Medieval Times

My boyfriend and I are really bad at surprises. One of us usually figures it out or decides to buy whatever it is, unknowingly, when the other already purchased it as a gift.  It’s an ongoing joke.  So, I was going to try my hardest to keep the secret that I bought tickets to Medieval Times.  Every time we happen to pass by, he mentioned that he’d like to go and hadn’t been since his golden birthday when he was 8 years old.  The last time I was there was when I was in 4th grade for a field trip.  I remember thinking, “we have to eat with our HANDS and drink the soup from the BOWL?” All the girls were grossed out.  And I also remember hoping that I got a rose from our knight. I guess things don’t change over an 18 year period. Anyways, I purchased the “celebration package” about a month ago which included VIP seating, a photo, an announcement during the tournament (A VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LORD KYLE!! —said in an English accent), and cake. What else do you need? He was a bit concerned I was going to make him dress up for the photo.  As much as I would have liked to ;) I couldn’t do that to him.

To keep my secret, I only told a few people and I told him I was taking him to Shaw’s Crab House in Schaumburg for lunch.  We had been there once before and they were within minutes of each other so I thought it was a good alibi.  I freaked out a little bit when he offered to put the address in his phone for GPS.  I snapped, “JUST LET ME PUT IT IN MY PHONE, OKAY KYLE? GEEZ!”  I thought for sure he would put two and two together.  Luckily for me, he was too busy waiting for Carmello Anthony’s big announcement (and a bit annoyed with me for my crazy coming out) to look up from his phone.

When we pulled in the parking lot, he looked up from his phone completely confused.  I said, “So, by the way, we’re not going to Shaws, WE’RE GOING TO MEDIEVAL TIMES!”  He said, “Wait, what? What’s going on?”  “Umm hello!! We’re going to THE CASTLE…”  He was surprised and I was proud I was able to keep it a surprise.

We were in the red section with the red knight and NO :( I didn’t get a rose this time EITHER!  The food was great, and the show was even better.  We had a great time!

Before the show, you can sign up to have someone knighted.  Since Kyle expressed to me SINCERELY that he DID NOT want to be knighted and embarrassed, we watched from afar.  It was so cute seeing all of the little kids (and more adults than I expected) kneel before the king.

                                                       The red knight won!!

We had such a good time.  I would definitely go again and I’m glad he enjoyed his birthday surprise.

 

What a marvelous view ★

♪♫♪ The whole place was dressed to the nines, and we were dancing, dancing / Like we’re made of starlight, starlight…

Every July, when all of the people in America are getting pumped up to celebrate the anniversary of our country’s independence, my family prepares to celebrate something else too–my mom’s birthday! Since my mom’s birthday is on July 3rd, we typically tend to celebrate it along with the 4th of July. I didn’t have work or class on Friday, Independence Day, so I was able to come home early on Thursday night right in time for my mom’s birthday.

My family’s birthday celebrations may always be a little bit different as years go by, but they still do have one thing in common: there must be cake. And no one loves cake more than me! Whenever someone’s birthday comes around, someone always goes to either Costco or Jewel to buy a huge, delectable birthday cake that feeds way more than just four people, and because of this, it usually stays in our fridge for a while for all of us to indulge in (although usually I whittle it away the fastest haha!) until it’s gone. And since my brother, mom, and dad have birthdays in June, July, and August respectively, there’s basically a regular supply of cake in our fridge all summer long…no qualms here! ☺

So when my dad picked me up on Thursday, we stopped by Costco on the way home to pick up a huge bouquet of flowers and an enormous cheesecake to bring home to surprise my mom–not that she was surprised really. It’s become so common for us to do this for Mother’s Day, anniversaries, and birthdays. I even managed to convince the baker at Costco to write a nice birthday message on it. After living on my own, preparing my own meals, and working hard at school and work for a few weeks, it felt so good just to relax and be with my family at home. I also got to play with Charlie again too, and between the two of us, I don’t know who was happier to see the other!

Other than cake, my family doesn’t usually make big plans for birthdays other than a birthday dinner. But this summer, both my brother and I were home for July 4th weekend (which is sadly becoming increasingly rare as we both get older and get more summer jobs, schooling, and other obligations to attend to), so we were determined to make it special. After bothering my mom for a bit about what she would like for her birthday, she mentioned that despite living so close to Chicago for over 20 years now, we had never been on a boat tour on the Chicago River. It’s something that she had mentioned before, actually, and it had always seemed incredulous to us that we have been here so long without ever really touring Chicago. And so, my brother and I immediately pulled up Architecture Tours on the Chicago River on our laptops and within the hour, we had booked four seats on a morning tour for the very next day! I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was, since we got tickets for 4th of July. The tour boarded at Navy Pier, so early the next day we left in order to avoid as much traffic as possible and hopefully snag a parking space. We arrived around 11 AM and nearly all of the parking garage space were already gone, but we got lucky and managed to find a spot. Before long, we claimed our tickets and boarded our boat for our 11:45 tour.

Happy birthday to my beautiful mom!

