So much big news this spring!  We should probably start with Nico’s first Judo tournament- the last Saturday of April.  He did pretty well- he fought against a couple kids who have been doing judo for much longer than he has.  He went 0-4 in the tournament, but managed a couple of really good throws. We agree that one of the main things that we he needs to work on is to not be overly committed to and off balance for a throw.  Most of the times he was thrown came about when he was off-balance trying to do something.
He had a really good time and paid attention for pretty much the whole day.  He was a champ- he didn’t seem to be bothered too much when he got thrown.
We also have been in the process of moving.  We decided in January to start looking for a new place, since our last landlord was raising the rent at the old place.  Given that there there was a lot we didn’t like about the place (how far from public transit, lack of a dishwasher, overall junky appearance), it wasn’t a hard decision to make.  Also, with only one dog, the backyard calculation changed a bit.
We had been kind of discouraged about places in Chicago- it seemed near impossible to find anything in a safe neighborhood on the north side- we were thinking that we might have to move out to the burbs (and take Nico out of his school) or do something else we didn’t want to do.  Dave (yeah, I am throwing him under the bus), because he reads DNAinfo every day, had heard about Rogers Park being real sketchy.  It is one of the few “pockets” on the north side of Chicago where there is some violence.  So, we (read: Dave hadn’t really ever considered it).
But then we started looking at places (in earnest) and ended up driving through Rogers Park.  It is really near Loyola- near the lake.  And Dave was like, this neighborhood is kinda cool.  Because some parts of Rogers Park (further west) are kinda rundown rents are fairly low here.  But there are several stops on the red line, which stops next to my office.  So, we focused our search here.
We ended up finding a place in a building that has mixed use units.  That is, the first floor has a pet salon, a massage therapy place, and a theater.  The second and third floors are residential.  The back side has decks and wooden stairs and walkways.  There is also a little courtyard which is nice.  There is a place for grilling (if we did that) and a place to sit outside.  The back deck is big enough to maybe have some plants and such- and I am going to be putting my deck planters up soon.
The residential spaces used to be a doctors office or dentists office.  So the layout in the common areas is fairly open.  The unit is three bedrooms and two baths.  Hardwood and tile throughout.  One of the bedrooms  is *much* smaller than the others- but that is where we’ve stuck JJ- its a little hidey hole.  The other two bedrooms are pretty big.  It’s on the third floor- so we almost always have a nice breeze going.  Its all new- so the AC works like a boss- which is something I have never experienced.  It also has a dishwasher.  A dishwasher.
Very happy with it.  Pictures to come!!

Spring is for Moving

Where do I even start?

How about, do I even blog anymore?

I know.

2016  has been pretty crazy so far.  I started the year by teaching two courses at the same time.  That was a first for me.  Yeah, its not like what regular tenure track faculty deal with (because they do it year round), but was a big deal- since I still had all my regular work duties to do.

I also had a perfect storm of things come together right at the end of the quarter: two work trips with prep for a conference sandwiched in between.  It was pretty crazy.

We’re also moving.

The moving bit is bittersweet for me- mostly because it means we’re leaving our neighborhood, which we like.  We like being as close as we are to Nico’s best friends (and soccer).  But the neighborhood isn’t ideal.  Despite the fact that we live in a city with good public transit, we rarely take it.  It is actually more of a bother to take it than it is to drive.  Plus our neighborhood, while great for families and friends and soccer, isn’t great on other things (like being close to coffee shops and public transit).

Also, our house is kinda shitty.  Let’s be honest, friends who have actually visited it- it is kinda shitty.  Like most landlords (as it seems), ours isn’t really interested in keeping the place up.  The windows are old and drafty, the ac is weak, the floor in the basement is a mess, the dryer just developed a *new* squeak.  We try to get the handy man guy to give the place some attention, but he doesn’t respond to our texts.  It also doesn’t have a dishwasher.  And our landlord raised our rent by $100 this year.  That is huge.

