Chicago, Part 2

3:39 PM

Continuing on with a recap of last week's Chicago trip, I love this picture of August crashed out on our bed. Even though nothing was blooming in Chicago, August had a bizarre allergy attack after our first day of roaming around the town. My gut is that all the exhaust fumes and "city residue" got to him.  His poor eyes were itchy and miserable and he literally succumbed to the histamine raging through his little body. He fell asleep on our bed and slept right through all the ruckus his siblings made. 

Fortunately, we got him some kid allergy meds and by the next day, he was right as rain. They kicked in fast, and he didn't have another moment of trouble. Praise the Lord for that! 

So what does it look like to maneuver through Chicago all by myself with four kids? 
This. Baby strapped to me, Dorien bundled up in his stroller and two older kids as helpers. 

Fortunately, although the weather was cold, it wasn't frigid, so we were warm enough in our layers and hats.  While we were there, the temps in the day were around 35-40.  At night, it got much colder, so we bundled more. But we were not complaining - we are winter people!!!
It was brisk and delicious!

Chicago - here we come! 

Since we roamed around the city during the day, our naps were off (or non-existent), so we were always out late finding dinner or doing more exploring. Thankfully, the kids were awesome troopers. They viewed it as an adventure, which it was! I was a little worried about keeping Wyeth warm, but I bought him a fuzzy North Face beanie (that will fit him until he's Dorien's size...) and zipped him up in my jackets and he was toasty!

Standing outside our hotel ready to go look for something to eat!

I'm sure it's like this with most big city downtowns, but there aren't a lot of young families living downtown. Mostly university students or young professionals - so seeing a family of four kids walking around made people take notice. We got lots of smiles and comments. 

Me and the kids waiting for a light to change!

On Tuesday, when Kyle had to go to work all day, I decided to take the kids to the Field Museum. Last time we were there as a family (Kyle was working, of course), I took the kids to the Shedd Aquarium, the Chicago Art Institute, the Children's Museum and the Lincoln Park Zoo (a fabulous free zoo) - the only things we didn't do were the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry or Adler Planetarium. Since I can really only do museums in small doses, I opted for the Field Museum this time. It was enough of an undertaking. It wore me (and all of us) plumb out.

I learned my lesson from last time, and rather than parking and walking half a mile to the desired location, and paying $25+ dollars, I got a cab. SO much easier. And the kids found it all highly exciting. Nothing like getting dropped off right at the front door!

Museums are great, in theory. Really great. It sounds like so much fun and so good for you. So mind broadening, right? 

But then you have to take into account all that goes into it. Cost of entry (around $60 if you're not an IL resident). And with four little kids, two in diapers and one nursing baby, it gets exhausting. For starters, there were a ton of school groups there on field trips - so TONS of people. 

But it did look exactly like what we'd pictured - pretty much straight out of Night at the Museum. Very beautiful building, great exhibits, etc.

And we were pretty pumped to see Sue, the T-Rex skeleton. 

And what my kids fondly termed the "Stabbing Elephants."

Poke! Poke!

I loved the enthusiasm the kids had for every little thing. That made it worth every penny.
And heck, this all counts towards school, in my book!

What I didn't do was bring snacks or a lunch. I really didn't have anything with which to carry all that, so we tried to eat right before we left. However, as anyone with children knows, kids are ALWAYS and FOREVER hungry. Almost immediately they started whining about being hungry. Well, after just paying to get in, the last thing we were doing was turning around. Tough it out, folks.

August loved Sue. I think we were all waiting for her to spring loose from the exhibit and bound off after a bone, like in the movie.

I liked this guy. Looks like an early version of a pelican to me. For some reason, I get this mental picture of this guy walking around with flip flops on.

Another downside of taking a group of littles into a museum like this is that the exhibits are very long and winding. It's not like you can pop in and out of them. Once you enter one, you better be ready. You're gonna weave around for what seems like miles. It might even BE miles. And as interesting as the stuff may be, if your son decides that he has to potty, you're in a pickle. Instead of lingering over the exhibits and bringing history to life, which is the general idea, you have no choice but to pick up the pace and speed around everything looking for a place to exit. If I ever design a museum, I'm gonna insert little potty areas. 

Poor August. We sped through the South Americas, the Incans, Mayans, Aztecs - all things we'd studied in school and looked really intriguing - slowed down to look at the Native American exhibits (with all the cool bows and arrows) and I slowed down to check out the Alaskan exhibit...I loved the clothes and boots.

I thought it was interesting to learn that Eskimo moms would wear specially designed fur suits with an extra space at the back. They'd strap their babies to their bodies with a belt - skin to skin - and then put on their fur suits over them both. That way they'd both keep warm. 

On our way to the exit, we had to admire the Plains Indian Village.

And a nice lady offered to take a family picture of us. 

My kids loved this big guy.

Not one of Wyeth's better faces
After finally winding our way out of the exhibit, our next challenge was to find a bathroom that could accommodate our little family. I wasn't about to send August in to a huge men's room by himself with as many field trip groups as there were.

