Ardyn and I are home from the Chicago Green Expo. We left Friday just after noon and drove to Woodridge to meet Angela and pick her up from work. Then we went into the city and to our Hotel. We stayed at Hotel 71, right on the river, just a few blocks from the lake and 1 block from Michigan Avenue. The new Trump building was going up right across the river from us and was right outside our hotel room. Ardyn did okay traveling, but she did cry enough on the way up that I had to pull over about halfway there to nurse her and comfort her. The van is a godsend. I can't imaginging traveling any other way. I can just pull over, walk right into the back, and sit down on a spare seat and nurse her or change her on the floor where I have a seat stowed. It's awesome. I can easily hold all of our luggage and the stroller and supplies, and toys for Ardyn to play with.
We hit a little bit of traffic on the way into the City on 90/94, but it wasn't half bad. The hotel was really nice, and was Angela's treat, so I really have to thank her for that. What was amazing was the "complimentary valet service" that was linked to the "$43 a night parking in the hotel garage." Um. Yeah. Valet service should be complimentary. I do have to say though, that I am the kind of girl who better travels a few levels down on the luxury scale. It bugs me to have strangers handling my bags and having to tip them when I really am not comfortable with them helping me. I feel much better doing it myself or letting Evan handle it. I don't like being at the mercy of calling someone else for "help" to check in or check out. I find it annoying, not luxurious.And of course, being a small town girl, I am also always annoyed with the fast pace of everything in the city. I am a fast paced person, but one day in Chicago makes me feel like I NEED a vacation, not like I have just been on one. When I was trying to unload and unfold the stroller, and get Ardyn's things situated in the stroller, and unbuckle her and crawl across the van (because the driver's side was on a busy street, I was unloading onto the sidewalk from the passenger side) and get her in the stroller and comfortable.... the valet guy was standing over me hovering, and he said "Can I take your van ma'am?" and I remember being exasperated, turning to look at him, and saying "Right now I really need to concentrate on getting my daughter out of the seat and situated in her stroller, but as soon as I am finished, you can have the van. But PLEASE just give me a few minutes so that I can get this accomplished first." I think he was taken aback because I assume that he is praised for promptness, and while I can appreciate promptness, I can also appreciate wanting to feel relaxed and leisurely, not pressured and rushed.
Ardyn loved the view from the hotel room. She spent lots of time squealing and talking out the window at the cars, boats, people, and buildings below.
Friday evening we walked the Magnificent mile and out to Navy Pier. Then we walked over to the lake. We walked quite a while and then we came back to a neat little Italian restaurant next to our hotel. We sat out on the patio to eat and had wine and cheesecake, and pasta and pizza. Ardyn and I had our first Chicago Style Pizza, Stuffed Spinach and Mushroom. It was delicious. Although I have to say that I adore Maria's or Angelo's Stuffed Pizza just as much. The dinner was fabulous and I ended up nursing Ardyn on the patio too. Then we went back to the hotel next door and got settled in for the night. It was especially nice to have wireless internet included in the hotel room. Angie did some online planning for our next day.
We got up on Saturday and got ready, and ordered rooms ervice for breakfast. Angie had oatmeal and I had special K with Skim Milk, and we split a fruit tray that Ardyn enjoyed too. Then we packed up, checked out, and drove to Navy Pier for the expo.
The expo was great. The parking was $23 for the day at the pier, and they had a good food court there and awesome ice cream everywhere. The hardest part of the day was FINDING the expo in the pier, it was WAY down at the end, which we knew. But it was also difficult finding an elevator. Out of all the Expo staff and volunteers that we asked, only one person actually knew where the elevators were. One woman looked right at me with the stroller and then pointed out the stairs and escalator. Angie was exasperated with this, and we really had to search ourselves to find the elevator. So when we finally found the elevator, we had to walk DOWN to the elevator, go up a level, then walk all the way back to the one expo entrance. Then we discovered that you didn't buy your tickets at the entrance, but we had to go all the way back and PAST the elevators to the end of the pier to get our tickets. So we did. And we grumbled about how poorly it was marked (it wasn't) and how we had to walk clear down to the end of the pier to get our tickets and then walk BACK to the entrance. Ugh. So we got our passes and then had to walk back to the door. I was kinda confused how there was only once entrance to use, yet all you had to do was walk through it with a pass around your neck. Couldn't they have had a few more entrances if all they had to provide was a person at the door to see if you had a pass around your neck? I know, I just like to tell you how it was. the expo itself was awesome. We didn't listen to any speakers. They were in the same room as the vendor booths, which we thought was kinda strange and unexpected. We thought it would be much more conducive (not to mention polite) to have them in a quieter room. There were so many excellent vendors there. I got tons of literature and lots of activist and organic clothing. Ahhh. I took pictures of all our loot. I have LOTS of websites to visit and things to think about.
The highlight of the day for me was seeing the ONE cloth Diaper vendor that thought it was worth their time to attend the expo. BUM GENIUS! Good for them. I was highly disappointed to not see more cloth diapering vendors at the expo. G Diapers was there also, but I honestly don't know that I can consider that cloth diapering at it's fullest extend. I think they are actually more work than cloth, AND more expensive because you still have to buy the liners. Plus you have to flush each one, and let it disintegrate (poop AND pee)- and they aren't approved for home septic systems to my knowledge. I took photos of a few things that I wanted to remember. I was interested in the kitchen composting- and since I have been thinking of composting at home and wondered how I would do it with not much yard space, it was interesting. But I am wondering if composting is a necessity for me since I use a garbage disposal and what is organic (food scraps, etc) goes back into the sewer system. I need to do some research.
