Round Two of Changing Everything

So most people know that when I got my job in Chicago I moved here, got married, moved Mark here and went back to work the next day all in under a month. This time we found a new apartment, moved across town, had family bring all kinds of things from Ohio, became church members, and flew to Cancun in under a week. We need to stop doing this!

My department at work has two yearly meetings where everyone comes to the Chicago office for a week each time. That happened the week before we moved, so boxing things up didn’t really happen. Mark tried to box & move some things but ended up hurting his back somehow early in the week and didn’t get as much accomplished as we planned. Both sets  of parents came from Ohio on Saturday to help move & brought the couch over. Our pastor came to help along with two other friends before they all went home to clean up and go to the pastor’s wife’s 40th birthday party. Our lovely Cru friend brought over a delicious dinner and we all went to bed early.

Sunday we headed to church, Costco, and then home to keep unpacking and see off our parents. Monday I went to work and we went to bed early. We packed up two backpacks and a carry on and set the alarm clock for Tuesday for 4 am. Being up-to-date on the latest airline suggestions, we got there 3 hours ahead, and made it through security in 10 minutes, leaving us with nothing to do at 5:36 am. We finally boarded around 8:00 and were promptly told we’d be sitting at the gate for around 45 minutes while they documented the “parking lot ding” on the airplane that “was nothing to worry about”. Knowing that Tropical Storm Franklin had just hit the day before, I was in no hurry to be in an airplane over the remnants of 64 mph wind, but we made up time somewhere and landed about 20 minutes later than planned.

The vacation package included a shuttle, but the arrival area was packed & chaotic. We did find the shuttle, but then stood outside in line for about 30 minutes. We were the 3rd group to be dropped off, and the hotel staff met us outside with fresh orange juice and took us to the check in. By then, it was 3 pm and we were hungry. American Airlines doesn’t serve lunch on 3 hour flights unless you purchase a lunch. We checked in, walked up the main staircase and down the hall to our room. I was a bit concerned by the reviews I read before going, but everything was better than expected! (With the exception of the bed feeling like they put a mattress pad on a wood block). After setting things down we headed for lunch, which was served indoors on account of the storm the day before.


After lunch, we walked around outside and looked at the beach and the two hotel pools. They had hammocks, little covered areas, and regular umbrellas. We went back to the room for a nap before going to dinner & back to bed. (Really exciting, I know, but I woke up at 3 am.)

Wednesday, we had breakfast in the lobby, and took a walk to the Flamingo Mall don the road. It was in the last stages of closing before being turned into a convention center in December, so the store owners were happy to see people. We wandered through, walked a ways down the road and looked at the lagoon and resorts, then headed back to the pool at the hotel. Mark decided the ocean was more fun and spent a few hours getting bashed around by the huge waves. He made a friend, and I got us reservations for the fancy restaurant for that night. We mainly stayed at the pool/ocean until 5-ish when we went back and Mark napped while I got cleaned up for dinner. We both got burnt even with sunscreen, but Mark was extremely crispy and was doused in lotion about every 2 hours for the rest of the trip.



Dinner was very nice. Not much to choose from for a vegetarian, but the cook sent out additional appetizers of the day that were really good and my pesto pasta was good. Mark was surprised at the length of dinner; it took 2 hours.

Thursday we doubled up on the sunscreen, met friends at the pool, tried water aerobics with a very adamant instructor, and still got burnt. We found out that there are fenced areas for sea turtle nest protection and that the turtles come in around 10-12 pm to lay their eggs. I had every intention of staying up, but passed out around 9:30 and Mark couldn’t wake me up. I thought they released the baby turtles at 8 am, but when we showed up Friday morning we found out it was 8 pm. But we got to see them digging up the egg shells, baby turtles, and counting them all.

After the turtles, we walked back to the Flamingo Mall. I got two sets of earrings, but when Mark went to buy his souvenir, the machine declined both of our cards. The shop owner scrambled up $10 USD in change for us after telling me he had no US dollars, and as soon as we got back to the resort, both our phones went off with fraud alerts from the bank. He tried charging us $30 USD each time, which the bank flagged. Good for us that the bank caught it, but that meant all of our auto payments, like our transit passes, wouldn’t load. After the flight back, we had just enough coins to get Mark back to the apartment. I didn’t realize that my pass also wasn’t working and ended up with a negative balance. Apparently you can have about $10 in negative charges before your pass won’t work.

