What I Learned From Completing A Spartan Beast

What I Learned From Completing A Spartan Beast

After finishing a Spartan Sprint in January, my husband, our friend Cameron, and I all decided that we wanted to get our Trifecta medals. What this means, is that we would need to complete a Spartan Sprint, Super, and Beast within one calendar year. Easy, right?

If you know nothing about Spartan Races, here’s a quick rundown:

*Image from spartan.com

Almost immediately following our Sprint we went online and looked up the closest Super and Beast so that we could reach full badassery and get our Trifecta medals. Because of the locations and timing, we ended up needing to book our Beast (the hardest race) before our Super. But hey. no biggie. We’re badasses now, remember?

 

We had been doing a fairly decent job at training until I came down with something that had me unable to do any extreme exercise for about a month. So walking into this race, I was nervous.

The Beast took place in Big Bear at the Snow Summit Ski Resort and it was the first time they had ever used the location, meaning that even seasoned vets didn’t know what to expect.

The moment my eyes met the mountain I was petrified, which clearly showed because Derek nudged me to take a quick minute to meditate and get right with myself.

Before I knew it, our time slot was being called to the bullpen and the announcer was leading us all in a Spartan chant.

AROO, AROO, AROO.

Suddenly, we were off and headed up an almost perpendicular hill. Within minutes (and I do mean minutes), I had already gotten inside my head.

My breathing quickened, my legs trembled, and I felt like I was going to pass out.

WHAT. IN. THE. HELL. WAS. I. THINKING.

There was no way I would complete this race, I couldn’t even make it up the very first hill.

Thankfully, Derek knows me almost better than I know myself and he came rushing over, urging me to place my hands above my head and breathe deeply.

Deep breaths, mama. Deep breaths. 

After the panic attack subsided we began moving again and finally reached the top of the hill, only to find another one immediately waiting for us—as steep as the last.

I placed my hands on top of my thighs, using force to keep them moving as I trudged up the mountain. Again, the “top” turned out to be a ridge and up we went some more.

After climbing for about 50 minutes with only a very small decline in-between, we came across an absolutely gut-wrenching sign. It said:

MILE 1

 

My heart sank into my chest.

There is no way I’m going to be able to finish this 12-mile race.

I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and defeated.

Why did I think I could do this? We climbed for another mile until we finally reached the sandbag obstacle, which, big surprise, included more climbing.

I began my mantras for the umpteenth time in the hour and a half since we started.

ONE FOOT IN FRONT OF THE OTHER.

I AM STRONG, I AM FIT, I AM ABLE.

LEFT, RIGHT. LEFT, RIGHT.

I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS ME.

My face says it all. The internal struggle hit its peak right here.

I reached the top of the hill, dropped my sandbag, and sat down. I still had to bring it all the way down, but I needed a moment to catch my breath.

Derek and Cameron were already at the bottom of the hill waiting for me and I didn’t want to slow them down anymore, but I couldn’t find the strength to stand back up.

But then I looked around me and saw all of the faces of these men and women carrying their sandbags—covered in dust, and sweat, and determination—suddenly I was rising. Putting the sandbag back over my shoulders from the ground was taxing. I had to push all of the weight to one side so that I could lift it over my neck and then shimmy the sand to even it out before heading back down to finish.

When I met with the guys at the bottom they were taking a few bites of a protein bar and I was shaking all over. I sat for 2 minutes or so, and then back up the mountain, we climbed.

We were ascending for the greater portion of the course. Every time we would reach a peak, we’d turn the corner and see another climb ahead. It did a number on everyone’s mental state. There were people crying, complaining, and contemplating their life choices throughout the entire 12 miles.

The event page said that the race, “can access elevations as high as 8,200 ft and take you back down 1,200 ft of vertical drop” but what it didn’t say was that you would make that climb TWICE with 30 obstacles thrown into the mix.

Nobody, not even the most elite, were prepared for a course quite like this one.

