April 28, 2011

Earth Day 2011

As I have been all week, I am very behind in my Earth Day post. As in years past, I have decided to give something up that will hopefully be my small contribution to sustain the longevity of Mother Earth. It was just 2 years ago that I gave up bottled water. As I type this I find it a little hard to believe that it's already been 2 years since I gave that up! I've probably only bought 3-4 bottles this year.

Last year I gave up using paper towels. I have also stuck with that one and would say that I maybe went through 12 rolls in the past year between the two of us...and that would be a lot lower if we didn't have Cooper. (Ever since we got him, he thinks it's a fun game to take the dish towel off the stove and bring it into the living room, which means I'm going through one or two dish towels every day and then resort to using paper towels because I haven't done laundry...but we're working on nipping that little "game" in the butt in the next couple weeks.)

This year, I have decided to give up plastic grocery bags. I plan to bring my re-usable bags with me everywhere. I have plenty that I bought a while ago and plan to start using them. I'll still need the grocery bags every once in a while for my kitty litter but for the most part, I'm excited to start bringing the re-usables!

Thursday Ramblings

I am so behind on blogging but want to post all the happenings of life the past couple weeks. It's been a fun couple weeks.

2 weeks ago Jason and I ended up in the burbs for church because we couldn't get our stuff together enough to make it to our own church in the city. I have to say, having a puppy is similar to having a kid when it comes to getting yourself out the door. It adds a big chunk of time to your routine! So since we were going to be in be burbs we figured we'd ask my brother and sister-in-law if we could stop by just for a little while to hear about their trip to Mexico. They ended up inviting us for dinner and we spent several hours together. It was the day that was 81 degrees and gorgeous. As much as I love the city, it was fun to be out in the burbs in the backyard on the deck eating outside with family. I am so in love with my niece, Kaylee. Isn't she just the cutest thing ever?!

Kaylee meets Cooper for the first time!

Uncle Jason, Aunt Stephanie & Kaylee

My precious Kaylee

I am proud to announce that Cooper has graduated from Puppy Class! He can now sit, lay, give paw, come and stay. We are currently training him how to ring a bell to let us know he wants to be let out. I am shocked at how easy he picked up all our cues, I know this will just sound like a proud puppy mom, but he is really smart! And more importantly, it seems as though he wants to please us.

Coopers graduation picture after class (he's showing off his "Sit. Stay.")

I really wanted to blog about Good Friday and what it meant to me but at this point I'd like to wait. I will say that I think Easter weekend if one of my favorite holidays. This year my parents came down on Saturday and spent the day with us. It was fun having them and Sophie here. I was nervous about Cooper being with Sophie only 7 days after his surgery but he did fine. He did so well that they played so much on Saturday thathe basically slept until Tuesday night. think he may have over-did it just a bit. Easter we went to church out in the suburbs again and I loved the service. I am always moved by the services out in South Barrington. After church we went to celbrate Easter at my brothers house where he cooked a delicious Easter meal. I got to spend more time with Kaylee who was smiles the entire time.

Uncle Jason and Kaylee

Kaylee in her Easter dress and hair bow

I know I have written more about the weather than anything this month but I am seriously tired of it. It has been a tough month having a puppy who needs a lot of walks to work off his puppy energy but every time we go outside it's freezing and pouring. (and there isn't any hope for the next week or so!)

Cooper after an hour long walk in the rain. Even he looks like he's sick of this weather!

So I leave you with the beautiful blooming bushes outside out building. Though we may not feel it yet, the animals are all out and the trees, flowers and bushes are all blooming which can only give us hope that Spring is on its way!

April 21, 2011


Parenthood is my absolute favorite show right now. It's my Grey's Anatomy of 2010 and 2011. I cry and laugh at every episode, usually crying more than a few times. Not really sure why but I love any show or movie that can make me cry, which isn't too hard at all considering I've been known to cry at cheesy commercials in the past! To me, Parenthood is a show about the joys and trials we experience in our everyday lives but since it's a TV show they get to add a lot of unrealistic happy endings to every storyline. Tuesdays have become the highlight of my week knowing I get to sit down with no interruptions to watch Parenthood! This week was the season finale so I'm not quite sure what I'll do with myself on Tuesday nights until it's back on. Hopefully the weather will warm up and I'll be so busy playing outside that I won't notice it. Until then, I'll wait in anticipation of whats going on in the lives of the Braverman's and cannot wait to tune in again in the fall!

