Bonjour, Farewell….

Parenthood (for me) has been a lot of little moments that add up to the smacking realization that life has changed. A few years ago we spent a lot of time contemplating our New Year’s Eve plans (my favorites always being a smaller dinner party with good friends) and this year we both kind of shrugged off the idea of doing anything. The biggest reason being the competitive blood sport known as “Acquiring a New Year’s Eve Babysitter” which if you are unfamiliar with, please count yourself lucky. Even if you manage to finagle the perfect person to come watch your special snowflake you will then use their college savings to pay for the honor….and yeah. No. Too many years of spending over an hour getting a cab, traversing on the train with all the other too-sweet-sparking-wine-imbibing-drunks…. nope.

This year we will miss seeing our friends (having the small party but see babysitter situation above) but we have grand plans of grilling steak, drinking a nice bottle of something, and seeing out the year much in the way we lived it- as a little family, full of quirks and good memories and casual moments. We often eat dinner in our pjs (with cloth napkins though, and real plates, some habits never die) and retire to the living room to watch television or read together, and if I had to guess, I’d say our New Year’s Eve will contain many of those elements.

I know that in just a few years we will be back on the NYE circuit so for now I’m happy to be where we are in life. I’m looking forward to the fresh new year, full of possibility and milestones. As far as my resolutions….here we go:

  1. I want to eat better at home, namely by eating more plants and less sugar
  2. I resolve to take the Friday and Monday surrounding Easter off…I never do, and I always regret it as we get back into town late Sunday night
  3. I want to put down the electronics more often, particularly in the evenings
  4. I want to cook more, which is something I’m really passionate about and enjoy
  5. I want to find time for a few more date nights with my husband
  6. I want to get my camera out more, both behind it and in front of it

Nothing too earth shattering, a little of the same old same old. 2014 was a pretty good year and I’m hopeful hat 2015 has more good things on the horizon. But before we say adios, a quick look back at 2014…….

As far as the blog goes, my top read posts were as follows:

As for the year in photos, here goes.

We celebrated Gracie’s first birthday with a Winter Onederland party…..

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We celebrated Easter in Michigan….

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We enjoyed Chicago…..

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We spent a week in Harbor Springs, Michigan, which is a little slice of heaven on earth….

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Gracie dressed up as an owl for Halloween….

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Gracie had an accident in November, resulting in her first ER trip and lots of follow up visits (so far = all good/all clear/whew)….

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We had family photos taken….

 

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We struck out meeting Santa….

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And we had a wonderful Christmas in Utah….

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Not pictured….countless dinners with friends, visits from Grandparents, date nights, numerous trips to the park and the zoo, grilling out, sailing, outdoor festivals, so much snow, a Polar Vortex or five, sugar cookie decorating, Frozen viewing, book reading and dog wrestling.

Cheers to a good year!

 

Holiday in Review

So, backing up a few days on the calendar, Gracie and I flew out to Utah the Friday before Christmas, affording us a luxurious 7 days and some hours at my parents house. I haven’t spent that much time at home since my first Christmas break in law school (or perhaps college?) and it was nice to actually be able to spend time doing the “little” things rather than trying to cram a few big things into 3 days before turning back around. B joined us a few days later (billable hours are the devil’s work) which gave me ample to opportunity to tell him just how tough it was flying with Gracie on my own.Christmas3

Please note: don’t get on airplanes at bedtime with toddlers. Also, airplanes don’t serve milk, LESSON LEARNED. Double also, my Dad was on the plane but in the cockpit in the extra seat up there, so it was this cruel “help is so close…yet so far” conundrum. Oh well, we made it, as did our luggage, and that is what matters, amirite? My Mom, brother, and I spent a few days just the four of us (nephew hadn’t arrived/Dad was flying/B was in Chicago) and we filled it with things like sushi dinner (Gracie = not a fan), Target trips (eh, whatever, they sell diapers and sometimes you need diapers), a trip to historic 25th Street in Ogden (I bought a vintage hankie embroidered with a map of Chicago), another trip downtown to check out the new Citycreek area, and much checking of the weather report to see if snow was on its way (hint: it was). Gracie spent a LOT of time playing my nephew’s play kitchen, so much so I think she needs one in the upcoming year.