I knew if I was going to keep myself going I needed to find pockets of joy and beauty wherever I could, so I began looking for them everywhere.

I found happiness in the breathtaking views of Big Bear Lake from the top of the summit. I found energy from fellow Spartans around us that had music playing (including one moment when “Don’t Stop Believing” came on right as we turned a corner and saw yet another hill to climb). I found strength from a little girl who had taken the ski lift up the mountain and then climbed down to a turning spot, purely to pass out high fives to every runner that passed her.

Each moment of weakness was met with an equal moment of power. And finally, as we reached mile 8, I knew that absolutely nothing was going to stand in the way of me finishing this race.

Without Derek and Cameron, I would have never made it.

Not only did they help me over walls, lift me up to bars I couldn’t reach, and grab my footing when I was slipping—but they showered me with encouragement the entire time and never left me behind.

Toward the end, we reached an obstacle called the “Bender” (pictured below) that rocked me.

I contemplated even trying it because my entire body felt exhausted by this point and I wasn’t sure if I would have the strength to pull it over the bars, but I finally decided to give it a go anyway.

The guys gave me a boost and the next thing I knew I was sitting on this bendy obstacle trying to figure out how to lift my weight and pull myself over it.

Derek and Cameron were both getting worried because I was so high up and I couldn’t get my footing right.

“Lift your body over the side! Pull your arm over! Don’t put your leg like that!”

I paused. Dangled my limbs, centered my breath, and finally, pulled myself over. When I jumped down, I ended up knocking Derek over with my butt which then turned into a giant joke, but in that moment I felt like a damn BEAST.

That obstacle scared the shit out of me, but I conquered it.

Momentum kicked in and we all picked up the pace.

The sun had set and darkness was filling in all around us, but we just kept moving.

And suddenly, we were surrounded by a group of people who were saying, “less than a half a mile left!”

Were we really at the end?

I zipped through the tire obstacle that stood between me and the finish line, did some burpees for the rope obstacle (because there was no way I could do that even if it was at the very beginning), and as we made our way to the slip wall, we saw Cameron’s wife, Kelly, on the sidelines.

She took our hydration packs for us so that we could go through the mud without ruining them and we bolted over the slip wall and came face to face with our last set of obstacles: The rolling mud and underwater wall.

By this point it was 6:30 pm and only 50 degrees outside, so the volunteers were telling racers that they could skip the obstacles and waltz on over to the finish line, but I wasn’t having that.

“Guys, we came all this way. We are fucking finishing this thing the right way!” 

Derek and Cameron were less than thrilled with my enthusiasm, but they made their way into the chilly, muddy, water anyway and after 7 hours and 4 minutes, we finally crossed the finish line.

The moment that medal was placed over my head I began to cry. I kept whispering, “I did it. I can’t believe I did it.” as we walked over to a series of booths where they passed out energy drinks and snacks, before cutting our timers off of our shoes and then sending us off to claim our shirts.

The guys were freezing but I wasn’t aware of the cold. In that moment, all I felt was alive.

I had conquered a beast. I WAS a beast.

Before the first mile marker I was convinced that there was no way I could finish this race—yet there I stood, 7 hours later, with two rolled ankles, bruises all over my body, and a finisher medal.

I always knew I was a fighter, of sorts. Stubborn and strongwilled.

But this race presented me my true level of strength. It pushed me past my breaking point over and over again and showed me that I can do hard things.

And most of all, it solidified my belief in the fact that with a helping hand and a heart full of faith, we can tackle any mountain that comes our way.

Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

So the moral of the story is this: Do the things you think you cannot do.

This mountain was literal, but we face figurative hurdles every day. Money issues, marital problems, parenting woes, self-doubt, and so on. Life is in no short supply of ridges to climb. But if you trust that you can do hard things and keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will surprise yourself with the level of strength that comes from within you, every time.

 

Thunder Thighs and Powerful Lies

Thunder Thighs and Powerful Lies

Nearly every day in the car, my four-year-old son will look down at his thighs, call out for my attention with an excited “LOOK!”, and declare:

“Mommy, mine are getting big—like yours!”

