a little and a lot

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

That Time We Went to Chicago

This whole end-of-spring, beginning-of-summer has been quite the whirlwind this year. Parts of it have been traumatic and parts of it have been gloriously fun & exciting. Let's stick to the fun & exciting for now, shall we?

{I have no idea where she picked up this phrase, but Rhet loves to make a proposal ending with "shall we?" It is the cutest thing ever. "Mom, let's go to the swings next, shall we?"}

Nick traveled to Chicago in June for work, and I was over the moon about tagging along (while my mom stayed with Rhet and our dog-child). I love to travel, and I actually relish spending time alone. I don't know if that's a newish "mom thing" or if I've always been this way. I've always thought of myself as an extrovert--I like to study & read with background noise, and I could be dead-tired but spark right back to life after stepping into a party or get-together. But then again, I have always enjoyed going places just to enjoy being alone among people, and I really only enjoy going to parties where I know people...I'm not a huge meet-a-bunch-of-strangers-for-a-good-time girl. Perhaps I'm just an extrovert who really enjoys acting introverted?  

So...the prospect of flying to a fun city and staying in a nice hotel with my love while exploring solo during the day was right down my alley. 

I prefer vacations to trips. Perhaps you thought they were the same thing? Definitely not, my friend.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Vacations are going somewhere and relaxing. Trips are going somewhere and going/doing. Visiting big cities are natural opportunities for "trips," but I do pretty well with turning anything (even naptime) into a vacation. So here, my friends, is how you take a VACATION in Chicago:

Stay in bed as long as you want.

Yeah, sure, the city awaits. But "vacation mode" means you're never in a hurry. I could literally spend an entire day in a nice, cozy bed. R&R is NEVER wasted time. Particularly when you're sans parenthood responsibilities!

Do relaxing things that are unique to your location. 

Might I suggest a professional blow-out at DryBar (to rejuvenate your travel-weary head and save you time by not having to do your hair for the rest of the weekend)...

...a (gloriously) quiet, leisurely stroll through the Art Institute of Chicago...

...reading a good book in a beautiful place, such as next to Buckingham Fountain...

...doing your sight-seeing from a boat...also, I can't get these awesome scalloped apartment buildings out of my head...

....don't eat out for every meal--stay in a swanky hotel (breakfast & hor d'oeuvres in the executive lounge!), buy some awesome snacks & good wine (in this case from Garrett's Popcorn and Trader Joe's) and eat lunch or dinner in your room while enjoying a movie or outdoors nearby with a picnic...

*Note: I vowed not to get a travel guide book of Chicago, because I knew it would suck me in and I'd end up at the mercy of it's "must see" list.  Instead, I did a little internet research the week before we left.  And I found this: a Chicago Top 10 list compiled by Ann Taylor LOFT, which proved invaluable for providing fun, casual stops on the way to my "must see" locations.  Do NOT buy the books if you're planning on a vacation, I'm serious.  They will lure you in with their CityPass economics and their "If you have one day" agendas.  I repeat: step AWAY from the travel section...!

Treat yo'self. 

And while I just encouraged you not to eat out for every meal (it saves money and time), DO NOT waste an opportunity to eat something special you can't have in your own city.

Cupcakes for lunch? Sure! (While I'm mad about our fave local bakery, I do not have prejudices against famous delectable buttercream in copious amounts.)

Coffee and almond croissant for another lunch? Why not? (I love a short toffee nut latte with soy from the 'Bux as much as the next gal, but this Chicago coffee shop's java almost brought me to tears, it was that good.)

Jeni's Ice Cream for brunch was a given...and I won't judge you for going for a second round, because that's just what we did!

...other ideas, see further above: buy a new, fun shade of lipstick...definitely splurge on the jumbo sized Chicago mix popcorn...

Pick a small number of tourist "musts" and spread them out among your restful trip. 

