Well it's two weeks later, and I'm finally posting this! I know, I know, I've been slacking a little lately on the blogging - but I'm getting super busy! Not complaining. I'm so happy to have some projects to work on, yet am still learning how to navigate this solo-momtrepreneur adventure, one baby step at a time.
I have some fun things in the works that I can't wait to share with you in the upcoming weeks/months! In the meantime, I am continuing on this wanderlust streak, falling in love with city after city all over the U.S. of A.
Chicago was no exception! We arrived armed with an extremely aggressive list of things to do and see. We didn't even make a dent. Having a nineteen-month-old will do that to ya! Chicago has an amazing interior design community and an immense, I mean immense design center that I embarrassingly did not even set foot in! I mean, just look at this place!
At least we saw the outside! The Merchandise Mart is calling my name the next time we are in Chi-Town. This was the view from our Architectural Boat Tour. It gives me the sweats just thinking about how many good design finds there must be in there!
Anyways, The Architectural Boat Tour was amazing. There are so many drool-worthy buildings and skyscrapers in Chicago. What's so unique about it is that one of the best ways to see all of these futuristic feeling buildings is in an old-world way of travel - a boat in the river. Doing the tour in the evening around dusk was even cooler. And Ms. Avery Etta loved the ride!
Even though I didn't get to go all out on a typical design-hunting spree, I still found design everywhere I possibly could. And let me tell you people, Chi-Town is brimming with it, so it wasn't that hard! After Avery and I dropped Eric off at his office at the Willis Tower, we made our way down the street to The Art Institute of Chicago.
This is hands down one of the best art museums I have ever been to (and I studied abroad in Florence, Italy!) Their collection is top notch, the building itself is beautiful, and the staff is so helpful. Avery and I basically got a private tour from a cheery staff member, and the guard only had to scold us once when Avery decided to tug devilishly on the rope protecting only one of the most famous impressionist pieces of all time:
I panted my way through these collections containing works that I had only ever seen in my art history books while simultaneously chasing this tiny human to keep her from toppling over a Degas sculpture or putting a hole through a Monet. All-in-all we emerged unscathed, debt-free, and if we're lucky a little more cultured and educated. WIN. If I could insert emoji's in here they would undoubtedly be the smiley face guy with a drop of sweat on his forehead, the thumbs up sign and the little painter's palette. Also maybe the little devil dude.
While buying these Pantone Cards for Avery at the museum store (a must have for any design-inclined toddler!) I asked the cashier where this Millennium Park that everyone speaks of was located. It was literally next to the museum, so we sauntered on over. And by sauntered, I mean Avery melted down until she fell asleep in the carrier, while I pushed an umbrella stroller filled with a giant overstuffed diaper bag and approximately four shopping bags hanging off the handles with one hand while eating half of a Pret-a-Manger sandwich with the other.
I was most likely a sight for sore eyes, but this cool futuristic park and all it's wonders was certainly not!
How pretty is this? Even though the day was somewhat overcast, it's such a cool scene. The water is really that blue! It's apparently from the specific natural algae that grows on the bottom of the river (learned this on the boat tour - so educational).
After the waiter at Lou Malnati's informed us that the deep dish takes 40 mins (oopsies, did not plan for that with an antsy toddler, but it was worth the wait), Avery and I took a stroll to kill some time, and we magically ended up within the design district. We just happened to stumble upon the Circa Lighting storefront, which is one of my favorite lighting sources of all time. It's a go-to in the industry. You know you'll always find something there. However there is no specific showroom in NYC, so I've never gotten to see the products displayed in all their glory. The showroom wasn't open anymore (Good for them - they probably close at 5pm sharp, can't blame 'em), but we were able to press our hungry faces up against the glass and drool over the geometric iron chandelier and glossy ceramic table lamps in window display anyway!
