Into and Out of It

Hey all!  Sorry I’ve been gone a bit. 

The truth is that sometimes I’m a little more into blogging than others.   True for a lot of things, right?!


Plus, the BOY and I just spent the most wonderful Thanksgiving in New York with my family!


And we’ve been busy getting back into work and life since we got back.  On top of that, I’ve also been a bit out of it. I returned from NY with a terrible cough and although I feel okay, I had little to no voice and was exhausted from all the coughing.  We’ve gotten back into our life groove and so now it’s time to get back into my blogging groove.  Can you believe, there is only one month of goals left in 2015?  No pressure!


November Goals

1. Figure out a fall/winter workout schedule.

I’m working on the details.  It is so tough for me to move my cardio indoors, but the BOY and I have been able to get to the gym together Tuesday mornings (we initially tried Thursdays = not so good).  I’ve also been able to get to some AM yoga classes, which has been AWESOME!


2. Cook, Bake, and Explore New Recipes

I think you probably noticed more recipes this month (especially compared with the last few).  A few favorites include Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies, Slow Cooker Honey Garlic Chicken, and Cheesey Stuffed Sourdough Loaf.

3. Clean/Organize our house.

We spent Halloween weekend doing a massive clean.  Our kitchen and office benefitted the most.  Although we still have some work to do in the garage, our house looks and feels better already.

4. Reconnect – I feel like I’ve been very wedding-centric recently, so I look forward to spending that time hanging with friends and family.

The best part of life!  It was a fun month getting together with friends and celebrating Thanksgiving with our family!



December Goals

Keep running (and sign up for a spring race)

Stay healthy

Get bikini ready…honeymoon here we come!

Slow down, stay grounded, and appreciate the last month of 2015


What are you goals?

What are you into and out of this month?

Still Sad

Thank you all so very much for your sweet words and support his past week!

When I learned that my grandfather had passed, I was somewhat surprised.  He was 2 months away from 103 years old, how could you be surprised, you ask?  My grandpa has been a fixture in my life for 33 years.  While other grandparents got sick and eventually passed, my grandpa was always bright, strong, and healthy.  When he ended up sick and in the hospital for the first time EVER in his 90’s, I was sad but not the slightest bit shocked to learn that he pulled through open heart surgery well and was telling jokes to the nurses day one after surgery.  After that, I made sure not to take for granted any of the time we had left together.


I have been down to Florida for at least his last 7 birthdays (and possibly more) documenting everything with photos and creating memories that are still vivid today (ie driving with him home from his birthday brunch the day after his 101st birthday).  I made sure to take a trip down with the BOY to introduce him early on and we often visited since, enjoying pancakes and stories by the pool.  I made sure that my grandpa knew that I loved him and shared all of the exciting moments of the past years, including my engagement with him.


Although we knew that his health and independence were declining, it was shocking to hear that grandpa’s body was aging and his quality of life impaired last week.  The news broke my heart but to hear that he passed quietly, without suffering, after recent visits from family and friends in the community was comforting.  And then, it was a quick transition to GO time.  Planning for a drive out east, rearranging my work schedule, coordinating phone calls with family, and taking care of the last minute little things before leaving for almost a week.


My mom and brother arrived in New Jersey first and it was a pleasant reunion when my dad, sister in law, the BOY, and I arrived.  We stayed with my cousins who have two young kids who were thrilled to see us and we were equally excited to spend time with them.  The week progressed with a mix of disbelief and celebrations of life.  There were stories to share, laughter amongst family, and hugs and tears.  I actually do not know the last time that I was in a room with my brother and all 5 of my cousins and I couldn’t help but appreciate this as the 7 of us, plus spouses, and kids got to know each other better at a family dinner.  The energy in the house was electric.  The celebration of life with the underlying tone of sadness.  At almost 103, there was more appreciation for the lifetime of lessons and legacy that Grandpa Al left us than loss.


I spent time in New Jersey and strolled through Washington Heights, NYC.  I bonded with my sister in law over family dynamics and smiled brightly as the BOY engaged in deep conversations gaining the trust of my family in between playing games with the kids.  His support during this time left me speechless with an entirely new level of appreciation for the life we are about to start together.