This way you avoid a jam-packed, exhausting day. Nick was in conference meetings during most of our trip, but he had an afternoon here & a couple evenings there to spend with me. We picked a few things we wanted to do together, and I chose a few things to see on my own. Inevitably, there were things I/we didn't do/see that we could have, but I felt like we did just the right amount.

- Watching the Navy Pier fireworks from the Buckingham Fountain show 
- Wendella Architecture Boat Tour (worth every penny!)
- Millenium Park + outdoor concert sound check (sound check = shorter and before dinner!)

- Chicago Pizza Oven Grinder Co. for pizza pot pies (SO good!!)
*Note: We only ate pizza once on purpose--you don't want to be rolling down the streets because you ate every deep dish pie you came across!  And for our one and done choice, I'd say we were spot on!

Oh, I had the best time exploring the Windy City. I came right home and promptly fell into obsession with this series: 

It has only fueled my desire to go back again! Next time, I'm going to make sure I climb ride the Ferris wheel and zipline from visit the top of the John Hancock building. ;)

Have I talked you into taking a vacation to a big city yet?  The best part about it, is you don't need a vacation when you get home!

Thursday, May 15, 2014


Lately, my blogging is done by my iPhone app. 

Lately, I've taken up a part-time job working as a Jr K teacher's aid at a nearby preschool. 

Lately, I've had a mysterious medical enigma involving pain in my teeth and jaw with an unknown source, which led to 7 dr visits in 6 weeks. 

Lately, my 4-year-old has been growing up faster than the speed of light, coloring in the lines, cutting shapes with scissors, learning how to jump in the deep end of a pool and swim to the shallow end all by herself. {happy/proud momma tears}

Lately, my life feels like it's just getting started. (That's sometimes exciting and sometimes discouraging.)

Lately, the Lord has been faithful to me in tangible ways...just like He was in the last season and He will be in the next. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Stop and Smell 'Em

It's completely cliché, but upon waking on the groggy side of the bed this morning, it occurred to me to try looking at life through my perky morning bird's eyes. 

Last week, she cried real tears when she realized Daddy had mowed down all of her beautiful "flowers." This girl adores a big bouquet for her very own. After a batch of spring rains, our front yard was just that. We try to fool the neighborhood into thinking we have grass by keeping only the short green portions of our weeds on display. But this plan was quite heartbreaking to our flower girl. 

I assured her they'd grow again soon. Ever since, she's been collecting puff ball dandelions in the basket of her bike and bringing them home before blowing their seeds into the breeze, as if declaring in her own oblivious way: "WE WILL REBUILD." 

So much of grown up life is weeds, weeds, weeds. Until you remember that weeds can be flowers, too. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Just Because

I don't normally cross-reference my food blog in posts, but you guys, I am LOVING this new salad dressing I've been using recently.  It is not homemade (which may be a plus or minus for you, depending on what you need/like), but it is pretty healthy and has just the right flavors.  You can read my glowing recommendation here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

From This One Place

I don't know what's making me so afraid
Tiny cloud over my head
Heavy & grey with a hint of dread... 
From this one place I can't see very far
In this one moment I'm square in the dark
These are the things I will trust in my heart:
You can see something else
Something else

April will be the 9-year anniversary of moving into this 900-square-foot house we've been leasing.  I've gone through entire cycles of loving and hating this space and then loving it again.

There is something I've learned in these nine years: being content is NOT overrated.

Something (SomeOne?) has told me that if I wasn't content in this 900-square-foot house as a single gal, I wasn't going to be content in it as a married woman...or as a mother of a beautiful daughter...

Or with more of anything ELSE...

"...I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Philippians 4:11)  That's been a constant prayer in this itty bitty house...in this itty bitty life.

Do you ever feel stuck?  Like your life is moving as slow as molasses and your heart is just one mile further down the road, turning around and calling, "Hurry up!"  I feel like that sometimes.

This Sara Groves song just makes me cry every time.  Because I DO feel afraid and in the dark.  All the time.  But I love love love that He is El Roi, the God who sees.

You are the God who sees...something else.

Adopting Rhet: Click on the timeline above to read more