I love Chicago. It is no Omaha, but it is right up there. I think I'd move to Chicago in a heartbeat.

For some reason, I feel right at home in Chicago. I don't know why. It is not like it's anything like Omaha. But I got to thinking, while strolling down Michigan Avenue this evening, I've been to Chicago a lot. Like really a lot.

1. I think the first time I was in Chicago was when we met the Hartfelders here (I'm in Chicago now, so it is the proper adverb usage) soon after meeting them in Florida. Memories from that trip: meeting Jim Harbaugh (I was 10 so I didn't see the "hotness" my mom and Debbie were talking about; but in looking at photos of him now...HELLO JIM HARBAUGH!). I digress; other memories of that trip: playing games at Excalibur, Ed Debevics, the kick-ass funky outfit I wore and overhearing a woman making fun of it, on the flipside of that outfit - the outfit of pumps (as in Nike, not heels), tightrolled overalls with one strap down, a hypercolor shirt and dangly peace sign earrings. As if that outfit wasn't bad enough - Amy and I BOTH wore it. The SAME day. Double dose of 1991 coming straight at ya! Last memory (I can't believe I have such vivid memories of a trip that was nearly 20 years ago) - running into my sixth grade teacher - the teacher I had at that time - in the lobby of our hotel. (To make matters more ironic, she was from the same town in Michigan the Hartfelders were from. Detroit is one thing, but we're talking Swartz Creek - population 5,000. Such a small world.)

Alright, this post is getting long already. Gonna speed it up:

2. High school prom dress shopping circa 1998. Five girls and three moms went. It was a great time, and most importantly, we got great dresses. I vividly remember taking a limo from the airport to the hotel (we were SO cool) and Kristina Conrad rolling down the window saying "Pardon me, do you have any grey poupon?" FYI - Trevor. Just be prepared I will be taking our daughters prom dress shopping in Chicago.

3. That trip was a bad influence for Emilie and I, as we then went to Chicago twice, if not three times, during college just to shop. One time we tried to add culture to our trip and visited the Art Institute of Chicago. We lasted, oh, I don't know, 20 minutes, and then it was to Michigan Avenue! Two places we always had to hit: Filene's Basement and Cheesecake Factory. That's good for the Freshman 15!! We would stay at her aunt and uncle's gorgeous home in the 'burbs. I laugh thinking about it actually - Em, you know what story I am thinking of. "Can you guys just hold him down?" Priceless.

4. Trevor and I took a trip to Chicago in college. I gave it to him for his birthday. I was actually really cute (go me) in giving it to him. I took him to Windy Cities, a hot dog store in Lincoln where he worked - for hot dogs, not money mind you - and told him about our trip then. (If any of you know me well, you know I don't eat regular hot dogs so it really WAS a big deal!) Anywho, we had a great time in Chicago. But, my most vivid memory was my credit card getting declined by the hotel. So, I s'pose, thanks for taking ME to Chicago for YOUR birthday, Trev :).

5. Again in college - this time we drove! Ugh. A few of us advertising majors tagged along with the AdClub to tour J. Walter Thompson (RIP). And of course we then hit the city. I vividly remember Cari xxxxxxxx Ferguson getting pulled over while driving the 16 passenger van from Lincoln to Chicago. Fake IDs might have also been involved at some point. Not really sure. The school trip to Chicago is a bit fuzzy, ironically enough.

5. We made a pit stop in Chicago in May 2004 on our way to South Bend, Indiana, for my cousin's wedding. Trevor was in Arkansas and I was in KC at the time, so we, and my mom, dad and Kalin, all met at Midway and enjoyed Navy Pier before heading back to the airport to pick up "the grandmas" and head to Notre Dame country. I should also point out it was in South Bend, at Olivia and Todd's reception actually, where Trevor asked my dad's permission to propose to me. Sigh. My folks and extended fam spent a few days in Chicago after the wedding, and apparently had a hoot. Trevor and I had to head back to bring home the bacon.

