The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscript Illuminations

It was a real treat to get see a special exhibit entitled “The Medieval World at Our Fingertips: Manuscript Illuminations from the Collection of Sandra Hindman” when we visited the Art Institute in Chicago last month. We managed to visit just a few days before the exhibit closed, and it was another great addition to our summer school studies. There were about 30 illuminations on display, ranging from tiny to quite large (as far as illuminations go). Bunny, in particular, is fascinated by this art form, and we’re looking forward to creating our own later this summer!

Two of My Favorite Things

I didn’t realize it when I took the picture, but I captured two of my favorite Chicago things in one shot…The Clock at Marshall Field’s of Blessed Memory and the “Corn on the Cob Building!”

Tasty Tuesday–The Original Rainbow Cone

Over the last few years, we’ve introduced the children at a lot of Chicago’s culinary specialties while we were up north. This year, I decided we should indulge in the famous “Rainbow Cone,” a well-known treat that I had never even had myself! I was relieved to see that the prices weren’t too bad, and the ice cream was delicious. They also get bonus points for offering an allergy option, which replaces the pistachio and Palmer House flavors with something nut free, so Moose could enjoy one, too!

This was a welcome treat on a hot day, and I think we might have to go back in the future, because everybody loved it!

Renaissance Art, Arms, and Armor

When we visited the Art Institute in Chicago two years ago, Turkey was very excited to see the arms and armor exhibit, as was I…it was always one of my favorite things to see when I was a child. You can imagine our disappointment, then, when we discovered that it was closed for renovations. Well, this year, we made it right, and I have to say, it was worth the wait…the new exhibit is fantastic! We especially liked how the horse armor was displayed, and were interested to see child-sized armor, which the docent told us would be given to medieval children of the nobility in the same spirit we give children sports jerseys today!

This was a great introduction to our medieval-themed summer school!

Wendella Lake and River Tour

The highlight of our day in downtown Chicago last month was the Wendella Lake and River Tour. I last took this boat ride when I was in the 5th grade, and I was excited to do it again as an adult, and share the experience with the Fab Five. We were not disappointed…we enjoyed the fantastic views of the city, both from the Chicago River and Lake Michigan, learned a bit about Chicago’s history and the architecture we saw, and enjoyed lovely lake breezes! We also had an amazing narrator along the way…he hit the perfect balance between facts about the city and personal stories to give context to those facts…I don’t think we’ll ever forget learning about the “Dime Piers!”

This was a fun trip, and gave us a chance to see the city in a completely new way. I highly recommend the tour if you’re ever in Chicago…just make sure you don’t forget the sunscreen!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Six

Last Monday morning, it was time to say goodbye to Pheasant Run and Combo Breaker.

But we weren’t quite done with our trip. We headed east, for a visit to the Chicago Botanic Garden, where, despite the extreme temperatures, it still looked like spring!

We then drove to the south side of Chicago to try one of the Windy City’s specialties: Rainbow Cones. We were not disappointed!

We took the long way south to Normal, where we had one last taste of Chicago at Portillo’s before heading home:

And so our vacation came to an end. We have more fun trips planned for this summer, but I’m already looking forward to next year’s Combo Breaker!

Markel Family Weekend Getaway–Day Two

I think this was our busiest day of vacation…and Combo Breaker hadn’t even started yet!

Last year when we were in St. Charles, we never made it to downtown Chicago, because to my great surprise, there were no ticket agents on duty at the Metra stations on the weekend. I planned accordingly this year, checked the hours, and was sure we wouldn’t run into any problems. Until we arrived at the Geneva Metra station, and the ticket agent basically shut the door in our face, because she had a “meeting.”

This forced me outside of my comfort zone…A LOT. I had already paid for Wendella boat tickets and Art Institute tickets, so I had to find a way downtown. Even though I faced possible problems, including the fact that my students don’t have school IDs, we used the Ventra app to ride the train, and in the end, it worked out fine.

We took a slightly different walk during our travels in Chicago, so we saw some things that were the same, and some that were new:

The highlight of the day was the Wendella Chicago River and Lake Michigan Tour. It has been close to 30 years since I last did the boat trip, so it was a very different experience for all of us, and a lot of fun!

After disembarking, we began our walk toward the Art Institute, stopping to see the “Bean” and other sites at Millennium Park (including the Crown Fountain) along the way.

At the Art Institute, we focused specifically on the Arms and Armor galleries, as well as a special exhibit on Medieval illuminations, in keeping with this year’s summer school theme, but we also saw a few other things, including the Chagall windows.

My children are obsessed with pigeons (no, I don’t know why), and they certainly got to see a lot of them!

Before heading back to the train, we stopped at Marshall Field’s of Blessed Memory (now a Macy’s) to buy Frango mints.

We even got to ride on the upper deck of the train on the way back!

We enjoyed some more pool time back at Pheasant Run, which was the perfect way to end a hot day. We also indulged in some Food Network shows on cable TV, which is one of our favorite things about vacation!

Up next: Combo Breaker finally begins!