christmastime is here

It’s been so long, it’s hard to know where to begin. I haven’t visited my blog for so long. With three posts in my cue, I question why I never shared them.

And I know why. This has been such a year that it never felt appropriate to post something. People were/are/will be dealing with so much, that I didn’t know how to add to the conversation, and I didn’t want people to think I was out to lunch (mentally) either. (Although I will say, ignorance is sometimes bliss these days.)

That said, I have missed writing, so here I am. Back, older, not sure if wiser, but eager to share again. So, here goes!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!! Christmas was a little crazy for us this year, in that our plans were ever changing. We try to alternate Christmas every year, and this year was scheduled to be at the farm. We were there the weekend before for an extended family celebration (a fun, delicious, whirlwind of a weekend!), and were due to go back on Saturday morning.

We got the call that Nate’s Mom had been sick in bed, as so many have already been this cold and flu season. Eek! So we decided to postpone our visit to next weekend when all are better.

So what would we do? Luckily my aunt gladly took us in for Christmas Eve, and the plan was to go to my mom’s or sister’s on Christmas Day.

An interesting note: Since we’ve been married, Nate and I have never been in our own apartment for Christmas Eve. Never slept at home. Never put out cookies for Santa. Never opened presents with just my husband and now daughter.

Let me tell you, it was simple and nice. This is the first time Ellie is really into Christmas, and it’s been such a joy to share it with her. Decorating cookies, teaching her patience with the Advent calendar, sharing both our Swedish (Nate) and Polish and Catholic (me) traditions. Her excitement is infectious, her joy never ending. Truly makes my heart happy.

And on Christmas Day? More sickies entered the picture (my Dad and nephew), so we just enjoyed a quiet day at home, with the exception of a visit to my Grandma’s house with my mom (who is also now sick). It was fun to watch her play with her new gifts (like her Melissa & Doug salad set) and just relax. We are always on the go, that it’s nice to sit back and breathe.

And for dinner? Some good ole Trader Joe’s veggie fried rice, orange chicken, and dumplings with edamame on the side. You know, because we were not prepared for a traditional feast thinking we would be elsewhere. Who knows, maybe it’ll be a new tradition!

In the middle of dinner, Ellie randomly said, “Amen!” So we decided to hold hands and say a little prayer. Ellie liked this so much that we held hands and prayed a few more times during our short meal. She surprises me, that one.

What did I learn? Roll with what life gives you, and make the most of it. You can celebrate with family any (and every) day, so don’t sweat it when things don’t go as planned. Who knows, it might just be quite wonderful.

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! More soon, I swear!

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all by myself

When you’re a working mom, moments alone–like, no kids, no husband, no pets, no work–are few and far between.

As I type this, I’m on a plane, by myself, headed east for a work trip for two nights. Two nights in a massive bed. Alone. Two nights with lots of cable channels. Two nights of eating whatever I want (healthy options, of course!) for dinner. I mean, I’m not really sure what I’m going to do with myself!So, now what? I read an entire issue of Real Simple, my traditional airplane treat. I’m enjoying the solitude of listening to old-school John Mayer (which I’m really into these days…take me back to college, John!) while feeling the sunshine on my face and drinking as much water as I can without having to go to the bathroom (because bothering people while sitting in the window seat and using airplane mini bathrooms are two of my least favorite things).

I got teary eyed this morning with my hubby. We are such a pack, our little family we’ve created, that–as liberating as it is to be alone–it’s also a little overwhelming. I will miss E’s silliness. She’s extra funny these days, making voices, faces, and trying to make me laugh. “I’m a funny guy!” she tells me.

I’ll miss George’s cozy companionship. My pup is the most loving little dog I’ve ever met. We’ve been trying to give him extra attention lately because we know his little sis takes a lot of our time. 

And to my hubby, who makes it possible for me to leave, I am grateful. I’ll miss his humor, his audible reactions to the Cubs on TV, how he religiously asks me how my day was. After 15 years together, he really is my partner in life. Being away from him helps me realize how much I lean on him (if only I could tell him in person!).

I love these work trips because they challenge me. To be the best I can be for my job. To realize my family can survive without me. To pause and reset–which is important for anyone and everyone to do.

Here’s to a productive and relaxing time away from home. I hope the Inn has HGTV….

Week #45 – Spotlight: Green Lake, Wisconsin

You might think this Second City Gal lives for fine dining and spa treatments, but I have a little secret for you: I heart the quiet life.

Yes, it’s true, I love country living. That’s just one of the reasons why I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Green Lake, Wisconsin, recently. The main reason I loved it? Spending time with my awesome friends.

Lauren and Bill invited a bunch of us up to Wisconsin for the weekend (Bill’s parents have a gorgeous home in Green Lake), and I’ve been wanting to go since Nate and I missed the chance to go two years ago.

Everything about this weekend was lovely. The house (like out of a magazine). The food (home cooking and lunch at Norton’s). The fun (bonfires, games, and lots of Rumchata).

In honor of my gal, Oprah, let me tell you what I know for sure after this trip:

1. Green Lake might be better than Lake Geneva because it’s not quite so touristy. But it is a little further.
2. Never lose faith in winning the game LCR (Left Right Center). Luck will find you! When you least expect it, you’ll win twice in one night (please see my cheesy photos below).
3. Puppy Chow is an amazing snack at any age.
4. Rumchata is a crowd pleaser (thanks, Liz!).
5. Bait shops are cool.
6. Fried cheese curds are delicious. (When in Rome…)
7. Fires (bonfires and fireplaces) are the best to gather around.
8. You always learn a lot about your friends while playing Cards Against Humanity.
9. It’s okay to do nothing…sometimes.
10. Did I mention my friends are awesome?

Check out some of the photo highlights from our relaxing weekend!

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