He will then grab his tender limbs and shake them around, repeating over and over again:

“Yours are big! And mine are getting big!”

To him, the size of his thighs—of thighs in general—is a measure of success. He sees it as a character trait of growing up and being strong.

Funny how things can change so much the longer we live in this world.

I have spent my entire life feeling horribly self-conscious about those thighs in question. I remember the exact moment I became aware of my body shape.

In fact, I remember the exact moment I became aware of my body shape.

We were on a family beach trip and I must have been in sixth or seventh grade. Puberty had tacked on some awkward pudge around my thighs and face, but I wasn’t really conscious of it. I was just sort of living my life—the way you would hope any young girl to.

But that day on the beach, I was applying sunblock and my mom looked at my thighs with concern and asked me what the marks were.

I knew then as I know now, that she only asked because she was genuinely concerned. From a distance, I’m sure the purple glow of the stretch marks against my pale skin resembled bruises, and she was merely trying to make sure I wasn’t being hurt by someone or something.

I hadn’t even noticed them before that moment. I looked down trying to understand what she was referring to, and she came closer to show me before suddenly dropping the subject entirely and moving on.

I assume once she grew near she realized what they were and was trying to avoid hurting my feelings or causing me pain by explaining what they were to me.

But it was too late. That day, I became aware of the marks on my skin. The marks that, based on my mom’s reaction, weren’t normal for a kid my age.

It would be years before I would discover what they actually were (because I was way too embarrassed to ask anyone), but once I finally gained the courage to bring the topic back up to my mom years later, she explained to me the normalcy of stretch marks and how she too, had some of her own.

Talking with my mom about it made me feel less alone, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong with me.

I stood five-foot-four-and-a-half (that half was very important to me). Not tall enough to be considered tall, yet not short enough to be considered short. This sort of, in-the-middle girl, who had power thighs with stretch marks and couldn’t ever find pants that fit her pear frame.

People referred to my body type as “stubby”, which was code for “all of your weight is in your thighs and butt”. I know it was mostly never meant as an insult, but it still plagued me.

I began trying to make myself smaller every chance I could get. Those thunder thighs and powerful lies I told myself became the driving force behind almost everything I did.

I learned how to pose at an angle. How to place one leg slightly in front of the other when I stood. To sit with my legs tightly crossed, even if my toes went numb.

I would squeeze through tight spaces and frequently bruise my hips from it. I still do this from time to time. Old habits die hard, don’t they?

A male friend once told me:

“Your body is perfect. You just need to tone those thighs.”

And so, I would shrink. Literally and figuratively.

I became more agreeable. Less committed to my own thoughts and feelings about things. I would starve myself, then end up binging. I worked out excessively, then not at all.

The multifarious degrees of sabotage began to weigh me down more than the thighs themselves.

And I’m going to be entirely honest with you here…

It was up until about a week ago.

My son, sitting in the car, gazing at his thighs with pride as he proclaimed:

“Mommy, mine are getting big—like yours!”

Those wondrous eyes of my sweet little boy. They are untainted by the world. They see things for what they ARE, rather than what our stories make them up to be.

And he sees power, and strength, and something worthy of praise in my thighs. In me.

All I ever wanted was for someone to tell me that my thighs were thin, yet all my child wants if for me to tell him that his thighs are big.

And it made me realize how backward I have been for so long.

Why have I spent so much time trying to shrink, when I was designed to command the space I stand in?

Why do we, as women, do that so often? Why do we try to reduce ourselves?

I don’t know if your insecurity is your thighs, or your arms, or whatever else that your eyes can’t seem to look away from and your brain can’t seem to stop ripping apart—but I want you to know that you were created beautifully. Perfectly.

And it is our job as women, to start filling the space around us.

We cannot shrink ourselves when we were born to command the space we stand in.

Do not shrink yourself, when you were born to command the space you stand in.

