Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Friday, July 27, 2018

Friday Round Up 7/27/18 - Article to read, Ladybugs, Video to laugh at, Mom's 1st boat ride, Unexpected beauty, Cousin love

Happy Friday! Chris, the Bug & I are headed to Maryland to celebrate his parents' 50th (FIFTIETH!!!) wedding anniversary today. I hope you & yours have some fun summer travel or vacation plans coming up!

1. Burdens that other people are carrying
A quick read in the NY Times caught my attention this week while doing the scroll through social media. Maybe my social media scrolling isn't all bad if it leads to articles like this one that inspire kind, compassionate, big thoughts??? Its probably still mostly a giant waste of time - but I hope you enjoy reading the article. It is heavy, but that happens to be the point. How different would our country/state/city/neighborhood look and feel if we took a tiny sliver of energy to appreciate the great burdens other people around us carry? I would argue we might all be somewhat improved by such thoughts.

2. Ladybugs to the rescue

So last week I mentioned that we have an aphid problem on our milkweed plants. I tried aggressively spraying them with the hose - which helped a lot, but I didn't get them all. So I ordered 1500 live ladybugs on Amazon. Proving once again, you can buy literally anything on Amazon. Chris & I had a really fun time releasing the bugs onto the plants - Lulu was somewhat amused as well! Not too many stuck around past the 24 hour mark, I guess there are greener pastures for our bugs in the neighborhood. I'm so hoping that some laid eggs so we have some ongoing aphid control!

3. This video
Chris is into Ask Reddit, its his social media habit that sucks his time :) This video made all of his scrolling worth it. The belly laughing we both did was intense & awesome.

4. My Mom's 1st boat ride
Lulu was aggressively demanding another pretzel. It's hard to be one.
 Not her first boat ride ever, duh! But, her first boat ride on the new to us this summer boat! 
Working on her sea legs
Yay! It was a beautiful Sunday evening, perfect for a cocktail cruise! I also love that Chris wanted to drive for a bit - because driving the boat is not nearly as relaxing as sitting on one's butt whilst being driven around by someone else :)
Oh captain, my captain
The weekend's weather was a bit on the dreary side - so we were happy to take advantage of the clear skies & sunshine as the weekend was wrapping up. 

Those sea legs are slow in coming!
Thumbs up from Mom! Hooray!

5. Unexpected beauty

This beautiful yellow flower (is it a type of sunflower? would love to know!) is growing out of the gravel in our alley! Our landscaper laid down gravel to try to divert alley water to the sewer grate.......rather than into our backyard! 

My lovely neighbors pointed it out to me yesterday & then Chris told me about it too! What a delight.

6. Cousin love

I adore spending time with my siblings & siblings in law - it makes me so glad when our kiddos get to play together. Tara brought 3 of her 4 kiddos over for a delicious picnic & playdate this week. I love that the big kids were all over the baby pool fun!!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Friday Recap 7/20/18 - Empty beach, milkweed in bloom, strawberry tantrums, Pearce's corn, help from our neighbor

Yahoo for a Friday that initially was forecasted to be rainy all day...........and didn't get rainy until after 3pm! Made for a perfect beach day!

1. Empty Beach
You can see our bike trailer on the boardwalk.....and a lifeguard by the water. No one else!!

See above re: horrible forecast to understand why literally no one else was at the beach today! Admittedly when the Bug & I arrived it was drizzling a bit, but we were planning to swim - so who cares?!? Our friend drove in from the far western burbs with her 3 kiddos and we had an absolute blast. The only bummer? I didn't take near enough photos! 

3 of the 4 kiddos rocking out

Lulu was headed out a bit prematurely :)
We had pizza delivered, played in the water, on the sand & on the playground - did it all really! Made it home safely well before the rain started too!
Literally no one else in sight! Amazing!

2. Milkweed in bloom

We bought this swamp milkweed plant at a native plant sale hosted by the Evanston Garden Club 2 years ago. It is so pretty in bloom! Theoretically it would be a nice place for monarch butterflies to lay eggs, but so far we haven't seen any caterpillars :( It is currently infested with aphids - I'm working on an aggressive removal campaign......more on that next week!

