Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Friday Round Up 4.13.18 - San Diego Vacay

Lizzard Loves vacation. I mean, who doesn't though?!? So this week (2 days late I'm afraid) is all about our trip to sunny California!
This is the view from Cody & Matty's front porch. I could get used to it!!

1.Trip Planning
My best friend & her husband moved to San Diego from the Midwest in February (smartest people I know.......) so naturally I started planning the trip in January when they told us they were moving. I mean, I love the winter in the Chicago area- but dear Lord- it has the ability to drag into spring and make me desperate to get out of dodge.

Organizing is one of my jams. I love thinking and planning the best ways to make a room or a closet work - so it is not too much of a stretch that I love to make lists & plot out the best way to pack for a trip. Since Lulu was born I have started using the packing cube method - not with the pricey actual cubes that are for sale a million places- but with my reusable tote bags! I have a major excess of these bags and they work so well for organizing our clothing! Each family member gets 1 for clothes & 1 for pjs, underwear, swimsuits, etc. It helps prevent our giant rolling duffle from becoming a giant rolling mess on day one of vacation!

This was the first flight where I was concerned Lulu might be so wiggly as to warrant some special entertainment, she was 11+ months when we embarked on the 4 hour flight from Chicago-San Diego and it seemed unwise to go into this trip unprepared! Thankfully, my genius sister had gifted us a busy bag for our baby shower. It had finger puppets, small sorting games, a magnet game, and more. I read a blog post about traveling with a 1 year old & took the following ideas from it: post it notes for Lulu to pull off/re stick on the tray table, downloadable library books for my phone (Lulu doesn't get any of her own screen time yet - but books on the go seemed like a great idea), and the pouch to hold it all (though I bought my pouch from an acquaintance's Etsy shop - she makes the CUTEST bags!! I can't regress to the 6th grade & start rocking a FiveStar pencil case again. Just can't do it). See number 2 for how it all worked out!

2. Lulu's flexibility with sleep
Holy cow I gave a lot of energy to my worry over Lulu not sleeping on our flight to CA (when we traveled with Chris) and the flight home (when we traveled just me & Lulu). I thought through the worst case scenarios, I hoped, and I planned some activities that would (hopefully) keep the interest of my potentially overtired little one. Man. I didn't need to plan. We were incredibly lucky that neither of our flights was fully booked. We fly Southwest as often as is possible and they invite parents to carry on a car seat for a lap child as long as the flight has empty seats. When Lulu was 4 weeks old and taking her first flight, the ticketing agent at Southwest told us about this policy. It blew my mind, in a good way. 

Our flight out took off right at Lulu's bedtime - so I was incredibly hopeful that she would sleep - whether or not we had a seat for her & her car seat. She knocked my socks off. It took her about 30 minutes to settle down, but she slept for the rest of the flight! I didn't need my activity bag at all! Yipeeeeeee. 

Once we made it to my best friend's house Lulu played & visited with Cody & her puppy, Briar for awhile before we put her down to sleep. She fell immediately asleep in a pack n play she'd never seen in an unfamiliar house. I wanted to give her a gold medal for sleep!

A well slept Lulu makes for well slept parents & sets us all up for a good trip indeed :)


4. Seals
Sleepy seals (not dead seals)

Admittedly hard to tell from the photo- but the dark spots are snoozing seals! Some are babies! 

5. A burrito with french fries inside

Because vacation eating. I have nothing additional to add.

6. Lulu learning to point
She watched the airplanes taking off from San Diego airport from Cody & Matty's backyard and for the first time in her 11 months, started pointing at them when we'd ask "where's the airplane?" It made me unreasonably happy.

7. Lulu's 1st dip in the ocean
Despite Chris & I both having family who live within easy driving distance of the Atlantic Ocean, Lulu's first ocean experience was the Pacific! Even before her little toes had dipped into Lake Michigan - she was splashing around on the west coast. 

8. Last but not least (the opposite of least really) 
Friday-Wednesday with my best friend
We spent our first 18ish years living down the street from each other, then a decade or so living reasonably close to each other in Chicago until 2015 when she & Matty moved to Bermuda and we with my parents in the suburbs :) (it was for the house renovation, but still). It is conceivable that we will never again share a zip code which makes my heart hurt though I am comforted with the fact that our friendship has lasted 35+ years and a few states/countries/oceans between us won't change it! 

