Happy New Years Eve, everyone! I hope you all have the perfect plans for ringing in the new year! Whether it be at a big party or cozied up at home, do whatever your heart calls for. For us, we'll be cozied up at home, eating Chinese food, and having a game night. It's our favorite way to bring in a new year.
I've done a lot of "reflecting" on this past year this whole month of December. The best way to describe this year is that it was very complicated. It was the best year and the worst year. You might be asking, how is that even possible? Well I was blessed with the greatest gift of my life in 2018, the birth of Kai but was also stripped of one of the most important people in my life in 2018 by the death of my dad. If that doesn't make a year complicated, I don't know what does. The ultimate up and down. I've had many people say man you've had a rough year or this was the worst year ever, but I will never say that. Even though the passing of my dad was the hardest thing I've ever had to go through, Kai being born is still the biggest shining star of the year...my life really. So in a way, it's still the best year.
As much as I'm looking forward to 2019 beginning, I'm actually scared for it. New Years Day is probably my favorite day of the year. I love that feeling of new and fresh. You get to "start over," right? While I'm still so excited for that and all the new goals and accomplishments that will come in the new year, I'm also sad to leave 2018. I'm not ready to start a whole new chapter without my dad. When the clock strikes midnight tonight, we'll be in a new year where my dad will never be. But that's life. You have to roll with the punches and make the best of the situation you're handed. I'm trying to hang on to the thoughts that he's not going to be forgotten...ever. But it's still scary to think that a new year is starting tomorrow without him. It makes all this even more final. I'm so ready for the pain and hurt to go away from his passing, but I'm not ready to say goodbye. But life is forcing me to wave goodbye to 2018 and move on a little more.
The other thing that 2019 brings is Kai turning 1. Which is so exciting! But it's also another point of sadness for me. I plan to stop breastfeeding at the 12 month mark and for some reason this is so hard on my heart. It's such a special bond we have together. He's literally lived off of me for almost 2 years now and to think that he no longer will need that brings a lot of sadness to me. There is so much to look forward to with him turning 1, but on this last day of 2018, I am going to hold on to his babiness as much as I possibly can.
As for my 2018 mantra of going with the flow, I think I rocked this. I use to be such a stringent planner and I look back and laugh at myself. I started the year out real strong with going with the flow. I allowed myself to slow down, go in to labor naturally even though I wanted so bad to be in control and know when Kai would arrive. I went with the flow of that historic day in my life too of becoming a mother by trusting my body, my doctor, and the universe to safely bring Kai in to this world no matter what it took or how long it took. I allowed myself to enjoy his newborn stage so well and really bond with him with no expectations of being super mom or adventuring too much. I had a small hiccup mid-year with my bout of PPD, but I give myself grace when I think about this period because it's not my fault. My brain literally was not working the way it needed to in order to function properly and I needed help. Thankfully I got that help and was able to move past it fairly quickly. Most importantly though, I did my absolute best with my dad. I was there for him whenever he needed me, but I was able to keep rolling with life of being a mom, a wife, kicking ass at my job, and still took care of myself. I wouldn't have been able to handle all of it if I wasn't able to let go of things and go with the flow of each and every day. I didn't care if I didn't fold the laundry that exact day or if I didn't finish tidying up the house before bed. There is always tomorrow for those things and that mentality allowed me space for the things that really mattered. Kai, Caleb, and my dad.
I am very grateful for this year of growth and I am also thankful to all of you who are here. Whether you joined me on this journey in 2018 or if you've been here all along and stuck around through this complicated year. Thank you. I hope you all can look back on 2018 with a smile, too and I wish you all the best in the new year!
Metra - This train takes you to and from the suburbs of Chicago in to the city as well as along the lakefront within the city. It's one of the easiest ways to get in to the city if you are staying out in the suburbs and a great way to avoid the awful Chicago traffic.
