Sunday, June 26, 2011

Our summer trip--First stop, Chicago

I was so excited when Michael told me that he would be going to a Society for Military History conference in Lisle, Illinois! That is the exact town where I grew up, and I haven't been back in over twenty years. Usually, he goes on these trips by himself and I stay behind with the kids, but I knew it was finally time for us to tag along. I was also excited because it is only a six hour drive from Lisle to northern Iowa, where much of my extended family lives.

First, we headed for Lisle, which is a suburb of Chicago. I lived there from 1981-1989. On the way, since we were going through Indianapolis, I couldn't resist seeing my good friend, Toni King. I knew it would be a quick visit, but luckily she was able to meet us for dinner and we had a nice time. Here is a picture of Nathaniel and Toni's son, Daniel. We have decided that they can be roommates at BYU some day. :-) Amazingly, we made the trip in one day. We left on Wed., June 8 at 6am (Michael and I had woken up at 3am to pack the car and get everything ready) and made it to our hotel by about 10:30pm. One highlight of the trip for the kids--getting a semi driver to honk his horn. They are easily amused!

I couldn't wait to take the kids to Chicago. I knew I wanted to take them to see my favorite museum when I was a kid--the Museum of Science and Industry. Luckily, it was a big hit. Michael was excited to see the U-505 submarine, and we all enjoyed it. Michael and Nathaniel even took a tour inside while the other kids and I went to the farming exhibit. The boys loved getting into a tractor and looking around. The kids' favorite part was the Idea Factory, a super-cool area for kids.

Here is Jonathan at the Idea Factory. They had an area just for little ones.

OK, so we like to watch Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives on Food Network. I've recently stopped watching because I always think, "Well, I'm never going to get to taste it myself, so I don't want to watch Guy Fieri rave about the food." Since we were going to Chicago, though, we did a little research because we knew he had featured a lot of restaurants there. We decided on The Depot. They were famous for their Pot Roast Sandwich (which I was excited to try) and Blue Plate Special. When you watch the show it looks like a normal size restaurant, so we were surprised to see that there was only a counter, four booths, and one table! We got the table, of course. First disappointment--no kid menus! I had finally convinced Emily to order something other than chicken and fries, and she wanted the spaghetti and meatballs. Nope--they were out of meatballs. I wanted to have mashed potatoes with my Pot Roast sandwich. Nope--they didn't have much mashed potatoes and they had to save it for another dish. The sandwich was cold, and only so-so. They were also out of the Blue Plate Special. It was 6:30pm. We ordered adult meals for the kids to share, but it wasn't enough food and we had to order more. Oh, and the bill was over $40 before tip. So our big lesson was that things aren't always as they seem on TV!

Yes, the kids are shivering in this picture. It was 53 degrees and windy (of course)! Who knew I would need to pack a jacket for everyone in June?

On the way back, we stopped in Naperville. I wanted to get the kids (and myself!) a treat to make up for the dinner. Our GPS took us to this Dairy Queen. I was thrilled that it was the exact one I used to go to as a kid! Even the laundromat and Little Ceasars are still next door.

On Friday, Michael had to be at his conference for the day, so I took the kids to a really cool diner in Downers Grove. This experience was much better! I was excited about it because the theme was Thomas the Tank Engine. There is even a train track that runs around the counter and the train brings you your food. How cool is that? It was a hit! Daniel still talks about it.

After lunch, I wanted to go into the city to take Emily to the American Girl store. I told her we weren't going to buy a doll that day, but it was still cool and she got to choose a book. She chose the one about Molly. We had fun at Water Tower Place. As we were leaving, the kids saw a glass elevator and so we just *had* to ride in it. On the way up, we saw a Lego store, so we stopped for Nathaniel.

This is a statue in downtown Chicago. Daniel said, "Look, it's tape!"

After we got back and picked up Michael, we drove around Lisle to see my old house and schools and things. I wanted so badly to see some of my friends, but we just didn't have time. Everything looked just like I remembered, and even better in some cases. As we were driving down my old street, I pointed to a house and said, "I knew the kid who lived there; his name was Rob." We drove around the block, and when we came back, guess who was walking out the front door of his house--Rob! I slowed down and we looked at each other funny and I asked, "Are you Rob?" He said he was and I couldn't believe it. We stopped and chatted for a few minutes. He has five kids also, and he was home visiting his parents. Below is the house we lived in for about four years. I loved it because I had my own room!

On Saturday, Michael went to his conference in the morning while I packed up and loaded the car. Michael was worried about me doing it all by myself, but it worked out fine. We drove to Iowa, and I got to see my good friend from high school, Michelle, in Iowa City, and then my Grandpa Mel in Cedar Rapids.

We made it into St. Ansgar late that night.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mommy's Hair Salon

Last night we had Mommy's Hair Salon--all of the boys and Daddy had a haircut. Don't they look cute?