It was a delightful treat not to just "catch up" with Cody, but to relax and just hang out. We didn't need to rush, we had very few plans for the time, just took the days pretty slowly. It was a true vacation with some of my absolute favorite people in the world. 

Plus a puppy. Did I mention sweet Briar boy?!?

Friday, April 6, 2018

TGIFriday Review 4.6.18

Hip hip hooray! We fly to see my best friend today! Lizzard Loves the prospect of a long weekend away with her fam + best friend. There is also a puppy. Oh dear its going to be awesome.

Here we go for a week in review:
1. Lulu's First Easter
Lulu's 1st egg hunt!
 Oh man what a fun first Easter weekend we had with the bug!! The Easter Egg-Stravaganza at the Lincoln Park Zoo was simply wonderful!
Cheers to my bestie on an event well done!

 Pride was oozing out of me for my best friend who planned the whole event! Easter for 2,000 guests is no small feat. My hat is off to you Ace on a job SO well done! 
Hoppy Easter ;)

I swear Lulu had fun.....

Such a great time including Lulu's first egg hunt, brunch, a ride on the carousel, Lulu's first time meeting the Easter bunny and visiting some of our favorite zoo animals. #wonderfulday

Epic Easter Lunch buffet

On actual Easter we had a delicious lunch at my parents house with family & our closest friends. Always a lot of laughs, way too much food, and a great time. Lulu got her first Easter basket from her BoBo & Bump.

Lulu's 1st Easter basket

Annual jelly bean counting contest

2. Bagged Lunches for Inspiration Corporation
I hosted a bag lunch making party on Tuesday night for some of my moms group friends. There were 10 of us total and we assembled 60 lunches for the guests of Inspiration Cafe, the place I volunteer to serve breakfast a couple times per month. It was so fun to get together with awesome moms to do something good for other people. 
Ready to rock & roll on the lunches!

60 lunches made! Hooray!

Contents of the lunches, sandwiches are in the fridge.

I was full of gratitude for the 12 moms who donated money to purchase the supplies for the lunches. The Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs that I got on sale were probably the most popular item with the lunch recipients :) Pizza+salad+beer+wine+rice krispies treats = recipe for a fun evening with mom friends! I forgot to take any photos of the process, but I have a before & after! 

3. These 2

4. Volunteer Appreciation

Because sometimes a tiny gesture goes a long way! This basket was in the office where volunteers hang their coats at Inspiration Corporation. Candy, hot tea, little treats to say thanks. Its the little things.

5. Beautiful tiny flowers in our weed patch front yard

See above re: the little things!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Friday Fun March 30, 2018. Spring clean up, Home brew, Mini daredevil

Lizzard loves spring time. I mean, in theory anyway. In reality, its pretty cold & dreary here during "spring" we pretty much go from winter to summer.....oh well!

1. Spring clean up in the yard
I love clearing out last year's old growth on plants to make way for this year. I was thrilled to learn that our lemongrass is still fragrant when cut! 
Who would've thought this dead leamongrass would still smell lovely??
It's fragrance is serious business if it can hang around throughout a snowy winter. It was such a refreshing, unexpected smell during a morning that was filled with last winter's dog poop clean up. Oh spring cleaning. The morning also happened to be filled with sunshine & not much wind - so it was delightful to be working in the yard. Dog poop aside. 

Also- more bulbs! Yes! Bulbs! Bulbs! Bulbs!!

2. Home Brewing Beer
So the first time Chris & I tried home brewing beer, we were living at my parents house while our house was being renovated. It did not go well. When it was time to taste test the beer, we were in for quite a surprise. The beer had gone bad as they say & when we opened the bottle it sprayed all over my Mom's brand new kitchen. It sprayed with the type of force you associate with champagne in locker rooms of World Series or Superbowl champions......lots of spray. Lots of rancid, nasty smelling beer all over a kitchen that was not ours....Ugh. At least my parents were out of town & not present for the mess or the frantic clean up that followed.
Cooking the grain into the water. Adding hops. All the things!

Fast forward a couple years to last Saturday when we finally got up the courage to try home brewing again (in the safety of our own kitchen :).
Cooling the beer down as fast as possible. Ice. Lots of ice.

 So far, it seems to be going better than our first try....we'll know more in another week or two! Stay tuned!
Daddy's littlest helper checking the gravity of the beer. I don't technically know what that means.
3. This Face

Ill fitting hat coupled with strong willed baby = this face. I love it.

