October 29, 2009

Stephanie's Emailing Rules

Not to go off on a tangent or anything but this is something I've been wanting to blog about for a while and as the days go on, the more and more emails I receive where someone has cc'd me on an email about something totally unrelated to everyone else on the distribution list except that we all have the sender as our common interest. As if that isn't annoying enough, it is taken a step further when each of those receiving the email hit "reply-all" and I then am bombarded with a half million peoples thoughts and feelings about whatever the forward, update, announcements or whatever are.

First, let me be clear and state that I am not talking about business emails or personal emails to a group of friends trying to arrange a dinner date or the such. This speaks specifically to general emails wanting to forward something they absolutely have to share with everyone or to make a general announcement.

In my opinion there should be a really good reason that someone is sending an email to friends/family in the cc instead of bcc. It is the senders responsibility to protect the recipients privacy (email addresses) and add everyone through bcc. However, in the rare case one should choose to send an email and cc everyone, it should be assumed it is a close group of friends and everyone knows everyone. It is only after you've established that everyone knows everyone and really, truly, positively believe that it's necessary to let everyone you're emailing know that you're emailing all your other friends too, then by all means, use the cc. Though need I state once more, it is a very very rare situation that the cc should be used.

So now that we have the etiquette of sending email via cc...lets move on.

Should your friend not obey the rules stated above and you are receiving some horrific news that your friends uncle has passed...or your best friends cousins, brothers grandmas great-grandsons been murdered in a gang fight....or some exciting news that your friends eloping to Vegas tomorrow or their expecting quadruplets, it is now up to YOU to respond accordingly. Please, I beg you, please only respond to those who are really affected by whatever it is you have to say. There is no need to send your congratulations or sympathies to everyone on the distribution list! As if it's not bad enough that this person has shared your email address with a million other people, please make it stop there and not draw attention to this annoyance! Though the reply-all button may be begging to be clicked simply ignore it and click reply. Or better yet, send the person a real heart-felt card via snail-mail. But that's a topic of conversation for another time. Happy emailing!

October 26, 2009

Think Pink with Striders With Hope!

Back in 2005 one of my first events I had was to help recruit walkers and help with the logistics for the American Cancer Society's breast cancer walk, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. I've always loved everything about this walk and especially where the money goes. I'm proud to say that I worked for the American Cancer Society since I believe that the money goes to cancer research. I've been involved in this walk in some capacity from working it, having bar fundraising parties or walking it since 2005 and this year was able to form a very small team but our team was over to raise $1,000! (a huge thanks to Ellis for raising over 3/4 of that!) The walk was a beautiful 5 miles on the north side of Chicago along parts of the bike path, around Montrose Harbor and then back along the lake. It's such a wonderful way to feel like you're making a difference in the lives of those who are battling, are survivors and who have lost their lives to this devastating disease. Thanks so much to my team, "Striders With Hope," Ellis, Josh, Les, Beth, Jason and Carli for fundraising and/or participating last Sunday, October 18!

Also, a huge thanks to those who donated to our team, Sarah, Brooke, Michelle, Mom & Dad, Rob and Beth!! Though it seems like everywhere you turn there's a pink ribbon this month, it's for a good reason. Early detection is KEY! So be sure to to do your monthly breast-self exams and women over 40 should call to schedule a mammogram. For more information about early detection guidelines for breast cancer (and other types of cancer) click here. Think Pink!

October 24, 2009


In May of '07 the church I used to attend (Park Community Church) put together a babysitters list which would be distributed to parents who attended Park. The idea was to be that this list was only shared between those attending Park, which would serve as a way of finding a babysitter who shares the same Christian values...however, that wasn't the case and I was getting calls for different babysitting opportunities weekly. The jobs ranged from one-time jobs sitting at a hotel for children from another state while their parents attended weddings to full time 8-5 nanny jobs. Obviously the full-time jobs weren't something I was able to do but the hotel jobs worked well several times and paid really well!

