Tag Archives: Lincoln Park Zoo


Today was better; not pain-wise, but parenting-wise in the least.

This morning, after a long, drawn-out breakfast of raw, keifer-soaked oatmeal, Jude and I walked a few blocks east and south to Lazarus Playlot. There we played with old and new friends, spun ’round and ’round on the tire swing, and jumped, Spiderman style, from very high platforms. Well, Jude did.

After a lunch of homemade pizza, we hopped on a red line train (forgoing a nap) and headed south to visit our friends Helen and Annabel* in Lincoln Park. From their house we walked to the Lincoln Park Zoo and rode the carousel. After that, we hopped on the 151 and traveled into downtown Chicago to pick up our friends’ CSA share. We played at Grant Park and had tea at Chipotle.

The train ride home was super packed. There were no empty seats, and my boy was tired. I picked him up and held him as I leaned waaay back and steadied us using one of the grip poles. No one offered us a seat, not even minutes later when Jude had fallen asleep leaving me to balance myself and his 40-pound/felt like 100-pound body. Eventually the train cleared a bit and I was able to sit down and just hold my sleeping boy. I even made it off the train and down half a flight of stairs at the station before he woke up.

Jude and I meandered home; alternating walking alongside one another and me carrying him. He ate dinner with his Papa and then Josh and I both ushered him off to an early-ish bedtime.

I sure do hope he sleep in tomorrow.

*Thank you so much for spending the afternoon with us, Helen. It’s always a joy to spend time with you and A.

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Counting Down

You may have noticed a lack of posting her at And Other Times… The usual excuses apply: We’ve been busy and tired; life has been moving at an alarming pace; sometimes you just have to live life without stopping to write about it. Still, I know some of you really enjoy reading about Jude and about the current state of my breasts, so I decided to sit down for a few minutes and catch everyone up on life here in Chicago.

Snow really fell for the first time this winter about two weeks ago. It came as a surprise, as did the fact that we didn’t have any snow boots for Jude to wear (insert an impromptu Target shopping trip here). After layering up with warm clothes and stuffing ourselves into winter outer wear, Josh and I took Jude outside to try out his new sled. To say Jude loves his sled (or as he calls it, his “plane,”) might just be the understatement of the year. Josh pulled him on it, I pulled him on it, our friends Martha and Shav pulled him on it… there was no satisfying the kid. Now, whenever we go outside, he asks to take his plane and I have to tell him that we can only play with the plane when it snows. At that point, he asks me for snow and I have to try to explain to him that Mama doesn’t own a horrible white wig or cloudy contact lenses and is therefore unable to work the weather. *sigh* Thanks, Grandma Rose.

Our daily Advent celebrations have been hit or miss since I last posted. We’ve baked a bunch of cookies; read Christmas stories; watched Christmas-themed movies; picked out, put up, and decorated our Christmas tree; lit the candles in our Advent wreath, and have gone to Charmer’s for a sweet treat and a hot drink. Last night we went to Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo and today we’re planning to go caroling. I have some pictures to post from past events, but don’t have the energy to upload them at the mo’. You’ll just have to check back if you want to see those.

Last week, Josh’s maternal grandfather passed away. Grandpa Miatke was always kind and sweet to me and to Jude. I’m sad that Jude won’t really ever get to know him. The silver lining in the dark rain cloud of sadness was that Josh, Jude, and I were able to spend some time with Josh’s side of the family after grandpa’s viewing and funeral. We’ll get to see everyone again when we travel to see them on the 26th of December. Jude is really looking forward to seeing all of his aunts and uncles again!

In less fun news, I somehow hurt my back. Again. Actually, I hurt my neck. Then the pain shifted to my lower back. On Friday, new pain showed up in my upper back. This morning I completed my first yoga practice in weeks. It was a gentle back bend sequence, and it went really well… right up until the end when I got dorked in the forehead by a toy hulk car. Ouch.

As it stands now, the majority of our Christmas presents are bought, but some homemade items still need a bit of work. Most things are wrapped, but nothing has been mailed. The house is a wreck, but I’m hoping to get that under control over the next two days. I’m looking forward to having a few days off with Josh and am really looking forward to seeing Jude’s face on Christmas morning.

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More Fun Than He Could Handle

Considering the action-packed day Jude and I had yesterday, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that he went down for a nap a mere three hours after waking up, but I am. I mean, yes, the dark circles under his eyes were screaming “I NEED A NAP,” but I really thought that after eleven hours of hardcore sleep last night, he would be able to make it to mid-day before needing to rest. I was wrong.

