One Last Fling

American Girl Place

We happened to walk by the American Girl Place on our way to Subway. I’d already talked to the girls about how we weren’t going to go on this trip, but that I was saving it for a special one-on-one trip with each of them when they turn 10. They’ve been totally fine with this plan. We walked by, though, and just *had* to stop.

I said we could go in, but only for a few minutes and they were not to ask for anything. We walked in and their eyes became big as saucers – not because of the merchandise, but because of the amount of girls running around the store getting stuff. There were a lot of girls and a lot of shopping bags. Maddie looked at one thing and said, “Wow, this stuff is expensive.” Yes, my dear, I know. They didn’t want to stay. “Let’s get out of here,” they said. I willingly obliged. The window in front was more exciting than the chaos inside. We’ll go back when we can enjoy it – and preferably mid-week during the school year.

This Game’s Almost Over

I had two options for today: Lincoln Park Zoo or the beach. Last night, the girls voted for the beach; this morning, they all voted to just stay in the room and watch cartoons (they are really tired).

I think it was a good decision, as I was a bit overzealous in what I thought we could do this morning before having to check-out by 12:30. As it is, we’re relaxing. We’re going to take another quick walk down the street in a little bit to get them their little Chicago souvenirs, as well as a bag of Subway sandwiches to take on the train (did you know Amtrak sells hotdogs for $3.75 – they think they are major league baseball stadiums or something).

I don’t feel the need to do “that one last Chicago thing”. We’ve experienced it, it has been fun, and I’m pretty sure we will be back at some point in time. But I’m ready to go home and prepare to return to some sense of routine.

I think we all are.

In Which We Figure Out the Bus Thing

Today I woke up bound and determined to do the bus thing here in Chicago. I had a map; I had a hotel concierge; I could do this. I armed Maddie with a list of questions to ask regarding proper bus numbers and pick up locations and sent her down to find it all out for us while we got ready this morning.

She came back with answers. Answers I trusted. I will never do this again. To make a very long story shorter, we were sent to the wrong location to wait for bus #10 to the Museum of Science and Industry. I did not figure this out until 30 minutes passed, and then went to the correct location where we waited another 25 before I almost gave up altogether. This was when the bus arrived. We made it from there without incident.

Seasoned Bus Riders

The museum was a lot of fun and, interestingly enough, the farm exhibit was one of the highlights for us because it was about everything Grandpa Rog does or did (and stuff Craig used to do as well), and the girls were pretty fascinated with it, particularly the pig-birthing portion. They had a real John Deere tractor and a combine set in a “field of corn.” It looked like they were really harvesting corn on the combine. Chloe was totally excited to climb up inside it and push every single button she could find. Maddie was more like, “We can do this anytime we want to for real with Grandpa!” and moved on to the soybean and pig exhibits.

Nursing Piggies

There were many great things at this museum, including the Fairy Castle (a large “dollhouse” with exquisite miniatures), real chicks hatching out of eggs, and the Toy Maker 3000, where for $5 you could buy the privilege of watching a plastic toy top being assembled before your very eyes. We skipped the $5 part and watched other people’s toy tops being assembled before our very eyes. It was really pretty interesting, the whole assembly line production thing. I’m leaving a lot out, but that museum was really fun, too, especially since we were able to get in totally free with our St. Louis Science Center membership.

Fluffy Chicks

The bus ride home was easy. I must have looked like I thought it was, too, because a fellow tourist looked at me after we both sat down on the bus and said, “You look like you know Chicago well. Can I ask you a question?” I started laughing and said she was asking a very scary thing, but that I had a map and I wasn’t afraid to use it.

We got back to the hotel ten minutes before Craig did from his third day of conferencing, and we all headed off to grab some dinner together before taking advantage of the Art Institute of Chicago‘s free night tonight from 5-8. We didn’t mean to, but we actually walked all the way down there (about 1.5 miles), but then took a bus back, since I’m now an “expert” with Chicago public transportation (tongue firmly in cheek). We got off pretty close to our destination, found a cute city playground, and the girls played away.

And this concludes day four of our town mice in the big city adventure. We’re so very tired…and going to bed.

Thursday: Navy Pier

Yesterday we tackled Navy Pier. My plan was to do the Chicago Children’s Museum, which we could get into almost free with our Magic House membership, then eat our packed lunch on the Pier, play around on the beach, eat dinner at Joe’s Be-Bop Cafe (chosen for its live jazz), followed by a river boat tour of Chicago.

What actually happened, though, was this: we went to the museum, along with the entire day-camp population of Chicago (which, if you were wondering, is a LOT). It was so crowded in there we couldn’t move. I finally asked if they were always this crowded and if we could leave and come back. We were told that field trips come a lot, but that the afternoon tends to be better, so we took our chances and left. We walked toward the Ferris Wheel where we just took pictures standing next to it and not riding it, then had our lunch.

We did the boat tour next, followed by three pretty non-crowded hours at the children’s museum, where the girls had a ton of fun once they were able to walk in it. When their Free Family Night on Thursdays began at 5 and the place filled up to the brim again by 5:30, we headed down for dinner. I talked the girls into skipping the play time on the beach and we took the free trolley back as far as it would take us.

Here are the girls, touristing in front of the Ferris wheel:

Ferris Wheel

And a Chicago River view of the city:

Sears Tower

Of course, no boat trip is complete without a picture of these two first mates:

Aaarrrrgghhh, Matey!

Choosing just one picture to capture the children’s museum was tricky. The museum was fantastic and we could have stayed much longer (than three hours even!). I settled on the shadow shot:

Shadow Girls

Chicago is fun, but the hours we are keeping are not. They translate into some pretty significant relational issues in our family which we all have to compensate for, and we don’t all do a very grace-filled job with that. I’m really hoping my girls remember this trip as something enjoyable and fun, and not one in which we all drove each other totally nuts. The jury is still out on that one.