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Dear Diary, Summer Recap 1 - April & Maifest in Lincoln Square

Dear Diary, Summer Recap 1 - April & Maifest in Lincoln Square

Without going into detail, my life changed a little unexpectedly this spring and threw me into a bit of a whirlwind.  Thankfully, the changing of the seasons brought a breath of fresh air.  I can easily mark the date of change - it all started when my cousin and best friend, April, came into town.  

Note that this is definitely a dear diary post and not a photography post. All of these pictures are thanks to a very average droid camera phone. :)

Enjoying the Bridges of Chicago

Enjoying the Bridges of Chicago

I was lucky to grow up with my cousins.  I didn't realize how special it was not only to have cousins close in age but close in proximity until I was an adult.  April, only a few years younger than me, has always been one of my best friends - even if she didn't always agree.  :) Ha!  

Cindy's Rooftop Bar

Cindy's Rooftop Bar

Sure we grew up together and we are similar in many ways, but there are a few key ways that we couldn't be any more different.  Most noteworthy, I live in Chicago while she voluntarily chooses to live in the middle of nowhere - and I don't mean a small town, I mean a 15 minute drive from the smallest town where she owns what I describe as a whole woods butted up against a county forest.  The first time I was there we had a bonfire.  I looked in the distance and saw a light.  Thinking it was a neighbor's light I said, "Oh, they aren't too far away."  ...the light was the moon.  While the country is peaceful, it also can give me the creeps.  I have nicknamed her location Murderville, which she responds that I - living in Chicago - obviously am the one living in danger.  

She signed up for the Color Run with her friends near Chicago, which gave her the perfect reason to drive down early and hang out with me!  I took the day off from photographing babies and we went about town.  The adventure started in Wicker Park where we ate pizza and drank beer at Piece Pizza - one of my favorite places.  

Then we headed downtown and hung out on the River Walk, went to Chicago Athletic Association (where I won a game of pool for the first time in my life and introduced April to mezcal), walked over to Cindy's Rooftop to enjoy the view, down to Millennium Park where Goose Island had bags set up (and April kicked my sad little behind) and then Lindsey W - someone you're bound to run into more now that this blog is personal - invited us up to Maifest in Lincoln Square.  So we jumped on the Brown Line and headed up!  

Margaritas on the River Walk on a Beautiful Day

Margaritas on the River Walk on a Beautiful Day

We drank German beer, danced the polka, met new people and had fun together.  It was an important day because it was the first I felt normal in a few weeks.  Like the way only close family and friends can, April effortlessly lifted the weight off my shoulder and reminded me who I was must when it was needed.  To thank her I'm going to share this video which highlights something April and I do have in common - incredible dance skills.  

April, you brighten my life.  I love and appreciate you more than words can express.  Thank you for kicking off what turned out to truly be one of the best summers of my life. 

XOXO,
Brittany (your favorite cousin) 

Holly the Brave: Third Time Mother

Holly the Brave: Third Time Mother

One of my good college friends, Holly, was 9 months pregnant when I last saw her.  Technically, she was less than 48 hours from having her newest little arrival, Elsie.  While I wish I would have been around to see her third child as a baby, I was happy to visit her family while I was in Wisconsin.  She asked if I could take a few photos of her family to remember the last time they were a family of four.  Of course I was happy to!  She fed me a delicious brunch and I was able to spend time with her and the family, so overall it was a perfect deal. 

Can you believe she was a full 9 months pregnant here?  #goodlookingmama

Can you believe she was a full 9 months pregnant here?  #goodlookingmama

Holly was the first of our college gang to have children.  It has taken me a little longer than most to figure out what I want in life, so I cannot believe that this is her third child.  Wow!  I am so proud of her.  She has always wanted a home and a family, and she has the most welcoming home and a perfect family.  

Check out those smiles! You can almost glaze over Holly's belly.  :) 

Check out those smiles! You can almost glaze over Holly's belly.  :) 

#1 Big Sister

#1 Big Sister

This little lady is the PERFECT big sister.  She's a great combination of mom and dad - thoughtful, analytical, funny.  Especially funny - check out that charm!  :)

 

Another reason I admire Holly is that she can be extremely organized and productive.  She spoke with her realtor about possibly selling their home for a bigger one.  While Holly was hoping to put her house on the market a few months after Elsie was born, they took an offer after one off-market showing only days before Elsie was born.  That is one brave mama!

