Sunday, January 3, 2010

Chicago in December, Yes We Did

My collection of random thoughts about our Christmas Chicago trip.

I know I said I wouldn't do it, but I figured it was better this year than next year when I would have to buy four seats instead of three. The plane ride there wasn't so bad considering Stewart was seated in a different row. Don't ask. R slept most of the way so that was a lucky break. Unfortunately he fell asleep before I could put him in the Ergo so I couldn't relax my arms for fear of him waking up.

We got there on Christmas day before the crazy terrorist stuff happened. I didn't even know about it until the next day because I didn't watch the news that day. It was only gradually over the next couple of days that I realized how narrowly we missed the heightened security measures and the air of nervousness that travelers must have experienced later that day. Whenever I go to visit my parents I feel like I'm visiting a different time/space continuum. It was only on December 17, 2009 that my parents finally got cable after having been in this country since 1982. That must be some sort of record, right? In the past when I visited them, I had no idea what was going on in the world other than the snippets they would convey to me from the Korean newspaper. This time at least I had the option of keeping up with the world.

My sister J had taken off the week so Stewart, the boys, J and I went downtown to spend the night. We had lunch with my good friend Ariel at the Signature Restaurant on the top of the John Hancock building. This is a tip, if you want to go see the view from the John Hancock building, just have a meal there because then at least you will get a meal as well as the view. Tickets alone to the top cost $15 for general admission. The buffet lunch wasn't fine dining (we all agreed the bread was the best part; H refusing to eat anything other than 3 rolls), but it was a fantastic deal when you figure we would have had to eat lunch anyway.

I had all these good intentions to go to ice skating and walking down Michigan Avenue but realized that we would not survive outdoor activity. We did walk a little bit down Michigan Avenue to catch the free shuttle trolley to Navy Pier. We saw this very strange children's show that was a combination of juggling and bobblehead theatre. The juggler, Brad Weston, did a great job but then the bobblehead theatre had everyone scratching their heads. I think it was supposed to be ironic, but it wasn't quite appropriate for a children's show. Case in point--the first short sketch was a mama trying to soothe a crying baby. She tries various things but eventually gets so fed up she kicks the baby off the stage. Then the mama puppet says to the audience something like, children if you are bad, your parents will get even. After that first sketch, half the audience cleared out. We stayed, hoping it would get better or at least make sense, but it didn't.

Afterwards, after much screaming about wanting to go on a train ride (vetoed because the track was literally a twelve foot circle), we forced H to go to the Chicago Children's Museum. Of course, after one second in there he forgot all about the train ride and absolutely loved it. It was probably the best children's museum I've visited, and I don't say that lightly, having been to the children's museums in Manhattan, New Jersey, Indianapolis, and Los Angeles. I think cold climates have better children's museums because they know that their visitors will be there for a long time. We were there just over two hours and there were still so many rooms we didn't get to explore. That's definitely a place to take kids if you are in Chicago and need an indoor play space. The water play area is especially well done.

The rest of our time in the Chicagoland area was spent shopping and eating and sometimes working out on my parents' treadmill. Sadly, we didn't make it to Bob Chinn's or Superdawg. We went out to play in the snow exactly 1x because H decided that was enough. He said, "I don't like snow. I like no snow." So there goes my dream of introducing the boys to the snowy wonderland of my childhood. Maybe next time, I'll take them in July when the sticky humidity makes you yearn for the coldest winter day. After all, no lifetime is complete without a visit to the Taste of Chicago.

The plane ride back was tiring, but at least we were all seated in the same row. Thank God I don't have to travel with R as a lap child ever again. Happy New Year!

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