Sweet Mandy B's

Jul 30, 2013

Armed with the excuse that we’re moving, we keep finding ourselves elbow-deep in our guiltiest pleasures of Chicago.
I mean, we are sparing no caloric expense, here.
Today alone has included my favorite quiche from Floriole, our favorite Chicago-style deep dish pizza from Peoquods, and, of course, cupcakes from our favorite bakery. 

Hello, Sweet Mandy B’s.

One simply cannot enter this bakery and be in a bad mood. I love it here on the weekends when everyone is picking up cakes before heading to parties, and I love it on a quiet weekday afternoon when people are slowly enjoying their treats like the delicacies that they are.

I've heard it's possible to overdose on the buttery goodies here, but it hasn't yet happened for us.

I wonder if they ship to San Francisco?

Father's Day 2013

What can I say, he's a lucky guy.

Less because he's married to me and the father of these adorable gems.... But more because his amazing wife and adorable gems take him here to eat.

Welcome to Publican Quality Meats.

Where the swine and foul are fresh (?) and the men are happy. Because in all honesty, what says 'I love you' more than a good sausage selection?

Happy Father's Day, babe. You are certainly a cut above the rest.

Nomadic Motherhood

Jul 9, 2013

We’ve moved. A lot.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining I actually like moving. I like packing, I like purging, and I simply love reorganizing my kids’ closets as well as my own. Chris’ closet is on its own. Oh, and I simply love a new space in which to rearrange furniture and decorate (just ask my husband who comes home to a house full of rearranged furniture for no reason other than I had an undeniable urge to switch things up).
But while the prospect of moving always excites me, I’m never quite prepared for how emotional I’ll get once our house is packed and looks so empty. As a mother of young children, I am entirely too aware of how precious this time is while they are young, and like most mothers, can’t get in and out of a cafe to grab coffee without some well meaning mother of grown children reminding me, “these days are the good days, sweetheart, and they go so quick.”
So with this mantra in the back of my mind, I look at an empty house that was once so alive with a flurry of activity. I remember pancake batter all over the floor, little boy underwear strewn about, tears being shed while we contemplate a trip to the emergency room, and the precious corner that held the blocks – and my boys – for hours on end each and every day. And now, with everything again being packed into boxes, it feels like I am saying goodbye to those memories.
More acutely, it feels like I am closing the door on a piece of my little ones’ childhood that I will never ever again get to savor.
Many people know what it is like to close the door on one house in which they have lived 5-10 years, and say goodbye to the memories of half a decade that are now wrapped in a neat little bow. But because we tend to move regularly, our memories are scattered, choppy, and it doesn’t feel good. Each goodbye is an attempt to wrap up the memories of a house that held us for so short a period, yet encompassed such poignant memories. The condo where we were first married and brought home our first babies. Then the house where we brought home our third baby. Then the houses where each little one took their first steps and the houses on whose steps we took the obligatory first day of school pictures.
I write this as I contemplate closing yet one more chapter on our little lives. But this time is different because we aren’t just bouncing to a new Chicago neighborhood, as we’ve done so many times before. We are moving across the country. It feels even more scattered, Like, God, are we ever going to settle down? Will we ever have a driveway? Will we ever watch the neighbor kids grow up and be invited to a block party?
And then God whispers in my ear, ever so quietly. “Booooooooooring.”

And I know that God has given a heart to accompany my husband’s, and that we are both craving more adventures before we settle down. Like a flood, I feel relief that we are off to start a new chapter in this crazy life. And I am overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude that we are bringing with us the most important things that any of those four walls held. Plenty of spilled pancake batter, tears, and block-building skills are coming with us.

mama's boys

Jul 13, 2011

anytime my husband or my sitter have the kids, i stand in line at Starbucks and no one says anything to me. but when i have my boys... whether at Starbucks, the grocery store, or any other public location... people warm up. smile at the cuties. ask questions. start conversations. i love that about having kids, we moms can all relate on some level because we just know we are the toughest people out there.

but what i could do without are the comments of shock, amusement, and downright concern when they look inside the carseat to see .... GASP ... i have three boys?!?! oh my, how did that happen?

first, i don't get why three boys should elicit responses of shock and disbelief from total strangers. it's not like three boys is that odd. but from the looks on their faces, you'd have thought i birthed a unicorn, a fairy, and a two-headed monster.

what is more i don't usually get comments of general observation, "oh wow, three boys! you have your hands full!" i bet every mom gets these. instead i get these comments ridden with the suggestion that i'm unhappy with boys or wish i had a girl.

