This past weekend I ventured to Chicago, again, this time with the whole clan. We had been considering going down for my mom’s 50th for sometime, but hadn’t made a final decision as we had to assess money and the dog situation. In the end it came down to the fact that it’s her birthday and for my 50th birthday I would hope that there would be some sort of hoopla. Especially after she mentioned being kind of down about getting older, etc and how thinking about seeing Bear for his birthday was what she’d think about to make herself feel better. With that comment I knew we were making the right decision in coming. I told my dad we were coming and he was less excited than I had hoped. He was very unresponsive in his emails but he was also in LA for the All Star game so he was busy I suppose. But even after he got back he wouldn’t commit to what we should do on Friday night when we arrive. How we should surprise her, if I should make dinner at home, go out for dinner, etc.
Boarding the dogs was better than I had thought. We ventured out in a bonafide blizzard to check out the place before we made reservations. It had to have been the most frightening exciting drive of my entire life. It was a complete white out, we could barely see 10 feet in front of us. I had to stick my head out the window and try to see if we were still in a lane because the windshield wipers froze on the passengers side and we couldn’t see well through that window. We passed quite a few accidents and missed quite a few exits because we couldn’t really see the off-ramp. The most frightening part was probably when we stopped having a car to follow and it was just nothingness around us. Quite surreal actually. A strange part of me loved the whole we-could-die-at-any-moment-ness of it.
The kennel was like the shelter where we got Elia. It was just metal cages stacked on top of each other and all the dogs were barking and it smelled of urine. Very unlike the one other boarding experience we had with Athens in which he had his own private wall papered room with a bed, tv, and a live feed we could watch him online from. It was also significantly less expensive than where we boarded Athens. For two dogs we were still paying less than just for boarding the 1 dog. In the end when we picked them up they were fine and the attendant said they had a good time, were super playful and full of personality. Cost me $124, but it was worth it. Not sure if I’ll be boarding them regularly by any means, but nice to know the option is around.
The drive wound up taking 7.5 hours, as I should have realized with two kids. Honestly I think the kids fared better than I did. I was dying to get there by the end especially because I was remarkably uncomfortable since I have to sit rather close up because of how far back the rear facing car seat goes. My legs needed to be half a foot shorter to be comfortable. The H also drove slower than I would have liked seeing as how I usually cruise in the 80-85 range to Chicago. But you know he was obeying the law and keeping his family safe, so understandable. Driving through Cheeseheadland we did pass quite a few protesters on bridges over the highway in the Milwaukee area which was interesting to see. Also, driving through the Dells has me extraordinarily desiring going to the Dells because its been more than 4 years since the last time I went (when newly pregnant with Bear) and I feel like Bear would really enjoy it. I’m tentatively planning a Dells excursion this summer. Thinking my parents could meet us there since its a nice halfway point between Chicago and Minnesota.
When we arrived at my parents house I was determined to surprise my mom beyond simply sitting in the living room when she arrived. However, things continuously didn’t go according to plan. I called her around 7 when she was getting off of work under the guise that I was feeding Bella and calling to chat. I tried to get an sense of when she’d be arriving, but she was stopping at a store on her way home so my plans were follied. So then I decided that Bear and I would wait in the elevator on the first floor so when she came home and opened the elevator we’d be there waiting. Unfortunately, she took the stairs. She found out we were there by seeing all of our stuff and then seeing the H and Bella in the living room playing video games with my dad. They needed to ring the elevator and send us up to the 3rd floor. Needless to say she was excited and surprised but it wasn’t remotely what I had planned.
Since my dad refused to plan anything, and he doesn’t take direction well so I didn’t feel like I could take control, we wound up having dinner at my parent’s house that my mom cooked. Then we watched The Social Network when the kids went to bed. I should say I watched it with my parents as the H fell asleep shortly into the movie. He always thinks I watch all these movies without him, but what really happens is that he falls asleep during 75% of the movies we watch. The next day we decided to go swimming, which I had the foresight to think about and packed the H and Bear’s swim trunks. I did however forget Bella’s swim diapers so when we went out to Baby Gap to get her suit that I had my eye on we had to pick those up as well as a swimsuit for me. I only own bikinis and the one I brought was obscene. Even if I were to ignore the rolls going on in the belly area I’m pretty sure the chest area was not family appropriate. And then I got two giant numbered balloons – a 5 and a 0 – despite the hefty price tag for a piece of plastic filled with helium. Finally we arrived at the pool (literally like 5 hours of planning for 45 minutes of swimming) But everyone had a great time so it was worth it.
Which became an ordeal. The H found all of this strangely amusing as this could never happen with our friends in Minnesota and yet other than being irritated it was completely in keeping with the norm for my Chicago group of friends. And reminded me of the aspects of high schoolness that I hate. Mostly because the immaturity of what happened completely imbues high school.
I had sent an email inviting all my friends to my house between 8 and 8:30 to see the baby (which they had never met) and to see Bear (which they’ve seen briefly and infrequently through the years). Everyone had a very positive response in coming and was excited. Quite a few people expressed moving things around in order to be able to come. Then the idea of going bowling afterwords was introduced. So the new plan became 8:30 my house and then bowling somewhat nearby. At around 8 the Ex-Fratboy called to say that he was in the car with the Future Porn Director and waiting for the Negotiator to come out. He wondered if it was really worthwhile for them to drive up or would the kids be asleep. I told him Bella was asleep but we’d wake her and that Bear was about. He said he’d call back. A bunch of the girls showed up between 8:30 and 8:45 and then it became apparent that the boys were in fact not going to make it. Bear entertained all of us by playing “school” he was the teacher and we were all the kids and he taught us all about dinosaurs. I got a text from The Porn Director that we should meet them at the bowling alley and let them know when we’re leaving. I wrote back and let him know that we were getting taught by Bear and it’d be awhile.
It became around 9:45 when Bear finally went down and I briefly woke up Bella against her (and the H’s will) and she grumpily saw everyone. Then the discussion turned to not bowling. Two people would go, but didn’t want to. Two people were going home no matter what. And one person wanted to eat. I knew that if I tried to talk to the Negotiator he’d yell at me and try to convince me to go. I’m not very good at standing my own and he’s very good about peer pressuring/guilting people into doing what he wants. I texted them telling them we wanted to stay in Evanston and get something to eat. He called at 10:15 and spoke with Ex-Gym who explained to him the situation. For basically an hour we went back and forth with texts and phone calls trying to figure this out. The boys were relentless in attesting that we were breaking the plan and unwilling to come to Evanston to eat. We pointed out that they broke the plan from the get go when they didn’t show up at 8:30 to see the kids. This point was ignored. In the end we said we’re going to Chili’s in Evanston hope you can meet us there. My last phone call with the Negotiator in which he continued to berate me ended in a way that made me feel like they were in fact going to show up at the restaurant and meet us. Then I got this text:
we don’t feel like we’d be able to hang out without feeling upset. XX is going home, ZZ is moving on with his night.
WTF? These are 3 grown men. Really? Really? How old are we? They were too upset that we didn’t want to go bowling to hang out with us. My other friend the Art Teacher ended work at 11 pm and drove the 30 minutes to meet us at Chili’s for an hour before we went home for the night. It was worth it to her to spend at least a little time with me while I was briefly in town to come out. But the boys who had known for over an hour the new plan were completely unwilling to accommodate anyone’s wants/needs besides their own. It was absurd. It also put quite a taint on the evening from my perspective and I still haven’t spoken to the 3 of them since. =/
Aside from the drama it was a great (albeit super brief) trip to Chicago!