Nori, my best friend in this here windy city, got back into town after having been in Michigan for the past five weeks. Nori’s oldest daughter and Jude love playing together, so yesterday, after a nap and some lunch (and a second viewing of Monsters, Inc., Jude and I took the train south to Lincoln Park for a play date.


Nori and her family live across the street from a really nice playground. We took the kiddos there and let them run wild. They climbed and ran and played in the sandbox and generally had a really great time. I say “generally” because Jude fell off of a short concrete wall and went headfirst onto the sidewalk behind him, and ended up with a nasty cut/abrasion on his forehead. The fall and the injury only phased him for a few minutes, then he was up and running around again.


After the park, we walked to Jimmy John’s and Potbelly’s to pick up some dinner and had a picnic in the Emerald City Gardens at Oz Park. Jonathan, Nori’s husband, showed up shortly after we finished eating and proceeded to take all three children and entertain them. The kids spotted a few butterflies, and Jude took great pleasure in showing them to me.


We ended the at the playground in Oz Park. By the time 7:15pm rolled around, everyone, adults included, was beat. Josh, who had recently met up with us, Jude, and I said goodbye to our friends started the trek back to the red line station. Jude was in bed and asleep by 8:30pm. He slept, nearly straight through, until 7:35 this morning. I started writing this post at around 11:30am, and at that point, he had already been asleep for at least 35 minutes.

I guess yesterday was a little more fun than he could handle.

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Today I biked from Rogers Park to Lincoln Park and back again. I took the lake trail, which means I biked at least 14 miles round trip. What was I thinking?

My neighbor and friend, Tracie, texted me this morning and asked if Jude and I would like to accompany her and her son on a bike ride to the Lincoln Park Zoo. I had passed on the invitation the last time it was issued, siting the strong likelihood of death as the reason, but thought I might as well give it a try today.

So, we packed up the boys and headed out. We rode slowly–we were outstripped by a girl on roller blades and two snails that seemed to be in quite a hurry–but we made it. Jude fell asleep about three minutes before we got to the zoo, and Tracie was nice enough to lead me around for a few extra minutes to let the boy sleep. (Side note: Jude also fell asleep about twenty minutes from home on the ride back as well.) I had hoped he would fall asleep near the beginning of the ride, but no such luck.

Tracie’s and my male halves joined us at the zoo, and after seeing the seals, lions, monkeys, chimps, apes, zebras, and some pink flamingos, we headed out to lunch. We got some de-lish crepes at Icosium Kafe in Lincoln Park. Jude turned his nose up at it all except the cucumber slices that were floating in our complimentary waters and the few blueberries that were included with our lunches.

After lunch, we decided to make the long trek back to Rogers Park. The ride to the zoo only took about 45 or 50 minutes. Coming home, it took at least an hour. I tell ya, I was beat when I finally dismounted my bike. My legs were screaming and my knees and ankles and feet just plain old hurt. Now, five hours and three yoga practices later, I’m still sore, but my muscles don’t feel quite so tight. I’m really hoping for a good night’s rest tonight.

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At the Belden-Stratford

Josh was give a gift certificate for a one-night stay at the Belden-Stratford Hotel in Lincoln Park as a “thank you” gift for helping to organize a silent/live auction at the church where he works. Since the chance of he and I getting away for a night without the boy is unlikely to happen in the next, oh, ten years or so, we decided to use the gift certificate on Wednesday night.

(On Wednesday afternoon, we met Josh’s sister and brother-in-law at Shedd Aquarium. We knew it would take us at least an hour to get home from there via the CTA, so staying in Lincoln Park, twenty minutes closer to the aquarium, was quite the treat.)

You know, I think we live in a fairly nice apartment. It’s quite spacious, has a lovely kitchen, a fireplace, and two bathrooms. Our room, wait, our SUITE at the Belden-Stratford put our apartment to shame. Take a look at these pictures. If you put all of those together, you’ll get an idea of what the suite we stayed in looked like. It had one and a half bathrooms (the full bath had both a tub with jets and a separate shower); a full-sized kitchen with full-sized refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, pots, pans, and wine glasses to boot; a huge living room, a dining area, and a ginormous bedroom. The walk-in closet off the bedroom was large enough to fit at least a full-sized bed it. It was fucking ridiculous.

