10+ Things, 1/1
Happy New Year!
The girls are still on their holiday break until next Wednesday, but we just got back to Chicago and we’re enjoying some downtime at home. While the holiday season couldn’t have gone better—well, okay, it could have gone a little better (see below)—it feels like forever since we’ve been in our own house. And since I last checked in here, of course. It feels so good!
I love January. It’s freakin’ freezing in ChiTown, but I can’t tell you how much I enjoy the “reset” feeling. I liken it to the feeling I had after our wedding or after I finished graduate school. A mixture of elation, exhaustion, love, pride, depletion and gratitude—and freedom.
In January, both the physical and mental clutter leaves, and I’m left with time. Time to spend with my husband and girls; time to spend on a little self-care; time to spend setting our family up for happiness in the year ahead.
But here’s what’s on my mind today:
- I want to thank you so much for your kindness and support in 2022! From our family to yours, we hope you had the merriest holiday celebrations—big or small—with family and friends. And truly: thank you. The kindness you continually show the Larkin Family has meant the world. Last year, I was kind of at my breaking point re: having an online presence during/after the pandemic while also being a mother, and I very seriously considered leaving the online world altogether and living an entirely private life. Instead, though, I stepped away (slash disappeared ) when I needed to, I asked for help, and I created some healthy work/life boundaries. I didn’t apologize; I tried my best not to feel guilty. And guess what?! I’m happy now! Like, I’m so good. And while I might not be the best or most consistent blogger, I’m back to really enjoying it. Anyway, thanks for sticking with me while I finally figured out how to find some balance. I know that pre-parenthood, I probably would have scoffed at this paragraph. (How hard could it be?!) But you guys never did. You’re the best, and thank you.
What we did for Christmas:
- Yardley, PA: We were supposed to host Christmas in Chicago for my family this year, but we changed things up due to some medical challenges. It ended up being the best Christmas ever. And while we sadly weren’t able to see everyone since we only had a couple of days, we were able to be with the girls’ great-grandmother, and that was simply incredible. (We saw their great-grandmother on my dad’s side in the fall, which was also so wonderful!) I loved spending time with my parents, brothers, nephews, and sister-in-law… and I left feeling very much in the spirit.
- Chicago: We spent the 23rd with Bradley and Peter’s family, the 24th with Gretchen and James’ family, and the 25th solo. So many of our best friends left Chicago during the pandemic, and I won’t lie: It was tough. (After waving goodbye to Dave and Natalie, I literally cried myself to sleep, haha.) But such in life in the city, pandemic or not. And this Christmas, I was reminded that each Chicago chapter has been ridiculously awesome. I’m so grateful for this one, and the friends—new and old—in it.
- Lake Bloomington, IL: Everyone from Mitch’s family drove to his parents’ lake house next, and we spent a few days cozied up inside together due to the insane cold front that blew in. But we also managed to get out on the frozen lake, which was a total blast! (Photos to come.) We were utterly exhausted from Christmas and this week was just what we needed. We unplugged, drank a ton of coffee, got some much-needed sleep, laughed, put together the cutest puzzle, and saw the girls’ great-grandmother on Mitch’s side. Emma and Lucy were thrilled to be with their cousins, and Mitch and I were thrilled that they had playmates. (Btw: This is the BEST brand on Amazon for puzzles. They have a ton of Liberty stuff too!)
- I survived Shingles. THAT WAS FUN. Luckily my friend Natalie (who’s in dermatology) caught it early for me and I was on the anti-viral drugs almost immediately. But man. It’s painful, guys. And I obviously had to stay away from people for a while, which gave me 2020/2021 flashbacks. I really thought Shingles only affected the elderly, but NOPE. It’s wild to me that if you had the Chicken Pox as a kid, the virus is still in your body; it’s simply dormant until reactivated. Anyway, it felt like I was literally being stabbed in the back at times. Very bad. Would not recommend.
- We had a scare with Noodle. I sobbed when we found a huge cyst on her belly. Luckily, the cyst is totally benign and pretty common with older dogs. But it definitely made me realize that she’s an older dog now. *Sniffle.* She’s going to be nine this year! She’s been with me since I first moved to Chicago, and got me through some very tough times. My little buddy. So grateful she’s okay.
- What we did for New Years: Not much. And it was awesome! I think we’ve decided to (socially) sit New Year’s out from now on. We have some very intense travel during the holidays, and reserving these couple of days for ourselves is lovely. The girls got dressed in their sparkly dresses from last year, and we took them to an early dinner at Summer House where they had pancakes and got gold balloons. They went to bed on time, and then Mitch and I stayed up watching shows. Wouldn’t have wanted it any other way!
- My thoughts on resolutions: MEH. In 2022, I stopped making to-do lists because I realized they weren’t actually alleviating stress like they do for most people, haha. So I figure I should stop making New Year’s resolutions as well, and simply capitalize on the motivation and inspiration I typically feel this time of year. See where it takes me, you know?! ;)
- The J.Crew New Year Sale is on! Linking favorites above. Some of the prices are wild.
- SAMMY AND CHARLS ARE COMING TO CHICAGO FOR A WEEK THIS MONTH! I’m so excited. Charls surprised Sammy (my cousin but basically sister) with the trip for Christmas! His dad has been joking that it’ll probably be too cold in Chicago for snow to even fall , but we’re just going to embrace all things hygge. It’s been forever since we really hung out, and I can’t wait to try to convince them to move here. Jokes but also serious. ;)
- We’re getting Lucy a passport this week, and I finally scored a Global Entry appointment. We don’t have any set plans to go anywhere outside the country, haha, but we love having the option. Can I tell you where I really want to go? The Scandinavian countries. I’m obsessed with their lifestyle and the fact that they consistently rate amongst the happiest countries in the world, and want to experience it more than anything. But we’ll see!
