Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Blown away

[click for photo album]
1. Our loft apartment for the next 5 days, 2. Crown Fountain, 3. Shedd Aquarium, 4. With Dada, 5. Sophie's first bacon!, 6. Mini paleontologists , 7. Beautiful brides, 8. Sophie & Uncle Han :), 9. Beginning of the 4-hour solo drive back to Ann Arbor

And we're back from our Windy City vacation and it was wonderful. We all had a blast of a time and it was beautifully memorable for a whole host of reasons. We have always loved Chicago and even though Sophie's been there two other times (once when she was 8 months old and the other when she was 14 months), this is the first time she will probably remember any of the things we've seen or done.

One of her favorite books has always been Good Night Chicago (that we bought during one of those earlier trips) and ever since we knew we were taking this holiday, Jude and I have been highlighting to Sophie the different things in the book we would be doing with her. We brought the book around with us throughout the trip and whenever we were someplace highlighted in there (like the aquarium, or Millennium Park, or a Cubs game), we'd whip it out and show her the page. I think having a pictorial checklist of sorts was particularly exciting for her :)

Some highlights:
1) Thanks to airbnb.com, we scored a bright, airy, eclectic, and beautiful loft apartment in the city (with internet and parking included) for a fraction of what it would cost to stay in a hotel. The location was unbeatable and we were always just five to ten minutes away from anywhere we wanted to go.

2) Just like the children in her book, Sophie wanted to walk bare feet in the waters of the Crown Fountain at Millennium Park. We did, and she was thrilled.

3) Sophie loves sea creatures. Always has. And there was no way we were going to miss out on the Shedd Aquarium. I cannot describe to you how happy she was all day that day. All she could talk about was the dolphins, and jellyfish, and seahorses she saw, the beluga whales in their huge pools, and the aquatic show that just awed her so completely. You would not have found a happier two-year-old that day.

4) Sophie attended her first baseball game, at a good 'ole traditional ballpark no less! Complete with baseball cap and ballpark hotdog. The Cubs were playing the L.A. Dodgers and although we didn't stay for the whole game (it got too cold), it was definitely quite an experience for Sophie. She even got an official "My First Game" certificate from the folks at Wrigley Field to commemorate the event!

5) Sophie's first taste of bacon (at nana). 'Nuff said- it was an important day :)

6) Another highlight was definitely the dinosaur exhibit at the Chicago Children's Museum. Designed to be a faux excavation site, the children could pretend to be mini paleontologists digging for dinosaur bones. Sophie took the task very seriously and was determined to "dig" up at least the dinosaur's tail before she would leave the exhibit.

7) The main reason we were in Chicago was to celebrate the wedding of our good friends, Libby and Naomi. It was a beautiful ceremony and there was much happy crying all round. Sophie remembers them fondly from when they visited us last year, and so she's been looking forward to the wedding for a long time (mostly because so she could wear her sparkly purple sneakers). They are two of our favorite people in the world and we're just so happy that we could share in their special day.

8) By sheer coincidence, my uncle happened to be in Chicago for a food convention. Sophie and I met up with him for a delicious brunch at sola and it so nice to be able to catch up with family even if it was only for a couple of hours.

9) Jude left for a conference early yesterday morning so I had to drive back to Ann Arbor with Sophie on my own. Let's just say, it was exhausting being engaging, answering questions, telling stories, and singing songs, all the while trying to maintain a 75mph speed limit and keeping a safe distance from the car in front of you... For four hours. Thank god for Sirius satellite radio, the Muppets soundtrack, and a venti Pike Place coffee from Starbucks.

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