Month: January 2019

Derby and Bee

Jack has had some great events lately. His “Magic Car” did well in the Pinewood Derby.img_2723-4

He came in 2nd or 1st of every heat. He came in 8 out of 22 cars in the final rankings. We told him to take out the cars which were likely made by the parents, and he probably placed in the top 3 😉

As a third grader he got to compete in the spelling bee. He was in the top of his class in preliminaries, so he got to do the school-wide bee. He did great on the first round (spelling your own name), passed the second round (“tiptoe”), then got tangled up on the third round with “artistic.” Poor guy got pretty upset but pulled himself together to receive his medal.

The bee was TORTURE for me to watch as a parent. Most of the kids messed up because of nerves. They all clearly knew how to spell the words (including Jack), they just misspoke or their tongue got tangled. Some kids had to leave immediately with heaving sobs. “A very very nice beginning” it is not, Putnam County! Still, I was very proud of him. Learning to fail is just as important as learning to win.

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Sam is reading!

I’m so proud of the progress that Sam is making in Kindergarten.  I discovered him reading his new scholastic book for the first time, all by himself!

Chicago day 3

Today was a wandering day. We started off shopping near our hotel. We went into Bloomingdales to admire the building and a helpful (probably bored) sales associate told us all about its history as a Shriners theater. More poking around at the Water Tower mall, nothing too special. Ben got himself a new watch, hopefully a good replacement for his beloved Pebble smartwatch that went off the market years ago. It’s the successor model, with the same dev team but now under the Fitbit brand. A nice birthday present to himself!

We had lunch at the John Hancock Signature restaurant with a table overlooking Lake Michigan. The service was terrible but the views spectacular. I made sure to check out the women’s restroom for their famous panoramic view as well.

Neither of us had walked down Navy Pier before, so we gave it a go. It was funny how all the kids and families congregated there. It was touristy, as we had been warned, but pleasant and clean. it was eerie how still and scentless the lake was, my brain expected waves and salt air when I gazed on it.

Next stop was the Chicago Cultural Center. It’s attached to the public library and houses some public art galleries. The art was disappointing, currently an exhibit of kids artwork. But we were really there for the breathtaking mosaics and mosaics by Tiffany Glass.

Next we walked through Millennial park for kicks. Gotta admire the bean up close. Here’s a picture to show the kids why I bought this weird Christmas tree ornament.

Having not eaten in over an hour (outrageous!) I suggested the Nutella cafe. You can’t really go wrong with Nutella, though I smiled smugly when Ben confirmed that my liege waffles taste better.

We still had a few hours before the show, we hunted down the entrance to the pedway, an underground tunnel for walkers. Basically subways tunnels without a subway. If I lived here I totally utilize the pedway instead of the cold streets above. Even on a balmy day like today, where it got up to the 40s.

We killed time in the Block 37 mall and Latinicity food court until showtime. We felt like we’d done pretty everything on our list for the trip, except the final show.

And what a show! I expected a newer theater, but this one had that historic, decorative, and tightly packed style that you find in NYC. Our seats were outstanding. The talent incredible. I really loved our Hamilton, he was very short, hot-headed, and scrappy, with a lovely deep voice. Our Lafayette couldn’t do a French accent, but killed it as Jefferson. Mulligan/Madison was also great. Eliza sounded just like the OBC album. King George played it more silly than I’d seen before. I think I prefer a restrained humor, but Ben loves him. What I love most about the show is the choreography. It’s a shame that you can only experience that in the live show. Same for the lights and energy and powerful music rumbles and punches your body. An amazing way to end the trip.

Oh, after we got Portuguese custard tarts. Had to go back to Nando’s to try them, since GBBO raves about them. Delish. Not as good as a thin slice after a show a la New York, but pretty good.

Chicago day 2

We spent most of today enjoying the treasures in the Art Institute. I’d never been to this museum during my previous two visits to Chicago. They have so many wonderful pieces! I was only slightly disappointed in that Nighthawks was on loan to another museum.

