1. Hazel and I found a wallet on the sidewalk. Inside was a license, $5, a high school badge, a couple of credit cards…and um, a fake ID (Fake ID for a high schooler? Really?) We did our recon and got the wallet back to its rightful owner. I took the opportunity to teach Hazel about what it means to be a good samaritan….and then to deliver a preemptive lecture on underage shadiness ;)
2. During my morning commute: I was having very little luck getting a taxi, and then a nice man on the opposite corner flagged one down and called across to me - You take this one. It was really nice of him.
3. The ladies at MORE cupcake handed Felix a just-her-size cupcake. She felt so special.
4. While brainstorming with a coworker, she created a persona to try and tell the story from a user’s pov. She named her hypothetical internet searcher “Hazel.” It was such a small but thoughtful thing - and it made me smile for the remainder of our working session. I will remember to do this for others in the future.
5. I’ve been brutally sick this week…like couldn’t get out of bed, sick. I called my mom and the next thing I knew, she swooped me up, took me to the doctor, picked up my favorite fresh squeezed grapefruit juice and tucked me back into bed, with the blinds drawn. I may be all grown up…but I will always need my mama.
6. I gave two peer bonuses last week. Peer bonus are one of my more favorite work perks - every quarter my company gives each employee a budget to recognize our peers for doing good work. I love celebrating good work and I love that my company empowers me to do so.
7. While waiting for the elevator the other morning, I saw Hazel come charging down the apartment building hallway (unaccompanied and unexpected). In a full toddler-gallop, with her arms outstretched she yelled “One more kiss! One more hug!" That tender moment was short lived because I had to follow-up the embrace with a “you can’t actually just leave the apartment by yourself” talk!
8. Felix spent last Wednesday with Grandma A , while Hazel got some solo time with Grandma H. Both girls came home with their toes painted pink. Their grandmas embody all that is good and kind.
9. Piglet chocolates from Mimi. TK chocolates from Jamie.
10. During a particularly stressful moment this past weekend, my husband grabbed my hand under the table and gave it a squeeze. A little gesture that said so much….it said: I’ve got you, babe.
I was browsing through my archives last night and came across this post I wrote a few years ago….and wanted to reshare for no other reason than because it seemed like a nice story to tell again on this lovely spring day. xo
Last night, I was up late doing some work and Simon had ESPN on while packing boxes.
They interrupted Sports Center to show the last inning of what was shaping up to be a no-hitter for Angel’s pitcher, Jared Weaver. 3 outs was all he needed to be only the 10th pitcher in the history of the franchise to throw a no-hitter.
The cool part, and the reason I am writing about this, I suppose… is that his parents just so happened to be in the crowd watching.
You could read his mom like an open book. She covered her mouth, clenched her eyes, fidgeted about with a nervousness you could almost feel through the television screen. The people she was with (perhaps they were new friends she made at the game), kept rubbing her shoulders for support… there was no mistaking that this was the pitcher’s mother.
His dad, however, was completely stoic. He sat motionless (save for the gulp of beer he slammed after the second out) with his body pressed against the back of his ballpark chair wearing a blank expression usually reserved for watching paint-dry or something equally banal, but there was a rigidity…a tension in his body told an entirely different story. I can’t be sure but I’d be willing to bet we was living every second on that mound with his son. That was his little boy up there.
God, can you imagine?
the wind-up. the release. the moment of quiet as the ball travels to the plate (outcome yet to be determined) All things witnessed thousands of times in their backyard over a lifetime …now set against a very different backdrop - a major league ballpark.
I have no vested interest in the Angels, but in that moment I put down my laptop and rooted for that no-hitter with all my heart Not for the pitcher (who’s name I had to Google this morning) but for his mom and dad… the only people in the world who wanted it more than even their son himself.
Jared Weaver pitched a no-hitter last night. As his teammates rushed the mound, the camera cut to his parents - now cheering and hugging It was an image of pure joy.
One month ago today we came home from vacation to a flooded house.
Since then we have taken up temporary residence in one terrible hotel, one fancy hotel and, most recently, a highrise apartment that will be home base for the next 3-6 months.