"three boys, how did that happen?" "awwww, you just never get to buy anything pink, do you?" today in Costco, i got: "three boys? i'll pray for you!" then there's one i get just about every time i go in public.... "so are you gonna try for a girl?" what does that even mean to "try for a girl"? if you know of some maneuver to pull during the baby making process that will predict gender, my friend, you should get that move patented. you are sitting on a gold mine. and besides, who says i even WANTED a girl?*
*i totally wanted a girl.

but what really kills me about these comments is the thought that one day my boys will be old enough to notice them. and for the first time, the thought could cross their little minds ... "what if i'm not what mom wanted? what if mom wishes she had had a girl instead of me?" my sweet boys are all i could ever want. and more. and i hate that random well-meaning comments could make one of them might think that i'd have wanted anything other than them. just as they are.

sure, i was disappointed when i thought i saw little boy parts on my third ultrasound as visions of prom and wedding dress shopping fled my mind. but i cried, got over it, and have never looked back. i am so excited each of my boys and what they will mean to one another. i can't imagine life without my sister and they are each doubly blessed. two boys are brothers. three boys are a camaraderie.

and of course... i will always have my three boys to thank when chris notices too many Nordstrom charges on the credit card statement and i can flippantly say, "don't worry, honey. we'll never have to pay for a wedding."

bait and hook... in life, love, and fishing

Jul 11, 2011

the night i met chris he sat down at a table with me and my roommate outside fresh choice, a smoothie place in chicago. sure, he was cute, but the fact he just sat down with us and made himself at home seemed audacious. he was talking about being hungry and tired because he had come from a bachelor party weekend at the lake and had gone straight to a basketball game or something. then, the words escaped from his lips that made me stop mid-smoothie: "blah, blah, blah .... and i haven't showered in 3 days."

what? what was that? you haven't showered in 3 days? i immediately couldn't get enough of this guy. "you are cute but dirty and you don't care about it?" i was in. love.

and if any of you know chris, one thing is clear about that night. i was duped.

i love my husband. he is bold, caring, loyal and generous. he is kind, funny and thoughtful. but he is also particular. and clean. and quite particular about being clean. i have no idea who this unkempt man at the smoothie shop i met was, but he does not sleep in my bed every night.

now what's that you say? why was i into a guy who hadn't showered in the first place? well, let's just say... i'm weird like that. while keeping up on my blonde highlights may present the facade of an equally clean and particular woman, it's just that. a facade. i actually don't wash my hair more than once (maybe twice) a week. i can burp the ABC's faster than my toddler can recite them. i eat things off the floor (unless we're talking a bathroom floor), and i don't wear deodorant. unless it is a day when i happen to be wearing a strapless dress to a wedding. going to a wedding in a cap sleeve dress? no deodorant. going out to a nice dinner in a strapless dress? no deodorant. going to a wedding in a strapless dress? why, deodorant, of course.

plus, i am not saying i am into gross guys. lest visions of animal house flood your mind, let me remind you there is a kind of guy who wouldn't shower and still be cute. you know exactly what i'm talking about... mr. big? he showers. jack berger? he probably showers. aleksandr petrovsky? he definitely showers. but aidan, oh, aidan... i doubt you shower more than once a week and you probably carry the deliciously faint aroma of pine. with just a hint of old spice.

anyway. back to my husband who may or may not ask me if i've washed my hands whenever i borrow his laptop... he is particular about his hygiene. this is not to say he is limp wristed or wussy. he is not afraid of noises downstairs in the middle of the night. and he will try to catch the mouse in our house in order to beat it dead with a golf club. he is just particular.

and what do you know? our firstborn is the same way.

austin will cry if i put his shoes on when the seams of his socks are not perfectly straight. he will whine if his sleeves get caught in his coat arms, and then wail if the amount of shirt sleeve sticking out on both sides of his coat is not equal. and heaven forbid i hold his sunglasses wrong and get them all "fingerprinty and dirty." hell hath no fury. and fingerprinty is not even a word.

and then there is graham... clearly, genetic lines have been drawn in the family.

