I’m pretty sure Josh has been looking forward to his 8-year-old trip for about 2 years now. We talked about it all the time, schemed where he would want to go and what he would want to do. As it drew closer, he decided on Chicago. It had all the things Josh loved. Public transportation, sky scrapers, lots of food, and fun museums. I was super excited he picked Chicago because I’d never been there either! I bought him a guidebook and he spent endless nights pouring over its contents, memorizing facts, and planning itineraries.
We scored a killer deal on airfare ($100 round trip!) and also booked the beautiful Hilton Chicago for $99/night. We decided to take a chance on Chicago weather in Dec and I’m so glad we did. The weather cooperated wonderfully—it was very foggy, but about 45 degrees.
Josh in front of the Hilton
After we landed at Midway and taxied into town the first item on our agenda was exploring the town and getting Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. Delicious! They also had deep dish cookies which are Josh’s absolute favorite thing. We ended the night swimming in the pool.
The next morning we were headed to the Field Museum and stopped by Yolk for breakfast. We both loved it. I had cinnamon roll french toast with eggs and sausage and Josh had a bagel breakfast sandwich with a side of fruit. We then walked to the Field Museum, excited to see Sue, the biggest T.Rex skeleton in the world. We walked past a dino skeleton on our way in, but it wasn’t huge, so we stopped to ask where we could find Sue. The museum guide chuckled, pointed at the small dino and said, “You’re looking at her.” Josh and I both cocked our heads and went, “huh.” She wasn’t quite what either of us were expecting. I guess even the very biggest T.Rex just isn’t all that big. We really enjoyed this museum. One of our favorite exhibits was where we were “shrunk” to 1/100 of our size and then we got to explore the bug world. When we were done we headed back to the hotel for a rest and for some screen time.
Then it was off to Millennium Park for an ice skating adventure. We stood in line forever and finally got our skates. As we all know, my children aren’t known for their athletic prowess, so ice skating was a challenge. We went around the rink one time and Josh was ready to be done. 🙂 We took a little break and then tried again. He was getting better, but losing the love quickly. Luckily the Zamboni came out to clean the ice giving us another little break. We had a funny joke going on. Every time I’d say, “Josh, you are doing so great!” he’d slip and fall. So we decided it was best if I just didn’t say anything at all. lol. The famous Chicago Bean was just above the rink so we went up to have a look. It was pretty cool to see the whole city reflecting off the surface.
Josh was SUPER tired that night, so I told him to sleep as long as he wanted in the morning. Well, that ended up being a very, very long time. He slept till almost 10 and I was confined to my bed, trying to make as little noise as possible.
In the morning the clouds had lifted and we went back to Willis Tower. after having tried before only to discover it was totally fogged in at the top. Josh had a friend who told him the glass could break at the top of the tower and you could fall to your death. Totally untrue, but scared Josh enough to ruin this experience for him. I had to practically drag him to the top. I was sad about this because he had enjoyed the Hancock Tower in Boston so much and had loved gaining perspective on the city and seeing all the famous landmarks from above. He also said, “I like skyscrapers from the street, but when I’m at the top I get a funny feeling in my tummy.”
I tried not to let him ruin it for me, but he kinda did. All he did was mope and whine and ask to leave. I LOVED this building. The history, the architecture, and especially the Ledge. The Ledge is a 4 foot glass box that extends from the skydeck on the 103rd floor. It is 1353 feet high and feels like you are stepping out into thin air above the streets of Chicago. It was exhilarating and breathtaking!
We decided to quickly move to our next adventure, the Children’s museum on Navy Pier. I was consulting the L train map and Josh said, “Mom, we just get on the red line here, transfer to the orange at Roosevelt, then take the orange toward The Loop.” I asked if he was sure and he said, “Trust me. I’ve got it under control.” And he was right!
Josh absolutely loved the Children’s Museum. We built forts and had a fake snowball fight, climbed up tall towers, played checkers, and took our picture in a photo booth. But his favorite part was an exhibit called Waterways. It had an intricate system of rivers, pulleys and dams. And lots of rubber ducks and boats to play with. We spent the most time in this room. He made a little friend and they played cops and robbers with their rubber ducks devising ways for the ducks to escape from prison once they were caught. It was so fun to watch him and his little imagination.
It gets dark very early in Chicago! It was only just after 4pm but the sun was setting. We decided this would be the perfect time to ride the ferris wheel. I love seeing the city from the sky. To me, it is one of the most beautiful sites in the world.
The night was still young so we went searching for the Christkindlemarket, touted to be the most amazing German Christmas market. And it did look cute. But it was MOBBED with people. So many people that you couldn’t move, breath, or think. We high tailed it out of there pretty quickly. We walked by the Macy’s windows, which I absolutely loved and Josh absolutely couldn’t have cared less. By the time we made it back to the hotel I was beat. But not Josh—he was up for a little late night swim.
We beat our goal of 20,000 steps!
On our final day we made our way back to Yolk for a fantastic breakfast before hitting up the Shedd Aquarium. I had stumbled on a Groupon with discounted admission and I’m sure glad I did! Why are aquariums so expensive??
We had a really fun time watching the Orca show, meeting a seal, enjoying a 4D movie, and learning about Nickel, the famed Chicago turtle who was hit by a boat propeller. When then were doing x-rays, the drs discovered a nickel from 1975 lodged in her throat.
All too soon it was time to head to the airport. We decided to take the subway out to O’Hare, because, well, by this point we were broke. Taxi = $40ish. L Train = $3. Getting to the L was a bit crazy. It started to rain when we had about a quarter mile to go. So we just went as fast as we could. We were both a bit wet, but no worse for the wear. And it helped us toward our 20,000 step goal. We fell just a bit short today.
This is how we feel about leaving:
I loved getting to spend all this one on one time with Josh. He has such a special place in my heart. I love the way his mind works, I love to talk to him and listen to his many ideas, and I love to share adventures that help us both to grow. I’m sure we will be talking about this trip for many years to come!
Other things we did:
Ate our first Chicago Dog. Well, I did this. Josh wouldn’t touch it with a 10 ft pole.
Visited the Lego store and got to pick out a lego set.