Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Forgotten Provo Pics

I came upon these pictures that I'd forgotten to post, and felt that they deserved to be posted, shared, and remembered.

I love this picture of Evan: look of concentration, bumgenius diaper showing, trying to put the keys in the ignition, attempting to drive Daddy's truck.

It's hard to get Evan to sit and eat. He'll eat for a little while, and then get down. One day he snuck back to the table after lunch and grabbed the dish of green beans and the serving spoon, and finished his lunch in the comfort of the living room, where the boys had spread out all of their toys :)
The BYU newspaper printed coupons for McDonalds' new All-Fruit smoothies. Who can resist a free smoothie? Thomas visited the newspaper stands, and the recycling bins near the stands, and got a stack of over twenty newspapers with the coupons. We spent a few minutes clipping coupons, and the next few weeks enjoying smoothies. Evan especially loved them!

This is a classic brotherly love picture. Evan has a scratch on his back from who knows what, but if you look closely above it, you can see Parker's hand print on Evan's back. Parker had slapped him, and then Evan came running to us crying. I don't think Parker hit Evan all that hard, but the boys have our sensitive skin, where any contact shows up. Parker still got a time out though, and the incident hasn't been repeated! They still fight... but no more slapping!

Last night in Provo

Mike decided to kidnap us and take us on a drive the night before we left Provo. It was beautiful! We didn't get too many pictures because it was getting dark, and we were trying to keep Evan out of the water, but it was gorgeous, and fun!

And, the boys were tired out!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Week Two in Chicago, and Week One in North Chicago

Being new to the city, we thought the most direct route to the zoo would be the best. The apartment wasn't very far from the road the zoo is on, and it was only a few miles. But, Wrigley Stadium is also on Clark Street, and it took us much longer to get there than anticipated. Thomas snapped this picture while we were stopped in traffic. Getting to the zoo was one thing, finding parking was another! We drove around forever looking for a spot, and then surrendered to the need to pay for parking. The paid parking on the street was still less expensive than the zoo parking would have been. Unfortunately though, our adventures in getting to the zoo had taken longer than expected, and so we only got to go in a few of the buildings before they closed at five. We still had a lot of fun though!

Evan loved all of the apes, monkeys, and chimps. He called them all "Mokey!" And I didn't have the heart to correct him. He was adorable!

The second favorite attraction was the ducks... The zoo has a beautiful section of streams and bridges with ducks, swans, etc.

The owner of the apartment has cleaning ladies come every two weeks, and we got to benefit from their amazing skills! We thought it was cute how they put the boys' beds together. Parker was sleeping on his mattress on the floor, and Evan in his little bed.

We spent a lot of time driving between Chicago and North Chicago while we were looking at houses. Although the distance is only about 40 miles or so, the drive can take anywhere between 40 minutes and two hours. Needless to say, the boys weren't very happy during the times when we were trapped in slow traffic on the interstate, going less than thirty miles an hour, and surrounded by cars as far as we could see.

We had fun during our second week in Chicago, going to playgroup at the local church, and spending a lot of time house hunting. We didn't end up finding a suitable house, but the apartment complex next to Thomas' school significantly lowered their rent, and so we snatched one of the last apartments there.

Our last week in Chicago was orientation for Thomas. He took the truck down and moved a load at a time from the storage unit into our apartment. We met him for bowling one night, and Parker loved it! He enjoyed throwing the ball (pushing it across the floor, really), seeing the pins fall down, and eating pizza. He was so adorable. After he threw the ball he would squat down at the edge of the lane and watch until he saw the ball hit and the pins fall down. It could take awhile too, since he didn't push the ball with that much force, but he was so patient. After each turn, no matter how many pins fell, he would get so excited and give Thomas a high five and a hug, and jump up and down. "I'm really good at bowling," he kept saying over the next few days. It was adorable. Evan was a terror... he just wanted to steal everyone's balls and push them willy nilly. He also kept trying to run down the lane. We all drove back to Wrigleyville together, leaving the truck at our new apartment.

