There are a few things to cover today.

First up: thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who took some time out to send birthday wishes, stories, photos and just general good vibes yesterday. Y’all sure know how to make a girl feel loved. You’re amazing.

Kevin got it in his head that he was going to make me a birthday cake this year and that is the nicest thing a boyfriend has ever done for me. He let me in on the secret prototype on Saturday, the day before my birthday and I gave him some strategy tips, but otherwise it was all him and it turned out to be pretty damn good. Also, delicious.

Second: today continues in the birthday celebrations because I can never have my birthday without thinking of my cousin. It was on this day when my first love, my first partner in crime, my original Kevin joined me on earth 27 hours after my own arrival. He hit me with a super heartfelt and sweet birthday message – complete with photos – in the morning yesterday and gave me a good old cry. I’m pretty sure I still make this face. And his smile still lights up the world.

Finally, I’ve written a few year in review posts already – my year in reading, my year in running – but I always like to do a little overall year in review exercise as well. (This was 2017’s.) Since yesterday was my birthday, I attribute the start of my new year being so close to the start of the new year as the reason I love New Year’s celebrations so much. The fresh start, the new beginnings, the blank slate – I’m just a big fan all around.

I have some resolutions and new practices in my plans for 2019 and I’ll share some of those tomorrow, but today, on the last day of 2018, I’m going to take a look back at the things we did this year.


I started the year with The Bigger Yes, a course facilitated by Laura McKowen and focused on discovering, exploring and committing to your deepest callings. This gave the first months of the year a very inwardly focused dedication and feel. ❀️ I wrote my life story and that was an experience in itself. ❀️ We spent some time outdoors and moving our bodies in different ways. ❀️ I committed to writing and reading more and I followed through with that for most of the year.


We celebrated my Mom’s birthday at our place while we hosted a birthday/Super Bowl party and cheered as the Eagles hoisted the Lombardi trophy for the first time. 🧑 We headed down to Seattle for our first (and one of our favourites) race of the year, My Better Half at Seward Park. The weather was crisp and cool and the scenery was incredible. The post-race oatmeal bar was tops, second only to Kevin’s Significant Otter t-shirt. This was the trip on which we unwillingly bought a new set of tires – and a Costco membership! 🧑 Kevin and I celebrated our seven year anniversary.


I took a trip to Kingfisher Resort on Vancouver Island to celebrate my aunt’s milestone birthday with her, my Mom and one of my aunt’s childhood friends. We enjoyed supreme beauty and luxury and I even met a new cat. πŸ’› Cara and I went to our first hockey game together. And then we went to another. πŸ’› We started working on our community garden plot and started nurturing the seedlings that produced our summer bounty. πŸ’› I reconnected with my high school friend, Jane.


It was Easter! πŸ’š We headed across the border again for the Birch Bay Road Race in April. Unfortunately, we’d followed a bad lead on hotel for this trip and fled the “Birch Bay Stayaway” as someone on Trip Advisor dubbed it. Luckily, we found the Four Points Bellingham via Hotels.com and settled into a more more comfortable room quickly. Unanticipated costs of this misguided hotel booking: new swimsuits from Target. Unexpected discovery: The Pacific Caesar, from B-Town Kitchen & Raw Bar, the greatest salad either of us have ever eaten. πŸ’š Canucks season ended. πŸ’š I got a new boss.


We celebrated Mother’s Day. πŸ’™ We spent a lot of time in the gardens – our balcony, our community, my parents’. πŸ’™ I basically cooked my way through Deliciously Ella Everyday. πŸ’™ I talked books and podcasts and coffee. πŸ’™ I went through another melanoma diagnosis and two surgeries which I wrote about months later, in September.


The Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon took place in the beginning of June and we headed down south for the weekend. We did the 5k on Saturday when we got to run through the Museum of Flight hangar and the half marathon Sunday. It was a beautiful course, but Kevin was injured (sadly, a recurring theme for the year) and I kept him company the whole way. No matter, we still finished and collected our medals. We also got to see Old 97s in the post-race concert. πŸ’œ Later in the month we did our last race before we took a break for summer, the Scotia Half 5k, my least favourite race ever. πŸ’œ I got my I Am A Moon Goddess mala from I Am Blessed Mala Beads.


