Tag Archives: Illinois

Midwest Tour

Our last big trip of the summer is now behind us. We just returned home from a whirlwind 12-day trip to the Midwest {and Mexico for Alex!}. We covered a lot of ground, including my hometown and family cabin, Alex’s family’s lake home, his parents home and Chicago. It was really nice to spend time with our families and for Ben to get to hang out with his grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousin, as well as quite a few of our friends.

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The trip started on a Thursday – Alex flew to San Diego as a staging area to head to Mexico the following day while Ben and I headed to Minnesota just 15 minutes ahead of Alex. Alex spent a long weekend down in Ensenada, Mexico, which is in Baja, to attend the wedding of our friends Justin and Tania. He said it was absolutely gorgeous!

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Our flight was a piece of cake, with the exception of a very rude Delta flight attendant {this was a good reminder of why we fly Alaska!}, and Ben was a rock star. He slept for about half of the flight and the other half he was completely content with snacking and doing some activities.

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For most of our time in Minnesota we stayed with my mom. Ben loved her “kitty cat” and the pool in her backyard, naturally. We spent a lot of time checking out different playgrounds, experiencing the farmers market and going to the beach. Ben and I enjoyed a nice dinner on the deck of my brother’s new house – it was really nice to get to see his new place and spend time with John and his girlfriend, Becky.

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I had some of my friends from high school and their families come over for an afternoon in the pool one day. It’s so fun to see all the kids together – between six of us we have 9 kids altogether with another on the way!

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Another highlight of our time in Minnesota was our trip up to my dad’s family cabin. The cabin has been in his family since the 1930s and holds a lot of memories! It was so fun taking Ben up there and watching him cruise around, explore and play with my brother’s old Tonka trucks. He even got to go for a dip in the lake and take a couple of paddle boat rides with me.

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After a really fun time in Mexico, Alex came and met us in Minnesota late Monday night, five days into our trip. We spent our last day in Minnesota together with my family before hitting the road for the 5-hour drive to Alex’s parents lake home in southern Wisconsin.

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It was so relaxing being at the lake – Ben loved some fun new toys that Grammy and Grandpa had for him to play with, and he loved seeing his cousin Nico, who is 6 months younger than he is. We went for boat rides, Ben played in the kiddie pool and we all enjoyed our time together. To top it off, it was absolutely perfect summer lake weather.

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Throughout the trip Ben continued to impress me with his ability to adapt to new situations and new people. While he didn’t sleep very well the whole trip {who can blame him!?}, he continued to remain his normal sweet, friendly self during the day and loved spending more time with his extended family. While we were on the trip his first molar started to poke through and he got a cold. Despite the recipe for disaster he managed to hold it together and was such a happy camper the whole trip.

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On Friday afternoon Alex and I headed to Chicago, leaving Ben in Wisconsin with Alex’s parents. We had a wedding in the city to attend, where Alex was a groomsman. We stayed right downtown in the Loop in a great location and a beautiful hotel and had a really nice time catching up with many of Alex’s friends from high school.

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Alex was occupied on Saturday with wedding stuff, so I met up with Alina and Nico for a leisurely stroll through Restoration Hardware, followed by a wonderful lunch in their courtyard restaurant. We took a nice walk through part of the city before I headed to the wedding.

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On Sunday morning Alex and I had a little time together to take a walk to Millennium Park and be tourists for a few minutes. Then we headed to his parents home to spend the afternoon with Alex’s family before we had to leave to get back to Seattle the next day. We got to see Nana, Alex’s grandma {and our only surviving grandparent}, and spend more time with his parents, Alina, Alberto and Nico, as well as Alex’s uncle Mike.

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All in all, our trip was really, really nice. We loved seeing our families and getting to spend so much time with them. It’s so fun watching Ben in new spaces and getting to know his grandparents and other family members. It’s such a fun time right now and it was so special sharing that with our family and friends.

Thanksgiving in Illinois

This year we spent Thanksgiving in Illinois. Alex has such a big family, and our only living grandparent, so we figured it would be a good time to introduce Ben to his extended family in Illinois.

{Nana meeting Ben for the first time!}

{Nana meeting Ben for the first time!}

We spent the week of Thanksgiving with Alex’s parents at their home in Illinois and had the opportunity to introduce a ton of family and friends to Ben.

