Midsummer Action

In my last post, I talked about how life was going quickly and I was trying to enjoy the ride while lacking a full-time job. This was still the case through the month of July. I participated in a good deal of family stuff, friend stuff, and professional stuff to occupy my time. Where to start?

On July 13, Matt and I were able to help out at his dad’s house for his brother and new sister-in-law’s at home wedding reception after the Dominican Republic ceremony. I am not sure how, but they fit over 100 people in his dad’s back yard for a pig roast by Porkie’s. It was a succulent pig, over 100lbs, and named Kiki. I wish I had a picture of her! It seemed like Mark and Shannon (Matt’s brother and sister-in-law) had just about everyone they could have wanted come to the reception.

The next Friday, we continued the theme of hanging with Matt’s family by taking his 7 year old niece, Jill, to our apartment for the night. It was a good deal of fun to spend time with her and learn about her. Because sleepovers do not have a bed time, when Jill asked us to go to the beach at 8pm we happily obliged. It was fun to see the city lit up at night from the lake. The next day was super busy. After a hearty breakfast that Matt made, the three of us headed to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which we live about three blocks away from. After taking a break for lunch, we went to the Nature Museum. The only really cool part of that was going to the butterfly haven to see the youngest butterflies being released into the haven for the first time.

Jill was super brave and let one land on her for a full minute or so:

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We ended the day going to one of the build-your-own-frozen-yogurt places to eat while we drove Jill home. Good times! My next adventure was an annual trip that I take with my Mom, sister, aunt, and cousin every year. Each year, we go to Shipshewana, IN for a girls trip. We usually arrive the first day go to the largest flea market in the Midwest (my sister and aunt love the junk shows ;)). After that, we head to our favorite restaurant, Das Dutchmen Essenhaus. Honestly, we get to have Thanksgiving-type food in the middle of the summer, all homemade, and we do not have to clean up after. It is amazing and by the end we are always so full we are exhausted. I mean, just look at these desserts! (We never have the stomach to eat them after the huge family style meal):

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The hotel we stayed at was also at Essenhaus. We had never stayed there before but it was gorgeous and kitschy and amazing. Absolutely loved it! For example, most common areas looked like this:

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The next day we went to the town where the Amish live and visited the shops. This is my favorite part, as there are quite a few shops dedicated to Christmas and Halloween which, if you know me, you know I love decorating for. I collect Department 56 Original Halloween Snow Village and Department 56 North Pole Series (for Halloween and Christmas respectively) and there is [WAS :(] a shop that had them all set up each year. This shop was closing down because its owners were retiring. This means I spent all of my money buying a village piece/accessory for myself and I spent all of my family’s money (they now all have Christmas presents for me). Don’t panic you guys, there is another shop that will start carrying Department 56 now so I will be okay. Overall, it was a really nice trip. I don’t have a picture with my Aunt Nancy in it, but here are the rest of us (L-R, Sarah my sister, me, Lauren my cousin, and my mom):

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The next week was my birthday/the day I took my licensing exam. The good news is…I passed! I am a Licensed Social Worker now! Well, I will be once I get the license in the mail. That is great news and now I will hopefully be able to find a job. Matt, Sara (best friend), Rob (her boyfriend), and I all went out on a super secret special date (planned by Matt and Sara). It was an A-M-A-Z-I-N-G birthday surprise for Rob and I. We went to a speakeasy inspired fancy restaurant in River North called Bavette’s. After looking at information after the fact, this place is super hip and “in” right now. The atmosphere was good, the company was great, the wine was superb, and the food was absolutely orgasmic. Overall, a super fabulous night with some of my favorite people. For my birthday, Matt got me:Image

I know the company wrapped it, but it looked so nice! He got me two yoga blocks and a strap. I have been practicing on a very consistent basis and love how I have been feeling. He knows me too well. šŸ™‚

Last but not least, Matt and I went with his brother Kerry, his sister-in-law Kim, and her brother/his girlfriend (Dave and Rachel) to wineries in Michigan. We stopped at Lemon Creek, Domaine Berrien, Round Barn Winery, and Tabor Hills. All were great, all were delicious. I love wine! Here are a few pictures of the vineyard and one of my love and I enjoying a drink:

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Overall, it has been a crazy busy and fun month. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Crazy news is that my sister is moving to Quincy, IL to go to school for her (free!) Master’s degree! She is so smart and determined, I know she will be great.

Because of my jam packed schedule and babysitting, I came down with bronchitis. However, I am just about recovered! Just in time for me to really delve into some work and hopefully land a full-time position. Thanks for reading, I know this was a long one.~Amanda

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