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B flew into town on the 23rd, and we promptly made our way to In-N-Out for double doubles and fries (Gracie had a milkshake = big fan) before heading home to begin the task of sorting through the 25 (give/take) boxes that we had shipped to my parents with various gifts for various people. This led to an eventual tale of demise, when a box of special Frango dark chocolate (from B to me) was put under the tree and then eaten in the middle of the night by my parent’s lovable oaf of a dog, Atticus. The chocolate did not survive, the dog did, but I’m told there were some frantic early morning calculations of the dog’s weight, the size of the chocolate box, etc. I missed all of this, taking the morning of the 24th to get some sleep as Gracie did not get the memo on the time change and was getting me up at 6 am every day before B arrived.

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On the evening of the 24th we did what we do best, and made pizza, our long term family Christmas Eve meal. My parents got fancy and grilled the pizza (delicious) and we had friends over to partake in the DIY pizza bar. Gracie ate her weight in cookies and we just shrugged…Christmas Eve only comes once a year. My brother and I (and by extension, my nephew and Gracie) did our annual Christmas Eve gift exchange. My parents always had us exchange our gifts the night before, but only if we could remember what the person got us the year prior. It was a nice way to ensure that we always remembered what our sibling had picked out especially for us. It was at this point that my brother gave Gracie my old doll high chair, which he had taken apart, refinished, repaired, and painted the same color as her high chair, and we needn’t have bothered with a single gift after that. Gracie fed her baby approximately 1000 times that night, in every spot she could put the high chair down, serving “soup” and “milk” and “cookies” and she was over the moon with excitement. The highchair is currently en route to Chicago and when it arrives, it will be like a second Christmas.

By the time Christmas morning came, through some sort of miracle, all of the adults woke up before the kids, allowing time for coffee making and breakfast starting. We also woke up to a winter wonderland, as it had snowed about 4 inches over night. In Gracie’s words, “POZEN!”

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Eventually the two wee ones woke up and all madness ensued. Gracie wanted to tear the paper off of gifts like a maniac, but then wanted to stop and play with each toy she opened. My nephew, overcome with excitement, would have opened all his gifts in five minutes flat if given the opportunity (but was happy to help Gracie get through her pile). Although I try to skip listing off gifts received (which often comes across like a braggy brand dropping snooze-fest) there were a few highlights under tree. My Dad got both of the kids leather soccer balls made out of up-cycled Southwest Airlines plane seats and B bought me the mandoline (food slicer not instrument) I’ve been asking for for….years. (I promptly ordered a special glove to wear when using it to prevent me from chopping off my fingers) He also surprised me with a new camera lens (24 mm), which was very unexpected and loved. Gracie particularly loved her stuffed Olaf and her B brand water drawing board, and Santa brought my nephew a kid’s guitar and many boxes of Legos. There were large stacks of books for everyone and it was all in all, very magical. (Amazon links are affiliate, I recommend buying B brand at Target for the best price, or you know, wherever you prefer to do your shopping)

Friday was our last day in Utah (we flew out pretty early Saturday morning) and the original plan was for my Dad and I to hit the slopes. Between him not feeling 100% and the crazy zoo that was the resort, the plan was scrapped, and instead B and I took Gracie snowshoeing before meeting my family for lunch at the resort.

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We didn’t anticipate how long it would take us to park and get the start of the trail head, so we didn’t get to go nearly as far as we wanted, but we still had a great time before battling the crowds for lunch. Gracie demolished a bowl of vegetable soup, hung out with the bronze moose at the base of the mountain (seriously, giving it hugs and yelling with glee) and touched some snow before we headed back to my parents to get ready for their not-quite-annual December 26th chili party. It was a great way to end the trip, seeing family friends and enjoying chili and fixings with everyone. Gracie ate another one million cookies before we put her down and tackled the task of trying to pack up everything we had accumulated over the holiday. We went home with 2 more suitcases than we came with, and there is still more being shipped….oh well. The flight home was uneventful (Gracie was on her best behavior on this go around) and we were back in our house by 1:30 in the afternoon. It was a wonderful holiday and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to spend Christmas with my family in the mountains.

