Daycare Dilemma

It's been a rough week. After four months of taking care of my baby 24/7, we sent him off to daycare. I knew it would be hard. People, heck even strangers, told me so. 

 

Our childcare journey began back in November in the beginning of my second trimester. Thank goodness friends tipped me off to look for daycare if that was the decided route. It was in our household. And just in our neighborhood, there were nine options, so we researched, edited our shortlist, took facility tours and landed on our selection. We were pumped. Oh, but not so fast, we were 41st on the wait list NINE MONTHS in advance. Crazy, right?! Needless to say, all worked out with our top choice. 

 

Last week, we visited the classroom, met the teachers and dropped off a little gift (Starbucks gift card in a cute "apple" pouch, gum and a real apple). 

 

Sunday night, I packed his bag, prepped his food, applied labels and checked off the needed school items.  

 

Anxiety and incessant questions were in full swing - what if he hated it? What if he didn't eat? What if he didn't remember us?!

 

The morning went smoothly. My husband and I were greeted by the school manager, a friendly "Welcome Jayden" chalk sign and reviewed classroom protocols. All the while, he was happy as a clam - looking around at the colors and new friends. I touched his soft skin, gave many kisses, handed him off to the teacher and waved goodbye. A fellow class mom approached as we left, perhaps sensing my anxiety or worry. She shared; "he will love it... my daughter grunts with excitement every time we near the class and I'm convinced she crawled early because she saw the other babies. And the school and teachers are great." It's amazing how a few words can make such an impact. 

 

As I nodded and thanked her, my eyes welled up as my husband and I strolled out for coffee. What would I do without him? Another transition, another chapter of this mom thing was closing. My as-needed daily weekday snuggles, random daytime dance parties, afternoon walks and hugs with my sweet boy dissolved. He was embarking on a now nearly permanent "school" journey without me. 

 

I was grateful to find solace in the tech-forward school App where teachers post ongoing activity updates. As tears were in full effect as I sipped my caffeine, the App notification shared that he had went down for a nap, and while I settled and enjoyed an outdoor lunch, he had done tummy time (with a photo to boot!), had a wet diaper and some giggles. 

 

In my yoga class to air out my sadness, I found myself counting down the hours to pickup. I eagerly waited for my husband on the school corner to see our man. And he received a glowing first day report in addition to the App updates - he flipped over, was so expressive, happy and ate very well. The teachers said he was a good baby.

 

I was beaming and relieved. Best of all, when I knelt down to him, he smiled up at me. And in that moment, my anxiousness and concern melted away... as if he was saying; "it's ok mom, I'm great, you and dad made a good choice."

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Lake Love

The other weekend, my husband and I ventured up to Lake Geneva for a college girlfriend's summer wedding, who, coincidentally, married one of our college friends. It was a true reunion of sorts. (Go Hoosiers!) 

With a fully packed car and 3-and-a-half-month-old babe in tow, we drove to the cheese state, arriving at The Abbey Resort. After a few hiccups (hello, putting a newborn on a second floor with no elevator... now that's just silly), we settled into an updated room overlooking the lake. After enjoying a fish fry dinner and strolling the property we crashed. The next morning, we ventured to Simple Cafe in the city's quaint downtown - try the homemade banana bread and scones! - but quickly returned to enjoy hotel AC and get ready. 

This was the first non-family babysitting job for the little guy, and needless to say while I was so nervous, all worked out (minus the babe waking up every 2-3 hours after mommy boozed it up). We were lucky to "borrow" a reputable sitter who worked at the local hospital who a friend uses for her family. 

The wedding ceremony was held at a darling 150-plus-year-old stone church downtown Lake Geneva with the bride's uncle singing a few songs, adding to the intimate nuptials. With clouds looming, guests then traveled by shuttle to Lake Geneva Country Club where the rosé, beer and bubble-drinking commenced. The classic venue, founded in 1895, is believed to be the oldest club in the Midwest.

