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Smelly Socks: Motorcycles, museums and downtown, oh my!

By By Anita Spisak
Sept. 19, 2013 at 4:19 a.m.

Adam, Charlie, Jack and Landin at the Harley-Davidson Museum.

Entertaining boys is not as easy as one might think. Entertaining them in the summer when there's no school is even harder. With both Adam and Charlie being home for the entire summer, it was up to me to come up with some fun things to do with the boys.

So despite the fact that I am a girl and fun for me consists of shopping, reading and getting pedicures, I had to make some concessions to my summer for that of the interests of two little boys and the things that they like to do.

Given the fact that they're almost 7 and 4, I tried to keep the outings short and light. Their attention span probably wouldn't go past four hours in a museum of any kind anyway.

Our first big boy trip was to the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, Wis. Since I didn't think I could handle all the excitement of the boys seeing those motorcycles first hand and up-close on my own, I enlisted the help of my friend, Amanda, who also has two boys Adam and Charlie's ages.

We made the 45-minute trek up to Milwaukee, and once inside the museum, the boys oohed and aahed over all the motorcycles, took pictures sitting on some vintage ones and played some interactive motorcycle video games.

Meanwhile, Amanda and I pretty much just took pictures, sighed a lot and counted down the minutes until we would get to the gift shop and restaurant. And then once everyone's tummies were full, they promptly fell to sleep before we even left the parking lot.

The second big place that I knew would be a big hit was downtown Chicago. Who doesn't like Chicago in the summer? We actually ended up making a few trips there this summer, and the boys loved every minute of it.

From the expressway with its big trucks, tall buildings that can be seen even on cloudy days, the constant hum of traffic and general busyness, the city is always "on," and it makes me and Joe happy to show them the city that we know and love.

The first visit downtown was to the Sears tower (I know it's Willis Tower, but to me, it will always be Sears), and the boys got to experience their first three-hour wait just to get to the top. And after about five minutes at the top, they had seen enough and wanted to go back down.

After marveling at the views from so high, we did walk around the city, had lunch at the historic Berghoff, walked down to Lake Michigan and saw Buckingham fountain. They had a great time and again promptly fell to sleep before we even left the parking garage.

Our next big trip downtown was to the Shedd Aquarium, again in downtown Chicago, which was a lot of fun (for boys as well as girls), as we all got a chance to pet the stingrays and see the jellyfish exhibit.

We trekked there on one of the hottest days in Chicago, thankful that the inside was air conditioned. We saw baby beluga whales, sharks and river monster fish from the Amazon. And, of course, our museum trip would not have been complete had we not stopped at the gift shop.

Lastly, one of the things we like to do during the summer is go up to Northern Wisconsin, but we can only go up there so many times because it is a six-hour drive to get there. This summer, we had our friends, Kris and Kasia, staying with us for a few days.

The big thing we did with them was go hiking in the Porcupine Mountains of the upper peninsula of Michigan. Charlie, the usually cranky and complaining child that he is, was a real trooper. He hiked almost 5 miles up and down a path and did not complain once, eating thimbleberries along the way and having "Mr. Kris" carry him on his shoulders a few times. Even the girls had a good time on that trip.

Oh, did I get my pedicure, you ask? Did I get to go shopping? No, but that's OK; there will be plenty of time for that once they are in school full time. For now, I was just letting the boys enjoy their summer.

Anita lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two boys and two dogs, one of which is a girl. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at smellysocks@vicad.com.

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