Saturday, 18 October 2014

Happy Birthday, Liz!

Happy Birthday to my sister-in-law, Liz. 
We've known each other for nearly 27 years and have shared lots of ups and downs together. We've been pregnant and had our children within weeks/months of each other each time. Liz had Helen 4.5 months before I had Hugh, I had Claire 6 months before she had Richard and Henry was born 9 weeks before Emily. We've lived near each other (in South Africa and England) and far apart (Chicago and England) but no matter where we are, when we meet up we pick up where we left off. Our children are just the same and even though it can be years between seeing each other, they still hit it off when they get together.
So Liz, thank you for all the laughs, thank you for listening to me when I need someone to talk to, thank you for making us part of the family when we come to visit and most importantly, thank you for just being you! I hope you know how much we all love you and I wish we could still have been in Chicago to celebrate your birthday with you but know that we are thinking of you and wish you a fantastic birthday!

Love you :)

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The Wedding

As I said at the beginning of the Chicago posts, the reason we had gone to Chicago was for the wedding of my niece, Helen and her partner of 11 years, Chrissie.  Helen and Chrissie had always said that when it was legal for them to marry, they would.  That time finally arrived and we were thrilled to be able to make the journey to share the day with them.
We got to Rockford in time to have lunch and then book into the hotel where we were going to get ready. 
The wedding service was being held at the Japanese Gardens in Rockford which was a short drive from the hotel.  The photos were being taken first to get the most of the light as the ceremony was starting at 6pm.

Simon & Helen  
One of my favourite photos from the day.
 Chrissie's family photos were taken first.
Here with her parents and sister

 With her grandparents

 Liz & Simon

 Family group
 I wasn't expecting to be called up for photos. Thanks to Liz for taking these :)
 Emily and me with Helen

Laura & Chrissie and Helen, Henry & Richard
Helen's side of the family
Me, Emily, Henry Liz, Chrissie, Helen, Simon, Richard, Mark (cousin) and Clinton (family friend)
While more photos were being taken, I took a few of the gardens.  The scenery was beautiful and hopefully these capture a little bit of it.


 Getting ready for the ceremony

 The ceremony was lovely and the vows made were very emotional.  We were so happy we were able to be there to share the day with Helen and Chrissie.

Just a few more photos from the day - by now you'll have a good idea of who's who so I'll leave off captions.

As we arrived at the hotel where the reception was being held this sunset greeted us

Zoomed in :)
Sadly, this brings us to the end of our Chicago photos as the next day we headed back to Long Grove with just time to pack and head to the airport for our flight home. 
 Goodbye Chicago :(
Till next time - let's hope it's not too long!
Thank you for staying with me through all these posts, I've enjoyed reliving the memories and hopefully you'll have enjoyed seeing some of the photos.

Friday, 3 October 2014

Random photos

Ok, these really are just random photos (are you fed up with all my photos yet?).  I don't know what I'm going to do once I've run out of photos from Chicago, I'll actually have to start using my camera at home and try and keep up with the blogging (I promised Liz I would ;-) )

Before we even got to Chicago, Liz had told us we were going to go to see The Hundred Foot Journey. I hadn't even heard of it and had no idea what to expect.  It ended up being very enjoyable (even though Emily did have to nudge me awake at one point - we had been really busy!)  However, part of going to movies was also so we could see the cinema that Liz goes to in Barrington. It's an independent cinema and it had got to the stage where they thought they were going to have to close it because the equipment was becoming outdated and they didn't know how they'd replace it.  Long story short, the regulars and the community stepped in and they were not only able to replace the equipment but with a bit more fund raising they were able to buy new seats as well.  So glad we got to go.

This was just across the road from the cinema an there was quite a golden glow that evening.

As you can imagine, I missed my granddaughters while we were away but thanks to technology it wasn't nearly as bad as it would have been.  Claire was able to send me photos of the girls and, better still, we were able to talk to each other on Face Time virtually every day - to begin with at around 3am Chicago time though we had got later by the end of the stay ;-)

 In the laundry basket (obviously, like you would expect!!)

One evening Liz, Emily and I went out for a Starbucks and Emily wanted to look in a couple of the shops.  As we were walking across the car park we noticed some people sitting out on chairs.  It was only as we got nearer I remembered that the new iPhone was due out the next morning! Naturally I had to take a photo.

One of the things we noticed was that the sky seemed so much bigger in America.  I know that sounds a silly thing to say but I think it's because there's so much open space.  The next couple of photos were taken going to/coming back from the wedding.  It was being held at the Japanese gardens in Rockford, Illinois which was about a two hour drive from where we were staying.

The other thing that struck me was how flat it was.  Where we live in the UK there seem to be hills every direction you go!

Oh look, another Denny's photo ;-)   This was taken the morning after the wedding before we started on our journey home.  Richard was suffering with allergies and by this stage, Henry was just used to me pointing a camera or phone at him and had given up trying to avoid me.  Poor guy is probably glad we've gone home!

Clouds - because I liked them.

There was the occasional farmhouse in the distance (this one is zoomed in considerably)

And for this one, I thought I was being sneaky getting the shot but Emily had seen me and was not overly impressed.  Didn't help that we were leaving that afternoon and neither of us was ready to go home yet!

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Chicago cont.

Another day, another breakfast ;-).  

We had a list of places we'd like to go to eat.  We've already ticked off Olive Garden and, to be honest, if we hadn't gone to any of the others we'd have been happy.  However, Liz was happy to oblige so we went to iHop for breakfast one morning. 

I had to take  a photo of the menu for Jon.  I'm sure even he might think twice about having a T-bone steak for breakfast ;-)

I do enjoy the endless cups of coffee.  How is it you can have a bottomless cup in America but here in the UK we have to pay every time we want a refill??

The obligatory selfie ;-)

One thing we did notice was how quiet it was in the restaurant, the previous time we had been it had been much busier but Liz was saying less people are going out for breakfast these days. The recession has certainly hit a lot of people across the world.

And the second one for this post is ...

It had to be done (more than once!)

We went to Denny's a few times.  With Liz, Richard and Henry, with Liz, with Liz and Henry, with Liz, Simon, Richard, Henry, Mark and Clifton - you get the picture?

Now this photo certainly isn't the best one of Emily and myself but it pretty much sums up our holiday. We had so much fun and probably haven't laughed so much in ages. That's the best part about going to Chicago, we slot right in and are part of the family and we have a ball!!

Finally under control again ;-)
And a couple more photos of Snowflake (because I have them and she's so sweet!)
In the shopping bag (because she could!)

And in Richard's bedroom. Snowflake is Richard's cat and as soon as Richard gets up in the morning Snowflake runs to see him and pretty much becomes his shadow for the rest of the day. 

Going through these photos brings home how much fun we had, I wish we lived closer!