The cocktail reception was perfect, overlooking the Lake Geneva south shore and classic golf course - which made a fitting entrance for the wedding party to arrive... by boat, of course. The prosciutto melon, corned beef sauerkraut sandwiches and charcuterie board with Wisconsin cheese, full bar and a filled "beer canoe" kicked off a booming evening. And of course I enjoyed the local beer offering - New Glarus Spotted Cow.

Hand-written guest cards of the state's famed farm animal were a perfect touch paired with the navy and white color scheme. The white roses and hydrangea florals brightened the dark wood rooms and the vaulted dance floor was sprinkled with strung lights. While the storms rolled in, the father of the bride took centerstage lightening the room with his Jimmy Fallon's 'thank you notes' skit-inspired speech with the fitting musical background notes. 

Check out some of the photos below of the happy evening and cheesy memories. :) 

Evening stroll around the dock at The Abbey Resort. 

Evening stroll around the dock at The Abbey Resort. 

View from our room at The Abbey Resort. Check out the darling gazebo.

View from our room at The Abbey Resort. Check out the darling gazebo.

Beer canoe during the cocktail reception!  

Beer canoe during the cocktail reception!  

The bridal party arrived by boat to the reception. Perfect. 

The bridal party arrived by boat to the reception. Perfect. 

Simple cake surrounded by a bed of perfect petals. 

Simple cake surrounded by a bed of perfect petals. 

Table setup. - yes those are my two wine glasses. More rosé, please.

Table setup. - yes those are my two wine glasses. More rosé, please.

Swinging under strings of light.   

Swinging under strings of light.   

Parents night out. Me and my handsome hubby. 

Parents night out. Me and my handsome hubby. 

Fabulous Frida

The arts and creating have always been a part of my life.

 

As a little girl, I loved crafts, drawing and painting. Throughout school, I rocked diorama projects (my 5th grade "North Pole" landscape was rad - think blue painted tinfoil accents), visual presentations, was grateful to take Advanced Placement "AP Studio Art" in high school and finished with a Studio Art (along with Art History) minor from college. They were my favorite classes. Throughout my artsy journey, I had many notable favorites - from Italian Renaissance masters, Columbian sculptor Fernando Botero, to surrealists Dali and Renee Magritte. But Frida Kahlo was one of my first favorites and one of the first artists I studied. 

     

I learned of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in my junior high Spanish class. She was unique and bold. Her notable collection of soulful self-portraits were often bright, carrying indigenous Mexican hues, hints of surrealism and social commentary but there was consistently innate sadness. She endured childhood illness, lifelong health troubles, fertility and marital issues to name a few. These experiences and struggles oozed into her visual commentary. To this day, she is still a cultural icon. Her images and likeness are seen throughout pop culture - and has the most badass uni-brow of this century. 

 

Today, July 13, marks the anniversary of her passing (on 1954), so thought it fitting to bring to light some of her Frida-tastic portraits and a recent Frida-inspired purchase. Or shall we say selfies? Move over, Kim Kardashian. For a great resource on Frida, check out http://www.frida-kahlo-foundation.org/.

Oil painting - “The Two Fridas,” 1939

Oil painting - “The Two Fridas,” 1939

 Oil on masonite - "The Broken Column," 1944

 Oil on masonite - "The Broken Column," 1944

A recent purchase inspired by Frida by Colombian jewelry designer Mercedes Salazar - I'm a sucker for bold, statement pieces and love this bauble from Intermix.

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Do Better

The past 24 hours or so produced a veritable range of emotions - frustrated, angry, numb, confused, sad. There is something inexplicably morbid and intrinsically disturbing when holding and nourishing a new life while screens shout out images of sons, daughters, fathers, uncles, aunts and children being senselessly and brutally shot... and how these tragedies devastate families and communities.

 

When does this all stop? We all need to do better. We are better. Voices can help. I hope.

 

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Socialist.

 

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Trade Unionist.

 

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out - because I was not a Jew.

 

Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me."