Our sublet is located directly across the street from the apartment where we used to live, back before we bought our house. From our old living room, we watched as this building was built…then watched as families inhabited the modern, floor-to-ceiling windowed spaces. I remember spending many warm nights sitting on our balcony hoping that someday we might get to live in this very space. From the outside it seemed so chic. The reality, of course, is much less grand. (life lesson #1)
That’s not to say our apartment isn’t nice. It is lovely. 3 bedrooms. Self-closing drawers. There is a pool, which will be delightful if this eternal winter ever lets up. (you are all invited for a swim!)
But still, it isn’t home.
We brought over our art a milkcrate of records and more books. That helped
Progress on our actual house has been SO MUCH SLOWER than I could have ever imagined. Any by progress, I mean - no progress. We are still finalizing estimates from the different sets of adjusters. Once we have that, we can begin the actual fix-it process. Dealing with the admin piece of a house tragedy is in and of itself, a full time job (which has to be done on top of the full+ time jobs we already have.)
To be candid, I think we have done an alright job navigating this whole situation. Alright….Not great.
It’s not that the house ordeal in and of itself was enough to break us down - because really, at the end of the day, it’s just stuff. The bigger thing at play, I think, is that before this all happened, I felt like I was already stretched as thin as could be…like I was running on empty…like I was just barely keeping my shit together. And then, we got this news and without warning we had to conjure up incremental energy/time/money/patience to shoulder this massive burden. All while being totally out of balance.
That knocked the wind out of me.
But that thing they say is true… That thing about how you are never given more than you can handle. (life lesson #2) And, unsurprisingly, we found the strength needed to navigate our first 30 days in limbo.
It hasn’t been all gloom, of course - we’ve had some wonderful times over the past month. We’ve made great memories, explored new corners and had some truths reinforced:
Teamwork makes the dream work.
The generosity of our loved ones is humbling.
The strength of our support system is staggering.
A home cooked meal is love on a plate
Movie night and a shared bowl of popcorn is an effective antidote for extreme stress
A nighttime swim is our most valuable parental bargaining chip
Pain manifests itself in many different ways. Just because someone’s version of “hurt” doesn’t look like yours doesn’t mean it is any less valid. (life lesson #3)
My goal from the beginning was to make this whole thing an adventure. That was naive, I think. We needed time to feel displaced and frustrated and overwhelmed… needed time to process.
But now, as we move into month 2, the worst part is behind us. It is time to REBUILD and we will focus on doing so with an attitude of gratitude and that spirit of adventure that makes us, US!
"You are going to be spending a lot of time working, so you better love what you do. And I’ve switched my career a couple of times, and I think that that was what gave me my North Star—you have to love what you do. Because you’re trying to inspire a lot of other people, you’re spending a lot of time doing it, and it’s got to be rewarding."
Yesterday morning, Hazel called out “Hi There!” to the doormen as she emerged from the revolving door (It should be no surprise that Hazel has become the best of buddies with our hotel staff over the past week or so.)
While waiting for our car, the following conversation ensued. (captured exactly as I remember…)
Hazel: That’s silly. He’s got two! Me: two what? Hazel: Two whistles! She points to the taxi whistle hanging on a lanyard around the doorman’s neck. (To the doorman) Do you have two whistles?
Doorman: I do! Do you have a whistle? Hazel: I have one whistle. But I don’t know where it is. Actually, it is in my house. My house got flooded. Did you know that?
My whistle doesn’t go on my neck. It is different. I have a Captain Von Trapp Whistle. It is hard to blow. You have to blow like this (she mimics the whistle pattern the Captain makes as his children march in.)
I have goggles that hang on my neck.
Me: Goggles? Do you mean binoculars?
Hazel: Oh, yeah. Binoculars. That’s silly. My sister has….um….a binocular necklace too. I have a butterfly one. Felix has um…a different one. A different green one.
Doorman: Should I get binoculars to hang on my neck?
Hazel: No. That’s alright. Hey, what the heck is going on there? (She points to the statue of the man holding an umbrella standing) Ha. He’s Frozen!
Ah. Hazel’s car is here. Ok, Bye! Have a GREAT day everyone.
And with that, she gave the staff a wave and redirected her attention to climbing into the car, all by herself (of course).
The doormen smiled big and waved goodbye warmly.
Kids are funny (er, especially when they are your own… :) But Hazel really is a character. She makes people laugh. Me included.
I share this story to capture a conversation my girl had her last day as a two year old.
I can only imagine what THREE will hold for her….for us. She is so silly.
