Friday, May 20, 2011

Sweet Home Chicago

I know, it took a long time to follow up on the previous post... Note to self: Don't plan on writing on the road (or while trying to move in to a new place).

First things first, I delivered a nice load of supplies to the tornado victims in Cleveland, TN. Delivering some much needed tarps, bleach, paper towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toothpaste, a tent, batteries, pet food and other needed items was very fulfilling though in a different way than I expected. There was no welcoming committee and I didn't really get to see the damaged area so much, but there were real people (the real heroes) receiving and distributing these supplies to families of their high school. I am very happy we were able to help these people out, there were over a thousand people in the area with homes no longer habitable. I want to offer a big thanks to the people of Lakeland, GA, my friends and family who helped make it happen. The recipients were truly grateful and passed along their sincere thanks for the assistance.

I spent one night with my father and his wife in the Chattanooga area where I enjoyed some great conversation, good pizza and music and some cold beer. The next day I pressed on and made it back to Chicago that night. It was wonderful to see VeeVee and J Bean after several days away. I had talked with them on the phone several times daily, each time I spoke with J Bean she requested I "sing the Mowgli song" (aka: The Bare Necessities from Jungle Book) which was quite fitting considering the relief efforts I was involved in while away. The next morning we tackled the job of finalizing our packing, loading the truck with our Chicago apartment junk stuff, and meeting our movers for the unloading into our new fourth floor walk-up. I have to say, I am very happy we decided to use some movers for that Herculean task... had I been left to do that alone with my friend's help we would probably still be unloading and I would probably be without said friend. I'm sure the money spent was less than my potential hospital bills had I lugged our belonging up the steep flights of stairs to our new place. Since then we have been unpacking, shopping for new furniture, buying a new car and assembling new furniture; hence the delay in this post. Still plenty to do, just wanted to update everyone a little and work on getting back into the new "normal" for our new place. We love the space and have some great neighbors in our building, but we are working to get used to the new sounds of our fresh digs and learning about some of the other weird strange thuggish exotic new neighborhood and surroundings. This is what Chicago neighborhoods are all about, diversity and the good and bad that go with living in a new up and coming area. We are happy to find some great food in the area, some interesting Mom and Pop places and to make some new friends while less ecstatic about some of the crime, barking dogs and undesirable elements of our new place.

J Bean is adjusting well and progressing with toilet training with no setbacks after the move. In fact, she seems to be taking the stress and the new surroundings better than VeeVee, myself or the cat. She has particularly enjoyed shopping for and exploring our new vehicle. We bought a 2010 Ford Flex and we are very happy with the vehicle so far. It has 3rd row seats, which VeeVee was adamant about (perhaps she is expecting triplets I don't know about yet??) and all the gadgets it takes to make me happy. It's kind of like a mobile man cave, I'm very pleased with the ride so far and J Bean loves having enough room in the back to have a dance party while I learn how to use the on-board computer system and how to Sync this vehicle with our mobile devices. Very Star Trekkish I must say. Actually, I am dictating this blog post from the cabin of my new ride where it will be spell-checked and formatted for publishing (that's not true... though it may be a feature I just have not learned about yet, wouldn't surprise me). Anyway, hope everyone is having a great day and that you all have a pleasurable weekend!

Monday, May 2, 2011

From the north to the south and back again...

I’m in the back of a new Dodge Caravan being chauffeured from Jacksonville to my hometown 2 hours away. The ride costs less than a one way rental car and works well with my plan to rent a truck this week and schlep across the country with the rest of our belongings as we make our move to Chicago more permanent. Seems odd to call it permanent as we have been in Chi-town for over 2 years now, but we always thought our departure was imminent. Along with some added job security for VeeVee and our family, we’ll finally be moving out of our one bedroom shoebox (albeit a shoebox with one helluva great location and view) and out into a real Chicago neighborhood and a 3 bedroom, 2 bath monstrosity of an apartment. I’m looking forward to all the new amenities (In unit washer and dryer! Key the hallelujah choir music!).

It’s been an interesting few years watching J Bean grown from… well, a bean… to a little girl. She’s now 2 and half and remains the light of every day I get to spend with her. The changes in her ability to move about and in communicating with us never cease to amaze. Today, while leaving my family (for the first time more than a few hours away more than just one night since we first moved to the second city) I found myself faced with a big lump in my throat.  I was feeling apprehension about leaving them, will they be safe? Will I? Will VeeVee be prepared for the days on end without my support? As with other jobs, we stay-home parents tend to over-estimate our irreplaceability in our roles.  Once I made it to the airport, the worries started to melt away and after having spoken with VeeVee and J Bean on the phone twice already (I’ve been gone only 7 hours at the time I wrote this), I can see the world continues to spin without me and that makes me very happy. J Bean will get some time with sitters this week every day while VeeVee is working. I am very interested in seeing how this goes and I’m excited to see the new things she will learn while also a little anxious to see what new behaviors I may have to work with when I get home.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with some friends and family while I am home in between the packing, loading and seeing if I can find a buyer for our seldom used extra car while I’m here. We’re hoping to expand our family soon and it is about time to upgrade to that dreaded mini-van. Maybe I’ll be able to convince VeeVee an SUV is really the way to go, but I don’t think she is taking seriously my lobbying efforts for a new Charger. Signing off, from the road. I’ll try to post again in a few days with an update and I’ll be passing though some storm damaged areas of north GA and Tennessee.

UPDATE: The packing is mostly done, I pick up the truck tomorrow and get down to the business of loading it with all my worldly possessions. While writing the entry above it dawned on me that I would have a big rental truck only half full when heading up to the tornado affected areas so I reached out to some philanthropist friends of mine and we are working together to gather supplies to take to some families in need in Cleveland, GA. I am hopeful we can have a positive impact on the recipients. There are some 300 families without homes up there and most lost everything they had, I’m very happy to be able to be a part of helping them through this time. I encourage you all to donate to the Red Cross or other charities to help these families. The devastation is unreal and I’m bracing myself for what I’ll see when I get there on Wednesday.