 

-Martin Niemöller (1892–1984), prominent pastor, outspoken opponent of Hitler who spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

 

#PhilandoCastile #AltonSterling #ChicagoViolence #DallasShootings #PeaceandLove

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Soul Survival

Trying to find time to workout with a newborn and breastfeeding is no joke. For nearly a year, I've been wanting to try the much-loved SoulCycle but when feeling like a house combined with preggo complications late in my second trimester, I never went.

 

As I'm slowly starting to feel like a semi-normal functioning human post-babe, it was time to get back at it for myself and the little one.

 

My girlfriend booked us bikes with one of her favorite instructors and gave me a brief run-down. I was pseudo familiar with the general platform - music-driven, thoughtful yoga-esque intentions and bike dancing woven throughout - as well as being pricey and drawing a cult-like fan reputation. (I mean it couldn't be worse than Crossfit with the latter, right?!)

 

I have to say, I was nervous. We walked in to a clean, stark, yet vibrant lobby space packed with a fashion-forward, generally in-shape crowd.

 

I rented my bike shoes and strolled into the dark room lit with candles, which also was surprisingly warm. (Surely they will turn down the temp when a room of 50-plus bodies are closely packed in, right?!)

 

Then there was the pre-ride prep. I swapped out weights, added seat padding (because, birth) learned and adjusted to proper seat positioning with an assistant's help and clicked in. 

 

The über-fit instructor with colorful tattoos covering her toned arms began class welcoming us newbies, quickly shared the theme of the class - London - and we all joined in to send positive thoughts to the Orlando nightclub shooting which occurred only hours before. A welcome and feel-good start.

 

The class itself included a warm-up and the music made my jelly legs want to keep to the beat. I mean who has Florence and the Machine playing in their workout?! Amaze. Other tunes included the Spice Girls, Ellie Goulding and Queen where we turned up bike tension after hearing the famed "Another One Bites the Dust" bridge. Woof. There were "bike push-up" movements (which hurt my wrists), favoring of each leg and some light arm weights work towards the end of class. The instructor encouraged support throughout class with suggested neighbor high-fives, calling out regulars, encouraging individual dancing and sharing quick personal stories where agreeing nods were seen.

 

Net, I survived. I appreciated the ability to scale the workout, the positivity, the instructor talent and direction and the sweat. However, the thirty bucks plus shoe rental is no joke on the wallet, but I will return. And it's easy to see how regulars just can't get enough. See you again soon, soul riders. 

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Neighborhood Bites

I love exploring my own city. And even better when there's new restaurants in close proximity... well, because baby.  

 

Our Chicago neighborhood is experiencing quite the expansion. With Google new to the area and a McDonald's confirmed move, changes are still a-coming.  (P.S. Google's free employee breakfast and lunch fresh buffet spread is incredible - tip: find a friend and get put on the visitor list!)

 

I recently ventured out and tried a few new digs...  

 

Monteverde (1020 West Madison) is an "Italian restaurant that blends the traditions of Italian culture and cooking with influences from Chef Sarah Grueneberg’s trips around the world, as well as her family heritage." This former Top Chef didn't miss a beat... if I could bottle a summer outdoor experience, this would be near the top. A friend, my babe and me snagged a walk-in patio spot on one of the most gorgeous summer evenings. Enjoying rose, a friendly-peppy waiter and incredible dishes with fresh ingredients, I can't wait to go back. 

 

My favorites were the special truffle-mushroom egg toast and the unique, but wildly flavorful skate wing schnitzel. The pastas also do not disappoint. 

SPECIAL - truffle mushroom toast with egg

SPECIAL - truffle mushroom toast with egg

 SKATE WING SCHNITZEL caper salsa verde, asparagus, arugula, watercress, cherry tomatoes, parsley new potatoes

 SKATE WING SCHNITZEL caper salsa verde, asparagus, arugula, watercress, cherry tomatoes, parsley new potatoes

The second newcomer down the road sits on Randolph's 'restaurant row'  where famed chef Rick Bayless expands his chops to this hot destination. Cruz Blanca Cerveceria (904 West Randolph) is the more chill, Mexican-style informal "hermanita" of attached Lena Brava bursting with craft beer options.

