Sofia’s Newborn Photos and a Three Week Update

She’s here!!! Can you guys believe it?! Our sweet Sofia Rose arrived on January 5, 2020 at 5:03am and she’s as perfect as can be. John and I are so in love with her and we have been soaking up every moment with our sweet girl. The love we have for this little human is indescribable and we’ve never been happier. Tonight I’m sharing Sofia’s newborn photos that we shot when she was just eight days old, as well as a quick update on our life at home with a newborn and how we’re adjusting as first time parents and as a family of three!

It’s been three weeks since we brought Sofie home and she’s changed so much already in such a short amount of time (she’s 24 days old today). I’ve been embracing this newborn stage and trying not to take any of my time with her for granted, including those long and sometimes sleepless nights because I know this stage won’t last forever.

John stayed home with us for the first two weeks and his mom has been coming over almost every day for a few hours at a time to help out and spend time with her granddaughter. She brings us lunch or dinner, tidies up, holds Sofie while she sleeps so I can take a shower and get some rest or to just get things done (there’s a lot more laundry and cleaning up to do these days). Yesterday I made my first trip to Target and even managed to put some lipstick on (a win-win) which made me feel like a brand new woman after spending every day over the past few weeks in my pajamas or sweats with a newborn attached to my breast 90% of the time. Newborns feed on demand and around the clock the first few weeks so it’s been a huge adjustment for me since I used to get 8 hours of sleep each night and get dressed up for work and now I’m waking up every 2-3 hours to nurse and am lucky if I brush my hair and teeth in the morning!

I had always planned on breastfeeding so I was really fortunate that Sofie was able to latch on from day one and is nursing like a champ. She’s growing and filling out each day and is completely healthy which is all we could ask for. As far as Sofie’s personality and temperament, she’s such a good baby. She’s super sweet, loves to cuddle, smiles and only gets fussy when she needs a diaper change or to nurse. I try to be good about feeding her as soon as she starts suckling on her hands which is one of the early cues a newborn is hungry and not waiting too long for her to start crying. We do go through a period when she gets fussier than usual and needs to cluster feed every 20-30 minutes or so over a period of a couple of hours at night. It does seems to be fading out (thankfully), but basically she flails one arm and “punches” my breast, kicks her legs and grows really impatient while she nurses. They say the level of Prolactin which is the hormone that signals the breasts to make more milk is higher in the evening which contributes to a drop in your milk supply. Never come in between a newborn and their milk! It’s pretty funny actually and we’ve been meaning to record it one of these days and show it to her when she’s older.

Even though I currently have the sole responsibility of feeding Sofie, John has been such a big help in other ways and does whatever he can, whenever he can such as changing her diapers, spending time with her and holding her as soon as he gets home from work, driving us to the pediatrician’s office and running out for groceries or whenever we need something. Having that kind of support from your partner and your family is so important and makes a world of difference for new moms because those first few weeks with a newborn can be tough and exhausting. We both have so much respect for those single parents out there who are doing this all on their own and a big shout out to all the amazing dads out there who support their partners and are their for their kids because they want to be, not just when they have to be.

As far as milestones, Sofie has been staying awake longer during the day, is really alert and curious, makes great eye contact and has really strong reflexes (she’s been able to hold her neck up a bit since a few days after she was born). We’re looking forward to seeing her grow more and more each day and seeing her personality come through. Becoming a family of three has been a welcome change and quite a bit of an adjustment as first time parents, but we’re getting the hang of it and are doing the best we can.

[Photography Credit]: McCarrell Photography

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2019 Christmas Photos

Happy Monday, all! Can you believe there are only nine more days until Christmas? And seventeen days until little Miss C’s due date?!! Eek. I just can’t believe it. So many different emotions now that we’re in the home stretch. Mostly, we’re just so excited to meet our little lady, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little nervous as we anticipate her official debut. All we can do is just take it day by day and embrace these last couple of weeks together as a party of two. It’s just been the two of us for the past 14 years so it’ll be a welcome change as we transition to a family of three. My last day at the office is this coming Friday and I’ll be on maternity leave until spring so I’ll have a couple of weeks to myself to get situated and get some rest (hopefully). We’ve been uber busy these past few months, as you can imagine, and the holidays are always full of social events. Pregnancy (or my swollen feet) have not slowed me down. Also, I’m so thankful to John for getting the majority of our Christmas shopping done for us this past weekend and really going above and beyond this entire pregnancy to help me out any way he can. Kuddos to the best husband and soon-to-be dad. Seriously. He’s been so amazing and I can’t wait to see him with our sweet girl.

