Monday, August 16, 2010

The Luxury of Time Together

holy experience

Troy arrived home on Saturday evening and we've been enjoying family time again.

193. Recognizing pettiness in my soul and choosing not to give in.
194. A good night's sleep before the first day of school.
195. A boy who is happy about Walmart shoes.
196. Squeaky clean dishes.
197. The pull-out sprayer on the kitchen sink faucet.
198. Wireless printing.
199. how gratitude breeds gratitude.
200. A cute sweater-coat for my slim girl.
201. Arctic orange milk-shake from McDonalds on a hot, muggy day.
202. Pretty cards and stationery.
203. Stamps I can buy almost anywhere.
204. Finding the closest mailbox.
205. A cold drink of water on a hot day.
206. Tiny clip-on book lights instead of lamps.
207. People who took the time to encourage my daughter on her first day of school.
208. The kids got through their first week of school!
209. Responsiveness of the teachers at school to Nic's special needs.
210. Hubby safely home.
211. Our shipment  didn't come while Troy was gone.
212. Target and Home Depot with my hubby.
213. A daughter who offers to cook dinner for us on our anniversary.
214. The loan of a car while we save some money to buy our own.
215. A daughter who sends e-cards to her parents for their anniversary.
216. A fun preliminary interview.
217. Friends who come over with food, candles, spices and a card.
218. The brand-new iron still works (for now) even after I dropped it on the floor.
219. NINETEEN years of wedded bliss.
220. A boy who brings his dirty laundry upstairs and puts it in the laundry sorter in the right spot, with an occasional clarification from Mom.
221. Being able to get as many spare keys as I'm willing to pay for.

Friday, August 13, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday #6

  1. We survived the first week of school! So far it seems to be going pretty well. Meg is breezing through her math class, so maybe she'll get moved to the "gifted" program. We shall see. I requested a meeting with the 5th grade teaching team to make sure they are all aware of Nic's issues and they have already scheduled one so I was gratified about the quick response.
  2. I had a really enjoyable interview today at North Park University. It was only preliminary and it will probably be a couple of weeks before I will hear about any next steps, but I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with the two great women who interviewed me. It's in God's hands; but I would love this job!
  3. In a happy surprise, I got a 10 YEAR green card in the mail today! I was expecting to have a one-year thing that I would have to renew, but it's all shiny and good until 2020. It also came with a protective envelope "to protect from wireless communication with it"? Yikes! I don't even know what that means! Do you think that means I can use it to check Facebook? :)
  4. It seems our shipment is headed via rail to Chicago and should arrive in the next couple of days. We are praying that Customs in Chicago will not request a physical exam of it and that perhaps we could have it early next week. It appears that trucking and delivery is indeed arranged, although surprise surprise we only have TWO hours to empty the container. We will be asking pretty much anyone we know in Chicago for help :)
  5. Next week should be a GREAT week. It includes our 18th wedding anniversary, a visit from my Dad and hopefully the delivery of all our bubble-wrapped belongings :)
  6. So I signed up for this thing call Swagbucks where you get points for searching the internet and other ways. I'm interested to see how it will go, but considering how often I look for something online, it seemed like it was worth a try!
  7. I saved the best for last! Troy comes home tomorrow after being away for 12 days. We are all very happy that everything will be back the way it should be soon!
Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just another morning

it's steamy already, I can feel it
even in the house with air conditioning on
happy dog at the end of the leash,
hoping today will be the day
she finally catches a squirrel
we walk to school
kids ahead,
dog and I lagging behind
to read the morning dog paper.

On the sidewalk by school
3 girls cluster
one with big fat tears on her cheek
the other girls chatter protectively
trying to get something out of her
I look at my own
the talling slim one
that allows a goodbye kiss
but will not kiss me in return
not at school's door

I hope that when troubles come
it'll be me
standing on the sidewalk
watching her cry

home again
dog blissfully sacked out on the cool floor
just another day
just another beautiful day

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Blue Behemoth of a Chair

Since we are still waiting for our stuff, (as far as I know, it's sitting in New Jersey, waiting to go through customs) we have a scarce hodge-podge of furniture. We have four tall stools at the island in the kitchen, four borrowed folding chairs and a "butterfly" camping chair, (thanks, Prosise family! :) ) one desk, three bed-side tables, three mattresses and two blow-up mattresses. Charming, I'm sure.

Recently we checked out a well-known thrift store in Chicago, the Brown Elephant. We found a big old rocker/recliner that would work well in Meaghan's room (although for now it's in the living room and we all fight over whose turn it is) and it was only $18, so we bought it.

