Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Reindeer Round Up - Christmas Edition - 12/28/18 - Wonderland Express, Santa Cruise, Forza Meats, BoBo & Bump Time, Cousin Love

Whoosh. For as much as I love Christmas - this past week was a bit of a challenge. Poor Lulu was sick, first with a stomach bug, then with a cold that then led to a double ear infection. If you have littles in your life you might or might not know that sick littles = not a ton of relaxing for their grown ups. Our week of fun, food, adventures with family, Ho Ho Ho, and holly jolly quickly turned into puke, snot, screaming at family (Lulu), How Are We Going to Make It, and not so holly jolly. We did have fun. We did have some hours that were mostly scream free. We did not have a lot of naps. We did not have a lot of fully formed adult thoughts or conversations. But we did have time with family, which took some of the edge off of the Bug being so upset/uncomfortable/flat out miserable.

It was humbling to have the Christmas week not go anywhere near as I planned.....we still did all of the activities we'd hoped/planned to. Just with a lot less joy on my part. It is hard for me to enjoy myself when my littlest Bug is monkey clinging on to me while also swatting me/screaming in my ear. I'm sure that seems shocking that I wasn't having the time of my life ;) That is life though, right? Things don't go as planned. Particularly with kids involved. But they still were great. Different. Louder. Less relaxing. But still great because we were together.

Without further ado, here are some of the merry & bright moments of the past week!

What fun to see the train display at the Botanic Garden through the eyes of Lulu, Hennie & Neva!

The girls were super jazzed, Lulu kept saying "choo choo" "choo choo" which was really sweet.
These are the types of photos that truly show how sick Lulu felt :(

We all know how much Chris loves trains - I have to admit that I am beginning to fall under their holiday spell as well.

I love that we have traditions that are fun and appropriate for all 3 generations of our family, I'm pretty sure BoBo & Bump get a kick out of seeing the trains each year with the kids :)

2. Santa Cruise up at The Lake

This was our first time trying this fun experience; I loved it! The novelty of a winter time boat ride (our boat comes out of the water in October), festive lights along the way, a bit of caroling on the boat, a lakeside Santa cameo, candy canes, and just fun. I would do it again in a heartbeat!!

3. Delectable Sandwiches from Forza Meats
If you live or work in or near Glenview, run don't walk to Forza Meats. Having grown up in Glenview & watched the development of the Glen pull resources & interest away from the downtown area of my town, it makes my heart SO glad to see interesting new businesses making downtown Glenview home. I am aquainted with the guys who started the business & they seem to be quite heavily involved - in a good way :) Both were in the shop the day my mom & I popped in.

We tried 5 different sandwiches & they were all awesome. Oddly, I loved the vegetarian one - I realize that sounds ridiculous given "meat" is in the name of the business- but it was incredibly flavorful & full of different textures. Oftentimes the veggie sandwich option is a throwaway disappointment - not this one! From what we saw - you can't go wrong with the sandwiches.

My mom bought pork shoulder to prepare for Christmas Eve dinner (our "main" Christmas meal) - it was also top notch. Added bonus - one of the co-owners telling us about the farm where the pigs are raised.

I picked out some jarred delights for Chris' stocking, there were ready to bake pizzas, frozen sauces, fresh pastas, salads, olives, all sorts of delights waiting to be discovered.

Check out this new spot - I promise you won't regret it!

4. Imprint Music Concert

A classmate & close friend of Marg's is the VP of the newly formed non profit Imprint Music. They are awaiting their 501(c)3 status - but a cool idea for an organization! The group brings together alum from Glenbrook South (& maybe other places too) to perform beautiful choral concerts benefiting other nonprofits!

We grabbed dinner before the show and loved listening to Christmas carols sung by such talented people. Bonus - the concert was held at the church where I attended preschool 30+ years ago. Fun to be back in a place that I spent so much time when I was tiny!

 5. BoBo & Bump Time

There is so much to be said for the kids having time with their grandparents. My only regret is that because Lulu (& to be fair - Hennie & Neva too) really weren't feeling 100% - they were clingier than they usually are.

Wonderland Express fun with Bump & BoBo

Do you think the girls were getting tired?!?

In a normal day - the girls love to hang with BoBo & Bump. This Christmas they seemed to stick closer to mom & dad - but such is life. Thankfully they all got some time despite the germiness!
Taking a break from the ice skating adventure with BoBo
Lulu wasn't really enjoying Christmas morning - but had time for a heart to heart with Bump

6. Cousin Love

I'm not terribly close to any of my cousins, except those that live across an ocean in Ireland & Germany.

I suppose that is part of the reason it makes me so happy to see Lulu really developing relationships with her cousins.

Despite the fact that a bunch of our family got sick - the kids still really loved being together. If that isn't what this season is all about - then what is??

