Sunday, April 12, 2015

Up, Up and Away!

Getting our puppy fix with Sam!

Not the best pic but we were having fun :)

A Mama and her son :)

      A little delayed but well worth the post. Ryan and I spent a wonderful weekend in March in good ‘ole Bonita Springs, Florida. We got to spend some time with the Mama, cousin JoAnn, Gram and Gramps and we even crossed paths with Stephanie as well as Kelli who flew down for a few days. It was a much needed vaca from frigid Chi-town…something we have learned we have to do in the winter, EVERY winter, in order to maintain our sanity.

      It was so nice to spend time with the family and just relax. Of course, in true Benson style, we partook in many activities including daily bike rides, maybe even a run here or there, fishing, a concert, some dancing, some shopping at our favorite store and even some parasailing.

First run in a long while...
A bass fisherman…. 
      Ahh parasailing…what can I say? I’ve always wanted to do it and now I can say I have and it was quite exhilarating. Bless Ryan’s heart, I think that he had white knuckles the entire time we were up there and I can’t say that I was too relaxed flying around either! Of course, we chose to do the higher parasail for longer because if your going to do it, then do it up but as the minutes ticked by while we hung out in the sky, it became clear to us that we probably won’t be doing this again until we have kiddo’s. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve never parasailed, you should definitely do it and it helped that we had great company to parasail with but it was definitely scarier than we thought it would be. Let’s just say, I don’t think I’ll be jumping out of a plane or partaking in any other wild outdoor sports involving parachutes or bungee cords for a while. We got some great videos! Check them out below!

Kelli & Karen

Far, Far Away!
Taking a dip...

Dancing kicks...

Family time with the sister :)

Kelli and the Mama :)

Ryan and Whitney Parasailing!

We saw lots of wildlife. Some dolphins, turtles (Ryan even caught one accidently with his expert fishing skills…I won’t go into that traumatizing story) and a gator or  two. Although it wasn’t nearly enough time, overall it was really nice to spend some time with Mama Benson and the rest of the family and we are very much looking forward to May when we can expect them to come home and be closer to us. I have to say as time goes on, everyone living in different places is starting to get old and I find myself far more nostalgic for our family these days. I think this is just further compounded in the winter when the snowbirds depart for Florida so perhaps with their migration home, it will make it easier to have more family just a car ride away. There just isn’t enough time or money to visit everyone all the time and foster the relationships we wish we could have as Auntie and Uncle. So with that being said, give everyone a hug and kiss tonight from us and let’s start utilizing the some technology here and Facetime a little more often :)


All our love,

Mr. and Mrs. B


Friday, April 10, 2015

On your mark, get set, let’s race some turtles!

       So it was off to the turtle races we go and might I add, what a hoot! Our friend Kate nonchalantly informed us of this bar, while we were driving by it one Sunday afternoon. Of course as soon as we discovered something as ridiculous as turtle racing existed in the Chicago city limits, Ryan and I were game to check it out! After a sushi dinner, we arrived at the bar and it was packed. The beauty of the bar is everyone has a chance to partake in the turtle racing and your chances only increase with the more drinks one consumes; you can imagine…it’s quite a drunken mess. The more drinks one buys, the more raffle tickets you’re given and anyone who knows me knows I am a total sucker for “winning” anything. I consider myself pretty unlucky when it comes to winning games via blind luck. However, Ryan on the other hand, seems to be the luckiest and always wins the big bucks in casinos playing mere penny slot machines. With my husband as my lucky charm at my side we were called upon to represent  the turtle Lucky Dan, in the races.  Oddly, turtle racing is quite exciting and the MC was pretty awesome. Of course, the turtles don’t always want to participate so rules have to be bent in order to move onto the next race. I was pretty stoked that we got second place, even though we didn’t actually win anything. Overall, I was pretty proud of our Lucky Dan and we will most definitely do this again! Check out our video below.

