Adventures in Chicago

Since Charlie’s birth Cortney and I have been talking about taking Eddie away for an adventure with just us–free of his little brother. Every time we planned something, it fell through due to sickness.  Luckily, we were able to make it happen this year over spring break.

We planned a trip to Chicago.  Eddie knows about Chicago and he knows my best friend and her little family live there. We have a book called Goodnight, Chicago that we have read since he was very small, so he knows a lot of the major attractions that are there. The plan was that Charlie would go to daycare on Friday and get picked up by my mom for the weekend.  We would take Eddie on the road and not tell him where we were taking him.

But I really suck at keeping fun secrets, so I spilled the beans a couple days before the trip.

His reaction did not disappoint.

This was his calmed down excited face.

This was his calmed down excited face.

We talked and talked about it. He asked a million questions.

The last time he stayed in a hotel he was just a year old, so he didn’t remember. He wanted to know if he should bring his entire bed. He wanted to know if Chicago had roads and bathrooms. He wanted to know if we should pack our pans and bowls and forks.

This was going to be fun.

Friday Charlie went to daycare like planned (after I gave him a million hugs and kisses), and the rest of us headed for Chi Town. Eddie was an excellent rider. Cortney loaded up his tablet with a few movies, but Eddie was mostly happy listening to Kidz Bop and asking a million questions.  Plus he only needed to stop to pee twice in the almost three-hour drive.

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Since we couldn’t check into our hotel until 3pm, we drove straight to the Lincoln Park Zoo. Even though he was a good passenger and we all had some snacks on the drive, it was past our lunch time, so some of us had no interest in seeing animals first thing.

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So after taking a quick peek at the pink flamingos, we headed straight for lunch. Again, Eddie did a fantastic job of patiently waiting in line even though I knew he was totally hungry. And when I asked him if he wanted chips or an apple with his ham and cheese sandwich, he chose an apple. He’s a good kid.

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Everyone was much happier after sandwiches were in tummies, so we headed out to see the animals.

Eddie was not as impressed as I thought he would be. He would take a glance and then say, “can we move on?”

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He wasn’t all that impressed with the huge giraffes or hippos or rhinos.  Cortney and I could have stood and watched some of these animals for quite a while, but Eddie was mostly uninterested.  Even the camels who were wiggling their humps couldn’t grab his attention for more than a “cool”.

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The Ape House was one of the only places he really loved to sit and watch. The gorillas were amazing. It was feeding time and they all came so close to the window. There were even a couple tiny baby gorillas. Eddie sat in one of the windows to watch, but jumped a mile when the big daddy gorilla came too close for his liking.

We didn’t get to all the animals in the zoo because Eddie got a splinter and threw a minor fit, so we decided it was time to motor to the hotel. Eddie was excited to see what the hotel would be like anyway.

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After the zoo we were going to meet my bestie and her hubby and baby for dinner, but the baby wasn’t feeling too well, so the Sluiters did dinner on our own. We went to the Weber Grill which was only a block from our hotel. It was the first time we ever took Eddie to a restaurant where the napkins were actual linens.  He was very impressed, and said, “oops, they gave me two forks. I’ll share with you, mom.”

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They had a REALLY nice kid’s menu and Eddie dug right in. He was super impressed with the fruit, broccoli, and tots. He was less impressed with the mac n cheese…probably because it was deliciously homemade and not from a box. I was very pleased with Eddie’s restaurant behavior. He was super polite and did a great job eating up his dinner. He even got a chocolate chip cookie sundae at the end of the meal.

When we got back to the hotel Eddie was crawling up the walls with the desire to get in the pool.  So Cort suited up and the boys swam for a big hour before it was time to get ready for bed.

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Our room was a studio suite, so we had a kitchenette area, a living area with a pull-out couch for Eddie and a separate bedroom/bathroom for us. After that huge day, he tried to tell us at 9pm (which was 10pm our time, a full 2.5 hours after his normal bedtime), that he wasn’t tired. But the yawning started and sleep wasn’t too far after that.

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On Saturday morning, we had breakfast and headed to Shedd Aquarium. Because there is no good public transportation other than a taxi, we decided to drive our own car, park at Soldier Field and walk to the aquarium. The weather was perfect.

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The line was sort of long to get in, but as far as what I expected on a Saturday morning, it wasn’t too bad. The wind was really strong though and the radar showed storms north, so we were happy when we made it inside.

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Eddie was less interested in the aquarium than he was the zoo. I felt sort of bad, but I realized about 20 minutes in that he is more of a hands on DO-ER than a walk around and LOOK-ER. Anytime there were screens to scroll through the fish in a particular tank and look at their food/habitats, he found it and swiped through while Cort and I tried to get a look.

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Again he got pretty crabby and asked to leave a million times so he could swim in the hotel pool rather than walk around an aquarium. We had lunch and things got a bit better. He liked watching the dolphins and seeing the jelly fish and beluga whales and sharks. Ok he was actually sort of scared of the sharks.

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When it was time to leave he chose a tiger shark to take home, and then asked if we could get a beluga whale for Charlie.  It was very sweet. Everywhere we went that was set up for four (mostly in restaurants), he would comment on how the empty seat was for Charlie. I know he missed his brother and felt a little off without him.

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After the aquarium it was only just afternoon, so Eddie begged me to go swimming, and I did. Barely. I really don’t love to swim in hotel pools and so when Cort got back from a frappaccino run for me, he got in the pool with Eddie and I chatted with a nice couple from Indiana who have two little boys as well.

Around 4:30 Eddie said he was ready to be done and maybe get dinner. I asked him what he wanted and he said, “pizza and an apple.”  He can be pretty specific.

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While Eddie munched his apple, Cortney and I decided on some pizza joints to check out. Once Eddie was done and we ventured out, we nixed all our plans for Chicago Pizza since I don’t even like deep dish and the wait is like a million years or something.  Instead, we went to California Pizza Kitchen where Eddie could get a cheese and black olive pizza.

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And Cortney could try a new beer (Brooklyn Local 1)…

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And I could get a nice beverage too.  Eddie again was awesome–even chatting up our waiter–and earned himself yet another sundae.

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After dinner we decided to walk two blocks to a new/used book store Cort spotted from our hotel room. I took Eddie to the children’s books with the intention of buying him one with my saved money. Then I found out something awesome about Cort: if he drinks a REALLY big beer with his dinner, he will treat us ALL TO BOOKS!  So Eddie picked out The Diggingest Dog for himself and Little Gorilla for his brother. Cort found himself a Neil Young book and I got Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

We then walked the block back to our hotel.

Eddie was bummed that it was getting too late for more swimming, but we appeased him by popping some popcorn and watching Animal Planet’s “Too Cute” with him.

At 8pm I read him our chapter in Charlotte’s Web, but he fell asleep before I could finish.

Eddie had a great time on his adventure, though he says if we go again he would like more time in the pool…and maybe have his brother along.

That made me happy, because I missed The Bird like crazy.

But it was a good trip. It was good for us to hear everything Eddie had to say without a toddler stealing our attention. It was fun to make a weekend all about Eddie–we learned a lot about him, and were amazed all over again that less than six years ago it was just the two of us…and just five years ago we were on the verge of parenthood.

At one point I nodded to Eddie scarfing his sundae and smiled at Cort saying, “we made that.”

“Yeah. It’s pretty neat,” he replied.

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