Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chicago highlights!

Michael had a work conference in Chicago this month and he asked if we would like to join him. I debated for some time if I'd rather be home alone being a single parent...or drive that many hours in the car with little ones and be in a hotel and off routines etc. But after much debate I decided I'd prefer to have someone to help with the kids in the evenings and I was up for the adventure.
We left Sunday morning, with an important first stop for coffee.
We went to church in Tulsa, ate lunch, then tried to see how far we could get without stopping while the kids napped.

We were headed to St. Louis for our stopping place for the night. Just over 8 hours from OKC.

I started the Divergent series on the way...I quickly realized it was going to be a problem that I didn't get any of the other books. I never know how much I really get to read, traveling with small kids and how many books is realistic to bring. Thankfully, Emily let me borrow her kindle account- I downloaded the kindle app and had access to all of the books. I read all three of the books in the series and The fault in our stars in 6 days. I loved getting to read so much!

We finally got to St. Louis and the kids settled into the doing their favorite hotel things...

Monday morning we ate breakfast and then trekked over to see the arch.
And then drove the rest of the way in to chicago. After we settled in our hotel we walked to dinner.

We had wait a while for dinner, but they let you place your order when you checked in, so your pizza was pretty close to ready by time you were seated. Which was great because it was late and our kids were acting so crazy and we were ready to get out of there!

Tuesday morning Michael had some time before the conference started so he drove us to the Lincoln Park zoo and dropped us off. I had done some research before we left of free things to do in Chicago with toddlers and found lots of things. Their zoo is totally free which was awesome.

We ate lunch at a little cafe at the zoo and while we were eating some people were setting up for an improve story time. We stayed and we were so glad we did. They asked the kids to name an animal and a city- which ended up being a Rhino and New York City- and then they created this whole show about a Rhino in NYC along with improv music on a piano. They had different props and sang. It was so fun and Isabella really loved it.

She loved this little train at the zoo! The zoo was too far to walk to get back to the hotel, so we had to catch a bus. We ended up running to get on it- with two small kids, a stroller, and a bag I was pretty happy when we made it back to the hotel!
The weather was perfect for being outside a lot- in the 70's. Tuesday was the warmest day of the time we were there so that evening when Michael was off we went to the beach. 

It was so strange to look out and see water as far as you could see and look the other way and see a big city.

Benjamin ingested a lot of sand.

Wednesday morning we walked to Millennium park. We checked out the bean and a free story time/play time. There was a bad meltdown while we were there and I wished for a few minutes that we would have stayed home, as we were a far walk from getting back to the hotel. But those kinds of things can happen at home too, and overall I was glad we went on the trip and were able all be together.

After much needed naps we walked to the ghiradelli shop for a treat, then back to a playground we had seen on our walk. The kids played for a long time and I talked to a really nice local mom. The playground was completely fenced in with locks on the gates. I asked the mom why that was and she said so kids don't run out into the busy streets and so its not as easy for someone to take a kid.

Michael had a dinner with his consultants that night so we went out to dinner alone and then played in the hotel til bedtime. Not sure what makes empty cabinets so fun, but Benny loved playing in them.

Thursday we played in the hotel, went to a park to play, then met Michael for lunch. Then when he was off work we went to dinner and to Navy Pier. The children's museum there is free on Thursday nights and is really well done.

Our room had a ledge by the window and every time we came back to the room, Isabella would stand on it and say- Do you want to come see the view? We could see all of the downtown buildings, lights of the city, gardens on the roofs around us, rooftop tennis courts, and all kinds of things. She loved looking out.

Friday morning we headed for home. We made it to Joplin, MO and checked in our hotel and went swimming. Then Saturday we just had a little over three hours to get home. We stopped off at the Whale of Catoosa on the way home.

The kids did so great on the long car rides. And while we did not do all of the things Chicago has to offer I thought we did well for traveling with a one year old and three year old. I was also reminded of why traveling is important to me. Walking the streets of Chicago Isabella had lots of questions and commentary. "Why are so many people walking here?" "why is that man yelling and not wearing a shirt?" (he was homeless), "Look mom that man has a shopping car!!" (homeless), "why is it so loud here?", "Why are they shaking that cup with money?" (another homeless person), "Chicago is so nice isn't it Mom!", "Why are they playing music on the street?!" And countless other questions I've now forgotten. And while travel is not easy with little ones, I think its important because you see the world outside of your own little space and see that there are many different ways of living. I'm sure we have driven past countless homeless people in our car but I'm not sure how many she has noticed. She noticed a lot more being out walking and it afforded us the opportunity for conversation about people's needs and what we can do to help people.

Michael is working on a video from the trip I will post when its finished!

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