So we started looking in February and found a place last month.  We have paid the move-in fee and are going to sign the lease next week.  Its in East Rogers park, just north of Loyola University.  Rogers Park has some tough spots, but it looks like they are mostly west of where our place will be.  Its a definite bump- I think I will be able to take public transit to work almost every day- which gets me reading and knitting more.  In the summer I will mostly be commuting by bike- which will likely be easier.

The place is in a multipurpose building.  Some shops are on the first floor, then apartments on the second and third.  All the places for shops aren’t filled up yet- I am crossing my fingers that one will become a coffee shop, quilt shop, craft shop, candy shop, stationary store, or crossfit gym.  That would make this place perfect.  As of now, there is a boutique pet store/salon(?) and a massage therapist place.

The actual living space is a 3/2, all on one floor.  It is smaller- it looks like I will be losing the girl cave.  But it has more closets than the place we have now.  And a dishwasher.  At the age of 36 I will finally have a dishwasher.  What will I even do with my life???  Nico’s school is a magnet school- so it won’t matter that we are moving (since we are staying in the city).  Which is good- we are kind of in love with his school.

So now, we’re just packing and thinning out the stuff.  That takes a lot of time.

Starting to get Sad

It struck me today, that we are leaving Tallahassee- and it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.

I was talking to Nico tonight on the phone and we were talking about how we are going to be moving in a few days.  The conversation turned to Graham, and Nico insisted that Graham is coming with us.  I guess when they have talked about it school that has been the conversation: that Nico and his family are moving to Chicago and Graham is going to come with us.  And I just got really sad for Nico.  I don’t question the decision we made.  In the long run, this is going to end up being amazing for him.  He doesn’t realize it, but things are going to change for him this weekend.  His two best friends (Graham and Ovid) are still going to be in Tallahassee and he will be in Chicago.  We are going to try to see them one final time this week, but it’s difficult, because none of them will realize that it’s probably the last time (at least for a while) that they will see each other.  
This spring, I read “Nurture Shock” by Po Bronson.  It’s basically about what the latest science says about children and how they develop.  One of the most intriguing chapters of the book was about the psycho-social development of kids and the degree to which they learn sharing, compassion, and empathy from the relationships that they have with siblings.  Turns out that the better predictor of their abilities to express compassion, empathy, and to share come from the relationships that they have with their friends.  Since Graham has a little sister, he’s always had to share.  And he is awesome with her.  He is very matter of fact about her abilities and the fact that she is little.  But he doesn’t ever seem to view her presence as a drag (bringing down the fun that Nico and he were going to have).  His way and what he wants aren’t the only thing that matter.  So when he interacts with Nico, they have a really fun way of playing, where they go from activity to activity to activity, both playing together.  Bossing each other and pushing back against the bossing, but never abandoning each other.  Never getting pissed at each other and deciding to do something different.  Which I think is awesome.  I hope that someday, when Nico is an older brother, he is half the brother Graham is to his little sis.  
In any case, we’ll try to do google hangout and facetime and all of that.  I am in the process of assembling a mail kit for Nico, so that he can send letters and post cards to Graham and Ovid.  I’m also going to have a photobook printed of his friends and the house on Atapha and the hospital and the house on Apakin.  And the parks.  I hope it will help.

Getting there…

Well, I made it here safely.
I left Tallahassee on Tuesday April 23rd and rolled into Chicago on the afternoon of the 24th.  It was an easy drive, except for some hard rain I encountered leaving Louisville on Wednesday.  I brought the Kia, loaded down with clothes, toiletries  kitchen items and a few craft things.  I got them all unpacked and into the house by Wednesday night.

The house has two stories and a basement.  I moved all my clothes into one room upstairs and am sleeping in the other room (on an air mattress).  I didnt do much last week, except figure out how to get to work and where the closest grocery is.

On Saturday I drove to Plainfield to get a firetruck bed for Nico.  A tollbooth lady told me that I could pay with cash at my last tollbooth, I couldn’t.  So, I can’t wait to see the ticket or the fine I will get for that. Should be good times.  When I got back, I headed over to campus to video chat with the boys (since my internet at home isnt being installed until Thursday).  On my my way out of there, I swung by the fiber arts store I found in Lincoln Park on my last go.  I picked up some yarn for a hat for Nico (for Christmas). Saturday night, I went to Target to get a few food items.

