Again with the Windy City

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Visited Chicago with Tiffany this weekend. We went plush. The Blackstone Hotel. She has some good connections, I can assure you, because there’s no way I could have afforded to stay there at the regular-folk rate.

Friday:

Dinner at Mangia Roma followed by “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” at the Steppenwolf.

Saturday:

Breakfast at Eleven City Diner, where I picked up a new diner mug for my collection. Then we walked up Michigan Avenue to the Museum of Contemporary Art to do a little research for a project I’m working on. We bopped into the store first and encountered these and these and these. I bought the first two for the kiddo and Tiffany scored herself a sad banana. Fun! Jeff Koons was the featured exhibit at the museum. Interesting stuff.

Afterward, we strolled some more, all the way up to Old Town to check out the art fair. We grabbed a late lunch at Sedgwick’s, then headed to the zoo for a peek at the penguins before hailing a cab after waiting more than 20 minutes in the hot sun for the 151 to arrive.

Relaxed at the hotel for a bit for bopping back up to Old Town for dinner at Adobo Grill. To-die-for margarita shaken and poured at our table and some excellent guac. Also had a tasty empanada, although I wasn’t that excited about my chicken enchilada.

We ended the day walking around in Grant Park, taking in a little music, watching Buckingham Fountain do its thing, and then hanging out at the Crown Fountain while the kids just screamed with glee.

Sunday:

Breakfast at Violet, a cool place we stumbled upon after I discovered the Zephyr had shuttered its doors. Then we took some time to check out Southport. I was happy to find, after a bit of panic, that our fave coffee shop from our neighborhood, Cafe Avanti, had just moved a few doors down. At least some things stay the same.

Lots of links. I was in the mood, I guess!

Chicago kicked my butt

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Literally.

Because I slipped while disembarking from a trolley car and landed, THUDDDD, on the bottom step. I now have two huge bruises on my tushy. Nice.

Other than my sore behind, the rest of the trip was nice. The snow on Friday wasn’t my favorite part, but we hung out in museums and restaurants, so no big deal. The sun on Saturday emerged and melted it all away.

Oh, and there was the torture of sleeping with my wiggly 4-year-old in a king-size bed. You’d think that would be a decent amount of space for three people. Apparently not. Devin moved the entire night. All over the place. Hands in my face. Feet in my back. Head on my tummy. I think I finally lost it around 4:00 a.m. and tried to push him into Scott. I was fine with sacrificing my husband if I could eke out a little bit of sleep. But every time I turned around, there he was. Haunting me.

We ended up booking another night so we’d be able to come back to the room after our morning excursion and take a nap. Mom and Dad, that is. Because the kid refused to. Lucky for us, he decided to be still the next night. I don’t know who slipped the ants into his pants on Friday, but that person is on my hit list.

Back to the real world

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Morning on Walden Pond

Vacations are fun. For sure. But they kind of put me off track for a while. That’s why I always insist we have at least one day of cushion between the traveling and the back-to-work stuff.

Today’s cushion was filled with unpacking, laundry, more laundry, picking up the dog, grocery shopping, cleaning, raking leaves, going to the gym, taking the kid and the dog to the park, going through hundreds of photos of our trip, and more laundry of course.

I’ll ruminate more on a less-cushiony day.

Destination: Beantown!

There’s plenty of stuff in my head, but no time to spit it out here. Packing to do. Lots of it. Although Devin is going to be sorely disappointed that not every single one of his stuffed animals is not going to be on the flight with us.

We’re leaving for a week of family together time.

I’ll return to the regularly (or not-so-regularly) scheduled programming when we return.

Until then, enjoy the leaves, pumpkins, apples and other assorted fall goodness!

Grandma and Aunt Nancy, if you’re reading this…big smooches! (And you know, Mom, that I’ll call you during the trip. Because I’m predictable that way.)

The boy who refused to sleep and other travel tales

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Scott’s been complaining about how often we travel to Chicago. I thought he, like me, missed the city desperately. But I think that he’s just gotten over that emotion and moved on with his life. Now he has a hankering for other travel destinations, and I’m still stuck in the past.

