Saturday, August 1, 2009

Vacation: May I have the definition, please?

*** WARNING: this post could be really long, so pace yourself, you may need a snack break***
***Pictures at the bottom***

Chicago, 2009:
What brought us to the decision to make our way up north to Chicago for our family summer vacation, one might ask? Well, I am not totally sure, but the lure of a little bit cooler weather, an aquarium that housed 8 Beluga whales, and a chance to do something different may be my answer. Did I mention that we drove to Chicago? This may have been our first mistake.

Both Chris and I have been to Chicago a few times and absolutely love the shopping...I mean, the city. We've flown up and taken the El in the past, but never dreamed it would be a big deal to have a car up there. WRONG....First of all, our GPS went haywire as soon as we got into the city, all the buildings and trains flying above our heads were just too much for it to handle.... "Recalculating... Recalculating...." The only time you actually need a damn GPS is when you get into the city, and that's when it loses it's marbles...!!! Luckily we had some written directions also.

Secondly, we've never actually stayed on Michigan Ave before, always a block off in one direction or another, and I've never really seen the beauty in that until now.
Picture this: 1 screaming toddler, 1 screaming baby, 2 suitcases, pack and play, toddler bed rails, bag of toys, bag of food, 25 million lovies, 1 double stroller, 1 single stroller, a quilt, a pillow and a few other various and sundry items, in a car pulled over on the curb a block away from our hotel because this apparently was the closest place to unload and cart all our crap into the hotel. Got it?? Well, here's the kicker... you couldn't leave the car.
Exxxxcccccuuuusssseeee Me? How in the H-E-double hockey sticks are we supposed to do this? So, the sole bellman/front desk guy brought a cart with SUV type wheels down the street to help us. He and I unloaded, I took screaming Harper and followed the bellman, Chris kept screaming Grace and drove off to the garage...another few blocks away. At this point we hadn't even unloaded either stroller.

As we get to the hotel, I notice that there is one turn-style door, and a pretty narrow regular door (you know, the handle on the right, swings open-kind) and when I see the guy having a semi-hard time pulling the cart through the regular door, I start to panic. (double stroller, people...)

I am keeping my calm as we get on the elevator to head up to our room. Get there, everything is fine. A few minutes later, Chris and Grace arrive, Chris is looking like someone just kicked him in the shin and called him stupid. Not happy, people. I'm like, 'Honey, what's the matter?'

'Well, I just hope I parked in the right place, that is the most confusing garage I've ever seen, not to mention it is 26$ to park when you stay more than 2 hours.' Everyone is on the verge of a break down. We decide that food would be the best option: let's reset the blood sugar levels and then go from there.

We've got to go back to the horrible garage to retrieve at least one stroller so we can walk our behinds who-knows-how-many blocks to find something to eat. We make our way back to the car when we notice some signs... "Pressure washing, car may be blocked in for up to 24 hours." Not to mention the fact that all the doors leading to the car were tiny, and there were about 75 stairs, no elevators in sight. Here we go again: How in the H-E-double hockey sticks are we supposed to get the double stroller out of the garage? Frustration mounts. For this excursion, we stick with the single and pray for at least one cooperative child. (side note: if you or anyone you know is in a wheelchair, or can not go up and down stairs easily, STAY FAR AWAY from Chicago.)

I call mom; at this point, we are debating getting in the car and driving the 7 hours back to Nashville. Tired, frustrated, hungry, screaming kids... NOT FUN. We walk to Millennium Park and find some fun activities for kids going on, and Grace starts to warm up to the idea of Chicago. There is a huge, football field-sized tent filled with millions of blocks, the ceiling is decorated with Chinese lanterns, butterflies etc. It was really beautiful. Of course, I had forgotten my camera back in the room.... but we won't talk about it. We saw 'the bean' which Grace had a fit over, so in her mind, the trip was redeemed.

I think we ate something, I can't really remember, and then headed back to the hotel for family nap time. I set up Harper's pack-n-play in our room, so I took her out of the stroller, sound asleep, and laid her in the crib. Grace was all situated on the couch, and was almost asleep. Within minutes little H is screaming bloody murder... then we notice her nose had become completely stopped up with nasty boogers. In a matter of minutes! I tried to settle her to no avail. Chris is dead tired from driving, so I packed Harper up in the stroller and we headed out to walk around Chicago for a few hours so she wouldn't wake up Grace. Keep in mind, I also woke up at 3am that morning after keeping the kids up late so they would sleep in the car, but we won't go there.