The days went by and at 5am yesterday morning, it was time to return home.  We ended up renting a second car to caravan home, reflecting on the week while beginning to plan for back to work, getting opinions about wedding plans and texting pins back and forth with my sister in law in the other car.  Once we crossed back into Illinois, we had a stop in the city, drove out to Ohare to return the rented car, then back to my parents to pick up our car before returning to our home and a slightly dazed and mostly annoyed Cooper. 


I sat back on the couch to sort through emails and bills and see the adorable face of my grandpa popping up on my blog screen and my throat gets tight as my eyes tear up as the overwhelming reality that I won’t hear him scream Jennifer loudly into the phone when I call hits, no slams into me.  And I am still sad…so very sad.

But I am also happy to have had 6 days surrounded by the love and support of family, creating more memories and passing down wisdom to the newest generation of great grandkids.  My grandpa would be so happy to know that we were all together!

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And so along with the sadness, this is what I will take with me over the next days, weeks, and years!

Keep on Dancing! {My Journey through RKY Training}



I can’t believe it took me this long to get around to writing this post, but I wanted to make sure that I had the time to really think and reflect on my experience in New York.  This opportunity came Wednesday night when I found myself walking in the door at 6pm.  Me…home by 6pm on a weeknight when I’ve already gotten in my run (30 minutes early in the morning) and it’s raining so I can’t fit in a bike ride…what’s a girl to do?


Well, I’ll tell you…

I spent some extra time loving and brushing Cooper, got started on making dinner, and then sat down to begin Sherlock Season III and blog a bit.  But I never blogged a bit and then the rest of the week got away from me.  Better late than never…right?!





A little history…

I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years.  I took my first class my senior year of college (don’t do the math) and was forever changed.  Over the past 10 years, yoga has served many purposes in my life.  There have been times when my practice is more consistent than others, but I have never strayed far from my mat.




In my job as a pediatric physical therapist, there has been plenty of room for yoga.  It is something that I have often recommended to my patients of all ages and abilities.  Even at my first job, I was this close (my fingers are very close) to taking a kids yoga certification.  Over the past few years, I’ve struggled to find the right place to refer my clients.  This became especially obvious when I started my new job in December.  It was during an inspiring yoga class downtown that it occurred to me that I should be teaching kids yoga.




My next step was to talk to the professionals and research some opportunities.  I didn’t take it lightly and spent way more time than I care to admit looking for yoga certification courses.  I really wanted an affordable, weekend course that I would walk away from with ideas that I could use immediately.  After much thought, I registered for the Rainbow Yoga Kids course in Brooklyn.  The course was coming to Chicago, but not until December and I was eager to take the class before summer in hopes of starting some yoga classes at work.




I am so grateful to have family in NY along with a close friend from junior high, and I knew Brooklyn would be an awesome place to explore my inner yogi.  I flew in Thursday morning and spent the entire day catching up with my cousins and playing in Manhattan.  Friday morning, I woke up early to take the train from Washington Heights to Brooklyn.




I was the first to arrive at Scared Yoga and was greeted warmly.  I was early enough to grab an iced tea before beginning my first day of training.  I had no idea what to expect and the first day impressed and surprised me!








There was playing, dancing, bonding, and fun.  At the end of the day, I was eager to see what the rest of the weekend had in store.




One of my favorite things about doing my training in New York was walking to and from the studio each day.  I walked 2 miles through the most interesting and eclectic neighborhoods and LOVED the fresh air and exercise.




Day 2, I was again one of the first to arrive.  There was a lot more fun as we mastered the steam roller…






And other games, acrobatics, and play ideas.  We did more dancing too!


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And we got through all of that before lunch…


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A group of us went to a local pizza joint.  You didn’t think I’d go to New York for a weekend without eating pizza did you?!  After lunch, there was more games, dancing, meditation, and plenty of ideas to bring back to the clinic with me!


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At the end of the day, we offered a community class for local families.  It was profound to see the impact yoga could have on everyone, especially the cutest 2 year old that you ever did see massaging my feet during our relaxation.  That night, I walked back to my friend’s house, showered, and began exploring Williamsburg.  There are tons of adorable boutiques and delicious restaurants.  We had a great night with more incredible food and catching up!