CTA - This train primarily runs within the city limits of Chicago, but there are a few lines that run out in to the suburbs...the most convenient one being the Blue Line that will take you to O'Hare International Airport. It's only $2.50 to ride one way on the CTA with free transfers to each of the different lines. There are stations all throughout the city. This is the easiest and cheapest way to get around Chicago. You'll need a Ventra card to ride the CTA, but they are easy to get at any of the stations.
Pace - This is Chicago's bus system, which also runs on the Ventra card. There are bus stops all over the city and will take you just about anywhere you need to go, including the suburbs. This is a slower option of transportation though since you'll have to deal with traffic. But it's still better than driving yourself! The cool thing about Pace is they have special buses that will take you to Cubs games, Sox games, and Bears games from the Schaumburg and Lombard hubs if you're out in the suburbs.
Art Institute of Chicago - Chicago's amazing art museum. General admission for adults is $25 and children under 13 are free. They have special admission prices for teens and seniors, as well, which is $19. You can see some amazing pieces of art here including A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat, American Gothic by Grant Wood, and The Old Guitarist by Pablo Picasso. They always have special exhibits going on, as well.
The Field Museum - This is Chicago's museum of natural history. Basic admission is $24 for adults and $17 for children 3-11 years old. There is so much rich history at this museum including a massive dinosaur exhibit, history of the Pacific, and Ancient Egypt. This is home of Sue the dinosaur, who now has her very own exhibit! You can also see Lucy, the famous Australopithicus.
Shedd Aquarium - Chicago's aquarium! General admission for adults is $39.95 and $29.95 for children ages 3-11. Experience all the amazing fish and sea creatures including penguins, dolphins, and sharks. There is a fun dolphin show that runs all day long as well as many special exhibits.
Adler Planetarium - Chicago's space museum. General admission for adults is $12 and $8 for children ages 3-11. Explore the wonders of space through shows, exhibits and events. A big highlight of this space museum is the Mission Moon exhibit that is currently open!
Museum of Science and Industry - This is Chicago's science museum. General admission for adults is $21.95 and $12.95 for children ages 3-11. This museum is so great for kids because it is very interactive and a fun way for them to learn. They always have amazing extra exhibits and IMAX shows, too! A couple of the permanent exhibits that are worth noting are the spinning vortex, the model train, and the U-505 submarine.
Navy Pier - This fun attraction is a pier out on Lake Michigan. There are tons of restaurants, shops, mini golf, and a Ferris wheel that you can ride to see some amazing views of the lake and city. They also have massive exhibition halls that always have something going on in them, too. Whether it's a sports tournament or a special exhibit, it's worth checking out.
Millennium Park - This park is where The Bean is! It's an iconic spot in Chicago and fun to take pictures at. There is also a beautiful garden to walk through, a great cafe, and ice skating during the winter months! Ice skating is free and you can rent skates for $12. They also have a big lawn area where you can sit and relax to enjoy concerts that go on at the amphitheater and there is a fountain area in the summer for kids to run around in to cool off on hot summer days.
Sky Deck at Willis Tower (aka Sears Tower to us Chicagoans) - The Sky Deck is located at the top of the Sears Tower and offers incredible views of Chicago. They installed The Ledge a few years ago where you can walk out in to a glass box that hovers 100 stories above the city. You can look straight down and see the Chicago River.
Lincoln Park Zoo - This free zoo is located right in the heart of the city and is a fun one to do with the kids! You can walk around and see all the animals and it's the perfect size. During the holiday season, they have a special event every night called Zoo Lights, where the whole zoo is lit up to celebrate the holiday season.
Garfield Park Conservatory - This indoor botanical garden is fun to walk around in, especially in the winter. It's a nice break from the cold + it's free!
where to eat + drink
breakfast + brunch + coffee
The Doughnut Vault ( 401 N Franklin St.) - The best doughnuts in Chicago! They have a simple menu + specials every day.
Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits (2051 N California Ave.) - Great biscuits for breakfast, great pies for later. Delicious coffee + amazing jams.
avec (615 W Randolph St.) - A perfect spot for Sunday brunch serving Mediterranean style food. The bacon wrapped dates are a top 5 food item of all time for me.
