Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Chicago Instagrams

Last Tuesday, we boarded a train bound for Chicago in order to attend the wedding of Brian's cousin.  We traveled with Brian's parents and his sister, brother-in-law and niece.
I wasn't looking forward to traveling with a two-year old and eight-month old, but the LORD was gracious, and we all had a wonderful time.

When we arrived at the train station in Lacrosse, the attendant gave Aidan his very own hat.  He was thrilled because trains are his favorite (and cows).

The Lacrosse Station was so quaint and not busy at all!
That was quite the contrast to our return trip where we boarded at Union Station.
 Union Station was absolutely gorgeous, but the trains run from the bowels of Union and we decided that very unique and interesting people travel by train...

The five hour ride passed quickly - Aidan spent a lot of time "choo-choo"ing, reading books, and running back & forth between cars.
Grammie & Bop spent a lot of time chasing him & entertaining Sophie.

Chicago is absolutely beautiful, and it was so much fun to be in the windy city.  
I loved the buildings, the river, the crowds (yes - Iowa will do that to you), and the busy-ness of city life.

 The Bean!
Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the flowers, but the City of Chicago has done an incredible job decorating their city.  On each block on Michigan Avenue, there are millions of flowers - so so gorgeous.

Aidan thoroughly enjoyed his taxi & boat rides, and watching the cranes lift things for new buildings & the street sweepers sweep.  Lately, he's been reading so many truck/builder books, and he observed each type of "truck" within an hour of his arrival - so cool!  At the end of Aidan's favorite book is this picture:
He insists each time that "Daddy" is in the middle.

 Three of the five mornings, we ate at a Corner Bakery which is like a glorified Panera (we adore Panera!).  It was delish and super fun to sit outside.  Aidan wanted to catch the pigeons.

My sweet mother-in-law & me.
She did so much to make this vacation a vacation for us; her help with Aidan was unparalleled!  Thanks, Sue (& John)!

It was super sunny and hot (at least 97 degrees each day).
Aidan did an excellent job keeping his sunglasses on.
His hat...not so much.
 Aidan loves his "Bop".
My best shopping partner.  Michigan Ave, here we come!

The wedding on Saturday night was beautiful.
Mark, Brian's cousin, married Carole and we are thrilled she's joining the family.
Mark is a lawyer & Carole works in advertising.
I call it the million-dollar wedding - it was just unreal!
Yay for the newlyweds!
They are now honeymooning in Bora-Bora.
The flowers were spectacular.

The day after the wedding, Sue graciously babysat while Christie & I went shopping with her cousin, Betsy.
We had a blast shopping and then concluded the afternoon with dessert and cappuccino at The Peninsula (where the reception was the night before).
 This was the best "peanut butter cup" I've ever had!
 Dessert date.
Bets & Christie.

While we were shopping, the guys were at a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
 Yes, their seats were this close!

We ate at so many fun restaurants - yes, we even had Chicago-style pizza.
Aidan did a great job sitting in his high-chairs.

On the last night, John & Sue gave us a date-night!
It was wonderful.  We strolled down to Navy Pier and rode the largest Ferris wheel in North America.
We even got a special treat - 15 minutes at the very top!
[Due to mechanical errors.]
Thankfully, we soon were on the ground again and sat to chat over fun drinks at a river-front restaurant.  On our way back to the hotel, we dipped our feet in the water of Lake Michigan! 

We had the most wonderful extended-family vacation - the kids did amazing and the adults were very patient!  Thank you, Lunds, for all the meals, transportation, hotel, etc.  

People have asked me, "Would you take the train again?"  I'm not so sure, but today I am at least laughing about our trip home yesterday.  It was an extremely difficult day: 

After breakfast at the Corner Bakery, we walked nearly 1.5 miles in the 100 degree heat to see the Bean.  By that time, our energy was gone and we were exhausted and sticky.  The guys put us into a cab to Union Station because Christie needed a cool place to nurse.  It was stifling hot in that underground, disgusting place and there were NO tables or seats available, let-alone a place for two strollers and a nursing mom.  So we found a bar on the lowest level, snuck in to the back corner and hung out for what seemed like days.  Aidan was so done-in and naughty; men were yelling "ssshhhh" at us and giving us disgruntled looks.

Meanwhile, the guys (three of them) walk all the way back for the hotel to retrieve our 15 pieces of luggage (do the math = 5 pieces of luggage per guy).  (Keep in mind that Alex got hand-foot-mouth disease on this trip so he was down-for-the-count the whole time.)  The taxi doesn't drop them off at the right door at Union so they have to carry the luggage up two flights of stairs.

By this time, Sue is talking to Brian on the phone asking for "back-up" with the kids.  I was trying not to lose it.

We connect with the guys, have some lunch, and all is well (despite the many bottle-neck ticket lines, luggage checks, loading areas, etc. and the man who is being chased by six police).  The train leaves on time (not 2.5 hours late like in Lacrosse when we left) so we are thrilled.

Sophie screamed a lot on the train and, once while she was taking a short nap, Aidan fell asleep.  Once Sophie began screaming again, Aidan woke up and had a total two-year-old-meltdown.  He was absolutely inconsolable for about 10 minutes.  It was super embarrassing.  I walked to the back of our car to pull myself mentally together when it was all over and everyone on the car was AWAKE.  Before, many of the people had been sleeping.  UGH.  I'm sure there was much rejoicing when they found out our stop was only 45 minutes away.

we found out the train was running 45 minutes behind schedule because of "track" construction.

However, things were going fine again - Aidan was watching a movie and eating; Sophie was content in Grammie's arms.  Only 25 minutes to Lacrosse...

The train comes to a complete stop and loses all power.  No lights. No air. Nothing.  No, the windows don't open.
It begins to get stifling hot.
The attendants come out with water bottles.
People begin to get upset.
One hour passes and then we start moving again albeit slowly.

I smell smoke.
"Ladies & Gentleman, our generator just burned up."

Stopped again.
No lights. No air.  Nothing.

After another hour, the power is back and we're moving faster than ever.  Yay!

Somehow, by God's grace, we arrived to the station at Lacrosse 2.5 hours behind schedule.
We arrived home at 1 am and kissed the ground (kidding).
It was 13 hours since we'd arrived at Union Station.
Aidan did amazing for hardly a nap and completely missing his bedtime.
We are SO GLAD to be home.

But we loved our vacation to "Cago"!  What a fun city and a beautiful bride & groom.
"Buh-bye, Cago, buh-bye."



Sara said...

Sounds like a wonderful trip...until the ride home! Glad you made it with your sanity intact. :)

sarah schmidt said...

Oh, Sam, sounds wonderful!!! Wish we could've seen were SOOOO close to us!! Sorry about the awful ride all sound like troopers! So glad you enjoyed our city! Love to you!