{Aunt Karen stopped over to meet Ben.}

{Aunt Karen stopped over to meet Ben.}

{Meeting his Great Aunt Chris.}

{Meeting his Great Aunt Chris.}

{Nora, a very good family friend, and her family came over to meet Ben.}

{Nora, a very good family friend, and her family came over to meet Ben.}

{Not only did Ben go to his first townie bar, but he met Cousin Tara and her son Brody (and her other son Braden). Brody and Ben were due a day apart!}

{Not only did Ben go to his first townie bar, but he met Cousin Tara and her son Brody (and her other son Braden). Brody and Ben were due a day apart!}

{Brunch with Cousin Katie and her husband Stefano, as well as Cousin Bryan and his wife Sarah.}

{Brunch with Cousin Katie and her husband Stefano, as well as Cousin Bryan and his wife Sarah.}

{Baby in a bar! AK, Alex's best man, and Dane, a lifelong friend, got to meet Ben too.}

{Baby in a bar! AK, Alex’s best man, and Dane, a lifelong friend, got to meet Ben too.}

When there wasn’t family or friends over, Ben’s grammy and Grandpa Stan, along with Aunt Alina and Uncle Alberto, got a chance to play with him.

{Donna did such a nice job setting up a room all for Ben! It made it so much easier for us to travel knowing that there would be a pack 'n play, changing table, car seat and stroller waiting for us in Illinois. It helped that Alina will soon be using all of that gear, too!}

{Donna did such a nice job setting up a room all for Ben! It made it so much easier for us to travel knowing that there would be a pack ‘n play, changing table, car seat and stroller waiting for us in Illinois. It helped that Alina will soon be using all of that gear, too!}

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{Aunt Alina is less than a month away from her due date! Ben is about to have a little cousin!! We can't wait!}

{Aunt Alina is less than a month away from her due date! Ben is about to have a little cousin!! We can’t wait!}

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Santa surprised us on Thanksgiving morning by coming to grammy and grandpa’s house with gifts for Ben.

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Our Thanksgiving Day was very low-key. Alex and I snuck out to take a run together while Ben was napping {of course there were several able bodied adults there in case he woke up} and spent the rest of the day around the house. Alina and Alberto had some friends over for the evening and Alex’s uncle came by as well, but otherwise, that day was really nice to get some quality time with Alex’s immediate family. The Thanksgiving meal was terrific as well! 🙂

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As it always does, the trip flew by and before we knew it we were back in Seattle!

Illinois Trip + Julie & Ryan’s Wedding

Alex and I flew back to Illinois one last time this past weekend to celebrate the nuptials of my wonderful college friend and roommate, Julie, and her now husband, Ryan. Conveniently, Julie grew up in Geneva, Illinois, which is the town right next to Batavia, where Alex’s parents currently live. It works out quite well when I can squeeze in a visit with Julie when I am staying in Batavia with Alex’s parents, and for this trip, it was extra nice since the wedding was so close!

{me with Julie on her wedding day!}

{me with Julie on her wedding day!}

We arrived really, really late on Thursday night/Friday morning. To kick off the wedding events I met Julie, the other bridesmaids and the MOB {mother of the bride!} for coffee in St. Charles, one block away from where the wedding was to be held. I was exhausted to say the least. I’m sure I didn’t make the best company, but it was really nice to see the bride and her entourage while enjoying a delicious cup of coffee.

{the lovely bridesmaids with the bride}

{the lovely bridesmaids with the bride}

The weather while we were in Illinois was so nice! It was crisp and cool and I don’t think I saw a cloud the whole time. I was fortunate enough to get two long walks along the Fox River while I was there, one happened to be on Friday afternoon while Alex and Stan were off on their own adventure.

As a member of the bridal party I had rehearsal duty to tend to. The rehearsal and dinner went off without a hitch!

{my handsome date for the rehearsal}

{my handsome date for the rehearsal}

{the bridesmaids coincidentally all dressed alike for the rehearsal}

{the bridesmaids coincidentally all dressed alike for the rehearsal}

{Julie with her brother, Joe}

{Julie with her brother, Joe}

After the rehearsal we made a pit-stop over at the Bailey’s home. The Baileys are family friends of Alex’s parents and recently moved into a new home just seven minutes from Alex’s parents and are almost done with a major renovation. We got to see the house over the summer when it was amidst construction, so it was fun to see all of the progress, particularly Nora’s dream kitchen. Just like my in-laws, I simply adore the Bailey family and always enjoy seeing them when we’re back in Batavia.

