Happy New Year, Friends! :)
I kind of can’t believe I’m here. (On this site, I mean. 😜) As you may remember, I reprioritized things last year, and purposefully put the blog on the back burner. In my 20s and much of my 30s, I had no problem burning the midnight oil and making sure I had new blog posts up on the reg. But when I started pushin’ 40—SO excited about the upcoming decade, btw!—and my babies turned into kids, I found myself unable to keep up with that lifestyle. While I miiiight have considered quitting for a minute there 😉, I ended up sort of taking a gap year instead, haha. From better sleep and uninterrupted time with loved ones to embracing new and old hobbies and taking true vacations, this past year was an awesome reset.
Who’s to say what’s in store for 2024, so why don’t we just dive right into the first “10 Things” of the year?!
- Emma and I learned how to needlepoint! Carly has been trying to get us on board for years, but to be very honest, I thought I couldn’t do it and I also couldn’t imagine where I’d find the time. GAP YEAR FOR THE WIN. When my friend Haley texted our Chicago Mom Friends and told us to sign up for a class at Third Coast Stitches in Lincoln Park, I was an immediate yes… and nearly all our friends signed up, too! It was amazing. And turns out that needlepointing is not difficult at all! Just as Carly said, it simply takes time—in the best possible way. I turn my mind off and needlepoint before bed with a candle and some music on, and it’s the loveliest way to wind down. Emma and I also needlepoint in front of the fire together! (Btw: Emma is 7, and she can totally do it! I simply got her a canvas with larger holes, called a “10 mesh.” It’s easier and faster. I couldn’t justify a handprinted canvas for a seven-year-old, haha, so I used our printer to print out a tulip design I made on Canva, and then used basic friendship bracelet floss. Is it perfect? No. But is my seven-year-old learning and super excited about her new hobby? YES! Anyway, if you’re interested in learning how to needlepoint and you’re based in Chicago, I highly recommend Third Coast Stitches. And if you’re in the Connecticut area, my friend Krista owns the fabulous Penny Linn Designs. Still so amazed by her! (And if you’re seven years old, call Emma.)
- I found the most incredible travel hack for moms with small children. Okay, once again, I have Carly to credit for this. (Thanks for solving all my life problems, CR.) But she sent me a TikTok video of this suitcase, which turns into a toddler transporter, and my life has been forever changed. Lucy is four years old, which means she is an independent woman. But she also tuckers out within about seven minutes of entering an airport. As a mother who is totally over owning a stroller at this stage in life, I’ve tried everything else, from scooters that the kids always abandon to even trying to carry her when things get particularly dire. But this carry-on suitcase needed to be tested. And tested it was. AND IT GETS AN A+. Friends, it is the answer to (nearly) all my small-child travel problems. She loves it. She hops on, and we happily chat as we make our way to the gate, to arrivals for pickup, or to the far-off park-n-save lot. There’s a safety belt for very young children, and the seat simply folds down when you’re done and wanting to stash it overhead on an actual plane. How this wasn’t thought of until now is beyond me, but praise be. I thought I would never recover after that horrifically delayed flight that got Lucy and me into Chicago at 2 a.m. — I had to carry her from the gate all the way to our car. (Harder than childbirth, I swear.) Miamily for the win! Seriously, get it.
- We had to skip New Year’s this year due to a nasty bug. Holy. We knew it was going to happen, but yikes. It was a rough one. The only person who didn’t get sick was Mitch, which was likely both a blessing and a curse for him. 😆 The Larkin Ladies were down for the count, and he definitely administering ibuprofen around the clock. (Thank you, Mitch. We love and owe you.) Anyway, it was a rocky start to the new year, and I was admittedly a bit disappointed about not being able to turn over a new leaf on the big day with the rest of ’em. But New Years sucks, am I right? Like, who’s in the mood to party AGAIN after the sh*tstorm that is the holidays? Gimme Netflix and a 9 p.m. bedtime. January 5th is the new January 1st! (Though I’m not making any actual resolutions. I’ve learned I’m more of a “weekly goals” kind of gal.)
