Recent Happenings

I don’t have a formal post but thought I’d check in! We moved last weekend so it’s been all consuming. We went from 1400 square feet to 2400 square feet so we have much more space and need to fill a few empty rooms. Unpacking with a 10 month old is challenging but I’ve been keeping him entertained with random boxes and Tupperware, and doing most of the unpacking during his naps. 

We renovated our new house so I plan on doing a full post of before and after pics and survival tips for anyone doing a renovation. 

We are currently just unpacking and putting together our new furniture. It’s fun but also I just want it all done! 

Setting up furniture requires wine! Haha


Ive been enjoying homemade cookies a little too much lately. They are just so delicious straight out of the oven. 

My brother’s best friend got married and I got to be my mom’s plus one. It was so fun and I just love weddings! The whole night was just beautiful! 


Jim made a yummy dinner of pasta with meatballs and we had a delicious bottle of wine from Kamen wines in Sonoma. It was a nice way to end the weekend. I got to take home a centerpiece from the wedding and I’m obsessed with it! I aspire to be able to create flower arrangements like this! 

Finally, we got our first real tree this year. It was really fun to pick it out and it smells amazing! 


I hope you had a great weekend! 

Thankful

I am thankful for so many things! This year has been such a whirlwind and I am so happy with the place I am in life right now.

Here are a few things I am thankful for. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

 

Family

I am pretty sure I have the best family ever! I am super close with my family, and feel so lucky that I get to see many of them all of the time. Both my family and Jim’s family are so supportive and awesome. My mom is my best friend, and I feel so lucky that I can say that. We have been living with her for the past four months while we wait for our new house to be renovated, and it has been so fun seeing my mom everyday.

 

Jim

Although Jim is my family, he gets his own category. :) I feel like we have successfully navigated so many life changes this year-having a baby, selling a house, buying a new house, selling a car, buying new car, and moving. We are always on the same page with major life decisions, and the whole renovation process, while stressful, wasn’t stressful for us a couple, which I feel really happy about. We managed to almost get through our first year of parenthood together, and I think we make a pretty good team. I am also beyond thankful that Jim has an awesome job that allows me to stay at home with our baby. It is so rare nowadays to be able to stay home, and I cherish every minute of it.


Connor

I try to keep Connor private on the blog, but I can’t help but write about him today, as I am beyond thankful for him. He is the light of my life, and I love him beyond what I ever thought imaginable. I truly never knew that I could love someone so much. He is such a happy baby, and our days are so fun together. I am so grateful that he is healthy and happy and that I have him as my son.
Health

On that note, I am so thankful that my family is all healthy, and that my body successfully produced another human! Having a baby and a hard delivery was no walk in the park, but I am fine now!


Ok now on to the less mushy stuff!

Coffee

While Connor is a great baby, he is a pretty horrible sleeper! He still wakes up a ton, and I am planning on doing some type of sleep training soon. In the meantime, coffee is my savior. I literally look forward everyday to the time in the morning when I can start drinking coffee!


Dessert

I have always been a sweets lover, but once I got pregnant that intensified. I thought after I had a baby I would stop eating a dessert everyday, but that is not the case. I still eat dessert everyday and have no plans to stop. Eating a small sweet treat does not mean that I have gained weight or feel out of control in any way. I watch my portions and believe in moderation!

 

Suburb Life

I lived in the city for 15 years and just moved to the suburbs this past summer. Our town is particularly special in that it has a cute downtown that we can walk to, so I still get the city feel of being able to walk to the grocery store, to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. But now I don’t have the congestion, traffic and noise. Our town is also surrounded by beautiful woods and farms, and I am loving the quiet life of living in a small town. And the best part is we can hop on the train or in the car and be in the city within an hour.

 

 

Easy Dinner- Pasta with Meat Sauce

Now that I am a stay at home mom, I realize I need to be more “domestic”. I have always loved decorating my home and have never minded cleaning. I also love baking. However, I am not a huge fan of cooking. Jim typically did all the cooking for us. But now we have a crazy 9 month old, and by the time Jim gets home and makes dinner, it is Connor’s bedtime. I realized that something needs to change. I am making a concerted effort to get better at making healthy, semi-fast week night meals. I thought it would be fun to document them on the blog in case anyone else needs ideas for weeknight dinners, and to note any epic fails, which I am sure will occur! 

 

Last night was my first night of doing this, so it’s still a work in progress! I stuck with a simple dinner of salad, garlic bread, and pasta with meat sauce.  Super easy!

Salad

This was a spinach salad with red onion and candied pecans. I also made a yummy vinaigrette.  I just threw in some olive oil, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and sugar. It really made the salad.