Miller's Pub (134 S Wabash Ave.) - A Chicago institution serving the best burgers. Standard American fare done so well.
Lou Malnatis (1120 N State St.) - Best pizza joint in Chicago. The original spot for deep dish pizza. Sausage deep dish is our favorite!
Cindy's (12 S Michigan Ave.) - A swanky rooftop spot overlooking Michigan Ave. Amazing views of Millennium Park and Lake Michigan. What's even more amazing is their food...especially the lobster roll.
Tortoise Supper Club (350 N State St.) - Our favorite dinner spot in Chicago. A traditional American fare spot with a nice intimate feel. The food is the best in the city, especially the Berkshire pork chop.
Quartino (626 N State St.) - The best Italian food in the city. All served family style for sharing. There's nothing on the menu that isn't a 10 out of 10. All their pastas are made in house and I honestly can't pick a favorite!
Frontera Grill (445 N Clark St.) - The famous Rick Bayless Mexican restaurant. Their enchiladas are mouth watering and their margaritas are perfection. + the chips & salsa & guac are phenomenal.
Garrett's Popcorn (4 E Madison St.) - The best gourmet popcorn you'll ever have. Get the a large bag of Chicago mix and walk over to Millennium Park to sit and enjoy. Be careful though...the whole bag will be gone before you know it!
Original Ferrara Bakery (2210 W Taylor St.) - This 100 year old Italian bakery is the real deal. I personally think they are better than what you'll find in Italy! The tiramisu and canolis are the best we've ever had.
Alliance Patissere (615 N State St.) - A little French bakery with great macarons. They serve Collectivo coffee and is a fun little spot to pop in to for some sweets any time of the day.
cocktails + bars
Andy's Jazz Club (11 E Hubbard St) - A jazz club with a full bar and menu. Enjoy some drinks and listen to some spectacular jazz music.
Three Dots & a Dash (435 N Clark St.) - A fun little underground tiki bar! They serve some elaborately decorated drinks that are so yummy. It's worth booking a reservation to get a table so you can check out their food menu, too. The pork sliders are amazing.
Watershed (601 N State St.) - This basement cocktail bar is our favorite in the city. It's located underneath Pops for Champagne...another great bar, but they serve all local Midwest spirits, beers, and wines. It's a swanky local watering hole of sorts. It's nice and intimate and the perfect spot for great drink and conversation with good company.
where to stay
The Palmer House (17 E Monroe St.) - A beautiful Hilton hotel located in the Loop. Just a few steps away from Michigan Ave and Grant Park.
Sheraton Grand Chicago (301 E N Water St.) - The perfect spot to be if you love to shop. This hotel is right off the Magnificent Mile.
Hey friends, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! We had a day of pure magic yesterday. We slept in a little bit...need to take advantage of that in these early years as much as possible, ha! But after Kai was all fed, we headed downstairs and the magic began. Kai was so excited to open his big bag from Santa and see all the goodies he brought. We opened our stockings and then had our delicious breakfast that Caleb makes for us every year...French toast casserole! I'll have to have him put the recipe up on here next year. We opened presents after breakfast and then just relaxed in our PJs all day long. Our Papa Joe and Grandma spent the whole day with us and we had an amazing Christmas dinner later in the day together to finish out the celebration. We deeply missed having my dad here, but it was a perfect as it could possibly be for it being Kai's first Christmas.
Kai Bear turned 11 months old on Christmas Eve, though! Where has the time gone?! I can't believe this is our last Little Kai Bear Date before he turns 1! This last month has been more fun that I can possibly have imagined and my love has grown for this little guy even more...if that's even possible.
