Family Fun

Sheesh, stop jumping to conclusions. I didn't go to the Family Fun Center or play miniature golf. Actually, it was fun times with family. And not just my immediate family, but all the relatives. This past weekend I was able to fly out to Chicago (elongate the "a" in Chicago as you say it). Not only was it to visit family, but to celebrate some momentous events. Momentous you say? Yes. Grandma Ruth turned 89 years old and Cousin Erin is having her first baby. Let me tell you about the weekend in bullet points - it's the easiest way and not to mention my favorite.

  • Traveling: My flight to Chicago started at the wee hours of the morning on Friday. Eh-hem, yes I know I get up early for work and should be used to it. Let me tell you don't get used to it. period. But it was worth it. The itinerary was having me start in Eugene with stops in Denver at then Madison. Denver was being Denver (crazy weather, etc) and my originally on-time flight was late due to our pilot having to slow the speed approaching Denver and then circling until we got clearance. I get off the plane and run to my connecting flight, but it was closed. Luckily I got transferred to a flight straight from Denver to Chicago. Sadly that got delayed with mechanical issues (mention of starting with just one engine as we taxi to the take-off queue - hmm), then it snowed and possible de-ice, and last we had to wait for our turn. Although all this happened, I (A) still got to Chicago by 3:30 when I was original scheduled for 2:30pm - not bad, and (B) I got some awesome views from the plane at Eugene take-off. Please Note: I tried talking to the Eugene representatives about getting on a different flight because of my tight layovers...they said I'd be just fine...yea right! The return flight was only through Denver and both were early arrivals. Not to mention great views again.

The Flight

  • Erin's Baby Shower: The first day was preparing for the shower. We picked up some delicious cupcakes from Sensational Bites (we also snuck in some apple-ras crumble to snack on that night - yum!). And I did some wrapping extravaganza. Saturday we had a luncheon-style baby shower. It went really well. We had some great salads and cupcakes of course. There were also some fabulous games: (1) Name that Baby - everyone brought their own baby picture, we posted them on the wall with numbers, and people had to guess who was who. (2) Sock Laundry Timing - Erin got a buck of baby socks, mixed up, and had to match & fold them while being timed. Beforehand, everyone guessed how long it would take her. (3) Future Baby Story - a sheet with places to guess the baby's life. For instance, favorite subject or activities as a teenager. On the game topic, I did get in 2nd on the Baby Sock game - just 7 seconds off. Then just chit-chating and whatnot. On an ending note, Erin is a beautiful mother-to-be! Oh, and it's a boy!

Erin's Baby Shower

  • Grandma's Party: Immediately after the baby shower was Grandma's birthday party. It was a party day! We headed to Hackneys (more to come of food) where we had a private room for all the relatives to gather. Practically all the family showed up - the Peru Aunts, Bossharts, Lesses, and O'Neills. We enjoyed some catch-up time with all. The cousins formed a table, and we got to have cuz time. I met Scott's girlfriend, Katie, who was super nice. Man, us cousins are growing up. Grandma got some cake and presents. Just a good ole birthday celebration.

Grandma's 89th Bday Party

  • Billy Elliot: Sunday was a day out to downtown Chicago. We headed over to the Theatre District to see Billy Elliot, the Musical. It was playing at the Oriental Theatre which was very cool inside - ornate and classical (ok, I don't know art decor terms, sue me; I think you get it though). The play was great. I enjoyed the ballet and tap dancing. It was a nice balance of singing, dancing, and story-line. All Elton John music too. In a nutshell, very fun and very worth it. I've had the movie from Netflix to watch beforehand since it'd been a while since I saw it. I didn't get to it before, so now I plan to watch it in the next few days. [Side Note: Across the street we made a quick pit-shop in the old Marshall Fields, now Macys - you'll see pictures on Flickr. I also found an interesting article on Frango Mints.]

Downtown Chicago

  • Merkner-Time: More family fun! Monday mom, dad, grandma, and I headed out to McHenry-Wauconda area to visit my Uncle Chuck and Aunt Sue. I also got to meet their little doggies, PJ and Lulu - very cute. Even more exciting was Uncle Chucks Extensive Train system. It was a whole room dedicated to trains. Literally a whole room. The entire space was filled staring with a table and four different train systems. A little town, noises, controls. Crazy. Then we enjoyed lunch together at a near-by waterfront restaurant, Lindy's Landing.

Uncle Chuck's Train System from Heather O'Neill on Vimeo.

  • Baby Time: My Uncle Terry and Kellie have the two most adorable kids. Riley (20 months) and Emily (8 months). I got some quality time with Riley on Monday afternoon. In my life I haven't had many babies around, so it was a special time to get to know my newest cousins. It was so fun to bond with Riley (and she apparently looks like me when I was a baby). We played at the playground - when down a slide, roamed around, we played with all sorts of toys at home, read some books, and I watched her eat some dinner and take a bath. So Cute. I didn't see too much of Emily because the poor thing was not feeling well and Kellie took her to the doctor to get checked out - she's okay though.

Cousin Riley

  • Food: According to my parents, there are some must-go restaurants to "hit-up" when we're in town. I don't know if this requirement comes from some childhood memories, that "these are the best" places to go according to many, or just plain habit. Whatever it may be, we must go every visit. Plus, each restaurant has a very specific item that you should order (emphasis should, I rebel and usually get something different based on my eating habits). Like most trips, we managed to squeeze them all in. Here's the list: (1) Gale Street Inn for ribs, (2) Hackney's for ribs, (3) Portillo's for Italian Beef, and (4) Lou Malnati's for deep dish pizza.

  • Humor: My uncles have quite a sense of humor. I carried some of this humor back with me. I told the muffin joke and ocean joke to co-workers. They laughed and then said I was goofy. I also showed them the new fist bump, or alternatives to theΒ bump me. Bump it and blow-up and the park-the-bumb.

P.S. Photos on Flickr for viewing. Or check out the video of grandma.

P.P.S. My forefinger feels better from the time off. It gets tired at work holding the milk pitcher and punching at the register. Poor finger.