August's Birthday in July

4:09 PM

August turned 9 on a glorious summer day on July 17th. It was a Monday, so Kyle took off work and we celebrated our Family Birthday way: A day devoted to the whims of August.
His whim was to hit up the climbing wall at Maggie Daly Park downtown. The kids' Summer Camp was supposed to have gone there as a field trip, and they did....but there was an oversight involving parental waivers which were their camp turned the many play areas at Millennium Park into a field trip instead. 

August was pretty disappointed, though, so we went for his birthday.
The above picture, the gorgeous city of Chicago, was taken on the road from the passenger window! 

Here's the birthday boy with the climbing wall behind him.  If you're curious about how one gets to Millennium Park and actually parks, the getting there is easy. From Rogers Park, we hopped on Lakeshore Drive and followed signs. Parking, on the other hand, is a beast anywhere in Chicago. 

There are apps we use - such as SpotHero which finds you the best parking deals near your location and reserves you a spot, as well as a ParkChicago app which allows you to pay for street spots and add time and money as it runs out. There are parking garages hidden around in the underbelly of the city, and they are usually so expensive. As in $27 for 0 to 3 hours. Ouch. We found ourselves in one such spot before realizing how expensive it was. We actually came back out and had the charges reversed, but after cruising in circles downtown checking out the options on SpotHero, we ended up back in the same exact garage, only this time at a rate of $16 for 3 hours. 

It makes sense to actually strategize about your parking before you get downtown, as navigating the parking apps and identifying the best spots is NOT something you can do while driving. I was manning the apps while Kyle drove in circles and the kids kept saying, "Hey, we were just here!"  

I attempted to get a cool skyline shot, but our options were limited. This was the best I could do. 

Although this was August's birthday and making him happy was our main objective, we would have been just mean to exclude Brooklyn and Dorien. In hindsight, Dorien was pretty much money well wasted. He thought it was a grand time to climb up approximately 3 feet and then let go. Maybe it was worth it just to see him wear that hilarious orange hat. I can't even look at him without giggling.

The options for climbing packages are almost overwhelming, and it looks like you have to pay for a 45 minute tutorial before actually climbing, but that's only if you're using ropes and team belaying. For kids, if using auto-belay (the ropes that automatically let you back down), there are time options which include all the gear. So, for $25/kid, we got a half hour of auto-belay plus all the gear. There were two walls - a 30' and 40' wall. Also, the staff was supposed to monitor your time on the wall and tell you when you were through, but no one ever stopped us. We lost track of time and were there well over an hour.  Oops.

Being the totally prepared mom I am, I completely forgot sunscreen for my two blondies, neither of whom were climbing. Thankfully, our loaner stroller had a good canopy, so at least Wilder was blocked from the sun.  Wyeth just found shade. 

Not only did I forget sunscreen, I also neglected water bottles. So we were super prepared. We DID have diapers and wipes, though, so...prepared enough.
Leaving the house with 5 kids, I often feel good just knowing all the kids are with me.

Ok, so I may have exaggerated the extent of Dorien's negative climbing skills. 
It's a good assumption that he was mere seconds away from letting go. He always gave a huge cheeser grin, but I read through the grin that he was scared of going much higher. I get it. He also had no concept of planning his climb - looking for grips and toe-holds or even recognizing that he might have picked a super advanced wall.

August wasn't really scared, but he was "aware" of the height. He really enjoyed climbing though.

Brooklyn (to the right of August) was a little mountain goat. Fearless, fast, relentless. She scrabbled up the walls lickety-split, not even remotely scared. She only slowed down when her forearms and fingers stiffened in exhaustion. Otherwise, this was her THING.

The location of the climbing wall was pretty close to one of Kyle and my favorite eateries in the city - Pastoral. It's fabulous - an artisan wine, cheese and sandwich shop that never fails to deliver.
We strolled over there to get some sandwiches, but along the way saw a little storefront for the Billy Goat Tavern (not the original, under-the-bridge location). We thought maybe some fries from there would top off our yummy sandwiches. So, after getting some fancy food and some not-so-fancy food, we hustled back to our car just a few minutes shy of our 3 hour parking limit and found ourselves a beach spot - Montrose Beach - to picnic. It was perfection. 

We relaxed that afternoon - the littles napped and I made August's requested birthday cake (a Devil's Food Cake) and dinner (broccoli-cheese soup). After we ate, he opened his gifts. New Altra running shoes and a bike helmet from me and Kyle, an Adidas shirt and a whole heap of books from his grandparents. It was a good haul and he was very pleased. 

He's outgrown his Vibram Five Fingers (and apparently they no longer make the children's version), so I branched out into another brand that was still close to being a barefoot shoe. He tested them out a day or so later and loves them. 

Here is his cake! He was very excited about it!

This was my first Devil's Food Cake, and there was a minor issue with the fudge icing - I didn't use HEAVY whipping cream, just regular whipping cream, and it made a difference. It would NOT firm up. I ended up adding a bunch of powdered sugar and turning it into more of a buttercream in order for it to be spreadable. Tasted fine, obviously. I will say that it's not my favorite cake - but then again, I'm not a big "cake" person at all. There are few cakes that I just love. And I discovered, the only good cake is a refrigerated cake. Cold cake is where it's at! 

Thankfully, August liked it very much.
It's funny that he's just now turning 9, because he seems so much older than he really is. I feel like he's been 9 for a long time. He's an old soul, this one. 
I'm so stinkin proud of him. 

You Might Also Like