The Big Fat Chicago Post

I’m not going to pretend there aren’t unicorns flying in this post and decided I might as well give you a visual. They’re Midwestern unicorns. They’re wearing Bulls jerseys. They stop for water breaks at the top of the Sears Tower, and they are very, very nice. Unicorns bring with them many photos of happy city things.



We rolled into Barnes and Noble in Skokie, Illinois about ten minutes before the book signing Tuesday evening. Tidying up a bit in the parking lot, I used the visor mirror to touch up my lipstick and rake my fingers through my travel hair while Brett dug through the suitcase, looking for something to replace his “Trust me, I’m a Doctor” Dr. Pepper t-shirt. Someone told me later she laughed that there was a bum in the Old Orchard Center parking lot getting naked until she realized she recognized the bum from the blog. It was Brett. And he was just changing his shirt. The fact that someone noticed him changing his shirt just thrills Brett. Thank you to all those who came Tuesday night. I didn’t have to force my signature on one Fifty Shades of Grey, and I enjoyed meeting every one of you. (and now adding a quick thank you to the folks who came to Monroe tonight as well! You all are so welcoming and kind!)

I was busy signing and didn’t get any pictures, but I’ll share a couple Instagram photos on Friday.

I found out later that Lainey signed a couple of books. And drew hearts.

We spent the day in the city yesterday, and though I’ve challenged my statement of “Chicago’s my favorite place on earth” the past couple of years with new found destination loves (Sundance, NYC, etc.), I realized yesterday that Chicago really truly is my first love. You know what I love about Chicago? While New York is prized for being #1 in the U.S. and takes the cake for being most fashionable, most cutting edge, most current, etc., Chicago’s totally cool with being #2. It doesn’t need to be the best—that’s not important, and that’s exactly what makes this city so fabulous. (No offense, New York. I love you too.)

John Hancock Building



Introducing the big city to my girls, overtaking the full width of Chicago sidewalks with our entire family in tow, was perfection.




I had planned a checklist of all these things I wanted them to experience—Millenium Park, Shedd Aquarium, the American Girl store, Garrett Popcorn, Ed Debevics, Giordano’s, Field Museum, the Navy Pier ferris wheel. But somewhere in between holding hands as a family to cross Ontario and stopping in front of the Wrigley Building to admire the Chicago River, I realized that the city itself—its electric energy, its sounds, its vast array of skyscrapers hugged against Lake Michigan and all the culture and color in between–was enough to fulfill every dream I had for exposing my girls to Chicago culture.




My favorites?

City Love.
At first I only noticed my own family, clutching hands as we walked the streets, cozily sidling up against each other to make room for more pedestrians on the sidewalk.


And then I realized it’s everywhere here. Midwestern love. Smiling faces, locked hands, arms linked in friendship. There’s a lot of love in this town.



A: The arrow above looks like I drew a butt. I’m sorry about that. B: The middle subject of this photo scores major points for the ensemble–yellow sweater, sweet floral A-line skirt, simple pony tail. Touche’. C: Clarifying to the Instagram followers–no that’s not me holding hands with Steve Carell, although I’d totally wear that outfit and I’d totally hold Steve Carell’s hand.

My favorite love photo? Right outside of Navy Pier, this enthusiastic group of strangers randomly jumped in a photo with a bride and groom.


Navy Pier
It was the perfect day for the pier, so we walked all the way to the end, stopping for chocolate ice cream and a ferris wheel ride and counting the seagulls along the way.





Overcoming only a little bit of pre-ride anxiety, Lainey climbed on board the ferris wheel with me and wanted to make sure I told her friend Aleena that she was brave.



Dad in the City.
I loved watching him yesterday, strolling through the city in his aviators, pushing the stroller, hoisting the girls up in his arms, holding hands, stopping to point out to Lainey the window washers who appeared as tiny specks glued way up high on the buildings.




Street Entertainment.


In the grass, with skyscraper backdrops. People everywhere, doing the same thing. It made for needful stroller breaks.






Giordanos Stuffed Pizza.
Enough said.




Garrett Popcorn.
Our hotel was right next door to it, so we knew we were getting close when we smelled the air, thick with sweet caramel. While Brett ran out to the car last night, I sprinted through the hotel hallway with the girls and down ten floors to make it to Garrett Popcorn five minutes before closing. It was so entirely worth it.


I enjoyed two very special one-on-one moments with each of my girls in Chicago. Last night, I bundled Nella in her jammies and slipped her in the baby carrier for a late city walk. By the time we made it out the hotel lobby door, she was already asleep, and so we walked. And walked. And walked. My girl sleeping against my chest, the moon light filtered between the grid of buidings. I didn’t want the night to end. Mesmorized by the enchanting reflection of city lights on the river, I walked along the river’s edge, past restaurants and late night diners sipping wine. I breathed in the city’s song and felt it with all of my senses. And while Nella slept, I whispered to her about all the things she was missing–how beautiful it was, how happy it made me.



Early this morning, I followed our special evening with the same walk with Lainey, this time characterized by warm sunshine and the morning hustle.



I stopped to show her a building made up of stones from great landmarks across the world. She pointed to the ones that amused her, asking where they came from; and I answered, reading their respective inscriptions. We ran our fingers over the impressive architecture and continued walking, holding hands. Morning in the city, with my best friend by my side. It was special.


My love affair with this second city has been rekindled.





So much, I think we’re hitting it one more time on the way home.



