With my position at Hyland being temporary, I don't actually have any paid time off. That certainly complicated the idea for any kind of family vacation this summer, but Nathan and I agreed that a family trip was something that we needed.
Therefore, we managed to squeeze in a three day weekend to head 6 hours west to Chicago to stay with cousins and check out the city!
There is so much more I would like to do on a trip back, especially if it were a trip without littles, but here's what we managed to do and see (and eat).
We took the train into downtown, which was much less stressful than driving and trying to find parking, and Jace thought it was fantastic. Sitting in the second level of the passenger train, he kept looking out the window and saying "It looks like we're flying mom!"
We took a detour into the Chicago Public Library to let the kids explore, and I probably could have spent half the day just at the library since it's a full 10 stories. My Disney's Belle side was coming out as I swooned over the beautiful architecture.
And then we walked all the way to Navy Pier. It was quite a trek with two littles in tow, but the boys were good sports as we walked through the city and along the lake until we arrived at the Pier.
First thought: whoever put a child friendly fountain at the entrance is a genius. Seriously. Jace was in love with playing in the water, and Carter was just adorable.
Navy Pier was honestly a little bit of a letdown. Apparently since it's been redone they've made it much more like a mall (Auntie Anne's Pretzels, Build a Bear etc.), which wasn't what I was hoping for. But the views of the city still make me believe it was worth the adventure.
After a sleepy train ride back and putting the boys to bed, the grownups decided it would be a great time to finally experience Chicago style deep dish pizza (be still my heart, it was like eating a pizza lasagna) followed by some ice cream.
Sunday morning was Brookfield Zoo, and I don't exaggerate when I say it's the best zoo I think I've ever been to. The idea is to really have it set up so the animals look like they're in their natural habitat, not the cages or small spaces that make me sad with zoos. We were only able to do about 1/3 of the park, but it's at the top of the list to go back to on our next Chicago adventure.
For me, the highlight was the bottle-nosed dolphins. We saw their show, which included a baby dolphin who was far more interested in playing and having fun than obeying commands, and Jace was in absolute awe as they leaped out of the water and splashed the audience.
Overall, it was a fabulous quick family weekend vacation, a good way to reconnect and get away from home and work, and a great time spent with cousins that we don't get to spend much one on one time with!