For the first time in more than a year, all four of us were home at the same time. In the much-too-short weekend we managed to squeeze in a wedding, a birthday party, two brunches, Chicago-style hot dogs, a hipster shop, a beach trip and a street fair. Ain’t too shabby for less than 48 hours in Sweet Home Chicago.
The adventure started Friday morning with a 10 a.m. flight out of NYC. Katie, who has been bravely conquering her fear of flying, can get through the 1.5 hr flight with just 1 “Our Father” and 2 “Hail Mary”s. This is a substantial reduction from an entire flight of prayer. Oh, an empty stomach and a rum & coke (or sprite & vodka) mid-flight supplements divine intervention.
As we walked off the plane to arrivals, we wandered “ya think they’ll have a sign?” Yes, they had a sign! I presume Sean’s girlfriend, the lovely Laura, was the brains (and hand) behind our welcome home greeting.
This is Sean’s favorite pose for the next six weeks as his wrist heals. The guy who knots his shoelaces 8 times, stepped on his shoelace last week while jogging and broke his styloid process of ulna.
Being a one-armed fourth year medical student may be tricky, but at least he can still drive us around Chicago. Our first stop was for an afternoon snack at this hipster little shop. Since everyone loves combo shops (pizza hut/taco bell anyone?) this boasts a photography studio, bikes, accessories and a coffee counter with milk and cookies.
We were hoping for milk on tap (apparently the maintenance and cleaning is too expensive), but were equally happy with a selection of eight different milks. We chose strawberry, vanilla, chocolate, and almond. Surprisingly, for a milk and cookie shop they only had four different flavors, so we got two of each. They were pretty decent, but not anything mind-blowing. However, it was fun to eat our milk and cookies at our tiny table and chairs designed for children. The owners even came to take pictures of us enjoying our treats.
Still hungry, we headed right next door for a classic Chicago-style hot dog and onion rings. Some protested a bit that we should save room for dinner, but Anna was determined to try Muskie’s. And thank goodness she’s stubborn because the onion rings were perfection. Apparently the hot dogs (with relish and no ketchup!) are delicious as well.
When we finally made it home our street never looked so beautiful. In New York City you forget about green lawns and sidewalks blanketed in trees. To us, it might as well have been a tropical rain forest. Dad greeted all his babies home on the front porch. This family doesn’t believe in personal space. Especially not when pouring through baby pictures of Sean.
Katie was all business decorating Dad’s birthday cake. A lemon cake with cream cheese frosting made completely from scratch by Laura and Sean.
This is dad’s too-much-birthday-fun face. We may have forced dad to wear a t-shirt we made him about 15 years ago. For such an old shirt it looks surprisingly new … hmmm. Suspicious. Dad chose to order Columbian food from one of his favorite neighborhood restaurants: rice, beef, chicken, plantain, beans, and salad. Dad got to use the traditional birthday plate and fancy wine glass. That plate of food actually looks slightly sad (some would call beans & rice “prison food”), however it was a delicious. Everything tastes even better when enjoyed on our back deck among the flowers. It’s important to start rehabilitating the wrist quickly, so we had Sean carry out the cake. It was risky, but he didn’t drop it!Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you!Happy Birthday dear John/Dad!Happy Birthday to you!Often store-bought cake tastes just as good as homemade, but this cake was amazing. There was tons of real lemon in it and it wasn’t too sweet. As Kathleen said, it had the illusion of lightness.
Ice cream, blueberries and two plates of brownies topped it off. As dessert ended we had a surprise guest, Aunt Maureen!She had been at the rehearsal dinner so she practiced her reading with us.
We lingered around the dinner table, under the Christmas lights and citronella candles, till we succumbed to sleepiness. We were jet-legged after all! Plus we needed our beauty sleep for the big wedding day. Sean, always ready with his “goodbye” arm.
Happy Birthday dad!