Saturday, September 15, 2007

Chicago - Day 5 (last day!)

On our last day in Chicago, we went to Shedd Aquarium. Here's a photo of Alexandra in front of some jelly fish.

We really enjoyed the dolphin show - though it was only 15 minutes long! It was nice that school was back in session as there were not very many people there. They said up until a few days earlier, the place had been packed!

Although many of the computer games were broken, when they worked, they were one of our favorite things! In this game, you tried to save the sea horses!

Chicago - Day 4 - Hershey

Another of Alexandra's favorite places in Chicago was the Hershey's store. Yum! She got to crank some handles and fill her own bucket of chocolate (which we're still eating on).

And, she got to design her own cupcake. Wow! Chocolate cupcake with chocolate fudge icing and Hershey bars for a face. It was yummy, but she (we!) barely ate any of it and then accidentally left it somewhere.
After this, we went across the street to the Ghiradelli store and my mom & Alexandra shared a sundae while I had a chocolate shake. Delicious! (And that was pretty much dinner for the night - great mom, huh?) :-)

Chicago - Day 4 - Art Institute

On Day 4, we spent over 6 hours at the Art Institute of Chicago - and we could have stayed much longer! (Or come back a second day!) We were so excited to see so many artists... and specific paintings!... that we recognized.

Alexandra took a photo of each suit of armor.

I got excited to run into a few Precissionism paintings by Demuth that I had studied just a few weeks earlier!

We saw lots of paintings by Georgia O'Keefe.

American Gothic by Grant Wood - I'd always thought this was a farmer and his wife, but it is a farmer and his daughter!

Alexandra looking at one of the miniature room displays - there were probably 50 or so and they were so small and detailed! We both love miniatures.

I was excited to recognize this as a painting by Thomas Cole, Father of the Hudson River School of Art I also studied recently. And, my mom could even remember his 5 components of art I'd shared with her. He thought each piece of art should have: still water, a water feature, mountains, sky, and trees. (This is from memory - I'll have to look at my notes to make sure I got it right.)

Alexandra in front of Mary Cassatt's The Child's Bath - one of our favorites! We stayed in front of this one quite a while.

Alexandra (and I!) got so excited to see this one. It is one of Picasso's paintings of Sylvette, "The Girl with the Ponytail." This one was titled Portrait of Sylvette David. We came to love this painting by reading the book Picasso and the Girl with the Ponytail by Laurence Anholt. Great book and great story!

A painting by Picasso we see in books - Mother and Child.

This painting is called Rainy Street by Caillebotte. I took it because it was on the cover of a brochure Alexandra was carrying around. We bought the tour book and Alexandra loved looking through it and finding paintings that were in her book. It was like a scavanger or treasure hunt!

Another one Alexandra got very excited about since we'd studied it. This one is Acrobats at the Cirque Fernando by Renoir.

Another Picasso (who we're currently studying) from his Blue Period - The Old Guitarist.

Another example of Seurat's Pointilism which Alexandra was thrilled to recognize - Bathers at Asnieres.

Another we recognized - Van Gogh's Self Portrait.

And another we recognized - Bedroom in Arles by Van Gogh.

LOTS of Monet's!!!

And, a highlight was seeing Seurat's large painting, Sunday afternoon on La Grande Jatte. My mother has memories of seeing this painting when she was a little girl, and I hope Alexandra always remembers this special day when we saw so many incredible pieces of art!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Turtle Trip

While in Chicago (and I know I still need to post about days 4 and 5!), we saw this turtle at Shedd Aquarium. We watched him for maybe 10 minutes while he SLOWLY stretched out a foot as he TRIED to climb down this STEEP slope. I really wasn't sure he could do it. I thought he might fall on his back.

Well, twice I turned on my recorder to see what I could catch on film. The second time, he made it!!! He slid QUICKLY down the hill... and was still right-side up. He was very still after this and Alexandra wondered if he'd died. I told her, "No, he's probably resting after that scary ride!"

So, enjoy this little turtle as he rests up and gets ready for some food. (Why do you think they made it so hard for him to get to his food?)

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chicago - Day 3 - Field Museum

Well, I guess it was actually day 3 that we took the subway. Anyway, I think the main reason it was a little "scary" was because it was almost empty. There were only 3 other people waiting. Anyway, we made it and it is a FAST ride! At each stop, you stop very quickly. You have to really listen for your stops or you'll get messed up. Thankfully, we made our stop just fine.

Our big stop for the day was the Field Museum. Wow!!! We could have spent several days here. We actually spent most of our time at only 2 exhibits - Egypt and the birds.

Doesn't this remind you of "Night at the Museum?" (There is a large T-Rex at the end of this grand hall.)

We didn't get to the museum until almost noon. (This is the day that transportation took about an hour.) They were having a tour of the Egypt exhibit at noon, so we decided to start there. We'd studied Egypt last year and my mom is interested in it, too.

This was one of the best parts of our trip. The tour lasted 30 minutes and our guide, John, was great. He was impressed when Alexandra answered some questions and knew about amulets. After the hour tour, he said he was free to answer questions. Well, we stayed with him for another 30 minutes as Alexandra asked questions (and so did I) and he showed us more of the exhibit. He told me that he had been a teacher who had been taught that homeschooling parents were "bad." But, after giving tours to both public school kids and homeschool kids, he is very impressed with homeschoolers. And, I just needed this reaffirmation - that I'm really doing a good job and she's really learning. And so am I!!! (This photo shows John writing Alexandra's name in heiroglyphics!)

