60th Anniversary

Saturday we celebrated my Grandpa & Grandma Jones 60th Wedding Anniversary!

Wedding Day to 60 YEARS later!!

The family had put together a reception at the Methodist Church by ISU and invited some of my grandparents friends from over the years.

Family picture of my Grandparents with their five kids... Then and now!

They had well over 100 people (we were estimating it might have been even up to 150!) who traveled from all over to come and celebrate with my grandparents! It was very meaningful to everyone and a good time for all!

After their reception the family got together at John & Linda’s for a much needed meal and time to sit back and relax with the family.  It was great to be around everyone and especially meaningful when you realized the whole reason all of us were there (and some of us even existed!) were because two amazing young people met, fell in love, and decided to spend the rest of their lives together! (Darn pregnancy hormones… I’m crying just writing/thinking about that!)

Over 60 amazing years together and even more in love!

Dinner and a movie

Saturday afternoon James and I headed to Peoria to meet my parents for dinner and a movie in honor of my Dad’s birthday.

Kona and the birthday boy!

We enjoyed an early dinner at LongHorn Steakhouse before heading across the street to the Rave to watch “Friends with Benefits.”  And yes, strangely enough, this was my Dad’s pick!  I was expecting (hoping) for Captain America, but no, Dad felt like a romantic comedy!  Guess he’s getting a little softer in his old age! 😉

James and Kona

July midwife appointment

Our July midwife appointment was the Monday after we got back from Chicago.  James and I scheduled it so we could leave right from work and head to Champaign for our appointment.  I had a meeting that ran late, so we weren’t able to leave as early as we normally do, but I figured we’d be fine because we’re normally 20 minutes early for our appointments.

As we headed down the interstate, the check tire pressure light came on (which it had been doing on and off the past week or so), and then a few minutes later we heard an awful noise.  James quickly pulled over and our fears were confirmed.  We had a completely flat tire! 🙁

James did his best to change the tire as quickly as possible, but when I called the clinic to let them know we’d be arriving a little late due to car troubles they told me that after 15 minutes late I’d have to reschedule.  This really stressed me out because I did NOT want to reschedule.  It had been over a month since we’d heard the baby’s heartbeat and I needed to hear it and know that everything was ok.

Amazingly, James managed to get me to the clinic just in time.  He dropped me off at the front doors so I could run in and then he parked the car and met up on the 4th floor.  By the time he got parked and inside, I was already back in the room and the midwife was just getting ready to come in! Talk about good timing!

The midwife went over my vitals, checked my growing belly, and found the baby’s heartbeat (nice and strong!) on the fetal doppler.  She said everything was fine and progressing right on schedule.  She then asked us if we had any questions and strangely enough we really didn’t.  This made me feel like I should have had questions, so I randomly asked some I wasn’t really worried about, but figured I’d might as well ask.

At the end of our appointment, we scheduled our August appointment and our 20 week scan.  The 20 week scan is actually going to be at 21 weeks (August 12th) and will make sure the baby is developing correctly and the placement of my placenta.  And, if the little gummy bear is cooperating, we’ll also find out if we’re having a little boy or girl!!

After the appointment James didn’t feel comfortable driving home on the spare, so we found a tire dealership that sold Michelin tires and got a full set of four new tires.   The customer service person said it would only take about an hour for the new tires, but 2.5 hours later we finally got our car back and were able to get some much needed dinner before heading home!

Willis tower

By the time we made our way from the River to Willis Tower, I wasn’t really feeling that good.  Chicago is great, summer time is great, being pregnant is great (actually amazing!), but being in Chicago in the summer while pregnant is not always that great!  I was overly hot, overly tired, and kind of ready to be done.

On our way to Willis Tower!

Fortunately, the line for Willis Tower wasn’t that bad and after minimal waiting in line we got to head up to the observation deck!

Both of us had been to the observation deck at Willis Tower before, but that was back when it was Sears tower and way before they had the Sky Ledge!

