Home away from home

      The countdown has begun once again for travels north to our home away from home.  This time tomorrow we will be somewhere near the half way point and we are actually looking forward to our return even though it will involve another round of casting for Iron Will.  It's funny after two years of trying to make the city a temporary stay we have finally embraced some of the things that will truly make Chicago a little easier for us.  We have an I-pass.  Two years of missing the toll lane and saying Oh shit that was another one we finally got the picture prior to being thrown in the Pocki for violations.  Now the Mommi-van can cruise along with the rest of Chicago and not have to make the 6 lane change at rush hour to catch the toll booth.  I know silly pleasures.  We also were given the gift of Brookfield Zoo for Christmas.  I remember a couple of years ago on stay 3 & 4 when we went to the museums.  We looked at the price of the family membership and said we probably won't be doing this long enough for that to pay off.  Going into number 11 we feel like fools for the money wasted on one day passes.  My mom must be more of a realist because we all jumped for joy when we opened our package!  Family Plus membership with parking.  Nothing in the city seems to include parking.  That alone made us smile. 

     We are leaving Oak Park this time for our lodging which has definitely caused a bit of anxiety.  We have spent the past two years either with my family or at The Carleton of Oak Park.  We love the Carleton & usually can't wait to drag our tired bodies into a booth at Poor Phils but the same realization that made us realize the family memberships were a good idea also made us realize that $169 a night isn't really that feasible for the number of times a year we stay.  We will be moving ourselves to O'Hare where they offer amazing Shriners rates to families coming in for surgery.  We are now a two shriner family so visits are increasing twice fold which will make the new hotel a more appealing choice. 

We escaped the city last year the day the blizzard hit.  Today I spent time gathering our snow gear for what will be a heck of a lot more then the inch we had fall last night.  The kids are giddy at the opportunity to see the real thing and we have had invitations from our Bolingbrook friends for a day of snow play.  Although we don't know whether Mammaw and Pappaw will be up for an afternoon of snow play, having the option makes the trip all the more blessed. 

Although we intially wrestled with the thought of our time in Chicago dragging into anything permanent, we have now embraced the Windy City as our second home.  As with all good second homes, it comes with room service, housekeeping, adventures, & a place to call our own.  The anesthesia, screaming toddler and cast are just the bedbugs to our stay.  Thank you Chicago for embracing us.  Thank you to our friends who are still along for the ride even though your coaster may have stopped.  Each of you have made #11 filled with less dread and more anticipation.  If you see the overdressed family with enormous smiles on our faces traipsing through the zoo in the freezing cold on Sunday that would be us.  One big crazy family enjoying our time in our adopted city!

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