- I’M COOKING. I bought this cookbook, and I’m using Amazon Fresh for the ingredients since I don’t have a license and hate food shopping anyway, haha. I want to become a food person, or at least someone who doesn’t hate cooking. So I figure the first step is identifying a few meals that actually look good to me! Fingers crossed.
- I also want to become craftier. I’ve never been a very crafty person, save for the zillions of times I painted my NYC apartments on my own. (Which admittedly all turned out terribly.) But I don’t know! Over the last year, I’ve felt this real desire to get more into DIY projects. I love that I can turn my brain off for a while while crafting, and get that sought-after sense of accomplishment at the end. I also love kids’ toys, and giving them TLC when they need it instead of replacing. (Far more sustainable!) Always have, haha. I love the idea of learning how to use this paint spray gun that has a cult following, and I want to up my skills with the Cricut.
Mitch’s parents’ view right now!
- I’m so happy for my parents and in-laws! My parents just arrived in Rosemary Beach for a TWO-MONTH stay, and Mitch’s parents are currently visiting Mitch’s uncle in Hawaii. They deserve it more than anyone, and I can’t wait to follow along on all their adventures while we freeze in Chicago. Jk, jk. We’re going to be spending the girls’ winter break in Rosemary with my parents, so eyes on the prize!
Favorite Christmas gifts: This is one of the more frequently asked questions this time of year, so I figured I’d share!
- This backpack cooler! (From my parents!)
- AirTags. (From Mitch’s parents for our luggage, because #LarkinLuck!)
- These Amazon sweatpants and this Amazon sweatshirt.
- This beautiful bag. (From my parents!)
- A hotel stay for the Taylor Swift concert with Mitch and the girls in June. (From Mitch!)
- This stunning banana leaf tray. (From my in-laws!)
- ZARA CLOTHES!
- This beading set.
- This Ukrainian-made Barbie wardrobe. Mihail is actually who’s made most of the girls’ dollhouse furniture! (They share this non-offensive-looking “Barbie Dreamhouse,” haha, and then Lucy has this adorable Maileg dollhouse for her mice and bunnies.)
- This carrying bag from the UK. (So I can take her into coffee shops while on walks!)
- This harness to avoid back injuries that dachshunds are known for.
- Miscellaneous treats from Aldi.
On a related note, the Annual Larkin Beginning-of-the-Year Purge has begun, and I’m so into it. I use the “one in, one out” method in our home, though I’ll be honest and say it often ends up being “one in, several out.” ;) Right now, I’m focused on donating the following:
- Baby toys and books: Lucy has truly outgrown this stuff, but there are a few stragglers left around the house.
- Clothing that I love but Emma dislikes: She’s her own person with her own style now, and I love that. And while it’s hard for me to let go of the cute preppy stuff, it should go to someone who will use it. (Though I did save a few favorites just in case Lucy’s down to wear them!)
- Closet clutter: No explanation needed. ;)
I can’t help but dream up ideas for this site. I have a lot of them, but I’m also cognizant of the fact that it takes months to form a habit—so trying to form multiple at once probably won’t yield a better blog. THAT SAID, I’m clearly definitely one of those “dream big” people who are okay with fizzling out come April or whatever. So this little content generator of sorts isn’t an empty promise, but rather a thought starter for myself. (I like having a big list of posts to choose from when I sit down!) Here’s what I think I’d enjoy writing:
- 10 Things (Clearly my favorite series to write!)
- Larkins Lately
- What I Wore
- Organizing 101
- “5 Ways To…”
- Chicago Adventures
- Product Spotlights (Be it Amazon finds or whatever.)
- Around Our Home
- Deals of the Week
- Coffee Chat
- The Emma Show (Did you know Emma launched a YouTube Kids channel?!)
- Other ideas? Let me know at Kelly@kellyinthecity.com
- Home: The ultimate Hygge book. This gorgeous bow frame: a Carly find! I switched to Noodle & Boo laundry detergent because of the Laundress situation. So far so good! Mitch got this tea kettle because we’ve been loving having tea at night. It’s adorable. This headband organizer is awesome. These wooden scissors in case all yours went missing in December too. Who is the scissor thief?!
- Beauty: I know I keep talking about this, but if you want thicker eyebrows, THIS STUFF WORKS. (You can also find it via Nordstrom.) Then I use this pencil to fill in the gaps. This is the most versatile nail polish color: “Mum’s the Word,” if you’re like me and only own one color. If you suffer from hair loss, please get this conditioner. It stops it in its tracks.
- Style: Gap is on Amazon! This $15 diamond tennis bracelet is gorgeous. Broke out this cozy pom cardigan today and it’s making me happy.
- Kids: These Golden Goose-inspired sneakers are AMAZING. LOTTIE DOLLS! The best for travel. This velvet dance/gymnastics leotard makes Lucy so happy. This bath toy organizer/holder is the best we’ve ever had. The girls love these rainbow winter hats.
- Gadgets: This iPhone gimbal is great for family videos. This Canon photo printer has allowed me to update our frames regularly instead of once every few years. This pocket-sized photo printer is great for school projects.
One Home Project Every Day:
- I did all the laundry from our holiday travels before our washing machine broke. And then we had it fixed! Huzzah.
- Mitch took down the Christmas tree.
- I put away the rest of our holiday decor and retired some, like some broken ornaments that I replaced with these picture frame ornaments.
- I cleaned out and organized the kids’ craft cabinets.
- We put the basement back together after fixing the wallpaper.
- I set up my Cricut machine, and printed my first label.
- I went through the girls’ closets and donated clothing that I love but they don’t.
- I donated the last few baby books and toys.
- I started purging random closets.
That’s all for now! Good to be back. :) I missed you!
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