Monday, June 14, 2010

Summer Escapes (6.20.08)

"This is hard for me," I tried to explain to my husband during the middle of my hissy fit last weekend. "I can't just run off to Montana to go backpacking. I want to go backpacking! But I can't."

That Montana trip, the actual one I took a million years ago, B.C. (Before Children), has taken on epic proportions in my mind. It stands as the borderland between my old life and new - we got engaged that week with enthusiastic plans to start our family immediately. And it symbolizes the perfect freedom I enjoyed when I could leisurely flip through the backcountry outfitters brochures, spend hours shopping at Uncle Dan's, wander a spectacular part of the world with everything I need on my back and have interesting conversations with my plane seatmate on the way home about grizzly bears and life philosophies.

The last time I flew, I was too busy shushing, wincing, amusing and managing my monkeys and their cargo to strike up any grownup conversation.

It's not that I don't enjoy the company of my children. When well-fed and rested, they are funny and fun. And when they are not, they are my responsibility - one I take seriously.

I just get tired sometimes of our routine – the same routine I know gives my children stability and a comforting context to make new discoveries and find fun. This year Nora can slide down the slide at the pool! The snackbar has new popsicles!

Every time I entertain a few moments of ridiculous fantasy – say, when reading how the protagonist of A Thousand Acres runs away from the farm to become a waitress -- I hear that bouncy '80's dance song in my head: If You Leave Me Can I Come Too? The only way I could escape my current life would be with everyone I love and we'd make a silly caravan, a crowd at the side of the road, all of us with our bandanas on sticks over our shoulders and our thumbs in the air.

So this summer in addition to the old favorites - the zoo, the beach, Kraft Kids concerts at Ravinia, the pool - I'm looking forward to some new summer attractions - still familiar enough not to spook my girls, but fresh enough to quell my fantasies of running off to Glacier...

Cookie and Gourmet magazines are sponsoring the first Kids' Restaurant Week June 21-28! For this event, some of Chicago's best restaurants are welcoming children with special menus at fixed prices and early seatings. Osteria di Tramonte, in the new Westin in Wheeling, has mom/pastry superchef Gale Gand in the house!

Ralph Covert and Dan Zanes, along with lots of rockin' friends are coming to the Toyota Park in Bridgeview for the Disney Music Block Party Tour August 8 -10!

Although excessive rain has delayed much of the crop, we still have hopes to go up north to Wisconsin to pick organic strawberries in Wisconsin at the JenEhr Family Farm. Perhaps we'll swing by Madison and check out the giant farmer's market and walk the lakefront. I can't wait. The mountains will always be there. This summer I've got some tiny adventures to have with my girls.

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