1. Our 27 hours away were absolutely wonderful. We saw 32 trains. Leo thinks the Chicago area is a wonderland of railways. We saw:

1 model train
6 el trains
4 communter trains
21 freight trains

2. Our kind friend John was a babysitter extraodinaire


3. The boys adored Eileen’s new house although Owen was petrified of her poor dog Hank. Of course this is the guy that is scared of ladybugs and he’s used to Wally—who as Eileen put it—is a movie dog.

4. I’ll write more about Kieran, Kevin and Fats later but suffice to say Fitzgerald’s is as great as ever. The only thing that had changed was the bathrooms and that was the only thing that should have. Although I will note that I SWEAR their glasses of wine are smaller than they used to be….HONEST.

5. The next morning Eileen took us to one of the coolest train/toy stores I’ve ever been too. Leo’s head almost popped off. Eileen also bought them switches for the new train set—-assuring their devotion forever.


I mean, look at their marble display!!!


6. It felt so good to be with Eileen and to spend time with Connie and John. I’ve known them for so many years that it really feels like family now. There’s a lot of shared history there. The boys were euphoric playing with Kelly and Mia who are frighteningly grown up I might add. They are absolutely smart, beautiful and kind girls. The boys were wowed but so were we.


7. When we left Eileen’s the boys wanted to go see skyscrapers. As we pulled out of her driveway Owen shoved several pieces of leftover pizza in his mouth and immediately fell asleep. At least this did account somewhat for his acting foul before we left. Poor little sweet pea was tired—he didn’t sleep much the night before (which of course means his parents didn’t either….). We did rouse him as we neared the city so he could see a skyscraper. Once I got him to say yes he’d seen it I let him go back to sleep—I just didn’t want to hear about it later…. Leo was sparkling he was so happy. Seeing the el trains, seeing the lake, seeing the skyscrapers—–he was thrilled with it all. It felt good to be back in the city. We drove up to see our old apartment building and of course our old neighborhood bar. It was icy cold and windy so I couldn’t make myself take the ten extra steps to get good pictures…..but here is 1201 W. Chase in Chicago. We had amazing views from our balcony on the fourth floor.


8. As we were getting closer to home and the boys were dozing in the back seat, Ernie told me that his heart had felt so light when he was sitting listening to Kieran the night before. I know just what he meant. I went and picked my father up for church this morning—-despite the fact that taking an octogenarian out in below zero weather seems crazy. It was one of those mornings. I found the coffee maker on from the morning before so as I scrubbed the burned coffee out I got my mother breakfast and my father his pills. He was wearing filthy pants and he couldn’t get the zipper all the way up. They don’t look like my mother’s pants but I don’t understand how they can be too small as he keeps losing weight. I told him he needed to fix his pants so he’s tightening the belt which is way too big—finally I said, “Dad, you NEED TO ZIP YOUR ZIPPER.” Then of course he couldn’t get it and seemed upset and it was getting late so I just zipped his coat up and figured that would cover it. Of course when we get to the church—which is none too toasty as it’s freezing outside—what does he decide to do today? Yep—take off his coat. Oh well. Anyway—-I was totally distracted during mass—in fact I couldn’t figure out why the guy wasn’t giving me the darn communion wafer until I realized that I’d forgotten to say ‘amen’. My heart felt light though. Mass flew by because I was busy trying to figure out how we could get down to Nashville to see the Steeldrivers. I sat there thinking, gee, there must be babysitting services in Nashville….I could call one and have them babysit the boys in the hotel room while we went to the Station Inn. Of course it doesn’t make sense but just the same….my heart was light from our 27 hours away.