Band Kids Are Great!

I want to thank Dorsett for her recent donation to our class fund!  We appreciate your support.  I think our reunion will be outstanding because of all your folks who are contributing in so many ways!  It takes everyone to make it happen.  Thanks, Dorsett!  Dorsett also sent some pictures.  I am trying to get them on the blog, but I am having some trouble converting them over to my photo software without blurring them.

On a different “note,” I was never in band in high school and I think I missed out on something!  Now I am living vicariously through my son’s involvement in band.  We just returned from our band trip to Chicago yesterday.  We were there Thursday through Saturday.  We left for home early yesterday morning (REAL early, considering the change to daylight savings time.) We had a great time and I found out this old lady can still keep up (for the most part!) with a bunch of teenagers.  Of course, as soon as my head hit the pillow at night, I was out.

Thursday was travel and band time.  We arrived at DePaul University around 3:00 and the kids set up for a jazz clinic.  One of the music professors at DePaul listened to them play and gave them critiques.  It was interesting.  We headed to Gino’s East for supper/pizza.

 Tom, Ben C, Cameron,Mike, Rob, Ben J

After eating, we returned to DePaul and listened to a symphony concert.  We were all so tired from being on the bus all day, the kids and I almost fell asleep!  Fortunately, I had a very energetic, funny boy in my group that kept me entertained!  (All of the guys in my group were great!) We checked into the hotel around10:30 pm.  It was a long day.

I had eight boys to chaperone as did Nancy, another mom and a friend of mine.  Our groups were all friends, so that made it all the better.  We hung out together most of the time.  Friday morning, we got on our bus and headed to the Museum of Science and Industry.  I always enjoyed the museum when we lived in the Chicago area, but this time several of the “fun” exhibits were closed, so it was a little disappointing.  I suppose part of that was because this is the “off” season and a good time for them to renovate.  After the museum, we went to Michigan Avenue, shopping.  I had told the boys beforehand all about these fun stores we could go to, but when we got there, we discovered that the Sony Store and Virgin Music were no longer there!  Also, Niketown, which used to have all kinds of sports paraphernalia, had taken all that cool stuff down, so now it’s just a boring sports clothes store.  We were very disappointed.

  Chillin' at Eddie Bauer store

We ate lunch on top of Chicago Place at the food court.  The guys liked that and they also experienced an encounter with a panhandler.  On the bus, the tour guide (Pat from Lincoln. She takes band kids to Chicago all the time and is familiar with the city) warned the kids about people approaching them and asking for money.  It was a good thing to tell them, but I think she went a little overboard.  Nancy and I were sitting at a separate table from the boys.  The panhandler came up to us first and we sent him on his way.  I thought about going over and warning the boys, but we decided just to wait and see how they handled it.  We would intervene if necessary.  The boys did just great.  We had a little “debriefing” later about the incident.  I think a couple boys were kind of scared, but they did real well.

We decided to keep walking down Michigan Avenue to the Chicago River.  Along the way, I noticed what looked like the Nordstroms store was really an indoor mall, so I kept that in mind for our walk back up Michigan Avenue.  When we got to the river, we took a bunch of pictures.   Chicago River bridge

Pat had told all of the kids earlier about the relics on the Chicago Tribune building.  She said one was from Nebraska.  So, while we were by the river, we crossed the street and checked out the building.  The boys had fun seeing what all was there.  Stones from Fort Sumtner, the Great Wall of China, Antarctica, etc.  Then they found the Nebraska relic and everyone’s cameras came out!  

Checking out the relics at the Chicago Trib bldg Rob found the Nebraska relic

One of the boys had guessed it would be from Chimney Rock so everyone was excited to find out he was right.  (He had just helped Burke win the Academic Decathlon a couple weeks ago, so they figured it was a “given” he would know!)  A few other states had relics, too, but most of the pieces were from very famous places, so it was cool that one was from Nebraska.

On our way back, I suggested we stop at the Nordstroms building.  Some of the boys were reluctant. “Isn’t that a women’s store?”  I pointed out the little signs that read “Chicago Store,” “Sporting Store” and “Lego Store,” so they thought it would OK to go in.  They had a great time there, especially at the Lego store.  It was cool to see all the things made of Lego’s.  (Don’t tell Dennis, but I met a man there.  One of the boys took our picture!)