{hanging out in the Bailey's kitchen... the island is big enough to fit a couple of beds on it and the entire wall on the right side of the photo is a refrigerator... absolutely amazing!}

{hanging out in the Bailey’s kitchen… the island is big enough to fit a couple of beds on it and the entire wall on the right side of the photo is a refrigerator… absolutely amazing!}

Saturday came bright and early and I ventured off to be a bridesmaid for the day while Alex spent some time with his family. His nana, sister and brother in-law all came over to his parents house, so they got to catch up all afternoon while I was gone doing wedding stuff.

{Julie's stylist nailed her braid and twisty bun!}

{Julie’s stylist nailed her braid and twisty bun!}

{gettin' our hair did...}

{gettin’ our hair did…}

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{all she needs is her white dress now!}

{all she needs is her white dress now!}

{sharing a sweet moment with her dad to help ease the pre-wedding jitters}

{sharing a sweet moment with her dad to help ease the pre-wedding jitters}

{on our way to the church we stopped at a favorite spot of Julie's so she could snap a few pictures}

{on our way to the church we stopped at a favorite spot of Julie’s so she could snap a few pictures}

{the new Mr. & Mrs. Johnson!}

{the new Mr. & Mrs. Johnson!}

{the weather and setting couldn't have been more perfect for Julie and Ryan's photos! the bridal party walked around the grounds of the reception venue for a while, posing in front of barns, on and next to fences and in front of the gorgeous trees lining the property. I can't wait to see how the professional photos turn out!}

{the weather and setting couldn’t have been more perfect for Julie and Ryan’s photos! the bridal party walked around the grounds of the reception venue for a while, posing in front of barns, on and next to fences and in front of the gorgeous trees lining the property. I can’t wait to see how the professional photos turn out!}

{their creative guestbook... canoe paddles!}

{as an ode to their passion for the outdoors, they used canoe paddles as their creative interpretation of a guestbook}

{sadly I don't have any photos of the ceremony since I was standing up with Julie and Ryan}

 

{the reception was at the Dunham Riding Club in St. Charles, Illinois}

{the reception was at the Dunham Riding Club in St. Charles, Illinois}

{cupcakes!}

{cupcakes!}

Julie and Ryan’s wedding was really nice and I so enjoyed being a part of their celebration!

The final full day of our trip was a big and busy one, too! Donna invited her whole family to come watch the Bears game at their house so we could have the opportunity to see people. Thankfully we had a “small” group of only 18 family members who could make it. It was a really nice size group because we were able to spend time with everyone and not feel overwhelmed. Alex has a truly wonderful and loving family and it is such a blessing to be a part of it.

{catching up with Nana while sneaking tastes of the great food that Donna prepared for the big game}

{catching up with Nana while sneaking tastes of the great food that Donna prepared for the big game}

{so great to catch up with these guys!}

{so great to catch up with these guys!}

{go bears!}

{go bears!}

Our last hurrah in Batavia was enjoying Pizza Villa pizza and beer nuggets for dinner while watching Mrs. Doubtfire on Sunday night. Pizza Villa is a restaurant in Alex’s hometown of Dekalb and he has fond memories of eating beer nuggets {basically little pieces of pizza dough that have been fried with Italian spices and you dip them in marinara} and wanted a bit of nostalgia.

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And just like that, our last planned trip to the Midwest of 2015 is behind us! Thanks to our friends and family for being so accommodating and we hope to see you soon 🙂

Midwest Summer Trip

Alex and I just returned from a ten day jaunt around the Midwest. We bounced around from place to place in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota and ultimately ended up staying in six cities across the three states. The primary purpose of our trip was to attend a wedding in Illinois one weekend and a wedding in Minnesota the following. We decided to turn it into a ten day trip to squeeze in some time with some family and friends during the week between the weddings.

{picturesque view in Minnesota}

{picturesque view in Minnesota}

The trip began in Illinois where we were attending Alex’s high school friend “AK” {Adam}’s wedding very close to the town where Alex’s parents live. We had a fun day with Alex’s parents before heading north to Alex’s hometown of DeKalb where the rehearsal dinner was taking place on Friday evening. It was really nice to get a chance to re-connect with several of Alex’s friends from high school.

