Tag Archives: birthday

I’ve got friends in Nashvegas

If this blog was a podcast, you’d probably be able to infer how my weekend in Nashville went within the first minute. Lucky for you the written word doesn’t have volume because I left my voice in Nashville. I also left quite a few hours of sleep on the table so I’ll keep this post short and sweet.

I’d heard people refer to Nashville as Nashvegas a few times over the past few years. It wasn’t until I experienced myself this past weekend that I understood why. I went into the weekend with an open mind, fully expecting us to have leisurely days of site seeing and lunching, followed by a nice dinner and perhaps one crazy night of dancing. I love country music, so I knew I’d be in my element. I had heard there was a good food scene, too. What occurred over the next 48 hours was equal parts unexpected and awesome. Here’s why:

nashville girl's trip

1. 5 of my best friends made the trip from various states for our first girl’s weekend in a long time (I should end the post right here because without these girls, the rest of these reasons just wouldn’t make sense.)

2. We had a fabulous brunch at local spot, the Southern complete with pitchers of Bloody Mary’s AND Mimosas.

3. We ate biscuits every day. Classic American dining is right.

4. This bar. Where we spent no less than 5-6 hours in over a 48 hour period, most of which during the day. Like a casino with loose slots, we just couldn’t get enough.

5. Because they have taverns that you pedal. While sipping on drinks. And woo hooing. We have these in Chicago too but because I’ve yet to try them, Nashville ones get my vote for now.

6. Because my girlfriends don’t let a tummy ache get them down. Instead they devise a strategy and hold themselves accountable by requiring photo evidence. Well done, sista.

7. The Country Music Hall of Fame. And even though we didn’t see any of it besides this gift shop, we can say we’ve been there. It is Music City after all.

8. See #1.

nashville girl's weekend

9. Sunsets like this.

10. A friend who is willing to live band karaoke Ring of Fire at noon on a Saturday.

11. T-shirts that mock your love of salads.

12. Soda shops.

13. A delicious birthday dinner at local spot, City House.

14. Headwraps and southern hair.

Did I mention that they call it Music City? The talent in this town is unbelievable. You have to love a place, where on a Saturday afternoon you can witness something like this:

Young talent in Nashville from Sarah Murphy on Vimeo.

My voice may be an indication of some of the fun I had this weekend, but even without a new city and all the noise that comes with it, I’d probably still have the same things to say about my experience today. It’s hard to put into words how thankful I am to be able to spend a weekend with some of my best friends. Life gets in the way sometimes and many times for good reason. At this point in our lives, everyone has a lot of responsibility. I feel blessed each and every time I get a chance to laugh with them and reflect on the years we’ve spent building our friendships. I know not everyone has friends like that and I feel incredibly lucky to have had mine throughout most of my life.

So if you don’t have a weekend planned now, do it. Or at least reach out and tell you friends how much they mean to you. We all know how important family is, but a good friendship is something to be truly thankful for.

Enjoy your week.

The Year of the Swissy, An Infographic

For the past several weeks I’ve been visualizing life in infographic form. I’m not exactly the numbers-type but when I see those stats all wrapped up into a perfectly packaged design element, I get all warm and fuzzy inside. As if suddenly I need to know everything about the power of Pinterest, the triggers of asthma or what type of Facebook personality you exhibit. But seriously, I now know all of those things thanks to recent infographics.

For just about as long as I have had Finn I’ve been building this infographic in my head. As you will see below, he and I spend a lot of time walking together. And since he doesn’t always talk back to me, I spend the majority of the time thinking about random things. Like how many times he and I have passed El Famous Burrito when someone has NOT been taking a bite of a taco (4). Or whether or not crazy neighbor lady will squeal and ask what kind of dog Finn is today like she did yesterday and on Sunday. If you have a pet, or a child, you can probably relate. Dogs are very habitual. And so are their owners.

In typical Sarah fashion I underestimated the amount of design time actually needed to put my facts into visual form, but hopefully you will get where I’m headed. You may have read my past posts about all of the things my pup has ingested over his short year of life. Another episode this week, along with the celebration of Finn’s birthday a few weeks ago, finally gave me enough of a push to create an infographic about him. Without further ado, I give you:

greater swiss mountain dog infographic simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic pounds of food eaten simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic number of walks simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic dog beds used simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic objects eaten simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic visits to vet simply social blog

greater swiss mountain dog infographic love simply social blog

 

Happy Birthday Mr. Finn. I can’t believe how much you’ve grown.

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Now please stop eating foreign objects.

greater swiss mountain dog infographic love simply social blog

 

Running, Rock n’ Roll and Rap

Do you ever have those weekends so jam-packed with fun activities that you wish you could spread them out over the entire month so you wouldn’t have to shove them all into one blog post? Yeah me too.

