Archive for December, 2012

Hi readers, just a quick update. I realize we were right in the middle of the story of our Thanksgiving restoration in Chicago, and I didn’t mean to leave you hanging, but…

In real time, it’s Christmas break from school and I’m in Orlando, Florida with my beautiful bride taking a vacation at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter. I probably won’t be back on again until Friday or Saturday, but I promise to continue the story exactly from the point where I left off.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

This is only the second time we’ve gone to the parade on Thanksgiving Day in Chicago. The first time, we had our son with us. We told each of the kids that when they were seniors in high school, we would take them on their own senior trip and they could choose anywhere they wanted to go, within reason. Angie and Taylor both chose Chicago.

That was last year and we stayed out near the airport. We had to take the el all the way downtown, which wasn’t the most convenient, but we ended up right at the corner of State and Washington. It was cold and it rained right up until the parade started. Ceecee and I enjoyed the parade, but Taylor was pretty miserable with the cold.

Today’s parade was so much better. We only had to walk out the door of our hotel and around the corner and we were on the parade route. The weather was perfect and we were very much in love. Afterward, we walked to the Christkindl market, the very thing that brought us to Chicago in the first place, back in 2003. We don’t really have any plans after that, so we’ll just take it as it comes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ceecee wrote on her Facebook, “I love waking up to your face, even on a train.” Obviously, we didn’t sleep last night, but we really only napped on the train. We took a cab ride (wow, what a nearly terrifying experience) to our hotel and were surprised that they already had a room ready and they allowed us to check in early. We’re right downtown in between Michigan Avenue and State Street, where the Thanksgiving Day parade runs.

Today, we walked around a little bit, then gave in to our tiredness and just took a nap in our room during the early afternoon. After that, we walked to Navy Pier and did something we never do. We ate at the McDonald’s in the Navy Pier food court.

I’m not really sure why Ceecee wanted to eat at McDonald’s, since that is NEVER a part of our diet, but she did. She ordered a happy meal, which isn’t at all surprising since she’s always been a kid at heart and probably always will be. While we were in there, it started to rain and hail and we were on foot, so we just hung out inside the mall at the pier until the weather got a little better.

When we left Navy Pier, we stopped at Fox and Obel, a gourmet food store owned by two foodies who are former lawyers. We always go there when we’re in Chicago. They have a bistro, a café, a grocery store, deli, bakery, and more. We got some bread, cheese, deli meat, wine and snacks to take back to the hotel. We’re staying in tonight and we want to be up early for the parade and a very full day tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Had to work at Macy’s this evening after teaching today. Tonight, we leave for St. Louis where we’ll board the train for Chicago.

We’ve always driven before, but my wife loves riding the train and she found out Amtrak has an early morning train to Chicago that’s less than $50 per person round trip – even over thanksgiving weekend! We’ll leave early Wednesday morning and come back Saturday. That way we don’t use gas, don’t have to worry about weather, and don’t have to pay for parking in Chicago.

The only decision is whether to try to nap for a few hours or just stay up and try to sleep on the train. We’ll have to leave by 1:00 AM to be at the station in time to make the 4:45 Am train. I’m probably too excited to sleep. This will be a major stop on the restoration tour and it’s going to be epic!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

For some time now, I’ve been lusting after the new Bianchi road bikes at one of the bike shops in town. Today, I finally got one. My wife has a Masi, so we both have Italian bikes now, but I’ve just always had a thing for Bianchi.

We’re having a very small thanksgiving meal with some family this weekend, because we’ll be taking the Restoration Tour to Chicago on Wednesday and be spending the actual holiday there. We also are taking part in an outreach our church does where they give you a list and you go to the store with a plastic bag and you buy all the ingredients for a traditional holiday meal except the turkey.

Everyone brings their bags to the church and another local charity provides the turkeys. Needy families are identified through the public schools and they are sent an invitation to receive an entire meal for their family.

Ceecee and I don’t usually shop at Wal-Mart because we find it very aggravating. We finally decided that instead of complaining about it, we’d just quit going and shop elsewhere. Today, we shopped at Wal-Mart for our bag from church, mainly because we could get everything in one place and they want everyone to get pretty much the same stuff, so no one feels slighted.

The store was really crowded as usual and there was little or no service from employees, as usual, but it didn’t bother me. In the past, I would become upset and very negative and my wife would often get the brunt of it, even though I never meant for that to happen. Today, I have a new peace inside and I realized that it just didn’t matter. It was pretty nice to go through the whole Wal-Mart experience and be able to keep smiling.

It’s little things like that, as well as the big things that continue to show that I’ve really changed. Not just on the outside, but on the inside, where the changes are real and permanent. Anyone can temporarily change their behavior, but that’s only an outward change. Willpower can only take you so far. Only God can truly change a heart and I’m so thankful that He has and that I let Him.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Well, we survived the short night and getting up and going to work this morning. Afterward, I had my first appointment for physical therapy on my knee. The MRI apparently was inconclusive, so the doctor sent me to a rehabilitation place. They did a bunch of strength and range of motion tests on me and now it’s really confusing.

They don’t seem to be in agreement on what the cause is or how to proceed. The doctor had told me he blamed my hips. The one guy who examined me today said I have flat feet and thinks that’s what’s causing the problem when I run. Another guy says my left leg is shorter than my right and that’s the likely problem. It’s frustrating, because back when I was 19, I had a chiropractor diagnose me with a shorter left leg and had me wear a lift inside my shoe. Since I moved away from there, other doctors have said that wasn’t true and I’ve always had chronic back problems without ever being certain why.

