Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Last Saturday we loaded up the two biggest kids and high-tailed it to Chicago. Ruby calls it Shamago. Same diff.

We boarded the South Shore train in Scary Gary, Indiana and away we went. The kids were chomping at the bit to get on that train. Their first "real" train ride! Also, they each had a whole candy bar in their bag that they were allowed to eat once the train started moving.

The train ride was just an hour long. Perfect. Calvin and Ruby sat in a seat together and scribbled notes onto tiny note pads and split their Kit Kat and Mounds candy bars right down the middle, so they both got some of each.

Incidentally, how many 5 year olds choose Mounds candy bars from all of the options at Target? It cracked me up. Homeboy is a coconut addict.

As the train whizzed into the station, we stood to grab our bags.

Only my bag was no where to be found.

Let me back up.

Immediately following this picture:

Cory said to me (actually he sort of barked to me) (but really, just a teeny, tiny bark) "Get the kids on the train! I've got the bags."

I turned around and got the kids on. the. train.

He, as it turns out, put his camera back in its special bag, picked up not two but one bag, and followed behind us.

Back in Dreary Gary, my Vera Bradley bag sat alone on the train platform. Inside that bag was all of my stuff, and all of Cory's stuff. Our clothing, our toiletries, our books.


We tried in vain to see if the bag had been turned in at the station, but we never were able to get any answers.

So, we soldiered on.

The kids were so excited and it was only one night.

We could do this.

We had lunch at the Rainforest Cafe. This is where you should eat when you want to spend SIXTY dollars on lunch for four people. Have mercy. I will say, the food was surprisingly good. And Cory and I followed the good sense of our children and went halvsies on the Cheesesteak and the Guacamole Burger.

The good news is, we still had our envelope marked "Chicago", and we had budgeted for these high-falutin meals ahead of time. We saved huge money on our accommodations via the generous offer of friends who happen to live right on Michigan Avenue and were out of town for the weekend. Now that's what I call friends with benefits.

We hit up a Walgreens where we bought overpriced tooth brushes and deodorant and socks. I felt so...low-maintenance. So...roll-with-the-punches. So...wildernessy. City wildernessy, that is.

Later that evening, we walked exactly one block to dinner, at my beloved California Pizza Kitchen, but not before posing like "Rock Stars" in the lobby. (Can you tell my kid hasn't been exposed to a lot of Rock Stars in his day?)

Two words: Greek Pizza.

Three more: Roasted Vegetable Salad.

Cory and I spent most of the meal straining our ears to hear the conversation at the table behind us. A particularly annoying girl piqued our interest in a very loathesome way when she ordered her meal, "I'll take the chopped salad, dressing on the side." "Half order, or full order?" "Fine, I'll do the full order. Whatever." She spent the rest of the meal talking about the creators of Facebook as if they were personal friends (maybe they were? doubtful.) and making statements such as, "You think 20 million is, like, a lot of money, but in this day and age, it's totally not."

Her two table-mates never did get a word in edge-wise.

But, hey! Thanks for the entertainment, Spoiled Girl!

After dinner we went to the Lego store directly across the street from Our Apartment.

We were there for over an hour.

We did not spend a dime.

Calvin turned all kinds of heads when he sort of squealed, "This is the luckiest day in my whole Lego life!"

Two different ladies stopped to tell me how "precious" it was.

I had to agree.

Back at the home front, the littles multiplied.

Then, we tucked them all into their City Beds.

Cory and I watched fancy cable TV and listened to city noises and scoured the book shelves of people with very good taste.

Can I just say that I know a person gets me when she leaves me this type of note.
I was in Big City Heaven.

The next morning we did more City Exploring...

in the gorgeous November air.

Calvin tried his dangdest to catch a pigeon.

We visited the legendary bean.

"Hey, isn't that exactly what I wore yesterday?"

"Why yes, yes it is."

And just like that, we were back on a train.

Miraculously, my bag was safe and sound in the Gary train depot lost-and-found.

I am lucky they didn't call the bomb squad in and blow it to smithereens.

Although that would have made for one heck of a story...


  1. Your weekend sounds perfect! Except for the bag of course, but I LOVE how that didn't put one bit of a damper on your fun. :)

  2. Chicago is such a fun town. When the littles are a little bigger, check out the Science and Industry Museum, the Field Museum, or Sheds Aquarium. All family favorites for us growing up!

