Summer Weekends Away- Chicago

I love when I can get away from home and travel and see friends and family. I have been very blessed these last couple summers to be able to do just that. This summer I went to Nashville (such a fun town), went home to see my parents in St. Charles, and I got to go to the lake and Kansas City with my best girl friends. This blog post is all about my travels, fun places and spaces and pictures I took while on the trips.

I talked in depth about my trip to Nashville in another post, so if you’re interested in reading more, click right here- There and back in 2 days: Nashville/ Springfield Chronicles!

St. Charles to see the parents!!!

(Picture from Pinterest- above)
So, first off I was super excited that I could travel home this summer, not only because I love seeing my parents, but also because I was going to be able to see my mom perform and for the first time I could go to the Geneva Arts Festival. Originally I was only going to be able to be in St. Charles for 2 days, heading out on Friday and returning to Springfield on Monday, but I really wanted to be there for another day. I was able to rearrange my lessons so that I could head out on Thursday instead of Friday, which was perfect for surprising my mom and meeting a new blogger friend in person. With my plans changing a week before leaving, I made sure my dad knew that I would be surprising mom on Thursday afternoon/ evening and then heading to work with her in Chicago the following day, and meeting my blogger friend while downtown. It worked out so well! Well, other than my mom jumping and thinking I was a kidnapper, or murderer, coming in to the house to get her. Yep… it was truly, hilarious. I’ll explain.

So I left Springfield and drove the 9 hours to St. Charles, and made really good time. I was about a block away from the house, when my Dad text me and let me know that he was going to start mowing the lawn, and that mom should be in the kitchen putting groceries away. He told me to go through the garage door into the kitchen to surprise her. As I turned into the neighborhood, I got another text from my dad telling me mom had decided to come outside and was in the front yard, watering plants and cleaning off the porch. I immediately turned into the first street and waited till I got the okay from my dad. I probably waited for about 10 min outside of a house down the street and finally got the text from my dad saying “coast is clear.” I decided that I would drive past the house to make sure it was really clear and then turn around and park in front of the neighbors house. Dad waved to me as I walked onto the driveway, my heart beating with anticipation for the moment my mom would see me… well, it wasn’t exactly how I had pictured.

So I walked in to the garage and opened the door, thinking my mom would be in the kitchen and would turn around to be completely surprised by me standing in the doorway. Well instead, I walked in and saw no one and then I heard movement on the stairs close by followed by the sound of the front door. I turned the corner to see my mom as she was coming back inside the front door, with panic on her face, as she yelled seeing a figure coming forward. In her defense, I was wearing a ball cap and the room was pretty dark. But it was hilarious!!! She then went on to explain her response saying, “she freaked out because she knew dad was on the mower and she heard the door open and thought someone decided to just come on inside since the doors were unlocked. She got out the front door really fast and then thought maybe she was just hearing something, but when I started walking towards her and speaking, she didn’t realize it was me. – she knew and thought that I was coming the next day. That was a very interesting welcome home.

Chicago for the Day!!!

It was so fun surprising her and then getting to tell her that I was coming to work with her the next day. I had been planning on coming to Chicago for about a month before and had gotten to know some really amazing women through blogging and one of them just happened to live in downtown Chicago. I wanted so badly to meet her in person and reached out the week before to see if we could make it happen. This blogger friend is really special… She is a teacher like me, blonde like me and the most encouraging fun-loving person. I could tell right away when we met online through Instagram that we were going to have a really great friendship. She messaged back and we discussed some options. Luckily Stephanie lived pretty close to my mom’s work, so she was able to walk over… Thank goodness, because even though I have been downtown many times, I get myself turned around pretty easily.