A few weeks ago we shot our winter maternity photos that we used for our Christmas cards this year and I’m so happy with how they turned out. A special thanks to Sheena Ann Photography for capturing our last Christmas photos as a party of two. I’ve also linked both of my dresses below (the white sweater dress is non-maternity).

Have a great week! xo

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18 Chicagoland Restaurants and Bars Decorated For The Holiday Season

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Hey guys! I hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving and enjoyed your long weekend, as well as snag some awesome Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. If you didn’t get any shopping in over the weekend, there are plenty of sales still happening so make sure to check out my list of Black Friday Deals from last week.

This past Sunday, my lovely girlfriends and I got together for our Annual Girls Christmas Party; a tradition our girlfriend Jen started about 15 years ago with only a handful of girls that has now grown to a group of 12. Each year we get together during the holidays for brunch or dinner and a gift exchange/grab bag. It’s just a fun excuse to kick off the holiday season with one another since it’s a lot harder to get together as often as we used to due to busy schedules, careers and families, although we do get together for important events and celebrations whenever possible. Most of us have been friends for over a decade (or two), and have seen each other go through many different stages in life. It feels so nice to be surrounded by such a wonderful group of women you can have fun with, but who also support you, love you and encourage you without any jealousy or drama.

This year we hosted our Annual Girls Christmas Party at Beatnik Chicago in West Town, a restaurant with an eclectic mix of furniture and decor from all over the world that offers flavorful dishes made up of ingredients from Asia, Mexico, the Middle East and South America. If Beatnik wasn’t already the perfect choice for Sunday Brunch, the restaurant was beautifully decorated for the holiday season with lit-up Christmas trees, candelabras and crystal chandeliers which has inspired me to compile a list of 18 festive restaurants and bars to visit with your friends or family during the holiday season.

RESTAURANTS

1. All Chocolate Kitchen: Located in Geneva (about 41 miles west of downtown Chicago); serves chocolates, cakes, pastries, house made gelato, coffee and other savory bites. They also make life-size candy and cake installations for the holidays.

2. Beatnik Chicago: There are two locations; one in West Town and one on the river in the loop. Beatnik On The River is closed on Sundays, but both locations are open for lunch and dinner. Our bill came out to $46/pp. with mimosas and cocktails.

3. Club Lucky: Cozy Italian eatery located in Wicker Park/Bucktown.

4. Graham’s Fine Chocolates and Ice Cream: Another chocolate shop in Geneva where you can even watch them make candy (a friend of mine recommended both All Chocolate Kitchen and Graham’s).

5. Happy Camper Pizzeria: Pizza place that also serves cocktails in a warehouse setting with tire swings and Airsteams. There are two Chicago locations; one in Old Town and one in Wicker Park. There’s also a location in Denver.

6. LUXBAR: Located in the Gold Coast. Had brunch with a girlfriend last year and it was very cozy and festive for the holiday season.

7. Meson Sabika: Mansion with eight dining rooms decorated in traditional Spanish decor located in Naperville; serves Sunday Brunch and tapas style dinner (had brunch with a couple of girlfriends last year). Super cozy and charming for the holidays. Cost of brunch is $34.95/pp which includes a mimosa; $16.95 for children 7-12 years old. Great venue for weddings and other events.

8. Miracle at Sable Kitchen & Bar: Restaurant/cocktail bar in River North decked out in holiday decor, offering ten Christmas-themed cocktails, a DJ and games.

9. The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel: Beautifully decorated this time of year; John and I are going for brunch this coming Sunday. Brunch is served from 11am-2pm and The Lobby is also where the celebrated Peninsula Afternoon Tea is served.

10. The Walnut Room at Macy’s State Street: A Chicago tradition since 1905; open for lunch and dinner from 11am to 8pm.

BARS

1. Butch McGuire’s: One of Chicago’s most popular bars located in Gold Coast at Rush and Division; famous for its over the top Christmas decor.

2. Frosty’s Pop-Up Christmas Bar: Holiday season pop-up in it’s third year. Super fun and completely decked out for the holidays with four different bars on three levels. They serve Christmas-themed cocktails, have a DJ and a singing Santa Show every hour. Open from 4pm to 4am and tickets are $15-$30. Runs through January 5. An added bonus: Some of the bartenders are models and a lot of them are good looking.

3. Happy’s at Chicago Athletic Association: Pop-up bar located on the hotel’s ground floor, open for the third year in a row. Serves top-notch holiday cocktails and snacks with Christmas tunes playing in the background, festive decor and plenty of twinkling lights. Located at 12 S. Michigan Ave. Closed on Sundays.

4. Rudolph’s Pop-Up Bar at Casey Morans: Sports bar in Wrigleyville with several themed spaces and character appearances with plenty of holiday decorations and cocktails. Food is also available.