In June, I met with a family who lived 2 blocks from my apartment and met Andrew, a 6 month old, who I would start watching every Monday. Here it is over 2 years later and no post on this blog can explain my excitement in being able to share in all of Andrew's milestones. At first, it was when he would be able to sit up, then when he started crawling, and walking...then his first words. (he went from not even attempting my name to saying it nearly perfectly!) Now in the past couple months he is potty trained and in a big boys bed. He even switched rooms...to make room for his new little sister who is expected in the next couple weeks!! (AHHH!!!) From the very first day I started watching watching Andrew, he has always been smiles and laughs. I've never met a baby, now little boy, with such a happy outlook on life. Every night I tuck Andrew in I tell him I love him and I really mean it from the bottom of my heart. It's been such a wonderful opportunity to be part of his life on a weekly...now about a bi-weekly basis. I am so blessed to have been part of his life the past couple years and cannot wait to meet his little sister in the next few days/weeks!

October 19, 2009

We're Engaged!!

Last year when Jason was traveling every week I planned a little "get-away" trip to Michigan to go apple-picking and go to a local winery all while the colors were changing. That trip was so much fun and I realized this was a way to really appreciate the season of Fall as I generally dread the changing colors since it's just a sign of winter quickly approaching.

Though Jason wasn't traveling nearly as much as last year (Woo hoo!!) I thought it may be fun to plan a trip this year but instead to Wisconsin...my favorite midwestern state. My mom's family used to go camping to Devil's Lake every year which is a gorgeous state park with a beach and bunch of hiking trails. Our weekends had been filling up quickly and since there's only a couple weeks of pretty trees I knew I had to plan it while we still could. I asked Jason if we could take a one night trip (our only free night in a month) to Wisconsin for a hike. We booked the trip a few weeks ago through Orbitz and the plan was to drive up on Friday afternoon, spend the night in the Dells and then spend Saturday hiking with a break to eat a brown-bagged lunch and then head back to the city that same evening for a good nights rest before the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday.

We ended up getting a late start on Friday so we got stuck in typical Friday Chicago traffic and got to the Dells around 7:00 or so. We went to dinner and then headed back to the hotel and watched a movie. I took my time waking up as I generally do and we finally got on the road around 10:30 or 11:00. We fueled up for our big hike at Denny's that morning. I had made a comment to Jason teasing him that it was Sweetest Day but didn't really pay much attention to it since neither one of us really celebrate. So after I had my first peice of pumpkin pie of the year (definetly a blog about my love for this to come!) we headed off to Devils Lake. The drive was only about 20 minutes and was gorgeaous as we traveled down country roads.

When we got to the park I took my sweet time changing into my gym shoes, layering up about 10 layers because I was worried about being cold. We spent about 10 minutes in the car scouting out the best trail on the map. Then we walked around looking for a while in search of a bathroom. I say all this to share in how slowly I was moving...in no hurry for what was about to come next! We finally began walking and veered off to a path to the right and started our long trek up the hills. As we were climbing I was huffing and puffing and pealing all those layers off one by one! I couldn't understand why Jason wasn't as tired as me...I always thought I was the one in better shape! ;-) Anyway, we're hiking up this hill and stepped off to the side a couple times to take a quick breather. When we got close to the top I saw a man taking a picture of 3 people so I asked him if he wanted me to take it of all 4 of them. When we stopped to take the picture I wanted to look over the bluff at the gorgeous tress and lake. While we were standing there taking in the gorgeous site Jason asked, "You know I love you, right?" I replied, "Yes." Jason then asked, "You know I want to spend the rest of my life with you, right?" I responded with "Yes" but admitedly was thinking "when is he ever going to want to marry me?!" Right then Jason gave me a big hug and dropped to his knee and asked me to marry him! He was so nervous and I was just so shocked. I just kept repeating over and over, "Are you serious? Really? You're kidding, are you really serious?" Finally he said, "You haven't even said yes yet!" So I, of course, said yes, but kept asking him if this was for real!

