Monday, July 11, 2011

Chicago...Day 3

[Continued from Day 1 & Day 2...]

Warning--Super Long Post with No Photos (a post that contains a vent about bizarre parenting strategies & a horrid experience at "Taste of Chicago.")

Sunday morning we slept in a bit, got ready, packed up our stuff & headed out for breakfast.  Since we were on a slight time-crunch to meet the check out deadline at our hotel, we decided to just walk around the corner to Einstein Bros Bagels for breakfast.  It had been >5 years since I had had Einstein’s for breakfast, & the Hubs had never had one of their breakfast sandwiches.  Mission= successful.

After breakfast we walked back to the hotel, checked-out, & meandered back to the Millennium Park Garage to drop our suitcases off at the car.  Then we caught a bus down to the Museum of Science and Industry…because we had a date with some dead people. 

The Museum of Science & Industry in Chicago is my favorite museum, ever.  You know how when you were a little kid & you would dream about getting locked in a zoo, museum, theme park, etc overnight so you could play with everything & not wait in line? MSI was my “lock in” dream, and I still dream about getting to do that at MSI.  Honestly I think they should have “kid free” evening hours, so the adults get more chances to play with all of the things in there (“what do you mean I should give priority for this exhibit to kids?” whatever).  It is seriously awesome.  They had 2 new large exhibits there that were new since the last time we had visited 3 years ago.  The first one—“Science Storms,” was Amazing.  It was all about different storms & natural disasters, the science behind them, with some of the best hands-on demonstration exhibits I have EVER seen in a museum. Plus there was a 3 story tall “tornado” in the middle of the exhibit.  Incredibly fun—and educational. Everyone wins!  The other new exhibit was the “You! The Experience” exhibit, which was all about the human body, our perceptions, our “neat human tricks” & other things along those lines.  It also featured several plasticized human body parts & systems, like what you can see in the Body Worlds exhibit (read below). This is the exhibit I REALLY wished we could have kicked the kids out of so we could have played with everything…

The actual reason we went to MSI this trip was for the Body Worlds exhibit.  The Hubs & I had already been to one of the Body Worlds exhibits when it traveled through St. Louis a few years back.  We loved it.  While it is a really heavy thing to understand that what you are looking at are the physical bodies of people that once walked this Earth…it is still an amazing view into the complexity & artful-being of the human body. These are highly fascinating exhibits that I think most adults should see.

Notice I said “Adults” above…while I think there is a hefty percentage of pre-teens & teens that could handle viewing a Body Worlds Exhibit (& potentially some well-educated upper grade school kids), many younger children are not equipped emotionally/educationally to deal with the heaviness of these exhibits.

Parents, please do not take your kids that are <8 years old into a Body Worlds exhibit, unless you are 100% sure about their abilities to view, understand, & cope with what they are seeing.  

Parents, please do not take your minors that are >8 years old into a Body Worlds exhibit, unless you are 100% sure about their abilities to view, understand & cope with what they are seeing, and if you are 100% sure about your abilities to answer any questions or engage in the conversations that may result from their viewing of the exhibit.  For example, there were 2 parents (presumably doctors by how they were talking & their knowledge base) that took their approximately 7 & 10 year old sons through the exhibit while we were there.  It was obvious by how the kids were talking that the parents had talked about the exhibit with them in advance (& potentially investigated the website first).  It was also obvious that the 2 boys had a very strong understanding of the human body, diseases, & the “facts of life” walking into the exhibit, judging by the questions they were asking, & their speed of identifying organs/organ systems.  Those 2 kids were fine…but…

Parents, if you have a 3 year old in the Body Worlds exhibit with you who is hyper-ventilating, sobbing “no Mommy, no Daddy, no, no”, & trying to hide his face in your legs…take him out of the exhibit. How did these parents respond instead?--they physically forced the child to turn around & look at the plasticized dead people, picking him up so that he was eye level with the sculptures.  Seriously…true story. It was heartbreaking how upset that poor little kid was…and I would argue that those actions are on par with child abuse.

Parents, if you have a 12 year old with you who is isolating herself in the corner saying/screaming “No Dad, I don’t want to know what that is. You can’t make me look at that. No, I don’t want to know what that is! Let’s go” and looking seriously troubled/traumatized, as you are trying to point out cross sections of a human brain or the male genitalia to her…well…you sir are a horrible parent.  She will probably remember that event as she’s making the choice between a high-class or low-budget nursing home for you in the future…  Just saying.

But what if you want to view the Body Worlds exhibit…and you happen to have a kid along with you?  In both situations above, there were 2 parents in the exhibit with the upset children.  What is wrong with 1 parent viewing the exhibit, while the other parent takes the kid(s) to view an exhibit appropriate for their age? Then handoff the kid(s), so the other parent could see the exhibit?  Plus—you would save a good chunk of money that way too…

People amaze me sometimes…but at least their kids will be supporting the field of psychiatry for another generation?...