so when i saw the pictures of my boys fishing, the whole experience made me crack. up. first, it is noteworthy that chris invited his grandfather down to fish with them at the pier, and i'm fairly confident it was because chris didn't want to be the one hooking the worms.

but the pictures are amazing. the pictures are so. them.

austin and graham. austin, the particular one standing back. not touching the worms or paying attention to what he is doing, just critiquing graham on his fishing pole etiquette.

and this is about as close as austin will get to a fish.

then there is graham. graham, the bold and careless wonder who digs in the dirt to pull out the longest and grossest worms he can find just to see how far they will stretch before ripping in half. and if you can't tell, graham has clearly honed his skills in tuning out the voice of austin.

clearly we have done little to give them different upbringings, so these two right here can decisively settle the eternal nature vs. nurture debate. but one thing i know for sure...

if austin ever tries to pick up a girl by telling her that he doesn't use hand sanitizer, i'm going to become a whistleblower faster than you can say fingerprinty.

our own flesh and blood

Jul 8, 2011

chris and i both have amazing families. we have families, who, upon seeing our boys, will drop anything and everything to spend time with our boys. our parents, our brothers, our sisters. all of them love our boys with a love that i can't even begin to describe.

and if your family is anything like my family... or like chris' family... loving on our little guys also means soaking in every bit of their little faces. their laughs. their personalities. their dimples. their chub.

which, inevitably, leads to a discussion that could be started with any of the following....

"austin is the spitting image of his father." "graham is the spitting image of his mother." "my goodness, carter is fat." "carter has rubber-band wrists and cankles... just like austin did!!" "graham reminds me of his uncle, brian." "austin reminds me of his uncle, adam." "carter is the same size as his uncle, alex!" "oh wow, carter has dimples... just like austin... and just like chris!" "oh wow, austin and carter have dimples just like their uncle adam!" "my goodness, carter looks just like austin!" "my goodness, carter looks just like graham!"

and it is. all. true.

these little offspring of ours tend to have similarities everyone can pick up on... but for reasons that are obvious, the Petrich's are ignorant to the fact that these little boys might have Hill tendencies and the Hills are ignorant to the fact that these little boys might have Petrich tendencies.

so i decided to put out some objective comparisons. there is no right or wrong answer. just funny observations.

here is chris. and austin.

here is graham. and me.

again here is graham... now next to chris' brother, brian.

then here is my brother, adam. next to austin.

here is graham at 3 months. and his little cousin savvy at 3 months.

or carter next to graham, both at 4 months.

and then there are some observations that no one can dispute.

graham got his father's sense of style.

and carter got his mother's thighs....

but what if graham and austin, who share no common DNA whatsoever from what we can tell, don't really look all that much like their mom? or their dad? and what if carter just looks like carter? what if he doesn't look or act anything like his brothers and wants to be his own big deal?

i think we'd still claim they did.

it is part of being a family. to know you share blood, genes, and DNA. we exist because of our families and our offspring exist because of us. so our way of celebrating that fact is to identify with our babies. love them. compare with them.

but like i said, none of the observations are objective and none are necessarily true. sometimes these little dudes remind us of ourselves or our siblings when they were young, but they are fleeting glimpses held by a subjective observer. what matters is that God made each of these little boys perfect in His sight. to be made as imperfectly and perfectly unique as each snowflake in the sky. all i can say is that we've been blessed with some chubby, dimpled, and cute little snowflakes.

"don't hassle me, i'm local"

Jul 5, 2011

well, we've gone officially gone from being comfortably accustomed to life in lake geneva to being downright locals.

we eat at establishments where my 3-year-old must ask why everyone there has colored on their arms.

we use glow sticks at periods when it is wholly unnecessary to do so.

we eat ice cream at every meal.

we frequent a movie theater called the Showboat where entire families can be seen bringing their own array of tupperware bowls to fill with the theater popcorn.

we eat ice cream at every meal.

we don't really notice (or care) when our bellies hang out from under our shirts.

we wear Wal-Mart bought bathing suits that don't come in any colors other than red, white, and/or blue (and no, i have no clue what i'm doing with my mouth).

we eat ice cream at every. meal.

we don't even bother with bottle openers anymore when there is an anchor within reach. or we use our teeth.

and you guessed it... we eat ice cream at every. meal.

but i guess we will never fully achieve "local" status because the good lord knows that if we were to stay here a lifetime, we would still never, never, ever....
...become Packers fans.

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