April 18, 2011

Update on the Coopster

Cooper's surgery went fine...actually much better than expected. As I shared on Friday, we dropped him off bright and early at the vet to be neutered, get his microchip and the rest of his vaccinations. We were told he would get his bloodwork done and be prepped for surgery around 9:00. When I hadn't heard from the vet at noon, I called to learn that he still hadn't even been prepped yet because of some emergency's that had come in. Our poor Cooper hadn't had anything to eat or drink since 10:00pm the previous night and by noon on any given day he'd have already had breakfast and lunch and A LOT of time outside of his crate playing, chasing Sam or being walked. I felt terrible knowing how hungry he probably was and confused as to why he had to be in a crate all morning/day. (yes, I do realize he's just a dog...but he's our baby! LOL)

Around 4:00 we got a call that all had gone well and while I didn't get to talk to the vet (they called Jason) she had all positive things to say about the surgery and mentioned numerous times how cute Cooper was. As much as I tried enjoying sleeping in on Saturday, I was still up at Coopers normal wake-up time. We headed to pick him up at 10:00 an were expecting a sluggish, sleepy Cooper to come out with a cone around his head. I wish I had taken a video of it because the sight was anything except that. He came barreling around the corner trying to sniff every dog he could and then we we called him over to us and he saw us,he came ripping toward us (tech in tow behind him) and peed all over my foot from excitement. There was no cone on his head and absolutely no sign that he had just had surgery the previous day. Our little Cooper was doing just fine, maybe a little too fine.

It's been a challenge keeping him from running or jumping or chasing Sam here and there but we're doing our best. The incision is only about 3/4 of an inch long and seems to be healing fine. He's had a fever on and off since we brought him home but you'd never know from the way he's running all around and the vet said that's fine as long as it doesn't last. We are going to wait several more days before allowing him to play with his buddy Macallen or bring him to the dog park but if it was up to him, he'd be right back at it all. I'm so thankful that everything went okay and that he's doing way better than expected. He just brings so much joy to both of our lives, it's great to know this is over and he is now legally registered in the city so he can legally go to dog parks now!

A Little Hope

Every March I buy myself a bunch of daffodils and enjoy hearing them pop and watching them bloom. It all began when I worked for the American Cancer Society and was part of Daffodil Days. Daffodil Days is a fundraiser where individuals or businesses can purchase daffodils which represent hope for those who are going through treatment and is one of the first flowers to bloom in Spring. The money raised from Daffodil Days helps to some day find a cure for cancer. This was the first year I didn't participate in the fundraiser, mostly because I wasn't contacted and reminded about it, but also because I don't have the network I need to be able to sell enough flowers. It is my hope that I can get more involved in the years to come!

Since here in Chicago, we woke up this morning to blanket of snow, I thought it was a good day to blog about the beautiful flower which represents the beginning of spring. Though the forecast doesn't show anything warmer than 40 degrees and clouds for the next 7 days, I hope these daffodils will bring you a glimmer of hope for a bit warmer in the days to come!

Honeymoon is BOOKED!

Jason and I booked our honeymoon over the weekend and I couldn't be more excited! Originally we were going to use Jason's Hilton points he has earned through all his traveling for work but several month ago my Uncle Dennis shared with us that he was giving us their time share if we wanted it. Of course we wanted it so we began searching the website to see where we'd be able to go. We brought up the topic of our honeymoon at least once or twice a week but we never made the time to sit down and really plan it. We finally decided on a date and Jason spent some time narrowing it down to different regions and after much research on his part, we decided on Cabo San Lucas at the Sunset Beach Resort and Spa the week of Thanksgiving. So it will be exactly 14 months (to the day!) of our anniversary and I'm just ecstatic!! Thank you Uncle Dennis and Marilyn!!

