Sunday, July 29, 2012

Standing on Chicago, cross that off my Bucket List

I have had some good times on my visits to Chicago over the years.  Started in eighth grade with two class trips, one to some historical churches and one to The Museum of Science and Industry.  Then we took the girls when they were about seven and five.  We stayed in a downtown hotel, took a crazy cab ride, and enjoyed zoos and museums.  John and I returned for an anniversary, not sure which, but it was years ago.  We stayed in a downtown hotel and visited museums, Navy Pier, and the Sears Tower.  We visited the planetarium and Sears Tower with our good friends, the Kovach family when the girls were about ten and eight.  That was another good trip. We took Mallory to the Sears Tower and The Museum of Science and Industry in 2002.  Mal was afraid to go up in the Sears Tower on that trip, too close to 9/11 I believe.  My mom, Lynne, the girls, and various other parties visited Chicago for three years straight in December with the Linsmeier bus group.  I always enjoyed those trips each one different and unique in its own way.  Finally, Courtney, Alissa, Mal, and I rode the train to Chicago in two consecutive Augusts for shopping.  Those trips were so much fun and included silly times involving tarts, free diet coke, bathroom stops, booties, new shoes, just to name a few.  We still laugh about those memories.
Anyway, I really wanted to go back to Chicago and walk out on the glass walkway in the Sears Tower.  After some convincing, John said he would go with me as long as we took the train which we did.  It was a great trip with a few glitches thrown in for good measure, of course.
In the above photo, you can see us on the train on the ride down.  That part of the trip was uneventful.

Upon arriving in Chicago, we walked the short distance to the Sears Tower and after battling large crowds and some confusion with the security checkpoint and waiting for the elevator we made it to the 103rd floor. 
There who long lines waiting to walk out on the glass, but we patiently waited our turn.  When we got up there, John's new camera wasn't working.  Now I did not come all this way and wait in that long line to not have a picture.  I used my camera and the cell phone, John was upset, thinking the security machine had ruined his card in the camera.  I did not get to take in the full feeling of the glass since I had to go and calm him down.  The above picture was actually taken with John's camera which was miraculousy fixed by a young woman from Australia, I believe she was heavensent.  Anyway after she turned one little setting on his camera, it worked and we waited in an even longer line to go back out on the glass walkway.  This time it was worth every minute of the wait. 
Here are my feet standing on Chicago.  I think they look like they are dangling in mid air here.  We took many, many foot pictures and other shots from the walkway.  We definitely took our sweet time once we got out there.
This is the picture that the young lady from Australia took of us to make sure that she had fixed John's camera.  All she ask in return was that John take a photo of her and her friends.  That was easy enough and small payment for saving our day.
We spent about two hours up there just looking around and enjoying all the views,  bought a few souvenirs, and headed to the "going down" line for the elevators.  Yep, you guessed it, it was long.  I swear every family, every old person, every foreigner was up in the tower that day.  Anyway we waited to go down.  When it was our turn they directed us to a service elevator.  We were packed in there and it went so slowly.  We thought we were all the way down, but we were actually only on the 63rd floor and had to be herded to another service elevator and then yet, another service elevator which finally took us to the bottom floor.  Our journey was not yet over since we then had to ride an elevator up to the ground level and get out of that place!  It was craziness!
When we exited the Sears Tower, we were looking a bathroom, a simple bathroom.  Macdonald's, NO, had to purchase something and get a key, Subway, NO, only for employees, Barnes and Noble, NO, had to purchase something and get a key.  Since it was not an emergency, we found this cute little Italian place where we had some yummy calzones and diet cokes which will now go right through us.  I looked for the location of the bathrooms in this restaurant and there weren't any!  How crazy is that?  So we moved on.

We arrived at Grant Park and found public bathrooms, clean, free, open, no purchase necessary.  YES!  Making a mental note of this one.

This is the fountain from the opening of the Married with Children show.  Finally an area that was not so full of people.  We were enjoying the beautiful day at this point.
We happened upon two events, not sure if these were weddings or maybe those fifteen year old coming out parties.  At any rate, the dresses were big and beautiful as were the girls wearing them.  Worst case scenario, they were gypsies from the show, "My big fat gypsy wedding."
This girl in pink just seemed too young to a getting married and why all those boys and no bridesmaids.  I suppose we will never know.

We took a nice walk by the lake and took this photo of Navy Pier.  We did not walk all the way to the Pier because it would have made for a long trek back and our feet were already a bit tired.

We took the river walk back to Michigan Avenue and found the Blackhawk store for Mallory.  We may or may not have purchased a few items.
Then we found Millenium Park and the big silver bean.  This is us reflected in the bean.

Just some more bean shots.
There was a huge brick wall sprinkler in this park, too.  Water just poured down the sides of the wall.
This is a shot of all the people wading and cooling off between the two walls.  This wall has a picture of a face on it that we did not notice until we looked at the photos.

