Tag Archives: birthday

cycling round again

Oh hi, guys!

Today’s my birthday. I’m 32 years old, and I promise, I’m good with it.

I’m finding that spending most of the first few years of my 30s pregnant is a really helpful distraction from the aging process.

I recommend it, actually.

So this has been another big year, and among my key accomplishments have been the following:

  1. Keeping Theo alive for 12 more months. This continues to be my best and most challenging work, on a daily basis.
  2. Getting ready to bring another baby into this world. Even better, fulfilling Boo’s wishes for a little sister.
  3. Taking a new job! After almost ten years and countless experiences (and happy hours) at SB, it was time to move up and on, and most importantly, to just try something new. So far, it’s been fun and different, and I never wake up in the middle of the night feeling a panic attack coming on, which is worth more than I thought it would be.
  4. JW got a new job-okay, so I had nothing to do with that, but it’s still awesome and I’m proud of him and we live in the same house, so it counts.
  5. My baby nephew G was born. And even though he’s not my baby, he counts as partially mine according to the Rules of Friendship, and he’s perfect.
  6. My pals M & M got married. I love all the love, and I love that my friends have awesome partners-in-life.

Obviously there were a million other moments that counted during 31, but those are among my favorites. I know that 32 has more in front of it, including bringing in a lady baby, going to see Hamilton (yes, this is on the list!), welcoming my baby sister to her 30s, accepting that my red-headed nephew will graduate from high school and go to college (where I’ll likely stalk him) and watching my friends expand their families (and so also mine!) with new spouses and babies and pets.

And with that, there’s no time to waste. I’m already hours into this new trip around the sun, and I’ve got things to do.

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Been walking my mind to an easy time, my back turned towards the sun

Morning, chickadees!

And despite the fact that it’s the end of February and it’s been super cold and it’s only Tuesday, this is an exceptional day, chickens.

Boo’s a year old today!

This past 365 days have been the hardest, easiest, funniest, scariest, best, best, best days of all my days so far, because of Theo.

It’s astounding how much can change in a year, and in the past twelve months, Boo has gone from a tiny, sleepy little newborn into a stubborn, hilarious, joyful one-year old.

And so in honor of hitting the first year mark, I’ve compiled a list of the 12 things I’ve learned, feel like sharing, or want to make clear about Theo and our family this morning.

1. Being a mom does not mean you’re not a regular lady. I talked about this on my birthday,but it’s still true. I’m a mom, but I’m also still a daughter, sister, cousin, aunt, and friend, and I still like and dislike all the same things. Even when I was tired and Boo was new, I tried to keep track of myself in all the mom-ness. I think one day it will be a good lesson to pass on: don’t lose yourself when you gain your family. Rinse and repeat.

2. Right when you’re completely sure that you are failing at everything and that your baby is more difficult than every other baby who has ever lived, he will smile. And it will make up for every hour of sleep deprivation so far (please note: 12 month old smiles after a night of no sleep might make you want to drop said 12 month old with a relative for six months- this is not the same thing)

3. Watching babies figure things out, like how to lift their heads, use their hands, or grab their feet is one of the best things ever. We take the simple stuff for granted you guys, but this gives you a new appreciation for it.

4. Babies give you permission to be silly, and thank God, because we have all grown far too serious around here. Theo loves nothing more than when you perch an action figure on your head and dance around, and honestly, JW and I think it’s pretty much the best too.

5. When I was growing up and my mother was not doing exactly what I wanted, I would complain. Loudly and a lot. My mother always looked at me and said I’m doing the best I can, and then I would go off and sulk. That line has become my silent mantra this year, and you know what? It’s all we can ask. Thanks, Mom, for that one.

6. My little baby is going to be amazing. Even though he’s only been around 12 months, I can already tell that he’s going to be kind, smart, courageous, and funny. So he’s going to be his Dad, basically. I’ve also noticed his stubborn streak, and my friends, that’s where his mother’s genes come in. Luckily, that’s a game I know. I’m onto you Boo, and no, you can’t swim in the toilet.

7. It is too hard to be stern all the time when babies do hysterical things they shouldn’t do, like look you in the eye and throw bananas over their heads. If you don’t crack a smile at least half the time, you’re doing better than me, so please, teach me your ways.

8. Gross stuff is no longer gross once you have a baby. For the sake of civility, I won’t go into that any further.

9. Don’t worry too much about whether or not you know what you’re doing. You probably don’t, but you also totally have this, you guys. All babies need is someone to love them, feed them, and keep them from launching off of high places (and you know, everything’s flexible). I have read zero books and have learned to just relax and go with it. My method is pretty much survival, and also, having some fun.