Then, we took the bus back home, and reserved the only I-Go car that was available near us, a Prius. Troy drove it to pick up said chair.

Man, that chair was massive. I looked out the window to see Troy backing into a spot, with the chair in the back, and the back hatch door of the Prius wide open. As in, straight up. He had indeed driven home with it open because it was the only way the chair would fit. It's a good thing I wasn't with him, or I would have protested, and then there would have been an argument discussion and no good would have come of it.

Then we had to haul that chair up the stairs into our apartment. This thing was HEAVY. I thought I was going to break a bone on the way up the stairs, or drop the chair on Troy and send him plummeting to his death, squashed, for the sake of $18.

He looked up at me, raised an eyebrow and said "I think we are going to need help moving our stuff in."

And I was like, "Well, DUUUUUH!"

For your viewing pleasure, I present to you, the blue chair.


The end.

Monday, August 9, 2010

1000 Gifts


Back in March, I started my own list of 1000 gifts, but I wanted gratitude to become a way of life for our whole family. When we arrived here in Chicago, I bought a notebook from Staples (recycled from sugar cane waste no less! :) ) It sits on the island in our kitchen and it's there for anyone in our family (or anyone else that comes into our home) to record their gratitude.


131. Gas stoves with bottom broilers.
132. Corn on the cob!
133. MintOreos.
134. Coffee creamer in yummy flavorts.
135. Recycled (pretty) notebooks at Staples.
136. Gel pens.
137. The time to be able to help our friends by cleaning their apartment.
138. The promise of a picnic in our house with our friends the Thompsons on Monday (this got postponed several times, so I was even MORE thankful when it happened!)
139. Going to O'Hare on Friday to get Mary.
140.Netflix streamed on the Wii.
141. Ice maker in the freezer (Troy)
142. Happy to see Mary!!!! (Lisa)
143. Yeah! Kristen and Dan married. (Lisa)
144. Happy Heather and Troy are in Chicago. (Lisa)
145. Good friends and good food. (Lisa)
146. Lunchables. (Mary?)
147. Aldi just down the street. (Troy)
148. Fixing Nic's toy with him. (Troy)
149. No flooded basement. (Troy)
150. Having an update on our shipment. (Troy)
151. The public library that's just a walk away. (Troy)
152. Meeting new people in the neighborhood: Mary, Pat, David, Jerry, Jim, Tracy, Carl, Dylan. (Troy)
153. Long conversations with Joseph from the Czech Republic. (Troy)
154. Being able to use a car and get around easily these past few weeks. (Troy)
155. Wifi. (Troy)
156. The fact that Lexi is settled into a routine now. (Troy)
157. Friendly people when we registered Nic & Meg for school. (Troy)
158. Good customer service. (Troy)
159. Meg's $18 armchair. (Troy)
160. Lots of visiting friends. (Troy)
161. A family that works together. (Troy)
162. Fireflies. (me again now)
163. Evening walks with my hubby and the dog.
164. Learning to be OK with giving up dreams.
165. Intercom phones so I don't have to yell downstairs.
166. A leisurely stroll through the grocery store on my own.
167. A daughter interested in learning to cook.
168. Dads and son who cook dinner too. :)
169. A Staples store right next to our house. (I think she has my addiction :) ) (Meaghan)
170. Long phone calls to friends.
171. Phone calls from my Dad in Brazil.
172.Thrift-store place-mats.
173. Jammie days.
174. A husband who cackles while he does dishes.
175. The simple pleasure of smooth ink against the page.
176. Collecting addresses in my book like treasures.
177. Thank you for your use of your fabulous washer & dryer. (My friend Sabrina after they got 4 feet of water in their basement.)
178. For a school to walk to. (Meaghan)
179. For friends who USE the phone number you send them :)
180. For being chosen.
181. The disappointments that help you grow up and get over yourself a little more.
182. Three buck Chuck.
183. Only a few more days until Troy is home.
184. The impending excitement of our shipment arriving (maybe next week?)
185. Dinner with my Uncle Ian and Aunt Faye who we haven't seen for 10 years!
186. That we all survived the first day of school.
187. Central AC (first time I've EVER lived in a place with it, but it sure helps with the humidity!)
188. An impending visit from my Dad.
189. A car to borrow until October or maybe even February!
190. The Minnesota State Fair over Labor Day weekend.
191. Internet radio.



holy experience


For more thoughtful gratitude, visit Ann at Holy Experience.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

On the Brink

Cliff Diver, originally uploaded by Soller Photo.
It took us many months, many conversations, many tears, much wrestling, to decide to move back to America. So many things to consider.