The boat tour was 75 minutes long, and it was definitely well worth the cost of under $40 per person. I hadn’t been on a boat in quite a long time, so it was really fun to be on the water! Our tour guide was entertaining and informative, telling us all about the different building and their architectural history as well as background information about Chicago. He had little humorous quips that kept everyone entertained and pointed out little landmarks that might not have been as well known, such as the closed down post office that had once been the largest in the world. He even pointed out the building of the traffic court in the city — “I’m quite familiar with the inside of that one,” he joked. I knew most of the information from reading or from school, such as the Chicago Fire or stats about the Sears (“Spelled W-I-L-L-I-S, pronounced Sears,” the guide explained to out-of-town tourists.) Tower, but it was interesting to hear it all again anyway, particularly about the influence of Spanish and French architecture that is still seen on our skyline, and then the change to Daniel Burnham’s style, modern, and postmodern architecture. My parents were surprised to learn that pretty much the entirety of Chicago was originally built on a swamp. Cruising down the Chicago River, it was wonderful to be able to experience the skyscrapers of Chicago from the water and just relax and enjoy it with my family.  I think the weather was absolutely perfect for once – not too hot, not too cold, and just enough wind to feel cool outside without being chilled. The water shined under the sunlight and my mom, who absolutely loves taking pictures, had lovely photo ops all throughout the cruise and after.

The view from the boat.

“Enjoy it,” the guide said. “Because Chicago really has only two seasons: 1) Winter. And 2) Construction season.”

By that, he explained that pretty much the moment the cold winter weather lets up, numerous buildings begin construction all around the city. The skyline and the buildings are constantly changing because of the intense competition and demand for bigger and better designs, and it’s no wonder that Chicago is such a forefront of architecture in the world. Even though Chicago – particularly the Central Business District – was decimated by the famous Chicago Fire in 1871, reconstruction began immediately, and within 2 years many new building were already erected. By 1893, Chicago hosted the World Fair, with the Chicago Columbian Exposition being designed by Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted. It was incredible to hear about the tenacity of the architects and how this spirit still continues today. Every day, architects and engineers every where are still competing to build the biggest, tallest, and most impressive building. As someone who has never really understood architecture outside just a historical or landscape context, I found it interesting to hear the buildings described in more of the builder’s perspective for once.

My mom took this sweet picture of my dad and me walking without us knowing!

After the tour ended, my family spent a glorious few hours under the sun wandering about Navy Pier and enjoying the beautiful scenery. We had lunch and listened to a live band play as the crowds gathered quickly throughout the day to enjoy the Independence Day festivities. Even though I know Navy Pier is kind of underwhelming or boring to native Chicagoans, I had a great time because we were all together. To avoid traffic, we headed back in the early afternoon and made it home to Naperville in good time. Not long after we got home, the news on the TV even said that Navy Pier had even closed its entrance because it was at capacity! It’s amazing to me just how many people gather just to watch fireworks there, and to be honest, I wonder if it’s worth the crowds, the crazy traffic, and the madness of being there. But now that I think about it, if you’re with friends, I guess that kind of craziness would be worth the memories and the good time. Maybe one day I might actually try to spend a 4th of July night there just to see what it’s like. But I’m already with my family, and as for my mom, dad, brother, and me, we just drove to a gas station not even 5 minutes away from our house and watched the Naperville fireworks in a far distance. They were tinier in the horizon and probably less flashy, but also just as bright as they lit up across the night sky. We sat in the cool grass (forgot our blanket and lawn chairs, oops) and swatted mosquitos while counting the number of sparks flying around us. I don’t know how I might be celebrating 4th of July years from now, but I can’t imagine a more perfect day than the one I had with my family this year, making memories with my loved ones that I’ll keep forever.

Don’t you see the starlight, starlight? / Don’t you dream impossible things? 

(Starlight - Taylor Swift)

A Waiting Game

Everything I learned about patience, I learned from waiting for my hair to grow.

It’s pretty obvious that patience is one of the most important things to have, and without it, life can certainly be difficult. At first, I’d say I’ve learned to be patient because in life, there is a lot of waiting, but I don’t think that’s true. That’s probably helped me out, but only to an extent.

But my hair grows so slowly…so incredibly slowly. Slower than anything has ever grown in the history of ever. Once, the person cutting my hair told me that hair grows about a half inch a month. I wish that were the case for me. But it definitely isn’t.

In December, I decided to cut my hair. So I did. But I didn’t just cut it – I cut it all off. I got my hair cut so short that I couldn’t put it up in any type of pony tail or bun. I had to leave it down. Which meant I had to “do” my hair every day until it grew out. I really liked my haircut for a while, but eventually, the fact that I had no way of getting it out of my face (ever) started to drive me insane.

I had to get up much earlier than I ever had to before just to make sure my hair wasn’t absolutely crazy or frizzy or offensive. If, on the slight off chance I exercised, I had no way of tying my hair back from my face and neck. Yes, I’ve heard of bobby pins and hair clips, but believe you me, with hair as large and in charge as mine, you’re really limited on your options; it can be so hard to say whose the boss of whom.

It’s July. Seven months since I cut my hair. In the past month, my hair has finally gotten to a length where I am able to sort of pull it back into a pony tail or bun, but pieces still fall out and make my hair look crazy. I have no idea how it’s taken this long for any type of change to happen. But the progress is there. When I can pull my hair out of my face, I see just how real the progress is, even if it has taken 7 months to notice any chance whatsoever.

