oh becca & kenna, don’t you ever grow up. it could stay this simple.

As I rode back from Midway Airport early Tuesday morning, I turned on the Becca & Kenna playlist that my weekend guests made me only to find myself crying happy tears as Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift played.  After spending a weekend with my 18-year old cousin, Becca, and her best friend, Kenna, I couldn’t help but wonder where the time went.  When did my little cousin grow up?  Is she really going to college in a few weeks?  And how is she old enough to be talking about boys with me?  As I pondered these questions, my mind when through a montage of memories from the previous weekend and how A*MAY*ZING it truly was. 

For those of you who don’t personally know me, led me shed some light on the events leading up to my guests’ arrival.  Last December, my cousin, Becca, traveled from Atlanta to perform with her high school band.  Spending limited time with Becca due to her travel schedule, I invited her back to Chicago (since she expressed her love for it!) during the summer after graduation/before college began.  She willingly accepted and we decided to extend the invitation to her best friend, Kenna, too. 

Last Saturday morning, I woke up early to venture down to Midway Airport to pick up the college girls!  To be honest, I had no idea what the weekend would entail but so excited to find out!

Somewhere on the train between Midway and our stop we decided to conduct a photo scavenger hunt over the course of the next three days.  The first photo taken was of the girls in front of the first Starbucks that their path crossed.  (Note: We ended up passing/seeing 15 and taking a photo at each.)  We eventually headed back to my apartment to change and get ready for lunch with our other cousin, Kelly, (who was also in town) and her friends.  After some pizza at Giardano’s and more photos, we embarked on some shopping on Michigan Avenue and a stop at Garrett’s for popcorn.  Shortly after we decided to call it an early night- since these ladies were up at 4 am ET!!- and headed home to watch a movie.

Sleeping in on Sunday morning, we began our day perfectly with Panera bagels and Starbucks coffee before venturing around the neighborhood towards a few destinations.  Just like the previous day, we had no set plans; however, the girls were really interested in finding the production company of (their crush), Glee’s Darren Criss.  Unfortunately they were (apparently) only in Chicago temporarily, but that didn’t stop us from taking photos in front of their one-time theater, as well as The Gap, which all Gleeks know as the place of Blaine’s serenation.  And since we were in the area, we headed over to Wrigley Field before taking a trip to Navy Pier.  Before we knew it, we  were hungry again and I knew just the place to take my guests: Wilde’s!   After a hearty meal at my favorite neighborhood bar/restaurant, we headed back to lounge around in our pjs and rest up for another day around town.

Following another breakfast of bagels & caffeine, the girls and I jumped on the train to visit two of my favorites: Michelle & Max!  After playing hard-to-get for a little while, the world’s most adorable toddler finally came around and enjoyed playing with his new girlfriends.  And boy did they love him!!  As Max opting for play time instead of nap time- who can blame him?- we headed off to Millenium Park to show the girls “The Bean”.  And while he was a little intimidated by it a few weeks ago, Max as entertained as any other tourist.  I think it’s safe to say that the girls have fun but mostly enjoyed being in the company of this little heart-throb. (Honestly, it’s impossible not to fall in love with him.  Surrender now.)  Lucky for us, our time with Max wasn’t over because the wonderful Michelle invited the girls & me over for dinner.  In my opinion it was the perfect end to the weekend.  There was just something so special about watching them play peek-a-boo with Max.  Especially Becca.  Having known her since she was a toddler and now watching her with another who is like family to me, I just had such an indescribable feeling come over me.

So this now takes us to the ride to the airport on Tuesday morning.  Thinking about last weekend makes me realize how simple life used to be when we were kids- even teenagers.  When did life get so complicated?  While I am thrilled for Becca & Kenna to begin the next chapter of their lives in college, I am also filled with reservations because I don’t want them to grow up and lose the innocence that I witnessed within them.  I want them to avoid all of life’s complications and cherish the little things.  I want them to live simply and simply live.  I want them to remain young at heart instead of cold from the harsh realities.  I want so much for them, but above all things I really just want them to be happy.  This past week I saw happiness shine through them and their friendship; and based on the lessons I’ve learned, that is something that should always be cherished.

*This post is dedicated to Becca & Kenna.  May you both always know that you have a second home in Chicago as well as a cousin/ friend forever.

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