10. You don’t have to ditch all your friends if they don’t have kids. When I spent some time in online mom groups, I found that lots of women said they lost their friends because their priorities had shifted. I don’t have many friends with kids, and you know what? It’s awesome. They dote on Theo, they don’t know if what I’m doing is legitimate or not, they bring me wine and hang out in my condo, and they have none of their own kids to compare my little guy to. Also, when they do have kids, they will totally think I am wise even though I am not even a little.

11. Having a baby, if you have the right kind of partner, will make you love them even more. I know so many things about JW now that I didn’t before. For example, who knew my husband could do voices in children’s books so well (please, ask him about his “Beige crayon” impression) or that he was creative enough to come up with monikers for Boo such as “Mr. Wigglesworth.”  There’s no one I’d rather be with when we both realize we forgot to strap Theo into his carseat.

12. Theo is the best, you guys. He’s taught me pretty much everything I know about everything, and I don’t even remember what my life looks like without him. Babies make you feel all the feelings, and I can’t wait to see what comes up in the next 12 months with this little guy.

Happy birthday, Boo. Thanks for making our lives so much sweeter.



Filed under Good times, Reflections

my favorite age is now.

Ok, chickadees, today’s my birthday. I’m solidly in my 30s now, and while I wouldn’t say I’m good with it, I don’t really have a choice, and also my bffs gave me a lecture on how collectively, we’re good with it.

I will point out that they haven’t hit 31 yet, but they’re right.

This was a big ride around the sun for me, because I became a mom, which is pretty much the coolest thing you can become, based on the amount I’ve learned and the fun I’ve had so far. Boo’s right behind me with a birthday, and I can’t wait to celebrate him.

Aside from Boo’s arrival, I think the biggest realization that I had in year 30 was that just because I became a mom didn’t mean I stopped being anything else. It’s an add-on benefit, it doesn’t strip you of your (misplaced) love of tequila shots or important friendships or mean that you’re somehow less of a person and more of a title.

I’ve been Nikki for all 31 years I’ve been here.

I’m happy about it too, because I think she’s a pretty fun lady, almost 100% of the time.

If I can get one thing to Theo (and any potential siblings he may have) in the next few decades, I think this year has shown me the important lesson I’ve gotten yet:

We’re all just doing the best we can. None of us are sure we’re doing it  quite right, but if we had it all figured out, we’d be bored. Let’s help each other out, because guess what? It doesn’t cost me anything to be nice.

And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating.

IMG_0334 nikjenkyphoto (33)

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and next up we have a party.

You guys, it’s Friday.

Which means I have two days before the end of my maternity leave, which I will have mixed feelings about always.

So let’s breeze over it.

Far more important is that today is my bff’s birthday. I’ve been hanging with JC since she was JD (not that long ago, really), and also, for the last eleven birthdays.

We started the last decade together, and I’m happy to report that we’re sailing into this next one (and hopefully many, many more) side by side.

Nothing could make me happier.

JC makes me laugh on the regular, entertains every last ridiculous thing I do with good humor, and has been with me countless times to ensure our adventures don’t turn into (total) disasters. She’s selfless, loyal, and smart.

She also has the best hair.

An important friendship quality.

First she was my friend, then she was my roommate, now she’s basically my sister, and her next move, she’s Theo’s godmother.

Because I couldn’t think of anyone better to look out for my little guy.

JC will stick to you like glue, chicks, because she’s the best kind of friend out there.



We tackled serious (and really fun) things this decade: college, trekking across Europe, life after college, first jobs, engagements, weddings, vacations, and becoming (semi) real adults.

The next set of ten has some high expectations, chickadees, but I’m partnered up with the best girl to take the leap with me.

Enjoy every second of this celebration, JC. You deserve it, la mora!

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last weeks and filling it to the end.

Morning chickens!

Effectively, I have hit the last week of my pregnancy.

Unless we’ve got a little guy who likes to run late like his mom.

Only time will tell.

I was happy to let him hang out in his present environment through the weekend though, since we had about eight million errands to get done before finally calling it “good enough.”

People keep asking if I’m ready, and while I generally smile and say “as ready as I’ll be” (which is true), what I also mean it, c’mon you guys, no one’s ever ready for this and if they say they are they are likely liars.

And no, I still don’t have any diapers.

Luckily, the hospital’s sure to have some on hand.

What I do have is a place for BW to sleep, one thousand outfits, and JW and I willing and (mostly, we think) able to give this new adventure everything we’ve got.

So yeah, if that means we’re ready then show up any time, buddy.


Also this weekend, one more round of kettlebells in which Gene told me I should probably think about naming the baby something Russian like Boris (this is only slightly amusing when you’re 39 weeks pregnant and actively doing squat jumps), yoga where I could basically use my bump as a prop, all the Olympics, fried chicken birthday-celebrating, checking out the teens in their semiformal high school dance outfits, a stop by from LW, CS, and our nephew Sam, and a day of letting my mom feed me like I’m a fatted calf.