Anyway, we’re going to start p/t and they want me to get fitted for custom orthotics. I don’t’ really care, as long as I get better and can get back to running and doing the things I was. I’m glad not to be having surgery, but these guys don’t give me lot of confidence that they are doing more than guessing and trying things out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My wife is a Harry Potter fanatic. Well, my whole family pretty much is, if you really want to know. We are very much a reading family, and children’s literature was a big part of our home while we were raising the kids.

As far as HP goes, it turns out that the characters are pretty much the same age as our oldest two, and not far off from the others. That has allowed our kids to almost feel as though they grew up with the kids in the Harry Potter story, reading the books and watching the movies.

When Angie first wanted to read Harry Potter, we were concerned about the idea that it contained witchcraft. We had heard negative things from the church and we knew it was somewhat controversial. Our policy on things like that was that one of us would read or watch it first and make a decision.

Ceecee read the first Harry Potter novel and loved it. Since then, there’s been no stopping it. We’ve been to midnight book release parties, movie premieres, and on and on. And tonight is the release of the 7th movie, so we’ll be sitting at the theater for that. It’s hard to imagine getting home from the movies at around 3 AM on a school night, but it’s Harry Potter and, well, that’s just what we’re going to do.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Our marriage had so many great moments during the years before I began to fall apart. One theme that was pretty constant was my attempting, and often succeeding, in making Ceecee’s dreams come true. There have been many small ones and a few big ones.

One that happened recently had nothing to do with me. Well, not on the surface anyway. Ceecee had put a baby up for adoption long ago and had set it up to be an open adoption. She had always kept in touch with the lawyer and made sure he had her current address and contact information at all times.

The parents were supposed to have agreed that whenever the child asked about her biological parents, she would be told and that it would be her choice to initiate contact, if she wanted to. Ceecee often talked about her and wondered when that contact would occur.

When the time came that the girl would be turning sixteen, we believed that maybe it would be soon, but nothing happened. Again, around and following her 18th birthday, we anticipated that we would hear something. No contact was made again.

We knew what her adopted name was and had made small attempts to see if there were any public records or a Facebook page that would allow us to simply see how she seemed to be growing up, but there was never anything that we found that told us anything. Our oldest daughter had tried to find her more than once, but everything had proven to be false trails.

Then, one day recently, Angie called and said that she thought this time she had really found her on Facebook. Ceecee wasn’t allowed to initiate contact, but there was nothing preventing Angie from messaging her. She sent a friend request, which was accepted.

About this time, Ceecee came up to me one evening, held out her phone and said, “Look at this.” She was showing me a picture and I said, “Why are you showing me a picture of Kasey?” (Kasey is our middle daughter.) Ceecee said, “That’s not Kasey.” I looked again and just said, “Wow!” The family resemblance was uncanny. There was no doubt she was a sister.

Finally, it got to where everything was out in the open and Ceecee and her long ago adopted daughter got to speak on the phone briefly the other night. It’s just been one more amazing highlight in this magical time of our lives. While I had no direct impact on this taking place, we’ve talked about how much different this might be if we hadn’t worked our marriage out.

They would still be biological mother and daughter, regardless. The fact that Ceecee is now stable, happy, and in a good place is so much better than the alternative, though. This isn’t going to change anyone’s life, but we anticipate visits and the building of some amount of relationship as time goes by. I can’t be happier to be a part of it

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yesterday was the day Veteran’s Day was observed, so it was a day off for Ceecee and me. We did something crazy that we may regret later, but for now it makes a fun story.
For the bass pro marathon, they put these huge stickers on the roads and sidewalks at various points along the route that had encouraging sayings on them. They are rectangular and approximately 2 x 3 feet in dimensions. A week after the race, they were all still there.

You may have guessed what happens next. We took our bikes out and came across more than one of them. Ceecee commented about wanting one for the loft, so when we found one along the trail, away from traffic, we dismounted to have a closer look.

It was very thick and peeled right off, so I rolled it up inside out and carried it home. The loft has a concrete floor and we stuck it down right at the end of the hall where it opens up into the living area. I suppose it may have been stealing, but nobody seemed intent on gathering them back up, and even if they did, it’s not like they could be re-used. I’m sure they would simply be thrown away.

Anyway, now it’s our souvenir. Ceecee says she’ll probably never run another full marathon, but she is now one of very few who have not only completed one, but brought a little part of the course home and made it part of the décor.

I’m pretty excited about this “new” kind of yoga that I’ve recently discovered. Actually, it’s thousands of years old – probably the oldest form of yoga in existence. I’ve never been a fan of yoga before now. It’s always seemed like too much pain and discomfort for too little benefit the few times I’ve tried it.

I subscribe to a number of online newsletters from marriage and relationship gurus and I recently read an article about the 8 chakras in the body and it had a link to an article about kundalini yoga. I liked the fact that the article took a scientific, not a spiritual approach to the chakras and presented the physiology of the exercises.

I decided to browse my local library and checked out a couple of DVD’s. They were very challenging, but I felt so much better afterward. They focus very specifically on the spine and on posture and breathing. As a person who has had a lifetime of chronic back pain and chiropractic, this certainly appealed to me.

My hope is that continuing to do this regularly will make Ceecee’s and my visits to the chiropractor obsolete. So far, so good.