I didn’t come here to tell you about my hair and my stupid or maybe not stupid hair cut (it depends on the day and how I feel about what I did.) My point is, if you want to learn true patience, chop your hair off.  Because a big part of the choice is the fact that eventually it will come back, but for the time being, it is gone. And the only way to get it back is to wait. And eventually, you’ll be faced with the decision once again of whether or not you should cut your hair and to what length and what style and whatever else you wonder about. That’s why I don’t usually have any qualms about cutting my hair a certain way. If I just wait, things will be right back to where I started. And after the hair cut, it’s fun to try something new and different for a while.

And as my hair grows, I wait. I wait for the three books I requested from the library to come in through the inter-library loan system. I wait to see if I will be able to find a job immediately after college. And I wait to see if it will rain or be sunny tomorrow because I no longer trust the forecast. I’m ok with that. I’m ok with all of those things, because eventually, I will find things out. And soon enough, my hair will grow, and it’ll be at such a length that I’ll probably want to chop it all off again. And that just might be my personal circle of life.

Stay tuned for insight into what I’ve learned from the crazy cowlicks all over my head (totally kidding…)

Support for our farmers

The agriculture industry.  It’s a tough one.  Especially if you’re a farmer and most especially if you’re a farmer who wants to grow organically without chemicals and agents.  In this day and age, almost everything we eat is loaded with chemicals and processed so much, it shouldn’t even be edible.  Ever wonder why workers who are spraying pesticides on fruits and vegetables have to wear masks?  It’s because what they are spraying is so toxic, they can get really ill if they breathe it in.  Except….we’re eating that food that’s being sprayed and there is an enormous company trying to force farmers to do it.

Another thing that scares me is the way animals are treated on “farms.”  Many huge companies that you may get your meat from have “farm fresh” stamped on their product.  The problem with that is most people don’t know that “farm fresh” means literally nothing.  Many of the cows, chickens, pigs, and even fish are cramped together in unlivable environments and are pumped with steroids to make them bigger and given antibiotics to keep them from getting sick from standing in their own filth.  Those things they are given, obviously are still in them when we eat them. Not to mention they are fed things that shouldn’t be in their diet, like corn and meat from other animals rather than grass.

I chose to write this week about supporting farmer’s markets.  There are many small farmers that are trying to make their products as natural and organic as possible but are being sued, frightened and bullied into following policies of bigwigs that don’t want them to succeed.  For more information about this, I encourage you to watch two documentaries: Food, Inc. and Farmageddon.

After watching those two documentaries, I have been interested in going to local farmer’s markets and giving them my business.  I went to one last week in Elmhurst and loved it.  I bought basil, mozzarella cheese, balsamic vinagrette, tomatoes and bread and I made myself the most AMAZING sandwich.  It was all so fresh and I felt good supporting these small farmers who care about the product they produce.

Here is a list of local Chicago farmer’s markets (or go to Illinois farmers markets for suburbs)

Division Street

May 10-October 25, 2014

Division & Dearborn

On Division between State & Clark

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Lincoln Park

May 10-October 25, 2014

Armitage & Orchard

Lincoln Park High School Parking Lot

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Beverly 

May 11-October 26, 2014

95th & Longwood

Every Sunday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Lincoln Square 

June 3-October 29, 2014

Lincoln/Leland/Western (City Parking Lot adjacent to Brown Line Station)

Every Tuesday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Hyde Park 

June 5-October 30, 2014

53rd Street & Hyde Park Blvd. (Harold Washington Park)

Every Thursday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Fulton Market Pop-Up (New)

June 10, 2014

Fulton St. (btwn. Peoria & Green)

4-8 pm

Northcenter

June 14-October 25, 2014

Belle Plaine/Damen/Lincoln

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Bridgeport Art Center

June 21-October 4, 2014

1200 W. 35th St.

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Printers Row 

June 21-October 25, 2014

Dearborn & Polk (Printers Row Park)

Every Saturday

7 am-1 pm

Southport Market 

June 21-October 25, 2014

Blaine School, 1420 W. Grace

Every Saturday

8 am-2 pm

Garfield Park Conservatory

June 22-October 26, 2014

300 N. Central Park Ave.

Every Sunday

11 am-4 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

South Shore-Rainbow Beach Park

June 22-August 24, 2014

79th St. & South Shore Dr.

Every Sunday

12 Noon-5 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Columbus Park

June 24-October 28, 2014

Harrison & Central

Every Tuesday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

La Follette Park

June 25-October 29, 2014

1333 N. Laramie

Every Wednesday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Austin Town Hall

June 26-October 30, 2014

Lake & Central

Every Thursday

2-7 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Englewood/Anchor House (New)

June 28-October 25, 2014

76th & Racine

Every Saturday

8 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

West Humboldt Park

June 28-October 25, 2014

3601 W. Chicago (NHS Parking lot)

Every Saturday

10 am-2 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Union Park Community Market (New)

July 8-September 9, 2014

Ogden & Washington

Every Tuesday

4-8 pm

Pullman 

July 9-October 29, 2014

111th & Cottage Grove (In Arcade Park)

Every Wednesday

7 am-1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Devon Community Night Market (New)

July 9-September 10, 2014

2720 W. Devon St. (Republic Bank Parking Lot)

Every Wednesday

4-8 pm

Ford City Mall (New)

July 9-October 29, 2014

7601 S. Cicero Ave.

Every Wednesday

8 am – 1 pm

This market accepts the LINK card.