We stood there for a while just taking it all in, big smiles on both of us and captured some pictures. I told the couple who was taking our picture that he had just propsed so the woman was all excited for us and ran over to see my ring and then made us pose with my hand on Jasons chest. Cheesy but I know, but I knew I'd appreciate that later.

Since we'd only been hiking about 10-15 minutes when he proposed, we still had a lot of ground to cover but all I kept thinking and saying was, "We're Engaged!!!!" :) We had terrible cell reception (darn AT&T iphones!!!) but we were able to call my parents and share the good news. Mom was completely shocked and started crying so she handed the phone off to my dad who also was shocked and happy. After our hike we called/texted friends and family. We skipped out on the bagged lunch and went to Olive garden in Rockford to meet my parents to show them the ring. (they were at the lake house so it worked out perfectly!)
I am still on cloud 9, as excited as ever. We've been researching to set a date and location which is proving to be more work than I had thought but am confident it will all come together in the right time. Though the wedding details make it a challenge, we are trying to remember to bring it back to God as our center of planning and know He will provide. I couldn't be more excited to spend the rest of my life with such a wonderful, loving man!

Click the small picture to view all of the pics from the proposal! :)

October 15, 2009

Healthy Choices

Jason and I are attempting to eat better and work out. My goal is to lose 10 lbs. I have no idea what that will look like, I may need to lose more after that, but 10 lbs is my starting point. It's hard to eat a low cal/low fat diet, especially while dating Jason who chooses pizza when we pull up to Panera to get salads because there's a Little Caesar's next store offering $5.99 medium pizzas! (wondering at what point he's going to ask me to hold him accountable!?) I know I need to cut wine out but that's quite a challenge too! I'm thinking that the stress from dieting may cause me to drink more wine...so why cut it all at once, right? Baby steps. We've been making more of an effort to take the stairs and walk (at a brisk pace!) everywhere. I've even started using that XSport pass as more than just an accessory on my keyring. I'm also hoping Meredith and I will begin Saturday morning pilates again. (LOL, again...I think I met her there once last Spring!) I love working out and love even more the way it makes me feel afterwards! I also have PLENTY of time on my hands to fit a work-out (or two...or three) in a day, so no more excuses!! Won't someone hold me accountable for this? Or better yet, anyone want to join me on this way to a healthier living?

*above image from tin8toppee's blog

October 14, 2009

#629. Raising Dorks

One of my favorite blogs is written by Jonathon Acuff, called "Stuff Christians Like." He is in the process of writing a book very similar to his posts in his blog. I thought this post was not only funny (as most of his are) but also enlightening. Jason teases me all the time that if it was up to my my children are going to live in a bubble, but I don't agree. Yes, I will be protective but I also I want my children to experience life which means they're going to have to fall a few times. (and hopefully bounce right back up!) That's all part of growing up. Though I am aware it may be odd that I keep sharing other peoples blogs on my blog, I really liked the way Jonathon wrote about this topic. I hope for any parents out there who may read my blog you will take a minute to read what Jonathon has to say about children growing up as dorks. And if you don't already I highly recommend you checking out his other posts for a good chuckle. :)

Read on....#629. Raising Dorks

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October 13, 2009


I have had my fair share of "best friends" growing up. I've always been the type of girl who has many friends at one time...and now that I am older, my friends are all from different parts of my life. But there are 3 "best friends" who were there when I needed them most and there are girls in my life now who are there when I need them the most!