Leave a Comment
  1. hurray for the MIDWEST! whoop whoop! it looks like you all had such a magical time in chicago. there is just something about that city. i loved seeing all the signs of city love like the park, cabs, and your two little ladies soaking it all in. have a wonderful weekend, mama!

    xo, amanda @

  2. I live in the Midwest and have been to Chicago many times! I so wish I could have come to your book signing!

    I really loved your post and photos! You describe Chicago in such a beautiful way.

  3. It sounds like you are having SUCH a fantastic time. I laughed about your mistaken identity in the instagram picture. That definitely does look like an outfit you would wear for sure : )

    I am glad you are having so much fun.

  4. Fantastic pics of an amazing city! You rock a camera, Mrs Hampton.

  5. oh kelle! i am reading this with big hot mess tears in my eyes…we, the husband and my two littles, are moving to chicago in literally twenty days. i can’t tell you how much i needed this post. right this very second.

    thank you thank you thank you…seriously more than you know!

  6. I may be biased because I have lived here my whole life, but there is something extremely magical about our beautiful city. So glad you love Chicago, too!

  7. the MIDWEST is totally is the bomb diggity! Looking at these photos, I can smell the Midwestern air (you all can laugh). It’s home! I miss Wisco like crazy right now, my parents house is right across the street from Lake Michigan and I love sitting outside watching the sunrise! Chicago is truly amazing and Midwesterner’s are so friendly :) lOVE the photos! xx

  8. Your photos always take my breath away kelle. What an amazing trip! xoxo

  9. Wow! Everythng looks AMAZING! I’ll have to add it to the bucket list of places to go!!

  10. Great pics! And your red shoes? DIVINE.

  11. Glad you loved it here!

    ps. It’s Shedd Aquarium and Giordano’s only has one N. Carry on. 😉

  12. Amei as fotos, sua família é linda!
    Amo seu blog!!! Devia ter versão em português brasileiro, não sou boa no ingles


  13. Thank you, Cheryl @ a pretty cool life! I caught myself with the Shedd (I knew better!) but missed Giordano. Gotta do my favorite city proud!

  14. I think this just became my favorite post. I love love LOVE Chicago! I was born there, lived there the first four years of my life, and have visited a handful of times, most recently just exactly a year ago. I love EVERYTHING about the city, from Navy Pier, to Marshall Fields and the Walnut Room. I could go on all day, but I’ll end with…Chicago makes my heart happy.

  15. Was that a green olive stuffed pizza? It has been too long since I devoured a slice of that. Now I ache for my Midwestern home.

    Thanks for sharing

  16. Thanks for sharing! I love long, rambling posts just bursting with fun stuff! I can’t wait to go to Chicargo. Though I think it best that I sit tight with Sydney now. :)

  17. So first off a funny moment as I read about the woman who saw a “bum” in the parking lot. I was laughing thinking of the British term bum getting naked and then realized it was a whole different meaning.

    Love this post and Hoorah for summer and exploring with your family. I am loving family time too.

    Happy rest of your trip.

  18. Oooooh! I want a Lainey heart in my book 😉
    And some red shoes! (when I’m able to wear them again :(
    And a trip to that beautiful city….for a walk at night with my girl snugged up close.


  19. i’m behind on blog reading and sad that i missed you in chicago. i would’ve made the short drive to skokie!

    i must be the only person in the world who doesn’t love chicago though. i have lived here 3 years and i don’t think i will ever love it- it’s just not home i guess.

    but i really came here to say… Giordano’s?!?! Lou’s has the best pizza!!

  20. Gorgeous! It looks like you are having such a fun trip!

  21. Looks like you and your family are having a wonderful time! I’ve always wanted to visit Chicago just for the pizza ;-). So sweet your daughter is helping sign books, those books will be extra special ♥

  22. Looks like you and your family are having a wonderful time! I’ve always wanted to visit Chicago just for the pizza ;-). So sweet your daughter is helping sign books, those books will be extra special ♥

  23. I soooo want to be there, people watching, eating that pizza (it looks like a cross between cake and quiche), feeling the city heat on my skin, smelling the air. Yup Chicago…you’ve made my bucket list.

  24. PS I love how Brett is always wearing his shorts… He’s like the crocodile Dundee of Florida. You can take the boy out of Florida but you can’t take the Florida out of the boy. For the record I LOVE his love of shorts. Oh and he has lovely legs :-) Keep up the shorts wearing Brett…it makes a Scottish lady with legs like milk bottles due to our inclement weather, very happy 😉

  25. Chicago is the best. I just spent 5 years there, my daughter was born there and The River East Art Studio was kiddy corner from where I lived at McClurg and Illinois. Great, Great pics – thank you for sharing!

  26. I too want a Lainey heart in my book! So, so sweet of her! Our oldest daughter just got back from Chicago and LOVED it! Glad you all are having such fun on your road trip! That is just too funny about Brett and the bum comment, totally something my hubby would have done, but he would have changed his pants too! Ha! Was wondering, is the bag you are carrying in the second photo from one of your prior blog sponsors? If so, I’d love to know who makes it! I’m thinking it’s the photo bag to hold your camera you featured awhile back…but can’t remember who made them.

  27. Your pics make me SO excited to share Chicago w/my girls this summer for the first time..It makes me realize we MUST go more often, we’re only 3 hours away!! Your little family is so cute and the pictures, as always, are amazing!!