In front of their first home.  :)  #proudfamily #bravemama 

In front of their first home.  :)  #proudfamily #bravemama 

Another one of my favorite things about Holly's family is the sense of sincerity and genuineness that follows them around.  They are the kind of people that you feel better about the world and yourself simply for spending time with them. 

This #fathersonduo is about to be outnumbered.  Also, check out this kid's bedhead!  #reallife

This #fathersonduo is about to be outnumbered.  Also, check out this kid's bedhead!  #reallife

Below is my favorite photo because it reminds me of Holly.  Her paying attention, her family mulling in the background enjoying life on their front yard.  This family is lucky to have Holly, she is an amazing mother and wife.  #motherofthree #thirdtimemama #welcomenumberthree

Roommate Weekend 2017

I am lucky enough to found lifelong friends while in college.  I am also lucky none of them took me out while all 7 of us were living in the same house with only 1 shower.  Ha!  :)  Today we are all in such different places - it is crazy how time flies.  Some of us are married, some of us are mothers, some of us are single and crazy.  But every year, everyone that is able gets together for an annual roommate weekend.  This year we met at Melissa's house up near Milwaukee.  

 

Clearly the little nugget is so cute he's distracting :)

Clearly the little nugget is so cute he's distracting :)

I love living in Chicago with the hustle and bustle and life of the city, but there is something so peaceful about the country.  Melissa's house is the perfect get away! 

We walk a lot when we're together. 

We walk a lot when we're together. 

Melissa was a bartender on the side off and on for a few years.  She picked up some skills, like how to make the best Bloody Mary in town.  YUM.

...it was full.  :)

...it was full.  :)

Holly is our friend who was very pregnant during RMW.  So pregnant that the day after she was scheduled for a c-section the very next day.  Being a domestic goddess and living so close to Melissa, she offered to host brunch at her house.  None of us knew if we'd be able to see her this year, so we were thrilled when we could head her way for a few hours!

Jeanne made sticky carmel rolls to bring - YUM! 

Jeanne made sticky carmel rolls to bring - YUM! 

In college we were not the typical party girls.  Don't get me wrong, we had plenty of nights to remember, but in general we mostly enjoyed sitting around and talking.  It's funny because Holly would say that one of her biggest hopes for the future was to be bare-foot and pregnant in a kitchen she owned with a man she loved by her side.  It is so wonderful to see your friends get exactly what they had hoped (and worked) for. 

Can you believe how good she looks 9 months pregnant?  This is her THIRD baby too!

Can you believe how good she looks 9 months pregnant?  This is her THIRD baby too!

Holly was the first to have a child.  Her daughter is SUCH A HAM!  She was smart, poised, participated in conversation and even told a funny joke.  It was about ketchup, but it was adorable and made me chuckle.  :) 

Is there a better place than mom's lap?

Is there a better place than mom's lap?

We wanted to take advantage of all seven of us being together, so we sat in the front yard and collected some rays while just chilling.  :)

Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk Chalk

This girl was cracking me up.  Here she was hanging in her chair, telling us about her necklace.

This girl was cracking me up.  Here she was hanging in her chair, telling us about her necklace.

I took some "last-weekend-as-a-family-of-four" or also "we-are-about-to-be-out-numbered" photos for Holly, but I'll put those in a separate blog.  One last one from our brunch at Holly's...

We did get dressed up for an event at the museum in Milwaukee, but no one took photos.  Oops. The rest of the weekend was spent continuing the low-key vibe - chilling!  :)  

Jeanne laughing it up in her Gilmore Girls t-shirt and a Spotted Cow.  :) 

Jeanne laughing it up in her Gilmore Girls t-shirt and a Spotted Cow.  :) 

I'd also like to shout it out to Kellye who was really sick at least 80% of the weekend but still stuck it out.  To make matters worse, she sent a picture after the unseasonably warm weekend was over and the poor lady was burnt from sitting in the sun.  Oops!  

Melissa's husband brought out the bags board for us to play.  :)

Melissa's husband brought out the bags board for us to play.  :)

All in all, RMW was a huge success.  Thanks to Melissa for hosting this year.  It is amazing what a few days of peace, quiet and friendship can do for your soul!  I'm certain that you'll see more posts with these ladies more frequently than once a year, but RMW is a special time each year.