4. Cuddle Bug

Meet Herbert the elephant, he was Lulu's Christmas gift from Santa last year. Owenn gets along swimmingly with Herbert. Can't blame him.

5. Our little daredevil 

Yeah. So, this makes me proud & scared at the same time. According to my mom (& general family lore) I was a kid constantly on the go, testing & pushing limits, climbing, exploring, wiggling free, and generally being hard to pin down. 

It seems that our little bug might share some of these qualities with her mama. Because standing up facing the wrong way in the cart are Target. Also climbing up the new we go!!

6. This video from our fair city
I hope you feel like you're watching an episode of Parks & Rec when you watch this video. It is ridiculous. The event seems to be a giant waste of $$ (but if timing works - I'm totally taking Lulu!) and maybe ill conceived, but we'll see. For now, this video literally had me dying laughing.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Friday Round Up 3/23/18....a day late. Traveling with a baby, grandparent love, exploring Kennet Square, Mom's group book club, cousin love, spring bulbs

Oops! Lizzard doesn't exactly love being late on this post, but my usual time to write it was occupied by catching up over the fence with a neighbor (while standing in the sun) and walking the dog; 2 things I do love :)

Without further ado:

1. Unexpected bonus of traveling with a baby
I've been so surprised these last 11 (!!) months of having Lulu by the kindness extended to us by strangers while we travel. I always sort of assumed that everyone on a plane or train would cringe when they saw us coming - but I've found the opposite to be true more often than not. People smile & wave & make faces & generally make Lulu a HUGE fan of travel.
Her jam is meeting all the friends she hasn't met yet - so a crowded plane or airport packed with people is right up her alley. Other travelers offer help (especially when I've traveled alone with the bug), hold doors, pick up dropped toys, and pretty much always comment on Lulu's cheeks. I honestly don't notice her cheeks! It makes me chuckle to myself every time because I'm lucky enough to have these chubby beauties as a part of my everyday! We traveled to the Philly area to see Chris' folks last weekend & it was a great reminder of the smiles Lulu brings to travel. Not just for us, but for our fellow passengers too.

2. The joy of a granddaughter to her grandparents

So sometimes being a stay at home mom is the best thing (most times) but sometimes it feels like all I do is wipe bodily fluids from myself & the bug, cook, clean, do laundry, repeat. In those moments where I feel overwhelmed by the amount of literal shit that occupies my days - all I need is to get Lulu in front of her grandparents. The bug is lucky enough to have 4 grandparents, a luxury which not every kiddo has. We live near my parents & see them a good bit and through a combination of travel & Facetime we see Chris' parents a good bit too. To see our daughter through the eyes of her grandparents is a reminder of what a gift she is. How incredible she is. How quickly she grows. The weight of her accomplishments. The humor in the shit (more easily viewed from the vantage point of not having to deal with it daily :) I love having the support of my parents living in our area (I can call to mind a very specific example - back in December when I was laying on the floor of Lulu's nursery sick with the flu & my Dad came to help. 

Or every time my Mom offers to babysit. Also all the times we just hang out - because being with adults I love during the day helps me maintain some shred of sanity!) 
So in those moments where I am filled with doubt about my ability to parent, keep a decent looking house, basically function in this job as a mom - I only need to get in touch with the 4 people lucky enough to be Lulu's grandparents for a fresh perspective and a good dose of love.

3. Exploring a new town - Kennet Square, PA
I love to poke around a town I've never visited before. I suppose I also love to explore towns I have visited before........but in this case - Chris, Lulu & I checked out a town new to all of us. There was a bit of a stomach flu scare at my in laws house- so we did some Lysol-ing and left for a few hours in the hopes of keeping ourselves healthy (turns out it was a false alarm - but our absence allowed Chris' parents to rest & us to have an adventure). Many of the towns in Chris' parents' area are lovely old main street towns. Many of them have cute shops, good food & enough to keep you busy for a day or more! I think Chris & I both would've stayed longer to go to some other shops - but Lulu needed a nap, so we headed home. We started by exploring WorKS a garage or auto body shop turned into shopping paradise! There were maybe 20 vendors selling everything from fresh flowers to bath products to furniture and vintage clothing. It was so fun to poke around what felt like several "in real life" Etsy shops. Airy with big windows and great selection, we did several laps before we were ready to head toward the main street. We had lunch at Philter, a coffee shop filled with light and reclaimed wood and delicious sandwiches. Quite kid friendly (which is not always the case for a good coffee shop) but not the friendliest service, maybe the barista was having an off day. 

