Guest Post: Family Living in Andersonville

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The Girls. (Photo courtesy of Jenna Karvunidis)

Welcome to another installment in my Neighborhood Spotlight Series here on Wee Windy City! Today, fellow ChicagoNow blogger Jenna Karvunidis is here to tell us about raising kids in Andersonville.

In case you are playing catch-up, we've already hit Albany

Park, Avondale,
Bucktown/Wicker

Park, Logan
Square
and Oak Park/River Forest.
I am beyond excited that so many Chicago-area parents have been willing to share the reasons why they love raising kids in their neighborhoods. We are compiling some information here that is actually helpful to other parents trying to navigate their way through the city with kids -- and I think that is pretty cool.

Let me introduce you to today's guest author Jenna Karvunidis. She is one busy girl. Jenna and her husband are raising their daughter in the Andersonville neighborhood. She is also making commercials for Fletcher Jones VW, writing her blog and cooking vegetarian food from scratch. Have a look at why Jenna loves living in Andersonville and then go check out her new blog on ChicagoNow called High Gloss and Sauce.

Half a dozen
matching toy strollers and their marble-eyed, plastic passengers line up
in succession on Olive Avenue. Behind them are the famously small,
tousle-headed residents of the street: The Girls. Of the fourteen young
children who live on this block, twelve are female and every last one of
them loves pink. They make their presence known through sidewalk chalk
art, decorated bikes, giggle fits wafting into open windows and the
unmistakable, undeniable mark of girlhood: Dolls. Everywhere.

In a neighborhood as fitting to singles as it is
marrieds, gays, the elderly, folks with brown skin, bank employees,
stay-at-home-moms, city workers, artists, the Irish, cranky babies and
feminists, it is rare to see a demographic of people so homogeneous as
The Girls. Although their parents checked various boxes on recent census
forms, something in the Andersonville air is creating a distinct breed
of Chicagoan - the very happy child.
Perhaps it's the thoughtful layout of the
playgrounds around every corner (soft flooring and separate baby areas)
or the exceptionally accommodating restaurants giving the high chair set
access to world cuisine. Thank you, Reza's, Andies and Turkish Cuisine,
among many others. Andersonville is an urban parents dream, with green
and progressive initiatives abounding. Even the local book store hosts
story time with responsible candor. "If you MUST read princess books,
here is the section!" boasts a sign above a shelf at Women And Children
First, where, by the way, Chelsea Handler made an appearance two Sundays
ago. Even George's Ice Cream And
Sweets
 has free kids' activities from time to time.
As a matter of fact, the children of
Andersonville/Edgewater have something to do every day of the week. An
especially hidden gem is the Together Program, a play-learn style group
at Immanuel Lutheran Church. For the bargain
price of $2 per class, I almost feel like keeping this news to myself.
It started over 25 years ago in that very spot on Elmdale by a leader
whose permanent, warm smile is the signature dish. Mrs. Michelle Knapp
has fought and won for this neighborhood her entire life. Besides the
flourishing play group, she also was one of the founders of Ruth's List,
a distinctive online tool uniting hundreds of parents in the
neighborhood. Mrs. Knapp was responsible for bringing the Edgewater
library to fruition as well. The latter is, of course, another endless
source for craft times, story hours and special programs.

The people of this community make it shine. We
attend neighborhood meetings and throw legendary block parties. Sure,
there are bigger houses and less confusing school systems to be had in
the suburbs, but the residents of this modern Mayberry on the north end
of Clark are raising families here for the intangibles. Diversity,
progress, community. And of course the ice cream.

Want to write a
guest post about why you love raising kids in your Chicago
neighborhood? Email me and
we can chat about it.

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