surprises when you least expect them

I grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago. I didn’t really have any idea what farm life was like until I met Nate. Literally, I went to a farm in kindergarten and remember liking the chicks. Little did I know one day I would call a farm home!

I didn’t really think about where my food came from either. Farmers markets weren’t as popular as they are now. I loved going to the grocery store with my mom, and we ate on the healthier side, but I just didn’t think about it.

As a teenager, when my parents would go to buy flowers and plants and bushes in the late spring, I would ask to pick out one flower plant and would try to keep it alive. I always failed, and deemed myself the opposite of a green thumb.

Fast forward to meeting Nate. I remember one of the first times I went to Walnut Grove Farm, I posed for a photo with a cow; I was just so in awe. The spring and summers would come and go, and we would eat fresh veggies and fruits from the garden, something that was really foreign to me in the best way possible. 


As the years passed (we’ve been together for almost 15!), I’ve grown to appreciate respect the farm, and love the production gardens. We were married there almost six years ago, featuring mostly local vendors and the majority of the flowers were from the farm.

Fast forward even more to last weekend, when I pulled up probably 30 radishes and some green onions, picked fresh greens, and planted watermelons and squash to enjoy later this year.


There is something so gratifying about harvesting from a garden. It’s difficult for me to describe. I find such peace in it. And excitement. It just feels right.

Radishes, in particular, are super fun (I realize what a nerd I sound like right now, and I’m completely okay with it) because it’s like a surprise with each radish. Is it mature enough? What color is it? Long and thin or short and plump? Will it be really sharp or mild in flavor? Not to mention they are beautiful.


Radishes now signify the beginning of the growing season (other than another new favorite–rhubarb!). It means a summer filled with fresh foods that my mother-in-law planted and hopefully I can harvest. Gardening is something I’m not sure I’ll be good at on my own, but I really hope one day Nate and I will have the land to have our own garden.


Teaching Eloise about the farm, the gardens, and about the foods she eats; getting her to eat a lot of fruits and veggies; and trying new foods are very important to us. 

Today, Ellie wanted blueberries instead of a bakery cookie. That to me was a small, simple parenting win. And I’ll take them however they come!

I’m so grateful she has the farm as her home away from home, and that’s all that she knows. It gives her balance from the hustle and bustle of the city, the ability to run and be free, and spend quality time with her family with home-cooked, home-grown meals. What could be better than that?

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quality time

Let me start by saying, other than holiday time, I haven’t taken a week off in years. In addition, I’ve never taken a week off…to stay home!

Whether you stay at home or go to work, you enjoy spending time with your children. But my time with my girl is limited, so I always try to make the most of it. I try really hard not to be on the phone. Not to turn the TV on. To be present. And that’s what I planned to do for the week we shared together.

I also know it can be exhausting to watch a child, 24 hours, seven days a week. Frankly, I was nervous about it. Could I handle it?

But that’s what Ellie and I did. And it was FANTASTIC!!!!

Memorial Day Weekend was packed with al fresco brunches…


long city walks…


family friend reunions…


 graduation parties outside on a lake…


and we kept the party going all week long with lots of family time. We were blessed to have excellent, sunny weather.

It was a time to slow down and enjoy the small things in life. Hanging out in my sister’s backyard, watching the kiddos run around the yard together, walking my nieces to school, meeting their teachers. On Thursday, my niece Emma asked if I could drive her to school, just me. It made my heart do cartwheels!

The highlight of our week was Wednesday, our city day. My mom drove into the city in the morning (something that’s special in and of itself), and we headed to Lincoln Park to visit the Green City Farmers Market and the Lincoln Park Zoo.

The strawberries were sweeter and more delicious than any I’ve ever purchased at a store…


and we spied the cutest succulent arrangements!


After picking up strawberries and rhubarb, we went to the Zoo, riding the carousel…


 and enjoying the animals.


We also walked through the Lincoln Park Nature Boardwalk. It’s become one of my favorite gems of the city, my urban oasis. 


Ahhhh…

On our way back to the car, we stopped back at the farmers market for a loaf of bread, and headed home to eat lunch and get Elle Belle down for her nap.

It may seem simple, but it was perfect. To share my city with my mom and my daughter was perfect. I had two of my favorite people to share the morning with, and it was lovely. 

There’s something to be said about parenting and time. I may not have the quantity, but I’ll be damned if I sacrifice the quality. My little girl is a gift, and I am so grateful for our time together. It also reminded me that I need to find more work/life balance, to make sure I don’t miss those special, simple moments. Xo

grateful

It’s the unofficial start of summer and to that I say, “Amen!”

My little Eloise has been sick for about 2.5 weeks (cough, cold, pink eye?!?, ear infection…), so, needless to say, it was wonderful to get outside this weekend to soak up the sun. 

We dined al fresco for brunch with great friends at G & O. (My classic breakfast and mimosa hit the spot without leaving me too full or too tipsy, the staff was friendly, and we can’t wait to go back!) 


We walked around the neighborhood, trying new routes each time. Ellie loved watching the tour boats on the river.


We had a pizza party with family friends from growing up. We’ve been trying to get everyone together for a year so it was fantastic! Ten children, 10 adults, and a pup! Always a great time when we get together, and so fun to watch our kiddos make new friendships together, too.


We had a family graduation party for two of my cousins, Brittany and Kyle. I’m so proud of them and excited for their next big adventures (the real world for B and college for K!). 


And all the while, the sun was shining. Weekends like this remind you that life may not be perfect, but we are free and shouldn’t take that for granted.

My thanks to all who serve to protect us and our freedom. I don’t say it out loud enough, but I am forever grateful.