The next morning, Avery and I ventured out on an extremely aggressive walk from Hotel Monaco, located downtown, all the way up the Lakefront Trail to the Lincoln Park Zoo. When I say aggressive, I mean rigorous. It took approximately two hours to walk it. Seriously, two hours. But it was such a beautiful way to see the city (and work off the deep dish!).
It took so long to get there that Tiny Human passed out in her stroller by the time we finally got to the zoo! But don't worry, she woke up in order to do some monkeying around.
We also rode a cute little choo choo train that Avery was obsessed with, and experimented with our first carousel ride together! (Had to dismount - poor girl was scared. Ended up sitting in the chair part for the old people and scaredy cats). This is the only selfie I will include in this blog post - you're welcome!
After we had our fill of the zoo, including a visit to a real live farm complete with "moo-moo's" and "baa-baa's", we wandered into the Lincoln Park neighborhood which I instantly fell in love with. It's sort of the equivalent of New York's Upper East Side, but Midwestern and with way less craziness and kids in private school uniforms. For example, would you find this colorful storefront called "Carnival Grocery" on the UES? I think not! But here it is, fitting right in in Lincoln Park. If I lived here I would for sure be a Carnie and frequent this place at least 2x daily.
This is the neighborhood where you'll find TheEverygirl co-founder Danielle Moss' apartment among other hip influencers in the blogosphere. You may have seen my regram of her apartment recently, where we heard from the girl herself!
The next day started off with a family trip to the famed Intelligentsia Coffee.
As a coffee addict, I know that there is a location here in NYC, as well as several outposts in LA, but Chi-Town is where Intelligentsia was born. The latte was superb. I would say it may even knock Blue Bottle's latte into second place in my book, and that's saying a lot!
We then walked over to the Chicago Cultural Center for some free family fun. I wasn't sure what to expect with it being free and all, but it was worth checking it out. And let me tell you, it far surpassed my expectations!
Completed as the original Chicago Public Library in 1897, this place is so chock-full of gorgeous architectural detail, it's no wonder it's used not only as a cultural center displaying many different art exhibits throughout the year but also as a wedding venue and a welcoming center for important peeps like the POTUS and royalty.
No visit to Chicago is ever complete without a ride to the top of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. Eric was lucky enough to have this view as he worked from the 45th floor during the week while Av and I hiked (literally, hiked) around:
After the pit stop at the office, up, up we went, the elevator ricocheting another 63 stories to the observatory. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill + Sears really outdid themselves with this one! Thanks to them, at a height of approximately 1450 feet, we were able to have a beautiful unobstructed 360 view of Chicagoland.
The final, and probably favorite, place we hit up during this trip was the Wicker Park section. This hipster neighborhood definitely had a Brooklyn vibe, and even though it was raining we felt at home wandering these streets. I have to say the graffiti was top notch! In Chicago, even street art is museum worthy.
We ended up at this great vintage bookshop, where I found some treasures (and was gifted with a nap from Avery!) including a great book on collecting mid-century modern furniture. On a grey day like this, I would just love to hang here for hours drinking some Intelligentsia, flipping through page after page.
All in all, I'd say our trip to the Windy City was a WIN. It's getting admittedly harder and harder to travel with our tiny human, so I don't know how much longer we'll be able to keep this up. That's why I'm so grateful we have had the opportunity to squeeze some fun trips in these past few months.
Although there were some stressful days mixed into this trip for a variety of reasons, I'm so glad we went. I thought by now I would have nailed the juggling of traveling, mommy-ing and working, but I definitely haven't. It should be interesting as Avery becomes increasingly mobile and chatty and I'm starting to get busier on the work front. I'm so glad I get to share these trials and tribulations with you here on the blog and drag you along for the rollercoaster ride!
I'm all ears to any advice that you momtrepreneurs/entrepreneurs and working moms may have to offer up on the topic of trying to "do it all", all perfectly, all the time. I'm currently reading Essentialism : The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, and I feel like it's pointing me in the right direction. What do you think? As they say, only time will tell!
Photocreds: Yours Truly