Monday, December 31, 2012

on baby kanye / kardashian

I awoke this morning to the news:  Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are having a baby.  Kim is pregnant.

The world is funny.  It's a main article on CNN.  The headline is blaring on, US Weekly, TMZ.  The list goes on.  This is a woman that people look up to - and what's she famous for?  Being Paris Hilton's former pal?  Having a now-infamous sex tape?  But saying she hasn't worked FOR the fame, doesn't mean she's not worked IT.  She seems to have the hustle that's required for all of sales... and isn't that what she and her sisters do?  Sell themselves?  Sell the Kardashian name, the Kardashian life, the Kardashian brand?

She was married (not to Kanye) almost three months after I married Scott.  She's now in the process of divorcing him, and is pregnant with another man's baby.  That's a lot of love, a lot of change, a lot of highs and lows, in the space of 16 months.

I'm very liberal - I don't think marriage is a required ingredient, necessarily, for a family.  I would be thrilled for a happy friend delivering baby news to me, regardless of her marital status.  So that's not why this leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  It's the timing, it's the fact that it's Kim Kardashian, it's his "gold digger" song, it's that she's married to someone else.  The one Kardashian sister that is married is the only one struggling with infertility as she tries to start a family.... and the other two Kardashians are now having babies before marriage.  I dunno.

A baby is a blessing, surely, but it just seems... kinda sad.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

on christine and jen

Two of my favorite people in the entire world visited me the other night: Christine and Jen.  They got to town around six, and brought Scott and me two very nice bottles of delicious booze.  (You know us so well).  Have you ever heard of them?  RumChata and Loopy (like Fruit Loops) Vodka.  If you mix them together, it takes like Fruit Loopy milk deliciousness.  So good.  We each had one shot of it (don't worry Mom, we sipped it).  Anyway, delicious.  

Then we sat around and chatted for a while (and yes, had some wine) before moving the party to my brother's place.  Kelly's family was in town (wedding dress shopping!!) and so we all got to hang out together.  (Kelly's mom and Jenifer re-bonded over my #*($* wedding dress bustle :) 

It was an interesting group to all be together - we'd technically all been in the same room before (at Scott and my wedding!) but now we were able to really all get to know each other and bond.  And we'll all be together again on 10.12.13!

I thought that we'd be over there for just a little bit - enough time to see the new condo and the awesome rooftop view and say a quick hello... but we had so much fun we were there for hours.  By this point it's closing in on 11pm, and the BYOB Thai place that Scott and I had thought of bringing J&C for dinner was closing... so on to plan B.  Scott spotted this hole-in-the-wall Mexican spot nearby, and we decided to make it happen.  It was surprisingly good, and beyond entertaining (although the entertainment was all us).

Anyway, anyone would be lucky to have cousins like mine.  Nights like that are good for the soul - laughing until your face hurts, making memories with family.  It's one of the best blessings in my life: having family that is also friend.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

chapter nine: moving east

On June 3, 2007, I moved in to the top floor of my aunt and uncle's home in the Chicago suburbs.  I intended to stay only a few weeks or month.  I stayed all summer.  The Summer of 2007 goes down in history as a summer that changed my life.  I had freedom, money in my pocket, and lived with my "summer sister".

I worked 9-5 Monday through Friday, and in the summer evenings and weekends would go for bike rides with my family to get ice cream.  I went to my first Zumba class with Jen.  We went to their gym and their pool and had a true summer.  It was bliss.

In late July, my college sorority sister and roommate from the Beachouse and I decided to move in together in Chicago.  The timing was there and the friendship, and we went out one Saturday in July and found IT.  A two bedroom, one bathroom, teeny apartment that we were way overpaying for... and we loved it.  It was in Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood, and it was everything.

We moved in on September 1st, and my Chicago life began. I was still dating Scott, and he'd come over throughout the month of September for dates.  On October 11th, we had a going away dinner at Wishbone.  "Going away" because he was.  The next day his job moved him to Charlotte, North Carolina, where he'd live for the next 18 months.  I cried my eyes out when he left, and while I knew it was necessary, it also seemed unfair.  The fun part of life was really beginning, and he was leaving.

I missed Scott... but I was also having FUN.  I had a bunch of girlfriends in Chicago, and lived just blocks from Wrigleyville.  Pam and I would go out and stay in and drink wine and host "SVU-ing parties" on Tuesday nights.  (Law & Order: SVU-viewing parties).  I ate sushi for the first time.  I tried my first Guinness.  I drank margaritas.  I went to concerts.  I fell in love with country music.  Pam and I had a girls weekend where 10 girls slept on every inch of floor space in our 900 square foot slice of heaven.  I hosted a girls weekend with three of my beloved cousins where we drank (and then danced) our asses off before stumbling home at 5am in a cloud of laughter and bud light.  I learned the Soulja Boy dance, and went for walks by the lake.  I got my first smart phone.  I turned 24.  I had my parents and brothers overnight for the first time in my own place.  I joined a gym, and got my first credit card.  Ihad Dan, Barb and Jen over for dinner.  I laid out on our rickety front porch.  I made my first batch of guacamole.  I learned how to properly hail a cab, cut a tomato and clean a bathroom.  I balanced my checkbook and paid my own bills.  I learned how to book a flight, and then booked one.  And then another one.  And then another one.  And the destination was always Charlotte.

