Friday, October 28, 2011

Fun, Fish, and Friends at the Shedd

DeKalb might be a lifetime ago, but some of our dearest friends still reside out in the corn. Since Emily is still asking for the green house, and cries because she misses home now and again, I've decided we can't go back to see our friends out there until we are nicely settled into our new home. In the meantime, our best friends Tim and Rachel and their cutie-pie daughter Anna met us downtown for a day at the Shedd. Tim and Rach very generously paid the admission for Emily and I as her birthday present, so I'd like to say thank you very much!

Ryan and I haven't been to the aquarium since we were kids, and let me tell you, the place has been remodeled into the coolest museum this family has ever enjoyed, hands down. The price tag is hefty, don't get me wrong, but its actually worth every penny. The adults felt like kids again as we marveled at creatures both large and small that we had no idea existed. The kids were in awe, seeing sharks and whales for their first time in their lives.

Emily really enjoyed the animals in the Amazon exhibit, which included fish (duh), snakes, even monkeys! Nora and I recounted Jack and Annie's adventures in the Amazon as we strolled that wing of the aquarium.

Since we didn't get to see Anna this summer, it was really amazing to see how much she has grown up over the past six months. Baby Anna has been replaced by a talking, intelligent, and engaging little girl! She was so excited by everything she saw, and it was really cool to see how comfortable Tim and Rachel have become in their roles as Dad and Mom.

I didn't take too many fish pics, because if you weren't there they'd be boring, but this thing is alive! Cool!

Nora correctly identified the Macaroni penguins at the Shedd from her penguin project last January. The girl has my father's memory.

Nora and Emily spent hours playing in the Yellow Submarine in the lower level of the aquarium. It was impossible to get Emily to leave without a tantrum, she loved it so much. Ryan and I are considering getting a membership to the Shedd because we've never seen Emily have more fun at an exhibit before. On the car ride home, we played Yellow Submarine by the Beatles, and Nora was amazed at the coincidence.

I didn't get any pics from the dolphin show, but I'm happy to report it didn't stink, and Nora didn't leave in tears. So thank you again to Tim, Rachel, and Anna, and hope to see you all again very soon!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Getting you all up to speed...

Hello one and all. For those of you that have been keeping up with us on Facebook, you know its been one hell of a roller coaster ride. Has it really been four months since I've blogged? Yes. Absolutely. And an awful lot can change in four months. I can say with certainty that our family is a very different family than the one that left DeKalb. But the butterfly is also very different from the caterpillar, and the changes we've experienced will help us learn to fly.

It is my intention to start blogging again on a regular basis, but before I do that, I'd like to do a blog montage of the summer to get you all caught up. As time goes on I may add some photo albums of these individual events, but this is what I can do in the meantime.

But enough of that (cue fast-paced montage music here)....

We moved in to our in-laws the first week of June. I would say the first six weeks are a blur in my mind. Unpacking, organizing, donating, throwing stuff away, reassembling furniture, painting the playroom, etc etc etc. This was a big time of transition for everyone. It was hard for the girls to differentiate between "Grandma's House", place of fun and lack of rules, and "home", a place where Mom and Dad do actually insist on both a bedtime and eating veggies. We adults also had a hard time figuring out how to run a home with two sets of parents. To be honest, we never did figure it out

Ryan settled in nicely to his new job as a consultant. Actually, he LOVES it. I am over the moon to see him so happy and productive. I had a hard time getting used to the fact that he wasn't home for lunch everyday, but now that he's fully trained he works from home some days, and has shortened hours on others (to make-up for the 12 hour days), so I feel like we spend a good amount of time together. The kids have noticed he's gone a lot more than he used to be, so the time they do spend together is more precious for all three of them. Bedtime stories are especially sweet (when the kids stay in bed LOL). Here is a pic of Ryan and Emily taken at Choo Choo Johnny's, a train themed restaurant that is a family favorite.

I traveled to Toronto this summer with my cousin Sierra and I met my newest best-friend, Rhondda Smiley. I feel like I've known her since forever. She welcomed me into her home, and we spent and amazing weekend listening to the teachings of Buddhist master Geshe Michael Roach and doing yoga. Sierra and I had a blast driving out to Canada, eh? I even made it into the Toronto Star! (OK, its the back of my head but that is still cool...millions of readers saw me looking at Geshe Michael! What they didn't see was my face, and the dippy-stupid-I-love-this-man grin).

Wednesday evenings in the summer were spent with my best friend of 23 years Lisa and her two children. Nora learned to play baseball, Emily didn't but had fun trying, and it has been great watching our children grow up together and form friendships that, hopefully, will be as strong as the friendship Lisa and I have. In this pic, we are at the zoo, a favorite hangout for the girls!

Although we miss our DeKalb friends terribly, it has been great being so close to our families again. The girls have spent more time with their aunts and cousins in the last four months than they have in the last four years combined. I'm not sure if we will ever be able to move much further from this area. I love my family so much, of course, but there is a closeness now that I didn't realize was missing until we came back. Here are Emily and Layla causing a bit of trouble...something those two are very good at!

Nora and Emily started at their new schools and love every second of it. I will have a separate post on their schooling, as there is so much to share. Both girls are natural learners, and it brings me so much joy to see them thrive in what is truly one of the best schools in the entire state.

We got an offer on the house. A lousy offer by some standards, but an offer is an offer! We are still waiting to see if we will be approved for the HAFA program through Citimortgage. If we are approved, the bank will likely accept the offer, and our credit will be bad but not for long. If the bank doesn't approve, we are still hoping to complete a deed-in-lieu. I personally hope that the offer is approved, because the man hoping to purchase owns a construction company. He builds neighborhoods for a living, and has all of the tools and the capital needed to turn my little falling apart bungalow into a really cute home for someone else. I think that would be good for the neighborhood, which needs all the help it can get. Ryan and I put our hearts into that place, and that effort should show, even if its not for us.

The biggest news which is best for last, is that Ryan and I officially converted to Buddhism. We took several sets of vows that have changed who we are forever. Some of the vows were administered here at home by Lama Claire and Lama Darin, and the last set we took were given in LA by Lama Cliff Spencer, the most amazing individual I've ever had the privilege of meeting. I am not going to say too much more here, because this blog is about the kids, and not our religious views per se. However, if you would like to know more about that aspect of our life, you can click the link for ACI-LA which is at the bottom of this page. Also note that I am the editor of the ACI-LA newsletter, so you can read some of my articles there. (And come on, it was LA!!! Do I really need to tell you we loved it????)

That is the summer in a nutshell. I should say, that is my happy version of the summer. Because in addition to the good times, there were some terrible times as well. As you know its my policy on here to not discuss health issues my parents or in-laws are facing, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. Days of happiness were clouded with worry, fear, and anxiety. I've struggled, and continue to struggle, with how to explain to the girls what is going on a manner that is age appropriate, that is truthful, and I've failed in a lot of respects. I'm beginning to think I haven't even been honest with myself. Other issues have arisen here in this very close living arrangement, and as of last night Ryan and I signed a lease to rent a townhouse in the neighboring town.

And a new chapter unfolds....