Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013, a year in review

2013 was a wonderful year.  In early 2013, I decided that my word for 2013 was going to be "change".  I was in a rut - with my blog, with my routine, with my life.  And change there was, in ways both large and small.  

In an effort to sum-up the year, I decided to use some wrap-up prompts that I've borrowed from other blogs, mostly because I enjoyed reading them (and thought it might be fun to do... I was right, I loved it). 

Favorite trip? I love to travel, and while 2013 didn't bring any trips outside of the US, it did bring several smaller ones.  The year started with a January trip to LA (I got to see Christine!).  I also went to New York twice.  To Iowa at least 7 times (although possibly more) including one to watch my brother get married.  Scott and I took a roadtrip through Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota (and then back to Iowa and Illinois) over our Christmas "break".  Several trips to Wisconsin (one to visit my brother Joe before he moved to the east coast, and one to participate in a mud-run/country concert).   I'm hoping 2014 brings even more travel, especially if it means visiting loved ones.

Favorite book? Wild, by Cheryl Strayed.  I loved it.

Favorite movie? Maybe Argo, which I saw belatedly in February.  I'd also say maybe "This is 40" which is a strange choice, both because it wasn't that good (sorry) but because I also kind of hated it.  But it really prompted some self-reflection, and helped inspire the "change" that I had been craving.  So, tie.

Favorite TV show? House of Cards, Scandal, Homeland.  In that order.  (Homeland S3 wasn't all I had hoped for, unfortunately). 

Favorite song? Album?  This is hard to answer, because I have such emotional ties to songs.  Also, I'm terrible about staying on top of current music - so none of these are current to 2013 necessarily.   The song "Cruise" by Florida Georgia Line got heavy rotation, thanks in no small part to the fun we had dancing to that on Matt and Kelly's wedding trolley.  The old Eminem song "Lose Yourself" helped me more than I care to admit in the early miles of the half marathon.  Seeing Randy Houser perform his (at the time) #1 Hit "Running out of Moonlight" at an outdoor stage in Wisconsin.  

Favorite purchase? I bought a new curling wand (not iron) in 2013, and it's changed the way I do my hair pretty drastically.  I go curls about 50% of the time now.  This is a total fluff answer, but... whatever.

Favorite meal out?  Scott and I met Matt and Kelly for sushi at this cool new (at the time) Sushi spot called "Seadog".  (Terrible name, excellent sushi).  It's BYOB sushi - my favorite kind - and we had an awesome meal, great wine and even Saki... bet you can guess who brought that?  (Hint: my husband).  Anyway, part way through the meal, Matt asked Scott to be a groomsman in his wedding.  It was so special, and I loved being there to witness it. 


Favorite new recipe? I hope you're kidding.  I literally can't answer this.  ETA: just saw in my archives that I did several recipe tutorials this year!  (I'm as surprised as you).  I'd have to say the champagne infused cupcakes, that I made twice this year (both for bachelorette parties)! 


Favorite day? October 11, 2013.  It was a Friday, the day before my brother's wedding, and the day that REALLY kicked off the festivities.  I woke up in my parents house (in my childhood bedroom!) and spent almost the entire day with my mom.  We went to the spa for some last minute primping, hung out with the bride and her family/friends, attended Kelly's bridal luncheon with my grandmother, and then attended my brother's rehearsal dinner (which my parents were hosting).  I got to see so many of my favorite people, have delicious food (cobb salad for lunch, salmon and an incredible cupcake for dinner) and drink (champagne & wine!), and my brother said incredibly kind words about me in his rehearsal dinner toast.  Their wedding day the next day was wonderful, too, but the added anticipation on Friday tips the scales for me.

Favorite development? There's a few.  I bought KateSpecial.com in late March, something I'd long-wanted to do, but never had.  I got a FitBit in October, and I'm completely obsessed.  Scott and I have started looking at real estate and are plotting selling our place for something bigger.  


Favorite outfit? Sappy answer, but the bridesmaids dress I wore as one of Kelly's bridesmaids.  Also, all spring/summer/fall I lived in a variation of white jeans, a grey top, and nude shoes.  With blue nails, obviously.