Friday, December 21, 2018

Friday Round Up 12/21/18 - CTA Hoilday Train, Neighbor Help, Neighborhood Caroling Party, 1st Ever Mom's Group Dinner Club, Christmas Family Time

Happy Holidays........Happy Holidays....... they are officially here!! I've been doing a great job of taking my time with this holiday season - and then this week the stomach bug came & made me feel like I needed to amp up my pace to Nth degree to keep up with all the germ killing!! Oh well, that's life, right? Sometimes family members get sick at what feel like the worst times. Knocking on wood here- but so far only 3 people have gotten it, so I'm desperately hoping the rest of us are in the clear!

1. CTA Holiday Train

This time of year is so fun - every institution seems to have something special going on to celebrate Christmas or the holidays generally. The CTA is no exception! They've been rocking the Holiday Train (or Santa Train) for years! We had friends come over to ride the train together & have dinner. As a grown up, I love the fun of the train - lights - music- decorations outside & inside, special seats, CTA workers in costume passing out candy canes, impromptu singing on board, all the things. The train was 40 minutes late so we played at the park as long as we could - then went to a coffee shop for hot chocolates :) 'Tis the season, right?? Despite being packed in super tight, we had a great time on the "choo choo" as Lulu calls trains of any sort.

We had our friends over for pizza after the train, which is always so fun! Its also a little bonkers when there are 6 kiddos running around our modestly sized house :) I do my level best to relax & embrace the chaos! What helps is Lulu's excitement about all the playmates in the house! She's the littlest one in the group, but loves to have everyone over. She must've ridden down our slide 40 times throughout the night - it was hilarious to see her doing her laps amongst all the other littles. She so clearly is a mix of Chris & me personality wise - and these moments where I watch her jump right into the mix of a group of big kids- remind me of me. I love a good party. I love to be surrounded by friends and family. I'm still learning the art that more is not more when it comes to parties - but still :) It is nice to see her little sense of self developing and watching her figure out how to navigate a room full of people.

2. Neighbor Help
Sometimes your dog gets away from you unexpectedly & "runs away" - quotes because he doesn't actually want to leave your family, but because he's running after a squirrel. Sometimes you spend an hour & a half looking for him, the panic rising with the passing minutes. Sometimes you realize you can't find the dog alone, so you send the SOS out to your neighbors & community. Sometimes your neighbors & friends turn out in wonderfully helpful numbers to search for the dog. Sometimes it is your sweet neighbor girl who finds the dog, 20 yards from where you lost him, stuck behind a fence designed to keep people (& animals?!?!) off of the CTA tracks. Sometimes your husband, who had headed home to put your human baby down for a nap, passes off said human to a wonderful neighbor to sprint back to you. Sometimes you have to climb a fence, avoid the barbed wire & lift your shaking and crying dog over a 6 foot high concrete wall (no barbed wire there - thank goodness) and hand him to your husband.  Whoosh. Owenn puppy. Keeping us all on our toes. Majorly keeping us on our toes. Not the most holly jolly Saturday morning I've ever had!

3. Neighborhood Caroling Party

Last year I was recovering from the flu when our neighborhood caroling party happened :( I went outside to see the kiddos singing - but didn't go to the cookie exchange/craft creation party at our local American Legion Hall :)

This year we were able to go to the cookie + warm up the vocal cords part of the fun - but not the outdoor part. I love that we live in a neighborhood filled with families that want to hang out together. It is a great place to live and I adore the fact that Lulu has so many "big kid" neighbors who seem to look out for her.

4. 1st Ever Mom's Group Dinner Club
I cooked up the idea for a dinner club based on what my parents have been doing for 20+ years with a group of their good friends. They call it Gourmet Club, but everyone shares in the hosting and cooking duties- and you cook a themed menu once a month or every other month, whatever. I love to share dinner with friends- but at this stage of my life - its not joyful to prepare the entire menu myself. It feels much more like work than fun, So this type of elevated potluck speaks to me! I went to my mom's group to see if there was any interest - and indeed there was! We squeezed a meeting in just before the wild & crazy Christmas season got into full swing - and it was a relaxing, fun evening in!

Our theme was Smitten Kitchen......which isn't really a theme - but everyone had to select a recipe from the Smitten Kitchen blog or cookbooks. Everything came together quite well from a flavor standpoint - it felt and tasted like a cohesive meal, even though 8 people prepared it!

Lots of good conversation around the dinner table, delicious food, good wine, what's not to love? Already looking forward to the next one!

5. Pre-Christmas Family Time
Just remember girls - it doesn't have to be fun to be fun!

Despite the fact that a stomach bug is taking out family members, we are still finding ways to enjoy each others' company. In between bouts of Clorox wiping, hand sanitizing, hand washing & Lysol-ing that is.

