renee nicole says

hi! i'm renee.

blogger, wine enthusiast, amateur photographer, long distance runner, book reader, music appreciator.

chicago born and raised.

my husband and i welcomed our baby girl to the world in february.

here you'll find some things i like.
Recent Tweets @reneenicolesaid

we had some photos taken last week to commemorate our last few months as a family of three. the photo shoot was a complete disaster with Annabelle running the opposite direction and shrieking every time we tried to make her sit or stand by us, but our awesome photographer managed to snap a few good ones in the midst of the chaos. 

being the one typically behind the lens, I have very few photos of me and the munchkin together (other than selfies, natch). the one of the two of us where she’s laughing, i will cherish it forever.

only 2.5 months to go before this trio becomes a quartet… ready or not!  

How can it be the middle of September already? 

You won’t hear any complaints from me - being six months pregnant in the 90 degree humidity was not my cup of tea. give me 60 degrees, leggings and cute fall jackets over that ANY day of the week, especially while pregnant. our house is a cool 68 right now and I slept better last night than I have in months. 

Our little family has been so busy this summer. I can’t believe already two months has passed since we moved into our new house. It’s coming along… slowly but surely. I underestimated how long it would take to get certain projects accomplished, especially while pregnant since I can’t participate in much (no staining, no painting, no fumes, etc). BUT we did tackle our front yard and re-landscaped everything ourselves! It was a huge project but made a big difference. 

I’m almost 27 weeks pregnant. Not sure how I ended up on the verge of the third trimester already, but here we are! This pregnancy has been so different than my last - most notably because I’ve only gained about 12 lbs so far. It’s a miracle, but I attribute that to craving giant salads (what?) and doing Dailey Method a couple times a week, but mostly I believe it’s because I’m just too busy chasing this crazy monkey around. Our little man is quite active, almost violent at times, but his kicks and punches and rolls are reassuring that he’s growing and thriving in there. 

One major difference in my pregnancies is that this time I know what we’re having! I must say, it’s made a huge difference to me. Last time I didn’t feel truly connected to the baby until Annabelle was born - but this time around I can picture our little family of four, imagine the sibling relationship the kids will have, and just envision this tiny boy snuggling in my arms. The surprise was fun last time, but I prefer knowing to not knowing. 

Work has kicked into high gear for me these past few months, with my boss retiring in August and a few other vacant positions in the office. I’ve upped my hours and typically work through all of Annabelle’s naps, and I’m still going into the office one full day a week. I feel grateful daily for such a flexible, mom-friendly work arrangement. The nonprofit field lends itself well to this kind of flexibility I’m fortunate to have, I just wish more opportunities were available to women who would love to work part-time. I’m a bit anxious about maternity leave (our office is so small that there isn’t any coverage for my position) and balancing the job with two kiddos, but I’m determined to make it work after our little one arrives.  

We were lucky to close out the summer with some family time at the lake this past weekend. The weather was beautiful and the lake was basically empty after everyone had packed up after Labor Day. We spent the whole time relaxing on the boat, fishing, paddle boarding and jetskiing while Annabelle tried to convince us she can actually swim. It was a great getaway before the madness of our fall schedule ensues. 

Here’s a little photo update, mostly via my instagram:


I’m a bit obsessed with stand up paddleboarding - such a great core and arm workout! My balance was tested with this baby bump but I can proudly say my feet barely got wet. 

Not a great shot and not a before-and-after, but I avoid photos of the front of our house on the social medias. This will have to do! 

We went to the Cubs game a few weeks ago - 3 moms, 3 toddlers and my brave sister who came along to assist. It was quite the experience but we had a blast! I must also note the game was right in the middle of naptime for all three kids. Also, this is the way she looks at me 90% of the time. Pure skepticism.

First carousel ride at the Will County Fair! She also had a corn dog and a lemon shake-up and fed some baby goats. She loved every minute. 

Perfect form, wouldn’t you say? 


