Deployment thoughts, weekend wrap up

4th Annual Chicago Christmas Staycation/Weekend wrap up!

This year marks the 4th year we went to the city to celebrate early Christmas.  In years past we’ve stayed at The Palmer House, Knickerbocker, and The Drake and enjoyed each hotel immensely.  This has become a family tradition that is cherished by our family. The Drake holds a special place in our hearts so this year we decided to go all out for the holidays, knowing next year we wouldn’t be together.

2 years ago
2 years ago-we stayed across the street at the Knickerbocker this year.
last year
last year
This year, right before we went to The Lion King
This year, right before we went to The Lion King

I am normally a very frugal person and cringe at the thought of credit card debt.  If I can’t pay cash for it, I don’t buy it.  But this year I decided to let lose a little, and we spoiled the kids rotten with food, seeing The Lion King, and shopping till we dropped on the Mag mile.  I even got a new bag.  #winning I know my husband is trying to make up for next Christmas, and all the time he will be gone.  But I gently reminded him that I’d trade every handbag and present for his safe return.  #allthetears

Isn't she pretty?
Isn’t she pretty?

So there it is….we ate at Season’s 52, The fig and the olive, Quartino’s, mk, and The Purple Pig.  The Chicago food scene is truly amazing.  We even got to tour the kitchen and meet Erick Williams, the Executive Chef of mk.  I can’t say enough about the amazing service, AND food.  We will definitely be back, maybe for my birthday!!!!

purplepigmenu
Purple Pig menu
mkmenu
mk tasting menu w/wine pairings-YUM
figandolivemenu
Fig and Olive menu
so much coolness right here.
so much coolness right here.
Brunch at Fig and Olive
Brunch at Fig and Olive
Desert and mk! Who's droolin'?!
Desert at mk! Who’s droolin’?!
Meat and cheese sampling at Purple Pig
Meat and cheese sampling at Purple Pig

The weekend flew by, but we made memories that will last a lifetime.  I can honestly say that despite this being one of the toughest things we’ve been through, it has made us all that much stronger of a family unit.  He leaves in just 2 months, and the time is flying by far too quickly.  I pray his time away goes by just as fast.

Us just before going in to the Lion King
Us just before going in to the Lion King
I may have secretly snapped this shot.  HEHE!
I may have secretly snapped this shot. HEHE!
Because we still believe in Santa
Because we still believe in Santa
The reason I smile...
The reason I smile…
Our car was stuffed to the ceiling with bags, but the memories are what I will hold dear to my heart.
Our car was stuffed to the ceiling with bags, but the memories are what I will hold dear to my heart.

Do you have any family traditions at Christmas time? When you travel do you enjoy trying out new restaurants?

This week I am linking up with Holly and Tricia for the weekly wrap up!

weekly-Wrapup

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season!!

❤ Michelle

 

 

moving forward

Christmas injuries

So our Christmas morning started out like most. Presents, laughter and breakfast all while snuggled in our Jammies. I loved seeing my kids faces so happy with joy as they unwrapped the gifts that were neatly wrapped under the tree.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0774.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0780.jpg
My hubby got me a Mandolin, the fancy Chefs version and I was giddy. I just had to give it a try with a freshly washed potato. It kept slipping off the safety guard so I thought, meh, I can do this.
And yeah. I’m an idiot.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0781.jpg
I took a huge slice off of my thumb and a swift trip to the ER was in order.
Lots of tears of disappointment were shed and yeah…looks like I won’t be cooking for a while. The fact I am one finger typing this is a miracle.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0782.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0783.jpg
My hubby saved the day as always preparing dinner and I got the best get well soon card from my daughter.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0784.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0787.jpg
Lessons learned over the last 24 hours include:
1. I have the best family and friends. I received countless texts and facebook messages wishing me well.
2. The people who truly care for you will be there in the darkest of times. I was so upset, and in pain, but can’t even describe how thankful I am to have such amazing people in my life.
3. Christmas Day doesn’t always go as planned. But in the chaos there is a certain peace that comes with the constants we have in our lives.
4. Taking a shower and getting ready with one hand is. Hard. Thanks to my
Hubby for helping me shave my left arm pit. Lol. Yeah. He’s that amazing.

