Saturday, August 31, 2013


rorie and i are a busy pair. i try to schedule our days together so that we are busy, but in the best possible sense of the word. we have a lot of fun at home, we visit our friends all over the city, and generally have a blast just exploring the city of chicago.

all one year olds are different. and all are interested in different things. sometimes it's hard to find things to do that are geared for rorie's age. why? because most things are for kids just a little older than her. but don't worry, we have found a lot of fun things to do to keep us happy and busy here in chicago.

home. we hang out a lot at home. she's got loads of fun toys: a box full of handmade stuffed friends, a new her-size kitchen, handmade cars, tons of books, and thrift store box of big legos to name a few.

we also have our bath tub, which doubles as a swimming pool when i'm running out of ideas and it's hot out. then there's our wonderful netflix. she's at a really fun age where she's recognizing so much. we were at a grocery store with my mom and she spotted and elmo loofa more than 100 feet away (i mean, we couldn't figure out why she was saying elmo- that's how far away he was)... from then on elmo was a pretty cool dude and sesame street was now something she will watch. she also loves baby einstein. tv and babies is a touchy subject sometimes. i'm totally fine with her watching tv. i myself love to watch tv, so that's what works for us.

parks. chicago has so many parks! from our apartment we can walk to at least 4-5 different parks. all with different playgrounds. and all the playgrounds tend to have a smaller section for the littles. it's perfect! most of the parks have fences around them, so i tend to go to a corner and let rorie roam free. her feet touch the ground and she's off exploring: picking up leaves and sticks, touching tree bark, looking at flowers... i love to watch her take in her world. and she loves it too. it's almost like being in the wilderness of a forest. we'll take what we can get.

some parks have tennis courts. if there are no players on the court, by all means... take your baby there and shut the door. then sit down by the fence and let them explore! i just happened to do this and now i think i'll always do it when we go to the park. it's a great breather for mama and a great exploration area for baby girl.

another great thing about the parks in chicago is that a lot of them have sprinklers or splash pads. these are just like mini-water parks for kids. it's especially awesome on those hot summer days. a few parks also have pools. and they're free! i'm all for free.

lake michigan. speaking of pools and swimming... hello! there's a lake! beautiful sandy beaches with views of the skyline? count me in. and the dog beaches- rorie could seriously spend hours watching the dogs. you can easily take a baby to the beach by yourself, but i suggest bringing someone to tag team with. rorie's a big fan of eating the sand and sprinting away from me. it's just easier with some help, in my opinion... trying to catch her in the sand is much harder than you think. another great thing about the beach in the vendors that tend to pop up. you can get a cup of fresh fruit (and cucumber???) for a good price. perfect snack for a one year old.

toy stores. i've found a few toy stores that aren't too far from us that i love to take rorie to. it's free and they have lots of toys to try out. i love that she gets so excited about the trains and there's always another "friend" for her to play with. usually an older "friend" so we practice our sharing skills.

book stores. another fun place to take a one year old. first of all- they're just learning to walk, so all those aisles are like the best thing ever. rorie would pace the aisles all day if i let her. well, the barnes and noble near us also has a train set- score! and a whole shelf full of elmo dolls which she proceeds to grab every time and walk around the children's section proclaiming "eL-mO. eL-mO." over and over. it's quite cute. and then there's the crying when he goes back on the shelf at the end of the trip, but that's another story.

museums + the zoo. almost all of the museums here in chicago have free-days for IL residents (and the lincoln park zoo is always free!). it's the most fantastic thing. most recently, i took rorie to the peggy notebaert nature museum. it wasn't by any means geared towards a one year old- but that didn't even matter. she was so content walking around by herself, touching the bottoms of most of the exhibits, looking at a snake in a box, playing in the tunnels of the play area, and saying "wow" when she saw a taxidermy polar bear. i had packed us a lunch and we ate in the lobby of the museum. it was wonderful. then we strolled around the lincoln park zoo before heading home. a perfect day with my lady. we have also gone to the shedd aquarium on free-days and plan to go to the children's museum at navy pier tomorrow.

malls. we love going to the mall. mostly because rorie g loves to shop. sometimes i'll just take her to the jewelry section and let her hold and play with the chunky necklaces, peer into the watch and ring displays, or just look around at the purses and wallets. malls are great because most of them have play spaces for kids. old orchard mall has a fantastic new play space located between l.l. bean and epic burger. we have taken rorie there twice and i'm sure we'll be back again. old orchard is a fantastic mall. they've got a train for kids! we've yet to ride it, but real trains don't go through malls... so we will definitely be trying it. they also have a fountain that loads of fun for a one year old and a kiosk with a bubble machine. need i say more? we also found out that if a store has balloons in their display you can totally ask to have one. my daughter happens to love balloons more than me at this point in her life. so a free balloon is a wonderful thing.

kids eat free: my girl can eat. we have already been taking advantage of the restaurants where kids eat free. why not, right?! one of our favorites is the bad dog tavern in lincoln square. since rorie and i are dairy-free the only thing on the menu she can get is the kids burger, but that's totally fine since we tend to go on half-off burger night! burgers all around! another one of our favorite spots to eat is noodles & co. now they don't have a kids eat free deal, but little miss can make an entire small plate of pasta fresca disappear. she's incredible.

street festivals. these happen almost every weekend in chicago! and they are so fun! especially for those music loving one year olds out there! this year we went to ribfest and koreanfest. you could go to one of these fests and make it a totally free activity, but we like to splurge on food we only get at our fests. there's so much going on at every fest chicago hosts. i just love them. rorie loves to listen to the music, watch the people, get a balloon, and collect free stuff. and it's great because they happen all over the city all the time.

farmers markets. i cannot tell you how much i love going to the farmers markets around here. my favorite is the one on saturday mornings in evanston. i know it's not chicago, but it might as well be. it's just one of the best i've been to. the colors, the smells, the people, the handmade goods, the musicians. rorie loves to just take it all in- and so do i. there's so much to look at. we had a running conversation about apples today. the farmers were so wonderful and helped me to educate my little babe by letting her sample what she thought were "apples". turns out she loves peaches, but tomatoes not so much. and neither are apples. we finally found some apples. and we can't wait for apple season. i also let her help me pick our the peppers, cucumber, and apple or pumpkin butter (she picked pumpkin and had it for snack). i highly suggest taking your one year old to the farmers markets.

aaron and i dream of living in the country someday, but for now we are making the best of living in the city. the city doesn't make it very hard when we've got such amazing things to fill our days with. life with a one year old in chicago is pretty spectacular.

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