Chicago 2013 – Part One

Early Thursday morning I woke up and rolled over to look blearily at the clock. “4:40 AM. At this time tomorrow I’ll be on the bus. I am SO glad it’s not tomorrow.”

I rolled over again and went back to sleep.


Every year when I’m getting ready for the Chicago Trip I plan to go to bed early all week so I don’t go into the Trip already tired. I also plan to go to bed early Thursday night to get a decent amount of sleep before the early-morning aka middle-of-the-night wake up call

Every year I fail, and this year was no exception.

This year I planned to be in bed by 10:00 to get about five hours of sleep, which isn’t much less than the amount of sleep I normally get.

When 10:00 rolled around I wasn’t snuggling down in our nice warm bed. Instead I was ironing Jo-Bear’s white shirt, thinking through the things I still needed to pack, finishing up notes to leave for Princess and Angel Face so they’d know what was going on while they were taking care of Z-Man and Little Guy, and getting the espresso maker ready to make a quick latte the next morning.

At 11:00 I finally fell into bed with about four hours to sleep; not as much as I’d hoped for. As I snuggled under the covers I told myself “Relax. Go to sleep. Everything is packed; you don’t need to worry about anything.”

Great advice; wish I would’ve taken it.


It always seems that the nights I really need to get to sleep right away are the nights I have the hardest time falling asleep.

This night was no exception.

At 11:30 I thought “Three and a half hours of sleep is OK but you really should go to sleep now.” Starting at my toes and moving to my head I tensed and relaxed every muscle in my body, imagining all the stress leaving the muscle as it relaxed.

At 12:00 I thought “You’ve got everything packed, and what isn’t packed is on the list for tomorrow. You won’t forget anything – go to sleep!” I rolled into my most comfy position, imagined I was surrounded with soft fluffy clouds, and waited for the Sand Man.

At 12:30 I thought “Seriously Amy! Go. To. Sleep. NOW!” I imagined I was in a car going down the highway; something that usually has me dozing off even when I try to stay awake.

At 1:00 AM I thought “With just two hours left it’s hardly worth going to sleep now.” And of course, that’s the last time I remember looking at the clock.

At 3:15 AM Teacher’s alarm went off and soaring orchestral music filled the room. Usually we wake up to NPR news, but Morning Edition doesn’t start until 4:00 AM; proof that no decent human being should be up so darn early.

My eyes popped wide open “Time to get up! then immediately drooped again. I started to drift back to sleep until I heard Teacher close the shower curtain.

“Come on, Amy – Wake up!”

I rolled out of bed, grabbed my robe and staggered to the bathroom, tripping over one of the cats in the dark hallway.

Mornings suck.

Mornings that start at 3:15 AM doubly suck.

Mornings that start with a cat attack at 3:15 AM triply suck.


Can I go back to bed? Pretty please with sugar and a cherry on top?



Chicago 2013 Part One - Driving to FVLSince I’m not a morning person and am used to sleep-walking through my morning routine I was able to get ready and finish packing in record time. I even had enough time to make the caramel latte that was absolutely essential for me to face a busload of middle schoolers at 4:00 AM.

The world was totally dark and out of focus as we drove to school. Seriously – the world really is unfocussed early in the morning. I know because this is the way it looks every time I’m up this early.


Chicago 2013 Part One - At FVLAs usual, the students were tired, excited, spacey, and hyper all at once – a unique and slightly alarming combination.

“I’m collecting music! Bring your music to me!” I reminded the students. After various emergencies involving music being forgotten at home, left in Mom’s car, or packed in a suitcase under the bus – usually the very first suitcase loaded on so ALL the luggage had to be unloaded then reloaded – I suggested that we collect the music when the students checked in.

After handing in their music and setting their belongings in the areas specified for Luggage, Instruments, and Carry-Ons, the students lined up at the bus door. Chuck hadn’t made a seating chart so it was first-come, first-served, and all the kids were anxious to get a “good” seat in the back of the bus before they were all taken. In my experience, a good seat is as far away from the bathroom as possible.

When the bus door opened I exercised “Director’s Privilege” to cut in line and claim the first two seats on the right side of the bus. Usually Teacher and I sit in the second seat; the first seat is filled with coolers, boxes of extra music, and other miscellaneous things Chuck wants to have readily available.


Chicago 2013 Part One - Loading the BusOnce again Teacher was Head Bus Loader; he and the other Bus Loaders made quick work of packing the bus.


Chicago 2013 Part One - WaitingAfter claiming their seats everyone gathered in the Commons for announcements and a devotion. I think A, L, and B look way too perky for this early in the morning.


Chicago 2013 Part One - ChaperonesThe students were divided into their groups, then introduced to their chaperones. Teacher and I lucked out and were assigned Jo-Bear and two of his friends. Their all great kids, and since all three boys’ names begin with “J” I called them the “J. Crew” all weekend.


Chicago 2013 Part One - Headed to the BusLook out, here they come!


Chicago 2013 Part One - TravelingAnd, we’re off!

See, it’s still dark and unfocussed. I’m telling you, this early morning stuff is overrated.


Chicago 2013 Part One - Stopping at the OasisOnce again another band snagged our usual morning clinic time so we had to take an afternoon time. I’m not fond of afternoon clinics because I think the students are more tired and less focussed by then, but when you don’t have a choice you make the best of things.

On the other hand, having an afternoon clinic time meant that we had time to stop at the Oasis again, and you know what that means…


Chicago 2013 Part One - StarbucksSTARBUCKS!

Step aside girls; it’s not wise to get between me and my Starbucks.


Chicago 2013 Part One - Teacher at StarbucksSmile Honey!

…or just look at me weird; I’ll use the picture anyway. At least his eyes are open this time.


Chicago 2013 Part One - Coffee!Pure happiness. I wubs my coffee.


Chicago 2013 Part One - McDonaldsOh Jo-Bear, where did I go wrong? Why are you hanging out at McDonalds when there’s a Starbucks right here? You’re breaking my heart!

Check out J on the far left, trying to stay out of the picture… Nice try kiddo; better luck time.


Chicago 2013 Part One - Hello KittyRandom Hello Kitty photo for Angel Face.


Chicago 2013 Part One - J Crew at Crane GameHere’s our J.Crew scoping out the crane game.

Ha – Gotcha again, J. I win!

Childish? Who’s acting childish? Certainly not me.


Chicago 2013 Part One - J Crew AgainOK, you win this time, J & J, but you can’t hide from me forever. I’ll get you my pretties, and your little…

Wait – what is Chuck saying?

Oh, OK.

Hey guys, enough goofing around. Time to head back to…


Chicago 2013 Part One - SparkliesOoh Sparklies!

Sorry, my ADOS (Attention Deficit… Oh Sparkly!) kicked in. What was I saying again?


Chicago 2013 Part One - Back on the BusOh yeah, time to get back on the bus.


Chicago 2013 Part One - HighwayThe scenery isn’t anything to write home about.


Chicago 2013 Part One - J.D. Robb BookBut I’ve got a new book so I really don’t care what the scenery is.

Sitting next to my Honey with fresh coffee and a new book; it doesn’t get any better than this!


To be continued in Chinatown…
Amy Sue

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