In true resident wife fashion I road-tripped it to Chicago last week with three kids in tow, sans Paul, to visit my sister and her little boy.
(you too Randy)
The drive was no easy feat but we made it.
In under 8 hours.
Someone please tell me why it takes 1 1/2 hours to have lunch??
Or why a quick stop to feed the baby and get everyone to the potty takes 45 minutes??
It would have been so nice to have an extra set of (adult) hands in the car - and so much faster to have them during our stops - but whatever.
Like I said, we made it.
The kids were soooo excited to see cousin Madden, now 14 months old and walking.
He's a pretty cool guy
Most of the time...
I had to do it Randy : )
We spent the next 5 days playing and we packed in a lot.
a splash park
I think we also rented movies, made a trip to the dollar store, played at a nearby park and walked the trail that day.
And spent way too much money on sodas at the Burger King drive-thru. Don't do it.
We drove into the city and hit up the Lincoln Park Zoo.
Free and very cool.
It also happened to be over a hundred degrees and humid as heck.
We were melting.
The babies were turning into little sweat balls in the Bob and Avery only stopped crying when we dumped bottled water on her.
Luckily, we found a little splash pad area to cool down in.
Avery could not have been happier.
And it was the highlight of the day for Alex.
She was singing, dancing and getting lots of laughs from bystanders who didn't know they were going to get a free show at the splash pad that day.
Alex looked like she'd jumped in a pool by the time she was done, but was happy as can be.
The sea otters were a favorite with all of the kids, although Noah, our nature lover pretty much loved everything. He was in heaven.
Except for when we got out the camera - so he opted to be the photographer.
These lions were roaring at us, and a cheetah pacing his cage had been making strange growling noises.
Zoos kinda freak me out a little, after this incident at the SF Zoo.
Lincoln Park Zoo was really beautiful - and we had a great view of the city on our way out.
And Noah's photography skills make me laugh : )
We were hot and tired after the zoo but we headed over to Navy Pier to take advantage of the free night at the Chicago Children's Museum.
And after fueling up at McDonald's on the pier the kids were ready to go!
The childen's museum was really cool, really huge, and REALLY PACKED.
And air-conditioned, which made me and Avery happy.
Noah loved the climbing stuff.
Alex tried it too,
but mostly she loved doing everything with her cousin Madden.
These 2 were best buddies, so cute.
After the museum we walked the pier some more, checked out the boats, ate ice cream, and got a great view of the city at night.
We started the day with donuts from a local bakery, which doesn't carry beverages, and due to some major traffic jams caused by the train, Tiff thought it would be fun to see if she could run next to the minivan in the heat and see who could get to 7-11 faster : )
(alright, now I'm laughing so hard I can't type, and only Tiff is going to get this)
The point is, we took our donuts and drinks to another park
and did a little nature hike too.
The kids were champs.
Later that day we headed over to the local nature center.
We played, saw some cool animals, and walked through the butterfly garden.
We didn't last too long though because...it was hot.
That night we went out for some famous Chicago deep-dish pizza at Giordano's.
It was delicious.
While we were in the restaurant a major thunderstorm hit, knocking out the power.
Luckily for us, our pizza (which takes 35 minutes to make) had just come out of the oven.
We ate in the dark, and now very hot, restaurant then bolted through the rain to the minivan.
When I tell you what happened it wont seem that bad, but - you weren't there.
Here was the plan:
head out early and stop by the farmers market for some homemade melt-in-your-mouth donuts (right Tiff?), take the express train to Union Station in the city, do the Skydeck at Sears Tower which Noah was suuuupper excited about, eat lunch by the river, hop back on the train and head home.
Here is what actually happened:
It was still a little rainy that morning and although the farmers market was in full swing, homemade donut guy was a no-show. Tiff was devastated : )
But the train ride was a hit.
In the city, Noah was enthralled by the skyscrapers and all the kids loved walking along the river and across the bridge.
Here we are in front of Sears Tower, happy and excited.
But then we walked around the corner and discovered it was closed FOR THE ENTIRE DAY due to high winds.
We were all so disappointed but it about broke my heart to tell Noah.
He tried really hard to keep it together even though you could see he was devastated.
Thinking quickly, Tiff said we could catch a water taxi nearby and ride it over to Michigan Ave to grab lunch, and the kids were excited now about a boat ride.
We walked a couple blocks to catch a water taxi only to find...they were not running
FOR THE ENTIRE DAY due to high water levels in the river.