Argyle Night Market

July 10-September 4, 2014

Argyle & Sheridan Rd.

Every Thursday

5-9 pm

I feel your heartbeat ♥

♪♫♪ Oh you got a fire and it’s burning in the rain / Thought that it went out, but it’s burning all the same / And you don’t look back, not for anything…

A few weeks ago, when I was reading over some of my old writing from high school. I found a very old essay that I wrote for my AP English Lit class in high school. The topic was to compare a selected poem that we read in class with another piece of art, such as another poem, book, song, or painting, and I remembered that assignment so well because I chose to compare the class poem in the class to the song “Fall Away” by The Fray. I think I picked it just because I have always internally swooned whenever I hear Isaac Slade’s crooning voice, and I related the song to the poem by noting how both employed second-person narrative and similar themes of blame and distancing from pain. (If you’re curious, here is the song and lyrics. It’s not one of their most catchy or popular, but I’ve always found it to be very evocative.)

I stored away all of my old essays a few weeks ago and I wish I could pull them out again because I can’t recall the title or author of the poem. But I do remember feeling very proud of that essay, which rarely ever happens for me because I usually cringe at reading my old writings. But occasionally serendipity strikes, and I find myself feeling accomplished when I finish writing something – and expectedly I would when I’m writing about The Fray, one of my favorite bands. Last week, I also got to see them live for the first time!

The concert was at the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion on Museum Campus, which is not far from TBH, where I live at Halsted and Roosevelt. With the surprisingly cool weather, I even decided to walk there to meet up with Brandon. After going to a few concerts now, I should have known that there would be opening bands to take up an hour or two before the real act begins. But it was my first time at the Pavilion too, so I was pretty excited to look around and explore a little bit. It was a chilly night for summer, and the Pavilion is located right next to the lake. I was thankful I had brought a jacket because the wind that carried from the lake was relentless the whole night. I even saw people buying sweatshirt and jackets just to have something warm to wear – and then proceed to buy cold drinks for sale like lemonade and beer.

All of the lights

Finally, The Fray came on around 8:00, and by then the crowd was more than ready for the main event. I will admit, I only knew a few songs from their entire new album Helios, but I had spent a couple days beforehand just streaming the music on YouTube while I did homework. I was glad I did, because I recognized all of the songs they played, and to me, it’s always way more exciting when you’re hearing a familiar song being played. They also played some of their biggest hits too! I thought they had an excellent set list because there was a pretty even balance between their new songs and the audience’s old favorites that had everyone in the crowd singing, like Over My Head, How to Save a Life, Look After You, Heartbeat, and You Found Me. Even though Brandon and I technically had standing seats, we found some empty seats. By the time the concert really got going, nearly everyone was standing and singing along anyway. Everyone was able to see everything pretty well thanks to two enormous screens that displayed the stage brightly and clearly. Even though I was in the way back and far away from the stage, I could see the details of the stage and each of the members of the band as the camera panned around. And then with all the flashing lights around me, it was easy for me to get lost in the rush of the music, the crowd, and the adrenaline.

Isaac Slade on the big screen!

It seemed like the show was over as The Fray left the stage. But even as the lights started coming up, people continued cheering loudly for them to come back for an encore. Very few even left their seats. Then, after a few minutes passed, the band reemerged on the stage, with guitarist Joe King holding a mop, cleaning up what appeared to be a mess on the stage! It was both confusing and comical to watch until the band mused on their slow, humble beginning before mainstream fame and mentioned they spent time as custodial workers to get by.

To preface their encore, the singer declared, “Nobody cleans a toilet like Isaac Slade!” The band played two songs (Break Your Plans and, my favorite, Never Say Never) and the audience was much more satisfied when the lights came up the second time. Because of everyone who stayed for the encore, it was ridiculously crowded as everyone tried to exit at once. But even that gave me a little rush because it was just exhilarating to be part of the crowd. It might seem silly but I still get so excited over experiences like these. Things like concerts, going out to the lake, and other pretty normal things just make me really happy. Even though I envy people I know who are studying abroad or doing great things in other cities and other countries this summer, I’m still so happy to be here in the city, still falling in love with Chicago more and more every day.

Cause if you love somebody, you love them all the same / You gotta love somebody, you love them all the same ♪♫♪

(Heartbeat - The Fray)

What am I doing?

I haven’t updated you on anything that I’ve been doing for some time. Since it’s summer, things are at a much slower pace for me, or at least, I’m doing completely different things than I am when I’m at school. Either way, summer is still managing to fly by, and in just about a month, I’ll be loading up the car to head back to school (for the final time!)

