Liam and I celebrate six years together this month.  We’ve already exchanged gifts and I couldn’t be more excited because apparently the traditional sixth anniversary gift is candy.  Candy!  That’s so rad.

That Liam and I even met in the first place is definitely a nod to whichever universal force you choose to credit.  Considering the 1300 miles between the places that we grew up and the vast differences in our backgrounds it’s pretty crazy that we even had the opportunity to pair off in the first place.  If Liam hadn’t gone to college (he’s the first in his family) he wouldn’t have been able to be in the place and role where we met.  And if I didn’t have a wanderlust and love of a good cold winter I wouldn’t have either.

Neither of us were looking for a relationship when we met.  I was headed to graduate school in the near future and didn’t want to be conflicted or distracted about my choice.  And, believe it or not, Liam was contemplating a monastic life.   We both thought we would ‘settle down’ in our mid-30s, if at all.  Life is funny that way.  I never know how to respond when people ask me “but how did you know he was the one?” because the truth of the matter is I was never not sure.  In the moment I decided I liked this boy I also realized that we were going to be together forever.  That kind of sounds like tween fangirl talk but it’s exactly how things went down.  For both of us.

Our relationship isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s perfect for us.  I’m fiery and can start a fight about anything and he’s a cold-shouldered Yankee who can be more gruff than he realizes.  We don’t do big romantic gestures or write love notes or send flowers.  We’re both introverts and sometimes we’ll run out of things to talk about when we’re out to dinner.  (Years ago someone said something to me that made me feel terrible about that but now I think it’s just a reflection of who we are.)  Being together is easy, our relationship has been steady and that’s exactly what both of us wanted even if we didn’t know we were looking.

Even though last year’s anniversary was the first milestone that we reached, this year feels more significant.  This past year has been the hardest on us as individuals, and as a result I feel like we really grew up a lot together.  It isn’t so much that our marriage was tested though; that has been the constant and the comfort in a year full of changes both good and bad.  I can think of a few isolated things that would have been easier if I were a single person but the year as a whole would have been much, much tougher without Liam by my side.  So as cheesy as it might sound he and our relationship are what I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving.

We’re off for a super-quick Thanksgiving celebration with L’s family.  Sadly we have to head home right after the big meal because my employer has requested my presence in the office on Friday.  I guess it’s a mixed blessing since it means that I won’t be tempted by Black Friday shopping that I don’t need to partake in anyway because I’ve been done shopping for weeks.  I hope that you all have a wonderful and relaxing weekend with family and friends.  Safe travels!






Month(s) in Review: July, August, September, October (!!!) 2015

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Remember me?

This summer and early part of fall were fraught with stressors. And there were sad things, too: if you’ve been following along you’ll know a few of my family members passed away this summer. These are the first members of my parents’ generation to pass and it’s frightening in many ways.

Lots happened over the past few months that I didn’t want to dwell on (at the time) or remember in detail anymore. The sinking ship that was my mood and my life (so dramatic) finally righted itself toward the end of September. So, let me start there in catching you up on what has been going on around here lately.

1. We moved! I don’t just mean moved to a new apartment. I mean we moved states. And time zones! And climates (sob). That’s right; this is hello from New England! And yes, I already miss Chicago and its pizza.

2. New job! I was in an okay-but-not-great situation back in Chicago. I had a job that I was able to do mostly from home but that wasn’t related to my graduate degree. I got my new job as a direct result of what I studied in grad school – so, yay! I don’t think this is a permanent position for me (as in, I don’t expect to retire from the office I’m sitting in now) but I do think the job has the potential to propel me to that ‘forever’ job.

3. Job offer! Shortly after I began training for my current position I was actually offered another relatively local job. It would probably have required a move to be feasible in the long-term and it was slightly closer to what I dream of doing but there were a few factors that made the role I stayed in much more appealing. Still, I seriously considered switching and it was ultimately a very tough choice.

4. Interview offer! Immediately after I turned down the second offer I was asked if I was interested in interviewing for a third position. The interview will be later this winter. Job #3 is actually a blend of my current job and the one I turned down so I am going to take the interview if timing works in my favor. (If it doesn’t; no big deal.) I’ve never interviewed from a comfortable position before – I’ve always wanted out of the role that I was in, and I feel like I want that experience just so I’m comfortable the next time the situation arises. And I’m not just taking advantage of the opportunity; this is a job that I would also give serious consideration to if offered.

