Celebrating Isabel’s 10th Birthday

This year my Isabel decided to opt out of doing a big birthday party and instead do an overnight with her BFF in the city.  I decided a little get-away without toddlers and babies sounded like a good deal to me too, so I was all for the idea.  🙂  We did make a deal… I would be a “yes mom” and allow her to plan the two days, with the agreement that she’d let me use my camera to practice getting some urban shots.  Since I live in the ‘burbs, I get very little practice shooting outside of my green, grassy fields, so I was excited for the challenge.

We started our trip with a lunch in the Signature Room at the top of the Hancock Building.  Ah-mazing view.  Side note:  if you go there on a Monday, for lunch at 11:30- the place is empty!  Perfect time to make sure you get a table on the best side of the room.  AND did you know they have a kid’s menu and the meals are $11?  Seriously- such a special meal and didn’t cost me much more than TGI Fridays. 🙂


Next up we got settled into our hotel and ready for Isabel’s favorite part of the 2 days- shopping on Michigan Avenue.  She had saved up some birthday money (thanks to grandparents, her aunt, and Aisha!) and the cash was burning a hole in her wallet.  Isabel has always been my girly-girl… always wanting a new purse, new shoes, new accessories, more make-up and of course clothes.  So this was the moment she was waiting for and it was fun to stand back and document her as she shopped.  She insisted I stay back while she made her purchases and was extra excited she got to “sign” a receipt when she used her gift card.  Big time stuff people.   Her friend loves shopping equally as much, so these two were happy, happy, happy.


blog2After our big shopping experience (where Isabel found out that $170 doesn’t actually get you all that much on Michigan Avenue) we headed back to the hotel to get dressed up and ready for a trip to Navy Pier.  Isabel INSISTED on wearing her favorite purchase… new shoes… that had a three inch wedge.  I couldn’t walk across the room in those shoes, but Isabel was sure she was ready to walk up and down Navy Pier, no matter how much pain she was feeling.  I begged her to at least bring some flip flops to change in to JUST in case she got uncomfortable.  Hours later, she did finally change her shoes, but I’m still in awe of this girl who will withstand that much pain for the sake of fashion.  Who is this kid and where did she come from?  Don’t worry- I was wearing sensible mom shoes. blog5blog6I was LOVING the light in the city and the way the pavement reflected light back into her face.  Photographer friends- if you haven’t tried shooting on sidewalks- you MUST.  Seriously loved.  This was in bright, full sun and I was still able to get loads of catch light in her eyes, even with the sun at her back.

Next up was a boat tour.  I’ve lived near Chicago for 14 years and I have honestly rarely been downtown, and haven’t ever done any touristy type activities.  So glad I finally did a boat tour- the girls giggled almost the whole ride, and I loved listening to all of the historical information about this amazing city.


Quick dinner on Navy Pier (at Billy Goat’s Tavern because I was tired of spending money), and then a little more walking on the Pier.  And yes, Isabel still wearing her favorite shoes.  At one point on the boat ride she took off one of her shoes and held it up to her face just admiring it.  She looked at me and said, “aren’t these just the more perfect things you’ve ever seen?”  I’m now thinking of getting her professional help.  Anywho… pretty shot of the girls on the pier….blog8And of course, no Navy Pier trip is complete without a fun ride.  They loved the swings and I was SO thrilled that I was able to get a few good photos.  I only had my 85 mm lens with me and since it wouldn’t allow me to zoom in, I was feeling regret about not bringing my (extremely heavy) 24-70mm lens with me.  But- hooray!  It worked!blog9

Finished up our evening with a few pretty shots with the sun setting behind her.  Once again, I adored the light there and it *almost* made me wish I was more of a city girl.  blog11blog10

We headed back to the hotel (Isabel finally in flip flops) and this mama was never more happy to get to bed early.  Praise the Lord for comfy hotel beds and husbands who stay home with your toddler and baby, so you are guaranteed a full night’s sleep.   (thanks babe!)

The next day we grabbed a taxi to go check out “the bean”, the girls mostly excited because I let them hail the taxi AND swipe my debit card in the cab.   We took our obligatory shot in front of the bean and stopped for a little lunch.


This shot just makes me smile.  Isabel is slightly obsessed with make-up and by slightly I mean extremely.  Honestly, before I had Isabel I worried about girls who loved make-up.  Were they going through an identity crisis?  Did they think they had to be someone they weren’t?  Were they trying to impress boys?  Now that I get to be a mom to Isabel, I’ve come to realize that some girls are just make-up girls!   My older daughter isn’t like this at all and we parented her the same way.  So I’ve tried to be at peace with Isabel and her love of makeup.    She isn’t normally allowed to wear it, but I made an exception for our trip and reminded her that it wasn’t allowed at home, but for our special trip- she could wear it.  She took full advantage of that privilege and it seemed every time I turned around she was re-applying lipstick.   Glad I caught one shot her doing it because I want to always remember her love of lipstick at this age.  🙂  And don’t worry… she isn’t going to show up to 5th grade with bright red lipstick.  I promise.


Final ride to the train station in a water taxi (btw… fun and cheap way to get around the Chicago River!).  I came home totally exhausted, but glad to have 2 whole days with my sweet girl.  I pray these are the memories she keeps (not the crabby mom yelling at her to clean her room or put away dishes).  I love getting one-on-one time with each of my daughters and these past two days were extra special.  Thanks Isabel and happy 10th birthday!blog14

  • Nancy - Emily:I just loved reading this. Thank you. She will ALWAYS remember those 2 days with you and her BFF. Thrilled she got to be a kid and grown up!ReplyCancel