 

Pasta with Meat Sauce

I browned up some ground beef with garlic and olive oil. Then I just combined it with a store-bought sauce and whole wheat spaghetti.

 

Garlic Bread

This is a total no brainer! We had bought two loaves of French bread on the weekend, so I just put some butter and garlic and popped them in the oven while everything else cooked.

 

Overall

This meal was easy and fool-proof. I always make sure to try to do the dishes as I go so that there isn’t a huge clean up after dinner. There were a few pots and pans to wash but that’s to be expected. This meal is pretty healthy, and of course the garlic bread could be eliminated, and ground turkey could be swapped for the ground beef.

 

 

 

 

 

Another Wedding in the Books

My brother Paul got married this past weekend! That means 3 out of 4 of us are married. It’s crazy how fast time flies! Their wedding was in Cleveland at the Wyndham in the theater district. Cleveland is a really cute small city and it was fun to explore. They are rebuilding after losing a lot of their population after a lot of their industry left and there are lots of cool restaurants and bars to try out. Anyways, some highlights are below! 

Road tripping! 


My brother Peter  and his wife Felicia  live in Copenhagen and came in for the wedding. We decided to drive. I was a little worried about smooshing 4 adults and a baby into a small suv but it worked out great. It was really fun to hang with them and they were the best entertainment committee for Connor! 

Heinens Grocery Store


We stayed right down the street from Heinen’s.  This store is awesome! We have one near where we live but this one is extra special. It is located in an old restored bank building and it’s gorgeous. Also they have a really fun wine tasting you can do. You purchase a card for whatever amount you want and go to the wine tasting area. You insert the card and serve yourself wine. They had tons of different types of wines to taste and it was a fun way to taste different wines from around the world. Sometimes it’s nice to not have to learn a lot about the wines and just taste them :)

The Wedding 

It goes without saying that the wedding was the highlight of the trip! The wedding was simple and beautiful. Jim and I were both in the wedding. Madeline just said she wanted us to wear black dresses, and the guys wore back suits. Easy peasy! Everything turned out so great! It was really fun to enjoy the wedding and see lots of my cousins. I definitely cried through their vows.


Indians Game

We rounded out the weekend with a trip to the baseball field. We saw the Indians play the Tigers. I love baseball and the stadium was a 5 minute walks from our hotel! 

Winter Happiness

I usually make big resolutions at New Years and then forget about them. I thought it would be a good idea to check in with myself about how my goals are going. Winter and early spring are the perfect time to slow down and reflect a little. The hubbub of the holidays is long gone. Quiet nights in, home cooked meals, and not much else going on creates a peaceful time to relax. 

I had talked in my New Years post about how I want to not take things so personally and let other people’s opinions bother me. It is absolutely impossible to please everyone in my life, and that’s just something I have to come to terms with, unless we completely give up all of our personal lives to making plans with people constantly every weekend. That’s not feasible or healthy for my little family and myself.  I have been working hard on doing what is the best for Jim, baby and me as our number one priority. If people are mad or offended then so be it! I am trying to not let it bother me.  This isn’t something that will change overnight, and it may never change.  I am trying to be stronger and stand up for myself, and do the things that work for me and my family.

My other goal was to not let work get to me.  Of course, now that I’m on leave this is an easy goal. But once I go back, it will be very important to work on this, since I will be balancing everything. To an outsider, teaching first grade seems like a piece of cake.  You get to go hang out with 6 and 7 year olds and just play all day, right?! However, as fun as it is to be around kids all day, it is also an incredibly challenging job.  The being with the kids part is why I am a teacher.  I love spending my days with these little sponges who are ready to learn and work hard all day.  The amount they learn in one year is astounding, and so rewarding.  There are other parts of the job that aren’t so fun.  Demanding parents, difficult administration, and much more, lead to teacher burnout and frustration.  My one biggest change that has helped me a lot on a daily basis was deleting my work email from my phone.  I used to check it at all hours of the day, and get really stressed out.  Now I only check it when I am physically at work, and it has done wonders for my evenings at home with Jim.  I’m not distracted and worked up and responding in the heat of the moment.  I am more present and calm.  I deal with work at work.  And when I’m home, I’m home.  Of course, I still have work to do at home like grading papers and planning, but the emails were always the stressful part.  I highly suggest this to anyone who struggles with work-life balance.  It was hard the first few days.  I kept automatically checking my phone, and was itching to just put it back on my phone and see what was coming in.  I resisted, though, and within the first few nights, I realized how nice it was to just put it all away for the evening.  There is nothing that earth shattering that needed to be attended to that instant.  It is always all there waiting for the morning.

