Monday, August 15, 2011

Chicago Weekend - Part 1

This weekend was our big family trip to Chicago.  This is the first time we’ve stayed in a hotel with all 3 kids and it turned out to be a really fun trip overall.  The hotel proved to be a bit of a challenge since it’s not toddler-proof and the kids are not used to sleeping in the same room as us or each other.  Given their ages and the fact that this was totally outside of their routine I would call the overall trip a success!  My biggest advice to others planning on visiting Chicago is buy the CityPass!!!  It was great to get the VIP treatment and be able to skip lines at so many attractions!
We left home as soon as Jeremy got off work on Friday morning around 8:30 AM.  I had packed the car the night before and the kids and I were dressed, fed and ready to leave when he got home.  The car ride was decent, the kids took turns calling out things they saw out the window (horses, barns, corn, etc) and Cate slept for a good portion of the ride.  There was quite a bit of construction on I-94 so Matthew had a lot of trucks and tractors to look at much to his delight.  I brought a few toys, books and activity books for them which kept everybody happy for awhile.  We made one stop in Indiana for lunch and headed into the city. 
When we got to the hotel (after a little bit of arguing over directions) we had to valet the car.  We quickly unloaded everything and put the kids in the triple stroller.  We started heading to the elevator when we experienced the first of Matthew’s epic freak-outs.  He was so upset because he thought someone was taking the car.  He kept crying and in between sobs he would say “they took my car” and "oh no! my car!".  I tried to explain to him that we had to store the car while we were in the city and only the Valets could park it.  Even the Bellman was trying to calm him down.  Once the elevator arrived he was mostly calm and once we got upstairs at the Hyatt Regency there were lots of things to look at and he seemed to have forgotten about the man that “stole” our van. 

The kids "claimed" these beds...

Watching the firemen across the street from the hotel

The Hyatt was a really nice place to stay, it was very centrally located, extremely clean and the staff was really accommodating.  We will definitely stay here again.  Luckily our room was ready early so we inspected the room (the kids loved it!), dropped off our stuff and headed out to Navy Pier.  As we started out walking, Jeremy made the comment that maybe people wouldn’t pay much attention to our triple stroller since people in the city have already seen everything.  Boy was he wrong!  Everywhere we went people pointed at the stroller, commented on it, asked questions, etc.  I really like our stroller but I look forward to the day when we will attract a little less attention when we go out in public.   
Navy Pier was a lot of fun!  The tall ships were in town this weekend so we bought tickets to tour them.  The girls fell asleep so Jeremy and I took turns taking Matthew on board the two ships.  He just loved checking out all the things on the ships and I was glad he was having a good time!  Claire and Cate both took a very much needed nice long nap.  When they got up we ate the snack I had packed and explored some more of Navy Pier.   
Hamming it up at Navy Pier while my sisters take a nap!"

Look!  I'm on a boat!

There was a Thomas the Train ride that I thought the twins would really enjoy so I bought them each a ticket.  This was where we experienced epic freak-out number 2 from Matthew.  Matthew & Claire boarded the mini-train and loved steering the steering wheels and ringing the bell.  Matthew was in seventh heaven!  I got some good pictures, the kids enjoyed the ride and then the train stopped.  Disaster! Matthew decided he wasn’t ready to get off.  They weren’t letting parents inside the ride, the kids were just supposed to exit through the gate when the ride was done (Jeremy was waiting by the gate and I was standing with Cate & the stroller).  The guy running the ride kept trying to catch Matthew who kept dodging him and trying to get back on the train.  I was pretty embarrassed and all the other people standing around were laughing while the poor train employee tried to catch my kid.  He finally caught him and practically threw him over the fence at me.  I tried to calm Matthew down but he was just so upset that he couldn’t stay on the train.  I felt bad because he was probably tired (no nap) and trains are his favorite.  He cooled off in the stroller while I tried to distract him with whatever else I could think of. 

We walked around a bit more and decided to take the kids into the Chicago Children’s Museum.  I was a little on the fence with this activity since we have a great Children’s Museum right near home in Ann Arbor, but in the end I’m glad we went.  The kids loved the museum and all the activities. 

                                  Look!  We're sliding down the fire pole like Daddy!                                                   

Even Cate got to try to spray the fire hose

                                          Playing in the room of forts at the Childrens' Museum
                      Claire's favorite exhibit was the animal habitat, she liked crawling in all the cubby holes.

This has to be my favorite picture from the trip, they're playing so nice together!
"Yes, I'm canoeing with an artichoke.  Don't judge."

Impromtu version of wheels on the bus, complete with dancing.
Driving the bus.

Matthew's favorite exhibit was the car, he got to change a tire and pump gas!

We stayed until the museum closed around 5PM and then ate dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Company.  I was hoping to eat somewhere less touristy, but it fit our criteria: close by, noisy so we blend in, didn’t have to wait for a table and we could eat outside.  Perfect.  The food was good and the kids enjoyed that their dinner came in a little boat. 

After dinner we decided to walk to the John Hancock Building to check out the observatory.  Of course Matthew fell asleep on the way and took a super late nap (disaster for trying to get him to go to sleep later!).  We had a little trouble finding the observatory.  We asked a lady that was working the elevators how to get to the observatory.  She told us to take the escalator downstairs and you’ll find the entrance.  I just looked at her and asked her how we would get down and escalator with a stroller (she could see we were pushing a stroller).  She said she didn’t know and she didn’t really work there.  Oh brother.  So we finally found the elevators and made our way to the observatory entrance.  Cate and Claire enjoyed walking around with us and looking out the windows. 

Claire and Cate enjoying the view.


On the way back to the hotel we stopped to take a quick picture in front of this old Chicago Fire Station.
We got to see and do a lot on our first day and everyone had a good time.  Once we got back to the hotel the kids had a quick bath and we put pajamas on.  They had some trouble going to sleep, Cate was crying and upset, but everyone was quiet and sleeping by 10PM local time and slept until 7:30AM local time the next morning.  I thought they did pretty well going to bed for being completely out of their routine.   

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