Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Series 1: Lincoln Park

Both kids are finally done with school! So it's officially summer and officially time for me to get back to work full time with them.

Don't get me wrong, I relish this time of year. I am so thankful for the opportunity to stay home with my kids and for all the adventures that we are able to go on. It does become a bit of the "All Mommy, all the time" show, though, so it's good to have some activities ready for the summer.

And what better city to explore in the summer than this one, right?! We complain about the weather for nine months out of the year, but summer in this town can't be beat. We're going to be exploring lots of different parts of Chicago this summer and hope you'll come along with us or be inspired to check out some new nooks and crannies on your own!

Have you checked out this book yet?
It's so fun!! The author is an absolute hoot (got a chance to meet her a few months ago!) and she's a very talented writer. Every single page in the book makes me want to run right out and try the things she's written about. You can check it out on her website or wherever you like to buy books. Highly recommend!

So, armed with a great list of ideas and some of our own research, we started our summer of adventures off in:

Lincoln Park
Lots of families live in Lincoln Park, so it's not like this is some "undiscovered gem" in Chicago, but we don't actually live that close to it. Aside from trips to the Lincoln Park Zoo and Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, I had never really wandered around. What a treat! I'll show you some of the highlights. Keep in mind, there is so much to do in Lincoln Park! This is just a tiny taste.

Oz Park: 2021 N Burling
I'm a real sucker for a wooden playground! We had a great time exploring here. The statues of the characters from the Wizard of Oz are fun to find!

Happy Play: This place lets you play with bunnies and birds! The birds loooooooved Little Guy! He talks about this place every day now. So we'll probably go back.

The Weiners Circle: 2622 N Clark
I'm probably going to get sick of hot dogs at some point this summer. But it hasn't happened yet!
Chicago-style, baby. The works. Get that ketchup outta here.
Imposters! Those are children, not an all beef frank! (This was at the Chicago History Museum.)

Pequod's Pizza: Seriously, why have I not eaten this before?? Caramelized cheese crust on deep dish. That is all.
Little Dragans say two thumbs up!

Sweet Mandy B's
Before you tell me that this blog should just be renamed "Dragan Stomachs," allow me to interject that we only went to Sweet Mandy B's to buy something for Grant because it was Father's Day. The rest of us ate nothing! This time...
We've been to a cupcake decorating class there in the past and it was adorable and delicious!

Chicago History Museum: This was a surprise HUGE hit with all of us! They have audio tours that you can walk around with and the Little Dragans loved finding the different items and listening. They had three different interactive exhibits going with very charming volunteers, and we learned a ton while having fun. Kids are free!
The first "El" car!

Lincoln Park was a fascinating neighborhood to explore! We spent three days there on these different outings, and we've barely scratched the surface of all that the neighborhood has to offer. It also has gorgeous architecture and is along the lake!

I hope you like these neighborhood glimpses! We'll be back with many more.
Next up: Rogers Park

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Ring Bearing and Flower Girl-ing

When your kids are asked to be part of a wedding party, it might set off a chain of emotions similar to the stages of grief, but in reverse order:

1. Acceptance! This is often gleeful and given without much forethought. Will your kids be in my wedding in this remote and almost impossible to reach town on the same day as their dance recital and preschool graduation? Accept! Will you buy them outfits that they will claim are itchy/torturing them and that cost as much as the down payment on your condo? Accept! Will you make sure that the flower girl's shoes are dyed fuchsia to match the whimsical streak in the mother of the groom's hair? ACCEPT!!

2. Depression. When you actually think about what you just accepted.

3. Bargaining. This takes two forms. First, you bargain with your child. If you will wear this outfit and walk fifty feet AND smile once or twice without looking like a bobcat bearing his teeth, we will let you drink as many full sodas as you want at the reception and buy you a new transformer AND a Corvette. Second, you rationalize your decisions with yourself. Sure, they'll wear these clothes again! Doesn't she have a First Communion next year? Or a Bar Mitzvah? Or a quincea├▒era. Or something??

4. Anger. Hopefully this stays under control. Or can at least be directed at the half of the wedding couple that you aren't actually related to and won't have to see that often. But forgive yourself if you have some left over and it falls on your own loved ones. #NormalizeLadyRage

5. Denial. This typically happens the month after the wedding when your credit card bill arrives. 

How do I know all this? Because B has been a flower girl 5 times, Little Guy has been in 3 weddings, and we just spent the last two weekends with both of them in the wedding party, back-to-back. 

And you know what else?


Re-horsing around

Getting ready with the bride, my beautiful new sister!

50% of the people in this photo are very excited about the outfit they are wearing

Dance Face: Ready

Dance Face: Go!!!
Little Guy danced himself silly at both weddings. There were splits. 

We stayed on Smith Mountain Lake between the weddings. Hit the reset button and RELAXED.

"Mom," she said. "Take a picture of me coming down the stairs and pretend it's my wedding day." Evidence that all the attention is definitely not going to her head. Not at all.

Wedding #2 was at our Alma Mater! Pretty gorgeous backdrop for anything!

Disturbing proof that flowers do not a flower girl maketh.

Despite my hemming, hawing, and sometimes toxic attitude, we enjoyed two jam-packed with fun weekends and got to celebrate two beautiful love stories. I'm so glad we got to be a part of these weddings! Maybe next time I can skip all of the phases of wedding party acceptance and skip straight to the part where I'm stuffing my face full of cake, looking around at my family and friends and feeling phase 6:

The Glow of Love: that feeling of gratitude for just one more day on this Earth. Highly present and contagious at weddings.