Our journey to Chicago was little more than a glorified extended weekend, but it was a welcome change of pace. Neither Sumie nor I had been there before, though I had travelled to the Chicagoland area 20-30 times for work. In short, the city was entirely new territory for us. Thankfully, we had excellent guides in two friends we'd met back in New York, who were also kind enough to host us. Welcoming us into their home for the long weekend, they were determined that we get the full Chicago experience.
Jeremy and Julie, our guides, have two boys - Anthony and Henry. Here they are below with Mimi at one of the city parks.
One of the most amazing places we visited with the First Division Military Museum in Cantigny. This is a first-class museum with a totally immersive exhibit, beautiful grounds, and a full map of the site that you can walk over.
With the trip to Chicago done, we returned home, collapsed, and the geared up for the weekly grind of work, house cleaning, and the almost countless birthday parties that occur this time of year. One was particularly important: Mimi's. It was her 5th birthday, and she'd been talking about turning 5 since she was 3 years old. It was a big deal. We decided we'd invite her preschool friends up to our house for an afternoon of trampoline, water balloons, cake, and mayhem.
As with any party you host at your own home, preparation was needed. Sumie declared that we needed to do something about the front yard, so the month before I contracted landscapers to redo the front yard, tidy the back, and remove the large, unsightly bush that had become a 30 foot tree and blocked the street view of the house. As with other events we've hosted, company meant a chance for home improvements. I imagine we'll paint the exterior of the house or resurface the driveway for the next major shindig.
As the day of the party drew nearer, we realized that we'd be hosting over 30 people for a BBQ, which meant we had to upgrade the patio furniture. On a Wednesday before the party, I made a trip to Costco during my lunch break. I secured a trolley and, like a man possessed, hurriedly purchased a massive storage chest, an 11 foot patio umbrella, and an umbrella stand. The people at the check-out must've thought there was an emergency BBQ somewhere, and that I was providing support. Amazingly, this all fit in my little BMW 325 wagon, though the umbrella was jammed against the windshield and the rear glass of the hatch simultaneously. Anyway, the little car saw us through and all was assembled in time for the party.
As mentioned previously, the past two months have been pretty packed. We've had Mother's Day picnics, school birthday parties, school conferences, dental appointments, you name it. But, as always, we've found some time for some random fun. The other day, Mimi decided she wanted some glamour shots. Here's Mimi in her fancy dress.