The 10-Year-Old Trip to Chicago: Part Two

When our children turn ten, we treat them to a 10-year-old trip. To catch up on the full story with Anna-Laura, read parts one and three.

Yesterday we shopped until we dropped, ate chocolate, drank tea, prayed for your intentions and loved on the homeless. I’m not really sure how we could top a day like that, but I think we did.

First up, breakfast. We walked the quick three blocks to Stan’s Donuts. It was recommended by a good friend who knows her sweets and it did not disappoint. Almost better than the donuts was the hot caramel apple cider. It blew Starbucks out of the water.


The day was so nice – even if it was a teeny bit chilly – we decided to hoof it to the Art Institute of Chicago. What a gorgeous walk.chicago_4361

We managed to walk in the art institute a few minutes after they opened, cashed in our City Pass, dropped our bags and basked in the glory of all that beautiful art. We beelined straight for the Impressionist wing. Outside of Paris, it’s the largest collection in the world.





I may, or may not, have teared up.

As part of our City Pass, we had the audio tour. Normally, I’m not a huge fan of those things, but here, I highly recommend it. Art is meant to be appreciated. The background and narrative the tour provided really made our experience that much better. After we overdosed on Renoir, Monet, Manet, Suerat and Van Gogh, we checked out the miniature rooms. What talent!


Then, it was time to enjoy Chagall’s American Windows, a little American Gothic, Nighthawks and religious art by El Greco.





We checked our watches and realized we barely had time to grab lunch before our architectural tour! But, with all that art beauty, it was easy to lose track of time. Anna-Laura was so cute, giving me the three-digit codes for the audio tour. We both were in our element. It was a very sweet morning with her. I could tell she was fading. Lunch recharged us both and we did some mighty fast walking to the Chicago Riverwalk.


We barely made it and I sent her running to the boat to tell them to wait for us. Good thing we bought our tickets in advance! We froze our hineys off on the tour! Totally worth it, though. We did the Chicago Architecture Foundation tour and there’s a reason they call it the best. For an hour and a half, our docent shared great bits and funny stories about the Chicago skyline with us. I still can’t believe she remembered all that information. There was only a 20-minute stretch where Anna-Laura and I retreated to the heated room below deck. Boy, did we need that.chicago_4436




Just as we came back on deck, I pulled up my phone to text the Sisters to tell them we would be on our way.

And then my phone died. The extra charger I brought along would’ve been great IF I had remembered to also pack the cord. Details. So, I took tons of photos and just leaned into what the rest of the night had in store. What are you gonna do?


On our way back, we ran into a film crew for Chicago PD. We waved, they waved and the cameras kept rolling. Who knows, maybe you’ll be watching a future episode and you’ll see some crazy tourists taking photos.


We hiked it, quickly, back to our hotel. Well, that was the plan and then Dylan’s Candy Bar happened. When the birthday girl asks to stop, you humor her. And tell her to buy you something sweet.


Okay, now we hoofed it back to the hotel and the land of heaters, plugged in my phone, called the Sisters and paged Über! Our driver was a former military man, turned Chicago PD Sergeant. He was a trip. No pun intended. We arrived safe and sound at the convent and those Sister hugs could not be beat. It was a TOTAL joy to see their faces. Three of them were former Texas residents, serving and teaching in our schools. To reunite with them was a special treat. After chatting and taking photos, we spent the final half hour praying Vespers with them, easily the most peaceful part of our trip. Your intentions were at the forefront of my mind and that time with God was precious. Who knows, maybe someday Anna-Laura will call them Sisters.



She and I were famished, cold and tired, so we decided a little deep dish pizza from Gino’s East was just what the Windy City ordered. She had a root beer, I enjoyed a Sophie Goose Island Beer (heaven!) and we feasted on amazing pizza. Then, we rolled ourselves back to the hotel, binge watched more HGTV and finished off the Garrett’s popcorn.

Pretty much the most perfect day.

Next time, we fly high, overcome a fear, see the world’s coolest mirror, almost throw down with the the airline staff and get the most unexpected end to our trip. Ever.


  1. Beth (A Mom's Life) on November 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Such a fun trip for you and your daughter!!

  2. Holly on November 9, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I am LOVING this and you’re making me so happy that I have a daughter to enjoy these types of things with!

  3. Ann-Marie on November 11, 2015 at 7:16 am

    I admire that your daughter can appreciate art and architecture.

    By the way- I opened up an email from A&M Celebrate Heritage Membership and saw a lovely picture of your beautiful family front and center 🙂 I was like, wait! I know them!

  4. […] When our children turn ten, we treat them to a 10-year-old trip. To catch up on the full story with Anna-Laura, read parts one and two. […]

  5. liz on November 30, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    speaking of sisters and your daughter….there’s a religious sister i know named Sr. Anna Laura! 🙂

  6. […] dive into the awesomeness. You can also read parts two and […]

  7. […] We’ve seen Chartres, France, but boy does this one mark Toledo on the gothic church map. Originally built in the 1200s on the site of a former mosque, this cathedral not only houses amazing altars and frescoes, but it’s like a mini-art museum with original pieces by El Greco, Bellini, Goya and Raphael. What the what?! Turns out El Greco lived in Toledo and became good friends with the dean of the cathedral who commissioned him to paint several pieces. I can’t even. Ask Scott, I teared up more than once here. I first learned about the awesomeness of El Greco here. […]

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