I went to a benefit on Sunday for the Read/Write Library of Chicago.  One of my friends/coworkers helped organize it.  I went and got to see another part of the city.  In all, things have been pretty good here.  I miss my boys like crazy.  Dave’s parents are in town this week- so hopefully Nico won’t notice how much he misses me.

My main source of transportation to work is the brown line from Kimball station to Fullerton.  There is apparently work going on on the brownline somewhere so transportation is a little wonky now.  But I asked a transit worker and he directed me in the right direction.  No big deal.

I have a life list item to run all the bridges in Chicago.  Today after work, I am going to give my first couple a try.  Should be fun.

I have a list a mile long of things I still need to do.  Then there are the things I want to do.  🙂

All for now.  Will write more later.


So we had an okay weekend around here.  Our team lost in the World Cup Final last night 😦  We’re not terribly tore up about it, because we felt like Spain really was the better team.  Yesterday was pretty fun because we had some of Dave’s coworker friends over to watch the game… which gave us the final push we needed to get the house unpacked.  It’s pretty much all unpacked now- so that is good.  We still have a bunch of things we still need to get, but its nice not having boxes laying around.

We had a scrimmage on Saturday against a U14 boys team.  The team is coached by one of the our Dads (his daughter plays for him in the Spring and us in the Summer).  Overall, we did okay.  We did some things well, other things not so much.  It was probably too hot to play- but we had several subs.  So my coaching MO was to just make sure that no one dropped dead of a heart attack on the field.  Which meant that some players got a lot more playing time than they would normally.

Didnt get the kind of sleep I would normally hope for over the weekend.  In addition to working at DOH, I am also TA-ing an online class… so I had to grade a bunch of their assignments over the weekend.  Since it is tricky to do it with Nico at the house, I mostly tried to do it at night, which included staying up all night on Saturday night.  So you know I was a cranky beast on Sunday.  Dave tried to let me get some sleeps on Sunday morning, but he had a little bit of a crisis.  I woke up to Dave admonishing Drake for unauthorized turtles in the house and Nico screaming because he was sitting in a dirty diaper with strawberries and blueberries in his hair.  Dave had been making some breakfast when Gordon decided to start throwing up… so needless to say, he was a little frazzled.

That is about it for our weekend.  I went for a walk last night with Nico and we found a play kitchen that someone had left out by the curb.  Much to Dave’s chagrin, I brought it home and put it in the shed.  I think all it needs is a good cleaning and a little TLC… and all the stuff you need for a play kitchen (play utensils, foods, dishes, etc).   But it has a ton of doors… and a bbq grill… so that is pretty sweet, you might say.  And well, you know how Nico feels about doors…. exactly.  So it will be a little experiment, to see if I can rehab it to the point of it being a good toy for Nico.  If not, I just have to take it back out to the curb.  I will post pictures of it soon, so you can offer suggestions.

All for now.


Not much exciting to report. Except that I ruled at Stata today. I have had this problem with one of my variables, that I couldnt figure it out. Mama got it figured today. Stata just needed a little bullying: BOOM!!

About Sunday night: sorry if that was too much information about the smell coming from the kitchen. I sometimes forget that you guys dont want to know every gory detail of our crazy lives! Ooopsies!!

Unpacking is still going. Frankly, its kind of annoying. I wish that we could come back from practice and find that magic gnomes have broken in and put all the stuff away. That would be amazing. It is just tricky because when you’re unpacking in a new place, you have to put some thought into where you want stuff. Like, where does it make sense? And we also are having to deal with some new realities. Like no mudroom. At the old house it was great because there was at least a little storage place for things like, the tool box, beer brewing supplies, soccer stuff, the saw, etc. And our laundry room now is attached to a bathroom (weird). Just trying to get it figured. On the upside, the DirecTV people are coming tomorrow to set up service. Woo hoo!! Just in time for the World Cup. Speaking of which… take a gander at this (Mom, make sure that JJ sees this, he would think it is cool):

Pretty awesome, don’t you think?