 

The open, airy space was a perfect lunch destination to catch up with a former colleague with taco platters, sides and "agua Del dia" infused drinks. 

 

Note: no reservations are accepted and the set up is a place-your-order and wait for your name to be called. And a huge kudos to the staff who were overly accommodating for my behemoth stroller.

Beef tasajo taco plate, guacamole, cucumber salad, agua del dia and oaxacan peanuts.  

Beef tasajo taco plate, guacamole, cucumber salad, agua del dia and oaxacan peanuts.  

Any other must-try new Chicago spots?  Bonus for those stroller-friendly. 

Monkey Morning

My three-week-old little guy slept two back-to-back three hour stints, so this 'well-rested' mamma was motivated to whip something up (incredible what a few extra hours can do when caring for a newborn round-the-clock - perhaps that's another post). After a load of baby laundry, a shower (always a daily win) and a quick Swiffer around the house, why not make a healthy nosh?! 

 

I quickly pulled up my favorite healthy banana bread recipe from COOKIE + Kate (it's bookmarked on my phone) and started baking in between baby cries.

 

I love love this recipe - I use honey, whole wheat pastry flour and tossed in some crushed walnuts and chocolate chips in my back pantry corner. I've also alternated between coconut oil and olive oil for a few recipes, and both are delicious. 

 

Full recipe link: Healthy Banana Bread Recipe - COOKIE + Kate

 

Voila! 

 

 

 

A New Journey

To say that the last three weeks have been the biggest daze is an understatement.

 

From my first hospital stay to the helpless, hopeless and frustrated feelings the first week home to new cries, moans and yawns, it's been a veritable adventure but with a boundless increase of love.  

 

The world will never be the same as my husband and welcomed a new life on April 4, 2016, promptly at noon (on the dot!) with a healthy baby BOY. It's been a wild ride but the sweet face has certainly changed all of us. 

Photo credit: Bella Baby

Photo credit: Bella Baby

 

 

Saturday Sips

I love playing tourist in my own city.

 

For a friend's birthday over Easter weekend, we celebrated by enjoying afternoon tea in The Lobby at The Peninsula Chicago. The elegant lobby, scenic Chicago views overlooking the Terrace and Michigan Avenue bustle, striking florals, live string band and top service completed a delectable experience. 

 

While 37 weeks pregnant, I was still able to partake in most menu offerings and found (why just now?!) a delicious preggo-friendly bubbly! Perhaps I was most excited about this discovery... for those curious, it's the Fre Sparkling Brut (with under 0.5% alcohol) and was most refreshing with notes of green apple and ripe pear. 

 

Other highlights were the rich desserts (hello chocolate mousse cake bites) and my favorite - the cucumber sandwiches and warm scones. And how can I forget my very own 'Peninsula Easter Bunny Bear' gifted to my baby bump. Now that's hoppy-tality. 

Afternoon tea menu.

Afternoon tea menu.

Lovely display. 

Lovely display. 

Easter florals

Easter florals

Sweet treats, please!

Sweet treats, please!

Home Stretch

Wild how pregnancy has flown by. I'm 36 weeks, and each day is a different challenge! 

 

Overall, I'm grateful for my journey although there have been bumps in the road.

 

First trimester was ridden with nausea round the clock (thank you, diclegis!) and bizarre food aversions (chicken, broccoli, meat = vomitous) and some extreme bouts of exhaustion. Also, we didn't quite know how far along we were at the beginning - we were anxious to tell folks but ended up having to wait a bit longer after confirming baby's gestational age. 

 

Second trimester things looked up with more energy but towards the end I was diagnosed with pelvic separation. Not a rare symptom, but essentially the front joint of the pubic bone separates - it was painful to stand up, walk and I quickly got diagnosed and started PT which did wonders. We had some scary doctor's visits as well - had to get three extra ultrasounds to check on a heart photo that one of the Northwestern specialists (as the OB doctors office sends out) wasn't pleased with. Per multiple images, one of the heart ductus' looked abnormal, small. After many total hours of ultrasounds, different angles with different machines, and seeing the specialist himself combined with checking with the Northwestern Prentice fetal carioligist specialist, he confirmed the baby's heart was great. A great relief. 