We celebrated Canada Day and watched fireworks from our balcony. ❀️ I harvested FLOWERS from my garden for the first time! (I usually just grow vegetables.) ❀️ Cara and I made our first appearance as Canucks season ticket members at the Summer Showdown rookie game. ❀️ My month took a woo turn when I joined a Tarot challenge and explored everything I know about the cards with a daily draw. ❀️ I went along for the ride on a Lakers Island road trip to Nanaimo and I got to hang with my girl Lori and *finally* meet her daughter Emily. ❀️ We had a surprise visit from our Amy and had a delightful dinner and catch up session on Granville Island.


A relatively low-key month of getting flowers, growing veggies and closing up shop on the lacrosse season. 🧑 This was also when I embarked on a commitment to daily writing and the realization that not coming up with a unique title for every post set me free.


We picked apples with Barb and John. I started working from home. πŸ’› We started talking about how this old cat can’t live forever. πŸ’› We watched The Good Place and Making It. πŸ’› It was my Dad’s birthday. πŸ’› Kevin went to Philadephia for the NLL Draft. πŸ’› I catsat.


Here’s where things got fun, most notably because travel season arrived. πŸ’š I went to Chicago with Lesley so we could explore and she could run the Chicago Marathon. πŸ’š I got back and three days later, we turned the car towards Whistler for a weekend in the mountains and the BCLA AGM. πŸ’š The hockey season started up again and we went to our first game as members. πŸ’š Late in the month we went to Bothell and our favourite hotel for the weekend and the Captain Jack’s Treasure Run in Redmond where we got to dress like pirates. πŸ’š To finish the month, we celebrated Kevin’s birthday and then we went to the Canucks game on Halloween.


I enjoyed the Canucks Diwali event and then the next day we left for Vegas. πŸ’™ Ten whole days of it including the KronosWorks conference, the Rock ‘n; Roll Half Marathon and 5k. πŸ’™ Almost as soon as we got back, we started preparing for our final trip -and half marathon – of the year, San Antonio. πŸ’™ We started watching Christmas movies and went ice skating at Rogers Arena. πŸ’™ We fully immersed ourselves in celebrating the upcoming holidays, but with tempered it with more old cat contemplation. πŸ’™ We got the tree up and decorated and then we left town again.


San Antonio was our last stop of the year and when I asked Kevin about his favourite travel, without hesitation, he proclaimed that this was it. We were there for just three nights, we packed a lot of good times during that short span and, you know, it sure feels like we were there longer than that. πŸ’œ I lost some faith in people when I started to contemplate those who seemingly do something kind solely for the attention it’ll get them from strangers, but my spirits were lifted when we toured a couple of holiday markets. πŸ’œ We visited the Anonymous Art Show at North Van Arts where my friend Jane had three pieces on display. πŸ’œ We checked out Fridays on Front Holiday Edition to get some much needed time with friends. πŸ’œ Just after hitting the 120 day mark, I shared what I’ve learned from writing everyday and I celebrated a few of the joys that Christmas cards brought me this season. πŸ’œ I praised the Christmas bakers out there and I spent three consecutive days at Rogers Arena including the home opener for the new Vancouver Warriors lacrosse team. πŸ’œ I also made a Christmas playlist.

If I may add another side effect of writing every day, I certainly keep track of the details and the things that go on in our lives better and the memories remain more vivid. That’s always a plus.

Looking back on the year there were a number of joys, adventures, opportunities for growth, love and generousity. I had wanted 2018

On this, the final day of 2018, I invite you to look back on your year and contemplate the good, the challenging, the beautiful, the lessons and all the experiences you had, the people you knew, the things that you learned. As they say, out with the old and in with the new.


Read more about our trip:

Chicago – Day 1

Chicago – Day 2

Chicago – Day 3

Chicago – Day 4

It was another early morning for us today. With a 10am flight and concerns about making our way through morning traffic, we erred on the side of early and started our normally thirty minute ride to the airport around seven.

Since we’d taken The L into the city, we got to see some cityscapes that we hadn’t already and it was a lot more peaceful to be able to put our suitcases on the trunk and to be guaranteed a seat. Money well spent.

Here are a few of my favourite photos that didn’t make it into one of my other posts.

Things I learned about Chicago:

  • There’s a surprising amount of waterfront with both lake and river in the core of the city
  • Architecturally and scenically, the city is an absolute wonder – beautiful
  • Transportation via The L is pretty convenient and easy to navigate
  • The downtown area is easily walkable – no need for finding a taxi or renting a car
  • There’s a Starbucks on every corner (rivalling Vancouver’s Starbucks population even!)
  • People there are incredibly friendly

We had an easy time getting to the airport and on our plane. The flight home was smooth and we arrived mostly on time. We split up at the airport when Lesley went to pick up her car and Kevin was there to pick me up. It’s going to take some getting used to, not having her around. When I was in the drugstore today, I started looking around for her without thinking about it.

