Sunday, September 27, 2009

The End of an Era

Cheddars is scheduled to close today and then reopen sometime soon as a new, non-franchise restaurant. I don't remember exactly when Cheddars opened, but I can remember going there often in high school, so at least 20 years ago. The restaurant was rebuilt following a major fire and kept drawing crowds. I fell in and out of love with their food over the years, but one thing remained constant- the Cookie Monster. The fresh, warm, giant chocolate chip cookie smothered in ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry on top. I hope the new, non-franchise place will keep the Cookie Monster on their menu!

But just in case... Gene and I took the kids for one last Cheddars meal. The two of us shared a mushroom swiss burger and then all four of us shared a Double Cookie Monster. It was huge and we managed to finish every bite. The Final Cheddars Experience would have been much more enjoyable had we not had about 100 fruit flies hovering over our table, but the food was good anyway. Goodbye Cheddars, I'll miss you!

Following Cheddars, we all headed to Glen Oak Park for Return to Hogwarts. I've been wanting to go for years, but have never made it. I figured the kids were old enough despite the fact they've never read the Harry Potter books or even seen the movies. It. Was. Cool. And the guy selling tickets recognized me as a Park District employee so we all got in free :) Anyway, we went for an elevator ride through the Ministry of Magic, attended a Wizengamot session with Amycus Carrow on trial, were sorted into Hogwarts houses, toured Azkaban prison where Dementors put their scaly fingers on my neck, watched potions demonstrations and had an astronomy lesson where the kids made constellation hats. There was tons of activity, with actors dressed as HP characters mingling around the crowds. They did some dueling demonstrations. There were tents with owls and snakes. The library had a tent where you could take your O.W.L.s or N.E.W.T.s and they scored them. I would have liked to do that but thought the kids were a bit young. There were several merchant tents selling food, wands, candy, etc. There was even one that sold purple pygmy puffs.

We stayed about 2 1/2 hours and had a great time. My favorite part was the sorting. You actually sat on a stool with the hat on and the hat talked to you. Gene and I were both sorted into Slytherin, Logan into Gryffindor and Kaylin into Hufflepuff. Great fun! The kids loved the potions demonstrations. Several chemistry teachers/professors were doing all kinds of cool experiments. Kaylin got to whack a leaf that been dipped into liquid nitrogen on the table and shatter it into a million pieces. It was awesome. We didn't stay for the movie, but I'd like to do that when the kids are a little older. Overall, it was an amazing event. I think any kid would have fun as well as any Harry Potter fan with or without kids.

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