Favorite holiday? Easy, Thanksgiving.  My mom hosts every year, and it's typically my parents and brothers, my grandparents, and an aunt and uncle, and some cousins.  In the past few years, we've kicked off the celebration with one-too-many (or four-too-many, as was the case for me this year) Bud Lights in my uncle/aunts basement.  This year was extra fun - as two of my cousins welcomed babies in October, so on Thanksgiving Wednesday I got to meet weeks-old babies, Charlie & Eloise.  On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up in my parents house, with each of my brothers under one roof.  My grandparents drove in for the day, and my aunt/uncle and cousin Megan (with her husband and two children) joined us too.  Great food and even better company.  Football on TV.  We ended the day with a hilarious round of Catch Phrase.  It was just a really great day, full of people that I love and don't get to see nearly enough. 

Favorite accomplishment? The half-marathon, no question.  There were moments in the race where 13.1 miles seemed impossibly long, but the sense of accomplishment that I felt afterwards?  Well - I'm registered to run again in 2014, so that should say something!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas

This is one of my favorite Christmas songs, and it's especially appropriate tonight.  I'm wishing you a wonderful Christmas. xoxo

Friday, December 20, 2013

Editor Kate

Another day, another series of errors from my favorite celeb gossip mag.

the sentence starting with "Garnier" contains two
errors.  Anti=wrinkle?  No.  You put it it on "latte"
at night?  I think not.

paragraph one - she has had two babies, therefore
it's not her pre-pregnancy physique... it'd be her
POST-pregnancy physique (saying nothing
of the completely inappropriate commentary)
US Magazine, invest in an editor... seriously.  This is getting ridic.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

the thrill of hope

I cannot wait for next week -  Christmas Eve is one of my favorite nights of the year.  My husband and I travel to my hometown, to celebrate Christmas with my parents, my brothers and my sister-in-law.  As of Tuesday night (!), my shopping is finished and my gifts are wrapped and placed under our tree.  Our condo association prohibits live trees, so I’ve taken to burning an evergreen candle at every opportunity (tonight it was lit within approximately 27 seconds after walking in the front door).   Even my outfits are selected – blacks, golds, reds.  A combination of snowboots, high-heels, tennis shoes and slippers are laid out and ready to be packed.

All of this to say… I’m ready for Christmas.

But among all of the excitement and anticipation and my eagerness... the meaning of the season can sometimes be lost on me, especially when I’m dodging Michigan Avenue tourists, on a cold December lunch break.  (And while I know that  “Jesus is the reason for the season”, I’m not talking about the religious aspect in this… although there is certainly that part, too).

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When I was young, and after Mike left our family, a couple would show up on our doorstep close to Christmas.  They'd bring with them crisp bills, the kind that would help my mother with ours.  I don't remember the words they would use, but the message was clear: Merry Christmas- you are loved.

I think of these people (a real life secret Santa) every Christmas season.  There is something about this time of year that brings those memories back to me, the memories of being on the receiving end of such a gift.  Almost 20 years later, the gift feels so big... bigger even, maybe, then when it was gifted.

A few weeks ago, I was browsing online, when I came across a digital Angel Tree.  Families and individuals with specific Christmas needs.  The premise was 'little things with great love' so none of the needs were more than $100.  The first family I read about already had their need satisfied.  So did the second, and the third and the fourth and the fifth.  The first available need I found was posted by a mother with three young children.  Her husband had left, and she found herself a single mom to three little ones.

I couldn't overlook the similarities, because twenty years ago, about the time of our secret Santa, that was my family.

I was one of two volunteers to help fulfill that families need, and my part was small - a $25 WalMart gift card, and something I gave, willingly, want-ingly.  Eagerly and gratefully.   Life is wonderful, sometimes, and the circle of it all wasn’t lost on me: the gift-ed became the gift-er.  That WalMart gift card was as much a gift for me as it was from me.  

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I was listening to Christmas music the other day, and O Holy Night shuffled on.  It’s one of my favorite Christmas songs, so I cranked up the volume.  For the first time, I noticed an incredible line: “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices”.  (Cut to sentimental Kate sobbing alone in my living room).  In one line, this song summarizes what I’m trying to say.  Being a “thrill of hope” and the cause for rejoicing?  THAT is what matters.  THAT is what I want for Christmas, for all of us.

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Christmas is not about the presents that are wrapped under our trees, or even the fun we're going to have celebrating.  Family? Friendship? Love? Belonging to each other?  That is what matters – every day, really, but especially at Christmastime.  It sounds so cliché, but it is a gift, to give.   That is what I wish for you – for all of us, really – this Christmas: the privilege of giving. 

