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    Life Lately

    Life Lately: The Holiday Edition

    I’m not sure what’s more shocking: that Christmas is in a week, or that Hudson is going on 2.5 hours for this nap. The 2-to-1 nap transition has been kicking our butts around here for months now, so ’tis a true Christmas miracle.

    I don’t even know what to do with myself. I’ve cleaned, gotten a bunch of work done, and made a batch of Christmas truffles, so I thought I’d share some recent photos and updates from this month.

    To be honest, this month has had some major lows: primarily in the loss of my beloved grandfather. He was a remarkable man and I hope to find the words soon to write about his life and what he meant to me. I have always loved the holidays and while this month has had so many beautiful, fun moments experiencing Christmas through Hudson’s eyes, it’s also all been tinged with sadness when I slow down enough to remember how much I miss him and try to wrap my head around never getting any more of his patented Grandad advice or pats on the cheek. But I know that this is the case for most people during the holidays: something about all of this celebrating brings into sharp focus all of the loved ones who aren’t around to celebrate with us. I’m trying to focus on how grateful I am for these special moments with my own little family and savor every second.

    Thankfully, I don’t have time to think about much because Hudson is NON-STOP these days and we’ve been trying to pack in all of the holiday fun possible to expend some of that insane toddler energy. Can someone bottle that? I’d pay good money. He loves Christmas lights (which he calls “WHAAAATS,” much to my delight. Never change, bud.) so when it’s not too cold, heading out at 4 or 5 for a lights walk has been an easy win.

    I am proud to report that our little Grinch has done remarkably well not destroying our tree this year. We did move it into a less prominent location as we originally put it up basically right in the middle of his play area, which was a recipe for disaster. Since the move, he’s been so good. The cat, on the other hand… hopeless.

    I can’t believe I didn’t take any better photos than this one, but attending my mother-in-law’s annual holiday luncheon always feels like the true kick-off to the holiday season to me. We didn’t win anything in the raffle or auction, but as my sister-in-law Tina said, great food and great company! Even better 🙂

    We walked to Pioneer Plaza one night to see the Christmas tree all lit up. It is spectacular and I have thought a million times this month how grateful I am to live within walking distance to things like this.

    While we’ve been busy little social bees lately, this is how most nights really look: Hudson chilling, dipe on, tum out, watching one of three thousand variations of the Wheels on the Bus on YouTube on repeat. But he doesn’t have a favorite (or at least not that we’ve figured out yet), so you just have to click through them all as he says, “No. No. No.” until you find the RIGHT WOTB of the day… to which he grins and says…. “BUSSSSSS.”

    In what is possibly the biggest development of the year, we finally found a babysitter. Game changer. She’s a master’s student in the neighborhood and she’s amazing with Hudson. J and I went out for a day date (because mama’s bedtime is 9pm so really there’s no point in dinner) to check out a few new places and pay a visit to a few old standbys. For my fellow Chicago dwellers, the biggest mind-trip was visiting the new Somerset at the Viceroy hotel… which was beyond stunning, but I could not get over the fact that it used to be the Cedar Hotel. Memoriesssss.

    Our neighborhood parents group organized a cookie decorating party for the little ones, and while I don’t have any actual cookie decorating pictures because my hands were full trying to keep Hudson from making it rain sprinkles… I love this picture of Hudson and his little pals so much. Seeing him start to engage with other kids and say their names is the cutest thing ever.

    Well, it’s official. These are beautiful Christmas flowers from my team at ThoughtWorks to wish me well in my new venture. I will always be grateful for my years there: I made a lot of great friends, traveled all over the world, and learned a ton. But I am so, so excited to strike out on my own. 2018, here I come!

    The “snowball fight” tent at Navy Pier’s Winter Wonderland. We went with some friends on a weekday afternoon and had a BLAST. It was pretty empty given the odd hour and even though most of it was geared towards bigger kids, we found plenty to do. Hudson’s favorites were the choo-choo and this ball tent, which had hilariously unnecessary strobe lights. He decidedly did NOT like their Santa (like, wouldn’t go within 6 feet of him) or the bounce house. He ran straight into the bounce house and then dove back out in horror once he realized what he’d gotten himself into.

    Christmas jams! Hudson’s clapping in most of his pictures lately because singing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is the only way I can get him to a.) hold still b.) look at the camera and c.) smile all at the same time.

    Hudson is just like his dad in that he can take or leave most sweets. To be fair, however, I’m basing that statement on things like… sweet-ish cereal. Peanut butter and jelly. I’m a mean mom and don’t give him that much real kid sugar yet. So maybe now that I’m typing this, it’s no surprise that he went bananas when I gave him the spoon from the peanut butter cookies I made, ran around the whole condo with it, and sobbed when I took it away… because all the dough was long gone 🙂

    This picture cracks me up. I was sitting on the floor wrapping presents and looked up to see this. He is always within 3′ of Hudson and I, unamused with it all as he may be. Best kitty ever.