Even though I normally spend around 3 days a week at work/my internship, that’s where the bulk of my summer seems to be spent. I’m not complaining at all, though — I love every minute of it. This is my second summer interning at the nearby hospital in the Public Affairs & Marketing Office, and it’s safe to say I’m hooked. While there, I’ve been helping generate media coverage for various topics/patient stories, writing press releases and coming up with my own ideas for them, assisting in any way possible, and, probably my favorite part-writing articles for the online news article website for Advocate. It’s such a great feeling to see my name on articles I’ve written and knowing that people are reading them. If you’re interested, you can check out the two articles I’ve written so far here. I’m hoping to write many more within this next month.

Another exciting part of my internship was the night spent in the emergency department. The media was interested in doing a feature on the trauma team at the hospital, so a couple of weeks ago, we stayed overnight in the ER to let them get some footage and interviews. This was never something I expected to do, but it was really cool. I’ll be back in another weekend for a different television channel to stay overnight. Pretty crazy!

When I’m not at work, I have pretty much been reading whatever current book I am on. So far I have read about 7 books, which is pretty good for me since I sometimes have a hard time making time to read. On work nights, I fall right asleep before reading more than a page or two, so everything has to happen on the weekend. I want to read a lot more books before it’s time to head back to school, because that’s when I really can’t find the time to read. Nothing’s really on the reading list at the moment, and that’s kind of nice because I can read anything that way. I’m currently reading “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn…not far enough in the book to have any sort of opinion; we’ll see what happens.

I’ve been brainstorming some ideas for the upcoming school year. I want to be the best Senior Resident Assistant I can possibly be, and I know that means coming in with a plan or some concrete things. I haven’t formalized anything because that would mean summer is almost over, and I don’t want that to be the case. So, I am compiling a list and shelving those ideas for a few weeks down the line.

I have also taken a fair amount of time to search for future internships for the next two semesters. I can’t tell if I should complete two more internships or not; it’s really hard to say. I have been checking my options out and starting the application process for a few. I know I need to have an internship Spring 2015 because I plan on taking a for-credit internship class, but as far as landing an internship for fall, nothing is planned just yet. We’ll see what happens after interviews and applications. Starting to think I’m internship obsessed.

There are still some things I need to take care of before school starts. I need to complete the mandatory RA/PM online homework that every student staff member must complete over the summer. Every time I go to start it, I decide that it isn’t the best time, even though no time will be better than any other…need to get on that. I also need to (for once) look at and possibly order my textbooks ahead of time so that there is less stress when I am assigned homework during syllabus week and have yet to pick up the book for the class. I also really need to do more summer activities because I feel like I haven’t gotten much done. Definitely need to get a beach trip and a game of golf and/or mini-golf in before its too late…ahhhhhhhhhh!

I know everything sounds much less busy and chaotic than the school year, but I still feel pretty tired and sometimes even stressed. I’m trying to really enjoy this since it’s my last summer before being a true adult-graduated and ready to join the working world. Let’s enjoy what remains of summer…

July 4th crafts

During the summer, the older boys I nanny usually take part in several camps.  Baseball camp, Lego camp, Golf camp.  Whatever it is, it makes things a bit easier on me.  When they hang around the house with nothing to do, one or more of these things can happen: 1) they have friends over (which usually I don’t mind but sometimes I can get overwhelmed with 6 boys running around the house); 2) one of them will go to a friend’s house and relieve me and the other brother of constant fighting; 3) mass chaos of children running around the house in circles, throwing pillows at each other, while they faintly hear my voice yelling to “be careful!!” or “settle down,” neither of which are fully heard; OR 4) they will actually behave and we can do fun things together (which almost never happens).  So, they have stuff to do and places to go.  Woohoo!

However, last week their camps only ran for 2 1/2 hours in the morning.  So, I knew I had to come up with SOMETHING to do.  PINTEREST TO THE RESCUE!  I found this cute idea of making T-shirts with their handprints as part of the American flag.  Done and done.

I went to Micheal’s crafts and knew I could find some inexpensive T-shirts. After finding the right sizes for the boys and me, I searched for fabric paint that would easily come off of their skin since they had to smear their hand in blue paint.  I came across this brand called Tulip.  I’m sure there are other brands to use but this seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.  I also bought a small black, fine tip, fabric paint marker so they could put their names and the date on the back.

When I picked them up from camp that day, they were so excited to start the shirts.  Phew! Sometimes when I plan things, they are all about it in the beginning and then change their mind later after I have gone through all of the work of getting the things together.  Although, video games were way at the top of their list of priorities so I ended up doing mine first as an example.

They loved doing it.  There’s something about getting your hands dirty.  We let them sit and dry for a day and then returned to them to finish the back of the shirts with our names and July 4, 2014.

I thought this was a great idea for them to do and a special memento because I may not be their nanny much longer due to me embarking on my student teaching in the fall.