When I think about Kenmore street, I think of being young (and a little crazy).  It was fun.

The months passed.  We renewed our lease.  And before I knew it we'd lived there for almost two years.  And by then we were ready for the next big thing, and for me, that meant living alone.  I knew that Scott and I were the real deal.  We'd talked marriage and looked at rings.   And before living with a husband (for the rest of my life) I wanted to live alone.  I had never done it, and I wanted to.  So I went apartment hunting - first by myself, and then with my parents.

The moment I walked in to the apartment downtown (and saw the view of Lake Michigan) I knew.  That would be my new home.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

I love going home for Christmas.  As soon as our car was pointed west, the feeling in my heart just changed.  There is nothing like Christmas at home.

Anyway, we were only home for about 36 hours, but we crammed a lot of togetherness and celebration in to them.  All of us were together (which doesn't happen nearly enough, with us all spread across the midwest), and it was like no time had passed since we all lived under one roof.

We drank wine (and gin, if you must know).  We went to Christmas Eve Mass.  We exchanged (thoughtful and generous!) gifts.  We had a formal family dinner.  We hung out and lounged and ate.

just like the old days

five of the best guys ever

Saturday, December 22, 2012


I've had an inadvertent blog hiatus these past few weeks.  December is a busy time, huh?  And it's more than that - I've been knocked out with a horrible cold this past week (missed several days of work and barely moved off the couch since Monday).

I feel like there's so much I want to blog about, and I'd be remiss if I didn't start with Sandy Hook.  Last Friday was a hard day for us as a nation, all of us who watched with tears in our eyes... and that pain doesn't even light a candle to the pain of the victims and survivors.  That kind of evil... there are no words.  I have nothing meaningful to add to the conversation, but it's been on my mind a lot the past week.  27 souls snuffed out.

Sometimes the world looks scary and dark and evil... but there is so much good, too.  A friend posted this article on Facebook this week, and it's powerful and worth your three minutes.   The story of the New York Police Officer who bought shoes for a homeless man on a cold winter night.  The person who in post-Sandy NY had power and stuck a power adapter in front of their house with a sign urging people to charge their phones.  A boyfriend and girlfriend as dedicated to each other as ever despite the injuries he suffered in Iraq.

A girl I went to college with lost her mom last year, on December 21st, just days before Christmas (and just months before she got married).  She posted last night that she went to the Bingo table with her now-husband on her mom's death anniversary, as it was something that her mom loved doing... and won the $500 jackpot on the last game of the night.

I don't know what that means.  I don't know if it's God or "God-winks".  Some would say it's luck or coincidence.  But I like to believe that in the dark times or in the joy, that there is something bigger than us.  And whether we believe in that or not, there is a lot of good that we can do.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas words to live by

Be Kind
Write a letter
Keep a promise
Try to understand
Give a soft answer
Laugh a little more
Express your gratitude
Think first of someone else
Seek out a forgotten friend
Gladden the heart of a child
Examine you demands on others
Speak you love, then speak it again
Manifest your loyalty in word and deed
Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust
Take a pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth
Forgo a grudge
Mend a quarrel
Encourage a youth
Welcome a stranger

-Howard W Hunter

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

on dr. steil

I received some terrific news last Friday.  My younger brother (the youngest Maloney Steil child) has been accepted to the University of Iowa College of Dentistry.  

Austin is an exceptionally hard worker.  From running to organic chemistry to the DAT, Austin knows what he wants and focuses on getting from here to there.  And on Friday, he found out that he IS there  (or, will be, next fall).   It's a big win for a lot of reasons, and selfishly I'm thrilled that he'll be relatively close to home (which means that I'll have more chances to see him).  I'm also so glad that he's going to be spending time on the UI campus, where I had so many adventures in college.  (Although something tells me that Dent school requires a bit more, ehhm, classroom time than my Political Science degree did).  

Anyway, I am thrilled for Austin, and so excited to have a dentist in the family!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Photo of the Day: The Big Hurt Edition

On Thursday night I had a work event where Frank Thomas made an appearance.  I can't say I'm a Sox fan, but I still took the opportunity for a photo :)

Quote of the Day: Girls Edition

"Sometimes I wish someone would tell me... this is how the rest of your life should look" - Girls

(I don't actually watch the show, or even have HBO, but I saw this quote on someone's Facebook page and I just loved it.  I think many 20-somethings can relate).

