Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Have Your Cake and Eat It Too!

Tuesday was my brother's birthday--Michael turned 23-- and since he is staying with us for a while, we tried to make his birthday a little special.

I started making a cake on Monday, because I put ice cream in the middle and I needed it to freeze overnight.  I was really excited about this cake...just ask my family!

Tuesday morning, I tried to have decorations ready and made Michael the requested chocolate chip waffles.  Much to his surprise, they were "really good."  Yes, I can cook/bake somewhat!! Gosh, I don't get enough credit around here ;)

It was too early for pictures.  Sound like someone else?
 It has been weird weather lately, so we tried to think of something to do before the 90% chance of rain happened.  We drove down to the McDowell Park (Lake Wylie) and did a little hike.  Charlotte was such a trooper, and I feel really bad because she doesn't have any shoes for hiking!  Whoops! 

We went into the nature center for Charlotte to play and to get into some air conditioning.  It was so humid ALL DAY...like can't-breathe-humid!

On our way home, we stopped by QT for drinks.  The rest of the day we hung out and were lazy.  Michael loved it.  For dinner, we met up with Josh at the Cheesecake Factory.  Again, the birthday boy loved it. 

It was finally time to eat the cake!  I was dreading the whole time it would be horrible (putting this much effort into it), but it turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself!

Hope today was great!  Happy 23!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Last Leg = Charlotte Pics Overload

The reunion had come to an end but our trip was still not over.  We still needed to drive back to Louisville to pick up Charlotte.  I missed that girl so much!!  Now I know how Josh feels every time I leave...with her ;)  I was the same anxious feeling I get when I haven't seen Josh for a while.  I hate that feeling and couldn't wait to hug and kiss her all over.  I was expecting the worst, but much to my surprise, soon as she saw me, she ran up to me and hugged me and stayed by my side the entire rest of the time we were at Rachel's house.  I didn't take any video or photos...I couldn't wait to get it all on camera.  I just had to embrace the moment and love on my baby girl.  I've come to the conclusion that we will NOT be sending her off to college.  I think I would just about die!! 
Matching girls at WalMart (Photo cred: Rach)
Charlotte and Tess became great friends.  I'm so glad they had a week to spend with each other.  (Photo cred: Rach)

Finally together again!
Trying to love Baby Zack!
Ok, there we go.  Much better!
While we were in Kentucky, we celebrated Liam's birthday by going to lunch at Gustavo's.  I swear I took more pictures of Liam being sung to and cannot find them.  I am so sad!!  I'm sure they were downloaded (unless Charlotte deleted them off my phone first).  Here is one picture I could find.  Charlotte wearing the birthday sombrero.  

We left after lunch in order to get home at a reasonable time.  It's an eight hour drive.  We decided to stop for dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  Josh isn't a huge fan of going out to restaurants but does it because he knows I like it.  BUT I always know if I suggest Texas Roadhouse, he will go every time!  The closest one to us is about 30-40 minutes away so we rarely go.  Soon as I saw one off the freeway, I knew we would have a nice relaxing meal and time to stretch.  Surprisingly, Charlotte was really good at the restaurant.  And she was obsessed with the saddle next to the bathroom.  She may have rode it three times.


First Time in Chicago

Halfway through the week, we had finished our time in Nauvoo and it was time to go to Chicago. Everyone took the train, while Josh, Rick, Yvonne and I drove up. Once we arrived at the InterContinental Hotel, we checked into our rooms, Rick went to get Meg at the airport and we waited for the large group to arrive. The train was delayed three hours!! Josh and I walked up and down Michigan Ave with our cousin-in-law, Dane (who came straight from a business trip). We grabbed lunch and did a little shopping to pass the time. We were surprised at how chilly the temperature was but now understand why it's called, "the Windy City!"

Everyone finally arrived and since they were all hungry, they went to grab dinner. Josh and I ate a late lunch, so we walked down to Millennium Park, took pictures at the bean (the only thing I cared about seeing) and then walked to the Navy Pier.

