One of the unexpected changes that comes into life after children, besides the new diet of heart-stopping beauty with the occasional dash of despair, is the attention you start paying to holidays. Christmas springs into technicolor, of course, but even the minor deities, say, the normally ignored Presidents' Day, becomes a day or two to actually celebrate.
We spent the four day holiday weekend in the city and now that the girls have turned a capable nine and a cooperative seven, family travel is getting better and better. I did forget some essentials (just my toothbrush and mascara and underwear and tweezers) but Walgreen's comes to the rescue and if Randy is not worried about me slowly losing my memory, well then we'll just focus on the current moment, how about that?
And a lot of fun moments were to be had, especially when we took bus rides which feel like adventures to my suburban girls. On Monday, we took a double 221 up Michigan Avenue (we sat right in the center between the two joined buses and squealed when the accordion walls squeezed as we turned corners) to the Chicago History Museum, where there was all sorts of Presidents' Day crafts and presentations and crowds. We learned that Chicago has more moveable bridges than any other city in the world ("Thirty-eight!" chimes in my sponge of a girl, Mia), that the most common double drawbridge type is formally called a trunnion bascule, which translates to "see-saw" from the French, and that kids pay much more attention to the lecturer when they get to move little model bridges on a low table of wooden waterways and shorelines.
We also learned about the life of presidential children from two dynamic historical reenactresses playing maids and nannies and secret service. They charmed the rapt buffs in the audience, made us giggle with stories of burping First Babies and made me gasp with the horrid factoid that President Obama receives thirty death threats a day.
"What? What?" whispered Mia. The show was coming to an end. As we filed out, I gave my Radiance and her little Rosebud of a sister a gentle translation beginning with, "Remember when we were talking about people who are mentally ill?"
Our sixteenth president and his wife were standing in the foyer, greeting visitors but I neglected to grab the teaching moment and make the connection between executive dangers and poor Mr. Lincoln -- the sight of him and Mary Todd was such a delight.
After lying in a child-size hot dog bun and sending Daddy a virtual postcard about our CHM adventures, we hopped on the Clark Street bus for points south. Got off at Daley Plaza where Mommy remembered something about a new sweet shop in the new Block 37 mall -- it was Magnolia Bakery!
Me, so proud: "Does Mommy deliver?"
Girls dutifully chime in, "Mommy delivers."
Cupcakes like a fluffy dream, Nora's pink frosting adorned with a tiny sugar daisy; Mia's purple has sprinkles. My never-shy little one strikes up a conversation with the icing workers behind the counter while Mia takes some of my red tea and adds sugar and ice to her liking.
We are pumped and ready to skate. Two blocks east to Millennium Park, skate rental, a short wait for the Zamboni and we were on the ice! Wait a minute - this stuff is slippery! And hard as a rock! Mia shuffled, Nora interrupted the young woman practicing her spins in the middle to request a lesson and I shook my booty to the piped-in golden oldies. "Hey Carrie Ann! What's your game now, can anybody play?"
A few rounds of the ice and one hard fall later, we were ready to call it a day. Dinner with Daddy and the end of a great day.