I’m coming up on the last minutes of my actual birthday; I turned 37 years old today. And while I’m not exactly thrilled to be another year older, I must admit that this has been a wonderful day. Actually, it’s been a wonderful four days.

297It started out on Friday with the corporate Independence Day holiday; which meant I wasn’t chained to my desk or weighted down by twenty zillion emails on my work-issued crackberry. It was also the only day Hubby and I both knew we’d have all to our own this entire weekend.

So what did we do? Spent it sleeping in until about 9 am, followed shortly after by the presentation of my “early” birthday gift. Then it was off to Evanston and on to the beach, where we spent the afternoon swimming in the cool (but not freezing) Lake Michigan weather and lying on our large two-person beach towel reading. That was followed by a really late lunch (or early dinner) at the local seafood restaurant and a movie at the Evanston theater. Overall, a very relaxing day.

Saturday morning was spent cleaning, in anticipation of my parents arriving by train later in the afternoon. And really, that was probably the most work I did all weekend long. (Except for that relatively last-minute document that work required me to have completed by Friday morning … )

298By 1 pm Saturday afternoon, Hubby and I were on the Chicago River waiting for our Chicago Architecture Foundation (CAF) docent to begin our tour of the significant buildings along the river. It was an excellent tour and it definitely gave us a different view of the Chicago skyline; one we had never seen before. The only downer was that it was a very cold and wet day. Oh well, this just means we’ll have to go again on a brighter and sunnier day. 🙂

My parents “rolled” into town around 5 pm on Saturday evening. And because it was still raining at the time, we headed over to the Water Tower only to find that the indoor shopping center would close at 6 pm. So instead, we took the Lakeshore scenic drive up to Evanston to have dinner at the same seafood restaurant Hubby & I ate at the day before.

299What I didn’t realize at the time was that Hubby was already thinking in “advance.” You see, by the time we made it up to Evanston, the rain and clouds blew over leaving a clear evening sky in its place. Which made it perfect weather for Evanston’s 4th of July fireworks. So after dinner, we walked down to Patriot’s Park along the waterfront and sat front and center for the show. Perfect way to end the day.

Yesterday (Sunday) was spent at the Shedd Aquarium downtown in Chicago’s Museum District. Hubby & I had been there earlier in the year when our nephew Tyler spent his Easter break with us. Unfortunately, the sea-quarium was being remodeled, so we didn’t get to see the dolphins or whales at that time. But yesterday … those beauties were back. And showing off just for my parents; who had never been there.

For my parents, I think the best part was the whole “Wild Reef” exhibit, which is the shark exhibit. Hubby & I had been to the Shedd about 5 years ago when this exhibit first opened; mainly because our nephew has always had a thing for sharks. What we hadn’t expect was:

  1. The sharks to be so d*mn small at the time, and
  2. The whole exhibit to revolve around protecting coral reefs

The whole coral reef aspect was the same thing that both my parents and Hubby & me loved. And that’s because the Philippine Islands played a ginormous role throughout the exhibit. What we had learned is that the Philippine waters house the largest, most diverse fish and coral life in the world. And seeing how prominent the role of the Philippines played everywhere in this display, it was an absolute cool way to learn more about my heritage and where my parents came from!

300And today … “B”-day (as opposed to “D”-day … 😉 ). I wasn’t expecting much of anything other than a (well-deserved) day off from work to spend with my Hubby and parents as we traipse through the town. But it was such a fun day!

We started out in Chinatown where we walked through and picked up a variety of different things … like a back scratcher (can never have enough of them) and a hand-painted fan (for those hot days). Oh, and some delish sweet and sour gummies from an Asian candy store … yum! However, the real reason to go to Chinatown was to have a Dim Sum feast at our favorite Chinese restaurant. And because it was my birthday, I had to have my traditional “Long Life” noodle dish!

While  in a post-food ingestion haze, Hubby drove all of us over to the Sears — oops, I mean Willis — Tower to do the most touristy thing in Chicago. Yep, went all the way up to the observation deck; but not before spending more than an hour in line. But it was definitely worth it … the views of the city were absolutely spectacular!

And then there were the glass balconies. Oh yes; glass. It’s the newest part of the the attraction; four retractable glass balconies that allows a view of the city that’s definitely unique. As in “103-stories-straight-down” unique.

It was a little daunting at first, but once I was on there it wasn’t so bad … as long as I didn’t continue to look down for extended periods of time. From then, it was just a matter of taking silly pictures of us “falling” or “hanging on to dear life.” And of course, since I’m such a “rebel,” I had to do something “dangerous” … well at least what others would perceive as dangerous.

302Oh yeah … I made Hubby take a picture of me jumping on the balcony. Which, if one didn’t know how absolutely reinforced these balconies were by steel, would really freak anyone else that was on the balcony when I jumped. Heh … told you I was a rebel.

My parents took us out to dinner afterwards, at my place of choice. But because my parents had yet to to experience authentic Chicago deep dish pizza. So that’s how we ended up at Pizzeria Due and stuffed beyond belief and in desperate need of something to do walk off all the food we ate.

That’s how my Mom, Hubby and I ended up at the beach 3 blocks from our apartment, walking along the lakeshore. And it was a beautiful evening to do so as well, with the full moon shimmering off the lake.

Afterwards, it was back to the apartment where, after an unexpected phone call from Dr. Bro (who actually remembered to call on my actual birthday — a miracle in itself), Hubby surprised me with a birthday cake.

303And so that was my Birthday weekend. A lot of activity in a small span of time. I’m so grateful my parents were there to celebrate it with me. And I’m so incredibly lucky to have a Hubby that loves me so much.

So now I’m off to do a little more work before heading off to bed. I’m not going into work tomorrow, as we’re taking my parents to the train station late-morning, but this is something with an unfortunate deadline.

And what a blessing it will be to have tomorrow off. Because after a busy four days, this 37-year old body certainly needs the rest.

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