Monday, November 22, 2010

Being Grateful . . .

I am grateful for so many things this year! Here are just a few:

- of course, my wonderful family (immediate and extended)
- that Justin is done interviewing and won't be going out of town again any time soon
- to live in such a beautiful part of the country
- for the trucks and trains that keep Davis busy so I can have a little bit of peace in the day
- for the hugs and kisses from my children (and from Justin :)
- for down coats that keep us warm
- for snow (come soon please)
- for a knowledge of Jesus Christ and all that He means to us
- for good books to read and for kids that love to be read to
- for good food to eat and make
- for good health (except for the strep throat I have right now, but that will pass)
- for a warm place for my kids to sleep
- for chocolate (especially Lindt's sea salt dark)
- for parents who love us and our kids
- for good music and dance parties in our living room
- for wrestling matches
- for Sunday drives
- for mountains and beaches close by

Like I said, the list could go on and on. I'll save some for the next few days. What are you grateful for this year?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chicago - Final Day

Okay, we're coming to a close on the Chicago trip. When I stretch it out like this it seems like it was a lot longer than a week. The last day we were there I took a double decker tour and ended up back at the Museum Campus where I had been the day before so I could go to the Field Museum. The bus tour was great, the guide was super knowledgable and since I was the only one on the tour, except for about 4 minutes of it, I could ask all the questions I wanted. And I did. Surprise, surprise, I know.

I may look lonely on this bus all by myself but I was actually having a blast!
More Sears Tower, that thing is seriously tall. If you look really closely on the left side of the building you can see those little glass boxes I was standing in in the previous post.
Picture of Soldier Stadium as we drove by, this one's for my Bears Fan brothers!
The Field Museum was pretty incredible. They had the largest collection of taxidermied animals you could imagine. I didn't think I was so into taxidermied animals in general, but this was really something. We're talking elephants, giraffes, every sort of bird imaginable, armadillos . . . really everything. Like the zoo but better because they didn't move so you could really look at them.

This here is Sue the T-Rex. Sue is famous apparently because she is the largest, most extensive, and best preserved t-rex ever found. She was also auctioned off for over 8 million dollars, the most money ever spent for a dinosaur. She ended up in Chicago and this is me hanging out with her. She is pretty sweet.

This ended our last day in Chicago. Oh and we ate to-die-for seafood at Shaw's Crab house that night. It was a great way to end our trip! We made it home to our babies just in time, I was so ready to squeeze them! I don't think they much noticed that we were gone because they had so much fun with Grandma. She did take them to Baja Fresh and Taco Bell after all and they will love her forever for it!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicago - Day 4

Don't worry, we're getting close to the end here people.

I walked a few miles down the Magnificent Mile to get to the Shedd Aquarium. Maybe the best part of this day was that I got to skip this line that continued on way past this picture. I just walked to the Will Call line and gave them my GoChicago card and walked right in. Saved me about 2 hours in line. Love that! The aquarium was great. I missed the kids because I knew it was something they would have loved. There was the most gigantic python I ever could have imagined and I haven't stopped thinking about it since.
Right next to the Aquarium is the Planetarium. So, I hit a few star shows there. I met a really nice French couple and got to practice my French for a while. That was fun.

I was so tired after I walked back to the hotel but realized when I got there that I had an hour until Justin would be done so I walked over to the Sears (Willis Tower). This is one of the few things I remember doing in the city when we lived there when I was younger.
View from the top!

Last year they added these boxes that stick out from the building on the 90-somethingth floor. It was pretty trippy standing out there and seeing 100 floors worth of sky between you and the street!

Justin and I met up for dinner that night at a great Italian place that had the BEST scallops I have ever tasted, oh my, I'm still thinking about them daily!

We thought the girls would like this picture.
The Chicago theater
We couldn't pass up this photo op - perfect for the man whose life is about eyeballs these days!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Chicago - Day 3

Well, the good thing is that our trip was only 14 days so only 11 more to go . . . just kidding. This first picture is not the best but is to prove that we were actually there together :) We had a brunch with OHSU Alumni on top of the John Hancock building that morning but you can't tell from the picture how great the view was.

After the brunch we went on an Architecture River Tour. This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Because Justin actually got to come with me and because the architecture in Chicago is amazing. We learned so much and had such an amazing time. So much history in those buildings. We saw where Al Capone had his "furniture office", where the newer Batman movies were filmed, where Oprah works out. The list is really long. It was great.

The Chicago Tribune building. This was built for a contest to see who could build the most beautiful building in the world and this building won.