Stocking up on Raffle Tickets
Sushi Boats prior to the races!
The boys

       Later on that weekend, we went to my former primaries first birthday party. While I don't think the parent's would care about me posting their names considering they frequently tag me on Facebook in stuff, I won't per Hippa. When I first started working in the NICU almost 3 years ago, I took care of a little babe. It was so long ago, that I was actually on day shift at the time and got to spend time with her parents and family. She was in the NICU for a brief time and then got to go home to her family. Fast-forward a little more than a year and my primary was born. When you choose to primary a baby, you are choosing to work with that baby every time you work in order to provide consistent care. Any baby can have a primary but usually it is the young, little babies that people choose to pick up. Overall, I think it makes the parents experience a little better because they know who their baby is with while they can’t always be there.
       My primary was born quite a bit earlier than her sister and was a teeny little babe. I was so touched when they asked about me in the first weeks of her life. I couldn’t believe that I had made any sort of lasting impression on them, considering her older sister’s stay was on the shorter end of a NICU visit. By then, I had gone to the dark side of nights but I immediately remembered them and decided that I would pick my little babe up as my primary. I spent many months with little miss, helping her finish growing outside of mama, teaching her to breath on her own and helping fatten her up. We also did many an art project with her, highlighting her milestones and triumphs and I am happy to report that they still display her caterpillar milestone chart in her bedroom at home! It was so nice to be invited to her first birthday and to see her older sister who I also took care of in the NICU. It was also really nice to see her family again and for Ryan to get to see how awesome my job truly is and the great relationships we make with our babies and their families. All and all, it was a pretty fun day and always very exciting to see how far our kiddos have come after they leave the NICU.

At the Brisk Brew Festival!
      Oddly, after our one-year-old birthday party that we attended, we went to the other extreme and attended a winter beer festival down the street from us. Chicago summers are always amazing partly due to the weekly festivals they have so it was kind of a treat to get to attend a festival literally down the block from us in the middle of winter; it was nice and cozy too in a heated tent. A little bit crowded, probably because everyone else had the same idea as we had but it was a great way to try a bunch of brews for a decent price. I think Ryan got discounted tickets in a Groupon but I believe tickets were around $25 and that included like 13 samples of beers and the sample glass was a pretty decent size. The beers were pretty potent as well so I definitely wasn’t able to use up all my drink tickets. I think we will definitely go to this again next year.

I will work on adding to the blog posts! Sorry I am so delayed all the time!

All our love,

Mr. and Mrs. B XOXO

Friday, February 27, 2015

I’ve made true to my promise to get out and enjoy Chicago more, even in this wonderful Chicago winter weather. A few of our favorite things that we’ve done/gone to this last month are:

Kingston Mines:  An awesome 5 am (on Saturdays) Jazz and Blues Bar. Who am I kidding, we are old and I think we left prior to midnight but it was still amazing and I will most definitely be coming back here again. It’s a $12 - $15 cover charge depending on the night you go and you get to listen to great music. They have 2 stages and flip flop between both with live music throughout the night!

Champs while enjoying the play!
Royal George Theatre: Ryan and I went here on Valentines Day weekend and enjoyed a comedy play called First Date…not quite sure we could relate to it as well as others considering we haven’t been on a first date since 2007 but it was still awesome. The play is about a blind date and it plays out in real time and takes your through all the funny things/awkward moments that happen on dates that we hear about all the time through our friends. Plus, the Royal George Theatre is super cute, small and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

Dinosaur Sue

Field History Museum: We hung out with Dinosaur Sue and my favorite, enjoyed the rare jewel exhibit.

Bottle and Bottega: I gifted one of my close friends a night here and we happened to cash it in and celebrate my other friend Alexandra’s birthday sipping on wine while painting  our masterpieces. It was fun, although I’ll admit, I was a little stressed out and quickly discovered that perhaps the painting we picked was a little advanced and my OCD NICU nurse tendancies may not be well suited in a timed painting class. Unfortunately, we painted more than we drank but we did make up for that later. My only complaint is that we went on a night where our picture options were nothing that I would ever chosen to hang up in my house and if you decide to paint a different picture, you won’t get the direction that you really need but it was still fun nonetheless and a great girls night out.
Harnessing my inner artist
Tea at the Drake: Perks of working night shift/being a nurse….you work 3 days a week and that allows you all sorts of time to do fun activities with your best friends when you off and everyone else is working. I have wanted to do High Tea at the Drake for a while now and I will most definitely be coming back and doing this again. It was awesome and a great activity in the winter! It was a tad expensive but that may have been because we drank more bellinis than tea.
Besides looking like a line backer in my fur vest, it was a classy affair! 
Bellinis with best friends :)
Up next? While Ryan has gotten to ice skate this year a few times, I still haven’t gotten to try out  ice-skating at Maggie Daly park and so I plan to do this on an off day when there isn’t an hour long wait for skate rentals. This weekend we plan to go to a bar where you can partake in turtle racing…sounds like a hoot so why not? Then, Ryan and I are off to beer fest and perhaps we will squeeze in speakeasy called Violet Hour.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

For a talkative gal, I have sure been quiet...