Before we were even engaged and certainly before we knew we were having a destination wedding, I always knew I wanted to wait at least 6 months after our wedding to go on our honeymoon. I struggle with emotional highs and lows so I was concerned about all the emotions of getting married, the anticipation and planning of the wedding and then going on our honeymoon immediately after and then hitting an emotional low when we got back. In addition, once we planned our wedding and knew it was going to be a destination wedding and that we'd already be in the tropics we figured we already got to enjoy the vacation and relaxing time. In our defense, though one may think that our wedding already had a built-in honeymoon with it, I felt like we were still entertaining and having meals and beach time with our friends and family who came to Mexico to be with us. There wasn't much "alone time" for us as a newly married couple. Puerto Vallarta was our wedding which was spent with each other, our family and friends. Cabo will be our honeymoon where the week will revolve around just us and our love for one another. (Ha, I'm so cheesy, but you all know it's true of the romantic me!)

We leave 7 months (from today!) and I cannot wait! Anyone who has been to Cabo, please share your recommendations of where to go, excursions, dining out, shopping, etc. It is especially on days like today when it is snowing, I am really anxious to be sipping some fruity cocktail on the beach with Jason's hand in mine catching some rays while the sounds of the ocean crash in the background!

April 15, 2011

Coopers Least Favorite Day

About two hours ago we dropped off Cooper at the vet to be neutered. :( We took him to the vet that's literally across the street from us so he was all leaps and bounds as we took him out thinking we were going for a walk. I'm sure he'll be fine but he has to spend the night which of course makes me a little more nervous...who will be there for him when he wakes up barking and wants his stuffed animal? I'm really going to enjoy sleeping in tomorrow but am sure the second I wake up, I'll be counting down until 10:00 when we get to pick our little Coopster up!
Here is a picture I took this morning before we headed out.
I bet I'll look at this picture about ten times today and tonight missing him!

April 14, 2011

Day 5 & Final Thoughts of The Food Challenege

It's only 8:20 and I'm blogging about my day today because I think you can already guess how it's going to be, full of hunger and boring food choices! My plan today is to have my oatmeal in about a half hour and then we're eating rice and beans for lunch...for the last time! Tonight we will be going out to dinner for a flavorful meal of thankfulness. I plan to savor every single last bite. My mouth is watering just thinking about it and we don't even know where we're going yet!
Though we participated in the food challenge, another part of the challenge this week that Jason and I did not participate in was to sleep on the floor one night (last night) without a mattress -- just blankets. I think this goes without saying, but many of those living without food are living in less than satisfactory conditions when it comes to shelter. Though Jason and I didn't even discuss the possibility of sleeping on the floor, I can't imagine how crabby we'd have been been had we decided to do that. Before bed last night, I happened to be laying on the floor with Sam and Cooper and realized just how awful it'd have been to have to sleep there for the night, not to mention every night. And even if we did have to sleep on the floor, our conditions are excellent - we have a roof over our heads and walls protecting us. At church on Sunday a story was shared of a young boy and girl who had lost their parents and were trying to make it on their own. All the boy had wanted was a shelter with locked doors because at night, every night, men would come in and abuse his sister and there was nothing he could do to stop them. My heart just breaks for these children and families. To think I complain when I can't sleep because it's too loud outside and I forgot to turn on my sound machine.

To summarize the week, it's been trying having to eat on less food than "normal." While I've been hungry and extra irritable, I can never imagine what it would be like to live in conditions like so much of the world is. My heart has been broken a tiny bit more this week and I pray that we can all come together and help make the world a much better, safer, cleaner place for those who aren't as fortunate as us. Thanks for sharing this journey with me and thanks so much for your prayers! Looking back on the week, as much as I complained about hunger (and still am as my stomach growls) I have felt your prayers and know the Lord was and is with me. I pray that those around the world can and will continue feel yours and my prayers and God's presence.