Sunday morning, it was back to the yoga studio for my last day of class.  Now that I kind of was getting a feel for the area, I knew where to stop for a chai tea latte on the way.  The instructors plan was to not give us our manuals until the last day.  Although it was tough not to have everything written out during the first 2 days, it really forced us to live in the moment and learn through movement. 


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Sunday started with a creative and unique obstacle course complete with…well, everything!










Then we had a snack and a chat…by day 3, I’d say we were all pretty close and eager to share stories and ideas!


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It was good to have the energy since we then moved on to the yoga gym and acrobatics.


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As an ex gymnast, this was right up my alley and I’ve already tried some of these moves with the kids, which they love.  For my last lunch, I went to my new favorite place in Brooklyn, called Scratch Bread.


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It has the most delicious food (thinking about the grit bowl has my mouth watering as we speak) and I became addicted to this ‘tonic’, which consisted of citrus, carrots, and ginger.  It was so refreshing and perfect for eating lunch out in the hot sun after a morning of yoga fun.




Although I had learned a lot, I still felt like there was more to fit into the last afternoon and I knew that I needed to leave a little early to make it to the airport on time.


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The afternoon involved creating poses, vinyasa flows, and stories.  It was also our chance to put together a short sample class.




We took our graduation picture and parted ways with intentions to continue on our yoga journey and keep sharing ideas and energy as we grow!  I found myself sad to leave Brooklyn, Sacred studio, my friends (old and new) and family…wishing that I had just a few more days to explore, walk, dance, and play!






So after all of the pictures, I’m sure you can already tell,…

What were my overall thoughts of RKY training?

I loved it!  I loved spending the weekend in New York and immersing myself in the Brooklyn and yogi lifestyle!  It was special to spend a weekend with like minded people soaking up their energy and creativity.  The training itself was practical, functional, and fun.  I returned back to the clinic with more than enough ideas to plan the 6 week yoga session we were offering for my youngest two age groups.  I did not feel that I got as many ideas for the high school aged group.  And the weekend focused more on movement and games than it did on instructing kids into the basic poses (ie Warrior I).  I got more than I anticipated out of the weekend and have already found some other trainings that can fill the knowledge gap with the older groups that I am hoping to take soon.  We packed a lot into 3 days that takes you through a slew of emotions.  For some, this journey was more emotional while others purely educational, but either way it was a life altering weekend and the start to an exciting road ahead.





#I Miss NYC!

I am back, exhausted, and already missing my long weekend in NYC!




I flew home late last night and worked all day today, so I’ll just give you a quick recap.  I was in downtown Manhattan before 11am on Thursday morning.  I walked down to the Met.  Despite all of my trips to New York, I have never been to the museum before.




It was incredible and because I was traveling by myself, it was a selfie kind of day.


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All of the art work and antiques were gorgeous, but the most breath taking view was from the rooftop garden.




It was so picture perfect with the clear blue sky and famous skyline…no editing was needed!




I spent my first night in Manhattan with family and then took the train down to Brooklyn on Friday morning for my first day of Rainbow Kids Yoga Training.





My Rainbow Kids Yoga Training was nothing shy of incredible!  I feel like it may deserve a post of it’s own, but here are a few highlights…


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Spending time in Brooklyn, commuting by foot, and eating well just completed my experience.







I was super sad to say goodbye to all my new friends and leave this eclectic city!

But I know that I will be back REAL soon!



What is your favorite part of NYC?

Whirlwind Weekend Continues in NYC

The whirlwind weekend continued when my brother, his girlfriend, and I drove into NYC Friday after Thanksgiving.  The plan was to meet up with my cousins up north and then train down towards the High Line.  This stunning ped path has been on my brother’s ‘to see’ list and he was excited to check it out.  We planned to stop for lunch first and somehow stumbled upon this legit German beer garden in the meat packing district.


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We snacked on pretzels and beer and played a little ping pong.


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Then made our way to the High Line.  The path was busy as the sun was just starting to set.








There is some interesting art work, unique architecture, and beautiful 360 degree views along the path.  We all remarked how neat it would be to live so close to such a cool place!




It was a chilly but fun way to spend the afternoon!




When we started to feel cold, we popped back into a local bar for some mulled cider and a pre dinner snack.  Then made our way back along the High Line after sunset, which was remarkable!




