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Hello all,
I know some of you have been waiting for an update. We're so exhausted! I'll put up something tonight and try to add to it over the next few days.

First of all, I didn't want to take my good camera and chance anything happening to it, so I took our handycam, which somehow broke along the way and ruined the disc. So the first half of the vacation pictures are lost, including pics of Cathy and the kids and pics from the Cubs game. Drat. And Cathy and I completely forgot to take a picture of the two of us together. That's the bad news. Well, that and when we got back, Macky was completely covered in burrs and it took hours to cut them all out and now he has a mowhawk. Which could be funny except for the fact that he also had burrs all over his bottom which held the poopy next to his skin which is all infected and he has a fever. Vet tomorrow. Poor kitty. You should have seen Zach and I giving him a bath after shaving out all the burrs. What a sight. Although once he got in the tub he did relax for quite a bit, I think it must have felt better.

Now...the trip.

We left and stayed the night in a creepy little hotel in Federal Way. We had dinner at Red Lobster and I had the steak. was lousy...what was I thinking? Anyway, we got to bed about 11:00 pm. We had to be at the airport at 5:00 am. Kate couldn't sleep...too excited I think. She kept complaining about Zach's iPod being too loud. She has hypersonic hearing. So, we wake up at 3:30 am. Well, maybe not WAKE up, but GET up.

So we head to the airport. I have had a self-revelation this summer. I HATE TO BE LOST! HATE HATE HATE HATE it. Really. I hate it. I think I have a little control freak in me. I think I told you about Eugene. Well, every time I go to SeaTac, I get the turn right but some darn passenger in the car convinces me to take the wrong exit. And since they were always right in Eugene, I did it again. And we end up driving along the parkway instead of on it. With me shrieking, "We need to be up there! HOW do we get up THERE???"

We made it ok.

Got to Denver and had a L-O-N-G layover. And food. And coffee. Gosh, was I glad to get back to Washington where they know how to make coffee!!!

On the way to Chicago, we flew Frontier Airlines, a Denver-based company. It was cool. They have in-flight tv and movies. The kids got a kick out of that. And every plane has a different northwest animal on the wingtips and tail. For that leg, we had Chloe the deer fawn.

We get to Chicago, and because of the time difference, it's 5:00 pm there. We take a crazy shuttle to downtown. I kept saying, "Gosh, I'm glad I don't have to drive." And the kids kept saying, "We know, Mom, we know." "We're glad, too." Much eye rolling.

And we check into our hotel. It's 40 stories high. With a pool on the rooftop. It's completely amazing. There's a zebra chair in our room. And crazy carpet that makes you dizzy in the hall. And bellmen. And we're on the same block as Nieman Marcus and The Disney Store and across the street from NikeTown. We walk around with our heads spinning around and around. So much to look at. So very, very different from Walla Walla. We were right downtown, and while there may be some ghetto-ish areas of Chicago, we saw a very clean and friendly city.

We called Cathy and met her at this little pizza place, one of only two she said she'd recommend, for some Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Wow! Everyone loved that. And it was so good to see Cathy. She brought Damon, her younger son and it was great to meet him. He's very good-looking-kind of edgy. I think he has Lou's eyes. He's going to school in New York City and loves it. He's very artistic and creative and studying film...I can't remember exactly what aspect. He said he loves it in NY and can't wait to get back there, something always going on. Which made me kind of laugh, because Chicago seemed so huge to us, but was a bit dull for him.

Then we walked down to Navy Pier for some fireworks. On a Wednesday. People everywhere. The weather was perfect. It was in the 80's most of our visit. A couple of days it got warmer, but mostly it was wonderful.

Thursday we shopped. We found a mall in the Water Tower Building that was 8 stories high and had a glass elevator. On the top floor, you could look all the way down.

We walked all over the Magnificent Mile and ended up eating dinner at ESPN Zone, which was really cool. We also went to the Observatory at the John Hancock Building...which is where Cathy lives.

Cathy's house is the big black building with the two white spires on top.
The Observatory is on the 94th floor and Cathy lives on the 58th. Kate was amazed. She said, "Cathy lives in a tourist attraction!" Her building is amazing...the views are unbelievable. You can see the lake, the Navy Pier, the Sears Tower, the skyline...Kathy is right, it's so beautiful. And her front porch has not only gelato, but a Cheesecake Factory and a Jamba Juice and a nail salon and upstairs where only tenants can go is a pool and a weight room and a grocery store. I was just in awe! I wish we hadn't lost all those pictures! Here is Cathy's front porch.

Friday we went on the El to a Cubs game.

(Thanks for this pic and the one of us by the pizza place, Cath!)
Cathy got us seats 10 rows behind the home team dugout. Right between home plate and third base. We could almost reach out and touch the players. It was so cool. The boys were so excited. Kate was not feeling terribly well and was worried we'd miss her Vidal Sasoon appointment, so she didn't have as much fun. We took the train back and Kate made her appointment. Her hair looks so cute, but I just keep thinking that it's going to grow out like any $20 haircut, even though it cost 5 times as much!!!

After that we walked to the Hard Rock Cafe for dinner and had a waiter with a really big mowhawk. That was really a lot of fun. Then we went to Cathy's house and swam there, and Cathy and I got to visit a little bit. After swimming, Cathy and Kate put on a little song and dance show for the rest of us. They were hilarious. Like BFFs. Kate wants to come to college in Chicago and live with Cathy!