{Alex and AK in front of AK's sporty car}

{Alex and AK in front of AK’s sporty car}

The wedding took place on Saturday at Fisherman’s Inn in Elburn, Illinois. It was a beautiful venue and a gorgeous day for a wedding, albeit a bit muggy! The wedding was quite large, I think there were more than 300 people there to celebrate Adam and Katherine, but the venue did a great job accommodating all of the guests. Alex got a chance to spend some quality time with a bunch of friends from high school. I had met his friends before but this trip reminded me just how nice they all are. He really has a great group of friends back in Illinois.

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{the grounds at Fisherman's Inn}

{the grounds at Fisherman’s Inn}

{the wedding goers! Alex sure made a handsome groomsman if I do say so myself! :)}

{the wedding goers! Alex sure made a handsome groomsman if I do say so myself! :)}

 

After stopping at AK and Katherine’s post-wedding brunch and visiting Nana {Alex’s grandma} for tea on Sunday morning we headed up to “the lake” for a few days. Alex’s parents have a lake home in southern Wisconsin and it had our name on it!

{Lake Delavan, Wisconsin}

{Lake Delavan, Wisconsin}

{loving the time out on the boat - we took several boat rides and got to test out the new waverunner!}

{loving the time out on the boat – we took several boat rides and got to test out the new waverunner!}

{me and my beautiful mother in-law!}

{me and my beautiful mother in-law!}

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{we saved our water ski day for the last morning and all four of us took turns water skiing.}

{we saved our water ski day for the last morning and all four of us took turns water skiing.}

Our time in Illinois came to a close quite quickly. We spent our last night in Chicago with Alina and Alberto and got to stay in their new apartment! It was the most relaxing part of our trip because of the time at the lake, and it was also really, really enjoyable to spend such meaningful time with Alex’s high school friends. They are such genuine, considerate people and they’re great friends, too!

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We landed in Minnesota on Wednesday afternoon and headed to the cabinet showroom. Yep. That was our first stop. My brother is remodeling our bathroom this fall and he wanted us to check out some cabinet options so we checked that off the list right away. The rest of the day was spent with my dad.

{we had a really nice walk around Lake Harriett in Minneapolis}

{we had a really nice walk around Lake Harriett in Minneapolis}

{after our walk we headed over to Loring Park where Alex and I got to meet my dad's partner, Fred (yes, they have the same name), and enjoy a really nice dinner at Loring Street Kitchen}

{after our walk we headed over to Loring Park where Alex and I got to meet my dad’s partner and enjoy a really nice dinner at Loring Kitchen & Bar}

Thursday was my mom’s day. It got a bit ridiculous when I started scheduling everything out to make sure I fit in time with my parents, so my mom got one whole day and my dad got two half days. That’s the way it has to be sometimes!

{We headed to Taylor's Falls, about 30-45 minutes outside the Twin Cities, which is on the St Croix River, for a hike}

{We headed to Taylor’s Falls, about 30-45 minutes outside the Twin Cities, which is on the St Croix River, for a hike}

{we were going to kayak down part of the river but one of us got a little too sunburned on the boat in Wisconsin...}

{we were going to kayak down part of the river but one of us got a little too sunburned on the boat in Wisconsin…}

{After our hike we came back to my mom's house for some time in the pool! It was just what we needed - a nice cooldown and relaxation time. My friend Kelsey and her boyfriend Franc joined us later on for dinner.}

{After our hike we came back to my mom’s house for some time in the pool! It was just what we needed – a nice cooldown and relaxation time. My friend Kelsey and her boyfriend Franc joined us later on for dinner.}

{I also got to enjoy my brother's company that night, too!}

{I also got to enjoy my brother’s company that night, too!}

For the second part of my dad’s day we went out to breakfast, stopped by my friend Cammy’s new fixer-upper {I cannot wait to see the finished product!!} and then took a stroll through the White Bear Lake Farmer’s Market. It was a nice leisurely day before we had to head out to Lake Minnetonka for the rehearsal dinner for Sammy and Amy’s wedding.