- We’re renovating our mini mudroom, and the space keeps getting better and better. If we’ve learned anything about DIY projects over the last year, it’s that we usually need 10x as long as we think to complete one. TikTok DIYs obviously aren’t real life! These things take time. A lot of time. But in the end, you’ve created something beautiful all on your own—and you’ve picked up new skill sets that will aid you in future projects. So yeah, we totes thought the mudroom would be done months ago, but here we are, haha! Goodness, though. It’s better than I could ever have imagined. Think tongue and groove paneling, walnut benches/ledges and shelves, LVP wood flooring, and brass accents. Can’t get over how affordable projects like these are when you do ’em yourself… and I can’t wait to show you more progress! (Also super proud of the fact that thus far, we have sustained zero injuries. Knock on wood.)
- I’m planning my cousin’s bachelorette in Rosemary Beach with my mom! Guys. My sweet cousin (and my maid of honor) is getting married to the best guy in the world! Years ago, she planned and hosted my bachelorette at her parents’ home on Nantucket, and now I get to plan and host at my parents’ home in Rosemary. FULL CIRCLE. Brb, crying. But my head is spinning with ideas, especially since I got very into crafting in 2023. I can’t wait for everything. Love you, Annie!
- The girls outgrew most of their winter clothing ALL AT ONCE. It was a super fun experience. All of a sudden, Emma was like, “I DON’T HAVE A SINGLE PAIR OF LEGGINGS.” And Lucy’s tops didn’t fit… and she would only wear a handful of Emma’s hand-me-downs. (It’s fine. The basic hand-me-downs always get used; but the girls’ do have their own styles and opinions and I always want to respect that!) I scrambled and found some fun discounted pieces from Zara, Mango, H&M and Abercrombie. Thank goodness for after-Christmas sales. These were our favorites:
- Our extended family is getting a new member and I cry every time I think about it! Oh, guys. It’s SUCH a big deal. I am going to love this baby as my own, haha. And I know my girls will love him or her as a sibling. It’s going to be the best.
- I need to tell you about Libro.fm because it’s fantastic. I’ve been searching for company that lets you download audiobooks in MP3 format so I can put them on the Make-Your-Own Cards for the girls’ Yoto cards. Libro.fm does just that—and its user interface is incredibly easy. Emma and I tested it out the other day and downloaded a couple of Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, and we got them on the Yoto cards in approximately three minutes. What a find!
- I found the perfect chest of drawers on Facebook Marketplace. Oh my gosh. I am continuously scouring the site for scalloped pine furniture but in the past, everything I’ve found has been in far-away states. But praise be! I finally found the one in the burbs. This beaut was only $130. Welcome home! (The plan is to sand it down to raw wood, apply a protective coating, and switch out the hardware. No idea where I’m putting it yet but I’m already in love.)
- Mitch surprised me with a sublimation printer for Christmas. Everyone in my family was like “what the heck is that?” 😆 But sublimation is permanently transferring designs onto materials—traditionally t-shirts and the like, but also lots of other things! It’s basically a step up from iron-ons, and how most companies print their clothing. I haven’t had the chance to open it yet, but I’m beyond pumped. Hopefully I’ll have some cool designs to share soon!
- I made Mitch sentimental sweatshirts. This was, of course, before I knew I was getting a sublimation printer, haha. But Mitch has always wanted nice sweatshirts from his undergraduate and graduate schools, but their colors are terrible. So I designed them on the Cricut, and they came out great! Let me tell you, though: some of those detailed emblems were TOUGH! I’m so happy he loved them. :) You can find my uploaded Cricut designs here. I have one like, guys. I’m kind of a big deal. 😆
- Emma and I are finally planning that New York City trip, and I can’t tell you how excited she is. This has been in the works for so long. But it’s happening! It’s going to be a blast. We have three things on the agenda:
- Baby shower in Connecticut
- See all the architectural NYC sites on Emma’s list (Hopefully with my mom/aunts/cousins!)
- Visit my college friends and their kids in Connecticut (GO STAGS!)
Hmmm. That was more than 10. But we did it, Team! <3