Roll your shoulders back, stand tall, and embrace the power that your presence brings into this world.

Because I can guarantee you that you’ve got your own version of my four-year-old out there looking at your insecurities as the most beautiful, wonderful things about you.

Photos courtesy of Brenda Munoz Photography

 

Adulting With Jam + A Giveaway!

Adulting With Jam + A Giveaway!

Today’s post is sponsored by Woo Garden. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

When I was younger, I probably ate enough Knott’s Berry Farm jam to fill an entire swimming pool. It was practically seeping out of my pores from all of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and jam slathered toast I consumed.

So you can imagine how depressed I was when I grew up and became aware of the fact that the things I put inside of my body have a direct relationship to how I look and feel on the outside—because those preserves are loaded with high fructose corn syrup, and then more corn syrup, and pectin, etc.

I actually stumbled upon Woo Garden while I was putting together the June box for my company, Mama Love Collective. I loved the idea of doing a jam + tea towel combo to start out the summer, and I was over the moon when I came across Woo Garden and saw all of their unique, delicious sounding flavors.

This is not your mama’s jam, but I guarantee she’ll want some too! They use inventive ingredients such as early grey tea, grand mariner, and balsamic vinegar to craft one of a kind, innovative jams that excite the taste buds. These are the ultimate “I am adulting but I also still love to get down on a PB&J” spreads and I knew they must be mine.

I ordered their pineapple based “Dawn” jam for the boxes, and it was a HUGE hit! And Woo Garden was kind enough to send me two other jams to try out as well, which are both equally delicious.

Dreamy is a peach and earl grey combo, and it tastes just as the name suggests. I feel like I’m sitting on my in-laws back porch in North Carolina in the summertime with this jam. The earl grey tames a little bit of the sugary taste of peaches, and gives it a really great taste that isn’t overly sweet.

Musk is an apricot and cantaloupe jam, and it is absolutely fantastic as well. Again, it is sweet without being overpowering, and it also has a very refreshing taste to it. This one would be delicious on some french toast!

The entire family fell in love with these jams and now I want to buy every single flavor! I love the fact that the flavors are so versatile and I can use these jams on so many different things—from crackers and pancakes, to ice cream and panda cotta.

And because I love you guys and I just so happen to have a little inventory left over from our June box, I’ve decided to do a little Instagram giveaway!

(Image from Woo Garden)

So head on over to my Instagram page to enter for a chance to win a jar of Dawn jam! I will be choosing THREE winners so good luck!

 

 

Ditching The Niche

Ditching The Niche

It’s a sloooow creep back up to the mic. My head more focused on each step than what is right in front of me.

Looking down as my toes lift and fall back onto the cool tiled floor.

Finally, I have arrived to the place my feet set out to take me a lifetime ago.

And so, I raise my chin from my neck and clear my throat.

*Tap* *Tap*

Is this thing on?

You may be wondering where I have been. Then again, maybe you haven’t at all. Blogs are a dime a dozen and there’s definitely no shortage of moms talking about mom stuff on the internet.

Still, this space has been my diary for over five years and suddenly I just abandoned it—or so it may seem.

Truth is, I have been spending a substantial amount of time deciding what I want my voice to sound like in the sea of internet sound.

Everybody tells you that you absolutely need a niche to be successful.

Narrow in on your niche!

Focus on your niche!

Don’t post outside of your niche!

These tips all come from incredibly successful bloggers, so there is obviously proof of the pudding. And yet, every time I would find myself trying to “grow my account” by narrowing in, I felt trapped.

One of the reasons I fell in love with writing as a kid was because there are no limits to it. Stories can take us into someone’s backyard for a DIY tutorial, on a grand road trip through all 50 states, to their traumatic hospital stay, and everything in between. We can create anything we can imagine in our minds through words—be it a unicorn that only eats rainbow bagels or a penguin who becomes the first animal Olympic gold medalist.

