Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Since it's Zoe's turn with the flu this week and I'm home today (and at least tomorrow) with her, I figured I'd take the hint and blog about her trip to Chicago.  I can't believe it's been almost 4 months since we went.  It was such a fun time.

Like I mentioned in the catchup blog, when I asked Zoe what she wanted for her birthday, she said she wanted to go on an airplane.  There wasn't anywhere specific she requested.  Actually, I'm sure she mentioned Florida and Disney, but since we haven't been as a family yet, she knew pretty quickly that wasn't going to happen.  Shane and I mulled a few options over and figured Chicago would be a great choice.  Perfect flight distance...enough to know you're on a plane...but not so long the flight is boring!  Plus, there's a ton to do in Chi-town...regardless of what the weather is. So, we cashed in some frequent flier miles and hotel points and booked a weekend. 

Our first speed bump happened when Shane had a last minute business trip that week that would bring him into Newark right about the same time we were leaving.  He was so bummed that he wouldn't get to see his sweetheart off for the weekend.  I assured him I'd be fine and he gentle broke the news to me that it wasn't me he was referring to.  Turns out, he not only got to see us, but eat dinner with us, too!  See, it took us over 3 hours to get from Ramsey to Newark.  Normally, it's a 35 minute trip.  Even with Friday afternoon traffic, we had allowed plenty of time.  Still, we missed our flight. 

But our hero was there to save the day.  When Shane landed and heard that we were still sitting on 95, he went straight to the ticket counter and got us booked on the next flight.  By the time we pulled up to the curb, he was there handing us our boarding passes.  The three of us had a quick bite to eat and then Zoe and I went through security and to our gate. 

We got into Chicago pretty late but we were thrilled to be there.  Zoe was hysterical on the plane.  "Hyper" doesn't begin to describe her as we boarded and found our seats.  Question after question. "Are we in the air yet?  How about now? Are we flying?"  Ummmm...no Zoe...we are taxiing to the runway.  She loved the take off and landing.  She didn't even mind the turbulence that her mother was secretly freaking out about.  The turning, however, made her grab the armrests with white knuckles.  Zoe was convinced we'd roll right over.

By the time we got into our hotel, Zoe's second wind was kicking in.  She made sure to document the entire room.

Saturday morning we slept in.  Each of us in our own Queen bed.  So cozy.  But there were adventures to be had so we studied our AAA book (Thanks Granddad) and reviewed which places we'd ear-marked before we came.  We pulled out our train map and hit the road.

We quickly mastered the "L".  As a matter of fact, we only got on the wrong train once all weekend.  It wasn't technically the wrong train...it was just going in the wrong direction.  Zoe's first requested stop was...

Yup, the Chicago Public Library!  What can I say?  The girl loves books!

Then it was off to discover the city.  We had a blast. 

But I had a surprise up my sleeve.  See, my parents (Zoe's Grammy and Granddad) happened to be in Chicago that week too!  They were leaving Saturday night, but before they did, we met up for lunch at a local landmark: Portillo's.  Zoe had no idea.

After a fun (and delicious) lunch, we took a double-decker bus tour.  Our first guide was a little boring.  So, we got off at one to check out the big metal bean and buy cheesy matching sweatshirts.  When we got back on, our guide was hysterical.  Even though we had planned on getting off at a few stops, we didn't want to sacrifice the guide, so we rode and rode and laughed and laughed.

Sunday, we decided to start the day at Willis Tower.  What an experience!  We got there right after the tower opened so there was no line.  It took awhile to convince Zoe to step out on the glass.  I tried to convince her to do a handstand, but there was no talking her into it.

After the tower, we headed to the pier...by way of a water taxi. We successfully traveled every way possible: Plane, taxi, foot, train, bus and boat.  Okay, yes, we could have rented a bike and Zoe tried to talk me into renting a Segway by the lake, but can you imagine a 10-year old on a Segway?  I wasn't interested in a Chicago ER trip.  Although...that WAS one of my favorite shows.  I wonder if Noah Wyle would have taken care of us.

After a morning at Willis Tower, the carousel seemed like a piece of cake!

A full day in the city and then we headed to the airport.  Our flight was full.  Over-full, actually.  They offered quite a reward if we would fly out Monday.  We considered it.  We considered it seriously.  But ultimately, we decided it would be too hard on Shane and maybe not a smart idea to blow off school.

We had a wonderful time together...just me and my firstborn.  The memories will last a lifetime.

Post-script: In the car on the way home...about 5 minutes outside the airport...Shane said, "I should probably tell you about Eli now, since there's no way to hide it when you see him..." (for future reference...not a great way to start a conversation).  Apparently, Eli fell off the bleachers at Ty's baseball game that day.  Not serious.  Just ugly.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

I Miss the Elf

Yes, we're one of those families.  We have an Elf on our shelf between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Jingle made his debut the day after Christmas and brought his book to remind the kids of his story

This is the forth Christmas Jingle has been checking in on our family.  I couldn't believe it when I had Zoe check the book.  Four years?  Wow.  But sure enough, the book is dated 12/10/2009! There have been may good hiding spots in the past.  Some spots were more obvious than others, to make it an even playing field for the competitive Higby's wanting to be the first to spot Jingle each morning.

This year, Jingle really stepped things up.  Some would say I have too much time on my hands.  I like to blame Pinterest.

As crazy as it was to add "another thing" to the nighttime routine, I found myself really enjoying it.  It made me take a minute and think about my kids.  How could I make them smile?  What would make them laugh?  Where could I put him that would take some time for them to notice?  And as I moved Jingle each night, I got to slow down and enjoy the silliness of the season. And I'd pray that the kids would remember the real reason for Christmas or maybe more specifically for one child who had a bad day. Sure, there were some nights that I'd be in bed and realize I didn't "do the Jingle thing", and some nights I would just wait until morning.  But most nights, it was the first thing I did after the kids were tucked in.

For the first few mornings after Christmas, I didn't really notice that Jingle was "back in the North Pole". But now that the Christmas Crazy is done, and we are back to the daily routine, I miss him.  Not just because it gave me something else to yell at the kids "you better not argue...Jingle's listening...".  I think I miss my time with Jingle.