  3. Sounds like a great time. That Calvin is a treat!

  4. Scary Gary - you were that close! I could feel it! I could just feel it! You should have called and I coulda woulda picked up your bag and brought it up to you - I love your life sweetie - and your perspective of it...sorry for the lame comment - I'm runnin' pilla to post.

  5. I was hanging on the edge of my chair to hear about the lost bag. Pheeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwww!

    Glad you guys had a good time, sounds like fun!

  6. Looks like you guys had a great adventure!
    I love the picture of those two and their tushes - heads through the bridge just to see what they can see.

    Your littles are the cutest kids. Yay for people who still believe in the lost and found!

    I'm glad ya'll had a grand time!

  7. My hubby and I are heading to Chicago next month for an overnighter to celebrate our Anniversary... what a great deal on the overnight diggs! That always seems to blow my budget! Gotta know, where did ya get the pizza? I'm looking for a good restaurant!

    Way to roll with the punches! You are my kind of girl!

  8. I don't live very far from Chicago and yet I've never been there! I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves, looks like you had a blast!!

  9. hey! you did the lego store & rainforest cafe - our faves! my boys are still in heaven in that store:) soooo jealous, i love being in that town. most jealous about california pizza kitchen (i have been trying to justify a trip to chicago just to eat there for a while now...) glad you had fun! that bag incident would have nearly done me in.

  10. this post assures me that we could be fast friends if we lived closer to one another....

    oh my goodness...you handled the forgotten bag like a champ....it seems I have some things to learn from you. :)

    the trip looked amazing....Chicago is definitely a trip we want to do as a family!!!

  11. i've been dying to go to shamago and wondered if the kids would be up for a night away there. this inspired me that it is indeed possible! looks like a fab time!

  12. Those kids are so precious. And they are so grateful, which is so uncommon these days. Must be great parents or something. :)

  13. thank you for putting a big grin on my face...so fabulous.
    we did something similar this weekend only there was no train involved (or missing bag!!!) just a quick car ride to the big city and a steal of a deal hotel room courtesy of priceline.com. we also managed to only spend money on food although i did take the kids to a BIG movie which is a real treat around our house. here's to raising kids unlike that spoiled brat in the resto...

  14. Love that Chi-town and that you guys got to get away together. My son has been asking to go to Chicago for two years now. When we said a hypothetical "Where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?" question the other night at dinner, Chicago was his answer. Maybe it's the Lego store... or Oprah.
    And what a relief that your bag was safe! Whew!

  15. You made memories for life for them....but don't you have 3 littles???!!!I feel so peaceful knowing my son in-law is taking such wonderful good maintainency boy care of his family!! Corrrrrryyyy.... I can't wait to hear all about the trip from Cal and the Ruber.

  16. What fun! So sorry about your bag!! You are such a trooper. I love taking the kids downtown. We visit the bean, the lego store, wander through the downtown, and they are just in awe and tired at the end of the day. That's where we'll be heading over Thanksgiving break. My dear husband works downtown, so he never wants to head into the city. :)

  17. I am sure the kids liked the train ride. We live in the north burbs, and I love taking the train! I love the bean picture of you guys. We do that every time. Have you ever taken the kids to eat under the great tree at Macy's on State Street? We have done that since we moved here. This will be our last Christmas here, so it's a must for us.

  18. My boy has just discovered a love for Mounds too--what is with that?? As a kid I NEVER would've chosen ANYTHING with coconut! :)

  19. In all the time we lived in Illinois, we only did this a couple of times. Each time I was shocked by our dinner bill but always happy we went. :) Maybe Denver is my new destination!!

  20. How cute are they & it's hilarious that he picked a Mounds bar of all things!

    We're going to the Chicago suburbs Saturday for a baby shower & staying in a hotel to visit Ikea Sunday. Aubrie is going along with us ladies - she is SO excited to go to the baby "shamu" party and for a girl party. I can't wait - it will be a blast :)

  21. How far are you from Chicago? If you ever come out again let me know and you can come out for a visit to the 'burbs for a day. I am about 30 min west! :)

  22. i am so glad you had such a wonderful time and a beautiful day in my gorgeous hometown!

    when the littles are older, you should definitely venture off of the mag mile and see what treasures the rest of the city holds!

    and for folks wanting to visit downtown chicago, hotwire or the like is a great resource for inexpensive stays at four star hotels. i have places to stay but they tend to be farther north and off the el lines so we always check out hotwire when we want to stay closer in. in fact, we'll be looking for a room now for the ike reilly show on new years eve.