And while I am excited to drink wine (one or two glasses too many, please) and open presents with my family, I also pledge to look around me this December, and recognize how I can be a thrill of hope to the weary world around me.  Will you join me? 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Scenes From a Week: December 15

Another week has come and gone, and we're officially now at mid-December.  Nine days from tonight is one of my favorites all year (Christmas Eve!)  I'm wearing as much red and gold as possible, and soaking in all the holiday that I can get.

Here's to another great pre-Christmas week!

cool window display at sunda in downtown chicago
my festive gold nails
the gigantic christmas tree in the bloomingdales building
my first belini (and red pants!)
danger zone
i had the gym to myself!  (and good thing, since i was
practically sweating cabernet)
a real life snow globe (view from my living room)
bowling with moscato
ending the weekend with scott and his mom at uncommon
ground

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Weekend Reading

I'm a little light on articles this weekend, but thought these were compelling enough to share.

Time Magazine's Person of the Year - Pope Francis
http://poy.time.com/2013/12/11/person-of-the-year-pope-francis-the-peoples-pope/

Video: Christmas and an Airline (worth your 5 minutes)

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

on adulthood

On Sunday night I was lounging in our chair, reading a book.  There was an evergreen candle burning, homemade vegetable soup simmering in our Crock Pot, and the lights on our Christmas tree were shimmering.

Scott was in our guest room, practicing the Ukulele.  Our house was clean, the laundry done, and our groceries for the week purchased and put away.

And I had the thought: this is adulthood.

It's hard to pinpoint the moment when you move from a child to an adult.  There have certainly been milestones for me, where I felt more solidly adult.  When I got my degree.  When we bought our condo.  When I got married.   If I had to pick a moment, I'd say it was when I started paying my own bills (although even that isn't a perfect barometer, because I had the safety net of my parents, should a crisis arise).

But I think adulthood is more than any single moment.  It's responsibility. It's feeling comfortable with your choices, and your life, and your lifestyle.  It's being "allowed" to eat chocolate chip ice cream for dinner, but choosing a chicken salad instead.  It's owning your life.

This time in my life is a really good one.  And while it isn't wild or crazy or new, I think it's worth celebrating.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Editor Kate

I haven't done one of these in a while, but in the interest of clearing out my camera roll, thought I'd throw up some random errors I've found recently:

pretty sure this wasn't the intended title of
article #1

the name of paul walkers daughter is meadow rain,
not meadow rose.

again, this likely wasn't the intended title
of article #1
cindy crawford's daughter's name is spelled
kaia, not kaya.  

Monday, December 9, 2013

Scenes From A Week: December 9

The first full week of December was somewhat quiet, actually, a nice "calm before the storm" of the upcoming holidays.  It involved an industry holiday party, a sushi double-date, meeting up with one of my awesome cousins (and her boyfriend) and some QT with Scott.  Last night I was looking around our home and smiling over it all - the evergreen candle, our Christmas tree and decorations, presents wrapped under the tree.... I really love this cozy time of year.






Sunday, December 8, 2013

football and the rest of it

I've always thought I would be a mother of sons.

Call it (pre)mothers intuition or a gut instinct, but I close my eyes and imagine that I'll be a mother to boys, several of them even.  Three?  Four?

When I picture what life will be like for a family with boys, it isn't hard to imagine - I grew up as the only sister to four brothers.  I love having brothers - and I suspect I'd love having sons.  When I picture my sons, I imagine they'd be a lot like my brothers - athletic and fit, intelligent and driven, loyal and kind.  I picture them playing catch in our backyard, chasing and tackling each other, playing sports with the neighbor kids. 

I anticipate starting them in sports at a really early age, like my parents did for us.  Soccer, swimming, tennis, t-ball.  Eventually wrestling, basketball,  baseball, football.  I can picture Scott and I wearing their sweatshirts with their high school names across the chest, their team photos on pins on our collars.  I spent hours on the bleachers, watching my brothers compete, and it's not a stretch to think about doing that for my children.

Three of my brothers played high school football.  Two of them were on teams that won the state championship.  One of them was a captain.  I spent hundreds of hours - no exaggeration - cheering for them as they competed – wrestling, baseball, basketball, swimming, track, cross country… and football.  Always football.  Football was my favorite sport to watch  – and it still is.  Stadium seating,  my favorite time of year, and a sport I know a lot about (if I can toot my own horn... toot toot).   I loved watching my brothers play football – hollering their name when they had the ball, or when they got a tackle.   I went to college about 45 minutes from home, and during my sophomore through senior years, when I had a car at school, I made the trek north many fall Fridays to watch my brothers play. 