When I try and pretend to be only one piece of myself for the sake of a niche, I find myself unable to write here. And when I’m unable to write, my blog goes dark for almost three whole months.

So I have been working on fulfilling all parts of my soul—niche be damned.

For the last 10 weeks I have been diligently working on an ebook that I cannot wait to share with you guys, as well as revamping this site to reflect who I truly am, instead of who society wants me to be.

So here is a brief look at who I am, so that you have a better idea of what to expect out of this space from here on out.

15 Things That Matter To Me

  1. My husband
  2. My kids/the trials and triumphs that come with them
  3. Fitness
  4. Healthy eating
  5. Intimacy
  6. Writing
  7. My company, Mama Love Collective
  8. The gut-wrenching moments in life that define us
  9. Helping others
  10. Celebratory moments
  11. Creating printables
  12. Throwing parties
  13. Traveling
  14. The occasional DIY
  15. Attempting to make this world a better place

If these things appeal to you, then you’re in luck! Because that is precisely the direction this page is taking. Some of these things have long been discussed here and some have never been, so I’m looking forward to fusing everything together.

I hope you’ll continue to join me on this journey and I would LOVE to hear what you’re most excited about reading more of, so make sure to comment and let me know!

The Best At-Home Teeth Whitening System For Tooth Sensitivity

The Best At-Home Teeth Whitening System For Tooth Sensitivity

Have you ever bought a teeth whitening system, only to throw in the towel halfway thorough because of tooth sensitivity?

If so, you’re not alone. I’ve never been the type to experience it right away, but usually by day 3 or 4 it becomes a real problem and I end up tossing the entire system out, because ain’t nobody got time for tooth pain.

But I’ve been a mom for almost four years now, which means my wine game is strong and my coffee game is even stronger. I didn’t notice just how dull and yellow my teeth had gotten until I was standing next to another friend in a photo who had pearly whites.

I thought about running to the mothership (Target) and grabbing a cheap system, but I knew I’d end up throwing it away in a few days once it started to hurt, and I didn’t feel like wasting my money.

Then, as fate would have it, I was approached about Smile Brillant (thanks, internet!) and I was like, “yaaaasssss!”

This system is amazing and unique in that they tackle the issue of tooth sensitivity head on, which I’ll get to in a minute. First, let me give you a run down of the process.

They start by shipping you a kit so that you can create an impression of your teeth. Custom fitted trays ensure that the gel is distributed to all areas of your teeth, which is so important because who wants half white teeth? You can read more about the benefits of custom trays here: https://www.smilebrilliant.com/articles/benifits-of-choosing-custom-fitted-teeth-whitening-trays#lendmeyourkite

Once your kit arrives, you take your impressions, then send them back in a prepaid envelope. It can take up to 2 weeks to get your custom trays, but I promise it’s worth the wait. I was nervous about messing up my impressions, but the instructions were super easy to follow and when my trays came in about two weeks later, they fit perfectly!

The whitening process is hassle free, which is another big bonus. Thanks to the custom trays, I didn’t have to keep adjusting or worrying about the saliva in my mouth messing with the gel. All I had to do was apply a thin layer of gel on the trays and then pop them in for at least 30 minutes.

The last step is also my favorite feature of this kit, and what I feel sets them apart from others. They have created a desensitizing gel that you apply immediately after the whitening to help reduce tooth the sensitivity that commonly accompanies teeth whitening. This was the winnner winner chicken dinner for me, because like I said earlier, my teeth start to get sensitive and then I just give up.

Here are my results from using the kit:

Smile Brilliant Teeth Whitening

Amazing, right?! I’m so happy with the outcome, and I even have leftover gel to use for maintenance! This is hands down the best home teeth whitening kit I have ever used and I am so excited, because I’ve got a giveaway for you guys so that you can try it out too!

One lucky winner will receive $139 store credit to www.smilebrilliant.com

HOW TO ENTER:

Head on over to www.smilebrilliant.com/g/lendmeyourkite and fill out the giveaway entry form. All you need to do is provide your name and email address so that you can be contacted if you win!