I lost her today at a Tuesday Morning store. We were browsing through the aisles and she was trailing about 5 feet behind me until I turned around and she had vanished. Like in that show The Leftovers? Just gone. I ran down the aisle, called her name, ran down the toy aisle, yelled her name, not there. Silence. Truly starting to freak out, I ran back down the aisle we were originally in and there she was, laughing. Then she proceeded to climb back into her hiding spot on the empty bottom shelf… so proud of herself. My heart was still racing an hour later. 

She’s in a dance class on Monday mornings and she’s obsessed. She actually follows the teacher’s direction and does what she’s supposed to do when she’s supposed to do it. Then she cries/screams when the class is over and we have to leave. 

I have to hold the shower curtain closed with my foot because she tries to climb in the tub while I’m frantically trying to shower in 3 minutes flat. 

She does this adorable little gasp then covers her mouth with both hands to feign surprise over basically nothing, a million times a day. 

She runs full speed down our driveway into the street, laughing maniacally when I finally catch up to her then continues to laugh in my face when I try to scold her. This goes on repeatedly until I carry her inside, where she cries because clearly I’m the meanest person ever. Thank god we live on a dead end street. 

She has a lot of opinions about what she wears every day, especially her shoes. I find it hysterical when Jason tries to put converse on her but she has her heart set on sparkly sandals. 

She loves to play with her doctor kit, specifically listening to heartbeats with her stethoscope. She whispers bum-bum, bum-bum, bum-bum while she does it.

She calls me Mom and she calls Jason Dad. Not Mama, Mommy, Dada, Daddy… Mom and Dad. She’s basically 12. 

She’ll be playing quietly with her toys and suddenly runs over, says Hi Mom, gives me a kiss and a squeeze then runs back to whatever she was doing. I fight back tears because it’s so sweet. 

Sunday Evening.

We bought a couch with a chaise on one end and it’s my new favorite spot in the house. We still need curtains, but for now our sunset views from this angle are unobstructed.

Speaking of decorating, I’m going for an eclectic look in our living room and dining room as opposed to matchy-matchy, but every time I purchase something new I worry that it all just looks ridiculous. I’m hoping that throw pillows, curtains and art on the walls will pull it all together… we’ll see.

Ray Donovan: are we all watching? This show makes me so uncomfortable but I like it.

Baby is over 20 weeks already! And quite frankly is beating me up from the inside with all the kicks, twists and flips he’s doing in there. Annabelle pretty much stayed put the entire pregnancy (hence she was delivered breech) so this is different!

I used to be such a stickler for Annabelle’s bedtime, but lately I’m going for more spontaneity and less routine. Last night we went to an outdoor concert and she danced the night away, made tiny toddler friends and entertained everyone around us. It was so much fun and she was asleep by 7:30 tonight to make up for it. Everybody wins!

but guys, look at my gorgeous friends… holding my photo on a stick that they carried around the entire weekend, sending me texts and pics of #stickrenee all over nashville. it was hilarious and softened the blow of missing out on such an amazing weekend (one that I mostly planned, being the co-MOH!). i hated missing it, but was glad stick renee got to share in the festivities. hilarious! 

there was a black cloud following me around last week.

i had a slew of random doctor’s appointments at the beginning of the week because i wasn’t feeling well. then once that was under control, i rolled my ankle and fell down a hill while playing at the park with the kiddo. 

it’s always been a fear of mine to either get hurt or pass out while i’m out with annabelle alone, since we’re usually solo. well, I had the opportunity to experience that last wednesday after I fell and literally could not stand up as she ran the opposite direction. 

so i sat there on the ground, trying to hold back tears, and not a single person came over to me (out of the 100 or so people at the park, not a decent human being in sight)… so i sucked it up and grabbed the kiddo, hobbled back to our car, sobbing the entire way because OMG PAIN. 

luckily jason and my sister were both on their way to us (we were meeting for dinner nearby in the west loop) so they got there quickly. my sister took the munchkin and jason took me to the ER, where they told me my ankle was fractured. i laughed because I’m sorry, what?! they put some fiberglass contraption on it and sent us on our way. 