It was such a surreal moment, seeing Stephanie walk off the elevator toward me- Here was this girl that I only knew through IG and through her blog, looking at me and smiling back- it was as if we already knew each other. Stephanie and I both mentioned how crazy it was that we felt as if we had known each other for years and never thought that we could become such close friends through an online community. The funny thing was I had met people before who had become best friends with others they had met gaming or online and I thought they were crazy… How could you really know someone in that way, with only being friends online or in a gaming situation? Well, now I completely understand. I have been so blessed over the last couple months to get to know Stephanie through her blog, Instagram, and our many messages to each other over our stories. She is so encouraging and uplifting and I have loved getting to know more about her, her husband and family. We had an amazing time together in Chicago walking through the city, grabbing coffee and then eating breakfast.  It was like we had known each other for years. We also got to leave a randomloveletter on one of the menus together and signed our names… I will forever cherish these memories! So excited for our friendship to grow even more. If you don’t know Stephanie, you are missing out… make sure you check her out on instagram @stephanie_eiller and her blog

After breakfast, Stephanie helped me find my way back to my mom’s work (remember I am horrible with directions) and then we said goodbye… well more like until next time. We have already been dreaming up more times to get together and to get our hubby’s together… there may even be a cruise in there somewhere sometime.

I was meeting mom back at her office to take a fellow secretary to lunch, seeing as it was her last day in the office. But instead pizza was delivered to the building by one of the lawyers in the firm who would be leaving soon as well. I think it worked out really well that I could be with my mom on that day, since it was a pretty hard day for her as she was realizing that work was going to be changing and she would no longer have her close friend nearby. I could tell that she was trying not to think about her friend leaving, but i knew it must have been a hard day for her. We worked side by side in her cubicle, me writing my blogs, emailing and checking fb and Instagram, and her working through her emails and filing a ton of paperwork for her attorneys. As the day came to a close, I began to see just how hard it was going to be for my mom, seeing her friend leave the company. She was really doing well holding herself together, but as we left and she gave her friend a final hug, I could tell she wanted to cry, but was trying to be strong. I kept reminding mom that while her friend, her “neighbor secretary”, would no longer be working with her, she was still going to be working downtown and they could find times to meet up for lunch and continue to invest in each others lives through fb and email. I really felt for her though…. it is tough when friends move away and you have to readjust in your workplace. As we were leaving mom’s work, it began to rain… thank goodness my mom packed two umbrellas- I would have gotten soaked!!!!

(Picture from Pinterest-above)

Mom’s Concert Day and the Geneva Arts Festival!!!

Downtown Geneva is one of my favorite places to visit and shop when I go home. There are so many amazing, cute boutiques to stop at and I get so much inspiration from seeing the displays and set ups within each of the stores. Also fun fact, Geneva, IL was named the best place to spend christmas by Ellen Degenerus! Pretty cool, huh?! 

(Picture from Pinterest-above)

Every summer the Geneva arts festival happens in this cute little town, which is only 10 minutes away from our house! I have heard so much from my parents and from my sister about this festival and about the amazing artist that come to showcase their work.

Aren’t my parents so cute??!! 

It was hot outside, so I decided to wear my hair up in a low bun and wear a cute stripped summer dress from a boutique in Springfield/Branson (Mark Ashton).

I have been to many art festivals in the past ( I am a lover of art) and while Springfield has an “Artfest” , it doesn’t even compare to the Geneva Arts Festival. Walking through the festival, I was reminded of my love of art- not just seeing it and appreciating it, but creating and painting. I used to paint and draw a lot and I actually wanted to become an art teacher. I wanted to be a crazy art teacher that kept all her students on the edge of their seats, thinking, “ What will she come up with next?” But, God had other plans! I so enjoyed walking up and down the street looking at all the amazing booths with such talented artists and different mediums… watercolors, oil paintings, acrylic paintings, pastels, sculptures, pottery, photography, 3 dimensional paintings and photography, glass sculptures, two dimensional drawings… some really large and others really small. I got my love of art from my dad! He grew up painting and drawing and loved his art classes so much and decided to become an architect. Later God gave him a new desire, but art has always been a love of his. My dad was so excited about going to this festival because one of his favorite watercolor artists was going to be there and he just had to find him. He seriously be-lined it to the artists booth. Now, my dad is like seriously the slowest walker… whenever we would go for family walks he would always walk so slow and be like 5 feet behind me and mom and on this day, walking to find his favorite artist, we couldn’t keep up! He was so funny to watch as he looked at all the watercolors hanging up and as he talked with the artist- I could tell he was really happy.

