Going to the Chapel…(Hill)

Last Friday instead of working all day and collapsing in an exhausted puddle with take out and a movie at 7:15 pm, B and I met at the aiport (he had to do a little working) and headed to North Carolina to watch a close friend from law school get married. It was the longest I’ve ever been away from Gracie girl, but she had a blast back in Chicago with her grandparents who were thrilled to spend a weekend reading books and taking walks. B and I were thrilled she was happy and we could take walks in warm weather without winter coats.

This is where I’d show you obligatory Chapel Hill photos but I took all of my photos with my husband in them, and since he is averse to internet-images, you’ll just have to use your imaginations: two very pale people in flip flops, overly happy about the warm sunshine, green grass and blossoms on trees.

We enjoyed some great food and beer in Chapel Hill before we headed out to the country for the wedding festivities. Weddings are almost always a good time, but this one was exceptional. It really highlighted the bride and groom, many of our friends were also in attendance and the food and drink were something to write home about. Dinner was pulled pork that was smoked all day on site- divine. After dancing way too much we got ourselves back to Chapel Hill to catch the end of the Wisconsin-Kentucky game and pour ourselves into bed to catch our 7 am flight home to Chicago on Sunday morning.

Despite the early wake up the 7 am flight had two advantages. First, we ran into my Dad at Midway airport when we landed, which is always nice (perk of a pilot Dad, you just never know when he might turn up) and got home with enough time to feed the munchkin lunch and take her to the zoo after her nap. Mama and Dad were exhausted but we missed her and knew she’d enjoy the relatively mild weather Chicago was seeing.


This was our first trip out and about where Gracie insisted on walking along with us…stopping to examine sticks and rocks, but seeming like such a big girl as she stumbled around. She wasn’t too into the birds, enjoyed the giraffes, and waved to the fish. The best part was when we were leaving and walked past the lion exhibit- the male and female lion began roaring at each other, nonstop. The entire crowd was entranced, and Gracie began to roar along with them. That moment in and of itself was worth the trip.

Zoo2After dinner we decided to press our luck and take Gracie out for pizza (the thought of cooking was beyond overwhelming). In a move no one saw coming she was a total joy through the entire meal- happily dancing in her high chair to the background music, eating some pizza, waving to other patrons and talking happily in an indoor voice. I think I told her I was proud of her ten times. We made it home in time for a bath and pjs and some extra kisses on that downy head that I missed so much.

B and I were in bed by 9:15 and I forsee another early night in our future. Dont worry though, every weekend in April has major plans or travel involved, so we won’t slow down anytime soon.

Avoiding the Excess (Easter Basket 2014)

There has been much ado on social media lately about Pinterest Moms. It seems you have to pick a side: the over the top Mom that decorates for every holiday on the calendar, complete with magical gift giving myths, surprise breakfasts and much “stuff” or you have to hate the “Pinterest Mom” and all she stands for, insisting that no one in life is throwing daily parties and making everything beautiful and kids need to get used to that now.

I…fall somewhere in the middle. I absolutely believe I go over the top in some ways…and in others I cannot be bothered. I don’t care if you pose your Elf on a Shelf in elaborate scenes every night, dye your toilet water green for St. Patrick’s Day or spend weeks making beautiful teacher gifts and Valentine’s for your child to hand out. I might end up doing some of these things. I might not. My Mom was definitely into making things special as a kid, and I don’t think I “expect” more as an adult. I will stress that my Mom’s brand of special veered away from material things and was more in “memory” of it all (heart shaped pancakes on Valentine’s Day, green milk for St. Patrick’s Day) but at the same time: I’d say I’m a pretty normal adult. I do think the current generation is really into celebrating every holiday under the sun, which I blame in part on disposable income, Hallmark, and other consumer goods companies. Why buy regular paper towels if you can get ones with Easter eggs on them?!

But one place I am trying to stand firm for as long as I can is material excess when it comes to toys for Gracie. She can have as many books and puzzles as she pleases, but no child needs shelves upon shelves of toys. She probably already has more than she needs- and I only forsee it getting worse as she gets older. For Christmas B and I worked hard at maintaining a tree that could be conqured and wasn’t filled with every toddler toy known to mankind. For Easter I’m keeping it simple- Gracie isn’t old enough for candy, and I don’t think she’d really “get” plastic Easter eggs right now- next year for sure she can hunt them. This year her basket has a toy, some books, and one practical (affiliate links, heads up):

1. One BuckleyBoo Monkey. Girlfriend loves buckles so I’m hoping this toy is a big hit.

2. Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton. B picked this up for Gracie when he discovered a Boynton book she didn’t already have.

3. Have You Seen My Cat? by Eric Carle. Gracie is super into her Eric Carle slide book “Brown Bear” and Mama is a wee bit tired of reading it. I’m hopeful this is a good addition for the rotation.

4. A summer sleep sack by Aden & Anais. In the winter we are partial to the thick Halo versions (sherpa, the cable knit or fleece ones) but for summer we need something light and airy.

To me this is a perfect Easter basket: one toy, two books, one practical. I know her Gigi and her Grandma have picked up a few things for her as well (books and summer outfits) which frankly, is more than enough. In the future she’ll get a little candy and a chocolate bunny, but I hope to make holidays fun without the focus on the gifts. Our Easter Sunday is typically filled with church and a big family party where Gracie will get to participate in an egg hunt and hang out with extended family- cousins, aunts and uncles she doesn’t normally see.

Book Club- Come Chat & Vote

Time to hop on over to discuss The Goldfinch and vote on our next round of books! Unfortunately the poll only lets you vote once, I’m trying to see if there is a better way to select multiple books at once! Maybe a bracket tournament….



Select Our Next 6 Books! The six books with the most votes will be selected for our next 6 months- we will read them in reverse order of publication, in order to give people borrowing from the library plenty of time to avoid the rush on popular new releases!


Five on Friday: Mama’s Girl

Lets do this again…five on Friday, shall we?


One & Two: comparison photos of Gracie and I around the age of 1. First me:



General observations: I had more hair (not by much), fewer teeth (by a lot) and much bigger feet.

For comparison, some Gracie pictures:





Three: There are rumors of spring like weather on the horizon. I will believe it when I see it, but if it happens over the weekend, you will find us at the park, zoo, anywhere outside without four layers, scarves and heavy coats.

Four: April is a crazy month for us with a lot of travel and visitors. I’m exhausted thinking about it but I’m having fun working on Gracie’s Easter basket (Easter being one of the weekends that is busy-busy). One toy and a some books are on the list- nothing huge. I have a lot of fun scouring through all the kids books for titles she is sure to love. She is really into books that ask questions (answered with no, of course), books with flaps or tactile pages. I need some new books to break up the monotony of Is Your Mama a Llama, Dear Zoo, Are You a Cow, Brown Bear Brown Bear, and That’s Not My____.

Five: Some new recipes have made it into our rotation. Short rib cobbler was a total hit, even Gracie enjoyed some of the veggies in it. Now that spring is on the horizon I broke out our favorite Smitten Kitchen peas and alfredo pasta recipe (in her cookbook) and yup, still as good as I remember. Coming soon: asparagus salad, another spring favorite.

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