When I told my kids...they broke down.
So there we are, on a street corner in downtown Chicago, one kid clinging to each of my legs and sobbing into my skirt and a baby in my arms.
I wanted to cry too, but I started laughing instead.
At this point, Tiff thought we were near a bus stop that would take us to Navy Pier. As we checked out the complicated bus schedule/routes a nice street bum offered us his services.
For $1 he got us on the right bus.
But Tiff felt bad and gave him $2.
The kids were excited about the bus ride, which was good because it took us over 40 minutes with all the detours we had to make that day due to Transformers 3 currently being filmed in the middle of downtown Chicago. We had the coolest bus driver ever, and she had Noah come stand at the front of the bus to get a good look at the movie set as we drove by.
It was pretty cool.
We finally made it to Navy Pier
But by now it was blazing hot and sunny and I had no stroller.
We headed to the ferris wheel, and shockingly, it was running!
Which was when my kids decided it looked stupid, slow, and boring - of course.
Noah wanted to do the swings, Alex did too but she was too small.
All she wanted to do was the Carousel, which was not running.
We got to the front of the ticket line but the kids were still crying and we couldn't come to a decision about what kind of tickets to buy.
So I made an executive decision to come back to the rides later and go eat lunch.
McDonald's for the kids again, overpriced Chicago dogs (with mini diet cokes) for me and Tiff, which didn't do much to lift our mood, delicious as they were.
We headed back to the rides - Tiff took Noah to ride the swings while Madden slept in his stroller, and I convinced Alex to ride the ferris wheel with me.
But when I got to the front of the line they told me I needed to buy a $6 ticket for my baby.
I may have freaked out a little bit at this point.
But seriously?? A baby? Who takes up zero space and is totally oblivious to what's going on??
We get out of line to hand off the baby to my sister, but by now the Carousel is running and Alex is begging.
I wait in line several more times (you don't need to know the details) and the kids each got their one ride.
And they did love them.
Next we start walking down the pier to get the fried ice cream Tiff has told the kids about, only to find...you guessed it.
Everything else was open that day, just FYI.
Lots more walking, more tears from the kids, a different kind of ice cream bought and eaten, and we headed back to catch the bus, which had Alex cheering.
Between the bus and the train it took us over 2 hours to get home, the babies fussing and crying most of the way.
At least Noah and Alex enjoyed it.
Noah's comment was, "Wow, we're doing a lot of transportation today mom."
To sum it up, what should have been a quick and easy morning in the city turned into an 8-hour ordeal with not a lot to show for it.
Although Tiff and I did get some hysterical (half-delirious) laughs from the situation : )
(like the thing I said on the pier, never to be repeated.)
We were totally worn out after that, but we'd promised the kids we'd take them to a river walk area in nearby, downtown Naperville.
The river was flooded, which the kids thought was so cool.
We grabbed Potbelly sandwiches and Red Mango frozen yogurt and ate by the river.
Then we let the kids run wild in a big park with a huge grassy hill.
Noah saw me with the camera and threw himself to the ground,
but I still got him : )
It ended up being a great evening for everyone.
That night, as I tucked the kids into bed I asked what their favorite part of the day was, per tradition:
Alex - the flooded river
Noah - the bus ride
I guess the day wasn't a total loss after all : )
Sunday morning we went to church, spent a lazy afternoon hanging around Tiff's apartment and eating good food, and that evening took a walk around a fun neighborhood with beautiful homes and a pond, where the kids got to watch some old Polish couples catch fish for dinner.
It was nice.
And monday morning, it was time to go.
All in all, a GREAT trip!
Even the sleep deprived babies did great.
Except for when they didn't.
I loved talking with my sister all day, staying up late every night, laughing till we cried, watching movies, and eating treats.
The kids loooved spending time with their cousin Madden.
He is a serious sweetheart, just look at that face.
Speaking of faces, Avery has a new one that had us laughing nonstop.
Thank you Tiff and Randy for feeding us, playing with us, and squeezing all 4 of us into your apartment for almost a week!
Betcha can't wait for us to come back : )
p.s. The ride home is always so much harder than the ride there...
but as we got closer to home our moods lifted.
And when we pulled up to our house and saw dad waving from the front window we all let out a big cheer! We missed Paul and wish he could have come with us - but the kids were glad to have someone here to take good care of Oshi, the thing they missed second most (Dad being first, their beds being third).