the next day i saw an orthopedic doctor who wasn’t impressed by the xrays and therefore wasn’t convinced of the break (YAY) so he gave me a walking boot, told me to hope for a bad sprain and said to come back in 2 weeks. i go back in a week to do more xrays if necessary, but i told him logistically (20 weeks pregnant, maniac toddler to chase, new house with 3 flights of stairs) i can’t have a broken ankle right now, soooo just no. 

i haven’t gotten to the bad news yet! this past weekend i was supposed to be in nashville for my very best friend’s bachelorette party. walking is a prerequisite for bachelorette parties in nashville, preferably without crutches, so i wasn’t able to go. i’m still processing the heartbreak. 

cool story, right? this post is so woe is me. but seriously, aside from missing the bachelorette party (which was the absolute worst) it’s kind of comical. i had been bragging about how easy this pregnancy has been that sometimes i even forget i’m pregnant… yep, karma. 


“We were laying in bed just the other night, looking at the ceiling, and I said: ‘You know, it’s been thirty years, and it’s never felt worn. There’s never been a sense of tiredness with you.’”

since we’ve moved, we have a new bedtime routine for the kiddo. after her bath she comes up to our room to read a few books and drink some milk as we wind down before bed. it has quickly become my favorite part of our day, and Annabelle has come to love it too. she’s developed a repertoire of her favorite books (which she has me read multiple times in a sitting) and if she isn’t into a new one i’ve picked out for us, she grabs it mid-sentence and says, all done! then hands me her beloved copy of Olivia. at this point I can recite it by heart, but secretly it’s my favorite too. 


Summer sides for days! I’ve been slowly working through these caprese alternatives as the produce appears at the farmer’s market or as burrata and peaches are on sale on the SAME DAY at Whole Foods. (Enablers!)

  • Cantaloupe + Scamorza + Mint
  • Grilled Eggplant + Ricotta Salata + Dill
  • Peach + Burrata + Tarragon
  • Roasted Red Pepper + Feta + Chive

seeing as i hate raw tomatoes, adding these to my next grocery list. 

you guys are awesome. thank you for all the kind words about our new bambino to be. we’re so excited! 

i’m due december 16th so we’ve got about five months to go. just enough time to get this house in working order - not to mention the nursery! it feels so nice to be settled into a place before the baby arrives. the nesting is in full force as you can well imagine! 

i also can’t believe that i live in the suburbs and will soon have two kids and wasn’t it just yesterday that jason and i were staying out til 3am on a wednesday dancing the night away while taking way too many shots of jameson? 

the our lil family had a fantastic 4th of July together, enjoying the lake, the sunshine and lots of BBQ’d meals…

…and we finally made it known that BABY #2 will be here in December! and Baby #2 is a BOY! 

Here I am yesterday at 17 weeks along. Feeling good, a lot less nauseous and a lot less tired - grateful for the 2nd trimester burst of energy. Moving while pregnant with a toddler has been quite the (exhausting) experience but we’re finally settling into our new life and routine. 

also, I love Annabelle’s face in this picture… she’s like, “I’m sorry, but no one consulted me about this.” don’t let her fool you, she’s very excited to be a big sister. :) 

cheers to big life changes… and additions! 

our house is still empty, save for these chairs and a mountain of boxes in the basement. BUT! the floors are done (don’t they look pretty?) and the walls are painted and the new trim is up and the place has been cleaned (twice) and I’m slowly acquiring all the rugs and curtains and random pieces of furniture that will turn this house into our home. 

the movers arrive sunday morning, so i’m spending today packing up the remaining closets and kitchen appliances. tomorrow my mom and i are going to get a head start on unpacking the kitchen, since it’s always the worst! 

i almost can’t believe it’s our last weekend in the city. i feel like we should commemorate it somehow, but we’re so exhausted we just collapse into bed each night. we’ll probably go all out and order take-out from our favorite place on saturday and have a picnic in our living room. 