  28. I love the way you tell a story with both your words and camera.
    Never been to Chicago, but all the way from Australia, let me tell you I now want to!
    I love studying yours and the kids outfits too.
    You all have this effortless style that I love.
    Keep on having a fabulous time!

  29. Ps I love your red shoes!! Girl after my own heart :)

  30. Now I totally want to go to Chicago. I’ve never been there before (actually, I’ve never been Stateside, ever), but it looks fantastic!

  31. Midwesten love is an honest and real thing indeed. There’s truth all around. I love the primary colors, pig tails, sun flares and smiles within this juicy post. Happy roads ahead to your and your traveling peeps.

  32. I live in the city and I adored this post about my beloved home. Since you’ve got a renewed love affair going… I think you should probably just move here already! Then I could catch you at another book signing since I missed you this week :)

  33. wonderful pics! so much love in them! thank you!

  34. i love your pictures!!! :)

  35. your road trip sounds fantabolous! i love, love, love that picture of lainey holding her milk and a treat in front of the cab. so grown up looking!

    all these chicago talk makes me want to go visit, and i’ve never once thought about going to chicago EVER. you have totally changed my mind!

  36. HI!!
    MY SISTER(her kids) and My brother and his family all live in Chicago suburbs…SO Chicago is one of MY FAV BIG BIG CITIES!!!I have been to NYC once for 4 days… I love her…..but do not know her like I know Chicago….of course I live in a Big city suburb…but Chicago is a Very Neat place because of it’s River, it’s old buildings, the bridges, the L, the shopping, the great lake…
    oh I agree, it is great!!
    jamie–queen Mimi

  37. After following your blog for the last few months I ordered Bloom and was thrilled when it arrived only two days later! I started by placing my baby to play in the bathtub and settled in next to her and began to read.. and read and read throughout the rest of my day until 3 in the morning, crying at some parts and laughing at others, as my husband continuously checked in on me with a concerned expression. You have a beautiful family and an incredible, honest story! You are a fantastic mom Kelle!.. and your babies? Dont even get me started on your babies! I want to take them home with me and raise them with my own wild bunch! And I love how I wasnt left with the bittersweet feeling of finishing a great, heart-warming book, as this is a never ending story through your blog. Thank you for reminding me to be the Mom I want to be, and your girls for making me smile! Love, Katja

  38. Kelle, I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Chicago – I mean, always. And for a very long time I’ve wanted to visit a lot of the same places you mentioned…Millenium Park, Shedd Aquarium, the American Girl store, Garrett Popcorn Giordano’s, Field Museum, the Navy Pier ferris wheel etc…you know, the biggies. But after reading this unbelievably sweet and invigorating post, I’m no longer as obsessed with the famous site seeing as I am just getting to breathe Chicago’s air one day.

    I only hope that when my husband and I have children of my own we’re able to embark on a city adventure half as lovely as the one you and your family have just experienced.

    Such an adorable post.
    Thanks for sharing, doll!

  39. I think we’ll be in chicago around the same time… although we’ll just be in the airport!

    Looks like a wonderful adventure. And I so adore the photo of Lainey in front of the cab with her milk. So city-savvy.

  40. It looks like you’re having an amazing trip! It’s grey, wet & windy here in England so this was a lovely post to wake up to! xx

  41. Love chicago…. Glad you are having a great time!!

  42. Aaaahhhhh! CHICAGO! I have only been once. Our principal sent 12 of us teachers to view a blue ribbon school there and allowed us to stay for 3 full days enjoying the sights and sounds. A field trip in Chicago without having to count teenagers evWery block and a half? Needless to say we made memories! Can’t wait to go back one day with my hubby and little man.

    Your photos rekindled memories for me as well. Thanks again Hampton! :)

  43. Great pics (as always)! I spent some time in Chicago in college – this posting brings back so many great memories! I love Chicago:D

  44. Road trip….Cincinnati to Chicago. First stop Navy Pier. Second stop for popcorn. I love the family vibe all over the Midwest… Side note, your red shoes look great!

  45. I love Chicago, I know NY is meant to be all that but I’d rather have Chicago. It’s far more accessible and friendly. Less noise. Better attitude. Check out Lou Mitchell’s on the way home and go stand by a Route 66 sign! Glad you got in a Giordano’s pizza, I’d never heard of the popcorn place so maybe that’s a reason to revisit when my boat comes in! Travel safe. :)

  46. What a fabulous adventure that looks like!! And how do you look soo stinking cute at all times?

  47. Love this post – must visit Chicago one day!

  48. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!!!! We are headed to Chicago (from Toronto, ON, CA) in less than a month!!! This post has made me SUPER EXCITED!!!! I hope my pics turn out just as wonderful as yours and now I have a few more places I want to visit…..POPCORN!!!!

  49. It was awesome meeting you in Monroe!! Thanks so much for coming and being so gracious :) we are off to Chicago on Saturday–such a kick-ass city

  50. I too love Chicago! It is our go-to place for shopping for a special occasion, healing girl weekends, parties, special celebrations, exploring museums, loving the lakefront, experiencing Michigan Ave, celebrating my last milestone birthday, seeing amazing plays…I could go on and on! And the food? Omigosh, don’t get me started, because I’ll never finish! My dream is to just eat my way through all the amazing, eclectic restaurants from downtown to the burbs. And the architecture…and the history! You can have New York. I LOVE Chicago! So glad you do too.