If this is to be the last weekend before the crazy sets in, it was exactly the way I would have wanted to spend it.

Enjoy the start of this one, chickadees, I hear above freezing is headed out way this week.

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racing down the home stretch

Friday Friday Friday!

I’m so happy we’ve hit the weekend, and while I cannot wait for the imminent arrival of our new little guy, I have decided I would like the next two days to get a couple more things done.

I know writing this down basically means he’ll show up in the middle of my errands, unless he’s decided to be more compliant after the Breech Incident.

I can only hope.

Yesterday, because I have the best coworkers on the planet (who keep managing to surprise me, despite the fact that I thought I was tough to surprise), I was treated to my second shower of the week, which meant even more cake, hanging out, and gifts for BW.


On top of that last night, my BFF JC hosted a passel of my lady friends at her home, where we enjoyed most possibly the delicious appetizer spread of all time, drank wine, and chatted and watched the Olympics.

So far, 30 seems to be just as fun as 29, so I’ve got no complaints.

Up tonight: one more round of birthday celebrating, involving fast food fried chicken, because that’s something I decided that I deserve one time during my pregnancy, and as you can see below, time grows short.



And with that, I’m off to make it through one more day of work, hopefully with a pre-indulging yoga practice this evening. Enjoy the above-0 temperatures and the promise of the weekend in front of us, chickens!

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headed into the next decade.

You guys, today, it’s official.

I’m headed straight out of my 20s.

Hello, new decade.

I’ve been so caught up in everything else going on, that I haven’t really had a lot of time to mourn my youth or get too anxious about this age milestone, and so I’m gonna try and keep it that way. Instead, I’m going to focus on the ten coolest things I’ve done in this past decade. I have not one doubt that the next ten years has a million more adventures in store for me- and isn’t that what life is all about, anyway? So here goes:

1. When I was 20, I lived in Chicago. I started out the decade in the same place I ended it. However, it was during this year that my bff JC and I packed it up, boarded a plane, and headed over to Rome, where we lived for four months. We learned some Italian, traveled to so many different cities and countries, and have approximately one million stories from those few months that I will treasure every single day of my life.

I also had the ridiculously lucky pleasure of meetings some of my best friends on this trip.



2. I graduated from college, thus unleashing myself into the real world. I stuck around Chicago, deciding it deserved to be my permanent home, shacked up with my roommates, signed a lease, and crossed my fingers that everything would work out in the end. Spoiler alert: everything worked out in the end.



3. I found myself a real job, using only Careerbuilder.com and a desperate need to pay my rent. Seven + years later, I’m still hanging around, because it turns out, association management is an actual career and I turned out to be fairly competent at it. Aside from being able to pay my bills for the better half of the decade, I’ve learned so many things, gotten a chance to work with great people, and again, met some of my best friends. Which is basically the most important thing I’ve ever done.



4. JW & I decided that being just friends wasn’t really working out, so we gave the whole relationship thing a shot, which has turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself.

He even loved me when I decided to dye my hair brown. Ha.

5. I became a race runner, triathlon completer, bike rider, kettle-beller, and yogi in my 20s. Basically, I learned that the best way to take care of my body was to use it for a myriad of different activities that made me calmer, stronger, and sometimes came with medals. Everyone’s got their thing, and I spent the past decade figuring out that for me, the best thing is to just do something. I’ve got a discipline at the age of 30 that I didn’t possess when I started this decade.

Stretching out before the race

6. JW and I got married. Marriage is pretty much, for us, the same as it was pre-marriage, but there really is nothing like celebrating how much you love someone with all your favorite people in the world in one place. As far as I’m concerned, I couldn’t have picked a better co-captain to the Palluzzi-Wagenschutz team.

7. RA came my way. This one’s easy to see as not such a cool addition to my 20s, but you guys, it taught me so much about what it means to accept limitations without really conceding defeat. If I could get rid of it, I would in a heartbeat, but my diagnosis and everything after have taught me more about being patient, listening to my body, and not giving up than I would have learned in several decades combined otherwise.


8. I became a homeowner. Well, JW and I became joint condo owners, which mostly means instead of the landlord fixing things, he does it instead. However, this felt pretty grown up, and also means that I can put holes in whatever walls I want, which is Very Adult.


9. Baby time! This is probably one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me, let alone in a particular decade, but I feel like it was a fitting end to this defined 10 years. The last decade has been about a lot of things that affect mostly me, which was exactly how it should have been- your 20s are a good time to try out, mess up, and learn all about who you are. I’m excited to share this new adventure with JW and BW starting fresh in this brand new set of ten.