That's the bitch about the holidays, isn't it? By the time they come around - you've been running ragged for weeks, parties, cooking, shopping, errands, decorating, wrapping, gifting. So your body gives you the middle finger & forces you to slow the F down. Enter the stomach bug. This is not our first Christmas that involved a stomach bug, but of course its felled my Dad & my Bug. My brother was out for a day but bounced back well. Fingers crossed that all the cleaning helps the rest of us avoid it!! Ho Ho Ho!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Friday Recap 12/14/18 - Christmas in the City, Birthdays, Surprise Engagement Party, Coffee for the Crossing Guard

'Tis the season for all things holly jolly, Christmasy, wintry and wonderful!! Let's do this team! I'm a day late because I went to bed at 7 last night........fighting a Christmas cold. That's about the only un-awesome thing about this time of year!

1. Christmas in the City - and by city I mean Chicago
Our little girl in the big city :)
The Bug was obsessed with the Serpentine Bridge!

Lulu & I met Chris downtown for some wonderful wintry traditions on Friday afternoon! Gluhwein at the Chriskindlmarket and Caroling at Cloudgate (aka Carols at the Bean) were the best kick off to the weekend a girl could ask for! The only way it would've been a more perfect day was if there was snow on the ground or snow falling! But it was delightful. 
Lulu & her DaDa enjoying all the sights

Gluwein, beer & my daughter inside the warm beer hall tent thing :) The yawn + hat askew make it seem like she was imbibing......she wasn't!
Love Christmas traditions!

So many people out & about enjoying the winter fun in the city. The Bug really liked watching the ice skaters at the Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park as well as the rink at Millennium Park. It was quite the thrill for her! Also - the serpentine bridge over Columbus Dr. was an unexpected hit with her - she thought it was pretty much the best thing since sliced bread! 

The city's Christmas tree in Millennium Park was beautiful & striking as always. It is just SO BIG. I think that's one thing that I am still awed by, despite being a grown up. Honestly though - to see all things Christmasy through the eyes of a child is the right was to see them. Something like the Bean that I know blew my mind the first time I saw longer does. You grow accostumed to the beauty & wonder around you & then stop seeing it. But then you bring your 1 year old under the Bean & watch her head pretty much explode. She was running around looking at herself & us & all the other people reflected and it felt like we could see the little gears in her mind turning, trying to make sense of something so wonderful. There is so much wonder & joy around us everyday, but especially during the Christmas season. May we all approach this most awesome time with open arms & eyes!!

2. Birthdays celebrated on the same day!
Birthday FaceTime with PopPop

Lulu's PopPop's birthday is 1 day before that of our biggest little nephew man! This year we celebrated our nephew's birthday a day early - so we had some FaceTime with PopPop and a family birthday party with Lulu's BoBo, Bump, Aunt Tara, Uncle GR, and 4 of her cousins! 
Appetizers with BoBo & Bump

The oldest & youngest siblings :)

Happy 9th Birthday sweet little man!

Someone was enjoying the cake :)

Hooray for birthdays really anytime of the year.

3. Surprise Engagement Party 

Its not everyday that you are invited to a surprise engagement party for your best friend!! Chris & I were thrilled when an evite arrived from Stacey's (now fiance, then boyfriend) inviting us to a bar in Lincoln Park to celebrate the occasion of him proposing.
How hard it is to keep such a big secret for a WEEK!! At least our other best friend lives in San Diego - so I spent a lot of time talking to Cody about all things engagement in the intervening days!!

Now that both the future Mrs. & Mr. have posted to social media about the big news.......I can share it here!! 

Chris & I are simply so excited for Stacey & Bruce - they are a wonderful couple & will have an incredibly happy life together. We will be along for the ride ;)

4. Coffee for the Crossing Guard
So we have a pretty consistent morning routine that involves Lulu, Owenn & I walking Chris to his train and then doing a wide lap around the neighborhood, stopping at a couple of parks so Lulu can get her fix.

We occasionally pop into a local treat spot Beth's Little Bake Shop for a muffin, scone, croissant and/or coffee in conjunction with the train drop off. 

Lulu had (all week long) been saying "go" "go" "go" as we walked by Beth's, so I told her we could stop on Friday for a treat. We thought we'd be able to stop with Chris, but alas & alack -  the morning rush was for naught - Chris didn't have time to join us. Lulu & I let someone behind us go first so we could fully investigate all the treats in the case. We settled on a French Toast muffin, kind of has a bread pudding consistency under a crunchy, cinnamon sugar dome. Yum. We were happy to see one of the crossing guards in line behind us & got her coffee for her. It was foggy, damp & dreary outside and I guessed she could use a pick me up. It turned out she had forgotten her mug of coffee at home on the table :( Lulu & I are loving the reverse Advent Calendar idea - it is giving us license to do random acts of kindness every day (as if we need license - maybe reminder is a better choice of words!). 

I encourage you to buy the person in line behind you a coffee - it made everyone in the tiny little bakery seem a smidgen happier. You might be surprised how much tiny little niceties can have a bigger impact than you expect! I was surprised yesterday how nice I felt for the whole morning - knowing I had slightly improved someone's day. It put a tiny spring in my step! It was a real treat for us & hopefully for one of our crossing guards too.