Linda and Trevor flew home yesterday evening. We received word from them this morning that they arrived safe and sound, despite a flaming car on the interstate as they drove south to O'Hare!

Our Fourth of July weekend was really quite pleasant. On Saturday afternoon we walked down to the lakefront, where the annual throngs had set up camp in anticipation of the fireworks. Throngs of mayflies were also out in force, so thick as to form dark clouds of bugs about 15 feet above the ground. Stragglers formed breakaway swarms right about eye level. Yuck.

When darkness fell we headed back to our place to get ready for the fireworks. I threw a batch of brownies together because the line for funnel cakes was unthinkably long and my sweet to the needed appeasing. The brownies were ready to eat just after the fireworks finale. This was the first year that neither Juliette nor Ilsa covered her ears during the display. They're turning into very awesome little kids, leaving behind some of the toddler-era fears that took fireworks and movies and parades off the table.

Speaking of parades, we walked to Armitage just after noon on Sunday and settled in to wait for the parade to begin at two o'clock. We had chairs, snacks, blankets, and books, which made waiting along the parade route much nicer. We had streetside seats! All very cool. Armitage was selling hot dog lunches as a fundraiser, as well as ice cream and balloon animals. I'm very proud of Juliette because when the tail of her alligator popped, she held it together. After a brief bout of crying, she decided he looked more like a frog and named him Mr. Hops. Flexible brain in action!

The parade lasted for an hour and 45 minutes, which was nearly too long. The temperatures edged over 90F with heavy humidity here by the lake. All of the color guard and band members looked entirely wilted. What confused me was how many Canadian bands had spots in the parade. Do they leave their homes after Canada Day and head south on tour of various little towns in the Midwest? Considering that this was a Fourth of July parade, it was actually quite multicultural. We saw flags from Canada, Norway, Germany, Mexico, and Scotland. I do wonder, however, if people would be so accepting of a Union Jack flying above a pro-English society float!

Monday we woke up bright and early to head down to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I hadn't been since I was 13 or 14, so it was very new to all of us. The captured U-505 German U-boat was certainly the highlight for me, which only reveals me as a history girl, not a science girl. Me! I touched a U-boat! Juliette is getting to the point where she can piece together a vague chronology of history. She made an active attempt to understand which countries constituted the Axis and the Allies. I cannot wait until she's a little bit older and discussing history becomes more of a two-way street. I think she absorbs it all just like storytelling.

We didn't go in the U-boat because our day was already too full to buy extra exhibit tickets. Instead, because we bought a membership for the year, we were able to watch an IMAX movie for free. The movie, however, was rather disappointing. Called "Legends of Flight," it may has well have been titled "Commercial for Boeing." I was expecting a retrospective of light technology, not an extended promotion for the new Boeing 787.

I think the day wore on everyone. Juliette was much less flexible in her thinking, and even started to cry when she realized that Linda and Trevor would be returning to England the next day. She insisted on sitting between the two of them during the movie. Ilsa was much more free with her affections during the last few days than she had been initially. Rather than clinging to me like melted Velcro, she held hands with Trevor and didn't need to sit by me when we ate. She may come across as a little firefly without cares, but new situations and people do bring out her mommy-clingy side.

All in all, this was a lovely visit dominated by museums, hot weather, examples of patriotic tradition, Wii, and the World Cup. I believe we will be flying to England next year to try our hand at camping during an English summer! Until then, it's just nice to be back in my own bed.

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