This weekend, I went to visit my friend Kari. Well, it was more than a weekend, but you know. Anyway, if you don't know mine and Kari's story. We began as pen pals when we were about 7 years old. We both read a series of books about pen pals, and in the back, there was a page you could tear out, complete with your info, and be matched with someone to be pen pals with. We wrote to each other consistently for years and, as little girls, made a promise to each other to be bridesmaids in each other's weddings. In 2006, I kept my promise and was in her wedding. In 2009, she returned the favor. In September last year, she gave birth to her first baby. And so, I went to visit her and meet little miss Brynn.
I talked about needing a break very badly, and I certainly got it. And it was everything I could have hoped for. I flew out Wednesday morning and landed in Chicago at around 1pm. After finding me at the airport, we drove to her town about an hour away, stopping for lunch at Panera (I love you, Panera). We chatted and got acquainted again - we Facebook and email and text, but it's very different when you're face-to-face. We eventually got to her house and hung out a bit with her husband. I was amazed at how tired I was, and ended up going to bed at about 7pm Arizona time. Very anti-climactic.
The next day, we had a late start and after lunch at a Chicagoland tradition, Portillo's, (Yum, people - Capital Y) headed to the Geneva Swedish Festival. It was in a really cool little town with an adorable downtown area. There were tents and booths of crafts and all the shops were open. There was one store, The Little Traveler that sold EVERYTHING. I posted on FB that it was like someone decided to open a store, but couldn't decide what to sell, and thus decided to sell anything they could think of. Seriously, they had little rooms each featuring kitchen stuff, home decor, Vera Bradley, jewelry, teas, chocolates, and art. It even has a cafe in the courtyard. Unfortunately, with Brynn in the stroller, it was hard to get around, which was pretty much the same for most of the stores, since they're in old houses. Very cool though. When we left, it was sort of an awkward time in between Brynn's meals, so rather than heading to the splash pad like we had planned, we headed home and hung out the rest of the evening. Kari's husband loves to cook, so he made us some really yummy meals.
Friday was Chicago day. The plan: get up early and leave by 10am to drive to the city and go to Buckingham Fountain, Millenium Park, and the Lincoln Park Zoo. The reality: Brynn took a two hour nap (she usually only sleeps 30 minutes) and we didn't leave until noon. We went to the fountain and to the park, but it was so late by the time we were done, that we were pushing the babe's limits and were worried about traffic, so we skipped the zoo. We got lost getting back to the garage and were thankful to just be in the car. We were right to leave, since I ended up needing to sneak into the back seat of the car to feed Brynn and keep her calm only about 15 miles out of the city. We arrived frazzled and hungry about an hour after we'd hoped to be home. Again, we were boringasauruses and hung out before heading to bed pretty early.
Saturday (yesterday - that was yesterday? Holy crap) was probably my favorite day. We met up with another of Kari's bridesmaids for lunch and outlet shopping. I bought myself a nice little birthday present (Coach purse) and it was great to hang out with the girls. After the outlet mall, we went back to Kari's and changed for Brynn's first ever trip to the splash pad. First, if you haven't seen a baby butt in a swim suit lately, it is cuuuuuute. Seriously. Anyway, once Brynn got warmed up with a tiny little fountain-ish thing we found for her, she LOVED it. She tried to grab the water and was even trying to lick it. We started out standing her up next to it, and then eventually sat her down. She had.a.blast! She had no fear, except maybe for when a kid kicked water at her (parents - watch your kid at splash pads, seriously). She cried when we left, even though she was cold and wet. We got a ton of pics...
Side note: I'm AWFUL at taking pictures. However, as Ally said, it's also a sign that we were having too much fun and didn't have time for photos. That's true, too - there were so many amazing moments this week. Brynn crawled for the first time, for example. I didn't witness this week through my (phone) camera lens. I saw it firsthand. Also, we were lost or driving a lot. Or Brynn was eating. Or in my arms. And that means I didn't take pics. Kari and I both got a lot of pics at the splash pad. BUT, since she's not my kid, I'm not sure how much I want to post photos on the internet. We did get pics of us before I left this morning, so I'll post that when I get them, but I think I'll selfishly keep the rest to myself.
End side note.
Saturday, continued. After the splash pad, I took my incredibly gracious hosts out for dinner. We went to a sushi/Japanese restaurant in their college town that was delicious. It was nice to all go out, and enjoy a great meal and hear about their memories in the town. After chatting and reminiscing about the past few days, like an old lady, I went to bed at 9:30. For those of you playing the home game, that's 7:30 Arizona time. I rule. And I slept almost 12 hours. So there's that. I possibly sleep more than a 9-month-old.
This morning, we woke up and went to breakfast. The pride parade was going on in Chicago, and we were afraid of traffic so we wanted to make sure to leave early. I ended up having time to kill... blah, blah, blah. I flew home. But not without a lump in my throat as I said good-bye. I am gonna miss that sweet little face, as well as my friend and her husband. They were such wonderful hosts, and I'm so thankful for such a long-standing and loving friendship. It was a great time. I hope it's not a whole 6 years before I get back there again. I was greeted by my handsome hubby who surprised me with an early birthday gift - new shoes!
And now, some things I learned:
- Checking bags at the gate is awesome. If you can back your bag as a carry-on, but don't mind checking it, US Airways let me check for free instead of paying the $25/bag fee. Not to mention, on my way home, I was bumped to a higher boarding zone and got to board sooner for my "sacrifice."
- When you have a baby, you don't get to eat hot meals. Like, ever.
- Babies are seriously time consuming. I had a blast and would never change a thing, but I felt very aware that our plans were dictated by Brynn's schedules.
- Babies are also awesome. I love that little girl and her hugs, shrieks, expressions, and everything else. I hope to be a very special person in her life, always.
- To a Chicago cab driver, it's better to run over pedestrians than it is to miss a light. I kid you not, we were honked at for not running a light. Then we were honked at for going through the light but blocking a lane. It's so lose-lose. I liked Chicago, but 1. I would NEVER be in a taxi there and 2. I'm not sure I'd be drawn to going back to the city itself. It's loud and stressful. I liked the Chicagoland suburbs much more.
- My hair HATES humidity. I knew that. Now I KNOW that, as even my pricey products couldn't save me from the curls and frizz.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! I'm back to the grind tomorrow - only two more weeks in my current role! And only 4 days until my Birthday!