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Chicago and Lowell for Christmas with the Tuskas

While we were packing for our big, week long, Chritmas-New Year's trip to Chicago, Michigan and the cottage, we decided it would be best to open my mom's present at our house. She had picked them out and sent them to our house after all.
 
An Isabella dress for Meadow. 

We got on FaceTime with Grandma Nana and opened her gifts. 

And a cat umbrella for Meadow.

Theo got more mini PicassoTiles and Where's Waldo books. Did you know that series is called Where's Wally in the UK, where it came from?

Then the kids exchanged their gifts for each other. A Pop-It game for Theo and the last remaining Lego Harry Potter set for Meadow.

Then the kids opened presents from us. This way they could play before our long trip. Theo got Kirby and the Forgotten Land.

Meadow was ecstatic for her Encanto Lego house.

We originally had planned to leave on the 23rd but the weather changed our plans. We had to push everything by a day and left on Christmas Eve instead. The drive from Minneapolis to Eau Claire was a slow one as the roads were really slippery. I counted 22 cars in the ditch during that time.

Honestly, I'm not sure it was any better driving a day later, but maybe we skipped the worst road conditions. Who knows how many ended up in ditches on the 23rd vs 24th.
 
We quickly checked into our hotel downtown before heading over to Colin and Jen's. 

The kids are always excited for a hotel. We got a killer deal at the Hotel Chicago next to the House of Blues and the corn cob towers (famously featured on the cover of Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot).

The kids were as awkward with my family as ever. Though, Theo would warm up quickly.

Jen had some Christmas headbands leftover from work for us to wear. 

Colin brought takeout from the restaurant where he's a manager.

The food was delicious. 

Probably the best Italian food I've had other than Bar La Grassa back in Minneapolis.

Theo was silly and wore 4 headbands at once. 

Uncle Colin got in on the fun too.


Then Colin surprised us with a Yule Log Pile cake. I had never seen anything like this before. I loved the added moss and mushrooms.

We all analyzed how they made this cake while I did a deep dive on the interwebs and found the cake mold.
 
Look at this view from our room. Somehow the Harry Carry building has survived.

I was hoping we were on the other side facing the corn cob towers and the river, but still, not a bad view.  
 
Meadow never wanted to leave her bed.

These buildings are known to me as the Wilco Towers. 

The whole complex is actually called Marina City and includes the towers, hotel and House of Blues. The architect Bertrand Goldberg was famous for his curvaceous take on mid-century modernism.

We parked a few blocks away to save a few simoleons. 

Colin and Jen had breakfast for us when we arrived. Brioche french toast and bacon. 

Then the kiddos opened their presents: a pair of Lego Star Wars sets. I can't believe this is the first Star Wars Legos the kids have gotten.
 
While Scott and Colin watched the Packer's game, I took the kids across the street to play. 

It was freezing out, but they stayed there for a long time. Like half of the Packers game.


 
Jen even got cookie dough and cutters to make cookies with the kids. 

Meadow loves this sort of thing. 

Good times were had.

For some reason the cookies would spread when they baked. We even chilled the dough between cutting. The kids still did a great job decorating. 

Colin grilled us some fancy steak for Christmas dinner. Originally we would've already been in Lowell, Michigan, but with the winter weather we had an extra night with Colin and Jen.

Another delicious meal. 

We were sad that we already had to leave Chicago the next morning.

The next morning we checked out of our hotel and headed to Michigan.

Meadow was so excited to see her cousins and ran away with them right away. 

Katrina already had dinner ready for us when we arrived. 

Cameron was playing a game of peek-a-boo with the camera guy.
 
Ha I didn't even notice he was there. 

Mmm...nothing better than roast chicken.

The three little goofs all sat side by side. Theo was still warming up to Cam and Simone.

The neighbor cats like to watch from the windows and will occasionally sneak in when you open the door. 

Katrina wanted us to take at least one home with us. Ha.

My mom was supposed to be over for Christmas dinner, but she's a worry wort. So, Brooke and I came over with Christmas dinner.
 
The nearby neighbors had this amazing light display. 

Everyone was watching Little House on the Prairie when we returned. 

Present time! Present time! Our kids were getting spoiled this year, this was their 3rd Christmas with more coming yet. 

More Legos. Too bad the kids will have to wait to put them together when we get home. 

Cameron got straight to work on the Lego set he got from Uncle Colin.

As you can see Cameron is definitely a Lego superfan.
 
Brooke must have ate breakfast with the kids. The plan for the day was to bring these goofs over to my mom's place.
 
Katrina, Dennis and I had to work. 

Right after breakfast the kids headed outside. Wish they would do this at home, but when you have a yard like they do. 

I guess they normally aren't this much outdoors, but with the snow and cousins, it's all they wanted to do.

Unfortunately Theo had one of those travel tummy aches and threw up!
 
He threw up in bed overnight and seemed to be better in the morning. But as soon as they came in from outside he got sick all over his outdoor clothes. Laundry and a bath was needed.

We weren't going to bring Theo and the kids over to my mom's just in case it was a stomach flu. So the kids played around the house the rest of the day. Theo did end up putting together his AT-ST Lego set he got from Aunt Katrina and Uncle Dennis.

I also prepped lunch for the kids.

Poor Theo fell asleep on the floor. I guess he's still not feeling good. 
 
After dinner I played outside with the kids before it got dark. Bonus was this amazing sunset.
 
I checked it out from the front porch. It was indeed, stellar.

What a beautiful place, Wrobleskis!
 
Theo's hair was beautiful after taking a bath.

More Little House on the Prairie before bed. 

The kids had a lot fun, but we had to head to our next stop.

Before we headed up to the U.P. we stopped at Nana Gail's place. The kids were being super shy. 

I got my mom's vacuum up and running before headed north to the UP.

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