  23. Your big city weekend sounds awesome! Love it! It would've made one heck of a story if that bag was blown to smithereens.....haha

  24. This sounds like so much fun!! Oh how I love Chicago in the fall.. and way to go scouring awesome friends who let you stay in their apartment!

  25. I thought for sure your bag would be gone. Yay that it was still there. I love Chicago!!! My favorite city, EVER! I must get back there soon. My two close friends who lived there both moved to California. Not together, just both moved. ;) Looks like a super fun trip and how awesome that you have friends who let you use their fancy Michigan Ave. apartment. Bonus!

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  27. Too many typos... here we go again : )

    Great ending, and from this moment forward in my hostess life, I will leave a message for my guests to take whatever magazines they find interesting. I would squeel with glee if I was left that message. See how you affect my life, and you don't even know it... except for this time... cuz I told you : ) but there are lots of untold ones.
    Thank you for sharing your life. I always come away smiling.

  28. Sounds like an super fun trip...minus the missing bag part...we love going to Chicago too!!!

  29. You had my full attention right up until that greek pizza. I don't remember anythign after that. My taste buds went crazy and took over my brain. Maybe I can come back later and try to scroll past the greek pizza and hear the rest of the story.

    Joy K. jealous in S.C.

  30. I am jealous - oddly Chicago is one place I really want to go and have not yet been! I give you major kudos for rolling with things after you lost your bag!!

  31. Sounds like a blast...

    I'm proud of you for your city-wildernessy-go-at-it. Glad to hear your bag was safe and sound, too. Almost makes you wanna go for round two...?

  32. nothing like a train adventure! lucky duck that you're bag was safe and sound. enjoy the week. hugs, your pal in NC

  33. I smiled the whole way through this post!

  34. This was one heck of a story anyway! The kids must have just had THE best time EVAH!!!
    Great photos too!

    $20 mil? Pffft, chicken change. I carry that around in my back pocket every day.

  35. Chicago/ Shamago is my favorite! I spent all my time in the art museum though. That, and eating food.
    CPK? Love. They have the BEST SALADS (although I can't decide if Cheesecake Factory has better salads...it depends on the day)(do they HAVE cheesecake factories in your neck of the woods).
    I hate hate hate rainforest cafe. Just FYI.

    This was a fun fun fun post. It made me almost want to go on vacation.

  36. p.s. You have a posh place to stay over here, if you know what I mean. I mean, right now it has a goat for a neighbor, but this house we have in escrow is SWEET....if it goes through...once we fix the roof.

    It has a lot of gardening/decorating issues. Is it good hostess-ing to say, "HEY if you see any plants you like, feel free to rip them out of the ground" or "have fun weeding Shannan"?
    because, I get the sense you would like that. maybe.

  37. Makes me want to head home. So fun!!! Sorry about the whole bag of clothes but it sounds like you rolled with the punches. Lucky to have friends that live right down town! Love the bean photos!!!

  38. I'm amazed you were able to roll with the punches. I would have obsessed about that bag until I found it safe and sound. But it sounds like a fun weekend!

  39. ...looks like a very fun weekend!
    that is such a bummer about your vera bradley!


  40. Oh girlie that sounds like such a fun little get away. I would have been upset about the bag thing. Losing something really gets me in a tither. I've been to Chicago several times and have never been to the bean. Can you believe that? Next time for sure! Oh and maybe their is a train to Minneapolis...we need to check in to that.

    Called you yesterday and got tickled pink when I heard your "real life" voice message. What a rush! I left my super speedy message and got off the phone and had a stupid grin plastered on my face. Now I need to call you and actually talk to YOU...baby steps;)

  41. oh it sounds absolutely wonderful!! {minus losing the bag} ;0)

  42. Even though I live here, I love, love, LOVE Chicago. Sure wish I had an apartment on Michigan Avenue, though. Lucky!

    Glad you got your bag back. That would have been a bummer.

  43. It will be a sad day when Ruby say's Chicago! I love her word :)

  44. What a fun weekend! I would love to escape with my eldest for something like that!! He has yet to ride a "real" train, but he is so obsessed!! Even if you had to wear the same clothes two days in a row, you still look cute!! Way to pull it off.
    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the picture of double Ruby! Her ruffle shirt is just too cute!

