It just hit me on Tuesday evening, right after I dropped Liz and her middle daughter off at the airport (how much I hate goodbyes could be a whole other post, ugh), how much I had done/accomplished/enjoyed in two weeks. It made me dizzy, and perhaps piled on more exhaustion, on top of my exhaustion. It also made me smile. The last two weeks of July just might have been the busiest two weeks of my entire life, but I’m not complaining. It was a blast.
First there was the BlogHer conference in NYC. I went into it exhausted; the weeks leading up to conference weekend are crazed for our entire staff. I slept on the plane, thank goodness, but we work hard and play hard all weekend so I kind of wish I had gotten about one thousand more hours of sleep before I arrived in Manhattan.
In addition to working all day and being around many of my very favorite people in the universe 24/7, I was in the audience for excellent keynotes with the likes of Opal Tometti and Patrisse Cullors (two of the three #BlackLivesMatter movement founders), Melinda Gates (Co-founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), Soledad O’Brien (Chairman of Starfish Media Group), Anna Maria Chavez (Girl Scouts of America CEO, who I got to meet and who was just as friendly in person as she was on stage), Gwyneth Paltrow (Oscar-winning actress and founder of GOOP), Christy Turlington Burns (model and advocate), Brianna Wu (game developer) and Ava DuVernay (award-winning director). And those are just the “famous” people. We had some awesome 10X10 presentations by some spectacular speakers who aren’t known the world over but were no less dynamic.
At night, there were parties and other opportunities to hang out, the most epic being the McDonald’s closing party featuring Boyz II Men, DJ Spider, and Nick Cannon.
My inner circle and I were on the dance floor for three straight hours, can’t stop won’t stop.
On Sunday Liz and I dragged ourselves to Penn Station and took the train back to New Jersey where we had something to eat and then headed right for the beach. Monday she worked from home while I hung out with the kids, and then Tuesday she dropped Heather and me off at the airport so I could show her around Chicago and beyond.
Since I made a gorgeous, rainbow-colored Google doc to keep all of our plans straight, I have no trouble looking back and listing for you everything we did on her very first visit to Chicago (I couldn’t have remembered it all, otherwise!) Ready? Here we go:
1. Portillo’s for lunch immediately after dropping our bags off at my house.
2. Lou Malnati’s (Chicago deep dish pizza) for dinner with Jim, J, and J’s girlfriend.
3. Millennium Park
4. Maggie Daley Park
5. Chicago Cultural Center
6. Chicago Riverwalk
7. Walk up Mag Mile, stop at Zara and TopShop
8. Garrett Popcorn
9. Lunch at Castaways, North Avenue Beach
10. Stand in Lake Michigan at North Avenue Beach for 30 minutes, water halfway up our calves, while holding our purses and shopping bags
11. Walk south on the Lakefront Trail to Oak Street Beach, then train home.
12. Visit pet store where J’s girlfriend works, play with a Golden Retriever
13. Roadtrip to Milwaukee, Wisconsin
14. Lunch at Cafe Benelux in Third Ward area
15. Shop in Third Ward (Milwaukee Public Market, West Elm, various others)
16. Roadtrip to Madison, Wisconsin
17. Check out the state capitol building
18. Walk up/down State Street, checking out shops
19. Hit the Union Terrace at UW-Madison; enjoy cold drinks in the hot sun while listening to live music that was a little more country than we prefer
20. Dinner with D, introduce Heather to fried cheese curds
21. Drive home same day
22. Train to Chicago
23. Sears (I won’t call it Willis) Tower, do Skydeck Chicago
24. Check out The Rookery and get a wealth of info about it from the most knowledgeable security guard ever
25. Art Institute, where we checked out favorites Seurat, Monet, Degas, and Chagall
26. Lunch at Eleven City Diner
27. Shedd Aquarium
28. Water taxi from Shedd to Navy Pier to Union Station, best decision ever for many reasons
29. Train home, dinner at our favorite Middle Eastern restaurant
30. Pick up Liz at airport, woot woot!
31. Portillo’s for lunch, ten minutes from airport
32. Stop at Ulta, grab some Shea Moisture shampoo we learned about at BlogHer15, meet up with Jen
33. Pick up cupcakes at Smallcakes Naperville
34. Dinner out
35. Improv show at local comedy club
36. Train to Chicago
37. Drop bags at new Loews Hotel (more on that soon)
38. Hang out at North Avenue Beach
39. Walk Lakefront Trail to Oak Street Beach
40. Lunch at Pick-Me-Up cafe in Lakeview
41. Blue Man Group (more on that soon)
42. Dinner at Wildfire
43. Dylan’s Candy Bar
44. Swim at hotel
45. Cab to Buckingham Fountain for light show
46. Early morning swim at hotel
47. Pedway tour with my friend Margaret from Chicago Elevated
48. Foodie Dream Lunch at The Purple Pig
49. Another stop at Zara
50. Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture Boat Tour
51. Train home
52. Downtown Naperville
53. Naperville Riverwalk
54. Lunch at Portillo’s (don’t judge)
55. Back to the pet store to play with another puppy
56. Airport (sad trombone)
I shocked Heather with this news:
And that, all of that in two weeks, is why I’m working in my pajamas today, recharging my body and mind. I thrive on traveling and having big plans more than the average person, but I sure do love the balance of my day-to-day routine. Today it feels nice not to be running running running.
That said, if Liz and Heather told me they were hopping on a plane back to Chicago tonight, I’D BE ALL IN, grabbing my keys and sprinting to my car so I could pick them up again before I even finished this post.
(Miss you guys!)