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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!

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