I bought a pair of simple shoes that are so comfy, and two pair of the most AWESOME organic cotton pants that I have ever touched. I put one pair on in the parking garage for the ride home and I am wearing them again today and am not sure when anyone will be able to pry them off me. As a matter of fact, I liked them so much that I practically took my shorts off in the middle of the parking garage to put them on, when I realized that this IS Chicago and I would likely get arrested for being in a parking garage with no pants on. So I came to my senses an changed pants inside the van. I brought home their card so that I could get more if I liked them, and boy do I ever. I bought them from B Green Apparel (www.bgreenapparel.com) I bought an awesome headband from the Hemp Queen (www.hempqueen.com) and she had some other awesome clothes that I adored. I was pleased to see a few companies that I purchase from regularly, like Herb Pharm, Reusable Bags, and Nordic Naturals. And most of all was pleased to see Dr. Bronner's and laughed to see that they were GIVING AWAY the coexist bumper stickers that I have on the van. Damn. But they convinced me to take a free one and I gave it to Evan. Dr. Bronner's had two new scents. A rose and a citrus... and the citrus was TO DIE FOR yummy. I also enjoyed the booths of Toys with Integrity (www.imagiplay.com), and Barefoot Books (www.ReadingBarefootBooks.com). If I didn't have reusable bags already, I would have purchased the entire set from www.loadmygroceries.com - those bags are adorably perfect! There was also a great wool yarn and felting booth by Esthers Place (www.esthersplacefibers.com) and a home cleaning product booth that I intend to look into more (www.blissfulhomeproducts.com)
There were some other very cool clothing booths, several of which I adored but found to be WAY overpriced. A few that I thought I might actually purchase from in the future included chapteroneorganics.com (adorable but expensive. Neat baby clothes), www.moretreeshemp.com (high priced), & www.esperanzathreads.com.
I bought Ardyn a bunch of stuff from Happy Green Bee (www.happygreenbee.com) which I had always seen advertised in my Mothering Magazine. I also got her some shirts (and one for myself) from Green Label Organic (www.greenlabel.com) and they had some really nice shirts and somewhat reasonable prices. They had specials for the expo, but I am not sure that otherwise I would have spent that much.... but their sale prices were good. I also liked the shirts from www.babyblendtees.com but I only bought one because they all were so similar and their prices weren't to die for. Also enjoyed www.organicfred.com and itsacoolerplanet.com (which was one of my favorite booths and the ladies there were SO nice and informative.)
So that was the expo.
Now about last week. Last week I sold my car. And I bought an iRobot (Roomba) and I also got a new digital camera. A Nikon D40. Which I took to Chicago. And I am learning to use. It is awesome. The Roomba should be here this Monday (tomorrow) and I can't wait to program it.
This week I have a breastfeeding group to attend, swim lessons, and Evan and I are going on a date. I am also going to start preparing for a yard sale, taking stuff out to the garage and pricing it as I go through closets and things. I am overwhelmed with the amount of things I need to go through, but I told myself that there is no reason to have to go through everything this summer before the sale in June, but that I can get through whatever I can this summer and have another one in the fall for whatever I couldn't get through this spring. No pressure, I have some time on my hands. But amongst all that, we are also supposed to try to get together with CB, my sister, go to Kewanee to pick up our rugs, and also visit and deliver mother's day gifts to TWO of Ardyn's great grandmas. I am not sure that we can accomplish all that (nor that we want to accomplish all that in one week.)
What amazes me the most about being home, is that people literally think that Ardyn and I have nothing to do. It never fails that people always are "stopping by" when I am trying to get out of the house and go somewhere. I have to admit that this frustrates me. While I do like the occasional surprise visitor, I don't like them before 10am, and I really do appreciate people who call in advance. Ardyn and I frequently spend our mornings leisurely, in comfy clothes or pajamas, eating our breakfast, playing, singing songs, doing laundry, and taking baths and getting ready for our day. Sometimes we tidy the kitchen, sometimes we vacuum, sometimes we do nothing. Sometimes we lay in bed or on the couch and giggle and clap and try to say new words. Sometimes we read a book. Or three. Nothing is worse then a knock on the door when your hair is sticking up on end and you have mascara rings under your eyes and Ardyn is wearing a diaper with no cover and her shirt has applesauce or rice rusk goop on it. Of course, sometimes we will get the knock on the door while we are in the bathtub, or 10 seconds after we have gotten out of the bathtub and are wearing towels. And I know that people say they don't care if we aren't "presentable" but I have to say that I do care, and it bugs me. It's not that I don't want to see anyone, but I like to have my teeth brushed and my pants on! Part of the fun of being home is that Ardyn and I operate on our own schedule and don't have to answer to anyone. If we want to go out and about for a day, we do. If we want to stay home, we stay home and be relaxed.
Here's to a relaxing week. Ardyn and I will be unpacking, relaxing, and recuperating. And you will probably find us in our underwear. Or me wearing my comfy organic cotton pants and a hemp headband. Here's to hippies. They were the nicest people at the expo, and I loved talking to them and laughing with them.