Sky Ledge at Willis Tower

The Sky Ledge is a series of glass platforms extended out over the edge of the building that allow visitors to walk out and look straight down to the city below! It was also interesting to be able to walk 360 degrees around the building and check out the changing view!

In addition to the Sky Ledge, the whole observation deck had been updated since I’d been there to give it a much more modern and clean look.  There were also more historical exhibits lining the inside walls.

Once we finished with Willis Tower we headed back out into the heat and found some lunch and ice cream before heading to the train station.

Even though we’d taken the train up to Chicago, we were scheduled to take the bus back to Bloomington because they were finishing up work on the tracks.  This wasn’t that big of a deal for us, except there was some miscommunication about how we were to be notified that we could board the bus. Because of this we were almost the last ones on the bus!  Luckily we still found two seats together, but once we got seated I noticed a sign saying the restroom was out of order.  This was definitely not good because I knew there was no way I could make it out of Chicago, much less to Bloomington without going to the bathroom (ah, the joys of pregnancy!).

I hurried back off the bus and told the driver that I was running to the bathroom and would be right back.  He looked at his watch and told me he was leaving at exactly 6PM (it was @ 10 minutes till).  I told him that I was pregnant and there was no functioning restroom on the bus and I would be back as soon as I could.  I then literally ran through the train station to the restroom and then back to the bus, making it back with a few minutes to spare! The rest of the trip was uneventful and the driver actually got the restrooms working before we left Chicago!

Overall our Chicago trip was a lot of fun and an excellent way to spend our last childless anniversary!

Architectural Cruise

Sunday morning we got packed, checked our luggage, and headed to the river for our architectural tour.  We decided to arrive early so that way we’d have a chance to get our tickets and have breakfast before our boat tour.  Unfortunately, this plan didn’t work out so well because early morning tours had been canceled due to mechanical problems with the boat (ours was a later/different boat), so almost everyone whose tour had been canceled was in line for either a refund or to reschedule their tour.

We decided to go ahead and wait in line, and ended up waiting almost 45 minutes before we were finally able to get our tickets.  That didn’t leave us much time for breakfast, so we ended up going around the corner to Fox & Obel, a local gourmet grocery store that also had a small café.

Breakfast before our cruise

The tour left the North Pier Docks, past Navy Pier and then down the Chicago River, cruising at a decent speed that still left plenty of time to take pictures!  Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and had a lot of interesting historical and cultural bits of information to share with us.

View of downtown Chicago from the boat!

It was pretty amazing to see downtown Chicago from the River and it was also really interesting (at least to me, the History nerd) to hear some of the history of the buildings we were looking at.

Kona enjoying the cruise!

Between the two of us we took a lot of pictures, but James by far out did me!  Most of the pictures below are ones that he took, but a few are mine!  Overall as much as I enjoyed the tour, it was really hot and humid, and there was NO shade!

Some of the buildings on our architectural cruise

James did sit back and relax a little bit, but not much! There were just too many interesting buildings for him to take pictures of!

James enjoying the cruise

After the cruise, I was so hot we had to sit down for a little bit in the air conditioning, but soon we were off again.  This time to the River Esplanade Park!

On our tour, we had noticed the Centennial Fountain and Water Cannon that shot across the River, and James really wanted to head over there to check it out in person.

Walking along the river - River Esplanade Park

The fountain and water cannon were pretty cool, and it was especially neat that we were able to time our visit to coincide with the hourly explosion of the water cannon!

We then walked along the River until we got to Michigan Avenue, where we headed back up to the city and started making our way to Willis Tower!

Relaxing in Chicago

After our crazy busy Friday, Saturday was a much more relaxed day!

We didn’t set the alarm and had a leisurely morning before getting breakfast (at the hotel again) and heading to the Spa Space on North Canal.

Ready for some relaxation!

When planning our Chicago trip, James found the Spa Space and liked their 3.5 hour “Spa Lovers” couples package.  Below is the description from their website:

Begin your spa day together, receiving our signature “Art of Touch” – an instructional massage session for couples. In a candlelit room, you will learn massage techniques especially designed for the needs of your partner, and then receive massage from your partner and a massage therapist. Next, contemplate what you’ve learned as you each receive a one hour Swedish Massage from a professional massage therapist. You will be reunited in our private dual pedicure room. Bask in the romance!