But my other motivation for these trips is that I’m trying to brainwash Devin into believing it’s such a fantastic city that he’ll choose to go to school there someday and we’ll have even more reason to visit.

Diabolical, aren’t I?

So we three had a lovely time. The weather was great for trekking along the concrete. Much better than the hot and humid stuff that the Midwest often serves up this time of year.

Despite the late night the previous evening (3-year-old refused to sleep on the ride from GR, staying awake nearly four hours past his normal bedtime…stinker!), Devin popped up at pretty much the same time as always and was raring to go. But that didn’t last long. He had his fingers in his mouth shortly after breakfast (one of his tired signs) and they stayed there for most of the day.

We visited the Shedd Aquarium in the morning, then walked leisurely back through Grant Park. Then we made a stop at the library and read a few books before boarding the subway and heading north to meet up with Sarah, Cadence and Ted. That’s when Devin finally succumbed to his tiredness and slept for about half and hour on the train.

Berger Park is right on Lake Michigan and the playground is just awesome. Devin and Cadence were all over the place. It was a blast to watch them. So much energy! Although Devin eventually ran out of gas again. He plopped himself right on one of the slides and tried to take a nap.

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After the visit, we traveled back to the city and caught dinner at The Elephant and Castle, right near our hotel. Devin managed to stay awake during the train ride, so we assumed he’d be ready to flop right into bed after dinner. He had other ideas, though. It took more than an hour to get him to sleep and pretty much required both of us to go to sleep at 8:00 too.

The next morning we hit West Egg for breakfast then walked to Oak Street Beach, where Devin frolicked in the sand for a while before we traveled along the lakeshore up to Lincoln Park Zoo. After checking out the big ol’ tractor at the farm, we tried out the paddle boats and cruised along the lagoon. Devin helped Scott steer, although I think hindered may be a more accurate description.

We ate lunch, peered at various animals, snacked on ice cream and popcorn, then headed out hoping desperately that Devin would nap in the stroller as we strolled along the streets in my old neighborhood. Once again…no. Every time he looked ready to drop off, he popped right back up. We finally gave up and steered him into The Red Lion and grabbed an early dinner and a couple of drinks.

Then we caught another train back to the city and picked up our car. This time, finally, the kid actually slept. We even had him in bed last night at a decent time. Until the neighbors started shooting off the fireworks. Gah!

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Mmmm…mocha!

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Yes, the coffee at Metropolis was as good as Sarah billed it to be. We grabbed a quick bite (spinach and feta pie!) and a drink at her favorite local coffee roaster before heading over to Berger Park to let the kids loose. And, boy, did they run! We were there nearly two hours. We just got back and the fireworks are popping and I’m bleary-eyed, so I’ll post a Chicago recap soon.

Ta-ta, Vegas

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The funniest thing during the entire trip happened on the red-eye at 1:00 a.m. this morning (er, 4:00 a.m. in my home time zone). When the gentleman arrived to take his seat next to me on the flight, he commented, “If I start snoring, and I will, hit me in the head. It’s the only thing that works.”

Yes, he did start snoring. No, I definitely did not hit him in the head.

Chicago foodfest

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Spinach and goat cheese ravioli in mushroom sauce from Timo

We saw the forecast before we left. Our lovely mid-60s temps plummeted to mid-40s and slightly higher, accompanied by plenty of drizzle and gloom. As a result, we spent a lot of our time indoors. I wasn’t inspired to snap anything outside, between the rain and the overall feeling of grayness. But we got lucky with plenty of nice restaurants with window views. So food pics reign!

Bumbleberry Buttermilk Pancakes

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Just returned from another trip to Chicago. Hoping for one more this summer, with toddler in tow. Kathy and I got our exercise for the day, stomping around Old Town and the Armitage Corridor. This was yesterday’s highlight at my fave, fave, fave breakfast joint ever — Uncommon Ground. To my delight, rather than disappearing as so many of my favorite dining places have done since we migrated east, UG has actually expanded. We nabbed a lovely outdoor table (and a great parking spot) and chowed down.