It didn’t hurt that our high school has a strong football legacy.  Our coach is second-to-none, especially in the ways that matter (football acumen, certainly, but character too).  One of the reasons that I dream of moving back to Cedar Rapids is so that my children can go to my high school, and be part of Xavier Football.

There were games that were incredibly fun to watch – my brothers were (and continue to be) gifted athletes, who got a ton of playing time.  There were games where “MALONEY with the tackle” or “MALONEY with the carry” were proclaimed over the loud speaker, time and time again.  I won’t lie – that was fun.  Very fun.  Their big sister was extremely proud.

There were also times that it was harder to watch.  Football is a physical sport, and more than one brother was taken to the ER during or after their game. 

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I saw an interview, the other week, where NBC’s Matt Lauer was questioning Brett Favre about whether he’d encourage his sons to play football.  His response surprised me “In all honesty, I would have a hard time just throwing him out there”.  (http://www.today.com/news/brett-favre-nfl-concussions-toll-has-got-be-pretty-high-2D11603374) A football icon not wanting his sons to play… that is reason alone to dig deeper.

How do you reconcile a sport that you enjoy with the risk of serious, traumatic injury?  Are the benefits worth the risks?

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While I am not (and was never) a gifted athlete, I’m also not afraid.  I’ll join your intramural volleyball team and be able to hold my own.  I can go to a company golf event and not embarrass myself.  I can teach my kids how to swing a tennis racket.   I like sports, and I can hold my own.

I am a big believer in sports, and in the lessons to be learned on the field.  Team work.  Physical fitness.  Strategy.  Friendship.  Hard work.

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Sports are important, and the benefits are not lost on me.  But sometimes, sports – especially football – can be violent and physical, and that is certainly cause for concern, and analysis. 

These questions don't affect me too significantly right now - I'm still in the phase of football that is all fun, and not deeply personal.  I can  imagine a time where they might.

As Scott and I consider our future, football is on my mind.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

on 50/50 parenting

A month or so ago, Scott and I were seated around a table with a handful of people, mostly parents of adult children.  We were talking about a wide variety of things, when the subject of children came up.  Scott mentioned if we had children, that he was planning to take on the lion’s share of diaper-changing, something that we'd talked about privately before.  It was his idea, actually, a way to have some built-in time with his child.

"All of it?!" one person asked him, obviously surprised. “That seems like a lot to ask!”  Scott confirmed that, and explained a little bit - saying that if I was doing the bulk of the feeding, that it was only fair if he did the bulk of the changing.

At this point, I spoke up, saying that I expected he'd be doing 50% of the hands-on parenting duties.

The people around me seemed surprised, with one person commenting: "well I don't know about that". In hindsight, I should have questioned their surprise,, but it got me thinking: why is it that people - especially mothers - expect that the woman will do the bulk of the parenting?  And furthermore, why is it that people - especially mothers - feel entitled to weigh in other people’s lives and decisions about parenting?

The first issue boils down to the really basic concept of division of labor.  I've heard that it’s among the leading causes of marital discord and even divorce - and I can totally understand that, because I think it comes up innocently, in a lot of ways.  When I look down the road, there are certain things that Scott will not be able to do for our child because of biological limitations.  He can’t be pregnant, and he can’t breastfeed.   Add to that the fact that women typically have a much longer amount of time at home with the newborn (maternity leave vs. paternity leave) and I think the roles could develop very naturally.  Adding to that, many women WANT to take on the majority of parenting to these little ones, and that can easily lead to a much different roles for the mother and father.

I don’t want to go any further without saying that I fully respect – and applaud, really! – any family that has struck a balance that both partners feel comfortable with.  I have absolutely zero disrespect for families who have different arrangements than what I plan to have (many of my favorite people do, in fact).  I have nothing but respect for families that have found their division-of-labor balance.   

The second issue is a little more complex, I think.  Women seem to be the harshest critics of other women, and it both confuses me and infuriates me.  The “Mommy Wars” is a horrible concept, and one that I refuse to participate in.  The choices that you make for yourself and your family have absolutely nothing to do with me. (By that same token,  you don’t get to weigh in on my choices - and if you do, I hope that I have the gumption to point out how out of line you are).