Weight: 19.4 lbs
Height: 28 in
You are the most adventurous eater, little man! You've tried and loved so much in the last month. I think the highlights though are chorizo and eggs. It is your favorite breakfast that Dad makes for you. Of course you need some spice and flavor to like your eggs, huh? You wouldn't be our son if you didn't! You also tried salmon recently, too. You are kind of indifferent to it but you really don't like it if it has lemon on it. You're so good at feeding yourself now. You pick things up with your little fingers so well, and you just feed yourselves throughout meal times. It's quite amazing and I just love eating together as a family. We're still going strong with breastfeeding and mama's milk is still your preferred milk of choice. You no longer need your liquid feeding before bed anymore now, too. You drink milk 4 times a day now and are still having around 24 oz. I can feel the end coming next month, but I'm just trying to soak in these last few weeks we have of this incredible bond we have. It has been the biggest honor of my life to be able to feed and sustain you for this long, my little love.
We went on a BIG adventure this last month, bud! You took your first plane ride and we went to Salt Lake City, UT to meet your cousins! We celebrated Christmas early out there with your Auntie Em, Uncle Rad, and Mimi. You had so much fun playing with your cousins and exploring Salt Lake. We also took you to see Santa Clause a few weekends ago. You were so intrigued by him. I can tell you know he's the big guy and you need to behave so he'll bring you lots of goodies on Christmas morning! I think you asked him for more Mickeys this year ;). Our Papa Joe came to visit for Christmas, too and we got to spend a whole week with him! We took him to have ramen in the city and we went to the Museum of Science and Industry to see all the Christmas trees decorated from around the world.
I can't believe how much of a mover and explorer you are, little bear! You scale the furniture now and have figured out how to get yourself back down to the ground if you're standing up. You've practiced standing on your own a couple of times, too! You crawl over to me, stand up, and let go. You plop right down on to your booty after about half a second but you always have the biggest smile on your face when you do it. You are just so much fun! You laugh so much and are so loving. We had a play date with Avie last week and you had so much fun with her. You two crawled around and played with all your toys. Your favorite playmate of all time though is of course Wrigley. You've started throwing his tennis ball for him and you laugh every single time he runs after it. You guys are already best friends and it makes my heart beat so hard in my chest. I love you two so much!
You rarely sleep with me in the sling these days but when you do fall asleep in one, I relish it so much. You are very independent when it comes to sleep and go right to bed every night when we put you down in your crib. You prefer sleeping in your crib for your naps too but still enjoy your car seat naps, too, when we're out and about. Your new favorite thing we do with you now is bath time! We got rid of your infant tub and you take baths in the big tub. You try to swim around in the water! You play with your rubber duckies and splash all over the tub.
You are the light of my life, Kai. I thank God for you multiple times a day and truly just look at you in amazement. How I made such a beautiful, loving, intelligent, fun, little boy is beyond me. It was God's work. I love you so much, baby boy!
We here at Tiny Dapper Fox...aka the Cabrera Crew, just wanted to wish you all a happy holiday season! We hope you all have a joyful holiday with your family and friends and wish you all the happiness in the world in the new year!
All photos courtesy of Brandie Scales
I hope you all are having a marvelous week! I'm almost done with Christmas shopping...talk about getting down to crunch time, huh? I'm so looking forward to this weekend and Christmas though. Our Papa Joe is flying in tomorrow to spend the holiday with us and tomorrow is my last day of work for the year, too! One more sleep and then it'll really feel like Christmas!
During the Christmas season, I bake ALL the cookies. I love baking so much so Christmas time is like an awesome marathon to me. One kind of cookie I've always struggled with though are gingerbread cookies. I love them but have never been able to get them quite right. I like cookies to be on the soft side and they always turn out too crisp for my liking. Well this year I finally nailed it! I tweaked my recipe a bit more and voila, the perfect gingerbread cookies came out of the oven! So here is my new and improved, delicious gingerbread cookie recipe!
Follow me on Pinterest for lots more yummy recipes, too!
I’m Diana; curator & author of Tiny Dapper Fox. Here you’ll find posts on motherhood, home life, travel, & fashion/beauty as well as City Guides for places all around the world. Make yourself cozy and let’s be friends!
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