  45. you're hilarious. Glad you had fun!

  46. What a great story, and I am SOOOO glad your bag was at the train station. Are we that close to one another? I'm two counties south of Chi-town: Benton County, IN. We need to investigate this more! Glad you had such a great adventure in the big city!

  47. i read 1/2 of your post earlier today, but had to make a grocery store trip...
    i was thinking the whole time how we could raise $$$ to replace your lost Vera/belongings

    we love to ride the train from naperville into the city (saves on parking and denting)
    i say "love" as though we do it all the time. we don't. we are 4hrs from the most beautiful city on earth (not magic kingdom)

  48. Oh, I we had only known each other better by now... I so would have ventured into the big bad city to say hello!

    I live about 30 minutes from the city limits... next time sista. Next time :o)

  49. girl, nuh uh
    no way
    shut up
    the bag was still there?
    oh my word.
    i was sitting here all p.o'd for ya & sho nuf, you scored your bag!!
    yay you

    the whole on.the.train. thing cracked me up.
    love chicago
    looks like a fantastic perfect day.

  50. Shamago. You got me at the title; so cute!

  51. What fun. You did well not stressing about the bag and just going ahead and having fun. Can't believe you found it later. Where was the sweet baby?
    My camera went MI
    A last week when I took the grands to see Mickey Mouse Live......I had to tell myself not to freak out and I didn't. It showed up laster......I know no comparison to a whole day and night without essentials.
    Glad you had fun in Shamago.

  52. I just adore you- I think you have the most amazing spirit.

    Loved you story an and the sweet pictures.

  53. i was so relieved to hear you had your purse returned to you. i left my purse in McD's in Gary. It was "returned" via mail 4wks later, with most of it's contents. except for my digital camera with pics of a week long camping trip, and flash drive with a power point presentation about STD's (yes, it's an interesting story). i still wonder if the "recipient" felt that they got what they'd bargained for.
    also, this just underscored my longing to take a long overdue trip to visit friends in "shamago". it's my favorite city. warms my heart to see your happy times.

  54. Sounds like a wonderful time. What a great adventure for the kiddos. I am glad you found your bag!!

  55. Looks like you all had a fabulous time, even without the bag.


    PS, just three final words... love the boots!

  56. Love your day in Chi-town! I'm amazed that your bag was safe and sound!! Thank you Lord! :)

    Clint and I are taking Raegan up for her 6th birthday. It is the special treat when the kids turn 6 - a day with mommy and daddy in Chicago and a trip to american girl - that is there one but quite big gift I'd say! (hey maybe Chicago is where we can meet Shannan!) :)

  57. That looks like so much fun.Love Calvin's comment at the Lego store!! They are both so precious. Glad you found your bag. Way to rough it!

  58. Oh what perfct fun! Even with Bag Fiasco 2010, you guys made some great memories!

  59. Sounds wonderful! Makes me homesick for Chicago.

  60. looks like a great, great day and night...love the pictures and so glad you had fun and made some great memories that are just priceless...loosing the bag and all...you sure rolled with the punches ~ lol

  61. I kept thinking Not the Vera bag! What is wrong with me? Your trip sounds perfect. Now I want to ride a train into Chicago. I love me some Chicago. However, you totally screwed up the pizza thing by not going to Gino's East. I'll let you know if I can still be friends with you after this.

  62. How nice that y'all got some time away. Forgetting your bag made it even better. No worries, just the ability to enjoy.

  63. Shannan, you are a better person than moi. (But we already knew that, didn't we.) I'm pretty confident I would have let the whole lost/forgotten bag incident taint my tude for the remainder of the trip.
    Sad, but true.

  64. I love Chicago it is such a fun city! You could never get bored there! I must confess i was drooling over your boots from the first pic. Pretty pleeze with sugar on top where did you get them?? Traci

  65. Sounds like a fantastic time in shamago...minus the lost luggage...so glad you were able to spend some fun time with the big kids, gosh they are just so darling...even while eating a mounds bar!! :)

  66. So sorry about your bag. Hopefully your favorite t-shirt wasn't in there! It looks you guys had a great time!

  67. I'm from "Shamago," originally. Or at least the Shamago area. I still get excited when I see that skyline. And of course I have beloved childhood "field trip" memories of the Museum of Science and Industry and that ride down into an ACTUAL coal mine. And the baby chicks. Oh! and the dinosaurs in the Natural History Museum...