Our first destination for A-Day was to the Aquarium of the Pacific and we went on a hunt for all the animals that started with A (thanks for the idea Alyssa!). We saw azure demoiselles, anemones, amphibians, Amazon milk frog, abalones, Alaskan ronquil, an arrow crab, angelfish, and a few other ones we don’t remember. The girls had fun hunting for all the As, learning about new sea creatures, but also seeing some of our favorites again.
Our second stop was to A la Minute. My friends, or those of you who follow on instagram, probably aren’t surprise this would be part of our A-Day. Ben was surprised I didn’t do an A-Day sooner; he knows I’d find any excuse to stop here for ice cream. Since this was our last hurrah for the summer, we went all out with 3 flavors… salted caramel (the ultimate best ice cream ever!), strawberry balsamic, and cookies and cream (a limited edition one). Of course, we loved it and happily devoured every spoonful.
A-Day and a trip to the aquarium and A la Minute was the perfect way to bid our summer adieu.
For our last day in Chicago, we wanted to learn more about architecture and focused on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. We visited his house, studio, and the Robie House. I was in love with all the intricate details that went into the creation of his home and studio. You can see slight influences from the Victorian period, but he also breaks from that mold and creates his signature prairie style. His home and studio was such a masterpiece. I’m very far from being an architecture expert, but I really enjoy learning about it, and I appreciate the art of it. I think the girls did too because they wanted some of the architecture books for kids at the gift shop.
We got in an accident on our way to the Robie House, so we missed our tour time. Someone rear ended us, and thankfully, we were all okay and our car suffered minimal damage. I was a little bummed to miss out on the Robie House tour, but we rolled with it, and made our way to the Art Institute.
We studied Van Gogh for art earlier in the school year, so the girls were super excited to see his work in person. They ooh-ed and ahh-ed at each painting. They wanted a picture with his self-portrait, and they tried their best to interpret and imitate his emotion. It was exciting for me as their mom/educator to see their eyes light up when making a connection with something we studied out of book and to see it in real life.
This is how we ended our Chicago visit, and then we all piled in the car to keep our road trip going. Next up, our Laura Ingalls Wilder road trip through 3 different states.
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Of course we had to stop by Cloud Gate (aka the bean) and take a million pictures. It’s such a unique way to view the reflection of the city (and ourselves). We were a little scared to touch it because you can see all the dirty hand prints, though it doesn’t show up in pictures. Nevertheless, it’s such a great spot to people watch, dance (there was music playing from an event nearby), and take lots of pictures. We walked all around and under, and the girls loved seeing how the distortion changed throughout the sculpture.
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For lunch, we walked to Avec. We didn’t have reservations, but we called the day before, and they said if we where there before they opened, we’d be able to dine at the restaurant. I highly recommend making reservations though. We ordered paella, a couple sandwiches, and their sesame coco bars for dessert. All of it was delicious, but the paella was my favorite. The girls loved the paella too. While we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, their dinner menu sounds a lot more delicious.
Our kids are used to sitting down during meal time, and staying seated during the whole meal (it’s a lot of practicing at home), but I’m not sure this is the type of restaurant to take children if they are more exploratory during mealtimes. It’s a small space, and you sit close to others, so you really have to do well to keeping to your personal space.
On this ig post, someone mentioned making a stop to Do-Rite Donuts, and so we did. After our lunch, we walked over to the nearest Do-Rite location. There’s always room for dessert, right?! We picked up 3 donuts to share, and while we waited for our river tour, we all ate the donuts together. I thought they were yummy, but donuts aren’t my thing, so I tend to think all donuts taste similarly. They were all happily devoured, so Do-Rite seem to be doing things right.
After our architecture tour (and some freshening up in our hotel room), we headed to the Girl & the Goat for dinner. It’s another must make a reservation place, but we were there before they opened, so we were able to dine in. Oh boy was this place scrumdiddlyumptious! We ordered raw oysters, roasted beets, hamachi crudo, grilled baby octopus, wild striped bass, duck tongues (the girls chose this!), goat carpaccio, goat empanadas, pinn oaks lamb tartare, and all the leches cake for dessert. We loved it all and wanted more, but our wallet was satisifed, though our tummies weren’t! And I’m still craving the oysters! If I ever find myself back in Chicago, I would definitely eat here again.
After dinner, we took a taxi to Millennium Park to walk around and enjoy some of the art sculptures. Of course, we took a million and one pictures at Cloud Gate (a separate post for that coming soon). Then, we walked over to Buckingham Fountain. The girls had fun running around and chasing each other here, until Glow ate it on the concrete. We ended the evening at the play garden at Maggie Daly Park. This is the coolest playground we have ever seen (a must go when in Chicago) and the girls had so much fun going up and down on all the slides and towers. There were a lot of protests when we said it was time to head back to the hotel.
After our very full day (see more of it here), it was nice our hotel was a 10 minute walk from Maggie Daly Park, and we were all showered and in bed in no time. Ben and I were both so impressed with Chicago. It’s a well thought out city and you can see the pride they take in it. It’s clean, well cared for, and caters well to families. They work hard to preserve the beauty and history, and you can tell that its residents really love their city. The only thing that freaks us out a little about Chicago is the driving, and this is coming from aggressive California drivers. Other than that, we wish it was closer, so we can visit more often.
Chicago, we really, really like you.
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We did a little bit more of the Big Bus Tour to start off the day, and then we got off at the Willis Tower. The short film about the creation of the tower was so interesting. You see these big buildings and rarely think about all it took to create these grandiose structures. I got a little nervous when they showed the guys at the very top during construction. It’s just insane to think that workers were scaling the tops of these things to make sure all the beams and whatever else is in place. I’m thankful for their work and that we can enjoy their creations from inside it’s walls and not the open elements. Whew!
Of course, we all were very excited to get on The Ledge. When I say we, I mean all the girls, but Ben. We slowly inched onto the glass, looked down, quickly got in position to take our pictures, and then speedily got off. My hands were so shaky trying to keep all girls safe. I know it’s not likely to break, but it’s that mind game with seeing the ground clear below you. Scary, so scary! We got in line a few more times to get some different snaps. For the last one, we finally convinced Ben to join us. I think you can tell what he’s thinking based on his face.
After lunch, we took a nice stroll through the city before our Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. The guides for this are legit and ours was an excellent wealth of our information. It is a 90 minute tour and we learned all about contextualism, mid century, art deco, modernism, and whole bunch of other fancy architecture terms. It was such a relaxing tour and the weather was so nice (compared the super cold days before). The girls are young, but I love exposing them to stuff like this because you never know when something is going to leave an impression on them and inspire them later. Ben and I definitely had a deeper appreciation for the art of creating buildings.
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I laid out on the blanket enjoying the shade, while Soul and Glow collected rocks and shells. They kept trying to do skip rock on the water, but it never worked, and the rocks ended up making big rock plops instead. We came home with a giant stick and lots of little shells to add to their nature collection.
We’ve since done M&M Day with the big girls too. I have a feeling we will be doing lots of M&M days, and will do it on Mondays. I want to find some movies that will go along with what we will be learning during the school year, and we could do this together on Monday afternoons (after all the learning lessons/work is done). I think it will be a good Monday motivator.
Eek. I cringe a little knowing that my brain is starting to get back into school mode. Oh summer, why must you go so fast?!