Lizzard Loves Blue Sky Snow Covered Vail

Friday, September 21, 2018

Friday Round Up 9/21/18 - "Be an Includer" blog post, Mary is a Catholic, Fall Fun at the Lake, Free Tickets, Bday Dinner, Beach Day

Hap-hap-happy Friday to you!

The title of this blog post is misleading because I feel like it misses the fact that plenty of grown ups need a reminder about the importance of being an includer & of course plenty of parents of sons need to teach them similar lessons. Maybe even the same lessons. As the mom of a young girl, I gobble up what I see as good advice for raising a happy, healthy, well adjusted daughter. I read about ways to make sure she respects her body, is empowered to use it for all kinds of good, respects her heart & others' too. Despite opening with a critique of this post - I really do appreciate its message.

My own Mom always taught me to be inclusive. There was no space for mean girl BS in our house (except the physical fights my sister and I engaged in........siblings are often each other's enemies before becoming best friends it seems to me!!). When I complained as a grade schooler to my Mom about the annoying girl who always wanted to sit with me, play with me, etc - she showed me how to reframe my negativity & straight up get over myself. "She just wants to be your friend" my Mom would say. "She wants to sit with you because she likes you" (duh - how could I be so blind as a kid?? Though, if I am honest - I, in that moment, probably didn't want to be her friend- she likely wasn't "cool" or "popular" as I've grown up - I've learned that cool & popular aren't necessarily all they are cracked up to be).

I am still a work in progress, but I do strive to be an includer in all aspects of my life. When I take the time to think about what my life's purpose might be, I come back to the idea of connection. I think making connections might be my purpose - whether it is connecting me to others or facilitating connections for others. It is my sincere hope that the Bug will learn to be an includer and relish the positive role she will have in her community as a result.

2. Mary is a Catholic!

Chris & I were honored by the invitation to serve as Mary's Godparents! She was baptized on Sunday surrounded by 4 generations of her Mom's family & 3 of her Dad's plus some close friends. 

The weather was beautiful, she was a rockstar & didn't so much as bat an eye when Father Foley poured water over her head! Tara & GR had a fantastic dinner party to celebrate after the ceremony was over. Congratulations to sweet baby Mary & welcome to Catholicism dear girl!
Sometimes you need a rib. I get it Bug.

Too bad I didn't take anymore photos. #fail

3. Fall Fun at the Lake

We hosted our first guests in our home via Airbnb last weekend! Eek! I feel really happy with how it all turned out, the family was great & had an awesome time in Evanston! But it meant we needed to not be at home since someone else was staying at our house :) To the Lake we went & enjoyed ourselves quite thoroughly! The weather was all summer but some of our activities screamed fall!

We have started going to the Apple Barn Orchard & Winery to pick apples - its closer to the house than the Elegant Farmer  & though we still love the Elegant Farmer - at this stage of the game, less time in the car is a really great thing.

Then we headed over to Pearce's for their customer appreciation weekend. Lulu took her first hayride (though there was no hay.........) to pick a pumpkin! She was still so little last year when I took her to the zoo's pumpkin patch.......she didn't really get it! But this year she was all about it. Picked out an acorn squash & a nice looking pumpkin!
Lulu's 1st (hayless) hay ride!

Trying to find the perfect pumpkin

This one. This is THE ONE.

4. Free Bears Tickets
Pretty great seats!

What a pleasant surprise to get free tickets to a Bears game! I hadn't been in years & the weather was ridiculously warm & summery (opposite of the last time I went when I couldn't feel my fingers or toes because of the cold). 

Unfortunate shot of strangers' butt & crotches...
A last minute date night was a great time. A good reminder to say yes to things even if it seems like a lot.......we had just gotten back into the house post-Airbnb guests checking out, we'd run around having fun all weekend, we were tired. So what? Free tickets don't come along everyday! I'm so glad we motivated & went! 

Brian Urlacher was inducted into the Hall of Fame during halftime
5. Birthday dinner with friends
I adore Mexican cuisine & am quite certain I would happily eat it weekly. So when we planned a dinner with 2 of my great friends, the restaurant here in town Taco Diablo came immediately to mind! They have the most ridiculously good chips & salsa, chunky flavorful guacamole & stand out tacos. The bartender was knowledgeable and friendly, the service is always top notch, and it has funky, fun decor. Check it out if you find yourself in Evanston - you won't be disappointed!
I appreciate the fact that these friends & I have been consistently celebrating birthdays together for the better part of 10 years. Despite the fact that life is hectic & busy & jobs are stressful  & one friend has 3 kids, we make it happen - dinner out 3 times each year!

Oftentimes we will make or buy birthday cake or cupcakes for each other's special day. Oftentimes the restaurants we choose offer their own desserts - so they don't particularly want us bringing in outside dessert. Oftentimes we eat the treats while sitting in a car together!! The weather Wednesday night was comfortable - but it had POURED rain before we met up & who wants to sit in a puddle? Not I! So birthday cake, complete with candle, in my friends car topped off a great night of catching up & delicious food. Pretty great indeed!

6. September Beach Day

It was 90+ degrees outside yesterday! Crazy hot & quite humid too! So the Bug & I went on a bike ride to the beach. What a treat to be swimming in Lake Michigan in September! We also ran into a friend from my mom's group who was having a beach day with her daughter - added bonus!
7. These Two

Total I suppose its three - but the Owenn pup rocking out with the Bug & snoozing with Chris both make me smile from ear to ear.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Friday recap 9/14/18 - Lulu's Grandparents Visit, Beautiful Sunrises, Peaches from a Friend, Place Space or Liquor Cabinet?, Owenn's Anniversary

Happy Friday, that is actually a Saturday! I am typing this looking out at the lake sitting on the deck, drinking my 4th cup of coffee while the baby is napping. Which is to say, life is good, despite being a day late on my post!

