I'd be here all day if I tried to talk about the whole trip in detail, much as I'd love to. Feel free to peruse the pictures I've posted (they start here), though, and by all means ask me about it via email or in person if you're interested in more. Plenty of anecdotes to share, but I've been away from work for a week and change and there's a full Inbox that needs sorting, so this is just the briefest of summaries. But with pictures!
Alex and I flew to Chicago on Friday (the 16th). I must say travel worked out really well: since Matt and Penny had driven, they took all our luggage, and I fit all the stuff for Alex and I into a single backpack (filled mostly with Alex's blanket and stuffies.) Matt and Penny picked us up at the airport, and then we waded through Chicago traffic back to Jill's house. Rachael (Matt's sister) and her daughter Celia were visiting, so I finally got to meet my niece!
Friday night, Matt went to the rehearsal for the wedding we were there to attend while I stayed behind at Jill's with the kids. (We were all invited, but Matt and I decided to split up. That way the kids could go to bed at a reasonable hour and be relatively fresh and chipper at the actual wedding, and he could stay out with his friends later. Win-win.) There were some hilarious goofs with the rehearsal and post-dinner socializing -- apply to Matt for details.
Saturday (the 17th) was the wedding. I finally got to meet Matt's old friend Ted and Ted's wife Mindy, who I've been chatting with on Facebook and via e-mail for ages, and their utterly adorable baby Elaine. I also met another old friend of Matt's, Mike, and his wife Kish. And of course I got to see the Pojes again, since we were there for Jason's wedding. Tristan didn't recognize me at all until he spotted the kids.
The plan for Sunday afternoon had been to take the train into Chicago to meet up with Rachael and Rimas and Celia and go see a... giant puppet show... thingy... at Millennium Park. (I don't know how to describe it, but it sounded really cool. I was also looking forward to seeing the iconic Bean. Alas, the kids took long/late naps, and by the time Jill realized we were going to miss the train, it was too late. So we went to the library instead, and the kids got to run around in the kids' area and play. I was disappointed to miss the show (and the Bean) but after the late-evening excitement of the wedding, a slower day is probably just what the kids needed.
On Monday (the 19th), Jill had to go to work, so Matt and I met up with our friend Rachel (not to be confused with his sister Rachael) for lunch -- we hadn't seen her in person since Penny was a little baby, so it was great to get some face-time and hang out!
After that (and the kids' naps) we went to Matt's grandparents for dinner, where Penny was thrilled to play with their dog, Otto.
Tuesday (the 20th), Jill took us into Chicago to see the Field Museum. The kids got to travel by car, by train, by foot, and on bus -- quite the journey! We met up with Rachael and Celia at the museum, and since both Penny and Alex were excited about the notion of dinosaurs, we stopped in the lobby to see Sue, then took them through the Evolution exhibit, which has at its core a huge room of dinosaurs.
Wednesday (the 21st) was another slower day -- Jill had plans to meet a friend for the Cubs game, so Matt took the kids to the bookstore in the morning, and then we all went over to Matt's dad's house that evening for dinner. Once again, Rachael and Celia joined us. (I was disappointed that I didn't get to see Rach's husband Rimas for the whole trip, but he was working like crazy. I'm glad the kids got so much play-time with their cousin, though! Alex is still talking about her, and it's utterly adorable.)
And then Thursday (the 22nd), Alex and I flew home. Jill had brought Cubs hats for both kids from her game, and Alex was enchanted with his -- he insisted on wearing it pretty much the whole time he was at the airport.
Friday, I took a rest day. Well, sort of. My car's Check Engine light came on while I was taking Alex to daycare, so I spent a couple of hours sitting at the repair shop while they checked it out and replaced the doohickey that had stopped working and was causing a couple of cylinders to misfire. I spent the rest of the day in a leisurely pursuit of normalcy -- I did laundry and shopped for groceries, sorted through mail and petted the cat. KT came up and we went out to lunch at a fancy French restaurant I've been wanting to try for a couple of years, now.
Saturday I decided I'd take Alex up to Richmond to see the Children's Museum. We had the most weirdly horrible traffic all the way up (and half the way back), but the museum itself was a blast. Alex had a fantastic time! (Next time, though, I'll remember to bring his bathing suit and a change of clothes -- they have a huge water-play area, and he got soaked -- and I didn't even take him to the outdoor fountain to play!)
And finally, Sunday afternoon, I took Alex over to Braz's, to hang out with him and Adin and the kids. It was noisy but fun, and the kids were all fantastic. Moments of supercute: Alex saying to Henry, "You're my friend!" and also, "Are you two? I'm two, too!" Additionally: Ripley climbing into my lap and announcing that she loved me (this made Alex mildly jealous, but he was content as long as he could be on my lap, too), and Emma sitting on the arm of the chair I was in to snuggle (though she may have simply been after my chips).
(Adin is moving down here to Williamsburg next weekend, and I'm thrilled! They're going to be just a couple of miles from us!)
And that was my vacation, in very brief... Now I'm back to work. I only had 75 emails waiting for me this morning, which is ridiculously few considering I was gone for more than a week, so I guess things were quiet. I'm willing to bet there's plenty of paperwork to catch up on, though!