Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Friday Recap May 25, 2018 - Grilling, 1st Birthday Party, New Niece, Edible Garden

Well, summer is here! 
Given what a lame/cold/rainy/windy spring we had, that is hugely exciting!

1. Breaking in our new grill
I may have left the peppers on a touch too long....

We felt so lucky to get our new (to us) grill this winter from my uncle & aunt who were moving. They were planning to junk it, so gave it to us for free. It is giant & wonderful & we feel really lucky (REALLY) lucky we didn't need to invest in a new one this year. Now that the weather seems to be on the upswing, we've been spending time in the backyard & on the patio enjoying delicious grilled food.

2. 1st Birthday Party

It is so fun to see Lulu's baby friends growing up alongside her! We had a blast at her bud Theo's 1st birthday party, the weather cooperated & we got to enjoy our friends' backyard while Theo enjoyed his first taste of cake!
Lulu enjoyed double fisting cheese.....

3. More time with our newest niece
Proud & capable big brother!

You can see more photos of our sweetest little lady Mary here, but we had a great family dinner Sunday night & loved to be with her!
Smitten Bump with his newest grandchild
Mama, big sister & big brother with Mary

4. The funniest bug
She was cracking me up this week!
Just plain happy

Relaxing in the laundry basket

Dare devil Lulu

Who needs a water table when there is a dog water bowl??

5. The Edible Garden
This doesn't do justice to the size of the main garden! Its giant & full of organic produce!
I took all of the 2017 season off from the Edible Garden at the Farm in the Zoo at Lincoln Park Zoo because it was right on the heels of Lulu's arrival. I guess it was my volunteering maternity leave :)
The strawberries are coming! The strawberries are coming!
It was so nice to be back there visiting with curious guests, digging in the dirt, sweating in the sunshine & generally loving every minute of it. 
I don't give much thought to volunteering being my "me" time away from Lulu, it just happens to be a hobby I value quite highly, so I spend money on a babysitter to do it. It was interesting to chat with another mom while I was in the garden this week. Her toddler daughters were helping us move compost around & exploring the earthworms that had made their way into the compost piles. The mom seemed shocked that what I was doing was my "me" time. Its not really so shocking, is it? A few hours in the sun helping other people learn about where their food comes from, organic gardening, &composting? I guess its because I pay someone to watch Lulu while I don't get paid? Maybe. The thing is, as I mention above, volunteering & gardening are both you commit to finding time to pursue your hobbies, right? I have & I am convinced I am a better person because of it.
This view on my walk to & from Hondapants isn't too shabby
There are SO SO SO many veggies, fruits, herbs & flowers planted! As things mature & ripen, they are available to sample which is always a bonus. You can expect to help spread compost, water plants, dig in the dirt, harvest & hopefully learn something new!  It is worth a visit if you are ever in Lincoln Park on a Wednesday, Thursday or Saturday morning.

6. Swinging with friends
Kalil is enjoying this swing session more than the Bug!
I love that the warm weather encourages evening park dates with our friends who live on our block. When the weather is nice I want to squeeze every single solitary last drop of fun out of our days! Lulu is starting to want to get out of the swings and be on the move; but I can usually get her to stay put for a few minutes.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

And then there were 2.....4....or 6....or 7....depending what you are counting

Welcome to the world sweet baby Mary!

My brother & sister in law welcomed their 4th baby on Mother's Day night!! She is their 2nd daughter, 4th child, my 6th niece/nephew and my parents' 7th grandchild!

Congratulations GR & Tara on another beautiful munchkin :)

She is perfect & lovely & we are all thrilled to have her here! 

Lulu was very confused about her tiny cousin!

Lulu's 1st Birthday.......a couple of weeks late

We had an awesome week of celebrations for our littlest big girl! OK, to be fair, some, if not all, of the celebrations were really for Chris & me.....since we made it a year! We kept our tiny human alive & well for 365 days! Yahoo!

We hosted a family birthday party Thursday & had a photographer take some photos which was a treat!

Lulu also had her first sample of cake....hilariously she didn't love it! She might have just been overtired, but she didn't demolish it as I thought she might! I made funfetti cake for her family party, I love the recipe - you can find it here

Saturday afternoon was our larger party for both family & friends. It was a rainbow themed cocktails  & cupcakes affair! Same deal - Lulu wasn't super into her cupcake! It made me very happy to gather such a wonderful group of people who are so important to us to celebrate our bug. Admittedly, the guest list got slightly out of hand.....and 80+ people RSVPed yes. The weather didn't exactly cooperate for us to utilize our we rented heat lamps & borrowed a supplementary fire pit to provide more heat. It worked out perfectly & I think the 60-70 people who celebrated with us enjoyed themselves quite a bit. I know we enjoyed ourselves immensely! I made more of the funfetti cupcakes plus Smitten Kitchen's "I Want Chocolate Cake" for the chocolate cupcake option. They were all iced in the vanilla buttercream from Brown Eyed Baker, linked above. Costco was my go to for the food, plus we had a bunch of pizza delivered. Chris & I wanted to enjoy Lulu's party & visit with our family & friends - so I refused to do any food that had to be attended to!!
12 months of our Lulu bug

It is very relaxing to color sort M&Ms & Skittles. Not that we did that.....