  51. I saw Brett changing in the parking lot! That sounds so strange! It was a dream to hear you read and meet you on Tuesday, totally worth the 1 1/2 hour drive! Coming out to the signing was part of my “Kelle Hampton seize the day” plan I’m trying to implement in my life. I’ve lived in Chicago all my life and seeing it through your eyes has me planning another trip next week.

    Please keep writing and dreaming and blooming! And know your in a field full of bloomers who are reaching for the sun right along with you!

    Have a great trip!


  52. These pics are crazy awesome. Like Chicago travel guide should use these to promote the city. I’m from IL so these were cool to see. My first boyfriend is a doctor and lives on Michigan Ave. I can’t think about Chicago without thinking of him. Weird.

  53. I have just been plain ol giddy for you! Beautiful post, I think you have inspired me to add something to my bucket list. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  54. Ah…my daily dose of unicorn magic features my own city. Awesome. It’s true. Even after eight years I still look around and say “I get to live here!”

  55. Lainey is beautiful mini-YOU. So precious!

    Amazing pics as usual. Chicago is so much fun through your eyes…I went once, when I was little (in the winter) and all I remember was blustery cold wind.

    And I totally laughed at the Steve Carell picture…that’s what first popped in my mind!

    Thanks for sharing your adventure!

  56. Yay! Chicago in the summertime is the best. See you tomorrow at the signing in metro-Detroit :)

  57. Lainey in those sunglasses was enough to give me a smile for the whole morning. Such a cutie!

  58. Lovely post! So much fun! Never being to Chicago. Looks amazing!
    I want a Lainey heart on my book.
    As always you look beautiful (makes me happy to see you wearing your camera Lua Handbag).
    Cheers for the unicorns!

  59. omg where did you those red shoes…..LOVE THEM!!! I love Chicago too!! MY husband is from there and most of his family still lives around there, so we get to make lots of trips every year!!

  60. Darling -we discussed that particular shade of red lipstick, right? You need a more blue red than the Wallis Simpson red you have on. Too harsh and makes your mouth look like a slit.
    Otherwise, looks like you had a blast.

  61. First of all: PROPS TO LAINEY for riding that ferris wheel! That shot from the top? Yeah…I almost had an “accident” just looking at it! She was indeed a very brave girl, and her best friend should be in adequate awe when she hears the tale :-).

    Next: I’ve never been to Chicago, with the exception of O’Hare, but it looks like I may have to suggest it for the “someday” list.

    Finally: Thank you for the beautiful post with all of the color and love pictures in it. I’m sitting here this morning after discovering my coffee pot dirty in a sink full of dishes, my Cliff Bar missing, a stack of paper work to do, and the realization that I am having a near panic attack about two of my children being gone to the lake overnight without me. I won’t see them until tonight!!! Despite the fact it was a much needed break for all of us I still miss them like crazy! Your post was an upper! Thanks!

  62. Thought about the story you told us last night. Choose to handle it with love and compassion :) I will be able to use those words of wisdom!!!

  63. Thought about the story you told us last night. Choose to handle it with love and compassion :) I will be able to use those words of wisdom!!!

  64. The photo of you and the girls laying on the grass with the skyscraper in the background would be perfect for a new header! Love it.

    Yay for the Midwest! …from an Indiana girl :)

  65. Navy Pier pics are so crisp and perfect – you are so talented! Late night city walk sounds like a beautiful dream.

  66. Love this post and the pics. I’ve never been to Chicago so living vicariously through you is great. But really what hit me in this post was Lainey. The girl’s got style!

  67. What a great post! My husband, 11 month old and mom leave for Chicago tomorrow morning! We live in MI and are taking the train from Ann Arbor. Celebrating my husband’s 30th and my mom’s 60th! You gave me TONS of great ideas of things to do while we’re there. I hadn’t heard of the pizza place, will have to check it out! Enjoy your time in Michigan, it’s so beautiful this time of year!

  68. Thank you Kelle for such a great post I’m sorry I missed you this week, but I loved seeing all your Chicago pics. I love living in the city and you definitely captured the magic that is Chicago perfectly.

  69. I so enjoyed this post. My parents fell in love in Chicago in the early 80’s and we have visited several times over the years, as a family, and in smaller groups of family. Once when I was no older than Lainey I vistited with my entire family and my mom’s sister & family. We visited Ed Debevics. I being a sarcastic child from the jump was fantastically amused, but my younger siblings were quite terrified of the waitstaff. Several years later my entire family attended a Cubs game in the bleachers of Wrigley Field. Middle of the third inning the skies parted and it poured a hard but quick Chicago rain. Ultimately clearing most of the stands. We stuck it out! We danced in the rain and had a blast. The summer I turned 20 I visited with just my dad. We sat at Navy Pier for hours and watched an air show with blue angels. Chicago will always have my heart and you pictures rekindled that flame for me. Thank you! Happy Travels!

  70. Kelle,

    Chances are you’re taking I-94 to and from Chicago and you’re going right past my town Saint Joseph, MI. It’s so beautiful here and it’s right across the lake from Chicago. Sounds like you had a fab time! Sorry I missed you Tuesday at B&N, I love that lainey was signing books too!

    Have a wonderful time in Michigan, the weather here is so perfect for your visit.

