Sunday, November 9, 2008

Chicago Fairy Tale: The Good and the Bad

On Friday, Fred was a presenter at a conference in Chicago so the girls and I tagged along with him. We thought it would be fun to have a girl's outing in the big city and so off we went!

The one-night stay was a perfect revelation on why we had to make the decision to no longer call Chicago our home and move away last year. I was reminded of why I loved it and yet, why I also hated it.

First things first. This is why I loved it!

Girls are up and ready to go!

Let's go to the 95th floor of the Hancock building and use the ladies room!

On the elevator, sitting on the floor, chewing gum, "Going Up!"

Then, a table for three at the Cheesecake Factory. "We'll take some cheesecake home to Daddy for later. Now, let's go see Madagascar II"

"Taxi!?!" Sarah's first ride in a cab. Girls gone wild, windows rolled down, screaming hello to every pedestrian and cross guard in the street.

We watched Madagascar II in the front row of the theater, walked about a mile back to our hotel in the brisk cold evening. We oo'd and awed at the Coach bags and fancy shoes in the store windows. Sienna wanted to know where the faces and heads of the women in the windows were. I told her, "They're mannequins."

She'd say, "No. They're women-iquins." We stopped to pet a horse. The horse tried eating her leopard coat. She screamed, we laughed. She took her coat off because she said it had horse slobber on it. We ran briskly to our warm hotel room. We got ready for a slumber party, Daddy came back from his conference. We snuggled while sharing the cheesecake and we...

kung fu panda Pictures, Images and Photos
... watched pay per view, "Kung Fu Panda," more like Kung FUN Panda. He's so cute when he says "dumplings" and "noodles."

Then, after a night of slumber, we woke up. Walked to a pancake joint just up the street if I remembered correctly. But I didn't remember correctly because it was 12 blocks away! We still walked there and Fred forgot his coat so he was freezing!!! We shared a dutch baby pancake and other yummy breakfast food, grabbed a couple of balloons and headed back to our hotel room, walking running and rushing trying to find shelter from the wind blasts blowing from the tsunami lake effect wind along the Magnificent Mile. We went through the rotating door and the girls took turns pressing the elevator buttons up to our room. We settled into our hotel room for the morning and waited for the shops and Navy Pier to open in a couple of hours.

I found myself staring and adoring the art and design elements of the metro styled interior of our hotel room.
Artwork on the wall.
More Artwork on the wall.
Design on the pillows - which I hope to 'refabricate' when I get home!

And, there is artwork that Sienna created.
Clearly, this is a butterfly resting inside a butterfly house. As soon as we plopped down, I was ready to relax for a little while. My seven year old had another mission. She asked for a Sharpie so she could draw faces on the balloons. No Sharpie, how about tape? Stapler? Glue? Crayons?

After I searched through my purse like Mary Poppins, I pulled out fantastic chewing gum wrappers. I imagined Sienna would be so thrilled to design some origami, but she looked like I just pulled a booger out of my purse, her lip curled up and her eyes rolled in the back of her head. I told her that was the best I had. Minutes later, she showed me the butterfly artwork that she created out of bathroom paper items. Inspiring.

(How come she can work on this, with zero assistance but cannot do simple things like her easy homework or brush her teeth?)

Now, this would have been the best time to drive home. Right about at this moment, we make a serious pivotal point from happiness to disaster in our journey in the city...

We then check out, go through the revolving door (I love this act just as much as my girls do! Don't ask me why, I am a city girl I guess!), hop in another cab, walk into the Navy Pier. Instantly, I hear grumbling and whining and arguing and I start nagging and people start glaring! Oh joy.

I get eye level, tell the girls that if they are both very good during this fun adventure, I will buy them the mood rings that they are oodling over right before we leave. It will help us to remember what a fun time we had. But, if they argue or whine any more, then, no ring.

We then tried to find the elevator up to the Children's Museum but got distracted by all the shops that glimmered in my eyes like jewels in a treasure chest!
anime heart eyes Pictures, Images and Photos
I love shops.

We ventured into Build-a-Bear shop and even I was on sensory overload. Their florescent lights hummed and, in pure Dr. Suess style, I would describe the experience like this:
"The lights zimmer-zammered and bizzer-bammed in my ears."

Then this happened:
Tornado Lightning together Pictures, Images and Photos
Sienna threw a tantrum in tsunami proportions.

She screamed at me, told me she was hungry. We bee-lined it to Mc'Ds. I stood in line, four people back and made sure the girls were both within eye-shot. With one eye on Sienna and the other eye on Sarah, cross-eyed I paid the lady, took a deep breath and waited for our tray of fat and carbs. Then, I lost sight of Sarah as she ran faster than a bolt of lightening to the other side of the food court so she could take shelter under the high chairs. I left my tray at the counter. As I wrestled our coats, shopping bags and stroller and tried to navigate through the crowds, I lost total sight of Sarah. I panicked and started calling out for her. I then could not find Sienna either. Imagine the chaos. All I could see were people staring at me. The room swirled around me and I felt like I was in a sinus commercial, everything went fuzzy. I was seconds close to calling for this:
Amber Alert Hellas Pictures, Images and Photos
When I tried asking for some help from some of the ladies working at McD's I realized that the only English they knew were Big Mac and Diet Coke. As they looked at me puzzled, from afar running out of the food court I spotted little Sienna in a rampant escape! I caught up with her, picked up the 40 pound 2 year old. Her back arched tight and stiff like a femaldahide-injected banana.

