A Delicious Chicago Rendezvous + Pansies + That Time All of Our Pets Head Fell Off


It’s pansy planting season! How wonderful is that!? It always feels so wonderful when we can finally say peace out winter and welcome this new, fresh season to have a seat at our table. I just returned from a delightfully short trip to Chicago to meet up with Andrew while he is away on business. It was a quick weekend getaway between two conferences he had and it was beautiful to focus on our marriage outside of parenthood for a change.

You guys, we never do this. Okay maybe bot never, but rarely. I sat in the airport minutes before boarding feeling like a full-fledged adult with my big ol’ Starbucks + new books + a small carry on. Hello luxury. Then I waltzed on the plane and didn’t have to worry about poopy, leaky diapers or holding down hypers kids that were hell-bent on running, nay, sprinting down the narrow aisle. Instead, I was happily sandwiched in between two old ladies who were head to toe in emerald green, sparkly fingernails included. They were heading north to celebrate St. Patty’s like college students on Spring Break. They were darling. The three of us chatted about the brilliance and humor of Anne Lammot, broken arms, whether or not we’d be having corned beef and cabbage for supper, and my kids and their grandkids, naturally. Before we knew it, our plane had landed and I didn’t even have time to crack open my book. So this is what traveling without kids feel like.

My time in the city with Andrew was really magical and I am not making that up. This rendezvous was something 0ur marriage was craving and I am so glad we made it work. I feel like my life as a mother/woman has been a revolving door around:

1). pregnancy pains

2). nursing

3). middle of the night rocking

4). juggling three different nap times

…for the past five years, because it has. No shame in sharing that because I love and chose motherhood. But all of those things, while nurturing and mostly wonderful, do tether you to your little loves and make you a bit of a servant to their season because they are babies and they need you. As a mom, their ever-changing rhythms become your ever-changing rhythm, and while being a beautiful calling, sometimes this can feel like you’re dragging around a heavy, invisible chain. It is what it is. We do the best we can with what we have for our babies, and most of it is like the biggest bear hug you’ll ever receive, while some of it sucks you dry, quite literally. I’ve found that the most fulfilling and meaningful work I’ve ever done is a healthy combination of those two extremes, both awe-inspiring and really hard, which is why time away to rejuvenate is not only well-deserved when you need to refuel, it’s essential.

The two of us had so much fun bouncing around the city with two of our friends eating as much good food as we could muster. Food is always the foundation of our trips, the common denominator if you will, and makes traveling such a treat. Before we left I asked a few Chicagoans what places they recommended and everything they sent our way was out of this world yummy. Here’s where we went:


  • Eataly: Well this place was a dream. It is literally comprised of all of my favorite things in one gorgeous Italian dream. Oysters, cheeses, cured meats, homemade pastas, bubbles, thin crust pizzas…all of it. I know it’s a sin, but if you live in Chicago, I am jealous of you right now.
  • The Purple Pig: If you like Mediterranean food, heavy on kick-to-the-mouth-flavor and quality olive oil, you’ll love this place. All I gotta say is, THE BEETS. GET THE BEETS. They will change your life.
  • Publican Quality Meats: We love charcuterie and all the meats so this was a must on our list of eats, as it always is when we are in Chicago, and it was wonderful as always.


  • The Publican: Andrew and I both agree that the best meal we had on our little trip together was here. Everything was done to perfection. We love casual  beer hall vibes, so this place gave us that, while preparing the most delicious food for our table. Honestly, everything we ordered was yummy, but I’d recommend the the pork and oysters. Have I mentioned that I love oysters. Not a sweet-tooth here. Give me all the salty brine.
  • The Girl and the Goat: We only went here for cocktails before supper but it was so, so good. Andrew got a drink made with Earl Grey, gin, lemon something, aloe vera, and blood orange. I have to try and recreate this.
  • The Allis: If you want old-school ambiance, glamour, and fancy desserts go here. This place was unbelievably gorgeous and right down the road from both The Publican and The Girl and The Goat. We went there for pre-dinner, pre-cocktail bites.

This delicious, life-giving trip aside, arriving back home was hard. I am not here to sugar coat our story for you, so I’ll be honest. It was horse shit and far less pleasant than I had expected. Yesterday started out beautifully with the birds singing and our book club starting and then all of a sudden a string of unfortunate events washed over the afternoon and evening and OUR PETS HEADS STARTED FALLING OFF. Long live Dumb and Dumber quotes in our house. This is what Andrew and I say to one another when things really get out of hand. It’s our way of lightening the mood and conveying the realness of parenthood to one another. Of course it always takes a bit of time to get back into the swing of things, but for whatever reason the kids were way the heck off and abnormally needy. We are all still adjusting and trying to sink back into our rhythm, which will take about a week or so, which is making life an interesting dance right now. But there’s walks, and wine, and pretty pansies to plant, so I really can’t complain.

