Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lots of little things

Oh, my friends. I have so much to catch you up on. I think about things I want to blog about every single day, but it's so hard to justify using Frankie's precious nap time to blog when I could be working (or cooking, or cleaning, or...). So here is just a crazy brain dump of a post with some of the things I want to tell you.

1. I've been wanting to blog for a month about our amazing Milwaukee day trip but I've finally accepted the fact that it's not going to happen. I'll be lucky if I manage to blog about our weekend trip to NJ last month for Frank's cousin's wedding (also known as the trip where we stopped at Every Single Rest Stop between Chicago and NJ). Luckily my dear friend Giedre blogged about the Milwaukee trip with her trademark gorgeous photos so I'm just co-opting her post. ;) Like she said, we will have to go back! And if anyone is planning a day trip to Milwaukee and wants a copy of Frank's very thorough itinerary for the day, shoot me an email!

2. Halloween happened! It was cold and miserable and sleeting part of the day, but we got photos of Frankie in his awesome Lion costume from Old Navy, so I was happy.

He is such a happy little chub these days, I can't even stand it.

Here's all three of us dressed up for a Halloween party later that night:

We joked that Frank was actually dressed up as an IRA member (pre-1920s of course) instead of Bert, since that's kind of what he looked like in his hat and trench coat.

3. On a related note, last weekend we went to a local pumpkin farm with my parents and youngest siblings. Frankie wore his pumpkin hat for the occasion, of course. Hay rides and caramel apples and pumpkin picking happened. Everyone was happy.

Here's my mom trying out the Moby wrap:

And my dad's awesome pictures from the day:


Frankie is two feet tall and built for speed!

(Actually no, he can't get around much at all yet, but my dad used to always say that about us growing up.)

I have to tell you guys about this picture:

Let it stand as a record to my most ridiculous First-Time Mom moment yet.

My little brother and sister asked if they could take Frankie with them on this little train that goes about 2 mph and runs in a little circle next to the cornfields. I was a little anxious but I finally said yes, after making them promise 15 times to hold him VERY tightly and not let him fall out.

Then once they were seated on the train, I proceeded to freak out and ask my mom a million questions like "How fast does it go? Are they going to go all the way around the cornfield??? What if he falls out? Would you let YOUR baby ride on that thing without you?" I had these horrible visions of my baby crying in fear somewhere on the far side of the huge cornfield. Finally the attendant took pity on me and handed me a free ticket. I then dramatically ran next to the train and jumped on behind my siblings just as it was leaving the station. It was like a caricature of a rom-com scene.

Yeah... there was not even a chance that he would have fallen out. And the train did NOT go around the cornfield as I had feared. I don't think Frank and my parents have ever laughed so hard.

4. In the morning before we went to the pumpkin patch, we got to meet Auntie Leila at a talk she gave in Oak Park!! I have read her blog for years and really enjoyed getting to know her awesome kids Joe, Suki, and Deirdre when I lived in Virginia, so it was really cool to finally meet her—and get a signed copy of her book! Frank is a huge fan of icons (and has collected many of them) so he especially enjoyed her presentation.

5. Yesterday was Frankie's 6-month birthday! I'm a bad blog mom and did not take any good photos. Whoops. Maybe later this week. Life is just moving too fast for me right now!

I am happy to report, though, that he has learned to sit up by himself! He was able to do it in short bursts starting a week or two ago, but as of last week, he can now sit up unassisted for 10 or 15 minutes at a stretch. Here he is showing off his new skill:

Except it's not totally accurate since he's past the "tripod" stage and just sits by himself now. But you get the idea. :)

6. Another exciting thing happened yesterday—Frank's first day at his new job!! That is a crazy story of its own.

The week before our NJ trip, Frank was leaving the courtroom downtown when an older attorney from a different firm who he had been working with on a case asked to talk to him. The attorney said that their firm was looking to hire a new associate attorney, and he had noticed Frank's "strong courtroom presence" and was wondering if he was interested in interviewing. Frank interviewed for the job two days later and got the job offer. Then he met with his former bosses to discuss what would be best for his career, and they agreed that this was a better opportunity for him. So within the space of a week, while we were across the country in NJ, Frank found himself accepting a new job at a bigger, more established firm in the Loop. He was not looking for a new job at all, and it's crazy how it all worked out so perfectly. He has worked so hard this past year and it makes me so happy that he's doing so well and advancing so quickly in his career.

