August 15, 2014

a photo shoot









Earlier this month Ruby was part of a photo shoot at the garden 
where I work. We got hooked up with some beautiful photos of our
 baby all thanks to the photographer Tomoko Sawairi Nagle and
 stylist Gwen Lemos. It was a fun morning and Ruby was such a trooper.

August 10, 2014

august mix






It's been a few months since I've made a playlist, and I'm in need of some new music to listen to while I'm out on a run. 

GREEN GARDEN/LAURA MVULA
TOUGH LOVE/JESSIEWARE
FEELS LIKE WE ONLY GO BACKWARDS/TAME IMPALA
CAVITY/HUNDRED WATERS
DREAM BABY DREAM/SUICIDE
LOVE IS GOOD/THE SHIVERS
I'LL TRY ANYTHING ONCE/JULIAN CASABLANCAS
SHAPE SHIFTER/LOCAL NATIVES
SWING LOW MAGELLEN/DIRTY PROJECTORS
HEAVAN CAN WAIT/CHARLOTTE GAINSBOURG
WINTER FIELDS/BAT FOR LASHES


August 3, 2014

marriage

My husband and I are celebrating our three year wedding anniversary in a few days. We have some old friends coming over to babysit so that just the two of us can go out for dinner and drinks. Going out on dates has become few and far between for us. My husband works odd and irregular hours, and I'm finishing up school and working my internship. This is all while we juggle raising our daughter together without any outside help. 

We're both a little guilty of letting our relationship go under the circumstances. We're lucky to spend an hour together here and there going on a family walk or watching a movie on the couch after Ruby falls asleep for the night. The last time that happened I passed out well before the movie was over and before the sun even went down. To be honest there are days that we don't even get along.

I know I'm not the easiest person to be around day in and day out. I can become pessimistic, moody and judgmental. Sometimes I don't know when to just be quiet. I can fixate on and over analyze the bad things instead of just letting them go. I like having a certain amount of alone time so much so I feel like I may actually need it in order to function properly. We've all got our weaknesses, and I understand that I am a work in progress and always will be.

Now that I'm married and a mother I have come to understand that the difficulties of trying make it all work are pretty much the norm. I still struggle with accepting this. Some people make it look so easy, and a lot of people just don't talk about the hard times. What can we do to make things better on a daily basis and avoid petty arguments? I'm no expert at keeping a relationship going strong. Growing up I had no example of a strong healthy relationship that lasts through the good and bad. In the past I'd just bail when things started getting too challenging or became boring, but this is the man I chose to marry. This is my husband and the father of my child. 

All I know for sure is that we both love each other and want to do what it takes in order to spend our lives together. Even when we are brutally arguing we still, somehow, always manage to remind each other of that. I tend to believe that if you want something bad enough, and if it's under your control, then it will happen. We've got three years of marriage, six years of love and eleven years of history behind us. Here's to being strong enough build a lifetime together with all of the ups and downs and surprises that go along with it. 

August 2, 2014

home








"Home is where the heart is."

"Home is anywhere you hang your head."

"There's no place like home."

My husband and I are bringing our baby to Minnesota for the first time later this month. I find myself talking about the trip not sure if I should call it home or just Minnesota. I moved to Chicago from Minneapolis in August of 2003, so exactly 11 years ago. I'm not sure if I would call Chicago home either. It's where I spent the majority of my 20s and 30s, pursued a formal education, met my husband, got married and had our baby. But I've left and moved back to Chicago within the last 11 years, nearly moved to yet another city and we don't plan on living here forever.

I didn't have one house that I grew up in. The house that I lived in during high school, the last few years I lived with my mother, now belongs to someone else. This trip will be the first time I see my mom's new home that she just moved into with her new husband. I've also moved around a lot as an adult. At the height of my moving around I lived in 5 different apartments and two cities within one year. So now I sit here thinking about what home means to me and where my home is. 

A good friend once said to me, "A city can never love you back." This was back when I was visiting him and seriously considering making my third maybe fourth move across the country. I remembered him saying these words when I chose not to move and instead take a chance on new love with the man who would eventually become my husband. So I don't believe that a specific place or city is what I would call home.

My home is where the people who I love and who make me feel loved are. My home moves around, has spread out, is concentrated in some areas and it is even in places I have never been to. There are many loved ones who I'm looking forward to seeing and spending time with when I take my family back to Minnesota. So I guess that does make it my home, it's just one of my many homes.