3. Strawberry tantrum
So Lulu loves our strawberry plant. She loves eating the strawberries straight from teh plant. She does NOT love waiting for the fruit to mature and ripen on the plant. 

Just did the sign for "please" - strawberry plant is out of the frame on the left
She uses the baby sign for "please" and stands by the pot and it makes me realize I have no idea how to teach patience to my little bug. I say a lot of "they're not ready yet", "they'll be ready soon", "growing strawberries takes a long time" but she has no idea what time is yet!! So I just go into the house to get some out of the fridge to appeal to her desire for instant gratification. See below for how that tends to go over. Spoiler alert, not well.

Trying to appease her with a store bought strawberry. Going really well as you can see.

4. Iced Coffee

Coffee+almond milk+a teaspoon of simple syrup = heaven

Because summer.

5. Lulu's first ears of Pearce's corn
Pictured with my sweet niece, Anne, who is a little horrified by how Lulu eats :)

Holy moly Lulu loves corn on the cob! Like a lot. A lot A LOT. So much so that her first dive into Pearce's corn turned into 1.5 ears........because she ate most of mine too!! 

We've been going to Pearce's for as long as I can remember & it is really fun to pass their deliciousness on to the Bug. They have grown and expanded so much in the past decade - we love them all the more :) The thought of Fall at Pearce's makes me so excited.......Lulu will be big enough to play on the fort/climbing structure they construct out of hay bales, there is kettle corn, pumpkins as far as the eye can see, and delicious donuts. For now I will settle for the delightful produce they grow on their land & that that they buy from other farms. It is after all the best time for produce, right??

My mom & dad brought it down so we technically ate it in IL, but the WI flavor was there :)

6. Help from a neighbor/friend
I've blogged many times about how much I love our neighborhood. It is a supportive place, safe, friendly, welcoming. Well, it is full of amazing people - that is really the best part about our neighborhood! So when I went to take HondaPants to the shop on Tuesday and she was dead as a door nail I knew why. Rewind to Saturday, I got home from a solo Costco run & started unloading a ridiculous amount of food into the house. A month or so ago, our 14 year old HondaPants lost her first important function as a car......the "ding ding ding" that alerts you to your headlights being left on when you take the keys out of the ignition stopped "ding ding dinging". Which probably wouldn't have been a big deal a year ago. But my brain is packed with a lot more than it used to be & for the 2nd time in ONE WEEK I left my lights on. A couple hours later our neighbor a few doors down, Jack, knocked on the door to ask me if I knew my lights were on- which of course I didn't know. I was in the middle of something, so I didn't even bother to see if the car would start. I guess I didn't need to use it until Tuesday when our mechanic told me I could bring it in..........oops. Long story all to say I texted both of our next door neighbors & they both responded right away that yes they have jumper cables & yes they have a car with which to jump HondaPants. The 2 non neighbor friends that I texted responded the same way :) 

Blueberry goo explosion!
I sometimes struggle with keeping all the balls in the air. After all, adulting is hard, there is no way around that. I am actively working on being kinder to myself in those moments of difficulty - there is really no value in beating myself up over mistakes I make - I need to work on fixing them, not ruminating in the mess I made. Kristin Neff's book Self Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself came highly recommended to me and I started reading it this week. It seems like a valuable read for me so far :) Part of fixing my mistake was thanking my neighbor for her help........with food, duh! So I used some of my remaining 10 pound box of blueberries and made blueberry scones. Yum. 

7. Salad Spinning Bug

I dream of the days when Lulu has the interest and capacity to help me in the kitchen. I so hope she is interested in food & cooking because some of my fondest memories throughout my life really are working in the kitchen with my mom. We made a lot of chocolate chip cookies when I was little, so much so that I had the recipe memorized as a munchkin! Lulu was so interested in the salad spinner this week, so I let her work with it (while sketchily standing up in her chair that attaches to the counter.....see above re: adulting being hard! I can't win them all). It made me abundantly happy to see her take interest in a kitchen task. Plus she's just so damn cute. Added bonus!