Thursday was so much fun and packed full of activities!  We congregated in Yvonne's room (most mornings) for breakfast and headed out on our own double-decker tour bus around the city. We saw all the major attractions and made a couple stops. One being at Lake Michigan. It was an awesome backdrop of the city and pier. Across the street, he showed us Indiana. (I'm still amazed how close all the states are when you get out of the west.)

The tour guide thought "Chicago Fire" was filming.  We later read online that there was a shooting.
LaLaPalooza was in town

Our next stop was Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs game. I think it was the first baseball game I stayed the entire time!

Next on our agenda was the Blue Man Group. We didn't really know what to expect, but had heard great things about it. We quickly grabbed some pizza and went to the show. It was nothing what I was expecting, and it looked like the performers were in constant pain (which made me feel uncomfortable haha). The best part of the show was Josh's cousin, Jill, was selected out of the audience and brought up on stage. Jill is someone who doesn't seek attention and purposefully sat towards the middle of her row opposed to the aisle so she wouldn't get selected. She was such a great sport and went along with everything. She was making us laugh so hard, my cheekbones were hurting! When we were leaving the show, people kept telling her what a great job she did. Thanks Jill, for a great show!!!

Got yelled at while taking this photo

Snuck this photo while Jill was up on stage!
 Friday morning started out by having breakfast at the restaurant in the hotel. It was an amazing breakfast buffet. Custom omelets, waffles, pancakes, eggs, bacon, fruit...you name it, it was there!

Afterward, the big group of 40+ people, met in the lobby and we all walked to Millennium Park to start a scavenger hunt called, the Labyrinth. It is an underground scavenger hunt around the city. It was extremely difficult and a lot longer than we all expected. It was a cool concept, but I think overall it was more for an older crowd.
Meeting the guide to our scavenger hunt

The Green Team! Travis, Jen, Me, Brynn, Amanda, Hayden, and Rick
Figuring out our first clue

Figuring out a riddle
We finally ate a late lunch at Eataly. We had heard great things about it. It is such an interesting place. You walk in and it looks like a farmers market. Downstairs is all the "to go" food, gelato, pastries and fresh produce. Upstairs looks like a food court, with different stations to eat at. Because we had dinner plans, we split a sandwich and cup of gelato. If we had more time, I would have loved to go upstairs and eat.

After leaving, Meg and I headed toward Sprinkles, with a quick stop at Nordstrom Rack. Sprinkles had an ATM and we wanted to see that. We got a few cupcakes and headed back to the hotel.

The missing mix is the one I purchased...
That evening, we ate at a swanky restaurant named Bellweather. We were upstairs in a loft-type of area. They served us family style. The food was great!

Grandpa Whitmore started a tradition during the reunion several years ago, to take the entire family to a local bookstore and gets everyone a book. This reunion was no different! We went to "After Words," a used and new bookstore. Josh got "Unbroken" and I got "Heaven is for Real." I think this is a great tradition and shows how important reading really is.
You can't really see the sign in the background, but it's there :)
Since this was the last night of the reunion, we all went back to Yvonne's room and did their routine family report. Each of Rick's siblings got up to say what is going on with their family, what all the kids are involved with and so forth. I loved it and learned something new about each family. Of course soon as Charlotte was mentioned, I just lost it. I was so ready to get back to her!!

Friday was really the conclusion of the reunion and, except for a few people, everyone ended up leaving Saturday. Our family (Dan, Meg, Rick, Josh and I) went to rent bikes and ride to breakfast at the Bongo Room. I highly recommend this place. It's known for their brunch and the portions are huge! We did have to wait a bit, but I thought it was worth it. (Not the most flattering pictures, but you get the idea!)

We biked back to the hotel where Josh and I finished our bike ride. I was so nervous riding in the big city. We walked down to the Willis Tower with Amber, Jess and Trent and their kids. Once we got their, it was time to leave haha. We walked back and headed out.

Overall, I'm really glad I had the experience to go on this trip. It was very busy (which I like)! It was fun getting to know more of Josh's family. I feel like I've been apart of the family a lot longer than just four years and feel very comfortable with everyone.  Thanks to all the Whitmores for making this a great memory.  I look forward to more reunions in the future!!