Chicago is a hell of a town and we had a great time there despite our travel arrangements going cattywampus. We stayed in Schaumburg, which was perfectly situated close to both O’Hare and the rink we were playing at. Also, Schaumburg has everything a traveler could need in close proximity. There’s a great mall, several Dunkins, Portillo’s, Lou Malnati’s, and Giordano’s. Schaumburg is also right off both I-90 and I-290, which makes it super easy to drive downtown. To clarify, when I say it is easy to drive downtown, I only mean that you pretty much just follow the road into the city. As for Chicago traffic and left merges, those are not easy nor are they fun.

Saturday the boys played two games, so it was a hockey day. While the boys rested in between games, some of us parents went and enjoyed a Lou Malnati’s pie. It was my first time trying Lou Malnati’s pizza and while I liked it, I prefer Giordano’s. The boys split their games Saturday. The first game they could have easily won, so it was frustrating to see them walk away with a loss. The Mayor had an awesome day scoring two or three goals in the two games. They won their evening game, which was fabulous. After the second game, we enjoyed a catered Chipotle dinner at the hotel. Admittedly, I love the catered hotel dinners as it is much easier than doing a team dinner in a restaurant. Plus, it’s really easy to eat healthy with a catered Chipotle dinner.

Sunday morning’s game was a doozy. They were up 3-0 after the first period but nearly gave away the game. In the first period, the team looked like total rockstars, while the second and third periods got progressively worse. Tying the third game knocked them out of the semi-finals, which also gave us the rest of Sunday off. Of course, it wouldn’t be a hockey tournament if we didn’t have to wait with bated breath for other games to finish. There was a chance, if the stars had aligned, that they could have made it to the semifinals.

Consequently, my bestie Jen and I headed to Sky Spa/Sauna in Buffalo Grove. It was an awesome facility. The women’s locker room had a dry sauna, steam room, and hot tub. We stuck to the dry sauna with Himalayan sea salt walls. The spa also had an outdoor pool and co-ed saunas. We found, however, the outdoor pool to be too cool and the co-ed saunas to be too much of a sausage fest. Consequently, we stuck to the dry sauna in the women’s locker room. The experience was absolutely heavenly. We both left the spa feeling completely relaxed and pain-free.

After the sauna, I definitely wanted to go to bed, however, our friends were heading to downtown Chicago. I got changed quickly, so the Mayor and I could join our friends for an adventure downtown. The drive into the city was uneventful, at least for me as a passenger, but traffic wasn’t terrible. It was still pretty busy considering it was a Sunday night. Once we made it downtown, we found parking right off Michigan Avenue near Millenium Park. The parking is super easy to access albeit quite expensive. The vistas of Michigan Avenue never get old. It is such a beautiful stretch of road with parks on the Eastside and beautiful buildings on the west side.

To get into Millenium Park, we had to go through metal detectors and have our bags searched. Unfortunately, Chicago’s violent crime problem has spilled over into downtown including random acts of violence. When we lived in Minnesota, we drove down to Chicago quite often to visit Luke’s grandfather and I loved going downtown. The last time we were there, there weren’t metal detectors or police in tactical gear all over the place, so it was sad to see it this time. The Bean is cool and the park is pretty awesome. They could. have ice skated there, but they wanted to skate the Ribbon at Maggie Daley Park instead.

The walk from Millenium Park to Maggie Daley Park reinforced what I already knew about Chicago. It’s windy as hell and it’s a lot colder downtown. I kept checking to make sure my jacket was zipped because the wind was ripping right through it. When we got to the second park, the skating was sold out until 8:00 pm. Consequently, we headed to Giordano’s for dinner. The timing worked out perfectly. By the time, we finished our amazing pizza, it was time to head back to Maggie Daley Park. Unsurprisingly, the walk back to the park was completely miserable courtesy of the mighty Chicago wind.

Maggie Daley Park and the Ribbon were amazing. I highly recommend checking them out if you have the chance. While the boys skated, the parents walked over to the cafe and enjoyed some very hot chocolate. The hot chocolate served in disposable cups, complete with marshmallows, was far better than any rink hot chocolate I’ve tasted. As for the park, its elevation is lower than the street, so the wind wasn’t much of an issue while in the park. Consequently, it was the perfect place to take in the city. We thought the boys would skate for twenty minutes and then get bored with it. Boy, were we wrong. I’m pretty sure they would have skated all night if we let them. Thankfully, we had to. get back to the hotel for a birthday party, so we parents were able to defrost sooner rather than later.

The trip ended with a win in the consolation game and lunch at Portillo’s. To be honest, I’m completely obsessed with their cheese sauce. It’s amazing! Fortunately, we didn’t have an issue getting to the airport. Our hockey family came through for us big time, so special thanks to Lyssa for helping us out. We got to O’Hare almost three hours early as I had read the TSA lines were ridiculous. Apparently, this wasn’t the case in terminal five. There wasn’t anyone waiting. inline when we got to TSA. Once through security, we chilled in Delta’s amazing lounge where the Mayor took full advantage of the shower suites and buffet. We made it home at around 2:00 am exhausted, but happy to have spent a great weekend with friends in Chicago.

