will suffice for now. But not forever.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

On Sunday my humans took me for a ride in the car. I didn’t know where we were traveling but I was very excited nonetheless. As the building disappeared and the fields grew wider, I considered that they might be taking me back to my place of origin. I could not be sure. Contemplation makes me tired. I must rest.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

When we arrived at our destination I realized that my humans were meeting with other family members to sit under tents and talk. I spotted two other dogs across the yard. They looked familiar but it would take at least 15 minutes of butt-sniffing to determine how I knew them. Their humans called them by name: Harley and Charlie. According to my human they were my cousins. I’ve yet to determine how that is possible. 

golden retriever simply social blog

I soon realized that this wasn’t just a family gathering but a challenge of superiority between my kinfolk. The smell of grilled meat and beer wafted through the warm air as we clumsily tried to reacquaint ourselves after months of isolation. I chewed a stick to calm my nerves. It tasted much more authentic than the plastic version.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

There were children at the gathering as well. Some newer than others. My human thought they were adorable but to me they smelled of milk and mixed vegetables. To each their own I suppose.

Baby aaron simply social blog IMG_3221

We left the gathering some time later and began our drive back home. Exhaustion from the day’s events soon sunk in. I didn’t reign superior on speed, agility or weightlifing, but I did manage to be the only one brave enough snatch the victory napkin flag from the matriarch. And for that I am proud. I will voluntarily wedge myself into the smallest nook of the floorboard and reflect on how I can improve my skills before the next gathering. 


I am starting to think that my human is afraid of me. Nearly every morning after I show her how to pee outdoors, she puts me back inside and runs away. Just today she offered me a treat but then ran away before she delivered it. Is this some sort of sign? She did glance at that wicked device first.  I will pull all of the dish towels from the counter in protest until she returns home.

greater swiss mountain dog sad dog diary simply social blog

Off to the Races

This weekend I traveled down to Indianapolis to run the mini marathon with one of my best friends. She and her husband live in nearby Carmel and were gracious enough to host us and another couple for the weekend. Oh and two babies. Remember the days when the only person you had to coordinate before an early morning race was yourself? I’m still in that boat but she gets extra credit for baby duty the night prior. 

It was a weekend filled with baby coos, coronas and checkered flags.

I can’t express how proud I am of my friend for what she accomplished this weekend. Not only did she push through the entire 13 plus miles with me, but she did so just a few short months after having a beautiful baby girl. The calf strain I was fighting after my race last weekend felt obsolete compared to the physical fete she put on with minimal training. We had decided last year to do the race together and it was so nice to follow through on the commitment.

I love driving through the country on the way to their house, past expansive horse farms and ridiculous mansions with lots the size of the entire streeterville neighborhood here in Chicago. Don’t get me wrong I love the city, but there’s just something about driving the through the country that makes me feel home. We arrived Friday evening and had a nice dinner, played with the babies, ate cupcakes and chatted by the fire pit.

Meanwhile the boys drank beer and talked about shooting guns.

After seeing the forecast for Saturday earlier in the week, I began doing anti-rain dances and praying. In hindsight, maybe the dancing is what caused my calf to flare-up. Whatever the method, come Saturday morning the percent chance of rain had dropped from 80 to zero and it was off to the races we went.

indianapolis half marathon race

clearly my eyes weren’t ready for an eastern time start. Not sure the folks behind us were either.

The entertainment on the course was more frequent than any I had seen before. From belly dancers to renaissance actors, rappers to country singers, the race coordinators did a great job at keeping you entertained. And if the bands weren’t enough, with 35,000 runners there were plenty of ponies to choose from. If you’re not familiar with pony picking, you should be. It’s a little game I learned back in the middle school ice deli days and has expanded into trade expos and long runs. Some people like to focus on their bodies when they run, I prefer to distract myself by making new friends, counting ponies (tutus or lululemon tanks are always top picks) and playing would you rather. Fortunately Kel has known me long enough to just crank her headphones and nod her head when she didn’t feel like chatting about the elephants when we passed the zoo or whether the bands were working off generators or plugging into nearby establishments to get juice. I never said the conversations had to be two-way.


One cool feature of the mini marathon was that miles 6-8 were run on the Indianapolis motor speedway. And while I don’t know we set any course records compared to those Indy cars, it was pretty cool to take a lap on the track where the Indy 500 will run at the end of the month. You could smell the sweat patriotism in the air.


We followed the checkered flags to the finish just in time for the sun to come out and were greeted by the next generation smiling from their baby Bjorn perches.

indianapolis half marathon

What a day for sports Saturday turned out to be. After breakfast we headed back to get cleaned up and watch the derby, a surprisingly exciting sprint cup race and the bulls game.

Meanwhile, the boys double fisted with mint juleps and coronas.

That evening, we celebrated an early cinco de mayo with a full fiesta of chicken tacos, salsas and cupcakes. It was so nice to spend some quality time with some of my oldest friends and just relax after a long race.


I’m a wee bit obsessed with a little french bistro in Indy called Petite Chou. My friends introduced me when I first visited and we typically make a stop each time I’m in town. My aunt also lives in Indy so it’s not unusual for us to frequent it on family visits as well. So it’s no surprise that come Sunday morning we stopped in for an early breakfast before heading back to the city, medal in hand lap.

I was looking forward to seeing Finn as he had spent the weekend playing with some of his buddies, but about 3 minutes into the door he had no interest in playing anymore. They must have served mint juleps and coronas at tucker pups as well.

greater swiss mountain dog puppy simply social blog

I was pretty fiesta’d out by Sunday evening but my managed to throw together a little Cinco De Mayo meal to round out the weekend. Mangoes are finally back so we grilled shrimp and tilapia and served it with one of my favorite mango salsas.

mango salsa simply social blog

Mango Salsa

  • 2-3 large mangoes 
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 2 TBL red onion, diced
  • 3 TBL grape tomatoes, diced
  • Juice of 2-3 limes
  • Cilantro
  • Salt

Find flat part of mango and use knife to slice horizontally just above the top of the pit. If you haven’t seen a mango pit before and you don’t want to mutilate your mango into mush, be cognizant of where it is located. You can see an easy tutorial here.

Chop cilantro, jalapeno, tomato and red onion. In a small bowl mix mango with other ingredients. Add lime juice and salt to taste. Try not to eat the whole bowl as I may or may not have done.

cinco de mayo mango salsa

 Hope everyone had a great cinco de derby weekend. Here’s to a great week!