It was about 2-3 months ago that I was at the Target on Elston behind a girl with an adorable little, blond-haired boy. I wasn't paying much attention as I unloaded my items from the cart but then realized the mom resembled someone I used to be very close with. After staring but trying really hard not to be obvious, I figured out that it was, in fact, my best friend, Jen, from college. I had met Jen my second year at ISU and our friendship blossomed into more than just ISU memories to hanging out over the summer and holidays and even got to know each others families. I don't remember the specifics of what went exactly wrong but know it happened when I was going through my "hard times" in 2002-2004. After a couple years of not talking, we ran into each other and decided to grab a drink together to "work things out" but we both quickly realized we each had too many issues to work past and decided to go our separate ways. I am very comfortable now knowing we gave it our best but have gone our separate ways but that day at Target broke my heart.

This past Friday night, Jason and I went to dinner with a couple from our small group to Wildfire and I was excited because I hadn't been there since Cari and I had been there a couple years back. That night I learned that her brother still works there (and was serving all the tables surrounding us!) and seeing him and being there brought back a ton of memories. Cari and I met through a mutual friend around the same time of the original falling out with Jen. After going to Florida with our mutual friend we became best of buds and did everything together. She was a huge part of my life while I was going through my "hard times", which sadly, combined with her losing her father, was in the end part of what ruined us. We both attended NIU at the same time and even had a class together since I was a psychology minor which was her major. She was as big of a Cubs fan as me so we went to a couple AZ Spring Trainings together and would watch most regular season games and all of the play-offs together. She practically lived with me on the weekends when I was in my studio in Boystown. We never had a falling out, it was just that me and her had different ideas of how to deal with life's harder issues and it became obvious that we couldn't remain friends. (her words...not mine) I have since reached out to her and and am comfortable in that she knows how much I love her but that's the extent of us ever talking again.

Lastly, there was my best friend from 3rd grade through high school, Melinda. All I will say about her was that we were each others halves growing up but our lives went different ways. We, however, have been in touch recently via email and have been updated and will continue to update each other through yearly Christmas cards which is the most I could ever hope for. (and her parent's dog is my parents dogs brother...how cute is that!?)

The purpose in me sharing all this is that I have been hurt badly by friendships. We all struggle with relationships with the opposite sex -- I know I have had my fair share of heart-ache through break-ups, but girlfriends aren't supposed to "break-up." I have had the unfortunate luck (or maybe I was just a bad friend?) with my bestest and closest girlfriends. It is because of that that I have always been very hesitant get close to girls. It's bad enough that girls can be so cliquey and gossipy! However, these past couple weeks have been pretty hard for me. Besides God, I have found myself looking to more than just Jason who I share everything with. I mean, lets admit it...there's some times you really just need a girls opinion or advice. It was today on my way home from meeting a friend for coffee that I realized I have grown very close to a few girls the past 3-4 years and it has been these girlfriends who have been there for me in ways I never could have expected. Whether it's been with a phone call, a card , a loving email, text or just a comment or reaction they may have to something going on in my life, they have been there for me! It made me take a step back and realize that though I was hurt pretty badly and was afraid of not ever letting myself get "close" to a girlfriend again, I have and am so very thankful for that. I feel like as we get older, we have different needs from our friends but I am very excited to know that I have a few girls I can really count on when I need them...and because I have more than just one "best friend" each friend can help me when I need it most in their own special way. I also realize that those 3 "best friends" were there for a season of my life to help me when I needed it most. Thanks girls for being there for me. I hope I am and will always there when you need me the most...and you know who you are!