Lego man and Mrs

We met all the other kids at the John Hancock Tower at 4:30 and went up to the observation deck.  The day was kind of dreary so the view was overcast.  It was still impressive, especially for those who had never been up there before. We had the “mandatory” photograph taken by the people there.  scan0003

We had dinner at ESPN Zone which has lots of sports video games and average food.  The kids were pretty tired, so not many of them played games. The Zone also has sports memorabilia like Super Bowl rings and Wrigley Stadium made out of gum wrappers.  After eating, we headed to the Oriental Theater to see the play “Wicked.”

Headed to Oriental Theater to see Wicked The musical was fantastic!  Even the boys liked it.  It takes place before Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz.  It’s the story of how the Wicked Witch of the West became the wicked witch.  It’s all about PR!  It was funny and colorful with wonderful effects.  If you have the opportunity, I would highly recommend seeing it.

Saturday we spent the morning at the Shedd Aquarium.  Then we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.  What a blast!  They have all kinds of music memorabilia on display.  One of Jimi Hendrick’s guitars is there, Little Richard’s capes, instruments from many rock bands.  The highlight was when one of the waiters took two of our boys and two of our girls along with the band director, got them up on the bar and had them dance to YMCA.  The kids put their cameras on “video” then! It was a fun lunch.

After lunch we stopped briefly at the new Millennium Park, then off to Navy Pier for the rest of the day.  It was pretty chilly the entire trip, so we stayed indoors as much as we could.  A couple kids actually braved the weather and took a ride on the big ferris wheel.  I told the kids that it doesn’t go very fast.  In fact, it runs constantly, so you get on the ferris wheel while it’s moving.  It is for observation and seeing the sights, not a thrill ride.  So, one shouldn’t except thrills.  They did expect chills, though.  It was pretty cold up there. It was too cold for me to go with them or even to take a picture!

That evening was the highlight of the entire trip for me!  We saw Blue Man Group. What a blast!  I had so much fun.  I laughed so hard, I cried and my belly hurt.  The Blue Man even chose one of the students from our group to go up on stage with them and they did this bit with Twinkies that was just hilarious!  Paige, the student, is kind of a serious kid, plus she doesn’t like Twinkies, so that made it even funnier.  She was a good sport, though, and joined in, following their cues, turning her head when the Blue Man Group did, etc. 

Blue Man is going to be in Omaha March 30 and I am interested in how they do their tour performances because the theater in Chicago is unique, specifically for them.  It has PVC tubing all over the ceiling and walls and it’s part of the act.  I am trying to convince our son, Joe, to take his dad to Blue Man here for his birthday.  (Since Mike and I just saw it in Chicago, we thought it would make more sense for Joe and Dennis to go.)

Blue Man Group theater (Briar Street Theater)

Since I was the “nurse” on the trip, I had to deal with a few incidents.  One boy cut his finger.  I had a couple boys get dizzy and complain of headache.  I told them to sleep in bed, not the floor!  I made their roommates give up a bed for the night.  (The boys refused to sleep in the same bed, so it was a pecking order thing and the underclassmen slept on the floor!  I told them they need to switch off so I don’t have 1/2 the boys exhausted.)  One of the girls hyperventilated in the Blue Man theater because she has claustraphobia and said she couldn’t breathe.  Another girl had an asthma attack.  Nancy, who is also a nurse, usually was with me.  I teased her that no one seemed to call her, just me!  She recommended I not let anyone know I’m a nurse on the next trip!

We were tired on the way home yesterday, but happy.  My knees held out just fine. The kids were great.  It rejuvenated me just being around them.  They were funny and witty.  They were considerate and helpful.  By the end of the trip, a couple of the boys were calling me “Mommy Bristol.”  We had such a great time.  I want to do it again! 

Oh, and I did get to see Dave and Carlota briefly while we were there.  They came to the hotel Thursday night for a quick visit, then they met us at Navy Pier Saturday afternoon.  Yesterday they stopped by the hotel before we took off and gave us some special tortillas and cheese to take back with us.  Our hotel was in Lombard, one of the suburbs near Carol Stream, so it was close by.  When Dave and Carlota saw our itinerary, they said they wanted to keep a copy so they could go do all those things!  It’s funny, how when you live in a place, you don’t always make a point to see things there.  You get all involved in the day-to-day stuff that the fun stuff slips by sometimes.  Dave and Carlota were just in Rome, but they think their next vacation will be doing the stuff on our itinerary!  I guess there’s “No place like home” afterall!



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