51 In Life

2nd: We went to Chicago

Warning: I take too many pictures and have a lot to say.

We {Mom & me} left the beautiful and hot sunshine state on an early {but very delayed} flight with a final destination of Chicago Midway.

We left this:

And were greeted by this & very chilly temps:

Let me take a step backwards and talk about airports, airplanes, and travelling in general. Very rarely do I travel, and very rarely is it by air. I hadn’t been on a plane in nearly 6 years so it’s been a while. I know people are usually frustrated by delayed flights and rearranging of flight schedules but the scenery at an airport can be so entertaining. From the 5″ heels to the people in house slippers… you can see it all in an airport. You can also get your flu shot there. Who knew?

It’s funny how being a parent will change your perspective. I saw this and couldn’t help but think of Richard Scarry’s What Do People Do All Day? And {kinda} wished that my children were on my lap to take it all in.


 And we found this in the Sky Mall Magazine, anyone have it? Tried it? I thought it looked really fun… I’ve got a little party I’m planning I thought it’d be great for!


We arrived safe and sound in Chicago, unfortunately, the “friendly skies” couldn’t find our luggage. We left the airport without it. If you plan to travel anytime soon… carry on, people, carry on!We had a wonderful dinner in downtown Naperville with my cousin Erin, her husband, George, and DaddyBoy. Erin and George live in Naperville but are preparing for a big move to Tallahassee… my old stomping grounds! I’m so excited because they’ll be less than 2 hours from us and give me another really good reason to visit there more often!


When we left the beach it was 90 degrees. When we arrived in Chicago it was 40 something. Drastic temperatures call for drastic measures. Please don’t do this at home. Or anywhere for that matter. It’s so not cute. But it was oh so cold… and I had no luggage.

Never fear, the “friendly people” assured us they would deliver our bags between 8 pm and 12 am. At 1 am they called said it would be within in the next 4 hours. 2:56 am… they call again, with our bags. It’s hard to be frustrated when you’re just so relieved to receive your stuff.

DaddyBoy has an apartment in Chicago and commutes back and forth between the farm {in S. IL} on the weekends. My parents are looking for a house there but for now they are patiently waiting for the right one. We spent a good portion of the weekend looking at houses, which is always so fun to me!!

If you’re waiting to see pictures of the Chicago skyline or hear about our trip into the city, you won’t find it… we didn’t even venture into the city. My parents have a wonderful love and adoration for the western suburbs of Chicago, mainly St. Charles and Geneva {but there are others that are beautiful out there too}… most run along the Fox River and have the feel of quaint little towns. You leave one, blink your eyes and you’re in the next! If the weather would have cooperated I would have gone to town photographing them. They’re small towns {or at least feel small} with thriving downtowns full of shops and restaurants.

We spent Friday morning visiting with old friends. I love this family dearly, we go WAY back to 1983 or maybe ’84. Either way, we’ve been friends for a long, long time. And the best part about our friendship is that we can pick right up where we left off. Whitney {and her two little ones} came out from the city to spend the morning with us. We enjoyed coffee, muffins, and catching up on lost time.


Anne and MommaSissy are in tough competition for being the best two aunts on the planet.



Being with all of them made me wish the girls were with me. Especially the Raiger, I feel confident she and Finley would have a blast.

Anne’s the kind of friend who lets me help myself to her closet, not to borrow {although I know she wouldn’t mind that either}, just to look around and be encouraged. She’s the most clean and organized person I’ve ever met… and I’m still waiting for more of her to rub off on me.

That afternoon DaddyBoy took us on a drive. The leaves were starting to change and the colors were beautiful… even from the backseat.


It was really fun to be a daughter again… not that I’m not still a daughter, but just to be in the backseat of my parents car, for them to drive me around and take me on a fun trip; for us to run around together and eat all our meals together. 

My dad took us by his very large office complex. It has the same square footage of the Sears Tower, just laying on it’s side. It’s quite impressive and fun to see where he spends his days.


We had a late lunch at Portillos.


And refueled for our LONG excursion to Ikea.


We heeded your advice and opted for the Shaumburg location. We spent many hours there, many. I’d tell you how many but I’m afraid I’d blush if you really knew.

The children’s department was my favorite.


So fun, colorful and cheery.

With lots and lots of happy little things for children.

