Monday, August 13, 2007

City Mom: Part 1

I know many of you often wonder, what is it really like to live in the city with a kid? Well, I'm going to do a series of posts on this topic overtime. Here's the first.

Today, at about 8:50 a.m. I was all set-up at the computer on the Chicago Park District website with my wishlist ready to add to my cart, multiple windows going, etc. (based on veteran Mom's advice--thanks Jen!) watching the countdown clock at the top of the page, waiting and waiting for it to hit zero, registration to open, and to click away hopefully adding my daughter's fall classes to the shopping cart before the thousands of other Chicagoans filled them first! Seriously, it's that competitive. You see, there are of course many places to take classes in the city, but none come close to the reasonably priced park district. For example, Ballet for 10 weeks=$20, Outdoor Soccer for 6 weeks=$30, etc. Of course our taxes are funding the rest, but that's part of the benefit of living in the city! So I clicked ballet first because it had fewer slots available--success--it went into my cart. Quickly clicked soccer--error box pops up: Sorry the program is full! Can you believe it--one second after registration and a class with 20 slots-poof--gone. So after getting upset for a minute, I notice at the bottom of my cart it says you must complete your order within 30 minutes of 9 a.m. So being determined I sat and clicked add to cart over and over and over and over, watching as the slots available diminished to "1 remaining slot" at 9:30, and there it went--right into my cart. YES! I was so happy. Someone who got the slot, didn't check out soon enough and I stole it from them. This is a happy day in a city Mom's life! Two classes for $50!!

City Mom: Part 2 coming soon.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Weekend getaway

Saugatuck Harbor

Sign for Saugatuck--notice the artist's palette.
It's a community of artists and galleries.

Fenn Valley Winery Vineyards

At Fenn Valley

S.S. Keewatin
Most beautiful feature of S.S. Keewatin--
this overhead
planter structure

Aboard the Saugatuck Chain Ferry
The Dunes overlooking Oval Beach

So you've already heard about our first time ever to leave Ella overnight! Three long days and two long nights for all of us. It was great! So picking up from the last post.... Fenn Valley Winery was unanimously the highlight of our trip. It was a miracle that we made it for the vineyard tour, but traffic and construction were fairly good to us, and so were the 70 speed limits. Don't worry we drove safely--though it took great thought and consideration to create our will, we're not ready to activate it!
So anyhow, the vineyard tour. We rode on the "grape train" which is a big tractor pulling a flatbed truck with benches and rails around the edges. There were about 12 or so adults and 2 kids on the tour. We basically drove around the vineyard making about half a dozen stops, while tasting multiple wines at each stop (the kiddos got bubbly grape juice), discussing the grapes, winemaking techniques, etc, etc. It was SO interesting, and relaxing and the wine was quite good. My favorite was a late harvest vignoles=lots of sugar. I also liked the Cabernet Franc and the Uh-Oh champagne. My only persistent comment throughout the tour was, "I really wished I had eaten lunch". So I drank alot of water to try and compensate. Luckily I had allowed a cushion of time before our dinner reservation, so we were able to make some purchases in the winery store and get some light snacks and wait around for awhile before driving to dinner.

So dinner this night was also the culinary highlight of our trip. We ate at the Journeyman Cafe in Fennville. You're probably thinking, why would they eat in podunk Fennville? Well, because lucky for us Phil Vettel had done a write up in the Tribune a couple weeks back on this very small town containing this wonderful restaurant you would never expect to find there. We had great food and didn't mind paying Chicago prices, unlike some of the Saugatuck restaurants that charged Chicago prices without the quality.

We made it to our room in Saugatuck around sunset (love that Eastern time zone) and took a walk around the harbor. (So if you don't know, quick geography lesson: Saugatuck is located along the Kalamazoo River which runs into lake Michigan--about 2 1/2 hours from Chicago). Douglas is the other town just across from the river. Saturday we toured the S.S. Keewatin, a retired passenger steamer ship of the Great Lakes. It was so interesting--like a smaller Titanic. We also went to Oval Beach, after all the rave of "one of the top 5 to top 25 beaches in the world depending on who you ask" we had to go. We agree. Perfect for swimming. Stunningly beautiful. Gazed across the lake in the direction of Chicago thinking of Ella--but only for a few minutes. Later that night we enjoyed the Venetian Night celebration of lighted boat parade and fireworks while dining Harborside. Sunday we did some more shopping in the the quaint shops and art galleries of Saugatuck and rode the historic hand cranked chain ferry across the river. We then returned to Fennville to go to Crane's u-pick and pick up some peaches and have lunch at the Crane's Pie Pantry. Well, they were out of peaches! It was so early in the season they had run out of ripe peaches for another three days or so. Nonetheless, we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch at the Pie Pantry (think small town, family owned cracker barrel) followed by a fresh peach sundae and a slice of raspberry pie. And then there was no way we could not stop in the bakery to buy a pie, some bread and preserves to bring home! Yummy!

We flew across Michigan, Indiana and into Illinois only to spend that much time all over again getting from about 95th to our home to see Bella! Gotta love Chicago traffic.
This post is really long--but hey, it was our first trip away from Ella! Flickr link coming soon.


A week with Nana & Pa

Buried in the sand

Carriage ride
Before hard hat tour
1400 Museum Park
Picnic at the orchestra concert

Here is a brief caption of our week: Monday afternoon=too much excitement=no nap, then Nana & Pa arrive. Swing by and pick up David, check into B&B and still return i-go car ontime! Dinner in, etc. Tueday: Beach day, Smoque BBQ night, Wednesday: Art Institute, Lunch, Me haircut-Mom, Dad & Ella home to nap, Grant Park Orchestra concert at Millennium Park night with picnic. Thursday: Breakfast at Patisserie P, Train to 1400 Museum Park (David's building) for Dad to take hard-hat tour with David while we play at park (btw, David not only impressed my Dad, but the Kinney Construction guy with his exhaustive knowledge of the building), Lunch at Eleven City Diner, Nap, Carriage Ride (Ella's first!), Giordano's for Chicago pizza! Friday: prepare to cry, pick-up rental car, pick-up Mom &Dad at B&B (checking out), home for quick breakfast, go through more instructions with Mom, drive Mom & Dad & Ella to Lincoln Park zoo where we drop them at the farm, cry. Quick errands, drive straight to Fenn Valley winery instead of Saugatuck, upon remembering that we're headed to Michigan which is in the Eastern time zone! Made it just in time to go on our vineyard tour on empty stomach's (no time to stop for lunch!) Whew! To be continued in weekend getaway post..........

So continuing with Nana/Pa & Ella: Friday=zoo, Saturday=Cedar Park, Sunday,=church, etc.
Monday, me Mom, Dad & Ella went down to see Buckingham Fountain (believe it or not, I think it was Ella's first time--I guess living here, you don't do the typical tourist things), lunch and ice cream at Potbelly (one of Ella's favorite), and then they were off to the airport.....
Will post a flickr link soon with more pics to fill in the stories of what we did.

Labels: ,