You may be wondering why I am referencing this past weekend on a Wednesday and not my usual Sunday post. If you are, kudos to you. You are following my blogging schedule more closely than I expected. Please accept my apologies for the delay. If you aren’t (clearly anyone who is actually reading this) get ready for a completely random weekend recap.

I’ll fast forward through Friday and most of Saturday which were spent eating. Pasta, protein bar samples, chomps, electrolyte drinks. You name it, we indulged. If you’ve ever been to a race expo you can probably relate. It’s like hitting up Costco for sample Sunday, only for runners.

Saturday evening I got to spend some time with my lady friend Grayson while her parents had a date night. It was on our walk that I realized the reverse button on my iphone works not only for dog photos in the car, but for making sure the child you are responsible for is surviving your first attempt at wearing a baby bjorn. I got a lot of double-takes from the neighbors but Grayson seemed to enjoy herself. For that length of time anyway.

grayson

Sunday morning was the Rock n’ Roll half marathon here in Chicago. It also happened to be Matt’s birthday. I know what you’re thinking. Could there possibly be a better way to spend your birthday than waking up at 4:45 and running 13.1 miles in 80 degree heat? Of course not!

Matt and I decided to run separately this year because 1) he was planning on running super fast and 2) he was planning on running super fast. I took a lesson from last year’s race and didn’t throw a surprise party two nights before so any muscle cramping that would soon follow would be from his own doing. Thoughtful, I know.

rock n roll half marathon chicago team paws

Here’s how it went down.

6:00 a.m.-Decided to ride our bikes over to the race to save time. We would regret this decision in less than 3 hours.

6:15- Drop off gear at the TEAM PAWS tent. I am currently fundraising for TEAM PAWS for the Chicago Marathon so they were very nice to accommodate us. As for Matt, he just looks good in the singlet. 

6:30 a.m.-National Anthem begins. We hop into 6th corral (see reference to running speed for early corral placement)

6:38 a.m.-And we’re off. I forget to look at the clock to see how far behind the start we were. Like the biking, I’ll regret that later. 

6:48 a.m.-My Garmin woke up on the wrong side of the bed and is doing crazy dances all over the place. Either that or my oatmeal had some 2:42 second mile special sauce in it.

7:00 a.m.- I turn off my watch and decide I’ll just run it the old fashioned way. I spend the next 8 miles making casual small talk with runners until I feel comfortable enough to ask what pace they are running. None of them know either.

Miles 3-4- I consider jumping off the route on Adams and just going home. After all, I’m less than a block away and have worked up a sweat already. 

Miles 5-6- I knew those ridges on the Madison street bridge hurt my butt when I rode across them on my bike, but that has nothing on the wobbliness it causes a toe-runner like myself. 

just like Kevin

Miles 7,8,9- Oh I remember you 3 mile straightaway. You’re boring. And no one wants to come cheer along your roads. It’s hot. I take a diagonal towards a man misting people with a hose. The mist turns to full pour just as I pass through. Every piece of clothing I wear is now stuck to my skin.

Miles 10-11- Sponge Station! You better believe I squeezed the most out of that stop this year. And just as I took a deep breath to prepare for the dark tunnel of doom that is McCormick Place, a wheelchair racer pulled up next to me. I felt humbled to say the least. 

Mile 12- Is that a marriage proposal? Yep, those two just got engaged. At least she said yes. I’m too tired to take a picture and slightly jealous that he has an excuse not to run the last mile.

Mile 13- That whole kick it in the last tenth thing I can usually swing? Not happening today. Don’t trip. Don’t fall. Don’t make eye contact or you might melt down. 

And if you don’t believe me, my cousin’s girlfriend was kind enough to provide photo evidence.

finish photo courtesy of Caitlin Lisa Photography

finish photo courtesy of Caitlin Lisa Photography

And so wraps half marathon #6. Anyone who tells you they get easier each time 1) Probably ran one more than 4 days ago or 2) likes running in hot weather like crazy man Matt. Speaking of Matt, he crushed his PR. As for careful Sarah who always makes sure to make a perfect loop and properly secure her D-Tag to her shoe? Well, this is what she saw when she checked to see if she too broke her PR:

IMG_0290

Yep. No tracking tracked. Good day to turn off your watch Sarah. Argh.

But there was no time to dwell. We had a birthday to celebrate. And so we did. With cookie cake.

birthday

On Monday night, we joined 60,000 others for the Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert. I was looking forward to Justin and he didn’t disappoint, but the man of the night in my opinion was Jay Z. Beautiful Night. Great Friends. Awesome Show.

justin timberlake jay z legends of summer concert soldier field chicago

Believe it or not there were a few more activities jammed into the weekend but I’ll save those for another day. I need a nap.