After we headed out of MSI, we wandered back up to Grant Park to see Buckingham Fountain.  I have been to Chicago several times in the spring/summer…but I haven’t seen the fountain while it was running (renovations, off-timing, etc).  So we thought we would do a quick dash by the fountain on the way back to the car…Wrong.  We found out that “Taste of Chicago” was still going on…Since we needed lunch, & because I know a few people that enjoy journeying up to Chicago to partake in “Taste of Chicago”…we thought that could be a fun thing to do for lunch since we were already at the park...

WRONG.  I’m pretty sure I can chalk “Taste of Chicago” to the top of my “Worst Experiences in Chicago” list (above any amount of time that I’ve spent on the Magnificent Mile).  It. Was. Miserable.  Granted, it was (1) HOT, (2) A Holiday weekend, & (3) The last day of the festival…and I’m pretty sure that those 3 factors align to create the perfect storm of misery for any outdoors festival/fair.  However, Taste of Chicago was a particularly miserable experience for me.

Picture this scenario…it’s hot. You are standing in the middle of a 4 lane road that has been closed down, corralled by tents lining the perimeter, the smell of grease & stale booze, and an endless swarm of sweaty, rude people.  People that are walking in large groups, 8 people wide, embodying the philosophy of a well-tuned NFL Defensive line--“We Shall Not Let You Pass.” Strollers ripping into your ankles & calves, you struggle to walk. You are a person who is not usually a fan of crowds, but you can tolerate them…until you catch the 4th elbow to your gut. You are like a fish swimming against the current, but everywhere you turn is against the current.  Someone gets a free sample of cranberry juice, & then throws the half full glass at your feet instead of in the trashcan 5 feet away…making for sticky Tevas for the rest of your stay in Hades....

Do you get the picture of why I was not a fan of Taste of Chicago?

For $16.00, the Hubs & I had:  2 slices of sausage patty deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s, a taste portion of chicken & vegetable pot stickers from a Vietnamese food vendor, a taste portion of a Chicago-style dog from Vienna Beef, and a taste portion of beignets from a Cajun food vendor.  We also had several free samples of Sierra Mist, Pepsi Max, & Ocean Spray cranberry beverages to wash it all down with…

Oddly—we didn’t get that close to Buckingham Fountain during our “Taste of Chicago” experience (fountain = right next to festival).  By the time we finished the last bite of beignet—I was d-o-n-e with Taste of Chicago.  With the mental reserve of a star NFL running back, I broke the defensive lines of the sweaty mob (utilizing my crowd-parting skills I picked up in the Broad Ripple bars during college)…and high-tailed it back to the car.  Never. Ever. Again.  I’m glad to say I’ve been…but I won’t be back to Taste of Chicago.

We then headed out of downtown & towards BolingbrookIL.  Why?---IKEA.

The IKEA in Bolingbrook is the 2nd closest IKEA to Indianapolis, after the one in West ChesterOH, by Cincinnati (IKEA—please build a store in Indy or offer online shopping?).  Unfortunately we only had an hour to browse IKEA this trip, which anyone reading this that has been to IKEA knows this is a pretty tight timeframe for shopping.  Luckily I had done a careful combing of the website to know what I wanted to look at and their approximate locations in the store.  The other good thing about IKEA right before closing time?—it is Empty.  No swarms of people, no waiting in line…Total Bliss after Taste of Chicago

I walked out of IKEA $100 poorer…but had cookie cutters, pastry cutters, coasters, pots/pans, a lid, a double broiler, a wok, a sugar shaker, sleek condiment bowls, dishtowels, treats for the office & other fun stuff. (Anyone want some moose & hedgehog shaped cookies? :-P)

After IKEA we began the trek back to Indy.  The weekend before the 4th of July is a fun day for interstate travel…there were fireworks going up about every mile at night on the way home.  It was a perfect ending to an overall great weekend.

Thanks for reading! 


  1. I went to the Body Worlds exhibit several years ago with my mom and sister and it was hard for me to look at and I was an adult. I would never take my child there unless he/she was emotionally mature enough to handle it and we had prepped them for it first. Glad you guys had a good trip!

  2. Yea--you know how outspoken I can be, and I almost intervened in the case of the 3 year old above. It was horrible. However, since I have zero street cred since I'm a non-parent...I didn't. I'm picturing that once I am a parent, I'm going to lose all ability to self-moderate in those situations.

  3. One of the local elementary schools takes a field trip to Chicago and actually does spend the night in the Museum of Science and Industry. Talk about wanting to be a kid again, right?