Life in the Midwest

So we’ve been here for two weeks now. We are just finally settling in…somewhat. The first week was a blur- Amelia’s first birthday in Michigan, moving truck day, E’s first day at work, a visit from my friend Sarah (who just happened to be in town from Philly), and the arduous task of unpacking and organizing. In case you’re wondering, we have approximately 9,000 lbs of stuff. The average family has 10,000.

The big issue last week was the realization that our townhouse is too small. It’s 25% smaller than our house…1 less bedroom, no basement and virtually no storage. Everything is “apartment-sized”- cabinets, closets and even the showers are small. We do have a 2-car garage but due to the humidity we can’t store paper, fabric or wood in it (75% of what we own), so we broke down and got a storage unit over the weekend. Most of our belongings will remain in boxes until we find somewhere else to live. I am actually already starting to look for our next place even though our lease doesn’t run out until October. Like Seattle, the rental market is crazy here and it’ll take a while to find what we’re looking for.

The weather has been interesting. It was in the 90’s the first couple days and we just about melted. Poor Amelia’s face looked like a tomato! I feel like I’m adjusting though. You have to work with the heat, not against it- exercise in the morning, then hit the apartment pool in the afternoon. Good plan! The sun seems to be stronger here too. I can’t remember the last time I’ve worn this much sunblock and even then I’m already way tanner than I want to be.  Ugh. I guess that’s my inner Seattlelite talking.  We experienced our first big, eerie green-sky storm while driving back from Detroit. It was raining so hard that we stopped at the nearest exit. We had another doozy last week, with the radar showing big patches of dark red. Maybe I should read up on tornado safety since one touched down maybe 20 miles from here.

I’ve had a little time to explore the area in between unpacking and Amelia’s nap times. First things first- locate the nearest grocery store, park, bike shop and of course, Target.  I feel like I’ve got my bearings now and know all of the major roads and freeways in the area.  That knowledge came in handy yesterday when I dropped off E at O’Hare, and then realized I left my phone at home. The freeways are tolled here which kinda sucks. I’m running out of quarters in my car and desperately waiting for our iPass (electronic tolling doo-dad).

The town of Wheaton is quite nice. It’s got a cute historic downtown area with shops and restaurants, plenty of green spaces and two train stations. If I had to compare it to Seattle I’d say it’s similar to Bellevue. Location-wise it’s like North Bend, so we really live in “Chicagoland”, not Chicago. We chose this area because it’s close to E’s office and seemed to have a lot of amenities for my stay-at home mom stint (which it does). Even though we don’t fit the conservative, church-going, soccer-playing kid profile it’s still a really good place to be right now. The neighboring towns of Glen Ellyn, Naperville and Downer’s Grover are also nice too. These are kind of like Stepford towns though…super clean, meticulously landscaped/maintained homes and overly-friendly people. Weird? Or simply Midwest? It’s hard to say where we’ll end up next…something tells me we’ll move closer to the city.

So being a stay-at-home is quite a change from working full time. It’s definitely not glamorous- I spend much of my day preparing meals/snacks, picking up food off the floor, washing dishes and changing diapers. Seriously! There is not a whole lot of downtime when you’re with a 1-year old. My break, if you can call it that, is getting out for a run.  This area actually has a ton of kid-friendly activities but I’ve been too busy to give them a try. We did make it to a My Gym session (similar to Gymboree) last week though… Amelia liked all of the equipment but was not a fan of “circle time”. In other words, she wouldn’t sit still. Not sure if we’ll go back.  I plan to put her in daycare one day per week just so she can socialize with other kids. I was so resistant to daycare before but now I think it’s really important for her development. Plus this will free up a day so I can search for jobs and interview later this summer. I’m not saying I’m bored (yet) but being cooped up in a townhome is already driving me crazy. I need to be outdoors when it’s nice out and it’s a drag to not have personal outdoor space like a deck or patio. I keep reminding myself that our living situation is only temporary, but still…

As far as exercise goes, I’m pretty limited because whatever I do has to involve Amelia…and the BOB stroller. Fortunately for us we have at least 20 miles of nice gravel path right near our townhouse. Any other time I’d be disappointed that it’s not a “real” trail, but for now it’s just perfect. The gravel path also makes for a great CX ride because it’s part of an extensive rails-to-trails network.   Last weekend I rode at Kettle Moraine with some ladies from the Illinois Women Cyclist Meetup group. I had a great time and was happy to engage in “bike talk” again. Come to find out everyone here is already excited about CX season. I thought that was just a Seattle thing. Ugh.

We’ve ventured downtown a couple times too. We thought it would be fun and adventurous to take the Metra on the 4th of July. During Amelia’s naptime. On a packed train. Bad idea! She pitched a fit both ways…it was awful. In true Wheaton fashion a nice older couple chuckled and told us they’ve been in our shoes before, then proceeded to talk our ears off for another 10 minutes. LOL. It was cool being downtown for the 4th- Millennium Park was a real melting pot and everyone was dressed in their most patriotic outfit.

That’s about it from here. E’s off in Europe for work so I’m headed to L-town for a week or so. Good times ahead!


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