The girls are disoriented They sense our displacement, even if they don’t understand all the details.
We are currently in an extended stay hotel (coordinated & covered by insurance). We are grateful to have accommodations, but the set-up is far from ideal. (“Eloise at the Plaza,” this is not)
On Sunday night after Felix was asleep and Simon left to get take-out from down the street, Hazel and I sat on the floor, in a random nook of the unfamiliar room (bc toddlers love nooks) and talked.
I physically got down on her level and used the simplest terms I could to explain to her what happened to our house & our plans for what’s next.
I asked her how she was feeling. Her exact response: "I am confused & sort of frustrated" Me too, Hazel. I told her.
I offered to answers to any questions she might have… She had 3:
Are we in Chicago or Colorado? This question sort of broke my heart - it revealed just how off-balance my almost 3 yr old is feeling and something I hadn’t thought to explicitly address before.
Did a storm come inside Hazel’s house? No Hazel. The “rain” came from the upstairs bathroom and it fell all the way down our house.
Are all of my high heels wet and ruined? Oh Hazel, they were wet….but they are plastic, so it wasn’t hard to dry them. ( I offered to bring a few pairs to the hotel - which perked her up considerably) ((unsurprisingly, I had a very similar thought when I first heard the news))
She seemed satisfied with this newly acquired information. Comforted, perhaps. It was a good talk, I think. I went to bed Sunday night feeling encouraged…like maybe a positive attitude was all I needed to get my family through this situation.
But then Last night didn’t go terribly well. We had to eat out again - dinner was chaotic and the girls didn’t touch their food. We tried to take a night walk but they were having no part of it and then bedtime was a HOT MESS. I think all four of us had tears well-up at some point last night.
Simon & I let our frustration (confusion) show. That’s not what our girls need right now. They are going through a lot too - I can’t underestimate the stress they must be feeling.
Today is a new day…and we will try again. Try to do better.
Parenting isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, but I am learning that parenting through the tough stuff is particularly hard. Even so, I am immensely thankful for my family….we are a little team and I know we will get through this together.
As you can imagine, this whole thing has been both heartbreaking and totally overwhelming.
I am feeling sort of paralyzed right now…. Like, I have no idea what to do next.
So, if anyone out there has been through a similar situation, I’d be most appreciative of ANY advice/tips/reccos you are willing to share!
How do we navigate the insurance claims process? How do we go about quantifying the magnitude/cost of lost items? (Any advice on best practices for documenting these things?) How do we find a good contractor (Have you got a name of anyone in Chicago?) How do we survive a busted temporary living situation with 2 toddlers?
Please share anything you’ve got for me… I’m all ears! Thank you. Thank you.
3 days ago, we woke up to a call from our doorman - a pipe had burst. Water had been running from the 4th floor of our house for 2 days. While we were on vacation, our home flooded - top to bottom.
Getting the news that your home is ruined is just as terrible as you might imagine. It was the worst feeling I have felt in my life.
After a good cry, Simon and I spent the next 8 hours trying to sort out Now What? My uncle did a walk-though and gave us the lowdown. It wasn’t good. We called our insurance company and the fix-it ball got rolling. He recommended a water restoration team. They were was at our place within 2 hours, cleaning-up. They first protected all the stuff that could be saved. Then started on the demolition. Ceilings, Drywall, Floors, Carpets & Cabinets removed. A plumber came out. As did the furnace repair man Followed by 5 days of ALL THE FANS TURNED ON.
(Simon was ready to head home to quarterback clean-up efforts, but by the time he could get back to Chicago, “drying” was the only thing on the agenda.)
I am immensely grateful we were with family as the situation unfolded. They took care of us….and supported us as we processed things. We skied hard to try and distract ourselves and had extra apres-cocktails Both helped…but neither worked, really. The pit in our stomachs persisted. It was this nauseating combination of dread & fear about what was waiting for us back at home.
Yesterday we left the mountains. My heart started racing the moment the wheels touched down in Chicago. We sent the girls to my p’s apartment while we went to inspect the damage. We didn’t want the kiddos to see the house in this condition. I didn’t know how jarring it would be.
The answer: Jarring. And really really sad.
I was not prepared for what I saw when I walked in. Our house was unrecognizable. It was like….our house was there, but our home was gone.