After lunch (McDonald's on-site), we went to the bird exhibit. There are hundreds of birds! And, Alexandra was so excited. We saw so many birds we've seen on our birding trips, read about, etc. She was literally jumping up and down. We probably were in this area for over 1.5 hours - just looking at birds!
This was a cool hand-dryer we've never seen before. Alexandra decided to "dry" her whole body!
That night, we went to Navy Pier which we'd visited 3 years before. We walked around, watched a magic show, and let Alexandra ride this swing ride before riding the ferris wheel. This was the biggest ride she's ever been on, and I found it pretty scary! But, she LOVED it!
Here's a photo of Alexandra after our ride on the ferris wheel. I was suprised that it never speeds up... and it never stops! You get one time around and then hop off so the next group can hop on.

We went out for chicago-style pizza that night at Deau's. (I think I'm spelling it right.) My mom loved it all, I loved the crust, and Alexandra loved the stringy cheese.

Our last stop of the night was a little grocery store. They had a sign that said if you found the cow, you would win a prize. While I was paying for some fresh fruit, my mom and Alexandra searched for the cow... and found it! She won a pack of 3 delicious candy bars. She was so happy!

Chicago - Day 2 - American Girl Place

Our second day in Chicago started at the American Girl Place. This was the main reason we picked Chicago. Alexandra took her Jess doll, which was the Girl of the Year from 2005. She's homeschooled, too! And, my mom had Molly which is from when she was a little girl. (Hey! And, a rare photo of me!)

We started with a nice brunch - it was a large meal, complete with dessert. Each doll gets her own seat that connects to the table and her own cup and saucer. There is also a little box on the table (black with white spots and pink ribbon) that has conversation topics to discuss. We really enjoyed answering the questions - like "If you could be friends with 3 famous people, who would they be?" I remember Alexandra picked Abraham Lincoln, Harriett Tubman, and another historical figure (I'll have to ask her if she remembers.) This photo shows us with our dessert - white mousse and a heart-shaped sugar cookie.

Next came lots of shopping. There are 3 floors of shops! So, it took quite awhile to make some decisions. (Also, I fixed Alexandra's hair to match Jess's - both had pull-through ponytails.)

Alexandra ended up with a sleeping bag for Jess, a night-time party pack (pizza, games, etc), and some PJ's and a robe (some of the things she's looking at above). Jess & Molly had PJ parties every night.

Next, Jess got her hair styled in the doll saloon. We learned a few things about how to keep her hair looking nice, too! And, we'd been warned that this could be a lengthy process, but Jess only had to wait about 15 minutes.

Our last stop at the American Girl Place was the theater to see the American Girl Revue. This was a WONDERFUL musical. It briefly told the stories of the various historical dolls. Now, we want to read all of the books!

We had been able to walk to the American Girl Place as it was only a few blocks from our hotel. That afternoon, we went to the Museum of Science & Industry. We'd actually been there a few years before, so maybe that's why we didn't have as much fun. Also, we rushed for time and there were some very moldy carpets. We took the subway and a bus to get here. It was fun, and a little scary, to ride the subway. And, it took almost an hour between walking, the sub, etc. So, we took a taxi back.

We saw 3 bride & groom couples this day (Sunday). I thought it was pretty neat to see them and all of their wedding parties. We stopped and watched this group for awhile.

At the end of the day, my mom treated us to a horse and carriage ride. The weather was so beautiful! And the sights and sounds... just a wonderful time!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Chicago - Day 1 - Boat Ride

We didn't fly into Chicago O'Hare until the late afternoon. I waited an hour for my luggage, and my mom's never came... until the next morning. We had tickets for a boat ride that night (with Wendella), so we were already behind. Dinner would have to wait until after the ride... and after 8:30. We did get in a routine of eating brunch at around 9 or 9:30, lunch around 2 or 3, and dinner usually after 8 pm.

The boat ride was only a few blocks from our hotel, so we walked. The ride was also an architecture tour... and a sunset cruise on the Chicago River and Lake Michigan. It was a great way to start our trip!!!

From that first night, we were amazed by the beautiful architecture, statues, and flowers... everywhere we looked! I loved this circular parking garage. Looks kind of scary to park in!
We got to go through the Chicago Harbor Lock to get to the lake. They explained that the river flowed into the lake and in the "old" days (1800's) people used to throw their trash in the river and it'd go to the lake. So, they rebuilt things so the river would flow away from the lake. And, they built this "lock" so you could get to the lake. We explained it to Alexandra, but I think I want to build a model or something to explain it further. Any ideas?

While going through the lock, they had a police emergency and had to open the lock to let 4 police boats through. The water got very choppy with them speeding through while our boat was tied to the sides.

The lake was cool, but beautiful. We really got to get a good view of the city to start our trip off right!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Chicago - Getting Started

Last night Alexnadra and I got home from a 5 day trip to Chicago with my mom. What a wonderful trip!!! With about 600 photos, I'm not sure where to begin. *grin*
Of course, there is lots to do now that we're home - laundry, unpacking (almost done), etc. So, maybe I'll try to post about 1 day of our trip each day. Or, maybe I'll get caught up this weekend.

I'll just start by saying how surprised I was at how much we enjoyed Chicago. When I was little, we drove through Chicago sometimes and I remember it as being a scary place.

For this trip, we stayed in "the Loop" and mainly visited the museums in that area. It is a gorgeous city! There are flowers and statues everywhere. And, there are lots of friendly people. (We did end up using public transportation, so I didn't have to worry about the traffic.) I can't wait to share our trip with you all! But, for now... good night!