We did it. We made it to Chicago and back while traveling with two littles.
I’m proud of us because let’s face it, it’s not a great time to travel. Between Ebola scares, enterovirus outbreaks, flu season, a sick little the week before we left, and did I mention I have SEVERE anxiety flying with children, I was out of my comfort zone, to say the least.
But we did it.
Below are 16 things I learned from Chicago…or a better explanation of how visiting the Windy City kicked my ass.
1. Forgetting your wallet while you are 4 blocks away from home will take at least 20 minutes to retrieve in LA rush hour traffic.
Oh yes we did. Thank God we were only 4 blocks away. (Good Lord, LA—get your rush hour act together.) Despite leaving 3 hours before our plane departed, and living only 22.1 miles away from the airport, we got to the gate just as they were boarding. Next time our departure will be 30 minutes earlier to account for any unplanned circumstances
2. You are responsible for installing the car seats in the rental car.
I suppose it’s good because we wouldn’t trust anyone else to do it, but installing 2 car seats in COLD Chicago at night with 2 hungry littles who just traveled all day is SUPER. FUN.
3. Cracking his chin open on the bathtub and only getting 6 hours of sleep will not slow D-Bop down.
After traveling all day, running around for an hour at a cocktail party, splitting his chin open, going to the emergency room at 10:30 at night, getting 4 stitches, and stopping at CVS to pick up a vaporizer (more on that later), D-Bop was still ready to party at 2am. He couldn’t understand why he could NOT build his new Lego set and HAD to go to sleep. He got 6 hours of sleep that night, and was absolutely fine the next day, which consisted of running all through the breakfast restaurant, running to the park, wrestling with his cousin at the park, eating pizza at a pizza place (and probably running and wrestling there), running back to the hotel to get ready, ushering at the wedding, and then more dancing/wrestling/running at the reception. He came home that night at 10:30 ready to build Legos and COULD NOT UNDERSTAND why we were making him go to sleep. I’ll have whatever he is having.
4. The Children’s Hospital of Chicago is AH-MAZING:
Seriously, when Dylan returned from the hospital he couldn’t stop talking about it. He got to watch Wild Kratts! They gave him a popsicle! After he got his stitches he got to choose either a Lego set or a Captain America toy! And then Mac Daddy chimed in. It was beautiful! It was clean! You get your own room immediately! There was an aquarium! Seriously, I felt like I was missing out, and not one to miss out on anything…
5. If your child has any problems breathing from croup, call your doctor or bring them to the hospital sooner than later.
While Mac Daddy, D-Bop and my father-in law were at the hospital, Cookie woke up out of the blue with a horrible croup cough. She couldn’t make any sounds as she tried to cry, and then she choked on her phlegm, which then caused her to vomit (CRAP! I only brought 2 sleepers! What do I do if she vomits again?!). I took her into the bathroom, turned on the shower, and let her breathe in the steam. It calmed her down and I was able to get her back to sleep, but as I listened to her wheeze AND waited for Mac Daddy and D-Bop to return from the hospital, I was slightly on edge. My instincts told me to let her sleep as long as she could and somehow we made it through the night (perhaps it was the vaporizer that was purchased at 1:45am).
The next day she still had that nasty “croup” cough so I decided to take her to the Children’s Hospital of Chicago because
I wanted to see what all the hype was about thinking of flying in two days was pretty much sparking a slow-building, lingering panic attack. After getting her assessed, (OMG, this hospital IS gorgeous! Adorable murals everywhere! Friendly efficient staff! No waiting time! So clean!) I was told it was great that we brought her in while the cough was NOT as prominent because if I had waited until she got to he point where she couldn’t breathe again, they would have to keep her for a while to monitor her. At this point they were able to simply give her a dose of steroids and send us on our way. I usually err on the side of NOT calling my doctor, but in this situation, I was glad I actually brought her in.
6. Let all expectations go and when anticipating your perfect “vacation” don’t ever forget that you have two littles.
When I was thinking about our “vacation” to Chicago and all the events we were going to participate in to celebrate the wedding, I somehow forgot I had two littles. I mean, I knew they were going to be there, but they were like two extra suitcases or something in my mind…not actual demanding, needy (but adorable) human beings that have weak immune systems and cannot keep up with my college partying self (which quite frankly, I can’t do either). Next time, I will be more realistic in what to expect and how to plan. Like, sure, we went for a wedding– but no, Cookie and I did not get to attend.