Today’s accountability tracker:

Champions in Chicago

Our Panthers’ left Chicago late yesterday as champions.  I guess the winter storm, which was initially cumbersome was a harbinger of our team’s success. By Sunday the roads were nice and dry for our two games out in Geneva.   The rink was a beautiful facility with a great bar (thank you Chelios Pub and Grill,) but was quite far from civilization.  It took an arduous forty-five minutes to get there the first night on questionable roads.  The commutes Sunday and Monday were better, but still long.  Thankfully, our games took place after the storm had stop and the roads were largely cleared.


Goalielocks played both games Saturday against local teams.  I was happy to have remembered my beta blockers for the game.  He played awesome game 1 and so did his team.  They came away with a 6-1 victory.  Fortunately, the victory was even sweeter for me.  I was blessed to be able to watch the game with my dearest friend Jenny and her kids, who are Chicagoland residents.  They’re awesome people and clearly good luck.  It was quickly agreed upon that they would need to be present at the rest of the games as our good luck charm.


In between games some of the kids opted for White Castle. We, however, opted for something with less of a laxative effect.  Surprisingly, our hotel had a fabulous restaurant downstairs.  Goalielocks scarfed down a burger, while I enjoyed their yummy chili.  This was also the day I discovered the awesomeness of Adidas joggers and their zipper pockets.  Immediately, after dinner and the conclusion of the Rams/Saints game, Goalielocks and I headed to Dick’s in hope of finding another pair of joggers.  I had given up hope, when Goalielocks discovered a pocket of fancier Adidas at the back of the store. They had more joggers!   I quickly bought a nice pair in black and we headed back to the hotel to prepare for game two.

John, TK, Goalielocks headed back to the rink for game two.  John and I immediately headed to the bar, so we could grab a quick drink before the game and watch the Chiefs/Patriots game.  Sunday night it was Stella Cidre instead of beta blockers.   The cider was quite yummy.

Unlike the morning game, game two on Sunday got off to a much slower and arduous start.  We simply didn’t look good. There weren’t many shots against either goalie in that game with my goalie seeing around 12-15 shots.  Our opponents scored late in the first on a deflection to make it a 1-0 game.  Throughout the second and third period, Goalielocks made some huge saves to keep the team in it.   Unfortunately, it was looking like we were going to end up in the consolation game.  Then we got to less than 5:00 minutes left in the third.  After the referee gave their player a major penalty, we ended up on the power play.  In short order, our squad put in three goals.  Where was this the rest of the game?  It was an awesome end to a solid day of hockey for the team.   The best part of course was the post game celebration as they realized they were championship bound.

We ended our evening and started our Monday morning at the Ale House where it took twice as long to get our bill as it did to get our food.  I don’t for the life of me understand restaurants that won’t let teams order by jersey number.  They always insist it’s easier to do it their way.  Ultimately, they find that their way wasn’t the best way.  At 1:00 am in the morning it’s a bit aggravating to watch them enter and re-enter food trying to figure out what check the meal should be on.  We didn’t get back to the hotel until after 1:00 and were absolutely fried.


I got up for breakfast, but Goalielocks was fried so he stayed in bed.  They had amazing pancakes with  white chocolate cream sauce and berries that had become his favorite.  Fortunately, the restaurant was able to make and pack up his meal as I finished mine.  By the time I returned from breakfast, Goalielocks was up and ready to eat.  We didn’t have a ton of time, so I finished packing while he ate. 

By 12:00 pm we were back at the rink for the 1:20 pm championship game.  We booked our flight out of O’Hare for 5:00 pm, so I knew it was going to be tight getting out there.  We were also meeting the hubby and my Mayor in Atlanta, so rescheduling was really out of the question.  Especially since I had my hubby’s truck keys.  The game itself was a complete gong show.  The other team started head hunting early and we fed into it.  By the end of the second period, more than an hour had elapsed.  Our games Sunday were relatively clean and quick.  This one was not.  In the end, we had to leave early in order to get to O’Hare on time.  Fortunately, we were able to beat the team we lost to on Saturday night, so our squad left Chicago as champions!


We raced to the airport literally and figuratively.   Fortunately, the lines at security were not too bad.  We ended up having to wait longer for the shuttle from the rental car center than for TSA.  By the time we got to our gate, our flight was starting to board.  It was complete relief once we made it on board.  I texted the hubby our food order from the plane, since he’d be landing in Atlanta about an hour before us.


We finally started to push back and then we sat.  Apparently, the tarmac was a bit icy, so our bird slid a bit out of position.  Consequently, we had to wait for the ground crew to come back and push us out further.  This was a first for us as travelers.  As a result, we ended up with a ten minute delay, which wasn’t bad.  Our flight was quick and fun.  Goalielocks and I enjoyed dipping our Biscoff cookies in our drinks (coffee with Bailey’s and coke respectively) and playing a word puzzle game on my phone.  The landing into Atlanta was hard and we took a bounce, but the flight was otherwise uneventful.