Tomorrow, my kids start school at a new school. It's K-8 and it has 1011 students. Their last school had less than 100.

It's a huge leap for them. As a Mom, I long to be able to go with them, help them figure things out, smooth over the awkward moments, the misunderstandings, the obvious gaps in their history and that of their new classmates.

But that's what parenting is all about, isn't it? You teach them the best you can while they are in the nest. And then you stand with them, at the edge of the nest, and you smile at them with radiant hope, and you tell them, with wholehearted faith, and confidence

"Fly! I know you can do it. And I'll be here, when you land again."

They are on the brink.

So is my heart.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Over the river and through the woods, to the library we shall go

It's a luxury for us to have a library we can walk to. After years in Spain, we're all still a bit giddy about the magic of it. Even the journey is fun. Walk with us...


Up our street


Along the path by the river




Toward "Emerald Bridge"







Over the bridge, where the river has dropped from flood levels but is
still faster and deeper than when we first arrived.



Past "Squirrel Playground"
  




Past the Jewish high school



The library is a hushed treasure chest of things we can only imagine. You can actually check out magazines! We return our books in an orderly and respectful manner. Of all the people we have encountered in Chicago, we have found the library staff to be the crankiest, or perhaps the most apathetic. They acted like the Gestapo when I tried to get my card, and I had to bring them 3 different pieces of mail before they were satisfied and gave me a real, longer than 3-weeks-valid card. Maybe we will bring them some brownies some day to see if we can sweeten their dispositions.

The kids go to their side to find treasures like Horrible Harry and the Dragon War and Anastasia (for Meg wants to know how much of the movie is realistic and how much is hype.) I take a few magazines, still wondering if there is a limit of how many. So far they have not stopped me! Some days I browse books in an orderly fashion, some days I look for spines that catch my eye. Some days I look for familiar authors. One of these days I will be brave and feature to request a book from another branch. It seems like this should be too much of an inconvenience, but no, you can do it online.

By the time I am ready to go, my big boy has already checked his books out, solemnly handing over his card and putting his books in his green library tote. When I check mine stack out, one of the apathetic ones hands me Nic's printed "receipt" and says, could it be, with the smallest of grins "This belongs to your son."

We wander home again, with our green totes. I have craftily affixed velcro to the pockets of them so that our library cards cannot fall out and get lost (I can only imagine the response of the cranky ones if we dare to lose our cards!)





7 Quick Takes Friday #5


  1. I haven't done a Quick Takes FOREVER! This is the first one I have done since moving back to Chicago so perhaps it should be extravagant. :) But don't hold your breathe! I am choosing to be cheerful today when tempted to feel sorry for myself that many people I love are gathering in Germany for our mission's annual conference. Including my hubby. Our kids start school here on Monday, so there no way we could be there, but it's still sad.
  2. We are still "camping" in our apartment, which makes housecleaning a breeze :) Hardly anything to move around when I need to clean :) Here are some photos of our new place: Click here
  3. I feel very scattered at the moment, like I am on the brink of so many things but am just teetering there. I know that will subside once the kids start school, and once our household goods are here and I can actually organize.
  4. I am well aware though, that our household goods arriving will be bittersweet. I will be very happy to have a couch to sit on again, but I know I won't enjoy having to find a spot for everything. I'm sure there will be moments of "Why on earth did we ship this?" :)
  5. I am so grateful for the ease of life here though. If I need something, I can have it mailed. To me. No customs, no hassle :) There are so many conveniences here that seems sublime after life overseas.
  6. I am amazed by the frequency and persistence of telemarketers! I have registered for the do-not-call list, and I screen my calls, but it's amazing how many there are! 
  7. All in all, it feels good to be living in Chicago. Let the games begin!
More more Quick Takes, visit Jenn by clicking on the photo above!

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Finally Blogging Again

    I'm still alive! :) We have been in Chicago for more than a month now, but I only just got my computer repaired, so I had been feeling pretty stifled without my lappy :) But now I am back!

    I toyed with the idea of starting an altogether new blog, but I think I'll stay here. I am sure I am "between" a lot of things. Sometimes, between a rock and a hard place :) Certainly between all manner of other things. I did give the new blogger template design thingy a whirl. We'll see how long it takes before I get bored and start messing with my template again!

    So here's to beginning again...
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