Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My kind of town

I’ve been away from Chicago for too long. Not that I haven’t been back since I moved away to go to the university more than twelve years ago, but I had forgotten how much there is to do and to see in this “Windy City,” and the pull my original home town has on me… The feeling I get coming around that corner on 90/94 when the familiar skyline comes into view… There definitely has been a shift in my interests and priorities; I’m no longer as interested in the diner where $1.50 would get me lunch and endless coffee or the bowling alley that has the cheapest cosmic bowling. But while I’m here with the boys I’m determined to do some catching up, not just with family, but with Chicago!
We had a lot of catching up to do in terms of family. Mikus met his Chicago grandfather for the first time, as well as my sister Z and brother, grandmother, and extended family. The out-of-town family he’ll meet in a couple of weeks at his christening, but we’ve been relishing all the attention these past weeks, something that was sorely missing during our time in France.

Loving the attention!
It’s also nice to be back in a Latvian center (of sorts). My parents speak Latvian at home (as do my husband’s parents, which is a large part of the reason we speak Latvian to one another and the boys), so Lauris has really doubled (or even tripled) his vocabulary during the time we have been here. The rest of the relatives also speak Latvian at home and I believe it is important for the boys to hear others speaking the language, so that they realize it isn’t just spoken at home and has other uses as well. I was very happy to hear that the Latvian School of Chicago was starting its school year while we are here; although I cannot enroll Lauris in the preschool as we’ll only be here for three of the Saturdays it is in session, we have been invited to visit while we are here. We accepted the invitation this past weekend and joined in the bērnu svētki festival, an annual tradition on the first day of school. There were games, face-painting, bubbles, obstacle courses and most importantly, tons of kids speaking Latvian.

Watching his brother blowing bubbles
Sunday my parents joined us to go to the Renegade Craft Fair, another very cool thing about Chicago. It started in Chicago in 2003, and since then has spread to several other large cities including London. They bill themselves as a large scale marketplace event, showcasing the work of contemporary indie-craft artists.” Think of it as a real-live etsy store, with handmade crafts and art from all over the US and Canada. Greenville has a smaller version, the Indie Craft Parade, which takes place on the same weekend. I really enjoyed the fair Sunday, it had a large variety of crafts including ceramics, paper goods, housewares, jewelry and clothing. It’s also interesting to see what the current trends are. Two years ago in Greenville there were a lot of screen printing goods and ceramics, this year wood seemed to be the medium of choice. I was fascinated with all the beautiful things made from reclaimed wood; I’ve long dreamed of finding giant beams from an old farmhouse and having them made into a dining room table, and it seems that I’m not the only one! A few of the booths had free DIY projects and so I helped Lauris decorate a couple of tiles that will go in the boys room eventually and also made him a button with a big ship. Most of our purchases were consumed immediately – ice cream, a smoothie, a Chicago-style hot dog, but the most valuable thing we took home with us may have been inspiration. My mother is very crafty and  incredibly gifted artistically, and I hope she’ll start a business someday. Seeing all these artists doing what they love and earning money doing it might just be the thing to give her a nudge?

The neighborhood block party gave us the chance to check out this engine
This week we have big plans for zoos, museums, old friends and more family – September is a big month for birthdays. We’ll definitely be busy, busy, but that’s ok. I figure keeping busy might just distract the boys from how much we all miss dad.



  1. It sounds like you are having a great time reconnecting with your family and the city! Enjoy!

  2. I'm so conflicted about the Renegade Craft Fair....

    I mean, they have some *COOL* stuff.... but did you know that they started out with a "mission statement" along the lines of "we're so tired of the huge, juried, hard-to-get-in-to craft fairs, this one is going to be for the little guys. It will be EASY and CHEAP to get in because the folks who can't make it into the BIG shows need a market/place, too"

    and yet, they've grown into something HUGE (good for them!) but now it IS getting more expensive to get in AND it's essentially juried, too, so your stuff has to make it past the judges panel before you're even let in....



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