Running in a rainbow

♪♫♪ Boom clap – the sound of my heart, the beat goes on and on and on and on~

Since I started running about two years ago, I’ve done a whole lot of races, from 5Ks to 8Ks to the Chicago half marathon. While I enjoy the challenge and adrenaline that come from these runs, it’s always been on my running bucket list to do a color run. For those who aren’t familiar, a color run is basically a 5K that features a ton of color dye being thrown at all the runners…might sound a little crazy but it’s a whole lot of fun! It’s not only great because it’s just a big, messy fun day, but it’s also nice because it’s a kind of run where no one has to worry about finish times or who is faster than who. People just run, get colorful, and have a fantastic time. I spent some time scoping out all of the color runs happening in Chicago, and it turns out that there’s a whole lot – the Color Run, Run or Dye, Color Me Rad, Fun Run in Color…the list goes on and on. Then, a few months ago, I chatted about it with my best friend Armita, who lives in Berkeley, California. Armita and I have known each other since first grade, and I’m always sad I don’t get to see her as much now because she goes to school at UC Berkeley. It was awesome to find out that she got a paid research position in Chicago this summer because now we can finally hang out! Well, we searched for a long time, and finally we found a great deal for the Color in Motion 5K, which would work for both of our schedules. Back in April, the race had a special April Fool’s Day discount, so we were also able to register our friends Nava and Brandon for the race for free! Before long, we were all registered months early, and just last week the Color in Motion 5K turned out to be on of the first things we did together in Chicago!

I was super excited that I would be able to run with a group of friends for the very first time. I don’t really have many friends who run, so usually when I line up for a race, I’m by myself and stretch alone. I always see a lot of people getting pumped and ready with their groups of friends, and sometimes I get kind of lonely and wish that I could just sneak into a group of friends and run along with them…that’s not weird, right? Haha, well I was really happy that I had a group to run with because it made it so much more fun.

We arrived pretty early, but it was still quite a challenge to find parking. After we had finally parked and walked to the run site, we spent some time just taking lots of photos while we were still looking clean in our spotless white shirts. But of course the temptation of our four bags of color dye was too much, and it wasn’t long before we opened them up and started dousing each other in shades of blue, red, green, and yellow! I thought we were already decently messy by then, but I had no idea what was to come…

With the crowd’s thunderous cheers and the sound of KISS FM’s radio music, the race started at 9:00 AM as people poured onto the race path. Nearly all of the volunteer groups there were supplied with countless color packets of every color, so immediately there were shades of purple, orange, pink, etc. flying everywhere! After that, the 3.1 mile run course consisted of intervals of running in between color dye stations where volunteers would blow colors at all of the runners. Many times I thought it felt like running straight through a rainbow, and even though I knew it was probably bad to breathe in the chemicals of the dye, I would always charge straight through the color stations. By the time we finished, we all had green, purple, blue, pink, and red on us from

She's the best :) Sarmita since 2001 ❤

head to toe! Afterwards, KISS FM held a color party at the finish site where more people were throwing out color packets to spray on everyone. There seemed to be hundreds of people just cheering and trying to get as messy as they possibly could!

By the time we were ready to head home, I felt sure that I would be spending the rest of the day in the shower. Luckily, Armita and Nava had brought extra towels for everyone and we were able to spare Brandon’s car from looking like a rainbow on the inside. Later that day, Armita, Nava and I also ate some greasy burgers from Jim’s and some delicious Coldstone ice cream…it was quite the day of indulgence. And to my very pleasant surprise, the color dye came off quite easily! I felt much better after just one shower, and even my shoes were clean after going through the washer just once. I had heard from friends who have done color runs before that the dye is most annoying to get out of shoes and clothes, so I was really relieved to find out otherwise. After all, I only have one pair of good running shoes (nice ones with good padding can be quite expensive, and it’s a good investment to prevent knee/shin injuries), and I’m counting on them to not fall apart…at least not for a couple more months.

Speaking of which, I started my training for the Chicago Marathon a few weeks ago, and it’s just the first weeks of a loooong 16-week process. I actually started kind of late because I slacked off while living at home, so now I’m paying the price by trying to hurry and get ready! Typical full marathon training is at least a 20-week commitment, so I’m kind of running (pun intended, ha) on a tight schedule. Mainly I’m finding that I have to listen to my body instead of strictly following the schedule. Those few weeks of not running much at home are hitting me hard, so I’m trying to build back my endurance as quickly as I can so I can get ready. As per the schedule, I do one big “long run” each week, and I’m hitting just about 10 miles for that right now when it should be 12…hopefully I can catch up the schedule soon! But the last thing I want to do is to injure myself, so I’m still trying to know when to take it easy and take a rest day, especially if I’m exhausted from classes or spending hours in the lab.

Despite the crazy training schedule, I’m delighted that I was able to just relax for the color run with my friends and forget about counting miles or times. I’ll definitely have to sign up for more fun runs like this in the future because even though I love running and how it makes me feel, it’s even better when I can share the experience with others.

