Chicago is For Learners

Or “Spring Break–part 1.”

I have to let you in on a little secret.  Promise you won’t tell anyone, but teachers look forward to Spring Break as much (or maybe even more!) than students.  Yep, we love the time off to play and recharge and do all the things we might not have time for when we’re busy with school work.

So this year, like most others, we started planning what our Spring Break would look like.  My husband, who is also a teacher, had the same week off as me (which thankfully happens most years), so we looked at going somewhere together as a family.  This time around it was Chicago.

The idea for this trip really started back in November.  Grant and I were lucky enough to take a weekend-getaway there right before Thanksgiving, to celebrate my birthday and just enjoy the city.  We’d been the once before, but it had been quite a while and it was time to go back.  The kids stayed with their Mimi and Pop, but all the while we kept thinking that many of the things we did would be a big hit with our son, Riley, who is 4 1/2.  He LOVES to travel (and has since he was a baby) and so he was a little sad when we got to go away without him.  Needless to say, he was as excited for this Chicago trip as we were.

When we went to Chicago in the fall, we drove to a train station near O’Hare Airport and then took the El into the city.  Then, during our stay, we either rode the train or walked where we wanted to go.  This time rather than driving, we decide to take Amtrak, because of both its ease and cost-effectiveness, but also because we have a 4YO son.  I mean what 4YO boy wouldn’t LOVE to take a trip on a train.  He had been studying transportation at school, and so this fit in perfectly with that, too.

I was excited about the train ride, but I have to be honest that I wasn’t excited about this:

What’s that, you ask?  That’s what time I had to get up to get to the train on time.  And yes, that’s AM.  Our train left at 4:35 in the morning!!  (Sorry about the quality of that photo.  Guess my camera was a little groggy at that time of day, too!)

Here’s my seatmate for our ride:

See how tired she looks?  That’s because she woke up at 3:20, too, and never…went…back…to…sleep.  Bummer.  That made for a hard ride for her, but luckily Amtrak was spacious enough that we could walk around if we wanted, and it had a snack car that we could escape to if baby needed a change of scenery or something to eat.  That made the trip a little more manageable with a 15MO.  🙂

We got into town around 10, and headed across town to our hotel (we found a great place just off Michigan Ave.), hoping to leave our luggage and head out for lunch, but luckily our room was already ready for us!  What a nice surprise.  The rest of Sunday we spent walking around the Magnificent Mile and checking out the sites.  Riley really liked the mall at Water Tower Place that was right next to where we were staying.  For dinner we headed to Gino’s East for deep dish pizza.  Legendary place, really, and lots of fun.

The next day we headed to the Field Museum.  It’s the Museum of Natural History, and we were most excited about seeing Sue, the big T-Rex in the first part, but we also experienced many other fun and informative things.

I love this picture.  It pretty much encompasses our trip.  Family fun in the city. 🙂


Eventually we had to stop and look at the map, because other than “south,” we didn’t really know where we were going.  That’s another thing Riley loves–looking at maps and trying to figure out where we’re going.  I don’t think he really understands how they work just yet, but some day he will totally be our navigator.


Thanks to my friend, Johanna, and the Beco baby carrier she lent us, this was how Allie and I spent the walk to the museum.  This was so amazing, because we didn’t have to worry about a stroller around town, and baby girl got in a little rest–this made all the difference in her mood during the second part of our journey. 🙂  Ignore my angry face–it’s just what happens when I try to take pictures of myself.  Somehow I figure it’d look silly if I smiled at myself and said “cheese.”  I really was having a great time. 🙂


I love how tiny my littles look in these pictures.  That really is a big place!  The last one is especially funny to me, too, because Allie was so determined.  She was going to crawl all the way up those steps to get her Bubba.  Well if I let her.  Which I didn’t, in case you were wondering.

Ok, so this picture is totally staged.  But after all that walking (it took us at least an hour to walk from our hotel to the museum), we needed a break.  This was Riley showing me how tired he was.  After this we sat for a while and had a snack before heading out into the museum.


That first picture up there is from the 3D movie all about how they found the T-Rex, Sue.  But we’re not watching it.  Baby lasted about 1 minute, and after the first dinosaur roar she started screaming.  So we just played in the lobby with the glasses instead.  The second one is a picture of Riley inside a giant cicada shell in the Underground exhibit.  You go through a shrinking machine and get to experience what it would be like to live in the world of dirt.  The last one is a little snapshot of Daddy taking his turn with Allie in the Beco.  After carrying that little girl all the way there, my shoulders and back needed a break.  For being so little, she sure is heavy.  Pretty cute, right? She seems to be loving it. 🙂

There’s the family with Sue.   Riley really was excited about the dinosaur, just not the picture.

Another picture with a dinosaur.  Hopefully you can see it–we couldn’t really get any closer to it than this, but he really wanted a “long-neck” picture to show his friends. 🙂


After the museum, baby took a ride on my back, and then we took a ride on the train.   Obviously he loved it.

Ok, so I realize this is becoming a really lengthy post.  I’ll finish in another one next, to give you a break from all this Spring Break goodness.  Don’t forget to come back and read it, though!

4 thoughts on “Chicago is For Learners

  1. Pingback: The Windy City « 20somethingkidsand1kookyteacher

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