Unfortunately, what the Field Museum designated as a "Family Bathroom" was about the size of a closet. They could take some lessons from airport Family Bathrooms. Now those are fantastic. As it was, I had to walk another 2 miles and ride a few elevators to find the "Family Bathroom." Once there, we had to creatively maneuver to fit all of us in the tiny space, and of course, Wyeth decides to do a huge poopie, completely ruining his outfit. I was prepared, though, with a backup. So we all managed to potty in our tiny designated space, change diapers and clothes and I nursed Wyeth all in a space of about 3ft x 4 ft. Hmph.
I'm not sure if there was a wait for our bathroom or not, but we were in there about 30 minutes. Amazing.

I decided to give my back a break and let Wyeth try out the stroller, which meant Dorien was now on the loose. We made it work.  Of course, as we headed back out from the bowels of the museum and back up the elevators to the exhibit area, we realized we had lost one of Wyeth's brand new little shoes. Dern it.

We retraced our steps, but just could not find it. We asked in at a Lost and Found station, but they hadn't seen it and said that they wouldn't know anything until around 4:30 when things were closing up. That was about an hour longer than I intended to stick around. We prayed for the lost shoe and kept on with our touring.

We eventually had no choice but to stop for a snack at the Field Cafe. 

We had a lovely $24 snack of milk and fancy cheeses with fancy crackers. 
I tried not to think about how much money I'd just spent on crackers and cheese, and just chalk it up to adventure!

The last exhibit we walked through was the Animal world.

August was particularly thrilled by the might Rhino!

Where's Brooklyn?

The amazing thing about our Field Museum experience is right before we were going to leave, we asked a museum staffer one last time to check on Wyeth's shoe. She got on her walkie-talkie and queried all the housekeeping staff and other employees. Apparently, someone had seen it and put it up on a bench or something. Our new friend ran out to see if it was still there, but came back to us empty-handed.  By this point, I was just ready to leave. I was so tired. The shoe was just gonna have to be a loss. 

We sadly made our way downstairs (delayed slightly by a poopie diaper from Wyeth and an extremely wet diaper of Dorien's that I changed in a little hidden alcove). Right as we were about to walk out the exit, we heard someone yelling at us to Wait Wait!! We turned around and our museum friend was running toward us, happily waving the missing shoe!!! Praise the Lord! I could have kissed the woman, I was so happy to have that silly shoe back! It was a great end to an exhausting day.

On another day, since it was rainy, we drove to a West Elm and a Land of Nod. 
Two of my favorite stores about a block apart. 
I really love driving in Chicago, and it gave me a more intimate feel of the city and its neighborhoods.  I loved the brownstones mixed with modern row was one of the many things I love about the city.

Land of Nod was just as awesome as I thought it would be. I was able to get some things I'd needed, but had wanted to see before buying. I came home with a pedestal lamp for my nursery and some plastic storage bins for August's growing Lego collection. I also examined a rug I'd been wanting to get for Brooklyn and a little side table. Rather than hauling them back in the car, I decided it was better to order online.

I did find some great curtains that might be cute in the nursery too! August helpfully held them out so I could photograph things.

The whole store was packed with amazing toys and books, and the kids made themselves right at home.

Silly boy.

My kids would be lost without books. I love that about them.

The whole store made me happy. I love everything about Land of Nod!!
On a different day, we drove further north to the neighborhood of Lake View to an Athleta store. I get all my workout clothes from there, and it was awesome to see their stuff hands on and try stuff on. Not to mention their sales rack! They were also great with the kids - giving them coloring sheets and Luna bars.

It was funny because the further I got from downtown, I saw more and more moms with strollers. I stopped at a Starbucks near the Athleta, and I realized I was in line with 4 other moms, each with one child. Almost all of them were under the age of 2. It was obviously a very young family neighborhood. I was definitely the only mom with 4 kids! Who knows, maybe they'll be inspired!

Driving past Wrigley Field!

I discovered my new favorite place to eat. Hannah's Bretzel. It was the most amazing place.
Fresh ingredients, organic, you name it. It also had the best selection of high quality chocolate bars I've ever seen.  We splurged just a teensy bit. 

I got a cheddar sandwich with watercress and mango chutney. To die for!!

August got a smaller sandwich with some type of pretzel bread with turkey and lettuce and apple slices and cheese and mustard. Oh my goodness. It was also fabulous.

Brooklyn got a veggie sandwich, and we all shared.
They gave us almonds as a side. Yum!
Plus, since we went there in the afternoon, we had the place to ourselves. Even better!

August helped hold Wyeth for me while I ate. 

Back at the hotel, one afternoon, August entertained Wyeth for me. He and Brooklyn are really great about wanting to hold and play with Wyeth. Even Dorien is really good with him.

Such precious boys.

While in Chicago, one place we always hit is the Ghirardelli's chocolate shop just off Michigan. For starters, when you walk in, they hand you a chocolate square. Yes, Please!

And scoops of ice cream (giant scoops, I might add) were just what we needed after a long day.
I'll confess that on this particular evening, we had dessert before dinner. You do what you gotta do.

Kyle and I split the most divinely inspired Salted Caramel Chocolate Sundae. And we all shared a ginormous chocolate chip cookie. It was exactly as delicious as you'd think. 

All in all, it was a perfect way to spend a week.
I'd do it again in a heart beat!

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  1. These pictures were so great! What a great mommy you are to do all those things with your kids. I bet the Land of Nod store was a blast. The catalog is always so much fun. By the way, is Dorien hailing a cab in one of those photos? :)