6. In September 2006, I walked 60 miles in and around Chicago with Lizzie, Shannon and Michelle during the Breast Cancer 3-Day. So, that was obviously a memorable experience in the city. The day before the event started - when we had to fly to Chicago - was my birthday so Shannon and I did some damage on, where else, Michigan Avenue. That was a fun day.

7. Last May, Trevor and I vacationed in Chicago for a few days and stayed with his sister Alissa. We had a great time and we both attended our first Cubs game, which I loved. That was a fun trip because we had a real life, local host to take us around, guide us on the L, etc.

8. I've been to Chicago a lot for work. We used to have monthly Breast Cancer 3-Day meetings here, but they were typically day trips. (Love the 5 a.m. flights!) But when we'd come with Blue Bunny for the FMI show, we'd stay a few nights and make the most of it. I think I attended FMI in Chicago three times. And then there was last May, when all of Barkley PR went to Chicago for the Cause Marketing Forum. And after the CMF, Sun Dee (with AMC), Kelli (with Kohl's then), Lindsey, Rachel and I all reunited for an evening of fun and Sex and the City. 'Twas the premier and we all dressed up like the characters we were most like (thanks to a quiz). No, those photos will never be shared. Ever.

So, while I'm in Chicago again tonight, I now remember why I feel so comfortable strolling around Chi-town's downtown area. I have a lot of memories here in what I believe is one of the greatest cities in the world: The Wendy, err, Windy City.

PS: Southwest, feel free to let me know if I should expect my free voucher at my home or personal address.


The Risleys

I've really enjoyed following my former boss' blog lately. His family has grown quite substantially over the past days - they have adopted two children from Colombia. This process began two years ago so it is simply amazing to see it all come to fruition.

I've been undecided on whether or not I would adopt children if we were unable to have our own. Of course we haven't yet been put in that situation. To me, if we were unable to have our own children I look at it as a sign we were meant to do something different with our lives. But seeing the joy these kids have brought to the Risleys and the Risley's devotion to these kids might just change my perspective.

These posts have given me chills, smiles and tears. It is such a heart-warming tale, and I invite you all to follow along here.


I will be so pissed if I get robbed on my way into work.

A 21-year-old woman was robbed at gunpoint this morning in the parking garage I, and many of my dear readers, park in every day. I am still very frightened by this. The garage is not necessarily desolate and I have, for the most part, always felt safe...sometimes even leaving at 6/7 p.m. by myself.

Maybe the Easter bunny was onto something with the stun knuckles. But even if you don't have 945,000 volts to carry around with you, let this be a reminder to everyone to be aware of our surroundings. I know I am guilty of talking on the phone when walking alone somewhere. (Have you ever walked into a store talking on the phone and then walked out not remembering where you parked? I sure have.) There are a lot of unexplainable people out there, and sadly we need to be cautious of them.

In the end, the woman thankfully wasn't hurt and the loser only got away with $12 or $21 or something ridiculous like that. I will say this: if I was robbed at gunpoint, well, I hope the burglars like nonfat skinny lattes because the only thing of value they'll find in my wallet is a Starbucks gift card.


Not feeling like a million bucks

I'd say I'm having one of those days. Back to back meetings. Deadlines. Told by a boss I need to "tone it down" when I'm talking on the phone. Cold sores. (Those pesky things seem to always be present when I'm having days like this.) But I can surely tell you I'd take all of those things over this:

Israeli woman loses $1M as daughter dumps mattress containing life savings

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- It was supposed to be a pleasant surprise, but turned into the shock of a lifetime.

A woman scours a garbage heap in Tel Aviv for her mother's missing mattress.

A woman in Tel Aviv, Israel, gave her elderly mother a new mattress as a surprise gift, throwing out the old tattered bed her mother had slept on for decades. The gesture ended up bankrupting Annat's mother, who had stuffed her savings of nearly $1 million inside her old bed for decades, Annat told Israel Army Radio.