So I guess we can tell which one of my new years resolutions I'm failing at…blogging of course.  I’ll try to be better at this…promise!

We’ve had a busy month or so since I last wrote on here.  We travelled to D.C. to spend some quality time with the Kellys and to meet our beautiful new nieces, Miss Dylan and Miss June. It was lots of fun snuggling up with the 2 would think with work, it would get old but I just can’t seem to get enough! We also got to spend some much needed quality time with the boys! Apparently our toy washing machine christmas gift was a big hit with Hank, while I believe the babies may have been Gus' favorite gift. They really are the sweetest brothers and every time we see any of the nieces/nephews, they’ve all grown up so much and their personalities have developed more and more which is an unfortunate reminder that we just don’t get to see them enough! After what felt like a short visit, I left my poor sister in a house with no heat or power and 4 kids under the age of 4 and came back to chi-town. Some sister I am, right? Obviously there was a power outage and just when my night nurse skills could have come in use, I had to ditch the poor mama of 4 who had to spend 2 nights in a hotel with her family of 6! They survived and on the bright side, perhaps it perpetuated some serious family bonding!  

Sleeping beauties :)
Mr. Hank at Zoo Lights!
Sweet Gusser!

Bundled up for an afternoon stroll
Uncle Ryan on feeding duty 

Trying to stay warm in the only warm room in the house…its hard to see but thats Dylan snuggled up under the covers!

Ryan and I thought we may get by with a somewhat mild winter but then February came and with it, some sub zero, frozen temperatures and a little storm called Linus. We survived the storm (although, my work was offering up patient rooms for the nurses to sleep in overnight in case we couldn’t leave…ummm, no thank you…I told Ryan, I would walk home from work if that was the only option) and we even enjoyed the Super Bowl with some great friends! Linus was the most snow I’ve seen in a while and for a week or so, our terrace was snowed in under a foot or so of icy, hard snow. Such a delight!
Ryan's snowman

Don't worry about King…he
 wears his fur hat when it's cold outside!
Snowed in...
Because when else can you make
snow angels in the middle of the road? 

So far in 2015, Ryan and I have been out exploring the city, hanging with friends and enjoying newly wedded bliss. Keep your eyes peeled for a more detailed post on our endeavors and of course, stay warm!

Love, the Bensons XOXO

Friday, January 9, 2015

New Year, Improved Me...

Well this girl is a sucker for New Years!! While I am sad to see 2014 go, as it was such a special year for us, there is something about starting fresh, making goals and resolutions that gets me really excited! I have been known to make obscenely long lists of resolutions in the past. My hope this year is that by posting my resolutions, I will feel more accountable for them and have more of an inclination to follow through.
In the last 2 years that we’ve resided in Chicago, I feel like I haven’t gotten to explore the city nearly as much as I would like to. Working every other weekend and planning our wedding left me little time to enjoy all the things Chicago has to offer. Now, working every third weekend and with our wedding behind us, I can finally find the time to enjoy all the things that I missed out on!

Here are some of my resolutions and goals for 2015…
  • Read 1 book a month for pleasure…I was so eager to start this resolution, that I started the week prior to the new year and even found a new way to pass the time at work. I have already read 2 books so I am feeling pretty confident that this resolution is a keeper. Ryan hates that I watch TV prior to going to bed at night and this has really helped in that department; in fact, he has tried to watch a show a few times while turning in for bed and I find it really annoying while I’m trying to read. I guess this is something I have to put up with for a little while as I use to do this to him. My, how the tables have turned!
  • Try a new recipe, once a week…again, I was too eager to wait for 2015, so I started this the week prior to the New Year. Every year we make a family cookbook compiled of our favorite recipes tried and true for the year. I find myself struggling to find good recipes worthy to place in our cookbook because I slack off cooking during the year or I forget which recipes I’ve already put into our previous years cookbooks. I’m hoping this will help alleviate this problem and perhaps aid us in eating healthier, which we both could afford to do.
  • Be more active, which of course includes going to the gym…my favorite…not!  I will admit, I haven’t exactly started this resolution quite yet.
  • Be more conscious with savings
  • Buy a home…if we find the right one and the time is right, of course!
  • Be present and in the moment
  • Blog, Blog, Blog
  • And overall, I would like to establish more of a routine in my day-to-day life, which can be difficult at times due to working night shift but I am determined to try and figure this out so I don’t spend so much time hanging in bed when I could be exploring the outdoors

Here’s to a great year in 2015! I can’t wait to share it with ya’ll!