I typed this up on my lunch break and got distracted by the ocean view from my office. I’m going home to my small, quirky apartment that is walking distance from where I work. We may get lobster rolls while running errands on Saturday. My in-laws will likely come down this weekend for dinner and to see our new place. And though my family doesn’t (yet!) have tickets out here there is discussion of their coming once we start to thaw.  Things are very, very good right now.

Liam also had a very stressful summer at work and that was ultimately what pushed us into trying to relocate as quickly as possible. He is currently debating between two job offers here in New England. Neither are the dream job he thought he would have (something fell through; I haven’t pressed much) but both are good options for him while he looks for the next great match.

And that’s where we stand.  Hope things are well with you!

20 Questions

When I saw this questionnaire on Amy’s blog I knew I had to do it as well because these posts are some of my favorites to read.

1. Favorite food
As it grows?  Seedless grapes.  In terms of prepared food I love my mom’s cooking, especially when it’s moderately spicy and includes cheese and pasta.

2. Flip Flops or High Heels
Perhaps it’s on account of my height that I never feel like heels are necessary.  Even in the most formal or professional settings I am comfortable in flat shoes.  But if we’re talking heels vs. rubber flip flops, I’d say heels.

3. Favorite place to shop for yourself
The grocery store.  I realize that’s a strange answer, but one of the things I miss about being single is not having to take another person’s preferences into consideration when planning meals.  I love getting to be totally selfish at the grocery store.

4. Standard coffee order
Medium latte. Almond milk and almond flavor syrup if you have it.  Otherwise plain is good too.

5. Road trip must have snack
Liam is never responsible for road trip snacks because the first time we were taking a trip he packed carrots and apples. Hello!? Twizzlers and powdered donuts are totally necessary.

6. DIY or Hire it out
If I’m debating, hire it out. But we do a lot of stuff on our own.

7. Top 5 TV shows
Shoot, I don’t know if I’ve seen five full series: Gilmore Girls, Mad Men, Downton Abbey (after this year). I also love Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. I’ve seen all of House of Cards too, but it doesn’t count as a favorite.

8. Favorite Book
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley.

9. Favorite form of exercise
I like to be dripping in sweat and prefer if the activity involves a ball of some sort.  I love playing basketball but don’t have access to a league where I am.  For the record, dancing and cheering totally count as sports in my book but I’m on the fence about yoga.

10. How tall are you
5 foot 9 inches. I’ve always wished to be two inches taller or shorter than that because I’m right on the line between “regular” and “tall” sizes :/

11. Do you try something new at a restaurant or stick to favorites
If I’m a regular somewhere I tend to try out lots of things.  If I’m somewhere I probably won’t be going back to I tend to stick to favorite dishes.

12. One make up item you can’t live without
If Chapstick doesn’t count I don’t have an answer to this question!

13. What’s on your nightstand
I actually don’t have a nightstand. I’m a bit of an insomniac so I try not to have too much stimulation in my bedroom. Usually my iPad or a book is on the floor next to my bed though.

14. What’s one thing that motherhood has taught you
So this one clearly doesn’t apply but I just want to say that watching my friends become mothers is such a cool thing.

15. Music that reminds you of high school
There is so much music that reminds me of middle school and college but I’m trying hard and coming up short on high school…

16. If you could live anywhere in the world besides your current city, where would you live
Sydney, Dublin or Berlin.

17. Tell us something we might not know
I’m a hobby linguist. Dead languages are my jam.

18. Website you read/browse besides blogs
Politico, ThinkProgress, BBC,  I’m a political and news junkie.

19. Morning person or night owl
I can get on a roll with either one, but my body clock sure prefers to be a night owl. I’m not cranky in the mornings but sometimes waking up early is actually the toughest part of my day.

20. What’s your best feature
I’m trying really hard to embrace my natural hair. I have loose ringlet curls with a top layer that’s more frizzy-wavy (much like Hozier, my hair twin) that other people have always liked more than I did. But I also have perfect nail beds, so there’s that.

Let me know if you’ve done something like this.  I’d love to read your answers!

September shopping summary

Welcome back to another monthly shopping recap.  I’m linking up with Franish per usual.

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Banana Republic Sweater: I bought this sweater at the very end of August and it’s ever so slightly more blue-toned in person. Liam finds it old lady-esque, but that kind of makes me love it even more.  He was relieved to hear that I only forked over $6 for the thing (originally $80). The lavender is a very pretty color and it’s incredibly soft.

