Staying Home: 11 Things We’re Doing

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Feeling anxious? Me too. These are wild times. Hang in there, I’m here for you. Also, here are 11 things we are doing to keep our sanity:
1. Lunch Doodles with famed children’s book author/illustrator Mo Willems.
2. Cincinnati Zoo’s Home Safari at 2pm CST. Yesterday we learned about porcupines.
3. Highlights Grade Level Workbooks. My kids LOVE these books and activities. Wells is especially excited that his 2nd grade workbook has cursive exercises.
4. Cut, glue, and draw on paper. I tasked the kids with creating a little garden and we taped up their creations on our front door.
5. Chores. The irony is that my kids are loving this time of the day. We change sheets, make beds, arrange stuffed animals, and make sure nothing is on the floor. I am not too strict with this; just encouraging them to take ownership of their bedroom space. Gus loves running around the house wiping off light switches and doorknobs with Clorox wipes.
6. Moments of gratitude. On St. Patrick’s Day, I read the Irish Blessing. Then we shared 3 things we were grateful for.
7. National Geographic Kid Videos: 50 birds, 50 states. The birds rap out interesting content about each of the United States in a 3-min song. We then locate the state on a map.
8. Popcorn party. Sometimes we eat popcorn while watching a movie. Sometimes we look outside to check for birds, squirrels, or dogs. Sometimes we just sit at the table and talk about our favorite flavors of popcorn.
9. Painting Rocks (if you don’t have paint, stickers are a solid substitute)
10. Dance party or a few exercises in reps of 10: 10 jumping jacks, 10 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, 10 stretches.
11. Bake. Yes, this will be messy. But letting kids crack eggs, use measuring cups, and press buttons on the oven is a culinary adventure. Follow it up by watching Kids Baking Championship (a great family show) on The Food Network.

Happy Love Day

Last night, I was zooming home from a biz event. My eyes were heavy and exhausted from a wild schedule that day. The car slowed to a stop and I turned to my right to see the city lit up in cheerful pink and red. Immediately, something lifted. I felt loved.

(I hope you feel loved too)

Happy Valentine’s Day to you and yours.

City Girl Confessions: Beachfront Views in Blizzard Weather

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When the air is frigid, the ground snowy, and the forecast uncertain, perhaps it’s time to head to the beach. As in our beach. Glencoe Beach. The frozen, grayed-over Glencoe beachfront. Yes, I’m being serious. 

Recently, my father-in-law picked up my daughter from school and they decided to go on an adventure. January adventures in the Midwest are not exactly resplendent but hey, I give them credit for optimism. So off they went…and somehow, they ended up standing in snow-covered sand staring out at Lake Michigan. Naturally, there wasn’t another soul around (did I mention the freezing weather?!).

It was at this time that I received a text alert with a photo of them. Two smiley faces, frozen in expression, but excitement in their eyes. “We’re the very first people at the beach this season!”

It made me chuckle. But then it also gave me a moment of contemplation. It must feel stirring to be so small next to something so vast. This is the kind of unnerving curiosity that comes with walking alone in an empty shopping mall or standing atop a mountain after a long hike. I am so big yet I am so little. I am never just one thing. 

Also, I’ll confess: I think they enjoyed the quiet, reflective moments by the water. Life is very loud and hectic sometimes. Preschools, grocery stores, dog walking, morning traffic, sports games, concerts, and travel seem to swallow up our schedules (and raise the noise level in our home). It probably felt refreshing to stand somewhere and just be.

This adventure reminded me of something unusual my family did last summer: we traveled to Sun Valley, Idaho in June. Right as the weather in the Midwest was warming up, we flew to the mountains…right back into 30-degree weather. There was a unique day in which we took a gondola up to the mountain top and snowflakes swirled all around. Later that same day, we went swimming- in an outdoor pool. As we swam and splashed around, the snow continued to fall. There was nothing to do but smile and laugh at the juxtaposition. 

I like the notion of seizing an opportunity for adventure, and I think it’s important to check in every now and then. I have no doubt that as they stood on the shoreline, my father-in-law and daughter imagined the exciting days to come. They looked out at the lake and thought of warm sand, rhythmic waves, and beams of sun. Just imagining what could be, what will be…was probably enough to propel them forward in these bleary winter days.

As the months turn over and seasons persist, may we not be afraid of beachfront views, even in blizzard-like weather. From this, we remember that we are so little, we are so big. We are never just one thing.

City Girl Confessions is my recurring column in The Glencoe Anchor.

Happy Weekend: 3 Things

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  1. We’re doing a mini-upgrade to our home office and debating two wallpapers: a soft neutral or a silver blue. Everyone seems to love the neutral- the blue is so uplifting though! I shared this on Instagram and turns out, many are uplifted by that blue too. So what’s your vote?
  2. There is a restaurant in Minocqua, WI called The Boathouse. And The Boathouse has the most amazing soup around: Hungarian Mushroom. It’s so good that I eat hot bowls of it on 90-degree July days in the thick of summer. I found this recipe and not only is it quite simple, but it’s nearly a perfect duplicate of The Boathouse speciality.
  3. My kids are ice skating like crazy. Wells skates at the outdoor rink at his elementary school (during January, this is what the kids do for P.E.). Gus has been skating at an indoor rink in Winnetka- reliable because it’s not dependent on our fickle winter weather. Best tip for new skaters? If you are wobbly bend down and touch the tops of your knees to regain balance.

Happy weekend!