To Chicago, and Beyond!

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Now that I’ve finished properly stretching my blogging fingers, I can face the task at hand. Five days. Two cities. Three states. Hours and hours of traffic and planes. Over a hundred photos. Back in the day, we’d break something like this into multiple posts. Not this time. We’re going to push through the whole weekend even if it makes this our longest post to date.

It began simply enough. We wanted to go to my cousin’s wedding in Michigan, but found that direct flights in the aircraft size we wanted at the times we wanted were unobtainable. It was determined that we’d leave a little early and spend a day in Chicago. Thus began our fateful journey.


Blissfully unaware of what awaits. Note: The blue thing in Owen’s left ear is an earplug. It lasted two minutes before finding its way into his mouth.


Max spent an inordinate amount of time watching Toy Story 2 and the engines lulled Owen to sleep.

Upon our arrival, I immediately abandoned my family by dashing out to upgrade our rental car, stuff a couple of car seats in the back, and immediately rush back to pick everyone up. Due to the configuration of the vehicle, the boys got to sit right next to each other in their car seats. This meant that they were forced to interact with each other.


Apparently Owen thinks it’s hilarious when Max pretends to sleep.

The rest of the evening was taken up by an ill-fated trip out for deep dish pizza (totally my fault) and the realization that Owen would not be sleeping in the pack and play that we dragged across the country.


…he did sleep for a few minutes, which gave me some time to mess with the camera. Should have slept instead.

After a mostly sleepless night, we dragged ourselves out of bed for our complimentary breakfast, after which Owen decided it was time to do some catching up.


Why should I sleep in a pack and play when we have this king-sized bed?

After letting him sleep off a little of his emerging cold and some of the leftover tiredness from the night before, we decided to head out to Max’s favorite eatery so the boys could have a touch of normal.


We were going to wait until he was a year old to give him ice cream, but he was so sad we couldn’t help but feel sorry for the little guy.

The afternoon (sans nap) actually went a little better. We dragged our sleepy brood out to the aquarium, where Max spent his time briefly pointing at things before running on to the next tank.


A fish!


An octopus!


A boat!


A starfish!


A submarine!


A penguin!


A dolphin!


Amazingly enough, Owen saw some stuff too. A giant lizard!

Max did his best to stay awake through all of that, but he finally gave in after we got into the car.


Owen, of course, thought his brother was joking. This meant that he would spend the entire trip back to the hotel laughing at him and pulling on his sleeve.

After another low-sleep night we made our way out to the big event in Michigan. At this point in our sleep deprivation we were happy to be able to hand the children off to anyone who would take them.


Hooray for Nan!

The next couple of days were actually much more relaxing than our time in Chicago. The lodge we were staying in had plenty of space for the boys to run around and plenty of couches for relaxing.


Wait. No. Wrong photo.


There we go. Relaxing.

Of course, with the cousins there it wasn’t all just laying around.


There was also the meeting of new cousins!


…and the dancing with existing cousins…


…and the offering of playing cards to me by new cousins…


…and the tickling…always with the tickling…

That evening we headed back out to the lake house of our lovely hosts, which was located a short way down a gentle rocky path. This of course meant that we’d be desperately trying to snap a photo of these two.



Once we arrived, Max quickly found his way to the nearest possible toy. He’s always been a big fan of the small free-spinning wheels they install in playgrounds. Clearly this was way better.


Batten down the jib! I’m pulling her hard to scarboard!*

*Misuse of nautical terms intentional, to annoy my dad


Oh hey, there he is now.

The following day, we decided to take a trip down to the nearby beach. Due to our landlocked status at home, this would actually be the first time Max had ever seen a body of water this large, much less one adjacent to a bunch of sand.


Needless to say, he had a great time. The water was ridiculously cold, but he didn’t seem to care as he ran through it.


We once caught a Max…THIS big.

My lovely wife even managed to snag a great photo of me and my siblings.


What? The sun is bright!


Okay, fine. Here’s the good one.

Playtime continued when we returned to the lodge. This time, we pulled Uncle Ryan into the fun.


Yes, I told him to do that.




Oh good, the little guy woke up for a few minutes.

Speaking of little guys, it didn’t take long for these two to find each other.


Who knew a suction bowl would double as a toy?

They seemed to enjoy their time playing together, though they had a tendency to mostly ignore each other unless we prodded them to interact.

As the day moved along, the time came to get everyone all dressed up for the party. This inevitably led to group photos.


Sorry for the offset, Papa was in the way!


Obligatory shot of Owen not paying attention.


Obligatory shot of Max trying to murder his brother.


Hooray! A mostly decent group shot.


Drown! Suffocate in the cuteness!


We try to keep it classy when we go to parties. Peekaboo with the nice linens.


Ahh, the half smile where you stick out your tongue at me but I don’t realize it until I review the photos. Well played, Emma.


We spent a little time tucked away in a side room to keep the kids from going crazy. Max found some Wallace and Grommit postcards to keep himself busy.


This is why. That’s not a flash artifact. It’s an acorn, headed right at me.


I think this may be the first photo I’ve ever taken of just my mom and dad. Not a bad looking couple.


No comment. Just had to include it.


Owen, of course, zonked out pretty early.


Meanwhile, back in that little side room…Max described this as a “baby fight”. He then spent the next ten minutes yelling “Baby fight!” and laughing hysterically.

Not too long after that, we made our way back to the lodge. Christy took the big guy up for bedtime, which left me holding a very tired baby. I decided to settle in on the couch, where he promptly fell asleep on my shoulder. It became clear that this was the first moment of calm in a trip that had been somewhat crazy to that point. Through the open windows, I listened to the rain making its way through the leaves. As I waited for Christy to return, I realized that this was also one of the few moments Owen has spent cuddling with me. He’s never really been one to snuggle, but the combination of illness and lack of sleep had clearly put him in the mood. All the things that had made the week more difficult for us had come together to give me these moments with my son. With all the insanity that had enveloped the weekend, it was nice to regain sight of the reasons I love being a dad.

I slept well that night. All indications are that Owen did not do the same. Many thanks go out to my wife for enduring his sleeplessness.


Not that you’d know he was having trouble sleeping, based on the photos.

The last day in Michigan was spent trying to get some last-minute time in with the family.


Which meant more tickling!


I’m just glad someone enjoyed the toy we bought for Owen.

With all of our goodbyes said, we made our way back to Chicago. We spent one last fitful night of sleep (Max flops around like a fish in bed…it’s insane) and one last trip through airport security with two car seats, a stroller, three backpacks, two kids, four pairs of shoes, and a camera bag. Then we were on our way home.



Max spent the entire flight, once again, watching Toy Story 2 repeatedly on the iPod. I’m pretty sure he has half of it memorized by now. Sadly, this was all an attempt to avoid taking a nap. About ten minutes after the captain requested that we turn off all of our electronic devices, this happened.


He didn’t even wake up when we landed.

We know how you feel, big guy.

Through all of the crazy, it was a really good trip. It was fantastic to see some family we hadn’t seen in years. Hopefully it won’t be quite so long before we see them again.

I guess I should probably close out what is almost certainly the longest post we’ve ever made on this blog.

To see the rest of the photos (yes, there’s more) from this week, you can click here.

I think I’ll go pass out or something.

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