Chicago Adventures

Wow, it has been a while! Sorry about that folks!

    AJ and I took the boys and we went to Chicago for a long weekend last week to visit our cousins, the Kazenas.  We usually only get to see them once a year during our Ballgame Family Reunion so it was a nice vacation to be able to go visit them.  I had never been to Chicago outside the airport so I was eager to see the sites as well.  Aunt Kristin had some great plans in store for us! We went to a Children’s Museum and also the Shedd Aquarium!  The boys had a blast and so did we.

Anyway, I took lots of pictures and so I will post them all below so you can see.  

Children’s Museum

Josh loved this abacus toy
Giant lightbrite!!
Fun with Auntie Kristin
water fun

Shedd Aquarium

Waiting for the dolphin show to start
Josh was NOT a fan of the crowds during the show. Introvert.
Checking out the dolphins with his neat gift from Auntie Kristin
Mommy LOVED seeing the jellyfish!
Josh loved the coral reef exhibit
So beautiful!
Bright colors!
Watching Beluga Whales
Silly belugas, swimming upside down!

Fun At The Kazena’s House

Video games with cousin Bobby
Hot wheel race track!

    One really special part of the trip, wasn’t really planned at all!  After the Aquarium, we decided to eat lunch at a nearby Ethiopian restaurant.  AJ and I hadn’t had Ethiopian food since before Josh was born and it’s one of our favorite cuisines.  We also have never been able to take Toby to an Ethiopian restaurant before (and i’m not good at cooking Ethiopian food) so we were so excited for him to experience his birth country cooking for the first time.  I was nervous because as you all know, Toby is a very picky eater and generally doesn’t like to try new stuff, especially if it looks weird.  Oh my goodness.  He was so excited and couldn’t wait to try it!  

So excited!!
Auntie Kristin and Daddy
Oh So Yummy!!!

When he did, he grabbed up the injera bread (sour flat bread) and scooped up the sauce and chicken like he had been doing it his whole life and his eyes got so big as he exclaimed “I love it!”  He said that it gave him the chills. I teared up and we were all a bit emotional as we just smiled and watched him enjoy it.  Such an amazing thing for him to somehow connect with just the taste of a certain food even though he has never had it before, a part of him felt at home with it.  

   Auntie Kristin told us that she had just read a study about how our DNA actually has “taste memory” that goes back generations.  Perhaps this is what inspired Toby’s “chills”.  Either way, it was so neat to see and experience.  The Ethiopian staff and other restaurant guests also couldn’t get enough of Toby; Touching his hair, hugging him, babbling on in Amharic to him, smiling and laughing.  He was super shy, but we loved it.  

    I have decided that I am going to get better at cooking Ethiopian food and my first goal is to perfect the injera bread.  I have found a started recipe that is pretty authentic but it’s a seed that you feed over weeks so I’m a little intimidated by the process.  It is so important for my boy though so I want that to be a part of our lives. I do regret that I have not been better about incorporating the Ethiopian culture into his life.  I can see now that it is so much more important that I originally assumed it would be.  My heart was so full and I felt my bond with him grow just a little stronger somehow.  

We also really, really enjoyed being able to visit and talk with Kristin and John.  They are such a sweet, amazing couple and they have been great mentors to us.  They adore the boys and their youngest, Bobby, was also there too and he was super patient with the boys and played with them so much!  Their oldest, Andrew, was unable to be there as he was away at college! Go Andrew! Toby especially enjoyed getting to play video games with Bobby.  Josh really got into the wooden train set that Auntie Kristin brought up from the basement and he spent hours building tracks and playing trains.  Both boys also really enjoyed playing with Uncle John’s old car race track, zooming their racecars down the stairs and off a jump.  We all had such a great time.  It was so relaxing and fun and it was so good to talk with grownups and be able to have a real, significant conversation! John and Kristen were so encouraging to us and they are such genuine, generous and amazing people.  They watched the boys one evening so that AJ and I could go out and have a date night and it was amazing!!  We honestly had a really good time and can’t wait to visit again!

    Anyway, there are many stories from our trip that I won’t go into detail here, but it was an amazing trip.  

OH, also, I got to FINALLY see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.  If you don’t know me, I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan (as are several of my family members: AJ, Kristin and Stephanie) so I was so excited to get to see it.  I LOVED IT!!! Ok, Nifflers are the cutest thing ever and I want one. Also, Eddie Redmayne is a beautiful specimen of God’s creation. 😉

Ok, ok. I’m done now. Enjoy the pictures and thanks for reading! I will be posting a menu soon!