Citizen of Humanity Amber jeans: After my success last month I decided to hit the thrift store again and see whether there was anything good.  There was. Citizen of Humanity describes these as a mid-rise bootcut.  I’d agree with that assessment though I think the leg opening is slightly narrower than this picture (from the COH website) would suggest.  They were $6 because the Goodwill near my parents doesn’t have a good sense of designer denim brands.  Screen shot 2015-08-31 at 1.44.54 PM

Raspberry Skinny Jeans: I also bought a pair of raspberry-colored jeans on that same Goodwill trip.  I had been wanting a pair of burgundy pants for this fall/winter, and when I saw these for $5 I decided they were close enough.  These are by Calvin Klein Jeans, which I think is the line they sell through Macy’s though I could be mistaken.  Perhaps they’re from an outlet store?  The only regular retail pair of burgundy jeans that I had come across to this point was from LOFT and I think their quality is generally pretty poor so I really wasn’t too keen on them at all.

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if any of you know of a nail polish this color, please let me know!!  I’ve been looking for a while and everything I find winds up either burgundy or true pink.

I also went through my closet and tossed or donated (as was fitting) items that I am no longer wearing.  A few tees had either worn down or gotten holes, and I also started going through my corporate office clothes since I’m in need of far fewer of those now that I work from home.  It’s a tough process because even though I have far more options than I need now I don’t know if or when I’ll be permanently called back to working from our local office.

The Giving Tree

Your husband has abandoned you (again) for an extended stint of time. There’s no telling how long he will be gone, as per usual.  You live very modestly in post-developing world-poverty with three children of your own and suddenly two more arrive at your door.

Though you have no idea who they are, the girls sheepishly acknowledge that they are aware of your existence and identity. When they see your confusion they explain that they are from your husband’s other family and that he has abandoned them as well. Their circumstance is much more dire than yours; they literally have nothing.

And because it is exactly who you are you take these pre-teens into your home and raise them as your own. Husband, the father of all five children in your life flits in and out of your world seemingly without apology or care.

When the oldest of the children is 17 or 18 you realize that there is absolutely no way your family can continue its existence without a major shake up. So you leave for the United States and work tirelessly caring for children as you have your entire adult life.

They may not be your own, but you love and attach to these children in the same way that you attached to your “step-children” several years before. You tirelessly raise babies and keep houses while sending nearly every penny to your family back home.

When the last of those foreign children enters college you return home to the children and grandchildren of your own family and spend your last few years enmeshed in the people you had to leave behind.  You, Abuela, pour the last of your life into these grandchildren because you are full of love and feel deeply that it is your purpose and calling to spread as much as possible while on this earth.  

Abuela is not my grandmother nor was she my caretaker.  But shortly after my aunt passed away my family lost another special soul that we’re closely connected to.  The snippets of her life story above should give you an idea of how selfless she really was.  To me she is the giving tree personified because every moment of her life was spent caring for and looking to the well-being of others.  Dealt an incredibly tough hand she lived a truly incredible life and I am so very lucky to have known her.

Sounds like lightening.


If you looked at the weather radar during the night of August 18th you would have seen that the worst weather in all of North America was centered over the greater Chicago area. In fact, for a good portion of that evening the most severe parts were centered right over neighborhood.

Right before Liam left work (approximately 5pm) he texted me that our area was in a tornado watch until 10pm. I’m not sure how it is elsewhere, but at least in Chicago those watches are issued pretty freely – a good thing! – and this was at least the fifth or sixth this summer. Tornados can happen rapidly and without warning (see: Plainfield, IL tornado of 1990) but only under very specific weather conditions.

Liam got home and we had dinner and sort-of forgot about the watch and went about normal evening tasks.

And then.

At 7:22 pm we heard tornado sirens. To me they mean: get in building’s basement and turn on the television. To someone who is experiencing them for the first time and has only the movie Twister as his point of reference for what happens next this was a Very Frightening Thing.

Most of our building headed into the basement and we turned on the local news looking for the weather. I’ve mentioned before that we live pretty far out in the suburbs, and when we were looking for news reports we had to go to a super-local channel to get anything because the main stations hadn’t switched over from regular programming. This was mildly comforting until we looked at the map.

The red cone of danger was centered right over us (seriously – over the nearest intersection!) and extended southeast to my parents’ current home and northeast to the area I grew up in where we still have many friends.

My family has a group text message and as soon as I messaged out to say Liam and I had heard sirens and were in the basement my mom responded that they had heard sirens and were in their own basement as well. My siblings both checked in: one of them was far to the south of the watch and the other said they were in the watch zone and paying attention but that not much was happening.