I baked 105 cupcakes & had lots of help icing them; thanks Mom, Marg & Lynn!

We only did snacky foods - love the rainbow theme

Lots of people were surprised by the purple cauliflower - I didn't dye it! It grows that way :)

Happy Birthday to Lulu!

Trying out her chocolate cupcake

Hanging with some cousins & friends

Kiddos & babies galore at Lulu's party

Hip hip hooray for a homemade balloon garland!

Backyard fun at Lulu's party

Lulu was having so much fun.....

....until she wasn't!!
Thanks so much to all who helped us celebrate 365 days of our happy Bug. We are lucky to have you all in our lives.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Friday Round Up 5/18/18

We've had a smashing week! Particularly when compared with last week which included an ear infection, high fever, ER visit & hospital stay...........doesn't take much to top that!

1. My first night away from Lulu bug
This technically happened a couple weeks ago - but things got sidetracked by the illnesses last week! Chris & Lulu had their first Daddy/Daughter weekend while I drove to Columbus, OH to visit college friends. I am happy to report that no tears were shed on my part! I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of emotions given I've spent much of Lulu's life with her so far. Thankfully I had a wonderful time with 2 women who I don't see nearly enough and Chris & Lulu had a great time at home.
Chris & Lulu & Owenn had lots of walks

Plus some solid ball pit time :)

2. Which was also a great friend's bridal shower
This photo doesn't do justice to the "bride" crown provided!
The night away referenced above was to celebrate my college roommate's bridal shower! Congratulations Kater, you deserve all the happiness this world has to offer. I am so excited for August to stand by your side when you & Steve say "I do". 
Ahhhhh there is the "bride" crown!
Another college friend, Jocie & her mom threw the beautiful party for Katie (which I was sadly remiss in photographing). Why does life conspire to make it so hard to see the people you love who don't live in your metro area?!? It was such a treat to be with these 2 celebrating Katie, hanging out, catching up. There is talk of a visit to me during the fingers are crossed!
Jocie's cutie pie little girl Ruby joined the festivites, which only made them better

3. Bulbs just.keep.coming!
Now we are seeing our giant alliums start to bloom! Admittedly I did some pretty poor placement on these.....giant is in the name. Where did Chris & I plant them? Mostly smack in the front of our garden bed! 
Yeah, these are tall, Right up front. Real tall. Poor planning!
Holy cow, we must've been tired of planting bulbs when we got to the front bed last year. Thankfully a gardener neighbor told me once the plants are done flowering, we can move them to the back! Gardening is one of those hobbies that has an awful lot to teach me about patience and planning and delayed gratification. I have A LOT to learn in all 3 categories.....

4. My chives came back
I never imagined these would come back after spending the winter outdoors in a pot!
Hooray! They are back! They are about to bloom! I think things in the allium family are abundantly beautiful and somewhat inconceivable - how does that stem hold up such a large flower?!? See this post from years ago on my love of the "Crazy Purple Flowers"
Up close with one of the giant alliums in the front yard

5. Southern Gothic at Windy City Playhouse

Chris & I went to see the play called Southern Gothic at a theater we'd never been to on the northside of the city called Windy City Playhouse. It was such a fun night out. You likely know that we don't necessarily get out that much and when we do, its not typically for theater. We LOVED this show. Read more & buy tickets at the link above, but the short version is the creators of this piece built a single story house circa 1960's inside the theater. As a ticket holder, you enter the house as a fly on the wall to watch the action unfold over the course of a 90 minute birthday dinner party. The house itself was unreal, full kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room, front porch and back patio. You are offered some sample cocktails & can nibble on snacks throughout the show. It was a great play and a compelling format. Chris & I agreed that we could go see it again since there is no way to watch all the action unfold as a handful of story lines are playing out simultaneously around the house. The run has been extended into early December - it is so worth checking out!!

6. Lincoln Park Zoo on 60 Minutes
I am a self described zoo nerd & I so value the time I spend volunteering at the Lincoln Park Zoo. I was excited & proud to see them prominently featured on 60 Minutes, you can watch the clip (& some annoying ads, sorry) here . 

7. My nephew's 1st Holy Communion

I started nannying my biggest little nephew, Liam, when he was the ripe old age of 4 months. I continued taking care of him & the siblings that followed, until Liam was almost 6. 

Last Saturday Liam made his 1st Holy Communion! As much as I struggle with some of the policies the Catholic Church upholds, I still believe in the power of faith & faith tradition including the sacraments. Such a grown up little man Liam is turning into! 

Lulu wasn't fever free long enough to come to church & be near so many people so Chris & Lulu stayed home. My heart was full as I watched the celebration unfold.