  71. Beautiful post, I too love Chicago, it has a great energy! I grew up an hour outside in NW Indiana, so we would regularly jump on the south shore train and it would drop us right on the corner of Randolph and Michigan! Lainey would love Ed Debevic’s, and now you have me craving deep dish;) I have been dreaming of the moment I take my daughter to lunch and American Girl forever…after having 2 boys, I wasn’t sure it would ever happen, but now my baby girl is 15 months and I am so looking forward to that experience…safe travels, and how about a book signing in Indianapolis on the way home=) Heather

  72. Ahhh! I was so excited for the Chicago post :) couldn’t make it to the book signing but if you do stop again, I know a few girls who will be there for sure! Thanks for making me an even prouder Chicagoan :)

  73. Hope Brett doesn’t mind all our jokey comments on IG, laughing at the bum in the car park comments.
    What a day! I can’t believe how much you packed into one day! You’ll never live life wondering if you missed out on anything. I love it.
    I have been so manic at work this week I have been reading blogs, but not commenting or posting on my own even. I miss it. I’m looking forward to the long weekend (God bless the Queen) to catch up. Looking forward to a Chicago encore.

  74. Your typewriter shirt…Modcloth, right? I’ve been lusting after that shirt for months now. 😀 You got some awesome pictures. I want to walk around Chicago and just take pictures all day long. Love the last one with the men on the right walking determindly. 😉 I agree with what you said about love in Chicago. Everyone is so NICE in Chicago. Strangers smile and say hello when they step onto the elevator with you. It’s crazy. NYC, everyone’s mean and nasty. And the street musicians… <3

  75. Awww, you’re so close yet still so far away (i’m in the Twin Cities, MN)
    I tear up and sometimes full on big tears fall when I read your reflections of Brett and watching him fathering. He’s such an inspiration to me (as you are). My husband is a bit “older” than I, me being 31 him being 39. At times he comments on being an “older dad” and having trouble “keeping up” with our young children (ages 1 and 4, and hopefully another in the future). I used to wonder if he could keep up if we had another after he’s 40, but seeing Brett makes it so obvious that he can and that “keeping up” doesn’t have to mean having as much as energy as they do all.the.time. There’s lots of ways to “keep up” and nurture you’re young kids. Tell him thanks!

  76. We just went to Chi-town in late April and loved it! Sadly, we all go the flu (NOT KIDDING) and our time at the Shedd included pukage clean-up…my 2 yr old christened the floor quiet nicely. We did really enjoy Giordano’s though and Navy Pier!

  77. Kelle Hampton, YOU ROCK!

  78. Looks like you are having a blast..Chicago is on my bucket list of places to go and based on your description and pictures of the place, I can’t wait to go!

  79. Love the photos! You should totally frame the pics from Navy Pier, they are gorgeous!

  80. This post was BEAUTIFUL. The love you have for those two girls is so beautiful and sincere. You are seriously an inspiration in so many ways.

  81. I live in Kansas City and have lived in the Midwest my entire life, and have never, ever been to Chicago. Although I have been wanting to go, especially in the last couple of years, never more so than after seeing all of your Instagram pictures! You make Chicago seem just as I have pictured it! :) I love, love, love following you all on this latest journey!

  82. I needed a good dose of unicorn this morning – thanks for that! Enjoy your trip. (And LOVE your red shoes!)

  83. This post made me wonderful! I love Chicago, I got married on the Odyssey boat at Navy Pier (you caught part of it in that picture). I loved taking my boys there when they were Lainey and Nella’s age – they were just as entranced as your girls and my husband had that same look as Brett’s – so proud to be an urban daddy showing off so many things!! :) Yes, take a detour back there on your way much more to see for the girls – Children’s Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, the beach (took my engagement photos there – awesome skyline photo-ops). Enjoy! I want to say that I’m going to make it to your signing tomorrow in Macomb but I don’t know if I can swing over there so hopefully another chance will happen sometime soon!

  84. <> you are making me miss my city that was my home for the past 17 years, well the suburbs were, but I LOVE chicago! especially AMerican Girl! Lanie would LOVE IT there! My girls just love that store!~!!

    p.s. I am the one on IG that asked if you and Lanie & Nella would sign my book if I sent it to you?
    I was wondering if I sent a friend’s if you would do the same? if you would, please send me your address to

    thank you so much!

    tara pakosta

  85. Beautiful photos…I’ve said it before ~ but when you have the camera photographing Lainey ~ the way she looks at you ~ adorable.

    Thx for showing Brett’s back side!! hehe!!

  86. Lainey signing that book is just the BEST! I don’t know why, but I love it. What experiences you are giving your children…..have a great rest of your trip.

  87. Everybody should come to Chicago! It is so fun – especially in the summer and around Christmas time! Looks like you guys tried to do it all! You did NOT wear those darling red shoes around town all day though, girl!! I hope you have as much fun in Michigan now – safe travels!

  88. I love that you had such a great time in Chicago. It’s my chosen city for the last 16 years. What I love is that you fell in love with only a piece of the city – the downtown piece. There are so many other city neighborhoods to explore, each with its own personality, and my guess is you’d find something to love about them, too.

  89. Makes me want to buy a ticket to Chicago right now! :)

  90. My Baby Brother lives in Chicago and you have no idea how excited I am to take my girls there to visit, soon!! I also can’t wait for the day when they will want to go see Uncle Kris & Aunt Miriam on their own. I love Chicago and I am glad it gets to be one of those places me and my girls get to visit often.

  91. I love this post. You completely brightened my day. I love the photo of the bride and groom with random strangers all huddled together. And how great is that one man’s smile?!! Love it.