Arriving home, it was my family’s Thanksgiving so we quickly dropped my bag off at home and then headed over to my folks’ place for turkey dinner and family fun.

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, pumpkin pie and a little sixth grade geography later and I’m ready for bed. I guess waking up in the morning is going to feel like sleeping in if I’m still on Chicago time. πŸ‘πŸ»


Like approximately 39999 other people, Lesley was up early again this morning to try to psychically land their wardrobe choices in the right place between cool enough and weatherproof. The weather here in Chicago right now is just so unpredictable!

I saw her off at around 7am and went back to bed for a couple of hours.

By the time I got up and ready, my options to see the racers was pretty limited because I was on the opposite side of the course, separated from the later miles by the early ones.

I left the hotel and headed south to the finish line to meet up with my favourite marathoner.

The streets were positively packed with supporters, spectators and runners who’d already finished their race and were heading back to their home bases.

I was familiar with the area I was heading to because of our jaunt through the city on Friday so I found my destination easily. There were huge lineups to get into the Biofreeze 27th Mile Post-Race Party where spectators could reunite with runners so I got into the lineup right away and waited nearly 25 minutes to get in.

It was right around this time that Lesley finished her race and I got a notification. 3:45:27 πŸ‘πŸ»

I knew enough about her post-race routine to know she wouldn’t be out right away so I didn’t panic when it took a while to find her. Eventually, we reunited and I got a full recap of the race as we walked back to our hotel.

I spent some time chilling, she spent some time warming up and then we made a game plan for our next event: the hockey game.

It was just a great coincidence that the Blackhawks were playing their home opener while we were in town and an even greater coincidence that they were hosting the Maple Leafs.

I like both teams – I know the Leafs better because of Kevin’s affiliation which was a plus for them and the Blackhawks didn’t re-sign Tommy Wingels after his 2017 playoff run with them so that was a minus for them. I was basically neutral. (And, yes, I cheered for goals on both sides.)

We got to the United Center early enough that we were able to see the players arrive and walk the red carpet. Among many we didn’t recognize, we were able identify Brandon Saad, Duncan Keith, Corey Crawford, Jonathan Toews, Chris Chelios, Denis Savard and Tony Esposito.

My favourite of the bunch:

We only had to wait a few minutes before doors opened and we were inside the venue.

It’s a nice place, United Center. We took a few loops around the concourse and took some peeks down at the ice and up at the rafters before we headed upstairs to where we were sitting – in literally the last row, the true nosebleeds, in the rafters ourselves.

Once we were in our seats, we stayed there for the duration of the game, although there were several ups and down for people coming in and out of our row and for the TWELVE GOALS that were scored during regulation AND the OT winner. (Leafs won 7-6.)

It was a great game. Back and forth and back and forth. The atmosphere is electric! We even saw three goals within :55 during the last two minutes of the game. (!!)

A few more photos from the game:

That’s a classic Chicago dog in case you were wondering and, no, I didn’t eat it. Lesley, however, did. I had a Perrier.

Before the game started, there was a moving tribute to the late Stan Mikita and I’d be remiss not to mention it. The Blackhawks will wear a 21 patch all season and his name and number will appear on the ice at both ends of the arena.

I posted on my Instagram stories that I just hoped both teams had a fun time tonight, in other words, I didn’t care who won and Kevin pointed out that they probably did since they both scored so many goals. Mission accomplished. And you might like to know that two hats made their way to the ice when John Tavares scored his first hat trick as a Leaf.

Finding a cab after the game was a challenge, but we did it. And we made our way safely back to the hotel to pack, eat our leftover pizza and chat last night of our road trip away.


Day three was an early morning because we had our first organized event to get to, the Advocate Health International 5k.

The alarm went off at 6:15 and we dragged our asses hopped out of bed and got dressed. After one loud crack of thunder, we did a weather check as best we could from our tenth floor windows. Rain. Lots of it. Like a shower. Lesley’s app reported that it was 20Β° and, for once, the first time since we got here, in fact, it felt like it. And 96% humidity. We were stumped for what to wear, but we eventually just sucked it up and did our best.

Walking out, it was exactly how I described it looking: like a shower. As I said to my Twitter friend, Jenni when she was giving me a pep talk last night, “I’m from the west coast so I’m used to rain, but our rain is cold LIKE RAIN IS SUPPOSED TO BE. 🀣” Yikes.

