Let's see if I can recap some of our summer. I'll try to be brief in my descriptions, as there is so much to see, but as any of my friends know, I am not known for my brevity. Apologies in advance to Gillian.
A day at the races. We were merely spectators, but we did get to hang with the VW crew and eat some VW themed waffles. Yum.
We stopped by the Retro on Roscoe street fair, where we saw lots of old cars. Max and Otto have been really interested in cars lately, which is so interesting, since it was something Max seemed to really love when he was young but then had been put aside for a number of years. We had a sizable matchbox car collection by the time Max was two. At the time, we felt our apartment was too small for almost any other toy, and we gladly collected those, filling up boxes with them, covering the floor with them in a "parking lot," racing them around the halls. That was long before we realized we would fill our entire apartment with toys of all sizes, that we would move the records and books and other things we had previously collected and replace them with Legos and Playmobile and costumes and Kapla blocks and Star Wars action figures.
But I digress. Max has become completely fascinated by "old" cars and their logos (especially noting how the logos evolve over time). He draws pictures of cars, he invents his own cars (complete with logos). So of course, a street fair which featured cars from the 50s and 60s was a high priority.
There was also a Lincoln Logs display there, which the kids found very appealing. We have them at home too, but I think they are lost in all the other clutter and mostly forgotten. It was fun to spend some time under the tent, talking with the lovely volunteer from the Chicago History Museum while the kids made cabins.
Summer in Chicago means lots of street fairs, and while I generally don't really like them (they all seem to be the same, no matter what theme might be, for instance, aside from the cars at Retro on Roscoe, there was nothing retro about it, there was the same food and stands that you see at any street fair). But the Milwaukee Arts Fest was in our very own neighborhood and was hard to avoid. There was art on the street.
We went out to a suburban park to go to a blog party, the first I've ever heard of and most certainly the first I've ever attended. The writer of a food blog called Food Loves Writing decided it would be kind of fun to meet some of her readers, and she organized a party. There were twinkly lights strung in the pavilion, white tablecloths, pretty bottles of homemade mint lemonade, cookbook giveaways, cookie decorating, a full menu and lots of kind people.
We got there a bit early and rode our bikes along the beautiful trails there. Unfortunately, Max had a major wipe out and scraped up his arm and torso pretty badly. We did have a first aid kit in the car and fixed him up nicely, but it was sort of a sad way to end our time in the forest.
The other totally cool thing that happened there is that as we were standing in line to get into the coal mine exhibit, I suddenly heard a voice from behind us say, "Are you Otto?" And we turned around to see Anna Kiss, writer of the blog Sugar Boot and Weasel, my online friend who happened to be visiting Chicago that week from Ohio. I had seen on her Facebook page that she was planning to see the Harry Potter exhibit, which is at the MSI, but I had no idea which day/time she would be there, and even if we had planned to be there at the same time, I think the chances of bumping into each other are slim, given the size of the museum, so the fact that we actually were standing in line for the same exhibit at the same time was pretty remarkable. So remarkable, I suppose, that I didn't even think to take a photo of the two of us together in the same space and time. We were so busy talking, and of course, I liked her as much as I already knew I would. Alas, we will just have to meet again by some great coincidence, or more likely, with a bit of planning.
The boys quite liked the coal exhibit, even though Max is currently against elevators in general—we had to take an elevator "down to the depths of the mine," and we also got to ride in a rail car, which felt a bit "enclosed" to him, but looking back, he remembers it as all being pretty cool. They got to hold a piece of coal.
My cousin Keith and his kids Brady and Spencer visited last week, and we had a busy week with them as well, going to the Shedd Aquarium, the Lincoln Park Zoo and Millennium Park, three very busy days. The boys had a great time together and were all completely exhausted each night. Brady was very determined to see EVERYTHING at each place we went, which was quite different from our more laid back approach to these sorts of things. We had to split up a couple of times so that they could zip through and see more! more! more! And it seemed those were the times I was most likely to get out my camera. Nevertheless, we all had fun together.
Brady is an animal lover, so very little about Millennium Park impressed him (where are the animals?). Max was at the other end of the spectrum, feeling he had seen enough animals in the last two days and was ready for something different. He got very nervous at the suggestion that we also visit the Brookfield Zoo. Everything in moderation, and enough was enough, he seemed to think. But I think everyone had a good time at The Bean.
We got completely soaked at the faces fountain in Millennium Park, but we had the foresight to bring a change of clothes, so we managed to have quite a bit more time running around downtown after the park, which is a first for me (we usually have to race home in our wet clothes, hailing down a sympathetic cab driver).
