And by elements, I mean busy streets, cars that honk, and really, really good pizza.
Beau and I love Chicago. We would absolutely never want to live there, but a weekend to take in the energy of the city is one of our favorite things to do. We sit in the bleachers at Wrigley, drink Old Style, and make friends with 40,000 fellow Cubs’ fans. We walk until it feels like our feet are going to fall off, taking in the famous sights of the Magnificent Mile, Lake Michigan, and my favorite, Millennium Park. We enjoy a night in Old Town, laughing until our bellies hurt at The Second City, and making it our mission to find the best slice of pizza, the best hot dog, and the best hole-in-the-wall dining establishment we can. We splurge on a four-star hotel, sink into comfy king-sized beds, and dress in our best to fit in with the upper-class locals.
This year, however, we traveled a little bit differently. We filled luggage carts with bottles of distilled water, containers of formula, and a week’s worth of white onesies and diapers. We learned that we are very definitely ‘handicapped’ when it comes to pushing a stroller around the city. We stuck extra pacifiers in every pocket and guarded them as if they were gold, and scheduled travel plans around nap time.
We always knew Cruz’s first vacation would be to The Windy City. From the first time I put him in his royal blue Cubs t-shirt and sat him on his daddy’s lap to watch the opening day game, I had dreams of the two of them sitting together at Wrigley. And while I did wonder how he would do during the four-hour stint, not to mention the five-hour car ride, I knew we would never know until we tried. Summer was winding to a close, I had officially entered stress-mode, and a weekend away for the three of us was just what we needed.
Cruz once again surpassed our expectation and proved to be a born traveler! I can’t believe how good he did on our trip. He slept almost the entire way to Chicago, making the car ride seem smooth and rather effortless. Our first night, we stayed at Beau’s aunt and uncle’s house, about a half hour from downtown Chicago. It was nice to give Cruz an entire house to explore, as well as a fridge, freezer, and counter space for me to keep up with his food prep. Cruz chased around Sammie, their adorably fluffy, ultra-patient kitty, and we relaxed over a glass of white wine and a game of Scrabble.
The next morning, the three of us set out for the city. We found our hotel, found out that the ‘L’ really doesn’t care if your stroller isn’t quite pushed through the heavy doors of the train, but eventually made our way to the intersection of Clark and Addison. Wrigleyville. Since we usually purchase general admission ‘bleacher bum’ tickets prior to our trip, we are always in line hours before game time to ensure a front row seat. This year, we decided to purchase tickets at the game, which gave us a chance to explore a little and take in the true excitement of pregame Wrigleyville. There was definitely a lot for Cruz to take in, from meeting Mr. Cubbie Bear himself, to sharing a soft pretzel with the nice lady next to us, or listening to the newest American Idol winner, Scotty McCreery, sing the 7th inning stretch. And most importantly, Cruz witnessed a Cubbie win against the Cincinnati Reds, giving him a perfect watch record so far!
The rest of the weekend was about exploring, eating, and enjoying time in a new place with our rather rambunctious (almost) ten month old. Cruz smiled at passerbys on the Magnificent Mile and came in pretty close contact with a couple of gorillas at Lincoln Park Zoo. He learned to sleep in his stroller rather well, which made for a couple of peaceful dinner nights for Beau and I. We walked along Lake Shore Drive, got our toes wet in the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park, and took in the amazing fireworks show from Navy Pier before sinking into our bed made for three.
...How much you loved the hotel room, especially the king-sized bed. You didn’t get, however, that the bed would eventually end, so we spent lots of our hotel time catching you from dive-bombing to the floor. You loved pulling yourself up to our 16th story window, checking out our pretty amazing view of the Chicago River, and tearing up our room service menu into shreds! And, you discovered the toilet paper! Our poor housekeeper had her work cut out for her when we left on Sunday!
...You were so happy, and smiled big at about every person who walked by you (which in Chicago, accounts for a lot of smiles). You had so many people stop to comment about how happy you were.
...Clapping your hands for the first time at Wrigley! When the Cubbies took the field, you clapped and cheered with the rest of us, but when the bachelors behind us yelled at a missed call, you got a little freaked.
...Sharing a soft pretzel with the nice couple beside us. When they asked what your name was, they thought your dad said ‘Bruce.’ The rest of the game, they referred to you as ‘Bruce Almighty’ and ‘Bruce Wayne.’
...The zoo! Your favorites were the zebras and the gorillas. Dad thinks it’s because the gorillas remind you of your Grandpa Curt. You loved looking at the animals and sitting on park benches to ‘people watch.’
...You fell asleep in your stroller just minutes before we sat down to eat at Niu, a really yummy sushi place a block from our hotel. So, while you slept peacefully, your dad and I savored some time for the two of us, complete with raspberry mojitos and the best sushi we’ve ever had.
...For lunch on Saturday, we decided to eat at Rosebud, a historic little Italian restaurant that looks like something straight out of the Sopranos. You loved the homemade ‘square’ noodles and marinara sauce, as well as the homemade meatball the waitress brought especially for you!
...The light show at Navy Pier. We've been to Navy Pier before, but never at night. Let's just say we won't be visiting in the daylight again. Between the lights of the Ferris wheel the lights of the city skyline, and especially, the famous Navy Pier fireworks, you were wide-eyed and very quiet. I don't think you knew what to think!
...Fountains, fountains, and more fountains! Our hotel overlooked the Chicago Riverwalk, which made for a perfect spot to explore pre-dinner. Beside the riverwalk was an elaborate fountain with a spout that shot water all the way across the river. Saturday, we played with bunches of little kids at Crown Fountain, and came across a few other little watering holes on the trek back to our room.
...Picnicking on the grass at Millennium Park. Letting Cruz topple over one parent after another while the sounds of 90,000 fans and Lollapalooza music filled the air from Grant Park.
...Cuddling together in a cloud-like bed just perfect for three. You weren't too fond of the metal crib they offered us, but slept like a champ between mom and dad.