Brewery Tour

Scott and I joined a few friends yesterday for a Brewery Tour across Chicago.  We started at Atlas Brewery on Lincoln Avenue, where we had pizza, beer, and four tasters.  (We also got to make pretzel necklaces:)

Then we all boarded a trolley with to-go cups in tow.

Our second spot was called Finch's Brew Co., were we tried a big Pale Ale.  (There were two varieties, I tried the green and Scott had the heavier Red - both delicious).

I really liked this place.  We got a tour and a tutorial about how they make beer and what ingredients are used (water, yeast, hops, barley and malt!).  It was interesting.  This particular brewery doesn't have a tasting room, but their beer is available at places like Binny's and different bars across Chicagoland.

Our third and final stop was at Moonshine on Division in Wicker Park.  Their beer was awesome.  I loveeeed it, especially their "White Lightning" and Cider.  Highly recommend, and can't wait to go back for dinner and a few of those sometime soon.  

We bought the tickets as a promotion on Living Social, and it was a great thing to do on a chilly Saturday.  I love buying tickets on Living Social (or Groupon) because it's a great way to try different activities that you wouldn't otherwise do, and often at a good price.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

on pranksters and bullies

Like many Americans, I'll admit to some Royal curiosity.  The monarchy that lives across the world (and the monarchs themselves) interest me more than they probably should.  So when Kate Middleton and Prince William announced this week that they were having a baby, I joined in on the hubbub and spent some time reading about them, and enjoying the speculation (twins? Godfather Harry?).

When I heard about the Australian radio hosts that called the hospital and pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, I rolled my eyes, thinking that it was a stupid thing to do, and not even funny.  I was surprised that they got through to Kate's nurse.  I thought that with all the public outcry, that they would probably lose their jobs, and I hoped that the hospital employees wouldn't.  And that's really where I thought it ended.

Until later in the week, the devastating news that the nurse involved had committed suicide.  Such a horrible twist to the saga, and I ache for her family and friends.  And for her, the victim of such public embarrassment that she made a decision so final, and so sad.

And it made me think - when is a joke a joke?  When does it cross the line to bullying?  Joking, tricking, pranking, teasing, bullying.  What's the difference?  The fine line differentiating between these seem so small.

I like jokes.  I like a good joke as much as the next person... but at what cost?  The Australian DJ's thought they were just joking around, but to the unwitting nurse on the other end of the phone, it was humiliating and painful and public.

When a joke is at someone else's expense, isn't that a form of bullying?  

And if we as adults can't tell the difference, how can we expect our children to?  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Year of the Bridesmaid

I mentioned the other day that Kelly asked me to be a bridesmaid in her bridal party, but it was so significant to me that it definitely deserves it's own post :)

On Thanksgiving Day, after celebrating with our family in the early afternoon, and her family with the later afternoon, Kelly mentioned that she had something to drop off for me.  She came to my parents house, and presented me with a few things:

All beautifully presented, and I'll admit that my curiosity was definitely high.

The first thing I did was to open the envelope:

... and almost instantly began crying.  Not pictured was a "keeper" of a letter, talking about our relationship and friendship and saying that she would love if I would be a bridesmaid when she marries Matt. 

In all honestly, I was thrilled to be asked.  I've mentioned before how much I adore the woman that my brother is engaged to, but it bears repeating - I am overjoyed to be getting Kelly as a sister.  And while I would still - obviously - be as thrilled even if I wasn't a bridesmaid, there is something so awesome about being a part of their day, and standing with them - literally now! - as they officially become husband and wife.

Kelly and I met almost ten years ago, when we were both high school kids.  And I'm not sure how to say this eloquently... but the fact is our relationship started simply because she was dating my brother.  We didn't know each other before that, really, and for the first while, that's all we knew each other as.   But over the past decade, things have slowly shifted.  At the risk of being totally cheesy, she's become a really great friend. 

And next October, I get to stand with her as she becomes my sister.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Photos of the Day: Food Edition

Sometimes food is just so photogenic, ya know?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

New York November 2012

I was in New York last week for a quick 72 hours, and in between conferences and training, I took a self-guided mini tour across Midtown.   There is something so special about New York, and it was my first time in the city around Christmastime.  The weather was spectacular for late November, and my iPhone was the perfect companion.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

18) Finish watching Mad Men

Scott and I watched the first four seasons of Mad Men on Netflix over the course of a couple months.  The 5th season, however, was a little more difficult to get our hands on because I refused to pay for it :)

Season 5 has been gradually airing on AMC over the past month or two, and we finally got all of the episodes, in the right order.  Last Sunday, we finally watched the season 5 finale.

I love Mad Men.  I would say it's definitely slower than some other shows we watch together (Friday Night Lights, Homeland) but so good.