Yesterday morning, I packed Kavya in the stroller and put Ellie on her leash and we went for a leisurely walk to Olivia's, the local gourmet grocer. Normally, this is a ten-minute walk away, but Ellie wanted to smell everything, so the round trip with shopping took about an hour. We went early enough that it was still relatively pleasant out -- only 80 degrees or so, as opposed to the close-to-90 it would hit later in the day. I bought fresh fruit and veggies, some ready-made Indian food (we really like the Patak's canned tikka masala sauce, and the Kitchens of India palak paneer), and some cold sodas. I discovered that I can comfortably fit about three small grocery bags in the bottom of the stroller, and that the nice store people will help you lift the stroller up the two steps out of the store (very helpful, since technically, I'm still not supposed to lift anything heavier than the baby, for fear of pulling out some of the caesarean stitches). I came home feeling quite triumphant at the success of our little excursion.
Today we went a little farther. We went down to the Damen/Milwaukee/North intersection. Stopped at the Starbucks window and buzzed for service -- a nice option when you have a dog with you, since you don't have to tie her up outside while you go in. Got an iced chai and a bagel and then headed over to Wicker Park. Sat on a bench by the fountain and the flower garden, ate my bagel and Ellie and I watched the world go by for a bit. Kavya was sleeping peacefully -- the motion of the stroller tends to put her to sleep, if she's otherwise comfortable (fed, clean, etc). When I'd finished eating, we walked over to the dog park, and for an hour, Ellie got to play with the other puppies. The weather was gorgeous -- 80 degrees, yes, but with a nice breeze it was awfully pleasant in the shade. And when we were tired, we headed home, stopping at Red Hen for fresh baked bread. It's cold sandwich weather around here. :-) All together, we were out for about two hours.
I did get just a little bored at the park; it would have been nice to have a book. But then again, I wouldn't have felt comfortable reading it in the dog park, since I did have to guard the stroller in case any overenthusiastic doggies came by to investigate baby. Maybe tomorrow or the next day, I'll take a book and we'll just sit in the regular park and hang out for a while. Less exciting for Ellie, but still better than being stuck inside the apartment all day, I think.
When we were contemplating our move from Greektown last year, we looked all over the city before settling on Wicker Park / Bucktown. Some areas we could afford didn't feel safe enough. Others were far enough out that it seemed like our commute to downtown would be pretty painful. We were really tempted by the South Loop -- good investment opportunities there, since it seemed likely that area will get well developed within ten years or so. But there was almost nothing to do there when were looking -- few cafes, bookstores, parks, etc. I'm really glad we ended up living here, even though it did stretch our budget to its limit (and then some :-). Eventually, we may want to move somewhere else for a bigger home, better schools, etc. But for right now, with a young, small family, this neighborhood seems pretty much perfect.