Canon Camera Shopping at Best Buy {Sponsored}

sponsored content ahoy! 

It is no secret I’ve been a huge fan of my Canon camera, which I bought a few years ago. Naturally I’m so intrigued by the latest model of my camera (a Canon EOS Rebel T3i), which is the Canon EOS Rebel T5i. I’ve slowly added lenses to my collection and I know they would all be amazing when attached to the latest camera body.

 

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Good news for camera shoppers: you can now save $150 on the Canon EOS Rebel T5i at Best Buy. Visit Best Buy to learn more. Unlike online shopping at Best Buy you’ll have the opportunity to manipulate the camera yourself, to take lenses on and off and see how it fits in your hands. (Hint: it would fit quite well in mine!)

The latest version features a continuous autofocus (awesome) and full HD for video. It has a a DIGIC 5 image processor = amazing!

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free. Daisy disclaimer: just a gift card yo. Not that I would love a camera, SANTA. 

Merrily Merrily

I was not kidding last week when I said I had to fit many moments of yuletide cheer into one weekend in Chicago, and we did our very best to get it all done. On Saturday morning we woke up and rather than being lazy (Saturday swim lessons are over) we got ready and met some friends down at the Chicago Christkindle Market. If you are ever in Chicago while this market is open, I highly recommend it. It is 100% just like the markets in Germany I grew up going to, complete with small wooden toys and delicious food and mulled wine and hot chocolate. The only downside is on the weekend it is packed and we have already made the executive decision to reutilize our 2013 plan of taking a Friday off of work and spending it downtown going to the market and looking at the Macy’s windows, because, nope. We met our friends at 10:45, fifteen minutes before the market opened, and we waited in line for 45 minutes to see Santa.

Santa was a great idea in theory but in practice, Gracie was not a fan.

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Girlfriend ran for the hills. Oh well, there is always next year. When we asked Gracie about Santa after the fact she said she “yiked” Santa but that Santa is “scawy.” After the great Santa bust (times two, neither kid wanted to sit in the old man’s lap) we decided we were gluttons for punishment and we ditched the market crowds and instead walked to the newly opened Shake Shack where we…stood in line….again….for food. And then for a table. We ultimately prevailed, burgers for all (very tasty but not fighting crowds for it again, I’ll wait until the buzz dies down) and then we took the bus home so Gracie could nap. There was little rest for the weary though and as soon as she woke up we had a wardrobe change and went to our friend’s Christmas party, complete with another visit from Santa. Gracie warmed up to him a little bit, before he left for the North Pole she bravely ran up and touched his knee before hightailing it back to the cheese and crackers. On Monday her daycare teachers asked us if we went to a party, and when we said yes they informed us Gracie told them she had gone to a “pawty” and it had “Santa, cheese, and crackers.” Excellent summary, no?

Sunday morning I made a whole bunch of cookie dough to chill in the fridge and did boring things like grocery shopping and laundry, the things no one tells you about when you dream of adulthood. We then had a sitter come over and while Gracie colored and napped B and I went to the movie theatre for a special showing of my favorite Christmas movie, White Christmas. It was a lovely afternoon of Bing and Rosemary and totally put me in the Christmas spirit. Kudos to my husband for both finding the event and buying tickets to take me.

All in all it was a very merry weekend and now we are back to the salt mines. I did get an unusual break in my week by attending the Monday Night Football game last night (thanks to the Namby family for tickets), where my beloved Saints whooped on my not-beloved Bears. The weather was in the 40s and raining so my attire was less than runway worthy, but I stayed warm and dry:

 

A photo posted by D (@d.chicago) on

I layered warm socks, Sorels, Wunderunders, a tank top, a wool sweater, a cashmere scarf, my Barbour (made for damp, wet days but I found myself wishing I’d picked up the optional hood for it over the summer), my Saints hat, gloves, a Ziplock bag for my phone, and an extra layer of water proof foul weather gear sailing pants in case of emergency. I didn’t put the extra pants on until the 3rd quarter so I’d say I did ok. Who Dat!

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