A massive search is under way at the city dump, where security has been beefed up to keep out treasure-seekers who have heard Annat's story in Israeli media.

Annat, who did not want to reveal the rest of her name, told Israel Army Radio that she woke up early Sunday to get a good deal on a new mattress as a surprise for her mother.

She fell asleep that night, exhausted after lugging up the new mattress and hauling down the old one to be taken out with the trash.

When her mother realized the next day what her daughter had done, she told her that she had been using the mattress to stash away her life savings and had nearly $1 million padding the inside of the worn-out mattress.

Annat ran downstairs, but it was too late. The garbage truck had already taken away the money-stuffed mattress.

Annat alerted the two major dump sites in the Israeli city in an effort to locate the bed, but so far she has had no luck. Yitchak Burba, one of the dump site managers, told Army Radio that he and his men are working relentlessly to try to help Annat find the million-dollar mattress among the tons of garbage at the landfill.

The publicity has triggered a wave of people also trying to find the mattress and its contents for themselves. Burba has increased security around the dump to keep them out.

Annat told Army Radio that when her mother realized her queen-sized bank had been tossed, she told her to "'leave it.'"

"'The heart is crying but you know we could have been in a car accident or had a terminal disease,'" Annat said her mother told her.

Annat is also taking the situation in stride.

"It's a very, very sad story but I've been through worse," she told Army Radio. "It's a matter of proportions in life ... people need to know how to accept the good and the bad in life."


Don't be fooled by the thought that I got I'm still, I'm still Wendy from the blog

If you have forgotten who I am, I understand. It's been two weeks since I have blogged, and that wasn't even a legitimate blog post. I do thank Sabrina and Pamela for the blog suggestions. Sooner or later they'll appear.

For now, I have two quick things to say while I finish my diet Coke. While there is still diet Coke in my can, well then, it is still my lunch hour.

1. I love mixing corn and pasta. Just had it for lunch and mmm mmm good. Kind of like taters mixed with corn on Thanksgiving, or really anytime you have corn and taters. Why limit it to one day? But then again, what isn't awesome when you add corn? Pop + corn. Good. Corn + dogs. Good. Corn + bread. Good. Corn + hole. Good. Corn + husker. Good. Corn + on the cob. Good. Corn + acopia. Weird Thanksgiving decoration.

2. I had the privilege of checking out the Omaha Habitat for Humanity's Building Blitz today. Wow. In one week, three homes will be constructed by Sullivan Homes, Hearthstone Homes, and the M Group. The fourth home on the block will be completed as part of Women Build, a program in which only women build the home. (Don't women build every home?) tee hee hee go chicks. Anyhoo, like I said - wow. I became intrigued by Habitat when I went to the Women's Build lunch a few weeks ago. I had NO idea the people that receive the homes actually work for them. They put in 350 hours of sweat equity on their own home. They take classes ranging from how to unclog a toilet (I've never taken it) to personal finance. And finally, they actually make payments on the home. The thing I liked about that is it shows they are committed to their home. They take responsibility. They are vested in it and will not take their gift of a home for granted. Pretty cool. One of the things that surprised me, saddened me, the most, was the house on the condemn list across the street from the Building Blitz.

This picture doesn't even truly do the house justice. It was awful. My Habitat contact told me there are 400 homes on the condemn list (I got nervous I wrote condem list for a second but then realized condom is really spelled that way, not condem. Wow. You know you need to wrap up a blog post when you work in the word condom) around Omaha. Imagine a family living in that. Imagine living across from that. It was just really eye-opening for me. Normally I'd drive by and tell Trevor to look at that "piece" but today it hit me. That is/was someone's home. And Pavlov says a home is non-negotiable. HELLO COLLEGE PSYCH CLASS! See mom - I paid attention in school!

I learned two things about myself today:
1. I really hope to get involved with Habitat for Humanity soon. Maybe then my pink Kiewit hardhat will get some use.
2. I hope my kids never get "condemn" in a spelling bee.

Ahh. That was a good diet Coke.