We both enjoyed the instructional massage session, me possibly more than James just because my part (where I got the massage from James and the masseuse) was focused on relieving the different aches and pains caused by pregnancy!  It was also nice because I got to go second, so I literally got a 45 minute massage from James and the masseuse and then went to another room where I got a 60 minutes individual Swedish massage!

Our Swedish massages were very relaxing and by the time we met up again for our pedicures we were both in pretty good moods. This was James’ first pedicure and while I think he was ok with it, I think he definitely prefers facials!  I on the other hand prefer pedicures, so it was heaven for me… and made my toes look pretty!

After our spa treatments were over, we headed back to the hotel and then for an early dinner.  I wanted something hearty and filling (and close), so we decided on Pizano’s Pizza & Pasta and were not disappointed!  The helpings were huge, flavorful, and definitely hit the spot!

We then went back to the hotel and I caught a quick nap before getting ready for our Saturday evening’s entertainment.

About 180 degrees from the family fun of Blue Man Group, for Saturday night we headed to Chicago’s Bucktown neighborhood for “A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque.”

This is what we're going to see!!!

I’ve wanted to go to a burlesque show for quite some time and while this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, James was searching the internet for things to do in Chicago thought this sounded fun.  The show was playing at the Gorilla Tango Theatre, which is a ways out from downtown, but literally right off the Western Blue Line (subway).

Taking the subway to the theatre

The area was a little rougher than the rest of our adventures in Chicago, but it wasn’t too bad and overall I felt fine with the little bit of walking we had to do.

When we got to the theatre, the previous show had just ended so there were a lot of people milling around from the previous show and a number of people already waiting for the next show (9pm).  Shortly before 9pm they opened the doors and we made our way inside.

Outsie the Gorilla Tango Theatre

To say the theatre was tiny is to put it mildly. Including the stage, the entire theatre was about 40ftX30ft (or as James put it, classroom size).

View of the stage from our seats!

Yet what the theatre lacked in size, the performers made up in enthusiasm, confidence, and lots of humor!  As a female I know how self-conscious most of us are and for the ladies of “A Nude Hope” to get up there and rock their stuff, regardless of their size and shape, it was truly inspiring.  The ladies weren’t the Playmate pin-up type, but regular women who were comfortable in their own skin and enjoyed what they were doing.

The show parodied the original 1977 Star Wars (AKA – Star Wars: A New Hope) and actually did a pretty good job hitting all the main scenes (Leia’s capture and the recording of her SOS on R2-D2; Luke finding the message and then Obi-Wan Kenobi; bar scene where they meet Han Solo; rescuing Leia from the Death Star; Obi-Wan’s death at the hands of Darth Vader; destroying the Death Star; Leia awarding Luke and Han medals for their heroism), as well as a few smaller scenes thrown in to help keep the show moving along.

The main feel of the show was a healthy mixture of dirty humor, Star Wars parody humor, and of course some sexy burlesque action! Each scene normally started with sexy (but covering) clothing, but by the middle to end, it would be down to pasties and some type of sexy bottom covering (underwear, boy shorts, etc…).

The audience was great and really got into it! Everyone cheered at the right parts and there was no judgement, only enjoyment and a lot of laughs!  Yet, if you weren’t a Star Wars fan or hadn’t at least seen the movies, the show made little to no sense.  Unfortunately, this was the case for James who had never seen the movies and didn’t really even know who the characters were.

Yes, I know, go ahead and be shocked. I have no idea what rock he’s been living under for the past 34 years (since Star Wars came out).  And yes, he should turn in his computer programming license because of this. 🙂

Luckily my enjoyment of the evening (and the partial female nudity) helped ease his pain!

Once the show was over, we made our way back to the subway and headed to the hotel. Overall we both had a good evening and definitely thought the show was worth seeing!

