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ChiTown for the Peeps

The summer of 2015 flew and we embarked on one more adventure before the kids went back to school. Seriously. Because Junior High (7th) for Steady, Strong 5th, Grace 3rd, Passion 2nd, Promise in Kindergarten and Foster in preschool.

You read it. I’m both loving this age and stage and in complete denial.

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On Friday, July 31, we loaded the van and drove the 5 hours drive to the Hampton Inn and Suites in Downtown Chicago. Complimentary breakfast and an indoor pool were top of my list on places to stay. Vacations are not vacations without an indoor pool!

We arrived a little after dinner time and decided to venture out to the Navy Pier for dinner. We walked the mile to the pier and encountered a considerable wait for the pizza shop we wanted to try. The pizza was delicious, but Promise had fallen asleep in my arms and foster was ready to do the same. Thankfully we were able to hop a trolley and be dropped just a block away from our temporary home. Promise slept through it all.

Saturday morning we woke up and took the Red line south to the Shedd Aquarium. This was my one big we-have-to-do because I pre-bought tickets. Turns out the reviews are dead on. The line to get in was insane! It was a great aquarium and we really enjoyed the shows. We ate lunch outside as I had packed a picnic and as we sat outside and ate we sized the opportunity for the classic Chicago skyline photos! Also true to form, the Windy City did not disappoint and we had some good wind gusts coming off the water!

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The kids favorite part was spending time touching the sting rays as they swam by and ending the visit with some ice cream in the shade!

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We have a membership to our local Science Center which participates in the ASTC Passport program. Since the Field Museum was also an ASTC program participant, admission was free. The kids were tiring out and less impressed but we pressed on and were able to make one last hurrah and check out a few of the exhibits.

It was time to catch the Red Line and head to the hotel. Something about swimming gives my kids their third and fourth winds. They swam their hearts out. Together with some other guests at the hotel who happened to be enjoying the pool, we sang happy birthday and ate cake in honor of Foster’s 5th birthday. It was so much fun and they blessed us by doing whatever he wanted to do!

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Sunday morning we checked out and drove north to the Volo Auto Museum. From there we drove to Legoland Discovery Center to round out the celebration of Foster. This was his one request for his birthday so we were sure to make it happen!

Armed with a small set of new legos we started the DVD player and made our journey home. It was a quick weekend but filled with a good ebb and flow of busy and chilling.

When I am not around… ask the kids.

Their favorite memory was the train ride.

Dinosaurs! – #Colorado2015 Part 5

Life with kids always carries some unpredictable predictable. In my house, the harder I try the bigger the backfire. Our random road trips have taught me so much about partnering my expectations with my reality. Sorting reality from dreams. It is really cool. I find myself staying better regulated, relaxed and able to articulate my must dos and yet keep a list of might dos in my head. It makes for fun, spontaneous days! Moments.

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Saturday morning the kids woke up extra early. After inhaling our breakfast, we loaded up in the car for a quick trip over to the Triceratops Trail out at Dinosaur Ridge in Golden, Colorado. Tripadvisor is my best friend and I found this trail with average ratings but with favorable comments toward all the things we needed. Dinosaur footprints – check. Easy for the youngest of our crew  to hike (ages 4 and 5) – check. Distance of one mile or less – check.

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The parking lot and finding the trail left something to be desired but once we figured it out (after turning around at least twice) we really enjoyed this pleasant hike! With the sunshine just beginning to warm the cool mountain air, the kids were loving climbing up the rock paths. The idea that they could stare at a dinosaur footprint was too much for all of us. We just couldn’t wrap ours heads around the bigger picture. Dinosaurs were real. It was affirmation of why my have-van-will-travel craziness is worth every single bit of crazy. I found myself watching them take their book knowledge, the good, rich things they were taught in classrooms and mix it in with their present reality.  Passion in particular really let it hit home that extinct = dead, gone. She was not happy with this new understanding! Nothing should ever be extinct!

After a casual hour at Dinosaur Ridge, we moved along to our bigger adventure plan for the day. The Denver Museum of Nature and Science!

Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Those tusks!

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Dinosaurs, a body/health exhibit, mummies, space and so much more. It did not disappoint!

Money Saving Note: The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is part of the ASTC Passport program. Our Blank Park Science Center membership cards along with my photo idea were all we needed to cash in for free admission to the DMNS. Score!

We spent at least 3 solid hours at the museum taking in the sites and interacting with the exhibits. Our favorite exhibit – Expedition Health. Upon entering the exhibit you are given a card that you use to accumulate your stats as you work through the exhibit. As you leave the exhibit, we used the card to print out a fun fact sheet about ourselves. It was like a self-guided doctors appointment. The kids were so intrigued.

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Tired and worn, we buckled little people in the van late in the afternoon. It was time to soak the kids in the pool and let them eat every snack we had packed for our trip. Refuel. This mom’s heart was full and her feet were tired too! Any moment, at home or on the road that gives my kids a hesitation, a moment to reconsider, to gain perspective, to try something new. Those moments are my best memories.

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Rested and full of new energy we set out to attend a graduation party of our cousin. I am such an adult these days… seems like yesterday she was a little girl I baby sat. We are proud of you Carsen! Congrats again and thank you for giving us an excuse to come celebrate and play!  Love you!

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Swimming Happiness – #Colorado2015 Part 4

We found happiness! We dumped our stuff in our rooms at the Springhill Suites in Westminster and found the pool.

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This photo cracks me up. Ever since Steady broke her leg a new dimension of play has been manifesting. Can you spot it? This is the best swim therapy spa for the children who have broken random limbs! And the shark mask.

I love that these people have taught me how to have fun and go with the flow. How to sit back and let our hard experiences, our hurts, tumble around and come out as silly and carefree.

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After a solid three hours of swimming and imaginations wearing down, I convinced the crew we should go get some ice cream and explore the area. We discovered that the Butterfly Pavilion was not more than a handful of minutes away and we decided to check it out. Lately the girls are obsessed with butterflies. So much so that we are growing milkweed in our backyard. I have to roll my eyes and laugh at every time I say that out loud. One of my first jobs was riding beans in Iowa and milkweed always required a special bottle of roundup. They were like the worst thing you could ever find in a field.  Now I am trying to grow them in my city back yard. Oh, the circles of life!

The pavilion was like every other one but it was a welcome distraction as we passed time waiting to pick up Dad from the airport. Oh, and Rosie the tarantula was pretty cool!

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