  92. Thanks for pointing out the unicorns in my very own city!! Living in the suburbs I don’t get to the city often enough, your pics make me want to jump on the next train! So sad I missed your book signing in Skokie but my daughter had a softball game that night–nothing like 6 year olds drawing in the dirt as they “play” the infield! Enjoy your time in MI, and let us know if you do another signing in Chi-town on your way home!!

  93. Those photos are amazing! And I hope you frame the one with you and the girls laying the grass :) It’s pretty awesome.

    And I loveeee that Lainey signed some books, I just love her!

  94. I’m pregnant – so that’s my excuse for (almost) licking the screen when I saw that pizza. :-/

  95. Such a beautiful post! I’ve never thought of Chicago as a destination to take the family, but now I’m putting it on my travel bucket list. PS – I LOVE your red shoes, where did you find those?

  96. This is a wonderful, beautiful post and now I think I’m going to move to Chicago 😉

  97. Love this post because I, too, love Chicago and love, love, love Garrett Popcorn even more. Caramel Cheese Mix – warm! It’s always our first stop so we can have it in the hotel waiting for us each time we come back in to refresh. I’m jealous! Beautiful pics…the water looks so blue. On our last visit it was a bit green ~ dyed that way for St. Patrick’s Day. Such a great town ~ enjoy!

  98. what a beautiful beautiful family! your girls have better style than i do!! :) thanks for sharing! looks like u had a blast!

  99. So glad Chicago delivered for you guys! We had the best weather for your visit up here. :-) This post is making me fall in love with my city all over again. In fact, I’m heading up that way today to babysit my baby nephew, and I’m already getting excited and teary eyed thinking about seeing the skyline.

  100. Guess what? Lainey has just been proclaimed as the Cutest Dressed Girl in the Whole World…by me. So adorable. I wish my daughter was that age again so I could copy Lainey’s style onto her. Cutest in the whole world.

  101. Beautiful, thanks for enjoying the small things in our gorgeous city to help remind me how amazing it truly is! We live in the burbs now and don’t get to enjoy it as much as we’d like. I did vow to take the kids down there more this summer and you’re a big inspiration for that.

  102. Beautiful, thanks for enjoying the small things in our gorgeous city to help remind me how amazing it truly is! We live in the burbs now and don’t get to enjoy it as much as we’d like. I did vow to take the kids down there more this summer and you’re a big inspiration for that.

  103. I love all these photos. Every place you were, I have been. Chicago is by far my favorite place to be. I’m taking a trip there in Chicago and this makes me even more excited!!

  104. I’d so wear Lainey’s outfit right now… the one where she’s wearing a blue cardigan and polka dotted skirt. And I’m 25 years old :)

  105. Your video montages have really inspired me. We just got back from our own summer road trip so I wanted to create one of my own. Since you share your family with me I thought I would share mine with you a little bit.

    I love how it turned out, it gives me the exact warm happy feeling I had while we were on our trip. I have captured those feeling and memories forever now. Thanks for inspiring me. My little boy is 4 today, we have had a wonderful day. I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

  106. You picked such a beautiful week to visit our fair second city!! I loved Chicago on first sight moving here 7 years ago :) Sometime you’ll have to explore the beautiful neighborhoods, eat at local cafes, and visit the “main street” of each neighborhood.

    And by far, what gives Chicago its ultimate charm, is that we are in the Midwest. We’re so nice, of COURSE we don’t mind being thought of as #2, because in our minds we prefer it 100 times over NYC. Yay Chicago!

  107. You are on the road and I am leaving a longer comment than usual. Your moving/still videos are awesome. Grab a starbucks or Mc D’s coffee & avoid that nasty hotel coffee…gotta have a great morning start! On this post, Love ‘the love pic’ with kids hugging and was thinking that must be bruce willis leading the way…next pic, you are making a comment about steve carell, funny! My 7 yr. old daughter walked in and caught Lainey in the farris wheel box. She asked if she was on a train. I said no but a ferris wheel & rolled back to show her, and she said, “well, she is brave for doing that.” (Cute! Kids know kids!) And, then she goes on to say, “You know why you go on that ride? So you can see the world.” I told her she’s right. So many beautiful photos beautiful momma…thanks for sharing!
    Love Y’ALL here in Tejas,
    PS – Cute pic of your hubby’s butt holding daughter’s hand and pushing stroller.

  108. My little Friday afternoon cup runneth over! I grew up outside of the Chi and lived there for 5 years before moving to the burbs when I started having kids. I love so many things about the city and really, really enjoyed this post about your day. I couldn’t make the signing Tuesday, so how about you add another on your way home? :)

  109. Loved this post so much! My fave parts were the love pics, adored them! And also Lainey’s autograph! I so wish you were doing a book signing in our neck of the woods (Ohio).

  110. This makes me homesick! Good thing I’ll be back for a visit in less than a month.

  111. I’m going in October for the first time. You make it look so beautiful, I can’t wait!!!

  112. moved here 13 years ago from nc and while i’m still not over the long cold winters, i too love this town. if you head back this way hit the neighborhoods like lincoln park (my hood), wicker park (my old hood) and too many great places to fall in love with! safe travels and thank you for the beautiful pictures of this awesome city!

  113. I agree…NY is great but Chicago is better! I love how kid friendly it is but in a big city way! Looks like a great trip:)

  114. Thanks for the lovely post about my city my 1st love and for bringing back little memories, like midwestern love, (it is so everywhere) and the bldg that has all the different stones from other places…….. enjoy just my two cents, Gino’s East pizza beats Giordono’s hands down!

