Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Family Vacation to Chicago and Madison

Can you believe that my beautiful grandmother turned 99 this year?  She is an amazingly kind woman who can make the most amazing pie ever.  We decided to have a big birthday party to celebrate her 99th birthday and invited all her family and relatives. 

Kc, Noah, Ava, and I flew into Chicago a week before the big bash and enjoyed our first vacation as a family of four.  Noah was so excited to go on an airplane again.  Ava did quite well and slept most of the time in my arms.
We landed at the airport in Chicago and Noah got to ride in his first taxi.  He was quite excited but promptly fell asleep.  Traveling is hard work.
Our first day in Chicago started with a stroll down Michigan Avenue with a stop at the Lego Store.  Noah has fallen in love with Legos and goes back and forth between Star Wars and Super Heroes.  This larger than life Iron Man was quite a hit with my Bubs.
Chicago is truly a beautiful city!
We spent quite a bit of time at the Art Institute of Chicago.  Noah loved the sculptures and statues but I enjoyed the Impressionist Wing the most.  Ava, of course, slept through most of the museum.
We had dinner at Rick Bayless' Frontera Grill.  It was quite delicious.  On the way back to our hotel, we walked past a large Chicago Fire House that was open.  One of the fire chiefs was encouraging visitors to check out the fire trucks.  What a special treat!
Our second day in Chicago started at the Adler Planetarium. Daddy and Noah had a blast looking at all the planets, asteroids, space capsules, and rovers.
While the boys watched a movie in the domed theater, Ava and I spent some quality time together. 
Noah thought it would be fun to be an astronaut.
Next we headed over to the amazing Field Museum and saw the famous Sue.  Noah loved the huge dinosaur skeleton as well as all the large animals.  We had another delicious dinner at the Grand Lux Café and Noah enjoyed playing with Wikki-Stix,
This is the amazing view from our hotel.  Day...
and night!
A few days after we arrived in Chicago, Nana, Papa, Auntie Nessa, Uncle Drew, and Cuz Jonah joined us.  Of course, Auntie Nessa had a few treats for both kiddos.  Doesn't Ava look stylish in her new shades.
Noah and Jonah were two peas in a pod.  They were always holding hands, hugging each other, running around, laughing, talking, and generally being silly together.
They even enjoyed baths together.
Our first stop together was the Museum of Science and Industry.  Jonah LOVED the huge trains and amazing model trains.
Noah LOVED the baby chicks. 

I mean...come cute are these chicks?!?

Noah just HAD to take Jonah to the Lego is a necessity for all five year old boys.
We enjoyed dinner at the Signature Lounge at the top of the John Hancock Building.  The views were spectacular!!!!

The following day, we headed over to the Navy Pier.  Our first stop was the Children's Museum.  Once again, Noah loved the gigantic dinosaur skeleton.
There were so many fun things the kiddos could do.  Chicago dog anyone?
Kc, Noah, and Uncle Drew putting out fires.
After lunch on the pier, we went on an architectural boat tour.  We had a great tour guide and were able to see Chicago from a different view.  These two cousins just have so much fun together.
Our (very long) taxi ride back to the hotel. 
The following day, we went to see the Buckingham Fountain.
What a fun family photo!
Once again, these boys are just too cute!
We also visited The Bean.
Noah and Jonah loved looking at their distorted reflection.
Make some silly faces!

They were making "sidewalk angels".
Another cute family photo!
I love the river running through the center of Chicago. 
We had breakfast every morning at the hotel.  Nana always had a book or two in her purse for the boys.  Such a smart Nana!
Most evenings, the boys would play together, build Legos, or play on the iPad.
They introduced each other to some of their favorite shows.  Noah loves Super Squad and Jonah loves Mighty Machines.
After over a week in Chicago, we drove to Madison, Wisconsin to visit with family and celebrate Great Grandma's birthday.  We made a stop at Cracker Barrel along the way.
Noah was excited to see Great Grandma again.
Great Grandma met Ava for the first time. 
Four generations of Bartlett women!
There were tons of aunts, uncles, and cousins in town to celebrate.  We had dinner together every night.  Most of the grandchildren could be found crowded around iPads.
We visited the Madison Zoo on morning
and had a fantastic boat ride on Lake Mendoda thanks to Uncle Bob's generous friends.  Ava looked like a little burrito in her life vest. At first, she hated it, but then settled down and slept the entire boat ride.
Noah and Daddy on the boat.
Jonah got to help Uncle Bob steer the boat.
Sleeping away!
Thanks to an idea I saw on Pinterest, we created a Bartlett Family Tree with everyone's thumbprints.
Kc painted the tree, everyone added their own leaf, and Aunt Mary-Sue wrote everyone's names by their leaf.  I think it turned out pretty great!
The morning of Grandma's Birthday party, we took advantage of tons of extended family being together and took extensive family photos.  Kc and Uncle Drew took all the pictures and Auntie Nessa was the coordinator.  Here is Cuz Hunter holding Ava. 
Nana, Papa, and all their grandchildren.
All the family members with Great Grandma.
I spent so many summers playing at Grandma & Grandpa's house with these two cousins. 

After almost two weeks away, we had to say good-bye and head back home.  These two peas can't wait to see each other again in December.
The flights home were uneventful, which was quite nice, and both kiddos slept. 
What an amazing vacation!!!!!


  1. Wonderful. I love the family tree idea!!

  2. Thanks for sharing the event with those of us that could not be there to share with Aunt Ruth for her 99th and see all of you! Wonderful memories made by all of you!! Hugs!

  3. Wish we could have seen you at Aunt Ruth's party! Maybe you should have a 100th party for her next summer!!! :)
    Holly from Crystal Lake

  4. Phew!!! Did we cram in a lot or what?!! Exhausted after a vaca like that, but I never get tired of looking at the pictures :)


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