Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chicago: Day 4: Shedd and Welcome to Nashville!

We all had a really spotty night of sleep with both Lilli and I coughing and with a little bit of a runny nose. We got up around 7 and ate breakfast at our Starbucks - where they were now recognizing me! We hopped on the bus and headed towards the Aquarium. Poor Lilli was already so tired from the trip she fell asleep on the bus.We had gotten really lucky with the aquarium - it was free on Tuesday as well! But, by free I mean we still paid $18/each for Brent and I to get in. The only free things were the main floor - mostly large tanks and small exhibits, but if you wanted to see the penguins, whales, dolphins, etc then you had to pay the $18. And even more if you wanted to see a live show, which we passed on.
Lilli was super excited as soon as we walked in. She never wanted to leave the first tank! In this case below she laid down on the floor to get a better look! It's hard to tell, but her shorts have little seahorses, shells, starfish and fish on them and her shirt has a crab on it.
We decided we should go see the big animals first. We had gotten to the aquarium right when it opened since we knew we'd have a shorter day with a flight to catch. So we went down to the big animals first before the crowds arrived, and I was SO glad we did. It got REALLY crowded later. First up were the dolphins.
They'd swim and twirl right past us and she'd just squeal.
They were so pretty and really putting on a show for us.
She loved the kids area where you could touch various little things and splash around.
Then we visited the penguins. Normally she loves them, but she kind of thought these were ducks the way they were swimming, and then for some reason she got scared of them.
Here's the little penguin area.
They had a little Arctic play area with these fun little "ice" slides where you were supposed to pretend you were a penguin.
Of course we had to hug the penguins....
And we can't forget the little guys....
They had a big submarine and she could've stayed there all day pressing each and every button. Unfortunately I didn't have a good perception of where the glass was and REALLY hurt my nose. So glad Brent got that on "film".
The Beluga Whales were so pretty.
Then you could go up top and watch them surface and blow water.
Lilli thought it was fabulous.

From this point on she was just fussy and clingy. She didn't want to walk and wanted to be carried all the time and was just SO short.
The shark area was cool as they swam all around and above us...
This guy was pretty awesome, he doesn't even look real (but he was!)
We thought lunch might help her attitude, so we grabbed some food from the Pizza Hut they have in there and ate one last time out on the patio overlooking the lake.
She was hamming it up for us!
Looking mischievous!
When we went back in she was so tired it was only a few minutes before she fell asleep. Poor thing! This trip really tore up her sleeping schedule.
Of course Brent took this opportunity to put things on her in the Gift Shop. I ended up getting her a little pack of toy penguins that she LOVES. I was so worried that we wouldn't have room in our luggage for our souvenirs, but we seriously bought hardly ANYTHING. We came back with a toy lizard, toy dinosaur, toy penguins and a toy frog. That's it! I never could find a shirt or anything for her that I liked, and we really just don't need more junk in our house.
Here's Lilli and I outside the Shedd. It was PACKED when we left, totally miserable.
The Planetarium is next to the Aquarium and was also free. We had a little time to kill before we needed to catch the bus so we walked through it. It was pretty boring and just not our thing (all about the moon, solar system, etc.)
It's a pretty cool building though.
And of course Brent loved the photo opp!
Lilli slept the whole time we were in there, so she got pretty decent rest. The bus ride back was NUTS thanks to a crazy lady on there with her screaming toddler and screaming baby. It made me very glad we were heading home, we were all so tired and tired of crowds and people!

FINALLY, on our millionth walk past Garrett's popcorn there was no line!! Every day the line had been out the door and down the block, so we hadn't waited even though I wanted some of their popcorn so bad. A vendor had brought us some when he came down for a sales meeting so I KNEW how good it was!
We went back to our hotel and got our luggage, we'd had to check it there since we had a flight out later than check out time. We had stayed at the W Lakeshore Chicago and I would not recommend it for families, at all. From the late night noise level to stuck up employees (including a valet I heard mutter "someone needs to get that baby under control" when a tired Lilli was throwing a fit in the lobby and TRUST me this place was so pricey they should've been over there with tissue helping us clean her up) to the fact they don't even have a changing table in their public bathroom - it's clear they don't want or accommodate kids. The main bathroom off the lobby has a look-thru to the men's bathroom, so Brent took this picture of Lilli and I in the women's room from inside the men's bathroom.
We took a cab back to the airport. It had been a 2 hour nightmare getting from Midway to our hotel and the cab went MUCH better!!! And Lilli can now say she's ridden in a cab! And yes, that is my precious Garrett's popcorn in my lap, ha.
Everything went smooth at the airport and we ended up having a while to kill. We strolled her and kept thinking she'd take a nap but never would. We had a 5pm flight out of there, so we bought her a Happy Meal to eat on the plane so she wouldn't be starving. Our flight back was completely full, every seat taken. Ugh! And mostly business travelers with just a few other kids. Lilli was ok, once again we thought after she ate her dinner she'd fall asleep but she totally fought it again. We got home, and Brent and I still had not had anything to eat and little Miss ran straight to the cabinet with her snacks and dishes and things and asked for a snack!!! It was SO funny since she's the ONLY one who had had any food! She ate a bunch of craisens and called it a night.
And that was our trip to Chicago! It was a ton of fun, but I'm not sure a big city trip is totally the best option with a toddler, primarily just because of naps and the long amount of time it takes to just get from hotels to public transportation and then your ultimate destination. By the time we'd ever get anywhere she'd already be tired or else just tired of being held on the bus or confined to her stroller.

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