 

Now in the third trimester I was lucky to get a 33 week ultrasound (hey, extra photos!) to check if the placenta had moved up - as it was low in earlier ultrasounds - and indeed it did. Given I'm less than one month until due date (eek!), I'm seeing the doctor every week. The pressure is down there when I walk (welcome to waddling), my ears are popping like crazy (extra fluid everywhere!), I'm apparently snoring (sorry, hon), cannot wear my wedding ring (hooray for bloating!) and the heartburn is increasingly unbearable at night. 

 

More to come, can't wait for Baby R to get here!  

 

Bathroom bumpie @ 34 weeks  

Bathroom bumpie @ 34 weeks  

Lounging with my bump, babe and sweet Winnie. 

Lounging with my bump, babe and sweet Winnie. 

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Countdown

Today marks 28 weeks of carrying this now little eggplant. Aloha, third trimester.

 

Wild how relatively quick this whole journey has been... sure there have been aches, pains, vomiting, bloating, nausea but also lovely kicks, punches, funny belly movement and glorious beating heart sounds.   

 

Any momma tips, tricks for the third trimester? Let's do this.

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New Year, New Journey

Well, it's 2016! 2015 was a year of growth, travels and a big announcement... hello, preggers! I know 2016 will be the biggest journey yet.  

 

While I'm not a faithful journal writer (how I often wish I can write weekly of life happenings), I'm thankful for social media that often triggers great memories - hooray for Timehop! However, I do like to record my yearly travels... below are my 2015 destinations. Cheers to a great year ahead for all of you and making beautiful, happy memories. 

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Nailed It

I'm a brand loyal nail product gal. 90 percent of the time I do my own nails as, frankly, I'm quite particular and with my limited art skills and proper tools, they look great. And I've learned what I like over the years. But above all, my nail time/process is a big relaxation and decompressor. But enough about me. 

 

I made an impromptu Sephora polish purchase of Dior  Autumn/Winter 2015 gel shine and long wear nail lacquer in Cosmopolite (photos below).

 

A seemingly plum/maroon color, it still sits nicely alongside the classic holiday reds. The application itself was a surprise as the brush is slightly curved/fanned out, making those outside corners reachable in one painting motion. The texture is indeed very gel like and sits that way immediately after even one coat. 

 

Net, this purchase was a win. I see a few more bottles of Dior in my future. 

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Glowing and Growing

A new little sparkle is entering our lives come April 2016. And I don't think I can hide my growing belly much longer, so here it is world... I'm pregnant! 

 

It's been so rewarding sharing the news with family and friends over the past few weeks. I guess once the news hits social media, then it must feel really real, right?!  

 

I'm nearly 18 weeks and can't complain too much. I had some struggles with nausea for the majority of my first trimester, but was grateful to take prescribed Diclegis which quickly did the trick. And my, how good that bread and pasta tasted as I couldn't quite stomach meats and much else. Now, there's consistent heartburn bouts and some nasty headaches, but I can't really complain. 

 

I'm excited to share my journey here as well as connect with other soon-to-be-mamas and rockstar moms. I don't plan to overhaul this blog into a mommy blog, but you betcha I'll be sharing cool finds and general updates on this time. 

 

Oh, and hope you like this sketch by yours truly of our little arrival announcement.  

 

 

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Twinkle toes, will travel.

On this #TravelTuesday, I don't sparkle discriminate when it comes to feet.

Granted, unorganized, chintzy sparkles in glue-seeping pods and ill-anchored embellishments I'll respectfully decline, but when perfect accents come along AND pair with function... well, yes please.  

Enter these loafer beauties. A metallic cap-toe with anchored crystals and a rubber sole, this pair is a travel must.

But I won't stop with these, would love to hear your MUST travel kicks. What are your favorite, comfy, travel-worthy picks? 

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Miu Miu Embellished Cap-Toe Linen Loafer Corda 

Miu Miu Embellished Cap-Toe Linen Loafer Corda