Katherine, Lyla and I headed to Chicago this past weekend to meet up with our dear San Diego friends Jaime and Danielle who we hadn't seen since we abandoned them in July of 2007 (known as the Summer of Our Discontent to the fun timers). We drove down on Saturday morning (after deciding not to try and leave Friday night because someone... I won't name names... decided to be wide awake from 2:30 am to 5:15 am on Thursday night, thus limiting the amount of sleep the Driver for the Chicago trip got). We arrived and met up with my cousin Jen and cousin-in-law Matt who moved to Chicago 6 weeks ago for work and adventure. After a couple minutes driving around looking for parking (ah, cities...) we went up and saw there place which is awesome and in a great neighborhood. I was impressed with how much they've set it up in only six weeks. Katherine and I have been known to not get fully settled in for long periods of time when we've moved in the past. Jen, Matt, Kevin, Katherine, and Lyla went to lunch at this great Thai restaurant called Oodles of Noodles. Katherine kept remarking how she had forgotten about Thai food since we haven't found a restaurant in Grand Rapids (I'm not saying one doesn't exist, but they aren't prominent in the 'hoods we roll in). The food was delicious, including (but not limited to) pot stickers that were the size of Lyla's fist and muy delicioso!!
After lunch we drove over to our friends Chris and Beth's condo where we were going to spend the night. We got settled in and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing. Dinner that night was a Mexican restaurant not to far from where the live. It was good, but not as good as the Thai (seriously, imagine going over a year without Thai food and then breaking the fast with an amazing meal). The rest of the night involved putting Lyla to bed, talking, and watching the end of the Matrix.
The next morning we got up and went to breakfast at Milk and Honey, a local, um, restaurant. I can't think how to describe the food other than "delicious". I had a huevos rancheros casserole that was piping hot but delicious. We met our friend Krina there and had a wonderful time catching up. After returning to the condo, some of us got naps, some of us got to watch Ghost Rider (no comment), some of us got to load the car. Fun times!!
Then we headed to the water front to meet up with Jaime and Danielle who were in town for a wedding and finished all their activities. We met at the Shedd Aquarium which is like a zoo for fish. We had a good time walking around looking at all the marine life and supplement our pretty decent knowledge of marine life with various factual tidbits. Mainly the aquarium was context for catching up on the many many life changing happenings of the past year for both of us.
Man it was great to see them. And it was great to see them with Lyla. I don't know that many people who are like this so it was great to see it in both Jaime and Danielle but they are just natural parents. I'm not sure how best to describe it... it's like a combination of love, gentleness, confidence, and playfulness that children can't help but be attracted to and comforted by. Now Lyla is a good kid and very cheerful around people but there was definitely something more with Jaime and Danielle; something I didn't expect to be drawn out in only the six or so hours we spent together. Anyway, seeing them was bittersweet because we were reminded how awesome they are and because we were reminded how awesome they are.
All in all it was an awesome weekend considering we went there and back and spent quality time with seven different people all under 40 hours. Here are pictures that Jaime took with his super camera. I'll post the mediocre ones we took with our camera later.
Lyla looking for things to do in the guidebook:
Lyla and Daddy marvelling at the reflective power of the "bean":
Family portrait under the "bean":