Mark got both our cards working yesterday after we unpacked some, grocery shopped, and then we met my cousins at a pub in Lincoln Square for dinner. It was nice, and it’s a good place for food, but something was going on at 6 pm yesterday because it was packed with rowdy people! I made a week’s worth of lunches and tried to straighten out our closet before going to bed.

It will be interesting to see how tomorrow goes at work. I haven’t ever been gone this long before, and even with my team covering I feel like I’ll have several hundred emails! Now I’ll have to start saving up vacation days for the next adventure!


New & Exciting Changes!

It’s so much easier waiting and being patient when you can see the lovely light at the end of the tunnel! Mark and I have found a new apartment that we can move into on August 1st that is gorgeous and a major step up from our current place. I’ll add photos when we’re moved in, since it’s being repainted & cleaned at the moment. Our current apartment is all clean and organized because we have company! Lizzie & Eli from BG Cru are visiting Chicago & staying with us. We had the best surprise last night when they left for dinner and came back engaged! I’m so excited for them!

Mark and I are waiting for our tickets to Cancun as the date gets closer and closer. Two and a half more weeks to go! It’s going to be a whirlwind getting packed and starting to move between both apartments. The local thrift store chain is having a 1/2 off sale this weekend, so I’m going on a search for a living room rug. The new apartment has almost new hardwood floors and we have heavy furniture, so I’m nervous about scratching up the floors. We learned our lesson last weekend at the thrift store when we decided to wait a bit on a rolling kitchen cart and then saw it being wheeled out by another customer 10 minutes later. I need to be faster at making decisions! (We also have no room for anything anyway…)

Mark has FAFSA mostly filled out with the help of wonderful people at Wright College and is waiting on a few more things to fall in place before he can schedule classes & orientation. It’s hard to believe he’ll be going back to school in about 4 weeks! The campus is great, with lots of grass and trees, and it’s actually closer to our new apartment. He’s been working with a specialist on ADHD techniques and there’s already a noticeable difference. He’s getting things done faster, hardly forgetting anything, and by going to the gym earlier made a new friend. He’s learning to box from the new friend and is pretty excited about it. We received 4 great books on ADD/ADHD also from my aunt and uncle. I’ve been reading through the first one on the train and I think it’s actually having more of an affect on me than Mark. He doesn’t need to understand how ADD works, he lives it. I, however, am getting a better in depth perspective than I got out of my psychology classes.

I also started reading through Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst, and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It’s an interesting experience reading through both at the same time. They tend to complement each other as they use the same concept to two different ends. Uninvited is about relearning your identity based on Biblical truth instead of past experiences and Crazy Love is about taking a look at God’s identity and how that shows his love for us. If anybody else is reading either, I’d love to hear your thoughts about them. I had the best intentions to read through Uninvited with a friend, but the mailing system & book store craziness that ensued resulted in two books ending up in Ohio and one eventually making it to Chicago that I started reading & gave to my sister, thinking mine would be mailed from Ohio in a few days. Well, I think Chicago USPS ate my book, as it still hasn’t shown up. Luckily, I have plenty of ADD books, plus Crazy Love to finish first.

Oh, Chicago

I haven’t been writing because I keep waiting for things to be resolved first. It doesn’t seem like that will happen anytime soon. I’ve got things that are up in the air, Mark has things up in the air, church things are in flux…

I’m waiting for word back from a few places before we can 100% say we’ll be in Chicago for the next year. Mark was accepted to a local college (yay!!) but can’t finish registration because we may or may not still be in Chicago or this particular part of Chicago. We said goodbye to one of the two pastors of our church and will be saying good bye to our lovely deaconess soon as they move on to new things. (Does any pastor actually stay retired?) And we’re in limbo waiting to hear if Mark’s temporary contract will turn into an actual job. What kind of HR department just stops scheduling you without even a “hey, your contract is ending soon” email? So many places have hidden workings that aren’t as straight forward as the official/public policies.

But with all of this crazy, chaotic change and waiting, we’re finally getting used to Chicago. We have friends visiting us in July, planned a double date this week with another newly married couple our age, and are starting membership class at our church. I’ve been walking to and from the train since it’s so nice out, and taking a back way through residential areas to cut down on the frustration of unsolicited attention. Mark found a great counseling center that will work with him on his ADHD in preparation for the school year. I went to Activate, a Chicago Loop event with free food and entertainment and then met Cru Millennials in Millennium Park for a concert. It was so nice to talk with friends!

We now have friends here! Chicago in winter is not an easy place to meet people, but I feel like we are starting to build a community around us. Our church is lovely, but doesn’t have many college-age men for Mark to do things with. Cru Millennials is a genius idea and connects Cru alumni with other like-minded people in big cities. A large majority of the people I’ve met through the bi-weekly lunches are young men that Mark can get to know.