Blue Man Group

After the Cubs game we headed to the hotel to get cleaned up and then back to the Old Town district for Blue Man Group at the Briar Street Theatre.  Neither of us had seen the Blue Man Group, but had heard good things about it so we were looking forward to our evening.

Briar Street Theatre - Picture from Google Maps Street view

We took the subway as close as we could get and then walked the rest of the way to the theatre.  We were more than an hour early, so we went ahead and picked up our tickets from the box office and then decided to look around the neighborhood for some dinner.

After walking around a little bit we came across Windy City Burgers, just down the street from Blue Man.  I figured it was safe and James would like it, so we decided to give it a try.  James got a lamb burger and I got the grilled chicken Caesar salad.  It took forever to get our food and when we did get it James’ was good, mine was not. In fact it wasn’t a Caesar salad at all, just a regular (not that good in the first place) salad that didn’t even have the Caesar dressing on it; I had to ask for it.  Thus after eating, I was not satisfied at all and told James I needed ice cream.  He remembered a Baskin Robin’s back the other way, so we headed off on the hunt for ice cream.  Luckily the ice cream was just a little past Blue Man in the other direction, which left us with plenty of time to get our treats (I got ice cream and James got an icee – which was awful he said) and get back to the theatre.

We finished our treats in front of the theatre and then headed inside.  Our seats ended up being pretty good – Ground floor, Middle front, and towards the center of theatre. In all honest though, I don’t think there was a bad seat in the house.  The theatre is so intimate (aka small) that every seat had a good view of the stage.

The show started on time, but allowed for some late comers by integrating a funny soft-start to the show that involved a lot of humor and audience participation.  From there it just got even better.  It’s hard to describe the crazy amazingness of it, but here are some of the themes (per Wikipedia):

  • Science and technology, especially the topics of plumbing, fractuals, human sight, DNA, and the Internet.
  • Information overload and information pollution, such as when the audience is asked to choose one of three simultaneous streams of information to read.
  • Self-conscious and naïve imitations of cultural norms, such as attempting to stage an elegant dinner for an audience member with Twinkies

I loved the music intertwined throughout the whole show and the amazing creativity definitely kept you on your toes wondering what they were going to do next! Unfortunately they were VERY clear about no pictures or video, so I instead I’ve included a few YouTube video’s that illustrate some of the fun we had!

This one is of their “Drumbone” routine that really illustrates how much music and creativity play into what they do: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LOL8-qIYemg&feature=related

This video is an example of the finale where they have huge bouncy balls that people bounce around the theatre from row to row, as well as the toilet paper type streamers that go out through the whole audience:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYeliiewYLA

Yet, the bet part was that James truly enjoyed the show.  There were a number of parts that he was laughing so much he had tears rolling down his cheeks!  I actually caught myself watching him watch the show because it was so fun to see him enjoying himself so much!

After the show we were happily exhausted from our long (but fun) day and relaxed on our quiet subway ride back to the hotel.

Riding the subway back to the hotel

Cubs Game

The main reason for our visit to Chicago was that I wanted to take James to see the Cubs at Wrigley Field.  James had not only never seen the Cubs play in real life, but he’d also never been to any type of professional sporting event (I’ve been to professional hockey and football games before, but not baseball).  Thus I was really excited for the game Friday afternoon, not only for James, but also for me!

We took the bus from Lincoln Park Zoo to Wrigley Field and it was amazing that it literally dropped us off right across the street from the field.  It was also pretty cool to people watch all the Cubs fans from the bus as we drove north up Clark street!

James at his first Cubs game!!!

Even though it was crazy with all the Cubs fans everywhere, we quickly made our way through security and then to our seats.  I tried to make sure we had pretty good seats when I ordered them and I was happy once we sat down to see that they were exactly what I’d wanted!

We were under the overhang (so we had shade), but we were far enough forward that we had a completely unobstructed view of the field.  We also had a great view of first base, which was pretty cool!

View of the scoreboard from our seats!

The Cubs were playing the Florida Marlins and it seemed like a pretty even match up for most of the game.  Happily though at the bottom of the 4th Chicago got 2 runs in and then led for the rest of the game.