My third goal was to go to church more.  So far that goal has gone well.  My mom and I signed up to be parishioners at a wonderful church, and I signed Jim and I up for baptismal classes for our baby.  I have also been trying to make it a habit to pray/meditate or whatever people prefer to call it each day.  Usually this comes in the form of savasana at the end of yoga.  I use my savasana time to check in with myself.  I am not an expert at meditation, and when I don’t focus on something during savasana, I start my running to-do list in my mind of what I need to do that day.  Giving myself a goal of what to think about during savasana has helped me a lot.

I challenge you to think about what is making you happy, and what isn’t.  What can you change to bring upon happiness?  It might be a small thing, like doing a little yoga each day, or a larger thing, like re-evaluating your work-life balance. Whatever it is, this is a perfect time of year to slow down and reflect and think. You never know what might happen if you do!

   

Thanksgiving Weekend

I had a wonderful 5 day weekend and feel like I haven’t been at work in weeks! I didnt take many pictures this weekend, and decided to just enjoy the family time instead.  

 
Our weekend started on Wednesday. We noticed the refrigerator didn’t feel very warm and it turns out it was 57 degrees. We called a repair man and it would have cost $300 to fix it. Our fridge is 16 years old so we decided to bite the bullet and buy a new one. We spent a long long time in Home Depot deciding. I’m excited to have a new one on Tuesday! 

Thanksgiving was a fun and busy day! We hosted Jim’s family and then went to my aunt’s house after that. We were able to get our old fridge to come back to life so thankfully were still able to cook. It was really fun hanging out with our new niece!  

   
Friday morning I met my mom bright and early for some Black Friday shopping! We have been doing it for a long time, and we just go to Carson’s. It is always fun to kick off the Christmas shopping season! 

Then we went to New Buffalo for the weekend with my mom and brother! We rented a really cute house, and did lots of eating and relaxing. It was just what I needed. I found our house on Home away  and we were really happy with it! I loved the beach house theme and the rustic touches. 

Kitchen and eating area 

    
Jim’s pride and joy- Bourbon County Stout… Only one of the many he got!

  Kitchen 

Living area  
 
Living area 

  
Second bedroom

  Master bedroom  
    
   
Sunday afternoon we decorated for Chrismas! I am so excited that the holiday season is here!  

 

Thankful

I have so much to be thankful for this year! Here are just a few reasons I feel blessed to have the life that I do. 

Jim

Obviously this guy is my number one reason I’m thankful! He is my partner and my friend. We have so many fun times together. He has been my rock during some really hard times and I am forever greatful for this. I can’t wait to become a family of three with him in two months and navigate parenting together!  

 
Family

Words can’t even express how thankful I am for my family. Both of our families are wonderful and I feel so lucky that we live so close to both families and are able to spend holidays with everyone.  My mom and little brother are two of my best friends and I would be absolutely lost without them. 

 
Friends 

Most of my friends I met in college and we’ve remained close ever since. Even though we don’t see each other as often as we would like, we pick right back up where we left off every time.  

 
My job 

My teaching job is challenging every day, and it can sometimes be quite stressful. I enjoy the challenge and like being kept on my toes. I have an amazing class this year and am so thankful to be in a good school in the city! 

Yoga and running 

Although I’m on a hiatus from running, I still love it. Yoga has been my go-to workout during pregnancy. The combo of running and yoga keeps me healthy and does wonders for my stress levels. If I didn’t work out I would be a crabby, stressed out lady!  

 Healthy pregnancy 

I am thankful to be healthy! It is amazing what your body can do- carry a baby and teach 6 and 7 year olds all day! I am happy that I have had a relatively easy pregnancy and still feel pretty good at 31 weeks preggo!  I am beyond thankful I am pregnant! I expected it to be a long journey to getting pregnant and was shocked by how lucky I was that I happened easily. 

 
Coffee, tea, and dessert

It sounds silly but these things have been my favorites during pregnancy. Many evenings we would have a glass of wine to end the day, but now I have a sweet treat and some decaf tea.  I have eaten a dessert every day of pregnancy. While this sounds crazy, I think it’s all about balance. Sometimes that dessert is a small piece of dark chocolate, and sometimes it is a more decadent dessert. Even a tiny treat makes the day feel happy to me!   

 
This blog

I am so glad I started this blog! It has been so fun to get some words out. I hope to increase my posting in the future. I am thankful for my readers who faithfully read all of my posts!! 
I hope everyone has a great holiday week and takes a few minutes to be thankful this week! 

