A few weeks ago we took off for Chicago for a final summer fling. Logan’s brother lives there with his family now, and they hosted us in their amazing townhouse and planned so many fun things for us to do! One of my favorite parts of the week was seeing Valentine experience a big city—learning how to cruise down the sidewalk on her bike (stopping at every street and alley), braving the L train, being surrounded by tall buildings and a million people. Did you know that over half of the world’s population now live in cities? There’s a really good chance Valentine will spend the majority of her life in a city, so it was comforting to watch her bravely tackle the new environment. And honestly, it was just so fun!!!
When living in downtown Chicago, you walk nearly everywhere. In fact, Luke and Lindsay just sold their minivan! Right now they either walk, ride the L train, or Uber wherever they need to go. Because all the walking can be a strain on little legs, the kiddos have bikes and scooters that carry them happily along on even the more arduous walks. The picture above is of the kids cutting through a community garden on the way to a nearby park. I was struck by how much more exercise I got during my week in the city and how much more time I spent outside.
We loved all the parks scattered throughout the neighborhood. Most of them had equipment that I had never seen before, like this fun hammock swing, or a jungle gym that looked like something straight out of Swiss Family Robinson. Valentine’s cousins knew the way to half a dozen parks within walking distance, so we’d just set off each morning, enjoying the cool breeze and enjoying the simple pleasure of a good park.
We celebrated 10 years of marriage last December and we decided to celebrate with “A Year of Dates”. Basically, we took all the money we’d saved for a big getaway and are divvying it out so that we can have awesome dates all year long. While we were in Chicago, we left Valentine with our family and took off for a night to ourselves. We stayed at this gorgeous micro hotel in a historic neighborhood of Chicago called Logan Square. We ate dinner at the restaurant underneath our room, then hung out in our room for the rest of our night, talking, watching Seinfeld and eating room service in bed. The next morning I woke up early, bought a cup of coffee and read in the outdoor cafe under our room. The air was so cool and I loved the bustle of the city in the early morning. Later, we ate brunch at the famous Lula Cafe where I had the best french toast of my life!
The next night some friends took care of the kids so all the adults could go out for a night on the town. We ate at Hot Chocolate and then hopped over to The Second City for one of the most fun experiences of my life. The Second City is a comedy group that has become almost a “feeder team” for Saturday Night Live. (Take a look at the alumni list!) We had tickets to a sketch comedy show, which was both hysterical and surprisingly heartfelt, and then the performers ended the night with an hour long improv show based entirely on suggestions from the crowd. We spent hours afterward talking about our favorite sketches and moments from the show and watching YouTube videos we found of our favorite performers from the troupe.
Luke and Lindsay and their family are some of our favorite people on the planet, so some of the best moments of the week were when we were just hanging out in their home, talking and laughing and playing together. Lindsay cooked up a storm (she’s one of those cooks who never seems to know exactly what all she put in the pot but it has to be magic because it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted) and had stacks of rice krispy treats and pitchers of iced coffee. Luke is always so sweet about asking us about our life and wanting to know how we’re actually doing. (I love that picture of Luke and Logan where they’re basically mirror images of each other.)
The kids got along so well and played with Valentine so sweetly. Bella, who’s 11, let Valentine sleep with her every night and quietly took care of her every morning when she inevitably woke up at the crack of dawn. Because we don’t get to see each other very often, it seemed especially meaningful to watch Valentine form bonds and make memories with her cousins.
One day we took the train to The Loop, where Luke expertly showed us the sights and told us all the most interesting little tidbits about the buildings and art. Some of my favorite things were the mosaic by Chagall and a huge sculpture by Picasso that kids now use as a slide. :)
The kids were such troupers and walked for hours with hardly a complaint. When we finally got home, we all took showers and then just laid around the living room for the rest of the evening. I absolutely love that feeling of getting totally worn out during the day, whether by working hard or playing hard, and then drifting off into a welcomed sleep.
We love you, Chi Town Greers! Thanks for the amazing week! We’re already dreaming of going back. :)
(All photos by myself, Logan Greer, and Lindsay Greer)