We were about a mile from the start line so we made it just in time…for the original start time. The weather postponed the start by fifteen minutes.

The race wound through many diverse neighbourhoods in downtown Chicago and ended at Grant Park. It was definitely a race when you’d want to keep your head up because there was so much to see!

At the end, we got our medals and baggies full of water, Gatorade, some crackers, a bar and a hat.

The weather was drier by the time the race even started so that was a relief, but it was still muggy as can be which was challenging, but the course was distracting enough that it made it really fun.

Here’s my review of the race on BibRave.

Back to the hotel and showers and warm beds and in room coffee and SEX AND THE CITY! Not only that, but the second episode we watched was my favourite episode in the whole series: A Woman’s Right to Shoes.

After a tiny bit of relaxation, we were ready to hit the streets again.

Our afternoon mainly consisted of wandering. We had brunch across the street at Beatrix and check out my cauliflower grits and eggs with brussels sprouts. It was delicious!

From there we zigged and we zagged and we crissed and we crossed all over town. Highlights: Under Armour, Nordstrom Rack, Cubs team store, Blackhawks team store and, of course, the scenery. Chicago truly is a beautiful city.

After a few hours of exploration, we decided it would be a good idea to get some time off our feet and headed back to the hotel for the rest of the afternoon.

We had a game plan that worked back from the time when we wanted Lesley to be in bed and had picked out the perfect dinner destination: PF Chang’s. We knew she could get some protein and veggies in preparation for the race and we also knew they’d be delicious.

Lettuce wraps were a MUST and that lobster avocado roll with curry aioli was pretty legit, too.

Now, I’ve worked with athletes for several years and I live with a goalie so I’m deeply familiar with and respectful of pre-event rituals and routines. Throughout the weekend, I’ve been trying to get familiar with Lesley’s needs – what time does she want to sleep, what does she want to eat, what needs to be prepared for tomorrow, etc. If you didn’t know it, you’d never guess that she is about to run TWENTY-SIX MILES in the morning. She’s a total pro. I’m a basket case before a 5k and she’s as cool as a cucumber before 42.2. What a champ!

You guys, she’s wearing a Nike bag in this picture. THAT’s how wet it was this morning.

Tomorrow, THE Chicago Marathon!


We woke up to weather reports that today was going to be a rollercoaster of weather. Looking ahead to our 5k tomorrow was even worse. It seems rain is certain and, as pacific northwesterners, we’re accustomed to that EXCEPT this rain comes at a 23Β° temperature (74Β° for my Fahrenheit friends) that feels like 28Β° (83Β°). Yikes!

It was mostly grey and cloudy, but still warm – a strange combination for us, one that I’m not sure we were totally prepared for.

We walked about ten minutes from our first hotel and took the L downtown to our new hotel, the Hyatt Centric Magnificent Mile. We were able to get a room even though we arrived before check-in and we settled into our new space, unpacking and contemplating what to do next.

The expo.

If you’ve never participated in a large scale organized run before, the expo is a big treat. It’s like runners’ heaven: shoe sales, gadgets sales, food samples. A good one has it all. And this was a good one. We grabbed our race packages and we toured the venue picking out some clothing each and stocked up on Nuun electrolyte tablets. I was pretty excited about that because they were one of the only things I had hopes of finding there. They’re unreasonably priced in Canada so I like to get some whenever I’m south of the border.

Another shuttle ride back to our hotel and it was already 5pm and we hadn’t eaten anything aside from expo samples so we decided to do what any reasonable pair of sensible women would do: go out for a run.

We headed to Lake Michigan just down the road and ran the Lakeside Trail. It was cloudy and grey and muggy. Blech. At least it was new scenery and good to get out and get moving.

From there we wandered to Navy Pier which wasn’t as exciting or obnoxious as I’d been led to believe. I was expecting cotton candy and a cacophony of noises. It was pretty low-key. A bunch of kids running around and tourists taking selfies, sure, but aside from the three rides, it wasn’t very carnival-esque. Just fun.

From there, we walked further along the waterfront until we shot inland and over to Millenium Park and Cloud Gate or “The Bean.”

Even at dusk it was breathtaking and it was really neat to look at and explore. There were still a lot of people around and the crowds were thick with photo takers, but we got a few of our own before heading back to the room for showers.

