Todd and I returned home this morning from our final vacation of the year, or our first of the year depending on how you look at it. Getting home was more of an ordeal than we expected but all that matters is that we made it and it feels good to be home.
We were both cranky when we finally got home, after about a half hour of grumbling and bad moods we decided to hug it out, hit the reset button and get on with our day. I think it was just a mixture of sleep deprivation and exhaustion from too much time out in the world without any quiet. After we calmed down a bit and started some laundry we both went to separate corners of the house to recharge. A few hours later I went into the kitchen for a glass of water and to get some hugs and found Todd sleeping with Lucy on the love seat in the sun room, I decided my hugs could wait. Todd never takes naps so I know he must be worn out.
Chicago was amazing and completely draining. I forgot that my brother-in-law, who recently moved back into my in-laws house after finishing nursing school, has a cat. I am very allergic to cats. I can handle outdoor cats fine, I can even pet a cat from time to time so long as I immediately wash my hands after and do not allow it to rub all over my clothes.. But living with a cat does not work. We arrived at Todd’s parent’s house and within a half hour I was coughing uncontrollably and gasping for air. I took some Benadryl and we left for a while to give the medicine time to work, that night when we got back I had another wheezing attack which we combated with more Benadryl. So the first day and a half consisted if me being awake long enough to start wheezing, take more Benadryl and then promptly pass out again until the Benadryl wore off. Finally on day two and a half (Christmas Eve) we figured out which non-drowsy antihistamine worked to relieve my symptoms, we had to try a few different options until discovering Allegra was the winner, good to know for the future. The rest of the trip was better, I still had some allergy symptoms, itchy eyes, runny nose etc, but I was able to breathe. The next step would have been going to an urgent care clinic and probably having to get injections or an inhaler but that really wasn’t how we wanted to spend Christmas so I am glad it worked out.Christmas and Christmas Eve were spent with family. On Christmas Eve we stayed up until 4 am playing games, that is 5am Florida time. Needless to say we were pretty worn out by night fall on Christmas.
My allergy issues gave way to some fun excursions out of the house as a way to give my system a reprieve and allow me to breathe poison-free air for a while. We went to two different state parks that were just a few miles from the house. One we had been to before, Starved Rock. The last time Todd took me to Starved Rock it had been snowing so it was quite cold and the ground was covered in snow and in addition most of the creeks and water falls were frozen. This time it was a mild 50 degrees outside so the whole area seemed much more alive. We saw deer and green trees and the water fall was active. It was neat to see everything from this new perspective. A few days later we went to Matthiessen State Park which is just a few mile s further down the road.’
Two days after Christmas Todd’s mother held a post-wedding reception for us as a way to visit with everyone from IL that was unable to attend the wedding. I met a lot of new family and even a few friends of his from college I had not met yet. His friend suggested Matthiessen to us during the reception, he said it was one of the best nature trails to hike in the area. He was not lying! The scenery first of all was breath taking. We hiked through the dells which just means we were hiking through a big canyon following a creek. It was really magnificent. The creek was frozen in most places and at this particular state park there were no man made hiking trails so we were pretty much on our own in untouched nature, I loved that aspect of it. Although, at times it was a little intimidating. We had to cross the creek a few times to get to the waterfalls and caves at the end and since there were no man made bridges etc this left us hopping on rocks and shimming across downed logs. This could have ended badly for me given my clumsy nature, plus I have a history of ending up in the drink. Miraculously though I succeeded in making it through the day without falling into ice water.
The two days spent out in the woods and nature were the highlight of the trip for me. One, because I could breathe deeply without coughing up a lung and two, because it was just Todd and I in the peace and quiet of the forest. That part was so nice. I guess these parks are not heavily attended in the winter months so more often than not it was just the two of us with no sign of civilization for miles, I really appreciated and enjoyed that. We wander through caves and sat on rocks watching the sun create rainbows in waterfalls.. We watched water drip from icles and threw rocks at the icy parts of the creek to see if the ice would crack, it never did. I felt like a little kid on an adventure with my best friend. Do you remember how fun it was when we were kids building forts out of nothing and playing outside until the sun went down, it was like that. Sometimes we would walk together in silence just taking it all in only breaking the silence long enough to point out some interesting detail so the other one wouldn’t miss out. It was some of the best days I have ever spent with him in IL.
We also made it into the city for a date night. He took me to the Anthropologie in the city, I love going to Anthros in other cities to see how they are decorated on the inside and what kind of window display they have. Anthropologie is known for its artistic displays. The one we went to in the city had a lovely window display, a tree covered in blue jays. This is one store he does not hate to walk around in with me because it is chocked full of so many interesting things. So after spending sometime there we visited a highly recommended book store, which we ended up spending close to two hours in. The bookstore was a good one, I think we purchased 3 or 4 books, I cannot even remember. What is nice about these independent bookstore is the staff is typically well read and well informed and can give insight into which books are worth reading and which are less so. At this particular store I discovered an author who seems to be in line with me on a few topics regarding the media and creating a sense of community based on things other than theism. I don’t have time for new books right now so I held off but I am hoping by the summer I will be ready for something new.
After the bookstore and the bean we went to dinner at Sepia near Union Station. It was definitely on par with the restaurants from our honeymoon.
I am glad to be home, I am thankful for the quiet and the clean air free of poison cat toxins. We are glad to be back in the house with Lucy, we started to miss her a week in. The twins have been home with my brother and sister-in-law since a few days before Christmas so we have new babies to hold and love on. It is a new year and it is starting off wonderfully. I am not sure how we could top last year but I am excited for what the year may hold for us.