Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chicago: July 2011

J and I recently got back from Chicago. Most of his family lives there, so he's used to going pretty often! I, however, have never been on a plane twice in three months, so this is a whole new experience for me. 

The purpose of this trip was for the kids' birthday parties. Our niece, S, turns 12 this Friday, and our nephew, J (I'll refer to him as J-2 so no one gets confused!), turned 5 a couple weeks ago. This is our personal, online shout-out to them: happy birthday, kiddos! :) 

We arrived really late Friday night (or Saturday morning, if you want to get technical about it). Last time we visited, I had an allergic reaction to a cat that lives in the townhouse. Sure enough, when I woke up on Saturday morning, I had watery eyes, a runny nose, and an itchy throat. Luckily, J's brother and sister-in-law were kind enough to let us sleep on an air mattress at their house for the remainder of the weekend....thanks, guys! 

Everyone was busy setting up for the party on Saturday afternoon. The kids' mom was busy making two (delicious!) cakes for dessert. Below is a picture of J-2, happily devouring some left over cake mix. :)

The kids' dad was out buying food and drinks for the party. J and I set up the tables, chairs, tents, and games for the party. The party started at 4:30, and there were a lot of people there! I love the set up of their neighborhood. Everything is pretty open, so the neighbors are able to just walk on over. Everyone seemed pretty close knit and got along really well, so it was a happy time. I hope that when J and I finally buy a house of our own, we're lucky enough to have friendly neighbors like they do! 

Everyone seemed to have fun. After eating, the kids had a water balloon fight and then broke out the super soakers. There was also a play set in the backyard for the little ones to play on. We'd set up a bags game and volleyball/badminton net, too, so there was lots to do. I neglected to get any pictures of the actual cookout party...I was having too good of a time to worry about snapping pics. :) By the way, the weather was GORGEOUS! It was a whopping 88 degrees all weekend! Some of the folks were sweating, but when us Texans told them it was about 105 in our neck of the woods, they quickly agreed that the weather felt nice. ;)

Sunday was J and I's "marriage celebration lunch." (I'm not sure what else to call it, so that's what I've dubbed it.) We ate this restaurant called the Bohemian Gardens, and I was exposed to some more authentic northern food. There were several items I'd never seen or heard of before, but most of it was pretty good! Again, I failed to get pictures, so here's a make-up shot:

Those are all the cards we received from people who came to our lunch. Everyone was so nice, and it was great to see (and/or meet) everyone! Loved ones, your thank you cards are already in the mail. :)

Monday was our last day there. When we woke up, our niece, S, was asking her parents about going to this new Chinese place that had opened near their house. Everyone went, and it was so good! There was a huge variety of food to choose from -- much more than your regular Chinese restaurant buffet. There was something for everyone. Our other niece, A, tried some type of oyster or clam and loved it. ...Where else would you get to try that and not have to go hungry if you don't like it? :) Below is my fortune:

I do like that I finally have some proof that "I am the master." lol. 

On the way back to the airport that evening, I snapped a couple quick pictures of the neighborhood. According to J, old Chicago used to build their houses really close together. I can't remember the purpose behind that, but there are still some neighborhoods that have the original spacing. I took several pictures of the houses, but I feel that this picture captures the space best:

Not much yard space, either! Another thing about the north: they have very slanted rooftops. J says this is because the snow piles so heavily on the roofs, and they need something steep to let it slide off so the roofs don't cave in. ...Unheard of here in the south! (We're more worried about tornadoes. :) 

On the plane, I met this adorable (and talkative) 9-year old girl who pretty much told me her life story. lol. She was a sweetheart and had an unusual childhood... Our plane stopped briefly in Missouri before heading back to Texas. I was devouring a good book and J was watching a funny movie on his iPod, so we didn't really notice the length of the flight. :) We got back to our apartment around midnight on Monday night/Tuesday morning, and I spent yesterday unpacking and stocking our 'fridge back up. 

We're glad to be home, but we miss our Chicago loved ones. <3

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