This time we decided to try a few new stops. Since we usually go to the Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park (it's in a very cool building, hard to resist the butterflies and Thursdays are free), we decided to check out the Children's Museum at Navy Pier. It was a nice museum, but I have to say I was a little disappointed in the quantity and quality of displays. We have amazing children's museum right in town and having been to Cosi in Toledo and the Exploratorium in San Fransisco, I was expecting something bigger from Chicago - especially for the $23 parking fee and $45 admission for five.
For Christmas, instead of exchanging gifts under the tree Sam and I do stockings. The two rules are the gifts must not exceed the predetermined dollar amount and they must fit in the stocking. This year amongst the gifts in my stocking was a card with the details of the 3 day trip he had planned to Chicago. Although it blew the spending limit, it did fit in the stocking.
In addition to visiting at every bathroom on the Magnificent Mile, our trip to the city was filled with many of our usual stops like Gino's for Chicago style pizza, Chicago dogs, Frontera for tamales, the Corner Bakery for the raisin bread crisps - seems we are a bit food obsessed doesn't it?
We also made it to the Lego store another can't miss in our family.
The second day, Spencer and I headed out on an adventure while Sam stayed with Owen and Laney back to the hotel for naptime. Our destination was the Art Institute of Chicago. Unfortunately, that happened to be the day of the big storm. The weather was miserably cold, the wind was blowing and we were getting slammed with hail and snow, oh and we had a 1.2 mile walk. At one point, with his jacket zipped to the top, Spencer pulled his hat over his eyes and I led him with one hand and protected my face from the ferocious hail with the other. In hindsight, we should have taken a cab, but it was one of those situations where I kept thinking it was just up one more block. Anyway, as we approached the museum we discover a line, a long line, outside - in the snow. By this time, our feet were wet and coats were saturated. I didn't have a hat and the neck of my coat was filled with snow. We decided to wait in the line and see how fast it was moving. It was one of those lines that just as you were about to give up there would be a big advance and hope would be restored. We waited for at least 45 minutes and made it though the door, only to find that after the ticket line, we had to get into another line to check our coats. Not one complaint from Spencer the entire time though. We unzipped Spencer's dry fleece lining from his wet coat, turned it over to the clerk and headed into the museum.
It was magical and a day I will never forget. We walked around the museum hand in hand looking at the marble sculptures, famous paintings, furniture and talking about the different styles and artists. After an hour or so, we took a break in the cafe to refuel and decide what we really wanted to see in the time we had left. As we were sitting there, in between bites of his giant Oreo parfait, Spencer said that this was the best time he had ever had in Chicago. Not only was it validating, but at that moment I almost forgot that shoes were still wet and my toes numb. Spencer had found a small picture of a painting with a train on the museum map and decided that that was what he wanted to see.
We walked into that wing of the museum and he instantly recognizes a Picasso from playing Mr. Picasso Head. We wandered into another room and from there he saw the train painting - appropriately named Time Transfixed - and before I knew it he was off. He loved the painting even more in person. After taking it in, he found another Magritte nearby and instantly started to laugh. I showed him some of the Dali's, but, for him, it was the Magrittes. He loved them.
After pulling him away from the surrealist room, we wandered on to see some more Picasso's - he likes those too, just not as well.
The next stop, some of my favorites: Rodin, Van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec and by that time, we needed to go because we were meeting Sam, Owen and Laney for dinner at Frontera. We were able to squeeze in one more look at the Magritte and, as we were walking out to get our coats, Spencer said, "Mom, this was well worth the wait".
We stopped in the gift store to pick up a book on Magritte. You would have thought I just bought him a toy because when the man handed him the weather safe double bagged book, he was ready to open it up and have a look right then and there. As we waited for Sam and the kids in the restaurant, Spencer opened up his bag and looked though his new book, again, laughing. Crazy kid.
Hey Spencer, it was the best day I have ever had in Chicago too!