Chicago Winter Sanity Savers (but sadly, barely any biking.)

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1) The Haul-a-Day made it out for a quick trip to the grocery store. 2) Chicagoans don’t let a little Winter stop them! 3) That sky? That’s COLD. 4) Clarke house looking quiet on our walk home from the park.

Gross. Gross. Gross.  It’s warmed up since this morning, but with a ‘RealFeel’ of -11, our family is looking at another day indoors.  This is a really tough time of year, and the poor Haul-a-Day is languishing in the garage.  It’s a heated garage, and I’m still determined to fix up the big-girl bike (HotRock) with fenders, but it’s even too chilly for that…

So I thought maybe I’d share a few ways the kids and I spend time in the winter here.  I was hoping for a milder season, since last year was horrendously cold as well.  But nope!  So are a few of our sanity savers.

#1- Museum of Science and Industry.

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I loved this exhibit. The kids were impatient to go see the baby chicks. My mom and dad were along and he was digging the vintage bikes and telling me all about the coolest bikes on the block when he was a kid, which was fun. The velocipede is the yellow wheeled-one. My son was super excited to see a ‘balance bike’ like his on display, and still insists he doesn’t ever need pedals. :)

Where to go if you’d like to see a velocipede. (Don’t worry, they don’t bite.) Chicago museum admissions are not cheap- we take advantage of discount days (free basic admission for Illinois families) and passes from the library when possible.  Lately there have been some great deals on Groupon for museum memberships though, and we were able to get MSI for under $90!  That’s amazing, considering it includes parking and Omnimax movies, plus reduced prices on special exhibits.  Homeschooling families can get free basic admission to the museum any day, but the lines can be long and you’ll pay full price on special programs and exhibits.  This Winter we’ve gone with a friend who drives a few times and took my parents (and their car.)  But we’ve also taken the bus to the museum and have plans to take the Metra at some point. We especially love the chicks, the bike decor in the member lounge, and- this awesome new exhibit.  You can spend a whole day here and not see everything- it’s like the Walt Disney World of Chicago museums…  my kids like the Idea Factory and we are able to catch live Science demonstrations much of the time.  The building is the only one remaining from the Columbian Exposition, which makes it worth a look from the outside, as well. (If it’s nice enough outside, which it isn’t.)

 

#2- Instacart.

Serial sicknesses, freezing rain, wind chills below -10, yeah, even if I bundled up and went out, my kids would be in tears.  They have a pretty firm 30 degree cut-off, so Instacart it is.  Prices are marked up considerably for Costco and Whole Foods, but Mariano’s, our local chain, is pretty decent.  Plus, minimum order for free delivery is $35 (we have an annual subscription) so that means our food is fresher.  I’m able to order for 2-3 days at a time, which means fewer bags of salad in the trash.  When we used Peapod we had a minimum order of $100, which meant in many cases a lot of waste.  I totally justify our grocery delivery by not having a car. :)  Plus, depending on the weather, I can often get delivery within a few hours, which is good news when I need that one thing to make dinner and realize we’re out.wpid-screenshot_2015-02-21-16-23-18.png#3 Uber

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Our Valentine’s Day/Anniversary night out- at a Vegas themed fundraiser. My daughter loves heels- oh boy. I am not one to gamble- but with fake money it was a blast! And I came out waaaay ahead. (except it all went to KICS Soccer in the end!)

I’ve blogged about Lyft before, and while I still use it, I now use Uber almost as frequently.  I don’t always want to wait for a Lyft to find me, so the Uber Taxi service is a great alternative.  So is Uber X, ride sharing based on the Lyft model (drivers use their own cars.)  We need to walk about three blocks to catch a bus, and some days that short jaunt plus the wait seem, well, hellish. On Valentine’s day, we went to a Vegas night fundraiser just a few blocks from home, but there was no way I was walking in a cocktail dress.  We took Uber- at a premium cost, thanks to the surge pricing.  When the weather is bad, demand increases, and so do the prices.  You won’t often see me in full makeup and heels, this was a very (very) rare instance- getting there warm and with my tailbone intact was well worth it!

 

#4: Um, the Internet.  But especially these sites…

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1) At DIY.org, set up accounts for your kids then accept challenges in lots of different categories- it’s like virtual scouts. 2) Bikabout is a pretty comprehensive directory for a decent amount of cities, with curated routes, analysis of bike culture, and tips on shops, lodging, and destinations. 3) Bike Winter! I love this! I know a lot of families who embrace their car-free lifestyle year round- read tips here. 4) Tom Skilling is THE MAN. The blog is really imformative and entertaining, I just wish he had better news for us.

 

I’m missing being outside.  Missing the lake, and being on our bike, and picnics.  First virtual stop: bikabout.com.  I’m planning several trips in my head, even though I’m not sure we’ll be traveling anywhere soon.  It’s nice to live vicariously through these curated routes- my favorite right now is maybe Athens, GA.  Or Vancouver.  Or Portland.  But I’d love to go to Colorado… Did I mention I have a route published?  You can read the Chicago Green Space one here, but I’d hold off until at least April. :)

Also, I feel ironically warm and fuzzy when I read the Bikewinter.org website- a good place for getting neck gaiter patterns, browsing a gallery of winter commuters bundled in their best, and looking over the very entertaining sticker design submissions.  Sadly I didn’t get a sticker this year, we missed critical mass.  We vote for the designs every Fall on the Chainlink.

I learned about DIY from a fellow Kidical Mass organizer, and it’s amazing.  As a homeschooling mom, I’m sometimes racking my brain for things to do and there are so many ideas to choose from.  Great layout, and very educational.  (I want to do some of the challenges myself.)  My daughter is lately obsessed with Minecraft, and I like knowing she’s working toward a goal.

Finally, I’m checking Tom Skilling’s weather report daily, and hoping there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

#4 Warm clothes and outerwear.

You can’t beat some soft long underwear for warmth on the legs, and they make great pajamas.  I love my coat this year.  It’s a Columbia Microlight hooded coat, and it is PERFECT.  Also loving my Hunter wellies for slush, though I’m not able to find the fleece liners that would make them perfect.  Neck gaiters are the key- keep your neck and nose covered, and it’s much more tolerable in the wind.  Here’s a collection of photos of us in our outerwear.  :)

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This week looks a lot more promising- so if we can get well I hope to be out more!  I think everyone is on the mend- one last photo that tells the story of the past week or more:

Stay warm and well, everybody!!

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