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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Sunday, May 25th, 3:55pm

Get this: I am currently sitting in Chicago O’Hare International Airport. I am one of the 1.3 million people to pass through this airport in the past three days. I am here, chillin’ in the food court, with some of my 1.3 million traveling friends. I just bought a sesame seed bagel with cream cheese from the Dunkin’ Donuts booth (it was the only thing that cost less than $5. I’d like to get some fresh fruit, but it costs $4.30 for a dinky cup. Forget it). I lugged Kara – the – Laptop all the way to Chicago and yet, just now is the first that I’ve taken it out to actually write. So much for using my get-away weekend as an opportunity to work on my first award-winning bestseller! I was just having too much fun doing other stuff! I’m forcing myself to get it out now, so the lugging was not in vain.

I’ve had a marvelous Memorial Day/Birthday/get-away weekend! Ooh, and I just made a friend. A fellow-laptop-toting chic-y from San Fran just joined me in my little half-moon shaped booth. I’m trying to look very intellectual and focused on my VERY cerebral, existential blog-writing…except that I realized I had a sesame seed stuck to my lip when I was talking to her. Oh well, she asked me if I’d come to Chicago for a “LABOR Day get-away.”

My trip got off to a great start. I tried to convince Matthew in the car on the way to the airport, that I’d be OK without him.

“Mom,” he said, “You won’t have any fun without us. You’ll miss us too much.” I decided NOT to tell him that I’d have fun BECAUSE it was a bit of a get-away from the offspring. I promised him that, while yes, it would be dreary on my own; I’d do my best to have a semi-OK time.

My direct flight arrived not only on-time but early to O’Hare. My cousin Anne picked me up and took us to her home where I stayed for Thursday and Friday night. I got to meet her littlest Grace (14 months)…[OK, now my laptop friend is reading OUTLOUD. I don’t like her anymore. I don’t want to share my table anymore.] I also saw her husband Mark (obviously) and their four-year-old Jack who for some of Friday referred to me as ‘Company.’ “Look at this, Company…let me show you this, Company.” Then when Anne reminded him this is “Cousin Jenny;” I’m pretty sure that I answered to just “Cousin” for a while.

Friday, Anne was kind enough to have lunch for me, her parents (my aunt Jackie and uncle Paul) and our uncle Kevin. And then on Friday night, we walked to a Mexican restaurant for dinner with my other cousin David. Good family reunion times!

Saturday morning, Anne and I headed into downtown. We wandered up to Millennium Park and saw “The Bean” as well as a water fountain-pond-dealy that shows images of people taken from photos. Hard to explain but cool. Then, Anne and I went on a 90 minute boat tour along the Chicago River and out onto Lake Michigan. I got some very excellent touristy photos taken and learned some fascinating historical facts. I love me a good boat tour! That’s how I saw much of Europe. Boat tours rule.

After our boat tour, we’d been given very specific instructions from my parents to experience the beauty of Chicago deep-dish pizza at Pizzeria Uno or Due. We opted for Uno, though later my dad said, he would’ve suggested Due. (Guess those instructions weren’t quite as specific as they could’ve been)! We shared a “Spinoccoli” pizza – spinach and broccoli with just the right amount of pizza sauce, cheese and deep-dishy goodness. Post-lunch, Anne deposited me at Union Station where I caught the train to meet up with my good friend Katherine at her parents’ house in Deerfield.

It was so great seeing my adorable little pregnant Army wife friend! She looks wonderful, and now we just need to all pray that Dan’s expected arrival from Iraq in early August is in time for the expected arrival of their baby in mid-August! Katherine and I drove, following her parents, to their place in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Holy Majoly! There are some swanky digs along that lake!

On Sunday morning (my 29th Birthday!), after church in town, Katherine’s parentals took us out on their new motor boat. It was a gorgeous day! Katherine and I later went for a run along the lake shore and got a closer look at some of the mega-mansions. After my shower, I sat on the deck in a rocking chair, drinking wine and reading my book. That is birthday perfection, my friends. We concluded our delightful weekend with dinner at a seafood restaurant in town and ice cream at a local chocolaterie.

This morning, Katherine and parents bid me farewell and I caught the train back to Chicago where Anne picked me up. We went to see yet another cousin – Mark, his wife Kim and their 6 week old baby Joshua! We walked through their ‘urban chic’ neighborhood to a cute, funky diner for lunch. We had a great visit! It’s been really fun getting to know these cousins who I heard about growing up but really hadn’t spent any time with. Now, I just hope that it won’t be another 20 years before we all get together!

So, alas, that’s a brief summary of Birthday ’09. All in all, a perfectly great combo of sight-seeing, spending time with a wonderful friend, reuniting with awesome family and having some serious relaxation. Oh, and possibly the coolest most magical discovery of all: at O’Hare Airport and Union train Station, the toilets are equipped with automatic toilet seat rotating covers. So, when you go, you’ve got yourself a clean butt seat to utilize. I think it’s genius, fascinating, and I admit I spent some time waving my hand in front of the sensor just to see the cover rotate!

Now, back to my boys!!!

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