7. There is no time to buy water in Chicago.
I am obsessed with water. I drink tons of it, and I always have a bottle at my side. But this trip was so crazy busy, and it was so hard to herd the littles in time to meet everyone that I did not even have a chance to buy myself a beloved and much needed bottle of water until day 4 at the airport. As I mentioned, when we got to the airport on day 1 the plane was boarding, so no time to buy water. Then they actually FUCKING RAN OUT OF WATER on the flight so I only got one measly 8oz glass of water for the entire flight. Then as soon as we arrived we just dove right in to the events. And it doesn’t help that Mac Daddy and I both do not want to miss out on anything that involves large groups of people that we know and love AND that we are also both people pleasers that try to make said people we know and love happy. What I should have done was slowed down, for myself and for my kids, found a drugstore, and bought enough water to help keep me sane. But if you can’t have water…
8. Bourbon makes things better.
OMG, the most glorious thing happened on the trip. Mac Daddy was holding Cookie while she napped, I was with D-Bop and his cousin, and my father-in-law offered to watch the boys for 20 minutes so my sister-in-law and I could run downstairs, see some people, and have a drink. I was giddy with excitement and ordered a Hudson Baby Bourbon and soda because the bottle looked interesting. The bartender took one look at us—my sister-in-law in her yoga pants and me in, I have no idea, I think I was wearing pants?– and said, “I’m not saying you’re cheap or anything, but just so you know, this is a $32 glass of bourbon.” Another punch to the gut! Chicago once again reminded me that I HAD NO PLACE HERE OR IN THIS BAR and should not in any way FEEL LIKE I BELONGED HERE since I CAN’T EVEN ORDER A DRINK RIGHT…but my incredibly dehydrated self ordered a Knob Creek instead and threw that drink back in 20 minutes while I got to visit with the bride and groom and a few others. It was amazing. Suck it, Chicago.
9. You can download iPhone apps in a Catholic Church.
Or so I hear from D-Bop and Mac Daddy. Better yet, you can download the most violent, age inappropriate game in Church because THAT’S WHAT YOUR KID DEMANDS AND EVERYONE IS GETTING READY TO PRAY. Good times for Mac Daddy who lowered the volume just in the nick of time.
10. Cookie will only nap while being held AND nursed if our world has been turned upside down.
Which was SUPER fun. Each nap, she had to be held and nursed. To go to sleep at night, she had to be held and nursed for 3 hours. Then up 6 hours later and then more holding and nursing for 3 hours. 3 HOURS. I’m not making this up. NURSED FOR 3 HOURS. 3 HOURS. NURSED.
11. Traveling with your kids for 4 days is like being seated in a fancy restaurant with your kids for 96 hours.
I don’t know about you, but we just don’t go out to eat that much because it’s just not that enjoyable with two littles. You have to be ON every waking second. That’s what traveling is like: one giant, fancy restaurant that just really doesn’t want you there with your littles wiping goo on their fancy chairs and spilling Cheerios all over their fancy floor.
12. Life is not a “Choose your own adventure.”
I mean, this can be an entire blog in itself. Some parts of life we do get to choose, but as I get older and after having what seems like non-stop conundrums, I’m trying to avoid saying, “Life is hard,” and am trying to put a new positive spin on it—it’s just not a “choose your own adventure.” Challenges arise, but you work through it and deal with it and (hopefully) make the best of it. And if you have kids, they will pretty much dictate how your life will play out from here on out. This is no longer “my life”—my life is now beautifully intertwined with three other people’s lives as well. (Mac Daddy, D-Bop and Cookie…just in case that didn’t make sense.)
13. In World War II the US captured a German submarine.
Yes we did get to see the Museum of Science and Industry. Thank you very much for asking.
14. It takes a village.
Oh yes it does. And we were lucky to have a village even while we were traveling in Chicago. We have many villages and for that I am grateful.
15. Kids don’t care what they do or where they are as long as they are with people who love them.
Honestly, we could have been in Chicago or Hawaii or Bakersfield or home. It’s about seeing people and family and friends who love them and giving them the precious time to interact with people they don’t always get to see.
16. It’s all worth it in the end.
If someone told me ahead of time what would happen, would I have gone? I’m not sure, but I have no regrets. Despite the chaos, I had many moments where I enjoyed myself. Walking through the city with Cookie while she napped, witnessing the joy on my boy’s face as he played with his cousin, the BOURBON IN THE BAR. While the adult conversations were brief, they were some good ones, and I had some great laughs.
And it was certainly an adventure we will never forget.