Days 3 & 4 of The Food Challenge

I start this by saying I am on the verge of quitting. I'm really over it. At this point it isn't even about the hunger but I am ready for some good, tasty food!!
Thoughts for yesterday and today:

9:30 -- oatmeal
12:30 -- took Cooper for a walk and worried I would be burning more calories than I should
1:00 -- beans and rice, I am so ready to be eating something better
2:10 -- studying and really want something more to drink, tea? sparking water? anything!!
4:00 -- HUNGRY
5:45 -- walked Cooper...sooooo hungry
8:30 -- rice and beans
9:00 -- walked Cooper, so tired but had to since he has so much energy!

Today I was extremely tired all day. I really, really craved a salad and milk. I'm craving some healthy foods and really want my La Croix water!

3:20 am -- woke up really hungry
7:15 -- hungry but liked yesterday how I ate breakfast a little later so I will wait
9:15 -- really hungry and really thankful for water
10:15 -- oatmeal, I want to add milk really bad but don't
11:15 -- very uncomfortable -- not hungry but feel weird
11:15 -- walked Cooper, came home wanting a snack...pretty much anything with flavor or a hot drink would be nice to warm up
1:15 -- beans and rice
3:20 -- while studying I was very bored and would have loved some tea
4:45 -- had a pickle...I caved.
5:15 -- REALLY want to quit...really, really, really...
7:50 -- rice and beans. I am so done. done with beans and rice and just want some flavor to eat.

Today as you can tell I am really over this, mostly for the flavor and nutrients. I am so thankful that we have unlimited supply of water, something many families don't have. I can't imagine what it must be like for anyone to have to wait to eat and have limited supply of food. I love dining out and Jason and I are fortunate enough to dine out at least once a week, if not more and this really helps make me appreciate the unlimited food supply we both have and especially appreciate dining out. We just show up and have someone wait on us and cook for us and we'll sometimes have the audacity to complain about the service or food not cooked to our liking. I don't mean to exaggerate this...I know if we're paying for something, we're entitled to it being great quality, I just hope I can appreciate dining out or some of my home-cooked meals.

April 11, 2011

5 Day Challenge

April is a very important and special time at our church. Every year this time of month we take part in what we call, "Celebration of Hope" where together We Stand, We Serve, We Give. This is the third year I have participated in this experience and look forward to what I can do and how God will use me through these couple weeks.

As part of We Serve, this past Saturday Jason and I, along with our small group, served together for two hours packing seeds for families in Zimbabwe. As a church (just the Chicago campus) we had a total of 1,697 volunteers participate over two days and packed: 131 boxes, 39,838 garden packs and 196,915 individual seed packs, which will produce enough vegetables to feed 236,298 people for a year!

As part of We Stand, Jason and I have been and will take a stand in solidaity and eat as half the world eats. We are eating $2 a day's worth of food which consists of oatmeal for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch and rice and beans for dinner. We're "allowed" to have a few very small serving of vegetable as needed.

According to Bread for the World, every day almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes. That's one child every five seconds. I can't quite grasp those statistics when according to emedicinehealth.com in the United States more than half of adults and one in five children are obese. (Though I am certainly not (yet) in the obese category, I ask myself how much money have I spent on Weight Watchers the past year?!)

As I did last year, I have been journaling on my thoughts and feelings though the week:
I began the morning by cheating a little because I had to babysit so I began with:
7:15 am -- about 1/2 cup of milk
9:30 -- oatmeal
1:00 -- driving home, very irritable and hungry
2:00 -- rice and beans, felt full
3:00 -- took a multi-vitamin (something that the poor obviously doesn't have access to)
3:15 -- drove out to school, it was a pretty long and boring drive without my tea or something to sip on
5:55 -- heading into class I started to think about going to the vending machine. Not that I was going to go there but just out of habit, I was bored and wanted something to snack on during class.
6:45 -- in class very bored and want something to snack on
7:30 -- heated up rice and beans for dinner
9:00 -- heading home and wanting something more than water to drink

