Sunday, November 5, 2017

A (Long) Weekend in the Windy City

A view of Chicago from the Willis Tower Skydeck 

The minis always have the last Friday in October off from school. This year I wanted to do a weekend getaway before winter and before our big trip in late winter. Once again, I had planned on Ohio, but couldn't convince the other four members of my family to make that trek with me. So, Chicago it was! The minis have been asking to go back ever since our long weekend getaway back in May (read about that here). We had quite a bit on our agenda and did it all!

We stopped at Waveland Cafe for a late breakfast/lunch, ran a few errands, loaded up on Starbucks, and got on the road. The minis did fantastic in the car and absolutely no electronics (dvd's, tablets, or phones) were used for entertainment!

Max does not recommend the Zombie Frappucino.

I've got a word problem for everyone: What do you get when you take one ripped open mayonnaise packet that we have NO IDEA where it came from and one little five year old butt sitting on it? You get a huge mess, that's what. 
Luckily I still keep baby wipes on hand at all times, so clean up wasn't too bad. We're still wondering where a packet of mayo even came from.

We were in Chicago for 15 minutes before we ate our first round of Chicago style pizza. This was from Lou Malnati's and was wonderful! Actually, we didn't eat a bad Chicago style pizza the entire time we were there.

Saturday morning we took our time getting ready and then headed to the Museum of Science and Industry. We stayed with a good friend from high school in Oak Park. Taking the train in and out of the city was easy due to the amazing location of her house. The L was the highlight of the trip. We honestly could have skipped the other $300 entertainments and rode around the L all day!

The blue line to the Metra, south to the Museum. The commuter Metra trains were amazing--comfy seats and two levels! Also a highlight for the minis.

I hadn't been to the Museum of Science and Industry since middle school. I loved seeing everything that had changed and remembering a few of the exhibits I loved the first time around. My favorite exhibit this time was the circus exhibit. Elizabeth loved the fairy tale house, Max loved the submarine, and Harrison loved the ice cream. Admission prices weren't terrible, but beware that a lot of the museum costs extra. We did a basic admission because I didn't care to be there all day (although we were there between three and four hours), but we did miss out on a few exhibits the minis would have liked.

Creating a tsunami. 

I totally let my minis have ice cream for lunch!

The fairy doll house. We were all in awe of this massive doll house.

I laughed at this exhibit the most. All of the city kids were enthralled with the tractors and learning about farming. Being from Iowa, living in a mid-size city with farms right outside of the city limits, my kids are used to this stuff.

"Look mom, I'm gagging myself like I'm being kidnapped." I was really happy no one around us heard this line!

This circus exhibit was my favorite (and the middle mini's as well)! There were so many intricate details in every thing. Several weeks ago we viewed an exhibit at Living History Farms about the history of the circus in Iowa (read about that here). The minis didn't say anything about it while we were at the Museum, but since then they've made several comparisons between the two exhibit and have helped them grasp what the circus was in its heyday.

One of the favorites in the submarine exhibit.

The mural heading into the Metra station near the Museum.

After the Museum of Science and Industry, the five of us went into downtown for a few hours. We played at Millennium Park, ate pizza at Pizano's, went on a carriage ride, stopped for hot chocolate (it was only 38 degrees outside), and stopped in a few stores as we walked along Michigan Avenue.

We had a party pooper at Cloud Gate. He perked up a bit after dinner, but wasn't a fan of the cold one bit!

I'm sure I've shared this story plenty, but years (and years and years) ago when Matt and I made our first trip to the city together, we got in late and starving. We decided to take a walk and find someplace that was open. We came across Pizano's at midnight. We remember it as one of the best meals ever, but I'm fairly certain it was because we were famished at that point! We make a point to eat at Pizano's (at that exact location as well) every time we're in the city. The minis now love it too and requested it as soon as we told them we were going to Chicago.

The minis fondly remember coloring on the table cloth at our Mother's Day meal at Pizano's. This time around Hubs made me picture.

Thank goodness for covered carriages and heavy blankets! We chose to do the city tour, to show the minis streets we hadn't been down yet. So many people were taking pictures of our carriage (and a few even requested pictures with us in them--so odd) as if they were shocked to see one clomping down Rush Street (newsflash for those who don't know Chicago: these carriages run all of the time!). The minis thought this was great and hammed it up big time.

Pumpkin Spice chocolate squares and hot chocolate at Ghirardelli to warm us up!

A stop in the Disney Store had this Little Miss E acting like a princess (she *might* have done a few princess twirls for all to see).

Everyone was exhausted by the end of the trip. The minis took showers and fell into bed. As tired as I was, I somehow made it to 2 a.m. catching up with my friend (who again, graciously allowed us to stay at her house....and the minis didn't seem to scare her away!). We're known for our all hours of the night chats, so 2 a.m. wasn't that shocking.

Sunday morning we were treated to breakfast and she tossed the softball around with the minis while we got ready and loaded up. After we were done terrorizing her house, we went back downtown for one final adventure: the Willis Tower (which I will always call Sears Tower) Skydeck.

Just trying to nab that perfect picture....

We had quite a wait, but this is one of the few big things in Chicago I haven't done and really wanted to. We enjoyed learning the history and all of those little unknown factoids while we waited. Once we got to the top, the minis loved looking down (and out) at city! The wait was totally worth it.

I don't have an issue making little plans. I think big and adjust as needed. I'm pleased to have passed this on to the minis, but hopefully they have some of their dad's straight shooting thinking to balance out the craziness!

"Daddy, will you PLEASE hold me???" she said sweetly. Again, she got her way.

They looked down the entire time we were at the Skydeck. They tried to spot people, see how far they could see, and commented how small the L looked "from waaayyyy up here!"

The 6 hour drive home was pretty quiet thanks to some awesome car naps. We were so exhausted from our fun trip that the minis and I stayed home all day Monday and napped (which we followed up with an epic Beggar's Night).

This rejuvenating weekend getaway was just what I needed to get me through the winter until our first big trip of 2018 comes up. You really can't beat time with family and friends and a city you love. The minis have already been talking about our next trip to Chicago, which will have to include a visit to Navy Pier (another big thing we haven't done with the minis yet).