Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sisterly adventures

 When we were on our way home from the Smokies, I got a call from my sister Mary Beth. "Hey!" she said. "I'm getting a promotion and relocating to Chicago. Can you come meet me this weekend and help me figure out the city?"

"Of course!" I said. Then I checked my texts. I had one from my sister Rosalind: "Can we come visit next week?" And I texted back, "Of course!"

And my dad is arriving tomorrow. :-) It's been a fun week full of family!

Right about the time that I finished up all of the vacation laundry, it was time to stuff some clean clothes in a backpack that still smelled like campfire smoke and head to Chicago (true story: 24 minutes before departure time was when I started packing. Soooo much easier without the kids/camping/etc.!).

I was actually really proud of myself because this was the first time I have ever driven all the way to Chicago 100% by myself. I successfully navigated all the crummy traffic and road closures and GPS dying and cell phone dropping calls to Neil asking for directions due to the dead GPS and fun things like that, and managed to get to the temple right before the very last session started (good thing I left myself an extra 1.5 hours for traffic, because it was AWFUL!!!). Then after the temple session I drove to O'Hare and picked up Mary Beth. We got to our hotel on the Loop around midnight and fell asleep after a few hours of laughing and talking. It was so great to see her!!

The next morning I got up and went for an 8-mile run along the river and lakeshore. It was so beautiful! I actually took this photo at sunset but it pretty much looked the same 12 hours earlier. :-) I did one of my favorite loops out past the planetarium and as always loved running in the dark coolness near the river underneath the bridges, exploding out into the early-morning sunshine of the harbor, and feeling the wind on the peninsula buffeting me as I looped around the Field, Shedd, and Adler. Love love love my Chicago town. :-) 

Then Mary Beth and I started on our epic walking tour of Chicago--we did have to stop on Michigan Avenue to hit Wow Bao! and check out the new models in the LEGO store, but then we went over to Wrigleyville and figured out various train routes and explored neighborhoods (the photo a little earlier was while we were sitting on the platform waiting for our train and I was eating my breakfast yogurt 4 hours later, while Mary Beth made discouraging noises about food poisoning).
Like my super stylish (not!) city outfit? I'm still wearing my running shoes everywhere these days since my feet hurt like the dickens otherwise. Dratted plantar fasciitis!

We did a lot of city exploration (7.5 miles by foot, in fact!) and then ended up walking along the river again after dinner. Sooo beautiful! And I was so tired by the end of the day that I pretty much collapsed into bed. I went home the next morning joyfully rejoicing in the fact that my dear Mary Beth will live near me soon!

 Less than 48 hours later, I was happily greeting Rosalind, her husband Chris, and their darling little Adelaide! My kids have been dying to meet "Baby Addie" for months and they were soooo thrilled to finally get to cuddle her and play with her! Nathan especially was super cute with her and I loved watching the two of them play. Addie is dainty and delicate but she has a mighty personality and is just a bundle of delight!

We stayed up waaaay late talking and laughing the first night--it was so great to see them! I got to see Rosalind and Mary Beth last October, but Neil hasn't seen either Rosalind or Chris since Elise's wedding two years ago (and I haven't seen Chris either since he was deployed in the Middle East when I was in Utah last fall). So it was really great to get to reconnect with them! They also brought us some super indulgent and yummy desserts from one of our favorite pastry shops (it was right by us the summer that we lived in Michigan) and we had a great time devouring those.

The next morning we got all the big kids off to school and then packed up the three littles to go hiking! We had amazing hiking weather--unexpectedly cold! Doesn't Addie look like the cutest little snuggle bug in her bunting?

Since Rosalind and I were the ones who were in charge of our picnic, it was awesome. :-) Two kinds of baguettes, cranberry Wensleydale, pumpkin Gouda, two kinds of sausages, apples, Oreos, and Pringles (mostly to bribe Luke to keep walking). Yummy!

I can't ever get over how beautiful this terrain is! The lighting is terrible for my little point-and-shoot, but boy is it beautiful in person. This is the trail, btw. :-)

Loved watching these two dads navigate the waterfall with babies strapped on!

Rosalind wasn't quite sure about the series of ladders at first, but she was very brave and did a great job!

My gorgeous little sister and her cute family (note: she made me retake the photo because Chris wasn't smiling enough in the first one. I think he gave up in the second, but the first one ended up being blurry so Stoic Chris it is!). Rosalind is ten years younger than I am, so we weren't super close growing up since she was only eight when I left for college. It's really fun to reconnect as adults and friends who are now in a similar stage in life!

My grumpy little buddy. He would only smile if I made a weird face first, so I look totally bizarre in these photos, but he's adorable!

Duck-beaked little Adelaide, with the help of a Pringle...

So Neil and Chris talked with great passion and at great length throughout the whole visit about how they would prepare for a pandemic/zombie apocalypse/breakdown of government. Pretty much every chance they got they were comparing thoughts on growing food/providing heat/creating sub-governments, etc. I think at this point they were discussing how quickly one could dismantle the suspension bridge, presumably to ward off zombie invaders.

 When we got back to the nature center we found the cutest little chair on which we had to pose darling little Adelaide...

...and then we spent a good fifteen minutes sitting next to the copperhead's tank watching to see if he would eat the mouse running around the tank (he didn't). And then we headed home, and had dinner, and Rosalind and I went to Activity Days while the guys made cookies and puppy chow, and then we came home and stayed up too late again talking and laughing and eating. So much fun to see two of my far-flung sisters who are now not going to be so far-flung, since Rosalind and Chris are moving to this side of the country as well!!! Hip hip hurray, the tide is turning my way!!

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