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- The Grove is a really cool place to hang out with children whilst near the Chicago temple. We headed up there this weekend and while Neil was in the temple, the kiddos and I wandered around the walking trails looking at the buildings and counting wildlife (we saw a deer, a raccoon, ducks, and a wild turkey. Not bad!) We actually arrived after the buildings were closed for the day, but I'm excited to go back another time and do more exploring!
- I think we've outgrown staying in a single hotel room. I'll spare you the details, but the girls fell asleep around 10 pm and Isaac around 12:30 am. Yikes. We've been going up to the temple overnight for years (ever since a very wise stake president counseled our stake to focus on temple worship rather than temple attendance; going up overnight was one of the things that we felt we could do at that time to reduce the stress level and make it a more enjoyable process for everyone, but...as I said, it's now to the point where it's becoming stressful again. Any advice from older/wiser readers on how to continue our temple trips in a way that is conducive to a wonderful experience? We are about 3 hours from the nearest temple (4-5 in traffic) and we try to go at least every other month. Seriously, any advice would be much appreciated!)
- The Field Museum is much cooler than the Adler Planetarium. We spent almost 6 hours at the Field Museum before we felt like we'd exhausted all of the exhibits we really love to revisit (my favorite, as always, is Egypt; Abigail is particularly partial to the Grainger Hall of Gems, both of which we've focused on for learning days the past two weeks). So since we have an annual membership to our local science museum that gets us into museums around the country for free, we decided to head over to Adler--where we've never been--for the remaining two hours before the museum campus closed down. Seriously, I was so disappointed! There was one cool exhibit ("Planet Explorers"--especially the part where you walk through "space") that our kids enjoyed, and the rest of it was pretty bland, plus the staff was much more focused on guiding around people who were considering having their weddings/receptions/whatnot there than they were in assisting museum patrons. At one point, one of the docents told us that we could no longer use the elevator (with our stroller) because they needed it to set up a dinner occurring that evening (this was two hours before closing). I assume that if we'd paid the extra $60 to go to one of the shows, we probably would have liked it better (but probably not $60 worth of better).
- We exited the planetarium and saw 8 wedding parties (!!) taking photos with the Chicago skyline in the backdrop (pictured above). Easily the best view of the skyline I've ever seen, and I could suddenly understand why the planetarium was cashing in on this (still irritated, but whatever). So. If you want to get a really amazing picture of the skyline, walk out to the very end of the promontory by the planetarium and clamber down to the concrete and snap away.
- Isaac loves seagulls. We spent half an hour or so down by the lakefront in front of the planetarium just watching Isaac and Jules chase the seagulls back and forth. It was positively idyllic (oh camera, camera, you need to be replaced pronto).
- It is a 4.25-mile roundtrip walk from the planetarium over to Millennium Park and back, via the Corner Bakery on Michigan Avenue (where we ate dinner, yum yum yum), the Millennium Park fountains (where we let the kids play and they got COMPLETELY soaked, but due to the fact that nobody had gotten filthy enough to need the extra clothes I'd packed earlier in the day, everyone mostly had dry clothes to change into (Juliet had to wear my cardigan, and she was somewhat indignant over the fact that the buttons started near her navel). I think the kiddiwinks had the time of their lives. Then we walked over to the Bean and the kids went crazy laughing at their funny reflections, and Isaac entertained us by dancing to the music of a nearby band, and then we waltzed past Buckingham Fountain and caught the very end of the hourly water extravaganza. It was a really lovely evening (thankfully it cooled off nicely) and I was so impressed that the kids managed all that walk/hike/exercise in endurance AFTER going around the museums all day (we did have a stroller wherein we traded people in and out as their feet got tired). We had a lovely time strolling along Michigan Avenue, walking through the Art Institute and Millennium Park gardens, and craning our necks back to see the tops of the skyscrapers (Luke in particular was fascinated with the buildings). It was really delightful.
- We learned that if we wear our kids out this excessively, everyone falls asleep in the car, wakes up on arrival at home, goes into their room, puts on pajamas, and goes uncomplainingly to bed. AWESOME. Now how do I replicate a similarly easy bedtime every day?
- And last but not least, this officially wraps up my gone-every-Friday-night for the last four weeks tour of extravagant fun. It's going to be weird to have a whole week at home--I'm already feeling a little jittery! Must plan fun thing now!
And seriously...can I get some temple advice? How do you do this with your family? I really would love to know!