5. Santa Baby at Deuce’s and Diamonds: One of the largest and over-the-top Christmas bars located in Wrigleyville. Offers multiple themed spaces and bars. Free on weekdays; $20 on weekends.

6. Sippin’ Santa at Cortland’s Garage: A suburban Christmas pop-up in Arlington Heights; open Sunday through Thursday 12pm-11pm and Friday-Saturday 11am-2am.

7. The Christmas Club at the Country Club: Another Wrigleyville bar with two floors and three bars that offers six “naughty or nice” shots and snacks . No cover.

8. The Sixth: A new Yippee Ki Yay Christmas pop-up bar in Lincoln Square inspired by the movie, Die Hard. Offers 15 specialty cocktails and is open every day except Mondays, all through December.

You can check out other pop-up bars that are open for the season, here and here.

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Early Black Friday Deals 2019

Left work early today and I’m looking forward to spending Thanksgiving tomorrow with our family! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and this year I’m feeling extra grateful and thankful for the biggest blessing coming our way. We keep it pretty casual and spend the day at my in-laws just hanging out with the immediate family before we sit down for dinner. In the past, John and I would make our rounds and visit both families, but after my aunt passed away and with my dad’s poor health over the years, my side of the family no longer cooks so my mom has joined us the past couple of years, and I typically spend Black Wednesday with my dad since he prefers to stay home. How do you celebrate your Thanksgiving holiday?

Also, as we all know, with Thanksgiving comes one of the biggest shopping days of the year, which in recent years has begun the day of and now lasts an entire week (I never shop in stores on Black Friday and always prefer online) so I wanted to share several Black Friday Deals already happening so you can get a head start on your shopping and avoid the crowds. You can skim through my Lookbooks for some inspo. and click on the images to shop or just click on the links of each individual store. I’ll keep adding to the list as new deals happen. I hope you all have a great holiday and enjoy your day however and with whomever you choose to spend it. xo

Abercrombie & Fitch: 50% off entire store + FREE shipping!

Ann Taylor: 50% off EVERYTHING with code: BLACKFRIDAY

Express: 50% off EVERYTHING + FREE shipping on all orders!

LOFT: 50% off with code: INDULGE.

Macy’s: Black Friday Doorbusters including 60% off outerwear, extra 15-20% off with code: BLKFRI and FREE shipping at $25!

Old Navy: 50% off EVERYTHING!

More Early Black Friday Deals:

Banana Republic: 50% off regular priced items.

Bloomingdale’s: Take $25 off every $150 you spend (including beauty) online. Get a $20 gift card for every $100 you spend on a large selection of items in-store.

Goodnight Macaroon: 30% off site-wide with code: GIVING; 40% off $250+ with code: GIVING40; and 50% off $450+ with code: GIVING50.

H&M: 30% off everything for H&M Loyalty Members until November 28 (free to join).

J.Crew: 50% off your purchase + 60% off sale styles for rewards members with code: SHOPFIRST; and 40% off for non-members with code: WHYWAIT.

J.Crew Factory: 60% off everything and extra 50% off clearance.

Kohls: Get $15 cash for every $50 spent + take an extra 15% off with code: GIVETHANKS.

Nordstrom: Up to 50% off + spend $125 get $25; spend $250 get $50; spend $400 get $100.

Saks Fifth Avenue: Thanksgiving Day sale up to 60% off and up to 50% off on designer items.

Target: Up to 40% off home items + extra 15% off furniture, rugs and decor with code: TURKEY. Save $10 when you spend $40 on clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.

Walmart: Up to 60% off fashion; up to 40% off video games and toys; and up to 25% off home deals.

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Newborn Holiday Gift Guide With Walmart

With five weeks left until we meet our girl and only four more weeks until Christmas, today I’m sharing my first holiday gift guide of the season for anyone with a little one on the way!

Even though we still have quite a bit to do at the house in preparation for little Miss C’s arrival, I feel better knowing that a lot of the big things have been crossed off our list such as getting our car seats installed, putting the crib and bassinet together, washing her clothes, and knowing that any essentials we might need now or in the future, we can easily purchase at our local Walmart or Walmart.com. Walmart’s shop online, pick up in-store option and their free 2-day delivery makes shopping (and life) so much easier and less stressful, especially with a newborn on the way.

I’ve been really impressed with Walmart’s modern baby gear and amazing brands (a lot of which we received at our shower) like 4moms, UPPABaby, Owlet, Infant Optics, DockATot, TULA, Parent’s Choice, and Little Star Organics, their new organic bedding and clothing line, so I wanted to put together a newborn holiday gift guide with some of our favorite items and essentials to help make your holiday gifting a little easier.

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Thank you to Walmart for sponsoring this post.

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