Scenes from the Cubs Game!

Even with the Cubs winning and the Marlins up to bat first in the 9th, everyone in the stands got to their feet and were cheering.  It seemed like the Marlins might come back at the very end, but the Cubs prevailed for a 2-1 WIN!!

James enjoying the game!

Overall it was a great experience and we both had a really good time! In fact, the only crazy part was getting back to our hotel.

We took the subway back to the hotel and it was crammed with as many people as could fit!  It was such a tight squeeze, we not only had to stand, but I didn’t have anywhere to hold on to and had to hold on to James so I didn’t fall!  I was worried about my belly being bumped into, thus I ended up turning so I was facing James so that way he could protect my belly!!

Luckily we didn’t have too far to go before we got to our hotel and it really wasn’t too bad on the train. Pretty much everyone on the train was from the Cubs game and in a good mood because they won!

Chicago’s Lincoln Park

Friday morning we woke up early, got breakfast from the restaurant at the hotel and headed to Lincoln Park for the morning!

Riding the bus to Lincoln Park!

The bus to Lincoln Park took less than half an hour and when we got there the zoo wasn’t open yet so we headed to Notebaert Nature Museum.

When we got there, we were ready to pay the $9/each for us to get in (for a total of $18), but since James is an educator he got in free and because we have AAA, we also got $1 off my admission price, making it $8 for both of us!

This museum is more geared toward children, but they have a 2,700 square foot Butterfly Haven filled with over 75 different butterfly species, exotic finches, and even some quail!

Some of the butterfiles at the nature museum!

Taking pictures of butterflies is a mild addiction of mine that I greatly enjoy around our yard at home, so getting to wander around the butterfly haven was a great time for me! Yet, what was even better was that since we were there pretty early, for most of our time we were the only ones in the butterfly haven!!

One of the finches flying around with the butterflies!

After leaving the butterfly haven, we looked around the museum a little bit and James had a good time playing with the waterway exhibit!

Once we finished at the museum, our next stop was Lincoln Park Zoo, which was literally right across the street! It was a Friday and the zoo is free, so it was crazy busy with day camp groups and lots of other families and kids!

Fortunately, the zoo is large enough that it didn’t feel too crowded and we were still able to enjoy our time checking out all the different animals!

Some of the animals we saw while at Lincoln Park Zoo

As we were wandering around the zoo, we wandered out towards the pond to check out the view of the city!

Kona checking out the view and taking a few pictures!

The view was amazing and the weather was perfect for being able to see the downtown Chicago and all of the skyscrapers!!

View of downtown Chicago from Lincoln Park

After finishing up at the zoo, we headed to the closest bus stop that would take us to Wrigley Field and the Cubs game!!

Heading to Chicago

Even though our anniversary was on Monday, back in May we had decided to celebrate our anniversary the following weekend by going to Chicago! It started with me wanting to take James to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field on Friday (the 15th) and ended up with us planning a Thursday-Sunday Chicago adventure!

To make the most of our time in Chicago, we decided to take the train into town Thursday evening.  We got to the train station in plenty of time, but our train was running 40 minutes late! Luckily when it did arrive we were able to find two seats together and settled in for a relaxing trip.  I read the whole way and James alternated between playing on the iPad (which he originally didn’t want me to bring) and looking at the track construction going on on the other set of tracks.

Once we made it to Chicago, we found a CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) ticket kiosk and bought two 72 hour passes.  We planned on going all over Chicago and recognized we would save a lot of money by not only taking the bus and subway, but getting the 72 hour pass.  The passes were $14/each and each trip on public transportation is $2.50.  Thus we’d only have to take public transportation 6 times to more than break even!

After getting our passes, we then walked (I know it sounds funny, but I needed to walk after the sitting on the train) the almost mile to the hotel. We decided to stay at the Silversmith, which is literally right around the corner from Palmer House, but feels  much more exclusive and is literally right next to a subway station for easy access around the city.

We quickly got settled into our room (which was on the opposite side from the subway luckily!) and headed to bed! We knew we had a long and busy day planned for tomorrow!