We made but one stop on the walk back to our hotel and that was when we spotted the sign for something that we had on our DEFINITELY DO list: Stan’s Donuts. As we stood outside debating should we/shouldn’t we, we shrugged and went inside.

If you’re keeping score, you’ll know that this would be the first thing we’d really eaten all day, but, heck, we’re on vacation. And it wouldn’t be the last thing.

Nope, we ordered in arguably the best classic Chicago deep dish pizza in the city from Lou Malnati’s.

Day two is done. We have a race in the morning.


I was a total sucker for thinking I’d be packed and ready to go in a calm and orderly manner today. I probably did the final zip on my suitcase about twenty minutes before I left to meet Lesley and I logged off my computer about fifteen minutes after that. It was fine and I’m happy that I’m in good traveling condition. I’m hydrated, bright eyed and so very happy to be leaving the country.

It’s been a while since I (air) traveled with anyone but Kevin. So long, in fact, that it feels really strange. When you have a regular travel partner, you get into habits and routines: one person carries the passports the other leads the way to the gate, one person buys the coffee, the other packs the snacks.

Traveling with someone who isn’t family opens up opportunities for new routines. It also adds an extra layer of adventure because unless you already live with your travel partner (roommates are a type of family!) then you don’t really know their own needs, wants and tendencies very well.

I haven’t (air) traveled with a girlfriend in ages, like maybe even decades. The last I can remember was a trip to Vegas with a friend I don’t even keep in touch with anymore. In fact, most of my travel that isn’t with a Kevin or my family is all on my own and no matter the circumstances, I’m so happy to be doing it.

En route to the airport, we had a little I’m so glad you came/I’m so glad you asked me moment and then we carried on and had a seamless airport check-in experience and flight.

So, I left my beloved at home. I also left a few other things that I usually bring at home. My MacBook and my iPad, for example. I even found a way to travel with only two books which is UNHEARD OF for me. I know we’ve got a busy weekend ahead of us so I’m leaning into that and not worrying too much about the other stuff.

We landed safely in Chicago and took an airport shuttle (a legit feature that I’ve never used before, πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ) to the Westin O’Hare where we’ll spend one night before heading downtown.

It was already close to nine (local time – we’d lost two hours) when we arrived and we were both hungry. We headed downstairs to the Benchmark Gastropub for something to eat. We both opted for salmon dishes – mine came with succotash (until today, I’d only know the sufferin‘ kind – #myfirstsuccotash) and hers was the salad.

The hotel is quite nice and warm. And we found my new favourite in room perk: an aromatherapy roller! Now we’re about to go and put it to the test. πŸ’€


I mentioned a while ago that I’d recently had one if those whirlwind, “hey, do you want to go on this trip?” opportunities when my heart thought, “YES!” and my brain thought, “YES!” but my gut said, “you’re a grown up now and should probably think about these decisions a little more before you commit.” (Pfft.) Thankfully, when I mentioned it to Kevin, he was basically like, “duh.” So that snapped me out of it and settled the debate and now I’m going to Chicago for four nights in October. Hooray!

I’ve never been to Chicago, but it has always held a little fascination for me. I like big cities. All the culture and the action – it’s fun to explore and get to know a city’s character and some of the history that helped shape it.

When we first got engaged, we’d talked about having a destination wedding. Back in my doula days, I’d worked with a couple who flew to San Francisco to get married at City Hall. I’d always thought that was a cool thing to do so I’d suggested we do that – fly to come random big city and get married at City Hall. Once loved ones started suggesting destination weddings, I joked that yes, we would have one and I would watch their faces as their tropical dreams came crashing down as I declared that it would be in Chicago. Everyone gave me blank stares with the exception of my aunt who declared, “Great! I’ve never been to Chicago!”

Alas, that (and every other) wedding idea never came to fruition and I’ve still never been to Chicago. So when my girlfriend asked if I wanted to go with her over Thanksgiving (Canadian, thankyouverymuch) weekend, well, you’ve already heard the rundown of my inner responses. And now WE ARE GOING TO CHICAGO!

Despite it being at the top of my list of American cities I’ve never been to and would like to visit, I don’t actually know a heck of a lot about it. When I think Chicago, I think Blackhawks and I think The Break-Up, and, quite frankly, beyond that, I just don’t think that much more about it.

Such a great movie. And if I could go on Three Brothers tour of Chicago, I would.

So far, here’s what I KNOW we are doing:

Things I think we want to do:

Photo found here

So, this is where you come in. What more is there to see? To do? To eat, drink, experience? Fill us in!