(I didn’t take many pics of the art, since I hadn’t asked the artists permission. But here are two of my favorite oils!)

If you ever visit Geneva, IL, Here are a couple stores you should check out!
Cocoon, Denise’s, The Little Traveler (Oprah’s favorite), and Grahms 318 (coffee shop/ ice cream and chocolate shop)! 

While we were in downtown Geneva, I just had to stop by one of my favorite stores, Denise’s. I was a Denises trying on some awesome clothing, I happened to mention to one of the lady’s that worked there that I had started a blog and love to write about places I’ve been and fashion. So of course, she mentioned it to Denise and I got to model some of the clothes for her Facebook page and I met her awesome daughter and got to chatting. Her daughter was outside working a booth for her company called “Yoli” – If you haven’t heard of it, I would definitely take some time to look into it. She told me so many amazing stories about people that had chronic illnesses and had to eat certain things or could no longer do things they once had due to their illnesses and/or their body aches and once they tried the product, they began to feel better. I may be writing more about “Yoli” a little later… (I may be reviewing this product myself and I will let you know what I think.) It was a fun afternoon of meeting some new people, seeing some incredible art and buying a pair of really cool jeans.

And when you’re in Chicago, you have to stop by Giordano’s for some pizza, so that’s exactly what we did. If you haven’t tried Giordano’s, you are missing out and you must make it a point the next time you’re in Chicago!

Me and Tiffany! (Above)

The Pizza!!!!

We went home to rest for a bit before my mom’s orchestra concert later that evening. I love being able to watch my mom play violin… it’s a cool feeling being able to cheer her on from the audience, as she and my dad did so many times for me growing up. The summer concert series are usually performed outside at a couple different places and this concert just happened to be at the downtown Naperville Municipal Band Stage. It was a gorgeous evening! Dad and I ventured to a local coffee shop while mom was rehearsing a bit before the actual concert. My dad took me to a really cool coffee shop in Naperville that he frequents a lot while mom rehearses on Tuesday nights… He usually drives her to orchestra and they will grab a bite to eat and then after he drops mom off for her practice, he goes to the coffee shop and reads. My dad was a regular.. the guys saw him coming and had almost begun making his coffee, when he said “ I’m gonna change it up tonight.” My dad is the coolest… he is a regular at a coffee shop, where the guys know what he drinks… awesome! We stayed at the coffee shop for about 30 min and then headed over to the park where mom would be performing. The concert was absolutely beautiful… featuring some of my all time favorites “ Porgy and Bess,” themes from “The Showboat,” and themes from “West Side Story.” Loved that evening!!! My mom did so well too and I was so proud of her!

Church and Lake Geneva!

(Picture from Pinterest-above) (Our church doesn’t look like this, but I just love stained glass windows in churches! )

Sunday mornings are for church!!! I was really excited to get to go to church with my parents and that morning was quite exciting! So I have never had this happen, ever, but the fire alarm went off at the very beginning of the sermon and we all had to evacuate. It was funny in a way, because everyone just was looking at each other while the alarms were going off and I was like “ Hello… the alarms are going off… I’m a teacher and that means, evacuate the building!” Some people continued to just look around and sit, but as the alarm continued more people began to get up and head outside. The nursery workers and kids church leaders were rockstars- they got all the kids outside really fast and the nursery workers were geniuses… putting the infants in a crib and rolling the crib outside! No one knew what exactly happened, but we were ushered back in about 10-15 min later. We got inside sat back down and about 5 min later the alarm went off again. It was so crazy!!! So of course we all went back outside and by this time we all either had to leave or go to the 2nd service, since we had missed all of the allotted sermon time for 1st service. We ended up leaving, since we had made other plans for lunch and for the afternoon.

We went back home and got ready for a fun day at Lake Geneva. Mom and Dad had been there before, but thought I might enjoy walking along the lake, seeing the boats, and walking around the cute town and exploring the antique stores. I was super excited! We stopped at a Subway once we arrived and while eating noticed that it was starting to drizzle. We hurried and ate and walked towards the lake, as the clouds moved overhead and more rain drops began to fall until it was pouring. Luckily we were close to an overhang and stood underneath until the rain passed a bit for us to walk to our next destination. Although it was raining and we couldn’t be outside near the lake like I had hoped, I really enjoyed the antique stores we visited.

