This past weekend we went on a whirlwind trip to Chicago, our first visit back since we moved (one year ago this past Monday!) Ben earned a day off of work through a test he took so he was glad to have a brief break:)
We were totally unprepared for the emotions that hit us when we got really close and started seeing familiar exits, etc. We left broken last year. We were sent off by loving friends in various places, all hoping we would find peace and healing. And we have…and are but sometimes experiences or memories can open up a little of the rawness. And that’s what happened for Ben and I. I felt increasingly anxious and Ben couldn’t even face the thought of driving through Hyde Park, even to show our kids where they once lived.
So we stopped (or kept driving anyways) and said a prayer and just felt that God was with us. The anxiety was lifted off and we decided to just trust that He was with us and just to be ourselves for the weekend.
You know you’re getting close to Chi-town when gas prices start rising! We left with gas prices hovering around $2.80 and found them up to $3.59 in Chicago. Ouch! Now there’s a painful memory:) haha.
One of our main goals for the trip was to keep promises to the boys and to let them have some time with friends. Samuel, especially, missed his two best friends (the middle two) so very much this past year. I emailed back and forth with their moms the week before we left and made plans for them to hang out. Another friend was able to join at the last minute and they all got to hang out for a bit and then go bowling! It seriously made Samuel’s weekend to get to reconnect with them. The boys were crowded at the front door when we pulled up and they all yelled, “Samuel!!!” So happy to brighten our guy’s life:)
We let Mr Z hang out with the boys for a little bit at the house but then we made the executive decision to take him and E out and let Samuel have friend-time. We found an old favorite restaurant, “Smashburger,” that we discovered not long before we left and split a couple burgers between the four of us. Yum!
E chose to sit with her daddy:)
And Mr Z was happy to sit with me!! Then we went and browsed through a bookstore briefly until it was time to pick Samuel up. After getting Samuel, we drove straight to our friends’ house where we were staying. They are an older couple that took us under their wing that last year and were such a blessing to us! They made us feel so welcome this weekend and we thoroughly enjoyed our time with them! We spent Friday night just catching up with them:)
On Saturday, they took us to our old church, which was hosting a Family Fun Day. It was HOT outside and really humid so we lathered up with sunscreen, put hats on and prepared to have fun. I started to realize, as we kept seeing people we knew, that the weekend was becoming more about putting some healing pieces into place and seeing people from church, people who were instrumental in caring for us last year.
We didn’t get to see other long-time friends, unfortunately, but we know there will be other times to soak up friendship with them!
Mr Z got a Zebra balloon made:)
Samuel got a really funny hat!
All three happy with their balloons!
There was face-painting, of course! Samuel had the funny idea of getting sunglasses and a mustache painted on:)
We called him, “The Evil Mustachio!”
He made us laugh with this face!
Eliana was SOOO tired but she waited patiently in line, almost falling asleep on Ben’s shoulder, to get her face painted.
She got a sparkly purple bunny on her forehead:)
Poor Mr Z waited in line the whole time hoping to get Bugs Bunny painted on the side of his face, only to have the stressed face-painter snap at him that she didn’t have time to do it. She was so short and rude with him, giving him no time to come up with a second idea, that she left him in tears. He does not cry the way he did for several minutes after we left the tent. My heart absolutely broke for him. Doing things like that are out of his comfort zone and take him a lot of courage and to be shot down as rudely as he was, was totally uncalled for. He refused to go back up and try again with the other lady. Later, when I told our friends what happened, Mr Chuck went up and had a few words with the lady and brought back apologies for Zakkai. He perked up a bit after that but it took him a little while to recover. He has such a tender heart!
Eliana in the bounce house!
On a little train ride!
E had so much fun bouncing (that’s Samuel on the left! ha) that she dissolved into tears when they had to close it down and she had to come out. Can we say…tired?! We stayed for the concert just for a bit and then we were all so hot and tired, that we left early.
Eliana playing with Bella, Mr Chuck and Miss Sally’s dog. The sweetest dog ever! She is a lap dog and loves to come snuggle with you. Perfect and gentle for kids!
The next morning we packed up all our stuff and prepared to go to the service at our old church. Miss Sally snapped a few pictures of our Lovelies!
Our Family! We so enjoyed going to church. Through the weekend, we saw every person (except one) from church that we wanted to see and connect with, so that was a big blessing. I walked into the building and just felt like it was “home.” It’s SO hard to find a new church and settle in and I really miss that feeling of belonging.
We said goodbye to Chuck and Sally at church (very hard!) and then went to lunch with another family that we had gotten to know last year. They have two boys, one Z’s age and one a teenager. (The nicest teenager I have ever met in my life!!!) Their youngest was one of the boys Zakkai wanted to see, so that made me happy that he got some time in. We met at a funny little restaurant in our old neighborhood and spent a good hour and a half just catching up and talking. It was a nice way to end our trip!
So hard to believe that we lived here for 9 years and that we don’t anymore! Wow.
Oh look, our favorite part of the trip! Not…..
Seriously, the most exciting thing you see on the trip from Chicago to Columbus. The windmills! There is a section of hundreds of them and everyone likes to look at them. Apparently, we are easily amused;)
For a long time, everyone was happy with their books on tape! So glad I got those from the library!
Eliana showing me hers:)
Mr Z gets stuck in the back because S gets carsick. He didn’t seem to mind, though, as he had full control of the DVD player while the audiobook was on:) He’s our techy-guy!
And this…..is what happens when you drive late into the night after a busy weekend!! Haha! I snapped this right as we pulled in the driveway. About 20-25 min before we got home, E was just exhausted and falling apart a bit so we leaned back all seats and told them to rest. She loved the idea of her seat going back and within a few minutes, was out like a light!!
Not the safest position for driving (I know!) but pretty funny. It was only for the last 20 minutes and since she was quiet, I didn’t care! We carried her right up and she never even stirred!
We were all exhausted on Monday. I mean, down to the bones exhausted. The boys have VBS this week and I got them there, did a little grocery shopping and it hit me like a ton of bricks! I could barely function the rest of the day! We saw this beautiful rainbow on the way to TKD Monday night. We got all the way there and found out it was cancelled and I have to say, I didn’t mind! I got everyone fed and in bed as quickly as I could! Feeling much more like ourselves now, despite a super busy week.
B and I are very thankful for a good trip “home” to Chicago. It’s hard to put into words what we felt by being there but it was good for us. And hopefully, the painful memories will be less sharp each time we go and we can instead remember God’s grace and goodness to us while we were there.
We have so many blessings, in the form of well-loved friends, to go back and see!