July 16, 2014

july is flying by




This month is flying by. We've had nonstop visits from family and friends, which has been so fun and one of my favorite parts of summer. I'm finally back in school and working on finishing up my last few classes, all while doing my internship with the Waters School ecology program. Somehow Ryan and I have been managing to juggle all of this without so much as even a babysitter. It turns out we make an excellent team.

We stopped by Heritage Littles last week to check out the Land of Nod party they were hosting. Ruby fell in love with this little Spherovelo scooter while we were there. We slept on it and decided to get it for her the next day. She's obsessed with it now. We all are really. Even though she's taken a few tumbles, she keeps getting right back on ready to explore her home in a new way. She's been pretty interested in checking out her papa's record collection and my computer and bike. Oh yeah I've been biking again, too! At first I was a little anxious to start biking around the city again, but it didn't take long to remember how much I love it. It's such an exhilarating way to get from point A to point B and get a little exercise as a bonus.

Ruby also took her first train ride. She was like an old pro. Maybe it's from all the trains I took while pregnant with her. She had her first zoo experience at the Lincoln Park Zoo and even rode on the carousel. We had a family beach day with her cousin, aunt and the grandparents. She just wanted to snuggle up to me the entire time. I was more than happy to make that happen and honestly loved every second of it. She's turning out to be quite a cuddler! The summer visits are winding down, and now it's our turn to do some visiting. We've got a crazy long road trip coming up with Ruby. I hope it goes as smooth as possible for everyone. 

Some current Rubyisms I'd like to remember and share are her saying "Oh no!", "all done", "bye bye papa" and "I did it!" all at appropriate times. She's been making some animals noises and repeating along some words when I read to her. She says the word "babies" all the time. She also whispers the word "tortilla" and shouts the word "egg" when she eats them. Somehow she manages to get her little leg at a 90 degree angle and shove her toes into her mouth after big bites of avocado or anything else equally as messy at mealtimes. Oh and her little backwards wave has been a hit with all of our visitors. The very best part of all is when she's snuggling up to me she makes these little sighs and noises like she's really feeling it. She melts my heart.


June 23, 2014

manuel



Manuel Cuevas was my favorite discovery during our trip to Nashville. Somehow I've gone through school for fashion design and been a music lover my whole life without ever hearing his name. He is the man responsible for Elvis's white jumpsuits in the 70s, the jackets the Beatles wore for the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Neil Young's black crop duster and the list goes on and on. He's dressed Dolly Parton, Prince, Elton John, Bob Dylan, Jack White, Neil Young and Madonna. I could keep listing some of the biggest musicians and performers of all time, but I'm sure you get it. 

My husband and I stayed in a hotel downtown near his shop and randomly decided to stop in and take a peak. We thought we were walking into a vintage clothing store and really just had no idea what we were about to discover. Inside was a magical place full of history and craftsmanship taken to a level that I've rarely seen. 

The walls were covered with photos of Manuel and his clientele throughout the years. There were sales associates working who were more than happy to tell us all about Manuel. It felt as if the people working in his shop were his close friends and been working for him for a really long time. One of them kept having me try on these beautiful, heavy rhinestone jackets inspired by each and every state in the USA. I tried on Illinois and Minnesota, of course. It was awesome! There were seamstresses working and hand embroidering in the middle of the shop. I was in heaven in that little corner shop. It was like a little museum that combined so many wonderful things. If you're ever in Nashville this shop is a must see.

June 15, 2014

summer vacation











Ryan and I got to do a little traveling this month and spend some much needed alone time together. We headed to Ruby's grandparent's house in Indianapolis on her birthday, June 4th, and had a little party for her with family and friends the next day. Ruby got to go swimming and eat cake for the first time. Just a few days later we left Ruby with her grandparents and drove to Nashville to spend some quality time together. We were both a little worried we would miss her way too much, or that she'd be really unhappy or fussy without us. But we were wrong, she was just fine and everyone had a really wonderful time. We did miss her, but it was a very manageable amount. 

We wanted to stop in Nashville years ago on our honeymoon/road trip, but never managed to squeeze it in. I'm so glad we waited, because the city has been growing and changing a lot over the past few years. We were able to spend a little more time there on this trip than we would have on our honeymoon. We did so much while we were there, but it was still relaxing enough. We had some amazing dinners at Josephine, Tree House and Rolf and Daughters. We met a really interesting and super friendly man named Robert at Marathon Village. He is the owner of and original roaster of Garage Coffee Company among many other things. We explored a few neighborhoods that we loved; Germantown, 12 South, Five Points and walked around downtown. We heard some live music on writer's night at The Bluebird Cafe, saw some exhibits at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, discovered the legendary work of Manuel Cuevas (which is a whole other post), checked out Pinewood Social and went to the top of Love Circle. I think I might already be forgetting a few things. 

