I am a day late with my Monday post this week because I was busy celebrating Anne’s birthday yesterday.

Yes, Anne’s birthday was back in January, but this weekend she got the birthday present that was promised back then: a trip to Chicago and the American Girl store.

She was anticipating this trip, but it wasn’t scheduled to happen until later this month. But last week, Mike and I decided to surprise her, so Sunday after I taught Kids’ Church, Anne and I left for Chicago. It was her first trip there (and my first trip driving there on my own). She was blown away by the size of the buildings and the number of people on Michigan Avenue. She told me she felt so small. She held my hand as we walked around because she was a little scared. But overall she was just excited – we were staying on the 19th floor of a hotel and the pool was on the 30th floor and it was all so exciting for her.

We saw Chicago from the John Hancock Observatory and she took tons of pictures. We ate Chicago-style pizza from Giordanos – she said it was the best pizza she has ever eaten. We took a two-day hiatus from our sugar fast and she enjoyed Hershey’s Chocolate Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory.

And then, we spent most of Monday at American Girl Place. The girl was in her element. She found her doll – Julie from 1974 (which was a good year – my birth year!) – got Julie’s accessories, bunny, and a couple changes of clothes. She got her picture taken so it looks like the cover of American Girl Magazine. She got Julie’s hair done at the salon. We had a wonderful four-course meal with Julie. And we did all of this on Anne’s schedule. We looked at what she wanted to look at for as long as she wanted to look at it. We sat and she changed Julie’s clothes while we waited for our van from the valet. We took pictures – lots of them. We just had a wonderful time together.

At the end of the trip, Anne told me that it was more than she had even dreamed about. It was so much fun, and so big, and so much more than she could have imagined. Her dream of a trip to Chicago with her mom and getting her American Girl doll had more than come true.

And so had mine. Only my dream was different. Mine was just to enjoy the time with my daughter. Talking together, playing together, laughing together, sharing together, and making memories together. And I got all of that and more.

On the way home yesterday, Anne was picking music on the iPod and she picked a song that we both love, but she picked it purposefully this time. And then sang a portion of it as she looked at me. And an even bigger dream of mine came true – my daughter communicating with me in a way that I communicate – through music that is heartfelt and comes from deep down.

Needless to say, I had the best day. šŸ™‚

How are you making memories with those that you love?