7:30 oatmeal (already bored with it, would love some milk or sugar added) also missing my morning cup of milk
7:40 -- missing my morning cup of tea on the way to class
10:40 -- stomach growled loudly in class, I'm super bored and would love some tea or snack
10:50 -- had a few cherry tomatoes
12:00 -- drive from one campus to another and really want to stop at Jimmy Johns for lunch or have something more flavorful to drink
12:20 -- walking into class feeling very weak and irritable
12:25 -- ate (more like inhaled) my rice and beans
2:40 -- really hungry and distracted easily
3:45 -- met a friend for what was supposed to be dinner and drinks but then changed it to coffee after deciding I was going to partake in this challenge so I ordered a hot water from Starbucks.
4:20 -- walked passed the treats Starbucks offered and wanted it all, things I normally don't even eat.
5:15 -- was about to head home and was extremely irritable and hungry, almost lightheaded, so I prayed that the hunger pains would go away until I could get to my cup of rice and beans. It took me an hour and 45 minutes to get home...but I wasn't hungry until I saw the sign which read "11 minutes to the circle." Once I felt the hunger back again, I realized that God carried me through and helped me get through that time (awesome!)
7:45 -- rice and beans (little less beans than what were allowed because we ran out)
9:15 -- few cherry tomatoes

Thus far, the time between lunch and dinner was the hardest for me on Tuesday. I am also most shocked at how obesity is so prevalent in our society when there is such poverty and hunger all over much of the world. I feel like because we don't see it every day, we aren't as affected by it but as Christians (and human beings!) we should be and need to step up. I am so thankful to be part of a church that is making a difference in the lives of those who matter. I am so also very grateful for the food and shelter that God had blessed us with. As Jason said yesterday, we do thank God every day for all that he has provided but by doing this challenge it's really shed light on what that really means when we pray that.

I'm half way through Day 3 of the Challenge and will share todays and the rest of my weeks thoughts with you as they continue. I ask that you please be praying for me, Jason and all of those at our church who are participating in this. Most importantly, please pray for those around the world who are trying to live each day on what very little they have.

April 8, 2011

A Thing of the Past

Last week I had my car detailed so I had to clean out my car. Of course, I waited until the last minute so I quickly packed everything up in a big bag and sent my car away. Today I needed my phone charger so I thought it was probably time to go through the bag and sort out all the things I have had in my car that I've been storing in my car but haven't needed for the past five years. I was really excited when I found all sorts of good CD's, some that I didn't even know I owned. I found a lint roller, a few cheap bracelets, an (unused) toothbrush from the dentist. Many bottles of Advil (where have those been when I needed them?) and many expired insurance cards along with many other pieces of useless information and old receipts. As I was putting everything in the right place, I put my insurance card and a couple other things into my glove compartment and realized that the 5 maps I put back in there really didn't need to go in. It hit me that those were staple items from the day I started driving.All of my maps were priceless, especially my Lake County map. A past co-worker gave it to me when I began my first job which was up in Lincolnshire which included my "territory" of Lake County. I have the best sense of direction but was constantly turned around up there! I was so thankful for that map much of my days driving to different meetings, appointments and events. It dawned on me tonight that we no longer need maps, I now have my trusty phone which is way better than any other map could be. At just the click of a button and the map tells me exactly where I am what direction I am heading and will take me to any location, whether I know the exact address or if I just know the name of the store, restaurant, etc. I take pride in how well I can read a map and get myself just anywhere with that. As excited as I am for the technology that we have, it kind of made me sad that there's really no need for my trusty maps. It makes me wonder what will come in the years that follow when it comes to technology.

April 6, 2011

Spring, Spring, Spring!!!

This weather has been such a tease!! It reached 71 degrees on Sunday night. I left Cooper out at 11:00 wearing flip flops, a t-shirt and little lightweight jacket-like thing. I woke up in the morning, and took him out in the same thing (6.5 hours later) and was freezing!! I easily could have worn my down jacket and gloves/hat. Didn't I just blog how the garden shop was open which means spring is coming? I was very pleased later in the day when I saw the tree near the dog park is starting to bloom!

And today, even though it is still pretty chilly (it's the wind that makes it so cold!) I noticed all the tulips/daffodils (I'm not sure what they are) are just breaking through the soil! Even though it doesn't seem like it, I really think Spring is right around the corner!!

