Number of days we have lost with our daughter due to the negligence of the state of Illinois: 35 (We've now lost more than a month.)
When it's the middle of March, you have cousins in town, and the thermometer says 70 degrees (after a month of being colder than Alaska), what do you do? You don't spend it inside, that's for sure. We decided to go downtown and play tourist and show our nieces a little of the city.
First we went to Millennium Park. Here are many of us on the bridge which crosses Monroe from the Art Institute to the park. The bridge is heated which is great if there is snow and ice, but felt a little odd on such a warm day.
This was a common sight. The little girls adore their big cousin.
Then it was time to go visit The Bean (or whatever its official name is). Because you can't really visit Chicago without seeing it, can you?
K. and G.
And then the requisite group photo in front of it. When I looked at this picture after we got home, I realized that many children are scowling. They were having fun, I assure you.
Well, everyone except G. who decided that a group picture was not what she wanted to do.
Then we decided to head over to the new Maggie Daley park and see what was open. We've been driving by it on Lake Shore Drive while it was being built and everyone has been very interested in watching it go up. If you have been keeping an eye on it as well, you can also read this as a quick review.
There are multiple play areas, with some still be constructed. They have age ranges posted as to what age group they are suitable for. There were some very cute preschool areas, my favorite was the harbor with wooden boats hung on chains so little people could sit in them and they would slightly move back and forth like the boat was really on water. I wanted to take a picture of them, but they were always occupied so I couldn't get one. We didn't really spend any time in these areas since for possibly the first time in my parenting career we had no toddlers in tow.
Instead, we headed to this:
Three large towers, a swinging bridge, multiple slides... everyone could have stayed here all day.
My niece and P.
What are they looking at? Why this:
While everyone else quickly took off and were climbing like monkeys and sliding like otters, H. was a little lost. Playing at a playground, despite three years of exposure just doesn't come naturally to her. She still isn't sure enough of her own physical capabilities to just try something. Everything just looks scary to her. J. and I each spent some time encouraging her to try things. The fact that she did was pretty huge because there have been plenty of times when no amount of coaxing could convince her to venture out of her very small comfort zone.
Today was a banner day. First, J. convinced her to try the slide. I think the fact that little tiny children were doing this one was enough to convince H. she could do it. You can tell looking at this picture, though, that going down the slide is really not at the top of H.'s list of things she wants to do.
But she did it!
The other things she discovered she could do was walk up and down on these sloped green surfaces. These are around the entire park and were hugely popular with all the children. Some were very steep and others were slightly sloped. It made for many more play surfaces other than the structures. At first, H. was completely freaked out by them and it was like we were back in the mountains of New Hampshire after she first came home. After a lot of encouraging, she finally tried moving around on them and discovered she could do it. Here she is voluntarily climbing up a very steep one towards P. and her cousin.
One of the big slides was a huge hit with nearly everyone.
TM (who for some reason always came shooting out faster than anyone else)
Here is a photo of the whole slide.
The park still isn't finished and there are still whole areas that are blocked off and under construction. Some of them looked very intriguing. And every so often you would see a construction worker working on a part that was already open. To be filed under "things which make you go hmmmm".
At one point we lost L., but with so many people to split up and search she was quickly found. When the search party disbanded and quickly went back to the towers, I spent some time with H. Earlier she had watched everyone have a lot of fun on this pipes which function as slides. I was able to convince her to give it a try.
Look at her!
She pronounced it very fun and did it a few more times. We then wandered somewhere else and she voluntarily, of her own accord, started to climb on something. To me this was a huge success.
Then it was lunchtime (we had brought a picnic) and we sat at one of the many picnic tables to eat it.
The whole group
Walking on the logs which surround the picnic area
The whole group again.. this time looking as though they are having a good time
Other than the big slides, the other popular structure were the nest swings. There were only three of them at the park and I anticipate that everyone will wish there were more. My children also thought putting one in the backyard would be an excellent idea. (Having just searched for them, I am a little concerned that the stores selling them don't list the price, but ask that you contact them. That never bodes well for something that is affordable.)
Here you can see how high they can go.
It was just about time to leave when H. decides she wants to try a bigger slide. So she did... she just wanted to be sure I was taking a picture.
Afterwards we drove to Lincoln Park Zoo where we met friends and walked around a bit. After a couple of hours, though, people were really starting to droop so we headed home.
My quick thoughts on Maggie Daley Park are that it is very fun and it will be interesting to see what else is added when they are finally done. My crew had a ball. Even today, on a weekday morning, it was pretty crowded and more people were coming after lunch when we were leaving. I can't imagine what it will look like in the summer. I think we may stick with school day mornings. There is a lot to do and something for every ability. I will add, though, that the different play areas are rather spread out and separated. If I were going with a toddler and a school age child, I would want another parent along to help keep track of everyone. Trying to supervise both ages at once could be difficult.
Everyone is now relaxing in front of a movie and we're going to have banh xeo for dinner. It's been a great visit with my nieces and we'll be sad to see them go home tomorrow.
I have a new article up. You Live in Illinois and Want to Adopt? My Condolences Please share this one as much as possible... it's my ongoing attempt to get Illinois to care about children.