 

Celebrating My Birthday

Last week I turned 33! Yikes!  That sounds old.  But I am happy with where I am in my life, and definitely have an exciting year coming up!  . This year has had ups and downs, like all years, but all in all it was a pretty good one! Instead of waiting until New Years to make resolutions, I figured I would start now. After reflecting on the past year, I have a few goals in mind for 33.  I want to try to stop worrying so much about what others think of me.  I will never be able to make everyone in my life happy.  I try my best to be a good, loving person, and that is all I can do.  I also want to try to let go of my Type A tendencies as much as possible.  I will basically never finish my to-do list, will never have a completely clean and neat home, and that’s okay.  I want to enjoy my life and not be so hung up on perfection in general.  Hopefully I can accomplish some of these goals!

My birthday was a good one this year!  It was a school day, and my kids knew it was my birthday, so they were really funny about it.  They were also extra wild, which made it a little more challenging.  :)  My mom came down and we went to dinner with Jim. We went to Due Lire.  We had calamari, and I had short rib ravioli.  Both were excellent!  I decided to leave my camera in my purse and just enjoy the dinner.  After that, we had apple pie that Jim bought.  He also got me beautiful flowers and a Tory Burch Fit Bit bracelet!  I love it!  I love wearing my Fit Bit but hated the ugly gray holder, so this is perfect.  It feels more like a piece of jewelry than a fitness tracker now. 

 Friday night we went to Paris Club for a nice French dinner.  We had escargot as an appetizer.  I ordered steak frites and Jim had duck.  He finished his meal with a bourbon drink that looked amazing! The service and food were excellent.  Our reservation was at 6:30 and we were heading home when most people are just heading out.  Pregnant life!  

    
  

    
   
I was showered with treats and flowers galore from my family! All in all it was a great birthday and I felt very loved!

   
    
   

Weekend Highlights

This weekend couldn’t have been any busier, but it was a fun one! Friday we babysat my cousin’s baby and it was fun to hang out with him and get some practice. After he went to bed we watched The Leftovers. It is such a creepy show!! 

Bright and early Saturday morning we headed out to the burbs to go to the pumpkin farm with Jim’s family.  

   
After we got home we got ready to go to my friend’s wedding at Navy Pier. It was a beautiful venue and so fun to see all of my friends. We have had so many weekends together it will be sad to get back to normal after this!  

    
    
    
 
   
 
Sunday we went to my aunt and uncle’s house to get some furniture they got for our nursery! So excited to set it all up! We ended the weekend with a delicious dinner of lobster tail, mussels, and asparagus. And for dessert we had some delicious coffee cake my aunt made! All in all it was a great weekend!  

    
 

Weekend Highlights

This long weekend was a good one! Friday we went to dinner with my mom to celebrate her birthday. I forgot to take pictures.

Saturday we relaxed and researched strollers. There are so many options! We have narrowed it down to two- City Mini by Baby Jogger and Bravo Trio System.  We are going to make our final decision soon!

Later in the day, we headed to the suburbs for my friend’s wedding rehearsal!  We stayed at a Sheraton and it was a nice hotel for a wedding. Sheratons always have nice rooms and amenities for a fair price. I love weddings at hotels because it is so great to just go upstairs to your hotel room at the end of the night!  Sheraton  

We had the rehearsal and dinner and again I forgot to take pictures!

Sunday was the big day!  We started getting our hair and makeup done and it was so fun hanging out with some of my best friends in the world.  As with every wedding, the getting ready process flies by, and soon it’s time to get dressed and go!   

  

  

  

    
 The wedding ceremony was at Cantigny Park a beautiful outdoor site. There are gardens everywhere, and beautiful fall colors in the trees and flowers. We got so lucky with the weather, and it was 77 degrees out. October in Chicago can be freezing, so we were pumped that the weather gods were so kind to us! The ceremony was beautiful.  

  
  It was a Muslim ceremony, and I have never experienced one before.  It reminded me very much of many wedding ceremonies, and the bride and groom’s vows were perfectly “them”.  Soon we returned to the hotel for the ceremony.  We were led around by a Middle Eastern band to kick off the night.  The reception was so fun, and it was great to see so many of our college friends that we haven’t seen in a while. I especially liked the photo booth, and the ice cream bar.  All in all it was a great day!  I only made it until 11 that night, but tried my best to hang with everyone for as long as I could :) 

    
  

    
    
  
Monday was Columbus Day, so it was a day off!  We headed back to the city, but before we got on the road we stopped for breakfast.  Multigrain pancakes and bacon.  So good!   

 Later in the day we walked to Wrigleyville to experience the excitement. The Cubs haven’t been in the playoffs since 2003, so everyone is very exciting! It was fun to walk through a small part of the craziness.  I would love love love to go to a game, but alas, we don’t have an extra $1000 to spend on a few tickets.  We are really hopeful that the Cubs can keep going! 

  

  

   Monday night Jim made lamb on the grill with asparagus.  It was incredible!  So tender and juicy.  Definitely a nice way to end the long weekend!