April 5, 2011

More Meanderings About the Coopster!

Cooper has a lot of energy...a lot. Jason's been gone this week so it's been just me taking care of him and oh my gosh, he needs a lot of attention and a lot of walking. Have I already mentioned that the little fluffball won't walk on a leash from our house unless it's both me and Jason walking him together? I thought since Jason is in Oklahoma (how many miles away is that?!) that Cooper would catch on and know it's okay for him to walk with just me. Nope, he plants his butt down on the sidewalk and won't budge. So in order to exercise the crack puppy I have to pack him up in the car and take him to a dog park or to a different neighborhood to walk him.

Tonight I went for a walk with a friend and he went along loving everything we came in contact with. I am just so impressed with how nothing phases him in the city! He just trots right along as people pass, cars honk and kids scream. The deafening el doesn't even turn his head. I thought an hour and 15 minute walk (with a stop at a dog park for about 10 minutes) would be enough to wear him out. Ha! We weren't even in the door yet and he took off running after Sam and jumping on the furniture with a sock in his mouth. (all things hes not supposed to do).

After dinner I brought him outside to play with his new best friend, Macallen who is an 8 week old St. Bernard. He wrestled with Macallen for 30 minutes which only ended because us parents said it was time to go in. Only after all this did he finally settle down. He's been sleeping for 3 hours which can only mean one thing for me...an early wake-up tomorrow.

I'm excited for Jason to come home so we can share the responsibilities again but I have to admit, he is one really cute, entertaining puppy and it's been fun having the one-on-one time with him!! We've really bonded the past week and I wouldn't trade him for the world. I am so glad we get to keep him. :) Though I'm still (and always will be) a cat lover, I have to admit I'm really glad we made room for little Cooper...he rocks my world!!

6:55am: Cooper is chewing on my robe tie which he is not allowed to do. Which he got from our bedroom, which he is not allowed in, on the couch, which he is not allowed on.

6:56am: Cooper has not jumped off the chair that he wasn't supposed to be on to immediately jump onto the couch which he is not allowed on, with the tie that he is not allowed to chew on.
Blurry, but still so funny. Now that the crate is too small for him, I put him in the way back and he LOVED it. He went from side to side looking out the window, he was so excited!

Cooper is running around the corner from being yelled at for grabbing the towel from the kitchen which is not supposed to ever be in his mouth. Gross. (note: this was after the long walk!!) He has also taken the kitchen rug from the floor and brought it into the living room, another thing he is not allowed to chew on. You can tell how much he's enjoying this game he's started with me!

Finally pooped after hours of playing and chasing and driving me up the wall. And he's still so stinking cute!

April 3, 2011


My favorite garden shop is OPEN...which can only mean one thing. SPRING is here! I think it's truly confirmed since I just took Cooper out in FLIP FLOPS! Hello, 71 degree weather, please stick around a little while!!

April 2, 2011

The Week of Goodness in Review

Spring break is officially over but man, has this week has been a lot of fun!! I felt like I was very productive and got a lot completed that I really wanted to do and had so much fun while doing it all!

I had many fun days...complete with a day of pampering where I was able to spend some time relaxing. Another day of super cleaning, the bedroom is finally cleaned and organized along with a couple other rooms. I really wish I had taken before and after pictures of my bedroom, it was that bad. Another day was spent with friends catching up over lunch and walks with babies (and Cooper!). Thursday, I went to the burbs to meet up with my parents at the dog park where Sophie and Cooper could really play. They had so much fun and Cooper just loved all the smells that the suburban dog park offered. I can't wait until he's old enough (and the weather is warm enough) for them to swim together! Friday was the best ending to any Spring Break...a day in Wrigley with Jason watching the Cubs opener. Will I ever out-grow the madness? I hope not...I absolutely love Wrigley Field and all things Cubs and think it's so very cool that Jason enjoys Opening Day as much as me.

How much fun is he having?!?

So cute!
Pure awesomeness. (ummm, whats up with that garbage can overflowing though? Come on Chicago!)