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Thanksgiving in Chicago with (Almost) the Whole Tuska Clan

Thursday
After work on Wednesday we drove down to stay the night at Scott's parents house. When we arrived we learned the air mattress was already at Colin's place. Luckily we brought Meadow's travel toddler bed.

Unfortunately that bed no longer stays inflated.

We woke up, ate breakfast and drove the final 90 minutes to Chicago. For some reason I got the address wrong by a block. I stepped up to this modern home and thought aloud, "This can't be right." It turns out it was one more block to the east.

When we arrived Meadow said, "We're here already?!" I guess she's not used to short drives.

Then we found the right place. The story with their apartment is that the building was a single family home that started on fire. The inside was gutted after the fire and split into two units. Thank you Chicago for saving the building.

While the food was being prepped we ate fancy meats and cheeses.


My brother Colin was hard at work chopping the Brussels sprouts. Colin and Jen had lived in New York City for the past ten years. Jen took a promotion at CB2's headquarters in Chicago and the rest is history.

Colin's flat has not one, but two porches. A giant one overlooks the backyard while a smaller sitting space is on the third level. You could see all of West Town and Ukrainian Village from here.


Meadow was shy around everyone at first, but then warmed up to her nana.

It was sure nice letting Jen and Colin do all of the cooking.

That left us to noshing on meats, cheese and Chicago microbrews.

Jen grew up loving Hello Kitty.

She still has a few Hello Kitty collectibles hanging around.

She let Meadow play with her old Hello Kitty doll. 

Meadow wouldn't let go of it the rest of the weekend.

Colin and Jen did cheat just a little bit. They got a precooked turkey from Whole Foods. That's a genius idea. 

They made up for their one little cheat by making all the rest of the fixings homemade. My favorite had to be the green bean casserole with crisp beans and shiitakes. 

The ladies somehow all ended up on the couch.

Jen isn't quite sure if they'll get a dinning room table, but they do have a space for one. 

A few days earlier this week, Colin texted me that we should play catch on Thanksgiving. Then he told me he had purchased a football. I'm not sure we've ever done this before, but why not making it a tradition.

How lucky for Meadow that a playground is right across the street.

After we threw the ball around/watched Meadow run after it, grandpoppy wanted to show us his basketball skills. With no basketball, he showed off his shot with Colin's newfound football. Guess Colin needs to add to his sports ball collection.

Our return to the flat meant it was pie time.

Scott and Meadow made the pies.

After dinner we all hung out and watched some TV as a family. This was the first Thanksgiving with my parents, brother and Jen in probably a decade. The only one missing was my sister and the Wrobleski clan. We'll just have to wait for Christmas for the big reunion.

My pops recently went off chemo; it's been nearly two years since he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since the chemo isn't working any longer, we don't know how long we'll have with grandpoppy. It could be six months, it could be years. Knowing him, I think we'll be having a few more Thanksgivings together. If not, it's wonderful that the whole Tuska clan is back in the midwest.

After my parents left and a few episodes of Sesame Street we started to get hungry. Colin had big plans for the leftover turkey.

At 6:00 Meadow said she was ready for bed. She got on her pajamas and I blew up her bed. Once we turned on Sesame Street she was suddenly awake.

We all had one or two bbq turkey sandwiches. Only Colin and I were brave enough to add some giardiniera to the sammies. We were in Chi-town after all.

Friday
After breakfast we set out on a long walk in the city. The weather was also unseasonably warm, so no coats needed. Not that that would stop Meadow anyway.

Meadow spotted a playground when we walked by this school. So we took a pit stop so she could play.

 She always wants to race.

This was after Meadow and I had raced a few laps around the schoolyard track.

We had been walking through West Town's residential streets, but then decided to take Chicago Avenue into Downtown.

We had plans to get a Ventra card, but just kept walking.

Then Meadow spotted another playground. Another stop it is.

Eventually we crossed the highway into the edges of downtown.

Then we just so happened on another playground. I think Meadow was having the best day ever.


The chocolate factory across the street was wafting sweet smells of chocolate in our direction.

We hadn't planned on it, but we ended up walking the entire way.


Colin told us to stop by his restaurant, The Kitchen, for lunch. Their building was one of the few buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire.

It's located right on the Chicago River.

Of course, as the beverage manager, Colin gave us a little tour of the restaurant.


