Ahh Downtown Chicago! I felt like such a tourist snapping photos as I walked around downtown, but I couldn't help it - it's an incredibly beautiful city! If you know me at all, you know of my love for Chicago, and all of its surrounding suburbs. My large family is scattered all across the city and surrounding limits, from Lakeview to Park Forest.
Josie, Matthew and I will be back in mid December to celebrate Christmas, but the objective this visit was to pick a reception venue! As many of you may have seen on instagram (or if I have ever mentioned on here and forgot) Matthew and I are planning a very small wedding in Paris is coming summer! Because of the obvious travel limitations, most of our family and friends will not be in attendance, therefore we wanted to have a reception in Chicago to include our family in the celebrations!
This gorgeous space was the first we looked at, and the unanimous winner! It is called A New Leaf, and is actually an incredibly charming florist shop, which converted their large work space into an event space. The pictures from past weddings are absolutely magical, the flowers mixed with exposed brick and the loft feel of the building are the perfect esthetic for us.
Our morning was busy as we shuffled from venue to venue, Josie was such a trooper helping us check everything out! After a nap for Jos, we had finished venue hunting (6 different spots all before 12!) and Josie was ready to play!
We stayed at The Palmer House, a wonderful hotel right by Millennium Park. It was actually the same hotel my Grandparents stayed at during their Honeymoon, and this past Saturday would have been their Anniversary, they were married for over 60 years. Family is so important to me, so it felt wonderful to stay there and look for my own wedding venue while remembering their beautiful marriage and the family they created.
Staying near the Park was perfect, My Aunt and Mom took Josie to the park and had such a fun time! It can be so hard to find somewhere for kids to run around safely in the city, so staying at a hotel so close to such a large and wonderful park was awesome.
This is when you know someone is ready to go home lol
While they were at the park, I ran over the bridge to my real favorite part of Chicago - the Mag Mile of shopping! One of my closest friends moved to Chicago a couple years ago and works downtown as a Makeup Artist for NARS. Friday she was stationed at Nordstrom for a NARS event, so it was the perfect time to meet and catch up!
She has a adorable 2 year old boy, so normally when we get together while we are visiting each other, we have the kids with. This was the first time since before our kiddos were born that we have sat together alone for some girl time, it was so great. I love my Jos, but there is something relaxing about not needing to search for a fallen slippy cup 7 times and being perpetually concerned about what they are grabbing or breaking :)
The wind really started to pick up as I walked back to the hotel, and of course my trench won't button close #pregnancyproblems. I laughed once I got into the elevator and looked at myself and my makeshift belt closure. This is going to be interested once it starts to snow!
That night we met up with my parents, brother (who lives in the city) and his girlfriend Kelly for dinner at The Publican. Their food was absolutely delicious, I cannot believe how much we ate! Josie tried all kinds of new foods there, she loved the mussels (especially playing with the shells) the curried cauliflower, and most of all, trying her first french fries!
After we went back to the hotel and put Josie down for bed, I snuck down to the lobby (thank God for monitors via WiFi) where my family and cousins were having drinks. The lobby bar area of this hotel is seriously gorgeous and opulent. Reminds me of all the incredible interiors I fell in love with in Europe.
The next morning bight and early at 6am Josie was ready to go! We had some breakfast and walked right over to the Park so we could pick back up from where she left off the day before! As you can see, nearly all of my pictures involve her running away from me, it's hard work keeping up with this girl!
I tried to get a selfie of us in, but Josie just wasn't feeling it - too much to do to sit down and take pictures!
After a long nap, we headed into the suburbs for round 2 of the trip to see more of my family. We stopped at Oak Brook's beautiful outdoor mall for awhile. My Grandma Flo has lived across the street from this mall my entire life AND my parents met while working there together, so I have so many memories at this place, it was fun to take Josie. They had an outdoor life sized chess set that Josie loved playing with. Tears ensued when I finally pulled her away!
After exploring (and of course, another nap!) we headed over to my Aunts house for delicious Chicago pizza and fun. It was so great seeing so many members of my family, and for them to see Josie! She is developing so fast, it's amazing to see her interacting with everyone, she is so friendly!
The next morning for the final leg of the trip we went to visit my Grandma Flo and have brunch with her. Josie cannot get enough of her condo, petting the ceramic puppy, the decorative pumpkins, she has so many things to look (and omg so much to break) that it is both a dream for her and for me, a scary parent nightmare! They had a great time together, my Grandma is trying to teach her to say the work "Fabulous!" I told her we will work on it for Christmas :)
And then all of a sudden it was time to fly home! Traveling alone with Josie (especially while 8 months pregnant) definitely stresses me out a bit. I am used to having Matthew to carry the bags, travel crib, etc, while I watch Josie. Making it though security, getting our bags up and settled on the plane and the surviving the plane ride is no easy feat.
I had bags flying and falling, and a child who keeps asking for, and then throwing her water on the ground (seriously, that is real life). I have found that for my own sanity, I feel much more together when I look put together while traveling with Josie. I was feeling disheveled as hell while trying to get all of our stuff through security as she is running away from me, but I know at least I look like I'm keeping it together on the outside. So I always wear lipstick while traveling, and in honor of this trip ALONE with her, I decided to push the boundaries of acceptable amounts of leopard one can wear at once. You may think i'm crazy, but hey - I felt good and we made it home in one piece :)
What keeps you sane while traveling with kids - or alone!? I swear I could write a whole post on our adventures and misadventures while traveling!! Let me know in the comments what your favorite and least favorites parts of traveling are, or advice you have for the craziness coming up this holiday season!
Thanks for reading, I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!