Our second day in Chicago. The Girl tried to get us up early, but I turned her over to Grandma and went back to bed. So the Boy and I slept until about 7 am. Whoo-hoo! Nothin’ like sleeping in while you’re on vacation, eh? *sarcasm*

We started the day with one of those awesome breakfasts Embassy Suites serves. I opted for the omelet with mushrooms, tomatoes, cheese, and bacon. The kids had a bit of everything. Mom also chose the omelet. Perfect preparation for a day spent walking. And walk we did. The weather was a bit cool and drizzly, but that didn’t stop us.

First we had to find our way up to State Street. Here’s where you find out about the weird Chicago geography. Every body remember your Blues Brothers? Lower Wacker Drive (and Upper) are not just made up places. They truly exist. Some streets run above others. Some streets go under the city. Our hotel is located on what is essentially a lower drive. So first, we walk west, trying to get closer to State street (which runs north-south), and hoping to find a set of stairs with a convenient elevator. Because the kids are in the jogger. But no luck. So instead the Boy has to hop off and walk up the stairs while I haul the stroller up. This is not as big a deal as it may seem. It has nice huge tires. It bounces well. The Girl is strapped in. So up we go.

And I managed to get us within about a block of State street without ever referencing a map or a gps. Take that!

First stop – Old Navy. No, not exactly a cultural mecca. But ours closed up shop over a year ago. There are few other places to pick up decent yet cheap clothes for your kids who change sizes every few months or so. Also, I like the stuff for me too. But I don’t trust them either. Their sizing is always bizarre. I avoid their website because I fear the shipping and return fees. Trying to bear in mind how full the car is, I did practice restraint. Everything fit in one bag that fit in the basket under the stroller. And I didn’t go broke.

So on we walk. Our next stop was to meet with another Aunt and cousin for lunch. We were a bit early however, so we took the time for a few photo ops. First up, a rock solid figure from my childhood. Or perhaps it’s solid bronze

His name is “Stands in an Attitude of Defiance”

In my dreams I have a photo like this from every year of my kids lives.

You can see the Boy is pouting a bit. He loved looking at the Lions, but wanted to play on them, not take photos. So we did a bit of that too. But still no happy face. Little bugger. We’re still early, so let’s move up a block to another Chicago icon. Can you guess?

It’s the Bean! Oh okay, fine. It’s real name is Cloud Gate. But I’d bet you dollars to donuts more people know it as the Bean than Cloud Gate.

Even more importantly, it’s a ton of fun. But soon enough, it was time to meet Aunt Pat and Gina. We met them on the steps of the Art Institute and walked a block farther to the Corner Bakery. Lunch was decent, the conversation wonderful, and the cookies?

Delish.

Almost two hours later Aunt Pat and Gina had to get back. What will we do? Go back to the Art Institute of course! But this time we actually went inside. First stop:

The Marc Chagall America Windows. I remember these windows vividly from my childhood. They used to make quite the statement on the courtyard of the Institute. Recently they were removed, restored, and placed in a new location. It’s nice because there’s an area to sit and contemplate, but they don’t have the same statement factor to me. It’s also easier for 4 year olds to get dangerously close to them. Eep! The Boy even noticed something we never had:

Hello pretty lady.

Stopping to see these windows would have been enough to make the trip in worth it for me. But there are a few other favorites we had to stop and visit. La Grande Jatte, Nighthawks, a few Georgia O’Keefes, American Gothic, and the Knights. Oh and we can’t forget the Paperweights. But the Boy’s favorite exhibit was the Thorne Miniatures.

Seriously, you need to go click on that link, then on the view featured works. 68 highly detailed, itsy bitsy teeny weeny rooms. They are amazing. And I want to be able to jump into some of them for a day or two. Or maybe more. Like the one with the view of the Eiffel Tower. But I’ve been having that wish since I was probably 8 years old and it hasn’t happened yet.

Oh yeah – one other awesome thing about our visit to the Art Institute? The Girl slept through the whole entire thing. Seriously. She made it to the windows, and then fell asleep in their soothing blue glow. She woke up about the time we were ready to walk out the doors.

We walked back up Michigan Avenue, stopping to take some architectural photos. The Tribune Tower. Fun fact – there are pieces included in the construction from a number of important sites from around the world. The Bridgehouse. And some general citylife shots. I was hoping to make it to the Water Tower, but it was late and raining harder. However, we were much disappointed to find our intended destination no longer exists. There used to be a huge 2 or 3 story F.A.O Schwarz on Michigan Avenue. Apparently it’s now a Victoria’s Secret. Um, not exactly the toy store my 4 year old was promised. Thank heaven the Disney store appeared. We added a Red and a Sheriff to the Boy’s Cars collection and a stuffed Thumper for the Girl. I think it took the Boy about 45 minutes to decide what prize he wanted. Toy Story? Spiderman? Cars? Bolt? So many choices…and Mom’s a meany with a budget.

Back to the hotel with hopes for naps. Hopes quickly dashed. A quick swim and then it was time to retrieve the car from the valet and venture out to Greektown. We were meeting more family for dinner. This time Uncle John, Michael, Alice, Carter, Aunt Pat, and Another C met us for dinner at Santorini’s.

Hi Red! (And no, Greek isn’t really my kid’s thing. Plain old pasta to the rescue.)

The Boy and C entertained us with drawings. The adults enjoyed some fabulous foods, tasty wine, and lots of catching up. But soon enough, the day was catching up with us.

Some sooner than others.

And so all too soon we said our goodbyes and headed back to the hotel. Tomorrow, it’s back in the clown car heading north to Milwaukee.

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