Thomas had unloaded the boys' toys into their room, and we'd shown them the new place. Parker had been apprehensive about moving, but as soon as he saw all those toys that he hadn't seen in weeks, he was ok with it. He didn't want to go back to Wrigleyville... but there was the Wii there! Since Thomas was driving the car to orientation, and the stroller was in North Chicago as well, the boys and I were trapped in that fantastic apartment. But, we had books, and toys, and the Wii. Parker loved "playing" Mario Kart. He would hold the extra steering wheel, and pretend to drive with me. When I wasn't playing with Thomas, I did a lot better, but still couldn't master the courses like Wario's mine where the carts can fall off the side. I spent most of those tracks falling off. If one of those would come up, I would say, "Oh, Parker, I'm not very good at this one!" And Parker would reassure me, "It's ok Mommy. I'm really good at this one!" As long as we finished the race, Parker would cheer "Yay! We won!" Adorable. It was the only time I've ever enjoyed playing video games!

Welcome to North Chicago

Our new apartment is on the second floor, but we're on a corner, and are right across from the laundry. It's been working out really well, and we're really enjoying having Thomas able to come home for lunch. It takes about three minutes for him to walk to school. It means we actually see him! He can home home, and then easily get back to campus for quiet study time.

Our apartment complex has a little playground: a few swings that are so low Parker's feet drag (which is perfect because then he can sit and swing on it without danger of falling so far) and a slide that takes effort to go down. The best thing about this little "playground" is that it's a good place to meet other moms and kids. One of the other mom's told us about a fantastic playground about a mile south on our road, and the boys and I went last week for a picnic.

Parker had slipped and bumped his head and shoulder, and was crying, so Evan came up to him, threw out his arms, and said "hug!" then wrapped his arms around his older brother. It was adorable, so I asked them to do it again. The replay wasn't quite as cute as the original, but still picture worthy :)

The highlight of the playground is this "boat." There are low walls, a ladder going up to the steering wheel and mast, and then a little cabin behind the stairs. There's more slide and tunnel equipment, a seesaw, lots of swings, a little three walled cabin with a table and benches, a toddler dinosaur slide and ladder thing (you can see it in the background) We had a lot of fun, and played for several hours. Then we went to a new grocery store to buy milk, etc.

The grocery store had the strangest set up I'd ever seen! It had everything in it you could have wanted, but was organized by ethnicity, not types of food. The produce section was enormous, and had some vegetables I didn't even know the name of. The rest of the store was divided into aisles by Asian food, Latin Food, Italian food, Turkish food, etc. It was so hard to find anything, since there were different kinds of rice, pasta, and beans in every aisle. The boys were good though. We got some Ovaltine to encourage Parker to drink milk. He loves it... even diluted :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Week One in Chicago

Well, we survived the 21 (actually ended up being about 23 or so) hour drive, and arrived in Chicago. What an adventure! The priests in our ward back in Provo helped us load up our U-Haul on Tuesday, then we spent Wednesday and then Thursday morning finishing up, and loading the U-Haul, car, and truck. We'd originally planned on leaving on Wednesday, but there's a lot more work to moving than we'd anticipated! Thomas also wanted to make sure to spend some more time with the young men, and his family, and I'd wanted to take the boys up to Salt Lake for my nephew Asher's second birthday. We may not have gotten everything done that we'd wanted, but at least we did that! I know my mom was glad to have the extra day. Mike had actually told us Wednesday morning that he wouldn't be too upset if we stayed an extra night :) But, I think they were ready for us to be gone by Thursday afternoon! Our neighbor across the street kept the boys at her house while we finished up. Finally, around 1 something, we were ready to go! Thomas drove the U-Haul, towing the car, and I had the boys in the truck. They were actually fabulous during the drive. Evan actually fell asleep before we got to the canyon! We hooked up the laptop, and so the boys watched Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Cars, and Finding Nemo... It's so strange to listen to movies! But, it kept them entertained. We also had lots of books, snacks, etc. We actually didn't drive that far Thursday before stopping. We'd stopped for dinner where there was a McDonald's play place. The boys had so much fun climbing up in the tunnels. We were pretty exhausted after dinner, and so we decided to stop there instead of pushing on to the next big town. We found a quiet little motel run by the sweetest old lady, and had an early night so that we could get an early start and a full day of driving on Friday.

We got going early Thursday morning, and then stopped a few hours later for breakfast. We had to stop a lot more to let the boys run around and get their energy out. It helped. It also helped that we brought a can of green beans and a can opener for snacks... Those boys are crazy about their vegetables, and room-temperature green beans are the preference! We also had lots of water bottles... so Evan spent much of the trip wet from dumping the bottles on himself. Parker was actually really helpful though: giving Evan snacks, his nuks, blankets, toys, or whatever he needed. Unfortunately, that helpfulness seemed to end the first week in Chicago... but more on that later.