There's the Sears (now the Willis but they refuse to call it that) Tower peeking through there.

The "macaroni" sculpture

Trump tower - I actually really like this building
After the tour we walked to Millenium Park and this is us reflected in the Cloudgate (locally known as "the Bean") sculpture. This is where we always saw the most people congregated.
Can you find us in this one?
Shot up from under the Bean

Buckingham Fountain - we hung out here and watched the sun set - beautiful!
Another wonderful day in the Windy City!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Chicago - Day 2

Day 2 in Chicago . . . Justin was at conference all day again so I thought I would hit the Magnificent Mile and do some serious window shopping. Wow, I had heard about the Chicago shopping but it is really something. Every great store . . . super-sized. It was a great morning walking around, trying on clothes, and exercising serious self-control. In the afternoon I headed back to Navy Pier to do another lake cruise, this time on a tall ship. (Another thing included on my GoChicago card). It was another beautiful sunny day out on the lake.

View of Navy Pier from the boat
Tall Ship Windy
The Chicago skyline really is amazing

That night we met up with some of Justin's classmates from UCSF, some that we had gone to Ethiopia with. It was great to see them and catch up. We got sushi and then Justin and I stopped by the Ghirardelli store and ice cream shop on the way home. It was almost 11:00 at night and the place was packed! Did you hear me, 11:00 at night and we were stopping for ice cream, not worrying about hurrying home to relieve the babysitter. We shared this amazing dark chocolate wonder of an ice cream sundae. It was a little too rich for Justin but I thought it was great and could have had more. Tells a lot about my chocolate tolerance level.
Perfect way to end the day!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chicago - Day 1

So I realize that this next series of posts, describing in excruciating detail, our amazing, beautiful, off-the-charts trip to Chicago, will probably not be all that interesting to anyone but us. But I am self-indulgently going to recount all the details for my own sake so that I will never be tempted to forget this wonderful week. So feel free to tune out if you find this oh so boring!

Justin had yet another blessed conference last month. This time in Chicago. So, for the second time this year, we left all our kiddos in the care of beloved grandma (this time the Wilkinson one) and we headed out to the Midwest. Words cannot describe the fun I had on this trip. I think Justin had a really good time too and learned a lot of useful things in his meetings. I just think it might have been a different kind of fun than I had :) Before we left I bought the GoChicago card and this ended up being the best decision ever. It included pretty much every thing you could see or do in Chicago. And I did every single thing I could physically cram into each day. It saved a ton of money, not only on admission and ticket prices, but also because I didn't spend a lot of free time shopping on the Magnificent Mile. Just a little . . . I had to go into the 5 story Crate and Barrel and the 8 story Nordstorms, that would be a tragedy to miss. Our hotel was right on the Magnificent Mile, which was perfect because I could walk almost every place I went. I put in a lot of miles that week but then I could enjoy the deep dish pizza even more at the end of the day. And we had sunny beautiful weather EVERY DAY. It was a miracle. Okay, so . . . Day 1.

We started out the trip with this view of Mt. Hood. Oh, how I love my Oregon!

First thing I did on our first day was go to the top of the John Hancock building, directly across the street from our hotel. It is really tall! This is the view from the top.
Chicago's Gold Coast
Since I was sightseeing by myself, I had to ask a lot of strangers to take my picture!
The beautiful Wrigley Building, on of my favorites! Did you know that Wrigley started out selling baking soda and would give a pack of gum to anyone that bought some. He realized that everyone was buying it for the gum and decided that he should just start selling gum. Good move, eh?
My picture reflected in "the Bean" sculpture in Millenium Park.
I spent most of the first day at the Art Institute of Chicago. Amazing art museum! One of the highlights for sure. Lots of famous art (like this sculpture by some dude named Picasso:) and amazing views of the city.

These "Thorne Rooms" were one of my favorite exhibits. This is an actual miniature room behind the glass and all those paintings and chandeliers are real, but tiny. There were 68 rooms like this. The girls would have loved this part!
Lake Michigan
Starting out on a Shoreline Cruise out on Lake Michigan.
Navy Pier (obviously)
That night Justin and I stopped by the American Girl store. That place is crazy! It's huge, complete with a doll salon, restaurant, doll hospital and 2 floors with every doll and accessory you could want. We had to get a picture by the Lanie doll. Looked more like me when I had blonde hair.
That night we ate at Gino's East Pizzeria for some Chicago style deep dish. It was great. There was a lot of cheese. I don't know that either of us felt that great after, but the "during" was yummy.