Chicago Part 2- Doing the Big City With Small Humans (and my first book review!)

Well we survived the road trip home (yay!) and had such a great time in an amazing city. My sister was a stunning bride and the wedding was perfect. It was in the suburbs at a beautiful nature preserve and the rain even held off long enough for the ceremony!

Before we headed out to the ‘burbs, however, we spent some time touring the city. We went to the Lincoln Park Zoo (which is free!) and the Museum of Science and Industry (which is not free, but absolutely incredible!). The last day in the city, we went to Millennium Park to see the infamous “Bean” and behind that is Maggie Daley Park which has TONS of things for kids to climb on and splash pads.IMG_3336 During these few days, I feel like we learned some invaluable lessons, and it would be selfish of me not to share my pearls of wisdom with you. So here are some tips for doing a big city with littles:

  • Make sure there is a good adult:kid ratio when going anywhere, especially on public transportation. We took the “L” to Millennium Park from our cute little Air B&B, and were only successful due to our 7:2 ratio. It’s really hard for curious toddlers to be contained on a moving train without a straightjacket.
  • Plan to leave a half hour earlier than when you want to be somewhere (because you’ll probably still be late). The wonderful thing about the city is that you can walk to lots of places. But if you’re unfamiliar or have a toddler that walks at a snail’s pace, it takes a while to get to where you want to go.
  • On that note, don’t even bother with a stroller (at least if you’re me with my kids) because baby will scream in it and the three year old will insist on walking EVERYWHERE. The stroller just becomes an awkward bulky item for grandpa to push and if you’re super lucky, you’ll get pictures like this:IMG_3362
  • Snacks: All. THE. SNACKS. I think I mentioned this during the road trip phase. Just always have the snacks.
  • Let all standards of “healthy eating” go. Your kid will probably survive on pickles and french fries. And it’s okay.
  • Also, it’s totally fine to tell your kid that the ice cream is “spicy” and that they won’t like it to avoid (another) sugar rush followed by meltdown (plus then you don’t have to share!).
  • If you have to share a room with your littles, ear plugs are your friend. Sadly, we didn’t have any, but kids are NOT quiet sleepers. Those will be on the packing list for next time!
  • And last, make sure to have your camera ready because all the cute things happen SO FAST, and they are hard to replicate once the moment has passed.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, and despite being thrown way off a “normal” schedule, both kids handled the traveling and activities really well. My mom and dad as well as the bride and groom and my sister’s best friend all deserve lots of thanks for helping us to pull it off! I’m so glad we were able to go!

Book Review: I have decided that any time I finish a book that is just so good that you all must know about it, I will write a short review for you here. IMG_3425I finished Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance very quickly because it was such an interesting read. He shares his tumultuous childhood experiences growing up in Kentucky and Ohio in a way that makes you fall in love with his people despite their obvious flaws. The culture he describes, white working class America, or “hillbillies” as he calls them, is not one that makes it into the news. It is a culture most aren’t super aware of, but it is his culture. Sure, there were some sad parts (in his own life and also in the statistics he shared), but overall I felt like this book was so hopeful. A lot of people cared about this man and made sure that he became the very best version of himself. It reminded me of another great memoir, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, and I was also able to make lots of connections to a book study done on my school campus a year ago called, Teaching With Poverty in Mind by Eric Jensen. Although Vance’s story is a narrative, he supports a lot of Jensen’s psychology, showing the effects of constant stress and crisis during childhood. I wrote a recent blog post about the importance of teaching our kids empathy, but I also believe most adults could benefit from a dose of empathy as well, and for that, this book is a must read. My favorite quote reads: “One way our upper class can promote upward mobility, then, is not only by pushing wise public policies but by opening their hearts and minds to the newcomers who don’t quite belong” (pg 206). Some great food for thought.

Thanks for reading and until next time, peace and love from my household to yours.

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