We ate dinner at posh restaurant near the start of the High Line passing Cameron Diaz (we think, maybe) on our way out the door.  My cousin’s wife and son headed back home while the 4 of us embarked on what can only be described as an impromptu bar crawl.  We found some life music, the oldest pub in Manhattan, and ski ball (which apparently I rock at!).








And then the evening ended at the BOY’s all time favorite place in all of New York!




You can guarantee that I sent him this picture as he was studying for finals back home in Chicago and jealous doesn’t even begin to describe it!  He called requesting I bring him home some pastrami, and this picture has become the new background of his phone.




BTW, I would be willing to bet that in at least one photo on this blog has the BOY sporting his Katz’s Deli shirt because he travels with it EVERYWHERE.  I am a huge fan of New York and love spending time in NYC.  Getting to spend some QT with my cousin and his family along with my brother and girlfriend was memorable!  It definitely took us me some time and sleep to recover for our adventure, but it was well worth it!




We had one last day in New York/New Jersey to catch up with some old friends of my parents and celebrate another night of Hanukkah with my family.  Everyone is already looking forward to coming to Chicago for my brother’s wedding next summer and many more Thanksgiving traditions have been started!


Who has been to the High Line?

Have you ever eaten at Katz’s Deli?

Whirlwind Weekend

It all began last Tuesday night…

After work, I drove to my parents, changed into comfy clothes, piled into the backseat of my parents car, drove to the city to pick up my brother, and the four of us headed east for Thanksgiving. 




I slept through the night crammed into the back seat with plenty of pillows and blankets.  We hit some snow and ice in Indiana, but for the most part, made great time.  We arrived in New Jersey Wednesday morning just in time to go pick up my cousin’s adorable kids from school.



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My cousins live in an awesome town in New Jersey and our first stop (after lunch) was downtown for some tax free pre Thanksgiving shopping and Starbucks.  When we got back home, everyone sat around the dinner table to catch up on life.




After dinner, it was back to the kitchen for Thanksgiving prep.  It was a team effort pulling together homemade stuffing and mashed potatoes before crashing for an early evening.  Thursday morning, we were up WAY before the sun for parade day.




We drove into the city and found a parking spot within walking distance of our location on 68th.  A few of us went off to Starbucks for a warm beverage and a bathroom.  The line was outrageous, but thankfully Magnolia Bakery opened up at 7am with warm coffee and tea and incredible pastries.






We had over an hour before the start of the parade, so a simple game of I Spy kept us all busy!




When the clowns came skating down the street, we knew the parade would be right behind!




Two years ago when we went to the parade, I took tons of pictures, so I tried to get some different snap shots this year.  There were some old favorites and a few new faces along the route, plus a local Chicago marching band.  As you can see, despite the threat of heavy winds, it was a gorgeous day!


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After Santa’s arrival (signifying the end of the parade), we followed the masses back to our car.




We drove up to northern Manhattan to pick up some family members who opted out of the parade and then drove out to Rockland county where my cousin and his wife were hosting this year’s Thanksgiving.




It was a beautiful feast and the house rang with chatter and laughter (from the adults as much as the kids) from the moment we arrived until the last person fell asleep!




After dinner, the kids were super excited to celebrate the second night of Hanukkah!  I should tell you that the BOY and I do our own Hanukkah celebration, but it is WAY more fun celebrating with family, especially this enthusiastic crowd.  Friday morning, I woke up to an adorable girl in pink plopping into my bed and asking if I wanted to see what was in her purse.   How sweet is that???


I have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but 4 days surrounded by amazing family is definitely top on my list!

This, That, and Another Thing (or Two)

After a whirlwind holiday weekend filled with food, family, dreydal, more food, and a massive parade…and maybe throw in a bar crawl and some NYC love, I have returned home. 


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Obviously, I am excited to share my stories of holiday shenanigans, but after 6 months, my fun employment has come to an end : (  Tomorrow, I am starting my new job and I had a lot to catch up on today.  Some of it boring (does anyone do as much laundry as I do?) while other things more fulfilling (I did buy another new pair of shoes at Nordstrom Rack today).  And got in a 4 mile run along the path this morning before ending my errands at the grocery store.  The BOY is in the midst of finals and I am starting a totally new schedule, but we gave meal planning a go for this week, but kept it simple.


