This is the first time I have ever flown with my daughter, Lilah. This is the first major trip I've ever taken with her. From one moment to the next I am thinking "there are so many places in the world we need to go together!" And then "OMG What the %#*~#+=¥?! Was I thinking?!"

She was the perfect travel companion on the plane. So much calmer than me. Chatty with our seat mate. Supportive, not gloating while she left my Clumsy Ninja in the dust. We even drew a great journal page - the rule being "one line each". We got very creative with how we drew our "one line"!

Then, as we were circling Chicago... It's like a switch was flipped and she's a different person.  Hard to explain... But, licking my arm? Seriously? Eeeergh.

She got really quiet as she realized that this was a CITY.

And then, as we were all walking through that CITY- in search of the best deep dish pizza anywhere- according to a guy in a uniform in the hotel ... the noise, the crush of people, the homeless characters, the street musicians, the tall buildings... It all overwhelmed her and she melted down completely.

I realized, she'd never been to a really huge city before. She said she'd been to Boston for a day, but Boston is NOT a big city.

I finally coaxed her in to the restaurant (we were all starving!) by suggesting she help me make two lists. One would be all the things she hated about the city, and the next, all the things that were great.

Things looked better until a baby started screaming. With all the noise and chaos of the streets, it's amazing how much extra noise the restaurant added in - loud music AND TVs blaring. We've been focused on watching a lot of "Avatar," the cartoon, lately and we have philosophical discussions about which of the elements each of us would be tied too. Lilah is definitely a Water bender and Alex is Air. I suggested that she and her brother work together to form a protective bubble around us all to keep out the "too much city". Amazingly... It worked.

She went back later and scribbled out "Avrething" from the bad side of the list.

Especially after she had eaten all the fried calamari - she realized there were some pretty cool things about the city.

My journal has become a joint venture with everyone adding their doodles. My mom drew an entire page with Lilah and me as the focus. I have no idea what the other things are on the table?

Oh, and the pizza was fabulous.

Outside the restaurant were two fountains. Lilah practiced her water bending skills.

Then we explored Millenium Park (still protected by the Bubble!)

And we found another Bubble to explore! Or maybe it was a spaceship? The reflections were mesmerizing.

We stumbled across this amazing metal bug that turned out to be a free music festival about to start...

If you look at the map above, you can see just how huge the festival was. That oval shape in the middle is the grassy lawn where most people were packed in. They had picnic blankets and some had tables set up with wine. Quite the ritzy To Do.

It is interesting the effect the music has on people. The little girl behind us was dancing with her doll, where as my kid was lulled into meditation of her Italian Ice.

Oh. And our hotel is jaw droppingly gorgeous.

Although, the room is tiny with two double beds. We squashed a rollaway in for the six foot tall teenager. And Lilah is sleeping, very comfortably, between our beds.

The floors are not only super soft, but very tangle inspiring!

Lastly, before I keel over, here are the covers of the Moleskine journals that Lilah and I customized for the trip.

(Note the Lilah Beans and the train!)

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