We had fun in the kids store called Penny Lane Emporium, found some treats for Lulu & the shopkeeper was a delight - very friendly & talkative. Not to mention helpful :) A bottle shop affiliated with the Kennet Square Inn was filled with an array of local beer combined with bottles from around the country. KSI Crafts felt a bit austere for my tastes, but the man working there was more than willing to talk beer with us & it looked as though they have a tasting room for parties which is cool. State and Union is a high end (mostly) apparel shop with a slight bent towards the outdoors. Beautiful stuff, but a lot of it fell outside the price range I was willing to spend. I got a great hat for the summer & we got a fun mug. Oh the s'mores pie at Nomadic Pies was amazing. It was straight up delicious & wonderful & made me wish we could justify buying more than the slice we did. The shop was cozy, smelled amazing & had an incredibly helpful woman working there. They didn't have the mini s'mores pie - so she was willing to cut us a slice of a full size pie & sell it as a mini. Those small kindnesses from strangers go such a long way in my book. 

Lulu fell asleep while I was nursing her in the pie shop, so we knew it was time to go home!

4. Mom's Group Book Club

I love that one of the other mom's suggested starting a book club. I hosted the 2nd meeting last week. We read Donna Tartt's "The Secret History" which I would recommend but caution is really very dark. It is also long, which makes the darkness seep into you over its 550 pages. I had to take several breaks from it along my reading way!! I hated the characters but did want to know what happened to them, which I suppose is a testament to Donna Tartt's writing prowess. I adore the chance to hang out with these moms without our lovely littles around. It means we actually can converse in full sentences without constant interruption. We can eat a potluck meal and drink moderate (for me) amounts of wine & think and talk about adult topics. What a delight. The Mom's Group is less than a year old & the book club is only a couple of months old - so these are all budding friendships, but I do love the little community we are forming. Plus I love the excuse to set the table & make a GIANT pot of lentil soup with a few loaves of bread. I love having people over, its one of my most favorite things.

5. Cousin love
I love the rampant cousin love that Lulu is exposed to! I was the youngest of our 23 cousins; so I wasn't terribly close to too many of my cousins. Lulu will be somewhere in the middle of her (much much smaller) batch of cousins & so far has been showered with love & attention from her big cousins. This past week she got to spend lots of time with her big cousin Samantha in PA/DE, 

FaceTime with her baby cousin Neva & big girl cousin Hennie in CT,
and hang in real life with her big girl cousin Anne at the Zoo.
All in one week :) It makes me so happy that she will really get to know & (hopefully) be close to her cousins both near & far.


I swore to myself that I would plant bulbs the fall I was preggers. I did not plant one bulb. So in the 2 weeks that Chris & I had alone together before the bug made her debut; we walked around our neighborhood & I admired (with a significant amount of envy) my neighbors beautiful spring flower beds. Daffodils, tulips, hyacinth, crocus, oh my. A beautiful display of spring color was gracing the front of so many homes on our block. Not ours. Damn it. THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT!
I asked both Chris & my Mom (oops) for bulbs for my fall birthday. It made me feel obligated to plant them.......because we ended up with upwards of 200 bulbs (double oops. don't ask 2 of the closest people to you for the same gift for the same holiday....the gift will rain down on you & you might feel equal parts overwhelmed & foolish). So while Lulu took naps last November (yes, we waited until effectively the last possible weekend to do this) we went outside in the chilly damp weather & dug trench after trench in our various garden beds. It was mildly miserable since we had waited so long, but see above regarding my sense of obligation.
I am beyond thrilled to announce that each day this week another area has started to show little green plants that could!! All over our (tiny) yard - the little plants who stuck it out underground all winter are ready for their close ups! We have virtually no idea what we planted where.....we were sort of dumping bulbs willy nilly by the end (see above re: damp/chilly weather) so it is going to be so exciting to see what these baby plants turn out to be! I can't wait.
I think perennials are basically magic. To plant something once & enjoy it for years to come is nothing short of a miracle. Happy first few days of spring everyone. I hope you find some joy in the bits of green showing themselves, despite our local highs in the 30s!