We were treated to cheese curds and a veggie and hummus plate. The cheese curds with green goddess dressing was so good.

Jen also came and met with us for lunch.

I got the bolognese.

Colin had the chef make Meadow buttered noodles.


I went with the Slagel Farms burger.

For dessert Meadow had pistachio ice cream and the adults shared a giant chocolate chip cookie.

With ice cream on top.

With our tummies full we headed back into the city.

Daley Plaza had a Christmas market that we tried squeezing through. It was a bit intense.

The crowds were crazy, we couldn't get out.

After seeing how packed the market and downtown was I knew Millennium Park was going to be as well.

At least there was a bit of space to move around here.

Meadow was loving the Bean.


Too bad we didn't think to bring Meadow's ice skates.

Before heading back we let Meadow play at one last playground. If you've got kids Maggie Daley Park is the Shangri-La of playgrounds. 

It was pretty awesome, but also way crowded. We will have to take her back on a non holiday weekend.

On our walk back we went by Macy's to see their window displays.

In the not too distant future this could be a thing of the past. Macy's already closed in Minneapolis, but perhaps Chicago's tourists will keep the old department stores alive.

We got back a bit before Colin, but when he got home he had a present for Meadow.

She loves her stuffed animals.

According to my FitBit we had walked 7 miles that day. Meadow never complained once and we only carried her in the busy areas. I was pooped, but Meadow still had tons of energy we got back.

She summersaulted right up until bedtime.

Saturday
Apparently Meadow was tired because she slept until 10:30 the next day. After we finally left the house we decided to go out for brunch at Whisk. Seriously check out their menu, I couldn't decide what to get.

I think we were the only one's who didn't bring a bottle of champagne to make mimosas.


I ended up getting the pulled pork hash with sweet potatoes. It was good.

I gave in and skipped the hash to get the Oreo Raspberry pancakes. When ordering Meadow complained she just wanted a plain pancake. Then when she saw mine she wanted some of my toppings. 

I love Chicago's endless busy streets with countless great restaurants and shops.

With my Minnesota Historical Society Membership we got free admission to the Chicago History Museum.

I was a hot dog and Scott and Meadow added the relishes.

I attempted to ride an old fashioned bike, but it wasn't working so well.

The diorama room of the history of the city was cool. These were first built in the 1930's!

Besides the dioramas, the historic streetcar was one of Meadows favorite stops.

We had joked about putting Meadow in the briefcase holder of the Divy bikes. It turns out she did fit, but Brooke and Meadow weren't having it. Since the introduction of bike share we've never used them. It just doesn't work with kids.

While we were walking on Friday Meadow spotted a happy meal box with Hello Kitty on it. I told her that was from McDonald's and that maybe we would take her.

We haven't eaten at McDonald's since before she was born.

She kept talking about going to "Old McDonald's" to get a Hello Kitty toy. We had some time before meeting up with Colin and Jen so we told her we would take her out for her first happy meal. She skipped the whole way over and was sooo happy when she got her meal.

We just ate some fries to hold us over until dinner.

We met up with Colin and Jen at Lincoln Park Zoo, which has one of the best light displays we've been to.

There was a carousal at the park and of course you know we had to ride it.

Not quite Bentleyville, but still pretty good.

We were getting hungry so we made our way through the park and back into the city.

We walked over to Happy Camper for dinner. Meadow was the only kid here. She was jealous that there were swings at the bar.

I don't think she'd ever been to a restaurant with loud club music before. She seemed to enjoy it.

We all got pizza, nachos and wings. Since Meadow had a happy meal earlier she got guac and chips, but mostly ate the chips. 

After finishing our beers (well not Brooke, since she's pregers) and pizza we took our first Uber ride. I didn't realize that you could just take a kid in any car share without a car seat.

Colin wanted to take us to Margie's Candies for some ice cream.

When we got there we found out there was an hour wait.

I wasn't expecting the place to be so packed at 9:30 at night.

Too crazy for us. Maybe next time.

So, instead we went to CVS and got some ice cream to take back to their apartment.

Another late night for Meadow who doesn't seemed phased by all the walking we did again.

I'd say it was a great first visit and Thanksgiving to Colin and Jen in Chicago. It's nice to have to them within driving distance and in one of my favorite cities. 

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