*Contest ends in two weeks. Winner will be chosen at random, by Smile Brilliant. Open to UK, Australia, Canada, and USA residents*
If you don’t win, don’t worry. You can grab 5% off your purchase using Discount Code: lendmeyourkite5
Enjoy, lovelies! I know you’re going to love this system as much as I do.


How Much Is Teeth Whitening

Chicago Recap: The Food, The Attractions, The Experience

Chicago Recap: The Food, The Attractions, The Experience

 

Every time I told someone I was taking Derek to Chicago to celebrate his 30th birthday, I was met with the same response:  Why Chicago?

In fact, after the 5th person or so asked, I began to wonder if I had made some sort of Birthday-ruining mistake by planning this trip. Chicago was a place Derek and I had always talked about wanting to visit one day, so I thought his birthday would be the perfect time to cross it off the bucket list. But I think he even began to second guess the trip with all the nay-saying in the background, so we stepped into this little vacation cautiously excited.

Well, to everyone who wondered “why Chicago”, this post is for you. The city blew our socks off. Literally, and figuratively (Chicago definitely lives up to its nickname, The Windy City!). We decided that it was as if Manhattan, New York and Pasadena, California had a baby. It had the hustle and bustle of NY, on a smaller, more manageable scale. And the cleanliness and feel of Pasadena. With fresh tulips growing in planters all throughout the city and some of the kindest people I have ever met.

It’s huuuuge. We could have spent an extra 2-3 days there and probably still have left several things undone. We didn’t do everything we wanted to, but that’s because we chose to walk as much as we could to take in the scenery and fully engulf ourselves rather than rush from place to place. We racked up over 10 miles of walking in one day!

So here’s a rundown of our incredible Chicago trip.

FOOD

Of course, I’m starting with the food because, duh. In all honesty, we ended up eating appetizers and finger food for about 80% of the trip. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to man vs. food it, it’s just that we walked soooo much that by the time we finished, we would find ourselves skipping lunch and heading straight to happy hour because it was usually already pretty late. But here are some of our absolute favorites from the trip.

LOU MALNATI’S PIZZERIA

Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria was our first Chicago deep dish, and it did not disappoint. We ordered the Malnati Chicago classic and added pepperoni at our waiter’s suggestion. It was amaaaazing.

KIM AND CARLO’S HOT DOG CART

We stumbled upon Kim and Carlo’s Hot Dog Cart on our 3 mile (one way) walk to Soldier Field one day, and we ended up coming back two days later because it was that good. Classic Chicago dogs are a must, so that’s what we got! They’ve got a sign on their cart that reads “You must dance for ketchup!” because in Chicago, ordering ketchup on your hotdog is almost offensive.

PUBLIC HOUSE

Admittedly, my dessert game was weak on this trip and I only indulged once. But I made it count with this insane cake shake from Public House. I literally could not stop laughing when our waitress brought it out because I couldn’t believe how absolutely absurd it was. Our seasonal shake was strawberry, with a rainbow lemon cake on top. It was deliciously awful for us and I loved every bite.

GIORDANO’S

Giordano’s was another must and our Chicken, Sausage, Deluxe deep dish was on point!

PORTILLO’S

And we stopped in at the famous Portillo’s for more Chicago dogs. We meant to go back and try their italian beef which is supposed to be amazing, but we never made it. However, I just heard that they’ve actually got a location out here near me, so it looks like we will be making a trip to one soon!

P.S. If you’re thinking that all we ate this entire trip is pizza and hot dogs, you’re basically correct. When in Chicago!

ATTRACTIONS

CLOUD GATE AT MILLENNIUM PARK

Cloud Gate, better known as the Bean, is an obvious but necessary, stop. Millennium Park as a whole is really incredible, and this tourist attraction is one I don’t recommend skipping because it really is very cool to see in real life.