It is massive, I mean really massive, with 3 very full stories and escalators for your shopping carts. Thankfully it wasn’t crowded at all {Friday afternoon}.


Mom and I had a few hours on our own, then dad joined us and we wrapped it up fairly quickly. I found precious little espresso cups & saucers that will be perfect for an upcoming tea party/birthday party.


Everywhere you turn there is a fully staged kitchen or living room outfitted in Ikea products. They all looked really good, especially for the prices, I can’t attest to the quality, but for the price, the look is good… in my humble opinion. 🙂


There is one thing about Ikea that I didn’t care for…. the checkout. They offer no bags, you either have to bring your own {which we didn’t} or you have to buy theirs {which we did}. And thankfully DaddyBoy was along to help “wrap & bag”.

The next morning brought more fun and food with our old friends. A hearty breakfast at Harner’s. If you live in the western suburbs and haven’t been… I highly recommend!! It’s in North Aurora, just south of Batvia on 31.

They have a fabulous breakfast menu and a mouth-watering bakery. This is another point in our trip where I was missing the kids, wishing I could allow them the pick of the litter.

Our last stop was by Anne & Jeff’s for a quick tour of their fabulous kitchen remodel. And I’m still mad at myself for not photograping it in it’s completion… it’s incredible! Clean, crisp, beautiful, and classic!

Here’s a recent picture of me and Annie.


And this is how I’ll always remember her {and Whitney too}.

callard girls 

 The entire trip was so much fun… and brought back a lot of wonderful memories! Thanks, DaddyBoy! I can’t wait to do it again soon! And thank you, Justin, for being selfless and letting me get away alone for a nice long weekend! Thanks for watching our little scallywags, I love you and next time you’re coming with!

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  • Tracy
    October 10, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Just saw the giant cupcake pan this weekend … TWICE! It is at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s … cheaper than the Skymall magazine (which is fun to browse, but doesn’t come with a 40% off coupon!)

  • Maggie
    October 10, 2009 at 5:49 pm

    I just discovered your blog! Lovely post about a fun trip. I’ll be back to visit again.

  • Jen
    October 10, 2009 at 5:49 pm


    So glad you were able to be a ‘daughter’. I know exactly what your talking about. It is so much fun and you enjoy things a little differently with your parents when your older. I have the giant cupcake pan but have not used it yet. I was planning on using it in a few weeks for a friends birthday. I feel quite confident that you could do it. That would be so precious for a tea party birthday party. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

  • Abby Maddox
    October 10, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    Great Post. So much fun! And how is it that your fingernails look so fabulous in that picture with the giant cupcake? All that blog, all those pictures, and THAT’s my question 🙂

  • Emma
    October 10, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    What fun to be a daughter again.

    Being with my Daddy, who lived so far away, always made me feel like that, safe, cocooned, protected and induldged with time together. All without the disruption of sweet children. Precious. I’m so pleased you’ve had this time together. Thank you for reminding me of wonderful times I’ve shared with my parents.

    It looks as if you had a ball, thanks for sharing it.

  • Jen
    October 10, 2009 at 7:02 pm

    You can get the cake pan at Amazon too!

    Check this site out for a ‘liner’ for the cupcake. I did it for my daughter’s bday – very easy!


  • alison g. (brazil)
    October 10, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    I can imagine that it certainly DID feel nice to be “the daughter” again – what a lovely weekend – makes seeing everyone at home that much sweeter. So glad you shared!

  • Jacci
    October 10, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    Awww. that’s so great you had such a fantastic weekend with your parents! Sweet.

    About IKEA – we’ve tried, but the children and I have never had an IKEA visit that lasted less than 3 hours. More often than not, it’s around 4 – you have to have time for those meatballs, you know 🙂 If I were by myself (which I never have been) I’m completely certain I’d spend 7 hours easily 🙂 especially if I had some fun money to spend.


  • Mommasissy & Sloane
    October 10, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    So glad Abby noticed your nails! I noticed too.
    Darby’s fab nails came from a bottle of this I bought for her at TJMaxx: ($3.99 not $15)
    Who is that hot girl in the plaid cardigan in the last photo? With that triangle shaped hair do with a perm?
    I wish I could have been there!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Love you,

  • Kathy
    October 10, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    What a lovely weekend! I am sure your parents loved it, too.