ps. have you used Joss & Main? I’m mildly obsessed and the chairs pictured above were an absolute steal. I paid a fraction of the price of these identical chairs from Pottery Barn. So far I’ve ordered a rug, a headboard and 2 chairs all for less than $1,000 total including shipping. The quality is high and the customer service is outstanding - I can’t say enough good things! (referral link used - if you do decide to shop, I appreciate it if you use my link!)

annabelle dylan @ 16 months + 2 weeks

Such a big kid these days! it seems like overnight she went from wobbly toddler to running around like an actual little girl. For example she wants to stand on the back off this tricycle-stroller-combo-thing like a big kid instead of sitting in it like a baby should. 

About two weeks ago, I started to wonder when she was going to start talking for real. She said the standard mama, dada, hi, no-no, uhoh for what seems like forever… but other than that we’ve been at a word standstill for a while. THEN all of a sudden she just started saying random things all the time. I was trying to keep track on my phone but new words pop up every day! My favorite (for now) is that she goes around pointing at things saying “wassat?” then patiently waits for me to tell her what it is. Adorable. 

A less cute habit she’s developed is SCREAMING at the top of her lungs in this high-pitched horrible screeching voice any time she feels frustrated or annoyed or if it takes me more than 3 seconds to give her what she wants. This is making grocery shopping and Target runs an utter embarrassment. To discourage this awful behavior, I literally turn my head or walk away from her and completely ignore it. Usually she stops. Usually. 

She’s become a bit more cuddly than she’s ever been before. She gives out kisses liberally, which melts my heart, and she’ll sit on my lap and let me read books to her - which she never would let me do before. She’s usually hands off, Miss Independent, so I’m hoping this isn’t just a phase! 

I’m so curious about how the impending move will affect her. She sleeps so well, 12 hours a night - but only in her room, in her bed. Vacations and sleepovers are always a disaster. It’s going to be a big change, not just sleeping-wise. Hopefully she’ll take it in stride! 

Parenting at this age is becoming more challenging (is toddler discipline a thing?) but it’s also more fun. She’s my little sidekick and I’m enjoying thinking of new adventures for us each week. Our next adventure will be stalking all the parks in our new neighborhood in an attempt to make some friends - for both of us! :) 

Living in the city for the past 8 years, I’ve accepted the fact that even if you share a common hallway or elevator, people just aren’t inclined to be that friendly. Our neighbors in our condo building barely spoke two words to us in the 4 years we lived 3 ft from their front door, and when they did it was only to lodge a complaint. It bummed me out but we accepted it, and hey at least we had privacy?

Less than a week of joining our new block, we’ve already met 5 different families - one who brought us a beautiful flower pot for our front porch and another who delivered champagne! The champagne was accompanied by a “block roster” with names and contact info for everyone on our street. I love it!

The 2nd day we were there, Annabelle was invited to play across the street on the neighbor’s swing set and outrageous treehouse complete with electricity. While she couldn’t fully appreciate how awesome it was, I was wholly impressed.

Is this normal or have we hit the neighborhood jackpot? I just can’t get over how nice everyone is!

Blurry photo of home ownership happiness!

We are officially suburbanites. We closed Tuesday and have spent the entire week basically ripping up everything about the house that had to go. I spent the week (with the help of my entire family to whom I will be forever indebted) removing carpet, baseboards, cleaning windows and screens, taking off disgusting old vents and even dealing with a surprise leak in the basement when I tried to use the hose outside. Fun! Oh the joys of buying an older home.

But the good news: the rooms are almost completely painted (one more to go) since Jason has been burning the midnight oil every night this week. He painted ceilings, trim, walls and closets that have not been cleaned or painted in years. The difference is shocking! He wins for Dad of the Year for spending Father’s Day painting until 2am.

The wood floors are being installed/refinished starting tomorrow - then we will be ready to move in!

Now I just have to start packing…