All day yesterday, my family was texting me asking how his first day at work was going, and I was relaying to them what I heard. He got to his new office at 8:30am and he texted me at 8:45 that he was already working on a file (yay!). Then he texted me at lunchtime that he had gone out to lunch with his co-workers and ran into a friend of ours on his way back. So he looked cool and popular in front of his new co-workers, I relayed. ;) Then he texted me in the afternoon that he was getting a new phone and laptop with this job. Alright, game over. I concluded that his first day was awesome. And it was. I'm so proud of him and excited to see how this new job goes!

7. On another note, two Saturdays ago was one of the last really warm days here in Chicago. We took advantage of it by spending the afternoon at the park near our house. The guys and our friend Theresa threw around a football while Giedre and I sat on a blanket talking and soaking up the sun. It was glorious. This photo Giedre took is my new favorite of my Franks:

Little man fell asleep on my lap at one point which was darling. He's not much of a snuggler so I enjoy getting in some snuggles whenever I can:

It was such a perfect afternoon. I will be carrying the memory of that sunshine with me through the cold winter months.

And once again I have to ask myself: considering how much I hate the cold, why do I live in Chicago????

8. Alright, last topic! I need some advice and you guys always deliver. So you know how I'm working part-time from home as an editor these days? That is going really well, although it does take up a lot of time. Lately I've also been doing small writing projects once or twice a month for a consulting firm where a friend works, so between those two jobs, blogging has taken a backseat. (Last night one of my friends said, "I don't know how you do everything you do," and I stole a line from Simcha Fisher and replied, "Through sheer, horrifying neglect of housework and cleaning." It's true—while I still try to make the bed every day and keep up with dishes and laundry, by necessity Frank and occasionally my mom are doing a lot more of our cleaning these days.)

Anyway, so over the weekend, I received a phone call from my former boss at the local university. They have a short-term project ("short-term" meaning 8 months to a year) for an editor working remotely, and she wanted to know if I was interested. I'm very aware of what an honor it is that they are seeking me out to work for them again after I left 6 months ago. I'm also aware of how fortunate I am to have more remote work opportunities than I am able to handle. But that doesn't make the decision any easier.

There are so many unknowns here that I'm really struggling to make up my mind. I don't know where we will be a year from now in so many ways. I wish there were a way I could do both jobs, but 40 hours/week is just not going to happen with working from home, not unless I somehow get a nanny or cook/maid. What would you do—stay with the permanent but more demanding and less prestigious job you have, or switch to the temporary (but still fairly long-term) less demanding yet "cooler" job you used to have? Even as I type that out, I realize that to some extent it's silly for me to ask for advice on this, since ultimately only I know the ins and outs of both jobs and which is a better fit for me. I guess part of it too is what my long-term goal is; do I want to transition back to full-time work, or do I want to eventually be a full-time SAHM? That seems to be the bigger question I'm dealing with here. Anyway, if you have ever had a difficult time choosing between job opportunities, I would really appreciate hearing how you made up your mind.

9. Actually, wait, no, there's one more. I put up our annual All Souls' Day banner!

I save funeral cards and prayer cards (images of the saints) throughout the year and hang them across our fireplace for the month of November. I like taking the opportunity to remember and honor those who have gone before us. I'm not super great at living the liturgical year in our home beyond the standard Advent wreath, Christmas tree, and saints' day celebrations, so this is one little thing I like to do in honor of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day.

I started doing this last year and didn't think too much of it at the time, but since then I've read some interesting articles about how the concept of death can be very scary for young children since their only association with it is Halloween and its ghosts and skeletons. I like to think this is a small way that our family can take the fear out of death—not trying to turn it into something positive, necessarily, but bringing the focus to honoring and remembering the dead in a healthy way. Hopefully I can keep up this tradition as the years go by!