Meal Plan 12/02/13

Monday: Fajita Night


Tuesday: Cherry BBQ Crockpot Pulled Chicken


Wednesday: Leftovers


Thursday: Pork Tenderloin and Broccoli


Friday: TBD





The pulled chicken was super easy.  Just place 1 cup of BBQ sauce (preferably awesome and from Door County) in the bottom of your crockpot.  Add two chicken breasts and cook on low.  When chicken is tender and starting to pull apart, shred with two forks and let heat in pot for another 30 minutes.  Mmmmm!




I definitely missed the BOY while I was gone, but couldn’t believe how big (and heavy) Cooper looked when I got back last night.  After he thoroughly inspected my bags, we wasted no time assuming our cuddled up position on the couch!




On a blog related note, I came home to 197 messages in my SPAM, so I obviously didn’t read through all of them.  I apologize if you left me a message that got lost in Spam Land.


And one last thing to share (I promise because I have to go to bed early and if I keep sharing we could be here all night), I entered the 2014 NYC Marathon Lottery today.  Fingers crossed and I’ll be running through all 5 boroughs next November.



Maybe One Day

Throughout our time out East, we moved between New Jersey and New York, visiting and passing through most of the 5 boroughs.  On our way from New Jersey out to Long Island, we drove through Staten Island.




I don’t know if I have ever been to or through Staten Island before, but after the Chicago marathon last October, I added the NYC marathon to my bucket list.  As we were crossing over the Verrazano Bridge, my cousin mentioned that this is the exact start of the marathon…right here on the upper and lower levels of THIS bridge.


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I pulled out my camera to snap a few photos of the bridge, and as we drove across, I began thinking that MAYBE one day, I would be back here in running shoes, filled with anxiety, and about to start a 26.2 mile adventure!




My goal would be to try for 2013, but with a race this popular, I’m not sure I would get it.  But, who knows???  Maybe one day!


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We headed on about our day driving through new neighborhoods and over different bridges, but I couldn’t help thinking about the Verrazano bridge leaving Staten Island and leading runners on their latest endeavor.





Have you run the NYC marathon? 

Anyone else have it on their bucket list?

Black Friday In NYC

I am not typically a Black Friday shopper. I think it was all of those years working retail through high school and college that turned me off from the mall on crazy days like the Friday after Thanksgiving or the Monday after Christmas.  My mom and I have been known to hit up an Old Navy on Thanksgiving (What?  It’s right next to the Jewel when get our last minute groceries).  This year on Black Friday, I found myself in Washington Heights (the north tip of Manhattan) on another 60 degree and sunny day (we had beautiful parade weather too!).  My only requirement for this day was that I wanted to get moving.  When my cousin suggested a walk down to the lighthouse under the George Washington bridge, I thought it was a wonderful idea.  I laced my my sneakers and we all hit the road.




We wandered through Washington Heights, enjoying the sunshine and views of this unique neighborhood.  My cousin and his wife have lived here a few years and are super knowledgeable about the area’s history.





My mom mentioned something about being ‘green’ and my cousin immediately suggested that we check out the High Line.  I had no idea what they were talking about, but since none of us had ever seen it, we figured would be a fun thing to do and the perfect way to spend our afternoon.  We made our way to the subway and headed down south.


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I must admit, I’m not exactly sure which stop we got off at.  But it was a beautiful day and we continued to walk through the streets.  We walked past a gorgeous building with a sign out front.  My cousin’s wife immediately recognized it as an artisan market for up and coming designers.  The ladies headed straight in while the boys went in search of some food.





Inside the market, we found the most wonderful clothes and I fell in love with this Japanese designer.  Her clothes were unique, adorable, and flattering.  Plus, they were totally affordable.  I could have bought everything, but settled on two fabulous tops.


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The market was full of clothing, jewelry, and accessories and probably the least crowded (and underrated) Black Friday shopping area.  If you live in NYC, check it out.  I know that I’ll be going back soon!




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We left the market bags in hand and headed towards the meatpacking district.  I hadn’t been down here in YEARS and couldn’t help but referencing the Sex In The City episode where Samantha gets into a fight with the drag queens outside her window in this up and coming neighborhood.