For 20 minutes we heard lots of thunder and lightening but the sirens weren’t continuous and even the local local weather station signed off their coverage of the storm to go back to regular programming. What i understand is that the sirens went off because there were “winds capable of rotation” very near us but that nothing materialized and they weakened enough to end the watch. I updated the family, we fist-bumped with building neighbors before heading upstairs and settled in to watch the storms. I think this was right about 7:50.

At a few minutes after 8:00 there were more sirens. Hi-ho, hi-ho; it’s back downstairs we go.  If you thought Liam would be more comfortable the second time around you were most incorrect.  However, the overall mood was significantly more joyous this time because there was one really excited bunch of kids who were able to avoid bedtime because of the storms.

This time our sirens stayed on longer and all of the main channels were carrying the weather. There were reports of rotations immediately to our north and south. At some point my parents checked in to say that their area hadn’t heard sirens but were put back under the warning zone for all of three minutes. Our power flickered several times but never went off. We heard a really loud bang of what we thought was thunder. Within the next few minutes the warning either expired or was cancelled because the storm was weakening; I don’t remember which.

At Liam’s request we slept in the family room with the weather channel on just so we’d be aware of what was going on if we were awoken by sirens. I don’t think the poor kid slept for more than 20 minutes at a time that night. Having been through the song and dance a few times before I didn’t really think much about the events of the night except to say a prayer of thanks that there was apparently very minimal damage as a result of the storms.

Being the more rested of the two I volunteered to take our dog out the next morning. I swung our building door open and my jaw dropped open. Lightening struck a tree not five feet from our building. Bark shot off of the tree in all directions, and though it didn’t fall over the tree was splintered into lots of thin strips where the lightening must have hit. It looked a lot like pulled chicken if that’s any sort of helpful reference. Our building does not have a lightening rod (it should!) so we feel very, very lucky.

Liam called his mother when he was on the way to work the next morning to tell her that we were fine, and about the lightening strike. Apparently she and my FIL were watching the weather on the nightly news and my normally very reserved FIL shouted at the tv “OH YEAH…HOW DOES HE LIKE IT NOW!?!??” in reference to our current residence.  We hear you FIL; we hear you.

Cross another item off of the Authentic Midewestern Experience list for Liam because his tornado experience was definitely the real deal.  Luckily there was very little damage that night – I believe about 30,000 lost power and there was some flooding and damage from a few lightening strikes…overall a very quiet night for such a stormy one.

August Shopping Summary

Before I start talking about clothes I want to thank you for all of the nice comments and messages that were left on the post about my aunt and her passing.  I didn’t mean for the blog to stay quiet for quite so long but here we are.  Given that this link-up is something I participate in every month I thought it would be a good way to get back into the groove.

Yay fall?  It seems now would be the appropriate time to comment on how excited I am for the change of seasons because OMGFALL is almost here but I don’t actually want this summer to end.  I’m currently sitting in Paenra, eating soup in a bread bowl while wearing flats, jeans and long sleeves and thinking about how not ready I am for all of this.

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Purchased: Banana Republic Striped Tee; $23  ($45)
Don’t buy this.  The fabric is terribly pill-y and looks quite cheap only after two wears.  I bought it knowing that it wouldn’t last forever but I didn’t expect it to be as crappy as it is.

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Purchased: Banana Republic Ashley ballet flat in cognac; $37.50 ($98)
Buy these.  These are extremely comfortable flats (decent padding and good fit on my slightly narrow foot) and were under $40. I wear a lot of navy and just don’t like black leather with navy, especially because my bag is navy as well.

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Thrifted: Sam Edelman Etiene Loafers in gray-beige (not ivory); $5 ($130?) 

I’m a pretty common size (9) and never seem to find anything at all in my size, much less anything good in thrift stores.  I took a chance with these shoes because there is a bit of a scuff on the front of the left shoe that I’m going to try and get out.  ETA: Success!  The vaseline trick worked perfectly!  


I also bought a pair of corduroys and a skirt secondhand that haven’t arrived yet so I’ll include them in next month’s roundup.

I had a lot of time this month to poke around on ThredUp and ebay, as well as drop in to the mall now and again.  My parents are still working through downsizing their things and I also spent most weekends hauling household goods to Goodwill and browsing while I waited.  Liam goes on another term break at the beginning of September and a charity event that I’m part of takes place at the end of the month so shopping will be the last thing on my mind for the most part.  We’ll see how that goes.