Apartment hunting season is here, and half of my office has been talking about landlords, moving companies and leases. I can’t wait to get out of our apartment and into something that we can stay in for longer. We still have boxes to unpack because we don’t have the space, and every time we go back to Ohio we take a car load back to our parents’ basements. Various people have given us suggestions of newspaper listings, good neighborhoods, and what to look for. I can’t believe the difference here of how little space people have, especially for storage. How do you organize an entire life into two closets?? What do people do with winter coats and blankets? Maybe that’s why every few blocks I see a giant storage location…

A Month’s Worth of Life in a Page

It’s been a full month since I wrote last!  Mark got sad, then I got sad. I got sick, then Mark got sick. Two car trips in a row, and a full week of meetings for me. Mark turned 23.

Mark was doing pretty well until we hit the snag with his transcripts.  Then he was afraid he’d never get back to school, never graduate, and never get a ‘real job’ helping people.  I watch him help people everyday, but it’s not the same.  The more sad he got, the less he got done and the worse he felt. It’s not a fun cycle. Then I got sad that I couldn’t fix things and that nothing I was doing was helping. I baked a festive orange birthday cake the week before his birthday, but then I came down with a stuffy nose/cold. Two days later and Mark’s running a 102 temp and taking days off work. Fortunately, one of my church ladies is a nurse practitioner who could write him a doctor’s note.  On another note, we lost the thermometer. Mark took his temp wile I was at work, thought he put the thermometer back where it goes, and we haven’t seen it since. I’ve looked, cleaned the cabinet, checked anywhere I can think of, but it’s gone.

Dad to the rescue! I emailed him about the whole transcript fiasco and he solved it in one afternoon. Dad’s fix everything. (Now I just need mom to visit so she can find our missing thermometer, since moms find things.)

Last weekend we went home and had Mark’s birthday with his family. Both sets of grandparents were there for his little sister’s confirmation.  He had to work Saturday morning, so we drove over after and my parents met us for dinner at his house. We got to test out the RV on Saturday since both sets of grandparents were in the spare beds.  And Sunday we all got up and watched Christine get confirmed. We got to church around 10am and left at 1pm! We then took Christine to the store to grab last minute things for her party and went back to the house. Quite a few people came including the pastor’s family. The best part was the end when the pianist showed up and started a sing-along around the piano to Sound of Music songs. How many small children do you think know any of the words to the yodeling song? (Hint: Not many.)

The following week, all of the field staff for my department came to Chicago for meetings. That added an extra 10 or so people for a week. We had lunch ordered every day, learned more about college relations, did some research on other programs, and made a lot of noise! I managed to stay on top of my regular calls & emails, but it was a tough week doing a full days work in a few scattered hours each day between meetings.   Thursday we had a team dinner at Portillo’s and then a few of us went to Streeter’s after.  Dinner took about 3 hours, so it was 8:30-9 by the time the last of us left. My newest coworker and I got a bit mixed up with my GPS (It doesn’t tell you which direction to start) and ended up with more time to talk about Cru, Tolkien, Lewis, and the Inklings. When we finally got to Streeter’s, there were still about 8-9 of us there. Some were playing beer-pong and I was nominated to play next. I think playing sober gives an advantage, but I’ll accept my two back-to-back wins anyway!

I was matched with a former IES employee who has now spent 7 years at a university through the International Educators of Illinois mentor program. We both missed the orientation, but can’t wait to meet each other. Hopefully I can learn what I need to for a university job.

I met Mark when he got off work and we made it home on the train. Apparently wearing the same heels for two straight days in a row plus going out doesn’t go over well on my poor feet. Friday was the last day of my meetings and I was going a bit crazy from all the people time. After work, Mark picked me up in the pouring rain where we proceeded to make it our of Chicago after two hours. Six hours later, we made it to the camp in Michigan where his family used to go for summer camp. How did it rain in literally every other zip code but camp? I’d really like to know.

We came back on Sunday afternoon and made it through Chicago traffic with no problems and minimal rain.  Monday we slept in, attempted a trip to Costco, but discovered that they aren’t open on Memorial day. I went to check that several times before we left, but I kept getting side tracked. So instead we went to Home Depot, parked, and got pizza and donuts. Today after work, we officially became Costco members!  My parents got Mark a membership for his birthday, so we signed up and finally had a hassle-free trip through the check-out. Even if you’re an authorized family member, they don’t like you using a card from another state.

