April 13, 2014

Breaking for Spring.

We've known for a few months that our daycare was going to be closed during spring break but because Jon lost his job we had to put our family vacation on hold.  Well he accepted a job offer last Friday so at the last minute we decided it would be okay to spend some of our tax return on a trip to Chicago.

We left the house Wednesday morning headed for the Lincoln Park Zoo which is a FREE zoo in Chicago about two miles long right in the heart of downtown. We saw all the farm animals and all the exotic ones too, an amazingly awesome zoo at no cost.  They do charge $30.00 to park but of course my husband made us park down the street for $15.00 - he refuses to every pay full price unless it's life or death.

We saw all the big names and the weather was perfect, our first beautiful day of the year at nearly seventy degrees!  When we got to the gorilla section we found out it was the very first day they had let the moms and babies outdoors and we were all mesmerized by them!

The great big male gorilla was running around protecting the moms (he fathered all the babies) and it was so interesting to watch.  When we went inside we got an up close and personal glimpse at the little baby which was awesome.  I think the zoo keeper said they stay with mom and nurse for two years, just like a human baby.

Before we left I stopped some girls and asked them to take a family photo, thankfully because we didn't get another one the entire trip.  There is a little baby on the mommy gorilla's lap and Haylee is holding the baby's hand...but it makes it look like daddy is sniffing her butt!

On our way out we passed a carousel which of course the kids wanted to ride.  Sadly neither of my kids need a rider anymore because they are big enough to go on their own.

Our last stop of the afternoon was the gift shop.  Both their grandma's laid some spending money on them so they were itching to buy something.  Haylee picked out a sparkly pink hippo right away and Ryan decided on a rubber snake.  I nearly died when he told the cashier he didn't want a bag and then whispered in my ear "it was probably made in China."  {anytime they buy little junky toys that break the first time they play it Jon tells them that is because it was made in China}

After just a few minutes Ryan concluded he made the wrong choice because his snake kept curling up and he wanted it to straighten out, so he decided he wasn't spending one more dollar of his money.  Now that our trip is over I swear I will always give the kids a set amount of money beforehand so they can choose to spend it how they want, when they feel like it's their own money and there is an end to what they can spend they are far more careful about what they buy and I don't have to hear "mom can I have..." the entire time because when it's their money they can have, but once it's gone it's gone!

{pouting on the way back to the car made him walk too slow}

After the zoo we continued on our trip about an hour past Chicago to a water park called Key Lime Cove.   We found a Groupon online for 50% off a night's say so instead of the $350.00 Great Wolf Lodge wanted, we scored our room and water park passes for $150.00!

We spent the evening at the water park with no phones/camera and had a great time.  We did water slides, a wave pool, lazy river and then let the kids go off on their own in the kiddie park.  The first dark twisty slide I took Haylee on was her last...I'm guessing all mom's screaming scared her off of them for the rest of our stay!

{the girls bed ~ no boys allowed}

After traveling all day and then spending a few hours in the water, we decided to get some grub and then relax in the room for the rest of the night.  The kids watched a cartoon while Jon and David were on their computers and I think I actually dozed off.

The kids woke up early and the water park didn't open until nine so I took them downstairs to explore.  We found an arcade and guess who wanted to break off some of their moldy money?  I normally hate taking the kids to arcades because it's such a waste of money but for twenty bucks a piece the kids rode rides for over an hour and not cheap rides either...the Indy cars shook back and forth while they were driving, there were motorcycles and wave runners that did the same. 

There was an interactive roller coaster where you watched the ride on the screen and the chair went back and forth, up and down to make you feel like you were really on the roller coaster. They even had a mini bowling alley and we all enjoyed ourselves for over an hour before stopping in for breakfast and and then headed to the water park again.

{she never put her sparkly pink hippo down}

Instead of going back into the water I decided to take some pictures instead, when we walked in the pineapple was just about to dump water in the kiddie park and the two little ones ran as fast as they could to get drenched.

The next time I made their brother go in with them, despite his objections.

Can I take off on a tangent here for a minute?  Life with a fourteen year old boy a lot of times makes you want to throw yourself off a bridge into oncoming traffic...I know I could never have been as annoying when I was his age, right?  How many times did we have to wait for him once his hair had gotten wet...first the hair dryer, then some dry shampoo followed by a dab of gel and top it off with hairspray.  The boy has more hair product in his overnight bag than he has clothes.

Checkout time was eleven o'clock so we asked the kids what they wanted to do on our way back home and everyone wanted to go into Chicago to spend their remaining loot and because this was an hour back in the direction of home,  I knew Jon was secretly planning to sleep in his own bed later that night.

We parked and then started off down Michigan Street which is the main shopping hub.  When passing by a couple police officers Ryan asked Jon if one of their vests was bulletproof so Jon made him march up and ask.  They were nice and gave the kids a Jr. Officer sticker and took a photo with them.

The streets of Chicago are lined with people playing music, singing, doing tricks...anything they can do to make money, everyone else is simply begging for it.  This guy reeled us in by making balloon animals for the kids so he got a few bucks in the hat.

The first place we stopped was the Disney Store so the kids could spend some of their money and they had a great time walking around checking everything out, knowing they would leave the store with a bag of their own.  Haylee picked out a princess dress (of course) and a matching purse.  Ryan chose a box of soldier action figures.

{thanks again for grandmas}

Once the kids had a chance to do some shopping, it was David's turn and he had a list of places he wanted to go...all the places a person with filet mignon taste goes, even though they only have a hamburger budget.

{Ralph Lauren}

{wooing the lady at the jewelry counter}

The kids and I waited in the glass enclosed lobby looking in on Jon, David, the salesman and two security guards when Haylee accidentally popped her balloon and inside our glass enclosure it totally sounded like a gun went off.  I'm surprised one wasn't pulled on us.


We couldn't leave Michigan Avenue without stopping at one final store, Fannie Mae Chocolates!  Everyone got to pick out one thing and nothing for the road (mostly because I would have had no rest until I had every last bit of it in my face).

By this time it was only about 3:00 on our second day of traveling and Jon had already made comments about "if we do everything we want to do today then there is no reason to spend another night in a hotel, I will drive the three hours home tonight."

So I said I wanted to do one more thing but unfortunately it was about a mile and a half walk away and we had already been walking three hours.  Somehow Jon agreed with the stipulation we would not be wasting any money on a cab, and surprisingly the kids agreed to keep walking.

The GPS took us way out of our way and we ended up walking further than we should have but eventually made it to Sears Tower which is the tallest building in Chicago.

We saw the entire city and the kids picked out lots of interesting things, like buildings with grass and gardens on top of them.  We ended our visit on the sky deck which is a glassed in box which extends out off the building so when you look down, you are looking directly at city traffic.  David and Haylee had no problem just walking out onto the platform but Ryan basically had to be dragged. 

We packed quite a bit into two days and although we had a few "moments" we all agreed that the kids didn't fight much, dad didn't yell much and I made sure everyone got to do something they wanted to do and took pictures of their smiling faces along the way. 


River said...

It looks like a great holiday, you packed in so much!
Are my eyes deceiving me or is David taller than Jon?
Love Haylee's pink hippo and the gorillas are beautiful. I love gorillas.

Amy said...

Glad you made the most of spring break. I see you in a cute swimsuit. Can't wait to see your new body in a cute swimsuit at the lake!!

Sara said...

I am thinking of different ideas for a summer trip for the kids. I've been toying with coming to Michigan. We may have to work something out.