{the rehearsal dinner took place on a boat called Lady of the Lake, which was chartered for a 3-hour cruise around Lake Minnetonka. Alex had never been on the lake before, and I hadn't been since I was a kid. It was super nostalgic for me, and it was fun to see how much Alex enjoyed it too!}

{the rehearsal dinner took place on a boat called Lady of the Lake, which was chartered for a 3-hour cruise around Lake Minnetonka. Alex had never been on the lake before, and I hadn’t been since I was a kid. It was super nostalgic for me, and it was fun to see how much Alex enjoyed it too!}

{Sammy, whose real name is John, and Alex were nextdoor neighbors our sophomore year of college. Sammy's roommate was a high school classmate of mine. It goes without saying that because of their similar senses of humor, the three guys became great friends very quickly! We are so happy for Sammy and Amy and it was a pleasure to go back and attend their wedding.}

{Sammy, whose name is actually John, and Alex were nextdoor neighbors our sophomore year of college. Sammy’s roommate, Phil, was a high school classmate of mine. It goes without saying that because of their similar senses of humor, the three guys became great friends very quickly! We are so happy for Sammy and Amy and it was a pleasure to go back and attend their wedding.}

Saturday was hands-down the most crazy day of our trip. It was a really fun day filled with seeing old friends, but we bounced around from the northwest corner of the Twin Cities to the northeast corner and then back down to the southwest corner for the wedding before heading to the airport at 5:15 a.m. on Sunday morning. Ay caramba!

{Steph and Molly came over to Sarah's house for brunch with their kids on Saturday morning. Sarah and Mike live near where we were on Lake Minnetonka the night before, so they graciously drove us to and from the rehearsal and we spent the night at their beautiful home. I hadn't met Steph's seven month-old son yet, so this was a perfect chance to do so!}

{Steph and Molly came over to Sarah’s house for brunch with their kids on Saturday morning. Sarah and Mike live near where we were on Lake Minnetonka the night before, so they graciously drove us to and from the rehearsal and we spent the night at their beautiful home. I hadn’t met Steph’s seven month-old son yet, so this was a perfect chance to do so!}

{After brunch we trekked across town back to Mahtomedi, where I grew up, for my friend Kailey's son's first birthday party. I am really glad we squeezed this in. It was a perfect lake setting and I loved catching up with my girlfriends!}

{After brunch we trekked across town back to Mahtomedi, where I grew up, for my friend Kailey’s son’s first birthday party. I am really glad we squeezed this in. It was a perfect lake setting and I loved catching up with my girlfriends!}

{this was the most relaxing first birthday party I've ever been to!}

{this was the most relaxing first birthday party I’ve ever been to!}

{we ended our evening at Sammy and Amy's wedding in Chaska. We got to catch up with Phil and Anja, two of my high school classmates, and Phil was Sammy's roommate when they lived next door to Alex. It was really great to get a chance to spend time with them.  Yes, we had a little fun in the photo booth!}

{we ended our evening at Sammy and Amy’s wedding in Chaska. We got to catch up with Phil and Anja, two of my high school classmates, and Phil was Sammy’s roommate when they lived next door to Alex. It was really great to get a chance to spend time with them. Yes, we had a little fun in the photo booth!}

The trip overall was fantastic and crazy. It’s never very relaxing when we go back to the Midwest, but I feel like we did manage to squeeze in a few days where we didn’t have a ton going on. I am so unbelievably grateful for the friends we got to see while we were back. It’s truly incredible and makes my eyes water a bit just thinking about how many wonderful life-long friends we both have and how easy it is for us to go a year {or several!} without seeing each other and pick things up like we saw them yesterday. I especially enjoyed spending time with Alex’s high school friends – it’s really rare and I so, so, so enjoyed them. I only wish we could have seen all of our friends and family members, but it’s next to impossible to make it work when we’re back for such a short time.

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Thanks to our friends and family for a wonderful time! We hope to see you all soon {come visit us!} 🙂

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Weekend in Chicago

This past weekend we hopped on a plane and headed to Chicago for a few days with Alex’s family. Alex’s cousin Josh was getting married, which prompted the trip, but we took an extra day to spend with Alex’s sister and her husband in the city.

{quick selfie at Josh & Janessa's wedding}

{quick selfie at Josh & Janessa’s wedding}

We flew in late Thursday night by way of Alaska Airlines, our new favorite airline. Alaska is nothing short of amazing – we had such a great flying experience. Alina and Alberto picked us up and whisked us off to their apartment in the Ravenswood neighborhood of Chicago. They just bought a new apartment a few blocks away but don’t close for a week so we weren’t able to see it quite yet.