Finally back at Union Station in plenty of time to enjoy a hot fudge sundae and time out people watching on the river walkway.
Rode our train home without any incident.
All in all, it was a very good day.
I leave you with John and I standing on Chicago.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

This and That

Summer marches on.  Time goes so quickly these days.  I have been spending time at school this week getting my room organized and ready for another year of Preschoolers.  This year my theme is "I wanna be like Jesus."
I am using bees to decorate my room, as my nametags, and as my cubby names.
I expect my room to be a buzz with busy bees!
I found this verse and I am going to post it so everyone that enters my room can see it.
"Sometimes looking into a classroom is a bit like looking into a beehive
The uninformed visitor might see lots of bees moving in many directions with no apparent logic,
but the beekeeper knows what each bee is doing and how an activity fits the overall pattern."
We have a new principal and kindergarten teacher this year.  Both are new graduates and bring with them the enthusiasm that only a new grad can possess.
I wish we could bottle that and spread it around.  I feel it rubbing off on me.
I think this is such a positive step for St. John's and I look forward to the blessings they will bring us.

This summer has been so hot and dry.
We are in the midst of a severe drought with only an inch of rain so far this summer.
The only positive is that there are no mosquitos.
I have been watering our garden to keep the tomatoes and cukes going.  I gave up long ago on the flowers and pots.  Yesterday I made our first salad with fresh organic tomatoes, cukes, onions, and carrots from the garden.  The lettuce was store bought since ours has gone to seed.  The salad was yummy.

 This past Saturday we had another fun night out with our college friend, Joan.
We went to a place called Sheridan's in Cudahy.
The food was very good, presentation was lovely, but John and I did have to stop on the way home for a malt from Kopp's.  Guess that fancy food just doesn't fill one up.
The price was a bit more than we usually pay, too, but it was still a great night as it always is with Joan.
 The other day we woke up to this mess in our front yard.
We had a wind storm during the night, lots of thunder and lightening as well as wind, but hardly a drop of rain.
 I just had to share the next photos because they are so darn cute.
I bought these yellow outfits for the girls.  I just knew they would look so pretty in yellow and I was not wrong about that.  Not everyone can sport yellow with such beauty.
When did  my little Tizita grow up?  It seems to have happened over night.
She asked her mama for cotton candy hair and this is what she got, sure does look like cotton candy to me.  Courtney has wonderful skills when it comes to doing Tiz's hair.  It takes real patience on both their parts to do these styles.

On a final note, John and I are taking the train to Chicago on Saturday.
I have wanted to walk out on the glass walkway on top of the Sears Tower and now I will be doing just that.
Stay tuned for pictures from that exciting day. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Like grandma, like granddaughter

Okay, she may not look like me, but I think she has picked up some of my gestures and habits.
Just look how she is sitting just like me waiting for the boat.
Yep, she is definitely my granddaughter!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Our Last Day of Vacation, July 17

 Wow, before we knew it, our last day of vacation was here.  Paul had been repairing bike tires so Tiz had to use the bike pump to pump up Llama. 
We spent the morning hanging out in the condo, spending time with Tizita and Soliana.
 Grandpa had time to play with both of his little girls.
 Here is Tizita posing in the shirt that she colored and wearing her Junior Ranger hat from the Locks.
 We took some photos on the steps of our condo.  Here is the Van Auken family.
 Here are some proud grandparents with their two precious granddaughters.
 And finally, here is Gigi with the Van Aukens.
 We spent time swimming at the waterpark again and playing some more arcade games.  Soliana just cannot take her eyes off the road in this driving game.
There was some fun with a cardboard box, too.  We all enjoyed Courtney's pizzas for dinner on our last night.
It was a fun filled vacation.
I can't wait to do it again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Vacation, Monday, July 16, Day 4

Day 4 already.  The days go nice and slowly, but how did we get to day 4 already.  I am no where near ready to leave this place yet.  Today we did touristy things.  We started with a trip to Starved Rock State Park.  In Illinois, admission to all state parks is free, I suppose all the tolls make up for that price.  Anyway that was nice for us.
Courtney, Paul, and Soli opted for another hike.  My mom, John, Tiz, and I decided on a boat ride on the Illinois River.  Here we are waiting patiently for our boat to arrive at the dock.  It was running a bit late due to a surprise inspection by the coast guard.  Luckily for us, it passed!
And here is our newly inspected Belle of the Rock. 
We settled in to our seats for the trip. 
We saw the big bridge that we cross to get to our resort.
We saw a closer view of the locks.
We got a nice view of Starved Rock.
When we got back home we got ready for a first vacation with Soli party complete with a dozen cupcakes that we purchased at Two Girls and a Cupcake in Utica.  We chose twelve different flavors and they were all just as pretty as the ones on Cupcake Wars.
Tizita was in charge of setting the table which she did while seated on the table.  After all, it was a big log table.
This is just one of the yummy cupcakes and yes, they did taste as good as they looked.
Tiz wanted a ride in Ergo, so as a good grandma, I complied.  We had a lot of laughs with this.

Jaccuzzi time came next.  It took me a while to figure out how to turn the jets on, but we finally did it and created mountains of bubbles.
Little girl lost in bubbles.
 Being silly.
After our spaghetti dinner, we went to the Indoor Amusement Park.  Tizita met a new friend, Ella and they enjoyed some dancing together.
Soli rode her first little merry go round,
and of course, there was more skee ball for Courtney and me.
Paul and Tizita hit the high ropes course.  Tiz finished it, but she declared, she was never doing that again.  It is pretty scary to be up so high above all of our heads.
The night ended with Deal or no Deal for Soli and I.
Another great vacation day for all of us.
Tomorrow is our last full day.
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