Sleepless in Chicago 2012

It’s 6:00am on a Friday morning and instead of snuggling in my nice warm waterbed ignoring the alarm like any normal Friday morning, I’m sitting on a bus to Chicago trying to ignore the middle school band students behind me.

Why you ask?

Because I’m crazy, but that’s beside the point.

The real reason, boys and girls, is because it’s time for our annual Middle School Band trip to Chicago for the Music in the Parks competition!

I’ve been teaching Middle School Band on Saturday mornings since 2002 and going on the Chicago Trip since 2004. Which also happens to be the year we won the Best Overall Band award, AND the Espirit de Corps award. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

You’d think after so many trips I’d be used to the early mornings, late nights, and general lack of sleep, wouldn’t you?

Sadly, I’m not. Late nights I can handle, but “early” and “morning” should never, ever, be used together in the same sentence – unless there’s a big “NO” somewhere in there too.

“NO early mornings” would work for me.

Luckily I know the cure for early mornings – coffee, and lots of it.


Chicago 2012 - Driving to SchoolThis year the adventure began at 3:30am when Teacher and I stumbled out of bed and sleepwalked to the shower. Jo-Bear got himself up and ready to go, but it was easy to see that he was half-asleep too. Our goal was to leave home at 4:20am so we could arrive at school on time. We were just a couple of minutes late, which is a minor miracle since I tend to run 5-10 minutes late for everything. Not sleeping well the night before and the whole hating early mornings didn’t help either.

We would’ve been on time if I’d skipped making my morning latte, but I figured the kids would perform better alive than dead.


Chicago 2012 - Starbucks is ClosedThose bright lights behind Fazolis are my local Starbucks store.

Even Starbucks isn’t even open this early in the morning – do you need any more proof that no one should be out of bed at this ungodly hour?


After arriving at school we unloaded our luggage and realized we had an emergency – we’d forgotten the cooler with our healthy snacks and more importantly – my bottled Frappuccinos! Since we’d arrived on time or close enough to count, and the bus wasn’t scheduled to leave until 5:15, I had time to run back home for the cooler while Teacher loaded the bus.

Usually the trip between home and school takes about 15 minutes, but I made the round trip in 20 – without speeding! Much…


Chicago 2012 - On the BusApparently the traditional opening devotion and last minute announcements went quicker than usual, because everyone was headed toward the bus when I got back. The plan was to be on our way by 5:15, but it was only 5:00; we were early for a change.

Since Starbucks opens at 5:00am and is on the way I thought we should make a quick stop. Please? Pretty please? With sugar on top?


Chicago 2012 - Sigh No such luck. Instead we hit the highway and put the pedal to the metal.

Anyone else just have the song Convoy pop into their head? “Breaker 19, this here’s the Rubber Duckie…” I used to LOVE that song! When I was a kid my Dad had a CB that we’d listen to on long trips. His handle was Tiger Tie, and I it he was so cool when he’d get on the CB and talk with the truckers.

But I digress…


Chicago 2012 - Stopping at the OasisThe week before the trip I’d nonchalantly asked Chuck if he planned to stop at the Oasis above the highway that we’d stopped at last year. I admit I had an ulterior motive – the Oasis has a Starbucks!

I don’t know what his original plan was, but one of the students ended up getting carsick so we stopped at the Oasis for some Dramamine and to give her a little break from bus.


Chicago 2012 - Starbucks StoreCOFFEE!! I was civilized and didn’t plow down the customers and band students in front of me. But it wasn’t easy.


Chicago 2012 - Teacher with KindleWhile I was getting my caffeine fix Teacher took advantage of the free WiFi to update his Kindle.

Then it was time to be on our way. Look out Chicago, here we come!


More to come…
Amy Sue


  1. Oh no! Being up that early IS miserable. I hope you all do well at the competition 🙂

  2. I love your story and photos! They make me laugh… thanks so much! I don’t like early mornings, either… all the best for the competition

    • Jane,

      Thanks for the comment! I’m glad I could make you laugh. 🙂

      The competition went well, but that’s all I’m going to say for now. I hope you’ll come back to read about the rest of the trip – it was a blast!

      Thanks again for commenting,
      ~Amy Sue

  3. Hey good to know there are many people like me. I too hate early mornings:) There are my worst enemy. This is the reason why I always loo for jobs which do not start very early. Good to know that the competition went well.

  4. I like the story and the photos. This story reminds me of my daughter. She too hates early mornings and would always crib to wake up early. Now she has shifted for the sake of her job. Luckily she got a 10 to 5 job:)

    • Thanks! My older kiddos aren’t early morning people either, but the younger two are; I had to make a rule that they couldn’t come downstairs until 7:00 or they’d be down before 6:00! A 10 to 5 job sounds wonderful, but I’d probably still get up early to get my morning tidying done – I’m so used to the routine that I feel unsettled when I don’t do it. (OCD anyone?)

      Thanks for commenting,
      ~Amy Sue

  5. Reading Amy’s comment reminds me of my mother. She too is a person who loves to get up early. Once when we had gone for a holiday, she was the only one who got up by 5 in the morning. Everybody else was fast asleep. Finally by 6 she got bored and started waking us up!

    • Hailey,

      In my family it was my Dad who was always up early. Before he retired he was up by 6 every morning, now sometimes he’ll “sleep in” until 7, but not often.

      Thanks for taking time to comment!
      ~Amy Sue

  6. The title ‘Sleepless in Chicago’ reminds me of my favourite movie ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ and compelled me to read this post.
    I congratulate you for this terrific adventure.I am too not an early morning person like you and that made me appreciate your enthusiasm,vigour to get up so early and get on the ride.The pictures are lovely especially the Starbucks.I miss the coffee aroma so much being away from U.S.

    • Lea,

      I love “Sleepless in Seattle” too, which is why I used the movie title as inspiration for my post title. I always dread the early mornings, but the rest of the trip makes it worthwhile.

      Thanks for taking time to comment, it means a lot to me!
      ~Amy Sue

  7. My mother is an early bird and loves to get up early. I am just her opposite, I hate to get up early. Even if I had some work, I would not get up early. But now that I am married and have kids of my own, I think I should follow my mothers’ foot steps:)

  8. I loved this article. The way it has been presented is awesome. Looking at the pictures, I thought you guys were travelling in the night. But good lord 3.30 in the morning, seriously?? For me that time is mid night, not early morning. I too hate early mornings.

  9. I was a postgraduate student in the University of Chicago back in 2009.I adore and reminisce the early, chilly and foggy mornings of Chicago.I recollect myself either tugged under the warm sheets or jogging in the campus when it used to be still dark outside.And also cherish the memories of savouring coffee at StarBucks.The fresh aroma still lingers on my mind.Your post reminded me of those lovely memories welling up my eyes.

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