I definitely got the feeling that there was a whole lot more to Nashville, and that we just cracked the surface on our trip. We could go back again and again and keep discovering new places and things to do. There were so many genuinely friendly, interesting and stylish people. Many of them we learned were transplants from all over the country and globe. The city had a buzz and was full of creative energy but still managed to keep a nice, slow, laid-back feel. There was endless green space, beautiful scenic hills and so much natural beauty. We loved our time in Nashville and can't wait to return. We are even toying with the idea of moving there in the future. 


father's day




Father's Day has been sort of a hard day for me most of my life. I usually just ignore it and can't wait for it to be over. For complicated reasons I grew up not knowing my dad. There was a brief period when I thought I might finally get the chance to meet him, but then he died suddenly of a heart attack. That was back in June of 2004. It's been exactly ten years that I put to rest the idea of ever knowing the man who genetically plays a major role in who I am.

This is the second year that I've been able to celebrate father's day, and I'm so happy to have this day become a happy one. Last year Ruby was barely a few weeks old, so I had no idea what an amazing father Ryan would turn out to be. I'm not at all surprised, though. He is so loving, playful and present with her. He makes it easy for me to be a good mother. Ruby lights up when she sees him. We're both so lucky to have him in our lives. Happy Father's Day to the best papa I've ever known! You are so loved.

May 30, 2014

one year


My baby will be one year old in just a few days. There are some things I would like her to know about our first year together. The year flew by unlike any other in the past. It was also one of the hardest years I've been through in ways that I never could have imagined. There have been times I've felt so exhausted, cooped up, flabby, weak, irritable and just not myself. Mostly I've just felt so much love, happiness and wonder. I'm truly excited to get up every morning, no matter what time it is, just to get to see your little face and hold you close to me.

It's difficult to find the right words and sentences to articulate just what it feels like to be a mother and love someone so fiercely. I would take a bullet, wrestle a bear, jump out of a plane, run into a forest fire and do anything, really, to keep you safe with me. I never imagined just how truly beautiful you would be. Your personality is really starting to develop and show through more and more each and every day. You're not just a little beauty you're also very clever, silly, affectionate, fun-loving, sweet, social and relaxed. You're the healthiest baby I've known. You haven't been sick once, not even a runny nose or cough, nothing. You sleep well, enjoy eating healthy foods and love to laugh. I think that's a big part of what makes you such a strong and healthy baby.

The sound of your laugh, baby talk and sweet little whispers are the best sounds that I've ever heard. The thought that you will sometimes continuously fake laugh just to get us to laugh with you kills me. I adore watching you try to snap those tiny fingers and wave at people, dogs and your stuffed animals. I'm so thankful for you. We wanted you so much. For a while we weren't sure we would ever get to have a baby. I think that's made us appreciate the time we have with you even more. The three days of labor and five hours of pushing were beyond worth it. You're my favorite person.

You have taught me so much this year. I've learned that I am capable of so much more than I ever knew. I really don't need much at all to make me perfectly content. I would do just fine living in a log cabin in the middle of nowhere as long as you and Ryan were there. Ryan and I work very well together under pressure, (for the most part). Happy almost birthday. I don't know what exactly brought you to us, but thanks for coming into our lives. Here's to many more wonderful years together full of love and learning. I love you so much baby!

May 11, 2014

my first mother's day






I have to admit I was a little disappointed when I found out my husband wouldn't be able to spend my first Mother's Day with me. He had to work since he had already taken a few days off to speak at a conference. Luckily, we ended up spending so much more time together than usual because of that time off. It really ended up feeling like the whole weekend was Mother's Day. 

We went out to eat as a family a few times, which is an extremely rare occasion for us. We even got to eat outside since the weather was insanely beautiful! Ruby loved it and was so well behaved. She tried all sorts of new foods including; burrata at Spacca Napoli, ice cream at Jeni's, and various Mexican food at El Tapatio. I ate so much delicious food and enjoyed a few drinks, too. We took some long walks and late afternoon naps. We played in the park and went on a little trip to see the Baha'i Temple. 

Today (Mother's Day) I was able to sneak off, for a bit, by myself before my husband went to work. I saw Unbound, the Frida Kahlo exhibit, and so much more at the MCA. I found a little blank puzzle for Ruby to draw on at the gift shop. I was even able to squeeze in a little bit of shopping on Michigan Avenue before I had to head back home to take care of Ruby. It ended up being a really great and memorable first Mother's Day after all.