2nd man and I have been in Chicago all week with a small group from our youth department.  These were the top 7 winners from our Wednesday night All-Stars program.  For all of their hard work at memorizing scripture, going on outreach, Christian service and Bible reading they won an all expense paid trip to Chicago.  The week was a full one, a fun one and extremely funny as well as an annoying one.  I could give all the details, but hey, who has time to read about that? 
            The funny for the first day was at the Lincoln Park Zoo.  There we ran into some really cute animals.  Ok, so every zoo has really cute animals, but really there were some highlights that are in these pictures.  Apparently the bear here had some sort of jaw surgery so her tongue hangs out like this all the time…cracked me up. 
The meerkats are always good for a laugh.  However, I found this one exceptional looking at us looking at him looking at us.  He didn’t move from this position the whole time.
Another funny was the exposure to all of the random street talent that you find in big cities.  Some are really great and undiscovered.  Others…well they just need a buck.  There was an elderly Asian man playing a violin in the park.  As we walked up we heard him playing “Happy Birthday” to a little girl.  Being impressed with this, 2nd man got out a dollar put it in the mans open case and asked if he could play “You are my Sunshine”  to which he grinned and said, “ya ya”  Then he began to play “Happy Birthday” again…and again…and again.  Yep, a one trick pony took us.
On our second day, we went to the Pacific Garden Mission.   We’ve taken a large group there once before and were so impressed that we really wanted to take this small group to help feed the homeless, clean up wherever we could help and get a tour and testimony as well.   It’s hard to explain the feeling one gets being from a small town and seeing so many homeless people and getting to help out too.   It’s a time to try to bless another and get blessed as well.
           
All of this did happen, but the funny came when we were working in the kitchen.  One of the workers came up and asked if I had ever been told that I look like some actress named Katey Sagal????????  Apparently she’s been on a recent sitcom called “8 simple rules” However, I only knew her from the 80s when she was on “Married with Children” Ugh!!!  Are you kidding me?  I wasn’t sure how to respond to that.  Peg Bundy? Really?  Oh come on! I said.  I wasn’t sure if I should be flattered or offended.  Hopefully she looks better in the newer sitcom.  He went on to say that he wasn’t the only one that thought so…. AWKWARD!
Later that day we wanted to end the evening at the Navy Pier.  We got it in our heads that we had so much time we’d meander through the city to see some other sites like Buckingham Fountain and The Bean etc.  May I give anyone interested in visiting a large city some advice here?  Skyscrapers really skew perspective.  I wore my pedometer watch all day.  15 miles later we reached the pier and I fear we were too exhausted to even truly appreciate it.  We sat on the grass to have a time of devotions and watch the fireworks and I thought I’d never be able to get back up to get to the bus and subway. 
Which brings me to my next funny…rookies on the subway.  Wowy wow wow.  We got a pretty good handle of it before the trip was over, but I am so thankful to live in a small town without public transportation.  I’m pretty sure it was plain inappropriate how close we were shoved into other people’s bodies when we went to the Cubs game with everyone else in town, all on one subway car.  However, our ride out to the airport every night ended up with just us on the car.  One evening one of our girls fell asleep.  2nd man had the rest of us quietly get up and move to the back of the train car.  When she woke up she was more than a little startled.  It was great; I can’t help but laugh just thinking about it.  Thankfully she’s the type that takes jokes well or we wouldn’t have even attempted it.  Well, maybe that last sentence was a lie.
Speaking of the Cubs game also brings me to another funny of the week.  Lets just say, that was one of the weaker attractions of the week.  No, it’s not just because the Cubs totally stink as a ball team.  But rather, we brought a group of kids who call themselves “the nerd herd.”  I kid you not, I didn’t make that up.  I’d never call a teenager that with my mouth or my writing, but these kids have a face book group and everything.  That being said, they aren’t exactly into baseball.  At one point 2nd man and I looked down the row to see two of them playing on their Nintendo DS games.  We just chuckled and by the top of the 8th inning we figured that the after-game crowds and the “Nerd Herd” group was argument enough for leaving early and getting a good nights sleep. 

I’m so happy to be going home now.  I absolutely love visiting large cities and the small group was great overall, but I miss my kids, my bed, my home, and my small town.  No matter how great a group, a week can be a long time.  We have one in the group (there’s always that “one”) that’s about to drive me crazy.  I can’t even fix my hair without her trying to come up with something rude and sarcastic to say.  Arghh I’m a little worn out with the grinning and bearing it.  She really isn’t the only one.  Overall the group is young.  Like 13-14 year old young.  Like 13-14 year old obnoxious and annoying young.  At the beginning of the week they were 13-14 year old fun and vivacious.  You can tell it’s the end of the week.  Ah glorious trips and glorious trips home.
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