  • julia
    October 10, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I’m going to Ikea for the first time on Friday…I don’t know how long I’ll be there..

  • Holly
    October 10, 2009 at 8:08 pm

    So glad you had a good time!

  • Kate
    October 10, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Thanks for taking so many pictures, and for the walk down memory lane! I recently found your blog, and have enjoyed stopping in from time to time. My husband and I met at Wheaton College, and spent the first 2 years of our marriage 3 minutes from the Shaumburg Ikea. I have a brother, sister-in-law, niece and nephew in Naperville. I miss all those ‘small’ towns! Now we live in Colorado, which is far from the Chicago suburbs in more ways than one!

  • chesley
    October 10, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    I contemplated the cupcake pan for a certain 1 year old’s birthday last year. In the end, I decided against it because I read several comments from others that one side cooked faster than the other & required wrapping in towels in the oven, etc….that = no thank you to me. You could probably pull it off since you seem so talented at all things domestic! Love how you told your story in pics. I’m pretty sure your dad could be a model if he wanted. He looks like he’s in an ad in those pictures :-)!

  • jade
    October 10, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    So of course I can’t wait to see what you are doing for the birthday/tea party. Makena’s is coming up in December and I have NO IDEA what I want to do. Waiting on you for inspiration. No pressure! xoxo

  • bonnie
    October 10, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    You were “here” and didn’t go into Chicago? Wonderful, wonderful Chicago? All those suburbs are so much alike that you’re right. One doesn’t know when you leave one and enter another. Too cutesy! But the Windy City is a delight. Best restaurants. Best theaters. Best shopping. Next time…….!

  • iman
    October 10, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Looks like you had fun.
    Your parents are adorable.
    I can’t wait to see this party you are planning.
    You haven’t flown in 6 years!?!
    Did you recently fly with three young children from New York to Jerusalem and have the lady behind you tell you to turn off the kids movie cause she can see it between the seats and it was bothering her eyes!?!
    No. Cause that would cause me not to get back on an airplane for 6 years! 😉
    We are headed to Chicago for Thanksgiving, I’ll have to give that breakfast place a try.

  • angela
    October 10, 2009 at 8:46 pm

    I have the cupcake pan. It is easy and fun!! here is a tip that works: When putting the batter in the pan. Don’t eyeball it or it won’t work. Put one cup in one side and then one cup in the other side. Then again and again until all the better is used. It won’t look right according to the size of the pan, but believe me, it works!! Your kids will love it. I like it best when I ice only the top and not the sides…makes it look more like a real cupcake.

    Ikea is such a fun place. We have one in North Carolina now too. Loved all your pictures and so glad you had fun being a daughter again!

  • duchess
    October 10, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    How fun! I feel like I just took a quick trip to the suburbs of Chicago. Thanks, Darby. I also realized that I need to make a not so quick trip to the IKEA in Charlotte (w/o kids).

  • Haley
    October 10, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    I used the giant cupcake pan for my daughter’s first birthday cake. I agree with what everyone else says, and I’ll add this tip… bake it the day before your party and freeze the 2 parts separately overnight in saran wrap; this will make it much easier to ice! (I practiced a few times and since the cake pan is such an odd shape, it tends to be crumbly if not frozen first!)

  • Gayle
    October 10, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I used the giant cupcake pan for my daughter’s fourth birthday last year. I borrowed it from a friend who purchased it at Williams-Sonoma.I found out that using the recipe that comes with the pan works better than a box mix. (Her birthday is 11/5, I believe it’s only day after your daughter’s) I had a baking birthday party for and it was a blast! I made aprons for all the little girls and matching ones for the moms. We baked little cupcakes, which they took home in bakery boxes, and pizza and then ate the BIG cupcake at the party. We made chef’s hats and I set up two little kitchen sets outside on the patio for the girls to play. The girls had a blast!! Actually us moms had fun too if not more!

  • Ashley H.
    October 10, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    You MUST buy the cupcake pan!!! It’s one of my favorites to use for birthday parties! Your trip to Chicago looked like a refreshing weekend for a busy mama! Too fun!

  • Elizabeth
    October 10, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Absolutely love this post. I want one of the caramel covered apples right now. You and your sister look so much like your dad!

  • Becky
    October 10, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    seriously, by far…my fave picture is of your momma gazing at her hunka man. i love it. so precious!! glad you had fun (and are back and finding time to share! so fun to travel through other people.)