October 8, 2009

Chaz - 2/13/06-10/5/09

So it's been a couple days and it's finally sinking in about Chaz. My "dog trapped in a cat body" took his final breath on Monday, October 5. When I write it like that it sounds so dramatic, but it really was. Unless you've had a pet who you love and care for, I believe it's hard to understand what an animal might really mean to someone. As many people have written me this week, our animals really do have a way of becoming part of our family, and I couldn't agree more. So back in February Chaz got really sick and was throwing up for a couple weeks. After he stopped eating and drinking entirely, I brought him into the vet for a 2nd time for some fluids because we were still waiting on some test results but in the meantime he was becoming lethargic and dehydrated. The date happened to be on my 30th birthday. The vet was convinced that Chaz had an enlarged heart and also had cancer and I was told to put him to sleep that same day. Being that I was already feeling sorry enough for myself for having to be at the vet on my 30th birthday and that Jason was out of town on my "big day," I knew it was something I didn't want to do that day. I went home that night and spent the evening crying on the couch with Chaz taking what I thought would be some final pictures of him. I prayed a lot that night thanking God for the best 3 years with my Chazzy. (I got Chaz in Feb of '06 but was told he was 5 years old when I brought him home.) Though I was extremely sad about having to say my goodbyes to Chaz the following day, I was also very thankful for my time with him. The next morning I was awaken to a purring and chipper Chaz begging for attention and he was back to himself again! He was eating and drinking and perfectly fine. I couldn't believe it. It was like he used one of his 9 lives and was well again! In April, the boys and I moved to a much larger apartment and within a month Chaz and Sam were no longer overweight. The place allowed for much more running around and chasing! Chaz would still have what I would call "asthmatic coughs" when Sam was chasing him but he was healthy otherwise. About a week ago, Chaz had thrown up but I had blamed it on the new food I was trying for them. I ended up leaving for the weekend on Friday and came home on Sunday night. Both Sam and Chaz were excited to see Jason and I and sat on the couch with us cuddling and purring and then did their normal night routines taking their place in my full-size bed. When we were all on the couch, I remember commenting to Jason as I have many times, "Oh yeah, all four of us have to be on the couch! Guess the boys love it as much as me!" Monday morning was my normal routine, Jason working from the couch with me and Chaz next to him while I searched the internet for jobs. After Jason left I decided to shower, which I normally wouldn't have done until much later in the day but for some reason felt like I needed to shower. All seemed normal. I took my shower which was about 8 minutes long because any longer than that and I run out of hot water. When I got out, Chaz was in the bathroom which is normal, but the door was open all the way, which normally he'd just open it enough to slide in. Chaz crawled to the side of the bathroom by the door and I was teasing him that he was laying against the door to make sure Sam couldn't get in. That was when I realized something was very wrong. Chaz was breathing very heavily and couldn't move his hind legs. Not knowing what to do, instead of getting hysterical, I called Jason and told him that I thought Chaz had a stroke and was taking him to the vet but to pray because I was so scared. I knew from the very second I saw him that this was the end but I just wanted to be able save Chaz from any discomfort and confusion. He kept trying to move but his back legs weren't working. So after I got him into his carrier we were off to the vet, my hair still dripping and not even sure that I had my shirt on the right way. The vet was trying to explain to me what happened so she could put him to sleep but I already knew. It was his enlarged heart and as soon as I told her he about the heart she matter-of-factly confirmed it was a blood clot and that he was in a lot of pain. I will spare you the details about Chaz in that hospital room but he was not his normal self and I just wanted him to be free of whatever he was feeling. I stayed with him while they put him to rest and told him how much I loved him, but I know he already knew. That cat was loved so much the past 3 1/2 years and he had to know it every second. Even though Jason had a hard time admitting it, even he loved that cat. Looking back, what happened to Chaz was exactly what his Chicago vet had told me would happen. Just in an instant, his blood would clot and he would be in a lot of pain and need to be put to sleep. God was definitely looking down on me that morning. After I had been gone for 2 1/2 days and was leaving that night for small group, I cannot believe that I was home when it happened and able to help Chaz as fast as possible. I also cannot believe that it happened in the very short time that I was showered so I didn't have to witness it happen to Chaz or see him crawl to me in the bathroom. I am deeply hurt that he isn't here anymore. It's hard to even be typing this without him nudging me for attention and I really miss our 10-15 solid cuddle time in the morning before I get up each morning but I had more fun and love from that cat in 3 1/2 years than I could have asked for in any amount of time from another cat. I love the picture I shared on facebook the day he died and that is on this post because it was just so Chaz. Him loving life sitting right next to me on the balcony without a care in the world except love. I feel the best way I could honor my buddy would be to write about how great he was and I did that back in July. Click here to read. RIP Chazzy. You were everything and more than I ever could have asked for when I picked you out that cold, February, Sunday afternoon. Thanks for all the smiles. Hope there's more than enough laps for you to sit on in kitty heaven and more than enough Sammies to beat up every day. Love and miss you!