I am doing my best to keep things in perspective. (Everything can be fixed. We have insurance. At least the living room wasn’t destroyed. Etc) And to keep things as emotionally unloaded as possible, But honestly, it’s hard.
As we were about to leave the house and head to our temporary living situation (an extended stay hotel), I peeked under one of the plastic tarps and I spotted something that made me smile. Sitting on the floor, was our fishbowl and in it - Hazel’s fish, Fred. He survived! In that moment, it was a meaningful victory. A reminder that life goes on.
We will get through this, I have no doubt. It’s not going to be fun or easy, but in a few months life will return to normal (I hope). In the meantime, I want to sincerely thank everyone who has reached out with kind words and offers to help (I may take some of you up on your dinner invites!)
Your friendship and support has been much appreciated Much needed.
Hazel wasn’t tired last night…. Instead fighting a bedtime tantrum, I offered to keep her company. (I’m coming off another spell of around-the-clock meeting prep and business trips - so I was in need of some quality time with my girl)
I crawled in bed with Z and by the glow of the nightlight, I told her Auntie Ellen stories. Those are her favorite.
She is partial to the one where El gets lost in the woods… and chased by a bear But I am tired of that one. I have told it a million times, at least.
I racked my brain for some new material. And then, like lightening, I was struck by a genius idea. (One that I couldn’t BELIEVE hadn’t crossed my mind before). I knew it was going to be a crowd-pleaser before the words even came out of my mouth….
I told Hazel a great pair of stories:
The one where Auntie Ellen played Belle in her 4th grade play & The one where Auntie Ellen played Ariel in her 5th grade play.
(Musicals + Disney Princesses + Aunt Ellen. Pure Gold!)
I told Hazel about how Ellen brought the house down with her tour de force performance how she sang more beautifully than all of the matilda’s put together, how she looked even more radiant in her ball gown costume than Belle does in the movie and how I was so proud of my little sister that I was the first one on my feet for the standing ovation and how I clapped so hard, my hands actually stung.
Hazel asked if Ellen swam on stage when playing Ariel. No, she didn’t swim…but she did sashay, I explained.
She asked if Ellen’s Belle gown had sequins on it Millions! I assured her.
Then Hazel asked if I brought Ellen flowers…. Did I bring her flowers?! Did I bring her flowers?! You betcha! I was so moved by her performance that I threw a garden worth of roses on to the stage as she took her bows and I delivered a bouquet taller than Felix to El’s dressing room during intermission.
Hazel liked this response.
My goal in telling Auntie Ellen stories is obviously to entertain my girls - but more importantly these stories are a way for me to reinforce the message I wrote to Hazel the day before Felix was born:
This eternal winter is taxing on everyone… But the toddler set gets hit particularly hard by cabin fever in weather like this.
On Saturday, Simon and I were determined to come up with an (indoor) activity where the kids could run around freely and didn’t have to keep quiet. Simon suggested the Garfield park Conservatory. Free. Warm. New to Us. Sold!
I built up excitement by telling the girls we were going to the jungle. When Hazel asked if Mowgli was going to be there….I went with it, and was inspired to turn the entire adventure into an elaborate hunt for Sher Kahn & Baloo. It was a TOTAL HIT.
We searched for the fictional tiger in the tropical greenhouse - then made our way through the lush paths, past the waterfall, beyond the Koi pond & wishing well…then finally over the bridge to the Children’s Garden.
This outing was EXACTLY what we needed. And the conservatory solidly earned a top spot (right next to or North Park Village Nature Center) for best pocket of nature in the city.
I don’t know about you, but our January was brutal….
What with all the polar vortices, runny noses and the Olympus sized mountain of work Simon and I attempted to climb. I spent the better part of those 31 days tired, stressed and COLD.
So when I found myself with a free weekend, I jumped at the chance to join my mama & gp’s down in Miami. (Simon was prepping for a trial, so he couldn’t get away, but he was all for the idea of a “girls weekend” - and even helped us pack our bags!)
We enjoyed 5 days of South Beach Sun and time together.
Beach. Pool. Park. Repeat.
I Watched my girls play at the water’s edge, and my heart swelled. They chased waves and birds, Collected seashells and seaweed They hauled buckets (and cups and caps) full of sand all over that beach - two pint-sized builders on a mission.
Joy radiated from my daughters. And for the first time all year, I was warm.