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9/21 – Everyday magic

What have we been up to for the past few days? A lot/not much.

I organized our garage. Which is not at all exciting, but our new apartment got us half of a garage for storage, and we’re thrilled. (THE WAGON CAN LIVE IN THE GARAGE!)

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We became Costco members thanks to an amazing LivingSocial deal – and took our first trip as members.  With our membership, I got a $20 gift card which I more than spent on glorious things; a 2 lb salami, rosemary olive oil bread, a 24 bottle Blue Moon Seasonal Sampler pack that includes a Cinnamon Horchata ale, large quantities of toddler snacks and mac and cheese, and 60 granola bars. I’m in love. We’re going back on Tuesday. ;)image

I attended a baby shower for a dear friend at Mon Ami Gabi in Oakbrook, which took a lot of traveling via the Blue Line, but turned out to be a wonderful time.  All baby showers should include a 3 course meal, champagne punch, and coffee and desserts.  While I was feasting, my husband and son went to Saturday Soccer and then visited Lincoln Square Applefest, where they enjoyed fresh apple doughnuts.  My husband also went to the kick-off event of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s “David Bowie Is” exhibit, and we’re now super excited to take in the exhibit in December.

Today is Monday, and we’re heading off to a park shortly to meet up with some other homeschooling families in the Chicagoland area. It’ll be my first Meetup, and I’m quite excited to make some new friends – and check out a park we’ve never been to.

Happy Monday!

sbuxfallYes, this includes the Pumpkin Spice beverages. At “participating locations” fall beverages are BOGO from now until Sunday, 9/21.  As someone who identifies as a coffee junkie, and someone who loves the Pumpkin Spice, this is a big deal!

The last time I visited the (gorgeous and enormous) Chicago Botanic Garden, it was 2005. In the past ten years, I’ve thought numerous times about making the trek to the northern suburbs to visit this amazing marvel of outdoor goodness, but have stopped myself over and over again for various reasons – most of which boil down to my laziness re: taking the Metra train.

On Wednesday, however, we visited – thanks to our friends Emily and Nora, who are members of the CBG and thereby get unlimited free parking. The CBG features some apple trees, so we made it part of our September learning.

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I can’t say enough about how beautiful this place is.  If I had a whole day – and, honestly, no squirmy toddler who wanted to run around in every garden – I’d spend it all there, looking at the exquisite and amazing varieties of flowers and other plant life in the numerous sections.  For this visit, however, we mostly stuck to the Regenstein Fruit & Vegetable Garden, which was more than enough for two 2 year olds.

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Thanks to the handy map we were greeted with at the entrance, we easily found the garden and the apple trees we were looking for.  They were not bursting with apples, and we wondered why.  Of course, the staff at the gardens were a step ahead of us and provided signage.

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Having lived through our last winter, this lack of apples wasn’t surprising.   We were still able to point out the different kind of apple trees – Red Delicious, Fuji, Macintosh – and the kids didn’t mind.  We’d brought them their own apples from home to munch on, which they did happily sitting on a bench amongst the trees.
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Before we left the Regenstein gardens, we took in some of the other sites; kale, garlic, many lettuces, and a whole crop of pumpkins.  (Giant Pumpkins apparently arrive on 10/1, FYI!)

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Also super-fascinating were the bees, hard at work and on display.
imageIt won’t be another ten years before I visit the Chicago Botanic Gardens again.  It’s a marvelous place, and I look forward to getting to see more of it year-round, including the holiday train exhibit.  Special thanks to our friends for letting us ride along on their membership!

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If there’s a more fun place in Chicago for little kids to cut loose than the Chicago Children’s Museum, I can’t think of it. CCM, of which we’re happy members, is two stories of ineractive exhibits that encourage kids to make messes, get creative, and have fun. After pretty much taking the summer off from visiting, we returned to CCM on Wednesday morning with some friends and had a lot of fun playing with the grocery store, the dinosaur dig, the tinkering room, and the circus exhibit – especially the crocheted hot dogs and wooden ice cream cart.image

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I don’t drive. I mean, I can. I have a license, and I know how, but we don’t have a car, so I don’t drive. So imagine my surprise when, while at Jewel-Osco with my Mom buying cookies and wine (duh) a few days ago, the cashier started to scold me about how my drivers license was expired and she couldn’t sell me wine and NO ONE would sell me alcohol with an expired license. I appreciate her attention to detail, but I could have lived without the histrionics. Also, my license has – whoops – been expired since April and I have purchased wine/beer at a few stores and restaurants since then and the folks checking my I.D. haven’t blinked an eye, so…

Ugh. Whatever. The DMV. I dreaded it and put it off for days. As my friend Bob said. “You should follow that up with a trip to the dentist and a tetanus shot.” Today, being an adult, I sucked it up and hopped a bus to the Forest Glen branch of the Illinois Secretary of State.

And GUYS! It wasn’t terrible.

The Forest Glen branch, located on Elston north of Foster next to Mariano’s, is a well-oiled machine.  You walk in – through the back of the building instead of the front doors, FYI – and are immediately in a “Greeter’s Line” where a few workers ask why you’re there, make sure you have the right documentation, and sort you, giving you a number and essentially sorting you.  I was in the “Greeter’s Line” for maybe five minutes, and then waited less than ten minutes for my number to be called at one of the actual windows. From there, it took less than twenty minutes of paperwork, an eye test, a new photo, and paying before I was walking out the door with my brand-new, still-warm IL Drivers License.  And then I walked into Mariano’s and got an iced coconut coffee before beginning the bus adventure back home.

Going to the DMV is never going to be a cause for celebration, but the Forest Glen branch made it as painless and pleasant as it could possibly be. I’ll totally go back, Hopefully not for a long time.

imageThe Chicago Park District is running a cool program called Toddlers, Tunes, & Turtles all over the city this summer.  Kids can gather in the park, play, listen to some music, and get up close to animals like turtles, snakes, rabbits, and lizards.  We went the other day, and it was a great way to spend an evening outdoors before fall sets in – which I think it just did this morning. Bring out the sweaters – it got cold!

9/8 – Apple painting!

The kid started off this week with sniffles, so we hung around the house on Monday and painted with apples and finger paint in the sunny backyard.  Finger paint + chalk + outside fun + toy trucks = the best way I know to amuse an almost-3 year old. 

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“Just like at the Art Institute!”

 

We were even visited by some of our Chicago urban wildlife: birds, squirrels, and one incredibly brave rabbit who bolted right through where we were playing.  Godspeed, rabbit.

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