Enjoying a Long Weekend

What better way to prepare for a fresh weekend than to share our adventures from last week’s 4-day weekend! Thanks to the end of the trimester and staff retreat, we had four days to adventure last weekend. (Obviously, this week has been busy as we try to get back on track and get our inner clocks re-aligned.) So what is the best thing to do when faced with a long weekend and two children under 5? Get busy!

And it begins!

Wife was busy on Friday, so the girls and I headed to Lincoln Park to check out the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Wife and I had attended a fundraising event here many years ago so it was great to get back over for some exploring. And as you can tell by the bundled children, it was a perfect day for indoor adventures!

The girls were off and running as soon as we got inside, so we had to find something cool to check out quick. They loved the interactive exhibits, the first being an exhibit all about water management explaining the different structures for moving and utilizing water. I think the girls understood it as, “Water! And boats! Fish too!” Needless to say, they weren’t really into the history-oriented exhibits.

Is it lunch time yet?

Without a doubt, the girls’ favorite spot was the play area in the basement. It is set up as a marshy environment, complete with a tree-like play fort, a cave and a beaver lodge.

Beaver? Cat? Go with what you know.

And did I mention the costume/serape things they had for the kids? One in frog design and the other in a beaver design, these were great for being dragged around the room, sat upon for faster sliding and general sharing of all germs that kids can carry. The girls loved ’em.

Beaver? Ewok? Eh, cute either way.

I liked this area for two main reasons. 1.) It has a fence and therefore keeps the children contained, and 2.) It has its own private bathroom. Which we all put to good use. So the adventures stretched from the morning to the early afternoon and the girls were plenty worn out afterwards. Another major attraction at the museum is the butterfly pavilion, but I was so busy keeping the girls calm that I didn’t try to snap any photos. Who knew butterflies were creepy?!?

Wife was free on Saturday, so we headed to Old Town to visit the Chicago History Museum. Wife couldn’t believe it was my first visit. There she is with Sweetie in the bottom right corner of the photo. Again, too cold to play outside.

So the girls’ interest was the same as at the nature museum: if it was interactive, it was awesome. And while neither one of them would be a hot dog, the condiments got plenty of love.

And the trains. They loved checking out the trains. There is an early locomotive as well as an early passenger train (precursor to our beloved CTA trains). The girls visited these a few times. Places to go, ya’ see.

All aboard!

We hit an educational movie and tried to read some of the information in the exhibits, but the girls kept moving. Sweetie picked up a couple of tidbits about the Great Chicago Fire, but I think it was an attempt to understand an event so big. One last perk about the history museum, it has the North & Clark Cafe’ attached to the south end. So lunch without leaving the warmth was a great way to end our visit.

The remainder of our weekend was spent on everyday stuff; cleaning, straightening up, visiting family, checking on the house, and even watching a Redbox movie, just Wife and I. We were all a bit worn out after our back-to-back adventures, but it was so worth it. Chicago is full of museums and other great treasures for entertaining/educating your little ones, yet one more reason to love our city. Here’s to this weekend’s adventures!

Day’s Detour: the zoo

Momma Z’s early morning text read “Are you guys up for hanging out today?? We’re tired of cleaning and running errands!” The message was perfect, because we were also sick of running errands. For those of you who don’t live here, Chicago is experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures. Temperatures have been in the low-to-mid 70’s all week and perfect for adventuring.

After some quick decisions we headed down to the Lincoln Park neighborhood to the city zoo…the Lincoln Park Zoo! The zoo is free and perfect for walking around to enjoy a great Chicago fall day. Momma Z and Linda picked us up and had us at the gates by 10:30AM. With the perfect temperature and full sun, the lions were much more active than usual. In fact, I think they were the most active I have ever seen.

Whoa...check it out

Whoa…check it out

After that good start, we headed to the reptile house to catch a live animal presentation. The critter of the day: “Meatball” the three-ring armadillo! So the girls got to check out Meatball rootin’ around some woodchips. And while they couldn’t appreciate the educational stuff, it was still cool. The entrance room of the reptile house is all carpeted, so the girls safely toddled around from exhibit to exhibit. And a bunch of the exhibits have “pods” at kid height, so they could actually see the animals.

We were able to enjoy a packed lunch in a clean, shaded pavilion and wandered through most of the zoo. As a random sidenote, the bathrooms by the pavilion were new and clean, and there was a clean changing table in the Men’s Bathroom. Good job LP Zoo! Overall they are doing a bunch of renovation to the zoo, making it even better.

The girls’ interest level varied by the animals. Obviously, they were more into the active animals and barely noticed the ones that were snoozing. Most of the animals were active like the lions so there was a good show overall…definitely worth the entrance fee (Free, remember?!). We had a special treat watching feeding time in the vulture cage. It was morbidly fascinating and Momma Z and I were stuck – it was better than the Discovery Channel. I decided not to post any of the rat lunch pictures (yes, I took more than one).

What do you think those are?

What do you think those are?

So the day was a great adventure overall. Many thanks to Momma Z and Linda for helpin’ us get out and enjoy the day…and for driving. Random note #2: Momma Z rocked a great Lincoln Park parallel parking job, sticking their Subaru Wagon in a spot just big enough. Good thing I kept my mouth shut! Random note #3: we wandered past the cast for an upcoming TV show, “Sirens”, as they were eating lunch. No offers to be extras though, oh well. And the day’s main lesson; always check the signs on the exhibit before you search the foliage for critters.

Everyone needs a break sometime

Everyone needs a break sometime

Today you wish you were me

I don’t normally say this; especially on days with missed naps, poop-splosions, and toy tornadoes. And bragging is not usually my style. But today was different. And today you wish you were me. Today you were probably stuck in an office, working the day away. But today was around 75 degrees with a lake breeze, mostly sunny and beautiful. So today we went on an adventure downtown.


Big Daddy B, Momma Z, Linda, Sweetie and I piled in the ride and headed to the heart of the city. The adventure started down at Millennium Park with a music class for the girls. It was an English version of the class they take at the Old Town School of Folk Music. There is a giant tent set up there with music classes, book readings, arts and crafts, giant checkers and giant tinker toys. Overall the activities are for older children but the girls had a blast and definitely got down.


After music class we scoped out a spot for lunch. While we were hunting around we noticed the Chicago Symphony Orchestra warming up in the Pritzker Pavilion. They were getting ready to practice for the night’s concert. So we found a great spot on the south side of the park among some shade trees and sat to enjoy our picnic lunch. All the while the symphony played in the background.

Hello city

Hello city

Next stop was the Chicago Cultural Center, just a short walk across the street and we wandered in to explore.  The girls both fell asleep after lunch so the adults could do as we pleased. As always, the Tiffany Dome was impressive to see. We also caught two art exhibits; the first was Modernism’s Messengers: the Art of Alfonso and Margaret Iannellitone. They were a couple who worked together on various marketing and architectural projects. Many of the works were designed, built and displayed in Chicago. The second exhibit was by Stefan Sagmeister, called The Happy Show. It focused on the topic of happiness, explored through selected entries from the artist’s journal. The Happy Show was a particularly good find that we stumbled on. It was wonderfully bizarre but got you thinking.

Tiffany Dome - the photo doesn't do it justice

Tiffany Dome – the photo doesn’t do it justice

We wrapped up at a perfect time in the middle of the afternoon. For treats we hit Dunkin’ Donuts for a road coffee before hopping back in the ride. Traffic was clear heading north so we ended the day on a good note with an easy cruise home. Today was a great day in Chicago; a great day on the detour. So yeah, today you wish you were me. Now I hope you can go and have such a day so you can write the same back to me.