Almost 3 hours later I come back to the hotel to find Chris and Grace still asleep. At which point I think I threw something at Chris and told him to figure out what to do with Harper because I needed to rest. About that time, Grace woke up. Sweet. After being in the hotel room for 10 seconds, Harper is screaming at the top of her lungs.

While Harper and I were out, I noticed a street-level parking lot right behind our hotel. Perfect place to move the car... So after paying $26 dollars, we moved out of the bloody garage and into the street-lot. OH, did I mention that we paid $96 dollars for 4 days of parking there... Yes, that's right. Anyways, at this point, if we can get the double stroller out of the car, I don't care how much we have to freaking pay.

Both girls seemed pretty happy in the stroller, so we just walked, and walked, ate some Chicago-style pizza and came back to the hotel in hopes of turning in early.

Holy Harper....! She had other plans. Grace was snuggled into her bed (in a different room that H) and Chris and I can't wait to hit the hay. Harper is asleep when I lay her down... she slept for maybe 1 hour............................ALL NIGHT. The kid is up screaming because she can not breathe, her nose is caked full of God-knows-what, she can't eat, and she is just plain miserable. So. are. we. (Grace slept fine, thankfully)

Needless to say, we got no sleep that night either.
By 2am Monday morning, I am contemplating booking a flight and taking Harper home. I've never seen her so sick.

We decide to go to the aquarium bright and early Monday morning. We gather all our stuff, prop our eyes open with toothpicks, and head out towards the car. Just to make sure we were all-good with the parking attendant, we confirmed that we'd paid for 4 days of parking, and that our space would be here when we returned...because after all, we bought it, right? ...... Apparently NOT in Chicago. He informed us in very broken English that if we drive out of that space, he would re-sell it and could not guarantee that it would be here when we returned. HUH???? WHAT??? Come Again?

To avoid another parking disaster, we piled everything on the BOB and walked our tails 4 miles to and from the aquarium. Aren't you tired just reading this???? I thought so.

From here, the trip started to look up. I just prayed harder than I've ever prayed that I would muster up some kind of energy, that our attitudes would improve and that we would have a good time. For the rest of the trip Chris and Grace snuggled on the pull out couch, leaving me with screaming Harps in the bedroom. At least one of us was getting sleep...

I think Harper was a little bit sick, but we concluded that it must have been something in the hotel room that she was allergic to. When we were outside, she was so much better. The second and third nights, I opened our windows as much as I could, just to get some 'fresh' air circulating, and surprisingly I think it helped, she may have slept 2-3 hours without screaming. I'll take it.

The Lincoln Park Zoo was a let down, thank goodness it was free. Grace still had a good time watching the animals. The Children's Museum was incredible. I think Grace could have stayed in there 20 hours, I wish ours was 1/2 as nice.

We had some good time with my cousin who lives in the city, ate some good food, and I am glad to report that on the way home we were really trying to remember all the things that went wrong because we'd almost forgotten. So, in the end, I am very glad we went. I know that Grace had the time of her life, and we have some good memories of the trip.

This is the first vacation Chris has been on with us in quite a while, I kept telling him that vacations were not relaxing at all with kids. (He didn't believe me.) He learned his lesson. It was definitely one of the most stressful 4 days of my life, but I guess I can say that it was worth it. I almost cried when we pulled into our driveway because I was so happy to be home.

Note to self: NEVER, I mean NEVER again go on vacation without grandparents or a nanny. (Especially in a big city)

The bean

The bean makes everyone happy

Throughout the trip, when we were about to go crazy because of Harper, Grace would say: " I just love my baby, I love her."
Getting ready for the Aquarium

Checking out the Gorillas at the zoo

Playing soccer/volleyball in the park

The coolest water room at the Children's museum

The museum even had things for Harper to explore. They had several baby areas, I was very impressed. She loved it.
Another baby area

Our only family picture, and no, that's not a bird flying out of my head, I am just trying a new hairstyle.


Chelle said...

Oh dear. Cute pictures though, at least, in spite of...glad you are home safely!

Shannon said...

Oh, hon!! What a trip! At least you made some memories! Ha!!

smallawei said...
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