Thankfully, I had upgraded to comfort seats, so we were just behind first class.  If we had been at the back of the plane, we may have had issues making our connecting flight.  Our plane from Chicago arrived at gate C26 and our flight to Fort Lauderdale was departing from A2.  We booked (don’t worry I didn’t run) as fast as we could through the C terminal and to the tram.   After the tram, we were dodging obliviots that kept stopping in the walk-way to get to our gate quickly.  It was well worth the effort as we were rewarded with familiar faces and some grub.

The flight from ATL to Fort Lauderdale is pretty quick and was uneventful.  We were relieved that all of our luggage arrived in one piece quickly after we had gotten off the plane.  After a forty minute drive, we were home.  It felt amazing to sleep in my own bed.    Meanwhile, Chicago got hit by freezing rain today with over 800 flights cancelled.  We’re glad to be home and in the warmth.    Overall, our weekend was amazing and one that we’ll always look back on fondly!

Homeward Bound

After a wonderful weekend in Chicago, we’re homeward bound. We got a very early start to our day with a 5:00 wake up call. The Mayor’s game was out in West Dundee and after several inches of snow, we needed to leave even earlier. Consequently, we hit the road at 5:30 hoping that would provide adequate time to get there by 6:10.

Unfortunately, it did’t. Admittedly, I got spoiled when living in Minny as they truly do a great job clearing the roads quickly. Illinois could use a lesson or two from Minny on clearing the roads. While the storm had started in the early evening hours on Sunday nights, the interstate was still a mess when we hit the road this morning.

Not for nothing, winter driving is one of the biggest reasons I wanted to move out of Minny. I absolutely abhor driving in the snowy and icy conditions. Clearly, I don’t have the nerves nor the stomach for it. Nonetheless, I survived driving through the snow and ice.

Back to hockey, both boys were playing in the semis this morning. The Mayor’s team lost a heart breaker of a game, but they played with so much heart. Unfortunately, due to the timing of their games and the road conditions, I missed Goalielocks’ game.

I didn’t think in a million years I could have made it there for more than a period. However, the game was a complete train wreck with numerous stoppages. In fact, even though I would have made it to the rink an hour after it started, I still would have caught half a game. The crazy part is these games are only supposed to take an hour…. This one took considerably longer.

As much as I hate driving in the snow, it was absolutely beautiful this morning. After their games, the kids headed outside to play in the snow with their teammates. They had an absolute blast. Fortunately, the weather was absolutely perfect for playing outside with temperatures in the low to mid 20s.

Once they finished playing outside, we packed up the room so we could grab lunch with our friends. It was no surprise that Goalielocks wanted to head back to Giordano’s. In fact, I was totally on board too since eating the deep dish pizza would likely keep us full for the rest of the day.

While our teams didn’t make the finals and the hockey didn’t go as we hoped, I’m leaving Chicago with a heart full of love and gratitude. I’m extremely thankful to be able to share these experiences with the kids and with my dear friend Jen. Seeing Jen and her family absolutely made my weekend. There’s nothing better than a dear friend, who loves you no matter where you are in life. A friend that sticks by your side through thick and thin. Moreover, even though you may not talk everyday you know they’re in your corner. Love you to the moon and back my sister from another mister!!!!

We’re presently cruising around 36,000 feet heading south to Atlanta before heading to Florida. The Mayor is enjoying a movie, while Goalielocks has been watching highlights from yesterday’s Vikings game. There’s no studying happening, so hopefully that means they did their work already. Meanwhile, I’m here blogging away on my iPhone.

I’ll close out tonight’s blog with how much we enjoyed our time in Chicago. The people, the service, the food was all incredible. From the moment we got to the rental car counter at Hertz until we pushed back tonight, we were met with nothing but kindness from the people of Chicago. The only nasty people we came across were crazy hockey mom and grandmas from other states. We, of course, were on our best behavior. Seriously, Chicago and its people were amazing to us this weekend!

Chicago Bound

We are Chicago bound, via DTW, for a weekend of hockey. For the first time, the Mayor and Goalielocks are playing at the same out of state tournament. Well, at least this month….

Our flight left out of Chicago on an older formerly Northwest 757-200. Consequently, the bird evokes memories of flying on Northwest out of Minneapolis. For several years, Northwest was really the only game in town for us Minnesotans. While Delta now has most of the airport, there are several other options for flying in and out of MSP. Fortunately, they have a number of low costs carriers flying into MSP, which has somewhat helped lower the cost of flying into Minneapolis.

We just flew over the Appalachian mountains minutes ago and are rapidly approaching Ohio. In less than an hour, we should be wheels down in DTW where will catch our connecting flight to Chicago! Unfortunately, we’ll be pulling into gate 66 and will have to head to gate 6. Should be a fun dash!

I packed several snacks for the flight including almonds, gourmet marshmallows, little bites and Twizzlers. At this point, I’m fairly certain the only items left will be the almonds! This is in spite of the fact we all just enjoyed some yummy Biscoff cookies. As an aside, the cinnamon churro marshmallows are ridiculously delicious!

I’ll post a song of the day in a later post as this bird’s WiFi is not super strong!