Not much new to report on the Nico front. In the evenings when he has started to meltdown at dinner, he is pointing at his noise. I dont know what this means. I have been looking in it… thinking that maybe he stuck a rock up there or something. Turns out he is just being weird.

Most of the sunflowers I planted outside his room have died. I think the dogs may have had something to do with this. When they go tromping around the yard, I have noticed that they aren’t really careful about where they step 😦 So I guess I am going to have to start some more in pots. Our tomatoes, green peppers and hot pepper are going pretty well right now. I also have some watermellons going too, but I have heard that sometimes they are hard to transplant… so the jury is still out. I think I may need to fertilize them.

It’s weird, because I have known people who have had babies, and I have always been amazed at the amount of stuff they have.  Just random stuff, little baby food containers, ribbons, bottle caps, waterbottles, etc.  I didnt know why until I had a baby: BABIES WILL PLAY WITH ANYTHING.
Seriously.  They will.  No joke.  I have tried to make sure that he has a variety of “toys” to play with…things with different sizes, textures, purposes and sounds.  I keep a bag or box of toys in his Pack n Play, his room and the car (for soccer practice).  They mostly consist of a book or two, blocks or rings, a scarf, bottles with pennies or beans in them, etc.  When I was cleaning out the linen closet, I found a pouf that I didnt know we had and that had never been used before.  Guess what makes a great toy?
My question is this:  What is he doing?

Who do you call about that?

So, it is 10:38 pm and I am supposed to be grading.  It is an assignment that needed to be graded a week ago, but I just havent gotten to it.  I have been dreading doing it all weekend, which has gotten me so that I have to grade these damn things before I go to bed 😦

Not a whole lot going on.  Dave and I spent most of the weekend unpacking and hanging with Nico.  We coached BBUSC yesterday (only three girls there- AWESOME!!).  Dave took point with Nico this morning and I went to campus for 4 glorious hours of dissertation work.  I promise you, there is nothing better than walking out of Bellamy after being productive on your dissertation for four hours.  It pretty much rulez!!

Looking forward to the World Cup starting soon.  My teams are The Netherlands and England.  The Netherlands because I am part Dutch, but also because one of my favorite GKs plays for the Orange (Edwin van der Saar).  England, because I watch those boys play, week in, week out throughout the entirety of the EPL…. so an England squad is pretty much like the EPL All-Stars.  In my spare-spare time, I have been reading Soccernomics on the Kindle, which is about soccer.  It talks about why England always think they should win the World Cup, when in reality, they have no more right to claim the title as anyone else. It is pretty interesting.

I guess that in order to watch games, we are going to have to get the TV set up.  Again, one of the things I hate about moving.  Currently, I have no idea where the DirectTV box is nor the DVR… and the TV is on the floor.  We haven’t had time to fully unpack and we got rid of our sofa… can’t really justify sitting around on the floor watching a whole lot of TV right now… especially since there isn’t much good tv on now, with LOST and 24 being off the air and Bones being over for the Season.  Meh…

It rained cats and dogs here this weekend.  Bad wind too, knocked trees down in Myers Park.  In an unrelated matter, Dave and I have noticed the most foul odor coming from the kitchen.  Like something died… but we can’t figure out where.  Its pretty gross… we can’t really smell it outside and there doesn’t appear to be any corpses of any kind actually in the kitchen.  So we think maybe something died under the house?  I don’t know.  Hell- can you even call someone about this?  I thought about calling the Leasing Company, but my guess is that they would be jerks about the situation.

I posted this on facebook, but thought that I would put it here, because it is so adorable… look at the boy!!  That is a defender, all the way!!  Man!!  He is already better than Rio Ferdinand.

Also, I have a new favorite thing: babies in board shorts.  I like.

Alrighty, then.  I guess it’s back to work for me.  😦