  115. Aww, my CITY! I’m glad you loved it, and that it loved you back. :)

  116. Oh fun! So glad you had a great trip!!

  117. My mother and I went to Chicago for a mother-daughter weekend when I was a teenager. We loved it and your post brought back many fond memories of that- and all the fun we had the Navy Pier. Glad your family had a great time as well!

  118. That TOTALLY looks like you and Steve. Hilarious! I love Chicago, too, and you’ve managed to capture it just perfectly. :) Happy travels!

  119. I am going to Chicago for the first time in about month. But I will only have like 3 hours there. So I guess I will just have to sprint :)

  120. Chicago is also my favorite city! I was there on Monday! I just finished my bag of Garrett’s today: )

    If you are in Chicago again on your way home you should hit up the Chicago Pizza & Oven Grinder – it’s within walking distance from the zoo. The Pizza Pot Pie will change your life!!!

  121. I grew up in Chicago so your post was like going home again. Thank you! And that picture of Giordanos? So not fair! Any chance you are coming to Texas any time soon? Love your book!

  122. That photo of you lying in the grass with your girls? Breathtaking. Seriously. I don’t have kids yet, but I made a serious [once again] mental note to have a photo just as whimsical taken someday with my littles.

  123. Sigh..this makes me want to go visit again. I am getting ready to unplug from technology (and my phone!) for the next 24 hours and this is a perfectly PERFECT place to end my day. Thank you thank you thank you.

  124. Reading this post and looking at the pics made me feel like I was there too! I love Chicago too. I’ve been just three times, one for a wedding and the other two to see the Oprah show. The last time was last May. My sister and I got to see Chaz Bono on Oprah during her last month of taping. Oprah stayed a bit after the actually taping to talk to us. She was so inspirational, as always. She talked a bit about moving from the city and how she’d miss it so much. After the show, we had all day to explore the wonderful town. It was also Cinco De Mayo so the town was hoping, even though it was the middle of a weekday! It was a wonderful experience and we brought back many fun memories.

    Thanks for sharing your memories too, Kelle.

    Vickie Buchner

  125. Loved this post. My husband and I went to Chicago for a quick kid-less trip a couple of days ago to celebrate my 40th. LOVED IT, LOVED IT, LOVED IT. We are already planning a return trip, with the kids. Can’t wait to go back. And I’m so pissed that the line for Garrett Popcorn was sooooo long and my poor tired feet just couldn’t wait. I have been dreaming about it ever since.

  126. Kelle, you have perfectly captured what I love about this city. I live in the suburbs, but still love going into Chicago every chance I get (which is never enough). My husband and I think we’d like to move someday to somewhere warmer, but then I see pictures like these and realize that I can handle three months of yuck for the absolutely gorgeous weather we had last week. I’ve traveled a lot, all over the world, and STILL think Chicago is one of the most beautiful (and CLEAN!) cities in the world.

    When you come back through, you really should explore some of the other neighborhoods like Lincoln Park. Just strolling around those streets is so much fun. Be sure to stop at Twin Anchors (Sinatra’s favorite when he was in town)–a hole in the wall that serves the most amazing ribs. Someone also mentioned Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder, which I second. So yummy!

    Just thanks for this. It made me so happy.

  127. So many magical things in this post! I am especially in love with Lainey’s signature and hearts in books. So adorable!

  128. Did you go to the American Girl store? I love that store so much! :)

  129. I’m so glad you had some fun in my city! And I happened to have read your post while I’m also watching Ferris Bueller’s day off …very fitting. :) Have a fun and safe trip!

  130. Chicago is my home. Home to my husband and two children and we love it. We love the people, the energy, our neighbors, the architecture, and the old nooks and crannies. On your next stop, you should venture up to Old Town and Lincoln Park Zoo!

  131. I love when people describe the city the same way I see it.

    Love. Chicago.

    Love my love affair with it even more.

    Great post!

    Kate – the Illinois girl from the Pella, Iowa group – so sorry we missed you in Skokie, but so glad you loved “my” city. :)

  132. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! I love Chicago too, and I’m a Texas girl! But it is such a wonderful city – something for everyone! So jealous…now I want to go so bad! Hope you have a fabulous trip, and thanks so much for sharing.

  133. I love your pictures, i love your family and i totally love the way you enjoy the small things!! =)

  134. I have been quietly following your blog for about a year now. I just wanted to let you know how wonderful it is to see strong women like yourself living the life they want to live! I cannot wait for the day I get to take my own sweet baby on a walk through the city. You have made me so excited to be a momma! Congratulations on the new book, if you get a chance, stop by Utah!

  135. We made it to Chicago on our first trip to the US and LOVED it. We were only going because our best friends met there and we kinda wanted to see it for ourselves, but it ended up being one of our favourite spots. Thanks for helping us reminisce with the beautiful photos and enthusiastic post :) Glad you’re having such a great time x

  136. I love this post! Great pictures, and what a sweet family adventure! I think I’m ready to move to Chicago. :)

  137. Wow- exactly a month before your trip to chicago, I was there shopping at water tower and lo and behold, went into labor with my 4th baby. I am so sorry I missed you! I was hoping to make it to your book signing, but that was just not in the universe’s plans. Maybe next time! And tell Lainey how brave she is to ride that ferris wheel. It scared me!

  138. Giordano’s! We live in Southern IL– just a stone’s throw from St. Louis but 5 hours away from Chicago– and my husband once spent $60 to get a Giordano’s pizza shipped to us. It was money well spent.

