Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Today we took a long ride to Ozark and back.  There are some wicked hills in the country in between, but it’s good for us.  It’s only a little over a month until the Tour De Cox and we still have never ridden 62 miles before.

Once we got back to town, we stopped at Rosati’s, a fairly new pizzeria that is supposed to have authentic Chicago pizza here in Springfield.  We had lunch there, and it was good, but definitely no competition for places like Pizzeria Uno or Gino’s East in Chicago.

Our California trip is all booked and paid for.  We leave nere July 20th and we’ll be there a week!  So looking forward to taking Ceecee to wine country and to see the pacific Ocean.  It’s funny; with her upbringing, she’s been all over Europe, but has never been to California or seen the Pacific.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Today, Ceecee finally “got” one of her “12 Days” gifts from last Christmas.

It wasn’t given late, it was actually just given way early.  It was two tickets to the musical, “Chicago,” which is probably my wife’s favorite.  She loves the movie and the soundtrack, but had never seen it performed in the theater until today.

I bought the tickets last Christmas because there was no way I was going to take a chance on them selling out.  That’s happened to us before, and this one is too important to her to risk it.

We went to a matinée show this afternoon, then I bought stuff to make a seafood dinner not too much different from what we had for Valentine’s.  I figured it worked then, so don’t fix what’s not broken, right?  Life is too good right now!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I was thinking that I would quit Macy’s as of the end of the year. Second jobs are a problem at tax time, so if I was done by New Year’s, at least we would only be impacted for one tax year. Between Dillard’s and Macy’s this year, I think we’re going to end up taking a bath on our income tax.

Anyway, notice I said I was thinking of it. As in past tense. Now, it looks like I’ll be on at least into the early part of next year. Not a big deal, but it allows us not to worry about all the travel we’ll be doing over the next few weeks and will help with the extra expenses of Christmas.

The 12 Days have been fun so far. No huge gifts, although the second day was kind of a big deal. I bought two tickets to the musical, “Chicago.” Ceecee had such a good time going to Cats that I decided I want to take her to the theater more in the future. Each year, our local little theater does a Christmas play and this year it was “Miracle On 34th Street.”

Unfortunately, I hadn’t learned my lesson yet, and I waited too long to buy tickets. By the time I went to the box office, there were no longer any shows left with two seats together. Since we weren’t going to go and not sit together, we missed it. Thus, the Chicago tickets for the second day of Christmas. See, the play isn’t until April, so it’s kind of lame that she gets them now and they literally sit somewhere for four months. On the other hand, it shows that I won’t let them slip away and that I know how much this means to her to be able to go.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

This morning, we caught the train back to St. Louis. Everything in Chicago was beautiful and we’re living the dream, literally. Although it would be hard to ever top that very first visit back in 2003, and we have so many great memories through the years that followed, I’d say this was our best trip ever. It’s like the old and familiar plus the new and exciting melded into one experience. We had the joy of “new love” in the context of all our past experiences and memories. It really defies description and will simply live in our hearts as a healing and restoring experience that we will always carry.

While we were on the train, we got a call from the furniture manager at Dillard’s, where Ceecee used to work. She had picked out a sofa for us while she was still there, but we were waiting for it to go on sale. Now that she doesn’t have an employee discount anymore, she told the manager that if it ever went on clearance to call us and we would buy it. We didn’t expect that call today, but I told him where we were and he said he’d mark it sold and we could come in tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Even though we woke up just a half a block from Chicago’s “magnificent Mile,” or Michigan Avenue, we stayed away from the black Friday shopping crowds. We really have no desire to get in the middle of that, so we ate a leisurely breakfast, then did walk up and down the avenue and visit a few stores. We found a few small things that we picked up, like the Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook, but we don’t go to Chicago to shop.

This year, we went to Chicago for our usual visit, but also as part of the restoration tour. When we went last year, it was fun, but the truth that our marriage was unraveling was evident in a few different incidents. At navy pier, we were impatient and snappy, but we blamed it on being hungry and tired. There was some tension and coldness while we walked around, and we put it off as stress from all the activity.

The thing that haunted me, though – and it couldn’t simply be explained away – is that I blew up at my wife in a store for no apparent reason. I didn’t just get irritated; I lost it and made it a personal attack against her character. It was without provocation and my wife was both hurt and confused by it.

In the early years of our marriage, that kind of thing just didn’t happen. In the years since the tornado, it became more of a common occurrence. I never had any answer I was willing to give when she would want to know why or what she did. The truth was, I was very unhappy inside and didn’t know how to express any of it in a healthy way, so I took it out on her when I reached a certain level of frustration.

So, while the parade, the German market, the deep dish pizza, and all the things we love about Chicago are still here, there’s something very important about this visit. The restoration tour is about setting things right and repairing the damage. It’s about fixing what needs fixed and maintaining what was formerly neglected. This time around, we’re being very intentional about expressing our love and appreciation for each other and restoring the wonderful feelings of being together in a place we love.

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.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

I’m still at Macy’s and Ceecee wants me to put in my two weeks notice. I would like to, and will probably have to because of Thanksgiving, but I have to admit – the extra money is nice. We are going to Chicago over Thanksgiving break from school and this will be one of the most important stops on the restoration tour. If Macy’s won’t let me have the time off, I’ll have to quit. If they do let me, I may stay until Christmas.

My working two jobs means we have less time together, but we seem to make more of the time we have than we ever did before. Maybe it’s because we appreciate what we have so much more now. It’s somewhat true that you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone. We are both really motivated now not to take each other for granted.
I sell furniture and it’s really dead in our department a lot of the time. That means I have a lot of time just to think. That’s good and bad. It’s good in that it’s not a stressful job and I can use some of the time I’m on the clock to meditate and work on healing and continuing to grow and change. My therapist gave me some breathing and meditation exercises to do and they really help.

It’s also bad because I do have so much time to think, so I find my mind going back to the pain of our past and I’m sometimes borderline obsessing over what happened and the regrets I have. I find myself dreading certain songs being played and I have to constantly re-direct my thoughts to the present and the joy we’re living now.

Today, I was thinking about it all and I realized that when I was all messed up in the past, the love of my life was already there with me. I thought I needed to go looking for something, but I already had it all right from the start. I questioned Ceecee’s love for me for so long and I convinced myself that it couldn’t last forever. Now I see that her love was always true and I had everything I wanted and needed all along.