Friday, July 12, 2013

Family Vacation 2013: Chicago Land, Pt. 5

The evening before our family's last day in Chicago Land, we ate a chicken dinner prepared lovingly in our friends' apartment and swam in their complex. My little kids were a bit wide-eyed over things commonplace to three-year-old Mira: the elevator, the ample pool and patio; I laughed, thinking about Country Mouse and Town Mouse.

We met up, next day, at Oz Park, which--given that I'm a huge Wizard of Oz fan--was high on my list of things to see in the area. It was well worth the stop. I'm still loving my photos; here's just a small sample.

After eating lunch at Oz Park, we drove the short distance to Lincoln Park Zoo. We stayed until closing time (5 pm), which wasn't much time, at all, in a zoo of that size. We enjoyed watching the sea lions and polar bear, in particular: animals we don't have in our local zoo.


African Wild Dogs

It was thrilling to be just on the other side of the glass from this enormous polar bear and its bone.

Here, we said goodbye to our friends and headed back toward Indianapolis: during rush hour, just as it started to rain. I didn't feel like we had any right to complain, though; Chicago Land and its skies were very good to us.


Brandee's and Jim's Travel Tips

1) Jim and Cade had spent big chunks of the previous two days away from the rest of our family. I think it's worth saying: the point of vacation is for everyone to have a good time. Time together is important but, in my opinion, doesn't need to be constant. We're (obviously) a family of six with a nine-year age gap just between Child #1 and Child #2, and the little kids' and my idea of a good time isn't necessarily across the board. Jim and Cade had hung out with Dave, also visited a place called Enchanted Castle. (Jim had bought a last-minute Groupon.) Jim had also visited a casino (for the first time since Clementine was born) while the rest of us slept and had come back to the hotel room $525 richer. I'm just sharing in an "it is what it is" kind of way. I told him: if he couldn't own it via my blog, he shouldn't have done it. The extra $525 was nice.

2) The zoo pictures reminded me: we didn't use a cargo carrier or luggage rack at all, on our trip, which is to say: we fit six people, a large cooler, two cots, an umbrella stroller, Chip's blue sit-up seat, enough clothing for eight days, etc. in our minivan. Part of our strategy was to use duffle bags instead of (more rigid) suitcases. Jim and Cade had separate duffles for their clothing. I tried something new and packed gallon-sized Ziplocs in the huge duffle I shared with the little kids: each with one outfit per little kid, plus a diaper for Chip. This worked out nicely because I like to color-coordinate somewhat, also because--if I wanted--I could simply grab a Ziploc and an outfit for myself and leave the huge duffle in the minivan. I also took to carrying one Ziploc of clothing in my diaper bag for emergencies. It wasn't a perfect system, but I'll do it (or something like it) again.

After the girls played in the splash section of the zoo, I went to change them and realized that Charleigh had already used her spare pairs of underbritches and shorts. The shorts she's wearing in the last photo are Chip's (size 6 Months): can you believe it?! They're a little hoochie mama on her, but, hey, I'm glad I had them!


  1. I'm sorry I have been AWOL Brandee and not saying much but I've been following your vacation and just have to say how I enjoying "travelling" with you..even if I've just been a "fly on the wall"

    I love your photos..they just oooze joy. I so need that right now as I drag myself through winter...figuratively and literally!

    1. Jim and I were JUST talking about that the other night--no kidding--while I was planning our trip to NZ. I was telling him we need to visit during our winter. I give it two years, tops. We're totally coming.

  2. this BY FAR is the most enjoyable blog post from your vacation for me on many levels..........the tips, the casino, the photos, the OZ sculptures and I need to hear more about your ziplock strategies and I miss you guys terribly , just saying

  3. oh and the polar bear and the coutry/city mouse references too.... the whole thing made me smile and kinda want to go north (for a minute)

  4. Brandee, this looks like so much fun! We need to take more vacations. Blessings to you and yours!

  5. Your children look so happy and adorable. They just emit so much joy in these photos.