10. The final coolest thing about the past 10 years is probably more of a thread or a theme. When I look back at all the fun, confusing, frustrating, exciting things that happened to me in my 20s (and there are a million that I can’t fit in this blog post), the best part about all of it is that, for the most part, I’ve ended the decade with the same people standing by my side who were there at the beginning of it. Of course there are always upsetting subtractions and important additions to the tribe, but for the most part, I still have the privilege of loving the same set of amazing, hysterical people who I’m hoping will hang with me through the next five decades or so. How can you be sad about getting older for one second when you have these people with you for the journey, chickadees?

And with that, I’m off to see what kind of trouble I can get into during the first day of a fresh decade. Enjoy the sunshine if you’ve got it chickadees, I certainly will be.


Filed under Good times, Reflections

keep moving ’til you can’t.

Back at Monday so fast, chickens.

It was a productive, happy little weekend though, so I’ll take the monotony of the commute for a few days, if I must.

This weekend, JW and I finished up pretty much all of the shopping we need to get done before BW gets here (you know, aside from diapers. I keep forgetting about that one), and it is now official: the baby has more gear than he needs.

He also has more places to sit down in this house than I do, by virtue of the collection of swings, bouncers, sleepers, and saucers we’ve amassed.

It’s good to have choices, right?


I went to bells this weekend, where I very slowly lunged and squatted, thinking that if nothing else, swinging a weight around might turn out to be a good way to induce labor.

I’m not sure I’m going to pigeon-pose my way into the delivery room, so it’s important to keep up both practices, from where I’m standing.

After Gene proclaimed that he loved me for showing up, he proceeded to eye me warily for 60 minutes, suggesting that I maybe quit it with the burpees and also, did I know I didn’t have to do so many squat jumps.

I’d like to point out that at this juncture, they’re more like jump hops.

And I’m doing them all.

When class was over, he walked me down the stairs, where I promised him I’d either see him next week or I’d have a baby.

You’ve gotta keep moving until you can’t chickens.

Let’s get this last week of my 20s, and potentially this last week of being pregnant, started.

Enjoy the sunshine if you’ve got it.


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Filed under Chicago, Did I really do that?, Reflections

I like to kick, and stretch.

Morning, chickens!

And welcome to what is nearly the end of the week.

Which is reason enough to celebrate.

However, today’s a great day for another reason.

It’s my mom’s birthday.



Here’s us, sometime in the 80s.

Our outfits are awesome.

We’re pretty awesome.

We’re also maybe both essentially children in this picture, but my mom’s age’s proximity to my age is one of my favorite things about her.

My mom is funny, almost always right about anything except how to pronounce celebrity names (Is that Bee-yonce?), and basically the best role model someone could ask for.

She throws great parties, is a great cook, is a great friend, and doesn’t take herself too seriously.

Not taking yourself too seriously is maybe the most important thing, chickens.

In any case, I’m glad to celebrate one of my favorite people in a milestone year. Happy birthday, Mom, I hope this is the best one yet!

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the happiest of birthdays

Hey there chickens.

Since it’s a Friday and I will likely not find time to post again until Monday, I wanted to take a little time out to celebrate one of my favorite people on this earth.

He’s turning 2 on Sunday.


The year Tobin was born was a huge year for me. I got a promotion at work, planned a wedding, and JW and I were married (and fell off a dock).

I also lost my uncle that year, which I know is something I bring up maybe too often, but chickens, it’s a big part of my story.

When my uncle  passed away in September, despite the fact that I was happy to be marrying JW and starting a new, exciting chapter, I was hazy. I cried a lot. I wasn’t sure about things, you guys. I wasn’t sure that the world would get really, truly, good again.

The second I met T, chickadees, all these good feelings about the world rushed right back into my veins. It seems like maybe I’m saying this because I’m hormonal and my godson is about to turn 2, which is decidedly not a baby any more, but I’ve thought about this a lot over the past 24 months, and I’m 100% sure that for me, T coming into this world was the only thing that could snap me out of the dark-ish place I was heading.

We should all be so lucky to have tiny babies come to our rescue exactly when we need them to show up.

Since the second Tobin was born, JW and I have been furiously, totally in love with him in a way that I know will snowball right into our love of our nephew Sam and of our own little guy who’s set to arrive what feels like any second here.


So we’ll be celebrating this little guy all weekend. Thanks for making us laugh so much over the past couple years, for giving me huge hugs exactly when I’ve needed them, for being such a perfect fit to your amazing family, and for being the brightest spot we could have ever imagined you being in our lives. I can’t imagine what it would have looked like without you, and I’m so glad I don’t have to- happy birthday, Toblerone!


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