  • melissa stover
    October 11, 2009 at 1:57 am

    i’m always so excited to see a post of your show up on my reader. i love your blog and always enjoy your pictures.

  • Debra
    October 11, 2009 at 7:33 am

    What a fabulous weekend with your Mom and Dad. You do take the very best photos. My Mother and Father-in-law lived in Geneva, right on the river in a lovely home. It’s such a great area-some sweet shops nearby too….. Love that cupcake pan…yikes! Last night I ordered the acorn pan after reading E’s. post and now this!!!

  • Ms. Bright
    October 11, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Oh, how I miss the ‘burbs!! Espesh Naperville, Wheaton and St.Chas/Geneva (and Oakbrook Mall!) It looks like you had a lovely time as a ‘daughter’! And Portillo’s!! I’ve been craving that this weekend! Argh! Lucky girl!

  • amanda
    October 11, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Yummm… 5 love a Chicago Dog from Portillo’s and their fries…yummy! The Ikea location is right up from my parents and I cannot believe all that is there at Woodfield now…isnt the Ikea crazy big?! Daycare and all, ha! There is NOTHING like the Midwest in the Fall…so nice you got to recharge!!!!

  • Cousin
    October 11, 2009 at 10:41 am

    So glad you got to go to Ikea! Wish I could’ve spent more time with you! Soon though:) Looks like you had fun! The weather is sunny now but sooo cold!! Florida is sounding better and better all the time! I love you!!

  • Julie
    October 11, 2009 at 11:56 am

    I love reading your blog! I live in Geneva and we love the small town feel! I’m glad you had a great time here! Portillo’s cheese fries are the best!

  • sarah
    October 11, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    thanks for the travelogue! I’m just disappointed that there are no pictures of that organized closet–I could use the inspiration too!

  • Jenny
    October 11, 2009 at 3:35 pm

    My husband is an airline pilot…so while the flights are free, we always have to fly standby. Therefore, we never get to check bags. I agree…it’s all about the carry on! I gotten pretty good flying by myself with two kids, a large carry on suitcase, a backpack, a diaper bag, a double stroller, and two car seats. It’s believable but I have figured out a system to push all that through the airport and to the gates all by myself. Sounds like you had a great time!

  • Amanda @ Serenity Now
    October 11, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Fun trip! 🙂 I’m so glad you were able to experience IKEA…my favorite part is “touring” all the little apartments. 🙂

  • b.a.
    October 11, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    portillo’s: sigh! nostalgic.
    ikea: oh man, i need a trip! and yes, days could be spent there!
    daddyboy: mini i-promise-i’m-not-a-weirdo crush. he’s so handsome! (your mother is adorable as well.)
    finley’s hat: just bought it for my daughter & she didn’t wanna wear it, but now that she’s seen it here, she loves it! thanks!
    harner’s: yum! have y’all ever been to egg harbor? my favorite.

    wow, lots of exclamation points there. clearly i need to take my own trip to the chicago sub’s.

  • Carrie
    October 11, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    I have the giant cupcake! I made it for my son’s 1st birthday. I made the icing part of ice cream. There are some good recipies on William and Sonoma. A dense cake works best!

  • kristen
    October 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    Looks like such a fun trip! quick note – i do have the cupcake tin and ♥ it!! We use it for every birthday. One tip – don’t fill both sides and cook them together. the bottom of the cupcake (for lack of better description) takes much longer to cook than the swirly cone shaped top. it’s definitely worth the investment 100x over!! who doesn’t love a (huge) cupcake!?

  • Amy Dennis
    October 11, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    The Wiggins are lake friends of ours and Whitney and Lindsay told me about your fun blog. I really enjoy reading all that you post and find it rather funny that I feel like I know and love your family. I’ve never felt the need to comment, mainly because you don’t know me…but I love what you said about enjoying time being a daughter. I am almost 40 and my dad died of cancer when I was 22. I still miss him SO much and I’m glad to hear that you cherish time with your dad. What a gift, especially in the midst of you being so busy as a mom. A great book that I read recently is The Middle Place. Can’t think of the author, but it’s a great true story by a woman who is a mother and daughter – in the “middle place”. I bet you would enjoy it, too! Thanks for all the fun posts and pics!