      

    Santa pictures 2017 officially on the books. Like last year, we went to the Driehaus Museum’s Santa Saturdays, which is so well done. He is still a little too young to fully appreciate it all, but they do crafts, story time, caroling and snacks… such a nice set-up. But let’s be honest, we’re really in it for the ticketed, no-long-line super-legit Santa pictures!

    Most importantly, Hudson didn’t completely freak out. But credit for that is due to this savvy Santa, who took one look at his face and said, “Mom and Dad, why don’t you just hang on to him?” So for the second year in a row, we have family Santa pics (and I love them.)

    For posterity, I need to record that when Santa said “ho ho ho!” to Hudson, Hudson dramatically cried, “NO NO NO.”

    Not to brag, but I definitely have the most handsome men in town. This was at brunch at D4 after our Santa pictures. Hudson ate bacon and eggs while Jason and I ate with our plates basically in our laps because all of the salt shakers/jam/water cups/etc have to be pushed out to the edges of the table beyond his swiping reach or the party is over.

    Ugh this little face and his expressions just kill me. We say: big ‘tude, little dude. Hudson does everything big lately. Big love, big smiles, big laughs, but also big drama and big sass. Toddddddlerhood!

    Zoolights!! This was so special. So special, in fact, that my claustrophobia and I braved a major, free public attraction at peak hours… a list of adjectives that gives me shudders just to type. Jason and I went to Zoolights the first three or four years that we were dating and haven’t been back in the last few years, but have been talking about how great it would be to take Hudson for at least the last year. We bundled up on a Saturday evening and headed over to Lincoln Park Zoo, where we all oohed and aahed over all of the lights. It was short lived due to the cold weather and the fact that Hudson would prefer to “walky-walky” these days over chilling in his stroller, which was a definite no-go with the crowds. But it was a lot of fun and by next year I’ll be ready to go back 😉

    We hosted an annual college friends Christmas get together on Sunday. Seeing Hudson and his little BFF Katrina looking so grownup, just chilling on the couch like little people makes me realize (again) how much they’ve grown from the snuggly infants they were this time last year. They are so cute together. Katrina kindly shushed everyone when Hudson was napping–that’s a good friend if I’ve ever seen one 🙂


    And that brings us up to speed. This week before Christmas should actually be much quieter than the last few have been, and my only goals are to not totally overdo it on Christmas cookies before our Mexico trip in early January, and to catch up on all of my Hallmark holiday movies. I’m already dreading the end of the holiday season and the return to depressing news and soul-killing reality tv. No thanks. I prefer all of the happy endings, improbable scenarios and sweater vests that Hallmark has on tap.

    I hope your December is filled with lots of lights, cookies and fun. Or maybe just champagne, that always does it for me too. And if your holidays bring with them a little bit of sadness alongside the festivities, I’m sending hugs and love. Cheers, friends.

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    Life Lately

    Life Lately

    Happy Friday, friends! I thought I’d share some snapshots from life lately. It’s been a fun few weeks around here.

     

    Quick Starbucks stop on our first stroller-less walk!

    The biggest news: HUDSON IS WALKING! A lot of baby milestones aren’t as black and white as they’re described… we’re not even sure what his first word was because he sort of said so many things for so long that it all blurs together. The same is true with walking–when asked if he is walking lately, I kept thinking… well, he’s trying? Does that mean he’s walking? He’d take one, two steps here or there and then fall, and some days he wasn’t interested at all. But he was increasingly interested in walking around while holding our hands.

    Then suddenly over the last weekend, it was priority number one, and while there’s still a lot of “boom booms,” he’s trying to walk BEFORE crawling, and doing so great. I even took him outside for a walk without the stroller, so we had a lot of runway and nothing for me to hang on to besides Hudson. (I did have the baby carrier for backup!) He worked hard and then we made a Starbucks stop for Hudson’s favorite order: water with a straw.

    I have basically no pictures of him walking on his own because I’m typically hovering nervously a foot or two away from him during the action.

    Chicago definitely got the “it’s fall now” September memo because it has been like a switch flipped, and our beautiful, 80-degree summer gave way to crisp 65 degree days within the last week… which is OK by me. This picture may be the last sandbox picture of Hudson for the season… also OK by me, because sand is the devil, and Hudson is obsessed.

    We finally made it to the aquarium! After seeing my sad Facebook post about not being able to get in on a previous attempt, my friend Amber and her son Bran took Hudson and I… and it. was. awesome. They’re members so we got to skip the very, very long line and head right in–Hudson and I felt very cool, ha. (The ghost of Laura 10 years past is LOLing at me somewhere.) We saw belugas, turtles, three million “FISSSSS” and the highlight: an open dolphin exhibit! We skipped the dolphin show because #wigglybabies, but we got to walk up to the tank to watch them practice. We were SO close and my 12-year-old dolphin-trainer dreams were rekindled for a minute there.