So there was time to walk the bridge up to the new modern wing of the Art Institute and try out one of their more comfortable couches.
Last weekend was the Air and Water Show, and we decided not to brave the crowds at the beach this year. Instead, we went to Martin's friend's house for a rooftop party and watched as some of the planes roared overhead on their way to the lake. It was still pretty impressive.
The boys were hot and bored, however, after the planes were done (and, sadly, before the pig was), so we left the shindig shortly after the air show ended.
Not before we played a quick game of foosball, however.
We stopped at the park, got soaked in the sprinklers, covered in sand from the sand box and figured that was pretty much the expected end to the day. Otto was very serious about his hopscotching here.
We went to Lula for brunch on Sunday (heck, we went there numerous times this month, it's the food we missed most while we were away), but after breakfast this day, the boys weren't quite ready to go, and we sat in the trunk of the car and read Calvin and Hobbes before we set off on our next adventure.
And that adventure: the Botanic Garden, where there was a Japanese festival, as well as a Bonsai display.
Max and Otto have also been very interested in other countries, their languages, their flags, their locations on the globe. They are especially interested in languages which use different characters, such as Japanese or Chinese. So this was definitely a good event for them.
We recently watched The Karate Kid (they were more interested in the old cars than the karate at first, but by the movie's end, I think they were pretty interested in it all), so we talked a bit about the bonsai trees that Mr. Miagi was cutting and picked out our own favorites from the many bonsai trees on display.
Speaking of 80s movies, we also watched Back to the Future. Yet another cool car for Max to consider, and the fact that most of the story was set in the 50s was fun. We need to look into some good period movies so he can get a glimpse of what life was like in different times. He recently wondered what it might have looked like on our street when our house was first built (1891). He thinks it would be cool to travel in time and see all these things for himself.
We have had lots of quiet days in the house too, sometimes dealing with the construction—big things are happening: a new door to access our second floor porch (we had previously crawled out the window), windows in previously dark stairways, new windows for our tenants, the framing is almost complete, the plumbing is in, the electrical work is almost done...we are just awaiting some inspections and we can start dry-walling. Yippee!
We have been experiencing a dress-up revival (inspired by Spencer and Brady, who were very interested in all the helmets hiding under the dining room table).
There were trips to some of our favorite haunts, such as Lincoln Square, where we feasted on delicious hot crisp pizza at Pizza D.O.C. and added that to the (growing) list of places we want to take our Canadian friends when they visit in the fall.
We've spent long afternoons in the sandbox or at the park reading Harry Potter (we're halfway through The Chamber of Secrets right now), and we watched all of the movies again, in preparation for seeing The Half Blood Prince, which everyone really liked (we did not find this one to be scary at all, despite reports to the contrary—it was the first one we had seen in the actual theatre, so I was a bit nervous that we would not be able to pause or stop or fast forward). We are all anxious to read and read and get to the last book so we can all find out what happens after the ending from The Half Blood Prince. That's quite a goal, we realize.
Now that we've seen the movie, they boys are anxious to return to the MSI's exhibit on Harry Potter, which we saw when it first opened. We are holding out a couple more weeks until school is back in session and the museums will be much less crowded. Our recent trips to all the museums/zoos/aquarium reminded me of how lucky we are to be able to visit these attractions when they are not crowded.
And speaking of our Harry Potter craze, we spent one rainy day at the Shultz house, watching three back-to-back Harry Potter movies, hooking them sufficiently on the series. We got there in time for waffles and stayed all the way through to ordering pizza for dinner. Kelly was an amazing hostess, as she was not only entertaining us, but also a neighborhood friend who had spent the previous night. Kelly has unexpected amounts of resources, ranging from food to patience, and I always love to be with her, to witness how she so calmly addresses every situation and generally just rolls with it. We all feel very lucky to have that family as our friends.
We've spent really hot days in the movie theatre, avoiding the heat of our own apartment.
The boys continue to take their birds (Max with his Lorakeet, Otto with his Puffin) EVERY place we go. It has been so fascinating to see them attached to a specific thing. We notice that it is Max who is really attached, finding it critical to have that bird with him everywhere. He will make sure Otto has his Puffin, and if Otto doesn't feel like carrying it, Max will carry it for him. They have been dunked in the ocean, the lake, the sandbox, buried in the back yard, they have been washed and dried and sewn up when they have holes. They slide in the park, they sit on top of the grocery "car cart," they are the stars of many photos. They look so worn and well loved.
It has been a full and wonderful summer, and it's not over yet. But at least this blog post is. Hee hee. Off to have more fun.