Exactly one week from today we will be landing in sunny California for some much-needed family and friends time. I’ve been counting down this vacation since we booked the tickets a few months ago. We have so many great events planned out and restaurants to try for the first time. I haven’t been to California in a few years so this will be a nice refresher. Especially since I’ll be going to a few places in California for the first time. Example: San Diego.Read More
As I’m sure most of you have noticed, I disappeared from the blogging world within the last month. No need to worry, I took a break to enjoy some much-needed vacation time back home in Illinois with my family and friends. I promise I will try not to take such a long break again, because I’m sure you all missed me as much as I missed you, right? Right!
We decided to take the train home because driving 20+ hours in a car with an almost one year old was asking for trouble, just as taking two, two-hour flights was out of the question. The train takes a LONG 27 hours to get from Montana to Chicago, but it was seriously PERFECT. Jordyn was able to walk around, make friends with the passengers and gaze out of the window in amazement of everything passing by us. As a new Mom of a newly walking/mobile baby, I highly recommend this way of travel if it’s an option for you. My husband and I are very happy we made this decision.
We mainly went back home to celebrate Miss Jordyn’s 1st birthday with family and friends. On her actual 1st birthday, June 18th, 2015, we took her first trip to Medieval Times with family and extended family. The show was great, (although our knight kept losing) the food was yummy, and our waiter was awesome. Jordyn even received a rose directly from our knight during the show. It was adorable, and he was such a gentleman for giving it to her considering all of the other people in there screaming for the rose themselves. We took this awesome picture before we were seated, and Jordyn’s Godfather, Jesiah, bought us the keep sake picture to bring home with us. I’m in the process of finding the perfect frame for it to hang it up in the house. It sums up our family perfectly! LOL.
We were also lucky enough to have been home when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup Championship game at the United Center, which means, we got to go to the Blackhawks parade! My husband, my sisters and I all went together and it was such a great time. There are few things more electrifying than getting to celebrate a huge win like theirs with your favorite city (the best city) in the entire world. When the buses finally got to our section, I’m sure we all went temporarily deaf from the intense level of screaming we were surrounded by and engaged in. Being downtown Chicago for the parade even brought on some college nostalgia for myself. I spent so much of my college career walking those same downtown city blocks and riding those CTA trains and buses with loved ones. It made me that much more proud to not have just graduated from a college in a city as amazing as Chicago, but more thankful for even the tiniest of memories such as those in this awesome life of mine.
Jordyn’s birthday party was a huge success. It’s always wonderful to see so many faces you usually only get to see once a year or less. She received more blessings, love, and presents we could have ever imagined. When I tell you this is one extremely LOVED little girl, I mean it. Her party took place in one of the popular forest preserves on the north-side, and the weather held up perfectly during the actual hours of the party. It wasn’t too hot, and it didn’t rain until an hour after the party was over. The food was great, the company was even better, and the love from everyone was the best. My Aunt Gloria (who makes the absolute best cakes in the world – just ask the birthday party guests) made Jordyn’s Sesame Street themed cake and it was beyond perfect.
The day after Jordyn’s birthday party was not only Father’s Day/My husband’s first Father’s Day, but the 14th annual Ricky Byrdsong Race in Evanston, IL. This was the first year since Kris and I have been together that he was in town and able to attend. It has been a tradition in my family since my best friend’s (Kelley) Dad was killed back in 1999 to participate, support, and volunteer at the race. It only gets better each year. The YWCA Evanston/North Shore does a fantastic job each year with everything from the great t-shirt designs to the perfect entertainment. The race starts at 7:30 a.m. on the dot. Considering we all had a late night hanging out downtown Chicago at Dave and Busters the night before, the initial 6 a.m. alarm was a little rough, but everyone had a great time as we always do. I told them they’d enjoy themselves once we made it out there and they did! Kris, Jesiah, Andye, Jordyn, and I even walked the 5K. A.K.A. we walked and Jordyn slept the entire stroller ride.
