The end of June we went to southern Lake Michigan and Chicago for our family vacation. We arrived at our rental house on Father’s Day and quickly unloaded a few things into the house then changed and dashed to the beach. Here E practiced his wading game where he’d cling to an adult’s hand, happily chant “deeper, deeper, deeper” and then dash out of the water when it was to deep for him.

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Also, he got to spend time with his favorite uncle. We shared the house with J’s parents, brother, sister, BIL, 3 nephews and nieces.

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J went golfing with his dad and BIL while the rest of us went to Warren State Park. We climbed up this giant dune. Well, the kids and the uncle J climbed, I struggled and crawled while dragging my 40 pound two year old along….. It took many, many MINUTES. (I’m trying to cut down on exaggerating). I needed many more muscles than I did possessed.

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This was the view from eh top. See that tiny path all the way down? THAT’S HOW FAR I HIKED UP WITH MY 40 POUND KID. IN THE SAND. I knew I should have brought the baby carrier…..

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The view from the top. Lake Michigan is the small blue horizon in the background.

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Watching C and his cousin G climb another dune as we head toward the lake.

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Then we ate lunch at the beach concession stand because we were preeeetty hungry and thirsty from our impromptu hike. Also, must remember to not leave the house an hour before lunch with 2 granola bars and 1 tiny water bottle for the 6 people that went up the dune…. Finally, energy replenished, we hiked through the woods and back to the vehicles. E was very whiney (to say the least) and I carried him much of the way, alternating with making him walk while he very loudly complained.

On our way back to the house. Both boys wanted to make silly faces for the camera.

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C and cousin G playing with legos. So glad the cousins got to play so much. 🙂

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The Michigan house!

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Watching the street in front of the house be paved.

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Cousin I had several of these action figures and the boys enjoyed playing with them.

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Sunset! With a 4 year old!

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It was so romantic for J and I….. But not really. E fell asleep early this night so he stayed at the house.

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The last vacation we went on with C’s and E’s cousins we took a Cousin Picture where none of them had pants on. So of course we had to do that again this year but since they are all 3 years older, we let them keep their pants this time. Or rather, they weren’t all wandering around half naked so it worked out pretty well. Here’s the silly shot! E didn’t like sitting between people.

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We left Michigan after 5 days and moved on to Chicago! Here are E, J, Uncle J, and C, waiting for the train.

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The boys loved public transportation! E was a bit silent and serious to begin with while C burst with glee from the start. E later insisted we sit in the back row every time we rode a bus.

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Our first day in Chicago was rainy but it was pretty fun walking around with umbrellas.  We went to Navy Pier since we needed indoor entertainment and walked outside at the end of the pier. Here you see J looking wistfully back toward the Chicago skyline. 😉

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More looking.

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C asked me to take his picture here and didn’t realize the wind had blown his precious umbrella up. 😉

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Family picture!

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Finally we made it back the condo we rented and plopped down with pizza and Netflix. What a long day!

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The next day was clear and beautiful! We set out late due to several setbacks (melting down kid, house keys dropped in sewer drain, etc). And then 30 minutes into our journey to Garfield Conservatory everyone got hungry and grouchy so we stopped for pizza (again).

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At Garfield finally!! E liked this little spot in the children’s garden; he called it his garage.

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C spent much of his time looking for carnivorous plants.

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And later he hunted for tadpoles in this mangrove pond.

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E delighted in dashing through the splashes coming from this waterfall.

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C did eventually find the insect eating plants. They were a little out of his reach unfortunately! Also, he enjoyed exploring the outdoor children’s area.

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C liiked spraying the water bottles and getting water to come from tiny pipes.

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The view to the east as we left Garfield.

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We grabbed some coffee and tea (another hunger induced meltdown from C) (E was napping in the baby carrier so he was pretty happy) then headed to Millenium Park. There was an amazing play area here and the boys really went crazy exploring it. C liked the round swing and E loved the slides. We even returned there after dinner (pizza AGAIN!) and played way too long.

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The view on our walk to dinner.

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After much playing, we took the train back to our north side condo and finally headed back home at 11:00 pm. There was a stop for coffee around midnight where we discussed and debated (for way too long) whether we should power through or stop at a hotel. Eventually we kept going (ahem, J and J did, I couldn’t stay awake the whole drive back!) and made it home by 4:00 am. It was a bit exhausting but SUCH a fun week!

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