  • Shireen
    October 11, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    Well, I just had a long comment, and it didn’t save, so I’m re-typing! Oh well! 🙂
    Looks like you had such a good time with your sweet parents! Justin is a wonderful hubby, indeed!! But you know he loved every minute with the kiddos!! 🙂
    Time is going by too fast these days. Miss you so much…I enjoy keeping up with you on your BEAUTIFUL new blog :), but I do miss our conversations and chats!
    Love you!

  • Hillary @ The Other Mama
    October 11, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    What a fun trip! I love your dad’s face in that picture holding the tea cups!! And I completely agree about riding in the back again. What a great feeling. 🙂

  • kendall boggs
    October 12, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Dearby, (I accidently typed that but it seemed perfect for you!!!) There’s an Ikea in Atlanta you know. 3 1/2 hours away from you. And I have a [2 bedroom] condo you can stay in! (For free) anytime. Only for you my dear, only for you! They also have this really cool Wilderness adventure Safari that Jordan and I have been meaning to go and take Evey. If you ever want to do it, let me know!!!

  • Andrea
    October 12, 2009 at 8:14 am

    A word about IKEA furniture – it does not hold up during moves very well (like, at all – you might as well trash it or sell it on craigslist). The dishes, lamps, and other things are pretty good though. Also, IKEA has GREAT food. My office is 3 minutes away and I go there for lunch sometimes. I have also been known to stop in for dinner before heading to the movies across the street. Who could resist a 50 cent hot dog and $1 frozen yogurt? Not to mention the swedish meatballs with lingonberry sauce…ok, I think I know what my lunch plans are today…

  • mag
    October 12, 2009 at 8:34 am

    My son often brings Harner’s donuts when he comes from his dad’s-yum. So glad that you had a great trip. Thanks for highlighting what a wonderful place Illinois is. Everyone just thinks it is flat and full of corn and corrupt politicians! But, so beautiful and so much to see and do.Now if only our weather was better…!

  • Traveler’s Blues « Flooding Susie’s Inbox
    October 12, 2009 at 8:42 am

    […] a fabulous week or two in Lexington, I’d head north to Chicago and Boston (Darby and Erika have both been there so I’ll let them show you the highlights) […]

  • Tara
    October 12, 2009 at 9:45 am

    This post brought tears to my eyes, seeing the old pic of your friends really made me miss my old friends and cousin (who live in Pensacola, Lutz and Tampa). I hope to visit in February when the weather here in MO is unbearable. And it’s too funny the little girl with the tongue pushed out, My Chloe (4yrs) Always had her tongue slightly out for all the pictures for at least 2yrs. Glad you had a good time and your kids made it through.

  • Leslie
    October 12, 2009 at 9:49 am

    Darby, I sent you the lab this morning…make sure it doesn’t hit your spam! Thanks, Leslie

  • Christina
    October 12, 2009 at 10:00 am

    What a fun trip! I admire your relationship with your parents. I have and love that cupcake pan. Unfortunately I haven’t used it since my first trial but here are my posts about it…I still want to try the ice cream recipe with it!

  • brandy
    October 12, 2009 at 10:22 am

    Looks like a fabulous trip! I bought the cupcake pan for my daughters first birthday party and it was adorable! I have used it for a couple of other parties too. I was worried that once I decorated each part I would have a hard time stacking them, but it was no problem. I have the Wilton on and I know Williams-Sonoma makes one too! If your interested, I posted about the cake and party here…


  • shanna
    October 12, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    2 of my friends have the giant cupcake cake pan.i borrowed it for my daughter’s 1st b-day cake we’ve all 3 made our 1 year olds b-day cakes out of it. it works well and turns out really cute! the best way to make it is to bake it in 2 separate turns, baking the top first and letting it cool and then wash the pan and bake the bottom part or vice-versa. they have it at michael’s here in albany. check there if y’all have one in dothan.

  • rhonda
    October 12, 2009 at 6:04 pm

    Love that you got to spend some time with your parents, just being thier daughter…

    How in the world did you end up at Auburn from Ill.???

  • Megan Clark Brezina
    October 17, 2009 at 6:05 am

    We LOVE Ikea here in Germany, it’s like a big field trip. The no bag problem is a German thing. We have to take our own bags EVERYWHERE.They’re more “Green” and “Organic” here than you could ever imagine! Maybe you should just come for a visit…free room.

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