Before...just a boring group pic. After...we're a work of creative art!!! (Top left to right: Nava, Armita, Brandon, me)

Boom clap – you make me feel good, come on to me, come on to me now! ♪♫♪

(Boom Clap - Charli XCX)

10 Ways to Make the Most of Your Internship

It’s pretty obvious that internships have become a crucial part of marketing ourselves, gaining hands-on experience in the real world, and (in my opinion, most importantly) networking. However, simply “doing” an internship isn’t good enough; that isn’t what is important. It’s crucial that we absorb as much as possible by being granted the experience, and in turn, give the internship everything you have. These things in combination will certainly give you the best experience possible, which is, after all, the ultimate goal. If you currently have an internship, or if you plan to apply for some this upcoming year, here are my tips on how to make the most (and get the most out of) your internships:

  1. Get to know everyone you can. Whether you work at a small or large company with a tiny or gigantic team, there are still plenty of people you can interact with and learn from. Whenever I think about what I loved most at my internships, the people I worked with and was surrounded by always comes to mind. It’s so important to get to know your coworkers on a deeper level than knowing when they take their lunch or what their job title is. By building these relationships, you will have people you care about at work who will also care about you. They’ll be much more willing to help you and teach you as much as possible. These relationships can even last beyond your internship. Don’t be a drone at work-half of the fun is learning from and interacting with those around you.
  2. Expand yourself beyond the 9-5. I’m not talking about working on projects after hours. While that may need to happen, what I’m referring to is expanding your availability and acknowledging that you will only be at your internship for a short amount of time. Because of this, come in on your day off if something unique is going on or there is an opportunity to learn. Drive to the corporate office if you’ve been offered the opportunity to sit in on a meeting. Realize that the more time you put into your internship to learn, the more you will get out of it.
  3. Learn as much as possible about the company/organization with which you are interning. What’s the point of working somewhere if you don’t know much about it? How can you fully understand what you are doing if you don’t know your company’s goals or customer base? Learning whatever you can will make you that much more invested and committed. Why does the logo look that way? When was the organization founded, and for what purpose? You’ll even see that the more you know, the more confident you will be in your ability to do your job and represent your company.
  4. Share your ideas with the team. No one likes a silent intern. While we are primarily in our internships to learn, it is vital to show that you are willing to work with your team to develop new ideas. Your coworkers would be thrilled to hear your perspective, as opinions from an originally “outside” party provide them with a different angle. Not to mention the fact that you are young, in college, and have a unique point of view. Never hesitate to let people know what you think.
  5. Volunteer to assist with various tasks. Does someone look like they could use an extra hand with a project? Do you see people working on something you are knowledgeable about or have an interest in? Speak up and volunteer to help. The worst that could happen is that they say no, and how often do people really turn down help? This will show that you are capable of taking initiative and working well on a team, both vital characteristics of a successful and hard-worker, which you definitely want to be!
  6. Don’t complain about something or point out a problem without some sort of solution. If something is going wrong and needs to be addressed immediately, by all means, point it out. What I’m referring to is more of the type of instances where you don’t think a certain filing system or way of doing things isn’t the most organized or efficient. In this case, develop some sort of solution to offer when you do address the issue with someone. Your innovation won’t go unnoticed.
  7. Keep a work calendar for tasks and reminders. Keep this separate from any other calendar or agendas you have. This way, you can see what work-specific obligations you have each week and can continue to add to it as needed. This is a great way to stay organized at work, and I’ll bet you won’t miss a single meeting or deadline!
  8. Get enough sleep at night. Coming in to work early and/or yawning throughout the entire day will make for an unpleasant and long work day. Your brain will be sluggish and will hold you back from being the best intern possible. Follow up a good night’s sleep with a healthy breakfast and enough water to hydrated throughout the day. You’ll be able to see the benefits both at work and off the job.
  9. Make the most of your free time/time off. Get whatever tasks you need to complete done when you are not at work. Do what you like when you’re off. This way, you’ll appreciate your time both at work and home from work much more, and you won’t be angry about going in. This time is also a prime time to get that much needed sleep.
  10. Keep in touch. Don’t lose contact with any of your coworkers or bosses. These people helped you throughout your internship and truly care about you and your future. Thank them as much as you can, and maintain a relationship with them. Your internship would have been completely different and possibly nonexistent without them, so make sure you remain in contact with them.
Think about what you can do so that when you leave your internship, you are as satisfied as possible, you are glad you did your internship and you feel as though you have gained a wealth of experience. Don’t waste a perfectly good opportunity that is right before your eyes.

My favorite things

Last year I wrote one week about my favorite things. You know, like Oprah did on her show that you wished you could have gotten tickets for since she always gave her audience what she presented.  Just like that…except without free stuff ;).   We all have our favorite things whether they’re cosmetics, clothing, shoes, places or people.  Without further ado, here is my new list of favorites.

#10 The “Happy” music video. This song actually really does make me happy.  And the more I learned about Pharell, the more I started liking him.  The song and video unleashed an enormous trend of groups of people making their own video of people dancing.  Did you know there is a Youtube video of the song that plays over and over for 24 hours?  24 hours of Happy.  Every hour is a different person dancing.  But more than just a great song and video, it has a great message.  Sometimes, I think we tend to focus on the negative things going on in our lives instead of being happy about the positive things.  Guilty! Here’s to being happy about the good things in life and not letting the bad things take over.