  1. Congrats to Frank! Your family is awesome. It's true that only you know the specifics of your job dilemma - but I know several mamas who work/have worked from home while staying home with the kids. There are so many factors to take into consideration - asking yourself which job is ultimately going to make your life easier, in terms of which hours you'd work, financial security, fitting around Frank's schedule so you guys get to actually see each other, the specific demands of each job. As to not knowing the future - one of my favorite quotes is from C. S. Lewis is from the Screwtape Letters when he says that it is easy to get humans concerned about what *might* happen to them the future, over which they have no control, rather than having them focus on what they *ought* to do in the present moment. Which is all we have control over, really. Getting this new job offer dropped in your lap, it should be clear that you have no idea what the coming year will bring, and something just as fortuitous may as well happen when you need it a year from now. You have no control over that. Just on the surface I would think that the permanent job would be better unless the new one comes with sweet perks. But only you know in your gut what's best for your lil family right now. I'll keep you guys in prayer during this time of discernment. Also we should get together some time before we all freeze to death :)

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers, Kathryn. :) I love that comment from C.S. Lewis and really appreciate you sharing it. And yes, let's get together soon!!

  2. I don't mean to sound stalker-ish, but I know where the pumpkin farm is that you went to with your family!

    1. Ha, that's not stalker-ish! That's cool! Do you live near there?

  3. When I am faced with difficult decisions, where there aren't obvious yes and no answers, I have always used Ignatian discernment to help me choose 'discern' what is best for me at this point in my life - and by using this method I also trust that it is God who is showing me what is best for me. In a nutshell Igantian discernment involves prayerfully listing down all the pros and cons for each decision (even those that may seem childish or futile) and then faithfully allowing yourself to be guided as to which scenario brings interior peace. Perhaps this website can help you: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/making-good-decisions/discernment-of-spirits/

    1. Lilian, what a great way to look at it. Thank you for that helpful website link! I'll keep this in mind as I discern. :)

  4. All your pictures always make my heart burst! Frankie looks so sweet and happy. So glad that your family is experiencing such as abundance of goodness :) I have to say (finally *not* being in Chicago) - it almost seems a little strange to not have snow on Halloween now ;)

    1. Oh, JoAnna, thank you for this sweet comment! I love how you phrased that as "abundance of goodness." I actually quoted it to Frank last night to describe this moment in our lives.

  5. Hi Tess!
    A couple of months ago, I had to decide between two different internship opportunities, and seeing as I'm terribly indecisive, it was torture for me to have to make a choice! I had to go with my gut and just not worry about it. I really wished at the time that I could just have somebody else pick for me, but truthfully I was the only one who really knew myself and how I felt about both options. One of the better pieces of advice I've gotten about things like this is to try something on—to make a decision one way or the other, and then, before making it official, let it sit for a while. If you find yourself more anxious, re-think the decision; if you are at peace with it, it's probably the right fit. Good luck!

    1. That's great advice, Erin. Thanks. I hope I'll be able to do like you did and not worry about it once I decide!

  6. Love seeing Blessed Don Alvaro and Saint Josemaria Escriva on your All Souls' Day banner. What a great idea!

    1. Good eye, Monica!! Thanks, I'm glad you like it! :)

  7. What a great post! I enjoyed reading all the different items. Your Mom DOES NOT look like the Grandma! The lion costume is darling :) I'm hoping to meet Auntie Leila in a few days at the CIC in D.C. She is awesome. And finally, I'm inspired by your All Souls banner. I save all those cards as well and have them in a pretty tray on the table where we've made our "Little Oratory" (Auntie Leila's idea), but making a banner for November is genius. I'll be stealing your idea :)

    1. Thanks Colleen! haha, I will tell my mom that—you'll make her so happy! I'm so glad you like the banner idea. :) Have a great time at the CIC talk!!

  8. I make $20 for each 20 minute survey!

    Guess what? This is exactly what major companies are paying for. They need to know what their average customer needs and wants. So large companies pay $1,000,000's of dollars per month to the average person. In return, the average person, like me and you, answers some questions and gives them their opinion.