360 CHICAGO OBSERVATION DECK

360 Chicago Observation Deck is a thrill that I definitely recommend. The attraction Tilt, allows you to tilt outward over 1,000 feet above the Magnificent Mile and the view is absolutely breathtaking.

Not into tilting? That’s okay! Grab a cocktail and enjoy the view.

PINSTRIPES

Pinstripes was a bowling alley we stumbled upon and it was fantastic! They had luxury couch seating, table service, and private bowling lanes. Not to mention some delicious calamari and bruschetta which are not pictrued.

SECOND CITY

When I found out that Second City had a comedy show about the website Derek and I met on almost 9 years ago, I knew we had to go. #DateMe: An OkCupid Experiment was vulnerable, hilarious, relatable, and down right perfect. If you’re a comedy fan, I highly suggest you check out this theater and this show!

SAFEHOUSE

We happened upon SafeHouse on accident, which seems to have been a bit of a theme for us this trip. We were hungry and started yelping places nearby, and I saw that the food and atmosphere looked good, so we walked over. When we got there, we thought we had the wrong address, because there was no restaurant in sight.

I ended up opening a door to a room that looked like a real estate office, with one women sitting inside reading a book, and I awkwardly said, “Is there a restaurant here…somewhere?” I felt ridiculous, but to my surprise she replied, “I might be able to help you with that, and had us come inside.” She then asked us if we knew the password (we didn’t) and made us show her our best disco moves before finally letting us through a secret door that led to a downstairs area.

All of a sudden, we were transported into a spy-themed restaurant and we became aware of the fact that security cameras upstairs showed the entire restaurant our embarrassing entrance and disco. It was hilarious and amazing.

The waiters give you name tags to become a spy, along with a mission card—allowing you to walk around the place solving riddles.

And the food was delicious. I had a burger with Brie and bacon jam and ommmmg.

To leave, we had to find a secret doorway, put a dollar in a payphone and wait for it to ring, then enter a secret code. I mean, come on! It was such a happy accident and we had an absolute blast.

THE FIELD MUSUEM

Since The Field Musuem has dinosaurs and mummy tombs and is so gorgeous on the outside, we decided to check it out.

I would say the musuem is a must for anyone who loves science/history. It houses the most complete T-Rex found to date, along with over 30 million other specimens and artifacts.

When I entered the Egyptian tomb, I couldn’t breathe and started to cry, so you know there’s some serious history in the place.

It was remarkable, and definitely worth checking out.

NAVY PIER

Go to the pier, pay the outrageous $15 per person price tag to ride the ferris wheel, and take in the beauty that is Chicago.

 

THE EXPERIENCE

Chicago is rich in history, from its architecture to prohibition and underground crime scene back in the 1920s. We were lucky enough to find ourselves completely engulfed in this culture, often times by total accident. Walking through the city with no destination in mind led us to some gorgeous places.

And walking through the city with Yelp in hand and a vague idea of where to go, also led us to some awesome spots, like these:

THE DRIFTER

You have to walk into a Pub, go downstairs, and find the secret doorway in order to get into The Drifter—but once you do, you’re completely transported into the prohibition back in the 1920’s. Specialty drinks are printed on tarot cards and they have sporadic performers throughout the night. We even saw a burlesque show which was craaaazy!

THREE DOTS AND A DASH

This was another accidental find. We were actually looking for somewhere to eat, and Yelp showed some delicious food here, so we went looking. But once we hit the spot the directions said it was at, there was nothing there and I was sooo confused. Luckily, Derek saw people standing in the alley and decided to walk over, and to our surprise, people were walking into some random back door and we decided to follow.

The door took us to a set of stairs leading down, with skulls hanging overhead. When we got downstairs, we had been completely transported yet again into another world. This time, it was a tiki paradise!

Three Dots and a Dash is definitely worth visiting—that is, if you can find it!

OVERVIEW

Why, Chicago? Because it’s beautiful. It’s full of life. It’s rich in history. It’s welcoming. It’s everything you could possibly want in a city.

And I cannot wait until we return!