  139. Kelle,

    You inspire me to be a better mom and see the glass half full. Thank you!!!

  140. I am so glad you are spreading the Chicago love, girl!!!! This is a very special place. Your road trip is sounding like a total success.

  141. Is it too late to schedule another book signing on your return trip to Chicago? Okay, now I’m just being greedy! How do unicorns feel about greed? So glad you are having a great trip…and I am sure it has only gotten better!

  142. Wonderful and lovely and fantastic!
    I LOVE this post!!!! <3
    I had no idea Chicago is so special. It’s on my bucket list now 😀
    Thank you Kelle, you rock so very good!

  143. a successful trip all around. The love was shared and abundant. Even in the heart signature of sweet Lainey ( I may need one of those to put beside my Kelle swoop sticker, giggle) Thank you as always for sharing your happy memory making xo

  144. Wow!!!!! you made me get tears in my eyes on all the great memories that you are making with your beautiful family. Chicago is so great and i hope I will be able to enjoy it with my family one day. and now you are headed to my hometown of MI. we will be heading there in a couple of weeks and we are so excited.

  145. Are you coming to Seattle, WA by chance? If you are I’m totally there! I think we would be best friends. And sorry if that sounds stalkerish…lol

  146. For eight summers I have made a trip to Chicago for Pampered Chef Conference with my friends, sadly the company isn’t doing it this year :( I love it there too. You have totally made me want to take my kids on a trip there and show them everything. I can almost taste Giordano’s Pizza and Garrett Popcorn!

  147. Please come back for another book signing on your way back home. I was on vacation, and was on vacation from the computer. I’m sorry I missed you guys :(

  148. try Indianapolis on the swing by … it’s has a world ranked children’s museum and a fabulous zoo … plus, lots of limestone structures that are cool for photos!!!
    And hook into a book signing there so those of us who couldn’t get to IL or MI could catch you! :)

  149. I grew up in St. Louis, and NYC is my one true love, but for the past 5 years I’ve called Chicago home. Thank you for a beautiful post showing the rest of the world just how lovely our city is!

  150. kelle,

    so, i’ve been reading your blog for quite a while now, and have been moved by your words so many times, but this is the one that compelled me to post… because you captured everything i love about chicago–the best city in the world, in my opinion!

    i was lucky enough to marry a boy from the suburbs, and now i live about 45 minutes away from my favorite place. in fact, i so wanted to come to your book signing, but i was at work up the way from skokie in glenview and couldn’t swing it. sigh. anyway, it looks like you guys had an amazing time while you were in town! hooray!

    all this to say, thank you for your beautiful words and images. your blog is a serious source of inspiration for me, and your family is gorgeous. thanks for sharing your love and life with us… have a wonderful day!


  151. I work downtown every day and I tend to forget all the wonder that is Chicago. Thank you for opening my eyes again. Defenitely time to start taking my lunch breaks outside of the office walls. Gorgeous pictures as always!

  152. You are all such a groovy, fashionable bunch! Love the knit cap :)

  153. I lived 1/2 hour away from Chicago for two years before moving back to Michigan. A few weeks ago I returned to spend a weekend with a dear friend and attend a performance by more dear friends. I cried when I got there, and cried when I had to leave. It feels like home to me.

  154. we love chicago, too and used to live there…..
    and we are true, through and through midwesterners !!

    for the past six years we’ve been in madison and adore this little place of paradise.

    if you decide on your way home to try something new, stop in madison for the day….you won’t be disappointed at our visually loud, yet soft way of living in area surrounded by the most glorious of lakes.

    i’ll even show you around….oh yes i will. plus, my neighbor is related to your neighbor that you refer to as “nana kate”….what a glorious meeting we could all have !!!

  155. Chicago is a good place to be. It’s also pretty close to us! I love your black sandals, btw.

  156. So sad i couldnt make it out to the book signing! You should do an impromptu one on the way back!! And hopefully slip in a trip to American Girl!

  157. booksigning how exciting! I love your pics :)

  158. So, so lovely to read this particular post. I am a born & raised Chicago girl that has moved around a lot. Chicago has my heart and will always be the best city in the world.

    Thank you for sharing your adventure. Looks like you had an amazing time.

    Living here, it’s so easy to take this city for granted. I want my girls to have as much pride as I do for the city they were born in. So we’ve been having lots of Chi City Staycations. Lots of fun to be had!

  159. Oh Kelle — the summer ran away from me and I kept meaning to keep an eye out for when you’d be in Chicago to promote “Bloom” … AND I MISSED IT! I live on the north side of the city and was SO optimistic when you mentioned coming months ago.

    I know your husband is from the area, but I hope you and your family enjoyed your visit!!

    Thank you so much for your beautiful corner of the internet.


  160. Just because NYC is bigger doesn’t make it “the best.” :) Also, you seem to really emphasize the “midwest” aspect of Chicago (almost patronizingly) but you do know that Michigan is the midwest too, right?

  161. Sorry if my comment sounds rude. As a Chicagoan who thinks our city is incredibly underrated, just once I’d like to hear an outsider talk about Chicago without comparing it to NYC, or mentioning NYC at all, for that matter. :)

  162. Jessica says:

    Yay for the Midwest! Chicago is my birth place and hometown. I am blessed to live in this beautiful city everyday and raise my children here. I am glad you love it too and you’re welcome to stop by anytime!

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