I was blessed this year, very blessed, to be able to travel with all of the kids…Nicholas accompanied me on my business trip to Texas (blogged here: http://rachelvanoven.com/blog/texas/) and Josie was a flower girl in a San Diego wedding that we roadtripped after all the way up to Portland!
Brynn needed her own time…probably more than the other two, it’s been a rough year for my oldest child—bully problems, self-esteem problems,and growing up to fast problems. A trip to Chicago during this magic time of year was in order 🙂
Oh, did I mention that the train left the station at 6:15 AM….gag!
We had just over 24 hours in the windy city, so we hit the ground running…after a quick cab ride to our hotel – the Sofitel – Brynn changed into her matching Christmas dress (whoo hoo, the same one from last year! Saved this mama some money!) and we walked less than a block to the American Girl Store for an early lunch!
It was heaven…Brynn had saved up all of her birthday money that she had received and she had no problem spending every last penny in that Heaven-for-little-girls store! No rest afterwards for us, as soon as we dropped our packages off and made another outfit change, it was another cab all the way to the Shedd aquarium! I had to make it semi-educational since we *were* playing hooky from school for two days 🙂
*she was teaching the dolphins to do tricks in this one 😉
Next stop…Millennium Park! My favorite place in the city!
Last year when we went to Chicago, Brynn begged and begged to go ice skating. I said no, and all year whenever I thought about it, I felt bad. These trips are kind of my version of “yes” days…it’s so nice for the kids to be an only child for a bit, and call the shots, so I mentally prepared myself for her to ask again. Fact: Rachel is NOT athletic. At all. I enjoy working out (i.e. running and yoga) but when it comes to coordination and sporty things, I fail miserably! I was TERRIFIED to ice skate! With a 9 year old who is equally sports-gene-deprived as I am, with a hundred people around us after 4 hours of sleep and being on my feet all day! But, I figured the worst that could happen would be that I would fall…which isn’t a new concept for me, I don’t need ice skates to bust my hiney, or to embarrass me in front of strangers…so Brynn and I rented some skates and wobbled out to the rink!
There was a lot of this:
and even more of this:
But then *this* happened. And my heart was so happy!!! And the funniest part was as soon as we were on the ice, I started skating without thinking because I was so concerned with making sure Brynn didn’t fall! And guess what? We weren’t the worst skaters out there! There were teenagers falling all over the place and gripping the railing! SO many nice people boosted Brynn’s confidence by saying encouraging words to her. My mama heart was soaring.
And I LOVE that my mom caught these next two pictures. I’m a sucker for helping people get pictures together. Pretty much anytime I see a couple taking individual pictures of each other, I offer to take one of the two of them 😉
Much better 🙂
Feeling like champs, we headed off to the Walnut Room (located in Macy’s) for some crazy Christmas magic! It’s one of my favorite things about this trip <3
A sugarplum fairy walks around granting wishes and sprinkling fairy dust. Yeah. Told you it was magical!
And conveniently located just outside of the Walnut Room are the gorgeous (and magical–sick of that word yet??) Christmas display windows!
AND at the end of the windows?? The Chicago sign. You are welcome for showing you how to have an amazing whirlwind day in Chi-town 😉
Bonus points if you can make your parents smooch in front of it! I love them 🙂
And the last bit of our day? Hot chocolate from the Godiva store on the way back to the hotel. Perfection.