1. Lulu's Grandparents Visit From PA

What an exciting time we had last weekend when we hosted Chris' folks for the first time in our home! It has been 2.5 years since we moved into our new (old) house and we were happy to finally have Lulu's MomMom & PopPop come to visit us. 

Lulu got a chance to spend time with all 4 of her grandparents too, a luxury I was never afforded since my maternal grandma Helen died before I was born. A neat thing to have so many people who love her all in one place!

2. Beautiful Sunrises

They get me every time. Whether its at the Lake or in Etown, they never fail to please.

3. Peaches From a Friend

Our friends have a mature peach tree in their yard (how totally awesome is that?!?) and they are willing to share their peaches with us (again - how totally awesome is that?!?!) I feel very happy when I am the recipient of such awesomeness.

4. Play Place or Liquor Cabinet??

If you can't laugh at stuff like this......we probably shouldn't be friends!

5. Owenn's Rescue Anniversary

How is it possible that we've had the crazy Owenn pup for 2 years?!? I was less than 2 months pregnant with Lulu (who we called Blinky or Baby K throughout my pregnancy) and we had just fenced in our new to us backyard. We had wanted a dog for so long, we were thrilled to find Owenn and bring him home. 

Chris was on a work trip to NYC when I picked Owenn (also known as Owatt) from Heartland Animal Shelter where we found him. He's what we call a "mostly good dog" because of his penchant for eating Lulu's socks, running off in the forest preserve or on the golf course, helping himself to food on the counter, and having bouts of incessant barking......

He's also a great big brother to the Bug, is very snuggly when he wants to be, is a good running partner, and great traveler. Happy 2 year rescue-versary Owenn pup!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Friday Round Up 9/7/18 - Trolls, Help from Neighbors, Anne is 4, Moroccan Chicken Recipe

TGIF! Hooray for Fridays! Yipppppppeeeeee!

1. Troll Hunting at the Morton Arboretum

Why is it so easy to miss the things that are an hour from home?!?!? I've lived in this area my entire life & had never stepped foot on the grounds of the Morton Arboretum! It was amazing. It is HUGE, full of fun stuff for Lulu & an all around awesome spot. It is within 15 minutes of both the Bolingbrook IKEA and the home of some of our great friends. Which is to say, we will certainly be back!

We went to go on a troll hunt, they have this incredible art installation (which was created on site) of 20-30 foot wooden trolls spread throughout the space. We had 4 kids under 4 in our group, so we only "found" 2 of the 6! We move a bit slowly ;)

It had been a horribly rainy morning but cleared to a hot, humid, sunny afternoon for our adventure. What a treat it was.

2. Help from Neighbors
In order to go on our troll hunting adventure - we needed to have someone feed Owenn dinner & let him out.......of course I didn't think of this until Saturday morning & our dog walker wasn't available on such short notice. Ugh. Enter our amazing neighbor Megan & her adorable family!! Megan was willing to take the Owenn pup on a walk & feed him dinner & generally be amazing. When the neighbor kids wanted to "help" so also entertained them! I am so grateful! She even sent us this photo of their dog walking adventure!! Honestly, how would I get through life without the people on our block?!?

Later this week I was booking one of our fabulous neighbor girls to babysit Lulu so I could have a bit of time to prepare for Chris' parents' arrival for their first visit to Evanston. In the context of the text conversation (which includes the neighbor girl's mom to cross check schedules, etc) my neighbor Phuong offered to nap sit Lulu so I could get a couple things done. This is a buy mom of 5 of her own kiddos - but found the space to offer to lend me a hand. It was so helpful to knock out a bunch of niggling errands both without Lulu & before my in laws arrived.

Great neighbors are a Godsend. Honestly. I paid them back in baked goods (duh) but I don't know if that was enough. I hope so. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by such generous people.

3. Anne is FOUR

Our niece Anne turned 4 this week! We celebrated her over the weekend at the Lake & Lulu & I popped in to see her on her actual birthday this week. I love this little lady & the big girl she is quickly turning into.

4. Moroccan Chicken Recipe
Found a delicious slow cooker recipe on the world wide webs this week, made it & it was really good! I should've added a cup or 1.5 cups of chicken stock to the slow cooker - there was not enough sauciness for my liking. We served it over quinoa with naan (the delicious frozen garlic naan from Trader Joe's. If you've never had it - please do yourself a favor & it. You won't be sad that you did!!) I wish it had more sauce for dipping said delicious naan into....

Changes I made to the recipe are as follows:
~Subbed in chopped apricots & prunes for the raisins in recipe
~Subbed capers for the olives. Both just preferences but I would recommend both swaps :) 
~Ignored the recipe spice mix in favor of this jarred mix I have in my spice drawer
~Also - my chicken was done in 3 hours........probably before 3 - mine might have been overcooked at 3 hours. So if your slow cooker is on the larger size.......check your food after 2 hours of cooking on low!!
~Didn't do it,  but will do it next time - add 1-1.5 cups chicken broth to the cooker to amp up the sauce factor

Happy Friday to you & yours! I hope you try the chicken recipe - its incredibly delicious. Happy cooking & happy weekend & happy September!!