Darah and I returned home by train from Chicago this morning. This was a significant, though short, trip because during it Darah took her first train rides - first on the Illinois Zephyr and then on the Carl Sandburg. Each way, she slept for about an hour and a half on my chest. I was hoping she would sleep for three and a half hours, but who can blame her for wanting to get moving (Darah's naps usually last forty-five minutes; she prefers to be awake at all times). She loved looking out the window, but that only occupied her for about ten minutes. I tried to distract her and to keep her occupied, but she just wanted to throw things and go to visit other people. Snazzle Kitty (a gift from Gramma Sue and Grampy Bill that they made for her at the Build a Bear at the Navy Pier) only occupied her for ten minutes. "The Feelings Book" occupied her for a total of approximately twenty minutes (in three sections). I took out her Garden Fresh grocery bag filled with plastic fruits and veggies that you can peel (pull off) and break (pull apart). All of the toys in my bags were made in, where else, China. I really do not understand how there can be so many factories in China - almost every piece of plastic that I encounter is made there. It's frightening.
Darah had nice dinners at Tamarind (an Asian-fusion, eclectic place near Columbia College) and Riva's (an upscale seafood restaurant at Navy Pier). She napped in the stroller I bought at Walgreen's (made in China, I'm sure). She strolled through the city and rode in taxi cabs. She made huge messes in every restaurant we dined in. She saw space jackets and robots and colorful lights at the Adler Planetarium. Although she was hot and sleepy, she managed to stay awake for the One World, One Sky show at the planetarium, which featured Big Bird, Elmo (her favorite), and a CHINESE Sesame Street character. Then, she slept through the Cosmic Collisions show, which was narrated by Robert Redford. I had a great time at the planetarium. I've always loved sitting in the dark room with stars surrounding me. What a great date idea - I'd say it would be creative and romantic. Sandy and I will have to go sometime, since we've never been to a planetarium together. I wonder how the planetarium in Buffalo compares - I was there once when I was a kid and I have always wanted to go back. Well, I got my wish. Darah's first trip to the planetarium at one year old and my second trip at twenty-four years old.
Darah's grandparents, Grampy Bill and Gramma Sue, took her swimming at the hotel (the Sheraton). I watched, very happily, from the side. Darah had a blast in the pool. She loves water. She seems to be in her element when she is in the water. She kicked and splashed and smiled. We always take her swimming at hotels because she enjoys it so much. If I feel up to it in the Spring, I'll take her swim lessons at the YMCA again. I wonder what was going on in her little brain when she stood in front of the giant window on the 27th floor of the hotel, staring out at the ever-more giant, well-lit buildings of central Chicago. I realized on this trip how glad I am that I do not live in a large city. I feel much more grounded living in a town and being on land.
The next day, we took a cab to the Shedd Aquarium. We were very excited, knowing that Darah loves her fishies and would probably think the "big fishies," as we called them, we're so cool. But when we pulled up, there was a line full of kids, parents and strollers about a mile long outside the Aquarium. I'm not sure why it was so crowded, but we decided to head over to the Navy Pier for the day instead. Darah had fun at the Navy Pier. Before we went, we (my father and Darah and I) ate a sixty dollar (!) breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel. Darah ate some of the fruit from my crepes and then had pancakes. She loved the strawberries until she had the blueberries...and then she just wanted the blueberries. Just as I said to my dad, "Oh Darah loves blueberries. She is shoveling them in," Darah pulled one out of her mouth and handed it to me. She tried another one and another one after that, and each time made a face and handed them to me. I don't know what happened and why she changed her mind. She went from LOVING them to HATING them in a matter of five minutes.
The highlight of the Navy Pier, for Darah and all of us, was the Children's Museum. I recommend it very highly. I can't wait to return with Darah. There was so much to do. I wish we had started earlier. When Darah found the Water Explorations area, she was, as Sandy likes to say, blissin' out. She spent about an hour standing at the side of the water tunnel. She played with three fountains of water almost the whole time. Other kids came and went, but she stayed there with the fountains. I was in heaven watching her. She wore a lilac raincoat. It was such a sweet moment in her life. How wonderful! And then, later, she got to go swimming AGAIN, on top of all the fun at the waterworks. Darah had a fabulous visit with her grandparents in Chicago. She had ice cream for the first time, too, which she enjoyed thoroughly. What a day, what a trip!