At the end of the day despite my bruised pride I am counting my blessings.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0796.jpg

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/1fe/62144169/files/2014/12/img_0792.jpg
Despite being side lined from running for a few days I am truly looking forward to 2015 with new challenges and blessings.
How about you? How was your holidays?
💗 Michelle

Holidays

I think I found it…

I wrote my last post, pretty down in the dumps, wishing the Christmas fairies would sprinkle their dust on me.  I was being a bah hum bug, and truly was getting on my own nerves.  But last month, after some shifting of funds, saving money, and using the hubbies travel points we were able to schedule our 3rd annual family trip to Chicago during the Christmas season.  The kids had no clue…they kept asking, “Aren’t we going to Chicago this year for Christmas?” to which we would just smile, and say, “Maybe not this year…”

For the last couple years we haven’t traveled past a state or two, having gone to Michigan last summer for 4 days, and Chicago a handful of times.  We don’t spend money on fancy hair cuts, and have cut out all luxuries to include massages, nails, cable, and eating out at “regular” restaurants for the most part.  I cook at home more times than not.  We are truly frugal, shopping consignment for clothes, and EBay for many gifts.  BUT…we don’t cut out good food, or nice places to stay when it comes to our family.  We simply believe it’s important to teach our kids to be frugal, but also appreciate the good things in life.

So to get a deal of half off at The Drake Hotel, and be able to use points was a win/win for our family.  Our kids have always begged to stay there, but as most know, a one night stay can cost a pretty penny.  Saturday night we advised the girls to get to bed early, and pack an overnight bag.  They were GIDDY.  “Where are we going?”  We just smiled.  Pulling up to the Drake was priceless, as the girls just were beside themselves with joy.  And THERE…was my Christmas spirit.  I finally found it…in my children’s laughter.  YAY.

So here are some pics from our 24 hour trip to the city we’ve grown to love.  Chicago.  Despite the gray, overcast, and dreary weather, I found myself coming alive this weekend.  And all due to my family’s joy of being there, with, me.  We enjoyed good food, shopping, and some much needed down time.  Oh…and we walked 5.1 miles just on Sunday!  Win again!

Beef shank for dinner at Quarntino!
Beef shank for dinner at Quarntino!
Say Cheese!  At Eataly!
Say Cheese! At Eataly!
The city looked AMAZING this weekend.
The city looked AMAZING this weekend.
My people.  The mirror to my soul.
My people. The mirror to my soul.
Fondue from Quarntino  YUM even though I don't do cheese often.
Fondue from Quarntino YUM even though I don’t do cheese often.
Yes, this is Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio's initials carved in on their wedding night.  SO COOL
Yes, this is Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio’s initials carved in on their wedding night. SO COOL
Roasted Octopus from Quarntino.  More winning.
Roasted Octopus from Quarntino. More winning.
Our tradition to buy an ornament each year in Chicago left us with THIS. Love.
Our tradition to buy an ornament each year in Chicago left us with THIS. Love.
yes, I got the 15 year old to sit on Santa's lap...More winning.
yes, I got the 15 year old to sit on Santa’s lap…More winning.
Sisters...my heart!
Sisters…my heart!
And here is where I found my spirit...in these two little people's eyes...joy.
And here is where I found my spirit…in these two little people’s eyes…joy.
Eggs benedict from Bar Toma.  DELISH.
Eggs benedict from Bar Toma. DELISH.
True love...TRUE love.
True love…TRUE love.
Zappoli's from Quartinos...have you been there?  You MUST GO!
Zappoli’s from Quartinos…have you been there? You MUST GO!

Sooooo…at the end of the day, besides being tired, I find myself full of Christmas spirit finally.  We were able to spoil our kids at the mall due to being TRULY frugal all year, and seeing their faces made my heart melt.

And yes…there was mad jumping on the huge bed in our hotel room, just to add to the fun.  My kids were LAUGHING and my heart sang.

There it is… my Christmas spirit.  I am so glad I found it. Family…food…feel good stuffs.  YAY.

Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays everyone!

❤ Michelle