October 5, 2009

The Chicago List

I met Heather at a school where I did a little part-time work right after I lost my job. Heather is originally from San Francisco but had been in the Chicago-land area for a little over a year at that time. I had stopped for lunch on my way to "work" and called Heather to see if I could bring her lunch from Portillos. Her response was, "What's Portillos?" My jaw dropped. What is Portillos?! I realized that there are probably a few other things Heather needed to learn about while she was living in Chicago. So I wrote a note on facebook and asked all my Chicago friends what they loved most about Chicago. Thanks so much to all of you who helped create what I like to refer to as "The Chicago List." Let me know if there is something you think should be on the list!

• Air and Water Show
• Ann Sathers cinnamon rolls
• Architectural Artifacts
• architecture boat tour!
• Argo Tea
• Armitage between Halsted and Racine for shopping
• Around Coyote
• Aurora outlets
• Baha’i House of Worship and gardens
• Beach volleyball on North Avenue Beach
• Bears game with tailgating
• boat tours
• Bobtail Ice cream
• Bongo room in bucktown for brunch
• Boutique shopping down Armitage or Halsted
• Brew and View at the Vic
• Broadway Chicago shows
• Brookfield Zoo
• Bulls game
• catch a good concert at Northerly Island
• Century Theater for indie movies
• Chicago Symphony Orchestra
• Chicago Diner
• Chicago Fire game
• Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder (across the street from where the St. Valentine's Day Massacre happened - they have the best salad w/2 dressings and Chicago "bowl" pizza & great house merlot)
• Chicago Public Library on Congress
• China Town for dim sum brunch (I like the Phoenix)
• Coast for sushi
• Coffee and a walk on the lake front
• Coffee from Bleeding Heart Organic Bakery on Belmont
• Costa’s Restaurant (best Greek food outside of Greece)
• CS Magazine
• cupcakes at southport grocery
• De Cero in the West Loop
• Delilah’s
• Double Door
• Drake for afternoon tea
• ed debevics
• Farmers markets/Green City Market
• Field Museum
• Flash Taco right above it has fantastic tacos and quesadillas
• fondue at geja's
• For breakfast Toast on Webster
• Frances on Clark (near wiener circle) has best chocolate peanut butter milk shake
• Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio
• Funky Buddha Lounge
• funky shops on Belmont
• Gallery hopping around River North or West Loop
• Garfield Park Conservatory
• Garrett’s popcorn
• Gene & Georgetti's
• german fest in lincoln square
• Get on a boat and drink the day away!
• Goddess & Grocer
• going to an Oprah show taping
• Goodman Theater
• Goose Island Beer
• Graceland Cemetery
• Great America
• Green Dolphin Street
• Green Mill
• Hancock sky deck
• High Tea at the Peninsula
• Hot Chocolate on Damen
• Hot Doug’s
