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Functional artwork in our hotel room!

Jack had a work convention up in Chicago this week so we decided it would be a fun little trip to go up and join him. He arrived Wednesday and we joined him Thursday afternoon, surviving the drive by snacking and watching a couple of movies along the way. The kids are pretty darn good travelers.


We’d been to The Windy City before, but it was a really quick trip and it was more to visit Jack’s mom who was there for work than to see the city. Though this one was only about 24 hours, too, we were able to see a bit more of the city than last time.


We hit the ground running. Or walking, technically. After willingly giving up an arm and a leg to park at the hotel (rip off!), we explored the hotel room, then went out in search of dinner.


Found it! Having some friends and family who are either Chicago natives or adoring fans, we ate some delicious deep dish pizza to fuel up before a looooong evening stroll.

We walked…
…and walked, all the while, Jack promising that we only had to make it to the Ferris wheel that never seemed to get any closer…
See that Ferris wheel waaaaay in the distance? That’s where we were headed.
…and walked some more…

…until we finally arrived at the Chicago Children’s Museum, which just happened to be having a free night. Made up a bit for having to pay so much for parking.

Princess Claire!

I always find it funny how kids can be so tired of walking but the second there’s a stripped crosswalk or something engaging, like a children’s museum, all those complaints go out the window. We had a jolly good time playing princess…


…climbing up big rope ladders and getting stuck halfway because you’re afraid of heights…props to Evelyn for overcoming her fear while Kate and Claire climbed circles around her.

Henry fulfilled his lifelong dream of driving a Bobcat…
…and Kate had a close brush with a t-rex.
Once I’d made everyone pose with a creepy bench, we decided to go and check out the enormous Ferris wheel that was running in the back. Lucky us, they were running their last round before closing down so we splurged and all climbed aboard.
We were rewarded with a pretty spectacular view of the Chicago night lights. High five to Evelyn and me for not freaking out at the heights.
The last few minutes, we explored a cool greenhouse. I’m seriously considering building one so we can transplant our pineapples and avocados from our aquaponics tank. Then I could get monkeys and parrots and lizards to live in it, right?
The stroll back to the hotel wasn’t quite as far but seeing as we’d already walked about five miles, the last mile was a teensy, tiny bit excruciating. Kind of like the time Jack just had to find it to the end of the unmarked trail in Clifty Falls. Still, we managed. Barely.
Thankfully, one side effect of being exhausted and nearly frozen solid is that everyone falls asleep pretty darn fast. I think there wasn’t a conscious soul among the children within three minutes of turning off the lights.
There weren’t enough chairs at our table, so Jack sat on his own, pondering as he enjoys doing.
The next morning, we enjoyed a yummy breakfast and then decided to head to the pool before seeing what else Chicago had for us.
Claire was not amused.
And, it was closed for renovations. Joy. Luckily, the hotel had made arrangements with another hotel to use their pool, which Jack told us was only a block away. Turns out, it was actually a ten-minute walk. Jack has pretty much no concept of how far stuff is. But, telling the girls we were going to swim pretty much ensured they ran the whole way.
Boiling like lobsters in the hot tub.
We were rewarded with a nice little pool and hot tub all to ourselves. We swam to our hearts’ content, then had to run back, change and check out. The zoo wasn’t far from us and it was free so after (you guessed it) walking to lunch, we went to the zoo where we saw a funny river otter with an affinity for licking the glass, a silly little kestrel who pretended to nibble Henry’s fingers when he held them up, and a black bear who looked like he was trying to master kung fu with a rather large dead branch.
By far, Henry’s favorite part were the monkeys and apes. He kept trying laughing and screeching and babbling on and on about them. Wish we knew what he was saying. Whatever it was, he caught the attention of one of the mother gorillas, who kept eyeballing him, probably wondering if he was also a baby gorilla who’d somehow escaped the exhibit.
Claire enjoyed the big cats…

…and everyone used their last bit of energy to play on a fun, leaf-shaped jungle gym. Then we got in the car…


…and everyone zonked out. Except me, thankfully. We navigated out of the horrendous city traffic and within an hour, were out in the countryside, where we most enjoy it.

Kate really needs to learn how to sleep comfortably in the car…

Overall, it was a super fun couple of days. Sure, there were meltdowns (a few on my part, too), the typical horrible Chicago drivers, a couple of comments about the number of children we have (really? I didn’t notice we had four and I’m pregnant again), cold weather, weary feet, enough walking to induce early labor, too many black coats (it must have screamed that we were tourists for wearing some color), and terribly expensive parking. Still, there were a lot of really nice people who waited for us to take our touristy photos instead of barging through, who held doors and greeted the kids, delicious food and interesting places to visit. It’s always fun to have a quick getaway, in part because it reminds us how much we love being home.

Until next time, Chicago!

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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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