Tuesday, July 1, 2014

An Important Question, A Second Honeymoon, and a Ridiculous View

Several months ago my cousin announced that she was going to be getting married (technically, she's my husband's second cousin, but I think of her as a cousin!). A few months after that, she sent me a beautiful package and asked me if I would be one of her bridesmaids!! I couldn't have been more thrilled! I just adored the way she asked.
At first we thought we would take the kids with us, but when it came time to figure out all the details (like who would watch them during the wedding and rehearsal dinner), we decided it might be best if they stayed here. We begged and pleaded with my brother and his wife and they said they'd be more than happy to watch the kids while we took a vacation (even knowing that we were going to be traveling only a week after they got back from their honeymoon!). So we got a map of the United States, located the wedding (near Kansas City), and searched all the main cities that were driving distance from there. That's when we landed on Chicago, Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri and decided we'd call this our 7th Wedding Anniversary Adventure! 

Our trip ended up being 9 days. NINE WHOLE KIDLESS DAYS. Listen. I adore my kids. They are my light and joy and source of ridiculous adorableness. But let me tell you something else that maybe not everyone will like. I love my husband more. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life with three small children, I don't always remember how much I love him. Sometimes all I can see is that he forgot to take the trash out...or doesn't help me with laundry as much as I think he should...or ... Well, you get it. So it's essential for us to steal away every once in a while and remember the important things.

I know this might be hard to imagine, but honestly. HONESTLY. I think this trip was SO much better than our honeymoon. Why? Perspective. Before our honeymoon, Mr. Howard and I were two of us. We went away as the two of us. And came back the two of us. While we loved spending time together and going to explore and do fun things on our honeymoon, we could have done that at home. If we wanted to go out to dinner, we could go. If we wanted to go hike a waterfall, we could go and do it. This time was different. This time, we are the five of us. At home, we can't just go out to dinner if we want to. We can't just go hike a waterfall if we want to. Everything takes lots of planning, and sitters, and more planning. We appreciate the time together infinitely more than we did seven years ago. It's all about perspective

We were like kids sitting in that airport getting ready to go on our adventure.
Our flight was ridiculously early, but who doesn't love watching a sunrise out your plane window? Plus, leaving early meant that we arrived to Chicago right around lunch time and had a good couple of hours there that first day.
 I've never been to Chicago and I couldn't believe the flight in. How breathtakingly beautiful it was! I still can't get over how big Lake Michigan is. Doesn't it look like an ocean? If I had flown in and had no idea where we were going, I would have placed money on the fact that we were over an ocean.
We didn't rent a car until after the Chicago part of our trip. So we took the CTA trains the whole time we were in Chicago. We weren't sure how much we'd need the trains, so we just went ahead and got a Ventra Card 3-day pass ($20). We probably didn't need that, but it was peace of mind and saved us from having to buy passes every time we rode. If you're traveling to Chicago, I'd recommend taking a look at how often you think you'll use it, because we probably only used $15 worth of rides - but we also walked A LOT. I'm not sure people visiting the city would have wanted to walk as much as we did. We probably did between 8 and 10 miles every day.  
Thankfully it doesn't matter where we go, my husband has a built in GPS into his soul. He intuitively can figure out the direction of anything! I didn't even try to read the maps to figure out what exit to get off on because by the time I'd look at the map, he'd have already figured out where we needed to change trains, which direction we needed to go when we got off, and which line we needed to take. Crazy.

We stayed in the River Hotel (in the picture below, it's the tallest building). And we ended up on the 37th floor (there are only 39 floors, so you can figure out which window was ours if you count down from the top) and we were in the actual tower (see how the building starts out wide at the bottom and then has that creme colored tower attached?). The room was TINY. The bathroom was TINY. But everything we lacked in size, we made up for in VIEW. The tower is actually so small that they only have two rooms on each floor - which makes for a really private room. Perfect for a second honeymoon. ;-)
The first thing we did after checking into our room, was head to lunch. We were having a late lunch and wanted to make sure we were hungry for dinner, so we just went to the Corner Bakery right next to our hotel. Hubby had such a delicious sandwich and I had a salad.  
After lunch, we started exploring the city! 
Even though I had seen photos of Chicago before going, it really wasn't anything I expected. I had no idea how much the Chicago River runs through downtown. 
 Or how big the city is
 I love how Trump Tower reflects the other buildings near it. Apparently, they had JUST put the letters on the tower a few weeks before we went there and it was the talk of the town (apparently the mayor hates them!).
You can't see it, but our hotel was across the river from the Trump tower - to give you an idea of where we stayed.
We also walked down to Navy Pier to sit and take in the city.  
Here was the view from our hotel window (sorry about the reflection):
 View from our hotel at sunset. The Chicago River came right towards our hotel and then split into two and went to the left and right below us.
 And view from the hotel at night!
To follow along on our Chicago journey, click the picture below!
 photo Day2Chicago-June1536_zps7943754b.jpg


J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh my goodness how much fun! I agree perspective changes everything and a trip away rekindles passion:)! We went to Mexico for our 11 year anniversary and we are planning a trip for next year which will be 17 years. We still talk about that trip all the time...good memories:) SO happy you got to get away.

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh my goodness! Good for you! I completely believe in servicing a marriage - it leads to happy parents! =)

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Isn't Chicago great? We are only about an hour & a half from the city. Unfortunately, we don't take as much advantage of it as we should. Great photos!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It was SO much fun! I had no idea what a big city it was!!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh my gosh, your view!!!! Amazing! (and I'm glad to hear it was worth the tiny room!) I also had a similar reaction when I flew over Lake Michigan. I couldn't believe that called THAT a lake!

J Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

You can't see the "end" of it, which seems so bazaar. The lakefront is SO big, it looks exactly like an ocean (minus the fact that there isn't beach all over it!!) completely crazy!! Now I want to do a tour of the Great Lakes! 😀

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