• House of Blues
• Ice Skating at Millennium Park
• if they were still having it -- The Southside Irish Parade (RIP)
• Ikram for wonderful shopping… though it is not cheap it is gorgeous and amazing.
• Improv Olympic
• intelligentsia coffee!
• italian at Topo Gigio in Old Town
• Jane Adams Hull House museum
• Japonais
• Jean and Jude's hot dog hmmmmmm good
• just hang out by Wrigley..always a good time! :)
• kayaking/architecture tours on the river
• Kenosha Outlets
• Kitsch’n on Roscoe
• Lincoln Park Boat Club - rowing is simply one of the best group sport
• Lincoln Park Zoo
• live jazz in the garden -- late hours so you can stroll through the museum.
• lollapalooza
• Lookingglass theater
• Lou Malnati’s stuffed pizza and Malnati’s salad – YUMM!
• Mario's Italian Ice on Taylor
• Market Days
• Melting Pot for fondue
• Michigan Avenue shops
• Michigan for apple-picking
• Millennium Park
• millennium park for chicago symphony orchestra
• Montrose Dog Park
• Morton Arboretum
• movies in the park
• Museum of Science and Industry
• Navy Pier Wed/Sat fireworks
• north ave beach in the summer
• Oak Park (Frank Lloyd Wright tour)
• Old Orchard Mall
• Old Town for shopping
• Pasta Bowl on Clark
• Pete’s coffee and tea
• Piece for pizza
• Pitchfork
• Pizano's pizza
• Portillos hot dogs, fries and Italian beefs
• R. J. Grunts
• Ravinia
• Remy Bumpo Theater Company
• Renegade Craft Fair
• Rib Fest in Naperville
• Ricobenes
• Robie House
• rock n roll mcd's
• Rock Shop in Evanston (they have a museum in the basement!)
• Rotofugi Designer Toy Store
• RR#1 Apothecary
• Salvage One
• Second City Improv
• Segway tours
• Shedd Aquarium
• Sheffield Garden Walk
• Shopping down Milwaukee starting at Milwaukee & Division then Damen going north
• Shopping on Armitage, especially the shoe place.
• shops and bars around Bucktown/Wicker Park
• Signature Room on the 95th
• Skydeck at the Sears Tower
• Steppenwolf
• Sultan's Market
• summer dance series if you’re interested in learning different types of dance
• Summer Farmer's Markets
• Summerfest in Milwaukee
• Super Dawg
• Sushi Luxe
• Svea’s
• Sweet Mandy B's in Lincoln Park has great pastries
• Taking public transportation everywhere
• Taste of Chicago
• The huge Macy's on State
• the BEAN!
• The Best Deep Dish Pizza really is Peaquods on Clybourn
• The best Merk's cheddar burger is at Underdog at the 6 corners at Milwaukee, Damen & North
• The best thin crust is at Pat's on Lincoln
• the bike path
• The Bottom Lounge
• The Chicago Botanic Garden is heavenly
• The rooftop garden/deck at Lightology
• thursday nights at the art institute - free admission,
• Viceroy of India
• Violet Hour
• Warren Dunes in MI (about 3 hours) but soooo worth it!
• Water tower and pumping station
• Webster’s Wine Bar
• weiner circle after 3 am!
• Wells Art Fest
• Wrigley Field and the Cubs

