As mentioned previously, our little family and our newly hired "sister nanny" headed to Chicago for the wedding of Paul's Notre Dame roommate John. We were invited to the rehearsal dinner and thus planned to arrive Friday afternoon to allow a bit of time to relax, unwind, and stretch our legs before heading out for the event. Amy was thrilled because our hotel was located directly next to a gigantic mall, so she was able to sneak in a little shopping before we took off. I practically had to drag her out of American Eagle and only my promise of burger and fries made her come amicably. When did my little baby sister turn into a teenager?
Paul and I headed to the rehearsal dinner which took place at an outdoor recreational farm that serves as a living history museum by recreating pioneer life through hands-on activities and educational demonstrations. The farm included an operational carousel ride and a train ride. John's family had the entire place at our disposal for the rehearsal dinner and it was so much fun to be able to roam around the beautiful park and take in a carousel ride (or two, or three) with a large glass of wine or beer in hand. In fact, it was while taking our second private ride on the carousel that we spied a familiar figure walking towards us. Why, it was Paul's long-lost identical twin Peter who also came to town for the wedding festivities! He promptly hopped onto the carousel and we took a fun little spin while we reunited and debriefed Peter about his travels. It was such a fun night. The greatest part was arriving back to our hotel and finding that Amy had gotten Lucy to sleep for us. We all enjoyed a great night's rest in preparation for our early departure to downtown Chicago the next morning.
Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early, dressed in our church clothes (minus the heels and such for those are not conducive to walking long distances) and headed towards downtown Chicago bright and early. One of my college friends lives downtown and offered us parking at her building, which was a complete lifesaver! Our first destination was a visit to Millennium Park and The Bean. Lucy was all about the photo opportunities this park provides.
Next, we headed to grab some much-needed caffeine from Intelligentsia Coffee - our favorite coffee shop in all the land. The mocha I ordered was incredible but the experience was slightly tainted by my horrific allergies. My eyes would not stop welling up with tears and my nose was itchy and runny. I was miserable. Peter suggested that we find a pharmacy to get me something to help me through the day. We found a CVS on a nearby corner where I consulted the pharmacist to find the best remedy to keep my symptoms at bay so I could at least semi-enjoy the day. He fixed me up with a medication and I began to feel better within the hour.
Since my hunt for allergy relief ate up a good deal of time and the darkening clouds in the sky signaled that rain may be on the way, we decided to head in the direction of The Field Museum. Of course, we ended up getting a bit lost and caught in the storm. Fortunately, Peter hailed a cab and we were delivered very quickly to the steps of the museum. Paul, Peter, and I were basically most excited about seeing the Lions of Tsavo. If you are unfamiliar with the story, they were a pair of notorious man-eating lions who claimed the lives of 135 construction workers on the Kenya-Uganda railway in 1898. The attacks occurred over a nine month period where the lions would stalk the campsites of the workers, dragging their victims from their tents and devouring them. Both lions were eventually shot and killed by Lt. Col. Patterson and he had both beasts made into large rugs. Eventually, he sold the rugs to The Field Museum where they were stuffed and reassembled to more closely resemble their original forms. We were disappointed to learn while we were there that the pelts had been so badly damaged during their time as a rugs in Col. Patterson's study that the stuffed lions on display are actually significantly smaller than they would have appeared in real life. It was still thrilling to see them since we have been fascinated with their story ever since watching the film Ghost and the Darkness in college.
Since we were short on time, we really had to be selective about what exhibits we visited. After quickly seeing the lions, we raced through the mummy display and then headed to see the dinosaur exhibit. I had to take a picture of each and every dinosaur skeleton for Matthew. It was such a great exhibit! I think even Lucy enjoyed making her way through there.
And, of course, we had to capture a photo of Lucy up-close and personal with her new pal Sue the T-Rex. Matthew was so jealous.
I wish that we could have spent more time at the museum, but it was time to watch John get hitch and we had to hike all the way to Lincoln Park for the ceremony! We headed that way, walked through the parks in the rain, and made it back to our parking garage where we put on our uncomfortable dress shoes and fixed our hair. Peter did a complete "Clark Kent" change behind the car while the rest of us covered for him. It would have been a bit awkward for one of us to get arrested for public indecency right then.
We made it to the church with plenty of time to spare. Unfortunately, Lucy was done with being confined and the last thing she wanted to do was sit quietly in a pew. We took turns entertaining her in the sanctuary while we enjoyed the beautiful music and touching exchange of vows between John and Jenny. It was such a beautiful, traditional Catholic wedding ceremony in a breathtakingly beautiful church. The bride wore her grandmother's wedding gown and the affection she and John have for one another was radiantly apparent.
After the ceremony, we headed back out of the downtown area into the suburbs where the reception was to take place. We got Lucy and Amy set up with food and then quickly changed into "black tie" attire before heading to the nearby country club where the party was waiting. It was such a fun reception, complete with endless amounts of food, drink, and music provided by a really fantastic live band. I actually got my husband to dance with me for several numbers, a significant happening considering he prefers to hide on the sidelines and watch other people dance most of the time. It was a great party celebrating a great couple!
We left the reception feeling pretty exhausted and, unfortunately, when we arrived back at the hotel we found that Lucy had rebelled and refused to sleep for Amy. It took a little while to get her to sleep which contributed to all of us waking up early the next morning feeling pretty lousy. However, we had to get up early to get to Sunday Mass and check out of our room before heading back into the city for a few hours more of exploration before our long drive home.
We spent the late morning and early afternoon wandering around downtown Chicago, through the Magnificent Mile, around the Lincoln Park Zoo, and long the riverfront. We especially enjoyed gazing at the breathtakingly tall buildings and gorgeous architecture - something notably lacking in our neck of the woods! Amy was about ready to kill me since we walked about 12 miles and her feet were about ready to give out. Lucy discovered that her new favorite pastimes is chasing pigeons. Paul would take her in the stroller and zoom her quickly towards any pigeon we spied until the poor bird flew away. Lucy thought this was pretty awesome. When we took her out of her stroller for a bit, all she wanted to do was follow the birds.
We ended our time in Chicago with a visit to my dear college friend Caroline, her husband Kevin, and their adorable little baby Thomas. The last time I saw Caroline was at her wedding three years ago, so it was really thrilling to see her settled and happy with her new little baby. After that, we had to leave really quickly because Peter had to get to the airport to catch his plane back to LA and the rest of us had to drive home to see the other little munchkins. My allergies had also returned with a vengeance and I could barely see on the drive home because my eyes were so irritated and red. We arrived home exhausted, but very satisfied with how the trip went.
I will be posting a Chicago-themed recipe in homage to our trip in the next post!