Saturday we did a little more shopping in the morning and Pete and his crew arrived a little after noon. Okay, for those of you who don't know exactly who this Pete from Ohio is....he found my blog last November. His wife died of a brain tumor in September. He and Lori are about my age, but their kids are younger, two boys, 8 and 5 and a girl 3. Anyway, we started talking in November, and Kate has fallen in love with Pete's little girl. So, since he's in Ohio, not very far from Chicago, he and his crew decided to veer through Chicago on their way home from their vacation.

Wow, are we glad they did. I was amazed at how incredibly well the kids got along. Kenny and N were deep in conversation most of the time. Zach gave G piggy-back rides and participated in cannon-ball contests. Kate and E were great buddies. We went to the Children's Museum and spent the day digging for fossils, inventing hammers to wake up teddy bears, testing flying machines and sculpting clay heads.

We walked to the Rain Forest Cafe for dinner and then spent the evening by the pool.

It was a great time. Crazy and chaotic sometimes...the RF Cafe was loud...we were by a waterfall, and N got elbowed by Kate in the eye and the gyroscope we got him also bonked him in the head. But other than that, once the kids were warmed up, it was an amazing time. Pete and I got a little time to talk while the kids were swimming. We were on the top of a 40 story building, the night sky above and the incredible skyline all around. It was a peaceful time, contemplative, even with splashing from cannonballs nearby. It reminded me of times in our backyard, around the campfire.

I told him about the book I read on the plane, "The Shack." Bonnie sent it to me...and Bon, I can't thank you enough. I cried all the way from Denver to Chicago. It's a story about a man who suffers a great loss, finds himself engulfed the "the great blackness" and gets a chance to ask God why. I won't tell you any more. You have to go get this book. It will make you cry, make you think.

In the morning, Pete called and said, "If you were a bear in a Children's Museum, something would be falling on your head right now." And so we woke up smiling and went to the corner bakery for breafast. The time flew by. G took off his shoes and declared he wasn't going to go home. When Pete gently reminded him that he had to go back to work, G insisted, "We have enough money already!" I think we all kind of felt like G. None of us was ready for the vacation to end.

After Pete's clan left, we took the trolley to the aquarium. A trolley through the part of town that had a bike race going on! But we got to stop right by the Sears Tower. And the was huge! And beautiful. The planetarium was beautiful, too, but we didn't have time to go there. We also went by Soldier Field. Later, we took a water taxi back to Navy Pier, which was a ton of fun. Zach made a video of it. I'll have to see if I can upload it.

Back to the hotel for a late night swim. Off to the grocery store for breakfast foods....the room service food was less than desirable...and in the morning it was time to pack and get back on a death-defying shuttle and onto another airplane. Our first plane was Hank the Bobcat and our last plane was Spike, the porcupine. Some of you will appreciate the Spike...Dave had a little finger puppet named Spike in his orange VW bug. Lots of Spike stories out there.

At the airport in SeaTac, had trouble with our parking ticket, were tired and grouchy, but still, we noticed some of the things we had missed already...the air was fresh, clean, clear. You could smell the ocean. The coffee was good. And the stars....a million stars. So we headed to Walla Walla, where there are even more than a million. Got home about 2:00 am, which was really 4:00 am on Chicago time.

All in all, we're home, broke, exhausted and happy. Happy we went, but also happy to be home.


  1. Hi!

    Glad you guys had such a great trip. Vacations do have a way of sucking all the money out of our bank accounts, don't they? It's just different, the way we spend money on vacation.

    I know it's nice to be back home, too, though.

    Thanks for sharing the pictures with us, and so sorry about the lost ones. :(

    Take care!


  2. Michelle, it was SO great to see you and the kids in Chicago! I love the pictures of all our kids together. I wish we did have enough money already, as Gabriel said, so that we could have stayed longer, but alas, until I win the lottery that's not the case! :) Looking forward to getting everyone together again...sometime.
    Peace. Pete

  3. Michelle
    Wow, what a memory for you, the kids, Pete, his kids and Cathy and Damon. So sad that your connection is from what it is but it is amazing what the internet does. I am glad you are home safe and sound and I am sure falling right back in to an amazingly busy schedule with Peach Ball Classic. No this month you will be high on my prayer list.

  4. Michelle, I am so glad you and the kids got to see Chicago. It's amazing! Lake Micheigan and the peir. The pizza looked great.
    But spending time with your forever soulfriends friends must of been the best. Love ya, Sherri

  5. Chellebelle,

    Finally, checking in here. I just got back from my niece's wedding in West Virginia, it's been a crazy time here! Love your recounting of the trip to Chicago, love the pics, love the family, love you all! I especially like the pic of my BGF (best girlfriend) Kate and I singing and dancing, that was soo fun, and you know, I do want her to visit anytime! I am so glad you had a great trip and that you got to meet up with Pete and crew too. Our brain tumor bonds are so strong aren't they, and it is so good to have brain tumor buddies.........I know you were happy to be back home , and that is as it should be, but always remember, you've got a friend in Chicago, your city mouse. Love you guys!!

  6. Michelle so glad you had such a great time. It is wonderful your family and Pete's got along so well. You are so right you have such special friends. Hope some day they can come to WW and see how the country folks live.

  7. Well, it's official - the cats are rulers over all at the Withers house. And to think I was babying them yesterday! They are so adorable and I'm glad I got both because they are certainly entertaining to us and each other! Pictures to come!


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