October 4, 2009

Willow Chicago Turns THREE!

Image by Steve Bailey, 2009

Today was the 3rd Year Anniversary of Willow Creek Chicago! I absolutely love this church and all it has done to help strengthen my relationship with God. Yes, that picture is really of a typical Sunday morning! Our services are held at The Auditorium Theater on Congress, what a gorgeous theater to worship every Sunday! I've already explained how I got plugged into Willow Chicago in my baptism post, but not a Sunday goes by that I don't appreciate Willow Chicago's diversity and appreciate all that God is doing in the city through the Chicago campus. It's been almost a year since we have been without a pastor and while I admit that I have worried about what this might do to Willow Chicago's attendance it is milestones like today that remind me that we are stronger than ever! I love all the girls I met in my first Willow small group (also where I met Meredith!) and my current group is more than an answer to prayer. (more to come on this group in the coming weeks/months) I am fortunate enough to serve at the Connections Desk once a month where I am able to help newcomers get plugged into community at Willow and in Chicago. Though I am not currently a member, this is something I am praying about and currently feel led to join once we get a pastor in place if not sooner. I also hope to get involved in a serving group, lead a small group and learn more about leading a group to Baja in the coming years.

Last Games of the Season

Cubs have been out of any running for the Wild Card for about a week now but Jason and I had tickets with Uncle Dennis and Marilyn for last Tuesday night's game. (obviously we knew in advance it'd be a really hot ticket or a fairly cheap ticket.) It was not nearly as cold as we had planned but was still a chilly night! This was my mom's second Cubs game which was pretty exciting. Still makes me laugh considering I go to about 5-10 games a year for the past 10 years. We all had a blast and it was a bonus that the Cubs even pulled off a win so my mom could sing "Go Cubs Go!"

Then yesterday Jason's brother and about 6 of his friends came to Chicago for the weekend so we got some last minute bleacher tickets. It was especially fun because Michelle was able to come and celebrate her birthday with us! While we were all set to sit in the rain with about 50 degree temps, it ended up being a sunny, dry afternoon! In addition, Phil and his friends managed to spread the word to get everyone in our section of the bleachers to sing "Happy Birthday" to her in the middle of the 6th inning. Thanks Phil, it was very cool to hear everyone sing to her!

Simple Idea but a Big Impact!

I saw this story in the Tribune on Friday and thought it was a great story about one person making a difference. I found that in a very small way I could relate to these women because as we all know, I have gained some weight the past year or so and have been in the process of buying new undergarments but this is something that certainly goes to the way-side when you're broke. I'd much rather spend any extra cash (which I can assure you I have none of laying around these days) on something I need which can at least be seen on the outside or more practical such a jeans or a new jacket or something that I could wear more than just once every wash cycle. After reading the article below, click here for the blog for more info. :)

Thousands of Bras Collected for the Needy

Stacks of bras in brown cardboard boxes fill Oz du Soleil's home in Chicago's Kilbourn Park neighborhood. Red bras. Polka-dotted pink and brown ones, white lace and sheer black bras. Hundreds of them sorted size AA to DD, with an H or even a J thrown in the mix.

When asked why, du Soleil, 44, always has his elevator pitch prepared.

"I collect new and slightly used bras for underprivileged, lower-income girls and women," he tells them. "Usually they ask if I'm serious, and then I just tell them I've sent more than 1,400 bras around the world. ... I am careful about it since people do look at you like you're some weirdo."

Du Soleil collects the bras through his blog, support1000.blogspot.com, which in April surpassed its goal of collecting 1,000 bras to donate. He's now at 3,000-plus and counting.

At $15 to $40, an inexpensive bra is not the type of thing most people think about donating. But many women who show up at shelters or are homeless don't have a bra, and many girls are embarrassed to go to school without one, say advocates.

Paula Gomez, a domestic violence advocate for the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services, responded to an ad that du Soleil posted on Craigslist for free bras, which she says are the least donated item. "If you can't afford to pay the rent, you're not going to buy a bra," Gomez said.

Deborah Slowe of the nonprofit IMAGINE Me Foundation said du Soleil donated more than 100 bras to that organization. The foundation focuses on self-esteem issues affecting teenage girls.

"I had girls crying," Slowe said. "Things that are so small that we take for granted are so important to young girls."

Du Soleil, who describes himself as a creative inventor type, said the idea to collect the bras was inspired by an earlier digital art project. He posted a picture of a bra on his blog and wrote a short narrative. Soon female friends started mailing him bras, and du Soleil wrote short bios about them, sans their names. He left the bras in a bag in his closet for 5 years, he said, until his then-girlfriend found them and donated some of them to girls at Myra Bradwell Elementary School.

"I was really moved by the response," he said. "The girls wanted them because most of them had one bra to go to P.E., to parties, to the grocery store, to the doctor. It was about giving them dignity."

When he was laid off from his job as a trainer at Kaplan Financial in July 2008, du Soleil said he decided that while he looked for work he would try to collect 1,000 bras for lower-income girls and women.

Having no idea what type of bras he would need, du Soleil went to Target. He approached a young worker in the intimates area to ask, "What's a good bra to buy?"

"Now, I know the difference between a racer back and five-way," he said.