8. Why the delay?
So my Friday recap is coming on Saturday morning. Why? Because on the way home from a local playground last night (where I met a delightful new mom friend!) Owenn stopped to play with his dog neighbor Bear. Our human neighbors kindly invited us to come over for a glass of wine! They've been hosting Friday night porch nights for years & years. Far longer than we have been in the neighborhood. Rare are the Fridays that we can stop over, but I am mindful of the fact that an invitation that is never accepted will, in all likelihood, stop being extended! We adore these neighbors & were thankful for the chance to have a delicious glass of wine and visit. But when we got home, put the Bug to bed, ate PB&J on the couch for dinner, I was zonked and not in a place to finish this post! So, I'm late is posting for a great reason - was hanging with some neighbors who we are so lucky to have.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Round Up 7/13/18 - 1st Strawberry, Edible Gardens Bounty, Cousin Pool Time, WOW Walk, Bestie's New Home, Outdoor Concert, Blueberries, Old Friends

Happy Summery Friday everyone! The summer goodness just keeps on coming!

1. Our 1st Garden Strawberry
Yippee!! Our one little strawberry plant finally gave us our first strawberry! 
Lulu wore her strawberry outfit in honor of our first strawberry!
 I say "finallly"....this gives you some indication of my inexperience with gardening in general & strawberries specifically....I am so impatient! Reason #654 that gardening is a good hobby for me - there is no such thing as instant gratification in a garden! Slow, steady, lots of waiting & work before the rewards come. 
The only bummer about letting Lulu eat the 1st strawberry?

As most people likely are, I am a work in progress - this is an area that I constantly work on - slowing down to appreciate what's right in front of me, rather than worrying about & rushing toward the next thing, whatever that may be.
I'm not sure how it tasted!

2. Bounty & Beauty in the Edible Gardens
The sunflowers are getting so darn big!

My 2 times per month volunteering in the Edible Gardens at the Lincoln Park Zoo is, in many ways, self serving. 
One of our garden managers, David, shows off a freshly harvested head of garlic
I get to work alongside professional gardeners, master gardeners & home gardeners too. There is so much for a garden newbie like me to learn - the Edible Gardens are a great place for me to do it!
The flowers are nearly as exciting as the edible plants
The combination of time outside with time to myself is a good one. Obviously I'm surrounded by other volunteers, staff & zoo guests, but to exist as just me & not exclusively as Lulu's Mom, is necessary for me to feel like me. Almost essential really.
Yellow squash is almost ready to harvest
Again with the flowers!!!
Purple peppers never cease to amaze me

3. Cousin Pool Time
Anne keeping Lulu in line during a safety break
 For all the same reasons that Chris & I don't see our friends enough, I feel like we don't see our family enough either! Life gets in the way, schedules are hectic, summer is busy, etc, etc. Which is why having some serious cousin pool time for Lulu on Monday was such a treat! My sister in law invited Lulu & me to join her & her 4 kiddos for a late afternoon dip. It was delightful & a welcome relief from the heat of the day! My nephews & niece love being with Lulu, I love being with my sister in law & our tiniest little niece who is only 7 weeks old. What a great afternoon we had!
Kane's face in this photo is simply amazing.
The rest of the kiddos are adorable too :)
Baby Mary was getting changed, so didn't make this photo op!

4. WOW Walk

I host a weekly walk as part of Evanston's WOW program. I had no idea what to expect - I figured maybe I would meet some new people and at the very least, get outside with Lulu for an hour each week throughout the summer. As it turns out, the weekly walk has turned into a standing date with one of my friends from the Mom's Group I started! Emily is the only person who ever turned up for the walk (with her sweet daughter) and we have a lovey time enjoying the lakefront and catching up each week that we are in town. 
Stuck in the "fish bowl"
There was some police activity on the route we usually take (turned out to be a misunderstanding where someone mistook theater props as actual weapons in a parking garage) so we headed a different way. I love when lemons turn into lemonade - we stopped at a playground I'd never gone to before & the girls got to play a bit. We also carried Emily's stroller over a sandy hill in the hopes of continuing our walk - only to get caught in a fishbowl of boulders & more sand. Adventures 
At least we were stuck in a pretty place :)

