Last fall, Leon and I started talking about doing something extra-special for them this time around. As the time approached, we soon saw that the end of January would be a crazy time on the farm. The chickens and pigs are all going out, the barns are getting cleaned, and a new batch gets put in, all in the space of about 2 weeks. Crazy, crazy.
So we made plans for earlier in January, and actually found a weekend with no Friday night basketball games, or any other conflicts. And we began to plan for Chicago...
My favorite part about big events like this is looking forward to them, so I finally persuaded Leon to tell the kids about our plans a week and a half ahead of time. We were not disappointed with their response.
We took off Friday morning after chores. Yes, we know it's winter and you have to walk everywhere you want to go, but we've done crazier things with our family. (Trust me, St.Louis, in January, when Brooklyn was 4 months, Annika 2, and the boys 5 & 6 was way crazier!)
Our first stop was the Shedd Aquarium. We loved that place! We also really enjoyed the aquatic show with dolphins and beluga whales. We even got to see several adorable penguins.
We finally found our hotel that evening. GPS is great until your road takes you underground and you lose your signal. Then you get to drive around and see lots more city. We finally arrived and parked our van. The wonderful (but expensive!) valet service parked our van somewhere (?) for us. We had a beautiful, 2 room suite that was perfect for our family.
We walked to the Rainforest Cafe for supper that night. It was such a fun place, especially for the girls. There were fake animals all around and the decor looked like a real ....you guessed it! Rainforest!
Of course, you can walk around all day, to and from a restaurant in the cold, but when you get back to your hotel, you.must.swim. Now! The girls and Jamie spent hours in the pool while Logan watched football.
After a bath, hunger strikes, and so we eat our leftovers in bed....
The next day we went to the Museum of Science & Industry. Oh my. I cannot say enough good about this place. Aside from having to walk your legs off, it was just fantastic!
Our favorite exhibit was probably the submarine. It was incredibly cool to hear the history behind the real German U-boat that we were standing inside of!
Leon enjoyed the combine with glass sides so you could see the machine doing it's thing.
Here is Brooklyn...she fits perfectly inside the tractor tire.
The girls loved the large replica of an actual castle!
We really enjoyed the weather display, watching how a tornado is formed, as well as a tsunami....
and sometimes we just had to sit and rest and let the cool lights land on our feet.
We got to tour an airplane...
We also went down into a coal mine and enjoyed that tour a lot.
There were trains, and plastic cows to milk, and cool circus stuff, and race cars down through the years, and bikes, and lots of other really cool stuff.
We got back to our hotel that night, rested a bit, then walked to Gino's East, to experience authentic Chicago-style pizza! We were all very hungry, and we waited a very long time for our food.
I love the city lights.
Sunday morning, we headed for the Willis Tower. The lines were pretty long, but we all decided it was worth it! 103 stories high....wow! You felt like you were on top of the world.
They had glass sky decks you could stand on....that was pretty stretching for me and one of my offspring. We took a quick family picture in the midst of the crowds to prove that we faced our fears and actually stood on the glass.
Some of the kids really seemed to enjoy themselves up there on the sky deck. Hmm...
By this time, it was bitterly cold!!! We only walked 2 blocks to the tower but it was almost too much! We rushed into a McDonald's for a quick bite and to warm up. We encountered a homeless man, were able to help him out a little, and pray with him. That was special. It was also pretty eye-opening to the children to see a homeless man sitting outside in the cold!! We bought a hot chocolate for him. City life is just so different from where we live.
by this time, the weather wasn't really conducive to tour the city, so we headed for home. We all decided we'd come back when it's warm, and walk along beautiful Lake Michigan, the Navy Pier, and do lots more window shopping.
It was such a fun weekend....but it's always so good to come home.
Home- where it smells like pigs and chickens, the dog and cats pile on the front porch, you can see fields for miles, and sunsets and wide open skies....there's just no place like home!