Dragon for Sam

Reference photo for Bens next hair style

I found Nimbus!

Skulking the meat, per usual

We decided to skip the usual overpriced cold sandwiches found in museum cafes. I had seen a couple locations around town for Nando’s peri-peri chicken.

Have you ever been cold and tired and hungry, then sat down at a warm table with delicious food? Soooo satisfying.

Now well-fortified, we admired the Bean from the street as we went back to the museum. We amped up our pace and managed to take in most of the other half of the art galleries. With a laugh we decided to “take a peek” and the paperweights and “miniature rooms” collection on the lower level. The paperweight exhibit was a head scratcher, as in, what makes these worthy of a dedicated space in this otherwise top tier museum? The miniatures, on the other hand, were delightful! I wonder if there’s a book about their creator, because you have to be at least a little kooky to do what she did.

I dragged an exhausted Ben to the only yarn store in the city. Yarnify was adequate for supplies but nothing outstanding. Their shop was lacking in charm, and they didn’t seem to care about presentation of yarns or samples. Still, I got a beautiful green skein from a local maker as a souvenir.

After a quick respite at the hotel we walked to Gyu-Kaku for dinner. It’s a chain restaurant with over 600 locations in Japan. They bring you assorted meats to grill right at your table. I was pleased to find that it doubled as a hand warmer. Very toasty!

Michigan Avenue still has its lovely Christmas lights on display. We ambled up to the historic Water Tower and passed some time shopping (including Uniqlo for slippers-who decided hard floors were a good idea in our hotel room? My tootsies are too cold for that!).

Right across the street we found the Lookingglass Theatre, where we saw The Steadfast Toy Soldier. Amanda raves about this company and I can see why. It was a charming retelling of the Hans Christian Anderson story. They performed mutely, all in pantomime with a four musicians playing the score. We loved the toddler child puppet. They absolutely nailed the physicality, giving us fits of laughter. At 60 minutes run time, I was utterly charmed and left wanting more. I wish there was a company like this in Denver that I could share with my boys.

Time to indulge in some ice cream and hot fudge at Ghiradelli’s. I came prepared with ample lactase. I hope 😉

Chicago! Day 1

Hooray, we went on a vacation! My gift this year was to organize the flight, hotel, entertainment, and child care for a quick getaway birthday trip. It’s been 3 1/2 years since the last time we left the kids for more than a single night. About time for another break, wouldn’t you say?

Why on earth would I choose Chicago in January, such a bitter cold and windy destination? HAMILTON. That’s why! Ben really wanted to see the musical when it was in Denver, but like every other Colorado citizen without connections (thank you Amanda!), was unable to get tickets. So I’m making up for that with this trip. It’ll be the final event of the week before flying home Saturday morning.

With the kids in the capable and loving hands of Grandma Betty and Grandpa Rick, we enjoyed a quick airplane jump to the Second City.

We arrived at the hotel early afternoon and decided to relax with a movie. With our date night movie habits we’ve seen nearly everything out there already. Ben was trying to talk me into the Hindi movie Simmba. Luckily I found a convenient showtime for a movie we had missed: The Green Book. Here we are feeling bad for cheating on the Alamo Drafthouse.

The Green Book was very good, exceeding my expectations. A thought provoking historical story with incredible performances. It gave us a lot to talk about afterward.

Having had snacks all day, we descended on Pizzeria Uno for some Chicago deep dish. Ben claimed to hate deep dish pizza, harboring bad feelings from previous dining encounters with the iconic dish. Pointless with a soggy bottom, to sum up his criticism. I urged him to give it another try and think of it as pizza lasagne.

Well done, Chicago, you changed his mind! Or maybe we were just that hungry. But Ben said it was delicious, and Mary Berry would agree that there were no soggy bottoms.

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