Have a great week!

Thank you, Dad

I think I’ve been editing this post in my head for a number of years now. The bulk of it mostly tidbits of childhood memories, important life lessons and assorted sports trivia that pop up in random conversations and remind me of happy moments with my father.

It seems fitting then that in celebration of my father’s birthday this week that I share my thoughts. After all, he’s a writer so surely he’ll appreciate it more than most. That and I technically haven’t purchased an actual birthday present yet. Blog posts are better than golf clubs, right?

murf_birthday

I’ve mentioned my dad in posts before. By now you probably know of his unique sense of humor, love for sports and incredible luck when it comes to front-row parking spaces. It’s hard to sum him up in a few words, because, well I have a hard time summing anything up in just a few words. So instead I’ll offer my thanks.

So thank you Dad,

  • For teaching me that girls can do anything boys can do. And sometimes better. Specifically how to be the only girl who knows how to properly put on catcher’s gear on an all-boys coach pitch team.
  • For giving me a great last name. One that could get me into a restaurant even when I didn’t have a reservation. And one that allowed me to enjoy the perks of being Murf’s daughter in local establishments and state fairs.
  • And for a solid first name too. Although I think if you had your way I’d be named after one of the ’84 Romanian gymnasts but that’s another post entirely.
  • For telling me stories. About family. About sports. About politics. About family politics pertaining to specific sports.
  • For teaching me how to read a map, change a tire, drive and parallel park. Because you insisted on me learning in that order, I’ve never felt helpless on the road. And it’s because of you that I stop and smile when I squeeze my car into a spot that few other city dwellers could maneuver.
  • For never choosing favorites. Correction. For always choosing favorites. Your frequent “favorite daughter” references have left Anne and I befuddled as to who the favorite actually is. I assume that’s been your plan all along. Well played.
  • For teaching me how to fix things. When it came to emotional or physical breaks, there wasn’t much ice, an aspirin or electric tape couldn’t fix.
  • For having high grammatical standards. I’ve run a lot of races, but none have been as physically challenging as the dinner you challenged me to form sentences without using the word “like.” And for that I’m like totally grateful. Like totally.
  • For being patient. It’s not easy being a father of two daughters. Especially during the tumultuous water bra years.
  • For encouraging me to be independent, but helping me when I needed it. Disclaimer: this does not mean that I will ever get too old for cash day. One can never be too old for cash day.

And finally, for being the type of dad that makes it easy to write a laundry list of things I’m thankful for. Speaking of laundry, remember when you stopped folding ours the first time you found a thong?

To my dad, this birthday may not seem significant in number, but the challenges that he’s overcome over the past few months are significant to say the least. And like most situations, he’s handled them with hope, humility and a lot of humor. Just one more bullet to add to the list of things I’m thankful for.

Happy Birthday, Dad. Next year I’ll get you a golf club.

Jake and the Captain America Party

This weekend we celebrated my youngest nephew’s third birthday with a Captain America-themed bash. I can’t speak for your family, but birthdays are big in mine. Whether you are turning 2 or 92, each year your birthday is celebrated with cake, presents and the annual telling of the birthday story. Yes, the story is repeated each year without fail. It may seem redundant, but if anyone ever asks me about mine for witness testimony or otherwise, I’m happy to share the details including my Dad’s labor room attempt to try and name me after a Russian gymnast he was watching in the ’84 summer Olympics or that my initially low Apgar scores did NOT inhibit me from the honor roll after all.

captain america birthday party

I’m confident he’ll grow into the mask

Never one to miss a birthday or any party if I can avoid it, we decided to hit the road Saturday morning after I got my long run in. It would be a quick trip but worth it to take advantage of the nice weather our friends to the south had been enjoying all week long (not that I’m bitter or anything). We haven’t had great weather in Chicago this week (once again not bitter), but it was above 30 and dry and I actually thought I overdressed as I hit the first four miles or so.

April (snow) Showers from Sarah Murphy on Vimeo.

Then it started. Snow. And then in worsened. Heavier snow. No wait, that’s more like sleet. Oh hail. That’s a lot of hail. And I’m 5+ miles from home with no other option than to just put my head down and deal with it. And I wasn’t the only one. Each pack of runners I passed shared a head shake and a look of bewilderment with me as we scurried through the unseasonable weather like ants to a picnic. Only this was no picnic, folks. It was miserable. And because I was running solo my only chance at misery loves company was to take incessant amounts of iPhone photos and video to share with my family who was currently enjoying a warm 75 degree Saturday just 3 hours south of me. And so I did.

snow_saturday

The last photo in the sequence is back in my neighborhood at mile 10. That’s right. Blue skies and sunshine. Figures. I had a brief chat with a neighbor as I was stretching after and he summed it up nicely.