Me and Mom in front of one of the cutest antique shops at Lake Geneva!

Monday morning came quickly and it was time for me to head home, to Springfield! My dad was so sweet, he brought me back some coffee from Grahms 318, for my drive, as he returned home from dropping mom off at the train depot in Geneva. It is always hard to say bye to my parents, but I always enjoy the time I have. It was a really great weekend… one that I will remember forever! It is the little things in life… we could have done nothing and it would be amazing to me! I just love my parents!

More to come later on the blog about my weekend away with my girlfriends at the Lake and Kansas City!

Until next time friends… Keep smiling and enjoy life!


22 thoughts on “Summer Weekends Away- Chicago

  1. Oh my goodness what a fun post!! I loved how I was able to get a complete picture of your trip and read about your experience from start to finish! I love your pictures of your time with your family. Your parents are the cutest!!! It seems like the timing was perfect for you to spend the afternoon at the office with your mom with how she was feeling about her friend leaving and saying goodbye. I love the relationship that the two of you have, and how much you empathized with what she was going through. I’m happy she quickly got over the scare from the night before! =) I’m sure she was so thrilled to spend so much time with you! The part about the fire alarm going off at church totally made me laugh!! I can definitely relate to your “evacuate the building!!” reaction!! haha How scary with all of the little ones though! Thank goodness for the staff and their reactions, too! Thank you for all of the beautiful photos and detailed description of your day visiting Lake Geneva!! It reminded me how I need to get back there, and how peaceful and cozy it is there with the water and the adorable little shops.

    Reading your section on our morning together was so much fun and allowed me to experience the whole thing all over again! I am still telling people this story about how we met and I am definitely including the picture of us on the “Tell Us About Your Summer” picture slideshow that we have every year when we come back to school with the staff =) Thank you for your heartwarming words about our friendship!! I feel the same way!! This was such a lovely post and a joy to sit down and read. I love getting to know you and your life more through your blog and of course Insta =) Beautifully written adventure!

  2. This is just fantastic!! I love Chicago, it’s our favorite weekend getaway! Gorgeous pictures!!

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by! I love Chicago as well! So many fun things to do! My parents live in the cutest little suburbs in West Chicago… Geneva, IL is super cute! You should definitely stop and see it sometime! Have a wonderful weekend!

  3. So cute about surprising you mom, and lucky she wasn’t packing heat! I always hate that feeling of leaving the parents. Never know if it’s harder to not see them, or harder to leave them!

    1. Haha… it was hilarioius! And, Yes, so glad she didn’t have any object that you could hit me with or packing heat! It is crazy how I’ve been away so long, but still tear up and cry when leaving… my heart is just with them so much! Thanks for stopping by my corner of the internet! Hope you have a great weekend!

  4. I have always wanted to visit Chicago! It’s my number one spot to see in 2018! I will definitely be remembering this post once I go and make my plans! Looks like you had fun!

    1. Yay! That is exciting to have it on your 2018 list! I hope you are able to have a fantastic time and yes, please come back and refer to my page! You also have to have deep dish Chicago pizza… it is SOOOOO good! My favorite is Giordano’s, but Gino’s East is really great too! I can not wait to hear about your experience… please keep me posted! Thanks for reading and commenting and have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thanks! It was so much fun and pretty funny in the moment… I probably laughed about her reaction for a good 5-10 min after. Chicago during the winter is pretty cold, but sometimes it’s not too bad. Christmas time there is beautiful and you should definitely try and go to Geneva, IL for their awesome Christmas parade and open house nights. Ellen DeGeneres talked about the fun Christmas nights there and decided it was the best place to spend Christmas! So much fun! Well I can not wait for you to visit Chicago and see it for yourself… keep me updated on how it was! Have a fantastic weekend!

    1. That is so great! I really love Chicago and yes, it is perfect during the summer! I’m sure your dad’s family have so many great stories they share. Thank you again for stopping by and reading and have a fantastic weekend!

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