Monday, August 6, 2012

That Toddlin' Town

We just got back from Chicago last night.  All four of us flew in Thursday and spent four days reuniting with the Smith family.  For those who don't know my maiden name is Smith.  The Baird part is Erin's which I added on because I love her (and because I wanted to more easily google myself).  I got to hang out with cousins I hadn't seen in decades.  One thing's certain, the part of me that just gets more maniacally cheerful and rosy cheeked the more I drink is definitely Smith.  Not that my mother's side can't tie one on and have a blast but the Smiths take it to the next level.  Even the BBQ in the thunderstorm was Norman Rockwell-esque.

The first night we took over a deep-dish pizza place and I immediately noticed that all the work I'd put into teaching my kids the most basic table manners was going to quickly be undone, hopefully not for good.  All of my cousins have kids around Liam and Finn's age.  It took about ten seconds for the new generation to figure out that they outnumber us and have a hell of a lot more energy.  After that came their epiphany that sitting in a chair next to your parent and eating was absurd when you could be crawling under said table with your new best friends or tearing down aisles and up and down stair wells.  We tipped well.

Since I'd given in so quickly, the next two days were spent taking the kids around Chicago to places where they were free to run full speed at all times.  Fortunately Chicago has lots of that.  The best was the Crown Fountain in Millennium Park.  It's basically a giant puddle that has these two fifty-foot towers displaying vaguely ethnic faces that spit water on children every ten minutes or so.  This was perfect since it was 95 degrees and 90% humidity.  That same park has what the brochures call The Cloud Gate Sculpture which is stupid because everyone else calls it "The Bean".  They call it this because it's a giant metal bean.  I got a few good pics of the family around and under the bean but when I stood back for a longer shot, so I could get a picture of its distorted reflection of the Chicago skyline, I nearly lost consciousness from fluid loss.  I swear it was 20 degrees hotter near the bean so we went back to getting spit on by giant immigrants.

The highlight was the aforementioned BBQ in a thunderstorm.  My cousin Diana and her husband Rick hosted the whole family and it was awesome.  There was BBQ, thunder, lightning, bagpipes, an entire floor for kids, lots of adult beverages, and lots of very happy rosy-cheeked Smiths.  Liam summed it up best with the Shakespearean tragedy he put on when we told him it was time to leave their house.  He upstaged the thunderstorm easily.

So now we're back home.  I'm grateful for such a great family but right now I'm extra grateful for a full day off before going back to work.  I've got a jet-lagged infant to go tend to so here are just a few pictures:

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