Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Chicago Spring

Some Chicago spring for your day...

The first tree on my way to the gym busted into bright green, 
sunshine feeding trees on Oak Street,
me and little mister's first workout of the season on Lakeshore Path,
and, of course, the Michigan Avenue tulips.

Some spring for Chicago, and some Chicago spring for you.
 For the many of you who have lived a chapter of your life in the Windy City... I know these spring scenes on her streets will make you homesick!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

26 Weeks

26 weeks!
Now that there's more to see-- and the weather's getting warmer-- maybe I'll do better at snapping the bump pictures more regularly.

While this has been one of the worst (read: coldest, coldest!) springs since I've moved to Chicago, I haven't minded as much as I usually would since with this weather I can wear the handful of spring maternity clothes I've bought-- mixed with my regular winter wardrobe-- for longer.
When it gets hot and summery, I'll have to get serious about maternity clothes for that serious third trimester bump.

I'm back to not feeling quite so good lately-- somehow the nausea has snuck back up on me, and I've been discouraged with that this past week.
Why that again and why now, right?
Maybe I caught a bit of the flu bug that's going around, or maybe little mister is taking me through a phase, I don't know.

In better news, I started some reading about baby-- a book called "The Attachment Connection: Parenting a Secure and Confident Child Using the Science of Attachment Theory"-- by Ruth Newton.
The psychology nerd in me is absolutely eating up the combination of neuropsych, attachment theory research, and discussions about the formation of emotional/social intelligence.
And at the same time, the author is mindful to incorporate practical parenting implications of the research for stages prenatal-5 years old.
I'm loving it, to say the least.

Come on spring, and come on baby!

Monday, April 22, 2013

29th Birthday at The Carriage House

My 29th birthday came and went this month!
I had really wanted to go here but no reservations were available even a week ahead of time, so husband picked out a place all his own and surprised me with dinner at The Carriage House in Wicker Park.

We had spotted The Carriage House earlier this year when in the neighborhood, so I was thrilled to check it out.
The food was fancier than my typical eating out fashion (you know me... burgers, fries, pizza), but in fact it's a casual place.
On their menu, they describe their dishes as a modern/urban take on southern comfort food.

Everything was flavorful and yummy, but what I died over was the gorgeous... absolutely gorgeous interior.
I wanted to take home the whole feel and recreate it in our apartment.  Love iron and wood, white dishes, tons of clean neutrals, splashes of on-trend color, and tons of light.

One special thing...
We made our son's name official that night over a toast!
We'd had both his first and middle name pretty much decided since 17 weeks, but at The Carriage House that night, husband said, "Want to make it officially his name?"

So we did.
We think it's perfect for him and for us, and we don't have even a close back-up.
I love that we decided on his name there!

The Carriage House would be a fabulous place to go with a small group of close friends, as they have some beautiful round tables to cozy around with your friends (my favorite!) and also family style long tables with benches.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Look For the Helpers

Yesterday I caught part of Kathie Lee and Hoda on the Today Show while on the treadmill at the gym.
I love their show, and yesterday I found their comments on the Boston tragedy to be particularly helpful.
As a new mother looking forward to welcoming my son into the world this July, I've started tuning in more to the child talk all around me.

Kathie Lee mentioned her long-standing friendship with the late Mr. Rogers, and she shared this piece of his advice:

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.'"

What a beautiful, empowering perspective for children, and for ourselves.
And it's so very true.
We cannot protect our children or ourselves from awful events out of our control, but we can teach and empower them to "always look for the helpers."
To teach them, literally, where to turn and how to find the lifelines of resiliency and hope in a sometimes dark and frightening world.
I hope to teach my son to think this way.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bread & Wine Review

My friend Ilene just posted her review of Bread & Wine today, and I am making myself not read it until I write my own review.
We both received advance copies by the publisher to review, and we chatted about the book over a phone date a few weeks ago after we had read the beginning chapters.
I'm dying to hear how she fared with the rest of it, so here I am with mine!

