Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicago: So Far...

A quick post from a nearly pitch black hotel room while my little guy catches a nap...

Sunday: This was our travelling day. Our flight left at 1:05 but we were to the airport by 11:00. Way too early for normal travels, but our flight time was in the middle of Ben's nap. We wanted to have time to each lunch and let Ben run around and expel some energy before we asked him to be confined for 3 hours. After we boarded, we were lucky enough to have the gentlemen sitting in our row get to move up to the emergency row, giving us the whole row to ourselves. About a half hour or so into the flight, we had Ben take his nap. He threw a small fit (not too bad and not too long) and then fell asleep for nearly the rest of the flight. He woke up right before we started to land.

Once we landed, we set out to find our bag and hail a taxi to the city. Our original plan was to take the train but we had a stroller, a diaper bag and three suitcases (two smaller that we brought on the plane and one larger that we checked), so we thought managing all that with just 4 hands might be too much.

At the hotel we ran into a bit of a snafu as the company hadn't direct billed the room - so the hotel wanted us to put a rather large hold on our credit card (unfortunately, we didn't have the amount they wanted to hold free) which resulted in some panic on my part. We got it straightened out for the night (thanks, dad) and the rest taken care of the next day.

Dinner at Millers Pub. Fairly fantastic. I had the pastrami rueben and Nick had a meatball sub.

Monday: Nick headed off to the office for training & Ben and I hung out at the hotel. We ventured to CVS for food stuffs and mostly explored the hotel. This was before I found bread so we had lunch at the Lockwood here in the hotel. The hostess adored Ben and kept him entertained for most of lunch. When Nick got in, we headed out to find Millennium Park and dinner. We missed the park (we went the wrong way) and ended up at Bennigan's for dinner. We'd been there before in Florida, but by this time we were hungry and it was getting late.

Tuesday: Nick headed off to the office for training and Ben & I went to Millennium Park. We looked at "the bean" or Cloud Gate as it's officially known, looked at the Crown Fountain, walked over the BP Bridge and back, strolled through Lurie Garden, where Ben tossed in a penny :) and then headed back to the hotel. Ben & I did the pool and played in the room until Nick got back from class. Then we headed out to Lou Malnati's for pizza & back to the hotel for more pool play.

Wednesday: We mostly hung around the hotel this day. We played in the pool, went out side to the bakery on the corner for a snack (blueberry muffin - yum) while the housekeeper cleaned our room and waited for Nick to come back.

Wednesday sort of sucked - all the traveling and everything being different sort of all hit Ben at once and he wasn't in a good mood, which made me be not in a great mood. For dinner we went to Elephant & Castle (really fantastic fish & chips) and then all three of us went to Millennium Park and we let Ben splash around at the Crown Fountain.

Thursday: Ben & I headed out to the Chicago Library and explored the children's floor. Not as much to do as I had hoped - the library at home as a play area in the kids section with toys and such, so I sort of expected something like that at this one. Nope, but they did have a fairly cool dollhouse that Ben really liked looking at (and when he discovered he could press the button to make the lights go on, he liked it even more). After that, we went to Barnes & Noble and I bought him an Elmo book. When Nick got back, we went to the Rainforest Cafe which I thought he would love. And he did. Til the gorillas "came to life" and started thumping their chests. Then he sobbed. Once we calmed him down, there was a "thunderstorm" that made him lose it again. Dinner was fast. :) He did love looking at all the fish in the fish tanks, so a must do for the weekend is the aquarium. After dinner, we met up with my dad, which arrive last night. He's here for the company meeting today and then to do some training for part of next week. Nick & my dad headed out to a bar to meet up with other Boise office guys and Ben & I went back to the hotel for sleeps.

(these guys ruined dinner)

Friday: Ben & I finally found a park with a playground, so we did that this morning. He had a great time chasing the birds, sliding and asking to swing but refusing to sit on the swing (what a goof). Then we came back for lunch and now he's napping. I'm not sure that we'll do anything tonight - the company meeting goes til 5:00 followed by a reception at Soldier Field. Originally we thought that Ben & I could join them for the reception but Nick learned yesterday that it's employees only.

This weekend we're hoping to do Navy Pier and the aquarium. I'm not sure what else we'll have time (or money) to fit in. I love all the different things a big city has to offer, but I'm spoiled by the low (and often times free) price of Boise attractions. The river tour is $35 per person and Ben has to have a ticket, and there are no discounted fares for kids. So that's $105 to do the river tour. Eep.

The hotel is gorgeous. It's huge and old and ornate and so pretty. This means our rooms are also small (older hotel - smaller rooms and we have a fairly basic room) and it's lacking a few amenities. I had anticipated having a fridge and microwave in our room. We do not. This has made storing food a slight challenge - mostly it just means we have a smaller container of milk and I have to buy more often, coupled with frequent trips to the ice machine to keep it cold. I did buy a loaf of bread, some peanut butter & jelly from CVS to help cut back on the amount of meals we eat out (3 meals a day x 12 days x 3 people = way more money than I can afford). There's a market near Nick's office so he stopped and got some fruit.

the view out our window - boring

the view out our window, looking up

For a big city, Chicago seems really clean. There are lovely strips of flowers, the streets and sidewalks don't have a lot of trash (the areas we've seen anyway). There are a lot of bums and panhandlers but that's to be expected. They're also incredibly nice and helpful. They go out of the way to hold the door for me while I'm struggling to get the stroller through. So many people have stopped to chat with Ben (he's LOVING all the attention). I've noticed that nearly every business here has a revolving door - which is cool but not with a stroller. There are a lot of people who smoke here, which is I guess striking for me because both Seattle and Boise are fairly smokeless. Sure, there are smokers, but here it feels like I'm walking in a cloud of smoke every time I go outside (which I know is in contrast to the statement I made earlier about it being clean - ha ha).

Anyway, I just realized my "quick little post" is quite long. I better go add in some pictures & break up some of this text in hopes that you'll read the whole thing. :)

p.s. potty training has halted. Ben refuses to go in the toilet here. Sigh. I hope this doesn't set us back too much when we get home

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