{Alex and Alberto had a good time smoking hookah together}

{Alex and Alberto had a good time smoking hookah together out on the porch}

Our time in Chicago was quick and the weather was horrible. The predicted high on Friday, our only day in the city, was 86 degrees and it was supposed to rain. In reality it might have gotten to 55 or 60 degrees with a nice, consistent drizzle. Alex and I were not prepared for the chilly, rainy weather {go figure}, so after Alina and I went to yoga the four of us headed to a nearby neighborhood for lunch and a stroll.

{the neighborhood we stopped at was very Swedish so we popped into a Swedish bakery and got some treats}

{the neighborhood we stopped at was very Swedish so we popped into a Swedish bakery and got some treats}

That night we had an awesome dinner at Gather, a restaurant in the Lincoln Square neighborhood, which is close to Alina and Alberto’s place. The restaurant specializes in sharable plates, so we got a bunch of stuff to share. Everything was delicious! We had a really nice evening together.

{great evening out in Chicago!}

{great evening out in Chicago!}

Saturday morning we drove west to Batavia where Alex’s parents live. I had a brunch to attend in the nearby town of Geneva which was planned to honor my college friend Julie, who is getting married in October. It was really nice to spend some time with Julie and two of the other bridesmaids, plus it was a really nice morning.

{bridesmaids brunch!}

{bridesmaids brunch!}

That evening we were joined by Alex’s cousin Bryan, and his wife, Sarah, and some friends of Alina’s, Atalie and Ben, as we went to Josh and Janessa’s wedding. By mid-afternoon it was hot. Hot and huuuumid. And there were looming storms on the horizon. Perfect weather for a barn/outdoor wedding!

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The wedding was held at Heritage Prairie Farms in Elburn, Illinois. The property was beautiful – lush, rolling grass and gardens, along with a few barns, a cute little house and a huge party tent. Josh, the groom, is Alex’s cousin, but they also graduated in the same class from the same high school, so while this was a family wedding, it was also a “friend” wedding where Alex got to see a lot of his old high school classmates.

{all dressed up and ready to go!}

{all dressed up and ready to go!}

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{the lovely property}

{the lovely property}

{inside the barn where the ceremony took place}

{inside the barn where the ceremony took place}

{the reception tent - thank goodness we had a covered spot because it POURED later on in the evening}

{the reception tent – thank goodness we had a covered spot because it POURED later on in the evening}

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{Bryan and Sarah :)}

{Bryan and Sarah :)}

{The cake cutting!}

{The cake cutting!}

{Alex and me with Stacy, Alex's cousin, and Alberto}

{Alex and me with Stacy, Alex’s cousin, and Alberto}

The evening was really nice. We had a great time seeing Alex’s family, dancing and catching up with Alex’s old friends from high school.

{Alina and Josh}

{Alina and Josh}

Our last day in Illinois was fairly low-key. We spent the morning just lounging around, chatting and hanging out. Bryan, Sarah, Atalie and Ben stayed over at Alex’s parents house, so it was nice for everyone to have more time together. I had one more bridal party affair to attend – I had my friend Julie’s bridal shower on Sunday afternoon, followed by a quick stop at the Bailey’s {family friends of Alex’s parents} new house.

{the bridesmaids with the blushing bride (Julie is in the middle)}

{the bridesmaids with the blushing bride (Julie is in the middle)}

We had a really nice trip. It’s always great to catch up with Alex’s family – plus it had been quite some time since I had been back in Batavia and Chicago. But, it won’t be long before we’ll be back again…

Trip to Illinois & Wisconsin

Our last stops on our Midwest Tour were in Illinois and Wisconsin, ultimately to attend Alex’s good friend Kari’s wedding on October 5th. We arrived in Illinois early Wednesday morning after our superfast flight from Minneapolis. Since we had been bouncing all over Minnesota for almost a week Alex and I wanted to just plant our feet in one place for a few days, so instead of staying at his parents house for a night, we just stopped there to have brunch and see some renovations they did on the house and then we headed north to their lake home in Wisconsin.

The Allen's condo complex in the sunset.

The Allen’s condo complex in the sunset.

We knew that the weather was probably going to be the nicest on our first day, so we changed into our shorts and tee shirts and sat out on the deck and drank Donna’s newly famous {and delicious!} Sangria for most of the afternoon.