My mom made reservations at a hotel for us Friday night at a hotel with a pool, breakfast, and that was just off the freeway. Unfortunately, we'd missed a key element of the directions, and ended up lost in the residential areas. We went down what we thought was a street, but what ended up being a narrow parking lot for an apartment complex. It took over an hour for Thomas to get the U-Haul out. He had to detach the car, and thankfully a resident came out and helped Thomas back out. The poor boys were miserable! But, Thomas got out ok, and we found the hotel no problem, once we had the right directions. We got to the hotel a little before 10:30pm, and so had half an hour before the pool closed. It was absolutely perfect. The boys loved the time in the pool, and then their baths. We ordered a pizza, and then fell asleep. Pizza delivered after a long day is one of the most delicious meals I think I've ever experienced. The boys loved it too. The hotel had wireless, so the boys watched an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse online, and then fell asleep. We discovered that the boys love Fruit Loops the next morning, and then got on the road. It wasn't too full a day of driving until we hit Chicago. We stopped by a ward party for one of the Gurnee wards (where we'll probably be once we move closer to school) at around 7, and followed several people over to the storage unit where they helped us unload the U-Haul, truck, and car. Some of the men are fellow podiatry students at Rosalind Franklin, so it was nice to talk with them. Once the truck was unloaded, I took the boys over to a park to play on the playground to keep them out of trouble. They had a lot of fun finally playing. I loved feeling the humidity. It's not nearly as bad as New York, let alone the South, so I find it refreshing! I also love how much better Evan's hair curls! After we got the storage unit packed up, we headed out towards Chicago and the apartment we're renting until we find something more permanent. The last few miles definitely were the most trying! Thomas thought it would be easiest to take the most direct roads, the toll roads, and we got our cash ready accordingly. Unfortunately, the tolls were not attended booths, and required exact change. Thankfully the city has a website to pay missed tolls, and we were able to take care of our missed tolls online at the public library a few days later, well within the seven day time stipulation. Driving in Chicago in a loaded up truck was a little crazy, but Thomas found a place to park, and we unloaded the boys, who promptly fell asleep on the couches in the living room. Thomas moved the cars, and unloaded all our stuff.

The apartment here is amazing! It's fully furnished (which is why our stuff's in the storage unit) and is absolutely gorgeous! It's going to be hard to leave the master bathroom with its jacuzzi and granite counters and double sinks, and the kitchen with its stainless appliances... I'm still afraid to drive in Chicago though, so I make Thomas drive every time we go anywhere. We do have the internet now though, so that makes figuring out public transportation a little easier!

We called my mom Sunday morning to help us find a church building, and located one about four miles away, with a ward that meets at 1, but it still took us over half an hour to drive that four miles in some crazy traffic. We've since discovered better routes! Thankfully Evan's fallen asleep on the way to church the past two Sundays :)

We started looking at houses in North Chicago on Tuesday, and actually found one we really like. Unfortunately, we just found out its a short sale property, so it may take longer than we'd like to get it... we'll look in some other cities that are farther away! Hey, it's only been a week; we'll find something!

We went to the ward's play group on Wednesday morning at 11: they meet every week, which will be fantastic for while we're here. There are really some fantastic people here, and I talked to one woman on Sunday who has a little girl almost Parker's exact age, and she lives right around the corner! We also went to the ward Luau on Saturday, which was fun. We did leave early though, because the boys have been on a fantastic schedule. They've been waking up around seven every morning, and so going to bed early too. All it took to get them back on track was a drive of a few thousand miles :) Parker's actually been really good about going to his bed and going to sleep when he's tired, and he stays in his bed all night... finally! I'm not sure what did it, but after our first night here, he stopped coming into our room at night. I love it! I didn't mind cuddling with him at night, but I was always too tired to put him back in his bed, and now we don't have to worry about it! Such a big boy. He has been having a tough time adjusting to a new place though, and Evan's been hitting his head on the floor again when he's mad. They're having a harder time playing with other kids, and have been a little more aggressive than usual this past week. It's getting better, but even Parker's been throwing an occasional temper tantrum. The first few days he begged us to go back to our "real home," but now he's getting used to "Ah-Cago" he just doesn't like looking at other houses: he wants to stay here now. Poor guy. He'll be glad to have the rest of his toys back once we do get into the new house though!

We have our library cards, and will look into getting into some of the museums too: free museum passes with library cards! Today we've stayed at home all day though: it's been dark and windy, getting ready to rain.

Well, that's the update for the past week!
The boys have definitely been very... attached... to each other!