We live on the north side of Chicago, a city we love for its nearly unlimited opportunities for museums, music, restaurants, and culture. As city dwellers, we absolutely take advantage of all Chicago has to offer, but because we’ve lived here for years, we also have a tight circle of old friends and neighborhood connections.
Our home is a spacious three-bedroom condo that is three blocks from a beach and playground on Lake Michigan. How lucky do we feel to live in a city and also near a beach!
Our family friendly neighborhood has several music and art fairs we go to every year. On Sunday mornings we walk to our farmer’s market for fresh produce, which has also become a lively neighborhood gathering place.
But what truly makes Chicago home is our friends of 20 years (and counting!). We all live nearby so we see each other often. Over the years, we’ve developed a Sunday night dinner tradition –soups and stews in the winter and outdoor barbecues in the summer. This extended family now includes several of our friends’ kids, and there is always room for more. Having laid down these roots, we’ve created a life that gives us the best of all worlds: a big city with a small town feel.
We both grew up with large, raucous, and loving families who taught us the importance of kindness, perseverance, and a good sense of humor. We also come from families who believe it is important to “show up” for each other. When we were kids, we’d see a huge family turnout at our baseball games, band concerts, and theater performances. Our families show up for the tough stuff too, and were thrilled when we adopted our daughter Annabel. They can’t wait to welcome a new baby to our ranks.
Martha is the oldest of four girls. They are a close-knit set of sisters who grew up in Wisconsin. We have four nieces and two nephews who, along with Annabel, bring great kid energy to every family gathering. Martha comes from a family of artists, with aunts and uncles who are painters, writers, jazz musicians, and dancers. Martha’s parents are retired now, and her mom’s creative endeavors include knitting for her grandchildren and making them personalized storybooks.
Neal is the older of two boys. He grew up in Ohio with sixteen aunts and uncles and seventeen cousins who all love to be together, so large family gatherings are frequent and lively. As Neal’s generation has started families, we have exponentially exploded in size! Last summer we all set aside a weekend for a big family reunion. Over sixty people came from across the country to picnic, play games, and celebrate.
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