We entered the High Line at Gansevoort Street with more than enough time to walk the trail, enjoy the view (don’t worry, I took tons of pictures), and soak in the afternoon sunshine.  I loved spending the day with my family and getting to catch up on life.  We walked all the way down to west 30th Street, and I was happy that I wore my gym shoes.



It was one of my favorite days in NYC and a much better way to spend the nation’s most popular shopping day than fighting crowds at the mall!  Plus, I got to grab a street pretzel for the train ride back home…a yummy treat!


When Life Throws You Hurricanes…


Friday was my 30th birthday.  I have been looking forward to celebrating this weekend for some time.  Turning 30 is a fun milestone, and I feel lucky to have accomplished all that I have in such a short time and to be surrounded by such wonderful family and friends.  For this weekend, I had planned some relaxation, a little pampering, and sangria with my friends and family.  Unfortunately, the passing of a family member last week quickly changed the weekend plans.  I found out Wednesday morning that my uncle had passed after a courageous battle with cancer.  So Wednesday night, my family packed, hopped in the car, and drove out to NY/NJ for the funeral.  Let me tell you…4 adults is a 5 seater car is always an adventure. 



The boys did most of the driving/navigating (thank goodness for Garmin) and I did some reading in the backseat.  Although, I mostly slept!


My mom didn’t want me to feel forgotten around my birthday so she gave me one of my Birthday presents in the car…a Romero Britto Micky Mouse keychain.  You may recognize his artwork from my heart Gavitar.


We have wonderful friends and family in the NY/NJ area who are always happy to house us when we come to visit, even on short notice.  Although a devastating time, it was comforting to be surrounded by family.  We cried, we laughed, and we told stories sitting around the table enjoying some New York pizza and favorite desserts.  I’m not sure why these black and white cookie are so hard to find in Chicago.  They are my favorite!



On the morning of my birthday, I was filled with mixed emotions.  It was a difficult day of grieving, but also a time for celebration.  I got to use the special birthday mug for my morning tea and enjoy some New York bagels for breakfast.



I have sat in a lot of traffic in my day, but never as much as when I am in New York.  And New York city evacuating for a hurricane is a whole different level.  There were people selling water on the bridges as we crept along the highway.  It took us over 3 hours to get back from Long Island that afternoon.  Luckily, we packed some bottles of water for the hot day and found some Gardetto’s in the back to snack on.



We also had a sing-a-long to the Beatles ‘Hey Jude’ which was a nice release after a tense day.



My family is so thoughtful that they made time to sing me Happy Birthday with a carvel ice cream cake (and a guitar) that evening.  This brought tears to my eyes!  I have never celebrated a birthday with my family, all five of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family.  A sad time brought us together, but created a special birthday memory for me.




The next day, the hurricane was rolling closer and more and more people were evacuating.  Not knowing exactly what that would mean for us, we packed up our car again with all of our belongings.  We were in charge of replenishing supplies before heading out to my cousin’s house.  What we didn’t plan for was how crazy crowded the Costco would be or how we would fit all of our provisions in our already full car.





The day began with a house full of friends and their children, leaving plenty of time for dress up.  I was told that I was too big for a tiara. I believe you are never too old for a tiara.


Throughout the day, time was spent catching up with family and looking through photo albums old and new, relieving past vacations, weddings, and other family events. The weather was mostly calm until the rain began that evening.  Nobody knew exactly what to expect, so 16 of us (my family, my aunt, 3 cousins, their wives and children) filled the house with inflatable beds, pillows, and blankets.  My brother pointed out that it was the first time all of us were under one roof in years.




The kids cuddled up with a movie while the adults gathered together on one big couch to watch the storm progress.  We pulled out some drinks and snacks.  We talked about the day and shared fun stories from the past.  After a difficult few days, it was wonderful to hear the room filled with laughter as we celebrated family.  Until finally we were so tired it was time to claim a bed!





What a memorable way to end the weekend!

The next time life throws you a hurricane…

Surround yourself with the people you love.

Take time to talk, tell stories, laugh, and cry.

Create memories that you will share with generations to come.

And be thankful you’re able to sit back, reflect, and find the joy hidden inside the storm!