Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend: Jazz and Hammers and Amtrak Trains

We spent the bulk of Labor Day weekend at one of our annual favorites, The Chicago Jazz Fest.   Friday, we got there in the evening, just in time to catch Jeff Parker on the main stage.   We'd seen him last weekend as an audience member at The Hideout.

He took his daughter, Ruby, to The All Girl Band shows and bought her the book, "The Girls' Guide To Rocking". 


If she wants to rock the Jazz world, she'll have the connections.   Friday, Jeff broke out a song he wrote just for her, that I believe he called, "Time Moves Fast For Ruby".

We enjoyed 4 days of family time with the grandparents, in from Cincinnati.   Sunday, they boarded the Amtrak, Empire Builder, for Glacier National Park and then Portland, to see their younger daughter.   It's a long, but scenic, journey that they first made last fall, and enjoyed so much, they decided to do it again.  In two weeks, they'll take the train back through Chicago and drive our kids back to Ohio, for the beginning of the kids' fall break.

The train station got a bit surreal when we were about to board the escalator to the food court, to get my parents fed before departure.   An obese woman with a cane tripped in front of us, and fell, ending up wedged upside down on the escalator screaming for help.   Her family member, who had a toddler on a leash, seemed incapable of doing anything, so Dug took the leash-boy and held him while someone shut the power off.  

It ultimately took a fleet of security guards and a call to paramedics to get the enormous woman righted again.   Once Dug was able to pass the leash-boy back to Mama, we had to detour down the hall and find an alternate route upstairs via elevator.  Always excitement in the big city.

Saturday, the kids loved The Home Depot Kids Workshop.   We already have the next one on the calendar for October 3rd.   It was quite impressive for a freebie.   The kids each made a wooden bean bag toss game, with 2 beanbags and were also given an orange apron, a certificate and a nice metal enamel collector pin, featuring the project they made.


We decided to play tourists in our home town and go to The Rain forest Cafe.   None of us had ever been there and the kids thoroughly enjoyed the kitschy animatronic jungle beasties, simulated storms, and shooting stars in the night sky.

The hot fudge volcano dessert, erupting with a sparkler, that was big enough to feed all 6 of us, was a tasty climax.  

Then we went back to the fest for a Jazz filled afternoon and evening.

My parents had never been to Jazz Fest and enjoyed the music and entertaining antics of the grand kids.   Their glow stick and glow in the dark poi ball routine earned us an invite to hang with the fire jugglers at a giant drum circle in October.

We had a tasty chicken dinner and lots of good snacks on the handy rolling table-in-a-bag.   The plethora of goose poop made me xtra happy to have a table for the first time this year!   It was also the perfect size for some ruthless giant checkers matches.

We ran into kid friends Gabe and Evan, to play Frisbee and football with.   And we saw kid friends Ben and Otis, who also had their visiting Grandma in tow.  

We enjoyed the craft fair and frequented the Asian booth selling brightly colored wooden frogs that croak when stroked and dragons.   By the 3rd day, we were joking with the proprietors that we couldn't stay away.   The kids bought journals with silver embossed animals, 3 hair sticks and dragon pencils.   We got the inside scoop, too, about how the dragons are reincarnated from glue and the sawdust left from hollowing out and carving the frogs.   Yay for recycling!

The kids wandered the craft area happily sketching whatever caught their eye.  My favorite quote was from a guy working one of the booths.  When Sage explained that she was drawing everything, he said, "That's cool.  You can draw me.  Just DON'T MAKE ME LOOK LIKE A FROG!   I mean, no offense to frogs or anything.   I just don't wanna look like one."

The music was world class, the weather was warm and nice, and the vibe was relaxed and never too crowded.   So again, we say a sad goodbye to Jazz Fest, till next year.

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