#9 Women’s Brooks Adrenaline.  Over the many years of being in the running industry, I have tried many different running shoes.  I used to wear the Asics Kayano, which I still love but I couldn’t get them.  Not to mention they are about $150 now.  So, I tried the Brooks Adrenaline and wow…I couldn’t believe I have been selling this shoe for so long and never really gave it a try myself.  It’s supportive, lightweight, and cushioned.  It’s a great stability shoe that has been one of the top sellers in Runner’s World magazine for years. The price point is better at about $120, and just like the Asics Kayano, I feel like I’m running on air.  I always say “Running is hard. It can be uncomfortable.  So, invest in the products that make you comfortable, (and for the sake of tying things in here), invest in the products that make you happy. :)

#8 Riley’s Gathering Place in Elmhurst.  I have been a regular at Riley’s for a couple years.  It’s owned by the Riley brothers and definitely is a great neighborhood bar.  Many of the patrons are, in fact, neighbors and friends.  Whenever you go, they always make you feel part of the neighborhood.  Wednesdays are Trivia nights, Fridays they have a Fish Fry, and Saturday is, of course my favorite, karaoke.  The always make you feel comfortable and cheer you on for singing your heart out.  Many of the waitresses are now good friends. No wonder I keep having my birthday party there.

#7 No7 Quick Thinking Wipes.  I came across the No7 brand while browsing the Target cosmetics department.  The target cosmetics department is kind of like a black hole.  Once you get in, you cannot get out without a cart full of nail polish, makeup, and hair products that you don’t need.  In this case, however, I was looking to refill my usual makeup remover wipes.  I like using them before I wash my face because sometimes, face wash doesn’t get all the makeup off.  And there is nothing worse to me than going to bed with an unwashed face.  I took a gander at the No7 brand and decided to give it a try.  The No7 Quick Thinking wipes are a little more expensive compared to something like the Pond’s makeup remover wipes, but I do like them better.  They have an entire line of skin care products that I would love to try once I get rich.  But for now, I’ll stick to the Quick Thinking Wipes.

#6 Gogroove Bluetooth system.  I have a 2006 Honda Accord.  Great car, except for the fact that there is no Auxiliary port OR (heaven forbid) a tape deck.  There was no way I could play music from my phone or Ipod, until now.  I have to give my boyfriend the credit for this one because he was the one who found it.  It plugs into the lighter and you set it on a station that is clear, as you would with any bluetooth system, and it comes out so clear with no or very little static.  It also has a feature that allows you to switch from the music to answering a phone call without touching your phone.  You simply press the phone button and the microphone turns on and its a great hands-free way to talk on the phone while your driving.  I love it.

#5 Express (Minus the leather) Jacket.  I absolutely love this jacket.  I had been wanting this jacket for so long but it costs a pretty penny, like many of the things at Express.  Every single time I went there, I would try it on and try…JUST TRY to justify paying for it.  I always left without it.  But if you have the chance to take advantage of their sales, you can usually get away with some cute stuff without giving an arm and a leg in return.  This jacket is cute and goes with pretty much anything.  The pockets have zippers as do the sleeves.  My boyfriend got it for me for my birthday (because he is AMAZING!) and I get compliments every time I wear it.

#4 365 Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil. The first time I heard about coconut oil was last summer when my brother’s girlfriend suggested I try it as a tanning oil.  She used it for tanning and said it did wonders.  So, this year I went to Whole Foods and got some of my own.  There is actually an entire list of things you can do with coconut oil.  I use it for moisturizer, tanning oil, and it can be used for bug repellant, too! I’ve been using it for a couple weeks and can tell the different in my skin.  #3 Hunter Boots. A couple months ago, I was on the hunt for rain boots.  I tried a bunch on at DSW and Target and could not find a pair that looked good, felt good and wasn’t insanely expensive.  Well, I gave up the search and kind of talked myself out of looking due to it not really being in my budget.  I have seen people wearing them and every single time would think “Hunter boots!! I want some!!!!”  Well, I ended up getting a pair for my birthday (once again from my amazing boyfriend).  I tried them on….and it.was.like.heaven.  They were comfortable AND super cute!  They can be used as winter boots too because they also make boot liners!  I am indeed a lucky girl.  I can’t wait to wear them in the rain.

#2 Sam Smith. Sam Smith is a guy who just came into the music scene recently.  The first song he came out with was “Stay with me,” and I immediately loved it.  I have to admit, I don’t know much about him but his voice is just absolutely amazing.  I’m always interested in artists who have a different sound.  And he definitely has a uniqueness to him.  I know when I really like something, it gets it’s own Pandora station on my phone.  The other day, I saw a video of him doing a cover of Whitney Houston’s “How do I know.”  It blew me away. I would definitely recommend checking him out.

#1 David Sedaris. After finishing all the Gillian Flynn novels in a week, I needed a new book or series to get tied into.  A co-worker suggested “Me talk pretty one day.” As she was telling me one of the stories in the book, she could not contain her laughter just thinking back to how funny it was.  I decided to go to my neighborhood book store, The Book Table, and get it.  I ended up getting two.  “Me talk pretty one day” is so funny.  I have not laughed out loud at a book since I read “Good In Bed” by Jennifer Weiner (which I would also recommend reading).  The way he humorously describes his life makes it easy to relate to with everything from your life, love and family…..and all the awkwardness that comes with them.  I haven’t finished it yet, but once I do I will read the second book I bought called “When you are engulfed in flames.”

 

So, there you have it…these are my favorite things. <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

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