Thanks to Reddit, I found a swimsuit on sale that will actually fit me for our late honeymoon/early anniversary trip to Cancun! In August, we’re taking 4 days to go lay on the beach, relax, snorkel and have fun.  I can’t wait, but first I had to renew my passport because when my name changed, I figured I’d get around to it eventually. Well, eventually got a bit sooner, so I’ve now sent in my app and am waiting on the new passport. Fortunately, my coworkers assured me that I’ll get the old one back, but with a hole through it. I have too many fun stamps in there to give it up for good!

Friday, I’m taking off after lunch to go see Sarah at the airport! She’s coming home after months of fun in Wales and Europe. I know she doesn’t want to leave her friends, the beach, and the lovely CU and church family she’s made, but we miss her and mom could use a break from worrying about her in the middle of all these world events going on. Our exchange sister is in the Philippines in the general area that was attacked and put under martial law, but she says everything is normal in her town, just a bit more security than usual. I’m glad she’s safe, and I hope things quiet down and can be solved without blowing up anything else.

Let me off the roller coaster!

I woke up today planning to use my half sick day on a doctor appointment then go to lunch with the Chicago Cru Millenials and finish working.  Most of the way to my appointment, Mark calls to tell me UIC rejected his application. Major downer after he’d psyched himself up about going back to school.  My appointment went well, though, and I got a chai latte while waiting on Mark to meet me for lunch.  While I sat in the Chase building food court, I called UIC Admissions and spoke to a very kind lady who gave me much more information that I wish we had before Mark applied. UIC generally won’t take a transfer student with under a 3.0 GPA.  She told me where to find a list of pre-requisite classes that Mark could take at a community college & then transfer to UIC when his GPA goes up.

I decided it was about time to get food, so I waited in line for stir fry, knowing one “portion” would be enough for 2-3 meals.  The men working had designated places on the grill to match where you stand in line and somehow mine was messed up, thrown out, and re-created.  Oh well. By the time I paid & looked for the Cru group, there were several people there including the guy Mark met with earlier in the week.  These people are wonderful!  Cru is such a small world, and there’s almost always someone that we have in common as a mutual friend.

I had to leave to go to work, and made it through all of my emails & most of my database student emails when Mark called.  He knows I’m at work & never calls during business hours.  I walked over to the kitchen/hub to answer and found out he was having an asthma attack thanks to someone exhaling a lung full of smoke at him.  And both his inhalers are 45+ minutes away at home.  I remembered his mom saying something about soda helping and met him in the building lobby with a Coke.  That helped, but in retrospect may have worsened the anxiety/panic attack that followed the asthma.  He stopped wheezing but was losing color, getting dizzy, thought his face was feeling fuzzy & couldn’t get enough air.  The building security checked on us twice & called 911.

The Chicago Fire Department first responders are wonderful gentlemen.  (Thanks Mr. Rivera!) They got him checked out and made sure his oxygen level was okay, but called an ambulance for him anyway.  I had to grab my purse from the office upstairs & let my boss know what was going on.  The elevator system in my building requires you to go up one elevator to floors 12 or 19, then another set is on those floors to take you to 13-18 and 20-27.  It is the worst feeling in the world to not be able to speed up the elevator, let alone make the doors close faster!  I grabbed my purse, visibly scared my boss by letting her know I had to leave as Mark was going to the ER, and waited for the painfully slow elevators to take me down again.  I very much appreciate Mr. Rivera waiting for me, and for talking to us in the back of the ambulance.

After letting Mark’s mom know he was okay and breathing again, I was exiled to the waiting room while Mark was being checked over.  One of my lovely friends from home picked then to text me back, so I called and talked to her for 15 minutes.  I couldn’t tell if I was going to laugh or cry or both.  Talking calmed me down, and eventually they sent Mark out with a flow-meter to check his air during/after asthma attacks & a mini rescue inhaler.  We left, caught a bus to the train station, and saw a doughnut place right next to the train station.  Needing something fun and semi-normal, we grabbed a few doughnuts, rode the train & bus home & finally relaxed.  I’m making dinner while writing and debating going to Maunday Thursday service.

Mark now has an application in for the Chicago City College down the road about 20 minutes and should hear back soon.  The cost for 4 semesters is about $32,000 less than it would have been at UIC and they count you a resident after 30 days rather than a year.  They also have advisors specially designated to work with students who plan to transfer to 4 year schools.  Here’s hoping that goes well and Mark gets in, and that we both get some rest before work tomorrow!