And in the end, isn't that a fundamental part of parenting?  Thick skin, holding your own, and making the choices that you think are best.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

My mom has hosted Thanksgiving for 20+ years, and I don't think I've ever missed one.  It is such a special tradition for our family, as we're joined by my grandparents, and awesome aunt, uncle, cousins and second cousins.  I really love waking up at home Thanksgiving morning - the whole house smells good, my brothers are either sleeping in or raising hell downstairs.  We typically start around 11am, with turkey on by early afternoon, which allows for a long cocktail hour - one of my favorite parts.  This year, I had a lot of snuggle time with my five-week old "cousin-niece" (second cousin, actually) which was pure fun.



Some years we have gone to the movie theater for a late show on Thanksgiving night, but this year, my mom bought a new "Catchphrase" (2013 edition) and we played a family edition for hours.  It was completely hilarious.  We all decided that the best clue was given out by my brother Joe - "he once had a day off" (answer: Ferris Bueller).  Amazing. We had so many laughs.




On Friday morning, my mom and I went Black Friday shopping... in matching shoes.  We each got a few things crossed off our list, but the best part was just hanging with my mom - who I miss so much by living out of state.



As Scott and I drove through Iowa / Illinois on our way back to Chicago, I couldn't help reflecting on how lucky I am to have these people... and how beautiful life is with them in it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend: Wednesday

The day before Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year.  My family and I are all under one roof for about five days a year (perhaps a slight exaggeration, but not by much) and Thanksgiving is probably my favorite of them all.  My mom traditionally hosts Thanksgiving Day dinner, and for the past few years, we've gone to my Aunt & Uncle's home on Wednesday night for some... RFS (Rank Family Shenanigans).   I drank about eight Coors Lights too many, stayed up until after 2am, and enjoyed every. single. minute. of it.  Families are special - and mine is second to none.

I should also mention that this was the first time I met two new Rank Family members - Charlie (#56) and Eloise (#57).  They are first cousins with each other (making them my second cousins, I believe) and are literally weeks old.  It was wonderful to meet them.

Thanksgiving Wednesday (RFS!) totally lived up to the hype - and the headache the next morning was totally worth it :)






Quote of the Day: Writing

"The hardest part of writing is writing " - Nora Ephron

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Scenes From A Week: December 1

I am literally a broken record at this point, but seriously universe?  These weeks keep getting better and better.  And in this case, what could be better than 48 hours under the same roof as my family?  I truly have so much to be thankful for.

first treadmill date of the winter... #wintersucks
really interesting book.  it was recco'ed to me because
i liked gillian flynn's "gone girl" and i can see why.
highly recommend both titles.
CHRISTINE!  one of the highlights of ANY week.
overjoyed to meet the youngest rank - #57!
spending time with my mom is a true treat (so was the starbucks -
thanks mom :)
16 around the table at RANKSgiving 2013
christmas cards addressed, written, stamped and ready to go out.
(i wait until the clock strikes december to send them out)
date with my husband before the randy houser/justin moore concert
on saturday night

Thursday, November 28, 2013

so thankful

My life is an embarrassment of riches, and that is something I am incredibly thankful for.

I am thankful for a family who I am lucky to also call my friends - people who I am unbelievably lucky to be spending today with, and more importantly, people who fill my life with color every single day.  I struck gold with my family.  

I am thankful to have Scott as my husband.  He's hilarious, and curious, and a life adventurer.  I don't know how we ended up together, but I am grateful that he's my co-pilot on this journey.

I am thankful for wonderful friends, who's company I cherish (even - or maybe especially - when their "company" is via FaceTime, call and text).

I am thankful for my health and the health of those around me.  

Everything else is really just details, but the details are wonderful and I'm thankful for those too.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Scenes From A Week: November 17

I might sound like a broken record, but this was one of the best weeks I've had in a long time.  Chicago had our first (light) snow of the year and while I don't particularly care for snow, I can't deny that a dusting of it is pretty.  Mid-week found me out two nights in a row, first at the Trump Spa (who am I?!) and then at a hotel roof bar.  I love how cities look at night, and this week  was an opportunity to revel in that.   Scott and I spent Friday night on a BYOB sushi date at a new spot near our house.  Scott went to Iowa City for a fraternity reunion this weekend, so I took that opportunity to spend the weekend doing exactly what I wanted - long catchup conversations with my mom, a cousin and several girlfriends, painting my nails, deep-cleaning our apartment, and watching the entire first season of GIRLS.  It was spectacular - and something I really needed.  I will admit to being super psyched when Scott got home on Sunday afternoon (and not just because I waited to watch the Bears game with him).  It's the month of gratitude, and I'm grateful for restorative weekends that are both lazy and productive.