    And not only was the aquarium itself awesome, but we took a WATER TAXI to get there! I vaguely knew that this was something that Hudson and I could do, but it seemed like a lot of work. As is true of all things like this… it was really pretty easy, and there is nothing like the view of the skyline from the lake. With this, I officially checked my final, unchecked box off my summer bucket list: take a boat ride. Thanks Amber!

    Shoes! This picture cracks me up. Jason took this picture on one of his adventures with Hudson.. they headed over to Niketown and Hudson was in heaven. Shoes continue to be a major obsession so seeing walls of “soos” and helping his dad pick out a pair may have been Hudson’s top life moment to date.

    While there have been a lot of nice park days and outdoor time, we are of course, still spending countless hours in his little play area too because it’s the safest for him (and least exhausting for the rest of us) to explore and practice walking in. He seems to be testing the boundaries of this area, however: lots of “no no no”s! and also the somehow more treacherous quiet, emphatic no’s while doing something he knows he shouldn’t, like playing with the tv or door to the patio. And then he looks over at me like: you heard me, right?!

    We stopped by our favorite waterfront cafe at Burnham Harbor with Hudson over Labor Day weekend, thinking we would maybe be able to quickly have one drink and run. He’s SO wiggly and active right now that I could not imagine a world in which he’d be up for much more than that. But sometimes he seems to sense when mom and dad need a break, and he was an angel. He sat nicely in my lap for over an hour, which was probably due more to his little snack cup filled with cheddar bunnies and a colorful drink menu to flip through than anything 🙂 But whatever works!

    Here’s Hudson and his gal pal Cam playing in the water exhibit at the Chicago Children’s Museum. I’m trying not to take Hudson more often than once a week right now in favor of going outside instead–sort of saving it up for this winter, when it’ll be our only option a lot of days! But it’s the best and we are so lucky to have this resource a short walk away.

    We took a little picnic to the new park to the south of Navy Pier and it was such a beautiful day! I’m working on convincing this little family of mine that picnics are worth the effort, and I think this day went a long way towards that initiative. Hudson has overcome his city-baby fear of grass, as is evidenced by him walking shoeless in it and in eating it in our family selfie.

    We’ve made two trips over the river (Chicago, please, please, PLEASE finish the river flyover!) to Maggie Daley–once on a quiet weekday morning, which was heaven, and the other time on a not-so-quiet Sunday afternoon, which was… a lot. But whatever the crowd situation may be, it’s such a beautiful park with lots of areas to explore. Most of the playground stuff is too big for Hudson, but right now he’s just happy to walk around and see the other kids. They have a lot of these rubbery, built-in hills, which are great because he is obsessed with climbing right now. And bonus: no wood chips to eat!

    I just love these two 🙂

    Hudson’s had a rough time with the naps lately, and on this afternoon it was a particularly crap nap… I think maybe 20 minutes or so, if I remember right. Yikes. We were having some quiet time and Blitz came over to sit in Hudson’s lap like he knew he needed some snuggles. Best kitty award.

    We stopped by my office to visit our friends. He’s funny in that he loves seeing other people but is definitely of the “look at me but don’t touch  me” school of thought, ha. I was really impressed that he warmed up to my friend Sue-Ellen so quickly but maybe that’s because she has a little one of her own on the way… he knows his people!

    Honestly, I just think he looks cute in this picture 🙂 This is what most days really look like: mismatched outfit because we had to change one piece of clothing or the other after the nuclear bomb that is mealtime, Hudson eating something weird, and that face that says both, “I am adorable” and “I am trouble.”

    And that’s all she wrote. Cheers to Friday, friends!

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    Life Lately

    My Favorite Memories of the Summer of ’17

    I. cannot. believe. its Labor Day weekend. I had HIGH expectations for this summer, my friends, and I am happy to report that the summer of ’17 exceeded those lofty expectations. As is true of pretty much everything now when compared to the BH era, it was totally different than other summers in recent memory. I don’t think I ended up reading down at our pool even ONCE, which now that I mention it, I should remedy this weekend. And there was of course, way less patio drinking—a Chicago summer institution!—though I’m totally satisfied with our level of fun this summer.

    I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my favorite memories… a hard list to compile because there were just so many good memories this summer. And also, because Chicagoans are obsessed with talking about weather, I have to note that we had the BEST weather this summer. So few cloudy or rainy days, and also barely any days that were suffocatingly hot. Thank you, Chicago. You really delivered!

    So in no particular order, here was our summer:

    Although it was short-lived, our family trip down to the beach was so much fun. While I’d taken Hudson to the beach a few times to play in the sand, we never actually went in the water until the three of us went together. I wasn’t sure what he’d make of the choppier water since he’s only been in pools so far, but he. was. obsessed. I think the memory of him sitting in the shallow water, happy screaming and giggling over the waves will always be the #1 thing I think of when I remember this summer. Pure baby joy.

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