I took Avila to Chicago for her first trip this past weekend. We went from Friday, March 11 through Sunday, March 13th. This trip was about 5 months in the making – if not longer. I purchased a Stephen Amell VIP pass just before Christmas and we gave her the ticket for her 4th birthday. I explained to her how we were going to go meet “Casey Jones, the Green Arrow” as she calls Stephen Amell (since those are the two major roles he plays and Avila noticed as much in the TMNT2 trailer and was beyond excited). She was really excited to meet him, and we had decided she was going to wear a Casey Jones and Green Arrow crossover costume.
Anyway, we also purchased a CityPass to go to the museum, aquarium, and planetarium. Those three places were the most important to visit to her, so I told myself to just let her go at her own pace.
The morning of Friday, March 11th finally rolled around and I woke Avila up at my mom’s, where the kids and I stayed because of Matt working so early in the morning and Avila and I leaving at 7am. We drove the 3+ hours to the city of Chicago and parked at Soldier Field as my Uncle Steve had instructed (he’s from Chesterton, IN which is an hour away and his wife’s brother lives in the city).
Avila and I walked to Shedd Aquarium first and only had to wait about 15 minutes until they opened, since about twenty minutes into the journey I remembered the time zone change. We skipped the line and went right to will call to pick up the CityPass and map. I let Avila lead the way and take as little or much time as she wanted as she peered into each tank.
From 9am CT until 12pm we were at the aquarium. Avila started whining and wanted a hot dog so we went out and over to the Field Museum of Natural History to view the T-Rex fossils.
We walked around for a bit, Avila held a T-Rex tooth, she looked over some different antlers, and decided to make our way up to the second floor and visit the Sue Store and made a few purchases. She started whining about half way through the Asian bears exhibit when we went back downstairs so we made our way back down to the bottom level, in which we came from and hit up the Underground Adventure exhibit on our way out. It was pretty interesting and Avila didn’t have any sort of sensory overload meltdowns either, which is always a plus. We went outside and got some hot dogs, chips, and Avila-safe pop and ate our food as we made our way back across the street, through the park, and back through the parking garage at Soldier Field. Avila whined some more that her feet hurt and I put her on my shoulders just after we crossed the street and she was nearly ran over by a Segway Tours guide and her group. I sat her in her car seat and called my mother, to check in with her and texted Matt an update. Avila sat quietly as she watched Max and Ruby on the DVD player in the van and ate her lunch. I charged my phone, finished my food, and contemplated our next moves. I reorganized my purse and our bag of souvenirs as I waited for Avila to see what she wanted to do next. It was around 1pm local time (so 2pm at home) and we talked to Matt as he was picking Iris and Jensen up from Grandma Bea’s house at 1:30pm Ct (2:30pm at home).
I asked Avila if she wanted to go to the hotel now, or if she wanted to go to the planetarium and of course she was game to go to Adler Planetarium. As soon as we got to the park spot after leaving the parking garage, Avila said she couldn’t walk. I hoisted her up on my shoulders as I silently cursed myself for not bringing Jensen’s single red umbrella stroller with us. I lugged Avila’s 50 lb. butt on my shoulders across the street, pass the museum, pass the aquarium, across the street, and down to the end of the road to Adler Planetarium, and up the steps. My extremely out-of-shape self nearly collapsed (perhaps that was my lungs?) as I took her off my shoulders and she happily danced her way inside to exchange our CityPass for admission tickets. We were just in time for the 1:45pm show and we got seats in the front and Avila kept asking when it’d start. About five minutes into the show I had her sit on my lap and she curled up and slept for the remainder of the show. Afterward, we sat there until the staff made me leave, and I woke her up and we went exploring.
Adler was by far our favorite stop and it was definitely worth the trek we made to get there. I would absolutely carry her heavy butt any distance to bring her there again; she absolutely loved it and it was definitely worth it. We looked around in the room with more information on the planets, and even had a to-scale planets hanging up, with more info on the planets. Avila’s favorite planet is Mercury because it’s the hottest, so I made sure to snap a picture and we went to the Children’s Explorer part. Avila spent the next three hours just playing in all the different areas of the kids’ part and I loved watching her run around, press buttons, pretend to be an astronaut, and inform me of facts she’s learned about the planets. She had me read every sign to her, although there were ones I know she read first. Anyway, we played there for awhile and I had to forcibly remove her from the premises because we had at least an hour drive ahead of us now back to the hotel.
I carried her back down the steps, down the street, through the park, through the parking garage, and only let her down once we reached the van. I even made her ride the elevator on my shoulders. She was mad at me and she likes to dart off and doesn’t listen and has no sense of danger so I wasn’t taking any chances. I put her in her seat, gave her a snack and her Ninja Turtles blanket and informed my mom and Matt we were heading to the hotel. I GPSed the address and we made our way out and to the village of Rosemont. There was construction on the highway we had to use, but it was nothing compared to the outpouring of people that were on their way (luckily in the opposite direction) to the Trump rally and I was glad we were getting far away from that mess. Later I’d find out it was shut down and I was still glad we were no where near that mess of traffic, people, and idiocrisy.
We got to Embassy Suites in Rosemont about an hour and a half later, and we got up to our room. I showered and Avila called room service, and ordered herself chicken fingers. I got on the phone and okayed the purchased and ordered myself some chicken quesadillas and was happy we didn’t have to go searching for a bunch of stuff.
I decided we should go pick up our badges and passes for tomorrow’s FanFest early and we made our way out and around to the convention center, via the pedestrian overpass. I wasn’t paying attention too well on my way in so once we got the passes and our bands for the next day, we went to leave. We made a right instead of a left and Avila started complaining her legs hurt. I was starting to get frustrated that I’d have to carry her on my shoulders again, as I wandered in circles, lost and getting late at night. A woman and her younger son was coming back towards me and said, “Nope, wrong way, this doesn’t go back to the parking garage!” I sighed and hoisted Avila on my shoulders. I explained I was headed back to the same place and could I just follow them around at least please? She agreed, and we headed back. We had to go to the same hotel and we finally made it to the parking garage. They went ahead and went down to the ground floor to go back to their room and Avila and I got in our car and rook it to get gas and hopefully pizza.
Well, we got into the Mobil gas station and instead of trying to navigate and make a bunch of left turns in the dark on busy and unfamiliar roads we went through the McDonald’s drive-thru that was next to the gas station, and went back to the hotel. We parked for the night, changed into pajamas, and we called my mom and Matt both, to let them know we were safe in our room for the night. I set my alarm, and made sure all my extra batteries and phone were charging and I crawled into the bed, to snuggle my fast-growing baby, and fell asleep quickly.