Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Photos: July & August Highlights

Summer photos that hadn't made it on the blog:

July 24, 2017

Columbus Zoo, July 30

August 3

On the new porch swing that Paul made! August 8

"Roasting marshmallows." August 18

So proud of finishing a 100-piece puzzle by herself! August 20

August 24

August 24

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Swimming Fun

Forget seeing the sites. When we visited Milwaukee and Chicago last month, one of the big highlights was the hotel pool.

Edith on this vacation "learned to swim" -- with the giant caveat that she needs a life jacket. Real swim lessons will be coming up soon for her, I hope. Atticus enjoyed splashing around. And Mama enjoyed the free time she was afforded when Daddy took the kids to the pool, but I even joined them once. Fun was had by all.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Weekend in Annapolis

It's been day in and day out with kids for almost five years. The only time I had spent a night away from Edith was when Atticus was born, and I had never spent a night away from Atticus.

Coincidentally, it had also been about five years since two of my old college roommates and I had gotten together. I had seen Allison and Sarah separately, but several weeks ago I asked if they were available for a get-together this summer. They were, and the winning location was Annapolis, where Allison lives. Bonus: I had never been there before.

The worst parts of the weekend were the 6.5 hour drives there and back, of course. The best part was, well, the entire rest of the trip.

Like Columbus, Annapolis is a capital city. Other than that, they couldn't be more different. Annapolis lives and breathes the water. It would have been impossible to count the sheer number of sailboats, yachts and other boats of all shapes and sizes that I saw. And I got to experience a bit of it myself when a friend of Allison's husband took us all out on his speedboat. Jumping the waves was almost as good as Cedar Point, and it seemed so funny to "parallel park" the boat along a restaurant and jump out to eat.

Downtown was active and lively, with lots of small stores, ice cream shops and restaurants. We met up with one of Allison's friends that evening to see a '90s tribute band -- not something I would have necessarily chosen, but a blast nonetheless.

I never would have considered myself a water person, let alone a boat person, but I really had a great time surrounded by both. Hopefully I won't let another five years go by before I see my old roommates ... or get away from the responsibilities of home.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

2017 Defiance Hot Air Balloon Festival

This past weekend we headed to my hometown for a special event: the 2017 Defiance Hot Air Balloon Festival. I had never seen balloons clustered together like this before, and I was even more eager since the event was being held at the airport just down the street from where I grew up.

I knew that even if the kids didn't enjoy the balloons as much as I did, they would be thrilled with the bounce houses and trucks to climb into. And they were. But Atticus especially was enthralled with the way the balloons soared right over our heads, close enough that we could watch the pilots wave.

When the sun set, the nearly 20 balloons glowed and twinkled, and we each picked our favorites. It was a beautiful evening, and I would gladly attend the Defiance Hot Air Balloon Festival again.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

3 Days in Chicago

Our first stop in Chicago was a few days before our proper stay. We broke up the drive to Milwaukee by making a slight detour to the Museum of Science and Industry. We arrived just shy of 1 p.m. and stayed longer than I expected, leaving more than four hours later. Edith and Atticus liked the interactive parts -- climbing into a combine, playing in a kid zone. We probably could have spent more time there, but we were worn out and still had a 90 minute drive ahead of us.

We arrived in Chicago "for real" a few days later. First stop: Pequod's, a deep-dish pizza place recommended by a friend who grew up in the area. It ended up being my favorite meal of the trip, thanks to the caramelized crust and the not-too-heavy-on-the-cheese personal pizzas.

After checking into our hotel and parking the car, we walked the few blocks to Navy Pier. It was so miserably hot, however, that we walked nearly to the end and then immediately turned back to the hotel for some a/c and the pool.

We ventured out later that night to go to Portillo's for some Chicago-style hot dogs. Then we walked down Michigan Avenue to take a look at the river and turned back.

The next day wasn't any cooler. We walked the two miles to Adler Planetarium, making short stops at the Bean and Maggie Daley Park / playground. Luckily the planetarium was cool and quite nice. We spent around four hours there, mostly in a large kid area that Edith and Atticus loved. Lunch was tasty too, with nice views of the city and the lake.

The Bean

View not far from the planetarium

Space potty!

We made a brief stop at the Field Museum, but by this time we were all hungry, tired and irritable. We shared a deep dish pizza at Lou Malnati's a few blocks away before calling it a day.

Saturday was our last full day in Chicago, and the weather was finally lovely. Without kids, we may have eaten at Rick Bayless's Frontera Grill. Instead, we ate lunch with the kids at Frontera Fresco, the cheaper, quick-service version in a Macy's food court. My chipotle chicken torta was gigantic, spicy and delicious -- the the arugula on top was maybe my first vegetable all week. Oops.

We had planned to get a day-pass for the Chicago Water Taxi to explore the city by river and then meet some friends for supper. Instead, they suggested meeting us to take the taxi too. They showed us around Chinatown (where I was happy to order an avocado smoothie) and then to supper at a barbecue restaurant (where I was startled to enter the women's restroom and see a life-size mannequin of a man at a urinal). We stayed on the water taxi as we said goodbye to our friends, and then Paul and Atticus went back to the hotel as Edith and I went in search of our traditional vacation Christmas ornament.

Paul like Portillo's so much that we went for lunch the next day before taking off for home.

I hadn't been to Chicago since before we moved to Brooklyn in 2007, and during our three days in Chicago, I was constantly comparing it to New York. Chicago is grittier and more industrial, but in parts prettier, with a large lake-and-river culture and plentiful plants along the street. Edith says her favorite part was the revolving doors, but I like the energy and friendliness.

Hotel pool fun


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