A Week with My Parents

4:44 PM

 During the 3rd week of March, my parents came to stay with us for a week. It was truly a delightful time. I've never had anyone stay with us for that long, and I think that it's a situation where you have to be on wonderful terms with someone to pull off.  Fortunately, we're on wonderful terms with my parents and it was perfect. In fact, they could have stayed longer. Kyle and I loved having them here, as did our kids.  

It's funny because my mom kept telling me to be honest with her about how much time I would be comfortable with...she and I tend to agree with Benjamin Franklin who said, "Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days." My parents appear to be an exception to this.

The weather was still cool, definitely not Arkansas warmth, but they came prepared.
They stayed in Brooklyn's room, as our third floor is still under renovation, and Brooklyn slept in the boys' room, much to their delight! Dorien has decided he doesn't like sleeping alone. 

We were given a restaurant recommendation from a friend, so we tried it out one night. The place is called Gulliver's and it's been around over 40 years which is saying something! In addition to very interesting decor, they had possibly the largest menu I've ever seen and it was all amazing.  As you can see, Wilder loved my Dad, even falling asleep on him, which is pretty epic because Ran-dad is not known for being a baby guy. He prefers his grandchildren older and more interactive. However, Wilder didn't care. He liked him.

 My parents arrived on Saturday and on Sunday evening, we had a couple over for dinner. One of my brother Jeremiah's good friends, Ricky and his wife, Olivia, live in Chicago and my mom wanted us to meet each other. Kyle and I love meeting people and making friends, so it was perfectly fine with us! My mom was so sweet and made the main meal, and we all had a delightful time!

 I had to get creative with seating, so I improvised using stools and a side table. Wyeth and Dorien felt very grown-up with their own place.

I don't know that I've gone into a lot of detail, but the people who live around us are fantastic. We have so many wonderful neighbors. There are tons of kids who happen to have super cool, fun parents that Kyle and I have clicked with. I really wanted to give my parents an opportunity to meet some of our friends and vice versa, so I arranged a game night at our house for some families and their kids. I ordered pizza,  mom and I made desserts, people contributed plates, cups, fruit, etc. and we filled this house with laughter and fun.  

After eating pizza, we played the Spades Game...something my mom and dad have used over the years to get people interacting in ways they might not otherwise do. You play spades, basically, but there are multiple rounds and something interesting happens each round - the trumps change, you play to lose, you switch scores, etc. I find that people drop their guards, start showing their competitive sides and have way more fun than they expect. We had an odd number of people, so I just milled around taking pictures and checking on the kids who played their own games!

Above, my dad explains the rules to Linda, Alina, Kate, Corey and Susan.

Kate (with Grayson) sits beside Kyle who plays across from Andy (Kate's husband). Susan is seated beside Andy on the couch. Kate and Andy live on our street and have three kids who have a standing Sunday play date with my kids. Kate is a Chicago native and her husband is a Massachusetts native, and they have some pretty amazing accents between them. They probably say the same about me and Kyle. I love them. Kate seems to know everyone in this city. She's fantastic! 

Kate's daughter, Keira, played the Squirrel Game with Wyeth. 

Meanwhile, my mom made sure the dining room group was playing correctly.  My dear friend Alina reaches across to her daughter Chloe who is seated beside Alina's husband Jonathan. They are in the Navy and sadly, will be moving to San Diego in a month. I'm not happy about this. They have quickly become people we love dearly.

At the other end of the table, Corey (Susan's husband) faces off with Linda, another neighbor of ours. 
Corey and Susan are fellow believers as well as homeschoolers of their four children and they live around the corner from us. 

It's so bizarre to me to live so close to all your friends. Or rather, have all your neighbors be your friends! We see each other outside all the time as we walk our dogs or go to the park. It's a completely different way of living than I've every experienced. Very communal, in a way.

Moving clockwise, Kyle sits by Andy who is teamed up with Linda on the couch. Corey, my dad and Alina's son, Harper, observe their game. (Harper is Wyeth's best friend).