Bread and Wine is subtitled by author Shauna Niequist as "a love letter to life around the table with recipes."  Being a city dweller, I don't even have a table, and I've hardly cooked a meal since I've been pregnant.  But Shauna's previous two books, Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, have met me and shaped me in ways that I knew Bread and Wine could do, even without a dining table.  

After reading Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and now Bread and Wine, I find Shauna's books to be about community, and perhaps even better-- friendship.  What I mean by that delineation between community and friendship is that sometimes it seems that "community" is an elevated term, a spiritual term, a duty of sorts.  For me, Shauna has brought back the purity of friendship-- simply delighting in people that I get the gift of choosing to surround myself with.  In people that make me just want be with them.  I've needed more of that in my life.

Its seems that Shauna wrote Cold Tangerines from a happy place, Bittersweet from a sad place, and Bread and Wine from a place of pure personal passion as a foodie, but somehow she takes the reader to this inspiring yet reachable vision of cultivating friendship, no matter her starting place. Or at least that's what her books do for me.

In Bread and Wine I found so many things, but one of the things I didn't necessarily expect to find were reassuring messages like "it's okay, that's normal" about so many feelings and doubts I've had about my abilities to manage the whole food preparation thing of adulthood.  From a husband who worked second shift our first year of marriage, to grad school, to a health crisis, to a career of working nights and weekends, to a city culture of visiting restaurants more often than friends' homes, I feel I've been thrown a few curve balls in the the 6:00 nightly dinner department.  Shauna talks about how knowing how to make a meal for guests is in some ways easier than day in and day out getting dinner on the table.  She writes,

"It's a little bit counter intuitive.  You'd think anyone can do a Tuesday dinner, but, say, feeding twenty on a Saturday night or baking a wedding cake takes real skill.  But I find it's exactly the opposite.  That weeknight dinner takes planning and skill, a dance of art and science, all the while battling the clock and the crankiness of the weeknight dinner hour."

Amen.  Beyond how she manages to calm my insecurities and inadequacies and make the book reachable and relatable, she also subtly creates pages upon pages of vision-- through stories of successes and failures-- of the spirit of connecting and building relationships through food and hospitality.  My favorite lesson from the book was her discussion of how true hospitality and community is not providing a flawless, impressive meal but rather is sharing yourself as a host.  If you're too stressed and busy with the meal to spend time with your guests or too tired from it all to be yourself, then your meal was too complex.  She advises to choose a meal to serve that will make you feel the most relaxed so that you can truly be with your guests.  I loved how refreshing this perspective was versus choosing a menu to impress.  

And finally, for each recipe that she crafts a story around, she includes the actual recipe at the end of the chapter.  It's a beautiful and fun read, refreshing in it's arresting blend of practical tips and anecdotal inspiration for a way to find life and love around the table.   Thank you, Shauna, for another book to love!

This would be a great book to start a book club around-- or, like Shauna talks about in the book, a cooking club.  Invite a few friends or even acquaintances to read the book and then get together to discuss it.  Who knows what could happen? My book club is reading it this month, and we're going to venture into trying out the recipes together!

Order Bread & Wine here.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Hello, friends!
And hello bump.

I hate that I've been away from City Lights for so long.
I can't think of a time since I started this little blog that I've neglected it for so long.

I think I've been lacking motivation or inspiration-- you know, those things that come in waves sometimes.

Also, my work schedule has been a force to be reckoned with.
At night I've been curating an online baby registry and for sure spending way too much time on it but it's fun slash overwhelming.

These photos are all from the sixth month of pregnancy.
On my commute home tonight I was thinking about how being pregnant is one of the greatest gifts I've ever been given.
And strangely, it feels incredibly normal.
Perhaps natural is a better word than normal, but still, I'm surprised by it.  I thought it would feel much more foreign and strange.
I'm sure it's only the first of many surprises in this journey of brand new motherhood.

More from City Lights to come.
Thanks for being here!