Boat Ride!

Boat Ride!

One of the best parts of being up at the lake is not having an agenda. We spent most of our days relaxing, catching up and just hanging out. There is always a new puzzle waiting to be put together whenever we go back to Illinois or Wisconsin so that kept us occupied for a bit too. It’s always a highlight to be able to take a boat ride around the lake – especially at sunset!

Me and my MIL

Me and my MIL

Boat cruise

Boat cruise

I had somehow never been to Lake Geneva before, which is right next to Lake Delavan, where the Allen’s lake home is. Lake Geneva is a pretty famous summer vacation spot in southern Wisconsin and is home to some local celebrities and really, really nice houses. We spent the better half of one afternoon popping into some of the shops and we enjoyed a nice lunch at Scuttlebutt’s.

 

The Allens in Wisconsin.

The Allens in Wisconsin.

On Friday Alex’s sister flew in from New York. It was so nice to see her! It had been since last Thanksgiving since we had the chance to see her. The day she arrived we went back to Lake Geneva for lunch to a really fun place called Pier 290. After lunch Donna, Alina and I split up and did a little wedding shopping – I got to see Alina’s wedding dress {!!!!} and Donna tried on a few mother-of-the-bride dresses. So fun!

Hanging out with Alina was so much fun.

Hanging out with Alina was so much fun.

We had a mini Iowa State reunion on Friday evening when Bryan, Alex’s cousin, drove up from Chicago to spend the evening with Alex and catch up. It was really nice for the two of them to spend some time together! We’re hoping that Bryan and his girlfriend will pay us a visit in Seattle this year {hint, hint!}.

Alex & Bryan

Alex & Bryan

Saturday morning we headed back to Illinois pretty early because Donna had booked hair appointments for the girls! Alina wanted to get her haircut, so Donna scheduled a blowout for herself and an up-do for me for the wedding on Saturday evening. I love that my mother in-law makes having nice hair such a priority!

Can't really see much of my hair, but it looked cool in back!

Can’t really see much of my hair, but it looked cool in back!

Alex and I left mid-afternoon for Kari and Mike’s wedding at the Morton Arboretum. It ended up pouring just a bit before their wedding, so their original plan of having an outdoor ceremony was out the window. Alex’s friend Nick, who lived next door to Kari growing up, was their officiant and did a fantastic job of making an extremely personal service for them. It was really fun! The wedding was beautiful and it was nice to catch up with some of Alex’s friends from high school. I ended up getting sick mid-way through dinner {no, not from drinking, I had a virus} so I went back to the hotel and then sent Alex back to the wedding so he didn’t miss any time with his friends. He reported the next morning that the rest of the wedding was great and that he enjoyed catching up with his friends who he seldom sees.

Alex all dressed up.

Alex all dressed up.

The next morning we decided to order room service in our hotel room, and conveniently the movie Bridesmaids was on TV at the same time, so that’s how we spent an hour or two Sunday morning before heading back to his parents house for a family brunch.

Family photo!

Family photo!

Once we got back to Batavia, where Alex’s parents live, we got a chance to see Alex’s nana, his aunt Chris and two uncles named Mike, along with Vince and Nora, two family friends of the Allens. It is always nice to get to visit with everyone.

Alina and I with Nana.

Alina and I with Nana.

Before we knew it it was time to head to O’Hare to fly back to Seattle!

Midwest Tour

Oofta! Alex and I just returned from a whirl wind trip back to the Midwest. The purpose of our trip was to attend two weddings, one in Minnesota on September 28th and the other in Illinois on October 5th. Because the weddings were so close in time and proximity we just decided to make a long trip and stay the week in between instead of coming back to Seattle in the middle. I’ll break our trip down into smaller posts, but here’s a good compilation of our trip. Boy did we make the most of our 11 days!

Enjoying the great outdoors in Wisconsin on our tour of the Midwest.

Enjoying the great outdoors in Wisconsin on our tour of the Midwest.

Our trip started on Thursday the 26th when we flew out of Seattle to arrive in Minnesota just in time to have dinner at my mom’s with John and my good friend from high school, Kelsey, and her boyfriend, Franc. We had ribs and Kelsey’s homegrown tomatoes for dinner, along with Kelsey’s first apple pie, which was a great success. After dinner we headed two blocks away to stay at my dad’s house for the evening.