What I love about games like this and nights like this, is that people become friends who might not even meet otherwise! The common denominator among all the different people was me and Kyle.
We so desire for God to use us in this community as a light shining for His glory, sharing the love of Christ to everyone in our neighborhood. The harvest is ripe, and we pray that God will use us as His workers! 

Another view of the gaming...there were a few other people who came but were unable to stay for the game time. I was still glad my parents had the chance to meet them.
A roomful of kids playing Mexican Train Dominoes....a beautiful sight!

Harper entertains himself with Legos while the big kids play. 

One activity my kids had determined to do with my parents was to fly kites. As you know, Chicago has some epic windy days - perfect for kites. Plus, we happen to have a huge open space just steps away at Touhy Park. Mom and Dad brought some new kites, too, which thrilled the kids.
I went for a run while they got started on a sunny, chilly day.

In the middle of Touhy Park, we let the kites loose! Wyeth watched.
It was my first time to ever fly a kite, if you can believe it. 
I found it to be slightly addicting. 
It was also an activity that attracted other kids, which was pretty cool.

  It was interesting to get the feel for how the kites maneuver in the wind, dipping and soaring. 
We read a book earlier this year as part of our school curriculum called the Kite Fighters, and well, I have a whole new appreciation for the skill required. 

 After some dang chilly days, Friday of that week turned out to be glorious - sunny and warm! Kyle took off work and we took my parents to Navy Pier to ride the new ginormous Ferris Wheel. On the way, though, we were distracted by the HUGE teeter-totters which could easily accommodate 2 adults per side. They were ridiculously fun. There's something magical about truly being child-like in your enjoyment of play. Hearing the gleeful laughter all around just makes me smile remembering it. 

A sleeping Wilder even got to ride! And somehow, he didn't wake up!

Mom and I teamed up across from our men. 
It was so much fun being with them. 
In a way, our moving to Chicago has blessed us with the opportunity to spend time alone with them for the first time ever in our lives. It was truly precious time that I cherished.

My precious Dad. I was so happy to spend time with him, and see him enjoying time with his grandkids. I know it killed them when we moved away, taking 5 of their babies. It was definitely not a move we made lightly...it's been a move 20 years prayed over. It's never easy to do something that you know causes pain to people you love, even when you know it's the right thing for your family. 
For that reason, seeing my children soaking up their presence was like a balm to my heart.

Turns out, the Ferris Wheel ride ended up being something that just Kyle and I did with our kids. The cars were enclosed and meant for a group of 10 or so, but my mom is claustrophobic and there was no way she would have been able to be enclosed in the cars. She and Ran-dad charmed the Navy Pier manager while we made our rounds into the sky.

I'll do a separate post with more pictures from our ride. 
It was fantastic!

Hello from the top!

From Navy Pier, we walked south to Millennium Park and Maggie Daley park. It was one of the first warm days the city had seen this winter and the place was packed. It was actually kinda scary trying to keep an eye on my 4 active little ones amid all the other kids. I definitely wouldn't have attempted it without Kyle and my parents.

It was such a fun place, though! So many different play areas, and man, just the beautiful skyline all around you! It was pretty great.

There were several specific play areas dedicated to the younger set which was much appreciated by Wyeth (and will be by Wilder, one of these days).

The park weaves around and guides you back to Millennium Park and the Bean, etc.
I still can't believe I get to enjoy this architectural eye candy.

Across the road is where the symphony plays during the summer months.

Here we are looking into the Bean! 
From there, we walked about a mile north to where our car was parked. 
In typical Chicago fashion, as we were walking down Michigan Avenue, in a span of 5 minutes, the temperature dropped 40 degrees. I kid you not. We went from sweating in the sun to freezing our buns off.  It's something we have been told about, but you almost can't believe it's possible until you experience it. 

While at our house, my parents also participated in our 3rd floor reno - my mom brought her wallpaper stripper, and she and my dad removed all the wallpaper from the 3rd floor. I was incredibly grateful! And relieved to find that there were no unexpected cracks hiding beneath it. 

All in all, it was a truly wonderful week. I was sad to see them go, but so thankful for our time with them!

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