Then noticed big sis Sienna was hiding and crying nearby all the while trying to keep tabs on her little sister. I tried to ask big sis to get the tray but by the first word I muttered towards her, she shook with fear (in an autism coma as I call it) and I could tell she was not able to communicate with me. With my weak arms full of stiff banana toddler, stroller overflowing with coats, I knew I could not manage retrieving the tray. I considered leaving the tray at the counter and walking outside with both girls towards Indiana. But, I tried a more challenging approach and asked several ladies behind the McD counter to help me with my tray. I finally was able to get one lady, an African American to help me with the tray and bring it to the first booth I could find. We plumbed down, dumped our coats as the stroller fell to the floor, backwards as if to mimic my own exhaustion.

I overheard an African American gentleman mutter to the nice lady who brought us our tray of food as she put it on the table, "After Obama is president, we won't be required to do things like that anymore. Right on?" They both laughed. Although, I found no humor in their banter.

A deep breathe and a cold-fish-filet-chased-down-by-a-Diet-Coke-moment later, we relaxed in our booth. Sarah fell asleep in her stroller, now upright - symbolizing the next few minutes that awaited before us. We then, took a walk outside in the quiet coldness of the pier. Sienna, on her own terms, clutched onto my arm, fearful yet safe by her mother's side. In an attempt to absorb this moment of sheer sanity, I admired the stoic skyline. Frozen from the wind and the current stark reality, in my head I played dot-to-dot as I traced all of the positions that my career moved me from company to company and building to building through the chapters of my life:

Chicago Pictures, Images and Photos
Historic moments in my life, historic and memorable, the good and the bad. Mostly good though.

The cold air blew us indoors, we found the elevator up to the museum and paid the $4000 for admission. Sienna played and hopped from one exhibit to the next. I tried to keep Sarah resting in her stroller. Minutes later however, when she woke up, she threw an hour long tantrum. We could have started our own exhibit and called it, "Sensory Overload." With the many people watching, I could have charged admission for the freak show. The Nature Channel's narrator would whisper, "Watch as the angry mother tries to chase her wandering arm-flapping off spring... Now, what are they doing? Oh, the child is licking the floor. Why doesn't that mother do something to protect her child from the infestations of germs and infections?"

Ignoring the assumptions and judgments from the metropolitan peanut gallery, I finally forced a rain coat on her flapping and slapping arms so she could play in the water exhibit. Seconds later she realized that I was not that awful after all:
After playing with water for two hours, seriously, both girls played for two hours...

I encouraged them to try to see the other parts of the museum. They did, although, I was not the graceful mother I wanted to be. Every transition from one exhibit to another was a major feat. I wanted to be like that mother over there... the one with the tight size 4 jeans, sexy boots, turtle neck and metro beret cap, the one with four obedient children AND their play dates all going when she requested in a calm voice. The same mom who had the perfect stroller that could turn on a dime and looked like she just came fresh faced from the Sephora counter. I wanted to be a mom like this:
she hot Pictures, Images and Photos

Instead, I was more like this mom:
... a sweating screaming tired psycho-mom who just wanted her girls to have a good time, damnit.

As my cell phone rang, I was wishing it was Fred telling me his conference got out early and he was on his way to pick us up. Instead, it was Fred just checking in. I gave him the Cliff-note version of our experience and he told me he would come pick us up in an hour.

painting pumpkin carriage Pictures, Images and Photos
Apparently, the fairy god mother forgot to tell us we needed to leave the city before the strike of ten or else everything would turn into a pumpkin.

And that by the three o'clock hour, the glass slippers shoes would be kicked off and fly around the museum, and the pumpkins would be more like this:

But luckily, our Prince Charming Daddy arrived right out front, drove us out of the windy city, bought us ice cream and...
... we all lived happily ever after.

The End. To Be Continued...


lynnmosher said...

Oh, dear! I'm pooped just reading this. My heart goes out to you. I'll certainly continue to pray for you! Hope the trip was fun despite the setbacks! Blessings...Lynn

Lilly said...

What a fairy tale! A bit of everything but didnt you handle that all well. You look gorgeous and you dont want to look like the other mother - its like an even skinnier version of Sienna Miller, nah. Sounds like it was fun. I have done my share of entertaining kids while waiting for someone else to finish conferences etc. Not the best is it when the kids get SO bored and fed up with it all. Thanks for the great pics and I love those cushions as well!!! I also laughed at your comment on my blog - you are one creative lady - I lvoe that idea maybe you could call them mood bags. And different colours signified moods and you knew when to approach others or not, he he. Too funny, loved it!

Jenni said...

That is QUITE a trip! I looooove their coats! How cute! I often find myself feeling like Mommie Dearest...

Elizabeth Channel said...

I feel like I was there! (I agree with Jenni, those coats are gleeful!)

I'm doing a similar gig in DC the first week of December...this is making me both very afraid and very excited!

Great post!

followthatdog said...

I can't even imagine losing track of your child in a strange city. Our zoo experience was terrifying enough. I'm glad you were able to find her quickly.
And on a side note, your kids are beautiful.