5. Bestie's New Home
So Chris & I have been in our home for over 2 years, but I continue to be delighted by the place we live. That said, I can remember the excitement of those first few days & weeks - so much positive energy & planning alongside the dreaded unpacking! It was perfectly wonderful to get a tour of my best friend's new condo that she & her boyfriend recently bought together. It is ridiculously beautiful. The building is immaculately maintained. The unit is GINORMOUS. So many interesting details and features that make it unique. I was incredibly impressed by how moved in they were after living in their home for only 1 week. I obsessed over their awesome private patio. I had so much fun talking through some ideas for re-purposing some of their furniture for their new space. Oh man. Just perfect. What a wonderful Sunday morning it was to see my best friend so truly happy. 
Happiest best friend around!
 And then brunch. The new place is quite near this delightful neighborhood spot. It is tiny, it feels like you are being hosted in someone's home (a feeling fostered by its garden level location in an apartment/condo building combined with the cozy decor and tiny size). You are greeted by a florist shop type display of fresh flowers and the fun continues. The menu warns patrons to be patient as there is only one cook. The food was worth the wait FOR SURE. Delicious French press coffee, awesome iced coffee, baked goods looked great, though we forgot to get one to try! Can't wait to go back again soon. 
Seriously. The flowers!!!

6. Outdoor Concert in our Neighborhood
Fun to watch so many people dance!
 Summer is meant for outdoor music. It is just the best when the outdoor music is offered steps from our house!
Several friends & neighbors also came to check out the free salsa concert - it was just great. Lulu made a giant mess of our picnic.........toddlers & picnics are a tough combo......her little feet just have a way of finding themselves into all of the food!! That being said, the night was pretty near perfect & I can't wait for the next Starlight Concert next week.

Pretty thrilled that it is summertime
7. Blueberry Explosion
I may have purchased a 10 pound box  of blueberries from a stranger on Facebook. She's in a mom's group I'm in.......she lives in my town...........what could go wrong? Nothing as it turns out. Everything could go right though!!
blueberry jam + 1st batch of blueberry muffins

Emily (pictured above) was nice enough to pick up my box since I was too busy at cousin pool time to get them!

10 pounds of beautiful blueberries!
Lulu & I biked down to Emily's to pick them up & I've been eating them like crazy & cooking with them too! Yippee for a HUGE box of blueberries - like a fun game of choose your own adventure :)
Lulu wasn't so much into waiting to sample them :)
8. Old Friends + Our Babies
Samson chillaxing in the pool with Lulu

It is such a huge delight to introduce Lulu to my old friends and see her get to know them & their babies. We had Dasi (one of my college friends) & her little man, Samson, over for a pool party Friday morning. The two of them crack me up - Lulu was rocking some hilarious swimsuit issue style poses in the pool - the likes of which I had not seen before, nor have I seen since!
Look Tim! A choo choo train!! ~Lulu
Then on Sunday evening we grilled out with high school friends Tim & Terry (& their beautiful brides Katie & Libby). Terry & Libby's Desmond is a "big kid" in Lulu's eyes and she really enjoyed watching the Metra trains roll by with him! It also made me happy that Lulu allowed Tim to pick her up to watch the trains for a minute. We continue to be in the thick of separation anxiety - so every time another adult can successfully hold Lulu, even if for a minute or two, it feels like a major win!
Granted you can't see her face - but she's NOT screaming or crying!
Whoop! Major win!

Friday, July 6, 2018

2018 Father's Day

What lucky ladies Lulu & I are! 

My Dad & Chris are both incredible Dads and we are so darn happy to have them.

2018 marks my Dad's 40th Father's Day & Chris' 2nd :)

We celebrated up at the Lake with heat, sun, humidity & lots of time in the water.

***I thought I had published this weeks ago......oops. Clearly not! Happy July everyone!***