After screeching and carefully checking out each room, I called our friends, who live right around the corner from the hotel, to come and hang out with us in our swanky digs. Their oldest daughter is a day older than Jude, and she and he had a great time running around the place, jumping up and down, screaming, and tumbling on the bed. The awesomest part of the night came at around 9pm. Just as Josh and I were settling in to watch Serenity, we got a text from our friends telling us that there was dessert waiting for us at the fancy French restaurant that’s connected to the hotel.

We canceled our Thursday morning chiropractic appointment so that we could take full advantage of our time at the hotel. We got up around 7, vegged out for a bit, enjoyed the free continental breakfast the hotel provided, and went to the Lincoln Park Zoo for a bit before heading home to Rogers Park for a nap.

I hope we get the chance to stay at the Belden-Stratford again, though I don’t relish the thought of having to pay for the honor.

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Letter to Jude: Month 23

Dear Jude,

Well. It has finally happened. You’ve officially entered the last month of your second year of life. Month number 23 was an exciting month for all of us. You got to meet a cousin you had never met before and spend some time with your Aunt Erin and Uncle Grant. We celebrated Easter with our good friends Helen, Matt, and Annabel. You, Papa, and I spent a romantic night in Skokie together.


Late in March, your cousin Sean came to stay with us for a few days over his Spring Break. I was really excited for you to meet him. When I was growing up I spent a few summers with Sean and his family in Ohio and always had a great time. It was weird for me to see him all grown up and you so little. Around the same time, Aunt Erin and Uncle Grant came to visit! You were overwhelmed with excitement and spent most of their visit screeching with joy! We took Aunt Erin and Uncle Grant to the Lincoln Park Zoo one afternoon (actually-they took us!) and to Be By Baby another day. You had fun looking at the lions and tigers and monkeys at the zoo, and had fun playing with the baby dolls at Be By Baby.


Aunt Erin and Uncle Grant gifted you an awesome wooden sushi set to go with your new wooden kitchen. You love cutting up the wooden bell pepper, tofu, and baby bok choy and making stir-fry for you and I to share. Speaking of foodie-type things, this month you also started drinking from a regular cup with some consistency. I started giving you your own glass of green smoothie to enjoy, and as the days went by, you decided you wanted your water in a cup as well. You still miss your mouth and spill your water at least 40% of the time, but overall you’re overcoming this new challenge.

Every day you wake up with a new word on your tongue. Early in the month you woke up asking for a “hug!” Just yesterday you yelled “Fuck!” Fuck!” at me over and over. And when I responded by handing you one of your play forks, you were excited to see you had gotten your point across. These days you often tell us you want to “play” at the “park” and that you want to “kick” your “ball.” You’ve started saying your own name and you consistently ask for “Ennn” (Aunt Erin) and as of yesterday, “Mark.”


In the mornings, after Papa goes to work, I usually give Grandma Rose a call. She likes to hear how you’re doing and chat about all the exciting things that have occurred in the previous 24 hours. Just recently you began demanding to talk to Grandma on the phone. It has gotten to the point where I just let you roam the house, cell phone in hand, while I do dishes or clean up from breakfast. Grandma loves talking to you, and you love talking to her.

Next month, you, Papa, and I are going to take a plane ride back to Pennsylvania to visit with Grandma Rose and Grandpa Mike, Great Grandpa, and all our friends. We’re staying with Aunt Demi, Uncle Scott, and the boys and already have a play date set up with your friend Nadia! I just talked to Aunt Helen last night, and from what she tells me, Ebby is quite excited to play princess dress-up with you! I’m really looking forward to this trip, Jude. I can’t wait to go to Abe’s for breakfast and Zummo’s for coffee. I can’t wait to see all of our Peacemeal friends; Dr. Jennifer; Aunt Becky and Uncles Paul and Rob; and Aunt Michelle and Uncle DJ! I can’t wait to take you back to South Abington and Nay Aug Park to play. I really looking forward to seeing how you interact with Crosby, Nolan, Eli, Luke, Ebby, and Nadia… I’m really excited, Monkey. Can you tell?

So, let’s enjoy these last days before you turn 2. Let’s enjoy the nice weather Chicago has been (sporadically) experiencing, and let’s enjoy learning about the world together. As sad as it makes me to see you getting bigger and bigger as each day goes by, I’m truthful when I say I’m looking forward to your second birthday and to watching you grow up.



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