Are you heading out for a run? What a beautiful day. Looks like you’ll have great weather for it. 

Yes. It does look like that now doesn’t it. ARGH.

It’s amazing how much a little sunshine can lift your mood. Three hours of driving in the sunshine later, we arrived home to a balmy 65 degrees.

Jake’s party was held at a local gymnastics center. This was the same location we had Owen’s 5th birthday and if it were up to me, I’d drop my kids off there every Saturday when the weather was questionable just to let them run like crazies until they passed out. Whoever came up with this idea was genius. And the folks at the facility have a system down. They waste no time getting parties in and out. Two party rooms, 4 time slots each Saturday. Kids arrive, a brief rule set is described and particularly precocious ones listen closely.

captain america birthday party

I’m going to forget everything you said in 3, 2, 1

They line up and march down to Bounce House room for 1 hour followed by 25 minutes in the foam pit. Then its up to the party room for cake and presents for the last 45. Genius. First of all, this time frame fits perfectly with the attention span of three year-olds. They run. They jump. They play. They get all sugared up and crash before they even get home.

Jake’s marks the 10th birthday party my sister and I have thrown over the past few years for the boys. She get’s credit for most of the prep work this time a including saving the banner from Jake’s first birthday to use again. As the older sibling, she’s not one to hoard items like I do. She’s a purger. I have a hard time letting go of things for fear that I might need it for a Halloween costume 5, 6, 7 years down the road. We usually differ in this regard, but since we used similar colors for other parties, saving this banner turned out to be a simple yet nice addition to a blank party space.

captain america birthday party

Add some simple captain-themed cup cake toppers, some thank you tags and you have a quick and easy Captain America Party without a lot of fuss.IMG_3019

And no fuss means more time for play. And funny faces. Note: I highly recommend replacing the word “poop” for “cheeseburger” in attempts to get kids to smile. And judging from the photo below, I’d say Papoo and Jake enjoyed it most. You can clearly see they share a sense of humor. 

Papoo wanted in on the photo

Papoo wanted in on the photo

Once the kids had their fill of foam pit flipping and vinyl bounce house burns, we made our way up to the party room for cupcakes and presents.

captain america birthday party captain america birthday party IMG_3050

IMG_3023

Each party goer was sent home with a treat bag filled with popcorn from a local shop, fun party glasses and a kazoo to keep their parents entertained all the way home.

The party was fast and furious but fun nonetheless. Jake confirmed Sunday morning over blueberry birthday pancakes that he did in fact have a good birthday party but that his actual birthday was over Tuesday. Noted. And so with that we enjoyed our last little bit sunshine and a few signs of spring before heading back to the city.

daffodils

My mom has quite the green thumb

Here’s hoping the only remaining April showers are brief and followed by oodles of sunshine. Have a wonderful week!

Running in the Rain

I have a secret love for running in the rain. I think the positive association comes from all those years of spring soccer where field conditions allowed for overzealous slide tackles and everyone wanted to try their hand at goalkeeper. Why wouldn’t you? In the rain, balls either stopped dead in the box or you at least got a 90 minute mud facial without having to tip the esthetician. Whatever the case, when the clouds opened up just in time for my 7-miler on Saturday, the 7 year-old Sarah in me smiled.

I traveled home this weekend to pick up Finn and to celebrate a few birthdays. It was a beautiful day on Friday so I stopped at home and brought Finn with for some afternoon errands.  After all, it had been nearly two weeks and I really missed him.

finn_car

plotting his next move

But don’t let the sweet face fool you. Theres a Brian Urlacher hiding behind those eyes just waiting to come between you and the last 7 steps of a staircase if you leave him for too long. And apparently two weeks is just enough. Trust me. I’ve got the whiplash to prove it.

Time: Saturday, 6 a.m.

(Loud thud)

Mom: Don’t worry, Mike, I think that was just the dog.

(Sarah moans)

Mom: Oh no, nope that was Sarah. Oh Finny, what did you do?!

He just tried to make a lesson out of his momma, that’s what.

finn_couch

And while there were no additional murder attempts, the rest of the weekend was still rather eventful. March is not only the start of running in the rain season, but the kickoff to birthday season in my family as well. We began the bonanza with a surprise tennis-themed party on Saturday night and a brunch celebrating my mom’s birthday Sunday morning.

tennis_party

Tennis and Chocolate

macaroons frittata birthday

Celebrating Mom’s Birthday

Here’s to an early spring and a few more chances to get out and run in the rain. Have a great week!