Local fun at Zorbaz

Local fun at Zorbaz

Bright and early on Friday morning we made the 2 1/2 hour drive up to Brainerd, Minnesota to Grandview Lodge, the location of Sarah and Mike’s wedding. We arrived with just enough time to grab a quick lunch before I had a spa appointment with the bridal party and Alex was left to fend for himself until we met up again for the rehearsal dinner.

Getting our nails did :)

Getting our nails did :)

Saturday was Sarah’s wedding day! I got to spend the whole day with the beautiful bride. The weather in the morning and early afternoon was terrible – it was absolutely pouring until about 2 hours from the wedding time, then the sun started to peak out. Thankfully the rain held off for the wedding so we could hold the ceremony outside.

Sarah and me with our hairdos... all ready for the ceremony.

Sarah and me with our hairdos… all ready for the ceremony.

The wedding was beautiful, as was the reception! Sarah had a classy rustic theme for the decor and the bridesmaids all looked beautiful in navy and magenta. Everything went off without a hitch and the DJ kept a lot of us dancing until 1 a.m.!

Here comes the bride!

Here comes the bride!

Sunday Alex and I headed to my dad’s family’s cabin for the afternoon just to have some R & R and have a chance to spend some time with my dad. It was so relaxing and we loved taking a walk through the property. We ended the night with a wonderful bon fire and made s’mores.

The cabin.

The cabin.

Knowing we didn’t have much time to ourselves during the trip, Alex and I snuck away on Monday and Tuesday and went on a little road trip adventure. We headed east to Minnesota’s North Shore, along Lake Superior, and drove up just a bit past Two Harbors to admire the scenery, {barely} changing colors and stop to take in some sights.

Gooseberry Falls - our first stop on the North Shore.

Gooseberry Falls – our first stop on the North Shore.

Once we returned from our drive we squeezed in a meet-up with my longtime friend Esther. We met her and her two {and a half} kiddos for a little play date and got a chance to catch up. It had been over two years since I had last seen her – her youngest was just a few weeks old and now she’s a walking, talking two year old, soon-to-be big sister!

IMG_2675

After our shopping extravaganza we breezed through my grandma’s house and got a quick chance to catch up before meeting my mom and John at Rudy’s Rooftop for a nice dinner. We ended our evening and Minnesota stay back at my dad’s before taking off for Illinois on Wednesday morning.

The Allens in Wisconsin.

The Allens in Wisconsin.

Our first day in Illinois was the best weather of our whole trip there – it was sunny and warm. Once we got to Alex’s parents house we had brunch and then headed up to his family’s lake home in southern Wisconsin. Alex and I wanted to go up to the lake to have a few days in one place since we had been bouncing all over and living out of a suitcase. It was so nice to have a home base for three days!

Weather gorgeous enough to take the boat out one evening.

Weather gorgeous enough to take the boat out one evening.

Finally on Saturday it was time for our last big event, the main reason we were in Illinois in the first place. Kari and Mike’s wedding was at Morton Arboretum, which is about 20 minutes away from Alex’s parents home. The day of the wedding was kind of funky weather, and unfortunately, it did not hold out for their event. The wedding had to be held inside, but thankfully there was a beautiful backdrop overlooking the arboretum. Alex’s good friend Nick, who grew up next door to Kari, was the officiant of the wedding. Nick is quite the charmer and did a fantastic job of making the ceremony just perfect for Kari and Mike.

Alex sure cleans up well!

Alex sure cleans up well!

Mid-way through dinner at the wedding I ended up getting sick and went back to our hotel room. After a bit I started feeling a little better so I sent Alex back to the wedding. It was great that Alex got a chance to catch up with so many old friends, but I was disappointed not to have gotten a chance to chat with them on the rare occasion. Needless to say, I hardly have any photos from the wedding.

My wedding get up.

My wedding get up.

The last day of our trip was spent in Illinois at Alex’s parents house. Alex’s mom put on a little brunch for some family members so that we had a chance to see Alex’s grandma, aunt and two uncles, along with some family friends of the Allens.

Time with Nana.

Time with Nana.

We arrived back to Seattle safe and sound, and due to our crazy cab driver, we made it back home from the airport in record time. Henry and Jackson were very excited to see us, as we were them, and we’re working into a new routine this week.