We decided to do a few new activities while we were home this time around as well. We went to Xtreme Trampoline with my sisters and cousin one evening. We paid for two hours of jumping time because it seemed to be a reasonable amount of time and the pricing wasn’t too bad. However, we jumped for 45 minutes before we were all laid out on the side of the trampolines trying to catch our breath and regain energy to jump again LOL. If you’re ever looking for a great leg and cardio workout, find your nearest indoor trampoline place and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
Kris and I even had a date night that was finally out of the box of dinner and/or a movie. Kris has wanted to do indoor skydiving for quite some time, and we so happened to pass the iFly Chicago – Rosemont complex on several occasions driving back and forth to/from my Mom’s house to/from Kris’ Mom’s house. A family friend also recommended it while we were home so we decided to try it out. Kris was surprised when I told him I wanted to do it as well, because when I say I am the least risk taking-est person you will ever meet…I’m NOT exaggerating. I don’t even ride roller-coasters because they scare the crap out of me to give a little perspective on how big of a chicken I am, or as I like to say, I just appreciate my feet touching the ground. Well, let me tell you, I had SO much fun and would recommend for everyone to give it a try at least once!
My second favorite part of going home is the endless options for unbelievably delicious FOOD! I miss having so many of these food places around me 24/7. I’m pretty sure I cried about it at least twice while I was pregnant last year and unable to eat the food I was craving. Whatever – don’t judge me. Anyway, I have way too many food places to name to even begin to give you a glimpse of how much I eat when I am home. However, I do have very specific places I absolutely MUST get while I am home: Giordanos, (it makes me sad how many people will never have great quality pizza in their lifetime) Claires Korner, (because Jamaican food – DUH) Buffalo Joes, (single order and cheddar chips are no where near as good anywhere else) Portillos (Italian beef dipped with hot and sweet peppers, a cheese fry, and strawberry shake – you’re welcome). The other chain food honorable mentions are: Chipotle, Dunkin Donuts, and Potbelly. I was way too excited to devour my food when I received it from any of these locations, but here goes a glimpse for you.
In all the fun and amazing things we did while we were home, my favorite part of going home is always being able to see and spend time with my family. From BBQs at Uncle Tony’s house, playing UNO in my Mom’s dining room, to having brunch after church, these are the memories I will hold onto more than others. I want Jordyn and her future siblings to grow up knowing and loving our family and extended family as much as I do. As I’ve stated in previous blog posts, I come from a very large family. Not only are we large, but we’re a close family as well. Which makes it that much harder to live so far away from them. When I say family, I mean my closest friends as well. Most of my friends have become my family in the last few years and I couldn’t be more thankful to be surrounded by so many awesome people I’m related to by blood and by choice. Many people go through life without either of those options and here I am with more than I can keep up with. I often tell people, I know without a doubt there is a God, because it is not by chance I am living this life. It is not by chance my little family has so many people we can turn to and support us in our times of need. It is not by chance when a new milestone takes place in my life or theirs, we become that much closer to one another. And it wasn’t by chance I was born into the world’s most beautiful, greatest, loving, supportive, strong-willed, and FUN family!
As always you were good to us Illinois. We’ll be back for a brief round two in mid September. Have a happy and blessed Sunday lovely people!
I’m sure you have heard multiple people talk about wanting to travel the world. Now, you can add me to the list of one more person you know who has personally told you, “I want to travel the world.” I have recently started a personal “travel bucket list” I will update over time. For now, these are the countries, states, and cities I would love to visit that are at the top of my list. They are in no particular order, because I am a “depends on the mood” type person when it comes to traveling. Let me know a few places you would like to visit over the next few years 🙂
*Fun fact: I took the picture being used for this post, while on the plane, leaving Belize in June 2010.*
Egypt– I want to see the pyramids in person.
Washington D.C.– Kris has never been and I want to take him.
New York– I’ve been to NY before, but never during Christmas.
Italy– I want to see the Vatican and do romantic stuff.
Tennessee– Eat great food/listen to great music on Beale St.
Belize– I’ve already been but want to take Kris and Jordyn.
Jamaica– Kris and I are both Jamaican descendants and want to go.
France– I want to take a kissing picture in front of the Eiffel tower.
Japan– I would love to explore the country/culture.
Brazil– I must go during Carnival and party with everyone.
Colorado– I feel it’s only right to ski for the first time here.
Canada– I must go to Caribana and party w/ my Caribbean people.
Africa- I really want to go on a safari.
Hawaii– who doesn’t want to learn to authentically hula dance?
Louisiana– I want to eat good food and see “different” people.