Thursday, August 21, 2014

July Madness {Cousins in the Big City, Shedd Aquarium, & Oak Street Beach}

The second day, we met Tess, Mary, and Elsa at Moody.  We gathered here for a bit and let the kids get out their excitement of seeing each other.  For the littler boys, it had been since Christmas since they had seen their cousins.  It was a sweet reunion to say the least.  
Here we are trying to figure out our plan for the afternoon.  We ended up eating lunch at Portillos (yum!) and walking up Michigan Avenue.  We only had about three hours together and we knew the kids wanted to simply just be together more than they wanted to see a particular attraction.

These goofballs.  As a side note, I hope ONE of them ends up at Moody.  I'd come visit them a lot :)

I mean, Garrett's Popcorn.  So, so yummy.

Nathan next to a Nathan Hale Statue.

The coolest gold door ever.  The architecture in this part of town is the greatest.

And the Wrigley Building behind them is my favorite building in Chicago.  I wish I would have picked a larger aperture for this picture, but oh well.

These kids are looking WAY too big.

And they're so happy when they're together.

 After a tearful parting, we hopped in a cab to Shedd Aquarium.  We could have walked but we were on a little bit of a time crunch.  The aquarium is amazing.  It's what you'd imagine, but better.  The upstairs is filled with fish from all the different regions of the world.  Then the lower level has the bigger animals, like whales and dolphins and sharks.  I didn't take too many pictures because it's so dark in there and I didn't carry a flash.
This was one of their favorite things.  Stingray petting.  They do feel pretty cool.  

We spent lots of time here.

The aquarium was Asher's favorite thing.  It was a highlight.  We spent about 5 hours there, and we could have been there longer.  Five hours was enough, but the place really is magical.  

We sat outside the museum for awhile, not sure what to do next.  And it felt good to get off our feet.  Jopie was content on this bench playing with his little souvenir.  Bless him.  He's so easy and content almost all of the time.

We sat outside long enough that a limo approached us and asked us if we needed a ride anywhere.  He quoted us a price and we said no thanks.  Then we sat there long enough that he offered a much lower price, one equivalent to what we would pay for two cabs to take us back to Moody.  The kids were so thrilled.  And the ride down Lake Shore Drive in the limo was pretty fun.  We decided to eat at Chik Fil A.  I know, kind of lame that we didn't eat somewhere more Chicago, but we were tired and hungry, and the kids were all jumping up and down at the prospect of eating there.  

From there, we parted ways, and my parents took the Jopie and Nathan back to the burbs to head to bed.  We took the older boys to the beach.  They loved it.  I think they really had no idea what to expect… a beach in the city.  They loved it!

This was the place I came that very first night after my parents dropped me off at Moody.  I think it was a bro/sis event.  I was 18 and thought I was grown up.  I grew up a lot those years in Chicago.  I think being back in this city will always remind me of those formidable years in my life.  I learned much about God in my studies and much about people as I worked in the city and walked the streets.  I had big dreams then and I didn't necessarily fill them, but I think what has become of the last 20 years is even greater than I imagined.

These boys are my legacy.  I'm so proud of them and who they are becoming.  

And a few more pictures… 

Day two was a good one too :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

July Madness {Chicago: Sky Deck & Millennium Park}

We had extremely gracious friends who hosted all nine of us in the suburbs.  I mean, really gracious… taking on the Wolfe Pack, plus my parents.  We were blessed by them, big time.  They made us breakfast every morning, gave us great advice on how to best do things in the city, and most of all, it was just good to see them.  Christy and Becky were the first friends I made at Moody.  I love that 20 years later, we still can pick up where left off.  

So the first morning, we decided to take the train into the city.  It was a highlight for the kids.  Sometimes you don't know what they will think is really great.  Graham said the train was one of his favorite parts of the trip.  The train is one of those double decker commuter trains.  It was fun to watch them as they looked out the window and took in the big city for the first time.  

We were on the train for a good 90 minutes, so we did some planning.  Chris bought us all City Passes on his phone (these were GREAT, but I'll talk more about that later).  And we decided to go to the Sky Deck since the train spits you out closest to that location.   

Their first view of Willis Tower (it's hard for me to call it Willis Tower because it was the Sears Tower when I lived there).  If you look close, you can see the Sky Decks.  Perk #1 of the City Pass… you don't have to wait in line!  We got to walk right up to the elevator.

When we first got up to the top, Samuel was afraid to go close to the window.  He looks a little bit unhappy here, don't you think?  I guess you don't know if you're afraid of extreme heights until you get 100 floors up.

Taking it all in.

Nathan, on the other hand, is afraid of nothing.  He was eating up the whole experience.

Hmmm.  Who looks the most scared in this photo?  Actually, Asher looks a bit apprehensive himself.

A little pep talk from Grandma.

My five hovering out over the city.

Again, Nathan was fascinated.  I think he would have laid on the thing for hours watching the happenings of the city.

The boys had to do push-ups, of course.  Because they're boys.

And look who would not let his little brothers out do him? ;)

The rest of the day, we just walked around the city.  We stopped here to run… this plaza is crazy busy on a weekday, but not on a Sunday.  We were the only ones there.

We wandered over to Millennium Park.  It's pretty cool.  There was a little concert going on… it was really loud and the boys had fun dancing around.

I married a pretty handsome guy :)

We crossed the street and walked along Lake Michigan for a mile or two.  Then we discovered Jopie had a blister (somehow he was wearing Crocs instead of his tennis shoes that day) so we took a cab back to the train station.  Six people in the backseat.  The boys loved piling in.

It was a good first day.