I couldn't wait to see Sarah and Ben Battaglia up on the North Shore of Chicago. Sar has been one of my very best friends since I first moved to Indianapolis. She's been in Chicago for three years now and I always look forward to weekends when I come up here.
On Saturday we headed into the city for fun and adventure. We had to go to Chik-Fil-A, because they don't live near one, and got our fill of waffle fries. Then we decided to check out the Shedd Aquarium... but the line was way too long. So we went next door to the Planetarium instead.
The highlights were when we got to play with a Rover, make a crater in clay and try this moon jump thing. I don't know if space exploration is our favorite thing but I love getting to hang out with Sar and Ben.
When we left there were five different wedding parties getting their pictures taken with the lake and the city behind them. The three of us sat on the stairs and looked at all the dresses and reminisced about Sar and Ben getting married last Spring.
Rain made us head back to their apartment and we had fun there the rest of the night. We ordered pizza, watched lots of New Girl, made Pioneer Woman's caramel-chocolate brownies and played a new game called Treasure Island.
This morning I went to church at Grace with Sar and Ben. It's fun just getting to see the normal parts of their weekly routine. I'm so thankful for friends that care about me and invite me into their lives. Even though we're far away these are people that I know have my back. I so admire Sar and Ben for what they do and just who they are.
It worked out to stop back in La Grange for a visit with a couple of the girls on my way out of the city. I got to go thrifting with Grace, Katlyn, Nina and Emily. They were looking for Hawaiian shirts for one of their homecoming days but found a lot of other good finds during the hunt through the racks.
One of the things I love about CILTs is that you get to all be together for two whole weeks. Two weeks is such a long time. I love that for each CILT session we get to just be together and live in such community. We live in the same building, eat all our meals together in the Party Room, hang out all day long and always finish the day with devotions. Life is done together.
After spending those two weeks together you get so close to people-- they become a mix of your family and new best friends that you never knew you were missing. With each summer that passes I do my best to stay in touch with CILT girls, to make visits like this and plan reunions.
These visits are the best, they make me so happy. But it makes me miss that community of camp where you don't have to worry about saying good-bye at the end of the day. I've been so excited for this trip for weeks and then just like that it was over. But even though it went by too quickly I loved every second of being with these friends again.
I'm so glad I got to see the little sisters Audrey, Mia and Jane. I got to see glimpses of every day life for these girls. We got to play for a little bit and laugh hard and sing songs in the car and drink Diet Coke and just be together. And I got to meet Max the cat. That might have been the very best part.
I'm glad it worked out to see these Kat, Em, Neener and Grace on the way back home again. They have become some of the main characters of my life and I loved getting to spend extra time with them. I love them because they're so real and honest with me, because they love each other well, because they care about me and my life, because they're living a life of joy and trying not to get too caught up in the small stuff, because we somehow keep loving one another just as much as when we were living the dream this summer. They're some of my very favorite people.
Leaving Chicago wasn't fun, but thankfully I had one more reunion to go to today. I went to Purdue to meet Mel, JZ, Karisa, Caleb, Jack McGee!, Blake and Joey for dinner at Noodles. Just like on nights off in the summer, it was so good to gather around a table with these friends and catch up. We have such a shared history and can just jump back into conversations and sharing life together.
Kathryn and Sophie had a choir concert tonight but came to visit us as soon as they could. Luckily they were still wearing their gorgeous choir outfits. Everyone else had to leave but Jamie, Kat, Soph and I just hung out and talked for a long time. I love these friends and it was so good to be able to spend time with them.
Now I'm on the porch of the Nightingale at Camp Tecumseh, writing this blog post before I go to sleep. Main Field is pitch black but I can see lights on the Lodge and just heard the donkey at the mini-farm. It's freezing compared to summer nights, but the stars are still shining just as brightly.
Tomorrow 300 students plus teachers, high school counselors and parents will arrive to kick off our yearly field trip. This is one of my favorite weeks of the whole year because my worlds collide. I can't wait for nominations, capture the flag, Just Dance, stealing campers at the Longhouse, baked oatmeal twice in once week (fingers crossed), hanging out with YL kids, skit night and getting to see my students in this environment.