Andrew and I are both people who thrive when simple routines are set in place. They anchor us and help calm our anxieties, giving us time to pour our energies into other things like playing with the kids. Maybe it’s because we’ve spent half of our lives together, but we operate in the same way: needing rhythm and needing rest. Not just sleep, but rest. We are a-okay with a calm, semi-boring life and our kids seem to follow suit. So for the rest of the week and well into the weekend we plan on returning to that, and meanwhile, thanking God for the gift of romantic impromptu traveling, for babysitters who love on our kids when we are gone, and for the opportunity to make our marriage stronger. We find that when we are solid, everything else is cake. Unless our pet’s heads fall off, in which case we roll with it and hop aboard the circus. But like the morning promises, the sun comes up and so does our gratitude. What an incredible rollercoaster marriage and mothering is.


  • Elizabeth - Thanks for keeping it real…it’s so encouraging to hear when others have good and hard moments in this journey of marriage and parenting!ReplyCancel

    • admin - Elizabeth, that’s the ride! I always feel encouraged with others share the hard bits too. It makes me feel less alone. 🙂 x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth Nye - 1. Love your blog and instagram.

    2. I grew up in Chicago and now live about an hour outside of the city…Eatily is one of our favorites. We were happy when they opened. {I love the one in NY too…it’s in a beautiful old building}

    3. We have a few Tommy Boy quotes we use when things get rough around here. 😉

    4. The “Re-Entry”…that is what we call the end of a perfectly wonderful weekend alone! I love being a mom, but coming off of romantic weekends alone with my husband is HARD!

    5. I would have sent you for doughnuts. There are so many good doughnuts in Chicago! …next time. 😉ReplyCancel

    • admin - Elizabeth, Tommy Boy quotes forever and ever. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Stacey - I could have written this post. You are SO RIGHT about this motherhood thing. I have a 19 month old and a 2 month old at home…lately I’ve been feeling a sadness that I can’t quite describe to my husband (barely to myself!). It’s a sadness that leaves me feeling that my pre-mommy self has been completely obliterated by having these two beautiful babies. I’ve been craving something to make me feel feminine or pretty, it’s so crazy. I love my kids with all of my heart, but it is so hard to be “on” all the time. A day doesn’t go by without me being covered in snot, poop, pee, diaper cream, spit…it’s all very humbling. And it’s a season. Thank you for an honest, non-sugar coated postReplyCancel

    • admin - Stacey, I know I talk about seasons A LOT…but once that metaphor was introduced to me everything felt lighter. Knowing that everything is fleeting helps me 1) Appreciate the little things more 2) Not totally lose it when things are hard. The perspective of seasons helps ground me as a mom, while also giving me breathing room to practice gratitude. You are not alone, love. I have someone’s snot besides my own on my right overall shoulder right now, and many days I am just done wiping poop. But I wouldn’t trade staying home for ANYTHING. Sometimes it’s just hard and a lot and it’s okay to day that. x AmandaReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Love the Dumb and Dumber quote! So many good ones in that movie 😉 My husband and I are HUGE movie fans, so we quote films DAILY or for any specific situation. It’s always been a part of our relationship and it’s a fun way to connect and stay grounded 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Katie K. - So happy you and your hubby got some 1:1 time! Sounds so lovely! I am craving even just a couple hours out but our 4 month old is still pretty much attached to my boob (can’t seem to get him to take a bottle!)…. fingers crossed he changes his mind soon 😉ReplyCancel

  • Tierra Hayes - I, too have these moments from time to time as a mother of 4. I get it! I love how real, raw, and open you are about it. Nowadays, we women like to hide the dark and show off all the light even if it isn’t all “real”.
    When I get these moments I try to remind myself that THIS is the life God blessed me with. THIS is such a beautiful gift. THIS is the season I’m in, my purpose, my ministry. I must try to live it, love it, not have any expectations, just go for it! It’ll never be perfect, but it’ll be for me…and for my family….and for Him. It’s all for Him.
    Love & Blessings ❤ReplyCancel

  • Spring Smoked Salmon Bagel + the Fixin’s » Homesong - […] since returning from Chicago I have been on a serious smoked salmon bagel kick. On the last day of our little getaway I had the […]ReplyCancel

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