Sugar & Spice, And All Things Nice

June 12, 2014
That's what little girls are made of. My niece is healthy, but already giving her mom grief. This pregnancy has been a lot harder on my sister. She still had two months to go. We celebrated her impending arrival over Memorial Day weekend. The morning after my brother-in-law's wedding, I flew from Oakland to Chicago-Midway.

Thankfully, there was an early flight and it had no delays. I was able to arrive early enough to help set up. It was a good thing too, they were in the weeds preparing for the party. We got it knocked out pretty well by the time guests arrived. It wasn't your typical shower, it was held in the backyard, we barbequed and had a bonfire. Everyone was welcome.

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Our family hasn't had many little girls and I believe Addison will be the first in Jeff's family. Ribbons, bows, and pink dominated the shower gifts. She will be one well dressed little girl. We all cannot wait to meet her.

After the celebration, we had quality sister time. We made returns and purchased new items for Addison. Had a bedding crisis. We also learned that cribs today are not made for short people. All the shopping wore us out. Thankfully, we were well fueled by Lou Malnati's pizza. The butter crust is delicious, but they pile on the sausage which creates pools of unneccesary grease. It was a first for me, and I'd try it again, but I'd ask for easy sausage.

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I also tried Culver's for the first time. It was the fried cheese curds that swayed me to try them and they were delicious. I didn't try the custard, heresy, I know. A big time favorite for folks back home is Hog Wild. I tried it many moons ago at the old location and recall not being too fond of the pulled pork. Everyone insists the pork chop is where it is at, so I made it priority to try it this trip. It is a bargain, it's a stellar chop for less than ten bucks with two sides. They have mild BBQ sauce on the table, but if you're like me and like more bold flavor do yourself a favor and ask for the spicy. It's not real hot, but it has some kick which adds depth and complements the sweetness well.

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Amy let Nicky play hooky one day so we could go with my dad to Starved Rock. I was last there in my late-teens. Frank, our friend Bill and I camped. My memory from that trip was how badly we were feasted on by mosquitos. Turns out mosquitos there are still mighty hungry, 15 years later (I forget how much I hate those buggers). When I was a little, my parents always stopped at Duffy's for dinner after Starved Rock. We broke tradition a bit by stopping there first for lunch, but little else has changed. The building is smaller than I remember, but I was happy to see the ladies in the bathtub remain. I swear the corn dog was my go to menu item as kid, but this time I went with medium-rare burger topped with mushrooms and swiss. It hit the spot. Duffy's may very well be where my fondess for Irish bars began.

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For those who don't know Starved Rock, it is a state park that sits on the banks of Illinois River in Utica, IL. Legend has it that the Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes trapped the Illi on the sandstone butte (that overlooks the river) until they died of starvation. Hence, the name Starved Rock. The park is the most scenic in the area, there are 13 miles of hiking trails and it offers other recreational sports. There are cliffs and canyons, waterfalls are common. My favorite time to see the falls is when they are frozen in winter months. We didn't do the trails near the falls, we stuck to those along the river. It was warm and muggy, the air was thick and we pooped out faster than we expected. Still, we had a nice day with my dad.

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It was a whirlwind trip, and of course, it went too quick, but I'm happy I got to spend some time with my sister before she's a mother of two. Nick has grown so fast. He's since officially finished first grade. Minecraft is his world. I'm a bit sad to watch him grow into a young man, but I'm happy to see he remains sweet and helpful, and he has a heart of gold just like his momma. Amy & Jeff recently moved into a bigger house on the same property they rented before so they'll have more room for their growing family. It's far more spacious, I suspect they'll be happy there. I'm so happy for them.

2 comments:

Optimistic Existentialist said...

This does look like an amazing time. And that cake looks EPIC!!

Amy said...

I'm so happy my kids have you as an Auntie! You're the best sister anyone could ever have. I love you. My only wish is that we were closer together geographically. The time we do get together I cherish that much more though. Thank you again for coming out for Addys baby shower :)

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